Tech Week Video Demo

Former film students Meghan Oney and Paige Fischer volunteered their time two weeks ago during the LTR Division’s sponsored Tech Week event.

During three separate sessions, they demonstrated the use of Adobe’s Premiere Pro to complete simple editing commands.

Their demonstrations were well-received by students and faculty alike.

We thank them so much for all their hard work and time in helping the campus.

Here are a few pictures of the event:


Living in the Cinematic Past, if just for a day

I had the opportunity to witness some local history in the Tidewater area of Virginia yesterday afternoon, specifically on the border of the cities of Newport News and Hampton, as a fifty-year old time capsule was opened from the steps of a now-abandoned movie theater.

IMG_2031IMG_2036 As a filmmaker and professor of film and video, yes, I thought it could be an interesting afternoon to see what was buried in the ground of this theater when it opened 50 years ago on September 13, 1965 but the event was a little more special for me than just realizing cinema history.  You see, I also grew up in that area and saw many movies at that theater so the nostalgia was even heightened further for me.  How about all the other locals that can boast the same and even spent their afternoon at the same event.  Well…

The most important part of the unveiling of the time capsule was it was packed by my grandfather 50 years ago as he was the theater manager when it opened and continued to supervise daily operations until he retired.  I remember many movie engagements made special by ushers catering to my sweet tooth at the insistence of my grandfather.  So, when I think back to what got me involved in film as a career and a hobby, I have to reflect on the importance of my early exposure to the beauty of film and its ability to let you escape for a couple of hours.

As a special honor, my father (man in the purple shirt) got to open the canister and pull out the first item:




Besides many envelopes of material dated from the time and items important to the area and the history of the time, there was an envelope that was more personal to my family, including a picture of my father and aunt at the time, the newspaper wedding announcement of my parents as they got married about two months prior to the time capsule burial, as well as a picture of my grandparents in that era (though my grandfather passed away nearly fifteen years ago, the time capsule unveiling yesterday would have been his 106th birthday – to the day):


One thing you must understand was the theater business was much different than today as you did not rely on the monopoly of a big theater chain to drive business but you had to create your own magic outside the theater doors to bring them inside.  My grandfather was one of the best at promotion, even if it meant marching circus animals down a busy city street to announce the premiere of the original “Tarzan” movie at the theater.

Also, filling a theater meant attracting big name celebrities of the time just to urge patrons to spend their hard-earned money on a  theater seat.  Of all the items in the time capsule, this personalized and signed photo of the Beatles would fetch a pretty penny for any music fan:

IMG_2053 - Version 2

However, as much as we get lost in the mystery and magic that is film, sometimes it is the simplest things that mean the most to someone and their own life, as is exhibited when my father met a man who introduced himself and thanked us because my grandfather had given him his first job many years ago and it changed his life:

IMG_2017 So, when you attend your nearby neighborhood movie theater and take the experience for granted, think about all the people involved in giving you those two hours of escape.  Think about all the thousands of cast and crew of the movie, as well as, the many involved in the distribution companies and the actual movie theater itself, right down to the person at the concession stand selling you a tub of popcorn, just so you have the opportunity to let your imagination imagine a different time and different place and, most importantly, a different life.  Movies are certainly magical!

***Here is a link to the story from a local newspaper:

Daily Press – Time Capsule 1965

Matrix iPad Shoot Behind the Scenes

We just made a short behind the scenes video of the iPad shoot (it is also in the Video section of the blog).

Please know that this was completely experimental and we learned a lot.  Here are some of our takeaways:

1. If we had any sort of budget, we would have created a rig to hold all 100 iPads.  As it turned out, we had to use students to hold the iPads so we had to use 38 instead of 100. The rigs we designed that would have held the weight and the angle of the iPads would have cost too much money (I was willing to shell out $50 or so but our designs would have cost even more).

2. Using people to hold the iPads caused a huge variable of the angle of the view. Consistency was a huge issue.

3. The inability to change the focal length and with only one zoom option of the iPad camera, we could not “zoom” in enough to get rid of the background elements, especially the bodies of the encircled students.

4. With everything else being discussed in the planning and design phase, we were able to actually test the camera quality of these iPads and, as you see, they really struggle in low light.  If we redo this experiment, we will have to film outside with a lot of light and with a acceptable rig for all 100 iPads.

NOVA Matrix Video

Here is the video the students created this past spring semester using 38 iPad Airs to record the action of the scene, including the frozen action spin move that was made famous by the Matrix movies.

There were some complications and some things we could have done better, but it was a simple experiment that could be adapted in the future for better results.


New Demo Reel Video for 2015

With another semester in the books, I realized I had a lot of old footage from students over the years.  I had created a reel about three years ago with about a year and a half of footage from that point.  Now, I am unveiling the new one created for the last two and a half years.

In addition to this video, I have added a few more student videos to the video page of this blog so check them out when you get a chance.

Also, the iPad camera shoot video that spoofs the Matrix will be posted soon but there is an accompanying behind-the-scenes video that we are trying to finish first.


Another Great Student Film


I encourage you to check out this latest video from the creative minds that brought you “Smellovision,” Paige Fischer and Meghan Oney (with some special acting from some talented family members).

I will be adding it soon to the Video section of this blog (along with some other newer additions from this semester – so check back soon) but I wanted to give you a look at the great art that is coming from our campus.

The video was completed for CST 250 (Art of the Film).

Woodbridge Film Program Visits Woodbridge High School

Woodbridge High Visit



WHS Visit












Jonathan Balsamo (pictured above) and Chris Stallings had the pleasure of visiting students at Woodbridge High School and discussing some aspects of the film program at the Woodbridge campus of NOVA.

You can see the RED Epic camera pictured here in the photo.  Students can learn to work on this cinema camera.

For a sampling of some of the classes offered here on campus, please refer to the “About” section of this blog site.  In addition, please feel free to contact Chris Stallings ( with any further questions about what is offered.

iPad shoot is “in the can”






Film student Aaron Kimmel took this overhead photo of some of the action of our iPad shoot on Monday.  Notice the action in the middle surrounded by the students and lights in the background.

We will post more about this event in the coming days.  Everyone should be getting online and enrolling for film classes for this coming fall semester.