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iPod Touch: HD Video Test Run

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I recently upgraded my iPod Touch, replacing my beloved, trustworthy first gen with a sleek, dare I say: sexy, 4th generation model, that finally features the same 720p HD video capability as the iPhone4. I hope to eventually create a short movie using footage shot on the iPod alone, as was done with the iPhone4 a few months back.

Here’s a three second clip I shot on the train home last night – no postprocessing, other than trimming. The guy in front of me was asleep, yet every so often he’d tap his feet. The funky shoes called to me.

Clearly, the quality isn’t good enough to warrant throwing out my Canon HV20! But I do like having a handheld device that can shoot better quality footage than my ancient mobile phone. It could be improved with some postprocessing jiggery-pokery. And of course, the provision of good lighting and a stable platform, (i.e., NOT an artificially lit, moving train carriage) would make all the difference too.

Like Oil and Water

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Salams all. I’m Nida – also known as Mehzabeen’s shadow and stressmaster while helping her work on the FOSIS video. Inshallah in future I’ll be passing on any tips and tricks about video production I pick up while doing a Masters in Science Media Production at Imperial. But for now all I’m good for is delivering interesting anecdotes from the set of the FOSIS video.

I’d say the most valuable thing I learned while working on the FOSIS video is this: never work with brothers. There are several reasons.

1) They are incapable of taking direction- its like everything needs to be translated from English into Brother speak. Example:

Sis director: Ok now look shocked.

*Bro pulls a face*

Sis: Look shocked!

*Bro grimaces some more*

Sis: Oh for crying out loud … *says something scandalous*

*Bro looks shocked*

*Sis quickly starts filming*

2) Then there’s their general unwillingness to do anything interesting in front of camera. You’d think some of these guys had never been asked to wrestle a squirrel puppet in a public space before.

Sis: Now rugby tackle the squirrel.

Bro: *shuffles around a bit* Do I have to?

Sis: *looking fierce* YES

Bro: *rugby tackles squirrel*

Sis: *Filming on her camera*

Bro’s mates: *Filming on their mobiles*

And then there was the prayer room scene. Don’t ask how me and Mehzabeen managed to wrestle the guys into those masks (Easter egg: Look out for Salman Waqar – attempting to hide his identity through cunning use of his prayer mat cape).

Alhamdulillah we pulled it off in the end and all in all it was a fun experience- but I know what I’ll be carrying through onto the next project. Lesson learnt: no brothers.

Doctor, Director: New Short from Ummah Films

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Ummah Films have released their latest short film, titled: Doctor, Director (Watch it via Vimeo). It only cost $7000 to make and was financed from public contributions. It falls under the genre of bitter-sweet romcom, providing a glimpse into the emotionally charged, socially awkward world of Islamic proposals. A Muslim version of Meet the Parents – without the gross out comedy.

I don’t wish to fully critique the film so soon after its release. Criticism is certainly very important in order to increase the quality of future productions – but offering it five minutes after release is akin to a kick in the gut for the team that put in so much hard work. Trust me, I speak from experience! Instead, I’ll share what I honestly liked about it.

I thought it was very funny in places, especially little things like the mother’s excessive hospitality and cleanliness. I also sympathized with the plight of the main characters, Ali and Layla, perhaps because I’ve been there myself. The overall picture quality was really good, and there were moments of true artistry with the directing, masha’Allah. Part Two of my review will come later, though none of my ‘negative’ criticisms are all that harsh (I hope!).

I’ve only been involved in a hand-full of productions, but I know script-based films are much more challenging than filming events, vlogs, or conducting interviews. Further, I personally think comedy and horror are the most difficult genres around: so hard to get right, and so easy to get wrong. I think UF did make something chuckle-worthy, masha’Allah, and they have definitely improved a lot over time in terms of their production value. Much respect to them for their efforts, and I look forward to the next big project.

Read Part II of my review here…

G-RAID Mini: Mmm… New Tech Makes Me Warm Inside

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The camera I use, a Canon HV20, films to mini DV tape. For editing, I capture footage to a 500GB LaCie Quadra drive, and access it via FireWire. I do this so as not to burn out the internal hard drive on my MacBook (as recommended by the Apple Store peeps), and also because HD footage takes up a lot of space. Alhamdulillah, this setup has suited me fine for a good 18 months.

However, in spite of taking this precaution, my MacBook hard drive still decided to conk out back in May, and ever since, I’ve been on the prowl for a new external hard drive to use for editing, so that I can use the LaCie as a Time Machine backup disk. As my hard drive failure also coincided with the setup of the Film Club, I decided that the new drive should be portable so that I could edit ‘on the go’, and more easily pass on footage to other SFC members, if and when the need arose. Further, I wanted the drive to be FireWire compatible, and spin at 7200rpm (as opposed to the more standard 5400rpm).

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FOSIS Video Competition: The Results Are In… {Halal drum roll please}

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I attended the FOSIS conference yesterday for the video presentations. About 10 minutes before going on stage to hear the results, I became exceedingly nervous. It was one of those strange moments when raw gut feeling came into direct conflict with rational thought: I knew in my head that this wasn’t the Oscars, but could someone tell my heart that please? It’s about to burst out of my chest, Alien-stylee.

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Islam Channel Film Festival

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Just saw this video, and had to share immediately:

I discussed this idea with Saima Hussain of Global Peace & Unity last year, and am really glad that they’re actually going ahead with it (not to imply that it was my idea – rather, she already had the idea… which we discussed… anyway).

I’m just a little annoyed that some of my suggestions were not taken on board… not that I aggressively promoted them or anything. But still. First, I recommended two main categories: amateur and professional. That’s because people like me – 100% amateurs – are going to be put off entering a race against media giants. Or even media freakishly tall people.

My second gripe is Read the rest of this entry

Free Sound Effects for Your Production

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One of the most important aspects of movie-making is a good audio track. In fact, I would argue that sound quality is more critical than video quality. A one-second sound clip can improve the effectiveness of a scene by 100%. The following is a simple, low-res example from our first production, A Day in the Life of a Muslim Student.

Before, with the original recorded sound:

After, using a ‘boing‘ sound effect.

I found FreeSound.org to be an excellent resource in this regard. They have short and long sound files that have the potential to really enhance your production, insha’Allah. Especially as the clips are free and of good quality. All you have to do is attribute the owner somewhere in your credits. Note: there may be some restrictions on use if you want to modify the sound, or if your project is commercial in nature – check the Creative Commons license that the user has applied to their file.

Know of anymore great sound sites? Leave a comment below.

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