Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sony HDR-CX7 Camcorder Review

by Digital Camcorder News

Tapeless camcorders have become a hot ticket item and Sony is never far behind the trends. The HDR-CX7 nearly oozes ease-of-use, with few buttons or input/output jacks in sight. Sony’s first Memory Stick camcorder is definitely a looker, but will it deliver?

Quick Tour
The back of the camcorder is simple, with the power/mode switch and the record button being the only two buttons available. I really liked the recessed battery compartment, which, even with a high-capacity battery, keeps the camcorder looking slim and trim. Pull back the flaps next to the battery and you have your Mini HDMI, A/V output, and charging jack.

It should be noted that, because the battery is not fully enclosed, Sony gives you the option of using a high-capacity battery. Some manufacturers are manufacturing camcorders with enclosed battery compartments, which makes them look cleaner, but also makes it impossible for a larger battery to fit.

The LCD screen dominates the left side of the HDR-CX7, but when open (which it will be all the time since the HDR-CX7 doesn’t have a viewfinder) you have access to the main array of buttons on the camcorder. These include the back light, display button, index button, play button, easy mode, and the Nightshot switch. Also hidden underneath the LCD screen is the Memory Stick PRO Duo slot, just barely accessible when the camcorder is on a tripod.

Video Quality
Video quality on the Sony HDR-CX7 looks really, really good. The 1/2.9″ CMOS sensor, which all of Sony’s top HD camcorders use, really does the trick. Colors are saturated just a little, but not overly so. Sony definitely hit a nice color balance.

The image is sharp, and the average camcorder user will be very happy with its performance. The prosumer may be able to nitpick and find something to complain about if they compare it to, say, the Sony HDR-HC7 HDV camcorder, but, overall, in the tapeless, memory-card camcorder market, this is the best I have seen.

Sony also seems to have solved much of the problem of motion artifacting. This occurs when there is a lot of movement in a scene, and AVCHD camcorders have been notorious to this point for creating a sort of motion trail look, which seriously degrades the image. Though there was just a little bit of artifacting apparent on the HDR-CX7, I had to specifically look for it to find it.

Low-light performance was decent, and should not disappoint the point-and-shoot market for which Sony has manufactured the CX7. In situations withlow light levels, the HDR-CX7 produced a fair amount of grain.

Touch and Feel
Sony’s touch-screen menu system is not loved by all, but over the past few generations of camcorders they have evolved it into a menu system that is much better than it was previously. Point-and-shoot users will appreciate the fact that there are not that many options that you have to stress over. More advanced users will wonder where some of the manual settings have disappeared to.

The target market for the Sony HDR-CX7 is definitely point-and-shoot, but it would have been nice to see a few more manual controls. However, you do get a few things like spot focus, spot meter, white balance, and a very basic exposure setting to play around with and satisfy your controlling side.

If you still feel overwhelmed by the sparse menu options you can also elect to press the "Easy" button. This puts the CX7 into an idiot-proof mode that completely automates everything. Grandma will thank you for this.

Recorded footage can be played back right away on the camcorder by hitting the play button (who would have thought?) on the side of the camcorder or on the lower left of the LCD screen. Up comes a screen with thumbnails of the scenes you have recorded. Tap a thumbnail and your selected scene begins playing immediately.

Sony does not include a Mini HDMI cable with the Sony HDR-CX7, which is a bit of a letdown for those who want to utilize their snazzy new home theater systems. They do include the component cable, but there is no component output on the camcorder itself.

The Sony HDR-CX7 was really fun to use, and produces great quality images. I would highly recommend it for the point-and-shoot user who wants a small, compact camcorder that records to flash memory. If you are a more advanced user, make sure you are OK with only a sparse offering of manual controls.

Whether you are shooting a birthday party, family events, vacations, or just horsing around, the Sony HDR-CX7’s small size and great quality will serve you well if you can front the cash.

Pros: Small and lightweight. Easy to use. Great image quality.
Cons: No viewfinder. OIS not effective enough. Spartan manual controls.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Performing an Audio Pan in FCP


You can make your audio more dynamic in Final Cut Pro by panning sound effects from the left speaker to the right from within the Viewer Window.

A sound effect, such as a passing car panning from the left speaker to the right, can add another dimension to your project and lessen the flatness of canned sound effects.

Before you try this, keep in mind that you only need a mono clip to perform this effect, so if you have a stereo pair, unlink the two and delete one of the tracks.

1 Double click on the audio clip to load it into the viewer.
2 Click on the channel tab in the Viewer Window.
3 Option click on the purple audio spread overlay in order to get the pen tool to create keyframes and drag the points of the line so that it looks like the diagram below. When you begin to move the purple overly you will see a pink line underneath it. It helps if you think of it in this way: think of anything above the pink line as being the right channel and anything below as being the left channel.

Now the audio in this clip will pass from the left speak through the right when played.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Final Cut Pro “SuperMeet” Announced

Tickets are now on sale for the seventh annual FCPUG “SuperMeet” to be held January, 16, 2008 from 5:000PM - 10:00PM at the Mission Bay Conference Center, as part of the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, CA. This event promises to be the single largest gathering of Final Cut Pro users and Gurus in the world.

“The Mission Bay Conference Center is the largest venue we have ever had for one of these Macworld SuperMeets,” said Michael Horton, founder of the Los Angeles Final CutPro User Group. (lafcpug) and co-organizer of the SuperMeet. It is a brand new state of the art facility and the interior space is magnificent and spacious. This will be a sort of a Mini Macworld devoted entirely to Digital Video filmmakers and editors.”

The agenda is “Super Secret” according to Mr. Horton, but will be revealed shortly before the event date. “We can promise you this though,” he added; “There will be demos of new products, Final Cut Studio Tips and Tricks, show and tells, plenty of networking opportunities, and of course, our world famous Raffle with prizes totaling over $35,000.”

Tickets are only $10.00 per person and includes 2 raffle tickets. Tickets are on sale online only and it is expected this event will sell out. Food and cash bar will be available throughout the evening. Doors open at 5:00PM and this event is open to anyone who wishes to learn more about Apple’s Final Cut Studio or meet people who know more than you do.

For more information as well as a link to where to buy tickets, visit the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group website.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

USC film School gets $2 million Grant

Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy Enterprises, has donated $2 million US to the University of Southern California to fund an archive to preserve student films and historic documents.

The money will also create an exhibition space in the new headquarters of the university's School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles. The archive, which already bears Hefner's name, holds more than eight decades of student films, including works by famous alumni such as George Lucas.

Hefner, 81, has already been generous toward USC's film school, donating $1.5 million in 1995 to create the Hugh M. Hefner Chair for the Study of American Film. He also gave $100,000 in 1992 to create a course on film censorship and has contributed millions to film preservation.

USC was also the recipient of a $175 million donation from alumni George Lucas last year. The amount included $75 million for the construction of new educational buildings and renovations of existing structures at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and a $100-million endowment for the school.

Sources: USC news and CBC

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Readership of the Digital Filmmaking Blog

Hi dear readers,

this is a very personal post to all of you :)

You must be wondering, why is this kid updating his blog so randomly? Has he got bored...or is it writer's bloc?

Well, neither. I sure cant get bored of anything related to filmmaking - an emotion I'm sure is shared by all passionate filmmakers, film students and film buffs! As for writer's bloc, to be honest - that's an impossibility as well because all my posts aren't original (duh!)

Sometimes my stuff is 100% non-duplicate, like today! At most times, its a mash of borrowed knowledge from books and internet that I mould into presentable form and publish it here...making the language as coherent as possible. Sometimes, due to lack of time, I just copy and paste! However, whenever I do that, I make sure I attribute it to the people concerned, or link to the blog or website. Do point out if I missed someone.

This blog started off in November 2006, which obviously means...

its the first anniversary of Digital Filmmaking Blog!

So all of you! Yes you, the readers, who commented here, who read this blog, who e-mailed me with words of encouragement, who pointed out mistakes, filmmakers and film students, editors, cinematographers, screenwriters...I've had a varied audience. Every one doesn't comment, every one doesn't contact, and yet I'm aware that you came and read this blog. Here are some visitor stats to this blog in the last 30 days:

Well above you see a pie chart of the various different browsers (mostly FireFox and IE) used by people visiting us. Also, importantly, how actually people are getting to this blog. Well google has been kind, so we get got 71.4% people coming via search engines in the last month! Let's see something else below:

Above, the no. of people who visited us in the last 30 days from various parts of the world (only the top 10 cities during that time period).

I really feel exhilarated and triumphant when I find people from across the world, from various timezones, coming to this blog.

By now. you understand the graphic too well. I'm glad to see a good number of Mac and Linux users hitting up here! In fact, there's more Linux and Mac than Windows Vista!

I started out with this site with a sole dedication to digital filmmaking, but somehow, I could no hold on to it. We delved into various other branches of films and film technology. I hope you're not offended, coz I'm not! And now to the apology...

I do apologise for updating so randomly and making eager readers wait so long between posts. I've got a regular job at a prestigious sports channel now (since Septmeber, 2007 actually) and therefore my free time has become lesser and far between. Forgive me, and be prepared for delayed but definite updates!

And now, to the proposal...I want to make a short documentary film and have an idea in mind. Would it be feasible, if I asked for contributions (in the form of donations or share in profits, i.e. if at all its profitable) to the readers? Of course, the contributors will definitely see their names in the credits of the movie. Its just a proposal..maybe more of an experiment, if it works out, then what the heck! We'll make it more organized, with a good method of statistics and profit distribution...What say?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Juno" Acclaimed at Rome Film Festival

"Juno," a U.S. film about a teenage girl who gets pregnant and tries to find a couple to adopt her baby, won best film Saturday at the Rome Film Festival.

The film is directed by 30-year-old Canadian-born Jason Reitman, whose 2005 comedy "Thank you for Smoking" scooped a string of awards and was nominated for two Golden Globes. It was first runner-up for the people's choice award at last month's Toronto International Film Festival.

Critics praised the performance by actress Ellen Page as Juno MacGuff, the quick witted young woman who falls pregnant at her first sexual experience. Suddenly plunged into adulthood, she sets out to find a suitable set of parents to adopt her unborn child.

The best actress award went to Chinese actress Jang Wenli for "Li Chun" (And the Spring Comes), about a provincial opera singer who dreams of becoming the star of the Beijing Opera in the years between the end of the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square uprising.

Rade Serbedzija of Croatia won best actor for his role in the Canadian-Greek production "Fugitive Pieces." In the film, he plays Athos, a Greek archaeologist who saves a Jewish child from Poland who is orphaned during World War II.

A 50-member public jury, made up of selected moviegoers from Italy and elsewhere in Europe, judged the in-competition films at the second annual Rome Film Festival. Bosnian director Danis Tanovic, who won the best foreign film Oscar with 2001's "No Man's Land," presided over the jury.

Source: AP, and IHT

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Film Editor's Cut

Notable passage from On Film Editing, by Edward Dmytryk:

Should the cutter make the cuts exactly as the director spelled out, or should he cut the film his way to arrive at the results which he thinks the director wanted, basing his judgment on his interpretation of the director’s expressed instructions?

The wise cutter will, of course, follow the second procedure, making the cuts in question his way to arrive at the desired result. And, if he is a very good cutter, that result will be, in the director’s words, “exactly what I was looking for.”

Here’s a quote I especially like:

In any creative effort, one must do one’s own thing, even if that thing is being done in response to another’s order. To do otherwise is to seriously risk a result which will please neither the requestor nor the executor.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pitching Your Film Script in Hollywood

The studios and other large production companies are signatory to the Writers Guild. This means they have agreed to use Writers Guild-approved contracts. Their names can be easily found in a variety of directories.

What are large producers looking for?
Their perceived needs can change monthly, or even weekly. They are constantly assessing the markets for the right formula. In general, they want something that can be easily pitched to other producers, studios, distributors and moviegoers. So the concept or central idea must grab them immediately.

They also want something written for the actor. They want a script that makes the difference between Bruce Willis doing the movie and Tom Cruise doing it, or Julia Roberts as opposed to Lindsay Lohan.

We must be aware that when a producer produces the script of a new writer, he's putting his job on the line. If the resulting movie fails, he could be canned for trying someone new. Whereas if a film using a proven writer fails, it can be seen as a fluke.

When a producer hires you, she's hoping you're up and coming.

These large producers have deals with studios, meaning that they have contractual agreements to produce a certain number of pictures with a studio or production company, or a studio may have first right of refusal. This is another reason why its better to let a producer take your project to a studio than go directly to the studio yourself. These producers are big because they have the money needed to finance a film.

Generally, large producers accept scripts only from agents.

However, if your query is strong enough, there are some WGA-signatory producers who may accept a script without an agent. In such cases, they may require a submission agreement or release. A submission agreement is a legal document is a legal document that basically absolves the producer or executive of responsibility if your work is accidentally stolen. It sounds horrible, but you should consider signing the release to get your work sold and produced.

Generally, these folks aren't interested in stealing your story. Theft occurs occasionally, but large producers are more interested in avoiding lawsuits than they are in a theft. Writer's paraonia is the hallmark of an amateur.You've got to get your ideas out there. Perhaps your best protection is your writitng ability, industry savvy and completed script.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Entries Sought for 9th Annual PlanetOut Short Movie Awards

PlanetOut Inc. , the leading media and entertainment company exclusively focused on the gay and lesbian market, is seeking entries for the 9th Annual PlanetOut Short Movie Awards (POSMA) 2008, sponsored by Scion in association with the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (MGLFF).

The PlanetOut Short Movie Awards, the largest online awards honoring film and video shorts by, about, and of interest to LGBT audiences, is an acclaimed international platform for top gay and lesbian filmmakers. Noted winners include Angela Robinson ("D.E.B.S.," "Herbie Fully Loaded," and "The L Word"); Jamie Babbitt ("But I'm a Cheerleader!," "Ugly Betty," "Alias," "Malcolm in the Middle," "Gilmore Girls," and "Nip/Tuck"); and Q. Allan Brocka ("Eating Out," "Boy Culture," and "Rick and Steve the Happiest Gay Couple in all the World").

Deadline for entries is Dec. 7, 2007 and information may be found on and and

Up to 20 finalists will be selected from all eligible submissions. Judging will be based on an equally weighted criteria consisting of the following: cleverness and originality; quality of writing, acting, and production values; innovative use of the medium; relevance of subject matter; and entertainment value.

Winners will be announced in January 2008 at PlanetOut's annual event during the Sundance Film Festival, and the Grand Prize Winner and four runners-up will be screened at a special ceremony and program in Miami as part of the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival on Sunday, April 27, 2008. The Grand Prize winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize and will be exhibited on and, along with the runners up, who will each receive cash prizes ranging from $1,500 to $500.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

4 Reasons Why Film is Dying

Here's a great article from Mac Filmmaking on why film is dying and paving the way for digital filmmaking! 4 Reasons why film is dying:

Act 1: It’s time to change
I think we really just need a change. The same kind of change that we need, has occurred in the music industry, so why can’t it happen with movies. The answer to this question finds itself entangled in the hierarchy of the Film Industry. The Film Industry has built up a workflow for pumping out movies fast and efficiently and they don’t want to change this workflow anytime soon. They have figured everything out, so that they can write and produce a film for a few million and make four times as much back. The only hope for change can be found in independent production. If companies have a format that is cost effective and doesn’t jeopardize the quality of production (such as Red), indie filmmakers will support it.

Act 2: New Ideas
We also need some new ideas. For years we have been simply working upon a dead format. We all know it’s on its way out, so why do we continue to pump our money into it. That comes back to what I said about the Film Industry. They have their money invested in the film workflow and would rather not change.
One example of a new idea coming to the market is the Red Camera. Red has built a new workflow system for producing films, and many indie filmmakers are eager to get their hands on it. Red seems like a really good solution to these problems that we face and in the future I believe we will either see the Film Industry adopting Red, or creating their own digital format.

Act 3: Conversion
Ever since computerized (non-linear) editing stations entered the market in the late 1970’s, the filmmakers workflow has been compromised. When shooting on film you must have a lab convert your footage to a data file to be edited on a computer. This has become a hassle for many filmmakers when digital filmmakers can simply import their footage right into their personal computers. Until a data format is adopted, the mainstream (film) workflow will be compromised and filmmakers will continue to convert and out convert their footage though labs. This is just one more reason why film is dead, (or at least dying).

Act 4: "Data" enters the dictionary
Many camcorders are now using data chips (usually flash or HD), to store footage. This dramatically decreases the time it takes to import footage and start editing. This principle has also been implemented in the new Red Camera. Now, more then ever, film seems like an inconvenience to send to a lab to be processed.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Venice Film Festival Marks 75th Anniversary

The Venice film festival marked its 75th anniversary Wednesday with a sparkling opening gala and world premiere of British psychological drama "Atonement" starring Keira Knightley.

An evening of pomp and fireworks saw Knightley take to the red carpet along with co-stars James McAvoy and Vanessa Redgrave, plus their youthful director Joe White.

Also on hand were compatriot Kenneth Branagh and the stars of his detective thriller "Sleuth," Michael Caine and Jude Law.

Tony Gilroy, director of the legal drama "Michael Clayton" starring George Clooney, was there, but Clooney himself was not expected to make his entrance until Thursday.

"Atonement," based on the best-selling novel by Ian McEwan, follows the consequences of an impressionable girl's tragic misreading of events at an upper-class English home in the years leading up to World War II.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Fullscreen Mode in FCP

It’s common knowledge that iMovie has fullscreen playback capabilities, but what about Final Cut Pro. This Tip will show you, (in 3 easy steps) how to go into fullscreen playback in FCP.

Step 1: First of all you will want to make sure that you’re selected on the timeline.

Step 2: Then go to View, Video Playback, and click on your designated display, (either a camera, internal or external display).

Step 3: Next, go back up to View, External Video, and click on All Frames (⌘F12). That’s it. You should now automatically be launched into fullscreen mode. To get out of fullscreen, just press the escape key.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Video Editing Options for Linux

We know our video editing applications for Windows (read Adobe Premiere, AVID, Ulead Video studio etc) and Mac (Final Cut Pro!), but what about video editing on a Linux powered system? Well here's a list of video editing applications for your Linux PC:

  1. Kdenlive: Kdenlive is a non linear video editor for the KDE environment running on Linux. It is based on the MLT video framework which relies on the FFMPEG project.

    The project was initially started by Jason Wood in 2002, and is now maintained by a small team of developers. Kdenlive is available in English, French, German, Dutch, Turkish, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Hungarian and Catalan.

  2. OpenMovieEditor: Open Movie Editor is designed to be a simple video editor, that provides basic movie making capabilities. It aims to be powerful enough for the amateur movie artist, yet easy to use. The downside with OpenMovieEditor is that it only supports PAL at this point.

  3. Blender: Blender is an all-in-one 3D modelling and animation suite. It can be used to produce computer-generated images and movies. It is open source freeware, so it costs nothing to use. It is available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License.

  4. Cinelerra: Cinelerra does primarily 3 main things: capturing, compositing, and editing audio and video with sample level accuracy. It's a seamless integration of audio, video, and still photos rarely experienced on a web server.

    Its crash prone, resource hungry, and really weirdly put together, but if when it works, it does a good job.

  5. Pitivi: PiTIVi provides several ways of creating and modifying a timeline. Ranging from a simple synopsis view (a-la iMovie) to the full-blown editing view (aka Complex View) which puts you in complete control of your editing.

    Other interfaces can be added via the plugin system, aimed at more specific uses like a SlideShow creator or a subtitling editor. It is even possible to use pitivi without a user interface in order to do batch rendering.
But open source video editing software still have a long way to go when compared with their Windows and Mac counterparts in terms of video resolution, additional features and program crashes.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pinnacle to Introduce Video Editing and Filmmaking to Indian Schools

Pinnacle Systems Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of Avid Technology Inc and video editing solutions provider, is set to launch an educational tool for schools in India. The company will introduce a customized programme in video editing and filmmaking called the Studio Academic Programme.

With technology including mobiles and cameras becoming an increasing part of kids lives, the programme will teach students to capture videos or still photographs and edit them to make their own home movies and albums.

In the first phase of its launch, the Academic programme will be introduced to schools in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore and will be launched in other cities in phase II. A special curriculum has been formulated to help students learn all nuances and become proficient in the art of video editing and filmmaking, informs an official release.

Using the Pinnacle Studio editing software, students can now add sound effects, put labels and re-arrange the order of the pictures or video to make their own Harry Potter movies or special birthday videos and upload them on the net to share with their friends and relatives.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Buying a Digital Camera

Buying a digital camera to get started in the world of digital photography or to replace your old camera? Read tips on getting the best digital camera for your money.

#1: Set a Budget Before Buying
Budget yourself when purchasing a digital camera.

#2: Ignore Digital Zoom
When buying digital cameras, concentrate on optical zoom, not digital zoom.

#3: Small Doesn't Mean Underpowered
Small digital cameras may be exactly what you need. Small cameras may not have as many features as digital SLRs and high-end prosumer digital cameras, but their megapixel resolutions are matching, and sometimes beating, their higher-priced alternatives! Plus, they are easier to transport long distances, less bulky to carry with you on trips, and less conspicuous.

#4: Be Careful When Buying Package Deals
Digital camera package deals may be too good to be true - or a real bargain!

#5: Get a Camera with Magnified Photo Previews
Magnified photo previews can help determine the sharpness of a digital photo.

#6: Don't Expect a Camera to Come with Enough Media
When you purchase a digital camera, unless it happens to be a package deal, don't expect the camera to come with enough media to handle your photography needs. Nowadays, most digital cameras, if they come with any media at all, will only be packaged with a 32MB 128 MB card. Though that used to be enough memory for a couple dozen pictures, high megapixel photos in fine, very fine, or raw detail can eat up that memory in just one or two photos. Prepare to spend money on at least one extra media card.

#7: What to Look for to Take Night Photography
Helpful features some digital cameras provide to take better night photos.

#8: Don't Get Caught Up in Megapixels
More megapixels do not always equal clearer photos. Not just the number of megapixels, but the quality of the megapixels matter as well. For example, most digital camera image sensor pixels can only detect just a particular area's redness, blueness, or greenness, but not all three.

#9: Consider the Total Cost of Ownership
You won't just be purchasing a digital camera - you may need to buy accessories.

#10: Pre-Programmed Scene Modes May Help
Scene modes make it easier to take digital camera photos in tough lighting conditions.

#11: Does Flash Come with an SLR?
Consider the total cost of ownership when purchasing a digital SLR.

#12: How Much Optical Zoom is Needed?
Do you require a digital camera with 6x optical zoom, or is 2x or 3x enough?

#13: Where is the Tripod Socket?
Make sure when purchasing a digital camera that it fits well on a tripod.

#14: Digital Camera Reviews
Links to websites offering reviews of specific digital cameras. You might want to compare between a Canon PowerShot A530 and a Nikon COOLPIX L4. You can easily read reviews online and compare between the two.

#15: More Control May Cost You
To set manual exposure, you might need a more-expensive camera.

#16: Look for ISO 50 Support
Look for digital cameras with ISO 50 support for crisper, cleaner images.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingnmar Bergman - A Filmmaker Lost

Legendary film-maker Ingmar Bergman, one of the key figures in modern cinema, has died at the age of 89.

His 60-year career spanned intense classics like Cries & Whispers, The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries. He was personally nominated for nine Oscars between 1960 and 1984, while three of his productions won Oscars for best foreign film. Bergman died at his home in Faro, Sweden. No details about the cause of death have been released.

For most cinemagoers, Ingmar Bergman is Swedish cinema. Certainly, few other directors have assumed Bergman's burden of representing an entire nation for international audiences. His austere appraisals of familial strife and spiritual angst may have worked against the grain of the Swedish Tourist Board, but Bergman has nevertheless single-handedly put his homeland on the cinematic map. His sombre canon, encompassing more than 40 feature films shot with complete artistic control, has earned him auteurship and helped raise cinema's stature to that enjoyed by other art forms.

As a director, Bergman favored intuition over intellect, and chose to be unaggressive in dealing with actors. Bergman saw himself as having a great responsibility toward them, viewing them as collaborators often in a psychologically vulnerable position. He stated that a director must be both honest and supportive in order to allow others their best work.

His films usually deal with existential questions of mortality, loneliness, and faith; they also tend to be direct and not overtly stylized. Persona, one of Bergman's most famous films, is unusual among Bergman's work in being both existentialist and avant-garde.

While his themes could be cerebral, sexual desire found its way to the foreground of most of his movies, whether the setting was the era of the plague ("The Seventh Seal"), upper-class family life in early 20th century Uppsala ("Fanny and Alexander") or contemporary times in a strange city ("The Silence"). The female characters were usually more in touch with their sexuality than their men. In an interview with Playboy magazine in 1964, he said: "...the manifestation of sex is very important, and particularly to me, for above all, I don't want to make merely intellectual films. I want audiences to feel, to sense my films. This to me is much more important than their understanding them." Film, Bergman said, was his demanding mistress. Some of his major actresses became his real-life mistresses.

Bergman usually wrote his own scripts, thinking about them for months or years before starting the actual process of writing, which he viewed as somewhat tedious. His earlier films are carefully structured, and are either based on his plays or written in collabortion with other authors. Bergman stated that in his later works, when on occasion his actors would want to do things differently from his own intentions, he would let them, noting that the results were often "disastrous" when he did not do so. As his career progressed, Bergman increasingly let his actors improvise their dialogue. In his latest films, he wrote just the ideas informing the scene and allowed his actors to determine exact dialogue.

Bergman died at his home in Sweden. No details about the cause of death have been released.

According to the TT news agency, Bergman died peacefully on Faro Island - or Sheep Island - in the Baltic Sea. The director had settled there after using it as a location for several films.

Source: BBC, Wikipedia

Thursday, July 19, 2007

CBBC Filmmaking Workshop For Kids

Are you aged 8-14 and interested in film-making? If the answer is yes the ‘CBBC me and my movie’ summer roadshow is just for you!

CBBC are offering budding young film-makers the opportunity to take part in a fun and practical based filmmaking workshop run by Cinemagic from 8th-10 August, in Craigavon and Belfast. From scriptwriting and storyboarding, to filming and editing, participants will learn all the skills needed to make a short film in a day!

As well as participating in the workshop, young people will be in with the chance to win the ‘CBBC me and my movie award’, - in association with BAFTA’- which is a special new award for films made by children at the annual Children’s BAFTAs.

The workshops which are taking place in Northern Ireland are part of a unique children’s film-making initiative- ‘CBBC me and my movie’ which inspires and enables children to make their own films and tell their own stories. ‘CBBC me and my movie’ is also providing an original 3D online space ( where children can engage with the experience of film-making.


Filmmaking Workshop at University Of Missisippi


DATES: July 23-26, 2007

LOCATION: Ole Miss - Oxford Depot

WORKSHOP OVERVIEW: The intensive Advanced Filmmaking Workshop will be held at the Ole miss -Oxford Depot and other supporting locations on the University of Mississippi campus. The workshop is designed to take high school and college students, teachers and other filmmaking enthusiasts to an advanced level of understanding and training in filmmaking. At the time of registration, a detailed schedule will be sent to registrants.

ENROLLMENT ELGIBILITY: Registration is open to anyone (high school to adult) who is already equipped with a basic understanding of filmmaking and is ideal for those who have previously completed the Ole Miss "introductory level" Filmmaking Workshop.


* Provide advanced level editing training
* Provide advanced level camera training
* Provide advanced level directing training


Monday, July 16, 2007

15 Must Have Softwares for Filmmakers

With all the pricey cameras and equipment, filmmaking isn't exactly a hobby that screams "cheap." Lucky for all you free stuff-loving geeks, there are some options available that can help you make the most of your creative impulses. Many shareware and freeware programs for film editing, screenwriting, sound editing and storyboarding are available for minimal or no cost on the Internet as alternatives to more expensive programs that might do damage to your budget. Here are a few freeware and shareware programs to help you save a few bucks and still make a film that can "wow".

Pre Production

1. ScreenPro [66KB | Shareware $10 |Win All] So you've got a great idea for a screenplay but aren't sure how to begin writing? ScreenPro is a formatting template for Microsoft Word that can help you with some of the finer points for organizing your screenplay, freeing your mind to concentrate on creating the next big thing. The actual program is free to download; but a registered version free of guilt-trip inducing reminders is available for only $10, and comes with script analysis tools to help you create a better, tighter, and hopefully more successful script.

2. ScreenForge [174KB |Shareware $45 |Win All/Mac] ScreenForge is another screenplay template for Word. ScreenForge differs in that it not only has templates for the main screenplay, but also for the cover page and the title/fly page. The formatting rules by which it has been laid out are taken from a number of respected books on the subject, so you know you're getting a good layout for your ideas and one that will make you look professional.

Read the full list here

Monday, July 02, 2007

Components of Soundtrack

Filmmakers can include spoken words, sound effects, music and silence in the soundtrack. Each may be used in the usual manner, but each may also be used in surprising ways.

Dialogue is usually dominant and intellectual, music is usually supportive and emotional, sound effects are usually information. Their uses however, are not inflexible. Sometimes, dialogue is non-intellectual and aesthetic, sometimes music is symbolic, and on occasion sound effects may serve any of these functions. Any of these elements may be dominant or recessive according to the sharpness or softness of the sound and the relationship of the sound to the image.
(Murch, "Sound Designer", 298)

Possible Soundtrack Components

  • Dialogues and monologues, including vocals that convey meaning. For example, "hmmm" = "I dont know", "Let me think about that", or some other meaning depending on context.
  • Narration = spoken comments on subjects on screen or off.
  • Sounds made by objects. Example: a falling tree crashing into an asphalt pavement.
  • Sounds made by people (other than spoken words). Example: a person walking on gravel.
  • Ambient sound = typically, usually unnoticed sounds of a place. Examples: the wind blowing through bckyard bushes, indistinct conversations at a party.
  • Instrumental sounds
- Electronic. Examples: Moog synthesizer, Theremin, computer-generated music.
- Non-electronic materials. Examples: wood, plastic, glass, a combination of materials.
- Electronic and non-electronic combinations. Example: selective use of the Theremin and elsewhere orchestral music in The Day and Earth Stood Still (1951)
  • Vocals. Examples: singing, chanting, humming, rhythmic grunting, rhythmic forced laughing, whistling, yodeling, the throat singing heard in the documentary Ghengis Blues (1999).
  • Instrumental sounds and vocal combinations.
No Sound. Example: an astronaut tumbling lifelessly through space in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Monday, June 25, 2007

OPM - Great Rule of Filmmaking

Cyndi Greening writes a very interesting article in her filmmaking blog on the number one rule of filmmaking - using OPM or Other People's Money! She writes:

The number one rule of independent filmmaking is always use Other People's Money (OPM), preferably a studio's money or a distributor's money. How many times did I give that lecture? Don't use your credit cards. Don't use your family's money. Don't use your friends' money. Statistics say that it is almost certain that your film will not make money; that you'll lose your friends and alienate your family.

How I love to agree with her!! She further states -

The students always argue with me during this lecture. They talk about Morgan Spurlock's film, SUPERSIZE ME. Some folks will talk about Kevin Smith's success with CLERKS.

Occasionally, someone will remember the more obscure but equally surprising Robert Townsend film, HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE. They like to recall the miracle filmmaking stories, stories about the people who do just this sort of thing and end up with a wildly, financially-successful film. It's my job to remind them that there are THOUSANDS of filmmakers who follow that film financing path into a very dark tunnel. If a distributor or producer gets behind your film, chances are that they see an opportunity for financial success. Since they've made a whole lot more films than you, that's a good thing. If the money people don't get behind you, they may be doing you a favor in the long run. They may be saving you a lot of heartache and a lot of money.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to get distributors to fund educational projects ahead of time. They want to see the finished product to know if the story hangs together because, well, let's be honest, it's students learning by doing. They're cautious about giving money to that sort of thing

Read the full article here

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lighting for High Definition (HD)

by Michael Brennan

Is it faster to light on HD
This is down to technique and communication. Nothing mysterious. There are two aspects to this. One is the use of HD monitor the other is taking advantage of greater depth of field of 2/3 inch imagers (compared to 35mm) for given amount of light

HD Monitor
Communication is faster, gaffer sees the shot sees what you are up to faster with a decent monitor. During blocking he watches. He knows what is in shot and what isn't. Point to the monitor, a slash here a flag there, you are not gesturing in space you are pointing at the picture.

The monitor empowers the gaffer. Lots of finger prints on the monitor! In frame practicals, reflections, are faster to adjust.

Dropping light sources into a scene, observing where the light falls from the cameras POV is really useful. This helps gaffers and electricians drop in cutters fingers ect.

Light measurement across the image is instantaneous. No need to use a spot meter measuring 10 different parts of the picture, as a good monitor has 1920x1080 spot meters that you see at a glance. Their are also zebras for the real enthusiast.

Communication with a director is fast. It is very easy and quick to nail a look under the black cloth. (this is particularly useful when working with a new director)

Night scenes can be shot with absolute confidence. Worried about a colour temperature of a neon or a dodgy looking fluorescent?
Worried about subject failure? Strange casts?
Bounce light in particular is great fun and fast to play with on HD. The brain doesn't need to number crunch. No estimating what colour shifts are happening, you have a ringside seat on the image plane.

Lighting continuity is a breeze if you record a few seconds of every scene on a separate tape. recalling the scene file and switch between playback and live image to swiftly compare moods and tones from one location to the next. Particularly useful if something unplanned is occurring.

Depth of Field
Greater depth of field on 2/3 inch imagers. Less light required usually equals faster setup/derig reposition.

Can use ambient light levels, say in a night exterior as a base, rather than calling in Muscos.

Bluescreen, less light for same depth of field. Do you want to light a bluescreen studio and subject to T5.6 or T2? All the subject must be sharp for blue screen

No question pack shot lighting is faster on HD. Positioning products in respect to reflections, mini bounce cards ect is a breeze with a big HD monitor a few feet from the table. Assistants look at the monitor. Greater depth of field plays a roll here too. No need to hang a 1.2 with a Chimera from a truss or goal post, use a 800 watt bug light with chimera on a right angle arm. Easy to adjust. Extreme close-ups are much easy to light/meter. Fiber optics are great for close-up work but moving them half an inch equates to a few stops if they are close to a subject. Instead of setting the light then metering your are metering while you set the light.

These are lighting techniques that have lent themselves to video and have been practised over many years on video.

DPs and gaffers without video experience may not be tuned in...

My first feature I worked with a very established Italian gaffer who had worked with the greats. He had just come off his first HD feature and was looking stressed! After a week with me he was over the moon. In his words he felt after 25 years in the business he was actually crafting the light exactly (to the 1/4 stop) the way *we* wanted it and seeing it live he felt closer to the image than he had ever been on film. I invited him into my decision making process and gave him confidence in the HD monitor.

Filmmaking is a team effort the HD monitor is a brilliant communication tool. Even a small one is useful in this respect.

It just a matter of knowing how to do it, the right approach, ideally from all departments.

If you have a generator or butterfly frame it is simply a question of more fill or go up a level of diffusion on the silk, pop in a pola, or .6 grad, ensure makeup do their job, craft the image to look good. You will only be "stuck" if you and the director have an unrealistic expectation of what the combination of set, crew equipment format grading can achieve. In the whole scheme of a production, films superior dynamic range may be more critical for some projects than others. But one of the first HD movies was shot in a snow field. Are there special video cameras for the winter Olympics?

Now the above comments are more relevant to a tightly scheduled tightly crewed production.

Bear in mind whenever I talk HD it is usually across features docs commercials, not only high budget features where the established working practices of a production crew numbering 200+ remains pretty much unaltered regardless of format.(perhaps bluescreen movies is an exception).

About the Author
Director of Photography Michael Brennan specializes in shooting High Definition and is Europe's first HD owner Operator. He is experienced in High Definition Aerial Photography using Cineflex V14 as well as using Viper Filmstream for TV and theatrical release. In 2004 he began editing High Definition Magazine Europe's bimonthly specialist publication. In 2002 he founded ClipHD the worlds first HD specialist stock footage library.

Future Technology in Filmmaking and Film Exhibition

When we talk of future technology in filmmaking and film exhibition, a lot of things come up in our imagination. Things like HD, 3D projection systems, spectacular special effects, multi-channel sound systems and so on...

There are quite a few companies involved in the the business of film exhibition technology - after all, it is a lucrative business. But there are few who deliver quality; and Edwards Technologies Inc is one of them. They provide services in Corporate, Entertainment and the Hospitality technology sector.

ETI's services in the entertainment technology include:

- Specialty Theaters

- 3D-Theater Special Effects

- Sound Systems

- Show Control Systems

- Audio Effects

- Multiscreen Shows

- Video Monitors

- Video Programming Servers

- Multimedia Control Centers

- 3D Theatre Projection Systems

- Surveillance Systems

ETI's achievements in 3D digital theater technology and audio video systems are especially commendable. Theme parks, entertainment centers, casinos, sports facilities, performing arts centers, special events are other avenues where ETI delves in into the entertainment services sector.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Guide to Camera Formats

Before we start this let me just say that any camera is better than no camera. Checking out camera magazines you can easily catch some equipment fetish, where you only wanna shoot with the coolest equipment. Its a waste of your time (and money) and gets in the way of making movies so forget it.

Its what's on the film/video that's important. You never know, that grainy, crappy image you get might be just what your film needs to give it some energy.

OK camera formats really means tape formats. The gubbins up front - the lens, the buttons etc. don't vary much from camera to camera, but what the camera records onto alters what film you see at the end of the day.

So lets look at the pros and cons of each of the formats (oh yeah, and the price range is the recommended retail price, if you buy mail orders you will probably get it cheaper, and obviously the camera is going to cost less if you buy second-hand).

Price Range £350 - £500


* Reasonable picture quality
* Good sound quality (mono or stereo depending on model)
* Compact tapes (about the size of an audio cassette) giving 60 - 90 minutes recording
* Cheapest camcorders available
* Popular format so lots of choice
* Lightweight cameras

* Can't be played on normal VCR - Although you can transfer to other formats for editing
* Very few 8mm editing VCRs


Price Range - £450 - £800


* Good picture quality (near broadcast standard - 400 horizontal lines, your TV does 525)
* Top notch stereo sound
* Tape a bit more expensive than 8mm but still compact and you can record up to 90 minutes on standard play.
* Can use 8mm tape as well (although the picture won't be as good as with proper Hi8 tape).
* Lightweight cameras


* Like 8mm it can't be played on normal VCR - Although you can transfer to other formats for editing
* To retain picture quality you will really need a Hi8 editing deck
* Costs more than 8mm - boo!


Price Range £850 - £1400 RRP.


* Same tape as you put in your normal VCR, so its cheap, easily available and you can edit easier.
* Because the tape is bigger than 8mm, the cameras are also bigger. This means you look like a proper film-maker and you can shove it on your shoulder which means more stable shots.
* Picture quality about 8mm standard - which means its not that bad.
* Long recording time (3 to 4 hours)
* Extra Punk Points! Robert Rodriguez (Director of Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn) cut his teeth on a VHS camcorder. Using his camera and the family VCR he edited his first short films.


* Only has a mono soundtrack
* Bulkier cameras also mean lugging around something which is heavier - nurg!
* Very few cameras available.

VHS - C (like VHS only smaller, so I guess the C is for compact)

Price Range - £280 - £500


* Essentially VHS-C is smaller VHS tapes, meaning the tapes are more compact.
* Like VHS picture quality about 8mm standard - which means its not that bad.
* Compact, lightweight cameras.
* All the advantages of VHS as far as editing goes as you use an adapter (which looks like a VHS tape) that allows your VCR to play VHS-C tapes like normal videotapes.
* Cheap cameras!!


* Only has a mono soundtrack
* Because of the decrease in size the tapes are shorter (30 - 45 mins).

Price Range £900


* Excellent picture quality
* Stereo soundtrack
* Can also record onto VHS tapes (although the quality isn't as good as using proper VHS tapes) or S-VHS-C tapes with an adaptor.
* S-VHS VCRs are top notch - a wide choice with excellent control over editing of sound and pictures.


* Despite being the same size as VHS tape, tapes can only be played back on S-VHS VCRs.
* Expensive.
* Bulky machines - although this isn't necessarily that bad it makes for steadier shots
* Few cameras to choose from.

S-VHS-C (another compact format - like S-VHS only smaller)
Price Range £370 - £450


* Like S-VHS excellent picture quality (near broadcast standard)
* Stereo soundtrack
* S-VHS VCRs are top notch - a wide choice with excellent control over editing of sound and pictures.
* Compact little cameras


* Because of the decrease in size the tapes are shorter (30 - 45 mins).
* Needs a S-VHS VCR to playback tapes.
* Not cheap.

Mini DV
Price Range £700 - £2700


* Offers bloody good pictures - high on TV quality (500 line horizontal resolution)
* CD quality sound
* Designers are experimenting with design of cameras so they are some nice machines out there eg. JVC's metal fag packet and Panasonic's Tube Cam (not the official names)
* No loss of picture quality in editing provided it is all edited on DVC VCRs or non-linearly using a Firewire card.
* The price is coming down.


* one of these and have to be nice to your bank manager for a long time.
* Editing VCRs are available, but damn expensive.

Price Range £??? - £???


* DV quality pictures using compression ie. 500 lines resolution
* CD quality sound
* Uses cheap 8mm and Hi8 tape
* Can play back old 8mm and Hi8 tapes
* No loss of picture quality in editing provided it is edited via Firewire.


* It's a Sony technology so you have to buy a Sony camera

Price Range £5 - £2000


* Its film, so everything looks nicer and more, err...filmy. Y'know like home movies and pop videos.
* On the whole they are well built - ie. metal etc.
* Inexpensive - because everyone's Uncle Bob had one of these you might find someone in the family with one, or as everyone else is getting rid of their you can pick them up cheap in second hand shops - I got 3 for a tenner the other day.
* You can also pick up editing equipment cheap as well.
* Full on retro style.
* I saw a film shot on Super8 the other day and frankly you couldn't tell the difference between that and 16mm.


* At the moment it costs about £12 for 4 minutes of film (including developing). This makes it pretty expensive to lark around with if you don't know what you're shooting.
* Don't expect to find autofocus or any to other 'latest features' type stuff on them. Almost everything is manual - but this is no bad thing, at least you learn.

Source: A Rough Guide to Camera Formats

The Best Film Editing Software

Generally there are two types of systems used in professional and prosumer film editing:

Software Only
The cheaper of the two options, as the name suggests, software only solutions provide the editing program only. The advantage of software only products is definitely price, as the costs tend to rise pretty quickly the minute you start adding hardware to the bundle. Which package is best largely depends on whether you are a PC or a Mac user.

For PC users, the best all-round option is Avid Xpress Pro, however with a price-tag starting north of $1000 (for the software-only version), it can be a little out of the price range of many users. Price aside, the fact that you can edit both analogue and DV video, whilst familiarising yourself with the industry-standard Avid interface is definitely a plus.

A good alternative for price-conscious PC users is Adobe Premiere Pro. Premiere has always been the market leader for prosumer PC editing, however it's had a mixed reputation for a long time because of a range of issues (some of which are a result of Premiere and some which were limitations in earlier versions of Windows. Enter Adobe Premiere Pro, written completely from scratch by Adobe to be the "Final Cut" for PCs. It's certainly a far superior product to the previous version (6.5) and probably the best choice for PC-editing if you can't afford Avid. It will only run on Windows XP.

For Mac users, there is only one choice: Final Cut Pro. Final Cut is the main reason for Avid releasing Xpress Pro and for Adobe rewriting Premiere. It pretty much set the standard for video editing on equipment which is accessible to all.

A whole host of other, cheaper editing applications are also available for both PC and Mac (such as Ulead Media Studio Pro or Sony Vegas), however if you’re serious about your editing, you should probably only consider Avid Express Pro, Premiere Pro, or Final Cut Pro

The downside with software only solutions is render time. With most software-only solutions, you cannot see effects and transitions in real time - they must be rendered first. Depending on the power of your computer, this can take anywhere from several minutes to many hours. Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro and Avid Xpress Pro all offer some real-time effect capabilities, but these are entirely dependent on how powerful your computer is, and generally only perform well on top-end systems.

Hardware/Software Combinations
More serious video editors should consider a hardware/software solution. This involves adding a card to your PC which provides capture facilities and also hardware-accelerated effects and transitions. Many hardware/software solutions offer real-time effects capabilities, however as you can imagine, having hardware in the bundle significantly increases the cost.

At the entry level, programs like Premiere and Media Studio are bundled with capture/render cards from people like Pinnacle, Canopus, and Matrox. Both of these programs are optimised to make use of special features found in these cards, and such packages offer many professional features at reasonable prices. Avid has also recently introduced the DNA series of external video-editing accelerators which add a pretty serious performance punch to systems using Xpress Pro.

The next step up is "badged" hardware/software solutions. With these products, you get a whole computer, optimised for video editing, and including propriety hardware for capture/render/real-time effects. The most well-known systems are those produced by Avid and Media 100. These systems use their own proprietary editing software which is optimised to work with their hardware (or specially selected hardware from third-party manufacturers). These systems are used in broadcasters and professional editing houses, and are therefore priced accordingly.

Original Article: Filmmaking.Net

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Attending a Film School - Pros and Cons

There are advantages and disadvantages to attending conventional university film school programs. Some students claim that traditional film school courses focus almost entirely on filmmaking theory whereas many of the more contemporary film schools pay more attention on actually practicing the various skills of filmmaking.

Also, many of the newer film schools offer condensed courses on fundamental filmmaking processes and procedures such as screenwriting basics and post-production fundamentals. Many film school students prefer these eclectic filmmaking programs because of the greater diversity of information that is presented, as well as the more flexible schedules typically offered by these non-traditional film schools.

There are even several reputable online film schools that make learning and attendance even more convenient. With these internet-based film schools students can pick and choose which topics to focus on, thus customizing their own curriculum to meet their individual goals.

Film school curriculum varies from school to school, so it is worth doing a little comparative research in order to determine what all is offered. Below, we’ll discuss some of the various topics and areas of study that are available.

By attending film school you can familiarize yourself with international cinema and learn about acclaimed filmmakers from around the world. By adding study of international filmmaking, you can expand upon other film theory classes. After all, the best way to build a foundation from which to explore your own creativity is to study the methods and techniques of the filmmakers that came before you.

And of course, any good film school will acquaint you with the basics of shooting and lighting techniques and theory. Even a cursory glance at descriptions of how commonly used effects are achieved can bring whole new depths and flair to your own approach to filmmaking.

If you want to learn a full spectrum of filmmaking fundamentals in as little time as possible so that you can get right down to making and producing your own films, then it would be in your best interest to attend a film school that covers the planning, budgeting and production processes of filmmaking.

Many film schools also offer post-production courses that are most appropriate for anyone interested in producing their own films. Especially if you plan to work with digital media, you should take advantage of courses offering tutorials on using computer applications that allow you to edit and mix sound and video. Since the innovation of digital video cameras, filmmaking and post-production work has become affordable for everyone. Before digital video, every fade in or out, every effect that could be applied to a film necessarily involved the duplication of the film material itself, such that production often involves working with hundreds of strips of film that must be carefully organized and tracked.

Even if you’re more interested in becoming part of Hollywood caliber filmmaking, in terms of budget and star power, you shouldn’t necessarily overlook the smaller film schools. While a degree from a known traditional university will get you in many doors, your own merit and achievements are what will determine your success. For this reason it is most important to choose a school that fits your individual needs and learning style.

In my next few posts I might review various film schools around the world, and especially from US, UK and India where the film industry is flourishing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Realistic Film Shooting Schedule

The length of a film shoot is usually dependent on the budget. How many days can you afford to keep the cast and crew together, and pay for the rental of expensive film shooting equipment and vehicles? This restraint almost always conflicts with the amount of time a director would like to halve.

To make things worthwhile, make sure that:
- the actors are well prepared
- the staging and camerawork have been worked out,
- the shoot might not go as planned, so be prepared for adjustments to be made in the staging, the actors may require more takes, technical problems with equipment might occur, and mother nature may not be kind with weather!

So, how do directors ensure that they will have enough time?

There is no such insurance. But it is possible to draw up an informed and realistic schedule by taking into account the number of locations and the number of camera setups at each location.

Other factors to consider are the technical difficulties of scenes (dolly shots that require rehearsal), precision lighting, shooting in a public area you do not have complete control of, and the emotional weight of the scene. Actors should be given more time for the "big scenes" - the scenes that require emotional preparation or intricate staging.

Like anything in life, the more you direct, the better you get at it, and the more you can judge how much time you will need to fulfill your vision. Who said filmmaking was a piece of cake!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Various Television Broadcast Standards

TV Picture Format/Colour System Combinations

The Main Video Signal Standards
Name Frame/Field rate Aspect Ratio Scan Lines
TV standard Colour System Subcarrier Freq
NTSC 29.97/59.94 4:3 525
PAL-M 29.97/59.94 4:3 525
SECAM-M 29.97/59.94 4:3 525
PAL 25/50 4:3 625
SECAM 25/50 4:3 625
CCIR SECAM 4.25/4.40MHz
D-MAC 25/50 4:3 or 16:9 625
PALplus 25/50 16:9 625
HiVision 60/120 16:9 1125
HiVision MUSE Unknown

The Relative Merits of TV Systems
The differences between each of the main TV systems are not quite as clear cut as one might at first imagine. While NTSC has a reputation for poor colour accuracy, this is only really true of broadcast television and as a video format it has some distinct advantages over the other systems. All these systems are a compromise and many efforts have been made over the years to address the shortcomings in each of the systems.

NTSC/525 Advantages

* Higher Frame Rate - Use of 30 frames per second (really 29.97) reduces visible flicker.
* Atomic Colour Edits - With NTSC it is possible to edit at any 4 field boundary point without disturbing the colour signal.
* Less inherent picture noise - Almost all pieces of video equipment achieve better signal to noise characteristics in their NTSC/525 form than in their PAL/625.

NTSC/525 Disadvantages

* Lower Number of Scan Lines - Reduced clarity on large screen TVs, line structure more visible.
* Smaller Luminance Signal Bandwidth - Due to the placing of the colour sub-carrier at 3.58MHz, picture defects such as moire, cross-colour, and dot interference become more pronounced. This is because of the greater likelihood of interaction with the monochrome picture signal at the lower sub-carrier frequency.
* Susceptablity to Hue Fluctuation - Variations in the colour subcarrier phase cause shifts in the displayed colour, requiring that the TV receivers be equiped with a Hue adjustment to compensate.
* Lower Gamma Ratio - The gamma value for NTSC/525 is set at 2.2 as opposed to the slightly higher 2.8 defined for PAL/625. This means that PAL/625 can produce pictures of greater contrast.
* Undesirable Automatic Features - Many NTSC TV receivers feature an Auto-Tint circuit to make hue fluctuations less visible to uncritical viewers. This circuit changes all colours approximating to flesh tone into a "standard" fleshtone, thus hiding the effects of hue fluctuation. This does mean however that a certain range of colour shades cannot be displayed correctly by these sets. Up-market models often have this (mis)feature switchable, cheaper sets do not.

PAL/625 Advantages

* Greater Number of Scan Lines - more picture detail.
* Wider Luminance Signal Bandwidth - The placing of the colour Sub-Carrier at 4.43MHz allows a larger bandwidth of monochrome information to be reproduced than with NTSC/525.
* Stable Hues - Due to reversal of sub-carrier phase on alternate lines, any phase error will be corrected by an equal and oposite error on the next line, correcting the original error. In early PAL implementations it was left to the low resolution of the human eye's colour abilities to provide the averaging effect; it is now done with a delay line.
* Higher Gamma Ratio - The gamma value for PAL/625 is set at 2.8 as opposed to the lower 2.2 figure of NTSC/525. This permits a higher level of contrast than on NTSC/525 signals. This is particularly noticable when using multi-standard equipment as the contrast and brightness settings need to be changed to give a similar look to signals of the two formats.

PAL/625 Disadvantages

* More Flicker - Due to the lower frame rate, flicker is more noticable on PAL/625 transmissions; particularly so for people used to viewing NTSC/525 signals.
* Lower Signal to Noise Ratio - The higher bandwidth requirements cause PAL/625 equipment to have slightly worse signal to noise performance than it's equivalent NTSC/525 version.
* Loss of Colour Editing Accuracy - Due to the alternation of the phase of the colour signal, the phase and the colour signal only reach a common point once every 8 fields/4 frames. This means that edits can only be performed to an accuracy of +/- 4 frames (8 fields).
* Variable Colour Saturation - Since PAL achieves accurate colour through cancelling out phase differences between the two signals, the act of cancelling out errors can reduce the colour saturation while holding the hue stable. Fortunately, the human eye is far less sensitive to saturation variations than to hue variations, so this is very much the lesser of two evils.

SECAM/625 Advantages

* Stable Hues and Constant Saturation - SECAM shares with PAL the ability to render images with the correct hue, and goes a step further in ensuring consistant saturation of colour as well.
* Higher Number of Scan Lines - SECAM shares with PAL/625, the higher number of scan lines than NTSC/525.

SECAM/625 Disadvantages

* Greater Flicker - (See PAL/625)
* Mixing of two synchronous SECAM colour signals is not possible - Most TV studios in SECAM countries originate in PAL and transcode prior to broadcasting. More advanced home systems such as SuperVHS, Hi-8, and LaserDisc work internally in PAL and transcode on replay in SECAM market models.
* Patterning Effects - The FM subcarrier causes patterning effects even on non-coloured objects.
* Lower monochrome Bandwidth - Due to one of the two colour sub-carriers being at 4.25MHz (in the French Version), a lower bandwith of monochrome signal can be carried.
* Incompatibility between different versions of SECAM - SECAM being at least partially politically inspired, has a wide range of variants, many of which are incompatible with each other. For example between French SECAM with uses FM subcarrier, and MESECAM which uses an AM subcarrier.

Matching Tone

While the cameraman is shooting the film, he takes care to maintain a constant photographic quality throughout the whole of his work. When the film editor comes to cut the material he must guard against joining two shots in which the key of lighting is noticeably different.

The sheer physical difference in the light and shade values of the two
shots will draw the specatator's attention to the transition and result in a
harsh cut.

With the cameraman constantly in control of the lighting and the grading of the prints, this problem of matching shots according to their tone is generally not great. In a documentary or compilation film, where the material has often been shot by several camermen working separately, it becomes much more acute.

Equally, the editing of colour films sometimes presents great difficulties in matching the colour values in adjacent shots. This is, however, primarily a problem for the art director, cameraman and colour expert and is in most cases outside the film editor's control.

Get Your Damaged Camcorder Repaired

I recently had a difficult time when my only camcorder - the Sony DSR-PD150, developed some snag. Actually its tape holder was causing the tapes too run either too slow or too fast, eventually damaging the recorded footage, so I gave it to the local Sony service station (its still under warranty) who returned it after a month! Its working fine now. But still, it too them a month....

But then I thought, what if the camcorder hadn't been under warranty period?

Getting it repaired then from Sony would have actually cost a bomb (at least for me!). This gave me an idea and I searched on the net for people who provide camcorder repair. I did manage to find a few good sites but I'm going to mention the one I found best.

Video One Repair has been providing repair services for Sony and Canon Prosumer camcorders since 1994. They offer the following advanatges:
  • offer free estimates within 2 business days
  • free return shipping even if you don't have your camcorder repaired.
  • 6 month guarantee on not just what was repaired but entire camcorder.
  • A toll free phone no. for technical support.
  • quick turnaroud time - most repairs are completed within one week.

They specialize in repairing professional Sony and Canon camcorders. In thier own words, "We are a camcorder repair shop that specializes in repairing Prosumer Sony and Canon camcorders." For more info, visit their online shop itself at!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Magazines for Filmmakers

According to wikipedia, "a magazine is a periodical publication containing a variety of articles, generally financed by advertising, purchased by readers, or both." Almost all professions have magazines catering to their niche, and filmmaking is no different. There are some pretty good magazines out there for filmmakers to keep themselves updated with the latest developments in the film world.

Check out a few of them:
  • American Cinematographer: For more than 80 years American Cinematographer has been the monthly "magazine of record" for film professionals all over the world. AC offers in-depth, behind-the-scenes articles on how films are shot and lit. Top cinematographers and directors are interviewed at length. Director Martin Scorsese calls American Cinematographer a "beacon which has illuminated the field of cinematography and the motion picture industry for years, and I've been reading it since I was a film student."
  • Cineaste
    Cineaste is internationally recognized as one of America's foremost film magazines. An independent publication with no ties to the industry or academia, Cineaste features contributions from many of America's most articulate and outspoken writers, critics, and scholars. Each quarterly issue focuses on both the art and politics of the cinema, featuring interviews with directors, screenwriters, and performers, articles on trends, coverage of films from developing nations, and reviews of the latest Hollywood, foreign, and independent films.
  • Entertainment Weekly
    Get a front row seat for the latest on movies, TV, music, and more, with Entertainment Weekly is award-winning news, reviews, and feature stories. Each issue goes behind the scenes to deliver you the buzz, the biz, and the best in entertainment news every week!
  • Film Comment
    Film Comment champions the very best cinema has to offer, featuring reviews and commentary on international films, American movies, the avant-garde, and all points in between. Blending thought and substance with style and smarts, for more than 30 years the magazine has represented the vanguard of what's now and what's next. Film Comment is published bi-monthly by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
  • Sight and Sound
    Sight and Sound is essential reading for anyone interested in film. Each monthly issue delivers the latest moving image news from around the globe, with special correspondents reporting on film, television, the Internet, gaming, and new technology. In-depth interviews with leading filmmakers are complemented by stories on the key issues in film and television from box office and budgets to culture and censorship.