10 Great Sci-fi Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen

The sci-fi genre has gained a huge fan base through blockbuster movie series such as the “Star Wars” and critically acclaimed movies from legendary directors like Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” or Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”. Here is a list of some criminally underrated gems of the sci-fi genre you have probably never seen.

 

10. Brainstorm (1983)

Directed by Douglas Trumbull, “Brainstorm” is a thought provoking sci-fi drama that explores the complex theme of thought sharing. It is not only one of the most underrated sci-fi films of the 1980s, but also Natalie Wood’s last film.

To be more specific the film follows the unsettling story of some scientists as they develop a virtual reality device that records human thoughts and feelings. When the two lead researchers of this project, Michael Brace (Christopher Walken) and Lillian Reynolds (Louise Fletcher) perfect this unique device, the government becomes interested in their work.

Michael has to deal with not only the government who wants to use the device for a different purpose, but also the tragic death of his co-worker Lillian. In addition, Michael tries to fix his broken marriage with Karen (Natalie Wood) as well as to sabotage the government’s unethical project.

It goes without saying that Douglas Trumbull manages to create an underrated hidden gem of the sci-fi genre. Despite the fact that it is a slow paced drama, the powerful performances and the experimental direction create a tense atmosphere.

Christopher Walken delivers a sensational performance as a scientist struggling to save the world as well as his broken marriage. Additionally, Louise Fletcher’s performance is breathtaking, whereas Natalie Wood is also great in the last role of her career (she died during the shooting of the film).

Moreover Douglas Trumbull, a visual effects pioneer (“Blade Runner”, “Close Encounter of the Third Kind”) enhance this weird sci-fi journey with astonishing visual effects.

Overall, “Brainstorm” isn’t just one of the most underappreciated sci-fi films of all time, but also a jewel of cult cinema.

 

9. Kafka (1991)

Inspired by Franz Kafka’s real life and great works such as “The Castle” and “The Trial”, Steven Soderbergh creates a unique blend of reality and fiction. Although the main character is named after the legendary writer, the film is an amalgam of Kafka’s vision and Soderbergh’s interpretation of a kafkaesque world. The film was written by the prolific sciptwriter Lem Dobbs.

Jeremy Irons stars Kafka, a shy clerk working for an insurance company who writes weird stories in his free time. When Edward (Kafka’s coworker) is murdered, Kafka discovers a mysterious underground group trying to expose a secret society that controls the world.

Thus, Kafka embarks on a bizarre journey to reach the castle in order to stop this secret organization. He has to deal with not only some mad scientists and their experiments, but also Edward’s lover Gabriella (Theresa Russell).

Although the film begins as a classic film noir with witty dialogues, it soon becomes a suspenseful sci-fi thriller with gorgeous black and white cinematography. It is quite obvious that Steven Soderbergh manages to capture the essence of a kafkaesque world.

The conspiracy theory, the depiction of a bureaucratic system and the magnificent performance by Jeremy Irons enhance this claustrophobic tale of madness. It is not only a stylish drama with visually stunning photography, but also a philosophical study of existential anxiety and absurdism.

All in all, “Kafka” is a great effort to reimagine Kafka’s vision of a terrifying world. A great lo-fi sci-fi film for those who enjoy Kafka’s work.

 

8. Liquid Sky (1982)

Liquid Sky

“Liquid Sky” is undoubtedly one of the weirdest sci-fi movies of all time. This low-budget gem of cult cinema is also an important movie of the post-punk and new wave movement of that era.

This bizarre tale follows the story of Margaret, a drug addict fashion model who lives in a small apartment with her lover Adrian. Margaret is a bisexual model who has to deal with the people of the fashion industry as well as Jimmy, another androgynous model.

When a small flying UFO land at the top of Margaret’s apartment, everything goes out of hand. These aliens, who came to Earth to look for some heroin, are now interest in Margaret’s sex life. What follows is a series of psychedelic scenes involving murders, aliens and drugs.

Directed by Slava Tsukerman, “Liquid Sky” is genuinely unique film that captures excellently the underground scene of New York of the 1980s. The experimental direction, the great selection of songs and the psychedelic animation create a marvellous presentation of the post-punk subculture.

On the other hand, the catatonic characters of Margaret and Jimmy are both portrayed excellently by the sensational Anna Carlisle.

In addition, Paula E. Sheppard is also great as a weird musician with a quirky personality.

Taking everything into account, “Liquid Sky” it remains one of the most underrated movies of all time. It is not only a great experimental sci-fi film, but also a hidden gem of the cult cinema that deserves more attention.

 

7. The Endless (2017)

“The Endless” is a bizarre sci-fi movie created by the talented directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. The two visionary directors have managed to create one of the most original sci-fi movies of the 21st century. They have not only directed, written and produced this low-budget gem, but also played the roles of two main characters.

The film tells the story of two brothers, Aaron and Justin, who have left a mysterious cult a long time ago. When they receive a videotape with footage from the cult, they decide to visit for one last time the cult’s campsite. The cult is set in a secluded camp in the countryside, where everyone seems to be very happy.

Everything looks perfect until the two brothers discover some weird Polaroid photos and cassette tapes. Then everything gets out of control, as the two characters are trapped in this sacred place where even time is distorted. They have to not only find a way to escape, but also fight a battle against an unforeseen divine threat.

Despite the fact this is an underrated low-budget film, it is a great effort to create a magic universe of endless possibilities. It is not only a marvellous study of mysticism, but also an essay about faith and religion. Additionally, the experimental direction, the existential themes and the gorgeous scenery enhance this creepy and suspenseful atmosphere.

“The Endless” is not only a genuinely unique sci-fi tale, but also one of the best independent movies of the 21st century.

 

6. The Quiet Earth (1985)

The Quiet Earth

Directed by Geoff Murphy, “The Quiet Earth” is one of the best New Zealand films of all time. The film is a loose adaptation of Craig Harrison’s novel of the same name.

Bruno Lawrence, one of the greatest New Zealand actors of all time, stars as Zac Hobson, a scientist working on a classified project about global energy. One day he wakes up to find himself alone in a post-apocalyptic world. He desperately tries to not only find other survivors, but also find out what happened.

When he realises that the project he was working on may have caused this tragic event, he becomes mentally unstable. After a few weeks he has an unexpected encounter with Joanne, a young girl that has also survived. Then the two lone survivors along with Api (a guy they met) team up to save the world from another future destruction.

“The Quiet Earth” is obviously a thrilling post-apocalyptic tale about human extinction and loneliness. It is not only a bleak depiction of a nightmarish world, but also a great study of existentialism and nihilism. This sci-fi tale also stands out as a social critique of the alienation of modern life.

Furthermore, Bruno Lawrence delivers a spellbinding performance as a tragic character who seeks for a purpose in a meaningless world of total chaos.

All in all, “The Quiet Earth” isn’t just a great post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure, but also a rare gem of the New Zealand cult cinema.

How Often Do You Try to Recreate Photos?

How Often Do You Try to Recreate Photos?

The wonderful thing about the internet is how incredibly easy it is to instantly access a veritable plethora of masterful photographs to inspire you. But do you ever attempt to recreate those photos yourself? This great video shows the challenges and benefits of trying to recreate other people’s photos.

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Mastering the Comedy Genre in Movies and TV [w/ Examples]

Everyone needs a good laugh, and the comedy genre is one of the best ways to get there. What makes a great comedy?

Comedy is one of the most malleable genres in film and television. Comedy can brighten a scene, tell us a lot about a character’s mood, and even help sustain long expository explanations and speeches.

Still, there are lots of tropes and characteristics of comedies that people expect when they’re reading your screenplay or pilot. Comedy might be the hardest thing to pull off, and it’s certainly one of the riskiest things to pitch or develop. A comedy that doesn’t work is super cringe-y.

But take the risk! Because we NEED more comedy! When the world around us gets shrouded in hate and darkness, comedy is the bright light that shows us the way back to joy. Back to our humanity.

If you ever need proof of the POWER of the comedy, consider Cinema’s first great artist and one of the world’s first true global celebrities. Charlie Chaplin.

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How A DIY Approach Resulted in a Subway Station Made From Cardboard

Can’t find the perfect filming location? Maybe you can make it yourself!

David and James Codeglia, director and cinematographer of Deep Dish Apocalypse respectively, took this empowering approach to the challenge of filming in a subway station.

They found a creative low-budget solution to an expensive location problem and delivered high-quality results.

Budget is often the biggest obstacle between filmmakers and making their projects made. Somehow, no matter the size or scope of a project, there’s never enough time, money, or daylight. Especially for low-budget indie films.

One of the BIGGEST challenges a low budget project faces?

Locations.

Permitting a shoot in Los Angeles can run you several hundred dollars, and shooting on location can present many problems from restrictions on filming hours, control of a public space, not to mention finding that ideal, has-everything-you-need diamond-in-the-rough location.

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The 5K Full Frame Octopus Camera Lets You Switch Out Sensors

Octopus Cinema’s debut open-source prototype offers an open platform with interchangeable parts.

London-based company Octopus Cinema is cooking up a camera that will interest fans of open source tech. The Octopus Camera is a customizable rig which runs on Linux and supports a variety of sensors from XIMEA, with features including “full-frame 35mm, Global Shutter, native Monochrome and more.”

The company’s official website only lists specs for XIMEA sensors, but according to Cinema 5D’s Jakub Han, the Octopus will also support modules from Sony and CMV in the future.

Of the available XIMEA sensors, Octopus has released specs for two: full frame and 4/3 inch. Both can shoot 12-bit Lossless Cinema DNG in 4k at up to 30 frames per second, and both offer 10-bit HEVC for faster frame rates at varying resolutions. Additional recording formats can be added trivially with the SDK through Libavcodec or 3rd party libraries. Full specs below:

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Should We Worry About the Future of Entertainment? Maybe

If you’re at all media savvy, then you’re probably aware of the tectonic shifts that have taken place over the last few years.

And many of these shifts are causing huge changes within the entertainment industry. For example, there are numerous over-the-top streaming services, most popping up so frequently it’s almost impossible to keep track of them. Disney will soon pull all its properties off Netflix onto its own streaming service, Disney+, leaving Netflix potentially barren. Then, earlier this year, we saw Steven Spielberg publicly berating Netflix only to turn around and join Jeffrey Katzenberg’s new mobile streaming platform, Quibi.

What is going on?!

Couple all this uncertainty over these platforms with the ongoing debate over theatrical distribution. Can the traditional model of releasing a movie in the cinema, then moving it into home/streaming release, survive in today’s world of instant gratification? Will small, arthouse indie films still have a place alongside the blockbuster tentpoles?

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Video: Cinema5D shares more exclusive BTS video of the Fujifilm GFX 100 being built, launched

Earlier this month, we shared with you the first part of Cinema5D’s two-part documentary that shares a behind-the-scenes look at how Fujifilm is bringing its medium-format GFX 100 mirrorless camera to life. Now, Cinema5D has dropped part two, which further dives into the intricacies of creating, testing and launching the world’s first 100-megapixel mirrorless camera.

The 12-minute video shares exclusive footage of how Fujifilm meticulously pieces together GFX 100 units inside its Taiwa, Japan factory, which was opened in September 2018 and designed specifically for the creation of Fujifilm GFX and X-series cameras and lenses. The video also shares a collection of footage captured with a pre-production model of the GFX 100 and takes a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to get the official launch presentation in order.

If you haven’t seen part one, be sure to go watch it first. If you’ve experienced part one, press play on this video and take in the experience.

Techart Sony E Mount to Nikon Z Autofocus Lens Adapter Introduced

Techart, a Chinese company specialized in lens adapters, has just announced a new Sony E Mount to Nikon Z lens adapter with autofocus capabilities. This lens adapter, codename TZE-01, is a world’s first because the flange distance of the Nikon Z-mount is only 2mm shorter than the Sony E-mount, making it extremely hard to manufacture.

Techart TZE-01

Designing a lens adapter from the ground up is a difficult task. It’s even more difficult when the flange distance of the Nikon Z-mount is only 2mm shorter than the Sony E-mount. In short, it means that if you want the adapter to work, it has to be only 2mm thick.

Although, the team at Techart did an impressive job with the TZE-01. Not only did they make the adapter the correct thickness, but they managed to put all the electronic inside such a small piece of metal.

If you want a lens from a manufacturer to “communicate” with the body of another company, you need a PCB board with a chip and connector pins on both sides of the camera and lens. This little chip will “translate” from one language to another, so the glass and the camera body speak the same vocabulary.

Techart_FeaturedThe Techart TZE-01 works in photo, timelapse, and video modes. It enables both Auto Focus & Auto Aperture functions of Sony E mount lenses. You can use different focus mode such as AF-S, AF-C & MF.

Face & Eye Detection of Z-mount cameras also work, and the video sample above is looking great to me, considering it uses phase-detect autofocus technology. If your Sony lens feature OSS/stabilization, it should work too.

Techart_01

The adapter is compatible with the Nikon Z6 and Z7. Also, it supports most of the Sony, Sigma, Tamron & Zeiss AF lenses. For lenses to come or those that are not supported yet, don’t worry. You can update the TZE-01 via a lens dock that is included.

For mounting purposes and because the adapter is skinny, there is a small tab on the adapter to help you mount/unmount it.

Pricing and Availability

The Techart TZE-01 will be available end of June for USD 249

 

What do you think of the Techart TZE-01? Do you own Sony lenses and consider using these on your Nikon Z camera? Let us know in the comments!

The post Techart Sony E Mount to Nikon Z Autofocus Lens Adapter Introduced appeared first on cinema5D.

Zoom F6 Field Recorder – Now Available

During NAB this year, Zoom has announced a new field recorder: the Zoom F6. This compact recorder features 32-bit float recording via the six XLR inputs, and dual Analog/Digital converters. The Zoom F6 is now ready to ship, and we know a little bit more about it.

ZoomF6_Featured

Zoom F6 – The Compact Production Workhorse

The Zoom F6 is the little brother of the Zoom F8 that is available since 2015. The F6 is a small box that measures only 100 mm x 119.8 mm x 62.9 mm for a weight of 520g.

It draws only 10W and can be powered either by Sony L-Series batteries, 4AA batteries, or an AC adapter/power bank via the USB type-C connector (requires DC 5V power).

ZoomF6_01

The Zoom F6 powering options

What I find useful is that each powering options are a different place. The AA battery compartment is at the bottom of the unit, the Sony L battery is on the back, while the USB port is on the left. Otherwise, there is no information if you can use each port for redundancy purposes.

Having a compact and reliable unit that can run for hours is great, but the features of a field recorder matter most.

ZoomF6_02

Zoom F6 Features

The F6 supports various recording formats and sample rates, including 44.1/48/96/192 kHz at 16/24-bit/32-bit float in mono/stereo/2-8ch poly. You can record six tracks simultaneously at the maximum setting (192 kHz at 32-bit float). If you don’t need the extra bits, you can record up to fourteen tracks (6 inputs x 2 (Linear and Floating) + LR mix).

Usually, field recorders can “only” go up to 24-bit, but the F6 goes up to 32-bit. These extra bits should let you plenty of room in post-production. Also, combined with the two Analog/Digital converters built-in, your recordings should never clip again.

If you are recording in 24-bit, the F6 lets you use the “look-ahead hybrid limiters.” What those limiters do is add a 1-millisecond delay, so the limiters “look ahead” and anticipates future clipping before it’s recorded. Also, there is what Zoom calls “AutoMix” function built-in that automatically adjust the levels of your mix. I’m curious to see how they work in real life scenarios.

ZoomF6_04

The six pre-amps are the same as the Zoom F8. These pre-amps are pretty decent and feature a low noise floor (-127 dBu EIN), high gain (up to 75 dB), and selectable mic/line levels for each input.

The Zoom F6 can accept Time Code (with 0.2 ppm when on and when powered off) via a dedicated 3.5mm stereo mini jack. Also, the recorder can be controlled wirelessly, if you purchase the optional BTA-1 Bluetooth adapter, via the Control App on your iPhone/iPad. While we talk about control, you can plug the F6 to the Zoom F-Control (FRC-8) module via the USB port. The Zoom F-Control panel gives you eight physical 60mm faders and additional buttons to control the trim/pan/track-arming for each track (and it looks cool).

Finally, recordings are stored on an SDXC card (up to 512 GB).

ZoomF6_03

Zoom F6 User Interface

The Zoom F6 features six locking Neutrik XLR inputs. There are three on the left side, and three on the right side. On the front, there are six rotating knobs to control the gain input, one for each channel. In the middle of the front panel are the transport controls – stop/record/play – and the 1.54″ color LCD. If you are shooting in bright sunlight, there is a monochromatic mode. Finally, there are four buttons around the screen to navigate in the menus and a PFL button (Pre-Fade Listening).

ZoomF6_05

The Zoom F6 left and right sides.

On the left-hand side are the first three XLR inputs, the USB-C port, a 3.5mm stereo mini unbalanced line out jack, and the connection port for the optional BTA-1 Bluetooth adapter.

On the right-hand side are the other three XLR inputs, a wheel to adjust the headphone output next to the 3.5mm headphone jack that boasts an impressive 100 mW headphone amplifier, the timecode input/output 3.5mm jack, and finally the power button.

ZoomF6_06

The Zoom F6 back and top sides.

At the back of the F6, you will find the SDXC port as well as the Sony L-Series battery connectors. Finally, on the top of the recorder, you can mount a small (included) bracket with a 1/4″ screw. This is useful if you want to attach the recorder at the bottom of your camera. If you’re going to mount the F6 on a tripod, there is a 1/4″ screw hole at the bottom.

ZoomF6_07

Pricing and Availability

The Zoom F6 is now available and ready to ship. It retails for $649.99. In term of comparison, the Sound Devices MixPre 6, although it’s in another league, retails for $899.

What do you think of the Zoom F6? Do you need six inputs and are considering buying it? Let us know in the comments!

The post Zoom F6 Field Recorder – Now Available appeared first on cinema5D.

Would You Spend $20,000 on a Photography Degree or Gear?

Would You Spend $20,000 on a Photography Degree or Gear?

20 or 30 years ago, the benefits of going to college for photography were pretty obvious. But nowadays, there is a veritable plethora of premium education available for free or for a fraction of the price of a degree, and as such, the value of going to a university isn’t as clear cut as it used to be. This excellent video examines whether it’s more worthwhile to go to college or just drop that money on gear.

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Timeless Music in Russian Doll

In the Netflix series Russian Doll, Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) keeps dying over and over, returning to her own birthday party as she tries to figure a way out of the unending loop. The show uses music as a dominant force to complement the drama and its comedic moments, masterfully balancing the emotional tone of the story. Composer Joe Wong was […]

The post Timeless Music in Russian Doll appeared first on Below the Line.

A First Look at the Hasselblad X1D Mark II

A First Look at the Hasselblad X1D Mark II

When the Hasselblad X1D came out, it was the world’s first medium format mirrorless camera, and as such, it ushered in an exciting new era that has since been joined by the Fujifilm GFX series. Nonetheless, it wasn’t the perfect camera, and now with the second version, Hasselblad has made some changes sure to improve the experience. This great video takes a first look at the new version and how it performs.

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Pixar’s Animation: Then and Now [Video]

Take a look at how Pixar films has changed over the last 24 years, from “Toy Story” to “Toy Story 4”.

Pixar is one of the most successful computer animation studios in the world, and for good reason. Their films have garnered 15 Academy Awards, grossed an estimated $13 billion at the worldwide box office, and taken computer animation to places no one ever thought possible, including hair, water, and metal animation.

The work done by the studio is so impressive that it’s easy to forget how humble its beginnings in animation were…compared to today’s standards at least (standards that they continue to set, by the way).

In this video from Insider, we get to see how Pixar’s animation has evolved, from Scud’s smooth, not so furry fur in the first Toy Story to the looks-so-real-that-it-probably-is cat in Toy Story 4. Let’s take a look.

Who isn’t a fan of Pixar? The company has become synonymous with great storytelling, memorable characters, and immersive worlds that simultaneously feel new and familiar.

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These Unseen 9/11 Photos Were Found at an Estate Sale

A giant archive of 2,400 never-before-seen 9/11 photos have been discovered on a set of CDs purchased at an estate sale. The images show workers in the wreckage of the World Trade Center towers after the September 11th, 2001, attacks in New York City.

“My significant other acquired them at an estate sale as we collect and archive vintage media for public benefit,” Dr. Johnathan Burgess tells PetaPixel. “I handle a lot of the Internet and archival end of it, and she loves the fieldwork end of it.”

BBC News reports that although the CDs were found in poor condition, the data was still intact and Burgess managed to recover thousands of photos, some using a CD data recovery service.

Burgess passed along 2,389 of the photos, shot between September and October 2001, to fellow archivist Jason Scott, who has uploaded them to a Flickr album.

The photos, presumably taken by a construction worker who was helping to clear the wreckage, show the cleanup efforts from a number of perspectives: indoor and outdoor, from ground level and from up high, and during the day and at night.

“Generally these items are neglected at sales,” Burgess tells BBC News. “It’s very likely these would be in a dumpster by now had we not gone. It’s a miracle the discs transferred so well, CD Roms of that age are pretty spotty.”

The archivists are working to identify the photographer behind the photos, but so far they’ve been unsuccessful at tracking down anyone connected with the images.

Burgess says he hopes the photos spark giving toward those who were affected by the terrorist attacks.

“We request that if people are affected they give to a charity that helps 9/11 first responders and/or volunteer for worthy causes,” the archivist tells PetaPixel.

The One Killer Feature Manufacturers Need to Add to Their Cameras

The One Killer Feature Manufacturers Need to Add to Their Cameras

When Canon and Olympus were experimenting with live view on their cameras in the mid-2000s, it seems almost comical now that they didn’t think to record video with the feature that already existed on their cameras. History is repeating itself, but this time with the lowly pop-up flash.

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Canon U.S.A. Announces New 120 MP Ultra-High Resolution and 2.7 MP Ultra-High Sensitivity CMOS Sensors

MELVILLE, NY, June 20, 2019 – As image sensors are a driving force in innovating industries, Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, is Read more…

Canon Announces Development of New CMOS Sensor with High Dynamic Range and Ability to Capture Images Under Harsh Conditions

MELVILLE, NY, June 20, 2019 – The high demands of complex lighting and harsh environments require sensors capable of delivering high-dynamic range (HDR) and high-image Read more…

How to Shoot Speaker Paint Splash Photos

Photographer Steve Kazemir made this 4-minute video showing how he shoots beautiful photos of paint splashes frozen in time using an old speaker in his garage.

A photo of Kazemir’s garage setup.

Kazemir stretched a black trash bag over the speaker to protect it and plays sound from a tablet through it at max volume. Dripping “dollar store” acrylic paint onto the trash bag, Kazemir uses a sound trigger to trip his camera and two off-camera flashes when audio causes the paint to “dance.”

Here are some photos Kazemir has captured using the setup:

Watch the video at the top of this article to learn more details of Kazemir’s technique and his tips for doing this type of shoot yourself.

You can also find more of Kazemir’s work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.

(via Steve Kazemir via Reddit)


Image credits: Photographs by Steve Kazemir and used with permission