Thursday, September 25, 2014

Upcoming Events in New England

There's some interesting events going on in New England in the next couple of weeks:

9th Annual ITVFest Sept 26-28, Dover VT
ITVFest (the Independent Television and Film Festival) is the premier festival for showcasing, celebrating and distinguishing the world’s best independently produced television shows, web series, multimedia content and short films.

SMPTE/New England Sept 30 “Can you hear me now?” Boston, Wireless Microphone Frequency reallocation…again!
Initiatives and new regulations by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will change the radio frequency landscape...again. A few short years ago the 700 MHz band was reallocated and had to be vacated by wireless mics. Next year the 600 MHz band will be auctioned and thereafter re-purposed, posing even steeper challenges for wireless mic operators. 

MIT Hacking Arts - Oct 4th at The Media Lab in Cambridge, MA
This year's conference brings together great minds in film and entertainment from a Film/TV panel featuring leading filmmakers and film technologists from VHX, PBS/Frontline, and to a Virtual Reality panel featuring companies like Oculus, Framestore and Jaunt.

ILLUMINATION EXPERIENCE TOUR with Shane Hurlbut, ASC in Boston Thursday, Oct 9
The Illumination Experience Tour delivers an intense educational experience about the fundamentals of cinematography. Taught by Shane Hurlbut, A.S.C.—Director of Photography for 18 Hollywood films—this full-day workshop will teach you powerful principles and techniques you can immediately use in your filmmaking projects.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Response: Which iPhone to Get?

In response to my iPhone musings, I got the following reader email which actually sums up a lot of my second and third thoughts too:
You might have a point about the fancier camera, but otherwise I would buy the smaller model. Its screen is about the same size as that of my Nexus 4, and I don't feel at all like it limits me with a too-small screen. But I do sometimes stretch to get my thumb the reach to the other corner of the screen. It is plenty big for a phone.

A phone is a pocket thing. (Well, in my case it lives an ancient REI soft sunglasses case that I have on my belt.) Ubiquitous, handy, convenient, almost always with me. Small is crucial for all of that. Certainly a large screen is cool, but you need a place to put it: don't break a fundamental feature of a pocket phone by getting too big.

That is what your small tablet is for.

I have my phone with me almost always. I have my Nexus 7 tablet with me nearly as much. The bigger screen is great, yet it fits in some pockets (if I don't sit down). The Nexus 7 fits in the purse I take everywhere. When I can settle in for a moment, I don't grab my phone, I reach for my tablet.

You must have an iPad mini, right? It is a great little device, but the phablet-sized iPhone 6 Plus looks like a poor substitute, nor will it fit in your pocket. Seems a bad compromise in both directions.

But: If you are *not* someone who can put your phone in your pocket, hang it on your belt, etc., if you have to carry your phone anyway, then carrying a big phone might make sense. Frequently women don't get to wear such practical clothing as do men and have to carry their phones. In that case, a phablet-sized phone might make perfect sense. Particularly for women with big hands, and those with very long thumbs.

A final consideration: move fast and, for a time, people will oow and ah over your big iPhone 6 Plus. Kind of like bird with cumbersome plumage, it might be worth it for non-functional reasons.

I absolutely agree; a phone is a pocket thing. The thing is, I'm not sure that my iphone is really a phone any more. I haven't used it to "talk" to anyone in a couple of weeks.

And the other thing is; I don't have an iPad Mini. Maybe I should buy a Mini and the regular phone. I'll have to think about that...

The cumbersome plumage analogy also gives me pause, and I worry about the weight of vanity.  I have to make up my mind by tomorrow!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Which iPhone 6 to get?

The iPhone 6 (left) and iPhone 6 Plus schematics (right) next to an iPhone 4 (in it's case.) 
Lack of depth doesn't help with comparison!

My iPhone 4 is a bit long in the tooth, and I’d already decided I’d replace it when the new model was released, so today’s announcement was rather perfunctory for me. Except Apple has gone and released two models, one quite a bit larger than the other.

This wasn’t a total surprise as people have been rumoring a larger phone for months now. But there’s a big difference between reading rumors and an actual announced product, and even more so when it comes to sitting down and making a decision about which one to buy.

Which one should I get? I’m not sure. I think I might need to hold them in my hand to be sure. I even went so far as to print out the schematics of the phones to try and get a better idea of just how large they are.

A friend, who recently upgraded from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5, was complaining about how much larger the 5 was compared to the 4, and he didn’t like it.

Larger phones are definitely the thing right now, and I can’t say that I don’t think it would be nicer to have a larger screen given the amount of time I spend on my phone. And by “on my phone,” I mean doing non-phone related things like messaging, checking email and playing games. The amount of time I spend talking on the phone is so small that I don’t think I’m worried too much about looking like an idiot holding up huge large phone to my face to make a call.

But this large phone is seriously large; I’m not sure it will fit in many pockets comfortably. That said, I have to admit that a lot of the time I carry my phone in my hands. And I even try and leave it on my desk most of the day, so the amount of time it spends in pockets is pretty minimal.

And winter is coming soon, and the large phone should fit comfortably in my coat pockets.

And the larger phone does offer optical image stabilization over the digital stabilization in the “plain” iPhone 6.

Which means I will – probably – get the iPhone 6 Plus. I guess I have until Friday to decide.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Sony Announcement Tomorrow, AJA CION, Sandisk Sale

It's IBC week, so expect some equipment news this week.

Sony is going to announce a new camera tomorrow. Is it a FS700 replacement, enhancement, or something else? Initial rumors have been about a 4K FS700 II that will be priced about $10,000, but I was curious after seeing the teaser video that seemed to focus on web bloggers. A few very successful web bloggers might spend $10,000 on a camera, but I don't think the vast majority will. They are more likely to be thinking about a7S money. Maybe there's two cameras coming?

I was at the Mass Media Expo on Saturday and saw a presentation on the AJA CION, a $9.000 camera. The camera was supposed to ship this summer, and as they said, summer is over this month. They had no ship date, but the camera is being shown at IBC and it was suggested that there might be an announcement there.

The new Panasonic Varicam starts shipping this month, so there should be news about that too. Panasonic thinks it has a competitor to the ARRI ALEXA, so this isn't in the same price territory.

Lastly, I had a bit of a memory card disaster this weekend, which means I need to replace an old 16GB SD card. Fortunately, Amazon has a SanDisk sale today. 32GB SDHC Class 10 cards are now $14.99! while SanDisk Extreme PRO 240GB SATA 6.0Gb/s 2.5-Inch 7mm Height Solid State Drive (SSD) are $129.99.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Mass Media Expo 2014

If you're in Boston this Saturday, you might want to check out this event:

Mass Media Expo 2014
Saturday, September 6, 2014 from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM (EDT)
Boston, MA

Includes panels as well as an industry showcasing the most complete range of 50 film and media companies in Massachusetts; including top creative production & post production companies, suppliers, innovative products & organizations.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

More 4K News

Just wrote something for Filmmaker Magazine about 4K camera news for Sony and ARRI, and a couple of new things happen.

The Blackmagic Design production Camera 4K is $500 off until September 5. Does that just mean Christmas is early, or is something else going to happen next week?

Panasonic has gone and announced a $3,4999.99 4K camcorder. The HC-X1000 features a 18.47 Megapixel 1/2.3" MOS Sensor, 20x lens, built-in ND, and records in MP4, MOV or AVCHD. It will only record 4K in MP4 format.
It will be interesting to see how the quality of the video holds up.

Friday, July 18, 2014

New Toys, and Cheaper Toys

Some exciting stuff has been announced/released the last couple of months.

Of course, there’s the Sony a7S, which just started shipping and is just an unbelievable low-light, full frame monster of a small camera. It also does 4K, though not too many people are doing 4K with it just yet, what with no inexpensive 4K recording options available. It wouldn’t be my primary camera choice, but if you have the bucks, it’s an intriguing little piece of hardware.
Or you could get the Panasonic GH4, and record 4K internally. You don’t get the low-light capabilities – at all – but you do get quite good 4K internal in a small package.

A lot of people are waiting for the Atomos Shogun ($1,995) to start shipping so they can record 4K from the Sony a7S. But if you don’t have that camera, are on a budget, and would like to record HD in 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes, you might want to look at the Atomos Ninja Star. This tiny box is only $295. There’s no monitor, but as some have pointed out, it might be worth attaching to your GoPro when you send it up on your DJI Phantom.

Talking of DJI, they announced a brushless gimbal back at NAB, the DJI Ronin, 3-Axis Brushless gimbal stabilizer, and the price has just been announced and it’s pretty amazing; $2,999. If I had the money, I’d probably get one, even though there’s not a lot known about how well it’s software works, and it’s quite a bit heavier than the MoVI. And if it’s too heavy with that RED on it, just put a Blackmagic Pocket Camera on it.

Lower Prices

Meanwhile, there’s been some amazing deals announced the last few days (not forgetting the price for the DJI gimbal.)

Blackmagic Pocket Camera: Blackmagic has slashed the price of the Pocket Camera in half to $495:
With a normal recommended retail price of US$995, this Summer Special represents incredible value and is available for a limited time and will end on the 31st of August 2014. This Summer Special price is subject to limited availability, after which the price will return to the usual recommended retail price of US$995.
Evidently it’s a temporary cut, but I can’t really imagine they’ll put it back up to $1000 once the sale period ends. I’ve heard lots of good things from owners of the Pocket Camera; the image quality and the small size is a plus, and some people actually see advantages in the smaller sensor size of the Pocket for some situations. It’s not for everyone, but at the half the price, it’s even more intriguing…

Sony NEX-FS100: If you really like the shallow depth-of-field look of large sensor cameras, but find DSLRs a bit limiting, the NEX-FS100 might be the camera for you; and they just dropped the price by $1,500. It’s $2,499, and that includes a Metabones EF Lens to Sony NEX adapter. That’s pretty amazing; raising the question; how much longer will the NEX-FS100 be available, and B) is there a 4K replacement coming soon?

The NEX-FS100, when it came out, got a tremendous amount of press for it’s Super 35mm sensor, and a pretty good feature set given it’s price. It lacks built-in ND filters, and the picture isn’t as good as the (much more expensive) Canon C300 and C100; I know several people who bought the FS100 but then ‘graduated’ on to other cameras like the C300. The C300 has come down in price, but it’s still $11,999, and even the C100 is $5,499. They are really nice cameras, but too expensive for my budget.

Both of these price drops are quite significant. Is this just normal business, an indication of new models to come, or a sign that 4K is hitting the sales of HD cameras heavier than expected?