Saturday, December 15, 2012

That's A Wrap.

As the semester draws to a close I am left to look back on and evaluate my first semester of junior year. It has without a doubt been the best semester of my college experience. I have changed in so many ways, my outlook on life has become more targeted and refined. I finally feel that I am beginning to gain the experience and skills that I need to transform my ideas from foggy thoughts in my head into a clear product. I learned the importance of time. Things take time and time always seems to be slipping away faster than you hoped it would. Wait until the coffee is poured, and the cigarettes are lit. You cannot expect to arrive at your destination without taking the proper steps, steps that may seem unimportant or unnecessary at the time but in the end will come around to make a fool out of you. You need to know what you're getting into before you put everything you have into it. I am proud of what I have accomplished this semester, I know the quality of everything I have done could have been higher but that is not as important to me in this moment. What is important to me is that I now know what doesn't work. That is important to me because now I can try different things, those different things may or may not work but after trying them I will have one more thing that I know works or doesn't work. This semester has impacted me enormously as an individual and made me excited to try different things. Arturo, you have given me so many things to dwell on and think about. I have an entirely new take on film after taking your course. Thank you. That's all I can say to you, thank you. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Movie Critics

They have a tough job.

I am about halfway through doing my "I missed a blog post so I need to write a paper about films" stuff, and I've got to say that it's more difficult than I expected.

I have been watching movies since I was a child. In fact, there is a small mountain of ticket stubs from every films I've been to since the 6th grade. During each preview, I make a snap judgement about a film. And upon leaving the theatre, I always have my own opinion. For some reason, though, I can not formulate it into more than a handful of sentences. While writing these film reviews for class, I encountered a snag. I can't seem to draw out my thoughts enough to make a lengthy argument. However, it gets easier with every attempt.

Professional film critics often get a bad rap, but I respect their profession and their opinions. Sometimes I disagree with their thoughts, but that is the beauty of film.

Welp, it's all over..

Tomorrow, we get to show our fellow students what we've worked on and what we've learned.  Ending the semester is always a bittersweet thing.  You spend a lot of time working on things, put a lot of heart into them, but end up being so happy for it to be over once it is all over. Anyways, I'm really excited to show everyone the hard work all of our group put into our project.  Of course, nothing always goes as planned and we have had a ton of setbacks, from birds and trains on set, to not one, but two macbooks failing but I've always felt that the most important thing you can learn when you're working on something that is important to you, is learning from your failures and working through the hard things that are inevitable to get in your way.  I think our group did just that.  We made the cards we were dealt with work.  Of course, there are things that we could have avoided or do better at certain times, but I believe that we really did work hard to achieve what we achieved and for that, I'm extremely proud of our group.  With that being said, good luck to all of the other groups with their showings tomorrow, its going to be a great day and I'm excited for everyone to see all of our work!  Thanks for a great semester everyone, and of course, the main man himself, our teacher, Arturo.  Thanks again!

That's a Wrap

Despite all the finals-related stress, it was a great experience to see the final project come together. The project was a lot of fun for me as I was able to develop my editing skills and work with new people; everyone was so passionate and wanted to make sure Dog House both looked and sounded great; Erica and Zack painstakingly color corrected each scene in After Effects while Alex made original music for the project. Their drive inspired me to do my best and I couldn't be happier with the end result.The lack of sleep we have is completely worthwhile, as I feel we've made something we can all be proud of.

Band Greeks also wrapped earlier this week, and while I'm sad to see the show end, it was an excellent learning experience. We'll be entering post-production soon, and the episodes will air this coming Spring on ICTV.

This semester has been a blast, and I'm looking forward to seeing the results of everyone's hard work tomorrow at the Fiction Field Screening. Congratulations everyone, That's a wrap!

The Hobbit 3D: An Unexpected Journey

I like many other saw the Hobbit last night at midnight.  I thought it was very much worth it to go see it in 3D.  The visuals were stunning, and it played along well with the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand.

They did a great job creating the underworld caves of the goblins.  It looked just like I imagined it.  It went weaving through the mountain many layers deep and fo course there was the Goblin King.  In this great scene Gandalf slays the Goblin King in true epic fashion.

When Bilbo falls down to the bottom, everyone who read the books knows what was coming.  Probably my favorite scene in the book, the game of riddles between Gollum and Bilbo.  Gollum looks great and it was perfect to see a Gollum still with the ring briefly.

I thought The Hobbit was a great film, even keeping in the flaming pine cones, that I thought might be at risk.  It really is a must see and I would suggest seeing it in 3D.

Parenting a Movie

This final project is much to me like a child. I helped raise it, I fed it, taught it right from wrong, and even played catch with it in the back lawn... But in reality, this short film was stressful and frustrating, but also fun, and I feel a love for it in my heart. As this movie aged and grew, it went through some of the phases of a childhood, from infant, to toddler, up through boy scouts, and now it is in the adolescent stage - as in we don't really get along with each other right now. Its time to take a break. Throughout the writing, conceptualizing, storyboarding, directing, and editing, I have seen this movie far too much.  Though this movie is far from finished, it screens tomorrow; as the arrogant, cocky, ignorant teen that it is. I guess the parenting 101 lesson is to let the child (and myself) learn from their experiences. Once this is over and a short break is taken, it will be time to nurture this film into an adult. More post-production, and hopefully it will be ready in time for the Golden Doorknob screening in April. Wish us luck!

Rise of the Guardians

Recently I saw the new animated movie Rise of the Guardians. Starring Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law and directed by Peter Ramsey. I must say that I really enjoyed it, it was a pretty fun adventure, with great performances by the cast and it told a pretty good story, even though it wasn't exactly the most original thing in the world.

The story mainly centers around Jack Frost, the guy whose responsible for pretty much anything to do with winter. The movie is about him finding out what his purpose is and why he was given the powers that he's been given. As this is going on, the villain of the movie Pitch, voiced by Jude law comes back into the picture and threatens the children of the world. So Jack needs to team up with Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman to help stop him.

As I mentioned before, the story isn't the most original thing in the world but it's pretty entertaining. The movie moves along at a pretty quick pace so you're never really given time to be bored with it. I will say this though, the more sentimental moments with Jack are pretty heartfelt and the movie does have a pretty good message to tell by the end of it.

Technically the movie was great. I saw it in 3-D although it's not necessary to enjoy the movie by any means even though it looked great. The animation was beautiful and it was a pleasure to watch everything that was going on on screen.

All in all I would say go see it. It was a really fun movie that I thought was pretty creative even though the story wasn't super strong. The movie looked great, was well acted and it was fun. Go check it out.

The Black and Blue

There is an excellent website that I can spend hours upon hours on, and no it is not facebook. And it's not tumblr or IMDb either. It's a website called the Black and Blue.
This is a site that was started by an AC for ACs, cinematographers, anyone who wants to know more a
bout the camera department, or anyone who wishes to break into the industry. I've known about this site for a few months now, but I still find myself going through article after article finding some really valuable information.
Evan Luzi, the writer of the blog, first started out as a 2nd AC on a low-budget film called "Ghosts Don't Exist. After this experience he has worked on multiple features such as "Below the Beltway" and "Red Herring." He has also worked with some of the most advanced cameras in the industry and tends to prefer the Arri Alexa.
Evan's blog is both very informative and highly entertaining. I like his stories of when he has succeeded, but I especially like his stories from times that he has failed like on 'Ghosts Don't Exist' when he made a fool of himself by turning the bottle of compressed air upside down and spraying it in his DP's ear because the 1st AC told him it would be funny... Obviously, this ended very badly, but he shares all of his experiences good and bad and I appreciate that.
Some of the popular topics on the website include Behind the Lens, Camera Assisting, Cameras, Getting Work, Industry News, Toolkit, and Production Stories. Within either of these topics, you are surely going to find an article that will interest you and from that article, you'll find another and so on and so forth.
 This is a fantastic website and I highly recommend it.

Screenings Tomorrow

So screenings for Fiction Field and senior thesis are tomorrow and I am excited to see the projects of my fellow Park students.  Other than that this is the last blog for fiction field so that's pretty neat. I'm having a hard time ramble on about my life at the moment so I guess I could never make it as a successful blogger. Anyhow, I saw a trailer for the Hobbit recently and it looked insane (in a good way).  Imagine the visual effects of The Lord of the Rings on steroids.  So I'll definitely be seeing that in theaters as soon as I have enough cash flow.  Well this about raps up the blog post. See everyone tomorrow!

Trailers: The Amazing and The Deceiving

Have you ever been online and were completely bored? My guess: Absolutely. Whenever I get caught in this situation, I tend to decide to go to the gym, or do homework, or do something reasonable with my life, but finals are fast approaching and my ambition is slowly declining. So, I spent some time on youtube, and watched some trailers for several films that will be released over the next few months.

I never really considered the importance of a good trailer before, yet it is the very foundation for building an audience. When we go to the movie theater as a family, my dad always makes us go about ten minutes late so that we don't have to sit through the previews. When I go by myself, or with friends, I try to get there early because I secretly love the previews. Not all previews, but the ones that are the most intriguing. It's like opening presents at Christmas. I love the feeling of finding the next great movie  to go see.

What makes a great trailer? The music, the cuts, and the parts of the general plot that is chosen to be shown, all come together to entice people to go see the film. Most of all, the trailers that really strike me are the ones that leave me asking, "Wait! What's going to happen next?" or ones that leave me spinning through a "new world" or ones that have me sitting on the edge of my seat, tied down with suspense. Trailers that are not so successful are ones that make me say, "What's happening?" or are completely too realistic. Of course, it is a preference that varies between audiences and people, but overall a good trailer leaves people wanting to know more.

There is nothing worse than seeing an amazing trailer, going to the movie, and walking out completely disappointed. Most of the time I find that the trailer drew me in because they used their best scenes in the trailer. This has happened to me too many times to count. The biggest disappointment that I had was last year when I saw the new adaptation of The Three Musketeers. Talk about being disappointed. This has always been one of my favorite stories, and this ruined it. The acting wasn't the best and the plot just left a lot to be desired. Another film that disappointed me was Snow White and the Huntsman. It was alright up to a point, but again I wasn't really impressed with the plot or the acting as much as I was with the graphics and animation. With the exception of the Queen (whose character was played brilliantly by), I had been expecting so much more. The winner in disappointments was definitely the movie Eragon that came out a few years ago. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini is a great one, and this movie did not do it justice. Nothing really matched up character, setting, or plot wise, and left me feeling like I had entered a completely different world than the one I expected.

I'm hopeful that the trailers for these next films are in-line with what the actual movies will present. Here are some of the trailers (they are good ones!) for movies I'm really looking forward to:

The Hobbit

City of Bones

So, youtube is not letting me upload the others, but you should definitely check out The Host, Oz the Great and Powerful, and  Les Miserables.

~Amber Capogrossi

My Guilty Pleasure Film

Everyone has a guilty pleasure movie: a film that either has a horrible story or tons of technical errors, yet you can't peel your eyes away from the screen.

After giving it much thought, I'm a huge fan of the early 00's teen classic "Get Over It."

But this isn't just another poorly made movie. It had an all star teen cast at the time that included Shane West, star of such tear jerkers as "A Walk to Remember" and "Whatever It Takes", Kirsten Dunst, who was typed-cast as a high school upper classman for the better part of four years, Ben Foster, fresh off a breakthrough role in "Freaks and Geeks", and Mila Kunis, then-star of "That 70s show." Let's not forget Martin Short, a comedic staple in many 80s films.

Despite the star-studded cast and a director who previously created several critically acclaimed short films, the film was so bad it was good. Where do I begin?

The story of the film is loosely based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, much like many other teen films at the time. Foster plays a high school basketball jok who get's dumped by his questionably attractive girlfriend for Shane West, who is sporting a horribly fake British/Australian accent, so bad that the producer decided to change his physical appearance so it was less transparent.

Kirsten Dunst plays a theater geek who has a thing for Foster, who continues to ignore her obvious advances in his comedic attempts to win back his girlfriend.

It was really hard for me to understand why a film with such a great slew of actors could be so horrible. Then it hit me: everyone is anti-cast.

Shane West is obviously not British. Ben Foster was too meek and quiet compared to his usual roles. Kirsten Dunst, who usually plays the popular-type girl with all the friends, unsuccessfully attempted to play someone enamored with the arts. Sisqo is a singer, I really don't know why he was in this movie. The worst had to be Mila Kunis. At the time, she was known as the pushy, bitchy girlfriend of Michael Kelso on that 70s show. In this movie, she actually came off as kind and compassionate, which was off-putting to say the least.

Overall, all of these failures make the movie so stupid, it's worth watching again and again. I highly recommend it.

The Hobbit Review

Last night I attended the midnight premiere of "The Hobbit". I arrived at the theaters at around 11:00 PM to make sure I got a good seat and then waited for an hour for 15 minutes of previews to start. After this the movie finally started and then it finished up at around 3 AM.

Needless to say, it was a long night.

The Hobbit begins with scenes highly reminiscent of "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"; in fact, early on in the movie there is a scene that is an exact recreation of a scene from The Fellowship of the Ring.  This was fun, and people who have been longtime fans of the films will appreciate this.

The introduction to the movie is long. I would guess we don't start our adventure until close to 30 minutes into the movie. I've never had a problem with long introductions, but for some people, this may have been a bit too much. The story progresses very fluidly I felt, but there were so many subplots that you sometimes got lost in all the was happening. Also, this "impending doom" that was coming to Middle Earth was a topic that kept getting brought up, but everyone knows what this is, so I'm not sure why this message kept getting repeated.

Acting-wise, the cast is stellar. I can't think of a single performance that disappointed me. All the dwarves were casted wonderfully, Martin Freeman as Bilbo was perfect, and Ian McKellen returns to play the role that got him an Oscar. There were other cameos that may have been unnecessary in this movie, but their presence pleased fans and added to the story overall.

The cinematography was fantastic. I was drooling over the beautiful extreme wides portraying the landscapes and mountainous region of middle-earth. The fluidity of the cinematography is evident is every aspect of this movie. We seamlessly flow between the wides showing our adventurers traveling and the close-ups showing the true emotions on the character's faces. The film even uses several long takes that really show the great pacing that the actors had, even before they were being cut around.

Peter Jackson did a wonderful job on his latest return to Middle Earth, and quite honestly, I can't picture anyone else making these movies any more. He is really staying true to the feel of the Lord of the Rings movies while also keeping in mind the whimsical nature that is portrayed in The Hobbit.

Overall, I'd have to say this is a must watch for anyone who has been to Middle Earth before. Technically, this movie is almost flawless, and even the slow story is damn good. Go see it.

PS- I watched it in 3D. Really well made and seamless 3D, however, I'd save the extra $5 and watch it in 2D.

the reason I went into making movies

when I was younger I was quite the handful for my mother i refused to take naps or sit still or behave. the one thing that my mom found could give her some rest was if she turned on the television. this was a struggle for my mom because she detested television for some motherly reason I will never understand.

the problem with television was it had comercial and urring commercials I was back to running around breaking things.

so my mom started to get movies for me to watch.  i must have watched 2-3 movies a day starting from 4 years old up until high school when i got much busier

There was one movie i saw in 6th grade that changed my perception of movies it was The Royal Tennebaums directed by wes anderson. it was the first time i realized a movie could be multi layered  it could be funny and sad and provocative and complicated. visually beautiful yet hard to watch.

I watched it when I was very young so i re watched it every few months to this day and i notice something else and get more out of it ever time. when i realized this i realized how much a movie could be and i wanted to tell storys that way.

Nicolas Winding Refn

This week, I watched Drive (2011) and Bronson (2008) back to back. Both movies are directed by Refn and feature unusual stylistic lighting, cinematography, and music. Drive, starring Ryan Gosling, is about a Hollywood stunt driver that supplies a getaway car for criminals as long as they pull off their scheme in five minutes with one minute extra and no exceptions. The main character, who is nameless, gets involved with a woman and the mafia. Honestly, Drive is the best movie I've seen in a while. Every shot, Refn uses pink, blue, and yellow lighting somehow and it creates a retro feel that goes with the music. The soundtrack includes modern music that is electronic and reminiscent of 1980s music. Gosling probably has about twelve lines throughout the whole movie but Refn uses music to drive the narrative (no pun intended).
 Bronson, starring Tom Hardy, is similar to Drive in its style. Once again, pink, blue, and yellow lighting can be found in every scene. The story is about Charlie Bronson, Britain's most dangerous inmate. The movie is extremely unusual and it is hard to explain, so just watch it. The music doesn't quite fit with the scenes but at the same time, it works perfectly. Refn uses music that doesn't seem to fit but in a strange way, it works perfectly. I suggest you watch both of these movies. Once you do, you will understand what I mean about the music.

Did that just happen?

Did what just happen?

This semester is basically over- yeah, that happened. But I'm referring to something a little bit different, and a whole lot more inappropriate. Our group "The Faceoff" decided we wanted to get our film mixed and it ended up taking two sessions. Not only do I have a new found respect for those pursuing the audio concentration but I also realized I could never do that. Last night we finished up really close to 11 and at the very end one of the sound mixers put on a video. Hilarious, yes. Offensive, possibly. Just another look at audio and foley sounds.  *Disclaimer, this is not to be watched around children.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Video Mapping

While I was picking my classes for next semester, I stumbled upon a course called “Experimental video”. I talked to the professor more in depth about it and learned about all different types of filmmaking we’d learn in the course. This sparked my interest almost immediately when she mentioned one type of example, video mapping.

Video mapping is a projection technique that that display an image on any type of surface. For example this past summer while I was in Atlantic City, a building I was walking by looked like the bricks were falling off. There was a huge crowd watching and we quickly realized this image was being projected from somewhere.The images matched the building perfectly so it looked pretty legit. There were also random shapes of all colors on it dancing around to a beat. It was something I’ve never seen before. 

These projections can create fields of depth and optical illusions all matched with music. The possibilities are endless and it’s definitely a very cool and innovative entertainment technique. This is now starting to show in everyday places like Time square and other advertisements in big cities. Next time you’re out, try to see if you can find one.

Final Project in Review

When we started our final projects over a month ago I really did not know what to expect. I latched onto an idea that I found interesting in class and went from there. I was assigned to write the script with two of my classmates Rob and Kofi. Admittedly, we would consider ourselves amateur script writers. After 2 weeks of writing we came up with a 35 page script called the Face Off. Was 35 pages too long for a fiction field final? In retrospect, yes, but I think the theme of this project was that I was learning on the fly. I am proud of the script that the three of us wrote and I think had we were allotted more time than we could of have followed it more closely. Production was also a huge learning experience for me. Finding locations, talent, costumes, and set pieces, was an exciting new venture me. Also, creating the set with proper lighting, audio, and continuity was a challenge. Some scenes went better than others. Most notably our debate scene which we held in the Park auditorium was looking fantastic. However, we ran out of time for our reservation for the room. Being only a handful of days before editing was to take place, we could not re-shoot the scene. Instead, we had to choose a new location, cut a big chunk of our script, and stay up much later than I think anyone in the group planned to finish the production. This served as another valuable lesson: always have a backup plan, and think quickly on your feet. The next part of this experience that I was able to learn from was editing. The editing process was an interesting one. By interesting I mean exhausting, staying up through all hours of the night and into the morning to get our film edited correctly. I tip my hat to Jarred and Breanne for their dedication throughout the editing process. That basically leaves us where we are now, audio mixing our project so it is ready to go for the screening on saturday. As we started the audio mixing process, I was actually terrified to see what all our clips looked like lined up with each other. As we mixed through our entire session on tuesday night, I grew more and more excited to see the final project. The bottom line is this: Our project is not perfect. The plot line didn't go as planned, our locations didn't go as planned, editing didn't go as planned, but the final product resembles countless hours of hard work from each group member. This is by far the hardest I have worked on a single project in my life. With that being said, I am so happy to present The Face Off at the screening on saturday in front of friends and peers. Over a month of work put into one project is finally over. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the Face Off.

Thunder Buddies For Life

Ted is by far my favorite movie I've seen this year. How many other movies have a teddy bear that smokes pot? None that I've seen. No-one is safe from being made fun of in this movie, even the voice of Ted Seth Macfarlane. The writing of this movie is definitely the best part of the movie.
I don't care what other people say, I love Mark Wahlberg. He is that perfect actor for a serious role in a comedy (The Other Guy's anyone?). I think the best part of this movie is how they are able to turn a stuffed teddy bear into a realistic looking bear and have it turned into a celebrity that people want. Since this isn't a zombie movie I can't say it was perfect but it was as close to perfect as it could considering I was crying from laughing. Everyone who doesn't get offended easily should go see this. If you do get offended easily, go see it any way so you can get offended.

Hobbit Production and Various Behind the Scenes

After class on Monday I spent one night this week going through all of the production blog posts for the Hobbit. There's 9 parts in all and I'd highly recommend going through and watching them all, even if you're not a fan of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings. Especially for us, it's a valuable glimpse into what we're getting ourselves into.

One post in particular stood out to me though. The focus was on the technical aspects of the film. They talk about filming in 3D, and they do a great job at explaining how filming in 3D works. They also go over the logistics of shooting in 48p and how design had to change because of it. I wouldn't have thought filming in a higher frame rate would cause them to completely redesign some costumes with different fabrics, patterns, and colors as well as complete set pieces, but they did.

Definitely watch the video, and all of them if you have time (HA!) It's definitely a good project for over break. They're really interesting.

Also, if you're into the behind the scenes type videos, there's a girl on youtube who has chronicled the process of making her first short film out of college. I've been following her and the process of pre-production, production, and now post production since around October. It's interesting to watch someone who is in the same position we'll be in all too soon. Everything she makes is oddly captivating and I can't wait to see "The Water's Fine." Here's the first video in her playlist for the making of "The Water's Fine." Throughout the whole series she gives you a glimpse into her writing process, location scouting, casting, and more. Check it out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Could Watch GoPro Clips Allllllllll Day

Personally, I think GoPro footage is always cool. And when they released the newest GoPro, the Hero3 series this past October, YouTube has been flooded with new (and pretty sweet) footage.

Seriously, turn this up to 720p (why it isn't automatically uploaded in HD is a shame because it looks stunning) and marvel at how pretty it all is. And on such a little camera. Amazing.

This video is also a favorite because I am terrified of heights. And planes (I'm really claustrophobic). But this is awesome, and also a little ironic because the skydiving club is called the "BombSquad" 

So yea, enjoy the videos, and I'll see you all in class soon!

Anna Karenina

This weekend, I saw the film Anna Karenina at Cinemopolis. There have been numerous adaptations of the classic novel and I was eager to see how director Joe Wright's would differ from others. The novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is one of my favorite novels - everything about it from the romance, to the social commentary, and to the psychological thrill has been one of the most emotionally gripping, though somewhat convoluted books I've ever put the time into reading. I was very excited to see how Wright would break up the rather lengthy novel and how he would interpret it. I ended up being pleasantly surprised. The entire film is set as though it is "staged" in a theater - almost like an Opera. This seemed fitting to me as the novel is very melodramatic. Visually, the film is a wonder. Everything is so crafted, and seems to flow as though it is one fluid movement. Of course, the story of Anna Karenina is one we've heard before on several different levels - scandalous women who become outcasts in their society's structures, an adulterous wife, and an entangling love triangle. In that sense, Anna Karenina may seem somewhat tired to some people, but I thought that Wright did a good job of portraying the depth and emotions of the characters in order to set it apart.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Real World: Life After College

After watching the video about The Hobbit today in class, and working with people on our final project, I got to thinking...what's the future going to be like?  We're all struggling these last few weeks with finals, but what's going to happen once we step out beyond the Park School and actually have to do this for a living?  Instead of having classes to deal with on top of our productions, we'll have real life issues like families, mortgages, and all of that fun stuff. Is that going to be easier to balance, or more difficult?  Will we manage those two day run and guns?  Can we complete a feature film with only four days until the premiere?  Are we ever going to get adequate sleep again in our lives?

Noon...eight hours into a shoot...and I'm not even
on the actual makeup department.
The fact of the matter is, despite the kind of semi-insanity it takes to put in the hours in either pre-, post-, or regular production, the dedication is one of the most important parts.  You can't make a quality film without genuinely caring about the final outcome; when you make something truly good, you feel as if you've put a part of yourself into it.  It's like all of your time and annoyance at the entire thing has finally paid off, and will, with some skill (and maybe some luck), make this a really worthwhile production.  It's something you have to feel for yourself to wholly understand, I think, and from what I've known of the sensation, it's an awesome payoff.

You've also got to be flexible if you're going to work on any kind of shoot; your title might be "camera 2," but if someone asks you to, you can jump in and work as a boom op, extra, gaffer, or anything, especially on smaller productions akin to what we'll more than likely all be starting in.  Again, it goes back to your dedication; when you really want something to come out well, it shows in the work that's put in, even when it isn't technically your job to do something.  Being an extra hand never hurts on most shoots, so hopping in on little things to make the entire production go smoother.

So, the question: what's the better life choice, to get the necessary amount of sleep each night to function properly at a mediocre job that you mildly like, or to stretch every last minute with work you're passionate about despite its slight impact on your health?

As much as I love my naps (and I really love naps), I'd totally go into this field of frenzy and film in a heartbeat.  The years ahead working with this sort of thing will without a doubt be spontaneous and full of late nights, but for the enjoyment I get out of putting in the time and effort with a group of like-minded people, it's worth it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Glidecam HD-2000

  This past month I was given the opportunity to use a Glidecam HD-2000 camera stabilizers to mount my camera and shoot handheld.  I just wanted to explain some tips I learned while using the stabilizer and talk about my experience.

  The Glidecam was suggested to me by one of my friends who owns one because he said it would aid in stabilizing shots and take out natural shakiness of simply shooting handheld.  I took his advice and he allowed me to borrow his Glidecam.  Upon first getting the Glidecam I had to recalibrate the stand for my own camera.  I found that since I only have a zoom lens for my DSLR I needed to extend the lengthen the main rod in order to counter balance the extra weight of my camera(this could also be achieved by adding extra weight to the stabilizers and keeping the stand the same weight, however it would make the rig heavier and more difficult to use).  After that I had to calibrate the rig to perfectly balance my camera so the rig would stay right side up.

  Once I finished calibrating I began to practice.  To properly use a Glidecam you must use two hands.  One hand to hold the handle which holds the majority of the rigs weight, and the other hand to lightly and delicately hold the main rod of the rig and point the camera.  After an extreme amount of practicing I went out to the shoot and used the rig.  I can honestly say that the camera not only increased perceived  the production value of the project, it substantially improved the quality of the work by allowing for fluid movements unattainable using simply a handheld camera.  Although our film encompassed both Glidcam and handheld shots (depending on motivation) I personally enjoyed watching back the shots taken on the Glidecam substantially more.  After using the Glidecam for only a short time I am convinced that this tool may be worth the investment in order to improve the quality of my projects.

Got Gump?

I don't think I've written about Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis, yet so here it goes.

I'm going to focus on an aspect to it that I noticed it last time I watched it. This movie is highly adaptive to its audience. By this I mean that the same person, depending on their mood can get different meanings out of it every time they watch it.

Last night I watched it in a slightly darker mood than I normally watch it. And scenes meanings changed for me. For example in the scene where he says his last words to Bubba. Forrest Gump narrates "If I'd have known this was going to be the last time me and Bubba was gonna talk, I'd of thought of something better to say." Bubba asks Forrest why did that happen. And Forrest replies "you got shot." And then Bubba dies in Forrest's arms. In the past I had laughed because it was a funny line since he states the obvious, like always. But last night it had weight behind it, it wasn't funny. It was actually a very sad scene. He tried to save his best friends life, willing to lose his own, and he failed. 

There are many other aspects that were different too. Story changing too. Normally when watching this, pardon the french, but Jenny is a bitch and Forrest is the helpless victim to her acidic lifestyle. Last night though I was sympathetic towards Jenny and Forrest was more of her savior. It was more of Jenny's story and Forrest was just a tool used to explain it. I was drawn a lot more to her and her problems. Almost all of the references to birds, being free, and running came through.

It wasn't so much the story of Gump anymore, not the American Dream, but probably the human dream. The contrast between Forrest and jenny really showed this. Jenny, trapped by her past, drug addiction, not satisfied with her life and always trying to escape it. Forrest while "constrained" by his intelligence, "broke out" of it as a kid in the scene where he breaks his leg braces. He never lets anything hold him back and just lives life freely. He went with the flow, without too much thought as to what the consequences could be. He is completely free. Which is where Jenny wants to be, she even says she wishes she was like a bird. And birds typically and in this case as well are symbols of freedom. By the end she gets there right before her death.

There were many other examples of these new meanings depending on the mood. But I'll let you figure out the meanings for yourself. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Blurring the Line

Over the past few months I have begun to rediscover my interest in video games. For several years I thought of them as childish and wanted no part of them. I have only recently looked at them as artwork, and that change in perpective was brought on by viewing the trailer for Assassin's Creed Revelations

I have never been so immersed in a trailer for a video game, at points I truly felt I was watching a film. The attention to and level of detail is astounding. This piece is phenomenal on every level, aside from the outstanding visuals that border on photorealism the music playing along with it is perfect. It captures the epic journey that is taking place within the brief length of the video.

The idea of video games as art is something that I ignored for far too long. I am excited to come back to the video game world with an entirely new perspective and re introduce myself to interactive art.

Audio... and the Outside World

Today, our group embarked on our final shoot for our project and the semester.  I kind of wanted to save my post for this past week for today because I wanted one more shoot under my belt doing audio to write a good blog post on it (Arturo, I hope and plead that you can forgive me).   Originally, we planned to shoot inside, but due to a noisy refrigerator, we decided to shoot outside; boy was that a mistake.  When we arrived at our destination, everything was great.  It was a perfect temperature outside as well as little noise (besides some nature noises that we'd accounted for).  But then, the Geese came. And my god did they come.  Hundreds of them from all directions swarmed in front of us to lake cayuga, honking with everything they had in them.  Clearly, we could not shoot their anymore due to the obnoxious noises they were producing and the fact that we could barely hear ourselves talk, let alone try to record it for our project.  We then decided to move all of our equipment and our shot farther down in the park to move away from the Geese.  The geese must have had all hell planned for us because they decided that they would follow us.  We finally decided to move farther back into the park next to a river, far from the lake shore and the Geese.  I had my headphones on and finally, thought we were in the clear on noise and were finally going to be able to get this shoot done.  Little did I know, that the worst had not happened yet.  As we were ready to go for the shoot, a bunch of cars decided that it was an opportune time for them to drive past us as we were shooting, making the recorded audio completely inaudible.  If you would have seen where we were at in this park, you would've thought that these cars were doing everything in their power to screw up our shoot.  I clearly remember one car driving around the gigantic circle at least ten times, and perfectly timed to pass us every time we started shooting.  Once the car noise died down and we finally were able to start shooting, the unthinkable happened, a train decided to come out of nowhere and blow its extremely loud and echoing horn.  This lasted for about 20 - 30 minutes because as you know, in Ithaca, we are surrounded by mountains which creates a whole lot of reverb.  It was not ideal, not ideal at all.  Finally, the train had passed, or was at least far away enough that we could not hear its horn.  We began to shoot again, and are halfway through the dialogue when I hear a loud ping.  I look to my right and realize that there are golfers teeing off at the golf course on a rainy saturday morning across the river from us.  This happened several more times and was followed by more cars and police sirens from in town that echoed throughout the valley.  Needless to say, it was an audio nightmare, and something you can only truly laugh out loud to due to its absolute ridiculousness.  This shoot taught me a lot about the patience it takes to be an audio guy and how well trained your ear has to be to be one.  I'm not saying that I absolutely want to do audio again or in the future as a job, but it was a great experience and is an incredible important thing to have in your films.  Respect your audio guy.  He has to put up with all of natures and mankind's ugly sounds and somehow make them listenable to your ears.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Tomorrow we are going to shoot the last few scenes of our film. We got off to a good start last weekend and shot most of what we needed so we were entirely on schedule. I have enjoyed this project for the most part and the group of people on the cast and crew, but I wish we had more time. More time so that we could further develop an idea and cut down on plot holes and just in general have more time to for production so that we are not rushed and trying to cram in all of the post in a few days. With that being said, I think we still will be able to accomplish something that we are proud of and I think we are all excited to show off some of the footage in class!


Time lapse photography. I am fascinated with it. When we talked about Koyaanisqatsi (and a couple of other related films that I can't remember right now), I immediately thought of a project that I saw on Vimeo a couple of years ago, TimeScapes...

When I purchased my first DSLR, I researched a bunch of different tricks I could do with it. I naturally went to Vimeo where I stumbled across the profile of award-winning cinematographer Tom Lowe. His focus was nature, and his work was some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. He soon embarked on a journey across the American southwest to record some of the most beautiful landscapes and cultures on Earth.

Released a few months ago, TimeScapes is the first 4K film to be sold to the public. While I have not seen it yet, it looks gorgeous (I really want to see it, but am waiting for some cash so can purchase the Bluray version... damn being a poor college kid). From all of the trailers, I can gauge a few things: the night sky is freaking beautiful, I want a RED camera, time lapses are even cooler when on a moving rig, and there is no need for a narrative to make a film work.

Non-narrative films are things that I am starting to enjoy. As I grow up, I appreciate art more and more. These films are as much art as they are entertainment. With my camera and remote shutter/timer, I hope to someday create something 1/100th as creative as TimeScapes.

Check out one of the many awesome trailers for TimeScapes below. And for more information on the film, check it out here.

Mr. Hulot's Holiday: Mr. Bean's Predecessor

Released in 1953.
Mr. Hulot's Holiday (originally Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot) directed by Jacques Tati is a lighthearted gimmicky French film about the quirky Mr. Hulot. Without a plot, the film might seem somewhat dry to some. But for others – like Director Terry Jones of Monty Python & The Holy Grail – it's a classic comedy. For Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Hulot's character served as inspiration for his Mr. Bean alter-ego in his 2007 English remake: Mr. Bean's Holiday.

During a DVD exclusive introduction, Jones exclaims that Tati’s film was one of the first to bring together comedy and beauty. He cites three reasons to support his opinion. 

Firstly, Jones praises the film’s black & white cinematography and composition saying that “the atmospheric postcards allow us to soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful vacation.” Shot on the coast South of France at a beach resort, Tati has crafted an ideal vacation spot in a fashion befitting Norman Rockwell.

Secondly, he says, that Taiti’s mastery over comedic elements allows him to create hilarious visual puns. Jones says that, in comedy, the main idea is to join two separate ideas into one to get a laugh. 

Thirdly, Jones believes that Taiti is attempting to look towards the future with his use of jazz music and belief in the youth. He says that his third point is “something that doesn’t happen in his later films.”

'Tis the Season

I generally dislike how commercialized and lengthy the Christmas season is (like people who decorate immediately after Halloween), however I do love watching Christmas movies. Well, I actually only like some Christmas movies.. they have to be funny - forget the classical and traditional, except for the stop-motion Rudolph movie, and maybe the animated Grinch. However, as much as I act like a watered down version of Scrooge in the month of December, it is actually a goal of mine to create a Christmas movie somewhere down the line. I'm not sure what it may contain yet though. But I will definitely be inspired by movies like Christmas Vacation, Elf,  Scrooged, and most prominently the South Park Christmas in Canada episode (season 7 episode 15). My score will probably include songs from 'A Very Nolan Christmas,' for those of you that don't know what that is, here is the video featuring Ithaca College's own Nolan Berkowitz!
Well, maybe not, but what I mean is that I will probably create a very witty, tongue-in-cheek, non-serious, and hilarious Christmas movie. Possibly in the form of a musical as well if I'm in the mood at the time. I don't altogether hate Christmas, just so you know, I just hate how far people take it these days. The 12 days of Christmas have now expanded to almost 2 months.

But in all seriousness, watch out for a feature-length Christmas movie (probably low budget) by Scott Walle. It will happen.

Heres my favorite clip from my favorite Christmas movie of all time.

It's Cold in Ithaca, but "Hot in Cleveland"

Well, it is nearing that part of the semester where everything falls apart... luckily, I still manage to find time to relax a little bit to some fun, comedy TV. My latest hook has been on a show called "Hot in Cleveland," created by Suzanne Martin, that airs on TV Land. This wonderful comedy is about four older women, originally from L.A., who try to find a new life in Cleveland. Between midlife crisis and the men that fall in and out of their lives, these woman keep you constantly laughing. The four main actresses are Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick, and (drum roll) Betty White!

All four women are fantastic actresses. I'm still astonished at how hard and how much Betty White works, but I'm so thankful because she is so talented! This show is really helping me keep a smile during this hard time of finals. The most interesting aspect of this show though, is that it is filmed in front of a live studio audience. In some of my acting classes, the difference in acting between shows that are just filmed for TV and those that are filmed in front of a live audience may seem subtle but is actually very different. When I first started watching this show, I was slightly thrown off by the theatrical hint in the acting. Then I noticed in the introduction that they mentioned that it was filmed in front of a audience. After that, it all made sense. It is almost like a different "dialect" of acting. It has to be more theatrical based on the fact that there is a live audience. I think shows like this would be fun to do; a combination of both a theatrical and film styles. Who would have known that acting and filming could be so diverse?!

~Amber Capogrossi

Key & Peele

Very recently my friend Jake introduced me to the comedy group Key & Peele. Now I'm sure that a lot of you have already heard of these guys because they are pretty popular, but I'm just getting around to seeing them and I would absolutely tell everyone to go watch their stuff.

Key & Peele are two comedians who got their start on the show MADtv, which was a sketch show sort of like SNL, just not as popular. After MADtv ended in 2009, two of the actors, Key & Peele went their own way and started up another sketch show on Comedy Central, called, well Key & Peele.

The sketches range from political oriented sketches to ones that are just plain funny. Here are a few examples from the show.

and probably my favorite sketch.

I would highly recommend this show to anyone. The show just finished its second season but you can just catch some re-runs on Comedy Central.

Speech on Film Vs Digital

For my Public Speaking class I recently gave two speeches on Film Vs Digital. One speech sided with film and the other with digital. This is the speech on gave supporting the digital side.

How many of you have heard of Avatar? This incredibly beautiful movie was not made using film cameras. It was made using a digital camera similar to ones in our phones. Digital filmmaking is quickly becoming the fastest growing method of filmmaking. As a filmmaker, I personally shoot on digital cameras and several directors and cinematographers are switching over from using the traditional 35-millimeter film to digital shooting formats.  This has allowed for more films to be made at a faster, cheaper, and more efficient capacity.  

Digital cameras, which are a relatively new movie-making tool has also been gaining serious traction among professionals in the field as well as the studios. Most studios are now planning to switch over to an entirely digital filmmaking workflow.  According to LA Weekly, studios are demanding the switch from 35-milimeter film to digital, and for good reason.

Starting purely with the look and quality of digital footage, digital has a much cleaner image when shot in the proper conditions and lighting. One of the many arguments against digital filmmaking is that film subjectively has a better look. This is a mostly irrelevant argument at this point in time. Currently the “film look” can be emulated through editing the image.  In an interview with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez says “we could make a digital movie and have it look exactly like a film from the era”. He did just this and showed his results to film purist Quentin Tarantino who finally admitted he was blown away with the results of digital.  Other qualities that make digital better than film aesthetically is the cleanness of the image. Film deteriorates in quality over time. Digital video and images last forever. This also means there won’t be any scratches or dusts spots on the image as it’s being projected in digital, one of the many things our eyes have gotten used to after watching movies projected on film for so many years.

The cost of making movies on film far exceeds the cost of making movies on digital. According to Ken Rockwell of, “For $600, your 1,000 feet of film only runs about 12 minutes.”  And then he goes on to elaborate on the other processes that involve processing film so it can be digitized and edited; he says “Thus we've spent about $2,200 for 12 minutes, or over $10,000 for an hour of film.” The costs of film as you can see is exorbitant. We have students here at Ithaca College still deciding to shoot on film, and they’re driving the costs of their productions upwards of 2000 dollars. Not exactly a shoestring budget for college. If the students shot on digital, they could have made the cost of shooting their movie potentially for free. Comparing this to the costs of certain digital formats, film is over 10 times more expensive then certain pro-sumer based storage devices and on the pro cameras it’s still about 5 times more expensive. Also, film storage only gets one use whereas digital you can get a potentially infinite reuse of the storage device. According to Rich Lackey, an expert in Digital Cinema Technology, the cheap cost of digital filmmaking has led to the advent of more competition in the field of filmmaking. More competition means more movies, which is good for us, the audience.

The first movie to win an Oscar for cinematography that was shot on digital was “Slumdog Millionaire”, ever since then, more and more movies have been made digital cameras.  Roger Deakins, a cinematographer, widely regarded as one of the best in the industry made the switch to digital in the James Bond film “Skyfall” and he expressed how much he loved the digital format. Other filmmakers are also making the switch. James Cameron, who most recently directed “Avatar” claims that film has been dead to him for years because you can’t make 3d with it. 3D although disliked by some, is known to be a great source of profit for the industry and generally is a very positive aspect of filmmaking when used correctly.  Some incredibly well made digital 3D movies include: Avatar, Hugo, How to Train Your Dragon, TRON Legacy and Prometheus. Peter Jackson bought 48 RED Epic Digital Cameras for his most recent movie “The Hobbit”, which is also being shot in 3D.  These are some of the biggest names in Hollywood now saying that digital is the most superior filmmaking medium in terms of ease of shooting.

Shooting digital also has its advantages from other perspectives. It gives the filmmaker the most manipulation after something has been shot. For example, if a scene was not recorded at the correct settings, RAW video now allows for an editor to go change the settings afterwards on the computer. This is not a luxury that film has over digital.
In the end, the ones who stand to profit most from digital filmmaking is us, the audience. Now movies get to push the limits more than ever before, and we can see these great expansive and beautiful multi-dimensional worlds created right in front of our eyes. Overall digital is cheaper, faster and easier to manipulate than film. Soon enough film will be a thing of the past, and digital will be the only acceptable method of making and viewing movies. So the next time you watch a movie ask yourself, is this shot digitally or on film? Chances are you won’t be able to tell, because by this point digital is not just equal to film, it’s surpassed it.