Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


When You Forget the Laws of Life

What's Wrong with This Picture?

I realize that it's easier to see the main characters without extras in those seats. I totally understand how hard it is to get the audience to focus on the right thing when Mrs. Big Hair and Mr. Tall are right in front of your stars. I totally get that.

But if you're going to leave those two seats empty, leave a few other seats empty as well. This will do at least three things:

  1. Make your scene less conspicuously staged
  2. Save you money on extras
  3. Not make your editor hate you for doing something stupid on set that he can't "fix in post"

The Lesson: As you look through your veiwfinder or at your monitor, don't just look at color, lighting and aesthetics. Ask yourself: Does this even make sense?

In this scene from Law Abiding Citizen, it's not just the two empty seats. It's the fact that there are so many people listening to a 10 year old play cello. There should be more empty seats and/or less nice suits with some kids.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor



Bad day of coding. I totally don't know JavaScript and I killed a test website.

Sad times.

So, to brighten things up I'm sharing with you my official Chuck badge:

Licensed Nerd

Get your own badge via the Chuck Me Out iPhone app. Some fun stuff there.

Now if only watching Chuck also improved my coding skill...

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Chrome Extensions

Firefox is awesome. Primarily because of all the Add-ons you can get for it.

But Chrome is fast. Really fast. Perfect if you just need to look something up really quick or perform a task that--for whatever reason--kills Firefox. In my case, I no longer use Firefox with my RSS reader because it can't handle the hundreds of blogs I follow. So I use Chrome. I also use Chrome when I need to update a website because it seems to handle multiple processes in tabs better.

But Chrome was missing something. It didn't have all those nifty tools that I could tack onto Firefox when I needed a powerhouse packed with resources. Until now...

Chrome Just Got Better

I rarely look at ads on Facebook, but I noticed that Chrome now has Extensions.


Granted, they don't have NoScript yet. But they do have a version of AdBlock. And that is absolutely a step in the right direction. (Of course, if I had ads blocked would I have missed the fact that Chrome can now block ads...?)

Seriously, friends, keep an eye on Chrome. Google seems to be pretty serious about this whole browser/OS thing and this is a very good step forward.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Attention Spans

I watch many movies with my finger on the fast forward button. I didn't used to, but at some point a couple years ago I discovered that many filmmakers just couldn't seem to get to their point fast enough. Rather than waste my time waiting for them to get around to progressing their tale, I could help them with a simple press of a button.

Some movies are so bad I even start skipping scenes. I think one two and half hour movie took me three minutes to get through.

I don't suffer boredom well when it's inflicted by people who can't do their job.

On the other hand, I completely disagree with the seemingly common idea that "kids these days" have short attention spans brought on by the evils of MTV's "quick cutting." I don't buy it for a minute.


Sure, kids aren't going to sit through the forty-five minutes of floating spaceships and classical music in 2001: A Space Odyssey... but why should they? That opening hour is nothing more than Kubrick showing off. He certainly isn't telling a story.

And while we may not have the patience for the slower pace of older movies, we'll happily sit through a Lord of the Rings Extended Edition marathon. We may not want to waste 120 minutes on a movie that, with modern editing and a more advanced film audience, could have been over in under and hour. But we'll happily while away hours upon end in catching up on our latest favorite TV show.

So, no, we've not lost our ability to keep our attention focused for long periods of time. Rather, we're just more astute when it comes to recognizing an older form of storytelling that progresses at a rate fit for an audience that no longer exists. Back in the day, editors believed that for an audience to follow the action every single step must be carried out. We must stop the car, get out, close the door, walk up the steps, open the door, walk in and then--and only then--cut to the party inside.

But no more.

We get it. If you were seen exiting your house in the previous shot, we know you traveled to the party.

The modern audience isn't plagued by short attention deficit disorder. No, we're just more savvy and no longer suffer pointless footage gladly.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


I Hate the Look of Film

I don't get to the movie theater often. And the last few films I've seen were digital.

And I love how digital looks on the screen: Vibrant, solid, steady, crisp...

But today and I went to see a movie. It was on film. The trailers before the film set me on edge. The jitter. The graininess. The soft-focus. I couldn't enjoy the trailer at all because the "film look" was killing me.

My revulsion hadn't diminished by the start of the flick. The image was bouncing everywhere, but it wasn't intentional. I was struggling to focus on the story because the presentation was reminding me--with every flicker and bounce--that I was watching a movie on film. It was infuriating.

Thankfully, after about ten minutes I was able to tune out the medium and enjoy the tale. But the medium was a distraction at the beginning.

And that is unfortunate.

So, yes: I hate the look of film. Give me digital, please.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


The Potato, Brush and Finger Paint

Multi-touch technology is on the rise. And with it, lots of talk of gesture control and touch screens and other such devices.

So what will happen to the mouse? Are computer interfaces going entirely tactile with human contact?

I don't think so.

I'm fairly sure the mouse will remain for quite a while longer. The simplicity, control and options that mice provide are too numerous to give up. Though, when trying to draw it is like using a potato.

Which is why I love my pen tablet. It is precise and fast: Exactly what I want from an interface tool.

But fingers? The results are about as good as finger paint. Fun sometimes and moderately functional, but hardly precise. So while it will continue to be useful on small devices for fun as well as a few "real" tasks, it's not going to take over the home computer world.

But I hope that multi-touch is used to advance the tablet interface. It would be awesome to move beyond the world of the fine point pen and begin to be able to use brushes and textured tools--like sponges--to "paint" on our computers.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Pet Peeve: Streaming Video

Streaming video is amazing technology that didn't exist a decade ago. I can watch episodes of a brand new show online with only five commercials breaking it up. And I'm not just talking web-quality clips. I'm not even talking about DVD quality clips. I can pull, across the internet, a full HD image in real time.

...most of the time.

Dreaded Buffering

Here's the deal, video content delivery people:

I don't mind waiting if, and only if, I can buffer/download the entire thing. If you only give me a few "buffer bars" and no more, you're ruining my viewing experience. If, for whatever reason, my internet is slow or your server is being slashdotted and I can't get my 1080p image to play in real time... you need to let me cache the video, not just buffer.

It does me little good to watch 15 seconds of a show, only to have to wait four minutes for the next 15.

So, please, take a cue from QuickTime and YouTube: Let me get the entire show preloaded if I want.

I know, I know: Doing so will increase the amount of data you have to serve out because people won't get as fed up with your site and abandon you. I realize this. But consider the alternative: You don't have to resubmit the data if they want to rewind and watch a part again.

That's got to be worth something.

Thank you for considering my plea.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor