Lessons Learned from Testing Digital Cameras

Norm (from Jamie and Adam’s Tested) chats with Steve Weiss and Bruce Logan, A.S.C. about Zacuto’s Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout challenge for 2012. Steve Weiss is the co-founder of camera accessory maker Zacuto and Bruce Logan is the famed cinematographer who worked on the original Tron, Star Trek, and Star Wars films. Steve and Bruce talk about the digital cinema cameras they tested and why good technique is so much more important than good

7 Top Film Producers Roundtable

The Hollywood Reporter assembled a group of 7 producers with some seriously big credentials to sit down and talk about their experiences in the film industry.

The producers are: Letty Aronson (Midnight in Paris, Vicki Christina Barcelona), Michael DeLuca (the Social Network, Magnolia), Tim Bevan (The Big Lebowski, Fargo, Shaun of the Dead), Kathleen Kennedy (The Sixth Sense, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park), Bill Pohlad (Into the Wild, Brokeback Mountain), Jim Burke (The Descendants, Election, Kingpin) and Chris Columbus (The Help, Night at the Museum).

Marvelous Night for a Super Moondance with Our Friends Around the World

Saturday night we tried an experiment on Facebook where we asked everyone to go outside and take a picture of the “Super Moon,” then send them to us. It was a complete failure. Not one person sent as a picture of their ass. But we did get some great pictures of the the largest satellite orbiting earth, better known as our Moon.

Super Moon 2012

Super Moon 2012 Facebook Album

Why is the Moon reversed in some of these photos?

Here is an image from Caról Mckenzy Mcloud of Santiago, Chile:

Here is one I took Saturday night in Temecula, CA. Notice the difference

The reason is the Northern & Southern Hemispheres see the moon reversed.

So where did the Moon come from?

Giant impact hypothesis

The giant impact hypothesis states that the Moon was formed out of the debris left over from a collision between the Earth and a Mars-sized body, sometime around 4.5 Ga (four and a half billion years ago). The colliding body is sometimes called Theia, for the mythical Greek Titan who was the mother of Selene, the goddess of the moon.

How far away is the moon?

Average Earth moon distance (384,403 km) + moon diameter at equator (10,920 km) = a 395,323 km rope for the lasso (245,642.3 miles).

Speed of light from Earth to Moon

Scale model of the Earth and the Moon, with a beam of light traveling between them at the speed of light. It takes approximately 1.26 seconds.

So how can I take great pictures of the Moon?

Rule #1 make sure you have a Tripod.
For more tips check out the videos below.

DSLR Tips: Night Photography

Landscape Astrophotography Tutorial – First Night Out

Photographing the Moon with a DSLR and a Telescope

Thats No Moon!

You’re right it’s Pink Floyd.

The Dark Side of Oz

Dark Side of the Rainbow – also known as Dark Side of Oz or The Wizard of Floyd – refers to the pairing of the 1973 Pink Floyd album The Dark Side of the Moon with the visual portion of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. This produces moments where the film and the album appear to correspond with each other. The title of the music video-like experience comes from a combination of the album title and the film’s song “Over the Rainbow”. Band members and others involved in the making of the album state that any relationship between the two works of art is merely a coincidence.

Star Wars – if it were made by the Internet

Star Wars Uncut is a website that asked people around the globe to recreate a scene from the 1977 film. The Director’s cut, the full feature length recreation below, is the final result.

Many thanks to Aaron Valdez (video editor – and Bryan Pugh (sound design/mixing – for the countless hours they put into this masterpiece.

The Story:

In 2009, thousands of Internet users were asked to remake “Star Wars: A New Hope” into a fan film, 15 seconds at a time. Contributors were allowed to recreate scenes from Star Wars however they wanted. Within just a few months SWU grew into a wild success. The creativity that poured into the project was unimaginable.

SWU has been featured in documentaries, news features and conferences around the world for its unique appeal. In 2010 we won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media.

We can’t thank everyone enough for making this such a special project.

The Galileo – a Remote Control Pan/Tilt for iOS Devices

Do you want to be able to pan the remote iPhone when your using Facetime? Or how about motorized panning when shooting timelapses? The Galileo could be your solution.

The Kickstarter campaign raised over 700% the original goal and units should be shipping in June. The company behind it (Motrr) includes the creator of the GorillaPod so expect it to be available soon.

Timelapse demo footage:

Trippy Demo of Focal Length and Spatial Distortion

This quick little gif demonstrates the difference between focal lengths and how they stretch or compress the sense of depth.

The Explaination

This animation was created with a zoom lens where the photographer started close to the object fully zoomed out and then he or she moved back, zooming in to keep the object the same size in the frame at all times. The frame where the background is farthest away is shot fully wide.

Not only is this a neat effect (Dolly Zoom) utilized in movies such as Vertigo but it also demonstrates how extreme spatial distortion can be. Perhaps contrary to “conventional wisdom” to create large distances between characters, move in and use a wider lens. To create a tighter and more claustrophobic framing, move away and use a higher power lens.

An Interview with Hitchcock’s Writer: John Michael Hayes

John Micahel Hayes penned many great Hitchcock films including Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry and The Man Who Knew Too Much. Here is an interview with Hayes done in the 1960s.


I had worked on a radio show called Suspense, which was a half-hour drama. Then I worked on The Adventures of Sam Spade and a number of other radio detective shows. He used to listen to them. He heard my name all the time. That’s really what got him interested in me, because I doubt if he had gone to see War Arrow or Red Ball Express or anything else. So he inquired about me. It turned out we had the same agency, MCA, but we were in different departments. He gave me a tryout, and it stuck. He needed a writer for Rear Window, so I went from B movies to A movies overnight.


Paramount found Rear Window. Hitch had left Warner Brothers and was looking for a home. And Paramount said if he could get a screenplay out of a Cornell Woolrich story, they would make a deal with him. They gave him a collection called After-Dinner Story, by William Irish [Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1936], a pen name of Cornell Woolrich. Out of about five or six stories, he liked “Rear Window” and brought me in on it. There was no girl in the original. I created the part. Hitch had done Dial M for Murder [1954] with Grace Kelly, and she was beautiful in that film; but there was no life, no sparkle there. He asked me what we should do with her for Rear Window, so I spent time with her for about a week. My wife, Mel, was a successful fashion model, so I gave Grace my wife’s occupation in the film. The way the character posed, the dialogue—it reflected actual incidents in our life.

That was my first A picture with a big director, and I was so keyed up. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have, because I was worried about everything. Yet it turned out well. We worked beautifully together.

Go Into the Story | Read the Full Article

Damnit Jim – I’m a Filmmaker not a RED Camera Propagandist

No camera on the market today sparks as much fan boy bullshit spirited debate as the RED line of digital cinema cameras. Now I present you latest dust-up between RED camera pioneer Jim Jannard and Zacuto’s Steve Weiss.

And, yes I realized the level of this discourse can get a little… well nauseating. So I’ve done my best to illustrate the argument in the popular art form of the day.

Jim Jannard, founder of the Red Camera Company fired off an angry post on aimed at Steve Weiss of Zacuto and their latest “Great Camera Shootout” (previous versions can be seen here and here). Apparently Jim Jannard is pretty butt hurt upset that tests will be shown in 2K and that he didn’t get to control the post processing.

Steve Weiss did respond with a pretty complete explanation as to why the tests were finished in 2k. Basically because the vast vast majority of theaters today present in 2k and they really didn’t have the resources to present these in 4K. And let’s face, most people are going to watch it on Vimeo.

But that wasn’t enough for Jim.

Ignoring Steve’s earlier message, Jim resurrected the ghost of Shakespeare for his next post:

Zacuto… Zacuto… where art thou?


And that’s when Steve had enough

Thou are here Jim.

I’m not sure what you are asking of me? I really don’t want to embarrass anyone but I did invite every manufacturer, including you and Ted, I sent the email to you several times, … Where art thou Jim? Further, I sent you the same letter for the 2011 shootout, as well with no response. I “begged” you for the EPIC in 2011 which you started delivering 2 weeks after the shoot, so there were obviously cameras available. I caught a lot of flack about that from your fans/users as well because the EPIC was not included.

Frankly, I make documentaries, not propaganda films. For those that don’t understand the difference, I as the filmmaker have no idea what the outcome of my film is till it’s finished (unlike a Michael Moore film, where the end is determined first and the shoot is just there to prove its case). Wow, your fans/users are very beholden to you, it’s almost like they would join the EPIC military and fight to the death for its honor, that’s cool, no other camera company has that kind of support…. you have created a wonderful camera, congratulations but to me and many of the DP’s in my film and guest DP’s interviewed, it’s just a tool like lights and tripods. It all has to work together. I rely on my crew, much more then my gear. If I had your amazing camera and put it on a lousy tripod and all of my pans and tilts sucked, to me it wouldn’t matter, the overall film would suck.

Okay, now all that gossipy nonsense was just to get this part. This is the reason I even thought this was post-worthy (aside from the title).

Spoiler alert, these are the kinds of comments you will hear in my film: I asked 9 ASC cinematographers, if they had to pick between shitty picture or shitty sound what would they recommend to the director if in the situation you could only have one? Every single cinematographer said shitty picture. There reason: You can tolerate shitty picture but shitty sound is intolerable.

I asked a cinematographer if he would be willing to live with a take where the actor didn’t hit his mark and isn’t in their eye light but the performance was better then when they hit their mark and his answer was an astounding yes.

This is what DP’s in a collaborative effort do and I felt it was important for people to hear this as well as well as see what camera are capable of…. If all you want to see is a raw test, they are out there, although, I’m not sure how fair and accurate they are. My film is the hows and whys of how to make your camera look great, plus a lot more. Actually, to be honest, I’m not totally sure what my film is yet because I haven’t even really started it prior to getting the comments from the screenings.

So… even the best DPs around the world would sacrifice image quality for pretty much everything else that helps tell the story.

Steve sums it up nicely

We are talking about one camera vs. another. I hate to tell you that the differences are so slight at this point that all of this talk is kind of irrelevant. Yes, there are differences but it’s not huge and I think most of your won’t be able to guess which camera is which. That’s going to be the fun part. At a certain point, we are picking hairs, does it really matter at that point? The more interesting part is seeing how they went about shooting and lighting it and what the cheaper cameras need to do to try to catch up (I’m not saying they can) in this extremely challenging scene, even for film. At some points we are walking up to 2 feet from the screen to see the differences.

Jim and other manufactures have given you what you’ve been asking for. You got your tool and it rocks, your EPIC, Alexa, whatever. Sorry to say it’s all in your hands, lets see what you can do with it.

Frankly all this just made me more interested in Zacuto’s new shootout which will hit the interwebs on June 15th:


Apparently Jim has a change of heart.

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