Video

Filmmaking Essentials for Photographers. Mini Courses.

Why Filmmaking Essentials?

One of the main chal­lenges pho­tog­ra­phers face when starting to shoot video is to focus too much on hardware and software, and for­get about the most important part: the story. While this informative course includes some tech­ni­cal infor­ma­tion, the main goal is to provide an overview of the many aspects of filmmaking, and identify potential business opportunities with motion. Click HERE.

The “Filmmaking Essentials for Photographers” course is based on a popular event we have been presenting for several years, but it has been greatly enhanced with additional visuals and examples. Some of the clients and sponsors for the live event include Adobe, Adorama Pro, B&H Photo, Cinevate, Future Media Concepts, Gulf Photo Plus (Dubai), HOW Design Conference, International Center of Photography, Lynda.com, McCann Erickson, NAB Show, Panasonic, Photo District News, PhotoPlus Expo, Photokina (Germany), Savannah College of Art and Design, School of Visual Arts, Sony, and X-Rite, among others.

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Why these Mini Courses?

Sometimes we don’t have time for three-hour lessons; rather, we just need a quick and concrete answer for a very specific question. Because of that, in addition to longer courses we’ve released these mini courses, averaging three-to-five minutes each. Click HERE.

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Filmmaking Essentials for Photographers. Online Intro Course.

In 2011 I was invited along with National Geographic photographer David McLain to present a series of two-day workshops nationwide. The events were produced by Photo Quest Adventures and sponsored by PDN, Sony, Adobe, and other leading brands. The main goal was to help photographers transition into video by simplifying key concepts and providing shortcuts, resources, and advice on what gear to buy.

I have been honored to teach “Filmmaking Essentials” at all major industry events, from PhotoPlus to Imaging USA to NAB, from South America all the way to Dubai, Hong Kong, and Thailand, and at home in New York.

Few people know that I never use the same presentation twice. Each and every time I add things I’ve learned, plug in valuable feedback from attendees, students, and this website’s readers, and I strive to improve the educational experience with better examples and shorter explanations.

When looking at the advancements in digital technology since those first workshops it seems like decades have gone by. Today, we have access to a variety of brands and models of very compact cameras that can see in the dark, shoot 4K or higher resolutions, offer incredible frame rates, and even offer GPS and WiFi features so they can be easily controlled by smartphones and tablets. The future is definitively here.

But something quite odd has been happening to my personal and professional focus. The more gadgets we have at our disposal, the more I’ve shifted towards the craft of storytelling. Instead of getting more stuff, I’ve been increasingly interested in constructing and enhancing my stories to better engage the viewer. Naturally, this approach has been reflected in the educational content I produce.

Now, and for the first time, I’m proud to offer an awesome version of my one-hour presentation online. Click HERE

The “Filmmaking Essentials for Photographers” course is based on a popular event we have been presenting for several years, but it has been greatly enhanced with additional visuals and examples. Some of the clients and sponsors for the live event include Adobe, Adorama Pro, B&H Photo, Cinevate, Future Media Concepts, Gulf Photo Plus (Dubai), HOW Design Conference, International Center of Photography, Lynda.com, McCann Erickson, NAB Show, Panasonic, Photo District News, PhotoPlus Expo, Photokina (Germany), Savannah College of Art and Design, School of Visual Arts, Sony, and X-Rite, among others.

Who is this course for?

Well, as the name implies, this version of “Filmmaking Essentials” covers concepts already mastered by advanced filmmakers or by experienced photographers who are very technically savvy. But I’m confident everyone else could learn a thing or two.

As often as possible we’ll be adding new courses, covering topics like pre-production and post, tips for one-man crews (like journalists) working stills and video assignments, advice on getting started with Color Grading, and many other fascinating subjects. As mentioned above, most of these courses are not and probably won’t be hardware or software driven, but would focus predominantly on answering the why’s, not the how’s, of the fascinating craft of filmmaking.

Also as a first, we are offering several mini-courses (averaging three minutes each and many of them for free) for those who need concrete answers to very specific questions.

So, if this is the kind of content and format you desire, vote with you wallet and let your voice be heard.

Thank you for your continued support. Click HERE to start learning. 

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Video

Essential Filmmaking Gear – Lean and Mean.

On our previous equipments lists (here’s #1 and here’s #2) we covered the essential gear while working with small crews constantly on the move. Today, we’ll list the equipment we usually bring on “Lean and Mean” jobs. On these jobs we usually spend more time at each location, and don’t need to carry everything on our backs, so we can add a few bigger/heavier tools.

List #3 – Lean And Mean

Hybrid or Video Only Assignments
Small Crew On Location But With Some Time To Prep
Example: Maragas Winery Commercial.

In addition to everything on List #1 and List #2 we typically would add:

1. If the job doesn’t require stills I’d swap the GH4s or the Sony a7R IIs for a couple of Canon C100 Mark II bodies (Amazon and B&H). At this point we are seriously considering investing on a couple of Sony PXW-FS7 (Amazon and B&H), but we are waiting to test it against a Sony PXW-FS5 (Amazon and B&H) to make the call.

2. Depending on the job we would add another camera movement tool, like a Glidecam (Amazon and B&H) or a Ronin (Amazon and B&H) or even jibs and dollies. It depends on many different factors.

3. In terms of lighting I usually bring three 1×1 Bi-Color LED Panels (Amazon and B&H) with batteries (B&H) and two Chimera 1×1 Lightbanks (Amazon and B&H) with grids (B&H). That pretty much covers my basic needs. Another option is a Fiilex kit (Amazon and B&H), which I like a lot, but it is too expensive for most people.

4. A Sekonic Color Meter (Amazon and B&H) and a Sekonic Light Meter (Amazon and B&H) are pretty much mandatory.

5. Most of my grip gear is made by Impact simply because it is inexpensive, versatile and durable.  I consider essential a few accessories like adjustable Gaffer Clamps, and Collapsible Reflector Holders (Amazon and B&H) which also double as mic or light stands. These very inexpensive items effectively function as additional crew members.

6. We would bring a second Tenba Transport Rolling Tripod/Grip case (2 total) (Amazon and B&H), add a second Benro S8 tripod (2 total) one more Benro S4 monopod (2 total), and a very compact and portable slider (Amazon and B&H) that would take the same fluid head from the S8 tripod and/or the S4 monopod.

Here’s the complete list of what we are currently using.

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Well, there you have our essential gear. There isn’t a perfect gear list, just like there isn’t a perfect camera, but the most essential items have been working great for most assignments. Of course, there are those long and complex projects that require everything and the kitchen sink. If I forgot something essential, please let me know here!

We also have produced several Filmmaking courses on Lynda.com, two of them specifically designed for photographers transitioning into video. Check them out!

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Essential Filmmaking Gear – The Moving Crew.

On a previous article we covered the essential gear for solo gigs (List #1). On this article, which we call List #2, we’ll concentrate on the equipment required for longer/bigger hybrid assignments where I’ll have a few more people fulfilling different roles (gaffer/grip, second camera/editor, BTS camera/DIT). We are usually moving from place to place very quickly, so traveling light is essential. When possible, I added direct links to Amazon and/or B&H for your convenience.

List #2 – The Moving Crew.

Hybrid Assignments
Small Crew Constantly On The Move
Example: Panasonic Anamorphic.

So, in addition to everything on List #1 we’d typically add:

1. In addition to my sharpest and heaviest lens, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 (Amazon and B&H), we’d also bring a Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 (Amazon and B&H), and a Sigma 24-105mm f4. (Amazon and B&H). These are the same exact lenses I used last year on another one-man Hybrid project in Istanbul and Europe. To make the Canon and Sigma lenses work on the Panasonic GH4 we’ll need a Metabones Speedbooster (Amazon and B&H).

2. Having more space and more people to carry bags, I’d also add a Varavon cage (Amazon and B&H) to each camera body. I like these cages a lot!

3. An Atomos Shogun (Amazon and B&H). We previously wrote an article explaining why this is a must have item.

4. As many SanDisk Solid State Drives (Amazon and B&H) for the Atomos Shogun  as possible.

5. A USB 3.0 reader for the Solid State Drives (which are generously included in the Atomos Shogun kit).

6. A second 6TB G-Tech External Hard Drive (Amazon and B&H).

7. Two RodeLink kits (Amazon and B&H). They are great for interviews and to record clean sound while doing on-camera tutorials or even getting some BTS. The RodeLinks are extremely light, small, reliable and fairly inexpensive.

8. In addition to the monopod (on List #1) I’d add one Benro S8 tripod (Amazon and B&H).

9. I’d add one more Tenba Roadie Hybrid bag (2 total) (Amazon and B&H) for the most expensive, essential and fragile items, namely cameras, lenses, Shogun and hard drives.

10. One sturdy Tenba Transport Rolling Tripod/Grip case (Amazon and B&H) for light stands, tripods, grip, cables, etc. My favorite one is Tenba’s Rolling Case 38

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What else are we using? Here’s the complete list.

As you can see, anyone involved in run-and-gun, single-operator scenarios like weddings, events, corporate shoots, documentaries, red carpet premieres, product launches, sporting events, video podcasts, and even student films could benefit from these lists, so feel free to share them.

We also have produced several Filmmaking courses on Lynda.com, two of them specifically designed for photographers transitioning into video. Check them out!

Coming next week: List #3 – Lean and Mean. Working with a small crew but having a bit more time to settle down and prep. Bring the big guns!

 

Video

Essential Filmmaking Gear – The Solo Gig.

In aviation, an MMEL (Master Minimum Equipment List) is a categorized list of on-board systems, instruments and equipment that must be operative in order to flight. Any additional equipment not included in the MMEL may break temporarily, but it won’t make the aircraft inoperative. For several years I’ve been attempting to create my own MMEL for “hybrid” productions. My simplest definition of “hybrid” is “productions or assignments where a skeleton crew (from one to four people) is required to produce, direct, shoot video and stills, record sound, and even edit. Most of these assignments will be happening on location, more often than not over several days.”

Like it or not, these gigs are becoming increasingly popular. It sounds crazy and indeed, being on the field trying to wear so many hats at the same time can be extremely stressful. The keys to make these projects run smoothly (and even fun) are simple: invest as much as possible in pre-production, bring only the most essential gear, know your equipment well, and be decisive.

Regarding gear, a substantial challenge is how to pack and travel as light as possible while carrying a full production and post-production setup that is literally on your back, so “essential” in my book is something you will use all the time, not “maybe, just in case, what if.”
Over time, we have created three “lists of essential items”, depending mostly on the crew’s size. When possible, I added the product’s link to Amazon and/or B&H for your convenience.

List #1 – The Solo Gig

Hybrid Assignments
One-Man Crew
Example: Japan.

When working and traveling alone, a single carry-on backpack (like a Tenba Roadie Hybrid bag) contains every item I’ll need for up to three days, except some clothes and toiletries that will go on a smaller backpack the gets checked in or shipped in advance. 

Hardware & Software:

1. A small, light and versatile Camera (“Cam A”) to shoot video. In the photo I have a Panasonic GH4 (Amazon and B&H), but I also like the Sony a7R II (Amazon and B&H).

2. A second camera (“Cam B”) to capture stills and B-roll, ideally identical to Camera A. Having the same brand, model and firmware can save you a lot of time in post. Plus the batteries, chargers, media and lenses are the same.

3. I like to carry a third (even smaller) camera for location scouting and behind the scenes stills. My weapon of choice is the Fuji X100s (Amazon and B&H). A compact camera is especially handy after a very long day, when I don’t want to carry more gear but still want to capture a few night scenes of nice-looking dishes during my evening meal. Here’s my original X-100s review. Believe it or not after all these years, I’m still using (and loving) this camera.

4. Two or three lenses. In this case I’d bring a Lumix 12-35mm 2.8 lens (Amazon and B&H) and a Lumix 35-100mm 2.8 lens (Amazon and B&H). I like these lenses because they are the equivalent to a 24-70mm 2.8 and a 70-200mm 2.8, but extremely small and light, yet very sharp and fast (2.8 all the way.)

5. For sound I’d bring a field recorder like the H4n (Amazon and B&H) or a more current model and smaller version like Tascam’s DR-05 (Amazon and B&H) to capture interviews and my own production notes.
While like the versatility of the H4n, it is bulky and too slow to start up, so we are considering something newer like the Zoom H1 (Amazon and B&H). I probably would also add at least one Rode VideoMic (Amazon and B&H) to capture soundscapes and decent scratch sound for interviews. And of course, we need to add good headphones to our audio package. (Amazon and B&H).

6. Two (2) G-Tech 1TB external portable hard drives (Amazon and B&H) and one (1) compact, super fast and awesome 6TB G-Tech External Hard Drive (Amazon and B&H). And by the way, I ONLY trust G-Drives, even if they fail every 14years.

7. A 15″ MacBook Pro (Amazon and B&H) with Adobe’s Creative Suite (Amazon and B&H) and Shot Put Pro. Here’s an article on how we use this software to backup our media on location.

8. A small tripod (Amazon and B&H). This thing is worth its weight in gold. I’ve used it for time lapses, low angle shots, as a handheld rig, car mount, microphone stand, and even to attach small lights for quick interviews. Priceless.

9. Benro S4 Video Monopod (Amazon and B&H). It’s small, relatively light, and sturdy. Works great.

10. A variety of Tenba Tool Boxes (Amazon and B&H) to pack all the batteries, chargers, cables, adapters and other small accessories. At first, they might seem a bit bulky but having everything neatly organized and protected is worth it.

11. One of my favorite photo bags ever, the new Tenba Shootout (Amazon and B&H). It is small enough to meet carry-on size limitations, but large enough to fit my most fragile and essential items. Plus, it is extremely comfortable.

12. In terms of lighting, for these assignments I try to use mostly available/natural light, but I always bring a 5-in-1 collapsible reflector (Amazon and B&H)

13. Two ND filters are essential when shooting daylight exteriors. By the way, we recently found out how to save $250 per filter.

14. Media pouch with ten 64GB SD cards (Amazon and B&H).

15. X-Rite’s Color Checker Passport Video (Amazon and B&H). If you get into the habit of using for a few seconds during production, it will save you hours in post. Guaranteed.

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Miscellaneous Items:

1. Obviously, the most important tool if you are crossing any borders: the passport. This website compares the “power” of passports from many different countries, and, as Americans, we are blessed to have the most powerful one.

2. My good ol’ Columbia jacket/vest has been traveling with me to more than 40 countries. It has lots of pockets, a hoodie, and because it has a self-stowing pocket, it sometimes doubles as a pillow on the road. A priceless item, to be sure.

3. Media credentials which sometimes (but not always) can give you special access, get you discounts and the most important part, allow you to travel with some heavy or oversized gear without paying a fortune. Here’s a link to DeltaAmerican, and United Media Baggage policies.

4. A hat, sunglasses and sunscreen — truly essential items.

5. I like to dress in layers and in dark colors when shooting on the road. Black hides dust and stains very easily. A cashmere sweater is worth its weight in gold, well perhaps even more.

6. I always bring gloves unless I’m going to the Caribbean in July, comfortable shoes, and plenty of granola bars.

What else do I bring with me? Here’s the complete list.

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As you can see, anyone involved in run-and-gun, single-operator scenarios like weddings, events, corporate shoots, documentaries, red carpet premieres, product launches, sporting events, video podcasts, and even student films could benefit from these lists, so feel free to share them.

We also have produced several Filmmaking courses on Lynda.com, two of them specifically designed for photographers transitioning into video. Check them out!

Are you working with a small crew constantly on the move? In that case here’s our List #2 – The Moving Crew.

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A filmmaker’s perspective on Japan.

Back in 2011 I made the best decision of my life: to get engaged. Wanting to “pop the question” at an unforgettable location, I asked my wife, then girlfriend, to write down her top five destinations that she had not yet visited. Coincidentally, and even though we both have traveled extensively, her first pick matched mine: Japan. The decision was made, air tickets were purchased, and hotels booked, but the timing was off. Just a few days before our departure, and with the ring well hidden in my camera bag, the Tohoku earthquake hit Japan. It was the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record keeping began in 1900, and the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan.

A few weeks ago we FINALLY had the chance to visit this incredible country and culture, and on this article I’d like to share some of the most amazing things we learned and saw. Like some of my previous videos there’s a generous mix of stills, videos, soundscapes, music and narrations.

First things first

Most of us learned in school that Japan closed its borders in 1639 for more than 200 years, keeping only one seaport open for foreign trade exclusively with Dutch and Chinese sailors. A lot has changed, of course, and the country is currently the world’s third largest economy after the United States and China. This is truly a miracle for a nation that consists of more than 6,800 islands, has a population of 127 million people, and is smaller than the states of Montana or California.

As a little kid I spent countless hours poring over my grandparents National Geographic magazines. I dreamt about far and exotic places like “Antofagasta,” which I related to cannibals, “Ushuaia,” which to me was a synonym for the end of the world, “Oaxaca,” which I imagined full of little skulls everywhere, “Marrakesh,” with stunning belly dancers and crazy sword-fighting warriors, and “Kyoto,” elegant, peaceful, and extremely expensive. I loved the sound of each place.

Now, a “few” years later, I’ve had the privilege to visit all of these magical places and work in well over 700 cities in 50 countries, covering 40% of the world (according to Tripadvisor). Compared to my childhood pipe dreams, some countries have been much more interesting (Hong Kong and Thailand), and a few hugely disappointing (Russia and Vietnam top that list). There are no cannibals in Antofagasta, you can see little skulls in Oaxaca for “Dia de los Muertos,” and Ushuaia can’t be described in words. But Japan, in fact, so far, has been the one experience to closest match my dreams.

A World of Contrasts

If I had to define the country in a single word it would be contrast. Not necessarily as in the wide social and economic disparities one sees in India, China, or South America, but in the everyday culture itself; super-modern buildings next to architectural crimes, decadent meals followed by inedible dishes, massive pedestrian crossings and jam-packed subway cars followed by serene gardens, and very polite and quiet people during the daytime that get insanely wild and loud after dusk.

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Random Fun Facts

Coming from New York, it always strikes me how clean and quiet other large cities are in comparison. Even Los Angeles and Houston seem muted in comparison. In that regard, Tokyo, the most populated metropolitan area in the world, is impossibly silent. And spotless. And huge. For example, Tokyo doesn’t have an actual downtown, but 23 of them, some with a daytime population seven times higher than their nighttime population.

Having been born in Colombia and experiencing first hand the country’s well documented violence during the 90s, it is hard to grasp how Japan, with the tenth largest population in the world can have the second lowest homicide rate, with only TWO gun-related homicides per year, and a conviction rate close to 99%. My brain can’t even process that information.

There are many fascinating things about Japan, from the expected, like magnificent temples, pristine gardens, and stunning package and lighting design, to the highly unexpected like the super-salty cuisine, and the lack of English speaking people and information in English even in popular tourist areas. Regarding tourism, we based most of our itineraries on Frommer’s and Fodor’s guides, which proved to be excellent sources of information.

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We also tried to understand why there are virtually no public trash cans, but no garbage on the streets, millions of people everywhere, but no benches, and restaurants with vending machines, but no napkins. I’m still looking for those answers. Please hit me on Twitter if you have a good guess. And, speaking of Japanese vending machines, one can use any of the 5.5 million to buy beer, wine, canned coffee, cigarettes, food, comic books, toilet paper and even “adult literature and pleasure products.”

To widen our Japanese experience, we stayed at a high-end hotel in Tokyo, and at a Ryokan in Kyoto. The Ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn with tatami floors, paper blinds, a low table for tea and super tiny pillows, provided a unique, but not very comfortable, experience. As an added bonus we located a Ryokan that offered a private Onsen, or spring bath, that was masterfully built with exquisite wood, and harvested the local volcanic waters. Of course, Japan being Japan, even this relaxing moment had many strict rules to be followed in precise order before even touching the water. Overall it was an interesting experience, especially after walking 30,000 steps each day (according to my wife’s pretty handy Fitbit).

One early morning we got the rare opportunity to attend sumo training. As architecture buffs we used some rainy afternoons to visit buildings and stores  by our favorite Japanese designers. We tried hard to cover as much of the Japanese culinary spectrum as possible, from quick lunches at shopping centers’ basements, vending machines, and food trucks, and dinning at traditional Izakayas where we tried delicious Yakitori and horse sashimi.

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Experiencing a sumo training in Tokyo.

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Inside an ancient Ryokan in Kyoto.

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The famous Onsen.

We obviously “had” to fit in a few Michelin-rated restaurants as the respected “foodies” publication has awarded Tokyo the most stars of any city in the world. More than the food itself, the service, presentation, and attention to detail are what truly offers a remarkable experience.

More Random Facts

Japan imports 85% of Jamaica’s annual coffee production, but the fancy coffees we tried were consistently inconsistent. I might get shot for saying this, but the $1 coffee at 7-Eleven was MUCH better than most of the $8 fancy brews we tried. And I’m Colombian, I do know my coffee.

Japan is also the world’s top importer of reggae music and has the largest proportion of jazz fans in the world. We treated ourselves with a jazz concert (and grossly overpriced drinks) at the Park Hyatt‘s bar, from “Lost in Translation” fame. The city views from the fancy bar are great, especially at nighttime, but you get pretty much the same view for free only two blocks away, from Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government Building, where you can also get a very filling lunch for about six dollars.

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Tokyo at night from Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government Building.

Gulping down your drink and slurping is NOT considered bad manners (mom, are you reading this?), but somehow eating or drinking while walking down a street is considered very rude and nobody does it. The Zen proverb “When walking, walk. When eating, eat” is silently but effectively enforced all the time, and everywhere. One day we had to go back to our hotel, just a few blocks away, to finish our Bento box lunch.

We did enjoy bowing on meeting someone, but sitting on the floor with your hands in your lap and your legs tucked under you, not so much. Perhaps because I’m less flexible than a tree. When wearing my first kimono I created a small “fashion emergency” with the Ryokan’s owner, as one should always wear the left side over the right side. The opposite of this is only observed at funerals. Something similar happens with chopsticks; do not point them at other people, never wave them in the air or stick them upright in the rice, since they’ll look like sticks of incense at a funeral. How are you supposed to know all this?

Cash is definitely king, and many ATMs in Japan do not accept international debit cards, with the wonderful exception of the ATMs found at the 10,000 7-Eleven stores. Coins are required for buses, trams, and lockers. We had read that Internet access was horrible, but I have to disagree. Both our hotels, many subway stations and bus stops provided free Internet access. If all you need is checking your map or access something on Dropbox you should be fine. If you are planning to stream movies or video games, stay home.

Packing Tips

In terms of packing, we broke a new personal record for this trip. We were able to fit everything into ONE suitcase. In case all the women reading this article are wondering, yes, my wife wasn’t too happy at first, but she came to appreciate my logic while navigating major transport hubs like Shinjuku, which serves 4 million passengers a day, and holds the title as the world’s busiest station.

In addition to the single suitcase, my wife had a very light daypack, and I brought my favorite photo backpack

Regarding photo and video equipment, I’ve been traveling extremely light and small. This time I brought two Panasonic GH4s (AmazonB&H), two Panasonic Lumix lenses (AmazonB&H) , and a Fuji X100S (AmazonB&H). This is pretty much the same gear I’ve used on assignments in Europe (article on Sigma’s website), Turkey, and commercials like this.

Something I failed to pack (and struggled to find in Tokyo) was a “3-Prong to 2-Prong Adapter.” Considering one can get two for $6 on Amazon, it was very painful to waste precious time walking from store to store and trying to explain what a “3 prong” means with body language and childish drawings. To connect multiple devices I ALWAYS bring two essential items: a mini power strip to charge phones, batteries, and laptops using a single outlet, and a compact USB hub, to connect multiple hard drives to my laptop. This year I’ve been using these small and cheap external hard drives on my travels, and so far they’ve worked perfectly. If you are interested in seeing what’s inside my camera bag, I wrote an article with “The Essential 41 Items” for photography and video assignments.

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The Final Product – The Video

Shooting stills, and video, and recording soundscapes while traveling alone is hard, I’m not gonna lie. Doing all that with your (extremely patient) wife is even harder, but totally worth it.

Obviously it’s impossible to understand a country, city, or even a neighborhood in just a couple of weeks. I’ve spent nine years in New York and every weekend we find something new to do, see, or eat. But, we only have one chance to get a first impression, and I believe those first reactions are great ways to identify interesting trends and cultural differences.

The video below has tons of additional information about Japan in general and our travel adventures in particular. If you like traveling—and eating delicious food—I’m sure you will enjoy it, and if you do, please SHARE the love!

If you are looking to expand your creative options by adding video into your skills set or enhance your craft, don’t miss these courses on Lynda.com.


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Video for Photographers: Filmmaking Essentials.

As we have covered in numerous articles before, still photographers can reasonably quickly learn the most essential filmmaking techniques and greatly expand their creative options and the range of professional services.

In our latest Lynda.com course we help bridge the gap between still pictures and moving images, by explaining and showing, what it takes to transition from one craft to the other. We tried our best to include the most essential video productions techniques; from framing and lighting for continuous shots to directing the viewer’s attention and incorporating camera movement and sound, and even offering a brief overview of our post-production workflows.

This course, our fifth on Lynda.com is the “theory course.” Our goal is to explain why certain techniques, steps or tools are important. Other topics include:

• Understanding the 5 Cs of cinematography
• Choosing the right camera
• Framing for continuous shots
• Lighting techniques
• Using camera movement to enhance your story
• Leading the senses with sound
• Working with different microphones
• Editing and post-production considerations

A follow-up “practical” course (available in a few weeks) will cover hands-on composition, camera movement, sound and lighting techniques, among other useful tips like packing and working with very small budgets and crews.

Enjoy!

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Hybrid Assignments Equipment List: The Essential 41 Items

In aviation, an MMEL (Master Minimum Equipment List) is a categorized list of on-board systems, instruments and equipment that must be operative in order to flight. Any additional equipment not included in the MMEL may break temporarily but it won’t make the aircraft inoperative. Here’s an attempt to create a hybrid MMEL for three different crew sizes.

Let’s start with the definition of “Hybrid.” What I normally mean by this term are productions or assignments where one or two people are required to be the photographer, filmmaker, sound recordist, producer, and even editor. And, these gigs are becoming increasingly popular. It sounds crazy and these sorts of shoots can be. One of the keys to making them run smoothly relies on great planning and working with less equipment that gives you more control in less time. It also helps to team up with other people who can complement our weaknesses.

Short and one-man crew hybrid projects

One substantial challenge for photographers shooting video is how to travel as light as possible while carrying a full production and post-production setup that is literally on their back. Here’s a picture of my backpack, which contains every single piece of gear that I’d need for from one up to three days, except some clothes and toiletries that will go on a small backpack.

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Bag for a 1-day or 2-day gig by myself.

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1. Media Credentials which sometimes, but not always, can give you special access, get you discounts and the most important part, allow you to travel with some heavy or oversized gear without paying a fortune. Here’s a link to Delta, American, and United Media Baggage policies.

2. Two external portable hard drives. I suggest this one, or this one.

3. Audio field recorder like the H4n (or a more current model and smaller version like Tascam’s DR-05) to capture interviews and my own production notes.

4. Camera A for video, in this case a Panasonic GH4 (Amazon and B&H) with a Lumix 35-100mm 2.8 lens (Amazon and B&H). I’m in love with this lens. So small, yet so sharp!

5. Camera B for video, another Panasonic GH4 with a Lumix 12-35mm 2.8 lens (Amazon and B&H)

7. Camera for stills and location scouting; I always carry my Fuji X100s (Amazon and B&H)

8. A variety of Tenba Tool Boxes (Amazon and B&H) to pack all the batteries, chargers, cables, adapters and other small accessories.

9. A small tripod (Amazon and B&H)that sometimes serves as an improvised handheld rig. A car mount works great for time lapse and even to hold the H4n or small lights during interviews.

10. At least one Rode VideoMic (Amazon and B&H) to capture some ambient sounds or  interviews.

11. A 15″ MacBook Pro (Amazon and B&H) with Adobe Creative Suite (Amazon and B&H) and Shot Put Pro.

12. One of my favorite photo bags ever, the new Tenba Shootout (Amazon and B&H)

13. In terms of lighting, for these assignments I try to use mostly available/natural light, but I bring a 5-in-1 Collapsible Reflector.

And here’s my typical outfit and setup for some of these solo hybrid gigs.

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My outfit for hybrid shoots.

1. My good ol’ Columbia jacket/vest has been traveling with me to more than 40 countries. It has lots of pockets, a hoodie, and because it has a self-stowing pocket, it sometimes doubles as a pillow on the road. A priceless item, to be sure.

2. Benro S4 Video Monopod. Small, relatively light, and sturdy. Works great.

3. Panasonic GH4 with a Lumix 35-100mm 2.8 lens.

4. Rode VideoMic Shotgun

5. I always bring gloves unless I’m going to the Caribbean in July. Montreal was pretty cold and wet!

6. Obviously, the most important tool if you are crossing any borders: the passport. This website compares the “power” of passports from many different countries, and, as Americans, we are blessed to have the most powerful one.

7. I like to dress in layers and in dark colors when shooting on the road. Black hides dust and stains very easily. A cashmere sweater is worth its weight in gold.

8. Camera for stills: The Fuji X100s is especially handy after a very long day, when I don’t want to carry more gear but still want to capture a few night scenes of nice-looking dishes during my evening meal.

9. A hat—another essential item.

Longer projects and bigger crews

For a longer hybrid assignment where I’ll have one or two more people (gaffer/grip and a second camera/DIT) I’d bring a few more items. In this case we wouldn’t  need to carry everything on our backs, but we definitely need to pack as little and light as possible.

We would bring a Tenba Transport Rolling Tripod/Grip case, to pack one or two Benro S8 tripods, a Benro S4 monopod, a very compact and portable slider that would take the same fluid head from the S8 tripod and/or the S4 monopod. Some grip accessories that I consider essential are at least a couple of adjustable Gaffer Clamps, and a couple Collapsible Reflector Holders which also double as boom stand. These two light and inexpensive items effectively function as one, and sometimes two, additional crew member. A no brainer if you ask me.

On the camera package I’d include an external monitor/recorder like the Atomos Shogun with plenty of Solid State Drives (you can also rent them for only $28 per day!), and all the charges and cables you can imagine, and a power strip (get one with a long cord) that becomes essential when downloading all the footage every night AND charging all the batteries for the next day. I use one Tenba Roadie Hybrid bag for the most expensive, essential and fragile items, namely cameras, lenses, Shogun and hard drives. The brilliant design of the Roadie Hybrid allowa me to treat is as a standard rolling carry-on, but I can also use it as a (very heavy) backpack on uneven terrain, subway stations, etc.

Here’s a view of my carry-on bag.

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My carry-on bag for longer jobs and/or when I have a bigger crew.

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1. Tenba Roadie Hybrid bag

2. Media pouch with ten 64GB SD cards

3 and 4. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 and Sigma 24-105mm f4. These are the same lenses I used last year on another one-man Hybrid project in Istanbul and Europe

5. SanDisk Solid State Drives for the Atomos Shogun

6. Two external portable hard drives

7. Sekonic Color Meter

8. Sekonic Light Meter

9. Rode VideoMic

10. H4n Audio field recorder.

11 and 12. A couple of Panasonic GH4 bodies with Varavon cages, one with a Metabones Speedbooster (for the Sigma and Canon lenses) or a couple of Canon C100 Mark II or C300 Mark II bodies if the job doesn’t require stills.

13. USB 3 reader for Solid State Drives (included with the Atomos Shogun kit)

14. 6TB G-Tech External Hard Drive (compact, super fast and awesome)

15. Atomos Shogun

16. My sharpest and heaviest lens, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 [

17. Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm 2.8 lens and Panasonic GH4 with a Lumix 35-100mm 2.8 lens. These lenses are the equivalent to a 24-70mm 2.8 and a 70-200mm 2.8 but super light and small

18. In terms of lighting I usually bring two or three 1×1 Bi-Color LED Panels with batteries and two Chimera 1×1 Lightbanks with grids. That pretty much covers all me needs. Another option is a Fiilex kit, which I like a lot, but find it way too expensive. I’ll need light stands and cables.

19. Depending on the job we would add another camera movement tool, like a Glidecam or a Ronin or even jibs and dollies. It depends on too many different factors.

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All the bags packed. The LED lights are in the back seat.

Well, there you have my little setups for hybrid assignments. Obviously, there isn’t a perfect setup of gear list, just like there isn’t a perfect camera, but these items have been working great for us.  I hope this article benefits some of you involved or interested in run and gun, single-operator scenarios like weddings, events, corporate shoots, documentaries, red carpet premieres, product launches, sporting events, video podcasts, and even student films.

If you are interested in some packing and traveling tips, especially when shooting overseas, or what to do the day before your video/shoot shoot, we have written about that too. Did I forget anything? Let me know here!

And of course, there are those crazy long, crazy hectic, crazy complex and crazy awesome projects that require everything and the kitchen sink.

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Video

In the Mood for Love Redux.

I love Asian cinema and I feel a strong and special attraction and respect for Wong Kar-Wai’s work, especially his earlier collaborations with Chris Doyle. Wong Kar-Wai is known for his “romantic and stylish films that explore—in saturated, cinematic scenes—themes of love, longing, and the burden of memory.” In terms of photographing urban landscapes, especially at night, I can’t think of a better cinematographer than Doyle.

For the past couple of months I’ve been revisiting his movies, his video interviews, and reading as much as possible about his production methods and unconventional approaches to filmmaking.

Check out the following books to learn more about this amazing director:
The Sensuous Cinema of Wong Kar-Wai” by Gary Bettinson
Wong Kar-Wai: Auteur of Time” by Stephen Teo
Wong Kar-Wai” by Peter Brunette
The long-awaited and complete Kar-Wai retrospective with more than 250 photographs and film stills will be released in September but it can be can pre-ordered now.

In order to better understand his compositional and directorial choices I imported “In the Mood for Love” into Premiere Pro and selected my favorite scenes, including those critical to the story, those that are brilliantly original, and scenes that are flawlessly executed or contain a number of technical achievements (like the impeccable use of dolly moves). I then re-cut all my favorite scenes from the original 94 minutes into a single 18-minute clip (below), always trying to keep the integrity of the story. My goal here is to help someone who hasn’t seen the movie grasp its (very convoluted) story in one 18-minute clip.

If you haven’t see the movie, I highly recommend it, and I’d love to hear from you once you see it.
If you have seen the movie, did I leave any key cinematic moments out?


Photography

Canon EOS-5DS and EOS-5DS R announced. What’s new?

The new Canon cameras have been officially announced. Here are the specs, side by side.

Canon-EOS-5DS-R-vs-Canon-EOS-5DS_850

• Sadly, there are no new features for video on either EOS-5DS or EOS-5DS R. Actually, they are MISSING some video features from the 5D Mark III, like a headphone jack or an HDMI port.

Canon-EOS-5DS-R-Video-Features_850_EduardoAngel Canon-EOS-5DS-Video-Features_850_EduardoAngel

• The cameras won’t be available for PREORDER until mid-June. Shipping dates are still unknown.

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• The highly expected Canon 11-24mm f/4 L USM Lens was also announced, and it is available for preorder!

Canon-11-24MM-Lens

Video

Cinematic Composition for Video Productions on Lynda.com

Composition is one of the least understood yet most important aspects of video. Like good storytelling, in order to achieve good video composition you have to make every detail count and keep the audience engaged in your story. In this course, we break down effective cinematic composition, to show how to create different compositional effects using a variety of techniques. Beginning with basics such as shot size, depth of field, and the rule of thirds, we show how to establish a scene, play with perspective and movement, and incorporate some of the most common shot types, including close-ups and group shots. Once you’ve learned the rules, see how to break them, using warped perspectives and intentionally confusing sequences, before exploring technical considerations such as lenses and lighting.

Topics included on this course:

  • The basics of composition
  • Exploring the rule of thirds
  • Comparing balanced and unbalanced compositions
  • Understanding the importance of using establishing shots
  • Working with point of view
  • Modifying the height of the camera
  • Understanding the lines of a scene
  • Creating depth
  • Incorporating unusual or unexpected angles
  • Knowing when to break the rules
  • Using viewfinder apps

The complete course is currently available on Lynda.com.  If you aren’t a Lynda.com subscriber, feel free to use my link for 10 days of unlimited access.

Here are some of the many examples on this course:

EduardoAngelCinematicComposition_BarnScene_01EduardoAngelCinematicComposition_BarnScene_02EduardoAngelCinematicComposition_ShotTypes_01EduardoAngelCinematicComposition_ShotTypes_02EduardoAngelCinematicComposition_SubjectiveObjective

 

Video

Documenting Istanbul, Paris and Brussels as a one-man crew.

Except for a couple of days where I had the priceless guidance of my friend Levent, I worked alone for three weeks between Istanbul, Paris and Brussels. The assignments required to capture stills, shoot video, record soundscapes, write, and edit everything together as I was moving alone. No problem!

The single operator/producer/editor assignment is becoming increasingly common for several reasons, among them lower production costs, as well as easier access to difficult locations.

I see a lot of opportunities for shooters currently doing weddings, corporate and sporting events, product launches, trade shows, video podcasts, student films or as in this specific project, travel and documentaries.

The main challenge is that on these hybrid productions getting the shot is paramount. There are no second chances, so preparing the shoot and planning for different situations is key. Another big challenge is how to travel as light as possible, but still carry a full production and post-production setup literally on your back.

After Istanbul I went to Brussels with its ancient roots, unique architecture, and bilingual arrangement. From there I went to Paris, the legendary City of Light, which always offers up myriad imaging possibilities. As you can imagine, all these cities were a playground ripe with incredible photo opportunities, and amazing food.

I recently wrote about my experience, lessons learned, and a few tips for Sigma, as I used their lenses for this assignment. The complete articles are available here and here.

If you enjoy my work, please consider sharing it with others. In today’s world, every click, share, and like counts. =)

Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

The (amazing) Cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki (video below)

20 Acclaimed Filmmakers Explain America’s Money Problems in ‘We the Economy’ http://bit.ly/1wq7AF4

This is insane! Disintegrating by Fabian Oefner http://bit.ly/1sKjaVA

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class technology features are truly breathtaking. http://bit.ly/11bpHCs  Suddenly $100k seems cheap! 

MercedesBenz850

After Effects: Understanding GPU, CUDA, and OpenGL features http://adobe.ly/1xxPzq2

Top 50 YouTube and Vimeo Channels for Filmmakers and Cinephiles http://bit.ly/1zZuqDm via  Cinephilia & Beyond

A short history of (believable) CG characters in movies http://bit.ly/1tzpkbn

Brain Jazz: A Mind-Jam with Jason Silva and Douglas Rushkoff (video below)

70-Minute Masterclass With Legendary Cinematograph http://bit.ly/1y3NvoB via Indiwire

Time Is the New Money. Are You Broke? http://bit.ly/1y3NC3y via Inc Magazine

Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

A beautiful compilation of silhouettes in cinema. http://bit.ly/1zZuXFh

Silhouettes850px_01 Silhouettes850px_02 Silhouettes850px_03

A Free Image and Model Release Template You Can Fill Out and Sign On a Smartphone http://bit.ly/1qH1ksh

Adobe Releases Lightroom 5.7 with Aperture Importer and Support for the Latest and Greatest Cameras http://bit.ly/1vv0lgC

Danny Boyle & Darren Aronofsky: Directing Style http://bit.ly/1tVuzSy

There Aren’t Enough Women Cinematographers and That Needs http://bit.ly/1wq2I2A via Indiewire

Space Out With This Turkish Musician’s New Instrument http://bit.ly/1EIN0ST

There Are Now Over 20 Cell Phones that Shoot 4K Video http://bit.ly/1wq5IvY

Which Laptops Have the Best, Longest Battery Life? http://bit.ly/1wq64CI via Digital Trends

Watch an Adobe Panel About the 6K Editorial Workflow of ‘Gone Girl’ http://bit.ly/1wq77CN via Creative Planet Network

James Cameron Thinks Oculus Rift is ‘a Yawn’ http://bit.ly/1wq78Xj via Digital Trends

Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

How Criterion Collection Brings Movies Back From the Dead http://bit.ly/1tzoyuX via Vimeo

Here’s What Happens When You Put Instant Film in a Microwave http://bit.ly/1qtgQFe via Smithsonian

Confused About Codecs? This Video Tutorial Will Teach You What You Need to Know http://bit.ly/1qOE1FU via No Film School

What We See When We Read http://hntd.ch/1p5YDZh via Cool Hunting

Darkness & Light: Contemporary Nordic Photography http://hntd.ch/1p5YPaU via Cool Hunting

The Yachts Of The Super-Rich Do Battle In These Violent Photo Montages http://bit.ly/1qOFX1d

Yachts

The Director’s Chair: Robert Rodriguez Interviewing Quentin Tarantino! It looks amazing. http://bit.ly/1qOHnbU

Steadicam Inventor Reveals the ‘Impossible Shots’ That Changed Filmmaking Forever http://bit.ly/1pARVuG via Hollywood Reporter

Satellite Uses Infrared Photography to See Beneath California Forest Fire Smoke http://bit.ly/1w9IPxu via Petapixel

How Gordon Willis Inspired Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen http://bit.ly/1qOG7Wf via Indiewire


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News

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

Silent No More, Laura Poitras Talks About ‘CitizenFour’ http://bit.ly/1sIOpG1 via Filmlinc.com

Offsite Collaboration and the Cloud http://bit.ly/1zepGvT via Mastering Film

Watch IKEA’s Spooky Halloween Ad That Pays Perfect Homage to ‘The Shining’ http://entm.ag/1zepJIe via Entrepreneur

Portraits of 10 US Presidents Before and After Their Time in Office http://bit.ly/1vNamn1 via Petapixel

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Werner Herzog’s Note To His Cleaning Lady http://bit.ly/1zepPQ1 via Sabotage Times

8 Little Known Secrets of New York City – New York http://bit.ly/1zeq3qe via Weekend Notes

Will Video Kill Photography’s Stars? http://bit.ly/1zepSv7

9 Cinematography Tips for Directors with No Space & No Budget http://bit.ly/1zepRY6 via NoFilmSchool

Access Nollywood, Nigeria’s Booming Film Industry http://bit.ly/1zeq6T0 via Good Magazine

Panasonic and Red hope to replace photos with frames of video http://engt.co/1zeqaCa via Engadget

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News

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

The 10 Most-Pirated Movies http://bit.ly/ZEtLdc via PCMag

In Praise Of Architectural Extravagance http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/fastcompany/headlines/~3/0jV4-o40gSE/in-praise-of-architectural-extravagance

10 Tips from cinematographer Roger Deakins http://bbc.in/12UFkiQ via BBC news

Harvey Weinstein Defends Netflix’s ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” deal http://bit.ly/1xzZozV via Indiewire

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Q&A with Master Documentary Filmmaker Manfred Kirchheimer http://bit.ly/1xzYXG1 via SVA.edu

Published for the First Time: a 1959 Essay by Isaac Asimov on Creativity http://bit.ly/1xzZ6Jo via MIT Technology Review

Attention Documentary Filmmakers: Every 2015 Lab, Grant and Film Festival Deadline http://bit.ly/1xzZckh

Canon announces EOS C100 Mark II http://bit.ly/1xzZTtN via DP Review

This may be the most important lesson about color you’ll ever see http://bit.ly/1xA07B8 via RedShark News

colour

4 Ways You Can Save Time in Post by Shooting for the Edit http://bit.ly/1xA0jQT via NoFilmSchool

News

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

The Moving Image Genre-form Guide http://1.usa.gov/1q3nrSJ via Library of Congress

Ever-Changing Technology Challenges Filmmakers http://n.pr/1vNae78 via NPR

Portraits of 10 US Presidents Before and After Their Time in Office http://bit.ly/1vNamn1 via Petapixel

Street View uses ‘camel cam’ for desert trip  http://bit.ly/1qo2L96 via Digital Trends

This one is not photography or video related, but it is one of the coolest links I’ve seen in a long time: Your life on earth http://bbc.in/1wsOhdL via BBC – Earth

Modern American Ruins Photographed by Rob Dobi  http://bit.ly/1wsOKNh via Feature Shoot

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Modern American Ruins by Rob Dobi

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Modern American Ruins by Rob Dobi

Inside The Design Of Norway’s Beautiful New Banknotes  http://bit.ly/1wsOMob via Co.Design

Breaking The Cinematic Fourth Wall

Top 10 slow-mo movie moments http://bit.ly/1sIOh9C via YouTube

Future Storytelling: Projects http://bit.ly/1tDo1P8 via HKW

Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

Amazon made the hottest photography and video products announced at Photokina available for preorder! http://amzn.to/1rJwNZp

Case Study: Lighting for Commercials http://bit.ly/1rJwfCL via NoFilmSchool

Dissecting the opening titles for “Manhattan” (2014) http://bit.ly/1rJvUjq via Art of the Title

Amazing Freedive with The Ocean Brothers on Vimeo http://bit.ly/1rJvEAN

NHK demonstrates their 8K 120Hz production system. http://bit.ly/1rJzM3W

BBC Tests Shooting at 600fps in 4K http://bit.ly/1rJzB8N via Creative Planet

Unprecedented access into a fundamentalist Hindu training camp in modern India (watch below) via PBS.

Beautiful images of Airports from above http://bit.ly/1vfZQSP via Fast Company

Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

As Protests Rage, These Dizzying Photos Show Life In One Of The World’s Densest Cities  http://bit.ly/ZkTbxn via Co.Exist. Incredible photo essay by Australian photographer Peter Stewart.

15 Free Organizational Tools for Photographers http://bit.ly/1w13Tnc via Petapixel

This Real-Time Projected CGI Makeup Is Beautiful And Terrifying http://tcrn.ch/1p3v14R via TechCrunch

Graduating from Zoom-ins and Outs  http://bit.ly/1rykMHx via Cinevate

The Village Underground Lisboa http://hntd.ch/1p5YzZK via Cool Hunting

Burning Man Meets TED http://bit.ly/1pAS94X via Hollywood Reporter

Real Time Face Tracking Projection http://bit.ly/1wtX6X2on Vimeo

Girls From Brazil’s Favelas Find Escape In Ballet http://huff.to/1nxpgH7

BrazilBallet

The five best North Korean films http://bit.ly/1qtblGx via The Guardian

4 Experts Predict How Moviegoing Will Change in 10 Years http://bit.ly/1pASd4F via Hollywood Reporter

Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

The 10 Best Tracking Shots http://bit.ly/1q33tdO via Raindance Film Festival. This is only ONE of them!

UPDATED: Canon Permanently Drops Price On Most ‘L’ Glass:
Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0L IS USM Standard Zoom Lens is 33% off
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Zoom Lens is $999

Drone video shows Apple’s ‘spaceship’ campus construction http://bit.ly/1w13C3B via Digital Trends

My Top 10 Rules of Travel Photography http://bit.ly/1z2Z3Wg via Ami Vitale

The Airbnb of Location Scouting? Set Scouter Connects Filmmakers Directly to Property Owners http://bit.ly/1pgfLRm via No Film School

Watch: Trailers For Martin Scorsese’s List Of The 39 Foreign Films You Should See Before You Die http://bit.ly/1pgfP3B via Indiewire

An In-Depth Guide to the Best Drones http://bit.ly/1pgfZYy via The Wirecutter

The most popular #Film & #Video projects on @ Kickstarter http://kck.st/1q2FYSb

The 100 Greatest Movie Threats of All Time  http://bit.ly/1p0T5PU

Mesmerizing GIFs Use Light and Motion to Visualize Sounds http://wrd.cm/1p0VTfV via WIRED

Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

 The crew of VICE and their go-to Canon gear

Listen to 12 Hours of François Truffaut Interviewing Alfred Hitchcock for Free http://bit.ly/1sOj44w via No Film School

The perfect storm of talent and tools http://bit.ly/1sOj8kQ via Pro Video Coalition

Solving 50 problems in 50 days with design. Just like that. http://bit.ly/XwoK6i

The Art of Editing to Music http://bit.ly/1p0RCsM via Creative Planet

Magnum Photographer David Alan Harvey in the streets of Korea with the Fuji X100S

4K Monitors Under $850 http://bit.ly/VCxBlu via Pro Video Coalition

How To Make A Movie In A Country With No Film Funding http://bit.ly/VCxLcD via Indiewire

The Panasonic Toughpad shows up in a Comic Book http://bit.ly/1pF2QrJ via Digital Trends

Set Etiquette for Cinematographers http://bit.ly/1pF36XK via Mastering Film

News

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

13 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ask A Chinese Photoshop Expert For Help http://bit.ly/XfuCks via The Poke

James Bond: 50 Years of Main Title Design  http://bit.ly/Xfvlls via Art of the Title

This Way Up on Vimeo http://bit.ly/1ytjPhD via YouTube

Remembering Robin Williams: 7-Minute Video Tribute http://bit.ly/1lU9R34 via The Playlist

Future Independent Filmmakers Will Make More Than Movies http://bit.ly/V4sc6i via Film Courage

23 eBooks For Photographers That Are Completely Free http://bit.ly/1lZQ0iW via Light Stalking

Acer Reveals B286HK 28-Inch 4K Monitor, Specs, Price http://bit.ly/1pvJOEr via Digital Trends

The New USB Standard Will Turn Your Photo Transfers Up to 11, and It’s Reversible http://bit.ly/1pvKF88 via Petapixel

For top 10 posts 60 Seconds on Set: Focus Pulling http://bit.ly/1pRzXHV

Robert Rodriguez Discusses Hollywood, Film Making and Sin City http://bit.ly/VwVA5h via Comic Book Movie

News

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

Increíbles fotografías subacuáticas de Enric Adrian Gener http://bit.ly/1sQfKDo via Cultura Inquieta

swimming_09

 

Secret Photos From Inside North Korea Show Life In The World’s Most Isolated Country  http://bit.ly/1sQbsMq via Fast Company

Complete your photography kit with Lightroom and Photoshop for just $9.99/month 

A Beautifully Filmed Look Inside Sigma’s Lens Factory in Aizu, Japan http://bit.ly/1sQfTXJ

14 Most Colorful Towns and Cities in Europe http://bit.ly/1sQkBEN via The Culture Map

Longyearbyen-colourful-houses-660x440

‘Deadline’: A Fascinating Look Behind the Scenes of a Struggling Philadelphia Newspaper http://bit.ly/1sQlbm3 via Feature Shoot

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 and Sony Alpha 7S added to studio comparison http://bit.ly/1sQlE7v via Digital Photography Review

Apple expands OS X Mavericks Raw compatibility http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5955 via Apple

Adobe Officially Working On Aperture to Lightroom Migration Tool, Releases Accompanying Guide http://adobe.ly/1sQm51U via Adobe

Photos of the Super Moon http://bit.ly/1sQmEZn via Le Figaro

 

 

 

 

News

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

New Photoshop Extension Cures the Multiple Open Document Blues http://tnw.co/1z5B2AJ via TNW

Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty Discusses URSA & Image Issues with Production Camera 4K l http://bit.ly/1z5B9w5 via No Film School

Planetary Panoramas – 360 Degree Night Sky Time-Lapses http://bit.ly/1opnDMT via Vincent Brady

NIKE world cup fonts http://bit.ly/1qGz4TF via designboom

4K RAW at 1000fps: Astounding Test Video Shot with the Phantom Flex4K http://bit.ly/1lSrkHX via Petapixel

Learn how to increase the production value and emotional depth of your shots with camera movement via http://bit.ly/CameraMovement lynda.com

Learn Filmmaking with Video Courses and Tutorials from lynda.com

13 Bad Habits Filmmakers Need to Break http://bit.ly/1o6JcEI via Indiewire

What Does It Mean to Be a Cinematographer? http://vimeo.com/100096260 via Vimeo

Lab tested: The Mac Pro Daisy Chain Challenge  http://bit.ly/1o6JMCu via Macworld

This Graphic Details the Daily Routines of Famous Creative People http://bit.ly/1o6KaB3 via Lifehacker

Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

GOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Explore every goal from the entire history of the World Cup over the duration of a single match. http://econ.st/TruWdp via The Economist

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10 Social Media Do’s and Don’ts for Filmmakers http://bit.ly/1qcFNEz via Indiewire

Behind the Scenes of OK Go’s Viral Optical Illusion-Packed Single Take Music Video http://bit.ly/1jPimLt via Petapixel

E-books to outsell print by 2018 says new report http://bbc.in/1i6CMPB via BBC News

System requirements for Adobe Creative Cloud http://adobe.ly/1qcGy0c via Adobe

How to Clean Your Camera Gear: Tips From the Canon Call Center http://bit.ly/1l2bCza via Popular Photography

Surprisingly Colorful Photos Reveal a Side of Antarctica You’ve Probably Never Seen http://bit.ly/1jPikDn via Petapixel

Adobe’s Photoshop Express finally comes to Windows Phone  http://bit.ly/1qcFGJ5 via Digital Trends

What ‘Ultra High-Definition’ really means http://bit.ly/1qcFBFp via Engadget

5 Inspiration and Organization Tools for the Video Editor http://bit.ly/1qcFSYJ via Videomaker

News

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

Bird’s-eye view of Brazil revealed by hexacopter http://bit.ly/1pDxQqD via BBC News

Yelp plans to add new video feature to its mobile app http://bit.ly/1hD1Nlg via Digital Trends

Tutorial: How to Pick the Best Focal Length When Capturing Landscapes http://bit.ly/1hD1RkO via Petapixel

Ditching the MacBook Air for Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 http://bit.ly/1hD4wuN

“The Beygency” Edit Timelapse on Vimeo http://bit.ly/1rRUYGg via SNL Blog

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Meet ‘The Archivist’ at National Geographic http://bit.ly/1hD9ojF via DPReview

40 more maps that explain the world http://wapo.st/NiYxCK via The Washington Post

Google & YouTube Reveal Best Streaming Video in the U.S. Ranked by ISP Google Video Quality Report http://bit.ly/1hDvHWo

How Video Gets To You http://bit.ly/1hDvVgc via Google

What a shot! 25 amazing sports photos http://cnn.it/1ijG3JQ via CNN

News

How to fix our broken education system. Some thoughts.

For several weeks we’ve been seriously talking about our education system, and we’d like to share some of our ideas on the subject.

The current education system is broken, outdated, and, dare I say it—dangerous. How did we arrive at this point, and what can we do to remedy the situation? (more…)

News

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

Filmmakers On Developing Style http://bit.ly/S3kZBC via ARCBLOG

BBC to stream World Cup matches in 4K ultra HD http://bbc.in/1i6CFU4 via BBC News

Behind the Scenes with Film Editor Walter Murch http://n.pr/1rS1619 via NPR

Cinematographers discuss their lighting techniques and go-to instruments http://bit.ly/1rS1ixv via HDVideoPro

Computex: Google Glass rival and other wearable tech seek sales http://bbc.in/1i6CM24 via BBC News

How to Maximize Production Value on a Minuscule Budget http://bit.ly/1i6CPL9 via No Film School

Stop Obsessing Over Gear and Just Shoot Your Film. http://bit.ly/1i6CSXm via Indiewire

4K PC Monitor Prices Could Fall Below $400 This Year http://bit.ly/1i7c0Xh via Digital Trends

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Google Adds Street View, Indoor Maps of 12 Brazil World Cup Stadiums http://bit.ly/1i7cc8X via Digital Trends

12 Beautiful Metro Stations That Transport You to Another World http://bit.ly/1i7eO6J via Good

Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

Managing Creativity: Lessons from Pixar and Disney Animation http://bit.ly/1i7Q2lB via Harvard Business Review

10 Tips for Producing a Micro-Budget Indie Film http://bit.ly/1hD1abh via  Indiewire

Fireproof Waterproof Desktop External Hard Drives http://bit.ly/1hD1Cq9 via iosafe

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What is USB 3.1, When Will It Be Released, and What Will It Do for PCs http://bit.ly/1r7zGE4 via Digital Trends

Good Video Editing Techniques to Consider http://bit.ly/1hD25si via Mastering Film

Google’s camera app now lets you shoot in different aspect ratios http://bit.ly/1hD12bQ via Engadget

To Hollywood, All Things Hip Lie in Brooklyn  http://nyti.ms/1hD2fQs via NYTimes.com

Vittorio Storaro Explains How DPs Can ‘Write with Light’ to Tell a Story  http://bit.ly/1hD5kzP via No Film School

9 Marketing Tricks to Steal From the Oscar Nominees http://bit.ly/1f4qu7s via Inc Magazine

T-Mobile launches affordable tablets with 200MB of free data for life http://bit.ly/1r7zBQY via Digital Trends

Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

Asus Reveals PB287Q $650 28-inch 4K Monitor  http://bit.ly/1hCZQ8q via Digital Trends

Cuba Before The Revolution http://bit.ly/1horg1E via Print Magazine

The 10 Commandments of Color Theory http://bit.ly/1pyJbYt via Designmantic

Behind-the-scenes photos reveal the secrets of Mad Men sets http://bit.ly/1pyJdj8 via Gizmondo

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BBC examines 100 years of Leica http://bit.ly/1hD0fHX via DPReview

What is SATA Express, What Will it Do For Laptop, Desktop PC Storage http://bit.ly/1r7zxkf via Digital Trends

A forgotten Belgian genius dreamed up the internet over 100 years ago http://bit.ly/1hD09jC via Engadget

60-Second BTS Video Speeds Through the Retouching of a Corona Advertisement http://bit.ly/1nGMoE5 via Petapixel

12 Invaluable Tips for First-Time Filmmakers http://bit.ly/1hCkzZV via Indiewire

Did You Know: You Can Set Your GoPro to Take High Res Stills While Shooting Video http://bit.ly/1hCZX3L via Petapixel

Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order. If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

David Ogilvy’s 10 top tips for video scriptwriting http://bit.ly/1he0m29 via Econsultancy

Be very afraid of AT&T merger http://bit.ly/1nwyeoS via The Chicago Sun-Times

Centr captures 360-degree video at 4K resolution: Connect http://bit.ly/1nwxY9B via DPReview

Extensive Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Making Of Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Black Swan’ http://bit.ly/1nwAcFM via Indiwire

Google’s Robots Are Solving the Biggest Problem in Modern Photography http://wrd.cm/1nwy7cW via Wired
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The 10 Smartest Cities In The World http://bit.ly/1nwAm06 via Fast Company

Bentley Shoots Documentary Film Using iPhone, iPad http://bit.ly/1nwAqgi via Digital Trends

China’s Lenovo sees 29% jump in full year net profit http://bbc.in/1nGLAPs via BBC News

Breaking Bad – Motivated Camera Movements http://bit.ly/1pyI4bf via VashiVisuals Blog

Free Chrome Extension Allows You to View RAW Images In-Browser http://bit.ly/1nGMGuy via Petapixel

Photography

Traveling to Bangkok? Let me share a few tips.

Traveling to Bangkok? Let me share a few tips.

Don’t waste your time visiting the National Museum. The key galleries are being renovated so there’s very little to see. Keep in mind that no backpacks are allowed in the museum so you must leave your photo gear at the ticker counter unless you plan ahead.

Ah, the mysterious Thai cultural center. The first mission of this center should be to inform Thais of its existence. Even though I checked the map and asked a taxi driver, two cops, a receptionist, and even an official-looking guy in a suit, I wasted more than two hours trying to find the deserted center. Not a single employee spoke English and all the written information was in Thai.

I hate shopping malls, but in Bangkok they proved to be my best ally. Not only I could find clean restrooms and extremely cheap bottles of water (1.5 liters for 50 cents as opposed to 250ml for $8 dollars at my hotel.) Most malls also have a food court, selling the same food as street vendors and for almost the same price, but with a much more comfortable place to sit and rest.

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In many countries, people don’t want to be disrespectful, so they make something up when you ask for directions, even if they have no clue what you’re talking about. I generally ask at least two different people to verify the info, and most of the time I get conflicting answers.

In Bangkok and especially in Chiang Mai you don’t even need to buy bottled water. You will find a 7/11 as often as you would find a Starbucks or Chase branch in Manhattan.

Do not rent a motorcycle in Phuket. Nobody will tell you this, but you need a Thai driver’s license. An international driver’s license only works IF you meet an honest cop who speaks English, which means, it doesn’t work. The traffic ticket costs $500. Not wearing a helmet will cost you another $500. No, I didn’t get a ticket, in case you were wondering!

We truly appreciate your support for this and similar project by purchasing My Asia • Photo eBook (iPad)
The PDF Version is herePDF version is available here, and the printed version from Blurb is here.

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Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

These are my top ten favorite articles of last week, in no particular order.

How to Make a Film Like Alfred Hitchcock: A Breakdown of the Master’s Techniques via No Film School http://bit.ly/RtfwEO

Video Test: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Versus the Canon 5D Mark III http://bit.ly/RtgUac via Petapixel

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Thanks to Google Glass, we can watch an IndyCar pit crew at work via Digital Trends http://bit.ly/RtgWiv

Japan man held over ‘3D-printed guns’ http://bbc.in/RtgZLh via BBC News

Epson’s Glass-like ‘Moverio’ specs go on sale for $700 via Digital Trends http://bit.ly/RthJ2U

Is it true? New service detects processed photos http://bit.ly/RthLbc via DP Review

Fascinating Book Described Thousands of Colors 271 Years Before Pantone http://bit.ly/1k8l0PK via Petapixel

The 20 Worst Summer Blockbusters Ever http://bit.ly/RtfsEV via The Playlist

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As Digital Cinema Shooting Reaches 4K, 6K, & Beyond, How Will Post Production Keep Up? http://bit.ly/1k8rVZj via No Film School

What’s The Difference Between A Font And A Typeface?  http://bit.ly/1jNky55 via Fast Company

If you have something worth sharing next week, please send it my way by email or Twitter.

Photography

Hong Kong: The quiet city.

The quiet city.

Comparisons between Manhattan and Hong Kong are inevitable: Both are islands, have many skyscrapers, high-population densities, and crazy real estate prices. Both are magnets for money and people looking for opportunities. And both offer food prices that range from dirt cheap to insanely expensive. Hong Kong has 7.1 million people and a density of 17,024 people/sq. mile while New York has a population of 8.1 million and 27,550 people/sq. mile.

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But, Hong Kong is different. VERY different. From the time you touch down, it takes less than an hour to move through immigration, travel to the baggage claim, and board the spotless and quiet express train. That’s easily the wait time at JFK’s taxi line. In Hong Kong every driver spoke English, helped us with our bags, turned the meter on without our request, knew the most efficient way to our destination, charged the exact fare and gave us exact change. I can’t recall the last time I didn’t have to give step-by-step directions to the airport’s cab driver in NY. Then, of course, I have to pay $60 for the privilege of doing their job. My wonderful taxi experience cost $10 in Hong Kong. The city is clean, modern, and efficient. It feels safe and full of opportunities. Most subway stations have shopping malls attached, with spotless restrooms, restaurants, and parks. It shocked me how quiet the city is. In three days we didn’t hear one siren. I wish I could say the same about Brooklyn.

Amazingly something like 80% of the island is a natural reserve. If you get tired of city life, you could simply take the 30-minute express bus for only one dollar to Stanley market, which is on the opposite side of the island and offers landscapes that compete with some of the best I saw in Vietnam. I recommend all visitors take the super-convenient double decker tram system and the a spectacular ferry ride. Each will cost 30 cents in American currency making them one of the best tourist bargains in the world.

Building the puzzle

Traveling to me is like building a puzzle without a reference image. Or, perhaps a chess game where you are one of the pieces moving from one place to another, deciphering maps, and memorizing names with 15 characters that look just like all the other names. It is all a fascinating game played in real time, without cheat codes, or escape menus. Just you and the new place you are about to discover.

There are tourists and there are travelers. The tourists are afraid of the unknown, the different. You see them eating at Subway or McDonald’s right next to the local food market. I am a traveler. I adapt to local customs, eat what the locals eat, enjoy trying new things, push my boundaries, embrace feeling uncomfortable, and have a blast getting lost. There’s truly nothing like traveling to recharge the soul. I love to reconfirm every so often that people are good and generous by nature, and that the universal currency is not dollars or Euros, but smiles.

We truly appreciate your support for this and similar project by purchasing My Asia • Photo eBook (iPad)
The PDF Version is herePDF version is available here, and the printed version from Blurb is here.

Photography

Sir, you are crazy! Welcome to Vietnam.

Sir, you are crazy!

My growing up in Colombia turned out to be a huge advantage for traveling in Asia. We Colombians and Asians have a lot in common. We can cross avenues with hundreds of motorcycles zooming past. We understand that sidewalks and stoplights are mostly symbolic. It’s in our blood that the asking price for an item is merely a suggestion and we can haggle until the end of time. We can smell danger coming. We can eat almost anything without getting poisoned. We have a superhuman ability to locate and exterminate bugs. Coming to Asia makes you realize that growing up in a third world country has key advantages.

In Ho Chi Minh City I received the best compliment ever: “Sir, you are crazy! You are like the American chef on TV!” The gentleman in question was referring to Anthony Bourdain and the reason for the wonderful reaction was simple. When traveling alone, I like to ask cab drivers to take me to THEIR favorite lunch or dinner spot. They always know the best places in town. My driver and I feasted on Pad Thai at the eatery where he takes his girlfriend. It was the best Pad Thai I’ve had in my life. And it cost $1.50.

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Friends often wonder how I obtain access to so many interesting and often difficult-to-infiltrate places. The answer is fairly simple—I ask questions. One example: while having breakfast I asked my waitress for sightseeing recommendations. She sent me to the War Museum. There I saw three geisha-looking women entering a room. I went to see what was going on and I was told it was a private Tea Ceremony for the Japanese Consul. After a quick introduction and talking to the right person, I was invited to stay, and for four hours I witnessed a fascinating Japanese tradition at the War Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. All because I simply started asking questions

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Halong Bay was breathtaking, but after Thailand, Vietnam was disappointing. Sadly, the vast majority of Vietnamese we dealt with were unnecessarily rude, or, at best, simply didn’t care about engaging in anything that didn’t represent money changing hands. I was told that this `is a common expression of independence. Vietnam has a cultural history of more than 20,000 years—that’s one of the longest continuous histories in the world. They have been the target of so many foreign aggressors that yelling “no!” to a foreigner must feel great. Unfortunately, tourists don’t understand, nor appreciate, this behavior and will increasingly choose friendlier countries like Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Singapore in which to spend their time and money.

At any major tourist destination it is nearly impossible to walk for more than 30 seconds without having to stop for someone taking a picture. The weapons of choice are iPhones shooting vertical video and tablets with very thick covers for stills.
Also trending are what I call the IVSTs (iPhone vertical video self-portrait tours). The culprit chooses the busiest walking intersection at a popular tourist destination and records themselves talking nonsense about the place. An example: “this is the largest temple in the world and it is very old.”

We truly appreciate your support for this and similar project by purchasing My Asia • Photo eBook (iPad)
The PDF Version is here PDF version is available here, and the printed version from Blurb is here.

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Video

My Top Ten Favorite Articles of Last Week.

Starting last week, I’d like to share the best 10 articles I’ve read over the past week. I’ll try my best to stick to photo and film articles, but sometimes I might add cool and random stuff.  If you have something that should be included please send it my way by email or Twitter.

10 tips for editing video in a thoughtful, compelling way http://bit.ly/1k8lfue via TED Blog

Improved 4K display support in OS X 10.9.3 http://bit.ly/1k8k9OW via Macworld

4K TV shipments skyrocketed last March, exceeding 1 million units http://bit.ly/1k8kDVs via Digital Trends

Lots of Sony news:  Sony Ditches OLED TVs (again) to Concentrate on 4K Ultra HD http://bit.ly/1k8kjpw and Sony Sold 39 million Android Phones in 2013 http://bit.ly/1k8krW9 both via Digital Trends and Sony forecasts losses until 2015 after PC exit http://bbc.in/1k8knWy via BBC News

DaVinci Resolve 11 Adds Powerful Editing and Media Management Tools http://bit.ly/1k8kwsX via CineTechnica

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The Best Marketing Decision You’ll Ever Make http://bit.ly/1siPIs6 via Inc.com

14 Powerful TED Talks by Photographers http://bit.ly/Rm4zom via Petapixel

The Special Effects in Only God Forgives http://bit.ly/1fP2gVU via Filmslie.com

10 Films In Which Actors Play Multiple Roles http://bit.ly/Rtfixb via Indiwire

News

Thinking Big: Alice in Wonderland.

Thinking Big: Alice in Wonderland Kickstarter.
by Alice DuBois

William Blake, Diane Arbus, Walt Whitman, Frida Kahlo…So many artists we love now had a real struggle just to make ends meet. We wonder how we could do without Arbus’s incredible, fearless eye and Blake’s luminous vision of the woes and exaltations of humanity. However, their realities were difficult: Arbus had to teach to make ends meet when she should have had free reign to take all the photos she could, Whitman had to spend his own money to publish “Leaves Of Grass,” and Blake spent his life in a constant struggle, never getting paid well and never really being appreciated. Now they are all hailed as geniuses.

I’m a painter, and certainly not a genius, but I feel a real kinship with these artists and all the others who were, and are, faced with the struggle of making a living and staying true to their vision. I’ve been painting for 19 years, nine of which have been as a full-time artist. It’s been a real trial trying to make work that I feel is truly from the heart. I’ve struggled to make work that at least strikes a balance between what I want to do “from the heart” and what I know I can sell.

It’s been truly difficult, especially in these sour economic conditions, to make a living. I started out hoping to be my own sales person, using new technology to reach art lovers without the help of a gallery. But what I’ve come to realize is that this is too hard for me to do on my own. After nine years of making minimum wage with art that I feel is worth much more, I’d like to turn a corner in my career and partner with a gallery.

In order to make a break from this cycle of just making small, sellable art, I have a Kickstarter project to fund the creation of several larger pieces. My hope is that these paintings will help me attract a gallery that I can partner with. My goal is fairly modest—$2,000.

These funds will afford me the time and supplies to make some larger work. As of May 7 I’ve raised half of my fundraising goal—and there are just two weeks to go. I hope you will take a look at my Kickstarter video and my artwork and judge for yourself if my art is worth more than minimum wage.

Photography

Thai people and the guardian of wealth.

The guardian of wealth.

Proud and humble don’t seem to fit in the same sentence but Thais are proud, yet humble, people. You can see it in their eyes, and the way they treat each other.

As in all my travels, my most rewarding and exciting experiences are the exchanges with locals. Spending quality time chatting with locals like Krit, a very hip computer animator, or Mr. Tanta, a very proud police officer, gave me a much deeper understanding of Thailand than any book, movie, or tourist tour could ever do.

I spent a lot of time talking with Buddhist monks who inevitably would ask my name and then ask what it means. Eduardo, for the record, means “the guardian or keeper of wealth, where wealth could be understood as knowledge.” Chatuphon, my 17-year-old friend photographed here means “the four blessings” which are: A long life, Be rich, Be strong, and Be healthy. I’d say that’s a powerful and meaningful name.

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By far, the most fascinating character on this trip was Eak. Now in his mid 40s, Eak was born and raised in Switzerland by a Thai mother and Swiss father. He speaks PERFECT German, French, English, Thai as well as some Spanish. He visited Thailand for the first time when he was 20 years old and told me that he suffered a culture shock. “I didn’t understand why these people, my relatives included, chose to live under such poor conditions,” he told me.

After working for a very large and well-known corporation in Zurich, and making, according to him, “more money in one hour than what he now makes in three days,” he returned to Thailand to take care of his dying mother. “I was in shock for an entire year.” He now works as a driver in a boutique hotel in Phuket. Are you planning to go back to Zurich? I asked. “The life quality is here, but the money is there. I still don’t know what to chose.” I can certainly understand his answer.

Phuket is both an island and a province, the largest in Thailand and about the size of Singapore. Places like this are like paradise. No rocks, no corals, no trash, not even shells. Just very fine sand and body-temperature water so calm that you could mistake it for a pool. The only sounds are the waves crashing, a few birds chattering, and the occasional jet ski.

It seems that the only requirements to open a bar in Chiang Mai are a pool table, a fan, a bottle opener, and the willingness to ask foreigners if they are interested in receiving a massage.

We truly appreciate your support for this and similar project by purchasing My Asia • Photo eBook (iPad)
The PDF Version is here PDF version is available here, and the printed version from Blurb is here.

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Photography

Traveling to a foreign country is like falling in love.

Falling in love.

I’ve always believed that traveling to a foreign country is like falling in love. All your senses are heightened; everything is new, exciting, and mysterious. You can almost taste the colors and touch the smells. You experience mundane things like the rain or city lights from a different perspective. This is especially true in places where I don’t speak the language. It is wonderful to be unable to understand most billboards and ads!

Architectonically, Bangkok is similar to South American capitals like Bogota or Santiago, but hotter. Other key differences include an efficient subway, an impeccable elevated train, express buses, and a wonderful river taxi system (local, semi express, and express). The signs and ways to purchase tickets are so well organized that even without help one can understand and navigate the system right away. The city is shockingly clean, safe, and well organized. When compared to New York and other “world capitals,” Bangkok is years ahead.

The mid-sized Lumphini Park is a small-scale version of Central Park right at the heart of the city. I arrived at sunrise, looking to photograph people jogging and meditating, and, indeed, I found that. However, I also spent some time with a tai chi master, was invited to have breakfast with a group of retired Chinese folks, and photographed a woman who in the 70’s was the number-one dancer in Thailand and number-three in all of Southeast Asia. Now she teaches others how to dance tango. She even gave me an autographed photo of herself!

The food in Thailand is phenomenally tasty and affordable. I often had lunch with an appetizer, two entrees, dessert, and a Pepsi. All for a bit less than three dollars, including tip. Here’s another tip: I strongly recommend that you NEVER peek behind a street vendor’s shop. It ain’t pretty. Trust me.

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It always takes a few days to flush the “New Yorker” in me out of my system. I want things to be quick and efficient, and I hate to wait. People in Thailand, especially outside Bangkok, are NOT in a rush. It can be frustrating trying to squeeze in tiny corridors with hundreds of people moving slowly, or waiting forever for someone to show up. The only real option is to adapt, slow down, and go with the flow.

If you want to discover the local habits and avoid touristic clichés, Khlong Toei Market is the real deal. For two hours I was the only foreigner and the only one with a camera. A traveler’s paradise. It’s a short walk from the National Convention Center and it’s challenging, but it’s totally worth a visit. The fish and crabs were still alive, the calamari was swimming in its own ink and the pigs’ heads were still bleeding. Don’t wear flip-flops or sandals—what looks like blood is blood. Wear a shirt that you can wash right away, and plan to take a long shower immediately after visiting this market. The smells will stick to you, but so will the experience.

The first few days of visiting Buddhist wats are fascinating. All those colors and details. So much history, and so many traditions I can’t even begin to understand. The Emerald Buddha (which is really carved from green jade) was first DISCOVERED in 1434. The sacred image wears one of three seasonal costumes: Summer, Rainy Season, and Winter.

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I was told that in Buddhist wats, the bells toll three times a day: once to announce the start of the day, once at noon, and once to signal the end of the day. Monks are prohibited from growing their own food, storing their own provisions, or cooking their own meals. I was very surprised to know that some of them are not vegetarians. In Thailand, they rely on whatever is freely given to them by others, and this might include meat. The monks eat twice a day—breakfast at 7 a.m. and lunch around noon. After that, they are only allowed to drink water and other liquids, but they can’t eat solid food and they can’t store food overnight.

After a few days of visiting wats, your eyes and mind stop seeing—you are there, wanting to be moved and inspired, but the feeling is harder and harder to recapture. In Europe we can get overloaded by visiting too many churches and museums in too short a time. In Asia, one can quickly experience wat and crowd overload. Be sure to enjoy those first few days of innocence and wonder.

Bangkok’s Chinatown is like the opening sequence from the 1994 film Chungking Express—chaotic, overcrowded, packed with long and narrow hallways, and hundreds of people walking extremely slowly. The two competing shopping malls are “China World” and “India Emporium.” It seems like a good commercial representation of the world.

We truly appreciate your support for this and similar project by purchasing My Asia • Photo eBook (iPad)
The PDF Version is here PDF version is available here, and the printed version from Blurb is here.

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