A Day At The Beach…

Or, how to get nasal enemas.

Nick and I decided to head down to the beach today and catch some fresh waves. We took the scenic route down Highway 17, and enjoyed how green northern California is. Arriving into Santa Cruz, we hit up the Mike Fox Skatepark. It surprised me with the size, it looked a lot larger in the pictures. The most notable feature was the 20′ full pipe. I got some cool footage of Nick doing what he does best… Shredding.
After riding there for a while we hit up a local surf shop and came away with some wetsuits and body boards. We found some nice waves and had a good time riding them, and crashing on the shore. If you are wondeirng how to completely clean out your sinus’s, try body boarding.
It was a special day as we where able to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the with traditional mexican food prepared at a the local grease pit. From the sound of it, it wasn’t anything like the Aller/Schafer Party. Though we had a good time anyway.

A Day At The Track

Or, How I Made A Mess Of Myself

For the last semester, in my advanced cinematography class, we have been involved in producing some marketing footage for Kirkham Motorsports. Kirkham makes replica Shelby Cobras. It has been a really fun project that was broken up into three sections. We had a shop day where we filmed promo footage at their shop. A day was spent at the Nebo loop, part of the Wasatch mountains, and, the last was part was spent at the Miller Motor Sports Park. I was really excited to be a part of this, especially after being raised by my gear-head father. I spent most of the day near the track, filming close shots with Chris Hill and Brandon Beckham. It was a lot of fun watching these cars making 130 mph passes. It wasn’t long befire I was really itching to have some of the action to myself.

During lunch, the opportunity arose to do some in car filming. Me and Chris both jumped at the chance to do it. Chris hopped into a Cobra, and I jumped into a brand new 2007 Subaru WRX Sti. Now, many people may balk that I would rather jump into a Subaru then hit the Cobras. I have been a huge Subaru advocate for a long time, and thought the idea of doing 90 mph all-wheel drive drifts sounded like a good idea. So, we took a few laps, it was great. We played chase camera to the Cobra, and got some good footage.

The shooting was pretty intense. It took every muscle in my body to try and keep the camera straight, and true. I ended up wearing a full face helmet that after a few laps started to get a little stuffy. Now, I have been snowmobiling for most of my life, and am used to wearing a helmet. This helmet, as soon as the lid shut, latched shut, and I was unable to open it…

As we raced around the track, I was giddy for joy. I just about giggled, but I thought the dude next to me might think less of me, so I restrained myself, and pushed ahead. Lap after lap, as the g-forces worked on me, I started to get a little queasy. Now, when I was a kid, I used to get car sick really easy, so I put down the camera, and just focused on the road ahead. I decided that some air would help, and I tried to lift the mask of the helmet. It wouldn’t move. It decided to just stay fastened shut. I used both hands to try to get the helmet open, but nothing would get it open… I started to get nervous, and a little bit of claustrophobia settled in on me.

It was the last lap, and the driver asked me if we were done. I was eager to finish. And we headed for pit row. I put the camera at my feet, knowing that it was valued around $7000, to the cars $35,000. I pushed and pulled to do everything that I could do to get the helmet off, but to no avail. I ended up puking into the helmet before I got it off. Then, all over the car. Then all over the sidewalk. It was way embarrassing… What a way to end the semester, puking all over yourself in front of your peers and a client.

In the end, I was able to get it all cleaned up, and the driver of the car was way cool about it. I feel bad knowing that he was only able to get a few laps in his cobra, and only a few more before the Subaru got destroyed for the day. I hear that we are going to have another track day, I will stay out of the the car, and there might be a little less mess at the end of the day.

My Hockey Final…

Yes, I had to write a final for my hockey class… So, we are asked to write a great paper that is interesting and humorous about a time when we attended a hockey event. I will tell you, this has been the most hockey-fueled semester of my life. Aside from being an avid Mighty Ducks fan when I was a kid, (I later grew out of it… quack, quack, quack…) I have never really been that into hockey. About a year ago, a friend talked me into attending a drop-in event. I was a little leery, but, up to a challenge.

As we arrived to the ice, with modern-day giants stood looming over me, I took a moment to consider the options before me. On one hand, I could duck and cover and take the easy route and seriously avoid bodily harm, or, stand boldly, and go where no Spurlock has gone before–to the goal. I decided to go with the latter.

Side note…

For a few years, my family had season passes to Cottonwood Heights Rec Center. We went ice skating all the time, and I thought that my abilities where strong…

That was then, this is now…

So, as I paraded down the ice, waiting for the puck, it dawned on me that I have absolutely no hockey abilities, and that I would be better suited warming the bench or perhaps folding towels… As I smashed into the ice, and fell on my a$$, I gained a new found respect for nice thick pants.

Now a year later, and a semester of professional hockey lessons, I am feeling a little more comfortable on the ice, and the butt pads and cup that I got are really helping that out…

Why You Should Go To Film School…

Well, my last post about college caused a stir. I guess that was the point. Just to clarify, I wrote that on April 1, 2007, or, in the free-world April Fools Day. I thought that it would be a fun joke to plan on my family and friends. My mother-in-law, and wife are going to kill me if I don’t finish school, so, I thought I would add this, and give some good reasons to stay in school. As another point of clarification, this is only an argument for Film school, not college in general.

So, without further adieu, here are 10 reasons you should go to Film School:

1. Peer connections.

Your classmates may be the most valuable resource you’ll ever have. Go through the program, make friends, find alliances, and when you get out, stay in touch with everyone. As long as you realize there’s life after film school and don’t burn your bridges while you’re there, you’ll be able to find collaborators for your own projects, or possibly get a job on another classmate’s project. While you’re there you may even meet a writing or producing partner–the Joel to your Ethan Coen. That’s not a good comparison, since they’re brothers, not classmates, but… you get the point. Also, peer connections aren’t the only advantages that come with a film school degree; you’ll also get…

2. Industry connections.

Because film is a so-called “glamour” industry, everyone and their mother wants to work in it; this means the barriers to entry are more prohibitive than they are in, say, the hospitality industry. Breaking in is hard. But going to a program like USC or NYU, (even UVSC) gains you instant connections to an alumni network. This can be in the form of your professors keeping in touch with previous students who now work in the industry, it can be through your school’s career services, or it can even be in the form of finding out at a job interview that your would-be boss also went to your alma mater (suddenly your job prospects are looking up). But for many of these interviews, to even get your foot in the door you need…

3. Technical know-how.

While listing 10 reasons not to go to film school, I asked, “can art be taught?” While that inspired some debate, I don’t think there’s any doubting that craft is certainly teachable. I would even note in support of the “art can be taught” argument that, while at my first semester at the U, I learned how to draw; I would argue that being taught to sketch “mediocrely” [sic] is, in fact, merely an instruction on craft. So while no one can teach you how to be the next Scorcese, they can teach you camera framing, continuity editing, or high and low-key lighting. If you think you want to specialize–that is, if you want to be an editor or cinematographer, for example–then film school can certainly give you the technical knowledge to be proficient in those areas. And while you’re learning the technical aspects of film, you’re also getting….

4. Intelligent feedback.

Your professors and peers, being educated and theoretically intelligent when it comes to film, can give you sophisticated feedback on your own projects and ideas, and help mold you into a better filmmaker. Outside the haven of film school, it’s not easy to get together a group of film-aware individuals, and have them critique your project. Considering that film school typically takes place during your formative years, the collective wisdom and advice you receive during your attendance could help inform your whole career. And much of this advice comes from…

5. Mentors to push you.

Shooting a no-budget DV flick with all your friends in it, and then showing it to that same group of friends and getting their “that’s me on screen, this is awesome!” feedback, may not be the best way to develop your inner auteur. If you go to film school, you may or may not meet a great professor that inspires you in your studies, but if you do, that experience alone can be worth the price of admission. A good professor can push you to work harder and be more daring than you would be on your own; even if you don’t find any particularly great teachers, however, the professors can collectively teach you…

6. History and theory.

Even if you want to make experimental, avant-garde films, you’re still standing on the shoulders of giants. Not knowing theory and history is the equivalent of saying ignorance is bliss. Many young aspiring filmmakers cultivate a belief that “truly” creative films are created in a vacuum–and it’s easy to buy into this, given Hollywood’s current penchant for remakes, adaptations, and other “homages”–but skipping an immersion in history and theory is one sure way of shooting yourself in the foot, not only in terms of your own knowledge of what’s been done before, but in terms of…

7. Credibility.

Diplomas are a necessity in many professions; film is not one of them (I’m still waiting for someone’s “directed by” credit to be capped off with a “Ph.D”). Nevertheless, industry vets looking to separate the wheat from the chaff will often take you more seriously if you graduated from film school; at the very minimum, it shows you’re serious about it (because, as already stated, everyone and their mother wants to be in movies). Of course, what truly matters in film is not where you went to school, but what’s on your reel and what credits you have to your name; that is, what you’ve actually done. And in order to accomplish things, you need…

8. Time for your projects.

If you opt out of film school and do the 9-5 thing, pursuing your own projects on the side can be prohibitively difficult (to a certain extent, this depends on what your day job arrangements are). Working a day job and saving up your money to work on your own blood-sweat-and-tears project has a certain romantic appeal to it, but you’ll need funds, equipment, free time, and last but not least, collaborators. Film isn’t like writing, where you can sit down and do it yourself; for the most part, you need someone in front of the camera, too. And even if you’re shooting a documentary all by yourself, you’re most likely going to need large chunks of time set aside to shoot, which you might not be able to swing with an employer who expects you to show up to work every day. Film school gives you the collaborators, framework, and the time and space to work on your film pursuits (unless, of course, you go to a film program where only one in ten gets to actually produce his or her project, and everyone else becomes crew…). Also, if you stay in film school, you’re more likely to…

9. Stay the course.

If you throw yourself into the working world, you’ll tend to go where the opportunities are, and often times they aren’t always film-related. I’m not saying that you’ll come out of school with your sights set on being a writer/director and somehow end up becoming an air traffic controller, but I am saying that it’s likely you’ll take some detours along the way. If you go to film school, you’re setting aside three years to focus on film alone, and it’s one way of ensuring that you won’t get sidetracked. No matter how focused you are, however…

10. You either have it or you don’t.

Yeah, it’s the same as my #10 reason not to go to film school, but that’s exactly the point; it applies to both lines of reasoning. If you’re truly motivated to express yourself through the medium of film, ultimately… you’re going to find a way to express yourself through the medium of film, degree or not.

Summary

No “10 reasons why” list is ever going to make up anyone’s mind about film school (nor would a “3,457 reasons why” list). Ultimately the decision of whether or not to go to film school is dependent upon personal, not general, reasons: whether you enjoy the classroom environment, how well you get along with professors, how independent you are, what your level of film education and technical abilities are when you’re making the decision, what type of films you eventually want to make, how you want to make them, and a hundred other personal factors.

Still, these are ten pretty fundamental reasons to go (or not). If you’ve read both arguments and crave further food for thought, chime in with your opinion in the comments.

NAB Live Blog

I thought that I would take a charge with LiveBlogging the Apple Special Event. Reminds me a lot of WWDC… Very Appley. 😉

So, the Apple Special event is about half an hour away, and I think that I saw the front of the line near the Venetian, but I think that I walked all the way to Colorado to the back… Kind of disconcerting.

Updates to come.

Update #1

Well, even after being in the very back of the line, I still managed to get a seat on the second row… Same uber-trendy music available that I would expect from Apple… this will probably get started in here in about ten minutes…

Update #2

I wonder how long it will take before Google shows me as a place for liveblogging the Special Event? It is getting a little more crowded as people start to show up. There is still a lot of seats though. To bad Mike and Juan couldn’t get in with me.

Update #3

Looks like they are gearing to get going here.

From MacRumors

9:55 am It is a MacWorld-style conference hall (aka very large). 3 Macs are on stage and set up to the right.

9:54 am People are being seated… “there are a lot of people. we thought we were far back on line, and then a ton more got on line. I think some people are going to be turned away”

Update #4

Rob Schoben
There is over 800,000 paid Final Cut users…
It’s a Final Cut World.
NAB Demo Reel… Wow.
Half Nelson, 300, Letters from Iwo Gima…

Update #5

Final Cut Server, built for Media Asset Management. Review and approve tools. and there are automated encoding and automation tools. Final Cuter Server is cross platform. Looks great.

Update #6

$999 for ten users, and and $1999 for unlimited seats.
Final Cut Studio 2
ProRes 4:2:2 New codec for HD
Sony has a new HDCAM deck that will work with this.
Panasonic AVC-Intra same thing…
RED PROMO!
AJA has a Hardware based product called the ioHD Looks sweet…

Update #7

Open Format timeline. Wow.
Smooth Cam one Final Cut
MoTrip, templates from Motion are editable in Final Cut.
Open Timeline wow…. there can not be enough wows here…

Update #8

Cameras and light sources from Motion and 3D.
Vector Based Paint
Match Moving
Audio Behaviors
Wow…

Update #9

Motion looks great, can’t wait to get my hands on that.
Soundtrack ADR supposed to be better.
Surround sound mixing with Soundtrack
Lots of 5.1 plugins
The new hud for audio edit abilities are looking very nice…

Update #10

Neat Fireworks… Lol
Wow.
Compressor is used for everything that is in the iTunes store.
Dynamic Overlays are now in Compressor.
Compressor 3 is 2.8x times faster then 2.
New GUI for Compressor

Update #11

No update to DVD Studio Pro
Same price
History Lesson on FCP
New product called Color
REal-time professional color grading.
Cohen Brothers use FCP for everything.
Cohen Brothers video
It looks like you will be able to use Aperture like effects in FCP

Update #12

Color looks great…
Tracking built in
Shake like interface. This must have been the acquisition of that color correcting company.
Wow. Can’t wait to play with Color.

Update #13

Color to be part of FCS2
Editing Unleashed
The reel one more time…
Great show.