Thursday, August 30, 2007

Producing the news in HD

GREAT article on producing a newscast in HD over at Engaget.

Check it HERE.

Indie film special effects

OK, here is a group of folks at the top of their game in special effects on a budget:

Something we can all aspire to!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The death of Blu-Ray?

Venturer Electronics has announced a $199 HD-DVD player that is supposed to ship in time for the 2007 holiday season. If that happens, it may spell out the death knell for Blu-Ray as the dominant standard for high definition DVDs. It does not qualify for the 8 free HD-DVD deal that Amazon did or the 5 free discs that you get with the Toshiba (the 8 disc deal would bring the Toshiba player in at about $80 if you count each disk's value at $20).

But when the consumer sees the player at $199, that will make a much larger difference in purchasing the unit as opposed to depending on the average Wal-Mart customer to do the math on the Toshiba deal.

Product announcement HERE

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Filmmaker's toolkit. Lightsaber to go into space

Just a couple of quick items here. Been pretty busy around here of late.

First off, check out this Film maker's Toolkit using WEB 2.0 HERE. This is a really nice site that has some great ideas (i.e. location scouting with Microsoft Live Local sat pics and Google Earth). I actually used NASA's World Wind to scout locations for The Aquarium. Lots of other cool tricks here as well.

In other news, NASA is sending Luke Skywalker's original Lightsaber prop into space on the shuttle to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. I love this kind of stuff. I love how NASA embraces science fiction and the pop culture surrounding it and acknowledging the influence of these phenomenon on the space program. Check it out HERE.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Paramount HD-DVD update.

Here is an interview with Alan Bell, CTO of Paramount, on the HD-DVD deal.


I am not sure that I buy all of that. I am sticking with the payola theory. It just makes more sense. Either that or there is some bad blood with Sony somewhere here...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Adobe Flash Moviestar

I am sure this will be all over the blogs today, but Adobe has their next beta of Flash announced and one of the main changes is support for H.264 and AAC formats. You can read some in depth analysis of it HERE.

This is pretty huge. More thoughts later...

UPDATE: One might conclude that this is Adobe making nice with Apple. But why? This really makes no sense to me. I suspect that Apple will put flash on the iPhone, but that is SUCH a small thing that one has to wonder what Adobe has up its sleeve here...

Red one - Crossing the line Trailer

In case you missed this at NAB, RED has a 1K trailer for the Peter Jackson short film that was shot on the prototype RED camera up on the web.

Check it out HERE

UPDATE: You can try this mirror HERE if the above link does not work.

Monday, August 20, 2007

HD DVD Format war bombshell

Just real quick before I run out of the office here. Both Paramont and Dreamworks animation have announced exclusive support for Toshiba's HD-DVD format.

Check it HERE

UPDATE: OK, now I have a minute to post. My take on this is: I hate it. I own an HD-DVD player. I love the format. What I hate is this STUPID format war. It looked as though Blu-Ray was winning the war recently and I was fine with that. I just want a single format to become domanant. So that we can move on. This just throws another wrench into the works.

So why would Paramont / Dreamworks do this? Well, they are both businesses that exist to make a profit. So based on that we can make the following assumptions:

  • The Toshiba players are significantly cheaper than Blu-Ray so maybe there is greater market penetration for the HD-DVD format (this was not what I had heard but the low cost of the players is not to be ignored).
  • The phantom $150M incentive to the studios is true

I am not really sure what to make of it at this point. It flies in the face of everything that we have been hearing about Blu-Ray becoming the dominant player. They need to just kill off one or the other and move on. The stories of the PS3 being the main reason that Blu-Ray was the bigger player made sense to me.

UPDATE 8-22: Well it looks as though my last bullet item there is true. The New York times reports that Paramount / Dreamworks Animation did indeed receive $150M as an incentive to provide exclusive support for HD-DVD. Check out the article HERE (you have to sign up but it's free).

New release of Handbrake DVD->MP4

Handbrake is an open source (as such, it is FREE) Mac OS X application that is used to convert DVD to MPEG 4. Very nice if you want to put some DVD video on your iPhone or video iPod. Release 0.9.0 is now available and has the following major improvements:
  • User experience is improved through a re-envisioned Mac interface and a Windows interface that’s been rebuilt from the ground up.
  • Picture quality is improved through better image scaling, better deinterlacing, new filters for denoising, deblocking, inverse telecine, and new presets devoted to high quality settings.
  • Speed improvements due to updated copies of x264 and ffmpeg. This includes improved multi-threaded encoding for the iPod.
  • Compatibility is improved through new presets for devices like the iPhone and PSP. As well, HandBrake now supports DTS as an audio source and has limited support for .VOB and .TS file containers as input. Most excitingly, HandBrake can now output to the Matroska (MKV) file container.
  • Stability has been improved due to countless bug fixes. (Including audio drop and mp2 issues). Handbrake also has optional support for MP4 files larger than 4 gigabytes.
You can get it HERE

Friday, August 17, 2007

Semi, psuedo, quasi, sort-of OT:All Movie Talk

There is a nice weekly podcast that I listen to called All Movie Talk. It's hosted by Stephen Keller and Sam Stoddard. They do a 1 hour show once a week and do a top 6 list of films that have a particular characteristic or genre as well spotlights on directors or film genres and lots more.

It's a great podcast and you can subscribe to it on iTunes or check out their site HERE.

In the last episode, the top 6 lists were on great films that have gaping plot holes in them A couple of gems from this list were:

The Big Sleep - The chauffeur is killed but we never find out who did it. In fact, Howard Hawks called Raymond Chandler (the author of the story) up and asked him and he allegedly said "How the hell should I know?".

Citizen Kane - The film's premise is driven by a reporter who tries to discover what the meaning of Kane's last words were: "Rosebud". However, in the film when Kane dies and utters the famous "Rosebud" there is no one in the room to hear him say it. The nurse in the scene shows up after he has said it and has dropped the snow globe.

Casablanca - The plot device that drives the story here are the letters of transit. Once we get to the airport at the end, no one even uses the letters. They just get on the plane. Some other issues with the letters are pointed out in the podcast but you can check that out for yourself.

Audio editing and Sci-Fi story construction

A couple of links of interest. First up is an article on some tips and tricks when you are cutting talking heads footage. Some really nice stuff in here. Check it out HERE.

Also, if you are interested in doing a spec-script for the Sci-Fi channel, here are some guidelines for doing so. These are also applicable if you just want to write a formulaic Sc-Fi script. Check it out HERE.

Have a great weekend everyone and by all means, STAY COOL!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Creating color vignettes in Apple Color

Check out this nice article over at DVE on creating vignettes inside Apple Color for localizing corrections in a shot. You can see it HERE

Monday, August 13, 2007

Photoshop your next movie poster

Over at PhotoJoJo they have a BUNCH of very cool tutorials for making your own movie posters. Want that 300 look? You got it!

Check it out HERE

Friday, August 10, 2007

Pro tools - A vs. D

Just a quick note here. Digidesign has a very slick little test on their site. They mixed some music using Pro Tools and also mixed it on all analog equipment. You can listen to both and decide if you can hear the difference. Pretty innerestin stuff :)

Check it out HERE

Fair use

Fair use. This topic seems to crop up a lot. Where can I use copyrighted materials in my documentary / movie? What is the difference between royalty free and public domain? Etc. etc.

Well, here is a nice guideline:

Fair Use.

Now, with online video proliferating with sites like YouTube, the rules are being revisited. You can check them out HERE.

As to the answer regarding royalty free and public domain, you can think of it like this:

Royalty Free: Generally speaking, it means that you may use the content in your own projects however you see fit and never have to pay any royalty to the copyright holders. However... Royalty free agreements can differ between providers. Some may stipulate that you may use it only for not-for-profit. Others will say it's for use in your own projects in any way that you see fit but you cannot re-sell the material on it's own and so on. Be sure to carefully read the Royalty Free licensing agreement for any content that you plan on implementing.

Public Domain: In a nutshell: Public domain comprises the body of knowledge and innovation (especially creative works such as writing, art, music, and inventions) in relation to which no person or other legal entity can establish or maintain proprietary interests within a particular legal jurisdiction. This body of information and creativity is considered to be part of a common cultural and intellectual heritage, which, in general, anyone may use or exploit, whether for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Only about 15 percent of all books are in the public domain, and 10 percent of all books that are still in print.

If an item ("work") is not in the public domain, it may be the result of a proprietary interest such as a copyright, patent, or other sui generis right. The extent to which members of the public may use or exploit the work is limited to the extent of the proprietary interests in the relevant legal jurisdiction. However, when the copyright, patent or other proprietary restrictions expire, the work enters the public domain and may be used by anyone for any purpose.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Apple Announcements

Apple made some announcements today. The gist of it is new iMacs with new keyboards, a new iLife 08 with a ton of improvements and still $79. iWork again with a ton of improvements and the addition of Numbers - Apple's new spreadsheet (FINALLY!). Some changes to .MAC - Still $99 a year though...There are a LOT of cheaper alternatives to .MAC out there. They need to seriously lower the price.

All of the announced products are available today.

You can read full coverage HERE

Coupla links

A couple of film related links this morning.

First off is a new archive of Siskel and Ebert movie reviews: HERE

Second is a nice article on some asian filmmakers HERE

Third is and interview with the author of The Frodo Franchise over at Henry Jenkin's blog.

And finally, Core Melt's free Motion / FCP plugin for generating audio meters that react to sound. I know this one has been covered elsewhere but it's just too cool I would hate to have anyone miss it. Check it out HERE

I'll be blogging the last Hot Rod TV show that we did in the next few days as well as posting my process that Nancy and I are using to develop our reel so stay tuned!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Stop motion Lego Millenium Falcon

Just a quick update - caught this on YouTube - Talk about some dedication!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Apple Smooth Cam test

Did a quick test of Apple's Smoothcam effect in FCP6.

I just did a quick walk around the backyard here with a camera. Just holding the camera by it's handle so I knew it would be pretty shaky. You can see how much it zoomed the image in that clip. But overall, I am very impressed with the effect. With a little planning, you could easily make a walking handheld shot look like it was on a dolly.

The clip was about 2 minutes in length and took about 30 minutes for FCP to analyze the clip. Add another 10 minutes for rendering in the timeline (optional). This is on a MacPro quad 2.66ghz machine with 5GB RAM and the scratch drive is 10K RPM RAID 0 setup.

UPDATE: I should point out here that if you are going to try to simulate a dolly using SmoothCam, you should really try to hold the camera as steady as possible. Smoothcam, as with all of these types of technologies will require that the footage be zoomed in slightly after the effect has been applied.

Obviously, you are going to take a hit on the quality of the image. The more zoomed in the shot is, the more of a hit that you will take. So, the steadier the original shot is, the less that it will have to be zoomed in and will mitigate the quality issues that you will have to deal with.