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Calling Bob Zelin one of the industry's most respected voices of engineering and systems experience is an understatement. (We might also have to add "most feared.") For over 20 years, he has been at the leading edge of building next-generation post houses and broadcast facilities using the latest, greatest, and most affordable new technology. He's also been around long enough to have seen through an awful lot of hype, so when Bob drops the "R" word, it's because he really believes it's revolutionary himself. His coverage of the 2013 NAB Show is once again don't-miss reading.

You also need to check out Debra Kaufman's detailed conversations with nearly two dozen companies on their product offerings and their perspectives on where this business is going. Featured companies in this installment include Panasonic, AJA, Anton Bauer, ARRI, Autodesk, Blackmagic Design, Canon and more. You can find the whole series here.
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What's that you say? A quiet NAB? Perhaps, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't wall to wall news. Reports are still being gathered, but for now, here is but the first round of reports from the biggest news week in the world of product announcements for media professionals.

Debra Kaufman will be anchoring our vendor-by-vendor coverage from the industry's heavy hitters and up-and-comers. In the meantime, here's her overview of the show as a whole.

You may also have heard that Adobe Anywhere was one of the show's biggest stories...and it was. Debra spoke to Adobe Director of Video Product Management Bill Roberts, a conversation you won't want to miss.

Wally Cam. The name alone conjures wonder and delight, but you have no idea. Here is Walter Biscardi's informal, enlightening and delightful video coverage of the show, including interviews with Blackmagic founder and CEO Grant Petty, Adobe's Kevin Monahan, Autodesk's Marc-Andre Ferguson, Small Tree's Steve Modica, and a visit to the best donuts in town. Wally Cam. Walter also offers a terrific show wrap-up here.

Ryan Salazar and Dennis Kutchera provided coverage and insight into the worlds of Broadcast (Ryan) and Post Production (Dennis), Ralph Hajik offered ongoing commentary in Creative COW's NAB Show forum, and Kylee Wall added her insights into the strange, strange world that is NAB, both as an attendee and working a booth.

There's lots more to come, including the epic reporting of Bob Zelin, Debra's overviews of 4K and Software as a Service, and dozens of interviews with industry leaders.

Hey, and when you need a break from the show news, don't forget to check out this behind-the-scenes look at Jurassic Park 3D: A New Dimension For A Modern Classic.
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If you liked Jurassic Park the first time around, you're going to love it in 3D. 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.

"When the kids are trapped in the SUV and it's attacked by the T-Rex, you feel like you're in the vehicle with them and that proximity of danger from the massive multi-toothed dinosaurs," says Aaron Perry, Vice President/Chief Creative Officer of Stereo D. "That proximity ratchets up the intensity of the film tremendously. At the same time, there are amazing intimate moments Steven designed into the film that are augmented in a special unique way. Only stereo could be the final layer on that cake, to bring it fully to life."

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. Aaron Perry and Stereo D President William Sherak spoke to Creative COW's Debra Kaufman about their work on Spielberg's dinosaur blockbuster and on James Cameron's Titanic 3D, and why 2D-to-3D conversions are booming.
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No matter what superlatives you lavish on HBO's Game of Thrones, they probably fall short of the mark. Game of Thrones is HBO's marquee series, and is easily among the smallest handful of most highly-regarded shows among Creative COW's community of media production professionals. Cinematographer Anette Haellmigk shot two episodes of the brand new Season 3 of Game of Thrones, which premiered Sunday. (Her episodes will air on April 21 and 28.) With a resume that includes Spider-Man 2, Das Boot, Robocop, Starship Troopers, Total Recall, The West Wing and many more, she was the 2012 winner of Kodak's Vision Award from Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards. Annette speaks to Creative COW about her pioneering career path as a cinematographer, and, especially, her work on Game of Thrones. Take a look here.

You'll also want to check out this amazing inside look at the lush visual effects in Oz the Great And Powerful, a smash that has recently passed $400 million worldwide. Sony Imageworks provided over 1,100 digital visual effects shots to Oz, and has given us an exclusive inside look at the making of a truly epic spectacle.

VFX fans will also want to check out part 2 of Debra Kaufman's truly epic coverage of the current crisis for VFX artists, Can The VFX Business Be Saved?

Finally, we have every reason to believe that, once again, Creative COW members will be providing your best insights into NAB -- not just the events and the booths, but what they'll actually mean for your future. To get started, here's industry, and NAB, veteran Walter Biscardi's advice for getting the most out of the show without going crazy, How To Attend NAB.

Sony Imageworks Takes Us On The Yellow Brick Road to OZ

Sony Imageworks Takes Us On The Yellow Brick Road to OZ

VFX Crossroads Pt. 2: Can The VFX Business Be Saved?

VFX Crossroads Pt. 2: Can The VFX Business Be Saved?

Tips for Attending NAB 2013 From A Convention Veteran

Tips for Attending NAB 2013 From A Convention Veteran
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Once upon a time - 30 years ago - VFX artists were unionized.

If they still were, perhaps the conversation would have been different. But many VFX artists today don't even know that history, and in their anguished discussions today - such as the recent VFX Town Hall - the focus is on reinventing the past, with unionization, as well as creating a trade association to sit down with the studios to hammer out a new way to do business. Can anything be done to change this picture? Is it all too little too late?

In VFX Crossroads, Part 1: Causes & Effects Of An Industry Crisis, Creative COW's Debra Kaufman took a close look at how the seeds of the VFX industry's dysfunctional business model were planted in its earliest days. Although outsourcing and tax incentives/subsidies are the culprits most often cited in today's news, she showed that the financial picture for VFX houses is far more complex than that.

VFX technologist Jonathan Erland sees a tripod composed of an honorary association encouraging excellence, a trade association among VFX houses, and a union. "While we do have the VES component and the field is demonstrably 'excellent,' absent the stabilizing influence of the union and trade association legs of the tripod, the VFX industry is unstable and collapsing," he observes. "To the extent that globalization and inter-state economic warfare compromise or destroy the balance provided by existing tripods, the whole industry may well follow suit. To throw in another metaphor, VFX may turn out to be the 'canary in the coal mine'."

As Debra ties together the insights from dozens of industry veterans, she notes that there are no easy answers, including unionization as an end in itself. Instead, she presents deep insights into how, like the superheros they create, the VFX industry might come to its own rescue.

Read the full story in VFX Crossroads, Pt. 2: Can The VFX Business Be Saved?
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The exquisite irony of Rhythm & Hues declaring bankruptcy just before its work on Life of Pi won the venerable visual effects company an Oscar for Best Visual Effects defines a visual effects industry that finds itself at a crossroads. The blowback to Rhythm & Hues' bankruptcy -- the 500-strong march on the evening of the Academy Awards, R&H VFX Supervisor Bill Westenhofer's attempt to call attention to the fact on national broadcast, and the blank green screen icon on many Facebook pages -- is a reflection of frustration and anger among VFX artists.

Many of these frustrated artists are focused on outsourcing and subsidies as the culprits in wreaking havoc in the industry. While it's true that this has been a significant challenge to the VFX industry, its problems go much deeper and further back in time. The three original digital pioneers -- Digital Productions, Omnibus, and Robert Abel Associates -went out of business within short order, leaving only the acronym DOA. Of the four big VFX companies in the late 1970s -- Boss Films, ILM, Dream Quest Images and Apogee -- only one remains, and it's become a possession of a studio.

Financial dysfunction in the VFX industry is rooted in its very beginnings, and the only way to truly understand what's going on in the VFX industry today is to go back to those pioneering years -- when the industry was morphing from analog to digital -- and find the crucial junctures that led the industry down a path to financial instability and ruin.

Creative COW's Debra Kaufman has been covering the VFX for 25 years, and produced an all-day course on digital visual effects at UCLA Extension for five years, featuring presentations by top VFX supervisors. Nobody else can tell this story the way she has, speaking with the VFX pioneers responsible for some of the most indelible cinematic images in film's history. You're going to be talking about this provocative article for a long, long time.

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Working with Angenieux on new lens solutions for the RED Epic, wrestling freakish gym fluorescent lighting, wrangling national park filming permits: these were just a few of the challenges facing cinematographer, co-producer (and Digital Cinema Society founder) James Mathers in the making of “1000 to 1,” an inspirational, indie drama based on a true story to be released later this year. James tells a remarkable tale of the lengths one production went to make their film look much bigger than its budget, with practical advice for filmmakers on every scale.

As a journeyman cinematographer with over 60 film credits, James has also enjoyed being a RED owner. Disruption sometimes comes with a cost, though.

"I had invested heavily in lenses as a hedge against the rapid pace of obsolescence in the electronic end of cameras. Glass seemed a safe investment until my old lenses started to vignette on my new Epic. I approached Angenieux, the manufacturer of my much beloved Optimo 17-80mm and encouraged them to find a solution." James was also able to work with Fujinon, and in the end, "1000 to 1" ended up being the first feature to use either of these two great new lenses, the Angenieux 19.4-95mm Optimo and the Fujinon 19-90mm Cabrio.

Lighting turned out to be an even bigger challenge, especially when working with hundreds of fluorescent fixtures, unfortunately placed windows and low ceilings in an old but photgenic gym, and a variety of tight remote locations. James and his team wound up with a number of creative approaches to everything from gels to 18Ks.

James also goes into detail on his camera and support choices -- including his own jib rig with its 9-ft. arm that he confesses is something of a Frankenstein.

All of this gear and skill is to put to the service of telling the story of a remarkable young basketball player recovering from a stroke. You're going to enjoy reading the story of how James Mathers and a group of committed friends were able to bring it together.
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You know the work of Dan Lebental, ACE. Over a nearly 30-year career so far, he's cut the Iron Man movies, Elf, Cowboys & Aliens, Dead Presidents, the pilot for Revolution on NBC, even videos and shorts for artists like Snoop Dogg and MC Hammer. In fact, he's pretty sure he's the first music video editor to have bought his own Avid back in the day.

Although Lebental had edited electronically for decades, when he got his iPad, it brought back memories of film. "It was amazingly cool," he says. "The iPad scrolling made me feel like I did as a young filmmaker because it's so tactile like when we handled film." Thus inspired, Lebental began working on TouchEdit a year and a half ago. "Go Retro...Go Pro" is his tagline for TouchEdit which, he says, "captures the spirit of classical filmmaking while offering cutting-edge digital editing capabilities." He also tells us, "TouchEdit reconnects its users with the essence of real film to create professional quality film edits."

In fact, says Lebental, TouchEdit is aimed to be "the 21st Century version of the Moviola."

Even though it only costs $50, this isn't a toy. We invite you to read Debra Kaufman's account of what TouchEdit is -- and what it has the potential to become.
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"I got annoyed by the rules and went the opposite way." So declares Claudio Miranda, ASC, Oscar's newest winner for Best Cinematography, for his work on Life of Pi. He faced challenges galore, including extensive shooting on water, working with a main character who was yet to be created in CGI, and helping usher Oscar-winning director Ang Lee through his first 3D shoot. "Ang said that he wanted to shoot 3D for 10 years, and he wanted someone with experience in 3D for Life of Pi. He was looking for a more immersive storytelling, a new way to tell a story, and there are more tools in 3D to do that."

Both Ang and Claudio were especially clear with each other about what they didn't like about other 3D films they'd seen, but in the end, Claudio trusted what he saw from his own camera tests. "When I shot Tron, everyone gave me a list of things not to do in 3D and I intentionally did all those things to learn why. I discovered that many of these '3D rules' were false, and I broke a lot of them. I don't know where some of those ideas come from, so it's important not to take these rules for granted but test them." These include accepted truths about shutter angle, depth of field, lighting and more. Fortunately for Claudio, and the magic of the final film, Ang was very excited to take risks with their approach to 3D. The results speak for themselves.

Beyond the specifics of 3D shooting, Claudio speaks with the process that led to selecting the ARRI Alexa, the creative approach they took to filming scenes on the water, and their remarkable approach to lighting it all.

Read Claudio's story in "Claudio Miranda, ASC Makes New Rules for Shooting Life of Pi"

Our coverage of the year's best films doesn't end there! Read Tim Squyres on editing "Life of Pi," Bill Taylor, ASC on winning the Academy's John Bonner Medal of Commendation, and behind the scenes looks at Academy Award winners Argo and Anna Karenina, and nominees NO, Mondays At Racine and The Avengers, all in our series on "The Year's Best Films Round-up!"
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Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC and director Frederic Goodich, ASC got together to push the new Sony F65 to its limits. The result is Kickstart Theft, a short film based on De Sica's classic The Bicycle Thieves, which was shot in downtown Los Angeles in a range of challenging lighting and shooting conditions.

However, this was anything other than just another test shoot. Director Goodich has helmed over 1000 commercials among many projects. DP Zsigmond has lensed such classics as Close Encounters of The Third Kind, for which he won an Oscar, The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate and Deliverance. "After I did the DI on Black Dahlia, I fell in love with digital in post production," says Zsigmond. "I had wanted originally to stick with a chemical finish for the release, but it didn't work out that way. Since then I've been doing more digital. Before Kickstart Theft, I'd already shot with the RED and ARRI Alexa and wanted to try the Sony F65."

In thinking about a script, Goodich says he was interested in doing something with social relevance, and eventually thought of The Bicycle Thieves, which he adapted for an urban Los Angeles setting about a homeless family dependent on a motorcycle to eke out a living. "I purposely picked a familiar story so that the viewer can focus on the images and the light," he explains. "The notion was to shoot available light, with little or no little supplementary lighting, and scenes of high dynamic range wherever we could," says Goodich. "We were supposed to 'break the back' of the camera -- to demonstrate how it performed under daylight, tungsten, neon, fluorescent and mixed light conditions."

Kickstart Theft also became a study in how an Oscar-winning cinematographer adapted to guerrilla shooting conditions, how the production adapted to tight turnaround with a small crew -- and the Sony F65's ease of use with a variety of lenses, and taking advantage of advanced ACES workflows. You want a real world story about working with the F65? Here you go.

Kickstart Theft: Pushing the Sony F65 To The Limits.

And don't miss Debra Kaufman's coverage of the work done by LOOK Effects to bring "life" to the zombies in Warm Bodies.

Zombies Brought to Life For Warm Bodies
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