Thursday, December 17, 2009

Think Tank Multimedia Wired Up 20

The Think Tank Multimedia Wired UP 20 is the perfect bag if you are shooting and recording audio on a 5d or other HDSLR.  I had loaded up this bag with my 5d2 with a 24-70mm attached as well as a 70-200mm and a 50mm zeiss prime, zacuto z-finder and even a small reflector.  But the best part of the bag is that it allows you to wire it up through an ingenious cable management system to a digital recorder like the Tascam DR100 or the Zoom h4n and have your shotgun mic, headphones and wireless system all neatly placed inside and ready to record.  It also has a convenient headphone hook placed on the side to hold your pro headphones when not using it. Check it out in this nice video made by Think Tank.

The bag can be used as a waistbag or a shoulder bag and comes with a nifty way to tuck away waistbelt. But I have it's most comfortable by using a combination of both.  The bag also comes in a smaller Wired Up 10 size but I found the 20 was actually big enough to double as a laptop bag for my 13" Macbook pro.  And with a small prime you can carry both in the same bag.  There is a removeable padded insert with tons of dividers so you customize the interior anyway you like.

There are pockets galore throughout the bag and its all very user friendly.  Believe me after lugging around all of my equipment on a recent shoot to London and Paris i wasn't tired and my shoulders were thankful.  I found that I was able to switch out lenses more quickly and also having the audio at waist level allowed me to monitor levels more easily.  That's why those audio guys always wear those belt packs.  

Think Tank is a great company made up of award winning photographers who make really well thought out products for the professional photographer.  Part of their philosophy is that you don't have to wear everything on your back while shooting.  It's about accessibility and ease of use.  They also have a belt pack system that you can add what you need.  Here's the cofounder talking about some of the other multimedia products.

Highly recommended bag for the HDSLR one man band who is doing double system sound.   Think Tank makes great products and solutions so check them out as well.

They are sold on the Think Tank website, Calumet, Adorama and a shout-out to this great store FOTOCARE who was extremely helpful. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Top Ten Films of the Decade

At first, I thought this would be a Herculean task to even remember what films came out this decade, much less to choose which films I would consider the best. But then I realized… all I needed to do was to look at my rather paltry collection of DVD’s that I actually purchased over the past 10 years and why. Although I am a huge cineaste, for some reason I’m not a big DVD buyer. And on that rare occasion that I am moved to buy a DVD, it is because I think that the film is a classic, one that I will watch and study over and over again. I looked on my DVD shelf and remembered every time why these movies moved me in such a profound way. I have seen all of these movies more than once and each of them has had an impact on me as a filmmaker.

All in all, it was a pretty great decade for cinema. And in many ways, so many of these films are not only my favorite films of the decade, but some of my favorite movies of all time.

1. City of God - When this film came out, everything about it was original and exciting to me. Fernando Meirelles set the tone and style of so many movies of the decade and many more to come. It was handheld, quick moving unrelenting and undeniably powerful. But what makes the film a masterpiece is that it also managed to be tender and touching. If I had to pick one, probably my fave of the decade.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - A close second is the visual masterpiece by Michel Gondry (a wizard of cinema tricks) from a genius script by Charlie Kaufman. Yes the filmmaker in me marveled at the “How did he do that?” But the romantic in me found the sentimental love story absolutely irresistible. I have another Kaufman film on my list and just as Meirelles changed the way we film movies, Kaufman has changed the way we look at storytelling.
3. Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Schnablel’s painterly and heartbreaking film puts the audience literally behind the skin of the main character. For the entire film, I felt trapped in and paralyzed like the lead yet at the same time stunned by the beautiful images that Schnabel paints onto the screen. What seems like an impossible story to translate to cinema was not only a success but managed to be uplifting and inspirational.
4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon I watched this movie at the NY Film Festival with a bunch of hardened critics and press. At the end of it, I was amazed to see all of them rise to their feet and applaud like a bunch of school kids at a matinee. And I shared in their enthusiasm. It’s no secret that I am a lifelong Ang Lee fan and this film shows his artistry once again. A love story, an action adventure and an homage to the cinema of Ang Lee’s youth.
5. Pans Labyrinth – Perhaps I was already charmed by an interview I watched with Del Toro and the three amigos on Charlie Rose but you cannot deny the filmmaker’s meticulous detail and singular vision of this fantasy. I had written a similar story when I was in my 20s and again on a personal level, it was rewarding to see that you can mix real period drama with surrealistic fantasy.
6. In the Mood for Love What’s interesting about this selection is that I did not like it when I first saw it. But over the years, I could not stop thinking about it. Someone had bought me the DVD as a gift and I watched it again, and then I had a completely different reaction. The haunting images and love story stay with you, mostly because it achieves a mood I suspect mostly because of Chris Doyle’s unique style of cinematography (I now try to use only available light) but also the evocative soundtrack by Umebayshi Shigeru. Wong Kar Wai of course has to be credited, but it’s the mood of the film that stays with you.
7. Amelie Yes it’s corny, yes its overly sentimental, but I still love Amelie. I’m writing this right now while I’m on a shoot in Paris and even as we shot the steps of Montmartre, I could not separate my love for the city and my memory of this film. Movies for me when they succeed are magic, and this film had no shortage of that from Tatou’s waifish charm to the cartoonish direction of Jeunet to the wonderful soundtrack of Yann Tiersin.
8. Being John Malkovich Yes that’s right another Kaufman film. This one I admire because it was our introduction of the great writer. As I have written now two screenplays in this past decade, I can appreciate more Kaufman’s ability to take absurdity and mix it with simple moving storytelling. It’s a very hard balance to strike and what makes him so great. Let’s not forget Spike Jonze’s skillful and playful filmmaking. Also kudos to Jonze for his brilliant adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are...
9. Lost in Translation I lived in Hong Kong for two years long before I saw this movie. But when I watched it at an early preview, I had such a strong relationship to the character and how uncannily Coppola was able to capture a foreigner’s view of Asia. I was certain that the film would fail since so few people would have shared this experience, but I came to realize the story is more universal and the love story such an unusual one. I have a bit of professional jealousy that I feel towards Coppola hard not to as she is the princess daughter of a legend, but this film shows she has real talent.
10. Mulholland Drive Okay the end of my list is a film I forgot came out this decade, but it is probably my fave David Lynch movie (toss up Blue Velvet) because of its mysterious plot and truly original story telling. Many filmmakers attempt to portray the dream world but no other director succeeds at making it work. What was in that box?
ALSO RAN: The Lives of Others, The Incredibles, Talk to Her, Reprise