Friday, March 30, 2012

Why I Chose DCP

In preparing "NYZ" for premiering at NYU's First Run Festival last week, they specified that there were only three deliverable formats acceptable: HDCam tape, Digibeta tape, or DCP, which stands for Digital Cinema Package.  Looking at these three formats, I decided to go with DCP.

Let's break down what each format brings to the table:

Digibeta, or Digital Betacam, is a great format with great uncompressed color and sound, but it comes with a few limitations.  First of all, it's standard definition (SD), so the maximum amount of pixels is 720x480 with an anamorphic squeeze.  And since First Run did not want anamorphic squeezes, that meant that my film, which is at a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, would simply be letterboxed into a 4:3 screen--obviously not the most aesthetically pleasing or economical use of space.

Then there's HDCam, which is high definition (HD) with up to 1440x1080 upscaled to 1920x1080.  That's great because 1080p was the native format that we shot in, so I know I won't be wasting pixels.  The only big caveat for HDCam, as well as Digibeta, is that it only allows for up to four channels of audio.  Since I mixed in 5.1 surround sond, that would mean mixing everything down to 4.0 at best, though most likely just 3.0--dialogue in the center, and everything else on the left and right stereo. All the work that I put into crafting a 5.1 surround mix would be wasted.

Which brings us to DCP.  DCPs are the new standard for delivering films to movie theaters in this modern digital age.  There are no reels, no tapes, just a server where all the media is stored and read as it's projected.  It can project up to 4k files and supports up to 7.1 surround sound.  And it plays back at true 24 frames per second.  So, for this film, it supported everything I needed.

Now the only problem was actually creating the DCP...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 781
(Technically: 930)

It all comes down to this: after nine-hundred and twenty-nine days, "NYZ" finally hits the big screen at NYU's First Run Film Festival.

I was very pleased with the reception. It got plenty of laughs (even on the first shot!) and it looked and sounded great on the big screen with 5.1 surround sound.

Some of the cast and crew were in attendance, and I'm glad to say that they got to finally see their hard work up on the big screen with a receptive audience.

What's next? Now begins the festival submissions. First up is Telluride, which has a deadline just around the corner. And then, after that, the first real wave of submissions will start in August with Sundance, Slamdance, Edinburgh, and many more. I will keep you posted about these, too in the future.

I am very grateful to everyone who came out in support of "NYZ"and I hope for those of you who could not make it, we hope to bring it to a film festival near you!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 780
(Technically: 927)

Congratulations to Alexandra Naides for short film "Knee High" screening at First Run Film Festival last night.  I was the co-editor and sound designer, as well as clapper/loader and DIT on set.

I've noticed this year, though, that there are no audience ballots for audience awards. Perhaps they just didn't want to bother counting them.   I'm really disappointed with the festival this year in comparison to last year's.  This year there aren't even programs! Imagine that! I asked about this and they just replied, "Oh, the Xerox machine broke." You do realize there's a Kinko's right down the street, right? Very frustrating because I want to be able to know what films are coming up in the screening.  Even the projector wasn't working this morning and cut off the first few minutes of Andrew Cannizarro's "A Girl and Her Guardian," which meant skipping most of the animation that I worked on.  Andrew had to run back and make them start over from the beginning.

Anyway, that's beside the point. This afternoon is the world premiere of "NYZ."  I've spent the past few weeks testing it at the theatre, so any bugs or glitches I've been able to iron out in advance.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 779
(Technically: 926)

First Run kicked off last night with two blocks of films, including fellow classmate from Yemane's Advanced Production Workshop, Ginny Mohler and her short film "THE ADVENTURES OF GORDON & GRACE."   It's almost hard to believe that's it been two years since we shot our projects. Now they're finally ready to screen!

Tonight at 8:30pm, be sure to watch for "Lifted" by Zachary Goldberg, and, especially, "Knee High" by Alexandra Naides!

Tomorrow, we have another Yemane alum, Andrew Cannizzaro, and his film "A Girl and Her Guardian" at 12:30pm, which features animation by both myself and Eric Pato.  And don't forget: "NYZ" tomorrow at 4:30pm!

In other zombies news...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 763

(Technically: 910)

I'm feeling a bit run-down today. All of this running around and staying up till 1AM every night for the last week or so working on finishing up "NYZ."

For First Run, they accept either HDCam tape or Digital Cinema Package (DCP), which I've decided to use for one reason and one reason only: sound.

HDCam tapes can only hold up to 4 channels of audio, and DCPs can hold up to 6 channels, which would be best for the 5.1 surround mix I've prepared. I will be going to the theater to meet with the projectionist again to make one final stab at the DCP.

I downloaded a program that allows Macs to read and write Linux drives, but upon further investigation, discovered that most people didn't have much success with anything outside of directly using Linux, which I've been submerged in the past few nights learning how to use.

If it doesn't work, then I must use the inferior HDCam tape.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Day 761 [cont'd]

(Technically: 908)

No sooner I've exported the LCRLsRsLFE 5.1 sound mix than I find myself running into Andrew Cannizzaro, who was also in Yemane's Advanced Production class with myself, Tristan and Chris. He had just finished outputting to HDCam tape his 20 minute opus, "A Girl and Her Guardian," which myself and Eric did animation for.

I am excited to see it in its full form, having only seen bits and pieces over the past month as I worked with After Effects to animate a few shots in the storybook opening sequence. You should check out his website at Here is the trailer below:

Day 761

(Technically: 908)

Yesterday I was at Tisch working on the final sound 5.1 mix for "NYZ" when I ran into Chris Hoffman, Tristan Nash (fellow students), and our professor Yemane. It was great to see them again and catch up, and they even came up to listen to the mix and give me some feedback (though not literal feedback, because that would be detrimental to the mix). I am pleased to say that their reactions were very, very positive.

Currently, I am bouncing out the 5.1 files and gearing up for the deadline this Thursday to turn in all the materials for the First Run Film Festival, where "NYZ" will have its world premiere on Saturday March 24th at 4:30pm.

Also, Tristan's film from our class, "No Wing High," will be screening at First Run as well. as well as a few other of my fellow classmates.