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2nd Unit Television
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Old June 25th, 2006, 09:42 AM   #31
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I cant give you a raise but I can get you a title!!! ;-)

Well, here we are after CineGear and I promised to address Stephen's coments so here goes.

First, “Could you have moved them both a little further from the wall and hit the space with the output from a 200-300 watt soft light for a more even back illumination? Given the dark clothes, that would have given a bit more contrast and by effect might have increased the apparent brightness of the shots.” The fact of the matter is that it’s very, very difficult to direct a cinematic icon like George. I tried unsuccessfully to redress the set and move things away from the stark-white walls but George insisted on the setting. Why? Because he wanted to over-emphasize shadows and their part in the picture. “By over-emphasizing something, you’ll remember it and, in your own films, you’ll certainly modify the settings to meet your own needs, I guaranteee you’ll remember when George wanted to overemphasize shadows and you’ll remember the issue and importance of shadows, probably the most important aspect of cinematography.” So, while the shadows look out of place, they actually serve the purpose of “2nd Unit” better than I could have ever thought of. That’s why he’s George Spiro Dibie and I’m me.

Second, “That was an indicator of slightly uneven illumination, I believe, although I think his proximity to the monitor screen might have had something to do with it. That had to be a complicated lighting problem and overall it was not a bad view.”
Yes it was very difficult, incorporating and using properly practical light but that mistake is all mine. I’ve always struggled with lighting which is one of the reasons I’m doing this; to learn as much as others are. Lighting is the very foundation of cinematography and because 90% of what we do is reality and sports, we don’t have the chance to practice that art and craft and like anything, if you don’t practice, you lose the ability. Drama, comedy and other “setting” shots all depend on lighting. Sports does not so we’ll get better as you get better, I promise.

As for the lighting issue, Stephen’s absolutely right and I thank him for explaining that. Another important thing to note here is what the equation means to the set. Lighting has always had two drawbacks; weight and heat, both of which sap the energy of the cast and crew. LitePanels addresses both of these issues positively, weight obviously but heat especially. When heat builds up on a set, money and time which is money is wasted. Everyone equates the loss of time to makeup and wardrobe but that’s only about 10% of the problem. The actors work hard to make it into character and stay there through the performance. When you have to break the action for a makeup touch-up or wardrobe redress, you not ony lose that time and money but typically it can take as many as 4-6 “takes” for the actors to ramp back up to the level of performance needed or a particular scene. Thus, defeating the arch-enemy of the industry, heat, is a major time and money saver and LitePanels is doing that so well they’re selling out of stock at the factory every day.

The typo will be fixed today but the comment about “The signoff at the end looked clumsy to me. I wonder if it would have looked better if you had faded to black while Jonathan was still looking at the camera instead of having him look for a couple of seconds and cut as he starts to swing forward to get up. It's a style thing, I'm sure, but it seemed a little odd - like he was waiting for a cue to cut and it didn't come, so he finally just got up” is super important to anyone in this business. Check your work, no matter who’s doing it, before it goes out. The ending was the wrong one put in at the last minute and not checked before hitting the deadline with seconds to spare. We shot a number of different endings that days and I selected the one that I wanted. But it wasn’t the one you saw. The wrong one got sent to editing and I didn’t watch the whole series before it went up so I never caught it. So the lesson is, always check your final product before posting. It might sound simple and you’d think that after 22 years in this business, I wouldn’t make that mistake but I did and, well, sorry is the only thing I can say.

What’s important to note is that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. 2nd Unit is all about relative amateurs using affordable equipment to turn out exceptional products. Paolo, who most of you know through this board, is hard at work re-cutting the first episode to address the issues the board has raised. Volunteering to do it, he’s using Adobe Premiere, a product he’s never used before. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with and his comments relative to using the product.

Thanks again for your comments and we’ll se you next week.
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Old June 25th, 2006, 09:48 AM   #32
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I cant give you a raise but I can get you a title!!! ;-)
The hell with a title! What about Benfits??? Health, dental? Company car?
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Old June 25th, 2006, 11:47 AM   #33
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Sorry, all we can offer is alot of good information. And I thought you'd like to know who we have scheduled to appear in the first few weeks. George will be back for the second part this week and after that we'll be moving on to Rob Kositchek, Professor at USC School of Film. He'll be followed by Jody Eldridge, DP for "JAG" and now "NCIS" and the poster-boy for Sony. He's going t be talking about alot of things not the least of which is the amazing new Sony XDCam. He's mixed its footage with that of the 950 and says you'd be hard-pressed to see where the 950 ends and the 350 begins. We also have Mike Baumann, gaffer for "Armageddon", "The Island", "Munich" and "23" along with Mauro Fiore, DP 2nd Unit for "Armageddon" and I"Te sland". Rodney Charters of course will be joining us as well as "Dukes of Hazzard 2"'s Brian Crane. Jeff Murrel is in the mix also along with David Tatersol, DP for the last 2 episodes of "Star Wars" and finally Raphael Sanchez, gaffer for all of the "Pirates of the Caribbean". It's really an exciting star to what we hope is a great year of shows and, after CineGear and mmeting Tiffin Filters' people, we start shooting a series on fileters and their use in the field.
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Old June 25th, 2006, 12:02 PM   #34
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When is it going to become a paying member site?
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Old June 25th, 2006, 12:54 PM   #35
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We haven't really decided yet although we figured 4 weeks or so. I want people to be able to see what the site has to offer first and to that end, the list of directors, DPs, gaffers and ASC members offering to appear has been very humbling after the site debuted last Wednesaday even with it's issues that we're working on. Almost without exception, all the DPs appearing on CineGear's panels congratulated me and offered their help and appearance so we'll be having Izzy and Laszlo and the like on the site and I want to pay them for their time or at least offer it to them and let them decide. Right now I'm averaging about $1500 per week with the bandwidth, talent, crew, regular site and apportioned costs of my regular office staff. You can figure makeup is $250, sound is $350 and talent is $500 each per day, all crew that are necessary to the show but do not benefit directly from it so I have to pay them. The cameras and editing are the only "free" crew becasue that's what 2nd Unit is all about; amateurs using our "sponsors" products and by "free" I mean I still have to pay for insurance, food and a dozen other things and by "sponsors" I don't mean we're receiving financial support from them. If we were, there'd be too much of a chance for bias and I don't want that. We bought, for excample, 6 JVC 100HDs handing over $30k+ in cash to lens the show before JVC even knew what we were doing so our use of their camera, purchase and operating costs are out-of-pocket expenses and our accolades of them and/or their camera are not influenced by their contribution whatsoever. And right now our accolades stop dead at their camera because the company, or more precisely a couple of their highly-placed executives leave alot to be desired when it comes to honor and integrity. But that doesn't adversely affect our use of or reporting on their equipment. They'll be out the door sooner or later. People like that don't last long in this or any other business but their cameras are really working well.

Anyway, that's another story. Bringing the site live after 6 months has been roughly $125k hard, approtioned costs. That means we'll hit the original $150k investment I've set aside, again, hard, directly apportioned costs in about 4 weeks. After that I have to look at where we'll break even so the show at the very least pays for itself and its talent. Then, after people have had the chance to see that something like 5 or 10 bucks a month isn't much to pay for Academy or Emmy Award winners spending an hour talking film, hopefully they'll join and provide us with their own films to showcase and critique. I mean you figure you spend $5 or $10 for a magazine that you read and toss. Membership here means you'll always have access to a new show every week jammed with profesional advice and information, access to downloads of those shows, sepcial reports on things like filters and other tricks of the trade, on-set podcasts and special pricing at AbelCine for members only. All that 4 times a month instead of once a month like a magazine so, when you think about it, if you're saving 5% off your purchases of filmmaking equipment by being a member of 2nd Unit and you buy a Chrosziel Matte Box at $1500, you just saved $75 off the box becasue you spent $5 or $10 a month for membership to 2nd Unit. That's our thinking anyway. What's yours?
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Old June 25th, 2006, 01:03 PM   #36
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That's our thinking anyway. What's yours?
I'm thinking, I need to make more money, or drink cheaper beer. Yech! ;)

Seriously though, I'm enjoying 2nd unit so far, all 1 episodes... but I'm just not sure about paying for site membership. And I do totally understand why you will charge. I'm not saying you are a money grubbing tyrant or anything like that. I'm saying I'm cheap. And easy. But that is a different story.
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Old June 25th, 2006, 01:10 PM   #37
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If they ar appropriate to answer, I have a couple of questions:

1. What insurance do you need and where do you get it? Do you need liability? or are you talking about equipment insurance?

2. What kind of releases are you using for the people in the video? Is a copy of the release available?

3. This has probably been answered, but I missed it: what framerate and format are you shooting the show in? What software are you using to compress the web video?

Thank you!
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Old June 25th, 2006, 01:21 PM   #38
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I'm sort of with Jack on the insurance question. That is really a question that most videographers haven't a clue about. Maybe do an episode on the insurance racket... I mean business?
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Old June 25th, 2006, 01:43 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Forman
I'm sort of with Jack on the insurance question. That is really a question that most videographers haven't a clue about. Maybe do an episode on the insurance racket... I mean business?
I'd vote for an entire show or two on the legal issues indie filmmakers need to be aware of when shooting. There must be a bunch of horror stories entertainment attorneys could share. A distributor could give info on all the releases they require. Which brings up another show... distribution - how it works and how filmmakers get completely screwed by some distributors. What to watch out for. And... do you really want to give up your rights or just sell direct these days?

Technique is cool - but if you get sued or can't market what you're creating then you're broke and about to be out of the game altogether.
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Old June 25th, 2006, 04:18 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Ames
That's our thinking anyway. What's yours?
The membership program is a good idea, but IMO, it is going to be a flop based off the first episode. The first episode really lacked a utility purpose and even though I thought George was interesting, I was disappointed by the lack of detailed visuals explaining different lighting techniques. The show only had a few examples and they were really vague.

IMO, the heart of this show should be the direct teaching of a film/video related topic. I would make a story line that outlined the methods of delivery and I would severely* recommend detailed visuals. I know how important these visuals are because I am a visual learner and I make training videos all the time using this philosophy.

Episode 1 actually reminded me of this skit put on at a non-public probation get together. All of the people in the audience were probation workers and they performed a skit that metaphored the effects of drugs. Obviously, all the people in the audience understood the effects of drugs, so why have a skit about it? Simple, its a probation event and they deal with drugs all the time so it's only fitting to have a skit on drugs. This example is actually really bad but that was how I felt.

Most of us know that lighting is a crucial tool to help tell the story. Now we just need some information to help use and apply this tool.

I can see most of us paying 10-20 bucks a month for a program that is able to give us ideas and teach us something we can use in real life.

Thanx for putting this all together and hope it works out in the end.
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Old June 25th, 2006, 04:33 PM   #41
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It was their first show. Give them a chance to grow into it.
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Old June 25th, 2006, 06:14 PM   #42
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Thanks all. I couldn't agree more with what Jonathan Nelson said however, and again, with all due respect, it is my show and my risk and I wanted the first episode to show a very good friend of mine who happens to be both an industry icon and a little difficult to direct because he has so much information to provide and such a burning desire to share it. So he takes one question and really runs with it. So what. But you know what? That's OK because that's George and more people should be like him. It'll be up to me to present his technical information that you all want and deserve in the next episodes with alot more technical substance but the opening episode wasn't meant to be crammed with technical informnation. It was meant to show that a guy can be a great human being and still be a giant in the industry who's forgotten more that any of us will ever know. Do I risk losing viewers? Yes. But that's OK because this was never started as a money making endeavor. It was started to give people who will, more than likely, never set foot on an honest to goodness sound stage in thieir life but still love filmmaking an opportunity to see and hear the best of the best people in this business. It was started to give viewers access to people that they otherwise would probably never get to listen to talk about things that can make them a better filmmaker. And if people get 1, just 1 idea out of our first show, the we all win because you weren't supposed to ge anything out of it other than the opportunity to meet one of the greatest people I or the thousands who have worked with him know.

Now, than being said, the next episodes ARE going to contain MUCH MORE cutaways with a ton of visual information because like Jonathan Nelson (Nice name by the way, Jonathan!!!), all of us are visual people and that's where we're going to excell. The series we're doing with Tiffin lenses as an example DEMANDS VISUALS. You can't believe the difference fileters make if used correctly in proper instances with the correct camera settings. The only area we're struggling with is access to the footage our guests have done because of licensing issues and the ridiculous price the studios want just to run a few minutes of example footage. But other studios are saying, "Fine, great, here it is." So believe me, we're doing the best we can to bring exactly what you want to the show but I didn't want to just jump into the technical with the first show. I want you to get to know the people I know as well. Most of them are wonderful people who can teach us all alot. Then there are others like George say's in his interview you wat to tell to "Go F-O".

Anyway, thanks for the support and thanks for the input. We'll do our best for you all. And by "we'll" I mean Jaime Emmanuelli who became a partner three weeks ago and Paolo Ciccone who became a partner today. It's gotten so much larger than I ever thought that I can't do it alone so I had to bring on people I know and trust and who share my vision of bringing education to the independent filmmaking community. We're all working hard to do this so it's great when we get feedback, good and bad. We'll incorporate your ideas, especially the legal issue. You guys are gonna love that one and THANK YOU!!! Joel and Jack for that I idea. I never thought of it. I have a very good friend who's one of Hollywood's largest entertainment attorneys, J. Michael Kelly who'll jump at the opportunity. Good call, guys! Consider it an episode...or two.
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Old June 25th, 2006, 06:22 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Walker
If they ar appropriate to answer, I have a couple of questions:

1. What insurance do you need and where do you get it? Do you need liability? or are you talking about equipment insurance?

2. What kind of releases are you using for the people in the video? Is a copy of the release available?

3. This has probably been answered, but I missed it: what framerate and format are you shooting the show in? What software are you using to compress the web video?

Thank you!
Let me answer this by directing you first to a must-have book as far as I'm concerned. It's called "The COmplete Production Handbook" by Focal Press. Grab that and you'll have most of the forms and answers you'll need as an independent. The other things like horro stories and especially distribution are serious, in-depth questions that warrant a pofessionals advice. I'll ask our distributors to do a show or two on just that subject including the pitfalls in the near future. Now, you see, these are the things I was talking about. We don't expect you to pay for a site that has stuff you don't care about. I've been in this business for 20+ years working my way up and have alot of resources to bring in. Jaime Emmanuelli does too so kep the suggestions coming in an we'll schedule the shows accordingly.
J
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Old June 25th, 2006, 06:43 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Ames
So, while the shadows look out of place, they actually serve the purpose of “2nd Unit” better than I could have ever thought of. That’s why he’s George Spiro Dibie and I’m me.
What’s important to note is that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. 2nd Unit is all about relative amateurs using affordable equipment to turn out exceptional products.
Hmmmmm. Dibie insisted for pedagogical reasons. Very clever. Now I wonder if there isn't a lemonade kind of idea for your series buried in that approach. Here's one you may not find to your liking at first, so let it percolate.

Suppose you intentionally embedded some mistakes, technical or otherwise, into the fabric of the program, told the viewers that X number of "problems" are in the program, and gave contest points to the first viewers who correctly reported them all. Adult learners are often stimulated in the task by games as much as children are. In a subsequent segment you could announce the "winners," (whose reward may simply be the honor of being named as such), and review the mistakes, sometimes suggesting correctives or letting them stand as motivation for an installment to come. Very viewer interactive. Of course, if you don't tell them how many problems to expect, you can cover your gaffes by adding to the pool of intentional problems. Too much of that though and the pros will see through the ruse, so keeping to a preannounced tally would save your credibility - unless production got particularly sloppy.

Maybe this particular lemonade is a little pulpy, but there might be something in there you can use. You might not want to start off with it, but introduce it as a special feature later. Anyway, I ramble.
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Old June 25th, 2006, 06:54 PM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Ames
It'll be up to me to present his technical information that you all want and deserve in the next episodes with alot more technical substance but the opening episode wasn't meant to be crammed with technical informnation.
You start the show by saying that, and frankly he got more technical than I expected based on your introduction. I just watched the show and listened to the guy w/o giving much of a thought to the production value and enjoyed it. Some people have made legit points, but I've seen a lot of instructional stuff where the training production value could have been better but the actual training was really good. Not saying that's where you want to live, but it's not atypical.

Then there's the stuff that has slick production value but the content stinks. You REALLy don't want to be there. :-)

When the production value and content are where you want them to be then it'll be time to charge and it'll sell. Until then, keep it free and let people know you're ramping up. I think if you present it as you did here - "We're learning right along with everyone else" that's totally cool. If you're pulling stuff from THEIR reels and they are explaining it well that'll be what people want to see... especially if they keep a slant towards what indies can do on a very limited budget.

Talk to your attorney about Fair Use of footage in question. Since this is educational it might be OK. Once you start charging that could change things. Not sure.
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