Blog, business, graphic design, Pasadena and local, post production for film and video, sound

The movie we’re shooting


Not That Funny is a movie that is shooting currently in Sierra Madre, CA. I am an associate producer on the show. What does that mean? Well, it can mean anything, but for me, what it has meant so far is

  • recording production sound for a week before our wonderful sound guy came on board
  • renting my Canon 7D camera, lights, hard drives, and other useful stuff to the production
  • managing the digital workflow for set-to-editor-to-director-to-post, as well as managing dailies
  • general help on-set and off-set
  • even some graphic design! (see the photo of a fake poster above)
  • maybe sound design.

The cast and crew is incredible. We are halfway through 25 days of shooting, followed by some additional pickups and various projects to get the film ready for completion. The editing process will take several months of massaging the footage to make it serve the story. Our hope is that it will get picked up for a few film festivals in early 2011, and then see theatrical distribution sometime during the year.

Our cast is outstanding, anchored by John Kapelos (remember Breakfast Club?), K Callan, Brigid Brannagh (Army Wives), and the amazing Tony Hale (Arrested Development).

Check the movie out:

Blog, business, post production for film and video, sound

What Hearken Creative did (is doing) this summer, Part 3

Well, I can’t say “did” for this one, since we’re still in production. I’m associate producer on a quirky little film called “Not That Funny” starring Tony Hale (Arrested Development, Chuck, and a bunch of other stuff). Here’s a breakdown of what I am working on during this film:

  • Recorded all production sound for the first week of shooting (before our wonderful sound guy showed up)
  • Managing/devising digital workflow for the production and post-production
  • Assisting with social media and web presence for the film
  • Renting Hearken equipment to the production (KinoFlo Diva Lights, Canon 7D, microphones, batteries, cards, hard drives, etc.)
  • Assisting in whatever way I can on a small shoot, sometimes as a production assistant, sometimes as a driver, sometimes schlepping crafts service, sometimes…?

The cast and crew of this tiny pic are wonderful, and I’m honored to be working with them all. I can’t wait to show you some of the production stills, and get this film finished so everyone can see it.

Blog, business, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

Now shooting in HD for your next project

Finally!

Hearken Creative now is shooting in HD on a Canon 7d camera. We have several lenses and filters, and can make your next project shine, whether for the big screen, the small screen, or even a web screen.

Additionally, not only can we do full-blown ProTools audio for location sound, but we now have a small Zoom H4N 4-channel audio recorder for interviews, small cast shoots, and field recording. Put the two pieces together, and you have a wonderfully small setup for mobile filming!

Call us to discuss your next video/film project.

Blog, business, post production for film and video

Great day learning about the 5d

Yesterday I attended a half-day session arranged by The Association on the Canon DSLR cameras. Snehal Patel led the workshop of twelve people. I think I was the only one who wasn’t working in Hollywood, and we had quite a few veteran members of the ASC there as well. The industry is changing significantly. From the tech and post side of it, I think I have an incredible grasp on the realities of shooting with these new DSLRs. Now I want to get better on the production side as well.

One interesting thing about the day was a discussion by the DPs in the room concerning the disappointing performance of the RED One camera in real-world situations. Specifically, the cost of the camera, with all of the bells and whistles, is much higher than everyone expects (still much lower than traditional cameras, but the hype doesn’t match with reality). Secondly, the processor is just not robust enough to handle low light well; in fact, during shoots, the RED consistently requires more lighting (which equals more time and more money spent) than traditional cameras — DPs were complaining that you had to stick light everywhere, even in shadows, to make sure something showed up in the footage. So I’m leaning much less towards the RED right now, and seriously getting closer to either the 5D or the 7D, which excels in low-light situations. (I’m interested to see how the new RED cameras fare, but I’m not interested in purchasing any of them, either.)

Another illuminating conversation was how the major studios are attempting to cut down on technical staff (DITs, digital managers) in an attempt to save money on set. It’s going to backfire, but I’ll talk about that in a later post.

Blog, business, post production for film and video

Canon DSLRs get a channel to Final Cut Pro

Canon has taken the pain (or most of it, anyways) out of bringing footage into Final Cut Pro from their DSLR cameras with a new FCP plugin. The new plugin allows us to ingest footage directly into Apple’s ProRes 422 code, and adds timecode based on the camera’s date and time stamp (a workaround to actually having real timecode, but it’ll work for now).

This, along with the firmware update that was released recently, brings us closer to truly being able to use the Canon DSLRs in a professional environment, which is what I want to do. I’m considering skipping the 7D entirely and simply saving up for a 5D — which will fit my business much better than the 7D anyways.

Blog, business, graphic design, portfolio

New iStockphoto images, developments

It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted here, so this will cover a few things.

First, posting images to iStockphoto has been going well. Now, I just need to start making more money from them. Here are a few recent uploads:

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So is the economy up or down? I don’t think anyone can decide. Even Wall Street was bipolar this past week — way up one day and way down the next. We are considering ways to drastically cut expenses for the company, like moving to a smaller office and using fewer computers, or even temporarily closing the post-production side of the business (entertainment industry has been hit hard). But, on the other hand, I added more job numbers to my jobs list this week than I have in recent memory, and completed several large projects as well. So I’m feeling cautiously hopeful, at least in the short term.

While we’re talking about the business, I found an elegant little program called TimeTagger for tracking my time spent on projects throughout the workday. It’s going to help me track profitability much better than I have been able to previously.

7d_586x225

And, in the “covet” department, I’m really wanting a Canon 7D. Great photography and HD filmmaking at multiple frame rates, with lots of upsides. Expensive, but possibly worth it. We’re not ready financially to make a big purchase like this, but if the right project comes along, this is the one that I would purchase right now. If you want to buy it for me, the link is here…thanks!

Blog, business, post production for film and video

Where will camera technology go next?

It has been several years since I purchased the cameras that we use at HCS to film video. They are not HD, they are not new, and yet they get the job done, and usually the footage looks really good to the client. But at some point in time, we will have to upgrade to HD. The camera prices have come down, and the compression codecs are getting better and better, and easier for the computers to handle too.

So why wait? Well, I’m confused about where HD is going to go.

On the one side, we have these cool new DSLR cameras (like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II shown here, or the equally cool Nikon D300) that shoot stills and video. Why is this cool? Because DSLRs have large lenses and large imaging sensors, meaning you can go for shallow depth-of-field looks and lower light, and get absolutely stunning results. (Check out this incredible action footage shot by Robert Bösch to promote the D300.) It also means you can shoot stills and video with the same equipment. But the downsides, for me, all have to do with integration of professional features like timecode and audio capabilities. I would rather not have to send all my audio through a tiny 1/8″ stereo microphone jack (although that’s what I do on the Canon GL2), and there isn’t any timecode available. Many of these DSLR/video cameras also limit the framerate (often 30fps) and resolution (sometimes only 720p and not 1080p) that can be captured. But the price-to-performance ratio is hard to resist if you can find suitable workarounds for these setbacks.

On the other side, the lower-end professional film camera market is so close to breaking wide open, that I am compelled to wait before spending any money. Red Camera‘s Scarlet, when it comes out, is going to run circles around current camera options. And right now, there are several sub-$1000 cameras that could shoot entire feature films. We’re looking at the Sony PMW-EX3 for shooting our next film. (See this great video review, and click over to his camera tests as well.) And we still have Panasonic’s AG-HVX200A, which was one of the first HD cameras that could shoot at multiple frame rates (and related to my current DVX100A — which is a bonus in terms of learning curve on a new camera). And JVC’s GY-HM700 is another strong contender, which shoots directly into a native Final Cut Pro format (woohoo! no more wasted time logging and capturing!)(see this review) that will street for around $7000. (Here’s another interesting comparison about the merits of both the EX3 and the GY-HM700.)

So, when and what to buy? Not yet, because I have no projects that require the new equipment just yet. And, when that next project comes around, we’ll take a look at what the requirements are, and how each of these solutions might fill those requirements.

Blog, business, post production for film and video, sound

New Avid and AJA announcements at NAB

By virtue of being both a marketing expert and a technology expert, I watch everything that happens at the major tech trade shows. This week Las Vegas saw the NAB (Natl. Association of Broadcasters) show, which lets people in the broadcasting industry see what technology is coming up. Two things jumped out at me (from the news — I wasn’t there. My corporate travel account is at zero — LOL):

Avid is now publicly integrating all of their companies: Avid, Digidesign, Sibelius, M-Audio, etc. This means that there will be tighter integration between all of their products, making for faster “round-tripping” between apps. Does that mean that I will start using Avid instead of Final Cut Pro? Probably not immediately, but, as this blogger points out, cross-app integration has been very good for both Apple’s and Adobe’s post production suites (with Adobe doing a slightly better job at it than Apple). And it might also help intra-app round-tripping as well. But for us smaller, independent/freelance artists/producers, this announcement doesn’t bring as much punch as I would like: I don’t want Digi or Avid to relegate the freelancers to only using M-Audio products (although they are quite good); I would like a low-cost Digi system that can compete with HD systems, and a low-cost Avid system that can compete with FCP. I know they already make these (kindof), but I want to see them supported and upgraded. Just my two cents.

Also at NAB, AJA announced a new box called the Ki Pro, that takes any signal (even from an SD camera) and can upres it to full HD ProRes 422 video. List price is under $4k. This would be a boon to people (like me) who have lots of good, but old, SD cameras, that might be used as “B” or “C” cameras on an HD shoot if we could get fast and clean up-rezzed material. I’m going to watch this new product carefully to see if they come down in price and/or could be of use in my company.