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Docracy is resource for freelancers and small businesses who are looking for basic, boilerplate legal agreements. Looks like a handy resource. And they have a clever promo video, watch below…

(via @PabloKorona

Lovely new music video from Director Jesse Rosten. Go. Watch.

For Nikon’s D800 DSLR launch in Bankok, they showed off a beautiful promo video that leads the viewer to believe was shot on Nikon D800 cameras. Except portions of it were stolen footage from a user who shoots Canon 5D MKII. And they also lifted a shot from The Art of Flight trailer that likely wasn’t even a DSLR shot! Steve’s Digicams has the scoop, and offers proof in the form of the original videos where the footage was swiped from. Anyone who saw the Joy Ride D800 launch video knows that the camera performs well. Why steal Canon footage? If it was the post-house working for Nikon who made this mistake…well they can kiss that contract goodbye.

The latest news is that Nikon has apparently contacted the user who initially complained about the footage theft, and is pulling the video and working to resolve the issue. Read the comments at that same link for some discussion that points out even more shots not taken with the D800, some shot a year or more ago. Whoever put this video together (the rumor is that it was a local agency) did a great job of misrepresenting other camera footage as D800 footage. That may not have been Nikon’s intent, but that’s how it plays out, and it’s a poor reflection on the company in general.

Here’s a few screencaps from the videos at Steve’s Digicams that illustrate this footage theft.

Canon DSLR Original Video

Canon DSLR Footage used in Nikon D800 Promo

Art of Flight Trailer Original Footage

Art of Flight Footage used in Nikon D800 Promo

Several months ago, Christ in Youth brought me on as Director of Photography for a promo film project. CIY projects are always a pleasure to work on, because they understand the value of well-produced content that tells a clear message with compelling visuals. We shot this promo on the Sony FS100 using my Zeiss Contax lens set, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out overall.

Some of the challenges that we faced on this shoot were quite a bit of greenscreen and tracking work (the FS100 performed beautifully), potential brick wall moire concerns, shutter sync issues with the 16mm film projector prop, and a shoot day that nearly went overtime due to location audio noise.

You can watch the finished promo below, and I’ve written a very long, detailed article on the technical and creative challenges of the shoot over at my ClearCreek Productions filmmaking website.

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

Here’s a short from Paul Schneider that I found inspiring. Watch below…

I recently had to integrate slides from several presentations into a corporate event video edit. The presentations were sent to me in Powerpoint .pptx and Keynote .key formats. Neither of which I was able to open…my version of Powerpoint could only handle .ppt files, and I don’t own Apple Keynote. It turns out that Google Docs has the capability of converting .ppt presentation files, but not .pptx. Finally, I didn’t want to bother the client with trying to get different formats, as they came from several different sources and there was no telling what I’d end up with. So there I was, stuck in the seventh-circle of format hell. Sound familiar?

I sent the .pptx files to a friend of mine who has access to the right software, and he converted them for me (there is a batch “save slides as jpg” feature in Powerpoint). However, the jpeg images came out low-res and overly-compressed. Could have been a settings thing, not sure on that. So while I was trying to find a solution for the poor quality Powerpoint batch exports, I ran across an online file conversion tool called Zamzar. They claimed that they can convert .pptx and .ppt files to PNG and .key files to PPT (which could then be processed to PNG). This seemed far too good to be true for a free online service, but I was running out of options so I gave it a shot. What could it hurt, right?

Well I’ll be damned if it didn’t work. And beautifully.

Within about 45 minutes, Zamzar converted my three pptx presentations and emailed me ZIP’s containing high-quality 2479×3508 (300dpi) PNG files. The Keynote file was converted to .PPT, which I then processed to PNGs. I could have then batched these PNGs through Photoshop to generate JPGs, but as FCP handles PNG just fine, I just cut the presentation together without converting to JPG. One of the presentations was even 25MB in size, and Zamzar uploaded and converted it just fine. Wow.

Anyway, I just had to share about this tool. I was blown away at how quick and simple Zamzar’s free service was. Maybe it will prove useful to you as well. Check them out.

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…

Just watched this long, detailed overview of the NEX FS100 camera from Sony, compliments of Den at F-Stop Academy. There are few surprises with this new approach from Sony. Very very interesting. Looks like the AF100 and DSLRs finally have some competition in the sub-10K price range.

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.

180-degree shutter angle. It’s a rule of filmmaking. Don’t break it, unless you know what you are doing. And these guys shooting a commercial for Subaru know exactly what they are doing…

Tune in this Thursday for the one-year anniversary of Midtown Video’s live show, the .video show with Jesse Miller. It will be Thursday August 19th at 6:30pm Eastern time. More info at www.jtown.tv. Among other topics, I’ll be discussing several cool new products that are emerging, leaking a little info on some unreleased tools. Tell your friends, and tune in Thursday to see my ugly mug.

vise_compressionThis week Google announced they would be open-sourcing the VP8 codec, which was acquired from On2 some time ago. The format is being called WebM, but to be clear WebM is the container name, which will encapsulate VP8. Given the recent hullabaloo about MPEG-LA’s control of H.264, an open codec like VP8 seems like a good thing for the web. In fact, Randall Bennett says that Google needs to get a little evil and push the adoption of this new format. But others are not so willing to back VP8.

Google will assumedly be moving Youtube to VP8 delivery, and they have a host of technology partners who have agreed to implement the tech. But Microsoft has been silent on the subject. And Apple is apparently not impressed either…in a short email exchange, Steve Jobs pointed to a technical critique of VP8 that concludes it is a subpar alternative to H.264. The article also notes that the codec appears to be immature, rushed to release, and may have lingering patent issues. The MPEG-LA has already stated they are looking into creating a patent pool for VP8, which suggests that someone still owns the tech, or thinks they do.

Let’s assume that the patent thing is worked out, and VP8 goes open-source without issues. Google integrates it everywhere, because they have fingers in every pie. My concerns are that right at a point where the web seems to be moving to a somewhat standardized format, using HTML5 and H.264, that VP8 confuses the issue and creates a rift. If Apple and others decide not to add VP8 support, we’ve got Flash video all over again. Two competing formats, and devices that support one but not the other. And while these huge companies duke it out in the format wars, users lose. Content creators who have to build sites for both formats lose.

It used to be that if you wanted people to watch your content you offered multiple format options: Windows Media, Quicktime, Flash, Realplayer (ugh, I just threw up in my mouth a little). In the past few years we’ve somehow managed to narrow things down to just 1-2 of these options, and then WHAM along comes another format. We now know that VP8 is reportedly not technically superior to H.264. But is VP8 cheaper? Yes, if MPEG-LA starts charging for H.264 web distribution in 2015. So the other important question is, is VP8 better for users? It remains to be seen, but right now I think the answer is no.

As the creator of the successful web series “The Guild,” Felicia Day knows a thing or two about creating a loyal audience on a shoestring budget. She recently did a Q&A video for Reddit, and there were some really interesting nuggets of wisdom in that video that I think apply to independent filmmakers and content creators. The video interview is embedded below, the relevant portion I’m referring to is between 5:00 and 7:20 minutes. Check it out.