A Filmmaking Blog | VashiVisuals
The SX-70 is more than nostalgia. It’s more than a hipster prop.
It’s amazing technology that gave everyone the freedom to create.
It made everyone an artist with a canvas that developed in their hand.
It taught restraint, patience and decision. 10 shots per pack then. 8 now.
An analog paint brush, futuristic tool, game-changer and camera all in one.
In 1972 – Edwin Land created and released the iconic Polaroid SX-70 camera. He claimed 20,000 technological advancements in its design. “The tool for supplying a rich texture for memory…” is what modern architects/designers/filmmakers Charles and Ray Eames said about the Polaroid SX 70 in 1972. They were commissioned by Polaroid to produce an 11-minute film that shared the technical and emotional components to one of the most famous cameras in the history of photography. The film was first shown at a Polaroid shareholders meeting then later used as a sales tool within Polaroid. Legendary film composer Elmer Bernstein wrote the haunting score that merged together the technology and humanity. The film is a fantastic look at how the revolutionary SX-70 works and the creative opportunities it provides its user.
A Split Focus Diopter is a half convex piece of glass that attaches to the front of a camera’s main lens to make half the lens nearsighted. This lens can focus on a plane in the background and on a foreground element at the same time. To effectively apply this cinematographer’s tool a filmmaker has to plan out each shot so that both the foreground and background elements will be in focus.
The Spilt Focus Diopter creates a hyper-real visual effect that logically shouldn’t happen but somehow it magically delivers a striking and visceral image that resonates in the mind of the viewer.
SPLIT DIOPTER shots are most often attributed to Brian De Palma but director Robert Wise incorporated them into many of his films as a visual style and storytelling device, often using them more than 100 times in one film.
His split diopter shots became an integral part of the story and not just a stand-alone visual trick. In THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, Robert Wise used 206 split diopter shots…the most in any feature film I’ve researched.
Robert Wise edited Citizen Kane. That alone is most impressive. He then went on to direct: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Run Silent Run Deep, West Side Story, The Haunting, The Sound of Music, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and 35 other feature films. On THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, Wise teamed up again with DP Richard H. Kline, one his favorite cinematographers. They went on to film Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979 which had over 100 split diopter shots as well.
Wise and Kline hid many the split diopter shots that separated the focal planes by utilizing the monochromatic walls of the laboratory. The pure white, orange and gray walls were perfect for blending the in-focus and out of focus splits of the diopter. They also created several Double Split Diopter shots that created 3 zones of focus. I had never seen this technique used before and it created quite striking visuals.
I’ve chosen my favorite 71 split diopter shots from THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN and created a chronological video of how they appear in the film. In the pristine and clinical environment of a laboratory, the split diopter really isolates the important elements of the story. With so many computers screens and scientific devices conveying information…this technique accentuates and heightens the drama in one of my favorite sci-fi / virus / government conspiracy films of all time.
Even if you haven’t watched the film, you can still see how this distinctive look is woven into the story and becomes an organic part of The Andromeda Strain. Enjoy!
Behind the scenes of THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN:
BONUS: The Andromeda Strain Soundtrack by Gil Melié
Until next time…
Film Editing begins with organization. A feature film can have anywhere from 77 minutes of footage as in PRIMER to over 500 hours of footage shot on DEADPOOL. On both films…keeping track of the footage and making it all instantly accessible to the editor is paramount to a successful edit. On my current feature film 6 BELOW I am using markers in a new way.
By using MARKERS on timelines and sequences to notate takes, scenes and memorable moments an editor can isolate specific shots or sections that all the filmmakers can use to help wrangle all the footage and help tell a clearer story with all the footage.
All editing software allows for dropping markers on timelines but I utilize one little know function inside Adobe Premiere Pro to help me mark larger groups of shots or sections of similar content. A marker is usually placed on one frame but I like to extend that marker to cover minutes or whole swaths of footage. I then assign a name to the marker and this allows me to visually spot my assets very easily inside my timeline.
Click the image below to see how to extend markers in Premiere Pro.
By double clicking a marker inside Premiere Pro…I can extend the duration of the marker to whatever time period I need to cover a section of my timeline. This allows me to color code and name different assets which makes it easier to share my organizational system with assistants, the director and producers.
You can also grab a marker and ALT-drag to lengthen it right in the timeline.
Until next time…
On Tuesday April 19th I will be presenting two NAB 2016 sessions. Both will share my work as post production workflow specialist and editorial consultant on the massively successful film. In both presentations I will be sharing the actual Premiere Pro timeline used to edit the film. Here is a sneak peek:
My first presentation is at 12:30pm Tuesday on the Adobe Stage.
I will also be moderating the Creative Master Series Deadpool panel at 4pm:
Stop by and say hi if you can!
Until next time…
I’ve just finished editorial on the feature film 6 BELOW starring Josh Hartnett and directed by Scotty Waugh (Need for Speed, Act of Valor). This is my 10th feature film as an editor and a very welcome challenge both creatively and technically. It’s also the first feature film to be edited natively in 6K. I’m cutting the original RED 6K Dragon files (R3D) with no transcoding or proxies in Adobe Premiere Pro. We are framing for a 2.76:1 aspect ratio like The Hateful Eight and using Panavision Primo 70 lenses.
Vaclav Nedomansky was the first player to defect and play in the NHL.
My family escaped from communist Czechoslovakia on July 4th, 1974.
Two weeks later we defected to North America.
I’ve been lucky enough to group up with the freedom my parents didn’t have for most of their life.
July 4th is a very special day for my family on so many levels. I’m so very grateful and now I can return the favor and tell our story…
BIG NED is a feature length documentary film about Vaclav Nedomansky.
He was the first hockey player to defect from a communist country
and play in the NHL. In the middle of the Cold War…
He risked everything for a better life.
He’s also my father…
HERE’S THE OFFICIAL TRAILER
ESPN wrote a great article about the documentary…
You can follow the making of the film on:
The Official BIG NED Facebook page.