Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Webcast report: createasphere HDSLR Video Production - Highlights from NAB

I just finished listening to the hour long HDSLR Video Production - Highlights from NAB webcast that was hosted by createsphere and sponsored by Canon.

This is probably the fourth or fifth webicastinar thingy that I have watched/listened to in the past month - what with the announcement of Adobe CS5 and all - and I'm thinking that I need to take a break from them for a while. They really can be exhausting to keep up with, what with having to deal with registration and log-in issues, connectivity and sound problems. Unfortunately, the sound on this one was particularly poor; and this was an audio cast  - with some still slides here and there. Philip Bloom's audio was unintelligible in some parts - and I don't think it was because he lost his voice the other day.

They are evidently going to place a recording of the program up on the site later, and maybe that will be better than the live performance. I hope so.

Anyway, there was some interesting stuff offered up by Jared Abrams of Cinema 5D, Tim Smith of Canon and Philip Bloom of Philip Bloom.

When asked for their impressions of NAB, Tim Smith said that "NAB was all about 3-D and 5D; everywhere I walked I saw Canon cameras wrapped in some accessory or being used for some demo."

Philip Bloom talked about his short movie A Day at the Races, and how it started out as an experiment to do a film of horse racing using a 7D with a PL mount and some high-end lenses. They quickly found that shooting horse racing with a single camera and a lens of only 100mm wasn't going to work very well, and the subject of the movie turned from being the horse racing to the people and things going on around the horse racing.

When asked to compare the 7D and T2i, Jared and Philip both agreed that video quality was almost identical, and that the differences between the two were mainly in shooting stills rather than video, though Philip did observe that the 7D is a much tougher and well built camera.

Best all purpose lens? For the 5D they recommended a 50mm f/1.2, but for the 7D either the Canon 35mm f/1.4 or the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. Philip also likes the Cnaon 70-200mm and Jared likes the Canon 16-35mm.

Tim was asked if Canon had any plans to issue a firmware update to add manual gain control to the 7D, and he said there's "no plans that I know of at the moment." He did add that Canon is always listening to customers...

When asked about audio, Philip said he was still a believer in dual system sound. He doesn't like the XLR boxes that are available because when you connect them to the camera you can't monitor what the camera is laying down and that worries him. He likes the Zoom H4n, though has also started using the Tascam DR100 because it has independent level controls.

There was quite a bit of discussion about the issues of aliasing and rolling shutter. Philip said that every camera he's used has issues, and you just have to learn how to work around them - no whip pans for example. He also added that he's seen the stuff projected on a large screen and "it looks amazing." Tim pointed out that professionals are happily using the 5D in television and film right now. He talked about the episode of House that was almost entirely shot on the 5D, and said that this should lay to rest the question whether these cameras can be used professionally. He added that the producers came to Canon with the idea to do it, and their DP then shot some tests, ran them through grading, and was happy with the results. He said it performed better than what they were expecting. Tim went on a bit of a tear about people questioning the quality and usefulness of these cameras on forums, while others are out there right now using the cameras to do things.

There was a question about the 4GB limit, and that was blamed on FAT 32 and there was no mention of changing that in the near future. When asked about the relationship between the video and SLR departments at Canon, Tim said that the relationship has changed significantly in the last year and that there has been a shift at Canon in recognizing the needs of filmmakers. He said that there are politics and technical issues - sometimes people think it's much easier to do things than it really is - but he added that Canon is listening to customers...

Asked about monitoring, Jared said that he uses an inexpensive two-port powered HDMI splitter to run a camera monitor and a monitor for the director. Philip says he likes to have three monitors (one for the focus puller) so he uses something from Blackmagic that converts to HD/SDI. He added that HD/SDI is a much stronger and professional connector compared to the consumer HDMI plugs.

Finally, when asked about the settings used for shooting with the intention to color grade, Philip said that there are downloadable presets available, and some people like to use the Superflat preset. But he said he likes to use a simpler version of that which has the contrast set all the way down and saturation down a couple of notches.

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