Meet Todd McMullen
COW Leaders : Todd McMullenCreative COW Forum Host
I have been very fortunate to work in the film business as a camera assistant and now as a motion picture camera operator and Director of Photography. I have worked and learned from some of the greatest cameramen in the world. Conrad Hall, Michael Ballhaus, Bob Richardson, Lloyd Ahern, David Tattersal and many others. Choosing to work my way up through the ranks, I felt that would give me longevity in the business and the fundamental experience of doing each job in the camera department. I also kept busy between film jobs by shooting documentaries, educational, and corporate videos.
When I started in the mid 80s, video and film were two separate worlds. There was not much crossover. In 1994 I had my first experience with using video in a motion picture. I was a second assistant on a Walter Hill film called Wild Bill. Walter wanted to incorporate some abstract black and white images into the film portraying Bills flashbacks. S-VHS was chosen and the DP, Lloyd Ahern, gave me one of the two Panasonic cameras to take home and shoot with, so I could help the camera department with the technical aspects of shooting video. I believe I tweaked some of the detail out and showed overexposed footage. It turned out just what Walter Hill wanted because it had a grainy, blown out, contrast look to it. It also helped that a lot of the scenes where shot in snow. Sometimes in a complete whiteout. It is also interesting to note that on that film, editorial wanted the camera department to take the video and play it on a TV, and then film the TV with film cameras to make the video available for film dailies. That lasted for one day. The cost and time it took to film the video on the camera truck was way beyond comprehension. I think that we felt if the producers saw the transferred footage from a TV screen they would either fire us or give us a raise, either way we didn't want the headache. Thank technology for modern day tele-cine. Since that time I have used video in over a dozen movie and television projects. My early years in video have definitely paid off in film.
In 1990 I began shooting a documentary on the Grateful Dead and the Deadheads. We decided to shoot on BetaSP. We began editing our 100 plus hours of footage on a 3/4 linear system. Wrong. Six solid cuts a day were painstaking. I had been following the development of non-linear systems over the years but could not justify the expenditure. Then in 1994, I decided to buy a Media 100 system. I believe the version was 1.2. It was relatively inexpensive and had a great image quality. At the time Avid was well over $100,000. From there I sank into the world of non-linear editing and digital video production.
I currently have in my project studio, a Media 100 system, version 8.2, Final Cut Pro 3.04, DVD Studio Pro 2, and a host of other video and audio software and hardware. When I am not working as a camera operator I edit documentaries, commercials, and show reels. I also have a number of clients who I have developed DVD titles for. My greatest hope for the digital revolution is less cables, smaller batteries and zero- reality television.
When I am not working you can find me on my Harley-Davidson Road King or doing gardening at my home in Venice, California. Wait a minute. Don't they have computer software for gardening?
You can find Todd McMullen hosting in Creative COW's and Cinematography Forum.
Articles by Todd McMullen