by Graham Sheldon | 11th October 2016
Film school is expensive, stressful and lasts for years. Is it worth it? Yes. Here are five concrete reasons why: The marketing, maybe even the promise surrounding film school goes something like this: you get in, you make a student film, you’re “discovered” and you make the next instalment in Marvel’s Avengers franchise. Sounds simple, right? In reality, it looks more like this: you get in, you spend $100,000 on tuition, you get out and then, burdened with heavy loans, you work as a Production Assistant for three years before slowly moving up the ladder. At that point you might ask yourself: “Why did I even go to film school?” After all, rarely in the entertainment industry does anyone care where you graduated from. I can’t remember the last time anyone asked me. For the most part, what really defines you is your credit list, attitude and reel. So what is the purpose of going to all those classes? Fear not. If you are focused, there are many things you can gain from a film school education. Here are just a few of them: The Freedom to Fail. If you stop reading right here and only take one tip away from this article, this is the one to remember: film school gives you a safe environment in which to fall completely and totally flat on your face. Embrace it. Embrace the potential for failure that those production classes provide. Take risks, huge enormous risks, not only with your story, but also with your camera moves and your entire approach to production. If you are ever going to do it, film school’s the time. When you enter the professional work force where hundreds of thousands to millions are on the line, failure is not as easy a pill to swallow. Define your style in school if only because that’s where you are given the chance. Find out what kind of filmmaker you want to be, or more importantly, what kind you don’t want to be. Skills. Having a skill set when you come out of school is key. Producers and other hiring managers will look at your resume with an eye towards your knowledge of software and complicated camera systems. Gain that knowledge. Spend time with all the Avid, Adobe and Apple creative software you can get your hands on in school, and right out of the gate you’ll have something competitive to bring to the table. School is also the time to program yourself for the fast-paced deadline-driven environment of television and film because it sure doesn’t change when you leave. The stakes just get much higher. Time with Equipment. Gear is expensive and students usually can’t buy it or even rent it without help. All film-schools have access to equipment with varying degrees of quality and they all have rules about checking that gear out. Find out what those rules are and push them to the limit. Check out cameras, lenses, audio and grip equipment as often as you can and use them as much as possible in the field – not from your couch. When you graduate, your access to this gear goes away, so soaking up as much hands-on training as possible is pivotal. Networking. You’ve probably heard that this industry is all about who you know, but when you graduate, the only people you know are your classmates. My advice is to do everything you can to keep in touch and foster those relationships. In doing so, remember it’s important to be humble and generous. Did you just get a great gig right out of school? Fantastic. Don’t ignore your former classmates once you are in that new position. Talent is the only thing that matters, not ego. Bring the best people together for every job and everyone will benefit. Film Theory. Does watching and analyzing D.W. Griffith’s epic (though admittedly racist) historical film Birth of a Nation on a Friday afternoon sound like a dream come true to you? It should. School will probably be one of your last opportunities to watch the seminal films that have defined our craft and to participate in deep discussions regarding their influence. Sure, maybe you can find a film club when you are a professional, but life tends to get in the way. School is perhaps your last chance to dive into complicated German expressionist films and to really dissect the Italian master filmmakers in a structured environment. During those precious moments, make it your goal to absorb the pacing of each edit and then to understand how the choice of different shots contributed to the telling of the story. I often hear that theory is somehow a lesser pursuit than physical production. I couldn’t disagree more. Theory and the study of classic films give you a chance to watch other filmmakers succeed and fail on a large scale. Learn from that. When you sit in class, keep in mind you are moving into a challenging field and many, perhaps most, of your classmates will not succeed in making it their career. It’s a bleak fact, but one that should challenge you to be the best you can be. Fight every single day to find ways to improve yourself and your work. Film school can be a great start. What did you take from film school? Comment below!Read more
by Sebastian Wöber | 29th September 2016
We’ve reported about several interesting inventions by Korean manufacturer Varavon before. This time around at Photokina 2016, Varavon introduced their new 3-Axis VR Drone for the first time. The Varavon 3-Axis VR Drone is a large virtual reality camera platform with a special gimbal design that holds the camera array steady even during fast movements and strong wind. At their booth at Photokina, the guys from Varavon showed us how the gimbal stabilization works. Unfortunately, they were not allowed to fly the drone in the convention center halls or even outside due to drone laws in Germany. At the moment, the VR Drone market seems very limited. A quick Google search results in several custom built VR Drone setups, but besides one manufacturer there were no other large and commercially available flying platforms with a gimbal like the one Varavon displayed. According to the sales rep at Photokina 2016, the Varavon 3-Axis VR Drone can take a payload of up to 12kg and has a flying time between 12 and 15 minutes. The cost of $27,000 seems quite high, considering that the M600 is available at under $5k and has a similar size, but with no special VR gimbal, of course. But since this is probably the first drone of its kind, I suppose a higher price is acceptable for those looking to create an aerial VR array with so many cameras. According to Charlie from Varavon, the drone is “ready to sell now”. The fact that it does not show up on the Varavon website yet might indicate that you have to contact them directly if you’re interested in purchasing this flying crazyness.Read more
by Fabian Chaundy | 20th January 2016
GoPro 360-degree camera solutions are expected to usher in the next big step in the world of digital video. At this year’s CES, YouTube CBO Robert Kyncl held a keynote explaining how this platform is situated in a world of abounding digital video. It truly is an interesting watch. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, we recommend you take a look – you might have to go to YouTube to see it as there seems to be some content restrictions in some countries for the embedded version: In the framework of this discussion, GoPro is positioning itself as a big player in the innovative field of 360-degree video. We have known since last year about the Odyssey, where the Google Jump video assembler works in tandem with the 16-camera GoPro array. This is pricey and only available to a select few of those who apply online. However, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman hints that the company is already working on a smaller 360-degree video solution that reduces the rig to a simpler, consumer-friendly format. Unfortunately, there is no information available about the product, except that it will incorporate 6 GoPro cameras and will come in 2016. The question that springs to mind is whether this decision to branch out into other markets will play to GoPro’s favour. The emergence of many competitors at lower price points capitalizing on the popularity of action cameras has understandably translated into a big hit for GoPro. Also, the company’s latest action camera—the GoPro Hero4 Session— has seen big price drops since its release, after a starting price of $399 failed to convince consumers. Factors like these seem to have caused a loss of confidence in investors, with recent reports revealing that the company share prices have plummeted up to 70% in the last year. As a result, a significant number of their employees are being let go, and the company has suffered severe losses due to restructuring, as well as price-protection, manufacturing and excess inventory costs. But the world of video is advancing, with the mass adoption of newer technologies such as 4K and 360-degree video clearly dictating what the next steps will be. And this company is showing that, with their new GoPro 360-degree camera arrays and the recently announced GoPro Karma drone, they are not afraid of stepping outside of their comfort zone in the way to innovation despite the bumps along the way. Large names are clearly positioning themselves to facilitate both creation and consumption of a new kind of video experience. With products by household brands like GoPro, support from the YouTube platform, and simple solutions like Google Cardboard, the adoption of this relatively new medium seems imminent. And when these tools become available to everyone everywhere, it will be interesting to see what it will mean for the future of video, and for us as creators. What kind of project would you do today if you had access to an affordable, compact 360-degree video capture solution like the GoPro 360?Read more
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