Adobe today announced a new mobile app called Photoshop Camera, which “brings Photoshop magic directly to the point of capture.” It’s an AI-powered camera that helps people shoot and share imaginative, high-quality photos.
Powered by Adobe Sensei artificial intelligence, Photoshop Camera both enhances photo quality as well as puts a library of lenses and effects at your fingertips.
When shooting a photo with Photoshop Camera, the app instantly recognizes the subject of your photo and gives you recommendations. It will automatically apply features at the moment of capture based on what you’re shooting (e.g. portraits, landscapes, food, selfies) while retaining an original version of your photo as well.
The app also works to automatically improve the technical aspects of your photos — things like dynamic range, tonality, scene-type, and faces.
There will be a curated collection of lenses created by a community of well-known artists and influencers. American singer-songwriter Billie Eilish is one of the initial contributors, working with Adobe to create a limited-edition line of lenses inspired by her songs and music videos.
Photos created with Photoshop Camera can be easily shared to social media directly inside the app.
“Photoshop Camera is a major moment for us to broaden Adobe Creative Cloud as a creativity platform for all,” Adobe CTO Abhay Parasnis writes. “We are committed to investing in accessible tools like Photoshop Camera built for the next generation of consumers and creatives.
“Innovation and pushing the limits of creative expression have always been core to Adobe’s DNA. We are a company that sits at the intersection of deep science and the art of storytelling, and Photoshop Camera is a great example of our work to democratize creativity.”
Here’s a short 1-minute Adobe video introducing Photoshop Camera:
Adobe Photoshop Camera is available now as a preview for iOS and Android, and the general availability launch is scheduled for sometime in 2020.
Today, at Adobe MAX, Adobe announced Photoshop Camera a free AI-powered camera app for Android and iOS devices that will be publicly launched in 2020.
At the core of the camera app is Adobe’s AI technology, Sensei. When taking a photo, Sensei will recognize what the subject matter is and automatically suggest filters to match the content, both in real-time and as a filter after the capture. The filters, which are referred to as ‘lenses’ are curated and created by various ‘well-known artists and influencers,’ but Adobe is also accepting sign-ups for artists interesting in creating custom lenses.
In a blog post announcing the new app, Adobe says:
‘We built Photoshop Camera as a Sensei-first app on our journey to expand our focus to deliver creative tools, including Photoshop, for everyone. With Photoshop Camera you can capture, edit, and share stunning photos and moments – both natural and creative – using real-time Photoshop-grade magic right from the viewfinder, leaving you free to focus on storytelling with powerful tools and effects.’
One of the most impressive features of the Photoshop Camera app is an auto-masking mode that can intelligently select various parts of the images depending on what the particular lens in use is trying to achieve with the subject matter. A few examples include masking out and replacing the sky in an image as well as applying fake bokeh to a shot.
You can sign up for a limited preview version of the app on Adobe’s website. The final version is set for a 2020 release.
Adobe just launched Photoshop on iPad. After murmurings and a confirmation last year that the company would be bringing “full Photoshop” to the iPad, version 1.0 of the brand new app finally launched to the public today.
Photoshop on iPad uses the same code base as Photoshop for desktop — Adobe’s goal was to reimagine the “power, depth, and flexibility” of the desktop app for use on a tablet with a pencil and smaller touchscreen.
The new iPad app can open the exact same PSD files — even large, multi-layered ones — that the desktop app can, and you won’t have to deal with any conversions, compressions, importing, or exporting. Any edits you do will produce the exact same results.
The standard Photoshop toolbar is still on the left side, though it’s modernized for touch usage. A minimalistic layers panel is on the right, but you can also work with a detailed layers panel if you’d like the desktop experience.
Work done in the iPad app is automatically saved to the cloud through a new “cloud documents” system Adobe is rolling out. All files are saved as PSDs and are at your fingertips through any of your full Photoshop installations.
While the potential of the app is there, version 1.0 of the iPad app doesn’t include the full host of features found on the desktop app. Adobe focused its attention on compositing, basic retouching, and masking — “common tasks and workflows that we know will be useful for most Photoshop users,” Adobe says. “Over time, we’ll add more capabilities and workflows as we learn more about how customers use Photoshop on a mobile device.”
Tools and features you’ll find in v1.0 include basic adjustments (e.g. brightness, contrast, hue, saturation), layer masks, brushes, sophisticated selections, blend modes, clone stamp, spot healing, crop, gradients, paint bucket, eyedropper, and color picker.
The company is planning to follow a rapid-fire schedule of releases that will add new features and capabilities to the app. Features coming soon include the ability to rotate the canvas, Refine Edge, Select Subject, and more brushing options.
You’ll need to be running at least iPadOS 13.1 for Photoshop, and supported iPad versions include the Pro (Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi + Cellular), Pro 12.9-inch (and 2nd generation), Pro 10.5-inch, Pro 9.7-inch, 5th generation, mini 4, and Air 2.
Here’s how pricing works for the new Photoshop on iPad app: if you’re already subscribed to the Photography plan (for Photoshop and Lightroom) for $10 a month before January 31st, 2020, you’ll have the iPad app bundled into your plan. Otherwise, you’ll need to at least subscribe to the Photoshop plan that gives you access to the desktop and iPad app (as well as 100GB of cloud storage) for $21 per month. The iPad app is also bundled into the $53/month plan that gives you access to all Creative Cloud apps.
When I first saw the new Core SWX NANO-C98 battery I told Core SWX “where has this battery been hiding!” For some reason, aftermarket batteries for Cinema EOS cameras are not as available as other cameras like the Sony FS7. Well, this isn’t the case anymore and Core SWX has a 3rd party battery alternative … Continued
The Shining: Breaking Down Stanley Kubrick’s Masterpiece The Shining is the legendary 1980 film starring Jack Nicholson as the protagonist of a psychological horror story. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, it’s touted to be one of the top 10 all-time scariest horror shows. The original story was written by Steven King who published a novel with…
Launching at Adobe MAX Conference, the new ascribe.ai from axle ai is a leap forward for fast, accessible transcription delivered directly in Adobe Premiere Pro.
In keeping with Adobe MAX’s theme of Creativity For All, ascribe is axle ai’s first product to feature a freemium pricing model. Ascribe.ai is available from the Adobe Exchange Application Marketplace and from the ascribe.ai website at no charge, and includes one hour of free transcription of video content on registration. Subscriptions begin at $4.95 per month for 2.5 hours of transcription ($1.98 per hour), and even lower per-hour prices in larger quantities. Languages supported in the initial release are English (both American and British dialects), Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Korean.
Rather than sending the entire video file to be transcribed, ascribe.ai creates an audio-only file that it quickly uploads in the background, obtaining and displaying the transcript as well as pushing all relevant markers to the timeline in Adobe Premiere Pro. According to axle ai, the whole process happens faster than realtime; each minute of footage can be transcribed and results returned to Premiere in as little as 10 seconds. Transcribed text appears as markers in the Premiere Pro timeline, as well as in sidecar XMP files made by ascribe.ai which contain the transcripts. Users also have the option of exporting an industry-standard SRT or VTT file with the transcript as well.
Adobe’s Creativity for All
Ascribe.ai uses the same axle Speech services used by the company’s axle ai 2019 media management system for small and midsize video teams. However, unlike axle ai 2019, the software is free and no centralized database or shared network storage is required. Ascribe.ai runs directly on any Mac or Windows system running Adobe Premiere Pro and connects with axle ai’s Speech cloud service via nearly any connection to perform the transcription.
Sam Bogoch, CEO of axle AI, said “Since our company was founded in 2012, we’ve made it our mission to bring the power of video search to an ever-wider group of creative teams. Now, with ascribe.ai, we’re taking it to a whole new level – the broader universe of freelancers and videographers who may work on their own, or on distributed teams. While these folks may not need our higher-end solutions yet, we thought it would be a great opportunity to make the power of AI-driven transcription available to everyone.
“We’ve been working on the technologies behind ascribe.ai for several months, including our axle Speech cloud service and the axle ai User Portal that manages subscriptions. Adobe is focusing on Creativity for All at this year’s Adobe MAX; we thought the timing was ideal, and great timing for us to roll out this new product which meets the needs of millions of Adobe Creative Cloud users, not only video teams who have had the benefit of our technology on their corporate networks.”
“Premiere Pro is the industry leader for editing everything from feature films, TV series and beyond,” said Sue Skidmore, head of partner relations for Adobe Video. “ascribe.ai makes fast and efficient AI-driven transcription of videos accessible to all Adobe Premiere Pro users.”
The free ascribe.ai panel is available immediately from the ascribe.ai website, and soon from the Adobe Exchange Application Marketplace. Each instance includes free transcription of 1 hour of video/audio or audio-only content; subscriptions begin at $4.95 per month for 2.5 hours of transcription ($1.98 per hour), and even lower per-hour prices in larger quantities. Additional hours can be purchased from axle ai’s User Portal in blocks of 10 hours ($19.00) and 100 hours ($170.00).
The company says that “these prices, made possible by axle’s AI-powered axle Speech cloud service, compare very favorably with prices of other transcription services which range from several dollars per hour, to up to $1.00 or more per minute. Languages supported in the initial release are English (both American and British dialects), Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Korean. More languages will be supported in the future.”
It’s Monday of Adobe MAX 2019 so that must mean new and cool stuff for the Adobe video tools. After a quiet IBC where Adobe’s focus was less on new features and more on performance, Adobe MAX brings us a new release of Premiere Pro that delivers Auto Reframe as well as a few other enhancements which should hit your Creative Cloud app today. If you remember Auto Reframe was previewed recently and a technology that uses Adobe Sensei to “intelligently” crop and reframe your video when you move from one aspect ratio (think a 16×9 sequence) to another (like a 1×1). It will be a time saver. But that’s not my favorite thing.
What’s my #1 favorite of this release?
Expanded Audio Gain to +15
I know this might seem like a small thing compared to Auto Reframe but it’ll be very useful to have the extra volume headroom when it comes to mixing audio. That means less back and forth with audio gain in order to get a clip just right.
A check of the Clip Mixer sees the faders now go up to 15. The Track Mixer does the same thing.
Undoubtedly Auto Reframe is the signature feature of this release. It’s a tool many of us have wished for in the editing suite for a number of years since social media reformats became a thing and it will be a big timesaver. Will it be perfect in every situation? Absolutely not but when the AI doesn’t nail the framing it’ll at least be a good start. Plus you can always remove the effect and do it on your own.
Auto Reframe is a new effect that lives under the Transform category of the Effects window. While I’m sure there will be a useful place for the stand-alone effect from time to time (I tried to apply it in a 16×9 sequences with stacked and cropped clips but it didn’t really do anything) it’s real usefulness will come when applied to sequences. That’s what you usually will want to do anyway, change an entire sequence from one aspect ratio to another.
Right + click on a sequence and choose the new Auto Reframe Sequence… option.
The Auto Reframe Sequence dialog box has a few options to look over before making your choice. The key is the Aspect Ratio as that’s what you’re doing, changing the sequence to something different than what you build the edit on. There are motion presets for slower or faster motion to help Auto Reframe better estimate what is happening in the frame.
The Nest clip vs Don’t nest clips is important to understand. If you have already applied a lot of motion changes such as scaling and keyframing of some clip moves you’d want to choose the Nest clip option, otherwise Auto Reframe will remove some motion effects. If you choose to Nest all of the clips in the sequence will be nested and the Auto Reframe applied to the nest.
It’s important to note that when you Auto Reframe a sequence that new Auto Reframe effect gets applied on every video clip. You could click into the Auto Reframe effect in the Effect Controls and have it reanalyze with a new motion estimation or just change the keyframing by hand in the Position parameter where the change has occurred.
In order to keep the subject in frame Auto Reframe automatically generates Motion Position keyframes so a big sequence with a lot of complex shots will both take time to analyze as well as create a lot of keyframe data. It doesn’t seem to balloon the project size too badly though so that’s a good thing. You can create custom sizes which might come in handy if you’re doing edits for oddly shaped screens in an arena or concert environment.
All new Auto Reframe sequences get placed in their own Auto Reframed Sequence bin. Yes, a custom 2×11 sequence was a bit extreme but Auto Reframe did a commendable job of trying to keep things in frame with such an extreme aspect ratio.
Media Cache changes
A small update to the Media Cache preferences changes the old Delete Unused media cache option to Remove Media Cache Files which presumes it’ll just delete them all from your designated media cache folder. But click it and you get a new dialog box.
A new option to Delete all media cache files from the system is one that could come in very handy if your system drive is starting to fill up since that’s where PPro defaults the media cache to. The new option for delete all requires a bit of extra attention.
I did the delete all on one of my systems and it deleted the cache and nothing else (thinking back to the delete cache bug from last year). Cleaning of the media cache and the media cache database can take a few minutes so be aware of that when using this tool, both old and new.
Maybe someday the media cache will get a full overhaul.
ProRes export in an MXF wrapper on both Mac and Windows
A small one for many but big for others if you need to deliver MXF wrapper ProRes files. This is available in both the Premiere Pro export window and Media Encoder.
Media Composer has been able to do this for a long time so it’s nice to see this coming to Mac.
Time remapping to 20,000 percent
This is a notable change if you do a lot of time remapping because of the previous limit of an often not fast enough 1,000%. Your speed ramps just became even more obnoxious.
A few other features in this release
Graphics improvements such as better selecting, naming, and re-ordering and new underlining of text.
Various under-the-hood refinements, including improvements for
H265, HEVC, and Apple ProRes formats, faster ProRes HDR and better thumbnail caching. A lot of that depends on the speed of your hard drive but overall improvements are welcome.
More native formats supported such as Canon C500, Canon XF-HEVC, Sony Venice V4 with high frame rate recording.
Better HDR10 export control and metadata support.
System Compatibility Report does a better job checking drivers for increased stability.
Get into the creative flow in After Effects and stay there. Improvements to CPU threading and a new GPU architecture for pushing pixels to the screen, means you can interact with the application while previewing in real time. Complex compositions can mean a lot of heavy lifting for your system. The new release of After Effects helps to lighten the load so you can see what you’re doing as you do it. Create more; wait less.
Snappier shape layers
Work more fluidly with shape-heavy compositions, with improved shape behaviours, especially when snapping. Shape grouping and ungrouping is quicker and easier with a new context menu, enabling you to manage multiple shapes at once, right in the timeline.
Faster Content-Aware Fill
Content-Aware Fill for video is now up to twice as fast, thanks to more efficient use of memory. Powered by Adobe Sensei AI technologies, Content-Aware Fill automates the process of removing unwanted objects or visual elements, such as logos, from video footage.
Faster multichannel EXR files
Multichannel EXR files are up to 10-12x faster. Import EXR files as layered compositions: save time on setup and start compositing right away. The new workflow includes native support for Cryptomatte for more power and precision, and there’s even a handy Contact Sheet view to quickly locate specific passes.
More efficient expressions
Expressions run more efficiently in the latest release of After Effects, improving overall performance, especially when working with expressions and Master Properties together.
We’ve added expression access to text style properties, enabling you to change or customize fonts and styling with expressions, and keep multiple layers in sync. Save your expressions as presets and reuse them again and again.
Dropdown menus for Motion Graphics templates
New custom dropdown menus for expressions enable you to control layer properties with easy-to-read menus. Just like the Slider, Checkbox and Color controls, they work in your compositions, with Master Properties, and with Motion Graphics templates, giving both you and your editor colleagues a streamlined graphics editing experience. Combine dropdown menus with text style expressions to control the text formatting on multiple layers in one place.
Updated Cinema 4D
The new release of After Effects includes an updated version of Maxon Cinema 4D Lite (based on Cinema 4D Release 21). Use Cinema 4D Lite to create and import 3D content for After Effects projects. Add Cinema 4D content to After Effects projects just like footage; extract scene data, like cameras or 3D objects, which you can manipulate in After Effects.
The latest release of C4D Lite can be launched within After Effects and as a standalone application. New features include the Caps and Bevel tools for creating extruded text and splines with more personality. A new high-performance denoising filter improves visual quality and reduces rendering times.
Format and System Support
After Effects offers new native support for Canon XF-HEVC, as well as import support for two legacy formats: Animation with delta frames and MJPEG. Plus, we’ve improved performance for 10-bit H.265 HD/UHD, HEVC HD/UHD and Apple ProRes formats.
After Effects will now detect and alert you to any known issues with specific hardware or drivers being used on your computer to ensure compatibility and optimum performance.
Add narrative dynamics with new scene cameras. Set up shots within your scenes, like wide, close-up, and zoom and create camera moves between them. Cut between two characters in a scene or smoothly pan back and forth as they interact. Create triggers for your scene cameras for added efficiency in production or richer storytelling in your livestreams.
Keyframes add precision and creative control for animating story elements and your characters. Keyframes in Character Animator allow you to position and time a character or background element in the scene, as well as fine-tuning the physics behaviors of interactive elements, such as wind strength and gravity direction. You can also keyframe camera moves across your scenes. Keyframes can be triggered on-the-fly to add impact to live performances!
Keyframes and scene cameras make it much easier for some content creators to go end-to-end using just Photoshop or Illustrator for their artwork and Character Animator to animate for simple, short-form pieces.
Enliven your scenes by adding triggerable audio, like a character’s signature sound, spoken exclamation, or musical phrase, or trigger audience applause or laugh tracks right on cue. Your characters become more dynamic and your animation workflows become simpler with audio automatically synched to the triggerable animated actions or performance timing. Use or record your own audio elements, or choose clips from the free Audition Sound Effects library.
Use motion lines as secondary animations to communicate movement. Simply add the behavior to a handle in your character’s rigging, then adjust its parameters, to trail the character’s motion with colored lines of varying width, opacity, lifespan, and other attributes, emphasizing motion, illustrating speed and trajectory.
Improved routing for multichannel effects
Reengineered audio effects routing streamlines multichannel audio workflows, including custom channelization with adaptive tracks. Add audio effects with their native channelization options and set up routing to the output configurations you require.
This new functionality, available in both Audition and Premiere Pro, provides support for third-party audio effects to be queried for their channelization options, and route specific audio clip and track channels in and out of those effects.
For broadcast editors, this means you can add as many instances of the Loudness Radar meter as needed to monitor loudness on different segments of a multichannel deliverable to get individual, accurate measurements of each stream and ensure compliance with regulations in your region.
For immersive producers building rich, wrap-around soundscapes using plug-ins like Facebook 360, easily route your mono, multichannel, or Ambisonics recordings to the suite of effects for accurate sound placement in a 3D environment.
Audio clip stacking
Audition now allows you to set your audio clip stacking preference. Audio clips can use the video timeline paradigm, where whatever is on top of the stack is what you hear. Alternatively, users can select the traditional Audition behavior, where clips stacked in the same track play together. Stacking audio clips allows for a minimalist approach to track count and can help achieve precise timing for signature sounds or arrangements. Audio clip stacking is now back as a session-level preference.
Lomography recently announced LomoChrome Metropolis, the company’s first new film stock in five years. It’s currently available for pre-order, however Lomography was nice enough to send us an early production roll to experiment with. We’ve had some rare sunny Seattle days here recently, so I took advantage and loaded the roll up in my Leica M6 + Rokkor 40mm F2 combo and got shooting.
Metropolis is pitched as a film stock with muted tones, desaturated color and heavy contrast. And though the results of my test roll aren’t exactly my cup of tea, I think it’s accurately advertised.
Then again, my initial choice in subject matter, dogs in halloween costumes, may not have been the best match for Metropolis. The greenish hue of the film doesn’t lend itself particularly well to scenes with a lot of bright colors. But I could certainly see this being a tempting choice for moody cityscapes and street photography. I’d also be curious to push it a little and shoot closer to dusk (I shot it at ISO 400).
Dogs in Halloween costumes may not have been the best choice of subject matter to compliment Metropolis’ unique characteristics.
This is not an everyday film, of course, its a subject-specific film. And choosing subject matter based on your film stock is sort of a foreign concept to me. I’ve always been in the mindset that the film being used should be adaptable to whatever subject matter you choose. But I think it’s cool that Lomography is coming up with creative new films for people wanting a specific or novel look.
Ultimately, of the images I shot, those with urban elements are the ones I think look the best. And I look forward to putting another roll through my camera, this time with the intention of shooting subjects that will complement its unique characteristics. Until then, I’ll stick with my standard film stocks.
Lightcycle is an artist-designed room where a 24-hour cycle of light will be shown off in a 10-minute light show created by DoPs, lighting directors and gaffers.
The 27th International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography, EnergaCAMERIMAGE, considered unique by many, is a great forum not only for presentation but also for further development of international moviemaking. EnergaCAMERIMAGE helps young filmmakers and integrates the community of those already recognized, allowing them to explore new artistic areas. Is it also an event where art and technology meet creating a unique and unforgettable atmosphere.
For the 27th edition of EnergaCAMERIMAGE, Lightbridge has prepared a new concept. Held in the Centre of Contemporary Art in Torun November 9-15, 2019, just a five minute walk from the main exhibition, the Light!Room will allow cinematographers to explore lighting in a uniquely artistic environment.
24 hours cycle of light in 10 minutes
According to Lightbridge, the centerpiece of the exhibition is the Lightcycle— an artist-designed room where a 24-hour cycle of light (night, morning, day, evening and magic hour) will be shown off in a 10-minute light show using the CRLS Cine Reflect Lighting System, BB&S Lighting fixtures, DoPchoice Snapbags, Gaffers Control and Rosco’s SoftDrop.
The Lightbridge invites DoPs, lighting directors and gaffers to relight the different times of day as part of the art installation—so what happens on one festival day will look different from the next! Adjacent to the Lightcycle a hands-on area is open to visitors who want to test the same type of tools that create the exhibition.
Master classes and round tables
Based on the fundamental belief that the most valuable lighting tool is the DoP’s unique way of seeing the world, Lightbridge hosts Light!Room a creative resource where lighting people from all paths can search, discuss and exchange experiences, thoughts and interests. Through this collaborative process the most revolutionary tools can evolve. The Cine Reflect Lighting System is an example, forged from the work of DP Christian Berger in collaboration with his gaffer Jakob Ballinger who founded The Lightbridge.
The Lightbridge will also host a number of round tables and master classes featuring prominent DoPs and gaffers— all focused on the topic of light. These include: CRLS creator Christian Berger AAC, Checco Varese ASC, and Alan Jacobsen, as well as gaffers John Roche, Frank Omo and Lightbridge founder Jakob Ballinger.
If you were to ask the common everyday person who the greatest director of all time is, I’m willing to bet 9 times out of 10 you’re most likely to hear the name Steven Spielberg. If you know film history, you’ll likely take exception to that statement but in the large scale of things Spielberg is more synonymous with the movies than any other director.
As films continued to expand and become bigger, Spielberg was the man most responsible for the magic of the movie screen as he continued to take us on compelling adventures time and time again. For anyone who was growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, he captured the imaginations of kids and adults everywhere, and as he’s gotten older has continued with reinventing himself as an artist with more adult works that still captivate.
Despite some of my personal misgivings regarding his work in recent years, I can’t deny the power Spielberg has had on the cinematic world. But there’s many films that paved the way for him to be where he is, and many who’ve been inspired by his brilliance ever since.
So, let’s highlight some of the great works that came before, and some that have come ever since the magic of Spielberg that in some way has captured that same feeling we get when we watch “Indiana Jones” or “E.T.”. These are 10 Films to watch if you like Steven Spielberg.
1. Captains Courageous (1937)
Right alongside films like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Shining”, Spielberg ranks “Captain Courageous” right up there as one of his all-time favorites. You have to imagine Spielberg’s knack for ordinary people and the value of hard work in his films largely came from this film.
A spoiled rich boy (Freddie Bartholomew) falls overboard the fancy yacht his father owns and finds himself in the hands of a fishing schooner “We’re Here”. They put him to work and now all that bad behavior he had previously is slowly fading away as he learns the value of these men, what they do, and how they live. MGM famously dubbed this film as a “coming-of-age classic with exciting adventure.”
That one phrase alone could be used to describe many of Spielberg’s most famous work. When you watch the childhood innocence with a twist of adventure in here, how can you not think of images like Elliot in “E.T.” or Short Round in “Temple of Doom”. Not to mention, this has an Oscar winning performance by Spencer Tracy, one of Spielberg’s favorite actors. There’s a good reason this is one of his favorites.
2. Stagecoach (1939)
“Stagecoach” is a film that can be used in describing many influences in film, not merely just Spielberg. But in terms of Spielberg’s filmography, it’s undeniable. If you watch the documentary short “The Stunts of ‘Indiana Jones’”, you’ll see Spielberg and company list the various influences of action and stunt work that went into making the “Indiana Jones” films, and right there at the top of that list would be John Ford’s “Stagecoach”.
Just take the legendary stunt in which Yakima Canutt jumps on to the horses and then does “the drop” where he lets those horses and the carriage ride over him and you’ll see the inspiration for the equally legendary truck sequence where Indie dangles underneath the bottom of a truck. But more than that, it’s also the manner in which the role of heroism is defined in the central characters.
The way in which John Wayne exhibits natural authority in his rugged way is a clear-cut influence on the traditional heroes of Spielberg’s filmography from Indiana Jones, to Quint, and you could even argue a little bit to Oskar Schindler and Captain Miller. “Stagecoach” is a film that paved the way for everybody and should never be overlooked in a list like this.
3. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
One of the strongest aspects of Spielberg’s talent is his ability to capture true, honest goodness in-between the big moments. When you think of a film like “Jaws” you’ll likely remember the little moments of a dad goofing around, making silly faces with his son just as much as you’ll remember the action with the shark. When you think of “Saving Private Ryan” you’ll likely think of Captain Miller admitting who he is back home before you think of any of the war action. Because more than spectacle, Spielberg understands it’s the humanity of people that makes us remember them.
“The Best Years of Our Lives” is another film Spielberg commonly ranks as a personal favorite, and it’s clear why. It’s a genuine, humble look at life post WWII as veterans of the war try to adjust back into life. We don’t have gratuitous war action to rope us in but rather the real human struggles of who these people are, and the love they have for their family and friends.
Spielberg is probably most famous for his blockbusters, but his more mature works likewise have a similar, if not, greater appeal than his adventures. Stories such as these are rich with spiritual depth and elate with an overpowering sense of human capability, something Spielberg has certainly never lost during his time as a filmmaker.
4. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Just look at the image of Humphrey Bogart in this film and you’ll see where Spielberg got a lot of inspiration for Indiana Jones. The ingenuity of the “Indiana Jones” films is that they greatly payed tribute to classic B-Adventure films of the past but revitalized them in such a way for new audiences that came off as a fresh new take on what makes a classic thrill ride.
There’s a lot of films to highlight in this regard, such as “Secret of the Incas”. But “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” is a far more interesting film that goes beyond the simple premise of finding lost treasure. Like what we would see from characters like Belloq in “Raiders” or Dr. Schneider in “Last Crusade” is what you see from the characters of this film. The treasure in question poisons their very human nature, weakening them to humanity’s greatest flaw of greed and the quest for power.
The adventure in the film isn’t meant as a thrill ride but rather as an expedition of the characters internal self’s, how much can they stay true to themselves before they lose all semblance of their integrity. Much in the same manner, Spielberg likewise looks for the good in humanity with his films. His universal appeal comes from his desire to teach right from wrong even when confronted with the most challenging of scenarios on both a physical and emotional level. “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” is a classic that paved the way for Spielberg to be the storyteller he is, be sure to see it if you haven’t already.
5. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
“The Day the Earth Stood Still” was a milestone in science fiction filmmaking. At a time where any other space invader movies showed extraterrestrial aliens as invading forces out to destroy humanity, this offered something completely different. The aliens weren’t there to destroy but rather to be a voice of reason for universal peace, only for humanity to destroy itself with their never-ending quest for war and prejudice.
The simple idea of aliens being a force for good is something Spielberg would personify in two of his all-time greats, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “E.T. The Extraterrestrial”. “The Day the Earth Stood Still” pioneered the idea of the connection between humanity and the extraterrestrial, and Spielberg capitalized on this to further expand upon the concept with his works.
In “Close Encounters” he uses the advancement of technology and persistence to further mirror the advancement of humankind to join larger groups of the universe. In “E.T.” he mixes science fiction with family drama to use a boy and his pet alien as a coming of age tale. The influence the film has had on Spielberg is apparent, and it should be no surprise that Spielberg is currently getting set to direct another Robert Wise classic “West Side Story”. But it started with this, and what a start it was.
The common denominator of the most recent amazing art-house films selected is the amazing vision, technical virtuosity (especially in Gan Bi ‘s stunning masterpiece “Long day’s journey into night” and a reassured authorial voice.
Also, most of the chosen films did extremely well in Cannes’s Film Festival most recent edition.
1. Ash Is The Purest White – Jia Zhang Ke
A captivating melodrama. A spectacular saga of small-time criminals in industrial northern China, and ultimately a tragic love story. Zhang Ke’s fourth film spans cover a 16-year period, from 2001 to 2017 and it is composed of 2 major sections and an epilogue.
Bin, a small-time crook, embracing with naiveté “Jianghu”, the seemingly anachronistic moral code of the Chinese mob, is catapulted to the gang’s leadership by the sudden death of the clan’s leader. Qiao – the female protagonist – loves Bin and her passionate dancing, coupled with an Umma Thurman-like haircut from “Pulp fiction”, seems to indicate both her initial happiness as well as an attraction to Western pop culture.
Despite always questioning mob tough rhetoric and Bin’s corny adherence to underworld moral code almost obsolete – most lucid mobsters make tremendous efforts to turn legit real estate developers in contemporary China – Qiao fulfills much more than a decorative role. If she’s not de facto part of “Jianghu” up to a certain point – being a typical case of “guilty by association”, she crosses the threshold on a night when Bin is attacked by a gang on motorcycles.
Initially, Bin’s guts and physical dexterity succeeds in fending off a bunch of attackers for quite some time, in what is the most dynamic and spectacular scene of the film. As Bin finally falls victim to the mob’s rage and brutality, Qiao emerges with a gun from a taxi and shoots in the air intimidating the attackers and presumably saving Bin’s life, or at least saving him from mutilation. Qiao’s capture with a gun, without acknowledging whose weapon it was during police interrogations, gets her a 5-year jail sentence.
On a quest to find and rejoin Bin’s after release from jail, in 2006, the disenchantment and the emotional estrangement from a volatile Bin are rendered by Director Zhang Ke through elegiac, sensual, and quiet traveling shots in which the characters are never synchronized emotionally.
Either Qiao walks ahead of Bin or Qiao is alone in the frame. In one shot, Bin takes Qiao’s hand, but they never hug or kiss nor seem emotionally calibrated. Ultimately, Bin’s tragedy is ending up in a wheelchair following a cardiac problem and devoid of any physical power and robustness which is the core value in the criminal underworld.
Without his physical dexterity, Bin loses his status and becomes a tragic and peripherical figure even within the already marginal and dismal world of a town’s small-time mob.
2. A Hidden Life – Terrence Malick
An idyllic family in a bucolic Austrian mountain village at the beginning of World War 2.
Franz Jaggerstatter, a saintly peasant in love with a life that includes his wife, 3 kids and surrounded by the sublime Alps, is the only one in his village to vote against the Anschluss, Austria’s annexation by Nazi Germany.
In real life, it appears that the protagonist – despite being an obstinate opposer of WW 2 and having indeed refused to swear a loyalty oath to Hitler, was considerably more complex and at least in his youth, a wilder character than the mystical and pure protagonist of Malick’s film.
Besides Malick’s distinct signature – meditative voice-over, delirious lyricism, some sort of profound spiritual communion with nature, love as the central value in life, there is a dramaturgical empty space in the center of the story. Franz, as a member of the Catholic Church, seeks spiritual support from the local priest who refers him to his superior. When the Bishop simply tells Franz that “he has a duty to his country”, the protagonist moves to the next stage of his resistance to the Nazi regime – obstinate silence.
While the wife supports her husband’s uncompromising idealism, there would be ample time in an almost three-hour film for some sort of philosophical or theological antiwar argument or exploration of personal faith; or at least the reasons for the admirable complete lack of adherence to dominant values at that time in Austria.
However, strangely Terrence Malick chooses to eradicate any psychological insights or even further theological stance, except for incipient bits of conversation with the lawyer who tries to get Franz to compromise or at least simulate some sort of benign indifference for the regime, that could fool the Nazi Establishment and save his life. (However, not his soul, as would probably argue an equally uncompromising Malick).
The spiritual communion with nature or any hints of transcendental meaning piercing through the veil of the physical world seems a superb approach for some elegy or poem. However, when the protagonist antagonizes the whole village, embarrasses the clergy, absorbs with calm mysticism the resentment of the court – except for the somewhat levelheaded and reasonable Judge played by Bruno Ganz – one expects there to be at least a degree of intense drama than drama-sublimation, through sublime visuals.
3. Birds of Passage – Cristina Gallego & Ciro Guerra
No flamboyant superlative is excessive, undeserved or suspect when used to describe the absolutely sensational film of Colombian directors Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra! Comparable with the discovery of Fellini’s cinema, this film can revolutionize one’s life, the scheme of perception and aesthetics.
In the remote, northernmost part of Colombia, the Guajira Peninsula, a teenager girl, belonging to the Wayuu, a local ethnic group, is kept in confinement as she’s prepared to become a woman and be ready for marriage once she rejoins society.
The Wayuu tribes were pretty much closed off to the world in the ’60s before the tragic change of paradigm and the explosion of the worldwide marijuana traffic. The colossal demand for marijuana equals an unprecedented opportunity for acquiring in a short-term massive wealth.
The arrival of savage capitalism with the awakening some tribe members’ latent greed, propels the whole archaic and traditionalist microcosm into something like a Greek tragedy, but treated with psychedelic-magic realism touches.
When Zaida emerges from the isolation imposed by the rite of passage into adulthood and the whole tribe celebrates her imminent wedding to Rapayet, a pretender to Zaida’s hand from another tribe, the dowry requests imposed by the autocratic matriarch of the tribe – Ursula, Zaida’s mother – seems excessive or even impossible to meet.
When the American hippie students formulate their demand for marijuana, Rapayet, along with his future mother in law, seize the ”once in a lifetime opportunity” and quickly turn into efficient and large-scale entrepreneurs capitalizing on this precious commodity – marijuana. The fast enrichment leads to crime and other transgressions which alter tragically and irreversibly the tribe’s serenity, traditional values, and lifestyle.
The fascinating hybrid of amazing anthropological perspective, amazing Garcia Marquez-like magic realism (the superb and masterful photography is built quite organically upon an amazing chromatic richness of the Wayuu tribe’s costumes and complex textiles), the Greek tragedy aspect, and a Sergio Leone-like alternation of epic and intimate through the flair combining extreme long shots of the haunting desert and the evocative close-ups on intimate emotions of the characters make for a formidable, unique and addictive masterpiece.
4. At Eternity’s Gate – Julian Schnabel
An examination of an idiosyncratic and amazing impressionist painter by a good idiosyncratic artist (also initially a painter himself).
Van Gogh is brilliantly played by Willem Dafoe. Not only does Dafoe become Van Gogh, but his facial features resemble those of the Dutch painter, which may place him in an extraordinarily privileged casting position.
The film starts with Van Gogh in Paris, confessing to the camera his aspiration to live with a vibrant community of artists and fraternize with them. That will prove to be very difficult due to his difficult temper and mental troubles. Following Gauguin’s suggestion, Van Gogh moves to Provence.
An ultra-mobile mise en scene, for the most part, haunting and exciting attempts to place the audience inside Van Gogh’s scheme of perception and the artist’s amazing eye for the evocative Provence light and lush nature, as well as a keen capturing of morbid poverty inside precarious homes.
The same handheld camera work serves to catapult onto the screen the anguish concerning his destiny as an artist (“Maybe God made me a painter for people that aren’t born yet”), his rage over his perpetual catastrophic financial situation as well ultimately his mental instability.
Although the film is a visual feast, the performance of an eerie Van Gogh-looking Dafoe couldn’t get any more nuanced and the period costumes and design are rigorously authentic. One regrets that the Priest who has an intuition of Van Gogh’s unique capacities, played with the usual guile by Mads Mikkelsen has very little screen time.
5. The Endless Trench – Jon Garaño & Aitor Arregi y Josemari Goenaga
Higienio, a Republican running for his life during the Civil War in Spain finds refuge behind a fireplace in the same house with Rosa, his recently married girlfriend.
Something that is supposed to be a temporary subterfuge meant to outwit Franco’s fascist Establishment ends up being 30-year imprisonment in one’s own home.
The civil War drama is done to the death in Spain, kind of like a World War 2 drama. It requires either some new twist, a very ingenious new angle or some amazing mise en scene in order to outwit the genre’s more or less conventional codes.
In this Triumvirate of Basque directors’ film, the subject matter seems to be fear itself and the way in which the captivity affects the relation. Antonio de la Torre, one of the best Spanish actors from his generation, has an amazing arsenal of extremely nuanced reactions that catapult the tension and the anguish to the screen. A tortured grimace when he’s in danger of being discovered, the twisted torso, a terrorized glance. All these reactions sustain a vivid existential threat.
In the meantime, the relation with Rosa gradually fades away. First, she’s courted by other male characters as she’s considered to be a young widow by the whole community. Because she can’t buy male clothing, her husband starts wearing female cardigans which further amplifies the uneasiness between the two.
The three Basque directors seem to find some delight in the logistical and space restrictions imposed by default by an imprisonment drama (kind of a Dogma provocation in the mid-’90s). Very few locations appear in the film which sustains a sense of persecution and psychological claustrophobia.
From his early fascination with movie monsters in the second grade, Eddie Yang has been crucial to creating screen characters which have graced cinemas over the past 30 years plus. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, Yang set up a makeup lab in his parents’ garage, sculpting creatures and molding them, based on tips […]
Have you ever had the feeling that something in your hotel room wasn’t quite right? Or that someone, somehow was watching you? This will help guide you through the process of finding hidden cameras if they’ve been planted in your room.
Presented as the perfect companion for the Zoom F6 Mixer/Recorder, the new Stingray bag from K-Tek allows you to use the Zoom 6 mixer/recorder into a wearable or a tabletop workstation.
Designed for the new Zoom F6 field recorder, the new KSF6 – Stingray Zoom F6 bag from K-Tek is more than a solution to carry your Zoom F6 around. This versatile carrier offers safety and protection but is designed with convenient tabletop operation in mind, thanks to a built-in adjustable kickstand that enables easy control interface and comfortable viewing whether the user sits or stands.
K-Tek listened to users who asked for easy access all around, and the company’s answer is present in this new bag: dual zippers that encircle each side panel to fully reveal inputs, outputs and controls. The bottom flap opens wide to access the internal battery packs on the bottom of the F6. Then there’s the large buckle that safely snaps the bottom closed. The bag is designed so it can accommodate common working styles with access to all Zoom F6 connection points.
Whether it is carried over the shoulder or worn around the body, the integral Waist Belt/Shoulder Strap is adjustable for various sizes. Made of breathable material and padded for comfort, it also offers 2 MOLLE rigging points for additional accessories. Positioned around the bag and strap, 6 oversize MOLLE-style straps are ready to hold additional accessories ranging from wireless receivers to other Stingray bags, like the popular carryall Gizmo bags.
Price and availability
To protect the Zoom F6, an integrated frame enables stability and protection. Multi-layer walls offer exterior durability and the soft orange high-contrast interior makes it easy to visually separate the bag from the recorder. Inside, extra wide Velcro straps securely attach the F6 for solid support.
External dimensions for the Stingray Zoom F6 bag are 7.7 x 6.5 x 3.2 inches (196mm x 165mm x 80mm) and the internal size is 7.48 x 6.3 x 1.62 inches (190mm x 160mm x 41mm). The weight of the empty unit is just 0.98-lb / 0.44 kg.
The KSF6 Stingray Bag is listed at $125, and is now delivering. For a dealer list or more information about K-Tek products visit the company’s website.