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Jonathan Bird's Blue World is an underwater adventure series co-produced by the titular Emmy Award-winning cinematographer and naturalist, and the Oceanic Research Group. The 30-minute episodes cover a variety of subjects in and around the water, including marine research and underwater exploration. Needless to say, it also features stunning underwater imagery.

This truly epic conversation with Jonathan covered his trajectory across over 20 years in the industry, through NLEs (from Avid, Media 100, FCP, and now Premiere), camera formats (Hi-8 to 4K), computing platforms (adding HP workstations to his previously all-Mac shop), and business models -- starting with creating the TV show he'd always wanted to work on.

Digital Domain & The Many Layers of Maleficent

Digital Domain & The Many Layers of Maleficent

In Part 2 of our look at Walt Disney's Maleficent, we check in on Digital Domain, who drew upon their decades of Academy Award-winning expertise to set a new standard for realistic CG humans -- including, in some scenes, Maleficent herself. VFX Supervisor Kelly Port took us inside the 2-year process of bringing them to the screen. Read more...

Broadcast Editor Shane Ross Rebuilds His Bay with Thunderbolt

Broadcast Television Editor Shane Ross Rebuilds His Bay with Thunderbolt

Broadcast editor and longtime Creative COW leader Shane Ross was onlining a series for MSNBC on Avid Symphony, and noticed a funny thing: his MacBook Pro was outpacing his Mac Pro tower. Follow his adventures as he uses a variety of new products to rebuild the heart of his suite around Thunderbolt and his MacBook Pro.
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Walt Disney Pictures' Maleficent stars Angelina Jolie, Oscar winner for Girl, Interrupted, and among the smallest handful of actors we can refer to as true movie stars. It retells the story of one of Disney's most iconic villains, the evil witch from Disney's 1959 Sleeping Beauty. Its intent is by no means to lighten Maleficent up, as much as to illuminate her. As Angelina told Entertainment Weekly, "It's about the struggle that people have with their own humanity and what is that that destroys that and kind of makes us die inside."

Not exactly kid stuff, but the first reaction of audiences has been strong: an extremely rare Cinemascore rating of "A" from the people who've seen it, on top of an opening weekend north of $170 million worldwide.

Maleficent is directed by first-timer Robert Stromberg, who had a long career in visual effects before moving to Art Direction, where his first two outings (Avatar and Alice in Wonderland) both earned him Academy Awards. Maleficent screenwriter Linda Woolverton also wrote Alice in Wonderland (the first woman to be the sole writer on a billion-dollar picture), Beauty and The Beast (the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar), and collaborated on the screenplay for one of Disney's talking animal trifles. The Lion King. You may have heard of it.

In addition to Robert and Linda, another member of the team responsible for the success of Alice in Wonderland, now working again with them on Maleficent, is Visual Effects Supervisor Carey Villegas, whose work on Alice in Wonderland in fact netted him an Oscar nomination. Along with work on vfx-heavy franchises including Superman and Spiderman, Carey's diverse credits include What Dreams May Come, Fight Club, and Cast Away. We spoke to Carey about his work on Maleficent, coordinating the efforts from Digital Domain and the Motion Picture Company, the challenges of making realistic visual effects, and keeping Maleficent the movie grounded while making the character Maleficent fly.

Douglas Spotted Eagle shown skydiving with a 11-camera head-mounted POV testing helmet

The Ultimate POV Shootout

Douglas Spotted Eagle has a broad experience base with POV cameras designed for action shots. Rather than choosing one catch-all, must-buy cam, he will provide information about which action-camera is best suited for specific criteria which can be then used to help you make informed purchasing decisions.
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Here are some of our favorite stories for recent releases for movies you can now catch via your favorite home theatre viewing methods....

VFX & Motion Graphics on Star Trek: Into Darkness

VFX & Motion Graphics on Star Trek: Into Darkness

Andrew Kramer of Bad Robot and author/owner of the site Video Copilot was tapped to create more than 30 title sequences for the resurrection of the classic science fiction franchise with Star Trek: Into Darkness, while the OOOii team created stunning graphics and heads-up displays for the blockbuster film. OOOii CEO Kent Demaine, Lead Designer Jorge Almeida and Andrew Kramer spoke with the folks at Adobe about their great experiences working on the latest entry in the Star Trek universe.

Star Trek Into Darkness: How Editors Shaped The Story

Star Trek Into Darkness: How Editors Shaped The Story

The old saying is that the edit is the final version of the script. For editors Mary Jo Markey, A.C.E. and Maryann Brandon, A.C.E, their work on Star Trek: Into Darkness began far earlier than that -- when they were asked for their advice on how to shape the script in the first place! In one of our favorite articles, they describe the role they play in the storytelling process itself, in a way that far transcends the cutting of scenes.

The Wolf of Wall Street VFX with Robert Legato

The Wolf of Wall Street

With multiple VFX Oscars (Hugo and Titanic, plus a nomination for Apollo 13) plus a couple of Emmys (Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) under his belt, the most remarkable thing about Rob Legato's latest VFX extravaganza is that it doesn't appear to have any VFX at all! Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street is a masterpiece of what has become known as invisible effects, and this article from our friends at Imagineer, highlighting Rob's work with mocha, is a real eye-opener.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Monuments Men and A Career in VFX graphic

The Hitchhiker'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.

I, Frankenstein graphic with Frankenstein's monster standing on gargoyle

DI: I, Frankenstein

Siggy Ferstl's 32-year color grading career includes romantic comedies, kids movies, TV work, dramas both mainstream and independent -- and action. Lots of action, including House of Flying Daggers, entries in the Die Hard and Pirates of the Caribbean series, and three in the Underworld series. For his work on I, Frankenstein, Siggy spoke to Creative COW's Editor-in-Chief, Tim Wilson about the specific challenges of grading for VFX and 3D, as well as his approach to collaboration and the grading process.

Jurassic Park 3D movie graphic with T-Rex dinosaur

Jurassic Park 3D

Not everybody has a 3DTV of course, but if you do, you know you need this. If there was ever a movie that cried out for a third dimension, it was this one: T-Rex towering over the teetering SUV? Raptors skittering in the kitchen? Jurassic Park's already edge-of-your-seat scenes get even scarier in stereoscopic 3D. Conversions from 2D to 3D have gotten a bad rap due to a small handful of movies that were not done skillfully. Stereo D -- which also did the conversion work for Titanic -- handled Jurassic Park. President William Sherak and Executive Vice President, Chief Creative Officer Aaron Parry talked to Creative COW about their work on Spielberg's dinosaur blockbuster, and why 2D-to-3D conversions are booming.
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"The cloud" can mean a lot of things, and in some cases, it can mean nearly nothing. This can make it hard to even know what we're talking about. The "real" parts are getting more real all the time, though, for everything from collaboration to computation. Creative COW Contributing Editor Kylee Wall has been looking into the ways that "the cloud" in its many meanings is already transforming TV & film production today, and she has some ideas about where things might be going from here.

Screenvision & The Show Before The Show

Screenvision & The Show Before The Show

So you get to the movie a little early. Chances are good that you'll be seeing the work of Screenvision, who builds a combination of trailers, interviews, promos and music videos to create a self-contained show. We spoke to Screenvision Creative Supervisor Brian Mason for our own look behind the scenes.

Douglas Trumbull

Douglas Trumbull: A Writer-Producer-Director-Engineer-Inventor Looks Forward

You know Douglas Trumbull's stunning VFX work in movies including 2001: A Space Odyssey (which he took on at age 23), his Oscar-nominated work on Blade Runner, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and his directing the features Brainstorm and Silent Running. The latest step in Douglas's storied career includes a partnership with Christie on the recent premiere of his film UFOTOG, a dramatic 10-minute experimental sci-fi story about a lone man attempting to photograph UFOs. It was screened on a Christie Mirage 4K35, the world's first and only 4K DLP resolution projector running at a true 120Hz, at the Seattle Cinerama Theater's 2nd Annual Sci-Fi Film Festival. You can read more about that here.

With UFOTOG, Douglas was able to demonstrate his ground-breaking MAGI process, shot in 4K 3D at 120 frames per second (fps). MAGI explores a new cinematic language that invites the audience to experience a powerful sense of immersion and impact that is not possible using conventional 24 fps or 3D standards -- and given how many times that Douglas has changed the language of cinema already, who can doubt that he's done it again?

We had a chance to speak to Douglas 2 years ago, when he was still developing the MAGI process while shooting UFOTOG. He looked back on his VFX career, including his discovery by Stanley Kubrick at the 1964-65 World's Fair, and the work that he was doing to once again change the visual vocabulary of filmmaking. It's an amazing story! Read more....
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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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