Friday, October 24, 2008

2008 Insomnia Film Festival

Now of a kid in school that's into film/video making? You might want to tell them about the 2008 Insomnia Film Festival.
On November 15 at 9:00 a.m. EST, the clock starts ticking.
Apple will post the list of required elements for entries in the 2008 Insomnia Film Festival. Then you and your team will have the next 24 hours to make and upload your 3-minute movie. That's the easy part.
Earn the #1 rating from either the public or the pros, and you'll land one of two grand prizes. Everyone on your team will get a MacBook Pro, Final Cut Studio 2, Logic Studio, Shake, and a year's worth of One to One personal training to help you use them.

Note that: All five registered team members need to be current students in the U.S. attending high school (9th through 12th grade) or an accredited college or university

Another Canon 5D Mark II love site

Seems that Ken Rockwell really likes the Canon 5D Mark II; if you're shooting landscapes. If it's news or sports, stick with Nikon.

It's an interesting page, but I'm not so sure I can agree with his comments about the D90 being preferred for theatrical release.
The Nikon D90's 24 FPS rate is ideal for theatrical release; the Canon's 30-frame rate will look more like video while the D90's 24-frame rate will look more like film.

While the frame rate of the D90 suggests it's better for going to film, the "jelly" issue, and the lower resolution make me think that the Canon 5D would be a much better choice; even if you have to do a translation to 24 fps.

Or course, if you are going to film, maybe a "real" video camera that shoots at 24p would be the better choice.

Apple TV Maximum Frame Size/Rate

Well, it turns out the specs were right. If you do a movie at 1280 x 720, the frame rate must be 24 fps. If you do it at 30 fps (even if the transfer rate is the same) the Apple TV won't even "see" the movie.

So it turns out that 960 x 540 @ 30 fps is probably the best choice for transferring HD video to the Apple TV.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Redrock DSLR Rig

While I'm still waiting to see more in-depth reviews about just how good the Canon 5D Mark II video is, there's no doubt that it seems to promise pretty awesome video capabilities.

Might be good enough to use to shoot "serious" video? Some people think so, but let's face it, using an SLR to shoot video - even on a tripod - is probably going to be a little bit of a challenge. The camera is designed for shooting stills more than for shooting video.

Enter Redrock Micro, who has come up with a rig to hold, and control a DSLR (and to make you look more like a "real" movie maker too!) The Redrock video DSLR Bundle (catchy product name) offers the following features:

  • Follow focus for accurate and repeatable focusing
  • Swing-away mattebox for light management and easy access to changing lenses
  • Shoulder mount and handgrips for steady handheld use
  • Support cage for enhanced stability and low angle shot

It's going to be available starting October 28th (price may not be announced until then) I guess the real question; will it cost more than the camera? Here's one guy that's excited about them: Prolost:It's happening.

October 23

Apple TV

  • I bought an episode of Top Gear last night just to see what it was like. I would have bought the whole season, but that takes up 5GB, and I just don't have that much free space on my iBook right now (ouch!) A one hour episode is 546MB. Quality; well it's certainly acceptable, but not as good as a DVD

  • It turns out that while I can synch (i.e. copy) content from one iTunes library, I can also stream another iTunes library. Which means that maybe I'll buy Top Gear on the other computer...the only problem is that the computer has to be on to stream...

  • Looks like 1280 x 720 @ 30 fps doesn't work. I made a test movie, and Apple TV didn't like it. I have to remake the movie at 24fps just to confirm that's the issue, and I didn"t mess something else up!

Sony HDR-FX7

Sony dropped the price on the HDR-FX7 by a grand; it's now $1,999. Right now B & H lists the new price as $1,999, and the used price is $2,199!

I have - and like - the HDR-FX1. Unfortunately, camcorderinfo didn't like it nearly as much, preferring the Canon XH-A1:
...the XH A1 offers a great deal more control and makes it more accessible. The XH A1 has a ton of great audio features and the Sony FX7… doesn’t, omitting XLR inputs and external audio level controls. We like the HDR-FX7 in itself. It comes from a good family, improving in some points over the HDR-FX1, and harkening back to the DCR-DVX2100 and even XV1000. But in a comparative, competitive market, it simply can’t hold a candle to its mainchallenger. 

But that was back when the FX7 was only $500 cheaper than the XH A1. The XH A1 definitely seems to be the better camera, but now it's $1300 more than the FX7.

OWC Blu-ray

I've given up on Blu-ray, but OWC has come out with an external Blu-ray player. $499.99 for the drive alone, or bundled with Roxio Toast 9 Titanium (OS X) for $579.99

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Apple TV

I often like to play back video I’ve edited on an HD television that’s down the hall from my editing suite (that sounds a bit pretentious; the suite is a Mac in my office.) In the past I’ve been burning HD content onto an anamorphic DVD, which works fine – even if it takes a bit of time – though there is some noticeable resolution loss.

For ages, I’d been thinking that if I had a Blu-ray burner and player then it would provide a higher-resolution solution. But the failure of Apple to deliver on Blu-ray support has caused me to reconsider my options, and perhaps come up with a better solution.

Apple TV

Okay, so the Apple TV is no Blu-ray. In fact, it’s highest resolution is 720p; 1280 x 720 @ 24 fps 5 mpbs, or 960 x 540 @ 30 fps 5 mbps.

That’s not Blu-ray resolution, but it’s a bit better than an anamorphic DVD. And there’s other advantages too; most noticeably the savings in time compressing and burning, and also the savings in not burning as many DVDs. I’ll also include the ease of finding stuff; no more misplaced discs!

I just got the 40GB version yesterday, and so far it looks to have been a good choice. Setup was very easy (I already use iTunes with my iPhone) though it took about three hours to transfer my iTunes library to the Apple TV over Wi-Fi (and that’s mostly music.)

I did a couple of test transfers using the QuickTime Pro player to export short HDV clips. Both were at 960 x 540 with different compression rates. They worked without trouble; though I need to experiment to see the best settings, and whether 1280 x 720 is really limited to 24fps!!

One surprise; there’s no off button on the Apple TV. I have to decide whether to leave it on, or turn it off at the wall...


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Casio EX-FH20

The speed with which new toys come out is truly dizzying. Was it just this January that Casio's EX-F1 was being talked about excitedly because of it's ability to do super-slow motion? And now, heres the EX-FH20 offering similar features in a smaller footprint. It's available for $599 from several online reatilers.

Unfortunately, assuming that the video quality is similar to the EX-F1 (which went way down in resolution and way up in noise as the frame rate went up) it's ability to capture short sequences at high frame rates is not that useful. Fun to post short sequences on the web - maybe - but probably not much use for anything else.

It does claim 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) video though.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Looking at Vimeo

I've been using YouTube for a couple of years to post videos, and I'm generally happy with it; it's easy to use, has a big audience, and you can embed video in other pages easily. And most people seem to have no trouble with it, so if it ain't broke, why fix it?

Except that most stuff I do these days is in HD format, and YouTube doesn't support that yet. I have to letterbox things (or pan-and-scan) before posting them.

So the quest for an alternative begins. Vimeo looks interesting. They support 720P (1280 x 720), and you have the option of a Free Account, or Vimeo Plus, the latter giving you more storage space (500MB vs 2GB), more uploads (1 a week vs unlimited) and other features for $59.95 a year. What? We have to pay?!

While I can't find it on that page, camcorderinfo says that you are limited to 5000 streams. Is that a year? Month? Simultaneously?

Well, I'm going to have to do some experimenting with it to see how it compares to YouTube. There are other options too: CNET: YouTube sucks: 4 sites that do video better