About the Amazing 6-Minute Tracking Shot From True Detective

‘True Detective’: How Did They Pull Off That Final Shot?
Director Cary Fukunaga walks us through the epic six-minute take.

Matt Zoller Seitz over at Vulture has a very good article about it too. Here are some more famous tracking shots.

Time Code directed by Mike Figgis was a quad split of four real time cameras.

And let’s not forget the impressive Russian Ark.

Children of Men directed by Alfonso Cuaron.

Children of Men – every shot 45 seconds or longer

The Art of Steadicam


Cinematography VFX

Peter Anderson ASC wins Gordon Sawyer Award for his contributions to 3-D technology. Updated.


Congratulations to Peter Anderson ASC on getting the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for his contributions to 3D technology. Peter is a wonderful guy and a very brilliant DP. I got a chance to work with him on Muppetvision 3D at Disney. He does all the theme park 3D films for both Disney and Universal.

“Without the art what would the science be, without the science, what would the art be,” said Anderson, who was presented his award by Douglas Trumbull.

From Variety; The acceptance by Rhythm & Hues vets was especially emotional. Hans Rijpkema thanked R&H founder John Hughes “for creating a community spirit that made us do better work and made us better people.” Perry did not have to mention that R&H went bankrupt before winning the VFX Oscar last year for “Life of Pi” and what’s left of the company no longer has anything resembling the spirit Hughes built there.

We should also congratulate Curtis Clark ASC, chairman of the ASC technology Committee and Lou Levinson, the Colorist of many of Steven Spielberg’s films, who, among others, were presented with a Technical Achievement Award for the American Society of Cinematographers Color Decision List (ASC CDL), technology developed to provide faithful interchange of color corrections across different color correction systems.

Update: Story in American Cinematographer.

Full list of winners.

Animation VFX

RHYTHM & HUES: Life After Pi Trailer

Here is the trailer for an upcoming documentary on the VFX industry. I really don’t understand why this is happening other than bad management and bad business models. I know cheap labor enters into it but you get what you pay for. I just saw White House Down on DVD and the CG looked fake, nowhere near as good as say Jurassic Park from 20 years ago.

In February of 2013, John Hughes, founder of Rhythm & Hues Studios, regretfully announced that the company was going bankrupt. With no way to pay his hard working employees, and no other options, hundreds were laid off. Two weeks later, they won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for “Life of Pi.”

These were tragic, ironic times, and as employees, we were compelled to document it. As the bankruptcy finalized and layoffs continued, we began filming – watching helplessly as one of the most prestigious VFX companies in the world crumbled. As we all asked how this could happen, many stood up in outrage, sounding the alarm that this incident was not an isolated event, but a reflection of greater problems.

The old model of the movie business is passing away, yet modern-day Hollywood grips it ever more tightly. VFX companies and artists are treated as mere cogs in the machine, with little regard to creating a sustainable, collaborative working relationship. This will lead not only to the demise of more VFX companies, but to increasing instability industry wide.

Rhythm & Hues reached new heights in visual effects mastery with its stunning work on “Life of Pi,” yet they still fell into bankruptcy.

Cinematography Disney People

Dean Cundey ASC

Congratulations to Dean Cundey, ASC on his Lifetime Achievement Award. I have met Dean twice, once at the ASC Clubhouse and again at Cine Gear Expo.  He also worked on Honey, I Shrunk the Audience! seen in the Disney Theme Parks.

From the ASC;

Acclaimed filmmaker John Carpenter presented the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award to Dean Cundey, ASC. Cundey first attracted widespread attention when he teamed with Carpenter on Halloween (1978). The two filmmakers went on to collaborate on The FogEscape from New York,The ThingHalloween II and III, and Big Trouble in Little China. Cundey’s work on Robert Zemeckis’ landmark, live-action film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), garnered him both Oscar and BAFTA nominations. Cundey’s credits include the Back to the Future trilogy, Romancing the StoneDeath Becomes Her,HookApollo 13Jurassic ParkWhat Women WantGarfieldThe HolidayThe Spy Next DoorJack and JillCrazy Kind of Love and the upcoming releases Walking with the Enemy and Carry Me Home.

Dolby Film Sound People Technology

Ray Dolby

I have always been impressed by Ray Dolby. Like Steve Jobs and Edwin Land, who himself inspired Jobs, he was a great combination of creative technology and business acumen. He was a member of the Ampex team that perfected the first Quad video tape recorder.

Dolby has posted a very nice tribute to Ray Dolby. Local 695 also has a nice article about him, including links from their Quarterly Magazine about his contributions to film sound.

A Tribute to Ray Dolby

by Scott Smith, CAS and David Waelder

To be an inventor, you have to be willing to live with a sense of uncertainty, to work in this darkness and grope towards an answer, to put up with anxiety about whether there is an answer.

–Ray Dolby

The Dolby name appears so often on films that it has become like Kleenex or Xerox, a generic for noise reduction. But the many innovations of Dolby Labs are largely the work of Ray Dolby, a man of prodigious ingenuity. He died of leukemia on September 12, 2013, at age eighty, at his home in San Francisco. Born January 18, 1933, in Portland, Oregon, Mr. Dolby was hired straight out of high school by Alexander Poniatoff of Ampex Corporation. At the time, Mr. Dolby had volunteered as a projectionist for a talk that Mr. Poniatoff was giving. Impressed by his talents, Poniatoff invited the young Mr. Dolby to come to work with him at Ampex, where he contributed to the design of the first quad videotape recorders.

After completing studies in electrical engineering at Stanford and physics at the University of Cambridge, Ray Dolby invented a system of high-frequency compression and expansion that minimized recorded hiss. He formed Dolby Labs in 1965 to bring this noise reduction system, called Dolby A, to market. Mr. Dolby later turned his attention to the problems of sound recording for motion pictures, which still relied on decades-old technology. His endeavors would lead to the introduction of a surround sound system that could be duplicated using traditional optical soundtrack printing techniques. It replaced the expensive and cumbersome printing techniques previously used for big-budget films.

At Dolby Labs he is remembered as much for mentoring a new generation of scientist/engineers as for his particular innovations. He was a scientist who expanded creative horizons for artists.

His contributions are covered in greater detail in Scott Smith’s series “When Sound Was Reel” in the Summer 2011 and Winter 2012 issues of 695 Quarterly. These are available at:

When Sound was Reel-7

When Sound was Reel-8


Ray Dolby Tribute from Dolby Laboratories on Vimeo.



Diane Disney Miller 1933-2013

As a former Disney Imagineer, I was very saddened at the passing of Diane Disney Miller on November 19, 2013. Her obituaries mentioned the Walt Disney Concert Hall, but I thought the best thing she did for her father was the Walt Disney Family Museum.

Diane Disney and the Storytellers Statue at Disney California Adventure Park © Disney. All rights reserved.
Diane Disney and the Storytellers Statue at Disney California Adventure Park © Disney.

Diane talks about The Walt Disney Family Museum on CBS Sunday Morning News.

Here is the Walt Disney Family Museum Newsletter about Diane.

Breaking Bad Scripts and Writers


We went to the Writer’s Guild Theater to see the writing staff of Breaking Bad. Wonderful event, a lot of funny stories and interesting information. The event was moderated by Glen Mazzara from The Walking Dead and included Sam Catlin, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchinson, George Mastras, Moira Walley-Beckett, Thomas Schnauz, and  Vince Gilligan.

Vince Gilligan
Vince Gilligan

We also got to talk to Peter Gould.

Peter Gould
Peter Gould with Laura

Here is a recap of what was said via Collider. However I must make some comments about that article here. First, Gilligan said that Walt changes during the run of the show. Marshall Dillon on Gunsmoke never changes as a form of TV “enforced stasis.” In discussing Walt’s (or anybody’s) motivation, they called that figuring out what is inside the character’s head. The best quotes; About coincidence, “If it’s bad for the character, then it’s Kosher.” About scientific accuracy, “I just have to write convincingly, not accurately.” “Mystery is good, confusion is bad.”