The Man-Machine

A whole new RoboCop stomps the mean streets of future Detroit

Released during the highly competitive summer of 1987, the modestly budgeted RoboCop managed to do more than "stay out of trouble" (as its titular character was known to intone). The face of cybernetic law enforcement held his own against many a higher-profile entry that same month, besting both Stanley Kubrick and James Bond at the box office. ... Read more

Triple Threat

With his Canon EOS C300 in tow, indie filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier writes, directs and shoots Cannes and Sundance fave Blue Ruin

Writer-director-cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier looked at a bunch of cameras before diving into his sophomore feature Blue Ruin, a revenge drama whose prolific festival run bowed out at Sundance in January, having scooped up a FIPRESCI prize at the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes. Saulnier didn’t want to test these cameras in the usual environments... Read more

Naval Gazing

Although shot on film, NCIS mixes numerous digital formats to help create a unique action-drama series

In this age of network conservatism, the Don Bellisario-created series NCIS is nothing short of a phenomenon. There are hundreds of fan clubs and blogs, and hundreds of thousands of rabid fans known to interrupt major meetings to make sure the TiVo is set for the week’s episode, schedule vacations around NCIS marathon weekends and haunt video... Read more
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Digital Noir

Cinematographer Bill Pope, ASC, uses a brash color palette to bring a classic comic strip to the big screen

You only live twice; once when you are born and once when you look death in the face. Although the preceding was a haiku ascribed to James Bond by his creator, novelist Ian Fleming, it might also be the motto for Denny Colt, late of the police force and currently hunting—or is it haunting?—ne’er-do-wells who plan and scheme against his beloved... Read more

An Epic Journey: Ellen Kuras Discusses Oscar Winning Movie The Betrayal

Ellen Kuras, ASC, makes use of both film and digital to capture codirector Thavisouk Phrasavath and his family’s journey from Laos to America in The Betrayal (Nerakhoon), which was filmed over 23 years

Ellen Kuras, ASC, earned Oscar® and Film Independent’s Spirit Award nominations for The Betrayal (Nerakhoon). She produced, directed and shot this extraordinary documentary, which paints a vivid and compelling picture of a Laotian family that migrated to the United States as political refugees after the war in Vietnam ended during the mid-1970s. Kuras... Read more

HD Independents: A Prolific Indie Filmmaker

Indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg discusses the ins and outs of low-budget filmmaking

In current times, it seems the dream for most aspiring artists is no longer to write the next great American novel, but to make the next great American independent film. Case in point: At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, there were yet again a record number of feature-film submissions—3,661 compared to 850 a decade ago. Even for the lucky... Read more

Public Enemies

Shot with the Sony F23, Public Enemies re-creates the Depression-era 1930s in modern high-def

When director Michael Mann and cinematographer Dante Spinotti, ASC, got together to discuss their fifth pairing, their first thought was to bring the 1930s world of John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) to the screen in a more classic kind of approach. The characteristics of film stock naturally support images of that era. However, "Michael always brings... Read more

The Road Well Traveled

Shooting a low-budget feature film with a small HD camera and one light has big challenges, but offers great rewards

For this edition of HD Independents, HDVideoPro takes a look at the indie road film Bomber, which made its debut at this year’s South By Southwest film festival. Written and directed by Paul Cotter and shot by cinematographer Rick Siegel, Bomber tells a bittersweet story of an elderly British man, who along with his wife and adult son, takes a... Read more

On Thin Ice

Like an Ice Age version of The Wages of Fear, Ice Road Truckers takes HD shooting to the extreme

Take mind-numbing, minus-60º temperatures, plenty of ice and snow, huge 50-ton payloads, add a little Mad Max craziness, and you get some idea of what’s involved in Ice Road Truckers, the hypnotically addictive reality show that has found great success on The History Channel. Now in its third gear-crunching season, the show, produced by Thom... Read more

Cloud City On A Shoestring

Comedy Central’s Key and Peele delivers sketch humor with style and economy

Written by and starring MADtv veterans Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, Comedy Central’s sketch comedy series Key and Peele has emerged as something of a sleeper hit for the network. Already renewed for another season, just weeks after the third season began airing last fall, the series features a wide variety of humorous bits (more than 200... Read more
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