While I can’t say that I have a new job or have turned the economy around single-handedly, this has been a marvelous summer of new experiences.
The first project I want to talk about is the West Covina High School Chamber Singers reunion, which happened two days ago after over a year of preparation. I was a committee member, and developed the website and Facebook presence, as well as designed all printed matter, and finally, managed all the stage tech for the evening, including a 16-foot screen, memorabilia slideshow, music cues, and sound reinforcement for the evening’s program, all provided by Hearken Creative.
The event was an amazing success, where 80+ people re-connected after 25 years with our dedicated teacher/director/conductor, Tom Kessler.
While the event was not specifically a showcase of Hearken Creative’s available services, we nonetheless made the entire evening possible, with HCS’ graphic design, film/video production, and live show production strengths.
In the near future, we will also produce the event “re-cap” video DVD. Can’t wait to show you how much fun everyone had at this event.
Tomorrow: Live theatre sound design for 100+ children and teens this summer…
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!
The Canon 5D and 7D are all over the place now. This is nothing new or groundbreaking, but it clearly shows that, when used well, these HDSLR cameras can be used for newsgathering and documentaries as well as scripted/planned shoots. Very nicely done.
This is incredible. Just announced at NAB: A Da Vinci Resolve system will now run on a Mac for $995. You still need a control surface, and it’s probably a somewhat stripped-down version — simply because you can only run one processer with it, but here’s the thing: incredibly powerful color correction is now possible for smaller and smaller boutique houses. If Hearken Creative grows a bit, I could foresee starting out with a Mac-based system and then move quickly to the Linux GPU cards via high speed InfiniBand connections.
The Da Vinci system is an industry-leading high-end color correction system for film and digital post production work. Da Vinci was purchased by BlackMagic Design in September 2009, and has been working to re-frame the playing field for color correction software. This will affect Apple’s Color as well as Avid’s built-in color correction (such as in Adrenaline).
The price of all of this stuff just keeps coming down further and further…
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.
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.
Q4 of 2009 has seen a number of wonderful projects wrap up and get distributed.
Winnetka Story is a feature-length documentary about the history of Winnetka and the North Shore area, outside of Chicago. Once again I worked with the wonderful John Newcombe, with whom we authored the DVD for Rancho La Cañada: Then and Now a few years ago. Hearken Creative did all of the DVD authoring and DVD menu design, as well as managing the production for the packaging.
Servant Partners launched several new videos prior to the Urbana missions convention that Hearken Creative produced. Most of the interview footage was interviewed and shot by Loren A. Roberts, with video from around the world provided to us by Servant Partners in various formats. HCS brought it all together and turned it into several promotional videos, for use both online as well as looping on plasmas in the organization’s booth at the 20,000-person convention. In addition, HCS authored the DVD, designed DVD menus, and duplicated copies of the DVD for all staff members. Below is one of the four videos produced:
And finally, Dave Schultze of Schultzeworks created a video promoting a computer design that he calls the “Philco PC,” an homage to the Philco Predicta television set from the 1950’s. I was able to work with Dave, consulting on camera movement, editing, and pacing for the video (Dave occupies my old office space, and we have become good friends over the past few years). We were stunned at the response after releasing the video: Vimeo shows that it has close to 100k views of the video, the design has been featured on EnGadget and the NY Times, and Dave has received calls from news outlets and potential clients. This was a great collaboration for us, and HCS looks forward to consulting in the future for other friends and clients! See the video below:
There are many changes coming to Hearken Creative in the new year, but the one thing that will not change is our passion and dedication to making our clients look awesome, bringing creative and powerful solutions to the world of advertising design and corporate video.
Honestly, unlike millions of you others I won’t be seeing Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen this weekend. But I enjoyed the technical achievements of the first movie, even if I didn’t care for the editing or storytelling. Pro Sound News has spent the whole last week detailing different aspects of the sound work on the new movie, with interviews from major players:
Part One: Mixing and Sound Editing: “This new movie features twice the action, and many, many more robots than the series opener, he continued. “In normal movies, there are two, three, even four set pieces. Eight years ago, one or two of those set pieces would have made this a big sound movie. We have several in each reel. It’s challenging.”
Part Two: Dialog Editing and Effects Processing: There was relatively little ADR in ROTF. “Michael doesn’t like using ADR; the majority of ADR will be for extra lines and line changes,” said Hopkins, adding, “I’ve got probably 30 or 40 ADR cues because of bad background noise.”
Part Three: Music/Effects/Dialog Mixing: “The music is really driving and the effects track is very detailed. Because you have this animation and special effects that you need to sell, sound is so powerful for doing that. It brings a sense of reality to it all and engages the audience into the whole story. Michael sees that; he sees how powerful it can be and how it can bring these animated things to life, and give them a sense of weight and power and character.”
Part Four: Connecting Sound to Picture: With so much mayhem onscreen, it was important for Van der Ryn and Aadahl to constantly strive for clarity and make some critical choices early on in the process regarding what remained in the mix. “If we were to not make choices until [the mix stage], it would be a wall of noise…Everything you hear connects to something on the screen, and if there’s anything that is muddying things up or washing things out, we do that in the editorial process.”
Part Five: Getting Effects to Sound Good: “When you have multiple sounds happening in a sequence, we really broaden the scope of frequencies so that things aren’t living in the same range. That separation is necessary for clarity, as well as panning things and rhythmically having things syncopate so that they aren’t stepping on each other. Even if you offset ever so slightly, it creates separation.”
That’s it for today; I’m crazy-busy finishing off a few projects right now.
StudioDaily reports today that Panasonic is releasing a new, cheaper line of P2 memory cards for their video cameras. The P2 is a card, kinda like an SD or CompactFlash, but bigger. It does away with tapes in the production workflow, and, more importantly, can completely eliminate the “capture” process (where you have to play the tape back off of a deck to ingest the footage into the computer) — instead, you just dump the video files over from the P2 card onto the computer!
P2 cards originally were as expensive or more expensive than the cameras, making them prohibitively expensive. But with this new announcement, it looks like Panasonic is truly trying to carve out a niche for this technology. One of the cameras I am interested in is an HVX200, and the price-cut in P2 cards makes this option even more lucrative.
I wonder what will happen with Panasonic and Sony and Canon when Red releases its incredible Red Scarlet camera? It completely bypasses tapes or cards, and works direct to hard drive (I believe), and has a higher resolution than most of the current offerings.
So maybe there is a silver lining to not being able to buy a new camera just yet: there will be several new offerings by the time we are ready to acquire some new equipment…