I’ve never had a call in my cinematographic career to shoot time lapse footage. Time lapse is something I’ve been interested in, something I wanted to do, but I never had a project that required it, nor were the tools easily accessible to me.
One of the wonderful features in Nikon’s D800 HDSLR camera is a built-in intervalometer that allows time lapse still photography in the “interval timer shooting” mode and time lapse HD video in the “time lapse photography” mode.
It may be considered the greatest challenge of human endeavour on Earth: to cross the Antarctic in winter. With 24-hour darkness and temperatures plunging below -94° F, this epic 2,000 mile expedition will take the best part of a year to complete. Led by polar explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, “The Coldest Journey” expedition set off in December. The expedition is raising funds for Seeing is Believing, the global charitable campaign tackling preventable and treatable blindness.
Easier Than Makeup
I am following up on the tip in last month’s column about fixing a shiny bald head with Lancôme T.Contrôle Matte Finish cream. I have learned that Lancôme has discontinued the product. Too bad—it was the best stuff for dulling shiny skin of any color. If you have a favorite alternative, please share it at email@example.com.
I believe that the interview subject’s head shining under lights is our problem, not his, so I always try to avoid embarrassing him. Only after all else has failed do I pull out the makeup.
A less obvious solution to a shiny head is to add diffusion to the backlight, change the light’s angle or use a flag or barndoor to block the light from hitting the top of the head.
Blackmagic Design’s purchase of DaVinci Systems put a world-class color grading solution within the reach of every video professional. DaVinci Resolve 9 sports a more versatile user interface that makes it easy to run, whether you are an editor, colorist or DIT working on set. Resolve 9 comes in two basic Mac or Windows software versions: the $995 paid and the free Lite version. (The software bundle included with the purchase of a Blackmagic Cinema Camera includes the full (paid) version of Resolve, plus a copy of UltraScope.)
When I was 9, my parents took me to see 21 Up, the third in filmmaker Michael Apted’s Up documentary series. The amazingly ambitious premise of this series—exploring the Jesuit motto “Give me the child until he is 7 and I will give you the man”—traces the lives of 14 people from 1964 (when they are 7) to the present. Every seven years, Apted visits them, conducts new interviews and produces a new documentary.
Bruce at age 7, as seen in 56 Up
I just watched 56 Up.
Shedding some light on the Dark Continent of Africa has been the singular goal of a small army of digital cinematographers, producers and other crew members who collectively spent nearly 1,600 days on location, consumed 6,526 malaria pills and carried 50 tons of camera gear over 27 countries to close the deal.
An inquisitive young lion goes in for a closer look at one of the Africa team’s state-of-the-art remote cameras. Meerkats, elephants and, most of all, lions put the technology through its paces in the African bush. Photo by Discovery Channel/BBC/Felicity Egerton
Director David Frankham had spent about a decade focused on making commercials when he got the idea that would develop into the HBO documentary series Witness. The Canon EOS 5D Mk II camera had arrived on the scene and users were finally getting relatively robust HD video out of the same gear that pro still photographers were using. Frankham saw this technological evolution as an opportunity to explore his longstanding admiration for the challenges war photographers overcome to record what would never be seen otherwise.
Dutch documentarian Joris Debeij's web series "I Am Los Angeles" features compelling portraits of some of the city's unsung residents, from a record shop owner to an ambassador for the sport of cricket.
Ninja 2, a high-definition field recorder and monitor, comes from the Australian company Atomos. The creator of digital field recorders and converters, the company’s motto is “Atomos makes weapons of smart production.” Atomos competitors offer similar products, but few offer the capacity and features like uncompressed storage and a touchscreen monitor all in one convenient package.
The video industry has been moving toward completely file-based workflows, but that paradigm doesn’t replace all of the functions that traditional videotape recorders served. To bridge the gap, companies such as AJA, Blackmagic Design, Convergent Design, Sound Devices and others have developed solid-state recorders for field and studio operation. I recently tested Blackmagic Design’s HyperDeck Shuttle 2, which is touted as the world’s smallest uncompressed recorder.
Thunderbolt is the latest protocol for peripherals used by Apple on its computers to carry audio, video, data and power over a single cable. The protocol combines Apple’s DisplayPort technology and PCIe into a single connectivity path. The technology can be used to daisy-chain numerous devices, including storage, monitors and broadcast I/O hardware. Thunderbolt ports are currently available on Apple MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini and iMac computers. Manufacturers such as AJA Video Systems, Blackmagic Design and Matrox have embraced Thunderbolt technology and have engineered a number of capture and output devices for it.
“We are in the throes of making a portrait film of Iris Apfel in all her stylish splendor,” reads the Maysles Films web site, the online home of pioneering documentarian Albert Maysles. The notice comes with a link to a film trailer (see below), cut by New York-based editor Lynn True, featuring the fashion icon and self-declared “geriatric starlet,” now in her 91st year, in her trademark round, black glasses. “I think style is all attitude. Attitude, attitude, attitude,” Apfel declares at the beginning of the work-in-progress documentary, clearly in her element.
Last October, the British folk rock band Mumford & Sons announced The Road to Red Rocks concert film, to be distributed by Pulse Films. Featuring footage from the last two concerts of the group’s Gentlemen of the Road tour, which ended at the celebrated Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Golden, Colo., the documentary was released internationally last November and arrives in the U.S. on January 22.
Ryan Murphy, the creator of Nip/Tuck, Glee and American Horror Story, has brought another series to television viewers. The New Normal follows a happy Los Angeles gay couple who form a friendship with a single Midwestern woman whom they hire as a surrogate mother for their baby. The tone is comedic, but the laughs are interspersed with poignant moments. Critics have compared the show at its best to a Woody Allen comedy for television: humorous, but with surprisingly sweet, gentle grace notes.
The largest movement this year in the film and video sector has to be in cameras. There are more than ever to choose from, with a strong push into 4K products. HD-video-enabled digital still photography cameras continue to attract users and that movement shows no sign of dropping off. One common design trait in both types of products is the incorporation of large-format, single-sensor chips instead of the traditional 2/3” 3-CCD video camera design. This is a significant change that is driving software development in post and enabling the production of content for 4K delivery systems, including consumer TV sets.
Acquisition and the Push for Higher Resolution
The “Crossfire Hurricane” that rock ’n’ roll icon Mick Jagger famously sang about being born in nearly half a century ago in “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” now aptly serves as the title of a visually enticing and vibrant documentary that offers viewers a glimpse of the chaotic, often surreal world of the Rolling Stones.