Sunday, April 22, 2007

I just flew in from Vegas...

and boy am I sick. every time I get on a frickin’ airplane...

The annual
NAB Show wrapped up on Thursday, and Commercial Recording sent me down to sheckidout. Thousands of exhibitors were at the Las Vegas Convention Center showing off their wares. It’s a great opportunity for gearheads like myself to get our grubby mits on all kinds of brand new cameras, software, gadgetry and such. It's brings in about as many people as Comic Con.

The new Final Cut Studio Pro 2 is extremely impressive. It’s the biggest upgrade in the company’s history. Panasonic had some great stuff as always, and it looks like CRS will be adding a high def AJ-HPC-2000 camera package to our arsenal. I also got to meet editing legend Walter Murch who gave a very inspiring talk.

The biggest buzz came from the
RED Digital Cinema booth. Those who attended the Digital Production seminar at the Cleveland Int. Film Fest will recall that I was suggesting that RED will change the industry as we know it. After sticking my neck out on that one I feel completely vindicated after having experienced their booth.

Until NAB 2007 the Red One Camera was a concept and promise. The concept was based on the premise that - if we have digital still cameras that can create 11 megapixel images that are superior to 35mm, why can’t we take that same technology and apply it to sequencial video frames? It's important to note that they didn’t set out to make something as good as 35mm - they set out to make something better.

This year they were promising to show actual footage. And not just any footage – this was ‘12 minute short film shot by Mr. Peter Jackson starring Kevin Dillon’ footage.

The line to see the film really felt like the wait at an amusement park for the hot new ride. People from all over the globe waited hours to see what this small company from the U.S. of A (that’s right, America) developed. (Cap would be so proud.)

When I finally saw it I can tell you honestly that I was FLOORED. It has well over 4 times the pixels/definition of most current hi-def cameras. I couldn’t believe I was watching digital video, AND it gets even better because this footage was shot with a prototype camera that had NO internal settings and only one shutter speed. Much of the film was shot in the daylight and bright sun which is always the worst condition for digital video, but somehow these bastards actually pulled it off. Don’t take my word for it. Check out still frames and footage on their site.

This is a really hip company, and they really care about keeping this stuff affordable. The price point on the camera is around 18k - I don't know how they can do that. They're also in the process of developing the world's first mini-professional video camera ("not prosumer, mind you") as well as a 4k digital projector. I spoke briefly with company spokesman Ted Schilowitz at a Final Cut Users Group, and basically thanked him for what they are doing for us indie guys.

To date this is probably the most powerful tool digital filmmakers have ever seen. The camera comes out later this year and the worlds of 35mm and digital are about to level out considerably.

God bless you Red people.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Cleveland Recap

What a blast! This was really my first festival experience from the inside. I never realized how many people are brought into town for this. Being one of the only local directors I was able to spend time almost every day at the fest chatting and networking with many very cool and creative people from all over the world. Gigantic thanks to Bill Guentzler and the diligent, friendly staff and volunteers of the Cleveland Film Society.

The party at the View was sweet. Both our screenings sold out, and second theaters were added for overflow. We nearly broke the record for a Midnight showing. On Sunday we had an even bigger audience and a great Q & A discussion afterwards (pics here.) As is always the case - had a blast with our crew and cast - Perren, Jocelyn, Bryan, Rick Montgomery, Pat Milo, Adam Muskiewicz, George David Phillips, John Chaffee Jr., Larry Zjaba, many others including Shelley Delaney who was in two films at the fest -- nice reviews and articles from Cool Cleveland, Scene, Akron Beacon Journal, The Plain Dealer, and The Sun.

I was on two educational panels at Cleveland State University. The first was "Regional Filmmaking" with Tyler Davidson - producer of the opening night film Swedish Auto; and Relative Obscurity director Jeff Rosenberg. The second was a "Digital Technologies in Filmmaking" with Punk's Not Dead director Susan Dynner; Kurt Cobain - About a Son director AJ Schnack; and Deadpan Valentine director Robin Lindsey. We got great questions from the audience, so major thanks to moderator Evan Lieberman for the invite.

Milo and I sat in the audience for the panel on distribution which featured The Ten director and Shaker Heights native David Wain; indie distribution maverick and director of Flannel Pajamas Jeffrey Lipsky who gave us some very specific advice about how to move HT forward; as well as distributor Ryan Bruce Levey who became my drinking buddy and gave us a plethora of good advice. We also gave a Hero Tomorrow screener to Shaker Heights native Jamie Babbit (pictured above) who was there with her new film Itty Bitty Titty Committee. I missed her film as it was playing opposite ours, but I did catch a peak, and really dug what I saw – Milo loved it.

Besides the folks mentioned above I highly suggest checking out super-nice guy Brooke Silva’s A Map For Saturday, Tayor Neary's Liquid Vinyl, Joanna Kohler's Boxers, Kruti Majmudar's Memsahib and Jesse Block's Brotherly Jazz, and I was blown away by Manufactured Landscapes and Transylvania.

It was just an amazing week, and to top it all off my dear Mom managed to put a copy of Hero Tomorrow into the very hands of Halle Berry, but that tale must be told by Mom.