14 July, 2011

Moved Blog

I have moved my blog.
It can now be found at
and my main site is paulschleicher.com

11 July, 2007

Broadcast Shows Hot on the Heals of Summer Tent Poles

So, what cinematic feasts will we be gorgeing on for Orange Wednesdays this summer? Having read much of the hype, the only real thing that had me excited about this summer's movie season was Transformers', until I read the reviews.
Nerve delicately phrased:

About forty of its 145 minutes contain both robots and explosions, and those forty minutes comprise some of the most impressive special effects that have ever graced a screen. The Transformers really do look like tangible objects, and they're exciting to watch. But the other hundred-plus minutes aren't really about anything at all.

Even so, poor reviews that describe fluff, effects and no story, may not be enough to keep me away. Most time yes, but for some reason I am intrigued by Transformers. Maybe its nostalgia. I was never into comics as a kid, but cartoons like G.I. Joe and Thundercats and Transformers had me engrossed.

Combined with the praise for the visual effects work might get my £8 from my pocket and into the box office.

I didn't see Spidy 3 and to be honest, am not won over by the current onslaught of franchises (Pirates, Die Hard, Rocky). I image some are credible, but the ideas aren't new. I wont feel like i am discovering something. I will feel like the companies that own the studios are wringing out all the cash they can from a single concept. Maybe that's cynical

Spidy had similar hype to Transformers as to the originality of the effects work, but why combine this with a tired story. This story from a few months ago on Wired, praised the work done to develop the character of the Sandman.

Perhaps directors are getting too consumed with the effects over the story.

But making the villain wasn't easy (nor was it cheap). It all started with director Sam Raimi peering through a microscope to study the molecular structure of sand, and led to two-and-a-half years of visual-effects R&D and a crew of 30 special-effects technicians.

"I had people bring in 12 different kinds of sand -- this is where people think the movie industry is insane -- so I could look at it," says Raimi. "I saw California beach sand, Mojave desert sand. We ended up picking Arizona sand because it looks exactly like ground corncobs. The reason that's important is that when you bury people alive in hundreds and hundreds of pounds of sand, they'll be squished. You need something lightweight like corncobs, so air can get through and the actors and stuntmen won't be crushed."

Raimi conducted "screen tests" on a Culver City soundstage to observe the sands' "behavior." Visual-effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk elaborated: "We shot footage of sand every way we would need it -- thrown up, thrown against blue screen, over black screen. John Frazier, the special-effects supervisor, shot it out of an aero can at a stuntman. Anything we could imagine sand doing in the film, we shot."

Same on Transformers: (viaPopular Mechanics)
Michael Bay's $150 million adaptation of the legendary 1980s cartoon and toy series will include nearly 50 so-called transformations. Hand-rendered metallic uncorkings of real-life cars, trucks and helicopters represented uncharted territory for the gooey-alien experts at ILM, each transformation taking six months to imagine and each re-engineering the way digital Hollywood does computer graphics imagery (CGI).

Perhaps that is whats important for films now. Studio's only need the trailer to be good, the effects to seem unmissable on the big screen to get the cash. The same can't be said for Television which has seen a rise in high production value programming which uses quality visual effects until now exclusive to the big screen. Yet given the necessity for series to establish a following that continues throughout and sustain interesst week in week out which I think supports the fact that high budget TV shows like Lost and 24 have stronger character development and story lines than the majority of the tent pole films produced since the turn of the century. The most clear example of this is Heroes. One of the few breakout shows of last year. The soon to air on BBC2 show is brilliant. Top effects and good solid story telling. Perhaps a recent Wired article about show creator Tim Kring can shed some light on the winning formula. It starts...

Tim Kring doesn't know Magneto from Wolverine. You'd never know it from watching Heroes, his hit show about everyday people with extraordinary powers.

Kring creates balance in the show as the top tier in Production he fulfills the need to bring the supernatural back down to earth.
Kring's approach was counterintuitive to someone from a comics background, says Greg Beeman, another Smallville vet who came to Heroes as an executive producer. "I'd think, 'We need an ice guy! We need a fire guy! We need a guy who shoots rays out of his eyes!'" Beeman says. "Tim thought in terms of distinct characters." He started with a character's personal struggles and predicaments and assigned special abilities to suit. A harried single mom gets superstrength. A clock-watching Dilbert type learns to control time. A prison escapee is suddenly able to walk through walls. And when Kring's protagonists develop their powers, they don't strap on spandex and capes - they grapple with these strange developments like believable human beings.

I had thought a good exclusion to this argument of TV taking over film in terms of quality, might be Harry Potter, but as Heroes likens to cinema in quality and effects, Harry Potter has 7 features to ensure they get bums on seats for. 14 hours of "programming" of which the studio needs to inspire people to pay for. This must be inspiring Universal to look after story quality and character development. Anne Thompson's new Blog has an early review of the latest installment and concurs.

I suspect that this Harry Potter installment may experience a slight boxoffice dip. But the one I'd be worried about, if I were Warners, is the next one. Yates will be back; he did just fine with Order of the Phoenix. I have no problem with the darker, scarier Potter. That's where it has to go. But in movie terms, it does feel like we're stretching this out over a very long haul.
Finally, I have been meaning to mention a Past Deadine article from back in Feburary titled; Television -- Better Than the Movies? Deal With It? In it, Ray Richmond cites a Newsweek article tracking the evolution of TV, the HBO effect and growth in film stars eager to get seen on the small screen, an action which used to signify the steep slope of a career in decline.

Short summary; I am more excited about season premiers than summer films and I think that trend is not likely to change. What keeps me going to the cinema are the gems that TV has yet to produce, for me, the most recent example was Volver as close to a perfect film as I have every seen.

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04 July, 2007

Diesel Do Hologram Cat Walk

I found this lovely tidbit on the Creative Review Blog. This is pushing the envelop of how video can interact with live action events. The designers have created 3D cgi elements that were projected in HD from the ceiling onto "plastic foils placed at 45 degree angles so that the projected light from the ceiling goes onto a foil, is reflected on to another and then into the air".

This created dramatic effect.

Props to Danish video design agency Visoo who used their patented Free Format technology.

"As a medium, Free Format™ has been created to astound and astonish and make things happen right in front of people. A free-floating hologram which looks absolutely true to life - reminding many people of the Star Wars series. Created by projecting a specially produced film onto a see-through screen, the results are incredibly realistic, despite being an illusion. The film merges with the foreground and background to create an illusion in a real-life setting."

The most prominent example of this kind of thing is the Gorillaz Concerts, seen here with with Madonna:

There has been a lot of this going on. It was two years ago that I briefly worked on some tests for Motorola where they wanted to have triggered shop windows that had holograms walk up to passers by and introduce products. I remember the crowds outside a Nike store on Broadway in NYC where 3D holograms of product floated in the window.

I wonder why hologram is so intriguing for people. Perhaps it is more down to Star Wars than we may give credit. Is it that we feel it is the Future coming ever closer to our grasp. Regardless of our nostalgia for this image of the future, the truth is that technology and creativity are paving the way for some amazing visual productions.


Where i've been

Again, it has been ages. so I don't expect too many people to be picking this up. Firstly, I have been changing jobs, left the BBC and now back in Soho. Doing more agency stuff. The new facility uses Smokes, Flames, DS and 3D (Maya). Fun toys to be honest. In the machine room, we've got an SR deck and StreamZ Digital Rapids encoder as well as FCP, which is a bit under-utilized for my liking, but when you have a Flame in the next room, you probably aren't going to push the FCP too hard.

So, new home and perhaps a new twist on these ramblings. Will try to keep this Blog going as i find it rather therapeutic and keeps me abreast of the things I find interesting.

Here we go again.

09 May, 2007

Apple Makes Moves Under Pressure from Greenpeace

In an announcement last week, Apple came clean about their green policies and addressed concerns of Greenpeace lobbying as follows:

Apple completely eliminated the use of CRTs in mid-2006.

Apple products met both the spirit and letter of the RoHS restrictions on cadmium, hexavalent chromium and brominated flame retardants years before RoHS went into effect.

Apple plans to completely eliminate the use of arsenic in all of its displays by the end of 2008.

Apple plans to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mercury by transitioning to LED backlighting for all displays when technically and economically feasible.

Apple plans to completely eliminate the use of PVC and BFRs in its products by the end of 2008.

By 2010, Apple may be recycling significantly more than either Dell or HP as a percentage of past sales weight.

All the e-waste we collect in North America is processed in the U.S., and nothing is shipped overseas for disposal.

Apple products are designed using high quality materials that are in high demand from recyclers.

Steve concluded with the following statement:

Today is the first time we have openly discussed our plans to become a greener Apple. It will not be the last. We will be providing updates of our efforts and accomplishments at least annually, most likely around this time of the year. And we plan to bring other environmental issues to the table as well, such as the energy efficiency of the products in our industry. We are also beginning to explore the overall carbon “footprint” of our products, and may have some interesting data and issues to share later this year.

I hope you are as delighted as I was when I first learned how far along Apple actually is in removing toxic chemicals from its products and recycling its older products. We apologize for leaving you in the dark for this long. Apple is already a leader in innovation and engineering, and we are applying these same talents to become an environmental leader. Based on our tangible actions and results over time, hopefully our customers, employees, shareholders and professional colleagues will all feel proud of our ongoing efforts to become a greener Apple.

Greepeace were quick to respond with plaudits, but tempered them with a call to further action in respect to their US focused recycling programme.

Those of us working with Apple products for some time will know that it usually takes them a while to think beyond the Cupertino shores. PAL anyone?


04 May, 2007

High Definition Magazine Revamps Site With Lots of Goodies

High Definition Magazine has had a web-makeover.

You may remember me mentioning their blog with is a pretty good resource of the haps in the HD world: http://www.definitionmagazine.com/blogger.html.

Now, on their main site, they have added video content with Veoh www.veoh.com/channels/hdtv.

The video content should support the articles from the mag and case studies.


Final cut Studio 2 Date for Your Calendar

No, I am not going to cover old ground. Lots of good new toys from Apple have been fully talked about and it will be fun to see how they all work. If you didn't get out to NAB in Vegas and are in London you can register for a free demo day on the 22nd of May at the Riverbank Park Plaza.

Register Here!

Final Cut Pro 6 in Depth. See the power of the open format timeline and the new ProRes 422 format.

Motion 3 in Depth. Discover how to quickly add depth and realism to your motion graphics for video and film. Watch us build a broadcast promo piece from scratch — all in 3D, all in real time.

Soundtrack Pro in Depth. Experience Soundtrack Pro 2 as we move through audio post-production, sound design and surround mixing.

Introducing Color. Learn how colour, like sound and music, is a critical “character” in your video productions. See how the all-new Color application can be used to dramatically improve the quality of your footage — from DV to 2K.

Compressor 3 in Depth. Find out how to deliver your content in the multitude of formats available today.

27 February, 2007

Distribution in the UK

In reading recent interviews with David Lynch in the run-up to the UK release of his latest film Inland Empire, a lot has been made of the difficulty Lynch faces getting distribution deals. I hope this really means he struggles to get wide release and lucrative deals, because if the director of such great works as Twin Peaks, Dune, Blue Velvet and Eraserhead struggles, than we have no hope.

If you need a bit of insight into how things work, Launching films has this 20 page introduction to how distribution works in the UK.

Highlights include this summary of the distribution cycle:

Connecting every film with its audience immerses distributors in a great deal of activity before and during a cinema release. For any given title, some of the phases listed below may overlap or be combined.
  • Producer/studio acquires rights to film a story or treatment
  • Screenplay is developed
  • Production finance and cast and crew are confirmed
  • Principal photography takes place, in studios and/or on agreed locations,followed by some months of post-production, editing and scoring
  • Master print of finished film is delivered to local distributor
  • Distributor determines release strategy and release date
  • Distributor presents the film to exhibitors and negotiates bilateral agreements to have the film shown in cinemas
  • Distributor’s marketing campaign creates a ‘want to see’ buzz among the target audience and launches the film
  • Prints are delivered to cinemas a few days before opening
  • Film’s run extends any number of weeks subject to demand, which may be augmented by additional marketing activity
After its final playdate, the film print is returned or transported securely to another cinema. Ultimately, most prints are destroyed under supervised conditions, with a small number retained in archives, and the distributor’s rights in respect of the theatrical release expire.

Run-up To NAB

Here we go again. It's nearing March and with it comes all the speculation about April. Here are a couple of the key rumors and announcements circulating.

Final Cut Pro 6 - Think Secret leading the charge with claims of a "real time video editing engine". Does this mean mixed resolution timelines without rendering? Or stacking HD and effects with real time playback. Or will we finally be able to edit HDV? C'mon, you all know HDV is shit to edit with.
Along with this rumor comes the hope of a beast of an app in Final Cut Extreme. This is a rehash from last year, but my assumption would be that FCP 6 could be powerful enough to muster the industry's praise.

Brightcove - Added features allows users to create their own channels hosted by Brightcove comprised of free/submitted content. Kind of like a favorites list that they can then promote to other users.

Sony - has lots of product announcements for NAB, including HD Studio Cameras and HD Xchange


22 February, 2007

Colonel Blimp Gives Props To New Lily Allen Video

She may not have won a Brit. But she has a fun new video. Colonel Blip gives us a nice little sneak preview of her new video featuring a very rude little muppet.

Have a look at the video HERE.

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