Fujifilm unveils the Instax Mini Link, its latest compact instant photo printer

Fujifilm has launched the Instax Mini Link, its latest photo printer designed to turn digital photos into analog Instax prints.

The handheld device works hand-in-hand with Fujifilm’s new Instax Mini Link app to share and print images wirelessly. Fujifilm says the device can transfer prints in ‘about 12 seconds’ and can print up to 100 Instax prints per charge.

The Instax Mini Link has special printing modes including called ‘Video Print’ and ‘Party Print.’ ‘Video Print’ lets you scrub through a video to capture a still to print with the devices, while ‘Party Print’ allows up to five different smartphones to pair together to create a collage of images in a single print. An additional ‘Surprise Mode’ within the ‘Party Print’ option will randomly scramble the images, ensuring the final print remains a mystery until it’s revealed.

Basic edits can be made to photos within the Instax Mini Link app and a collection of border options are available to for further customization. Fujifilm’s X Series and GFX System cameras can also be paired with the Instax Mini Link via the Fujifilm Camera Remote app—because who doesn’t want an instant print from a $4,499 51.4-megapixel camera body?

The Instax Mini Link printer will be available in blue, pink and white versions and is expected to retail for $99.95 when it becomes available to purchase on October 4, 2019. For more information, check out the Instax Mini Link website.

Teradek ACE 500 Video Review – Affordable Wireless Video

After using the ACE 500 for almost two months I thought I would create a quick followup review video of the new entry-level wireless video kit from Teradek. You can check out Part 1 of the review HERE and the new video review is embedded above. Happy viewing!

The Teradek ACE 500 feels in many ways like a direct successor to the Paralinx legacy and even takes the “ACE” name from the now discontinued Paralinx ACE 300. It’s a worthy followup to the Paralinx line in my opinion and the price point of $899 for the transmitter and receiver pair makes it especially appealing for anyone just starting with wireless video. However, if you’re already an owner of any of the current generation of Bolt products then you’ll be okay sticking with your current Bolt setup.

Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

With the ACE 500 it is clear the over $400 in savings (when compared to the closest Bolt 500 LT HDMI kit) stems directly from the plasticky exterior build and lack of a pricier LEMO connector. While clearly not built with the high volume rental house market in mind, I can see the ACE 500 holding up over years in the capable hands of an owner/op.

What do you think? Will you be adding the Teradek ACE 500 to your personal kit? Let us know in the comments below.

The post Teradek ACE 500 Video Review – Affordable Wireless Video appeared first on cinema5D.

Anton Yelchin: The Tragic Death of a Cinema Champion

The late Anton Yelchin is remembered warmly in Garrett Price’s clear-eyed documentary, Love, Antosha.

In the summer of 2016, a freak accident sent shockwaves through Hollywood. 27-year-old actor Anton Yelchin was found dead in his own driveway, apparently crushed by his Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV. He received a recall notice for the defect car seven days after his death. (His family has since pursued a lawsuit.)

It was a tragedy beyond comparison, and one that robbed Hollywood and cinema of one of its greatest champions. Yelchin was not only a preternaturally talented performer, but he was also a fastidious worker who was intensely dedicated to his craft. He dove into his roles with the authenticity of a method actor and the humility of an up-and-comer. He was a fierce advocate of independent cinema, but was savvy enough to know that he’d have to compromise by taking on some blockbusters, too.

“There was a story that needed to be told about this force of a human being named Anton Yelchin.”

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Here’s How ‘Toy Story 4’ Turned Keanu Reeves Into Duke Caboom

Pixar’s storytelling genius starts with not recognizing (or caring) if a voice belongs to a celebrity, and that’s a good thing.

Mark Nielsen knows a thing or two about the storytelling process at Pixar.

Nielsen started there in 1996 as a modeling and shading coordinator on A Bug’s Life. He stuck with Pixar, and worked for them again on 1999’s Toy Story 2. Then he switched and became lighting manager for Monsters, Inc. Next up, he served as story manager and crowd manager on Cars. Never one to settle, he became production manager on Up and then associate producer on Inside Out. Then, in the middle of production on Toy Story 4, he was promoted to producer.

What does a producer do when it comes to Pixar? What was production like on Toy Story 4? How do they achieve the iconic voice acting in the film, and of course, how does Pixar do what they do? Nielsen sat down with No Film School to talk about all of these things.

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The Art of the Cut Podcast Eps. 15 (w/ “Fleabag” Editor Gary Dollner, ACE)

The Art of the Cut podcast brings the fantastic conversations that Steve Hullfish has with world renowned editors into your car, living room, editing suite and beyond. In each episode, Steve talks with editors ranging from emerging stars to Oscar and Emmy winners. Hear from the top editors of today about their careers, editing workflows and about their work on some of the biggest films and TV shows of the year.

Emmy winning editor of Fleabag Gary Dollner, ACE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week, Steve spoke with Gary Dollner, ACE about editing the multiple Emmy winning comedy “Fleabag”. You likely know Gary as the editor of shows like “Veep”, “Killing Eve”, and “The Thick of It”. Gary recently won the Primetime Emmy for editing “Fleabag”. To listen to the full interview, check out the below link:

This weeks episode of the Art of the Cut Podcast is brought to you by LaCie. As one of the leading media storage companies in the entertainment industry, LaCie has consistently brought innovative ideas to the market. Make sure to listen to the above interview for a special offer from LaCie when you shop on Filmtools.com!

You can read Steves full interview with Gary here.

The Art of the Cut podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Pocket Casts, Overcast and Radio Public. If you like the podcast, make sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast app and tell a friend!

The post The Art of the Cut Podcast Eps. 15 (w/ “Fleabag” Editor Gary Dollner, ACE) appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

Pomfort Is Making Your Shoots Easier With New LiveGrade Studio

As narrative production starts to have more and more cameras, Pomfort LiveGrade Studio has been released to make it easier for the DIT to manage signal flow.

Narrative production was always traditionally single camera, or at least “dominant” camera, with a main camera you worried about monitoring. If you had a second or third camera, you didn’t tend to obsess about making sure that image was making it’s way to video village, since the “main” camera was what was important.

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4 Essential Visual Tricks to Make Your Shots Easy on the Eyes

Are your shots falling flat? Here are a few fundamentals of composition that will keep them from being boring.

Some say that the “photographer’s eye” is something you’re born with. Others say it’s something you learn through years and years of practice.

I like to believe the latter, because, as I understand it, practice makes perfect. Also, I like to be in charge of myself and my own destiny, including the talents or skills I may want to acquire and utilize during my time on this earth.

So when it comes to becoming a better shooter — composing, lighting, and blocking shots in the best possible service to the story — you don’t need to be born with a special skillset or, like, find a cursed amulet in an ancient burial ground that gives you your heart’s desire (killer film skillz) in exchange for your immortal soul. All you need is information and practice.

Basic Filmmaker explores some and compositional techniques you can use to make your shots more dynamic and, you know, pretty to look at. Watch the video below and then read on for a breakdown of some essential fundamentals of aesthetics.

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New ‘Birds of Prey’ Trailer Reveals How to Make a Blockbuster With No Studio Fingerprints

Harley Quinn is back in the first Birds of Prey trailer, the new (and much-anticipated) movie from indie filmmaker and director Cathy Yan.

Who needs Joker when you have Harley Quinn?

Margot Robbie is back as the popular DC anti-hero in Warner Bros. Birds of Prey, which marks the studio directorial debut of the very talented Cathy Yan. The Chinese-American film director, screenwriter, and producer is best known for directing the 2018 comedy-drama Dead Pigs. Yan, practically overnight, went from those very indie, low-budget roots to helm this spinoff/sidequel based on the popular Suicide Squad character.

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How to Turn a $5 IKEA Gadget into the Perfect Darkroom Timer/Thermometer

If you develop your own film or wet plates, photographer Markus Hofstaetter has a great tip for you. With just a tiny little DIY tweak, you can turn a $5 all-in-one IKEA gadget into the perfect all-in-one Darkroom timer, thermometer and clock.

The IKEA gadget in question is the “Klockis” and it’ll run you just $5 (or 5 Euro, if you’re in Europe like Hofstaetter). It’s a nifty little square gadget that changes its function depending on which side is flipped up, switching from alarm, to clock, to timer, to thermometer without having to press a single button. This is ideal for when you’re wearing gloves in the darkroom. One of the modes even uses a red backlight!

The only issue is that the red backlight is only active in clock mode, switching to green and blue backlights for the other modes. That’s where the DIY-ing comes in.

Fair warning: this is an intermediate-to-advanced project that requires you to do some soldering, so while you’re not risking much ($5) to modify and potentially break this clock, don’t try this at home if you’ve never used solder or aren’t comfortable working with bare wires.

That said, if you have done any soldering at all before, the process is fairly straight-forward and easy to follow if you watch the video. Once you’re done, you’re left with the same clock, but only one backlight: red.

Check out the full video up top or head over to Markus’ blog to see how it’s done, and if you feel comfortable enough to give it a shot, you can pick up an IKEA Klockis for 5 bucks at this link.

The ASC Opens New ARRI Educational Center

The American Society of Cinematographers has announced the completion of the construction of its new ASC ARRI Educational Center. The educational center was made possible through the support of ARRI, a leading manufacturer of camera and lighting technology for the motion picture and film industry. The official opening of the new structure coincided with the […]

The post The ASC Opens New ARRI Educational Center appeared first on Below the Line.

ASC 100th Anniversary Legacy Awards

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) celebrated its 100th Anniversary at the ASC Clubhouse on September 28, 2019. As part of the milestone event, the organization recognized 12 businesses by presenting each with a Legacy Award. These businesses were chosen for their longstanding support over the past century. The 12 companies have helped to champion […]

The post ASC 100th Anniversary Legacy Awards appeared first on Below the Line.

Skydio 2 is a $999 4K autonomous drone that will keep DJI on its toes

After teasing it back in July, and promising availability for Fall, American drone manufacturer, Skydio, has today announced the release of the Skydio 2. A more compact, lightweight, autonomous drone with a superior camera, compared to its predecessor, the R1, it is going after the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Air markets.

The Skydio 2 retails at a competitive price point of $999. A 12MP camera, mounted on a 3-axis gimbal and built around Sony’s IMX577 sensor with Qualcomm’s RedDragon™ QSC605 technology, can deliver up to 4K/60p HDR video. Using 45 megapixels of visual sensing from six 200° color cameras, the drone can detect obstacles in every direction and avoid them. This is Skydio’s foundation for truly autonomous flight, an ‘Onboard AI’ that powers the ‘Skydio Autonomy Engine.’

The drone can reach a maximum autonomous speed of 36 mph and can remain in the air for 23 minutes with up to 3.5 km wireless range. To compare, the DJI Mavic 2 series can fly up to 45 mph remain air bound for up to 31 minutes. Nevertheless, Skydio is also selling the fact their latest release is 50% smaller, lighter, and quieter than the R1.

There are three ways to fly the Skydio 2. The Beacon (an additional $149) will extend communication range up to roughly 1 mile (1.5 km) and enable the drone to follow you through obstacles, even when it can’t see you. You can use the Beacon’s drag and drop controls to reposition the drone in the sky and access modes including Dronie, Rocket, and Orbit for smooth, cinematic shots.

The drone can also be controlled via smartphone with the Android or iOS app. You can access AI modes including the ones mentioned above along with Cable Cam and Sport mode. Photos and video clips can be downloaded and saved directly to the phone for instant sharing. The remote control, also an additional $149, extends the range to over 2 miles (3.5 km) and is ideal for those who want to manually maneuver the drone with joysticks.

Skydio manufactures and repairs its drones in the same Redwood City, California, location as its designers and engineers. They are so confident in its ability to maneuver around obstacles and operate autonomously that they will replace or repair any Skydio 2 for free, granted it was flown within the company’s Safe Flight guidelines.

You can reserve a Skydio 2 today for $100. They are expected to start shipping out within the month.

Photos of Endangered Species Where Every Pixel Represents One Animal

Back in 2008, the World Wildlife Fund teamed up with Yoshiyuki Mikami to create an incredibly powerful campaign using photos of endangered species where every pixel represented one animal left in the wild. Now, a programmer named Joshua Smith took this idea and updated it, releasing a new series of images that have quickly gone viral online.

Smith took this project on as a programing challenge, uploading the results to Imgur when he was done. Inspired by Mikami’s art concept, he created a python script that would scrape the endangered species list from Animal Planet and generate an image with the correct number of pixels. By popular demand, he’s actually now posted the script to GitHub, where you can try it out yourself.

The images aren’t perfect. You can’t split pixels, and each image is square, so the photos are all multiples of identical numbers of pixels (7×7 or 8×8), but the people who are complaining that there are 60 animals left but only 49 pixels in that image might be missing the point. Some images are so pixelated that there is no identifiable animal; by contrast, a human portrait would need to be made up of 7.53 billion pixels, or 7.53 gigapixels, in order to be accurate.

Scroll down to see a selection of images from Smith’s gallery, and then head over to Imgur if you’d like to see the rest, or check out his GitHub project to copy (and possibly improve on) the scrip for yourself.

(via Laughing Squid)


Image credits: Images created by photo editor JJSmooth44. Original idea by Yoshiyuki Mikami for WWF.

Pixelmator Photo gets major v1.1 update with iPadOS 13 support and more

Photo editing app Pixelmator Photo has received a major update to version 1.1, gaining support for Apple’s newly released iPadOS 13, including its redesigned Files app. As well, the updated app brings ‘deeper integration’ with Apple’s iCloud Photos service, batch photo editing that is ‘enhanced’ via machine learning, and the ability to resize exported images.

Pixelmator Photo is a version of the Pixelmator desktop software designed specifically for the iPad. Apple released iPadOS 13 earlier this month for its tablets, bringing a version of iOS tailored specifically for the iPad, including an improved Files app.

The Pixelmator Photo 1.1 update adds support for both iPadOS 13 and that new Files app, enabling users to edit images stored on external devices, including USB drives and SD cards, as well as remote online services including file servers.

Joining that new capability is ML-enhanced batch photo editing, offering users access to machine learning algorithms trained on what the company says were millions of professional images. Pixelmator includes its own batch editing workflows with Pixelmator Photo 1.1, though users can also create their own with actions like cropping and straightening, as well as custom color adjustment presets.

Going forward, Pixelmator Photo will now automatically manage photo edits and save the changes to the user’s library thanks to the updated iCloud Photos integration. Users no longer have to create duplicates or manually import images, plus it is now possible to revert images, favorite them, and delete them in the Photos library without exiting Pixelmator Photo.

Pixelmator Photo is available to purchase for iPad from the Apple App Store for $4.99 USD.

ART OF THE CUT with the editors of “Ad Astra”

Editors Lee Haugen (l) and John Axelrad, ACE (r). They were dressed in the space suits to shoot insert shots.

Editor John Axelrad, ACE, has been in post-production since 1991, including a stint as Oscar-winner Anne Coates’ assistant on Out of Sight and Erin Brockovich. He’s edited dozens of features including Slither, We Own the Night, Two Lovers, Crazy Heart, Something Borrowed, Miles Ahead, and Krampus.

Editor Lee Haugen started as an apprentice under Axelrad and then cut several films including Repentance, Dope (which won Best Editing at Sundance), and Miss Stevens before joining Axelrad again to cut Papillon and The Lost City of Z.

In this interview, we discuss their latest collaboration cutting Ad Astra.

I last spoke to Lee and John after they edited The Lost City of Z.

This interview is available as a podcast.

(This interview was transcribed with SpeedScriber. Thanks to Martin Baker at Digital Heaven)

HULLFISH: You guys must be on to your next projects already.

AXELRAD: I’m working on a Lionsgate movie starring Janelle Monae. It’s an untitled socio-political thriller. Actually, it is titled — they’re just keeping it under wraps.

HAUGEN: And I’m on an independent film called Keyhole Garden, starring Zoe Saldana.

HULLFISH: How are you guys monitoring in your cutting rooms?

AXELRAD: I’m now working in 5.1. I absolutely love it. There were limitations for this film because they wanted us in a very secure environment and we were at a Pivotal Post in Hollywood and the rooms were really small and the configuration didn’t work for 5.1. So I’m embarrassed to say we did not do 5 1. We did LCR and we both had the LG 65 inch OLED, which I love so much I personally bought one for my living room.

HULLFISH: I used the exact same monitor on my last feature and definitely considered buying one for my home as well. It’s gorgeous.

There’s an opening revelation scene — not to give anything away — it’s the beginning in the movie where Brad Pitt’s character is being told all these important things that are then going to propel the movie for the rest of the way. I noticed that a lot of it was played on his reactions. Can you guys talk about the importance of playing lines on or off?

HAUGEN: This being the third film that I’ve worked on with James and John, it’s always our number one priority to understand the point of view of the main character and get inside of his head, and get inside of what he’s processing and thinking. And it’s not so important to have the dialogue on camera as it is to see how the dialogue is affecting our main character. So that scene was a challenging scene because there was a lot of information that was given out. But our goal was to to make sure we knew how Brad was reacting to every single thing that was said and to see this whole revolutionary thought process totally change the way he felt about his dad and lay the groundwork for how things were going to be moving forward for the rest of the film.

AXELRAD: James is a very point-of-view-driven filmmaker, and so when we edit with him he’s always saying, “Where’s the point of view?” So we’ve been conditioned that we follow our main character and James wanted to get interior to his thoughts as best as possible, and playing so much of it over his reactions sets up the significance of his father — how traumatic it was for him — how the revelation that he still may be alive affected him. But the through-line throughout the film is to stay with Brad. James is very neoclassical in his approach. He likes to work in a very linear chronological fashion and staying with Roy as a character was paramount to that goal.

HULLFISH: You mentioned point-of-view and that’s definitely something that is strong with a lot of people. A lot of directors or editors want to know where that point-of-view is. Did the point-of-view change? Or did he always want you on a point-of-view of Brad’s character?

AXELRAD: Pretty much. If you look at the film it’s pretty much the story of Roy McBride. Just like The Lost City of Z was the story of Percy Fawcett. James is not one for irony — not one for multiple points-of-view.

The film I’m working on right now is very, very different. It’s a little more omniscient point-of-view and we do shift quite a lot. But James is purely focused on the main character and how the other characters interact with him and influence that main character’s thinking throughout the film.

HAUGEN: That was one of the things that — as we were going through the process — we always had to keep in mind because we wanted to send our audience on this journey to the edge of the solar system with Brad.

Ruth Negga and Brad Pitt star in “Ad Astra”.

There is one shot that we do change point-of-view and it was on purpose. There is one shot of Ruth after she drops him off to give his message from Mars, where we stay with her and the camera dollies back with her. It was kind of a warning to the audience — subconsciously saying, “Hey, this person is going to be an important character coming up,” but without tipping off too much of the information. It was more of a subtle thing — shift in point-of-view. And that’s the only time.

AXELRAD: Also because it stood out by itself, it was the only big break and I think was more powerful as a result.

HULLFISH: To explain that to the audience who hasn’t seen the movie — without giving away anything: this character Ruth is walking down a hallway with Roy, Brad Pitt’s character, and somebody else meets him. And Roy and the other guy walk away and instead of staying with the people that you would think you would stay with the camera turns and goes with her as she leaves them, so that’s the difference. That’s really interesting.

Lee, have you done films — or is your current film one — where you feel like you can or need to switch perspective?

HAUGEN: My current film, Keyhole Garden, is definitely one that changes point-of-view quite a bit. It’s six main characters shifting through time, perspective and point-of-view throughout the whole film intercutting between all of them. Since there are many characters set up in different places, we need to make sure the audience cares about each one of them, especially right away. Then we tie them all together and allow the story to unfold as it does.

It’s almost the complete opposite of Ad Astra. With Ad Astra, the number one thing is that we need our audience to understand Roy, care about him and root for him on this journey. It’s always a fun challenge to keep your audience engaged in and care about your characters.

HULLFISH: The other thing I talk about a lot is structure. Did the structure change at all?

The opening scene I believe is of Roy’s character taking or a psychological test. Is that the way the movie always started or did you feel like that better put the audience in with him? You guys are both smiling.

AXELRAD: James — to his credit — he’s writer-director and he co-wrote this with Ethan Gross, but every film I’ve done with him — and it’s been five up to now — he’s very willing to do a complete rewrite in post-production, so he’s not so precious about the written word. He allows the actors to bring what they bring to the story which ultimately transforms what was written on the page — either through ad-libs or just an actor having an idea of working within the framework of the script.

So post-production being the final rewrite, it was very fluid. It did change quite a bit from the script. We experimented quite a lot. And James — being the meticulous filmmaker he is — we tried almost every variation mathematically possible in putting the story together.

The film began in many different ways. They did some additional shooting at the end which I think was the big breakthrough– especially for the ending. This was the consensus the production team came up with working on a studio movie. There is a lot of collaboration going on and ultimately I think we finally got it working to where everyone was satisfied and it best served the story.

HULLFISH: It seemed like although it’s a linear story — the guy gets on a spaceship and leaves Earth — there were a lot of opportunities to change the structure — various scenes that you could easily move around. Was that a challenge or the fun thing?

HAUGEN: Some of the things that shifted around quite a bit were the psych evaluations because those were things that allowed us to give the audience insight into where Roy was at a specific point in time — and video messages as well.

Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

We were able to manipulate them to heighten the tension or remind people what Roy is going through at that time.

HULLFISH: The other thing that I noticed was that there are big action set-pieces and there are also much more intimate in-your-head scenes. Did you find that you needed to manipulate those to keep the movie from dragging at any one point or you know trying to keep all the action spread out a little bit?

AXELRAD: This film was a particular challenge, especially for James. Some people have said that this is a beautiful film filled with wonderful production value, but at its heart is a very simple story about the heart. Throughout the film, the further we venture into space, the deeper we dive into the subconscious mind — the film itself is tackling existential issues about mankind’s place in the cosmos and reflections on who we are as a human race; being about identity and how we relate to each other. Those are very meta concepts. How do you really portray that in a feature film, especially a film that you want to be somewhat commercial for a mass audience? The action sequences were strategically placed throughout, mostly to support the more introspective scenes. We wanted to start off with a bang — which was the fall from the space antenna and then the lunar rover chase. The climbing of the rocket is more of a hypnotic, almost dream sequence in my opinion.

If you look at the subtext of Roy getting into the subconscious and us diving into the subconscious. His diving under the water — the cooling liquid under the rocket — I mean it’s almost intended to be a dreamlike sequence. He dives down — the subconscious mind as we dream gives us superpowers in a way. He climbs a rocket to reach his father. The whole story is mythological. Later in the film, it definitely becomes more metaphysical. Hopefully, the action sequences are paced in a way that it fits within the more hypnotic qualities of the film.

HAUGEN: We wanted to start out with a bang for the audience to enjoy. Space travel can be very unpredictable. As you go on this journey, you learn space is a terrifying place and a lot of bad things can happen in a short amount of time. Those other set-pieces and other things that happen on his journey act as a warning sign of: “should we really be going out this far as a human race? Is this a good idea?”

HULLFISH: There are a bunch of big action sequences but there’s also a lot of narration. Did you guys find yourselves having to scratch that kind of stuff or rewrite stuff in post with the director? Talk to me a little about the use of narration throughout the film?

AXELRAD: While not part of the original script, the voice-over narration was discussed between James and Brad both during preproduction and during production — that Brad would kind of do a stream of consciousness recording of the character’s thoughts. We didn’t have that as part of the script stage. So we edited the film without it and then this was later added in post.

Brad came in a couple of times and did a lot of ad-libbing — some of it was written. So there is a version of the film that exists without the voiceover and there is a version obviously that came out with it and ultimately I think it really enhances the film overall — the themes and the psychology.

This was an example of how James continues to manipulate the material in post and how he’s not precious to the original script. The final rewrite is in post and we were fortunate enough to work with some really good recordings from Brad.

As we developed the story, it became clear the fact that Roy is reclusive. How do you get into the mind of someone who’s so stoic and so closed off? The film itself is about his awakening — his catharsis and his metamorphosis into realizing what it is to be human: reaching for the stars but knowing that what he has is right in front of him and he doesn’t see it. So the narration was something we added later during the editing process, and that was a constant fluid rewrite collaboration between James and Brad Pitt. It changed as we changed the story during the editing process, but ultimately the goal was to get into Roy’s head as best as we can.

HULLFISH: Was it hard to keep a straight face with Lee scratching tracks for Brad Pitt?

HAUGEN: I do a pretty good Brad Pitt.

HULLFISH: Let’s hear it! I’m ready!

HAUGEN: James actually does an amazing Brad Pitt impression, and a Tommy Lee impression. He did all the ADR for us.

The other thing for the voiceover: when we were recording it, we wanted to make it feel more like stream-of-consciousness — to not be just narrating the film. We wanted it to really feel like you’re understanding what Brad’s character is thinking about.

The first ADR session to record voiceover with Brad we had quite a few lines written down and we were planning on taking a full day to do it, but Brad sat down and he just went on a run and did everything in a one-hour straight take. He just kept going. Nobody knew what he was going to do but it was amazing.

AXELRAD: This is a testament to James. The fact that he will let the written word evolve.

Editors Lee Haugen, John Axelrad, ACE, and additional editor Scott Morris

You’ve heard that the script is the first stage; production is the second rewrite, and post-production is the final rewrite. The editing room — for James — is a blank canvas. It empowers us as editors and empowers James as a filmmaker. It doesn’t surprise me that we would come up with ideas like that to make the film transcend what it was on the page.

Brad definitely improvised quite a lot. Some of it was written. Some of it was improvised, so that was one of the more challenging things to find the right words in the end and to craft the story as a whole with the narration.

HULLFISH: Talk to me about having to edit that ad-libbed or improvised stuff because then you’re not just choosing your favorite take of a specific line, you’re choosing your favorite LINE. You’re choosing content over just performance.

HAUGEN: That’s something that was a great asset to have and also very challenging. He would come up with these great lines or James would come up with great lines and it would kind of shift the way scenes would play and that would also affect other things around it. So we were constantly re-editing to elevate each scene as we went along.

HULLFISH: One of the things that I spotted was a couple of video montages and even some audio montages. Were those written as montages or were they things you had to condense from full scenes or maybe some of each?

AXELRAD: There wasn’t anything I think that we condensed or took bigger sequences and cut down. Maybe the swimming in the rocket coolant liquid underneath the rocket. That probably changed from the way it was originally intended.

It’s the natural part of the editing process. There were scenes that were cut down quite a bit. Some scenes towards the end were intercut. And that wasn’t necessarily part of the original script.

The whole sound design was so paramount to making the film work, and you hear some weird sound at the beginning of the film that sounds like “bluh-bluh-bluh… bluh-bluh-bluh.” It’s just this rhythm thing and it’s basically Tommy Lee Jones’ character saying “I love you, my son. I love you, my son. I love you, my son.” Gary Rydstrom did a wonderful job with the sound design and used a lot of words and stretched them and manipulated them into a drone-like audio montage.

We were not short of visually fascinating images. Part of the process was to condense where we could.

HULLFISH: Since that sonic landscape was so important, did it change when you got the final of that? Did it affect things or were you guys getting elements that you could put in as you went? Talk to me a little bit about sound design and kind of when it happened and what you guys did yourselves.

Screenshot of the Avid editing timeline mid-way through the edit process.

HAUGEN: Being on a larger budget studio film, we did have the benefit of having a sound team early on. Doug Murray was able to get to work with us while we were editing. And he was able to develop some amazing sounds and give them to us early, and those did affect certain points of the story that we were editing. We would just feed off of each other and we’d come up with cool ideas. He’d come up with amazing concepts and we would extend the cut or we’d shorten the cut or we’d pace it out differently– because once you add sound you add a whole other element to the building blocks of a scene, and it can make it feel very different.

AXELRAD: Doug Murray started the film and was in-house as was our postvis team. We had amazing postvis along with the previs. Adam Avery was our VFX editor and Eddy Garcia was the VFX assistant editor. It was just fascinating to be able to go down the hall and say, “Hey, we’ve got a new idea. Can you mock something up?” And in a few hours, he would not only do it but go beyond what we thought about. He would creatively add to the concepts and then we would take that and play with it. The whole post process was so fluid that way, where we were collaborating and it was a very open editing room.

When I work I encourage having collaboration. Lee and I go back and forth with ideas. Scott Morris — who was our first assistant and then got promoted to additional editor on the film — and all the assistants on the team were involved. We encouraged ideas in all departments — from sound to visual effects and music.

Max Richter started composing very early. I always tell the composer “Hey, if there’s something in the edit that doesn’t quite work and you want to musically do something and want us to potentially change the edit, I’m completely open to that.” I think that’s what the editing process should be — just a synergy of all the departments working together for the best film possible.

Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”

HULLFISH: You mentioned Max Richter’s score. It’s very different. It’s very electronic….

AXELRAD: It wasn’t all Max. I think some of the electronic stuff you heard — there were more composers that contributed towards the end of the process. The main themes you hear throughout the film is Max’s minimalist music.

HULLFISH: Did you guys temp with stuff from Max? Or was he delivering stuff as you went?

AXELRAD: We did. Definitely. We used a lot of Max from previous scores and from his own personal compositions. I think for a while we used his version of Vivaldi. He did just a beautiful composition that we temped with at the beginning.

James loves to temp with classical music and we use a lot of Wagner. In many of his past films, we use Puccini, who is a personal favorite of James. But this one seemed to be a very Wagner-heavy film. And we temped with Eliane Radigue — she has this almost transcendent drone. James definitely likes drones and minimalism. So a lot of that was used throughout the film and then Max came in and did his own themes and the film really evolved once he got into it.

HAUGEN: We did have a little Pink Floyd in there for a while too.

AXELRAD: We couldn’t afford it. So it was a non-starter anyway. Pink Floyd wasn’t gonna give it up.

HULLFISH: There were times when you didn’t use music where I think you might have. There is an emotional message to Eve. Roy leaves and my recollection of that is that there’s no music under what you would think: “Oh, let’s put some emotional music under here.” Can you talk about that decision?

L to R: Donald Sutherland, Brad Pitt and Sean Blakemore star in “Ad Astra”.

HAUGEN: We do like to use silence too, throughout the film. There are parts where you don’t have music and it’s more raw, emotional and real. We wanted the audience to just be in his head and feel what he’s feeling. We didn’t want to manipulate it as much with music. Let the audience see it on Brad’s face and through his tone and his voice.

AXELRAD: And to further that point: I call it the “S” word because studios get very nervous when you start proposing long stretches of silence. But it’s a very brave thing to do, especially when you’re making a film about outer space where the silence is just deafening. And the whole idea is that Roy goes through this transformation in his isolation and that the silence itself causes him to reflect inward and really try to dive into the subconscious mind. And for the viewer, it’s to experience what space is and the idea of isolation.

Lee and I have both worked on films that dealt with isolation. We worked on Papillon and The Lost City of Z. This concept is very hard to convey– especially when you’re trying to get so interior to one’s thought process. So towards the end of the film, we did employ much more stretches of silence. Not having music on certain scenes such as the one you mentioned — the message to Eve — was really just to buck the trend of what’s expected and to punctuate certain scenes with more emotion by having less instead of having more.

HULLFISH: I have this note that I wrote in a dark movie theater “Dissolve. Pitt appears.” Was there a really long dissolve?

AXELRAD: Yeah. That was in the journey to Neptune.

Towards the end of the process, Hank Corwin came on board and he really worked on that whole sequence — the journey to Neptune.

Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

That sequence had many different iterations. At first, it was more lyrical, but as we put the film together the desire was really to demonstrate the fractured state of his psychology. Hank was very inventive and took that whole sequence and went with it. That sequence ends with an empty chair and it dissolves to show Roy as he appears in it. This is right before we reveal the planet Neptune. The challenge was: “How do you convey such a long journey and how arduous it is but not bore the audience to death?”

We have to give credit to Hank for those ideas and that particular sequence.

HULLFISH: On a lot of this movie, you don’t have the structure of dialogue to carry you. Can you talk about the inventiveness of anything that you guys had to do or that Hank had to do to be able to carry some of those scenes that were largely, “Hey, it’s a journey. How do we portray this?”.

AXELRAD: Yeah. This is a tough one. When editing I adhere to the philosophy that less is more. I believe you can shape the best performances around what is not said through more nuanced cues of facial expression and gesture. I think our proud moments in the film as editors are when we can craft something that transcends what is written and what is photographed– to achieve a compelling synergy of sound, music, and performance to create heightened emotions. And that’s one of the more challenging things to do.

As challenging as it was to edit the lunar rover chase sequence, that really did not compare to some of the more nuanced drama sequences where there wasn’t much dialogue. That’s really challenging as an editor and rewarding at the same time: when we can pull something off that we don’t have the written word and dialogue to structure around. And so it was very malleable because there were so many different ways we could do it and we did keep experimenting with that. Brad just delivered such a nuanced, subtle performance — so rich with his gestures and thoughts. And that was the goal really — to get inside his head without having to use much dialogue in those places.

HULLFISH: How did you two collaborate as editors — or even with Hank. How are you breaking up responsibilities and deciding what stays and what doesn’t?

HAUGEN: Collaboration is a great word to describe the way that John and I work together. During the dailies process, we each would grab a scene. We’d go through the process of editing the rough assembly together and then right away we would show it to each other and to our assistant editors. We’d get everybody’s opinion and outside perspective on what was working and what wasn’t working.

Sometimes we would trade scenes just to try different things out. As we moved through the process to the director’s cut, we never took sole responsibility for each scene by itself. I don’t think there’s a frame on the film that John and I both didn’t touch. It’s a process that we continually kept working through — a very fluid process between John and me to allow us to try and find the best scene possible.

AXELRAD: Some editors on an editing team may say, “OK, I’ll do this part of the film. You do this part of the film.” Personally, I think the film benefits with more brains working on everything. I think James appreciated that too.

When Lee and I first started working together with James on The Lost City of Z, it took James a little while to warm up to the idea of “Hey, I’ve got two editors here.” A lot of times we would work with both of us in the room and we would brainstorm. Either Lee or I was at the controls — depending on whose room it was — and we would brainstorm together with James.

If Lee was working and we were in his room, I might say, “Well, what about this?” And James would say, “Great idea! Go try it.” And I would disappear into my room and then James would later come in with Lee and we’d work in my room for the rest of the day.

Lee Haugen, Scott Morris, and John Axelrad, ACE

And Scott Morris, who got promoted to additional editor, became very, very instrumental — especially towards the end of the process. There was more than just Lee and me. Our other assistants – Jared Simon, Jason Voss, and Eddy Garcia – also contributed ideas, and I think that it ultimately made the film a better experience. We’re not serving ourselves and our egos. We’re serving the film, so there is no pride in ownership of certain things within the movie.

HULLFISH: I cut a bunch of movies with a director that also writes and you would think that those kinds of director/writers would be a bit previous with their words, but I know it’s not for Alex — the director I work with — and it sounds like it’s not for James either.

AXELRAD: Certain directors that I’ve worked with — I remember early in my career I worked with a director who will go unnamed — but I would show him the cut and he’d say, “Yeah, but you cut out two words.” And I would say, “Well yeah, because they’re not quite necessary.” But he was insistent on the final cut being word-for-word to the script that he wrote.

Just knowing the possibilities and potential of what we can do in post, I do think most directors — even those who have written — he or she would welcome the idea of improving — or in a way transforming — what was on the page, because you can’t necessarily convey nuance very well in a script. It’s why some novels may not necessarily translate well into movies. It’s just a different medium. The actors themselves bring their own interpretation to the script. And so I think the best-laid plans of a writer/director immediately goes out the window when you start collaborating with your actors. To see what they can bring to the themes of a movie with their performances. Sometimes it works — sometimes it doesn’t work.

Director James Gray (Photo by Kris Connor/20th Century Fox)

Joaquin Phoenix is a prime example. He’s such a brilliant method actor. James, I think, has done four films with him and I edited three with him. What Joaquin brings to it just elevates the material to a whole third dimension that pops off the page.

HULLFISH: I just interviewed the Joker editor and he said the same thing about him. Just incredible performances and a huge range and great technical skill.

I’m shocked that the narration was not a big part of this movie when it was originally written. I am shocked.

AXELRAD: I think it’s a good thing. What makes the film work? You throw out the blueprints. There is a version of the movie without the narration — without hearing his thoughts. But in the end, this was what the production team decided to include. James always maintained that this idea was discussed in pre-production to be an extension of the psych evaluations. It just wasn’t done until post.

HULLFISH: It’s an internal monologue more than it is narration.

AXELRAD: Yes. Internal monologue. So it’s not really narration. The film works without it, but it’s a different movie. So it wasn’t like the internal monologue throughout the film saved the picture. It just was an additive layer that helped us convey the themes we wanted to convey.

It was actually very liberating because things that audiences weren’t fully understanding — there are so many high concepts in this with technology and psychology – we were able to truncate scenes and parts of scenes that were purely expository: Why this person does this? Why does this character think this way? And it helped us to condense in so many ways. But it was just an added layer — the way that music is, the way that sound is.

HAUGEN: I think in the overall scheme of things the entire film is extremely complicated as far as editorial goes because we had so many different things to deal with — whether it was the dune buggy chase or the solitude. To find the right balance through editing, to make the movie soar to where it could go was very rewarding in the end.

It’s a rarity these days to work on a film with this large of a budget but really be an internal, arthouse-type film. To balance those elements was challenging, but also a lot of fun. Not too many times do we get to edit a shoot-out on the moon or a zero-G fight or a fall from a huge tower. And at the same time to get such an amazing performance from an actor that just took it to a whole other level. For us, that was the joy of being able to work on this film. We hope they do keep making these types of films.

AXELRAD: It’s got a lot of commercial elements. Obviously we want the biggest audience possible watching it. But it’s got a lot of more independent or arthouse elements as well. I think that with sequels and everything out these days, there isn’t a whole lot that’s just purely original. And studios tend to be a bit cautious. I mean it’s a huge investment. Any type of film is.

Lee and I are just eternally grateful to be able to work with such a broad canvas and really to be able to shape the film in many different ways in the editing process. It’s why the editing on this film took a while because there are so many moving parts.

Allen Maris, who is our Visual Effects Supervisor, just went above and beyond the call of duty, because visual effects — as expensive as they are — were part of the process to fully develop the film.

Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

The whole sequence of the lunar rover chase worked as scripted, but it became clear that it was too claustrophobic. We needed geography, and so we added those high angle shots looking down, which not only helped clarify geography, but it also heightened the tension: to see these pirate rovers encroaching upon our hero rover. All of this was in the editing process. That’s what was such a joy — is that it wasn’t just paint-by-numbers. We were truly creating as we went along.

HULLFISH: I don’t know how to describe it, but it seems like a movie that could literally go any way. It seems like the editing possibilities in this particular film — because all films, of course, are like that — but the editing possibilities seem endless.

AXELRAD: It was. It was like the void of space. And honestly, if they gave us more time, the editing would continue. There were infinite possibilities.

HAUGEN: We did have to get from Point A to Point B eventually but throughout that journey, there were a lot of different options. Ultimately, we wanted to convey that the inner journey Roy experiences is just as meaningful as the outward journey to Neptune.

HULLFISH: For a cut-and-dried effects film where you say, “Hey, look! Here’s the effects sequence. I’m gonna cut it early in dailies and I’m going to deliver it to the effects house and they’re gonna do it and it’s gonna be done.” That does not sound like what happened with you guys.

HAUGEN: No. For example, the falling tower sequence at the beginning — once we started to get the visual effects in for that – everybody was in love with it and thought it was fantastic. But we actually wanted to expand it. It had a lot of different elements and one of those elements was a skydiver who would go up as high as he could and jump. We actually had to send him back out to do some more jumping to add more of the elements for the falling and to extend the moment even more.

AXELRAD: Yeah, it wasn’t until we started screening for test audiences and they loved the sequence that we decided, “OK, let’s expand it!” And those were very difficult VFX to get right. Nothing was cut-and-dry and I think that allowed us to bring the film to the place where it wound up.

HULLFISH: I talked to somebody else that was said that there was a visual effect in their movie that when audiences saw it they wanted more time to look at the amazing shot. When you guys are cutting it, you’re looking maybe at a graphic that says “wide shot goes here” or something, or possibly some clunky previs, but you don’t know it’s gonna be something you want to watch for 20 seconds until you see the final shot.

AXELRAD: It was very illuminating working on such a visual-effects-heavy show. The visual effects weren’t all preplanned because you’re dealing with outer space and the story itself evolving the way it did. So Allen Maris stayed with us to the very end and just allowed us and James and Brad and everyone involved just to work with this canvas to let the movie transcend to new heights.

Every day we worked in the editing room with James and it just made the film better and better.

HULLFISH: Lee, John, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate you talking to me about this movie. Good luck with your next projects.

Art of the Cut book cover
Art of the Cut: Conversations with Film and TV Editors

AXELRAD: Thank you much.

HAUGEN: Thanks, Steve. Bye.

To read more interviews in the Art of the Cut series, check out THIS LINK and follow me on Twitter @stevehullfish. or IMDB

The first 50 interviews in the series provided the material for the book, “Art of the Cut: Conversations with Film and TV Editors.” This is a unique book that breaks down interviews with many of the world’s best editors and organizes it into a virtual roundtable discussion centering on the topics editors care about. It is a powerful tool for experienced and aspiring editors alike. Cinemontage and CinemaEditor magazine both gave it rave reviews. No other book provides the breadth of opinion and experience. Combined, the editors featured in the book have edited for over 1,000 years on many of the most iconic, critically acclaimed and biggest box office hits in the history of cinema.

The post ART OF THE CUT with the editors of “Ad Astra” appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

Photographer Turns Symphony Hall into the World’s Largest Darkroom

During this year’s STORY conference in Nashville, TN, photographer Blake Wylie did something really cool. He turned a massive symphony hall into what might be the world’s largest darkroom so that he could capture and develop a tintype portrait on-stage, in front of an audience of 1,400 people.

The theme of this year’s conference was “liminal space,” and Wylie was one of several creatives who were invited to give presentations and speak in Nashville in September. In the past, he’s attended the conference to capture tintype portraits of the conference’s speakers and VIP guests; this year, thanks to “a half-crazy idea via Twitter,” he was one.

That’s how he found himself in the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, only mostly convinced that this would actually work.

Photo by Ashel Parsons

“The planned shoot was going to be of a live musician who would be performing on an open stage,” explains Wylie on his blog. “I normally shoot with strobes in rooms where the ceiling and walls are close. I get more light from some of the bounce. I also have the luxury of ensuring the subject is, for the most part, sitting still when I expose the plate.”

Which left Wylie wondering: “How does one prepare for this?”

Then there was the darkroom part of it all. How exactly do you turn a symphony hall into a functional darkroom?

“That’s where an expert lighting and video team came to the rescue,” says Wylie. “We worked through the timing of dimming the house lights, bringing up all red, and ensuring that no external sunlight was going to make its way in. Wet Plate photography has an effective ISO of under 5, so as long as we didn’t get anything full spectrum or UV, we *should* be good.”

He was still worried that it might not work, but he needn’t be. When the day came, and the lights went down, the hall took on that characteristic red glow and there were no major leaks to ruin his shot.

Here’s what the hall looked like from the audience, taken by his friend Adam Davis:

Photo by Adam Davis

And here’s a peek at Wylie at work, courtesy of photographer Ashel Parsons:

Photo by Ashel Parsons
Photo by Ashel Parsons
Photo by Ashel Parsons

Gear wise, Wylie tells PetaPixel that he was using a Century Studio camera from 1907 with a converted back for wet plate use, a reproduction Dallmeyer 3B lens (one of only 50 that were made as part of a crowd source campaign from a couple of years ago), and two old Speedotron strobes—one 4800Ws and the other 2400Ws.

So… did it work? If you’re asking, you’re not alone. Here’s Wylie, describing the anticipation in the hall on that day, as he waited to see if his portrait of cellist Okorie “OKCello” Johnson to appear on the plate:

You could feel the anticipation from the audience. Would it work? It felt really great when the plate appeared through the fix, and the crowd loved it. Even more of a surprise to everyone was that it was done as a triple exposure.

And here is that portrait:

Photo by Blake Wylie

Guiness World Records wasn’t on hand to “confirm” or officially call this the world’s largest darkroom. It may well not be. But the presentation remains both memorable and just plain cool.

To see more of Wylie’s impressive work, visit his website or give him a follow on Instagram. And a big thank you to Adam Davis and Ashel Parsons (@ashelphoto) for allowing us to use their images from this (potentially historic?) event.


Image credit: Photographs by Ashel Parsons, Adam Davis and Blake Wylie, all used with permission.