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Make Your Own Blockbuster

By Abner Kingman

The high-tech revolution has finally put a few dents in Hollywoods old-boy network. The critically acclaimed documentary The Cruise had its origin in ones and zeroes, and if independent films like Christopher Coppola's Bel Air are any indication, we'll be seeing a lot more digital film in years to come.

The starting point is a digital camera. Most of the "three chip" MiniDV cameras ($1,700 and up) can shoot broadcast-quality footage. Add a tripod with a video head, a high-quality microphone, some lights and a lot of practice, and you're rolling.

Instead of renting an expensive editing suite for hundreds of dollars per hour, anyone can now edit footage at home on a desktop computer. A souped-up Apple G3 or G4 is plenty to handle the job. The footage is transferred to the computer via a FireWire (IEEE 1394) with just a few clicks of the mouse. Apple's Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere have set the standard for editing software.

Like the filming itself, editing with one of these programs is easy to learn, but very difficult to master. At its most basic, it's simply a matter of watching the video on the computer screen, marking the desired clips, then dragging and dropping them onto a timeline. At its most rigorous, it's an art.

Once the editing is complete, the movie can be dumped back onto tape or posted on the Internet. There are already a few sites trying to corral independent videos for online distribution. Atomfilms (www.atomfilms.com) and Ifilms (www.ifilms.com) post movies for free, sort them by category and list viewer ratings. More are certainly on the way. And as more theaters switch to digital projection, ones and zeros are guaranteed to become the language of the cinema.

Someday soon, a teenager from East San Jose may be able to check out a camera from the local library, shoot some film, edit it back at the library, and post it on the Internet--and when word gets around, more people may watch it than Regis.

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Streamlined Living: Pare down and live simply.

Put Up Yer Dukes: Don't get mad, get even.

Cruising: Transit made simple.

Soul Relief: Free your inner self.
    Get Away Now
    Non-Profiteer
    Make Your Head Glow
    Digital Rocker

Get in on the Gold Rush: Grab a fistful of cash and join the party.

Domestic Bliss: Make your house into a home.

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From the March 16-22, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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