Hirschfield Presents: White on White

Approaching the week of finals is always stressful, but here is an amazing opportunity to take a quick break from studying this weekend: enjoy the Chilean-Spanish drama WHITE ON WHITE (BLANCO EN BLANCO) by Théo Court! This is our final screening of the Fall semester and is Chile’s official submission to the 94th annual Academy Awards for Best International Feature.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, Pedro arrives in Tierra del Fuego, a violent and hostile territory, to immortalize the marriage of a powerful landowner. Fascinated with the bride-to-be’s beauty, he betrays the rules and is left to face a land crawling with violence and marked by the genocide of its indigenous inhabitants.

Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkZwEmq60ZE

In-person screenings will be held at 3pm and 8pm on Saturday in Axinn 232.

For online screenings, register using this form before Friday, December 10th at 5pm. You’ll receive a confirmation email with additional details for viewing.
Screening Window: Saturday, December 11th at 3 pm – Monday, December 13th at 3 pm.

Enjoy the last couple of weeks and good luck with finals!

Casting Call!!

If you or someone you know would like to be cast in upcoming student projects – please consider submitting a short self-tape to be added to our database! This is an awesome way to build an acting portfolio and get to know our filmmakers!

More information below:

To review how to best record self-tapes, please reference the following resources:

https://www.sagaftra.org/casting-directors-dish-self-tape-tips

https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/guide-perfect-self-tape-1758/

Submissions will only be accepted in the form of a Vimeo or YouTube video links emailed to ethanm@middlebury.edu !

Visit go/actors to view our current talent!

TA reveal – Misha

Hello everyone!

My name is Misha. I am a senior majoring in Studio Art and Film, and I just can’t imagine my life without images, still or moving. I am obsessed with any type of visuals, the weirder and the more eclectic – the better. Animation, character design, illustration, graphic design, and of course, filmmaking – all of these genres of art captivate me due to their emphasis on the image. My main artistic interest relates to merging different, at times, seemingly clashing images together to create surrealist multidimensional worlds. In a similar manner I have compiled a little collage to familiarize you with some of the media texts which have informed my growth as an artist and film enthusiast. I hope you will have fun trying to locate and identify each reference or character!

Looking forward to discussing (aka obsessing over) these and other films, video games, and animated shows during my working hours on Thursdays from 8pm until 12am in Axinn basement.

Handy Effects in Premiere

Premiere Pro is a daunting program at first, there’s no two ways about it. Just looking at the number of buttons, switches, and sliders made my head spin when I first started using the program. Many beginners quickly pick up the basics of cutting but often avoid the Effects panel altogether because it is full of complex-sounding names for tools. While many of these effects are highly situational, there are some that are extremely multifaceted and I would recommend all beginners learn to help bump up the overall quality of their videos.

Audio Transitions–>Crossfade–>Exponential Fade

This is a small detail that is so simple, but goes so far. If you drag and drop this onto to conjoining clips, the sound of the first one will gradually fade out while the sound of the second one fades in. This may sound really simple and a little unnecessary, but you will quickly learn that all locations have a unique room tone. What this means is that when you switch back and forth between scenes or dialogue shot under different conditions, your cuts will be extremely jarring. Even if no sound is actively being created in the two environments you are switching between, viewers will consciously and unconsciously pick up on the change. Adding in Exponential Fade makes this transition less harsh.

Audio Effects–>Filter and EQ–>Parametric Equalizer

Parametric Equalizer is a great tool to bring out your actors’ or subjects’ voice in a noisy environment. There is a preset that heightens sound within the sonic range that the human voice is within and reduces all other sound. This is great if you forgot to unplug a refrigerator onset that left a low-grade noise throughout the entirety of your clips. It’s also just a great tool to use regularly even when you don’t have a noisy background since it creates crisp and clear dialogue. To use it simply drag and drop Parametric Equalizer onto your clip, go to the effects panel, find Parametric Equalizer, click “Edit” under “Bypass”, click on the dropdown menu that reads “Default” on the pop up window, and select “Vocal Enhancer”. Note that you can also manually fool around with the vocal range to achieve even clearer dialogue. It’s not as complicated as you might think, but you will still want to watch a tutorial like the one below before attempting it on your own.

Video Effects–>Distort–>Warp Stabilizer

Your professor has probably told you to not rely on fixing things in the edit, and they are right. Do things to the best of your ability onset. However, if time or resources are limited and you walk away with a shakier shot than you had planned, do not panic. Warp Stabilizer smooths out the shakiness in your shots, but the trade off is that it crops the shot by a few dozen pixels on all sides. This allows Premiere Pro to move the shot digitally to counter your own movements, creating a smooth shot. You can even change just how much you stabilize the shot by moving the “Smoothness” slider under Warp Stabilizer in the effects panel. This effect does work with pans, tilts, and some movement, but can get incredibly janky with more complex movements. If you try to use Warp Stabilizer on some footage that looks like it could have been in the Blair Witch Project, then Premiere Pro will spit you out a pile of hot garbage.

Video Effects–>Blur&Sharpen–>Gaussian Blur

This combined with the pen tool is a great way to blur out faces and objects. If you were shooting on a location and realized you accidentally got the sign of a gas station in the background then Gaussian Blur is a great way to blur that sign out. This is especially handy for anyone here looking to do documentaries.

There are tons of other effects out there than can and hopefully will be of help to many of you in the future, but if you are starting out these are some good effects to master early on.

What to do when files go missing in premiere?

One of the worst feelings you can get when editing is premiere crashing. Obviously you forgot to save your project while you’ve been working, and in an instant it’s all gone. But an arguably more enraging feeling is that of missing files. Everything was working, you saved it all correctly, and now it’s gone! Worry not, and let’s go over some of the ways to solve this issue.

First, organization is key. This goes for every aspect of editing, but especially keep this in mind for your files. Naming your files with recognizable names, both in premiere and in your file explorer, can solve some of the hassle. And it’ll keep you from accidentally deleting files that you need later. After all, preventing a problem is better than fixing it.

Folders and bins can help you organize your workflows more efficiently, and if you end up missing something it should be easy enough to find. Permanently deleting footage you’ve shot can’t really be fixed, but a little extra time when arranging files can greatly reduce your odds of doing so. But even when you’ve done all this, premiere can still choose to act difficult, so what can you do to fix it?

How to read it

This screen can be very intimidating, but you should be able to navigate it easily once we’re done here.
First, the top portion tells you exactly which files are missing. You get the name of the clip, the name of the file in your computer, and the file path. These three are the most useful pieces of information. By looking at the clip name, if you see it isn’t essential to your editing for now, you can simply decide to keep editing and find the clip later. If the clip is important, you can use the file name to locate it and simply move it to the file path shown here. That’s the quickest way of solving a missing file problem. By using these three features you can start by figuring out your course of action.
Once you’ve done this, and figured out whether this clip is important right now or not, you can take a look at the lower portion of the screen. You shouldn’t need to tick any boxes, since premiere sets those automatically to be most useful for you. If you need some more advanced tweaking, they’re there for you though.
The four buttons at the bottom right will be the most important buttons on this whole screen. If you’ve previously realized you don’t need the clip right now, you can click “offline all” or “offline” to keep editing with the other files you have. On the other hand, if you want to edit with those files but don’t want to move them to the file path shown above, click locate. It’ll allow you to go through your files and manually find the right file. If you’ve made the conscious decision to move files around, for example after doing some more organizing, this button is essential. You don’t want to move everything back to their previous unorganized state.

A blessing as well

But this screen shouldn’t just be something to be wary of. In fact, it can be especially helpful when working on computers with other people. File names can be pretty predictable (for example, “scene 1”), and when working on a computer with many different projects, your clips may end up referring to the wrong media. What this’ll look like is that you’ll open up premiere, and end up with a timeline that has all your edits, and looks identical to where you left off, but with all of the clips being replaced by other shots. You don’t want to re-edit everything, since it’s right there, and you know where your shots are on the computer. In that case, you can manually send them offline.

By right-clicking the clip in your timeline, you’ll see a “make offline” button appear. By clicking on this, you’re telling premiere that it should forget where it was previously referencing that file. Using the locate button on the same screen as previously, you can now manually find the folder where your clips are located. Doing this for all the clips in your timeline being referenced to some other file, you can solve your problem without re-starting your editing.


Seeing that files are missing is never an enjoyable feeling, but it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle for you to deal with it now. The only problem you can’t solve this way is a deleted file, so make sure to stay organized!

Introduction to video-essays

While we wait for the Videography course to become again available at Middlebury, I invite you to discover the world of video essays on your own terms through these five artists.

Video essay is a piece of video content that, much like a written essay, advances an argument. The only difference is that a video essay takes advantage of the structure and language of film to deliver its point.

  1. Kogonada

    Discover masterfully constructed video essays from the writer-director Kogonada who reveals through visual arguments the power of cinematography in your favourite. His works are STRIKINGLY beautiful and give you an amazing insight into the history of film and its artistic power to create emotional response in viewers worldwide. You can start your exploration with this piece on Italian Neo-realism:

    http://kogonada.com/portfolio/what-is-neorealism
  2. Shanespeare

    If you are looking for more casual, relaxed and chattier video-essay experience, you should definitely check out Shanespeare channel on YouTube. Shaniya explores a variety of cultural, societal and media subjects using popular films we consume to ask critical questions about our collective values. And it’s great fun, too! She manages to combine highly academic rhetoric with casual Gen-z language and jokes, making you feel like you are listening to a friend’s banter about pop culture’s latest trends. I recommend this piece on How Hollywood Demonizes Feminity.
  3. Nerdwriter

    We all sooner or later discover this channel on Youtube and inevitably fall in love with Evan Pushak’s beautiful voice, slick visuals and highly engaging philosophical reflections on a myriad of humanity subjects. Whether you want to look at the film you love from a new, unexpected perspective, learn about history, architecture, painting or like me, discover the poetry of Emily Dickinson and E.E. Cummings, you absolutely must check out this page if you haven’t already done so before. You can start with this piece Time, Tarkovsky And Pandemic.
  4. What’s So Great About That?

    Grace Lee is the queen of engaging with dense, very specific media subjects with seeming ease and relaxed attitude that you cannot stop watching whatever video you happen to click on and can find yourself down the rabbit hole of layers of complex theoretical arguments Lee proposes. Be careful with this self-reflexive, funny and piercingly smart video-essayist, because the next time you will be preparing readings for your film theory class, inevitably this question will pop into your head: “Did Grace reference this paper in one her essays?” She probably did, and let’s keep this gem between us. You can start with her piece on Video essay.
  5. Lessons from the Screenplay

    Finally, if like me, you have missed an opportunity to take a screenwriting course and find yourself in ss1/2 trying to make a short film, this is one of the helpful resources on your crash-course journey of becoming a better storyteller. Check out this piece on the structure of When Harry Met Sally.



    Bonus essay: Jessica McGoff on Mulholland Drive: http://www.thecine-files.com/on-mulholland-drive/

Feel free to talk to me about taking a video essay class – my media tutor hours: Sunday 4 pm-7pm and 8pm-12 am:)

Starting with digital art and animation

Not just a fascinating spectacle that magically brings still drawings to life, but also a booming industry elevating films to new levels by the means of visual effects, animation (as well as other forms of digital art) captivates people of all ages and aesthetic preferences. However, the craft that is, at first glance, so playful and entertaining requires strong technical skills, excellent time management, and an incredible amount of commitment. So where should one begin?

As a beginner in the vast world of animation and digital art in general I have spent hours on the Internet trying to decide what software to use. I wanted it to be powerful but yet accessible (and not too intimidating). Here I created a list of three (+ an honorable mention) incredible pieces of software that cover all the basic approaches to animation and digital art in general.

DISCLAIMER: I will not be including Photoshop here, since if you are interested in digital art, with a 99.9% chance you have already used it at least once, and probably know about it more than I do! 

Blender

First of all, it is important to decide what type of digital art you are more drawn towards. Are you more into 2D art or are you trying to create three-dimensional models? Your answer will affect your choice of software (however, some programs can handle both!). My personal journey into the world of digital art has started with 3D art and, thus, this particular program is very dear to my heart. Blender is an amazing free software that possesses an extremely vast toolkit allowing users to create hyperrealistic renders as well as a powerful automatic rigging tool. Blender is not only an exquisite modeling software but also incorporates texture editors, sculpting modes, compositing, and other intriguing extensions such as non-realistic rendering. Some of the cons may include the intimidating interface that, however, will become your best friend after a couple of tutorials that are available in abundance on YouTube.

Krita

If you, however, are more drawn towards 2D digital art and animation Krita should be able to satisfy all of your needs. Unlike Photoshop, Krita does not function as a photo editor but focuses on animation and digital painting. Krita is acclaimed for its simple yet effective layer system, a vast variety of brush tools, and the possibility to personalize user interface for further convenience. A recognized professional program that is vastly used in the filmmaking and video-game development industry and is also free? Sounds like the perfect choice for beginning illustrators and digital artists looking to enter the industry. 

Pencil2D Animation

If these professional industry-standard ‘monsters’ seem too intimidating, Pencil2D Animation might be an optimal choice for you! Its minimalist design is very user-friendly and not as intimidating as one of the digital art giants I mentioned above. Pencil2D is the perfect tool for someone who is just starting exploring the world of hand-drawn animation or is pursuing 2D animation as a hobby. As a beginner myself, I use Pencil 2D to improve my practical skills in hand-drawn motion design. Completely free and compatible with various operating systems, Pencil2D animation is a great starting point for amateur animators like me. 

Honorable mention:

Pixel art is another intriguing genre of digital art that allows for the creation of weirdly appealing low-resolution images that have a very special nostalgic vibe of indie video games. Composed of visible pixels, such images seem simple, however, require a special skill of color blocking as well as an ability to prioritize basic elements to make an image recognizable even in a very low resolution. While you can still use popular digital art editors such as Adobe Photoshop or GIMP for pixel art, the software that I have used in the past and that has proven to be simple and efficient for this particular style is iDraw. This program provides all the necessary tools for pixel art production as well as features a nostalgic flair of the 90-s RPG games. The software is practically free, however, unlocking some additional pro features requires an upgrade that only costs 5$. 

I hope this list managed to persuade you that digital art can be accessible and fun for anyone. Can’t wait to see your first digital painting, GIF, or animation!

Creating Your Perfect Run&Gun Rig for Documentary Filmmaking

Recently I’ve come across this issue where I am going out to shoot b-roll for a documentary and once I’m out on location I realize my shoot would have been much better if I just had one piece of equipment. It’s tough because I have this aversion to taking much with me since I want to keep my rig highly portable, but oftentimes I find myself needing more than I brought. So with that in mind here is a rundown on the equipment available in the FMMC production hub that I recommend you consider next time you are shooting a documentary.

The most important decision to make with your rig is your camera choice. The type of camera you have will inform what other equipment is compatible with your rig and will start to parse down the amount of choices you need to make. The go to choice for me is the Sony FS5. It is kind of the standard for FMMC and with good reason: it’s light and versatile but high quality. The only thing in the production hub significantly better than the FS5 is the FS7, but it’s significantly heavier weight makes it unwieldy. Additionally, if you have a personal compact SLR that shoots in 4K, it might be worth choosing that over the FS5. The FS5 is light, clocking in at just under ten pounds in weight, but after a full day of shooting, ten pounds can feel like a lot.

The next big decision to be made is what lenses to use and my advice for this is less clear cut. It depends on the circumstances on your shoot and what tradeoffs you are willing to make. You may balk at the factory lens on the FS5 and say you want something more “artistic”, but these factory lens work well in a variety of situations. Additionally, you will not have autofocus or image stabilization if you use non-Sony lenses. Ideally you do not want to use autofocus, but some circumstances in your doc may make movement so fast paced that autofocus is necessary. Image stabilization is a great feature that will help steady the shot in camera and reduce the natural wobble you get on a shoulder mount in many shots. Additionally you need to ask yourself whether or not you want a Zoom lens. Are there circumstances in which you might be far away from your subject? The Fujinon MKs are a good option if that is the case, but beware their size makes them cumbersome in tight interiors. If you do choose to shoot with prime lens, you may get a “cleaner” shot but you will also have to move more to get your desired framing. If you do want to use prime lens I would recommend either the Zeiss Loxias for the best look and the Rokinons for versatility. In most circumstances, I would advise using a zoom lens, especially if you are not a seasoned camera operator.

When thinking about microphones it is highly important to think about expected conditions. Remember that the FS5 has four audio tracks. If you wanted to clip a lavalier microphone to your subject’s lapel, run with a second mic on your rig, and have a boom if you’re lucky enough to have some crew you can do that. My best luck has come with the Sony UWP-D11. For your on-board mic, you will want to decide between a shotgun mic or a hyper-cardioid. Shotguns mics have a much smaller range in which audio is clearly picked up, whereas hyper-cardioid can pick up sound even in the opposite direction that you have the mic facing. If you want to capture all the noises in a given environment to enhance your setting, use a hyper-cardioid mic. If you want to limit sound pollution and hear your subject better, a shotgun mic will help. For hyper-cardioid, I recommend the Audio Technica and for shotgun mics, I recommend the Sennheiser MKH60.

Now that we’ve got the big decisions out of the way, it’s time to dive into the little things that will improve your shoot and are compatible with most camera/lens combinations. The first and most important thing you should obtain is a rain cover. If you think there’s going to be even the slightest chance of rain, get a cover. Although not listed on the production hub website, the gear room has rain covers for the FS5. Another highly individual component of this rig is how you hope to carry it. Handheld is possible with the FS5 or an SLR, but if you use a RedRock shoulder mount, you’ll get a much more stable shot. You could theoretically pair a gimbel with a steadicam arm for an extremely stable shot, but I would caution against it since it does limit your speed/mobility. The steadicam arm will also make you pretty visible and subjects may become self conscious of themselves. If you are shooting in dark conditions and would like the grainy image quality that comes with a higher ISO, you can screw either the Litepanels Micro or MicroPro onto most rigs. Be careful though since this will create flat head-on lighting that is not flattering to your subject. If you have your subject address the camera at any point, it might be wise to add a red sticker just above your lens. I find that subjects tend to struggle with looking into the lens and providing a clear point helps them focus.

In general, I would recommend you getting creative with your rig as long as it does not hinder its performance or risk damaging the equipment. Talk to myself, other TAs, Ethan, and Fayza about other resources the department has to help you make your best rig. There are some items not listed on the production hub and it’s always worth asking.

Lilliput 24″ 4K Studio Monitor

Introducing the new 24″ 4K Studio Monitor. The best part about this new toy/tool is that it will live in the production studio and will be all set up and ready to use complete with wheeled stand, sandbag, HDMI and 12G-SDI cables, and power cable.

Who can use it?

Anyone working in the studio

How do I use it?

Plug either the HDMI or SDI cable into the back of your camera, make sure your camera is ready to output via that cable (Menu -> Arrow Up/Arrow Down Icon -> Rec Set -> Output -> HDMI or SDI), Confirm that the cable is plugged into the studio monitor (SDI input 1 and/or HDMI input 1), make sure the studio monitor is plugged in to power (V-mount or wall), make sure the power switch is toggled appropriately (V-mount/Off/DC Power), select the corresponding input button on the front of the studio monitor.

How do I use it Safely?

Always have a sandbag(s) on the wheeled stand so it doesn’t tip over. Always hold the monitor before repositioning the monitor mount by either panning it or tilting it to a new position. Always protect the beautiful 4K screen by facing it toward the wall when not in use and by keeping your grubby fingers off of it (it is not a touchscreen). Make sure that there’s no tension on the cables (HDMI, SDI, and Power) and that they are clean and are not tripping hazards.