Creative Motion Entertainment Demo Reel – Now Available!

We are excited to share our demo reel with you! It’s a short sample of the diverse work we have been blessed to be a part of.  Over the years we have worked on all sorts of different media including:

and more…

We are a boutique media content creation company specializing in delivering a high quality Hollywood style look at a fraction of the cost.  We can help you develop your project, write a script (if necessary), cast it (if on-camera talent is needed), plan the production, film the production and, of course, edit the final production.  Whether you have media you’ve already shot and you don’t know how to finish the project or you need us to help you get started-we would love to work with you and hope you will consider us for all of your video production needs!  To get a project started give us a call at 949-424-5074 or email .


Filmmakers celebrate the world premiere of their feature film documentary HISTORY SPEAKS: DIARY OF A GENERATION at the Covellite International Film Festival.

Filmmakers celebrate the world premiere of their feature film documentary HISTORY SPEAKS: DIARY OF A GENERATION at the Covellite International Film Festival.

I recently had the privilege of attending an AVID seminar while I was at the Covellite International Film Festival in Butte, Montana.  I was attending the festival as a guest of the producers for the documentary feature HISTORY SPEAKS: DIARY OF A GENERATION, which I served as finishing Editor on.  As an editor I have worked on all kinds of different projects and systems.  However, I haven’t worked on an AVID since the early 2000’s.  Mainly because I simply didn’t have the need to work on an AVID.  My work was mainly on Final Cut Pro 7 and now mainly on Final Cut Pro X and sometimes Adobe Premiere Pro CC.  But I was curious why AVID would be in attendance at such a boutique style festival? What did they have to say? And, is it an NLE I should give more consideration to? And here was my big takeaway…. AVID still matters.

For years I viewed AVID as an old school NLE that was serving an elite breed of editors who simply didn’t seem to get or care that there were other NLE options.  I also viewed the majority of their technology as not moving forward in terms of innovation.  But AVID is still AVID and in the higher end of the entertainment industry it is still widely used, preferred, and respected.

The Basics
The AVID seminar leader, Brian, was fantastic at taking us through the basic workflow of the system.  One thing I was reminded of right away was that AVID is a system for media content creators and filmmakers that know what they are doing.  Like it or not (and, I am not a big fan of it), Final Cut Pro X has adopted a lot of it’s basic naming of workflow items (Events, Libraries, Etc.) from it’s more inviting consumer/prosumer concepts – the idea that everyone can be a filmmaker.  And, perhaps, to some degree that’s true.  But for those of us who know why Bins were named Bins in the first place you immediately find yourself having a great amount of respect for AVID simply for it’s nod to the history of filmmaking.  That being said, I don’t think the average consumer who wants to make better home movies should or would consider AVID nor do I feel that beginning or in-experienced filmmakers will benefit from jumping into the pool with AVID.  Most of these young filmmakers will find themselves feeling quite comfortable with the basics of editing switching from, dare I say it, iMovie and then moving into Final Cut Pro X (which I believe is exactly why Apple did what they did when they re-designed Final Cut, but I digress).

So who is AVID for? Simply put, I believe AVID is for serious media content creators and filmmakers that are looking for an NLE with a history of delivering a consistent experience regardless of the change in image capture technology.  I say that because after I attended the seminar I went home and downloaded the free trial of AVID (download trial here) and although some of the workflow had changed (keep in mind, I hadn’t worked with AVID since I was digitizing from BetaSP) I was stunned to find that it was very similar to the AVID I had worked with so many years ago on the feature film FINDING HOME.  Now that I found very comforting.

The consistency of the AVID interface and the stability of the overall system got me thinking… have I been ignoring this incredible NLE for no good reason? The short answer is yes.  I had dismissed AVID as an old school way of doing things.  But the truth is there is comfort in that consistency and for the first time I finally realized why so many editors love their AVIDs (especially ones for television and studio films).  So onto the experience and the results…

At the end of the day whether you edit on AVID, Final Cut, Premiere, or any of them you do essentially the same work.  You ingest media, you select your best takes and edit them into a cohesive, engaging and entertaining story, you add music, titles, fx, you mix the sound, finalize your color and then you output your final product.  I had a couple of observations along the way with regard to this.  First, since I generally work in Final Cut I tend to use the Apple ProRes codecs for transcoding.  With AVID you have the option to use their AVID DNX HD and HR codecs.  I loved the look of these transcoded clips.  I feel like the AVID DNX codec has a very filmic creamy quality that is really pleasing to look at and stable to work with.  I was also happy that, since I also use Premiere, I could easily take this work into the Adobe world if I preferred (so I may be using the AVID DNX codec on my premiere project moving forward).

The other thing that really stood out to me was the stability of AVID.  Now for this test I was doing a very basic edit but the overall stability of the system was fantastic and consistent as I added effects and titles.  The other thing I really enjoyed was the titler and exploring some of the effects.  I’ve always felt that both AVID and Adobe have their titlers right.  It’s a very intuitive way of working and very design friendly.

There’s only one drawback that I can think of to switching to AVID and that is the price point.  With Final Cut Pro X being available to purchase for $299, Davinci Resolve Studio $299, and Adobe Premiere Pro CC a mere $20 per month for a single application subscription through Creative Cloud, it’s hard to justify a tool set that is $50/month for an annual subscription or to purchase a perpetual license for $1299.  Still, it’s tempting.  And here’s why….

Being Tempted to Buy In…
Although the price point for AVID is much higher than it’s competitors there’s one thing that AVID has over all the other NLE’s.  You never have to justify your choice to edit on an AVID with a client.  And it always sounds impressive.  Although I love the work I’ve done in Final Cut Pro X, and I’ve edited everything from features to promos to infomericals and more on that NLE, I have had times where I have had to prove to clients that it is a professional NLE and that we are long past the negative talk surrounding the initial release.  So, it is true that Final Cut Pro X is a powerful system but so is AVID and AVID has the track record to prove it.

So, am I going to jump ship over to AVID? Not right now.  But I’m glad I know it’s there and I take comfort in the fact that it’ll be there when or if I need it and that AVID will not simply stop developing or upgrading this tool just because they want to (like APPLE did with Final Cut Pro 7).  There’s a lot to be grateful for to AVID because it really set the stage for the technology of all NLE’s to soar.


My favorite author on digital cinema is Kurt Lancaster ( and he recently released the book RAW CINEMA.  This book really delves into the differences of shooting raw video versus shooting compressed video.  It also delves into a subject that I think is somewhat controversial – 4k.  I just finished a blog post on 4k which may bring some insight into the technology but to keep it simple, 4k is 4 times the resolution of HD.  It has been an acquisition format for several years but now we are seeing more companies releasing 4k products including consumer televisions.  I’m not sure whether or not it will take off for consumers but it’s exciting to see the technology develop so fast. The reason I bring it up is that there are many film professionals who feel that resolutions such as 4k (and now even 5k and some Japanese companies are doing tests on 8k) are not as important as dynamic range – which brings us back to Raw Cinema.  Raw essentially means that you are seeing what was actually recorded by the camera’s sensor versus viewing the compressed recording we see with most camera codecs.  Kurt Lancaster describes it as a digital negative.  If you’ve ever shot raw photos with your stills camera then you are familiar with how dynamic, beautiful, and challenging shooting, color grading, and outputting raw media can be.  However, I’m not convinced it’s something that is appropriate for every project but like all media production it holds a very important place in the production world and the future of content creation.



4k-byCMEI remember attending a screening in Silverlake, California, years ago and seeing one of the first feature films shot on HD.  It looked… okay.  Digital cinema had not yet come of age but it was clear that it was coming soon.  With all of the recent discussion about 4k and the validity of 4k I started thinking about those days.  To me, what always seemed to be the goal, was to create a digital image using a digital camera that actually looked like film.  This was especially important for lower budget and independent filmmakers who had always been plagued by that “video look”.

The video look meant that, somehow, your film was cheaper and only meant to be taken seriously to a point.  HD continued to get better but still lacked a cinematic quality on the cameras.  Until the Red camera and DSLR filmmaking came along to save the day (although I’m sure Kodak would not see it that way-we’ll always have a place of respect for film…).

No doubt the Red Camera changed everything.  With the intense focus currently placed on the Arri Alexa as the “go to” camera for most television/film production we sometimes forget to thank the fine people at Red for changing the way we captured images.  As sensors got better and, now that we had a true depth of field, we suddenly saw even the little films starting to have a true cinematic quality (of course, 24p helped all of this as well).

Which brings us to now.  With only a handful of purists holding onto shooting film, digital cinema has truly matured.  It’s certainly not in it’s infancy, it’s past it’s awkward teenage years, and has hit what feel’s like it’s 20’s-yep the time where you leave mom and dad, party a little bit, and then learn what the real world is all about.  Okay, enough of that rant…

So, back to 4k.  I think pretty much everyone in the production world is on the same page that acquiring in 4k is helpful and basically by achieving that we’ve hit that mark of truly creating digital film (since film is essentially 4k).  Although I still am not on the 4k train (yet) I do think it seems excellent to acquire images in.  Especially for projecting or down-converting to 1080p.

However, my question is this.  If the goal was to get digital to replace film, and we’ve essentially achieved that, what is the point of going beyond this space? Now I am all for better images, better codecs, more dynamic range, etc.-especially at a cheaper price.  But at what point does this just get out of hand? And what’s the point? It creates a lot of challenges not just for the content creator but also for the consumer.

After all, I’ve listened to more podcasts then I care to mention asking how many people can actually tell the difference between 1080p, 4k, etc.? Now, if you’re in a movie theatre, maybe… But at home, most people can’t tell the difference.

There is no doubt that it is an exciting time to be a filmmaker/content creator but it does get complicated when deciding what to purchase, when, and the big question of whether or not I really need something?  And I think it’s fair to say this from both the consumer and professional side.  There is no doubt that we will see more 4k and beyond items but I am still not convinced that the end-user consumer really cares.

A lot of people compare HD and 4K as a big jump for consumers.  But I still feel it is not as huge a jump as it was to go from VHS to DVD as a consumer delivery format.  When this happened you could really see the difference-not to mention films were finally released in a widescreen format showing their true glory.  Comparatively some people cannot see the difference between DVD and BLURAY, especially with how well some BLURAY players up-convert the image.

Again, if the goal was a 4K film look and we’ve achieved that then I think we’re getting to a place where we have to ask ourselves the real question-what is the content? And is the technology helping me to tell the story better or am I getting lost in shooting pretty images that ultimately have no meaning? I think it’s important that we push ourselves as filmmakers to tell a great story and move the audience emotionally and stop focusing so much on our gear.  Of course, I love the tech and the tools but it’s a great reminder to consider what seemed to be the original goal of the digital filmmaking shift.

I will say this-the good thing is that at this point, as content creators, we have reached a place where the technology is so great we really can’t go wrong-we’ve got the tools.  Which is really cool because now we can tell stories and not have the audience get distracted by some “video look”.

The Truth About Final Cut Pro X and Final Cut Pro 7

After following the hype, the backlash, and the general confusion that happened after Apple, Inc. released Final Cut Pro X, I finally took the leap and purchased the application.  I’ve been using it now for a few months on professional projects and I have a lot of observations and some general comments about the future of the application as well as the validity of Legacy Final Cut Pro 7 (also referred to as Final Cut Studio 3).

At this point we’ve all heard the same old arguments about what FCPX does not have so I’ll do my best to limit those types of comments as best I can.  However, I did want to mention that I have noticed a growing number of people complaining about certain lack of FCPX functionality when, in actuality, FCPX can do those things it’s just that it does it differently than FCP7.  I think the important observation on this is that we all need to be sure to do our research, watch tutorials or read instructional books like Larry Jordan’s Making the Transition to Final Cut Pro X.  These will definitely bring clarity to some of the questions that seem to float out their about general functionality and editorial processes in FCPX.

The other thing I want to mention, and Larry Jordan (yes, I’m a fan!) has made it a point to clarify this.  There has been a lot of debate as to whether or not Final Cut Pro X is a professional NLE.  In my opinion, if you are using it for professional uses (i.e. you are earning money creating media with it) then it is professional.  It’s not just about the tools, it’s about what you can do with the tools.  However, I also feel this comes with a very large caveat-the types of projects you are working on.  Which brings me to my point.

I can see myself using both Final Cut Pro X and Final Cut Pro 7 consistently for different reasons and different projects.  Also, using third party programs like 7 to X by Intelligent Assistance ( has enabled me to use Final Cut Pro X as a finishing program (i.e. color correction, effects, etc.)

So, let me start by mentioning where Final Cut Pro X shines as a stand-alone NLE.  I think this is an excellent program to edit anything that is going to end up on the web, especially short promos, commercials, music videos, etc.  I also think it is an excellent tool in dealing with multi-camera shoots and, especially, documentaries that have a massive amount of footage.  The meta data tagging in FCP X is powerful and extremely useful for these types of projects.

Once you get past the strangeness of the interface and embrace the differences, you can actually cut pretty fast in FCP X.  Now, can you cut faster than in FCP7? I would say that the short answer is yes, especially once you get into the workflow.  And, of course, the background rendering is awesome.  Although, to me, there’s a little ‘gotcha’ with the background rendering.  I have had times where it slowed down my system when I was dealing with a complicated project (timeline) and ended up having to wait for the render to happen just so the system wouldn’t hiccup.  I will say, in defense of FCP X, I could probably use a better graphics card and more RAM in my Mac Pro which would definitely take care of this issue.

Back to our discussion… here is where I think FCP7 still shines.  Editing feature or broadcast projects that may be complicated and may involve multiple post-production facilities and staff in the pipeline.  FCPX is simply not suited for this type of environment.  If you are a standalone shop or simply collaborating with another editor who is also on FCPX then you’re fine.  But once you get into having to talk with other people, other systems, I think FCP7 is a much better answer.  Some editors even feel that FCP7 is still a better system than Adobe Premiere Pro, even as it advances (although I think this will change shortly, especially with the impending Adobe updates).

Although FCPX can export an XML file, and this works in conjunction with a slew of third party products, including DaVinci Resolve, I feel that the lack of export options including OMF and even EDL limit FCPX playing nicely with other programs and therefore limits the collaborative process that is involved with larger feature film and broadcast productions.  I also want to mention that I miss the ability to export to Soundtrack Pro, part of the Final Cut Studio suite.  Although they have included the majority of plug-ins that are in Logic in FCPX, and the effects are similar to how they worked in Soundtrack Pro, I still miss the type of audio workflow you find in a Digital Audio Workstation like that-especially use of the master fader as well as buses.

I also feel, and many people have mentioned this, that the re-linking in FCPX is not nearly as intuitive or powerful as it was in FCP7.  Hopefully this will be attended to in future FCPX updates.

For me, one of the things that is still annoying about FCPX is the idea of calling your ‘projects’ ‘events’ and calling ‘timelines’ projects’.  Most professionals don’t refer to their projects by shoot date or event name, it’s usually by client or project name.  I know this event workflow is in line with Apple’s general methodology and they seem to be attempting to streamline the look of their software across the board.  But at the end of the day, I just find it to be a little strange, although I am willing to get on board with it to continue to use the powerful features in FCPX.

The truth is… I will be using both Final Cut Pro X and Final Cut Pro 7 (as well as the other programs in Final Cut Studio 3) for different projects and purposes-at least for the foreseeable future.  And I think I’m not alone in that methodology.  Will Final Cut Pro X ever be so great that I could abandon FCP7? Only time will tell.  In the meantime, let’s hope that the continuous upgrades of OSX don’t preclude me from using both.

How to Shoot Better Family Videos with your SmartPhone

If you want to shoot better videos of the family with your iPhone or smart phone, employing these few simple tips can make all the difference.

1. Go Horizontal-I see so many people shooting video with their iPhones or smart phones and they are holding the phone in the standard vertical state (the way you would normally talk into a phone). By turning the phone so that you are capturing a wide image (and not a tall image), you are actually capturing a more proper and professional looking image-movies and tv shows are not tall images, they are wide for a reason. Since many phones are shooting in HD at 720p or 1080p you are then really getting the benefit of the look of these images.

2. Use Both Hands-Hold your phone with both hands. This will give you more stability in the shot.

3. Record Early-Start filming your subject(s) before the moment you are actually trying to capture-this will give you what professional video makers call “handles” and can give you some breathing room when editing. Sometimes, you don’t get a choice, you’re just trying to grab the footage you can as it’s happening, but if you have the choice, give yourself that extra second.

4. Move when you need to-Only move the camera or pan when you need to. And, if you do move, pan or tilt as slow and smooth as you can.

5. Edit-Once you have your footage, transfer it to your computer and edit out “the fat”. No one needs to see the 30 seconds it took to see little Suzy get ready to do her dance for the family. Don’t be afraid to keep it brief-less is almost always more.

Hope this helps you to capture more high end video that you and your family can enjoy for years to come.

Top 5 Things To Remember When Producing a Company Promotional Video for the Web

One of the most exciting things that web distribution/delivery has brought to video production is the ability for anybody to produce their own videos and distribute them in a way that pretty much anyone can see them.  The problem is that not everyone is a media producer and not everyone knows what or how to show their subject in the most flattering, entertaining, and commercial manner.  Here are my top 5 keys in preparing to create a web based promotional video.

1. Know your audience.  This is applicable to any kind of marketing or branding of any business or service but ultimately know who the customers are that you want to go after.  If you have a product or service that is geared toward families, for example, you probably want to focus on creating a video that will be emotionally moving at a family level.  Ultimately emotion sells-if you can get people to feel something, no matter the audience, they’ll remember you.

2. Know your brand.  No one is going to go looking for Pepsi in the milk aisle at the store and vice versa.  Know what you’re selling, what’s great about it, and, most importantly, how it will help make people’s lives better.  I think that’s an important distinction because the most effective advertising is when I see a product and go “hey, that will help me do X”.

3. Hire a professional.  Okay, this generally goes without saying but if you want a video that is of a professional quality then hire a company or individual who knows what they are doing.  And, I think this is important, don’t be dazzled by a production company that is pushing their equipment list-take a look at what they stand for.  Call them and find out if you can get a free consultation and maybe discuss some ideas.  See what they bring to the table.  Oh, and beware… sure, you could hire the kid in the basement but will he or she understand the true nature of storytelling or will they just give you a pretty looking video with a bunch of flashy graphics? Be careful and choose who is right for you.

4. Plan, Prepare, Produce.  I like to call these the 3 P’s of producing any project.  Planning means knowing exactly what you want before the cameras roll.  Write a script or make sure the professional you hired writes.  Collaborate with your video producer as much as needed to get the script and concept exactly the way you want it on paper before you show up on set. You’ll save everyone a lot of time and yourself unwanted expense.  Prepare means that your video producer has scheduled the right talent, enough time, and the proper locations to truly get the job done.  Produce means to get out there with the production team and capture on camera what you had on the page.  But be open to on-set inspiration.  The producing portion will move into your video video edit where you will make all of your final creative decisions from image cuts, to titles, to text, animation, music, sound mix, etc.

5. Distribute.  Now that your video is complete you need to get it out there.  Make sure that your video producer delivers to you a hi-resolution master version (usually some kind of uncompressed or AppleProRes file) as well as several different web versions for upload to YouTube, Vimeo, your company website, and any other video services you will be uploading to.  Next, make sure you tag the video with the right keywords so that it is as searchable on the web as possible and helps drive traffic to your website and, ultimately, generate business.  And finally, post your video at least once a month on your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts so that your friends and colleagues can see it and be reminded of just how much they need your service or product.

Begin with the End

When preparing a project it’s important to start with the end in mind.  Beginning with the end in mind is not a new concept and anyone who has studied any kind of business motivation like “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” or “Think and Grow Rich” knows that the concept is not only a great slogan it’s an important philosophy in any business or endeavor.  So, in media production, what do we mean by “begin with the end in mind”?  Especially when the end could mean so many different things.  It could mean the end user, in other words your audience.  It could mean your budgetary goals.  It could mean a creative goal or objective like producing a story that’s been dancing around in your heart for a long time.  It could also mean a completion date.  Or, any combination of these.

I believe that when dealing with media projects it’s important to focus on the objective of the client and the project.  Some projects are designed to entertain, some are designed to educate, some do both, while others are designed to get a point of view across.  Whatever the project, get clear about what you want to achieve.  Then create a plan for it’s achievement.

For those of you who don’t know, production planning, generally referred to as pre-production, includes writing the script, budgeting the project, meeting with key crew and cast members, location scouting, and the ever important scheduling of the project-not to mention any tests or other preliminary items that need to be in place before production begins.  Once you have gone through the process a few times you start to get quick at knowing what it will take to achieve certain production goals.  Some projects require more, some less, but all should have a proper amount of preparation.  In fact, adding a little extra time to your schedule where applicable can give you necessary creative breathing room and save you when the unexpected happens.  Don’t over-plan your shoot days-it’s amazing how difficult it is to get that first shot ‘in the can’ when you scheduled it-especially if it’s a small or new crew of people you are working with.

But depending on the production and what the end result you’re looking for is, you sometimes just have to learn to roll with the punches.  If you’re doing event shooting or an interview with limited time, preparation can be your ally that will give you the foundation you need to deliver the goods to the client.  If it’s a narrative, I think it’s important to go in with a clear concept of what you want to achieve but also be open to creative inspiration.  If you are a director who does a shot list and sticks only to that, you may be missing some incredible opportunities to capture images and moments that could make the difference between your piece being great and being unforgettable.

The bottom line to me is to plan, implement, review, be open, let go, and play.  After all, we are storytellers and creative professionals who do this because we are inspired to do it.  So don’t rush the preparation, build yourself a solid foundation, know where you want to go and what you want to achieve.  And endeavor to create something spectacular!

Rest in Peace, Film

According to the October issue of HDVideoPro magazine (one of my favorites) film is dead.  Recently, some of the biggest blockbuster films, including the newest Bond film, SKYFALL, Peter Jackson’s THE HOBBIT as well as the AMAZING SPIDERMAN have been shot digitally.  Using either the RED camera or the ARRI Alexa has become the standard for shooting many feature films and television shows.  It simply looks like it’s time to accept that digital age has taken over.  And I say… bring it on!

However, for the sake of honoring that which began moviemaking, here are a few things that I have experienced in my journey that will be missed, remembered fondly, or deserve acknowledgement.

When I was mainly working as an actor, I remember one of my favorite high pressure moments came when the director would yell ‘action’.  I always feel this surge of energy when that word is called out.  But it often started when the AD would yell ‘roll sound” then ‘roll camera’.  Hearing the film speed through the sprockets at 24fps added such a finality to the moment, simply knowing that it was already capturing images before the action began.  There’s such a finality to film, in the sense that is an organic piece of matter that is actually being exposed.  It’s not a digital file that can be transferred or deleted easily.  It actually had to be exposed to capture the image-and it had to be exposed properly.

To continue on the acting experience side of my work, I will also miss the moment of ‘check the gate!’ There was always such pressure and excitement around that moment.  I remember years ago one of my favorite acting teachers, Amy Lyndon, told a story of her shooting a very dramatic scene on a film.  She had a large monologue and nailed it on the first take (tears and all).  The director yelled “check the gate” and, low and behold, there was a hair in the gate.  She had to do it again.  Pulling from her stellar technique and years of experience she was able to do it once more and this time all was in the clear.  But there was always something so exciting about the checking of the gate-it added such a finality to the moment, raised the stakes of the process, and made you feel like you were a part of something big.

I remember when I first started working behind the camera, mainly in post production but I also found myself shooting a lot of Mini-DV, as I had the hit camera of the time, the Sony VX1000.  My wife (then girlfriend) was attending film school at Loyola Marymount University and I became fascinated by everything she was doing (truth be told, I always loved moviemaking-since I was a kid).  I helped her on her Super 8 films (which she edited without any magnification on an old splicer!).  I also attended her sessions in the flatbed edit bay where she worked tirelessly putting together an edit of the old TV series GUNSMOKE for an assignment.  I loved being around the film, seeing it, feeling it, it was like creativity in organic form.

Later, I worked as an Associate Editor on a beautiful film called FINDING HOME.  It was shot on Super 35mm and it was quite the experience.  Because we were on a 30 frame AVID system we had this terrible process, that some may remember, called matchback-where the system creates Edit Decision Lists for the Negative Cutter and conforms the 30fps video to 24fps film (and the negative cutter is another casualty of the digital age-an entire job that will soon be nonexistent).  What I loved, though, is that this is really where I learned the importance of a single frame.  Rather than allowing the program to decide what frames to drop, in order to keep the sound in sync, the Director and I chose the frames.  It was exhausting but worth it to really learn how much a single frame matters.

On FINDING HOME I also had the pleasure of cutting actual film for my first and only time.  I learned a lot in the process.  We had a tremendous amount of obstacles on the film and, in order to make sure everything was in sync, we opted to start printing film and cutting in the film opticals for the sound mix-yep they actually projected the film reels to do the final audio mix.

Some other things I’ll miss about actually dealing with film have sort of been transferred over to the digital world.  Although I never worked as a Camera Assistant, I always had such respect for the changing of the magazine.  I found that entire process to have such pressure.  And the limitations of time on the magazine also added some pressure.  I sort of feel like this is similar to changing your memory card, although not nearly as time consuming.  I will say there is some pressure with the data transfer as well-once you wipe the card, that’s it.

There’s so much I could write about film but I think it’s important that, as media creators, filmmakers, storytellers, we remember that this is where it all started.  Film will continue to be the aesthetic that we try to mimic in the digital age.  And, although images will continue to get clearer (4k to 8k and beyond) what really matters is what we capture, what we are trying to tell.  It’s all part of the process of telling the story and making the audience feel something-and regardless of technology, that is what really matters.

Why What Camera You Use Doesn’t Matter

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about different cameras and I find it very interesting the amount of attention that all of the technical specs receive.  It’s funny to me that there seems to be a (sometimes) venomous argument on the net about full frame vs. cropped frame, pixels, 4:2:2 vs. 4:2:0 vs. 4:4:4.  From a technical standpoint, it all matters.  It matters because you have to keep in mind what you’re deliverable requirements are.  However, for most independent shops (like myself) I really think it comes down to one thing-does the image I am capturing look good or not?

I have been shooting with what I like to call Cinema DSLR for a little over a year now and I am loving it.  Would I love to own a Red camera or an ARRI Alexa? Sure! But the truth is, for the amount of money you are looking at investing, you had better have some big productions lined up.

And let’s be real-most of us are shooting content that is either going to end up on the web or, at best, will end up in some kind of limited distribution (of course, we’re all working towards bigger:)  So what does that mean for image size and quality? Ultimately, again, you can talk pixels and color space all you want but your eyes don’t lie (of course, this might be argued by engineers who will always point to the type of monitor you watch something on-is it calibrated or not, etc.).  Here’s the thing.  At the end of the day most of us are going to be creating content that will end up being either 1920×1080 or 1280×720.  Even features are ending up in the HDCAM SR world of 1080i60.  So, even if you shot 4k, you’re ending up at 1920×1080.  Of course, it goes without saying that if you’re shooting at 2.5k like the Black Magic Cinema Camera (which shoots at a RAW size of 2432×1366) and you end up with a master output of 1920×1080, it’s going to look better than something that was shot at 1920×1080 and ending up at that same ratio.

I think Philip Bloom really has it right in his observations of the Black Magic Cinema Camera (which, by the way, if you can’t tell, I am very excited about).  Are there some limitations with this camera? Sure.  Is this camera right for every shooting situation? Probably not.  And that’s where I get to the point that I really feel is the revelation in all of this.  No camera is right for every shooting situation, especially if you are running a shop that is doing everything from promotional videos, to events, to narrative stories.

Some of the “aha moment” for me happened as I started to research Cannon’s 1d C, which is another really exciting camera (although, for the price, maybe not so much).  But the fact that this very compact camera is going to shoot 4k is incredible (and, on-board nonetheless, so no external recorder necessary, unless you want to record proxy files).  This simply shows where we’re going with this technology.  And I think it’s exciting!

Now there are many who love to shoot with a camera like the Sony PMW100 but I am not one of them.  True, the camera captures beautiful broadcast quality images in a 4:2:2 color space.  But, for me, it just feels too much like old school betacam production video and I don’t find it as exciting to shoot with as the DSLR’s or other cameras that are coming out.

But again, it doesn’t matter.  To me, what matters is what do you want to capture? What do you want it to look and feel like? Follow your instincts, trust your heart, look through the lens, and shoot what matters.  Tell the story, don’t get lost in the tech specs.