Digital innovations and Filmmaking -

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Be prepared for Final Cut Pro X

A few months ago, I talked about non linear editing softwares (NLE). I often use open source softwares for many reasons : I can use it freely, I have worked a lot in open source projects at Obeo, I like to work in big open source communities (like Eclipse or Acceleo) and, above all, I like the open source way of thinking. Concerning Filmmaking, I like to work with CeltX for the pre-production stuff and I often use Avidemux in my post-production process. I use open source softwares almost every day, I also frequently use Audacity, Gimp, Inskape, Open Office, Eclipse... For the editing step, I have already tested Lightworks, Cinelerra, Kdenlive, Kino, LiVES and I really like all that stuff. But... I think that  Open Source NLE softwares will be KO more sooner than expected. Apple will probably release a revolutionary version of Final Cut Pro in June at only 299 dollars. I hope that one day there will be a great open source NLE software for professionals with such a level of features and a user-friendly interface. It ain't over till the fat lady sings. The new version of final cut pro is announced to be something as revolutionary as the first version. Truth or illusion?

Final Cut Pro X (FCP X) will be out in June and I think that a lot of Indie Filmmakers are waiting for that for a long time. Apple announced FCP X at NAB 2011 in april and the debate has been vigorous between professionals. Some of them in the attendees said that FCP X is not so new. Mike Jones shared his point of view in this good article. My point of view is that the user experience will be revolutionary : no more than full, simple to understand, and natural. Now, my mum will probably be able to use a professional NLE software. Isn't it crazy? More seriously, I think that this new version will also be great for old users. I like this new timeline, cleaner and smaller. Apple teams took the best of the best in other NLE softwares and they have added some user friendly features that bring simplicity in our editing experience (the precision editor for instance). 

Many people said that iMovie'11 and FCP X are looking the same and many of them think that it is a regression for Final Cut Pro. What's that fuck? Let me say that quite plainly, I really like iMovie'11 and I hope that FCP X will be at least as good as a mix of both worlds : iMovie'11 and Final Cut Studio 3 (FCP 7 + Color 1.5).

I decided to use iMovie'11 since the NAB show... since I know that FCP X would bring the same editing experience. I think that it was the best way to get a real opinion and to be prepared when FCP X will be out. I really like the iMovie experience. Of course, color grading features are missing (with histograms)... What I prefer in iMovie'11 is probably the simplicity of the timeline. I don't waste my time in my video resources or in my timeline. I find very quickly what I'm looking for, and I can see in a few seconds what I have already used. I found the following video which shows how you can customize iMovie right now to get it look like FCP X. Of course, you don't have all the FCP X features but it's a good way to try the FCP X user experience.

I used iMovie'11 to edit my last short film The Little Memories because I hope that there will be a fully functional bridge between the 2 softwares.

Thanks to Mike Jones, here is a list of really "new" things in FCP X, meaning specifically features or functions that don’t otherwise exist elsewhere, for instance :

  • Editing whilst ingesting
  • Colour, clean, stabilization processing on ingest
  • People and shot detection
  • Compound clips (collapse clips into a single clip)
  • Auditioning (sampling of different versions of edits)
  • Timeline Index (an index of all the clips in the timeline)
  • One click to match color between clips

Finally, I would like to highlight those features :

  • No more need for Plural Eyes, FCP X will sync your secondary audio upon import
  • Native Editing, no transcoding of your H264 Canon 5D Mark II footage!
  • Dynamically handle massive quantities of media
  • Resolution independent playback system
  • Color correction built in, you can do secondary color correction built right into the application
  • Full color managed based on ColorSync
  • Instant color matching, unbelievable grade with 1 click
  • Grand Central Dispatch, using all your cores
  • Instant render in the background all the time, does not at all affect editing
  • Ramping and changing speeds of clips can be done right within the timeline, it doesn't damage the timeline
  • Handles up to 4K
  • 64-bit, with OpenCL support

See the following videos if you want to see FCP X in action at NAB 2011.

Here is another article where you can see FCP X cool features, and Here is a full article with shots of the new user interface.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Little Memories - My first short film with the Canon 5D Mark II

I'm glad to announce that my short film The Little Memories is released. It was previously named Ces Objets Futiles. I have shot everything with a Canon 5D Mark II and 2 lenses : the Zeiss ZE 50mm f/1.4 Planar T*, and the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L.

Coffee break or Tea time? A meditation time about the multiple traces of the past in our daily life. We become what we are by the past of the people and surroundings that shape us...

Pause café ou Tea time? Un temps de méditation sur les traces du passé omniprésentes dans notre vie quotidienne. Nous devenons ce que nous sommes, en piochant à droite et à gauche dans le passé de ceux que nous côtoyons...

This short film is about making memories during our life. I'm happy now remembering my childhood. I still have a trip diary that I made on a family trip when I was 10 years old back in 1989. The memories in this journal are priceless, and my spelling is hilarious. Creating a travel diary or keeping some ticket stubs preserve children memories for a lifetime. Many people have a unique box in which to capture treasured memories. Why not? It's interesting to look back and see what events impressed us the most.

Blaise Pascal said that we should live more in the present. I agree with that but there are so much traces of the past in our daily life that it is not possible to forget it.

(Full HD is available on Vimeo)
The Little Memories from Jonathan Musset on Vimeo

This film is released under a Creative Commons license called CC BY-SA 3.0. You can redistribute the film freely, do as many copies as you want. The license allows one to share and create derivative works, even for commercial use, so long as attribution is given. The derivative work must also be available under the CC BY-SA license.

CC BY-SA 3.0 : Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

Here is the facebook page of the short film if you like it, if you don't like it, or if you want to suggest something...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Short film Post-Production : My favorite sounds for free

I am currently working on a short film called Ces objets futiles. I have shot everything with a 5D Mark II. I hope that it will be released on May 2011. Shooting is finished and I'm in the editing phase. The post-production phase of creating this short film takes longer than the shooting of the film. At the beginning of the post-production process, I made a short selection for the film soundtrack. I decided to share it now because it's a good occasion to talk about how to stay on the budget (about 2 euros for the coffee in this case) while keeping a good sound quality. There are many free resources on the internet but there are usage terms and every indie filmmakers should know the rules.

The relationship between the cinema world and the music world isn't really easy to grasp. It's crazy but I heard that in hollywood some soundtracks were bought for several million dollars for less than 1 minute in the film. There are so many good artists all over the world... Is it really a question of emotion? In France, it could also be expensive to put a soundtrack in your production. To go further, see the SACEM rules for feature films, shorts or art-house movies for public screening in movie theaters or at festivals. In short, whatever the form, whatever the country, you have to respect the music rights and the code of intellectual property if you want to distribute your work. You can buy a well known music (very expensive) or ask a friend to make a good music for you (don't forget to make a contract), but for me one of the most exciting ways is to go fishing through the internet. Many filmmakers like me use royalty free music in their productions. Be careful, "royalty free music" doesn't necessarily mean "no cost". There are several professional music catalogs on the web. 

My favorite one is Jamendo PRO because the music quality is excellent and it is relatively cheap. But, you can also get good resources for 0 euro. Jamendo also provides some music files under a Creative Commons license. You are free to use and download materials for personal use but if you want to distribute your work, be sure to see and respect the terms of use. These licenses allow the creator to communicate how he waives his rights for the benefit of recipients or other creators. 

There are 6 Creative Commons licenses (from wikipedia) :
AttributionAttribution (by)Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they give the author or licensor the credits in the manner specified by these.
Non-commercialNoncommercial(nc)Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes.
Non-derivativeNo Derivative Works (nd)Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based on it.
Share-alikeShare-alike (sa)Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the original work. (See also copyleft.)

Mixing and matching these conditions is possible. Ces objets futiles will be available under the BY+SA license (Attribution + ShareAlike). It allows one to share and remix (create derivative works), even for commercial use, so long as attribution is given, and the derivative work must also be available under the BY+SA license. This license doesn't allow me to reuse all the music files made under a Creative Commons License. I have to focus on BY+SA or BY resources but it is sufficient to make me happy... There are so many good candidates for these licenses that it really sounds like fishing when I go through the internet to search the perfect music for my project, and I like to do that...

So, here are the musics I choose for this short film :








If you like Creative Commons music, you will probably like the following websites :

To finish with Sounds, if you search ambient sounds, here are my favorite websites :

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tomboy : Canon 5D Mark II or Canon 7D?

A few weeks ago, I talked about the feature film Tomboy, directed by Céline Sciamma, and I said that the film had been mostly shot with a 5D. When the film was released, several articles talked about the 5D, and several others talked about the 7D. So, after my message, I decided to ask the production company to get the real information. They answered that the feature film was mostly shot with the 7D.

The film is projected in the french theatres since april 21, 2011. So, I can say that to the best of my knowledge, this film is the first french production that gets such a succes with this camera.

The 7D is probably the less expensive "professional" digital camera that allows you to put the film on the theatre screen. For me, it was mostly shot with the 5D because at first glance the picture quality was as good as the 5D one. Like I said in my previous message in french, I think that Tomboy is a success for its story and for the way Céline has put the kids in front of these little digital cameras. On the technical side, I also think that Tomboy is a succes for the Canon 7D. Again, kudos to the team of the film...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Un Certain Regard - Another "Viewpoint" on Filmmaking

I like to talk about digital cinema and DSLR techniques. Those cameras make the revolution possible, but if you have a low budget, this isn't sufficient to make a good film for the audience. If you spend too much time thinking about the "how", you'll never get it done. Don't forget the "what" and the "when"! Life is what happens while you're busy making other things. 

Un Certain Regard is an example of what that really mean. The director Jupiter Le Bâtard did this short film by coincidence. All pre-production (idea, writing, casting, location, storyboarding) happened in just a weekend, and production just took 2 hours. The project of Jupiter Le Bâtard was to wring the neck of the trend. Today, most of the short films have a high technical quality but directors often forget the most important thing : the story. What matters is the script and the narration, rather than the high definition tools that we have today at affordable prices. He shares his very interesting experience on this page.

This is just a quick test movie with many "technical flaws", but viewers don't care about all of that as long as the story works and they feel identified with the characters. Taking in account the filming context : no rehearsals, few hours of preparation, no sound, no script supervisor, basic lighting… This little film has worked well out his way into several international festivals in the last year, because most viewers don't care about all that technical stuff. And viewers have to be the main concern of any director, because movies are made for them.

Il s’agit juste d’un test rapide de vidéo avec de nombreux "défauts techniques", mais peu importe, les téléspectateurs ne s’intéressent pas à tout ça finalement, tant que l'histoire marche et qu’ils arrivent à s'identifier aux personnages. Rappelons le contexte de tournage, pas de répétitions, pas de préparation, pas de prise de son, pas de script-girl, un éclairage au minimum... Ce petit court-métrage a pourtant parcouru son chemin dans plusieurs festivals internationaux au cours de la dernière année, et cela a vraiment été possible car, pour la plupart des gens, la partie technique n'a pas vraiment d'importance. Et, à vrai dire, le public devrait être la principale préoccupation de tout réalisateur, parce que les films sont faits pour être vu par un public.