Archive for the ‘Recommended Reading’ Category

Achieving Smooth Slow Motion

Monday, November 10th, 2008

One of the things people struggle with in the digital video medium is creating a smooth, rich slow motion effect. In film you can simply overcrank the frame rate and create slow motion, free from duplicate frames. If you own the Panasonic HVX or Varicam you can now do the same thing in the HD video world. But what about those shooting DV? Ordinarily when you shoot DV footage, bring it into your timeline, then slow it down, you can tell that frames are being duplicated. The footage doesn’t look quite as sharp and it has a slight jittery feel. Here’s a little trick I learned from reading The DVX Book by Barry Green. First, shoot your original footage in 60i, using a shutter speed of 1/120. When you load the footage into your timeline, slow it down to 40%. This will give you a nice, rich slow motion look with no duplicate frames.

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The HVX Bible

Monday, September 29th, 2008

I recently purchased the new Panasonic HVX-200a, a recent update to the original HVX-200. I was pleased to see that The HVX Book by Barry W. Green was included with my purchase. This is a great sidekick for anyone using the HVX. He also wrote a companion volume for DVX-100 users, aptly named The DVX Book.

Both books provide valuable information on how to achieve the best results from these impressive prosumer cameras. Every feature of the camera is explained in detail, but Green also provides important technical information that you won’t find in the manuals. He also gives helpful hints on how to use the camera to improve your cinematography skills.

What excited me the most about The HVX Book was a companion CD which contains about 24 different scene file presets.* The presets give the user an incredible amount of options for the way the image looks on screen — the “war epic” setting is a desaturated look, similar to Saving Private Ryan. “Desert” has a bit of an orange cast. “Dark Neo” mimics the look of the Matrix movies. This is a great tool for anyone who uses the DVX or HVX.

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*Both the DVX and the HVX have six different scene files. Each scene file is customizable so you can adjust picture saturation, hue, tint, noise, frame rates, etc. Each setting you manipulate is stored within the scene file, so you can create multiple looks at the turn of the dial.

This Movie Ain’t Gonna Shoot Itself

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Birmingham filmmaker Chance Shirley of Crewless Productions is currently in production on his follow-up feature to Hide and Creep called Interplanetary. He maintains a blog that gives regular updates on the film’s progress, as well as valuable insights into movie making. One of his latest articles I found particularly informative. In it he discusses how he went about developing and writing the screenplay for Hide and Creep. It’s worth a read for all aspiring screenwriters.

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Filmmaking On the Cheap

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

A couple of years ago I read Robert Rodriguez’s book Rebel Without a Crew, in which he documents how he made his break-through film El Mariachi. His dedication is very admirable and inspiring. He actually sold his body to science to raise the $7000 budget for his movie. In the following clip, he discusses some of the techniques which allowed him to shoot an action movie on film and keep the costs down. Thanks to Strobist where I first saw the video.

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Improving Your Skills

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Although I’ve been in this business for several years, I am never naive enough to think I have learned all I need to know about being a director and cinematographer. I am constantly looking for ways to improve myself, whether by reading books, blogs, or watching other demo reels. I think the latter is most beneficial, because you get the chance to see exactly what other people are shooting. The more I surround myself with knowledgeable cinematographers, the more I will continue to grow in my craft. I think that’s a lesson for all of us, whether you work in production or not. Surrounding yourself with people that are better need not be a feeding ground for jealous competition. Mutual learning can take place. Here are a few things I’m reading to keep my chops up:

Placing Shadows: Lighting Techniques for Video Production by Chuck Gloman and Tom Letourneau. The authors give a crash course on the physics of light and the color spectrum before moving into details on all kinds of lighting gear and lighting techniques. Very informative. is a great online forum where you can discuss the craft with other directors and cinematographers.

Studio Daily is a catch-all for all things technical about movie making. There are case studies from Hollywood films, reviews, tutorials, blogs, videos, and information on the business side of filmmaking. I just came across this site recently and look forward to reading it.

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