… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1712: Tips on Restarting Production

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

An in-depth interview with cinematographer Ben Richardson.

Ben Richardson on the set of “Mare of Easttown.”

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Matt Mulcahey, first appeared in FilmmakerMagazine.com. This is an excerpt.

With the entire season of “Mare of Easttown” now available on HBO Max, cinematographer Ben Richardson talks the difficulties of a six-month COVID-19 pause, the benefits of Leitz Summilux lenses and his tricks for assigning the right level of suspicion to your red herrings.

Filmmaker: Were the scripts for all seven episodes of the series completely finished when you started shooting?

Richardson: Yes. This was a somewhat unusual scenario in that we didn’t actually start shooting with the first episode. Instead, we cross-boarded the entire season, visiting many locations only once (and shooting every scene there) for all seven episodes. Because there was a single DP and a single director, there wasn’t any need to go in strict episode order. To make the logistics work with actor availability and some of the locations that were featured throughout the whole show, it made sense to block shoot everything.

Filmmaker: That plan makes a lot of sense, but it definitely complicated matters when you had to shut down halfway through the shoot because of COVID. When you went back to finish, now you still had scenes from all seven episodes to shoot.

Richardson: The challenge was that we had set out to make something not only scheduled more like a movie but also with that same sort of scale, which is something I think the story demanded. The real challenge was maintaining that scale we’d been able to establish while working within the new restrictions that COVID required.

Filmmaker: The interiors and exteriors really blend seamlessly. How much of this was shot on stage versus practical locations?

Richardson: I think it’s probably about 50/50. Though the exterior is real, the interior of Mare’s house is a build. Actually, the little stairwell [next to the split-level home’s front door] was duplicated on stage to match the one in the real exterior location, so we were able to do stairwell scenes looking out the real location’s front door to get the background, then do the reverses on the set build. Frank and Faye’s was entirely practical. Lori’s was entirely practical. It was a real hybrid and that ends up being a little bit challenging in a fun way, because there are some logistical differences between shooting location interiors versus stage interiors. You don’t want the stuff done on stage to feel much more controlled or contrived compared to the location stuff, which may have a few more rough edges. But I like the rough edges, so I’m always looking for ways to break the lighting a little bit and make it imperfect on stage.

Filmmaker: The only handheld shot I remember in the show is the episode six flashback to the suicide of Mare’s son, which tracks from outside to inside her house.

Richardson: That shot actually ended being quite a complex thing to pull off, because it’s two shots stitched together between the location and the stage set, and also there’s a speed ramp at the end. It became a very interesting technical challenge to be able to marry those shots in a way that, hopefully, nobody will ever notice and I think we pulled that off pretty well.

EXTRA CREDIT

The interview goes into much more detail. Read the full version here.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1711: NBC Announces 7,000 Hours of Olympics

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

7,000 hours of coverage, 5,500 hours of streaming.

Olympics logo courtesy of NBCUniversal.

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This article, written by Jon Lafayette, first appeared in NextTV.com. This is an excerpt.

NBCUniversal said it will have 7,000 hours of coverage of the Tokyo Olympics this summer. The Tokyo games will include 5,550 hours of streaming, including all sports and medal events

The Olympics will appear on NBCU’s broadcast and cable networks, its digital platforms including Peacock and Telemundo Deportes. NBCU cable networks USA, CNBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel and Golf Channel will present more than 1,300 hours of Tokyo Olympic coverage. USA’s coverage starts with the USA playing Sweden in soccer.

An NBC Sports spokesperson said the organization has been doing remote production for many Games and already planned for a very significant home operation for Tokyo. “After requests by the IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee for everyone to reduce their footprint, we moved 300 additional workers home and will now have 1,600 in Tokyo,” the spokesperson said. Asked what impact diminished live attendance might have, the spokesperson said “as we have seen over the past year, coverage of sporting events can be very successful even with reduced capacities.”

Read the full article here.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1710: Tips to Avoid Filmmaker Burn-out

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Burn-out is real – but you can take steps to avoid it.

Image courtesy of Luis Quintero, of Pexels.com.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Jourdan Aldredge, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

For those who have worked in film and video for an extended amount of time, eventually you’ll hit some roadblocks. Work will occasionally dry up, clients will have unreasonable deadlines and demands, and you’ll face problems that don’t always have a simple solution.

I’ve seen more than a few fellow filmmakers and video professionals drop out of the industry altogether. However, while you’ll never completely avoid feeling tired or dragged down from time to time, there are options and resources out there to help you battle burnout.

Always Be Working on a Passion Project. I don’t think I’ve met a single person working in film and video who’s simply doing it for the money. That’s why it’s important to always be working on a passion project. You don’t have to schedule shoots every weekend for your feature film, but try to stay in touch with what got you into film and video in the first place.

Vary Types of Projects. Try to find ways to vary the types of projects you work on. Logically, focusing on one type of work can be helpful for building clientele and increasing your rates and income. But, don’t let it completely burn you out!

Get Connected with a Community. Another helpful way to battle burnout is by simply connecting with a solid film or video community. They can also help you build out your own network for finding more work and other projects to collaborate on.

Experiment with New Technologies. If there’s one consistent theme in the film and video industry, it’s that there’s always going to be new cameras, drones, rigs, or gear to check out.

Keep up with Online Resources.

EXTRA CREDIT

The article contains links to more resources, and more details on how to avoid burnout in your life.


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… for Apple Motion

Tip #1703: Make an Element Invisible – FAST!

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Both menu and shortcut quickly toggle an element’s visibility

To make any element invisible, Control-click it in the Layers panel and uncheck Active.

Topic $TipTopic

By default all elements in the Motion Layers panel are visible. But, sometimes, you want to hide something so you can see what’s below it. Here’s how.

  • Control-click the element you want to temporarily hide in the Layers panel.
  • Deselect Active. (Shortcut: Control + T)
  • Repeat this process to make the element visible again.

EXTRA CREDIT

Any invisible elements will be saved, but not exported.


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… for Apple Motion

Tip #1702: Four Dragging Tips to Speed Resizing

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

These keyboard shortcuts make resizing images faster and/or more accurate.

Pressing Shift constrains rotation to 45°; the yellow dot (top) indicates starting position.

Topic $TipTopic

Here are four dragging tips when resizing media in the Motion Viewer that can make image handling faster and easier.

Tip 1 – Rotation

Press the Shift key while dragging the blue rotation dot in the Viewer. This constrains rotation to 45° increments.

Tip 2 – Resizing

Press Shift while dragging a corner blue resizing dot for an image in the Viewer to constrain the aspect ratio to it’s original dimensions.

Tip 3 – Centering

Press Option while dragging a blue resizing dot in the Viewer to scale the image size from the center (you are dragging the opposite edge at the same time, by the same amount).

NOTE: Yes, you can press both Shift and Option while dragging to constrain the aspect ratio and resize from the center.

Tip 4 – Copying

Press Option while dragging an image in the Viewer to make a copy of the original image, then reposition the copy.


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… for Apple Motion

Tip #1701: Very Fast, But Hidden, Skimming Trick

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The secret is to drag a number that isn’t hours or frames.

When the blue arrows are visible, dragging a number enables high-speed timeline skimming.

Topic $TipTopic

There are so many hidden mouse shortcuts in Motion that it is impossible to find them all. But here’s one that’s both hidden and useful.

Take a look at the screen shot. See those little blue arrows above and below the timecode frame number at the bottom center of the Viewer?

NOTE: To display these, hover over a number in the timecode display.

When those arrows are visible, drag the timecode number up or down to quickly skim the timeline.

BUT, here’s the secret:

  • When you drag over the frames number, you are skimming the timeline by frames.
  • When you drag over the seconds number, you are skimming the timeline by seconds (faster)
  • When you drag over the minutes number, you are skimming the timeline by minutes (REALLY faster)
  • When you drag over the hours number, well, your eyes will get whiplash.

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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1709: Being Queer in… Motion Design

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Stories of the queer experience in the creative industries.

Image courtesy of Motionographer.com.

Topic $TipTopic

Motionographer has created a new series: “Being Queer in…” They have “hand-selected some incredible people to tell their stories and give us candid accounts of the queer experience in the creative industries. Being Queer in… is inspiring, raw, and dripping with authenticity.” (This is an excerpt.)

NOTE: Here’s the link.

For our first article, we spotlight the queer experience in Motion Design. To help us, we’ve enlisted Ed Kevill-Davies, Senior Motion Graphics Artist at Coffee and TV. Ed shares his journey giving us a window into the life of a gay man navigating his way through the industry.

You can file this one under “essential reading.”


I came out as gay in the mid-noughties at the age of 22. It’s funny, within my queer friendship group, we joke that at some point or another, whether on a date, or outside a club, or at a dinner, we’ll always find an opportunity to share our “coming out stories.” To those of us in the queer community, they are recollections of the moment we changed our lives forever, when we took a leap into the terrifying unknown, regardless of what the consequences might be. Will my family reject me? Will the people I love stop loving me? Will I fit in? How will it affect my career?

My coming out story certainly isn’t a best-seller – I did it in a restaurant with my parents. Strangely, I had met the waiter the night before on a dance floor in Soho, so I took that as a sign. I knew I was ready, but I was still terrified.

My mum cried (a lot) but was ultimately happy for me. My dad was supportive but found it hard to talk to me for a while. My friends were great, truly great, but their experience of the gay community was limited, so I went on a journey to find some answers that might help me navigate this new life for myself. I became very good at going to clubs on my own and making friends with people. It was exciting, and it was scary.

Around this time, I discovered another thing that was to become a huge part of my identity: Motion Design.

Read the rest here.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1708: More Efficient Invisible Effects

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

As effects become more invisible, new tools are needed.

Content-aware fill in Adobe After Effects.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Trevor Hogg, first appeared in VFXVoice.com. This is an excerpt.

Despite the ability to create fantastical worlds and creature digitally, the majority of the work for the visual effects industry is focused on making unnoticeable alterations, whether painting out rigging, extending sets and locations, or doing face replacements for stunt doubles. Leading the we in creating the tools and technology to create and execute these invisible effects are software companies Autodesk, Adobe, Foundry and SideFX, along with Epic Games and Cinefade.

Where the technology has evolved most recently is with in-camera visual effects. “It’s a process that is changing the future of all visual effects,” notes David Morin, Industry Manager for Media & Entertainment at Epic Games. “With in-camera visual effects, the greenscreen is replaced with LED displays on set while shooting live-action elements. This can enable in-camera capture of both practical and digital elements, giving the director and cinematographer more access to the final look of a scene earlier than ever before. This is an important step forward for invisible effects.”

“I look at machine learning as the assistant you wish you could hire rather than the thing that is going to replace you. We don’t want to replace people with robots,” said Victoria Nece, Senior Product Manager, Motion Graphics and Visual Effects, Adobe

“Creating invisible effects has always been much of the ‘bread and butter’ of Foundry tools, including Nuke, Katana, Mari, and even in the early days of Foundry’s Furnace toolset for rig removal and clean-up tasks,” states Christy Anzelmo, Senior Director of Product at Foundry. “Nuke’s underlying ethos is to give the artist technical and creative control of what is happening in their shot to achieve those high-quality results.”

EXTRA CREDIT

The article includes a variety of interviews from leading softare developers, along with production stills showing the process in action.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1704: VFX for LED Walls Course

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Designs for artists created effects for LED walls.

Image courtesy of VFX Technologies.

Topic $TipTopic

VFX Technologies announces their first Virtual Production interactive course!

The adoption of Virtual Production has skyrocketed during the pandemic, and as LED walls are being utilized all over the world, the need for artists who can operate them is growing.

This in-person course covers everything there is to know about LED wall setups for Virtual Production. By taking part in this event, you will be a part of a select few who get to see and interact with this technology firsthand.

This course is suitable for someone who is looking to better understand the technology behind LED walls and the use cases for them.

NOTE: The announcement did not indicate if there is a fee, but the implication is that there is not.

Here’s the link.


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… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1707: NDI Tools 5: NDI Output from FCP & Premiere

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

NDI Tools 5 also supports WAN bridging.

Image courtesy of NDI.tv

Topic $TipTopic

NDI Tools announced support to enable NDI output from Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects in their upcoming NDI Tools 5. The upcoming utility is free.

Shipping later in June, “NDI 5 makes it possible, for the first time in history, to connect to any device, in any location, anywhere in the world – allowing it to work with almost any video application in the world. Physical studios can connect to ones in the cloud and remote video production effectively becomes local. Tools is a free suite of applications designed to introduce you to the world of IP. NDI makes it possible to connect to any device, in any location, anywhere in the world – and transmit live video to wherever you are.” (NDI Tools website)

NDI 5 makes it possible, for the first time in history, to connect to any device, in any location, anywhere in the world – allowing it to work with almost any video application in the world. Physical studios can connect to ones in the cloud and remote video production effectively becomes local.

NDI Tools fully supports all M1 Macs, Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Final Cut Pro, as well as all macOS, iOS, tvOS and iPadOS devices.

Here’s the link to the NDI announcement.


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