View Full Version : The Art of Independence - a new digital filmmaking blog

Brad Ferrell
05-22-2012, 08:40 AM
Hi. My name is Brad Ferrell. I'm an independent filmmaker.

Before the internet, I studied film, art, and animation at the California Institute of the Arts in Valenica, California. This is a school that Disney created in the 70's that promotes interdisciplinary study and has a #1 ranking nationally as the top school for Art. I was lucky. They allowed me to study film and animation without either a reel, a film, or any experience.

I got sick really bad the year of my graduation. Although I graduated, I was forced to leave California and move back to Texas to find out what was wrong with me and what me and my family could do about it. The diagnosis was bi-polar and they started medicating me immediately. This began 10-12 years of me on and off my meds, in and out of the hospital, and in and out of trouble. FINALLY, I got proper care and medication I could live with and it's going on five years now that I have been well and without a trip to the hospital.

During my illness, I kept up with the changes to the software (I use the Adobe Creative Suite) and cameras and workflows as best as I could even working on a few projects, editing and helping out where I could. I learned to build computers because I had no money. Now that I'm working consistently, I'm gaining more experience but those years of research are really paying off now as I've got a strong foundation in digital video to rely on.

Nowadays, I'm running on the strength of 14 short films as a DP and Editor. I'm finding feature film work and I've had to step it up as a Producer just to get anything done. The work is rewarding, remember this is my dream I'm working on, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I've used Adobe products since 1992. The integration of the suite was an important step, allowing me to online a finished product in AE from a PP timeline. I anticipate full support for the BMCC from Adobe in the coming months as the camera is released and people start making images with it. I'm interested in Resolve for it's real-time color correction capabilities and I'm glad it's platform independant, (the old Mac vs. PC debate is BORING).

Well, that's a decent introduction. Let me expand on the title of this blog for a second and I'll let ya'll get back to what you were doing.

The Art of Independence is about empowering yourself as an artist and as a filmmaker through education, trial, and error. I'm going to share what I know with you and it's up to you to take it or leave it. I'm going to share my experience with you so that you may benefit and grow as an artist and as a filmmaker.

Why say that I'm an artist and a filmmaker? Why the distinction? Moviemaking is a business and an art. It's going to take an understanding of both for you to move forward and reach your potential. That is all for now. I'm going to post my digital filmmaking basics white paper once it's been updated and edited. Stay tuned for it but remember it's only the basics.


Brad Ferrell
05-22-2012, 02:04 PM
DISCLAIMER: The facts presented below are to my knowledge correct and current. Feel free to ask questions and please help correct me if I am wrong.

Digital Filmmaking Basics - A Primer

Hollywood has had a huge impact on all of us. Sometimes, there is a voice inside of us that says, “That’s what I want to do.” We’re lucky. Technology is making it easier for anyone to become a film-maker today, the entry threshold, the barrier holding us back from making and telling great stories, is dissolving. The tools of the trade are plentiful, easy to operate and use, and the quality to cost ratio is getting lower.

This article is oriented toward the beginner, the amateur film-maker. There are a lot of books and websites which discuss and cover similar and supplementary subjects. What I’d like to offer you here is the basics, what I think you ought to know in order to get started making moving pictures and living the dream you had that day when someone else’s story had that impact on you..

What happens a lot is that you become the crew at this stage in the game. There is a lot to learn, but I’ve found I have the best control on a set, when I am involved heavily into the technical aspects of production. Control is this scenario is a great asset, and frees you to become the artist you’ve envisioned. Once you understand the limitations of the tools you will be working with, you are free to explore the domain that has been created for you.

Let’s get started.


Bandwidth is an expression used to describe a pipeline. Imagine you have a 1 inch diameter pipe three inches long. You find that your three inch 1” diameter pipe can fill a one gallon bucket with water in 60 seconds at maximum pressure. The bandwidth of this pipe could be described as being 1/60 of a gallon per second. This is a finite expression.

You find that a 3 inch long, 3 inch diameter pipe carries as much water at the same pressure in 20 seconds. It has an inherent higher bandwidth than the 1” pipe and you would want to upgrade your pipe if your demand for water increased and there was not enough time in the day for the 1” diameter pipe to provide for you.

Your internet connection is the same. You found that a 56k modem was fine at first until larger and more abundant images, and video and sound began to take longer to download due to their increased size and number. So what did you do? You increased the bandwidth of your internet connection. Compression was used to reduce the file sizes of the music, images, and video that you were downloading and this assists by making files smaller and less of a burden on your bandwidth.

Your computer processor’s speed can be described as having throughput or bandwidth limitations. The higher frequency of the processor means that more information can be processed in a given time. We are constantly upgrading processors in response to the greater demands we have on our computers. The PCI bus has bandwidth limitations, as do your peripherals on other busses. All of these are important factors to consider when deciding on a workflow with digital video. Throughput and Quality are determined by compression, resolution, and frame rate as compounded they make up data rate. Let’s take a look at data rates and how they are expressed.

Data Rates

Data Rates are measured by the second. Kb/sec or Kilobits per second. You may notice this is bits per second. I’m sure you heard the term bytes per second as well, and yes, there is a difference. For the record, there are 8 bits in a byte and bits are represented in data rates with a lowercase ‘b’ and bytes with an uppercase ‘B’. Data rates are expressed in levels, multiplied by 1000. There are ‘roughly’ 1000 Kilobytes in one Megabyte, again using the correct notation, 1000 KB is equal to ‘roughly’ 1 MB.

Here is a conversion chart and I know this can be confusing at first because due to marketing practices, bytes can be confused with bits. You buy an 11 Megabit wireless system and you think “Wow 11 MegaBytes, that’s fast!”, because your hard drives are marketing using that scale. Mb or MB? megabit or megabyte? There is almost a factor of 10 dividing them.

Byte B 1 byte 1 byte
Kilobyte KB 1,000 bytes 1,024 bytes
Megabyte MB 1,000,000 bytes 1,048,576 bytes
Gigabyte GB 1,000,000,000 bytes1,073,741,824 bytes

Bit b 1 bit 1 bit
Byte B 1 Byte 1 byte or 8 bits
Kilobits Kb 1,000 bits 1024 bits
Kilobytes KB 1,000 bytes 1024 bytes or 8000 bits

Lastly, one bit is expressed as either a ‘0’ or a ‘1.’ Everything is the digital world is expressed using these two digits. A byte of information would look like ‘01001001.’ I don’t know what that string represents, and that’s as far as I’ll go into this.

The reason I go this deep into the basics of digital expression is that digital video, and audio, both have a data rate, and it’s important for you to understand this very basic concept clearly, because it is part of the formula that determines image quality. When it comes to distribution, data rate is very important, as it determines a lot of things including the size of your finished product.

A 20 minute Short Film or Documentary with a file size of 20 Gigabytes (20GB) would be very hard to distribute on the internet. That’s roughly a 1GB per minute of information, or a 17.9 MB/sec data rate and with most broadband connections delivering data rates in the hundreds of Kb/sec range, that’s a lot of data to transmit and it would take an extremely long time to download a 20GB video file.

What can you do in this case? You want to be able to share your film on the internet. There are a few factors which determine data rate, and subsequently file size. Let’s take a look at those now.

Aspect Ratio

This is another source of confusion. What we are living with is the legacy of the difference between two competing and now symbiotic industries, cinema and television.

Cinema came first. Television adopted a couple of things from the cinema, one being the aspect ratio of the image being projected in theatres. In an effort to bring it’s audience back into the theatre and away from their television sets, cinema introduced wide-screen films with a variety of aspect ratios and mechanics/optics to draw these crowds. The introduction of the home video market created a synergy between the two businesses and films were presented on the fairly square television screens in a variety of ways. Let’s look at the basic shapes and solutions for a second.

I’ve made all four examples in this example 150 pixels high for comparison. These are the four most common aspect ratios used.

Classic 4:3


Wide-Screen 16:9, 1.85:1, 2.35:1




Now, I am going to show you these four different ratios with the same width.





4 to 3 is used by both early American Cinema and also by Standard Definition Television. This is also the aspect ratio of the 35mm negative.

16 by 9 is the aspect ratio adopted by the High-Definition Television technology we have here in the United States at the present.

1.85 to 1 was established by anamorphic Panavision lenses, widely used in American Cinema. This aspect ratio was also used in the theatre by projecting a chopped or ‘matted’ cutting off the top and bottom of the film image and later would be shown on television in ‘full frame.’

2.35 to 1 was established by an anamorphic system called CinemaScope. Anamorphics are ways of optically ‘squeezing’ one shaped image onto another, a process later reversed during projection.

So What!!?!? Yeah, so what? How do you show a 1.85 to 1 image on a 4:3 television? You’ve got a couple of paths to choose from.

First, you do what is called a ‘letterbox.’ We’ve all seen this, black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. The advantage of a letterbox is that the composition and width of the original image is preserved.


There is also what is called a ‘pan and scan’ method, which fills the full screen of the television, but which changes the composition and sometimes creates confusion when the full frame is used to show or create distance between two subjects or characters.


The pan and scan is achieved by moving the 4:3 target area around the 2.35:1 image to reveal what the editor feels is most important in the frame. This widescreen format was never used without intention and the aspect ratio is an integral part of the art of the image. In film’s like Laurence of Arabia, the emptiness and isolation of the vast wasteland of the desert is enhanced and felt when the image of Laurence is juxtaposed and contrasted against it. Some of this impression is lost when almost half of the image is removed in transfer to video and Laurence is shown with a much smaller desert as the backdrop. My point is aspect ratio is an artistic decision and this is also something you will have to decide on as well.

There is another method people are using to fill the screen now that the shape of our televisions has changed. It is the stretch. Our airwaves are being shared right now with both High-Definition, HD, and Standard Definition, SD programming. The HD shows are natively in a 16:9 aspect ratio, and the SD programming is broadcast in the 4:3 aspect ratio. What happens when people are watching SD programming on a HD capable monitor or television is that the original 4:3 image does not fill the screen and there are grey or black bars on the screen, similar to the pan and scan illustration above. These TV’s are capable of filling the entire screen utilizing a couple of different methods; full, which stretches the 4:3 image across the 16:9 plane, distorting it to a certain degree, and zooming in on the image, filling the 16:9 plane both vertically and horizontally, cutting off the top and bottom of the 4:3 image. This method is rarely used but is one solution for showing letterboxed 4:3 programming without distorting the image.

I am presenting this information now so that you will remain end focused. We’d all like our movies to be distributed on DVD’s and shown in our audience’s homes. There are a variety of screen sizes, shapes, and resolutions to consider when distributing our films nowadays, and I’d like you to know what you’re options are, as well as what you can do to retain as much control over the final image, so as to preserve your artistic intentions. Sadly, a great part of the population is uninformed about these differences and are turned off at the lack of simplicity when viewing, resulting in distortions like using the stretch feature when viewing a letterboxed 4:3 image on a 16:9 screen.


In print, resolution is described as DPI, or dots per inch. You’ve probably had to use a scanner and when you were scanning your picture or document, you had to choose a resolution to scan with. Common resolutions are 150, 300, or 1200 dpi. You probably noticed that by changing raising the dpi you scanned at, that this would also affected your file size.

A 5” by 7” picture scanned at 150 dpi would contain 787500 pixels, (0.787 Megapixels.)

Here is the math behind that:

5 inches at 150 dots per inch is 750 dots or pixels horizontally.

7 inches at 150 dots or pixels per inch is 1050 total pixels vertically.

The image, at this size and at this resolution, would measure 750 pixels by 1050 pixels, or 750x1050, a total of 787,500.

The same image scanned at 1200 dpi would have 50,400,000 pixels, (50.40 Megapixels,) over 60 times as many pixels, and would result in a raw file size that many times greater.

Film has been measured to have a resolution of between 4000 to 6000 dpi or pixels per inch. It’s an organic medium, and unlike digital files, the size of the grain, or pixel used to capture the subject is neither uniform or consistent.

The file of a 35mm negative scanned at 4000 dpi would contain approx. 24,000,000 pixels. Uncompressed, it would result in a rather large file and the dimensions of the image expressed in pixels would be 6000x4000.

High-Definition Video has two standard resolutions: 1920x1080 and 1280x720. They both have an aspect ratio of 16:9.

Standard Definition Video has many standards. There are approximately 525 lines of resolution. DV, a popular format uses a resolution of 480 lines and produces sharp and vivid images. It is a format with a lot of advantages and is easy to use for beginners and is what I would recommend working with when you start.

The following illustrations do not represent true resolution or size. Computer screens are designed to display graphics at 72 dpi and the largest of these images would be far too big to display on your monitor, So To first make my point I have chosen to reduce them to 25% of their native resolution for comparison.


HDTV 1080


HDTV 720


Standard Definition - NTSC





Actual Size : DV NTSC


Actual Size : HD 1280 x 720


In this world, resolution and display size are relative. 720x480 is exactly that big on your computer monitor at that size at that resolution. The same frame at that resolution displayed on a 13” television would be a different size and so on. Another standard for theatrical presentation is being developed as well. Images with 2000 lines of horizontal resolution are being projected on 50 foot screens.

Brad Ferrell
05-22-2012, 02:16 PM
Frame Rate

Frame rate is the frequency at which images are shown, expressed by the second. There are three major frame rate/formats in use in the US today, 60i, 30p, and 24p. The small ‘i’ stands for interlaced and the small ‘p’ stands in for progressive. In Europe, they use the different standards of 50i and 25p. Allow me to explain the reason for the difference.

The electrical grid here in the US has a voltage of 110v and a cycling frequency of 60 Hz. When television was standardized in the US post WWII, it had been researched to show that higher resolution image could be produced using signifigantly lower bandwidth by interlacing 525 lines at 60Hz, or 60 times a sec. The European PAL system operates at 50i or 50 Hz, due to the 50 cycle electrical grid they use.

Interlaced images are created by first scanning the odd lines and then the even lines. The scan of the image starts at the top left of the frame and repeats. American NTSC interlaced video begins with the lower field first and then alternates between upper and lower.

Progressive images are created by scanning the complete frame, line by line, and then repeated.

They both have visual language attached to them through history. Interlaced video images lend themselves to sports coverage, reality television, and pornography.

One of my first long-form video projects was shot using 60i. No matter what I did, when viewed, my cameraman kept saying it looked like a porno. There were several things I had to do to the video, including de-interlacing, to take the visual language away from the familiarity of video production and make it view more like a film.

Film is a progressive medium. Full frames are created and are played one after the other. Another difference is the rate. Film is shot and shown at 24 frames per second, or 24fps. Recent technology created a video medium at this frame rate called 24p, created to emulate the progressive nature and speed of film.

Motion depiction is on of the differences between video and film. Scanning 60 ‘half frames’ per second and 24 progressive frames per second makes a difference at how the motion is captured and reproduced when viewed. If you created a flip-book cartoon with 60 frames, the motion would appear smoother, than a flip-book showing the same animation with only 24 frames.

24fps was actually decided on and adopted by the studios due to economics and the introduction of sync sound. It was shown that 18fps was the minimum frame rate that could be used to show smooth motion, but the introduction of sound required the extra frames and 24fps was decided on. Why shoot at a higher rate and use more film that you had to? More frames per second meant more film per second, which meant more money per second.

30p is a progressive frame rate popularized by music video and is an alternate frame rate you can use, simulating the look of film.

60i is an interlaced format creating 60 fields per second video and is most common in television reality show production and sports due to its cost and excellent display of motion.

24p has been developed for video producers to emulate the progressive look and frame rate of film camera production. It is a format, as well as being a frame rate. This is the arena is where less is really more, and there are 4 major 24fps video formats to choose from; 24p, Panasonic’s 24pA, Canon’s 24F, and Sony’s Cineframe24 technology. Words of warning; when choosing a format to shoot with, research the production workflow online. Some of the newer formats are unsupported and require expensive workarounds. More on the different digital video formats later.

50i and 25p are video formats used in Europe. 25p production is sometimes substituted for 24p production, where the 25p footage is slowed down to match 24p’s frame rate. It is a workaround for US 24p producers.

12fps or 15fps are used by animators depending on whether they are shooting film or video. It allows them to work twice as fast drawing half of the frames ‘live action’ production would use. You can use these frame rates to work in the visual language of animation as well as the language of antique motion pictures made before 24fps was standardized. It makes things choppy, like a Harold Lloyd film.

Some cameras will allow you to shoot 12fps progressive. This is called under-cranking and it’s best use would be to create fast motion. 12fps shown as 24fps would double the speed of the original shot and show the motion more quickly.

Similarly, over-cranking, or shooting at higher frame rates than that of your project, 30p and 60p, and then showing them at the slower rate of the project, 24p, would create slow-motion effects. 30p shown at 24p is a nice slo-mo, similar to the scene in Dazed and Confused when Wooderson is walking through the pool hall saying ‘hi!’ to everyone. 60p shown at 24p would be great for a punch to the face when the spit flies out and the face jiggles, like in ‘Rocky’ or any action film. Don’t get too excited, there are few cameras out there available to the ‘no-money’ indie producer that shoot variable frame rates. A lot of these effects can be created on the cheap in post-production, although the motion is not as smooth for the slo-mo effects. They pass for the real thing and you see them all of the time on TV. They’re easy to spot. The post-effects have a juddering quality, while the camera effects are fluid.

There is one more use for frame rate manipulation, file size. Although there are many codecs, or compression schemes available to you for internet distribution, one quick way to make your internet distributed film smaller is by changing the frame rate. Some codecs won’t allow you to, and depending on your project’s motion translation needs, you can distribute a 60i or 30p file at 15fps and a 24fps file at 12. Experiment and see what you can get away with, you’ll be surprised and a 512K file downloads in half of the time of a 1MB file.


The best analogy for understanding timecode is the leap year. Due to the difference between the orbit of the planet and the calendar we use, we have to throw an extra day in the calendar every four years in order to have union between the two.

Timecode is the same type of compromise and was a product of the offline video editing days. An ‘hour’ of timecode at 30fps and an hour of clock time differs by 3.59 seconds, almost a minute and a half over the course of a day. Drop frame timecode is used to compensate for the difference and allow for frame and time accurate editing of video over time. On average once every 1000 frames, a frame number is ommited, not a frame. This compensates for the difference.

There are plenty of in-depth technical article on the web describing the how and why of timecode. In the non-linear editor, or NLE, drop frame timecode use is transparent as the timecode is embedded in the original video file at the time of shooting. DV NTSC uses 29.97 drop frame timecode and DV 24p uses 23.97.

Color – RGB & bit depth

The color space, or mode your television and monitor uses is called RGB. It is an additive color process. Red, Blue, and Green are mixed with different values of white to make up the colors of the spectrum.


In 8-bit per channel RGB, the most common, each color shade is made by mixing three values in each color channel. There are 256 shades of each color represented by an integer of 0 to 255. 24 bit RGB is also known as True Color and when all of the color combinations are added together there are a total approximately of 16.7 million colors. Red is listed first, followed by Blue, and then by Green in the color shade notation. The RGB notations for the six colors in the picture above are given below.

(0,0,0) is black – zero white added to each color

(255,255,255) is white – 100% white (255) is added to each channel

(255,0,0) is red – 100% white added to red with no other value added

(0,255,0) is green – 100% white added to green with no other value added

(0,0,255) is blue – 100% white added to blue with no other value added.

(255,255,0) is yellow – 100% white added to both red and green

(0,255,255) is cyan – 100% white added to both green and blue

(255,0,255) is magenta – 100% white added to both red and blue.

If you are confused, look at where the color circles overlap and make note of the values in the table. The primary colors we were taught to paint with are red, yellow, and blue. It too is an additive process, adding blue to red and to get purple, yellow to red to make orange. It’s the same concept here, only we’re mixing light rather than tints.

The way that the television works is that each pixel has three elements, a red, a blue, and you guessed it, a green. By varying the brightness of each color element in proximity to each other, the combination process produces these colors.

Bit-depth per channel is a factor in image quality. You will find later on in production that some cameras capture and/or process color information in 8,10, or 12 bits per channel. By increasing the bit depth per pixel, it does increase the size of the file. Let’s look at a couple of examples to gain some clarity, remembering that bandwidth is finite and that by increasing one value we may have to employ another method to ensure smooth and consistent data throughput.

An SD, 24bit True Color 720x480 frame would have 8 bits per pixel and 345,600 pixels. With 8 bits per byte and three channels of color information, the raw image would be 1,036,800 bytes in size or 1.0368 Megabytes.

Let’s look at the same uncompressed frame at 10 bits per pixel. 10 bits per channel with three channels of color information at 345,600 pixels big is 1.296 Megabytes, a 30% increase in information.

Now, let’s take a look at http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/review_color_finesse.html in another window please. This is review for another product which allows you to work with the colors in your video image in 16 or 32 bits per channel, even if they originated as 8 bit per channel files.

I think the ”Color Finesse HSL Saturation at 1000 at 16-bit” image when compared to the “Adobe After Effects Saturation at 100% at 8-bit” image tell the story here and show the advantages to increasing the bit depth per pixel when making changes to an image.

These tools that we use to manipulate our work have characteristics built in as well. Comparing the “Adobe After Effects "Brightness & Contrast" plugin at 100% at 16-bit” image to the one below it, the “Color Finesse HSL Brightness at 100% at 8-bit or 16-bit” image, the standard AfterEffects tool shows uneven processing across the color spectrum, blooming white into blues more than any other color and destroying the gradual shift from white to color at the top of the gradient.

Tools we take for granted to be uniform are not, and that effect of each action will differ from platform to platform and from application to application. I would recommend auditioning tools in side-by-side comparisons of images processed by different actions in each program. On the Macintosh you are limited in the applications you can work with, but most Window’s editing and image processing applications and plug-ins have watermarked demo versions or limited duration tryout periods that you can download, install and tryout. This may sound like a pain in the ass, but believe me, as you continue to work with this medium you will reach some of it’s limitations.

Most professional non-linear editing programs are in the $500 plus price range. You may also want to invest in both a professional still and a moving image manipulation application. Many software developers are packaging multiple applications together with considerable savings. To start off with, use I-Movie or Windows Movie Maker. Both apps are great for getting your legs in Digital Video and by the time you would be ready to use all of the features you purchased with your package, there’s an update ready and another couple of hundred dollars to shell out. Remember, baby-steps…

I hope I’ve been able to show you the benefits of working with higher bit depths with higher color resolutions.


Still on color, let’s look into the HSV color space next. It is another way of defining colors and the letters in the name stand for Hue, Saturation, and Value. It is also known as HSB (Hue, Saturation, Brightness.)

I’m going to link you to another page with some excellent visualizations and illustrations. Again, please open this up in another window or tab.


The triangle in the middle of the wheel expresses the Saturation and Value of the color on a two point plane. As the triangle it turns, it points to a specific value for a Hue or color. Any color then can be created by combining the value of the Hue that the triangle points to, the Saturation Level of that Hue on a scale of 1-100, and a Brightness Value again on a scale of 1 – 100. The value for the hue can be described on either a normalized scale of 1 to 100 or by a degree in the range of 0 – 360.

Converting from RGB to HSV is easy. The computer has all of the information that it need to make the conversion for you.


There is another color space, HSL, (Hue, Saturation, Luminosity) and it is not to be confused with HSV or HSB. It is widely used and can be found in the Microsoft Windows System Color Picker and also in Microsoft Paint.


As you can see in this example, the Hue is determined on the Horizontal axis and Saturation on the Vertical. The separate slider on the right, in grayscale in this image, determines the Luminosity or Luma value. In the color picker example shown, a screen shot from Microsoft Paint, the Hue, Sat, and Lum values all scale from 0 – 239.

Provided is a RGB conversion for translating values from that color space while in this one. Showing is (0,0,0) or black. In the HSL color space there are almost 60,000 ways to express black as it will always be black as long as the Luminosity value is 0.

There are some excellent illustrations and explanations at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HSL_color_space.

Brad Ferrell
05-22-2012, 02:20 PM

YUV is a color space defining itself in terms of luminance and two color or chrominance components. Analog YPbPr component and digital YCbCr are derivative of YUV and digital video uses the components of the YUV model to describe pixel color.

One of the advantages YUV presents is that some of the color information can be throw away, reducing the bandwidth necessary to transmit to signal. The human eye is more sensitive to green and with the Y being derived from the Green component of RGB, it carries the most information. With the eye being less sensitive to blue and red, NTSC takes advantage of this and discards the majority of the information in these channels to reduce the bandwidth of the signal.

Y is the sum of all three channels multiplied by different factors. It contains elements of both R and G, with B.
U is the product of Blue – Y.
V is the product of Red – Y.

Y carries the most information as everything else in the signal is referenced around it. As long as you have Y, and B, and R, you can extrapolate G, which contains the most color information.

Digital video takes the same approach and most formats use a color subsampling technique to reduce the bandwidth of the information at the expense of color resolution, but with the advantage of having higher pixel resolution at the same data rate. This sampling of the colors in the image is a form of compression. Compression is a way of taking notes about the image rather than having to describe each pixel individually.


Let’s start by converting an 8 bit per channel RBG image to YCrCb. Without any color processing, each pixel is still represented by 24 bits of color information. When there no compression used, as in this example, the sampling rate is noted as 4:4:4. The first 4 stands in to note that the standard frequency of 13.5MHz was used to digitize the analog video information. The next two numbers stand in for the rate at which Cb and Cr were sampled in relation to the luma. In this case also 100%, or 13.5Mhz, or 4. The resulting color space uses 3 bytes per pixel to store the information when 8 bits per channel are used, uncompressed. MPEG-2 supports 4:4:4 sampling.



In ITU-R BT.601 4:2:2 both the Cr and Cb are sampled at a horizontal resolution of half that of the Luma, every other pixel, with every second Y using the chroma info from the previous sample. The sampling looks like this: Y1, Cb1, Cr1, Y2, Y3, Cb3, Cr3, Y4, Y5, Cb5, Cr5, Y6 and the mapping for the six pixels would read [Y1, Cb1, Cr1] [Y2, Cb1, Cr1] [Y3, Cb2, Cr2] [Y4, Cb3, Cr3] [Y5, Cb5, Cr5] [Y6, Cb5, Cr5].


I’ve also seen online an unnamed 4:2:2 sampling scheme where the encoding bitstream looks like this; Y1, Cb1, Y2, Cr2, Y3, Cb3, Y4, Cr4, and so on. This differs from the example above as the chroma info alternates between Cr and Cb samples on alterating pixels. The mapping of this form of 4:2:2 encoding reads [Y1, Cb1, Cr2] [Y2, Cb1, Cr2] [Y3, Cb3, Cr4] [Y4, Cb3, Cr4].

A 4:2:2 color space stores all of the pixel color information using only 4 bytes between two pixels, a 33% decrease in bandwidth.

Digital Video formats using the 4:2:2 color space include Digital Betacam, and DVCPRO50.


The 0 in 4:2:0 means that the chroma subsampling takes place at half the vertical resolution as the luma, as well as half of the horizontal resolution of the luma as designated by the 2. Chroma subsampling takes place in a four pixel matrix instead of the two pixel sample, reducing the bandwidth requirements of 4:2:0 by 50% over using 4:4:4uncompressed; taking up 6 bytes of space per 2x2 megapixel for the color information.

There are differing chroma sampling techniques used in 4:2:0. MPEG II 4:2:0 Cr and Cb sampling for the pixel block takes place on the first two vertically adjacent pixels and the average of the two is used to calculate the values for all four pixels using the individual Y values that were sampled.




The conversion from RGB to YCrCb 4:4:4 is considered lossless and the math looks like this:


Y = 0.299R + 0.578G + 0.114B
U = 0.147R – 0.289G + 0.436B
V = 0.651R – 0.515G - 0.100B

It is when you change to the 4:2:0 color space that the actual color saved is different from the one sampled. The colors used in the MPEG II 4:2:0 pixel squares have been accurately converted from RGB to the MPEG II 4:2:0 color space. Note the slight difference to the shades when compared to the original colors, although the difference in luminance is virtually the same.

In the MPEG I, H.261 4:2:0 megapixel, Cr and Cb are calculated by averaging the chroma values of all four pixels and then using that average to calculate the pixel color using the four Y values in the sample.


In the PAL DV 4:2:0 example below, Cr, or U, is first determined by averaging the values of first two vertically adjacent pixels on the first horizontal axis. Cb is then determined by averaging the next two vertically adjacent pixels, adjacent to the right. Y values are taken from each of the four pixels and the Cr and Cb averages taken are used for all four pixels to determine their color in this space.


Digital video formats that use the 4:2:0 sampling routine are PAL DVCAM and DV, HDV, and all forms of MPEG encoding including DVD. Some instances of MPEG 4 allow the use of the higher quality sampling of 4:4:4 color space.


NTSC DV uses a 4:1:1 sampling routine where the four pixel megapixel is shaped differently than the 2x2 4:2:0 megapixel. In NTSC DV 4:1:1, a chroma sample is taken from the first of four horizontally adjacent pixels, a 4x1 pixel matrix, and those values are then used for the remaining three.

DVCPRO, NTSC DVCAM, and NTSC DV use the 4:1:1 color sampling routine for encoding and decoding digital video.

The reason you need to understand and know this is that some schemes are more difficult to work with than others in certain situations. For example, color keying a sharp mask from DV footage is more difficult than one using lower sampling like 4:2:2 or 4:4:4. This is due to the high sampling rate and the resulting recorded image. A four pixel sample across an edge would average the differences and make the edge soft in the recorded image.

It helps bring cost down while maintaining resolution, but color-subsampling is re-interpretation and can be problematic at times. 4:1:1 also is characteristically noisy in underexposed areas and is difficult to resample and work with. Research and Trial and Error are the best ways to understand these tools.


By now, we’re all accustomed to CD quality audio, and the good news, most cameras are capable of recording this quality. Starting out, most of your problem areas when you come to finishing your product will be in the arena of sound and audio if you do not focus as much effort into designing and making sure you have quality audio to work with.

Using the built-in microphone may be ok at first, while you are learning, but ASAP you want to invest in an outboard microphone and a camera capable of interfacing properly with it or an outboard mixer.

The reason you don’t want to use the built-in is noise. It’s a cheap mic, and it’s attached to the motor that runs your tape mechanism and it will pick it up.

The nice thing about digital video is sync sound. It makes it easy to edit and work with.

Compression schemes are sometimes applied to the audio you record. Be aware of your equipment and what it records and how that information is stored.

The audio is half of the image you’re planning on projecting. As a director, plan on spending some time doing sound design during pre-production. It is one area of the film where you can add production value by spending a little time considering the final experience of your audience and manipulating it to make the whole experience have more depth.

Video Compression

Compression is what makes affordable, desktop digital video possible. It’s the computer’s way of taking notes. Color Subsampling is one way of compressing the total amount of information needed create the image. Video also uses spatial and temporal compression to reduce overall data rates of video files.

Spatial compression works much like color subsampling in that it will subsample surrounding pixels in an effort to find similarities and take notes.

Temporal compression takes notes across differing frames, and the notes are taken and shared across time. No sense in saving all of the information for two different frames if they are 98% identical.

There are many different forms of compression and some are better than others for distributing digital video, and some are better for working with digital video. Some are better for internet distribution and some are better for archival. Like I said, there’s a lot to learn.

I’m not going to go into the different compression schemes, or codecs. I’ll save that for another article when I can take the time and show you the differences.

Video Formats

The formats you’re going to be using have various combinations of the things we have discussed in this article. NTSC DV has a resolution of 720x480, a color space subsampled at 4:1:1, either a 16x9 or 4x3 aspect ratio, uses a video compression scheme that is both temporal and spatial, records uncompressed 12 or 16 bit audio, and has a data rate of 25Mbps.

Some other digital video formats you may work with could be DVCAM, DVCPro, HDV, etc… They all have their up and downsides. We’ll go a bit more in depth with the various formats when we get into cameras.


I agree, this is all getting very technical, and you may be wondering what this has to do with you, but believe me, this is information you need to know now in order to make the informed decisions about production that you’re going to have to make later on.

Remember, we’re working for ourselves here, producing our own content, and planning on distribution, cutting out a lot of experts in the process. We have to be the expert and our quality goals should be oriented towards producing what is considered “broadcast quality,” if you want to make some money doing this.

Broadcast quality is a subjective term, but we all know what it is. I strongly believe any indie producer has got to be focused on quality and has to understand the factors that are going to determine the quality of what they are working on, and working towards. In order to explore the established markets we have now as well as to help determine the guidelines on the emerging markets we have such as the internet today, we need to understand the mechanics of the craft as well as the spirit of the art.

That said, production values are not an end in themselves. I’ve watched movies with terrible production values that moved me. In this business, content is king, and I’ve watched and walked out on movies with high-production values because the quality of the material was poor and no amount of money or lighting or special effects could have kept me in the theatre or on that channel. So what is quality if it’s not production values?

So, I’m contradicting myself here and not. Erring on the side of caution again, I personally make every effort to educate myself on production values/technical limitations as well as the methods employed to achieve the various levels of quality that I’ve seen and enjoyed. It’s refreshing to hear about a super-low budget movie hitting it big, it’s kind of punk, kinda rebellious. Sure, money helps when you want to add value to the work by using a higher resolution format and getting the most out of it. But, you can also add value by learning the photographic theories and history behind basic image composition. This isn’t going to cost you anything. You can also add value by adding depth and realism to the characters you employ by doing background research and learning the craft. There are so many elements making up this art form that these numbers and facts and concepts I’m presenting will only make up so much of the foundation you need in order to understand quality in digital video and for you to work with it and add value to your project. As Robert Plant claims in Kashmir, “all will be revealed.”

kevin baggott
05-22-2012, 10:44 PM
Thank you!

05-23-2012, 12:02 AM
A lot of very useful information, thanks Brad.

Paul Stephen Edwards
05-23-2012, 12:12 AM
I'm bookmarking this page. Thanks for the work and for your candor.

Brad Ferrell
05-24-2012, 10:46 AM
"Should I go to Film School? I want to be a ______ and make films."

Why would you go? To learn how to make films? You can do that on the internet nowadays, mostly for free.

The advantages of going to University and getting a degree have eroded. I went to a four-year and got a degree. When I moved away from that sphere of influence, it didn't come with me. That was one of the advantages of going, you meet a lot of people, make new friends in the industry and you move up together.

Honestly, all you need is the most basic equipment and a little encouragment. If you're reading this, you can read. I recommend using http://www.amazon.com as your school book store and start looking and ordering. Amazon will suggest other books based on your viewing habits and the habits of other customers. Follow your interests.

There are great blogs out there, http://www.prolost.com, http://www.videocopilot.net, http://nofilmschool.com and http://www.dvxuser.com are a few examples. Read everything you can get your hands on.

YouTube also has some great channels, Freddy W and Corridor Digital have great behind-the-scenes videos explaining special and visual effects if that's your interest.

I'd suggest getting a job so you've got an income. Anything. Doesn't matter if it's film-related, but try them first. If you're going to go it alone without a degree, you're going to make films instead. Understand? There's nothing stopping you from making films without a degree and if you change your mind and decide to go to school and get in debt, you'll be ready to make that film that will get you into real film school, USC, UCLA, AFI, and sometimes CalArts.

I've mentioned the networking opportunities of film school, let's talk about personal attention. That's the other thing you get at film school. Attention and Encouragement. For me, that was the best part. I was always at odds with my parents in my artistic pursuits. It was hard to find encouragement when I was getting started. I felt like a star at school and stayed on for four years. It helped my confidence and that helped my work.

All I'm saying is that every college and university has a film school or media department now. The quality of education is not worth the money or time spent, IMHO. If you're not moving to California, going to school there, and rising through the ranks, save your money, make films, and network on your own. Teach yourself what you can and save your superiors having to explain it to you. They'll appreciate your efforts and you'll find it's easier to ask more of yourself than asking anything of someone else anyway. If that's not true for you, you'll make a great producer :)

What do you guys think? Film School or FILM SCHOOL?

Brad Ferrell
05-25-2012, 08:02 AM
I tried to change all of the "independances" into "independences." Forgive me my spelling mistakes. Thanks.

05-25-2012, 09:58 PM
Great info my friend. Thanks Brad!

05-26-2012, 01:12 AM
2.35 to 1 was established by an anamorphic system called CinemaScope. Anamorphics are ways of optically ‘squeezing’ one shaped image onto another, a process later reversed during projection.

Anamorphic widescreen hasn't been 2.35:1 since the 1970s. Modern widescreen, whether anamorphic or 35mm 3-perf, is 2.39:1, sometimes called 2.40.

Anamorphic was invented to create a wide "spectacle" image using a single camera and projector, instead of the multiple cameras and projectors used by systems like Cinerama. The wide image was used to create a spectacle that would draw audiences away from their TVs and back into the cinemas. (Like IMAX and 3D today.)

Many modern digital films shoot Super35, and crop a 2.39:1 widescreen frame out of the middle, but use the full-frame for non-widescreen home video.

Brad Ferrell
05-26-2012, 09:08 AM
Awesome contribution. Thanks. Since most of us are not shooting anamorphic, do you crop to 2.35:1 or do you use 2.39:1? I like 16x9 alot, it's so close to 1.85:1.

05-28-2012, 02:30 AM
Awesome contribution. Thanks. Since most of us are not shooting anamorphic, do you crop to 2.35:1 or do you use 2.39:1? I like 16x9 alot, it's so close to 1.85:1.

Glad to help.

If you want your digital video to look like a widescreen movie, crop to 2.39:1. Even back in the day when they shot 2.35:1, the cinema would often matte the projection to 2.39. That's the size we're used to seeing.

On DVDs, they often crop to 2.39, 2.40 or 2.41 -- so you have some breathing room.

BTW, 16x9 = 1.78:1 which is sometimes called "European widescreen" because it was used for decades in Euopean cinemas for spherical (non-anamorphic) widescreen.

Brad Ferrell
05-30-2012, 10:30 PM
Why am I buying the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera? There are several reasons. Please, let me explain.

1. In-Camera RAW recording - this is important to me on many fronts. In-Camera to me means that I don't have to worry about the added expense of an outboard recorder, the bulk of the recorder, the operation of the recorder, the powering of the recorder, another cable sticking out to work around. In-camera means portability to me. I like to do hand-held work as much as I love the beauty of a nice pan on a tripod. RAW? I can't say enough about this opportunity. I got a taste of it shooting RAW stills with my Canon 7D. I worked with the raw images alongside the compressed JPEGs and mp4's it produced. What a difference in the changes to the image I was able to make. I talked to one Red owner and when the Scarlett came out close friends about their workflow for raw video. I clamoured for more than my 7D could produce, even with a flat picture style. Then came the announcement. RAW - $3000.00. I couldn't pass it up and pre-ordered. Another thing is that I'm expecting is a much better key from my footage. I'm a visual effects artist too and I'd like to work with what I consider top-quality elements. I believe RAW will allow me to do this. Sure ProRes or DNxHD are 4:2:2 and considered industry standards, but I want more. While the workflow may be more expensive, you need a powerful system to handle both the data rates of the CinemaDNG files but also to run Resolve to it's best. This is ok for me. I've been color correcting and on-lining in Adobe for years now and I'm looking for something that is realtime.

2. 2.5K resolution - 2K and 1080P have become industry delivery standards. 2.5K gives you cropping room for a 2K master. It also allows for a level of oversampling when reduced to 2K or 1080P. This makes for nice smooth edges and adds a level of detail to the image. While in visual effects and 3D CGI training, we were encouraged to render our effects at a higher resolution than delivery, to allow for this oversampling to take place. It took more time to render the files, but it works and helped me separate my work from others.

3. Resolve - Resolve has come a long way. When I was introduced to it, it was a tape-based 4:2:2 solution. Now it is a realtime 32bpc RGB solution with built-in noise reduction. Learning the workflow has been easy, there are plenty of basic tutorials on YouTube. I'm sure I'll have to pay for more advanced instruction in the future but I'm alright for now learning from the web.

4. $2995.00 - Twice the price of my Canon 7D but worth every penny to this starving artist. It's still less than a 5D MkIII and gets me out of 4:2:0 hell.

That's it. ;)

05-30-2012, 10:56 PM
1. In-Camera RAW recording - this is important to me on many fronts.
I love editing raw photos, and when I first heard about the RED One, I was amazed that raw video capture even existed. I'm going to shoot ProRes for the most part but pull out raw in demanding scenes (such as sunsets). Can't wait to give it a run for its money, at any rate :)

2. 2.5K resolution - 2K and 1080P have become industry delivery standards.
While I don't doubt you can get great results from a DSLR, the line-skipping, moiré-prone, 1080p and 720p limited images aren't quite what I'd like to be working with. Having at least some form of anti-aliasing, as well as no line-skipping (which drastically reduces chances of moiré) will be a great relief when grading and also generally in shooting as you know what you're getting. And 13 stops is awesome.

3. Resolve - Resolve has come a long way. When I was introduced to it, it was a tape-based 4:2:2 solution. Now it is a realtime 32bpc RGB solution with built-in noise reduction. Learning the workflow has been easy, there are plenty of basic tutorials on YouTube. I'm sure I'll have to pay for more advanced instruction in the future but I'm alright for now learning from the web.
I'm not expert in Resolve (Lite), but I love it! The tracking is amazing. Really looking forward to cutting in Final Cut Pro X and sending it to Resolve to grade.

4. $2995.00
Something I can actually afford! About $1.5K more and I've got a full shooting set up with a good tripod. Score!

05-30-2012, 11:04 PM
they often crop to 2.39, 2.40 or 2.41 -- so you have some breathing room.

If working in full HD I'll use a comp size of 1920x800. That's exactly 2.4:1. It's nice, even, and easy to remember.

05-30-2012, 11:17 PM
If working in full HD I'll use a comp size of 1920x800. That's exactly 2.4:1. It's nice, even, and easy to remember.

What's the word on 2:1? Is it used often?

05-31-2012, 01:37 AM
What's the word on 2:1? Is it used often?

I don't think so, but I'm sure someone with a better idea than me will let you know.

Brad Ferrell
05-31-2012, 10:25 AM
Nick, you reminded me about the 13 stops of dynamic range. That's the real deal.

I'm warming up to the idea of you guys shooting ProRes. I CAN see the benefits, but again, not a feature I'm looking very hard into. I will shoot ProRes and DNxHD to compare them to RAW and each other while I'm putting together the new computer system in August. Of course I'll share my research here online.

My optics will be limited to the Tokina 11-16 and the Tamron 17-50 (non VC) at first but will try to get some ZF.2s or even CP.2s in front of the camera for some real tests. I'm sure more people will be interested in the Tokina and Tamron results as they are more affordable, but I would like to show people the difference.

Oh, and thanks for reading the blog.

06-01-2012, 03:06 AM
What's the word on 2:1? Is it used often?

The most common aspect ratios (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspect_ratio_(image)) in cinema are 1.33:1, 1.78:1, 1.85:1 and 2.39:1

Apparently, the RED camera offers a 2:1 crop.

Brad Ferrell
06-01-2012, 08:28 AM
Anyone with experience prepping work for distribution in theaters? I'm interested in resolution sizes and aspect ratios being accepted today.

Brad Ferrell
06-22-2012, 12:21 PM
I was in Los Angeles on business this last week. We met with the Director and some of the cast of Sangre Y Familia this weekend. We, one of my business partners, our writer, and two producers. Sangre Y Familia? This is a feature film we're producing, actually I'm just consulting at this point, but look to have a position sometime soon.

We had a few hours and were lost near the airport. I lived in Santa Monica so I headed that way. We were headed to see Prometheus, (I know) but ended up watching Snow White. So there I was and all I could think about was grain. Several films I made on the 7D when projected looked like 16mm. This bothered me. I use grain in my post production pipeline but when compared to the grain on the screen during Snow White mine was more active, but I think, more importantly, was much smaller than what I was using at work. So now the experimentation shall commence when the new camera comes in. I'm sure resolution is a factor too as is oversampling. Either way, I liked what I saw in LA so I'm going to try and move in that direction.

Brad Ferrell
06-25-2012, 09:28 AM
When I first heard about the Blackmagic Design's Cinema Camera ALL I could think about was raw. Raw acquisition, raw workflow, raw green screen plates, Resolve... ALL anyone could sing praises for was the inclusion of 10bit 4:2:2 Prores online though, here, in this community. The other raw people seemed to want CineformRAW.

I've been onlining, a not real-time process. You use the original files in this process and it is slow. One of the attractive features of Resolve is that it is a realtime environment that works from the original files, in my case 12bit raw uncompressed cinemaDNG files. The downside is that I've got to build a new computer to really see the benefits here.

I've done the mental gymnastics around the raw workflow and the only bottlenecks are going to be around the data flow and storage. I'll need a large RAID 5 volume for feature work. I'm going to make a 2TB RAID 0 internally to test the camera and workflows. That should work.

With that, I'm going to shoot Prores, shoot DNxHD, (both with log and 709 settings) and shoot raw. I'll make Prores proxies and compare them against shooting Prores. I have a lot of tests planned because I'm curious now of what the best workflow for me is.

What prompted this was money. Why should I buy storage for a client I don't have yet? They'll need three times the amount I can afford to buy for myself, so the RAID 5 can wait but my latest feature can't.

It's about saving the lives of cats, dogs, and other domestic animals in kill shelters and putting them into rescues, fostering, and forever homes. Even though we're able to save about 1000 lives a month, there are still as many as 3 million cats and dogs destroyed in America every year.

I'd like to get some celebrities involved. I think those interviews should be shot in raw. Footage of the pups and their owners I'd like to see in Prores. I'd like more footage vs. higher IQ in this case. Everything else will be photos and graphics. I have a good scanner and motion graphics experience.

Now, of course I've got to run my tests. I may get away from the raw, I may decide to use it for everything. IDK.

So, the bottom line is this. I've got around 2TB to make this no-budget doc a reality. I think Prores will be more than good enough. The business plan for the film is to exploit VOD sites like Netflix, HULU, and youtube to raise awareness and money to help buy food and medicine. It's not going up on the big screen, only TV, computer, tablet and phone.

06-25-2012, 11:08 AM
You're doing good work over here, Brad. Keep it up.

06-25-2012, 12:05 PM
Thank's for the good read B.

Jason Ramsey
06-25-2012, 01:14 PM
Hey, Brad. Thanks for making this contribution to the community.

How do you feel about getting this some prominence in the form of articles for our "Information" tab?

Brad Ferrell
06-25-2012, 02:17 PM
That sounds cool. Let me know what you need me to do.

Brad Ferrell
07-02-2012, 08:30 AM
So here we are, a month out from delivery of the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera.

I've started talks with a local manufacturer of camera monitors, rigs, and battery systems to bring you BMCC tested rigs. I hope to have some early tests for you after delivery. Maybe some shots of my dog or cats around the neighborhood, you know the pixel peeper stuff...:cool: Actually, this is a pretty big deal. We find ourselves as a nation, and I'm guilty too, importing everything and sending our money overseas. I run a small business. When you do business with a small business, a local business, you're paying for someones mortgage, not some CEO's third vacation home. You're helping their kids get braces or helping someone find financial security and stability on their own. I believe in getting the best product, but I believe in keeping the money at home too. I saw a statistic that money spent in the Jewish community is spent 7 times again in that same community before it ever gets outside the circle. That's good business. I drive American thanks to my dad but I keep looking at Toyotas. It is a global market. I have to keep reminding myself of that as I build my business. What makes a good export comes to mind. Do what you're going to do, but think about what I said when you buy something. Think about where that money goes. Isn't Blackmagic Design from Australia? Anyway, these guys I'm talking to are local. Let's see what they've got.

I've got a bit of run and gun to do in February on a Hollywood set. I'll see what I can bring home to you guys as far as footage and pictures from BTS.

Before all that I've got the documentary on dogs and a youtube webseries in the works. I try to get all the "free stuff" done like planning and boarding and outlining. I don't even have a camera right now. What else have I got to do?

I'm taking time now to finish a project I've gotten the picture lock on three times. I redo all of the color each time so I don't end up with a huge Frankenstein master file. I'll explain that later as my workflow is changing right now and I don't know up from down. :mad:

I'm waiting until the last minute to build the new PC. I may not have enough to build a multi-TB RAID array and this is something I'll need from now on if I want to shoot uncompressed raw. Anyone looking for a DP for their next feature? http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4425766/. I edit and color too.

Brad Ferrell
07-04-2012, 08:27 AM
Making shorts for under $1000 can cause you to wear a lot of hats. I know this goes against convention where you take a specific job, and over the YEARS you move up through the ranks and one day command the camera or whatever it is you're "qualified" to do. This is easier in a movie-industry town like Vancouver or Los Angeles where there are a lot of productions.

I'm a bit more rebelious in nature and have a fiercly independent streak. I make a good director, but the synergy comes from being an editor and a shooter. One always informs the other in that relationship. I didn't set out to be an editor, make a living from it, settle down, and make some kids. I happened to have one of the first digital video solutions for the Mac, the Video Vision Studio from Radius. I set up Premiere to use the codec and installed the hardware and voila, instant NLE with tape in and out, plus monitoring. I set it up for myself, to learn and make films for school. I sat through an intro to video editing class and tried tape to tape editing but the NLE blew it away in ease of use and speed.

So what happened? Filmmakers started using me as an editor. Mostly documentaries at first, some adult. In fact if you find yourself at the forefront of a new technology, you can bet that the adult industry is right there with you looking for ways to exploit it and make some money.

We're off track though. My work as an editor informed my work as a director and a cameraman. Having been through an edit, I had a better idea of what I needed to shoot to get the coverage I was looking for. Difficulties in POST, always inform my work ON SET.

I stayed in POST most of my time since college. In fact, thats the healthiest part of my business right now and why it's easier for me to swallow the needs of a realtime 2.5K uncompressed raw workflow. In fact, I build a system around a camera system now. This system and this camera will be made for each other. I find the need to upgrade is less and less this way. I stick with what works. Also, building my own computer systems saves me money and keeps me independent. I priced a similar system to my BMCC system and it was $13,000 more than mine without harddrive arrays for the same performance. Also, Apple doesn't make anything this powerful either. I think only a custom Hackintosh would be able to close the gap and do the job as well but you'll be in driver hell.

So now, this healty POST business is informing and feeding my Production business which keeps me independent as well. It's only taken two and a half years, but it's all about working on the right projects (small businesses) and lining ducks up in a row. Before I started this business I was in sales and my post work was as a freelancer. I had no experiences building teams. Production is about having the right team to create the right environment and get the job done. It's about being a team player and a boss. It's about responsibility and freedom.

So, if you're a Producer/Writer/Director/Photographer/DP too, there will come a point where you can train or find an experienced partner to leave the reigns to in that area. If not, you know you've got it handled. right?

Brad Ferrell
07-18-2012, 06:21 PM
If you follow this blog or read any further, you're going to hear about gear from Ikan in use with the BMCC. I believe in full transparency, and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) requires that bloggers reveal their associations with companies they write about, so here's the deal between them and me.

In return for "weekly information posted about the rig and your testing of it and speculation" they let me run with their equipment on my jobs free of charge. They want to satisfy the market of BMCC users with the quality and operability as well as professionalism of their products and people. They'll work with me on creating custom rig configs for the BMCC. They also have some interesting products coming up over the horizon relevant to this community like color correction monitors and LANC control for the BMCC.

I'm not a salesman for them. I don't work for them. I'm an independent tester with a blog about filmmaking on BMCUser.com. This shouldn't cause any conflicts of interest between them and me and me and you. Let me know what you think about my work on this. I'd appreciate the feedback.

To move forward, I'm picking up the first test rig next week. I'll be using my business partner's 7D at first and I'll ask about availability of the rig before the BMCC comes out for those of you who want to hit the ground running on the shipping date.


Brad Ferrell
08-02-2012, 12:11 PM
Been busy with the new build. This machine rocks. That's all I can say. Follow the thread in workflow on the PC build if you're interested. There are things to consider when putting a system like this one.

Ted Hope's 15 Steps to the “Better” Way Vs. the “Easy” Way in Film Production


Great read for the independent filmmaker. Sometimes, it's the little things that count.


Brad Ferrell
08-05-2012, 06:16 PM
http://nofilmschool.com/2012/07/learn-build-audience-philip-bloom-nick-campbell/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nofilmschool+%28NoFilmSchool% 29

This thread would be for anyone interested in DIY distribution on the internet. Phillip Bloom is a great example on an online personality and he and Nick Campbell talk about how they built their audiences. The reason I posted this is that based on the success of Corridor Digital and FreddyW on YouTube. I've seen through them the possibility of having a large online audience interested in what I want to do for a living. Not sure if I'm ready for Hollywood, but I am ready for YouTube.

You're going to be seeing a lot more of me in videos and pictures. I'm very excited about the release of the camera and sharing with you my experiences with it. Ikan is going to be helping me out with some gear, so we're going to take a look at what they have and what that means to you.

Update on "Man's Best Friend" - tonight I'm going to try and write the script from the dog's perspective, an idea given to me by a colleague, Melissa Gard. Celtx rocks.

Brad Ferrell
08-06-2012, 08:40 AM
How many of you future BMCC owners are using the new Resolve 9.0 public BETA? I am, for sure.

It's a bit frustrating waiting for my full copy of Resolve that ships with the camera. The Lite version of Resolve does not include Noise Reduction or Sharpening, two steps in my post workflow which really help "make" that final shot. Also, it only addresses one GPU, not two.

Putting that aside, I find the interface friendly but you will learn more about its intended use by reading the DaVinci Resolve 9 manual, also free. I'm not able to create the "look" I was getting in After Effects with Colorista and NeatVideo, but I'll keep pushing on. I've seen what is possible with Resolve in others work and by using the Manual's suggested workflow I am getting something closer to a film look without the NR or Sharpening.

What can I say? The scopes are nice to work with. The real-time playback of color-corrected footage speeds up my workflow as I don't have to wait for the image to redraw anymore and I can check between clips by clicking on them in the timeline or using the scrub feature. All in realtime.

I can't wait to see the noise reduction. I'm hoping for more control over where to apply the NR and to what end. More later, once the product ships...

Brad Ferrell
08-09-2012, 05:56 PM
Ok. So you've never opened your mac or pc up but you're tired of what's available and you want to save some money. Let's go there.

Hackintoshes are the best bang for the buck if you want to drive a mac at work. There are plenty of blogs which tell you what you'll need to do to build and support this machine. I don't know a lot about building one but I have heard it's a balancing act but well worth it.

I build PCs. I use to drive a mac, several in fact. I switched when the student loans ran out and I had to pay cash for a new system. I've been on Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit for 3 years now. It's very stable and has never crashed. Pick your poison.

What's inside a computer? A motherboard, hard disks, RAM, graphics and display cards, a cooler, CPU, a power supply. Not much in fact. There are several great places to start your research, http://www.videoguys.com, look for their DIY 9 system.

http://nofilmschool.com has articles on building a hackintosh.

You need to be careful when you're messing around inside the machine. Make sure it's powered off and unplugged. You'll also need to ground yourself to the chasis to prevent static shock to the parts.

First you put the cpu into the socket on the motherboard. Make sure the pins line up and then clamp it down.

Second, you're going to put in the motherboard. I used an ASUS P9x79 Pro for my latest PC build. This build is specifically designed to work with DaVinci Resolve and Adobe CS6. The motherboard is recommended by videoguys and Blackmagic Design for HD systems. I'm hoping to push this to 2K widescreen, or 2048x858. We'll see.

I made the decision to use two GPUs when I found a great price on 2x EVGA GTX570 2.5GB RAM. For the cost of one GTX680 I couldn't turn it down. With this decision made, I was forced to upgrade my power supply to 1000W but it came with two power cords for the cards.

So, you put the GPU cards in. The power supply is held up by four screws. Next, you put the RAM in. Put your HD's in. Run all of your cabling next and plug everything in, power and SATA. Install your CPU cooler or fan.

Put your Windows installer disc in the tray and start the machine up.

Installation is easy. Once in Windows, install the drivers and apps included with your motherboard's disc, then update. I say this because your LAN connection might have it's drivers on the disc too and you won't have network access.

I stick to a recipe and use only recommended parts. This helps me keep down the maintainance costs of which there are none.

Ask some questions if you're confused.

Brad Ferrell
08-19-2012, 07:33 PM
I got some new gear in over the weekend, a shoulder rig, follow focus, and monitor from ikan. I forgot to order a quick-release plate, so I'll have to go get one tomorrow. The follow focus is the...



The "action" on the FF is smooth. There is quite a bit of resistance to the knob. The gears are easy to fit to your lenses.



Since I don't have a quick-release, I can't test it further until tomorrow, but one unique thing I like is the way that the unit clamps to the rods. It has a quick-release of sorts and I can see this being a real asset on set to an AC or a DP working alone. Anything that cuts down setup time is an asset.

This is the shoulder rig I'm working with.



ikan is producing a LANC controller for the BMCC. It will replace the right handle on the rig and will control focus, iris, and record. More on that when it comes in. Set-up was a breeze and took about 5 minutes. I like how light this unit is. There is flex in the shoulder pad and you can squeeze in on the unit to stabilize the camera further and really dig in. I'll let you know soon how this one is in the field with the BMCC, but I'm setting this one up for a DLSR I borrowed from my business partner Sam Rivas of Savir Productions. I've still got to shoot while I wait. :)

More on all this later. I took these pictures today and I wanted to share. I'll follow up when I've got the camera on the rig.

Tim Hole
08-19-2012, 10:33 PM
What's the word on 2:1? Is it used often?

2.00:1 (Univisium) is a gateway format. It is a way for the audience to get the closest to what the director/cinematographer envisaged in the framing and mise en scène on both distribution format: Theatrical and home release. Vittorio Storaro (one of the, if not the, greatest living cinematographers) proposed the idea after getting fed up with having to massacre his films for home release. This is less of a problem now that the norm is 16:9 rather than 4:3, but it is still a problem.

Digital IMAX screens are all 2.00:1 and as we know from Dark Knight and Mission Impossible when they shoot both 35mm and IMAX they jump between the two, but its not a massive amount of windowing. Even if you aren't expecting to project on an IMAX screen its a good in-between format. It has received a bit more noise recently with Cameras like RED.


Brad Ferrell
08-20-2012, 07:49 PM
Thanks Tim. That question had been hanging for quite a while.

Tim Hole
08-20-2012, 09:28 PM
It's a great thread. Should be a sticky!

As a side note people shouldn't get too hung up on the 2.35:1 and 2.39:1 they are pretty much one in the same thing. People still say both interchangeably. DCI Specs include both 2.35:1 (2048x870) 2.39:1 (2048x858) both use full width of the DMD chip in DLP projectors.

Arri ground glass markings for 35 and s16 still mark for 2.35:1.


Brad Ferrell
08-21-2012, 08:08 AM
Thank you. That's good information. It was my understanding that DCP standards only covered 2.4:1 and 1.85:1. I'm really beginning to like the wideness of 2.4:1 over 2.35:1 even though 2.35:1 has 12 more pixels of information. Still waiting for Resolve 9 (and the camera) to solidify a workflow.

Brad Ferrell
08-22-2012, 08:10 PM
Wow. I can't say how excited I am now about getting the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and a full license of Resolve v9. John Brawley released cinemaDNG footage today and this place is blowing up.

I brought the files into Resolve without a hitch. There is so much latitude to work with. DSLR hell is what I call it now, or rather h.264 hell and DSLR cinematography and post-production are still my business. This camera is going to change all of that. It has all of the advantages of a DSLR (size, weight, footprint, high-resolution, low-cost) and more. True, I had to build a killer system and all the bank it took, but that was a business decision I was willing to make after hearing the promise of both products. I can see working with DNx too, but raw is where it's at for sure. I've had my doubts these last couple of months about using it (it's going to get expensive for personal projects) but I can see it's place in the order of things.

Download the files from www.blackmagicdesign.com. Open them in Resolve and see what we're all talking about today.

Brad Ferrell
08-25-2012, 09:09 AM
Oh yeah. Big time. So yesterday the news about cameras being sent out to prominent bloggers/photographers was released. People started unboxing their cameras and making videos. Phillip Bloom wasn't even home and he made a video over Skype! His video had a cat in it too. We'll see if he's a "real man" and continues making videos with this cat or not. jk.

The reality that set in was that this camera is really coming out, in a few weeks. Time to get excited. Time for raw capture and workflow for my independent clients. Time for DNx or Prores for my personal projects. Time to find a Decklink solution. Time for Resolve with two GPUs and plenty of RAM.
Time to stomp some DSLRs.

Speaking of DSLRs, I've fallen out of love with them. It wasn't a hard break-up. As the guy that does all of the post, it was easy. I wish I could say I wouldn't have to work with them again, but they are great tools for teaching the basics of camera and introducing filmmakers to post-production pipelines. For a few hundred dollars, the point of entry is so low. I believe the role of the film/video programs around the world has changed now too with the revolution of the DSLR. Instead of spending thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars on an education, an aspiring filmmaker can get into one of these camera backs for a few hundred dollars and get their formal education online empowering themselves and ultimately their crews and actors too.

I say they have a place in professional production, but I think the introduction of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera is going to change that. It's priced a bit too high for the average hobbyist or wannabe. DSLRs are perfect for this price point, under $2K, and while the BMCC introduces raw video capture and 4:2:2 compressed video for $3k, that's not where spending money on this cameras ends. You'll need a robust computer system to work with uncompressed raw. Some users are talking about using compression codecs to save space shooting raw. That might be a solution that will let you use your current system and not necessitate an upgrade or one that will at least allow you to spend some money on gear rather than hardrives.

Speaking of gear, I got the Canon 7D mounted to the ikan rig and this is as far as I got this week. (I did fall out of love...) In my next post, I'll be sharing some real-world techniques that work with this set-up and a monitor mounted to the camera. Don't forget, the BMCC is designed as a DSLR killer. Let's take a look at that DSLR world and see what we can take with us as we move into BMCC assisted production.

Tim Hole
08-25-2012, 10:04 AM
I really like Nick Campbell, and have enjoyed many a tutorial in the past. He's got his head screwed on straight.

I wrote a script based from the dogs perspective once, it was based one a Chekhov short, but I never ended up shooting it. Cameras weren't readily available back then and I wanted to use certain lenses to differentiate between the dogs perspective and the humans. Ahh well. Hope it goes well for you.

I am planning on upgrading my farm and adding more render nodes after christmas, finances allowing. I plan on documenting the build with videos and notes. I may not publish them straight away online as I have something up my sleeve but if anyone is interested on here, for a short period I would be happy to dropbox it. Not sure how much of a call for such a thing there is on this kind of forum for it...but it's there anyway.

Brad Ferrell
08-25-2012, 10:23 AM
Tim, what apps do you use your farm with? I only have use for After Effects right now, but I'd like to add 3D Max and Maya to the pipeline.

Tim Hole
08-25-2012, 10:50 AM
I use Maya software/V-Ray/mental Ray backburner but only have one network license so can only use five nodes.

C4D is set up. I have Max but I hate using the software, I tend to use it for importing stuff I buy from Turbosquid and for the odd thing that is easier in Max. But I spend as little time in that camp as possible. It's like having dinner with a Nazi, just not comfortable.

Have never considered using After Effects with it though. how's that work out?

Brad Ferrell
08-25-2012, 11:15 AM
All of us here are filmmakers of one sort or another, established, novice, visionary, lost. The list goes on. One of the hardest things for me to do when I began producing was good information about distribution. I found this here - http://static.ow.ly/docs/Distribution_Options_sn8.pdf. Let me break it down for you.

Basically, there are four avenues for distribution - television, internet, physical, and theatrical.

TELEVISION - tvs, set-top boxes, satellite receivers, etc...

1. FREE TO AIR - airline tv, digital tv, and terrestrial tv
2. SUBSCRIPTION TV - VOD, pay tv, cable tv, satellite tv

INTERNET - laptops, tablets, smart phones, desktops, media centers

a. DIRECT (e.g. .mp4, .mov, .avi)
b. DRM (e.g. iTunes, WMV, etc...)
c. Apps (e.g. Eggup)
d. BitTorrent (e.g. VODO)

a. Free Platforms (e.g. Snagg Films, Bablegum, etc...)
b. Pay per Click (e.g. YouTube, etc...)

a. Direct Streaming (e.g. rental players, etc...)
b. Single Fee Platform (e.g. iTunes, etc...)
c. Subscription Platform (e.g. Netfilx, etc...)

PHYSICAL - direct mail, shops, subscriptions, & rental services

a. flash drives
b. DVD
c. Blueray
d. Special Additions

a. posters and prints
b. comics
c. Clothing (e.g. t-shirts, caps, etc...)
d. books (e.g. recipe books, products, etc...)
e. novelties (e.g. tattoos, presents, etc...)
f. other (e.g. stickers, mouse mats, etc...)

THEATRICAL - ticketed


These are your avenues for exploitation. DIY distribution is possible today. Read the list and do some mental gymnastics - How would YOU exploit each avenue of distribution to increase awareness and earn a living from YOUR work?

Brad Ferrell
08-25-2012, 02:34 PM
Have never considered using After Effects with it though. how's that work out?
Haven't used it in a while but you set the project to render frames and each processor on the network can be brought in to help. They all work on different frames.

Brad Ferrell
08-25-2012, 02:53 PM
Back to last week's packages. I also had ordered a monitor for this DSLR setup. I find having a monitor lets you do a few things you wouldn't be able to otherwise.


First, it gives the Director a monitor to look at while the scene progresses in front of the camera. A lot of Directors are used to working with a video village or at least a monitor and a chair. I found it hard to accomodate them at first. Then I bought an HDMI monitor and it seemed to satisfy them.


Also, as a DP, it made the camera easier for me to work with handheld. It adds weight to the camera and acts a a stabilizer in a lot of ways. That tiny LCD tires your eyes.


This one comes with a little canvas bag that holds the charger and battery and monitor. It attaches to the camera with HDMI. Not a bad little monitor and part of a good kit.


Brad Ferrell
08-26-2012, 10:33 AM
Post-production has become a huge industry since the introduction of computers. Digital Intermediates satisfied the needs of Hollywood while cameras with digital sensors slowly progressed and gave us better and better images, now producing editable files in the computer's own language.

I came into the business as an editor. It was a time where the responsibilities of the editor were expanding. I was asked to set up a network. I was asked to learn 3D and animation. I was asked to render and compress. I was asked to work across both platforms. I was asked to know sound as well as imagemaking. Things really haven't changed and although the jobs are heavily specialized now, I still find work as a generalist.

Having a strong background in post-production has helped me get work as a DP. Understanding and planning a production/post-production workflow is essential and I believe this is the responsibility of both the Director and the DP. As a cinematographer, I like to work with people who let me control the grade, the look of the film. It's an extension of the camera work IMHO and informs my decisions on set as I make it part of the overall plan.

This is where the Blackmagic products; the Cinema Camera and DaVinci Resolve fit in. I like the workflow, compressed or uncompressed, raw or 4:2:2 DnxHD. XML takes the place of the Adobe Dynamic Link. I don't lose a thing.

So, you have to POST. Everything is digital. Learn it. Use it. Embrace it.

Brad Ferrell
08-30-2012, 10:44 AM
I'm logging clips. I love my DP. He starts every clip with the slate. The work is moving much faster now the info I need is right there when I open the clip.

08-30-2012, 03:37 PM
I'm logging clips. I love my DP. He starts every clip with the slate. The work is moving much faster now the info I need is right there when I open the clip.

Um... you mean you've had a DP who DOESN'T slate every take?

Brad Ferrell
08-30-2012, 05:20 PM
This DP started his clips with the slate. Easy as pie to log them. No hunting through the clip. the info I need are on the first frame.

08-31-2012, 04:28 AM
This DP started his clips with the slate. Easy as pie to log them. No hunting through the clip. the info I need are on the first frame.

Right. From my experience, that's how you slate. At the head of every shot, every take, unless it can't be avoided (like on a stunt), then you tail slate, and mark it in the continuity notes.

I was surprised that you've apparently worked with pro DP's who didn't slate properly, that's all.

Brad Ferrell
08-31-2012, 08:34 AM
That's funny. Don't be surprised when I tell you that I'm the guilty one. I will now I know how and why.

It is part the art of independence. We may not know standard operating procedures, but we get the work done, professionally.

09-01-2012, 12:52 AM
No worries. Have you seen the slates on iPhone/iPad? I know a couple of DPs who use those in a pinch. They can pop it in front of the lens even if they don't have an assistant. Some of them auto-increment the takes, too.

Brad Ferrell
09-01-2012, 08:29 AM
I'm looking forward to putting DSLRs behind me and moving onto a camera with metadata. We used an iPad for "Skipper" last year. The program is nice. In fact, there's another slate app that creates a barcode for each take and when you ingest, it renames the files for you using the barcode. Heard about that at nofilmschool.com.

Brad Ferrell
09-06-2012, 10:07 AM
When I was buying my first HDMI monitor, I chose BIG 4 hour batteries to power it with. This added to the weight of my first rig made shoulder mounted shooting with an outboard monitor very difficult. The nice thing about the ikan DSLR monitor kit I got this time around is the weight. It uses E6 Canon batteries to power itself and they are lightweight. Saves me having to keep track of chargers on the set when I'm shooting Canon too. Some things to think about when deciding on your next purchase.

Brad Ferrell
09-17-2012, 07:07 AM
First there were cameras for bloggers. I can live with that, I'm not a prominent blogger.

Then B&H got the first production cameras. This is where my plan disintegrated.

I pre-ordered from a small local dealer to give them the business and hopefully to avoid a long line at an online dealer like B&H. Not that I've got anything against B&H. They have an incredible selection and great customer service. I just wanted to keep my purchase local and avoid long lines.
Anyway, it was a week before B&H even had the camera on their website and had begun to take orders.

Now, my dealer keeps getting pushed back and the camera is not in my hands but B&H continues to get cameras for their customers. WTH?

The only problem is I can't think of a better, more fair, way of distributing orders to waiting customers so I won't bitch too much. I just want my Magic Cam and my full license of Resolve. I've got work to do.

09-17-2012, 10:03 AM
Brad- I also ordered from a smaller local retailer. I seem to remember BM saying that they were going to treat all dealers the same and that the same number of cameras would be sent to each of them. So I decided to help out the local "mom and pop" over the gigantic retail monsters... but alas, B&H does have more leverage to throw around and that may have changed BM's plan to help out the little guys.

Guess I'll be watching the bloggers post up all their freshly minted BMC videos/films for a while.

*grinds teeth*

Brad Ferrell
09-23-2012, 05:37 PM
This is my first review. No spoilers.

Great anamorphic film about a man who is drawn to Africa and ends up directly fighting against Kony to save the lives of "his" children. If you don't know who Kony is there is a viral video about his reign of terror and use of children as soldiers and sex slaves. Look it up.

This is one of the first films I recognized as anamorphic right off the bat. I learned about anamorphics here in this community. Look it up, it may be what you're looking for as a filmmaker.

Brad Ferrell
10-13-2012, 11:26 AM
I'm using DaVinci Resolve v.9 Lite now, trying to figure the best workflow for me and my clients. We both have different needs now.

I've been really keen to check out the Noise Reduction in Resolve for DSLR footage. My biggest client right now is shooting DSLR and we're doing everything we can to get the most out of them (more on this later.) So, I've got some time on my hands until delivery of my full license of Resolve and the BMCC EF, so I've been checking out the limits of XML between Premiere Pro CS6 and Resolve Lite v.9.

I put this shot together. Basically, the Director/Producer wanted a split screen so I constructed one for him.


Now how the hell am I going to color correct this? What am I going to do if Resolve's NR is crap and I have to go into AfterEffects to recreate the shot?

I imported the XML of the sequence and VOILA! it's there in Resolve. XML, what a life-saver. I've found limitations with ADL going between PP and AE. Nothing so far with XML.

Brad Ferrell
10-30-2012, 11:41 AM
I'd like to provide a little commentary and some insight into a growing business built around use of this camera. This blog is by a filmmaker for filmmakers so we're discussing art and business.

Speaking of art, please allow me to let you into a crit session. This can happen in a classroom or in an online forum like this one.

An artist brings in some work to share. They share the work and they begin fielding questions, listening to opinions, and discovering the work with an audience, maybe for the first time. Although there are no rules to the crit, it is important to understand the importance of the crit to the artist. It is usually something very close to them that they are sharing. Making images and mixing sounds in response to something that moved them is sometimes very personal and it's important as an audience to be respectful. These artists do not owe us anything. It gives some of them great pleasure to share their work with audiences. We cannot hold that against them. They are merely being themselves and this is what we want. Not lies. We want to know the work is genuine.

I've seen examples of personal attacks upon artists on this board. I've seen artists having to defend themselves, publically, on-the-record. That's not fair. This kind of behavior has to stop. What's even worse are the non-personal attacks like grafitti on an exhibition wall. Random attacks. They fuck with your head.

So, I'm still waiting on my EF mount BMCC. You can see the date of this post above. I was so excited about this camera, I sold everything and built this super-computer, going into debt to do so. Well, the bills have started coming in and days like today where I could be shooting in 60 degree weather in shorts loving life, I'm still got no camera. Jokes on me. That was a bad strategy for being so far ahead of the curve on this one.

So, like most of the professionals out there shooting medium to high budget commercials, I'm going to learn how to rent. I was going to be renting lenses anyway (I'd already been shocked into this reality by what a difference a $4000 lens makes on a Canon 7D). I'll just start renting cameras too. What does this do to my bottom line? It raises it a little but I can adjust my POST costs now based on the camera and workflow. Maybe I was just being lazy before building the whole pipeline solely around the BMCC, but I did more than that. I built a pipeline around RAW and Prores aquisition and delivery. That's very easy to plug other cameras into.

What about the MFT BMCC? I've got use of an excellent EF to PL adapter. Can't wait to try it out with some anamorphic glass. IF it doesn't work out, I'm going to rent the MFT mount BMCC and use PL glass on it. Why PL? Why anamorphic? I associate alot of feelings over the years with watching movies shot on anamorphic glass. It has certain characteristics which draw from that vocabulary and that is one of the things we're working with here, a visual vocabulary. As image-makers, we have to push ourselves to learn and create from this language, using what we know and going with our gut. I'd like to get further into this, but would like more time to prepare before I publish anything. This includes shooting with these lenses. Trying to make it happen soon.

Am I still buying the EF mount I've preordered? Yes. The camera is a steal at this price, PLUS Resolve. Can't pass it up. Plus it will be hard to get your hands on one for a while, they just won't be available. One thing the videos shared so far have shown me is how important glass is to your image. Check them out.


Brad Ferrell
11-12-2012, 10:29 AM
Well for one, it's an historical document. It is kind of a camera blog, but I would limit its sphere of influence to independent filmmakers, specifically Directors, DP's, and Producers. In my experience, it's people in these roles who evaluate cameras and build the production and post-production pipelines; the decision makers. Research and consulation are a big part of this process, hence my blog.

I've got 20 years experience behind the lens and behind the computer workstation working with digital images and sound. I still check out the elementary tutorials out there, just in case I might have missed something back in the beginning, some basic element of photography. I don't know what that is, maybe insecurity mixed with OCD or a real humility, but it wouldn't be humble to admit it. As a matter of fact, When shooting I usually do stick to the basics. I can't wait to shoot anamorphic and I hope to share that experience here as I'll be shooting with the MFT BMCC at first, but I would like to see more from a Red now as they're higher resolution and have a Super35 sized sensor.

As we move to higher and higher bit depths and resolutions, it's easy to get caught up in the marketing cycles and hype and miss what is really happening. The tools are evolving every day but the basics of making a good, profitable, film are the same. There is so much that goes into the decision of what camera to use, but it's only part of the whole equation to getting a feature film made and distributed.

My attitude about not needing school/university education to get started and excell is still the same. Good Will Hunting says it best.


Brad Ferrell
11-20-2012, 08:35 AM
Back to School. You heard me right. But Brad, I thought you didn't think university was the place to learn filmmaking. I still don't, BUT I found a one year program in visual effects that I'd like to attend at The Vancouver Film School.

What's the problem? The problem is I can't get from one stage of production to the next to complete anything. The problem is the $75K I'd be dropping on tuition and expenses, I'd almost rather have in lenses and production gear. The problem is I'd have to leave my dog in an apartment alone most of the day (I could get a second dog).

So, I guess the real question is can I take this next step alone with my tutorials or do I need this education to make the transition to Action Director. Well, I've got a year to find out.

For one thing, this camera is going to be a big plus when it comes to creating VFX shots. 12 bit 2.5K raw background plates and elements will really shine in a 2K timeline. I think that is where I should focus my efforts, motion tracking, adding 2D and 3D elements, lighting, rendering passes, and compositing. Of course, all the while editing, color correcting, animating and whatever other jobs I can find around here. That's what's paying the bills now.

I'd really like to go though and join the other VFX artists who are creating a name for themselves through this school and through their work. They're creating a center for VFX in Vancouver and as much as I like that, I like the tax incentives the country offers to bolster film production. I think this idea is central to breaking up the dominance of the Hollywood Production and FX houses and decentralizing film production (and POST.)

My business partner thinks it's a good idea. We've been looking for tax incentives around the world and Canada has as good a deal as any.

What makes this program different than a four-year or master's program? Several things in fact, or I wouldn't be wasting my time.

1. one year program - six months of classes and six months to work on your reel.
2. six months to work on your reel.
3. no critical studies requirements.
4. all software and hardware provided - of course I'll be taking my BMCC.
5. all teachers are working professionals.

Their graduates are working on studio films and the level of quality coming out of this program is high. There are a lot of plusses. Let's take a look at the negatives.

1. It's all the way in Vancouver, Canada.
2. $53K tuitions and 1 year living expenses.
3. May have trouble getting dog into and out of country and dog will spend the day alone for one year.
4. Re-locate to Canada to use industry connections made in school.

Honestly, I'm having a hard time coming up with negatives so I'll stop.

I think my mind's made up about staying here. I have to for the next year at least. To make the money and finish obligations to projects I am working on. So, I've got a year to decide. Any suggestions? Former Students?

Brad Ferrell
01-04-2013, 02:55 PM
Wow. Last I wrote I was looking into school. That was a lot of days ago. A lot has happened. Let me fill you in and let you know why I'm still here.

One. School. I decided not to go to Vancouver Film School. It was a good fit for my future plans, but they don't allow dogs on campus. I'm serious. I just rescued Dolly and I'm not about to lock her in an apartment for 16-20 hours a day while I make a movie. I'll just have to figure it out on my own and return to the Gnomon School way of doing things. I do consider myself a generalist, not a jack of all trades. There's something derogatory about that last moniker and I'm going to avoid it's stupidity and continue learning everything I want to. Mastery takes time. For anything.

Two. BMCC EF-mount. Cancelled presale order and bought Resolve at a discount from one of the first owners of the camera. I was planning on using the MFT mount anyway. I want to shoot anamorphic and I want to color correct and grade. Plus, I'd just gone through hell in debt and an angel came through and got it all paid off. The camera would equal more debt that I just can't assume right now. Too bad, so sad, whatever. Resolve kicks ass on this machine I built for it. It's intuitive and easy to use after a steep learning curve, especially if you were ADOBE everything.

BMCuser. I'm still here. I'm interested in the camera. I'm going to get ahead of the curve in Resolve. Hopefully some of you guys will see my work and want to work with me as a colorist. TTYL.


Brad Ferrell
01-06-2013, 12:34 PM
What the hell is DIT and where is it going? If you don't find out, you'll be left behind.

http://nofilmschool.com/2013/01/dit-post-house-extinct-2017/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nofilmschool+%28NoFilmSchool% 29

What's my experience with DIT as an independent ultra-low-budget filmmaker? Well, in the beginning there was tape and film, one was electronic and one was chemical. Then digital files began to appear on cameras in many different formats, sizes, and prices. It became the future and that future is now and we're moving beyond it into a wireless transfer of data and a cloud-based system of storage, but is the technology ready and what am I supposed to do now? I can't even afford DIT on my DSLR set.

My first rule for ultra-low-budget/no budget filmmaking is never buy ahead of the curve. You don't get the fastest, you buy 18 month old technology, it's cheaper and just as good. I'm talking about computers. Apple computers are ahead of the curve IMHO and if my choices for the same specs are $3000 for an Apple and $1800 for a PC, I'll be spending my money on the PC. Even better, just buy the parts at a huge discount and build the same machine yourself with a little initiative and research. If you've got to have a Mac but want to stay behind the curve, build one yourself.

I also used to like getting the biggest media card or SSD for my camera. I've been DP and DIT on some productions and this allowed for longer shooting times and less down time as I unloaded the data and backed it up. Don't go too big. If that sucker crashes you'll lose a lot of time and money on the files lost. Best Case Scenario - more, smaller cards and dedicated DIT using at least USB 3.0.

That's the scenario I was in last. The 1st AC had 4 Redmags and rotated through them as they shot. I would unload and back them up feeding the files from the Redmag into each backup drive individually and then send them back. I also brought my tower with me so the Director would view the footage on the tower at the end of shooting and was able to edit some together in the RV. Next time I'll provide dailies on an iPad if I have the tower to work with. It's plenty powerful.

I would like to see a MBP in the towers place just for data, not edits or dailies just to use TB but right now TB is ahead of the curve.

Brad Ferrell
01-07-2013, 05:14 PM
and no DIT - part two

In order to take on the task of performing DIT on a production, I believe you need to know a few things.

1. Be platform independent - No Mac vs. PC wars here and no camera wars. Be able to use them and know the ins and outs of their connections and quirks. If you're renting equipment, this is very important, it can cost you cash.

2. Know the difference between a bit and a byte meaning it is crititcal that you can strip and rebuild your machine out in the field with your eyes closed. Build/buy your machines to be portable and durable. Also meaning 100 MB/sec is roughly equivalent to 1 Gb/sec.

3. Have loads of patience. I expect that you'll value your position enough to babysit the transfers. All of them. All three copies. Yes.

4. Be a nice person. You're in a service position. You are the only line of defense against data corruption. Do your job and be humble. As the video link above explains, the position is disolving as cameras and data transfer evolve.

5. Be proud of bringing home three copies of the files created for the film. That's a lot of responsibility.

Brad Ferrell
02-06-2013, 11:01 AM
Mistakes...I've made a few. I can admit to that much.

Did I learn anything from them? That's an interesting question. It was one of the greek philosophers said, "the only thing you can know is that you don't know anything." So my answer would be this...I attempt to stay in a space where I can continually observe without judgement. It's frustrating for my family and peers, I may seem unattached or that I don't care. It's difficult to communicate that I'm not, and that it's somehow at conflict with my creativity. I find inspiration in the randomness of life's experience and breaking free from thought systems which imprison my mind and distort my observations.

What I'm learning to do instead of make judgements about my observations and allowing that to guide me, is to follow my heart, my passion, my creativity. I do the things that make me happy.

Is this the path for you?

Brad Ferrell
03-11-2013, 08:56 AM
I worked as an actor and as DIT on the set of a short film called Spirited. I was also invited to come in and finish editing the last four scenes of the film in February. Working with William L. Molina on the edit was one of the most collaborative events of my career thus far. He wouldn't criticize our work, but would instead set me up for successes in other ways. William likes to open up a scene right now with a close up. I opened the scenes with closeups. I also closed on close-ups, something he requested. Overall, a great editing experience which I believe will open a lot of doors for us both. Working with him, I also got an offer to be a Visual Effects Producer on his next film, a feature set in the wastelands of the future. That will give me an opportunity to integrate what I've learned about live action photography with what I know about CGI and it's processes.

I also got an offer from an A-list production company looking for a data wrangler/DIT person which was a referral from Larry McKee, the DP on Spirited. Speaking of Larry. He's an example of his work, and our collaboration on Spirited.


Lesson learned: It's never about the money. I volunteered for Spirited. Spirited is a collaborative work, produced in Texas, by Texans. It's about creating an active and creative community in a city where there is not much of a film industry. From within this community, we will build a film industry here in Houston by drawing on the talent of the region.

Short post. Maybe I should talk less about processes and more about equipment?

Brad Ferrell
03-11-2013, 09:10 AM
Another still from Spirited, Director of Photography - Larry McKee, Actor - Patrick Sane.


EDIT: You may find the grade quite neutral and flat. It's my own personal tastes that you're seeing. I haven't worked with the DP on either shot as colorist, but the Director and I have played around with a few options. The flat look is intentional. IMHO, it makes it look more like film.

03-20-2013, 07:31 AM
That's Great. That looks awesome man! Drop a link when that is ready!

Brad Ferrell
03-20-2013, 09:05 AM

Thanks for the kind words. The image above is from the title sequence. After yesterday's grading session, we've decided on a lower contrast, med-high saturation look for the film, like the image above. I'll post more about the process next, once the grade in Resolve is done.

Brad Ferrell
03-25-2013, 11:26 AM
Had some great news this last week. One of my business partners, another producer, has a major distributor producing their film and buying them out. This guy only has a cell phone and it's not even an Apple. He's incredible. Great leader and the doors keep opening.

Due to some family health issues, I turned down a couple of jobs coming in which would have taken me out of the office and put me on-set and away from home. I'll rebuild once this is over...

Brad Ferrell
03-27-2013, 10:18 AM
I've been working on a volunteer/paid basis on Spirited, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2780798/combined working closely with William L. Molina,http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2005524/, during editing and now color correcting and grading/finishing the footage on my own. I'm working on a 2048x858 timeline in Resolve from a 4800x2700 timeline in Premiere Pro. We're producing/delivering a 2K WS DCP and a 1080P master.

One of the themes of our conversations before, during, and after work has been collboration. Will, like me, wears many hats and he's good at what he does but he wants to specialize in Directing. He says he's learning to let go, he has to, there's not enough time to do everything and an added perspective can heal the blind. We both know the pitfalls of being the Superman on set and off.

Collaboration and Learning to Let Go. You're going to have to start making choices if you plan on having a "career." Career can be defined as "an occupation or a profession that usually involves special training or formal education, and is considered to be a person’s lifework. In this case "a career" is seen as a sequence of related jobs usually pursued within a single industry or sector e.g. "a career in law" or "a career in the building trade"." I've had to make two choices during my career, filmmaker or musician? Film or TV/WEB? These things kept coming up and I used to go between selling my video gear for a couple of guitars and then selling the guitars and upgrading to the next computer system and flavor of Digital Video. I've turned down work in television or the web to stay focused on film. I've had to. The way my brain works, I have to specialize. The editor has been in the mix since editing moved to the computer. You, the independent, are going to have to make these choices too. Since around 1990 I've wanted to be a Feature Film director, making movies that compete in the theaters AND on video. Movies you hear about on TV through ads and interviews and PR. Don't know why, but that's what I chose a long time ago. I've had to define it too from Director to Movie Director to B-Movie Director, to Feature Film Director. I'm goal oriented and need direction sometimes.

Learning to let go has been tough for me. I take my time making friends and business connections. It's because of my sickness, the bipolar crap. I usually got really sick every year for like ten years and went through friends and connections on a regular basis. I take my time now and have to really trust the people I'm working with since I can't tell fantasy from reality sometimes, more fun than it sounds, and have to rely on them for that grounding.

I let go and ended my writing career two nights ago. I don't know what I'm doing. I've got some great ideas for a situation or a scene but not the whole enchilada. I know what a good enchilada tastes like just not how to make one.
So I pitched a couple of writers the other night, peeps I've know for a few years now. Sounded like it was fertile ground for a story. I want to make movies that people feel and react, that people can get into. Well that's the wisdom in my thumb, Collaboration and learning to let go.

Brad Ferrell
03-29-2013, 09:43 AM
I've found some very interesting feature docs on Netflix here in America. Of course, if you live outside of the country, you're quite aware our media and government are controlled by very wealthy corporations and banks. If you don't, and happen to live here or if you're just interested in opening your mind to the very possibilities of what you're being told as the truth, you might find these films interesting, entertaining, and provocative. They are all available on Netflix.

Zeitgeist (2007) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1166827/combined
Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1332128/combined
Zeitgeist: Moving Forward (2011) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1781069/combined
Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup (2009) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1394268/combined

Just watched this one last night. It's very entertaining and had me on the edge of my seat.
Kumare (2011) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1865425/combined

What am I doing watching Documentaries? Well I have one in the works and always do this kind of research before beginning the development of any project. Also, I got caught up in the information. The topics interest me and there are some low-budget docs online that really pack a punch which relieves me as I'm being forced to shoot with my iPhone right now and was concerned about it's low-fi quality and it hampering the success of the film. Not anymore. I could really give a shit about what camera I'm shooting on now.

Brad Ferrell
04-17-2013, 07:53 AM
One of the reasons I went ahead and bought Resolve at a discount and turned down the camera was that I wanted to see the noise reduction capabilities of Resolve. I had a DSLR project with terrible noise and I wanted to see how Resolve handled it. Now that I've been using it on a variety of formats, I think I can draw some conclusions about it and another noise reduction tool I use, Neat Video.

The problem I was having with Neat Video was that it created too smooth of an image. I'd always thought maybe I could add an adjustment layer and throttle the NR that way by changing the blending mode or the opacity. I haven't run that experiment. It turns out that if you sharpen last the image comes out and pops, even with the heavy NR. This was doing the NR first ala Stu Maschwitz's teachings.

John Brawley has said repeatedly on this forum to perform NR last. I attempted to do this to my DSLR footage in Resolve, but the results were less than satisfactory. I believe this is due to the heavy compression of the DSLR footage in the blacks where Resolve seems to fall apart and where Neat Video excels. This is only on DSLR footage.

Resolve seems to excel at NR on Red footage. I can apply this to the image without getting such a plastic look and just eliminate the grain or soften it a bit. NR applied last in Resolve seemed like the way to go.

So, in conclusion, Resolve NR plays best with RED noise than DSLR noise. If you're going to use DSLR footage in Resolve, I would recommend a quick pass in Neat Video first to maximize the color and smooth the compression in the footage.

Brad Ferrell
06-05-2013, 08:59 AM
SWAMP is the Southwest Alternative Media Project located in the Montrose area of Houston, Texas. It is one of the few filmmaker resources that exist in Houston, and it was the first I attended back in '00.

Since about August of last year, SWAMP director Jenny Waldo and I have been talking about putting together a workshop around the BMCC and it's various workflows. We had such an opportunity last month and I prepared an hour and a half long discussion centered around the camera and how to use and protect it's data, your images, and get the most out of them.

Having been to SWAMP before, I was expecting a room full of Producers but what I got was a room full of shooters, just like here on BMCUSER. In fact, everyone there had been on this forum, and for the most part was up to date on new releases of info, the new cameras, and their problems.

Pharpsied brought his camera. It was the first time I had seen one in person. It's really just a 2.5K camera back. That's my attitude. If it's going to work for you, it's going to work. It does have uncompressed raw. That is it's saving grace. We did discuss raw storage and this is where everyone's eye's went blank. They were having a hard time imagining close to 40TB of storage for a feature film, the same or more than R3D at 5K.

Where did all of the advantages go? It is cheap. You get a full license of Resolve but you need a powerhouse computer to run it in real time, that's another $2-3K. Plus storage. The reality is that raw on the BMCC is as expensive to acquire as 5K raw. Why would you choose a $3000.00 2.5K camera? Because it shoots Prores too.

Prores does not require a super computer or large, fast hard drives. It's a cheaper system, a cheaper workflow. You can forget about 40TB for a feature if you're shooting Prores. You might need 8TB and a USB 3.0 disk caddy. I wouldn't recommend shooting film gamma unless you want a color-correction session at the beginning of editorial and after. If you truly want to keep the costs down, shoot video.

If you're not worried about a little extra work and have access to funds for storage, shooting raw 2.5K is not a bad idea. It can be uprezzed to 4K no problem. Another interesting feature is that the raw footage out of the BMCC is sharper and has more detail than the Red Epic or the Alexa, you may end up with a sharper 4K uprez if you originate with the BMCC.

It's possible.

Brad Ferrell
06-20-2013, 07:53 AM

Actually, the Metatron image was colored in After Effects.

Man in the Closet or The CuCuy was shot on two 7Ds' and uprezed to 2K.

End Justice was shot on 7D with very little manipulation to the image.

Skipper was shot on two 7Ds'. I was DP for all of these shots. Larry McKee shot the Spirited frame on RED Epic, I colored.

Brad Ferrell
06-24-2013, 10:55 AM
I built a computer last summer in preparation for using 2.5K raw with Resolve. The specs are listed below.

P9x79 Pro Motherboard
i7 3930 overclocked to 3.9Ghz (12 processor threads)
64GB of quad channel RAM
GTX 570 with 2.5GB RAM x 2
240GB SSD for startup
240GB SSD for scratch drive
BMD Intensity Pro

I currently have the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription and a licensed copy of Resolve 9 that I bought from someone who paid a premium for their cinema camera. I've been working with digital video for 19 years.

This computer rocks. The nice thing about the GTXs' is that I get 60+ fps while rendering my 1080P proxies. The encoding is fast.

The nice thing about the RAM is that I can assign the maximum (3GB) to each processor and still have RAM left over for the system and a few browser windows.

I've got some 3D work to do on the film I just started. It should scream during rendering then too. I'll update later.

I'm running Windows 7 Professional 64bit. No problem with OS. I also use MacDrive for greater compatibility across platforms.

The Intensity Pro is a good 1080P card. I use a 2K widescreen timeline but can easily have it scaled and letterboxed for output. I use a 1080P proxy workflow with Premiere Pro. The Intensity Pro won't display a 2K WS timeline in PP. You have to scale your proxies instead and edit a 1080P workflow. No biggie. Lesson learned.

I wouldn't trade this computer for the world.

Brad Ferrell
06-26-2013, 06:40 PM
I got ruffled? Yeah. This troll responds to my craigslist ad calling it a scam and me an amateur. In contrast another producer told me I was wrong but wanted to talk to me about how he thought I would find success. wtf? why such a difference? That one artist turned me off of LA so hard I started looking for tax incentives. If I hadn't talked to the "nice" producer first, I may have called the whole search off. Lessons learned...

Brad Ferrell
07-04-2013, 04:18 PM
MBFF is still in motion behind the scenes right now. We've got images we can release and this is a portrait I made of her right after I first got her. If you look close, you can see her tongue sticking out. This is something Border Collie's do, as a breed. Very cute.


Brad Ferrell
07-07-2013, 09:36 AM
I've got very little cash flow these days. It's a fact.

I don't do a lot of contract work, collaboration, or commercials. I try to stay focused on narrative feature work and if I can't find that, I "work on my own shit" as they say. I was overjoyed when Adobe announced the creative cloud with a subscription base. It lowers the barrier to entry for most filmmakers, and you know they keep coming. The Universities and Colleges all have filmmaking programs, the equipment is cheap for low-no budget production, and $50 a month for a suite of applications that cover most areas of digital production, be it web, print, or video, a god-send. Honestly, although the suite payed for itself in a month, $2000 is a lot of change to drop at one time for me. Interest-free payments make a lot of sense for me now and the second license it provides allows me to work with whoever I choose and enable them to have the same tools as I do. I just wish the 3D apps would adopt the same subscription structure.

Brad Ferrell
07-12-2013, 01:47 PM
Kholi said this, "The camera is the camera, it's your job to be cinematic with it."

I think it clears up a lot of confusion and rightly places the responsibility for image making to the artist and not the brush.

Brad Ferrell
08-14-2013, 11:19 AM
I'm fortunate enough to have been selected to direct a horror short called Voodoo. I'm working with Will Molina, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2005524/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1, Sam Rivas, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3202180/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1, and others from NYC, Berlin, and Houston. It's an international cast and crew and we're all excited about the possibilities once the short is done with post-production.

We've had a BMCC and kit donated by Ikan for us to shoot with. We're very fortunate to have this partnership and we're totally grateful of this opportunity to use these pieces of tech to craft our photography.

We're shooting 10bit Prores, applying a LUT and creating dailies in Resolve, editing in Premiere Pro CC, and round-tripping to Resolve to finish color. Waiting for Resolve 10, but maybe then back to PPCC for finishing and delivery. The workflow works. I've used it with DSLR and RED footage for 8 months now.

I'll show what I can from the footage, promotional images and frames from a scene, that kind of stuff.


Brad Ferrell
08-15-2013, 06:12 AM
I was a little concerned about the crop sensor and finding the right lenses but I got the Canon 10-22 for wides, the 16-35L, a 50 f1.4, an 85 f1.8 and a 135 f2.8. I love long lenses in narrative storytelling so we're going to stay as long as we can.

Brad Ferrell
09-02-2013, 05:32 PM
I'm going to post Blog entry once I've got all of the footage in one place. We're all tied up on other projects right now. Sorry...

Brad Ferrell
09-09-2013, 11:19 AM
Just a quick post. I've been reading some of my earlier entries and it looks like the landscape has changed and university programs are gaining ground and becomming more relevant. It's not that the schools are getting better, but that the decentralization of the American movie industry and the growth of the global market have accelerated and you don't have to go the California or New York to be a Happy Pro anymore.

I still think the money is better spent on responsible transportation and entertainment. Enter at your own risk...

Brad Ferrell
09-11-2013, 06:35 AM
I'd like to share a little bit of my research and understanding of semiotics, or the study of meaning.

Since we've all come into contact with the concept of the word GOD and what may appear to his/her effect on the world, I'll break down the psychological elements which compose it's framework in order to expose the power of the concept and it's proper place in your reality.

I, am politically correct, so this will be an objective discourse without predjudice or malicious intent. I, also, am an atheist, but I don't believe it disqualifies me from discourse. So...

God has many names in modern American Christian culture. The One. The King of Kings, Holy of Holy, etc... Wars are being declared and murders are being committed in the name of these ideals.

So, we could list all of these names and instead of pretending to understand by throwing all of the toys together into the toybox, we give each of them a separate and equal space in our mind. After creating boxes for these concepts, these words, these sounds; we begin to gather intelligence about these things. This is how concepts and ideas shape our lives/experiences. We begin to define them.

They each have a separate place in our minds and their own IDENTITY. You can begin to speak to each concept as yourself or your self, these is a difference, and discover it's "essence" in a sense, and know what it means (signifies) inside and outside of yourself. You can do this through exploratory self-hypnosis. There is a reactive plane of existence where information is channeled into a feedback loop that distorts reality. Self-hypnosis is a way to become lucid and suggestible. It is best done when amongst friends.

So what? Everyone has a "god" mind in their databanks. They see the effects of it in their lives and are taught to believe somehow that it is outside of them and not generated from THEIR being, not the other way around. You can remain godless and still talk to your godmind as if it were yours. I do it all of the time. I've put god in his proper place.

God has his uses, for example to understand the greater culture surrounding and oppressing my own culture, which I protect with my life. I don't believe in the old wizard concept. That was someone's ego talking...

That will end today's lesson. I've given some of you a lot to think about. Please fill the tip jar on your way out. Thank you.

Brad Ferrell
10-19-2013, 08:46 AM
Just a real quick update from what's been ages...

I had to get some distance and perspective on the material, period. I was too close, and at the time we lost our editing partner to commerce, I couldn't just jump in and get creative. I say we lost him to commerce because this is one of those projects all professionals hate - no pay/deferred.

Let me just say for a second there is a difference between volunteer and deferred. Deferred pay is, in effect, film financing. You are taking the money you would earn and financing it for the film company. Once the project makes money, you get paid the amount or percentage agreed for your work. It's basic terms, nothing fancy.

Well, Will has more bills to pay than I do, so I agreed to edit the film alone. Let me give you some facts about the shoot first before I get into the edit.

We had 12 hours to shoot 9 scenes in two different locations. I chose not to storyboard during pre-production or create a shot-list. Instead, I decided to rent the BMCC and shoot run-and-gun with the rig I had designed for one-man documentary production. I chose William Molina to DP as his fluid narrative style would soften the footage with movement and feeling. I chose well. We set out to mix very basic coverage with a fast-paced story-telling technique. I wanted to keep things simple. For the longer more fluid shots, the Ikan shoulder rig was perfect for creating a voyeuristic eye we could roam around our subject with. I hope to provide a trailer one of these days which brings us back to the edit.

Boy, was I having a hard time when I started the edit! One of our producers' slammed me with a request I felt should have been covered way before even finalizing the script. I had to blame myself. End of story. If I want to direct, I'm going to need to learn to work with Producers or eliminate them entirely so I can be creative. I really want to direct.

My problem now was time. I was supposed to edit this film to a time now, instead of doing it organically and it ending up where it ends up. How was I supposed to tell this fast paced story but slow it down somehow so it would be longer. I really wasn't expecting more than 7 or 8 minutes out of the footage and script we have. I have a lead foot when it comes to pacing, pedal to the metal if you know what I'm saying. No time to slow down...

Now I'm very happy with the footage. The disparity between scenes and the lack of proper transitions allowed me to search for a creative story-telling solution to stitch them together. The acting is spot on for what I wanted. I like to let the artists do their thing and try to do most of the work before we reach the set. I know when I'm acting surprises can be surprising.

The camera-work is great. We got what we were looking for. If anything, I'm getting better at selecting the collaborative team as much as it selects itself. The film is now part of a commercial collection. I'm finishing up POST right now, laying out the final timeline and putting the pieces together. I wrap each film in the series when I get to it. Each is in its own state of completion with none less than 80% done. I'm adding animation and titles but I love the work, so to me it's that opportunity I've been looking for where I can make a difference on a feature and make some money while I'm at it.

Voodoo is proving to be a lot of fun. I'll post the trailer for it when I can. I know you'd all like to see some graded Prores footage.


Gary Huff
10-19-2013, 11:22 PM
Let me just say for a second there is a difference between volunteer and deferred. Deferred pay is, in effect, film financing. You are taking the money you would earn and financing it for the film company. Once the project makes money, you get paid the amount or percentage agreed for your work. It's basic terms, nothing fancy.

How much money have you made from working for deferred pay?

Brad Ferrell
10-20-2013, 08:50 AM
How much money have you made from working for deferred pay?

Currently, I'm on my first deferred feature doing all of the post so I haven't made anything so far. We're in touch with distributors at this point and are able to make some very conservative estimates based on some numbers we're able to extract socially. On the low end, we estimate my percentage anywhere between $5K and $10K. This will cover my time and cash expenditures. I have a gross deal and we're distributing globally.

I am not doing this blindly. I am an owner in the property. I have a written contract. My partners are very close friends and we're all doing this "on-the-side." What I mean is that this is an exploratory venture to see what can be made with what. We've all heard stories about what you can make in this business. We're just trying to make it happen for ourselves and the way I see it, we have a lot of advantages productions on the coasts do not, like low costs for production and post.

I possess all of the edits, titles, animation, video, graphics, etc... and I do not release them out for any reason. Not even to my friends. We use mobile devices and the internet for sharing private edits. I protect my interests and cover my ass to the best of my ability.

My equity here is time and skill. I'm fortunate to have been able to find partners allowing me to leverage this against the potential of our product instead of a low daily or hourly rate. I like to gamble with my money too but just a little. :o

EDIT: I'd also like to add that I'm no seasoned pro with 20 years of work experience. I'm an educated and interested experimental animator/video artist with 5 solid years of production and post-production experience. I've taken these last few years to work in these fields to help my understanding of live/action production/post. Learning this has better helped me develop a perspective where I can now better integrate computer graphics into live action footage. As much as I love full animation, I'm not willing to go down the road any further right now until I have produced some live-action/mixed work. There are only a few stories i have to tell this way anyway. It's not my sole form of expression.

Going through the threads, you might deduct that I am opinionated, but I am trying to develop a more helpful and caring attitude online and I hope my sharing this helps cultivate that. :)

Brad Ferrell
05-05-2014, 05:48 PM
Still working on the film and others. Getting on to sound and music. Will update later.

Brad Ferrell
05-19-2014, 09:19 AM
I got my first taste of filmmaking really as an editor and everything has really been an extension of that. I took on a client a couple of years ago as a cinematographer, then editor and producer. I've taken on most of the work on my dime willingly in return for a percentage of the profits. The scope of my work is extensive and the opportunity to showcase the skills of my studio is great. I have my regrets, but I'm pushing through them because the reward is so great.

I took a job a few months back to save a little money, get out of debt and get my work ethic back in check. It worked but I had to quit. I was so beat up from work I couldn't edit on the weekends or work on projects at all. It wasn't worth it. I'm a filmmaker and I had forgotten that. I got caught up in what everyone else thought I could no longer hear what I was saying to myself. Wow.

Well, my point here is that I took on this client and he is different in a lot of ways to my other Client/Directors. He is HANDSOFF leaving me in a very creative position. I feel like Mickey Mouse with all those broomsticks at times but it's forced me to grow as an artist and as a businessman. The responsibility was handed to me when I accepted the role of Producer but I earned that position due to my knowledge of the edit and it's extensions. So, I'm still working in Resolve 9. I upgraded to Creative Cloud a long time ago. These are my tools. We recently added an unknown sound editor to the package. That helps a great deal as I've lost critical hearing these last ten years. My eyes are still excellent but I can't edit or mix sound at my age anymore...

The business, Angelis Digital, is growing. I've taken on a partner from The Art Institute. She's a visual effects artist and editor and her studies include animation and marketing. She's going to be helping in a lot of areas but her compensation is tied to the success of her marketing bringing in new customers. The business model is changing for the business. We're starting to incorporate products and actively marketing them to the public. One such example would be Expedition American. It's a small video label I've created to make content centered around offroad vehicles and their drivers. We have a started creating content for youtube and have a couple of films planned for general video release through established offroad video vendors. Our costs are in check and we're set to make a profit.

I've really been focused on the business of film. My income is tied to the financial success of the film I'm working on now and having my ducks in a row is important if I'm going to continue investing more time in this project. I have close to 2000 hours invested. Even at $10/hour, we'd have to bring in six figures for me to break even. As a result of this, I've been focused on marketing and business since Feb. and working on the film only on weekends until May. Now I'm back at it full time and have less than 200 hours to go on my end.

That's it for the update. I'll be around more often. This is my blog after all.

Brad Ferrell
05-30-2014, 11:32 AM
I believe in transparency and responsibility so here it is. I fear I may have led you down a dark road and wish to share my experience.

Over a year ago, I demanded that the management team for the film I've been investing in get all of the contracts and paperwork ready for the film before I proceeded with my work on the film. I was talked into continuing and did until this week.

This week, I again went on strike demanding the same thing from them and now a comprehensive marketing plan to show how they plan on making me money. I feel this is only fair due to the amount of work and time I have invested. Rather than being greeted with a yes, sir, that's appropriate and we're sorry to inconvenience and put your time at risk, I was responded to with indignation, self-interest, and constant emotional manipulation for a couple of days as I went on a limb to explain myself to them. It's only fair. I wish to continue but see no reason to further waste my time if there is no business to this film.

I do have leverage. I made sure no one had access to my work. It is mine. I own it and I have not distributed copies of this work without watermarks or identifying codes and names burned into the image of the film. No one has the opportunity to exploit my work without compensation and I have been very careful. I do not own the film. I only own my work on the film and as the producers of this film have the masters, they are in a position to find another studio or artist to do the same work and leave me behind. That is fine with me. I do feel however that the production team I was working with has explioted our relationship to their advantage continuously. Signs of this began to emerge during other projects. I was expected to do things like setup Paypal accounts because of the ego and utter laziness of one of the producers I was working with. On projects, I have no part of. I was also asked to and not paid for many other odd jobs related to my skillset. I am only to conclude that it is a dangerous equation for the artist when entering into deferred or participatory schemes with unestablished producers or friends. I am currently seeking other employment.

I do not expect to see a dime from my time spent on this project. I admit I didn't understand the business and that gambling with my time like this was just that, gambling. Now that i do understand the business better, how weak the economy is, and how pipe dreams are just that. Sorry if I led you astray with my courage. The situation turned out to be worse than I expected and a half-empty stance is one I have to take in business now and that's today's takeway. If you can only see the glass half full, you might just want to step back and take nap before you go and make any decisions about committing to dreams, hopes, and commitments. I wish I had.

Brad Ferrell
08-19-2014, 09:58 AM
Wow. It's been a while. I guess you could say that I'm still learning the ropes. What have I been up to? Well, I'm selling my photography for the first time and it's really exciting and kind of validating in a weird way. I had taken a job at a local offroad and customs shop as their marketing manager. I couldn't take the nine to five part of the job being stuck behind a computer all day and one day I realized how old my dad was getting as that I was missing out on the last days of his life pissing around at this nine to five. I decided I needed to be more brave and step out of the security of the job. The benefits are that I could make my schedule, having lunch with my dad and catching up with him throughout the day, week, year what have you. I did manage to work a deal with the owner of the shop to carry on some of my responsibilities of my job and earn a little extra income, so I take pictures of the classics and monster trucks he works on and manage his online precence through Facebook and some exploratory channels.

Somehow this marketing work and getting paid to be behind the camera making images has rejuvenated me and given me a sense of purpose. I feel like the way I lived my life and handled my business these last couple of years was really reckless and on top of that I'm not really proud of some of the work I did. It was just pure laziness and greed which pulled me away from my perfectionism and craft and I have to live with the work I produced while in this mindset. I had a lot of really great equipment but was too full of myself and my abilities to see how mediocre my tastes had become and my aspirations and ego got in the way of my reality. I've had to rethink everything. Not saying I'm any better, but I do have a renewed sense of empowering myself through education and leaving the experimentation and gambling behind me and producing some work I can be proud of.

I've got a really great opportunity here to do something with my life and I feel like I'm on the road I need to be on.

One thing that was really missing from my mind in my last films was movement. I'm literally obsessed with it. I've been watching moco timelapses and I have seen some incredible footage out there. So many ways to say things about the world we live in from the selection of a lens to the colors of the time of day. Kessler has introduced to me through their videos some incredible filmmakers like Preston Kanak. Preston makes some really interesting films using their products. I really like his use of slomo. It's a really powerful story-telling tool and at first you'd want to experiment with it shot by shot but he goes ahead and make a whole film using it. Check him out on Vimeo (https://vimeo.com/preston).

Brad Ferrell
10-21-2014, 03:26 PM
Well things have changed. I've given away all of my "Hollywood" ambitions driven into me during my education and am moving in a more organic cinematic approach. I'm exploring concepts like DOF, ECU, wide angle (I recently bought the 10-22mm Canon) and having a load of fun.

Here's a couple of examples:



This freelance thing is tough. I have a very low working budget of $700.00 per month to get the bills paid and if there's no work, this is all there is. As an emotional flux lilke I am, I'm finding it hard to develop and maintain relationships with clients. I'm more the love them and leave them type, I guess. Is the commercial world big enough without sticking to the same clients not growing in the direction you're headed in?

Brad Ferrell
11-04-2014, 05:57 PM
It's a tough world out where I'm at now. I'm taking a sales position to pay the bills but I'm not giving up on this hobby/passion. I'm glad I got out of doing what I was doing. No one was profiting and there was something counterfeit about the whole thing I couldn't shake. Just a feeling. So, it's going to take me some time to pick up some commercial spots. It turns out that I don't want to be a Director first, but a cameraman or both. I just want to shoot right now. I spend hours editing footage from the bird feeder in the back yard and my nephews antics. I've been busy, if anyone wants to see what I consider fun, goto http://youtube.com/user/angelisdigital.

I have a 28mm on most of the time but the threads are out of shape so I've got to replace it with something I can get a ND filter on like another Yashica. I like the 28mm. It's a great go to lens. I also got a 10-22mm from Canon. I didn't really like it at first but it's offering up some interesting portraits of the dog, so I'm starting to like it. I'd like to give a shot at astral photography with it.

Brad Ferrell
11-04-2014, 09:02 PM
I'm not sure what to make of this blog now. I started off so head-strong and self-assured and now I don't exactly feel that about myself or my work anymore. I've come to realize that the only person I could ever do better than is myself and that's the real challenge.

I've got a modest kit. I've had better, and I can rent better. But it's not about kit. I'm torn between building a vintage kit or a really nice sharp zoom kit. The money is about the same and there are gaps in the vintage kit I'd like to fill like a 22 or 24. I like those lengths on APS-C.

I almost had a client but lost her when I needed time to add up my rentals. If I had a solid number when she asked, I would have had a real chance at the gig. She could tell I didn't have the experience selling this and that lost all my credibility. Oh well. Now I know.

Brad Ferrell
11-05-2014, 05:30 PM
I'm beginning to see the learning curve on this dolly thing...

Brad Ferrell
11-05-2014, 07:55 PM
I used to have people tell me that I was smart, and I would test well on their exams but over the years now I'm come to see how truly inept at so many things now. It's almost as if something was lost with my sense of direction, something calculating. It's good to have that ticking gone now although it can be very useful when trying to get things done.

Brad Ferrell
11-06-2014, 11:26 AM

I'll only get smoother as time goes on. I love this little thing...

11-06-2014, 01:35 PM
Video no worky :(