Pushing the Limits in Act of Valor

Being a filmmaker gives out a lot about your personality. As a filmmaker, taking risks is an embedded part of my daily routine. But will I consent to work in a movie with Navy SEALs using live ammo?

Act of Valor tells the story of a heroic combat operation done by the élite and highly trained Navy SEALs as they embark on a mission to rescue an abducted CIA officer. What makes this movie unlike any other is the fact that live ammunition was used throughout the scenes. All Navy characters are portrayed by active duty SEALs members.

The use of live ammo may sound like an insane idea but it really isn’t. The beauty of filmmaking rests on the originality and creativity of ideas, concepts, and techniques. The movie is set to début Feb 24 in theaters. But for those who are eager to be a head of the pack, there will be below the line special screening at ArcLight theatre in Hollywood ( 6360 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028) at 6:30 pm Feb 2.

Looking forward to seeing it.

Act of Valor official website.


First Unboxing of Canon C300

This is the first unboxing video of Canon’s new EOS C300 cinema camcorder. It surfaced yesterday on Youtube.

Canon EOS C300 was announced late last year in a Hollywood event. Canon has crammed this camera with many features filmmakers have opted for since the introduction of the popular DSLR models:

  • Super 35mm-Size CMOS Sensor
  • EF Lens Mount for Broad Compatibility
  • Canon XF Codec – 4:2:2 50 Mb/s MPEG-2
  • 1920 x 1080
  • Rotating 4″, 1.23 Mp LCD Monitor
  • HD-SDI Output, XLR Inputs
  • Dual CF Card Slots
  • Timecode I/O, Genlock In & Sync Out
  • Canon Log Gamma
  • Modular Design: Removable Grip & Monitor

It will start shipping after Mon, January 30 in the United States. It retails at ($15,999), excluding taxes.

Check B&H for further details.

Check Canon C300 Brochure

Will NAB ’12 Commence Large-Scale 4K Adoption?

I’ve read scores of reviews about what to expect from this year’s NAB show in Las Vegas (April 16-19, 2012). And almost everyone is predicting a preliminary industry shift from HD to 2K & 4K videos. This week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office revealed that Canon applied for RAW 4K patent almost a year and a half ago. I think this indicator makes us strongly believe that Canon, as well as a slew of other competitors. will be debuting a new line of 2K & 4K cameras this year.

But the question that pops to mind: How affordable will these cameras be to the average filmmaker? [Red has introduced, a couple of months ago, Scarlet-X that retails at about $12,000 (brain only)].

Here is a brilliant and effective video from Dave Dugdale meeting up with James Drake who is the co-owner of 5kInsight.com, a camera rental house specializing in Red cameras in Denver, CO. In about 15 min, James takes you over the essential buttons and features of Red Epic and readies you to get up and running with the Epic quickly.

Is the Era of Renting a Chopper for Aerial Shots Gone for Good?

I still remember the day when we had to shoot some aerial footage of Cairo. The producer had just paid the Army $10,000 to rent a chopper to do the shots. We headed to a military base on the outskirts of Cairo. The moment we arrived, we were shocked because the helicopter we agreed on had been replaced with another tiny one that can barely accommodate 3-crew members besides the captain.

We had to take the shots no matter what on that day, due to client deadline. The moment the blades swiveled and we were air-borne I knew that the shots would be terribly shaky. At the end, the footage was total mess and the visual effects editor struggled to stabilize it in the post.

Now, all it takes is around $10,000 and you own a CineStar, a remotely controlled copter that can hold your DSLR or even Red Epic or Scarlet. The company that manufacturers these copers is called Quadrocopter, based in Montana, and it has several models that start at $6000.

Here is some aerial footage shot by Tabb Firchau using CineStar8. (Tabb is the owner of FreeFly Cinema).

CineStar 3 Axis Gimbal from tabb firchau on Vimeo.