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East is East, but West Can Be Best

Headin' West with ARTBEATS By Douglas Spotted Eagle
Howdy pardner's!

OK, so it's seems silly to have a review of a stock footage library, but since we don't have hurricanes in the West, this new stock footage library from ARTBEATS might just be the ticket to reminding folks in the bigger eastern cities of those "City Slicker" scenes. (or perhaps places they'd rather be when those cold winds and wet weather start howling in the next weeks...

I live in the west. In the HEART of the west. And so I was skeptical when ARTBEATS told me they had a library of the American West. I pictured a bunch of drugstore cowboys with their Levis on (real cowboys wear Wranglers) and their Tony Llama boots. (real cowboys only wear Justins)

Real cowboys wear Wranglers

Not one fancy stitch of that Hollywood image is found in this well produced library. All of the "people" shots are either very true to what's happening in the west today, or true to what the west was like.

On the livestock side, there are buffalo, moose, beavers swimming with branches, elk (cows and bulls) grazing in the meadows, eagles flying with fish in their talons, and wolves in the morning mists.

More exciting for me are the people shots. Real cowboys on a real ranch doing the real thing. Moving cows. There is a pretty sweet fight between bulls in this library as these 1600 lb behemoths butt heads and lock horns. There are old world shots of farmers plowing their fields with horse-drawn plows, and cowboys buckin' hay in the winter fields from the back of a sleigh. Yes, it's still done this way in northern Utah, southern Wyoming, and southern Idaho.

More to the value of the library are some stunning shots of the Taos Pueblo, which are expensive and hard to access, due to tribal filming restrictions, and to top them off, there is a Native American model wearing a beaded war shirt on the back of a painted war horse, without all the trappings of some Hollywood fantasy about what a warrior should look like. This guy looks nothing like the image Ricardo Montalban played in "Last of the Cheyenne" or worse, the part Burt Lancaster played in "Apache." This guy is the real deal, and he rides off into the sunset, providing the requisite romance shot.

Summer and winter shots are part of this library

There are also landscapes in this library, landscapes shot at those right moments in the late evening and early morning where light is stunning and plays tricks with your eyes. The shot over CamelBack in Monument Valley is the first shot I've seen in a stock library of this often missed monolith.

Sunrises through saquaros round out this library of 29 western Americana.

The American West library is from ARTBEATS V-Line Series, which means it's not shot on film like most of their libraries. These libraries are often shot on Beta SP or DVC-Pro, and then tweaked by a couple editors at ARTBEATS. I've seen what Phil and his crew can do, and there are no better folks at color correction and image processing than the team there in southern Oregon.

The files are delivered in ARTBEATS standard PJPEG format on a single DVD. I'm not used to ARTBEATS footage coming in on DVD, so like a fool, I sat here for a good 5 minutes inserting and removing my disc from the CD Rom in my desktop. I finally figured it out when I looked more closely at the disc and saw it said "DVD" on it. Sometimes it's the little things that make you feel stupid.

My favorite thing with this library, is the client we were working for was dang cheap, and wouldn't spring for the cost until they had an idea of what was coming their way.

Of course, we've got to complete this review with an obligatory "Ride off into the Sunset" shot.

So, we went to the ARTBEATS library, downloaded thumbnails, and proceeded to create a storyboard. We then took stock music from the famed Spotted Eagle library of music, (actually used my loop pieces from Hidalgo) and used it as a backdrop for a presentation of the project to the client. They liked the concept, and so the library was used to create most of the piece for the client.

Overall, this library was a great add to our stock footage collection. I do wish that there were more people in the library, it's so hard finding libraries with people images in them because images of people don't have the shelf life that images of objects and landscapes do. But this library is refreshing, very different, and artistic.

Visit the ARTBEATS website  to see more of their footage offerings. They have streaming Quicktime files of every one of their images, so you can see exactly what you're getting before hand. Moreover, you can buy individual clips if buying a whole library isn't your thing. Since you can build a storyboard from the images, and the images are named exactly the same as the clips, you can also just do a print of your storyboard EDL and order your whole commercial or project right from their website.

ARTBEATS American West library (NTSC) $249.00 29 clips

Happy Editing,


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DOUGLAS SPOTTED EAGLE, Managing Producer Douglas Spotted Eagle is an audio and video pro. He is a Grammy recipient with DuPont, Peabody, and Telly awards lining his studio; he is also a participant/producer in multiple Emmy Award winning productions.

Douglas is the Managing Producer for Sundance Media Group, Inc. and VASST, authoring several books and DVDs and serving as a trainer and consultant for videographers, software manufacturers and broadcasters. He is the author or co-author of several digital media titles including Digital Video Basics (VASST), The FullHD (VASST), and Vegas Editing Workshop (Focal Press) among many others.

Douglas is an accomplished aerial photographer who thrives in the adrenaline-filled world of fast-action videography. He remains active as a multimedia producer, trainer, and presenter, utilizing the latest technology as part of his workflow.

Related Keywords:Artbeats, DV, stock footage,


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