KC Estenson is senior vice president and general manager of CNN Digital. His responsibilities include management of CNN’s Internet, wireless, video-on-demand and IP broadband businesses, as well as CNN Digital’s business development, marketing and editorial operations. He’s held this post since 2008. Earlier this year CNN became the first major American TV network to offer live streaming of virtually all of its on-air programming to mobile devices.
KC, how have CNN and its digital enterprises progressed over the years you’ve been there?
FX’s Wilfred, now in its third season, stars Elijah Wood as a troubled man who sees his neighbor’s dog as man in a dog suit. The series has been shot entirely on DSLRs, but toward the end of season two the production switched from Canon EOS 5D Mk II bodies to Nikon D800s.
Our world is filled with color—deep reds, cool blues, vibrant yellows—all of which we see because the light from the sun contains all of the colors of the rainbow, so the individual objects in our world can reflect those colors to our eyes.
Human vision is incredibly flexible with regard to color. Our eyes and our brains work together to interpret many different lighting situations so that we see them as natural and normal.
Filmmaking isn’t rocket science, but sometimes the two do… collide. Such is the case with the documentary Particle Fever, where the credentials of both producer David Kaplan and director Mark Levinson include a doctorate in particle physics.
While mini-converters are a necessity in today’s multi-standard post environment, reading about them doesn’t usually evoke a sense of excitement. Mini-converters don’t tend to be flashy or slick. They are content to perform their essential roles in the background, letting the monitor and the software take the credit for a job well done.
On the FOR-A web site, the company describes the FT-ONE as the “world’s first high-speed camera designed for super-slow-motion acquisition at 4K resolution up to 900 frames per second.” In the theater beside their booth at this year’s NAB Show, FOR-A presented some of the most gorgeous super-slow-motion 4K shots I’ve ever seen. One of an orca whale jumping out of a pool with its trainer riding on its back seemed to hang in mid-air. It was breathtaking.
Celebrating the spirit of New York City, New Yorkers is an ongoing short documentary series that highlights New York City residents from all walks of life. Crafted by Moonshot Productions and based on interviews, the stories are told through the prism of each person’s vocation. According to the project’s web site, “We’re interested in the everyday New Yorkers who are the heartbeat of the city: the musician, the doorman, the nine-to-fiver, the school teacher, the waitress, the ice sculptor, the taxi driver. The people who go unnoticed walking down the street or standing on the subway platform often have the most interesting stories.”
Since 2005, chef and culinary expert Anthony Bourdain has shared his extensive and exotic travels on the Travel Channel series Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. After the conclusion of that show last year, Bourdain signed on with CNN for Parts Unknown, another series of visual essays about places, people and customs produced by Zero Point Zero Production. Parts Unknown is currently in production on its second season.
Sorenson Media’s Squeeze encoder has always been at the top of the market for encoding features and quality. The software, now in its ninth generation, offers standard, pro and premium versions. Sorenson Squeeze 9 Standard and Pro are Mac and Windows desktop applications, while Premium is designed to run on Windows servers. The difference between Standard and Pro is that Squeeze 9 Pro supports the encoding of Avid DNxHD and Apple ProRes (Mac only) codecs.
The annual Armory Show at piers 92 and 94 in Manhattan offers a chance for the world’s leading galleries to show off their most stunning contemporary and modern art. At this year’s edition, gallery owner David Zwirner resisted the temptation to pack his booth with as many artists as possible. Instead, he gave the entire white-walled space to video artist Diana Thater. In turn, Thater assembled four nine-monitor video walls (each in a 3 x 3 configuration) that served as canvases for haunting, deep blue-tinted videos of flowers. The series of works was called Day for Night.
This summer’s record-setting heat wave is enhancing storylines in Low Winter Sun, a 10-part AMC series shot in Detroit that premieres August 11. The show is a co-production of Endemol Studios and AMC Studio. The ensemble cast includes Mark Strong (Zero Dark Thirty) and Lennie James (The Walking Dead, Jericho).
Julian Assange and the story of what came to be called WikiLeaks inspires strong opinions. It’s a tale that includes so many threads: our secretive government, operating in a democracy whose lifeblood is the free flow of information; the controversial wars waged since the September 11 attacks; the interrelated information and internet revolutions. Some say Assange is a hacker hero, a peace-loving truth-teller, and an icon and martyr for freedom of speech. Others are sure he’s a villain, a sociopath and a thief who could have followed journalistic convention and released information in a way that didn’t endanger good people around the world.
Christopher Guest’s latest project, the HBO original series Family Tree, features many of the hallmarks of the other “mockumentary” films he’s directed, including This Is Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman and For Your Consideration. All of these comedic films feature actors playing unselfconsciously funny characters with sincere, if somewhat ridiculous, aspirations. Guest’s modus operandi often involves improvised scenes, ensemble casts and Super 16 film. The latter three films were made with the same cinematographer: Roberto Schaefer, ASC.
The documentary film Call Me Kuchu presents the harrowing stories of gay rights activists in Uganda and the anti-homosexuality politics they are up against. Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall joined forces in making the documentary and running all aspects of production as a crew of two.
How did you approach Call Me Kuchu?
Paul Schrader has been a major force in filmmaking since the early 1970s as the screenwriter of films such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ, and as director on quite a few others, including American Gigolo, the epic Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and the Bob Crane biopic Auto Focus. So it was news when he and bestselling author Bret Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero, American Psycho) announced they were using Kickstarter to try to raise about $100,000 to make a micro-budget feature.
The Lifetime feature Anna Nicole, which aired on the cable channel toward the end of June, attracted as much attention for its director—Canada’s Mary Harron—as it did for its lurid portrayal of the model/tabloid star and her prodigious assets.
Multimedia artist Doug Aitken is not intimidated by large spaces. When he was commissioned by art patron and philanthropist Bagley Wright to create an outdoor installation for the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), Aitken responded with a 12-story LED display that wraps around the northwest corner of the museum’s façade in downtown Seattle.
In the late 1980s, Brooklyn’s Williamsburg was a working class neighborhood populated by small manufacturers, family-owned butchers and auto repair shops. The city’s bohemians—artists, writers and filmmakers—began to filter into the area, establishing themselves in commercial loft spaces built out with DIY ingenuity and old-fashioned elbow grease. Williamsburg landlords turned a blind eye, and an artistic community blossomed and thrived. Then, in 2005, the neighborhood began to change.