It’s still dark out as we pull up to the hospital on a frosty Chicago morning at six. One of the nurses greets us quietly, and we roll our cameras, monitors, lighting, and audio equipment through the bowels of the hospital to the corridor with the operating rooms. In two hours we’ll be filming heart surgery.
We spend the time gowning up and cleaning our gear, chatting with the staff, and going over, for the umpteenth time, where to position ourselves, when to put on our x-ray protection, how often the lights will go off and on during the procedure, how long we’ll be shooting continuously. Once the nurses and techs have prepped the room and the patient, the doctors arrive and things get going quickly and calmly. . . . CONTINUE READING: Shooting Miracles: How to Deal with Medical Locations
The Facebook Page for Roving Camera: Bill Zarchy’s Blog passed 2500 Likes earlier today. It’s been my pleasure to write for you on a crazy array of subjects for more than two-and-a-half years, and I humbly appreciate your support, enthusiasm, and suggestions.
I’ll be publishing two books of my stories this summer and have more surprises in the works, so stay tuned! . . . CONTINUE READING: Roving Camera’s 2500th Facebook Like
I first wrote about the development of LED Fresnel lights two years ago, tracking earlier reactions by the industry to high energy consumption and high heat output: “Greening the Film Business: LED Fresnels.” This year I followed up with some of the same manufacturers.
Fresnel lenses, originally invented for lighthouses, have long been used on movie lights for careful light control and sharp shadows. Their typical concentric ring style enables them to have great diameter without clumsy thickness. . . . CONTINUE READING: NAB Roundup 2013: LED Fresnels, Camera Accessories
Las Vegas is known for its buffets, and the NAB Show at the Vegas Convention Center is a grand smorgasbord of technology. The floor exhibits fill over 800,000 square feet. 92,000 attendees crowd around 1500 exhibitors showing the latest products and services in TV and radio broadcasting, film and video production and postproduction, cloud computing, entertainment technology, file-based workflows, 3D visuals, and pro audio.
NAB is a great place to see the latest digital cinema cameras, lighting, and support equipment. Nearly every major manufacturer has a booth—an odd, generic term for a space that could be ten-by-ten for a small vendor, or a mini-city for Sony or Canon or Panasonic.
NAB can also be a burnout. Because . . . CONTINUE READING: NAB Roundup 2013: Cameras
I came upon these dinosaurs on the Bay Bridge recently.
They seemed to be heading west toward San Francisco, but I really can’t be sure where they were going, or why. They appeared to be driving a chariot and rapidly overtaking the white pickup in front of them. . . . CONTINUE READING: Bay Bridge Dinosaurs
It’s been quite a year for digital cinema cameras. We’ve seen new models of all sizes and form factors, from the hugest to the smallest, from still cameras that take amazing-looking video to video cameras that also shoot high-resolution stills. Here are some of the new and improved cameras of 2012. . . . CONTINUE READING: Camera Gallery 2012
Technology companies around the world spend millions of dollars on marketing media. Many of these projects rely on real people talking about their own experiences—that staple of corporate video, the talking head.
It’s important to keep asking: what are we selling? I sometimes find it difficult to feel an emotional attachment. Enterprise systems integration or managed hybrid cloud-based solutions don’t always tear at the heartstrings.
But I’ve come to realize that health is the most important product of technology, and that patient stories make the most interesting and compelling talking heads—not corporate executives, engineers, or software designers. Here are four memorable patients . . . CONTINUE READING: Health: Our Most Important Product
The professor enters his wood-paneled office to the sound of a harpsichord concerto.
He walks to his desk and opens a strange-looking, hinged device, which bongs like a Macintosh. It’s about the size of a laptop, but it opens like a book, revealing two screens.
“You have three messages,” says a face on the device. “Your graduate team in Guatemala, a second-semester junior, and your mother reminding you about your father’s …”
“… Surprise birthday party tomorrow,” says the professor, cutting off his digital butler with the touch of a finger on the screen. Clearly he’s been reminded before. . . . CONTINUE READING: Apple’s Knowledge Navigator (in 1987) Foreshadowed Our Current Tech Toys
Wearing my writer’s hat, I’ve recently cranked out two articles for The Kenwood Group about some of their projects, published on their Varney’s Place blog.
Into the Storm: Producing a Movie Marathon in the Face of a Hurricane
Imagine planning a live event long in advance, only to have the storm of the century threaten to shut you down.
On a recent project for NVIDIA, Kenwood managed to pull off a production just before Superstorm Sandy hit New York, but completing the project proved difficult in the aftermath.
The plan: producing the Rooftop Films Indie Horror Movie Marathon in Brooklyn, with scary flicks and features on several HD projectors, and a live band playing heavy metal. . . . CONTINUE READING: Writing Projects: Hurricane Sandy / Trip to Taipei
San Francisco rock musician Chuck Prophet has released a new video—Part II of a musical tour of San Francisco, named for his newest album, “Temple Beautiful.”
After recording his last album in Mexico City, says Chuck, “I was looking to make a record closer to home.”
Part I of Chuck’s Temple Beautiful video tour was released in February. In Part II we visit Chuck’s home and studio and many of his old haunts in the Mission and North Beach. . . . CONTINUE READING: Temple Beautiful—Part II of Chuck Prophet’s Musical Tour of San Francisco
Go ahead, buy it.
Add to Cart. Proceed to Checkout. Enter Payment Info. Place Order.
A nice, clean transaction in cyberspace, right? No need to consume fossil fuels driving to an actual store, which in turn must be electrified, heated, and stocked with not-quite-right products and pesky salespeople trying to sell warranties. Besides the costs and byproducts of the delivery process, the online transaction seems pretty innocent, environmentally speaking. Right?
But the data from your purchase, the store’s inventory control, the product shipping, and each confirming email, are all stored somewhere in “the cloud.” Despite the ethereal name, the ever-growing cloud consists of massive numbers of computer servers in tens of thousands of data centers around the country and around the world, all sucking massive amounts of power, absorbing numerous citations for air pollution, and searching for more efficient cooling. . . . CONTINUE READING: The Cloud: Thousands of Overheated, Polluting, Power-Hungry Data Centers
In honor of the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, a few of my shots from the past couple of years at the ballyard. . . . CONTINUE READING: They Might Be Giants: Scenes from the Yard
I’ve got the best view in the house.
I’m poised on a folding chair in a photographer’s dugout just below ground level, at the edge of the diamond at AT&T Park in San Francisco. It’s the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Giants are losing to the San Diego Padres 6-3.
My camera is less than two feet above field level. As I look straight out through protective netting, I am focusing on Giants infielder Joaquin Arias at the plate, no more than 50 feet in front of me. A right-handed batter, Arias faces away from my vantage point on the third-base side of the field, but I can clearly see his body language throughout the at-bat and see his face during his follow-through. . . . CONTINUE READING: Shooting Giants: Photographing Baseball from the Diamond’s Edge
Imagine deciding to write a biography on someone you had met twice, a contemporary who worked in the same industry and lived in the same state, only to learn, several months into your research, that your subject has declined your request for an interview and asked his close associates and family to do the same.
This is the backstory for Steven Spielberg: A Biography by Joseph McBride. Undeterred by Spielberg’s lack of cooperation, McBride soldiered on. No slacker, over the next three years he interviewed 327 other people for this book, including many of Spielberg’s cohorts and relatives.
The result is a marvelous work, an unauthorized biography overflowing with McBride’s voluminous research, crisp critical thinking, and an easy, engaging writing style that refreshes like a clear mountain stream. . . . CONTINUE READING: Studying Spielberg: McBride’s Biography is Memorable … and Unauthorized
Recently I was honored to give a TEDx Talk on creative problem-solving.
Using examples from three different film projects, I talked about thinking on your feet, adapting to change, and improvising solutions—valuable skills in any era, especially our digital age. It’s not just about mastering the gear, I tell my students. It’s about releasing your creativity. The ability to acquire and propagate images with ease doesn’t make you a Spielberg, any more than learning to write turns you into Shakespeare. But creativity, inquisitiveness, and collaboration will never go out of style.
TEDx programs are independently organized TED-like events.
“TED … has become in recent years a showroom for the style of the digital age,” writes Nathan Heller in The . . . CONTINUE READING: My TEDx Talk: Problem-Solving and Adaptation in a Digital World
Today is the first Mother’s Day since my mom passed away in February at age 97-3/4. In her honor, I am publishing this eulogy I delivered at her memorial. Missing her!
I want to tell you a little about our mom, whose life mirrored our nation’s history for the last century.
She was born Jeanette Dorothy Tulman on May 4, 1914. Think about that for a minute. She was born before the start of World War One, when Woodrow Wilson was president, the first of 17 presidents during her lifetime.
Jeanette was born at home at 107 Bristol Street, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, a neighborhood of immigrants. Her family rented, then owned and lived in the three . . . CONTINUE READING: For Mom: We Miss Your Bright Eyes and Sweet Smile
The director introduced me. “This is Bill. He’ll follow you wherever you go.”
The host nodded at me. No rehearsal, no fixed plan, just stay with him, shoot whatever he says, and always try to show where we were. I slung the Sony F900 HD camera onto my shoulder, and we rolled tape.
He stood in a pool of light in front of a black wall, smiled, and spoke to the camera:
“Hi. I’m Steve Jobs, and standing in front of this wood barricade we’ve built in front of our first retail store, that’s gonna open in six days.” . . . CONTINUE READING: Consuming the Apples: Steve Jobs and the Reality Distortion Field
Lots of time in Latin America lately.
In the past two years, I’ve been to Brazil on two work trips, vacationed in Baja, visited my son in Chile, and now I’m in Mexico City for nearly a week, shooting a medical video. Everywhere we’re surrounded by wonderful faces, fascinating street scenes, huge swaths of color, unique art, and both traditional and innovative design. A visual smorgasbord, for sure. Also, amazingly, we have a whole weekend off.
Here’s a sample of the color around us. Photos from Coyoacán and Palenco Districts, Frida Kahlo’s House/Museum, and the Museo de Arte Moderna. . . . CONTINUE READING: The Color of Mexico City
My daddy was the strongest man in the world. My daddy was the smartest man in the world. My daddy could build or fix anything, and he was an expert on everything. That’s how I thought of him when I was growing up, and most of it turned out to be true.
My dad, Harry Zarchy, was a Renaissance man, a teacher in the New York City schools for 36 years, a skilled musician, a hobbyist and craftsman who excelled in fields as diverse as jewelry making, watch repair, clock making, furniture building, ham radio, photography, drawing, and countless others. And he was an author, the creator of over 30 books on crafts and hobbies and the outdoors for kids and teenagers, mostly with his own photographs and drawings. Between 1941 and 1973, in 32 years, he published 36 books. . . . CONTINUE READING: For Pop, A Century Later
October 17, 1989, 5:09 pm
Section 51, Upper Deck
Candlestick Park, San Francisco
“It’s in the drink, man! The Bay Bridge has fallen down!”
Uh oh, it’s going to take a while to get home tonight. The man in front of me with the radio pressed to his ear continues to relay news to the fans around us. We’re here for the third game of the World Series. Five minutes ago, the earth shook, and the crowd cheered. Now we start to realize the magnitude of what’s happened. And where the heck is Darrell? . . . CONTINUE READING: Present at the Re-Creation: The Loma Prieta Earthquake
In my mind, I’m Danny McCoy, deftly easing my washboard abs into my 69 Camaro ragtop, trolling confidently up and down the Strip, the wind ruffling my hair as I head for a liaison with my all-grown-up childhood pal Mary Connell, or a dalliance with Delinda Deline, the boss’s daughter.
In RL (gamer parlance for Real Life), I’m a middle-aged guy with grey hair, a little too full of sushi and sake, ambling and people-watching from Luxor to New York, New York, trying to take a few interesting photos on the Strip before collapsing into bed after a long day walking the floor at NAB.
Obviously I’ve watched too many episodes of “Las Vegas!” Like the Josh Duhamel . . . CONTINUE READING: Lost Wages: Everything Looks Great at NAB
I’m winging to Las Vegas for a couple of days to attend the NAB Show, the annual technical meeting and equipment show of the National Association of Broadcasters. In particular, I’m interested to see the latest digital cinema cameras, some recently released, some newly announced this week. I’m especially intrigued by an excellent summary in nofilmschool.com, which compares the newest digital cameras by resolution and price. And as always, I’ll also be looking at new camera accessories and lighting gear at the show. Watch for more reports coming up soon! . . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2012 Preview
In honor of the A’s and Giants both winning their divisions and making the baseball playoffs:
Here’s my dirty little secret: I am a bicoastal baseball fan. I root for both the Giants and the Athletics, who play on opposite coasts of San Francisco Bay. This duality is heresy for many baseball fans, who call me a “bad fan” and consider sports loyalty an absolute, one-sided affair, even in a two-team market.
But how glorious to have two clubs to follow! When one wallows in mediocrity, the other is often a contender. One of my teams plays at home every day. If the other is on the East Coast, their starting times are staggered, and I can listen to or watch two games a day – an embarrassment of riches, for sure.
. . . CONTINUE READING: Confessions of a Bicoastal Baseball Fan
Rock musician Chuck Prophet has released a new video, Part I of his musical tour of San Francisco.
The video features scenes of Chuck playing cuts from his new Temple Beautiful album and chatting about songs inspired by various iconic settings in the City by the Bay.
“If ever Cain and Abel went into business together, it would probably be something like the O’Farrell Theater,” he says in front of the Mitchell Brothers’ porn paradise (for “The Left Hand and the Right Hand”). Other locations include the Geary Street site of both Jim Jones’ People’s Temple and former Punk club The Temple (“Temple Beautiful”), Harvey Milk Plaza at Castro and Market (“White Night, Big City”), and various downtown corners (“Who Shot John”). . . . CONTINUE READING: New Video from Rocker Chuck Prophet: ‘Temple Beautiful’ Tour of San Francisco
To kick off the new year, I recently came upon this joke I wrote years ago, originally published in Boys’ Life Magazine in 1961. As payment, I received a Boy Scout Handbook, making this my first paid writing gig! It’s obvious to me that I was right to choose film and video as a career (and not joke writing!)