Hickenlooper, who passed away in
Denver just as he was to premiere
his new film, made the unforgettable
documentary “Hearts of Darkness.”
Oliver Peters at digitalfilms posts on the array of plug-ins availalbe for Final Cut users. There’s a whole cottage industry around coding filters Final Cut doesn’t have, and Oliver lays out the details on many of them, including Magic Bullet, Luca Visual Effects, CoreMelt Lock & Load, Digital Anarchy Beauty Box and others. He says,
Such filters enhance the power of your favorite editing or compositing tool by connecting through an API (application programming interface), like Avid AVX or Apple FxPlug. Not all APIs are equal. Some, like AVX, don’t permit custom user interfaces, which is why Colorista II or BorisFX’s new 3-way Color Grade are available for Final Cut and After Effects, but not Media Composer. This has been an active year for plug-in developers, in part, due to the need to become 64-bit-compatible with Adobe CS5.
Ted Hope has a post that lays out some elements of a break-out film. While one is the eternal question – content – the others are something that can be gotten with hard work. Hope’s list:
- Unique content and approach;
- High profile supporters & participants;
- Participants that are highly active and committed to social media;
- An already aggregated and identified participatory audience/community base; and
- A detailed media/marketing strategy that is built and initiated from the start of prep, through production, post, and festival periods, and then into release.
Yes, unique content and approach is something you can spend a lifetime trying to achieve, but 2 through 5 goes toward the shift away from the old film festival distributor sale.
We were visiting friends at a Manhattan-based production company that has spun out several high-profile documentary successes in the last couple of years, and they’re bemoaning the fact that they sold one of their films to a distribution company that has done absolutely nothing with the film other than sticking it in their catalog and waiting for people to chase them. The work that went into the film seems to have been made moot by that final strategic error.
More often that not, success means seeing through the post-release phase of your film – and hopefully enjoying it. As we profile many DIY filmmakers at this site, we’re seeing how much enjoyment and satisfaction they’re getting from taking the film out on the road themselves rather than turning it over for what could be an indifferent distributor. Filmmakers are not only coming around the idea that the filmmaking process doesn’t end with final cut, but rather leads to what should be a rather fun new phase.
Philip Johnston at HD Warrior posts about a report to him that Final Cut Pro 8, which would take better advantage of 64-bit Macs, has been pushed back to the Fall of 2011.
This is a major blow if it is true for all FCP users as 64bit has been further shunted into the autumn of 2011. If this story is true I for one will be switching to Adobe CS5 before the end of this year as I can no longer afford to wait for Apple to come up with the goods.
Premiere Pro has come a long way in the last few years and Adobe has been adding many future proof features like a plug in for 3D called Cineform neo 3D HD that allows you to edit 3D footage straight from the timeline and view it in 3D. Another feature is 7 streams of HD if you use the nVidia’s CUDA technology and achieve real-time playback for Quicktime dSLR, and AVCHD footage.
Apple’s backward thinking has made Blu-ray an almost impossible route for them to go down, while Adobe has embraced Blu-ray and made it a seamless part of Encore their DVD authoring program.
He finishes by saying, “I think the writing is on the wall for Apple unless they seriously re invent themselves.”
A piece from The Guardian on the future of documentaries has an intriguing line near the bottom, from Andy Glynne of Mosaic Films. In the piece, in which three experts spoke of what faces the documentary form, Glynne said,
Away from mass-market media, opportunities to view documentaries are growing as observational and entertainment documentaries push further into the mainstream.
While purist, non-narrative observational documentaries will command smaller audiences, it’s a niche that will no doubt continue.
We suspect “purist, non-narrative” documentaries constitutes what documentaries were before reality shows came along and changed the form. As documentaries become “mainstream,” they seem to look more like reality shows – even the best. “The Cove,” while an excellent film, uses conventions that come from everything from “The Apprentice” to “The Amazing Race.” “Catfish” apparently is “scripted reality.”
We wonder whether the cost of popularizing the documentary form involves giving younger viewers something that looks, feels and sounds like the reality TV they’ve grown up on….
National Geographic’s website has a series of shooting tips for DSLR users.
When the first true 24p camcorders began to come to market (with the JVC HD100 being among those that we grabbed for our work), the desire for that particular format was based on achieving the so-called “film look.” In theory, replicating the frame rate of “real” movies was something that a viewer could see, and feel. Given our years of working in “obvious” video, the notion of actually having a look that approached real film – which we could never previously afford – was a powerful incentive.
Now everybody can afford HD, and everybody can shoot 24p. Film festivals and a lot of theaters project digitally. Question is, does 24p still matter? Is it really any better than 29.97 or 60i?
As the standard of the future seems to be 60p, it begs the question. However, there might be some considerations worth thinking about, according to those who know.
Some believe it barely makes any difference at all – see the video at the bottom of this post for a good run through that.
First, if you’re trying for broadcast, most still want your film in 60i. When this site profiled Nancy Porter’s work on “Louisa May Alcott” for PBS, Porter noted the PBS standard was why she shot the film in 60i.
Since broadcast can now include not only PBS and cable channels, but also on-demand and local affiliates, 60i may be the better choice, right?
Second, there are studies that would suggest viewers really cannot distinguish between 24p and 60i.
But there are some good reasons to shoot in 24p.
If you buy into the 180-degree shutter rule, shooting in 24p allows a rate of 1/48, which allows you to shoot in lower light than the 1/125 shutter you’d use with 60i. And the motion blur of 24fps is still reminiscent of what we know in film.
Also, since 24p is only capturing about 40 percent of the frames, the theory holds that a bit rate of 35Mpbs in 24p is really like shooting 50Mbps in 60i. In other words, you’re spreading the bits you have over fewer frames.
But here’s also a perspective from a thread running at the Los Angeles Final Cut User Group, in which Jeff Harrell shares this perspective:
Since you guys are being all rational and sensible and crap, I’ll be the one to jump in with a purely emotional response.
Shoot 24p or 25p (depending on where you live) always, no exceptions.
Okay, it’s not purely emotional. There’s a grain of pragmatism in it. Let’s say you live in North America, and thus are a citizen of NTSCdonia. Your choices are 60i and 24p. (Please don’t be fooled into believing that 30psf is a valid choice; I’ve opined on that at length elsewhere and will not repeat myself here).
If you shoot 24p, it’s absolutely trivial to turn that into 60i, if you need to do so for compatibility. For example, if you end up needing to deliver a broadcast master to a television station, you can simply lay your project off to tape with 3:2 pulldown — which I believe all I/O boards will do in real time; at least the Kona boards will — and call it a day.
On the other hand, say you shoot 60i, but you end up needing to deliver a progressive-scanned master for (say) internet delivery, or theatrical presentation. You’re screwed. Seriously. You’re just plain screwed. You descend, like Dante, into a Boschian nightmare of frame-rate conversions and interpolation where your choices are to sacrifice huge amounts of time to computer processing or huge amounts of money to hardware standards conversion, and your project will never, ever look right. You get so depressed by the results that you sink into a malaise of lethargy and substance abuse, and end up homeless and forgotten, living in a cardboard box in an alley, panhandling by day holding a handwritten sign reading “Will shoot 24p for food” and fighting off the increasingly fearless rats under the overpass by night.
Bottom line: 24p is compatible while 60i is not. So the purely pragmatic conclusion is always to shoot 24p unless you have an excellent reason not to. Don’t overthink it; just go with what works.
If you subsist under the cruel oppression of the 50 Hz regime in PAListan, substitute 50i and 25p for 60i and 24p, as appropriate.
But no seriously, the other guys are right. It depends. There’s no one answer that’s right for everybody all the time. But what I just gave you is my answer, which is right for me and me alone, so take it for what it’s worth.
Jeff moderates many discussions on LAFCUG, and his observations make much sense.
Here’s the video:
Using an XDCam EX camcorder with Final Cut has involved the somewhat time-consuming task of file conversion during transfer. But Sony is announcing a $99 plug-in that promises to make this easier.
Sony’s website says “Product details coming soon,” but has a free 60-day trial dowload now.
The Cinemon mp4 Work Accelerator lists these features:
- Native Playback of XDCAM EX profiles in Apple Final Cut Pro
- Ability to playback XDCAM EX files directly from SxS cards
- Ability to playback XDCAM EX files in QuickTime (still requires FCP to be installed on machine)
- Drag and Drop or File Import of XDCAM EX files directly to Final Cut Pro
- Support for Quicklook viewing of XDCAM EX files in finder
- Render output for MOV using Final Cut Pro render engine
- MXF rendering using XDCAM Transfer tool
The Sony website also has a demo video.
The old saw that “any publicity is good publicity” seems to be the operant notion in a piece in The Guardian about documentary subject Rachel Johnson, who is the editor of a women’s magazine and whose new book recounts her experience as the subject of a documentary film.
For much of the year Johnson chronicles, production company Optomen is making its film, The Lady and the Revamp, for Channel 4. And, even allowing for the fact that we are getting stories only from one side of the camera, the book disturbingly confirms the frequent suspicions of viewers and critics about manipulation of material. Johnson calculates that 400 hours of filming accumulated for a screen-time of around 46 minutes. Her perception was that the aim was to bore the participants into forgetting they were being filmed, in the hope that they would say or do something unguarded.
Of course that technique is the basis of almost all documentaries. Not to manipulate, but to spend lots of time hoping to see the story unfold through a series of “moments of truth.”
As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Action is character,” and getting all that nonaction on film allows for something that alternately can be very true or very false. Yes, one could edit down do a completely false view of the subject; alternately, one could find the absolute truth – even when the subject doesn’t.
Since I’m quoting writers: “Now comes the pain of truth, to whom ’tis pain,” Keats said. Subjects are often taken aback not by a false portrait of themselves but of one that is absolutely, nakedly accurate. Another quote, from Whit Stillman’s wonderful film “Metropolitan”: “Why do I look so much better in mirrors than in pictures?” We trick ourselves into believing what we see in the mirror is accurate, until we see a picture of ourselves. The great Maysles film “Grey Gardens” may be a monument to that notion.
A documentary of this sort can be successful when the documentarian is trying to find truth, and not just create a reality show, and when the subject both has some accuracy of self-perception and a willingness to look more deeply at it.
In the Rachel Johnson case, it may be that it was simply a less-than-straightforward filmmaker taking advantage of a publicity-craving subject, but we’ll hope most have greater intentions.
The Guardian’s Mark Lawson says in the piece,
It may be that the Johnson family suffers an extreme mutation of the publicity gene, but it could also be taken as evidence of the general human difficulty in refusing invitations to appear on TV. And, even though the programme was edited to the disadvantage of the magazine, circulation rose and both publication and editor have enhanced their media profiles.
So getting a television hatchet in the head is apparently a good career move. Which, to the relief of network controllers, means there will always be a willing supply of victims.