Thursday, September 30, 2010

Using Lightroom

I recently discovered the joys of using Adobe Lightroom 2.1 while cataloging several thousand photos for Bush Telly.

Most of the pictures were on Cd's or hard drives in folders named after the photographer along with a note. As the pile of images grew rapidly, it was getting chaotic pretty fast.

So a good bit of
Digital Asset Management (DAM) was needed.

The DAM Book by Peter Krough found in the local library explained a clear method of naming digital photos and what directory structure to use. I had to post a few queries on The DAM Forum to clarify what structure might be needed to deal with fifty different photographers instead of only one. Peter and friends were very helpful.

After the images were sorted, I used Lightroom to add metadata to each image and then exported them as a master DNG files named using this format;


So an example would be SashaShamilov_2010227_02.dng

Lightroom was a real pleasure to use especially with twin monitors. It made the whole job easy and it looks beautiful too - I'm hooked.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Fattest Man in Britain

Most weeks, I don't watch any TV, cos there just so much rubbish on the box. And if there is anything decent it's usually ruined by ads at dramatic moments.

But there was a real treat on TV1 last Sunday night. The Fattest Man in Britain was so well done. Timothy Spall played the lead part. Loosely based on something that actually happened, it's the very human story of a big man who realises his self worth through finding friendship. It also takes the piss out of all the exploitive TV shows that invade peoples privacy. Very funny and touching at the same time and well worth watching - hope it comes out on DVD.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Spring cleaning my studio

I took advantage of this beautiful weekend to spring clean my studio. After the Bush Telly filming at Ellerslie earlier this year, returning stuff just got dumped everywhere, and the door locked - "out of site out of mind". I then spent months over winter editing the footage and planning for future filming, so this was the first opportunity to finally sort the mess out.

I have changed the layout so that I can easily make props, miniatures, small table top sets, and film equipment. Pride of place at the moment is a ride on dolly which is nearing completion. It will take a tripod or pedestal camera support, and can be used on track or flat ground or board walks in the bush. I also want to make a cable cam for filming high up in forest canopy, or vertically up a tree trunk or cliff, plus a table dolly.

There should be enough room to set up to film time lapse or miniatures for later compositing.

I need to put a lot of unwanted stuff on Trademe, to make room for future film projects. Should be a ball this summer.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Life is trouble, only death is not

If you want to watch a film about a living force of nature, Zorba the Greek must be up there. Directed by Mihalis (Michael) Cacoyannis, and wonderfully filmed and acted on location in Crete, all the characters are very authentic.

I think this must have been Anthony Quinn's most outstanding work. He was also in Lion of the Desert, which I really liked and have seen several times since 1981 when it first came out. Lust for Life is another film he was in that I must get out on DVD. I think he was one of those great actors that improved with age.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The inspiring set design's of Tony Geddes

About 13 years ago, I came across an exhibition in the Christchurch Arts Centre of the stage set designs of Tony Geddes. Here are some photos I took at the time.

Tony, the genius set designer at the Court Theatre  was to become a great inspiration to me some years later, when I finally meet the man.

The exhibition contained dozens of models and drawings of Tony's work. I was completely taken by the rich imagination and fantastic worlds created for stage plays on display.

Some years later, I ended up working at the Court Theatre workshop building these marvelous designs. There were other set designers as well but Tony was my favourite. Each of his set's had a life of it's own and had a richness that added to each play.

During each production week, Tony would rapidly finish off each set with fantastic paint effects. He had excellent instincts based on natural ability and honed by the impressive experience of 200+ productions. It was pretty amazing to be there and watch.

As the set workshop engineer, I often got to meet Tony in his design office to help figure out the underlying metal structures required to bring his ideas to fruition. All around the walls were these models which are a national treasure just like Tony. One day it would be great if they could go on permanent display somewhere to inspire future generations.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Life is beautiful

I watched the great Italian film Life is Beautiful from 1997 a few weeks ago. Roberto Benigni directed, co-wrote and played the leading role.

Both tragic and very funny at the same time, the film is about a father who uses his wacky imagination to protect those he loves the most, his wife and son including when they are sent to a Nazi concentration camp during WWII.

The whole film also mocks the insane absurdity of the Nazi rationalisations during that time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Slowly by slowly

My mate Sasha Shamilov has a new web site.

Sasha has lived the life of Indiana Jones many times over. His parents and grandparents were Chechen, a people who were deported en mass by Stalin's murderous thug's in 1944 from their homeland in the North Caucuses to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Sasha ended up in New Zealand in 1994 and has been a stateless person ever since. He has worked and paid taxes, but successive governments have refused to give him NZ residency. They have tried to deport him three times without success including some months of unjust imprisonment. Despite all this, Sasha has shown great strength of character. You can read Sasha's story on his web site.

Sasha is a highly skilled welder, wonderful photographer and shares my love of natural beauty. We are both part of the Bush Telly film crew and spend many hours designing and making camera equipment to film nature. My wife adopted him as a brother so he is now family.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ask David Mullen ANYTHING

David Mullen ASC is an American cinematographer with a bevy of credits under his belt.

He is also very generous with his time answering questions on a number of web site forums.

I often follow his thread on Red User and listen in on the discussion. Its a great way to learn from the pros and always sparks a trip to the library to get yet another book out or searching on the Internet.
I really love this shot from Manure which he worked on.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The grimy faces of Moby Dick

I watched the DVD of Moby Dick over the weekend. It is a film adaption made in 1956 by John Huston of the book written by Herman Melville.

I like the way it is narrated by the young sailor Ishmael played by Richard Basehart. Three things about the film really struck me.
  • How much full of splendid physical character the actors were - not a buffed bod to be seen and plenty of wrinkles.
  • Their speech was magnificant.
  • How much public attitudes to whales have changed.
Its a great tale and worth watching. The DVD has a slideshow of photos from the making of the film including the whale.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Beauty of the Power Game

A recent post on Red user net was about this stunning slow motion footage of women tennis players. The clips can be watched on the New York Times. These women are superb athletes.

There is also a related article "How Power Has Transformed Women’s Tennis" and a slide show "Women Who Hit hard".

The images were filmed with the new high speed Phantom FLEX camera from Vision Research. The camera can film 1080p full high definition video using the high frame rate of 2,800 fps.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sebastian's Voodoo

Sebastian's Voodoo is an outstanding short film by Joaquin Baldwin about a little voodoo doll that saves his mates. He made this while he was a student at film school.

This guy is pure talent.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sand volcano's erupting

 There was a 7.1 Richter earthquake in Canterbury early hours of Saturday morning. It was pretty amazing. I stumbled out of bed in a daze and held onto the book cases to stop them falling over. For which later I got royally told off by my better half.

Luckily there was no loss of life, owing to the building code in place, but I think this natural disaster will turn into a social disaster for many people in the months to come.

In many parts of the city there was soil liquefaction and the curious phenomena of sand volcano's popping up everywhere with the roar of gushing water. I found these sand volcanoes (also known as a sand boil) fascinating and quite beautiful. The strange thing was that the mouth was often very clear of sand or silt of any kind as if they had been washed.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Moving and funny

My friend Pavla lent me Koyla which I watched today. It's a Czech film made in 1996 by director Jan Svěrák that is set in 1988 as Stalinism was finally crumbling.

Its a really neat story about a middle aged single musician who's life is beautifully interrupted by a child. Its wonderfully told and filmed and well worth a look. The director's dad Zdeněk Svěrák, both wrote the script and played the lead role.

Prague is such a beautiful city.

And I really liked his apartment.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It was a handy thing

Back in 1984, I found myself in a room one day that had some clay in it and feeling bored, I thought - why not use the clay to figure out how metal bars deform when blacksmithing. Well that kept me busy for an hour.

So I was still holding this ball of clay in my hand - looked at it and thought - why not copy that - so 8 hours later - here was a clay hand holding a clay ball of clay.

I was gobsmacked because having never done art at school or played with clay before - here was a fairly accurate little sculpture that had a part of me in it. Then someone walking past offered me $200 for it!

It was quite a cathartic experience - my whole world changed at that point. Here I was finally able to express what I thought and felt in something I could make. On that day I decided I wanted to become a sculptor.

The hand was never fired and today sits by the drawing board in the office.