Tuesday morning in Park City began with a determined snowfall, a little reminder that no matter how much heat Sundance generates, it’s winter at 7,000 feet in the Wasatch Mountains. Unlike other film festivals, Mother Nature puts on her own show here.
First stop this wintry white morning was the “HD Cinematography on a Budget” discussion sponsored by Panasonic at the Technicolor Gallery at Treasure Mountain Inn—yes, at Slamdance—where Hot Rod Cameras founder Illya Friedman (below) held forth on Panasonic’s new AG-AF100 Micro Four Thirds AVCCAM camcorder, which happens to be this year’s “official Slamdance camera.”
Specifically, Illya was in Park City to showcase his “AF100 Tuner Kit,” which includes a Hot Rod PL mount, PL support chassis, and tripod baseplate—15mm rods not included. According to Illya, the only PL-mount system for Micro Four Thirds with a shimmable flange focal depth for perfect focus-ring accuracy. Demand was brisk, he said, with 75-80 kits sold already and more on order.
Illya brought along his own AF100, handle removed, tricked out with shoulder pad, hand grips, Cineroid electronic viewfinder (just introduced at IBC 2010, fed by HDMI, powered by a Sony battery), and a 50mm Zeiss Compact Prime. I sampled the goods on my shoulder. Balanced, solid and sweet.
Illya was particularly excited by the news that the Sundance dramatic competition film Like Crazy, directed by Drake Doremus and shot by DP John Gulesarian on a Canon EOS 7D with Zeiss Ultra Primes using Hot Rod Camera’s 7D PL mount, had on Sunday become the first big sale at Sundance, going to Paramount for $4 million after all-night bidding.
Next I trekked down Main Street to the New York Lounge, where ARRI’s Guenter Noesner (above) led a panel on the ins & outs of Alexa’s production/post workflow. World-premiered to the gathering was writer/director Aloura Charles charming, light-hearted short about a hapless Sundance festival devotee determined to score an impossible screening ticket, shot with Alexa on Saturday on the streets of Park City (see Saturday’s blog). Our indefatigable hero overcomes the odds to obtain his golden ticket, and in the last shot is seen blissfully munching popcorn in the front row of what looks like the art-deco Egyptian Theater on Main Street, flickering light illuminating his ear-to-ear grin. How was the impression of screen flicker obtained? An iPhone’s flicker effect.
Noesner said that Alexa’s upper exposure index, currently ISO 1600, will be doubled to 3200 with the introduction of a Build 3.0 firmware update in about a week. He also showed a still photo of a blonde model handsomely lit front/rear by two iPhones on C-stands, a demonstration created by veteran cinematographer Bill Bennett, ASC, for a production class Bennett is teaching. Before revealing the light stands, Bennett showed the end result and asked his class to guess how it was lit. Impossible to do. We are definitely living in crazy times.
Next up was a screening of Life in a Day, exec-produced by Ridley and Tony Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald—with a splashy animated YouTube opening credit.
On July 24, 2010, YouTube solicited viewers around the globe to submit day-in-the-life videos of themselves for a mass-participatory project that would result in a feature-film collage depicting 24 hours of life on Earth. Citizens of 192 countries responded with 80,000 submissions. While 5,000 hours of personal and often off-beat footage—countless formats, aspect ratios, languages—would seem a recipe for editing paralysis, Macdonald and editor Joe Walker have achieved the improbable, fashioning a brilliant, poignant, and possibly classic human-centric counterpoint to Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 Koyaanisqatsi. Starting and ending in the deep of night, people around the world wake, pee, dress, cook, eat, get born, milk goats, pound flour, shine shoes, skydive, and get on with their lives in innumerable ways until nightfall returns. Makes you proud to belong to this global tribe of upright, video-crazed primates.
On Monday, the non-profit National Geographic picked up U.S. theatrical distribution rights for a joint day-and-date release along with YouTube on July 24, 2011.
Extraordinary times indeed.
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