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Production • APPs

Production APPtitude: Artemis Director’s Viewfinder

This is the 2nd in a series of posts about useful iPhone apps for film and video production.

In the beginning, directors and photographers framed their shots with two hands, spreading thumbs and forefingers at right angles, then raising them together to define a rectangle.

Simple and cheap. Analog and infinitely adjustable. But inaccurate for defining aspect ratios, impossible to calibrate to particular focal lengths, and, well, a bit pretentious to watch.

So years ago, I bought my first director’s viewfinder, made by Birns and Sawyer, a metal cylinder with focal length scales for 16mm and 35mm on the sides. Twist the cylinder: the magnification increased or decreased, and the view appeared to zoom in or out, showing an approximation of the angle of view of various chosen focal lengths.

I used it frequently, mostly on tech scouts, to show directors the capabilities and limits of our zoom lenses, and on shoots to choose lenses when using fixed-focal length primes. The B&S finder had a default 1.33 aspect ratio, and soon I bought two plastic masks that slipped on the front and showed TV cutoff and 1:85. The finder came with a metal chain, which invariably caught in the mustache of one director I worked with. Eventually I removed the chain, but by them he had shaved off the ‘stache.

Later Arri came out with a viewfinder accessory that showed the scene even more accurately, by mounting the actual lens you’ll shoot with.

Both tools had advantages and disadvantages. . . . CONTINUE READING: Production APPtitude: Artemis Director’s Viewfinder

Production • Tech • APPs

Production APPtitude: Sun Seeker

This is the first in a series of posts about useful iPhone apps for film and video production.

In the past few months, during my shoots overseas, I have been confronted by producers, crew members, drivers, waiters, and ordinary folks on the street, using iPhones for texting, tweeting, gaming, emailing, translating, navigating, Facebooking, computing currencies, listening to music, showing photos, shooting video, sometimes even talking on the phone … and exploring new apps created to help people like us, who work in film and video production.

Apple products have long been popular with folks in the visual media. In the US, I am used to seeing Macs and iPhones on production crews; sometimes nearly everyone has one! But recently, while traveling in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Brazil, and, to some extent, China, it’s been hard to miss the remarkable proliferation of the iPhone.

This surge in iPhone sales abroad was not unexpected. Early last year, Apple projected an enormous increase in its iPhone exports. Yet in September, when I found three Swiss cabbies in a row with their personal iPhones mounted on their taxis’ dashboards, I was still taken by surprise.

I have long admired (and sometimes been involved with) the wild proliferation of previous world-changing, market-defining products from Apple. I shot the video which Steve Jobs used when announcing the first iPod (and the first iMac and the swing-arm iMac and the iTunes Music Store, for that matter). For the iPod project, I shot musicians, artists, . . . CONTINUE READING: Production APPtitude: Sun Seeker

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Production

Continental Drift

I’m hunkering down at home right now after a three-week trip through Europe and South America to shoot a global corporate medical film. Our route took four of us – and 13 cases of video and audio gear – drifting through the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and Brazil. Plus one day shooting here in the San Francisco Bay Area last Monday.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we go to China to finish shooting the project. It will be the fourth continent on this shoot for DIT Jim Rolin and me. Director David Rathod and producer Anne Sandkuhler joined us for the travel legs in Europe. After shooting at three locations in the US, director Randy Field and producer Lori Wright then joined Jim and me for the long schlep down to Brazil.

<<See also Eerie Times at USP, Brazil: My First iPhone Video>>

And what a schlep it was! Nine flights in 19 days: SFO–>Frankfurt–>Amsterdam–>Geneva–>Hamburg–>Geneva–>Washington Dulles–>Sao Paulo–>JFK–>SFO. Nearly 24,000 miles, a real butt-burner. Somewhere over the Atlantic between Switzerland and coastal US, I surpassed 50,000 miles on United this year, qualifying me for coveted Premier Executive status in their mileage program. Only mileage whores like me care about such things. I’m like George Clooney in “Up in the Air,” except without the chicks and without the firings … and the looks …

We’re shooting this job with a Panasonic 3700 camera and Fujinon 16×6.3mm zoom. For our interviews, we’re using a Zeiss 28mm f1.6 DigiPrime. Our interviewees look directly into the . . . CONTINUE READING: Continental Drift