Tasmanian ACS E-News, JULY 2013

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From the Tasmanian President, Peter Curtis ACS

Welcome to another edition of Clips. We are half way through another busy year, so I thought it was time we shared in some of the activities our members have been up to. Thanks to those who’ve made a contribution and a special thanks to Karen Di Benedetto for pulling it into shape for publication.

In recent months, I have had the great pleasure of witnessing several Tasmanian ACS members receive well earned recognition for their outstanding cinematography and contributions to our industry.

First up was Trent Butler as he received ACS accreditation at the Vic/Tas ACS Awards. Trent is the fifth Tasmanian ACS member to be accredited and able to use the ACS initials after his name. He’s yet another local cameraman excelling in his craft while working overseas in some pretty tough and confronting locations. Trent, and a crop other Tasmanian cameramen working around the planet, help to maintain a great tradition, which goes right back to Neil Davis. Please note, the accreditation committee meet annually in September, so if you are considering applying, now is the time to let me know and start to get your show reel together.

At the National ACS awards held last month in Canberra, Tasmanian cinematographers again shone. Mark Dobbin won a prestigious Golden Tripod Award in the Current Affairs category. Yakuza was a story Mark shot for Al Jazeera’s 101 East program which dealt with the crackdown on Japans criminal underworld. At the time of the awards, Mark was in the middle of a shoot in Burma and East Timor, so his Dad, Watson, flew up to Canberra and was at the ceremony in Old Parliament House. He accepted the award and said a few words on Mark’s behalf. It was fitting, indeed, that this award was presented to Watson by David Brill, who was clearly thrilled to hand a Golden Tripod to a fellow Tasmanian.

David Brill presents Mark Dobbins father, Watson with Marks Golden Tripod.

Also at the National Awards, Peter Donnelly ACS was inducted into the ‘ACS Hall of Fame’. His son, Charles, daughter, Anna and son-in-law Adrian, joined Peter at the ceremony. It was a great moment and Peter was clearly moved by this prestigious and worthy recognition of a lifetime’s achievement in cinematography. Peter joins fellow Tasmanian cameramen Neil Davis and David Brill in this elite group of Australian Cinematographers.

I, too, had a moment in the limelight as I received Life Membership. Of course I consider myself way too young for such things, but was very honored regardless. Thank you to the member who anonymously nominated me. I can assure you I won’t be resting on my laurels. I have been actively involved with the ACS in Tas for the last 25 years but there is still a lot to do in the years ahead!

Peter Donnelly ACS is inducted into the Hall of Fame while Peter Curtis ACS receives Life Membership.

In other news from the AGM in Canberra, it seems likely that in the near future it will be possible for new student and associate members to join the Society online. Furthermore, the Society will no longer require new student and associate members to be nominated or seconded by existing members. This will make it a lot easier for us to attract new members to the Society and if this proves successful there is a plan to extend the online joining option to all membership categories down the track.

Speaking about memberships, hopefully by now you would have received, by post, your invoice for the 2013/14 membership year. We thought hard copies were the best way to go, as a physical reminder that payments are due. Often the emailed invoices just get lost among countless other emails in peoples in-boxes!

You will also note there has been a modest increase in membership fees. Given that there hasn’t been any increase at all in recent years, it doesn’t come as a surprise. If you think you are going to have trouble paying your membership in one hit please contact our treasurer, David Hudspeth, and we can sort out a payment plan (davhud@netspace. net.au). Don’t forget your ACS membership is fully tax deductible. All the details are on the invoice.

Before I go, I just want to encourage ACS Tasmania members, particularly those who are freelancers, to make sure they are registered on Screen Tasmania’s industry database. Screen Tasmania helps connect industry professionals with employment opportunities on productions intended to be made in Tasmania.

Go to the Screen Tasmania website - www.screen.tas.gov.au and click on the Register Now at the bottom of the page under Screen Tasmania Industry Database.

http://www.screen.tas.gov.au/News_articles/industry_database_registrations

Tasmania to host 2015 National ACS Awards

At the half-yearly National ACS AGM, held in Canberra it was confirmed that Tasmania would be hosting the National Awards for Cinematography in May 2015. This may sound a long way off but there is a lot to organise and your Tasmanian committee has already begun preliminary planning for this event. We will keep you all posted as we lock in an awards venue and start to shape a weekend of workshops, screenings and events built around it. We will be calling on many Tasmanian ACS members to help out as the awards draw near, but even now, willing volunteers are very much appreciated.

Peter Donnelly ACS, Hall of Fame Inductee

Getting home recently from the Annual ACS Awards in Canberra, I received an interesting phone call. In my preamble for the Hall of Fame Award, I had made mention of being influenced as a child by seeing a neighbour’s ‘lantern slide and movie collection.’

Mr Huon C Penn Cuthbert rang to tell me that his younger brother, Roderick Cuthbert, a wine grower at Deviot on the Tamar River, had seen an article about me in the Launceston Examiner and wondered whether it was the same Peter Donnelly they knew as children in Sandy Bay. I answered yes and was delighted to make his acquaintance after all those years.

Rod subsequently wrote to me: “Dear Peter, Cinephotographer extraordinaire, long time no see! Probably about 70 years,” and went on to tell me about Penn’s ‘Wonderland Theatre,’ in the cellar of their parents house in Ethelmont Road. Penn apparently was the proprietor and projectionist and he (Rod) was Penn’s assistant engineer! Indeed they used to show films there and I, my elder brother, Denis, and other neighbourhood kids, including the late Diana Nettlefold, must have been amongst the enthusiastic patrons.

Rod said that the Avalon Theatre gave away their old newsreels to anyone who could screen a 35mm film. He added that they must have had the first hydraulically-driven projector in existence. I was then too young to grasp the hi-tech engineering going on!

The hydraulic system was a simple string loop that went around a rotating sprinkler ‘outside’ in the garden, and returned inside to pass around the drive input of the theatre’s projector. It saved a lot of hand winding and irrigated the lawn at the same time. So there we all were one day, watching the 1936 Melbourne Cup, courtesy of the Avalon Theatre.

Penn also went on to hand paint, frame by frame, the really mind-blowing ‘Wonderland’ extravaganzas. My brother, Denis, remembered this process better than me. Apparently, Pen set himself on fire one day attempting to hasten the drying of his hand-painted frames.

Penn also entertained us with Pathe 9.5 movies, which were available for hire from Ash Bester, the Chemists in Elizabeth Street.

After the Wonderland Theatre died, Penn did try joining the industry with Herschell in Jolimont in Victoria, but later settled down to become a successful accountant in Hobart. Would you believe that Rod graduated in hydraulic engineering at the University of Tasmania and designed the present fountain at the ABC Roundabout!

Peter Donnelly ACS, Hall of Fame inductee.

In 1992 I was the Director of Photography for Diana Nettlefold’s feature, ‘De Vils Tasmania’, shot at Lisdillon on Tasmania’s East Coast. In this, I was ably assisted by fellow cinematographer, Paul Di Benedetto ACS. This is another story.

Peter Donnelly ACS

Win with your "On Location" photo

The Society wants your “on location” shot to use on the ACS web site, and is offering an incentive for submissions. So please send your hi-res photo to Ron Johanson ACS; president@austcine.org.au and it will go into the running for some great prizes.
There will be 5 lucky winners, each receiving one of the following prizes: a copy of The Shadowcatchers (x 2), an ACS Gift pack, a Fuji watch and a Fujifilm FinePix F770 EXR camera.
The only proviso is the photograph will need to be of an ACS member hard at work. That shouldn’t be too hard!!
The closing date is July 28....winners announced in the National E News.

News from Southern Cross TV by Dave Whitmore

Hi all. It’s as toey as a Roman sandal around The Cross these days, with much ado and plenty happening.

As this is written, we are waiting (with baited breath) for a long overdue equipment upgrade. Our much-loved Panasonic DVCPro50 cameras are being retired from active service and replaced by new generation Sony XD disc cameras. Effectively, this will take our Tasmanian Operation from a tape-based system to one which is file-based.

Our new PDW680 cameras (for News) and PMW500 (production) have full HD capability and onboard (OS). The onboard (OS) will allow for off camera metadata to be added live in the field. This will be a huge leap forward for large acquisition projects such as Targa Tasmania and documentary work, allowing for fast access to relevant files, without extensive downtime searching analogue tapes and ingesting in real time.

Remote field editing will also become a bit easier with Quantel Marco field editing units to run alongside our new TVU Live Send pack. No more real time ingesting of tapes via the good old Canopus ADVC box.
Our new cameras will also have new digital radio microphone links from Sony. With the spectrum available, as recently announced by the Federal Government, between 520 Mhz. and 694 Mhz.

Unfortunately, this takes us into the same area of spectrum that houses most television channels in Tasmania. This will mean that all ENG / EFP crews working on the ground will have to be aware of what frequencies are unavailable, and in what areas, and also co-operate with other crews to find some clean channels.

Production-wise, we have recently completed another series of Targa events, now held in Adelaide, Victorian high country, Huon Valley and Targa Tasmania to finish off the round.

These are now a 4 EFP camera shoot and a large reliance on onboard cameras to provide ‘in the moment’ visuals. The humble Go-Pro has proved extremely effective as an onboard solution, being easy to work with and exceptionally robust. Their one failing, however, is if you are going to write one off, you will not get a picture of its demise.

They buffer data via a ram chip to improve quality but impact means the last piece of vision will not be recorded to the card. Trust me, I have proved this a couple of times.
Big Australia is once again in the planning phase, aiming for another 6 episodes. This is a series which tries to show just how “big” and amazing our country really is. We all tend to take Australia a bit for granted and it is good to be reminded, from time to time, just how diverse and huge it really is. Shooting some of the first episodes was daunting.

The overseeing DOP is Tim Maloney from Axis films, a man with boundless energy and an unswerving desire to “get it right”. The programs were shot on a diverse range of gear - Panasonic P2, Sony Ex3, Panasonic AF102, Go-Pro, Canon 7d and Lumix GH-3. Data wrangling was quite the headache, demanding long hours into evenings (and indeed, early mornings) to get data organised, collated and backed up. Only a couple of hiccups! One, where an (unnamed) operator had copied five full P2 cards and then cleared the cards without un-docking them from the back up drive. He now knows that this can also delete the data from the storage drive. Three cards were lost before the error was spotted. This same operator also now knows that if you organise a contest; a Go-Pro Hero2 versus a 120 tonne road train, the road train wins.......every time!

Cannot wait for the next learning experience.
(Uncle) Dave Whitmore

Noir is the new black by Shaun Wilson

In the first few days of March, the long in development Noirhouse finally rolled into production. After being developed for a few different platforms, we decided to give it a crack as a web series. Noirhouse was the first recipient of Screen Tasmania’s Digital Media Fund, to be an experiment in three things: storytelling in serial short form, cheap quick production for online, and finding business models to make web series sustainable.

It’s a film-noir comedy about three noir archetypes – a detective, femme-fatale and Russian thug – living in a sharehouse together. It’s not a spoof, we took the Edgar Wright approach of doing a genre we love as well as we can, while continually undermining it with comedy.

That meant getting to do some classic film-noir style high-contrast black & white. With myself directing, Simon Gray as cinematographer and David Hudspeth as gaffer (along with assistance from Andrew Cleary and Leuke Marriott), we had quite the challenge. How do we get awesome stylised footage on such a limited budget in such a short amount of time?

We had 4 days to shoot 3 short episodes. We did 130 very pretty shots in that time. It was only possible thanks to our amazing cast and crew, especially the speedy decisions and execution by Simon and David.
Simon figured out some ‘quick wins’ for getting a stylised look. The key one was shooting a little lower than usual across the board - which gave our cast a larger-than-life look, and helped establish the film-noir feel.

We shot on the Canon 5D Mk III, the small size of which was very useful in the tight interiors we were shooting in. Monitoring, as always, proved to be a pain. The small HD monitor we were using was quite unreliable and we’d often have long pauses waiting for it to behave before continuing shooting. That said, the grayscale mode on the small HD was invaluable, given the footage was always going to be graded to black & white.

For lenses, Tom Waugh was kind enough to loan us his old Nikon manual focus kit. They aren’t as sharp as new lenses, but this proved to be a bonus. In particular, the 85mm we were using gave an amazing soft look that worked perfectly for the close-ups of our leading ladies, giving them a truly classic look.

I’d relied on handheld for energy a lot in previous productions and decided that wasn’t going to be appropriate for Noirhouse. Instead, the focus was on a lot of strong static coverage I could cut back and forth between quickly, to create energy in the edit. We were on legs for almost the entire shoot, the only moving shots were the occasional slider shot to add a little drama.

Our lighting largely revolved around using a pair of 400W dedo HMI’s to punch in from outside as a keylight (often through some very noir blinds, of course), then flouros and LED’s as needed to detail the room - but often at unusual low angles to keep things nice and strange.

Probably our most difficult day was in the Russian’s bedroom for Episode 3. We wanted a cold, harsh look with light shafting in from outside. The pair of dedo’s gave us the big stream of light, but keeping the light from bouncing around proved a problem.

Simon had already complained the Russian’s room was a tight working space - but then had David construct a tent from blacks inside the room to stop the light bouncing around. He made a smaller room inside the small room, and I mocked him repeatedly for it. But the result was excellent.

We’re quite happy with the result, especially given our very limited budget. The trailer is online now, and we’ll be releasing the episodes in mid July. Our hope is through this, and other series we have in the pipeline, we’ll find a way to make such content self-sustaining.

Shaun Wilson (Director)

Check out Noirhouse at http://noirhouse.com

Dark Lake Production News by Heidi Douglas

At Dark Lake Production, I’ve been focused on the development of my documentary Defendant 5: The Fall of the House of Gunns (www.defendant5.com), which has just been given development funding by Screen Tasmania.

I recently squeezed in a shoot in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, to make a training video in Tok Pisin for the local community who are trying to recover from a long and brutal civil war.

The locals are some of the darkest-skinned people in the world - so dark they are regarded as “blue black”, so shooting pieces to camera with minimal lighting gear in the field meant using a reflector and an on-camera light panel with my Panasonic AGAF102 EN.

I took my husband, Paul, along as the Line Producer, plus Paul also looked after our toddler, Remi, who had a great time playing with local kids in the villages. I did the rough-cut on site with the local representative using my MacBook Pro.

Because of the civil war, there is a ten year gap in education for the residents, so many are illiterate. The NGO I worked with has found training videos in the local language distributed on DVD’s a great way to overcome this problem.

Above It All wins first prize

Mike Sampey recently shot and colour graded Director David Pyefinch's latest short film called Above it All. This three minute gem was their entry into this years BOFA/ Tasmanian Tourism short film competition, The Essence of Tasmania, and as you may have heard it was just declared the winner. It's the second year in a row David and Mike have combined to produce the winning entry. Well-done boys! It's a really lovely looking film with that trademark Pyefinch quirky edge that always brings a smile to your face. Mike did a terrific job on the one day shoot, and his colour grade brings out the most in what was captured.

There are a few more pics here - http://www.davidpyefinch.com/index.html

The film was shot on a Canon 5D MkII using the Cinestyle look which was bought with the funds from last year’s winning entry "Best Kept Secret", which Mike shot on a Canon 60D.

Best kept secret - http://youtube/IbmtB3RuzRI

This year, Dane Meale assisted and also bought along some of his toys including his Rokinon cinema lenses, which were a big hit. Sharp, cheap and de-clicked! Here is a link to 'Above it All’ on Youtube;

Above it all - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTdXNNPUylc

Geoff Boyle RAW Workshop by David Huspeth

Last month I attended Geoff Boyle’s RAW workshop in Melbourne, hosted by ACS Victoria. Tasmanian Members Paul Di Benedetto ACS and Rob Montgomery also attended.

Whilst I have taken many RAW photographs and experienced its fantastic ability to maintain information in the highlights and shadows that can be brought out when grading the shots, I have not shot RAW video. However, I felt the need to try and keep up with this fast moving area of cinematography. Having spent most of my career working with the limited dynamic range in video, the prospect is tantalising.

Geoff Boyle is the creator of CML, the Cinematography Mailing List. (CML is well worth subscribing to and it’s free.) He is very well informed, an entertaining speaker and not afraid of saying just what he thinks. The two day workshop with Geoff provided a wide ranging overview of RAW capture including cameras, recorders, monitoring and grading, all peppered with entertaining stories and observations from Geoff’s long career.

Geoff acknowledged this whole area can be confusing, as camera manufacturers tend to guild-the-lilly in terms of specs in a highly competitive market, where standards can be a moving feast. It is definitely worth having enough technical knowledge to sort the wheat from the chaff. You also need to have done your homework on workflows before you start shooting. You need to know the limits of the system and how to get the most out of it throughout the process.

What is a RAW image? According to Wikipedia....

A camera raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of either a digital camera, image scanner, or motion picture film scanner. Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed ........

Raw image files are sometimes called digital negatives, as they fulfill the same role as negatives in film photography: that is, the negative is not directly usable as an image, but has all of the information needed to create an image. .........

Like a photographic negative, a raw digital image may have a wider dynamic range or color gamut than the eventual final image format, and it preserves most of the information of the captured image. The purpose of raw image formats is to save, with minimum loss of information, data obtained from the sensor, and the conditions surrounding the capturing of the image (the metadata). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Raw_image

Advantages of shooting RAW:
“ - After shooting we can...

• Apply lens correction settings, keystone, barrel, vignetting, all fixed
• Apply sharpening that we like and WHERE we like (wanna soften only the skin?)
• Apply effective and subtle noise reduction
• Apply saved and favourite grades or ‘looks’
• And of course it leaves huge possibilities for colour grading”

Issues with RAW:
• CMOS sensors (artifacts)
• Handling huge amounts of data
• Compression and losing information in post
• Lack of standards

ALIASING AND MOIRE

Geoff argued that to avoid aliasing and moiré the sensors need to have twice the resolution of the final output. (Google Nyquist frequency.) This is exacerbated by the loss in resolution caused by the bayer pattern in the CMOS sensors, used in digital cinema cameras, which do not record RGB at every pixel. To avoid aliasing and moiré you need to originate at at least twice the resolution that you want to finish with. So you need at least a 4 K sensor to shoot 2 K Images without artifacts.


See more on Beyer sensors from wikipedia below at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_ cinematography

FILE SIZES

RAW offers some challenges with its massive file size, although there are some amazingly compact and relatively affordable recorders able to cope with RAW, such as those from Convergent Technology.

How much data? - These figures are for 90 minutes of material
• Pro-Res 4:4:4:4 1080P-167.4GB
• Uncompressed 10-bit 2K RGB-1139.6GB
• Cinema DNG (RAW) 12-bit 4K 16:9 RGB-5125.8GB
• Uncompressed 16-bit 4K 16:9 RGB-6834.4GB

LOG

To keep file size down many Cameras record Log Files. Log compresses the highlights and expands the shadows to make the most efficient use of bandwidth. With Log a fixed amount of data is given to each stop of brightness change. This produces the flattened Log image. You may lose some dynamic range going from RAW to Log, but it keeps file sizes relatively manageable.

Dynamic Range of file systems

• Conventional IRE TV-5 stops
• 8-bit-7 stops
• 8-bit Log-9 stops
• 10-bit Cineon Log-11.3 stops
• 12-bit Alexa Log-14 + stops

Geoff pointed out that human perception is limited to 10 stops.

RAW POST

Once you have shot in RAW you need to apply Look-up Tables (LUT’s) to allow the files to be viewed on a monitor in the desired way, both on set and in post. Geoff demonstrated using colour grading software, Davinci Resolve, on his laptop. Using this or other software such as Speedgrade the cinematographer can create LUTs for viewing and to send the colourist graded images to show how the scene should be graded. (Davinci Resolve Lite is free software from Black Magic.) Camera manufacturers also make LUT’s.

Geoff advocates the use of LUT boxes, which convert the RAW for monitoring on location, as you can load in the desired LUT into the box.

“A number of cameras now enable you to load ‘looks’ into the camera and have it modify monitoring. The problem is that none of these are standard. I prefer to output a standard signal and then feed that into a LUT box before it goes to the monitors. I supply standard LUT’s to load into the system........

.... Of course LUT’s can only work if your monitor and the Colourist’s monitor are the same. This is never going to happen!

Your colorist is in a controlled environment; you are probably on location with weird ambient light and reflection problems.

Seriously, you can get the monitors pretty close by using calibration probes and software.
I use Spyder but there are other equally good and cheap systems, you have no excuse for not using them.

As a safety you should always shoot and grade to neutral a chart, make a frame grab of this and tell your colourist that that is what looks normal on your system, he can then build an offset to make it look right on his”

TEST

Cameras on show were Sony F65, Sony F55, Arri Alexa, Blackmagic, Canon C300, and Red Epic.
A camera comparison test was shot at the workshop, which demonstrated that in most of the cameras raising ISO makes no difference to what is being recorded when shooting RAW. Most of the cameras just change the reference point for mid gray when the ISO is raised The exception is the Canon which adds gain and white balance in the A to D conversion, reducing noise levels (this makes the Canon C300 perform better in low light).

USING IR FILTERS

Because the CMOS sensors are sensitive to Infra Red (IR) light, when you are using ND it is important to use IR filters. Normal ND filters cut the visible spectrum but do not cut the IR hitting the sensor. The more ND you use the worse it gets. IR colours the blacks and alters the colourimetry.

MAIN TAKE-HOME MESSAGES

It is all about the images, not the numbers, but there is no doubt RAW is transforming cinematography. It is possible for a cinematographer to create LUTs and maintain input over the final grading and look of the image, by providing reference images for the colourist. You need to do your homework and test so you can advocate for your intentions to make it to the screen. Many of the cheaper RAW cameras and processing software are becoming very accessible; so it is possible get a feel for RAW without having access to an expensive Red or Arri camera.

Thanks to Geoff for his professional generosity, the ACS for organising Geoff’s tour and to the Victorian ACS Members for making it happen.
If you want more detail, check out the power points. There is a dropbox link below to download Geoff’s power points, which are well worth trawling through. There is also a DSLR vs Arri Alexa demo video, which clearly illustrates the advantages of RAW.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6tjmpbc17j7t3mo/lbSPwYi8je

Joe Shemesh News

Hovering over the impressive flotilla of wooden boats arriving in Hobart for the Wooden Boat Festival, it was hard to ignore the billowing smoke above Mt Wellington, as much of the Huon Valley was under extreme threat of bush fires. Doug Thost and I were operating out of a twin-engine Sikorsky over the Derwent and while not an ideal filming platform, it was provided to us by Heli Resources as a last resort - after the machine we had originally booked for the job, crashed while fighting fires the day before. The machine was destroyed, but the pilot miraculously survived.

So, after a long and somewhat scary summer period, it was a relief to see autumn arrive, bringing with it lower temperatures and that beautiful quality of light that truly sets Tassie apart from the rest of Australia.

I made the most of the stable weather over April and May, completing some field trips that included Cradle Mountain, Port Davey and the West Coast. I also fitted in a 3-day shoot with Dick Marks OAM at the Islington Hotel in Hobart. The links to vimeo clips from these shoots are below.

Together with the Bookend Trust and a team of broadcast industry professionals, I have recently launched Natural History Australia TV, which just recently secured its first development-funding grant from Screen Tasmania.

To get us through winter, a 3-man crew and I are heading to the north of the State for a 2-3 month shoot, which will be publicised more broadly next year – if we manage to capture the Money Shot.

https://vimeo.com/67558198 Melaleuca Clip
https://vimeo.com/64938889 Islington Hotel Promo
https://vimeo.com/65137447 Cradle Mountain

Tasmanian ACS member wins International Innovation prize

In April, ACS Tasmania member, Pawel Achtel, won the major International Innovation Prize at NAB in Las Vegas for his DeepX and 3Deep underwater camera systems.

Those of us who went to visit Pawel at his Friendly Beaches shed last year, know how much he deserves the award, after putting in hundreds of hours of work developing this extraordinary rig. By using 5K RED Epic sensors and Nikonos lenses, coupled together through a titanium engineered housing, we saw for ourselves how he can produce pin-sharp, undistorted, underwater images. Given that the 3Deep rig is also 1/5th the size of any other 3D underwater housing, the future is looking bright for Pawel.

Pawel is currently taking a month off and is getting married in Poland. Congratulations Pawel! 2013 is turning out to be a huge year for you. We can’t wait to see some of the underwater images you are currently capturing for release on large screens around the world.
The Catalyst segment on Pawel’s invention, shot by our very own David Hudspeth, aired last week on ABC TV. Great job, Dave. http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3795962. htm.

DM's World Tour by Dick Marks OAM

Hola from Buenos Aires. Patricia and I have been here just over a month now and it’s a colourful, noisy, vibrant and exciting city. Bit dodgy now and then, but the huge dirt- cheap steaks more than compensate for a bit of scallywaggery. I refer to the bastard Mustard Gang. They sniff out lone tourists, squirt them on the back or hind legs with a putrid, yellowy green substance that they have concocted to look and smell like what they think pigeon shit looks and smells like. Sadly, they are a long way off, as this brew is much, much worse. After they spray you, a nice little woman passes by and just happens to ‘notice’ that the goddam pigeons have shit on you. She then offers to wipe it off. At this time another ‘good Samaritan’, who also just happens to be passing by, gets in to help. Within seconds they are brushing you all over and then, after a few very grateful ‘thank you’s’ from their unsuspecting target, they are in a nearby waiting car and gone... with everything you had in your bag and pockets. Soooo clever.

They got as far as spraying me... twice. But after many, many years of filming in strange and foreign places, I’m very suspicious of any physical contact with the locals, and on both occasions I didn’t let anyone closer than 3 metres before I barked a few loud expletives, which they seemed to understand perfectly. Sadly, one has to be suspicious and cynical and often rude in order to stay out of trouble... even then it can force itself upon you. I usually point straight to the woman who first saw the bird shit, then wiz pan around and sure enough, there’s her accomplice, leaning casually up against the shop front, ‘chatting’ on his mobile. They are never ready for the wiz pan, so I have caught them twice, watching and waiting to strike. So a few more loud expletives and guess what? They racked off!

I’m waiting for the knife to come out. Now that is another story. That’s when diplomacy and US$’s come in handy. Ha, ha.

On a happy note, we went to see a wonderful Video Art installation the other day and it just blew us away. Three screens totalling about 100 feet across, that’s about 33 metres for the kiddies, and the best projection I have ever seen. It is called The Liminal Space Trilogy and is created by a couple of Russians with unprintable names. Just Google ‘bloody clever Ruskies’ and I’m sure you will come up trumps.

Mona had one of their video pieces on display when they first opened. I sat right in the hi-diddle-diddle at the back and snagged a few images for you with my wee Leica D-Lux 6. Wonderful camera and almost invisible. Best decision I ever made was to ditch the big DSLR and go with this little baby. The 24mm to 90mm zoom is neigh on the perfect lens, given one has to schlepp it about and still be able to slip it inside your coat pocket. I love this camera. And best of all, I look like a silly old turisto. But then again, I never looked like anything else.

All the best my ACS cobbers. DM.




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