I’m guessing that as you’re heading into 2014, your resolutions are literally about resolutions—you’re considering formats, codecs, metadata, specs, workflows and workloads. It’s easy to bypass the creative aspects of your work and focus on the technical necessities. I want to suggest that you make yourself a promise to produce a short film this year. We all have the tools, or access to the tools, to develop and deliver a video project that’s creative and non-commercial—essentially just for you.
The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have already spawned a number of outstanding films, but one that is bound to set the bar higher is the upcoming Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg as U.S. Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell. In early screenings, a number of critics compared the film favorably with Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down.
Hot off his success with Silver Linings Playbook, writer/director David O. Russell is back with the year-end release of American Hustle. The film (co-written with Eric Singer) was inspired by the FBI’s true-life Abscam sting operation of the late 1970s. It tells the story of con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), who are recruited by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) to pull off the operation targeting corrupt public officials. While the film incorporates many facets of actual events, Russell deepens the characterizations and refocuses events to get at a deeper truth about reinvention and survival. The film is not as much about the politicians who take bribes as about the people who develop the con at the heart of the sting operation.
Few directors have Martin Scorsese’s talent to tell entertaining stories about the seamier side of life. He has the unique ability to get us to understand and often be seduced by people who live outside the social norms. That’s an approach he’s used with great success in films like Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and Gangs of New York. Following this path is Scorsese’s newest, The Wolf of Wall Street, based on the memoir of stock broker Jordan Belfort.
Apple’s Final Cut Pro X uses an effects architecture based on templates tied to the underpinnings of Apple Motion 5. Even if the user hasn’t purchased Motion, its engine is the one that drives effects in FCP X.
Billed as the most celebrated achievement in television history, IFC’s miniseries parody The Spoils of Babylon chronicles the dramatic lives of the Morehouse family, from their meager beginnings in the Texas oil fields to the opulent boardrooms of New York City.
The mtvU documentary series Rebel Music examines the lives of young people who use art and music to spark change around the world. The first two 30-minute episodes of the six-part series premiered on November 18, with the remaining episodes debuting weekly on the mtvU network and online at RebelMusic.com.
Each episode of Rebel Music highlights a different country grappling with social injustice, from the revolution in Egypt and sexual oppression in India to a Mexican drug harbor struggling to reinvent itself as a cultural haven.
Liam Lynch, director of the Sarah Silverman HBO standup special We Are Miracles, has explored the realms of music, comedy and DIY filmmaking for nearly 20 years. The Ohio native was chosen from a demo song to be part of the first graduating class of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts in 1994. The school was partly financed by Paul McCartney—Lynch received instruction from the former Beatle and that band's producer, George Martin. Since then he has written songs with Jack Black and directed videos for Tenacious D., created an enormous number of video podcasts and short films and directed Silverman's special, Jesus Is Magic, in 2005.
You've done so many different kinds of projects. When did you learn how to direct?
Madonna’s long-anticipated "secretprojectrevolution," ushered in with an Instagram post and multi-city launch event, arrived in September with a bang.
A collaboration between Madonna and fashion photographer Steven Klein, the 17-minute film, which opens with the Jean-Luc Godard quote “All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl,” is a Vogue photo shoot come to life. Shot entirely in black and white, the gritty project introduces Art for Freedom, a global initiative that aims to expand freedom of expression.
Fans of Joel and Ethan Coen’s eclectic brand of filmmaking should be thrilled with their latest effort, Inside Llewyn Davis. The story follows a struggling singer in the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960s, just before Bob Dylan’s early career there. Llewyn Davis is played by Oscar Isaac, who most recently appeared in The Bourne Legacy. The story, though fictional, was inspired by the life of musician Dave Van Ronk, as chronicled in the book The Mayor of MacDougal Street.
DP-V3010 4K Display
Canon’s DP-V3010 4K reference display provides a 2000:1 DCI-compliant contrast ratio, uniform brightness, very wide viewing angles in all four directions, internal color calibration and 1024 shades in each color channel. The 10-bit IPS LCD display measures 30” wide (diagonally) and 7.4” deep. Designed for use in postproduction suites as well as in DIT workstations and on-location video villages, the DP-V3010 provides full-screen 4096 x 2560 resolution, a 16:10 aspect ratio and a tightly packed “pixel pitch” of 157.5μm. The display is expected to ship in the first quarter of 2014.
Late last year International Supplies introduced a 1x1 color-changing LED fixture, the Lumos 300MK. I recently put the Lumos unit through its paces on a shoot.
The form factor is similar to competitive 1x1 LED units. It weighs 4.18 lb. and measures 11.8” x 11.8” x 2.9”.
The fixture came with a set of barndoors, which was surprising to me. I hadn’t dealt with barndoors on a 1x1 LED unit before. It’s a nice touch. The doors are quite robust. They’ll take the abuse of production for sure.
The EOS C100 digital video camera targets a broad range of lower-budget film and video productions with a flexible, modular design that supports a variety of single-operator shooting styles. The EOS C100 weighs 2.2 lb. in its basic configuration. It uses the same Super 35mm imaging system found in the EOS C500 and EOS C300. The camera incorporates Canon’s EF lens mount and is fully compatible with Canon’s line of EF, EF-S and Cinema series lenses.
When it comes to getting stealthy shots up close and personal, nothing beats a remote-controlled animatronic penguin outfitted with a hidden HD spy-cam. Of course, the effect is spoiled if you put him in any environment that’s not full of other penguins.
Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of the punk band Bikini Kill and dance-punk trio Le Tigre, rose to national attention as the voice of the riot grrrl movement, becoming one of the most famously outspoken icons of the third-wave feminist movement of the 1990s and early aughts.
Remember your first GF or BF? Of course you do. Mine is Christina McWilliams, a vision of 16-year-old loveliness. She gives me her school pin. I give her mine. We hold hands, kiss and cuddle. I’m taking it slowly and then, poof, it’s over. She wants her school pin back. I cry for a week. I’m through with girls.
For the Love of Mike
Altec 21B condenser mic
In 1956 I am working at Radio 2UE. We have a new Altec 21B condenser mic. While her Saarinen curves might break your heart, she is flat from 20 to 15,000 Hz—the perfect blend of form and function. I am in love.
This month’s DV101 will deviate from my normal technological diatribes into logistics. I’m currently producing and directing a reality show called My Hollywood about kids pursuing their dreams to break into show business. The major leg of home visits for this show has me on the road for 25 days from Alberta, Canada, to Manhattan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee and Florida.
Did I Make That Shot?
You have just completed shooting a 32-page script. As you look over the crumpled pages, a feeling of doubt comes over you. Did you really complete it? You were shooting out of sequence and now you’re not sure that you got everything.
James Potter of Canton, Ga., keeps track by placing a vertical line in the right margin next to the covered dialogue as he finishes each shot. When he completes the project, he should have a line from the top to the bottom of every page. If there are any gaps, he missed a shot.
To avoid getting lost when traveling in a country whose language you do not speak:
A walk through any film and video trade show will reveal dozens of companies selling matteboxes and lens hoods, products that keep extraneous light off of a camera lens. The lens flares that these devices prevent are optical malfunctions that occur when a powerful light source (sunlight, for example) strikes the lens and produces visible artifacts. This technical “mistake” may appear in the form of starbursts, rings or circles in a row, or as an all-encompassing haze that washes out the image. But carefully planned lens flares can be desirable, adding dramatic effect to the shot. The key is in knowing how to channel the power of light to your advantage.