Interview with George Lucas 2015

In 1977, I was blown away as a child after seeing the original Star Wars. It was realistic (for whatever references there had been established by other Sci-Fi movies) and it had a great story. In the days of modest action figures and sound tracks, I did make my dad buy the cassette version of the sound track. What a status that would’ve made on FB – if there was one at the time.

The transitions to the second and third also made me jump for joy. This was the golden goose that kept giving to the fans and to the studios. It was amazing after I studied film that I realized the simple genius of George Lucas. In his 50 years of film-making as a DIRTECTOR (1965-2015), he has only directed 18 films! However, his commercial vision has blown away box offices and revenues for over three decades. His interview with Charlie Rose (PBS • 12/24/2015) is a candid look at this film-making mogul.

Video courtesy of PBS • All rights reserved.

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The Student Films of Famous Directors

I really enjoyed this post about top director’s student films. It helps students see what worked and what didn’t. They are timeless in idea and technique with resources available to them.

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 12.40.47 PMClick on the above image (from Spike Lee’s Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads) for the article and films!

Also, check out my senior thesis film:


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Korg Mono/Poly Part 1


Recently, I got the urge to dust off and fix my Korg Mono/Poly’s keyboards. They are notorious for not making contact after a while! This was my first synth and I spent hours/months trying to learn synthesis using it. It was used by all the notable electronic composers of the time such as Vangelis, JM Jarre, Tangerine Dreams, and Klaus Schulze.

It has four VCO’s which can be shared in four-voice Polyphonic mode, or linked in Unison for a versatile monophonic lead. Each VCO has its own level, tune, and waveform type control. Waveforms include triangle, sawtooth, variable pulse wave. It has a great VCF (filter) section as well as two envelope generators (one for the oscillators and one for the filter). There are also 2 individual LFO’s which can be used to modulate the Pulse Width, envelope and Arpeggiator independently.

Also included are chord memory and an effects mode in which oscillators have a variety of ways to be synced. The built-in arpeggiator and sequencer (very basic) can run all 4 VCO’s at a time or cycle through each voice per note! There’s also portamento, CV/Gate, VCF and VCO mod inputs, white noise generator, and the pitch/mod wheels can be assigned to control LFO, pitch or the filter. Its sound quality is nice and very Korg. I used to use a Roland 100 note analog sequencer with it and synchronized it using a drum machine clock.

I have found a resource for fixing the keyboard issue:

Will let you know, how the repair will go soon!

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The Harryhausen Chronicles

Ray Harryhausen moved from his native England to Los Angeles as a child. Being inspired by the original King Kong (1933), he made various short subject stop motion films. After WWII, he worked on the Oscar winning Mighty Joe Young (1949) and paved his way to create decades of special effects oriented movies with his own flavor! The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and Jason and the Argonauts (1963) are his notable start up films. His unique way of working with light and rear projection gave live action actors a new challenge to interact with special effects shots.
These two videos are very cool to watch and admire his work!


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JLCooper Eclipse CX Midnight

One of the toys I played around with today was the JLCooper Eclipse CX Midnight. It seems very friendly when you use it without much of a bulky interface to the computer. It is compatible with Da Vinci Resolve, FCP, Color, and Speedgrade!


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Gemini Workflow with ARRIRAW

This is a good video courtesy of AbleCine about Convergent Design’s Gemini 4:4:4 recorder. Recently, ARRIRAW support was added via a paid license key, making it the most affordable ARRIRAW recorder. The Gemini is very easy to use on set, but the post workflow can be a bit tricky.  More videos with Resolve 9 tips to come!

For more info see:

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The Film Image Part 1

I’ve been asked many times by students and film-making enthusiasts to explain film to them. I decided to post more about film since the digital technologies are just a Google away! So, the best way to do this is to cover the basics. In this post I will explain the properties of film.

The emulsion, the top layer of the raw stock, is a light sensitive material. It is silver halide crystals suspended in gelatin. The variable size of crystals make emulsion sensitive to light. When exposed to light, a latent image is formed in the emulsion. When developed, the latent image becomes visible. The chemical solution of the developer reacts with the silver halide crystals to reduces them to metallic silver (opaque to light.) Using the fixer in the later stage of development, crystals that have not been exposed to light are removed by the fixer.

The areas of the emulsion most exposed to the light end up with greatest concentration of metallic sliver. These are the darkest areas when you project light through them. Areas with little light end up with less metallic silver and are more transparent. This is negative film. On the negative film all the brightness values of the original scene are reversed. Light becomes dark and dark becomes light!

The emulsion rests on the base layer which is firm and flexible support. This helps film run through the mechanics of filming, developing, and projecting with ease. In order to avoid reflection off the back of the film and re-expose the emulsion (halation), an antihalation backing is incorporated in a film layer. With modern film stocks, this halo effect is very minimal. But, you can spot some older films with a halo effect around a bright light source!

Next post we’ll talk about the film process.

©2012 babak sarrafan

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Canon EOS C500 4K Cinema Camera

I am so excited to try this camera next month for a shoot! The price is a bit high for owning but with all the 4K buzz going on and Canon’s reliability and ease of post-production flow chart, I think it’s super duper 🙂

Check out the review!


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Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This is a film that is not only about the art of sushi, but also about family, succession, and tradition. Jiro‘s message about the value of hard work, patience and vision applies not only to sushi, but also to any form of creation. The story of a son living in the shadow of his father is something that many people can identify with. From the beginning, I wanted to make this a film accessible to anyone, even those who don’t like sushi or have never tried it. ~ David Gelb, Director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi

As a filmmaker and a foodie, I really enjoyed this documentary. I have visited Japan many times and I had actually passed by this sushi place in the Ginza district. But, unfortunately, I didn’t know anything about it at the time. Jiro only serves sushi dishes and reservations have to be made a month in advance. This Michelin star rated chef is active in his 80’s!

The film is well paced and tells the story of not only Jiro but sushi as well. It was shot on RED ONE and it is really nicely color graded. Having the journalist doing most of the narration is a clever idea! I also, like the mention of how super market sushi is draining the fish supply 🙁

Here is the interview with the filmmaker on Tribeca Film site! His approach to filmmaking should be noted by young filmmakers.

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The Endless Summer (1966) Revisited

Surf movies have always been a very important medium for surfing. And their influence on the spread of surfing should not be underestimated. It was surf movies that first made the sport visible to people around the globe. Movies like Hawaiian Surfing Movie in 1953 followed by Hollywood’s fun filled surfer life style movies like Gidget (1959), Where the Boys Are (1960), Beach Party (1963), and even one with the King Elvis Presley: Blue Hawaii (1961)! I even made a feature film Sting of Chance (1997) with surfing sequences in it…I love surfing!
But, no full length surfing feature film got the just of it till Bruce Brown’s 1966 The Endless Summer! I revisited the movie on Blu-Ray and it is still brilliant. The cinematography, the humor, the low budget travel, having goofy fun with the actors, and a coherent story line makes it valid to this date.
The movie idea was born through the suggestion of a travel agent to Brown during the pre-production stages of the movie. The travel agent suggested that the flight from Los Angeles to Cape Town, South Africa and back would cost $50 more than a trip going around the world. After which, Bruce came up with the idea of following the summer season by traveling around the world thus the name The Endless Summer! Another important fact is that Brown was/is  a surfer and a filmmaker. He really got it!

One of the lessons to be learned is that he was turned down by Hollywood a few times regarding distribution of the film. He rented theaters in Wichita, Kansas and in New York city to a sold out crowd for weeks. After the success of the showing in New York, Don Rugoff of Cinema 5 distribution said he wanted to distribute the film and it’s poster as is, thus Brown selected him over other distributors who wished to alter the poster.

The Endless Summer Official Website

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