COMICPALOOZA

The following is a compilation of some video from Comicpalooza, a multi-format convention celebrating not just comics, but also sci-fi and fantasy, horror, steam punk, New Media, movies, film, electronic music and gaming of all types. I shot it with my 7D and edited it with Adobe Premiere CS5. The effects are from Magic Bullet.

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DAY 2: Vincent Laforet/CreativeLIVE HDSLR Workshop

In case you’ve missed out on one of the greatest opportunities for those endeavoring to make films with the HDSLR.  Did I mention this webcast that goes on for 3 days is totally FREE???  There are so many people trying to capitalize on every aspect of the HDSLR revolution which in my opinion is in conflict with the spirit of it, Vincent La Foret once again, expels the money changers from the temple and puts filmmaking back in the hands of the people. Just tune in at http://creativelive.com/live/ today and Sunday to catch the last two days of the webinar — again FOR FREE!!!

Last night I tuned in just to see what’s on, because even during the breaks they’ve left one of the cameras streaming, and they were replaying Friday’s webinar.  Average number of viewers online has been averaging 2000+.  Also, you can particapate with questions on twitter by typing #creativelive Again, much respect for Vincent Laforet for giving back to the film community by making his knowledge and experience available to everyone who seeks it.  Just as a disclaimer, they are charging for a copy of this webinar that will be available for download next week for about $80.  However, it’s clear to see that the amount of work it took to produce this, they will barely recoup there cost.  Way to give back gentlemen!  Here’s Saturday and Sunday’s schedule.

DAY TWO:  Saturday May 1st. PART I:  Introduction to Cinema Language and Concepts.   9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. We’ll make sure you know what panning vs tilting is and what a locked off shot it.   CU / ECU / Medium Shot / Establishing shot will become part of your vocabulary – as well as a lateral move, a push or a pull.  We’ll define what a hyperfocal is to you and how to use  is to tackle focusing challenges.   We’ll ask the important question of:  how shallow is too shallow in terms of depth of field – especially when it comes to working with actors.    We’ll get into lens choice and discuss compression and distortion. PART II:  Cinema lighting and camera support.  11 a.m. – 1 p.m. We will not be going into complex lighting on this one – in fact lighting is one of the areas we will be spending the least amount of time on during this workshop given the complexity of the concepts involved and time / gear constraints. We’ll discuss how to use a variety camera support tools – at various price points.   Students will get hands on time with the gear and discuss HOW and WHY it is used (and to what EFFECT.)  We’ll start off by looking into a wide variety of handheld rigs and tools.  We’ll also look at a variety of sliders, dollies, JIB, Pan/Tilt Heads and time lapse tools.  We’ll then discuss wireless focus solutions, wireless video transmitters, and video conversion solutions. We’ll be discussing gear from:  Redrock Micro, Zacuto, Arri, Broncolor, GlideTrack, O’Connor, Cinevate, Kessler Cranes, MicroDolly Hollywood, and Porta Jib, Lite Panels, Black Magic, IDX, and Viewfactor amongst others. BREAK – LUNCH FROM 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. PART III:  The Makeup of a Film Crew  – 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. We’ll quickly discuss the business of film and also make sure you know what a director’s responsibilities are – as well as what a 1st AC does vs a gaffer or script supervisor.  We’ll also discuss what a treatment is and when film permits are needed and/or clearances. PART IV: First Shoot  – 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. The students will gather to shoot their first min-documentary.    They will shoot a sit down interview as well as some B-Roll and learn how to mix an interview with B-Roll footage effectively. PART V BONUS – Live Video Editing Session  – 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. DAY THREE:

Sunday May 2nd PART I:  NARRATIVE SHOOT – Pre Pro  – 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Students will get back together and work on the pre-production of a short narrative piece that they will shoot in the next section.   We’ll discuss storyboarding, managing a shot list and equipment list – and the concept of shooting a scene / piece in a non-linear manner to save time (and expense.) PART II:  NARRATIVE SHOOT –  11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Students will break up into various roles and shoot a short narrative piece together – utilizing the tools and techniques discussed over the prior two days.  This will give us a chance to see everything come together – and also to pick up on some very common mistakes that first time filmmakers make. BREAK – Lunch 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. PART III:  WORKFLOW –  2 p.m.  – 4 p.m. We’ll discuss converting footage and a variety of editing tools for both Mac and PC.   We’ll cover Final Cut Studio, Compressor, Adobe CS5 (we’re still working on this detail given how new the software is) , MPEG Streamclip, and Plural Eyes.  We’ll also discuss backup strategies, from the Canon/Apple FCP Log and Transfer plugin, to Servers, LTO Tape and Drobo. PART IV:  FINISHING   4 p.m. – 6 p.m. We’ll also get a basic introduction to editing – and bring together the pieces we shot together earlier in the day.  Students will get an introduction to editing by qualified FCP and CS5 instructors (see above- we’re trying to get CS5 in…) The class will culminate with a discussion on how to grade the footage in Apple’s

Color software.  And we’ll discuss how to deliver the final media to a variety of devices – from iPhones, AppleTV, streaming web movies, all the way to BluRay.

Live Interview from NAB 2010 with Dave Basulto of Filmmaking Central and Post Magazine

Special thanks to Dave Basulto, Filmmaking Central and POST Magazine for allowing us to be a part of their live stream from NAB 2010.

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Mitch from Planet 5D Interviews Clint Milby

Special thanks to Mitch from Planet 5D for swinging by the ikan booth and taking a look at the new camera support system, the ikan ELEMENTS.

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AEtuts+ Interviews Clint Milby Director of Marketing for ikan

Special thanks to Topher Welsh of http://toe-fur.com/ for paying me a visit at the ikan booth at NAB 2010.

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TRAINS, CAMERAS AND THE CONSTITUTION

It was Labor Day in 2009 when I became aware of just how bad things have gotten in the US.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’ve been naïve.  I’ve been a student of free speech and the political landscape of the US since high school, but Labor Day was the first time I have come into contact with a violation of my civil rights in a very real way.

Our office had a loaner 5D Mark II, and I took it for the weekend for a test drive.  I’ve had a fascination with the Houston light rail since they started laying track, and shooting it with the 5D seemed like the thing to do.  So my friend and I were standing on the platform when an angry homeless guy came up to us and starts harassing us for change.  I look to my right, and there was a Metro Police Car.  I waved at him hoping he would keep this guy moving who was now becoming belligerent.  I’m usually not so nervous in these situations, however, I did have $3500.00 worth of camera  strapped around my neck.  The cop yelled out something:  ”NO PICTURES OF THE TRAIN!”

Could he actually be serious?  After several calls to the Houston Metro Police Department, I come to find he was.  However, it seems there is no law on the books prohibiting photography of a train.  Nevertheless, Homeland Security has endowed local police departments nationwide with violating the first amendment rights of would be train photographers by harassing them and/or detaining them.

When I hung up the phone, I knew for the first time, I wasn’t dealing with some rogue cop or an over zealous police captain, I was dealing with the New American Police State.  The kind of police state they warned us about in speeches on Veteran’s Day when I was in elementary school.

It turns out, my experience isn’t unique in any fashion, except I might have gotten off easy.  Last February in New York,  Robert S. Taylor of Brooklyn was taking photos for fun in a subway station. Police saw him and cited him for unauthorized photography, even though the crime doesn’t actually exist.  Taylor states that charge was dropped, however, they also charged him disorderly conduct.  Ironically, Taylor works for MTA.  He was off duty at the time. More recently, on the other side of the country in California, Andrew Cichowski was taking pictures of the Diridon train station in San José.

I was taking a picture of the barbed wire fence, I heard someone shout “TURN AROUND SLOWLY!” I said “excuse me?” confusedly, and then slowly turned around. To my surprise, two police officers were staring at me. They asked what I was “suspiciously photographing industrial stuff for…” After about 30 minutes, they realized I wasn’t some sort of strange train terrorist, but were still asking me questions. A third officer and third and fourth squad car then arrived. Eventually, they copied the entire contents of my CF card to their police laptop and two flash drives, I told them they could have a copy of the photos as long as they didn’t sell any of them. They smiled and promised not to.  Aside from this being a terribly obnoxious waste of time, it was an interesting experience, and I’m now very likely on some sort of terrorist watch list for being a suspicious photographer…

Just today, someone posted the image at the top of this article which is a sign on a train in Chicago.  It asks citizens to call 911 if they see any suspicious behavior, and it explicitly lists photography and video as one of those suspicious activities.  So where does this leave free citizens who wish to maintain their Constitutional rights?  It leaves us with the burden of asserting ourselves I’m afraid.

Sometimes, the only way to keep a right is by exercising that right.  Therefore, take pictures whenever possible of everything possible, especially of trains, planes and buses.  We must report any police officers, security guards or other so-called officials who attempt to infringe upon our rights to their superiors and watch dog groups such as the ACLU.  Become locally active in photography groups in your area and most importantly, talk about these issues.  Post your experiences online using blogs and social media.  Above all, write your mayor, congressman and senators and tell them if they are incapable of stopping these attacks on our civil rights, we will elect someone who will.

The bottom line, there is now a real threat to the rights of free citizens everywhere, and no one is going to rescue you.  If you want to enjoy the freedom to use your camera when and where you want, you’re going to have to fight.  It’s up to you.

Other sites to check out:
http://tinyurl.com/nopicsinca

http://tinyurl.com/nopicsinny

http://carlosmiller.com/

http://www.nycphotorights.com/

http://tinyurl.com/nopicsintx

TOP CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR THE VIDEO PROFESSIONAL OR ENTHUSIAST

Shopping for someone who shoots video or stills either professionally or on the side, is a daunting task.  Buying camera gear for someone is a bit like shopping for a teenage girl.  The type of gift is as important as the name brand.  Get the wrong thing or the wrong name and you can expect an instant request for a receipt.  Most gift givers concede defeat almost immediately and go for a gift card from Best Buy or Walmart.

However, if you want to do something more personal this year or impress that special someone with a gift that will say, “I care about what you do and want to support you”, then this gift guide will help you make the right choice.

Storage

No matter what they shoot, everyone needs storage, and too much is never enough.  All you need to know is what kind of camera they use.  This is easy to find out, because most shooters LOVE nothing more than talk about their camera.  Trust me when I say you don’t have to worry about arousing suspicion as much as you do about being trapped while they go on and on for hours about why their’s is so much better than everyone else’s.

  • SD Card: For those using Canon and Panasonic video cameras, SD Card 16g: no less than Class 6 $44.
  • Compact Flash Card: For those using Canon DSLRs (5D Mark II or 7D) you’ll need a compact Flash Card.  You can a 16GB card anywhere from $33 to $100.
  • Sony Pro Duo: These memory cards are sold in various sizes:  2GB to 32GB and are essential for those using Sony prosumer cameras.    They range in price from $10 to $100.
  • Memory Card Reader: These devices read all of the afore mentioned memory cards and plug into the PC or Mac via USB connection.  The range in price from $12 to $30.
  • Patriot Flash Drives: Boasting a 200X transfer rate, these little drives are great for video or boosting your memory performance when editing.  They  range in price from $11 to $50.
  • Western Digital My Book Essential: These portable hard drives are awesome.  They’re built for video and easy to take with you wherever.  They range in size from 500 GB to 2 TB with prices ranging from $50 to $200.

Gadgets

  • ikan Cheese Stick Jr: The Cheese Stick Jr. is a simple metal block that contain all of the standard production industry threads (1/4-20, 3/8-16, and M4-.7) which makes your production set-ups easier.  They retail for $50.
  • The Leatherman Multitool: This all in one gadget replaces an entire tool box and is a must have for any shooter.  They range in price from $30 to several hundred depending on the model.
  • The Zgrip iPhone Jr: This  device allows you to mount your iphone on a handle providing more stability for shooting video with an iphone.  $69.
  • White Balance/Grey Cards: These cards are available from a myriad of different companies.  Essentially, they establish a standard for setting white balance to ensure you’re color balance is accurate.  They range in price from $5 to $30.

Bags and Case

If they complain about their current bag, you might inquire as to what they would ideally like.  Key fishing questions include hard or soft case and backpack or sling.  You’ll need to know what and how many things they want to fit into the bag or case.  Standard brands are Kata, Pelican, Porta Brace, Petrol Tamrack and Lowepro.  These range in price from $20 to several hundred depending on size and manufacturer.

Prepaid Premium Memberships

  • Netflix: Even if they already have a Netflix account, they can apply your gift card to their existing account.  Plans vary from $13 to $40 depending on how many videos you get at a time.
  • Smug Mug Premium Membership(you should be a member of smugmug to make this happen).    Smug The web address for http://www.smugmug.com/photo-sharing/gift-subscriptions
  • Vimeo Premium Membership: Vimeo was created by filmmakers and video creators who wanted to share their creative work.  To purchase a premium account for someone, yYou need to be signed in to your own Vimeo account, which you can create for free. Then, you simply go to that person’s profile page and you will see a “Gift Plus” button that, when clicked, will guide you through the rest of the process.
  • Filmschool On Demand Prepaid Tuition: Filmschool On Demand provides filmmakers with an education in the filmmaking process and business side. Their classes are taught by industry veterans with years of experience in production, development, distributions and marketing.  If you know someone who has always wanted to make a film, but they were baffled by the business side of the business, then a paid tuition for Filmschool On Demand will be a priceless gift.  Right now you can get a coupon for 40% off FSOD. When placing your order, use the code: ikan.

Magazine Subscriptions

Although print media isn’t as relevent as it was ten years ago, trade magazines are still a great way to stay up to date with industry.  Subscriptions to ICG, American Cinematographer, POST, HD Video Pro or Digital Photo Pro, The Hollywood Reporter or The Daily Variety will all be a most welcomed gift.

iPhone Apps

Is there anything the iPhone can’t do..?  If you’re not aware, there have been production applications available for the iphone for well over a year.   You can find them all at itunes.  Here are just some of the proffesional applications to choose from.

  • Pro Prompter Software: For iPhone or iPod touch Price $9.99
  • The Cinemek Hitchcock: For iPhone and iPod Touch:  $19.99is a mobile storyboard and pre-visualization composer designed for Directors, DPs or anyone who wants to visualize their story.
  • LlamaSlate: This wonderful app gives a clap or beep to mark the beginning or end of a take.  I can also input the quality of each take and then go back in the edit and check what I thought at the time.
  • Screenplay: is a $2.99 app for the iPhone, and has all the basic functionality of Final Draft: It offers formatting, scene elements, auto-complete character names, pagination and scene re-ordering.
  • f/8 DoF Calculator: f/8 comes with presets for more than 800 camera models from Canon, Casio, Epson, Fujifilm, HP, Kodak, Konica, Kyocera, Leica, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Ricoh, Samsung, Sigma, and Sony.

Training Videos

Training videos are great gifts provided you choose a subject in the person’s area of interest.  Also, don’t make the mistake of buying someone a video for beginners if they are an expert and vice versa.  Here are some great training DVDs.  Google search the titles for information on where to buy.

  • Learn Canon 5D Mark II Cinematography by Philip Bloom.  If you shoot video then you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity to learn from one of the pioneers of D-SLR cinematography.
  • Learn 2 shoot Great Video On Your Canon 7D by Philip Bloom.  This DVD takes you through all aspects of shooting video with the Canon 7D in video mode.
  • First Light Video Introduction to Editing with Final Cut Pro Training DVD. This DVD is designed to teach editors how to work in Apple’s Final Cut Pro editing suite. The training outlines the basics of editing.

Gift Certificates

If you’re still at a loss, you can get a gift card from a store that specializes in camera gear.

  • B&H Video Gift Cards range from $30 to $200.
  • Filmtools gift certificates range in price from $20 to 1000.
  • Adorama sells gift certificates for however much you want.  Some include free shipping.