Adventures in Filmmaking!

Red Pine Studios is moderating our annual filmmaking workshop with the Boulder Adventure Film Festival. Here is our blurb from the Festival catalog…should be a fascinating evening with some outstanding image makers who are all involved in unique productions. Join us for the only local conversation of its kind…shooters and producers talking with each other.

Film Workshop

A complete festival schedule is available at: www.adventurefilm.org

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Coming Up…

Boulder Digital Arts
Getting Started with RED Digital Cinema – Thursday, October 29
Get all your questions answered about RED cameras and workflow
Register here: Boulder Digital Arts

Boulder Adventure Film Festival – November 12-14
Come join us for this year’s Outdoor Video Producer’s Workshop on Saturday, November 14 11am-1pm at the B.side Lounge
Come for the films, stay for the workshop. We’ll announce the line-up once it is posted with the regular Adventure Film schedule:
Boulder Adventure Film Festival

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Psychological Thriller “Spectrauma” Wrapped on October 17

Click here to view a Slideshow of stills from recently wrapped feature film “Spectrauma” – written and directed by Michael Lauter, starring Migina Tsai, Trevor Nelson, Pamela Bell, and Chandan Prithiani. Djuna was the Director of Photography, and I was camera operator. Although the truth is, everybody did lots of everything. We had an outstanding cast and crew who worked intense hours to meet a 17-day shoot schedule on locations throughout Colorado — including Flagstaff mountain, the Denver Nature and Science Museum, an optics lab in Denver, the CU campus, the Grant-Humphreys mansion, and a super-secret undisclosed location, which you will have to watch the film to see. Shot on our RED cameras using Arri Master Prime T1.3 fast lenses for superior low light performance.

“Spectrauma” is a psychological thriller about a group of graduate students whose resonance experiments lead them into some shadowy depths of the real and imaginary. Michael Lauter will be overseeing post-production. Release is currently scheduled for 2010. 

Thanks to Migina Tsai and Cat Cordova for contributing many of the photographs to our slideshow. For a more in-depth account of the journey, read Migina’s production blog at: Full Rich

On location at the Grant-Humphreys mansion in Denver

On location at the Grant-Humphreys mansion in Denver

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Bomb-proofing Our Data

Geek alert! Get ready for the spine-tingling tale of data management and storage…prop up your eyeballs with toothpicks because this is actually somewhat interesting.

First, an ironic truth. The tapeless recording revolution is here, it’s happening. And archiving the data, are you ready for this, requires…more tape.

Once it is recorded, your media has to end up stashed somewhere, and the most stable (30 years) archiving material is tape. Why adopt a tapeless workflow in the first place, then? Good question. Because the best possible imaging is now available only from tapeless systems — there are limits to the data rates that can pass through recording tape, and the higher resolutions and higher quality imaging of digital cinema require speeds that surpass what is available on these recording tapes. That is why we record, instead, to compact flash and hard drives when we shoot RED cameras. But, at the end of the day, archiving your masterpieces still requires a massive amount of storage space to hold the contents of your recording media. And hard drives, while cheap, take up space and are not ultimately reliable.

Archival tape has a 30 year shelf life, is cheap and compact. Enter our LTO-4 Cache-A tape drive. Each tape costs about $50 and holds 800 gb of material. The unit itself isn’t cheap, it cost almost $8,000, which may sound ridiculously over-priced, but when you consider that the an 8 terabyte RAID costs around $2300 and holds, well, 8 TB (becomes around 5 TB if you stripe it RAID 5 to truly make your data recoverable) and takes up a huge chunk of desk real estate, then the cost of the Cache-A begins to make more sense. Small, stackable, inexpensive archival tapes. Unlimited, recoverable, networkable storage.

Our data is the lifeblood of our company. We can’t afford afford to skimp on its protection. And as we move our business more towards the production of feature film and documentaries shot on RED, we need a vast amount of storage. A single feature film will fill around 4-6 of these 800 GB LTO-4 tapes.

I recently purchased a linear tape drive (LTO-4, in geek talk…), which is currently the fastest, largest commercial storage tape medium available. Have a look at this brief snapshot of the history of LTO-4 tape (courtesy of wikipedia, for uber-geeks, the full chart is available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_Tape-Open)

lto4

Since its inception (LTO-1 in the year 2000), the capacities of LTO tapes have doubled roughly every two years, and the speeds have increased exponentially — with dramatic plans for future increases.

When I look back to 1986, the year that my mother purchased my first laptop, an Epson portable with a flip-up screen and 64 kilobytes, yes, kilobytes of storage memory, it puts the whole journey into perspective. It allowed me to write a ten-page paper (no graphics, of course). If I had to write a 20-page paper, I wrote ten pages and dumped the drive and then wrote the next ten pages. This created an occasional problem…but it was certainly a big leap ahead from the powder blue Smith-Corona electric typewriter and a small vial of liquid paper that I lugged to college for my freshman year.

And today, I am shooting my stories in glorious 4K RAW (now 4.5K, actually, with the most recent RED firmware upgrade…) and storing them on 800 gb archival tape.

Which begs the question…with all of these magnificent tools, have the stories themselves actually improved since my college days??

But I digress!

Anyway, I found this snapshot and thought that it told an interesting story of where we stand right now and where we are headed in the future. The future of story-telling is data management, pure and simple, and with the tools of LTO-4 and RED cameras, I believe we are well-positioned to thrive in that future.

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Shooting Leadville 100 for “Why Run?”

 

Enjoying a trimphant moment over the top of Hope Pass, at 12,600 feet

First place female finisher Lynette Clemons enjoying a trimphant moment over the top of Hope Pass, at 12,600 feet

 

It is always inspiring to shoot athletes. It is triply inspiring to shoot the Leadville Trail 100, an ultramarathon that challenges runners to complete a 50-mile out and back route. Leadville’s most heinous feature is a grueling ascent and descent of Hope Pass at 12,600 feet – not once, but twice! Yes, twice. Did I mention that it was an out-and-back?

Our entire shooting team turned out to assist in the production of producer Amelia Tanttila’s documentary-in-progress entitled, “Why Run?” – a film that will pose this question to people from all ages and backgrounds to investigate the forces that compel people to, well, RUN! 

Djuna shot starts, finish line interviews, and a bunch of footage in between, I was responsible for dropping off Brandon at the Sheep Gulch trailhead, so that he could ascend to 12,600 feet, with all of his camera gear, before the runners appeared. And then I shot whatever I could catch at Twin Lakes and also at the base of Hope Pass. 

Brandon probably had the most difficult assignment, hiking straight up 2.5 miles from Sheep Gulch, sitting in the thin, exposed air for six hours and shooting, then hiking another 5 miles down the other side to meet the rest of the crew in Twin Lakes, in time for dinner. His most marvelous sunburn has already commenced peeling….

Of course, his minor achievement — a good, hard day of hiking and shooting and lots of attentive waiting — pales in comparison to the race we covered and the rockstars who ran it. 100 miles in under 30 hours is a little hard to comprehend.

My laugh for the day was when Lynette Clemons, the female winner, passed me shooting at mile 60 at Twin Lakes and said to her pacer, “I feel great. It doesn’t make any sense to me. But I feel great.” Djuna managed to get a finish line interview with Clemons, a Leadville local, and it turns out that she had a very interesting story of her own – you’ll have to check out the movie, though, to find out what it is. No sneak previews here. 

Our original assignment was to cover Darcy Africa, who finished in third place, remarkably while stopping at several aid stations to breast-feed her infant daughter. Speaking of inspiring–how did she pull that off? And we also covered the story of Jurney, a pacer who “only” ran 35 miles of the race to help one of the officially entered racers stay fresh. 

When you shoot a race that takes place over a 24-hour time frame, there is a lot of waiting, followed by bursts of mad scurrying to grab the shot, as you see a racer turn a corner or crest a peak and head towards you. Events can be stressful, because you often have one chance along the way, and so many circumstances can conspire to blow the shot (like the guy jumping up and down in front of my camera yelling, “Where’s the trail? Where’s the trail??” just as Darcy Africa entered my viewfinder).

On the other side, the best part of shooting doc work is the happy surprises and the convergence of unanticipated coincidences that happen along the way. Discovery is the name of the game. I’m addicted to it.

Another fun day with cameras on a beautiful, sunny  Colorado day. These are the best times to be a Red Pine shooter.

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Thrills and Chills with Spectrauma Media

Here is the press release for our latest upcoming project. While our studio tends to gravitate more towards inspirational content rather than spooky stuff, this should be a lot of fun to shoot. We have a number of interesting locations lining up and some talented actors. The biggest draw towards this project is the chance to collaborate with Michael. I should be able to learn a few things from working within his poetic visual style – you can watch his demo reel online here.

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Red Pine Studios, LLC has contracted with Spectrauma Media, LLC to produce the forthcoming feature film Spectrauma.

 The screenplay was written by Michael Lauter of Spectrauma Media. Lauter will also direct the film. At the 2008 Denver Underground Film Festival, Lauter was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to independent filmmaking. Spectrauma is his third full-length feature film production. 

Lauter’s new psychological thriller follows a group of brilliant graduate students, whose academic curiosity leads them into the darkest realms of applied science. These Ph.D. candidates make a major breakthrough in quantum computer architecture. Their device is so ingeniously designed that it awakens the team to disturbing possibilities. One by one, the students involved with the research go mad, missing… or both.

Red Pine will shoot the film on ultra-high definition RED digital cinema cameras. This will be the first feature film in Colorado shot entirely using Red Pine’s fast Arri Master Prime lenses. These lenses are specifically designed for maximum performance in extreme low-light situations and will be especially suited for capturing the film’s dark, edgy mood.

Red Pine will also provide a variety of pre-production services. Auditions will take place at Red Pine’s facility in North Boulder through August. Principal photography will take place in September and October and will showcase several unique Boulder and Front Range locations. For more information or to learn more about the available roles, contact casting@spectrauma.com.

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Jobs at Red Pine Studios – Tips for job searchers

Is it spring? Or is it the economy? I don’t know, but we are getting a TON of unsolicited requests for employment.

If you are looking for a production job, then I will want to see an online demo reel. Next to word-of-mouth and your connections in the local industry, this is the single most important tool that you will need for a successful job search in film and video production. Your portfolio is your ticket to ride.

If you don’t have one, you should be out there shooting every free project that you can, until you have enough material to put an online demo together and have also figured out how to get it online in a viewable form. (Hint: Myspace, while viewable, doesn’t speak favorably towards your professionalism, put it on Vimeo, if you must use one of the free sites…) That is how it is done. 

The second thing is, you need to research a bit about who we are and what we do and show us why what we do is a fit with your skills and interests. If you are just pulling names from CPRG and sending around generic requests for employment, it will show. Your description of your experiences should have something to do with your perception of what we do.

I probably received over 50 unsolicited requests in the past year. I considered only 5 of those people, based on the “second thing”. They didn’t just want a job. They wanted to work with us and they could tell me exactly why. 

This is not just relevant to our studio. This is how it is done. This is the pathway to a job in this field, working with people who you will enjoy. This is a profession that is built around passion for what we do – let your light shine down.

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