Pitch-a-Thon-a-go-go! (Seriously, you should go)

filmsummitlogosqrWhat would you do to have the chance to pitch your project to representatives from major studios, to producers and distributors? People who can help make it a reality?

Last year the new NRB Film Committee pulled together a pitch-a-thon with many of the major religious distributors. Participants had 5 minutes in front of up to 3 reps to pitch their project. The representatives gave honest feedback to every person who pitched. My project was well received, and if I had a finished film, I am reasonably sure those contacts would have paid off.

Even though I am serving on the NRB Film Committee this year, I hadn’t heard much about this year’s pitch event. When the registration opened up I was surprised to see some major additions to the panel. Representatives from 20th Century Fox and Paramount as well as some well known producers are going to be there. Later conversations with the guys setting things up hinted at a few more players that might attend.

So, the big reason to pitch at one of these things is to get practice at your pitch and hear feedback from actual professionals in the field.

Of course the dream is that one of the people hearing your pitch comes back around to find out more, and hopefully move forward. And this year many of the participants don’t require a finished project. They can take a script.

And if you’re going to do this, then you might as well swing for the fences. I asked to pitch to major studios and a producer. I’m pitching an idea that is bigger than my capability. I wouldn’t be able raise the production capital by myself, but the story will appeal to a broad audience. It’s something a larger studio could easily take on.

So I’m going to be pitching this project.

What’s you project? What are you pitching? You should sign up right now.

http://nrb.org/events/convention/pitchathon/

To participate you must register for the day or for the whole NRB Convention. If you register for the day you get a bunch of great sessions learning from people working in Hollywood.

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Creating a Hyperlapse Loop

Hyperlapse:

Hyperlapse (also walklapsespacelapsestop-motion time-lapsemotion timelapsemoving timelapse) is an exposure technique in time-lapse photography, in which the position of the camera is being changed between each exposure in order to create a tracking shot in timelapse sequences. In opposite to a simple motion timelapse – dolly shots, which are realized with short camera sliders; in hyperlapse photography, the camera is being moved through very long distances.

A hyperlapse is a fun project, and a cool way to highlight a building, landmark, or area is to do one around it. All you need is a map, a still camera, photo editing software and a video editing program that can assemble an image sequence.

First, find your location on the map. Then plot out points you can take photos from in a circle around the building. I used Google Maps, threw a screen grab into Photoshop and drew a circle around it. Then I printed that image and drew dots around the circle where I wanted to shoot pictures.

There are some handy tips and videos for how to best do this online. This video mentioned that it works best to take a picture then shift a short distance and take a second picture so the sequence shows the foreground moving. It helps the video feel smoother.

When taking the pictures, chose one portion of the building/object to line up with something in the camera viewfinder. I put the top of the steeple at the top of the guides inside the Canon 7D viewfinder, and in the center of the focus boxes. It’s Ok if it’s not exactly perfect. But it should be close. Make sure that you have plenty of space between your building and the edge of your frame, this will help with cropping the photos down to a 16×9 image later.

Once you have your pictures, load them into your photo editor. I used Adobe Photoshop, but other editors may be able to do similar edits. In Photoshop create a new document and paste in one of the images on a new layer. Straighten, if necessary. Position the building or object exactly in the center. Then draw some guides around the building. These will help you to center up each new image.

Paste more of your shots in new layers and (using the guides) straighten, scale and position them to match the base layer. As always, save early and often. When you are done you have a document with about 40 or so layers, all scaled and positioned with the building in the center. This is the base of your video.

Using the canvas size tool in Photoshop, change the horizontal and vertical dimensions to something that is a multiple of the resolution you want your final video to be. I chose 3840×2160, double 1080 HD resolution.

Go through each image and fix anything that looks out of place, and make sure the image is still centered in the guides. I had some blank spots from some of the image rotation I had done to straighten things out. So I used the Clone tool to draw in more ground or sky. Don’t worry about making it look perfect. These pictures will be zooming by at 1/24th of a second. But keep that building or object centered and straight.

Now, go through each picture and add motion blur to everything except the focal point. The amount you add is up to you. I wanted to make sure viewers could tell what the foreground images were, but didn’t want them sharp at all.

The final image editing step is to export each layer of the image in order with a numerical file name. Then open your video editor. I used Adobe Aftereffects, which recognized I had an image sequence and created the video automatically. Make any adjustments and export your hyperlapse loop.

I’d love to see your hyperlapse.

Shopping Cell/Smart Phones in 2015

t-mobile-logoThey are ubiquitous. (Fancy word score! Had to look it up to make sure I was using it right.) Everywhere you look, everyone has one. They have replaced home phones and land lines. Cell phones are all over the place.

Since we have recently moved we need to change up the numbers and it’s time to upgrade two of the 3 lines we have. This may also be a good time to change carriers. I’ve been with AT&T since 2007, and always had a smart phone with them. When the iPhone 3G came out, I got one and have held onto the unlimited data plan ever since. I’ve written about how I have previously used a the 2 year contract pricing to upgrade to new iPhones every year. But the landscape of smartphones has changed.

Enter the every-year-upgrade-plans.

Next, Edge, whatever your carrier calls it, you pay little or nothing initially to get your phone, and then pay a fee every month until it’s paid off. No contracts, but if you drop service, the balance of the phone comes due. No more subsidized phones.

Previously, by agreeing to stay on for another 2 years, they cut the cost of a new phone by about half (or more). We all understood that nothing is free, so paying a bit more for the service was worth it if we could save a bit on the device.

Shopping AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, the cost of the service is about the same, but now I get to pay for the entire cost of my phone(s) over 24 months. They sell the new plan like it’s a benefit. Pay less now, a bit more every month and get a new phone every year.

My complaint is that new phones without subsidies in the service contracts should have lower priced service contracts. Only T-Mobile seems to have this. They still charge for the phones over 2 years, but their service prices are a bit cheaper. Of course, T-Mobile doesn’t have service everywhere. So your mileage may vary.

I bit the bullet, and ordered a new iPhone 6 64GB on T Mobile. When it’s all said and done, we will spend less per month with T Mobile for 2 phones with unlimited talk, text, and data, plus 5 GBs of wifi hotspot every month.

Be aware, the plans change all the time, but generally you can probably do something similar. We needed 3 lines. 2 with data, and 1 as an “emergency” line for the kids. Something they can carry if they are at a friends house, or whatever. We didn’t need data for that line, or really much talk time either.

The current plan T Mobile is advertising is 2 lines with unlimited everything for $100. Plus taxes and the cost of any phones. Unfortunately, they do not allow you to add a basic phone as a 3rd line. They require every phone on the account to have the unlimited status. That means our 3rd line would cost $40 per month, instead of the $10-20 we were expecting. That’s not worth it. They sometimes have the option of adding a basic line for $10 per month, but not in this case. Doesn’t make good business sense to me, but we found a solution.

We got a Trac Fone. $10 for the phone, $20 for the minutes on the card. The service is good for 150 days or 140 minutes. We just add more when we run out of days or minutes. That’s a lot less than $10 per month, considering we will barely use this line.

Another way we saved some cash was to have my AT&T iPhone 5S unlocked. It was easy to do. Eligible phones can be unlocked by filling out a form online. Then you click a link in and email, and restore your iPhone through iTunes. Then it’s unlocked. Moving it to T Mobile was a simple sim card swap. That’s much less than buying a new phone.

If you do need a basic line, on most carriers, you can snag a cheap pay-as-you-go handset from a Walmart or Target, and just have the carrier put a new sim card in.

Of course, if you can swing the cash to just buy your phones outright, you will save money in the long run.

There may be other ways to get less expensive service from the other carriers, but T Mobile, if you have service in the areas you need, was straight forward and seems to be the cheapest.