A One-Hour Walk Along Hollywood Boulevard at Night with the Zeiss Otus Lenses.

Armed with two Zeiss Otus 1.4 ZE lenses (the 28mm and the 85mm) and two Sony Alpha cameras (the Sony A7R and the A7II), I took a walk along Hollywood Boulevard. The crispness and detail of these lenses is nothing short of amazing. I didn’t have a tripod with me, so I set the ASA to 1600 in most cases (something I can do with these new Sony’s), kept the f-stop to 1.4 for most and also upped the shutterspeed.

Exarchia in Athens, Greece – Beautiful Anarchy

(c) Cirina Catania

Thought for the day: The Exarchia neighborhood in Athens, Greece is filled with secret alleyways, enticing walkways, and narrow, cobble-stoned streets. I took this picture a few minutes before dawn on an early morning exploration. Graffiti, opinion, Vespas and soft light leading to a sign reading, “Ennoia Publications.” Communication by art, by word and by movement. The human condition of its citizens celebrated and condemned in a few short meters. Opinions on all sides welcome here. Discourse reigns and reminds us that we can begin to co-exist if we can voice our desires constructively. Do you have opinions? Are you able to share them without condemning those who disagree? Perhaps that might be a good way to start building your world, the world within which you may happily co-exist with others.

(c) Cirina Catania

Cowboys, branding and trail dust.

On a recent trip to Oregon I spent two weeks embedded with ranching families. There is so much to say about these amazing Americans and I’m culling through the photos now, but these two of Clint Casey and Jeff Maupin roping cattle make me smile.

Whew, it was dusty. It was hot. The cattle were bawling and milling around and cowboys on the periphery kept invading bulls at bay. Cow dogs worked, loving every minute of their assignment. They live for this. The crew kept things moving as each calf was brought in, branded and given their shots.

This was a noisy tattoo parlor indeed!

Jeff Maupin ropes cattle high up in the Oregon mountains. (c) Cirina Catania

Jeff Maupin ropes cattle high up in the Oregon mountains. (c) Cirina Catania

Clint Casey ropes cattle on his ranch in Oregon. (c) Cirina Catania

Clint Casey ropes cattle on his ranch in Oregon. (c) Cirina Catania

Switronix Hypercore 98S Batteries for the Field

Following is a excerpt from a press release issued today by Switronix about their Hypercore 98S batteries. We can’t officially review this product since we haven’t used it in the field and run it through its paces, but it sure looks great! We all want something lightweight and efficient. I also like the idea of clocking algorithm tied to the accelerometer to avoid that dreaded trickle-down!

The rig ready for work!

The rig ready for work!

LOS ANGELES, MARCH 21, 2016 — As a camera operator tasked with shooting comedy, it’s no small feat trying to capture all of the laughs. With legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his all-star roster of comedic friends that he welcomes onto his web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (CCGC), you better come prepared and powered up at all times so you don’t miss a single joke. For Steadicam operator Jessica Lopez, that means stocking her rig with the Hypercore 98S batteries from Switronix, a leader in battery and charging solutions for the Digital Cinema and Professional Video industry.

Lopez, a Steadicam operator for nearly 10 years, handles the Los Angeles camera work for Seinfeld’s comedy project. The online series captures Seinfeld driving around town and having coffee, while chatting away with fellow star comedians and other special guests (including President Barack Obama) as they tackle various topics. The series airs online via four different platforms: Crackle, YouTube, Facebook, and the series’ own website.

Jessica Lopez checks her setup before filming on Comedians in Cars "

Jessica Lopez checks her setup before filming on “

Lopez shoots on a variety of cameras such as REDTM, ARRITM, Canon C300, Sony A7s and GoPro. This current season, she is shooting with the ARRI ALEXA Mini and AMIRA. Lopez has served as the project’s Los Angeles-based Steadicam operator for the past few seasons and primarily uses Switronix Hypercore 98S batteries to power her cameras. “I’ve been using Switronix on and off in the field via rentals for a few years now,” says Lopez. “A big part of my responsibility on-set is showing up with reliable gear.I recently became an owner of the Hypercore 98S batteries in 2015.Its compatibility with Anton/Bauer chargers that are already in the field makes it the perfect battery for my line of work.”

In addition, Lopez says the battery’s lighter-weight capability allows her to always be ready to do a long shot. “Everyday is a challenge on CCGC,” adds Lopez. “It’s not easy and requires all of us to always be on the ball, ready to move at a moment’s notice with heavy gear. I go where my boss goes and the last thing I need to worry about is power failing.”

As a member of the Hypercore series, the 98S is a low-profile battery and the first battery pack capable of handling high draw loads, perfect for powering cameras such as RED, ARRI Mini Alexa, etc. The Hypercore line was developed to provide the best in Lithium Ion technology for UAV, Handheld Gimbal and all other applications demanding a low-profile, lightweight battery pack. The battery cells are incased in an over-molded, rubberized housing providing additional protection against accidental impacts. The Hypercore 98S, like the rest of the Hypercore line, is outfitted with an accelerometer to detect motion.

If you want to order now, Amazon has a two-battery bundle here

One of the issues with other battery packs is self-discharge when not in use. The Hypercore 98S avoids this issue by using a clocking algorithm, which is tied to the accelerometer to gauge how long the battery is not in use. The battery pack will hibernate when there is no battery usage or movement for 48 hours, and once the camera is put to use again, it will detect the movement and ‘awaken,’ coming back to maximum capacity and power. The Hypercore family also offers an integrated P-tap connection on the side of the battery allowing users to power any 12vdc device.

About Switronix
Switronix is a leader in the market of batteries and charging solutions for the Digital Cinema and the Professional Video industry. The company strives to continue to reinvent itself with innovative power solutions with a product line that also includes LED lighting, power regulation cables, and accessories. For more information about Switronix, please visit www.switronix.com

Cirina Catania: First Look: The Berlin Film Festival

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 5.04.28 AM Listen to the interview here.
(Berlin, Germany, Feb 2, 2016) The 66th Berlin International Film Festival is about to start and Cirina Catania is already musing about it on the BuZZ. How do you pick what you want to see when over 400 films from more than 95 countries are being screened in numerous categories. And do you choose between the Creativity of film or the Commerce of film? Both are here in force.

This year, as in years past, she has chosen to cover the main competition films and will be screening an average of 3 per day during the Berlinale. What will win her over? Ah, that remains to be seen. She and her other friends in the press who are here will undoubtedly be debating that subject over lunches and dinners. The winner is always a surprise.

But the one constant is that everyone goes away inspired.

Over at the EFM, more than 400 companies are buying/selling/screening their movies, including 77 documentaries.

The “Bear is loose!” Follow Cirina as she navigates one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, the “66th Internationale Filfestspiele Berlin” (Berlin Internatinonal Film Festival) opening Feb 11 and running until Feb 21.

Cirina Catania is the supervising producer of The Buzz, as well as a filmmaker, journalist, and former senior executive with United Artists and MGM. She is also one of the founders of the Sundance Film […]

Source: Cirina Catania: First Look: The Berlin Film Festival

(Larry Jordan, EP/Host, The Digital Production BuZZ)

CES 2016, The iPadPro w/Tripod Mount & All My Tech Favs!

Unboxing the iShot Pro 12.9" Tripod Mount for the iPad Pro

Unboxing the iShot Pro 12.9″ Tripod Mount for the iPad Pro

Here’s the bottom line on the iShot G7 Mount For 12.9″ iPad Pro for those of you who don’t have time to read:
It works, but it needs some improvement, as it is a bit wobbly. However, how can you complain if it DOES work and it only costs $45, and at last glance there was nothing else out there. You can find it on Amazon

For those of you, who have nothing better to do than to read my ramblings, here’s the full story.

Ok, if you know me, you know I’m a gadget geek just like you! When the new iPad Pro came out, I was in the Sherman Oaks Apple Store looking at the new iMac and had no intention of buying anything else (for obvious reasons – this stuff gets expensive, right?)

But, there it was, sitting quietly in the entrance to the room. Too much tech for most of the holiday visitors, but calling to me like a siren on storm-bashed rocks. It was magnetic. I was pulled over and within seconds heard myself saying, “I’ll take that too.” OMG. Now what?

Happy to say, I fell in love at first encounter. Unboxed it and immediately knew – this was my fate. I was addicted. I could use this to watch my favorite movies on Netflix! (Did I really just say that on a tech blog?) Yep. But, seriously, and more importantly, I wanted to give it a try for my field production and mobile journalism. No, it will never replace professional cameras and lenses for most of my work, but there would surely be uses for it that we might not have thought of.

A few days later, I was at the Digital Cinema Society enjoying the event hosted by James Mathers. I was interviewing some of the execs and creatives and decided to wander the room with my camera op (William LaChasse and host Suzanne LaChasse – yes, she’s second generation Hollywood). We had set up an interview room in the theater upstairs, lit beautifully so the Black Magic 4K could shine. But what about downstairs on the main floor where the vendors were showing their wares and people were milling around.

The iShot and iPad Pro mounted on the tripod

The iShot and iPad Pro mounted on the tripod

Out came the iPad Pro, tethered to a Shure SM58 (which, by the way, turns 50 this year!) via an IK Multimedia iRig PRO Audio/MIDI Interface. Here’s one of the videos starring Film Vault’s very own Suzanne with Blackmagic’s Fred Beahm.

A month later I found myself at CES and used the same setup for all my coverage. Frankly, I looked at some of the other crews trudging through an event with 160,000 other humans all crowded into the narrow spaces between booths carrying heavy “broadcast” cameras with sound carts trailing … not a pretty site.

The iShot and iPad Pro mounted on the tripod

The iShot and iPad Pro mounted on the tripod

Rubber wrapped grips on the iShot

Rubber wrapped grips on the iShot

There I was happily strolling on the hunt for great tech with my “rig.”
There are a few GoPro imitators, some at the show and some on Kickstarter – I’ve already invested in one incarnation of those but my feeling is why rock the boat if it is already being navigated by a great pilot.

However, there was ONE small rig that caught my eye over in the drone section..it is called OSMO. For just over $600 you have a stabilized small 4K camera with a hand grip that can take automatic 360 degree panoramas, do time-lapse, and allow you to take long exposures because it has a built in gyro – and you can clip your smartphone to it and use the phone as a monitor – very cool

the DJI Osmo

the DJI Osmo

Fun note:::::The G-Tech Ev line is now protected by bumpers similar to the LaCie Ruggeds’ that we have been using – I want to get up close and personal with those for my field shoots!

Two audio solutions from Sennheiser blew me away.
Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 7.53.46 PM
One is the Ambeo 3D virtual reality ambisonic microphone with four capsules that allows us to capture an entire field of sound with one microphone- it works with 360 degree cameras and delivers some amazing results – why have VR if you don’t have great VR sound to go with it?
Click HERE for the video.

The Second was the tiny Clip Mic Digital (from Apogee and Sennheiser) that is connected to your device via lighting cable and has a free app to go with it that allows you to monitor your levels, rumble, hiss and has a built-in pre amp that avoids drop-outs in the signal. I used it to record the interview about it and was really impressed. My problem with most small digital lavs is they aren’t able to give us enough volume, and of course, they don’t have a lightning connector!

Everywhere you looked there were Occulus rift glasses, Google cardboard compatible products, but there was a very interesting high-end VR glass from Zeiss VR 1 that lets us experience and control your virtual reality using your smartphone – great for gaming and it also controls your drone (compatible with several models of the DJI Phantom

Zeiss also has a new optical system for data glasses (it is 4 minutes into this clip) that look like regular glasses and allow you to view your augmented reality and app projections in front of your eye rather than being projected into the eye.

Drones seemed to be everywhere, as well as robots, so I voted for robots because they are more fun.

Meccano was there in force (they are huge, I grew up with them) but there was another company called Makeblock that sells DIY kits for kids ranging from $75 on up – it’s compatible with Lego parts and uses a free graphic program that helps to teach kids how to make robots
CES 2016_Makeblock_QQ截图20151207195830-300x197
For gaming – my favorite pick has to be Virtuix’s Omni – truly the next generation with a full physical experience of the environment. Jump into the individual ring, on to the treadmill, grab your weapon of choice and get a workout while you crush the bad guys!

For the fashion/tech side of me, I have to say great things about the gorgeous leather tech bags at Lepow and the stylish chargers that I’ve become addicted to? Umm…kids, my birthday is coming up! (hint)

My very favorite gadget was the Brew Genie that let’s you start brewing your coffee from you bed using your iPhone or iPad. Can you say, princess?

You can go to FilmVault.biz for a link to more videos on my new YouTube Channel. I promise I’ll update the site more often – you can also go to TheCataniaGroup.com for information on the films I’m working on.

Future of Branded Content Lies With In-House Media Hubs

Written by: Gideon Marken

Chivas Regal hired The Catania Group, via their ad agency and Microsoft, to direct/produce a series of 38 webisodes to promote their brand on the Web as far back as 2008. Some say it may be the first endeavor of this kind.

Chivas Regal hired The Catania Group, via their ad agency and Microsoft, to direct/produce a series of 38 webisodes to promote their brand on the Web as far back as 2008. Some say it may be the first endeavor of this kind.

What do a hotel, an energy drink, and a creative computer software have in common? The answer lies in their content marketing strategy.

RedBull. The Marriott. Adobe. While these three brands are seemingly unrelated to one another, they all share a common thread: they all own a media hub that produces engaging content.

Marketing and media have become closely intertwined over the years as brands turn to native advertising and influencer marketing to spread the word. With a focus on storytelling, marketers need to create a compelling but educational message that naturally captivates audiences rather than bore them to death. In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with advertisements and brand promotions, only relevant narratives that audiences can relate to will see the most success. The most effective messages are the ones that feel like they’re coming from our peers rather than a corporate entity.

Take Adobe for example. Best known as a creative computer software company that helps people create, deliver and optimize content, Adobe actually owns CMO.com, a site that delivers news, insight and expertise for marketing leaders. In fact, it’s “so objective, it’s hard to tell that it is an Adobe property,” says Ann Lewnes, the CMO of Adobe. Individuals looking for marketing expertise trust the site because it curates content from thought leaders across the industry and doesn’t feel like you’re reading an Adobe webpage. Rather, people looking for expertise on multiple marketing topics can pick from a library of articles written by top industry leaders who share their advice in the form of text.

Another popular form of brand messaging comes in the form of videos. “Video is highly engaging and entertaining,” remarks Lewnes. “As marketers, you need to think about how many ways I can reuse videos I produce.” That’s exactly what Red Bull was looking to capitalize upon when they launched their Red Bull TV service, featuring programming from live global events and sports, music and lifestyle entertainment. It’s free for viewers to watch and promotes Red Bull as an action-packed, extreme product that delivers awesome content on any mobile device. Similarly, Marriott’s creative agency seeks to establish itself as the go-to publishing brand for the travel industry, with an entire division dedicated to building video content

For some, editorial integrity is a huge challenge. “We have tools to understand what is working and what is not,” says Lewnes. “So it’s a shame if you can’t figure out what your audience cares about.” Simply producing content for the sake of producing won’t get your brand very far. Creating a story for your brand is great but unless it’s relevant to your audience it might not accomplish the goals you set for yourself. The content you produce should educate, engage and entertain; it should target your audience’s needs and, most importantly, your target market shouldn’t feel the need to skip past or ignore your content.

Brands have become wiser over the years, understanding that in order to engage with their audience efficiently means staying ahead of digital trends. As media and marketing continue to intersect, we see the lines blurring between what constitutes as brand storytelling and brand messaging. An Instagram photo you like could be part of a fashion brand’s social influencer marketing campaign. Record companies might hire popular figures on social media to cover music festivals via Snapchat or Vine. The most persuasive and effective messages are stories that connect brands to their target market on the digital platforms that are most popular within that demographic.

This new in-house approach for many brands is in part due to the demand for more content and long-term interactive campaigns. Instead of hiring a third-party to consult and create marketing materials for them, brands are using the tools and data available to them to produce content that they know their audience will engage with. As consumers increasingly are able to distinguish branded messages from content created by their peers, brands need to alter their tune to stay relevant to their customers and to avoid ignored.

Kionte Storey, Wounded Marine Corporal – The Film

KionetWe are making a film about Kionte Storey, a Wounded Marine Corporal who lost a leg in Afghanistan but who now trains every day in hopes of gaining a spot on the International Paralympic Team. Kionte’s message is a powerful, inspirational and hopeful one. He travels frequently to visit with other wounded veterans and the families who are dealing with the effects of trauma, PTSD, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Yes, I want to help!

Principal photography is almost completed and we are ready to go into post production. Here’s a link to the Kionte Storey Film Facebook page.

Two things are important. First, Please share this link far and wide so we can link together and spread the word.

Secondly, help us finish this film by donating any amount that is comfortable and affordable to you. Even $5 can make a difference!

Let’s make this movie together!

Thank you!
Kionte Kojo on track_Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 7.38.38 PM copy

How to Submit to Writing Programs at the Networks and Studios

Writer/Journalist Ken Choy is an expert on submitting scripts to networks and studios.

Writer/Journalist Ken Choy is an expert on submitting scripts to networks and studios.

Ken Choy, writer and journalist, details the process involved in submitting your script to the writing programs at networks and studios.  You’ll want to hear his tips and tricks for outpacing the pack! (The interview runs just under 20 minutes – enjoy!)

Interview with Ken Choy

Journalist and TV writer Ken Choy’s blog GizmoPorn–“Porn for Gizmos, not Gizmos for Porn”–covers tech and includes the gamut from entertainment to food to automobiles..Ken moderates the Disney-ABC Talent Development panels at Wondercon and Comic-Con.He’s currently developing a sci-fi IP, The Millionth that has a 360 approach covering script, comic book, video games, and strategies for licensing, social media, and product placement.

Find out more at Gizmo Porn or Wide Lantern