Thursday, December 29, 2005


It's beautiful! It's beautiful!

A camera so powerful, its format dictates
exactly how action is to be staged.

Strong men wrestle the camera into position.
Famous Directors weep in frustration!

Even its sound recording wins an Oscar!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

"Wide Christmas" (in VistaVision)

"Wide Christmas," by Sam Longoria
(with apologies to Irving Berlin)

I'm dreaming of a "Wide Christmas,"
In every Christmas song I sing.
Where each 8-perf image,
Will never dimage,
The mellow fellow,
Known as Bing.

I'm dreaming of a "Wide Christmas,"
With 1.5 to 1 screen shape.
From the "Seasons Greetings," to
Romantic meetings,
A high-rez 8-perf movie
Makes you gape.

I'm dreaming of
"Motion-Picture High-fidelity,"
Just like the films I used to screen.
From effects in "Star Wars,"
To "The Searchers" far wars,
I love each detail I have seen.

I'm dreaming of a VistaVision Christmas,
A Mitchell camera on its side.
With spherical lenses,
and Mercedes-Benzes,
as payoff, for this Christmas ride.

I'm dreaming of a Paramount
"Wide Christmas,"
With every 8-perf frame I shoot.
May your camera pull film on its side,
And may all your Christmases be wide.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Your Tv Is Obsolete - Part 2

Not only does your tv become obsolete this year,
you have a slim chance for a coupon for a box, so they
can sell your tv airspace, for cell phones and wi-fi.

Check it out, I'm not making this up.

Monday, December 19, 2005


For my film, "Mysteries Of The Lawn,"
I'm doing macrophotography, grafting lens
extension tubes and/or bellows onto my
trusty 35mm movie camera.

To show how delightfully low-tech film things can be,
a fellow camera hotrodder has hacked together
a macro lens extension from a Pringles can.

His is very like my "Samovar Balowire" macro
extension, made years ago from rolled cardboard,
with baling wire and duct tape holding it (and
the 100mm Super Baltar lens) together.

Although it violates the first rule of engineering,
"Never build anything you can buy off the shelf,"
the Pringle Macro is clever. I'm sure it always works,
even when - ahem - the chips are down.

Note: I get nothing promoting his cleverness,
and I don't make a dime from my likeness on
the Pringles can.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Homebrew Camera Stabilizers

You'd think filmmakers want Steadicam-quality
footage, at a homebuilt price
, or something.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Steady That Cam!

Here's a cool clip, of an operator
running the small Steadicam rig,
with a video camera.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Farewell John

In 1980, I stopped work on my 35mm indy feature, to
gather at the Seattle Center fountain with thousands of
others, singing John Lennon songs, and crying. With rain,
the humans and the fountain, I have no idea how many
gallons of water we released that cold December day.
John, you were great. Here's the best tribute.

Farewell Richard

In 1979 I ran his "Live in Concert" movie at my
theatre, the Enumclaw Cinema, and horrified my home town.
I worked at the effects house he used for his life-story
movie, "JoJo Dancer," and the stories I can't tell you!
Richard Pryor, you were great.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Emperor Has No Clothes - Film At 11

You probably have heard of Moore's Law. Moore's Law is
different from Sturgeon's Law, which asserts "90% of
everything is crud," and Cole's Law, which is
thinly-sliced pieces of cabbage.

Moore's Law (since 1965) says computing power will double,
every eighteen months or so. I've seen Moore's Law at work
in computer chips, in processors and memory. It's generally
accepted for digital devices to just keep doubling in power.

It's generally been accepted that "digital devices" includes
image sensors. Well, it doesn't. Image sensors are
analog. Moore's Law doesn't apply to them.

In fact, without some new technological breakthrough,
image sensors are as good as they're gonna get.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

HVX-200 Short Beta = Bugs?

Panasonic's new affordable HD camera, with the pedigree of the
higher-priced Panasonics, and the sturdy little DVX-100 and
DVX-100A, will be out soon. Is it too soon?

Yes, this is the first camera under $100,000 to shoot HD 1080/24p,
but wasn't it hustled along to production in record time? Who
wants to be the "second beta," or volunteer for "user engineering?"
There may very well be a HVX-200A some months from now.
Join the discussion.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Upside Of The Zoom

Sure, it doesn't look like a dolly shot,
because the perspective's all wrong.

It's no substitute for a box of prime lenses,
or is it?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Movie Scouting

Scouting is good for you.
Earn the badge, and you'll be
a cinematographer in no time.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Superman's Back!

They're all done shooting "Superman Returns,"
check out Bryan Singer's video blog, with clips
from production. Very enjoyable, quite revealing.

My favorite parts are:

Bryan pinch-hitting for a day or so, for a clearly
exhausted Peter Jackson, shooting his "Kong."

Elliot the Editor pointing out that it actually
would have been faster to shoot on film. Digital
takes a day longer for each batch. Whoops!

Elliot has the stones to mention this even though
it's not the "politically correct" bulletin for a
big digital production.

(On a movie set, speaking your mind is not safe.
If you voice bad news, it's somehow your fault.)

The stunt guy pointing out that the enormous gimbaled
set is all run by one wire. "If that wire goes..." and
they cut away from him. Yes, if that one wire goes.
The amazing thing is that more accidents don't happen
in the movie business.

Multiple takes of young Clark pitching a baseball,
with a gas cannon actually firing the ball past him.
Take after take, until they get the one Bryan wants.
Bryan wants to show it to the writers, video.

Bryan's disbelieving expression, as he says
"I have no video." Priceless.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Pyongyang New Hollywood?

Totalitarian dictator Kim Jong-il, a longtime North Korean film buff,
has ordered his nation's tiny film industry to make good films,
to compete with Hollywood.

Well, that's how you do it. You just order people to be creative,
herd them in to fenced compounds, and club them into submission.
It's actually like Hollywood, come to think of it.

And Kim is just another screamer studio head.

The difference is, North Korea is a nuclear power,
and Hollywood isn't.

We say megabucks, they say megatons.
We want a piece of the gross, they want a piece of Japan.
When our movies bomb, nobody actually dies.

Kim Chee, sweetheart, you're a natural for a remake of
The Great Dictator, but I hear there's a height requirement.

Ciao, babe! Have a wonderful life!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Degrade Your Image

Yet another article about kludging together parts
to make your digital video look somewhat reminiscent
of 35mm film cinematography.

The cannibalized device is a perfectly good 35mm
SLR camera, hacked together with a mini-DV camera,
to give an upside-down, backwards, grainy, dithered
image. No offense.

After you flop that image, (and if you squint),
it looks something like a film camera.

Ooh, look! You have shallow depth of field!
Amazing. You can pull focus! Revolutionary.

Now, all you've got to do is somehow make the
image not burn out to white when it's a few stops
overexposed. Film handles those things, digital

Obviously, if you factor in the cost of the camera
you've Frankensteined together, there is no real savings
in money or time. Especially as the image is poor quality.

Cheaper, faster, better? Just shoot film.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Formats By The Numbers

To know the movie format dimensions,
here's a quick reference.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Anti-Panavision Story

Here's the rest of the story,
told by some guys who are mad
at Panavision.*

*...or couldn't you tell?