Where there’s Smoke there’s Fire ….

At last, a few prominent creatives are finally getting the message about the long term implications of online piracy and freeloading. And speaking out. Here’s producer Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy) with an incendiary wake up call.

http://variety.com/2014/tv/columns/kurt-sutters-open-letter-to-creative-community-1201275130/

Unfortunately as the wildly hysterical comments following this article indicate, the rot of which Sutter speaks is very advanced. The vitriol expended on a man for saying basically that artists deserve to be paid …
what a disgusting age we are living in.

I am discouraged by such wilful blindness and selfish negativity, but I will never resile from confronting such stupidity and naming it for what it is. Greed and avarice, masking itself in a cloak of freedom.

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Politicians and NZ Film and Television

A little history lesson …

I don’t want to get into a boring political argument … but … but … please don’t try to seriously tell me that Labour is better for TV and Film than National.

I don’t believe it, and … I’m not even a National Party supporter!

This is not a party political rant. NZ political parties? I think they’re ALL a bit of waste of space when it comes to the arts generally, and film & TV particularly. Read on for a completely balanced appraisal.

Labour – ah those connotations of good old cloth capped working class brotherhood; and that pleasant wet liberal misty eyed fondness for the arts. Who could ever forget that poll of politicians conducted by the NZ Listener way back in 1981, asking MPs to name their favourite movie? most said they had no time to watch movies. One (National) stalwart nominated The Towering Inferno. Egg. A young Helen Clark stuck out like a hammered testicle when she named Luis Bunuel’s Viridiana.

Then and there I bought into Labour as the great hope for Kiwi culture.

Well, it’s been decades of disappointment since.

IN the cold light of day, Labour’s record looks distinctly shaky.

Just when NZ TV had reached a breakthrough accommodation with local indy film makers, who shook up the whole system in 1975 and created a monolithic local TV culture that has practiced cultural apartheid ever since?
Labour (1975 – thank you Roger Douglas – you gave us a choice of channels and colour, but you set up a lack of diversity and cultural colour, a Stepford Wives TV culture that has persisted ever since).

Then, who shook up TV again and ushered in the era of poisonously lowest common denominator programming. 1988. That was Labour too.

Who created the Broadcasting Commission (soon to be rebranded NZ On Air), and then made sure that uncounted millions in taxpayer funding would forever more be controlled by the needs and whims of a handful of commercial broadcasters? Oh dear – Labour again. The then Minister of Broadcasting (and Wine and Cheese) Jonathon (Taxi Chit) Hunt was told (by me, amongst others) that he was laying the ground for a flawed and contradictory system that would foster decades of mediocrity.

Doesn’t make me anything but sick to my stomach to be proven right.

Meantime. Who created the NZ Film Commission? National*

Who divested TVNZ of the golden eggs which became today’s Platinum Fund? National. See more on this below.

Who prevented a splinter labour union from Australia dictating terms of engagement for NZ actors and technicians? Wooo … yeah. contentious one this. But hey, before the pitchforks and flaming torches come out, let me say, believe me, I’m no union basher. Belonged to a couple myself. Still do, in fact, as a paid up member of Directors Guild. But in a country this small, the exclusionist model of collective bargaining is much worse than the alternative – a contract based system where freelancers tender for work in an open and competitive labour market. Hey, I’d love to carry a union ticket that protected my job and kept out eveyone else, but I can’t do that. Firstly, because it’s bollocks, and secondly, because I have a conscience.

Anyway, yeah … that was National. For which they and Peter Jackson got assholed by a whole lot of know-nothings with absolutely no skin in the game. Last I looked, anyone working for Jackson and Warner Brothers wasn’t exactly being exploited. Know any different? My mind is open.

And who STILL wants to push the wind back the other way – against the wishes of, oh, roughly 99% of freelance film contractors – that’d be Labour.

Oh yes, Labour, whose broadcasting policy, incredibly, appears to be … Public Broadcasting. That’s right, the same centrist, monolithic, Reithian model they pissed and crapped on back in 1988?

Maybe current Labour MPs are just too young to remember that?

They seriously are STILL whacking off to thoughts of a commercial free TV channel? Lovely idea … 40 years ago. Now, someone ought to explain just how SERIOUSLY DISRUPTED terrestrial free to air TV services are about to get. The last thing Kiwi taxpayers need now is to be buying ruinously expensive real estate in that particular hood.

Streaming is happening folks. Hello? If you want NZ identity and culture on screens, better forget about paying TVNZ and TV3 to grudgingly give up slivers of their prime time to host it. Their prime time isn’t going to be worth shit in a few years. It’s time to invest in quality content, and then place it on streaming sites that demonstrate respect and commitment to promoting it.

NZ politicians have a long and consistent history of screwing with the arts, fixing things that aren’t broken, breaking things that should be fixed, and shamelessly grabbing every glorious coat-tail they can reach. I remember a scrum of heavy set besuited tossers at a parliamentary screening, stuffing their faces with canapes,and jocularly dismissing a speech given by Peter Jackson. They had no concept of what this guy could do. Not a clue. Six months later he was making a 35,000,000 film in Wellington, and four years after that he was starting Lord of The Rings.

It’s a big mistake to try and pick goodies and baddies along political lines. As far as I have seen over 35 plus years, they’re all various shades of insincere, mealy mouthed ,or plain incompetent; and often the worst have been those who haven’t got the excuse of crass ignorance to explain their actions or lack of. Namely successive weak and pathetic Labour ministers of Broadcasting.

For instance, does anyone remember the TVNZ Charter? Canada, UK, Australia all had local content quotas. And still do. We had a virulently commercial state owned network – a gigantic living oxymoron – that hugely resented any requirement placed on it to temper its commercial ends with some cultural humanity. The Labour Government of the day could have eased up on its demands for a commercial dividend, They could have legislated for a local content quota. And they could have removed the ridiculous clause in NZ On Air’s operating legislation which gives broadcasters the whip hand in dictating content choices. But they didn’t.

Against that, contrast the decisive and immediately effective termination of TVNZ’s entitlement to 15 million in annual taxpayer funding by the incoming National Government. Money that TVNZ cynically applied to its own commercial ends, rather than funding programming as it was intended. This money was then allocated to NZ On Air as contestable funding available to all free to air networks. It became the Platinum Fund, which has been an engine for high quality local content on air ever since.

This alone indicates at least a tiny breath of fresh air in the thinking of National MPs. Sadly, no signs of anything equivalent has been detected on the other side of the house.

And those ‘incentives’? This most recent indication of decisive and positive thinking on the government benches? I do harbour mixed feelings about the cultural subtext. Clearly, National are betting on more and bigger Hollywood extravaganzas shooting here. Which does not much for local creatives, except via roundabout trickle down means; but where there’s life, then work and culture can happen. I am old enough to remember a time when hardly any films were made here at all. I don’t kid myself that we could not slip back to such times very easily.

As for ACT, NZ First, United Future, Maori, Mana, and (ugh) Internet Parties??? These are truly the blasted wastelands. Don’t bother going there if you want to hear a lick of sense regarding Film & TV.

*Find and read the speech given by then Minister of the Arts Alan Highet. Inspiring stuff. “New Zealand needs its own voices, its own language, its own heroes …”

Indeed. We still do. A powerful call to arms. It sounds like the Gettysberg address in hindsight. Noble, and high minded, but oh so distant …

The problem is that since then (1978ish) the world has changed. Monetarist reform and crypto fascist liberal capitalism have not only changed money markets, They have changed the way we think and value … everything.

Nowadays, the height of media comment on film usually involves a summary of box office figures. That is truly cause for sadness.

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Some facts about copyright

Check out this blog:

http://copyright.nova.edu/copyright-does-not-stifle-innovation-creativity/

The writer is measured and polite, but no less devastating in popping the enormous balloons of fetid hot air generated by internet Freetardists.

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Principles for an ethical and sustainable internet

The internet is just a tool. And it is far more robust than technological utopians say it is. We should never be slaves to a tool, or allow our best interests to be ruled by a few monopolistic gatekeepers who deliberately confuse their own narrow interests with hard won basic human rights and democratic freedoms. The internet cannot be broken, or even meaningfully impaired by regulation to control runaway copyright infringement. Effective means of regulating content online already exist. How do we know this? Has anyone ever found hardcore porn on Google’s YouTube? No. They can keep it off. They do keep it off. And the internet hasn’t broken.

Creativity flourished before YouTube. Music artists, writers, and many film makers could make at least a modest living. Now they can’t. The only thing that’s getting broken now is the principle that the products of person’s ingenuity and labour are their own, to dispose of as they see fit.

That is a pretty basic human right to break. There’s no moral or ethical excuse for it. Yes, things change, and technology moves on. New ways of doing things disrupt and supplant old ways. I get it. But where is the sustainable economy in using the internet purely to consume, without rewarding the creators of the products that are consumed? It’s a grim slide to a social precipice.

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Shooting Slow Motion on Sony PMW200 camera

I don’t usually shoot slow motion. Way too trendy for me, ha ha; but occasionally it seems like a useful choice.

I haven’t been using my Sony PMW200 camera long, and haven’t explored all its features thoroughly. It has been touted as capable of shooting slow and quick motion. So, is it any good?

The short answer is, yes … sort of … maybe. If you can work with the limitations.

Pros: It works.

Cons: The range of available slow motion is extremely limited – as others have pointed out. You can’t shoot in 1080 format – has to be 720. You have to use UDF format on Sony’s SxS cards. Won’t work on SD Card adapters. And the available frame rate is limited to 1-60. In other words, maximum overcranking is twice normal speed.

That’s enough to get a pleasing floaty effect. There are examples posted by others on the web. It looks good – much better than speed changing standard footage within your NLE. But if want to shoot ‘bullet time’, look elsewhere!

So, I have been shooting everything in 1920×1080, 23.97p.

Here is my suggested workflow for using a PMW200 camera to get basic slow motion shots into your project. Bear in mind that you can also do this with PAL 25P projects, but you need to change the camera format etc accordingly. The recipe below is for a project using ProRes1920×1080, 23.97p, editing with Final Cut Pro 7.

CAMERA SETTINGS

 

1. Select UDF for card setting (Can only use SxS cards)

 

2.  in OTHERS menu, select NTSC Area, and choose HD422 50/720/23.98P

 

3. CAMERA SET menu, select S&Q Motion, set frame rate to 60 (or anywhere between 30-60 for slowed motion, 1-30 for quick to normal), and switch setting ON. Beware … it switches itself OFF when camera is powered down.

 

COMPUTER

 

1. transfer footage from card to computer as normal, using SONY CONTENT BROWSER

 

(select preferences to change destination of media, then highlight clips for transfer and select Import to FCP in Clip menu.

 

2. Create Project in FCP Pro Res 1280×720, 24P

 

3. Import clips you created in Step 1 above into FCP. Then Export to Quicktime to create ProRes 1920×1080 24P file.

4. Import these converted files into a ProRes 1920 x 1080 24p project (essentially this is your master project) and edit freely.

 

I THINK!!!!  I take no responsibility for wrong turns and dead ends. This works for me.

Good luck.

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A New Model Dark Age

“… all this gibberish about “break old media models and follow new ones” can be very misleading. In the moment, the promise sounds emancipating and possibly even lucrative for creators and entrepreneurs, but over time … we find out we’ve made a deal with the devil”

http://illusionofmore.com/youtube-indies/

UFNlearnbeserfcartoon

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Steve Jobs on copyright and piracy

“From the earliest days at Apple, I realised that we thrived when we created intellectual property. If people copied or stole our software we’d be out of business. If it weren’t protected there’d be no incentive for us to make new software or product designs. If protection of intellectual property begins to dissipate creative companies will disappear or never get started. But there’s a simpler reason. It’s wrong to steal. It hurts other people. And it hurts your own character.”

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