Friday, August 30, 2013

A "cheap" Sony 4K Camera and other news

The Cheap Sony 4K
SonyAlphaRumors has a picture of an upcoming cheap 4K camera from Sony that may sell for less than $5,000. Cheap, of course, is relative.

This isn't really news; the idea of a camera like this was previewed back at NAB, as Cinescopophilia points out. I'm quite sure that Sony will come out with a 4K camera that looks like this; the question was never 'if,' only 'when' and 'how much?'

But before you get too excited, note that this camera is basically the same body as the HXR-NX5U and HVR-Z5U. These cameras have a FIXED lens, and 1/3" sensors. This is not the 4K replacement for the NEX-FS100. It could still be a nice camera for documentary work, though the image better be worth the extra $$ compared to the price of the HXR-NX5U.

Other News

When a Camera Manufacturer Hates Me… | ProVideoCoalition
Art Adams responds to being called out by Jim Jannard in his final post to Reduser:
I have a lot of respect for RED. They changed the world in a lot of good ways, the most important of which is that they've kicked their competition in the ass to lower costs and make higher quality cameras. That's huge. Unfortunately RED has also made it acceptable to ship cameras that aren't complete yet and empower our clients to take important equipment decisions out of the hands of the very people they hired to make those decisions.

Why Make Video Look Like Film? An Inside Look… | DV Info
An interview with one of the creators of FilmConvert
it’s hard to say what the film look is. It’s not the exact colours that are important, but moreover film has what I call a more “organic” feel: the highlights roll off nicely, the shadows roll under nicely, there’s a strange twist in the middle of the colour response, and a curious lack of real deep blues. When running through a projector, the fact that the photosites move around from frame to frame (grain!) adds to the effect, which your brain puts together and screams “film!”

Yesterday I was lucky enough to receive one of the first production Blackmagic Pocket Cinema cameras to arrive in China. I’ve been quite excited about this little camera ever since it was announced at NAB earlier in the year. Anticipating its arrival I have built a small kit of lenses and accessories that should turn it into a workable camera system. Central to this are fast lenses that allow for reasonably shallow depth of field with its small sensor.

Black Betty: the First Cinema Camera That Can Shoot, Edit, & Post Footage Completely Internally | NoFilmSchool
Building cameras seems to have become a hobby for everyone:
Black Betty is much more than a camera. It’s a complete cinema solution utilizing an Apple Mac Mini computer with a Silicon Imaging SI-2K Mini for the imager. It also happens to be the first single unit camera in existence capable of shooting, editing, and posting footage online, without the need for any other hardware.

Rewriting How-To | Just Effing Entertain Me
This ability to identify your story as having a beginning, a middle and an end will serve you very well when you have to ask yourself what the reader will “get” from your story. Again, this is a prerequisite of screenwriting and no joke.

Editing Room Confidential: The New Roles TV and Film Editors Must Play Now | Adam Epstein | Tribeca Film
The first in what is promised to be a series of columns by 'SNL' editor Adam Epstein:
 "I am an editor," is now assumed to be the start of a list rather than a declarative statement. "I am an editor…who is also a sound designer. And a compositor. And I can make motion graphics. And know how to troubleshoot computer systems. And follow the trends in software, hardware and storage technology.

Know Your Market! | Digital Bolex
The folks working on the Digital Bolex camera write about film distribution:
There are many reasons why distribution companies pick up certain films. It may not always make sense to you, or you may not understand why your film is not getting the attention that a similar project appears to be getting. The most obvious reason why companies buy a film is that it fits the audience of their brand that they’ve spent years cultivating. Documentary distributors buy documentaries because they distribute documentaries.

The Missing 5 Pages: A History of Fine Line | Ira Deutchman
Distribution from the other side:
Those of you who have watched my Keynote at the Art House Convergence may not have have realized that in the interest of time, I ended up cutting out five pages of the planned speech–an entire decade of my experience founding and running Fine Line Features. There is some interesting information in here about the politics of theatrical exhibition, and how that relates to the success of Sony Classics. 

All you wanted to know about the BMCC & BMPCC from Joao LCD. on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lens Testing continued - Resources

As I previously mentioned, I haven't really done any serious lens testing before, so I've been doing some research on the topic. So far I've found the following references/resources:

Lens flares | Too Much Information
All lenses were at their wides aperture and pointed to a 500W spot light that was about 4 meters away. I shot the tests on Sony NEX-FS700. The only colour correction I did on the footage is set the shadows and highlights to 0 and 100 IRE respectively.

Controlled, comparative, repetitive & meaningful bokeh tests | pbase
The distance for the main object was 0.5m for all 50mm lenses, and 1m for 105mm Sigma (with and without TC) and Sigma 50-500. White christmass bulbs were at 3m distance. Object shot (HO steam model loco) was chosen for huge contrast, tiny details and very shiny parts that provoke easily CA and blooming. That way one can nicely judge other lens qualities besides bokeh.

What the Heck is Bokeh? | Rick Denney
Test conditions include a near item that would serve as a focus target. A far item would provide a sampling of out-of-focus details to provide the comparison. There were three test scenarios. The first is a wine bottle used as a focus target, with a crystal wine glass and crystal candlestick in the background. The facets of the crystal provides a range of out-of-focus highlights.

Test your lens’ sharpness | Digital Camera World
The best way to test your lens sharpness is to use a test card, like the one we’ve used here. To get ready to test your lens, you need to ensure that your camera back is parallel with the chart, and the middle of the lens is aligned with the chart’s centre point. The chart also needs to be evenly lit.

About Lens Distortion | The Digital Picture
Ideally, a lens will render straight lines as straight. Reality is that many lenses are not perfect and straight lines are rendered with a curve. The amount of curve can be vastly different from lens to lens and from focal length to focal length within the same lens.

Barrel Distortion & Pincushion Distortion | DPReview

'Everything' articles (including MTF and Contrast)

How To Test A Lens | Prime-junta
There are two sets of characteristics that you need to consider when examining a lens: build and optical. The build characteristics are too often ignored, although in my opinion they have much more of an immediate impact on photography than the optical ones -- they can either get or lose you the shot, while the optical quality only determines how the picture looks once it's in the box. And personally, I'd rather have the shot with a slightly lower quality than miss it altogether.

How to Test a Lens | Roger Cicala | Lens Rentals
There are several levels of testing and examination one can do. The simplest is go take some pictures and see if they look okay. This works well, and has the advantage of getting to take pictures, but has some shortcomings, too. First, you may not notice a problem until it is too late to return or exchange the lens. Second, if something is wrong, simple photographs don’t usually determine what kind of problem the lens has. This lens is soft is a good article title, but not a good description of a problem.

Everyone is likely to be familiar with the concept of image resolution, but unfortunately, too much emphasis is often placed on this single metric. Resolution only describes how much detail a lens is capable of capturing — and not necessarily the quality of the detail that is captured. Other factors therefore often contribute much more to our perception of the quality and sharpness of a digital image.

Photozone Lens Test FAQ | Photozone
The test procedure follows the IMATEST guidelines. Imatest is a software tool that analyses various image aspects. The testing procedure is actually quite simple - in principal at least - you're taking sample images of test charts. There're three variants of charts:

Lens testing resources | Norman Koren
Links to a bunch of things, and info about creating a lens test chart

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Quick Links

Foreign Incentives Help Crush Once-Booming F/X Biz in U.S. | Variety
While the city’s vfx business may not be entirely lifeless, it’s certainly bleeding out. It was severely wounded by several factors: failure to organize when it could; globalization; low labor costs abroad; and most of all, foreign subsidies. Chances are it will survive only as a much-weakened remnant.

Video: An Inside Look at Storyboarding with the Coen Brothers' Storyboard Artist | No Film School
It’s my job to get what’s inside a director’s head on the paper. It’s not my job to create the shot. It’s my job to interpret their language into a visual language. It’s very important that I get as close to the image that’s in their brain on the paper, so that everybody when they walk on the set is making the same movie — they’re not all imagining what’s going on.

The Costs of Working with 2K and 4K Uncompressed Footage | wolf crow
As you can see, the costs of storing uncompressed footage goes out of hand quite quickly – and this is for just one copy of the footage! If you take backups into consideration, and multiple files moving between visual effects companies you can clearly see how a 4K movie can go into the millions just in storage costs.

Camera Comparison: Arri Alexa - Red Mx - Canon 7D - Sony F65 - Sony FS700 - Canon C300 | Cinema5d
Ever wondered how the Canon 7D REALLY looks like next to an Arri Alexa or Sony F65? This video brings you the answer.
We took these shots from our extensive Beauty Filter Test which we will publish tomorrow and placed them side by side so you can get a feeling for how the cameras compare in the studio setup we had. Note that this is not a thorough camera review, but just an opportunity to watch the same high detail, high dynamic range scene on these 6 cameras with the same high quality PL lens and the same lighting, graded professionally to match.

Sony News

Viewfinder connector protector and microphone mount for PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 | XDCAM User
An accessory for the Sony PMW-F5/F55 created suing a 3D printer:
The bracket was made using a 3D printer and I shall be producing a slightly more refined version for sale in the next week. The production versions will be 3D printed in black ABS plastic and then chemically toughened. The ABS is very strong anyway and one of the great things about 3D printed parts is that they can be made hollow, so they are extremely light.The target price is $45.

4,000 Reasons Why I Like The FS700 | Erik Bragg | Sony Pro
I used a SmallHD AC7-SDI monitor to make sure I wasn’t blowing it in 4K. With a giant, detailed image, it’s obvious if your focus is off. Focus features and false color buttons keep it clean, simple, and fast. Although sometimes I wondered if the false color feature was working because it was so hard to find anything around me that the latitude of my new pet beast couldn’t handle.

NEW Firmware update v1.22 for F5 and F55 | Sony
We are releasing an important update for the F5, and F55 cameras. v1.22 addresses an issue found in the HDCAM SR File recording codec during play back.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera News

Is the Blackmagic Pocket Camera Up to the Task? | In the Field with Redrock Micro
Initially, I thought it would make a good B-cam to my 2.5K EF, but I didn't anticipate how often I would find myself taking it out with me just to 'capture footage' of what we may be doing. Being so portable, it really lends itself to that and really doesn't draw attention to itself. Or, you can choose to rig it up for a more 'production' type environment with all the bells and whistles if that's what you're doing.

Theoretical Light Sensitivity of the Pocket Cinema Camera | ruben kremer
If we consider each individual pixel on the sensor as a sensor of its own - the camera with the largest sensors is actually the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. It's pixels are 1,4% bigger than those of the Canon 5D Mark II and 52% bigger than the pixels on the 550D/T2i. So theoretically, solely based on the numbers - the BMPCC should theoretically have a better light sensitivity than practically all DSLR's on the market today.

FilmConvert Grading Test - Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera | Ruben Kremer | vimeo
The last grading test I'll be doing (publicly) with John Brawley's Pocket Cinema Camera footage. This time around a grade which was meant to be a quick grade but took several hours to put together. It's done using FilmConvert with basic settings and using the 'Blackmagic Cinema Camera Film' profile. Nothing was done to the original footage before applying the FilmConvert filter in Premiere Pro CC.

a pocket home video | Philip Bloom | vimeo
i really wanted to try out my vintage Angenieux 17.5-70mm zoom as well as an OIS lens on the camera. The 14-140mm kit lens. Plus I had dug out my old wooden "rifle butt" shoulder support from my 8mm bolex. This way I could get more stable shots and lose that fine vibration that mars the camera without a rig or IS.

Well worth watching

Editing for Rhythm and Pacing lecture from Kurt Lancaster on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Quick Links

Upcoming Free webinar : Storytelling from Indie to 3D with Avid Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock Shares His Secrets
Thursday, August 29, 201311 am PT / 2 pm ET
Acclaimed filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and producer Jeremy Chilnick recently completed One Direction: This Is Us—a highly anticipated film that combines 3D concert footage with Morgan’s trademark documentary style.
See how an Avid workflow helps Morgan and Jeremy collaborate
Get a behind-the-scenes tour of their creative working environment
Learn the storytelling secrets behind Morgan’s success
Get your questions answered in a live Q&A with Morgan

Be Natural: Interview with documentary filmmakers Pamela Green and Jarik van Sluijs | Michael Murie | Filmmaker Magazine
If somebody thinks that they know the story that they are going to tell at the beginning, they better think again, because once they look at the footage it becomes something completely different.

If you're interested in the DJI Phantom Quadcopter you'll want to check out this site as he does things with FPV (video transmitters from the camera) and brushless gimbals:
Today, I put together a new DJI Phantom with the goal of integrating a brushless gimbal and FPV transmitter in the cleanest, tightest package I could manage.

First Look - Luxi Incident Metering Attachment for iPhones | ProVideoCoalition
A quick look at a $30 piece of plastic that turns your iPhone into an incident meter:
It's early days yet; I've only done some informal testing, but it does look like Luxi is useful for serious work – with the caveat that Luxi is a passive diffuser and thus it's totally dependent on the accuracy of both the camera hardware and the application software used with it. Using Pocket Light Meter, I had more consistent results on my iPhone 5 than I did on my iPod touch 4G

A Landscape Of Lies: the inside story of a blockbuster tax scam | The Guardian
A movie created to cover up a huge, fake, tax write-off:
By this stage, a more experienced film-maker might have become suspicious. What producers of a £130m animation would offer it to a low-budget director they'd just met? And if they had £130m, why were they making a film for just £100,000?

Runaway Production: TV Drama Spreads Out All Over the Map | Variety
The Golden State is steadily losing ground in the sector that is the single-largest driver of long-term production employment in the biz — high-end drama shows that have the potential to run for years. This decline has occurred at a time when the overall number of hour-long series in production has exploded, thanks to the growing appetite for original programming on cable, and now even digital platforms.

The best FCPX multicam demo I’ve ever seen! Ben Consoli presents at the BOSCPUG | FCP.Co
In the presentation, Ben shows how quickly a 3-camera live event can be edited, graded and mixed using the tools in FCPX. He uses a real job too which always helps to show up the advantages and disadvantages within the NLE as prepackaged demo footage is just too prepackaged and clean.

Real life editing experiences with a MacBook Air and Final Cut Pro X | FCP.Co
The article that we published on the rendering problem with FCPX running on a MacBook Air certainly stirred up quite a bit of feeling in the community. It was interesting as the mail we received was split down the middle. Half criticised us for bashing the MBA and the other half praised us for not being 'complete Apple fanbois.' (Not our words or spelling we hasten to add!)
So we decided to contact everybody who had posted a comment or had emailed in saying they were editing on a MBA and asked them to share their thoughts and experiences.

Editing Video in Mid-Air with the Leap Motion Controller | ProVideoCoalition's clear that the Leap is capable of tracking very small, precise and subtle gestures, so I look forward to the day when that kind of capability is available more broadly. Right now, Leap video editing is less Minority Report and more waving your arms around in front of your computer trying to make things happen than you can do more easily with the tools you already have.

filmbot | Instagram
A fun picture of the new Blackmagic Design Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera:
It makes me laugh #Zeiss 35mm on #bmpcc looks great but still funny #bmpc #blackmagic #digitalcinema

This is for the beginner; what you need to know about working with your camera to become a pro:

New Sony E-Mount Lenses

As expected, Sony announced three new E-mount lenses (useful for the NEX-FS100, NEX-FS700, NEX-EA50 and NEX-VG30 video cameras.)

The first lens isn't really a new lens. The Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens (Black) ($298) appears to be just the existing silver lens in a black covering; which will look a lot better on those black video cameras!

The second lens (above) is the Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens ($998). It includes Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, and is probably a very nice lens, though it will probably appeal more to still photographers.

The last lens is the Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens ($598). This will probably be of most interest to those with E-mount video cameras because it includes Optical Image Stabilization, a constant f/4 maximum aperture, Internal zoom and focus design to maintain a constant lens length with a non-rotating front element, and powered zoom: The internal zoom operation utilizes Handycam technology and a floating axis design to help reduce noise during use and provide smooth, controlled zooming.
It's also about 1/3 lighter than the Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 PZ OSS Alpha E-mount Lens ($1,198). It could be a very attractive alternative to the 18-200mm (which is an okay lens, but I don't like the way it extends as you zoom, and the lack of fixed aperture.)

Here's the feature list for the 18-105mm:

The Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens is a wide-ranging zoom lens that provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 27-158mm, covering wide-angle to telephoto perspectives. A constant f/4 maximum aperture offers consistent performance throughout the zoom range and is especially beneficial when working with greater zoom magnifications in low-light conditions. Also benefitting working in dim light or at the long end of the zoom range is Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, which works to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to four shutter speed steps.

The optical construction incorporates two extra-low dispersion elements and three aspherical elements to minimize distortion and chromatic aberrations while also contributing to sharper overall imagery with enhanced contrast and clarity. The internal zoom operation utilizes Handycam technology and a floating axis design to help reduce noise during use and provide smooth, controlled zooming. A zoom lever is also integrated into the lens' design for easier control over the speed of zooming with both variable and fixed-speed settings. Additionally, a separate manual focusing ring is available to provide versatile handling in regard to setting both the focus and zoom positions simultaneously.

  • Zoom lens provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 27-158mm, covering wide-angle to telephoto perspectives.
  • Constant f/4 maximum aperture enables greater consistency throughout the zoom range and benefits working in dim conditions with longer focal lengths.
  • Optical SteadyShot image stabilization works to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to four shutter speed steps to benefit shooting handheld in dim lighting and with greater zoom magnifications.
  • Two extra-low dispersion elements and three aspherical elements helps to reduce chromatic aberrations and distortion throughout the zoom range while also contributing to overall image sharpness and clarity.
  • Handycam technology is used, along with a floating axis design, to provide smooth, quiet zooming performance that is well-suited to movie recording.
  • Internal zoom and focus design helps to maintain a constant lens length with a non-rotating front element to support use of polarizing filters.
  • Zoom lever allows greater control over the speed of zoom using either variable or fixed-speed settings.
  • Separate, dedicated focusing ring permits direct manipulation of focus and gives way to separate power zoom and manual focus controls for greater precision.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Quick Links

Camera Drone crashes into crowd – malfunction or pilot error? | planet5D
Well, this is bothersome, as I'm thinking seriously about getting one of these things...
In the video below, you see there appears to be a ‘contour‘ kind of camera (small cylindrical camera somewhat like the goPro) and suddenly, it alters angle and dives right into the crowd… the gentleman filming shouts that it hit some man in the face.planet5D has so much to offer

Colour Grading with LUT’s in Premiere | James Miller | Philip Bloom
Getting Started: It’s Important to load adjust layers in the right order. Sometimes if you’re using too many adjustments, you may cut some weird clipping issues. In this example case of Philip’s ‘Hiding Place’, I started by marking the cuts as I was not working with the native edit. Although I still do lots of grading to locked down edits that have been supplied as Prores masters.

How to convert your dslr to a pinhole camera | Behind The Shutter
I wonder how this works with video? - maybe for timelapse...
Now, you might be wondering why in the world I would want to do this. Well, I am always looking for new ways to do something a little different and stand out from the crowd. Obviously, pinhole cameras are nothing new. but, could I modernize it and use it in my wedding and portrait business? See, the allure of a film based pinhole camera was not that tempting. I felt like that would be riddle with issues. I mean, how in the world would I know if I got the shot, or if I was even pointing the camera in the right direction?

Interview: Will Simmons | Go Into The Story
Will Simmons made a splash when he wrote the 2012 Black List script “Murder City” which was subsequently acquired by Aldamisa Entertainment. He also has two other projects in the works: “Romeo,” a modern day re-imagining of Shakespeare’s play, and “Defenders,” a science fiction thriller pitch bought by Warner Bros in June 2013 based upon a Hugo Award-winning novel.

The NLE that wouldn’t die II | Oliver Peters | digitalfilms
I’ve been cutting all manner of projects in FCP X since the beginning and am currently using it on a feature film. I augment it in lots of ways with plug-ins and utilities, so I’m about as deep into FCP X workflows as anyone out there. Yet, there are very few projects in which I don’t touch some aspect of Final Cut Studio to help get the job done.

Why it’s OK to fire difficult clients | F-Stop Academy
Film making takes huge effort, hours and days of pre production, planning, costs, people, time, expensive equipment, sweat and tears…let me ask you this…Should a customer spending £995 be treated the same as someone spending £50?

Chinese rig maker Movcam have been extremely busy showing off lots of new rigs at the BIRTV show in Beijing this week.Most interesting were the new cage options for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera (BMPCC) and the new quick release baseplates for cameras like the Canon 1D C, C300 and various Sony’s.

John Brawley@brawlster | Twitter
Alexa and two pocket cinema cameras on a carmount.

(SR5) Full E-mount zoom lens specs | SonyAlphaRumors
Spec of 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS Vario-Tesser T * E- 16 lenses in 12 groups
Spec of 18-105mm F4 G OSS E PZ- 16 lenses in 12 groups

Kevin Spacey urges TV channels to give control to viewers