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Star Wars: The Force Awakens brings the latest collaboration of Mary Jo Markey, ACE and Maryann Brandon, ACE​ once again collaborated with J.J. Abrams, following their previous successes with him on pictures including Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, Mission Impossible III, Super 8, and the TV series Alias. Here, they tell us about putting together this new instant classic.





Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC
Born: June 16, 1930, Szeged, Hungary; Died: January 1, 2016, Big Sur, CA


The cinematography community has lost a loved and revered member: Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, who worked on Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Deer Hunter, among others, died Jan. 1st. The octogenarian Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC possessed a genius as well as a sense of duty as a storyteller. The images he could draw from those cold cameras and lenses were alive, were life, themselves. He created emotion through colour and shadow and impacted his peers and students in every endeavour. Zsigmond's five-decade career included work on Deliverance, Blow Out, The Ghost and the Darkness and The Long Goodbye.

He won an Academy Award for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and was nominated for his work in The River, The Deer Hunter and The Black Dahlia. ICG president, Steven Poster stated: I was privileged to work as his 2nd unit DP on three of his movies. We all knew what a giant he was as an artist at the time. But working up close with him, I also learned about perseverance and an obligation to the story from the master. Rest in Peace, our dear friend.




Haskell Wexler, ASC
Born: February 6, 1922, Chicago, IL; Died: December 27, 2015, Santa Monica, CA


And earlier in the week on December 27th, we lost yet another stellar appellation -- the ever-remarkable Academy Award-winning Haskell Wexler, ASC. Wexler was an American cinematographer, film producer and director who was judged to be one of film history's ten most influential cinematographers in a survey of the members of the International Cinematographers Guild.

Both cinematographers were members of the ASC and the International Cinematographer's Guild, with current president, Steven Poster remarking on the highlights and celebration of their lives, and the profound loss that the industry will feel.

ICG president Steven Poster comments on Wexler with fond remembrance: His steady focus on safety over the years further demonstrates his commitment to the welfare of the crew and our industry.

I was first introduced to Haskell on the set of Medium Cool in Chicago’s Lincoln Park in 1969. It was a day I will always remember -- he was one of the greats. He and I went on to have many discussions over the years about cinematography and about the role of the union. Although he had his differences with the Guild over the years, we admired his dedication and passion to be an instrument for social change.

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On Star Wars: The Force Awakens brings the latest collaboration of Mary Jo Markey, ACE and Maryann Brandon, ACE​ once again collaborated with J.J. Abrams, following their previous successes with him on pictures including Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, Mission Impossible III, Super 8, and the TV series Alias. Here, they tell us about putting together this new instant classic.
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With the accessibility offered by ever more affordable tools, it has never been easier to make an Indie feature. This essay by President and Co-founder of the Digital Cinema Society, James Mathers, discusses the distribution of an indie feature and how the filmmakers brought "Why We Ride" to life.



Using Apple FCPX for A DocumenTree * Apple FCPX Techniques * Michael Angelo

Using Apple FCPX for A DocumenTree

After 25 years of working on other people's documentaries, commercials, feature films, filmmaker Michael Angelo's first original project is the inspirational story of the Treeman of Venice Beach, a singular creation of a singular man whose combination of costume, body paint, live foliage, and 10-foot stilts is gently beguiling and deeply inspirational. With over 1000 hours of footage in a crazy number of formats over a period of years, collaboration among a far-flung team of

Blackmagic Design Fusion 8 Intro Tutorial: Fusion Reactor * Blackmagic Design Fusion * Simon Ubsdell

Blackmagic Design Fusion 8 Intro Tutorial: Fusion Reactor

Blackmagic Design Fusion has long been known as an incredibly powerful node-based 3D compositing and VFX environment, responsible for some of the most indelible cinematic imagery of our time. Tokyo Productions Creative Director Simon Ubsdell has been a Fusion fan and user for years, and here provides a dramatic introduction to Fusion's interface and toolset, as well as a closer look at the motion graphics prowess in Fusion that you may not have been expecting!

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After 25 years of working on other people's documentaries, commercials and feature films, filmmaker Michael Angelo's first original project is the inspirational story of the Treeman of Venice Beach, a singular creation of a singular man who combines costume, body paint, live foliage, and 10-foot stilts in a beguiling, inspirational way. With over 1000 hours of footage in a crazy number of formats over a period of years, collaboration among a far-flung team of volunteers with varying degrees of expertise (including none at all), A DocumenTree seemed like the ideal project for Michael to jump into Final Cut Pro X. Michael's longtime experience in a variety of disciplines has nevertheless allowed him to come at the issues of media management, metadata, offline-online workflows, and a variety of complex technical issues in some unusual, and, dare we say it, organic ways.

We first came across Michael's story in Creative COW's Apple FCPX Techniques forum, in a spirited thread on the challenges of offline-online documentary workflows with FCPX. We asked him to expand on some of the technical aspects of that conversation, as well as to tell us more about the mysterious Treeman himself. Some of those details will have to wait for the finished film, but this is a remarkable tale for both sides of your brain.





Blackmagic Design Fusion 8 Intro Tutorial: Fusion Reactor
Blackmagic Design Fusion has long been known as an incredibly powerful node-based 3D compositing and VFX environment, responsible for some of the most indelible cinematic imagery of our time. Tokyo Productions Creative Director Simon Ubsdell has been a Fusion fan and user for years, and here provides a dramatic introduction to Fusion's interface and toolset, as well as a closer look at the motion graphics prowess in Fusion that you may not have been expecting!




A Tale of Two Mockingjays: The Hunger Games Epic Finale(s)
Deciding to adapt the Hunger Games finale, Mockingjay, as 2 films opened up remarkable storytelling possibilities for director Francis Lawrence, and editors Alan Bell ACE and Mark Yoshikawa ACE. We spoke with the editors about the technologies, workflows, and collaborative processes that enabled them to so richly explore the nuances of power, pain, and the lifelong toll that war takes even on the victors.


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Blackmagic Design Fusion has long been known as an incredibly powerful node-based 3D compositing and VFX environment, responsible for some of the most indelible cinematic imagery of our time. Tokyo Productions Creative Director Simon Ubsdell has been a Fusion fan and user for years, and here provides a dramatic introduction to Fusion's interface and toolset, as well as a closer look at the motion graphics prowess in Fusion that you may not have been expecting!

And be sure to check out Simon's popular and highly acclaimed tutorials for Apple Motion 5!


A Tale of Two Mockingjays: The Hunger Games Epic Finale(s) * Art of the Edit * Tim Wilson

A Tale of Two Mockingjays: The Hunger Games Epic Finale(s)

Deciding to adapt the Hunger Games finale, Mockingjay, as 2 films opened up remarkable storytelling possibilities for director Francis Lawrence, and editors Alan Bell ACE and Mark Yoshikawa ACE. We spoke with the editors about the technologies, workflows, and collaborative processes that enabled them to so richly explore the nuances of power, pain, and the lifelong toll that war takes even on the victors.

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Deciding to adapt the Hunger Games finale, Mockingjay, as 2 films opened up remarkable storytelling possibilities for director Francis Lawrence, and editors Alan Bell ACE and Mark Yoshikawa ACE. We spoke with the editors about the technologies, workflows, and collaborative processes that enabled them to so richly explore the nuances of power, pain, and the lifelong toll that war takes even on the victors.

We don't mind admitting that we're fans. We're fans of Alan Bell, who has been a longtime member of Creative COW, but we were already fans of the Hunger Games books, and would have been crazy about the movies even if Alan hadn't worked on them. In particular, though, we're fans of the decision to give Suzanne Collin's remarkable novel Mockingjay room to breathe on screen. You might disagree, but you're still not going to want to miss this engaging conversation with a couple of razor-sharp editors who've done some truly remarkable work on the two Mockingjays.

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Deciding to adapt the Hunger Games finale, Mockingjay, as 2 films opened up remarkable storytelling possibilities for director Francis Lawrence, and editors Alan Bell ACE and Mark Yoshikawa ACE. We spoke with the editors about the technologies, workflows, and collaborative processes that enabled them to so richly explore the nuances of power, pain, and the lifelong toll that war takes even on the victors.

We don't mind admitting that we're fans. We're fans of Alan Bell, who has been a longtime member of Creative COW, but we were already fans of the Hunger Games books, and would have been crazy about the movies even if Alan hadn't worked on them. In particular, though, we're fans of the decision to give Suzanne Collin's remarkable novel Mockingjay room to breathe on screen. You might disagree, but you're still not going to want to miss this engaging conversation with a couple of razor-sharp editors who've done some truly remarkable work on the two Mockingjays.



Peter Doyle: Supervising Visual Colourist at Technicolor * TV & Movie Appreciation * FilmLight

Peter Doyle: Supervising Visual Colourist at Technicolor

Peter Doyle, Supervising Visual Colourist at Technicolor, shares details of his upward spiraling career. His deep technical knowledge allows for a perfect blend of creativity and productivity in equal measure. Here he talks about his career, his aspirations, and his involvement in productions right from the outset.

Introducing Ultron: Trixter Builds The Avengers' Biggest Bad * TV & Movie Appreciation * Tim Wilson

Introducing Ultron: Trixter Builds The Avengers' Biggest Bad

At the heart of Marvel's biggest Avengers movie yet lies their greatest threat yet: Ultron, a self-constructing robot intelligence bent on destroying all of humanity. Munich's boutique-scale Trixter Film was given the critical task of introducing this epic-scale character, which they undertook from concept art through design, mocap, animation, compositing, and output.

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Creative COWs are talking about Documentary Editing Workflow

So much of post-production is easier than could ever have been imagined in the days of film and video that it's easy to forget: much of post is harder than could have been imagined not long ago! Multitudinous frame sizes and codecs, soaring shooting ratios, and endless output requirements -- plus a variety of NLEs with some very different approaches to dealing with massive piles of multi-format footage.

Projects like these can easily bog down the most modern systems, so COW members are also asking specifically how they can optimize their workflow and media management to maximize performance.

These hazards can arise from any kind of project with any kind of footage of course, but they're endemic to documentaries. It happens that three different threads along these lines have popped up this week.

One of them may well offer relief for the pains your current projects are giving you -- and hey, you may also have the perfect advice for some of these folks looking for help!


Offline // Online workflow for FCPX obviously extends far beyond documentaries, but that's what Elizabeth Perlman is working on as she wrestles with the best way to manage 10TB of footage -- mostly Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K, but also some drone footage. Edit in Proxy? A flavor of ProRes? What about H.264? What sequence size? What's the best way to set this all up to be passed on to Resolve or Baselight for grading? And what's the best way to handle the masters through all this?

Documentary or not, this thread is a masterclass in the nuances of advanced workflow management for Final Cut Pro X. Read more....


In Best Avid Canon C500/C300 workflow, Mary Haverstick begins by noting that the documentary feature she's working on was mostly shot on a Canon C500, or C300 in 1080p 23.97 Canon XF files. The files are linking up, and she's started light editing and grading, but has some questions before she dives deep. Are there performance advantages to transcoding? Will it impact picture quality? Others on the thread recommend the advantages of consolidation over transcoding, while not ruling out the advantages of transcoding as a final step before grading. Read more....


And in Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?, Mauricio Lleras throws in a couple of wild cards. He has worked with both Media Composer and FCP 7, is ready to think about FCPX -- but most of his footage is a combination of PAL SD shot on both DV and Hi-8, as well as some HDV. Yikes! Folks on the thread explore the potential advantages (or not) of transcoding SD footage, approaches to uprezzing (or not), touch briefly on archiving, and come at the issues of image quality and system performance from a variety of perspectives. Read more...

(And yes, the title graphic is editing pioneer Sergei Eisenstein, a man who knew something about massive piles of footage, photographed in 1927 at work on October.)


A scene from Pixels

Pixels: Going From 8-bits to Epic is No Game

You may have missed this movie in the theater, but here's your chance to catch up on some really, truly stellar VFX work that's pulled off with both wit and finesse, in a family-friendly action comedy.

Classic video game characters like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong sent by aliens to destroy Earth? No worries! Digital Domain and Sony Pictures Imageworks are on the case. It turns out that integrating 8-bit characters into a world recognizable as our own is a lot harder than it looks.

It was also a lot of fun for everyone involved, and hearing about it from the two VFX supervisors will be a lot of fun for you too.
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Lead VFX vendor Atomic Fiction needed a more efficient way to do the compute-intensive, and traditionally very expensive, processes of rendering. The company used the cloud-based software Conductor (http://renderconductor.com), which allows artists to offload the processing from their own computers and send it to the cloud. By the end of the project, Atomic Fiction had completed 9.1 million hours of processing in the cloud, which equates to over a millennium of processing time!


Affordable, Easy LTO Archiving


Affordable, Easy LTO Archiving

It's a simple idea: your stuff is precious, but there's too much of it to easily store. The world of LTO seems expensive and confusing, and straight talk is hard to come by. Well, it happens that Creative COW's Bob Zelin is the master of straight talk, and has had to learn a lot about archiving to help his clients meet their needs. Here's what Bob has found as he looks at the latest and greatest technology and projects for affordable, easy LTO archiving.


BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! HOT THREAD: PC WORKSTATION FOR 8K FILES IN AFTER EFFECTS

There's sometimes a difference between the longest threads at Creative COW, and the ones receiving the most attention from Google and the world at large. Here's a perfect recent example in Creative COW's Adobe After Effects forum: a thread of only moderate length that a lot of people have nevertheless found their way to, Advice needed on PC workstation for 8K files in After Effects.

Multimedia pioneer and longtime Mac loyalist David Lawrence found himself embarking on a stereoscopic, 360 degree, VR project that could benefit from a sizzlecore PC. Creative COW After Effects leader and multi-platform multimedia whiz Walter Soyka offers some suggestions from his own experience using both Macs and HP workstations.

If our traffic to this thread is any indication, this is obviously something that a lot of people are wondering about. Regardless of your own platform of choice, if you're looking for maximum performance on massive files, here's a great place to start. Read more!
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It's a simple idea: your stuff is precious, but there's too much of it to easily store. The world of LTO seems expensive and confusing, and straight talk is hard to come by. Well, it happens that Creative COW's Bob Zelin is the master of straight talk, and has had to learn a lot about archiving to help his clients meet their needs. Here's what Bob has found as he looks at the latest and greatest technology and projects for affordable, easy LTO archiving.



David Boyd, ASC

Behind the Lens: David Boyd ASC & The Walking Dead

As Season 6 of The Walking Dead dawns on AMC, one of TV's true game changers is continuing to raise its own game yet again. Episode 602 in particular, "JSS," stands as a series highlight, with director and TWD fans calling it one of the 20 greatest hours in TV history.

Thanks to the combination of the show's fans and Google, we've seen a spike in traffic to a Creative COW story from a few years ago, an interview with the show's original DP, David Boyd ASC. Before lensing the show's first season and a half, he'd also shot Friday Night Lights, Without A Trace, and every episode of Firefly, among others.

Since our conversation, David's credits have included shooting Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as directing episodes of Sleepy Hollow, Once Upon a Time, 12 Monkeys, and four more episodes of The Walking Dead.

While we've obviously covered a lot of ground since our first conversation, David's insights into shooting in general, and the core aesthetic of The Walking Dead in particular, are every bit as enjoyable as the day we first published it. We think you'll definitely enjoy another look at Behind the Lens: David Boyd ASC & The Walking Dead. Read on...


Tomorrowland -- Building a World Beyond with cineSync *  NEWS: Product News * Whiskytree

Tomorrowland -- Building a World Beyond with cineSync

Earlier this year, Disney brought another of its theme park attractions to the silver screen in Brad Bird's Tomorrowland - a VFX-fuelled adventure that whisks viewers across time, space and alternate dimensions. Computer graphics facility Whiskytree was brought on to the project to create the gleaming cityscape of Tomorrowland itself.

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