Being a professional videographer is about more than making pictures. It also means running the business office. This tip shared by Charles Prior of Sacramento, Calif., has helped me. Charles uses several rubber stamps in the course of doing paperwork, and occasionally some of his messages are stamped upside down. The solution is simple: a piece of tape with the words “Upside Down” in red ink on the stamp’s wrong side. Now he and I are warned whenever a stamp is misaligned.
Who Was That?
I’ve heard it called “a camera for all seasons.” Whether you are going to shoot in HD, 2K or 4K, Sony’s PMW-F55 CineAlta camera is living up to its promise of being a cost-effective yet feature-rich acquisition tool for digital cinema, TV production and live 4K presentations.
Peter Crithary, Sony Electronics
I’m sure many of you remember NAB Show 1996 where Sony and Panasonic introduced their DVCAM and DVCPRO formats. What was fascinating is both companies made great efforts to distance their new “pro” formats from “consumer DV.”
Now that quite a few raw cameras have come to market, we are in a different situation. Rather than companies working hard to create proprietary differences between their products—when at their codec heart—they are quite similar; we have companies not differentiating on the basis for their recording “format.” Instead, sensor size, sensor resolution, lens mount, and dynamic range are now key differentiators.
Raw: What It Is and What It Is Not
You know that there is almost nothing more exciting (to me) than learning about ways video is being used as the medium for innovative kinds of storytelling. I like to see how technology advances the possibility of creativity—as in Gravity—but I also like to read about/view/monkey around with more experimental, experiential uses of video.
When mild-mannered professor Adam Bell discovers he has an exact double, small-time movie actor Anthony St. Claire (both portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal), he becomes obsessed with his doppelgänger and the significance his existence might have on his own life. Enemy, from director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) and based on the novel The Double by Portuguese author José Saramago, unfolds in an ominous, unpredictable world, but one designed ultimately to feel real, not fantastic. Cinematographer Nicolas Bolduc, CSC, explains that he and the director wanted the film to parallel the claustrophobic feeling of the book, with everything from the architecture to the air itself feeling strange and dangerous.
Now in its fifth season, ABC’s top-rated comedy Modern Family has evolved its shooting style beyond the tight strictures of its first few seasons. James Bagdonas, ASC, has been an essential contributor to the development of the show’s look as the series’ director of photography and occasional director. When the show began, the concept for the production had certain cost savings built in.
The Blacklist is setting records for NBC this season. Two months into its run, NBC Universal execs said the series was the most-watched new NBC drama in nearly 20 years. The fact that it has also been setting records for DVR playback (as many as 6.5 million viewers per episode) is icing on the cake for the freshman FBI crime drama from Davis Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television. Also significant, the series is shot entirely in 4K.
This has been a very productive year for cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, ASC. He’s up for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Alexander Payne’s black-and-white road picture Nebraska, and he followed that up with George Clooney’s World War II adventure The Monuments Men. The former is inspired by the stark monochrome of The Last Picture Show and the latter by the colorful spirit of The Great Escape. Together, the two offer an excellent illustration of Papamichael’s versatility.
Comedy Central’s weekly half-hour scripted series Broad City, executive produced by Amy Poehler, stars Upright Citizens Brigade alums Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer as a pair of endearing, cash-strapped twentysomethings trying to survive in New York City.
Produced in New York by Paper Kite Productions, 3 Arts Entertainment and Jax Media, Broad City began as a web series in late 2009 and made the transition to television in January.
A gyro-stabilized three-axis gimbal system, Freefly Systems’ MoVI M10 features proprietary control software/hardware and three-dimensional navigation avionics for smooth stabilization and acceleration correction. Designed to hand-hold camera packages up to 12 lb., MoVI M10 operates both in single-operator mode, where the cameraperson steers the camera’s panning and tilting, as well as in a dual-operator mode, which gives a remote operator the same camera-steering control via the included remote controller and a wireless connection.
Filmmaking Case for Apple iPad
One of the most important and useful tools in the lighting arsenal is the Fresnel light, a flexible fixture that offers a soft light with a focusable beam—you can go from flood to spot and back again with the twist of a knob—and a relatively consistent intensity across the width of the beam. There are some drawbacks to using a conventional Fresnel fixture, though. You lose some of the light output because of the lens in front of the lamp, and the fixture generates lots of heat and consumes lots of power.
The Canon XA25 is a compact professional camcorder that features a 1/2.84” 1920 x 1080 CMOS image sensor and records in either AVCHD or MP4 codecs in a variety of data rates onto two SDHC memory cards. The second memory card can simultaneously record a backup copy of video saved on card A or a more compressed version for easier uploading to the Internet or FTP server. The Canon XA25 is Wi-Fi-enabled for wireless transfer of MP4 footage. It offers SDI and HDMI uncompressed outputs for monitoring or connecting to an external recorder.
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.