Filmic Pro App from Cinegenix is Ideal Tool for Mobile Video Shoots

  • Filmic Pro is a $2.99 app from Cinegenix that transforms the iPhone’s video camera capabilities by providing prosumer features.
  • “The camera lets you set and lock your focus, exposure and white balance,” reports Appletell. “On the backend, a set of menus allows you to set the resolution, from 480×360 up to 1920×1080, though only the iPhone 4S supports that resolution.”
  • Filmic Pro can add color bars and a slate (including countdown) to the video, and bitrate can be modified. Additionally, the app enables exporting directly to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, or Tumblr.
  • “You can also set the Frames Per Second from 30 all the way down to 1,” according to the post. “There’s a simple audio meter, a thirds guide, a framing guide (2.34:1, a standard TV 4:3, and a cinematic 16:9). If you want to make your iPhone video look like it was shot on a 35mm movie camera, there’s a matte box function, too.”
  • Appletell suggests that Filmic Pro’s strengths involve greater control over shooting, setting frame and compression rates and the ability to export footage to Dropbox or FTP. The app does not allow users to edit, set titles, or add special effects.

Texas Instruments Video: Explaining How Immersive Spatial Audio Works

  • This 3 1/2 minute video by Texas Instruments clearly and concisely explains the three components of their 3D audio technology: beam steering, crosstalk cancellation, and head related transfer function (HRTF or the psychoacoustic effect).
  • “Laptops, tablets, mobile phones and other multimedia devices offer an impressive visual experience,” suggests the video. “However, the overall experience is hindered by space constrained audio systems that lack clarity and depth — until now.”
  • Texas Instruments explains in the video how its audio technologies convert the “small sound stage” into an enhanced, immersive experience via techniques that manipulate sounds in desired directions in a 3D space.
  • This is a must-view for anyone interested in spatial audio applications for consumer electronics.

Revolutionizing Wait Time: DreamWorks and Intel Partner on Rendering

  • Animators at DreamWorks have to work in low resolution — “as if blind” — because rendering takes a week for 3 seconds worth of animation.
  • “CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said his company’s four-year partnership with Intel is developing scalable multicore processing methods and software that will change all that,” reports Forbes.
  • Katzenberg explains the partnership is dedicating tens of millions of dollars in an effort to reengineer animation software “in a way that will halve the number of steps in the production line and ramp up animators’ productivity between 50 and 70 times.”
  • The technology will also be widely applicable in areas that use high-end rendering, including medicine, oil, aircraft design and more.
  • “This literally is going to revolutionize waiting,” suggests Katzenberg.

Creativity: Cinematographer Explains the Future of Technology is You

  • DP Art Adams discusses the future of technology and the importance of creative talent behind its use.
  • “Honestly, I’m not so concerned about our technological future: things will always get better, faster and easier over time. My concern is how we, as humans, will relate to technology,” writes Adams. “The last few years have seen a shift in focus from the people to the tools, and that’s a dangerous path to follow.”
  • “As cinematographers we should be selling ourselves on our unique vision and abilities, but instead we often find ourselves selling gear,” he comments regarding what he sees as a disappointing trend.
  • “Somehow the focus must be shifted from the technology back to the people who use the technology, because that’s where all the creativity is.”
  • Adams suggests producers and directors use the same approach that he uses with his own crew: 1) Hire good people who can do their jobs better than you can do their jobs; 2) Tell them what you want; 3) Tell them the parameters (time, budget, etc.); 4) Let them use their creativity and years of experience to solve the problem in their own way; 5) Repeat.

Panel Notes from FoE 5: Crowdsourcing for Producing Media Content

The following are some notable comments from a panel at this week’s Futures of Entertainment conference at MIT.

Panel: “Creating with the Crowd: Crowdsourcing for Funding, Producing and Circulating Media Content”

  • In the pre-production phase, to start a crowd going, you should have fans help you create simple and small ideas. The simple interactions will slowly draw people into the idea. Once they start participating more, then you can move to give them harder tasks — the hardest task/request being funding.
  • Having a community financially invested in a film not only produces funds, but can leverage the community’s time and energy after the film has been released to promote.
  • One of the keys to successful crowdsourced projects is making sure that if you fail, you need to be able to fail fast.
  • When it comes to crowdsourcing, you must find the balance between what you’re asking your crowd to do and what you’re giving them.
  • The success of crowdsourcing demands transparency. There should be a mechanism to let the crowd know how their input has been used. The sense of participation feeds the crowd to continue to participate.
  • Must provide a simple platform for crowds to engage and use.
  • In crowdsourcing there needs to be a person that ultimately decides what goes in to the content. Crowdsourcing isn’t necessarily a democracy, there needs to be a benevolent dictator/editor.
  • Crowdsourcing may become a fad if there are too many projects that are too broad. The more Kickstarter projects there are, for example, the harder it is to support them all. People will ultimately select projects that they are intensely interested in.
  • Who’s the crowd? When the term “crowd” is used, it’s really just an excuse because you don’t know the audience/group’s identity.
  • Right now a vast majority of projects that use the crowd, use it to build funds, or gather ideas. There are very few examples of crowds changing media from the creative aspect.

Mirko Schäfer (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
Bruno Natal (Queremos, Brazil)
Timo Vuorensola (Wreckamovie, Finland)
Caitlin Boyle (Film Sprout)

Post Production Trend: Hollywood Turns to India for Special Effects

  • Hollywood is looking to special effects houses in India to deliver shots for 25-50 percent of what they would spend domestically. PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicts the Indian special effects industry will more than double in size by 2015.
  • Digital Domain is partnering with Reliance MediaWorks, an affiliate of India’s Reliance ADA conglomerate. Lucasfilm is working with India’s Prime Focus for the 3D conversion of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.”
  • Indian companies like Crest Animation Studios and DQ Entertainment, meanwhile, have announced projects with Lionsgate Entertainment and France Television.
  • “These days, as much as a third of the budget for major Hollywood films is earmarked for special effects, according to a research report by accounting firm KPMG. The annual amount spent by filmmakers on special effects in the world’s top five markets totals some $1.9 billion,” reports Fortune.

3D Tutorial Video: Peter Jackson Discusses Production of The Hobbit

  • Director Peter Jackson’s team has created a fascinating 10-minute video covering all aspects of shooting a 3D feature (cameras, frame rates, concept art!, costumes, make-up), using “The Hobbit” as the case study.
  • ETCentric staffer Dennis Kuba adds that this is the fourth in Jackson’s “Hobbit” production videos, this time with a focus on their 3D production. Dennis points out some of the highlights:
  • They are using two RED Epics in a 3ality rig which uses a mirror to replicate a human’s interocular. Both the interocular and the convergence can be altered as they shoot. They also have a camera rig for a crane and a handheld rig. Jackson doesn’t feel that 3D is restricting or changing his shooting style. Interestingly, they are shooting at the same speed as 2D.
  • They are shooting at 5K resolution and 48 fps. Jackson says the effect is “like looking into the real world.”
  • The RED camera “tends to eat color” so they add even more color.” The final film will be graded down to get the right amount of color. For the characters, they found that they needed more red in their makeup otherwise they would appear yellow.
  • This is the first film where the pencil and charcoal concept art is being done in 3D.

Film Fades to Black: How Close is Hollywood to Going All-Digital?

  • Creative COW asks if film is getting ready to fade to black: “While the debate has raged over whether or not film is dead, ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have quietly ceased production of film cameras within the last year to focus exclusively on design and manufacture of digital cameras. That’s right: someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.”
  • “The demand for film cameras on a global basis has all but disappeared,” says Bill Russell, ARRI VP of cameras. “If you talk to the people in camera rentals, the amount of film camera utilization in the overall schedule is probably between 30 to 40 percent.”
  • While film may not be dead, it is most certainly on the decline. Digital production is on the rise, and for those still interested in shooting on film, used cameras are available.
  • “Almost nobody is buying new film cameras,” says Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala. “Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world?”
  • Stereoscopic 3D production may also be “accelerated the demise of film” says Beauviala, since it is “a nightmare to synchronize two film cameras.”
  • Russell predicts that film will eventually disappear, although the exact date is unknown. Phil Radin, executive VP of worldwide marketing at Panavision suggests the timing will be decided by the availability of resources. “Film will be around as long as Kodak and Fuji believe they can make money at it,” he says.

Disruptive TV Trends: What is the Future of the Business of Television?

  • Amsterdam’s annual IBC event offered a number of potential TV game-changers earlier this month, suggests TVNewsCheck. These include cloud-based or service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications for capturing, producing, processing and distributing digital video and audio; IT-based playout (channel in a box) tools that could potentially make broadcast playout more affordable; and 3D technology likely to be deployed for the 2012 London Olympics.
  • Also on display were technologies “aimed at making 3D production more affordable and compatible with standard 2D operations.”
  • Cloud services were at the forefront since broadcasters are now challenged by having to support an increasing number of distribution platforms.
  • Vendors discussed the fundamental concerns about cloud-based architectures, “notably content security, access to content, collaboration, bandwidth and workflow continuity,” reports TVNewsCheck.
  • In a related article from GigaOM that analyzes shifts in traditional television, venture capitalist Habib Kairouz writes that the TV industry is poised for some significant changes due to a number of upcoming trends: TV anywhere and anytime will catch on; the rise of the Internet-connected TV and interactive programming; and personalized advertising.
  • The article suggests that content owners will benefit as MSOs, IPTV providers, and others compete with one another. MSO’s are hedging their bets by purchasing both traditional and interactive content, while TV manufacturers are looking to build Internet services into their low margin businesses. We should watch for new entrants to increase the disruption in this space.

International 3D Initiative: U.S. and Korea Sign Pact, Pledge Cooperation

  • Members of the International 3D Society from South Korea and the U.S. announced they would work together to advance 3D technology through joint development, production, marketing and distribution.
  • The signing ceremony took place at DreamWorks Animation last week.
  • As part of the agreement Sony, Disney and DreamWorks Animation will cooperate with Korean companies such as Korea Telecom, EBS and Skylife in an international effort to boost 3D adoption.
  • “A second agreement was signed between the two I3DS chapters and the Korea Radio Promotion Association to encourage educational programs and exchanges,” reports Variety. “Dr. Doo Hwan Choi, chairman of Korea’s I3DS chapter and CTO of Korea Telecom, which co-sponsored the ceremony, said the society’s educational programs will provide the kinds of opportunities and program development required by the burgeoning business.”

Is the iPad and GarageBand Changing the Face of Music Production?

  • Apple’s iPad is becoming a production tool for both professional and amateur musicians.
  • One band, The Ultramods, produced their recent album in two weeks using only GarageBand on the iPad.
  • Damon Albarn’s hip-hop project, Gorillaz, combines real vocals and instruments with synthesizers using a collection of apps including Korg iELECTRIBE, Moog Filatron and FunkBox Drum Machine. According to Pocket-lint: “It perfectly illustrates the convenience of being able to lay down tracks on a device, while on the move, with no access to a desktop computer or studio.”
  • Accessory brand Griffin’s PR director, Jackie Ballinger explains the benefits of tablets for musicians: “Technology, like the iPad enables musicians to become mobile without losing quality, now people are able to make music anywhere without limitations and without substantial costs. With the iPad and relevant apps a less costly alternative to recording studios and instruments, aspiring musicians have the opportunity to produce professional recording using solely these means.”
  • The article points out that Apple’s GarageBand is the top-selling music app on the iTunes store, and with “iPad prices starting at $499, along with the $4.99 for the GarageBand, that puts the basic cost of The Ultramods’ album production at just under $505.”

Hollywood Invited to Test Drive MIT/NASA Stereo 3D Camera Rig

  • Community partnering initiative School Safety Summit, established by Colorado State Senator Steve King, has announced that a new 360-degree 3D motion picture camera rig developed at MIT under two NASA contracts is being tested by Colorado education leaders and community partners.
  • The panoramic rig is also available for Hollywood experimentation. According to the press release: “The Summit’s 3D Task Force invites filmmakers and 3D TV producers worldwide to join the experiment and develop scriptwriting and directing approaches that take full advantage of the 360-degree stereo 3D experience made possible by the new system.”
  • The press release adds: “Participating industry leaders will have a first look to evaluate applications in theatrical and home entertainment, special events, education, and enterprises that would benefit from omnidirectional robotic vision and depth perception as well as an unprecedented level of image and sound processing.”
  • The stereoscopic system synchronizes multiple cameras to create a “high resolution, wide field of view image database from which images can be combined in real time.” Image blending technology collects data wirelessly and generates an “extended panoramic view in which the combined images form a full circle, or movie cyclorama. Images can also be combined so that the cycloramic view extends upwardly or downwardly to create a continuous, unobstructed, omnidirectional image that extends a full 4 pi steradians.”
  • The inventors cite applications ranging from the control of robots on planetary surfaces to the control of firefighting drones to event filming and dramas that place the audience at the center of the story.
  • For those who may be interested, sign up at for an orientation kit and schedule.

ESPN Takes a New Approach to 3D Production

  • Variety reports that ESPN remains enthusiastic about 3D technology, despite its slow adoption (and AT&T’s recent decision to drop ESPN 3D from its U-Verse TV service).
  • ESPN is pushing its 3D effort by focusing on combining 2D and 3D production (nicknamed “5D”), which the network says brings costs down substantially. 2D/3D production includes slower cutting and more use of robotic cameras. As the production crews gain more experience in shooting sports beyond HD, the equipment, camera placement and general approach continues to improve.
  • “Some innovations created for 3D have even made it over to the 2D side,” reports Variety. “For example, 3D cameras need to be closer to the action than 2D cameras, so the high 50-yard-line shots that are a staple of football coverage are problematic. To get closer, ESPN put a 3D camera on a 22-foot mast on a small vehicle that goes up and down the sideline.”
  • ESPN stands by the technology, explaining that Twitter feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. And some play-by-play announcers have even indicated they don’t want to go back to watching 2D.

Motion-Capture Technology Improved for Shooting Exteriors

  • Twentieth Century Fox’s “Rise of The Planet of The Apes,” premiering next month, made extensive use of performance capture techniques in its exterior shots.
  • Visual effects house Weta Digital, that developed motion capture techniques for “Avatar,” considers this the next step in the technique’s evolution.
  • “Avatar” was shot largely on enclosed sound stages, while “Rise” shot motion-capture performances on exterior sets.
  • Weta Digital created a portable performance capture rig teamed with special LED markers placed on the actors, enabling the production to take place in broad daylight.
  • “It was like the final step of mixing live-action and digital filmmaking,” explains senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri.
  • Actor Andy Serkis, a veteran of several performance-capture films, is developing a studio and academy to teach the technique, with the goal of making it more affordable and accessible even to lower-budget films.

Hollywood Digital Push Brings Together Technicolor and Deluxe

  • Technicolor Inc. and Deluxe Entertainment Services announced a new partnership for film print production and distribution, as the demand for film prints continues to wane.
  • According to the Los Angeles Times: “Technicolor will subcontract its 35mm film print business in North America to Deluxe,” while “Deluxe will farm out its 35mm print distribution business to Technicolor.”
  • Technicolor closed its North Hollywood plant earlier this year, and will soon close a plant outside of Montreal.
  • Technicolor will open a smaller facility in Glendale focused on producing prints for IMAX and other big screen theaters.
  • Plummeting demand for prints stems from theaters converting to digital projection; the transition has taken place in nearly half of the 42,000 screens in the U.S.

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