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Monday, September 27, 2010

A Reel Education: Preproduction The Preacher's Daughter

A Reel Education: Preproduction The Preacher's Daughter: "I'm worried about this project. Last Thursday 9/21/10 production was to have a truck delivered for the loading of the lighting equipment to ..."

Preproduction The Preacher's Daughter

I'm worried about this project. Last Thursday 9/21/10 production was to have a truck delivered for the loading of the lighting equipment to Houston Community College.

The Production is tight on funds that they are using the filmmaking programs advanced students to staff the film. Only department heads have any real non-academic experience. This will be the seventh project that I have worked on where Real World producers come to HCC to take advantage of this opportunity. Its a win win situation usually. However this production's non-academic production manager is struggling with this micro-budget show.

Back to the equipment truck example. It didn't come until today at 6:15pm. However I have been waiting since Thursday last week for its arrival. everyday. I repeat, everyday they have told me that the truck is coming. So I and the students have been waiting. Today was the make or break since in the morning call is at 6:30am. I have to say that the students stepped up. An empty 24' U-haul showed up and by 9:30pm shelves had been installed and a 5-ton G&E package, was loaded up one of those steep ramps.

If this crop of students steps up like this for the whole show. Any other problems encountered can't be blamed on HCC's filmmaking students.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Reel Education: The Preacher's Daughter and the AJA Ki Pro

A Reel Education: The Preacher's Daughter and the AJA Ki Pro: "One of the most important choices facing filmmakers these days has come about because of the move to digital image capture. The possible cho..."

The Preacher's Daughter and the AJA Ki Pro

One of the most important choices facing filmmakers these days has come about because of the move to digital image capture. The possible choices for image acquisition are formidable. There are so many different cameras, different formats, different recording media and different compression codecs it can drive a filmmaker crazy just trying to keep up with all of the choices. A dream of many filmmakers is for uniformity so that image acquisition could be the same for virtually any camera, digital or analog. AJA has heard the call and produced the Ki Pro.
It is a tapeless video recording device that records high-quality Apple ProRes 422 QuickTime files onto computer-friendly media. It features SD/HD-SDI, HDMI, and analog inputs, it allows the filmmaker to interface with almost any type of camera that can be purchased or rented. The Ki Pro also allows for monitoring flexibility through several simultaneous outputs allowing the filmmaker to connect to both professional and consumer monitors.
The unit is portable and rugged. It has been designed for the demands of the toughest production conditions.
The Preacher’s Daughter will be using the Ki Pro via HD/SDI to capture a “thicker negative,” with a 10-bit full-raster codec-Apple ProRes 422. Since The Preacher’s Daughter will be edited using FCP the native capture to Apple ProRes 422 QuickTime files for this production was a no brainer. We will be capturing straight to a hard drive. We will also be capturing to the SxS cards in the camera as a backup. Since this will be A Reel Educations’ first production to do this it will be interesting to see the quality difference of the two capture formats back to back.
The unit is powered through an industry standard 4-pin XLR, which makes it flexible with both AC and battery options power options. It also has both balanced and unbalanced audio connectors, LTC input/output, and even LANC, are provided.
A Reel Education will keep you updated on how the Ki Pro works out. There is a lot of good buzz out there and we are excited to find out the truth.
The video is right off of AJA’s website. Hope the hype stands the test of production.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Camera Filters

One question that i get asked all of the time is about camera filters. Filters come basically in three categories.

* Light Modification
* Special Effects
* Color Correction

This blog is about ND filters and how to use one on your video camera to get a shorter Depth of Field, or shallower in focus, thus getting more of a film look without using a DOF adapter. 

Neutral Density filters are used for light modification and are the filters that get used the most. On many Prosumer camcorder ND filters are included.

The thing about a Neutral Density filter is that it reduces the amount of light without changing the color or quality of the light.
On film and video cameras ND filters have three main uses.
* To decrease DOF by allowing wider apertures to be used, which helps separate subjects form the background.
* To decrease the effective ISO of high speed films above 400 and allow it to be used outdoors in bright situations
* To allow film and video cameras with fixed sutter speeds to film subjects that are bright like snow or sand without overexposure.

ND filter come in four main factors. Or thicknesses.
* An ND.3 often referred to as just an N3 or ND3 cuts 1 stop of light, or reduces the ISO by half.
* An ND.6 often referred to as just an N6 or ND6 cuts 2 stops of light, or reduces the ISO by 1/4 (this is usually the first ND setting in a prosumer camera referred to as a 1/4 ND.)
*an ND.9 often refered to as just an N9 or ND9 cuts 3 stops, or reduces the ISO by 1/8.
*An ND1.2 often referred to as an N1.2 or ND1.2 cuts 4 stops, or reduces the ISO by 1/16 (this is usually the second ND setting in a prosumer camera referred to as a 1/16 ND.)

One thing that video cameras tend to have is a very deep DOF. By zooming as much as possible and adding the appropriate combination of filters you can open the iris as much as possible and this will shorten the DOF thus providing a out of focus background. When you zoom in you will need to physically back your camera up from your subject until the size of your subject is about the same in frame as when you were on a wider angle lens setting.

Go try it. Experiment and have some fun getting that out of focus look that is so desired.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Houston Community College Filmmaking Program

This innovative program is helping young want-a-be filmmakers achieve their dream. Learn how this program is giving filmmaking students real world experiences, while still in school. The Preacher's Daughter film will be crewing most of its staff positions with students from this program.

The Evolution of Media Convergence

Six experts are interviewed about technology and the current trend to blend both media and technology into a single type of platform.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Preacher''s Daughter - The Camera

The production budget of The Preacher's Daughter is very small. It is a micro-budget in reality. As such the camera for this production will be the Sony PMW EX-3, and will use a Red Rock Encore M2 depth of field adapter. Zeiss SLR prime lenses with a Nikon mounts will be used with the adapter.  There is also a Nikon 80mm to 200mm zoom lens as part of the package. There is talk about using a Nikor 10mm to 24mm super wide angle zoom lens, but testing will take place to see if it provides the necessary affect desired by the Cinematographer.
The advantage of using this adapter is that it will create more of a film look with this 1/2 inch three chip camera. If you have never used a 35mm adapter before you might be asking how one works.
A 35mm adapter simulates the conditions that allow for shallow depth of field that is easily achieved with larger format 35mm lenses. Traditionally video has a long depth of field. The Depth of field is the area which remains in focus. When you watch the news on TV for example a reporter on the street is in focus, and so is the building and people across the street. When you watch a move depending upon the shot, the star sitting at a table at an out door cafe' is in focus but he people in the background across the street are out of focus.
The Red Rock Encore M2 is a small box that has a piece of ground glass inside. Similar to a glass pane in a bathroom window except on a much finer scale. This ground glass spins so that the camera is unable to see the roughness of this glass, which adds that sought after film look to the image. If you were to run your finger over the glass you could feel the roughness. With out this roughness the light would pass directly through the glass just like any window. This roughness allows the image from the lens at the front of the adapter to be seen by camera.
In reality the video camera is filming a small TV screen which is showing the image viewed by the SLR lenses.
So for very little money The Preacher's daughter will be able to film in video, saving thousands of dollars in film stock, and processing, and work print cost. Yest still achieve a short depth of field and a grainy film look.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Preachers Daughter

For the last two days we have been scouting locations for the film. On this project I will be the Lighting Director working with my friend and fellow cinematographer John Sheeren. The Director/Writer of the film is Michelle Mower, and we will be filming in the greater Houston, TX area. I will attempt to provide information about the technical aspects of camera, lighting, grip and sound recording on this film.
For the past two days for about 13 work hours a day we have been dong a combination of location and technical scouts for the film.
Typically location scouting and technical scouts are performed at different times but due to the availability of certain crew members the scouts were combined. Just so you understand a little of what is involved in a scout we over the two days our little group of 6 to 10 people at different times traveled a over 450 miles around the greater Houston area. That's a lot of travel time and we still didn't lock down all of the locations. If you have a map of Houston we will be shooting mostly south of the city in the Friendswood and surrounding areas and in the Richmond/Rosenberg areas. However we did travel as far away as Wharton, Texas to the south and League City to the Southeast of Houston.
The film is not period but does take place mostly in rural looking small town atmospheres. The Preacher's Daughter is about a recovering addict who returns home, and discovers her younger brother following in her footsteps. And she finds a mission to save him from making the same mistakes as she did.