Sydney, 1966 Things are going well for me. I live on the 11th floor of Blues Point Tower. My view is the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the famous Opera House.
I drive six miles north to Channel 9 in Artarmon, a quiet Sydney suburb dominated by TCN9’s huge transmitter. I have a rent-free office where I make documentaries and clips for Channel 9 shows like Bandstand.
Last month ABC Channel 2 asked me to shoot segments for their This Day Tonight program. I feel guilty editing them at Channel 9.
Set among the bayous, bars and revival tents of rural Louisiana, HBO’s anthology series True Detective follows a pair of investigators (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) through a years-long investigation that begins with the discovery of the victim of a bizarre, ritualistic murder and only gets stranger from there. Much of what makes this eight-episode story particularly dark is the fact that writer/creator Nic Pizzolatto is at least as interested in the emotional turmoil motivating his detectives as he is in their investigation. Both lead characters have demons to fight and it’s not at all clear that their very human frailties transform them into superhuman sleuths.
Though the adoption timeline is debated, 4K is clearly the future (high resolution pun intended). In the next few years we’re going to see more high-end editorial shops and post facilities adopt 4K workflows to remain competitive in their markets. As the industry embraces the format, there are still a number of hurdles to overcome with regard to the production chain, primarily acquisition and drive bottlenecks.
32 Years of Tips
“Tips to Clip” is the longest-running column in the industry. For 32 years it has been a reader favorite, offering videographers ideas and inventions to improve their productions. Over the years the philosophy has remained the same: bringing you the knowledge of generous professionals who are willing to share their ideas on doing the job easier, faster and cheaper.
Thank you for your loyalty and the contributions you send in that make this column possible.
“X” or “scissor” clamps were originally designed to suspend macramé from ceilings in offices, but with a little imagination, they are serving a number of lighting functions.
The editing world includes a number of software options—such as Autodesk Smoke, Grass Valley EDIUS, Lightworks, Media 100, Sony Vegas and Quantel—but the lion’s share of editing is performed on three platforms: Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro. For the last two years many users have been holding onto legacy systems, wondering when the dust would settle and one editing system would regain market dominance.
Director Richard Linklater’s epic film Boyhood, which will be released this spring, represents an interesting cinematic experiment: it was shot over the course of 12 years. “Linklater and the cast [including Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane] would take a few weeks each year to shoot the movie, essentially filming another chapter in the fictional family’s life,” says Steven Zeitchik, writing about the film, “so that you’re watching a child (and his parents) grow up before your eyes.”
Recently Band Pro Film & Digital delivered my new set of Summicron-C lenses. I’d always loved Leica M and R still lenses and was impressed by the Leica Summilux-Cs—the new Summicrons carry over some of the best traits of both of these and also seem to have just the right size/cost/performance ratio. The lenses are extremely well built. Despite their smaller size, there’s a nice weight to them that feels right. The markings are well laid out and the focus gears rotate very smoothly.
When I shot Much Ado About Nothing for director Joss Whedon, we used the Lensbaby Composer with Double Glass Optic on a Canon EOS 7D to shoot all of the flashback sequences. Joss was a bit apprehensive when I first suggested the idea. He didn’t want the flashbacks to look cheesy and forced. When I began testing the look, I shot with a fully open iris. It was too much for him. Not wanting to give up, I dropped in an f/4 iris disc and it gave us a slightly reduced and elegant version of the Lensbaby look. Joss loved it. There was no question that it was the way to go for all the flashbacks.
Director of photography Jon Nelson, owner of Production Hero in Orange County, Calif., recently acquired a Fujinon PL 19-90 Cabrio (model ZK4.7x19) Premier PL Mount cinema-style zoom lens, which he paired with a Sony PMW-F55 CineAlta 4K digital cinema camera. “While image quality is without question extremely important, I decided to buy this particular camera and lens because they offer very beneficial operational and logistical advantages,” Nelson explains.
Set in 1963, The Watsons Go to Birmingham depicts a fictional family’s road trip as it intersects with a true-life bombing during the turbulent civil rights era. Cinematographer James Chressanthis, ASC, used two Canon EOS C300 cameras and Canon’s EF series lenses to help with some of the film’s challenging production requirements.
The ARRI Ultra Wide Zoom (UWZ) is of really stunning quality, with none of the distortion you would expect from such wide focal lengths. The image stays rock solid. I immediately realized that this lens would be great for shooting architecture or any other situation where you need to maintain straight lines in the frame.
To create the appropriate feel for the film 42, which follows the story of Jackie Robinson, the first player to break through baseball’s color barrier, director Brian Helgeland called on the talents of director of photography Don Burgess, ASC. “This is a striking story. I needed to reflect the passions and excitement of the drama as it unfolded,” explains Burgess. “One way to help create the mood was through the use of filters.
Keeping a consistent look on a multicamera shoot is always a challenge. Mike & Molly cinematographer Gary Baum has found that shooting four HD cameras simultaneously might not give him the luxury of multiple lighting setups within a scene, but he can get the lighting and lenses to match by using Schneider Optics Classic Soft 1/8 and 1/4 filters.
The return of show creator Dan Harmon as executive producer/showrunner and the exit of actor Chevy Chase are not the only changes on NBC’s Community for 2014, the show’s fifth season. Returning cinematographer Gary Hatfield also changed production formats, switching from shooting the series on the ARRI Alexa to Sony’s F55.
Ricardo Rivera hopes that attendees at this year’s Sundance Film Festival will be transfixed by the elaborate artistic display projected onto the façade of Park City’s Egyptian Theater. The work, called The Projectionist, devised via Rivera’s Philadelphia-based company KLIP Collective, makes use of the projection mapping process he pioneered that brings new life to vintage structures. KLIP Collective showed a projection mapping project at Sundance last year, the bizarre piece What’s He Building in There?, though at a more remote Park City location. This year the KLIP team is also responsible for the short intro that rolls before every screening at Sundance, which takes place January 16-26 in Park City, Utah.
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“Compact” is the word of the year. DSLRs have earned their spot as integral tools in the video production arsenal, and manufacturers are increasingly offering miniature cameras with professional cinematography features, such as the Pocket Cinema Camera from Blackmagic Design. Even with their outsized imaging capabilities, though, these smaller cameras have a weakness: audio recording.
I’ve been anticipating getting my hands on a ring light for quite a while. Having a dimmable source of illumination right next to your lens is a perfect lighting solution for many situations. Not only will you add a bit of brightness, you’ll also be putting a sparkle in your talent’s eye. Recently I was offered Rosco’s new LitePad Loop Pro Kit for review.
For many shooters today, the watchword is “compact.” Cameras are smaller and, unfortunately, limited budgets mean crews are smaller as well. Throw a DSLR and a couple of lenses in a backpack, add some cards and a few extra batteries, strap your tripod to the backpack and all you need is lighting. The run-and-gun shooter may find himself in a variety of lighting environments over the course of the day and needs a kit that can accommodate them all.