… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1344: Which to Shoot – 4K or 1080p?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

4K may be “everywhere,” but, often, shooting 1080p makes more sense.

(Image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

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This article, written by Charles Yeager, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

It is 2021, and nearly every new consumer and professional camera has the ability to film in 4K (even action cameras and phones!). So, this poses a question, “Should anybody be filming in 1080p anymore?” The short answer is—absolutely. But why? Let’s dive into the pros and cons for filming in 4K versus 1080p.

Pros for Filming in 4K

  • More Resolution, More Creativity
  • Color Grading and Keying
  • More Pixel Data
  • Online Compression Benefits

Pros for Filming in 1080p

  • Faster Editing
  • Less Storage Needed
  • Faster Video Uploads
  • Common Resolution
  • Faster Streaming
  • Perfect for Vlogs or Creators Starting Out
  • Focus More on Composition

Story Above Everything

Video resolution certainly matters when it comes to factors like editing speed or details visible in a scene. Ultimately, though, the most important thing is going to be the story you tell. You’ve probably heard this time and time again. However, the story really is all that matters for most casual viewers.


This article includes more details, links and example videos.

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Tip #1345: Creating an Improv Web Series in 7 Days

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

They said it couldn’t be done in a week. We did it anyway. 

L to R: The creators and co-stars of The Basics: Chloe Troast, Jamie Linn Watson, Mahayla Laurence, Liz Demmon, and Rachel Horwitz

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This article first appeared in NoFilmSchool.com. This is a summary.

This might come as a surprise, but we shot a six-episode improv comedy web series in seven days. We are Jamie Linn Watson, Rachel Horwitz, Mahayla Laurence, Chloe Troast, and Liz Demmon.

After we got in touch with fellow NYU comedians MC Plaschke and Ryan Beggs to direct and produce, Liz took on the role of executive producer. The five of us, with MC and Ryan’s guidance, each wrote an episode centering around our characters, co-wrote the finale, renamed it The Basics, and we were off!

After assembling our team, we put together a budget that would allow us to properly pay our crew, rent equipment, and keep everyone fed and hydrated. Our budget was $13,000, and we raised the entirety of it (in 2019) on Kickstarter.

“Stylistically, we wanted to get away from the idea that comedy has to be either ‘vertical Twitter comedy video’ or ‘Wes Anderson style overload.’ There is so much in between! We think there is a huge range of visual things you can do with comedy that are rarely explored. For The Basics, we relied a lot on improvised performance as well as improvised zooms/camera moves which made everything feel fresh and in-the-moment. The one danger of doing a series about improv is that on-camera improvisation… isn’t that funny. The magic is often lost when you don’t have the stakes of it being live. To get the feeling of spontaneity, much like you would at a live show, we used snap zooms and jump cuts, as well as slow-motion effects and music overlays over the actual improv. We wanted the goofy, improvised nature of the comedy to juxtapose with a very professional look in our cinematography. For these characters, improv is life and death, and we wanted the style to reflect that, pulling from comedic shows like Search Party and Glee.”

The article details how they put this series together in planning and production, and how they promoted it afterward.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1346: 11 Pre-Production Essentials

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Everything starts with a plan. Here’s how to start.

(Image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

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This article first appeared in MotionArray.com. This is a summary.

Got a big shoot coming up? Not sure how to prepare? Don’t panic. Here’s the ultimate pre-production checklist at your service!

  • Familiarize Yourself with Your Set
  • Create an Equipment Checklist
  • Get Those Lines DOWN!
  • Brush Up on Those Filmmaking Hacks!
  • Create a Shooting Schedule
  • Account for Extra Time
  • Account for Flakers
  • Charge and Check EVERYTHING
  • Bring Extra Copies of the Script!
  • Make a Plan B
  • Let. Them. Eat.

Murphy’s Law loves the film industry. Name anything that could go wrong, and there’s a 75% chance it will go wrong. This article includes more details and links to decrease your stress and improve your productions.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1323: 15 Image Composition Techniques

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Better composition creates stronger emotions and deeper audience involvement.

(Image courtesy of SmartPhotoEditors.com.)

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This article first appeared in SmartPhotoEditors.com. This is a summary.

With many technological breakthroughs in cameras, professional photographers have access to more tools and accessories than ever! But it’s still the person behind the camera that makes the real difference. That makes it more important for professional photographers and their techniques such as the composition techniques to click the best of the best clicks.

Though professional Photoshop services are there to enhance the images, the main objective of composition is to click the best snap so that it captures the scene as intended and reaches the post-processing table. This blog post will walk professional photographers through many different composition techniques that can be implemented, even when using a smartphone!

The article then illustrates and discusses 15 composition techniques:

  1. Rule of Thirds
  2. Rule of Odds
  3. Rule of Space
  4. Golden Triangle Rule
  5. Centering the Object
  6. Depth of Field
  7. Balance the Elements
  8. Leading Lines
  9. Patterns and Textures
  10. Filling the Frame
  11. Frame Inside a Frame
  12. Leaving Negative Space
  13. Going Minimalist
  14. Contrast Background
  15. Left to Right Rule of Photography

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1328: Rewrites & Script Doctors

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Script doctors have many roles – but one goal: Make a film as good as it can be.

Carrie Fisher, talented script doctor.

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This article, written by Jourdan Aldredge, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

In the world of screenwriting, there are many, many moving parts. You might think writing a script is as easy as sitting down and putting pen to paper (or, more accurately, opening a laptop and typing away). However, for small indie features to big-budget blockbusters, developing a screenplay can take years and often involves many different writers.

One of the most notable titles for a script revisionist is the infamous “script doctor,” who seems to have magical screenwriting powers in the industry. In this article, let’s take a moment to explore these script doctors and break down who they are and what they actually do.

According to a most basic Wikipedia definition, a script doctor is “a writer or playwright hired by a film, television, or theater production to rewrite an existing script or polish specific aspects of it.” The definition goes on to include examples of specific parts of a script that can be rewritten, including: “structure, characterization, dialogue, pacing, themes, and other elements.”

For those exploring the art of revision and script doctoring today, the basic elements of a script doctor rewrite will usually fall into these distinct rewrite categories.

  • Brainstorming and Basic Ideation: These script doctors help early on in the process with some of the big picture ideas through brainstorming. They can help lay out the basic elements of a story, define the emotional crux, then leave the majority of the actual script to be written by a single writer.
  • Story and Character Changes: Conversely, at times a script doctor may be needed after an initial idea is laid out, but to help further develop and refine a project’s central story and characters.
  • Alternate Scenes and Endings: Similarly, a script doctor is often needed to come in towards the end of the creative process to help wrap up a film that might be stuck on the ending. This is one reason you often see alternate versions or endings in a film that was doctored or rewritten at the last minute.
  • Audience Feedback Revisions: It’s standard practice for big-budget features to use test screenings and audience feedback to judge if a project is ready to go, or might need revisions to its script or direction. Script doctors can be brought in with the goal of taking audience feedback to help revise a script to better meet audience expectations and demand.
  • Final Production Polish: Perhaps the most common form of script doctoring comes as a last stage in the script process as a means to help “polish” or “punch-up” a script with extra flourish. These revisions are often minor and quick without changing the crux of a story.

This article has more details on the process of script doctors and fixing scripts, along with a variety of links to learn more.


Two famous script doctors: Aaron Sorkin and Carrie Fisher.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1329: Sony a7R IV & DJI Gimbal Change Football

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Small package, with great portability and 4K source images.

Mike Smole and the “poor man’s steadicam.”

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This article, written by Daron James, first appeared in NofFlmSchool.com. This is a summary.

The Sony a7R IV is changing NFL broadcasts. As first reported by SVG, the Week 15 tilt between Seattle and Washington had the crew using what they dubbed as “The Megalodon,” according to a tweet by reporter Mike Garafolo, where a Sony a7R IV was paired with FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens and mounted to a DJI Ronin-S gimbal.

Camera operator Mike Smole called it the “poor man’s Steadicam,” and it was used to capture endzone celebrations to mix in with the broadcast.

Crews had already been using the Sony Alpha cameras to capture warm-up and arrivals shots, but Fox used the Sony Alpha as the 11th camera in the Seattle-Washington game.

The indie package was outfitted for live television with a field monitor and a wireless transmitter that would send a 1080p signal to the camera truck, where it was color corrected to match the broadcast cameras. In all, the rig costs about $10,000, which is pennies in comparison to a broadcast camera.

No Film School spoke with Mike Davies, SVP, technical and field operations at Fox Sports. He told us the feedback has been tremendous.

Read the entire article for more technical details and links.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1306: 5 Photo Books to Inspire Cinematography

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Five exceptional books to spur your visual creativity.

(Image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

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This article, written by Lewis McGregor, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

It can be hard to find the right place to look for cinematography inspiration. Let us narrow your gaze to five exceptional photo books. These are five of my current favorites, [specifically] because of how well they spark the flames of inspiration for aspiring photographers and cinematographers looking to emulate raw, naturalistic images.

  1. Where I Find Myself by Joel Meyerowitz ($65)
  2. I Can Make You Feel Good by Tyler Mitchell ($60)
  3. Girl Pictures by Justine Kurland ($50)
  4. The Atmosphere of Crime, 1957 by Gordon Parks ($40)
  5. Intimate Distance by Todd Hido ($65)

Finding More Resources

The Cinematographer’s Archive is an Instagram account formed by Jordan Buck and James Rhodes, and acts as an insight into what’s on the bookshelf of working cinematographers. From commercial to feature DPs, there’s a wide variety of collections to scour through.

However, be warned! Some of the more fascinating photography books are out of print and, therefore, hard to find, expensive to purchase. You may find yourself falling down a late-night eBay rabbit hole chasing after some of these books.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1307: Top 10 Streaming Movies in 2020

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

This list was compiled by JustWatch.com.

JustWatch.com logo.

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This article, written by Jason Hellerman, first appeared in NoFilmSchool.com. This is a summary.

JustWatch.com, an international streaming guide, compiled a list of what people were streaming the most this year.

Here’s the list:

  1. Parasite
  2. Knives Out
  3. Jojo Rabbit
  4. Contagion
  5. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  6. 1917
  7. Joker
  8. The Lighthouse
  9. Little Women
  10. Ford v. Ferrari

NOTE: This tracked movies viewed only in the US from Jan. 1 – Dec. 1, 2020.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1308: The Academy Film Archive

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

From Collections to interviews to A.frame, the Academy Film Archive is a great resource.

The Academy logo.

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The Academy Film Archive, part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is dedicated to the preservation, restoration, documentation, exhibition and study of motion pictures. The Academy Film Archive is home to one of the most diverse and extensive motion picture collections in the world.

A new section is A.Frame. “Every new movie has a story. Whether it began as an idea many years ago or took hundreds of artists to bring to life, these stories unfold through the people behind the lens. It is in this spirit that we have created A.frame, a new way to appreciate the movies you love and discover your next favorite.” (Academy website)

In addition to A.Frame, there are other facets that make the Film Archive worth exploring, one of my favorites is Collections.

  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • Cecil B. DeMille
  • Dalton Trumbo
  • David Lynch
  • And many, many, MANY more

Link: https://www.oscars.org/film-archive/collections

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1300: A Hidden SSD Speed Boost

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

SSDs don’t have seek times or latency. This means MUCH faster storage speeds for multiple apps accessing storage at once.

Samsung T-5 SSD speed in isolation (top) and with BMD and AJA both running (bottom).

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OK, I admit, I was playing. But I discovered something very intriguing about SSDs. Watch.

As we’ve learned over the last several tips, the speed of spinning hard drives are limited by seek times and latency (Tip #1287)

The speed of a network is limited by how the devices are connected to it (i.e. 100 Mb vs. 1 Gb vs. 10 Gb Ethernet), the number of users and the connected speed of the server.

But, direct-connected SSDs don’t have these limitations. Instead, speeds are controlled based upon the construction and connection protocol of the SSD (PCIe vs. NVMe – and – USB vs. Thunderbolt).

I plan to do this test in more detail in a few weeks, when I get a chance to play with a brand-new, high-performance NVMe SSD.

But, for this quick check, I connected a Samsung T-5 SSD to a 2019 Mac mini running Thunderbolt 3. While the Thunderbolt 3 protocol maxes out around 2500 MB/sec, the T-5 pegged the meter at 479 MB/s write and 526 MB/s read (see the top values in the screen shot).

HOWEVER, when I ran BOTH AJA System Test and Blackmagic Disk Speed Test at the same time, while the speed for each application dropped, the aggregate speed was FASTER than the speed for the isolated test.

NOTE: In my example, the single app read speed was about 525 MB/s. When both apps were running, the aggregate speed was about 660 MB/s!

What this means is that if you have multiple applications reading or writing to SSD storage at the same time – which is typical for many media apps – SSDs provide far less of a slow-down than spinning media because we can access all that storage directly, without waiting for platters to spin and heads to jump into place.

These tests are just preliminary – I’ll have more on this in a few weeks. But I think this is very, VERY interesting!