Saturday, June 21, 2008

CineGeek 2008

So, today Richard and I went to Cinegear on the Universal backlot. We ran into lots of people and saw lots of cool things, but it was about 100 degrees in the valley, and that made it not quite so fun as it should have been. I don't know why they had the damn thing outside, anyway, with all the cameras and lights and displays baking in the heat. You'd think it would be in a lovely big warehouse with air conditioning, wouldn't you? But no. There were lights on display that were on, but you couldn't tell they were on unless you looked DIRECTLY at them. Ludicrous.

It was pretty surreal, too, being in the "Europe" section of the Univeral backlot with tons of camera gear set up all around. Like some strange, geeky (well, geekiER) Renaissance Faire:


No jousting or lute playing, though... at least, not the normal kind.

We did see some cool stuff though. We saw the Arri D21, which is a lot like the D20 but a) captures full-frame so that it can shoot anamorphic, and b) has simultaneous HD and raw outputs. Cool! And we saw the Phantom 65, which is a tiny little camera with a 65mm-sized sensor-- you can only really use medium format still camera lenses, but who cares? They're good lenses, and I'm sure if the camera becomes popular they'll start making 65mm HD lenses. You can't shoot sync sound with it, but it sure did look cool for the commercial insert work they were showing...

We also saw this, although we didn't get to inquire much about it:


A Steadicam rig on a Segway! GENIUS! Think of the awesome long tracking shots you could do on that thing. Think of the money saved in not needing a process trailer! Well, at least not for ALL car shots. And more than anything, think how much fun it must be to ride! It's for off-roading, sort of, and "unstable terrain." I don't know why no one's come up with this before.

The best part of Cinegear, though, was in the afternoon, when Richard and I waited in line for an hour and then got to see Wally Pfister, ASC talking about his Imax work on The Dark Knight. It was so great: he answered all the questions I've had tumbling around in my mind about how they went about melding Imax and 35 anamorphic footage together. Like, for example, when the movie is projected in Imax, and they get to the Imax sequences, the aspect ratio is just going to BAM change and all of a sudden be full-screen Imax. I think that's so cool... they're just going for it, no regrets. So the aspect ratio changes? So what? We are Wally Pfister and Christopher Nolan and we can do WHATEVER WE WANT. That's how badass we are.

...anyway. Wally talked about shooting on Lower Wacker Drive in Chicago with existing light (awesome), and how Christian Bale and Heath Ledger both did like 98% of their stunts, and steadicam with Imax, and how much better film is than digital, and all sorts of lovely things. I think if Wally Pfister came up to me and said "Hey Cameron, if you walk around the world six times backwards with your hands tied behind your back, I will let you be my intern on Batman 3," I would do it.

He also said that if we went to see The Dark Knight at the Imax Bridge theater near LAX, the print that we see will be struck from the camera original Imax negative. So clearly that is where we are going to see it. Anyone interested?


i'm trying to find a decent design for this here blog. bear with me while it's ugly; it hopefully won't be this way very long.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cameron's Dream Vacations - The Beginning

Today, during my semi-weekly trip to the bookstore to wander around and bemoan my lack of funds and/or time for books (during which I usually come away with a book or two anyway, and tonight was no exception), I lingered in the travel section. It was a bad idea- now I am super sad about not being able to travel the world according to my every whim. So I'm going to start a series of places I want to go... and you guys can help me decide where to go! See, my mom and dad, for my graduation present, gave me a bunch of frequent flier miles. I don't know how many, exactly, and I can't go anywhere yet anyway because I don't have the money to live on once I get there. But... I can dream, right?

So let's start with the completely obscure and ridiculous:

Baffin Island

Random place to want to go, right? Why would I want to visit a giant frozen chunk of the Canadian wilderness? Well, there are many reasons:

1) The aforementioned Canadian wilderness. I am a sucker for wilderness of all sorts- I've often said that you could drop me in the wilderness for a week with nothing but food and 50 rolls of film and I would be happy as a clam. Just a large expanse of nothingness and quiet all around you, dirt and stars and trees and not much else... you can't get much better than that. It might get a little cold at night though.


2) The elusive, majestic narwhal. The unicorn of the seas! I've wanted to see a narwhal ever since I first heard about them long ago- I can't even remember when it was. In case you are not blessed with knowledge of this species, I shall describe: narwhals are whale-like animals that have giant unicorn tusks that are ridiculously long- six or seven feet, from the pictures I've seen:


A narwhal's tusk is actually a gigantic front tooth- I think it's usually the left one. Weird, huh? So incredibly weird that I will not die happy until I see one for myself. There are, on occasion, two-tusked narwhals, but they're rare. Narwhal tusks were used back in the day to convince people that unicorns existed. Anyway, I would imagine one could go narwhal-watching on Baffin Island the way one goes whale watching in California. Maybe you could even see two narwhals fighting! Pretty rad, huh?

3) Polar bears. Polar bears are always cute. I think even if a polar bear were killing someone, it would still be kind of cute.

4) The Northern Lights. Sure, there are a million places I could see the Northern Lights- hell, I even sort of saw them once in Evanston, thanks to Jack and a well-timed "go look at the sky!" phone call. But I would really like to see them in all their glory at least once, and hey, why not doing it while I'm looking for narwhals in the Baffin Island wilderness? Check a few things off my list at once.

Have any of you ever been to Baffin Island or thereabouts? Any advice? I doubt I'll get there anytime soon, but you never know...

Thus concludes the first installment of Cameron's Dream Vacations- it fulfills the previously unattended-to "wanderlust" part of this blog (I bet going to Cinegear tomorrow will fill in the "cameras" part soon enough). Stay tuned- as the summer in LA only gets hotter and hotter and I get more and more depressed with my post-graduate-school life, there will be many more daydreams about far-off places and forays into the travel section of the bookstore. Promise.

i could listen to him write all day long

I sometimes think that, if given the opportunity, I would just drop everything and marry Mark Morford.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

graduation's lost its fun

So, I guess I graduated last week. Not really, but sort of. I don't technically graduate until probably December, depending on when Dockweiler (my thesis) is done. I hope it's December-- if I don't graduate until December, I don't have to start paying back my insane student loans until next June. A whole year! But oh how that year will fly.

Graduation was fun, I guess, but sort of weird. It's like the school made a huge deal out of it, but it didn't really feel like a huge deal. Mom and Dad came but Taylor couldn't, which made me sad. He's coming in August for the family reunion at Manzanita Beach in Oregon, which is why he couldn't come out now, but still... I wanted him to be there.

Graduations are strange because you want to hang out with your friends and meet everyone's parents, but everyone else is trying to do the same things and also entertain their families and so the whole thing is kind of rushed and clumsy and you have lots of people to find and take pictures with but also don't want to disturb anyone's celebrations. Awkward. But of course I managed to take a million pictures anyway- it's what I do.

(AFI cinematographers, minus Edd, Chris Frelich, Mark and Ian, with Stephen Lighthill, Mark Woods and Fred Goodich)

(Triangle of Terror! me and Letia and Bre)

(me and Nausheen in our ugly outfits)

(Richard and me)

(Mom and Dad and me)

(me and Nick, at Hollywood Billiards on grad night)

(girl DPs rock-- me, Nanna, Ceci and Nausheen)

random rambling reflections

If you know me very well, you've probably heard me talk about Natalie and Alec Jacobson, the kids I babysat for at Northwestern:


Their dad got sick with Hodgkin's Lymphoma when I was a freshman at NU, and died the year after I graduated, of complications from his second stem-cell transplant, on Nat's 10th birthday. I happened to be in Evanston at the time, helping Kevin shoot a movie, and it was one of the saddest days I've ever experienced. They've all been doing really well since then, all things considered, and I keep up with them by visiting when I'm in Chicago and reading their mom's blog. She doesn't update it often, but I really look forward to the times that she does.

Anyway, recently Jill, their mom, wrote a post about Father's Day, and how hard it's been over the last couple years since Ken, their dad, died. This is unsurprising, since I can't even imagine how difficult it must be to guide two little kids through the grief that comes with losing a parent so young in life, not to mention a day meant solely to celebrate that parent. What really killed me about her post, though, was what Alec had said to her that day: "I can't imagine what it would be like to have two parents." That, to me, really encompasses the tragedy of the whole situation: that Alec, a little boy surrounded by girls (every single kid in the neighborhood, at the time, was a girl), and a kid who often gets overwhelmed with life, should lose his dad when he was only 7, his dad, who was one of the most gentle, caring, patient people I've ever met. Alec was always full of energy- he used to be unable to sit still and preferred to bounce up and down while we played board games or colored- and extremely stubborn, and while Jill and Natalie are amazingly understanding and fun people, Ken really seemed to be the one that Alec responded to. It breaks my heart that he was young enough when all this happened that his memories of his dad are starting to slip away. It makes me want to sit him down and tell him everything I remember about his dad, about all the little things he used to do that his dad loved to come home to at the end of the day. I don't know that he'd listen... he's only 9, after all. But still...

Jill and Ken are/were truly some of the most amazing parents I've ever met, and I have known the parents of many children in my day. Those kids are being raised right- they are interested in everything, creative and curious and smart and sweet, and have always been courageous in the face of their dad's illness. When I went up to their house a few days after Ken had died, the kids and I went on a mid-winter nature walk around the neighborhood. We brought back an array of stuff to show Jill, and I remember being amazed at her ability to sit down with Alec and talk to him about which were her favorite rocks and why, and really be engaged in the conversation. I don't know what it is to love a child- I've never had one, after all- but that day I really saw it in their family.

I don't really know why I'm talking about all this. Jill's post got me thinking about families, and Jennifer's blog has me thinking about babies all the time now. Most of all, I guess today I really miss Chicago, and the family I found there in the Jacobsons. They are one of the things I miss most about the place- I'd say they're in the top two.

So, maybe I should do something about this. Maybe I'll email Nat and Jill... and Alec, if he has an email address. Oh my goodness, it's insane to think that he might be old enough to have an email address. I miss them. I miss all you other Chicago people too. Are you out there? Do you hear me?