Up-and-coming director Randy Scott Slavin has his own way to capture NYC, and unleashes his homage, via Vimeo, in a piece that easily competes with some of the best NYC footage we’ve ever seen.

Source: Mass Appeal.


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Happy 20th Anniversary To Nas “Illmatic”

In honor of Nas’s classic album “illmatic” turning 20 years old, we gathered all the content that BAM has done for the legendary MC.  Check out the videos and album covers below! #illmaticXX

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App Icon Sketches

Check out the selection of pencil sketches for app icons and illustrations.

Source: Behance.

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2014, Year of the Servo Lenses

Fujinon started a trend when they took their professional mid-range cinema zooms and slapped on a servo unit borrowed from their Broadcast Division. The result was the very successful 19-90mm Cabrio zoom, followed shortly by the 85-300mm Cabrio and just recently the 14-35mm Cabrio. During NAB 2014, or as I call it, Spring Christmas, Angenieux, Canon, and Zeiss all announced lenses with servo units in various practical applications. Credit where credit is due, Fujinon started it…

Canon’s intro includes their cleverly named Cine-Servo 17-120mm zoom. The lens is a bit more ENG than cinema, but with a 7x zoom range and a decent T2.9 max aperture (ramps to T3.9 at 120mm) it’s no slouch, but the broadcast standard 0.5 and 0.4 pitch gears on the zoom and iris pin this zoom as a ENG-centric option. The servo unit itself features all the usual broadcast bells and whistles such as 12-pin serial communication, 16-bit processor allowing pre-programmed zoom, focus, and iris position and speed. Oh and it’s available in Canon EF mount as well. Don’t even think about hanging it off of your 5D without proper support… A lot of great features rolled into one very nice zoom range with a rather attractive price.

Angenieux’s servo unit is just that – a servo unit. There’s no rocker for the zoom, no record button, no display screen, just a precise set of motors to control zoom, focus, and iris. Leave it to French to take something as boring as a servo unit and make it look sexy… The Angenieux Servo Unit (ASU) will interface with all of the lightweight Angenieux zooms including the 15-40mm28-76mm16-42mm30-80mm, 16-40mm, 30-76mm, and 45-120mm. The ASU is compatible with Cooke’s /i Technology, broadcast style handles and cinema style motors and controllers such as Heden and Preston. The Angenieux lightweight zooms are about the lightest most compact cinema zoom lenses available, with superb image quality to boot. This makes them excellent candidates for the ASU which will only add about 1.5 pounds.

Zeiss displayed a prototype servo unit that will attach to any of their three CZ.2 zoom lenses - 15-30mm,28-80mm, and 70-200mm. Each of the three CZ.2 zooms would require an individual mounting plate that would provide the interface for the universal servo unit. The servo unit will feature a zoom rocker and iris control and will have a quick release for speedy installation and removal once the mounting plate is installed. Zeiss says an optional focus motor will be available as well. Connectors for external controllers are also available. Overall, this unit appears to be a nice blend of cinema and ENG features, making the CZ.2 some of the most versatile zooms available.

Fujinon and their Cabrio lenses seem to have the CinENG blend down well. When the servo unit is detached, the Cabrio lenses appear and function just as well as any other mid-range cinema zoom. Fujinon announced a rather interesting new zoom at NAB – a 25-300mm. That’s a 12x zoom for those counting, with an optional servo unit. The other lenses in the Cabrio line-up, the 14-35mm19-90mm, and 85-300mm are all considered usable for run-and-gun shoulder mount work whereas the new 25-300mm will be slightly different considering it’s rather hefty at nearly 20 lbs. with the servo unit. The servo unit is intended more for remote applications or studio style work with external controllers.

So what do we gather from this motorized development? Is Fujinon the trend setter? Is this just another fad that will result in servo drive units being left on the shelf over the next few decades? Or is this the new direction for motion picture lenses being driven by motors for more precise, convenient operation? With Fujinon, Angenieux, Zeiss, and Canon all jumping in the ring, who will have the best solution for cinematographers looking to bridge the gap between cinema and broadcast style work? Stay tuned!

Source: Matthew Duclos.

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Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking

1.      You are creative. The artist is not a special person, each one of us is a special kind of artist. Every one of us is born a creative, spontaneous thinker. The only difference between people who are creative and people who are not is a simple belief. Creative people believe they are creative. People who believe they are not creative, are not. Once you have a particular identity and set of beliefs about yourself, you become interested in seeking out the skills needed to express your identity and beliefs. This is why people who believe they are creative become creative. If you believe you are not creative, then there is no need to learn how to become creative and you don’t. The reality is that believing you are not creative excuses you from trying or attempting anything new. When someone tells you that they are not creative, you are talking to someone who has no interest and will make no effort to be a creative thinker.

2.      Creative thinking is work. You must have passion and the determination to immerse yourself in the process of creating new and different ideas. Then you must have patience to persevere against all adversity. All creative geniuses work passionately hard and produce incredible numbers of ideas, most of which are bad. In fact, more bad poems were written by the major poets than by minor poets. Thomas Edison created 3000 different ideas for lighting systems before he evaluated them for practicality and profitability. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart produced more than six hundred pieces of music, including forty-one symphonies and some forty-odd operas and masses, during his short creative life. Rembrandt produced around 650 paintings and 2,000 drawings and Picasso executed more than 20,000 works. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. Some were masterpieces, while others were no better than his contemporaries could have written, and some were simply bad.

3.      You must go through the motions of being creative. When you are producing ideas, you are replenishing neurotransmitters linked to genes that are being turned on and off in response to what your brain is doing, which in turn is responding to challenges. When you go through the motions of trying to come up with new ideas, you are energizing your brain by increasing the number of contacts between neurons. The more times you try to get ideas, the more active your brain becomes and the more creative you become. If you want to become an artist and all you did was paint a picture every day, you will become an artist. You may not become another Vincent Van Gogh, but you will become more of an artist than someone who has never tried.

4.      Your brain is not a computer. Your brain is a dynamic system that evolves its patterns of activity rather than computes them like a computer. It thrives on the creative energy of feedback from experiences real or fictional. You can synthesize experience; literally create it in your own imagination. The human brain cannot tell the difference between an “actual” experience and an experience imagined vividly and in detail. This discovery is what enabled Albert Einstein to create his thought experiments with imaginary scenarios that led to his revolutionary ideas about space and time. One day, for example, he imagined falling in love. Then he imagined meeting the woman he fell in love with two weeks after he fell in love. This led to his theory of acausality. The same process of synthesizing experience allowed Walt Disney to bring his fantasies to life.

5.      There is no one right answer. Reality is ambiguous. Aristotle said it is either A or not-A. It cannot be both. The sky is either blue or not blue. This is black and white thinking as the sky is a billion different shades of blue. A beam of light is either a wave or not a wave (A or not-A). Physicists discovered that light can be either a wave or particle depending on the viewpoint of the observer. The only certainty in life is uncertainty. When trying to get ideas,  do not censor or evaluate them as they occur. Nothing kills creativity faster than self-censorship of ideas while generating them. Think of all your ideas as possibilities and generate as many as you can before you decide which ones to select. The world is not black or white. It is grey.

6.      Never stop with your first good idea. Always strive to find a better one and continue until you have one that is still better. In 1862, Phillip Reis demonstrated his invention which could transmit music over the wires. He was days away from improving it into a telephone that could transmit speech. Every communication expert in Germany dissuaded him from making improvements, as  they said the telegraph is good enough. No one would buy or use a telephone. Ten years later, Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. Spencer Silver developed a new adhesive for 3M that stuck to objects but could easily be lifted off. It was first marketed as a bulletin board adhesive so the boards could be moved easily from place to place. There was no market for it. Silver didn’t discard it. One day Arthur Fry, another 3M employee, was singing in the church’s choir when his page marker fell out of his hymnal. Fry coated his page markers with Silver’s adhesive and discovered the markers stayed in place, yet lifted off without damaging the page. Hence the Post-it Notes were born. Thomas Edison was always trying to spring board from one idea to another in his work. He spring boarded his work from the telephone (sounds transmitted) to the phonograph (sounds recorded) and, finally, to motion pictures (images recorded).

7.      Expect the experts to be negative. The more expert and specialized a person becomes,  the more their mindset becomes narrowed and the more fixated they become on confirming what they believe to be absolute. Consequently, when confronted with new and different ideas,  their focus will be on conformity. Does it conform with what I know is right? If not, experts will spend all their time showing and explaining why it can’t be done and why it can’t work. They will not look for ways to make it work or get it done because this might demonstrate that what they regarded as absolute is not absolute at all. This is why when Fred Smith created Federal Express, every delivery expert in the U.S. predicted its certain doom. After all, they said, if this delivery concept was doable, the Post Office or UPS would have done it long ago.

8.      Trust your instincts. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged. Albert Einstein was expelled from school because his attitude had a negative effect on serious students; he failed his university entrance exam and had to attend a trade school for one year before finally being admitted; and was the only one in his graduating class who did not get a teaching position because no professor would recommend him. One professor said Einstein was “the laziest dog” the university ever had. Beethoven’s parents were told he was too stupid to be a music composer. Charles Darwin’s colleagues called him a fool and what he was doing “fool’s experiments” when he worked on his theory of biological evolution. Walt Disney was fired from his first job on a newspaper because “he lacked imagination.” Thomas Edison had only two years of formal schooling, was totally deaf in one ear and was hard of hearing in the other, was fired from his first job as a newsboy and later fired from his job as a telegrapher; and still he became the most famous inventor in the history of the U.S.

9.      There is no such thing as failure. Whenever you try to do something and do not succeed, you do not fail. You have learned something that does not work. Always ask “What have I learned about what doesn’t work?”, “Can this explain something that I didn’t set out to explain?”, and “What have I discovered that I didn’t set out to discover?” Whenever someone tells you that they have never made a  mistake, you are talking to someone who has never tried anything new.

10.   You do not see things as they are; you see them as you are. Interpret your own experiences. All experiences are neutral. They have no meaning. You give them meaning by the way you choose to interpret them. If you are a priest, you see evidence of God everywhere. If you are an atheist, you see the absence of God everywhere. IBM observed that no one in the world had a personal computer. IBM interpreted this to mean there was no market. College dropouts, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, looked at the same absence of personal computers and saw a massive opportunity. Once Thomas Edison was approached by an assistant while working on the filament for the light bulb. The assistant asked Edison why he didn’t give up. “After all,” he said, “you have failed 5000 times.” Edison looked at him and told him that he didn’t understand what the assistant meant by failure, because, Edison said, “I have discovered 5000 things that don’t work.” You construct your own reality by how you choose to interpret your experiences.

11.   Always approach a problem on its own terms. Do not trust your first perspective of a problem as it will be too biased toward your usual way of thinking. Always look at your problem from multiple perspectives. Always remember that genius is finding a perspective no one else has taken. Look for different ways to look at the problem. Write the problem statement several times using different words. Take another role, for example, how would someone else see it, how would Jay Leno, Pablo Picasso, George Patton see it? Draw a picture of the problem, make a model, or mold a sculpture. Take a walk and look for things that metaphorically represent the problem and force connections between those things and the problem (How is a broken store window like my communications problem with my students?) Ask your friends and strangers how they see the problem. Ask a child. How would a ten year old solve it? Ask a grandparent. Imagine you are the problem. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

12.   Learn to think unconventionally. Creative geniuses do not think analytically and logically. Conventional, logical, analytical thinkers are exclusive thinkers which means they exclude all information that is not related to the problem. They look for ways to eliminate possibilities. Creative geniuses are inclusive thinkers which mean they look for ways to include everything, including things that are dissimilar and totally unrelated. Generating associations and connections between unrelated or dissimilar subjects is how they provoke different thinking patterns in their brain.  These new patterns lead to new connections which give them a different way to focus on the information and different ways to interpret what they are focusing on. This is how original and truly novel ideas are created. Albert Einstein once famously remarked “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

And, finally, Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.

Source: The Creativity Post.

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David Edelstein & Producer Lynda Obst | Hollywood’s Blockbuster Problem

A few weeks ago, in a televised symposium, Steven Spielberg predicted the “implosion” of Hollywood as a consequence of blockbuster mania while George Lucas sat next to him, nodding. “You’re at the point right now,” said Spielberg, “where a studio would rather invest $250 million in one film for a real shot at the brass ring than make a whole bunch of really interesting, deeply personal—and even maybe historical—projects that may get lost in the shuffle.”

Most of us heard this and thought, Holy crap. These are not upstarts looking to shake things up. They’re the moguls credited with ushering in the age of the modern blockbuster with Jaws and Star Wars. More recently, Lucas was responsible for the grimly over­inflated Star Wars prequel trilogy while Spielberg co-produced the toy-based “tentpole” Transformers and its sequels. If they’re sounding the horn …

Producer Lynda Obst makes many of the same points in Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales From the New Abnormal in the Movie Business. Underneath her lucid prose you can discern a howl of pain: The book is, in part, a lament for her inability to get her kind of movies into production anymore. Obst isn’t some indie maverick. She once described herself to me as a “company girl.” She’s happy working on a studio lot to develop mainstream films likeSleepless in Seattle, Contact, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, although she has also made darker movies with big stars (The Fisher King, The Siege), and she spent years trying to bring Philip Roth’s American Pastoral to the screen.

Obst recently worked with Spielberg on a project called Interstellar, which ultimately ended up with Christopher Nolan at the helm. (She’s co-producing with Nolan and Emma Thomas.) So I turned to her for some perspective on what the hell is going on.

David Edelstein: What do you make of what Spielberg said? And why is Hollywood in a death spiral, if that is what it is?

Lynda Obst: I think no one is smarter than Steven about the business. Not only did he make a blockbuster in his twenties, he has also run a studio, DreamWorks SKG, so he has seen it from both sides. What he said is true. But it wasn’t that the business is in a death spiral, exactly; 2012 was the highest-grossing year in ages, while 2011 was terrible. But if, say, four huge tentpoles were to go down at the same time in the same season, it would be catastrophic. It would be the ultimate challenge to the model that emerged in what I call the New Abnormal. The seeds of this model’s destruction are in place. There are fixed costs for these kinds of movies that are immense. And all formulas will only work for a while. How many times can you see the same cities destroyed? How many ways are there to destroy them?

D.E.: I don’t have knee-jerk dislike for $250 million pictures: I enjoyed Iron Man 3 and Fast & Furious 6 on their own dumb, machine-tooled terms. But it’s terrible if sequels, remakes, and “reboots” use up all of a studio’s resources—if they come at the expense of other kinds of movies. The obvious question is: Why is this happening now? Would you pin the blame on Hollywood’s increasing dependence on the foreign market—what I called, in my Man of Steelreview, “truth, justice, and the Chinese way”?

L.O.: Yes, indeed. China is the No. 2 market now. In 2020, it will be No. 1. That’s why movies must all be sequel-ized or sequel-izable. So that they become more and more familiar to the international audience, where 80 percent of the profits are now coming from. We can’t afford to spend the same kind of money marketing movies internationally that we spend here, so we need pre-awareness: titles and characters that are already known. International audiences love action, wild and exciting special effects that can only be created by our technology. No nuance. Not so good for so-called writing. And China won’t look at anything that isn’t 3-D, which means everything is made that way—even with domestic audiences rejecting it.

D.E.: This raises so many questions. Not long ago, Hollywood made 80 percent of its profits domestically and 20 percent internationally. Now it’s the exact opposite. Why this violent shift?

L.O.: The percentages changed with globalization. It began with Russia and China building an enormous number of theaters as their countries opened up economically. And product like Titanic and Avatar was so enticing to them that it galvanized the rest of the world, even countries like South Korea and India that have their own indigenous movie industries. We were giving them stuff with the kind of bells and whistles that no one had ever seen before. The U.S. population is only 5 percent of the world—and suddenly we knew it. For the movie business, the foreign market came just in the nick of time, because in 2008, the DVD market that had been such a cushion collapsed.

D.E.: In the publishing industry, best sellers by people like Dan Brown generate profits that are cycled back into the company to pay for smaller books that will never have the same kind of upside. Why isn’t that the case in Hollywood?

L.O.: It was the case when we had that DVD cushion—big hits paid for smaller movies. But now that big hits cost so much, big hits pay for more would-be big hits. And everything else lies dormant.

D.E.: I guess that’s why you’ve moved into television.

L.O.: I started doing television, too, so I could keep making up original ideas and do drama. Writing and writers are critical to success in TV. Also, I needed to do something to pass the time between features, or I’d lose my mind.

D.E.: In your book, you talk a lot about how hard it is—harder than ever, and it was never easy—to make female-centric movies. Why are studios so nervous about the female audience?

L.O.: The big mystery. All I know is this: The movie marketers believe that women go to guys’ movies if they’re good, but guys won’t go to women’s movies ever. I’ve proved that wrong—as have many others—but they deeply believe that. And every time a women’s movie works, they attribute it to the star, not the audience, even if the star has never opened a movie before. Also: Chick flicks don’t tend to be sequel-izable. That’s the best I can do. It’s Chinatown, Jake.

D.E.: Would Chinatown even get made by a studio today?

L.O.: Don’t make me answer that.

Source: Vulture

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