Day 6 The Taking

OK, I’m not managing to do a daily blog as I’d hoped, today is a late start because we’re shooting on the moors at night today.

Most days we start at 7:30am after a drive from our camera crew house to the unit base, the shooting day ends around 7pm but I’m then checking and correcting rushes which has me finishing anywhere from 9pm to midnight so no time for blogging.

Its been a variable week, I’m really happy with the look we’re getting and the Epics have only overheated and cut out twice so in that regard we’re doing well!

The 2AC’s who are actually final year film students have progressed pretty well, starting in startled deer in the headlights mode but now anticipating what we’ll need and making sure its there. One is picking it up faster than the other but hey! the race is only part way through, there’s lots of time to catch up and overtake…

Our operators aren’t as experienced as the guys I usually work with and there is a bit of bringing up to speed and a bit of “yeah I know you do it like that on your one man crew movies but that’s NOT how its done in the real world” again a difference in speed but again there’s time.

I nearly lost it with them a couple of days ago, “just what don’t you get about a door with windows either side being framed symmetrically?” I want precision, I want the start of a shot to be the same take after take after take, I don’t want ” Oh I thought that this would be better” just do it as it was set and rehearsed and switch the wannabe director/DP part of your brain off.

At one point I was looking for the operator with one leg and cataracts, I was sure that there must be one looking at the monitors.

I know I’m pushing them but hell, of course I will, that’s what I’m here to do!

I don’t care that the move means you have to wade through a swamp and that your trousers fell down and an alligator bit your balls, did you get the F’ing shot or not?

If not don’t give me excuses just get it right next time.

My lighting crew is doing a great job with very limited facilities, faster guys faster 🙂

Gregg my long time AC has been doing an amazing job holding it all together, we wouldn’t be shooting at all if it wasn’t for his wonderful variation between slow and patient and explaining clearly and the “for fucks sake just bloody do it”

I never thought I would say this but much as I love our director he needs to be more of a bastard and less considerate of the crew.

Dom, please, don’t ask. just bloody demand!


Day 1 The Taking

OK, I’m in my shared house in Hebden Bridge and it’s all cool.

I finished preparing looks in RCX yesterday, I just wish they would take standard LUT’s but its RED and they have to reinvent everything.

It should be fairly simple today, a longish couple of dialogue scenes in a bank and then a disco sequence which is just a series of quick flashbacks.

Of course it would have been nice if our camera two operator had bothered to tell us that he wasn’t going to come to the house last night but would go directly to the studio in the morning and join us after that.

Not that Gregg, lead AC, and I were waiting up for him and trying to call email etc and getting no reply…

I must try and find a really uncomfortable shot for him today!


Prep The Taking

Well as always happens nothing was as it was meant to be.
I got off the flight from Bangkok to find my phone full of messages from Gregg my lead AC telling me about all the kit that wasn’t there and the random changes that had been made.
I still had another 5 hours of rail travel to look forward to before I got to the prep and it would be close to midnight by then so I decided to ignore it until the morning in the hope that it might get better.
I did send a few expletive laden emails to people who needed them!!
So, two days of bartering later and I now have Epics replacing the Red ones and Arri/Fujinon Allura’s replacing the Optimo’s, one a win and one a fail 🙂
On top of that my PC decide to stop recognising RED SSD’s unless I rebooted every time I wanted to load one, thanks for that last upgrade Microsoft.
So, just reading the script and playing with generating looks in RCX for the next 2 days and then a reasonably simple start to the shoot…

Pre Prep The Taking

Lower budget films much less time for prep but you need to be more prepared than ever.
Gregg has 3 days to prep 2 cameras and 8 lenses.
I’m not taking a large monitor for my use, I’ll use my Oyssey7q even though we’re not recording with it.
The 2 nine inch monitors for the director will be given to a runner and from then on we don’t want to know about them!
Our 2AC’s, both final year cinematography students, will not arrive until the day before the shoot.
It’ll be a baptism of fire for them.

The Taking intro

This is the first of a series of blog entries that I’ll do during the prep and shoot of The Taking.

I’ve done this before and the studio’s legal department forced me to take it down, hopefully that won’t happen here!

The Taking is a very low budget film that I’m doing because I like the director and the script.

We’re shooting on the original RED One M’s not the updated Mx’s, I’ve been doing some tests with rushes from Wallander that I shot on the original RED One and with the improvements in post software I believe that it’s a very viable camera. It’s still a pain in the arse design but I have learned to live with that.

I’ve booked pretty much exactly the same kit I had on Wallander 5 years ago as I know that it worked! no room for experimenting on the schedule we have.

I’m off to the Thai Film Festival first, 3 days in Bangkok and off the plane on Wednesday next week to go straight in to 4 days of prep before I start shooting.

I’ve sent the entire camera and lighting crew a pdf of the script that I’ve marked up with date, camera and lighting details for every scene. Hopefully this will help on the tight schedule we have.

NAB 2014

It’s really sad that the obsession with numbers that was started as a marketing tool by one camera company has swept over the entire camera market.

Now, all anyone wants to know is has it got a big number, not what are the pictures like.

I guess that it’s easier for non camera oriented people to grasp the idea that a big number is better but it isn’t!

Just look at the NHK 8K demos, very sharp but no dynamic range and garish colour, it was like television from 40 years ago.

We have to get back to looking at pictures and not worrying about numbers.

This is why Dolby Vision is so important, it’s about better pictures and that’s all.

Happy films

Why is it in a time of great depression that most of the scripts I get for films made in and about Britain are so profoundly depressing?

I realise that they are an accurate slice of these peoples lives, they reflect current life in the North and Midlands of England.

But the audiences live those lives! they don’t need to see them coming back at them from a big screen.

In the 30’s during the great depression the most successful films were ones that took people out of their depressing and hard real lives and gave them some hope.

Maybe not even hope, maybe just a few hours escape.

Busby Berkeley, the Gold Diggers series and Foot-light Parade, just sheer indulgence and fun.

Producers, Directors, look around, the successful films in the UK are happy ones, Billy Elliott, The Full Monty, 4 Weddings, Bridget Jones.

Are they art? who gives a damn!

They entertain people and make money.

Please send me a happy script…


The war with JJ at RED

I don’t understand what’s going on.

We had a misunderstanding in 2006 which I thought was cleared up long ago.

I never called JJ a scam artist but it seems to suit him to keep saying that I did.

He was sweetness and light to me at NAB 2013.

Then he turns and attacks me, I guess he feels he needs to keep up the myth of the underdog attacked by the establishment.

Well Jim, one thing I’m not is part of the establishment!

Anyway, don’t you think it’s time to look for a better marketing approach?  you’re a major camera manufacturer now and own a Hollywood studio.


Hacking the CML website


I can sorta understand the bragging rights of hacking into a very visible system, and CML is definitely not that.

The initial hacker understood this, it’s why he promoted his hack as getting into a millionaire film producers personal site, as if!

He added a folder and some files and says he did nothing else.

Well, there are well over 1,000 damaged pages on CML, I’ve repaired 660 of them so far, some are relatively easy to fix, some are most definitely not and it looks like 6 are gone forever.

It’s obviously a viscous attack as the damage is dome mainly to the links to sponsors sites.

The original hacker was asking how to monetise his “achievement” suggestions included hijacking the site and holding it to ransom.

Someone certainly tried to hack my PayPal account and to change my passwords at various banks.

If someone ran down a high street smashing shop windows he’d be dealt with very quickly, if you could find any high streets still around!, but this online vandalism really isn’t taken seriously enough.

Well you pathetic fuck, well done, you’ve caused huge damage to an educational site that helps people progress, I hope you live the life you deserve.


Testing Cameras

You can’t win here.
It doesn’t matter how independent you make your test, how many independent people are present someone will always say that you’ve rigged it or cheated.
The test I published in 2002 comparing Fuji, Kodak F900 and Viper were criticised by Kodak because their images were soft, yeah and they were the ones who scanned them soft!
It didn’t matter anyway as the tests were about Dynamic Range not resolution.
As I test more and more and more I know what to expect and I’m rarely surprised anymore.

My latest tests, these are half of a 800/3200 comparison of these cameras and are in that page to show differences between the colour of the cameras.

There are a lot of tests available in CML and in most cases RAW files are there as well.