Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tarazod Increased Production in 2011

When 2011 began, it'd been two years since we'd made a movie. We'd certainly worked on other projects, a couple of films with the Wisconsin Film School and numerous commercial endeavors for WYOU Community Television and others. And then there was the continued promotion of our Mad City Chickens documentary. Yet Tarazod itself hadn't produced anything since Chickens. The truth is, we just needed a break. The film, particularly the post-production, took a toll on us. It was a long intense process that lasted right up to and even past the imprinting of the first 1000 DVDs in the spring of 2009.

By the start of 2011, however, our creative wheels were beginning to turn again, and several story ideas were in development. Before production could begin, though, a badly needed upgrade to our equipment was in order. As we looked to raise funds for a new camera and computer, the ideas continued to flow. One of the goals we set for ourselves was to attempt projects that would stretch us beyond what we already knew in regards to filmmaking.

The first project we shot was back in late February and early March. We traveled to Orlando to interview a family that had moved there from Seattle for the express purpose of using Walt Disney World as a way of helping their autistic boy open up. The raw footage for this documentary had been sitting most of the year on hard drives, waiting for the upgrade to our editing station. Post-production has begun, but we need to return to Florida to shoot more footage before the project can move forward.

The second and most ambitious project of 2011 was Strindberg's Assistant. A narrative set both in 1910 Stockholm and modern day America, it would challenge us on many levels, not the least of which was locating sets and costumes for the period scenes. Hard work, but what fun it was! Post-production is underway on this as well, however we don't anticipate a completion date for some time.

The third film, a Tarazod collaboration with Exchange Productions, was a narrative short with the working title the Requiem Ride [later to be re-named Beast Bike Beauty]. The rough edit was completed not long ago, but it's on the back burner until later next year.

Plenty more ideas are flowing, some in the outline stage, others not yet down on paper. But we're indeed excited about our production prospects for 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Snow White at the Carthay Circle

All of Hollywood's brass turned out for a cartoon--Walt Disney.

As some of our followers know, we're big fans of early animation. Robert, in particular, is a huge enthusiast when it comes to Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. So much so, in fact, that he writes an entirely separate blog dedicated to this Golden Age classic. The following is an except from the one of his posts.


It was 74 years ago this very day that Snow White made its world premiere at the 1500 seat Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. It was cold outside, but an electricity was in the air. Grand stands set up across the street were packed with fans while dozens of Hollywood's brightest stars joined the sold out audience inside--which included a select number of the film's storymen, artists and animators.

Charlie Chaplin--who assisted the Disney brothers in setting the distribution price tag for this their first feature film--sent a wire to Walt earlier in the day. It read as follows: I am convinced all our fondest hopes will be realized tonight.

When Walt arrived at the theater, he was asked on national radio by interviewer Buddy Twist if he was going to watch the movie himself. He responded, Yes, and have my wife hold my hand.

Yet, once the film started, it was clear that this would be no ordinary screening, and Walt Disney need not fear the audience's reaction...

I believe everyone in that first Snow White audience could have predicted the enormous success of the film. They were carried away by the picture from the very beginning, and as it went along everyone was bubbling over with enthusiasm and frequently bursting into spontaneous applause. [1] Animator Bill Peet

The audience was so taken by the magic of what they had seen that they applauded after individual sequences, just as though they were watching a stage play. I've never seen anything quite like it since. [2]  Animator Wolfgang (Woolie) Reitherman

They even applauded the backgrounds and layouts when no animation was on the screen.[3a]  I was sitting near John Barrymore when the shot of the queen's castle above the mist came on, with the queen poling across the marsh in a little boat. He was bouncing up and down in his seat, he was so excited.[3b] Art Director Ken O'Connor

It was the most receptive, enthusiastic audience I have ever seen. Every song, every gag, every good piece of acting worked on those people like a bow on a fiddle. There was almost continuous laughter and applause until Frank Thomas' sequence, where the sorrowing dwarfs gather around Snow White's bier. The house fell silent, gripped by the emotional impact of the acting.[4] Animator Shamus Culhane 

As I look back on it, we knew where they were going to laugh from experience, but we weren't prepared for the crying and sniffing in the audience. That was the thing I started hearing. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were sitting close, and when Snow White was poisoned, stretched out on that slab, they started blowing their noses. I could hear it--crying--that was the big surprise.[5] Animator Ward Kimball


The premiere of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as seen in the extras from the film's 2001 DVD release...

Video posted by fireurgunz


If you want more of Disney's first feature film, visit Filmic Light: A Snow White Archive.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wish List: Apple Boxes

Essential to any grip arsenal is a set of Apple Boxes. Wooden boxes of varying sizes, they are one of the most useful pieces of equipment on set.
Apple Boxes are used for anything that needs to be propped up or supported temporarily. They can be used to prop up furniture and light stands, for leveling camera dolly track, or to provide temporary seats, workbenches, or stepladders.

Often the need arises to make an actor appear taller, either because of their height, or to fit with the composition of a particular shot. In this use Apple Boxes are jokingly referred to as "Man Makers". Source: Wikipedia

Set of four Apple Boxes (differing sizes). Price: $100-$130.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wish List: Follow-Focus/Rods

The possibilities for pulling focus with a DSLR camera is super. The follow focus from Zacuto, the Flippable Z-Focus. Price: $1075-$1600.

It attaches to a set of rods on the Zacuto Mini Baseplate. Price: $430.

Videos on the Z-Focus...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wish List: Jib

The Kessler Crane Pocket Jib (Price: $1200) is just one of several fine jibs on the market.

Pocket Jib info videos and test footage...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wish List: Handheld Camera Stabilizer

First introduced back in 1976, the Steadicam has become the most well-known camera stabilizing mount in the biz, but it's also quite costly. Like anything, it takes plenty of practice to master its use.

Steadicam image via Wikimedia Commons.

Here's a look at the Hague DSLR Motion Cam Stabilizer designed for DSLR cameras. Price: £155.00+ ($244+ USD).

More info at cameragrip.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wish List: Dolly Cart/Tripod Wheels/Track

Matthews Roundy Round Doorway Dolly. Price: $2450.

Available from Barn Door Lighting Outfitters and others.


The Digital Juice Orbit Dolly. Price: $1500+


The Kessler Crane K-Flex Dolly Track (50' roll). Price: $290.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wish List: C-Stand/Flags and More

A C-stand with a small array of flags, diffusers, and cookies would add to the depth of our lighting setups. We looked at a series of C-stand videos in an earlier post. Manufacturers include Norms Studio, American Grip, Avenger, Matthews, and others.

Norms C-Stand, black 40" double riser with grip head and arm. Price: $228

Here's an old thread about C-stands on the DVXuser forum. It's from back in 2007, but info on C-stands doesn't change very often.


Flags and diffusers...

The following video on flags comes from the Lights Film School...

A few of the online sellers that offer flag kits include PJ Gaffers, Cinema Gadgets, and Barn Door Lighting Outfitters.



Also read about gobos.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wish List: Green Screen

As far as green screen shoots go, we're currently limited to using permanent locations like the studio at WYOU Community Television in Madison. But a portable green screen system would add a lot of flexibility.

There are plenty of options available for green screen setups. Here's a look at one...

Tube Tape's Green Screen and Stand (10' x 20'). Price: $190+

B&H article on green screen.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wish List: Additional Audio Components

We have a filmmaker friend, Nicholas Wooton of Spilling Latte Films, who has the Sennheiser ME66 shotgun microphone and a Rode boom pole. He's a generous individual and has lent us his audio equipment on a number of shoots. Yet, there are times when borrowing isn't convenient. We do own an Audio-Technica shotgun, but it doesn't capture the same quality as the Sennheiser. So at some point, it will be advantageous for us to get our own ME66 along with a quality boom.


Sennheiser ME66 - Super-Cardioid Short Shotgun Condenser Microphone Capsule with the K6 powering module.
Price: $500


When capturing audio indoors, a small diaphragm (or pencil) condenser mic may work better than a shotgun. There's an excellent article at B&H on alternative boom microphones for indoor use.
One of the byproducts of [a shotgun used indoors] is an increased sensitivity to echoes and reflections from the surrounding walls, floor, and ceiling. These reflections create an overall unnatural sound on playback. The pick-up pattern on a small diaphragm microphone is less affected by these reflections.
Sennheiser ME64 - Cardioid Condenser Microphone Capsule. This mic also works with the K6 powering module shown above so need to buy two.
Price: $170


There are plenty of boom poles on the market. Here's the B&H guide to choosing one.

K-Tek K102 Klassic Series Boompole. Lightweight graphite construction. Not corded. Five telescoping sections extend from 2.2' to 8.9'.
Price: $414


The B&H article on shock mounts.

Audio-Technica AT8410A shock mount. Spring loaded.
Price: $49


Wind protection B&H article.

Rode Blimp - Complete Windshield and Suspension System. Includes blimp, shock mount pistol grip, and dead wombat windshield.
Price: $300


Here's overview video from B&H on basic audio equipment for video.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wish List: Additional Lavalier Mics

We own just one wireless lavalier mic. A big inconvenience it is...particularly when we're shooting multiple actors. A couple more lavs are a must! This is what were looking at: Sennheiser EW112-p G3 Wireless Microphone System with ME2 Lavalier Mic.

Product Highlights:
-A / 516 - 558 MHz Frequency
-EK100 G3 Portable UHF Receiver
-SK100 G3 Bodypack Transmitter
-ME2 Omni Lavalier
-42 MHz Bandwidth
-680 Tunable UHF Frequencies
-12 Compatible Frequencies Per Bank

$600 each at B&H. We want two!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wish List: New Tripod

After six years and some occasional rough use, our tripod (which originally cost us around $300 incl. fluid head) has seen better days. We'd like to bump the quality of our sticks and head up by several notches. Here's one possibility...the Vinten V5AS-AP1M Vision Pozi-Loc Aluminum Tripod System.

-Vision 5AS Fluid Head
-Single Stage Aluminum Tripod
-Mid-Level Spreader
-Soft Case
-23.1 lbs Capacity

Add a zero to what we paid for our first tripod and you can get this one...$3000 on B&H!

More about these tripods on Philip Bloom's blog.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wish List: Lens

We're currently working with just one standard zoom lens, the Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM. Adding a telephoto and an ultra-wide angle would help fill out the range of possibilities.


Telephoto Zoom Lens
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
  • Focal Length and Maximum Aperture: 70-200mm, 1:2.8
  • Diagonal Angle of View: 34° - 12°
  • Filter Size: 77mm

Around $2400


Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens
EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM
  • Focal Length and Maximum Aperture: 8-15mm, 4.0 
  • Diagonal Angle of View: 180°
  • Filter Size: Rear Gel Holder (accepts up to 3 pre-cut gel filters)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wish List: Additional Light Kit

More light! We've been on too many shoots where the sets have been just too under lit. Adding a second kit to our arsenal would do wonders to boost production values (and alleviate the need to borrow lamps from others).

Lowell has a wide array of kits to choose from but a basic, yet capable setup would include a couple 500 watt spots and a 750 tota light.

$865 (with soft carrying case)
$980 (hard case)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wish List: Slider

Next on our gear "wish list" is a slider. Because of their portability, sliders are easy to use and quick to set up. They're particularly handy in tight settings where a dolly track won't do, but a moving shot is still desired. We looked at the Philip Bloom slider by Kessler Crane in an earlier post. Price: $1100.

Here's another glimpse of it in a different video.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Wish List: Location Monitor

One of the issues associated with shooting video on a DSLR is the small viewfinder image. We're currently using a Zacuto loop on our canon 7D, but it's still a hassle seeing the frame. An external monitor would be a great aid with focus, shot composition, and playback. So the first piece of production equipment on our wish list for the coming year is a high quality field monitor.

One of the more popular lower priced models on the market is made by Lilliput, a 7" runs around $260. Then there's Marshall monitors which are pricier, a 7" starts at about $1200.

Marshall 7" Monitor

Also see Norman Pogson post on DSLR monitors.