Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The goal of the modern workspace is essentially to encourage productivity

By keeping employees comfortable and happy—but what exactly does an employee need to keep a balance between serious work, creative thinking, and comfort? Do you put a slide in the middle of the room and call it a day?

KAYAK just opened their newest office the former East of Berlin, just steps away from the longest remaining stretch of the Wall. An online travel source started in 2004 by the co-founders of Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz, KAYAK has moved far past its humble beginnings in Stamford, Connecticut: the company now boasts offices in six international cities, each housed in a space selected with a design vision in mind, and this newest space is no different. Located in a former post office, the surrounding neighbourhood was one of the city's most important junctions in its heyday—and in typical Berlin fashion, the staircase still sports graffiti from visitors past.

KAYAK has made strides since landing in Berlin. Growing from a local staff of a few freelancers to a team in need of a large workspace, the company wanted to create an atmosphere that balanced a strong design sensibility with a productive, yet comfortable office. Bright and airy, with huge cathedral windows that offer views onto the trains rumbling by, KAYAK's office is a loft-space dream. Although the office appears, at first glance, to look like a typical open-plan office, with conference room partitioned in plate glass, original iron detailing, and dark-stained plank floors, it's easy to see where KAYAK's work and design strategy differs from other companies. Comfort is productive, and working in tandem with a team of MONOQI design scouts, the space has been outfitted with a careful balance of contemporary warmth and functional design pieces to create a comfortably charged working environment.

The day MONOQI visited, the space was bursting with KAYAK employees from all over the world, gathered in Berlin to celebrate the office's official launch. Bustling noise accompanied the slip and slide of socks on the dark wooden floors, and the two office dogs ran in cheerful circles sneaking treats from anyone who happened to have food. With regional, organic catered lunches regularly on offer, the mood in the company's cosy open kitchen is familial, as everyone jostles to find a place on the We do Wood dining chairs around the table. The open kitchen flows into the office space organically, and it's easy to imagine the impromptu meals and strategizing sessions bound to take place.

Beyond clusters of desks and conference rooms, the office has a few other tricks up its sleeve: the rec room, designed with both mid-day deliberation and post-work relaxation in mind, is furnished with leather chairs and a white marble table by OX Design, which holds a phone for comfortable conference calls. A plush carpet enhances the space, allowing the room to act both as a small refuge and an ideal spot for one-on-one meetings—and the addition of a small bar is in the works, for the odd Friday evening celebration.

And for those moments when a bit of a midday break is needed, there is a playroom. Although it's not quite set up yet, the humongous Sitzfeldt sofa already looks inviting, and in time, an Xbox and Wii will join the fire-engine red drum kit. The space is intended to stimulate KAYAK employees, lending itself to more immediate and casual interactions between colleagues. It functions as a sanctuary where employees can come to take a moment, breathe and return to work refreshed.
The contrived gimmicks of early start-up days, the slides, ping pong tables and beanbags, don't carry a lot of meaning any more. Instead, company culture is what fuels employees and ideas. Having a playroom or office dog may enhance the atmosphere, but it doesn't change the reality of work, but an environment in which hard work is fostered and appreciated that gives equal importance to down time and a community spirit should be the backbone of any modern workspace. A balance KAYAK has definitely achieved.

Most adventures begin with a question

Stan Engelbrecht, a 36-year-old South African Afrikaans accent and the tattooed words "Je Comprends" (I understand) on the right forearm, wanted to know what it is about the complicated history of South Africa to be.

South Africa is a country motorists. Unlike in most countries, bicycles are a rarity here. The reasons for this are to be found in the apartheid history of the country. "Five years ago, I'm a whole week went by Cape Town without seeing even one cyclist, and if I Just have a look now, I would call the most, Hey you, come over here! '" As Stan and Nic Grobler met, they wondered why bikes were so unpopular despite the ill-developed transportation network. They decided to photograph all cyclists and to interview, who would meet them in the future.

This idea has become routine. After they had collected 40 interviews, Stan and Nic started via a Kickstarter fundraising campaign. The fundraiser was the starting point for an adventure, during which both more than 10 000 kilometers laid. Result of this journey is a book project that pursues the one hand, the question of why bikes in South Africa have such a hard time and on the other hand a well documented existing in miniature bicycle culture. Engelbrecht said: "The whites always drove cars and had enough money to buy their children what. Having to ride a bike to school, did the same for white children a punishment. Although bicycles were in the late sixties popular, but no white man would voluntarily it is set to one, because that was something that only blacks do '. So cycling marked a political difference. With the end of apartheid, black South Africans also be claimed for himself what had always been a matter of course for their white compatriots: the possession of a car. In the eyes of the black population cycling is now considered something that only poor people do. They would rather walk than to ride a bike. "

Within two years, Stan and Nic photographed almost all the cyclists who came before them the lens. Overall, a third of the 500 portraits has been divided into three volumes published under the title Bicycle Portraits, along with short interviews of those portrayed. "Cyclists to fall, because there are hardly any. People stare, point the finger and laugh. Evil meant is not that the people are just amazed and respond to a "says Engelbrecht.

Following the publication of Bicycle Portraits Stan and Nic were invited to participate in South Africa at a Ted Conference. Some of the sitters, who had previously never met, they flew one even. "There was this young black fixie hipsters. He met a 83-year-old British-South African election, which had spent all her life in Johannesburg and still drove every day by bicycle. They have compared their scars with each other! If a 83-year-old woman and a 27-year-old young man can talk to each other at eye level, then that's a great thing. "

Although South Africa is still the most dynamic economy in the African continent. But the wounds of the past are far from healing. The fact that many people attach still old prejudices, Engelbrecht moved to continue fighting.

"I can only hope that the book has anything causes. As a pioneer I would not see me anyway. But I am confident. I just renovated my house, and does all the errands by bike. Bicycles offer many possibilities, and, moreover, they are fast. Moreover, bicycling is good for body and soul - well, what the people say so be it. May sound like a cliché, but is so. "

Monday, December 15, 2014

Driving sequences involving cars were shot onstage in Sweden

Using what Cronenweth and gaffer Harold Skinner laughingly describe as “Rich-Man’s Process.” Skinner explains, “It was your typical greenscreen stage, but we built this rig with LED media panels around the car so that we could play QuickTime movies of the background plates through the panels and project the reflections and interactive light directly from the background plates onto the car and the actors. The LED panels were 3 feet high by 14 feet long on both sides of the car, and we added another for the back and front windows.

Using this system, we got real interactive lighting from the actual background plates, so it feels much more authentic.” To reduce spill and reflections from the greenscreen, Skinner hung Duvetyn on curtain tracks so he could mask off any area of green that wasn’t directly behind the actors. One pivotal scene that was reshot because of script changes shows young Harriet outside a cottage and boathouse on a waterfront Vanger property. The scene was originally shot on location in Stockholm, but when the filmmakers returned for reshoots, they discovered the property had new owners who had torn down both buildings. In addition, a winter storm had killed two large trees that helped make the location unique.

Fincher and production designer Donald Graham Burt decided to reconstruct the cottage onstage at Paramount Studios and the boathouse and dock at Red’s studio. “It was a huge set, and I wasn’t really sure how to approach it,” confesses Cronenweth. “There were some practical lights on the dock that gave us a base look, especially when we added atmosphere. We decided to use a single 2K out from the cabin to the water and hillside — we hung blacks and added some sky augmentation in post — and it was perfect.”
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We slipped a bare 2K globe inside a Big Eye 10K housing with no lens, just to protect the globe and create a very large open-face source,” says Skinner. “The dock lights were all clear 25-watt practical globes, so we added some 14 CTO to the 2K to match their warmth. We augmented with a single 1K Baby Fresnel to help when we were doing turnarounds and the 2K got a little too garish and flat, but that was it.
It’s very simply lit and very beautiful.”
A night scene that shows Salander meeting Blomkvist at his Stockholm apartment required a massive shot that encompassed several blocks of cobblestone streets. “It’s an old part of Stockholm on this grand hill, and David wanted the coverage to encompass all four directions at night for about two blocks,” recalls
Cronenweth. “In and of itself, that’s not such a bad thing, but in April in Sweden, you only have four hours of darkness! So the challenge was to light two blocks in each direction and have the ability to quickly do turnarounds, to move into any direction and switch our backlight and whatever keys we had on the fly. Our rigging crew spent an entire night setting it up.”

We had eight construction cranes, four generators and 20 electricians, and the special-effects team was

making snow at the same time — it was quite the expansive setup,” adds Skinner. “In the end, we got it in our four hours, and everything worked fantastically,” says Cronenweth. “David’s final establishing shot was done just as the sky was starting to change colors, but we got it in under the wire.” 

The biting cold of winter gave rise to one of the production’s few equipment

The low temps caused some of the floating elements in the Arri/Zeiss Master Primes to misalign, so the lens’s witness marks were off. “The Master Primes have seven floating elements, and in extreme temperatures that can create obstacles,” says Cronenweth. “The first assistants ended up having to pull focus more off of monitors, by eye. They’re phenomenal lenses, and I would definitely use them again; they probably held up as well as any equipment does in that kind of environment. But it’s something to be aware of when you’re working in extreme weather conditions.”

Some of the movie’s large exterior setups posed other challenges.Salander’s main mode of transportation
is her motorcycle, and she is not a timid driver. Many sequences show her zipping around dangerously icy roads, and Cronenweth had to tackle one of these scenes, a 5-mile run through a forest at night, on his second day on set. “I thought, ‘How are we gonna do this?!’” he recalls. “We ended up tackling it very simply, actually, and it looks quite believable. We used an insert car to either chase or lead the motorcycle. When we were chasing her, we simply increased the strength of the headlight on her motorcycle by adding some headlight fixtures with quartz globes and wide-angle lenses so the light would fan out and hit the trees in front of her on both sides of the road “We then put a small bounce on the front of the camera car, about 2 stops underexposed, to get some detail on her and the motorcycle.
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Lastly, we used narrow-beam HMIs to softly project ahead of and above her to illuminate the forest. When we were leading her, we used the same bounce idea on the truck and the same narrow HMIs, and let the

motorcycle’s headlight bounce and light her with just soft return.” Making night exteriors like this even tougher was the moisture from nearby bodies of water, which created mist that often froze to the lenses on moving shots. The filmmakers used standard rain spinners to keep moisture off the lenses, but the mist would freeze on the spinners and transform them into rotating diffusion filters. To combat this, the camera assistants mounted hair dryers below the spinners and kept a constant flow of warm air on the spinning blades.

In keeping with Fincher’s preference for keeping the technical footprint

As small as possible on the set, Dragon Tattoo didn’t have a digital-imaging technician. “I don’t believe in tweaking on set,” says the director. “Why would I want a tent and more people around? That’s anathema to me.” Instead, just as they did on Social Network, Fincher and Cronenweth set one look-up table at the beginning of the shoot and didn’t change it. “Originally we thought we might have one LUT for every location, but that got confusing,” notes Cronenweth.

Our approach is similar to using just one film stock. If we change anything, it’s the color of the light or the filter instead of chasing LUTs. It makes things faster and easier.” The Red One is known for having higher sensitivity in the blue spectrum, and the filmmakers used an 80D filter on the lens most of the time. “Although Sweden has a cool, desaturated palette in winter, we used the 80D to raise the color temperature about 400°K, which gave a little more blue light to the sensor and gave us more latitude
to work with later,” says Cronenweth.
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The production shot primarily on the locations described in Larsson’s novel. “The notion of these horrors,
these particularly evil doings, taking place in an environment that’s icy, snowy and somewhat inhospitable just seemed right to me,” says Fincher. “I couldn’t see setting the story anywhere else. In Northern Europe, you’re cut off from the rest of the world a good portion of the year in a very unique place. The people are hearty, and the winters are very hard. I’m happy we didn’t transpose the story to Seattle or
Montreal or, worse, play Montreal for Sweden.”

However, the unique properties of natural light at that latitude presented some challenges. At summer’s peak,Stockholm experiences 19 hours of daylight, and at winter’s peak, just six hours. Moreover, the winter sun barely makes it off the horizon, even at “high noon,” and the summer sun typically reaches a point about 54 degrees off the horizon at the height of the day. “There’s a reason why Sven Nykvist’s movies look like they do!” Fincher notes with a laugh, referring to the late ASC cinematographer who was

famous for his collaborations with fellow Swede Ingmar Bergman.

Girl with Dragon Tattoo part two

By the time they wrapped, RedRocket could handle the Epic footage, and Spider-Man had made a huge number of cards available, so we shot the last 20 percent of Dragon Tattoo with the Epic. “We made sure not to switch cameras within a sequence,” he continues. “Although the Epic has a lot more resolution and slightly different color range than the One, the color is close enough that we were confident all our footage would match.” Indeed, at press time the digital grade was underway at Light Iron with colorist Ian Vertovec (The Social Network), and Cronenweth reports that “matching between the two cameras has
been as seamless as anticipated. We’re working with a Quantel Pablo 4K color-correction system and a Sony 4K projector in a theater-type setting. We’re basically just fine-tuning the original footage as captured on set, making some subtle adjustments to better match shot-to-shot within a scene, and doing
some repositioning.”

The filmmakers found one of the Epic’s most significant advantages to be its HDRx function, a simulated high dynamic range mode that enables a secondary, darker track of video to be recorded, allowing for 1-5 stops of selectable highlight bracketing via the secondary, faster-shutter exposure track. “We used that to get about 3 more stops of latitude,” says Cronenweth. “It records on a separate track that’s a frame off, and you then use software to sync it back. It really fills up the data cards by doubling the recorded information, but for certain situations it’s invaluable.

We also like the fact that the Epic is smaller and lighter than the One and doesn’t have that camera’s quirks,” continues the cinematographer. “In addition, you can overcrank up to 96 fps and stay in 5K [resolution]. David also likes to have the option of manipulating the final composition or stabilizing the image, and with the Epic we had 5K to work with. We utilized the extra resolution to create our own frame lines, smaller than what you get using the entire sensor. Actually, we did that with both the One and the Epic, allowing room for repositioning shots. For example, if an operator clipped an eyebrow on a tilt up, we had plenty of space to correct the composition. We also used the extra space created by the extra
resolution to help stabilize many shots, including all the driving footage we shot in Stockholm. The Epic gives you much more information than you actually need, and that gives you more flexibility.”

I like the picture the Red gives me, the way it feels,” says Fincher. “Ultimately, that’s what people are talking about when they say they prefer one format over another. When people speak fondly of the anamorphic lenses from the 1970s, they’re talking about the feeling they get from that certain kind of
image. I like the Red One MX a lot — in fact, I wish we hadn’t switched to the Epic at the end of our shoot. There’s nothing wrong with the Epic, but I sort of like the graininess of the MX [image]. It’s an aesthetic choice, not a technical one.”

From Fincher’s perspective,perhaps the biggest advantage of the Red is its size. “Because it’s small, I feel like the filmmaking process itself becomes sort of intimate,” he says. “Filmmaking is a small circus — that’s the nature of the beast — but I prefer to keep it as intimate as possible. When the mechanics become too consuming, it’s too easy to get distracted from the real reason we’re there: to capture the
actors’ performances. When the gear gets too big, I feel like there’s a wall between my cast and me, and it’s hard to get around it to talk to them. I really prefer to have that relationship, that connection, be immediate. How we shoot, where we shoot and what we shoot with all play a role in finessing that relationship.”
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Shooting with two cameras simultaneously and having the cinematographer operate the B camera are
usually part of the plan. “David has almost always worked that way,” says Cronenweth. “I was the B-camera operator on Fight Club and Social Network, and Claudio [Miranda] was the Bcamera operator on Benjamin Button.

Fincher explains, “I try as much as possible to put that second camera in a place where it will get me another setup that I actually need — I’m never just looking for gravy. It can be frustrating for my cinematographer and tough for lighting, but I’m going to challenge him to bring that second camera as far

around as possible, to not just stack [the cameras] and get a medium and close at the same time. I’m going to shoot a pretty wide and fairly disparate view. If I can, I’ll do opposing coverage, 180 degrees. That does make lighting tough,but sometimes getting those performances simultaneously is what’s best for the movie.”

Cronenweth was with the production for more than 150 days

And because of script changes, he ended up reshooting several of the sequences that had been filmed during the first week. The ambitious production involved locations in Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and England and stage work in Los Angeles. (Some minor process work was shot onstage in Stockholm.) “We started in Stockholm, and then we spent two weeks in Zurich before the Christmas break, and then I went back to Los Angeles and started prelighting stages,” recalls Cronenweth.

After our holiday break, we shot for about three months onstage in L.A. During that time, David and I planned the next phase of the shoot, and I got the same prep time as everyone else before heading off to England for three and a half weeks, and then back to Sweden. “Overall, the weather in Northern Europe made for the biggest challenge,” he adds. “We experienced severe winter storms as well as a very hot summer in Sweden. The cold was the hardest, though.”
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Fincher had used digital capture on his previous three features, Zodiac (shot by Harris Savides, ASC), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (shot by Claudio Miranda, ASC) and The Social Network (shot by
Cronenweth), and he decided to do the same on Dragon Tattoo, selecting Red Ones upgraded with the Mysterium-X sensor. Red’s new Epic was just becoming available, but using it as the main camera posed.

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too many problems when the shoot began, according to Cronenweth. “At first we had a hard time getting cards for the Epic,” he recalls. “In addition, at that time, all Epic footage had to be sent directly to Red for transcoding before it could be sent to editorial, and we just weren’t comfortable with that. But John Schwartzman [ASC] was working with the Epic on The Amazing Spider-Man and helping to pave the way.