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Recent Shoot Log: UNC-Greensboro “Viral” #1

16 06 2011

It’s been months since the idea of shooting some marketing content for the UNC-Greensboro Office of Online Learning started talks.  If you’ve never worked for a state agency before, then you don’t know what the term “lots of red tape” means.  It takes lots of patience, time, meetings, more meetings, discussions, vetos and did I mention meetings? for ideas and projects to fully get off the ground.  Luckily, however, our division’s new marketing head and team are persistent and do a great job at pushing these projects down the line to let them be the best they can be.

In a world where text-on-a-page Web sites, documents, etc. are taking over our lives in this digital age, we were commissioned to design a marketing campaign promoting our multimedia-infused alternative.  The end result are a series of videos that will show text literally bombarding everyday life.

The first video for this campaign was carefully thought out between Patrick Griffin, A. J. Lee, Brooke Corwin, myself, Bryan Higgins and Jon Fredette.  We decided that the first one would be more of a “draft” than anything.  It was still unclear whether the idea was exactly what the higher-ups were interested in, so we decided to go with one of our many ideas that was the least daunting.  The idea ended up being of a girl, in her cubicle at work, who is caught in a raining “text storm”.

Pre-production was pushed through fairly quickly and we locked a location in our offices; the location ended up being coder, Colin Dai’s, cube.  We had to sissify his cube a bit since it would be a female actress playing the lead role.  The principal role went to actress Elise Duquette (apologies if I spelled this wrong, Elise!) out of the Charlotte area.  With a little time and bringing a female’s touch for a little help, we had a well-dressed location.

The project was lit with a variety of instruments.  All overhead practicals were turned off because of being a low quality fluorescent.  A Jokerbug 800 with 1/2 CTO was bounced off the ceiling for a bit of overall ambience, a 500-watt Lowel Rifa light was used as a key over the front cube wall at an angle, backlight was a 650-watt ARRI with diffusion rigged on a C-Stand in the cube behind, a 250-watt Lowel Pro Light with 216 was placed on the desk to keep exposure on the face when the umbrella went over and two 500-watt Lowel Omni’s with Opal diffusion created the slashes on the cube sides during the pull-back.  To add a bit of spice to the scene, a practical china light was placed on the desk and allowed to highlight out a bit.

A RED One was used to shoot the project in 4k 2:1 24fps mode with a shutter of 1/48.  The original shot was an actual dolly shot that was beautiful, but due to compositing factors, a static was used with a digital zoom added for practicality.  To all you budding cinematographers out there, sometimes it’s not always your favorite shots that get used, but sometimes it’s for the better of the project.

Bryan Higgins, our effects heavy lifter here, spent many hours compositing each of the little “texts” falling.  Afterwards, Jon Fredette did the sound design and I did very minor color tweaks on the final image.  All-in-all, it came out to be a nice little draft; nice enough, in fact, that the division decided to use it as the first of the campaign and commissioned us for two more.  Our second in the series has already been shot and is in the editing phase, and the third (which will be shot on 16mm film) will be produced in the next week.  Updates and posts on those two will be forthcoming.  The video for our first campaign is below (don’t know why the thumbnail looks so funky, but it works out when you play it):

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Warner Home Video to Release Citizen Kane Blu-Ray

16 06 2011

Copyright Warner Home Video

Warner Home Video will be releasing a special 70th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray of Citizen Kane on September 13, 2011.

Long considered one of film’s classic treasures and twice voted by the American Film Institute as the Best Film of All-Time, Citizen Kane was the brain child of 25-year-old Orson Welles, who produced, directed, co-wrote and took the leading role in the film.  After the passing of newspaper magnet Charles Foster Kane (closely modeled after William Randolph Hearst), a newspaperman is sent to find out the meaning of his infamous final words, “Rosebud.”  In doing so, he finds a much more complicated and complex man behind the myth than he could have ever imagined.

The Blu-Ray packaging will include a host of extras including: a 48-page collector’s book, lobby cards, audio commentary by Welles’s friend and accomplished film director Peter Bogdonavich and film critic Roger Ebert, deleted scenes, full-length documentary The Battle Over Citizen Kane, HBO docudrama RKO 281 with Liev Schreiber and James Cromwell, a DVD copy of Welles’s follow-up film The Magnificent Ambersons (which, narratively, The Royal Tenenbaums borrowed heavily from) and much more.

This marks the first time that the classic film has appeared on Blu-Ray and the first time that The Magnificent Ambersons has appeared on any digital medium.  Pre-orders are available now through Amazon.com for $49.99, or minus The Magnificent Ambersons for $44.99.





The Reader (2008) Review

16 06 2011

Copyright 2008 The Weinstein Company

★ ★ ★

I caught this movie just after it was nominated for Best Picture a couple years ago.  I can see why it was nominated only so far as it is the usual style of film that appeals to the Academy (again, period piece, historical, drama – you get the picture).

When a young man named Michael Berg (David Kross) falls ill, he is taken in by an older woman to recoup, Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet).  On return to thank her for her kindness, the two strike up a romantic relationship despite their age difference.  Michael continues visiting and, in addition to their romantic endeavors, reads to her from various classic novels.  One day she disappears and Michael can’t find her anywhere.  Eight years later, he runs into her again while a law student analyzing a criminal trial.  Hanna is one of the women on trial where she is alleged to have been a female guard at the Auschwitz concentration camp.  Without spoiling what happens next, the decision of the trial and occurrences after deeply impact both of their lives.  The older Michael Berg is played by Ralph Fiennes.

The story is structured around three distinct narratives: the early relationship when Michael is a boy, his time as a law student eight years later and, finally, him as a grown man.  The narrative weaves between all three distinct parts of his life.  Though, in premise, the story sounds entertaining, the film as a whole really is a rather bland effort.  The cinematography by Roger Deakins and Chris Menges is outstanding, but other than that, the direction by Stephen Daldry, pacing, acting and story flow all just seem rather boring and cliched.

It’s not a bad film, but how it managed five Academy Award nominations blows my mind.  Kate Winslet won a much deserved career Oscar for this film, but in my opinion, she should have won it for the much better film and performance from this same year, Revolutionary Road.








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