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Phil Rhodes

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  1. That's a labour of love just to be able to do monochrome processing! What next, 65mm colour?
  2. I'm not an expert either, but like Joerg, I'd expect to see more sign of the heat of the airliner's engines, especially in the cone directly behind the engines themselves, and in terms of the cooling and spreading of the contrails, which does not seem to occur. I'd expect behaviour to vary by altitude, pressure, humidity and other conditions, but see here. It's a matter of the dynamic range of the thermal imager and it's not necessarily completely unconvincing. It's notoriously difficult to fake thermal imaging footage, either way. I was once asked to do it for a military-themed short film because high resolution thermal imaging cameras are rare and expensive, especially with very long lenses. It's hard to get it to look right, though we were featuring humans. There's some vibration in the thermal imaging shot which appears to be generating absolutely no motion blur, which is slightly suspicious, but thermal imaging cameras may have very odd behaviour as regards shutter speed, so again, while slightly odd, this is far from conclusive. I'd say if this has been faked from the ground up, in a 3D rendering package, or something, it's been done with a reasonable degree of enthusiasm. Just adding in the swirling dots is a more trivial job. The cold trails are a nice touch. But in my view the problem with this is more logical than visual. In the thermal-imaged footage, the camera aircraft appears to fly barely beneath the engine exhaust trails, just a few seconds after the airliner passes. It's a dramatic, dynamic shot, the sort of thing you'd see in an action movie, but if you think about it, it's a really unsafe bit of aviation. I suspect this would count as a critically dangerous failure of separation (an airprox) unless the view is from something like a military combat aircraft which has been specifically tasked to follow the airliner. These aircraft were within seconds of colliding. This opens up other awkward questions about the provenance of this footage. What exactly is claimed about where it came from? Who shot it? Where was it shot? Is the airliner in the cruise, in which case why does it appear to be executing what would count as a fairly tight left turn in the thermal footage. And a right turn in the stereo footage, assuming what we see beyond it is the sea, since you refer to it as satellite material. If it's not satellite material, then the blue we see may be the sky, in which case it's a left turn. If it's in the cruise, it would be travelling at perhaps 450-500 knots and tens of thousands of feet. This is considerably beyond the capability of most things which could reasonably be described as a "UAV." Something like a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper is fairly typical of the general arrangement of unmanned military aircraft likely to be equipped with thermal imaging, with straight wings and a turboprop propulsion system. It typically operates at under 250 knots. They're designed for long loiter times and low fuel consumption, not speed, and would be considerably outpaced by anything Boeing or Airbus have ever made. The only common thing with the speed and altitude performance to intercept a commercial airliner in the cruise is a fighter jet. It's possible some militaries may have high performance drones capable of doing what's shown here but it's certainly not common, which raises the question as to why this particular airliner was of interest to the military. Like so many things of its type, this raises more questions than it answers, and in the end the answer to the question "are there aliens," in a universe as vast as the one we are known to inhabit, the only reasonable answer is "presumably," and that's neither surprising nor controversial. The sad reality is that we have only one example of life existing on a planet to work with, so it's hard to tell, but it's completely plausible that there have been alien civilisations which grew up and died out millennia ago, or alien life which never evolved beyond single-celled organisms, etc. The idea of alien life is not a stretch. The idea of them travelling to earth and bothering airliners probably is.
  3. I use elastic bungee toggles. Gets a bit more tension on the textile and I think it's a little faster to use.
  4. Funnily enough I was just thinking of getting a better meter. I only have an old Sekonic L-398A, and much as it's a classic design, the direct approach of simply connecting a solar panel to a moving-coil voltmeter doesn't work at the sort of low light levels typical of current practice. The aim would be to improve consistency, given I'm more often working on a tiny crew without a dedicated DIT. I don't want to spend a fortune but I think something is in order. Don't even really know what the field contains.
  5. The thing is, this does get quite sensitive to exact sensor sizes, especially if you're talking about short focal lengths. Not everything that has a "Super-35" sensor has something that's exactly as wide as the Academy gate. The Blackmagic Ursa Mini series is pretty big, for instance. It doesn't often have a sufficiently significant impact to really affect things like lens coverage, but the field of view will be more affected. If it's bigger, no big deal, you can always crop in if you've a spit of resolution spare, but if you find an unusually ungenerous sensor size, I could see it being at least noticeable.
  6. So, I went into a camera rental place the other day to buy a couple of cases they were looking to get rid of. "What's it for?" asked the super-helpful chap. "Oh, just some dolly accessories," I responded. "Are you a grip?" he asked.
  7. That's a pretty good example of it, yes. What it does is to keep the light off the background behind her while allowing for a flattering, soft key. It's not even that bright a key, I guess. In that part of the world, you might even complain that a soft key of that type would be unusual, unless the sun is around the other side of the building, say, when it might look bluer. And why are the windows behind them all battened? Still, it's pretty, which I guess is the main thing. It's also built on enough of a scale that people can reasonably move around a bit without it changing too much.
  8. Something along those lines, yes. I just like things that are collapsible. Also, LED strip does give up something in efficiency, with all those resistors. There may be a better way, but perhaps not so easily improvised.
  9. I keep wondering whether I should buy a large amount of LED strip from eBay and just wind it around some 4x4 frames.
  10. Here's a video which amounts to pretty much a detailed how-to. I'd be fairly convinced that how this guy does it is very close to how it was done. Most of it is fairly obviously cloud tank effects. I saw the film yesterday and I thought the shots of what was supposed to be the actual nuclear fireball looked like what they were, which is a much smaller, too small, conventional pyrotechnic effect based on an explosive charge lifting a liquid fuel. At some point, you have to unbend and CG it, or at least do a big cloud tank effect. You can draw a mushroom cloud in the foam on a coffee if you drag the tip of a spoon through it. Cloud tanks are underutilised. The late, great, Doug Trumbull was a big fan. Interesting factoid: you can see the pulse width modulation in the lights if you look closely at his whirling safety pin. I would suspect that in reality a lot of that was shot at low frame rates.
  11. Nothing to do with the original question, but I was always quite taken with the use of chunks of polarising filter to create animated graphics on the backlit panels for Star Trek. Various real world physical phenomena have interesting behaviour under polarised light.
  12. The only digital camera I have ever seen that was even theoretically capable of this was the Viper. It had a mechanical shutter and frame transfer CCDs, so for a brief moment after power-up, before the shutter mechanism was properly synchronised, it would produce this effect. There was never, as far as I'm aware, a firmware option to do it intentionally. Modern cameras use entirely different sensor technology, so this will be entirely a post effect.
  13. A couple of visits ago, I found myself downtown near the Little Tokyo Galleria (having visited the nearby virtual production stages at Orbital Studios, which was entertaining) and decided to stroll over to the garment district and buy some fabric as a take-home gift. What I hadn't quite realised was what's between the Galleria and the garment district. It was the middle of the day, and I didn't acquire any interesting new scars. Honestly, being a walker in LA inevitably means using walking routes which are practically disused, under freeway overpasses and beside drainage canals, which are all common haunts of people with nowhere to crash but an approximated tent made out of a dollar-store tarpaulin and a couple of shopping carts. My impression is that the homeless of LA, like most places, are overwhelmingly desperate to avoid trouble. Obviously there's much to say about the cost of living and the overall economic equitability of society but that's true for most large cities in the western world. I've had more trouble with the cops. What is it with Pasadena?
  14. I've never lived in LA for more than a few weeks at a time, but I have done that a few times, and perhaps a foreigner's perspective is useful. Still, I mention this in the hope that it might be helpful, but also in the hope that someone might verify my suspicions. About a year ago I was seriously pondering a job offer in LA and concluded that the answer was basically Burbank. There's a bicycle and walking path which goes up Chandler Boulevard and can make everywhere from North Hollywood to downtown Burbank reasonably accessible even without a car, and it's significantly cheaper than the (admittedly much nicer) area northeast of the 5 freeway. There is actually public transportation in LA. The metro works perfectly well for the places it goes, and can at least avoid the cataclysmically horrendous rush hours on the surface - then get an Uber if necessary for the hopefully-shortish distance to your destination. If you're willing to put your life in thrall to Uber, you can avoid driving in LA. The area just west of North Hollywood (not quite as far as Van Nuys or Sherman Oaks) is quite nice and I've often AirBnB'd in that part of town. It's a compromise location that is not near anything of significance, although if you walk down to the right part of Ventura Boulevard, say between Whitsett and Laurel Canyon, it's possible to convince oneself that other humans actually live in LA and might occasionally go out for a stroll. It's got life. It's almost pleasant. Santa Monica is coastal and lovely but way beyond expensive. Breakfast consisting of toast and conserves, eggs, coffee, and avocado was $55 a head when I was there in April, and Santa Monica is incredibly far from everywhere. I love meetings in Santa Monica because it's so pretty, but if you have something down there in the morning, and something in Burbank in the afternoon, well, that's your day. And they're only ten or fifteen miles apart. In general I don't think anyone is going to LA because it is architecturally gorgeous. There are exceptions: walk along Wilshire in the area of Highland and La Brea and there's some quite nice art deco buildings, some with restored classic neon signs. A couple of the studios, particularly Warner, are also historically significant for their buildings, with the classic barrel vaulted roofs and walls with gatehouses. Personally I have retained enough excitement for this stuff that any opportunity for a visit to the Paramount preview theatre, or the ASC clubhouse, is always fun. LA natives don't seem to see this stuff, somehow. Mostly, though, LA is an identikit smorgasbord of extremely nondescript low-rise buildings made of tan concrete, punctuated occasionally by a huge elevated roadway, school, or stripmall. The air tastes of exhaust fumes and on bad days you can still see the smog, though it's vastly improved even in my experience of the place. But there's always something going on, the food is wonderful (AJ's Tex Mex on Riverside!) and the can-do attitude to getting things done is unsurpassed. Feel like a moron for having turned it down, really.
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