Posted 1 day ago

Bankers got this commercial banned in Switzerland. It’s the best advert ever made. It takes something abstract - food speculation - and makes it concrete. I wish I made it. It is my inspiration for a purposeful filmmaking life, in the age of oligarchy, austerity, stagnation and environmental collapse.

Links:
Johann Hari: How Goldman gambled on starvation (2010)

What Goldman Sachs should admit: it drives up the cost of food (2013)

Posted 1 week ago

A cybernetic organism shot in 2.4k raw with Blackmagic Cinema Camera and Canon 100mm f2.8 IS lens.

After messing around with 4k and comparing the BMCC and BMPC4k, I felt compelled to return to the BMCC and more fully explore raw and 2.4k delivery. The camera has a 2.5k sensor, but the image is 2.4k, or to be exact, 2400 x 1000 pixels when cropped at cinema’s 2.4:1 ratio. There is something very satisfying about the dimensions matching the ratio, which also basically matches my iMac screen, so it can be viewed at actual size - unlike the 4k images from the Production camera.

Registered Vimeo users can download original at 2.4k.

Edited and finished in FCPX without any LUTs - basic black and white in good old-fashioned colour! The raw footage was originally processed in Resolve. To the extent that I want to embrace this approach, I also want to embrace Resolve for final finishing.

Originally I uploaded a slightly noise-reduced version and the banding was terrible. I should learn better. With the BMCC, it becomes possible to embrace noise - because it’s pretty filmic as far as noise goes.

Music by Ezra Fike and Than van Nispen

No bugs were harmed in the making of this film. It’s leg was already snapped when I found it. I saw a 2 year old girl running from the scene.

(If you are a parent, the toys are much better these days. You can get fascinating bugs that seem to exhibit intelligence. Cybernetic comes from the Greek word ‘to steer’ which is mostly what they do, using their antennae. When this one meets an obstacle, it backs up and turns before continuing – assuming it’s not flat on it’s back ;-) My personal reference for a model of cybernetics is a thermostat: it has a sensor, it responds to feedback from the it. For a filmic reference model, think of the MōVI stabiliser.)

Posted 1 week ago

"Fed up of final demands, whining relatives and Debtors’ Prison?
Wonga - Your soul is ours”

Satire from @Brandy_Snap

Via ITV News

Posted 2 weeks ago

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Venezuela’s president claims the Obama administration is fomenting unrest with the aim of provoking a Ukraine-style ‘slow-motion’ coup

More from The Guardian

More: USAID Subversion in Latin America Not Limited to Cuba

Posted 2 weeks ago

This inspiring short film celebrates an important milestone in an audacious project to replace every kerosene lamp in Africa with small, portable solar lights by 2020.

In 2009, the charity SolarAid distributed just 5,000 solar lights. This year, through their social enterprise SunnyMoney, they reached a million lights. This short film celebrates the hard work of all the supporters, entrepreneurs, school teachers, students, volunteers, and fundraisers who made this happen, and will hopefully inspire everyone to the next million.

Many families in rural Africa will spend something like half their income on kerosene to light their homes. It keeps them poor and the health effects are disastrous: it’s like each member of the family smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day. Most families can pay for a light in a matter of months, and then direct all the money they spent on kerosene to better food, housing, clothing, education, medicine and so on.

This film will have it’s first public screening on April 9th at Google, London. While there is evidence that the impact of the solar lamps on education is enormous, Google is funding a study to measure just how big the impact is. The lamps are often distributed through schools, and they mean children can study after the sun goes down.

While I’m personally cautious about the notion that you can solve big political economic problems by throwing technology at them, this is a a hugely inspiring project. Who would imagine a tiny solar lamp would have such an enormous impact?

Find out more and get involved at solar-aid.org

Music by Dexter Britain and Matthew Tyas

Made by bradbell.tv in collaboration with Elly White @SolarAid and Robin Mwanza, Namu Akombaetwa, Mr. Ndambo, the Haundu family, and Alex Burrough in Zambia.

Shot on a Blackmagic Cinema Camera in and around Mapanza, Zambia.

Posted 2 weeks ago

"The city of London, shrouded in a Dickensian blanket of smog, as light winds, Sahara dust, and dirty air from the continent conspire to produce air pollution levels right at the top of the chart." - Sky News

Shot on the Blackmagic Production Camera in 4k. Shot at 400 ASA with a Canon 28mm f2.8 lens at f5.6, at 7:30am on 31 March 2014. Graded with an Ilford Delta 400 film LUT from FilmConvert. (More on that below.)

After a slew of rather ugly low-light, ISO, and noise comparisons between the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and the newer 4k Production camera, I was anxious to publish some footage from the Production camera that played to it’s strengths. I took the opportunity of a misty morning in London to get some decent 4k shots.

This was shot at the onset of Britain’s week of smog - although to be clear, the images do not show smog - or in fact, mist - but fog. Fog is basically clouds at ground level. Fog is defined by visibility that is less than one kilometer, where mist is lighter, with greater visibility. Not being able to see across the park means it’s fog - but mist is a nicer, more positively photographic word - and it also refers to a previous video with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera in the mist, although I guess that was fog too :-)

The smog that has been plaguing the UK is much less visible, but I wanted to give some context to the time and the place because it situates it more concretely in a wider experience and makes it more memorable and resonant. I took the idea of using a news sample from an earlier family doc, when we were on holiday on the Isle of Wight during the riots of 2011. And over the past few weeks we have been reconsidering everything in the context of insane London house prices, business-as-usual politics, business-as-usual education for our little ones, and the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report which suggests that business-as-usual is suicide. Nothing like a toddler to sharpen up the old empathy and long range thinking.

Music by johnny_ripper

I was also influenced by FKY’s, The Sea Also Rises which is one of the most beautiful and moving videos I’ve seen in some time. France shared the recent floods with England.

Also, please note the new addition to our neighbourhood: a shiny new CCTV Xmas tree outside the park gates, ostensibly to protect us from the totalitarian levels of surveillance we enjoy from the NSA/GCHQ, who record every aspect of our formerly private lives, finally penetrating inside our homes via digital communications. For me at least, our whole lives are packed into this little film.

The black and white grade is very strange for me as I’d normally be the person arguing on aesthetic grounds for colour. I’ve literally never created a black and white image before. However, the fog had already taken most of the colour out of the images, and with the increased resolution, it felt like it needed a more reductive approach. The Production Camera is also a more contrasty camera than I’m used to, although the Ilford D400 was the least contrasty of black and white LUTs, as I recall. There is zero grain because it would detract from the fog and get slammed in compression. I normally shoot with a 2.4:1 crop, which is etched in marker on my cameras, as it’s more compositionally elegant and mathematically pure :-)

View in 1080p. Registered Vimeo users can download the original file in 4k, as Vimeo doesn’t display 4k yet. I think I got away with a pretty low data rate for the H.264 file at a mere 40Mbps.

The Guardian has more on the smog.

Posted 2 weeks ago

BMCC stray RGB pixels in low light

…It seems everyone underestimates 10bit ProRes. As an editor, the change is bigger than raw, I think. I haven’t done serious tests, but I’ve come to believe the Blackmagic cameras are better for slow motion than a 720p 60fps DSLR. There is so much data in the image, it doesn’t mind being slowed down and OpticallyFlowed/Twixtored to the same degree as there is so much data. And it doesn’t mind being pushed around in a grade. And it also handles noise reduction much much better. So BMPC4k ISO 400 with Nr will likely still be way better than 8bit DSLR. As will a BMCC image shot in the dark. I’ve pulled up much darker images. It’s astounding what’s down there. I’m a fan of the ProRes ;-)

This is a flawed still from my BMCC shoot in Zambia. A girl studying in a dark little room. I pushed the levels and noise reduced - which works amazingly better than 8bit H.264 - but was still left with stray RGB pixels. I couldn’t figure out how to fix them, so I finally accepted them. But it shows the BMCC is not flawless in the dark either. This is a particularly bad example.

From personal correspondence with Olan Collardy

Posted 2 weeks ago

[Oh Tumblr. You shrunk the images and removed all traces of what I’m posting about. May I scream for a moment before I set to work recreating everything at a slightly smaller size? It can’t be bigger than 1280 pixels. Sigh. Google+YouTube is also doing my head in today. I may quit using all these services and stick solely with Wordpress and Vimeo. Life is short.]

Posted 3 weeks ago
FCPX Tip - Controlling name of synced clips

To sync audio and video in Final Cut Pro X, you select the audio and video files you want to sync, and then right-click on one of them and select, “Synchronize Clips.” Simple. 

The NAME of the synchronised clip is determined by which file you right-click on. 

I wish I’d noticed this 2 years ago. I often manually changed the name of the synced clip after it was created, from the relatively meaningless name of the audio file to the much more sensible name of the video file. I feel like an idiot for not noticing earlier - which is why I mention it :-)

FCPX Tip - Controlling name of synced clips

To sync audio and video in Final Cut Pro X, you select the audio and video files you want to sync, and then right-click on one of them and select, “Synchronize Clips.” Simple.

The NAME of the synchronised clip is determined by which file you right-click on.

I wish I’d noticed this 2 years ago. I often manually changed the name of the synced clip after it was created, from the relatively meaningless name of the audio file to the much more sensible name of the video file. I feel like an idiot for not noticing earlier - which is why I mention it :-)

Posted 1 month ago

BMCC vs BMPC 4k | ISO Comparison

An ISO comparison of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and 4k Production Camera. Is 400ASA and 800 ASA the same on both cameras? (If industrial standards mean anything - yes.) The results are surprising. The cameras are simultaneously exactly the same and completely different. Everything is shot ProRes, Film, 25fps.

In general, with the Cinema Camera, I can work to avoid clipped highlights entirely. With the Production Camera, I am learning I need to embrace clipped highlights, and create the best damned clipped highlights I am capable of creating. I expect to sell the BMCC and keep the BMPC (which looks fantastic in motion). But I’m going to have to learn to love it.

PS. I am being purposely hard on the BMPC as I’ve bought it to replace the BMCC EF. I want Super35 and global shutter. I’m not keen on MFT sensor size. My standard of reference is years of using a Canon 550D+ML+Technicolor, under-exposed a stop, with a death penalty for clipping. The BMCC+ProRes is utterly amazing after the HDSLR, but the smaller sensor messes with my sense of lenses and field of view — See blog post here: bradbell.tv/?p=3109 — and it necessarily results in increased shakiness (smaller sensor) and jello effects (rolling shutter).

From the footage released by Blackmagic Design, I know the BMPC is capable of astonishing, crisp, detailed, gorgeous images. What I’m doing now is thrashing around in the mud of worst case scenarios to see how good it is when everything else is bad. It’s the opposite of finding a gorgeous, bright (but not too bright) scene that shows how great both cameras can be at their best.

Layering the Cinema image over the Production image is a way of comparing field of view at the same time as ISO. The BMPC image is actually shrunk from 4k to 1080p. The BMCC image is the full image, shrunk by 74% to match perspective. It is worth noting that this is the real trade-off I would be forced to make in field of view. (I was already shooting from inside a closet :-) The BMCC would look great, but I’d only get an apparently cropped image.

Posted 1 month ago

4k Crop Picnic | A family drama revealed in a single 4k shot

I took a single 4k shot with the Blackmagic Production Camera: a couple minutes over a picnic lunch. Then, editing in 1080p, I panned and scanned shots from the image to direct attention to characters as it seemed most relevant. It seems to work well enough that I forget I’m looking at a single shot. Peculiar.

The story:
The kids are having a picnic lunch. Smudgy mouse-face Audrey seems to have had some kind of disagreement with both her mother and her brother. She is saying, “I only like Dad now.” To prove it, she brings me a piece of her toasted cheese sandwich. Having already given it to me, she then decides it’s too painful to part with and takes the cheese back, leaving me with a couple soggy squares of bread. Anna laughs. The rocket incident is self explanatory. A snapshot of my life.

Shot on Blackmagic Production Camera at 4k with a Tokina 11-16 f2.8 lens. Graded with a 3 Strip LUT from Osiris.

The image is only ever shown at 100%, with the exception of the title shot which is 400%. No sound was recorded.

This was a very fun and strange experience. It’s like editing a multi-angle shoot - only from a single angle. It’s completely unnatural. It would never normally happen. But it’s a different kind of fun - a new challenge. And it feels like it could be refined to work better. The spacing of people and the ratio of shots could be calculated better. It would be great if you could get a single character, a two shot, and a wide.

Posted 1 month ago

BMCC vs BMPC4k | In the Gloom

The only concern I have about replacing a Blackmagic Cinema Camera (BMCC) with the 4k Production Camera (BMPC) is low light. I need to work fast in available light. I often shoot on a monopod because a tripod is too slow. I need to shoot low light, using whatever is available. However, I also want a super 35 sensor, which means more stable images; and global shutter, as it means what movement there is gains some elegance - and it also means stabilising without jello. And 4k. But can the Production Camera handle the exquisitely subtle and deathly goth pallor of British light? Or will the S35 global shutter 28mm IS dream die in the dimness?

(There is a reason lens whacking is a particularly British pass time. There is so little sun we have to invent it.)

Posted 1 month ago

A moving portrait of life, here, now. The Sea Also Rises by FKY. France.

(The French and English versions of reality are the same.)

Posted 1 month ago
Posted 1 month ago

Godfrey Reggio is a cool dude.

"Director Godfrey Reggio offers a hypnotic cinematic experience with his latest non-narrative piece, Visitors. The film is comprised of only 74 black-and-white "moving stills" that stare back at you with vivid detail via cutting-edge 4k projection. Sit down with Reggio and co-producer Jon Kane, as they discuss the technology and philosophy behind the making of the film."