Back in the day, it was a point of pride for many of us to display our racks upon racks of DVD cases at home for every visitor to see. People damn near defined themselves by their collections: were you a rom-com person, a kung fu afficianado, an Italian neorealism buff? Were you the type to alphabetize or organize cases by color? I’d venture to bet that some new relationships were made or broken based on a quick perusal of a potential paramour’s DVD fare.
With the advent of streaming, DVD shelves disappeared. While creating a lot less waste and providing a much bigger selection at our fingertips, streaming also brought about the hassle of having to remember where the heck we purchased each film, and switching services and possibly even devices to watch them. No more walking over to the shelf and grabbing the case you wanted, which could be found exactly where you left it. A new service called Movies Anywhere aims to change that, claiming to let you “seamlessly store your favorite movies in one place so you can watch them when and where you want.”
We discovered five exciting features of Resolve 14 that haven’t received much attention. Until now.
Several major features of Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve 14 have received a lot of attention in the press this year: shared user workflows, integrated digital audio workstation with Fairlight, automated face recognition, and tracking. Now that the software is finally out of beta, we noticed a host of other features that we thought deserved a mention. Here are five new unsung features that make Resolve 14 worth a look.
There could be yet another smart speaker to choose from.
The popular streaming device maker Roku may be building its own competitor to the Amazon Echo. Roku already has some voice-command tech, and some publicly available information suggests its leveraging it to branch out into new projects with advanced audio features.
First noticed by Variety, Roku has listed open positions that are specific to tying audio with software. For example, Sr. Software Engineer, New Products, Audio (Expert) requires candidates with experience taking “new hardware platforms from prototype to mass production.” Other listings were for applicants with experience with “voice user interface design.” Read more…
The Magic Kingdom colors almost every scene of The Florida Project. Sean Baker’s achingly beautiful and heartbreaking new film is set in Florida (obviously), very close to Disney, and nearly everything in the background advertises the The Most Magical Place On Earth. Tourist trap stores with huge painted signs advertising Disney merch constantly lurk in the periphery.
But the characters in The Florida Project occupy their own kingdom, one comprised of rundown motels and abandoned buildings. These might seem like squalid conditions, but Baker finds a way to make them seem warm and welcoming without ever trying to glamorize them. The sunsets are fierce and gorgeous, lush pinks and reds and golds, vast and seeming to stretch on for infinity. They feel like home.
Read on for The Florida Project review.
At the center of The Florida Project is Moonee (Brooklynn Prince, astoundingly good here), an adventurous child who rules over the kingdom that is the motel she lives in with her struggling mother Halley (Bria Vinaite). By day, Moonee frolics wildly through the motel courtyard and beyond with her friends Scooty (Christopher Rivera) and Jancey (Valeria Cotto). Whenever films deal with children as the primary characters they run the risk of treating the kids too precociously, or worse, portraying the children as mini-adults. The Florida Project never makes this mistake — the kids here always seem like kids. They’re occasionally bratty, occasionally cruel, but altogether good. They find adventure and fun wherever they can, and it’s often a joy to sit back and watch them act out.
Brooklyn Prince’s performance as Moonee is the glue that holds all of this together. The Florida Project plays coy with just who its main character is at first — at the start of the film, all of the kids seem to be receiving equal time. Yet as the film progresses, it becomes more and more about Moonee, and about how her world is in danger of falling apart while she remains cheerfully oblivious. I’m not sure how much of Prince’s performance as ad libbed, but all of it feels 100% genuine; the type of raw, lightning-in-a-bottle performance that actors twice her age can only dream of. An outsider might look at Moonee’s living conditions and worry, but to Moonee, every day is a wonderful adventure. There’s so much to do, and there are so many waffles to eat.
Baker keeps the camera low to the ground often, putting us firmly into the visual field of a child — we’re down there with them, and the whole adult world is looming above. That adult world includes Bobby, the kindly motel manager played by Willem Dafoe. Dafoe is an acclaimed actor with an impressive career, yet it cannot be overstated how phenomenal he is in this movie. There’s an unmitigated goodness to Bobby, a weary but kind soul who wants to do the right thing. A character like this would be easy to cheapen and turn maudlin, but Baker’s script and Dafoe’s performance never performs this disservice. It’s a quiet performance, and much of the power comes from the somewhat sad, knowing glances Dafoe gives to the world around him. But just as often there’s kindness — Bobby can grow frustrated with the kid’s shenanigans, yet he’s always willing to give them a second chance.
Moonee’s mother Halley will never be a candidate for parent of the year. She sells knock-off perfume and stolen goods to make ends meet, and when that isn’t enough, she turns to even less desirable methods. It would be easy to portray this characters as a monster; a terrible person doing terrible things. But that’s not how The Florida Project works. Halley is flawed, yes – at times almost devastatingly so. But Baker doesn’t judge her, and Vinaite’s performance – blunt and at times even abrasive – is pitch-perfect. Halley is flawed, yes, but she’s trying.
Everyone here is trying. Trying hard to get through their day to day lives; trying to find magic in a frequently unmagical kingdom. Late in the film, Moonee and Jancey are sitting on a tree having lunch. Baker keeps the camera in close on the two girls, not really giving us a good look at the tree they’re perched on. “Do you know why this is my favorite tree?” Moonee asks her friend. “Because it tipped over and it’s still growing.” At this point, Baker cuts to a wide shot, showing a huge, sprawling, toppled willow. It’s a breathtaking moment, and the line lingers, perfectly summing up the characters in the film. They may have all fallen at one point, but they’re still growing.
The final moments of The Florida Project unfold breathlessly — tension is mounting, and there’s the queasy sense that something terrible is about to happen, like a destructive storm about to break. And then Baker does something magnificent — he follows Moonee and Jancey on one last adventure before the credits roll. Is it real or is it fantasy? It doesn’t matter. It’s magic. We can all do with a bit more magic in our kingdoms.
Should you shoot in 4K? (Yes, we’re still talking about this.)
Even though it seems like every filmmaker has a camera that shoots 4K, there are still plenty of those out there still making movie magic in HD. However, if you’ve been wondering lately whether or not you should make the transition to a higher resolution, you might want to learn a few of the benefits of shooting 4K other than the obvious (a bigger, clearer picture). Filmmaker Peter McKinnon shares a few of those benefits in the video below.
Okay, admittedly this subject seems a little dated. These days, everybody shoots 4K, right? Well, it would seem so, but there are still plenty of filmmakers out there who haven’t been able to (or don’t want to) get their hands on a 4K camera—most likely those who are trying to ball on a budget on a Canon Rebel T7i that only shoots HD. And that’s pretty understandable given the fact that many popular (and expensive) cameras from even just two years ago weren’t built with internal 4K recording. Suffice it to say that the switch from 1080p to 4K was a relatively quick one.
After a lengthy search, executives at Warner Bros. and DC Films may have finally found their Suicide Squad 2 director. Deadline reports that Jaume Collet-Serra, the Spanish filmmaker behind movies like Orphan, The Shallows, and the Liam Neeson vehicles Unknown, Non-Stop, and Run All Night is now the frontrunner to helm the villain-centric comic book movie sequel.
The report stops short of confirming that Collet-Serra is officially in the driver’s seat, instead saying that the “studio is focused on” him to take over from David Ayer, who wrote and directed the original film last year. So while it doesn’t sound like the ink is dry on the contracts just yet, it wouldn’t surprise me if an official studio confirmation comes down the pike soon; WB distributed Orphan, Unknown, and Run All Night, and Collet-Serra has proven he can deliver profitable movies operating with mid-range budgets.
Will Smith and Margot Robbie are reprising their roles as Deadshot and Harley Quinn (respectively) in Suicide Squad 2, which has been a priority for the studio. The first film, which centered on a group of imprisoned supervillains forced by a shadowy government agency to team up and save the world, made over $ 745 million worldwide but was critically reviled – largely because it’s a sloppily-edited story that reeks of studio meddling. It famously had a laundry list of problems, including the fact that Ayer wrote the script in just six weeks and, most problematically of all, there were such powerful clashes behind the scenes about the movie’s tone that the studio enlisted a trailer editing company to create a separate edit of the final movie, which ultimately became the final cut that was shipped to theaters.
The movie could begin filming as early as next year, but it doesn’t have an official release date staked out yet. Perhaps this time the studio will make sure the script is up to snuff and everyone is on the same page about what kind of movie it will be before they get in over their heads again.
Samsung has unveiled an LED screen that is movie theater-ready.
First shown at invite-only events back at Cinema-Con in March, Samsung is now publicly showing 34-foot LED screens that are compliant with the DCI spec for digital cinema projection.
Previously, the only devices that passed muster as fully DCI-compliant were projectors, such as Barco, Christie, and NEC units based on Texas Instrument’s DLP Cinema technology and Sony’s LCoS SXRD tech.
According to wdwnt.com, Disney is surveying guests about a potential Star Wars resort hotel experience at Walt Disney World Hollywood Studios. The experience, which would take place on an actual Star Wars starship, would include the opportunity for fans to experience a 2-day story set in the Star Wars universe – a continuous, story-driven entertainment experience that unfolds over the course of 2 nights, personal interactions with Star Wars characters, live performers throughout the starship, and other programs like flight training, ship exploration, lightsaber training, and personalized secret missions. The all-inclusive experience would also feature luxury accommodations, all meals, featured entertainment and dinner shows, park admission to the Star Wars themed land at the Walt Disney World Resort (a new land opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2019), and access to a pool area and water garden, ﬁtness area, on-board cantina, and robotic droid Butlers. As WDWNT points out, the concept is only a survey at this time, but the existence of concept art and the inclusion of the Star Wars-themed land in the plans probably means they are pretty serious about following through.
We all want to become better filmmakers, but what are some of the roadblocks that we put in front of ourselves?
Filmmaking is challenging all on its own, but many times we make it a whole lot harder on ourselves. Even if the universe somehow opened all of the doors we needed to become the best we could be, we would find some way to quickly shut them with things like self-doubt and apathy. If you’re finding yourself in your own creative rut, you might want to check out this video from filmmaker Peter McKinnon, who discusses four issues many image makers face during their career and how to overcome them.
The micro-nations movement is nothing new, but the idea of creating permanent dwellings at sea found a regulation-rejecting Silicon Valley incarnation thanks to PayPal founder and Donald Trump backer Peter Thiel, as well as Patri Friedman, economist Milton Friedman’s grandson. Read more…