March 7, 2014
GoPro In A Real Movie
Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut discusses the use of GoPro cameras in the shooting of Need For Speed ("one beautiful work of art" according to Mr. Hurlbut). You can watch the trailer for Need For Speed at that link and enjoy the rather obvious homage to Thelma and Louise, which I guess is not the end of the movie in this case. (Oh, wow, I hope that wasn't a spoiler for anyone who hasn't seen Thelma and Louise.)
But whacha really wanna see is this short video in which Mr. Hurlbut identifies all the cameras used. Boy, I'd like it if every cinematographer did something like this. You will see the GoPro comes in for only two quick shots.
Mr. Hurlbut says their goal was to use no CGI, no green screen. He doesn't say how successful they were at achieving that goal. In this article he shows how they attached GoPros using Gorilla Tape rather than gaffer tape. So maybe that Chevy will have tape glue left on it, but at least they didn't lose very many cameras.
"What inspired me about the GoPro is that we could not kill it. I mean, we went to extremes once we saw how powerful this tool was becoming — lighting them on fire, throwing them off bridges, grinding them into asphalt and dirt," he says. It had not occurred to me to try to burn my camera. Maybe at Burning Man this year there will be an art project that involves burning a lot of GoPro cameras while they are shooting. Then we'll see how rugged those microSD cards really are.
February 28, 2014
I Demand Literalness
Noah, The Movie will have a disclaimer saying it is not a verbatim re-telling of the Biblical story. I'm so disappointed. We finally have cinematic technology that will allow a depiction of the story as written. I want to see a boat built to the exact dimensions and then packed with more biomass than could be held in a hundred such boats. Either all the living stuff will have to be crushed to the density of a black hole, or it will all be stacked on the top deck to such a height that there is no way the boat could stay upright. Details on where they got the meat to feed the carnivores and the sanitary measures on board would really help the verisimilitude, too.
There are 7.77 million species of animals. Subtract those who live in water.
February 26, 2014
Dinah Shore Estate
The Real Estalker reports on the sale of the Dinah Shore estate in the Las Palmas neighborhood for $5,230,000. She includes a bundle of photos of the place that came from the real estate listing.
The 1.34 acre estate, in the heart of the fabled and celebrity-pedigreed Old Las Palmas 'hood, was custom designed as a series of glass-walled pavilions and built in the mid-1960s for the late and legendary singer/actress Dinah Shore by prominent mid-century modern architect Donald Wexler, now in his late 80s, who in his professional heyday plied his trade predominantly in and around the Palm Springs area.
She adds that all parties were required to sign confidentiality agreements, but passes along the rumor that the buyer is Leonardo DiCaprio.
February 25, 2014
Bryan Cranston! Also, in a supporting role, Godzilla:
February 24, 2014
Intrepid Explorers Discover Moviefone Is Not Really Quite Extinct - Yet
I can vaguely recall trying to use Moviefone via a real telephone many, many years ago. I was very surprised to read that the telephone version of Moviefone is still going, but will soon be killed off. AOL bought the company in 1999 for $388 million and then did a Yahoo! on it: allowing it to languish so that it would become a money-losing relic. Now AOL plans to drop the phone service and revise the internet service to either transform into something wonderfully new and useful, or just throw good money after bad. Anyone taking bets?
February 16, 2014
Visitors in 4K
Yesterday I saw Reggio's Visitors and am happy to report that it is much more than faces sliding across the screen, right to left. There are images of urban structures, nature scenes, a cemetery, crowds of people and the moon. I missed whatever credits that might have explained the source of the moon segments. Did Reggio (or one of his many producers) pay to have a 4K camera mounted on a lunar orbiter?
There might have been only a dozen people in the theater, but no one got up to leave when the credits started rolling. I don't think I've seen that at any other movie unless some celebrity was there to speak to the audience afterward.
The NY Times loves it with 5 stars. Roger Ebert liked it enough to give it 4 stars, but he needs to wipe his glasses. He thought the crowd scenes showed "a rush-hour crowd in a major metropolis." The scenes were shot in a studio and the clue to that is the people in the crowds are the very same people we see in individual close ups. Ebert also thought he saw "An inflatable dummy flops around on fan exhaust, presumably stationed outside some car dealership or strip mall lot." It was a crash test dummy that was being shaken around...probably in a studio. The background for all the studio scenes are solid black. The LA Times was not impressed and gave it 2½ stars. The Village Voice hates it and gives it only one star. Calum Marsh at the Voice hated it so much he spent the first four paragraphs of his seven paragraphs re-reviewing Koyaanisqatsi which he also hates. Possibly Marsh was traumatized as a child while viewing Koyaanisqatsi and hasn't gotten over it. "Visitors is a dull etch of digital blacks and grays." I did notice one credit for a "Colorist" at the end of the movie. I guess making sure your black & white is perfect would also require a colorist...at least in Hollywood. There probably is no separate category for a "Grayist."
4K resolution in Visitors is like taking the very best black and white photos you have ever seen that were shot by experts using a medium or large format film camera (I'm talking like Ansel Adams or the photography in National Geographic or some photos in old Life magazine) and then you blow those photos up to cover an entire wall and new detail appears to you. Early in the movie individual faces gradually appear in a slow fade up (is that the right term?) from a solid black screen. Gradually each face becomes completely clear and you think you're there...but a few seconds later you realize the image is getting still more clear as smaller and smaller details emerge. It's like somebody wiped the dust and grease off your HD TV screen and you realized you had been missing half the picture.
This Youtube video purports to be available in 4K, but you need a 4K monitor to appreciate it. And even then it will have undergone some compression, I'm sure, before becoming available on Youtube. Or, you can buy Timescapes. Soon 4K streaming will be available from Netflix for those who have 4K TVs and a 15.6Mbps connection. The video on the film's official website is far short of 4K.
Visitors is at the Landmark NuArt Theater in L.A. until Thursday February 20. It will continue to be shown in the U.S. until as late as the end of April 2014 in Williamsburg, Virginia. After that, maybe you'll have to wait for Netflix to stream it.
February 3, 2014
Effects Of LED Street Lighting In L.A.
An article at Curbed Los Angeles about how the new LED street lights in Los Angeles will change the look of future films. If you watch for accidental anachronisms in movies, this will be one more thing to look for.
February 2, 2014
Philip Seymour Hoffman Found Dead
The NY Post is reporting that Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead today, possibly due to a drug overdose. He had been in detox as recently as May 2013.
Law-enforcement officials said a hypodermic needle and two glassine envelopes containing what is believed to be heroin were found in the apartment on Bethune Street in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan.
The 46-year-old actor was found unconscious in the bathroom of his fourth floor apartment in the Pickwick House around 11:15 a.m. by screenwriter David Katz, who called 911, a law-enforcement official said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. "He had a needle sticking out of his arm," the official said.
January 24, 2014
One Drive-In Movie Theater To Be Re-opened
January 23, 2014
Reggio Again Again Again Again Again Again
Visitors - with Glass again again again again again again.
If you loved the 'Qatsi trilogy (or some part of it), you'll pay money to see this too.
Variety says it had a world premiere in September 2013, but it's only hitting theaters now (or tomorrow).
More than ever with Reggio’s oeuvre, the viewing experience here requires patience as well as an openness to contemplation. The swelling, repetitive structure of the music works hand-in-hand with the visuals to facilitate this shift to a different level of consciousness, but what it’s all about will remain a matter of individual associations and connections. Walkouts and snores are to be expected, although those on the film’s meditative wavelength will be held rapt.
This is your chance to see real 4K in a cinema. "Far ahead of the curve technically, the pic requires 4K digital projection, which will provide 4,000 pixels of visual resolution as opposed to the 1,000 pixels of standard HD."
The earliest, closest regular showing that I could find will be at the Landmark NuArt Theatre on February 14. BUT LACMA will be hosting a FREE (did I say free? Yes I said free!) showing on February 6 which "includes a conversation with director Godfrey Reggio." When I first read that, I assumed it meant Mr. Reggio would be at LACMA to speak. But it doesn't actually say that. So maybe the "conversation" is an interview that has already been filmed, or maybe Mr. Reggio will Skype in from somewhere else, or maybe he will really really be there.
Here's the website for the movie where you can get a list of opening dates for several cities. It won't open in Boston until March 14 at the Kendall. Wow, what did Boston do to piss somebody off? Or maybe, since it's nearly at the end of the schedule of showings, they hope to be able to park it at the Kendall and show it for months and months and months. It is Cambridge, after all.
Check this out, IMDB lists 11 people with "producer" in their title for this film: 3 associates, 2 executives and 6 plain ol' producers.
According to the Wall Street Journal it was edited on some Macs:
To realize Mr. Reggio's vision on a $6 million budget posed a series of challenges, not only in the digital manipulation of nearly all the images, but in generating the final product in higher resolution. "We hot-wired the Macs to deal with the tremendous amount of computing power we needed," said [film editor Jon] Kane. "There's no one crazy enough to do that."
That would have been before the latest Mac Pro came out. I don't know exactly what hot-wired Macs would look like. It makes me think of battery cables and a dirty screwdriver.
The review in the NY Times reveals that the film is not 100% face shots.
The human faces are contrasted with recurrent images of an abandoned amusement park and of a large, empty building that resembles an institution of some sort. There is a sequence, filmed in Louisiana bayou country, of trees growing in water. Shots of the moon's pockmarked surface suggest that "Visitors" is a journey to the moon and back. The title evokes science fiction, and the gorilla echoes "2001: A Space Odyssey."