July 23, 2007

Digital Hotcakes High Definition Series
Mountain Majesty HD $69.95
Shining Sea HD $69.95

Digital Hotcakes

Review by Steve Douglas

Not too long ago I received an email from a reader interested in the Digital Hotcakes footage and animations from TriLab Productions, a footage and animation company that has been on the block for quite some time. I had forgotten that I had reviewed their Home Movie Essentials DVD back in August, 06 and in an attempt at being responsive to this reader requested a couple of their high definition footage collections which were sent to me post haste.

Generally, footage and animation houses can be very expensive. They do save time and, thus, money, as opposed to getting to similar destinations and shooting the same scenes yourself or working at creating animations in Motion or After Effects. However, with the Digital Hotcakes collections, money is not going to be the issue, as their footage collections are not going to break anyone's bank and present a most reasonable price alternative.

Each collection, 'Shining Sea' and Mountains Majesty taken from the Digital Hotcakes 'Worship' series is shot in Sony HDCAM 1080i and includes both 1280x720 Progressive Scan WMV and QuickTime HD formats at 29.97 FPC as well as still bmp reference shots for easy research and preview. The 'Shining Sea' disc contains 20 loopable HD video clips ranging from 10 to 60 seconds while the 'Mountains Majesty' collection's clips range from 10 to 30 seconds and both collections. Like the rest of the Digital Hotcakes library, these sets are compatible with both PCs and Macs.

When looking at these clips, I was reminded of the many B-roll shots in both movies and T.V., which many people, including myself, often take for granted. The work and artistry that go into shooting that beautiful mountain vista or the sunset over the ocean that precedes the film star's entrance, the peaceful shot of the flowers by the lake that serves as the story's denouement often goes unnoticed. What a shame as there is much to be learned by studying the filming technique and skills of others. So, while the clips in both of these collections may have a myriad number of uses for a great many projects, they can also serve as a great study guide for shooting your own settings.

A Cape Cod lighthouse from the Shining Seas collection displays the excellent color and image resolution characteristic of quality of both collections.

I've said it before in previous footage and animation reviews that it is too bad that you can only see individual frames here rather than the full clips. Never the less, each clips is gorgeously composed and framed. I was surprised at the diversity of clips in each collection. Thinking the Mountains collection would consist of lots of rocky, snowy mountain shots, I was pleased with the excellent mix of the 'types' of shots. Not only are there snowy mountain clips but also clips of wildflowers by a mountain lake, the Grand Canyon, sunsets of different hues, the fog permeating the forests of the Smoky Mountains, waterfalls, storm clouds and more.


Each clip carries with it a different thematic goal whether it is the awe of the sunrise, the mystery of a rolling fog, or the solitude of the grassy knoll.

The 'Shining Sea' disc was just as varied in its offerings with cliff views over the water, an excellent point of view shot down low of ocean pebbles, sunsets over the ocean, riversides and beach pans. Each clip retains its pristine resolution while the lighting and mood changes from clip to clip.


There are any number of uses for these excellently produced clips.

Using the clips is a simple matter of dragging them from the disc to your designated folder and importing them into Final Cut Studio's project sequence. While both the Mountains Majesty and Shining Sea discs serve as volumes 11 and 12 of the Digital Hotcakes 'Worship' series, do not think that there are religious icons or overtones to any of the clips contained in the collections. While they certainly could be used in a spiritual manner, they would serve well in many more sequence situations.

The bottom line is that you get a big bang for the buck with either collection from Digital Hotcakes. The cost is surprisingly low and the quality is topnotch. When time is money, you can save on both with these very affordable royalty-free footage collections.

Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, and a recent History channel MegaDisaster show. Steve is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Kenya & Lembeh Straits in Indonesia in 2007, the Coco Islands, Costa Rica & Truk Lagoon in 2008 and safari in Africa for 2009. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips. www.worldfilmsandtravel.com


copyright © Steve Douglas 2007

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