Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Every filmmaker needs to see this: "And God Spoke..."

Bumped into this movie the other day (on laser disc, no less), and it is a must watch for any budding filmmaker.  Far too many quotes to mention from the likes of a Coke can-carrying Soup, the Hulk, and the incomparable Andy Dick.  "And God Spoke" got me through my first feature film back in the day.  "I didn't write the script.  God wrote it, through me," was the mantra we used to get us through the long nights of guerrilla filmmaking.  Watch this film, and see the most realistic portrayal of the film business ever put to screen.  "This is NOT Melrose...," will echo through eternity.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

N.A.B. 2013 Sights and Sounds

< The halls of the N.A.B.  This is the largest convention I've ever seen.  It was so big, Les Stroud was filming an episode of "Survivorman" from inside.

< Taking a turn at the Canon booth with the C500.  4k, uncompressed RAW video for $26k.  Daddy like.

< My buddy Kevdog wrangling the Canon C300 on the live action CSI-type set.

< Me, taking a turn on the Canon C100.  Very interested in this camera with its new (temporary) price point ($5500), but the lack of 4k is an issue.  However, if you add an external recorder to the C100, like the Atomos Ninja 2, you can get a professional-level video stream (QT 4:2:2 10-bit, 200 Mbps) on par with the Canon C300 ($15k).

< The Atomos Ninja 2 external recorder hooked up to a Canon 5D Mark III.  The Canon rep I spoke to assured me that the new 5DMKIII firmware, with a clean HDMI out signal, would be ready by the end of April.  She couldn't give me an exact date, but "by the end of April," were her exact words.  I'm holding Canon to it.  Atomos just dropped the price of the Ninja 2 to $795, to cater to the #5D3 market.

< The always amazing Vincent Laforet chats up the SmallHD booth.

< The fantabulous cinematography guru Philip Bloom gives his best at the Q&A sponsored by the fine people from Kessler.  The absolute hippest part of the NAB convention floor was the Kessler-Zacuto area.  It was like watching a live action play of PORTLANDIA.

< The Freefly Cinema's Movi M10 stabilizer rig.  This area had quite the buzz coming into the show, and people were lined up to try out flying some DSLRs.  I stood in line, patiently waiting my turn, and...the floor model broke down right before my turn.  The rep claimed he needed to tweak a cable, but after 20 minutes, I gave up waiting for it to come back on line.

I felt this was a telling moment, and reminded me about the issues of a small company servicing its "broken" product.  I can't confirm this, but I felt it overheated, and then shut down.  Food for thought for this "game changer."

< Blackmagic Cinema Camera claims its new 4k version will be delivered by July.  While I really want this bad boy, check out Philip Bloom's take on Blackmagic possibly offering too much.  Even if it gets delivered in 2023, I want the 4k BMCC for $4k.

< Of all the booths I visited, the biggest buzz seemed to be centered on the "other" Blackmagic camera, The Pocket Cinema Camera.  It's a powerful lil' guy the size of an iPhone, and check out the specs for this $1k camera.  It was so busy at the booth, I wasn't able to fight my way past the 4-deep crowds waiting to thumb it up.  I snapped this quick picture, and then was wrestled to the floor by security (not really).

< Flying copters seemed to be all the rage.  They're quite terrifying to look at, but any time I need to follow a car chase, I'm fully stabilized by a veritable cornucopia of remote camera copters.

< The Harmon corridor as seen from the Signature/MGM Hotel shot with the 5DMKIII.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Totally Real N.A.B. Survival Guide

I don't know much, but I do know this: the N.A.B conference in Las Vegas is the greatest showcase on Earth for new professional camera gear.  While you're thinking about that, think about this: it also happens to take place in one of the greatest cities the modern world has ever produced.

If you've never been to N.A.B. or Las Vegas, this blog entry can help you navigate the blurry waters of decadence that are Sin City.

1.  The exhibitions are fun for like an hour and a half, then your hangover and poolside cabana keep whispering in your ear to join them.  Don't give in.  Stay and chat.  Meet camera gurus like Philip Bloom, Vincent Laforet, and a full plethora of working professionals who can hire you for your next gig.  Everyone is hungover.  Everyone is sleep deprived.  This all adds to the circus of fun that is N.A.B.  Hunter S. would've had a ball at N.A.B., and so should you.

2.  Hydrate.  You're in the desert.  The dry heat, combined with the free alcohol the casino is supplying, rob you of your moisture.  Your hangover will be greatly reduced by quaffing large quantities of water, coconut water, or Gatorade.  Learn this pro's trick, and you'll be laughing at the noobs who are barricaded in their 62 degree, darkened hotel room.

3.  Leave the casino, and buy supplies, like ASAP.  I highly recommend the 24-hour CVS pharmacy (4490 Paradise Road @ Harmon) across from the Hard Rock Hotel.  This place has been my go to for years.  Instead of trying to hydrate with $15 casino waters, you can purchase all the $2 Fiji water you can carry.  They also have bottles of alcohol, mixers, food things, and any forgotten medicines or pharmacy crap.  But make sure you don't bring alcohol into the casino because it's against the law.  It's better to drink it in the parking lot, before entering N.A.B., because everyone in the professional video business likes a good drunken story or two.  Just DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE, DUMMY.  There are plenty of taxis to get you where you need to go.  The taxi will also wait for you in the parking lot, while you shop before you drop.  There's always UBER.

4.  Avoid gambling your rent.  I can't stress this enough.  If you choose to gamble, play games like poker, blackjack and craps.  The other games (e.g. roulette, slots, kino) are sucker's odds.  However, sports books are really good bets with the Final Four, NBA, and beginnings of baseball.  Oh yeah, there's the convention happening, too, so it's always better to be hanging out and talking shop with the kids from Kessler or Vimeo.  However, trying to gamble at Cosmo is the equivalent of running through the casino and throwing your wallet at the dealers.  Stick to MGM, Mandy Bay, Bellagio, or Caeser's.

5.  The Rhino.  'Nuff said.

6.  Avoid large groupings of frat dudes in the pool area.  It's only common sense that most of the large wading pools are, shall we say, a human liter box.  Get back to the convention hall, people.  There's new camera systems on display.

7.  Bring your gear.  Take photos and video, and post them to your blog.  There aren't enough 30-second videos from the Atomos guys' booth.  At worst, you can "gear envy" your fellow cameramen and women, and talk shop with the pros.  Get out at night, and shoot.  Head out to Red Rocks or Valley of Fire.  The Arts District in Downtown Vegas is pretty cool for murals.  Time lapses are your friend.  Bottom line, N.A.B. gives you some time alone to shoot, and get the creative juices flowing.

8.  N.A.B. is advertised as a weekend of conferences and four days of exhibits.  It's more like a weekender that drifts into two solid days of exhibits.  Wrap it up, by Wednesday (Day 3).  Get home and recover.  You have lots of video to edit.

9.  If you need any spare electronics or gear, try Fry's Electronics (6845 South Las Vegas Blvd.).  There's also Best Buy (2050 N. Rainbow Road) for some GoPro stuff.  If you're hungry, there's a new Whole Foods (6689 South Las Vegas Blvd.) that's immaculate.

10. Be friendly, humble, and cool, and you'll fit right in.  Bring business cards, and follow up with a friendly email after N.A.B.  When in doubt, if you forget what to do, see #2.