Archive for the ‘Educational Stuff’ Category

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!

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!

There are not too many times that I’m NOT inspired to write or be creative. But then there are also times when the creativity keeps flowing like a river with no end in site, and we as artists love when we are able to stay creative. I was asked by a few friends and peers of what I thought about state of the industry and what music has become today. Hmmmm Great question but I don’t think there is an easy answer. I believe things evolve as they need to because of the “times” we are in. Example you say? Ok, well how about back in the war times when all the men went to war and the women were left to tend the homes and finally lend helping hand by gathering metals for the factories to make more artillery and so on and what spawned from that, an age of music that catered to keeping the masses upbeat in the face of what was going on in the war. Later you had the “hippie”s who didn’t want to fight but make love and be easy. Music emerged from that time as well out of necessity. And times were good, as far as creativity goes. You had good music and even those that rose above the clammer to become what we call today ICONS and or legends such as Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, just to name a couple.

Unfortunately that is the same now. We’ve gotten to an age where the technology is allowing more of us to be creative and gives us the ability to put it out to the world via the internet. Now that being said, it doesn’t mean that everything that is out there is good! I think we’ve lost ourselves in the technology. There is now a fusion if you will of human and machine, cyborg musicians/artists. There is a cookie cutter standard now in the business, I sometimes don’t know to whom I’m listening to on the radio because everything and everyone sounds the same. Where is the art in that? As an artist myself, I remember going to a concert to watch Bone Thugs In Harmony and at that time I never really listend to them at all. After a few mediocre opening acts they come out and I must say, they gave a SHOW. Something for me to hold in my memory for as long as I live. it was incredible and although I may not have understood everything their fast talking rhythms spewed out, I enjoyed their show.

For me, it’s not good enough to have a good recording any more. It’s time to get back to the roots of where this started. I think a lot of the artists of today have lost touch with that. You listen to a record then hear them live and your are like WTBH. But we’ve gotten so use to that that when people go flat or even sharp it’s totally unacceptable, machines are making things sound so PERFECT, we’ve lost the human element. It’s perfect PITCH or nothing.

I had a good friend of mine send me this film regarding the “Industry” and not just music but visual arts too. I didn’t know what to expect but I ended up watching the whole thing. I suggest you do the same and draw your own conclusions about the industry. I strive for what I strive for because of what I know I want to be and see. In order to see what you want to see you have to create that yourself. You can’t expect that others are going to do it for you. Affirmations of being the change you want to see comes to mind and I am committing myself to live that! We are in a great time where a lot of playing fields are now leveled because of technology. That does not mean that EVERYONE should be an artist, but every one CAN be creative in his or her way. Find what your passion is and go forward with it. Passion knows no end, it doesn’t know what it is to be lazy or complacent.

I hope you get from this what I got from it, which is a renewed faith in what I do and what I pursue to accomplish. I want to feel like I’ve added something to this art in me just being ME!

ENJOY

(if you click on the link to watch it please support the filmmakers by rating this film on their IMDB site.  I’ll post it here as well) And as always support independent artists!

Glen Bolton aka Daddy-O, founder of Stetsasonic

I know you all are saying “hey I thought this blog was about being a directory of photography and stuff about the film industry and junk”…well it is, but every once in a while I want to share some things that I’ve been learning about BUSINESS itself and share things that has inspired me and hope it will do the same for you.  So if this doesn’t excite you in any way then you don’t have to read it. But I dare you to anyway! 🙂

I was having a hard time with this title, because the person I’m speaking about is much more than a rapper! He was an innovator of styles. Glen K. Bolton aka Daddy-O started Stetsasonic back in the 80s and had a slew of hits and was instrumental in the shaping of hip hop music since then. I had the extreme pleasure of meeting him personally at Studioplex Atlanta on Auburn St and he was so down to earth and cool.  Most at that level seem to be unapproachable.  We had some small talk about some equipment we had in common by Open Labs and then he got back to work and I was wowed by the ingenuity of his team.  Lots going on, made me step my game up, if you know what I mean.  I ended up seeing him several more times since our initial meeting and the things he’s into continue to amaze me.  I like that he is not the normal type of guy waiting for things to happen, he goes out and makes things happen.  He epitomizes the slogan “Movers and Shakers” He along with another mentor of mine Francis Palacios of East New York Entertainment of whom I’ll be blogging about shortly!

Now he adds “entrepreneur”  and “business consultant” to his already long list of accomplishments. This vet has a thing or two or five, to say about Business…check it out, please take note and tell ’em Daddy-O said so!

1. Put your creative people on the front lines

“If you do not keep your business people in the back room, patching people up, they’re going to muck it up,” says Daddy-O. “You let them talk, you’re done.”

Daddy-O is a big fan of putting the creative brains of an operation in the spotlight and keeping business people in the background for support.

In the hip-hop world, the creative people are the rappers; the business people include the record labels, the managers and anyone else helping distribute and manage the rappers’ music. Daddy-O explained that many successful rappers started off as independent artists—Master P, Cash Money, P. Diddy, to name a few. “The big checks come, they run to the big checks,” says Daddy-O. “And then ultimately, you see some of them fall off.” When business comes before art, the art suffers.

Startups and small businesses face this same problem if the business side of the operation comes before the product. Startups should focus on developing sound products, just as rappers should focusing on creating the best music that they can. Once the product, whether it be an app or a new LP, is at the top of its game, it shows—and the business will roll in from there.

Daddy-O compared business and art to a war zone: You have your foot soldiers (artists and creatives) out on the front lines, getting things done, and you have M*A*S*H (the business heads) back at the base, making sure everything runs smoothly.

2. Don’t let odds get in the way

“Passion is the kid in his mama’s house with one Marshall amp and a guitar, and his mother saying that he’s a bum, and he’s still doing it. Passion is those kids in a garage with a piece of software,” says Daddy-O. “If you’re going to be passionate about anything, you better not let odds get in the way. Because you can just strip the word passion out of there.”

Daddy-O explains that nothing should stop your passion, whether you’re a would-be rock star or a hopeful startup entrepreneur. For founding hip-hop artists, such as Daddy-O, who started rapping in 1979, there were a lot of critics of the genre who were calling it a fad or listening in disgust as DJs rubbed records the wrong way. “You think we listened?” Daddy-O asked. “It only made us scratch more. It only made us rap more, because we didn’t really care.”

Everybody’s odds are different, and you may think that attaining your business goal is impossible. If you put your passion behind it, though, you’ll always win. Whether you reach that final goal or just get pretty dang far along the way, you’ll learn something that makes it all worthwhile.

“You’re not going to be sure about most things you do in life. As songwriters facing a high degree of uncertainty, we embrace it. It actually energizes us. It’s the same butterflies that Michael Jackson got every time before he hit the stage. That degree of uncertainty is healthy if you look at it the right way; embrace it, because that’s what makes winning exciting.”

3. Never stop practicing

“Businesses fail because in the beginning you’re always practicing, always using your gift—whether that’s writing code or a new rhyme. But after your program gets picked up or after the record company signs you, you stop.”

“That’s it in a nutshell,” says Daddy-O, and he points to inspiration as the driver to keep practicing. Whether you were inspired by someone else’s work or you feel that your talent is a God-given gift, your only option is to stay inspired. Here’s a fun anecdote Daddy-O told:

“You’re in the beginning of a startup—you subscribe to Fast Company, Wired, Inc.; you’re following everything Guy Kawasaki says online; you bought all of Brian Solis’ books; you’re talking back and forth with Chris Brogan all the time, cause he’ll answer anyone; and you feel like you’re getting it. That’s until someone cuts you a check, and all of a sudden you’re out the window. All of a sudden your inspiration becomes your competition, and you’re no longer tweeting. What happened to that blog you were doing every week? What happened? Oh, you’ve got a check now. You don’t wanna fail? You don’t have an option. Stay inspired.”

4. Use what you’ve got

“The golden egg isn’t winning—it’s usage. Usage is enough. That’s all you have to do; use what you’ve got,” says Daddy-O. “That’s what Jay-Z does. He never stopped rhyming. That’s what Sean P. does. He never stopped rhyming. Every engineer I know, every developer I know, every designer I know, that’s all they do; they just use what they’ve got.

“You will continue to be inspired if you keep on doing it. There’s no way to be a break dancer and keep dancing, and not be inspired—because you will evolve if you keep doing it. You aren’t going to keep doing the same four moves every time. You’re going to get tired of the same four moves. If you’re writing code, you’re not going to keep writing the same four lines of code over and over; you’re going to get better.”

In the beginning, rap was about keeping it new. Rappers were required to have a new rhyme every time they took the stage. Making rap albums was considered “whack,” explains Daddy-O, because it meant you were recording your routine, nothing was new. As a result, rappers were constantly writing new rhymes. To get better, you’ve got to use your mojo, says Daddy-O.

This lesson has stuck with Daddy-O over the years. His business motto is, “Your evolution is inevitable if you keep doing it.”

Using what you’ve got is just as true for equipment as it is for mojo. “You ask any guitarist, and they don’t want a crappy guitar,” says Daddy-O. “But I guarantee you, Flea plays just as well on a sucky bass as a good bass, because he learned to play on a sucky bass. Use what you’ve got, and it will get you to the next level.” Don’t be jealous of the shiny, new goods that other artists or entrepreneurs are working with; make the best of what you have. Whether that’s talent or equipment, use it until you’ve exhausted it, advises Daddy-O.

5. Find where you belong

When you listen to a hip-hop artist, it’s inevitable that he will give a shout-out to his hood—be it Brooklyn, Atlanta or the Bay. A rapper’s home turf is a part of his music.

Marketers would call this concept “knowing your market,” says Daddy-O, but rappers look at it as knowing where they belong in the music world.

For businesses, it is important to understand what cluster of people your product or service is targeting and then communicate and act accordingly.

He throws in a bonus…

 Do not handle legal work alone

Along your journey to being a successful businessperson—or rapper—you’ll get the opportunity to do a lot of the work yourself, learning about different aspects of your industry and business. The only thing you should never categorize as a DIY project, says Daddy-O, is legal work. If you’re negotiating a contract, always seek legal advice. But other than that, he says, get your hands dirty.

As a young man growing up in this business it was hard to find role models to fashion myself after because I couldn’t find any one that had my thoughts, for the most part a lot of them were excited only by the outward shows of wealth, such as fancy cars, jewelry and yes folks it JEWELRY not JEWLERY I don’t know where that came from but ok….let me continue, I was more interested in longevity, residual income and still enjoying what you love to do.  Well for me, after all that has just been said, I’m not gonna reinvent the wheel or even try to come up with some hair brained scheme to make money quick.  I’m gonna hunker down and go for it!

Thanks for an inspiring lesson Daddy-O may we all take it to heart!

So you got this smash film and now what do you do with it. I’m personally not near in producing my own film yet but I want to know what my outlets are. My roots are in the music business and we also have the same issues. Distribution…the elusive holy grail. You hear it all the time, “once we get distribution, we’re set” or better yet, “trying to get distribution is a b*tch”. Most distributors aren’t looking at you unless you are doing something big on your own. Which if you think about it correctly, then you don’t REALLY NEED THEM. With how technology is now, all you need is a little time and a plan to get things out. Jon Reiss and Sherri Candler present a creative way on how to get your films out without “selling” your soul!

This is a must read for independent filmmakers that are wondering what to do next with their projects, besides entering them in film festivals and like. If you get and get it now, it’s FREE in most formats except paperback until October 1st, 2011 and after that will be available for $4.99 which is still awesome for this kind of information, definitely this is a must have in your arsenal!

Hopefully this will inspire you as it has inspired me!

Check out their website
http://sellingyourfilm.com/