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.

5 Essential iPhone Apps for Filmmakers

Nowadays, it’s no surprise that the iPhone for filmmakers is like a golf club for golfers. The advent of the iPhone, and consequently the App Store, has created a whole new world for us. Look at the App Store and see how many have created crucial apps to make our lives easier.

Here is a list of my top 5 essential Apps that I use most of the time during my scouting and shooting.

1. Sun Scout ($9.99)

The screenshots show how Sun Scout turns your phone in to the most powerful and natural interface possible: a magic lens. Point it at the sky to understand where the sun will be, and when.

Sun Scout

Sun Scout screenshot

2. DSLR Slate ($9.99)

DSLR Slate is the perfect companion for the DSLR Filmmaker. As a Universal App, DSLR Slate runs natively on iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Designed for all needs from student to hollywood, DSLR Slate will be just as useful as the traditional film slate, if not more. “Slating” shots has become standard practice on set and helps streamline shot logging and post production.

DSLR Slate

DSLR Slate screenshot

Continue reading

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.

Is Canon 5D Mrk III in the Making?

There have been numerous rumors surfacing recently about the possibility that Canon is working secretly on a new DSLR release later this year. Is it going to be the 3rd generation of the famous 5D or the 2nd generation of the cropped sensor 7D?

Whichever is going to turn out to be true, what we really care for are the new features that Canon will introduce to better meet filmmakers’ aspirations and needs. Some of the features that majority of filmmakers and DPs will anticipate:

  • Live histogram to better keep color tones locked in place
  • Audio meter
  • Clean signal out from the HDMI cable to record uncompressed footage
  • Better and improved compression codecs
  • Last but not least, 4K capability in HDSLRs
Is it the 5D III or 7D II?

This photo was taken by Stephen Oachs from Aperture Academy

 

SmallHD Offers 40% Discount on Edelkrone Rigs

Edelkrone via SmallHD

Edelkrone Via SmallHD

SmallHD has just announced 40% off all Edelkrone gear. Edelkrone is a leading German manufacturer of camera gear and accessories.

This offer is until supplies last.

Check the new prices here:

http://www.smallhd.com/Products/edelkrone/index.html

Here is the official email that was sent to SmallHD customers:

” With special permission from Edelkrone, SmallHD is now offering these award winning rigs at wholesale prices.

All Edelkrone products are now 40% OFF… while supplies last.

The popular Pocket Rig is now only $329!

We have limited stock, so act quickly! We may never offer these rigs at this price again.

SmallHD customers that paid a higher price for the Edelkrone rigs will receive a refund for the difference. It’s only fair.

BONUS: All rigs ship FREE to US and Canada.”

Hands-on Review of Nikon D4

A lot of filmmakers have recently rejoiced the news of Nikon’s new high-end line DSLR that was introduced late last December. The D4 promises to deliver what we all hoped for since the introduction of DSLRs years ago; this new camera delivers 1920p pictures with full frame sensor that it can also crop in video mode to 1.5x and 2.7x.

The D4 can show live histogram and audio meters, brilliant features that DSLR filmmakers have dreamt of for years.

Here is a hands-on review of the camera that first appeared on HDSLRnewsshooter.

7 Tips for HD Color Correction

This is one of the topics that took me 4 years to master. Color Correction & Grading is one of the most crucial elements of any post production. It can either kill the efforts of endless hours the DP and crew spent or dramatically boost final output pictures.

Editor, Vashi Nedomansky, writes about his tremendous experience in CC on the famous Shane HurlbutVisuals blog.

The best part is when Vashi lists the proper order of operations to maintain best picture quality. I strongly recommend you take the time to thoroughly go through the article and digest the helpful tips Vashi laid out.

To read the full article, go to 7 Tips for HD Color Correction and DSLR Color Correction

4K Revolution Happening Behind the Scenes

When will the time arrive to think of 1920p as an outdated old style? Probably soon. After JVC launched its prosumer level 4K camera this month at Consumer Electronics Show 2012, I think other competitors are mulling the entry very soon.

Here is an article, first appeared on (http://www.luminous-landscape.com), that briefly touches on the “Future of 4K.”

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/4k_future.shtml