Training Your Eye – Lighting for Cinematographers

Training Your Eye – Lighting for Cinematographers.


DaVinci Resolve Workflows

Avid to Resolve round trip – Oliver Peters




Blackmagic Design’s purchase of DaVinci Systems put a world class color grading solution into the hands of every video professional. With Resolve 9, DaVinci sports a better user interface that makes it easy to run, regardless of whether you are an editor, colorist or DIT working on set.  DaVinci Resolve 9 comes in two basic Mac or Windows software versions, the $995 paid and the free Lite version. The new Blackmagic Cinema Camera software bundle also includes the full (paid) version, plus a copy of Ultrascope. For facilities seeking to add comprehensive color grading services, there’s also a version with Blackmagic’s dedicated control surface, as well as Linux systems configurations.

Both paid and free versions of Resolve (currently at version 9.1) work the same way, except that the paid version offers larger-than-HD output, noise reduction and the ability to tap into more than one extra GPU card for hardware…

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In Conversation…


In Conversation with Walter Murch


Kiran Ganti (KG): What is the definition and the characteristic of a transition?


Walter Murch (WM): At the basic level, a transition is simply the process of changing from some state A to another state, B. What we should examine carefully is the degree of change, and our awareness of it. Change is happening all the time, though we are not always conscious of it. But without change there is no perception. This is somewhat of a paradox. If you are staring constantly at a static object you would think that nothing is changing, but it turns out your eyeballs are constantly moving, though the movements are so tiny you are unaware of it. You might be stationary, the object you are staring at might be stationary, but your eyeballs are rapidly scanning the image in what are called microsaccades, at the rate of around sixty per second. It is this slight vibration the eyeballs are moving about 1/180th of a degree – that is keeping your perception alive, scrubbing the image across a slightly different set of rods and cones at the back of your eye. In a way it is kind of like the scanning electron gun in a video monitor. Fascinating experiments have been performed, neutralizing these microsaccades, and the result is that the vision of the subject quickly dims and then disappears entirely, even though his eyes are open and he is in a lighted room. At a very basic perceptual level, then, there has to be some kind of a transition, a change, for us to perceive the world at all.


1. In film terms, the smallest transition is the frame: this is the equivalent of the microsaccade that keeps vision alive, and we are unconscious of the shift as such from one frame to the next, though it is perceived by us as motion.


2. The next smallest transition is the cut between shots: this is the equivalent of a shift of attention of our eyes and we are intermittently conscious of this sometimes more sometimes less, depending on the nature of the cut.


3. And then a still bigger transition is the cut (or dissolve, or whatever) between one scene and another, and we are usually quite conscious of this. In fact it is the editors job to make sure that the audience is conscious of the transition from one scene to the next, otherwise there will be confusion.


4. Beyond that there are the major transitions between the Acts of a movie, but these are more difficult to qualify since cinema is unlike theatre: very rarely does a curtain fall in a movie! But we do occasionally get a sense of this end of act transition. For example, in The Godfather all the scene transitions up until Michael kills Solozzo and McCluskey have some action or story continuity. But after the double murder we get a somewhat abstract montage of various newspaper images, and the music changes from dramatic orchestral to tinkling piano, and it is by these means that the film is letting us know this is the end of Act I. Everything after these murders will be different.




Oliver Peters tells about the value you bring to project as pro.


Whenever a group of established professionals in the business gets together, they bemoan the “race to the bottom”. That’s the concept that simpler, more inexpensive tools result in the lowering of quality. The prevailing attitude is that now “anyone can do it” so no one “values the craft”. Editors complain about what low-cost editing software like Final Cut Pro has done to facilities. Directors of photography complain about the Canon 5D or the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and how these are killing quality production. Colorists complain about the impact of free color grading tools, like DaVinci Resolve Lite on their ability to earn a living.

I’m sure this is echoed in other industries. Whether you are talking about multitrack audio decks versus Pro Tools, or vinyl records versus CDs versus iTunes, or the work of a talented machinist compared to “fab labs” and 3D printing – the theme (and fear) is…

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Story rules

  • The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

The Pixar Touch – history of Pixar – Blog

Pixar story rules (one version) SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011 AT 03:39PM Pixar story artist Emma Coats has tweeted a series of “story basics”  — guidelines that she learned from her more senior colleagues on how to create appealing stories:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there. Presumably she’ll have more to come. Also, watch for her personal side project, a science-fiction short called Horizon, to come to a festival near you.


Sensor size , lens and resulting image  needs explanation   A Lens Is a Lens is a Lens | CineTechnica is written by   a clear explanation to end unfruitful debate.       A lens is a lens is a lens, and it doesn’t know what size sensor or film gate is placed behind it.  A lens projects light and the magnification size of that projection is determined by its focal length. Nevertheless, there has always been a great deal of confusion associated with the focal length of lenses and their relationship to the size of the image area. I’ve read many explanations in various books and on the internet over the years and authored some of them myself. But often written explanations confuse as much as they explain. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, I figure this video is equal to a small novella on the subject. Many people seem to use the various optical terms incorrectly or interchangeably, so I figured showing what happens would help demystify the concepts involved.

Go to the A Lens Is a Lens is a Lens | CineTechnica a beautiful demonstration by 

Because it is not an 85mm, it is a 50mm.  That number is based on a magnification factor and an ANGLE OF VIEW.  The fact that the projection is physically not covering any given format has nothing to do with it. Think of it this way:  why should anything be defined by a 35mm stills format?  Or any other format?  If you took a 50mm designed only to cover APS-C and then a 50mm designed to cover Full Frame 35mm and put them both onto an APS-C camera, the resulting field of view would be identical.  So then it would be rather curious to have them labeled as different focal lengths. A lens has no idea what sensor is placed behind it.  It simply projects light.  The mathmatical relationship of the magnification of light to the size of the aperture defines equal to the distance between the image plane and a pinhole that images distant objects the same size as the lens in question.  To call it anything else would be both a fallacy and lead to vast confusion.  Truly a lens is a lens is a lens

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6


Editors looking for an alternative to Apple Final Cut Pro view Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 as the logical choice, but there’s more to this release than a hypothetical FCP 8. I’ve reviewed and used each version of the Creative Suite for many years and Premiere Pro is one of the few NLEs where each new version exhibits tangible performance improvements. Creative Suite 6 is no different, with performance tweaks and expanded GPU usage in Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere Pro.

Adobe’s video bundle, CS6 Production Premium, is a complete end-to-end workflow solution covering ingest to distribution. Adobe Prelude (ingest, transcode and logging) becomes the substitute for OnLocation, which was geared towards the tape-based world. SpeedGrade adds film-style color grading to the package. Production Premium is a 6GB file download, plus there’s an additional 21GB of optional sound effects and music loops that Adobe customers may also download for free.

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Timing is often everything when it comes to indie filmmaking. That’s certainly the case with Higher Ground, the directorial debut by Academy Award-nominated actress, Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air, Source Code, Nothing But The Truth). The film about the struggle and coexistence between faith and doubt is inspired by Carolyn S. Biggs’ memoir, This Dark World. It features Farmiga in the lead role of Corrine Walker and follows her through three phases of her life. The film has appeared at the 2011 Sundance, Tribeca and Los Angeles Film Festivals and is currently in distribution through Sony Pictures Classics.

Successfully pulling off a highly-regarded, low budget feature is a challenge for anyone, but even more so, if you are the director, the lead actress and pregnant on top of that. Living in upstate New York, Farmiga happened to be ten minutes away from BCDF Pictures

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Avid Media Composer goes 64-bit


Avid made the jump to 64-bit in November with its mainstream Media Composer 6, Symphony 6 and NewsCutter 10 software. This highly anticipated new release includes ten cornerstone features: 64-bit code, Open IO, ProRes integration (Mac only), Avid Marketplace, AMA support for AVCHD, a new DNxHD444 codec, expanded stereo 3D tools, 5.1/7.1 surround mixing, Avid Artist Color control surface support and a modernized user interface. Avid has made significant architectural changes to the product without altering the behavior and interaction that veteran users rely on. A few hoped-for features, like resolution independence and background rendering, had to be left on the backburner, but are still slated for some future release.


I installed Symphony 6 on my two-year-old Mac Pro, along with a simultaneous upgrade to Lion (Mac OS 10.7.2 recommended) and the installation of a Blackmagic Design Decklink HD Extreme 3D card. Symphony is now available as software, so…

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