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Why Has Blu-ray Failed To Catch Hold?

aibrahim Re:Lets see (1162 comments)

Your local cinematographer and director again ...

Are you people DAFT? BluRay looks far better than DVD. That goes for "old movies" too.

In fact it goes quadruple for "Old TV shows." Pull out your copy of Star Trek Remastered. See, the original series was shot in 35mm film.

Now have a good look. Go on, look at the DVD release, look at the remastered DVD (which also looks better than the original DVD and the original broadcasts!) and look at the BluRay.

The remastered DVD looks better, well because its remastered. There is this little process called "color correction" which I am in fact supposed to be doing instead of posting to /. that can work absolute wonders with imagery. The new CG effects are a mixed bag, sometimes they are better, sometimes they make no difference, sometimes they make it worse, so screw them. Just look at the live action parts.

Now a true classic of cinematography, like Apocalypse Now or Cleopatra ... those get a new life to them. They most assuredly didn't look that good in their original theatrical release because of the limitations of printmaking and color timing ... we are just NOW for the first time seeing what the film makers saw back then as they made and edited the picture.

You don't want to buy BluRay? Fine. There are valid reasons for that. I know my BluRay collection is destined to be smaller than my DVD collection.

Please get a clue though: BluRay looks way better than DVD, and yes it looks much better than the 720p rips of HD material you find on download- official or otherwise.

more than 2 years ago
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The Hobbit Filming at 48fps

aibrahim Re:It won't help (423 comments)

/sigh/

Look, first off its actual two camera 3D, not the rejiggered post only 3D, which I abhor.

(And a big thank you to Mr. Lucas for bringing post-3D to Star Wars films. The only good that can come of that is that perhaps everyone will finally get the idea that it just can't be done well- if ILM and Lucas can't pull it off it can't be done. Of course, I am always willing to be surprised.)

In any case what you call "Fake3D" works very much like your eyes do during photography.

Holography may be the way of the future, but it will be a rather distant future. Further ... holography, whenever it does come to pass, will benefit dramatically from the experiences of film makers today learning the new "grammar" of 3D film making.

As the movie appearing dim .... merely shooting in 48fps will address some of that. See, 24fps film is actually projected at 48fps with a shutter splitting the exposure.

48fps digital will be projected at 48fps without a shutter. Net effects it appears brighter to begin with.

Finally, about motion blur .... 48fps on Hobbit is being shot with the same shutter speed as is typically used on 24fps film 1/48th of a second. (In film we refer to the shutter speed using "shutter angles" instead of a fraction of a second. Standard 24fps shutter as 180 degrees, but Lesnie is using a 360 degree shutter on 48fps acquisition ... the net result is the same motion blur.)

Both Andrew Lesnie and Peter Jackson have written glowingly about the results of this particular choice, which is one I have been arguing for myself.

And YES, I am a credited cinematographer and colorist.

more than 3 years ago
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World's First Full HDR Video System Unveiled

aibrahim HDR motion picture cameras are already shipping (107 comments)

RED has shipped its first two production EPIC-M cameras which has a feature called HDRx, which allows up to 18 stops of DR in a single exposure for every motion picture frame. It doesn't require a beam splitter or any other gadgetry.

Peter Jackson has a number of them he's using for the Hobbit. I think the latest Spiderman is shooting with it too.

It does that at 5K, which is 5120x2880 resolution.

As to comments that HDR is better than 3D, or that you don't need lighting... they are unfounded. You still need lighting to create the precise mood you want. The advantage is that you can now create that mood more easily in more lighting conditions. This is especially important in conditions that the film maker can not control. The first RED demo was a shot from inside a barn out the barndoor into the Arizona desert. The camera held detail in the shadows inside the barn and in the sky and on white surfaces in direct sunlight.

The normal solution to that lighting situation is to pour about a hundred thousand watts of lighting into the inside of the barn, hope nothing catches on fire and that you are close enough to the sun

more than 3 years ago
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Finding Independently Produced TV Shows?

aibrahim Indie TV isn't free, that's why you don't see it (151 comments)

I was director of photography for Star Trek Phase 2 for 3 episodes, and worked there on a total of six episodes, mostly in the camera department, but also in visual effects.

I also directed photography on Cawley Entertainments Buck Rogers pilot.

I worked on Starship Farragut, and Starship Polaris, which is an independent indie pilot.

TV requires an immense budget.

Phase 2, and any other show that claims "no budget" is really depending on donations of time, equipment and money from dozens if not hundreds of participants. Looking at Phase 2, the typical crew member not only gives two weeks of volunteer work, of 12+ hour days. During that time they also pay for their food, lodging and travel. Even after every effort has been made the typical crew member spends over $1000 just to be on set.

Some crew members, like myself, offer equipment. I usually provided $10-20000 of equipment per shoot. On one occasion I was able to bring a RED camera, on that shoot I had $65000 of gear on set.

I have all that to offer because I am a professional film/video maker.

I would NOT offer any of that to most productions. Phase 2 got special treatment because its "Star Trek."

Looking at Polaris, I shot that with a Canon 7D DSLR. The total camera rig was over $6000, and would have rented for $2500 for our shoot to date. Add to that lighting rentals. We spent $5000 for our week of studio shooting for grip and electric. (including a low end dolly.) We've shot about 12 days so far, and we have to shoot another 4 days or so.

I want to point out that these are camera, grip and electric department EQUIPMENT costs only. That's all money heading OUT. Not a single soul involved in the film profits one cent from any of that. It also doesn't account for set construction materials, studio rental, electricity, food, wardrobe, props, permits, insurance or anything else.

This is very low budget film making, but it still costs a huge amount.

Coming back to labor, let me talk about a point a producer brought up here. I worked on a series of visual effects shots for Star Trek Phase 2. I had to rotoscope an actor from a series of shots, and then reconstruct the set (Enterprise bridge) behind him. Naturally the reconstructed set had to match the actual standing set where it was shot. If I was working on a "real" show that shot would have been finished in 2-3 days. A week at the absolute max. In fact the shot took 3 months of me working on it whenever I happened to have a bit of time.

If you need the work done faster, you need to be paying professionals to do it. You also can't honestly expect to pay minimum wage. On average I'd expect to have to pay out $6000 per day for a crew of 30. That only works out to an average salary of $50000 per year, which is low given the skill sets required. It comes to $90000 per episode with a 3 week shooting schedule per episode.

This depends on keeping the unions OUT of the production, which is hard.

For comparison, the union minimum rate for my job, director of photography, on a film is $1200 per day. Using minimum staffing, each camera requires a DP/Operator, a 1st assistant. Each unit requires a second assistant camera and digital imaging technician. That minimum staffing requires 4 people, with a union minimum salary of $2600 per day- and that does not include any equipment.

This doesn't count post production crew, or allow for pre-production on an episode. It also doesn't include all the actors that go in front of the camera.

In order to produce a show the caliber of Phase 2 caliber on a timely basis (i.e. one episode every three weeks) we would need a minimum of $200000 per episode. I expect it to run $350000 per episode.

So... if you want independently produced TV you must come up with that kind of money. $3.6 million per year. Nobody is going to get rich on those sort of numbers.

Realistically, if you want to attract good qualified people and give them all the gear they need, then you should double that figure for a 13 episode series. If you want a 20 episode season, there are more economies to be had so figure 10 million or so.

about 4 years ago
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The Software That Failed To Compete With Windows

aibrahim Re:OS/2 (347 comments)

I guess you never know who you'll run into on the Internets

about 4 years ago
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Filmmakers Resisting Hollywood's 3-D Push

aibrahim 3D is fine, making films shot in 2D into 3D is bad (521 comments)

3D, in its current form, is just another way to get the viewer involved in the space of a film. Its just a technique... and like any technique can be badly misused or carefully applied. Just like the transition from black an white to color photography, it takes time for people to learn how to use it to tell stories effectively.

What I abhor as a film maker is the desire by studios to convert films shot in 2D, with no regard to "into the plane" or "out of the plane" effects into 3D films. Its true that 3D is just a gimmick when implemented this way- and it can lead to a very unpleasant viewing experience.

One of the key elements to be reconsidered when shooting 3D is the amount of camera movement to use as well as the level of backlighting. Both of these techniques are used to enhance the sense of space in the film... by separating subjects from the background and by taking viewers on a tour of the environment. I believe that directors and cinematographers need to focus on showing the environment more simply with wider shots. Its almost required to turn back the clock in terms of cinematic motion. We need to use less movement and make that movement more subtle. This flies in the face of the MTV inspired cinema trends of wild dutch angles and whipsaw motion, as seen in Abrams Star Trek film. The use of backlighting is still a question up in the air for me. I think we still need it, but we can turn down the levels a bit.

Also to be reconsidered is the use of selective focus. (Typically done by using shallow depth of field.) We do this in order to help viewers know what we want them to pay attention to in the frame, for example racking back and forth between two speakers in a two shot. The problem is that in the real world the viewer always chooses when to look at whom, whereas in film the director, cinematographer, 1st camera assistant (or focus puller) and editor make these choices. We've learned to just follow along in 2D film as we percieve 2D to be an abstraction. 3D comes closer to a real world experience, and we expect more of the freedoms we are used to in the real world. We want to look where we want to look. So, if we look at the "wrong" persons face we are subtly frustrated as viewers.

Furthermore, how our eyes and brain react to out of focus areas is different in 2D and 3D. In 2D we accept that what we are looking at is blurry, and our eyes just slide over to the more interesting in focus areas. In 3D we tend to believe that the out of focus areas have sharp detail, and we start to attempt to bring them into focus rather than simply looking away. This is a subtle but important fact, and it can be a major source of eyestrain in current 3D film viewing.

Finally, I am not a huge fan of "out of the plane" effects, like an axe being thrown into the audience. (From the trailer to the upcoming Resident Evil movie). They are only appropriate very occasionally- and usually in the same places where you would have an object move directly towards the camera lens in 2D film making. More often, the 3D space should be treated as a window into another world we are looking into- and most of the 3D effect should be "into the plane," showing depth and perspective. We should use wider angle lenses to emphasize that perspective, and give viewers more time to absorb the scene before moving into it.

If you compare Avatar to other films you'll see that Cameron and Mauro Fiore (the cinematographer) followed my advice... they moved the camera more circumspectly and they used cameras and lighting to allow much deeper focus than normal. The story was paced so as to allow you to "go sightseeing" on Pandora (the fictional setting of the film, if you have not seen it) and even the fast action scenes used a more distant camera with a broader view than has become typical in order to let the viewer follow the action they chose to show us, rather than just wrenching your attention around like the Bourne films might.

3D can be done well, and it allows film makers to tell good stories. I can not wait to direct and photograph my first 3D productions, but in the meantime I am just taking it all in... the good and the bad, and trying to learn the new rules of film making. On the flip side, while adding 3D can make a film more profitable, it also adds a tremendous expense, and its very hard to do well. I am staying away from working 3D until I have all the tools, crew and knowledge I need in order to do it properly.

more than 4 years ago
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Why Apple Doesn't Market Squarely To Businesses

aibrahim Re:I can think of two reasons (510 comments)

Adobe products on Windows don't give the same level of critical color performance as Adobe products on OS X.

If you are a creative, Macs really are the very best computing solution in the market right now.

You can't solve every user problem with a $500 Dell. That's why Dell makes more expensive machines.

That said- one way to really increase availability of those Macs running creative applications is to sit a Windows machine in the same cubicle to handle "routine" business email web etc. I'm actually setting that up in my home studio today. I'm actually using a 2GHz Pentium 4. I think thats more than enough for office, mail and web browsing. (Although I am thinking about increasing RAM to 1GB from 512 for that machine... and eventually replacing it with Mac Mini/iMac and an iPad. I expect to replace my Powe Mac G5 with a Mac Pro and a Macbook Pro by the same token.)

more than 4 years ago
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Dying Man Shares Unseen Challenger Video

aibrahim Re:25 year old Betamax tape still readable (266 comments)

Clearly Spy Handler was referring to the DRM not the inherent quality of the media.

I think that for any DRM to be protected by laws like DMCA or, for media that uses DRM, basic copyright, it must be handed over in its entirety to the Library of Congress and the NSA. This ensures that we can play that media back when its outlived its technological lifetime.

more than 4 years ago
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What SciFi Should Get the Reboot Treatment Next?

aibrahim The Star Wars Prequels (922 comments)

They really could use serious re-imagining.

Done well it could even follow through the "original" 9 features Lucas envisioned.

New director and writers though.

Heck, I'll do it. I'd be happy to. I'd like to see 3D IMAX happen too. These movies can be absolutely huge again, and there is a good story thread throughout the saga- including the parts we haven't seen yet after the fall of the emperor.

more than 4 years ago
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The Mathletes and the Miley Photoshop

aibrahim Interesting- points to a need for further research (555 comments)

There are a lot of posts talking about how flawed this survey is.

They are all at least partly correct.

In pointing this out they all miss the point completely. This is an interesting survey, and it came up with an interesting result.

No- you shouldn't just believe it. Its merely a first pointer at an idea which is interesting enough to merit further research conducted more rigorously. Hopefully some researcher more qualified than this person will be intrigued and look into the question more thoroughly.

Despite being a bad survey, this, to the best of my knowledge, is the best survey and analysis regarding this topic available. There may be others, and I'd love to have them pointed out. Until there is better evidence, it may be worthwhile to keep this in mind as an interesting statistical correlation, form hypothesis about why the correlation might exist, and consider possible impacts of various hypothesis in the real world.

As pointed out, several times in this post and elsewhere, you should be on the look out for better research. You should guard against making this a part of your world view.

So, in summary its interesting. Keep it in mind. Maybe someone should take a closer look at the question. Not the study, the actual question.

more than 5 years ago
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What Can I Do About Book Pirates?

aibrahim Re:Change your business model (987 comments)

Theres a video of a cat riding a roomba on youtube? Why am I reading this crappy thread?

More importantly, why didn't you include the link?

more than 5 years ago
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HP Introduces First-Ever 30-bit, 1 Billion Color Display

aibrahim Re:"considered color critical"? (236 comments)

Just checked the Specs... there appears to be no SDI option, so this is going to limit how some people can use these monitors.

The component inputs can be used in a pinch, but they really just don't cut it for many professional uses (particularly in HD broadcast or film post.)

Of course near this price point the broadcast video market is filled with 24 bit 4:2:2 color displays, like the Sony LMD-2450. (The 2450WHD model shown in the sidebar includes the SDI i/o option board.)

This is probably most useful for 3D artists and digital compositors (You know the people Dreamworks has plenty of), as opposed to editors and color correction folks. Those people need to see things in the right color spaces- but they don't deal directly with output, so the images can be adjusted if needed down the line, most likely in finishing or DI.

more than 6 years ago

Submissions

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aibrahim aibrahim writes  |  more than 7 years ago

aibrahim writes "Hate dishes? the DishMaker is a prototype for a new kind of appliance that can replace dishes altogether by making cups, bowls and plates on demand and recycling them when you're done. The DishMaker takes advantage of a little-known shape-memory property of acrylic. Video at YouTube."

Journals

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Episode 2 DVD: A Filmmakers Review

aibrahim aibrahim writes  |  more than 12 years ago

Well, I've seen the thing and about the film itself, I can say it is in fact episode 2. I refuse to concern myself with Episode 2's relative merits as a film.

The transfer was done with reasonable quality, and there are not many noticeable compression artifacts. Overall it is technically a good DVD. Did anyone expect any less from Lucasfilm on a Star Wars release ?

It is the disc 2 contents that are of interest to me. Special features have the tantalizing potential to almost serve as a text for the filmmaking process. The Episode 2 DVD gives some of the best notions of how this could have been, but was not.

There is a documentary on character animation for Yoda and Jettster entitled From Puppets to Pixels. This covers things more from the artistic side than the technical. So, you won't learn any tricks about character rigging or lighting, stuff I would very much like to hear about. You will however get insight into what it takes to make Yoda move in the CG realm. What always surprises me, even when I am busy doing it, is how much acting an animator does in front of mirrors in order to get a CG character to move as they wish.

On the plus side technically, they do show a light ball. Basically this is a sphere with neutral gray on one side and chromed on the other side. Once elements for a shot are gathered, an animator will walk through the set with the light ball to gather reference data on the lighting set up on set that day. This helps to eventually integrate CG elements into a scene by givingg an animator or compositor information with which to match the lighting set up on set.

The other major documentary on disc 2, State of the Art: The Previsualization of Episode 2 is about the process of digital filmmaking from Lucas's perspective. One of the biggest changes is how movies can now step away from the notion of storyboards and into previsualization using 3D animation. I was rather happy to see this as I have been espousing this technique for two years, but people have been naysaying me. I know that by including this documentary Lucas has made my life easier, at least as far as pitching my notions for 21st century filmmaking processes goes.

The Third documentary, Films are not Released; They Escape is an insight into sound recording for the film. It really just shows people going out and collecting audio clips of interest. As usual the technical details are almost non-existent but you do get a great sense of enthusiasm for the sound collection process. What I really wanted to see more of is the in depth info on how they manipulated some of the sounds they collected to create the sounds for Episode 2. What parts of the original recording did they take, how did they process it ? What did they add ?

One of the web featurettes entitled Here We Go Again covers the use of 1080p HD Video as an acquisistion format. Still, it really adds little to the film vs. HD debate that often rages on USENET. It starts with august cinematographers commenting on how it wouldn't work. Episode 2 is a testament to the fact that they weren't quite right.

It also covers the idea of shooting elements rather than scenes. Essentially the entire film is meant to be an effects shot. Various production personnel talk about the benefits of HD. It just killed me to see an assistant editor hold up a small plastic bin with the days shooting. That is pretty much unheard of on a Hollywood production.

The benefits are obvious in terms of being able to review film immediately, on the set. The chemical film process, where you had to send film out for development at a lab, was, to my mind, a real impediment to free and fluid filmmaking. At best you'd see the results of your work (dailies) the next day. If you were on location you might not see dailies until after you were back in NYC or LA.

There is some complaint about not being able to move the camera freely with all the cables tethered to it, but what the documentary fails to mention is that these cables are only needed if you want to have a pile of monitors hooked up for on set review of footage. You can certainly unhook all the cables and run with the camera if you are so inclined. This still leaves you with an advantage. You can take the tape, drop it into a deck on set and still get everyone to look at the footage minutes after it is shot. While not as nice as having everyone looking at the scene as it is shot, this is still a vast improvement on the lab process. But I digress...

Overall this is definitely on of the best DVD's out there for content that a filmmaker could learn from, but it leaves a lot lacking. The 4 DVD edition of LOTR Fellowship, Episode 1 and Final Fantasy are the only DVD sets I would put in its league from this perspective.

Let me sound the clarion for a new idea in DVD packaging and production. I suggest a new DVD edition...the filmmaker's edition. Fill it chock full of nitty gritty technical process information about filmmaking as seen on the movie in question. Leave my filmmaker's mind swollen and bruised from cramming all that useful info into it.

While this may be a relatively niche market, I know it is a growing one with the current desktop digital video revolution. There are a lot of people out there spending a lot of money for this type of information in the subpar medium of the printed word. It can be very hard to understand film grammar, for examplee, in a text. It seems that the ideal medium for conveying this sort of very important information is being ignored.

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aibrahim aibrahim writes  |  more than 12 years ago

I suppose I'll mostly be talking to myself...but if you are interested then I'll be rattling away stuff here.

My personal site which never gets any attention.

I'll try to update it once every now and again.

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