Sunday, September 29, 2013

Go Pro

The new gadget that every film maker seems to want to get their hands on is the Go Pro. The Go Pro camera, for those of you who don't know what it is, is a small compact action sport camera. It comes with a water proof case and there are a lot of different mounts you can buy or make to get various angles and perspectives. There is so much you can do with these little things.

A few summers ago I went to Hawaii for a soccer tournament and I figured the next time I will be going to Hawaii could be a while and I needed some sort of way to document my trip. What better way then with a Go Pro. So I went out and bought one and the capabilities of this camera are impeccable. You can record in 1080p, take pictures, create time lapses, record slow motion and so much more. I did a lot of snorkeling while I was in Hawaii and I got some pretty cool footage. But I was still wondering how come the commercials look so much better then what I'm shooting. After doing a bit of research I figured out that I have that full capability but it takes a lot of work. A lot of post production goes into the go pro videos. This includes color correction, image stabilization, and long hours editing to music cues. Another factor is that the resources Go Pro has as a company is much more then what I have. They can afford to go out to the best snorkeling area in the world and get those beautiful under water shots that are only going to be in the video for 15 seconds. They also have the access to more then one Go Pro so instead of just having a POV shot from a camera being mounted on a skiers helmet, they can place a camera on the athlete's chest, ski, pole, an helmet and really switch between those four different shots to capture the experience of skiing down a huge mountain. The commercials Go Pro produce are by far the most creative and beautiful commercials that air on television. Between the different angles the athletes get, the beautiful places the footage is shot, and the amazing editing the commercials are very enjoyable to watch. Below you can watch their newest commercial for the Go Pro Hero 3.

The video below is my own video that I filmed this summer of a sunset. I used the time lapse feature on my go pro and the video came out pretty good. This time lapse consists of about 3000 something pictures. My one complaint with this video is that the sun looks grainy, but I believe these time lapses will improve the more I do them.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Inspiration Behind Hugo

     Recently, I sat down to watch Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. Set in Paris during the 1930’s, Hugo follows the story of Hugo Cabret, an orphan boy who fixes clocks in a train station. In his spare time, Hugo works to build an automaton using plans from his deceased father’s notebook. In an attempt to acquire the parts necessary to complete his automaton, Hugo begins to steal from Papa Georges, who runs a local toy store. Eventually, Hugo discovers that Georges’ daughter, Isabelle, wears a necklace that contains the last part needed to complete his robot. After befriending Isabelle and convincing her to give him the necklace, Hugo is finally able to complete his machine. Eventually, after being tipped off by the drawing that his automaton produced, Hugo and Isabelle discover that Papa Georges is actually film pioneer Georges Melies. After World War I, Georges’ films became so unpopular that he was forced change professions. In the end, Georges adopts Hugo and regains prominence in the film industry.

     Although I enjoyed the plot of Hugo, what I appreciated most about this film was its nods to early films that laid the foundation for the industry we know and love today. Among the films alluded to in Hugo are Safety Last, Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory, The Great Train Robbery, and The Music Lover, amongst others. However, the most important film referred to in Hugo is A Trip to the Moon, a groundbreaking film that helps to shape the plot of the movie. In addition to recreating the feel and scenes of several of the most important films in early cinematic history, I was very intrigued by the automaton used in Hugo. After doing more research into the subject, I was blown away at how complex most of these machines were, especially given the limited technology during the time that most of them were created.  One automaton in particular that impressed me, and likely inspired the one in Hugo, is “The Writer,” created by the Jaquet-Droz family during the 18th century. Like the robot in the film, “The Writer” was able to produce a custom letter up to 40 letters long.

Why "Pas de deux" is Comparable to Chocolate Covered Bacon

I love short films. They're the Hershey's Miniatures of movies. You watch them when you just can't fit a feature length film into your diet. Not only are they convenient and compact, but they come in any flavor you could ask for. Craving animation? Try Paperman. Looking to try a silent mystery? Sherlock Jr 's the one you want. Or maybe you're a fan of the classics: A Trip to the Moon. Despite your personal taste in genres, like Hershey's Miniatures, you can't just have one. [Side-note: If you happen to be one of the rare individuals that can eat just one of these delicious chocolates I envy your self-control. Also there might be something inherently wrong with you. Sorry.]

Anyway, during one of my short film binges, I came across Pas de deux. Keeping with my chocolate analogy, Pas de deux could be compared to chocolate covered bacon. Would I eat it again? No. Do I admire the originality of the composition? Absolutely.

Directed by Canadian filmmaker, Norman McLaren, Pas de deux was embraced instantly by the filmmaking community. Not only did it receive 17 awards, (one including the 1969 BAFTA award for Best Animated Film), it was also nominated for an Academy Award. The short is an interpretation of a ballet-style dance called, get this: the Pas de deux. Content, however, is not what launched McLaren's piece into movie history. The real beauty lay in the filmmaker's extraordinary method of production.

The Canadian cinematographer used light and photography to create a stroboscopic collection of images. First, McLaren took photograph after photograph of the dancer/s; backlit and in front of a black backdrop. This lighting scheme, along with his choice of high contrast stock, contributed to the piece's radical overall look. This ain't your run of the mill Instagram filter.

Then, using the "step and repeat" process and an optical printer, McLaren overlaid the photographs to great some of the most interesting and surreal cinematography I've seen. I can not help but to deeply admire the fact that Norman McLaren manually did the job of both the videocamera, and the editing software.

Regardless of whether you're discussing movies or chocolate; one thing can be said of both. You don't need to consume a whole portion to appreciate the taste.

Julien Donkey-Boy

Director Harmony Korine has currently been in the spotlight for his most recent film, Spring Breakers. I wasn't crazy about that film, but I really enjoyed the production of the film, and thought it had a very unique look to it. After doing some research, I found out that most of his old films are all experimental; Gummo, Mister Lonely, Trash Humpers, etc. One of his films that got my attention was Julien Donkey Boy, a story about a schizophrenic boy in a rather disturbed family.

It was filmed on a MiniDV Tape recorder, transfered onto 16mm film, and then blown up to 35mm film. The end result is a grainy, distorted picture. I found that it both drew me into the film and made it difficult to watch, which left me feeling rather out of place while watching it. In my opinion, that is exactly where the director wanted the viewer to be. The film's score is as disturbing as some of the footage looks; loud opera music that goes in and out of high volume and ends suddenly. There are a lot of jump cuts and still photos used in the film, which is something you rarely see these days, and something that took a while to get used to.

These effects together created the work of art that is Julien Donkey-Boy. It makes you almost feel schizophrenic just by watching it, the fogginess makes you unsure of what you are looking at, voices seem to appear out of nowhere, and memories only come through in pieces. If you are interested in experimental films, in both the way they are filmed and subject matter, I would highly recommend this film.

Justin Bieber's Interview with Zach Gilafinakis

               The other night I saw a video that was all over Facebook and Youtube called "Justin Beiber Whipped by Belt by Zach Gilafinakis on Funny or Die". This just happened to be the company who shot one of their videos here at the Park Auditorium of Ithaca College. The interview was not a typical personal question and answer segment like you would see with most other celebrities. The entire video was based on making fun of Justin Bieber's career, which is what I found most interesting and even a bit peculiar. Just obviously new what was going to be said, which is why I admire him still going through with it because it truly was extremely hilarious.

  Bieber keeps a straight face the whole time and remained very serious which is something that made the whole video that much more amusing. My favorite question that the Hangover star, Zach Gilafinakis asks the pop star is "You've had three hair styles. What's next for your career?" He just says is so nonchalantly as if the star has not accomplished anything else other then his hairstyle changes. Jokes similar to this go on throughout the whole thing. It was extremely comical up to the ending which Gilafinakis takes off his belt to whip Beiber. All in all I think it was a great interview that served it's purpose to create humor with Bieber, who did take all the jokes pretty well by staying calm and collected and even ragging on the host every once and a while.

Passion Pit - "Cry Like a Ghost" Music Video

The music video for Passion Pit's "Cry Like a Ghost" is really amazing, and I can't stop watching it. Directed by DANIELS (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), this music video tells the emotional and confusing story of Sylvia, a girl trying to find her way through different relationships. The amazing part of this video is that the entire story is told through dance. The directing was well-coordinated and planned, as everything had to be timed correctly. The lighting and special effects enhanced the mood and helped tell the story.

Using fast-forward, slow-motion, rewinding, and repeating, Sylvia plunges into several different relationships. The viewer sees the happy beginnings, confusing and unsettling middles, and abrupt and heart-breaking endings to all of them. All through dance.

Tallie Medel choreographed the entire music video and is Sylvia. She graduated from Emerson College with a BA in Theatre Education with an Acting emphasis.

Here's the music video:

You can also take a look at the behind the scenes and hear what DANIELS has to say:

And if you like it a lot, they have an extended cut you can watch that gives a nice introduction to the character of Sylvia through a montage.

Greatest Guerrilla Ever

A film all about Disney World, shot inside Disney World, without Disney's permission. 
This is "Escape From Tomorrow"

People shoot videos at Disney World all the time, often times documenting their vacations and the fun things they did in the park. There is no way Disney could ban recording devices from the park without a major backlash. But that being said, there are certain things that they don't want filmed, such as behind the scenes places or closed buildings. This doesn't stop people from trying to get footage, but Disney keeps a watchful eye to make sure they don't get very far.
A notable example of this is "Adam the Woo" (One of his videos is posted above), who has snooped around Disney with his camera so much, that they banned him from Disney World entirely.

So what would happen if somebody decided to shoot an entire movie there, without Disney finding out?
Well, one of this year's Sundance films did just that.

"Escape From Tomorrow" follows a father on vacation with his family at Disney World, and delves into the mental breakdown he has while in the park. The filmmakers got themselves under Disney's radar while shooting, using iPhones and handheld cameras as to not rouse suspicion. Whether or not Disney will try and keep this movie from bring distributed to wider audiences is unknown. Untill we find out, we have the trailer:

More Electronic Music

Alright, I know this is my second blog post about electronic music but I could not pass this one up.  Earlier this week the artist known at Zedd released the music video to his chart topping new single "Stay the Night." This song and video features the talented Hayley Williams, lead singer of the band Paramore and has been on constant repeat on my phone since it released.  Enough about the music, on to the video.

This has to be one of the most visually complex and stunning music videos I have ever seen.  From the lighting effects to the choreography, this music video drew me in within the first 10 seconds.  I think the aspect I find most intriguing is the lagging motion effect used on the male and female leads. So give this video a watch and check out the madness!

Incredible Cinematic Work by Sherpas Cinema

               From the creators of the award winning action sports film "All.I.Can,"Sherpas Cinema brings you "Into The Mind,an extraordinary look inside the minds of various skiers attempting some of the worlds greatest terrain. As they plummet down the side of some of the biggest mountains in the world the stunning cinematography not only captures the incredible feats of courage but also paints a story that ultimately tells the struggle of man to gauge risk versus reward. As the trailer progresses you will see the film has done an excellent job to take you along for the journey giving you the audience an inside look at the way these top athletes perceive the challenges they engage in. The plot offers a   spiritual like vibe that adds to the sublime feeling you may get throughout the course of the trailer. Every single aspect of this film is unique for its genre but the endless use of POV shots gives the video the extra edge making you feel much closer to the action. This action sports film does a superb job to show how the risks these athletes are taking are not only risks of physical feat but also of mental conquest.  Additionally this may be the greatest action sports film ever created and I think you will agree once you take a sneak peek. Presented by NorthFace, "Into the Mind" will be available in the Fall of 2013 and is currently available to pre-order at


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Side by Side

   We have reached a new age of cinema in which film is no longer film. Not that we don't call them film or that we don't reference movies as film but the plain and simple fact that most movies are not shot on film. Digital technology has reached a point where its resolution and image quality has surpassed that of film negatives. But in many peoples' minds this is only an opinion. Some cinematographers and directors are stating that you can pry film from their cold dead hands. 
    The evolution of film to digital is an amazing story and without truly understanding film you won't understand digital cameras. Everything in digital cameras are based on how film was recorded especially specific settings such as, shutter speed, aperture, ISO and even many more things. You need to study the past to truly understand the future.
   The documentary Side by Side takes you on a journey from film cinema to the digital age we are currently in now. The story touches on subjects such as color correction, cgi, original "films" shot on video and even more. Better yet the documentary is told by those who actually fought for and against the revolution of film into digital media. I personally have seen this documentary over a dozen times and consider it a huge part in my understanding of cinema today. If you have a netflix account, it streams. Take the journey from where we were to where we are now.


"The Conjuring"

"The Conjuring"

This summer a terrifying supernatural horror thriller hit theatres across the country.  “The Conjuring”, directed by James Wan, takes the viewer is back to 1971 and features the Perron family in Harrisville, Rhode Island.  Carolyn and Roger Perron move into a dilapidated farmhouse with their five daughters in hopes of a fresh start. However, disturbing events begin to occur to the family, in which they seek the help of the Warrens’, who are trained paranormal investigators.

This film has been given great reviews by critics. Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie review site, gave “The Conjuring” 86% of the reviews to be positive. The use of unique camera angles, haunting music, dim lighting, and actual sound clips of the real investigation creates an unsettling and compelling movie to watch. James Wan stated that he had “never explored the chance to tell a story based on real-life characters” and was excited to being production. This thriller intensifies knowing that these events were based on a true story.

Scary movie fans all over will be pleased with the outcome of this psychological thriller. Make sure your nightlights are plugged and your teddy bears are close because “The Conjuring” may just follow you home. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A functional audio interface, perfect for a college student

A popular audio recording app, Rode Rec, just got completely renovated and revamped. Rode Rec is an app for your ipad or iphone(currently unavailable to android users like myself), that turns your phone into a fully functional audio interface. It comes with options and abilities that professional audio interfaces have.
Rode Rec 2.8 gives you the ability to:
-Record at various sample rates
-Choose stereo vs. mono
-Control of your input & output signal
-Versatile compression and expansion controls
-Extensive "Rode Rec" equalizer
-iZotope presets for various scenarios
-and more

After you finish recording your audio, Rode Rec even has a built in sound editor. The sound editor program seems very in-depth for a phone editing program, but I'm sure it can not compare to any industry standard programs. Regardless, it would probably work in a pinch. With the Rode Rec editor you can:
-Edit with a trim tool
-Create basic or complex fades
-Create markers and regions
-Share directly to sites like Dropbox and Soundcloud
-Export in 9 different file formats

Rode Rec also sells lavalier mics that are made specifically for this app and your iphone which can be found here. In combination with the mic this app seems very practical. The biggest problem I see is that, depending on the situation, it will be very difficult to monitor your levels while you are recording, but there are ways to work around that.

I love that the industry is creating affordable alternatives that will produce a competing product, for simple use right on your iphone. I am excited to see what similar apps will be released in the near future. Here is a video directly from Rode Rec to learn more.

Introducing RØDE Rec 2.8 from RØDE Microphones on Vimeo.

(I tried to embed but couldn't get it to work with vimeo)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Marvel & Avenger Fans Will Love This

Fans of the Marvel movies or simply Avenger fans have much in stored! From Josh Whedon, and the Director of Marvels The Avengers, the newly much anticipated series Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D premieres on ABC September 24 at 8/7c. Before the last battle of New York we see agent Coulson die, a tragedy to all fans who loved and supported his character. Well good new he's back from the dead to star in this up coming American television series. From the limited information that has been leaked this show it is not a spin off that is unrelated to the movies! Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D works in current time with the movies. It's in direct continuity with the movies. This show is about a hand selected, "non-super",  group of people that are called upon to see about old and new opposing threats to the Earth. Humans are now aware that people from other planets exists while others with supernatural powers live and breath among them. It shows how, the "extras" from the Marvel superhero movies, are coping and living day to day with this new found realization. It's an exciting new show that doesn't seem to compare to any other show on television so far.

Analyzing Camera Work in 'I Love Sarah Jane'

**Contains spoilers**

I love Sarah Jane, by Spencer Susser, follows a pre-pubescent boy living in a zombie apocalypse whose only care is for his crush on teenager Sarah Jane. The short film introduces the viewer to the mellow, despairing mood of the film by starting off with the sound of a rickety bicycle over a blank screen. The scene opens to a foggy street full of garbage and debris, and here we meet the backside of a boy on a bicycle, Jimbo. The grey sky, mellow/sad music, and garbage-strewn ground indicate that something bad is happening in the world this boy lives in. In a long shot of Jimbo riding through the street, these suspicions are proven correct when we see a turned-over car and a torn-apart body, to which Jimbo gives no reaction.

When Jimbo reaches his destination, two techniques are used to distance the viewer from Jimbo's story: First, Jimbo is shown in an extreme long shot from behind a fence, and second, when Jimbo is looking at a picture of Sarah Jane, we see a close up of his face from an angle that prevents the viewer from seeing any emotion, with his cheek as the dominating feature of the shot. Jimbo and the bully boy are shown walking along a road from an extreme long shot, leaving the viewer with an ominous feeling, for the fog continues, the sky is cloudy grey, and a small field containing piles of debris stands between the boys and the camera, further distancing the viewer from these boys' lives.

Though these boys' entire existence is threatened by the zombie apocalypse, it is the bully boy who is depicted as a savage. Upon arriving at the yard that contains a zombie, the boy takes off his hat and shirt, throwing them to the ground, and proceeds to shove and tease the zombie, riling him up. Later, Susser makes a point to show the viewer the cuts and wounds on the boy's naked chest, indicating is savagery and passion for violence. When we are introduced to Sarah, she is sitting in front of a window, the sunlight shining on her. This, as well as her light-colored hair and shirt, make her the brightest thing in the film, as well as the most hopeful thing in Jimbo's hopeless life. Throughout Sarah and Jimbo's tension-filled conversation, every shot of each character has something between the character and the camera, distancing us from the emotions of the characters. We are finally invited into the emotion when we are shown a non-disrupted close-up of Sarah's reaction to Jimbo's news that his family is dead. The camera lingers on Sarah's face as her anger and pain increases the longer she looks at Jimbo, inviting the viewer to share her pain. The moment the viewer is given with Sarah is interrupted when Jimbo stands up and blocks Sarah's face. Jimbo steals the moment back from the viewer, once again making it his own.

Jimbo and Sarah's moment is interrupted by the sound of an explosion, and the light from the window shines on Sarah's face as she looks outside, again illustrating her as the brightest character. The camera follows Sarah and Jimbo outside, where Sarah reveals that the zombie being tormented is her father. The camera reflects Sarah's anger and distress as it quickly swivels back and forth between characters as they argue, never focusing on one character for long.

In the conclusion of the film, Sarah stands over her zombie father with a shovel. She is reluctant. Her pent-up emotions rise in this moment, and we see a pained expression on her face. This is shown in a medium-shot of her profile, with her arm slightly blocking her face, telling the viewer that his is Sarah's moment, and we are not welcome, we are nearly invading.

If you like Susser's work in I Love Sarah Jane, you can check him out more in his first feature-length film, Hesher, starring Joseph Gorden-Levitt and Natalie Portman, and Lana Del Ray's music video for "Summertime Sadness."

Friday, September 20, 2013

How would it feel to win the Lottery?

I'm a big fan of ABC television series. I'm constantly impressed with the shows they are coming out with and I'm especially excited to see the new series executive-produced by Steven Spielberg. It's a new Drama series about seven gas station employees in Queens, New York, who have been chipping into a lottery pool for years, never thinking they'd actually win. With some luck they actually win. This show reveals the life changing events of theses characters and their secrets that are now exposed. People think their lives change when you win the lottery and it solves all your money problems but there is always another side to things and "Luck 7" shows that.

This new series hits ABC this fall, premiering Tuesday, September 24 at 10. Lucky 7, is based off the hit British show "The Syndicate", written by David Zabel and Jason Richman executive produced by Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey, Zabel and Richman. This is a show you don't want to miss! Tune in and watch!

The Spectacular Now... Not So Spectacular

I went to Cinemapolis recently to see The Spectacular Now, directed by James Ponsoldt. The screenplay was written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the writers of (500) Days of Summer, which is one of my all time favorite movies. With this in mind, I had very high expectations for this movie.

To start off my critique, I will first say that the acting by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) was great. Miles Teller played Sutter, a confused alcoholic high school senior who meets Aimee, played by Shailene Woodley. Aimee is a "not-so-typical nice girl," who influences Sutter and changes his philosophy on life. It all sounds like a great movie, but the way it was portrayed did not do it for me.

Sutter was not a likable character at all in the beginning, so I was hoping for a drastic change by the end. But there was barely a change. The slight change that did occur wasn't until the last five minutes of the movie. This caused the ending to feel abrupt and incomplete. Aimee was very sweet and an interesting girl, but some of her actions were not very realistic.

The dialogue was good, but the movie as a whole did not flow. It seemed to jump around from scene to scene and made me slightly confused. Just one example of this was when Sutter was trying to get into a bar without an I.D. and the bouncer kept rejecting him. Cut to: Sutter is in the bar having drinks with a group of girls. So... how did he get in? I understand that movies can't show everything and have to cut things out, but a lot of it seemed very disconnected.

Another aspect I was not very fond of was the overall plot. A lot of things were left open ended, which works sometimes, but I did not feel any resolution for anything. Sutter has a little speech at the end (as a voiceover) in which he talks about how he's changed. But the movie never really shows that he changed. I also felt throughout the whole movie, Sutter did not sincerely like Aimee. He was just "doing her a favor." There was just not enough of a turnaround for his character in the end.

I wanted to like this movie so badly, but I just didn't. I would watch the movie again to see if it grows on me at all. I mean, look how good the trailer is:

MoVI: May Your Shots Forever be Stable

A large part of what separates the amateurs from the professionals in the visual media industry is how smooth the shots look. When you think about it; it makes sense. As of now, steadicams, (currently the easiest way to achieve these seductive, sweeping shots) go anywhere from $150 to over $10,000. Your average Joe isn't about to dish out a thousand dollars for smooth shots when he's got a built in stabilizer on his T3i. However, in the future we might see a steady drop in the price of steadicams with the introduction of the Freefly MoVI rig.

So you may be thinking, "What's so revolutionary about the MoVI?" This video will clear up any questions you may have:

One thing I found particularly intriguing about the MoVI rig is it's ability to not only be operated by one person, but also operated dually. Much like how a follow focus could be focusing a camera from another room, the MoVI allows one person to follow the action with the camera while another sits somewhere else concentrating entirely on framing. 

Secondly, even those looking for that, shaky, running with the camera look can find the MoVI rig useful. For example,  the MoVI M10 offers a user adjusted shakey cam that allows the operator to shoot with consistent, realistic movement. Who would have thought that a device could be so good at being smooth that a shakey camera would be considered a feature?

Below I attached the link that directs you to Laforet's finished video. Keep in mind, the short was made for the purpose of displaying the MoVI's abilities. Therefore, the plot of the video is fairly lacking and in itself not so interesting. However, when focusing on the shots one can easily see the upgrade in production quality the MoVI brings to the table. As of now, a MoVI rig goes for about $15000. However, I doubt it will be long before similar rigs aimed towards consumers come unto the market. Knowing this, one must question how much longer the line separating amateur productions from professional productions will remain in tact.

Lighting in A Clockwork Orange

The name Stanley Kubrick is synonymous with innovation both on the screen and off. He was the first to bring the steadicam onto the scene for the filming of The Shining, and has also created other tools and techniques that make his films stand out as some of the best. As I was re-watching the cult classic A Clockwork Orange, I couldn't help but notice one specific scene where there appeared to be no set up lights, which I found astonishing.

The scene where Little Alex chases, and subsequently murders the Cat Lady is shot on a handheld 18mm Arriflex camera, and involves him moving around the room as the scene unfolds. The camera focuses on all four walls at some point throughout the shot, which means it would be impossible to set up lights in the room (you can see the ceiling too). Kubrick used his innovation, and actually included illuminated sculptures around the walls, which ended up lighting the room perfectly, and was soft enough to cast no shadows, including his own as he moved around the room.

This was not the first time Kubrick had used this technique; he used similar lighting in the war room in Dr. Strangelove and the circular space ship in 2001. I really like the whole aspect of him building the lighting into the scene as opposed to using set lighting. It adds a certain realistic and natural quality to the scene which in my opinion makes this shot rather eerie.

Chasing Ice

"Chasing Ice" is a breathtaking documentary that follows photographer James Balog and his crew as they attempt to document the effects of global warming on glaciers in the northern hemisphere. As someone who initially questioned the existence of global warming himself, James realized that it was crucial to obtain visual evidence of this phenomenon. As a result, James founded the Extreme Ice Survey in 2007. The goal of this project was to place time-lapse cameras at various glaciers in places like Alaska, Greenland, and Iceland. These cameras would take a picture every 30 minutes during the day and capture the changes the glaciers were experiencing.

While the idea was sound, there were a lot of hurdles that had to be overcome to make EIS possible. For example, the time-lapse cameras were not made to withstand that extreme elements of glacier environments. As a result, they had to be tweaked and, at times, replaced throughout the project. Additionally, trekking to the glaciers to set up the cameras proved to be a difficult task. Although "Chasing Ice" documents the changes in the glaciers themselves, director Jeff Orlowski focuses heavily on the behind-the-scenes planning and execution of project EIS.

The things that struck me the most about "Chasing Ice" was the mesmerizing imagery. Very few people have visited the areas filmed in this documentary. As a result of being virtually untouched by humans, it almost appeared as if "Chasing Ice" took place on a foreign planet. For many of the shots, there was nothing but pure, white snow as far as the eye could see. Additionally, the water was so clear and blue that it almost didn't look real. I especially appreciated the arial shots of these crystal-clear rivers running through the middle of gargantuan glaciers.

After taking pictures for several years, EIS compiled all the images into one large time-lapse video. The results were amazing and, in my opinion, provided definitive proof of global warming. The degree at which the glaciers had melted in just a few years was staggering. As seen in the video above, EIS was also holds the record for filming the largest glacier calving ever. Even if someone still doesn't believe in global warming after watching this documentary, it undoubtedly provoked thought on this very serious subject matter.

Grand Theft Auto Five

Now I know video games don't technically fall under the category of "Television and Radio," but Grand Theft Auto Five is something worth talking about. If you've never played Grand Theft Auto I'll do my best to sum it up for you; you can do anything you want, as long as its violent...and its fun as hell. In GTA5 you can do everything from get eaten by a shark, to stealing a car, to taking on an entire police force single handedly.

With the standards video games are made at now, the line between video games and movies is becoming blurred. Often video games will feature long, in-depth, and extremely complicated plot lines, ones that often rival those of movies. Some video games, such as L.A. Noire used live actors for the cut scenes and game play, then using facial recognition and other software put them into the game. More about the process can be seen here:

The amount of work being put into video games is clearly paying off. Grand Theft Auto 5 reached $1 Billion dollars in sales in three days, a feat that took movies like Avatar, Harry Potter, and The Avengers, 17 days to do. This poses a question of which direction entertainment media will go, and what will be the future choice method of entertainment.

Here is a preview for Grand Theft Auto Five:

My Fascination with Cameo Appearance

           So this week I thought I would talk a little bit about my love for cameo appearance, specifically the use of this technique in films directed by Hitchcock. This technique is truly a trademark for an iconic director. Hitchcock began appearing in his films at an early stage in his directing career due to a lack of extras for crowd scenes but since then it has become a medium within a medium while watching a Hitchcock film. Of course when I say it has become its own medium I mean that its like a game trying to find Hitchcock similar to finding an item, object or person in a classic I spy book. Additionally the incorporation of Hitchcock in his films sometimes foreshadows an upcoming event in the plot. The cameo appearances I am highlighting in this section of the post is how Hitchcock acts as a sort of omen.  The use of cameo appearance creates a multi-puporse effect for the audience which not only can be an omen or a trademark but even a means of self promotion. Hitchcock was really the first director to capture the attention of the audience and establish a relationship by creating a persona within his films.  More importantly I feel that Hitchcock makes the audience aware of the director which many other films fail to do. Here is a few examples of how the cameo appearance technique shapes the way in which we the audience perceive the film:

A quick video of Hitchcock's cameo appearance in Psycho (1960) one of my all time favorite films by him.


Another classic Alfred Hitchcock cameo in The Lodger (1927)


Lastly I will leave you with a compilation of Hitchcock cameo appearances, Enjoy!


The World's End

At first glance, Edgar Wright's newest film The World's End seems to be a simple and predictable story of a group of friends trying to survive the night after their town has been taken over by aliens. The film however, the film is anything but simple. Edgar Wright, known for his other genre riffs Shaun of The Dead and Hot Fuzz is known for putting insane amounts of detail into his film along will mass amounts of allusions and references. In The World's End, five friends find themselves trying to recreate a pub crawl that they failed to complete years earlier. At first the pub names seem irrelevant but a close eyed viewer would realize that the name of each pub corresponds with events that take place in said pub. Also hidden in each pub scene is the number corresponding to which number pub they are at in their crawl (the 3rd pub they visit has the number 4 hidden somewhere in the scene such as on signs or the menu. The film has massive amounts of brick jokes, ie. jokes that take a long time for the punchline to hit or finish. In one minor spoiler a character tells people a lie that his mother died only for at the very end of the film a character to mention that his mother died later on. Along with many visual nods and gags there are also lots of spoken gags. In fact in each of Edgar Wright's films save Scott Pilgrim, one character gives a short monologue that will it may not seem it at the time, gives away the entire plot of the film. I don't want to give away any spoilers but I highly recommend watching the film multiple times and listening and watching closely to everything you see on screen as it may..actually will be important later on.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Favorite Filmmaker

    This past summer I had the overwhelming luck and privilege to obtain a post production internship in New York City. The only problem was that its a two hour commute to and from the city three days a week. Nonetheless I took it. To fill my long hours on the bus I began reading a lot of articles on the bus. Not just newspaper articles but articles on filmmaking, lighting, post production workflow, raw imaging, lenses, cameras, and many others. I would load 15 articles onto my laptop before I left my house and would read them all the way to the city. You're probably wondering what this has to do with my favorite filmmaker? I'm getting there. Whilst looking for articles I stumbled upon the blog of a freelance British videographer by the name of Phillip Bloom. I was instantly hooked.
    Since that day I must have read over 100 posts and watched even more of his videos. His composition, lighting, and shooting style amaze me every time, but its not just the amazing videos its the passion he puts behind each post he writes. He puts his personal experiences, some of which are heart wrenching stories that some would never even think about writing for public eyes. All for the good of educating, as much as he can, the community we are all a part of. He puts himself out for the world to see and it makes him that much more honorable.
    Thats why in my opinion he films people so well. It's easy to actually film a person but to be able to capture the person's soul, passion, and aura is a whole different story. Some of Phillip's best videos in my opinion are those with phenomenal characters one on one with the camera. No two are similar and every one of these videos he does is specifically catered to the subject in question. This sounds like a no brainer but i've seen very few people who do this as well as he does. It takes a talented person to truly be able to fully show another's passion through a lens. This is why Phillip Bloom is my favorite filmmaker.

Great Wooden Boats: RED EPIC from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Portrait of a boxer 2013: FilmConvert B&W version from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Portrait of a Percussionist from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Portrait of a projectionist from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

A day at the races from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.