Brendan Shick | Freelance Film, Broadcast, & Digital Media

4 Must Watch Director’s Commentaries – Even if You’re Not a Film Geek

4 Must Watch Director's Commentaries - Even if You're Not a Film Geek

4 Director's Commentaries for any sensibility or taste! At least one of these will appeal to you...
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Learning the Pitfalls of HFR

Learn the Pitfalls of HFR

Don't make the mistake of paying more for a lower quality theater experience. Here's a look at what HFR really does to your image straight from a cinematographer's mouth...errr...pen...err...whatever.
Baseball Broadcasts: Behind the Scenes

Broadcasting Baseball

Ever wonder how the game gets from the field to your television set? We're sharing a behind-the-scenes look.

Quick Followup on HFR and The Hobbit Editor's Pick

Quick Followup on HFR and The Hobbit

My commentary on the use of HFR in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) was posted last week, several hours before the public release of the film. Naturally, there were no audience reactions to include at the time.

Since the official US release last Friday most of the audience reaction I’ve heard has consisted of one of two things…

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Learning the Pitfalls of HFR Editor's Pick

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Learning the Pitfalls of HFR

With nearly every possible combination of the terms digital, IMAX, 2D, 3D, HFR, and non-HFR, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) is being released in more formats than any other film ever made. It’s also introducing a new variable that, should it become more mainstream, would cause a similar set of cinematographic problems.

“HFR” is short-hand marketer-speak for “high frame rate.” But it affects other variables that the cinematographer should be intimately controlling as well. The so dubbed HFR is the newcomer to the scene – and has been misunderstood even by many of my industry friends let alone the average moviegoer – [insert faux ‘spoiler alert’] it’s not just about the framerate.

So, here’s a look at what HFR really does to your image straight from a cinematographer’s mouth…errr…pen…err…whatever.

News & Link Round-up [November 2012] Editor's Pick

News & Link Round-up [November 2012]

In this edition of news and link round-up: a theater avoids a ticket tax by selling carrots, Redbox announces their most popular rental titles, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) enters Oscar contention, and learning to slate for aspiring camera assistants.

APRIL RECAP: Things to Add to the Resume Editor's Pick

APRIL RECAP: Things to Add to the Resume

This April has certainly been quite the busy and eventful month. As alluded to in previous posts, it was not only the start of baseball season (and thus sports broadcasting), but was also the month in which I was heavily involved in principle photography for To Turn Back Time, a 40-minute independent film for which I was the DP. Amazingly, I was able to do both without any significant conflict in shooting schedules, but it also left me with only about 4 days off during the entire month.

And that makes the whole ordeal sound rather easy. As can be typical on lower budget independent films, some of our shooting days on To Turn Back Time ran upwards of 16 hours. That doesn’t include time spent afterwards planning out the next day (or sleeping, eating, etc.). When you do the math, I’ve worked at least 80 hours every single week since mid-March just on these two projects alone.

Anyway, here are the details:

White Balance: Important Tips and Tricks Someone Forgot to Teach You Editor's Pick

White Balance: Important Tips and Tricks Someone Forgot to Teach You

I’ve met a great variety of people, some with graduate degrees in cinematography, perpetuating this rumor (and yes, sometimes I’m even guilty of such). Although it’s good and simple beginner advice, there’s a lot more to the story.

The ‘white card’ tip is only partly true and, quite frankly, is an extremely simplified version of the truth that is probably partly perpetuated by people who don’t feel like spending the time to explain the full story to you.

Assuming you read on, I’m about to put an end to that as best I can.

Inspirational Photography: My Number One Secret to Taking Better Photographs Editor's Pick

Inspirational Photography: My Number One Secret to Taking Better Photographs

All the secrets of outstanding photography can really be boiled down into one fairly simple goal. It sounds like a high calling, and in some ways it is. Only the best photographs live up to this standard.

And yet, if you keep it in mind regularly while shooting, it really doesn’t seem that hard anymore. Even when I don’t fully accomplish this goal, just keeping it in mind as a benchmark improves the images I bring home.

Find out what it is…

Why 3D is Destroying Movies Editor's Pick

Why 3D is Destroying Movies

Cinema has been around for roughly a century. That means we, the cinematographers and directors of the world, have spent the past 100 years trying to perfect the art of taking something from the real world and displaying it to an audience in two-dimensions. Perspective, depth of field, production design choices, proper lighting setups, atmospheric perspective, good blocking, and a host of other factors allow us to represent a three-dimensional reality on a two-dimensional canvas.

Some have dedicated their whole lives to learning this trade, and even then build mostly on those who came before them. Even before cinema, painters had spent centuries establishing the basic rules of creating artificial depth on the canvas. Before I continue, I should say this is not a rant about how a group of skilled trade workers (cinematographers) now have their jobs threatened by a new technology that is forcing them to throw out what they’ve learned and start over learning the trade anew. It’s not even purely a rant about how 3D is destroying the 2D artform.

It’s quite the opposite. No one’s job is threatened. The fact is, producers of 3D movies are hiring the same cinematographers that they have always hired to shoot 2D movies, and, in some ways, that is precisely the problem.

Around the Web: “Lens Theives Ruin the Day” Editor's Pick

Around the Web: “Lens Theives Ruin the Day”

I’m usually pretty careful about keeping track of my equipment. Professional gear can be pretty expensive stuff and if you lose it you’re out a pretty nice chuck of change and your work suffers accordingly.

I stumbled across an interesting link at pixiq.com a while back that I’ve meant to share. It’s definitely worth reading if you’re a DSLR shooter.

The “Illusion of Movement Shot:” How to Make a Simple Shot Better in a Pinch Editor's Pick

The “Illusion of Movement Shot:” How to Make a Simple Shot Better in a Pinch

Today’s post is merely a simple tip for making any shot better with a minimum of added conceptual effort. Not that extra effort is a bad thing, but so many times on set we are pulled by the pressures of the shooting environment. Whether it be lack of budget, lack of time, or lack of patience from the subject, the crew must be ready and knowledgeable enough to compensate with a minimum sacrifice to quality.

For these situations, it’s good to have a “go to” plan. A shot choice that you can whip out quickly, but one that is also proven and effective. I don’t go with the textbook solution. I go with the one that works.

Why Slow Motion Looks Awesome: The Reason You Didn’t Think Of Editor's Pick

Why Slow Motion Looks Awesome: The Reason You Didn’t Think Of

Ever watch one of those slow motion compilations, usually showcasing the Phantom line of high-speed HD cameras? Assuming you have, you were probably stunned at how different the world looks when slowed way down.

In the world of cinematography, it’s not uncommon to hear people raving about the ability to shoot at 2,000 frames/second or greater. Most of the discussion, however, revolves around one of two things: either the amazing ability of today’s cameras to capture scenes at such high frame rates or the sheer amazement of what you can see in slow motion that you can’t see in realtime.

However, when you watch high-speed footage with a more critical eye, I believe there is another reason that we’re impressed with it that I’m sure not as many people have considered…

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