Serious YouTube material

Sometimes you just have to do something ridiculous.

I could tell you that this is a spec video or a proof-of-concept of some kind (which it kind of is, but who cares), but it’s really just me being a doofus. I think my favorite part is the dog watching me the whole time.

Back in FoCo (that abbreviation makes me feel dirty and amoral)

I AM BACK IN COLORADO FOR THE REST OF NOVEMBER. IF YOU ARE IN COLORADO TOO, YOU SHOULD GIVE ME A CALL AND RESCUE ME FROM THE PAPER I WILL INEVITABLY BE WRITING. HERE IS A STORY I WROTE ABOUT EATING A SANDWICH IN AN AIRPORT:

The Subway six-inch honey mustard ham and cheese breakfast omelet sandwich I bought in concourse F of the Lindbergh Terminal of the Minneapolis/St. Paul International airport this morning smelled like cigarette ash. I decided to eat it anyway. I’m not one to complain, and a sandwich that smelled like cigarette ash–but nonetheless contained egg, ham, cheese, and three varieties of fresh vegetable–was a marked improvement over my normal breakfast: half a toasted blueberry bagel spread with a thin layer of self-hate. Virtually any other food makes for a better breakfast than a bagel. A bagel just sits there and judges you.

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Project WINGSPAN is under wraps.

You may (or may not) want to look here.

Press! Press! Press!

The Rocky Mountain Collegian just published a fantastic article on 16 Heads and Counting called “Bathed in bloodied success,” which is probably the most badass phrase that I have ever been associated with.

You can read the article here.

16 Heads is undergoing revision for entry in the festival circuit. Screener copies can be requested by e-mailing info@16heads.com. And when I’m back in Colorado over Thanksgiving, I’ll finally get around to handing out DVD copies to cast and crew. *Tsk* It sure took me long enough.

Yes, yes, I GET it. IT'S BIG.

Earlier this month, I had a chance to work extensively with a RED ONE digital cinema camera. It’s a joy to handle. It’s like a really expensive erector set. It shoots gorgeous footage. The firmware isn’t perfect and its long and somewhat unreliable startup process can be… troubling, when working in a high-pressure situation, but it’s the nicest footage I’ve ever gotten from a non-film source, and if it weren’t for the RED ONE’s lack of an optical viewfinder, I would never have given it back to the rental house.

Yesterday, RED announced their product lineup for the next two years, based around two different models: Scarlet and EPIC, built on an extensible array of components and accessories. Some of the announcements are blindingly brilliant—bodies with interchangeable lens mounts so you can go from using a Nikon lens to a PL lens without needing to re-collimate your camera body, for instance, are an idea whose time has come.

Let me talk now about something that I don’t understand: among the various sensor sizes that RED announced was a Technorama-sized sensor—186mm wide, three times the width of an IMAX frame, with native output of 28K. That means each frame is twenty-eight thousand pixels wide. To contextualize that number, the RED ONE shoots 4K native, which is the same resolution at which 35mm film is scanned for digital intermediate purposes. The IMAX footage in The Dark Knight was scanned at 8K—still less than a third the width of a 28K frame. For a better perspective, here’s a snip from Dorkman’s Blog on the announcement:

“If that’s still too abstract, lay a 14-story office building on its side in your mind. That’s roughly the fucking native resolution of 28K.” [Link]

28K Redcode eats up an astounding 500 megabytes per second of footage, and the 28K body, projected for spring 2010, will cost $55,000, which is a real steal if you need to buy a digital cinema camera capable of projecting on the moon and eating up hard drives faster than you can buy them. Then there’s the lenses, which will have to be enormous, like large format still photo lenses but faster.

Here’s what I don’t understand: why would anyone ever use this thing? What venue could you possibly be delivering for that requires such outlandish data rates? There are few projectors in the world capable of screening digital material even at 4K, and printing to 35mm at higher than 4K is pointless anyway. The other problem is focus. As the sensor area increases, the depth-of-field decreases, making focus more finicky. There’s a reason that large-format still cameras have those complicated bellows systems on the front: focusing on anything at that scale is very, very difficult. Imagine how hard it would be with a moving image. And how in the name of Pete do you check critical focus in a frame that size on even a 1080p preview monitor?

I can understand how having a 28K camera lets RED come in first place in the technological pissing contest with Phantom and Panavision and Arri, but is there really a need for more than, say, five of these cameras to exist in the entire world?

For more commentary on yesterday’s announcements, ProLost is where you want to be.

Drunken Designers (or, How I Learned to Stop Caring and Screw Theatre), Part 1

Warning: This article is VERY LONG and contains a lot of personal information. If it doesn’t interest you, please don’t complain – just move on.

After much debating with myself, I decided to begin posting this three part series about my life in theatre. I hemmed and hawed (and howed and hummed) about the editing process of this first one, because I felt a little worried about the value of its content. I finally decided that it would be difficult to take anything away without eliminating what I felt were vital elements to this story. If I were writing this for a magazine or something, you’re damn right I’d trim it down, but I’m not, so I didn’t. Constructive criticism in this vein will be tolerated, but only barely, since the style and construction of this series is not the point. So, without further blabbering, here goes:

I began my brief career in theatre during sophomore year of high school. I ended it after graduating with an Associates of Arts in Theatre Technology from Casper College (Casper, Wyoming). I am currently a junior Adventure Education student at Fort Lewis College (Durango, Colorado).

I wake up smiling.

I never skip class.

I have a 4.0 GPA.

I sleep at night.

And it has been almost a year since I last was drunk on the job.

This is my story, in three handy parts.

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Words to live by

Stu Maschwitz of the ProLost blog recently posted a list of things to bear in mind when making a movie: [Link]

  • It’s better for a film to have good audio than shallow depth of field.
  • It’s better to have control over your camera than to shoot in HD.
  • It’s better to have good lighting than raw 4K.
  • It’s better to put time into color correction than visual effects.
  • It’s not HD if it’s not in focus.
  • There’s no such thing as a rough cut with no sound.
  • Your story is told using the images you create, not the ones you intended to create.
  • You’re not done editing until you’ve watched your film with an audience of people who don’t care about your feelings.
  • Your film is still too long.
  • Your next film will be better. How’s it coming?

I couldn’t agree more, especially with the last two. Here are a couple I’d add:

  • Story is more important than production value.
  • Handheld camera is sometimes OK.
  • Shooting coverage makes you lazy—avoid it when you can.
  • If you don’t understand it, don’t shoot it.
  • A good idea doesn’t necessarily make a good film.
  • If you don’t love your movie, nobody else will.

Thus have I spoken.

Out the Window: Hello World!

I just got my transfers back from Cinelicious today, and man are they ever gorgeous! Take a look at these two shots:


Out the Window: Hello World from Andrew Gingerich on Vimeo.

Of course, now I have to sync all this stuff, which is kind of a problem because we decided not to slate in order to save film. Kinda stupid, but we probably saved about 20 feet of stock. Anyway, it makes it a bit of an ordeal to get all the sound in sync with the picture. *WEEKEND PROJECT #1*

Third Party '08

Here it is on Vimeo (click the “HD” button to watch in 720p):


Third Party ’08 from Andrew Gingerich on Vimeo.

Or if you prefer, click here for a direct-link QuickTime.

Peace,
Andrew

Election night: all's well that ends RED

BARACK OBAMA IS YOUR NEW PRESIDENT.

One thing I’ve learned about the RED is that its files are enormous, and debayering the RAW footage takes all kinds of forever to do. That being said:

THIRD PARTY ’08: THE TRUE STORY OF THE PRESIDENT OF KANSAS

or

STROBE JENSEN: A MAN OF GREAT PRINCIPLE

or

HOPE, SUCCESS AND RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FUTURE

or

HONEY, I THREW THE ELECTION

…is picture LOCKED, and first-lighted, and the online conform and sound mix are in progress as we speak. Because of the processor-intensive debayering, I am forecasting a 4:30 AM CST premiere of the thing.

In the meantime, here’s a little bit about the film:

Third Party ’08 stars the incomparable Jim Westcott as third-party presidential candidate Roger Deerborn, the incompressible Jesse Griffith as Deerborn’s chief strategist, and the incomprehensible Landyn Banx as Strobe Jensen—a man of great conscience, and Deerborn’s unpredictable running mate. Also featured are Anne Westcott as Deerborn’s idealistic daughter, Melissa Hoppe as an inexperienced public radio reporter, and Heather Amos as Deerborn’s politely misanthropic press secretary. The film follows the characters through election night 2008 as their margin drops from 0% to 0.0% to 0.00%.

It was written by myself and Matt Kane. I directed. Matt did the cinematography. We were the only crew members.

The film was shot at 3K resolution on the RED ONE digital cinema camera, with a set of very nice Zeiss prime lenses. We did not pay for the camera. Our production budget for the entire film was approximately $25.

Stay tuned to this channel, folks. It won’t be long now.

UPDATE: It’s late and I’m going to bed. Movie is compressing now and will be posted in the morning.

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