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Tag Archives: Patrick DiRenna

Digital vs. Celluloid: Tarantino, Nolan, Abrams, and DiRenna Weigh In!

If you’re a fan of indie filmmaking, you’ve probably heard about the digital vs. celluloid debate.

Digital cameras have made filmmaking accessible to everyone; now anyone who wants to can be a filmmaker.

However, purists – and most notably great directors from the previous generation – still believe the only true way to make a great, atmospheric film is by using 35mm.

There’s something to this. The natural grain of 35mm film creates what many still consider to be the look of a true “film.” However, as digital cameras advance, their image quality is also constantly improving.

Can you tell which photo was taken on film or digital? Click the image to go the photographer's blog and find out!
Can you tell which photo was taken on film vs. digital? Click the image to go the photographer’s blog and find out!

A recent article on phys.org highlights both sides of the debate, with insights from Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams, and the Digital Film Academy’s own Patrick DiRenna.

DiRenna observes that “The only thing that’s lacking (with digital) at this point is a slight level of picture quality, but that will change and in exchange we have a democratisation with artists who are now really able to do their work.” This democratization owes itself to the fact that studios and artists can complete films on digital for a mere fraction of the cost of working with celluloid.

In the same article, Alain Rolleau, whose family runs the famed Studio 28 theater in Paris, seconds this opinion. The first time they screened a film shot on digital, he says he felt like crying, the images were so “icy.” Since then, though, he’s seen steady improvement with the images coming out of digital filmmaking – and it’s now rare that he screens a 35mm film.

Studio 28 - Paris' oldest theater, in business since 1948.
Studio 28 – Paris’ oldest theater, in business since 1948.

Rolleau also points out how 35mm film can face problems after being screened a few times, while digital film maintains the same perfect image over time.

However, Nolan, Abrams, and Tarantino come down on the side of 35mm. Tarantino is the most vocal on this point, saying that “digital filmmaking is the death of cinema as I know it.” During his recent appearance at the Cannes Film Festival, celebrating the 20-year anniversary of Pulp Fiction’s Palm D’Or win, he compared digital filmmaking to “television in public.”

Tarantino discussing digital at a press conference in Cannes.
Tarantino discussing digital at a press conference in Cannes.

“Great artists like Quentin Tarantino are generally uncomfortable when they come across something new,” says Patrick DiRenna. “Charlie Chaplin’s discomfort with talkies is a perfect example — but when he finally made the adjustment, he turned around and made the ‘The Great Dictator’ and his mastery showed through again.”

What do you think? Is digital filmmaking the best thing to happen since sliced bread? Or does it mean that cinema as we know it is lost?

[polldaddy poll=8132614]

 

Read the full article here!

 

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain

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DFA Goes Brazilian!

When she was first considering film schools and living in Brazil, Carol Mazzoni did an internet search to discover which school might be best for her. Her main considerations were cost (number one) and location (number two).

It wasn’t long before she landed on the Digital Film Academy (homepage). Given the low cost and Times Square address, she knew she’d found a perfect fit.

Times Square, New York City - a center for film.
Times Square, New York City – a center for film.

Now, she’s also an employee at the DFA, managing the school’s Social Media and working on International Outreach. Additionally, she’s completed a variety of film projects, from short films destined for the festival circuit to web series she’s collaborating on with fellow DFA alums.

Mazzoni’s story is a common one at the DFA. The school boasts a large number of international students who’ve come to the US to pursue their dreams. For this reason, they are branching out by attending their first-ever student-based recruitment fair in Brazil in the second half of March 2014.

Salão do Estudante in Brazil
Salão do Estudante in Brazil

The Salão do Estudante, run by BMI, is one of the most active student recruitment fairs in the world, with 200,000 students coming through the fair in four days. Additionally, in days when the fair isn’t running, the DFA will meet with numerous agencies that work to partner students with the perfect program for their needs.

Patrick DiRenna at the fair.
Patrick DiRenna at the fair.

Mazzoni will be attending the fair along with DFA President Patrick DiRenna. Between agency meetings, meetings with prospective students, and the fair itself, the event will take them to several Brazilian cities over the course of two and a half weeks.

“It’ll be exciting to talk with the crowd and hear more about what international students are looking for,” Mazzoni says. “I can’t wait.”

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain

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Top 5 Take-aways from the DFA Open House

True to form, the DFA Open House did not disappoint! The two hours were packed with three informative demos that gave attendees a wealth of information.

Here are the top 5 take-aways from the open house:

1. “The director is king… but the audience is GOD.”

This is at the core of what the DFA advocates and how they teach their students. As DFA President Patrick DiRenna says, “The most important ‘person’ to a production is not the star or the DP or even the director… it’s the audience.” The entire goal of film is to get the audience to feel what you want when you want them to feel it – and the DFA is the place to help students figure out how to do just that!

Patrick DiRenna teaches the DFA philosophy.
Patrick DiRenna teaches the DFA philosophy.

2. Film requires skill sets – including how to be a business person.

People sometimes forget that, in addition to being an expert in a particular craft or skill set (lighting, camerawork, audio, etc.), they also need to be great business people in order to succeed in film.

Attendees got a taste of how to think about and market their work and themselves.

3. First Accredited Web TV Production Program!!!

In huge news, the DFA now has the country’s first accredited Web TV Production program. In an age where entertainment is moving online – and the opportunities for development in that area seem endless – this presents a major opportunity to enterprising students.

Corey Christian walks the room through the finer points of editing.
Corey Christian walks the room through the finer points of editing.

4. Avid Media Composer (and RED camera footage) are AMAZING.

You probably knew this already, but Equipment/Facilities Manager Corey Christian showed attendees why. AMC not only has an amazing ‘warp stabilizer’ feature which can help filmmakers steady shaky camerawork after-the-fact, but it can also take wide shots and turn them into excellent close-ups. Corey taught attendees how to use these features.

Essentially, filmmakers now have the option to take previously unusable footage and sculpt it into great shots – saving time and money.

A volunteer becomes Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
A volunteer becomes Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

5. ADR is not as hard as you may think!

Director of Operations and audio wizard Guy Mor handed out flash drives and guided attendees into the world of additional digital recording. One lucky volunteer got to replace the voice of Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, saying “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Mor showed the class how to replace Judy’s original line and make it sound seamless – in less than fifteen minutes.

All of the above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what students could learn when they enroll at the DFA. So what are you waiting for? Sign up today!

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain.

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Why the DFA Open House is a Must-See!

You know the regular school open house drill: sit in a chair with some strangers, hear a few words from a professor about what you would do in his class, maybe hear some success stories about former students…

But the Digital Film Academy Open House is no regular open house.

The DFA is all about getting students working in film – and their open house on Saturday, March 8th from 3-5pm in NYC is no different.

At this totally free event, attendees won’t just get to see the facilities and network with current/former students and professors. They’ll also take part in three hands-on demonstrations:

Directing

Directing Demo: Ever dreamed of commanding your own set as a director? Taught by Patrick DiRenna, the President of the DFA, this directing crash course gives attendees the “magic formula to create the perfect shot.” Guests will learn how to set up two different, dramatic SteadyCam shots and will also be taught the primary functions of a director.

ADR

ADR (Additional Dialog Recording) Demo: Imagine this: you’ve yelled “Cut!,” you’re bursting with excitement over what you filmed, and you get into editing – only to discover that the sound is a garbled mess. Something went wrong – so now, is your project dead?

Absolutely not, because you can replace that original dialog – if you know what you’re doing! Guy Mor, the DFA Director of Operations and an audio wizard, will show you how to both replace bad audio and record audio for animation… the best part? Attendees can take part in a fun exercise, re-recording audio for famous movie lines such as “Hasta la vista, baby” – and enjoy the results.

Media composer

Avid Media Composer Demo: Two things are hot right now in the world of film: Avid Media Composer, the most widely-used non-linear editing program for professional film, and the Red camera. (In fact, most DFA grads report being able to easily find work after graduation thanks to their continued free access to the expensive Red camera through the DFA membership program.) In this demo, DFA Equipment/Facilities manager Corey Christian works with both, showing how to load footage from the Red camera into Avid Media Composer and use the software to create a perfect final image.

If you’ve ever considered a career in film, what are you waiting for? Come to the DFA Open House to make connections, learn tricks of the trade, and see if you’re ready to take the next step to “monetize your media!”

RSVP today at DFA Open House.

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain

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Avid Re-Certification Course

When the Digital Film Academy was founded, Avid was one of the few programs taught.
Now, years later and with a much larger course selection, things came full-circle when the DFA hosted the Pro Tools 11 ACI (Avid Certified Instructor) Re-Certification Webinar/Seminar. The event was presented by Avid’s Andy Cook and Jon Connolly.

Jon Connolly
Jon Connolly
Andy Cook
Andy Cook

I was fortunate to be a fly on the wall during the seminar, in a room with ten ACIs (in addition to the 20 attending online). Only certified ACIs are qualified to teach Avid courses at Avid Learning Partner schools, guaranteeing that only the most up-to-date and capable instructors are teaching ALP students.

“We’re very happy to be an ALP and very proud to have been chosen to host the event,” said Patrick DiRenna, the DFA’s founder and president. “I look forward to hosting more of their events in the future and offering Avid certified courses.”

Having Guy Mor as Director of Operations certainly puts the DFA a cut above other film schools when it comes to Avid training. Mor is the only Master Pro Tools instructor in the New York/New Jersey area, and he also holds a long list of other Avid certifications.

Mor insists that “the Avid certified curriculum is the best and most complete way to learn Pro Tools.” As a former working engineer in broadcast television, Mor was already very skilled with Avid. However, it’s only been since getting certified that he realized he had “holes in (his) knowledge, holes that were plugged up by this extensive curriculum.” He now teaches these courses at the highest level, and can work faster and more efficiently than ever before. He sees his students go through the same transformation all the time.

Beyond being a master instructor, Mor is also very active in the community of Avid Certified Instructors. He was recently asked to be a moderator on Avid’s list serve. It was partially due to Mor’s relationship with Andy Cook, one of the presenters, that the re-certification event was hosted by the DFA.

According to Mark Matthews, a dedicated ACI from St. Petersburg College attending the event, the value of the certification is growing as Avid’s approach becomes “more progressive.”

As discussed at the seminar, in order to be re-certified, ACIs need to be up-to-date on the changes that come with Pro Tools 11. The presenters reviewed not only PT 11’s new capabilities (for instance, the faster-than-real-time offline bounce feature, which has many audio engineers excited), but also the reasons behind the upgrades.

Most importantly, they addressed the move to a new plug-in format, AAX.

“We needed to start from scratch (with AAX) to be able to work in the 64-bit realm,” Connolly said. The main goal was to enable greater interoperability between native and DSP environments.

Some people wonder why DSP remains necessary, what with the power of native, but Connolly discussed how DSP offers the power to handle extremely large sessions. While it might no longer be necessary for everyone, there is still high demand for it as projects continue to get bigger and more complex.

It’s often been said that, no matter how polished a movie looks, if the sound isn’t up to par, it just isn’t going to be impressive. For that reason, every filmmaker should make it a priority to find out more about Avid courses at the DFA.

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain

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