Quentin Tarantino and War Movies

August 18, 2009 by Samantha Halfon · Leave a Comment
Filed under: MicroBlogging 

Quentin Tarantino talks about war movies, which and why they inspired him (french). Awesome http://bit.ly/JVPyb

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Aquatic Photography

August 17, 2009 by Derrick Faw · 3 Comments
Filed under: Equipment, Photography 

After just coming back from vacation in Tunisia, it is now time to sort out and process all of our pictures. Our primary camera is the Canon EOS 350D (known as the Canon Digital Rebel XT in the United States). Our trip was to a seaside resort. Knowing we would be spending a lot of time doing water based activities, we thought it would be nice to be able to take some photos in the water or from the boats. Since we only wanted something to experiment and play with, we chose to find  a compact camera suitable for the job.

A search on Amazon landed us with the Easypix Aqua W311. At an affordable price we got a pretty nice compact camera for our needs. It seems this particular model is sold only in European markets, the American equivalent is the SVP Acqua DC-1231. Both are pictured below.

Easypix W311 Technical Specifications

aquaw311-SVPAcqua DC1231

The camera performed above our expectations. It can be used with or without the water housing. There is no problem loosing it with the included wrist strap, not to mention it floats nicely. Here are some photos we took at the Club Med Djerba la Fidèle (Thanks to Samantha’s siblings for being great models). The photo links have been scaled down from (2048 x 1536 landscape) to be more appropriate for this website.

Club Med Djerba la Fidele BeachClub Med Djerba la Fidele SailingClub Med Djerba la Fidèle SimonClub Med Djerba la Fidèle DebClub Med Djerba la Fidele Swimming


Some amazing examples of aquatic photography can be found on the WaterHousing Surf Photography Group on flickr.

Digital water photography has finally went mainstream and affordable to the average consumer. There is a wide variety of compact as well as professional rigs available. B&H Photo Video carries a complete line of gear to make your existing cameras waterproof, as well as  waterproof cameras. There you can also find complete instructional and buying guides. The following are some nice examples of what you can find on today’s market.

Liquid Image Digital Underwater Camera Mask

Liquid Image Digital Underwater Camera Mask

Pentax Optio W80 Digital Camera

Pentax Optio W80 Digital Camera

Snap Sights SS02 35mm Underwater Camera

Snap Sights SS02 35mm Underwater Camera

SVP Acqua DC-1231 Digital Camera

SVP Acqua DC-1231 Digital Camera

GoPro Digital HERO 3 Sports Wrist Camera

GoPro Digital HERO 3 Sports Wrist Camera

Nimar NI303D Underwater Housing (Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT / 350D)

Nimar NI303D Underwater Housing (Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT / 350D)

Tataouine – Tatooine

August 16, 2009 by Derrick Faw · 2 Comments
Filed under: Cinephile, Photography 

Star Wars In AfricaStar Wars fans know well the planet of Tatooine, the boyhood home of Anakin and Luke  Skywalker. Recently we had an opportunity to visit Tunisia, and to my surprise we found the city of Tataouine. Many of the Tatooine scenes from Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode I: The Phantom Menace were shot on location in this region. One day we took an excursion in the areas surrounding Tatouine to what seemed to be a different planet in itself. Situated on the rim of the Sahara Dessert, it is a hot, dry, and barren place. For what it lacks in comfort, it makes up for in beauty and mystery. The terrain varies from sand dunes to picturesque landscapes typical of a John Ford western. If I had realized the potential of seeing Star Wars sites, perhaps I would have planned the trip a bit different. For information on how you could plan your own trip, check out Tunisia.com. Mark Weller, a filming location enthusiast, has put together a nice page on Star Wars in Tunisia.


The only actual location my tour included was the Ksar Hadada. It was once a fortified grainary used by the Berbers. George Lucas used it for some of the slave quarters scenes at Mos Espa in The Phantom Menace. Our tour guide was actually an extra during the shoots here.

Ksar Hadada

Mos Espa

Mos Espa Scene from The Phantom Menace

Photos taken August 2009

Ksar Hadada

Ksar Hadada

Aside from the Star Wars attractions the area is rich in scenery and history. The following are some more photos taken during the trip.

Amazing One Piece Dinning Room, Benches, Table carved out inside a mountain.

All Photos took with our Canon EOS series Camera

Batch resize your photos with Apple Script

August 14, 2009 by Samantha Halfon · 2 Comments
Filed under: Computing, Photography 

We usually take a lot of photos when traveling. After we return, the photos go through the following work fow:

  1. Copy the photos from the Compact Flash or SD cards to the computer.
  2. Sort/Edit them manually to keep only the greatest ones
  3. Archives the raw material (all the photos before editing) and the selected ones in a folder (which is later on backed up)
  4. Resize the selected photos for Internet sharing (with family and friends only on a private website)
  5. Select and tag some of the above photos for upload to Flickr.

We are probably not the only ones wanting to share photos with our non geeks mothers via a photo gallery online and the resizing step is usually necessary to make their browsing experience more comfortable. We use Simple PHP Gallery Manager for Internet sharing. I use an Apple Script to automatically resize the photos for the Internet Gallery (thanks to MacOsX Hints for sharing the code)

Simple PHP Gallery Manager

Simple PHP Gallery Manager

Batch resize photos Apple Script

The script is located in my Library/Scripts folder. To resize photos, I only have to select them in the Finder and drag them on the script file. The script will then generate an image called export_<Name_of_the_original>.jpg for each selected photo. Of course, Apple Script is Mac only. I have a similar script for Windows/Linux laying around (based on nconvert). If interested, please leave us a comment and I’ll post a follow up to this article.

The interest of Apple Script resides in its ability to pilot other applications (like the Finder in the following example) to automate tasks (in the same way as Photoshop tasks). And the power of the Apple Script Editor is the ability to record what we are doing and turn that into a script (using Automator for example).

The code

on open some_items
repeat with this_item in some_items
end try
end repeat
end open
to rescale_and_save(this_item)
tell application “Image Events”
set the target_height to 600
– open the image file
set this_image to open this_item
set typ to this_image’s file type
copy dimensions of this_image to {current_width, current_height}
if current_height is greater than current_width then
scale this_image to size target_height
– figure out new height
– y2 = (y1 * x2) / x1
set the new_width to (current_width * target_height) / current_height
scale this_image to size new_width
end if
tell application “Finder” to set new_item to ¬
(container of this_item as string) & “ex” & (name of this_item)
save this_image in new_item as typ
end tell
end rescale_and_save

Use the script

  1. Open Script Editor (in Application or using Spotlight)
  2. Copy/Paste the code in the editor
  3. Edit the target_height variable to whatever you need (in pixels)
  4. Save the script to your Library/Scripts folder


The script is available for download.


Some Internet gallery (inclusing SPGM) also need a thumbnail file. It is of course possible to modify this script to generate two pictures (one for display, one as thumbnail) for each selected photo.

Apple Script

Apple scripting allows you to automate most recurring tasks and customize your Mac OS X experience. I’ve recently spanned through an Apple Script Book I got at our local library called “The Missing Guide“, it seems very powerful. For more information on Apple Script, check out there resources:

The Film That Could Have Been – Legal Matters In Production

August 12, 2009 by Derrick Faw · 2 Comments
Filed under: Filming, Legal, World Wide Angle 

nooscarAs many other inspiring filmmakers, we have several ideas for projects we want to work on. Recently an opportunity came up for us to work in conjunction with someone else to make a documentary. Early on it became evident that the film had great potential. The prospects of a lucrative film can definitely get one’s hopes up. Most importantly for us though, was the chance to get solid recognition for our work. After most of the pre-production was finished, we were forced to drop out of the project. There is nothing or no one to blame but our own mistakes. Unfortunately we went into the project excited and with blind trust to find out later that our partner was not on the same wavelength as us.

We decided that we needed assistance in a very important filmmaking skill, that of people skills. On this particular project, the other person proved to be a good talker, which had us feeling pretty confident that we were going in the right direction. Because of our partner’s personal connection with the subject of the film, we all thought it was only smart to use them as the front person for the project. Little did we realize at the time, this would undermine the partnership we had invisioned.

Gradually a feeling of tension began to rise about how the profit and credits should be distributed. There were also questions of differences in artistic opinion. Finally, the inevitable confrontation came to a head. Needless to say it did not go well. Our partner had decided that they should receive virtually all the profit and credit for the film.  We were merely employees working on wages of promises and a slight mention in the credits. This was a slap in the face when we had done most of the work up to this point. So with no way to even come to a compromise, we felt it was best for us to take the lesson as learned and move on to other projects. I am happy to say within two days, two more projects came to us that we are very excited about and look forward to start talking about on this blog.

With the creation of these new projects hopefully we have learned better to put our ducks in a row. Where did we make a mistake to begin with? I believe it was by not deciding how the partnership would work at the time of the project’s creation. We had actually discussed it briefly, just saying “lets not worry about this yet, lets see if we can do it first”. It was mentioned that we would not try to take advantage of the other and so on. Well as they say, talk is cheap.

It seems to be a common mistake of new filmmakers, to put the art in front of the legal aspects.  Unfortunately this is something we have to deal with. Legal matters have to be delt with precisely and comprehensively. The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers By Thomas A. Crowell is a good starters guide for diving into the legal issues surrounding the entertainment industry.

Consult entertainment attorney before taking any important steps.

Some But Not All – Legal Issues to Consider:

  • Partnerships and collaborations. Have a proper contract from the very beginning so all parties involved know exactly what to expect and to avoid potential problems.
  • Creation. Protect your story or other creative ideas. Obtain proper rights from other’s creative work you incorperate. Such as books, songs, films, etc. If you plan to depict actual persons, be aware of defamation and their right of privacy. A lawyer should be consulted for your own protection.
  • Contracts for all cast and crew.
  • If you plan to use Union workers, you might have to deal with organizations like the Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild, or the International Association of Theater and Stage Employees.
  • Releases. Personal Releases. Have a proper release form when you film or photograph anyone. Location releases. Some specific locations, such as businesses, buildings, and monuments may require a release. Products and personal property are also subject to needing a release.
  • Distribution. To be able to distribute the film, make sure you have all the proper rights to do so, and all releases are cleared. Know what rights you give up through any method of distribution.
  • Copyright might be important for the finished product and script.
  • Insurrance. Protect yourself. You don’t need it unless or until the enevitable happens. If it does you better have it.

RØDE VideoMic

August 10, 2009 by Derrick Faw · 2 Comments
Filed under: Equipment, Sound 

RØDE VideoMicFor sometime now, we have needed to extend our sound capabilities with a better microphone. Our Canon GL2 came equipped with a direction accurate omni-directional microphone. In most situations it works great, but of course as we began filmming more seriously a better mic was needed. Our first step was to add a shotgun mic that we could use off the camera’s shoe mount or attach to a boom pole. After reading reviews, blogs, and forum post we decided on the Australian made RØDE VideoMic. This is a studio quality microphone for a very affordable price. As the story goes Peter Freedman, the founder and Managing Director of RØDE Microphones, went out looking for a shotgun mic for his MiniDV camcorder. Much to his dismay, the only affordable choices were cheaply made mics with poor sound quality and performance. His mission then became to build an easily mountable mic with pro quality sound and low noise affordable to a wider range of consumers. Thus, RØDE Microphones turned out the VideoMic with great reception from customers. It is noted to be a great microphone for amateur and beginning filmmakers alike. It easily mounts to accessory shoes, tripods, and microphone stands. The integrated shock mounting is also a big plus. From the RØDE Microphones Website: The RØDE VideoMic is a professional grade shotgun microphone. Based on the latest ‘Film industry’ technology, the VideoMic is designed specifically for use with high quality Digital Video Cameras. The microphone exhibits low noise and an unusually wide bandwidth for its size. It is ultra lightweight, yet rugged due to it’s ABS construction. The VideoMic is powered by a standard 9V battery and offers a Low Battery LED status indicator and a switchable high pass filter to reduce unwanted low frequency rumble. The VideoMic attaches to any Camcorder that has the standard camera-shoe fitting and utilizes a stereo mini jack for audio output. Features:

  • Studio recording quality
  • Condenser microphone
  • 9V battery powered
  • Integrated shock mounting
  • Two step High-Pass Filter – Flat or 80Hz
  • Three step PAD – 0, -10, -20dB
  • Rugged reinforced ABS construction
  • Windshield included
  • 3.5mm mini-jack output
  • Integrated cold shoe mount, 1/4″ and 3/8″ thread


  • Power: 9V battery powered
  • Acoustic Principle: Line gradient
  • Directional Pattern: Super Cardioid
  • Frequency range: 40Hz-20kHz, selectable HPF @ 80Hz/12dB/octave
  • Output impedance: 200Ω
  • Signal noise ratio: 74 dB SPL (A – weighted per IEC651)
  • Equivalent noise: 20 dB SPL (A – weighted per IEC651)
  • Maximum SPL: 134dB SPL (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KΩ load)
  • Maximum output voltage Sensitivity: -38 dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (15 mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz
  • Weight: 176gm
  • Dimensions: 65mmH x 250mmW x 102mmD
RØDE VideoMic

RØDE VideoMic


RØDE VideoMic Installation


RØDE VideoMic Stereo Jack Connection


RØDE VideoMic Polar Pattern


RØDE VideoMic Frequency Response

Optional Accessories Deadcat windshield, Boompole, Mini-boompole, VC1 stereo extension lead, VXLR XLR to 3.5mm stereo converter, DS1 desk stand and Tripod

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