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HOTPIXEL POST: ASK OUR COLORIST – Anthony Harris on Integrating VFX Into Your Workflow

Film Title: Snow White and the Huntsman

The blog over at HotPixel Post Production is gonna have a lot of great, new features this year, and one of the features I’m most excited about is our new column, ASK OUR COLORIST, where our amazing Head Colorist, Anthony Harris (who’s done color for movies like Snow White and the Huntsman and Life of Pi), explains his craft. Periodically, he’ll talk about a different aspect of color correction, while I provide a glossary of all the technobabble. 🙂 If you’re a new filmmaker, or even an established one who wants to understand your crew better, check this out!

EXCERPT:

Editor’s Note: I asked Anthony to explain how he, as a colorist, integrates visual effects (VFX) into his workflow as he works on a film. Here’s what he had to say:

Usually I do a neutral grade on a plate which is just using lift/gamma/gain with no keys or shapes or anything like that, and send it out to the VFX company. Or, when the visual effect is small, they can apply their effect on the plate, and then they send the raw image back to me and I can bring that plate the rest of the way.

A neutral grade basically says that I’m going to use a basic lift/gamma/gain corrections to put it in the neighborhood of the surrounding footage, and not do anything too dynamic to allow the VFX company to have the range to put their effect in it without clipping values or harming the plate in any way. And when I get it, I still have the range to make it look natural.

But if you’re talking about a big visual effects project where – maybe there’s a greenscreen or bluescreen, and the whole background is a visual effect – maybe I’ll do the foreground plate, then sort of massage the plate into the other plates when the shot comes back from visual effects. If the shot is very VFX heavy, there’s nothing I can really do ahead of time, so I’ll work on the rest of the project until the shots come in, and drop them into the surrounding footage.

For the full post, or to leave a comment, CLICK HERE!

PS – check out the work of my friend, Barbie Brady, as she is HotPixel’s Artist of the Month (another new feature!). You can see her take on the HotPixel logo now through March 2 when you visit the site!

HOTPIXEL POST: Instant: Tony Janning and Roddenberry Entertainment Bring Their Latest to HotPixel

Janning in a scene from Instant. Photo courtesy of JCHB Gallery.

Janning in a scene from Instant. Photo courtesy of JCHB Gallery.

There’s news over at HotPixel, and it involves sci-fi, so listen up, geeks! 😉

HotPixel just completed post-production work on an indie sci-fi short film called Instant, which stars (and was co-produced by) Tony Janning of Legend of Neil fame, and produced by Roddenberry Entertainment! Yes, that Roddenberry. I talked to Janning a little about the film…

EXCERPT:

Tony Janning has gained a new respect for producing in the past year. He’s always considered himself an Actor/Writer/Producer, most notably on Comedy Central’s popular digital series, The Legend of Neil, but the first two labels were the ones he wore most often.

Then came Instant.

Instant is a 20-minute dramatic science fiction short film directed by Alex Albrecht and co-produced by Janning, Chad Kennedy, and Roddenberry Entertainment. Yes, as in Star Trek. More specifically, Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, Jr., who runs Roddenberry Entertainment with C.O.O, Trevor Roth, and produces content of interest to modern sci-fi fans while staying true to his father’s vision for the future. Instant was written and co-produced by Janning’s friend, writer Todd Beauchamp, who first mentioned the story to him over drinks with friends.

“A lot of the themes in it relate to what Roddenberry’s always been about. It comes from a very personal place for [Todd], and there’s a lot of things in it that deal with family, humanity, and hoping for a better future.”

For the full post, or to make a comment, check it out at the HotPixel blog by CLICKING HERE!

HOTPIXEL POST: THE HOT LIST: Ryan Jaffe – Writer/Director of This Is Happening

Mickey Sumner, Cloris Leachman, and James Wolk in a scene from This Is Happening. Photo courtesy of the production.

Mickey Sumner, Cloris Leachman, and James Wolk in a scene from This Is Happening. Photo courtesy of the production.

I’ve hit the ground running over at the HotPixel Post Production blog, starting the year off with a bang – and a new Hot List! This month’s focus is on writer/director, Ryan Jaffe, who is making his feature film directorial debut with an independent film that’s already generating a lot of buzz in Hollywood due to the top-notch writing, and a stellar cast that includes James Wolk (Mad Men), Mickey Sumner (Frances Ha), and Cloris Leachman. The film is called This Is Happening, and you can check out my interview with Jaffe over at the HotPixel blog!

EXCERPT:

In 2000, writer/director Ryan Jaffe’s father asked him and his brother to take ten days to visit his dying grandmother. After having beaten cancer twice in the 1980s, Jaffe’s grandmother was fighting the disease again, and after a series of blood transfusions would likely not survive much longer. So, the Jaffe boys made the trip, though it wasn’t the easiest trip to make. Jaffe and his brother didn’t have the closest relationship, and were very different people. Add that to the fact that their grandmother wasn’t the most demonstrative person in the world and, as Jaffe explains, “It was three people thrown into this ten-day trip who really didn’t have that much in common.”

That trip led to a screenplay Jaffe wrote called This Is Happening, the story of an estranged brother and sister who are forced to go on the road together to track down their suddenly fugitive grandmother. Now, at 40, Jaffe has completed the film and is on the verge of releasing this story out into the world that’s been over ten years in the making.

The film stars James Wolk (Mad Men) and Mickey Sumner (Frances Ha) as the brother and sister, and Cloris Leachman as their runaway grandmother, as well as a supporting cast rounded out by Judd Nelson and Rene Auberjonois. To Jaffe, “It’s a dysfunctional family movie, and ultimately what I think it’s about is a journey where you need to find your family in order to find yourself. Which I think is the opposite a lot of times of coming of age experiences where it’s like ‘Run away from your family and you’ll figure yourself out.’ But it’s actually, even if you can’t stand your family, run to them, and maybe it’ll work out.”

For the full interview, or to leave a comment, CLICK HERE!

And if you’d like to nominate someone on which I should shine a spotlight in an upcoming Hot List post, email me at teresa[at]hotpixelpost[dot]com!

HOTPIXEL POST: THE HOT LIST: Jason Been, President of Imagecraft

It’s been a while, but here’s the latest at the HotPixel blog! I had the chance to talk to Jason Been, president of Imagecraft, a production rental company that is more hands-on than your average rental house. Indie creators, take note! You’re gonna wanna keep this place in the back of your mind next time you’re working on a project!

EXCERPT:

When I asked him about what indie filmmakers need to keep in mind before approaching rentals, Been echoed what many of our Hot List subjects have insisted upon – preparation is key, and approaching a company like Imagecraft earlier in the process will save you time and money  in the long run.

Been says, “The cool thing about this business is that you bring a lot of minds to the table. On an indie project, the creative side is usually one that is getting everything done, and they need a lot of help so that the tech side of things can conform with the creative side of things. So, that’s where it helps if you start the conversation early on, so that the technical side can work with the creative. Sometimes, you have these grandiose ideas – which are great – but then can you cover these things financially? Can your technical folks cover you with whatever you need?”

And most importantly, “The earlier you plan, the cheaper it’ll be.”

For the full post, or to leave a comment, CLICK HERE!

HOTPIXEL POST: The Hot List: PAUL OSBORNE – Writer/Director/Exec. Producer of FAVOR

favor_207

It’s time for the monthly Hot List over at the HotPixel blog again! This time, I had the pleasure of interviewing the awesome Paul Osborne, writer/director/Executive Producer of the thriller, Favor, which I recently watched on Hulu, and was amazing (and slightly insane).

EXCEPT:

Favor, Osborne’s narrative feature directorial debut, explores the adage “A friend helps you move. A good friend helps you move a dead body” completely literally. Kip (Blayne Weaver) has always gotten everything he’s wanted: a thriving career, beautiful wife, and an affluent lifestyle, all of which is put in jeopardy when Abby, the waitress with whom he’s having a casual fling, is accidentally killed in their motel room. Desperate, he ends up on the doorstep of childhood friend Marvin (Patrick Day), an unemployed and divorced loser, and asks him for a massive favor: help get rid of the body. What comes next is an examination of how time and class affect relationships.

“I think we all have friends where the friendship has outlived its shelf life, but we’ve maintained them out of habit, and you have nothing in common anymore,” Osborne explains. “And I’m at an age when I remember a world before social media; where if you lost touch with a college friend, they were gone. Now, they’re around. So, people I knew from junior high are finding me on Twitter and Facebook, and I don’t really have anything in common with some of them anymore. I go on my Facebook feed, and I’ll post something and responding to it will be someone I worked with when I was twenty, a high school friend, my mom, my daughter, someone I met at a film festival, and my wife. It’s very strange. So that’s part of what I wanted to explore.”

For the full post, or to comment, CLICK HERE.

HOTPIXEL POST: "HotPixel Welcomes Colorist, Anthony Harris!"

Anthony Harris.

My latest interview at the HotPixel blog actually posted last week, but I never posted it here, and figured I should remedy that! I did an interview with the newest member of the HotPixel team – the brilliant, illustrious (and super-sweet) colorist, Anthony Harris, who’s worked on films like Spider-Man, Life of Pi, and of course, THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE, Starship Troopers. 🙂 In this interview, he discusses his amazing career, as well as what independent filmmakers need to know about hiring a colorist.

EXCERPT:

“[In] big studios, a lot of the legwork was done before it got to me,” he explains. “So, I’m enjoying being in a situation where there are clients who may not have been doing it for twenty years, or who may not be working for a studio where everything is provided and there’s a person hired to do every single little thing. It’s exciting, because it keeps me on top of my game! I have to know what I’m talking about to be able to help a client, so ultimately that helps me. I think that when you work for a big studio, and you come into the office, and everything’s on your desk and ready to go, and you do your job and walk away, and someone else takes it from there, you can kind of get too comfortable.

“So, the one thing I’ve learned in the time I’ve worked for HotPixel is that, no, you need to know it all. From when the client brings the drive in – and I know this sounds ridiculous – where do you plug it in? [laughs] Where does it go? How do you conform? What are your steps from getting it in to getting it out? And being able to do it all myself, I’ve learned so much in the last month. It’s a very big confidence builder. Anything that you do [in the film industry], it’s a craft, and if you really enjoy your craft, you want to know it all, regardless of whether you need to use those skills every day, you want to be able to know what you’re doing. And that’s what I enjoy most about working with everyone here.”

This desire to learn more and be on top of his game was evident even when he was just starting out. At Sony Pictures, he started out in the model shop. Quickly realizing that the model shop was not where he wanted to be, he expressed this to friends he had at Sony Imageworks, and was hired there as a PA. The first film on which he worked? The cult classic sci-fi film, Starship Troopers.

For the full post, or to leave a comment, CLICK HERE.

HOTPIXEL POST: "STRING THEORY AT THE HOLLYSHORTS FILM FESTIVAL – FRIDAY!"

Photo Credit: Bill Young Photography.

Photo Credit: Bill Young Photography.

Hey there, everyone! If you’re down with indie film in L.A. you might want to check out the Hollyshorts Film Festival August 14-23! It’s a great place to see some awesome new films as well as network with fellow indie creators.

AND, a HotPixel project is gonna be screening there on Friday! 🙂 I wrote about it over at the HotPixel blog…

EXCERPT:

You’ve heard about the awesome, musical short film, String Theory, here at the blog before! Well, now it’s moving onward and upward as it travels the film festival circuit, and we wanted to make sure you have the chance to go see it on the big screen!

String Theory has been selected for screening at the 10th Annual Hollyshorts Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theater. The entire festival runs from August 14-23, but String Theory is screening in the 3D AND VISUAL STIMULATION block on this Friday, August 15th at 7:30PM!

For the full post, as well as more info on the 10th Annual Hollyshorts Film festival, CLICK HERE.

HOTPIXEL POST: "HotPixel Helps Trigger Street and Jameson Whiskey JUMP!"

Uma Thurman stars in three short films by first-time filmmakers. Photo Courtesy of Jameson First Shot.

Uma Thurman stars in three short films by first-time filmmakers. Photo Courtesy of Jameson First Shot.

The latest over at the HotPixel blog features Uma Thurman! Not only that, but it features Barak Hardley, one of the stars of Ashleigh Nichols and Eddie Beasley’s awesome web comedy, Coffee Shop Squatters!

EXCERPT:

HotPixel recently handled color correction on the latest Uma Thurman project!

The sixteen-minute short film, written and directed by Jessica Valentine, is one of the winners of Jameson First Shot, a three-year-old contest produced by Kevin Spacey’s Trigger Street Productions that allows three first-time filmmakers from different parts of the world (the US, Russia, and South Africa) the opportunity to have their first films produced professionally and star Uma Thurman.

Lisa McGuire, one of the producers along with Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti, and Carter Swan at Trigger Street, spoke with me about this opportunity that Jameson provides to first-time filmmakers.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for first-time filmmakers to have the Hollywood Experience with a short film. So we surround them with a very experienced crew – for example, I’ve worked in this business for twelve years – so we have wonderful people to bring on, and a lot of these people have returned all three years. That’s how wonderful and fun this project is. A lot of [crew] do this for much less than normal rates, for the love of what it is, and they bring in a star, and we make a movie for them. Everything from the pre-production meetings, to the location scouting, to shooting, to post-production. It’s really fun to work with these directors – to actually bring them to Los Angeles and see what the typical L.A. filmmaking experience is.”

For the full post, or to leave a comment, CLICK HERE!

 

HOTPIXEL POST: "Searching For Fortune" In Variety!

John Heard (center) with members of the production team on the set of Searching For Fortune.

John Heard (center) with members of the production team on the set of Searching For Fortune.

The industry is starting to buzz about the film on which HotPixel is currently doing post-production! Check out the HotPixel blog to link to Variety’s early coverage of Searching For Fortune!

CLICK HERE to access my post!

HOTPIXEL POST: "Director Joseph Matarrese Goes 'Searching For Fortune'!"

Matrrese (center) directs "Searching For Fortune" leads Brian Smolensky and Christina Moore.

Matrrese (center) directs “Searching For Fortune” leads Brian Smolensky and Christina Moore. Photo courtesy of Distant Thunder Films.

It’s always cool when you get to talk to an ambitious person who works in The Industry and is also a nice, grounded person with their head screwed on straight. I had the chance to speak with one such person when I interviewed indie director, Joseph Matarrese, for the HotPixel blog about his first feature film, Searching For Fortune. Not only do I see his promise as a director, but I love that he sees film as something bigger than himself and measures success not only by what he can accomplish, but what he can help others accomplish.

EXCERPT:

Joseph Matarrese and his twin brother, Philip, have been filmmakers since they were in fifth grade, growing up in the Bay Area. In fact, they’re still operating under the same production company name, Distant Thunder Films, that they came up with back then. Of course, things are much more Official these days. Their talents and skill level have evolved and grown since their youth, but their passion for creating stories for the big screen has always been oversized, and it seems that their lives have finally caught up to their youthful ambition.

Matarrese is in the process of directing his first feature film, Searching for Fortune, under the Distant Thunder banner (his brother, Phil, is one of the producers, along with Mandi Reno), and it’s clear to see even from the rough cut screening of the film I was invited to attend weeks ago that Matarrese prioritizes character-driven storytelling and has a particular respect for 1970s cinema. As I learned when I spoke to him for HotPixel, he also has a huge amount of respect for the hierarchy of a film set.

“We both have very similar tastes and feeling about how sets should be run,” Matarrese says about working with family. “And we also love the hierarchy of a film set and believe that there should only be one captain of the ship. It’s great to have somebody to bounce ideas off of, but also knowing that we both respect the hierarchy so much that if, say, Phil is directing something and he says ‘No, it has to be this way,’ even if I disagree, it has to be that way. And vice versa.

I know a lot of twins who don’t necessarily get along and would probably kill each other, but we’ve been working together since the fifth grade, so we’ve worked out a system.”

For the full interview, or to leave a comment, CLICK HERE!

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