Category: actors


Trump's Fog of WarA blank expression, try, pod, raise a canvas, ink blot, coin, phrase, draw some lines… then cross them, cover them up, add a few more chemicals and what emerges? Is it History, Art or the Art of War History?

World News - US Missile Attack on Syria - Reuters handout

Russia, Iran Warn U.S. They Will “Respond With Force” If Syria “Red Lines” Crossed Again

Competing Gas Pipelines Are Fueling The Syrian War & Migrant Crisis

Don’t let anyone fool you: As we have detailed since 2013, sectarian strife in Syria has been engineered to provide cover for a war for access to oil and gas, and the power and money that come along with it.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect recent Wikileaks revelations of US State Department leaks that show plans to destabilize Syria and overthrow the Syrian government as early as 2006.  The leaks reveal that these plans were given to the US directly from the Israeli government and would be formalized through instigating civil strife and sectarianism through partnership with nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and even Egypt to break down the power structue in Syria to essentially to weaken Iran and Hezbolla. The leaks also reveal Israeli plans to use this crisis to expand it’s occupation of the Golan Heights for additional oil exploration and military expansion.

Images of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who washed up dead on Mediterranean shores in his family’s attempt to flee war-torn Syria, have grabbed the attention of people around the world, sparking outrage about the true costs of war.

The heart-wrenching refugee crisis unfolding across the Middle East and at European borders has ignited a much needed conversation on the ongoing strife and instability that’s driving people from their homes in countries like Syria, Libya and Iraq. It’s brought international attention to the inhumane treatment these refugees are receiving if — and it is a major “if” — they arrive at Europe’s door.

In Syria, for example, foreign powers have sunk the nation into a nightmare combination of civil war, foreign invasion and terrorism. Syrians are in the impossible position of having to choose between living in a warzone, being targeted by groups like ISIS and the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown, or faring dangerous waters with minimal safety equipment only to be denied food, water and safety by European governments if they reach shore.

Other Syrians fleeing the chaos at home have turned to neighboring Arab Muslim countries. Jordan alone has absorbed over half a million Syrian refugees; Lebanon has accepted nearly 1.5 million; and Iraq and Egypt have taken in several hundred thousand.

Although it’s not an Arab nation or even part of the Middle East, Iran sent 150 tons of humanitarian goods, including 3,000 tents and 10,000 blankets, to the Red Crescents of Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon via land routes to be distributed among the Syrian refugees residing in the three countries last year.

Turkey has taken in nearly 2 million refugees to date. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan made international headlines for opening his nation’s arms to migrants, positioning himself as a kind of savior in the process.

A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi after he drowned when the boat he and his family members were in capsized near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (Photo: Nilüfer Demir/DHA)

Meanwhile, Gulf Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have provided refuge to zero Syrian refugees.

While there’s certainly a conversation taking place about refugees — who they are, where they’re going, who’s helping them, and who isn’t — what’s absent is a discussion on how to prevent these wars from starting in the first place. Media outlets and political talking heads have found many opportunities to point fingers in the blame game, but not one media organization has accurately broken down what’s driving the chaos: control over gas, oil and resources.

Indeed, it’s worth asking: How did demonstrations held by “hundreds” of protesters demanding economic change in Syria four years ago devolve into a deadly sectarian civil war, fanning the flames of extremism haunting the world today and creating the world’s second largest refugee crisis?

While the media points its finger to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s barrel bombs and political analysts call for more airstrikes against ISIS and harsher sanctions against Syria, we’re four years into the crisis and most people have no idea how this war even got started.

This “civil war” is not about religion

Citing a lack of access on the ground, the United Nations stopped regularly updating its numbers of casualties in the Syrian civil war in January 2014. Estimates put the death toll between 140,200 and 330,380, with as many as 6 million Syrians displaced, according to the U.N.

While there is no question that the Syrian government is responsible for many of the casualties resulting from its brutal crackdown, this is not just a Syrian problem.

Foreign meddling in Syria began several years before the Syrian revolt erupted.  Wikieaks released leaked US State Department cables from 2006 revealing US plans to overthrow the Syrian government through instigating civil strife, and receiving these very orders straight from Tel Aviv.  The leaks reveal the United State’s partnership with nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and even Egypt to use sectarianism to divide Syria through the Sunni and Shiite divide to destabilize the nation to weaken Iran and Hezbolla.  Israel is also revealed to attempt to use this crisis to expand it’s occupation of the Golan Heights for additional oil exploration.

According to major media outlets like the BBC and the Associated Press, the demonstrations that supposedly swept Syria were comprised of only hundreds of people, but additional Wikileaks cables reveal CIA involvement on the ground in Syria to instigate these very demonstrations as early as March 2011.

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 file photo, Syrians hold a large poster depicting Syria's President Bashar Assad during a rally in Damascus, Syria. Some activists expressed regret that one year later their

Just a few months into the demonstrations which now consisted of hundreds of armed protesters with CIA ties, demonstrations grew larger, armed non-Syrian rebel groups swarmed into Syria, and a severe government crackdown swept through the country to deter this foreign meddling. It became evident that the United States, United Kingdom, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey would be jumping on the opportunity to organize, arm and finance rebels to form the Free Syrian Army as outlined in the State Department plans to destabilize Syria. (Just a few months ago, WikiLeaks confirmed this when it released Saudi intelligence that revealed Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been working hand in hand to arm and finance rebels to overthrow the Syrian government since 2012.)

These foreign nations created a pact in 2012 called “The Group of Friends of the Syrian People,” a name that couldn’t be further from the truth. Their agenda was to divide and conquer in order to wreak havoc across Syria in view of overthrowing Syrian President Bashar Assad.

A Free Syrian Army soldier carries his weapon at the northern town of Sarmada, in Idlib province, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. (AP Photo)

The true agenda to hijack Syria’s revolt quickly became evident, with talking heads inserting Syria’s alliance with Iran as a threat to the security and interests of the United States and its allies in the region. It’s no secret that Syria’s government is a major arms, oil and gas, and weapons ally of Iran and Lebanon’s resistance political group Hezbollah.

But it’s important to note the timing: This coalition and meddling in Syria came about immediately on the heels of discussions of an Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline that was to be built between 2014 and 2016 from Iran’s giant South Pars field through Iraq and Syria. With a possible extension to Lebanon, it would eventually reach Europe, the target export market.

Perhaps the most accurate description of the current crisis over gas, oil and pipelines that is raging in Syria has been described by Dmitry Minin, writing for the Strategic Cultural Foundation in May 2013:

“A battle is raging over whether pipelines will go toward Europe from east to west, from Iran and Iraq to the Mediterranean coast of Syria, or take a more northbound route from Qatar and Saudi Arabia via Syria and Turkey. Having realized that the stalled Nabucco pipeline, and indeed the entire Southern Corridor, are backed up only by Azerbaijan’s reserves and can never equal Russian supplies to Europe or thwart the construction of the South Stream, the West is in a hurry to replace them with resources from the Persian Gulf. Syria ends up being a key link in this chain, and it leans in favor of Iran and Russia; thus it was decided in the Western capitals that its regime needs to change.

It’s the oil, gas and pipelines, stupid!

Indeed, tensions were building between Russia, the U.S. and the European Union amid concerns that the European gas market would be held hostage to Russian gas giant Gazprom. The proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline would be essential to diversifying Europe’s energy supplies away from Russia.

Turkey is Gazprom’s second-largest customer. The entire Turkish energy security structure relies on gas from Russia and Iran. Plus, Turkey was harboring Ottoman-like ambitions of becoming a strategic crossroads for the export of Russian, Caspian-Central Asian, Iraqi and Iranian oil and even gas to Europe.

The Guardian reported in August 2013:

“Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar and Turkey that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field, contiguous with Iran’s South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets – albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad’s rationale was ‘to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.’”

Note the purple line which traces the proposed Qatar-Turkey natural gas pipeline and note that all of the countries highlighted in red are part of a new coalition hastily put together after Turkey finally (in exchange for NATO’s acquiescence on Erdogan’s politically-motivated war with the PKK) agreed to allow the US to fly combat missions against ISIS targets from Incirlik. Now note which country along the purple line is not highlighted in red. That’s because Bashar al-Assad didn’t support the pipeline and now we’re seeing what happens when you’re a Mid-East strongman and you decide not to support something the US and Saudi Arabia want to get done.

Knowing Syria was a critical piece in its energy strategy, Turkey attempted to persuade Syrian President Bashar Assad to reform this Iranian pipeline and to work with the proposed Qatar-Turkey pipeline, which would ultimately satisfy Turkey and the Gulf Arab nations’ quest for dominance over gas supplies. But after Assad refused Turkey’s proposal, Turkey and its allies became the major architects of Syria’s “civil war.”

Much of the strategy currently at play was described back in a 2008 U.S. Army-funded RAND report, “Unfolding the Future of the Long War”:

“The geographic area of proven oil reserves coincides with the power base of much of the Salafi-jihadist network. This creates a linkage between oil supplies and the long war that is not easily broken or simply characterized. … For the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources. … The region will therefore remain a strategic priority, and this priority will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war.”

In this context, the report identifies the divide and conquer strategy while exploiting the Sunni-Shiite divide to protect Gulf oil and gas supplies while maintaining a Gulf Arab state dominance over oil markets.

“Divide and Rule focuses on exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts. This strategy relies heavily on covert action, information operations (IO), unconventional warfare, and support to indigenous security forces. … the United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch proxy IO campaigns to discredit the transnational jihadists in the eyes of the local populace. … U.S. leaders could also choose to capitalize on the ‘Sustained Shia-Sunni Conflict’ trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world…. possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.”

The report notes that another option would be “to take sides in the conflict, possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.”

This framework crafted an interesting axis: Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S., Britain and France vs. Syria, Iran and Russia.

Divide and conquer: A path to regime change

With the U.S., France, Britain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — aka, the new “Friends of Syria” coalition — publicly calling for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Assad between  2011 and 2012 after Assad’s refusal to sign onto the gas pipeline, the funds and arms flowing into Syria to feed the so-called “moderate” rebels were pushing Syria into a humanitarian crisis. Rebel groups were being organized left and right, many of which featured foreign fighters and many of which had allied with al-Qaida.

Saudi Arabia's permanent representative to the League of Arab States Ahmad al-Qattan, center, attends the Arab League summit in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, March, 29, 2012. The annual Arab summit meeting opened in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Thursday with only 10 of the leaders of the 22-member Arab League in attendance and amid a growing rift between Arab countries over how far they should go to end the one-year conflict in Syria. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

The Syrian government responded with a heavy hand, targeting rebel held areas and killing civilians in the process.

Since Syria is religiously diverse, the so-called “Friends of Syria” pushed sectarianism as their official “divide and conquer” strategy to oust Assad. Claiming that Alawites ruled over a majority Sunni nation, the call by the “moderate” U.S.-backed rebels became one about Sunni liberation.

Although the war is being sold to the public as a Sunni-Shiite conflict, so-called Sunni groups like ISIS,  the Syrian al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (the Nusra Front) and even the “moderate” Free Syrian Army have indiscriminately targeted Syria’s Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and Jews. At the same time, these same foreign nations supported and even armed the Bahraini government, which claims to be Sunni, in its violent crackdown on the majority Shiite pro-democracy demonstrations that swept the nation.

The Syrian government army itself is over 80 percent Sunni, which indicates that the true agenda has been politically — not religiously — motivated.

In addition to this, the Assad family is Alawite, an Islamic sect that the media has clumped in with Shiites, though most Shiites would agree that the two are unrelated. Further, the Assad family is described as secular and running a secular nation. Counting Alawites as Shiites was simply another way to push a sectarian framework for the conflict: It allowed for the premise that the Syria-Iran alliance was based on religion, when, in fact, it was an economic relationship.

This framework carefully crafted the Syrian conflict as a Sunni revolution to liberate itself from Shiite influence that Iran was supposedly spreading to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

But the truth is, Syria’s Sunni community is divided, and many defected to join groups like the Free Syrian Army, ISIS and al-Qaida. And as mentioned earlier, over 80 percent of Assad’s military is Sunni.

As early as 2012, additional rebels armed and financed by Arab Gulf nations and Turkey like al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood, declared all-out war against Shiites. They even threatened to attack Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraq’s government after they had overthrown the Assad government.

Soon after, the majority of the Muslim Brotherhood rebels became part of al-Qaida-affiliated groups. Together, they announced that they would destroy all shrines — not just those ones which hold particular importance to Shiites.

Hezbollah entered the scene in 2012 and allied itself with the Syrian government to fight al-Nusra and ISIS, which were officially being armed and financed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. And all the arms were actively being sold to these nations by the United States. Thus, US arms were falling into the hands of the same terror group the US claims to be fighting in its broader War on Terror.

Hezbollah fighters carry the coffin of Hezbollah member Mohammad Issa who was killed in an airstrike that killed six members of the Lebanese militant group and an Iranian general in Syria, during his funeral procession, in the southern village of Arab Salim, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Hezbollah has accused Israel of carrying out Sunday's airstrike, which occurred on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Issa was the highest-ranking among the group, and was among the senior cadres who headed the group's operations in Syria against the Sunni-led rebellion. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

According to reports, Hezbollah was and has been been active in preventing rebel penetration from Syria to Lebanon, being one of the most active forces in the Syrian civil war spillover in Lebanon. Despite this, the U.S. sanctioned both the Syrian government and Hezbollah in 2012.

Also that year, Russia and Iran sent military advisers to assist the Syrian government in quelling the terror groups, but Iranian troops were not on the ground fighting during this time.

What was once a secular, diverse and peaceful nation, was looking more like it was on its way to becoming the next Afghanistan; its people living under Taliban-style rule as jihadists took over more land and conquered more cities.

Effects of foreign meddling outweigh self-determination

If you think that was hard to follow, you’re certainly not alone.

Most sectarian civil wars are purposely crafted to pit sides against one another to allow for a “divide and conquer” approach that breaks larger concentrations of power into smaller factions that have more difficulty linking up. It’s a colonial doctrine that the British Empire famously used, and what we see taking place in Syria is no different.

So, let’s get one thing straight: This is not about religion. It might be convenient to say that Arabs or Muslims kill each other, and it’s easy to frame these conflicts as sectarian to paint the region and its people as barbaric. But this Orientalist, overly simplistic view of conflict in the Middle East dehumanizes the victims of these wars to justify direct and indirect military action.

If the truth was presented to the public from the perspective that these wars are about economic interests, most people would not support any covert funding and arming of rebels or direct intervention. In fact, the majority of the public would protest against war. But when something is presented to the public as a matter of good versus evil, we are naturally inclined to side with the “good” and justify war to fight off the supposed “evil.”

The political rhetoric has been carefully crafted to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable. Ultimately, no matter the agendas, the alliances or instability brought on by foreign meddling, the calls for freedom, democracy and equality that erupted in 2011 were real then and they’re real today. And let’s not forget that the lack of freedom, democracy and equality have been brought on more by foreign meddling to prop up brutal dictators and arm terror groups than by self-determination.

Migrant men help a fellow migrant man holding a boy as they are stuck between Macedonian riot police officers and migrants during a clash near the border train station of Idomeni, northern Greece, as they wait to be allowed by the Macedonian police to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Macedonian special police forces have fired stun grenades to disperse thousands of migrants stuck on a no-man's land with Greece, a day after Macedonia declared a state of emergency on its borders to deal with a massive influx of migrants heading north to Europe. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

The people in the Middle East once stood united and strong together against foreign meddling, exploitation and colonialism no matter their religious or cultural background. But today, the Middle East is being torn to shreds by manipulative plans to gain oil and gas access by pitting people against one another based on religion. The ensuing chaos provides ample cover to install a new regime that’s more amenable to opening up oil pipelines and ensuring favorable routes for the highest bidders.

And in this push for energy, it’s the people who suffer most. In Syria, they are fleeing en masse. They’re waking up, putting sneakers on their little boys and girls, and hopping on boats without life jackets, hoping just to make it to another shore. They’re risking their lives, knowing full well that they may never reach that other shore, because the hope of somewhere else is better than the reality at home.

Socio-Economics History Blog

  • Russia, Iran Warn U.S. They Will “Respond With Force” If Syria “Red Lines” Crossed Again
    by Tyler Durden, http://www.zerohedge.com
    A statement issued on Sunday by a joint command centre consisting of forces of Russian, Iran and allied militia alliance supporting Syrian President Bashar al Assad said that Friday’s US strike on the Syrian air base crossed “red lines” and it would “respond with force” to any new aggression while increasing their level of support to their ally.

    In the statement published by the group on media outlet Ilam al Harbi, the pro-Assad alliances says that “what America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.”

    Earlier on Sunday the UK’s Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon…

View original post 207 more words

Producers work on projects that vary in size and scope. Great Films are made with great crews, equipment and tools to make great films, and one of my all time favourites is Goodfellas, a classic Hollywood film directed by and using a screenplay written by Martin Scorsese.

For many years I’ve been using Final Draft and Entertainment Partners software, which I rely on constantly and emphatically. Only recently, when discussing a project with an Indian producer was my attention drawn to Celtx, which comes with a whole lot of interesting stuff these days, including their celtxblog. It’s an interesting read with valuable insights, such as the article INTRODUCING INSIGHTS: 7 FAMOUS SCREENPLAYS BY THE NUMBERS written by Stephen Stanford.

Presently, I’m working on a number of feature film projects of varying size and scope, and the team members are spread across the globe. Assessment and due diligence takes time; there’s an old saying that goes something like “what you don’t do properly in development, you have to pay for during pre-production, and what you don’t do properly in pre-production, you have to pay for in production, and what you don’t do properly in production, you have to pay for in post-production.” and everything costs time + money.
Project Assessment Process
Planning is vitally important, and it is with respect that this wonderfully written blog article by Stephen Stanford is reproduced in this blog.
celtxblog logo 2

PRODUCTION PRIMER: THE TRACKING SHOT

written by Stephen Stanford May 19, 2016
The tracking shot with Steadicam
No matter what kind of content you’re producing, there are cinematic hallmarks that everybody wants to see. Our new Production Primer series will cover the fundamentals of these techniques and show you what your team needs to consider when writing, planning, and shooting them.

The tracking shot or “oner” is perhaps the most iconic and captivating of all cinematic techniques. Generally speaking, it refers graceful, uninterrupted single-take shots where the camera follows the subject throughout either an extended portion or the entirety of a scene. Tracking shots are a showcase opportunity for the entire production team to demonstrate their technical expertise, but come with a price: they require extensive planning and rehearsal to execute properly. If all goes according to plan, however, the effect is mesmerizing (and you’ve successfully added a cinematic flourish to your project that captures the imagination and sticks to the memory). If you’re thinking about attempting a tracking shot in your next project, here are a few things to consider for each phase of production.

WRITING

One of the most celebrated tracking shots of all time is the famous Copacabana Sequence from Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. The dazzling, impeccably staged journey of Henry Hill and his date from across the street, down the stairs, winding through the service corridors and kitchen, and finally out onto the floor of the iconic nightclub became an instant classic of American cinema. Every cue is fits together so flawlessly that it’s easy for one to assume that the some serious technical rigor was applied during the writing process. Surprisingly, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Here’s how the Copacabana Sequence appeared on the page in a revised draft of Nicholas Pileggi & Martin Scorsese’s 1989 script. Compare it to the end result.

Click to Enlarge

As you can see, on paper this sequence is written like an unformatted montage. Virtually all of the asides and interactions that Henry has during his entrance are conspicuously absent, as are any specific shots or camera directions. According to Director of Photography Michael Ballhaus, Scorsese had fleshed out the entire sequence in his head, and the entire thing was blocked, rehearsed, and shot in less than a day. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t Martin Scorsese.

The more preparation and thought you put into the writing of the big scene, the greater footing your director and camera department will have when your team arrives at the planning phase. The Copacabana excerpt is a great example of how you should start: the telegraphic action suggests uninterrupted movement and the physical geography of the scene is explicated without being too specific. Moreover, the truncated and condensed formatting prevents the sequence from disrupting the flow of the script. If it were written exactly as it was shot, the sequence would have taken up multiple pages as opposed to roughly one half. In Celtx, however, there’s a novel solution that allows you to have it both ways.

If there’s a scene in your script that you think would make for the perfect tracking shot, Celtx allows you to develop it in detail outside of the script but within the same project. By adding an additional A/V Script to your project specifically for your tracking shot, you can create an in-depth, tailored shooting script describing every action point in your sequence. It also has multiple output formats, one for your actors to work on their cues, and another for your camera department to start mapping out the shot plan. Here’s what the Copacabana sequence looks like when written in A/V format:

2016-05-18

PLANNING

A stabilization system is essential to executing a tracking shot. There are two standard options: a dolly, or a steadicam. A dolly is a heavy, wheeled multi-operator camera platform designed to move along the horizontal axis, either on tracks  or on an appropriately smooth surface. A steadicam utilizes a mechanical system of gimbals and counterweights to allow a single operator to smoothly move and manipulate a camera with considerable deftness and speed. Where a dolly offers extremely stable and precise shots, steadicams allow for much greater mobility and a dreamy ‘floating’ effect. Both systems are fairly expensive and require skilled operators, although various ‘lighter’ or DIY solutions do exist. When choosing your stabilization system, two factors are key: the location in which you’ll be shooting, and the kind of action you need the camera to capture.  For example, in the Copacabana sequence, the camera was required to closely follow the subjects up and down stairs, down narrow hallways, around sharp corners, and through crowds of background actors with several sidesteps and sudden stops. In this case, the steadicam was the ideal solution.

When you have a suitable location secured, take a walkthrough with your team and make note of obstacles, staging areas, and wiggle room for maneuvering crew and setting up equipment. Determine which stabilization system would best fit your needs, and then perform the initial blocking of your sequence and determine the best positions for each action point to take place. Celtx provides a useful tool for this stage in the form of the Shot Blocker.  You can use the Shot Blocker to sketch out your location and specify where you want your action points to happen while plotting the path of the camera. You can also use it to set positions for equipment, props, set dressing, and extras using a built-in clipart library. Here’s what a shot plan for the Copacabana sequence might look like:

celtx shot blocker

SHOOTING

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Have your director move through your existing shot plan with your actors and let them get a feel for the space. Talk to them, and be open to improvisation. Long tracking sequences are akin to live theater, and its very easy for them to be overcome by a sense of staginess. Giving your actors a chance to explore, ad lib, and make mistakes can provide additional material that will imbue your sequence with a greater sense of reality.

You might also consider doing this initial blocking pass in reverse, starting at your last action point and working backwards. Ensuring that your actors know exactly where they need to end up is crucial to getting the perfect take, and starting your rehearsal from the final blocking position makes it easier for your actors to judge both distance and timings throughout the rest of the sequence: the finishing point is far more important than the starting point.

Your next rehearsal run should include any background actors, as well as dry runs for any background action that may be scripted to occur. It’d be best to include your camera team on this run as well – safety is paramount, and any background action with the potential to affect the camera needs to be heavily drilled.

Depending on the length of your shot (and if your schedule can accommodate it), you might want to consider blocking an entire day for setup and rehearsals. Either way, something is bound to deviate from your plan. Multiple takes are a given (it almost never goes right on the first try), but remember to be conscientious of the physical limitations of your cast and crew. If you push them too hard, you might start to undo the progress you’ve made in rehearsal.

In conclusion, be deliberate in your writing, thoughtful and thorough in your planning, and ready to drill when the shoot day arrives. To take advantage of the tools described in this primer, head over to Celtx and set up your team with a free trial. You’ll find that it makes keeping everyone informed and engaged during both the pre-production process and on set that much easier.

Dogs howl in the alley, crazy women scream…” ~ Pete Townsend

Darkness will always be fractured by light… The dawn rooster cocks sideways and crows before sunrise and spews. Have you noticed that parrots come in all shapes and sizes? Similar to lawyers they make excruciating squawking noises often leaving trails of crumby scraps whilst waddling blithely across rusty bars and polished floor boards. Parrots never really seem to care when and where they leave a trial, dropping excrement hither and thither. Guess what else is peculiar and similar between parrots and lawyers? A simple check of the Wikipedia page for “Parrot” gives further insights.

Monty Python's Gumby instep banner http://www.montypython.com

Monty Python’s Gumby instep banner http://www.montypython.com

Quite titillating really, fancy fed, a feigned meek squint and chortling at the thought of it all… conjures images of Monty Python‘s Dead Parrot hanging upside down with London Bridge as a theatrical backdrop… sketchy … the meaning of life… always look on the bright side of life… now there’s a great symbolic reunion highlighting 50 years of creative brilliance.

Parrots, also known as psittacines /ˈsɪtəsnz/ are birds of the roughly 393 species in 92 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three superfamilies: the Psittacoidea (“true” parrots), the Cacatuoidea (cockatoos), and the Strigopoidea (New Zealand parrots). Parrots have a generally pantropical distribution with several species inhabiting temperate regions in the Southern Hemisphere, as well. The greatest diversity of parrots is in South America and Australasia.

Mmm… gets one thinking creatively, right? And, there in lies the rub to spontaneously launch into banging out another blog article whilst listening to an old LP recording of Pete Townsend‘s solo album “All the Best Coyboys have Chinese Eyes” on my Technics Direct Drive Automatic Player System rotating at 33 1/3 rpm … there’s a timeless quality inherent in the vinyl… there’s an eternal raw beauty in The Who too … Who Are You?

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Flames impassioned in a moments anger… love conquers… without question … “There have always been times like these. The multi-coloured spheres clash and collide, the triangle expands and explodes: eventually there is nothing.” … times gift of perfect humility.

I am very excited the producers of “All the Tired Horses” aka “Dead Parrots Down Under” have decided to produce a new multi-episode season in the Explore TV series following on from season one produced in 2009. Rumour has it that there’ll be multiple seasons and episodes covering the many trials and tribulations incurred by cast and crews in Australia, India and Thailand and around the world.

Excited chatter in social media circles have variously described this as an “epic battle”, a former marine writes “In the face of adversity, with brick walls put in the way….., through strength, determination and perseverance – truth and justice shone through in the end.”  and another says “James, We are with you on this. You have won already!” Wow, wow, wow! The support from friends, fans and others providing encouragement has been humbling and I get all emotional… it makes me strive to greater perfection in my craft and to create ever lasting films that excite and ignite imaginations, insight intrigue and inform with interest driven by telling content.

ATTH DPDU Press Release 8th January 2016

ATTH “All the Tired Horses” aka DPDU “Dead Parrots Down Under” Press Release 8th January 2016

Somebody saved me … it happened again… I thank you my friend… all I know about staying alive… all I know I’ve been making it! Pete Townsend, you’re a genius and I thank you my friend. I never could queue to collect my lunch while I was pursuing the truth … and as they say the truth will set you free.

Experience is priceless and helping people, advising, and learning more provides me with a burning desire to produce more … I was just 34 years old … I was wondering why everyone I met seemed like they were in a haze… it’s sympathy not tears people need when they’re the front page newsand I know when she thinks of me … recriminations fester… and it’s she who has to beg.

Filming "All the Tired Horses' aka "Dead Parrots Down" Under Behind-the-scenes

Filming “All the Tired Horses’ aka “Dead Parrots Down Under” Gus, a warrior, battle hardened and ready.

Dawn beckons and the lights begin to fade as a new day begins in the City of Angels… I love the smell of toast in the morning… it helps to wash the smell of parrot shit away…

Francis Ford Copolla's "Apocalypse Now" Movie starring Marlon Brando Motion Picture Sound Recording Album cover; a parrot shitting on Marlon's shaved scalp.

Francis Ford Copolla’s “Apocalypse Now” Movie starring Marlon Brando Motion Picture Sound Recording Album cover; a parrot shitting on Marlon’s shaved scalp.

China and India are rapidly evolving and there are big moves afoot in media and entertainment across the divide. Having lived and worked throughout Asia, China and India for most of my life I feel that the winds of change are upon use, usefulness and us, of course … the sails are unfurled and filling smoothly… Ah, a vast frontier of possibilities beckons me hearties!

#ATTH #DPDU A snapshot of script setting and dialogue from "Dead Parrots Down Under" original screenplay by James With

#ATTH #DPDU A snapshot of script setting and dialogue from “Dead Parrots Down Under” original screenplay by James With

Characteristic features of parrots include a strong, curved bill, an upright stance, strong legs, and clawed zygodactyl feet. Many parrots are vividly coloured, and some are multi-coloured. Most parrots exhibit little or no sexual dimorphism. They form the most variably sized bird order in terms of length… but enough about parrots for now…

Bait your hooks, keep the music playing, wait with baited breathe and be prepared for the journey ahead…

I Am What I Am” by Gloria Gaynor
I am what I am
I am my own special creation
So come take a look
Give me the hook or the ovation

It’s my world that I want to have a little pride in
My world and it’s not a place I have to hide in
Life’s not worth a dam
Till you can say, hey world, I am what I am

I am what I am
I don’t want praise, I don’t want pity
I bang my own drum
Some think it’s noise, I think it’s pretty

And so what if I love each feather and each bangle
Why not try to see things from a different angle
Your life is a sham
Till you can shout out loud, I am what I am

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
Sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces

There’s one life and there’s no return and no deposit
One life so it’s time to open up your closet
Life’s not worth a dam
Till you can say, hey world, I am what I am

I am James With … ~ WITH LOVE ~ …
I am James Wearing-Smith V … I am James W. Gunn … I am a man walking this Great Earth and I am making my way in this great world …

James With - Actor, Director, Filmmaker, Producer, Writer IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0999139/

James With – Actor, Director, Filmmaker, Producer, Writer http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0999139/

Blessings and well-wishes,
James With
“Partnering With the World”

 

 

 


Source: The Saddest movie of all time is set to hit the big screen – S.A.D the movie exclusive trailer preview

THE SADDEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME IS SET TO HIT THE BIG SCREEN – S.A.D THE MOVIE EXCLUSIVE TRAILER PREVIEW

I’m sure we can all remember a movie that left us with a feeling of sorrow or sadness.  Tear Jerker’s stick in our mind even more than movies that makes us laugh or sit in awe.  Sadness is perhaps the most sticky of and remaining of emotional states.  So it is with great pleasure we bring you the first exclusive peek at the movie being made to take being SAD to another level.  #SADtheMovie is here and it is here to stay.  Since it burst onto the social scene less than 3 months ago it has picked up an avalanche of follows and fans.  It seems being SAD is quite popular.

We are all waiting to come to grips with exactly what S.A.D the movie is all about.  S.A.D meaning ‘Sitting and Drinking’  What we can see is it seems to be about just about everything!  How is that possible?  We don’t know either.  It is a movie that throws up many questions but very few answers except for the fact that you feel compelled to find out the answers by watching the movie.

The Saddest Movie of all time?

Written by Actor and director James With and produced by James With, Stevie Eagle E, Al Caudullo and Nick Barnes this is a movie aimed at people power. SAD the movie is heading to crowdfundingmeaning it will have in truth hundreds of producers from around the world. The movie is being shot in Thailand and is already making more fuss on the social scene than big budget Thai Movies. Why is that? It’s simple really. Whatever it is about it is interesting and compelling and not many movies are that these days. Yes they are exciting, big expensive, but very few films are truly interesting and compelling when you are trying to market them. This one for some reason, is.

The film soundtrack also boast rising stars Stephan Dante and Joanna Shegera on the Soundtrack. The past credits of the Actors, directors and participants range from Blockbusters like ‘Independence Day‘ and ‘Rambo’ to award winning films and oscar participation. Great credentials indeed.

Like thousands of others we shall be keeping a firm gaze on #SADtheMovie hoping to gleen some Idea of what this motley group of characters will be, or do. We really want to know like everyone else. I mean they look like a bunch of ex killers, psychos and drug addicts in the poster. Until then we invite you to take an exclusive look at the conceptual trailer above and you try to figure out what the hell is going on here.

If you wish to be a part of this movie you can join the campaign on Indiegogo here http://igg.me/at/sadthemovie

As they put it: #BeingSadNeverfeltSoGood

Follow us @globalnewsink

 

This article first published on 21st September 2015 on AlCaudullo.com … and the Samsung NX1 is only one of the cameras that the S.A.D Movie Team is using to capture footage for the film we thought Al Caudullo’s article would provide some interesting insights for all who are technically motivated and excited by new technology. We will bring you more insights about the equipment and structure of our project soon… and we hope you enjoy …

The Samsung NX1 Bible

When I think of my first SLR, the Pentax Spotmatic F and my second, the Nikon F, these were iconic cameras. They broke new ground set a new standard for their time. As I progressed through this review, holding Samsung’s flagship NX1 mirrorless camera, my gut says it will be joining the list soon. While Samsung sells tons of cameras all around the world, they have never offered a professional camera. The NX1 has been greeted with a great deal of skepticism from many quarters. But all the elements are right there. Breakthrough tech combined with a solid build and a vision for the future. Mirrorless cameras have been declared the future and DSLR’s, the past. This camera reinforces that. And the potential is there for even more. When this camera was in development Samsung actually tested the sensor at 6K RAW @ 240fps. Maybe we’ll see that resolution in the next generation.

Samsung NX1 with 50-150mm f/2.8 OIS ED Lens

Key Features

A list of key features is quite impressive.

  • 28 megapixel APS-C BSI CMOS sensor 23.5 x 15.7 mm
  • Internal 4K @ 24fps, 4K UHD @ 30fps & 1080p @ up to 60fps (120 fps in 1080)
  • 30.7 MP Actual,  28.2 MP Effective
  • Advanced Hybrid Autofocus system utilizing 205 phase and 209 contrast-detection autofocus points
  • ISO range of100-25,600 native with the ability to increase to 51,200
  • 76.6mm (3.0″) Super AMOLED w/Touch Screen with a resolution of 1036k dots
  • Dynamic Range of 10-12 stops
  • Video Format – H.265 recording system (first of it’s kind)
  • Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 – 4K output via HDMI
  • Still formats-SRW RAW, JPEG, MPO (yes, it can shoot 3D)
  • Fast continuous still shooting up to 15fps @ 28MP
  • Built In Intervalometer to create 6.5K time-lapse videos
  • Android OS with both Android and iOS app controllability
  • WiFi and Bluetooth sharing
  • Incredibly fast DRIMe V image processing engine
  • Ultra high 1/8000-second shutter speed
  • Professional Bit-rate of 80Mbit/s in 4K and 40Mbit/s in Full HD
  • Intelligent Auto Shooting Modes, Baseball, Jump Shot, Trap Shot
  • USB 2.0 or 3.0 connection or charging
  • Measures 139x102x66mm (5.47×4.02×2.6″)

Alain Moussi http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3857692/ https://www.facebook.com/AlainMoussiOnline

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • H.265 codec
  • USB Battery charge
  • Good solid grip and excellent balance
  • NFC, WiFi & Bluetooth
  • WiFi can send pictures but only one at a time
  • Good app integration, especially like remote viewfinder and Android Bluetooth shutter
  • Price
  • Nice button layout
  • Separate Video and stills buttons next to each other
  • Super AMOLED screen with essentially no lag
  • excellent ISO range
  • At fast shutter speeds, high speed action@30fps can be cleaner than some cameras at 60fps
  • Scene modes work very well
  • Gamma DR
  • The NX1 can output 4K 4:2:2 8-bit video over HDMI for capture on an external recorder.
  • Can do rack focus shots using touch screen
  • 28.2 MP backside illuminated sensor
  • Hybrid AF system with phase-detect points covering 90% of frame
  • 153 cross-type AF points with industry-leading frame coverage
  • Mostly effective subject tracking
  • High quality 4K video performance
  • 4K 4:2:2 8-bit video out
  • Outstanding dynamic range and low light image quality
  • 15 fps burst shooting

Cons:

  • H.265 Codec
  • Screen size
  • Few problems with autofocus with any kind of bright lights behind subject
  • Needs custom settings that hold frame rate as well as other settings
  • Needs 60fps recording in 4K UHD
  • Desperately needs 10-bit or even 12-bit color sampling
  • HDMI output limit too many features. You have to unplug to get to them
  • Flash “shadows” 16-50mm lens, must zoom to eliminate it.
  • no cover for the EVF screen
  • Mini HDMI is still glitchy when connected to external Atomos Shogun
  • Movie Converter software is poorly built with no advanced features and many basic features missing. Definitely a stop-gap software. no batch settings If you have 50 files to convert, you must go through them one at a time to select the conversion settings (unless you want the default settings). Finally, the conversion process is slow enough to have a significant impact on workflow unless you have a really fast computer.

Let’s discuss the build of the camera.

Actor/Producer/Stunts

Samsung chose to make The NX1 using die-cast magnesium alloy for the body. The result is a light but an extremely sturdy frame. The overall size of the camera body equates to a medium-sized DSLR.

The hand grip gets away from the trend of smaller and instead delivers a true grip that feels extremely comfortable in my hand. It’s snug to the base of my thumb and doesn’t tire out my hand like many other smaller grip cameras. This is important when you shoot all day long.

The ergonomics get an A+.

The body is splash resistant and combined with the  “S” Series lenses you a fully sealed water resistant system in case you are exposing the camera to the harsher elements.

At 610grams, the weight is less than a Canon 5D Mark III(950grams) or the Sony A7RII (625grams) but slightly more than the Panasonic GH4 (569grams).

Physical Layout of Controls

The layout of the controls is both familiar and unique. As I hold it my fingers deftly fall and find controls right where I expect them to be. A beautiful, natural, intuitive design.  The top dials are right where you expect them to be. The mode control dial features a useful locking button to avoid mistakenly changing settings. The left-hand dial offers ISO, AutoFocus, metering and white balance. The lower part of the dial handles drive operation, single shot, normal continuous, self-timer and bracketing.  Harkening back to classic cameras, the top-mounted LCD supplies you with almost every setting in one view. One feature that I love is the placement of a separate stills and video record buttons. They are situated right next to each other, allowing you to just slide your thumb over to activate either function. One caveat is that The video record button is recessed a little too much for me. I’d prefer a slight bump to make it easier to feel as I slide my thumb over. The main reason behind this request is the closeness of the exposure compensation button which I have on more than one occasion pressed thinking I was activating record. No harm done as the exposure compensation control is a combination of pressing that button and turning one of the thumbwheel controls. However, several video recording opportunities were delayed due to the inadvertent push of the wrong control.

Stills and Video Formats

Since the NX1 captures 6480×4320 stills at a 3:2 aspect ratio and 3840×2160 for 4K UHD which is a 16:9 ratio. For framing video, the customizable  backside menu dial has a default set to change the image to display the proper aspect ratio when you press the right arrow on the dial.

However when you utilize the autofocus by executing a half press of the still shutter, the display snaps back to the 6480×4320 – 3:2 aspect ratio.

When you press the video record, the screen snaps to the 16:9 ratio video format from the 3:2 stills formatting. It doesn’t hurt anything but for framing purposes it can drive you a little buggy.

On the positive side switching back and forth between stills and video is super simple.

Super AMOLED w/Touch Screen

The Super AMOLED w/Touch Screen is really just that, super. I have never seen a better looking, brighter or cleaner image on a screen. I am not  a fan of the sliding tilt, however. I’d like to see swing out and twist.

This is one of the few things that I don’t love about the camera. It is something that you can get used to. That said, the touch screen is marvelous and even the play feature with the ability to pinch to zoom, swipe, and tap. Something that we are all used from our smartphones and tablets.

Even without the limited movement of the screen, you can, however, still do selfies by using the Smartphone App connection.

One immensely useful tool is the tap to focus in live view mode. I have been able to do a smooth rack focus just by tapping the screen.

The companion 1024×768 OLED viewfinder is outstanding and can be set in the menu for color or black and white for more critical focus situations.

I found the focus system to fast and accurate about 85-90% of the times. But I have only tested it with the two best high-end lenses that Samsung makes.

A general observation about the interconnectivity of the device between iOs and Android is that, not surprisingly, Android is a much smoother, easier setup and operation.

Sensor and Processor

The Samsung NX1 comes with a 28 megapixel APS-C BSI CMOS sensor 23.5 x 15.7 mm with image processing by the DRIMe V image processing engine.

Wow, that sounds impressive, and it is. Memorize it and use it at the next party you go to and you will be the “Grand Nerd of the Night”.

But what does it really mean to your shooting experience? Why is it such a big deal?

Let’s pull it apart and see how it relates.

The  BSI or BackSide Illuminated CMOS image sensor uses a novel approach to the layout of the electronics for the sensor. Traditional CMOS sensors have the electronics on the front of the chip with microlenses, then the real workhorses, the photosites that actually record the light behind them. By placing the electronics behind the sensor, Samsung has been able to add more photosites to the same size sensor area, thus enabling more precious light to reach the photosites. More light means less amplification is needed which in turn means less noise in your picture and cleaner, crisper images.

This same tech is the reason that smartphones today are producing better images. It was, in fact, originally used in astronomy sensors for complex telescopes. Till then, no one had made a BSI CMOS this big. Sony has since upped the game by introducing a 42.4MP image sensor on the a7RII.

To give you a comparison, Samsung’s NX30 has a traditional CMOS configuration. The same sensor size yields a 20.8 MP image. So you can see by adding the BSI CMOS Samsung was able to increase the amount of pixels on the sensor to 28.2MP. That’s 8 million more pixels spread across the same size sensor.

Another result of the additional light is the additional sensitivity for better low light performance giving the camera a native resolution range of ISO 100-25,600. Which can be electronically stretched to a whopping 51,200.

The DRIMe V (pronounced DREAM) image processing engine (a quad-core chip) is really the brains of the operation.  that Samsung describes as It takes all the information gathered by the sensor electronics and creates the image. Sounds simple, but it’s not, especially when you realize that the NX1 can shoot at a blistering 15fps for 90 images (with the 1.40 firmware upgrade) in Superfine JPEG or 25 images in SRW RAW. That’s a mind-blowing 700 million pixels of information being spewed out at 15fps. Add to the mix the 14-bit sampling of raw images and 12-bit in continuous shooting application. To look at it in another way, shooting 4K UHD video at 30fps means that you are capturing thirty – 8MP images every second. With continuous shooting the engine is handling fifteen – 28MP images every second. Quite a processing feat indeed.

One more item that will bring home the inherent value of this camera. The NikonD4S shoots 16MP at 11fps and costs almost 3 1/2 times the Samsung NX1.

The processing engine also handles the autofocus duties. With 205 phase and 209 contrast-detection autofocus points the camera is lightning fast focus. These points are built into the surface of the sensor.

If you aren’t familiar with how these two focus systems work, allow me to give you a quick primer.

Advanced Hybrid Autofocus System

Phase Detection Autofocus compares two complimentary images of the selected subject. Simply put if they don’t line up, then they are not in focus. The difference in the distance between the two images tell the camera how much to refocus, either nearer or further.

Contrast-detection autofocus measures the subject contrast ratio. If the ratio increases, then the camera knows it’s going the right way. If it decreases, it reverses course and goes back. While all of this trial and error measuring happens very quickly, nevertheless, you will see a slight blurring, sometimes referred to as breathing, before the focus snaps into place.

Why then, do cameras have both? Because Contract Autofocus works better on faces and Phase Detection Autofocus tunes in moving objects faster. Hence the hybrid combination.

By spreading the autofocus detection points across the entire surface of the sensor with a denser package towards the center versus the edges produces the most efficient results.

That once again takes us back to that wonderfully lightning fast  DRIMe V image processing engine which creates the fastest and most accurate autofocusing system that I have seen on any camera.

That is not to say that you don’t run into issues. This is where understanding the limitations of any machine versus the human brain comes into play. In certain conditions, the autofocus does lose the plot, but these are mostly extreme circumstances where, for instance, an extremely bright back light directly next to your subject. That’s where you use your processing engine, your brain, and either move the subject or switch to manual focus.

You have three autofocus settings to choose from, Single AF (SAF), Continuous AF (CAF) and Active AF (AAF).

SAF is designed for shooting still subjects. A half-press of the shutter adjusts the focus in the boxed focus area. When in focus the box has a green outline.

CAF is the workhorse position. This is designed to continually adjust the focus. You can resize or move the focus box using the touchscreen or the command dial.

AAF will flip between SAF and CAF as needed. So if the subject is far away but moving towards the camera, it would start with SAF and as the image gets closer and bigger it would switch automatically to CAF. Manual assisted focusing either enlarges the picture by 5x or 8x.

My personal choice is to use CAF for video and SAF for stills.

Bangkok at Night shot with Samsung NX1 16-50mm f/2 OIS Lens

In video, the speed of the processor is the reason that you can record 4K to the internal SDHC cards. Because it is processing the image information so fast, then utilizing the H.265 codec to capture the video files in a compressed format that still retains the original image quality. In fact, H.265 can be as much as 1/2 the file size of H.264. Plus it aids the SDHC cards by not requiring them to capture so much data. Meaning that you don’t need the incredible speed need in the cards as you do for cameras like the RED that have to capture to extremely high-speed SSD drives.

Autofocus modes consist of Selection AF, whereby touching the screen you decide on a focus point. Whereas Zone AF will set the autofocus to adjust within a zone area that you preset. This works well with camera movement.

Multi  AF displays a green rectangle in places where focus is set correctly. The photo is divided into two or more areas, and the camera obtains focus points of each area. This mode is recommended for taking landscape photos.

Face Detection AF is designed for group photo settings.

Self-Portrait AF It can be difficult to check whether your face is in focus when you are taking a self-portrait. When this function is on, the camera beeps faster when your face is in focus and located at the center of the composition.

I must say that the last two Face Detection and Self-Portrait are definitely solely consumer based. And with the heft of this camera it is certainly not designed for selfies.

That said, the Selection AF, Zone AF and less so the Multi AF are definitely helpful for pros as well as consumers.

These modes combine with the Focus Assist Modes for the greatest efficiency outside of good old fashion manual focus.

Touch AF

AF Point

Tracking AF

One Touch Shot

I have found that Selection AF combined with Touch AF is my most used AF mode combo.

The NX1 captures both 4K DCI (4096 x 2160) @24p and UHD (3840 x 2160)@23.98p, 24p, 25p/30p plus Full HD (1920×1080) @ variable to 120fps,  60p/50p, 25p/30p, 23.98p, 1280×720 , 640×480 Resolution (though I’m not sure why anyone would use the last few).

H.265 Codec

H.265, the heir apparent to H.264 was developed as the “HEVC” (High Efficiency Video Coding) format by both the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and the Video Coding Experts Group(VCEG).

How H.265 works is similar to H.264 in that it uses “image blocks”. It “sees” the image frames and scans for the areas that change and those that don’t. What H.265 does differently is it adjusts the size of the “blocks” to match what is happening on the screen. So the static area gets bigger “blocks” while the changing areas get smaller “blocks” which are easier to rapidly change as the image does.

I’ve kept the explanation somewhat simplified and there are other factors that contribute to the quality improvements. If I went into everything that goes into H.265, this article would be more like a very thick book.

The result is that the image quality is substantially improved while the file size is drastically reduced. The process does require substantially more processing power. Again where the DRIMe V image processing engine comes into play.

You’ll notice later that I list the H.265 codec as both a “Pro” and a “Con”. There is good reason for both.

As a “Pro”, it is a pretty sure bet that H.265 will be the next de facto codec for camera recording, just as H.264 was before it. It will certainly not disappear in the face of Google’s VP-9 codec. Even Google doesn’t believe that it will as they also support H.265 playback on Chrome.

Samsung has taken a bold step in being the first to feature this codec. Although in all honesty, the NX1 forums have more than their share of moaners and groaners cajoling Samsung to offer both H.264 and H.265 codecs in the camera. These neophytes don’t realize the added complexity nor the pointlessness of offering both. You either lead the charge or sit on the fence. Samsung has decided to take a picture of the fence as it surges forward.

As a “Con” it is a short term one. At this point, there is no NLE on the market that can edit the codec. In fact, until recently it was hard to find a player that worked properly. Samsung supplies both a player and a converter for the H.265 codec. The NLE situation will be resolving itself as well as software companies are already working on ways to edit this tightly compressed codec.

If you don’t care for Samsung’s Conversion solution there are several others out there and some are free.

here is a list and brief description.

Footage Studio 4K – Acrovid.com

This is not a free one, but it packs a ton of features into an introductory price of $129.

You can convert into multiple formats including ProRes, DNxHD, MJPEG, MP4 (H.264), plus more and even resample and upscale to 10-bit in the process. Noise reduction, Frame rate change, overcranking and undercranking plus a whole lot more.

CineMartin Cinec -http://www.cinemartin.com/cinec/hevc-h265/

Convert to Multiple formats including ProRes 4444, HQ, LT, 422, DNxHD, H.264 MPEG4, VP9 and a whole lot more. Add LUTs, Cut/Trim videos, Control Adjustments, Crop, Split videos, Overlays, Batch Outputs and the list goes on. Upscale/downscale to HD, 4K, 6K, 8K at 8-bit or 10-bit. It even has a RAW editor to create video files from an image sequence, supporting stills in TIFF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, Cinema DNG and DPX. Available in three versions $226 / $340 / $910

Rocky Mountain Movie Converter – http://sourceforge.net/p/rockymountainsmovieconverter/wiki/Home/ 

This Free converter is quite a deal and was born out the frustration with the Samsung Converter. It basically utilizes FFmpeg source code in a GUI application. It is basic but very quick at converting to H.264, H.265. ProRes Proxy, LT, SQ and HQ codecs. Your choice of downscaling to 1080p or converting to 4K. No bells and whistles here, just simple and efficient.

Behind the scenes with Jean -Claude Van Damme and Alain Moussi

True 6.5K Video in TimeLapse

This is a marvelous little extra treat. The Samsung NX1 has a built in intervalometer for doing time lapse and it will even process the image files into a 4K video file. My advice, don’t do it.

Leave the image sequence as is. When you import it into your NLE (Pro Tip: adjust in Lightroom first) you will then have a glorious 3:2 ratio 6.5K video to play with. Zoom in to 60% and it will fill the screen with a decision to crop at the top or bottom. The 6.5K resolution means you can zoom as much as you like with little or no effect on the image quality.

Or leave it at 100% and create a Hyper-Lapse by keyframing your pan and scan moves. Either way enjoy and take advantage of the extra resolution.

(links to samples on our site)

HDMI Output

Why only 8-bit 4:2:2 Samsung? With all the 10-bit proffered by other manufacturers and the need for 10-bit color sampling for 4K I can only hope that we will see it in a firmware upgrade.

The weakest point on all the modern breed of mirrorless cameras is the mini HDMI port. The port may be mini but the physical weight of the cables certainly is not. I have seen far too may issues when using these tiny ports when connecting to external HDMI devices like the Atomos Shogun. The best solution is an HDMI saver. Most that I saw on the market were heavy and cumbersome. The answer for me was in designing and 3D printing my own. It is practically weightless and works perfectly to reduce the strain from the HDMI cable and save you from needless repairs and the loss of time with your camera. (http://bit.ly/1EyfnYg)

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range describes the ratio between the minimum and maximum useable light captured by the camera.

This is one of the most misunderstood and misused buzzword out there.  It is akin to the wildly extravagant claims of contrast ratio for TV’s. There are a million different ways to measure it, all of which can be slanted in one direction or the next. Add to that the fact that the new BT2020 standard, which will show how that immense dynamic range will perform, has not made it to market yet.

Test conditions make a huge difference as well. What type of lighting? Studio? Outdoor Daytime? Outdoor Nighttime? ISO Setting? How much digital noise is there in the image? How much is acceptable?

There are no real established standards at this time.

While Samsung NX1 does not have a raw or LOG setting for video, it does have GammaDR and Smart Range+. While both of these work together to increase the range available, it won’t be complete until Samsung offers a true flat profile.

For our purposes, let’s discuss this with more practical applications.

As an example, you are shooting at sunset. You have the sun visible in the shot and you have a darkened area that goes all the way to a deep black. The True Dynamic Range would be measured between the highest degree of white that isn’t blowing out and the most visible detail in the blackest area.

In my subjective testing, I have found that the NX1 is almost as good as a full frame sensor. Depending upon the lighting and the exposure, aim for proper exposure of the highlights as the Samsung really holds the details in the shadows much better. So the trick is to slightly underexpose on the highlights and correct and expand in post.

There are several parameters to bear in mind during testing.

It is a given that the higher the ISO, the more digital noise is introduced into the image. Settings of 100 to 800 ISO were used for testing. I pushed beyond all the way up to 51,200, but it just got silly testing for any kind of true pro quality at those settings. For me, they are there for those images you just HAVE to get and don’t care how fuzzy it looks.

Shutter speed plays a factor in the testing. Lower shutter speeds are great for gathering more light for shadow areas whereas higher shutter speeds, in general, they can save you in the highlights.

And not to get you more confused but, Exposure compensation is another one of those, “tricks of the trade”. I found that depending upon lighting conditions, that adjusting the EV by +4EV can  result in a much better image than increasing or decreasing shutter and ISO.

The final factor is the lens. Each lens is designed to have a “sweet spot”. This is the optimum f-stop setting for any particular lens. Manufacturers don’t want to talk about this because the misconception would be that the lens is somehow “less” at any other setting. That is NOT true. It is widely accepted that there is a “native” ISO for every camera. Well, the same goes for lenses.

Without testing, there is no definitive way to know, but in most cases a “middle-of-the-road” approach is safe.

SAMSUNG CSC

Keeping those parameters in mind I have found that, at it’s best the Samsung affords a solid 12 1/2 stops of Dynamic Range. At it’s worst, you will bottom out at 10 – 11 stops. These were all shot with a 100 ISO setting. The results will drop steadily with any ISO over 800.

SAMSUNG CSC

One final thought about dynamic range. Many talk about it like it’s the Holy Grail. And it is wonderful when you are shooting on a camera that has it built in. But if not, the truth is that proper exposure can result in just as good or better results. True profiles to increase dynamic range are wonderful, but unfortunately, the trend lately has been to create these pseudo LUTs or profiles or even de-LUT’s (whatever that snake oil is) in post.

But reader, let me tell you, if you are not applying this to the camera as it records then all you are doing is adjusting the color correction to create a flatter video image and then color correcting it again. It’s pseudo-science, snake oil, my friends, now you see it, now you don’t. If you buy it, then I’ve got some dry swamp land to sell you!

Menu

This is the one place where I think there is a need for improvement, page numbers on the menu. There are none. You go to any book, there are page numbers. When you look something up in the index, there are page numbers. It is a simple but extremely effective way to find the item that you are looking for. It slows you down to look for the exact item you want to change. It’s unbelievable to me that with the technological advances of this machine that the menu doesn’t have page numbers. Ok, enough of my rant. Samsung please give us page numbers. that’s all I’ll say on that.

The menu operation is smooth and easy with either touchscreen or dial control.

Shooting Modes

Samsung Smart Shot, Picture Wizard, and Smart Filters are both a bow to the consumer side of the prosumer users.

Picture Wizard gives you the option to pre-adjust your image with built in looks. You can also create and save your own look with Custom Settings.

Built in choices include:

  • Standard
  • Classic which applies a black and white effect
  • Vivid with highly saturated colors
  • Portrait creates natural skin tones.
  • Landscape emphasizes the forest greenery
  • Retro gives you a brown sepia tone
  • Cool adds accent to the cool blues
  • Calm is described by Samsung as creating a calm scene effect.
  • Clicking the up arrow on the control dial will allow you to customize each one of these if you like.
  • Scrolling over to Custom 1, 2 or 3 allows for complete customization of the look.

Smart Filters

The Smart Filter options are

  • Vignetting Applies the retro-looking colors, high contrast, and strong vignette effect of Lomo cameras.
  • Miniature (H) Applies a tilt-shift effect to make the subject appear in miniature. The top and bottom of the photo will be blurred.
  • Miniature (V) Applies a tilt-shift effect to make the subject appear in miniature. The left and right of the photo will be blurred.
  • Watercolor Applies a watercolor painting effect.
  • Red Desaturate all colors but red.
  • Green Desaturate all colors but green.

Samsung Auto Shot

  • Beauty Face Capture a portrait with options to hide facial imperfections.
  • Landscape Capture still-life scenes and landscapes.
  • Action Freeze Capture subjects moving at high speed.
  • Rich Tones Capture a photo with vibrant colors HDR.
  • Panorama Capture a wide panoramic scene in a single photo.
  • Waterfall Capture scenes with waterfalls.
  • Multi Exposure Capture multiple photos and overlap them to create one photo.
  • Samsung Auto Shot Capture action photos, such as someone hitting a baseball, a jumpshot, or when the subject passes a preset point.
  • Silhouette Capture subjects as dark shapes against a light background.
  • Sunset Capture scenes at sunset, with natural-looking reds and yellows.

Actress

Personally, while I did test these and they all worked fine. I keep the setting in the “off” position, preferring to shoot in SRW RAW mode and adjust in Lightroom and Photoshop. Please keep in mind that if you are shooting in RAW only, the Smart Filters setting will be grayed out in the menu along with the choice of Photo Size.

i-Function

With one button on the lens and two dials on the body you can set the aperture, shutter sped, ISO, Exposure Value, and White Balance and Intelli-Zoom (if the lens is so equipped). This is a fantastic feature for “run and gun” shooters eliminating having to go to the menu to make these adjustments.

I like it because you can make all of these adjustments after enabling the i-Function with just using the two command dials at the top and back of the camera. Customization of the features are available through the menu under “iFn Customizing”.

Interconnectivity

The trio of NFC, WiFi and Bluetooth make the NX1 the top of its class in wireless camera connectivity. Dual Band communication features a choice of 2.4GHz or 5GHz transmission. This is especially helpful if there is an overload of 2.4GHz devices in the area.

Utilizing the Bluetooth you can have the time set automatically and add GPS coordinates to your image file. One caveat is that the Bluetooth only works on Android and not the iOS version. Overall I would say that the Android experience is smoother than the iOS app, which is to be expected considering you are linking to Samsung smartphones. Which is too bad because I really like the Bluetooth shutter feature on the Android version.

Both do offer smartphone camera control and remote viewfinder control. With Remote Viewfinder, you can set the file size for stills or video, change picture modes, drive settings, AF settings, white balance and decide on either VGA or QVGA streaming. There is very little lag in operation, but if the camera goes dark then you can lose the connection and have to re-establish.

While you can directly post to your Facebook or Instagram accounts, you can transfer between the camera and smart device easily with the application.

The i-Launcher software system is built into the Samsung NX1 Camera. Once you plug your camera into your Mac or PC the i-Launcher or i-Launcher Web allows you to update the firmware of the camera or the lens, or download the User Manual. It also allows you to

download and install Samsung Movie Converter, Samsung DNG Converter, PC Auto Backup, Power Media Player, and the SDK reference program.

No more CD with software that gets lost when you need to install again. Everything your need to work with your camera including the H.265 converter software is there.

In addition, there is a licensed copy of Adobe Lightroom for you. Be sure to update the software as soon as you install it as the version supplied does not support Samsung’s SRW RAW file format.

Lenses

Adding any of the Premium “S” Series lenses, like the 50-150mm F2.8 S ED OIS Lens at 915grams or the 16-50mm F2-2.8 S ED OIS Zoom Lens at 621 grams add some beef to your hand. But it feels good. Traditionally, as long as the camera is well balanced a little more weight lends itself to better stability in your shots. Plus these lenses have optical stabilization built in.

For my testing, I have been provided with these two lenses and I can truthfully say they have served me for 95% of my shooting. I would have liked a true wide angle to test like the 10mm F3.5 Fisheye lens for testing, but perhaps at a later date I can get my hands on one.

The 16-50mm F2-2.8 S ED OIS Zoom Lens offers an 82.6 degree angle of view at 16mm, equal to a 24mm lens to a 31.4 degree angle of view, the same as a 75mm lens in a 35mm system.

The 50-150mm F2.8 S ED OIS Zoom Lens picks up from there nicely offering an 31.4 degree angle of view at 50mm, equal to a 75mm lens and tapers off to a 10.7 degree angle of view at 150mm, the same as a 231mm lens in a 35mm system.

The availability of a range of lenses which was an early criticism of the system is rapidly expanding. Samsung now offers  28 lens choices, including primes, with more on the way.

Rokinon, Samyang, Bower, Lensbaby & Rising are all offering a steadily increasing selection of Samsung NX mount lenses.

In addition Fotasy and FotodioX both have economically priced adapters to use either Canon EF or Nikon lenses. Although using these adapters send you to manual only adjustments. No word yet from Metabones about a powered adapter, although I am sure as the camera grows in popularity, we will see an offering from them.

These two lenses represent the high end of the lenses offered by Samsung. What sets them apart is the overall combination of features.

The 16-50mm F2-2.8 S ED OIS Zoom Lens has 18 elements in 12 groups. The lens includes three aspherical, two ED, and two XHR lenses. The aspherical elements control the softness often seen at the edges of other lenses. These elements balance the distribution of light more effectively creating a much smoother distribution of light across the image.

The ED or Extra-low Dispersion performs a similar equalling out of the color, preventing fringing on the edges and keeping a smooth dispersion of the color wavelengths across the surface of the lens. this gives you superior sharpness and color correction by diminishing chromatic aberration.

The Xtreme High Refractive (XHR) lenses makes for more efficient and uniform distribution of light and keeps the lens more compact and lightweight than other lenses.

These features combine with the lens-shift OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) and the Ultra-Precise Stepping Motor (UPSM) to produce true professional quality image results even in the most adverse conditions. The additional bonus is that these lenses are truly dust and splash proof.

An interesting difference in the 50-150mm F2.8 S ED OIS Lens is the SHS or Samsung Hyper Shield Coating on the lens. It incorporates Anti-Fingerprint, Anti-Fog and Anti-Splash characteristics to the lens versus convention coating.

In addition, the lens has a custom focus range limiter that can be adjusted to a specific distance area of focus. This in turn allows for extremely fast autofocus. In testing this feature, I found it especially useful in distance shots in outdoor nature situations. The 6-axis Optical Image Stabilization performs excellently to keep the image in the viewfinder stable for framing.

SAMSUNG NX1 50-150mm

My testing with both lenses revealed a well designed and executed lens system. There was a great deal of thought that went into this pair of optic tools. Clean, clear crisp images with fast accurate focusing, weather proofing with a strong feel and responsive action in your hands. I especially appreciated the little things like both lenses having a filter ring size of 72mm, making it easy to switch any filters or even interchange lens caps as you alternate between cameras.

Green eyed cat shot with Samsung NX1 16-50mm f/2 OIS Lens

The Bokeh is the term for the ascetics of the out of focus areas of the image. The origin of the word comes from the Japanese word ボケ味, the “blur quality”. The best cinematic lens offers Bokeh described with terms like smooth or creamy or harsh. They enhance your images by enhancing your subject against a pleasing intentionally blurred background. In my opinion, I would describe the Bokeh as creamy and rates highly in comparison to almost any professional lens on the market. Both the 50-150mm F2.8 S ED OIS Lens and the 16-50mm F2-2.8 S ED OIS Zoom Lens use nine rounded aperture blades, so the Bokeh for both areas matched set.

Another example of team minded design.

Newest Firmware Upgrade

While working on the completion of this review, the eighth (8th) Firmware Upgrade and sixth (6th) Lens Firmware Upgrade was released by Samsung, Version 1.40.

Samsung has continued to follow an aggressive stream of upgrades with a combination of fixing issues and adding or improving additional features. Honestly, I can’t remember another camera manufacturer who has been this committed to improving it’s product.

Some of the listed changes are obvious, some not so much. In testing these add-ons four stand out as being major.

First, the increased continuous maximum shot counts. Adding 20 is a testament to the power of the DRIMe V image processing engine. And while adding another 5 shots in the continuous burst of 15fps may not sound like a lot, it most certainly is when you realize that each SRW RAW is 47.6MP.

Adding DIS (Digital Image Stabilization) is, in my opinion, the most important of the group. It is  a boon to handheld shooters. There is a slight crop applied to the image which is a necessary and acceptable trade off for the visibly improved image quality.

Critically focused shots are an absolute must for 4K shooting and Focus peaking is your best friend. One of the major bugs before this update was that the focus peaking would have to be reinitialized. Now it can be Key-mapped to a custom button in the menu. I choose the down arrow of the command dial.

Lastly, the improved  autofocus during zooming is a very noticeable improvement. While it is restricted for only 6 lenses, these do constitute the real workhorse lenses in the Samsung arsenal. In video, I usually don’t zoom unless it’s a sports event that I am shooting with one camera. In the past in those cases I was stuck with a sometimes nasty “breathing” of the focus until it settled. It didn’t take very long, but it was, nonetheless, unacceptable for professional video. That issue has been eradicated totally with this upgrade.

One major thing to remember with installing a firmware upgrade is that it does a reset of the choices in your settings. If you change a lot it would be worthwhile to make a text file or take pics of each menu page for easy resetting after.

[v.1.40]

  1. Increased continuous maximum shot counts

– 15fps JPEG : 70ea → 90ea

– 15fps RAW  : 20ea → 25ea

  1. Added Video DIS (except 120p, VGA size video)
  2. Added AEL at M mode, ISO Auto setting
  3. Added Focus Peaking menu in button setting menu
  4. Improved AF to work during zooming

(6 Supporting Lens : 16-50mm S, 50-150mm S, 16-50mm PZ, 18-55mm Ⅲ, 12-24mm, 50-200mm Ⅲ)

※ Please updated Lens together with Latest version

Lens Firmware can be updated by iLauncher

  1. Add Flash Exposure info. display on Live view Live view (when Flash is ON)
  2. Improved battery display to show both internal & external remains together when vertical grip is mounted
  3. Improved Playback speed of photo
  4. Improved sound quality of external Mic. (only for Auto MIC Control OFF)
  5. Overall fixed minor bugs

In the Field – Real World Testing

Jean Claude Van Damme with CoStar Alain Moussi and UFC stars Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez

A unique opportunity recently arose when I was hired as the behind the scenes videographer and still photographer for the new Jean-Claude Van Damme/Dave Bautista movie, Kickboxer Vengeance.

The movie, penned and co-directed by Dimitris Logothetis and John Stockwell is more than an action packed martial arts fest. It is a UFC, MMA fan dream with such notables as George St.Pierre, Gina Carano, Cain Velasquez, Fabricio Werdum and more. The reboot costars Alain Moussi, a rising Canadian actor/stuntman with kicking and splits abilities that surpass Van Damme himself. The female lead is Sara Malakul Lane, an up and coming successful Thai model and actress who elevates the original female lead to Lui a tough Thai Policewoman and love interest to Kurt Sloan. Ted Field, of Riddick, Last Samurai and Three Men and a Baby produces.

Having just received the Samsung NX1, at the time, to review this seemed like the ideal real-world testing ground. What better way to find the capabilities of the camera than to use it on a Hollywood movie set.

My video weapons of choice included the Samsung NX1 with the 16-50mm F 2-2.8 S ED OIS and the 50-150mm F 2.8 S OIS lens. This pair offered the flexibility for both wide angle masters as well as tight portrait shots. In addition, I used the Atomos Shogun, but I will talk about that in a separate review.

The concept was to shoot both 6.5k stills and 4K video, from which high quality stills could be easily pulled from the NLE timeline.

Both Director of Photography, Mateo Londono and the Director, Dimitris Logothetis took notice of the quality of the shots and the camera. They both commented that the Samsung NX1 produced cinema quality shots that could be paired with the Red Epic being used by the production.

Having lived and breathed with this camera for 14 days of shooting everything from night scenes to high action martial arts fights to press conferences it is safe to say that I am fully indoctrinated to the nuances of the camera.

Clouds over Bangkok

Conclusion

The NX1 manages to achieve something no one else has been able to do at this level, create a camera that delivers both professional quality stills alongside spectacular Pro video.

As a still camera, the amazing 90 JPEG @ 1/8000th-second continuous image burst at 15fps surpasses cameras three times the price. With that kind of latitude the need for neutral density filters disappears.

The SRW RAW files contain a spectacular amount of image data that can easily and creatively adjusted in Lightroom and Photoshop. But never fear, if you straight from the camera stills, the NX1 delivers them quite well. This is where the built-in creativity of the Smart Shot, Picture Wizard and Smart Filters comes into play nicely. And the built-in wiFi means that you are a connection away from emailing anyone a picture straight out of the camera.

The video performance of this camera is flat out stunning. Having tested it in low light on a night shoot of a Hollywood movie to the overpowering brightness of shooting a sunset, the camera has constantly outperformed expectations.

There is a huge fixation lately about RAW and flat S-LOG which is overinflated and misleading. While it is true that the NX1 does not offer a super flat image, a properly exposed shot can be adjusted in post to do everything that a flat profile can offer. Indeed one that same Hollywood movie set of Kickboxer Vengeance the consensus was that the Samsung NX1 could be used side by side with the Red Epic footage in post production. You simply can’t expect better than that for a sub $2000 camera.

I highly advise avoiding this strange concept that seems to be brewing for those who sell these NLE based LUTS and De-LUTS. In my opinion, if you don’t apply it in the camera, then you are doing nothing to add the dynamic range or quality of the image. In fact, you are basically color correcting to achieve a flat image only to color correct a second time to reach the “look” that you want. It’s like flying from New York to New Jersey by first flying to LA. Sure you can do it. But the question is, WHY?

While the NX1 allows for custom controlling of the Luminance Levels and Master Black Levels these as not designed to expand the dynamic range but rather as a way to match to other cameras in given shooting environments. The base settings in combination with the Gamma DR setting grants you the widest latitude in true dynamic range.

I found it very easy to use the Touch AF for set up of focus during those hectic points in shooting behind the scenes on a stunt-filled action movie like Kickboxer Vengeance. In fact, I was even able to pull off rack focus using the Touch AF and the AF Responsiveness adjustment in the menu. The results were as smooth as using the lens control but without needing a second person focus puller.

When I had the time the 1280×70 viewfinder was sharp and spectacular with the manual focus switch on the lens barrel easy to access.

There are however a few hurdles for Samsung’s wizards in engineering to overcome to achieve full professional parity. 10-bit 4:2:2 color sampling and 4k 60p frame rates among them. Enabling 10-bit 4:2:2 instead of 8-bit4:2:2 from the HDMI port would be a welcome first step. That would grant us the ability to use the Atomos Shogun to its fullest potential in external video recording.

Audio has always been a weak link in all mirrorless cameras, but the newest firmware upgrade has taken the first step by improving the external audio capture. But still more needs to be done.

H.265 is a definite long term advantage allowing you to record twice as much as H.264 while still maintain the same professional quality standards. An added bonus is that you don’t need the excessive fast SDHC cards that can cause long term overheating issues and failure.

If you are serious about capturing stills or video, my advice is that this is THE camera to get. There is no other camera in this price range that delivers the bang for the buck that the Samsung NX1 Camera does.

Thank you for your interest and remember to use these hashtags in your social media.
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