Hitting Home – Trailer

DDI Productions is very proud to introduce the trailer for the pilot episode of Hitting Home.

 

About the Show:

Hitting Home has been a dream of writer/director Steve Dispensa since he first came up with the concept of a hit man moving back in with his parents back in 2007. The pilot was finally created as an MFA Thesis for The Brooklyn College Department of Television and Radio.

The script for Hitting Home was written between September of 2011 and May of 2012. Additional rewrites were conducted with the assistance of script consultant Tom O’Beirne in July of 2012.

That same month, DDI Productions took to Indiegogo to create a fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $10,000 to fund Hitting Home in just 14 days. Although the final tally on Indiegogo fell slightly short of that goal, additional outside contributions helped to ensure the project was fully funded.

About the Production:

Hitting Home was filmed entirely on the Canon 60D utilizing Magic Lantern firmware upgrades and FLAAT picture styles. The excellent optical quality of the 60D, combined with both Zeiss CP2 Lenses and regular Canon EF lenses helped the production to create a beautiful look on an extremely limited budget. Writer/director Steve Dispensa and producer Rob Burke worked tirelessly to ensure every dollar raised towards the project wound up on the screen.

The show was lit almost entirely using natural light, practical units, and small LED fixtures. Only 2 scenes feature additional lighting from tungsten units.

With a production schedule that featured multiple fight scenes, shootouts, and even a large Afghanistan battlefield set piece, the ability to move quickly was paramount. By utilizing affordable, compact technology such as the Canon 60D, the filmmakers were able to bring Hitting Home in on time and on budget.

Current Status:

Hitting Home is currently entering its final month of post-production. The show will be premiering at the Brooklyn College MFA Showcase on May 24th. The pilot will be released on the internet in early June, and will screen at select festivals during the summer of 2013.

Hitting Home will also be the focus of a series of “making of” tutorials and articles to be presented here on this site. Topics including: writing, casting, directing, lighting, staging, shot design, camera movement, visual effects, prop firearms, and others will be covered.

For information on Hitting Home, please contact Steve(at)DDIProductions.net.

 

Hitting Home

DDI Productions Ltd. is proud to announce that production will be commencing this August on the pilot episode for the television series “Hitting Home”.

“When an elite soldier gets kicked out of the French Foreign Legion, he’ll have no choice but to return to the one place he dreads the most: his parents’ house. In a desperate bid to regain his independence, he begins working as a contract killer to repay his student loans, repair his credit, and attempt to move out.”

Filming will commence in early August in Manhattan and on Long Island. The pilot episode is written and directed by Steve Dispensa. Further information will be released in the coming weeks regarding casting, crew positions, and a kickstarter campaign.

New Show Reel – 2012

The last few years have been absolutely great. I made the leap to shooting on DSLR and it has opened up so many doors. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a whole host of incredibly talented people and put together some great work.

Here is my new reel, featuring projects from the past year and a half, shot entirely on DSLR:

Why I’m not Buying Canon 5D mk III

Last week Canon announced it’s long awaited upgrade to the 5D line of DSLR cameras. Like many, I had been waiting patiently for this camera to arrive. As Canon delayed it’s launched by over a year past their normal release schedule, many hoped that the extra time would be used to massively improve the camera system. Sadly, this has not proved to be the case.

A Little History

For years, I shot video on a variety of cameras. In the fall of 2010, I decided to sell off my Panasonic HVX 200. The camera was growing old, was bulky, and recorded to very expensive P2 media. I looked to the new video-capable DSLR offerings by Canon and Nikon for a replacement.

Although video has always been my forte, I truly honed my visual skills by learning how to take still photos with DSLR cameras. These cameras offered features that no prosumer level video cameras had at the time, allowing for a greater control over my images. In early October of 2010, I made my decision and purchased a Canon 60D.

A Revolutionary Video Tool

The 60D was, and still is, the best investment I have ever made. Not only did it shoot beautiful 1080p video, but also took incredible still images. I soon was able to expand my business to include still image photography for a wide variety of clients. For what was a small entry fee, I was able to begin building up my client base as I continued to purchase gear that would improve my shoots.

 A kit that started with just a Canon 60D, a 18-135 mm kit lens, and a simple tripod and head, now includes many lenses, several lighting kits, jib, dolly, Steadicam, microphones, follow focus, several tripods, full grip kit, shoulder mounts,  monitor, etc. I was able to quickly take on a wide variety of clients, from music videos, to short films, to sports and event photography. The Canon 60D became the center point of a completely reinvigorated business.

The Next Step

As my kit grew, I knew that I would eventually want to purchase a better camera. I longed for the full-frame sensor of the 5D mk II. But as the mk II was due to be replaced in the near future I decided to hold out. There were too many things missing from the current line of video-enabled DSLR cameras. I felt for sure the next generation would address the following gripes:

  • No professional (XLR) audio inputs
  • No way to monitor audio live
  • No on-screen audio level monitoring
  • Rolling shutter issues (not terrible on the 60D but still a concern)
  • Codec with limited (4:0:0) color space
  • No clean output for external recorders/monitors
  • HDMI output is not at full resolution
  • Moiring with certain patterns.

On Deaf Ears

Of these complaints, my three biggest concerns were to see balanced XLR inputs on the next generation of cameras (either built on or threw and expansion grip), to replace the codec with something that was at the very least 4:2:2 color space, and to have a clean signal out for external recording/monitoring . Sadly, Canon has decided to ignore of these major flaws with the release of The 5D mk III.

Utilizing 1/8th inch stereo connection for audio brings a whole host of issues into the fold, including massive problems with signal noise, and is one of the biggest limitations of recording audio with Canon DSLRs.  Dual-system audio is nice on a larger production, but is something that a lone shooter/director/producer should not have to be worrying about.

Even though Canon has made some slight changes to how the codec on the 5D mk III works, the color space of the codec is still 4:0:0, which seriously limits what the camera can be used for. Forget shooting anything on a green screen.

The lack of a professional output in the form of SDI or clean HDMI causes problems not just for external recording, but for monitoring as well. When you have the opportunity to light a room with a large monitor, you want to know that you’re getting accurate color representation on the screen. With the 5D mk III this is not the case.

The truth is, all of the fixes that Canon did decide to implement in the 5D mk III, have all been adressed by Magic Lantern. Most videographers looking to shoot full frame would be better served buying a 5D mk II and utilizing the firmware hacks available.

Looking Towards The Future

For all my complaints about the lack of improvement in the 5D mk III, I am still sticking with Canon (for now). I’m invested in Canon glass, and I am still very happy with my 60D. The recently released C300 is too expensive for what it offers. Canon needs to do better than 1080p at a price point of $16,000. 

The 5D mk III, at an MSRP of $3,500 (body only) is reasonably priced. The problem is that for a shooter like me, I would be willing to pay somewhere in the range of $6000 for a camera that does what I need it to do. But Canon has nothing to fill in the void between its $3,500 5D mk III and $16,000 C300.

At the C300′s price point,  I would rather spent my money on a Red Scarlet-X. The product simply has way more to offer than the C300. 4k resolution, the Mysterium-X sensor (equivalent to Super 35mm film), both EF and PL mounts available, Redcode RAW codec, and all at a similar price point. Say what you want about some of Red’s business issues, but at the end of the day their modular approach to camera design is extremely forward thinking. Although the Scarlet does present some work flow challenges when working with files of this size, if you’re in this price range, you should be up to the challenge.

Right now, I’m going to hold out to see what Canon’s new Cinema EOS DSLR camera has to offer. It is rumored to offer 4K recording. We should know more in a few weeks, as the camera may be unvelied at NAB 2012. But, if it proves to be as underwhelming as the 5D mk III and C300, I will be putting my money on a Red Scarlet-X with EF mount. The success of the EOS Cinema DSLR will also depend on its price point. at $6,000 it might be a viable option. At $10,000, I’d rather hold out for a Red.

Canon has really missed the boat with the 5D mk III. They’re utilizing an obsolete business model to try and hold onto their way of doing things. Camera manufacturers need to be thinking modularly when developing their products, not limiting features so that their product lines don’t step on each other’s toes.

Liz’s Day Video

I created this shortform documentary on Liz’s Day, an annual Breast Cancer Fundraiser held in Floral Park every October, for my MFA program at Brookyln College. It was a great opportunity to capture the wonderful work that Nancy Daly, Ginny Coughlin, and Meg Allen do to make this great day happen.

Just For Fun

I think we definitely take for granted sometimes how easy we have it today compared to a decade ago. The cell phone in my pocket today takes higher resolution video than any camera I had access to ten years ago. Fledgling producers now have more opportunities than ever to capture unique moments, because we always have a suitable camera with us.

Last night at the Mets/Yankees game was such an opportunity. Seated in section 537 at Citifield, I noticed two groups a few rows ahead of me exchanging words all night. This was not a “Mets fans vs. Yankees fans” issue because both groups were mixed with fans from both teams.

After the men in the groups bickered back and forth for a few innings, things exploded at the top of the 7th when the girls got involved. I had my Android phone ready, and captured it all on camera. Check it out:

Although in the context of the family environment that a ballpark should be this event is unfortunate, it also serves to teach a valuable lesson. In the digital age, you should be very careful about your behavior. Because there are guys like me out there with a camera just waiting for something interesting to happen.