Off Book – The Art of Film and TV Title Design

The credits are often the first thing we see when we watch a great film or TV show, but the complexity and artistry of title design is rarely discussed. Creators of title sequences are tasked to invent concepts that evoke the core story and themes of the production, and to create a powerful visual experience that pulls the viewer into the film’s world.

In this episode of PBS’s Web Series “Off Book” we hear the stories of some of the most inventive people working in the field, including the creators of the iconic Mad Men sequence, the hilarious Zombieland opening and “rules” sequences, and the stirring end credits from Blue Valentine.

Crowdfunding rules relaxed, Raise a Million Dollars over the Internet

A Bi-Partisan decision by the United States Congress is relaxing some of the federal restrictions on raising funds for business ventures. A general purpose aid to give businesses access to cash may work out for Filmmakers enabling them to solicit up to one million dollars.

Mark Litwak explains (and of course, this is not legal advice, consult an attorney when dealing with these types of numbers).

The new Act relaxes some restrictions for smaller emerging growth companies. It seeks to encourage entrepreneurs because most new jobs are created by small businesses, not large ones. Consequently, this new law could be the impetus for an economic boom – at least that is the hope of its backers. No doubt, some of the “reforms” in the Act are of questionable merit and could open the door to new abuses. However, the current laws governing the raising small amounts of capital are unduly onerous for entrepreneurs, and have been for many decades. Furthermore, these laws have clearly not kept pace with technological change and the methods we use nowadays to communicate with one another. If anyone understands the potential of the crowd, it should be President Obama. In the last presidential election, he raised nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars from Internet solicitations, mostly small donations.

Most promising for indie filmmakers, the JOBS Act contains provisions that for the first time will allow internet crowdfunding for the production of films. Crowdfunding is a method of raising capital by obtaining small amounts of money from a large number of investors. Although existing companies like and IndieGoGo currently enable filmmakers to raise funding through donations (i.e., gifts), this new law, when it becomes effective, will allow filmmakers to raise up to one million dollars in equity investments by soliciting the general public without the prior restraints.

Mark Litwak Blog | Read the Full Article

Community’s 8 point Story Structure

Dan Harmon drives himself crazy writing the scripts for Community. As the series creator, he’s been hard at work studying story and looking for a common structure. Brian Raftery reports on Dan Harmon’s story philosophy and spends some time with this interesting individual.

The circles are everywhere, if you know to look for them. They’re on the whiteboards around Dan Harmon’s office, on sheets tacked to his walls, on a notepad on the floor of his car. Each one is hand-drawn and divided into quadrants with scribbled notes and numbers sprouting along the edges. They look like little targets.

Harmon, 38, is the creator of Community, a sitcom about a group of community-college study buddies and the most giddily experimental show on network TV. He began doodling the circles in the late ’90s, while stuck on a screenplay. He wanted to codify the storytelling process—to find the hidden structure powering the movies and TV shows, even songs, he’d been absorbing since he was a kid. “I was thinking, there must be some symmetry to this,” he says of how stories are told. “Some simplicity.” So he watched a lot of Die Hard, boiled down a lot of Joseph Campbell, and came up with the circle, an algorithm that distills a narrative into eight steps: | Read the Full Article

NAB Wrap Up, Future Proofing, 4K and Babes (the Wrap)

John Hess recounts the NAB convention in Las Vegas, French Babes and how you can (or can’t) future proof your projects.

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Top 7 Articles of the Week from April 15-21, 2012

7. How It’s Made: Optical Lenses

Watch this video from the Discovery Channel series “How It’s Made” to see how glass goes from a block to a highly polished optical lens. Now you know why they are so expensive.

6. Amazing Stop Motion Video: The Shins “The Rifle’s Spiral”

Director Jamie Caliri’s beautiful stop motion animation video for “The Rifle’s Spiral,” a new track by The Shins. Caliri observes: “It’s now more like the years before MTV, when music videos did not have a formula. You can be expressive and idiosyncratic.”

The Shins: The Rifle’s Spiral on

5. How to get into a Film Festival – Advice from a Festival Director

Darren Levine, Festival Director & Co-Founder NYC Filmmaker’s Fest., offers some advice to filmmakers on how to submit your project to film festivals.

4. Stupid & Dangerous Super Slow Motion Footage with the Phantom Flex

Super slow motion highlights, from Danish TV show “Dumt & Farligt,” using the Phantom Flex.

3. Battle of the Canon 5ds: Mk II and Mk III – an UNscientific-Real-World Test

Does the new iteration of the 5d stomp out its older brother? We put to the cameras to a test in a head to head at NAB2012 in a real world duke-it-out test. No charts, no controls and slightly hung-over… which camera will come up on top?

2. NAB 2012: Black Magic, Adobe, Canon, Sony, and A Shiny Pimpin’ Van

NAB has become the world’s largest convention of media geeks and nerds around. Mid-April thousands make the pilgrimage to the land of Lost Wages to get a chance to look at new equipment and ask simple questions that could have been answered by a quick Google search.

Read the Rest of the NAB Coverage Here

1. Fear and 4K in Las Vegas: Filmmaker IQ Peeps at Canon’s Pixels

In this Article I pixel peep Canon’s 4k offerings and point out shots where Shane Hurlbut’s crew couldn’t nail focus:

Read my Full Write up Here

WTF Post of the Week

Just for John

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