Archive for "Production"

RED Epic-X #395 Arrives!

Film Style, Production Nov 08, 2011 No Comments

Our Epic finally arrived!

The same camera that James Cameron is using for Avatar 2 and Peter Jackson chose for the Hobbit is now available for our projects and clients.  The new Epic-X will allow us to shoot 5K resolution RAW at 96 frames per second (or up to 300 fps at 2k!).

One of the most exciting aspects of working with the Epic is that the small package allows a lot of flexibility.  Most of the critical components fit in a case small enough to carry onto an airplane without a problem allowing us to travel light.  Because the camera body is less than 5lbs we’re able to take advantage of it on our Steadicam and lightweight crane for unique shots without sacrificing quality.

This doesn’t mean that our RED MX will be collecting dust – It’s a perfect match for the Epic as a second camera.  Now we’re able to offer a two camera RED MX/Epic package for projects at an incredibly reasonable price.

Check out the Epic 700 reel to get a taste of this camera’s amazing potential.

“Aftershocks” principal photography wraps

Film Style, Production Jun 06, 2011 No Comments

Here are a few behind the scenes photos from the set of the short film “Aftershocks” directed by Richard Krause, produced by Figaro Media.

Dolby Makes A Video Monitor?!?

Film Style, Post Production, Production Jan 24, 2011 No Comments

A few months back Figaro Media was fortunate enough to produce a marketing video for one of Dolby Lab’s lesser known products – the Dolby Pro Reference Monitor 4200. This is one of the cooler products that they make (and they make some pretty sweet stuff).  We interviewed several Dolby execs and engineers and spoke with many of the initial beta testers including:

  • Ron Burdett, GM of Data & Film DI Restoration – Laser Pacific
  • Bob Wilson, Director of Engineering – The Post Group
  • Bill Feightner, CTO – EFILM Digital Laboratories
  • Lou Levinson, Senior Colorist – Laser Pacific

Now, what sets this monitor apart from any of the other run of the mill, color accurate monitors?  Here’s a video that hopefully answers that question:

Dolby Labs PRM-4200 Launch Video

“B Sweet” Behind the Scenes

Film Style, Production Dec 16, 2010 No Comments

Following up on the case study that Vision Research posted on the recent Andrew Tinker music video Dolby Labs recently released a behind the scenes video for the making of “B Sweet”.

Let us know what you think!

“B Sweet” PhantomHD Gold Case Study Released

Film Style, Production Dec 15, 2010 No Comments

Vision Research has released a case study on Andrew Tinker’s “B Sweet” music video that we used a Phantom HD Gold to capture super slow motion video.  You can find it on the bottom left hand side of the page under “Case Studies” labeled “Dolby Laboratories Captures Intricate Details and Striking Imagery” (or you can just open the pdf here – Case Study )

Also – you should watch the video and read about the project if you haven’t already (here, here and here)

Dizzy Feet PSA’s Officially Launched

Film Style, Post Production, Production Dec 13, 2010 No Comments

Long time client Hit Entertainment recently worked with Figaro Media to produce, edit and composite “Dancing with the Stars” host Carrie Ann Inaba and “So You Think You Can Dance” stars Nigel Lythgoe and Adam Shankman into the animated world of “Angelina Ballerina”.

The public service announcements are part of a campaign for the Dizzy Feet Foundation founded in 2009 by Nigel Lythgoe, Adam Shankman, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Katie Holmes to support, improve, and increase access to dance education in the United States.

Filmed on a RED MX in Los Angeles at Source Film Studios.  Here are the finished pieces:

Carrie Ann PSA

Nigel and Adam PSA

Also – here’s a link to Dizzy Feet’s website for anyone interested.

Ten Keys for Shooting Green

Production, Tricks and Tutorials Sep 07, 2010 No Comments

Let me preface this post by saying two things:

  1. This is specifically an article geared towards helping you film better chroma key shots – it assumes that you have some decent experience shooting chroma setups and that you’re using a studio setup with an evenly lit background.   It is not designed to be an all inclusive, step by step tutorial but it will hopefully help you with a couple of the keys to ending up with better keys.
  2. This article is assuming that you are the guy that is filming the footage, not compositing it.  If you’re the guy in charge on set then please pay attention – you can save countless hours in post (and your compositor will thank you) with a few of these tips.  If you’re the guy compositing then I would suggest you offer this post up to the guy in charge of shooting your footage.  One thing that everyone should take away from this article is that the acquisition crew and the post crew should talk early and often – communication makes things so much easier.

1. Motion blur is your enemy!An example of how your shutter speed and motion blur effects green screen filming

One of the most difficult things to fix in keyed footage is fast motion that has been shot with standard shutter settings. Most people have been taught to make sure that they’re shooting with a shutter that’s twice the frame rate so that things don’t look “stuttery”. In the case of compositing that’s horrible advice. It’s fairly easy to use a plugin such as RE:Vision Effects ReelSmart Motion Blur Pro to take footage that has been shot with a high shutter speed and reintroduce natural looking motion blur. It’s much more time consuming to roto your actors’ hands and feet when the motion blur is baked in.

2. Use a reasonable camera!
It’s very cost effective to rent cameras that can be cleanly keyed nowadays. There’s no reason your client shouldn’t pay to get a decent camera on set – it will pay for itself in post and then some.

When it comes to cameras you care about a few very specific things:

  • Color Sampling – A lot of the cheaper HD cameras on the market compress the heck out of the color space and that can cause a lot of issues in your composite – the Sony EX cameras are especially bad. If you don’t know anything about color subsampling (or if you’ve ever wondered what 4:2:2 or 4:1:1 meant) then you should really read the following article: to give you an idea of why the EX cameras are so bad – they’re 4:2:0 so you basically have almost no data to work with to extract a solid key.  Pro Video Coalition has a great article about Color Scaling (or Color Sub Sampling).
  • Native Sensor Size (or shoot for delivery) - If you are producing a project for delivery in 1080 make sure you shoot with a sensor that doesn’t artificially scale the image up because it has a 720 native sensor. Not to say you can’t pull a good key from anamorphic footage or from up sampled footage but you should really use the right tool for the job.
  • Recording Format - The less compression the better. Even if you have to take an output to a separate record like a. Kipro (just make sure the output is a legit output – not a down-sampled preview like RED gives you).

3. Understand your post workflow!
This is critical – editors and compositors have run into every major problem you could ever have – get them involved early and often and you’ll save them time and effort (and your budget)

4. Keep track of all of the vital data on set!
Make sure that you keel track of info on lenses, camera positions, height and anything else you can think of. It’s incredibly valuable even if you are just doing a basic composite.  A shot log should include the focal length for the shot, distance to subject, and measurements of any specific elements that need to be tracked.

5. Don’t overdo the tracking markers!
I generally like to use the little sticky dots you can get at an office supply store – they’re small and cheap and you can generally use the yellow ones in most situations. Also – keep the damn things in focus. Shallow depth of field shouldn’t matter on a well lit and well painted green wall but the tracking markers are critical if you’re moving.

6. Pull a preview key on set!
We use Conduit Live running into a MacBook pro and an AJA IoHD to pull a test key. It’s helps us match lighting and test the overall composite. It’s especially helpful if you have a background reference image on set

7. Have a background reference image on set!
This should be a no brainer but lots of people ignore it. How else do you expect to match lighting? You are matching lighting right?

8. Wear foot covers!
Most studios charge a repainting fee if you dirty up the screen. This is cheap way to save some money on the back-end of the production.

9. Use a waveform monitor on set!
This will he’ll show problem areas on your screen. Its cheap and it guarantees you will see any problems before it’s a problem.

10. Gives your actors a reference!
They could be acting their butts off but if the eye line they guess at doesn’t work then the shot is screwed. This hints at something beyond these tips – the content matters more than the key. The best visual effects in the world will not save a poor performance. Make sure you give your talent something to play off of.

“B Sweet” Music Video Officially Released

Film Style, Production Aug 31, 2010 No Comments

The music video we shot a couple of months ago with Dolby Labs for Andrew Tinker’s song “B Sweet”  has been officially released.

The video was shot in Rockwall, TX over a few of the hottest days this summer.  We had a great team and used some cool gear including an Optimo 24-290mm lens in front of a RED MX and Phantom HD.

Hope you like the video – you should be seeing a lot of it.  Word on the street is that Dolby is going to be releasing it in a major way pretty soon.  Stay tuned…

Why You Always Need A Prep Day

Film Style, Production Jul 31, 2010 No Comments

“The shutter is just randomly engaging… maybe it’s the servo?”

Bob Frederickson, our 1st Assistant Camera Operator, looked frustrated.  Booked with almost no notice he was busy prepping our gear at a facility that resembled more of a water closet than a film equipment rental house. Read more »

IWFL Superbowl and All Star Game Live Stream

Live Streaming, Multi-Camera, Production Jul 20, 2010 No Comments

Dallas Diamonds, Boston Militia, Bay Area Sirens: team names you probably won’t hear at your fantasy football draft this year. Read more »