One thing you never want to hear when operating any kind of equipment is “Oops!” The oops usually comes when you accidentally hit something vital, like the mode or reset button. Kevin Glenn of Videocam in Anaheim, Calif., sent me a photo of one way to avoid making that mistake. Tape a bottle cap (water bottle caps work very well) over the button to shield it from errant fingers and it is almost impossible to hit.
Dot’s the Up Side
You remember Mary from my Production Diary a couple of months ago. Yes, of course you do: she’s the client who said, “It’s perfect. I absolutely love it!” and then, a few weeks later, wanted a dumb title at the start.
Now she’s got another job for me and it’s brilliant. All is forgiven. A guest lodge in the Sierra Nevada mountains: spectacular scenery, hiking trails, horse riding, hot springs, tall red fir trees, snow-topped mountains and a decent-sized budget to boot. In short, a perfect subject for me and my Phantom Quadcopter.
I bill her for 50 percent up front. She pays quickly. I’m rich. Time to upgrade my Phantom.
Did Gyre and Gimble in the Wabe
Final Cut Pro X is steadily gaining support among professional editors as Apple integrates more features in response to users’ needs. Unlike the previous iterations of Final Cut Studio—where everything was integrated into a bundle of Apple applications—FCP X relies to a greater extent on an ecosystem of outside developers who have brought a number of useful tools to the table. This means that you buy only what you need and build out your toolkit according to your own specific workflow. Here are some tips on getting the most out of FCP X.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that in June Adobe switched access to its software from licensed ownership to a subscription model. After a year of offering both options—perpetual licenses and subscriptions—Adobe has decided to go all-in on subscriptions for the latest version of its creative tools. (Adobe continues to offer perpetual licenses only for Adobe CS6 products.)
The filmmakers responsible for the indie drama Big Sur, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, faced a number of challenges inherent in transposing Beat Generation hero Jack Kerouac’s introspective novel of the same name into a feature film set in late 1950s California. The freeform source material traces Kerouac’s (Jean-Marc Barr) life in the wake of his enormous success writing On the Road and his attempt to escape the demands and constraints of romantic entanglements. The film co-stars Kate Bosworth and Anthony Edwards as Kerouac’s longtime supporter Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
MTV has long been known as a trendsetter in the adoption of cutting-edge technology. This year’s Video Music Awards broadcast, held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, featured the first use of the HDK-97ARRI Super 35 CMOS camera from Ikegami and ARRI, marking a departure from three-chip camera acquisition for the awards show. The eight HDK-97ARRI cameras deployed for the broadcast were outfitted with Fujinon Cabrio 19-90 PL mount lenses. The cameras were situated on pedestals, jibs and Steadicams, as well as in traditional handheld configurations.
Shooting the many interviews contained within Salinger, director Shane Salerno’s ambitious documentary about the famously reclusive author of Catcher in the Rye, was a years-long process. The first person to join Salerno on his project was Buddy Squires, whose list of credits would be the envy of just about any cinematographer working in the documentary arena. Squires has shot interviews with every type of subject, from veteran entertainers and politicians to those who are completely unaccustomed to being photographed. People interviewed for Salinger ran the gamut, from celebrities such as Philip Seymour Hoffman and Martin Sheen to Ethel Nelson, the Salinger family neighbor in Cornish, N.H., who’d never spoken publicly about the long period she’d spent watching over the author’s children.
Told from the perspective of former drug dealers, How to Make Money Selling Drugs is both a primer on the topic and a new approach using satire and sincerity in documenting the complex issues surrounding America’s war on drugs.
A shockingly candid examination of how a street dealer can rise to cartel lord with relative ease, How to Make Money Selling Drugs is an insider's guide to the violent but extremely lucrative drug industry.
What was the tone of your approach to this film?
Last year, Ben Richardson's gripping, handheld Super 16 camerawork for director Benh Zeitlin on Beasts of the Southern Wild was the talk of the cinematography world. For his follow-up feature, Richardson teamed with indie director Joe Swanberg on very different kind of film. Drinking Buddies, which has been called an "indie romantic comedy," follows Kate and Luke (Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson), co-workers at a craft brewery who find themselves alone together one weekend apart from their respective significant others.
Commercial directors Jason and Josh Diamond want the world to know they're ready, willing, and able to bring their talents into the feature film realm. The partners in New York-based production company The Hidden Fortress are less concerned about where the work is seen, than they are that they get to make the kind of movies they love.
Avid continues to be the dominant force in television and film editing technology, despite being challenged by strong offerings from Apple, Adobe, Grass Valley and others. While it’s not always the flashiest product, Avid’s flagship Media Composer editing application delivers the toolset that professional editors rely on to be productive. Version 7.0 is no exception. Along with new features, it has been reduced in price to $999, and big brother Avid Symphony is now available as a $1,499 add-on. Other options include ScriptSync and PhraseFind.
Adobe started to receive serious interest from the professional video community with the introduction of Adobe Creative Suite 6 Premiere Pro. Many of these editors were looking for the next generation of nonlinear editing software after Apple change direction with Final Cut Pro. Adobe responded with software that delivered both performance and a familiar look and feel.
One of my favorite things about writing this column is the opportunity it gives me to pass on the tips others have shared with me. This note from Norm Ross of Salt Lake City is exactly what I am talking about. Norm writes, “I’ve followed the Tips page for years. I just wanted to say July’s Surviving Session Shakes tip was an excellent one.
“There’s only one thing I might add. After working with the new power-sensitive cameras and the sometimes troublesome electrical circuits of many large meeting rooms, I’ve learned to carry a compact surge protector strip in my ditty bag. It’s much less expensive than camera repair.”
Miracle at the BBC
I am making a VidiWall about the first 50 years of British television. I am in the office of the head of the BBC’s library.
It’s 1986 and I say, “I used to work at BBC Ealing Studios in 1965. I edited The Wars of the Roses.”
She replies, “Oh yes, I know that program. The film cans would be downstairs with ten million films and tapes.”
I was approached by a Los Angeles actor’s networking collective to direct some scenes for the group and help their members build their reels. ActionGroupLA is a membership of actors of various disciplines who get together monthly to pool their resources and shoot shorts and specs. After directing a back-alley-gangster short for the group, they approached me to direct a series of intimate dramatic scenes that take place over different eras within one room. With no budget, only a single day and some tangled Janga-esque balancing of actor schedule availabilities, we embarked on a day of production that would encompass 12 pages of script and four scenes covering 40 years in time from the 1970s to today.