Wednesday, November 07, 2018

"Patriot Games" Diopter


Vashi Nedomansky and I joke around a lot about split diopters on Twitter, so it's time for some real talk. Shoved smack in the middle of a traditional Hollywood narrative film, they're jarring and bizarre. And the best use cases for split diopters take advantage of this. Out of context and as a still frame, this split diopter shot from "Patriot Games" (1992) seems utterly ridiculous.

"Two planes of sharpness? The only shot in the movie where this happens? Puh-leeze. It's a trick shot. The cinematographer is just showing off, whatever."

But here's the shot in context. Ryan is desperately trying to piece together fragments of his memory from the traumatic event that opened the film. The split diopter shot is from the point of view of his memory, not an omniscient, objective observer. It's supposed to be weird.


The bizarre visual nature of the split diopter feels right at home for a dream sequence, or a personal flashback moment--the shot is literally Ryan's POV as he's visually searching his memories for details, looking for evidence. An innovative use of the split focus shot.






Sunday, October 14, 2018

"Caddyshack" Long Lens Focus



A shot from "Caddyshack" (1980), filmed with a long lens, with a dramatic focus change. The same shot at 8x speed.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Robert Patrick, "T2" and Blinking


For "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991), Robert Patrick learned how to fire a gun without blinking, to prepare for his role as the T-1000, a killer robot.

πŸŽ₯ 4 shots
πŸ€– 16 rounds
πŸ‘ 1 blink

The GIF at the top of this post is real-time, as it was seen in the film. If It Were Made Today™: would still have Patrick train to fire the weapon without blinking; the one blink in this sequence could be digitally painted out by a talented paint artist.






Original tweet. 



Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Cold Open for "Better Call Saul"


The cold open montage from “Better Call Saul” S4E07 is one for the ages. A narrative and technical masterpiece.

✂️ Edited by Skip Macdonald
⌨️ Written by Alison Tatlock
πŸŽ₯ Directed by Deborah Chow

original tweet



Apple Event Film 2018 vs. "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol"


While the music was from “Fallout”, the inspiration for Apple’s terrific opening film for the iPhone event was clearly “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol”.

direct YouTube link



Monday, September 17, 2018

Twitter and Quote Tweets


Seems to me that Twitter should allow users to easily be able to view all "Quote Tweets", just like users can easily list a Tweet's Likes and Retweets.

My quick and dirty mockup of how Twitter could implement Quote Tweet tracking. Clicking on the "Quote Tweets" gives you all the instances, which is just a Twitter search for the URL of the original Tweet. This seems like low-hanging fruit.



My original tweet.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Birth of Sandman


For my money, one of the great visual effects shots of all time. "Spider-Man 3" (2007), with visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks.


direct YouTube link



Thursday, September 13, 2018

When You "Buy" a Movie on iTunes



There's been a lot of chatter about what exactly does it mean to "buy" a movie from iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, or any of the other online movie services.


Rene Ritchie says that when iTunes severs a licensing agreement for a particular film, the film disappears from the iTunes Store. You can no longer stream the film from Apple servers, even if you "bought" it. (However, if at some point you had downloaded the movie to your Mac/iPhone, you would still be able to watch that movie, even after it leaves the store, apparently.)

If Apple (and Amazon Prime Video, Comcast, etc.) were a little more honest about what it meant to "Buy" a movie on their service, I think the user interface buttons would look a little different.







Wednesday, September 12, 2018

An Editing Trick in "Terminator 2" and "The Road Warrior"


To add impact to a shocking moment of extreme violence, director Jim Cameron and the editors of "Terminator 2" used a very old-fashioned, low-tech editing trick.


A single frame of solid white was added into the edit precisely at the moment of impact. Nestled within a predominantly dark sequence, the quick 1/24th-of-a-second flash of bright light shocks the audience and makes the moment that much more striking.


"Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior" (1982): another example of adding a single bright frame in the middle of the edit to intensify a moment of personal violence.


Unlike the "T2" example, the frame is a single frame of overexposure (rather than a white solid color).


There's also jump cut to a different take a just before the head butt, which is hardly noticeable in real-time, especially with the added subsequent flash frame.


Another example from "The Road Warrior", again with a single frame of overexposure to punctuate the impact.








Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Myth of the "Jaws" Shooting Star


The GIFs below were part of a Tweetstorm where I attempted to debunk the whole "the Jaws shooting stars were real and actually happened on camera" mythology. These read better as tweets than as a blog post, so see the thread here, if you want.

All these "Jaws" tweets reminds me to dig up my half-finished project files debunking the whole "those shooting stars were real" myth.

A'ight , I'm just going to post these in their current state, w/no context. I planned to talk day-for-night, fast lenses, film stock, exposure of stars, depth of field, motion blur, tracking, hand-drawn animation composited into live-action... but nobody's got time for that.

I planned to talk day-for-night, fast lenses, film stock, exposure of stars, depth of field, motion blur, tracking, hand-drawn animation composited into live-action... but nobody's got time for that.



For more reactions, visit the original Twitter thread.


Motion Smoothing is Bad


Just about every single TV sold in the U.S. has ‘motion smoothing’ switched on by default.

The TV attempts to create additional temporal frames, to make the motion feel “smoother” and less jerky. This makes movies (shot and projected at 24fps) appear smeary and wrong.

Films seen on a TV with motion smoothing on are not being presented properly. The “new” look changes the emotional impact of every single scene. This is not how the film was intended to be seen; this is similar to the appalling process of colorizing black & white films.

Check out the Twitter hashtag #tvninja - a TV ninja is someone who stealthily turns off motion smoothing on a TV owned by friends, relatives, or Airbnb.

Directors who have publicly fought motion smoothing include Reed Morano and Rian Johnson, who, as far as I know, came up with the hashtag #tvninja.

More, please.

Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson Battling TV Motion Smoothing


Motion smoothing goes by many different names (Auto Motion Plus, TruMotion, etc.). Turn it off. Here's a great blog post by Stu Maschwitz from 2011 properly titled, "Your New TV Ruins Movies".


"Darth Vader Being a Jerk", HD Restoration


I made a Special Edition High Definition restoration of Doomblake's video, "Darth Vader being a Jerk."

direct link to YouTube

I used an HD source of "The Empire Strikes Back" and did a frame-by-frame restoration of Doomblake's edit. Later, I realized I messed up one of the edits (a second cut to Piett), but I liked my cutaway to Veers more, so I kept it. Making arbitrary changes to source material is a Star Wars Special Edition trademark, so why not continue that tradition. I also added titles, and an actual introduction and conclusion. The audio of the new sequences is mine, but the audio from Doomblake's amazing editing is pure Doomblake.

Update: Doomblake deleted her/his YouTube account, but the good news is that I kept an archive copy of the clip.


A Low-Tech Effects Shot from "Mission: Impossible III"


This is one of director J.J. Abrams' favorite visual effects shots from his film, "Mission: Impossible III". Rather than have actor Eddie Marsan forcibly shove the prop into Tom Cruise's nose, J.J. came up with a different idea on how to accomplish the shot.

direct link to YouTube

Watch his full TED talk from March 2007 here.



Interview with "Rogue One" Animation Supervisor Hal Hickel

Hal Hickel, promoting "Rogue One" on home video, with Alan Tudyk (voice of K-2SO)

If you want to hear a fun interview with ILM animation supervisor Hal Hickel, check out his appearance on the podcast Talking Bay 94, episode 15. Hal talks about his career, how we made Tarkin and Leia for "Rogue One", and about those amazing Yoda “Empire” tests that I’ve seen with my own eyes.

Overcast link: https://overcast.fm/+NSZm6kEaA

iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/talking-bay-94/id1388494261?mt=2



Monday, September 10, 2018

The Cinematography of "Jaws"


I read this somewhere.

In an attempt to answer the question "What is great cinematography?", a solid answer is "if you can jump to any random frame of the movie and it looks *good*, THAT'S great cinematography." 

So I tried that with "Jaws" (1975):


"Jaws" cinematographer Bill Butler was nominated for an Oscar for his work on "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" that same year (1975). He shared the Oscar nomination with Haskell Wexler.