Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Watch How Roger Deakins Shot '1917' All In One Take

I think the use of long single takes in a movie are fantastic. The film '1917' directed by Sam Mendes uses this extensively. The film about WW1 will be released this Christmas. I haven't seen this film, so don't have an opinion about it, but the shots look amazing.

The cinematographer is the master of the art Roger Deakins.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Magic of Molecular Maya

The latest email newsletter from Clarafi has links to Scientific Visualisations using software including Molecular Maya.

Molecular Maya (mMaya)

"A free plugin for Autodesk Maya that lets users import, model and animate molecular structures. We leverage the power and flexibility of Maya while offering innovative, intuitive tools specialized for the challenges of molecular modelling and animation. mMaya is further enhanced by a series of 'kits' that expand its functionality and greatly streamline molecular modelling, animation, and simulation (see below)." (Clarafi)

System Requirements

  • Maya 2015-18 (note, 2018 is now supported)
  • OSX or Windows

Clarafi gives a list of many software tools that can be used for Scientific Visualisation. I think it is all rather fabulous.

Clarafi has a showcase of great examples of animations.

Here is an example of the animation "What is a Protein" from the Protein Data Bank. I think it is the best introduction to proteins I have ever come across.

The Protein Data Bank is a source of data in XML format to use with animation software.

My cloud software project has a couple of modules that work with the Protein Data Bank.

Here is a great animation of the growth of a chicken embryo.

The most stunning scientific animation of a cell I have ever watched is Inner Life of the Cell.

"The Inner Life of a Cell is an eight-minute animation created in NewTek LightWave 3D and Adobe After Effects for Harvard biology students",

"Created by XVIVO, a scientific animation company near Hartford, CT, the animation illustrates unseen molecular mechanisms and the ones they trigger, specifically how white blood cells sense and respond to their surroundings and external stimuli."

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Toy Soldiers - Behind the Scenes at Stan Winston

"Go behind the scenes of Joe Dante’s Small Soldiers and see how Stan Winston Studio used real puppets and on-set performance to bring to life the militarized Action Figures."

From April 30, 2019, blog post at Stan Winston School of Character Arts (SWSCA).

The Studio took on this job soon after the magic of the Jurassic Park and Terminator jobs.

These are a few of the photos from the SWSCA blog which are taken from the truly excellent book The Winston Effect: The Art & History of Stan Winston Studio. It must have been a lot of fun.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The NAB Show 2019

From Wikipedia

"NAB Show is an annual trade show produced by the National Association of Broadcasters. It takes place in April, and has been held since 1991 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The show's tagline is "Where Content Comes to Life". NAB show is the largest show for media, entertainment and technology. The NAB shows covers: broadcast TV, radio, production, post production, news gathering, streaming, cable TV, satellite TV, film restoration, data storage, data management, weather forecasting, industrial TV, FX, CGI, connected media, cybersecurity and more. NAB had 103,000 attendees from 161 countries and more than 1,806 exhibitors in 2016. There are also exhibitors in Las Vegas hotels not counted in the official convention center displays. In addition to the exhibitors' booths, there are lectures, panel discussions and workshops. In 2017, there will be over 200 of these sessions..."

From No Film School

A playlist of coverage from NAB 2019. Worth watching.

NAB Show has live streams and recorded video coverage as do many of the product manufactures.

A bit of a toy fest. I like looking at the lighting, lenses, digital cameras and gripping gear.

I do have my heart set on Arri Alexa - just saying. And I would like to get to NAB.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Gelatin Moulds

Gelatin was used during the Victorian era to make moulds used in casting plaster sculptures.

Since then various artists and model makers have come up with ways to improve this by adding Glycerine.

The resulting Gelatin/Glycerine mixture (without water) is gently melted and poured around a "master" shape to create a reusable flexible mould. The mould can later be melted down and reused many times.

I have also come across a miniature model makers recipe that added Sorbitol to the Gelatine Glycerine mix in equal 1/3 portions. However, non-food grade Sorbitol powder is impossible to obtain in NZ in bulk. It does come with 50% water added for use in the Dairy Industry in milking sheds. $600 for 200L which then has to be processed to remove the unwanted water.

So a Gelatine Glycerine mix looks to be the way to go.

Here are some links to recipes and articles

And a 2 part video...

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Art Direction Training at Pinewood Studios

Terry Ackland-Snow runs a special school based at Pinewood Studios in the UK.
It looks quite magical. and worth every penny to pay to go on these 2 courses.

As Terry explains ...

Film Design International (FDI) is an Art Direction training provider, which offers essential, industry-relevant courses for anyone who wants to work in the Film and TV art departments.

Ideally located at the internationally renowned, Pinewood Studios; both the Art Direction Course promise the student a total immersion in the film and television world, and a vitally important first step towards becoming a successful Art Director and Production Designer

We currently provide two training courses and you can find out more detail about each of them via our Courses page.

FDI was set up at Pinewood Film Studios in 2001 by Terry Ackland-Snow, to offer draughtsmanship courses for the film and television industry.

The courses are taught personally by Terry along with other professionals, so students benefit from the vast knowledge, insight, skills and techniques that he has acquired throughout his illustrious career which spans 50 years in the industry. Starting as a Junior Draughtsman in 1960, he worked on more than 80 film and television productions making his way up to being appointed as a Supervising Art Director and Production Designer. IMDB link.

Terry along with the team members are passionate about the industry that he has devoted his career to. The courses are intensely practical and designed to give comprehensive knowledge of film techniques to be used on the drawing board.

A happy hard-working student has a blog of her journey at the school.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Into the Breech

As many close friends know, I have been quietly researching a number of dramatic film and documentary projects for some time now.

I'm now confident enough to start to move these projects to the predevelopment stage.

But to do this, I need a hell of a lot of funds to rent space, pay for great scriptwriters, researchers and designers etc.

And I want to have a top-notch crew, rather than rely on favours.

Also, I would rather risk my own money than someone else's.

And have minimal dealings with the film and TV industry suits who suck in my opinion and have no taste.

To this end, I'm taking a detour and returning to software development after an absence of 10 years. Previously I led a team for 10 years on a private cloud computing platform for conservation in NZ. It was technically successful but not financially. Mainly because it was 20 years ahead of its time. It was just too early and I got some things wrong.

But as it turned out, it was an invaluable learning opportunity for me. So I was very lucky and got some hard-won experience.

Cloud computing has come along way since that time and a lot has been learned across the industry.

Recently out of sheer frustration with available software, I have had to build my own applications to support my own private projects.

Then the penny dropped ...

Other people might need the same tools and maybe they would pay for that service.

I'm now developing a scientific cloud platform to be commercialised. After 18 months, it is at a crude working prototype stage which I'm very happy with. The next stage will be very very hard.

My intention is that this will be a fundraiser for my film projects.

You can follow this project on a separate technical web site aimed at developers.

In the meanwhile, Redworks is my happy place and I'll be still pottering around in my art studio from time to time and posting away on

Monday, April 1, 2019

Build an Amazing Tree with Luke Towan

Here is a great set of instructions on how to make a miniature tree from Luke Towan.

Here is Luke making the tree.

Here it is broken down into a series of steps

I used some of this technique a couple of years ago to make a miniature tree used in a film that also matched a full-scale fake tree used on set for the actors to interact with. The miniature tree was filmed against a blue screen.

Playing with Scale: How Designers Use Set Models

There is a fantastic exhibition at the National Theatre in London, UK on designing with set models for theatre.

It looks magical.

As reported in Design Week in an article written by Sarah Dawood November 20, 2018 5:23 pm.

"Playing with Scale: How Designers Use Set Models looks at how stage designers for the National Theatre have used model boxes to help inform entire sets, and will feature original model boxes used in the theatre's productions, archive materials, films, audio and photography.


As described in an article on National Theatre

"This free exhibition explores how designers use set models for theatre-making. Playing with Scale unfolds the idea of a scale model and explains the importance of models as a design tool. The exhibition features examples of models from five productions designed for the Olivier stage between 1977-2018 and explores how these intricate models are used in the process of theatre-making. Production models include Exit the King, Antony and Cleopatra, The Life of Galileo, Antigone and The Comedy of Errors.

The exhibition includes archive materials, films, audio, images and set models. The exhibition is curated by Eleanor Margolies, who has been the Jocelyn Herbert Fellow of Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Graduate School, University of the Arts London, and is designed by Jemima Robinson. This exhibition is the outcome of the Jocelyn Herbert Fellowship (2016-18) and forms part of a collaboration between the National Theatre and Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon. The exhibition is funded in part by the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation."

Friday, March 29, 2019

How Great Directors Frame and Move the Camera

I'm completely self-taught. I learn film making by reverse engineering DVD's of movies and doco's in my head as I watch them play. Figuring out how the scenes are lit. What crane was used and how it tracked. Where the camera was placed. What lenses were used and why? How the actors moved. How the scene was composed.

The second source has been reading every ASC magazine from cover to cover and then reading them again.

The third source has been watching "The making of" docos that are often included on DVD's. And reading any books that come with the film. I now have a great and growing collection of these books mainly purchased used from Amazon and library surplus book sales.

The fourth source has been watching YouTube-style videos from web sites like Stan Winston School of Character Arts, BAFTA, Weta Workshop, etc and today Wolfcrow.

So here is a great video description from Wolfcrow of some of Roger Deakins methods. Roger is probably my favourite cinematographer.

And work by Christopher Nolan.

And Ridley Scott - a master of quick setups.

And focal lengths and lenses.