Production in Pisek, Czech Republic

We spent all of last week in the Czech Republic meeting with our hopeful sister school, FAMO, in Pisek.  It is a beautiful small town south of Prague with all the resources you would need for your production and your inspiration!







We are not going to give details yet about our adventure because we will be speaking to our advanced production students in the coming weeks but we will soon be presenting to the various campuses and the community to speak more about this wonderful collaboration and the invaluable experience the students will get through their adventures in the Czech Republic working with the best professionals in their field while taking a personal journey of exploration and growing as an individual.  Stay tuned!

Clear the confusion


I will have a new blog post coming out in the coming days with all the new details we learned about in our effort to create a collaboration with our sister school in the Czech Republic, but for now, I wanted to clarify an earlier post because it was brought to my attention that it is not just cinema students who visit this site but also photography students and they might be getting conflicting messages too.  So, to clarify, PHT 130 still exists as a cross-listed class with ART 160.  ART 160 is for Cinema degree students and any student wishing to explore filmmaking, whether for personal interest or for transfer.  PHT 130 is for photography students in a photography degree who will not be considering any sort of degree change to Cinema in the future.

ART 160 – Film Production I/High School Visits

First of all, I just want to thank all the wonderful students we had the honor to meet while we have been touring the local high schools to discuss our film program.  For anyone who has any further questions, please do not hesitate to email Dr. Bryan Brown or Mr. Chris Stallings.

In addition, we sadly wish to report we recently realized an error in our class management system and it was not allowing students to enroll in ART 160 – Film Production I.  If you attempted to enroll and had difficulties (it was forcing you to select a lab, of which there was not one), then please try again now, as the problem should be resolved.

If you are still having problems, please email us (; and we will work through it to ensure you are taking the classes you want!

Lights, Camera, Enroll…

It is that time again – registration.  Spring registration is upon us and I have already heard a lot of conversation around campus with students that are interested in taking video production courses.

We will be offering both Video I (PHT 130) and Video II (PHT 131) this coming spring 2016 semester.

While Video I is a great course for all things filmmaking and will concentrate on making you a better filmmaker for each student, no matter what starting level of experience, it is by no means basic.  Learn all aspects of pre-production, production, and post-production.

Video II is reserved for those students who have already taken Video I (or by special permission by the instructor – Chris Stallings).  Video II will concentrate more on the class working as a small independent film crew and using the time to deepen your understanding of cinematography, including lighting and audio, and you will get exposure to the RED Epic cinema camera and start filming in 5K resolution.

Start becoming a professional in the field now.

However, classes are cancelled quickly if there is not early interest (as determined by enrollment) so make sure you are not disappointed if you wait to enroll.  Do it now and reserve your spot.

Let’s make the next best thing together!

Lighting and Equipment Practicum Class for Video I Students

Once a semester, the PHT 130 (Video I) students get to “play” with many of the filming tools we have available: dolly, jib, slider, as well as, work on lighting set ups to better understand the types of lights, hard vs. soft, gels and color temperature, and decreasing intensity.

Here are a few still shots from this afternoon:

Before shot of regular classroom lighting with overhead fluorescents:


ClassLighting.Still004(Thank you to “model” Anna)





Shots of Anna and “model” Lara with basic three point lighting (with second shot of basic color correction – no grading):ClassLighting.Still006ClassLighting.Still007ClassLighting.Still003ClassLighting.Still008ClassLighting.Still005ClassLighting.Still009


The Internet is A’Buzz About New Commercial

What used to be common advertising gimmicks has now transitioned into the same cliches just in video format.  But is this a bad thing?  Video can arguably move emotions easier and with more depth than print ads so video opens up many new opportunities to connect with an audience but the same foundations are still there…

Make it memorable:


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.