Friday, November 23, 2007
Although filmmakers are scrambling to create HD content, the infrastructure to distribute and view that content is not at all firm. So, the filmmaker is faced with a difficult choice--what frame rate and format to shoot?
For a filmmaker, the safest bet seems to be to either shoot 1080 60i--1080 lines, 60 frames interlaced, or 1080 24p--1080 lines, 24 frame progressive. (In PAL land, the two options would be 1080 50i and 1080 24p.)
Maybe the best thing to do is to shoot 2-3 minutes of test footage at both frame rates. Then convert both samples to three final products: broadcast, film, and DVD.
I'll probably run this test before I shoot my next project, and choose the project's frame rate depending on how the conversion process goes, and what the final product look like.
Friday, November 16, 2007
We began my making a wish-list of people. We later called these folks "the notables." We chose people of outstanding integrity and accomplishments in film and journalism.
Next we asked everyone we knew if they knew anyone who could help us contact the notables. Help and answers began trickling in. We now have packages off to the notables, and with luck we shall soon have endorsements by people we respect.
A couple observations about endorsements:
- Endorsements (2-4 line reviews for the back cover of the book) are the fuel that keeps the marketing engine running. They are more important than I ever suspected.
- Celebrity endorsements are the best fuel of all.
- The hard thing about celebrity endorsements is reaching the celebrity. Getting the endorsement is easier.
- The best time to get endorsements is well before the book marketing engine starts to rev up. Getting them late in the publishing cycle is frustrating and painful.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
After throwing out my earlier draft and re-thinking the idea behind the camera book, I realized that the how-to information was central to the book. I restructured the book around what is known as a "task analysis." A task analysis simply asks, "What does the user (reader) have to actually do?"
With this focus, the organization and content of the book quickly fell into place.
Everything I've read so far leads me to favor the Canon XH-A1.
Not the least of the Canon's attraction is a $600 Canon Console program that turns a laptop into an engineering console with a real time vectorscope and waveform monitor.
I'd rather wait until after NAB (April) when new cameras come out, and prices on current cameras go down, but I need the camera before then.
I have long believed that audiences will tolerate a lousy story, and may sit through crummy images, but they will walk out if the sound sucks.
Links to The Ten Commandments of Sound for Picture by Christian Dolan.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Saturday, November 3, 2007
"I watch as many documentaries as I can," says Ken Burns, whose seven-part, 14-hour World War II epic The War starts on pbs September 23. "We are really in the golden age of documentaries right now." Some of his recommendations of classic films and filmmakers worth seeking out:
1 Robert Flaherty's groundbreaking Arctic silent Nanook of the North (1922)
2 John Grierson's Night Mail (1936): "A beautiful film that followed the mail from Edinburgh, Scotland, to London, England. Just an amazing black-and-white film."
3 Frederick Wiseman and John Marshall's Titicut Follies (1967): "Still one of the best cinema vérité films of all time."
4 Albert and David Maysles' rockumentary Gimme Shelter (1970)
5 Errol Morris, director of The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War: "I loved Errol Morris from the very beginning. I think he's one of our great filmmakers."
6 Jeff Blitz's Spellbound (2002): "Amazing film about a spelling bee— who thought you could be at the edge of your seat worrying about that?"
7 Michael Moore: "You'd obviously want to study Michael Moore to understand how propaganda works."
"My style has eight elements: four oral and four visual. The visual would be the interviews, the footage, the live cinematography, and the still photographs. The oral dimensions are the third-person narration—"the voice of God"—the first-person chorus of voices, assorted readers, and then a complicated sound effects track to complement authentic music. Each one of my films engages these in varying degrees, so they seem to be radically different, you know? To those who say they're the same, I have to remind them of the diversity and the authenticity of the style."
The colors are excellent, and the resolution is high enough to allow "pixel for pixel" mapping of the HD signal. The price is very good when compared to other HD monitors on the market.
As with all monitors, it should be calibrated regularly -- every 4-8 months for home use, once every month for professional use.
Friday, November 2, 2007
From the Tor site:
Tor is a software project that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Tor protects you by encrypting your communications and bouncing them around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world. Tor works with many of your existing applications, including web browsers, instant messaging clients, remote login, and other applications based on the Internet's TCP protocol.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world use Tor for a wide variety of reasons: journalists and bloggers, human rights workers, law enforcement officers, soldiers, corporations, citizens of repressive regimes, and just ordinary citizens. See the overview page for a more detailed explanation of what Tor does, why this diversity of users is important, and how Tor works.
Contributors are mostly working cinematographers in the motion picture industry.
DCS is a good source for no-nonsense camera evaluations and technical tips. Membership highly recommended.
Annual Membership Dues: $30 US
Membership Benefits include:
•A monthly eNewsletter covering the latest developments in Digital Cinema technology and techniques.
•DCS networking events, seminars and educational classes.
•Streaming web access to DCS activities.
•Access to the Digital Cinema Society’s on-line Q&A forum, classifieds, job boards, and a database of members’ resumes and services.
•Screenings, including new major digital releases and members’ own digitally created content.
•Discounts and special offers on products, trade publications, industry events and professional services.
The documentary was produced and directed by cinematographer James Mathers, founder of the Digital Cinema Society.