Like my short film "Celeste"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nikon Festival

I just submitted my video for the Nikon Festival.

Hopefully it will be deemed worthy of entering the voting round by the judges.
Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Music Video

Check out this video I edited for the band Locksley:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Control a camera on a pre-recorded video?

Is this the future of youtube? Or video games? Or film??

Whatever it is, it's sick!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Music Video Fun

It's a little past 12:30AM and I've just finished a rough cut of a music video for this really cool band singing this catchy, catchy tune.

I'm doing it as a favor, but either I'm not having fun and getting paid or having fun and getting paid or having fun and not getting paid. Oh, or having fun and paying (going out, for instance...). Confusing? Maybe, but all I meant was: I don't mind not being paid if I'm having fun!

Anyways, it's a really cool idea and I'm loving being able to cut this thing. Plus it was shot on the RED and that's always SO sweet to work with. Love it.

On the same theme, I shot my buddy Jean from the band Kites singing last weekend on his rooftop with my little Nikon D90 (a modern version of an 8mm camera). It was a lot of fun and I think the footage looks great. Got a cheap monopod to stabilize the thing, otherwise it will jitter like Jell-O. But working on a cut slowly and I'm pretty happy with it!


Saturday, March 21, 2009

My First Full Size 35mm Sensor "Film" Camera

Emphases on "Film". By no means it is a film camera.

Just got the Nikon D90 and as I expected, it shoots (unfortunately) highly compressed video but with amazing DOF and great colors!

Here's a glimpse at my first successful test:

(previous tests had the auto-exposure messing with the flow of my shots. I fixed it by going to the controls menu and setting the AE-Lock button to actually lock and HOLD the exposure)

Issues so far (1 hour testing...) are the Jellocam effect, the relatively short duration of the clips and the mono audio.

Good thing is the Jellocam effect can be eliminated with the purchase of a stabilizing rig, like a Glidecam or a Steadicam Merlin.

There's nothing to do about the short duration of the clips, but if you're shooting a professional piece you'll use professional external audio recording equipment, so don't worry about the built-in mono audio.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Telepathy Screenshots!

Here are a couple of screenshots featuring my amazing actors Jessica O'Hara Baker and Adam Hayes.

It's still missing a color correct and final audio post.

We can't use any live audio from the shoot, because I didn't have a sound guy, but luckily I have access to amazing audio engineers and recording studios.

The plan is to foley the whole thing and we already did the ADR for the few live lines.

Good news is I'm happy enough with it that I think I'm sending it to festivals!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Green Screen 3D Tracking Fun!

While we were waiting around at a shoot the other day, I asked my DP friend John Dreyer to shoot a test for me.

I put some marks with gaffer tape on the green screen and walked around doing ducking and stepping over imaginary props.

But I should've asked for the camera to be shoulder mounted and moving around more, because the effect works best if you shoot it that way. Next time I'll be less caring about giving more work to ACs!

Here's a very rough test:

Saturday, February 07, 2009

New Telepathy

In college I directed a short film called Telepathy.

I think it worked as an idea but I was always frustrated by the crappy camera and amateur sound used in the film.

So, 4 years later it was time to recycle my idea and turn it into a better quality project.

I shot it with a Panasonic HPX-3000 camera about 3 months ago and today we recorded the VO with the actors.

I won't reveal the story here but let's just say that the 3 minute short only has 3 lines of live dialog.

It was so much fun to record the VO. I didn't have proper audio gear at the time of shooting, we just recorded sound from the on camera mic, so I asked my friend and sound engineer Tom to ADR the 3 lines.

So we looped the lines over and over again until the actors could repeat it perfectly.

And now the sound sounds great, we just need to work on making it not sound as perfect, by adding room tone and some reverb and other effects.

I will post a cut when the short is ready.

David Mullen, A.S.C..

I posted a question on to cinematographer David Mullen, A.S.C. today.

For some time now there was an issue that's been bothering me. Why do the recent movies that went through a D.I. look so good on Blu-ray or HDTV? Sometimes they look even better at home than in theaters (with 2K standard projection).

Well, I decided to ask David Mullen why.

Here's my question:

Hey David,

I get frustrated when I grade my projects because it seems that no matter what I do, I can never get the incredible look that the newer DI movies have.

To see what I mean, notice how good these DI movies look on your HDTV. It looks better than our usual 2K projection theaters!

For instance, since we're on a RED forum, The Knowing has that clean rich darks and rich warm colors look. A great example outside RED is The Zodiac, shot with the Viper. The yellows were amazing in that movie.

I've noticed that most of these movies have been DI'd at Deluxe.
Do they have a secret to achieve that look or was it achieved on set?

Jose Maria Norton
Here's a shot from "Knowing"

... and another shot from "Zodiac".

And here's David Mullen's answer:

It's a combination of elements, from the choice of camera, to how it was set-up, to how the scene was lit, to how it was corrected in post, processed, etc.

I'm afraid you're just running up against the challenge that every DP faces -- "how do I make my movie look really, really great, not just adequate?" You spend a long time -- sometimes a lifetime -- trying to figure that out.

Sometimes, not always, it's just the accumulation of a hundred little decisions, and other times, it's a few broader choices you made. I know that's vague...

For example, there was a great article in an old American Cinematographer on getting "clear pictures" by Ken Richter (Oct. 1978 issue). This was a guy who went around the country showing 16mm nature and winter sports footage to audiences. He often got asked why his footage looked so good, particularly since most of it was shot in 16mm. He wrote this article to explain how, but the gist of it was that there was no single "trick" involved -- that sharp, clear, rich photography came down to the choice of camera, lenses, f-stop chosen, filters, exposure, film stock, processing, printing, color-correction, projection and projector lens, theater conditions, etc.

In other words, any single step had a minor effect on quality, but it was accumulative as you went through all the steps out to the end result.

A lot of it came down to contrast as well, since contrast affects our perception of sharpness, so he used contrasty lenses in stronger lighting contrast on higher contrast stock, etc. to compensate for the softness of 16mm.

Truth is that you may do any number of things right, but one step in the process done badly can reduce the quality of the final product. So to some extent, you have to be a quality-control freak.

On the other hand, to get back to the "big picture", a strong graphic image will survive any number of quality-reducing factors. Spielberg once wrote something similar, which I agree with -- if you create a particularly graphic image, like a dramatic silhouette, or someone in a dark room in a single shaft of light, then it tends to survive being mishandled in post or presentation -- it may even look cool if shot in Super-8.

Whereas an extremely subtle image, like a blooming pear blossom tree on an overcast day, all pastels and soft lighting... well, that may look great shot and projected in 70mm, but it may look too mushy if shot in Super-8 -- the "point" of the shot may be lost on the viewer.

That doesn't mean that we should only create strong graphic images, but it may mean that if we have a lot of very subtle touches to the image, if it is a very "delicate" image, you may want to spend more time making sure it is presented properly. I mean, I've seen both "Citizen Kane" and "Days of Heaven" in 16mm prints, I can tell you that the first survives that form of reduction better than the second.

Also keep in mind that Fincher used an expensive noise reduction process at John Lowry's film restoration company for his two Viper movies, to make the noise / grain more consistent throughout the movie.
David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles
Very inspiring!

There is no one secret to getting the perfect look, but a combination of quality driven choices DPs, directors and colorists make to achieve the best image possible.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

David Fincher: "Sociopath and Masochist"

Today I went to see David Fincher live at the Lincoln Center in New York. I barely didn't make it. A friend told me about it last night and when I looked it up online today tickets weren't available for purchase online. And when I called, they told me I had to go to the box office at Lincoln Center, addind that there were only 6 tickets left.

And so I hurried up to 59th St. from my place downtown and when I got to the box office - catching my breath - I asked if there were any tickets still available. "Just one" said the woman behind the box office. I was pretty lucky!

I had rarely seen interviews with him, but from his movies you can pretty much tell that he has a great sense of humor.

He does. He was really funny, but with a dark sense of humor.

Finch was there to talk about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. If you haven't seen it, please do, it's a great movie - super original. I love the feeling of leaving the theater with a sense of having seen something new and pardon the cliché, but "never done before". This film gave me that wonderful feeling.

"Benjamin Button" was shot with the Viper camera and for all the shots that needed face replacements (over 300), additional cameras were used to calculate the precise 3D positioning of the tracking markers on the actor's blue head mask.

It was funny to see how they achieved the expressions from 5 days of shooting Brad Pitt. These reference expressions from Brad were used to translate them into keyframes in Brad's digital old face. And how Brad frequently disagreed with the expressions from the actor on set. For instance, in the scene shown above, the actor had looked serious and amazed at his muscles; Brad instead chose to smile and look proud. I like what he did.

David Fincher is a funny man. When a member of the audience asked him if would consider shooting Se7en 2 (I know, dumbest question ever...) he said he'd rather stick a cigarette in his eye! And when someone else asked him how he dealt with the studios interfering with the lengths of his movies, he said: "you just have to be a masochist." The "sociopath" joke came before when he was making fun of himself.

There are a lot times when I'm thankful of living in New York. Today was one of them.