Monthly Archives: December 2009

Heavy disapointment by Public Enemies

I rented Public Enemies on Blu-Ray today, and it was by far the biggest let down of the year. Where to start ? I’m not a big of Michael Mann, but I really liked Heat and Collateral. When I saw the all-star cast that Public Enemies had, I had high expectations. Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marillon Cotillard…is it really possible to make a bad movie with these guys ? Apparently Mann managed to do it, and did it really well.

I have to admit that I’m not one to easily notice good or bad character development. I usually make my opinion on how much I rooted for the good guy or how much I hated the bad guy for that matter. But Public Enemies is just totally off as far as character development. The characters are shallow, it’s hard to tell one gangster from another since they’re all alike and you barely know their names. You get no background on any character, and not a single character “evolves” during the story.

I also found the story totally uneven. The rhythm is so up and down all the time that it’s hard to get into the movie.

But what really, really sucks about Public Enemies is the photography. It’s a shame that a $100 million movie shot with a $150 000 Sony camera has the same quality of image I could get out of my $4000 camcorder. Some clueless people will blame this on the fact that it was shot in HD, but that is a weak argument. Many great-looking movies have been shot in HD, the best example being Slumdog Millionaire. It isn’t the case for Public Enemies. The footage has no depth, is often very grainy, as if the scene lacked lighting, or as if the camera’s settings were totally off. It feels like watching the 6 o’clock news. And speaking of lighting, it is a total failure. Some shots just don’t feel right. *Spoiler alert* When Depp’s friend is dying in the backseat of a stolen car at night, he’s almost not lit while the back of Depp’s head looks like it is in broad day light. It’s weird because Dante Spinotti was director of photography, and I think he’s been nominated twice for an Academy Award.

Mr. Mann, you’ll have to do better next time…

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Rihanna’s “Hard” video

If there’s one female pop artist I respect in this whole industry, it is definitely Rihanna. In a few years (her breakthrough was in 2005) she’s managed to grow from a pre-made out-of-the-mold pop star to a trend-setter artist. A lot of people accuse her of making darker and darker music, but I think it just sets her apart in the world of pop music (even though her music is really more in the R&B/Hip-Hop/Rock genre) and I have to say that I really like Rated-R.

To prove once more that she is now a fashion icon, she went all out with the costumes in her new video Hard featuring Young Jeezy. The art direction for this video is completely out of this world, photography direction is far from going under the radar too, and Rihanna’s sexy performance is one to remember. Director Melina Matsoukas really outdid herself for this video.

It’s hard (yeah, wordplay) to find a high-quality version on the web right now, but there are a few places to check it out, especially on Rihanna‘s website. There’s a behind the scenes video also to see. Enjoy !

Ten best viral campaigns of 2009

Cool post twittered by The Cool Hunter. A top 10 countdown of the best viral marketing campaigns from 2009 on Stumbleupon.com. Some genius ideas in there. My personal favorite in terms of marketing/contact with client is definitely IKEA’s, who uploaded photos of showrooms on Facebook and let people tag themselves on items, which they automatically won if they were the first to tag themselves.

Take a look, they’re all terrific.

December 7th in CMYK

Well, I finally won’t have to put my diabolical plan in action. I made a movie for the Nikon Festival, which was only opened to US residents, and had it uploaded by a friend from New Jersey. Unfortunately, my submission didn’t make the top 50, so now that I don’t have anything to hide anymore, I can show the video !

It was all shot with the Panasonic HMC150 in 1080p24 with a Letus35 adapter, with Canon FD lenses (28mm 2.8, 50mm 1.4 and 100mm 2.8). Heavy color correction in After Effects afterward, and I will unfortunately say that this is the first time I’ve been dissapointed by the HMC150. The low bit-rate of the original footage just didn’t hold up under the multi-layer color correction. It looks fine down-scaled to 720p on Vimeo, but the original 1080p version doesn’t look too good, especially on a LCD television.

I’ll take the occasion to say to those who think HDSLRs are the way to go for video right now, hold your horses a bit. Footage from most (I say “most” just to back myself, cause I would say ALL) HDSLRs right now have a much lower bitrate than AVCHD footage, so color grading this footage heavily must destroy it way beyond anyone can imagine (I have not tested it yet but…). That’s another debate I won’t get into in this post though.

Anyway, here’s the movie, feel free to give me some feedback.

My Avatar review

I’ve been expecting to see this movie for a long time, but mostly for its visuals and not for its story. Before I start my review, I have to say that the IMAX premiere of the movie in QC was in French, and 95% of French translations very much suck, so maybe my opinion will be a bit off, but I’ll go and see it again in English this week to have an uncorrupted opinion.

First off, I’ll get everything bad I have to say about this movie off my chest right away. Cameron needs to realize he can’t write a movie. Terminator was a melting pot of cliché one-liners, Titanic was very close for that matter, and unfortunately, Avatar keeps Cameron’s track-record intact. The dialogue is horrible, the bad guys are simply too much, and way too often in the movie did I say to my self “this line belonged in the movie Predator”.

Some of the actors aren’t bad, Ribisi is “ok”, but his 5’6, 140 pounds, baby-face physique just doesn’t fit the role of a multi-million dollar corporate/military operation boss. I’d say the best actor in the movie was Zoe Saldana, who was just incredibly believable as a Na’vi, the alien, indigenous population of Pandora, the planet where the whole story takes place.

Once you’re able to get over all this, and you just focus on the 90-foot screen through your 3D goggles, you’re in for one wild ride. Visually, this movie is light-years ahead of anything I’ve ever seen before. My jaw was dropped from the first minute to the last single frame. Cameron promised something new technologically speaking, and he delivered. Everything is just stunning; the colors, the details, the scenery. It is really a 3-hour documentary about a new, beautiful world that you just want to go visit right away. ILM and Weta really pushed the limits in terms of photo-realism CGI. Every character feels so alive and real, and so do the various animal species that live on Pandora.

Cameron delivers in terms of story-telling with the Na’vi. At the end of the movie, you truly think you could write a book about the population of Pandora. Their beliefs, culture and way of living are so well introduced that this new race of beings feels like it has existed right across the street for thousands of years. To be honest, Cameron should have made a movie only about the Na’vi, and excluded any real-life human scene. The movie would have been way better that way.

I have to say though, the movie is one big geek-trip, and if you’re not into Sci-Fi, chances are you won’t like it. But if you have any interest for artistic direction and imaginary stories, this is a movie you have to see, and you have to see it on IMAX 3D.

Work in progress

Last weekend I went to shoot a video with a friend of mine, for a contest that I won’t name, because I’ve been told it’s open only to US residents, and I’m still thinking of a mad plan to bypass this rule by having my video submitted by someone else. Anyway, I’m almost done with it, color correction is 95% done, and here is what it looks like so far.

It was all shot on the Letus35 and the HMC150. I’ll upload/link the final video in a few weeks, so keep checking !

Letterman and Hanks on Tiger Woods

Totally unrelated with what I usually post, but this has to be one of the funniest Letterman moment in history. Click the picture to check it out !