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Documentary, new media, video arts...

Last Build Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2018 17:47:05 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2007 by David Tames, released under a creative commons license, some rights reserved.

Notes on smartphone documentary moviemaking

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 14:52:18 +0000

This post is provided as a follow-up to the “Video Clinic” session on February 8, 2018 in support of Bobette’s Buster’s “8 Minutes and Under” workshop at Northeastern University, Spring 2018. Let me know if you have any comments or questions via the comments or email me directly if you are a student in the workshop.  — […]

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At Home with Monsters

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 14:05:50 +0000

When I was in Toronto last weekend I went to Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and saw “At Home with Monsters⁠,” an exhibition presenting Guillermo del Toro’s “cabinet of curiosities.” The scale of the exhibition is impressive and feels like a walking tour through a labyrinth of rooms organized thematically, richly appointed with chiaroscuro lighting, providing glimpses […]

Notes on the 2017 Sheffield Doc/Fest Alternative Realities Exhibition

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 15:28:02 +0000

A growing number of non-fiction works are being produced at the intersection of documentary storytelling and journalism and Sheffield Doc/Fest has become one of the best events to experience these new works. The festival was founded in 1994 and takes place in June each year in Sheffield, England, a vibrant city with steel industry roots two hours from London by train. […]

The Trouble with Reality

Sun, 21 May 2017 15:04:11 +0000

Journalist Brooke Gladstone’s new book, The Trouble with Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in Our Time, is a little gem of a book offering an examination of our notion of reality. She wrote the book in response to the ongoing assault of so-called fake news, alternative facts, and blatant lies disguised as truths that […]

Some notes on binaural recordings

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:41:06 +0000

What is binaural recording? What we hear is determined by the way that sound is transmitted around the head, the position of the ears, the shape of the ears, and the shape of our ear canals. Binaural recordings achieve realistic three-dimensional audio by using microphones in a configuration that approximates the characteristics of the human […]

The Pearl Button

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 20:04:45 +0000

Chile's long coastline, the largest archipelago in the world, provides the setting for The Pearl Button (2015), Patricio Guzmán poetic visual essay that brings together the voices of the indigenous pre-Columbian Patagonian people and the water, glaciers, and mountains of their land.

Steadicam Volt: An intriguing smartphone stabilizer

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 14:18:15 +0000

I’ve been investigating 3-axis gimbal stabilizers for smartphones and have held off purchasing one because I just don’t like how sloppy they feel, there’s a lot of lag in the motion, you pan, and then it catches up with you on its own terms. But now Tiffen, and drone-maker Yuneec have teamed up to design […]

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is a worthy successor to the GH4

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 03:41:41 +0000

Panasonic recently announced the Lumix GH5 Micro-Four-Thirds camera which I look forward to taking out for a spin. I’ve been shooting with its predecessor, the GH4, over the past year, and I really like the camera. The GH4 has made its mark as a popular camera among independent and documentary filmmakers. I like the fact […]

Sophia Al-Maria: Black Friday

Sat, 05 Nov 2016 16:54:12 +0000

Black Friday (Sophia Al-Maria, 2016) is one of the most intriguing and insightful digital media installations I’ve seen in a while, I saw it at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York last month, and I keep coming back to it in my thoughts. As an artist, Al-Maria has placed 21st century life […]

My Sling Bag Video Production Kit

Sun, 09 Oct 2016 05:19:43 +0000

In January I purchased a Panasonic GH4 as my primary camera for shooting both stills and video after doing my research and shooting with a variety of full-frame, APS-C, and MFT (Micro Four Thirds) cameras. I decided that the full-frame lenses and cameras are simply too heavy for a lightweight kit. The Sony Alpha series […]

Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016: SEED: The Untold Story

Sat, 11 Jun 2016 03:55:21 +0000

SEED: The Untold Story examines the disappearance of seed varieties, a crucial environmental and food security issue, focused around the work of several passionate seed collectors including Dr. Vandana Shiva in India who says “…as the corporate greed creates the seed famine, more people realize that they need to have their own seed … I […]

Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016: Arrival in Sheffield

Thu, 09 Jun 2016 10:56:52 +0000

I just arrived in Sheffield to attend Sheffield Doc/Fest. There are a lot of amazing documentary film and VR projects showing at this years festival, I look forward to going over the catalog over dinner tonight, it’s amazing how VR has captured the interest of the documentary community, Sheffield changed the name of their new […]

Dangerous Documentaries: Reducing Risk when Telling Truth to Power

Tue, 17 Nov 2015 13:18:01 +0000

Many of the most important issues facing our society are also those that powerful people or institutions don’t want made public. Documentary filmmakers who tell truth to power often face aggressive attacks from powerful individuals, organizations, businesses, governmental agencies, and industry associations. A new report by the Center for Media & Social Impact, School of Communication, American University […]

Two entry-level, versatile, compact, sound recording kits for your consideration

Mon, 12 Oct 2015 22:11:36 +0000

I’m often asked by my students what’s a good sound recording starter kit that provides the most bang for the buck on a tight budget. In response to this question, I’ve assembled the following kits based on gear I’ve purchased and used myself. While I often prefer to use bulkier, higher-performance professional sound gear in my […]

Release forms for documentary productions

Thu, 17 Sep 2015 10:31:49 +0000

On a professional documentary production, obtaining proper written permissions is the responsibility of the producer and can prevent complicated problems down the line in the event the project is licensed for broadcast or distribution. The four most common release forms used in documentary productions are: Appearance Release, for non-actors Minor Appearance Release, for children, it must […]

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The seven presentation design habits of great presenters

Thu, 28 May 2015 15:59:46 +0000

After years of sitting through way too many banal, sleep inducing PowerPoint presentations, I finally could not take it any more and dashed off this missive which I originally wrote for my students. I believe there are seven crucial presentation design habits that will help you develop more engaging and memorable presentations. These habits are […]

A conversation with Elaine McMillion Sheldon about Hollow

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 01:54:35 +0000

Hollow (requires Google Chrome) is an interactive documentary and community participatory project that examines the future of rural America through stories of over 30 residents of McDowell County, West Virginia, an area that is representative of many regional boom-and-bust economies across the country. The project is also available in a DVD edition for classroom use along with a study […]

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Is Final Cut Pro X finally ready to be viable replacement for Final Cut Pro Classic?

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:55:54 +0000

This post is a follow-up to the “Final Cut Pro X for Final Cut Pro 7 Editors” workshop I did at Boston Neighborhood Network on Saturday, December 13, 2014. If you’re still editing with Final Cut Pro Classic (my way of referring to Final Cut Pro 7.x or earlier) and sitting things out, you will […]

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Is the Audio-Technica BP4029 the perfect cinéma-vérité microphone?

Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:07:15 +0000

In an ideal world I’d have a ninja-class boom operator with me on all of my documentary shoots, but short of that I usually place a wireless lavaliere on my subjects in order to capture the best dialogue possible while providing then with mobility along with the intimacy of a small crew. However, on some shoots, […]

Four approaches to structuring micro-documentaries

Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:08:41 +0000

A micro-documentary differs from a long-form documentary in terms of length, structure, and quite often, purpose. While most long-form documentaries tell a story with a classic three act narrative structure, shorter documentaries require different  strategies for structuring the viewer’s experience. Most often a micro-documentary will be 2 to 3 minutes in length, though some can […]

Some quotes on documentary, cinema, and art that don’t fit in a tweet

Mon, 10 Nov 2014 16:06:17 +0000

Several years ago when I was working on my MFA at MassArt I began collecting quotes related to my thesis work, and here are some of my favorites, in no particular order. Do you have any favorite quotes on documentary, cinema, or art that do not fit in a tweet? Please share them with me via comments […]

Twelve essential documentary shooting guidelines

Mon, 10 Nov 2014 01:39:46 +0000

Good video is not the result of having the latest camera, support gizmo, etc. Ultimately conceptualization, good composition, smooth movement, and clean sound are the most important components of the shooting process. Here are twelve guidelines to assist your production practice and in your reflection on your results: 1. Do not keep your distance and […]

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Smartphone Movie-Making Workshop Follow-up

Sat, 08 Nov 2014 17:14:40 +0000

On Saturday, November 8, 2014 I conducted a workshop at the Boston International Kids Film Festival at Tufts University, this is the follow-up I promised to post immediately after the workshop. I put together a handout (PDF) for participants with a listing of software, gear, and resources for further study. Here are some notes from the […]

10 reasons why making documentaries is better than making fiction films

Tue, 10 Jun 2014 17:18:02 +0000

Peter Broderick, who helps filmmakers “explore uncharted frontiers and avoid dangerous pitfalls and predators,” gave a wonderful talk this morning at Sheffield Doc/Fest, one of the many gems in his presentation was his list of ten reasons why making documentaries is better than making fiction films: 10. Grants and Donors 9. Partnerships with non-profits and […]

New Forms / New Opportunities Panel (Sarah Wolozin & Natasha Giraudie)

Sun, 02 Mar 2014 22:20:38 +0000

”Open Plenary: New Forms New Opportunities,“ with panelists Sarah Wolozin (Director, Open Documentary Lab at MIT) and Natasha Deganello Giraudie (CEO, Micro-Documentaries in San Francisco), and David Tames (organizer and moderator), part of the Making Media Now 2013 conference on May 3, 2013 at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, presented by Filmmakers Collaborative.