Friday, November 29, 2013

'No Animals Were Harmed'

During a break in the filming of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 27 animals died from dehydration or drowning on an unmonitored farm. The Hollywood Reporter talked to John Smythe, a trainer, and they reported, "an AHA (American Humane Association) official told him the lack of physical evidence would make it difficult to investigate. When he replied that he had buried the animals himself and knew their location, the official then told him that because the deaths had taken place during the hiatus, the AHA had no jurisdiction. The AHA eventually bestowed a carefully worded credit that noted it “monitored all of the significant animal action. No animals were harmed during such action.”

Another investigation was on Ang Lee's Life of Pi. An email from an AHA monitor, Gina Johnson, was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. The email stated, "Last week we almost f-ing killed King in the water tank." Although the tiger was created with CGI for most scenes, King, a very much alive tiger, was used when it would work. One of the takes when King was in the water, he got lost and "damn near drowned." Johnson continued in the email, “I think this goes without saying but DON’T MENTION IT TO ANYONE, ESPECIALLY THE OFFICE! I have downplayed the f— out of it.”

Johnson was also intimately involved with one of the high-ranking production executives on Life of Pi. The AHA found out about this relationship and the email. However, Life of Pi was still awarded the "No Animals Were Harmed" credit.

These are only two of the cases out of many. Audiences should not necessarily buy into that credit when it is seen at the end of movies. The AHA has awarded this credit to films in which animals have been harmed, defending this by saying the animals were not intentionally harmed or it happened while the cameras were not rolling.

On the set of Disney's Eight Below, a husky dog was punched repeatedly in its diaphragm, apparently in order to stop a dog fight. During a Kmart commercial shoot, a 5-foot-long shark died after being placed in a small inflatable pool. The list goes on and on. Read the whole investigation by The Hollywood Reporter here.

The American Humane Association is the only officially-sanctioned animal monitoring program. If the AHA is not following their own guidelines and rules, then who is going to protect the animals? I understand that accidents are going to happen. But the AHA is not carrying out what they promised, and that's my problem with it.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thor: The Dark World

Last we saw our god of thunder hero he had helped save New York and took Loki back to Asgard. In Thor: The Dark World we find our hero facing a threat to all 9 realms. The first thing I noticed was that this Thor, directed by Alan Taylor had a different tone to it. It switched rapidly between very dark serious scenes to tidbits of comic relief. This worked surprisingly well throughout the film keeping the pacing alive and enjoyable. Christopher Eccleston didn't have a huge amount to do as the films villain, a dark elf but was still a formidable foe for Thor. As the director himself mentioned this film was much "dirtier" than it's predecessor. The worlds we see are not all as clean and shiney as Asgard is portrayed in the first. The world, the plot and even the characters are grittier. The film was very visually pleasing and this was owed to the vast amounts of different worlds we see instead of just Asgard. Sif seemed like she had more of a story t be told as several long shots were focused solely on her, yet she has no real story. the final climactic battle was the best part of the film and done in a true comic book fashion. The mano y mano battle was intercepted by the more comic relief-y moments keep you at the edge of your seat while also making you laugh. Stay through the credits for a great post credit scene featuring Benicio Del Toro. Thor: The Dark World will satisfy the comic book and movie lover until Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy premier next year.

Editing and Stuff

"The effect you can get from juxtaposing different shots together in a film is unlike anything else in writing, or photography." -Vsevolod Pudovkin

Anyone who's ever edited anything thinks he/she is a great editor. It's the nature of the art. Learning how to cut clips and apply filters are easy to learn, and can create impressive looking material. However, just as there is a difference between Instagrammers and professional photographers, there exists a wide gap between a consumer cutting some clips on iMovie and a working editor. But what makes an editor great? Although I've come across a wide array of contrasting opinions on the topic, I've found a couple of attributes that most of the Internet could agree on:

1. Cut tight – The best editing approach is to cut tight scenes without becoming too “cutty”. This means taking out unnecessary pauses between actors’ delivery of dialogue lines. Sometimes it mean tightening the gaps within dialogue sentences through the use of carefully placed cutaways. It may also mean losing redundant lines of dialogue, after the director has reviewed your cut.

2. Temp music – Many editors like working with temporary music as a placeholder. I advise against this for two reasons. First – people tend to fall in love with the temp score and then it’s hard to get real music that feels as good. Second – temp music becomes a crutch. You tend to be more forgiving of a weak scene when there’s interesting music than when the scene is naked. I prefer to cut a strong scene and make it work through editorial solutions. If a scene can stand on its own, then the addition of sound effects and a score will make it that much better. The exception is a visual montage set to music. Here, I tend to do better when I’m cutting to music rather than the other way around.

3. No Dragnet edits – The original Dragnet television series used a certain approach to cutting dialogue scenes. Audio and video edits tended to be made as straight cuts between the actors without any overlaps as they delivered their lines. It followed this formula: cut to actor A – deliver the line; cut to actor B – deliver the line; cut back to actor A and so on. Walter Murch refers to this as the Dragnet-style of editing. Our brains seem to react better to edits where the change in picture and sound is not always together. These are called split edits, L-cuts or J-cuts.

4. Matching action – Matching actors’ hand positions, use of props, eyeline and stage position from one cut to another fall into the technical category of how to make a proper edit. Walter Murch offers a rule of six criteria that form reasons to make a cut at a given instance. The greatest weight is given to whether that cut drives the emotion of the scene or moves the story along. Technical matching is the least important concern. I’m not saying you should throw it out the window, because a mismatch that is too extreme can be very jarring to the audience. On the other hand, as an editor friend often tells me, “Matching is for sissies.” The audience will often ignore many minor continuity differences from one shot to the next if they stay totally engrossed in the story. Your job as the editor is to cut in such as way that they do.

5. Moving camera shots – Moving the camera around is a staple of action sequences. This might be a camera on a dolly, crane, Steadicam or just handheld. In an action scene, this is designed to create a level of tension. When I cut these shots together, I prefer to cut on movement, so that the camera is in constant motion from one shot to the next. Many directors and DP will disagree, preferring instead to start and stop each camera move before making the cut. Both approaches work under the right situations, but my tendency is to cut tighter and not let the audience’s eye rest on the set or a shot or a scene for too long, unless there is a reason to do so.

6. Don’t cut back to the exact same angle – If you have a choice of several camera angles, don’t automatically cut back to the same camera angle or take that you just used in the previous shot. This is, of course, unavoidable in a dialogue scene with only two angles and one take of each; but, if the director shot different takes with different framing, try to use a little of all of them. Don’t get stuck in a cutting rut, like master/single/reverse, master/single/reverse, etc. Mix it up.

7. B-roll shots in threes – When the scene calls for cutaway inserts, it feels right to use three on a row. Not a single shot, not two, but three. These should be at least 1.5-2 seconds long (or longer). An example might be when a character enters the room and looks around. The POV inserts work nicely in triplets and give the audience a good idea of the landscape that the character encounters. It mimics our real-world experience of moving our head around and seeing different aspects of the same surroundings.

8. Cut for the eyes – Actors that do well on TV and in films (as compared with the stage) are all very expressive with their face, but most importantly, their eyes. When I’m cutting an intense dialogue scene, I’m looking at how the actors’ eyes play in the scene. Do they convey the proper emotion? What is the reaction of the other actors in the scene? What the actors are or aren’t doing facially determines my cutting. It drives my decision to stick with the principal actor delivering the dialogue or whether I briefly cut away to see reactions from the others.

9. Pull the air out of actors’ performances – Going back to Item 1 – I like to cut tight. Recognize that many actors will overact. They will milk a scene for more than is appropriate. They will accentuate pauses, add more stumbles and stammers (where scripted) and give lengthy glances. Sometimes this works, but your job as the editor is to dial these back as you cut. Take these pauses out by cutting away and then back. Cut out redundant actions and line deliveries. Make it real, so it doesn’t feel like ACTING.

10. Shaping story – It is said that there are three films: the one that’s scripted, the one that’s been filmed and the one that’s edited. When you cut a feature, pay close attention to the story chronology and don’t be afraid to veer from what was written or filmed if it makes sense to do so. Many editors use note cards on a storyboard wall to create a quick visual representation of the storyline. This helps you make sure that you reveal things to the audience in the most logical order and that nothing is inadvertently edited out of place.

11. Digital aids – Modern NLEs and finishing techniques like digital intermediates offer a lot of tools that aid the filmmaker. For example, digital images are very tolerant of blow-ups. You can add camera zooms or blow-up a shot (creating a wide and a close-up from a single shot) with these tools. This is especially true if you shot on 35mm film or with the RED One camera, because the large image area of the film negative or camera sensor allows more overshoot space than HD cameras. Don’t be afraid to zoom in as long as the image quality holds up.

12. Make your choices, but be prepared for others – Your job as the editor is to shape the story and the pacing of the film. First and foremost this means you are there to help the director realize his or her creative vision. But you were also hired for your own best instincts. Most editors finish a first cut without the director sitting over their shoulder. During that time is your initial chance at putting your own stamp on the film. When the first cut is completed, the director and editor work together to refine that cut into the director’s cut.

Our Sunhi

In my attempt to branch out into foreign films, I recently watched a film entitled Our Sunhi. This South Korean film, which was directed by Hong Sang-soo, focuses on a recently graduated film student named Sunhi, played by Jung Yoo-mi. In an attempt to attend grad school in America, Sunhi implores one of her former professors to write her a letter of recommendation. In order to receive this letter, Sunhi begins to flirt with her professor, named Donghyun, who, in turn, begins to develop feelings towards Sunhi.

After meeting with her professor, Sunhi gets dinner with her ex boyfriend, Munsu. Although the feeling is not mutual, Sunhi finds that his interest in Sunhi is rekindled. Throughout the film, Munsu attempts to get Sunhi to reconsider dating him. In addition to the first two men, Sunhi is also pursued by Jaehak, a fellow film student and friend of Munsu. Jaehak too begins to fall for Sunhi and asked her on a date. What makes this love triangle especially interesting is that, despite having different perceptions of her, all three men believe they truly know Sunhi. Ultimately, Our Sunhi is as much about Sunhi's conflicting love interests as it is about her discovering her true identity.

Although I found the story very interesting, I particularly enjoyed the aesthetic aspects of Our Sunhi. Specifically, I enjoyed the extended use of medium two-shots throughout the film. In most modern films, directors tend to use lots of camera movements and fast paced editing in lieu of sitting on a prolonged two-shot. However, because Our Sunhi is dialogue driven, these types of shots add a sort of human dimension to the film. Instead of being reduced to faces, these actors are able to express emotions with their entire bodies and posture. In a way, it almost seems as if Hong Sang-soo seeks to make a statement about ones ability to make a quality film without using over-the-top camera movements.

Dexter: Deep Dark and Dangerous


I recently started re-watching Dexter with my boyfriend and I am still amazed by how much I enjoy watching it a second time. I have watched up until the 6th season and have not watched further than that. This series is incredible; the music, location, editing and production in general is awesome. I would love to work on the set of this show because it is so well made and I would enjoy being around such creative individuals.

For those of you who aren't Dexter fans (yet) its premise revolves around our protagonist (which should be an antagonist) Dexter. Interesting thing about Dex is that he kills bad people and justifies it. He also is a blood spatter analysis and works for the Miami Metro police. Oh, irony. Anyway, I love that this show makes the viewer love Dexter, and they too justify his killings. Even though he is in fact a murderer himself. 

The composition of each episode is great, the storytelling is well done and I personally enjoy his narrations throughout. It makes the viewer be able to be in Dexter's mind and this ultimately makes the viewer sympathize with him. The casting of this show is also very well done, as each characters purpose and belonging is very intentional. The musical score for the show is one of my favorites of all time. Its beautiful, eerie, and haunting. It really ties all the elements of the show together.

If these above paragraphs haven't yet convinced you to watch the show, then I don't know what will. Dexter combines all the right elements to make the show suspenseful, funny, and overall enjoyable. 

^^And how can you resist that face???

G Flex: The Curved Smartphone

LG announced that the next newest and biggest smartphone it will be releasing will include many new features, one of which is a curved display. The G Flex is curved on a horizontal axis to provide better ergonomics and to fit the curvature of the user's face during phone calls. This new design seems to make sense, and it will be the first commercially available smart phone of its kind. With a curved display the phone can offer a larger display while still being easily reachable to the thumb without much adjustment of the hand. The curved screen also mimics the display of new curved screen televisions which allow for a better multimedia viewing experience.

Another draw of the G Flex is the "self healing" back panel. The backside of the G Flex is coated with a protective film that is able to remove scratches to a certain degree. Huge scratches will most likely not be able to be healed, but small scratches, such as scratches from keys, will heal themselves within minutes. Here is a video of the phone doing so:

Although I probably won't get the G Flex due to being a broke college kid, its still an innovative idea that will push other developers to go above and beyond. With new technology being released each day I can't wait to see what will be the next big release.

Rode VideoMic

Anymore sound can be recorded directly onto the camera however most DSLRs have a very poor performing on-board mic system even on cameras like the 5DMII and III. Audio is something most people take for granted while in reality a lot of the time audio makes or breaks the film. The most common thing said about student films is that there sound is the worst part. There are a lot of ways a beginner can get good audio though without dishing out thousands of dollars for a Tascam and a nice shotgun microphone. One of the most renowned onboard shotgun microphones is the Rode VideoMic series.

This is the best comparison video I could find. The main difference between these two models are the size. The Rode VideoMic costs about $150 and the VideoMic Pro is about $230. There is now a newer model of the VideoMic that has fixed the wobbly shock mount and is the same price.

(Newer model of the VideoMic)

 I hope to invest in the VideoMic within the next few days. I plan to use the microphone for interviews for short documentary and feature type work. I'm on a limited budget and this is part of the reason for not going for Pro version and in reality I don't really believe that the $70 dollars is worth the size difference which is the big difference between the two models. Eventually I hope to invest in some lavaliere microphones  and eventually a zoom H4 recorder for this type of work. But for now I believe this will suffice.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) is the sequel to The Hunger Games (2012). Although the first movie was very good, I thought Catching Fire was a lot better. The director, Francis Lawrence (Water for Elephants, I Am Legend), did a great job capturing the right mood. The writers, Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt, did a great job adapting Suzanne Collins' book to a film. There was only a few things left out that I wanted to see, as opposed to most other book to movie adaptations which normally leave out a lot.

Catching Fire felt more solid and moving than the first Hunger Games movie. In the first movie, the camera movements were shaky, and I didn't feel the characters were developed enough for viewers to make a strong emotional connection to them. However, in Catching Fire, the camera movements were smoother yet intense. The characters were well developed, which created more of a connection to them.

The action sequences were amazing. Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss perfectly: fierce and stubborn on the outside while struggling with being an unintentional leader on the inside.

The only criticism I have is that the lighting was so dark in certain scenes. Sometimes you couldn't see their faces very well. While it worked at times, most times I did not like it.

All this being said, I would highly recommend seeing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The acting is wonderful and the action scenes are very exciting.

Take a look at the trailer:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Magic Lantern Free Software Add-on

            Magic Lantern is a free software add on that frees your Canon DSLR and runs from the SD/ CF card ultimately providing an assortment of features to the Canon EOS cameras that weren't included with the factory settings. Originally created for filmmakers the free add on allows for a wide range of lenses, includes manual audio, zebra (peaking), focus assist tools, motion detection and much more. Additionally the add-on has full control over the H264 bit rate, trap focus, follow focus and rack focus. If your not sold yet the FREE add-on has been downloaded thousands of  times as of September 2009 and of those downloads there has been no damages reported. As I am in the market for a more sophisticated DSLR but have little money for a legit set up a friend personally recommended the free software to enhance a rather inferior setup. I would like to branch out and give a little more insight on this add-on other than the little information provided on the internet but haven't got a chance to try it for myself. Either way if your as interested as I am and have a Canon DSLR fitting the models listed below then you can download the free software add-on at

Supported Cameras: 5Dc, 5D2, 5D3, 6D, 7D, 40D, 50D, 60D, 500D (T1i), 550D (T2i), 600D (T3i), 650D (T4i), 700D (T5i), 1100D (T3), EOS M, 100D (SL1)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

15 Year Old Engineer In Africa Awes MIT Scholars

Kelvin Doe, a young boy from the country Sierra Leone, also know as DJ Focus is born October 26, 1996. He is an African engineer. Kelvin has no prior education of engineering. The town which he lives in, in Sierra Leone doesn't have much. This is a city where the electricity only turns on once a week. Kelvin knowing the needs of his country, and wanting to make a difference, began teaching himself how to engineer at the age of 13. DJ Focus is his radio name that he created as a result of the radio station he made. On his station he plays music and broadcast news and the voice of his people. He is becoming an activist and a voice for the people and a getting the needs of the people heard. Some of his accomplishments was being a finalist in the GMin's Innovate Salone idea competition where he built a generator out of scrap metals. But his everyday accomplishments are more rewarding. By simply helping his people making batteries and generators and providing electricity when there is none. As a result of his accomplishments, he received an invitation to the US and subsequently became the youngest person to participate in the "Visiting Practitioner's Program" at MIT.  Kelvin's story went viral and his story was picked up by CNN, NBC News, and The Huffington Post. His story is supposed to be an inspiration to all. To get children in countries around the world solving problems, creating from nothing and solving the needs and wants of the people around them.  Benefits of Doe's exposure allowed him to speak at TEDxTeen, lecture to undergraduate engineering students at Harvard College, as well as in May 2013 Kelvin signed a $100,000 solar project pact with Canadian High Speed Service Provider Sierra WiFi. With great focus anything can happen and anything can be achieved. Kelvin Doe would never have been so accomplished if saw a need and waited for someone else to change it.. 

Cinematographer's Job is not Just During Production

               Most people only think of the man behind the camera to only be behind the camera, but in reality it is best if the cinematographer plays a bigger role in pre production as well. Script break down is prominent to the Unit Production Manager, art department, actors, and various other departments. Although Director of photography does not fall under one of those departments, he should play a part in the script breakdown. In article found on, it says "Shane Hulburt once said, if you make every choice as a cinematographer based on the emotions of your characters, you will hit a home run every time." He was right. For the cinematographer to capture the emotion of the characters, he must know the characters and the subtext of the film very well. This is why he must do a script breakdown. Now it does not have to be in any specific format, it just needs to be done so the cinematographer is intimate with the text and characters.

The Technical Breakdown of the Script
The technical breakdown done by the cinematographer is when the script is looked over line by line to scan for technical issues based on the films budget. The cinematographer should decide what camera accessories he needs for the shot, a shoulder mount, a jib, a crane. He must also look for any other technical issues that might propose obstacles on set. Once obstacles and accessories are noted, then the paper work can go on to other departments such as the AP to ensure they are all identified and addressed.

Character Break Downs
Because the cinematographer is responsible to make the emotion of each character come alive through the lens of camera, he must know each character very well. He must know what each character is thinking and feeling at any given moment of the script. Each character's arc in the story must be recognized as well. The cinematographer needs to know how the character was in the beginning, how and why it changed, and the end result of the change. All these things are very important for the cinematographer to know. If he doesn't know the story he is supposed to paint then how can he help paint it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

DSLR Use in the Industry

Above are the Pioneers of the DSLR prosumer industry. I will bring them up on countless occasions throughout this blog so I thought it'd be good for you all to have a little bit of background on these two technology trailblazers.

First, here are some reasons why DSLR use makes sense in the industry:

DSLRs Level the Playing Field:
With the introduction of nice DSLRs, people are starting to acknowledge the fact that you don't have to go to film school to make it in the industry anymore. You don't have to have the money to afford paying for school, or film, or a really, really, really, great film camera. 

Vincent Laforet exemplifies this when he reminisces about his introduction into the field:

 "I couldn’t afford the traditional video formats. At the time, a good, quality digital film camera cost $250,000, or it cost you several thousands of dollars to shoot and process film. You have to go to film school and pretty much pay $250,000 for education to get a chance to shoot a few films during your tenure there. So this was the first readily available camera that I and pretty much everyone else got in their hands that gave them that filmic look. I had bought that first Panasonic camera a few years prior that shot 24 frames per second, and the sensor was just too small and the lens choices were incredibly limited, so I brought it back. This was the first camera that was just completely liberating. That’s why it’s had the explosion that it’s had, because people could use the lenses they have, it’s affordable, it’s small and light, and it’s incredibly sensitive to low light. It’s everything you need if you don’t have a budget." -Laforet

DSLRs don't create good filmmakers, they just help good filmmakers get discovered. Furthermore, as easy as they sound to use; DSLRs still have a learning curve. You won't produce professional quality footage without putting in lots of quality time with your camera and it's manual. 

Industry Going Digital 
Movie/Film projection is becoming increasingly digital because, honestly, its just the more economically practical way to go. Film cans are incredibly expensive to ship due their enormous size, and printing the prints can add up to a small fortune on top of that. Furthermore, most film is now being scanned digitally before being printed back to film. It is a digital age, incorporating Digital Single-lens Reflex Cameras into film is the logical next step. Technology determines the types of products being made, not the other way around. Filmmakers don't ask camera companies to make a camera a certain way, they use the technology that is available and make what they can with it. 

Beautiful Quality Images:
According to Laforet, the Canon 5D Mark II has one of the best sensors in the world. If you film a brick wall without a shallow DOF so that you can see every brick, what you'll see will look much like an acid trip. This phenomenon occurs due to the camera's binning process. Canon 5D Mark II is essentially binning with a  21 m pix chip so it has to skip lines. This process is what creates the beautiful artifacts you see on screen. 

If you haven't seen anything shot with the Canon 5D Mark II on the big screen, then you really can't fully understand the camera's main draw. For instance, Canon 5D Mark II footage on a large screen is considered by many to be "more beautiful than anything."  Footage that looks horrible on your laptop screen transforms into this magnificent spectacle when enlarged and digitally projected. Here's why: One of the main reasons the video on the laptop screen can look horrible is because you can literally see the compression. However, this compression absolutely disappears the minute the video gets projected on a large scale-- ultimately producing video magnificent beyond compare.

So Are DSLRs Actually Used in the Industry? 
Yes. And don't let those film lovers tell you otherwise.
Film people, whether they'll admit it or not, (they usually do) tend to be stubborn when it comes to shooting on film as opposed to shooting digitally. Take Roger Deakins, winner of four American Society of Cinematographers Award nominations and filmmaker extrodinaire. When asked if he'd ever consider shooting digitally he responded pertly: "Well I rather like the way I shoot film thank you very much" a few years later, however, Deakins shot a feature with the Alexa and was quoted saying that he will never go back to film

"The idea may seem preposterous at first (seriously, how can anything beat the wonderful grain and color quality of 2K or 4K film stock used by Fuji and Kodak film cameras) but when the pros saw the comparisons, their mindsets changed. While today, it is possible for independent film-makers to go solo (or in a guerilla team of 2-3) and shoot a HD film solely on a DSLR (check out the trailer to Pacific Pictures/Kevin Shahinian's City of Lakes, shot entirely on a Canon 5D Mark II and 7D), the pros predict that at least for now, it is possible to marry the use of a DSLR/hybrid with professional camcorders (eg. using the DSLR as a pick-up-and-go device for unplanned or alternative angled shots alongside the professional camcorders)." -Terence Ang, author for Tech Trends and Commentaries

Still, DSLRs don't have to be used as the primary "A-mark" camera. In fact, many videographers use DSLRs on the side as B, or C cameras. Sometimes, they even use them for "back up back up" shooting. Phillip Bloom explains:

"Now I need to make this clear, the idea was not having the Canon as the A or B camera but to be used for extra angles (as we could sneak in almost anywhere) but also mainly side with Camera A (Sony’s F35) to see how well they compare... There is something so unique aesthetically about this camera but what we also needed to do was make sure what we shot didn’t look so wildly different from the F35s that we could not cut the shots into the movie… " -Bloom

Bloom shoots about 75% of his work with the Canon 5D Mark II  This statistic may be attributive to his unconditional love for shallow depth of field, a characteristic that the 5D Mark II in particular is known for due to it's large sensor. 

Example of 5D's shallow DOF:

Although most people love that bokeh-heavy look, the large sensor does come with some disadvantages. For example, the 5D Mark II is not the ideal camera to shoot documentaries on. Documentaries are one of those genres that call for everything to be in focus all the time. Because shots aren't planned, shooting with the typical shallow depth of field could cause the filmmaker to miss a spur of the moment event. If the DP that makes this mistake happens to be working underneath someone else, he is likely to be fired. Saying this, shooting with a deep depth of field CAN be done if you f-stop down far enough. The main issue with that, however, is finding enough external light to successfully stop down to f-8 (or so). Bloom doesn't let this issue deter him from shooting with the Canon 5D Mark II:

"We make them work of course because the end result is so bloody gorgeous we WANT to make them work. Also the small form factor is so revolutionary, even though we do need to pimp up like I do with my Zacuto gear, to make them easier to use they are still small! I can carry around my 5D Mark II  my 50mm F1.2 and my Z-Finder in my man bag (not murse please) everywhere I go. It’s incredible." -Bloom

"We make them (Canon 5D Mark II's) work of course because the end result is so bloody gorgeous we WANT to make them work. Also the small form factor is so revolutionary, even though we do need to pimp up like I do with my Zacuto gear, to make them easier to use they are still small! I can carry around my 5DmkII, my 50mm F1.2 and my Z-Finder in my man bag (not murse please) everywhere I go. It’s incredible." -Phillip Bloom

Here are Some Prime Examples of Videos that you should probably watch right now that were shot exclusively with DSLRs:

Tiny Furniture is a 2010 American independent comedy-drama written by, directed by, and starring Lena Dunham. It is shot entirely on the Canon 5D Mark II.
It premiered at South by Southwest, where it won best narrative feature,[2] screened at such festivals as Maryland Film Festival, and was released theatrically in the United States on November 12, 2010.

Tiny Furniture directed by Lena Dunham:

Phillip Bloom's DP work on Red Tails, the on-going pet project of Lucasfilm was also shot entirely on the Canon 5D Mark II

The Official Red Tails Trailer:

Laforet's Reverie:
The creation of award winning short, Reverie, is actually a funny story. Apparently, while attending a Canon Convention, Laforet asked about the (then just a prototype) Canon 5D Mark II. Canon was planning on giving a couple of the prototypes to several well-established photographers to test that weekend. However, after incestantly hounding the Canon employees to let him try out the camera over the weekend they agreed. And that was how Reverie came to be. Because he only had one weekend to shoot, Reverie was shot exclusively on the Canon 5D Mark II with no post movie processing. All of the footage that was used in the Reverie movie - was raw - untouched in terms of color correction, exposure correction, and even noise correction. When Laforet showed the final product to Canon, the company began to realize the pro-sumer potential of the 5D Mark II

Reverie by Vincent Laforet:

The Social Network was shot completely on DSLR REDS:

A finale episode of HouseHelp Mewas shot entirely on the Canon 5D Mark II and the quality was just as good as the episodes that were shot on 35mm film. It looks just the same because they used the same crew, and they lit it like they were shooting on film. They used a 5D because they were shooting in a very enclosed space. After shooting with the Canon 5D Mark II in the season finale, they decided to continue shooting the rest of the episodes with the 5D instead of 35mm. 

Act of Valor was shot with Canon 5D Mark II cameras equipped with Zeiss ZE and Panavision Primo lenses. This is one of the best feature length films shot entirely with the Canon 5D Mark II. 5Ds are small and light, making them great camera's for action movies that are shot in a guerrilla style. Let's be honest, Fancy film cameras are just too big to run around with on your shoulder all the time.

Some More Notable works shot with the Canon 5D Mark II in particular (in order of release): (Wikipedia)

  • The opening title sequence for the 35th season of NBC's Saturday Night Live, first broadcast on 26 September 2009. The camera, alongside the Canon 7D, was used due to its size, which allowed covert shooting on the streets of New York City, and depth of field capabilities, making it a suitable substitute for the series' usual 35mm film.[18]
  • The House episode "Help Me", (season finale) broadcast by Fox on 17 May 2010, was shot entirely on the Canon 5D Mark II, replacing the drama's usual 35mm film format.[19][20][21] Portions of the seventh season were also recorded with a 5D Mark II.[22]
  • The BBC Two comedy series Shelfstackers, first broadcast on 4 September 2010, is the first BBC programme to use the camera. The corporation had initially refused its use due to "lack of quality" but were persuaded otherwise by the series' director, Dom Bridges. All six episodes of the series were shot on the camera for a total budget of £160,000.[23]
  • The Road to Coronation Street, broadcast by BBC Four on 16 September 2010, is the first UK television drama to be shot on the Canon 5D Mark II. The drama's director of photography was impressed and plans to use the camera on the seventh series of theBBC One drama Hustle.[24]
  • The resurrected Hawaii Five-0 TV series is currently shot using Canon 5DmkII.[25]
  • Behzat Ç. Bir Ankara Polisiyesi, a Turkish TV series is being shot on Canon 5DmkII.[26]
  • The 2012 film Act of Valor was shot with the use of the Canon 5D Mark II.[27]
  • Marvel's The Avengers is reported to have some Canon 5D MkII shots.[28]
  • Department, a 2012 Bollywood movie, is reported to have been shot using Canon 5D Mark II[29]
  • ParaNorman, a 2012 3D stop-motion animated adventure horror film produced by LAIKA, Inc., was shot on sixty Canon 5D Mark II cameras.[30]
  • Nirel, First International Tulu movie, directed by Ranjith Bajpe, is reported to have been shot using Canon 5D Mark II.[31]
  • Escape from Tomorrow, a 2013 feature film, was shot guerilla-style with two Canon 5D Mark II cameras at the Disney theme parks.[32]

And Still More: (forgive any repeats)

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII
Official site: A Beautiful Belly

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII and Canon 7D
Official Facebook: A Love That Hurts | Facebook

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII, Canon 7D, Canon 1D

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII
IMDb: http//

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII and Canon 7D

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII
IMDb: http: //

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII
Official website: La Casa Muda
Official twitter: @Lacasamuda

Shot with Canon 7D, Canon 5DmkII
Official website:
YouTube page (with trailer):

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII
Facebook Page: *NEW* | Facebook

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII
Official Website: Rubber Film

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII and Canon 7D

Laforet leaves us with a final, poignant quote:

"There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing you can’t get a [piece of equipment] down to this location, that you can’t get the shot you’re dreaming of. So you look for technology that breaks those barriers, to execute the vision that you have in your mind. That’s the key goal, to focus on that vision and that craft. That gets lost a lot today in technology as we’re so focused on gear and what pieces of gear we’re supposed to use, as opposed to asking ourselves, 'Why? How can that best serve the story?'"

The DSLR seems to currently be the technology that breaks down these barriers. Think about it, 40% of the time, the top 5 production houses shoot with the Canon 5D Mark II  despite the fact that they have access to basically any technology ever created. 

Here's a quick recap explaining WHY this is:
DSLRs give you the best product for the least amount of cash. 
DSLRs will continue to be great consistently at least for B and C cameras if not the primary camera.  
DSLRS are super convenient, especially for guerrilla shooting. 
DSLRs will outshine any other kind of camera in lowlight situations. 

All of that being said, one must never get too overly consumed with HOW the film is shot. The story is still ultimately the most important aspect of a film. You shoot with the technology that will work best to tell your story. Because truth is; even if the footage looks great, and the lighting looks great, and the focus is crystal clear: if the story isn't compelling, you have nothing.

Iraq in Fragments

Iraq in Fragments is  a 2006 documentary that investigates the state of post-invasion Iraq. Directed by James Longley, this film seeks to present Iraq through the eyes of its people. In order to accomplish this, Longley travels to the three largely fragmented areas of the country. As is brought out at the beginning of the film, southern Iraq is run by the Shias, central Iraq is run by the Sunnis, and the north is run by the Kurds. Amazingly, Longley is able to earn the trust of each group and capture their distinct opinions.

By allowing the people to tell their own story, Longley is able to paint a a picture that is quite different from sensationalized version of Iraq that is often portrayed in the media. Although most of the Iraqis harbor some resentment towards America, their reasoning is a lot more logical than some media outlets would lead you to believe. Firstly, most of the Iraqis interviewed did not support Saddam Hussein and were glad that America was able to get rid of him. However, these people were hit hard by the pre-war sanctions levied against them by the United States, who they argue was originally complacent towards Saddam. Additionally, many of the Iraqis feel that the invasion of their country was largely driven by the United States interest in oil. While the interviews only revealed so much about the people, it appeared as if most of these people did not have anti-American biases, but rather formed their opinions based on their experiences and they information presented to them.

The aspect of Iraq in Fragments that I enjoyed the most was its portrayal of the human element of the Iraqi people. Although they live half-way around the world, many of these people are more concerned with survival and their own internal conflicts than they are with the United States. One of the most heart-breaking stories in the documentary was 11 year old orphan in Baghdad. Without any family, this boy is forced to live with a garage owner who is seen shouting at the child. Through the use of stunning imagery, such as soldiers lining the streets and burning buildings, Longley is able to portray the struggle and division in Iraq.

Nifty Fifty

In the world of filming prime lenses are where its at. A lot of cinematographers say use a prime lens and use your feet to zoom. I am trying to expand my arsenal as I have said before however I am just a college student and usually am scraping the barrel every week. An awesome prime lens for someone on a budget is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II standard AutoFocus Lens or otherwise known as the nifty fifty. This little guy goes for about 100 dollars on amazon including shipping. The last time I checked a good tripod isn't even that cheap.

Canon makes two more of these 50 primes as well, the f/1.4 and the f/1.2. The f/1.4 is about 300-400 dollars and the f/1.2 is a whopping 1000 dollars. The price changes with these three lenses are based on two main factors, the f-stop and the durability. The awesome thing about these f-stops is that with such a low f-stop low light shooting will be easier as well as getting that desirable BOKEH effect that makes your photos and video look awesome. The f/1.8 has been said to be almost like a toy in the way it feels, the whole lens is made out of plastic for the most part, while the other two have metal mounts and the f/1.2 is even weather proof. While these minor differences in stop and build are somewhat noticeable whats the picture quality difference.

This video is an awesome example of what each lens is really capable and surprisingly the f/1.8 really holds its ground. The host of this video is pretty damn annoying and tries to be funny so don't pay attention to him you may have to skim through the video to get the quality material.

An article on F Stoppers is what sparked my recent interest in these prime lenses and they have an awesome article that talks about the three lenses and again the best bang for your buck if your pinching pennies is the f/1.8. These two sources talk about the photography portion of these lenses a lot so I plan to do more research and learn a little more about the video aspect of these lenses before I go spending my hard earned cash. Its looking like relatively soon I will invest in a prime because these deals are something I just can't resist.

Here is the link to the article definitely check this out quickly if you don't have the time for the video. But if you do I definitely recommend you look at both.

Murphy's Law: A story of a filmmaking attempt, a flood and my rejection from Emerson College.

When I was a senior in high school I was in the midst of my college application process I realized that for Emerson College I needed to submit some material of a film I'd made. Besides claymation I'd never really made a film save a film I made in 8th grade and one at a Boston University film camp that I couldn't use. My high school didn't have any filmmaking classes so I had very minimal experience in the actual process. The film could be no longer than five minutes, something I thought would be initially easy but turned out to be much harder to tell a story in. In the next week or so I churned out a short script. It was about a group of friends who when on a test drive of a futuristic car, become stranded and have a falling out which leads to secrets about them being revealed. After writing the script I gathered a group of friends and flip camera (the only kind I could get access to) and got ready to film. This of course happened right when my town was hit by the worst flood in its' history. As half my town was underwater, this made shooting a little more difficult.
The lower half of Bloomsburg PA
Eventually the waters lowered and I decided it was time to film. We ended up shooting in an area damaged by the flood as I thought it would give a good look to the film, cracked roads, uprooted trees and more. We ended up shooting on a small road just off a creek that have severely flooded. The cast had vastly different times they were free so this made finding times to shoot very hard along with school. We ended up shooting most days after school at 4. Having no lighting equipment, it was a race against the setting sun. Throughout the film the lighting changes vastly in shot to shot. The weather also disobeyed us so extra lines were added to explain the rain and it's absence in later scenes. In the end the film didn't look fantastic but I was proud of what we did. Looking back now the film is pretty terrible and I squirm at lots of things I could have done better. Needless to say I didn't get into Emerson, but I did end up here, so I'm pretty happy about that. Of course one version of the film is embedded at the top of this post for your viewing pleasure. Please be nice.

'The Body' to 'Stand By Me': An Intermediate Film Adaptation

Rob Reiner achieves an intermediate film adaptation of Stephen King’s novella, “The Body” with his film 'Stand By Me' by remaining fairly close to the fabula, but leaving out elements essential to the meaning and themes of the original story. One of these elements is the junkyard scene. The junkyard is symbolic for the fall of the American dream, a powerful symbol setting up the social commentary that is evident throughout the novella. The junkyard is full of thrown away household items, such as beds and a doll that appears to be “giving birth to her own stuffing.” This is King attacking American society and the fragility of the American dream. Reiner abandons King’s social commentary in this scene by filling the junkyard with cars, stripping the story of its deeper, original meaning. Because of this, Reiner’s adaptation cannot be a close one.

Rob Reiner also alters the endings of Vern and Teddy. The novella takes on a dark tone as Gordie, as the speaker, tells his reader that Vern and Teddy lead a gang, Vern died in a fire after a house party, and Teddy died in a car crash along with his passengers. They were unable to escape from the corrupt society that brought them up, and they died as a part of that society, as the men they never wanted to become. Reiner lightens up the tone of the story and continues to abandon King’s social commentary by keeping Vern and Teddy alive. In the film, Vern is said to have married right out of high school, and Teddy works odd jobs around town after being released from jail. Due to his alteration and neglect of these two essential elements that contribute to King’s social commentary, Ron Reiner achieves an intermediate adaptation of “The Body.”