Archive for July, 2009

Comments Off on Dynamic Content Updates Page from Sprint

Regardless of how you feel about Sprint, this new, constantly updating Flash-based promo page for the “Now Network” is quite amazing. The longer you wait the more the page changes. Updates seem to keep coming so it appears this isn’t just some Flash loop but rather utilizes dynamic content to update itself.

Sometimes you’ll have to look closely to see when something new pops up – it’s that cluttered with “stuff”, but in this case the clutter actually makes sense since Sprint is trying to convey the sheer amount of things happening in this world every second.

Quite impressive. After some time one of the many new updates is an option to embed a small version of the page on a blog or post to Facebook or Myspace. Sprint really put some thought into this (or, more likely, the company or team that actually built this thing).

Go here to see the actual page. Just be patient, the white splash screen will go away in a little while and then you’ll see the page I’m talking about.


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Comments Off on CNBC – Porn: Business of Pleasure

I thought CNBC’s Porn: Business of Pleasure was a pretty fair docu on the adult industry. Show host Melissa Lee (who could’ve been a pornstar herself, in my eyes) had about an hour to profile the industry, so the whole thing was of course very “soundbite-y” in nature.

Steven Hirsch, Vivid KINGS AND QUEENS

The show had industry honchos like Steven Hirsch (Vivid), Joy King (Wicked Pictures) as well as Max Hardcore, Digital Playground contract star Jesse Jane, and others discuss some of the problems the industry faces, the biggest one of course being that free porn is pretty much anywhere you go now so there’s much less of an incentive for consumers to actually spend money on it.

Yet Hirsch hasn’t really managed to maximize his online presence. Sure, Vivid has its sites and a (surprisingly outdated) affiliate program, Vividcash, – but it’s all kind of half-assed.

Digital Playground, for as technologically sophisticated they are, isn’t doing all that much better in terms of online presence. Both Vivid and DP are still primarily playing in the brick and mortar market and that’s just not where the money is now. They say so themselves. But I digress…

GOOD PORN, BAD PORN

They threw in the obligatory “porn is an addiction, and here’s a guy who struggled with it”– segment which I think just gets a laugh these days. (Hey buddy, Ben and Jerry’s ic cream is addicting too. Guess what, nobody forces you to eat it.)

A short segment on Max Hardcore’s prison sentence, and a nod in the direction of the Department of Justice and the legal status of pornography in the United States rounded up the anti-porn portion of the show. Good, because I don’t think most consumers have a problem with porn these days.

Actually – I know they don’t. I live and breathe this industry every day and see the numbers, read the forums, and study the consumer and trends. Yep, porn’s not a big deal anymore. And that’s both good and bad.

“We” are everywhere now. “We” now sell cheap site memberships, pay-per-view minutes – and allow thieves to upload our stuff to the tube sites so everybody can have our stuff for free, and we don’t do shit about it.

“We” shot ourselves in the foot. But it’s all a matter of adapting to the changes, be they brought on by us or someone else. This time the music industry seems to actually be adapting faster than we are. But wait, big things are coming…

POWER GIRLS

I was happy to see CNBC mention and show a little bit of some folks who I think are rocking the industry right now, like Joanna Angel; and Sasha Grey, who just did the mainstream movie The Girlfriend Experience with director Steven Soderbergh;

Joanna Angel, and Belladonna, in particular, have been impressing me a lot lately. Those girls are a huge force in the industry. Where Jenna Jameson was one of the first leading ladies to really bring porn to mainstream, Joanna and Bella, among others, have been taking this to a whole ‘nother level.

The fact that women like Samantha Lewis and Joy King are in the ruling class of the adult industry (and there are many, many more) is a great silencer for those who still think the adult industry exploits women and is ran by sleazy old guys in bath robes. (Hi Hef. Fuck you, Sir.)

TABOO? Phhht…

It was stressed how porn, once a taboo subject, is now pretty much talked about and seen anywhere, all the time. This, of course, is a big reason profits are down – stuff just sells at a much higher markup if it is hard to come by. The days when you had to walk into a porn store and fork over fifty bucks for a VHS tape are over.

Porn houseBIG PRODUCTIONS

It was amusing to watch the show and see a bunch of girls I’ve worked with in the past. I even recognized some of the shooting locations I’ve been to. Like the one in the screenshot to the left here – I swear, I shot there more times than I can count. House on a hill. One story. Pool in the back. Owner has a thick accent and makes an amazing espresso. Good times.

When they talked about “Max Hardcore and his girlfriend” I knew they were talking about Layla Rivera, who I shot way back for Aziani. Super sweet girl. Didn’t know she was Max Hardcore’s girl until after the shoot.

Porn: Business of Pleasure showcased Digital Playground quite a bit, and went into some detail about its Pirates movies (the most expensive adult productions ever made…so far.). I enjoyed watching little snippets of video guys hauling RED cameras around, and wielding boom microphones. Of course the majority of porn isn’t shot with expensive pro gear like the RED ONE, or even just boom mics.

Watching these cut-ins could let someone to believe that all porn productions require big money, which of course is not true. But it was fun to watch nevertheless.

(Reminds me- I wanted to get myself a RED ONE. Still holding out for the Scarlet series though.)

WHAT’S MISSING

Of course there was a lot that wasn’t covered. I didn’t expect this to be all-inclusive show about everything related to the industry though. But there was practically nothing about the incredibly huge Amateur or Pro-Am part of the industry. More understandably, there was no profiling of the technology or marketing side of online porn (yes, what I do), which is a big part of it.

Our arch enemies, the tube sites, got plenty of honorable mention though. Not in an entirely positive light but also not nearly as honest as I would have liked. They are, after all, one major reason a lot of adult outfits are now struggling, or have already gone completely out of business. (And don’t tell me they don’t – I work with people affected by them every day.)

I would have loved to have seen something on people like Buzz and Rachel from Aziani /RachelAziani.com (of course), Rob from FTV Girls, or the folks behind Nubiles or Lightspeed because these folks have had quite some impact on the online adult industry over the past few years. But they’re usually playing under the radar and are pretty quiet about their influence so it’s not a big surprise they didn’t get mentioned on the show. Besides, the big California porn studios that still make DVDs are just so much cooler to profile on TV, right?

If you missed CNBC’s Porn: Business of Pleasure, check out a summary and some additional stuff about some of the peeps profiled on CNBC’s web site.

Comments Off on New Wacom Intuos 4 Tablet has Cool Features

Corey Barker and RC from Layers TV ( of Layers Magazine, which rocks by the way) are talking about the new Wacom Intuos 4 professional pen tablet.

Usually I don’t get too excited about tablets because I don’t use them a lot on a day to day basis. And when I do it’s not very fun for me as a lefty because all the pro tablets used to be made for right-handed folks – buttons and cables get in the way all the time. But Wacom created the new Intuos 4 with lefties in mind. Check out the video for the deets, including lots of other really cool stuff you can do with the Intuos 4.

After Corey’s feature demo of the tablet, RC follows with a short and sweet Photoshop layout tip. Both are worth your time. (If the video below doesn’t play, check it out here)

By the way, you’ll want to check out the Photoshop tutorials on Layers Magazine, especially Corey Barker’s amazing tricks.

Comments Off on Camshake Auto Smoothing; Shooting Tips

Adobe and the University of Wisconsin are working on a potentially very useful tool that turns shaky handheld footage into more professional looking, smooth, steady looking stuff people will actually want to watch.

While not expected to be complete until about 2 years from now, I think this could be quite useful, and not just for amateur videographers. Even in pro and semi pro shooting scenarios, without a physical stabilization device such as a SteadiCam or similar, sometimes even the most steady hand produces less than smooth video footage.

Here is the full article about this software.

Camcorder Shakiness

In particular those small consumer camcorders are difficult to keep steady. The smaller and lighter a camcorder, the more shake will be translated to the end footage. Even stabilization systems can only do so and so much.

While shake can add to the realism, a lot of times footage just looks better when the viewer’s eyes and brain doesn’t have to compensate for jerky movement.

Also, and this is something that’s often forgotten when one discusses the pros and cons of image stabilization, video encoders will usually provide a better result with smooth and steady footage than with shaky footage. This is why encoding a talking head filmed with a tripod can be encoded with a much lower bitrate setting than, for example, a scene with trees and leaves that are moved by the wind, shot with a handheld camcorder.

(Of course another, even more important factor for this is the amount of “information” in the image: the more detail in the frame, the more bitrate you need. On set I get rid of anything that has a lot of fine lines or lots of detail, like bed sheets with stripes, or pillows with intricate flower patterns.)

Comments Off on Don’t Be Stupid – 15 Tips for Shooting Better Porn

Shooting Tip: don't cut to the male talent's face during the pop shotToday in my Don’t Be Stupid! series I’ll list 10 annoying and something downright stupid things we see done over and over again in porn productions. I’ve done almost all of these things myself but over the years I’ve learned (and am still learning) things that work and things that do not. Remembering and following this list will make you a better content shooter and/or editor, and provide your viewers with a much more satisfying experience.

I’ll list my gripes in a Do’s and Don’ts type list. As usual, I’m not beating around the bush and use frank language.

1 ) Do not cut to the male talent’s face when he’s cumming (see screen shot), or, really, anytime unless you absolutely must do so as a cutaway. When your viewer is jerking off the last thing he wants to see is the dude’s mug. For some reason this is especially common in European productions. Well, stop it!  It’s all about the girl. Always.

2 ) Do not show the guy beating off on the girls’ face for five minutes before he can pop. Spend some time browsing forums or anywhere else, adult consumers exchange their likes and dislikes and this is one of the top things people hate.  It’s anti-climatic and just not hot, unless your viewer is into guys. Go straight from sex/bj/whatever to the cumshot. No self-stroking. Ideally have the girl finish off the guy. If your stunt cock needs to stroke himself before he can perform the pop shot, don’t include that in your final edit. Or at the very least have the girl suck his balls at the same time – just have her be involved somehow.

3 ) Do plan your shoot before you start recording. If you have to use a bunch of transitions because you didn’t plan your blocking, or forgot to direct the talent prior to hitting the record button, do yourself and your viewers a favor and practice being a pro before you waste everyone’s time on set or the edit suite.

4 ) Editors: mind the overall rhythm and continuity when you’re editing. If you do multi angle shoots and switch from, say, a wide angle shot to a closeup, cut so that it flows seamlessly. Always using cross dissolves for angle changes is for lazy editors, amateurs, and those who are guilty of #3 on this list.

5 ) Learn to white balance. This should really be number one on this list. This seriously can make the difference between a mediocre and a great looking picture. Don’t just learn basic “balance to white”, learn what other things you can do with this important function. It’s amazing.

Hint 1: expose / light / white balance for the girl’s skin, not the male talent or (god forbid!) the furniture.

Hint 2: light blue-ish source. You can thank me later for this one.

6 ) Do control your set. Don’t permit anyone (make up artists, drivers, whoever) to walk around or make noise while you are shooting. If at all possible, control the light sources on set. Bring mobile drapes or window covers if you have to. Turn off fans and air conditioners if at all possible. Disconnect phones, shut off cell phones. CONTROL. YOUR. SET.

7 ) Do focus on the female performer (if you’re shooting straight footage), not the stunt cock, not the furniture, not how clever you are, not what’s for lunch, not how bored you are, not when House is on next. Professionals realize that the girl and her performance are what make or break the shoot. The male talent might be a funny wisecrack but nobody gives a damn about that when they’re jerking off. (Really, it’s the male talent who’s “objectified” in our industry, but that’s for another time). This is porn, not a buddy bash and not a time to be absent minded. FOCUS.

8 ) Do learn to handle your camera properly. If you can’t hold the damn thing steady while you’re moving or getting down to your knees, either practice or get a Steadycam-type device. If all else fails, see if you can fix extensive shakes in post. Excessive shakiness is for amateurs and drunks. You’re (hopefully) neither.

9 ) Do turn off auto white balance. See #5

10 ) Don’t shoot for your ego. If your only goal is to be the next John Stagliano, Jules Jordan, or Raul Cristian, instead of focusing on making the most enticing, sexiest…SELLABLE footage possible for your viewers, this biz might not be for you. Most everybody wants to be a superstar, including directors and shooters. But put your ego on a shelf while you’re shooting, it’ll help you get footage that’s a lot more “in the moment”.

11 ) Do shoot additional footage you can include in trailers, teasers, or promo clips. Be creative here.

12 ) Do learn to use natural light, but also learn proper traditional lighting. And not just how to properly light your subject. Among other things, learn to not cast shadows on your talent while you’re shooting. Learn to have the penetration shots properly lit instead of losing them in shadows. Learn how to move around on set without casting shadows or hiding or revealing light sources. There is no shame in standing way back and zooming in in order to not disturb the set.

13 ) Do practice before going on location. It’s okay – no, essential – to learn your gear and your craft before you set foot on set. Think of musicians – they don’t practice on stage, do they? They do that before the concert. Once the lights are on it’s showtime. Showtime is not practice time.

14 ) Don’t think amateur porn isn’t a “threat” to you. There has never been as much amateur porn as today and the numbers are growing. Worse yet, amateurs are getting better and better, and video and photo gear is improving while price points are dropping. Some amateur stuff is downright great. And often it’s available for free, be it because its stolen and posted on tube sites, or because the creators just don’t care about the money and just want to be “pornstars” for a while.

Either be better than them or join their ranks. There is no shame in the latter, regardless of what stigma “amateur porn” might have in your mind right now. But if you want to be a pro or glam shooter then you’ll want to hone your skills. Research what consumers will actually pay for. Calling yourself a pro and doing what any college kid with a consumer camcorder can do is pathetic, and a sure way for you to be treated as such. If you’re too lazy to learn new skills or shoot what would earn you a living, or you simply find that making and selling amateur porn is more profitable to you than going for the whole “pro” thing, it’s okay to shoot and sell amateur porn. Just don’t expect to be hired by Playboy or start the next FTV Girls.

15 ) Don’t think you can’t learn new skills. Don’t think you’re too dumb or too old or too busy to learn a new NLE, or Photoshop, or lighting skills. If you can breathe on your own and can read this, you’re just fine.

Now go and conquer. And don’t be stupid.

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