Saturday, June 19, 2010

I do a car review video

Kelly Blue Book ( ran a competition to make a car review video last month. I've been a fan of the British TV car show Top Gear for a while now, and in true Top Gear fashion figured; How hard could it be?

Actually, pretty hard; when you don't have a crew.

The resulting video was shot over the course of a couple of weekends, though I think the total amount of shooting was no more than five hours. I had an assistant cameraman for one hour, which is when the stand-up stuff was shot.

The video was shot with: a ContourHD camera (inside the car and the "on-car" shots) a Sony Handycam HDR-XR500V (dashbaord cam and most of the car exterior shots), the Panasonic AG-HMC70U shoulder mount camera (the non-driving shots where I'm talking) and a Canon EOS 7D DSLR (a couple of the car exterior shots.)

The small HDR-XR500V was invaluable for the drive-by shots, as I could set it up by the side of the road and drive away; on a small tripod it doesn't attract much attention!

I've written about the ContourHD before. It's great size-wise, and made positioning in the car simple, but the sound quality is poor (the audio was actually recorded on the HDR-XR500V) and the video is lower in resolution.

The AG-HMC70U was used for recording the stand-up stuff because it has XLR jacks which make it easy to plug-in the wireless mic.

I used the Canon 7D for some "beauty" shots, but due to time/lack-of crew issues, it was easier to use the other cameras for most of the shots in the video.

My biggest problem? The video had to be under two minutes, and though I'd written a script first - and done a rough recording that came in at 1:50 - somehow when I edited everything together and cut it as closely as I could, it was 2:59 seconds! I had to go back and cut ruthlessly!

NotesOnVideo: ContourHD VholdR 2800 Windshield Mount Kit
Amazon: ContourHD 1080p by VholdR – Full HD Helmet Camera
B & H: Panasonic AG-HMC70U
B & H: Canon 7D

Friday, June 18, 2010

Steadicam Smoothee update

Watching the iPhone 4 video sample this evening (it's now on YouTube and Vimeo) I couldn't help thinking; that's not bad, but it's rather shakey. then I remembered the Steadicam Smoothee, the steadicam for the iPhone and Flip that was previewed at the Winter CES, but hasn't been heard of since.
Actually, I lie. It was mentioned in passing by Taz Goldstein from HandHeldHollywood at the recent Boston Final Cut Pro User Group meeting where he sort of made a joke about 'why anyone would buy such a thing?'

But an iPhone 4 capturing 720p video, that might be why you would buy one. Actually, when I'd first read about it, I'd thought that using it with the Flip might make sense, but now, the iPhone 4 makes even more sense.

Strangely enough - and don't you love how things come together? - I popped over to Tiffen's site to see whether there's any further updates about the Smoothie, and there's a press release dated June 18 [talk about timing!]
The Tiffen Company, award winning manufacturer of still image and video accessories, announced fourth quarter availability, of the Steadicam Smoothee, the new “easy to use right out of the box” camera stabilizer. The Smoothee, comes with a camera mount, and will sell at retail for under $200. The Smoothee can be used with the Apple iPhone 3GS, Motorola DROID, or the Flip Mino video camera, with additional models to follow.
The Steadicam Smoothee is approximately 8”W x 14.5” H x 2.5” D (20.3 x 36.8 x 6.4cm) in operating configuration. Each of the individual patented quick release removable camera mounts can also serve as a tabletop stand or can be mounted to any tripod with a standard ¼ x20” camera mount. Also included with the Steadicam Smoothee is an easy to follow instruction sheet and carrying strap.
Fourth quarter and under $200? Could be interesting. Though I'm kind of puzzled that in a press release dated June 18th, they mention the iPhone 3GS, but not the iPhone 4. Weird.

Tiffen: Tiffen Demonstrates new Steadicam Smoothee for Apple iPhone 3GS, Motorola Droid and Flip Mino
jablickar.czČeský uživatel testuje iPhone 4 [ukázky fotografií a videa z iPhone 4 v článku]
NotesOnVideo: Taz Goldstein from HandHeldHollywood in Boston
NotesOnVideo: Steadicam Smoothee

New England National Prof. Videographers Assoc Meeting - June 21

Special meeting from 1pm to 9pm, with four guest speakers:

- David Perry: "Creating Connections to Book Weddings"
- Matt Davis: "You know know how to shoot video, now learn how to sell it"
- Adam Forgione: "Creating the Ultimate Feature from Audio to Shooting to Editing"
- Chris Jones: "The where, the when, the value of the next 2011 InFocus gathering."

June 21, 2010
1PM - 9:30 PM
Holiday Inn/Dedham MA
55 Ariadne Street
Dedham, MA

Pre-Payment NPVA Members $25
Pre-Payment Non-Members $40
At-the-Door is $50 (members and non-members)

National Professional Videographers Association of New England

iPhone 4 pictures and video examples

Some lucky guy in the Czech Republic got his hands on an iPhone 4 and shot some pictures and video with it. You can see the pictures (and read a bit about the results at AppleInsider) and you can see the video at the posting site [Except that at the moment it doesn't work for me; either the video has been taken down, or their server has been overloaded.]

AppleInsider: Photo, video quality of Apple's iPhone 4 demonstrated in Prague Český uživatel testuje iPhone 4 [ukázky fotografií a videa z iPhone 4 v článku]

News from Here & There

Zacuto's FilmFellas 8 ASC Cinematographers
This webisodic series continues with ASC Cinematographers discussing how DSLRs are creating a new wave of indie film and democratizing the filmmaking process.
Zacuto: FilmeFellas 8

Same day wedding video edit
Lan Bui at the Bui Brothers Blog writes:
I was talking to Aaron Dieppa about photographers offering video products to their clients and I ended up wondering if I could show up to a wedding by myself and make a wedding fusion video same day edit. The goal would be to offer photographers a cost effective way to add video to the day without adding much expense or effort.
You can see the results on the blog. Same day edit fusion wedding video – Ree Todd wedding video

A commercial shoot with DLSRs
Shane Hurlbut blogs about a four day shoot for a commercial for Case Tractors. This was a $140,000 budget project with a peak crew of 20 on one day. He goes in to some depth about the process, equipment, and even a "low-budget" aerial shot.
hurlblog: A Hybrid Shoot In America’s Heartland for Case Tractor

And more on another commercial shoot Shane did:
Creative Cow: Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR Cameras Capture Heroic Action in the Hands of Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut

Kodak Playsport Zx3 reviews the Kodak Playsport Zx3, and likes it's waterproof body (works down to 3 meters.) They weren't so happy with it's White Balance performance (or lack, thereof.) Kodak Playsport Zx3 Camcorder Review

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Movie★Slate (Clapperboard & Shot Log)

There's a few clapper board apps out there already for the iPhone and iPad, but several people reckon that Movie★Slate is the best because it has a number of features not available in others, including the ability to log yours shots.

Version 2.0 is out now and it features:
  • HD-Optimized for iPad
  • Timecode Sync from Camera LTC (optional in-app purchase)
  • 6 optional data fields on main slate
It's $19.99, and (now) is designed for both the iPhone and iPad.

iTunes: Movie★Slate (Clapperboard & Shot Log) - PureBlend Software

What They Forgot To Tell You...

DSLRs vs. RED - Fight! Fight!

With all the hype over DSLR's being used in television and independent features, RED - the previous darling of the indie filmmaker set - isn't feeling the love. Jim Jannard - or RED Leader as he's known - has struck back with the following smackdown on DSLR users in the REDuser forum:
I fully expect the DSLR mfgs to get it right at some point. Make a non-line-skipping 4K camera. At that point, the difference will be RAW 5K and 6K vs. whatever they make. Until then, a line-skipping 1080P camera is just not in the running for a pro camera. Can you make OK images with a line-skipping 1080P camera? Sure. Should you be embarrassed? Yes. We are not in that business.
Ouch! Vincent Laforet and Philip Bloom must be feeling pretty silly right about now. Of course, in their defense, they often say that DSLRs aren't the perfect tool for every project. In a recent post, Laforet even wrote about a project that they specifically went to RED because of concerns about how the Canon DSLR compression would hold up for the project they were doing. He said:
I was really impressed with how well the new sensor handled a pretty incredible range of exposure / latitude - far in excess of what I’m used to working with on digital. I’ve since used the Mysterium-X on two separate videos and keep being surprised at how well it holds highlights and shadows at the same time.

REDuser forum: Bug...
VincentLaforet Blog: Latest Shoot: Twisted Metal Playstation Trailer
Photography Bay: RED’s Jim Jannard Blasts DSLR Cinematographers, Says They Should Be “Embarrassed”

UPDATE: not surprisingly, it's provoked a lot of comment around the net:
EOSHD: RED: "DSLR shooters should be embarrassed"
FreshDV: Shoot video with a DSLR? You should be embarrassed

Vincent Laforet has posted a response as well: HDDSLR VS. RED … Has War Been Declared?

A bag of tricks

The Zoom R24 won't be out until July 7th, and no price has been announced, but this sure looks like an interesting gadget:
In addition to 24-track playback and 8-track simultaneous recording using SD memory cards, the R24 is a digital multi-track recorder, an audio interface, a control surface and a pad sampler.
So take it in the field and record 8-tracks simultaneously, and then bring it back and connect it up to your computer and use it as a control surface?! That's pretty amazing. I wonder what the price will be; under or over $1,000?

Samson: R24 - Recorder | Interface | Controller | Sampler

[UPDATE 6/18
I guess I should have looked into this a little more. Turns out it's an update on the R16, which has been available for a while and looks almost exactly the same and has almost identical functionality, but with only 16 tracks. The R16 sells for $399, so I figure the R24 will probably not be over $500?
As to performance, if the R16 is anything to go by then; many love it, a few hate it, and some can't get it to work with their computer. Pre-amps may be a bit noisy, but then what do you expect for $399?!
B&H: Zoom R16 ]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

5D Mark III coming this summer?

Canonrumors says they are getting reports of a new 5D Mark III. It's questionable, because the 5D has been on a longer refresh cycle than some of the other cameras. Of course, the 5D has met with a lot of success in a field that they hadn't originally intended (video production) so it' possible that they might have moved up the pace of updates.

I honestly have no idea, but it's kind of exciting to speculate and dream wildly!

YouTube Video Editor

YouTube has a cloud-based video editor that let's you edit videos you have already uploaded. Looks kind of like can choose clips, and cut the in and out points. If nothing else, might be useful for doing quick trims of things already uploaded...or you could just edit them on your iPhone!

YouTube: Video Editor
Google Operating System News: YouTube Video Editor

New 'get' for Final Cut Video Tutorial

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the 'get' plugin for Final Cut that does phonetic searching of video clips. They are still in beta, but they have added a new video tutorial to their website.

AV3 Software: 'get' page with new video tutorial
NotesOnVideo: 'get' for Final Cut

Storyboard Composer updated

Storyboard Composer, the storyboarding app for the iPhone, has been updated. Version 1.2 adds:
  • Storyboard export to QuickTime file
  • Support for direct email of PDF files
  • Fixed board re-arrange delay time
Storyboard Composer is an impressive app; and I look forward to the Mac/PC app that they are reportedly working on.

Apple Store: Storyboard Composer
NotesOnVideo: Hitchcock review [the original name of the app]

DualEyes Public Beta

Singular Software already offers PluralEyes, a plug-in that works with Final Cut and other NLEs to sync video and audio clips by analyzing the audio tracks and matching them.
Now they have released the first beta for DualEyes, a standalone application for the automatic synchronization of video and audio clips for dual-system audio production. According to the release, DualEyes is similar to their product PluralEyes product, but is streamlined for the task of replacing in-camera scratch audio with separately recorded high-quality audio.

So, my understanding is that DualEyes is a standalone app that will take an audio clip and match it to a video clip, while PluralEyes is a plug-in that will match multiple clips...

Singular Software: DualEyes Product Page
Singular Software: Downloads

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Rules of Video Production

  • Why does the special piece of equipment you ordered only arrive one day after you need it?

  • Why is it that when you've cut out all the fluff, and half the stuff you wanted to keep, the program is still one minute too long?

  • Why does one of the sequences always go missing?

  • Why is the camera never rolling during the best take of the day?

  • Why are problems with the script only identified during editing?

  • Why is it that only after you finish fixing it in post do you realize it would have been faster and easier to reshoot?

  • Why is it that effects can make a good clip great, but they can't make a bad clip average?

  • Why does upgrading software in the middle of a project never save time or make things better?

  • Why does the audience never appreciate the things you spent the most time on?

  • Why does a little music make everything ten times better?

  • Why do you have to have been there and done it, to appreciate this list?

News from Here & There

Cine Gear 2010 @ FreshDV
The Cine Gear expo was last week, and though there's already been quite a bit of coverage of the event, FreshDV has now put up a bunch of video interviews on their news page.
FreashDV: News

Taking apart a 5D Mark II
Not for the faint of heart, but the 5D Mark II Team website has a series of pictures showing the steps involved in taking apart of Canon 5D and converting it to a PL mount.
5D Team: Disassembling & Modding 5D MarkII - PL Mount

Getting a Camera in the Air
Want to put a camera in the sky? DJ Vegh uses electric-powered helicopters as an aerial platform. Digital Convergence Episode 21 features an interview.
16x9cinema: Digital Convergence Episode 22 - DJ Vegh - Founder of PhotoShipOne and AZ Chopper Cam

Apple Pre-order Day

Well, I reserved a 32GB black iPhone 4.

I woke up unintentionally early - or maybe unconsciously early - at 6:20am EDT, and tried Apple's site, and after a couple of false starts, an Oops! screen and a frozen screen or two, managed to reserve one. It took about ten minutes, I think. The white model isn't available at the moment, but I was planning on getting the black one anyway.

Others have reported problems connecting - and are still having problems.

I guess the moral of the story is; buy Apple stock. This is going to be another success story for them (either that or their website performance really sucks.)

New Apple Mini
A new Apple Mini was announced today as well, and it adds HDMI support and gets thinner. The Mini is actually a nice little machine, even if it is limited in upgradability. Nice that they have made it easier to upgrade the memory yourself.

With the Mini now having HDMI, in some ways it would make a better AppleTV than the AppleTV. Of course, at a significant price difference!

Apple: Apple Mini

[UPDATE: So at $699 it's $100 more than the previous base model, but you get HDMI, faster graphics card and 320GB drive instead of the 160GB drive that was in the previous base model.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Blu-print 6 and Z Depth now available

Sony Creative says that Blu-print 6, a Blu-ray Disc authoring application, and Z Depth, a 3D subtitle offset editing application, are now available.

The Blu-print 6 application offers new features for 3D authoring including; 3D title authoring in accordance with the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) Profile 5 Blu-ray 3D disc specification, 3D menu and subtitle graphics, and MVC encoded content importing. 3D BD-J (Blu-ray Disc Java) integration and Blu-ray 3D Disc cutting master generation is also supported

The Z Depth application operates as an extension of Vegas Pro 9 and generates the required offset metadata file needed for a Blu-ray 3D project, enabling editors to position subtitles and menu graphic elements in the 3D space.


News from Here & There

iMovie for iPhone 4 only
The Gadget Show reports that iMovie for the iPhone will only work with the new iPhone 4; it won't work with the 3GS. While I'm not surprised that the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G won't be supported - afterall, they don't officially support video capture - it's a surprise that the 3GS will be overlooked too. Evidently it's because the processor in the 3GS isn't powerful enough.
The Gadget Show: iMovie for iPhone: iPhone 4 only

Dealing with lots of video files
Nino Leitner at NinoFilm writes about dealing with all that video footage; particularly of interest for those of us transcoding video to ProRes for editing in Final Cut Pro.
He also looks at RAID drives and other, cheaper, storage options. Save terabytes of storage with your DSLR footage / tips for storage options

SMPTE Boston Meeting - Registration closes at 1pm today

NOTE: Registration closes at 1PM today

Wednesday, June 16th meeting, 6:30 pm to 9 pm

Free BBQ 5 pm to 6:30 pm. Hosted by Sony Broadcast. Registration will be closing soon: Register for 3D session and BBQ today!

  • Gary Mandle, Sr. Product Manager for Display Systems at Sony, will discuss 3D display technology and show various examples of upcoming hardware.
  • Bill Lange, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will discuss his experiences with real world 3D acquisition and display varoius samples.
Rule Boston Camera
395 Western Avenue entrance for parking
Boston, MA
(Additional parking is available in the shopping plaza across the street on Western Avenue.)

Hand Held Hollywood Contest

Hand Held Hollywood is running a Twitter campaign/competition (you have to follow them on Twitter and Tweet a specific message) for an iPhone 4, an Owle Bubo, a Blue Microphone's Mikey, a ProPrompter Wing, and several filmmaking apps.
The competition closes on June 23, with the winner will be announced on the 24th; don't know how that's going to work if you're already planning/hoping to pick up the iPhone 4 on the 24th...

HandHeldHollywood: iPhone giveaway

JAG35 DSLR Shoulder Rig

Cameratown has a video preview of the forthcoming JAG35 DSLR Shoulder Rig which does a good job of showing how you can reconfigure it. The rig is $649.99; NOTE today is the last day to pre-register and get $100 off the price of the rig.

Cameratown: Hands-On Preview of the New JAG35 DSLR Shoulder Rig
JAG35: Full Shoulder Rig

A few more thoughts on the ContourHD Windshield Mount

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the ContourHD Windshield Mount. All in all, I was generally happy with it; my only criticisms were more to do with the quality of the video from the ContourHD camera rather than the functionality of the mount.

This weekend I spent some more time with it, and at the same time was using the “standard” mount version of the Panavise Windshield Mount with a small Sony camcorder. This is exactly the same mount as the Contour version, but with a different connector for the ContourHD camera.

And while the Sony camcorder outperforms the ContourHD in terms of video quality by a country mile, I ran into a problem with the Sony; even though it’s a small camera, I couldn’t get it into the position I wanted. No matter what I did, it hit either the windshield or the mount. It just wasn’t small enough; and the Panavise arm itself can get in the way.

So even though I’d planned to use the camcorder, I ended up having to switch back to the ContourHD.

Another issue I noticed; connecting the Sony camcorder to the standard mount wasn’t particularly secure. No matter how I adjusted it, he camera wasn’t completely locked into place on the screw mount. It wasn’t really a problem during shooting; but then I was careful with it.

Finally, as I mentioned in the review, the ContourHD shoots a little wider than I’d like. But the Sony turned out to not be as wide as I'd like either! I could add a wide-angle lens adapter to the camera, but that would make it quite a bit heavier, and I already feel like it’s around the limit for what I’d want to hang off the mount.