Flip cams and a Canon 5D captured Josh “Screech” Sandoval in the SXSW documentary winner film ‘Dragonslayer’. Photo credit: Animals of Combat
We search for the more interesting and provocative news and views of the past week, just so you don’t have to.
The news this past week included questions on how the industry will handle the results of the Japanese quake, new lower cost cameras and recorders that deliver high-end results, and really low-cost gear that’s turning up in documentarian’s kit bags.
While the human aspects of the tragedy continue to unfold, the production community has begun to discuss how the Japanese earthquake/tsunami affects day-to-day operations. While solid-state technology replaces videotape in the latest camera systems, those who use tape such as Sony’s HDCam SR could soon be filling the pinch of shortages, according to Broadcasting & Cable. A Sony plant in the heavily damaged Sendai region has led some media suppliers to already predict shortages of this tape format, a popular recording media for primetime TV production. More here.
Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter focuses on disrupted release calendars and other detriments to the international box office as a result of the loss of theaters as well as the studios’ pulling of films such as Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, which features a re-creation of Thailand’s deadly 2004 tsunami. Understandably, theater traffic in Japan came to a virtual standstill on the first weekend after the quake, while the near future looks dim for the restart of ticket sales.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that not so surprisingly, local news is going mobile. However you may be at least a little intrigued to learn that the real number shows a rather quick uptake for the recently mainstreamed smartphone and iPad: almost half of all American adults, some 47-percent, say that they get at least some local news and information on their cellphone or tablet computer.
Looking in on hardware news, local manufacturer Cinedeck has released Version 2.0 firmware for its well-received Cinedeck Extreme recorder. Abel Cine’s blog reports that by recording the output of the camera directly via HD-SDI or HDMI, users circumvent the device’s built-in codec to record in DNxHD for Avid, ProRes for Final Cut users, and CineForm Digital Intermediate.
On the ProVideo Coalition website, Adam Wilt and Art Adams report on preliminary tests done on two of the hottest new camcorders, Panasonic’s AG-AF100 and Sony’s PMW-F3. You might be surprised by the amount of chroma moiré—Wilt calls it “a bit shocking”—of the higher priced of the two camcorders.
For those holdouts who still don’t see much of an upside for video on the web, Mashable reports that YouTube plans to expand its staff this year by 30-percent, or close to 200 staffers. The Google-owned video site must have its technology figured out, as most of the open positions are in advertising sales and customer support.
We reported a couple of weeks ago on Beth Marchant’s StudioDaily blogging about a recent talk by Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader on the genesis and production of Taxi Driver. Held at the DGA Theater, the writer and director were on hand at the premiere screening of the new 4K restoration of the 1976 classic. (You can now see it at the Film Forum.)
Beth has now posted the second part of her blog. Read more here about how the summer heat added to the almost ‘palpable’ violence of their mid-town production locales.
New ventures on the web are (again) proposed as viable alternatives for the distribution of indie productions. GigaOM reports on the recently launched Fandor, which uses monthly subscriptions to pay for its mix of independent and international films, along with Popcornflix.com, a new service, which offers free indie films online monetized via advertising.
On her blog filmfwd, Laure Parsons offers more detail about Fandor’s workings, noting how earlier alternative distribution schemes Mubi and IndieFlix haven’t made as much headway as hoped.
In an extensive, informative posting, Filmmaker Magazine’s Scott Macaulay writes his final impressions of SXSW. While he allows that he heard no “Zeitgeist-nailing speaker” nor witnessed a “high-profile washout”, Macaulay does note that it was the “interactive folk” who talked about big issues before packed audiences of two or three thousand, while the indie filmmakers could only hold forth on well-worn topics such as “distribution and DIY” in not so packed rooms that held only one-tenth as many earnest attendees.
Notesonvideo says that writer/director/actor Ed Burns recently conducted an informal Q & A about his latest indie project via Twitter. Burns focuses on very low budget projects now–his “Brothers McMullen” famously cost $28,000—so that he doesn’t go hat in hand ever again. His latest movie Newlyweds, now in post, was shot for $9000. Find out more on his particular approach by clicking here.
Finally, for more low budget breakthroughs, we return to SXSW for this LA Times story of documentary winner Dragonslayer. Shot with a mix of Flip cams and a Canon 5D HDSLR, the video was directed by Tristan Patterson while seasoned veteran Christine “Killer Films” Vachon came on to exec produce.