Friday, October 26, 2007

Skim -- for making notes on PDFs

Skim is a PDF reader and note-taker for OS X. It is designed to help you read and annotate scientific papers in PDF, but is also great for viewing any PDF file.

Yet another reason to convert to Mac.

Vista is apparently the biggest reason.

Two people now have said almost the exact same thing to me, "I bought a new laptop, and it had Vista on it... it's awful. I wish I still had XP..."

Can Vista be that bad? Maybe not, but I know I won't be trying it any time soon...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

HD Video direct to the Internet

In today's HD Studio magazine, Michael Grotticelli writes about two products that move data directly from HD cameras to a network.

This may be the future of HD acquisition.

In this future, HD video goes directly from the camera to an Internet gateway, and from there to a studio anywhere in the world.

No more need for the camera to have it's own recording media. Instead, the signal is simply transmitted to a nearby wireless access point connected to a laptop or Internet gateway.

QvidiumHD 1394 IP gateway

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Trust building

For the past couple years I've been doing 'ghost writing'. Working on a ghost written book is an odd sort of endeavor, it's closer to a marriage than a job. I believe that a good ghost written book is only possible when there is intimacy, truthfulness and openness between the co-author and the writer.

When my co-author and I have a fundamental trust of each other, everything works. Drafts get finished, books go to the publisher, difficulties are worked out and resolved.

Without trust, nothing works. It becomes impossible to solve the simplest problem. Misunderstandings multiply and become malignant. This has led me to think about trust and how it is created between two people.

Real trust is not given, or granted, it is only earned. And the earning of trust takes time. There is no substitute.

Thus the phrase--common in documentary filmmaking circles-- of "trust building." As one filmmaker told me, "Trust building is the heart of documentary filmmaking."

Writing clearly on a deadline

Exerpted from an article by Steve Buttry, Writing Coach, Omaha World-Herald, February 2001

... If possible, write as you report.

... Start putting the information from your last interview into story form. Even if you don't know where it will go in the story yet, start writing paragraphs that will fit somewhere.

... Write a lede based on what you know so far.

...Writing in chunks can lead to choppy writing. You need to fix this.

... Decide early what your minimum story is, the story that answers the basic who, what, when, where questions. This is the story that allows you to keep drawing a paycheck next week.

... Decide early what your maximum story might be, the story that readers will be talking about at work and in coffee shops the next day, and marks you as a star.

...Identify immediately the potential sources who could provide the information for the minimum story and get the information from them as quickly as possible. Then you zero right in on the sources who might provide the maximum story.

... Before and after each interview, assess quickly what you still need to nail down the minimum or maximum story. Go quickly to those elements in your questioning.

... If you don't have time to interview all the desired sources, avoid those who will waste your time with redundant information.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Amercian Copy Editor Society

All things about copy editing.

ACES the American Copy Editors Society

Monday, October 15, 2007

D200 - Exceptional camera and lens combo

Stumbled across what looks like an exceptional digital
camera and lens combination
while researching the "Camera book."

It's the Nikon D200, 10.2 Megapixel SLR with Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II Autofocus Lens.

Reviews are extraordinary.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Switching to Final Cut Pro

Another learning curve arrives...

I finally made the decision to switch to Apple Final Cut Pro.

I made the decsion for three reasons:
1. All the filmmakers that I'm working with are using FCP.
2. After going to the confusing Adobe site and trying to figure out what I'd have to buy to upgrade my current version of Premiere Pro, I concluded that Adobe's latest version of Premiere would be almost twice the price of FCP!
3. Adobe's past practice of changing user interfaces radically when they upgrade Premiere.

To run FCP, I'm buying a used Apple G5 computer with dual 2.3 Ghz processors and 1.5 gig of RAM.

New Sony HD camera

The new Sony PMW-EX1 HD camera looks ideal for indies and low-budget docs. Small, lightweight and because everything is solid state--no tape drive--rugged.

It shoots variable frame rates and records up to 140 minutes of HD on flash memory. Pretty impressive for an $8K camera.

The Sony PMW EX1 shoots full 24 frame 1080p, and has a 14x Fujinon lens with manual focus and a real iris ring.

Camera to be released in November. No info yet on how to get all the gorgeous footage into FCP.

The Sony product brochure says you can record 140 minutes of HD on two 16 GB flash cards. No word on what the cards cost, but they will be pricey. Before buying this camera, I'd want to see how to get the images from the cards into an FCP editing system.