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Thursday, August 22, 2013

••◊ Visiting the ASC Clubhouse

I foolishly made another death defying trip up Interstate 5 to visit Hollywood today.  The ASC was hosting a talk by cinematographer Dan Mindel.  The ASC club house is just opposite Hollywood and Highland in north Hollywood, which makes for a lively neighborhood.  Usually when I get there in the morning the tourists and tour guides are just starting to wake up.  The Spider-Man/Superman/whatever-man's are just putting on their masks.  In fact, as I was exiting the parking garage stairs I came upon an unmasked Spider-Man...oh no, I now hold his secret identity!

After about 9-10am, the place turns into a nut-so tourist trap with street hustlers busking on every other walk of fame star.  It's like a game of outdoor checkers!  For $20 you can invade the privacy of many of Hollywood's stars through bus tours, walking tours, and street maps.  Alternately, there's Madame Tussaud's wax museum on the corner of Hollywood and Orange.  I'm over the celebrity thing, so in the first few minutes I'm looking for a retreat and a restroom - not necessarily in that order.

Below is a panorama shot of the ASC club house this morning.  This is clearly a welcome oasis from the opposite side of the block.


But...before we get much further, I had an hour to kill so I decided to take some photos of the early morning neighborhood so you can get a feel for the flavor...  Yes Aunt, that Star Trek group impression was just for you.  This picture also relates to the guest speaker I was about to see.

 
 








 
 

 

Back to the oasis...  Today's talk was given by Dan Mindel, ASC.  Dan has worked with many well established directors, such as the late Tony Scott, Oliver Stone, and most recently JJ Abrams.  Dan shot MI:3, as well as the last two Star Trek films with JJ.  Beautiful work.  Now for the BIG news.  Dan is scheduled to shoot the next STAR WARS film for JJ!  I was in the presence of greatness!  It was my destiny!  I would scrub toilets to be on that set.

Dan, ever the film guy, proudly announced that he will be shooting on Kodak 5219 film stock and knowing him it will be anamorphic too. 

I heard one great quote from Dan when discussing working with directors who are impatient with lighting a set.  He asks the director, "Do you know the difference between art and pornography?  ...Back lighting."  That usually shuts up the director for a bit.

On "Domino" he and Tony used 35mm film, a 7D, and older-than-the-hills hand crank cameras...Talk about mixed mediums.  I also learned about his use of lens flairs in the Star Trek movie.  They actually rent special Xenon flashlights from Mole-Richardson to ping the lens and create semi-random flares.  Only in Hollywood would high end rental houses have special purpose lens pinging flashlights (I am so out of touch with that world).


The ASC club house contains a number of historical cameras and pictures of an earlier adventurous era in film making.  If you look carefully at the group shot of pictures below you'll see a very young Shirley Temple taking a picture of the director of her film.

Further down there's a picture of the Akeley Audio Camera with the original headphones.  The headphones look like they came from a disassembled 1970's telephone.


 
 

 



Here's Thomas Edison's very early idea of home theater, which looks like a hand crank projector with belt drive.  I'm sure if some hipster technologist sees this there will soon be a kickstarter campaign to develop an updated one so their home theaters can be "different".


Lastly, here's an original Edison Kinetoscope.  Because the picture is a bit small, I'll copy the sign's text here..."The customer dropped a penny in the slot to view fifty feet of film.  Each machine ran a different subject.  The film was photographed at forty frames per second and ran at the same speed."  The machine still works, but now takes $0.05.  That's inflation.

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