Saturday, October 30, 2010

News from Here & There

No USB 3 for Mac soon
In response to an email from Tom Kruk at 9 to 5 Mac, Steve Jobs responded
We don’t see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example.
9 to 5 Mac: Steve Jobs: No USB 3 ‘at this time’

HDSLR Video Editing White Papers
Canon has white papers for editing EOS HD video on Avid, Final Cut Pro, Premiere and Grass Valley EDIUS.
Canon: Canon White Papers: Beyond the Manual

Shooting Green Screen
NewMediaWebinars is offering a free workshop on green screen shooting: December 29, 2010 @ 10:00 AM PDT to 11:30 AM PDT.

In this webinar, cinematographer Marty Mullin will show you how to best set up your green screen, how to light it properly (and what lights to use), what lenses you should use for best results plus many more "insider" tips and tricks so that your post production keying and compositing session does not turn into a nightmare.
  1. Picking the right color (green, blue, red or black).
  2. Do only the lighting you need and do it fast.
  3. Lighting for the talking head.
  4. Lighting for the big shot and the action shot.
  5. Silhouettes and high ratio lighting.
  6. Make focus work for you.
  7. How lenses affect the green screen shot.
You can register for free (it's $25 for an archive of the video and bonus material)
NewMediaWebinars: Lighting & Shooting Green Screens

Does Length Matter?
Turns out people pretty much only want to watch 30 seconds of video online. And if it's a longer than 30 second video, they want to watch even less of it.

Dave White at the TODAY Show - arbiters of 'cool' - has decided that 3D just isn't cool enough.

SNL & "Back to the Future" Fans

If you were an 80s teen and/or if the words "flux capacitor" mean anything to you, pretty sure you'll love what I shot for SNL yesterday...
-Tweet from Alex Buono, Cinematographer, Saturday Night Live


A while back I got very interested in timelapse video after seeing this timelapse by Philip Bloom: Dungeness Timelapse experiment. I did some experiments using a Canon DSLR, and got somewhat promising results (the test video wasn't that spectacular visually, but it proved that the method basically worked.)

But after a bit of experimenting, I found out a few things:
  1. I mostly couldn't be bothered going through all the hassle of setting up a DSLR for a two or three hour long sequence
  2. The process is quite involved; both getting the right camera settings, as well as dealing with all the images afterwards
  3. I found that the effect I wanted to achieve - the accelerated movement of clouds in the sky - didn't really require as much work because it could be accomplished with sub-fifteen minute sequences
The last detail is important. What I found was that - stars orbiting through space excepted - what I mostly liked in timelapses was the acceleration of clouds moving across the sky, and I really don't like cars, people and boats zooming about the screen.

What this basically translated into is:
  1. For a five to ten second sequence, about 12 minutes is all I need
  2. I can shoot that with my video camera, and then accelerate it in Final Cut to get the result I wanted
So I've given up on the DSLR timelapses, and taken to using video cameras instead. It's probably a relief for all concerned, as the constant clicking of the shutter really freaked me out; I kept feeling like I was wearing my camera out before my eyes!

Now there are advantages to using a DSLR rather than a video camera, because you can have it record a single frame every x minutes or seconds, and you can have that exposure happen for multiple seconds/minutes. This can be desirable for special effects: shooting in low light, or creating a very blurred motion (like a blurred waterfall.) I'm not saying that DSLR's don't have their advantages and uses, I just realized that I'm okay with a simpler effect.

Clip Acceleration
The example below shows a 3:15 clip accelerated to 500%, 1000%, 2000% and 4000%. I really like the effect in the last two examples. This was done in Final Cut Pro using the Change Speed function.

For those interested in traditional timelapse, the following resources may be useful.


Philip Bloom: DSLR Timelapses addictive, frustrating and often rewarding…

Make: Panning time lapse using a kitchen timer
A timelapse taken with a GoPro on a kitchen timer. Interesting effect, though it's got the people jumping about.

YouTube: Two Axis Panning Timelapse Head for DSLR (ready to buy)
Something for those that want to get into more sophisticated movement of the camera during the sequence shooting.

After Effects Portal: GBDeflicker, Color Stabilizer, or Tinderbox T_Deflicker
Sometimes you get flicker in your sequence of images. This post covers some filters that can fix this.

Granite Bay Software: GBDeflicker product page
Filter for removing flicker in sequences

Apple Discussions: Quicktime 7 Pro Open Image Sequence Fails
Philip Bloom describes using QuickTime Player to combine a sequence of images into a movie, but some users have run into problems with this feature, which this discussion thread covers.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers [can] do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all.
- Stanley Kubrick

News from Here & There

Tao of Color
I went to a talk by Colorist Patrick Inhofer back in July and it was really interesting/informative. He's the latest guest on the 16 x 9 Cinema Podcast.

Anton/Bauer DSLR battery pack
Anton/Bauer's new QR-DSLR power pack provides 7.2v power to the camera via the Canon DR-E6 DC coupler** while the PowerTap provides power for 12v accessories such as the on-camera UltralightTM, onboard monitors, and external hard drives.
Anton/Bauer: QR-DSLR

Another iMovie 11 review
Another positive review of iMovie 11. I don't think the program changed that much this rev, it just seems people have noticed it again:
I don’t think iMovie is going to be stealing any of your business anytime soon. We’ll still be making movie magic in FCP… but I know where I’ll be headed the next time my family wants me to just “edit them up a little something something” of prom or Aunt Sophie’s 100th Birthday Bash. I can just plug and play in iMovie and still give them something well produced that we can both be proud of.
Powered Production: Apple Mad Libs (a.k.a. iMovie 11 “Trailers”)

Final Cut Stuff
Neil Sadwelkar stands up for Final Cut in: What's the big deal about FCP?, meanwhile, the rumors of Final Cut's death must be premature; Apple is hiring in the QA department, and a knowledge of Motion is desired.

History of Film Title design
Julia May at Smashing Magazine provides a History of Film Title Design. It's mainly oriented toward early stuff, but it includes several examples.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Interesting SMPTE Meeting in New York

New Developments in Large-Single-Sensor Cameras and Workflow

The November 17 SMPTE Meeting in New York looks really interesting as it features reps from Panasonic, ARRI and Sony (amongst others.) It's free, but you must register by Nov 15h.
  • David Leitner, Producer, Writer and Cinematographer
  • Jan Crittenden Livingston, Panasonic Broadcast and TV Systems
  • Guenter Noesner, ARRI Inc.
  • Juan Martinez, Sony Broadcast & Production Systems Division
  • Mitch Gross, Abel Cinetech
5:30 PM Refreshments and Social Hour
6:15 PM Technical Presentation

Eventbrite: SMPTE-NY November 2010 Meeting “New Developments in Large-Single-Sensor Cameras and Workflow”

Panasonic drops price of professional 3D monitor

Announced back in February for $9,900, the Panasonic BT-3DL2550 25.5-inch 3D IPS monitor just got a price drop to $7,000 ($6,500 at B & H.) Unlike the home units, this professional monitor uses passive glasses (the image is polarized.) That means that the effective resolution is halved vertically, but on the plus side, the glasses are a lot cheaper.

B & H: Panasonic BT-3DL2550 25.5" 3D LCD Video Monitor [$6,500]

But is the anti-3D tide rising?
Chris Nolan in announcing the next Batman film:
Nolan was most eager to talk about the fact that Warner Bros. had agreed with his argument that the film should resist the current 3-D craze and instead use high-definition approaches and IMAX cameras to strike out on a different cinematic path than the stereoscopic technology that, for better or worse, has become the dominant conversation in the blockbuster sector.
Los Angeles Times: Christopher Nolan reveals title of third Batman film and that ‘it won’t be the Riddler’

Making Media Now 2010 is Postponed

The Filmmakers Collaborative have announced that this weekends Making Media Now 2010 conference has been postponed due to low registration. They hope to reschedule for early 2011.

I have to admit, I had considered going to this, but the $165 price tag gave me pause, and the web site was a little vague and just didn't make me think "I have to go to this."

Filmmakers Collaborative: Making Media Now 2010

News from Here & There

The Future of Final Cute Pro
On the latest Terence and Philip Show podcast, much of it's devoted to what Philip Hodgetts thinks Apple should be doing with Final Cut Pro.
The Terence and Philip Show: Episode 12: The future of Final Cut Pro

Want to build a cheap Macintosh?
There's a series of Hackintosh build articles out on the net; this one is oriented towards the video editor. [I'd do it, but I'm so hopeless with fixing anything electrical...]
NoFilmSchool: How to Build a Video Editing Hackintosh That’s Faster than a Mac Pro for Half the Price

Premiere 9 Elements Review
I'd had thoughts of taking a look at Premiere 9 now that it was out on the Mac, but Katherine Boehret at the Wall Street Journal took a look at it and saved me the bother:
I found myself spending more time trying to figure out how to edit videos rather than simply editing. Editing tools are buried in several layers of menus and are poorly named.
and concludes:
Adobe Premiere Elements produces good-looking stuff, even without the extra upgrade cost for a Plus account. But new users should expect to take some time to learn the system and read through directions. If Adobe cleaned up its long, scrolling lists and gave its editing tools more mainstream names, people would feel more comfortable using it.
Wall Street Journal: Video Editing Made Easier

Could Netflix end up owning the entire streaming universe?
Why does it seem like we are constantly worrying; "Will iTunes control all the...? Will Amazon control all the....?" It's a continual problem of computers and the internet; we love/hate monopolies.

Final Cut Pro 8 to include Rolling Shutter Removal

That's not a a rumor, it's a fact. How do I know? Because iMovie 11 has a Rolling Shutter Removal option, and these kind of things tend to move back and fourth between the two programs.

And anyway, I didn't want to headline another post about iMovie; it's starting to turn into the iMovie blog...

I had intended to try some experiments with it, but Jeff Carlson at Macworld beat me to it with a little sample clip in his review. The function is part of the image stabilization function; when you turn on either the Stabilization or Rolling Shutter functions, iMovie puts up an "Analyzing for Stabilization" progress bar and spends a few seconds or minutes processing the clip. This processing pass isn't repeated if you turn Stabilization on after you turn on the Rolling Shutter reduction. Parameters are: Low Medium, High and Extra High, which means you have to pick and test to see which works for your footage.

Macworld: iMovie '11

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

iMovie 11: it's better than I thought

I know that sounds like a back-handed compliment, but I spent some time yesterday editing together a movie using iMovie 11, and just as when editing the movie trailer, I was pretty impressed. And since it's really only the second time I've spent more than five minutes with iMovie in the past five years, I was also a little surprised.

I've used iMovie before; mostly to do little more than a very simple assemble edit when I was in a hurry and didn't have access to Final Cut. And I did make an iMovie Trailer a couple of days ago and found that a lot of fun. But this was the first time I edited anything more complicated than that. Again, I haven't been using iMovie's previous release, so I don't even know what's different about this one, but some things I liked (Note: I know Audio Editing is new and improved in this release, the other features already existed in some form):

Audio Editing
It's very easy to adjust audio levels, adjust fade ins and outs, and even fade down a portion in the middle of a clip. Even adding a sound track is very easy.

Automated Editing
One of the really nice things about iMovie are it's templates that add some special graphic transitions. If you're throwing something together and these fit the project (and hopefully your audience hasn't seen them before!) you get very polished results.

The Clip Trimmer editor is great; it shows the clip, the part of the clip on screen, and the part of the clip taken up by any transitions. You can click to drag the visible part left or right, or click the in and out points to adjust the length of the clip. It's simple and intuitive:

There's lots of other little bits and pieces that work quite nicely, within a limited sphere. If you're throwing something together quickly, it mostly works; though I can't figure out how to do L-cuts in the  Precision Editor.

So that's the good, here's some of the bad:

It crashed a couple of times on me, and that was in only a couple of hours of use. Since it auto-saves, I didn't really end up losing anything. I did however, at one point lose a bunch of adjustments I had made to the custom transitions. I'm not sure when that happened, so I don't know if it's because of one of the crashes, or whether I accidentally "Undid" something that cleared those out.

Performance is mostly very good, but now and again an update or redraw can take a while and it makes the performance of the application feel uneven. The Project window can be rather erratic when selecting a long part of a clip, moving a sound clip, or adjusting some of the complex transitions. This is because the clips in the Project are presented in an iconic view rather than a timeline, and it has to juggle things about when adding or selecting things.

When you're doing complicated things, it takes time to learn even a "simple" interface
As programs become more complex, it does get harder to parachute in and just do something; for example I only just figured how to display a single days clips in the clip bin! And while it lets you mark clips as favorites or rejects, I'd like to have sub folders I could place things in to reorganize content. iMovie have a pseudo timeline view, but I'm not sure it's any easier to work with than the regular view.

But iMovie isn't intended for really long and complex projects: and as a simple editor it's pretty good!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Canon Lens Rebates

In addition to the camera body rebates [listed yesterday], Canon is also offering some lens rebates (that increase if you also buy a body at the same time!) Here's a few lenses that are particularly good! These apply through 1/8/2011.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Autofocus Lens [$1,520.00 - $100 = $1,420.00]
This is my favorite lens on my Canon 7D because it's wide, but also a zoom (though because the 7D isn't full frame, the lens really becomes a 24-50mm zoom lens.) It also has IS. A lot of people go for the 24-70mm f/2.8L, which is $1,300 (no rebates) but there's no IS and one thing I don't like about that lens is that the barrel extends as you zoom; the 16-35mm doesn't do that! But I also prefer wide angle lenses!

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens [$2,269.00 - $200 = $2,069.00]
Canon's 70-200 f/2.8L lens has been very popular with pros, and they just updated it this year (though goosing the price considerably!) This lens is great for shooting bands in bars; lots of light and you can get closeups! At $2,069 it's now only $170 more than what the previous version, the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, is selling for.
Note that Canon sells a variety of 70-200mm L lenses, with minimum apertures of f/4 and f/2.8, and with and without IS. The cheapest is the f/4L without IS (only $649), though if you're looking to save money I think the better choice is the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM Lens [$1,210.00 - $80.00 = $1,130.00]. One advantage of the f/4L over the f/2.8L is that it is quite a bit lighter: 760g instead of 1490g and physically a bit smaller too.

Canon Normal EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Autofocus Lens [ $1,459.00 - $100 = $1,359]
This is a really fast 50mm, and if your $99 EF 50mm gives up the ghost, maybe you should replace it with this! If you have a Canon 5D, this is a "standard lens," but on the T2i or 7D it's more like an 80mm.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens [$944.00 - $60 = $884.00]
It was only when I tried to do a shoot that involved lots of close-closeups that I realized I didn't have a macro. I probably wouldn't buy a plane 100mm lens, but with the macro this lens becomes incredibly useful.

Canon Wide Tilt/Shift TS-E 17mm f/4L Manual Focus Lens for EOS [$2,200.00 - $150 = $2,050.00]
I'd love to have a tilt shift lens; both for taking shots with tall vertical lines (like buildings) as well as for doing those "tiny model" distorted shots that seem to have become the rage. But the lenses are expensive! The Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt-Shift Manual Focus Lens for EOS Cameras [$1,940.00 - $130 = $1,810.00] is a bit cheaper, but not as wide. I'd probably save up for the 17mm!

Apple News

Wow. So the rumors are that Apple might buy Sony?! At the risk of turning this into an Apple fanboy blog; what the hey? An article on AppleInsider quotes John Sculley as saying Steve Jobs was fascinated by Sony, and wanted Apple to be like Sony, not Microsoft. Makes sense to me; but why buy Sony now? Apple has out-Sonyed Sony when it comes to refinement of product design. I just don't see why Steve - or Apple - would want to buy Sony now.

But Adobe? Now that would make sense!

Final Cut in August 2011
Much weeping and gnashing of teeth; the next Final Cut update is now rumored to be in August 2011. That's actually about when I would expect it, given that the last update came out last year; not even Adobe is on a yearly update cycle. Yes, it's unfortunate since Adobe came out with a new version of Premiere this year, but isn't that always going to be the case?

AppleInsider: Electronics giant Sony rumored for potential Apple acquisition
HDWarrior: Apple to delay FCP-8 till August 2011 “The writing is on the wall”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thoughts on iMovie 11 Trailers

Yes, everyone is going to get sick to death of these iMovie trailer templates, but I have to tell you, I just spent an hour or so editing together a little trailer using footage from my sister's recent visit to Boston, and it was a lot of fun. (Don't worry, I'm not going to put it up on YouTube!)

It reminded me yet again that a really good piece of music and some appropriate graphics can turn pretty average footage - really average footage - into something spectacular. Actually I had a blast, and kept playing it over and over as I adjusted it. Most of the time was spent in picking clips, adding video filters, and finding appropriate gag names for the credits (the Car Talk site was a great help with this!)

But there is a freshness dating on these trailers; I figure we'll only have a month or two before everyone has seen at least one, and you'll probably only get away with making one or two of these before everyone gets sick of them. So the sooner you do it, the better!

I'll also probably use the fake movie studio opening logos a few times for other things; but where's the Movie Rating Cards?

And one worrying note: iMovie 11 generally worked well, but at one point it froze my machine solid; which is not something that has happened in a long while. I'm not sure what happened, but I had to force a hard restart to recover. Fortunately, the project was saved (iMovie opened with no Project displayed, but clicking the Project Library button brought up a list of the one project I'd created, with my project safely there, and I didn't lose any changes!)

[Note: iMovie 11 is part of iLife '11]

Car Talk: Car Talk Credits

PBS Quality Television Workshops

On Wed, November 3 and Thur, Nov 4th at WGBH Boston, the Public Television Quality Group will be holding a two-day seminar designed to provide training for PBS producers.

The event costs just $50, and is the third in a series of five being given around the country. The goal of the workshop is to help people who produce programs for PBS understand how they can improve the technical quality of what they deliver.

There's some interesting workshops; the one I'd really like to go to is "The Great Frame Rate Debate" as it includes Douglas Trumbull, who did the special effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey, and other movies.

The next event will be in Nashville on January 13th, 2011.
QGPT: Quality Group Public Television

Philip Bloom's 3-days with the Panasonic AG-AF100

Philip Bloom has updated his 3-day's with the Panasonic AG-AF100 blog post, and for anyone interested in this camera, it's worth checking out.

He likes it, but notes that getting a good, wide, fast lens is a bit of a problem. He also thinks it's a bit of an odd shape to work with; but then so are DLSR's!

He also weighs in on whether it's a DSLR killer. Whether it is or isn't, it's clearly a camera getting a lot of interest as his blog post already has some 360+ comments in just a few days; more than any other of his blog entries!

Philip Bloom: 3 days with the Panasonic AG-AF100

Boston DLSR Meetup: Nov 20th in New Hampshire!

More details on the upcoming Boston DSLR Meetup on Sat Nov 20 have been posted, including a call for videos to be shown "on the big screen":

Screen your DSLR short at our NOV 20th SNOB Boston Meetup on Saturday, November 20th - We'll have a nice theater to screen in + great restaurants & beer nearby!
To sign-up to have your DSLR short(s) as part of the screenings, email Dan Bérubé.

WHEN: Saturday, November 20
TIME: 2;30pm-5pm; dinner + drinks; then more screenings
WHERE: Red River Theater, 11 South Main St, Concord, NH 03301

We will be meeting at Red River Theaters in Concord, NH (yes, this time in New Hampshire!) on Saturday, November 20th from 2:30pm-5pm - we'll go out to a local restaurant for drinks and dinner - and then we'll come back to the theater for more DSLR screenings! Nov20 Meetup

Canon Rebates and Prices

Canon has a rebate offer for the Canon T2i and 7D (and other cameras) running through November 24th. Order at B & H and you get the rebate applied:

Canon: Promotions

News from Here & There

Comparing the T2i and RED codec
How does the Canon T2i image compare to the RED?  James Blake at the HD Video Production blog has a short write-up comparing the two on a test shot.
HD Video Production: Canon t2i vs. RED: Codec, Color

Adobe News
It's MAX week - Adobe's big developer event - and they are expected to announce and show some interesting things, including Project Rome, a publishing tool for home users, an update to AIR, and most interestingly, the iPad (and other devices) digital publishing tool for InDesign.Terry White has a demo of the later tool on his blog. The digital publishing tool consists of an authoring extension to InDesign for adding interactive content (like video) and exporting the final project, as well as a Reader application for the iPad. You publish documents and then people will be able to load them onto their iPad and display them using the Reader app (which Adobe will distribute for free.)
Terry White's Tech Blog: Adobe Launches it's Digital Publishing Suite: InDesign CS5 to iPad.

iMovie 11
I've spent a small amount of time playing with iMovie 11, but I probably won't review it because I never used the old version for much more than very quick editing jobs; so I really have no idea what's new or how it's improved! MacWorld has a first look though...
MacWorld: First Look: iMovie '11

iPad Stuff
According to an article at the New York Times, the iPad is the darling of Hollywood. (But be warned: Hollywood is so faddish, by the time you get their to make your pitch, the iPad could be "so yesterday.")
NY Times: Pitching Movies or Filming Shows, Hollywood Is Hooked on iPads
The Teradek Cube let's you stream video over WiFi from an HDMI or HD-SDI source. So hook it up to your Canon 7D, then stream video to your iPad (for $1,600.) Teradek Cube

Tips for Shooting Video
This collection of shooting tips from the Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 Classroom in a Book is actually a great collection of tips for anyone.
Peachpit Press: Shooting and Capturing Great Video Assets

Keep the Customer Satisfied
Interesting article about keeping online customers happy; and defusing online complaints. This article particularly focuses on Henry Posner, who works for B & H. I'm a B & H affiliate, so I won't say anything more, but there's some interesting insights:
NY Times Blogs: Seven Steps to managing Your Online Reputation