Saturday, May 29, 2010

Zacuto DSLR Shootout part 3 is up

http://www.zacuto.com/shootout

This is a great series that compares a sampling of the current crop of HDSLR cameras to film.  Part 3 is up that covers keying, simulated raw and frame blowup as well as a couple of shorts shot on HDSLR.

If you are at all interested in the future, these are a must see.  Highly respected industry professionals share their insights with the results as well.  These videos can be a bit talky at the beginning but if you let them queue up a bit you can skip that.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Our lives in the cloud

We have all heard the flap over Facebook's sharing of private user data with advertisers.  And recently about Google collecting data on users.  Google.  You know, the "Don't be evil" guys.  Well, Facebook is a primary resource for lawyers to research their opposition, potential jurors, plaintiffs and defendants...

Recently, in a custody case, a father was testifying to obtain custody of his child and asserted that he had reformed and had not had a drink in over a year.  The lawyer for the wife presented a picture of him from his facebook page that showed him drinking a few months prior to the trial...

Many of us maintain email accounts on Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail among others.  All web based services that maintain all of our data on their servers.  Additionally, services such as Google Apps or even the more recent Adobe online screenplay authoring tools and Photoshop online products place our information, preferences, location and proprietary works onto the servers of companies with whom most people just tend to place blind trust into.

The public posture of these companies regarding user privacy tends to be one that sounds like they are acting in good conscience.  But we as consumers of these services need to be diligent in our use of said services and to assume that these companies will not act appropriately with our privacy.

This is not to say that these service providers will act maliciously against us.  However, the assumption that their agenda is aligned with that of their consumers is naive at best and dangerous at worst.  It is incumbent upon the consumers of these services to protect ourselves.  The assumption that the service providers will do that for us is, again, naive.

So what do WE as consumers need to do?  It's very simple.  Two things:

  1. Place ONLY information into our online activities that does not compromise our personal privacy.  We must ALWAYS assume that there is no privacy on the internet.  Not in emai, not in online applications, social websites - NOTHING.
  2. When we see that privacy is being compromised by any service provider we MUST speak out about this.  However, our tone must be one that gives the benefit of the doubt to the service provider.  This method of raising concern is more likely to be taken seriously than a "Sky is falling, everyone is spying on me" approach.
That's it.  Simple.  Do not depend on any service provider to maintain your privacy.  They may have a policy that protects the user but there are always individuals at any of these companies that can compromise our privacy without the knowledge of that company.

What does this have to do with filmmaking?  Nothing, specifically, however I know that a lot of my readers are active on forums, run their own blogs, use cloud based applications and it is important for all of us to act responsibly in the information age.

Be careful out there.

UPDATE: I should also point out that deleting your content from an online service provider only ensures that it is out of the public eye.  Service providers do backups and maintain historical records that are obtainable via court order.  And, then there is always THIS.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Story boarding and inspirations

After many, many iterations, I finalized the script for Thicker Than Blood recently and those that have read it have urged me to get this made.  And so it begins...

I began story boarding it about a week ago and I have the first scene completed (about 2 minutes and 40 seconds total).  It takes me a while to do this as I do not do it in the traditional fashion.  I do it with a 3D application called Lightwave 3D.  Basically it's a competitor to Maya or 3DS Max.  In this process, I have to build all of the sets and props, set the scene and animate all of it.  I create a VO of the dialog in the film and bring the final animations into FCP and edit it all together, adding the VO and sound effects.

This allows me to create every setup that will be in the film, to pre-visualize all of it and basically create the entire film on the computer.  This is really a wonderful way to do this since I get to see everything before I ever roll the camera.  I know what each setup will be.  I know how long each shot will be.  I can experiment with multiple camera angles on a scene to see which of these best serves the story.

Then, once we are on set, we have already shot the film in the storyboard.  We have every aspect of it planned out to the most minute detail.  This makes for a fast paced shoot and minimizes wasted time on the set.  It does not, however, preclude changing it at the last minute.  If some improvement presents itself on the day of the shoot, it will be explored.  But, when all else fails, we have the plan to fall back on.  To quote the old addage: Plan the shoot and shoot the plan.

One thing that Nancy excels at is over-preparation.  Invariably when we do a gig, we are prepared for every contingency.  But this makes for a very organized and fast shoot.  When noon hits and people are getting hungry, we are ready for it and we are on schedule.  Hitchcock always story-boarded every shot in his films.  When he got on the set, the film was already shot.  He just had the mechanics of putting it on film to deal with...

OK, enough rambling about story-boards.  Now for the inspiration...

I have not really spoken about the new DSLRs that are being used for video.  However, that does not mean that I have been stuck in a dark room with my head in the sand.  Nancy and I have been tracking these developments with great interest.  We watched the season closer of House M.D. last night that was shot on the Canon 5D MkII and it was very impressive.  These cameras are amazing.  And SO small that you can really get them into a very tight situation with ease.  I love that idea.

With all of that being said, and with no further ado, I offer to you a short film shot on the 5D MKII by Shane Hurlbut ASC.  It's called The last 3 Minutes and it is just stunning.  This, my friends, is truly inspiring work:

The Last 3 Minutes

Making of part 1

Making of part 2

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Maltese Falcon

Nancy and I attended a screening last night at the AMPAS HQ's Samuel Goldwyn theater last night as part of the AMPAS's Film Noir series.  Last night they presented The Maltese Falcon.  The show was preceded by a series of cartoons and trailers.  The idea being that they wanted to emulate the theater going experience as it was in the 40s.  The screening was introduced by Lawrence Kasdan who offered a number of insights into the film

The Good

The print was very very clean.  The SG theater in the AMPAS HQ is clean as a whistle.  None of the normal theater issues were present.  No one talked during the film.  No cell phone went off.  My feet did not stick to the floor.  The sound was excellent.  Mr. Kasdan offered some nice insights into the film and it was very clear that he is a HUGE fan of this film (as am I) admitting to having seen it more than 20 times.  The daughter and granddaughters of Dashiell Hammett were in attendance and informed the MC and Mr. Kasdan that his name is pronounced DASH - EELE.  Not DASH-ALL as most folks would have assumed and have probably heard Hollywood say countless times in the past.

The Bad

Well, not too much bad here.  Nance had not seen the film in many years and was displeased that Mr. Kasdan pointed out a large number of the humorous gags in the film.  She likened it to a trailer that has all of the good jokes in it.  Other than that it was a packed house.  We got there around 6:45 and it took the ushers quite some time to find 2 seats together for Nance and I.

If you have the opportunity to attend one of these I highly recommend it.