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  • CDL 101

    Posted on July 1st, 2014 Mike No comments

    The ASC CDL is something a lot of people have heard of. A lot of people use them. Very few people seem to really understand how the format came to be, or how it’s generally used in the industry. Nor do they understand its importance in the production and post pipeline. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Better Late Than Never: Fearless Forecast 2012 Pt 1, A Look Back

    Posted on March 4th, 2012 Mike No comments

    Well, first I have to cop to being a bad boy and remaining absent from the blog for far too long. Haven’t really had a lot to say that I haven’t already said in various posts in various places, but I didn’t mean to stay away quite this long. And that said, the first order of business in these forecasts is to examine how I did last time. And as always, I got a few things right, a number of things wrong, and a number of things that were so far off the mark it’s not even funny. Read the rest of this entry »

  • All About ACES

    Posted on March 14th, 2011 Mike 7 comments

    There has been a good deal of talk about the IIF/ACES system, but there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding as to exactly what it is. A lot of the early talk centered around the proposed file format to contain ACES information, but the file format is only a very small part of what the system is intended to be, and one of the least significant.

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  • A Golden Age of Choices

    Posted on October 19th, 2010 Mike 3 comments

    It often seems that nearly everything I read about the production and post industry today involves some sort of choice. Film vs. digital. PC vs. Mac. Red vs. Arri. Sony vs. Panasonic. Kodak vs. Fuji. Resolve vs. Baselight. Lustre vs. Pablo. Scratch vs. Speedgrade. The list goes on and on. But the very use of the term “versus” is a good indicator of just how far off the mark all of these things are, because the fact is that choice is a good thing, and making a choice based on particular circumstances is something that is done by every producer, cinematographer, and director on every project they undertake.

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  • I Ran Into An Old Friend..

    Posted on July 4th, 2010 Mike 1 comment

    I recently completed a digital intermediate project for an independent feature called “Meeks’ Cutoff.” This picture had a few rather unique characteristics: it was a period Western, it was set in – and shot in – eastern Oregon (an area not exactly known as a production hotbed, and one that as a result has not often been photographed), it was shot with an intended aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and perhaps most surprisingly for an independent production these days, it was shot on 35mm film. Considering the many harsh production conditions – wide open areas with little shade, rapidly changing skies and weather conditions, and lots of dust – that choice was a wise one. But in grading the picture, I was quickly reminded of why film survives, and why it is, in many ways, still the most robust and forgiving production format we have.

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  • Got RAW If You Want It

    Posted on April 11th, 2010 Mike 3 comments

    With the NAB convention taking place in Las Vegas this week, there are going to be quite a few announcements about all kinds of products. This being NAB, it should always be remembered that an announcement does not a product make, and most certainly, an announcement does not a ship date make. Product announcements are, first and foremost, tools to keep current customers interested and engaged, and potential customers intrigued. I’ll have a lot more to say about NAB announcements after I visit Las Vegas later this week, but one very significant announcement did not wait for NAB. The introduction of the Arri Alexa digital camera line took place in Los Angeles last week, in part to allow the many industry people who are working on television pilots at the moment to participate (why NAB always takes place smack in the middle of pilot season is something I’ve never understood), and probably in part to get some direct attention prior to the rather mad, free for all atmosphere that NAB represents. At any rate, the event was very well attended and very well presented, and illustrated the clear differences between Arri – a well established, well regarded and well known industry player for many years – and their primary competitor in the digital cinema camera arena at the moment, which would be Red – a company with a much shorter history, but a lot of interest, a lot of buzz, a very significant product line, and some big sales numbers. Read the rest of this entry »

  • SAG and AFTRA: Together Again

    Posted on February 28th, 2010 Mike 1 comment

    Late this past week, announcements were made by SAG and AFTRA that stated their intention to negotiate jointly for their next Film and Primetime Television deal. These negotiations are slated to begin this fall, although the current contracts – signed by AFTRA in 2008 and SAG many months later, in 2009 – don’t expire until June of 2011. These early negotiations were part of the settlement agreed to by SAG when they finally accepted the current contract. The announcement was not unexpected, especially given the upheaval SAG has gone through in the last 2 years, and the stated intentions of their new leadership under their new President, Ken Howard. But make no mistake. SAG is fighting to maintain relevancy, particularly in television, where their antics of the last year and a half have severely reduced their ability to maintain their representation. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Death of film for TV is greatly exaggerrated

    Posted on November 25th, 2009 Mike No comments

    If you ask the average person – in or out of the television industry – whether film is still being used for television series in the U.S., the answer would probably be no. The prevailing wisdom (especially in Europe, for some reason) seems to be that film for television production is basically dead, that all television series have moved to digital formats for production. Prevailing wisdom perhaps, except that it’s just not true. Film production is still very much a part of the picture for US television, both in dramas and comedies. If you look at the current prime time schedule, and add up the totals, you would find that out of 71 shows – including all current prime time dramas and sitcoms on both the major broadcast networks and the major cable networks – 43 are on shot on various digital cameras, and 28 are shot on film (both 35mm and 16mm). Now, if you eliminate the sitcoms – which have been shot almost exclusively on video since the mid 1990’s – and just look at dramas, out of  57 shows, 33 are on digital, and 24 are on film. So for dramas, that means that 42% are still shot on film. That’s clearly a much lower number than in the past, but it’s still quite significant. Now, if you look at shows that are new (i.e., in their first season) out of 10 shows, 9 of them are digital. One might look at this as a trend, and one would probably be correct. Clearly there is a movement towards digital that can’t be ignored. But once again, if you dig a bit deeper, the pilot season that produced those 10 new shows was severely affected by the failure of the Screen Actors Guild – which has exclusive jurisdiction over television shows that are shot on film – to sign a new contract. This in turn led the studios to shoot nearly all pilots this year under a contract with AFTRA, the “other” performers’ union that has shared jurisdiction with SAG for any program that is shot on any medium other than film, in order to ensure that the pilots could be completed without the threat of an actors’ strike. Would any of these pilots have gone to film in a “normal” year? Who knows? But it would not be unreasonable to conclude that at least some of them might have.

    In any case, and contrary to popular belief, film production is still alive and well for US television, although it is clearly no longer the dominant medium, even for prime time dramas. To see the complete list, go here.