Thursday, November 14, 2013

Actor Augustine passes away

Malayalam film actor Augustine died at a private hospital today morning. His funeral will be held tomorrow.  Beginning his acting career through theater, Augustine entered the Malayalam film industry in the mid eighties and since then he has acted in more than 100 films. 
Augustine suffered a stroke in 2010 and since then even though not fully fit, he acted in a few films.  Recently his health deteriorated further and was hospitalised frequently. Even though never a front line actor, Augustine excelled when he acted alongside superstars Mammootty and Mohanlal.  Notable among his films were Commissioner, Devasuram, Ekalavyan, Aaran Thampuran, Kazhcha and Katha Paryumbol. “He did not become an actor overnight. Instead he made use of small roles that came his way and peaked…he had extremely talented film professionals as his close friends,” said Innocent, the president of the actor’s body, AMMA.
His last film was Shutter that was released early this year.  Prominent director Renjith kept him company all through his career and was seen in every film of his. RIP Augustine!

The ailing actor was 58 and is survived by his wife and two daughters, one of whom is upcoming actor Ann Augustine.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Chitti Babu aka Sajjadh Adeebh is no more

Tamil comedian and television anchor Chitti Babu aka Sajjadh Adeebh died in a private hospital here today (Friday). He was 49.

"He was admitted to Royapettah Government Hospital on Wednesday after he fell unconscious due to high diabetes in his house. On Thursday, he slipped into coma and never regained consciousness. He passed away this evening," a family source told IANS.
Chitti Babu underwent a bypass surgery recently.
"Even though he worked in a few films in the last two years, he couldn`t work as actively as before because of the bypass surgery," the source added.
He started his career as a television anchor of a comedy show. In 2002, he made his cinematic debut with Tamil romantic-drama "Five Star".
He has starred in films such as "Ottran", "Dhool" and "Sivakasi". His last film "Madha Gadha Raja" is awaiting release.
Chitti Babu is survived by his wife and son.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Onayum Aatukuttiyum" is a copied film !!

Mysskin says that his latest film 'Onayum Aatukuttiyum' has been copied from a Portuguese film of the 14th century. He says this when the science of photography was discovered only in the late 19th century. Howz that Mysskin? Come on Mysskin, just another case of you taking the Tamil film audience, your own audience for a ride. Of course, you are having the last laugh. See video below:

How to shoot 'Green Matte'

Stay away from the background!

When you keep a minimum of 10’ between your subject and the green background, it minimizes green ‘spill’ from the backdrop.  Less green spill = a cleaner matte!

Cover unseen green areas

Seems like a no-brainer, but if it’s not needed for the matte, it doesn’t need to be there bouncing green spill around the room!  To be doubly safe, cover those unseen green areas with light pink sheets (the pink minimizes green.)

Add edge and back lights

This is particularly true when shooting full length shots, since light coming back at the subject from the green screen must be counteracted, plus edge lights will probably help make your subject look like they are ‘lit in the real world’. In fact, adding a light minus-green (magenta) gel, such as a 1/8 or 1/4, will help counteract any green that your edge light is working to overcome!

Don’t use fluorescents to light your subject.

Virtually all fluorescent tubes emit a ‘spike’ in the green area.  If you don’t believe me, go look at the spectral analysis curves at the Kino-Flo website.  Using fluorescents is, however, an excellent way to light your green background.

Be careful of your wardrobe!

A surprising number of materials are reflective enough to ruin an otherwise perfect matte.  Particularly watch out for items like shiny black boots (sure to pick up green reflections.) Also be careful of ‘blue’ jeans.  In many ‘pre-washed’ styles, the blue of the jeans has faded to reveal a yellow-green tinge!  In general, watch out for not only greens, but yellows as well, since many yellow shades contain quite a bit of green.

Pull your matte from the highest resolution, earliest generation original you have

Seems like another no-brainer, but remember that every time you transcode or go another generation, or even worse move to a compressed editing format, you are lising resolution and color information that may be the difference between a marginal and a great matte.

Use the best matting program available - and LEARN IT!.

I recently talked with an editor who had just moved to Final Cut Pro from a more hardware-based system.  He was shocked by how poorly it created its native mattes within the program.  He was ready to go back to his old system. Instead he went out and bought Boris Effects.  He still feels that FCP deals with mattes in a backwards way, but after spending a day learning how to use Boris properly for mattes, he was able to do matting ‘100 times better’ than with the native FCP system.

There are other fine software-based matting programs, such as Ultra2 and Ultimatte.  Each one has its advantages, but every program NEEDS TO BE LEARNED FULLY! From the first frame to the last, music videos serve as a blank canvas to your mind's eye, a place to show the world what you can really do when let loose with a camera. But, if you let your creative juices drown your common sense approach to production, your music video masterpiece could wind up a public-access catastrophe.

The canvas called "Music Video"

In the last 25 years, the invigorating art form of making a music video has grown to be one of the most influential and individually stylistic modes of production in the industry. From the first frame to the last, music videos serve as a blank canvas to your mind's eye, a place to show the world what you can really do when let loose with a camera. But, if you let your creative juices drown your common sense approach to production, your music video masterpiece could wind up a public-access catastrophe.

What is a Music Video production?

Despite all of the artistic freedom involved with making a music video , the end result still has to serve one purpose: promotion. The music video is a promotional tool for the artist. It sometimes serves as a conduit to attention from a label, but more often it is a catalyst for CD sales or artist song downloads. While a hit video can do a lot for you as a director, its primary goal is to serve the music artist.

Making a Music Video: The Treatment

The first step in making your music video is the treatment. In the world of high budgets and major labels, directors typically are contacted and asked to develop a concept or a treatment for the video, based on the message or the mood of the song. This step is often a crap shoot. It's where jobs are won and lost. Often the best concept is not the one that wins the job. Most of the time it's the concept that fits into the allotted budget for the project. Still, large budgets are not always the director's best friend. They often cause more problems and cloud the pathway to creative ingenuity.

Working with small budgets will allow you, as a director, to take the focus off the glitz typically associated with the MTV set and allow you to make the artist the star.

Workflow & Planning

Even with a concise treatment in-hand, it's easy to get sidetracked when shooting something as inspired as a music video.

Locations & Logistics

As with any video production, every time you envision multiple locations, the more pre-production planning is required. This is certainly also the case when you're making a music video. Depending on the complexity of your treatment, you will have to make sure your locations have ample power and space for crew, musical equipment, and any other props you pictured as part of your musical masterpiece. Depending on the location(s), it's also likely that you are going to draw a fair amount of attention from curious passers-by. Having the proper permissions and paperwork from either the property owner or your city or county government will save you tons of hassle and help to keep your vision alive.

Audio Playback

Synchronizing audio is a true art (particularly when making a music video), but you don't need to invest in digital slates or big budget audio gear to make sure you have proper sync in your video. However, if you plan on doing any sort of lip and instrument synching, good technique is a vital part of your finished product.

You will most likely be using a studio recording of the song you're highlighting in your video. Naturally, then, this means that the sound you're picking up on the camera microphone is not going to be the final mix you'll need for the finished product. While there are tons of ways to accomplish the same task, splitting your song into segments and marking in-points of each segment with "two-pops" is a method which always seems to work fairly well, even under the most low-budget circumstances.

This means, prior to shooting your video, examine the song thoroughly. Find natural breaks in the song; then, using the editing software of your choice, cut the song up into parts and add an audio countdown to each segment. The audio countdown usually works best as a series of beeps with the last beep, the number two in your countdown, different from the previous beeps. After the last beep, add one second of silence and then begin the segment of the song. This gives everyone on set a cue to start performing for the camera and, working with the same CD, it gives the editor a cue for proper sync. With this method, you can use any CD player to serve as the audio guide for the shoot. Splitting the song up into segments means you don't have to keep running through the entire song with every take. Doing so will wear you, your crew and your performers out in a hurry.

As stated, there are tons of ways to achieve proper sync; this is only one of them. Do some research and find the method that works best for you. There's nothing wrong with a little technical experimentation, as long as you have your ducks in a row prior to your shoot.

Finding Clients

Nearly all musicians dream of being in a music video. This makes finding willing participants relatively easy. Just cruise your local instrument shop or scan the local papers and you're bound to find some newly-formed wunderkind group with an eye on stardom to let you direct their first video. And, if you've never directed a music video, this is the perfect client for you. There won't be much of a budget, if any, but finding such an act will get your feet wet and provide the breathing room to make the mistakes you'll want to get out of the way before you move on to bigger names. Working with new acts is also a way to build your music video reel. Eventually, your skills will improve, and you'll have a nice cache of work to pull from. You can use this to promote your abilities of making a muisc video to bigger musical acts and hopefully pave your way to music video stardom.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Arrambam - Review

Simple, elegant and class but richly crafted to keep you tuned to the screen - 'Arrambam' is an interesting story in a gripping screenplay. There has been ample hype about this movie, especially after the edge-of-the-seat partnership that Ajith and director Vishnuvardhan shared in their earlier outing 'Billa'. In an elegant introduction, Thala enters the screen with a boom - well, quite literally.

Ashok (Ajith) is wanted by the police for three blasts in the hub of Mumbai. Spreading the typical Mumbai mood in Tamil style, Thala dances to his introduction song in all vigour. Meanwhile, college alumni Arjun (Arya) and Maya (Nayanthara) encounter each other on a business trip and travel down the memory lane. While there is not much to remark about Nayan's flashback to be amiss from her trademark glamorous beauty, Arya's college boy look is a serious set back. The flashback describes how Arya managed to impress the bubbly reporter Anita (Taapsee).

What comes later is total high tech action! When all the niceties are over, Arya gets duped into Ajith's plan of hacking one system after another - beginning with the flash network. Hacking people down at each step, Ajith gets closer to his ultimate goal. But all that comes to a sudden stop when he gets arrested by the police, as a result of Arya's smart and secretive complaint. With each passing frame, there is more action than you can ask for. Before revealing the motive behind each casting, the first half comes to an end with a classic action sequence. It is after Ashok's arrest that the real story unfolds, in the second half.

After the interval comes the real twist. If you thought the first half was impressive, the second is full of adrenaline with class action back to back. It is in the second half that you should watch out for the much awaited car action sequence. The story takes a new avatar in impeccable screenplay in exotic locations. The film as a whole boldly involves a lot of aspects of the country's everyday affairs which is considered delicate to speak frankly. Vishnuvaradhan scores high on this regard that he has taken up a delicate issue, offered an uptight solution in completely action-filled entertainer.

To perceive the complicated story that Subha has penned down, and put it on neat and interesting screenplay is quite a task, and Vishnu has added the right amount of salt and pepper to make the film a merry to watch and enjoy. Om Prakash has canned each frame with passion. Every fight sequence appears realistic, and all the nuances and emotions have been captured just in the right light. Differences in screen setting and lighting have been taken utmost care to convey the right emotion, not just through the carefully worded dialogues, but also visually.

Ajith has done a truly great job in the movie - more than a hero (or anti-hero, as he is cast), he has performed as the typical character that Subha and Vishnuvardhan have conceived. Carrying himself at ease in the contradicting roles he plays in both the halves of the film, Ajith proves his worth once again as an excellent actor. Nayanthara who comes around as his ally has added the right amount spice wherever required. The actress seems to have distinctly matured from her 'Billa' days, though.

The romance that Arya and Taapsee share is cute, bubbly and keeps the movie going forward on a lighthearted note. Though Rana Dagubatti and Kishore are cast on brief roles, their characters are pivotal and support the crux of the story strongly. Cohesion and continuity is edgy and distinctly better only as the film progresses. Srikar Prasad has however done a commendable job in putting the pieces of action together into thorough entertainment. Background score adds volume to the story, supporting it substantially well.

In all regards, the second half is exceptionally good. 'Arrambam' is about making the wrong, right and making it look simple, despite the weight and weightage the story carries. By all means, the film is truly a class apart, with the same style and mass of Thala. So here's wishing everyone a blast of a 'Thala' Diwali, the classic Ajith way!