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James Thompson

James Thompson

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If you haven't already done so, be sure to check out the April issue of P3 Update.


The Hunger Games is making quite a stir at the box office — it’s currently the top-grossing film of the year, taking in over $250 million in just 10 days. The popular film was a winning collaboration for Filmmaker Gary Ross and Cinematographer Tom Stern, ASC, AFC who both decided to shoot this futuristic story on film stock rather than with the many digital cameras now available. The April issue of P3 Update has the inside scoop on the making of The Hunger Games as we talk with Stern about his tricks of the trade and the challenges of lighting and shooting an action-based story on location in North Carolina.
We also focus on future with “From 3D to 5D Production of Live Sports in the U.S.,” which explores how 3D technology is creating better ways to capture live-broadcast footage that can be viewed anywhere. New technology incorporates 2D and 3D rigs so camera operators can still do what they do best — shooting great live-sports action — while productions save valuable space in live-event arenas. And the Cameron/Pace Group’s “Shadow D” rig is reshaping how live 3D content is captured.
P3 sits down with acclaimed Filmmaker Martin Scorsese to get his take on shooting Hugo, his very first 3D film. Scorsese takes us back to the beginning of moviemaking as he recounts the experience. We also go on location to the U.S. Virgin Islands to see the advantages that are available to filmmakers looking to shoot in the Caribbean. Many films have been shot on the lush islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, and now the advent of DSLR technology has local USVI filmmakers stepping up to create their own content. The U.S. Virgin Islands have a strong infrastructure and support system to tackle any size production, and they welcome the opportunity to help you to tell your story.
Our April issue also included a spotlight on the Midwest Region of the U.S. The states of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Missouri all offer professional local talent and other key advantages for visiting productions. And be sure to read this month’s Test Drive on third-party plugins and our Post Q&A with Technicolor Senior Digital Colorist Dave Cole, who discusses color correcting in a digital workflow environment.

I do hope you enjoy our April issue.

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At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, I had an unexpected encounter with the representatives from Timberland, one of my favorite brands. While they had a room filled with their new clothing line, their conversation was all about saving the planet. As soon as I walked through the door, a sales rep asked me to make a pledge about making an environmental impact, while an energized spokesperson proclaimed Timberland as a very socially responsible company with the credo: “Every little bit makes a difference.” I immediately thought "Wow!” and proceeded to do my part. For every pledge Timberline received at Sundance 2012, the company planted a tree — and the world can be a much better place if we all pitch in. 

P3 Update’s recent decision to go completely digital certainly supports this endeavor. In fact, since you’re reading this right now, you’re already aware of the advantages of accessing data on your computer, tablet, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry or Android mobile devices. There’s really no need to destroy trees — we no longer need to print over 30,000 copies and mail them all over the world. And I’m sure you’ll agree that not only is digital data easy to read, it’s a new form of business communication and social interaction. For instance, if you like a product or service in this issue and want to learn more about it, just click on it and you’ll go directly to the manufacturer or service company Website where you will find out everything you need to know about their offerings. This protocol is the way of the future and the future is now.

This has been an important transition for P3 Update, and we are thrilled to get this first fully digital issue to our readers — and what an issue it is. In the February 2012 issue, you’ll find stories on 3D production and postproduction, including a look at the Cameron/Pace Group’s latest 3D effort, Director Wim Wenders’ take on his first 3D film Pina, and an understanding of the 3D process by Stereographer and 3D Artist Brian Gardner, an architect behind the art of stereoscopy. Spotlights in this issue include Western Canada and San Diego, Calif. as well as Cinematographer Jerzy Zielinski, ASC who discusses his latest film Private Peaceful. Also, be sure to read up on the filmmakers and service companies that recently ventured to Park City, Utah for the 2012 Sundance and Slamdance film festivals. 

I really hope you enjoy reading this new digital issue of P3 Update. Please email it to your friends or let them know about it through social networks. You can invite them to join the P3 Update community and subscribe to the magazine for free at www.p3update.com.

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As we enter a new year, there’s a lot to be thankful for and new beginnings to look forward to. At P3 Update, we’re thankful for all of the wonderful times and the great people we’ve had the good fortune to work with over the last 25 years. We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to provide our readers with resourceful industry content through our print publication that has helped to shape the production community.

For 2012, we plan to join the movement to save the environment and make a solid effort to go green. And, after careful consideration, we’ve made the decision to discontinue P3 Update’s print issue. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2011, as more than 100 new tablets were introduced, we realized that change was inevitable when we saw how wonderful P3 Update looked on a tablet and how easy it was to navigate and read. I recently presented our idea for change to readers at several events. While initial reactions were “Oh no, we love getting our print edition each month,” our readers soon realized that they can read P3 on their computers, tablets or cell phones just as easily — and all agreed that we need to take responsibility for our planet. We now see that going all digital opens up a whole new world of opportunities. While P3 was once strictly a Hollywood book, we now have readers from various parts of the world, including places as far away as India, Greece and Turkey.

So as we do our part to save trees, we hope that you’ll stay connected with us by visiting our website at P3update.com and signing up for our digital editions, e-newsletters and social sites to remain a part of the P3 Update community. In 2012, not only will we continue to bring you compelling content, updates and industry profiles in preproduction, production and postproduction along with film commission and technology news and information, we’ll bring you more of these things more often. And all of the tools available online will help us to easily get this information to you to keep you updated about your industry.

Thanks for being a part of the P3 Update community and we look forward to staying connected with you in 2012.

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As you've probably heard, this year marks P3 Updates 25th year in business. Our August issue was dedicated to this milestone. In this blog, I want to share with you my Publishers Letter (below) from that issue just in case you didn't get your copy. Let me know what you think.

Publisher’s Letter

A long time ago in Hollywood, most productions took place on studio lots. As filmmaking grew in the late ’70s and early ’80s, productions took to the streets of Los Angeles, and an Advisory Committee made up of film and television producers, major studio executives and other industry leaders from key Hollywood companies was created to advise Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. Held at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, one of the Committee’s monthly meetings sparked a suggestion for an informational communication tool that would address Los Angeles filming issues. I took that idea and ran with it, and in the summer of 1986 I published the first issue of Location Manager Update.
As film commissioners surfaced to promote their regions, they looked to our widely read publication as a vehicle to reach the Hollywood production community. In 1987, the magazine was renamed Location Update until 2001 when it became Production Update. This change was a direct result of our growing readership that included international communities, producers, directors and other filmmakers wanting to know more about technological advances in the industry. Eventually we became P3 Update (P3) to help better identify us as we moved into coverage of preproduction, production and postproduction.  
The last 25 years have been an amazing journey as the pages of P3 continued to address global filmmaking. The core of the magazine’s success has been our dedicated and expanding readership; our partners (including many advertisers and sponsors that grace the pages of P3); and the writers, photographers and staff that have contributed to P3’s long-standing mission to educate and update content creators and visionaries on the next generation of production tools and location information to help them to tell their stories. 
As P3’s founder and publisher, I have experienced a miraculous journey. I’ve been fortunate to travel to disparate parts of the world to visit production communities and meet many leading government officials, including mayors, governors, prime ministers and even a president. I’ve also developed wonderful relationships with the world’s leading filmmakers and manufacturers while communicating information about the evolving technology used to capture content.

Currently, Hollywood and the publishing industry are both experiencing a transformation. The ways of “Old Hollywood” are now a thing of the past as the Internet and new technology change the way consumers experience entertainment. Tablets are taking off and soon any and all information will be made instantly available to consumers, and, at P3, we realize that we need to continually give production updates to our readers. We now provide content in print as well as through our digital edition (a replica of our print edition) via our website, social networking, ENewsletters and emails. If you’re not already part of our P3 Community, we hope that you’ll choose to stay updated like many Hollywood professionals by revisiting our website daily at www.p3update.com.

Thank you for allowing me to be part of your lives during the last 25 years. The P3 staff and I look forward to continuing to bring you informative production updates on the entertainment industry. 

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Several years ago Barber Tech Owner Eddie Barber pitched me on the “Steddiepod,” a device he labeled as “The World’s Most Versatile Camera Support System.” But I saw a problem in that cameras at that time were big and bulky while the Steddiepod system was developed for smaller camera packages that weigh under 7 pounds and who would’ve thought you could shoot a major movie on such a small camera?

Now that many cameras are smaller and lighter, I thought the Steddiepod was worth a second look. With my Canon 5D in hand I recently headed up to the Sundance Film Festival with Barber Tech’s Steddiepod and a new WaCru DSLR Cage. I mounted the WaCru rig to the Steddiepod with a quick release so I could easily grab handheld shots. What an amazing setup!

The Steddiepod was developed long before its time and now Barber has since perfected this amazing camera support system. Not only was the entire system light enough to carry all over Sundance, the setup was quick and easy and helped me capture some amazing shots. For instance, the filmmakers’ reception held at the Sundance House was so packed that I couldn’t get near the podium. So I just extended the Steddiepod and supported it against my body to shoot over the crowd. It has a special balancing system that allowed me to get some great stabilized shots even when I was on the go. I also used it as a tripod and stabilizer to get steady shots of the crowd.

I later popped the WaCru rig off the Steddiepod and pushed my way through the crowd to get an interview with a filmmaker. And with the WaCru rig’s elegant design, I could easily attach my Litepanel Micro light and Rode microphone. This setup made it really easy to capture Sundance footage on the go and it saved me a lot of time while I got some fantastic shots.

The Barber Tech Steddiepod costs $499 and can be found at www.barbertvp.com; the WaCru DSLR Cage costs $239 and can be found at www.wacru.com.




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The recent 2011 CES was filled with 3D opportunities. In fact, I ran into Paramount’s VP of Digital Mastering Bryan Ellenburg, who was there to scope out some 3D options. Impressed with Panasonic’s 3D camera solutions, he heard that they now offer 24p recording and wondered if the cameras would work well for 3D films like Jackass 3D, which used bulkier 3D-camera setups.

I later met with Jim Wickizer, marketing manager at Panasonic Solutions Company, who confirmed that the Panasonic just added 1080/24p production capabilities to the AK-HC1800, which delivers exceptional HD video with its 2/3-inch 2.2-megapixel 3-CCD camera. The company had two camera setups on the show floor. The AK-HC1800 has come a long way and was primarily used for high-end broadcast events that are moving towards capturing 3D content. But, with the 1080/24p recording capabilities, Wickizer says this camera is now ideal for shooting projects that want a film look, such as episodic TV production, and it’s ideal for working on location.

Wickizer also demonstrated Panasonic’s AV-HS450N multi-format switcher, which now offers 3D stereoscopic production capabilities. The company added a new 3D board and software that transformed the AV-HS450N HD/SD switcher into a powerful live 3D stereoscopic switcher. Wickizer noted that producers are becoming cost conscious and Panasonic is developing 3D cost-effective tools to help them get exceptional quality for less. The Panasonic booth also had several 3D production monitors to showcase a complete 3D solutions package for broadcasters. Wickizer added that Panasonic will be coming out with some new content-capturing solutions for NAB 2011, but he wouldn’t let those cats out of the bag (no matter how hard I tried to bribe him). I guess we’ll just have to wait a few months until NAB to see the goods.

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