Monday, February 25, 2008

Life is what happens to you

when you're busy making other plans - John Lennon.

Well this weekend I was supposed to get the review of Magic Bullet's Frames done and posted this weekend but instead I spent the weekend doing VO work for a documentary. So the Frames review is postponed until next weekend.

In other news, with the demise of HD-DVD, one of my fears with HD disk delivery mediums has been that whoever won would now have ZERO competition. They would have this market all to themselves. Guess what? This is exactly what is happening. Consider this quote from the DP Buzz with Larry Jordan:

"In a recent conversation with Bruce Nazarian, president of the DVD Association, during The BuZZ podcast, we were discussing the sudden shift toward Blu-Ray HD DVDs. While Blu-Ray may be good for Hollywood, it won't be good for small independent producers.

This is due to all the hidden fees tacked on to replicating a Blu-Ray DVD.For example, producers of industrial and non-broadcast content are required to pay a $2,500 licensing fee to author and distribute Blu-Ray.Then, each producer is required to pay a $3,000 one-time AACS license fee, plus a per-title fee for EACH replicated Blu-Ray disc. Currently, Sony DADC is quoting that fee at $1,585 per title (per complete Blu-ray disc project).

Then there's the per disc replication cost, which varies by quantity, and finally, there's a $0.04 per disc fee for AACS and $0.01 per disc if you want SONY DADC to administer the payments to AACS on your behalf.

As Bruce indicates, we may be standardizing on Blu-Ray, but the prices won't be cheap."

My fears, realized. *sigh*.

Well, on a positive note, Brad Bird got an Oscar as did Daniel Day Lewis. On the DD Lewis front, I thought this was a great choice. I have not yet seen "There will be Blood" but I had heard about it and heard that DDL was starring in it. So I watched the trailer and got about half way through before it dawned on me what role DDL was playing. It was absolutely jaw dropping.

And finally, two of my favorite filmmakers, The Cohen Brothers, walked away with 3 oscars - Best Screenplay adaptation, Best director and Best picture. Nice.

Friday, February 22, 2008

OS X keyboard shortcuts

So today I was trying to remember how to take a screenshot in OS X so that I can include it in a presentation that I am doing (Applications/Utilities/Grab is the app you need for this...). A quick search on the net turned up a VERY nice site for keyboard reference on the Mac.

Check it out HERE.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

HD-DVD - An editorial

Many years ago (more than I care to think about) I was an avid collector of Laserdiscs. Attracted to the format because of letterboxing and director commentaries, the format was a film geek's dream. During this period I went into a video store to peruse their selection of discs and met Steve, the manager.

Steve and I have been friends since that day many years ago. Steve was the only person I had run into who had a passion for films and collecting Laserdiscs that exceeded my own (at the end of my disc collecting days, I had about 1000 movies - I think Steve had 2000 when he stopped).

As the HD format began to take hold, Steve bought a D-VHS deck. I laughed and asked him why. To answer that, I can say that he is the only person that I know who has the ability to record HD. When HD-DVD and Blu-Ray came along and the players were about $1000, I demurred figuring that the format wars would be short lived and the player prices would drop.

Well, the war is over. The player prices dropped long before the war ended. I bought the HD-DVD add on for the xBox 360 for $200. $200 was my "oh what the hell" price point for this stuff. Since that time, I have purchased about 8 HD-DVDs. I have no real regrets there. I still have the films that I wanted in that format and I will be able to enjoy them until my drive fails.

Ahh, but Steve - His passion still reigns supreme. After the fall of HD-DVD, he made a posting over on the AVS Forums. I thought that the post brought up some great issues and also conveyed a point of view that was rational and pragmatic. I'll let you read it for yourself here:

Thanks to HD DVD, I own 90% of the titles I'd want from ANY 'exclusive' studio already. With BD, the rest are rounded out. Sure, we don't have Alien, Star Wars, Jurassic, etc., but I have had those on at least two formats already. I'll buy 'em when they come out, but not excited like I was for HD DVD.

Even if, when, the HD DVD studios begin releasing the content on BD, it could take years to 'catch up' on what already exists. I don't know about you, but I am certainly glad to have had the opportunity for the last few years to have these movies in HD. Movies like "The Thing," were a must for my collection, and I'd probably have bought a player if it was out on SHMSHQX DVD Aquamarine-ray.

Case in point. I don't know about you, but I like the movie "Fight Club." I had the DVD with all those special features, etc., but thanks to D-VHS DTheater, I could watch the MOVIE in HD! I've watched that tape quite a few times over the last FIVE YEARS! Five years is a long time.

So when the first HD format on optical disc was released, I jumped in with a who cares attitude. I committed to buying the G1 HD DVD player, along with the Blu-ray G1 player. And every movie that comes out on both formats for the first year. I did, and I don't regret any of it. There have been many superb releases out of nowhere, and even I was surprised at the catalog selection the studios chose to release as their early HD movies.

When I went to a DTheater love-in at Widescreen Review back in 2000, there was lots of talk on AVS about "HD Discs in a year." I said three, we were both wrong. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but HD DVD was a little quicker at the bat.

Like a good "Scooby Doo" episode, it could be said that Blu-ray might say "We would have gotten away with this if it weren't for you meddling kids..." Toshiba beat them to the punch bad. So bad, 'they' (not Sony), are now getting sued for their G1 player (which I own). It really does suck they didn't have a 'complete' spec out of the gate. I still bought one, and so did a few others. $999. Now = doorstop.

Sony only pushed BD out when they did because of HD DVD. Period. We all know it wasn't ready, and any happy BD person likely had a PS3 (still the fastest, most reliable player). Loading times were similar between the two previously, and both had firmware updates in order to play new titles.

HD DVD was exciting, something cool & new, like when DVD first came out. I was a LaserDisc guy, and DVD was not nearly as cool when it came out. The whole first batch of Warner DVDs was recalled due to quality issues (my store was in the test market). When they got it together, it opened a whole new angle. Anamorphic DVDs on widescreen TVs, and (sometimes) better sound than LD. Way better than VHS, which didn't take much.

As they refined encoding & mastering, studios like Disney & Fox began to unload their classics, and the format took hold. VHS stuck around for a long, long time. People are stupid, you know that. You have no idea how many times I've explained widescreen/letterbox & resolution to people. Not any more. If you can't figure it out, then bummer for you!

I said at the beginning of this whole thing, if you don't have a player, you don't "care" about HD. Most people didn't, and a few saw something at their friend's house, etc. By HD DVD coming onto the scene, it forced BD to up their standards (Fifth Element anyone?), and rethink the entire strategy.

So much they were essentially forced into buying friends, which really is just business. One thing I did notice is, BD marketing often slammed HD DVD, whereas never the other way around. I actually heard a voice over in a demo in BB while walking by that said "HD DVD is more compressed, so the audio is compressed, and it doesn't sound as good as Blu-ray!" True or not, crappy.

Does anyone remember the first HD DVDs from Warner?

"Welcome to HD DVD, you put the disc in and the movies starts!" Freakin' Finally! I hated Disney for their 12 previews on VHS, the first unskippable previews on DVD, etc. Now what did oh lovely BD bring us? Stupid 12 previews in front of the movie! I counted 11 skips I had to do to get to the movie (that I purchased). Too bad, so sad.

Fox makes some great movies. Fox makes some crap, no extras catalog titles for $39.99. You know what they can do with those. I paid $59.99 for Fantastic Voyage and Planet of the Apes on LaserDisc. In 1990. Oh I'll probably still buy em on Blu-ray. BUT I WON'T BE HAPPY ABOUT IT!

I think that is the main difference here. HD DVD was a new, logical choice to follow DVD. Likely the last ditch of optical disc formats before downloads (or what have you) become prevalent. Remember the picture outside of BB and the video of the guy getting his A1? Show me one "Yay I got Blu-ray player" video. :)

We were corned into Blu-ray, because the dominant company wants format royalties. There is no winner here. Has there ever been a winner of any WAR? Ever? Not really. I personally know people who work in BD, and I like to tease them with "Be careful what you wish for! Now you have it all! Yay!" Should be interesting.

Heck, I remember getting angry at the studios releasing New Releases 30 days after video to Pay-Per-View, because it cuts into rentals. That was 10 years ago! How are we renting or buying anything still? Shouldn't we have long ago had instant on-demand HD super-duper everything right at our fingertips?

I own lots of HD discs, and I will continue to enjoy them. After getting an A1, an XA1, and then an A35, it will sit nicely under my BD30, with a PS3 for love. Yes you would need them all now, if you want to enjoy the full benefits of HD optical media.

- A35 for bitstream, and all those awesome HD DVDs that won't be out for a while on BD (even if they start tomorrow)

- BD30 for bitstream, and way faster than the BD-P1000

- PS3 for PCM, games, streaming, etc. Pretty cool box, does a lot.

IMHO, the A35 is 95% perfect (XA2 theoretically better upscaler), but I wish I could say the same RIGHT NOW about any of my BD pieces. PCM issue on BD30, no DTS-MA on PS3, BD-P1000 not even worth a hundred bucks now!

And Fox not releasing ANYTHING all that time? Shame on you. Delaying the rest of the titles in to oblivion? (Red Dawn, From Hell, etc). And shame on Weinstein, you should have given us Grindhouse Day & Date.

Unfortunately, it is common knowledge that certain directors have some control over their content, or we would have many more A-titles on either format. I do know that SS saw CE3K on BD, and up until then had no idea what EITHER format were. So there.

They have all been seriously wasting our time, and I hope now they get their stupid act together and start giving us what we want. Isn't that the point of this whole entertainment industry thing? You give us what we want, we give you money. Is there some basic problem with that? While I have purchased more HD discs than should be allowed by law, I would have more if they existed. Ya can't string this one out forever like DVD! This is 2008!

I don't know about you, but I'll still buy their (good and bad) movies if they keep releasing them, but the love is LONG, long gone baby...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Beautiful camerawork

I am a frequent visitor over at the Rebel Cafe and through that discussion group I met a young filmmaker who goes by the handle GageFX. Gage has been working on an indie feature that he wrote and is directing. He recently posted some footage that he did while messing around with a steadicam and some rollerblades. Check it out HERE.

He calls it the Bladecam.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Game over for HD-DVD - Updated

MS-NBC is reporting that Toshiba is considering abandoning the HD-DVD format.

Article HERE.

With the number of studios dropping the format and Netflix, Wal-Mart et. al. supporting only Blu-Ray, I think it's safe to say... Game Over. Finally.

UPDATE: NHK confirms it HERE.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Anyone who has read this blog for a year or more knows that my personal favorite film is Raiders of the lost Ark. I hated Temple of Doom. I really liked Last Crusade. Well, the trailer for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is up over at Yahoo.

Check it out HERE. Go watch it and then come back for my comments on this.

I had seen a still of Harrison Ford on the set of this film 6 months ago. When I heard that they were doing another film and that Harrison would reprise his role I was VERY skeptical. I felt he was too old to pull it off. After I saw the still I thought OK, maybe he CAN do this.

Now I see the trailer and while it's clear, he has the physical acumen to do the role, there are a couple of issues for me. He looks a LOT older than he did in Crusade. That's fine. But the film appears to take place in the late 40s, early 50s (I could be wrong - just going on what I see in the trailer). I find it implausible that the character would have aged this much in that short of a period of time - Yes, you can rationalize it by saying that with all he has been through on his adventures, it's amazing he looks as good as he does.

But that is a rationalization that just won't fly for me. So, age issues aside, I liked the trailer except for the line he used when he falls into the windshield of the truck. "Damn, I thought that was closer". I just sounded BAD to me. Maybe I am being too harsh, after all, this is just a trailer. But the bar is set pretty high here. I would like to see them just hit the bar. They don't have to leap over it. Will I go and see it in the theaters when it comes out? Damn right I will :)

FCP Tip and the next review.

Been a slow week for news for us to blog - Yes, Aperature 2 is out, yes Apple TV Take 2 was released, yes it looks like HD-DVD is dead after all. But you can read about that stuff on 21 jiggazillion blogs out there. So here is an FCP tip to hold you over until our next article.

(Thanks to Nance for this one)


If you position the playhead over a specific frame in the timeline and you want to know exactly where that frame is located in your media, press f. This will load the clip into the viewer and position you at the same frame that you have the playhead positioned over in the timeline. The menu command to do this is View->Matchframe.

Hope everyone had a great Valentine's day - I am sure Hallmark did :)

The next review

Oh yeah - I mentioned the next review that I'll be doing. That will be coming up next weekend. I'll be reviewing Red Software's Magic Bullet Frames. Since we shoot 1080i HDV, this software has some real potential value for us here at B-Scene.

Stay tuned :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

10.5.2 Intel update

Well, I applied the 105.2 Leopard update to the first of our Intel machines here at B-Scene. I tested out all of the FCS applications just as I did on the PPC machine. Also tested Color and Logic 8. No issues on any of the applications.

I'll still wait to update Nance's machine since she is mid-project at the moment.

Leopard 10.5.2 PPC update results

Updated the G4 laptop last night. Tested out FCP 6.0.2, did some capture, choppin, filters, CC and some rendering. No issues. Exported to a couple of formats with Compressor 3. No issues. Tested Soundtrack Pro 2, Motion 3 - All worked without a hitch.

Gonna update the first of the 2 Intel machines tonight. I'll post my results after I am done testing.

Users ARE reporting issues as you can see over at MacFixIt HERE.

Monday, February 11, 2008

OS X 10.5.2 update now available

Apple has release the 10.5.2 update for Leopard and it looks to be a doozy. Added functionality to stacks and added the ability to kill the transparency in the menu bar (yay) and a ton of other updates. You can check them out HERE.

I'll be updating the Laptop first so that I can check to see that there is no impact to FCS. I will post my findings here in the next day or so. in the mean time, HOLD OFF ON YOUR UPDATE!

The Laptop is my experimenter machine - Let's see if they have broken anything significant.

Netflix to go BluRay ONLY

Got an e-mail from NetFlix today - Seems they are going Blu-Ray ONLY now. They will not purchase any new HD-DVD titles after this month. Older (read: we already purchased them) HD-DVD titles will be available until the end of the year.

Maybe this stupid format war is drawing to a close. Boy I hope so. Here is the e-mail they sent:

We're Going Blu-ray

Dear Michael, You're receiving this email because you have asked to receive high-definition movies in the HD DVD format. As you may have heard, most of the major movie studios have recently decided to release their high-definition movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format.

In order to provide the best selection of high-definition titles for our members, we have decided to go exclusively with Blu-ray as well.While we will continue to make our current selection of HD DVD titles available to you for the next several months, we will not be adding additional HD DVD titles or reordering replacements.

Toward the end of February, HD DVDs in your Saved Queue will automatically be changed to standard definition DVDs. Then toward the end of this year, all HD DVDs in your Queue will be changed to standard definition DVDs. Don't worry, we will contact you before this happens.You can click here to change your format preferences.

We're sorry for any inconvenience. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please call us at 1 (888) 638-3549.-The Netflix Team

Roy Scheider dies at 75

NY Times article HERE.

Wow, what a loss. Jaws, The Seven Ups, French Connection, All that Jazz and on and on...

One of my favorite actors.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Writer's strike may be over

Slashdot is reporting Michael Eisner quoted as saying it's a done deal.

Check it HERE.

I hope it's done. More than that I hope that the writers have gotten the remuneration from online sales and a new deal for DVDs that they so richly deserve.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Apple joins Avid in blowing off NAB


Read into this whatever you feel is appropriate.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Quicktime 7.4.1 will release TODAY

This update will correct the issue with After Effects but will NOT correct the issue with Premiere Pro. This update will also correct an intermittent issue with the browser plugin component that caused some streaming video to fail.

It will be live for download this afternoon.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Movie sets

GageFX over at the Rebel Cafe pointed this one out.

A montage of various film a TV sets, behind the scenes HERE.