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This Minute at Runco

Game-Changing Live Action Cinematography

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Those of you who are following this blog or Runco’s Facebook page, know that we have asked for recommendations of what I should watch on the new QuantumColor Q-750d projector going into my new home theater.  Our own cinema expert, Jeremy Sternhagen, told me today that his recommendation from my list was definitely Sam Mendes’ latest installment to the James Bond series, SkyFall.  “It’s the best looking of the three,” he said and then added jabbingly, “Plus, cartoons don’t count.”  Of course, Cars and Avatar are mostly computer generated animation (CGI) without the use of traditional cameras. 

I asked Jeremy why he preferred Skyfall, beyond the fact that it was live action, and his response was insightful, as always.  “This movie was shot digitally with the Arri Alexa camera.  Anything I have seen shot with that camera is stunning on BluRay.  In fact, this was the first movie I ever saw that wasn’t shot with 70mm film that I thought could give 70mm a run for its money.” 

He went onto explain that Roger Deakins, who was the cinematographer on Skyfall, is a huge and vocal fan about the Alexa camera.  In a November 2011 article, he told the American Society of Cinematographers that “the Alexa is a game-changer.  This moment has been coming for a long time, really, but with the Alexa I believe digital has finally surpassed film in terms of quality. What is quality? It’s really in the eye of the viewer, but to me, the Alexa’s tonal range, color space and latitude exceed the capabilities of film. This is not to say that I don’t still love film — I do. I love its texture and grain, but in terms of speed, resolution and clarity of image, there is no question in my mind that the Alexa produces a better image. There is a beautiful roll-off between highlights and shadows [on the Alexa] that I haven’t seen before. There’s a subtlety in color rendition that is fantastic. I tested it in candlelight, and it was beautiful how the camera picked up variations in skin tones and texture. If you shot that same scene with film, you’d get a very monochromatic feel — just a color wash — but the Alexa can read subtleties that film cannot.”

Deakens has 10 Academy Award nominations, including this past year, but not a single win.  “A cinematic crime in my opinion,” Jeremy asserted.  This year’s winner was the Life of PI which was beautiful, but heavily used digital effects, which are difficult to accurately compared with live action.

 

So, I asked Jeremy what other movies, shot on an Alexa, are worthy of screening in a Runco theater?  “There are too many to list, but The Avengers and Hugo are a few that are demo worthy.” We’ll definitely add these our list, especially since some of these are among my children’s favorites.  To see other movies shot with the Arri Alexa, see the filmography.

 

What other movies would you recommend us watching on opening night (or shortly there after)?  Leave your comments and ideas on Runco’s Facebook page.

Final Thumbs Up

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Photo by Getty Images

The funeral was attended by family, friends, and fans.  The blogosphere and Twitterscape is still aglow with fond remembrances as we all say good-bye to the ultimate lover of movies and friend of Runco, Robert Ebert.

No one can argue that he was the nation’s most influential film critic, who worked across media, from newspaper to television to book publishing to social media, to define a profession.  He aptly showed how early adoption of technology can keep a public figure relevant across the decades.  He’s the only film critic with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  At his funeral, the mayor of Chicago joked that “Roger spent a lot of time sitting through bad movies, so we didn’t have to.”  He inspired his fans by bravely and publicly facing down cancer, eventually losing his ability to speak, though not his ability to communicate.  In the end, the villain won, but like the fallen heroes in epic films, the legacy continues.

On April 2, just days before his death, he posted an open letter on his blog claiming for himself a much deserved “leave of presence.”  To slow down from his prolific writing production (resulting in 306 movie reviews last year alone across 200 newspapers) to do what he could have only fantasized about in his lifetime as a film critic: “seeing only the movies I want to review.” 

So, in homage to a gifted and generous movie lover, here is a link to what Roger Ebert called the “Great Movies.”  These 300 films shaped public opinion, pushed the boundaries of cinema technology and art, and, Roger believed, were worthy stories, well told.  Perhaps some of these will spark your interest.  Perhaps you’ll add your own thumbs up to that of Roger Ebert.

And Roger, we’ll see you at the movies.

Planar Releases 3D BIM Models of LCD Displays and Video Walls through Autodesk Seek

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Architects, engineers and designers can now easily integrate 3D BIM models of Planar displays into building plans

3D Building Information Modeling (BIM) models of select Planar large format LCD displays and video walls are now available free through the Autodesk® Seek web service.

Autodesk Seek allows architects, engineers and designers to easily find, preview and download 3D models of Planar displays. They can then incorporate these models into their building plans without having to create the models themselves. According to a report by McGraw-Hill Construction titled, “The Business Value of BIM in North America: Multi-Year Trend Analysis and User Ratings (2007-2012),”  BIM adoption has grown 500% in the past years among AEC (Architect, Engineering, Construction) professionals and research indicates that up to 80% of firms have adopted BIM.

“The BIM process has transformed design and construction with its ability to improve project 3D design and team collaboration,” says Jennifer Davis, vice president of marketing for Planar Systems. “By offering our products as BIM ready objects, we make it easier for architects, engineers and designers to integrate Planar displays into their project designs right from the start.”

3D BIM models of three Planar product families are now available from the Autodesk Seek online content library, a web service that supplies free BIM models from a wide range of building product manufacturers. The models include Planar® Mosaic™ architectural video walls, Clarity™ Matrix LCD video walls and Planar® UltraLux™ Series large flat panel monitors. Each of these BIM models provides data-rich drawings and product specifications that accurately depict the displays and their options within Autodesk® Revit®, a market-leading 3D design platform.

While Planar has provided 2D CAD drawings of its products for years, it was time-consuming for designers to turn these 2D drawings into accurate 3D objects. With the 3D BIM models available on Autodesk Seek, building professionals can now download these models and easily plug them right into their overall project designs, speeding up their work and improving the quality of their project models.

“Building Information Modeling technology has quickly become the industry standard for accurately simulating buildings in 3D before they’re constructed,” says Rob Gaspard, AIA, principal of architectural firm WORKSBUREAU. “As a result, we have a growing need to integrate product data from manufacturers like Planar into our BIM designs. By putting 3D models of its displays on Autodesk Seek,  Planar is not only miles ahead of the curve, but it’s allowing me to offer enhanced decision making capabilities to my clients, making my job a whole lot easier.”

Audio visual resellers and system integrators who consult, sell and service display technologies can also benefit from these 3D BIM models. Photo-realistic project models have become a key sales tool for AV designers and consultants when pitching their design concepts. Now they can more easily incorporate Planar displays into their design proposals, allowing project owners to more clearly visualize the design.

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