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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

John Cleese on Creativity

Here are some lectures by John Cleese on creativity:

Audio for Film-making with DSLR

I have been wanting to capture better audio when shooting using my GH1. After a few hours of browsing what I found was that it was possible to setup a seperate system to record audio alone while your video is recorded on your DSLR (this is refered to as the two system). Both styles of capturiing audio (either using on-camera or using a seperate system to capture audio) have their advantages and disadvantages. While is it possible to record audio on-camera it might not produce best results (How would you capture audio of right quality if a couple of actors are far away from the camera and the others are closer?) Similarly the two system method needs the audio captured to be sync-ed with video during editing which could be combursome.
While I was personally tilting towards the "two-system" I also found that it was possible to capture the same audio that your seperate audio setup can capture on your DSLR too. This can be done by setting up your "two system" and then running the monior feed of your audio recorder like a Zoom H4n to  your DSLR's mic input.

Here are some links that canhelp you with your research on this subject:

Monday, November 25, 2013

For Photographers

Someone forwarded me this link telling me to take a printout of this and sneak under my spouse's pillow :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Art of Lens Whacking

I liked the look of the video so much that I was thinking about it for a few nights and then started to explore to find out how Hugo could have achieved it. Now I am very confident that he has used what is called the "lens whacking" technique. But he has really mastered the art because his video looks so very nice and dreamy!
Simply put it is to detach the lens from the camera body and keeping it closer to the mount when recording so as to allow light leak and achieve some kind of tilt-shift effect.
See here for some write-up on this technique:
Let me know if you have employed this technique to shoot your videos.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Audio for film making with DSLRs

A few days ago it dawned on me that I have been making videos with poor audio quality - actually I dont know how to capture better audio!
So I started searching the web for ways to capture better audio and found this good post:

Next - Hugo has produced a wonderful music video with a Panasonic GH2! check it out here:
He has used a Zoom H4N to capture audio. He has recorded the guitar  in stereo with the H4N and has recorded vocals with a Cardioid Condenser Microphone Studio Projects B1 attached to H4N. Okay I have to figure out if I can start with these...
Here is another pointer to capturing audio in H4N:

Wondering why I cant capture audio directly in my laptop (instead of H4N)... I will keep looking.

Any DSLRs that can Shoot at 4K?

You might know this but I was trying to figure out if there were any DSLRs that can shoot at 4K. Finally, the find: Canon EOS-1D C can shoot videos at 4K. But that comes with a hefty price tag of $12K. :(

Here is what Vincent Laforet shot with this camera:
Damn! that stedicam gadget is expensive!!

Let me know if you know of any other cameras that can do 4K.
(Not DSLRs: I know Go-Pro can shoot at 4K but I was told that under low light the video quality is horrible. The other one is of course Blackmagic Production Camera 4K at $4K)

20 Filmmaking Tips For Filmmakers

Here are some tips:

Anything else you care to add?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Free Video Editors

After the last post I started to explore a little to find a free video editing software (NLE) and found the following. Am sure there are more...if you happen to know of any such software do let me know.

Friday, July 19, 2013

VideoPad on Windows...

Have you used the video editing software VideoPad? (I am in no way related to VideoPad.) My friend claims that VideoPad is better for use on Windows (they have a free version for non-commercial use)... he has been using it and here is his latest footage. He is a mountain biker and seems to be pretty good one too. Check out:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Free Stock Footage and Green Screen Resources

I wanted some smoke in one of my test footage so I googled and found this article.
Really nice collection of free footage.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Canon EOS-M Mirrorless Digital Camera with EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Lens

One of my friends forwarded to me this - seems impressive.

It seems that this camera can do video at 1080p/24 too! But of course I see folks complaining about the rolling shutter and moire issues.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Design patterns and software architecture

Here is a very nice article on solution architecture:

This is a very nice article and having worked in for large companies in similar capabilities I can relate to many aspects the author has highlighted. Here is his conclusion:

Based on the lessons that I learned, this is the advice that I would give to an architect who might be faced with the same situation:
· Understand that many problems have been solved in the past. When defining a software solution, ... look for patterns that solve similar problems, and leverage those patterns into frameworks to solve your particular problem.
· Consider creating frameworks as part of an initial release. ... defining frameworks early in a development effort ... can be highly beneficial in terms of productivity gains... .
· Convince management that future refactoring will have to be accounted for. No matter how good are the initial architecture and design, changes will be required as the product matures. ...
· Make sure that you can map all functionality back to system requirements, either implicit or explicit. In most cases, the job of an architect is to deliver a solution. Most business sponsors will not care how eloquent a solution is, if it does not deliver the functionality that is required by the business.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Get inspired!

Today I was searching for story ideas and landed on this site. One Sentence seems to be a good site to get inspired!

Here are a few one-liners that are still lingering...

“Today you shaved your hair into a mohawk to make my mom laugh over losing hers to chemo and today I realized that you are my hero.”
“I loved everything about her, so I introduced her to all my friends, and they loved her too, so she slept with all of them. “
“My wedding cost $6700 and my divorce cost $16425, both were worth it.”
“Today I washed my mother’s hair for the first time.”
“I don’t really want to be an engineer but I REALLY don’t want to be a failure to my parents.”
“We had a lovely day, my oldest son and I, wine tasting and driving through the foothills to celebrate his birthday, only because I did not tell him that just the previous day I was diagnosed with cancer.”
“All the skills I acquired as a violent boy have made me a helpless man.”
“It’s easy to make fun of the 26-year-old girl who is afraid of fireworks until you find out that it’s not the fireworks themselves but the sounds that remind her of gunshots.”
“In almost three years of not seeing her, I’ve swallowed oceans of booze, smoked cartons of cigarettes, slept with a dozen different women, been arrested twice, found God, fired God, and nearly died at the hands of five angry men; and I still can’t get over her.”
“In just those four words written on a brightly glowing computer screen, I realized that I’d lost the ability to trust anybody ever again.”

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Have you ever wondered if you could have a cheat sheet of various lighting setup that shows the subject would show up?
Someone has attempted to do just that here:
Hmmm the only problem seems to be the fact that they have not called out where they had positioned the lights. So here is what photographer Pat David had done using an open source 3D modeling software called Blender 3D:

How good a photographer are you?

This is really child's play but is good for beginning photographers to understand shutter speed and aperture.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to write a story?

I have been quiet for a while now; I am writing down a script for a short...
So here I am back to square one!! has some basic info on how to write a story. Writing as story is such an organic act which is an art in itself but this link puts a framework to work off of. Browse through that link for details but here is the gist:
  1. Write a short sentence of the fundamental concept which drives the plot.
  2. Create a basic road-map of what will happen in your story. 
  3. Flesh out your story. Easier said than done!
  4. Write it down in proper format.
  5. Polish your work. 
  6. Get feedback. 
  7. Revise as necessary. 
Here are a few links that I think can help you get off the writer's block and kick start you with some ideas:
Here are few tips from WritingForward that I like - again fundamentals that we all forget when we take a deep dive:
  • Deepen the plot. Most plots are actually pretty simple, but things get really interesting when you introduce subplots or make the plot richer by complicating it: the hero’s goal is to save the girl but what if he will gain something great if he doesn't save her?
  • Add a twist. Some plots plod along pretty predictably. Give your story some zing by tying the plot up in knots. Nothing keeps readers glued to the page like plot twists and cliffhangers.
  • Enhance the dialogue. Are all the characters speaking in the same voice? It’s probably your voice. Give each character distinct expressions. Maybe one character says “dude” a lot while another is constantly assigning pet names to everyone he meets.
  • Push conflict to the brink. There’s a reason the hero never diffuses a bomb until one second to detonation. Get your characters so deep into conflict, readers start to believe there’s no way out. Then, save the day!
  • Strengthen the themes. You can plan which themes will be threaded through your story, but if you don’t, themes will emerge on their own. Identify the themes, then strengthen them. If you notice redemption is a theme, have a character humming “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley.
  • Introduce an archetypal character. These characters stand out and feel familiar. Introduce a mentor or a trickster or give one of your existing characters some archetypal qualities.
  • Give your story greater meaning with symbols and symbolism. A white rabbit marks the beginning of an adventure, water indicates birth and rebirth, winter symbolizes death. Create your own symbols (like the mocking jay in Hunger Games) and look for objects of importance that can become symbols, such as a pen, pendant, or some iconic image.
  • Add tension and intrigue to the plot by making a deal. One character wants something that another character has. To get it, she has to strike a deal. The higher the stakes, the more riveting the read.
  • Use repetition for emphasis. Repetition works especially well with symbols. A boy gives a girl a pen when he goes away to college and says “Don’t forget to write.” She writes, but he never writes back. She holds on to the pen and the hope that he’ll come back for three years. Then, she loses the pen. As soon as she loses it, she meets someone else. The pen makes repeat appearances, emphasizing its relevance to the story.
  • Make the story emotional by killing off a significant character. Some authors have a hard time with this one, but death is part of life. In fact, it’s the one thing we can all count on. Killing a character is almost necessary when your cast is constantly facing danger of a life-threatening variety.
  • Plant a red herring in your story. It confuses readers in a delightful way. It looks like the heroine will fall for the charming doctor but it turns out the man she really loves is a dreamy architect. Red herrings work especially well in mystery stories.
  • Let your characters be affected by the events that unfold. The point of a story is to show characters experiencing something significant or meaningful, something important enough to change them. By the end, the characters should undergo attitude adjustments, adopt new philosophies, or otherwise evolve from who they were when we first met them.
  • Engage readers with irony; it makes people think. The atheist experiences a miracle. A fugitive on the run gets captured because he saves someone’s life. A fire station burns down.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Canon's 35mm full-frame sensor

Check out:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Java/Technology Tutorials

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Game Theory for Crafting your Movie Scripts

One problem as a director or script writer you would face is to figure out if the ending of your movie that you have proposed will be liked by the audience. How will you figure it out?
Have you heard about the Prisoner's Dilemma? I recently got interested in exploring Game Theory though I have heard about it nearly a decade ago. I have already come across three central themes that are very different at the concept level but as you break them down they are non other than Prisoner's Dilemma in disguise! What is nice about Game Theory is that it offers a way to visualize the results/outcome/payoffs and determine if it will be something that the players would do and if indeed the players chose certain actions then will the onlookers like the result? Yes there is a branch that explores how the observers would react keeping the players aside! Interesting isn't it? Go explore more.
Anyway as I started to learn more I started to think why I hated the endings of some of the great movies of the past - like Butch Cassidy and theSundance Kid though this might have been based on real life incidents),Topkapi(1964), The Great Escape (1963), Italian Job and the like. These are great movies but I hate the endings and I couldn't figure out why. But after learning a little of Game Theory I am inclined to think that movies are like games and the endings are payoffs for various outcomes.When your expectations do no match with the outcome the director has presented then you don't like the ending.
On the flip side you can construct the central theme of your script as a game, explain the options and layout the payoffs - then let the players explore the options and figure out the best if I were to do that I would not end the movie with the option that is bad for both the protagonist and the antagonist!
Check out the Sheriff's dilemma which is nothing but the Mexican Standoff! But the thoughts and analysis would  send you thinking on the kinds of concepts one can imagine for their movies.
Let me know if you have successfully employed Game Theory to craft your movies. Was it successful?

On a philosophical note, life itself can be modeled as a Bayesian Game or a variant of Coalitional and Bayesian Games! And, again I think, as game players with an objective to score more points you have to play your best possible actions as often as possible to be continuously scoring! Have you been doing that with your life? 

And here is a list of movies that use game theory!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

MediaPlayer in JavaFx and Processing

Here is a nice article on writing your own media player using Java and JavaFX.

That was from
You can find the code at:
I had been struggling to get started with JavaFX but somehow I could feel the entry barrier because of the slightly different syntax of JavaFX. However this sample does not look so bad!

Just a few days ago I also learnt that there was something called Processing ( which is popular among artists! And seems like folks use to write media players and what not with processing... so I was curious to see if this was equally powerful or was easier than JavaFX. So I went Google... Google... and found this:
So now it seemed like processing is quite good! Check out the source at has some nice articles on Mobile programming too:

BlueTooth and BlueCove - JSR 82

A while ago I had dabbled with ZigBee and wrote a sample to show how a thermostat can communicate via ZigBee to a PC which can graphically show the temperature; the idea was to develop a remote interface using which the homeowner can control various aspects(like security, thermostat, lights etc) all controlled and communication over ZigBee. But somewhere along the idea crumbled to a horrible death :) and I lost  the contact who was providing me with the ZigBee controllers and APIs etc.

Few years fast forward and still I find that there are opportunities and possibilities to develop interesting utilities using wireless technologies. BlueTooth is very promising  Here is an implementation on JSR 82 in Java - it is called BlueCove (

The latest implementation is available here:

I just played with the samples and they worked fine...check it out... I have something in mind and once I am through I will share more...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mission Santa Clara

I finally put together a documentary! I have been sitting on this for many months now - probably a good 8 to 10 months :(
It has come out well. Check it out at
Tell me what you think.