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How do you tell a story visually without a frame? Mike Sullivan had to build a 360° museum film from 4K footage from the Sony F-55, 9 2K cameras in a dedicated rig, 100 actors, and horses, explosives and a crew of 45 -- and it turns out that figuring out how to tell a story in 360° was only the first of many post challenges that Mike had to face.

For one thing, how do you monitor the project during post? How do you even set up a project like that? How do you manage multiple formats of multiple sizes, which also need to be output at different sizes, in a single place? How do you hide the seams?

All in all, it's a classically epic story for both production and post, fully befitting the epic nature of the story itself. Mike's stories are always amazing, and this may be his most amazing yet.



Title graphic for Behind the Lens: Tom Burstyn Shoots Defiance

Behind the Lens: Tom Burstyn Shoots Defiance

We at Creative COW were pleased to note that Season 1 of the Syfy original program Defiance has been added to Amazon Instant Video. That season was lensed by regular Creative COW contributor Thomas Burstyn, an Emmy-nominated DP who is also a member of the Canadian Society of Cinematographers, and a New Zealand Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Defiance is shot with three Red Epic cameras, recording 4K RAW. Tom's bag of tricks includes his personal collection of antique lenses, including some still photography lenses, that add an organic flavor to the razor-sharp modern cinema lenses the production also uses. Everything about his own personal style and aethetic of the show tends away from conventional approaches to framing and lighting as well. Whether you know Defiance or not, you're going to see a few things you didn't expect in Tom's story of how it's put together.



Walter Biscardi on Archiving Data

Walter Biscardi on Archiving Data

In this digital media world, it's imperative to not only have enough media array space to do your work, but also to store and protect that media for the long term. Biscardi Creative Media have been using a very simple method going on four years now with great success, and discuss the details in this article.
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A film scanner being released in 2014 is kind of a strange thing, but not when you get the full Ultra HD story. Blackmagic Design's new Cintel Film Scanner can create Ultra HD content in real time for a fraction of the price of older scanners, and many movies and television shows over the last thirty years were shot on 35mm or 16mm film - natively Ultra HD content, just waiting to be scanned and re-released into the world.


Unbreakable Conform for Avid Symphony & DaVinci Resolve

Unbreakable Conform for Avid Symphony & DaVinci Resolve

There's nothing easy about roundtripping MXF files between Avid Symphony and DaVinci Resolve, especially if you want to keep handles intact. Longtime online editor Scott Freeman has come up with a way to actually make it easy, while automatically taming media management beasts. Best of all, the time savings are stunning: 8 hour conforms can be done in 4, and 40-hour media management marathons can be accomplished in seconds. Here are the steps for that, and so many other things that become possible as a result.
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The clients Bob Zelin's clients facility systems design business don't care about hype. They only want to hear the same thing you do: "Does this thing really work, and is it cheap?" The two aren't always compatible. Sometimes cheaper tech makes business harder, and hype is always in the way -- but you can count on Bob to call 'em as he sees 'em. At NAB 2014, Bob saw plenty, from plummeting prices for 4K to vastly expanding options for storage.


Some of his highlights:
  • Expansion chassis and rack mount options that make the new Mac Pro actually make sense for most Mac pros

  • 4K cameras that are practical, affordable, and actually exciting

  • A complete 4-camera HD or 4K TV studio with switcher and monitors for around $20,000? Not a dream.

  • Realtime SD to 4K conversion for $1395

  • New monitors, including, yes, 4K and OLED

  • ...and Thunderbolt 2 out the wazoo!


It's the NAB report you've been waiting for, and you can read it all right here.


But wait! There's more! "Kylee Wall: Beyond the A's and B's of NAB"

There are very good reasons for people to focus their NAB attentions on the bottom floor of the South Hall, but as Creative COW Contributing Editor Kylee Wall reminds us, there are very good reasons to widen your view of what's happening in the industry. "So much of the discussion is dominated with regurgitating old debates or evaluating a product based on the old, trusted ways," observes Kylee. "The trusted is becoming obsolete, if it isn't already. While some are going in circles, looking for anything in a press release to confirm their bias, the rest of the world of post has moved on to bigger and better things."

Kylee gets into specifics, including some sci-fi sounding stuff that's already happening, and it makes her optimistic for the future of her career. Are you ready for your future? Read more in "Finding The Bigger World in Post-Production"
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The NAB Show is too big to fit proper coverage into just a couple of days, so, as always, we're spreadin' it out. Later this week, look for reports from Bob Zelin, Walter Biscardi and others from the COW-moooo-nity, but for today, allow us to catch you up on dispatches from Creative COW Contributing Editor Kylee Wall. You can see from the graphic above that she's covering a lot of ground, so strap yourself in and read on!


Designing the Sounds of Noah graphic image

The Trouble With Rain: Designing the Sounds of Noah

To add new dimensions to the soundscapes of Darren Aronofsky's Noah, Supervising Sound Editor Craig Henighan took advantage of the new Dolby Atmos mixing stage at Deluxe New York to place movie audiences in the middle of the storm.
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We'll find out soon enough whether this is the best NAB Show in years, but we can tell you this without hesitation: it's the busiest one, by far. We've already posted over 1000 new press releases today -- yes, that's one thousand -- and we're not done yet!

You can see links to some of the latest news items a little further down in this newsletter, but we want to also give you some specific links to allow you to watch it all unfold in real time:

Creative COW News All you can eat news.

Creative COW@NAB Coverage from our ace team of working production professionals offering real-world perspectives from the show, featuring Walter Biscardi, Ryan Salazar, Kylee Wall, Bob Zelin, and more.

Kylee Wall will also be posting updates to her blog, including her first entry last night on "NAB Pre-show Buzz -- or lack thereof?" We touched base with her at the show, and she's more than happy for you to judge how well she called it. In any case, watch for more from her.

We'll also be posting video from Walter Biscardi, and end-of-day wrap-ups from the team, so stay tuned!

And speaking of Walter, here's the latest in his series of his production tips, Post Etiquette 4: Keep Calm and Carry On!


The Hitchiker's Guide to Monuments Men and a Career in VFX

The Hitchiker's Guide to Monuments Men and a Career in VFX

Jon Neill is one of the VFX Supervisors at Cinesite, and Creative COW's Tim Wilson spoke with him from the company's London office. A conversation that began with Jon's recent work on Monuments Men wound up taking in James Bond, John Carter, and some very practical advice for VFX artists who want to grow into leadership roles. Read more....
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With Game of Thrones about to kick off Season 4, we wanted to reintroduce you to Cinematographer Anette Haellmigk. She was the Director of Photography for two episodes in Season 3, and has four episodes on tap for this season, starting with Episode 2. "The Lion and The Rose," airing April 13. Anette's pioneering career includes such classics as Das Boot, the original Total Recall, Starship Troopers and many more -- but you're going to love reading her insights on shooting a TV show as visually rich as any feature film.

Read more in this look Behind the Lens.


Thunderbolt 2 Arrays From Nestor: The Biggest Game in Town

Thunderbolt 2 Arrays From Nestor: The Biggest Game in Town
If you've needed a Thunderbolt 2 RAID bigger than 8 bays, you've been out of luck -- until now. Bob Zelin has taken the new Nestor NA333TB 16-bay Thunderbolt 2 RAID for a spin, and likes what he sees.



And hey, you may have heard that NAB is coming! News will begin pouring in any day, but for now, take a look at some pre-show previews!

NAB Show Guide to Thriving (instead of just surviving)

NAB Show Guide to Thriving (instead of just surviving)


The NAB Show again approaches and Kylee Wall has something more to add to the conversation beyond just comfortable shoes and protein bars. Here is some great advice for doing more than just survive a busy convention.




NAB 2014: Panasonic's Sonic Blast: Cameras, Switchers & Tech

NAB 2014: Panasonic's Sonic Blast: Cameras, Switchers & Tech


Panasonic unveils their new NAB line-up for us, including new VariCam cameras with 35mm sensors, high-speed and 4K recording, and multiple new form factors, along with new P2 media and broadcast switchers.



Autodesk 2015 Product Updates Empower 3D Artists

Autodesk 2015 Product Updates Empower 3D Artists


Autodesk's new software empowers 3D artists' creativity by simplifying complex tasks and extending workflow capabilities. Enhancements to the 2015 software include new tools such as Bifrost and ShaderFX, and an updated Maya LT for indie game makers.
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Rodney Charters, ASC, CSC is probably best known for his work as cinematographer on the groundbreaking international hit 24. The most recent of his many jobs since then is TNT's Dallas, where he has shot 36 episodes so far, and directed three. Creative COW Contributing Editor Debra Kaufman spoke to Rodney about his work on both sides of the lens, including his use of the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera to complement the production's ARRI Alexas.

Read about how Rodney Charters, ASC, CSC Brings Blackmagic to Dallas.



NAB Show Guide to Thriving (instead of just surviving)

NAB Show Guide to Thriving (instead of just surviving)

The NAB Show again approaches and Kylee Wall has something more to add to the conversation beyond just comfortable shoes and protein bars. Here is some great advice for doing more than just survive a busy convention.
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There's distinctive, and there's distinctive.

Here's the test: can you look at a single, random frame from a movie, and tell beyond any doubt who directed it? Wes Anderson may pass that test more easily than anyone working today. From his 1996 feature debut, Bottle Rocket, to 2012's Moonrise Kingdom, whether in black and white or color, animated or live action, nobody else's movies look like his.

In his third time working with Wes Anderson, LOOK Effects VFX Supervisor Gabriel Sanchez helped implement the director's singular vision on The Grand Budepest Hotel. Here's a LOOK at the story behind the story.


Seamless 360 degree filmmaking

360 Degrees of Historical Immersion

How do you tell a story visually without a frame? Mike Sullivan had to build a 360° museum film from 4K footage from the Sony F-55, 9 2K cameras in a dedicated rig, 100 actors, and horses, explosives and a crew of 45 -- and it turns out that figuring out how to tell a story in 360° was only the first of many post challenges that Mike had to face.



Creative COW Webinar:

Move Massive Files 200x Faster with Signiant


Signiant Media Shuttle: Move large files 200 times faster

Learn how to move massive files up to 200 times faster in a free Creative COW Webinar, sponsored by Signiant. Tuesday, March 25, 9 AM Pacific, Noon Eastern, 4 PM UTC. Register today.
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We've published many unusual stories here at Creative COW over the years, and the story of Tim's Vermeer may be the unlikeliest yet.

Tim's Vermeer is a highly acclaimed documentary following the quest of an inventor/entrepreneur named Tim Jenison to paint a Vermeer. Tim became certain that he understood the secrets of how Johannes Vermeer was able to create paintings of unprecedented realism in the 17th century, and he had a plan to prove it. He was going to build a full-scale replica of the room and everything in it that Vermeer painted in The Music Lesson, make his own paintbrushes and paints with materials that Vermeer would have used, and even grind his own lenses using 17th-century methods to achieve realism the same way that he believed Vermeer did -- and then actually paint the painting, even though he'd never painted before!

It sounds insanely audacious, until you know that Tim Jenison is also the inventor of the NewTek Video Toaster, which was also insanely audacious. It didn't just kick off the broadcast-quality desktop video revolution when it debuted in 1990. For a few years there, it was very nearly the entirety of the revolution. Using this exceptionally enjoyable Penn & Teller documentary (producer and director, respectively) as a starting point, Creative COW's Tim Wilson speaks with NewTek's Tim Jenison about the unexpected intersections between art, technology and obsession, both for the Toaster and Tim's Vermeer. You're going to be amazed by this one.



Creative COW Webinar:

Move Massive Files 200x Faster with Signiant

Signiant Media Shuttle: Move large files 200 times faster
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All of us here at Creative COW extend our congratulations to all of the nominees and winners at the 86th Annual Academy Awards! We want to offer our particular felicitations to the team behind Gravity, and their seven Oscars. While we won't take any credit to elevating their campaign, the fact is that they and the team at Prime Focus World worked with us on a unique peek into the remarkable technology that added the third dimension to this remarkable work of art.

This work was especially notable for its innovation, but also because it played such a crucial role in how people actually saw Gravity: 80% of its audience saw Gravity as it was meant to be seen, in 3D. Even non-fans of 3D were largely impressed, and we think even the most extreme of these will be moved by the story of the artisans who made this magic happen. Certainly if you saw Gravity, or are simply wondering about the attraction (pun intended), you won't want to miss "Creating The 3D in Gravity."



Panasonic's NAB 2014 Lineup: VariCam, 4K P2

Panasonic shared their NAB plans with us this week, and if these announcements are any indication, they're in for another busy show. New products include VariCam configurations with 35mm sensors, high-speed and 4K recording, and multiple new form factors. They also announced new P2 media and broadcast switchers. Check out Ryan Salazar's report.


Finally, two additional Oscar notes.

The Last Film Lab

On February 18, filmmaker Christopher Nolan accepted the Academy Award of Merit on behalf of "all those who built and operated film laboratories, for over a century of service to the motion picture industry." Creative COW Contributing Editor Debra Kaufman recently completed a look at the world of film labs, asking the fundamental question: with release prints on film ending by the end of 2014, what's the future business model for film labs? For most of them so far, it has involved getting out of film, and in many cases, going out of business altogether. Read more in her report, "The Last Film Lab?," and, for a look at why film labs as a whole deserved Oscar's attention, "The History of the Film Lab."

A year after after legendary VFX house Rhythm & Hues won an Oscar for their work on Life of Pi, only a month after they had declared bankruptcy, many of the fundamental issues surrounding the future of VFX production in the US remain disturbingly unsettled. Her report "VFX Crossroads: Causes & Effects of An Industry Crisis" remains essential reading.

Read more...
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