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  • The 5 Stages of Blocking a Scene

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    Blocking a scene NYFA

    By Peter D. Marshall – When a first time Director steps on a set, blocking a scene can be one of the most frustrating and terrifying parts of their job.

    If a director doesn’t understand the concept of blocking and staging, and they also don’t know how to speak the actor’s language, they could end up wasting valuable shooting time.

    Every film shoot is divided into five parts:

    1. Block – determining where the actors will be on the set and the first camera position

    2. Light – time for the DOP to light the set and position the camera for the first shot

    3. Rehearse – camera rehearsal of the first set-up with the actors and crew

    4. Adjustments – making lighting and other adjustments

    5. Shoot – shooting the first scene (then repeat the process)

    Blocking a scene is simply “working out the details of an actor’s moves in relation to the camera.”

    You can also think of blocking as the choreography of a dance or a ballet: all the elements on the set (actors, extras, vehicles, crew, equipment) should move in perfect harmony with each other.

    Here are 5 important blocking tips:

    1. Having a shot list will help you during the blocking process. The shot list is like a map: it gives you a path to your destination but you don’t always have to follow it

    2. Let the actors show you what they want to do first, then, when you make a suggestion, it is based on something you have already seen

    3. Where the camera is placed is determined primarily by what is important in the scene.

    4. Blocking is like a puzzle: directors need to keep working at it until the whole scene works.

    5. In Television and low budget films, speed is essential, story and block some scenes so that your action takes place in one direction (to avoid turning the camera around for reverses.)

    For a more detailed explanation about blocking a scene, check out Filmmaking Article

    Peter D. Marshall has worked in the Film and Television Industry for over 35 years. He also publishes the free monthly filmmaking ezine “The Director’s Chair. You can check out his website at: Action Cut Print and his film directing blog at Film Directing Tips

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    June 18, 2009 • Acting • Views: 153200

  • Director Jonathan Jakubowicz Takes Venezuela By Storm

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    Former New York Film Academy student Jonathan Jakubowicz, has seen a steady stream of success since graduating from our filmmaking workshop in New York City.

    Jakubowicz says, “The workshop I did with you was an open door for a career beginning in filmmaking that couldn’t have been better. I shot a 35MM documentary (Ships of Hope) on the arrival in Venezuela of two ships filled with Jewish refugees just before WWII. The film has been broadcast on HBO for all of Latin America. It has premiered in thirteen countries and received the many awards”.

    Ships of Hope screened at the Director’s Guild of America’s Angelus Awards, and the Havana Film Festival. The documentary went on to win; Best Documentary at the Premios a la Calidad de CENAC (Venezulelan Oscars). Ships of Hope was purchased by HBO OLE and History Channel Latin America, and was in programming rotation for two years. Jakubowicz has a BA in Communications from the Universidad Central de Venezuela.

    In 2002, Jakubowicz treaded sensitive waters gracefully as he broached the subject of September 11 from a very different angle. _Distance (2002/I)_ is a poignant short film about a woman’s mysterious past unfolding during an unexpected trip to Holland in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. _Distance (2002/I)_ screened at the World Film Festival of Montreal, New York Independent Film Festival and Palm Springs Short Film Festival, amongst others.

    In 2005, he wrote and directed Secuestro express; the frightening story of one young couple’s ordeal as they career through the underbelly of Caracas in the hands of three thugs who’ve made them their latest payday. The thriller became Venezuela’s highest-grossing film, eclipsing such movies as “Titanic” and “The Passion of the Christ.”

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    June 8, 2009 • Acting • Views: 4670

  • The 27 Best Websites For Filmmakers

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    There are thousands of websites out there for filmmakers. Some of them are a waste of your time, others offer awesome services and resources.  So we asked our film school students to share with us their favorite filmmaking websites. Here is our list, in no particular order, of “The Best Wesbsites For Filmmakers”.

    AFCI.org – With over 300 Film Commissions on six continents, there’s almost always an AFCI member office nearby to help you navigate local laws, customs and procedures.

    ArtOfTheGuillotine.com – Online film community for film editors. Connect editors and future editors with ideas and techniques that make films great as well as connect them with each other.

    BigStar.TV – The site offers distribution, networking and a monthly short film contest.

    BlssResearch.com – The service provides a variety of pre-packaged reports on popular topics for movie producers, independent filmmakers, corporate financiers, and other entertainment entities.

    Drop.io – Use drop.io to privately share your files and collaborate, thinks screenplays, film productions and animations,  in real time by web, email, phone, mobile, and more.

    DetonationFilms.com – Detonation Films is dedicated to putting the fun back in filmmaking by establishing a new paradigm between digital media and online entertainment. And also by blowing stuff up.

    DVcreators.net – Training and resources for digital video makers.

    DVXuser.com –  An online community for filmmaking.

    EarthProtect.com – With over 2,000 videos online about things you care about. You can

    start a blog, forum or find you favorite non-profit.

    ExploreTalent.com – Auditions and job listing board.

    FilmmakersAlliance.org – Helping independent filmmakers achieve their goals since 1993.

    FilmSchoolExposed.com – Largest list of film schools, awesome filmmaking forum and a massive community of student filmmakers and independent filmmakers around the world.

    FilmSchoolBuzz.com – Stay on top of the latest film and filmmaking news from the worlds top blogs.

    FiveSprockets.com – Develop and produce a variety of media projects with this online production software.

    FreeSound.orgA collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds.

    HollywoodOmniBook.com – From agents to extras to screenplays for sale, the Hollywood OmniBook is your one stop source for connecting with Hollywood.

    IMDb.com – The “Internet Movide Database” says it all.

    IndieProducer.net – A social networking site for Hollywood filmmakers

    InkTip.com – Find good screenplays and professional writers. Access is free to qualified producers, directors, agents, managers, and name actors.

    JohnAugust.com – Useful information about screenwriting.

    Mandy.com – International TV and film production resources.

    MakingOf.com – Natalie Portman intervies industry professionals on filmmaking.

    MovieMaker.com –  The nation’s leading magazine on the art and business of making movies and the world’s most widely read independent movie magazine.

    MovieMarketingMadness – Movie marketing news, reviews and opinion.

    ProductionHub – The Community search site for film, television, video, live event and digital media production.

    StoryLink.com – One of the largest online communities for writers and filmmakers.

    StudentFilmmakers.com – Searchable community of filmmakers – both new-and-emerging and professional – talents in the film and video industries.

    TakeZer0.com – Everything you need to know before take one.

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    June 4, 2009 • Acting • Views: 2133

  • Enrolling in Acting or Film School is as Easy as 1, 2, 3

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    Hello. As an New York Film Academy (NYFA) admissions counselor I speak to people from allover the world, who want to learn about film-making, acting, broadcast journalism, 3D animation and other programs we offer here at NYFA. NYFA is a very unique school and we are especially dedicated to helping our students in ways that many other schools do not.  I typically suggest prospective students take three simple steps when enrolling in our school.

    1) Choose A Program

    The first step to take is to peruse the website and decide which program you are most interested in taking.  Students often have a desire to learn about many different areas, but usually one interest wins out.  For example, if I am talking to a student who wants to be an actor and a filmmaker, they will usually be able to pick one over the other if I ask them directly “which do you really like more: acting or filmmaking?” Ask yourself this question if you are having trouble deciding, and the answer should become clear.

    It is important to read through the program description carefully online.  New York Film Academy has very thorough summaries of our programs on our website, and most of the necessary information can be found here.  The more you know, the better equipped you will be to ask questions from our staff members.

    2) Choose Length of Program & Program Location

    Once you know the program you are interested in, it is important to consider the program length and school location that will work best for you.  You will receive an excellent education in any of our programs; but the longer the course, the more you will learn.  New York Film Academy offers the same high-quality education and in-depth curriculum at all our campuses, so you can choose the geographical location that attracts you the most – New York City, Los Angeles or Abu Dhabi!  Some students crave the hustle-and-bustle of New York City; some students want the sun-and-surf of California; and some students want an opportunity to go abroad to study in United Arab Emirates.

    3) Apply

    When you know which program you want to take, and where you want to take it, I encourage you to apply to the school and begin to make your plans to start off on your path toward your career in the arts.  Luckily, New York Film Academy has a very devoted staff, who are happy to help!  I suggest that after you have considered what path you want to take, you give us a call to discuss your plans with one of our Admissions Counselors.  We are always happy to answer questions and give guidance to our prospective students.

    You can apply online or download and mail in application.

    I think the most important step of all, however, is to come visit our school to speak with our staff in person and develop a rapport with our faculty.  We have a very approachable atmosphere, and really are happy to meet with interested future filmmakers and actors.  We will be happy to take you for a tour and have you meet with our housing, financial aid, or international representatives.  Give me a call at (212) 674-4300  x136 and I will be glad to welcome you to New York Film Academy!

    Your friendly admissions superstar!

    Brian Koplow

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    May 22, 2009 • Acting • Views: 4379

  • Miss Teen USA Stevi Perry Graduates From Acting School

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    Congratulations to one of New York Film Academy’s newest Acting School graduates Stevi Perry! Winner of Miss Teen USA 2008,  Stevi Perry received a two-year scholarship from the New York Film Academy Acting & Film School. Stevi attending our Acting School located in Soho, New York City where she studied Acting for Film.

    Below is a video of Stevi Perry’s first days at the New York Film Academy Acting School.

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    May 11, 2009 • Acting • Views: 4293

  • Film School Advice From Admission Advisor Tami Alexander

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    As an admissions counselor I am most frequently asked, “What program will make me the best filmmaker and get me into the industry as soon as possible.”

    This is a hard question to answer because the film industry is truly based on talent, hard work, who you know and sometimes luck. As a student of the New York Film Academy you will be amongst the largest network of filmmakers and actors in the industry. You will also have intensive hands-on training in all aspects of the film-making process. How you take advantage of these opportunities, will determine your success during the program and your career after graduation.

    Every filmmaker would love to have these opportunities, but unfortunately film school is expensive, time consuming and very demanding. This is why I advise everyone interested in enrolling into our film courses to determine what they want to learn and take from the program. If you know what you want and set goals, you will most likely find it and achieve it at the New York Film Academy as a student.

    Before you enroll in NYFA or any film school, my advice for prospective film students is to decide what exactly it is that you want from your education as a filmmaker. If you do not know, try enrolling in our one or four-week film workshops to get a better understanding of the filmmaking process.

    I am happy to answer any questions about the New York Film Academy Film School, please contact me today at (212) 674-4300.

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    May 8, 2009 • Acting • Views: 4821

  • Best Computer For 3D Animation

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    Another frequently asked question is about the kind of computer that you will need for the animation course here at the New York Film Academy 3D Animation School. As I blogged recently a Mac or PC is fine and it’s really a personal preference which kind you get.

    The 3D animation software we use in our courses (and in much of the industry) is Maya. Maya has been on the Windows operating system for a couple of years longer than Mac, Apple also changed over to OS X recently, so because of Windows longevity and consistency there is a bit more functionality on that platform, though over time I believe that the stability of Unix upon which OS X (Mac) is built will become an advantage, so either platform is going to be fine for your needs.

    3d animation school

    NYFA Instructor Rob Appleton

    To find the hardware that will work best for Maya,  you can visit the Autodesk website, or just Google “maya hardware.” There you can find computers and video cards that have been tested and recommended by Autodesk.

    A thing to keep in mind is that only very few of the computers on the market get tested by Autodesk and almost any computer that is good for games will run Maya just fine. When you study animation here at the Academy you will be provided with an iMac with a dual core 2.66 GHz processor, which will be fine for the work we will be doing in our classes.

    You will need a computer at home in order to complete you homework assignments and projects, either a laptop or desktop will suffice. As far as ram (memory) goes I would get allot. Remember that 32 bit systems can only utilize 4 gigs (Mac) and 3 gigs for PC, so if you buy more you are wasting money. You can utilize far more ram with a 64 bit system but only if the program you are running is also 64 bit software, so a bit of research before getting your next computer will save money, and get you the best product for your needs.

    Robert Appleton, 3D Animation Instructor at the New York Film Academy

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    April 13, 2009 • Acting • Views: 30002

  • The History of 16 MM Film and the Arriflex 16 S Camera

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    The New York Film Academy offers students an excellent opportunity to work with 16mm Film and the Arriflex S & SR 16 mm cameras.  Shooting on film has many inherent advantages, including the organic look, its unparalleled exposure latitude, natural color reproduction, and long term archivability.  Arriflex cameras are among the best in the world, and NYFA gives its students the instruction they need to join the ranks of legendary filmmakers who have made landmark films by looking through the Arri viewfinder!

    The Arri company was founded in Munich in 1917 by August Arnold and Robert Richter, who began their career working as cameramen on over 100 films.  Arri introduced the Arriflex ST in 1952, it was the first professional 16mm movie camera with a reflex viewing system; the camera was a hit, selling over 20,000 units! The Arriflex SR was introduced in 1982 and was the first professional 16 mm camera to feature symmetrical construction and a swing-over viewfinder, enabling incredibly flexible operation.  In 1982, the Arnold and Richter were presented with an Oscar in recognition of their life’s work.

    The silent 16 mm film format was initially aimed at the home filmmaker, but by the 1930s it had begun to be popular for professional use in the educational market. The addition of optical sound tracks and, most notably, Kodachrome in 1935, significantly boosted the 16 mm market. The format was widely used during WW2, and consequently there was a massive increase of 16 mm professional filmmaking in the post-war years. Films for government, business, medical and industrial clients created a large network of 16 mm professional filmmakers and related service industries in the 1950s and 1960s.

    The advent of television also enhanced the use of 16 mm film, initially due to its lower cost and greater portability compared to 35 mm. At first used as a news-gathering format, the 16 mm format was also used to create programming shot outside the confines of the more rigid television production sets.

    Even though Super 16 is used for all kinds of projects, its most common use today is for television productions and independent features. The three most common types of productions are detailed below.

    1. Shoot Super 16, Post Video, Broadcast HD Broadcasters today are demanding content to be delivered in HD, and shooting Super 16 is the best way to create high quality HD programming.

    The production is shot on Super 16 film, and then transferred to standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD) video on a telecine. Modern telecines can extract most of the image information from Super 16 film, and are one reason for the continued popularity of this format. Post production commences on SD or HD equipment in the traditional fashion, as does broadcast on SD or HD. This workflow maintains all the advantages of film and the creative options of film cameras and lenses. Once the program is aired, the film-originated material can be re-transferred to any foreign or future television standard.

    2. Shoot Super 16, Post DI (Data), Theatrical Release The Achilles heel of shooting Super 16 for a theatrical release has always been the optical blow-up required to get from the Super 16 camera negative to a 35 mm release print. This optical blow-up is now being replaced by the Digital Intermediate (DI) process, which is quickly becoming a mainstream production tool.

    The production is shot on Super 16 film, and then scanned on a pin-registered film scanner. Modern film scanners can record all the image information present on Super 16 film. The resulting image data is used for editing, special effects and color correction. Once in the digital realm, there is almost no limit to the image manipulations, effects or looks that can be created. The finished image data is then recorded onto 35 mm film with a modern film recorder to create 35 mm release prints. Since the DI process is completely transparent, there is no image quality loss incurred by going from a Super 16 camera negative to a 35 mm release print.

    3. Shoot Super 16, Post DI (HD Video), Theatrical Release A hybrid option combining the other two workflows is also possible when a theatrical release is required from a Super 16 negative at rock bottom costs. The film is transferred by a telecine to HD video instead of scanned to image data. Post production is done in HD video, and the feature is output to 35 mm film on a film scanner. The result has slightly less image quality than a true data DI post production, but is substantially faster and less expensive.
    Richard Crudo, President of the American Society of Cinematographers, said: “You’re going to see a huge resurgence in 16 as DI becomes more manageable and cheaper. People are going to say, ‘My God, look at the quality you can get out of this.’”

    Studying at New York Film Academy is a great way to gain experience using a wide variety of top-of-the line equipment.  NYFA is proud to be able to offer its students the opportunity to use cutting-edge technology, such as the RED HD camera.  However, learning to master traditional filmmaking tools such as the Arriflex S cameras is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of a NYFA education!

    Written by Brian Koplow, New York Film Academy Student Adviser

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    April 10, 2009 • Acting • Views: 11838

  • Film School Alumni Babar Ahmed Directs Feature Film, Royal Kill

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    The feature film by award-winning director and New York Film Academy alumni, Babar Ahmed, Royal Kill starring Gail Kim, and Academy Award nominees Eric Roberts and Pat Morita will be released at AMC Theatres in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. on April 10, 2009.

    Babar Ahmed’s (Genius) second feature film shows the full potential of a new generation of independent movie makers. Based on historical facts, the story evolves around a high school girl (Lalaine) who is facing a fierce assassin (Gail Kim) from a kingdom in the Far East. Twists and turns lead the audience to test the boundaries between good and evil. Supported by Eric Roberts (The Dark Night) and the late Pat Morita in his last movie appearance (Karate Kid), a breathtaking battle unfolds.

    The outstanding cast of this action-thriller is made to electrify the audience. With Gail Kim, a WWE champion in her first feature, and Oscar-nominated actors Eric Roberts and Pat Morita, Royal Kill will bring fans of all ages into the theater seats. Lalaine, the star of Disney’s TV show “Lizzy McGuire,” shows her tremendous breakthrough potential.

    Screenings

    Los Angeles, California Area
    AMC Ontario, 4549 Mills Circle, Ontario, CA 91764
    AMC Covina, 1414 N Azusa Ave, Covina, CA91722

    Chicago Area
    AMC Cantera , 28250 Diehl Rd, Warrenville, IL60555
    AMC South Barrington, 175 Studio Drive, South Barrington, IL 60010

    Washington D.C. Area
    AMC Hoffman, 206 Swamp Fox Rd, Alexandria, VA22314

    Note: His last movie Genius has received 3 international awards.

    Interview with Babar Ahmed at the DC Independent Film Festival.

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    April 9, 2009 • Acting • Views: 3595

  • Are Drawing Skills Needed For 3D Animation Program?

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    Another often asked question regarding coming to the NYFA animation program is “Do I need drawing and artistic abilities and skills in order to attend your school?”.

    If you have art school and or drawing experience that is a definite plus as it indicates that you have above average ability to visualize your characters and scenes. We do have a life drawing class during our first semester as it’s very important to have a grasp of the human anatomy for modeling and animation.

    For modelers drawing skills are a definite plus and if you can design a character and draw a decent turnaround, then draw him/her in an action pose and model the character accurately with correct topology then that’s a really nice thing to put on your reel. You may for instance see a job advertisement for a modeler with this addition: “Traditional art skills and ability to do draft occasional concept drawings/paintings would be a major plus”.

    However I know some good modelers who are not such great draftsmen, and in allot of companies artists specialize and so one person does the drawings and another does the models.

    As I said in a recent blog, artistic skills are not essential. Technical abilities are highly valued in the animation industry so you can be lacking artistically and still do well in such ares as shading and lighting, rigging, rendering and particle systems. These areas require good skills in scripting languages such as Python, Maxscript and MEL, and programing languages such as C++.

    Robert Appleton, New York Film Academy 3D Animation School Instructor

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    April 7, 2009 • Acting • Views: 889