About Admin

Admin has written 16 articles so far, you can find them below.

Six features I wish Final Cut Pro’s log & capture window had

(Written while waiting for several MiniDV tapes to be captured)

1. Capture full tape in X segments

Sometimes, for a simple offline edit, I just want to capture a full tape. Why isn’t Final Cut smart enough to just capture the full tape in, say, ten minute chunks, finishing with a shortend if the full tape wasn’t used?

2. Pause capturing

This is pretty self explanatory, but seriously, why can’t you do this? And in a similar vein, wouldn’t it be cool if you could:

3. Auto-suspend capture when CPU usage exceeds, say, 80%

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a capture attempt that was almost done aborted because I was trying to do one too many things on my computer…

4. Ability to keep the good portion of an aborted capture attempt

5. Capture off a tape for X minutes, timecode breaks be damned!

A user should be able to tell FCP to capture the next X number of minutes of a tape, without aborting due to a timecode break without having to resort to using Capture Now.

6. Ability to toggle preview sound on and off midway through capture

Michael Moore’s new doc to be distributed online for free

Michael Moore’s new doc “Michael Moore’s Slacker Uprising,” chronicling his efforts to oust President Bush in 2004 with his get-out-the-vote tour will be available on the internet for free at the end of the month. The trailer can be viewed above.

The film, which its makers say had a budget of “over $2 million,” will be available as a digital download as well as a DVD, distributed by Brave New Films, which has pioneered a new activism-centered doc-making approach, often relying on donors to fund its politically progressive efforts.

“This is being done entirely as a gift to my fans,” says Moore, who does not plan to profit from the film’s DVD sales. “The only return any of us are hoping for is the largest turnout of young voters ever at the polls in November. I think ‘Slacker Uprising’ will inspire millions to get off the couch and give voting a chance.”

It’s a novel distribution approach, and one has to ask, will it be worth it? Certainly not monetarily since nobody stands to profit, but from the outset, profit wasn’t the goal it seems (getting out the youth vote was, and it’s a laudable one). Moore, who is sometimes criticized for being narcissistic, may also get some criticism for making a film about his own tour four years ago, whose current relevancy some may question.

Still, it’ll be interesting to see how well done it is (and how well it does). Check the film’s website to watch it for free on September 23rd.

Theatrical Releases Not Easy for Iraq Docs, Says Donahue

In May, Phil Donahue’s and Ellen Spiro’s documentary Body of War was playing in a severely limited release across the country. The Iraq War doc which features an injured vet who seeks answers (trailer above), eventually grossed a paltry $71,716 in theaters. Donahue discussed some of his frustrations with the film’s release and editing process at a Q&A session at the time, and Viva Doc was on hand to transcribe his thoughts.

An exclusive partial transcript is as follows.

Donahue on his frustrations with the theatrical release opportunities for Iraq War films:

DONAHUE: The distribution of the movie. The movie does not have a distributor. Iraq docs are playing to empty seats. The winner of the Oscar [for Best Documentary] this year, Taxi to the Dark Side, fell off the marquee. As you can see, this is not a ‘take your girl to the movie’ movie. And we don’t have the big corporate budget that normally rolls out a movie.

We don’t have the money for full page ads. You know Hollywood spends more on promotion than they do on the movie. But I shot my wad on this movie. And you know, the cost of doing a Hollywood type of roll-out is prohibitive. So Landmark [Theaters] agreed to take our films in major cities across the country, giving us a chance to tap dance and see who would throw pennies. But the movie does not hold up. We get crowds like this for the first and second night, when I’m doing Q&As, but it…

HBO? Well it’ll probably be Sundance Channel, and we’ll be selling a DVD… So this film will somehow find its way, but Jaws we’re not gonna be. This is not a theatrical success. We just aren’t selling popcorn.

Donahue on keeping the importance of editing and keeping the documentary lean, mean and focused:

DONAHUE: It’s only one movie. And it is true, 1.2 million civilians are dead. I don’t know how many ornaments you can hang on the Christmas tree, that’s our problem. If you do too much, it gets to be wallpaper, and they’ll run screaming from the theater. It’s hard enough to get somebody to come see this film. That’s why we tried to keep it as tight as possible. And that’s why a lot of things didn’t survive the film. We took Thomas [the main character] to Harvard, he talked to an egg head there who talked about stem cell research. And it just slowed the film down, so it didn’t make the final cut.

Doc-makers make a splash at the Democratic Convention

(Left to right: Al Gore, Davis Guggenheim, Ken Burns, Stephen Spielberg, Tom Hanks, each of which played a role at the Democratic National Convention this year.)

Tens of millions of Americans watched the Democratic National Committee Convention (DNCC) this year from Denver. And although most people were focused on the historical nature of the nominating convention, there were actually several short documentaries that were featured.

While it’s typical to screen short intro biographical videos before high profile speakers take the stage at these events, they’re usually produced by the campaign’s advertising firms, not big name doc-makers. But, in an interesting development, the DNCC this year featured polished documentaries by Steven Spielberg, Ken Burns, and Davis Guggenheim.

Guggenheim, who is best known for his 2006 doc An Inconvenient Truth directed a short biographical documentary on Obama which aired before he took the stage in front of over 80,000 Americans in person and millions watching at home.

Burns, who is best known for his epic PBS documentary series, produced a powerful biographical documentary about Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), which also aired before he took the stage.

And although Spielberg is more known for his fictional work he’s directed nonfiction before, including a 2000 Emmy-nominated television documentary Shooting War, about Armed Forces cameramen, which was hosted on-screen by Tom Hanks. Hanks reprised his role as host in Spielberg’s doc, which was about honoring veteran’s service, particularly in Iraq.

All three of the docs were quite well done and broadcast on primetime national television simultaneously on different networks covering the convention. Audience menbers could be seen tearing up in reaction to the stirring short films.

Watch Guggenheim’s documentary about Obama on YouTube here.

Watch Burns’ documentary about Kennedy on YouTube here.

Bryco MiniDV 50 Tape Storage Rack

How to win back your ex

So, you've got all those MiniDV tapes lying around from your various documentary projects and the obvious question presents itself: where the heck am I going to store all of these? That's the question I recently found myself asking after buying a large quantity of bulk tape-stock and finding I had no place to store my masters.

After foraging around the internet for a good long term tape storage options, I found what has now become my favorite MiniDV tape storage solution. The MDV-50 by Bryco is a molded plastic rack which will hold up to 50 tapes in either a vertical or horizontal manner (Bryco also makes smaller versions for 8 and 24 tapes respectively).

The MDV-50 is solidly built but light enough that you can hang it on the wall, which its manufacturers seem to be suggesting, since the back has three mounting holes in it that allow for either vertical or a horizontal placement. Although it would seem that hanging them on a wall would be optimal for space saving, the MDV-50 is wide enough that it can also free stand upon a tabletop.

Besides size and sturdyness, the main factor motivating my purchase was the price per unit. The MSRP for the MDV-50 is a reasonable $18, though I was able to get two for $30 total from tapeandmedia.com (the 8 and 24 tape versions are significantly less expensive).

Bringing Down Giuliani

In early 2007, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani was leading in the polls for the Republican Party presidential primary, and he seemed sure to get the party’s nomination. It was at that time that I interviewed Williams Cole, the producer of Giuliani Time— a negative documentary about Giuliani. Cole and I talked about his craft, emerging technology, and the state of the race at that time. The interview, which took place in March 2007 over email, is reprinted below.

PARSA: How long did research for “Giuliani Time” take?

COLE: Research for the film was ongoing for many years and throughout the editing as well. Basically the film began in late 1998 when Michael Ratner (now president of the Center for Constitutional Rights) supported a film that was conceived to be about Giuliani and the First Amendment, since at the beginning of his second term Giuliani was acting out in an increasingly irrational way (the NY Magazine ad that he demanded be taken down because it made fun of him, trying to ban protests by taxi cab drivers, an administration-wide hostility to journalists’ requests for information, etc.) – myriad examples – dozens of which we researched and shot around – that, taken together, would indicate not only a personality that was hostile to criticism, no matter how constructive it might be, but who created an administration that was largely based on expressions of loyalty and an ‘us vs. them’ mentality and that ‘we’ are doing the right they and ‘they’ (the critics) are deluded at best. Looking back, it’s clear even before Bush was elected that Giuliani forged the kind of myopic, loyalty-based philosophy of governance that Bush is so so infamous for. But research in all areas – factual, archival, interviews – was extensive and widespread. We shot over 300 hours of footage and amassed probably the same in archival material. And the stacks of journals, newspapers, magazines, etc. were towering.

PARSA: “Giuliani Time” has been called a ‘muckraking’ documentary (by Wikipedia at least, although I think I’ve heard that said in other places as well). What do you think of this label?

COLE: In my mind “muckraking” is hardly pejorative- from Jacob Riis and Upton Sinclair to Jack Newfield and Wayne Barrett, the term of investigative journalism represents the best of what the profession can do – i.e. represent the underrepresented while trying to live up to the ever dwindling ideal of journalism as the Fourth Estate. So, while I don’t know if Giuliani Time can compare to some of the great earth-shattering pieces of muckraking journalism, I do feel that it accomplishes a rebalancing of how the policies that Giuliani touting in NYC were represented in the mainstream media. In most of the nation and the world it was “Giuliani saved NYC” by cutting crime and welfare without ever really going into what that meant or what the consequences might be to minorities and the poor. So, I think it’s an honorable tag to say the least.

PARSA: I think “Giuliani Time” highlights a lot of things about Rudy during his time as mayor that most people don’t know about and would probably be surprised by. How much do you think the average non-New Yorker knows about him? What do you think the average non-New Yorker knows about him?

COLE: I think that there is a big difference between what the average New Yorker knows of him and those that don’t live in New York know of him. Those that don’t live in NYC just know the bits and pieces of positive coverage (with an occasional piece about a protest) that the national press carried about the NY “turnaround” for many years. And, of course, after 9/11 it was America’s Mayor, etc. In NYC I think people know more about him but it’s really based on WHO you are – most minorities, and especially African Americans, really despise him and that’s been pretty consistent in my experience. If you talk to wealthy white liberals it gets less clear – most don’t like him but then again he did “clean things up” – if you go to the outer boroughs, to working class whites then he probably gets even more support. Of course, after 9/11, many people that criticizes him then embraced him but now that’s he’s running for President I think that most New Yorkers are like “what!?” and if he gets far or even the nomination I think it will be more of a surreal experience for New Yorkers than something that people will be proud of.

PARSA: “Giuliani Time” incorporates a whole heck of a lot of interviews with a really wide variety of people- figures in the NYC political scene, welfare recipients, reporters, and even nuns. Did you find New Yorkers were generally eager to talk about their former Mayor?

COLE: Yes. Mind you, this was all shot before 9/11 so it was in the trenches while Giuliani was in office. But I do think he’s a colorful person to comment on. But when it came to some critics and people in the administration it was another story. People were scared of his potential retribution and we lost many interviews at the last moment from people that knew him when he was in the Reagan administration and were genuinely scared to go on record commenting and criticizing him.

PARSA: Did you try to arrange an interview with Rudy himself?

COLE: Over a dozen times over a couple of years we asked to interview him. We even sent a letter to almost all of the Deputy Mayors and heads of various parts of city government (that were forwarded to the Mayor’s Press Office as was the policy then). We got blown off or excuses were made, etc. The fact is that he ran a tight ship and if he didn’t think you were going to be 100% positive then he wasn’t going to give you an interview. That said, I don’t think he would have said very much different to our questions than you see him in the voluminous archival footage we have of him at press conferences, etc.

PARSA: “Giuliani Time” wasn’t financed by any big movie studio, and therefore (correct me if I’m wrong), there wasn’t a whole lot of formal advertising that went into promoting it. I posted a clip from it online (probably illegally), and it’s now been viewed by more than 30,000 people in various formats across various websites. Not every one of them mentioned that it was from a documentary, but several of them did. What do you think about this type of decentralized free promotion and publicity that relies on people rather than advertising budgets?

COLE: I think it’s great on one level because it does allow for a free and widespread awareness of the film through the Internet. But I don’t have much doubt that if our distributor had the money to really publicize the film (with ads in major papers, TV, radio, etc. – NONE of which we had) that it would become the “must see” film right now. It’s hard when you put so much into a film and then when it comes to the release it seems buried or sort of off the radar. The economy of releasing films is difficult and always changing but it seems that fewer films are getting the real backing they need to really get off the ground. Though I do think the viral video element is wonderful and important but I also hope (and we’ll never know) that it sells more DVDs!

PARSA: We’ve recently seen that video– both short web videos and full documentaries– has the potential to do serious damage to politician’s campaigns (take for example the infamous “macaca” video which contributed to the failure of former Senator George Allen’s run for re-election last year). Do you think we’ll see more of this trend in the 2008 Presidential election?

COLE: Good question. I think it all depends how and if it gets into the news cycle. The damage is really done when it jumps from websites and blogs to the MSM (to use a right wing term for mainstream media). That’s when it’s played on the evening news over and over and everybody starts talking about it and it becomes glued to the politician. Our clip of Giuliani in drag and Trump was posted on youtube and written about some and now has over 150,000 views. That’s a lot and I’m sure that is having some effect (though, in my mind for the wrong reasons – the irony of all of this is that it probably won’t be his seriously flawed policies against the poor that bring him down but just the silly fact that he sometimes dresses up for whatever kind of joke). No doubt, though, politicians should and probably will be more careful anytime they speak in public because now everything is recorded. And, actually, that’s kind of a drag for future documentarians, etc. because the more slick and aware politicians are all the time the less they will let who they really are and what they really believe slip out – and that is actually more dangerous in the long run.

Check out the trailer for Giuliani Time here, or its IMDB page here.

Page 2 of 2«12

Related Articles:

Best Documentary Filmmaking Cameras in 2016

The Best 5 Cameras for Documentary Filmmaking

Top DSLRs for Documentary Filmmaking

List: The Best Books About Documentary Filmmaking

10 Funniest Documentaries of All Time

5 Must-Have Documentary Filmmaking Accessories

Why Use Panasonic GH4 or GH3 Cameras for Documentary Filmmaking?

Action Camera Central - Which GoPro Should You Get? & Best Cheap GoPro Alternatives

Royalty-Free Stock Video at Pond5

Tired of looking for free music or sound effects for your documentary? Check out AudioBlocks.com, a really amazing all-you-can-eat royalty free music website that charges a flat subscription fee annually. Once you've signed up, download unlimited music or sound effects you want and use them as much as you want. Signup now to get 90% off your annual subscription.

Find free stock images, royalty free music and free stock footage at AssetGarage.com.