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ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Travel

Good Night, Irene—Confessions of a Mileage Whore

Bronze Certificate, Funny Travel Category, 9th Annual Solas Awards for Travel Writing from Travelers’ Tales, March 2015

It’s not easy being a mileage whore. Sometimes you have to do things that don’t seem to make sense.

United Airlines operates a major hub in San Francisco, and I’ve whored for their miles for years now. On my trip to Brazil recently, because I wanted the mileage, I had chosen a longer United itinerary through Newark going and Washington coming.

But when things got complicated on the return, I had to decide if the miles were worth it.

We wrapped our week-long video shoot in São Paulo on a Friday night—amid much hugging and thanking with the cast and crew—and had time to relax over dinner that evening.

Saturday was the first day all week I didn’t have to set my alarm for 5:30, and I luxuriated in sleeping in. I had plans to meet my co-worker for breakfast before his 3 pm flight back home to Salvador, Bahia, further north up the Brazilian coast. My own departure for the States was scheduled for Saturday night.

But when I awoke with a start Saturday morning, I had an . . . CONTINUE READING: Good Night, Irene—Confessions of a Mileage Whore

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing

New Book Review? Is This English?

I just found an online page which appears, at first, to be a review of my book SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA. Then I read the page all the way through. I know these are English words, but … is this English? My favorites are learning that “SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA … lets you cook flavorful and tasty food without the hassles” and “will go a long way to discourage mischievous activities at the home or business. The one is simply the ultimate for the budget-conscious hunter that refuses to sacrifice performance.”

Huh?

Here is the whole piece, from suchwatch.com, which purports to be an “Internet online shopping directory:”

Showdown At Shinagawa: Tales Of Filming From Bombay To Brazil is a outstanding trait and fairly appropriate creation for the low-cost price. We grant shoppers with the highest mannerism and most innovative productions in the website. You can surely procure the produce and more replacement at the cheap price with reliable transaction.

You will get Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil cut-price price after check the price. You can read more productions subject and features. This unit is high quality and . . . CONTINUE READING: New Book Review? Is This English?

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Teaching • Tech

Why They Call It Far-go

At 9 am Monday, I left my home near San Francisco for what proved to be one of my longest trips ever. Twenty-nine hours later, I reached my destination, after a grueling air journey.

But I hadn’t been hurled halfway around the world. I had finally touched down in Fargo, North Dakota, just halfway across the U.S., a mere 1450 miles from home.

At that rate—about 50 miles per hour—I could have driven there.

By comparison, some years before, in 24 hours, I flew from Singapore to Johannesburg to Nairobi to Kampala, Uganda—over 7500 miles. Another time I traveled 8800 miles from San Francisco to Singapore in 23 hours, including a very short overnight in Bangkok. Twice I had flown nearly 10,000 miles to India through Frankfurt in a mere 21 hours.

But the day before my departure for Fargo, a “Check in Now” email from United hinted that I might have a problem. Though my calendar insisted it was March 30, and that spring had sprung ten days before, Fargo hadn’t gotten the memo. The weather forecast for my destination was “Blizzard” (a word I had hoped never to see on a boarding pass), accompanied by an ominous . . . CONTINUE READING: Why They Call It Far-go

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Travel • Production

New Award & Reviews for SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil

My book SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA tells true stories from my long career as a director of photography, working on film and digital cinema shoots across the U.S. and all around the world—Japan, India, China, Uganda, the Philippines, New Zealand, France, Singapore, England, Taiwan, Mexico, and Brazil.

The book has recently been honored as a Commended Winner in Non-Fiction in the 2014 Self-Publishing Review Awards. One of the three highest non-fiction awards!

RECENT REVIEWS

  • “Funny, sweet, and wise…deeply moving human interest stories…the doctor in India who doesn’t charge for treating people via telemedicine, the young man in England with cystic fibrosis who has a new lease on life thanks to a portable nebulizer, and the medical student in Uganda who is tirelessly working to help his people.”—Foreword Clarion Reviews
  • “The author recalls his near ‘big break’…as a novice director doing preproduction in the Philippines for a low-budget Japanese sci-fi film…Thumbs up for this filmmaker’s collection of postcards from the edge.”—Kirkus Reviews
  • “’Shanghai Lunch’ is a funny little vignette about Westerners trying Chinese delicacies. ‘The Big . . . CONTINUE READING: New Award & Reviews for SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil
  • ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Muse

    For Mom, A Century Later—We Miss Your Bright Eyes and Sweet Smile

    Today is the 100th birthday of my mom, Jeanette Tulman Zarchy, who passed away about two years ago. In her honor, I am republishing this eulogy I wrote for her memorial.

    I want to tell you a little about our mom, whose life mirrored our nation’s history for the last century.

    She was born Jeanette Dorothy Tulman on May 4, 1914. Think about that for a minute. She was born before the start of World War One, when Woodrow Wilson was president, the first of 17 presidents during her lifetime.

    Jeanette was born at home at 107 Bristol Street, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, a neighborhood of immigrants. Her family rented, then owned and lived in the three apartments at 107 for generations, the occupants changing a bit from time to time, as these relatives moved out and those cousins moved in. At one point my great-uncle Julius Littinsky had his medical office on the ground floor. Other members of the extended family lived nearby. My great-uncle Israel Brower had a pharmacy a block away, on the corner of Bristol Street and Pitkin Avenue.

    Jeanette’s family was the Fiddler on the Roof generation. They had fled oppression in . . . CONTINUE READING: For Mom, A Century Later—We Miss Your Bright Eyes and Sweet Smile

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Travel • Production

    SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA Now Available in Paperback and Kindle e-Book Versions

    SHOWDOWN AT SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil

    New Book by BILL ZARCHY on sale now!

    Introduction by Larry Habegger

    Bill Zarchy’s new book—SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA—is now on sale at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle e-book versions. SHOWDOWN AT SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil tells true stories from Zarchy’s long career as a director of photography, working on film and digital cinema shoots across the U.S. and all around the world—Japan, India, China, Uganda, the Philippines, New Zealand, France, Singapore, England, Taiwan, Mexico, and Brazil. . . . CONTINUE READING: SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA Now Available in Paperback and Kindle e-Book Versions

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing

    Daniel Pinkham: The Unpredictable-ness of What’s Coming Next

    A new profile on Dan Pinkham I wrote for Varney’s Place, the blog of The Kenwood Group:

    “In college, I supported myself with a commissioned sales job at a prominent Westwood Village camera store. One day I sold a super-8 camera to Johnny Carson and had the pleasure of teaching him how to use it! That was a mind-blowing moment for a film school student, to be sure.”

    Common knowledge about personality types: humans are either left-brained—analytical, detail-minded, mathematical, and logical—or right-brained—creative, thoughtful, artistic, and open-minded. It depends on which side of the brain is dominant, right? . . . CONTINUE READING: Daniel Pinkham: The Unpredictable-ness of What’s Coming Next

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Muse

    Unpunished

    Ten of us arrive, unannounced, at the restaurant on the terrace, hoping for an outside table.

    The staff seats us quickly, then waters, breads, menus, wines, serves, desserts, and espressos us in style. The service is seamless, though during the meal I notice one of our waitresses hurrying by, looking harried. But we gab and laugh and catch up in the sun on the terrace, enjoying the company, the food, and the splendid New England day.

    Eventually the waitress brings the check, with amends. “I’m so sorry about the delay. Thanks for your understanding.” . . . CONTINUE READING: Unpunished

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Tech

    Sony F5 & F55 Workshop at AbelCine in Burbank

    Earlier this month, I attended a workshop at AbelCine in Burbank called Sony F5 & F55: Practical Shooting with Alister Chapman for the DIT and DP.

    The new Sony PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 both offer Super 35mm, CMOS image sensors, wide dynamic range, high sensitivity, and an extensive variety of internal recording options. Except for the black lens mount on the F5 and the silver lens mount on the F55, the form factors of the two cameras appear identical. . . . CONTINUE READING: Sony F5 & F55 Workshop at AbelCine in Burbank

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Tech

    On Predicting the Future: Roku’s Reward and Augmented Reality

    Predicting the future is a tricky business. It’s difficult to know what’s going to happen, and you never know whom you might inspire.

    Jim Samalis, who joined Kenwood as Executive Creative Director on April 1, was reminded recently of a visionary film he made years ago, and was rewarded by seeing the fruit of some seeds he helped to sow.

    The story starts seven years ago. . . . CONTINUE READING: On Predicting the Future: Roku’s Reward and Augmented Reality

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Production

    Two Worthy Film Projects Need Your Donations

    I have just pledged money to two worthy film projects by Eliciana Nascimento and Eli Adler, and I urge my readers to do the same.

    Eliciana, an MFA student at San Francisco State, took (and aced!) my Advanced Cinematography class this spring. She and husband Ben Watkins plan to film her thesis project, The Summer of Gods, in her native Brazil, and are trying to raise $30,000 to shoot and complete the film this year. The Summer of Gods is a short film about a young girl named Lilli who visits her grandmother in rural Brazil. Near her village, she encounters Orishas (African gods) who challenge her with a mission. . . . CONTINUE READING: Two Worthy Film Projects Need Your Donations

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Baseball

    Writing Projects for Varney’s Place

    Recently completed pieces for The Kenwood Group, for their Varney’s Place blog:

    Giants Stadium: In the Shadow of Kenwood

    Starting Friday afternoon and 81 times in the next six months, the neighborhood around Kenwood will be transformed. Thousands of people of all ages wearing Halloween colors and panda and giraffe hats will flood the streets around our office, their shirts bearing an odd collection of names which are common nouns like Posey, Pagan, Panda, Pence, Belt, Huff, Bonds, Snow, Mays, the Beard, and the Freak, as well as unique three-syllable names like Bumgarner, Vogelsong, Marichal, Scutaro, McCovey, and Lincecum. . . . CONTINUE READING: Writing Projects for Varney’s Place

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Muse

    Roving Camera’s 2500th Facebook Like

    The Facebook Page for Roving Camera: Bill Zarchy’s Blog passed 2500 Likes earlier today. It’s been my pleasure to write for you on a crazy array of subjects for more than two-and-a-half years, and I humbly appreciate your support, enthusiasm, and suggestions.

    I’ll be publishing two books of my stories this summer and have more surprises in the works, so stay tuned! . . . CONTINUE READING: Roving Camera’s 2500th Facebook Like

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Production • Tech

    NAB Roundup 2013: LED Fresnels, Camera Accessories

    I first wrote about the development of LED Fresnel lights two years ago, tracking earlier reactions by the industry to high energy consumption and high heat output: “Greening the Film Business: LED Fresnels.” This year I followed up with some of the same manufacturers.

    Fresnel lenses, originally invented for lighthouses, have long been used on movie lights for careful light control and sharp shadows. Their typical concentric ring style enables them to have great diameter without clumsy thickness. . . . CONTINUE READING: NAB Roundup 2013: LED Fresnels, Camera Accessories

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Production • Tech

    NAB Roundup 2013: Cameras

    Las Vegas is known for its buffets, and the NAB Show at the Vegas Convention Center is a grand smorgasbord of technology.

    The floor exhibits fill over 800,000 square feet. 92,000 attendees crowd around 1500 exhibitors showing the latest products and services in TV and radio broadcasting, film and video production and postproduction, cloud computing, entertainment technology, file-based workflows, 3D visuals, and pro audio. . . . CONTINUE READING: NAB Roundup 2013: Cameras

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Photos

    Bay Bridge Dinosaurs

    I came upon these dinosaurs on the Bay Bridge recently.

    They seemed to be heading west toward San Francisco, but I really can’t be sure where they were going, or why. They appeared to be driving a chariot and rapidly overtaking the white pickup in front of them. . . . CONTINUE READING: Bay Bridge Dinosaurs

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Photos • Tech

    Camera Gallery 2012

    It’s been quite a year for digital cinema cameras. We’ve seen new models of all sizes and form factors, from the hugest to the smallest, from still cameras that take amazing-looking video to video cameras that also shoot high-resolution stills. Here are some of the new and improved cameras of 2012. . . . CONTINUE READING: Camera Gallery 2012

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Production • Tech

    Apple’s Knowledge Navigator (in 1987) Foreshadowed Our Current Tech Toys

    The professor enters his wood-paneled office to the sound of a harpsichord concerto.

    He walks to his desk and opens a strange-looking, hinged device, which bongs like a Macintosh. It’s about the size of a laptop, but it opens like a book, revealing two screens.

    “You have three messages,” says a face on the device. “Your graduate team in Guatemala, a second-semester junior, and your mother reminding you about your father’s …”

    “… Surprise birthday party tomorrow,” says the professor, cutting off his digital butler with the touch of a finger on the screen. Clearly he’s been reminded before. . . . CONTINUE READING: Apple’s Knowledge Navigator (in 1987) Foreshadowed Our Current Tech Toys

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing • Production

    Writing Projects: Hurricane Sandy / Trip to Taipei

    Wearing my writer’s hat, I’ve recently cranked out two articles for The Kenwood Group about some of their projects, published on their Varney’s Place blog.

    Into the Storm: Producing a Movie Marathon in the Face of a Hurricane

    Imagine planning a live event long in advance, only to have the storm of the century threaten to shut you down.

    On a recent project for NVIDIA, Kenwood managed to pull off a production just before Superstorm Sandy hit New York, but completing the project proved difficult in the aftermath.

    The plan: producing the Rooftop Films Indie Horror Movie Marathon in Brooklyn, with scary flicks and features on several HD projectors, and a live band playing heavy metal. . . . CONTINUE READING: Writing Projects: Hurricane Sandy / Trip to Taipei

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • VIdeos • Production

    Temple Beautiful—Part II of Chuck Prophet’s Musical Tour of San Francisco

    San Francisco rock musician Chuck Prophet has released a new video—Part II of a musical tour of San Francisco, named for his newest album, “Temple Beautiful.”

    After recording his last album in Mexico City, says Chuck, “I was looking to make a record closer to home.”

    Part I of Chuck’s Temple Beautiful video tour was released in February. In Part II we visit Chuck’s home and studio and many of his old haunts in the Mission and North Beach. . . . CONTINUE READING: Temple Beautiful—Part II of Chuck Prophet’s Musical Tour of San Francisco

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Production • Tech

    The Cloud: Thousands of Overheated, Polluting, Power-Hungry Data Centers

    Go ahead, buy it.

    Add to Cart. Proceed to Checkout. Enter Payment Info. Place Order.

    A nice, clean transaction in cyberspace, right? No need to consume fossil fuels driving to an actual store, which in turn must be electrified, heated, and stocked with not-quite-right products and pesky salespeople trying to sell warranties. Besides the costs and byproducts of the delivery process, the online transaction seems pretty innocent, environmentally speaking. Right?

    But the data from your purchase, the store’s inventory control, the product shipping, and each confirming email, are all stored somewhere in “the cloud.” Despite the ethereal name, the ever-growing cloud consists of massive numbers of computer servers in tens of thousands of data centers around the country and around the world, all sucking massive amounts of power, absorbing numerous citations for air pollution, and searching for more efficient cooling. . . . CONTINUE READING: The Cloud: Thousands of Overheated, Polluting, Power-Hungry Data Centers

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Photos • Baseball

    They Might Be Giants: Scenes from the Yard

    In honor of the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, a few of my shots from the past couple of years at the ballyard. . . . CONTINUE READING: They Might Be Giants: Scenes from the Yard

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Photos • Production • Baseball

    Shooting Giants: Photographing Baseball from the Diamond’s Edge

    I’ve got the best view in the house.

    I’m poised on a folding chair in a photographer’s dugout just below ground level, at the edge of the diamond at AT&T Park in San Francisco. It’s the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Giants are losing to the San Diego Padres 6-3.

    My camera is less than two feet above field level. As I look straight out through protective netting, I am focusing on Giants infielder Joaquin Arias at the plate, no more than 50 feet in front of me. A right-handed batter, Arias faces away from my vantage point on the third-base side of the field, but I can clearly see his body language throughout the at-bat and see his face during his follow-through. . . . CONTINUE READING: Shooting Giants: Photographing Baseball from the Diamond’s Edge

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Books / Writing

    Studying Spielberg: McBride’s Biography is Memorable … and Unauthorized

    Imagine deciding to write a biography on someone you had met twice, a contemporary who worked in the same industry and lived in the same state, only to learn, several months into your research, that your subject has declined your request for an interview and asked his close associates and family to do the same.

    This is the backstory for Steven Spielberg: A Biography by Joseph McBride. Undeterred by Spielberg’s lack of cooperation, McBride soldiered on. No slacker, over the next three years he interviewed 327 other people for this book, including many of Spielberg’s cohorts and relatives.

    The result is a marvelous work, an unauthorized biography overflowing with McBride’s voluminous research, crisp critical thinking, and an easy, engaging writing style that refreshes like a clear mountain stream. . . . CONTINUE READING: Studying Spielberg: McBride’s Biography is Memorable … and Unauthorized

    ROVING CAMERA BLOG • VIdeos • Muse

    My TEDx Talk: Problem-Solving and Adaptation in a Digital World

    Recently I was honored to give a TEDx Talk on creative problem-solving.

    Using examples from three different film projects, I talked about thinking on your feet, adapting to change, and improvising solutions—valuable skills in any era, especially our digital age. It’s not just about mastering the gear, I tell my students. It’s about releasing your creativity. The ability to acquire and propagate images with ease doesn’t make you a Spielberg, any more than learning to write turns you into Shakespeare. But creativity, inquisitiveness, and collaboration will never go out of style.

    TEDx programs are independently organized TED-like events. . . . CONTINUE READING: My TEDx Talk: Problem-Solving and Adaptation in a Digital World