Your Comfort Zone

Posted: November 4, 2013 in Educational Stuff, News

Ok so here it is. Yet another day. Have I really pushed myself to my limit, have I truly done all that I can do to achieve my goals? This question burns me every time I wake up and think to myself, maybe, just maybe if I’d pushed a little harder that door would’ve opened. I can’t stay here any more, confined, having people try to dictate what & where”THEY” think I should be. So I’m saying bye bye to my comfort zone and moving out to more rough terrain. Maybe I’ll see you, maybe I won’t.

This is my current sentiment. As I sit here to write this blog, I realized how long it has been since I wrote the last one and I’m ashamed. A lot has happened since then and some changes were good and others were AWESOME! I am no longer cosigning negativity in any way shape or form. It’s not good for me, it’s not good for you, it’s not good for anyone. We’ve been consistently encouraged to cast blame, point fingers and ridicule for bragging rights, just to prove a point. If you are not going to be part of the solution, then shut your face. And I speak to myself first. it’s like what the little boy said to NEO in the Matrix, “Don’t try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible, instead, only try to realize the “Truth”…there is no spoon!” Only a line in a movie? Or is it a revelation of the truth that we have been programmed not to see any more. We truly do not see innocently like a child any more because of life’s bombardments, that “WE” yes we allow to happen to ourselves. Remember know one “DOES” anything to you, you “ALLOW” them to do to you, thus, it is and always will be YOUR CHOICE.

This post has nothing to do with film, music, movies or gear, just thoughts that have been rumbling through the corridors of my mind.  Maybe it makes sense to some, maybe it makes no sense at all, either way, it’s your choice to do something about it. I AM DOING something about it. Those words are very powerful, I AM, and whatever you put after, sets your creative powers in motion. So instead I AM TIRED, I AM NOT having a good day, I AM not worthy of any good thing in life, say I AM…worthy, I AM HEALTHY, I AM GRATEFUL and I AM THANKFUL to be where I am right now, because remember, it could be worse.

I WILL NO LONGER BE LOOKING BACK TO THE PAST, for if I do, HOW CAN I CLEARLY SEE WHAT IS IN FRONT OF ME. BE HERE, IN YOUR MOMENT, APPRECIATE THE MOMENT, REVEL IN THE JOY OF THE MOMENT, and let it carry you to higher levels of growth and happiness!

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We were blessed to be able to work with a composer from Japan, named To-Ki who is an awesome pianist.  Neysa was inspired by a track that he composed and their collaborative efforts birthed “Addicted”.  There are more things in the works for this international collaboration! This was also Neysa’s debut as an editor!

Enjoy and expect more things to come from Neysa and her team! Special thanks to To-Ki from To-Ki Music in Japan, to Gregory Ruben of NuFocus Management, Reggie Maddox of RoughMecca Mastering and Digital Distribution, StewArt Media Studios, LLC and Hit ’em Hard Entertainment, LLC

Support Independent Music!

Ok so it’s my blog and I can write what I want to. With that said.

I’m excited to announce the release of an international collaborative effort between artist Neysa and producer Mpolo Beats from Dusseldorf Germany along with his crew of Rapper NOS9000, Camera 1/Editor Markus Friebe, actor Marek Renk and actress/model Lani Nguyen, also additional camera Denys Safra, additional camera and color correction Dennis Schroder, Director/Script writer Olli Sieger, and Assistant Patrick Deutscher round out the team in Germany.  Footage of Neysa was shot by yours truly and I’m so happy that it fit the idea and story they were doing! Special shout out to Viktoria Eb.

Can’t wait for the next project! Love from Atlanta to Germany!
Enjoy

As if the already in production “hack” was not already helping DSLR users, the team at Magic Lantern has released what they are calling their “professional” upgrade. I can say that I’ve been using it myself and I love it and I can also say that I’ve probably not used all the features and functionality that it can offer to its fullest but I’m doing more with it than most. A partner of mine especially loves the intervalometer feature so much he returned his amazon purchased intervalometer and got himself something else for the money. I love the feature of being able to listen to audio now, but I still prefer to have a independent audio recorded on a H4n or the likes whenever possible.

Here is the a link to their site and where you can download the latest rendition of the application.  Magic Lantern 

Also, with all the work they’ve done for us DSLR users, please please donate to their cause! It take a lot of time and effort and love for what they do to make our lives easier with the aid of their software.  I know I did!  For me, the aid of the sweet ISOs spots has been very useful, the intervalometer, which I’ve used for the time lapses and last but not least the histograms and ability to see the audio levels. A true labor of love is what I would call all their efforts and it continues to get better. You mus check out their new site as well!  So all you Canon users if you don’t know about Magic Lantern, here is your chance, somethings may excite you to try it and some things you may be like “eh, does nothing for me”.  In either case you know the option is there and you can choose your tools of mass film destruction!

Good Luck and Happy Shooting!

Ok, so I know this is not a new topic and there are many resources online especially YouTube and Vimeo that go into depth on these subjects. Why might you ask, am I going into it as well? Well I’ve been out a few places and have heard people refer to color grading and color correcting as the same thing. NO it is NOT, NO I SAY AGAIN IT IS NOT!

To put it in layman’s terms if I may, Color Correction is the process by which you fix any white balancing issues that may or may not be there. Increasing the contrast maybe, adjust highlights and even saturation. In most cases, a simple COLOR CORRECTION can help an alright piece of footage look GREAT! Now I’ve just scratched the surface on this portion because I want all of you to go out and check out for yourself what I’m talking about it.

Ok so now on to Color Grading.  Color Grading is done after the primary color correction is completed and can be part of the color correcting process.  Color Grading sets the overal style of your movie.  SinCity had a highly stylized grading that most people remember.  It actually helps to tell the story.  Transformers, Star Trek, Avatar and Lord of The Rings are all examples of movies that used a color grading scenario to convey a feeling or aid in the telling of these stories!

If you are still confused and you say Michael “What the heck” are you blabbering about. Here are some examples from our friends at Film Riot and oh if you didn’t know Emily is BACK! I love Emily…if you don’t know who Emily is the make sure you watch the clips below!

A little back story on some color correcting tools.  In most NLEs (Non Linear Editors) Final Cut, Premiere, Sony Vegas, AVID and the likes, come with a form of color correction, usually a 3 way color wheel of some sort.  Final Cut Studio 3 had the wonderful Color application that to me at first was a little intimidating with its bland opening screen and scary interface.  Then Red Giant came on the scene with Colorista which was so powerful everyone was talking about it.  Then they also came up with Magic Bullet Looks which had a stable of preset looks that you can apply to your project and then tweak if you wanted something more.  For the most part all of these tools can be used.  It’s up to you to choose your weapon!

Now if you are one of those that don’t have the time or the patience to learn yet another thing pertaining to this business, then there are lots of Colorists out there that specialize in this field.  Had the pleasure of meeting a few at the last Atlanta Cutter’s event.

Remember, this is a learn as you go industry.  Even right out of school, different directors and producers go about things differently. Be adaptable to all circumstances if you are able.  Learn as much as you can and when the time is right, ask questions, please not during a take…you’ll be asked to leave the set!

I’ll be talking more about this subject later as it is important!

Happy Coloring!

I’ve just finished work on a pilot by a wonderful Writer/Director named Lonnie Jackson called “UPYRI” (pronounced You PIE Ree) it’s Slovak for Vampire.  The premise is, what if a vampire had the blood of Jesus, would it change him and how? I can’t go too deep but what I was a part of, was amazing.  From the talent to the team.  It epitomized all that I’ve been reading and writing about.  It does still take a family to raise a child and in this case, the child is this wonderfully inspired idea from the mind of Lonnie Jackson.

Mr. Jackson started out with a group prayer, which he requires to keep what he calls the “Good Vibes” going and of course to have every one on the same accord and to dismiss any mishaps that may occur.  Producer and 1st AD Danielle King lead the crew and cast at a steady pace.  Nina Patterson PA/Script Supervisor assisted with some set design and was upbeat. Still photographer and 2nd Camera Cymande Coburn was on deck helping out in any capacity that was needed and had great energy along with Facility coordinator, sound, grip, electrician DreQuan MeDallion who also assisted in every way possible, Writer and wardrobe Geveryl Robinson, Hair and Makeup Iasia Anderson and yours truly as DP/Gaffer.  Cast members Cameron Miller, Darren Radcliff and Barry Piacente rounded out the team.  Their professionalism and performance made the day. Even with some conditions being not so pleasant, the spirit of the entire cast and crew was undaunted and we moved forward eagerly to reach our goal.  It was refreshing to see things move smoothly on set and with convicted direction!  There is no “I” in “TEAM” and this team proved that statement.

Also check them out on http://upyri.tv/

Although this particular footage was not the footage shot, I look forward with painted breath to the final results.

Enjoy

Ok so in a previous post I spoke about the Black Magic Design Cinema Camera. Well on Wednesday the 25th, the Atlanta Cutters had an event which featured some of Black Magic Design’s goodies.  I won’t go into too much details about the camera but you can read more details here. Bob Caniglia, the Senior Regional Manager, said that the camera at the event was the ONLY one in the US at this point.  Still in prototype stage.  There hoping for a ship time in the near future but the date is not confirmed.  At first glance the camera looked great, it was not beefed up with any super accessories as most cameras are.  It had a canon lens, I believe it was a 24-105.  Bob said that some menu items were not accessible at that time.  The aluminum body felt sturdy.  As I peered thru LCD, the image looked like the Technicolor Cinestyle Picture Style for the DSLRs, which means some awesome depth in post.

We all know where to find the specs on this camera so I won’t go into that here. Now it’s been said that some times confidence is what sells an item, not just the specs or the bells and whistles.  I heard many participants of the event say that they were not convinced, there were too many “I don’t knows” and “We’ll have to see once it’s released”.

Now with this open ended platform, they can possibly increase from 2.5k to higher with a firmware upgrade making this camera like the Red, a future proof unit in terms of increased functionality and new menu capabilities.  It was said that the limitation was due only to the media’s capacity or through put.  Another issue is the internal battery system.  The next model will probably have a way to remove the batteries, because in most cases you may not be around a power source the whole and time you are then restricted by it’s use if you run out of batter life and you are not near a power source. The currently in place procedure for replacement of the 2 year life battery is to send the unit in and they would replace it.

As a new comer in the film camera arena, it has lots of support due to it’s expected features and capabilities and of course PRICE POINT! I mean we’ve already spent $3k on the Canon 5D MkII and more for the 5D MkIII, so why not break the 1080p barrier and go into the realm of 2k.

With all that said, it’s really up to you the filmmakers to choose your weapons of mass destruction!

HAPPY FILMMAKING TO ALL!

So I was watching Monday Challenge with Ryan Connolly and the crew and he mentions Video Copilot and something called ELEMENTS. So I meander over to Videocopilot and see they’ve launched a new product. After about 30 minutes of me sitting there with my mouth dropped, I decided I need to get out more! If you guys don’t know about Video Copilot, you better get with the program!

So what do you need to know about Video Copilot? Well if you want to know anything at all about After Effects, they are the leading authority on it.  They have a wide array of tutorials for many different things that you can use a filmmaker or editor to take your projects to the next level.  Plus, he’s pretty funny! I’ve learned and used quite a few things myself.  As I said earlier, Andrew Kramer and his team have released this new application for 3D manipulation that will take your projects even higher. I’m not even going to pretend to understand how and what it really is but what it DOES is A-ma-za-zing! Check it out for yourself if you don’t believe me!

Oh and on a side note, I was sitting and watching the behind the scenes of Star Trek by JJ Abrams and heard him mention the opening title sequence was done by Andrew Kramer himself. so if you don’t believe me how outstanding he is, then take it from JJ Abrams.  He is the real deal.  So you guys better get all this knowledge and cool stuff from him before Hollywood takes him from us!

Happy Learning

Michael

Ok so in the past I’ve spoken about the importance of a “crew” in filmmaking. Well at least I think I did…so if I didn’t, here is just a tidbit of that information from a wonderful site The Black and Blue. I recently subscribed to them and have been getting wonderful bits of information, tips and knowledge.

Now we all know that the world of film is usually a visual world, right? But with bad sound that can make a good film bad and a bad film unbearable. With indie films we, and yes I said “WE” tend to skimp on things because we either can’t afford it or may not know the “RIGHT” people to get to the do the job. I would venture to say that sound is like 80 to 90 percent of your film unless of course it is a silent film or one without the need for dialogue. We’ve already got the understanding that you have to have clean shots and proper lighting, the basics, but sound is the elusive holy grail. We’ll spend money on the LED light and the new Tokina 11-16 lens but we don’t put anything in the budget for proper execution of sound acquisition. Hmmm that sounded pretty cool.

With people out there like Ryan Connolly of Film Riot, Caleb from DSLR VideoShooterKoo from NoFilmSchool, where by the way you can download a copy of a his DSRL Cinematography Guide, and Dave Dugdale from LearningDSLRVideo just to name a few, I actually watch a lot more but this is to save you from scouring over the entire internet.  I’m actually waiting for my DVD copy of the movie TELL, which I wrote about in a previous blog! Ryan Connolly and his team have me on the edge of my seat and eagerly waiting for the next installment of media mayhem they successfully provide along with a hearty mindful of knowledge for that bootay! The DVD package is something I’m excited about because Ryan is providing some really NICE extra material that I’m dying to see.  Maybe one day I’ll have some thing worthy of him directing! That’s on my santa’s wish list along with my RED camera. But I digress, I was just saying that with these resources online you should be able to get your sound to a level where it need not be CRAPPY (yes that’s a technical word)! And yes it is a learning process, each situation will dictate a different method of working around a particular problem.  We’ve got H4ns, H1s, Tascams, Rodes, I mean the list goes on, so please please pay attention to your SOUND!

Sorry I think I rambled on too much.  Without further adieu

Thanks to Evan Luzi from The Black and Blue for this wonderful video!

This is an exciting post because again, if you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m a sucker for cartoon movies. I have an extensive collection of them. Well today I will be talking about two movies I just watched this past week. Madagascar and Brave.

I must say this, usually I’m not happy with the last movie in a trilogy but I accept it because it completes a set. Yes very simple I know but it’s how I roll (line from Despicable Me). Anyway, I was happily surprised with Madagascar 3, Chris Rock and the Polka Dot  Afro Song is hilarious.  All your favorite characters are back with the introduction of some new ones.  I will say this, see it in 3D, it’s fantastic.

Marty

Marty The Zebra

Alex

Alex The Lion

Melman

Melman The Giraffe

Gloria

Gloria The Hippo

The Penguins

Circus Animals

King Julian, Maurce & Mort

Brave – by Pixar, hmmm it was cute, not what I expected I guess.  But enjoyed it anyway. I felt like I never really connected with the lead character Merida voiced by Kelly Macdonald who if you didn’t know played in Harry Potter’s last movie as Helena Ravenclaw, she just seemed like a spoiled brat.  But like many other stories, Merida is misunderstood by her parents and she wants to do things her way!  There is a very important message there, though and that’s KEEP THE FAMILY BONDS STRONG! Some thing that is desperately needed in the world today! Billy Connolly also lends his voice talent to Fergus (I wonder if he’s any relations to the Connolly’s we love from Film Riot…I have tweet him about that) and Emma Thompson as Elinor, Julie Walters as the witch and we know her as Molly Weasley. Also Robbie Coltrane who we loved as Rubeus Hagrid who voices Lord Dingwall.  This is almost a Harry Potter Reunion…ok…maybe not 😦

Merida

What else can I say about it, it’s PIXAR, expect great looking graphics and EFX as usual, lovable and funny characters, that everyone can relate to or can say “hey my uncle is like that” – well at least some of us…lol

Two great movies to go and see if you haven’t already!

Until next time…

M