Archive for the ‘DVD’ Category

Review: 24P Digital Post Production with Final Cut Pro and the DVX100

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Call Box’s 24P Digital Post Production with Final Cut Pro and the DVX100 is a new instructional DVD that features Noah Kadner, one of the early adopters of the DVX100, talking about different workflows and best practices when using those two eponymous (and ubiquitous) tools of independent filmmaking.

The DVD runs 90 minutes, and it’s divided into several small episodes in which Kadner discusses lots of basics (e.g., what’s a slate and how to use it, recommended tape stock) and some intermediate techniques (e.g., why and how to use CinemaTools, exporting projects for Color Correction at a post house, etc.). While some of the topics that Kadner covers seem pretty basic for anyone familiar with the discussion boards, my suspicion is that this DVD grew out issues that Kadner has seen over and over in his consulting gigs. Sometimes the biggest problems that consultants solve stem from very simple things that were overlooked at the beginning of a project.

The video is well-shot on a bare-bones set, which puts the focus on Kadner, who is an engaging teacher. The DVD presentation is professional; it can be watched in one sitting, or chapter-by-chapter, which is useful if there’s one topic you particularly want to revisit. I do wish that it was a DVD-Rom, perhaps to include some quicktime files to practice with, but I suppose Kadner assumes we wouldn’t be watching if we didn’t already have these tools ourselves.

Do note that this DVD focuses almost entirely on circumventing workflow problems using the DVX100 and FCP. This is NOT a “how-to-edit” in Final Cut Pro DVD, nor is it a manual on how to get the most of the DVX100’s sophisticated imaging settings. (For an instructional guide on how to use FCP, I recommend Larry Jordan’s Final Cur Pro 5 Essential Editing, Beyond the Basics, and Essential Effects DVDs. For a guide on making the most of the DVX100’s image options, check out Barry Green’s The DVX Book, which sometimes ships with new DVX100s.)

If you’ve shot and completed a few projects without any hitches using 24pAdvanced footage, 24P Digital Post Production with Final Cut Pro and the DVX100 probably isn’t for you. But beginning to intermediate users venturing into 24p production would do well to spend 90 minutes with this disc before racing into production. Some might hesitate at the $75 pricetag but, as Kadner points out on the DVD, he gets paid $75 an hour to solve other filmmakers’ problems. I guess you could think of this as preventive medicine (at 2/3 of the cost).

More information can be found at Call Box.

Favorites: 2006

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

The year’s officially over, so I thought I would share my “Top Tens” and “Best Of” lists. Of course, since I live outside of New York and L.A., I’ve not had a chance to see several movies that were on so many critics’ year-end lists. Instead, I’ve made mulitple lists — some short, some long — of my favorites from 2006. After all, how can we call something “Best Of” when we haven’t surveyed all there is out there?

Ten Favorite Independent Films – Features and Shorts
Contest – Sunrise Tippeconnie
Dance Party USA – Aaron Katz
Five More Minutes – Dena DeCola and Karin E. Wandner
I Am A Sex Addict – Caveh Zahedi
Iraq in Fragments – James Longley
LOL – Joe Swanberg
Mutual Appreciation – Andrew Bujalski
The Puffy Chair – The Duplass Brothers
Some Analog Lines – David Lowery
War – Jake Mahaffy

Favorite Studio Film: A Scanner Darkly – Richard Linklater

Favorite Foreign Film: L’Enfant – The Dardenne Brothers
Pan’s Labrinth – Guillermo Del Toro

Other Honorable Mentions: An Inconvenient Truth, Half Nelson, Brothers of the Head, A Family Finds Entertainment, Head Trauma

Three Noteworthy Disappointments
The Departed
Little Miss Sunshine
A Prairie Home Companion

An Incomplete List of 2006 Films I’m Eager To See
Children of Men
Inland Empire
Kurt Cobain: About a Son
Letters from Iwo Jima
Old Joy
Pan’s Labyrinthseen 2.3.07
Three Times

Favorite Non-Contemporary DVD Releases:
Jackal of Nahueltoro – Miguel Littin – Terra Entertainment
Punishment Park – Peter Watkins – New Yorker
Seven Samurai (remaster) – Akira Kurasawa – Criterion
Six Moral Tales Box Set – Eric Rohmer – Criterion
Star Spangled to Death – Ken Jacobs
Wanda – Barbara Loden – Parlour Pictures
Yi Yi – Edward Yang – Criterion

Most exciting development in DVD for 2007: Criterion’s Eclipse label

Best Moviegoing Experience I Had in 2006: Seeing Yi Yi for the first time.

Self-Reliant Film Store

Monday, November 20th, 2006

I get a fair number of emails asking me to recommend this or that book, or asking what films constitute a “Self-Reliant Film canon” and so on. So I thought that I’d add a modest Amazon store so that I can simply point people towards books I recommend, movies I like (or want to see), and so on.

You can access the store by clicking the link below and, after this post loses prominence, you can always access the store by clicking on the SRF Store in the menu bar at the top of the site, just under the banner.

Purchasing through the store will help offset the costs of server space, etc. so if you do purchase something, thanks a bunch!

Finally, if this feels crassly commercial, please note that the header of the SRF store says “Stuff to Buy or Borrow.” Knowing what you need and don’t need to buy are good principles of self-reliance. If you got some of these things from your local library or a friend I’m sure Thoreau and Emerson would be proud.

Click here to enter the SRF Store.

I’ll be doing holiday stuff over the next week. When I return I’ll be doing some posts related to a new film project of mine. Happy Thanksgiving!

Dance Party USA

Friday, November 17th, 2006

I’ve heard good things about Aaron Katz’s microbudget feature Dance Party USA, which opens in New York today. If you’re in New York, go see it. If you’re not, order the DVD like I did.

Here’s an interview conducted by David Lowery.

And here’s one from indieWire.

DVD Round-Up: 5.24.06

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Judging from the uptick in visitors and from the comments it received, my post about my watching 14 hours of student films was apparently of interest to a lot of people. So, in the interests of giving the people what they want, here’s a special short film edition of DVD round-up.

Cinema 16. Produced in Great Britain, Cinema 16 (not to be confused with first film society in the USA) is a new series of short film compilations on DVD. There are three editions (so far), and alongside more recent festival favorites, each DVD features early short films by contemporary masters. Please note: These are Region 2 PAL discs; you’ll need a region-free player to watch them in America.

Cinema 16: European Short Films, for example, features early shorts — in some cases the very first films — by Lars von Trier, Jean-Luc Godard, Tom Tykwer, Nanni Moretti, Lukas Moodysson, and Jan Svankmajer. Godard’s entry, “All The Boys Are Called Patrick” (written by Eric Rohmer) is found commonly found elsewhere, but I can’t think of any other place to find many of these films.

Cinema 16: American Short Films. The American edition similarly collects some noteworthy works. The two that have me most curious are D.A. Pennebaker’s “Daybreak Express” and Gus Van Sant’s “The Discipline of D.E.” If this doesn’t interest you there are also student films by Tim Burton, Todd Solondz, Alexander Payne, and George Lucas, among others.

Cinema 16: British Short Films. With the British edition you get a strong lineup headlined by Ridley Scott (directing his brother Tony Scott), Peter Greenaway, Christopher Nolan, Lynne Ramsay, and Mike Leigh. The only downside here is that the shorts by Greenaway (“Dear Phone”), Ramsay (“Gasman”) and Leigh “The Short and Curlies”) have all been released elsewhere — the latter two on Criterion editions of Ratcatcher and Naked, while the Greenaway is on the compliations mentioned below.

Their First Films. Another treasure trove of early films is Their First Films, a Korean DVD (Region 3 — like the ones above, you’ll need a region-free player). The films found here are not always, as the title suggests, the first films by the included directors, but if you can look past the inaccuracy of its title, this is worthwhile viewing. Indeed, if you’re a fan of the French New Wave, this disc is probably a must-have. Included are early works by: Maurice Pialat, Jean-Luc Godard (here, it’s “Charlotte et son Jules” from 1958), Jacques Rivette, Francois Truffaut & Jean-Luc Godard (“Histoire d’eau”), Patrice Leconte, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, and Jean-Pieree Melville’s “24 Hours in the Life of a Clown” from 1946. The best of the bunch is Alain Resnais’s “Le Chant du Styrene”, a comissioned film about polystyrene shot in color cinemascope. Jonathan Rosenbaum has rightfully called it “easily the most beautiful ‘industrial’ ever made.” To the best of my knowledge it’s not available on any other compilation. Their First Films can be found at various Asian DVD retailers around the net like this one and this one.

Greenaway – Early Films Box Set. I saw Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover in the theater, and I remember being mesmerized by the whole thing. It was as strange as anything my seventeen year-old eyes had ever seen up until that point in a movie theater. Later Greenaway films, like Prospero’s Books, interested me less — I always ended up respecting them more than I actually appreciated them. Still, I’m very curious about these short films, which are available for the first time on DVD here in the US. It’s a two-disc set. Disc one collects the shorts “A Walk Through H: The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist”, “H is for House”, “Windows”, “Dear Phone”, “Water Wrackets”, and “Intervals.” The centerpiece of disc two is The Falls. If you’re not interested in the box set, the two dvds are available separately, though purchasing them together brings a bit of a discount. Region 1.

The Journal of Short Film. Recently named by Library Journal as one of the Best Magazines of 2005, The Journal of Short Film aims to collect some of the better shorts circulating at festivals (and elsewhere) four times a year. The Journal‘s website promotes the fact that it is “peer-reviewed by filmmakers and scholars of film theory”, as well as “non-corporate”, “ad-free” and has an “open and free submission process.” Good things, indeed. Volume 3, which was just released (and which I have viewed), is a grab bag of narratives, documentaries, animations and things in-between. Among the highlights are Cindy Stillwell’s “High Plains Winter”, an experimental documentary, which captures the isolation and adventure that winter in Montana can inspire, and Josh Hyde’s neo-realist inflected “Chicle.” Volume 3 also featured a few too many of those clever, over-produced “calling card” films for my tastes, but variety is the spice of life, I suppose. Some other viewers, no doubt, will warm to the very films I wasn’t fond of and vice-versa. One way or another, The JSF is worth investigating, and libraries, especially those of universities with film programs, would be smart to add it to their collections. (Filmmakers interested in submitting to The Journal of Short Film should read the information on submissions The JSF’s website.)