Off Topic

Mars Rover Curiosity’s 17 Cameras

Nice article over at Wired about the photo and video systems on the Mars Rover Curiosity.

Home Movie Director’s Commentary

This is a bit of offtopic fun…imagine if home videos had a director’s commentary track like most films. It would be a little something like this…

Home Video Commentaries: Not Where You Saw

Home Video Commentaries: Chorophobia

Home Video Commentaries: There’s A Bear

Incredible collection of behind-the-scenes photography here, candid moments from films we all know and love. Not to be missed.

An FYI about April Fools Day

Just a heads up…here at FreshDV, we’re planning on ignoring any April Fools Day pranks and fake news. We’ll probably just avoid posting anything all-together, as 4/1 really seems to bring out the crazy rumors and hijinks amongst bloggers. So you have my word that if we do happen to post anything on 4/1, we’ll do our best to vet it fully. Now back to your regularly scheduled Monday morning procrastination…

Saturday comes after Friday

The order of days of the week is one of the exciting facts you’ll learn if you watch Rebecca Black’s music video “Friday.” You’ve probably heard of it…and I’m not going to link it here, or I’d feel obligated to cut my wrists with a rusty knife. Anyway, for a little fun, Dylan Reeve did some detective work on it to discover the skyline used as a backdrop in the film. Clever post…

This blog post may bring back some memories. Do you you remember the Quantel Paintbox?

Here’s an interesting short clip from a panel discussion with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park. In it, they talk about how when they were making their first film as nobody independent filmmakers, the MPAA was less than helpful. They go on to discuss how that attitude from the ratings agency changed once they made a film with a major studio involved.

Q: What is the difference between a DP & God?
A: God doesn’t think he’s a DP

Here are 10 Camera Department Crew Jokes and links to other film nerd funnies (like the always hilarious Subtleties of the Slate video, embedded below).

Cool single-take advert

So a few years back I apparently missed this fabulous one-take ad for Johnnie Walker. Entitled “The Man Who Walked Around The World,” a one-take (or appears to be one-take) shot that must have required incredible pre-production work to get the timing down just right. Excellent performance as well by Robert Carlyle.

This is a good one, so if you haven’t seen it yet, watch below. Love to know who steadicam op’d that project.

Is the following short film Oscar-worthy? Roger Ebert thinks so. This short (embedded below) was shot during the Christmas blizzard in NYC on a Canon 7D. Why does Ebert think it’s award-winning?

“(1) Because of its wonderful quality. (2) Because of its role as homage. It is directly inspired by Dziga Vertov’s 1929 silent classic “Man With a Movie Camera.” (3) Because it represents an almost unbelievable technical proficiency. It was filmed during the New York blizzard of Dec. 26, and Jamie Stuart e-mailed it to me with this time stamp: December 27, 2010 4:18:18 PM CST.

You can tell from the cinematography he knew exactly what he was doing and how to do it. He held the Vertov film in memory. Stuart must already been thinking of how he would do the edit and sound. Any professional will tell you the talent exhibited here is extraordinary.”

I need to be careful with the following point…let me first say that I think that Jamie Stuart has done a beautiful job on this short, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I think Roger Ebert is perhaps connecting more personally with the direct homage to “Man With a Movie Camera” than most others will, and I feel he’s overstated it’s importance.

I’ll grant that 1 and 2 are fair points, but if we’re handing out Oscars just because someone turned a short film edit around in 24hrs, then I know a few dozen journalists and Same Day Edit wedding filmmakers who deserve their own Academy awards! Hell, by that metric maybe FreshDV’s NAB video coverage is Oscar-worthy! Kidding of course…but the point being that I know loads of professionals who can turn around work like this in a few hours, and admirable as that is, I hardly think that makes their work Oscar-worthy. What do you think?

Watch Jamie Stuart’s “Idiot With A Tripod” short:

UPDATE: As long as we’re nominating shorts for Academy Award consideration, I nominate Jesse Rosten’s “Growing is Forever.” Beats the hell out of anything I’ve seen online in a long time. Watch below:

Growing is Forever from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

The Beauty of Pixar

A truly amazing group of creatives. Here’s a look back.

A few days ago Jesse Rosten posted a beautiful short film chronicling the adventures of his “wee beastie” on a trip in Northern CA. It was a fun little film shot on DSLR, and I’m happy to see that he posted a behind the scenes video showing how they pulled off some of the dynamic shots. Very cool, check out both videos here.

This is somewhat offtopic from the normal geeky banter here at FreshDV, but in the spirit of the Christmas season I wanted to share two creative shorts. The first is entitled “December,” and is from filmmaker Andreas Pasvantis. The second is a short film entry for a contest that indie filmmakers will certainly appreciate. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays to your and yours!

Update: Here’s a Behind the Scenes blog entry for the second clip embedded below.

December from 328 Stories on Vimeo.

cozumel-hammockI recently picked up a GoPro HD Naked camera specifically for a vacation in Cozumel. We had scuba dives scheduled, and I wanted a simple point and shoot option to capture video and stills with a minimum of mess and annoyance. Sure, I’d have loved to rent a full housing for a 5DMK2…but that’s relatively bulky, and I wasn’t looking for perfect quality; I wanted simplicity on this trip. After all, who wants to work on a vacation?

From that standpoint, the GoPro really fit the bill. It’s a simple little camera, with very few controls and not even an LCD for framing. You just point it blindly, trusting that it’s ultra-wide fixed-focus f2.8 lens will get the shot. And along the way, can capture some really pretty stuff. It’s actually a little bit freeing to not be able to see the LCD…you just “spray and pray,” and the results can be surprising. And did I mention it’s cheap? The HD Hero Naked is only $260.

cozumel-dive-stills-1Underwater, the current stock GoPro housing has a bit of an issue. It is waterproof to beyond normal scuba depths, but there is a problem with soft edges in the video frame. Apparently this stems from the curved-lens housing design. It is my understanding that GoPro is aware of the issue and is officially working on an updated housing for divers.

Knowing this in advance, I picked up an Eye of Mine flat-port housing, which is basically a DIY mod of the stock GoPro housing. The Eye of Mine housing will vignette a touch in the stills mode, but the GoPro’s slightly cropped 1080p mode doesn’t have any issues with vignetting. This modded housing looks a bit ugly, but performed perfectly for me at depths up to 85ft.

cozumel-dive-stills-2Battery life on the camera is excellent. The small rechargeable battery is good for upwards of an hour of on-and-off shooting. I was able to get two full dives out of the camera, with plenty of battery to spare. I recorded to an el-cheapo 16GB Transcend media card.

The size of the camera is both a pro and a con. On the pro side, you can just stuff it in a pocket on your BCD and just pull it out when you wish. But that svelte size also means that the footage can be shaky as there is very little inertia and it’s difficult to grasp well with two hands. Thankfully, the wide lens hides some of these small camera indiscretions. You could easily attach handgrips or even headmount the camera to help avoid handheld shakes. I’m sure Zacuto or someone else as prolific will release full rigs for these cameras at some point. GoPro also has a number of mounting options, though they tend to market towards extreme sports shooters.

cozumel-dive-stills-3I shot quite a bit of video from our dives, and will be doing some CC and editing on that footage for a later post, but for now here are some stills snapped with the relatively low-res 5MP GoPro stills mode. Some of these have had minor retouching. Click through for larger versions, and enjoy!

Full disclosure: FreshDV is now a GoPro affiliate (because we think they make cool gear), you can shop via our link here: Official GoPro® Store.

Disney is selling the Miramax arm and titles to Filmyard Holdings, LLC. It’s a $660 million dollar sale, and it appears that Disney plans to invest that money into blockbusters.