10 Great 2019 Movies With High Rotten Tomatoes Scores

During the last decade, Rotten Tomatoes has soared into the glorious position of the most popular film review-aggregation website in the world. While some (including a certain director on this list) would call it an oversimplification, its immense popularity is clear, due to its understandable algorithm and fascinating comparison between the tastes of professional critics and casual movie goers.

Whatever one’s opinion on the website is, it cannot be denied the influence it has on audiences around the globe and its consistency at picking out the best films from each year. With that being said, let’s have a look at ten great films from this year so far, with high Rotten Tomatoes scores.

 

10. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (United States, Martin Scorsese)

While Martin Scorsese is most known for his crime dramas, the Italian-American director has also consistently shown his capability with music documentaries, examples including the bittersweet The Last Waltz and the exceptionable George Harrison: Living in the Material World. The Oscar-winning director has even explored Bob Dylan before, with 2005’s No Direction Home, yet with Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story, he seems to blend the fictional and fantasy, culminating in a meandering music experience detailing Dylan’s 1975 ‘Rolling Thunder Revue’ concert tour.

It’s a strange but fascinating piece of film making, carried by Dylan’s beautiful outbursts of nihilism and melancholia. “Rolling Thunder was about nothing” he claims. Maybe so, but Scorsese uses the arbitrariness of the tour to make larger comments on a fuzzy time in America’s enchanting history. A sense of nostalgia and longing for a simpler time echoes throughout the bizarre tale, and at the centre, Bob Dylan shows us why he’s so adored across the world.

 

9. Woman at War (Iceland/Ukraine, Benedikt Erlingson)

A perfect black-comedy by Iceland’s very own Benedikt Erlingson, which uses climate paranoia (much like 2017’s First Reformed) to fuel its poignant, melancholic and comical story.

Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir plays Halla, a conductor for a choir who sets out to wreck electricity pylons and wires to cut the power supply of an aluminium plant in the Icelandic highlands. What ensues is a hilarious but deeply thought-provoking story of the extent people will go to fight for what they believe in.

 

8. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (United States, Quentin Tarantino)

After almost three decades in the film business, Quentin Tarantino is a household name. Known for his punchy dialogue, larger-than-life characters, excess of violence and love of feet, the Tennessee born writer and director returns to our screens with his 9th film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. With his previous two films set during the last years of slavery in America, suddenly seeing scene-stealing Brad Pitt casually wandering through the streets of 1969 Hollywood is a breath of fresh air.

A nostalgic and bittersweet tale carried by excellent performances and easily the most mature film from Tarantino this century. It doesn’t reach the heights of his earlier work, although most of us have stopped searching for anything as complete as Pulp Fiction for a while now. Nevertheless, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood sees Tarantino back to what he does best, and it’s beautiful.

 

7. Fighting With My Family (United Kingdom, Stephen Merchant)

Who would have guessed that fifteen years after The Office, Stephen Merchant would be directing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Vince Vaughn and Nick Frost (among others) in a film about wrestling? It’s definitely a strange combination, yet Merchant’s knack for storytelling as well as a clear passion for the subject creates a heart-warming story of family and comradery.

Fighting With My Family is at its best when focusing on its relationships, testing Paige’s (played wonderfully by Florence Pugh) familial bonds and asking questions of her mental and physical strength. However, it is Jack Lowden’s portrayal as Zak “Zodiac” Knight who steals the film, offering us a powerful performance which delves deep into the uncomfortable subject of stepping back and appreciating what you have. It truly is a beautiful story that deserves to be seen by wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans alike.

 

6. Apollo 11 (United States, Todd Douglas Miller)

apollo-11-buzz-aldrin-1969-courtesy-of-neon-cnn-films

Spoiler Alert: they pull it off. Directed by Todd Douglas Miller, Apollo 11 is a stunning documentary, detailing the 1969 mission to land the first men on the moon. However, what makes Apollo 11 such a fascinating and unique experience is the decision to only include archival footage, making the documentary completely devoid of any interviews, narration or recreations.

While one might consider this to be a negative, it makes the film a more authentic and encapsulating piece of cinema, overall culminating in 93 minutes of epic scope, telling the remarkable tale of one of humanities greatest triumphs.

James Gunn, Joss Whedon React to Scorsese’s Marvel Comments

The directors of Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers take on Martin Scorsese and his view that Marvel movies aren’t cinema. This outta be good.

Well, that didn’t take long. Also, this isn’t going away. Not anytime soon.

After Martin Scorsese’s opinions about Marvel Studios’ films became public, where he compared them to “theme parks” and said they are not cinema, two of Marvel’s most high-profile directors took to Twitter to challenge the Goodfellas director’s judgments.

James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vols. 1 and 2), praised one of Scorsese’s most infamous (and controversial) films in his valid (and classy) criticism of Scorsese’s comments:

Gunn went on to say: “That said, I will always love Scorsese, be grateful for his contribution to cinema, and can’t wait to see The Irishman. And I’m not saying religious zealotry is the same as not liking my movies, or in the same category. What I’m saying is I’m not fond of people judging things without actually seeing them, whether it’s a movie about Jesus or a genre.”

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Only A Few Days Left To Enter Filmsupply Edit Fest!

$80K of cash and gear are on the line!

Are you an aspiring trailer editor? A savvy advertiser? A lover of title sequences? Or are you just simply intrigued by the opportunity to, as Filmsupply puts it, “win enough cash to bathe in?” Well, you’re in luck: Filmsupply’s Edit Fest is happening NOW.

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Deluxe filed for bankruptcy, hopes to raise $115 million of new financing

Founded in 1915 by producer William Fox, Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc has filed for bankruptcy this October. It’s another sign of the drastic changes in the movie industry.

Deluxe Entertainment Services Group (Deluxe) is presented as the world’s leading video creation to distribution company offering global, end-to-end services and technology. The company creates, transforms, localizes, and distributes content, and, also according to Deluxe, the world’s leading content creators, broadcasters, OTTs and distributors rely on its experience and expertise. Deluxe began as a film processing laboratory, and evolved with the times, entering into new technological marketplaces, and accommodating digital technologies.

The decline of motion picture production on the east coast led to the closure of the New York, Chicago and Toronto plants. In May 2014, the Los Angeles plant closed, due to the motion picture industry’s conversion from film to digital production. August this year, Company 3, a subsidiary of Deluxe, announced the acquisition of Sixteen19, a world-class creative editorial, production and post services company based at 44 West 18th Street, New York. The information distributed then suggested that ”the combination of these industry trailblazers will unite two talented teams of artists and technicians, as well as fortify Company 3’s position as a leader in New York’s booming post-production market for feature film and episodic TV.”

Deluxe files bankruptcy hopes to raise $115 million of new financing

No impact on employees, customers and vendors

That same month, though, according to a Reuters report,  Moody’s Investors Service said that Deluxe had been struggling with negative cash flows because fewer movies were entering wide release, some movies were being shelved and DVD and Blu-ray sales and prices were falling. Variety’s article published yesterday notes that “Deluxe Entertainment, the debt-burdened post-production services company, filed a prepackaged bankruptcy on Thursday, as it seeks to hand over the company to its debt holders.”

Deluxe commenced the formal process of soliciting votes from lenders in support of the comprehensive financial restructuring and filed pre-packaged cases under Chapter 11, outlining a proposed plan of reorganization (the “Plan”) that details the terms of the financial restructuring, including the debt-for-equity exchange. This financial restructuring process, once completed, will reduce the Company’s long-term debt by well more than half and raise $115 million of new financing. As the Company finalizes the process in the coming weeks, Deluxe’s day-to-day operations will continue without interruption and with no impact on employees, customers and vendors.

Less debt, new financing

“We have been working to put Deluxe in a strong financial position, and these steps are the best and most efficient way to finalize and implement the comprehensive financial restructuring,” said John Wallace, Chief Executive Officer of Deluxe. “This process will allow us to strengthen our balance sheet and gain the financial flexibility and resources to drive investment in key growth strategies with no disruption to our business and no impact to our employees, customers, vendors and other business partners.”

Deluxe has requested that the Court schedule a confirmation hearing to approve the Plan on October 24, 2019 and expects to implement the transaction shortly thereafter. Once completed, the Company expects to emerge from the refinancing process with significantly less debt and additional new financing to support its operations and investments.

The post Deluxe filed for bankruptcy, hopes to raise $115 million of new financing appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

The literal invisible cut: mastering the Fluid Morph

Ethics aside, editors often have a legitimate need to hide a jump cut. Many editors are still unaware of morphing transitions, while others don’t know what to do when they go wrong. In this week’s Impossible Shot, I work through the process of applying and tweaking morphing transitions (Fluid Morph in Media Composer, Morph Cut in Premiere Pro, Smooth Cut in Resolve, and Flow in FCP X).

Step 1: The radio edit

The free video lesson actually covers two topics: Morph cuts and using Descript to build the radio edit. I’m such a rabid evangelist for Descript right now that I’m covering that in another article. So obviously the first step in crafting a single take from multiple clips or takes involves cutting together a “radio edit” of the monologue. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, watch this video.

Step 2: Apply the morph transition and trim

When you apply a transition to a cut, it will usually be added with a default length of a half to one second. Unless your talent is particularly lifeless, there’s often too much movement going on over the course of a second for the morph cut to convincingly blend action from the tail of the A side clip with the action of the incoming B side clip. Morph cuts often work best with 8-10 frames of cross dissolve, so simply by trimming the length of the transition you might see a dramatic improvement in the “invisibility” of the edit.

Step 3: Roll the edit point

Usually there are several frames of pause at an edit point, since we tend to cut between words and phrases. So if your initial morph doesn’t work, roll the edit point forwards and backwards and try to find a transition point where the head and body are a closer match. You’re actually looking for two things: matching position in frame, and matching direction of motion. If the head is turning to the left in the A side clip, but turning to the right in the B side clip, the morph won’t work even if the head is in the identical position in both clips at the cut point. That’s because the head will appear to unnaturally pivot, and the frames of the A and B side clips will quickly misalign spatially moving away from the cut point, causing the morph to fail. In fact, I would say that of the two things it’s more important to match the momentum of the motion than find a perfect match pose between the clips.

Step 4: Do some custom surgery

When all else fails, you can move into a compositor to do some deeper surgery. I show a relatively simple recipe for this in the video, hijacking Fusion’s stereoscopic toolset to perform a more advanced fluid morph, then eliminating artifacts via cleanplating. However even when this technique fails, there’s one more stop: a custom warp.

Using  either a spline or grid warp (my preference would always be a spline warper, but if you only have a grid warp, it’ll work in a pinch) you can match the specific features of the face and body of your on-screen talent, then morph  between the two. Why would this work when the morph transition failed? Because as a reasoning human being you’re matching mouth to mouth, corner of eye to corner of eye, chin to chin, etc. While some of the morphing transition tools use facial recognition to enhance their matches, they still ultimately resort to matching motion vectors, “guessing” which pixels in one frame match the pixels in the other. If the talent makes any radical facial expressions or drastically changes the profile of their face, this will inevitably generate errors in the motion vectors, errors that you the human master and ruler over your software can avoid by simple observation.

Of course in this brave new world of machine learning, it’s only a matter of time before the computer does this better than us. In fact there’s no real obstacle to this and I’m a little surprised there isn’t a tool in the market already. The only thing standing in the way of such a tool is a detailed data set with derived ground truth image sequences.

Ethics aside?

The very first words of this article were “ethics aside.” And yet I feel the need to discuss the ethical issue here before we wrap. My firm conviction is that this technique should only be used either for fictional narrative (dramatic works) or in situations where the on-camera talent has the opportunity to personally review the edits outside the pressure of deadlines and other distractions. In the latter case, the person in question should also be made fully aware of where the original edits were and what was omitted.

Anecdotally, this hits very close to home for me. Several years ago a large studio called me in to build a system to perform pristine morphs on some 4K footage. The Avid Fluid Morphs that looked fine during the offline edit were falling apart at 4K when being onlined. So I was asked to build a system in Nuke that would achieve a flawless result. I ended up adapting The Foundry’s Ocula tools along with some custom spline warps on tougher shots.

It was only after I had completed the work that I discovered the footage was for a documentary and that the on-screen subject was not necessarily privy to the edits. Someone suggested to me (I have no idea if it was true) that some of the non-verbal footage had been altered so that, for example, the subject appeared to smirk at an interviewer’s questions. Now this kind of low-life editing can be done even without fluid morphs (you can always cut to an interviewee smirking at a question of deep gravity and imply subtext that was never present during an interview), but morphing edits make the process that much more insidious.

Some of you may be wondering how I could have been duped into doing such a thing. Unfortunately, VFX artists are rarely provided with the sound that accompanies the picture (and that was the case here), so unless you can read lips (I can’t) there’s really no way of knowing what you’re working on. I’d like to add though that I do believe morph transitions are an invaluable tool for many other situations, where they actually help the presenter communicate their message without putting the audience to sleep with a thousand awkward pauses…

Watch it free

Like all the content on moviola.com, this Impossible Shot is completely free to watch. As usual, we keep the runtime short and try not to waste your time. Click below to watch the video.

The post The literal invisible cut: mastering the Fluid Morph appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

IFH 352: The Inside Story About Distribber Downfall, Film Aggregators and a Warning with Joe Dain

The Inside Story About Distribber Downfall, Film Aggregators and a Warning with Joe Dain Today we are going to BLOW THE LID off this entire Distribber/Film Aggregator mess. Today’s guest is Joe Dain from Terror Films. Joe has been on the frontlines of this Distribber debacle and has been affected in a large way. He…

The post IFH 352: The Inside Story About Distribber Downfall, Film Aggregators and a Warning with Joe Dain appeared first on Indie Film Hustle®.

Town Boy

Town Boy

Sathish Kumar

A 15-year collection of ordinary moments plucked from the flow of time, sensitive to the slow pulses and rhythm of the photographer’s hometown in South India. 

A green insect resting on a wall, a showering of fireworks at night, a group of girls reaching flowers from a tree, a friend smoking a cigarette bathed in blue lamplight: Town Boy is a collection of unremarkable moments carefully plucked from the flow of time. Sensitive to the slow pulses and rhythm of the everyday, Sathish Kumar has been capturing life unfold slowly around him for the past 15 years.

More a state of being rather than an intentional ‘project’, the trail of pictures that make up this beautiful series began to grow after the photographer moved from his hometown of Kanchipuram in the south of India to the hustle and bustle of Chennai. It was there, faced with the frenetic movement of the city, that the slower pace of his childhood became a precious substance—one that he would attune himself to through the lens of a camera.

In this interview, Kumar talks about discovering photography through his family and the joys of roaming aimlessly with a camera and capturing life’s tiny transformations.

Anaimalai Forest © Sathish Kumar

LensCulture: I’m curious about your early beginnings in photography. You mention an uncle with a studio. Tell me more. What drew you to the studio and sparked your interest in photography.

Sathish Kumar: My uncle grew up with my parents in Kanchipuram in South India. After his schooling, he moved to Bangalore and later in 1997 he started a commercial photo studio. During my school holidays I used to go to my uncle’s place in Bangalore and spend my free time there. The first time I stepped into the darkroom, I felt it was a very mysterious place—seeing the black and white prints coming out from a small chemical tray was magic for me. I was shown different tricks inside the darkroom, using lights and chemicals while processing film developing and printing. The spark and the sound of the flash lights hitting the umbrella outside the darkroom was also beautiful.

My uncle used to come back to visit my family once a year with gifts. Once, he gave a point-and-shoot camera to our family, and a cricket bat for me. I equally like playing cricket and taking photos. At that time, I wanted to be a sportsman, but I chose photography instead after going to school. My uncle suggested that I move from my town to the city for exposure and to get a college education. My father advised me to choose any course except Engineering, and that’s how I got into a visual communication course for photography in Chennai.

Bunny © Sathish Kumar

LC: What would you say are the main things you picked up from the studio? What kind of images was your uncle making and what was their influence on you?

SK: My uncle’s name is Ramesh, and he made studio portraits and also shot weddings for the past 21 years as a business. I am proud of him because he is commercially still active, and has worked from the film period right through to the digital era. Unfortunately, he stopped shooting after digital cameras came into the industry around 2005 because he was more comfortable in shooting in analog, but now he hires modern equipped photographers for his shoots and he runs the business.

What I picked up from him was an energy towards life without getting tired and the way he takes care of his family and friends. That’s my inspiration. While I was graduating, he gave me his film SLR camera to practice with. He influenced me a lot and it was down to him that I learned the process of photography.

Dove © Sathish Kumar

LC: Shooting your everyday world seems to be at the heart of your practice, since you first got your hands on your point-and-shoot to the work we are looking at today. How has your approach changed from the first steps of your journey?

SK: My journey began with shooting around my hometown. I used to carry my camera wherever I went, mostly on short trips with my friends. Most of them were engineers and had started jobs with a good salary; I was in a position where I had no idea what I was going to do with photography. I got access to the Internet at my home in 2009 and, through this, my approach changed by finding out about various photographers in India and around the world.

In the meantime, I started reading biographies, as well as science and history books. The biographies I read gave me a motivation towards life; I started shooting whatever I liked around me. This was the starting point. Later, I got a job assisting a Chennai-based commercial photographer for a year and learned how to earn a living through photography. More importantly around this time I found about Trikaya Photos, a small photography agency based in South India. Some of the photographers from Trikaya later became my friends and I got influenced by their work.

Somewhere in the village © Sathish Kumar

LC: There is a very strong material quality in your work. Can you tell me more about the way you make your photos? How important is working with analog film for you?

SK: I don’t plan about what I want to shoot. I don’t think too much. Mostly I shoot with an open mind, not bound to anything. My works are an expression of my personal feelings: I just shoot what I love and whatever is special to me to remember. And also, for others to remember. I feel the moment we are living is important and so I record my time through images. I choose to shoot film because it makes me slow down. I love the feeling of film: it takes me back to my teen days.

LC: Let’s talk a bit about your project, Town Boy. How did it first start? How long have you been working on it?

SK: I have never started Town Boy as a work. It happened with time. I just kept shooting my experiences over a period of 15 years and the images in this series are from my teens to this day. The essence of every new experience as I grew up was recorded with my camera: roaming around the neighborhood, meeting family, old friends, most times making new ones. At some point I had to move to a large city for work. As life in the city got suffocating, I began to seek relief by going back to my town or by going on treks, to take a deep breath, to be able to go back to the demands of the city. Town Boy is an observation of this gradual transformation into who I am today. This string of images are about my coming of age, my movement from a small town to a cosmopolitan city. To somehow fit into this contemporary world.

Guest outside home stay inside the forest © Sathish Kumar

LC: This move from town to city seems to be an anchor event that everything revolves around. It’s interesting that the new environment of the big city was not your chosen protagonist here—rather the slower rhythms of going back to your childhood home. Can you tell me a bit about what drew you to focusing on home rather than your new surroundings?

SK: I feel that time flows faster in the city and most of the people in the city are in a hurry. It does not inspire me. When I travel outside the city I live in, the time flows slow and calm. Meeting new people and places are always such a beautiful experience where I keep learning something new.

LC: The project features photos from your early youth to recent images. How did you relationship to home change after your move? Was it like you were discovering it anew? Can you sense a change in the way you were photographing too?

SK: I sense the feeling of the butterfly effect and the flow of time after shifting to the city. I miss my family because of the distance. It’s a new way of understanding the transformation in my life. While there is a greater appreciation for my hometown in this sense, my way of photographing has always been intuitive and it remains this way even now. I hope my images gives the flavor of South India.

Girls in school uniform © Sathish Kumar

LC: Looking at the pictures, I get a sense of how important the camera is for you in daily life; a way to relate to the things around you. What does it enable for you?

SK: The camera is a time machine that converts my memories and experiences into the physical form of the world around me.

Enjoy more great photography:

Portrait of a boy near my hometown
Moving family
Girl in Ooty
Trekking
Cyclone
Western ghats
Dental clinic
Diwali celebrations
Calf
Friend
Elephant

Adobe releases Photoshop Elements 2020 with new AI powered effects

Adobe has released the new Photoshop Elements 2020 (Click here to see all features). It offers new AI tools and It goes in the same direction as Luminar 4 is doing (Click here). AI  and Computational photography is the future.…

The post Adobe releases Photoshop Elements 2020 with new AI powered effects appeared first on sonyalpharumors.

The Academy Dissects a Hidden History of Cinematography

On September 23, 2019, author Christopher Beach lectured about the invaluable field of cinematography at the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood, California. Author of the recent cinema crafts book A Hidden History of Film Style, from the University of California Press, Beach dissected the contributions of the cinematographer in some […]

The post The Academy Dissects a Hidden History of Cinematography appeared first on Below the Line.

DOWNTON ABBEY: Kyle McCulloch – VFX Supervisor – Framestore

In 2017, Kyle McCulloch had explained the work of Framestore for THOR: RAGNAROK. He then worked on MARY POPPINS RETURNS and HOBBS & SHAW.

How did you and Framestore get involved on this show?
Because of our involvement on a project of a similar size (DARKEST HOUR), we were asked to come in and take a meeting with the team in the early days of prep to talk about some of the challenges they faced that might require VFX support. We really hit it off in that meetup, and they asked us to be a part of the team.

How was the collaboration with director Michael Engler?
Working with Michael was one of the easiest and most collaborative director relationships I’ve had. He was easy to talk to, and had a really deep working knowledge of the world of Downton and what he wanted for this film.


What were his expectations and approach about the visual effects?
Because this wasn’t a big, VFX driven project, it was important that we had a soft footprint during the shoot, while delivering the most invisible work possible. He trusted us to deliver what he needed, while staying out of the way of the shooting crew.


What are the main challenges with a period movie?
More than some other types of film, it was key that our work be invisible. In spite of the number of shots we produced for them, the hope was that most people would never think there was any VFX involvement.


Can you elaborate about the train creation and the train station?
The locations team worked tirelessly to find real, historical places in the UK to film to create the realism that the filmmakers wanted. Sadly, there are no train stations left that look even similar to the historic Kings Cross, so we knew from the beginning that we had to build it digitally. We sourced one train engine with a handful of cars, and shot some plates of it at a train platform in Northern England. From there, we replaced most of what was filmed with our CG environment and additional trains.


Did you enhance the beautiful Highclere Castle?
The only VFX work on Highclere was the occasional fix to remove more modern changes or additions to the building, making sure it was completely period correct.

Can you tell us more about the Castle environment creation?
The filmmakers wanted Downton to be as idealised as possible, making sure the world of the Crawley family looked beautiful. As such, the VFX team were asked to make sure the lawns and gardens looked pristine, that no crew or modern items could be seen, and that certain views were framed perfectly.


The environment is seen in various lighting conditions from inside the Castle. How did you manage this aspect?
Because of the different times of day and a wide variety of views seen in the film, most shots had their own bespoke matte paintings to ensure everything matched perfectly with the photography.

Can you explain in detail about the creation of Buckingham Palace?
Modern day Buckingham palace is gleaming and clean, while at the time of Downton, it was sooty, dirty, and lacking the modern layouts and additions that can be seen today. We used matte painting, paint, and a variety of comp tricks to make it match the reference photos of the period Palace.

How did you enhance the village of Downton?
Laycock Village stood in for Downton for the parade scene, and while much of it is correctly period, there were a myriad of details that needed fixing. We went through each plate with a fine tooth comb to remove wires, aerials, and modern building materials. We also re-paved many of the streets and sidewalks to remove more modern patching and fixing on those surfaces that wasn’t available at the time.


Can you elaborate about your work on the Military Parade?
There were two main elements to the Military Parade that required VFX help. The first was the crowds watching the parade – we didn’t have enough extras to fill the frames the way we wanted, so the DOP and I worked together to line up and shoot splitscreens and replications to create a sense of scale for the crowds.

The other portion of our work related to the field the parade takes place on – it’s normally a football pitch, and as such had paint lines and many bald/muddy patches on the grass. We fixed all of that in post, so that it looked pristine.


Which shot or sequence was the most challenging?
The trickiest shot we did was in the opening sequence, where the letter is being delivered to Downtown. For the TV show, all the ‘upstairs’ sets were shot at Highclere Castle, and the ‘downstairs’ were all on sets. The filmmakers really wanted to have a single shot that took us from Highclere into the downstairs sets, to really convince the audience they were in the same place. We didn’t have the budget to do a motion control camera, so we worked with the DOP to plan two separate steadicam shots – one at Highclere and one on the sets – that would be stitched together.

Because the camera work was all handheld, the work in post was quite extensive. We had to separate, rebuild, and reproject huge portions of the interior hallways to get it to line up with the A side plate. And following the butler from the doorway, down into the hallway ( which required two different takes of him, on two different days), took a very talented comp team many weeks to tie together invisibly. I’m quite proud of that shot because I think it’s really invisible – you can’t tell that we did anything, nor can you tell how hard it was!


What is your favorite shot or sequence?
The final drone shot of Highclere is one of my favorites. I think it would surprise a lot of people how much work we had to do to that plate to make it look like it does!

What is your best memory on this show?
I really enjoyed shooting this film. The team had all worked together for many years, and had an easy working relationship. The cast were all happy to be back and enjoying the project, so it made for a very enjoyable, collaborative shoot.


How long have you worked on this show?
10 months.

What’s the VFX shots count?
About 180 shots.

What was the size of your team?
About 30 people.

A big thanks for your time.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?
Framestore: Dedicated page about DOWNTON ABBEY on Framestore website.

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2019

The post DOWNTON ABBEY: Kyle McCulloch – VFX Supervisor – Framestore appeared first on The Art of VFX.

How Pixar’s ‘Real’ Fake Cameras Make Their Movies Look So Realistic

You’d assume split diopters and anamorphic lenses are a live-action film thing. Just don’t tell that to Pixar.

The Toy Story franchise has always been ahead of the curve in terms of innovation in animation, but Toy Story 4 is an absolute visual marvel. Toy Story 4 was able to achieve an aesthetic that looks entirely realistic and fantastical at the same time, a perfect combination considering that it’s a film about toys that come to life and have to navigate a world not built for them.

Pixar took things like light behavior, character movement, and friggin’ fur — which looks utterly primitive in the first film, compared to the recent fourthquel (Spud has nothing on Antique Shop Cat) — and pushed them further than anyone could have expected. Another thing Pixar incorporated into their latest film that next-levels their cinematic vision is the use of virtual cinema cameras and lenses.

Evan Puschak, also known as Nerdwriter, digs into Pixar’s use of “real” fake cameras, lenses, and cinematic techniques in their latest films in the video below:

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Photographer Captures Scary Shot of a Brown Bear Standing Right Behind Two Fishermen

21-year-old wildlife photographer Robert Hawthorne recently captured one the most striking photographs of his career when he spotted a brown bear eyeing a pair of unsuspecting fishermen in Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Hawthorne, a Montana-based wildlife photographer, was guiding a photo tour in the national park when he spotted the bear. And while it might seem like a reason to start yelling out frantic warnings immediately, Hawthorne knew from experience that the two fishermen weren’t actually in any real danger.

“When given protection such as a habitat like Katmai National Park, and especially when bears are so focused on a single food source like salmon, close and passive encounters can happen daily without risk of attack,” says Hawthorne. “The bear truly was not interested in the fishermen, although he may have been interested to see if they had caught a fish for stealing.”

That’s why he took the time to take a photo before warning the unsuspecting duo. And that’s why this photo looks far more “chilling” than it actually is:

“This is more of a common occurrence than you think. The bears walk up and down the banks looking to find sockeye salmon to catch,” continues Hawthorne. “It can happen several times a day that you have a bear walk close behind you. The bear was looking right past the fishermen into the water hoping to see salmon ready for the catching.”

As Hawthorne tells it, the fishermen were largely un-phased when he brought their attention to the bear. “The fishermen did have a good startle when they realized their spectator,” he remembers, “but it was clear he was not threatening so they quickly returned to fishing.”

They, like Hawthorne, must have known there was no real danger. That said, we don’t personally know anyone who would simply “quickly return to fishing” if one of these guys was standing a few feet away:

(via People)


Image credits: Photographs by Robert Hawthorne/Kennedy News, licensed for editorial use.

Video: iPhone records its 200ft fall from a plane over Iceland, is recovered a year later

Iceland Photo Tours pilot and photographer Haukur Snorrason has shared a video showing the descent of his iPhone 6S Plus as it fell from a small plane located about 200ft over Iceland. The incident happened more than a year ago; given the height and frozen tundra beneath, Snorrason had assumed at the time that his tiny iPhone hadn’t survived the fall.

Around 13 months after the phone was dropped, a group of hikers discovered the device in a patch of moss, which had cushioned the blow and enabled the phone to survive the drop. The device powered on when tested, revealing Snorrason’s name and making it possible to reunite him with his lost device.

In addition to being nearly entirely functional (only the microphone was damaged), Snorrason discovered that the iPhone had recorded and saved a video of its rapid descent from the plane. The device landed face down on the moss, protecting the display from the elements while leaving the camera exposed to record the bright blue sky and Sun until its battery died.

How to Create a Focus Stack in Photoshop

Did you know that Photoshop has a built-in focus stacking function? This article explains about how it works and how to make the most of it.

The reason why Photoshop is a great tool for stacking images is the incredible amount of flexibility that it provides. Not only does it gives you full control over the entire process, it is also very forgiving in terms of alignment, which makes it the perfect software for handheld focus stacking.

The following stacked image was shot handheld and manually merged in PhotoShop, in spite of slight shifts of perspective between 10 total shot:

Step #1: Convert RAW Files

Before you get started, I recommend developing your .RAW files in Camera Raw and saving them as .jpeg files. This way you are sure to get the best image quality and it will speed up the process. Especially with larger stacks, it can take PhotoShop a while to process RAW files. Open all images in Camera Raw, and adjust the develop settings the same way for all of them.

Adjusting the develop settings beforehand, paying special attention to sharpening, is better for the image quality and easier on your computer.

Tip: When you are sharpening in Camera Raw, zoom in to 100% or 200% and hold the “alt”-key while adjusting the sliders for the best results.

“Save Images” as JPEG files once you’re done.

Step #2: Create a Stack

In the next step, we are going to load all the files of our stack as layers into a new document. To do so, go to Files > Scripts > Load Files into Stack.

Add all the images you need in the window that pops up, and tick the option to “Attempt to Automatically Align Layers”. By doing so, PS is going to try and align the layers and correct any shifts in perspective. Generally, this function works amazingly well, though PS might get confused if there is too much movement between frames with handheld stacks.

In the following step, we’ll put all the layers into a group. Then we’ll duplicate the folder (Ctrl + J) to create a back-up in case Photoshop makes a mistake in the next step.

Step #3: Auto-Blend Layers

Deactivate the new group and select the original stack. Go into the “Edit”-menu and select “Auto-Blend Layers…”

In the dialogue box that pops up, select “Stack” and tick both “Seamless tones and Colors” and “Content Aware Fill Transparent Areas,” then press “OK.”

Once Photoshop is done, zoom in and inspect the result. Sometimes mistakes happen, so scan the stacked image thoroughly.

If everything is fine, congratulations! All you have to do now is remove sensor dust (if there is any) and maybe crop the image a little.

Step #4: Touch Up the Results

But in case something went wrong, such as in my case, we can fix it with our deactivated back-up group.

A hair in the foreground confused Photoshop and resulted in a blurry area.

To fix this, we will use our back-up group, activating layer by layer until you find the correct bits that Photoshop missed.

To do this, activate the back-up group and open the folder. Select the bottom layer of the group and press “alt” while clicking on the eye-icon next to that layer. Now, only this layer is visible. Next add a black layer mask to it and activate the base layer called “Group 1 (merged)” in the example blow.

Now only that base layer is visible. Zoom out and invert the layer mask via “Ctrl”+”I” to detect if PS missed something in this layer. If not, set the layer mask back to black and move on to the next layer. Do this with each layer until you find the missing bit.

Once you do, set the layer mask to black and use a semi-hard brush on white to paint what PhotoShop missed. Repeat the process with as many layers as it takes.

When you’re done, you should have a perfect focus stack without any artifacts.

Step #5: Enjoy Your Focus-Stacked Image!


About the author: Maximilian Simson is a London-based portrait and event photographer who also shoots fine art and macro photography. To see more of his work, visit his website. This article was also published here, and is being republished with permission.

The latest iOS 13 developer beta gives us a sneak peek at Apple’s new Deep Fusion mode

Earlier this week, Apple released the first developer beta version of iOS 13 with support for its Deep Fusion technology built-in. Although there’s still plenty to learn about the feature, multiple developers have already taken the camera tech for a spin and shared their thoughts (and results) around the web.

To refresh, below is a brief explainer on what Deep Fusion is from our initial rundown on the feature:

‘Deep Fusion captures up to 9 frames and fuses them into a higher resolution 24MP image. Four short and four secondary frames are constantly buffered in memory, throwing away older frames to make room for newer ones […] After you press the shutter, one long exposure is taken (ostensibly to reduce noise), and subsequently all 9 frames are combined – ‘fused’ – presumably using a super resolution technique with tile-based alignment (described in the previous slide) to produce a blur and ghosting-free high resolution image.’

Although the tests are far from conclusive, we’ve rounded up a few sample images and comparisons shared by Twitter users from around the world. From the commentary shared by those who have tested the feature and from a brief analysis with our own eyes, Deep Fusion appears to work as advertised, bringing out more detail and clarity in images.

In addition to the above comparison, photographer Tyler Stalman also compared how Deep Fusion compares to the Smart HDR feature.

As noted by Halide co-founder Sebastiaan de With, it seems as though the image files captured with Deep Fusion are roughly twice the size of a standard photo.

Much remains to be seen about what Deep Fusion is actually capable of and how third-party developers can make the most of the technology, but it looks promising. There seems to be some confusion as well regarding whether Deep Fusion will work with Night Mode, but according to Apple guru John Gruber, the two are mutually exclusive, with Deep Fusion being applied to scenes between 600-10 lux while Night Mode kicks in at 10 or fewer lux.

We’ll know more for sure when we have a chance to test the new feature ourselves.

Instagram releases Restrict shadowbanning feature for all users

Instagram has fully released the ‘Restrict’ shadowban feature it first introduced as a test in July. The tool enables an Instagram user to restrict other accounts from posting content on and sending messages to their own account. As Instagram first explained this summer, Restrict is intended to limit the reach of bullies without fully blocking them, an action that may make the bullying worse.

The philosophy behind shadowbans on Instagram is simple: many users, particularly teens, face bullying from peers they know in real life, such as classmates. Blocking a bully on Instagram may cause that bully to increase their torment of the user in real life, which is why many users avoid blocking them.

In addition, and more broadly speaking, blocking an account that is posting abusive content may simply drive the bully to create a new account after the first one is blocked. For these reasons, blocking is not always the ideal way to prevent problematic comments and messages from being directed at an account.

Restrict is a solid alternative, enabling Instagram users to instead limit an unwanted account in a way that doesn’t alert the bully. Comments published by a restricted account are hidden by default and any private messages sent from the restricted account will be automatically sent to the recipient’s Message Request inbox. These restricted DMs can be read, but the sender won’t be alerted to the fact that their message was viewed.

Restrict is now available to all Instagram users.

Delkin Juggler Portable Cinema SSD: storage for professional video cameras

Delkin Juggler Portable Cinema SSD: storage for professional video cameras

Available in 1 and 2 TB, the new Juggler Portable Cinema SSD from Delkin Devices records flawless cinema-quality video footage, including 12 bit Blackmagic RAW 4K at 60fps.

Shoot and edit directly from the same SSD. That’s what Delkin Devices says you can do, with the new Juggler USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C Portable Cinema SSD, designed for the professional video market. From flawless 4K RAW video capture to plug-and-play editing, the Juggler offers everything professionals needs in a single card, says the company.

The Juggler SSD boasts recording speeds up to 1000MB/s for flawless cinema-quality video capture, including 12-bit Blackmagic RAW 4K DCI at 60fps. As bitrates in the Blackmagic Pocket 4K can reach up to 203MB/s, fast media is required to ensure that frames aren’t dropped or recordings aren’t randomly stopped.

Once filming has finished, the Juggler SSD can then be used to edit directly off of (1050MB/s transfer speed), streamlining one’s workflow and avoiding the hassle of transferring files from multiple cards. One important note to remember: the computer being used needs to have a built-in USB Type-C (USB-C) port in order to access the Juggler SSD.

Delkin Juggler Portable Cinema SSD: storage for professional video cameras

Works with Blackmagic Design cameras

In fact, the newest addition to Delkin Devices growing line of products, the Juggler is specially designed for use with today’s USB-C supported professional video cameras, including the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2, and is, says the company, faster than any other storage on the market. It features a removable USB-C cable and it also includes a mounting clip with a built-in 1/4-20″ male thread for direct camera attachment – no cage necessary.

Delkin Devices knows how important it is for cinematographers to have their cards in working order, so the Juggler SSDs come with a superior 48-hour replacement guarantee in addition to Delkin’s “13 Month Limited Warranty” policy. Delkin will happily replace any non-working card within 48 hours or less (not including weekends), prior to receiving your non-working card. You can also replace your drive over the counter at any authorized Delkin reseller. To activate your Delkin Juggler SSD’s free replacement program & lifetime warranty, simply register your drive online at Delkin Devices.

Juggler is available in 1TB and 2TB capacities, and retails at $299.99 and $499.99 respectively.

The post Delkin Juggler Portable Cinema SSD: storage for professional video cameras appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

Scorsese Says Marvel Movies Are ‘Not Cinema’ As ‘Joker,’ Based on His Work, Opens Wide

The timing of The Irishman director’s comment is fascinating.

Martin Scorsese is one of the most prolific and critically-acclaimed living filmmakers. He has a big new movie, Netflix’s The Irishman, coming out this fall. But beyond that, he’s a filmmaker’s filmmaker. A lover of the craft, a fan of the greats, a man who has devoted a ton of his time and energy to film preservation. He also champions the classics and makes sure they are available to future generations for study and enjoyment.

According to Comicbook.com, in an interview with Empire, Scorsese was asked about the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has taken the box office by storm in recent years and he had this to say:

“I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema… Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

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