People often think great lighting is difficult. But when we look at the work of Roger Deakins, BSC, ASC, we see how a master achieves powerful effects with the simplest of lighting. Actually, Deakins "UN-lights" his scenes and this give the image greater impact.
In the Cohen Brothers' film 'The Man Who Wasn't There', you see scenes of incredible lighting impact achieved with simple set ups. Again and again Deakins shows he totally understands great lighting, composition and an interesting subject.
We strive to emulate Deakins' work in our 'Lighting Like the Masters' cinebootcamps. The scene below is the especially pleasing set up we discovered while trying out the Alzo PAN-L lights. It is soft, direct and just the right intensity. We copied the master. Looks nice.
We plan more 'Lighting Like the Masters' workshops. Email me for the dates.
If you've even been in a movie theater and heard the screaming that erupts with an out of focus picture on the screen you'll know that being out of focus is the most objectionable thing to the audience. And it's something that is the nemesis of the filmmaker. You've got a great performance and you look at the monitor and it's out of focus and you just want to KILL. Well, those days are over for those who are okay shooting on Canon's Super 35-sized 70D.
Being out of focus is the big career-ending flaw for a cinematographer. Canon has taken a huge leap forward by enabling the 70D to find and track focus for you. For my tests it was spot on 9 out of ten times. Not only are there three main focusing choices. Canon also allows you to fine-tune these Auto Focus functions with three Custom Function AF settings - Tracking Sensitivity, Acceleration/declaration tracking, and how much you want the Autofocus to continue to try to find focus or would you rather it stop searching in tricky settings.
Also, the Autofocus during filming opens the door to something the DSLRs haven't been able to do since Canon quit making most of their lenses capable of holding focus (ParFocal) throughout the zoom. Now you can actually zoom on a shot and hold focus all the way in. Coincidentally, there is a product from Alzo "Smoothy Zoom-Focus Assist" which you can apply to the zoom ring of your Canon lens and achieve a pretty acceptable zoom if you're steady on a tripod. Or if you're going to dissolve out before the zoom stumbles to a stop (you have to be REALLY good to smoothly come to a stop) you can shoot it handheld. For $14. you can order two Smoothies. If you have a decent lens you can pull off a nice zoom with it. Here's the link.
I did test the AutoFocusing, using both Canon's STM (step motor) EFS 28 -135mm lens, and my own EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. I'm happy to report that focusing took just under a second. Only twice did it rack focus back and forth to "find focus". That was in situations of a white bowl in front of a white wall with no definite edge. But if there was anything in the shot that had an edge and a little contrast Canon's AutoFocus would nail it without rolling back and forth and back and forth.
I also did tests in the heat of battle on a location shoot at Christmas filming a woman delivering presents to children whose parents wouldn't be with them at Christmas. You know how fast kids move around. Hard to find focus. But all I had to do was tap where the child came to a stop, then tap again when he moved, then tap when his mom spoke and tap when the spokesperson spoke. It was a dream. (This video will soon be posted).
This ease and accuracy of focus was only a half second slower than the best focus puller I've worked with. It was certainly better than when I pull focus when I'm handheld and I'm rolling film. In those situations, I find myself passing through the focus spot at least once before I come back to find the best focus spot.
So, all I need now is the 5D Mark IV to have this Auto Focus feature (and the fold out display) and it will be the best Christmas gift a filmmaker could ask for.
Still photographers are the fine artists of stopping time. Cinematographers capture the flow of the dramatic dance of life. Still photographers wait for that most powerful instant as it flows past...like a gold nugget in a roaring stream, while cinematographers jump in the stream
These two worlds couldn't be further apart, but they collide in the most delightful way at the Palm Springs Photo Festival each Spring. The part we play is trying to lure these fine artists of the frozen moment into the unpredictable, messy, out of control motion pictures. The still photographer's work captures the audience's eye and holds it like a dancer's frozen pose that is mesmerizing. The cinematographer chases the tumbling of time, chasing it with shirt untucked, stumbling forward hoping to find focus.
So, what have I been smokin'?
Actually the above thoughts come from the remarkable bliss I get when teaching still photographers to film motion pictures. The worlds couldn't be further apart. Everything in the still world is about holding things still, even the vocabulary. The still photographer yells, "Hold it!". The cinematographer yells, "Action!"
The still photographer has a tripod with three knobs to hold the camera absolutely motionless. The motion picture photographer has a fluid head tripod, capable of panning and tilting during the shot. Egads! You're letting time do what it wants. You need to freeze that instant, not chase it.
And there's more bliss. My still photographer/filmmakers bring the beautiful fine art of lighting to the motion world. In motion pictures, because everything is moving, arranging lighting for subtle nuances is difficult. Still photographers bring a worship of high resolution, and texture, and "wrap" and all the fine elements of great still photography to the sloppy world of motion pictures. I tell my filmmakers that they are the Rembrandts of imagery and cinematographers are like the drywall crew you hire to get it done in a day.
Yet the art of each world blends in a marvelous hybrid sauce that is surprisingly refreshing to all who attend. We loosen still photographers up with the jib arm.
Then, with blue gels on the window, we create chilly illusions amidst the warm reality of Jeff Dunas' Palm Springs Photo Festival - a day for night shot....
Or put up a green screen to fake that in a blizzard in Russia, even though it's 102 outside.
or take still camera housings into Korakia's pools for this bubbly blue epiphany.
So for five days, we escort still photographers from the world of "holding it" into the world of sloppy motion and blurry images that smear into each other in a chase that recreates the livingness of life. We get them moving around like that delightful scene in 'Forrest Gump' where he dances for Elvis. We get them into the world of motion...not freezing it, but riding it. We get their hips swaying. We get their shoulders down and relaxed. We loosen their grip on their camera. We let them exhale as they shoot.
It's the most delightful party because we separate the boundaries of two distinct worlds and let them flow together. It's like we're cooking up hybrid images that are like blending two cuisines to create a third....crepes with bits of kale, shredded lemon peel and cinammon sugar...or chocolate crusted with rock salt. For the underwater shot we used a housing designed for still photographers, but usable for video on the Canon 5D Mk III because you can reassign the buttons on the camera.
The drills we do (to lift the still photographer into motion) move them out of their comfort zone (the world of isnesses) into the world of fluid motion. One drill asks them to take a still photograph and then storyboard out in the mind what happened just before that moment and what happened after that moment. Then, we have them take that storyboarded sequence and change it so it ends tragically, then have it end humorously. Slowly they crack loose from the "plaster paris' world of stillness to the roller coaster of sequence.
It is so charming to witness. Imagine bringing together great chefs and asking them to blend something they've never tried before. That's what it's like. I hope you join Jeff and I for the fun. And if you drift off to the "How to Light Nudes" class*, je comprends.
*At the 2012 Palm Springs Photo Festival, Fletch found a number of students who'd signed up for his class sliding next door to brush up on the skill of how to light a 5' 11" nude model. The 2014 Palm Springs Photo Festival is April 27 - May 2. Here is the link
My grandfather raised horses. He was a cowboy. Gentle but focused. Pragmatic but passionate. My grandmother fell in love with him the first time she saw him ride in on his big white horse to the town dance in Chandler, Oklahoma.
On the other side of my family tree is Elizabeth Eaton, formerly a Murray. Though prim and proper from the well-to-do Murray's of St. Louis, she married Frank Eaton, the famous Pistol Pete of Oklahoma State fame.
Frank wrote a book about his life in the "Old West" before Oklahoma became a state. In one episode, Frank and his friends had been captured by indians. One snuck out at night and lit out for Fort Reno to get help.
On the morning of the third day help arrived. Frank describes it this way.
"We saw a cloud of dust rising way up on the trail to the north of us....the calvary was coming."
Then, Frank describes the the horses.
"The horses were beautiful, mostly bays but some chestnuts and sorrels, and a few blacks, but no paints or other fancy horses. A cavalry horse weighed somewhere around eleven hundred pounds while a cow pony weighed only about nine hundred."
"When the lead soldiers got within about three to four hundred yards of them the Indians started shooting. The soldiers stopped then and the main column came on up and formed two columns with about four feet between."
"A Medicine Man was leading the Indians to attack. He had on a war bonnet and was telling them the white man's bullets couldn't kill an Indian with a war bonnet on. He was going through all sorts of contortions while he told them he was making the white man's gunpowder turn to dirt so it would not kill the Indians."
"An officer with a straight sword, not a calvary saber, in his hand came riding down the line of soldiers. He stopped in front of one of them and pointed with his sword to the Medicine Man. The soldier raised his carbine and sighted, for just a second, then fired; and the Medicine Man pitched head-first off his pony, war bonnet and all, with a bullet clear through him."
"The soldiers started their horses. They rode at a slow trot at first, then a faster trot, then a run. When they got within about fifty yards of the Indians they raised their guns and fired."
"The smoke from the guns covered the line of soldiers but when they came out of that smoke and dust every man had his saber in his hand and was riding like the wind."
"We could see their sabers glitter in the sun...they were making a saber charge."
"When a calvary horse makes a charge he goes in with his nose and tail straight out and his ears back. He goes straight ahead and nothing stops him unless he is killed. If another horse gets in his way, he just runs over him."
(left - Charles Schrevogel's 'Breaking Through The Line')
"An Indian in the back broke and ran, then two or three, then fifteen or twenty. After a few minutes of fighting they all broke and ran."
So what's all this got to do with thee and me?
Well, today people face problems not Cheyenne Indians. But the problems can be just as life-threatening, certainly job-threatening.
Our team is like the calvary. We keep going until we find the real why that is causing the business problem. It goes like this:
- You tell us the problem situation.
- We gather all the facts we can.
- We dig deeper and deeper until we find the REAL why that is at the root of the problems.
- We design a solution.
- Test it.
- Improve it.
- Implement it.
- Track results.
- Improve it.
- Then fully deploy it.
- Your problems are on the run.
I encourage you to call the calvary, if the "indians" have you surrounded.
We don't stop until we've got solutions implemented and your problems on the run. We've solved problems in marketing, training, slow sales, lead generation, non-interruptive marketing...whatever is plaguing a company.
Email me at email@example.com. Better yet, call me. My cell is 818 606-3538.
10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. We at The Association made a TV commercial for Norman Taylor and Associates to make sure these elder Americans, your moms and dads and our moms and dads, receive proper health care and are not abused by unethical health care providers.
Click here to see our latest anti Elder Abuse TV spot.
Too often it is easy to forget about our elders' needs. The fact is we'll all be old some day and we need to take action while we're young so that abuse of elders becomes a thing of the past.
To make this point in the video we morphed from an old person to a young person restrained in her nursing home bed. It is up to us to fight for the rights of those older Americans who fought to give us everything we needed to survive when we were defenseless babies.
If you'd like to receive the booklet "How to Recognize the Signs of Elder Abuse" call or email Norman Taylor and Associates, an experienced law firm dedicated to stopping elder abuse. Their contact info is below.
or call Norm or John at 818 244-3905
Join us to stop Elder Abuse.
Watching football is great. And I actually had an epiphany just the other day.
If athletes took as long as businesses to detect the "REAL WHY", to devise a handling and to implement it, they would lose every game. Let me say that again.
Let me say it another way.
If athletes took as long as businesses
to detect the reason they're losing,
and to come up with a successful game plan
and to put that plan into action,
they'd lose every game.
Caution: you may recognise things preventing your company from winning.
While there are those who are throwing in the towel, there also those who are turning things around. The Association is going to spotlight these stories in their new series, 'The New Entrepreneurs'. In each webisode the forward-thinking movers and shakers will share their business strategy and personal philosophy which has resulted in a successful company that's expanding at a rapid rate. These visionaries recognize a need and deliver the goods.
"Let's face it. We've got to turn this thing around," says Fletcher Murray, President of The Association. "Night after night we hear how the world is heading for disaster. If we don't do something about it, who will? Our little part of it, as creative media producers, is to get stories out about those entrepreneurs experiencing exceptional growth.
So, we're collecting stories of successful entrepreneurs in America and worldwide. We're picking the best thirteen to produce. It's a co-venture to get these entrepreneurs' stories out. We'll use the stories in our series to inspire the audience and the entrepreneurs will use them on their website - to attract investors, customers and employees to their companies. These companies deserve to succeed and prosper. Why? The Small Business Administration reports that 90% of companies in the U.S. have 20 people or less, and these companies create 97% of all new jobs. So we're going to strengthen the spine of our society by focusing on the upstats who are expanding jobs."
Murray is revisiting an award-winning documentary series he produced and directed about successful businessmen for Leake Industries with Bob Gregory as the host. Two of the documentaries featured J. Paul Getty - the first about the businessman, the second about Getty's purpose in providing billions to turn our civilization around through art."
"Mr. Getty was all business, but people who think he was all about money got him wrong," says Murray. "Mr. Getty had a great sense of humor and found it amusing that he got letters from people all over the world asking for all kinds of money."
"They seemed to think," said Mr. Getty, "that my money is a huge burden, and it's in my pocket and I want to get rid of it."
Getty also understood the priorities of life. While Fletch was changing film during Mr. Getty's interviews, Mr. Getty volunteered, "But I'd give all my millions for one successful marriage."
"I want to tell more stories like Mr. Getty's, because people need this right now," Murray says. "People think Getty got his money from his father. He did get a stake to start with, but Mr. Getty was shrewd. For example, he was bidding on oil leases under the big tree at the Osage Indian Reservation in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. There were well-healed businessmen outbidding Getty, even as rich as he was. So Mr. Getty asked one of his friends from the bank to bid on a lease in his stead. Mr. Getty explained that he knew most of the big moneymen under the tree owed the bank money so they wouldn't bid against the bank. He was right. Getty got his lease. The rest is history."
"What we hope the stories will reawaken that spirit of the pioneers. Just imagine how the pilgrims felt getting off the boat with winter coming on, no cabins and no grocery stores."
"We want to inspire young people that their dreams CAN come true. The cards aren't stacked against them."
"Everybody knows the world economy is in trouble. It's time we do something about it. We want to help wake people up and show them the survival strategies others are finding successful."
As you know exciting aerial shots have long been an Association mainstay. From Apache Helicopters, to Kawasaki Jet Ski's in St. Thomas, to cruiseships transiting the Panama Canal, the glaciers of Alaska and passing historic Istanbul we've shot with 35mm Cinemascope lenses on big, Bell Long Ranger helicopters at hand-held shots aboard the tiny Robinson choppers.
But here's the big news. Unlike most mini-chopper platforms, which are still shaky and require post processing to "smooth out" the shot, our buddy Robert Hogg's technology breakthroughs allow us to get vibration down to below a sub-pixel level. That means SMOOTH, Hi Def shots.
So, the HoverCamera opens a whole new range of dynamic shots because the small, 4' square mini-chopper can orbit close to people (real helicopters must be 300 feet above populated areas) and then rise up to astounding heights.
And because the HoverCamera is so small, we can now shoot aerials inside as well as outside.
Here's a montage of Robert's work
Exciting times ahead. We can now shoot the shots we dreamed about.
More and more, it's a great time to be alive. So many dreams are coming true.
(If you'd like to subscribe to our Filmmakers' Newsletter, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Loss of creativity happens to us all. We often can't see we're in a rut because we're in it and all we see are walls, which are what forms a rut. Filmmakers are no different.
Sir Ken Robinson says that if you ask second graders "Who is creative?" , all the hands go up. But if you ask the same question when they finish school, less than 10% raise their hand.
Here are some red flags to look for to determine if you're creative work is in a rut.
- Do your ideas only appeal to your mom?
- Do your scenes always happen in the same locations? In a car? In a cafe? In the living room? In the park?
- Do your images look the same as what you've done it in the past?
- Do you shake your head at movies and say to yourself, "This piece of junk got funding?"
- Have you thought about taking that job at Walmart? or the Postal Service?
Maybe it's time to shake your creative tree and see if some fresh ideas fall out.
We're offering a special Cine Boot Camp "Breaking Out of Creative Ruts" on Saturday, September 7th at our studios, a block from Warner Brothers front gate in Burbank, Ca.
We don't have all the answers. Far from it. We have twenty-two proven methods to break out of creative ruts. The boot camp is for
- directors of photography
- still photographers
- creative image makers
We'll use "Active Learning" techniques just like in our other highly acclaimed boot camps. That means there won't be much talking. There will be drills and exercises in a 30-page workbook to get the creative juices flowing again. You will walk away with new ideas. In fact, you may find yourself on the Academy Awards stage thanking Fletch and that Cine Boot Camp you took back in 2013.
Ray Bradbury said, "Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things.
So don't THINK about it. Just SIGN UP. This boot camp will pay for itself in no time at all. Don't stand by while your creativity flickers. Sign up. As George Washington told his men when they were crossing the icy Delaware River to attack the British on Christmas,
Simple lighting for digital cameras can be powerful.
And with the high ISO prowess of the Canon 5D Mark III (noise free blacks at ISO 2500) you are liberated to explore lower wattage fixtures. WIth older (low ISO) cameras you have to bring in much more light. With these new fixtures you're not throwing light everywhere. You can still achieve powerful imagery. Of course, having a great actress is essential.
The above still is from the video we shot on the last "How to Light Like the Masters" workshop, one of our new Cine Boot Camps. Shot on Canon 5D Mark III with Zeiss CP.2 85mm, 24fps All-i.
(BTW, We're expanding our boot camps to include other filmmaking skills in addition to learning the Canon HDSLRs. CLICK HERE for more info on our new Cine Boot Camps)
Anyway, we were emulating the lighting of Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC in 'The Man Who Wasn't There'. We used an ALZO PAN - L light with the directional diffuser. You wouldn't expect that quality of light from a flourescent light but as you can see it is achievable.
I asked the actress, Julie Brett, to assume the beingness of a woman who killed three people and gotten away with it. We named the shot "Three arrests. No convictions."
Thanks to Drew and Alzo for their efforts to empower (rather than cash in on) digital filmmakers.
Space is limited so be sure to sign up for our Sept. 28 & 29th "Lighting Like the Masters" workshop (CLICK HERE).
Fletch is the President of The Association of Film and Video Producers and Founder of the Cine Boot Camps.
Victoria, of the California Photo Festival, is planning filmmaking fun for you in beautiful San Luis Obispo Oct. 7 - 11, and she invited us to be a part of it. Plus, we've been able to lower the price to one-fifth what it would be at our normal $998 price for a two-day Cine Boot Camp. So sign up now to get the early bird pricing.
Actually it is quite an honor to be invited to be one of the 21 instructors at the Festival and we're going to do everything to make Victoria's first training in HDSLR motion picture cinematography a huge success. (When she mentioned we'll be filming horses running down the beach at sunset, I imagined how great those slo mo shots are going to look.)
First, a little about us....
Our CineBootCamps are the highest-rated training in HDSLR filmmaking. We utilize "Active Learning" hands-on methods endorsed by UC Berkeley and Columbia University.
Second, here's the deal
Victoria and I have packaged a 5-day, "best of" series of workshops culled from our highly rated Cine Boot Camps for $499....with additional discounts if two of you sign up together.
If you enter the coupon code "fletch2013" you'll get the gold pass for all five days for $424. AND if you do a 1 + 1 it comes down to $399.
Third, Here's What You'll be Learning
You'll be learning HDSLR filmmaking (basic and advanced), plus cinema lighting, audio, and various camera platforms. We'll have special workshops with tips for still photographers transitioning to video. PLUS, we'll have DRILLS so you can learn by doing as you shoot short films - practicing your skills with Pros by your side to answer your questions. (The price is about 75% less than our Cine Boot Camp prices.)
Fourth, Here's the Day by Day Workshops
MONDAY - Three Filmmaking Workshops for Still Photographers
We'll be delivering three filmmaking workshops, culminating with shooting slow motion of the horses running on the beach at sunset.
The 10:30 workshop focuses on answering questions for still photographers who are transitioning to shooting motion pictures - with an emphasis on the 27 boo-boo's that'll kill your shoot; plus choosing camera mounts, how to prep for a shoot and how to set up for run and gun filming.
The 1 p.m. workshop focuses on the menu setup to shoot film, what are the limitations 4.2.0 color space, what picture style to use and why, how to avoid overheating, what CF cards are best.
The 4 p.m. workshop will be devoted to shooting horses on the beach - slow motion, high shutter speed and low shutter speed.
TUESDAY - Shoot Day with Pro's to Help you Light Inside and Out
SHOOT DAY. In these three workshops ( 8 a.m., 10:30 and 1:30) we'll drill in workflow as we break into shoot teams, each filming scenes from a short "murder mystery." First, we'll shoot in the studio with studio lighting, then we'll go on location using location lighting techniques. Our pro instructors will answer your questions as you film your scenes.
WEDNESDAY - Motion Picture Techniques & Breaking out of Creative Ruts
The 8 a.m. workshop is to answer questions of advanced still photographers who've run into trouble transitioning to filmmaking, including:
- How do I block out motion picture scenes?
- Which shutter speeds to pick for different "feels"?
- What software can make my film look as close to RAW as possible?
- What are my audio options?
The 10 a.m. workshop gives you a checklist of steps to take to break out of the creative rut you may find yourself in. There'll be fun drills in which you'll create more interesting setups and scenes for your films.
The afternoon workshop will apply what we learned in the morning as we break into teams and practice shooting cinematic scenes with the Pro Instructors to help you review production techniques and answer your questions.
THURSDAY - Camera Platforms & New Lighting Setups
The morning session (8 - 12) will focus on different camera platforms you can use - handheld, jib, slider, micro dolly, dolly, car to car, air to air.
The afternoon session challenges you to expand your lighting skills for motion picture looks. Another "break out of the box" session focusing on lighting setups you've never tried so you can bring unique looks to your next film.
FRIDAY - Graduation, Final Questions and Special Strategies of How to Get Film Work
The Graduation Session will be devoted to tying up any loose ends of the week and presenting you with your Cine Boot Camps Certificates of Competency. We'll answer questions on things you had trouble with during the week, give you our best advice on things you'd like to try, and most importantly share ways we've found successful to close jobs with paying clients. It's the perfect wrap up to send you on your way with new skills, a certificate and some tips to get work.
We hope you'll take advantage of this great package offer. Check out the schedule here. You'll get the best of our Cine Boot Camps at a 75% discount AND be learning in one of the most picturesque spots around. Register today. Remember, if you enter the coupon code "fletch2013" you'll get the gold pass for $424. AND if you do a 1 + 1 it comes down to $399.
We'll look for you at sunset on the beach.
Fletcher Murray is President of The Association, and one of the instructors at the Cine Boot Camps for the last four years. You can reach him at email@example.com
I've had the good fortune to film many princesses in my career...usually from the air.
There are a number of camera rigs to remove the bumps and wiggles from aerial camera shots. The Cineflex gyro-stabilized camera mount is awesome but it takes all the thrill out of hanging out the doorway over Istanbul to shoot handheld of the Grand Princess' Inaugural Voyage.
(left) Yours truly enjoying the view of the Seven Hills of Istanbul. Do I look worried? Invigorated, yes. Worried?
What's to worry about? Stepping out on to the rails with nothing holding you but a climbing strap from taking a nice long dive into the Mediterranean. Hah! I spit in the face of fear !
Anyway, once you fly through the air getting great shots, it's hard to go back to earth. You go a little insane. The shots looks so pretty, you just can't stop.
(above) That's me in the Bell Long Ranger shooting in St. Thomas. Rod Tinney, who could fly (and did) fly his helicopter between two buildings with a foot on either side) was my precision pilot. Best in the world. He could push the envelope...but ALWAYS safely.
Or (below) hanging out the door to shoot a cruise liner. (Yes, we're on a collision course.)
Rod's again the pilot. We are approaching the bow of the ship four feet off the water at 90 knots closing speed, then at the last second we'll rise up and over the bow to see the crew on the flying bridge and over we'll go looking down the smokestacks.
Then, we all throw up and try it again.
We only hit the antenna once. I was glad after take 14 we had the shot, because I kept imagining the dent we'd make in the bow of the newly-painted ship and I wondered would they put a plaque up in our honor or just buff it out and paint it over. I think the latter.
Much more preferable is the Tyler Major Mount which enabled me to get rock solid shots of the Kawasaki Jet Ski dashing across Meghan's Bay at 50 mph (below). With the Major Mount you can stay mostly inside the chopper which keeps the wind stream from buffeting the camera.
The camera was so well-balanced and steady I could almost take my hands off the hand grips and watch it float with the action, so I could keep the Jetski in almost perfect framing. Nelson Tyler also makes nose mounts for high speed tracking shots or Middle Mounts for out the door shooting with lighter cameras. And Mini Gyro mounts for Canon 5D sized cameras for shooting off the back of motorcycles and boats and such.
The Cineflex mount is probably the most stable and most expensive. But you are unhampered by wind (which pushes the tail boom around and makes aerials difficult). It's great but can get confused with sudden chopper maneuvers.
So, if you're going for flat and smooth and level, this is the choice. Here's a link to a sample of Cineflex work. It's after the opening interviews with young pilots talking about their first solo flight.
HOVERCAM - And now walks on the stage the humble HoverCam, which takes just the camera up in the air while the flyer and camera person stay down below. It's all controlled remotely and can film not only outside but inside. And these are the shots we're planning for the Princess ships today, i.e. flights down the beautiful public spaces and soaring shots ascending through the Atrium on the new Royal Princess.j
(left)- the Robert Hogg's HoverCam flying through the L.A. tunnel. That's a shot you can't get with a chopper-mounted camera.
(We'll be woking with the HoverCam at our August 24 & 25 Cine Boot Camp, for any who are interested.)
So, pop quiz.
Q. What are the six ways to film a Princess?
1) Out the door, hand-held (cheapest and most dangerous)
2) Nose Mount (rock steady, high speed, no wind buffeting but you can still get a bug on the lens)
3) Middle Mount (Lighter cameras, operate out of wind stream.)
4) Major Mount (Heavier cameras, operate out of wind stream.
5) Cineflex gyro stabilized ball (Have a beer while watching the Cineflex operator does all the work.)
6) HoverCam (flies lower than 300 feet over populated areas AND it can fly right through a hallway.)
Fletcher Murray is president of The Association and an overall great guy. I know him personally. He's been spending his weekends training other camera people at the Cine Boot Camps for the last four years. He asked me to ask you if you'd like to read more of his self-serving, boring stories of his career, as long as he promises to keep them short and with lots of pictures. So email firstname.lastname@example.org and cast your vote.
Recent accidents blamed on bad voice files in the GPS system, have made car manufacturers and their vendors realize that these defective files can cost them millions of dollars in lawsuits, recalls, and worst of all, driver fatalities. Here are some recent accidents 's due to bad GPS systems.
“New Jersey Driver Follows GPS, Causes Four-Car Pileup,”
“Woman Follows GPS, Drives Straight Into Swamp,”
“Japanese Tourists Follow GPS Directions, Wind Up in Bay,”
“UK Woman Follows GPS, Drives Mercedes Into River,”
“Trucker Follows GPS Directions, Winds Up in Tree.”
What's a Voice File? A GPS navigation system has thousands of them. For example, a GPS computer may playback three voice files in the following command, "In a 500 yards, exit left, onto 405 North."
And what makes that voice file "bad"? Well, when the voice file that should have said, "Exit Right..." was mislabelled and the computer says, "Exit left" instead of "Exit Right," things can get dangerous for a woman trying to exit the freeway on the left on a rainy night and there's no exit ramp there.
Or let's say the navigation system takes her into a very rough part of town.
That's why we put such emphasis on delivering zero defect voice files to all of our clients. We've been providing error-free, zero-defect voice files for 14 years, virtually since the beginning of the industry, for Clarion, Microsoft, Alpine, Johnson Controls, IBM and deCarta in multiple languages.
As we approach 100,000 error-free voice files we are proud of the fact that none of the voice files we've produced have been involved in an accident, nor cost our clients a penny in damages or product recalls. But most important, as I am a grandfather now, I know that the voice files we produce help millions travel safely on their way to their destinations.
Fletcher Murray is the President of The Association, which has been providing voice files for in-vehicle navigation systems the longest of any vendor, beginning with the Clarion/Microsoft Auto PC project in 1999, The Association has the most successful production workflow which has provided over 64,000 error-free voice files to Alpine, Johnson Controls, IBM, deCarta, Boeing, Raytheon and others. In June, we completed a 22,400 voice file project recording "ordinary people" reading lines in eight languages to train computers to improve voice recognition scores.
Please call us at 818 841-9660 or 818 606-3538 to discuss how we can provide solutions for your voice file projects.
On a recent visit to Prague I was haunted by an immense statue on Vitkov Hill which overlooks the city.
It is of Jan Zizka, a Czech general and Hussite leader, who fought in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, with a Polish-Lithuanian army in defeating the Teutonic Order.
General Zizka is one of six commanders in history who were never defeated. The others, according to Wikipedia, were Alexander the Great, Scipio Africanus, Genghis Khan, Alexander Suvorov, and Khalid ibn al-Walid (although they are not counting arguments they had with their wives).
Today, the battles we fight are not on such a grand scale. We don't get a chance to fight the Teutonic Order but we're still in a fight for our lives in the corporate world. They're not big battles against massed troops. Today our enemies are the little mistakes that slip through the cracks. These errors that accumulate in our personnel folder and eventually determine our fate.
We at The Association prefer to believe that we are your strong ally as you wage your corporate battles by providing solutions to your challenges. We take full responsibility for projects and implement quality control measures to make sure the project's a success over time.
It all adds up to quality and sustainability.
OUR ATTITUDE - We take the attitude of General Žižka into every project.
When we're recording voice files, we don't have to pull out the battleaxe to ward of the Teutonic Order. The enemies of today are much smaller but just as lethal. We have to guard against errors creeping into the voice file set like:
- incorrect vocabulary tree syntax
- disjointed phrase lists
- improper parsing of english phrases causing difficulty in other languages
- incorrect grammar
- scripts not localized
- words skipped by voice talent
- excessive mouth clicks etc.
- inconsistent volume, tonality, cadence, diction, warmth, inflection
- deviations from the script
- mislabelled voice files
- missing voice files
When we began this work fourteen years ago as GPS systems were introduced to vehicles, we studied where errors creep in. We derived a checklist and workflow to detect and correct these errors. Richard Robinson, who produced voice files used in Great Britain's mass transit systems, was the primary architect of our production line. To augment his efforts, we introduced Quality Control checkpoints before, during and after the recording process.
And the last step on the checklist is for three of our QC people listen to all the voice files independently to make sure all files are recorded correctly, labelled as scripted and that they fit seamlessly with the files we've already produced.
As a result, we have maintained a 100% error free record since the beginning. We have never had to re-record a single voice file. Our clients have won the J.D. Power award for Excellence.
Here's an example of the seamless voice files we produce (short files combining to make a smooth sentence) versus disjointed files others produce.
Click HERE for DISJOINTED voice files.
Click HERE for SEAMLESS*, natural sounding voice files.
*Seamless Voice Files. The phrases we record combine seamlessly into a coherent pleasant sentence that sounds like it was recorded all at once.
The Association has been providing voice files for in-vehicle navigation systems the longest of any vendor, beginning with the Clarion/Microsoft Auto PC project in 1999, The Association has the most successful production workflow which has provided over 64,000 error-free voice files to Alpine, Johnson Controls, IBM, deCarta, Boeing, Raytheon and others. In June, we completed a 22,400 voice file project recording "ordinary people" reading lines in eight languages to train computers to improve voice recognition scores.
Please call us at 818 841-9660 or 818 606-3538 to discuss how we can provide solutions for your voice file projects.
It Doesn't Take Much Distraction to Cause a Fatal Accident
Speechtek magazine quotes Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of Global Automotive Research, J.D. Power, outlining the source of the consumer's frustartions,
To help computers understand "ordinary" humans better, The Association just finished a project recording over 22,000+ voice files of normal people from eight countries speaking 330 lines each. They were to use their "normal" speech, so we hired no professionals. But we did require they were no more than two generations from their native country. Luckily, we are headquartered in Hollywood, which has attracted a vast pool of foreign nationalities, so finding an ample supply of qualified voice speakers was not difficult.
Please call us at 818 841-9660 or 818 606-3538 to discuss how we can provide solutions for your voice file projects.
It doesn't seem entirely fair, does it?
If you're putting on events in order to close clients to use you for video production services, or whatever services you are selling, should you charge for them to attend? After all, if you get some clients out of the event, wouldn't that pay for the cost of the event?
Real Value and Perceived Value
There's a difference between real value and perceived value. How much value did you assign to an item that was given to you with no price tag attached? Chances are, if it was without sentimental value, it was assigned a low value. They say one's man's trash is another man's treasure; potential clients tend to perceive product and service value based on how much they pay for it, regardless of it's real value.
Obviously pricing your events at 1 million dollars per ticket is going to be out of range for most small or large businesses. So common sense is important. But to charge or not to charge is a decision event organizers have to make. Constant Contact, the online event system we use to register students for our Canon Boot Camps, reviewed 20,000 reasons potential registrants gave for declining event invitations, and discovered there were two main reasons:
- Time/Date conflicts
Out of the 20,000, less than 1% listed cost as a reason not to attend. That's pretty low!
If you're providing value, charge attendees. Attendees will perceive the value to be higher, pay more attention and treat you seriously. Appeal to a variety of budgets by including pricing strategies for several levels of attendees, such as listing Early Bird discounts, special pricing for existing customers/clients or referral discounts for those who help get more attendees through referrals.
Although events can be a lot of work, the relationships you build by meeting potential clients in person may be priceless.
Need an event solution? Try Constant Contact. They offer a free trial and clients have access to many useful webinars, tutorials and other resources, all in one place.
Pulling off a successful event requires some organization. A huge part of any successful event will be registering people who want to attend. When it comes to event registration, there are two basic ways to go: Offline, or Online.
Registration consists of capturing the identies of attendees so you can direct them properly and make sure they arrive. There's lot of ways to accomplish this task. Examples of offline methods would be the phone, email, snail mail (postcards, etc.), faxing and spreadsheets.
The challenge offline methods present is they are all indirect methods of registration. Once you get the data, someone still has to input it manually into a useful form everyone on the team can use on demand. After all, a bunch of registration postcards sitting in someone's desk drawer isn't going to do much good!
Online registration is usually accomplished with a web-based program that allows people to register for an event without you being around. Distinct advantages to online event registration are as follows:
- It's always on. Doesn't depend on your working hours.
- Streamlines the process - data is dumped straight into a database designed for the purpose.
- Other needed information, like meal requests or how they heard about your event, is easily obtained.
- There's no limit on how much information you can share about the event, as you're using a web-based page (virtual), not a flyer or postcard.
- Fees for a paid event can be collected using a variety of methods and tracked online.
- Related items can be pre-sold, such as t-shirts, prior to arrival, making planning easier.
- Keeping in touch with attendees is simple. Send an email with the touch of a virtual button.
- Social Media and other channels may be employed to promote the event, both by you and by the people who sign up.
The bottom line is that online registration can buy you time and make your life easier. Don't forget, you're going to have to deliver on the day of event. Wouldn't you rather be planning out the event content, instead of taking registrations over the phone or processing a bunch of email/paper requests?
There are a number of online event registration tools available. We've been using Constant Contact for all our Canon Boot Camp events very successfully. To find out more about Constant Contact's event services, click HERE. Stay tuned for the next Event Tips blog post where I discuss charging for events. The data might surprise you!
These are common questions that I have received many times while teaching the Cine Boot Camp. These are not your standard generic questions that you can find anywhere on the web, but very specific questions that I have answered.
On a 7D specifically
1. How do I see my histogram?
The histogram can not be seen live in the video mode, but can be seen live in the stills mode. So, switch to the stills side of the camera, press the live view button to see your screen on your LCD and press info until your histogram shows up.
On a 5D Mark II specifically:
2. I keep pressing the Info button but the histogram isn’t showing up. Why?
You need to set your camera up so that your histogram will show up. Go to your menu. Under Live View/Movie func. set. Go to LV func. setting and set your display as movie display.
3. Why can’t I see my videos in playback?
Go to your menu. Select Live View/Movie func. set. Go to “LV func. setting” and select "stills+movie", next select Movie Display under “Screen Settings”
All Canon HDSLRs
4. Why can’t I change my ISO?
You are probably not in Manual mode. Make sure your dial is set at “M”
5. Why can’t I change my exposure?
You are probably not in Manual mode. Make sure your dial is set at “M”
6. What happened to all my settings? I don’t recognize my settings!
You probably accidentally shifted to your dial to something besides “M”. One of the most common things that happens, especially on the 7D and 5D Mark II, is that the dial accidentally gets bumped.
7. Why is the movement of the video stuttering?
You may have accidentally put your shutter speed really high. The shutter speed is changed with the little wheel at the top right of you camera. You may have dialed it up while you were trying to change something else, such as your f-stop.
8. Why is my video so dark or very bright even though my ISO and f-stop are the proper setting?
You probably changed your shutter speed by accident. The shutter speed is changed with the little wheel at the top right of you camera. You may have dialed it up while you were trying to change something else, such as your f-stop.
9. Why can’t I take a picture of the white card for my custom white balance?
Your lens is probably on Auto Focus so it is looking for something to focus on, but can’t because there is nothing to focus on. Set you lens to Manual Focus and you’ll be able to take the still. Make sure you are properly exposed to achieve the correct custom white balance!
10. Why does my image exposure change when I move my camera from a dark environment to a lit environment and vice versa?
Your Auto Lighting Optimizer is on and needs to be disabled. Look under your menu settings to make the change.
Hopefully, this will help you solve some of the peskiest problems that you were not able to figure out!