The first time I heard Peter Jackson & James Cameron talk about shooting movies at 48fps I thought it sounded like a bad idea. One of the things I love about film is the 24fps feel. I’m sure 48fps has its place, but I just don’t see it being the movies. Hey who knows maybe in 10 years all our movies will be shot at 48fps & we’ll all love it. Here’s a first hand take on the new frame rate from CinemaCon…

NAB 2012 Cameras

So I write this post from the Las Vegas airport about to leave NAB 2012. This year there was some pretty crazy cameras to see. It amazing how fast camera technology is moving right now. It was only a year ago that your large chip camera options were really limited to only a handful of cameras (under $25k anyway) & If you eliminate the DSLRs from that category your options dropped down to 2-3 cameras. And only 6 months ago did the RED scarlet & C300 enter the scene. In the last few weeks we’ve seen camera manufacturers add Blackmagic’s cinema camera, Sony FS700, C500, Canon 1D-C, 5D MIII, & who knows what will be coming next. It really is an amazon time to be a filmmaker because no longer do you have to have a major studios budget & resources to be able to tell your story. Now we have more camera options than ever that will enable us to film high quality pictures in ways that were never possible before. So, find the tool that best suits your story and get shooting!

It’s a crazy time to be a filmmaker. I can’t wait to see all the new toys at NAB next week…

Story, Story, Story, Story

Watching movies with my two year old daughter this last weeks has made me realize even more how important your story is. Her current favorite movie is Toy Story 3 (which she calls “Jesse”) & since she liked that one do much I bought her the first two. I saw the original Toy Story when I was 12 & haven’t seen it in something like 10 years until last week. Being a DP I do like pretty pictures & I knew that the original Toy Story film was the first full length animated feature ever created & that it didn’t look as good as the newest installment in the Toy Story franchise. But what I didn’t realize is how bad it looked in comparison to the new animated features which have the advantage of 15+ years of computer animation innovation. There was almost not depth of field, the scenes didn’t feel like they had any depth to them because of the lighting & shadows, & the characters didn’t move as life-like as we’re accustomed to today. That being said, it’s still a great movie because of the story & characters in it.

Living in an age of new exciting technologies where new cameras pop up every other week that shoot 12k images and are small enough to fit in your pocket, it’s easy to get caught up in feeling like you have to have the latest & greatest RED in order to shoot a good movie. The truth is though, that while having those pricey toys that make beautiful imagery is great, the story is what is most important. You can shoot the most beautiful film ever & if the story is crap your film is going to be beautiful crap. Find a story worth telling & then shoot it the beautifully with what you have. Story is always King!

Here’s the 3D video I created from the tutorial in my last blog post.

3D Workflown Tutorial

    In a recent blog post I talked about shooting a short in 3D and I thought today I’d share a little bit about my post workflow for that project.

     So my setup was basically two flip cameras gaff taped together plus a shotgun mic rubber banded to the bottom of my rails rig. It was definitely pretty ghetto and not even close to perfect, but I was surprised how well it actually worked. Since I was shooting on two cameras plus recording dual system sound, I ended up having to sync three clips for every shot. Once I had copied all the footage from my cameras and sound recorder to my computer I made sure that all my files were easy to match up by labeling the corresponding clips with their take number. I then started by syncing the two cameras as closely as I could (most shots were definitely off a by sub frames since record wasn’t pushed at the exact same moment) using their scratch audio tracks. Once the cameras were synced as best I could, I then synced the camera footage with the separately recorded audio files.

After each shot had been synced, I then edited the clips together and then copied the clips from my Premiere timeline and pasted them into a new After Effects comp. I could have dynamic linked the projects so that if I made any changes to my Premiere timeline it would automatically update in AE, but for this project I decided I wanted to have all the clips separated in case I needed to make adjustments to the individual clips. When you dynamic link the projects the Premiere file would come in as a nested composition…

     Next, inside AE I created a new solid that was the same size as my comp and placed that layer on top of my copied footage. Then I split the solid layer so that it matched the length of each of the edited clips. Then I applied the 3D Glasses effect to each of the split solid layers. By doing it this way I could easily make adjustments to each of the clips without using a lot of keyframes to set the convergence. I then set the convergence ( the point that you want your eyes to focus on where the red & blue meet) for each of the clips.

Once that was all finished I exported the comp from AE and imported it into Premiere. Since all the timing of the clips was the same I just laid it on a track above the original files and everything was still in sync.

     The last thing I did was create the graphics for the video. I wanted to make them 3D as well so here’s what I came up with to pull off the effect. In AE I created a composition with the graphics I was going to use and placed the graphic in 3D space. I then created two cameras that were offset from each other around 100px. My goal was to basically create a L eye camera and a R eye camera. I then duplicated the comp and in one comp turned the L eye camera off and in the other I turned the R eye camera off. Now I had two separate comps with slightly different views, one for each eye. I then dropped the solid into a new comp with the L & R eye comps and set the convergence and that was it. This may not have been the best process and it’s possible it could have been done more easily and efficiently, but this was just the one way I chose to accomplish the effect.

     This project definitely wasn’t on the level of James Cameron or anything but it was a fun test of using 3D techniques. I hope you find it helpful. I’ll post the final video soon so get your red/blue glasses ready and you can see how it all turned out.

3D Update…

So my homemade 3D rig ended up working better than I thought it would. Beings this was the first time I’ve ever attempted something like this, I definitely learned a few things along the way & I’ll share them with you soon. Stay tuned…

Tell Your Story-Even if it Means Shooting in 3D

Everyone knows that 3D is all the rage right now. It seems like everyone & their mom is wanting to shoot in 3D. Although I believe the extra dimension can have a drastic impact on a film, unfortunately that drastic impact isn’t always a positive one.

With that being said, I turned to the dark side today & tried my hand at shooting a simple short sermon intro in 3D. My rig didn’t consist of RED Epics configured with a beam splitter or anything, but was simply two Flip cameras setup side by side. As you can see I just used a simple rails rig, some gaff tape, a coffee stirrer, a “shotgun” mic, a couple rubber bands, and a Tascam digital audio recorder (I’m pretty sure Peter Jackson is gonna be jealous of this rig).

This hodge-podge rig that I threw together today did get me thinking. Just because you may not have millions of dollars to throw at your next video project, don’t let that stop you from telling your story. Be creative, think outside the box & have fun. I assure you if you do you’ll be surprised with what you come up with…

PS…I’m going to start the edit in the next day or so, so you’ll have to stay turned to find out how it turns out…

DIY Heavy Duty Dolly & Track 2.0

It’s been awhile since I posted last but I’ve been busy working on several different                   live productions and had a few days relaxing and recuperating afterwards. I even had the opportunity to direct a 53’ TV truck. Nice view, huh? Anyways, back to our topic. Once again all the materials used in the construction of this project was purchased at Home Depot with the exception of the skateboard wheels & bearings, which I purchased on eBay.

The platform was built out of 3/4” plywood, 2x2’s, and some leftover 2x4’s just for good measure. Since I lack the skill of a true carpenter who can build something rock solid out of almost nothing, I tend to compensate for that lack of skill by just adding more support. As a result this dolly is a bear to move when it’s not on its track. The platform dimensions are 48”L x 39”W. I originally attached only four 6” pieces of angle iron at the corners each with four 52mm skateboard wheels. In version 2.0 I added two more 12” sections of angle iron with an additional six 52mm skateboard wheels on each. I used 3/8” zinc plated hex bolts to attach both the angle iron and the skateboard wheels. I offset the skateboard wheels just a little so that they reduce the “bump” when going over the joints in the track. I also added four handles, two on the top and one on each end. Since this dolly platform is so stinkin’ heavy, I added a couple of wheels to the bottom side of the platform as well to help make moving it a little easier. Next, I added four eye hooks to the top of the platform so that I would have somewhere to secure the tripod to the platform via bungee cords. To finish the platform off, I added two threaded steel pipe flanges (I don’t know if that’s the right term or not) to either end of the platform so that I can screw in the T-bar I made out of 3/4” steel pipe for use in pushing or pulling the dolly down the track.

Now for the track design. For the track I used 1 1/2” schedule 40 PVC pipe in 10’ sections. I then slightly modified 1” threaded PVC fittings that I then glued to the inside of the 1 1/2” PVC pipe. Now to put the track together, all you’ve gotta do is screw the pipes together. This is probably the cheapest part of the dolly as it only costs about $6 or $7 for each section of 10’ PVC with fittings.

Hopefully, this helps any of you who are trying to build your own dolly & track. Oh, and one more thing, if you’d like to see some pictures & a sample video from this project click the link to my flikr…I gave up trying to format the blog post with them in it.

Questions or comments? Email me at matthew.kurth@greenlitmag.com

DIY Dolly

     Last year I made my own heavy duty dolly & track for just a couple hundred bucks. Over the last year I’ve been putting it through it’s paces and definitely found some flaws in my original design. I’ve been making mental notes about what I could do to make it even better and I’m currently working on implementing them in the next few days. Once I finish tweaking everything I’ll post a detailed how to guide for your perusal…stay tuned.