cinematography
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  • NYFA Cinematography Instructor Piero Basso Works on NAT GEO’s ‘American Genius’

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    wright brothers

    For the history buffs and science nerds in all of us, National Geographic Channel has created a new television series called American Genius. Produced by Stephen David Entertainment, the series captures the story of the unseen forces behind the greatest races for innovation, the moments when the brightest minds were given the rare opportunity to change the world. Be it a problem, opportunity, or call to arms: when key events in our history launched a wave of innovation, genius prevailed in a neck-and-neck competition for technological superiority. Each show is a combination of re-enactment and documentary footage, plus interviews with experts and historians. An example of a show is a discussion of the Wright Brothers vs Curtiss on the invention of the airplane.

    New York Film Academy Cinematography Instructor Piero Basso worked on four episodes as director of photography over a four week period in West Virginia last September.

    “The production was very challenging and demanding, which made it even more interesting,” said Basso. “We shot 22 days for 4 episodes, which makes it pretty clear why speed was a necessary trait for the DP. I found myself surrounded by a great number of highly trained professionals working very efficiently as a team, and that made everything easier.”

    american genius

    Basso has shot nine feature films — four with very low budgets — showing a great capacity for managing the problems of limited equipment and crew while maintaining a distinctive visual character. His films have screened in major international festivals, including Cannes and Locarno and have received international recognition, including nominations at the European Film Awards & at the David di Donatello, as well as several victories at Festivals around the globe (including Oberhausen, Edinburgh, Turin, and Huesca).

    Be sure to check out Basso’s work on American Genius, which begins airing on the National Geographic Channel this upcoming Monday, June 1st.

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    May 28, 2015 • Cinematography • Views: 6647

  • BFA Student Shane Golden Shoots Feature Film ‘Tapestry’

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    shane goldenWith the variety of programs and locations at the New York Film Academy, we provide students with the opportunity to not only explore the world but also hone their craft in several disciplines while earning a degree. One of our former Two Year Filmmaking students in New York, Shane Golden, took advantage of NYFA’s resources by studying in New York City while simultaneously interning for a Hollywood filmmaker. Now, he’s finishing his studies at our Los Angeles campus, where he just finished working as Co-Director of Photography on the upcoming feature film Tapestry.

    The film, directed by Ken Kushner, stars actors Burt Young and Stephen Baldwin. The story revolves around a man (Stephen Baldwin) in the midst of a heavy personal and spiritual crisis. Aided by his father (Burt Young), and his family, he embarks on a personal journey that will forever change him.

    We recently had the chance to catch up with Golden, who has his hands full with projects both inside and outside of the school.

    Burt young

    Shane Golden with actor Burt Young

    Hello, Shane, congrats on wrapping your feature film, Tapestry! Can you begin by telling us how you first became involved with this film?

    Vanja Ulepic, the Director of Photography of the film asked if I wanted to co-DP on the film with him. He and Ken Kushner, the Director of Tapestry, both really liked the successful online campaign video I had just produced for the tech company, Rocki.

    How long was the shoot?

    The shoot was in production for a little over 6 weeks.

    Would you say your training at NYFA was useful in terms of your transition to DP’ing on a feature film like Tapestry?

    Definitely. Between my time at NYFA and the times I’ve been fortunate enough to spend interning, I felt confident in my abilities as a filmmaker. I never considered myself a DP, and had no ambition to become one, but after this experience, I have a new found appreciation and respect for the craft. Before we started I remember thinking, “I have no idea what the hell I’m doing as a DP,” but when I got into action and with the language and skills I developed at NYFA, I was able to effectively communicate with the cast and crew on the production.

    Was there any particular shot/scene or influence you had on Tapestry that you’re most proud of?

    There are some tracking shots we did of Stephen’s character in the office where he works that came out really great aesthetically for camera and helped to establish the tone of the film.
    There’s also a scene we shot with Burt Young in this church that came out phenomenal. The architecture was beautiful and allowed for a lot of possibilities when it came to blocking for both the actors and the camera.

    When and where can we see the film? Is there an official release date yet?

    The film is set to be released in theaters sometime next year.

    stephen baldwin

    Shane Golden with actor Stephen Baldwin

    Are you currently working on another project? If so, can you tell me a little about it.

    I have a few projects, currently. I’m actually now working on the Tapestry soundtrack as a singer/songwriter. Ken, the Director, heard my music and really
    loved it. He asked me if I would sing something for the soundtrack and I said of course. It’s being produced by Grammy winning songwriter/producer Jane’t Sewell-Ulepic and Vanja Ulepic. I’m definitely honored and humbled to be this involved with the project. Besides that, I just booked another feature for later this year, but I don’t have too many details on that project as of yet.

    What is your goal as a filmmaker and cinematographer?

    Simply put, my goal is to tell great stories. I want to make films that touch audiences and inspire my peers to wanna keep creating and producing films that entertain and influence the world.

    Is there any advice could give for current students studying cinematography?

    I would say just know there’s no right or wrong to this. Experience, technique and knowledge of the equipment obviously helps, but at the end of the day you have to use what you have and, as a DP especially, work to make an image that’s
    interesting to you and that best tells the story. Awards and accolade are nice, but I think getting better at your craft is the true gem of any artists pursuit.

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    March 9, 2015 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 7357

  • This Dress Is Showing Everyone the Power of Color

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    the dress

    By now, the only excuse for not knowing about #TheDress would be if your Internet’s been out for the past twelve hours. While some viral memes are said to be breaking the Internet, this one is breaking people’s brains—a grainy photo of a dress is splitting the world into those who see it as white and gold and those who see it as blue and black.

    Rumor is that the dress is, in fact, blue and black, but those in the white-and-gold camp believe this is some sort of truth-masking conspiracy, like the lone gunman and the moon landing. Wired has even published a scientific account explaining what’s going on here—it involves the cones and rods in our eyes that receive color and translate images in the visual cortex for the brain. Because of this, sometimes our brains can be tricked, which isn’t exactly news—who hasn’t been dumbfounded by optical illusions like this?

    But besides taking attention away from llama drama, #TheDress controversy has another big benefit—it’s showing everyone just how powerful and important the use of color can be in an image. The students in New York Film Academy’s filmmaking school and cinematography school programs know this all too well—one of the first things they learn is how to properly white balance their digital cameras. White balancing calibrates a camera to read white light as pure white, allowing the rest of the spectrum to fall properly into place. An improperly white balanced image may leave whites looking blue (or gold.) Filmmakers may intentionally warp the colors of their image. Blues can create a downbeat tone, much like minor keys in music. Orange and Reds are considered warm and can be used for the opposite effect in filmmaking.

    It’s not just filmmakers who benefit from playing with the science of color. Our students in New York Film Academy’s graphic design school programs learn how to change the way we perceive images with Photoshop and other software—tools that can break down an image into its very makeup of reds, blues and greens. Right now, they’re the ones everybody is looking to for a final, definite answer to #TheDress question. Of course, we’re all going to listen to our guts—and our eyes—no matter what they tell us.

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    February 27, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 4372

  • Birdman Wins Top Cinematography Award

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    birdman cinematography

    This weekend, Emmanuel Lubezki picked up the American Society of Cinematographers Award for Best Feature Cinematography for his work on the Alejandro G. Iñárritu film, Birdman. Lubezki also made history, tying the record of most ASC wins with Conrad L. Hall, with an impressive four victories in the category. Lubezki won previously for shooting the Alfonso Cuaron films Gravity and Children of Men as well as the Terence Malick film The Tree of Life.

    Like Gravity, Birdman features long takes that are not just tricky for actors but for cinematographers who must carefully choreograph and execute the shots. Birdman seamlessly edits the long takes to give the impression the film is one extended shot for the entire feature.

    The win gives more momentum to Birdman as it heads into the final stretch of the Oscar season. Many consider Birdman a close second favorite to Boyhood, with the competition hard to predict outright. With the ASC win, Lubezki has a solid chance at scoring the Oscar for Best Cinematography, though he faces tough competition from the other contenders, with Ida, Mr. Turner, Unbroken and The Grand Budapest Hotel competing in the category.

    Among the other ASC awards given out, Boardwalk Empire’s Jonathan Freeman beat out presumed favorite Game of Thrones for the television prize, and Barbra Streisand accepted the annual Governors Award.

    If you dream of maybe winning the ASC Award one day, check out our cinematography school programs here.

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    February 16, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 4695

  • Congratulations to Degree Program Graduates at NYFA Los Angeles!

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    Graduation NYFA
    New York Film Academy Los Angeles Filmmaking, Acting, Producing, Screenwriting, Photography and Cinematography students received their MFA, MA, BFA and AFA degrees this past Saturday, January 24th during Commencement Ceremonies held at the Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood, California. Family and friends of the students attended two afternoon graduations (at 3pm for Acting, Screenwriting, Cinematography & Photography students and 6:30pm for Filmmaking & Producing students) completely filling the 400 seat theater for each. Department chairs Art Helterbran (Filmmaking), Lynda Goodfriend (Acting), Tony Schwartz (Producing), Nunzio DeFilippis (Screenwriting), Bobbi Fabian (Photography), and Michael Pessah (Cinematography), addressed their students, offering their final words of wisdom and best wishes for the future.
    graduation speech
    Commencement Speakers Randal Kleiser (film director of Grease, Blue Lagoon, White Fang and Flight of the Navigator) and Patrick Rush (casting director of Party of Five, Dawson’s Creek, Supernatural and The O.C.) gave candid and humorous advice for students navigating the Hollywood system. Afterwards students, family and friends celebrated elegantly at the Riot House Restaurant in West Hollywood’s Andaz Hotel. Congratulations to all of NYFA’s 2015 degree program graduates!
    graduates
    Congrats to all of our NYFA LA Graduates:
    MFA in Filmmaking
    Saud Al-Moghirah
    Alessandro Amante
    Ramazanova Banu
    Carlos Amaral Baptista
    Nadir Bennaceur
    Isaac Michael Blankenship
    Maria Valentina Carmona Corral
    Lilia Dalakishvili
    Yul Gatewood
    Robert James Gould
    Ritesh Jeswani
    Satoshi Kameoka
    Adrenia Shanell Kemp
    Alexander G. Tobias
    TaoHsiu Wei
    Yazhen Zhang
    Wangshu Zhao
    Mingtao Zhou
    Yanjun Zhou

    MA in Film & Media Production
    Sichen Ai
    Hanaa Saleh Alfassi
    Obisesan Allen Bobola
    Hongyi Cao
    Luciana F Capela
    Zhuo Chen
    Konstantin Frolov
    Zalikha Harun
    Meghan Mildred Hooper
    He Huang
    Jiang Jiang
    Minghang Jiang
    Srinivasa Jonnavithula
    Aditya Patwardhan
    Nadeen Salam Said
    Lisa Schulz
    Dimitrios Tranos
    Fei Fei Wang
    Xurui Wang
    Jiaduo Wu
    Yining Yan
    Liang Zhao
    Yucheng Zhao

    BFA in Filmmaking
    Eskil Brattgjerd
    Hang Cheng
    Noé Miguel Obregón Escobar
    Rachel Karen Gallagher
    Georgy Gorshunov
    Lu He
    Junyao Hu
    Joelle Kahn
    Oscar Benjamin Lyons
    Akshay Pradeep
    Hao Zhang
    Qihuan Zheng
    Tong Zhou
    Camila Varela Zolezzi

    AFA in Filmmaking
    Darío Navarro Anzaldúa
    Rory Butcher
    Jamie Deacon
    Christopher Dyrell Dickerson
    Matthew A Escobedo
    Shantal Lenya Freedman
    Adam Gomez
    Michael James Gros
    Bruno Paolucci
    Christian Smith

    MFA in Acting for Film
    Cody Lyle Asher
    Jovanna Avila
    Parvane Baharian
    Pamela Oma Belonwu-Ifedi
    Lixuan Geng
    Jean Hyppolite
    Keaton Kaplan
    David Grant Kuskie
    Tamara Kvashilava
    Kevin Chua Peng Liang
    Phoebe Ray McHenry
    Adam Wayne Ohl
    Laura Anna-Katariina Ollikainen
    Amir Abdul Rahim
    Cesar Ramirez
    Kathleen M. Roy
    Sally Shepard
    Leandro Manuel Vargas Simoza
    Jeremy Sykes
    Klement Tinaj
    Amanda Anne Vannucchi
    Nina Ce’Mone Wright
    Han Xing
    Xinwan Yu

    BFA in Acting for Film
    Gianlorenzo Albertini
    Diana Salazar Arias
    Adam El-Manawy
    Jonghoon Han
    Deniz Kara
    John Franklin Karbousky II
    Monique Oberholzer
    Elena Petrukhina
    Randall Julian William Stanley
    James Earl Surman Jr
    Kris Swinnen

    AFA in Acting for Film
    Morgan Elese Aiken
    Sonia Gonzalez Arrieta
    Luis Facci
    Maxine Foreman
    Amber Greene
    Molly Kelly
    Sebastian Mayer
    James Millot
    Candace Rachelle Morris
    Shaquann Nesbitt
    Nehal Patel
    Nicolas Puorro
    John Reeve
    Arkan Satrio
    Jeremy Harris Shechtman
    Milbelynn Soto
    Megan Leigh Wright

    MFA in Producing
    Cynara Aziza Cherry-Cary
    Yiling Du
    Gabriel Amora de Farias
    Faustino Felix Figueroa
    Xingyu Gao
    Alessandra Micol Ghisolfi
    Li Guannan
    Yingshan Jiang
    Omar Ahmed Tariq Murad
    Yuki Naito
    Charles J. Pass
    Mariana Patricia Pineda M.
    Lifen Ruan
    Chun Shen
    Xuewei Yang
    Leying Zhang
    Qingqing Zhang
    Tianhui Zheng

    BFA in Producing
    Mariana Mendez Alejandre
    Aida Mamezhanova
    Diego Del Rio Toca

    MFA in Screenwriting
    Eric J. Arias
    Edward E. Arnold
    Livia Azzolini
    Kevin André Easley Jr.
    Michael E Madvedoff
    Eshan Parikh
    Kalei Sue Pipczynski
    Rohan Sunil Thakkar
    LeeMar Turner
    Rebecca Verdia
    Zachary Alan Xanders
    Dongjing Yuan

    AFA in Screenwriting
    Chris Arneson
    Samira Elhidmi

    MFA in Photography
    Casey Landon Asher
    Donald Hoffman
    Li Sun
    Qiang Ye
    Lishabai Yi
    Qian Zhe

    MFA in Cinematography
    Loai Ibrahim A Khalifah
    Ora Tiffany Littlejohn
    Robert McIntosh
    Gaofei Zheng

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  • Underwater Cinematography Classes

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    underwater

    The third semester MFA Cinematography students at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus have been busy! Following their two weeks shooting on the Universal Soundstage, the cinematographers jumped right into the Underwater Workshop, learning tricks and techniques for capturing great underwater shots.

    The two-day workshop was taught by instructor Tom Boyd, one of Hollywood’s top underwater camera operators with credits including Little Miss Sunshine, Heroes, and Crimson Tide. Students began with a visit to Hydroflex, the industry leaders in underwater camera support, where they learned the specifics of how to use different underwater housings to keep the camera protected. They talked about the challenges of working below the surface and the optical effect that water has on focus, movement and composition. The students finished the day by learning about the proper safety protocols and prepping the equipment.

    After getting their hands on the gear during the first day, the students were ready for day two: the underwater shoot. The students worked in the pool at Aqua Adventures, shooting takes with a professional stunt diver. They photographed a scene that starts on the deck, but then takes the camera underwater to follow the actress as she falls off the edge and into the pool. With Tom’s guidance, the students learned how to approach this challenging scenario and nail the shot.

    The Underwater Workshop is a truly unique course offered in the MFA Cinematography program at NYFA in Los Angeles. Students have the opportunity to learn about creating images in a different environment while grabbing some great footage for their reels.

    underwater cinematography

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    August 27, 2014 • Cinematography • Views: 12792

  • NYFA Cinematography Students in Los Angeles Shoot on Universal Soundstage

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    cinematography workshop

    At New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus, the MFA and One-Year Cinematography students have recently completed a two-week workshop on the soundstage at Universal Studios. Taught by instructors, Tommy Maddox-Upshaw (credits include the upcoming Straight Outta Compton, Iron Man 2, When the Levee Broke), Jacek Laskus, ASC (The Devil’s Arithmetic, The Guardian, Parting Glances) and Suki Medencevic, ASC (The Pixar Story, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, Jonas), the cine students took this unique opportunity to apply all of the skills they’ve been building and put them to use in a professional stage environment.

    The workshop began with students designing two sets in the Universal sound stage: putting up the flats, painting the set, and getting the props and set decoration in place. With their set built, the students began conducting their lighting exercises and learning the nuances of how to work in a setting where the cinematographer has complete control. They made use of increased available power, firing up bigger lighting units including 5K tungsten fresnels to illuminate the sets. This was also an opportunity for the NYFA cinematographers to focus on camera operating and shot design. Students used advanced dollies to move the camera smoothly and execute intricate moving shots. Scenes were shot using a variety of film and digital formats including Super 16mm, 35mm, and the Red Epic system.

    Throughout the workshop, students learned many new techniques for lighting sets, creating different moods and effects with light, moving the camera, and staging shots. At the end of the two weeks, these cinematographers had completed difficult lighting setups and dynamic moving shots, and each had some great new shots for their reels. The knowledge built during this workshop provides a fundamental set of skills for our students, giving them an edge as they move towards their careers in the film industry.

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    August 26, 2014 • Cinematography, Community Highlights • Views: 5816

  • Making Magic at NYFA

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    virtual stage

    Director of Photography Yan Rymsha composes the shot of Sawicki playing the giant.

    The students in my Cine 810 class in visual effects cinematography outdid themselves recently by shooting a mock Solar Power commercial complete with miniatures and size scaled performers. Originally, the plan was to have the concept take place during the day but director of photography student Yan Rymsha suggested that it take place at night with mysterious film noir lighting.

    I loved the idea and modified the script just before the shoot. The principal photography took place on a green screen stage in Hollywood and is an example of a poor man’s virtual set. The miniature and myself (playing the giant) was set up at one end of the stage and was shot with a Red Epic A camera. Colin Meyer, playing the solar panel owner, was shot in the same room simultaneously with a Red Epic B camera, using the same focal length lens as the A camera. This enabled the performances and camera angles to be synchronized very easily.

    To “pre viz” the shots a Panasonic AS50S switcher was used to do a rough video composite between the two cameras to make sure the critical alignment was spot on. The crew also used an Atomos Ninja recorder to record the output of the switcher for editing purposes. The giant coin prop was created by sticking a blow up photo of a coin on a film can and having Colin pick it up off of a C-stand. Animation of the giant’s hand holding the coin was then executed in After Effects to link up with the prop coin that Colin picked up at just the right frame. The shoot took all of a fun filled eight hour day. Post compositing was executed in After Effects and saved in our database of real world exercises. The students and I had a lot of fun shooting the project and we look forward to developing more virtual stage projects here at NYFA Los Angeles.

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    July 25, 2014 • 3D Animation, Cinematography • Views: 4956

  • NYFA Students Shoot Workshop Scenes at Lincoln Heights Jail

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    lincoln heights

    At New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus, we’re always looking to take advantage of the many great locations here in Hollywood. Recently, the Filmmaking and Cinematography programs conducted two of their intensive workshops at Lincoln Heights Jail. During its heyday, the jail famously housed Charles Manson, as well as legendary actor Robert Mitchum following his conviction for the possession of marijuana in 1948. Lincoln Heights closed its door as working jail in the late 60’s, and has since served as the backdrop for such notable films as “L.A. Confidential”, “American History X” and more recently “Iron Man 2”.

    The third semester MFA Cinematography students spent three days at the location for the Advanced Lighting workshop, bringing in a 600 amp generator, heavy duty cable and power distribution. They learned how to properly set up an array of high-powered lights including 10K tungsten fresnels, a 9 Light Maxi-Brute and a 4K HMI PAR. Instructor Jeff Siljenberg presented different challenges and scenarios to the students as the class lit shots in the jail cells, corridors and warden’s office, capturing the scenes on the Red Epic camera. The cinematographers got some great footage for their reels while they learned how to work with big lights in a practical location.

    The second semester MA Filmmaking students joined them at Lincoln Heights, shooting scenes for their 35mm Cinematography workshop. During the week-long workshop, the filmmakers learned how to operate and shoot 35mm film using a Panavision camera and lenses. After their initial hands-on training, instructor Matt Kohnen took the students on location to test their new skills shooting different scenes on 35mm film while incorporating dolly moves into the setups.

    Lincoln Heights proved to be the perfect setting for both workshops, and the students walked away with memorable experiences and great shots!

    lincoln heights

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    June 30, 2014 • Cinematography, Filmmaking • Views: 7697

  • NYFA LA Cinematography Students Conduct Ultimate Camera Shoot-Out with Arriflex Alexa

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    Cinematography Class NYFA

    By their 4th semester, the MFA Cinematography students at New York Film Academy Los Angeles have worked with a wide variety of film and digital cameras including 35mm, Super 16mm, Red Epic and Scarlet to name only a few. With the Master’s Camera Technique class now underway, they can add the Arriflex Alexa to that list. LA Cinematography Chair Michael Pessah has been teaching them the in’s and out’s of this cutting edge camera, taking a hands-on approach by shooting tests and scenes throughout the class.

    In addition to working with the Alexa, the class is also conducting the “Ultimate Camera Shoot-Out”. Under the guidance of instructors Michael Pessah and Rick Greenwood, the cinematographers will shoot tests to evaluate the best of the best cameras, gaining an understanding of the strengths of each format. The test will examine the following nine cameras:

    • camera testArriflex 535 (35mm)
    • Arriflex SR3 (Super 16mm)
    • Arriflex Alexa
    • Red Epic
    • Red Scarlet
    • Sony F65
    • Canon C300
    • Blackmagic Pocket Cinema
    • Canon 5D mk3

    The class will view the footage in a high-end color correction room at Fotokem in Burbank, allowing the students to see critical differences in a professional screening environment. The students are excited about this unique opportunity to compare the various state-of-the-art formats and look forward to viewing the results. We are confident this will give them the knowledge to pick the right camera for each project as they start their careers the film industry.

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    June 13, 2014 • Cinematography • Views: 5954