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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

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Photos • Travel

The Color of Mexico City

Lots of time in Latin America lately.

In the past two years, I’ve been to Brazil on two work trips, vacationed in Baja, visited my son in Chile, and now I’m in Mexico City for nearly a week, shooting a medical video. Everywhere we’re surrounded by wonderful faces, fascinating street scenes, huge swaths of color, unique art, and both traditional and innovative design. A visual smorgasbord, for sure. Also, amazingly, we have a whole weekend off.

Here’s a sample of the color around us. Photos from Coyoacán and Palenco Districts, Frida Kahlo’s House/Museum, and the Museo de Arte Moderna. . . . CONTINUE READING: The Color of Mexico City

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Muse

For Pop, A Century Later

My daddy was the strongest man in the world. My daddy was the smartest man in the world. My daddy could build or fix anything, and he was an expert on everything. That’s how I thought of him when I was growing up, and most of it turned out to be true.

My dad, Harry Zarchy, was a Renaissance man, a teacher in the New York City schools for 36 years, a skilled musician, a hobbyist and craftsman who excelled in fields as diverse as jewelry making, watch repair, clock making, furniture building, ham radio, photography, drawing, and countless others. And he was an author, the creator of over 30 books on crafts and hobbies and the outdoors for kids and teenagers, mostly with his own photographs and drawings. Between 1941 and 1973, in 32 years, he published 36 books. . . . CONTINUE READING: For Pop, A Century Later

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Tech

Lost Wages: Everything Looks Great at NAB

In my mind, I’m Danny McCoy, deftly easing my washboard abs into my 69 Camaro ragtop, trolling confidently up and down the Strip, the wind ruffling my hair as I head for a liaison with my all-grown-up childhood pal Mary Connell, or a dalliance with Delinda Deline, the boss’s daughter.

In RL (gamer parlance for Real Life), I’m a middle-aged guy with grey hair, a little too full of sushi and sake, ambling and people-watching from Luxor to New York, New York, trying to take a few interesting photos on the Strip before collapsing into bed after a long day walking the floor at NAB.

Obviously I’ve watched too many episodes of “Las Vegas!” Like the Josh Duhamel character in the Camaro in that now-defunct series, I use a lot of cameras. Unlike him, I’m a freelance DP, not a casino surveillance and security expert.

I’m often asked about how some camera or other looked at the annual NAB Show in Lost Wages. My answer is usually the same: “It looked great.”

The truth is, nearly everything looks great at NAB. The manufacturers show off their cameras in shooting galleries in their booths. Every camera they make is lined up and pointed at a colorful, flatly lit set, populated by a strange race of young people with gleaming teeth, perfect bodies, and flawless skin. Back in the day, the models were all women in some form of flimsy beach attire. Now the galleries hold attractive folks of . . . CONTINUE READING: Lost Wages: Everything Looks Great at NAB

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Tech

NAB 2012 Preview

I’m winging to Las Vegas for a couple of days to attend the NAB Show, the annual technical meeting and equipment show of the National Association of Broadcasters. In particular, I’m interested to see the latest digital cinema cameras, some recently released, some newly announced this week. I’m especially intrigued by an excellent summary in nofilmschool.com, which compares the newest digital cameras by resolution and price. And as always, I’ll also be looking at new camera accessories and lighting gear at the show. Watch for more reports coming up soon! . . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2012 Preview

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Baseball • Muse

Confessions of a Bicoastal Baseball Fan

In honor of the A’s and Giants both winning their divisions and making the baseball playoffs:

Here’s my dirty little secret: I am a bicoastal baseball fan. I root for both the Giants and the Athletics, who play on opposite coasts of San Francisco Bay. This duality is heresy for many baseball fans, who call me a “bad fan” and consider sports loyalty an absolute, one-sided affair, even in a two-team market.

But how glorious to have two clubs to follow! When one wallows in mediocrity, the other is often a contender. One of my teams plays at home every day. If the other is on the East Coast, their starting times are staggered, and I can listen to or watch two games a day – an embarrassment of riches, for sure.

. . . CONTINUE READING: Confessions of a Bicoastal Baseball Fan

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • VIdeos • Production

New Video from Rocker Chuck Prophet: ‘Temple Beautiful’ Tour of San Francisco

Rock musician Chuck Prophet has released a new video, Part I of his musical tour of San Francisco.

The video features scenes of Chuck playing cuts from his new Temple Beautiful album and chatting about songs inspired by various iconic settings in the City by the Bay.

“If ever Cain and Abel went into business together, it would probably be something like the O’Farrell Theater,” he says in front of the Mitchell Brothers’ porn paradise (for “The Left Hand and the Right Hand”). Other locations include the Geary Street site of both Jim Jones’ People’s Temple and former Punk club The Temple (“Temple Beautiful”), Harvey Milk Plaza at Castro and Market (“White Night, Big City”), and various downtown corners (“Who Shot John”). . . . CONTINUE READING: New Video from Rocker Chuck Prophet: ‘Temple Beautiful’ Tour of San Francisco