EXTRA! EXTRA! Technology and Academy Awards: Connections #69

NAB 2013.   Model of Black Magic's new 4K Camera.

NAB 2013. Model of Black Magic’s new 4K Camera.

     Last year I attended NAB — the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Black Magic announced it would deliver a Cinema Camera with 4K resolution for $3,999.  Well, it has taken them almost one year to deliver this camera to the folks who want it.  It is a great camera for a very low price.  The marketing talk was “4K for 4K (four thousand dollars) but Black Magic did themselves  one step better.  It’s now 4K for a ridiculously low price of $2,999.  And it includes their hi-end post production color timing tool Resolve.

     This Sunday night is the Academy Awards.  Who will win?  Who will lose?  But in  truth everyone nominated is a winner.

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EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL: CONNECTIONS #67

Green Screen Shoot on 12/30/13

Green Screen Shoot on 12/30/13

     This year is ending on a high note for me.  Yesterday, December 30th I directed a green screen shoot with actor Martin Bell at Prestige Studios in Hollywood, California.  This shot is VFX 1 and the actor standing  at the podium behind the camera slate will be digitally composited with the stage of Miami Auditorium at it would have looked during the Miami Beach High School graduation ceremony in 1956.

Director John Orland telling actor Martin Bell how to wave cashiers check in the air.

Director John Orland telling actor Martin Bell how to wave cashiers check in the air.  Note the American Flag has only 48 stars because this scene takes place in 1956

     I am always the first person to arrive at a location and the last one to leave, and yesterday was no different.  So, for me, it was a 15 hour day.  No complaints, though, because I love to make movies.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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EXTRA! EXTRA! Cinerama Dome’s 50th Birthday: Connections #65

     November 7th, 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California.

     November 7th, 1963 I was a newreel cameraman for KHJ-TV in Los Angeles.  The occasion was the world première of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” in a theatre based on a geodesic dome developed by R. Buckmaster Fuller.  This premier marked the dawn of “single lens” Cinerama.

Photo of the Cinerama Dome on November 7, 1963

Photo of the Cinerama Dome on November 7, 1963

     Directed by Stanley Kramer, the cast was outstanding: Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, Jonathan Winters, Edie Adams, and a host of other stars including legendary Buster Keaton.

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EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS News and Nostalga: Connections #60

      Jonathan Winters recently passed away  in Montecito, CA, and it brought back memories of the ’60s when I worked as a newsreel cameraman in Los Angeles for Channel 9, KHJ-TV.  I had a special license plate on my car.  It was exactly like the one in this picture, but without the license plate holder and the words “SLO Skiers.”  This was during the days when gas station attendants filled up your tank with gas.  So many attendants would ask me what the “PP” meant.  These were the days of the 20th Century Fox TV hit “Payton Place.” Of course, I would always reply “Payton Place.”

PP License Plate

PP License Plate

     I covered hundreds, maybe thousands of news stories and one of them was the world premiere of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” which also happened to be the grand opening of the newly built Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

     Recently while I was supervising some video mastering of “Atlas Shrugged – The Strike” at FotoKem in Burbank, I saw this picture of the premiere of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” on the wall in the lobby of the Conversions Department.  The place has lots of expensive video recorders, monitors, etc.  You don’t want to have to pay the monthly electrical bill to power this equipment, and dozens of skilled technicians inhabit this place, which is not cheap, either.

     Getting back to this picture,  I think I can recognize myself in the crowd of photographers and newsreel cameramen outside on the sidewalk. If you look very carefully, you can see the reflection of me taking this picture.  In show biz, this is a twofer.  Oh well, I’m not a comedian.

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World Premier at new Cinerama Dome in Hollywood

EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS Fuel for the System: Connections #59

     I was never very good at English composition in Grade School.  Two reasons:  I was tall for my age and was usually assigned the last seat in the last row.  The second reason is that I was a poor speller, so I substituted simpler words to replace the words I couldn’t spell.  Gold stars were important to me .  Also, because I didn’t test well in aptitude tests I thought I was dumb.  I did have trouble speaking and reading at an early age, so much so that I made up my own language.  I remember one word in particular:  “dum-dum” meant “water.”  Where that came from I will never know.

     After my traumatic first experience seeing a movie, and my parents taking me to a projection room to see the projector casting the beam of light with the image onto the silver screen, I fell in love with movies.  A movie theatre was a place I could escape my shyness and stare at the people on the movie screen without them staring back at me.

     All of this leads up to now.  i love writing screenplays.  I choose places and situations I know very little about to become the “world” for the characters to populate.  Research is time-consuming but I enjoy learning new things.  I have been working on my current project for 2-1/2 years.  A lot of time you might say but it has been a very busy period of my life.  My goal is to complete a first draft of this screenplay by my birthday, July 18th.

     During the past 2-1/2 years,  I’ve moved from West Los Angeles to Summerland, CA.  I have Post Produced five theatrical motion pictures.  The two highest profile films are “Atlas Shrugged Part I” and “Atlas Shrugged Part ll.”  On another film, I worked in Detroit, Michigan, because of the state’s tax incentives.  California must do a better job of  giving incentives to producers to keep production in this state.  Practically every state in the U.S.  is offering economic incentives to lure producers to shoot movies and TV shows in their home states.  Same with other countries.  The world might be an oyster but the pearl is still Hollywood.

     On another front, I have developed two screenplays with a new writer, Michael Thomas Daniel, who lived with my wife and me for four plus months while he wrote these two screenplays.  I  have begun the process of setting up these two truly amazing screenplays with A-List people in Hollywood.  But it is a difficult task because ninety-five percent of the screenplays being submitted are less than professional level, so agents and personal managers have built walls around their creative castles to protect themselves from drowning in a sea of crap.  The mission to get someone to want to read a screenplay is to convince them you have something really special, but everyone says that.  My mission remains, fueled by my steadfast belief in these two screenplays, knowing they will make wonderful films.  Stay tuned!

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EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS What Month is this? Connections #53

     I’ve just returned to my Hotel in North Hollywood, California, after a demanding but satisfying day working on the feature film “Atlas Shrugged Part ll.”  I started to work on Atlas on April 2nd this year, and we will open in at least 650 theaters nationwide on October 12th.  The movie is full of visual effects created by our talented in-house visual effects team, four vendors in Hollywood, and one VFX house in China.  I am Post Production Producer on this movie.   Trailers for the movie start playing in theaters next weekend.  The film has a rabid, almost fanatical fan base who worship its’ author Ayn Rand, the book first published in 1957 has been a best-seller since then.

     No one will ever know how much hard work goes into the making of a movie, some turn out to be good and some are failures.  But the craftspeople behind the scenes put in the same effort on every movie and everyone hopes the movie they’ve worked on will be a huge success.

       I know lots of eyeballs will be focused on “Atlas Shrugged Part ll,” and there will be both good and bad press reviews.  With the Presidential election occurring a little over a month later, it will be interesting to sit back and be entertained by people whose Hot Button will be pressed by the Ayn Rand’s movie.

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