Archive for the ‘Tools/Equipment’ Category

Tape is dead! Long live tape!

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

It struck me today that For Memories’ Sake will probably be the last movie I’m involved with that uses videotape. Ashley began shooting the documentary with the venerable DVX-100 in 2006 and, for consistency’s sake, we stuck with that camera through production. All the new projects that I have on the horizon will be shot with a tapeless cinema camera, whether it’s made by Panasonic, Sony, or Red. So tape is dead to me.

Or is it?

One of the issues, of course, about shooting tapeless formats is what you do with the data. While editing with tapeless footage, of course, I keep lots of backups on drives in different locations. But after the project is completed, using hard drives to archive the footage is not a reliable solution. Of course, I’ll confess that this is what I’ve done in the past. But as my hard drives age, and as I amass more footage that I’ll want to hang onto, I know I need to find another solution. Most pros will tell you that solution is (wait for it)…. tape. Specifically, LTO or “Linear Tape Open.”

Luckily, for us Mac users out there, Helmut Kobler recently did us all a service by summarizing how to get started with LTO4 tape archiving on a Mac. Kobler estimates the low-end price tag for a Mac-compatible LTO system as $3300.

That figure may seem like a lot to independent filmmakers. (I wonder how many fewer Panasonic HVX200s or Sony EX-1s would have been sold if this cost was factored into the purchase price?)

In the end, whether to spend this kind of money amounts to questions about risk and value: How much do you value your data? And how much risk are you willing to take that your data might be lost forever?

For me, that $3300 is starting to look like a decent value. Long live tape!

Final Cut Pro tips: Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Monday, September 21st, 2009

I started noodling with Final Cut Pro soon after it came out (ten years ago!) and taught myself how to use it. By taught, I mean that I learned to hack my way around and accomplish what I needed. But it wasn’t pretty or fast.

After a few years, I really started feeling the limitations of my abilities, so I decided to dig into some tutorials. For whatever reason — probably because I’d seen a few for free online — I chose Larry Jordan’s Lynda.com video tutorials. These helped me immensely with everything from media management tips to techniques that greatly reduced the time I’d spend fumbling through FCP’s interface.

Even if you don’t need to teach (or re-teach) yourself Final Cut Studio, I highly recommend that you check out Larry’s free Monthly Newsletter. Among the tips this month:

Startup Mode Selector, a free application that helps Snow Leopard users learn more about, and harness, 64-bit technology without use of the terminal…

Ken Stone’s excellent iChat Theatre tutorial

and Apple’s substantial (40pages) white paper on Customizing Final Cut Studio Blu-Ray Disc Templates.

Enjoy.

New Final Cut Studio released: Yawning and Gnashing of Teeth Ensue

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Apple announced a major (i.e., “you have to pay for it”) Final Cut Studio upgrade yesterday. It doesn’t have a flashy name like “Final Cut Studio 3” or anything like that. They’re just calling it Final Cut Studio. Kinda like The Velvet Underground calling their third album… The Velvet Underground.

As most readers know, I’m a fan of Final Cut, so it’s a big deal to me when a major upgrade of the software is released. (more…)

LED Lighting Units review

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

David Tames of Kino-Eye has just posted a great review of four professional LED lighting units under $1K.

I really trust David’s insights on technology (not just tools, but how to use them), and I’ve been looking into acquiring one of these units myself, so this helps a lot.

How to make a screenings map with Google

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

After my recent post, which mapped out the past and upcoming Quick Feet, Soft Hands television screenings, some folks at ITVS asked if I wouldn’t mind sharing how I made the map so that they could encourage other filmmakers they work with to do the same.

Though I’m far from the first person to do this sort of thing, I was, of course, happy to oblige. It’s a great way to visually communicate with your audience about when and where they can see your work.

(more…)