Quarrels are certain to be provoked by the new Christopher Kenneally documentary, Side by Side — which explores the effect of digital technology on 21st-century moviemaking. One assertion, however, is beyond argument: For a film geek, the movie is absolute heaven — a dream symposium in which directors, cinematographers, editors and a few actors opine on their craft.
Guided by affable and knowledgeable Keanu Reeves, viewers are escorted onto sets and into editing bays, shown clips both esoteric and familiar, and invited to examine a lot of cool hardware. Not only do you get to sit at the feet of Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh and other heroes of modern cinema, but you also get to check out the latest high-definition cameras.
The film isn’t quite an exercise in pro-digital propaganda. But, as is often the case with digital technology, the discourse tilts toward triumphalism.
Francis Ford Coppola felt that his power to make movies that were widely seen placed a moral obligation on him to affect people in ways he considered worthwhile, and part of that influence involved craft or finish—what might be called high production values, which take big budgets to realize.
2011 was the year in which the Arri Alexa, the first significant digital camera released by leading equipment developer Arri, was put to wide use. Three wildly different examples of the new camera can found in "Drive," "Hugo" and "Melancholia."
JKU Masters student Aurel Wildfellner has been working on focus tracking for cameras, by using a prototype DSLR camera rig fitted with a Microsoft Kinect console and a lens controlled by a follow focus and external server motor. A feed from the camera is piped into the Microsoft Kinect which acts like a range finder allowing for automatic aiming. Here is where the focus tracking gets interesting. You can mark multiple focus points in a scene and easily move the camera around on a rig like a dolly or even go handheld and keep your selected subject in focus or rack comfortably between the selected points.
A fantastic dialogue-free animated trailer for writer/director Rian Johnson’s sci-fi film Looper has gone online. The film takes place in a future where time travel exists, but is only used on the black market.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a “Looper”, a hitman who is contracted to kill people that are sent back in time, and then disposes of the bodies so the victim technically no longer exists. Things go awry when his future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time as an assignment and then escapes. The film itself is genuinely great on multiple levels with incredible performances all around, and this trailer’s gorgeous animation is a nice spoiler-free tease for what’s in store; you can also hear some of Nathan Johnson’s top-notch music.
Walid Salhab, Media Practice Lecturer at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh produced this time-lapse video as a part of his ongoing video production research.
The short experimental film, “Kinetic Edinburgh,” uploaded to the professor’s salhabfilms YouTube channel, is composed of thousands of individual images from stop-motion and time-lapse photography.
Aside from its eclectic display of exciting film techniques, the video also provides a gorgeous view of landmark Edinburgh locations such as Dean Village, Balmoral Hotel, Princes Street, and, of course, Queen Margaret University.
Saturday afternoon in IBC's Big Screen Theater, celebrated cinematographer Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, took to the stage and spoke about his experience shooting the soon-to-be released James Bond film Skyfall on the ARRI Alexa digital camera. While Alexa is being used more frequently to acquire big-budget Hollywood films, notably this year's box-office crusher The Avengers, the camera is an even larger hit among DPs in episodic television, where it has now surpassed a whopping 85% market share.
Christopher Challis, who has died aged 93, was a distinguished cinematographer on more than 70 feature films, including Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1969).
When it comes to giving back to the film community, cinematographer John Simmons, ASC, would be found near the top of the list. Besides working in the field, John has been teaching at UCLA’s film school for over 20 years, crafting the next generation of young, enthusiastic minds. When Simmons nabbed his nomination for Disney XD’s Pair of Kings, a kid’s show about two teenage kids who are heirs to the throne of an island nation, S&P sat down with him to talk about his work.
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