A pair of antiseptic and ever-competing soccer moms chitchat on the bleachers as their kids chase and kick balls around the grassy sport’s field when Lisa (Dawn Luebbe) looks closer at her frenemy Jill (Jocelyn DeBoer) and exclaims through thinly veiled contempt: “Oh, my gosh, I didn’t even notice, you have a new baby!” By the end of their creatively clipped and arish exchange, Jill, almost as if on a whim, has given her baby, Madison, to Lisa, for keeps (only to show some regret later on, though mostly because she renamed her Paige).
This is the strangely surreal suburban hellscape of Greener Grass, a world of pastel-colors, intensely manicured-lawns, accidental spouse-swapping (everyone looks similar at just a cursory glance), overly friendly barbecues, pool parties, gross kissing and the odd murder scene.
Written and directed by co-stars DeBoer and Luebbe, Greener Grass is their debut and demands a demented frame of mind to fully appreciate its strange glamor. It plays out like the Stepford Wives as reimagined by John Waters, with the odd episode here and there unraveling like an enjoyably elaborate and overlong Mr. Show sketch. For instance, a popular TV show aimed at children, “Kids with Knives” upsets the neighbourhood parents every time it’s on, and it seems to be on an awful lot.
Jill and Lisa have been waging a passive-aggressive battle since forever, and Jill, now pregnant with a soccer ball, begins to suspect that Lisa has a more active war strategy on her mind, like perhaps moving into her home. In the periphery of all this, the town, wherein everyone drives around in day-glo colored golf carts by the way, is in a tizzy over the recent murder of yoga teacher, and the psycho suspect who so far has elluded capture.
Playing out with an episodic, shaggy dog style––one story arch involves a precocious child literally and inexplicably turning into an adorable golden retriever––Greener Grass often feels like a Twilight Zone/Desperate Housewives mashup. There just aren’t many if any films that are as side-splittingly silly and idiosyncratic as the fever dream that DeBoer and Luebbe have conjured up here.
The often ominous synthesizer score from Samuel Nobles gives Greener Grass the distinct vibe that some kind of holy evil is at play, giving this satirical, lysergic-tinted, kitsch-coated, and extremely off-center film yet another layer to dig into. All the regressive elements and gut-busting affectations that oscillate around Jill and Lisa ensure that the film will be a cult classic, of that we’re absolutely certain. Is this a film for all tastes? Absolutely not. Is it a messed-up and gooey good time? You bet it is.
Taste of Cinema Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Author Bio: Shane Scott-Travis is a film critic, screenwriter, comic book author/illustrator and cineaste. Currently residing in Vancouver, Canada, Shane can often be found at the cinema, the dog park, or off in a corner someplace, paraphrasing Groucho Marx. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneScottravis.
ASC President Kees van Oostrum joins host Ben Allan ACS CSI on the T-Stop Inn podcast to talk about loyalty, progress, and artistry- the very words that make up the ASC’s motto. Kees van Oostrum ASC talks about the organization’s 100th Anniversary and their vision for the future. He talks in-depth about the challenges and … Continued
The Lowepro Pro Trekker AW II Series is a range of carry-on compatible camera bags that can be used by both video and still photography shooters. Finding the right carry on bag that is also practical for everyday use is a difficult proposition. Finding that exact bag that works for you is even harder. Lowepro’s … Continued
Do You Want to Learn How to Make, Market and Sell an Indie Film? First of all, we made it to 350 episodes. HOLY CRAP! Thank you all for all the love and support that you have given me, this show and Indie Film Hustle in general. To celebrate I’m launching the first-ever MAKE YOUR…
The 2019 New York Film Festival kicks off tonight with Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman — and do you really need us to recommend it to you? With our editorial staff seeing the film tonight, we’ve been avoiding Film Twitter, where extremely positive reactions have been leaking out from this morning’s press screening. But Scorsese’s long-anticipated, epic, effects-driven film is just one of many highlights we’re certain of as New York brings together some of the best out of Cannes, Venice, Telluride and Toronto along with some fantastic short-film premieres, talks (Lynn Ramsay!, DP Denis Lenoir!, Olivier Assayas!), and new VR […]
Modern editing applications offer a veritable plethora of tools to both evaluate the information in your photos and to edit them to whatever creative vision you have in mind. This excellent video will show you five fundamental tools that every photographer should know how to use to edit their photos efficiently and effectively.
If you are new to artificial lighting, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to understand how all the technical terms and processes come together to create a successful photo. One of the most important concepts is flash sync speed, and this excellent video will show you why it matters and how to work with it.
NiSi has just announced a new two-slots, rotatable filter holder for DSLR and mirrorless cameras: the NiSi Switch. The NiSi Switch can take up to two 100mm filters and allows you to rotate each filter independently, or together. Let’s take a closer look at it.
NiSi Switch Features
If you are a still photographer or a filmmaker who is looking for an alternative to traditional matte boxes (without the need to block light), the NiSi Switch can be a new solution for you. The Switch is a filter holder that accepts up to two 100mm filters, plus one 82mm circular ND filter in the primary adapter.
The main benefit of this system is that you can rotate both filter trays at the same time, or rotate them independently one from another. This feature is especially useful if you work with graduated ND filters so that you can place each filter at the desired angle.
Also, there is a dedicated locking knob on each filter tray, so you can lock it where you want. The Switch is made out of metal, and according to NiSi, there is no vignetting at 16mm on full-frame cameras.
Pricing and Availability
The NiSi Switch works with the 82mm main adapter which is included with the NiSi V6/V5Pro/V5 kits. If you already have one of these kits, you can order the Switch as an additional filter holder for your package. The NiSi Switch is available now and retails for $ 188,00. We will update the article with buy links when we get them.
What do you think of the Switch? Do you already have some NiSi filters in your kit? Let us know in the comments!
Hollyland, the Chinese company specialized in affordable wireless data/video/audio transmission solutions, has introduced a new HDMI/SDI wireless monitoring system: the Hollyland MARS 400S. With a claimed range of 300ft (120m), this tiny wireless system can also transmit video to iOS and Android devices via an App. Let’s take a closer look at it!
Hollyland MARS 400S
In the last couple of years, the Chinese manufacturer Hollyland became very popular with affordable wireless video transmission systems like the MARS 300. The brand listened carefully to the customers’ feedback, and this new Hollyland MARS 400S system addresses a lot of the issues of the previous model.
First of all, the MARS 400S exterior casing is now made out of metal. Indeed, it should better handle the set life and be less prone to breakage. Otherwise, the Hollyland MARS 400S keeps the same compact and lightweight form factor as its predecessor. The transmitter and receiver measure only 112mm x 65mm x 23.5mm (without antennas and batteries) and weighs around 190 grams each.
Also, there is now a little OLED display on the front of the transmitter and receiver. This screen displays information about the remaining battery life, the channel you’re using, the strength of the signal, and the resolution/framerate. Both transmitter and receiver have built-in L-series battery plates. Also, there is a USB Type-C DC input if you want to power them via an external source.
Image source: Hollyland
The good news for professional filmmakers is that the Hollyland MARS 400S system now features HDMI and SDI ports on both the transmitter and receiver. You are no more limited to only HDMI like the previous MARS 300 system. Also, you can connect your camera via SDI to the transmitter and your monitor via HDMI to the receiver, and vice-versa.
Image source: Hollyland
To transmit video, the MARS 400S uses a 5Ghz frequency band, with up to 400 feet (120m) line-of-sight range. According to Hollyland, the latency is less than 0.1 second. Below is a quick chart of all the video resolutions and framerates that are supported by the transmitter and receiver.
iOS & Android App Monitoring
One of the most exciting features of the Hollyland MARS 400S is probably its capability to connect to an iOS/Android mobile device via an App. Indeed, the MARS 400S supports up to 4 App connections while the transmitter is connected to one or none receivers.
Image source: Hollyland
In the App, three modes are available: image mode, balance mode, and speed mode. Depending on your needs, you can prioritize what type of transmission you want. For example, you can go with lower video quality or low latency, or the balance between both.
On top, in the App, you can take screenshots of the scene, and even record on your mobile device. To connect your mobile device to your MARS 400S, all you have to do is download the Hollyland app, scan a QR code at the back of the receiver, and voila!
The MARS 400S is aimed at one-man-band shooters and small crews, so I find this feature useful. Sometimes, the budget is tight, and you don’t have that much room to rent an extra monitor. Having the ability for your crew members/clients to monitor what you are doing with their smartphone can make a difference.
Pricing and Availability
The Hollyland MARS 400S should start to ship soon and retails for $649.00/€615.00.
What do you think of the Hollyland MARS 400S? Do you consider getting one for your kit? Let us know in the comments!
At the Fantastic Fest US Premiere of “Jojo Rabbit”, Taika Waititi shares insights into how he was able to create a lighthearted love story in the darkest of times.
Less than two weeks after its world premiere at TIFF, and just a month before its scheduled theatrical release in October, Taika Waititi seemed visibly nervous trying to find funny answers to serious questions about his upcoming black comedy Jojo Rabbit, which seems appropriate for what is basically a coming-of-age love story set against the backdrop of WWII.
Waititi himself portrays a make-believe Adolf Hitler as the imaginary best friend to a young and impressionable German boy who is adamantly part of the Hitler Youth, and whose worldview is tested when he discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic.
“It’s not a comedy about World War II. It’s a love story about World War II with some jokes.” – Taika Waititi
Mathieu Stern of the Weird Lens Museum recently traveled to Tampere, Finland, where he was invited to tour The Camera Rescue Project, a large collection of vintage cameras being rescued from disrepair and potential loss. Stern introduces his viewers to Juho Leppänen, the man running the project, as well as the small team’s huge collection of around 6,000 vintage camera items at the Camera Rescue Center.
The Camera Rescue Project’s team has tasked themselves with finding, inspecting, and repairing 100,000 vintage film cameras, a process that has thus far resulted in more than 57,000 camera ‘rescues.’ Stern is introduced to the sales side of the Camera Rescue Center, as well as the processes used to inspect the cameras. Malfunctioning cameras and lenses are sorted into the ‘repair queue,’ which is currently home to more than 2,000 units in need of work.
Stern is known for, among other things, his videos showcasing unusual lenses and projects, including a lens created from ice and, more recently, a rare projector lens given a new life. In his most recent video, Leppänen tells Stern that he will be given some unusual lenses to test around the city, something Stern plans to show to his viewers in a future video. The Camera Rescue Project was likewise detailed in a video from Cameraville earlier this year.
A ray of hope for the future for those who record public events and news materials, as “federal appeals court has rejected a qualified immunity claim by a Dallas transit cop, who arrested a freelance photographer for criminal trespass in 2016 because he was taking pictures at a train station.”
Photographing a certain group of people or documenting lives and events can be really exciting. It can also be emotionally confusing, because we frequently have to enter a field and also leave it after a while.
Th 3.2-gigapixel camera being built for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) was thought up over a decade ago. But after getting the green light in 2011, and securing funding in 2015, it was off to the races as engineers and scientists began to turn this idea into a functioning reality.
The camera features the largest CCD image sensor mosaic in the world, combining 189 individual sensors into a single 3.2-gigapixel imaging area that—once it’s operational and perched atop Cherro Pachon mountain in Chile—will snap a 15-second exposure of the night sky every 20 seconds or so. This will enable the telescope to capture the entire visible southern sky every few nights!
But a sensor is nothing without some optics, and in the case of the LSST, that includes three massive mirrors, and two lens elements: the 5.1-foot wide L1 lens element we’re talking about today, and a “smaller” companion lens element that’s “only” 3.9 feet wide. According to a press release published by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the primary lens is “believed to be the world’s largest high-performance optical lens ever fabricated.”
The two lenses were made by Colorado-based Ball Aerospace and its subcontractor, Tucson-based Arizona Optical Systems, over the course of five years, mounted together in a carbon fiber structure, and then shipped by truck from Tucson, AZ to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, where there was a bit of a celebration, some fist bumps, and a bunch of photographs taken upon the lens’ safe arrival.
Here’s a closer look at this record-breaking optic:
Credit for the creation of this incredible lens goes to LLNL optical scientists Lynn Seppala and Brian Bauman and LLNL engineers Vincent Riot, Scott Winters and Justin Wolfe, whose work “spanning a period of nearly two decades” helped make all of the LSST camera’s optics a reality.
To learn more about this amazing lens element and the record-breaking camera that it will become a part of, head over to the LLNL website or scroll through more pictures on the SLAC Lab’s Flickr account.
Creators of Virtual Reality content have different needs than creators of other content, including 360 video, so Oculus created the Oculus Media Studio, to help creators share their stories with the world.
There is a growing number of content creators around the world who are creating incredible immersive content to build communities and share stories. However, while some may think that immersive content means everything from 180 to Virtual Reality, Oculus has been aware, for a while, through feedback from creators, that sharing content to experience in a VR headset is quite different than sharing 360 content to view in a social feed.
According to Oculus, “immersive creators want support for their VR-native content”, so the company announced that “we’re committed to helping them on their journey to engage their community and tell their stories”. As part of that commitment, Oculus announced, during Oculus Connect 6, held this month, “ a new tool to help creators share their stories with the world: Oculus Media Studio, an immersive media management tool for uploading, publishing, and analyzing VR-first content. uploading, publishing, and analyzing VR-first content.”
Oculus TV, your central hub for content
The Oculus Media Studio was not the only announcement made by Oculus, and it is important to also look at another product announced, the new and improved Oculus TV. After revealing that people have spent $100M USD on the Oculus Store, “and 20% of that is from Quest alone — which is a testament to the health of the ecosystem, as well as the passion and commitment of the developers and content creators designing and building for VR today”, the company added that “VR is a great way to explore your favorite content and discover hidden gems—from the latest blockbuster movies to small, indie 360° projects and everything in between. And with more and more content coming to the Oculus Store every day, it can be hard to find exactly what to watch.” So, the new Oculus TV is born!
Oculus TV is a central hub where you can discover and watch media on both Oculus Quest and Oculus Go, giving creators a unique platform to help people find and enjoy the experiences they’ve made. Presented as the ultimate living room, inside Oculus TV, you’ll find content of all kinds to enjoy, from your favorite media apps like Amazon Prime VR, or Fandango’s streaming service, FandangoNOW—which is available immediately for Oculus Quest and Oculus Go. You can also check out unique immersive experiences like Emmy-nominated documentary Traveling While Black.
Oculus Media Studio, designed specifically for VR
Oculus says that “just like your living room is the perfect place to spend time with friends, family, and your favorite entertainment, Oculus TV is a digital space where you can hang out in small groups, kick back, and watch your favorite content on a 180-inch screen. You can even enjoy your own personal photos and videos, plus popular 360° videos from top creators.”
While Oculus TV will serve both the audiences and creators, there is a product designed with creators in mind, the Oculus Media Studio—a new set of tools that make it simple for creators to upload, publish, and analyze their immersive content. With the Media Studio creators get an all new, easy-to-use dashboard to upload and manage their immersive media library within a single hub. In a few easy steps, their immersive content will be up on the Oculus ecosystem and viewable in VR. They won’t need to go through hoops to publish to VR, or take the time to create a new app for the Oculus Store.
The Media Studio upload flow is designed specifically for VR media. It ensures video quality by automatically reviewing content with ready-for-VR minimum specs. For VR studios who work collaboratively on media, uploading as “Saved As Draft” will allow only other people in your Oculus Organization to preview and review the content in headset.
Jonathan Bach, Director of Product, Baobab Studios, authors of titles as Crow, says that “the ingest, preview and publish flow is efficient, and the ability to preview drafts (both content and metadata) on platform before pushing live is a great sanity and quality check”. Bach also added that “the publishing flexibility Media Studio gives creators, combined with improved content surfacing, both in headset and on Facebook, should help 360 creators reach more users with much less effort than was previously possible.”
Oculus says that “distributing your content with Media Studio allows it to be surfaced in VR through the Explore Feed in Home, where Oculus Go, and soon Oculus Quest, users will be able to discover content ranked based on their interests. Coming later this year immersive content uploaded through Media Studio will be curated and surfaced in the updated Oculus TV.”
Despite the fact that the woirkflow is designed with VR in mind, Oculus introduced options to distribute promotional materials related to the content in 2D – like a 2D trailer sent directly to the creator’s Facebook News Feed – empowering immersive creators to share VR-first content in VR while providing their audience with methods of discovering content out of headset.
Being able to analyze the results is key for creators. In the past, there was nowhere to find insights to your content in its intended format. Now, says Oculus, creators can learn more about their VR audience and how they consume content with insights about in-headset time spent and in-headset views. Additionally, , the company adds, “we’ve surfaced both in-headset views next to Facebook News Feed views to consolidate your metrics in the Media Studio dashboard.”
Victor Agulhon, TARGO’s CEO, says that “as a media company, it’s central to have analytics on our creations. Having access to the average viewing time is the most insightful: it helps us identify usage pattern and iterate on the way we tell VR stories, what works, what doesn’t. In the end, it helps us make better VR experiences that audiences love.”
Oculus states that “this is the first of many improvements we are launching for the immersive creator community. In the future, we plan not only to fine-tune the Media Studio toolkit, but also plan to roll out a new feature for composing VR-first profiles for creators build and enhance a dedicated VR audience.”
Adobe has offered a sneak peek look at the Content-Aware Fill update it will be bringing to Photoshop in the near future. The changes are introduced by Photoshop Product Manager Meredith Stotzner, who explains that Adobe plans to add new ‘Auto’ and ‘Custom’ sampling area options to the tool when it is opened using the application’s Edit menu, these joining the existing ‘Rectangular’ option.
By tapping its Sensei AI technology, the Content-Aware Fill’s new Auto option will analyze the image, find the pixels immediately bordering a selection and then apply the fill using those pixels for an improved final result. The Custom option, meanwhile, gives users complete control over the sampling area selection so that users can ‘brush [their] sampling area from scratch,’ according to Stotzner.
A demonstration of both of these new capabilities have been shared by Adobe in the video above. The company says it will be introducing Auto and Custom to Content-Aware Fill soon, but it hasn’t provided a specific release date at this time. The video indicates the update will arrive before the end of the year.
It’s not an uncommon thing to see photographers being stuck in an endless loop of un-productivity. If you look at photography a little more seriously than as a hobby then you may have been looping in this cycle for so long as well.
Earlier this month, we caught our first glimpse of Sony’s next flagship full-frame camera, the a9 II. Now, a new photo has been leaked showing the camera out in the wild yet again.
The leaked photo, seen below and shared by Sony Alpha Rumors, features what appears to be an a9 II camera attached to a taped-up battery grip and a Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS lens. The button placement and overall look is identical to the header image, which was leaked earlier this month.
As noted when the first leaked image, one noticeable change is the lack of the Focus Mode dial lock release button found on the a9. Aside from that, the externals of the camera appear largely unchanged from its predecessor.
As for internals, we don’t know much. Sony Alpha Rumors is reporting the camera will feature a 36-megapixel sensor, but that rumor has yet to be confirmed.
PhotoPlus 2019 is being held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center roughly a block away from the Creative Space NYC location where Sony is hosting its event.
That said, we’ll find out soon enough what’s packed inside the a9 II. Sony has shared the details for an event at ’Creative Space NYC,’ that will take place just around the corner from the convention center where PhotoPlus 2019 is going on. The ‘Creators’ Playground,’ as Sony is calling it, will be open from October 24 through the 26.