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Hitchcock and PSYCHO: A Love Story

Alfred Hitchcock, cinema’s all-time master director of suspense, is set to return to the big screen in 2013. “Hitch,” as he was called, influenced both the horror genre and forever left his stamp on the craft of filmmaking. We take a sneak peek at the new biography and the film’s star.


A larger than life presence: the great director Alfred Hitchcock works his magic.

Bringing Hitchcock Back
In the new film “Hitchcock,” Anthony Hopkins (best known as Hannibal Lector and more recently as Thor’s father Odin), will star as Alfred Hitchcock with Helen Mirren portraying Hitchcock’s beloved wife Alma. The Fox Searchlight production will be directed by Sacha Gervasi and co-produced by Ivan Reitman, of “Ghostbusters” fame.

“Hitchcock” will concentrate on the lifelong love story between the famous director and his wife. The backdrop for the story: the 1960 production of Hitchcock’s brilliant terror masterpiece, “Psycho,” a film many critics still consider the greatest horror film ever made.

Shooting on “Hitchcock” began last week in Los Angeles, with the cast being rounded out by Scarlett Johansson (as actress Janet Leigh, who portrayed the ill-fated Marion Crane in “Psycho”), Jessica Biel (as actress Vera Miles, who also starred in the original film) and actor James D’Arcy (who will play Anthony Perkins, an actor who gained tremendous notoriety based on his performance as “Psycho”’s deranged Norman Bates).


Hitchcock on the set of “Psycho,” setting up the shower scene…


…And Sir Anthony Hopkins, in full makeup, displaying the famous director’s profile in the new film “Hitchcock.” 

Hitchcock’s challenges to get “Psycho” made are legendary in Hollywood circles: The master director eventually was forced to fund the entire $800,000 budget himself and save money by utilizing the shooting crew from his celebrated TV program. Once released, however, the film (which the studio didn’t want to make) caused an international sensation and earned its director and producer both financial success and and a reputation as filmdom’s Master of Suspense.

Based on Stephen Rebello’s outstanding book, “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho,” (which detailed Hitchcock’s struggles to get the project produced, despite a complete lack of interest in making the film by Universal Studios) “Hitchcock” could be an Oscar contender.


Ever the prankster, Hitchcock released this publicity shot of him sitting in the set chair of “Psycho”‘s very dead Mrs. Bates.

Meet the Masters in Film School 
Serious about becoming a filmmaker? Then learn how to make a movie this summer at film camp. Learn about the techniques that masters like Hitchcock used to make movies. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, there’s no better time to learn the craft than now. Tools like Final Cut Pro X and After Effects make it easier than ever before to bring your cinematic vision to life. Who knows? You might have what it takes to be the next Alfred Hitchcock.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

The Best 9/11 Documentary: Making Sense of Tragedy

Ten years after the tragedy known collectively as “9/11,” people are still unraveling the theories and conspiracies of how a beautiful fall morning was transformed into a modern “day of infamy.”

It was a watershed moment in American history. And although there’s a tendency to lay the blame exclusively with Osama bin Laden (who was indeed the leader of terrorist alliance Al Qaeda), there were many different actors involved in the tragedy. There’s no single documentary that could hold the title of “Best 9/11 Documentary.” On the contrary, there are a number of documentaries and films that help sort out the various criminals and explain the series of events that led up to September 11, 2001:

Inside 9/11 (2006)

The story of 9/11 is long and complicated. So much so that the U.S. governments official explanation, The 9/11 Commission Report (2004), required a 567-page document. This National Geographic presentation provides a complete overview of the themes and events involved. See how the seeds of the 9/11 attacks were sown over the last few decades and how the plan (which contained many moving parts) finally came together. National Geographic’s 280-minute presentation is very comprehensive; it not only touches on all the issues but also raises many questions about subsequent U.S. foreign policy (including our ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan).


Lower Manhattan was rocked by the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Inside 9/11 shows in detail why the events that transpired on Sept. 11, 2001, were actually set into motion decades earlier. 

A two-disc set, the first DVD sets the stage for 9/11 by going into necessary detail about the various global events that led to al Qaeda’s decision to attack the U.S. mainland. The second disc focuses on the day of September 11, 2001, providing a minute-by-minute cataloging of everything that happened on 9/11 itself. Taken together, this is as complete a video record of what happened as is likely to ever be produced.

Lasting Impression: The 9/11 attacks were both brutally cruel and brilliantly organized. Al Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorists who perpetrated the attacks were the very models of efficiency. They correctly identified vulnerabilities in America’s transportation system and then exploited them to inflict the maximum amount of damage possible.

9/11 (2002)

Two French brothers were staying with the New York firefighters of Engine 7, Ladder 1 and in the process of making a documentary about what a new firefighter experiences during his first year on the job. Suddenly, as one brother was filming a team of firefighters examining a potential gas leak, the hijacked plane from American Airlines Flight 11 flew directly overhead and crashed into the North Tower. From that point on, the brothers (Jules and Gedeon Naudet) found themselves shooting the most significant moment in recent American history. 9/11 gives you a ground-eye view of the mayhem taking place in Lower Manhattan, including the horrible moments when firefighters in the lobby become trapped by falling debris as the South Towers implodes and collapses.


Jules and Gedeon Naudet (holding cameras) were actually in New York to make a documentary film about a rookie firefighter. They got much more than that, including one of the only filmed sequences of the first hijacked plane crashing into the WTC.

The documentary (simply titled “9/11”) earned the Naudet Brothers an Emmy and a Peabody Award for broadcasting excellence. Approximately six months after 9/11, CBS aired the documentary in its entirety (including the uncensored profanity of the firefighters, struggling to deal with a situation that was unlike any ever previously faced). CBS has aired the documentary three times, each time prefacing the film with a brief introduction by actor and native New Yorker, Robert DeNiro.

Lasting Impression: Tough, seasoned NYFD firefighters looking about the WTC lobby nervously as they continue to hear loud explosions all around them—the terrible sounds of people jumping or falling from the Tower’s upper reaches, and crashing through glass ceilings far below.

United 93 (2006)

Named after the 9/11 flight that began with hijacking but ended with heroism, United 93 tells the story of the passengers on the fourth plane. It was being flown to Washington, D.C., but was brought down by the Americans on-board, who understood (from cell phone and air phone calls to the outside world) that their plane was going to be used for a kamikaze mission. Instead of resigning themselves to their sorry fate, the passengers acted with passion and energy and fought to overtake their captors. And while it’s true that the passengers of United 93 were all killed instantly when a cockpit struggle to retake control of the plane resulted in the massive 757 barreling nose-first into an empty field in Shanksville, Penn., the rebellion of passengers on United 93 foiled al Qaeda’s attempt at destroying the U.S. Capitol. It was the only point of pride in a long and terrible morning that witnessed the killing of thousands of Americans.


The cast of United 93 was made up of mostly unknown actors…for a reason.

Paul Greengrass’ United 93 is a powerful and disturbing film, shot like a hybrid of feature film and documentary, where some of the original players involved portray themselves and recreate their actions, while mostly unknown actors play the passengers. (The reason for choosing unknown actors: So the audience wouldn’t be identifying a passenger by previous roles they’ve played, and that the people on the plane would simply look like normal Americans.) The strength of the film is that it sticks to its story and simply lays out the events as they happened.

It is like a documentary in that the film doesn’t provide back-story details about anyone on the plane, such as a standard Hollywood drama might. The film also does an admirable job of showing how many different players were involved in America’s response to the terror that unfolded that beautiful fall morning. Pluckiest of all: FAA National Operations Manager Ben Sliney (here portraying himself), evaluating the information he has and making the fateful call to lock-down America’s entire air space and ground more than 4,000 domestic air flights. It was a decision which cost the airline industry many millions of dollars in lost revenue, and marked the only time in U.S. history when the nation’s entire air space was completely shut down. It was Sliney’s very first day on the job.

Lasting Impression: Even though we know how this story ends, United 93 is gripping and suspenseful. And while the passengers of the first two hijacked planes had reason to hope they were part of a traditional hijacking crime, the informed passengers of United 93 knew better. That these American heroes were able to fight through their fear and band together to resist the terrorist plot is nothing short of inspirational. The film is often uncomfortably tense to watch, but the material is handled expertly and with great sensitivity. It’s difficult to imagine this part of the 9/11 story being told any better. The DVD also contains a behind-the-scenes documentary that shows the surviving relatives of United 93’s passengers meeting the actors and actresses who were portraying their loved ones.

Man on Wire (2008)

It’s been 10 full years since 9/11. Life in America hasn’t been quite the same since 9/11, but it has gone on. Even after enormous tragedies, life must go on. That spirit infuses a recent documentary that immortalizes the Twin Towers without a single mention of what occurred in 2001. Man on Wire takes us back to a slightly happier moment (in August of 1974) when the Towers were still new and recently crowned the tallest buildings on earth.

The majestic and dazzling Twin Towers—which loomed more than a quarter-mile over New York City—drew tourists from all over the world, including one adventurous Frenchman named Philippe Petit. Petit, a trained wire-walker (and juggler and magician) who had pulled off grand stunts at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral and the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia, became fascinated with the idea of stretching a tight wire between the Twin Towers and walking at cloud-level across the 200-foot chasm that existed between the buildings.

Petit realized that he would never receive permission to attempt such a fool-hardy stunt, so he assembled a team of like-minded helpers. Together, through a plot that plays like a caper film, Petit and his accomplices smuggled a half-ton of wire equipment to the building’s top floor, then (during the middle of the night, when the WTC was deserted) assembled the different parts to create the wire.


That first step is a doozy: The tight-wire walker’s long look downward through the clouds, as he began his famous journey across.

The next morning, Petit carefully but confidently stepped on that wire (which was only ¾-inch thick) and started walking. After a few scary moments (“Death was very near,” he recalls), Petit mastered the wire and suddenly was filled with an inner peace. Not only did he make the full pass between the Towers, he repeated the trip seven more times. He walked on the wire, and at times he kind of danced on it, too. He also dropped to one knee at one point; saluted the crowd of onlookers far, far below; laid down on his back on the wire; and even sat down on the wire and stared straight down at the amazed watchers 1,300 feet beneath him.

He only agreed to come in from the wire after 45 minutes because NYPD helicopter cops were threatening to pluck him off the wire (a rescue move that would probably have blown Petit off the wire and to his certain death). Why did he do it? Petit laughs about the question he was asked repeatedly by cops and reporters. “Such an American question,” he chuckles. Nor does he explain why, immediately after being arrested for his high-wire act, he decided to (successfully) pick-pocket the watch of the arresting officer. Call it an encore.

Lasting Impression: A movie that radiates a certain joy, Man on Wire is about one man’s attempt to use his skill to conquer the Towers, not destroy them with explosives. With its simple but beautiful piano score, set against the images of the Twin Towers in all their sky-scraping glory, Man on Wire has a healing effect.

Telling Your Story: Learning Documentary Filmmaking 
The documentary film medium is enormously powerful. When it comes to telling an emotionally wrenching story, such as 9/11, only a narrative film rivals the ability. Some would agree that reality is never beaten by fiction. Now, thanks to digital cameras and desktop video-editing solutions like Final Cut Pro X, the world of film is now open to any aspiring filmmaker with vision and imagination. If you’re considering becoming a filmmaker or even changing your career, get film instruction from industry professionals and you’ll be introduced to the mechanics involved in making movies and get up to speed on state-of-the-art editing software. Whether you’re interested in reflecting modern history or shaping film history, there’s never been a better time to unlock the filmmaker within you.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Coppola’s Twixt: Using Technology to Re-invent the Movies

He’s acknowledged as one of the greatest directors in film history, and now he’s back with a wild new movie. Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) has always been a bold filmmaker. His latest film proves once again that he’s not afraid to take chances: Twixt is a 3D movie, with a twist.


Oscar-winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola made the 1972 classic,  The Godfather.

Val Kilmer (Top Gun, Batman Forever, The Doors) plays Hall Baltimore, a down-on-his-luck horror novelist, who specializes in books about witches. Baltimore is touring the West Coast on a self-managed low-budget book tour. When he stops in the small Northern California town of Swann Valley, he realizes he’s wandered into a twilight zone that’s populated by odd happenings, menacing Goth teenagers and other strange characters. He becomes haunted by the ghost of a young girl (played by Elle Fanning, from Super 8).


The ghost of V haunts Hall Baltimore.

Dynamic Cinema
Coppola previewed Twixt at Comic-Con 2011, where he gave out Edgar Allan Poe Masks (with 3D glasses inserted in the eyes) to convention attendees. The preview was one of the highlights of Comic-Con.

Coppola teased the film as a “dynamic cinematic experience.” Basically, his vision is that depending on where and when you see the film, the version of the story you see could be completely different than someone else’s. It’s an interesting take, but one made possible with technological advances, “How dare anyone think all (cinema) has got up its sleeve is 3D. Of course we’re going to see wonderful innovations,” Coppola remarked.

The director went on to demonstrate how scenes might be “remixed,” as Coppola created a couple of different versions of the trailer. The crowd watched as Coppola used an iPad to edit on the fly. Basically what he envisions – to some extent – is what the final film presentation might offer.


The trailer for Twixt is remixed for the audience at Comic-Con.

Poe Show
Cranking the weird meter to eleven is a surprise “cameo” by no less than the godfather of horror, Edgar Allan Poe. Poe died young and mysteriously in 1849, but only after defining American horror with stories and poems like “The Raven” (which dealt with insanity), “The Cask of Amontillado” (where a character is buried alive) and “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” (which includes cannibalism among its many horrors). Given the overwhelming weirdness of Swann Valley, Poe, it seems, finds himself right at home.


Strange encounters are the hallmark of Twixt, including this one with long-dead, horror icon Edgar Allan Poe.

Twixt had its world premiere Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the famous director talked about the movie’s origins during a Q&A session with festival attendees. Coppola got the idea while visiting Istanbul and after a night of drinking a potent Turkish liquor. The film’s concept came to him in a dream. Upon waking the next morning, Coppola immediately preserved his thoughts by using his iPhone to capture the idea.

Because of his legacy, anticipation greets every new Coppola film. And even though he’s made horror films before (most notably, 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula), this is Francis Ford Coppola’s first film to use 3D. (However, the 3D effect is only used in two scenes, and the film signals the audience members about when to put on their 3D glasses.) No release date has been set for Twixt just yet; Coppola is still shopping the movie around and trying to find a distributor.


Coppola, Kilmer and…Edgar Allan Poe (played by Ben Chaplin) on the set of Twixt.

In the Final Cut
It’s no surprise Coppola used an iPhone and iPad to preview his latest creation at Comic-Con. In addition to making some of the cinema’s most important and beloved movies, Francis Ford Coppola has always been a technical innovator. Like many of today’s most celebrated filmmakers, Coppola has been using Final Cut Pro to edit movies for years. Twixt showcases the director’s vision in a way that pushes the cinematic experience to new heights, and we can’t wait to see the results.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

Will the Future be Disc-less?

Like the dodo bird (pronounced dough-dough), discs are soon going to be extinct – at least if Apple has anything to do with it. A longtime technology innovator, Apple continues to move away from physical media, such as the discs used for DVDs and CDs. For instance, Apple recently announced that its Mac Mini and MacBook Air models would not include an optical/DVD drive. And we’re sure you’ve already heard of iTunes and the App Store…


The fabled dodo bird, whose modern-day relatives include pigeons and doves, became extinct before 1700.

With the introduction of “The Cloud,” tablets and digital downloads are becoming the way to get your media. And as digital downloads take over, optical drives and other physical media-delivery systems continue to lose their foothold in the technology marketplace. Netflix, Hulu and iTunes are each implementing streaming-video delivery of movies and TV shows.

Digital Downloads are the Future
Apple has declared war on discs and it doesn’t take a genius to see why.  For consumers, digital downloads represent a more convenient and less bulky solution.

Digital media can be easily moved between different devices, so no longer do consumers have to tote around a bookcase full of discs. Even software applications are now being delivered digitally. For example, take the latest version of Final Cut Pro X. It is only available from the Apple Store and then by download only. The same goes for the physical version of Apple’s Mac OS X Lion; it’s available only on a USB thumb drive, and not on disc. Rumors are already starting to circulate that Apple has already ceased supporting discs, and that next-generation Apple software will only be available via download through the App Store.

Apple has been pushing early adoption of better and simpler technology for years. In 1998, it introduced the first iMac, which came without a floppy drive. And just try to find a USB port on the iPad. In other words, get ready for a disc-less future…because it’s almost here.

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posted by Vince Matthews in News Blog and have No Comments

The Beatles and The Birth of The Music Video

Today’s instant pop phenomenon world makes it difficult to comprehend just how incredibly popular The Beatles really were.

But no musical act of any kind has ever been bigger, had such a lasting and far-reaching impact – and nobody has since generated the incredible excitement that The Beatles did during 1964, when they exploded onto the American scene. The group’s stranglehold on American musical tastes was powerful and immediate; at one point during 1964, the band charted four of the Top Ten singles being played on the radio. The Beatles were everywhere.


Innovative director Richard Lester brought “The Fab Four” to the big screen in 1964.

Music and Film
The Beatles were not only omnipresent in every form of media of the day, but they were also re-inventing every form of media – like no other artist before them. It was inevitable that The Beatles would star in a feature film. The band’s first movie, A Hard Day’s Night, was the group’s best. It was also a ground-breaking mixture of music and film and what many consider to be one of the inspirations for modern music videos. A Hard Day’s Night remains a cinematic treasure – not only because it was an inside look at early Beatlemania, but it brought music and pop star images together in an entirely unique way. This was all presented as a superb comedy loaded with fresh cinematic ideas all courtesy of director, Richard Lester.


The Beatles were huge celebrities when filming began. The crowd chasing The Beatles at the railway station at the beginning is made up of real fans actually chasing the Fab Four. The scene was recently recreated for the opening of The Beatles Rock Band videogame.


Paul McCartney greets a fan during the filming of Hard Day’s Night.

A Hard Day’s Night took the film world by surprise. No one had any idea it would be that good. Critics were stunned, and reviews almost completely positive. Critic Roger Ebert noted the film’s long-standing influence. “Today when we watch TV,” he wrote, “And see quick cutting, hand-held cameras, interviews conducted on the run with moving targets, quickly intercut snatches of dialogue, music under documentary action and all the other trademarks of the modern style, we are looking at the children of A Hard Day’s Night.” Suffice it to say that anyone interested in learning how to make music videos really must see this film.

Director Richard Lester is one “old school” director who would have probably felt right at home in today’s fast-paced cinema. His work on A Hard Day’s Night suggests he would have loved the flexibility and freedom that Final Cut Pro X offers. Many of today’s most respected filmmakers, such as the Coen brothers (True Grit) and Francis Ford Coppola (Godfather), have spent time learning how to use Final Cut Pro. Apple’s Final Cut software is both flexible and easy to use.

The Beatles have always been at the cutting edge of media, if they were still making films and videos today they’d be most likely making music videos and producing them using state-of the-art editing software like Final Cut.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Music Production,News Blog and have No Comments

Apple Announces Final Cut Pro X Update

Apple will update Final Cut Pro X, in response to user feedback. The latest version of its breakthrough editing program, Final Cut Pro X is only being offered for sale as a digital download from Apple’s Mac Store for $299.


Much like an exotic sports car, Final Cut Pro X features neck-snapping responsiveness, power and great handling.

Final Cut Pro X delivers state-of-the-industry performance in a package of supreme flexibility. The program’s trackless timeline is a recent innovation that reflects what Apple calls an “all-new project architecture.” If you’re interested in learning how to edit films using Final Cut Pro X, Apple’s premier video editing product will provide a level of editing capabilities unmatched by any other software.

Making the Cut
One issue brought up by users was that editors currently cannot import old projects made using Final Cut Pro 7 into Final Cut Pro X. Apple did respond in a Final Cut Pro FAQ that any editors using Final Cut Pro 7 could continue to use that version after installing Final Cut Pro X.  Apple also noted that film editors could import media files from previous versions into Final Cut Pro X.

Regarding other enhancements, Apple announced that multiple-camera editing would be added and backed with “great multicam support” when the update becomes available. Apple was even more specific about adding XML-export capability to Final Cut Pro X, pledging to release a set of APIs within “the next few weeks” that third-party developers can use to access the next-gen XML in conjunction with Final Cut Pro X.


Even with an update on the way, Final Cut Pro X still has some great launch features.

Compound Clips No more timeline clutter with Compound Clips – where you can group a complex set of elements and collapse them into a single clip.

Inline Precision Editor The Magnetic Timeline improves on traditional ways of trimming, including ripple, roll, slip, and slide edits.

Auditions With the unique Auditions feature, you can collect multiple alternative shots at a single location in the timeline and quickly cycle through them in context.

Smart Collections Set up Smart Collections to organize clips in a variety of ways without moving or copying files.

Check Apple’s web site for a complete list of Final Cut Pro X features and the Apple Final Cut Pro FAQ for more info about the update. The update to Final Cut Pro X is expected within the next few weeks.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Video Production,News Blog and have No Comments

Final Cut Pro X: For Film & Video Production, it’s Showtime!

If you’re a filmmaker (or someone aspiring to become one), then you’ve probably heard of Final Cut Pro. Apple’s film & video editing software is already regarded as the industry standard in powerful editing tools. But now Final Cut is even richer, with a load of fantastic editing features, thanks to a new edition: Final Cut Pro X, which Apple released and is now available through the App Store.


Final Cut Pro X adds new features to an already-powerful video editing software tool.

Final Cut Pro X builds on the software’s existing strength with enhanced ways to organize footage, which helps prevent the possibility of being overwhelmed by having too many production elements and no way to keep everything separated and handy, until clips are needed for editing. 

As far as the editing process itself goes, Final Cut Pro X’s Magnetic Timeline helps prevent gaps – which could otherwise show up in the final edit as black frames, and create a less-than-professional look for the production.


Final Cut Pro X’s Magnetic Timeline keeps your video edits tight and perfectly aligned.

Final Cut Pro X is now available in the App Store for $299, which is a pretty smart way to purchase the software. When Apple updates the program, the App Store will automatically update the software.

Professional Production with FCPX
Noted filmmakers such as the Coen brothers (True Grit) and Francis Ford Coppola have embraced Final Cut for its flexibility and ease of use. This summer, learn Final Cut Pro in film & video production courses. Digital Media Academy tech summer camps are held at prestigious university campuses across the United States and Canada. If you’re seriously interested in pursuing a career in film production, hit the ground running with expert instruction and hands-on training with the most current equipment and software. The next generation of filmmakers are learning and using Final Cut Pro X.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

A Tribute: Alfred Hitchcock, Legendary Moviemaker and “Master of Suspense”

If you’re considering a career in filmmaking you’re probably studying the masters. Directors like Alfred Hitchcock. Maybe you’ve heard of him? He created such vintage thrillers as “Rear Window,” “The Birds” and “Vertigo,” but Hitch saved his most outlandish filmmaking tricks for a black-and-white classic called “Psycho.”


Hitchcock wasn’t kidding: Armed guards were posted in theaters to keep stragglers from wandering in after the film had started. Hitchcock felt that if the audience came into the picture too late, they would have no idea what was going on. 

Made in 1960, “Psycho” was the most shocking film audiences of the day had ever seen. And for a long time, it was considered the most frightening movie ever made. Even now, it ranks high on the list of movie thrillers and horror films.

Making Crazy
Considering it’s revered as a classic, it’s amazing to think that Universal Studios (the studio that backed Hitchcock) didn’t even want to make the movie. Hitchcock ended up financing it himself, using the production crew from his television show. Universal provided the set – building the famous Bates Motel and the Bates house on the Universal back lot, where both remain to this day. The film’s production budget? About $800,000 – a relatively small budget for a major picture, even in 1960.

Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is now world-renowned as a Hollywood classic and worth looking into for several reasons. However,”Psycho” is best known for “the shower scene.” Like Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” it’s what the audience doesn’t see that scared the heck out of ‘em.


Hitchcock and crew worked on the famous shower scene for seven full days.

Hitchcock was notorious for pulling the rug out from beneath his audience. He’d lead you down one path and suddenly leave you wondering why you didn’t end up where you thought you were going. But in addition to being a master storyteller, he was also a tireless perfectionist – using 70 camera set-ups to produce the necessary 45 seconds of footage for the shower scene.

Pysche-ing Out the Audience
Hitchcock used other clever tricks to psyche out “Psycho’s” audience too. Like refusing to let anyone into the theater after the film had started, and enforcing this rule with actual security guards who were posted at selected theaters during the film’s first run. (The reason is obvious, once you watch the movie.) Did the unusual approach to taking a film this serious pay off? You bet it did.)

The movie created a worldwide sensation – and a national panic over showering in motel rooms. One concerned parent actually wrote to Alfred Hitchcock and complained that since seeing “Psycho,” her daughter had refused to take a shower out of fear. Hitchcock jokingly replied, suggesting the parents send their child to the Dry Cleaner’s.

“Psycho” is now more than 50 years old and by now, all of its shocks and surprises have been fully integrated into American pop culture. “Psycho” is now considered the parent of every slasher movie to come along during the last five decades. However, in a very real way, Norman Bates remains the scariest slasher of them all, because he doesn’t rely on gore or gimmicks (like Freddy Kreuger or Jason or Michael Meyers). Norman Bates looks like an average person…most of the time. Measured by this standard, “Psycho” is far scarier than any monster movie, because it’s about the real monsters that walk among us.


“And…cut.”

Meet the Masters in Film School
If you’re serious about becoming a filmmaker and learning about the techniques that masters like Hitchcock used to make movies, why not start by going to film school? If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, there’s no better time to learn the craft than now. Tools like Final Cut Pro X and After Effects make it easier than ever before to bring your cinematic vision to life. Who knows? You might have what it takes to be the next Alfred Hitchcock.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

The Future of Video Editing: Final Cut Pro X

Apple continues to drive toward its app-based business model with the release of Final Cut Pro X – a product that delivers not only features video editors wanted, but features video editors didn’t even know could exist.

Final Cut Pro is Apple’s popular professional non-linear editing application and is used by video editors all over the globe, for everything from documentaries to feature films such as True Grit.”

FCP hasn’t seen an upgrade in a few years, so FCPX is really exciting considering this isn’t just an update to FCP – it’s a complete rebuild of the already powerful application, with a host of jaw-dropping new features. FCPX uses the OS Xs’ Cocoa, Core Animation, Open CL, Grand Central Dispatch and includes 64-bit support.


Apple’s Randy Ubillos demonstrates Final Cut Pro X and its features at NAB in Las Vegas.

Apple’s chief architect of video applications, Randy Ubillos, demonstrated the new app before an eager crowd at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in Las Vegas. There was a list of new features centered around the User Interface overhaul, but the main three points Apple focused on when developing Final Cut Pro X were Image Quality, Organization and Editing. Let’s take a look at them:

Better Image Quality

With 64-bit support, editors can finally make use of more than 4GB of RAM. By utilizing Grand Central Dispatch, editors can now handle 4KB clips on 8-Core editing rigs. Final Cut Pro X also provides a newly designed floating-point linear color system.

Improved Organization

Organize your clips using “Smart Collections” and never misplace a piece of video again.

Simple iMovie-style functionality has been incorporated into FCPX, along with some new features of its own. “Smart Collections” for organizing clips is now available, based upon custom keywords and/or people. Also now featured are automatic face detection for a single person or group of people, and auto image stabilization upon import along with shot identification (e.g., medium, wide, close-up).

Faster Editing

Background rendering, much like that seen in iMovie, now allows you to get into your editing faster than ever before. A “magnetic” timeline means your audio and video will never fall out of sync again. Non-destructive color balancing allows you to experiment and create on-the-fly, without fear. Other new features – such as automatic audio clean-up and compound clips for easy video nesting – were also demoed.

When? How Much?
Apple hasn’t released an official press release in regard to Final Cut Pro X, nor has it officially recognized any of the rampant rumors about FCPX coming to the iPad 2. But Apple has said that Final Cut Pro X will be available to download from the App Store this June at $299.

Learn Final Cut Pro X
With the popularity of YouTube, mobile video and more, video editing is a more popular hobby than ever before, and it’s a hobby that can turn into a great career. Do you want to take your video editing expertise to the next level? Or get a guided tour of tools like Final Cut Pro X? Maybe you just sharpen your current skills and learn more about Final Cut? Digital Media Academy offers some the most popular and critically acclaimed film camps, with the industry’s longest-running courses based around video production and using Final Cut Pro. Register for a Digital Media Academy Filmmaking course that uses Final Cut Pro and learn the inside tips and secrets to the software that’s changing the way the world tells stories.

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posted by DMA Phill in News Blog and have No Comments