One of the notable features of Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 film “Children of Men” is Cuaron’s use of long, single-shot sequences, including a complicated urban warfare shot that’s nearly eight minutes long. Refocused Media examined the movie and found that there were 16 shots longer than 45 seconds. The 31-minute compilation video above shows all of the shots in chronological order.
Obviously, you should see the film if you haven’t already. My point in doing this is to demonstrate the effect of a long take in a variety of narrative uses, and to give an idea of what a 45+ second shot looks and feels like when directed by Alfonso Cuaron.
It was also recently revealed that Cuaron’s upcoming film “Gravity” has a 17-minute long opening take, and an average shot length of 45 seconds.
Here’s a helpful video that shows how you can optimize your Canon DSLR for video recording based on Vincent LaForet‘s recommendations. It’s geared towards the 5D Mark II, but is applicable for other video-capable DSLRs as well (e.g. 5D Mark III and 7D). There’s also an article over on LaForet’s blog that explains the reasoning behind the various settings.
Canon’s historic announcement is here, and as most people predicted, it’s geared towards filmmaking rather than photography. The company just unveiled its new C300 cinema camera in an effort to break into a Hollywood digital filmmaking scene that’s dominated by the Arri Alexa and the RED EPIC. While it’s not particularly powerful in any specific category, the new camera comes in EOS or PL lens mounts, shoots 1080p video with a 4K sensor, has dual CF card slots, and offers high quality footage in a relatively small form factor. Read more…
Filmmaker Philip Bloom recently helped Lucasfilm shoot parts of their upcoming film Red Tails. The behind-the-scenes video above gives an interesting glimpse into what it looks like when pretty ordinary DSLR gear meets the big budget world of Hollywood filmmaking. The cameras are hooked up to some pretty serious equipment.
You can check out a trailer for the movie here — Blooms says that a number of his shots can be seen in it, but is keeping mum about which ones.
If you look at the Top 100 Movies chart in the iTunes Store, you might not notice anything out of the ordinary, but one of the movies (#43) is actually a no budget film shot using a single Canon 5D Mark II. For Lovers Only” is a romance filmed by Mark Polish and Michael Polish — known as the Polish brothers — over the course of just 12 days with a single actress (Mark himself played the male lead). The film has already generated over $200,000 in profits after being spread through word of mouth via social networks.
The brothers said that their hotels and some meals were comped; they shot and edited with equipment they already owned; and they don’t consider the few grand worth of meals, taxis and the like to be part of an actual budget. “There was not one dime that came out of our pocket specifically for this movie — besides the food we ate, but we had to eat, anyway,” Michael said.
In the end, Michael and Mark even had to make up some names for the film’s title sequence, which they wanted to stretch out to a reasonable length in order to fit the score that had been written by their friend Kubilay Uner. [#]
This is a great example of how the landscape for movie making, distribution and viewing is rapidly changing, allowing anyone armed with a prosumer DSLR and a whole lot of talent to potentially strike it big.
In 2008, the Nikon D90 became the first DSLR to offer HD video recording, a feature that has become pretty standard on new DSLR models. Third-party companies have also taken advantage of the HDSLR craze by offering a boatload of specialized HDSLR filmmaking products, including camera rigs that are constantly becoming larger and more crazy-looking. DSLR film school Neumann Films created this funny short film poking fun at huge and expensive rigs.
The gear game of DSLR cameras is getting out of hand. When a camera rig costs more than your camera something is wrong. These were the thoughts that fueled the creation of our latest video “DSLR Camera Rigs”. [#]
So this is what goes on at the brainstorming sessions of rig makers…
Remember the controversy last year surrounding the use of a captive wolf in an award-winning wildlife photograph? Turns out this kind of deception might be common practice in the world of wildlife filmmaking.
Chris Palmer — the producer and director of quite a few notable wildlife films — has written a new book titled Shooting in the Wild in which he exposes many of the “dirty secrets” of nature documentaries.
The above video is an ABC Nightline segment in which Palmer discusses many of the tricks used in the business, including using trained animals, dragging dead animal carcasses to locations, digging fake dens, and even telling outright lies in the narration. One shocking example is found in the Academy Award winning documentary White Wilderness: a scene that seems to show lemming suicide was actually created by pushing lemmings off a cliff using a rotating platform.
Palmer also reflects on the question: does the positive good these faked scenes do justify the dishonest tricks used to create them? What do you think?
Update: Seems like the Hulu video above isn’t accessible to those outside the US. Here are a couple more links you can try: ABC News and Link TV.
Animated films have had enjoyed increased exposure on the big screen this year. Films like Pixar’s Up, Miyazaki’s Ponyo, and Ari Folman’s animated documentary, Waltz with Bashir, have received widespread critical acclaim, demonstrating that while animated films can be family-friendly, they are at their core a dynamic and imaginative medium with impressive potential.
Two major animated films this year, Henry Selick’s 3D film, Coraline, and Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, utilize an old animating technique that has been used for nearly a century: stop-motion.
According to the IMDB websites of both films, the individual frames of Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Foxwere captured with Nikon DSLRs: the Nikon D80 and D3, respectively, along with a variety of other lenses, bodies, and equipment. Additionally, several Canon bodies can be spotted in a Wired.com video feature on Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Producer Jeremy Dawson notes how differently the film was produced because it was on a digital medium: instead of director Wes Anderson being present during the entire filming process, captured photographs could be remotely accessed and viewed for his approval, no matter where he was physically. The final film consists of 5,229 shots, 621,450 frames, an average of 120 gigabytes of data was captured per day, and the total storage for the images took up 18.5 terabytes of space.
Both films are visually captivating. Coraline director Selick does not stray far from the styles of his previous animated masterpieces, James and the Giant Peach and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Director Wes Anderson’s trademark vintage color palette also stays consistently impressive.
The behind the scenes featurettes of the films are worth a watch as well, and provide some interesting insight into the tedious effort and tremendous amount of time put into making these gorgeous motion pictures.
The Making of Coraline
Behind the Scenes of Fantastic Mr. Fox
Image and Video Credits: Fox Searchlight (Fantastic Mr. Fox) and Focus Features (Coraline).