Category: Stories

Like a song

I see my destiny unfolding, I trust, I live. I feel life flowing through me. Like music. Like playing a song, never able stop and fix a dissonant note once it’s played. I can only play it forward. Such is life, a continuous melody, sometimes fast, some times slow, sometimes high sometimes low, a relentless symphony.

As I listen, I learn to harmonize with its crests and valleys, to do the best I can to embellish its sound by being in perfect tune with the orchestra and follow the conductor all the way to the conclusion of the piece only to start anotherone eager to listen till the end.

Slating is overrated, but we have color correction on set.

It’s not new that we realize how technology is making our every day life much easier and productive, but some times I can’t help to think it is making us lazy.

I recently attended a film shoot in which I acted as an assistant editor on set. This basically consists in retrieving data from DIT, the guy that pulls the cards out of the camera (no longer film) and transcodes it (no more dailies) applying a LUT or color correction. In this case they had a full blown Davinci Resolve. As he pulled the footage from the cards, he would a apply the correction and save to 3 drives simultaneously. Really cool and effective use of technology. No more waiting for transfer or LUT application to edit offline. So I would stop by mid day and end of day to get the footage the DP has shot.

With this fast workflow it was easy for me to inspect the footage right away only to notice there was no slates at the beginning or end of each shot or take. This caught my attention and right away asked, “Where are the slates?”. “Over rated” the DIT guy said. “You don’t need them anyway” he said. I took my time to process this assertion and try to find the proper way to reply to his hard conclusion, but I realized it is useless to explain the obvious.

So two cameras needed to be synced, both cameras ran arbitrary time code, not even time of day. And no slates present. As I retrieve data I am used to braking the material down by scenes, camera and take number, a task that became impossible obviously. The script supervisor was making notes but no I had no way to identify the shot other than by the poster picture.

So yes technology is making everybody lazier and lazier (not to the ones that need to fix it). I remember this thing happening in audio when the sound recordist wouldn’t care about the quality of the captured audio claiming things would get fixed in post since they ADR it anyway.

We have color correction on set, but don’t ask for a slate.

A Patch of Grass Houston Astros Commercial

Ever since I discovered drone flying I became hooked with the hobby. I bought my first quad-copter on 2014 and a hexa shortly after. I flew around quite often just to have fun, but the I became interested in the possibilities it presented for cinematography. So I experimented and experimented until I got invited to shoot a commercial for the Houston Astros. I piloted the aerials and Salvador Garza was DP. The commercial was directed by Alvaro Hernandez and cut by David Cochran and Salvador Garza.

One of the drones decided to take a hike after the last shot and smash on a wall barely missing “El grande” the stadium’s new jumbotron.

IMG_0024 Here we are from left to right Gonzalo Arjona (spotter), Claudio Milczewski (producer, spotter) and Matias Lanzi.


We really had a blast doing this, we’re still kids, only the toys get more expensive. What a tough job!

These are the drones we used: DJI Phantom Viosion 2 Plus with proprietary camera (I discourage using this due to navigation stability. The drone lost communication performing a flyaway and smashing into a wall out of the blue). The other drone is an hexa-copter with goPro, this guy got the money shots.

IMG_0018And of course the beautiful Minute Maid park in Houston Texas.


300 Frames per second.

stutterI remember being very young at the movie theater looking at how the fast moving pictures created the illusion of motion. As the projector accelerated, the pictures came to life seamlessly except for a few shots that at times seemed to be stuttering. This is something that troubled me, and as always I needed to know what was it and why was it happening.

With time and observation I came to realize that the stuttering happened on pan shots. The faster they the DP panned, the choppier the movement. At this point it was not hard to decipher that at 24 frames per second, a full screen change would be more prone to perception than a static shot with few areas moving, hence the stuttering effect. Later in life while becoming an audio, video and film professional, I learned the seven second rule and how to deal properly with frame rates and their effects.

Now transitioning to HD, we are moving away from the NTSC standard of 29.97 fps to a more film-like 23.97 bringing back the old stuttering and seven second rule to a higher resolution screen and sharper images producing an even more evident choppiness to the motion.

The seven second rule states that an object in frame takes seven seconds to go from one edge to the other when panning. In any case, far from anything technical about it, here’s a story.

A producer from an agency I don’t usually work for came to me in absolute panic! -What has your editor done with my commercial?- He asked. There are few things our experienced editors can do to destroy a commercial in a controlled post-production environment. So I walked in the room to asses the situation. The producer was complaining about choppy motion in certain shots of the commercial, I assume at this point you know what he was referring to. He blamed everybody and everything, from the editor to the monitor to the light in the room. That’s when I had my flash back to that movie theater in Spain. Needless to say that at this point our experienced editor who already explained things patiently was ready to chop some producer’s head.

I took my time to explain the situation along with the seven second rule at no use. No explanation would bring peace to this tortured soul that escalated the problem to proportions unknown to logic.

Happily produzzilla settled for some interpolation not without destroying Tokio in the process.

There is nothing more harmful than the ego, it will make you blind, def but unfortunately not mute. The things said on an ego trip can never be taken back, be mindful of your ego. Tame the monster and make this world a little bit better.

From now on, we only shoot at 300 frames per second.