Archive for the ‘Tools/Equipment’ Category

Dialect Resources for Actors and Directors

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

The lead actress of the new film I’m working on is doing some dialect research. She shared this link with me, and I just have to share it here. It’s the International Dialects of English Archive (IDEA). From their website, an explanation of the purpose:

The International Dialects of English Archive, IDEA, was created in 1997 as a repository of primary source recordings for actors and other artists in the performing arts. Its home is the Department of Theatre and Film at the University Of Kansas, in Lawrence, KS, USA; while associate editors form a global network. All recordings are in English, are of native speakers, and you will find both English language dialects and English spoken in the accents of other languages. The recordings are downloadable and playable for both PC and Macintosh computers.

It’s an amazing audio archive of dialects from around the United States. Maybe this is old news to actors, but it’s new to me, and quite exciting.

And, just in case you were wondering, we’ve been listening to Tennessee Eight.

How Lenses Are Made

Monday, April 9th, 2007

It’s easy to take for granted the tools we use to make movies. If you’ve never seen how a lens is made and you consider yourself a filmmaker, take 10 minutes out of your day and watch this video.

[via FresHDV]

Ten Commandments from HDforIndies

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

Mike Curtis posted an amusing and, more importantly, instructive rant over at HDforIndies. The post, entitled “OK Indies, listen up – 10 THINGS NOT TO DO“, is a litany of Bad Things that Mike probably encounters once a day in his work as a post-production guru.

Eight of the DON’Ts are technology related. Five, in fact, deal in some way with the Panasonic DVX-100. That camera has earned its spot in the Pantheon of Great Indy Film Tools, no doubt, but its framerate settings (60i, 30p, 24p, 24pAdvanced) can cause a lot of problems if you don’t fully understand them. The fact that most of these problems happen in post-production only adds to the misery — if you’ve shot in multiple formats without understanding their differences and potential incompatibilities, you may have really hurt your project.

If you don’t understand this stuff, check out the CallBox DVD or read carefully in the DVXUser forums.

The two non-technology issues have Mike addressing the fact that so many poor independent filmmakers want him to do their tech consulting for free. Though his blog (like many others, including this one) provides information freely, Mike’s really in business to sell his expertise and information. Since the “product” Mike sells has no physical properties (i.e., it’s not a car or a widget) people seem to think that it should be given freely since it can be asked for freely.

I can relate. Since I teach, it’s my obligation — and it’s my pleasure — to give my information freely to my students. I also try to serve the community (both the film community and my local community) in different ways. But you have to draw the line somewhere in order to do your own work and to pay the bills.

Mike’s answer to people needing answers to specific post-production questions is that you can “pray to Google” or hire him. I’m someone who’s done both. Here’s a post from the past of my own experience in hiring Mike as a consultant.

Costuming Forms and Resources

Monday, March 19th, 2007

Wardrobing on my previous films has often amounted to browsing through each actor’s closet and, if they’re lucky, making a quick stop by the Goodwill.

For my new project, though, there are about 20 characters, not to mention 150 extras, all of whom we have to dress for a mid-19th century masquerade ball.

Just kidding.

In all seriousness, we’re going to have to do a little costuming for the new project I’m working on. It’s nothing elaborate — just a uniform for a baseball player — but a even single costume means taking measurements. I found the following forms online, and they’ve been useful for me. Maybe they’ll be useful for you.

How To Take Measurements

Measurement Form

The first form listed above comes from The Costumer, a costume rental house.

The second form comes from MIT’s OpenCourseWare website, specifically their Fall 2004 course entitled Costume Design for the Theater. I browsed the site for a few minutes. It looks like it could be a great, and free, resource for budding costumers.

Also, while I’m on the subject, MovieMaker Magazine had a pretty good article about low budget costuming last summer.

Finally, if you’re serious about looking at the art of the costume designer, it’s tough to go wrong with Screencraft: Costume Design. It is a good book and, as an added bonus, there’s a large photo of Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman on the cover. Meow!

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 DVXUser.com 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.