Amulet Films Blog

Jan 31  

RIP Frank Finlay

Sunday 31st January, 2016

 Photo © Zoe Norfolk

God bless and thanks for your faith in our little film.

Apr 17  

NAB 2015

Friday 17th April, 2015

nab2015NAB wound itself up yesterday and as the world’s largest electronic media show, saw just short of 100,000 attendees migrate to Las Vegas over 6 days to explore all aspects of filmed entertainment. From the development, management and delivery of digital content across all platforms, NAB is a big show. Spread over 1,000,000 square feet of exhibition space, it is the place to watch as far as the newest developments in camera and related technology announcements are made.

Avid_logo_purple

This year saw Avid announce ‘Media Composer | First’ a free version of its professional non-linear editing software. Due for release later this year, follow the link above and you can sign up to be notified once it’s available. More details can be found here.

Over the past four years Blackmagic Design have been using NAB as their launch pad as they push new camera technology and this year is no exception. 2012 brought the 2.5k RAW Cinema Camera, 2013 introduced the Pocket Camera and the 4k Production Camera. Last year saw the introduction of the 4k upgradable URSA and this year sees Blackmagic Design introduce 38 different products into the market including three new cameras.

Camera 1

ursa_mini

Most significant is the new URSA Mini, which is (as you might guess) a compact answer to the beast that is the URSA (Major). The mini comes in four flavours, EF or PL lens mounts and 4k or 4.6k sensors. Price as always with Blackmagic is highly competitive with the 4k EF retailing at $2,995. 15 stops of dynamic range, compact size and price point make this a tempting a new camera for the single shooter.

ursa_mini2

The camera will shoot at 60 fps at 4.6k resolution and up to 160 fps at 1080 HD. As usual, Blackmagic include a full copy of DaVinci Resolve colour grading and editing software in the package too.

Cameras 2 & 3

micro_cams

Alongside the URSA Mini comes the Micro Studio 4K Camera and the Micro Cinema Camera. The former is intended as an ultra HD live studio camera in a tiny package and remotely controllable. The latter competes with the likes of the GoPro Hero, mountable, wearable, anywhere camera for those incredible action shots. Basically 4k or 1080 HD models. Both micro four thirds lens mounts, compatible with standard Canon LP-E6 batteries and priced $1,295 and $995 respectively.

Tasty!

Jan 13  

BAFTA’s 2014

Tuesday 13th January, 2015

kajaki

The nominations for this year’s BAFTA’s were announced last week and I was delighted to see that one of my favourite films of the year has been recognised. Most of the noise this year has been about the obvious ‘contenders’ – Boyhood, The Theory of Everything, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman. All good films in their own way but I like to look out for the small independent. The film that has to muscle its way into a crowded market and compete, not on the terms of the distributor and their financial muscle but by simply being a ‘good film’.

Kajaki: The True Story does just that. In fact it’s a remarkable film about a remarkable set of events in Afghanistan in 2006. Although the film didn’t quite make it into the ‘Outstanding British Film’ category (which it would have richly deserved), it has picked up a nomination for ‘Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer’.

Kajaki Dam 2006. A company of young British soldiers encounter an unexpected, terrifying enemy. A dried-out river bed, and under every step the possibility of an anti-personnel mine. A mine that could cost you your leg – or your life.

The film was released in November last year so may be difficult to find in your local cinema. There are some screenings this month but otherwise put in a request at your local Cineworld and they may just screen it. The film supports a number of charities including Help for Heroes, Walking With The Wounded and The Royal British Legion.

Go see it, it’s important.

Dec 24  

A Very Merry Christmas

Wednesday 24th December, 2014

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

node-tree

And as always, don’t forget to keep an eye on the progress of “Big Red One” as he travels the world within his own space-time continuum, delivering presents. As I type, just over 1.7 billion gifts delivered and speeding over Russia and Asia faster than starlight.

Norad Santa Tracker

Have a great Christmas and prosperous 2015.

Nov 14  

Free VFX With Fusion 7

Friday 14th November, 2014

node-tree

Blackmagic Designs are really turning the filmmaking world on its head. Firstly, back in 2012 they unleashed the 2.5k RAW Cinema Camera and bundled it with DaVinci Resolve. What got people very excited was that all this came at a remarkable $3,000. In 2013 they they introduced The Pocket Camera, a RAW shooting Super-16 sensor camera, priced at under $1,000. Earlier this year they ‘went and done it again’ with the introduction of the URSA, the world’s first upgradable 4k digital camera, at a temptingly remarkable price of $6,000.

Whatever next…?

Well, in September the company got the filmmaking world all a buzzin’ when they bought Canadian company Eyeon Software. Eyeon are a leading developer of high end digital compositing, visual effects and motion graphics software for the film and television industry. Their flagship software Fusion is one of Hollywood’s VFX compositing and motion graphics tool of choice. The software’s list of credits includes, Gravity, The Hunger Games, Avatar, Happy Feet and Game of Thrones. Eyeon are now a wholly owned subsidiary of Blackmagic Design.

So where does all this lead…?

Well, Fusion 7 originally retailed at around $2,500 but under the Blackmagic banner it is now… FREE!

Yes, Free.

To be completely clear the software comes in two flavours, Fusion 7 and Fusion 7 Studio.

Ah, I hear you cry I see where this is heading, give away the free ‘lite’ version then tempt everyone into the more comprehensive (and expensive) ‘professional’ version.

Erm, No!

The free version is just as feature rich as the paid for version, the main difference being that the ‘Studio’ badged edition simply offers all the networking facilities that would favour a VFX house, their render farms and multi personnel workflow (plus stereoscopic toolsets). But even so, even if you felt compelled to buy the Studio version, it would set you back a mere £635 quid! No sky-high fee, no monthly subscription, that’s it! Blimey!

3d-compositing-01

There’s just about as much VFX power under the hood as you would want, although it comes with a steep learning curve. But, as the filmmaking world digests this, the list of online tutorials and training resources will no doubt now explode.

features

Fusion 7 offers 3D compositing, advanced keying and mattes, tracking, a powerful particle system, animation, titling, lighting and shadows and you can even build objects and scene elements directly within the software itself.

More tools than you can shake a virtual stick at!

There’s much on offer and you can see for yourself just what is on offer by checking out the links below.

Fusion 7
Fusion 7 & Fusion 7 Studio Comparison
Fusion 7 Credits

Photos from Blackmagic Design.

Jul 31  

2014 BFI Statistical Yearbook

Thursday 31st July, 2014

2014_statbookI always like to sneak in a quick rundown of the BFI’s Statistical Yearbook 2014 before the end of July (published last week). So with a cup of tea and a chocolate Hob Nob (actually a half coated Choc Chunk Cookie from Aldi #BestBiscuitInTheWorld) time for a little light reading.

The big news this year is just how strong the UK’s contribution is to the global film industry. With box office receipts at over £1 billion, film production spending also over £1 billion and an 11% share ($4.1 billion) of the global theatrical market – the UK remains comfortably the third largest film market in the world.

Video on Demand services continue to grow with Netflix as the fastest growing provider. Helped, I’m sure, by their own production of  House of Cards (if you haven’t seen it, watch it, it’s quite brilliant). Overall this market is growing quickly and (since 2012) generates more revenue than TV based income (£193m against £130m). In all, the VoD market is up 37% on last year and 400% since 2002.

The growing success of VoD means that television continues to be the place people prefer to watch their films. An audience of 3.4 billion is 20 times the number of cinema admissions (165.5m).

Finally, the usual roundup of fun facts:-

  • Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson & Rupert Grint remain firmly at the top as the UK’s top grossing actors ($7.69b between them)
  • David Yates remains comfortably top of the shop as the UK’s highest grossing director, again thanks to the Harry Potter franchise (£4.16b)
  • Animation debuts as the nations favourite genre at the cinema, nudging ahead of Action and Comedy. Despicable Me 2 being the top performer.
  • 698 – Total number of films released in the UK in 2013
  • 139 – Total number of UK films released in 2013
  • 3,867 – The total number of cinema screens in the UK, up from 3,817 in 2012
  • 3,836 – The total number of digital screens in the UK, accounting for around 98% of all screens available
  • £1,153.70 million – The UK’s box office in 2013 (equal to 165.5 million admissions). Slightly down from last year
  • $4.1 billion – The UK’s share of the global box office in 2013
  • $35.7 billion – The total value of the global box office in 2013
  • Skyfall – Keeps its place as the highest grossing film at the UK box office (£102.8m). Avatar sits comfortably in second place
  • Titanic – The highest grossing film at the UK box office when adjusted for inflation (£107.4m)
  • The King’s Speech – The all time highest grossing independent film at the UK box office (£45.7m)
Jul 30  

Nomad USB Charger(s) Review

Wednesday 30th July, 2014

nomad_usb

We occasionally get stuff sent to us to review and I usually only like to do those which have a direct bearing on what we do or how we go about our business. The two USB chargers I was sent last month fit into this category, especially as our dependence on mobile devices increases. Before the advent of the ‘smartphone’ my mobile would keep its charge for the best part of a week! [Remember those days?] As battery technology continues to improve perhaps we’ll see those days again. However, as mobile phones continue to get more sophisticated it seems more like an arms race between the phone and battery manufacturers, with the batteries struggling to hold their line!

My own phone is no exception and I have to carry around portable chargers just to get through the day. Also, in our office we have Nexus 10’s, an iPad, Kindle Paperwhites, Kindle Fires, a laptop and a netbook. Not all of these get carted around in one go but they all have their use on any given project and keeping them juiced up when out and about can be a challenge (except for the paperwhites, which last forever). Also, I don’t always have those portable chargers on hand (or remember to top them up overnight) and even they run out of power.

Last month I was sent two USB chargers to review, the Nomad Chargecard and the Nomad Chargekey.

chargecard2

The Chargecard is a credit card sized USB charger. It fits neatly in your wallet and you can pretty much forget about it. In fact at first I did, only later realising I had a simple charging facility in my back pocket! Doh!

chargekey5

The Chargekey is effectively the same thing except this one attaches to your keyring.

Both devices are available for Android and Apple devices. Being a devotee of the light side of the force (!) mine have a USB plug one end and a micro USB plug the other. For those seduced by the dark side, lightening cable editions are available for Apple devices.

The idea being that you can snatch a charge from any handy USB port you find yourself nearby. Mainly (for me) this is usually my laptop. It is also useful as a USB 2.0 data transfer cable too.

Design wise they’re very well made. My favourite of the two is the Chargekey, I find this one a little more handy. It has lived happily on my keyring for the past six weeks, has travelled abroad with me and is very robust. Main thing is though, it’s always there.

The Chargecard is just as hardy. Made from a very hardy plastic, the main USB plug snaps out of the centre of the card and twists into that nearby USB socket. At first you feel a little afraid, “I’m going to break this” but soon learn it is a very durable device.

So that’s it. Simple, handy, compact. Check them out on Amazon for around £16 each.

Also have a look at the developers other products at their website, in particular the NomadClip – all of the above but in a carabiner instead.

Jul 1  

DJI Ronin Shipping

Tuesday 1st July, 2014

DJI Innovations announced their own handheld stabilised system at NAB earlier this year. The DJI Ronin is very affordable, available now to pre-order from B&H for $4,499 (approx. £2,800) and shipping starts this month, just as promised. The rig will support up to 16lb of camera weight and that, combined with the price above, makes this a very interesting option!

There isn’t much out there yet on just what images using this system look like but here are two from DJI Innovations themselves. The first is a short film called, “Brainstorm”, which transfers the gimbal between multiply camera platforms for a seamless ‘one take’ shot.

Brainstorm

And here’s the ‘behind the scenes’ film to demonstrate just how they assembled this shot.

Brainstorm – Behind The Scenes

Once people get their hands on this system then I’m sure well see a vast array of videos online, as people dream up all kinds of situations to push this system to its limits. Just as they did when the M?VI appeared.

More information at the company’s website here.

The official brochure here.

Yes, I want one too… Smile

May 22  

Something For The Star Wars Fans

Thursday 22nd May, 2014

Hot from the set of the new Star Wars: Episode VII movie, here’s JJ Abrams in Abu Dhabi where the movie started shooting this month.

This message was recorded to announce a brand new initiative, Star Wars: Force for Change, which is dedicated to finding creative solutions to the world’s biggest problems. The first campaign will raise funds for the United Nations Children’s Fund’s Innovation Labs and by pledging you win a chance to appear in the movie itself.

JJ Abrams–Star Wars: Episode VII
Apr 17  

DJI Ronin @ NAB 2014

Thursday 17th April, 2014

Talking of highlights from NAB, at last year’s show the MoVI made its debut. Vincent LaForet considered this gyro stabilised hand held rig “a game changer”. Following its unveiling a plethora of quite remarkable films hit the internet, not least the one from Vincent himself which demonstrated just how incredible and versatile the rig was. Not surprising then that other manufactures have now started to produce their own versions and one in particular looks very interesting.

DJI Ronin

The DJI Ronin comes from DJI Innovations a company already a global leader of unmanned aerial photography and videography systems. They’ve taken their gimbal stabilisation system and experience and adapted it into a new handheld device. They’ve taken the MoVI concept and introduced their own innovations at an even more competitive price. What seems to set the Ronin aside is that at a price of around $5,000 this gimbal will support a weight of up to 16lbs right up to your Red Epic. The MoVI M10 by comparison will support up to 10lbs but comes in at a price of $15,000. Having said that, the MoVI has more than proved itself, just how good the Ronin is in practice remains to be seen but it is jolly tempting! The rig is expected to be released sometime this quarter and no doubt there will be much video of just what it can do and in operation.

DJI Innovations are billing a very simple 5 minute set-up and balance using automated configuration. The gimbal will automatically adjust and fine tune each axis, based on the weight of the camera rig attached. The Ronin can be used low slung or flipped over to offer eye level mode, plus single operator ‘SmoothTrack’ control or duel  operator courtesy of the supplied transmitter for remote pan and tilt.

Can’t wait to see this gimbal in action, can’t wait to get my hands on one!

Have a look at Engadget’s video of the Ronin at this years NAB Show.

DJI Ronin @ NAB 2014

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About

Amulet Films is an independent, award winning, British film company, founded by Simon Corris and Alison Reddihough. This blog is a companion to our website, that we hope will grow with us as we continue our journey within the film industry. Official Website

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