Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Indie Films

This is brilliant.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Inspiring Creativity

The creativity of others, when applied well, can be incredibly inspiring. Like the latest from the talented folks of The Guild:

Do You Wanna Date My Avatar

Of course, it can also be depressing because here's a bunch of talented and creative people working together. And people like us? Well, we're alone. And it's hard to do major productions when it's just us... especially if, like me, you can't play music, can't dance, can't act, and struggle with coming up with a great story--not to mention find time in your busy life to put something together.

And that's why I'm in favor of a limited application of illegal derivative works.

Things like this:

Anime Music Videos (AMV)

These kinds of projects let you practice crafting a story--though editing--based on a "script"--a song's tale--while using really quality elements--great animation of things blowing up and professional mixed music--that you'd never be able to make on your own.

Also, the good fan flicks use backstory and themes from the original series to spin things in a while new way, like this one*:

Kyo Will Make A Man Out Of You!

I think these kinds of videos should become legal to post as well because sharing projects like these with the world can inspire others to try their hand at creativity.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

*If you haven't watched Fruits Basket you should, and this video will be so much better if you know the inside jokes.


Printing Pictures

So you need to make a filer for an upcoming picnic.

You go through your pictures and find an awesome one from a recent camping trip you went on. You do a little tweaking to get it looking just so, and you're ready to go.

Hot Dogs

You take your flier file to your nearest CosWalKo's, stick the CD/jumpdrive/flash card into the reader thingy, request 5,000 prints, and pay the nice person behind the counter who informs you your prints will be done in two hours.


Two hours later and all your prints look like this:

Not So Hot Dogs

The grill now looks teal instead of black, the dogs are more yellow than meat, and the whole thing is worthless now.

Lesson 1: Before any print job, do a single copy just to make sure. These proofs are essential. And it's a good idea to ask for one in the professional world too (even if the duplication house balks at the idea, make 'em give you a proof copy anyway).

Lesson 2: What you see, is rarely what you get. And there are sevearl reasons for this:
  1. Every screen is different. Even if it's made by the same company, one screen may be lighter or more blue. There are ways of calibrating monitors, but most of us can't do that and wouldn't know exactly what to do if it was "right" anyway. And if screens can be different, there can be huge variation between what you see on your monitor and what comes out on paper.
  2. The "color profile" is different. Your computer screen images are made up of Red, Green and Blue pixels (RGB), but printers use Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and "Key" [Black] ink (CYMK). While modern technology has made it relatively easy to switch between these two "color spaces," things can be lost in translation. And if you don't translate, the printer has to guess how much Cyan and some other color it needs to mix to make your Blue.
  3. Physics. What you see on your monitor is created by photons emitted from your Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). What you see on a piece of paper are photons bouncing off a specific ink that reflects only a certain part of the color spectrum of light. This huge variation makes it really hard to match darks and lights because one is active and the other passive.

I'm sure there are many other difficulties in all of this--ink and printer quality, software used to interpret the image, paper type--but suffice it to say: Getting a match is really, really hard.

So what can you do about it?

Lesson 3: Shop around. My best friend, when he was trying to find a printer for the photos he meticulously adjusted, sent the same six images to five different printers. Then he compared the prints to what he saw on his computer. By doing this simple experiment, he was able to disqualify three of the printers because the images weren't sharp enough. And after carefully looking at the colors, he decided that one of the printers more closely matched what he saw on his screen.

But even then, it wasn't perfect. He ended up having to always tone down the yellows in his "final" images so they'd look right in print.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


This is How They'd Remind Me...

A few weeks ago, Scott Johnson mentioned on this podcast a Nickelback mashup that combined some songs and showed how they were the same (it starts at 10:55 in the show). [NB: the "d" word pops up now and again]

This put me on a quest for this audio file (because it wasn't linked in the incredibly short "show notes"). This page indicated that there may have been some editing involved, so I dug deeper. Google finally landed me here which includes links to both the song and an NPR article on the subject. It turns out that editing was involved, but that doesn't make the combination of these two songs any less impressive or incriminating.

Nickelback isn't the only group to have similar sounds show up on their albums. Angels and Airwaves has several songs on their debut album that repeat each other (though I am not skilled enough to match them up without many hours of work, not to mention the copyright issues; sorry).

So, what's the difference between these incredibly popular artists and today's worship music that contains about the same number of chord progressions?

Mixing and complexity.

Good bands tend to have slightly more to offer than a couple of guitars, a bass and a piano all playing the same three chords over and over again. Plus, they are often much more subtly mixed and therefore more blended. Which isn't surprising since they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their sound and people like me mix the morning worship set.

And for as much as I'm amused by repeated sounds, it doesn't get much better than City on a Hill where two songs start with the exact same words on the album... twice (tracks 4&5, and 11&12).

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Graphics Cards

I like to know the about the technical side of computers and cameras. But when we walked into computer store today, I really had no idea why one graphics card could be $45 and another $390.

And now I have a slighter better idea.

New and Old Graphics Cards

These cards have more than just Graphics RAM--the extra space dedicated to providing space for giving your pretty pictures. They also have image processing power. The problem is that this number is not made public on the boxes.

So, look for the RAM size and speed (1gig DDR2 vs. 512 GDDR3...), but if you can find out the difference between the 4650 and the 4820, or the 9600 and the 9720, you may discover that the $200 swing is due to the number of processes it can handle (320, we were told, is pretty good for our price range).

<shrug> Who knew?

What to learn a little more? Check out the How Stuff Works article on the subject of Graphics Cards.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor