Non-profit promo

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Non-profit promo

This is a nice promo video for a non-profit. It brings clarity to its message through simplification. I found it refreshing and even inspiring.


Backing Up Your Files

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I have a hard drive going bad. Thankfully, a wonderful IT friend let me create a back up of my hard drive, so I can send it in to Seagate to be replaced without losing any files. I remember now why Seagate hard drives are so great…because they have a 3 year warranty!!! It’s only a year old, so it’s still covered. Unfortunately, I know why it went bad so quickly.

The unit is pretty top heavy, Seagate GoFlex
and I stupidly put it on some rickety tables, so it ended up falling a lot. Lesson learned. Anyways, I’m looking into using Carbonite now to back up all my files. It’s an expense, but for $99 a year (for computer plus external drive) it would give me a lot of peace of mind, that just isn’t available even with expensive RAID set ups.

Either way, I need the computer back to edit my first monthly YouTube short. We shot it a week and a half ago, so I need to get editing done in time to still fix audio, have my composer (my brother Ben Simpson) write the music, color correct, and add titles (probably in After Effects) before the month’s out. Plus, I need a great title! I don’t know why titles are so difficult.

I’ll try to post a short blog soon about the shoot.

(no I’m not British, it’s just fun! wot wot!)

Boiling Water

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Boiling water is very basic. Take a pot, put some water in, give it some heat and wait. Pretty simple stuff.

Why am I talking about boiling water and basic things?

Because many times, I shoot myself in the foot (and I imagine others do to) by trying to do something amazing without getting my foundations in place. Persistent focus on progressive steps accomplishes more. Start with the basics and then the hard stuff.

Pistol Pete was renowned as a basketball player. Why? It wasn’t because he could shoot buzzer half court shots, although he probably did, but because he had the basic, fundamentals of the game down better than any other player at the time. He focused on fundamental ball drills until they were automatic. This produced a wonderful player who had complete control over the ball and thus the game.

Now boiling water is similar in that it is the foundation of cooking many dishes. For instance, without boiling water, you don’t have pasta. Imagine boiling water as the first step in the right direction. So if you have a desire to do something great, advance in your work, improve your marriage, lose weight or take control of your finances, you must start with the baby step – start by boiling water.

And be proud of the baby step!!! Remember boiling water is just the first step. There will be others, but only after you are confident with the basic fundamentals.

So what are you boiling?

Panasonic GH2 and Format Sizes

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The current video camera market can be quite overwhelming, so I wanted to demystify one of the most interesting parts of selecting a camera.

Sensor Size

Sensor size is how large the digital sensor that creates an image from light is inside your camera.

There are two primary types of sensors CCD & CMOS

I’ll summarize by saying that CMOS are becoming widely prevalent due to the ability to make large sensor chips that achieve a shallow depth of field (how much of an image is in focus versus out of focus) at an inexpensive price. However, they have some serious issues, primarily rolling shutter, moire, and aliasing.

Rolling Shutter: the sensor is exposed from the top down, so fast moving objects or camera movements result in objects being skewed

Moire: the rolling shutter has issues resolving fine patterns and can result in a “rainbow” effect onscreen

Aliasing: Fine horizontal lines are slightly mismatched resulting in banding.

(for more detail:

Now with that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let’s discuss sensor size.

The larger the sensor size, the more light hits the sensor and thus only a smaller portion of the lens will be in focus creating more control over what part of the image is in focus versus in focus.

You can google videos of shallow depth of field and see a slew of shots where the focus is so tack sharp a person’s eyes are in focus and their nose is out. It’s a fun effect, but I personally enjoy more reserved versions of shallow depth of field.

Now this brings me to the Panasonic GH2. It has a micro 4/3rds size sensor. Here is a chart to show you comparatively.

To put this in perspective, the Micro 4/3rds format is larger than Super 16mm but smaller than APS-C (the latter is the format for most Canon mid-grade cameras e.g. 7d, 60d, Rebel t2i). Compared to my Canon XH-A1s with three 1/3 inch ccd chips, the 16 megapixel sensor in my GH2 gets a much shallower depth of field.

The kingpin of shallow depth of field is full frame, which is actually quite larger than 35mm film (4x I think). Currently the Canon 5d Mark II is the only full frame camera under $8,000. Here is a shot from my upcoming short film “Fulcrum,” which used the 5d.

Fulcrum Screengrab

This image is gorgeous!!! And is one of my favorites in the film. However, from the couple dozen of takes, only two had an acceptable focus pull. This is a reality of such a large sensor, it is very difficult to pull focus. Ideally, one person should operate the camera and one pull focus, but in reality, this requires extra equipment and people most of us do not have.

So in the end, sensor size is only one dimension of selecting a camera. I chose the GH2 for many reasons, but one is that the while the sensor allows for selective depth of field, it is much easier to control as a one man band. Also, to me it more closely replicates a cinematic look. Most movies have few shots that feature extreme depth of field, such as the 5d mark ii is routinely used to achieve.

And if I care to, I can always grab a fast lens and shoot some gorgeous bokeh myself…

Pinsharp Panasonic GH2 DOF
50mm at F2 ()

Where Are You Supposed to Be?

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Stay where you are called.

There I said it. Now let me clarify. Sometimes I hear people around me discussing how they cannot wait to move from their current location. They love the vibe, the culture, the jobs, or the weather somewhere else.
Now, many times there is a deep yearning to go somewhere because God is calling us out. He is planting us in a new place, which is terrific! However, I think sometimes we miss Gods timing because we lose perspective on what he is doing with us where we are. Timing is vey important in life. Good things are sometimes only good when used in proper timing.
Now the big reason I feel people move is because they feel they cannot achieve their dreams where they currently reside. Many want to move to L.A. or New York to achieve their goals. Is this wrong? Not in of itself, but I do see a movement of God bringing and connecting people in smaller, out of the way places.
For example, I feel called to this area (Amarillo/Dumas) for the forseeable future. I want to make feature length films that compete on an international level. How is this possible you may ask. I believe there are two reasons this can happen.
God in His perfect timing has created me to live in the first period of humanity where filmmaking for the entire world as an independent studio can impact the world.
The second reason is that God has brought many other people into my life who share a common vision – to make God honoring film and use it as a platform to shape culture.
You may be a filmmaker, you may be a college student, but wherever you are, see what is going on around you. Consider that God may be keeping you where you are because He is bringing all the pieces, including you, together in an out of the way little place.
It’s just something I’ve noticed. God can do anything wherever He pleases. So follow where He goes and see if that means to stay when you would rather leave, or go when you would rather stay.

Reel Memories Virtual Tour

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Here is a VIRTUAL TOUR I made for Cheryl Clark a month or two back. Sorry that the quality is poor; I compressed it before I put it on youtube. On a side note, I will hopefully have “Learning to Breathe” online soon.

Greetings and Salutations

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I want to start this blog with God, because without Him this is nothing. I love Him and am ALWAYS devoted to Him.

So I have resisted creating a blog for two reasons

1) I hate that blogs lend themselves to focus on oneself.

2) I heartily dislike doing anything unimportant.

So in leau of this, I will try and limit the use of “I” to it’s proper place, which is 2nd or 3rd….actually it should probably be much later. Also, I will try and share only what is noble, wholesome, and worth reading.