My Q&A about MANCHILD (and its prequel short AMATEUR) just went live on my favorite sports/movie website, Grantland (if you like it, please click "Recommend"at the bottom of their article!). Grantland is ESPN's in-depth, long-form journalism spin-off that features movies alongside sports coverage, which made it my #1 target for AMATEUR. Most sports websites, however, are accustomed to posting a quick highlight clip or an animated .gif. Thus, to spread the short to other sports sites, we're doing a couple of things: one, releasing the short on YouTube, and two, cutting a 15-second teaser that (hopefully) whets the appetite. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again (with a different strategy). Here's the new teaser:
Joe Hubbard, a No Film School reader and editor at an LA-based trailer house, downloaded the Vimeo file from when I first released AMATEUR and, on his own, cut a teaser and sent it to me. I loved the rhythm of the piece and immediately scrapped my own plans to cut a preview. Thanks Joe!
As for the feature itself, I'm happy to share that we just got into IFP's No Borders co-production market, and will be taking a full slate of meetings about the feature in September. As you can imagine, this short will figure prominently in those meetings. And, as always, I'm working on the script constantly. I've also been taking copious notes on the things I'm learning by releasing a short online, many of which relate to Short of the Week's post about film festivals that take online shorts, and I look forward to sharing those lessons learned once we're a bit further in the process.
I'm always interested in who's reading No Film School and what kind of film work they (you) are doing, so I followed-up with the editor of the teaser, Joe Hubbard, and asked him some questions about cutting trailers and working at a trailer house.
Q&A with Editor Joe Hubbard
NFS: What's your background? How did you get started in film?
JH: I worked in retail for many years but always had a love for the arts. Started with sketching and painting which evolved into basic music production. Eventually, I moved to film production, shooting short films with friends. With no schooling, I relied on online tutorials and trial and error to figure it out. Editing came most naturally, so I started to focus on that full time.
NFS: Were you always interested in trailers or how did it come about that you got hired at a trailer house?
I moved to LA in 2010 and didn't know anyone. I spent the first 6 months or so networking any way I could. As an editor, it's easier to put yourself out there, because all you need is an editing program. So I offered my services pro bono for many months, trying to get better and find that right connection. I ended up meeting a very successful feature editor who became a mentor to me. I never even thought about trailers, but he felt they would best serve my particular skill set. He recommended me and I was able to land a gig. And I have loved it from the start.
NFS: You used the basketball bounce as a kick-drum equivalent in the AMATEUR teaser, and it seems a lot of trailer editors are musicians. How do you approach structuring a preview, do you go with an audio-first approach?
Editing is all about pacing, which is creating a rhythm. Video game trailers are extremely musically driven, so I may cut for days with just music before I even start looking at footage. Features are a bit different because story is such an important element, and different movies may require different approaches.
NFS: Can you easily turn off the "that shot would be good for a trailer" part of your brain when you watch features now or is that just part of watching movies for you?
Yeah, that's not too tough. But I do get a lot of inspiration from great sound design in film. Many times, a particular sound used in a way that jumps out to me might find it's way into a trailer of mine. I try to keep those ideas set aside to use at some point.
NFS: Where can folks find out more information about you and your work?
My site is being redone right now but JoeHubbard.net should be up within the next month.
It's a particular challenge to cut a trailer for a short because normal lengths don't apply (you would never want to make a 2:30 trailer for a 10:00 film... thus the short length of ours). Thoughts on our teaser?
As we covered when news of The Sphere’s first film was announced, Darren Aronofsky’s Postcards From Earth has proven to truly be one of the biggest marvels of modern cinematography. And not just because of its ambitious scope, but also—quite simply—by its sheer technical achievement.
Let’s take a deeper look at this one-of-a-kind 18K camera—dubbed the Big Sky camera—and explore how it was developed to record footage designed to be shown on The Sphere’s 160,000 square foot LED screen at the highest pixel resolution (19,000x13,500) in the world.
Behind the Scenes with the Big Sky Camera
Thanks to a new behind-the-scenes featurette produced by the Wall Street Journal, which you can watch below, we now have many more details about this new Big Sky camera system and how it works. We knew it was massive and that it reportedly took a 12-person crew to work, but many of the technical specs and features were left unknown.
From the looks of it, though, this 18K Big Sky camera was developed specifically to be used for films shot for The Sphere and its wildly large screen. The camera itself faced many challenges, namely how to capture such wide angles and how to simply reach the highest levels of super-resolution.
To address these challenges, the Big Sky camera was designed to feature wide angles with a fisheye lens that is almost 12”/30.48 cms across. This circular and linear design is able to distort the view so the widest angle possible can be captured in a circle.
Also, the camera was designed with a square 18K x 18K large sensor to help this circular image fit more perfectly into the square as a way to eliminate any wasted pixels. Together with the lens, this sensor is able to capture the full scope of the footage needed for The Sphere’s ginormous screen.
The Marvel of The Sphere Itself
While this is obviously just one screen at one place in Las Vegas, The Sphere has captured the world’s attention if not simply by its sheer scope and scale. The Sphere itself is the largest spherical structure in the world, standing at 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide at its widest point. The theater seats 17,500 people (with 10,000 of those seats being the haptic seats complete with sound vibration).
However, the true marvel is the 160,000 square foot LED screen with its 19,000x13,500 pixel resolution, the highest in the world. Which, of course, helps it become perhaps the most immersive experience ever known to man.
Still, with a screen 20 times larger than an IMAX screen, the innovative engineering needed to produce content for this screen has been a huge challenge. Before the Big Sky camera, a team of engineers had to weld 11 cameras together just to get footage for the screen. However, thanks to the Big Sky camera, its technical wizardry has now been able to seamlessly integrate 11 different perspectives into a singular view.
The Marvel of The Sphere
The Future of Big Sky Cinematography
What’s still to be seen, though, is simply what will come of this new camera and screen combination next. Darren Aronofsky certainly seems like a good choice for the camera and theater’s maiden voyage with his Postcards From Earth film. However, many are now wondering what comes next.
Even with the Big Sky camera, the challenges are quite immense. It takes a 12-person team to man the camera and it takes quite a bit of planning, at least for anything scripted, as the field of view extends almost behind the lens—which means productions and sets will need to be giant and immersive themselves.
The next projects will undoubtedly need to make use of tons of other technologies, like VR, for example, just to produce anything besides documentary-style productions. However, with such a large seating array, and with so much marketing behind The Sphere itself, we’re excited to see who takes on the challenge next—and what they’re able to dream up for it.
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