Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Lost in Light

Friday, October 27th, 2006

A few weeks ago, in an effort to show my students some of the more interesting film and video work being created for the web I discovered Have Money Will Vlog. It’s an ingenious site that helps media artists raise funds to produce their web-distributed videos and films. The project budgets are in the $2000 – $3000 range, and the donations are usually small — $10, $20, and so on. Of course, that money adds up when you consider all the people online.

You get what you pay for, too. The work you’ll find on HMWV is about, oh, a zillion times better than anything you’ll see on YouTube or Google Video. (Unless, of course, you have some predilection for watching pre-teens doing karaoke in front of their webcams.)

Anyway, if you’ve not yet run across Have Money Will Vlog, now is a particularly good time to check out the site (and to dig in your pocket for some loose change) because funds are currently being raised for a project by Jennifer Proctor and Aaron Valdez, two Iowa City filmmakers. The project is called Lost in Light and, in Jennifer’s words (via email) the project is “devoted to preserving, archiving, and making available 8mm and Super 8 films that are otherwise being lost to time.”

In fact, as they state on the Lost in Light websites (HMWV site, official site), “we will provide free Super 8 and 8mm to video transfers to anyone who asks, in exchange for posting their video to the Lost in Light site and on the Internet Archive with their choice of Creative Commons licenses. In addition, Lost in Light will include articles and features by members of the filmmaking and film preservation communities, video tutorials for making 8mm films, as well as creative work, all with the goal of preserving and championing this important film format.”

So, send them your Super-8 and 8mm films. And send them some $ while you’re at it.

Screenwriting Software

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

Lately I’ve been working on some rewrites of a short script, and I find myself dividing my time between two different screenwriting applications. I’m not sure if I’m transitioning from the old (Final Draft) to the new (Celtx), or if I’m just trying to choose between the lesser of two frustrating applications. This post is intended as a kind of sketch of what I’ve been encountering over the last few days in hopes that some readers might contribute some comments on how what they’re choosing to use (and why).

Final Draft
I’ve been using Final Draft 6 since it was released years ago — like ’99 or 2000. For the most part, after several updates and bug fixes (version anyone?) over the years, it’s pretty stable. In the end, it does what it’s supposed to — it makes writing and rewriting scripts in “proper screenplay form” as simple as it is to type a regular text document in something like Microsoft Word. What more could you ask for? Well, a few things:


Red Footage Posted

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

If you’re following the development of the Red Camera (I am), you’ll want to check out the footage they’ve posted on their recently overhauled site. Mike @ HDForIndies says that he thinks it’s only 1K. And it’s not terribly interesting — some sunglasses, and steel grey at that. So what can we judge from this? Not resolution (if it’s 1K) and not color or exposure range (because of the subject matter). In sum, very little. But, it’s another step in the process of the design and hype of this camera — an unusual mixture of transparency and secrecy. There are rumors that there’s more footage soon to come. Hopefully that footage will be accompanied by technical specifications, not to mention some human subjects.

The clip is a downloadable torrent, so you’ll need a peer-to-peer application like Transmission.

Of course, if you’ve somehow only recently discovered filmmaking and/or the internet, you can read this earlier post to get caught up.

ADDED: Matt @ FresHDV catches you up on some of the other recent RED developments.

Free Editing Software

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

Here’s a list of free editing software for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Thanks to FresHDV for discovering this.

Amazon Unbox, or: The Price of Immediate Gratification

Friday, September 8th, 2006

You’ve probably heard that Amazon has gone live with it’s movie download service — Amazon Unbox. In the interests of movie-loving consumers everywhere I decided to visit the site for 30 seconds, role-playing as a prospective customer to this new technology, to report my first impressions.

Here’s how it went:

0-5 seconds: The Unbox page loads.

6-10 seconds: Oh, ok, it’s the same old stuff. Hey, there’s a list of what other people are buying. What are the tastes of the early adopters? Lots of TV shows, Office Space, The Family Stone, Walk the Line…

11-15 seconds: Wow these seem overpriced to me: The Matrix via Unbox digital download is $9.88, while the DVD from Amazon is… the same price.

16-20 seconds: Oh hey, look: I can get The Matrix on DVD from one of Amazon’s Marketplace Sellers, for $1.98. That seems reasonable for a mass-produced piece of Hollywood entertainment that’s seven years old. Plus, if I buy this DVD I would have a permanent hard copy that can be played on a DVD player, unlike what the Unbox regulations allow.

And it’s at that point that I stopped looking.


Unbox is clearly aimed at people wanting immediate gratification. I can’t WAIT two-to-five days for The Matrix to arrive in the mail — I need it now! But I think you always pay extra for immediate gratification — sometimes in cash, sometimes otherwise.

I would, however, consider using Unbox for movies that were otherwise not available on DVD. Something tells me that this might take a while to materialize, but Amazon says its in the works.

One final note: The Unbox page for The Matrix says those with DSL might need about 68 minutes to download. (Cable modem speeds are MUCH faster.) If you have DSL, it will take you longer to download this movie than it would to drive to your local video store. Then again, that would require that you interact with human beings. You make the call.

UPDATE: Beyond the issues outlined above, there are apparently some pretty insidious things buried in the agreement Amazon asks (read: demands) of its customers. Read this fancifully titled post from BoingBoing for more.