Filmmaker Magazine: Expert Tips for First-Time Documentary Filmmakers (Like Myself)

http://filmmakermagazine.com/99434-expert-tips-for-first-time-documentary-filmmakers-like-myself/

“Months ago, I got the crazy idea to write, produce and direct my first documentary. I wasn’t completely unrealistic — I knew enough to start small with a short, micro-budgetfilm. I also knew I could count on a supportive network of documentary filmmakers — including pros such as Doug Block, Marshall Curry, Laura Nix, Tracy Droz Tragos, Robert Greene, and others — to help guide me through the process. Later in this piece, I’ll share some of their invaluable wisdom. But first, here’s a bit about my film and my process so far….”

Capture One Pro 10.1 Update Improves Fujifilm X-Trans Support, Enhances Styles Workflow, and More

Phase One has released its first major update of the year for raw processing powerhouse application Capture One Pro, making its latest version 10.1, and it brings a slew of new and improved features. My two favourites of the list are a major enhancement to CP1’s styles workflow and greatly improved, speed-boosted support for Fujifilm’s X-Trans sensor cameras such as the X-Pro2 and X-T2. But wait, there’s more, including improvements to CP1’s support for Photoshop .PSD files for those who finish their images in Adobe’s image editing software, a before/after function via a temporary adjustment’s reset, tokenized image watermarking and new Applescript support. Lastly, C1P adds support for a range of cameras including the Sony A9, Fujifilm X-T20 and the Panasonic Lumix GH5, and lenses from a range of camera and lens makers. 

Snapshot made on my X-Pro2 from a walk along the sunny ridge road near our former home across the valley. I chose the Provia Sternfeld film simulation by Peter Dareth Evans for the JPEG and in-camera preview then processed the raw file in Capture One Pro 10.1 using presets by Image Alchemist and the 012 Kodak Portra 160 film simulation style from Alexander Svet’s Capture One Film Styles Extended.

One of those newly-supported lenses is the Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric standard lens that came with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 in a Panasonic Australia marketing promotion. The 25mm f/1.7 is an underestimated lens that I have come to appreciate especially attached to the GX8 when I use it to simulate shooting with a Rolleiflex twin lens reflex camera, the GX8’s EVF tilted upwards for discrete waist level shots in city crowds. I look forward to seeing C1P’s support for it in action soon.

The GX8 and its tilting EVF may be the closest we will come to the Rolleiflex waist level shooting style in the digital era, though the Fujifilm GFX 50s’ optional EVF tilt adapter may be a good simulation in combination with the camera’s 1:1 aspect ratio setting and its GF63mmF2.8 R WR standard lens.

Capture One Pro 10.1’s much improved Styles and Presets functionality

I am far from expert in the many ins and outs of Phase One’s Capture One Pro raw processor, so best to hand you over to three of the Capture One Pro experts in Alexander Svet of Capture One Film Styles, Paul Steunebrink of Image Alchemist and Phase One’s Image Quality Professor.

For me the most impressive improvement in Capture One Pro 10.1 is its handling of styles and presets. In previous versions, whipping through and previewing the effect of presets and styles on your images was a messy affair with the image covered with dropdown menu items to the point where the image was barely visible. Version 10.1 locates all your styles and presets, built-in, custom and third-party, in its own Styles and Presets tool, neatly arranged to find them more easily without occluding the image upon which you are working.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image processed in Alien Skin Exposure X2 using the Kodachrome 35mm old preset.

ON1 Photo Raw 2017 Updated, Improved Fujifilm Raw Support, ON1 Photo Kit: Raw 2017 Essentials Now Available at Discount

ON1 Photo Raw 2017, the standalone non-destructive raw processor and image editor cum mega plug-in suite for your favourite image editor, has been updated to version 2017.0.2 with improvements for Fujifilm camera users, raw file support for a range of new cameras as well as performance updates and bug fixes. 

From the ON1 blog post:

  • Added support for Compressed Lossless Fujifilm RAW photos.
  • Improved processing quality for Fujifilm Trans sensors.
  • Improved highlight recovery.
  • New raw file support for cameras including Olympus SH-2, E-M5 MKII, E-M1 MKII, Pentax K5 II, Nikon D5600, Panasonic DMC FZ2000, Panasonic DMC G2, Panasonic DMC G5, Panasonic DMC TZ80, Leica M10, Leica TL, Canon EOS 500D, Panasonic DMC LX15.
  • Over 20 improvements to performance in Browse which is an area ON1 will continue improving.
  • Several more performance updates and bug fixes are also included in this release.

ON1, Inc. also recently announced is ON1 Photo Kit: Raw 2017 Essentials including ebooks, workflow training videos and presets, all invaluable aids to getting the best out of your images and out of the huge range of tools that comprise ON1 Photo Raw 2017.

This last year, 2016-2017, has seen some exciting developments in stills photography software and hardware, and I look forward to seeing how ON1 Photo Raw 2017 develops over the coming months.

Although this current updater does not support raw files from Fujifilm’s X100F – currently being trialled here for review soon – I am confident that support for this amazing new version of the classic X100 will be coming shortly as well as for Fujifilm’s other imminent new camera releases such as the X-T20 and the GFX 50S.

Postscript:

ON1 Photo Kit: Raw Essentials has now been released and is available at a discount price of US$49.99 for a limited time only.

Links:

3D LUT Maker Rocket Rooster is Offering 30% Off Huge Film Looks 3D LUT Bundle

Specialist looks LUT specialist Rocket Rooster creates some impressive collections of analog film-inspired 3D LUTs for quickly and easily achieving cinematic colour grades in your preferred non-liner editing software (NLE) or colour grading suite.

Right now, the company is offering its largest film stock emulation LUT bundle, combining all previous Analog Cinema packs with the Cinema Colour II (Extended Edition) pack, comprising hundreds of top quality cinematic 3D LUTs.

Rocket Rooster’s 30%-off special offer extends until the end of this weekend, until the end of February 19, and then the Rocket Rooster Film Bundle reverts to its usual price.

Link:

Take Back Your Movies from the Gatekeepers with LumaForge’s Free 5-Part ‘Off the Grid’ Workflow Training

Independent moviemaking has been undergoing a sure and steady process of rebirth since Canon accidentally kicked off the DSLR video revolution with the EOS 5D Mark II hybrid stills/video camera in 2008.

Indie filmmaking’s evolution since then has followed a rocky path, with hardware, software and workflows evolving at different paces.

Workflows have lagged behind hardware and software, but now, it is poised to catch up with Final Cut Pro X workflow experts LumaForge releasing their five-part training series Off the Grid via movie industry website fcp.com.

Part one, Off The Grid: A Modern FCPX-RED-Resolve Narrative Workflow – Part 1- Introduction and On-Set Editorial, signals that the series is based on a We Make Movies TV pilot named Off the Grid, shot with RED digital cinema cameras and using Apple’s Final Cut Pro X and Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve in the post-production to release process along with a number of third-party desktop and mobile applications.

The authors of the Off the Grid training, Australian-in-LA editor, colorist and producer Sam Mestman and Patrick Southern, Chief Workflow Engineer at LumaForge, describe the training series thus:

This 5 part series should be looked at as a cheat sheet on how to make a movie, pilot, or doc without limits in the modern age.

My hope then is that Off the Grid will be as instructive for self-funded one-person-crew independent moviemakers working with affordable but high quality small cameras like the coming Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 as those with bigger budgets and multiple crew-members using larger camera systems like those made by RED.

As my own broadcast and film festival moviemaking experiences have indicated, modern moviemaking at all levels is subject to the whims of a gauntlet of gatekeepers anyone of whom can sink your project without a trace.

Even if you manage to fund and shoot all your footage and record all your audio, then take it to rough or final cut by yourself, you are still dependent on funders, broadcasters and post-production houses to get your movie to a broadcastable or projectable stage.

As Mestman and Southern so aptly state:

Filmmaking is the only artistic medium where most artists can’t afford to make their art the way they want to. My aim is to remove that hurdle along with all others so the only limitation in making a movie is one’s own creativity.

A terrific statement from at least one member of We Make Movies, a community-funded production company with the inspirational mottos “Dedicated to making the movie industry not suck.” and  “The DIY film collective that’s got your back.”

The Off the Grid Training:

Image Credits:

Header photoillustration aka featured image created for this website in Photoshop by Carmel D. Morris.

Kyno, the Last Big Missing Piece in a Professional Stills, Video and Audio Workflow?

While going through the long, bureaucracy-dominated process of financing our projects including this one, ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’, I have been looking for the hardware, software and workflows to best support ‘Untitled’ when self-funding and serious production can finally begin. 

ss_kyno_442px
My default Kyno workspace.

These last couple of years have seen some amazing advances in audio, stills and video hardware and software, but during the search process I identified one last missing piece in the equation, a versatile, up-to-date media management solution for audio, photography and video.

Digital asset management (DAM) has been the subject of some highly regarded books and was much discussed several years ago but seems to have fallen off the radar lately. Of course, reality as manifested offline in industry trade shows and other gatherings overseas may be entirely different.

I used a range of media management and digital asset management systems, in the course of working in agencies, for magazine publishers, online publishers and in-house production facilities for corporations.

Most were big-ticket items aimed squarely at the corporate sector but my favourite was a shareware product that anyone could afford and that could handle just about any type of media file thrown at it. It had its glitches, but it was essential to work that required a wide range of file types. Its name was iView Media Pro. And then it vanished, later to resurface as Phase One’s Media Pro SE.

Neat, simple, clean, powerful: the Kyno interface.

In the years since I have tried numerous other solutions but none really cut it. Some were applications that also had browser or catalog functions, some were big-end-of-town media catalogers that I could not personally afford and some were discontinued just when I started to really need them. None of them handled audio, stills and video files equally well.

ss_kyno_ui_05Often I ended up trying separate management solutions for each of the three types of media, a ridiculous situation given that contemporary media production often requires all three media formats combined into various forms of output. Photo slideshows with soundtracks. Videos combining all three with equal importance. Time-lapse sequences and big collections of photographs with Ken Burns effects applied, for standalone use or as parts of larger projects.

Then there were the utility programs needed to playback, handle, annotate, process and convert the three different file types. Add all those software licences up and it comes to a pretty hefty figure. And, almost none of those separate applications talk to each other.

ss_kyno_ui_06So I had very high hopes when fcp.co published an article about Kyno, an “all-in-one media management app” by Lesspain Software. Somehow I had missed the initial Kyno product announcement, perhaps as I have had to concentrate on low upload bandwidth stills photography for a while due to the National Broadband Network failing to come to this cluster of northern Sydney suburbs.

ss_kyno_ui_02I have been taking advantage of Kyno’s 14-day trial period to determine if the perfect media management solution for all three media types, audio, stills and video, has finally arrived. Right now, it is an almost-but-not-quite situation.

Kyno has some excellent audio and video features but its stills photography handling lacks one big functionality – universal raw file support. Kyno currently displays raw files from cameras I no longer use, Canon cameras, and Panasonic Lumix cameras I use primarily for video, but it fails to recognise that raw files from Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X-T2 cameras exist.

ss_kyno_ui_03This is disappointing given the major inroads many mirrorless cameras are making into cinematography and stills photography and how essential I for one find integrating stills into my media production work. This absence means I cannot pull the trigger on a Kyno licence at the moment.

Surprising too because Apple and the LibRaw team (makers of the excellent Fujifilm-raw-savvy FastRawViewer) provide support for a wide range of digital raw files meaning third party software makers can use that to add support into their own products, as I was informed by a dedicated stills software maker the other day.

ss_kyno_ui_04“We do have plans to offer raw support in a future version of Kyno,” is the FAQ answer to “Will Kyno support raw formats?” but that answer is to do with “integration of DNG from Blackmagic Design cameras and RED (R3D)”. I certainly hope that those plans include support for Fujifilm raw stills files too.

Another FAQ, “Is Kyno a Media Asset Management System?”, answers that Kyno “is much more light-weight than typical MAMs because it does not require an import/ingest step before you can do something useful with your material” along with “but its scope is currently rather a very light-weight support of production processes rather than long-term archival”.

That lack of import or ingest is key for my needs. The last thing I need is yet another great-looking media management application that demands time-consuming importing or ingesting and creation of often-bloated catalog or database files. Worse, a solution that, having worked okay for some time, is discontinued or sold off then suddenly priced beyond my reach.

Kyno’s no ingest, import, catalog or database functionality has resulted in operational simplicity and speed, and avoids a dependency that may result in disappointment and the loss of years’ worth of archiving work.

If Lesspain can add Fujifilm raw stills file support to Kyno then they will have a new customer, or at least my software wishlist will be gaining a new entry right up there at the very top.

Postscript:

The Kyno crew tells me that “we’ll look into Fujifilm raw still support for the next update”.