Miracle at the BBC
I am making a VidiWall about the first 50 years of British television. I am in the office of the head of the BBC’s library.
It’s 1986 and I say, “I used to work at BBC Ealing Studios in 1965. I edited The Wars of the Roses.”
She replies, “Oh yes, I know that program. The film cans would be downstairs with ten million films and tapes.”
I was approached by a Los Angeles actor’s networking collective to direct some scenes for the group and help their members build their reels. ActionGroupLA is a membership of actors of various disciplines who get together monthly to pool their resources and shoot shorts and specs. After directing a back-alley-gangster short for the group, they approached me to direct a series of intimate dramatic scenes that take place over different eras within one room. With no budget, only a single day and some tangled Janga-esque balancing of actor schedule availabilities, we embarked on a day of production that would encompass 12 pages of script and four scenes covering 40 years in time from the 1970s to today.
Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, any 4K video system is only as good as its weakest component. Lens makers are working overtime to make certain the weakest link in the 4K chain isn’t with their optics.
Here is a checklist of tips to ensure that checked equipment arrives on time and in good condition.
Put a large note with your itinerary and your on-the-road contact info inside each bag. Your home phone number is useless if the case goes astray. Putting your home address on the outside just lets burglars know which house is unattended. If you must put an address on the outside, make it your destination.
Photograph the contents of each case you intend to check. It’s a good idea to do this with your cell phone so the images are with you if a problem develops.
Keep a list of the items in each case. If you are traveling internationally, it’s also a good idea to have copies of the sales receipts to show the customs folks.
I cross the park in Soho Square, go to number 2 and press the buzzer. It’s 1964 and I’ve just arrived from Australia.
Eventually the lock on the shiny black door clicks open and I walk down the hall to a small sliding window. I am inside the all-powerful ACTT union headquarters. (ACTT is the Association of Cinematograph Television and Allied Technicians, a trade union in the United Kingdom.)
Some boxes of cereal contain prizes that are bigger than the Novo camera from Radiant Images. Developed in conjunction with View Factor Studios and released in February, the original Novo camera measures 2.47” x 1.85” (0.5” thick), weighs 3.2 oz and lets you monitor its recordings via Wi-Fi. Novo can shoot 2.7K Cine (2704 x 1440) at 24 fps, 1080p at 24 to 60 fps, and even 4K Cine (4096 x 2160) at 12 fps. Novo received a prestigious Mario Award from our sister publication TV Technology at the 2013 NAB Show.
Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker explores the life and music of piano legend James Booker, who was described by Dr. John as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.” Director Lily Keber took on the challenge of documenting this complicated and mysterious character.
How would you describe your approach?
The problem with most small LED fixtures is the quality of light that comes out of them. While little LEDs may be useful for tucking into small corners, the harshness of their light can limit their usefulness for on-camera interviews. Adding a softbox significantly changes the quality of light, translating the source into something pleasing even close up.
Gaffer and cinematographer Tom Guiney has come up with an extraordinarily simple solution for adding a softbox to nearly any small on-camera LED fixture. He calls it Airbox Lights.
For two years Stephen van Vuuren has been on a mission. In Saturn’s Rings is a large-format film destined for IMAX release next year that’s composed entirely of photographs of the gas giant taken by spacecraft. Van Vuuren combines the multitude of photos with numerous film techniques to create the effect of flying through space around Saturn and among its rings. The director’s challenge during the film’s production was to craft this virtual tour for viewers without resorting to CGI or special effects.
Although the HBO documentary The Crash Reel focuses on half-pipe snowboarding champion Kevin Pearce, one of the most riveting scenes shows no snowboarding at all. The film, directed by Lucy Walker, is really about the devastating effects of the 2009 training accident that caused Pearce to suffer traumatic brain injury that damaged, among much else, the former star athlete’s self-awareness.
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.