Caution!: A zombie classic

Screen capture from Caution: A zombie classic.

Welcome to my work from freshman year also known as Spring 2011 Cinema Production 1 taught by Joshua Bonnetta.

This semester was filled with exciting times of film just two years ago as this was shot on 16mm and my photo project that semester was shot on 4×5. So, as I prepare to release snippets of my Thesis Cinema Production I felt it would be a good idea to throw up my original project. One of many ambitions that unfortunately fell a bit short. But, it still didn’t turn out too terribly. Hope you enjoy it as it is still entertaining. Thanks

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/65601002″>Caution</a&gt; from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/shawncsteiner”>Shawn Steiner</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Professors share narratives of lifelong activism

Fred Wilcox shares his activism stories.
Shawn Steiner/The Ithacan

Here at Ithaca College there is a large group of professors who stand by their beliefs and ideals. These professors are activists and constantly go out and protest and do work in order to make these ideas known and to fight injustice. As a part of a collegiate institution they share their beliefs with their students and try to be the inspiration for them to get out and fight for what they belief in.

This project was made in collaboration with Kelsey O’Connor, editor in chief of The Ithacan.

In addition, here is the original article written by Kristen Mansfield.

Fred Wilcox shares his activism stories. Shawn Steiner/The Ithacan
Fred Wilcox shares his activism stories. Click here to view the interactive piece.
Shawn Steiner/The Ithacan

Did the “one hour photo” speed the death of film?

One Hour Photo
One Hour Photo
The film and prints received from the local shop that still is able to send out film.
Shawn Steiner/In Focus

Recently, I had a roll of 35mm Kodak Ektar 100 processed at a local drug store. I was satisfied. There were 38 developed images (yes, it was a 36 exposure roll, I’m that good) and a set of prints along with a CD. The darkroom chromogenic prints, while appreciated, are atrocious. The scans were better, but still not good enough for my applications. Now, this was expected for my project.

My workflow was always planned to involve taking the negatives and producing my own scans and inkjet prints. The everyday person, however, may have a different reaction. I would image tit to be along the lines of, “This looks terrible!” or “My friend’s new point and shoot looks amazing compared to this!” Basically the person will come to the conclusion that it is time to move to digital.

Amelia Marino
My friend Amelia posing for a shot with some Kodak Ektar 100 35mm film.
Shawn Steiner/In Focus

The prevalence of these one hour photo shops proliferated a change in a desire for quality for the necessity of speed. Digital allows for the best mixture of each for the average consumer. They don’t have access to personal darkrooms to process their film in a timely manner, and they most likely don’t realize the capabilities of their film negatives.

So did these workflows lead to an increasing disappointment with the quality of film?

If I were to imagine being a normal consumer I feel like I would make the change to digital much faster if I thought that the cost of processing film was no longer worth it.

These prints are good enough for being a quick reference, but otherwise I can see this as part of why consumers moved so quickly into the digital realm.

The fear of digital noise

Ithaca College senior Erik Caron, center, belts out “Devil’s Coming” and plays guitar for the Erik Caron Connection alongside bassist sophomore Gabe Lefferts, left, and drummer Alex Cano ’12, right.
This photograph was taken at ISO 25600, f/2.8 and 1/125 second at 20mm.
Ithaca College senior Erik Caron, center, belts out “Devil’s Coming” and plays guitar for the Erik Caron Connection alongside bassist sophomore Gabe Lefferts, left, and drummer Alex Cano ’12, right.
This photograph was taken at ISO 25600, f/2.8 and 1/125 second at 20mm.

Noise was never a good thing. But, everyone still seems to want to emulate the grain of film.

Pushing film two stops so that you can get a usable image was more important than the amount of grain that you may see. It was the norm to have to deal with grain. Now that we have moved to digital sensors it seems that we are afraid to see anything besides a perfectly clean image on the camera’s LCD screen. The immediacy of digital has let us know how we can change things to “fix” the image in camera, and see when we take unusable photos.

Why should we be afraid to push the boundaries of our cameras technology?

I support the ability of modern day cameras to reach these absurd ISOs. Years ago I never would have imagined being able to shoot outside at night and have a perfectly exposed image. Independent filmmaking would also still require a lot of startup money. Now, we can shoot for bare minimum and produce something of quality.

In the realm of photojournalism it means we can go new places with less equipment and get the shots we need. The other day I was shooting at ISO 25600 in a pub late at night. I took photos. That is awesome. No flash, no unnecessary lights, just capturing the mood as it was set up for the show.

At first glance I have heard shock at the ISO speeds I was shooting at. But then when I have shot video on the same SLR I have heard that it is too clean and sharp. Where are we going to finally accept the world of digital and accept it on its own, without thinking about it in the context of celluloid.

Many companies are even trying to produce the ability to add grain to digital footage.As much as I appreciate the nostalgia for film, I respect the advancement is technology that allows our industry to advance to incredible heights. Accept the look of noise and forget the look of grain. It is a part of the digital image making process and we should see it as such.

Moving back to black and white

Junior Jeff Chilton plays trombone with Samuel B. Lupowitz and The Ego Band during their record release show Saturday at The Nines.
Junior Jeff Chilton plays trombone with Samuel B. Lupowitz and The Ego Band during their record release show Saturday at The Nines.

RED Digital Cinema recently announced a monochrome version of their EPIC camera. Surprised?

Monochrome cameras seem to be a new trend with high-end camera manufacturers. Leica released their own M Monochrom weeks ago and while not much has really been heard about these cameras they seem to be doing well. A huge part is the price tag of these cameras. Still out of reach for most consumers.

What is their purpose?

Technically, these cameras offer significantly improved performance in areas like resolution, dynamic range and sensitivity. The removal of the debayering process found with color digital imaging means that every pixel of the sensor records raw luminance data. This means that it is a true image without processing and manipulation by the sensor to create a color image.

If you look at my sample image above it shows how simply converting an image at a high ISO can seemingly improve the look of a previously unusable image. And it shows just how far imaging technology has come.

It will be interesting to see how these cameras begin to take off. RED is boasting that David Fincher’s new film is being shot entirely on their new monochrome camera. So hopefully we will see some clips soon.

On a different level, this is the more obvious side to the current trend in digital camera development to create better images as opposed to simply add more resolution (although I’m sure RED would say that they can do both). It shows that companies are no longer just bumping the resolution.

For example, the recently released Canon 5D MKIII features an increase of only one megapixel. However, it features significantly better low-light abilities along with more dynamic range than previous iterations.

I’m glad to see this shift from a numbers game to a question of quality. I think that 20 megapixels is plenty, if we really want to replace film we need more than simply super large image files.

A journalist’s code of ethics

A journalists code

A Journalist’s Code of Ethics

-To hold my work to the highest standards.
-To not do anything against my own beliefs, values and virtues.
-And to do no harm.
-I must keep myself free to pursue my own goals while at the same time making sure that my work can benefit others when possible.
-To never be held to any single belief or idea. Never allowing my thoughts to stop evolving.
-Finally, to always allow for change.

Shawn Steiner

 

‘Press Play': my recent fiction

Press Play_2

This would be my latest short, made for Ithaca College’s Advanced Cinema Production: Fiction class under the eye of Professor Cathy Crane.

Press Play
A film by Shawn Steiner

Music helps, but it doesn’t work forever.

Director, Writer, Producer – Shawn Steiner

Cast
Will………Will Gelder
Tess………..Kelin Daugherty
Jack……..Jack Simons

Editor – Scott Owsley
Audio – Jack Simons
Production Assistant – Lexi Bonin
Production Assistant – Sam Reed

Original Music by Will Gelder

‘Hell and Back Again’: Stirring portrait captures PTSD

#2 - Marines_HELL AND BACK AGAIN_Courtesy of Danfung Dennis

Stunning visuals and powerful storytelling draw the viewer into the life of Marine Sgt. Nathan Harris, a man who is forever changed — both physically and emotionally — by war in “Hell and Back Again.” Director Danfung Dennis is able to capture Harris’ mentality in this moving documentary.

Marine Sgt. Nathan Harris sits and thinks during his time in Iraq.
Photo courtesy of Danfung Dennis

The film portrays Harris’ life  in a delicate manner, resulting in an extremely observational and poetic documentary. Dennis presents a man who believes in his mission, a soldier completely drawn by a sense of purpose and honor. His bravery allows him to lead his men through battle — and then back home.

But while the soldiers leave the atrocities of war, viewers find out that the painful memories never completely leave them. Dennis skillfully weaves scenes of war in with Harris’ time at home. However, even while at home, his desire to fight is apparent in his words and actions.

Sound plays a crucial role throughout the film, leading viewers through war scenes and then back into Harris’ reflection at home. Overlapping transitional audio allows the viewer to feel how the war always follows veterans home.

Dennis creates a sentimental portrait of Harris both before and after the war. Harris is portrayed as brave and composed, able to command troops with ease and gather information with expertise. It is an enjoyable experience to watch him in action, but quickly becomes upsetting. The construction of the film is carefully planned so that the viewer has a better understanding of Harris’ emotions.

Dennis’ experience as a photojournalist comes through in the film’s cinematography. Using a camera with a small form factor allowed Dennis to get close to the action. During the war scenes, he is on the ground with the troops, crawling in the ditches as guns fire around him. This perspective allows for the cinematic look and shallow depth of field — a common feature of fiction films.

At the end of the film, the viewer can see the argument the documentary presents: war is something that will always be with those who experience it. The final scene of the film has Harris speaking about the realization that he is finished and that his mind will always have to deal with the haunting memories of war.

“Hell and Back Again” was written and directed by Danfung Dennis.

FLEFF celebrates 15 years

From left, sophomore Gautam Singhani, an intern for the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, stands with multimedia artist Art Jones in the Handwerker Gallery on Monday night.
Shawn Steiner/The Ithacan

Organizers of the 2012 Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival are celebrating the event’s 15th year in Ithaca in a big way — with a focus on small utopias.

Each year FLEFF planners choose a new theme to unite all the films and incite discussion and discourse about a specific topic, which is one of the goals of the festival. This year an art installation made entirely of recyclable and sustainable materials that was created by interns represents the theme of the festival. This theme, microtopias — which means small utopias — is used to explore environmental issues without constraints or limitations.

From left, sophomore Gautam Singhani, an intern for the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, stands with multimedia artist Art Jones in the Handwerker Gallery on Monday night.
Shawn Steiner/The Ithacan

Sophomore Gautam Singhani, an intern for FLEFF, likes the idea because he links the theme to the festival itself.

“FLEFF is like a microtopia within a microtopia,” he said. “Both the festival and the college are microtopias that I feel are a great example of our current theme.”
Singhani is one of about 30 students currently interning for the festival. This is one of the ways that FLEFF organizers try to garner student participation.

“I love meeting all the new media artists and other guests,” he said. Art Jones, a multimedia artist, spoke during a master class Monday afternoon in the Park Auditorium about the state of the media industry.

Jones also led a multimedia performance Tuesday night in Hockett Hall that involved putting together approximately 70 minutes of footage the night before.

Jones also attended the opening event of the installation art Monday in the Handwerker Gallery. He said he enjoyed talking to students and being able to open a discussion about the breaking down of barriers between high culture and low culture, along with sharing his experiences with students.

Ann Michel, the president of Insights International, a business research and analytics company, is one of the coordinators of the internship program. She said this has been a successful year because of the returning team leaders and the signature live music events.

“These events stand out because of the live performance,” she said. “It makes it more theatrical. It makes it more special.”

Tanya Saunders, an executive producer of FLEFF and assistant provost for international studies and special projects, said part of the festival’s continued success is that students, faculty members and staff can get involved easily.
The festival has consistently become larger every year, attracting more and more guests. This year, more than 50 artists and filmmakers are in attendance.

The festival features events including new media performances with singers, films and artists, and the classic theater film. But, Patricia Zimmermann, professor in the Department of Cinema, Photography and Media Arts and co-director of FLEFF, said people should explore their own interests.

“Everyone needs to find their own path,” she said. “FLEFF asks nothing of people, except to ask questions.”