Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Taking "Quick" Detours

Well, I've had some good news over the past few weeks. It seems like good and bad things come in consecutive groups for me. Luckily, it was a number of good things this time around.

Image from
I was able to get both my PC motherboard and Nexus 7 back from my repair shop. Meanwhile, after installing the PC hardware and Windows 8 (I swear it's not as bad as they say), I went straight to work on obtaining the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. For a cool $50/month, I get the latest versions of the entire Adobe Suite, plus additional features and support not available with Creative Suite 6. Do the math... for a constantly updated, industry-standard software package with cloud support and the newest features, you're getting a lot more than you would to pay a lump sum (about $1500, depending on the package) for the Creative Suite, which, in the past, usually only lasts about a year until they come out with a newer version, forcing you to shell out more cash to keep up with the current industry-standard version. Considering the options, I think subscribing to Adobe CC is the smarter route.

Anyway, this means that I have a quality PC and quality editing software to finally start working on some serious projects! First up, my film reel. I might also post some test footage, including some GoPro footage that went on the back-burner until I figured out my whole post-production situation.

In the meantime, I will be providing full reports on new hardware and writing projects that are in the works. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to the Drawing...errr...Storyboard

Once again, it's time to get productive. While I have some downtime between the wrap of my 48 Hour Film Project and the start of fall videography jobs, I figured I would get some screenwriting and pre-production pumped out. While I'm not entirely sold on which story idea will get developed into a shooting script, I plan on working out the details of over half a dozen ideas that I have compiled, in hopes that the strongest script will stand out. From that point step at a time.

I previously said that I would have a short film ready for production by August. Obviously, that's not going to happen. Between work, job transitioning, and freelance gigs, it seems as though time is limited to whatever I can scrounge up, especially in the next couple of weeks. For the time being, bear with me and know that I am working hard to bring something to life.

Itching to do this again.

Also, if you have any ideas that you would like assistance in bringing to life or would like to assist me in my own work, feel free to contact me. All of my contact information is at, along with any updates on projects. And, as always, keep checking back here for a more in-depth look at any project updates. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Review

This week, I decided to revisit some previous equipment and write a new review on an oldie lens: the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens. Revisiting this lens, I'm surprised about how well this affordable consumer-grade lens holds up in comparison to more expensive lenses from Canon. The quality looks great and even holds its own against my Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L. Of course, a lens this cheap isn't without its downfalls. Let's break down the details of this little guy.

When I bought this lens last year, I paid a little over $100. Looking at just the price, you might think that you’re getting what you pay for. I thought the same thing. However, after reading some of the reviews, I was convinced that this was something beyond what the price was telling me. Amazon currently lists the lens at $95.00, which is cheaper still. With a f-stop that opens to 1.8, compact design, and quick-response auto-focus, you’re getting a powerful prime lens that is targeted for both beginning professionals and casual users. In fact, I’m still using this as one of my main lenses until I feel it’s time to make the upgrade to an L series lens.

Like I mentioned before, this is one case where you’re actually getting more than what you pay for. If you’re a beginner who is a little too attached to the convenience of a zoom lens and wants to try a prime, but is afraid to pay too much, then this is where you start. This compact little guy is great for travel shooting/filming, and its wide range of aperture settings and balanced depth of field provides a variety of options for any situation.

Very compact and light.
Looking at the physical aspects, the lens itself is about 2 inches long and 2 ½ inches in diameter, making it very compact and great for travel. It is compatible with all Canon EOS models and doesn't weigh down even the lightest models.

The auto-focus quickly adjusts to any target object in the frame. Even in dark settings, the autofocus seems to work better than most Canon lenses in this price range.

Speaking of dark settings, the lens handles very well in low light situations, with its very wide aperture. In this regard, the EF 50mm f/1.8 II beats out some of the lower end L series lenses that Canon has to offer. Once again, this lens proves its worth beyond its price.

Test shot from the EF 50mm f/1.8 II

With its wide aperture, you can get some amazingly shallow shots, in terms of depth of field. The shots come out looking beautiful, bringing out the details in the focal points and producing some very effective bokeh for areas out of focus. This lens really covers all of the essentials for beginners, while still providing excellent shots for even the most seasoned photographer.

Krillin took a little tumble.
On the downside, a 50mm prime lens provides very little flexibility, in terms of spacing and framing. Of course, its important to note that this is a disadvantage for any prime lens. They are all designed for a specific type of shooting. If used otherwise, you’re going to develop a need to invest in a wider/narrower angle lens.

This is the main reason why zoom lenses have become so popular, because they cover multiple angles of shooting. This means that the photographer/videographer has to invest in one or two zoom lenses, as opposed to multiple prime lenses, which are close to the same price range. However, the benefits of a prime lens greatly outweighs those of a zoom lenses, but that’s a lesson for another day. For now, skeptics of the prime lens should give this cheap model a try and they’ll quickly realize what they've been missing from their zoom lens.

Once again, every lens is made with a specific use in mind, so obviously every lens is going to have benefits and drawbacks. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II is just a great starting point for those looking to get a little extra depth in their photos and video footage and is a great stepping stone for those looking to start their prime lens collection. Open your horizons and see what you've been missing!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

First Look: 48 Hour Film Project - Pittsburgh

It’s been a few weeks since the 48 Hour Film Project in Pittsburgh ended. I was hoping to get some previews out sooner, but as I mentioned before, I have been very busy with some repair work and have been limited with the resources available to me.

For a first look, I decided to share some screenshots that crept their way onto Facebook. As you can see, we are all very hard at work on the project.

For all of you not familiar with the project, the idea is to produce a short 5-7 minute film and have it completed and edited within 48 hours. We select the genre at random and immediately begin writing the script on the first night, meaning that we have to go into this project with a completely open mind.These kinds of constraints can be challenging, but also provide the opportunity to explore the extents of your filmmaking background and education.

For our project, we selected horror as our genre. For those of you that know me, I’m not too crazy about the horror genre. Thankfully, I had close friends and colleagues to help me with that. Overall, the project turned out looking awesome. I can’t wait to release some promotional stills in the near future!

Currently, we are working on a Director’s Cut, which is in the final stages of editing. More information will come in the future. Thanks for all of your support! Cheers!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Repair Man-man-man-man!

It’s been a fairly long period of time since I went dark. A combination of working and filming has caused me to put a majority of my writing on hold. On top of all that, I acquired a few computer parts to complete a PC that is meant to perform extremely well with non-linear editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro (and possibly some graphically demanding gaming on the side).

Well, to my surprise, I ran into some hardware issues and found myself switching hats for the past couple of weeks. Suddenly, I was troubleshooting hardware like I owned an IT solutions shop.

And the problems didn't stop there. Around the same, my Nexus 7 tablet decided to cough and sputter and keel over on me, AND my laptop screen cracked (that one was probably my fault...I need to stop placing fragile/expensive things on the floor beside my bed). Luckily, I had an external monitor, and a great wealth of knowledge to help repair some of those issues.

As of this moment, I installed a replacement screen for my laptop, have my PC’s motherboard on its way back to the repair shop, and have the tablet prepared to send back. Thankfully, it’s all with minimal charge and great, responsive customer service. You can’t beat that!

Anyway, I promise I’ll cut all the boring technical jumbo and get back to posting about film and equipment updates, including some updates on the progress of my 48 Hour Film! Stay tuned!