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Modern Videofilm Senior Colorist Natasha Leonnet most recently worked on Machete Kills, her sixth collaboration with director Robert Rodriguez. Leonnet learned to color correct in Germany and Denmark and, in the U.S., has worked at ILM and E-FILM prior to moving to Modern Videofilm in January 2013. Among the movies she's color-corrected that she's particularly proud of -- in addition to Machete Kills, of course -- are all of Rodriguez's other films she's worked on, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Arbitrage, Love and Other Drugs and the upcoming Labor Day.

"Ordinarily, my goal with color correction is to create a DI with no color signatures, something that could have just as easily gone through the lab and look just as seamless and natural," Natasha says. In Machete Kills, Robert wanted such a stylized look that it was an opportunity to use the tools to create images that were clearly affected by color correction. I won't say that never happens but it's more unusual than usual. That was exactly what he wanted. Color correction for every movie is always a collaboration. But Robert takes that to a different level.

Natasha's conversation with Creative COW's Debra Kaufman provides some of the best insights yet into the digital intermediate color grading process yet -- as well as a look at a career path that began with...still photography?!? Read more here....


And go Behind the Lens with filmmaker Nick Ryan on "The Summit"

Behind the Lens: The Summit with Nick Ryan

Behind the Lens: The Summit with Nick Ryan

In August 2008, eleven climbers died on K2, the Himalayan peak nicknamed the Savage Mountain. In The Summit, filmmaker Nick Ryan delves into the mystery of what actually happened that day, in a masterful collage of footage taken by the climbers, stunning aerial shots of K2, interviews and re-enactments. Take a look behind the lens with Nick Ryan as he relates how he respectfully re-captured those tragic moments.
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It wasn't the effects and it wasn't the cast that made 1933's King Kong the enduring classic that it is (though Fay Wray got a clear shot at immortality). It was the story. The story of a big lug with a soft spot a mile wide. Creative COW's Stephen Menick offers some observations about why today's filmmakers would do well to sit at Kong's feet.

While acknowledging the world of possibilities opened by the latest VFX and camera technologies, he observes that Kubrick was among the directing greats who wrestled with everything beyond the visual aspects of moviemaking. "Story's always the hardest thing," Stephen says. "If it's enough to keep the Kubricks scratching their heads, then the rest of us, the non-geniuses, would do well to clear our modest brainspace of everything else."

Stephen's provocative discussion uses examples from throughout movie history as he makes his point that movies aren't a visual medium. They're an emotional medium.


Will 2014 Be the Year of 4K?

Will 2014 Be the Year of 4K?

Will 2014 Be the Year of 4K?

UltraHD, or 4K, has been making an appearance at trade shows for the last couple of years. At this year's IBC in Amsterdam, the demonstrations and products pushed forward the idea that 4K is a possibility for TV distribution and general production and post. Creative COW takes a look at the offerings and the opportunities.


As we say hello to Season 3 of Homeland on Showtime, and say goodbye to AMC's breaking bad, don't miss our conversations with the cinematographers of these two remarkable shows.


Behind the Lens: Homeland's David Klein, ASC

Behind the Lens: Homeland's David Klein, ASC

Behind the Lens: Michael Slovis, ASC & Breaking Bad

Behind the Lens: Michael Slovis, ASC & Breaking Bad
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Homeland and Breaking Bad are two of the most highly regarded shows on television. Both shows have won many awards, including Breaking Bad's Emmy win as 2013's Best Drama. That AMC series is winding down just as Season 3 of Showtime's Homeland gets underway this Sunday. We're delighted to bring you conversations with the cinematographers for both of those remarkable-looking shows.


Behind the Lens: Homeland's David Klein, ASC
David Klein, ASC is currently Director of Photography for two premium cable hit series: Showtime's Homeland, which returns for a third season on September 29, and HBO's True Blood.

David Klein, ASC started his career in cinematography as a child, when he got his hands on his father and grandfather's cameras. His career got off to a bang with Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy. Since then he shot several TV series including Pushing Daisies and numerous indie and studio films including Clerks II, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and Red State. David talks about shooting Homeland, his start in cinematography, what film school did for him, and being still primarily an Alexa show, but having added a RED Epic, Canon 1D C and Canon 5D to the mix for the current season.


Behind the Lens: Michael Slovis, ASC & Breaking Bad

Behind the Lens: Michael Slovis, ASC & Breaking Bad

Behind the Lens: Michael Slovis, ASC & Breaking Bad

Michael Slovis, ASC is behind the lens at the enormously popular and critically acclaimed AMC show Breaking Bad where he's shot four seasons and earned three Emmy nominations. Although his early work was in independent film in New York, Slovis has had a long, successful run in episodic TV including work on Fringe, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, 30 Rock and many others. In one of the most compelling entries yet in our Behind The Lens series, edited by Debra Kaufman, Michael talks about the pleasures of shooting film, his stock choices (which he feels have never been better), why he sticks with prime lenses, and some of the dramatic approaches to visual storytelling that Breaking Bad creator and Executive Director Vince Gilligan has developed for the show.


The Wizard of Oz: A Hollywood Jewel Now in 3D and IMAX

The Wizard of Oz: A Hollywood Jewel Box Now in 3D and IMAX

The Wizard of Oz: A Hollywood Jewel Now in 3D and IMAX

The Wizard of Oz debuted in 3D and IMAX on September 20, and it's a treat not to be missed. For almost a year, a Prime Focus team in Los Angeles and Mumbai carefully rotoscoped and composited each scene to create a respectful, eye-opening 3D version of this iconic movie. The result reveals all the beautiful artistry and craft that went into this much-loved classic.


Remembering Ray Dolby: A Life of Invention


Remembering Ray Dolby: A Life of Invention

Remembering Ray Dolby: A Life of Invention

Ray Dolby gave his talents and his name to the most significant advances in audio recording, for both the professional film/TV/music industries and consumer products. On the occasion of his death, at age 80, Creative COW tells the story of his life, his engineering achievements and the impact he has had on the creative people in our industry.


And don't miss Ryan Salazar's IBC Report, and Debra Kaufman's update on the latest from Autodesk.
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Attending Video Production conferences and educational seminars can add to your pool of creative resources, but you're missing out if you don't take the opportunity to meet people and make connections. Editor and Social Media Maven at Biscardi Creative Media, Kylee Wall shares her Top Ten List of Networking Tips for Video Production Conferences.


Adobe Ups Creative Cloud and Adobe Anywhere

Adobe Ups Creative Cloud and Adobe Anywhere

Adobe Ups Creative Cloud and Adobe Anywhere


Adobe has updated its Creative Cloud with 150 new features, including numerous video tools for Premiere Pro, After Effects, SpeedGrade and other components. In addition, the company has also planned significant updates to Adobe Anywhere Video, the "modern collaborative workflow platform" that allows Adobe pro-video solutions benefit from centralized media and assets across standard networks.


Sony Media Cloud Services Debuts New & Enhanced Services

Sony Media Cloud Services Debuts New & Enhanced Services

Sony Media Cloud Services Debuts New & Enhanced Services

Sony Media Cloud Services just debuted three new production applications (RoughCut, AudioReview and VideoReview) as well as integration of Sony's wireless camera adapter. The cloud service has already been in heavy use at Sony Pictures, and is newly adapated by broadcasters and other media and entertainment organizations.


HP's New Z: ZBook Mobile Workstation

HP's New Z: ZBook Mobile Workstation

HP's New Z: ZBook Mobile Workstation

HP is targeting disgruntled Apple Mac Book Pro users with a line-up of three ZBook Mobile Workstations, including the ZBook 14, which the company terms "the first workstation Ultrabook." Also new are enhanced Z Workstations featuring the latest in Intel architecture, the Ivy Bridge Xeon processor and Thunderbolt technology for high-speed data transfer, and two new Z Displays. These machines are far from mere attempts to "catch up," though. Instead, they offer features and power not seen elsewhere, and are turning heads of even hardcore Mac users.

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In normal times, the late night show Conan is a barrel of laughs. With the episode "OCCUPY Conan", Conan O'Brien let the inmates -- uh, the fans -- take over the asylum with a raft of fan-produced parodies of an original show, strung together to form an entire episode. The result, which aired on January 13, 2013, is now up for an Emmy for Outstanding Multicam Editing for a Comedy Series.

Concept producer Doug Karo had the idea to do a segment-by-segment parody of the show, inspired by the phenomenon of fan-created Star Wars videos found on the Internet, that range from talking heads to nerds re-enacting fight scenes. "It doesn't look anything like the movie," says lead editor Dan Dome. "You've got everything from nerdy kids in their living room re-enacting fight scenes to two guys talking on a couch to Claymation. Doug's idea was to take that model and apply it to Conan, building a show from Conan episodes and using 'best-of-fan parody clips' to make an original fan-sourced show." Don't miss this look at the outcome.



Storyboarding FX's The Bridge

Storyboarding FX's The Bridge

Storyboarding FX's The Bridge

Storyboarding is an essential part of the previzualization process, but rarely examined as a production skill unto itself. As Rudi Liden of Famous Frames has said about his work as a storyboarder, the foundations of his success range "from understanding how a camera works to what different lenses do -- and the ability to draw just about anything, especially depending on what type of storyboard you're doing. A good storyboard artist also has to have a certain amount of understanding about acting and know how to convey an idea quickly." The stakes were particularly high for the new FX Network series, The Bridge, where careful storyboarding helped ensure the safety of the cast and crew in a dangerous environment. Read more...



Women In Post Join Forces

Women In Post Join Forces

Women In Post Join Forces

"Women in Post is a new HPA (Hollywood Post Alliance) committee formed by and for a decidedly minority group in the world of film/TV high technology. After three meetings -- two of them successful round table discussions, featuring accomplished women in the industry -- the group is expanding its plans to offer networking, mentoring and camaraderie and more." So reads the introduction to Debra Kaufman's coverage of a single industry event -- but it has already sparked considerable discussion about the present state and future possibilities for women in the film and television production industry. Join the discussion!

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"We talk about great movie title sequences in movies all the time, but prior to a thread in Creative COW's TV & Movie Appreciation Forum, I'd never seen much conversation about great TV opening sequences," says Creative COW's Tim Wilson. "It can be hard to separate 'opening sequences' from theme songs, and certainly a lot of openers are visually irrelevant - they're just there for the theme songs. There might as well be a black screen.

"That's obviously not always the case. There are of course a TON of great TV openings whose visuals are every bit as memorable as their songs. Two particular nights in the history of television struck me at the time as having five absolutely perfect openers in a row, at the top of five outstanding shows. I'm going to save the other for a future article, but this time, I'm going to look at Friday night on ABC, 1971-72. Five great shows, five fantastic opening sequences, and, as a bonus, five incredibly memorable theme songs.

"It happens that none of these shows debuted in the 1971-72 season. This is just when they landed in one place, driving each show to the peak ratings of its run. Indeed, the night worked so well that the network kept the same line-up for one more year. By the end of 72-73 though, half of these were gone. Two more seasons, they'd all be gone. Nope, 71-72 is the season that the shows of ABC's Friday night first came together in a truly magical way: The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222, The Odd Couple, and Love, American Style."

It's a personal, typically off-kilter look that we think will bring back memories for our older readers, and perhaps point our younger ones in the direction of some new ones. Take a look!
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Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols or even the Ramones, three African-American teenage brothers formed a band in their spare bedroom and played proto-punk music. In this era of Motown and disco, record companies found Death's music -- and band name -- too intimidating, and the group disbanded.

Released by Drafthouse Films, A Band Called Death chronicles the journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a 1974 demo tape stored in an attic found an audience several generations younger.

Here we share the lengths that directors Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino went to for their indie documentary, with everything from funding, to editing multiple codecs, to a traumatic interview with Jello Biafra, and yes, a remarkable group of musicians whose story has been long overdue for telling.
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Neill Blomkamp was hailed as a visionary for his direction and co-writing of District 9, and the three years since then have had audiences eagerly awaiting Neill's next picture. Elysium has likewise been hailed as a striking exploration of contemporary political and social issues in a science fiction context. In our interview with him, he's quick to point out that he doesn't believe his movies will change anything, but that they arose organically out of his own experiences.

"Organic" is in fact one of the key words to describe Neill's approach to filmmaking: a writer-director who moved up from the world of visual FX, taking special care to understand and engage himself in every discipline's contribution to a movie's organic whole. Read the article here.



For a look at how the effects were handled, read Elysium: Insights From The VFX Supervisors

Elysium: Insights From The VFX Supervisors

Elysium: Insights From The VFX Supervisors

Vancouver-based VFX facility Image Engine was the VFX unit for Elysium as well as the lead VFX vendor. Associate Visual Effects Supervisor Andrew Chapman and overall Production Visual Effects Producer Shawn Walsh talk about how their company handled the visual effects works from pre-production through to completion.


And here is a special look at Creating the Details of Elysium's Luxury World, including a plate and final delivered only to Creative COW:

Creating the Details of Elysium's Luxury World

Creating the Details of Elysium's Luxury World

VFX facility Whiskytree accomplished approximately 80 shots in Elysium, all of them focusing on the creation of the mansions, municipal buildings, flora and fauna of the wealthy enclave on Taurus. Lead VFX house Image Engine and Whiskytree created an unusually close collaboration to get the job done.
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After attending the USC School of Cinematic Arts on the way to his MFA in Film Production in 2006, Stephan Fleet has done "countless amounts" of TV visual effects as a VFX supervisor and artist. Among his TV VFX work at Encore are series Magic City, Beauty and the Beast, Vegas, The River, and Castle. Now Encore VFX's Executive Creative Director, Fleet oversees work on the CBS/DreamWorks production of the Stephen King series Under the Dome.

The challenge, says Stephan, is to understand the language spoken by each department. "I think one overlooked aspect of the VFX supervisor is that we need to function as a 'digital language translator.' The director and cinematographer and producers in Wilmington are thinking about the work in one way, with a specific set of terms and the VFX team in Hollywood is approaching the same shots from a very different perspective." Along the way, he also has to balance creative and technical considerations into a unified vision.

Encore VFX is now handling 30 TV shows at the same time, giving Stephan a front row seat for the merging of production and post. Don't miss this unique peek into a side of TV you only thought you understood.
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Panavision's John Galt is one of the industry's straightest talkers. That hasn't always sat well with those who disagree with him, but even they will acknowledge that he's also undeniably a technical visionary and a great storyteller -- all among the reasons why this 2009 interview remains one of the most popular we've ever published.

As Panavision's Senior Vice President of Advanced Digital Imaging, John led the team that created the Genesis camera, and was responsible for the F900 "Star Wars" camera that started the digital cinematography revolution. In this wide-ranging, no-holds barred conversation, John cuts through what he calls the "intentional obfuscation" of "marketing pixels," and explores the range of high resolution and high frame rate options that was just coming into view at the time of the original interview.

These topics were among the very hottest then, and even hotter today as many of John's predictions are coming to pass.


And don't miss our look at The Future of Cinematography: Part TWO - Insights From the Rental Houses

The Future of Cinematography: Insights From the Rental Houses

The Future of Cinematography

The first challenge that rental houses have had to adapt to is the constant evolution of acquisition formats, from film to tape and now, to data. As the use of film has dramatically declined, so the makes, models and formats of digital video cameras have proliferated.

Each rental house has had to decide whether or not to hold onto its film cameras and services. And each has had to decide what video cameras to purchase and support, from the earliest days of HDTV until today's evolution to 4K. As the number of formats and, now, codecs, changes rapidly, rental houses have to be cautious about amortizing technology that may be obsolete before it's paid for. In Part 2, we look at the ways that rental houses have adapted to thrive in a new digital age.


And discover a great way to use DaVinci Resolve and Avid in Covert Affairs and Suits with Online Editor Scott Freeman

Covert Affairs and Suits with Online Editor Scott Freeman

Covert Affairs and Suits with Online Editor Scott Freeman

Scott Freeman figured out how to use Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve in an innovative way to dramatically speed up media matching in the online editing process for USA Network's dramas, "Suits" and "Covert Affairs." He describes how he round-trips between the Avid Symphony and the DaVinci Resolve and why he wants every other online editor to learn his trick.
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