Painting Around The Edges…


I am not an expert.

Sadly, after nearly 20 years of an ebb and flow interest in filmmaking, I am still a novice.   I wasn’t raised with access to a Super 8 camera.  I don’t live in Hollywood or New York or Austin.  I have yet to shoot a narrative film.  But I’ve painted around the edges.

Oh, I put my toes in the water years ago, just as linear editing was in its final death throes.  I bought a Hi-8 camcorder (two, in fact), a Super VHS deck with a jog/shuttle wheel, a video mixer and title generator from Videonics and a whole lot of patch cables in order to interconnect everything with my 4-channel Radio Shack mixer.  I shot some wedding videos, an elaborate and unfinished corporate video and a lot of “home movies” on that gear.

But being a one man band was messy, difficult and expensive.  I ran out of money quickly and wasn’t making it fast enough to keep up.  Soon, DV hit the market with its higher resolution and 16X9 aspect ratio.  I got married.  I stopped shooting. Continue reading

I Can See Clearly Now


I’m speechless.  The true “no excuses” camera draws ever nearer.

John Brawley:

The BMCC sensor is a near super 35 size, and they had to source from a different sensor family, but the early tests I’ve done are very promising with regards to maintaining the same BMCC look. The engineers are working very hard to maintain the great colour science and BMD “look” they’ve established with the BMCC. Because of the different sensor technology, and because they’ve implemented a global shutter, there will be less dynamic range than BMCC and the pocket cinema camera…

Because of the global shutter and different sensor technology, the 4K one doesn’t quite have the same DR, but it’s still going to be very good and certainly better than most of the dSLR’s from what I can see. It’s still early days and right now they’re trying to squeeze as much DR as they can, but the global shutter mode and slightly different sensor technology means it won’t match the BMCC. I’ve shot some early engineering tests and it actually already looks very good. When you directly compare it for DR, you see the difference, but by itself, the images are still great.

EOSHD has the low-down here:

Stu Maschwitz here:


Photography 101


I stumbled across this crash course in photography from an unlikely source – an arts and crafts blog!  Presented in PDF format, there are 12 lessons in all ranging from understanding aperture, shutter speed, and color temperature to basic composition and portrait technique.  A good, simple to understand instructional.

Download the PDFs here:

Is Your Meter Running?


I’ve tried to cover this before here, but nobody does it quite like Shane.

One of the most important aspects of using the light meter is documenting the results!  You always hear about actors on big productions complaining about the long hours they spend in their trailers waiting for the crew to get the ligthting right, and this documentation certainly adds to the wait.

But, at the end of the day, great lighting is a big part of the reason those same actors look like stars on the big screen.  And, as a director or DP, you obviously want to produce the best looking frames possible.  With repeatability.  Don’t skimp on this important aspect of lighting!  This is one place where the “Need for Speed” does not apply. Continue reading

The Wizard of If

Widely identified with the acting techniques of Lee Strasberg’s American Method, which favors psychological techniques exclusively,  Constantin Stanislavski actually espoused a psychophysical approach to acting.  Stanislavski believed in exploring character and action both from the ‘inside out’ and the ‘outside in’.

His goal was to find a universally applicable approach that could be of service to all actors. His ‘method’ was a systematic approach to training actors, including concentration, voice, physicality, observation, and dramatic analysis. But central to his method was the concept of emotion memory – calling on the truthful emotions experienced in life to create believable action on stage.

The key to teasing out these emotions is the mastery of ‘IF’.  Conjuring ‘IF’ triggers both emotional and physical reactions that are true responses to stimuli, as opposed to choreographed pantomime.

Interestingly, this powerful technique is not limited to acting.  ‘IF’ also drives storytelling, both as an exercise in developing the imagination and in forcing turns in action that usually take a story to new, more interesting levels. Continue reading

Suicide in Three Acts

The notion of three-part plot structure in screenwriting dates back to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, circa 335 BC.  In his Poetics he states, “A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end”.   The fourth-century Roman grammarian Aelius Donatus would later solidify the notion, naming the individual parts the protasis, epitasis, and catastrophe.  2,300 years later, this dramatic arc is still passed down as gospel by instructors, critics and for-profit scriptwriting gurus.  American movies are the most financially successful movies by far, they reason, and most American movies follow this ancient notion of structure.  So, if you are interested in selling a script, you had better not break with convention.

But a closer look at history reveals a break with convention as early as the Roman drama critic Horace, who in 18 BC advocated a 5-act structure in his Ars Poetica.  This notion would be championed by Renaissance dramatists, then again in 1863 by German playwright Gustav Freytag in his Die Technik des Dramas. Continue reading