Archive for the ‘Documentary’ Category

Final Cut Pro X yet to be embraced by Reality Producers

Chris Foresman reports from

Following the controversial launch of Apple’s completely revamped video editing software, Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media has announced (hat tip to MacRumors) that award-winning TV production company Bunim/Murray is dropping Final Cut Pro in favor of a complete Avid makeover. Going forward, the company will use Avid Media Composer and Avid Symphony for editing along with an Avid ISIS 5000 networked storage system to replace its current Final Cut Pro workflow.

“Due to the large volume of media generated by our reality shows, we needed to re-evaluate our editing and storage solutions. At the same time, we were looking for a partner who would understand our long-term needs,” Bunim/Murray’s SVP of post production Mark Raudonis said in a statement.

The message between the lines is that Apple’s latest offerings simply won’t (ahem) cut it anymore. Earlier this year, Apple completely re-architected Final Cut Pro X from the ground up with a new, modern media handling framework as well as 64-bit support. In doing so, however, it dropped many features that editing pros had come to rely on in their workflows. Apple also dropped its Final Cut Server product after phasing out its Xserveand Xserve RAID storage products over the past few years.

The decision has left many working pros wondering if Apple cares much about the professional market anymore. And, while the company has promised to improve Final Cut Pro X over time, those promises apparently weren’t enough for Bunim/Murray and others who have since migrated to competing solutions from Avid and Adobe. Let’s just say we don’t expect this to be the last we hear about major production companies making the switch.

UPDATE:  12/31/12

Apple has updated the latest version of its video editing software, Final Cut Pro X, addressing some of the complaints video editors had voiced when it was released last June. The updated FCPX now includes multicam editing and advanced chroma-key controls, and supports a new tool for opening up old Final Cut Pro 7 projects.

THE HOBBIT checks in with latest report

THE HOBBIT, Production Video #4

Chapman University wants to overtake USC and NYU

Film Studies: Chapman University wants to overtake USC and NYU.

The article in this Sunday’s L.A. Times sums it up nicely.

It has been an extraordinary ride during the last four years.  I began teaching at Dodge College as an Adjunct Professor and was thrilled when Bob Bassett offered me a contract a year later.  The new Marion Knotts studio complex came with the usual wrinkles: too much technology and over-engineered but with time the school began to hit its stride.  In terms of post-production we offer 100 Avids along with DS Nitris, Smoke and Flame.  We still count ourselves as a “Film School” and it remains part of our name.  There is no other learning institution in the country that features both Autodesk Lustre and Spirit 4K.  I give a big shout out to Dan Leonard, Associate Dean and Chief Technology Officer who is the mad scientist who put this rig together along with Deszo Magyar, Associate Dean and Chief Academic Officer who consistently reminds me that character development is key to a successful story.   I’m very much involved in Alumni relations as I believe the most important aspect of our program will be when graduates will return to Orange  and share their experiences.  It is happening now. We are building our own Dodge College/Chapman mafia and we have a great reputation in the industry for interns who are bright and committed and show up on time and ready to work!

- Scott Arundale

Third Reich 3D movies unearthed

Films shot on 3D in pre-war Nazi German have been unearthed in Berlin’s Federal Archives.

Two 30 minute black and white propaganda films in 1936 were found by Australian director Philippe Mora, who is prepping a feature length documentary on how the Nazis used images to manipulate reality.

Mora broke new ground with his first film “Swastika” when it was released in 1973 featuring previously unseen color footage from Hitler’s “home” movies shot on a 16mm camera by his mistress Eva Braun at the Berghof mountain retreat at Obersalzberg in the Bavarian alps.

Now he has discovered that the Nazis were decades ahead of Hollywood in developing a medium first popularized in the 1950s and now enjoying an international renaissance.

“The films are shot on 35mm — apparently with a prism in front of two lenses,” Mora who is at the Berlinale for his planned $13 million 3D biopic on Salvador Dali, starring Alan Cumming and Judy Davis that he plans to shoot in Germany, Australia and Spain.

“They were made by an independent studio for Goebbels’ propaganda ministry and referred to as ‘raum film’ — or space film — which may be why no one ever realised since that they were 3D.”

One film, a musical set during a carnival entitled “So Real You Can Touch It” features close up shots of sizzling bratwurst on a barbeque; the other “Six Girls Roll into Weekend” has what may be UFA studio starlets living it up.

“The quality of the films is fantastic. The Nazis were obsessed with recording everything and every single image was controlled — it was all part of how they gained control of the country and its people,” Mora said.

He plans to incorporate the material in a 3D section of his documentary — working title “How the Third Reich Was Recorded” — and is convinced there is more vintage 3D footage out there to be found.


Will the Royal Wedding be broadcast in 3D?

Prince William and Kate Middleton intend to make their wedding a people’s event and on April 29 the happy couple may seem close enough for you to reach out and touch them. Broadcasters are considering plans to screen the royal wedding in 3D. If those plans come to fruition it would mean a worldwide audience of millions would watch the anticipated marriage ceremony through 3D glasses.

It is understood that Sky, the BBC and Virgin are in joint discussions about the possibility of screening the event live from Westminster Abbey in 3D.

Sky TV have pioneered the new 3D technology on the small screen, largely for sporting events, but it is more likely that a terrestrial broadcaster such as the BBC will get full access to footage of the event, in order to cater for the largest possible TV audience.

While the technology requires a special television set for home viewing, it is possible that the event could be screened in pubs and cinemas for mass public consumption in 3D.

Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, said early meetings had taken place with other broadcasters and she was aware of interest in using 3D technology. She said: ‘We are already planning with the other broadcasters so I know about the 3D thing as well. That is obviously of some interest but our responsibility is to bring things everybody can see on air and 3D has a very limited footprint.’

She added the royal couple were in ‘their own time, their own space and we shouldn’t make assumptions yet about what our coverage should amount to.’

There has been speculation on several technology websites that Sky is considering 3D coverage of the event, but a spokeswoman for the broadcaster said it was ’speculation at this stage’.

Prince William and Kate Middleton, both 28, announced their engagement last week, nine years after they met as students at St Andrews University.

Werner Herzog’s ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’ in 3D

The legendary German auteur Werner Herzog presented his newest film, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” in 3D, to kick off the brand new DOC NYC festival. New York’s avant-garde silver fox David Byrne and his pal, Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent), donned bulky 3D specs along with the assembled crowd of NYU film students and cinephiles in NYU’s Skirball Center to take Herzog’s three-dimensional tour of France’s Chauvet caves.

Discovered in 1994, the caves contain perfectly preserved paintings done during the ice age, over 32,000 years ago -– the earliest known images of mankind. Herzog is one of only a handful of people who have been granted access.

“Cave of Forgotten Dreams” includes the cheeky commentary you expect from Herzog as well as the breathtaking beauty. When at one point in the film a scientist demonstrates Cro-Magnon spear-throwing technology, Herzog remarks, “I think you would not kill a horse throwing that way.” Early in the film, he sets the caves’ striking images of warring bison, mating lions and galloping horses to the sounds of a human heartbeat.

In Herzog’s version of a twist ending, the director imagines that crocodiles have given birth to albino offspring due to the nuclear power plant nearby, then ponders futures crocodiles’ perceptions of Chauvet’s cave paintings. Fans who saw Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” will note a trend in the director’s new reptile obsession.

In the Q&A that followed the screening, Herzog played the jovial provocateur, commenting that he is wary of labeling himself an artist, as he sees the art world as corrupt and misguided with its brokers and general interest in turning a profit. The statement drew applause.

Defending his use of 3D technology, which some film enthusiasts regards as a gimmick, Herzog declared, “A film like this absolutely must be in 3D.” He noted that while he’s very skeptical of the technology and its trendiness and overuse, it would have been impossible to capture the beauty of the stalagmites, stalactites, calcified bones and paintings of the Chauvet caves in any other format. “You need fireworks like ‘Avatar’,” he conceded. But the studios’ real interest in 3D movies? Herzog says it’s all about the profits. “3D films are impossible to pirate,” he said.

Next up for the prolific director? Herzog will narrate a shortened version of Russian filmmaker Dmitry Vasyukov’s four-hour-long black and white documentary about hunters in Siberia.

3D Television Net plans ambitious slate

The 3D joint venture between Sony, Imax and Discovery unveiled a large and exclusive slate of first run series of original programming and acquisitions. Tom Cosgrove, President and CEO made the announcement of native 3D programs that willl air 24/7 when the channel launches in 2011.

The channel will feature one of the most extensive libraries of 3D content in genres that are most appealing in 3D, including natural history, adventure, theatrical releases and IMAX movies.

The series and films announced today are (in alphabetical order):

Original Series

Abandoned Planet

Explore the strangest places on earth — entire cities now completely devoid of all humanity.  This series of one-hour programs sheds light on why people have abandoned the places they once called home and what happens after they leave.  Produced by Flight 33 Productions.

Africa in 3D

From Gannet Island and its 100,000 seabirds of the same name sharing one giant rock, the 60,000 flamingos at Kamfers Dam, the Luangwa River and its 30,000 hippos and much more, this series of one-hour programs captures the richness and diversity of the world’s second-largest continent.  Produced by Aquavision Television Productions.


China’s beauty is little seen, often hidden and always surprising.  This hour-long series studies the thronging cities, epic vistas and spiritual heartlands of this huge and mysterious nation in stunning 3D.  Produced by Natural History New Zealand Ltd. (NHNZ).

Jewels of the World

This hour-long series gives viewers unprecedented access to UNESCO’s ‘World Heritage’ sites, where the planet’s natural and cultural gems are catalogued and protected, including:  the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu, Peru; the Temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia; and the Grand Canyon National Park in the United States, among others.  Produced by Natural History New Zealand Ltd. (NHNZ).

Exclusive U.S. Premieres

Attack of the Giant Jellyfish (Discovery)

This hour-long program explores the myths and realities behind the global explosion of deadly jellyfish, including the giant Nomura, whose strength and size makes them capable of capsizing boats and wreaking havoc on the high seas.  Produced by Story House Productions.

The Haunted (Discovery)

Using infrared cameras and sensitive recording devices, a paranormal team investigates true, chilling and terrifying stories of animals and their owners who are experiencing the unexplainable.  This one-hour program is produced by Picture Shack Entertainment.

Into the Deep 3D (IMAX)

This IMAX special takes audiences on a spectacular three-dimensional exploration of the undersea world. Using the IMAX 3D camera in its underwater housing for the first time, this film captures unique marine life and magnificent underwater vistas.

Magnificent Desolation:  Walking on the Moon 3D (IMAX)

Through the magic of IMAX 3D, narrator Tom Hanks takes viewers to the lunar surface to walk alongside the 12 extraordinary astronauts who have been there to experience what they saw, heard, felt, thought and did.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Sony)

Inspired by the beloved children’s book of the same name, this animated 3D feature follows inventor Flint Lockwood and a brainy weathergirl as they attempt to discover why the rain in their small town has stopped, and food is falling in its place.

Monster House (Sony)

A suburban home has become physically animated by a vengeful human soul looking to stir up trouble from beyond the grave, and it’s up to three adventurous kids from the neighborhood to do battle with the structural golem in this comically frightful tale.

Wim Wenders embraces 3D as tool for documentaries

German filmmmaker Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas , Buena Vista Social Club) recently shot a documentary about legendary choreographer Pina Bausch and described 3d as “an ideal tool for documentary filmmakers”.

“I finished shooting now and I am in the middle of editing. It will be a long process. It is such a new thing to do a documentary in 3D”, Wenders told AFP in an interview during the Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF) in Romania.

Though Pina Bausch passed away before filming was completed, Wenders was able to work with the grande dame’s dance ensemble Tanztheather in Germany, crafting a film about dance choreography and the use of space.

But shooting in 3D provided its own set of problems: “You have to forget everything you know about filmmaking. Because you have to organise the shots and the whole process in a very different way”.

Wenders remains bullish on the influence stereo filmmaking will have on the documentary genre comparing it to the effects HD and digital had 15 years prior.

“I think that 3D will do the same. In the future, every documentary will be shot that way.”

FCP vs. Avid – One veteran editor checks out

Edgar Burcksen, A.C.E. provides insight on why he will no longer be editing projects on Final Cut Pro.

The fine people in Tewkesbury appear to have gotten their heads out of the sand as witnessed by the above demonstration at NAB 2010 in support of Avid v.5 (release timed for later this year).

UPDATE: 5.8.10

The firestorm continues in the blogosphere and one wonders if Avid has furnished some mu$cle here to bash the opponent. I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but hey, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you or as Rodney King might ask: “Can’t we all just get along?”


Dede Allen, an extraordinary editor

The first woman to take sole editing credit on a Hollywood feature.

She was Arthur Penn’s editor on six films including Bonnie & Clyde and Little Big Man. More recently she cut the The Breakfast Club, Henry & June and The Milagro Beanfield War. In the A.C.E. documentary, The Cutting Edge – Magic of Film Editing, she graciously credits her assistant Jerry Greenberg for the spectacular and disturbing final shootout of Bonnie & Clyde. “He simply put it together and I tightened it up, making very few changes”.

Dede Allen’s imdb credits here

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