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December 28th, 2015

Vincent Laforet Talks AIR

If anyone attended the PhotoPlus Show this past October, they would have had a chance to catch photographer and filmmaker Vincent Laforet discuss his well-publicized AIR project, a series of high altitude photographs of cities around the world.

In this TedX talk, Laforet explores the origin, execution and the images of the AIR project. Interestingly, Laforet explains how these aerial images would not have looked the same even 10 years earlier not simply because of the inevitable urban construction, but advances in LED lighting, which have changed the wavelength of our light pollution.

 

Via Imaging Resource

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Step Into Photo History: Inside Kodak’s Tech Vault

The Hidden History of the Zoom Lens in Film & History

This Software Promises to Make Cheap Lenses Awesome

December 18th, 2015

Great Photography and Filmmaking Reads for Your Weekend

Daniel Go | Flickr

Daniel Go | Flickr

Here’s a selection of interesting reads curated by PDN‘s editorial staff for your weekend of leisure and contemplation:

How NFL Films Caught Up With the Digital AgeWired

Immersive Story Telling Beyond the Single ScreenPDN

I Am Gary Smith and This Is Why I Shoot FilmEmulsive

Serious Play: Using Instagram for Art – New York Times Magazine

The Tri-X Factor Intelligent Life

The Young Photojournalists Taking the News to the StreetsDazed

How Chase Jarvis and Jeremy Cowart Are Using Periscope – Rangefinder

 

December 14th, 2015

Vimeo Launches Wider 4K Streaming

vimeo-logo

The online video service Vimeo will broaden access to 4K videos hosted on its site. Vimeo originally launched 4K streaming and downloading for select users earlier this year, but according to Variety, the service will make 4K videos available to all its users by the first quarter of 2016.

Central to Vimeo’s 4K efforts is the use of a technology called adaptive bit rate streaming, which measures a user’s available bandwidth on a continuous basis and adjusts streaming video quality accordingly. If a user’s bandwidth is limited, Vimeo will automatically adjust and send a lower-quality stream (rather than buffer the video) and will dynamically increase the quality of the stream when bandwidth conditions improve.

Adaptive streaming is used by YouTube, Netflix and other streaming video services but Vimeo is a late adopter.

Vimeo is also evaluating whether to automatically send a viewer the highest quality video based on their bandwidth, whether or not they manually select that option.

Read More:

Here’s the First Footage from the RED Raven

Why Quentin Tarantino Shot the Widest Format Film There Is

Watch a Film Camera and Lens Become Art

 

December 4th, 2015

Why Quentin Tarantino Shot the Widest Format Film There Is

Photographers and filmmakers know the value of using wide angle lenses to soak up an impressive background.

But there’s wide and then there’s Panavision’s Ultra 70mm, the widest cinema format there is (aspect ratio: 2.76:1). It’s been used in only a handful of films, including some famous Hollywood epics like Ben Hur, and it’s been decades since anyone’s taken up the mantle of 70mm ultra-wide filmmaking

That will change this winter with the release of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, which is the first film since 1966 to be shot in Ultra Panavision 70.

In the video below, Tarantino, along with his director of photography Robert Richardson, describe the thought process behind how, and why, they decided to resurrect decades-old tech for the film (some of the lenses hadn’t seen light since the 1960s).

Tarantino has been a strong advocate for keeping the “film” in filmmaking. In 2014, he was part of a group of high profile directors that successfully lobbied Kodak to continue making 35mm motion picture film.

 

August 26th, 2015

(Instant) Film Is Not Dead: Fujifilm Sees Strong Sales of Instax Cameras

Just last month, we noted how Fujifilm was putting a number of films on the chopping block. But according to an investor presentation, the company is still doing a brisk business in instant cameras.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 7.41.02 AM

What accounts for the rise in sales? According to Fuji, it’s thanks to young girls ages 10-20, who grew up in the digital age and see making instant prints as a “fresh experience.”

Whether they will continue to do so in the future remains to be seen, but those still using film appear to be having fun, so it’s bound to endure a bit longer.

(Via Imaging Resource)

June 11th, 2015

Three Reasons to Go 4K

Sponsored by Samsung

Display resolutions don’t change often, but when they do, the change is momentous. When the world switched from standard to high definition, the revolution transformed both the media and electronics industries.

A similar revolution is underway again, as the world starts its trek from high definition to 4K or “ultra-high definition.”

As with any change of this sort, early adopters face a number of challenges before taking the plunge, but those who do strike early can be rewarded. Here are three reasons why now is the best time to invest in 4K.

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Photo © Andrew Putschoegl

It’s the future

The consensus among market research firms is that 4K-television adoption is a matter of “when” not “if”—and the “when” starts just about now. The Consumer Electronics Association projects that 4 million 4K TVs will be shipped this year in the United States alone, up 208 percent from 2014. Worldwide, the trend looks similarly bullish. Futuresource Consulting pegs the global market for 4K TVs at 100 million in just three years, representing more than a third of every TV sold.

As those screens find their way into homes, the race is on to fill them with content that fully takes advantage of all that resolution. It’s why streaming services like Amazon and Netflix are rapidly building up their library of 4K videos, from original programs to feature films and documentaries. YouTube and Vimeo have also rolled out support for 4K video as well.

Whether your video is destined to be viewed on desktop monitors or TVs, creating a 4K “master” of your video is an investment in the future of your work, viewable on the highest quality displays ever built for the world’s living rooms.

It makes your HD video better

Many industries, such as wedding videography, don’t necessarily need to produce a 4K deliverable today. Even if you a client only requires an HD file, it can still make sense to shoot in 4K. All those extra pixels give you ample room to crop or reframe your video to improve image stabilization or remove extraneous detail without sacrificing resolution. You can pan across your 4K video using post-production software without rapidly running out of pixels.

Depending on how you’re shooting, a 4K-video file may also capture more than just additional pixels, but more color information as well. Armed with this additional color information, you can down-sample a 4K file to HD with improved color detail.

Screen Grabs Are Awesome

4kzoomin

Enhance! Zooming in on a 4K screen grab / Photo © Andrew Putschoegl

Shooting in 4K doesn’t just mean high-quality video; it can enhance your still photography, too. Isolating still images from HD video produces images that are a measly 1920×1080 pixels in size or about 2 megapixels—barely enough for a decent print.

A 4K still frame, on the other hand, is a chunkier file, either at 4096×2160 or 3840×2160 pixels in size, depending on your setting. That’s equivalent to an 8-megapixel image, ample resolution to print by.

This doesn’t just mean that stills from your video production will be higher quality (though they will be), it also means you can use 4K video as a “burst mode on steroids” for moving subjects to capture images that your camera might otherwise miss. It’s not necessarily applicable in every situation of course, but it opens up new creative possibilities that aren’t available to you when shooting in high def.

Samsung and PDN recently launched the 4K Filmmaking Challenge, giving motion shooters the opportunity to shoot a short 4K film. One grand-prize winner will receive $2,500, an NX1 and a profile in a print PDN/Samsung supplement. Check it out at 4kfilmmakingchallenge.com

May 13th, 2015

PDN Video: Gillian Laub on Winning Over Reluctant Subjects to Film “Southern Rites”

Gillian Laub: "Southern Rites" And The Challenges of Access from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

In 2009, Gillian Laub’s story in The New York Times Magazine about segregated high school proms in Mount Vernon, Georgia, stirred national outrage, which finally forced the community to integrate the proms. Afterwards, Laub faced down the hostility and threats of locals to work on a documentary film about race relations in the area. In this PDN video, she describes the challenges of filming where she was unwelcome, and how she managed to win the confidence of her subjects– including a murder suspect who had granted no media interviews before he sat down with Laub. Titled “Southern Rites,” the film debuts May 18 on HBO. Laub’s still photographs are showing at Bonnie Benrubi Gallery in New York City from May 14-June 27, 2015. Damiani will also publish a book of the work in June.

Related:
PDN Photo of the Day: Gillian Laub’s “Southern Rites”

Shaul Schwartz’s Reel Peak Films: A Production Company Devoted to Editorial Documentaries

March 12th, 2015

The Best Drone Movies: NYC Drone Film Festival Crowns Winners

We’re still in the infancy of drone cinematography, but there’s more than enough content available now to start passing judgement on it.

The New York City Drone Film Festival wrapped up earlier this month and handed out awards, or “Dronies” in nine categories. To enter, films had to be five minutes or less with at least 50 percent of the footage captured using a drone.

A few of the winners, like “Superman with a GoPro,” may be recognizable from their days on the viral video circuit, but a few were new to us. We’ve included a few of the winning films below. The full list is here. (more…)

February 5th, 2015

PDN Video Pick: Vincent Morisset’s Interactive “Way to Go”

Promotional still from "Way to Go"

Promotional still from “Way to Go”

When you travel from point A to point B, what do you see? How does the experience change when the route becomes familiar? These are questions asked in “Way to Go,” a new interactive video project funded by the National Film Board of Canada and premiered at the recent Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier program.

Part film, part game, “Way To Go” takes players through a 3D environment with a 2D character, following a predetermined path through an immersive, interactive environment. Players control a blockheaded animated figure, deciding whether to walk, run, stop, jump, fly, or investigate elements in the environment recorded on video.

“I’m really interested in the notion of space and time,” says Vincent Morisset, the project’s director, “and how we relate to our environment in real life, and if there was a way to transport or put into perspective this really universal premise of going from point A to point B.”

The visuals—art directed by Caroline Robert—are a striking mix of video footage, hand-drawn animation and live GL effects. Morisset captured the live video with a DIY pole-mounted 360-degree camera rig comprised of six GoPro cameras. He’s visible in the game as the black figure holding a pole that follows the main character everywhere through the interactive universe.

“In 2015 it’s less and less easy to get lost, we’re constantly knowing where we are,” Morisset says. “There’s something to the line and the path that resonates with how we deal with our environment.” As the character is confined to traversing the universe along a pre-determined path, the exploration is in the changing perspective—what do you run past, what do you stop and investigate?

The NFB previewed the project at a virtual reality at Sundance’s New Frontier utilizing the Oculus Rift VR headset. While the game is playable on any computer with a Web browser, the Oculus experience took full advantage of the 360-degree camera footage to provide a truly immersive experience.

Sounds are synced to the movements of the character. Composer Phillipe Lambert designed a Euclidean rhythm console so that the complex rhythms interweave seamlessly with the pace and movements of the character.

Lambert, Robert and Morisset, along with Édouard Lanctôt (a developer and technical director), make up AATOAA, Morisset’s Montreal-based digital studio. Their commercial clients include Red Bull and Google, and they’ve produced an interactive video for Arcade Fire’s “Just a Reflektor.” “Way to Go” is the team’s second personal project; their first, “BLA BLA,” was an interactive short film exploring human communication.

To experience “Way to Go” yourself, visit a-way-to-go.com. For more on the interactive projects produced with support from the National Film Board of Canada, visit: www.nfb.ca/interactive.

Promotional still from "Way to Go"

Promotional still from “Way to Go”

February 3rd, 2015

Ilford Offers Glimpse into the Mind of the 21st Century Film Photographer

fp4-plus-35mmThe photographic film business is a bit like the Black Knight — it’s been remorselessly hacked into bits, but it’s not dead yet.

In fact, it’s enjoying something of a resurgence as the Impossible Project, Ferrania, Lomography and others keep the flame alive.

Black-and-white film supplier Ilford recently surveyed their customers, canvassing “thousands” of users across 70 countries to understand why they’re shooting film. While the company didn’t release all the numbers, they did offer a few highlights that help shed some light on the state of film photography. To wit:

* 30 percent of survey respondents were under the age of 35 and 60 percent of them had picked up film photography over the past five years. Their interest in film was often spurred by receiving a film camera as a gift

* 84 percent of survey respondents were self-taught and 49 percent develop and print their own photos in a darkroom.

* 98 percent of respondents shoot black-and-white film, 31 percent did so exclusively

* 86 percent use roll film.

When asked why they choose to shoot film, photographers told Ilford that they “wanted to slow down.” The limitations of film, they said, forced them to think carefully about their craft as opposed to digital where “you just shoot.” Photographers also told Ilford they thought of film as “retro” and fun.