Susan Bellows spent nine years on the development side of the highly acclaimed PBS series American Experience before taking on her first directing assignment, the two-part American Experience documentary JFK.
What did you think about taking on your first producer/director assignment?
Blackmagic Design’s Pocket Cinema Camera was a hit as soon as it was announced at the 2013 NAB Show. The pint-sized HD camera offers much of the same technology found in Blackmagic’s successful 2.5K Digital Cinema Camera in a form factor you can slide into your pocket.
Director Alexander Payne first mentioned the script for Nebraska to editor Kevin Tent, ACE, nearly a decade ago when the two were finishing Sideways. Tent, who’s edited all Payne’s features, recalls the director’s summary of the project: it would star Bruce Dern, be black and white and have the feel of Peter Bogdonavich films, particularly The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon.
Even 43 years after his untimely death, Jimi Hendrix is still considered a rock ‘n roll god: a larger-than-life figure that oozed raw talent, charisma and an unmatched stage presence.
Veteran rock documentarian Bob Smeaton (The Beatles Anthology) had already made three films about the famed guitarist before embarking on his latest, American Masters: Jimi Hendrix—Hear My Train A Comin’, which premieres on PBS on Tuesday, November 5th. We spoke to Smeaton about what makes this film special and what makes Jimi himself a subject to which he keeps returning.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve needed to see the camera’s viewfinder and I was on the opposite end of a jib. Zacuto offers a solution in its EVF Flip, a portable 3.2” high-resolution monitor that puts the camera’s viewfinder where you need it most.
Over the years, Adobe Photoshop has become the go-to photo and design application for many editors, yet others have simply never warmed to it. For those with an interest in alternative solutions, there’s Pixelmator. The company responsible for Pixelmator, called Pixelmator Team, was an early proponent of selling through the Mac App Store, a move that quickly vaulted Pixelmator to the top of the Mac App Store’s sales list and earned it the “Best of Mac App Store” honor in 2011.
As a videographer specializing in wildlife photography, I often shoot alone. It’s up to me to shoot clean audio, not a boom operator or a sound person. This means I usually handle the mic’ing myself, mostly with the mic mounted on or very near the camera. Mounting the microphone off-camera is the best way to go, but that’s really only feasible when you’re shooting in a fairly stationary position. When I’m using the mic on camera (which is most of the time), I need some kind of shock mount to isolate vibration and handling noise.
Scripts can be dropped, jumbled, revised, confused and otherwise mixed up—unless, of course, you follow these tips. The most important one is to print a large page number and revision number at the top of each sheet so they be quickly reassembled if (when) they are dropped.
You can easily tell whether everyone is using the same version of a script if material is printed on a different colored paper each time the document is revised.
Index cards (3x5 or 4x6 sizes) are handy if you’re going to be reading at a lectern. Make them drop-proof by punching a hole in one corner of the stack and attaching a beaded keychain. The chain provides more flexibility than the ring many speakers use.
One of the biggest treats each week on Saturday Night Live is to see what kind of bizarre short films will be shown. These mini-movies are the product of the writers along with the filmmaking unit headed by director/producer Rhys Thomas. Adam Epstein is their editor.
We spoke with the busy editor when he caught his breath after the season premiere episode, for which he put together a sendup of a promo for the HBO show Girls in which Albanian visitor Blerta (Tina Fey) helps put some of that show’s characters’ complaints in perspective.
Teleprompters have always existed as a series of components. You had a source of text, whether it was a computer or simply paper scripts being fed under a camera; a display for that text, originally a CRT but now a flat-screen monitor; a prompter assembly to display the copy over or near the camera’s lens; and a scrolling controller. Now that nearly every professional has access to a tablet computer of some kind, however, the list of components in the teleprompter chain has shrunk considerably.
How I love American Cinematographer magazine. Next to Digital Video, it’s my all-time favorite. Every month I open it to the inside back cover, the same as you do with Digital Video, but instead of my stuff, there’s an interview with a famous ASC cameraman.
Darius Khondji, ASC
And every month there’s the killer-diller question that stumps them all: “Have you made any memorable blunders?”
Now if you were earning $XX,000 a day, would you admit to any wrongdoing? No, of course you wouldn’t.
Bolex. The name is so iconic that it can separate DPs into their own generational divide: those who remember the famed 16mm film cameras and those who don’t.
Digital Bolex D16 camera
The Bolex company was founded in 1927 by Jacques Bogopolsky, whose name was usually shortened to “Bolsky”—hence the Bolex name for the company he founded. Bolex cameras were spring-wound clockwork workhorses, originally 16mm, that served professional documentarians and amateur home movie buffs alike.
Shooting for the HBO documentary series VICE, cameraman Jerry Ricciotti and cinematographer Jake Burghart travel the globe to film some of the biggest conflicts in the most hostile environments.
Where are you at the moment?
Jerry Ricciotti: We’re in Benghazi, Libya, right now; we’ve been in Libya for six days. We’ve been doing a story for Vice.com and maybe for the HBO show. It was a little exciting getting over here and not knowing, with all the clashes and all the police and military, what we would see, but we’ve largely been pretty safe, so it’s been good.
In 1967, when Muhammad Ali was still Cassius Clay and the United States was embroiled in an unpopular war in Southeast Asia, the heavyweight champion of the world found his toughest match taking place outside the boxing ring. After joining the Nation of Islam and adopting the name Muhammad Ali, he was widely denounced for refusing to be drafted into U.S. military service based on his religious opposition to the Vietnam War. He was arrested, found guilty of draft evasion and stripped of his boxing title. In 1971, his appeal reached the United States Supreme Court.
The folks at Red Giant Software are smart. Not only do they create some amazing tools, they design those tools for maximum user productivity. The release of BulletProof 1.0 proves the point. For the past several months, Red Giant has put the software through a public beta testing period, soliciting feedback on all features of the media workflow tool. From the stability and usability of the 1.0 release, it would seem they listened to their users.
Greg “Freddy” Camalier worked in real estate when he passed through Muscle Shoals, Ala., and became fascinated by the rich musical history that came out of the tiny town on the Tennessee River, the site of two competing recording studios that produced enormous hits and new sounds for an extensive roster of musicians, including Gregg Allman, Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Paul Simon and many more.
Some of the critics who’ve been praising the relentless suspense in the Tom Hanks feature Captain Phillips might be surprised to know about the semi-improvisational methods used by director Paul Greengrass. The former documentarian allows actors to break free of the prepared blocking and encourages operators to compose based on their response to what’s happening rather than on a pre-staged set of moves.