Best known for his portrayal of larger-than-life Baltimore mom Edna Turnblad in John Waters’ Hairspray, Divine, née Harris Glenn Milstead, spent two decades as Waters’ muse, collaborator and leading lady. The documentary I Am Divine, produced and directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, offers a tender look at the life of an artist who was committed to an in-your-face style, and also committed to his friends, family and the sweet side of life.
Back in 1987, Canon chose the EOS acronym for its first DSLR camera partially to honor Eos, the Greek goddess of dawn. In more scientific terms, EOS also stands for “Electro-Optical System.” That first Canon EOS model, the 650 (discontinued in 1989), heralded Canon’s breakthrough microprocessor-controlled autofocus system, which used a fully electronic interface between the lens and the camera in the form of the BASIS sensor that drove the ultrasonic motor system.
The television phenomenon that is HBO’s Game of Thrones premiered in April 2011 and enjoyed immediate critical and fan praise. Filmed in exotic locales in Northern Ireland, Malta, Croatia, Iceland, Morocco and elsewhere, Game of Thrones features compelling characters, bravura production design and the feature-quality cinematography viewers have come to expect from HBO productions. Medieval fantasy never looked so good on television.
The HBO special has become the top of the heap for stand-up comedians, a sign of true success. This April, Louis C.K. will appear in his fourth such stand-up comedy special, titled Louis C.K.: Oh My God. Topics dissected for humor reportedly will include the food chain, animals, divorce, morality, murder and mortality.
Phil Spector became famous as a music industry icon. The legendary producer, who originated the "wall of sound" production technique of densely layered musical arrangements, worked with a wide range of acts, including the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers and the Beatles. Unfortunately, fame can also have its infamous side. Spector abruptly returned to public notice through the circumstances of the 2003 death of actress Lana Clarkson and his subsequent criminal trials, culminating in a 2009 conviction for second-degree murder.
Freshly minted Academy Award winner Claudio Miranda, ASC, followed up his stunning work on Ang Lee’s Life of Pi by re-teaming with director Joseph Kosinski, his collaborator on 2010’s TRON: Legacy. Their new creation is Oblivion, a sci-fi tale based on a graphic novel written by Kosinski that reportedly nods to science-fiction classics from the 1970s. The cast is led by Tom Cruise and includes Melissa Leo, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko and Zoë Bell.
The plot line follows an ex-Marine who is stationed on an airborne town above the surface of Earth, which was nearly destroyed in an alien invasion some decades prior. He rescues a female stranger, and what he learns makes him question everything he knows about the society that employs him.
Tackling the effects of the breakneck speed of today’s world and the efficiency and ubiquity of the technology that connects us all, Connected is filmmaker Tiffany Shlain’s (@tiffanyshlain) eighth movie. The film explores the good, the bad and the potential of connectedness in the 21st century. Blending original animation, archival footage and home movies, the film is equal parts documentary and memoir. Its take-home message is summed up in the last line: “For centuries we have been declaring our independence. Perhaps it’s finally time to declare our interdependence.”
axle Video’s rackmount axle Gear system integrates browser-based media management with powerful transcode capabilities. The system consists of two coupled Apple Mac mini systems: one Mac mini is the primary server for axle’s media management software, while the other runs a tuned version of Telestream’s Episode Pro transcode software, providing high-throughput processing of a wide range of media files. The Telestream software generates the H.264 streaming proxy files used in axle’s iPad/laptop browser user interface and outputs a range of HD and SD video formats for mastering, broadcast and Web applications. axle Gear is compatible with nearly any networked storage system, including SAN, NAS and LTO tape technologies.
Steadicams come in all sizes to accommodate most shooting rigs. The latest is the Steadicam Smoothee from Tiffen, a camera stabilization device designed for iPhones (3GS/4/4S/5) and the GoPro camera (HERO2 and 3). The Smoothee does exactly what full-sized Steadicams do, except on the much smaller scale appropriate for iPhone videography. This 1.75 lb. unit does a fantastic job of stabilizing the roughly 5 oz. Apple iPhone, turning a lightweight media device into a steady shooting platform.
As the wheels touch down at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas for this year’s National Association of Broadcasters’ NAB Show, attention is bound to turn to the buzz topic of 2013: 4K acquisition, post and distribution. Like stereoscopic 3D before it, will 4K go from niche to mainstream product—only to return to niche status next year? That’s an unknown, but the consumer electronics industry has already signaled that 4K is the next big thing for them. Despite that endorsement, broadcasters are also trying to deal with the other end of the spectrum, the so-called “second screen” phenomenon. This is the challenge of how to offer unique, complementary content for tablets and mobile devices.
Documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki (Freakonomics, Why We Fight) explores issues in his films from a wide array of intersecting perspectives, often starting with very personal anecdotes and expanding to large questions of public policy. His latest feature, The House I Live In (April on PBS’s Independent Lens), weaves multiple interviews, file footage and the filmmaker’s narration together to present an overall assessment of the decades-long project referred to by supporters as the “war on drugs.”
Director Guillermo Arriaga and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, ASC, collaborated to shoot a “beautiful horror movie” entirely with Nikon D800 DSLR cameras. Arriaga, screenwriter of Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel, wrote and directed “Broken Night,” a tense and unsettling short film. On an empty stretch of desert road after a car crash, a mother and her young daughter find that the accident is the least of their troubles.
Greg Barth’s Essays on Reality is social commentary in the form of six videos bundled into two chapters of three episode apiece. As social commentaries go, Barth’s are quick, cartoonish and hard not to watch again and again.
It was destined to happen sooner or later. In the case of NBCUniversal, it’s coming sooner—as its Syfy cable channel preps for the premiere this month of American television’s first series directly tethered to a video game. Defiance will debut April 15 in the television realm, following the April 1 online rollout of its companion video game, which is designed to enhance and interconnect the production’s near-future storylines.
Sound editors Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton collaborated on director Ang Lee’s vivid and imaginative Life of Pi, a film that required them to construct largely from scratch the audio world in which much of the story takes place: a large lifeboat adrift at sea, populated by a young Indian boy (Pi) and a remarkably realistic (digital) tiger named Richard Parker. There is little dialogue for much of the film, and how it was shot demanded that most of the on-set audio be either replaced or newly created.
Argo, director Ben Affleck’s gripping and occasionally funny film about a secret attempt to extricate a handful of Americans trapped in Iran during that country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the famous hostage crisis that it precipitated, required sound designers Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn to go for a gritty, realistic, at times almost documentary approach to portraying real events in what is at heart a Hollywood action movie.
Director Tom Hooper came up with an audacious idea for the film version of the smash hit musical Les Misérables. “In my first meeting with Tom, he said, ‘I don’t think we can make this movie unless we record the actors singing live,’” recounts production sound mixer Simon Hayes. “He made it very clear that he wanted the movie sung completely through from start to finish because he felt it would be very difficult for the audience to connect with mimed performances for two and a half hours.