Monday, December 13, 2010

How to Increase Canon 5D/7D Dynamic Range

Photographer and DSLR videographer Luka has shared this video on his Vimeo page that has some great tips for getting the most of your Canon DSLR footage. He specifically talks about the 7D but these concepts all apply just as well to the 5D Mark II. A very funny and informative tutorial!

How to increase the Canon 7D dynamic range (Tutorial) from Luka on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Get Free Help for Your Company or Project

So I get this one all the time - "Hey, do you have any students who can help me with _____?" Most of the time these inquiries are for short-term projects - "I need grips for the weekend," etc. Those are good experience-builders for the students, but what they really need is internship credit. All UAT students are required to complete an internship in order to graduate, and as you can imagine, sometimes it can be difficult to find viable DV-related internships.

So what is an internship, exactly? From the UAT Intranet:
Internships are considered a supervised, practical experience that is the application of previously learned theory. Employers/sponsors work with the students to meet specific objectives and/or learning goals and provide special mentoring or networking opportunities. In exchange, the intern helps the employer/sponsor in meeting overall work goals for the company. Sponsors are encouraged to use the intern in such a way that he/she can develop a broad understanding of their organization and the services they provide.
Essentially, what you as an employer get is a part-time employee who you pay in experience. What the student gets is their first real professional gig working in the field they are studying. It's win-win.

Internships last for 15 weeks (a UAT semester) and come in two varieties - the 3-credit internship, which amounts to 150 hours spread across the 15 weeks; and the 6-credit internship for a total of 300 hours. so you as an internship sponsor need to provide the student with enough work to fill either 10 hours per week or 20 hours per week for the whole semester.

So as you start planning your activities for 2011, think about providing a professional experience for a UAT Digital Video student. Need production help? Post-production? Editing? Animation? VFX? We have students that can help and can benefit from your experience and knowledge. Our next semester begins in January, so don't delay.

Request an Intern Here!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Video Production Intern at SheKnows LLC

Job Title: Production
Job Type: Internship - Unpaid
Full/Part Time: Part Time
Openings: 1
Salary: $-$ Hourly
Skills Required: PhotoShop, AfterEffects, Final Cut Pro, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word,

Duties Include
Assisting SheKnows TV video production team on studio shoots
Assisting SheKnows TV team during field shoots
Uploading video daily to server
Day-to-day administrative business and equipment maintenance
Assisting with the editing process, locating assets for Editor
Logging video footage and organizing stories

Skills Required
1 yr TV/Web/Design experience
Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing
Strong organizational skills
Passion for technology
Final Cut Pro, Microsoft Office and Excel preferred
Photoshop, After Effects, EMPS, and i-News a plus
Ability to adhere to tight deadlines
Willingness to have fun

Desired Education
Some college

How To Apply
Send a resume and cover letter to Lisa Acquafredda (

Employer Website: SheKnows LLC (

Posted: 11/23/2010 Expires: 12/23/2010

Location: Scottsdale, AZ

Video Production Internship at ASU's Decision Theater

Job Title: Digital Video
Job Type: Internship - Unpaid
Openings: 1
Skills Required: AfterEffects, Digital Video, Final Cut Pro,

The Decision Theater facilitates applied solutions for some of society's most significant challenges. Simulation, visualization, and collaborative decision making technologies are combined with science to addresses real regional issues, such as water management, land use, public health, and education by enabling individuals to see a 3D representation of the consequences of behavior, decisions, and policy in order to examine potential future scenarios. The theater consists of an interactive 3D immersive environment and cutting edge graphics technologies. The core component, nicknamed the Drum, is a 260-degree faceted screen with seven rear-projection HD projectors that display panoramic 2D computer graphics or 3D stereo computer generated content. The Drum accommodates up to 25 people and includes tools for collecting participant input and interaction.

Duties Include
Create, write, produce, script, shoot and edit productions as well as capture, log, store and convert content to multiple formats for digital distribution

Skills Required
Experience with advanced camera techniques, camera placement and movements, picture composition, advanced lighting techniques a plus
Some knowledge of Adobe After Effects and Final Cut Studio recommended
Must be familiar with non-linear editing software

Desired Education
Some College

How To Apply
Send a resume and cover letter to Dustin Hampton (

Employer Website: Decision Theater (

Posted: 11/18/2010 Expires: 12/18/2010

Location: Tempe, AZ

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fire Up Those iPods!

Here's a not-very-comprehensive list of some recommended podcasts for DV students. Fire up those iPods and get listening!

Creative Screenwriting Magazine
The Official Podcast of Creative Screenwriting Magazine

The Cutting Room
The Cutting Room is a show about interviewing other Film Editors, similar to Inside the Actors Studio except for editing.  Each show we interview a different editor to find out techniques, ideas and approaches to film editing and what advice they have for other Editors or those looking to become an editor.

The /Filmcast is the official podcast of In the /Filmcast, hardcore geeks/bloggers/journalists David Chen, Devindra Hardawar, and Adam Quigley debate, pontificate, and delve into the latest films, film news, television shows, and entertainment-related items from the past week. Weekly guests include everyday bloggers, webmaster luminaries, and movie stars from all walks of life. You can reach us at and find all our podcast episodes at

A weekly film show from Chicago featuring reviews, interviews, top 5 lists and more with Adam Kempenaar and Matty Robinson. Also heard on WBEZ/Chicago Public Radio.
fxguide covers the visual effects industry and software from a high-end professional vfx artists' perspective. Each week we speak with industry professionals about their craft.

KCRW's The Business
Hosted by Kim Masters, The Business looks deep inside the business of entertainment. A half-hour of thoughtful and irreverent dialogue with Hollywood's top deal-makers, filmmakers, moguls, artists and agents, The Business will clue you in on who's making pop culture pop and what's keeping Hollywood's Blackberries juicy.

Red Centre
Your guide to digital cinema, filmmaking and cutting edge imaging.

The VFX Show
Industry veterans discuss the latest in the world of visual effects.

Monday, November 15, 2010

UAT Student Team Wins First-Ever Valley Inter-College 48Hour Film Challenge

This past weekend Grand Canyon University hosted the first-ever Valley of the Sun Inter-College 48 Hour Film Challenge. Two teams from UAT (including a distance-student team based in Texas) competed head-to-head against three teams from GCU and the "Best Film" statuette was taken home by the UAT Digital Video team!

The parameters for the competition:

Genre - mystery
Prop - washing machine
Line - "All I know is, that doesn't go in there."
And we were also required to include a character - "Nardo, the professional marble player."

Here's our WINNING entry, "Nardo and the Sock of Destiny!"

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"The Commuter" - A Short Film Shot Entirely With Nokia N8 Smartphone

The Commuter is a nifty little action-packed film, directed by the McHenry brothers, and starring Dev Patel, Pamela Anderson, Charles Dance and Ed Westwick. Its distinguishing feature, however, is the fact that it was shot entirely with Nokia’s new flagship smartphone, the Nokia N8.

What do you think? Does this represent a sea-change in the way digital shorts will be created? Or just another phone company gimmick? Either way, this phone is coming to the U.S. very soon.

Also check out the Nokia N8 page on Vimeo and the Nokia N8 page on YouTube.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

48 Hour Inter-School Film Challenge

Professor Gregg Elder at Grand Canyon University's Film School (and also an adjunct professor at UAT) has launched an Inter-School 48 Hour Film Challenge November 13th through 15th. Teams from GCU, Scottsdale Community College, and ASU will be competing, and we need UAT to be represented!

If you're interested in being part of Team UAT in this first-ever Valley-wide film school cage match, email Professor Paul DeNigris at ASAP!

Build a Hackintosh

Want to edit in Final Cut Pro but don't want to pay Apple's prices for a new Mac? Well, here's what you've been waiting for -

"How to Build a Hackintosh"

Filmmaker and blogger "Koo" of the NoFilmSchool website has documented step-by-step instructions for anyone who wants to build their own Mac clone with better performance, for half the price!

Seems like a no-brainer for the average UAT student!

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Fallout" Garners Positive Review at International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival

Film reviewer Hal Astell of the "Apocalypse Later" film blog begins his review of UAT Digital Video's short film "Fallout" with these words:

Perhaps the most fascinating short film at this year's IHSFF from the perspective of a budding filmmaker...

A stellar start to a great review! Read it all on Hal's blog.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

DP Shane Hurlburt Explains His HDSLR Shooting Protocol

For all of you venturing into making films using the Canon 5D Mark II or 7D or similar HD-enabled DSLR cameras, this invaluable video comes courtesy of Director of Photography Shane Hurlburt (DP of Terminator Salvation among many other films).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Color Correction in Media Composer – The Complete Guide

Christian Forster over at the Avid Screencast has produced a great series of short videos about the entire color correction process in Avid Media Composer. Definitely worth a look for the intermediate to advanced Avid student!

Here's the first video, "Laying the Groundwork."

The rest of the topics can be found here.

Manipulating Contrast
Manipulating Color Balance with Curves
Manipulating Color Balance with Color Wheels
Matching Two Shots Part I
Matching Two Shots Part II
Vignettes and Wrap-Up
Secondary Color Correction with BCC and Spectramatte
Advanced Secondary Color Correction with Garbage Matte

You can also subscribe to the Avid Screencast in iTunes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Inspiration: Whatever Lola Wants

Here's a great example of visionary low-budget visual effects filmmaking - "Whatever Lola Wants" by Dan Blank.

Dan has also posted an excellent "Making of" video that examines his methodology for every shot.

Photographer / DP / filmmaker / blogger Vincent Laforet also uses Dan's work as an example to discuss the "production triangle" - best summed up with phrase "Fast. Cheap. Good. Pick two."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Fallout" at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival

We are ecstatic to announce that UAT Digital Video's sci-fi opus "Fallout" -after a full year in the making - is an Official Selection of the 2010 International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Tempe, Arizona!

The film screens twice as part of the "Sci-Fi Shorts A" program:

Friday, October 15th @ 8:15 pm
Buy tickets

Sunday, October 17th @ 1:50 pm
Buy tickets

Individual screenings cost $10, or you can purchase various levels of passes which get you into multiple events. (Buy passes here.)

This year's Festival promises to be an awesome one for genre fans, featuring a guest appearance by legendary actor Lance Henrikson, who will be presenting a screening of one of the most iconic films from his filmography, James Cameron's Aliens!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Volunteer for the Horror Sci-Fi Film Festival and Earn EXTRA CREDIT

If you're currently enrolled in a Digital Video course, don't miss this opportunity to earn EXTRA CREDIT. See your instructor for details.

Call for Festival Zombies!

The 2010 International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival is creeping up on us!  The festival takes place at the MADCAP Theatres (Formerly Harkins Centerpoint) from October 14th -- October 17th.  We can’t capture our audience without the help of our amazing Festival Zombies.  In exchange for a commitment of at least Sixteen (16) hours, Festival Zombies will receive a festival t-shirt and a full festival pass (excludes the opening night screening).  In addition to the various positions you can help out with during the festival, there will also be pre-festival volunteer opportunities.

We’re putting a shift schedule together now and will be starting our Festival Zombie Orientations soon.  Those of you who have volunteered with us before will not be required to attend an Orientation (Online Scheduling will be available), however if you will be transforming yourself into a Festival Zombie for the first time this year, you will need to attend an orientation.  The One (1) hour spent at orientation will be credited to your Festival Commitment.   

We've scheduled Two (2) Festival Zombie Orientations to go over the specifics and answer any questions you may have.  This is also an opportunity to sign up for the shifts you'd like to work.

Orientations last about an hour and will take place at the Phoenix Film Foundation offices located in the Metro Arts Institute, 1700 N. 7th Ave Suite 250. The building is on the NW corner of 7th Avenue and McDowell. 

The next orientation will be held on: October 9, 2010 at noon

Please email to reserve a space on the date you’d like to attend or if you have any questions.  For those of you who’ve already emailed to reserve a date, there’s no need to send another request.  We’ll see you at orientation.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fallout Descends on UAT

Story by Trevor Green

An image of a desecrated "Welcome to Phoenix" sign ushers viewers into the bleak, post-apocalyptic world of the movie Fallout. Shots of bombed-out buildings littering downtown Phoenix are awash in sandy orange hues. The jet wash from a military drop ship kicks up dust as weapon-carrying troops hit the ground feet-first. The ensuing events unravel a science-fiction tale rich with espionage, counterterrorism, action and deception.

University of Advancing Technology's Digital Video program utilized its strengths in post-production - editing, computer-generated visual effects, compositing - in making Fallout. The year-long project featured contributions from 31 students and staff to realize the cutting-edge vision, a promotional and educational vehicle for the DV major.

Fallout "The whole thing wasn't so much about the outcome as it was about the process. The outcome is great. What we've got to show for it is just tremendous. It's a tremendous achievement for the students that were involved, and it's a great piece for their portfolio," said Digital Video Professor and Fallout director Paul DeNigris.

Fallout is an Official Selection for the 2010 International Horror and Sci-Film Festival, taking place Oct. 14-18 in Tempe, Ariz.

Fallout 's Wild Cards

Fallout focuses on the investigation of a failed mission by Department of Homeland Security counterterrorism team, the Wild Cards, to stop a group of terrorists holding a suitcase nuclear device. All but one of the Wild Cards appear to die with the nuke's detonation. Military investigator Rawls (played by adjunct professor Steve Briscoe) examines for evidence of betrayal - via questioning and memory extraction - though has his own agenda regarding the Homeland Security department.

DeNigris wove the futuristic story from disparate television and movie sources: military and science-fiction nods to Stargate SG-1; the action and ulterior motives of 24; and minor influences like the colleague tension of The Wire (Rawls was named after a character on the show) and the technology of Minority Report.  He also infused the script with UAT culture - technology and concepts influenced by Leonardo da Vinci Society for the Study of Thinking recipient Dr. Michio Kaku, mystery solving inspired by tabletop games, and virtual reality sparked by the Game Design/Game Programming majors.

DeNigris wanted to have a top-notch team to bring the movie to life. After reevaluating the Digital Video program's focus on post-production, he wanted a project to show his students' talents. In summer 2009, he recruited undergrads from several majors that impressed him with their modeling, texturing, compositing, audio and visual effects work. He sprang the script on them and got an enthusiastic response, and the film took shape over the academic year.

Student Matt Buresh, Fallout assistant video editor/behind-the-scenes editor, came onboard after learning about and seeing the passion of everyone behind the film.

"I naturally wanted to be a part of this awesome project that Paul was presenting to his students. I always take full advantage of any project that Paul presents to his students because it's always nothing but hands on learning that you can really count on to get a well rounded education from," said Buresh.

Fallout The most notable evidence of the team's post-production prowess is the film's imagery. Almost every frame was filmed on the University's green-screen set. The Phoenix sign and city landscapes: digitally manipulated pictures. The drop ship: computer generated. The soldiers setting foot in Phoenix: DeNigris and three crew members in the campus parking lot, jumping off of an apple crate in boots while fans blew sand into the camera.

"It just didn't make sense to do it green screen," said DeNigris of the lone location shot.

The Green-Screen Dance

Filming almost entirely on a green-screen set introduced new challenges. The confines of the small space and blank background forced the actors and crew to plan performer interactions and movements, imagined environments, key lighting and continuous camera movement. For example, filming an over-the-shoulder shot involved switching around actors, lights and props.

"We end up doing this dance every time we do our turnarounds and basically spin the entire room around the camera, which is [the] total opposite of how you would do it on location," said DeNigris.

"We did eventually get over that hump, get over that learning curve and figure out how to be more efficient and really get into the groove of it, and by the end we were just rocketing through our shot list."

While the set's visual challenges could be manipulated, audio distractions could not. Imprecise acoustics and outside noise forced DeNigris to have actors rerecord nearly every line of dialogue. The compromise reshaped parts of the script and performances, and the clean audio was reworked to add reverb and equalization to simulate the movie's environments.

Compositors filled in the green blanks with computer-generated walls, object shadows, particle effects (like fire and glow examples) and motion tracking (ensuring the backgrounds move with the camera). DeNigris had a quality standard to ensure continuity through compositors' works - an assigned area one segment (fight, warehouse and interview scenes) for each artist. The goal was to make sure nothing looked out of place.

"There are some things you never realize are really critical to a movie until you don't have them there," said student Monica Thies.

Educating the Masses

DeNigris plans a multi-tiered approach to giving Fallout exposure. For theaters, the movie will be entered in various film festivals - local and specializing in visual effects, sci-fi and action movies. The movie's physical copy release (on DVD and Blu-ray) will include behind-the-scenes featurettes and options to watch the finished version, green-screen footage and back-to-back versions of both simultaneously.

DeNigris hopes that the labor, experience and spotlight give the cast, crew and DV program positive attention.

"It's designed to be a promotional tool for the DV program as well as an educational tool for future generations of DV students."

The finished movie impressed the creators with how far their vision was captured on film.
"Seeing the final version of it, I was really ecstatic. I couldn't sit still after watching it. It hit everything that we were expecting - plus some. The story sucks you in once you get into the visual effects," said student Mitchell Faherty. "That's what we were hoping for."

Thies was similarly enthusiastic.

"It's a really good project that took three and a half semesters but came out phenomenal for college students and their first time doing it."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last chance to participate in the Slamdance/Adobe Re-cut Competition

Film production students in higher education worldwide are invited to enter the First Annual Slamdance/Adobe Re-cut Competition for emerging editing talent. Entrants will have the opportunity to re-edit a scene from the indie classic MALL COP by Palm d'Or winning filmmaker and GREY'S ANATOMY editor David Greenspan.

Participants will re-cut a selected scene using Adobe Premiere® Pro CS5 trial software. All submissions will receive education copies of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, so everybody wins! Three talented finalists will be rewarded with their own Adobe CS5 Production Premium education software and the Grand Prize winner will also earn round-trip transportation and four days of accommodations to attend the 2011 Slamdance to experience seeing their winning work screened at the Festival. Registrations to participate now open through Oct. 1, 2010. Final submissions must to be received by Slamdance by Oct. 31, 2010.

 Register Now!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Call for Entries: 2010 Fall Showcase

Faculty, staff, students and alumni: it's time to submit your amazing creations, SIP projects, software and other innovations for the 2010 Fall Showcase.

Show off your talents in any area, such as: fabrication, painting, drawing, game design, software engineering, design documents, SIP posters, network security, graphic design/digital photography, robotics, embedded systems technology, traditional photography or digital video/animation. Check the submission form for further considerations.

All work must be submitted by Oct. 1.

(Download Fall 2010 Showcase editable PDF entry form)


Images must be a minimum of 200dpi at 8"x10". Title your entry with your name and entry title. (EX: JohnSmith_SummerSky.jpg)

Videos must be H.264 compression codec, AVI or Quicktime.  Also if it is widescreen please make sure to export it as such. Same naming convention applies. (EX:

SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY using one of three methods:

1) VISIT THE SHOWCASE HELP DESK outside of the theater Wednesdays immediately after Student Government Sept.8- 29.

Download and fill out editable submission form (link above). Email form and entry to:

Download and fill out editable submission form (link above). Send your entry and form to:
The University of Advancing Technology
ATTN: Lane Joplin
2625 W. Baseline Rd.
Tempe, AZ 85283

Monday, September 20, 2010

Alumni Perspective: The Job Market

by Evan Sprague

My being on the cusp of twenty-five makes me “sage old” about as much as almost making minimum wage makes one rich. I don’t profess to have copious amounts of life experience, and I have yet to finish my first lap around the proverbial “block”. That said, I have traversed grades K-12 and weathered the squall of the ferocious undergraduate program. When a budding young teenager is preparing their triumphant foyer into the collegiate realm, I am a Jedi Master (especially considering the journey I took to finally reach my BA).

I know a certain teenager at the point in her life that we all dread; a senior in high school trying to figure out what exactly she wants to do with her future. It can be a daunting task, especially with all the adult figures in your life telling you that the choices you make now will forever seal the inevitable fate of your remaining years on this earth, as if life is the ancient temple in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark and a single bad step can bestow a murderous onslaught of pain and turmoil upon you.

I asked said young person what she wanted to do. She’s not quite sure, but has taken an interest in photography as a creative hobby. Of course I made the humble suggestion of pursuing it as both a major and a career. Her response was straight from the horse’s mouth, like she was quoting from a stock article in the NY Times. She said - and I quote - “Video is a fluctuating job market.”

Wow. You don’t say…

What I’m about to say isn’t necessarily directed at this person, so if you’re reading this - and you know who you are - I know you’ll make the right decisions for you. My point in this post isn’t that this girl should go into photography; I’m not the boss of her life and I don’t claim to always know what’s best for her. However, the comment that she made got me thinking about a more general concept.

This really struck a chord with me. When you’re 17 you’re supposed to have limitless inspiration and imagination. You’re supposed to be brimming with spirit, life, and creativity. You’re supposed to be an allegory for hope and innocence. One thing you’re not supposed to be is tossing your passions and dreams to the wayside because of the “fluctuating job market”. That phrase should not exist in your vernacular.

That said, it does. And this teenager is one of many out there right now who are repeating that same thing to themselves, dodging a shot at greatness to ensure that the paychecks come rolling in steadily. Even many college students in creative programs are switching majors, sometimes even entire universities to pursue a field that yields higher financial promise – all in a blind panic and fear that in ten years they’ll be in a dusty shack with no power or water, sucking beans out of a can.

Our society is dumbing itself down in the hopes of economic reconciliation. Parents are telling their children to search for jobs in high demand, forgetting that creativity and imagination are what breathe life into a dying job market.

I say to hell with what’s in high demand. I say to hell with what’s stable or financially secure. It’s important to find something you’re truly passionate about, research it’s job market and demographic, practice at it until you’re awesome, then make it so.

The biggest problem with our economy is that everything is becoming solely about money. Money is good, it pays our bills, but not at the cost of our humanity. Businesses in the 1800’s were more typically owned and operated by the craftsmen himself. He did the work, he used his skills to put food on his table and a roof over his head, and it didn’t matter if it was painting or making shoes. Then entrepreneurs came along and figured out methods of pushing out as much product as possible and removing the passion and craftsmanship from the business.

Our economy was thriving much more when people were doing things themselves instead of dropping pistons onto engines moving down the assembly line.

Take, for example, a person who aspires to become a musician. If you want a fluctuating job market, professional musician is about as a fluctuating as it gets. If you want it bad enough you might practice your instrument constantly, network, and look at a marketable means of getting your foot in the door. Maybe you can’t pay your bills by straight up playing your music, but what if you got your degree in sound engineering and worked in a recording studio? You’d be close to musicians, you’d get to network, and you might even pull down a decent salary. And who knows, maybe you can get into a band and moonlight playing gigs at jazz or rock clubs. Doesn’t that sound like a more attractive job than simply giving up and getting your degree in accounting or business?

An experienced and talented writer/actor in Phoenix once told me to wake up every morning and make a list of the five things you want most in life. Constantly repeating these things to yourself will breed motivation, discourage stagnation, and the universe will eventually align itself to provide. There’s a job out there for everyone and everything, you just have to find it. That’s one of the trials of life. No job is in such high demand that you can get your bachelor’s in it, march down to the nearest office and hop into a cubical without so much as an application; especially not in this economy. Every job takes work, every job takes countless hours on the phone or on the internet, submitting resumes and applications, weathering interviews (if you’re lucky enough to get that far), and writing cover letters. You’re more likely to excel in something that you’re in love with as opposed to the semi-decent-paying field you got into because it was a stable job market.

Life is about taking risks, and most of the time you’ll come out on top. There are twenty-four hours in a day. If you wake up at 7:00 AM every morning and go to bed at 11:00 PM, you’re waking life has only sixteen-hour days. Your job will work you eight hours a day, plus an hour lunch break, so you’re gone for nine hours a day, leaving only seven hours each day at maximum that you’ll be able to do anything not work related. Other than sleep, we spend more than half our lives at work. And that’s just factoring a standard 9-5 job; most jobs that pay a decent salary require you to put in ten or eleven hours a day, some even more. It’s critical that we spend this precious time doing something we’re passionate about.

I guess what I’m trying to say with all this is do what you love, and encourage your children to do what they love. Accept nothing less, and you’ll receive nothing less. When we get to the end of our lives, the accomplishments that we leave in our wake will be the only tangible things we’ll have to show for ourselves. An economy with no passion will surely wither and die, and no accounting or business job is going to save anyone.

Friday, September 17, 2010

You've Graduated. Now What?

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Seneca, Roman philosopher, mid-1st century A.D.
You've just spent 3 years or so getting your degree. If you're a regular reader of this, that degree is probably in Digital Video and you've been forged in the crucible of one or more projects under my supervision. You know your stuff now. You really know it. You are prepared.

So now what?

Some of you will wait for opportunity to come knocking. Some of you will settle into life here in Arizona, or maybe back in your home town. You'll wonder why you're not working in this field that you love. You might even become bitter that your degree hasn't done more for you, that UAT hasn't done more for you, that I haven't done more for you. And unfortunately you might get stuck in that mode of thinking and if you do, you can rest assured that the elusive opportunity you seek will most certainly pass by your door without knocking.

But some of you - far too few in my humble opinion - will chase the dream and do whatever it takes to grab opportunity by the shirt collars and get its attention any way you can. You'll move to Los Angeles, or New York, or Austin, and you'll slowly but surely make it happen. You'll work for the Discovery Channel or on big-budget films like Avatar or maybe you'll rub elbows with one of our icons Robert Rodriguez. You might even stay here in the Valley and find a way to make a name for yourself here.

So what's the difference between these two groups of alumni? Well, the second group, the one chasing the opportunities - they make their own luck. They know that it's not enough to simply prepare. They know you have to chase it. You have to want it. And you have to be willing to go outside of your comfort zone and take a risk.

This week, one of my recent grads went through a mini-crisis that is both the reason for this blog entry and the proof of what I'm talking about. This grad went out to L.A. for a few days to hang with some of the other UATDV alumni who have landed out there, and he got a dose of how tough this business can be. The guys he spoke with out there - well, they're all looking for work right now. That's how it is sometimes. One day you're working on Avatar, the next you're "between gigs." It's rough, and it's not for the easily discouraged. Add to that the fact that this particular grad - whose demo reel is stellar (see below) - was being told by studios that he'd need four years of professional experience before they'd even consider him. All in all he came back from L.A. feeling very discouraged.

But did that stop him? No. He sat down with the Arizona Production Association guide and started researching postproduction houses here in the Valley. Turned out one of them had an opening for a freelancer with just this grad's skill set, starting immediately. On Monday was feeling like he'd had the wind knocked right out of his sails; but on Wednesday he started his first day working for a high-end post house on a project for a national client. Why? Is it because he's just lucky?

I say yes, he's lucky. Because he's done the preparation for the last three years and now he's actively pursuing the opportunities. He's not letting the business and its fickle ways get him down or stop him from making it happen. So let this be a lesson to all of you who are still waiting for opportunity to knock: You either make your own luck in this life, or you don't. It's all in your hands. Go after those opportunities. Chase 'em. Because they aren't going to chase you.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” - Thomas Alva Edison, American inventor of the motion picture

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

DV Student Blog: The Importance of Coiling Cable

by Monica Thies

I never truly realized the importance of coiling cable and how vital of a skill it is in the video production world…until I was stuck being the sole person coiling a 400 foot cable on a baking hot football field wearing a sweatshirt. The reason for coiling the cable isn’t to clean up, it’s because the person who last coiled the cable did not coil the cable properly, and therefore the coil has to be completely redone in order to have the production go smoothly.

I consider myself lucky to a degree, because this is a skill my dad has drilled into my head since I was about eight years old helping him on the boat, and I tried doing the “wrap around the elbow” technique with a boat rope….didn’t fly with dad. Ended up learning how to coil rope, which then translated into coiling cable.  This skill may seem so minor when you learn it in highs school production class or your first cable experience in Production 101 in college, where 30 ft XLR cables seem annoying to coil that way, and wrapping around the elbow when the teacher isn’t looking just gets it done faster.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way everywhere in life.

I had the privilege this summer to be able to help out on the broadcasts by Seattle Seahawks Sounders FC and the men (and a few women) who freelance and come in as day crews to make the show happen. It requires about a 12 hour day, mostly on foot and about 6 hours of that alone is setting up and “faxing” (testing) the equipment and the connections between an 18 wheeler mobile broadcasting unit and the rest of the stadium (around 15 different cameras…depending on soccer or football). Football is a lot crazier to broadcast than Soccer, but both require a large amount of set up and work. The question that has stuck in my head through all of these, and the question I was asked the most frequently of any other question was “Do you know how to coil cable properly?”. If you answer this question with a no…the person who asked is going to either raise an eyebrow at you in a “what are you doing on a production team” way, or they may be nice enough to show you how to do it quickly. 

Not coiling a cable properly can affect not just the production that you’re working on but the production after that, and the one after that. When that 400 foot cable is hooked up to a parabolic mic dish that is running up and down the sideline half the game, and it gets tangled, or that 400 ft cable is attached to the camera on a fast moving dolly on the sideline of a football game on national television and it can’t uncoil properly, it could cause an issue for the dolly  or easily cause the cable to yank out of the camera, and there goes the entire production because that one camera is the backbone of the broadcast.

So learn to coil cable, and always practice doing it correctly, because anywhere that an entry level position is in production, expect to be coiling cable, lots of it, and if its done incorrectly, it is something that seems so minor, but is major enough to damage a reputation. Over, under, over under, straighten the loops sometimes to make sure they’re all organized, take the time to make sure there are no kinks. Like just about anything else in life, the more you do it, the better you will be at it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

DV Internship: HotSeat Media

This internship opportunity just came over from UAT's Industry and Career Services folks:

Hey there video lovers.  HotSeat Media here -

We are a local media production company and we are looking for a video editing intern to fill an 80 hour internship position available.

We have agreements with most of the local colleges around the Phoenix area for just this purpose. Do you go to UAT, SCC, ASU, or Collins College....among others and would you like to get credit for being in our office?

Its a fun and creative environment just perfect for the media/video industry lovers.  We can coordinate with your school easily so, send over those resumes.

Check out our website for information about our company!

Here is a link to our buzz reel:

Fluent in Final Cut Pro or Adobe After Effects.  Video editing experience and passion is a must.

Knowledgeable of Adobe CS products is a huge plus!

This could also lead to further opportunities with HotSeat Media - we would love to see what you are made of.

If you are interested email:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

UAT Digital Video alum conquers the "Bad Universe"

Beginning this Sunday, August 29th, the visual effects work of UAT Digital Video graduate Adam Benson will begin appearing on the Discovery Channel as part of their new series "Phil Plait's Bad Universe." Adam has been working as the CG Animation and Layout Supervisor, and as one of the lead artists on the visual effects team for the show. Check out the sneak peek trailer on YouTube!

From Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog:

"This first episode is about saving the world from asteroid impacts. In most science TV shows on this topic they’re heavy on the death and destruction, but pretty light on what we can actually do about them."
Sounds like lots of great opportunities for Adam to exercise his serious VFX skills! Check out the website for Adam's company Sleep Deprived Productions for more information on him and his myriad projects.

And don't forget to watch "Bad Universe" this weekend!

Monday, July 26, 2010

48 Hour Film: Extraordinary Colleagues

Here's our entry into this Summer's Phoenix Film Foundation 48 Hour Film Challenge. It won 3 awards - Best Director, Best Overall Technical Elements, and 2nd Place Film!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Short “Extraordinary Colleagues” Premieres Friday at Phoenix Art Museum

On Friday July 23rd at the Phoenix Art Museum, IFP/Phoenix will be hosting two screenings of films entered into this summer’s “Beat the Clock” 48 Hour Film Challenge - including an entry produced by the UAT Digital Video Program titled “Extraordinary Colleagues.” Written by Paul DeNigris and Steve Briscoe, the 3-minute film took the required prop - a paintbrush - as a jumping off point to tell the romantic comedy story of a comic book writer and her editor, while also telling a parallel action tale within the Sin City-esque world of the comic book they produce together.

The film will screen twice, once during the 6pm show and again during the 8pm show. The “Beat the Clock” Awards will follow at 10pm. More details can be found on IFP/Phoenix’s website. Tickets for the screenings are $15 each.

“Extraordinary Colleagues” was a co-production between the UATDV crew and Locked Horns Productions. Students Nick Wassenberg, Justin Gagen, and Mitch Faherty handled visual effects with some assistance from alumni Kalki Khaira and Ryan Whitten. Alum Ryan Luibrand handled editing duties. Students Kenny Rayl, Shawn Geary, Erica Faccone, and Kari McBride handled physical production, lead by DP Justin Gagen and directed by Professor DeNigris.

"Extraordinary Colleagues" mark's UATDV's first production using our brand new Canon 5D Mark II DSLR. Visual effects were executed in Adobe After Effects, with the comic book panels processed in Photoshop. Editing was completed in Avid Media Composer, with sound mixing and sweetening done in ProTools.

Friday, July 16, 2010

DV Internship: VFX Artist for "Mantecoza"

Job ID: 2015
Job Title: Video FX Artist
Job Type: Internship - Unpaid
Full/Part Time: Part Time
Openings: 1
Skills Required: AfterEffects, 3D Studio Max, Maya, PhotoShop,
Description: Visual Effects Specialist

Open work schedule. Required to be on set for FX shot composition on weekends of August, September, and October.

Duties Include
  • Compositing backgrounds, small particle effects, & titles.
  • Design a few steam punk airships and bring them to life in 3D.
  • Participate on set during effects days to learn about the shots and help in compositing ideas.

Skills Required
  • After Effects
  • Photoshop
  • 3D Studio Max & Maya
  • Illustrator is a plus

Desired Education
  • Some College

How To Apply
Send a resume, cover letter, and portfolio to Chantal Legendre

Employer Website: Mantecoza

Posted: 07/15/10 Expire:08/15/10

Thursday, July 15, 2010

DV Internship: Gold Medal Swim School

Job ID: 2012

Job Title: Digital Video

Job Type: Internship - Unpaid

Full/Part Time: Part Time

Openings: 1

Skills Required: Digital Media, Digital Video, FileMaker Pro, Final Cut Pro,

Description: Digital Video Intern

Gold Medal Swim School Video Intern. We are interested in an intern with excellent videography skills as well as people and communication skills. The project is unique in the environment and scope. We would like to create a DVD version of our Instructor Manual at the swim school. The project would take 3-6 months depending on the interest a candidate would have in several other small projects.

Duties Include
  • Create 8 disc training DVDs.
  • Film training classes.
  • Edit footage.
  • Create special features and introduction to the DVD.
  • Create an in-house slide show with staff biographies and customer information.
Skills Required
  • Digital video fundamentals.
  • Knowledge of DV editing programs.
  • Ability to meet deadlines and produce quality work.
Desired Education
  • Some College
How To Apply

Send a resume and cover letter to Elaine Anawalt

Check out their site: Gold Medal Swim School

Posted on: 7/8/10 Deadline: 8/8/10

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New DV Jobs from Around the Web

Motion Graphics Artist
Phenomenon Post - Pittsburgh, PA
See original job posting at »
Pittsburgh based Post Production/Motion Design house seeks experienced After Effects/Motion Graphics Artist for immediate temporary F/T position thru November 2010. Willing to discuss temporary local accommodation costs. Broadcast commercial experience and strong design skills a must. Editing skills a plus. We are running with the most recent versions of Adobe Creative Suite (CS5) Avid Media Composer (V5) and Avid DS Nitris (V10) platforms. Must be a hard working creative and proactive ... 

Visual Effects Artist/Editor
web-based production company - Manhattan, NY
See original job posting at »
We are looking for a hard-working, self-starter to join our web-based post production team. This individual must be a detail-oriented visual effects artist who can think quickly in a fast-paced environment. In addition to being the VFX guru on the team, we are also looking for someone who has solid editing experience. You will be working very closely with the other members of the post production team, as well as with directors and producers, so you must be a team player with an easy-going ... 

Video Production Specialist
American College of Cardiology - Washington, DC
See original job posting at »
Work as coordinator for busy in-house video production department. Assist in the day-to-day trafficking of video projects from concept to completion...MAJOR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES...Assist in all aspects of video production as a crew member for in-studio and on location captures;...Assist in post-production as a team member, assistant editor, or editor on assigned projects;...Organize and maintain digital assets via video production storage system;...Be responsible for ...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ridley Scott Wants Your YouTube Videos

Filmmakers Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Blade Runner) and Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) are launching an experiment in "user-generated filmmaking" - a joint venture with YouTube called "Life in a Day."

To participate in “Life in a Day,” people must film a snippet of their daily routine - 10 minutes max - on July 24. Video uploaded onto a special YouTube channel ( will be scrutinized by a team of editors. Macdonald, serving as director, and Scott, in a producer role, will bring selected clips together into a feature-length documentary of a single day on planet Earth.

Individuals whose video makes it into the finished film will be credited as co-directors. The top 20 contributors will be flown to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, where the film will premiere out of competition.

More on this story can  be found in the New York Times' "Media Decoder" section.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Register now for the IFP/Phoenix 48 Hour Film Challenge

IFP/Phoenix will be holding its annual Summer 48 Hour Film Challenge July 16 to July 18.

At the July 16th, kick-off, teams will be given a genre, a line of dialogue to be used in the film and a prop to be used in the film. They will then have 48 Hours to make their 3 minute film.

Registrations are being accepted now on a first come, first serve basis. Once all 35 slots are filled, no more registrations will be accepted.

Teams will be competing for a prize of $250 and a shot at the finals in April where a prize of $1,000 will be given out.

If you're up for the challenge, register your team today!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tutorial: Animating a Still

Andrew Kramer over at Video Copilot has posted a new tutorial "Animating a Still."
In this tutorial inject life into a still image by creating a 3d-looking camera movement and animate the movement of the smoke. We will also add realistic camera jitter and simulate a rack focus with dirt on the lens.
Watch it on the Video Copilot website.

Monday, May 24, 2010

UAT Alum Produces Saftey Film in Qatar

2004 grad William McLeod's company Creative Design has produced a comedic safety training video for a huge aluminum smelting project in Qatar, where his company is based.
“We approached the problem of communicating to a large and diverse audience, many of whom are non-native English speakers, by suggesting a comedy script that identifies the very serious hazards, makes them memorable by making people laugh, and then capping each major section of the film with a formal review of the takeaways to drive home the message”, remarks William R. McLeod, Head of Operations for Creative Design.
Read the rest of the article here on the Qatar Projects website.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

UAT Alum Wins in Wales!

UAT alum Jenny Pond (pictured, left) has taken home the award for "Best Environment & Ecology Film - International" for her documentary Poison Wind at the 2010 Swansea Bay Film Festival in Wales, UK. Swansea Bay is one of many stops on the festival circuit for this film, which premiered at the 2008 San Antonio CineFestival and has been screened at environmental and indigenous peoples events in our nation's capital and around the world.
"POISON WIND tells the story of a corrupt government, unconscionable greed and a policy of destruction aimed at the Aboriginal Homelands of Indigenous People and former uranium miners from the 1940's until today. It is a documentary which focuses on the lives being destroyed by the deadly legacy of uranium mining and effects of a government’s cruel secret is carried on the face of the wind."
This is a project which has been well-supported by the UAT community and has involved the participation of faculty, students, and alumni alike. UAT Digital Video is proud to share some small part Jenny's success - but without her drive and enthusiasm for the project, none of it would have been possible. Congratulations, Jenny! We are all so proud of you and your film!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

DV Student Blog: Notes from NAB, Day 2

by Monica Thies

Day 2 at NAB… focus on Post Production...

My dad and I typically stick together at this since he knows so many people and can introduce me (we all know its “who you know” a lot of times…foot in the door..that whole deal). Also, I know that it helps my professionalism level, since everyone knows I look about 16, and when wandering around at a conference this large, I look about 12 (starry eyed and all with the exhibits). Well this morning he had two meetings to attend, and no thank you to sitting in on those, they are about frequency and blah blah blah…snoooore. (Even dad gets bored at them).

So I decided that while he was away for a few hours I would “hang out” where I’m most comfortable, in the Post Production area (South Hall in case you ever attend). Walking into the Avid booth (where better to start than with our favorite editing software…ha.) they have a Pro Tools DX presentation in progress, the second part of the editing audio/video presentation to show how to effectively utilize the software. Something to always remember if attending a conference is that although they enjoy educating users, most of it is still about marketing their products and showing off what it can do, meaning there are often things they could be leaving out. Such as, leaning into a “mini” presentation given specifically at the “Avid Media Composer” section of the booth, I caught that Avid Media Composer 5 (Nitris DX) is NOT releasing initially in 64-bit version and will release later instead, 3-5 months later. (Big issue for me since the CS5 suite is releasing 64 bit native…) But anyways, at the editing video/audio presentation I walked into, they were using the Pro Tools program to recreate the sound effects from 2012. The Pro Tools was using the Video Satellite integration, meaning you can watch the video as you are doing the sound effects and audio editing. The sound board was the largest sound board I have ever seen, and it has four monitors. The digiboard had to be around my arm span (so 5 feet?) in width. The Avid MC5 integration was beautiful, you could see the timeline through the Video Satellite (and dear gods was that a complex timeline for that movie) and all the video as well as the timeline in Pro Tools with all its editing capabilities for sound.

One of the newest features Avid is priding itself on is at release of Media Composer 5, it will be supporting native RED camera and native QuickTime. (RED camera resolution is incredible by the way… never really noticed until it was on a beautiful LED display). Avid also was demoing Avid DS, the Avid equivalent to After Effects or Combustion/Smoke. As a compositor, I was not a fan of the interface on the program. Like all other Avid products, the interface is more complex and less convenient looking. The work flow view was not easy to follow and I would not instantly recommend this software based on what I saw during a quick demonstration.

Avid had a newer piece of software that I had not seen yet, called Avid Interplay. It is an engine that all clips can be logged, labeled, organized and I’m sure other things that weren’t covered during the “Managing Assets” presentation. As the presenter said, “the main editor doesn’t have the time to log clips and label them” and this way the “assistant editor can log and label clips without having to open Avid Media Composer.” It enables two editors to simultaneously be working and the one working in MC5 has to click “Update bin from Interplay” and the bin is updated based on the work the second editor could have been doing “merely seconds before.” (She was very eloquent with her words). Interplay allows for clips to be automatically sorted based on time code, camera or a few other preset options. Interplay also allows for inter-computer usage and allows for customizable folders, for example, if clips need to be approved before they can be exported, then a “needs approval” folder can be setup and the clip can be highlighted and a drop down changed to “approved” or “denied.” Interplay allows for the clips and media to be exported out of MC5 without actually using MC5, this is helpful for quick exports and reduces the amount of time needed to load software just to do one simple task. Avid MC5 can also be set up for “multi-camera editing” in the source monitor, with a green line around the one which is actively being used in the timeline. The Metadata tools in the MC5 software are the best in the industry, especially for multi-camera editing, and it is easy to see why, since the bins can be organized based on camera groupings. With the multi-camera editing, an editor can easily select a clip, right click, and select a different camera view from the same grouping, just separate angle if needed without having to drop in a separate clip. The clip locator allows you to find the clip within two mouse clicks and find the original bin, and all connected metadata associated with the clip. Very useful when we begin doing multi camera shoots for our program.

Asset management seemed to be the hot topic of post production of NAB this year, as I heard CNN giving an Adobe CS5 presentation about it, then continued on to Autodesk just in time to catch two of the visual effects supervisors from Avatar (Lightstorm Entertainment, Daniel Neufeldt and Nolan Multha) present about their asset management. I was super excited and completely in shock. It was one of those just stop what I was doing (pretty sure I even almost dropped my phone) and just listen and absorb information (I wish I was better at auditory learning….) They were midway through their presentation but I showed up for the best part. Just in time to hear them say Avatar used around 16,000 processors for rendering. Each FRAME took 60-70 hours (because of R/L eye for stereoscopic 3D), totaling to over 100 million hours of rendering. In total, it was around 2 ½ years of just rendering the movie. Keeping track of each and every plant, leaf of that plant, and every root that was part of that leaf was the hardest part. Hundreds and hundreds of low-res proxies were done as the movie was being filmed so James Cameron could use his “virtual camera.” Avid WAS used to edit Avatar, just in case anyone had any questions still about it really being the industry standard software.

And the best part yet??? They showed us the bonus features from the DVD early. Yeah, I know, it comes out in the next few days, but that still gives me the chance to blog about it real fast before it does release. James Cameron’s opening line of “this is not an animated movie” sort of made me perk up instantly, since, yes I knew it wasn’t animated, but that he was going to show us why it wasn’t and can never be considered that. The actors and actresses had to do EVERYTHING their characters did, so those way badass jumps the Nav'i would do onto their animals, from branches to branches, all of it, was them actually acting. James Cameron had hundreds of extra cameras set up around set just to capture the body movement on the actors to recreate it perfectly. To create the avatars the actors and actresses had to sit in a sphere of lights and have hundreds of pictures taken of their face from every angle possible so that the avatars really were individual to each person. On top of that, while filming, any close up shots would also include a mini camera on a boom attached to a helmet, but the camera was angled at the face, so there were mega-close ups of the facial reactions, once again, for animators to recreate each eye twitch, each slight eye narrowing that the actors did naturally while acting. The set? Except for props, it was pretty much the equivalent of a giant warehouse. The Avatar Mo-cap suits had the hair and ears, most likely for placement, and often times the actors/actresses had to put tiny green dots over their face and lips (I’m guessing for tracking purposes). James Cameron showed us his virtual camera and how he could hold up the camera to any actor on the “set” and be able to see that actor’s avatar and the environment they were in instead of seeing them sitting on a warehouse. All animations and tracking were done in Maya.

Be prepared to watch the Avatar special effects the minute you get the DVD, it truly is amazing what visual effects work was accomplished for this movie. And the best part? It was all done about five years ago, then they had to render.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

DV Student Blog: Notes from NAB, Day 1

by Monica Thies

Ahh…NAB Show Day #1…so much to talk about…

First, NAB stands for National Association of Broadcasters, the “show” part meaning it is the largest convention the association puts on and includes every gadget, gizmo, software, hardware, bells and whistles ever needed for radio or television production in any phase. Although typically marketed towards news and broadcasting, a lot of the technology seen is intuition to where film is taking us as a society and how we’re getting there. This is my third year at this show, and by now I have established “regular stops.” Today was my day out on the floor, and I managed to hit up “The Big A’s” (Adobe, Autodesk and Avid) along with the ever-favorite Sony, Panasonic and Canon. I’ll discuss a little bit about what is going on with each of these further along in this post. Reading carefully “between the lines” of the broadcast market, the other software and hardware that is more commonly used at our school can be seen.

Each year, there is always a “big push” or “fad” that every vendor, every company and every person through the company is promoting so heavily its beyond obvious. Last year was High Def and the big switch over to HD alongside with the beginnings of 3D technology. This year, I walked into the convention center and the first thing I see is the giant Evertz booth (a broadcasting company that does mostly routing and audio for news broadcasting) with the slogan of “Real 3D solutions.” 3D is the "it" thing this year. The booth next to it, Miranda (similar to Evertz) was heavily pushing 3D as well, and how they are developing a way to have a “stereoscopic signal” in order to broadcast 3D (hmm... 3D news soon?) Both Evertz and Miranda had 3D cameras on display, a rig created out of two different cameras one horizontal in the normal position, the other, vertical pointing downwards, perpendicular with the first camera, wired together, one big lens added on and thrown on a tripod. I found this absolutely fascinating until I wandered (with Paul’s advice) over towards the Panasonic booth (shall I say area? They took up a lot of space).

At the Panasonic area, they had not just a stereoscopic 3D camera, but it was a twin lens 3D camera to create real 3D without needing to point one camera down and one camera in a normal direction. It was a 3D camera that was about as portable as the cameras at school. This was the Panasonic AG-3DA1 camera. The 3D coming out of the camera was phenomenal. It will be the camera that pushes us into the pro-sumer level of 3D movies.

Over at Canon, they had an interesting new handheld camera at a pro-sumer level. Smaller than our resident XL-H1’s and XL-2 camera’s but just as powerful, if not more powerful. It is the Canon XF-305. It is a “better than HD” resolution camera with compact flash storage. It can hold multiple CF cards, and when one is full, will flip seamlessly to the other CF storage card without skipping a frame (very convenient for those long shoots). My favorite part was the LCD viewing screen onboard the camera, it was flipped inside the handle for portability, and had wonderful resolution, as well as being able to flip out on both the left and right side of the camera.

We practically ran into Sony, in fact, you couldn’t miss it. Sony takes up its own region in the conference central hall (by the way, Vegas has one of the biggest conference centers in the nation, so taking up its own region is pretty big) Sony was a complete playground. With a good half of it devoted to awing people with a massive, absolutely massive, 3D LED TV. No surprise that they had a 3D LED TV, but I will say this for it, it is incredible. They played pieces of a football game, and it was the same as standing on the field next to my dad at a Seahawks game. It was exactly like being right there. They played an underwater in Hawaii series of clips, it was just like diving off the beach of Maui all over again. The glasses we were given to use were the basic Real 3D glasses, and I decided they are not that bulky at all. Rather they are light weight and do not affect your vision when not looking at a 3D screen. If I have to walk around in glasses like that for the rest of my life in order to continually watch football as though I’m standing on the sideline, it may be worth the fashion no-no.

While over at the Sony booth (playground) there was a 3D truck, a mobile broadcasting truck to be able to broadcast in 3D, didn’t make it in though, there was a long line of men from Japan anxious to see. Of course, there was the Sony Vegas area (skipped that, not worth my time) and the camera booths showing the camera quality. There were two 3D cameras that Sony was promoting, neither a twin lens one such as the Panasonic camera. This I was surprised about. I would think that a company who is so heavily promoting their new 3D LED television would have a camera that is as high tech as the television itself. Not that having two cameras perpendicular isn’t high tech, obviously more than I came up with, just surprised they did not have the twin lens camera at least in development as competitor Panasonic does.

Sony had multiple designs of their display monitors up. It amazes me how cheap LCD monitors now are; yet our school still relies on CRT monitors. The LCD ones are nice and lightweight, and even relatively low cost now. The LCD monitors can show us more clarity when shooting HD video. It is also interesting to me how analog anything is practically illegal to mention at NAB, everything is digital. Even broadcasting frequency spectrum has gone 100% digital and the numbers lowered to adapt to our Digital Age.

And finally…the Triple A’s. The big dogs of what we do in our Digital Video Program at school. The guru’s who make the software so we can make it happen. The…okay enough raging about how “A”-mazing (ha.ha.ha …not.) are. Let us start with Avid. Avid is up to Media Composer 5, I did not, however, manage to make it to a presentation today on the Avid editing software, though did see the interface being quite pretty. They have released new Mojo boxes and Digiboards to run with the Media Composer Software (all locked up in a nice case so I couldn’t examine either). The entire series is referred to as “Avid Nitrix DX” I will be curious to see tomorrow what has changed about it all. I can already guess it is a 64 bit native software and pro tools has seamless integration (make a change in Pro Tools, makes the change in Avid without extra hoops to jump through).

Autodesk. Surprisingly, they were not focusing on just Lustre (color correction) as normal. They were focusing on the usability and how to use, Smoke (Autodesk’s version of After Effects…the new Combustion). On a Mac. Very specifically. On a Mac. My favorite feature after watching part of a demonstration on Smoke was the flow chart organization. It is similar to the old Combustion flowchart setup, but I feel as though this one was easier to understand than when I learned Combustion. The keying features were nice, but then again they had a lot of the effects preset so he could easily demonstrate what the software can do. (Of course maybe they come preset in the software too…)

The other demonstration going on at the time was about 3DS Max 2011. Now I’m not a big 3DS Max user, in fact I have used it very minimally and not to much success. The feature he was really showing off though was the ability to texture right within Max, and how you could begin a texture wrap in Max, export and link the file to Photoshop, continue it in Photoshop and it would make the change right there in the Max texture wrap as well, and instantly apply it to the model. (Just a side note to everyone, ALL and I mean ALL design users, from Autodesk and Adobe were using tablets only, nothing else. They were incredible with the tablets too, and when asked one said he is “faster with a tablet than with a mouse and keyboard anyways”).

Annnnd finally…Adobe. With the release of their Creative Suite 5 today, (and if you bought it on the floor today you were eligible to win an Nvidia Quadro FX 4800 and a free gift with purchase…OoOo). The CS5 Suite is native 64 bit design. This is supposedly one of the biggest changes made to the software. Adobe claims that this will make “HD just as fast as SD”. Adobe has made collaborating between multiple software’s easier. Not just between Adobe software’s (that was always easy) but collaborating footage and images between Avid, Final Cut Pro and of course, Premier Pro. Adobe has partnered with CNN to create an easier to use workspace for “journalism” and “news editing”. Meaning for us moviemakers that the interface will be very easy to use (if it wasn’t already before….) In CS5, they have decoupled the rendering capabilities, meaning a project can be created on one machine, but sent to another to render instead. This would be extremely useful for us if we wanted to set render queues up on 2-4 reliable machines and not use the entire DV Lab plus three classrooms hoping ten machines will actually finish renders and not crash halfway through. CS5 looks to be a good upgrade but not necessary if 64 Bit systems are not being used.

Blackberries, iPhones, Androids, Oh NO!!! Smartphones smartphones smartphones! They are everywhere! Everyone is on one all the time! It is actually incredible the amount of people who are on a smart phone. Streambox, a media encoding/decoding to help stream mobile media, even now has an iPhone app to stream video back to the “station” and provide on the go footage for news stories. Next up, live shots from the phone, you don’t even need a camera anymore!

And last but not of the vendors, Harris, had this sign above their booth…I thought it was amusing due to the wording, which includes one of our school’s absolute favorite words…

Thursday, April 8, 2010

From the UAT Intranet: "UAT Short Film in Phoenix Film Festival"

Short Film

Story by Trevor Green

UAT's Digital Video short film A Turkey is an Official Selection in the 2010 Phoenix Film Festival, taking place April 8-15. Created by the DVA442 HDV Production class during the spring 2009 semester, the bowling-based action/drama will screen in the "Arizona Shorts Program A" category.

A Turkey was produced and photographed by UAT students, with Professor Paul DeNigris in the director's chair. Undergrads Nicholas Wassenberg and Susanna Morgan served as producers, Zac Donner photographed the action, Joel Terry was the film's editor, Ryan Loveland was in charge of costume design and Justin Gagen headed the art department. Adjunct Instructor Steve Briscoe wrote the screenplay and acted in the film.

Wassenberg and Morgan took on new tests as producers, putting their stamp on the movie from start to finish. The pair contacted and auditioned actors, set up and scheduled shoot locations, catered, communicated between departments and ensured that everything was on set to facilitate filming. Both chose the script, drawn to the gritty story about a contract killer who has too much information for his boss to handle.

Wassenberg knew he was in for a challenge in accepting the producer role.

"It's a huge change because usually I just take what other people have done and add my own little thing to them in post-production [visual effects] , but now it was an entirely new facet of the industry that I hadn't experienced before," he said. "I'm not the most organized person in the world, and the job requires a fair share of organization, so it's not my cup of tea."

Morgan found the workload mostly enjoyable, finding a potential career focus in the process.

"There were definitely moments when I was working on this project where I wished I didn't have so much to take care of it. But most of the time, it really is a lot of fun. And, when the film is finished, you can sit back and say, 'This really is my movie. I had a part in it every step of the way. I really helped to make this thing happen.' And that's a great feeling."

Short Film

Gagen utilized his handyman skills as art director to tackle set design, assemble props - which included a false bottom bowling bag and table for a decapitated head - and create makeup effects like fake blood. He found his calling with the role, taking on similar duties in subsequent movies.

"It was my first adventures into art direction, so I really fell in love with it really quick, though. I've been doing it a lot ever since," he admitted. "Everything I've learned from A Turkey has really helped me in [production] since then."

DeNigris took a mostly hands-off approach with overseeing the film, offering feedback and letting the students get their hands dirty with their roles.

"I tried to do as little as possible on it, so I was just directing and the students had to do everything else. And they all stepped up really well," he noted. "Usually, I give them enough specific direction up front and then they can just take it and run with it, and what they come up with definitely fits within my vision."

The vision is one that everyone involved enjoyed gain acceptance into the Festival - with some, like Wassenberg and Morgan, surprised to learn that the film was submitted.

"A lot of hard work did go into the making of A Turkey. To have it accepted into the Phoenix Film Festival, well, that really just shows us that all of that work paid off. That's a really wonderful feeling," Morgan declared.

"It turned out a lot better than a lot of us thought it was going to. I mean, we had high expectations because we were in a 400-level class and we wanted it to be professional-level, but I think it really exceeded all of our expectations on how well we achieved our goals," said Gagen. "We were really surprised how much we could really do with all we learned here. It really put our skills in perspective."

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tutorial: Exporting 3d Camera Data from Maya into After Effects

Jostein Finnekasa over at CG Tuts+ has produced a great brief tutorial on how to transfer camera keyframes from Maya into Adobe After Effects. This is a great technique for seamlessly integrating 3D animation and 2D compositing techniques in a shot.

Check it out here!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

UAT Alum Part of Academy Award-Winning VFX Team for AVATAR

Surely by now all our regular readers have seen James Cameron's film Avatar and know that its groundbreaking visual effects picked up an Academy Awards at this year's Oscars. What you may not know is that a UAT alumnus was part of that award-winning team.

Rick Ravenell, a 2007 UAT graduate, was part of the team at Prime Focus (one of a number of visual effects vendors working under the primary team at WETA Digital). Rick's responsibilities on Avatar were for the design and creation of heads-up display graphics in the command center and the various human military vehicles seen throughout the film. This image here of the large holographic tactical display in the command center is a good representative sample of the work that Rick contributed to this blockbuster film.

UAT Digital Video is proud to congratulate alum Rick Ravenell and the entire Avatar VFX team on their Oscar win!

Rick's website:
Rick's IMDB page:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

When Science Trumps Art

What to Blame When Bad Blockbusters Dominate the Box Office
By Nick Wassenberg

Despite prominent ridicule of Michael Bay's predilection for prioritizing gratuitous explosions over plot, 2009's Transformers sequel Revenge of the Fallen held top spots the box office charts for nearly two months before other high-profile films (Harry Potter 6, followed by District 9) stole the limelight -- no small feat considering the across-the-board panning it received from both esteemed reviewers and die-hard Transformers fans alike. Some argue that on-screen combustion and extensive action scenes cater to our generation of movie-goers which, when combined with the American public's fondness for escape via entertainment, contributed to the film's profits.

Professor James Cutting of Cornell University believes blockbuster success is due, in part, to manipulation of the audience's attention span.

Utilizing a process called the 'Fourier transform', people like James Cutting are able to apply a mathematical pattern of waves (representing the lengths of shots in a movie) known as 1/f fluctuation, to the behavior of a consumer's attention span. When overlaid, the two plots illustrate a significant effect made by the timing of cuts in accordance the audience's fluttering attention span. "...the more recent the blockbuster,
the more closely the length of its shots followed that
same fluctuation."

In the diagram above, Cutting compares the editorial timing of three movies from vastly separate eras. 2005's King Kong, though delivering less than was hyped, largely adheres to the 1/f pattern, whereas 1945's Detour, held in high regard, shares little resemblance. Yet despite its shortcomings, King Kong profited as admirably as Detour. The remarkable thing about this pairing is that King Kong tips the scales at over three hours long -- quite the oddity in a society driven by instant gratification and multitasking -- but succeeded in captivating its audience by following the 1/f formula. To contrast, the audiences flocking to Detour hadn't suffered from the same attention deficiency, allowing the film to flourish on its own merits.

Cutting doesn’t believe that this increasing conformity to the 1/f fluctuation resulted from a conscious decision on the part of the directors. Rather, he theorizes that films which fall into people’s viewing sweet spot better hold their attention, and thus seem more gripping, and make more money. Then the other directors naturally copy the pace of the more exciting, more profitable movies, and the 1/f fluctuation trend spreads.”

Not even industry-revolutionizing productions are exempt from using the Fourier transform method to engage their audiences. James Cameron's Avatar, weak in plot but employing myriad visual tricks and treats, is now the highest-grossing film of all time, not accounting for inflation. George Lucas' Revenge of the Sith, though victim of Lucas' diminishing popularity and riddled with continuity errors, also placed highly at the box office. While these two examples are deserving of their box office recognition (the former ushering in a new age of film-making and the latter delivering the final chapter of a hugely successful and cultural franchise), the relative success of the Transformers sequel could have the 1/f formula to thank for its domestic accomplishment, as might an alarming number of big-budget films from the past decade.

So while film students everywhere strive to instill innovative and artistic value into their productions, they'd do well to introduce another factor into their work: the Fourier method of ensnaring the masses.

James Cutting's full text can be found here.