Reagan Ray has compiled an extensive gallery of retro VHS distributor logos on his blog: I was a little surprised to find out that there have been over 2,000 different movie distribution companies since the late 70s. Most of the heavy hitters are still around, but a lot of them are long out of business.

See the rest →

(via The Latest)

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Craft and creativity

Retro VHS distributor logos

“After seeing them all together, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this could have been the Dribbble popular page about 5-6 years ago.” — Reagan Ray

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How To Make A Blockbuster Movie Trailer

Auralnauts: We provide you with the winning formula that turns any trailer into the blockbuster smash hit of the season it was meant to be.

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David Fincher – Invisible Details

kaptainkristian: A look at the hidden visual effects work of David Fincher’s filmography.

I knew that Fincher used a lot of CGI, but I had no idea how far he had taken this trickery. It’s hugely effective stuff.

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‘Rooms’ by Jordan Bolton

These creative movie posters are made by recreating a film’s set design in miniature.

Prints are available on Etsy and Amazon. (via ARCHatlas)

See also: The man who made some of cinema’s most iconic movie titles & these wonderful animated movie posters by Pablo Fernández Eyre.

Craft and creativity

Jordan Bolton’s miniature film set posters

These creative movie posters are made by recreating a film’s set design in miniature.

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The Best Science Fiction Cinema of the 21st Century (So Far)

Plot Point Productions: Science fiction has the freedom to ponder the big questions in a variety of dramatic contexts, both in our world or a different one. The power of the genre has always been in its capacity for escapism, but also in its promotion of a conversation about who we are and what we want from ourselves and each other.

The first fifteen years of the 21st century have seen that conversation grow and splinter in many fascinating directions. A.I., cloning, conservation and the stewardship of our planet, societal alienation, space travel, love; the best sci-fi films of this century have tackled these themes and ideas while also telling stories that are rousing, unsettling, heartbreaking…and above all, human.

David Lean’s Scene Transitions

Despite whatever presets there are in Premiere, scene transitions are not limited to wipes, fades, or dissolves. Let’s examine the work of David Lean and see what unique ways we can find of cutting picture and sound together to make transitions really shine.

The Royal Ocean Film Society is a video essay series by Andrew Saladino devoted to the style, craft, and analysis of everything film.

Movie written by algorithm turns out to be hilarious and intense: Ars is excited to be hosting this online debut of Sunspring, a short science fiction film that’s not entirely what it seems.

Sunspring screenplay sample

Benjamin is an LSTM recurrent neural network, a type of AI that is often used for text recognition. To train Benjamin, [researcher, Ross] Goodwin fed the AI with a corpus of dozens of sci-fi screenplays he found online—mostly movies from the 1980s and 90s.

As the cast gathered around a tiny printer, Benjamin spat out the screenplay, complete with almost impossible stage directions like “He is standing in the stars and sitting on the floor.” Then Sharp [the director] randomly assigned roles to the actors in the room. “As soon as we had a read-through, everyone around the table was laughing their heads off with delight,” Sharp told Ars.

Sunspring

For Sharp, the most interesting part of the Benjamin experiment has been learning about patterns in science fiction storytelling. Benjamin’s writing sounds original, even kooky, but it’s still based on patterns he’s discovered in what humans write. Sharp likes to call the results the “average version” of everything the AI looked at. Certain patterns kept coming up again and again. “There’s an interesting recurring pattern in Sunspring where characters say, ‘No I don’t know what that is. I’m not sure,'” said Goodwin. “They’re questioning the environment, questioning what’s in front of them. There’s a pattern in sci-fi movies of characters trying to understand the environment.”

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Sunspring: a short film written by an algorithm

In the wake of Google’s AI Go victory, filmmaker Oscar Sharp turned to his technologist collaborator Ross Goodwin to build a machine that could write screenplays. They created “Jetson” and fueled him with hundreds of sci-fi TV and movie scripts. Building a team including Thomas Middleditch, star of HBO’s Silicon Valley, they gave themselves 48 hours to shoot and edit whatever Jetson decided to write.

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Movies with Mikey is a YouTube series by Mikey Neumann which deconstructs some of my favourite films, including:

Scott Pilgrim vs. World

Mikey presents: an underrated Edgar Wright classic, Scott Pilgrim. Bask in the editing insanity that Mikey puts into a Youtube show that practically no one watches.

Hugo

Mikey dives deep on not only one of the greatest films of the last five years, but also the birth of cinema as an art form. This is probably important. Or maybe it isn’t? Who really knows?

Fury Road

& The Cabin in the Woods →

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Movies with Mikey: Scott Pilgrim, Hugo & Fury Road

“Movies With Mikey is a comedic look at films by Mikey Neumann. Unlike other review shows, the aim of MWM is to celebrate film, not tear it down. Check it out or Mikey will be very sad and eat everything in the nearest Dairy Queen snack freezer.”

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American Cinema’s White Supremacy Problem

City Absurdia: A video essay on how American cinema uses the hero–villain–damsel dynamic as a propaganda tool since The Birth of a Nation.

“To look at the Vietnam war through the lens of American cinema, you would have to believe that the war was one inflicted upon young white men by older white men, not one inflicted on a poor nation of farmers by a militarised superpower.”

Other City Absurdia video essays

(Side note: The City Absurdia channel had 69 subscribers when I discovered it. Now it has 70. I predict it will get a lot more very quickly!)

See also: Why every Hollywood movie feels the same & How Jurassic Park’s digital dinosaurs changed the movies.

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A visit to Kim Jong-il’s North Korean film studio

In this three-part documentary from 2010, VICE founder Shane Smith visits North Korea to try and penetrate the Korean Feature Film Studio, the state-run film production facility west of Pyongyang: a sprawling lot that at its height produced around 40 films a year.

VICE: North Korean Film Madness: You could say that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il has two primary obsessions: maintaining nuclear weapons capability as a means of protecting his “hermit kingdom,” and thwarting pressure from outside forces like America and the rest of the industrialized world to open his country to modern things like electricity… and he’s obsessed with film. He loves movies. It’s rumored that he has one of the largest private film collections in the world. His favorite film is Gone with the Wind and his favorite actress is Elizabeth Taylor.

He’s a film collector and bona fide cinephile, but he’s much more. He’s everything really. He’s a director, a producer, a financier, a costume maker, set designer, screenwriter, cameraman, sound engineer… and he’s also a film theorist. His masterwork on aesthetics and practice is “On the Art of Cinema” (written and published in the early 1970s). In it he gives himself the humble title, “Genius of the Cinema.” He built an extensive film studio in Pyongyang and when he couldn’t find someone to make his film he did what any self-respecting eternal leader and great president would do… he kidnapped one.

Pyongyang Film Studio mural

Pyongyang Film Studio mural

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State Zero

A post apocalyptic short film by Andrée Wallin:

In the near future, the capital of Sweden has turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. We join four soldiers on a routine mission in ‘Zone 3’, with the assignment to investigate an old surveillance tower that just went offline. That’s the setting in first-time director Andrée Wallin’s short film, who also wrote and production designed it.

VFX breakdown →

Fury Road poster

If there’s any movie that managed to deliver on the intensity and sustained visual interest of its trailer, it is Mad Max: Fury Road. For no particular reason–other than I really wanted to because I think about them all the time–here are the trailers for that film again.

Enjoy ten minutes of trailer perfection.

Comic-Con First Look — 27 Jul 2014

Official Theatrical Teaser Trailer — 10 Dec 2014

Official Main Trailer — 31 Mar 2015

Official Retaliate Trailer — 29 Apr 2015

(Personally, that final trailer is my favourite.)

See also: The editing of Mad Max: Fury Road, Visual effects breakdown for Mad Max: Fury Road and all the other posts on this blog tagged ‘trailers’.

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Mad Max Fury Road: a trailer retrospective

“From director George Miller, originator of the post-apocalyptic genre and mastermind behind the legendary “Mad Max” franchise, comes “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a return to the world of the Road Warrior, Max Rockatansky.”

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The Problem with Trailers

Now You See It: Why do all trailers feel the same? How do great trailers stand out? Let’s look at the structure of trailers over time and see how they’ve grown, and why some are practically identical.

(via Laughing Squid)

Other posts on this blog about movie trailers

Star Wars souvenir program 1977
Use your words

Samuel R. Delany’s 1977 review of the original Star Wars

This contemporary review of the first Star Wars movie for Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine by Samuel R. Delany is fascinating.

Samuel R. Delaney (1969) I’m posting this about five hours before I go to see The Force Awakens, which if nothing else I expect to be a blisteringly fast film based on director J.J. Abrams previous two Star Trek films. So it’s really interesting to me how Delaney describes the original Star Wars as “about the fastest two-hour film I’ve ever seen”. By modern standards — and even by the standards of the other Star Wars films — the first installment seems quite slow.

It’s also assuring to see that from the very outset critics like Delaney were calling Star Wars out for it’s lack of human racial diversity and gender equality.


Star Wars:
A consideration of the great new S.F. film

by Samuel R. Delany

My first reactions as the final credits rose on the screen? “Now what happens?” – which is to say George (American Grafitti and THX-1138) Lucas’s Star Wars is about the fastest two-hour film I’ve ever seen: I thought I’d been in the theater maybe twenty-five minutes.

THX, if you’ll recall, looked like it was sired by Godard’s Contempt out of the space station sequence in Kubrick’s 2001i.e. it was basically white, white-on-white, and then more white. What is the visual texture of Star Wars?

Two moons shimmer in the heat above the horizon, and the desert evening fades to purple rather than blue; into the starry black, huge and/or hopelessly complex artifacts flicker, flash, spin, turn, or merely progress with ponderous motion; indoors is all machinery, some old, some new; while plastic storm troopers and dull grey generals meet and march; circus-putty aliens drink in a bar where what appears to be an automatic still gleams in the background with tarnished copper tubing; some of the spaceships are new and shiny, some are old and battered (and you get pretty good at telling the difference between the two).

Continue reading Delaney’s Star Wars review →

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(via digg)

Updated to include some animated GIFs.

See also: Jordan Bolton’s miniature film set posters

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Movie posters in motion

Wonderful animated movie posters by Pablo Fernández Eyre.

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Star Wars: Recording Session Audio from 1977

Several early takes of the Star Wars opening theme recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra in 1977.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Music from the Official Trailer

The soundtrack from the latest official trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (aka trailer #3), composed by John Williams with contributions from Ursine Vulpine and at least one other artist. I found a music-only clip, there were dips to make room for dialogue, like a 5.1 mix, so I did my best to normalize the volume fluctuations.

See also

Wire Cutters

A chance encounter proves fateful for 2 robots mining on a desolate planet.

It’s like a grittier Wall-E.

Boing Boing: On Reddit, filmmaker Jack Anderson explains that the making of his film involved a “$0 budget but thousands of hours of love and about a YEAR of rendering.”

See also: Wanderers, a vision of humanity’s expansion into the Solar System.

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Blade Runner: The B-Roll Cut

45-minute version of the film made almost entirely from unused footage (via waxy.org)

This includes what I assume must be the entirety of the awful voiceover that they made Harrison Ford record. It’s worse than I imagined it would be. The Holden scenes are pretty bad too.

See also: Blade Runner: The Final Cut and these fantastic behind the scenes photographs from the Blade Runner model shop.

Black Angel (1980)

(The film itself starts about 2 minutes into the video.)

Slashflim: Lucas commissioned the original Black Angel short film to play as a companion piece with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in some markets. It was well received and became a major influence on fantasy films that followed. But shortly after its premiere, all copies of the film were lost.

… Or so everyone believed until 2011, when a Universal Studios archivist came across a negative. An effort to restore the film got underway, and the film “re-premiered” at the Mill Valley Film Festival in 2013. Black Angel got a digital re-release in 2014, and as of last month was available to stream in its entirety on YouTube.

The Editing of MAD MAX: Fury Road

Vashi Nedomansky: One of the many reasons MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is so successful as an action film is the editing style. By using “Eye Trace” and “Crosshair Framing” techniques during the shooting, the editor could keep the important visual information vital in one spot… the Center of the Frame. Because almost every shot was center framed, comprehending the action requires no hunting of each new shot for the point of interest. The viewer doesn’t need 3 or 4 frames to figure out where to look. It’s like watching an old hand-drawn flip book whiz by. The focus is always in the same spot!

See also: Michael Bay – What is Bayhem?, Every Frame a Painting – The Quadrant System and other posts tagged ‘filmmaking’.

The Carbonite Maneuver

An amazing Star Wars/Star Trek mashup by SonOfSpork.

(via kottke)

The Directors Series — David Fincher

The Directors Series is an educational non-profit collection of video and text essays by filmmaker Cameron Beyl exploring the works of contemporary and classic film directors.

This is the first part in a series on David Fincher, with the rest to follow. Beyl has already completed a series of five episodes on the life and work of Stanley Kubrick.

(via kottke)

Watchtower of Turkey

By Leonardo Dalessandri:

Over than 3500 km traveled in 20 days, capturing landscapes from the bluish tones of Pamukkale to the warm ones of Cappadocia, the all passing by a great variation of colors, lights and weathers through six other cities.

I’ve crossed Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Ephesus, Istanbul, Konya; and tasted baklava, kunefe, doner, the turkish tea; and got the chance to meet the soul of Turkey, its people.. and got their smiles and their hospitality.

This is Turkey lived by me from north to south, and I hope you enjoy it 🙂

See also: Watchtower of Morocco

Negron and Schiavelli
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No Small Parts

No Small Parts is a fan-made documentary series about character actors created by actor Brandon Hardesty. Each episode focuses on one particular character actor’s life and career in entertainment.

Vincent Schiavelli

I particularly loved Episode 2 about Vincent Schiavelli, known for his roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ghost, Man on the Moon, and countless other films and television shows throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s.

Remembering Taylor Negron

“After 30 years in show business I’ve given up on the idea that people will know my first and last name together, and I’ve accepted that I will never, ever be actually famous.
“Instead, I am fame-ish.”
Taylor Negron

Further reading: A Last Gift From The Genius Mind of Taylor Negron: Reflections On A Life Spent Playing Everyman

See also:

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Blade Runner: The Final Cut

The version that’s being released theatrically is the 2007 digitally remastered Blade Runner: The Final Cut, which is different to the 1982 original in a number of crucial respects. For example, it lacks both the tacked-on happy ending and the controversial Deckard voiceover (regarded by many as clumsy and unnecessary).

Blade Runner: The Final Cut also features myriad other changes, including tweaks to both edit and soundtrack, a dusting of new shots, and a number of “fixes” and upgraded visual effects, executed primarily by The Orphanage, supervised by Jon Rothbart, with additional shots supplied by Lola VFX.

Blade Runner city miniature

“In order to get aerial views of some of the cityscapes, the miniature structures were tilted sideways and aligned individually at varying angles so as to appear correct to the barrel distortion of the camera’s wide-angle lens. Numerous in-camera passes were required to balance external and practical lighting.”

Ridley Scott: “The Final Cut is my definitive version of Blade Runner, and I’m thrilled that audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy it in the way I intended – on the big screen. This new trailer captures the essence of the film and I hope will inspire a new generation to see Blade Runner when it is re-released across the UK on 3 April.”

Univision 3-perf
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Univisium: Vittorio Storaro’s universal 2:1 film format

I’ve recently binge-watched the first two seasons of House of Cards on Netflix and one of the first things I noticed was the black bars showing on my 16:9 television. Why would such a modern show be filmed in anything but the most common modern aspect ratio?

'House of Cards' aspect ratio

This odd aspect ratio turns out to be the brainchild of a famous cinematographer:

Univisium (macaronic Latin for “unity of images”) is a proposed universal film format created by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC and his son, Fabrizio, to unify all future theatrical and television movies into one respective aspect ratio of 2.00:1 (18:9).Wikipedia

Storaro writes:

Vittorio Storaro In the jungle of different aspect ratios in today’s Cinema and Television, the upcoming advanced High Definition Video system will introduce yet another one, an aspect ratio of about 1:1,79.* For a while, we will have three different visual proportions, and therefore three different compositions, of the same movie.

I don’t know who made this decision for a new aspect ratio, since it doesn’t resolve any past, present or future problems for a common composition between different media. I am not aware of any Directors or Cinematographers who have been asked for their opinions about the possible new area or new composition for future audio-visual systems.

[…] Considering High Definition and 65mm, I think it would therefore be sensible to propose a new standard for both. A new aspect ratio that will fit future, present, and past compositional needs. Currently 65mm is set at an aspect ratio of 1:2,21 and High Definition at about 1:1,79, so, if we remove the 0,21 from the 65mm, and if we add the same number on top of High Definition TV, we will have a perfect balance between the two: that is, 1:2.

Though this new standard doesn’t seem to have taken off yet, House of Cards is far from the first the first film or television series to adopt Univisium. The first seems to be 1998’s Tango and the first television example is 2000’s fascinating mini-series of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Storaro was responsible for the cinematography of both.


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