Radar is not an option in this business – it’s got to come standard. Failing to recognize enabling technologies and innovative techniques can be fatal. We asked 12 creatives to share what they’ve seen that they think will help form production trends this year.
We caught them while taking breaks from shooting Super Bowl spots, rendering CG sequences, planning features, cutting TV shows and mastering DVDs.
Going on the record with their discoveries and inspirations are Bryan Buckley, Catherine Hardwicke, Andrew Jarecki, Albert Maysles, Mark Sennet, Alan Bluming, Allen Hughes, David Lyle, Vicky Jenson, Eric Bergeron, Rob Letterman and Wylie Stateman.
Don’t be surprised if you hear that digital video is hot, Michel Gondry is hotter, and if the economy gets better, post guys may interrupt sessions to, uh, day-trade…
What do you think is the single most important technical and/or
economic development for the entertainment production and post
professional and how will it change the way that he works or generates
Director, Hungry Man
Recent Work: " Alan Cumming " for Orange, "Bored to Death" for Ikea
Most important economic development: The recent resurgence of Wall
Street. Yes, corporate America smiles gleefully upon the return of the
stock market to the glory days of the late 90s, but the postproduction
world should view this development with the utmost concern, as the late
90s were a dark time indeed for post facilities. Do we not remember
day-trading fever, entire transfer sessions suddenly being crippled by
the announcement that Dell stock is making a run? Desperate calls from
our friends telling us to buy, going online every 10 minutes to track
the prices- while at the same time no one is paying attention to the
color of the Pepto Bismol on the monitors. And in the end, running out
of time to color correct and saying, "Good pink is good enough. My
stock is at 90 and I just bought it at 30 an hour ago."
Recent Work: Director, Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown (in pre-production); Production Designer, Three Kings, Vanilla Sky
Most important technical development: We shot [Thirteen ] in Super
16mm, only saw a few film dailies, and edited on the Avid knowing we
were going to do a digital intermediate. Our editor, Nancy Richardson,
did various Avid effects- speed-ups, slow-downs, repeated frames. We
never cut the negative, just provided a digital edit list. So the cost
of the digital intermediate was balanced by the cost of the
opticals/effects, the negative cutting, color timing, and the blow-up
to 35mm. It still ended up costing more than the total of all the
parts, but Technicolor Digital Intermediates gave us an "indie-budget"
deal, we had to stick to our time limit, and we were able to accomplish
color/saturation /grain changes in a gradual way that would not have
been possible by any other method. In a way, you could say that we
saved money also by "painting" some of the sets, walls, trash cans at
the schools, and extras’ wardrobe in the digital process instead of in
real life. By working with the colors in post, we were able to create a
controlled palette that we couldn’t afford to create on the set.
For us, it worked out great with a manageable extra cost- but it was
something we planned on from the beginning. I had always wanted the
saturation to change as the lead character’s moods changed. At first
her world was slightly desaturated and dull, then when she joined the
popular crowd, it became more saturated and beautiful, with golden skin
tones like a commercial. As she got more involved in the crazy stuff,
the chroma cranked up and the colors became too saturated and garish.
By the third act, when things are taking a downhill turn, the color
begins to drain away and the grain increases- the image becomes
desaturated and gritty- almost black and white. At the very end a ray
of hope comes back and so does a little color.
Recent work: Capturing the Friedmans
Most important technical development: I think many new developments can be summed up in the word miniaturization.
The most obvious examples of this are the shrinking of cameras and
editing equipment, and the streamlining of the communication process,
which lets us send segments of our films instantly to far off
destinations so we can work with talented people all over the world.
The clearest example of the power of miniaturization in making
Capturing the Friedmans was how I was able to work with my composer,
Andrea Morricone, despite the fact that he and I were both living in
Rome but our editor Richard Hankin was in Manhattan. When Richard would
post a segment to our server in New York, I’d download it to my laptop
in Rome. Then I’d quickly drive over to Andrea’s apartment near the
Pantheon and we’d watch the scene, and he’d play a music cue into a
recording program on the same laptop. I’d drive back home and send the
finished segment back to Richard. The technology allowed me the freedom
to use a wonderful composer and collaborate across giant distances,
contributing immeasurably to the finished film.
Recent and past work: Yanki No!, Gimme Shelter, With the Filmmaker: Portraits by Albert Maysles
Most important technical development: In 1960 I was in Cuba at a
reception at the Chinese Embassy when, as I stood shoulder-to-shoulder
with Fidel Castro, a messenger came running in handing him a telegram.
Upon reading it, he turned to me and translated it: "Your State
Department has just broken off relations with Cuba." There was no way I
could have been there with the paraphernalia of film, camera and sound
person. So I missed it.
But next time I’m with Fidel (maybe December) and hopefully when he
gets news- surely I’ll be with the Sony PD-150 miniDV in hand or the
Sony DCR-PC5 in my pocket, just in case.
Presently my son and I are videotaping with a dozen underprivileged
kids, each with a parent in prison and each with a video camera in
hand. Imagine what this will do for these kids, and for those who may
get to see the results of their otherwise undiscovered talents.
Recent work: HBO’s K Street
Most important technical development:The introduction of the DV camera
has probably had the single greatest impact on our industry. It makes a
show like K Street possible.
We are able to shoot the show in three days, edit it and have it on air
on Sunday of each week. This explosion of technology has also vastly
enlarged the entry point into the entertainment industry by altering
the economic factors that had previously served as gatekeeper.
It has lowered the cost of every aspect of production because
departments have been truncated or reduced. And now we can preserve the
look of film without the high cost of actually shooting on film.
QUESTION: What turned your head this year in terms of technique (movies, TV,
commercials, or music video), and how might it advance the art form?
Recent credits: Director, Eltro’s Motorboat (music video),
teaser/trailer for Men in Black II, Blade II (prologue), and campaigns
for Nintendo and Nissan
What turned his head: Michel Gondry’s latest music video for The White
Stripes’ "The Hardest Button to Button" really turned my head this year.
Its technique mocks the polished, expensive and digitally "tricky" gags
upon which much of today’s work relies. His raw, unapologetic hard cuts
of in-camera animation- complete with imperfect moments- make me feel
that the art form of technology will be advanced by looking back to a
more playful, child-like approach of image creation/manipulation
tempered with what we currently know is possible in this digital/design
Recent credits: Co-director, Menace II Society, From Hell; Director, Al
Green’s "I Can’t Stop" (music video), the forthcoming USA Network
series Touching Evil
What turned his head: The thing that recently got me- and this guy’s
done so much good work- was Mark Romanek’s video for "Hurt" by Johnny
Cash. I try to dissect that, and what I was moved by was that, while
Romanek has done some of the best videos I’ve ever seen, he didn’t
impede [by imposing] his visual style or anything on that video. Cash
was a place in his life where his voice might not sound the best, and
it might not have been the best video, but because of who he was and
where he was, those words really came across and it was probably the
most powerful video of the year. It taught me a lot about restraint. If
you’re working with anybody, no matter how old the person is, if
they’ve got it, they’ve got it- don’t impede it. It was an inspiration
President, Entertainment and Drama, FreemantlMedia, North America
Recent credits: American Idol, World Idol, Cupid, The Price is Right, Family Feud
What turned his head: As the Matrixtrilogy rolled to a close this
year, I continued to enjoy not only the visual effects and special
photographic style, but also the increasingly threatening and
disturbing world (not unlike our own) created by the filmmakers. It
would be interesting to take unscripted television into the realm of
science fiction by experimenting with populating a cyber-world with
"reality contestants." I wonder what would happen if we challenged
participants within a physically and psychologically heightened
environment? How would it grind them down? More importantly, how would
contestants triumph fighting the oppression of that kind of
environment? It would be the antithesis of The Truman Show. We’ve had
romance, adventure and musical reality programming. Could the time be
right to open reality to fantasy?
Vicky Jenson, Eric "Bibo" Bergeron Rob Letterman, Co-directors and Writer
Recent credits: Shark’s Tale
What turned Vicky’s head: Some of the most visually innovative work
I’ve seen is in music videos, especially Missy Elliott and her
collaboration with Dave Meyers. This is a great format to experiment
and push boundaries. I’d love to try it myself! I’m also a huge fan of
the Charlie Kaufman / Spike Jonze team, because to me story is the
core, and all the technical innovations in the world won’t save it if
it’s not there. The innovation in their work is the storytelling itself.
What turned Eric’s head: Michel Gondry often turns my head, and he did
it again with his video for the White Stripes, " The Hardest Button to
Button." Gondry has the ability to incorporate old techniques into his
work and make it fresh and unique – a technique originated by the great
Georges Mà©lià¨s and made famous by Norman McLaren. With each new
combination of techniques something original emerges, then morphs again
as the cycle continues endlessly.
What turned Rob’s head: Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t a mega-budget FX
film, but just the opposite. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie 28 Days
Later despite the fact that it was shot on digital video- in fact, that
made it even scarier to me. I think the filmmakers advanced the art
form by reminding us that movies are about telling compelling stories,
regardless of the medium.
Sound Designer/Supervising Sound Editor, Soundelux
Recent credits: Windtalkers, Unfaithful, Shrek, The Perfect Storm
What turned his head: Finally, sound is secure in what we hope may become another golden age. Digital record, digital edit, digital release and 24-bit, 48k sampling have ll been widely recognized and embraced. The real head-turner this year in post-production is in picture, where digital intermediate — or electronic negative — is creating a virtual rat's nest of options, opportunities, creative alternatives and overall confusion. We are truly on the verge of the next goldenage of film.