Archive for May, 2013

by Joe Giambrone


(Article is from May 2013, and newer camera models release constantly. The principles remain the same.)

So you’re confused by all the choices, and you don’t know what they really all entail?  Differences in cameras may not seem all that important, until you look carefully, as audiences tend to do when the image is thirty feet tall.

A Little How-To

Note: Images were grabbed from the net to illustrate the points in the text.  Don’t’ take them as the end-all.  As any cinematographer who cashes checks will likely say: “Test.”

Section One: People With Bucks

Okay film, glorious 35mm Kodak or Fuji filmstock.  Here’s why:

Inception used 35mm + 65mm Kodak Vision3 250D 5207, Vision3 500T 5219 INCEPTION

Promised Land used 35mm Fuji Super F-64D 8522, Eterna Vivid 250D 8546, Eterna Vivid 500T 8547promised-land06

The Wrestler used 16 mm Kodak Vision2 200T 7217, Vision3 500T 7219 the-wrestler-3

All-time favorite film stock
35 mm, Eastman EXR 500T 5298Eyes-Wide-Shut-1999-BluRay-720p

Rolling film is expensive, and sometimes the directing style dictates lots of footage, always running improvisation.  Digital can be more amenable to that situation.

Dynamic range is important for capturing smoothly rolled off highlights, before they overexpose to pure white.  This single factor is perhaps the most crucial ingredient for achieving a digital camera look that mimics real film.  Kodak Vision 3 is rated at 13 stops according to the company.  Every F stop of dynamic range doubles the amount of light captured.  Thus, a digital camera with more dynamic range requires a lot more data storage as well as a sensor that is capable of capturing such high contrast of light in the first place.

A unique characteristic of film is the grain structure in the crystals, which comprise the image.  This grain also helps soften the areas of pure whiteness that occur when a part of a negative is blown out to overexposure.  Grain adds a subtle texture to the frames as they flow by at 24 frames per second, which is often lacking in digital footage.  Grain is sometimes mimicked to make digital footage look more like film, but it seldom achieves the total look of actual film, which responds uniquely to light that hits the various layers of emulsion.  Grain can also be too heavy in the case of low-light or underexposed film.  For low-light night shooting, a digital camera with a more sensitive sensor may make more sense.

Film grain also changes depending upon the size of the negative, as an 8mm image blown up to the same size as a 35mm image would show magnified grains.  A happy medium is 16mm, with 4 times the resolution of 8mm.  Well shot 16mm film provides a medium level of grain to the image consistent with crime and grindhouse horror cinema.  For example, The Walking Dead series has been captured on 16mm Kodak film (7219).

Click and zoom in to see the grain BDDefinitionWalkingDead-1-1080

Top-Tier Digital Cinema Cameras

These can be rented by the day, week or longer.




A Batavia High School teacher’s fans are rallying to support him as he faces possible discipline for advising students of their Constitutional rights before taking a school survey on their behavior.

…But John Dryden said he’s not the point. He wants people to focus on the issue he raised: Whether school officials considered that students could incriminate themselves with their answers to the survey that included questions about drug and alcohol use.

Dryden, a social studies teacher, told some of his students April 18 that they had a 5th Amendment right to not incriminate themselves by answering questions on the survey, which had each student’s name printed on it.

Warning lands Batavia teacher in hot water

Police state school administrator clowns think that they own your children.

Snoop v. Flu Shots

Posted: May 28, 2013 in -
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve got a recurring theme here today…



This is an important article:

While the U.S. is pouring arms into the jihadist-controlled areas, they have also downplayed the atrocities committed by these rebels, which are well documented on Youtube and include a multitude of war crimes that include beheadings, group execution of prisoners, ethnic cleansing, and the recent episode where a famous rebel commander was videotaped mutilating a dead Syrian solider and eating his heart.

How Obama and Al-Qaeda Became Syrian Bedfellows


Corporate thugs need to be hunted down and locked up.  What good is having Special Forces and SEALs if they can’t go after the real bad guys?

iStockPhoto SLC Minilypse-Judicial Court

Katherine Eban Exposes Massive Fraud at Generic Lipitor Manufacturer

I uncovered a presentation that was given in 2004, to a subcommittee of Ranbaxy’s Board of Directors. It was the result of an internal investigation into the fraud. The presentation, before the CEO, board chairman and others, made clear that Ranbaxy had lied to regulators and falsified data worldwide. “More than 200 products in more than 40 countries” have “elements of data that were fabricated to support business needs,” the PowerPoint stated. It noted that in entire markets — including Brazil, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Egypt, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Peru, and the Dominican Republic — the company had simply not tested the drugs and had invented all the data.

…The Japanese drug maker Daiichi Sankyo, Ranbaxy’s majority owner, announced that it may be pursuing legal remedies against “certain former shareholders” (perhaps the former CEO Malvinder Singh, and his brother, who sold their shares for $2 billion) for misrepresenting the true state of the company, and the FDA’s investigation, at the time it purchased the company. But the real question for American consumers is, what are the FDA and Congress doing to ensure that generic drugs from overseas are safe?


I will definitely be seeing this.  More here.


1389.9 Holocaust A


Bonus: Sarah Palin v. Lady Gaga

Straight From WTFistan

Posted: May 27, 2013 in -
Tags: ,


As is expected in this action / crime / military genre, right wing ideology is a stock in trade.

Jack Reacher is a lawman outside the law.  He’ll do the “right thing” no matter what the law is.  Stuffed with interesting fight scenarios, car chases, shootouts, in the end the story is one lengthy sales pitch for the death penalty.  As in all death penalty propaganda, the innocent men wrongly executed get no mention.  The moral qualms of US governors who placed moratoriums on the practice get no mention.  Problems in the “justice” system, however, do appear – but is this simply the bad apple lament?  Ooops, I guess there’s a spoiler in there somewhere, sort of, maybe.


Essentially the city’s DA has a daughter, and she opposes daddy’s death penalty policies.  A heinous, complex spree murder though is set to change her mind on the matter.  It gets all up into its intrigue and Tom Cruise-isms for a while, and Werner Herzog shows up as a creepy former Siberian prisoner monster crime lord of sorts.  I hadn’t expected Herzog, and this was interesting.  With Herzog’s recent death house documentary (which I hadn’t seen) I surely didn’t expect what is essentially an argument in favor of executions.  The Jack Reacher way wins out in the end, as if anyone ever doubted that.  Death is the appropriate sentence.  The formerly pacifistic lawyer woman is now okay with daddy’s policies.  Barf bags optional.



Guardian: Syrian Christians in danger: Bishop Boulos Yaziji of the Greek Orthodox church in Aleppo and Bishop Yuhanna Ibrahim, head of the Syriac Orthodox church in the city, were kidnapped on Monday.

Bishop Boulos Yaziji and Bishop Yuhanna Ibrahim


Readers probably suspect that I like my low-budget indie comedies, when they work.  Who doesn’t, really?  Throw in Sookie, Anna Paquin, and of course I’ll take my chances.

But writers should pay attention to the first five minutes of Straight A’s, and how to really introduce a character.  Ryan Phillippe steals this show, as crazy and charismatic as he’s ever been.  It’s a family dramedy with that dark sheep crazy uncle, but this one out crazies your uncle in all likelihood (but not mine).

I really did laugh a lot through the film, and the ending is gripping and well done.

What I didn’t like was the blinding overexposure, probably from blowing out the sensor on the Red camera.  I noticed within 5 minutes the clipped highlights and it irked me.  Probably most people don’t notice, but I surely do.  The extreme brights are where film shines and most digital cameras fail. That may be changing (Arri Alexa is top dog right now for digital), but it’s a limiting factor right now.  I wish more lower tier filmmakers actually cared about this issue as digital overexposure really does degrade the image, and yet is correctable with neutral density gels and compensating through lighting.



Excellent roundup of the discrepancies in the government’s story so far concerning the Tsarnaev brothers.

Continued Cover-up of Contacts of Boston Bombing Suspects with FBI and US Intelligence

This one I hadn’t heard:

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis also told the House committee that an officer of US Customs and Border Protection, a unit of the US Department of Homeland Security, who served on the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Boston and had knowledge of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s travels, did not inform any of the four Boston police officers assigned to the group.