Tag: filmmaking

29Jul

Do Cameras Matter in Filmmaking?

When the RED first came out, it changed everything. The picture was stunning for the price. Yeah, it was buggy, but they eventually ironed most of that out. And today, we have a plethora of amazing choices when it comes time to choose a camera for our films. Even on the lower-budget end of things.

These days, most professional camera systems are capable of fantastic pictures. There’s a particular few cameras that I personally like for filmmaking, though. And they are these: Canon’s C-series, Blackmagic’s cameras, Sony’s recent 35mm sensor cams, and (under certain circumstances) the RED. If you’re renting, throw in Alexa, of course.

Any of these cameras can give you a startlingly fantastic image. And it’s been like this for a couple of years, now.

The difference between the images you get and the images the pros get, though, isn’t the camera itself. What really sets the work apart is your choice of lenses, and lighting. These days, assuming you’re using a good camera system, the camera you’re using matters far less than your talent and your lens collection.

I know a bunch of camera fanboys just shit themselves, and are rising up to argue. That’s fine- you guys keep on arguing stupid things like specs and resolution. We’re set on making beautiful images. The fact is, once you reach a certain threshold in camera technology, what starts to hold you back is the optics. Great optics are not cheap, by the way! And your ability as a filmmaker to sculpt the light and create a look matters a lot, obviously.

So do cameras matter in filmmaking? Yes, and no. But certainly, rather than obsessing over camera specs, I think one would be wise to spend that effort on learning how to light and getting some good lenses. Bonus: lenses are a fantastic long-term investment, unlike cameras.

 

4May

Best Director Win at FirstGlance Film Festival for “Unlaced”

Patrick Ortman wins Best Director @ FirstGlance Hollywood Film festival 2013

Patrick Ortman wins Best Director @ FirstGlance Hollywood Film Festival 2013

I’m thrilled to announce that my film “Unlaced” won Best Director at the 2013 Hollywood FirstGlance Film Festival last week. It was a blast seeing our work projected at the Charlie Chaplin Theater in Hollywood, on the lot at Raleigh Studios, and it was great reconnecting with some special members of the crew, and our two awesome female leads in the movie- Ashley Bracken and Joanne Ryan. That’s Ashley, Joanne, me, and producer Kathi in the photo above.

Afterwards, FirstGlance interviewed Kathi and me about the win. I’m sure that video will pop up online at some point.

I enjoyed screening “Unlaced” at FirstGlance. They’re a class act. What’s more, this is the first festival I’ve attended where I wasn’t bored with the program. Every film that played was good, and worthy. Fantastic!

 

* photo copyright 2013 FirstGlance Film Festival, Hollywood

28Jan

Studio City Film Festival Day and Time for “Unlaced”

Unlaced-Still--Barnaby-Run-2

Hey, everybody- “Unlaced” is playing in Block 18, on Friday, February 8th. We’re the second film in the block, and we’re playing immediately after “Elegy for a Revolutionary”, a really well-produced, big budget short film that’s won about 20 awards according to its website. Fantastic!

Tickets are $15 at the door, $12 if you reserve online. Check out www.studiocityfilmfestival.com for details.

Don’t know what “Unlaced” is about? Visit our page, or check us out on Facebook.

 

2Jan

2012 in Review

2013

Happy 2013! We hope this year brings you peace, happiness, and success. And yes, you guessed it- this is another “Year in Review” post.  Here’s some of our 2012 highlights:

  • We were pleased to add a Fortune 50 client (PepsiCo) to our already stellar Fortune 500 client list, with our well-received short film about PepsiCo’s amazing CEO Indra Nooyi.
  • Our client UCLA worked with us to create the first college promotional film shot entirely on an iPad. It turned out surprisingly well.
  • UCLA also partnered with us to create another well-received short film about legendary basketball coach and leader John Wooden.
  • Oxford University Press continued to work with us, and we shot video interviews and other material for a documentary on Los Angeles food truck culture.
  • We got to interview and video a number of other interesting and often high-profile people in 2012, including Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed (he’s an excellent interview, by the way). And we’re proud of the web promos, TV commercials, and corporate video production work we created for our technology, legal, and other clients this past year. Thank you all for your patronage.
  • On a more personal note, we finished production and post production on Patrick’s short drama “Unlaced”. It’s about a man whose life has come undone, and was shot in glorious widescreen on RED digital cinema cameras. It looks amazing, and begins showing at film festivals this fall.

2012 was a year of growth and tons of great video production projects for cool clients. Cheers to an even better 2013!

18Dec

On Camera Technology & Filmmaking

patrickErnest

This is how we got beautiful, cinema-quality 720p HD, 35mm-sized sensor imagery only a few years ago. This was state-of-the-art, a Panasonic HVX-200 with a 35mm lens adapter and external monitor. Unless you were shooting a project in the very-high-end, you had to deal with Frankenstein-like contraptions like this to get a beautiful, filmic look to your HD footage.

Our new Canon EOS C-100 gets a massively better image and can almost fit in the palm of your hand. Our RED MX is bigger, but gives an arguably even better image than the c-100 (I say arguably, because the RED gets its butt kicked in low-light and skin tones by the Canon C-Series).

The thing is, these days we all have an embarrassment of great camera choices. If you’re making a movie, a high-end corporate film, a tv commercial: the tools are there. Now it’s up to you to make your tools sing.

That’s why I don’t hang out on camera message boards so much, anymore. It doesn’t matter to me if we’re shooting RED, Arri Alexa, Canon… whatever. They’re all good, they all have their uses. And I think that’s a healthy attitude. In the end, when I make a film it’s not about worshipping camera specs. It’s about telling a story.

11Dec

Camera Nerds: Having trouble getting 24p out of your Canon C100 and Ninja2?

We’ve been testing the awesome new Canon c100 cinema EOS camera, and the new Ninja2 external recorder. However, getting 24p out of the Canon c100 and into the Ninja2 has been a real trick… when you connect everything up, you’ll find the 24p option on the Ninja2 is “grayed out”.

After much time spent trying dozens of different options, I picked up the camera and moved it to another place.

And suddenly the 24p option worked!

I turned everything off, and tried again. No go! No 24p on the Ninja!

Then I waved my hand in front of the lens.

And the Ninja2’s 24p options became active, again.

Why?

Easy. By moving your hand in front of the lens, you’re telling the Ninja that the Canon c100 is sending a progressive signal inside an interlaced one. You’re showing the Ninja that there’s pulldown to be removed.

I know. Weird. But it works. I hope this helps a lot of you- I’ve seen dozens of people online begging for the Canon c100/Atomos Ninja2 24p “fix”. And this is it!

28Nov

Corporate Videography on an iPad?

UCLA Anderson recently approached us to help create an informational video for prospective students. The catch: they wanted to shoot it on an iPad. Why? Because they wanted to emphasize that, just like an iPad or iPhone, their new Fully Employed MBA Flex program is flexible, and can be easily accessed whether you’re at home, at work, or on the go.

I wrote a short intro piece that showed FEMBA Flex in action through several scenarios, and we supplemented that with corporate video style interviews, and even a remote interview done on an iPhone from a student. We also had a couple of tricky visual effects shots, including screen replacement on an iPhone, and an After Effects shot created after the shoot based on client requests.

The experience of working with the iPad was difficult at times (it has a very limited dynamic range, and of course an almost-infinite depth of field), and at the time we shot the video there were very few tools available to help us use the iPad in a filmic/cinematic way (the exception being Tether Tools‘ excellent stuff- thanks guys!) but the client was thrilled with the final result, and it’s good to stretch a bit sometimes. I’m happy that, in the end, we were able to create a very credible corporate video presentation using only the iPad and its built-in camera.

Of course, I would not recommend this approach for most projects. The subject matter is what drove the choice to use iOS devices as our cameras for the video.

 

 

17Oct

It’s a Great Time to be a Filmmaker

Whatever kind of films or videos you make, this is a great time to be a filmmaker. There’s amazing cinema-quality cameras out there that are affordable (Blackmagic Cinema Camera, 2K Raw footage), super high-end stuff that’s becoming affordable for professionals to own, not rent (RED Scarlet-X), and now, finally, ultraportable “crash cams” like the new GoPro Black Edition (2.7K footage).

The big drawback of the GoPro is its codec: it only records in H264 mode, which isn’t as robust as what professionals like. But it does have a HDMI out, so it’s likely possible that you’ll be able to hook up something like an Atomos Ninja to it someday, for better quality footage. Here’s a link to the GoPro announcement.

They’re hoping to start shipping in November. Which may mean you won’t be able to actually get it until Spring, who knows. But I do think this is a camera that every professional video production company will have in their filmmaking kit. Again, not as a main camera, but as a specialty one.

I’m excited. These are the kinds of tools that even a wealthy person, or a high-end production company could not afford even a few years ago. It’s a great time to be a filmmaker, and I can’t wait to continue using these tools to tell amazing stories, both for myself and for our corporate video clients.

 

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