Saturday, January 04, 2014

Interesting Clips

This is disappointing: it seems that the Sony 18-105mm lens suffers from some pretty severe distortion (at least on video cameras)

But Cory Shubert tried it on his NEX-VG20, and thinks the problem isn't so severe:

A webinar from Imagineer Systems covering planar tracking stabilization techniques with Mocha.

Shooting with the MoVI and the Sony NEX-FS100 and using the Sony 10-18 lens:

Another effort at color grading the Blackmagic 4K camera footage:


ARRI Amira update (sort of)
Back at the IBC show ARRI announced a new digital documentary camera, the Amira. It would be based on the sensor of the original Alexa, but other than that, ARRI was rather cagey about what it would cost or even when it would ship.

But they have been showing prototypes and gathering opinions from users. According to Den Lennie, he and Rodney Charters got a demo of one of only three prototype cameras last week. Part of the demo took place at Britain's oldest pub.

OWC Confirms Mac Pro 2013 Processor Upgradeable | OWC
We got our hands on an Intel E5-2667 V2 8-core 3.30GHz with 25MB Cache processor, installed it in the new Mac Pro and have done some benchmarking to get an early look at the performance vs. the stock Apple / Intel E5-1650 V2 6-core 3.50GHz with 12MB Cache model. 

Thunderbolt 2 is NOT twice the speed of Thunderbolt 1 | Red Shark News
It turns out that the main difference between the two Thunderbolts is that version 2 has channel bonding and full DisplayPort 1.2, for full 4K video support. Whereas Thunderbolt 1 has 4 independent 10 Gb/s channels, Thunderbolt 2 combines these to give 2 20 Gb/s bidirectional channels. This leads to more efficient transfers, with less overhead, but the total bandwidth is unchanged.

Thoughts on Editing with FCP X 10.1 | Larry Jordan
The feature I like the most about Final Cut Pro X 10.1 is that Apple is committed to the program. They did not need to add all the features they did, nor as fast as they did. In fact, they could kill the entire program and not lose one iPhone sale. The fact they keep improving the program, and talking to users about what more they need to do, is a huge reassurance to me.

When movies don't let the facts get in the way of a good story | Los Angeles Times
Several news organizations now examine the accuracy of big releases as if they were campaign advertisements, and it's not just biographies that are subject to strict scrutiny. Even the makers of the fictional thriller "Gravity" have been forced to explicate their scientific research.

Friday, January 03, 2014

More on Letus Anamorphic adapter for GoPro Hero

Letus posted the following to their Facebook page about the new anamorphic adapter for the GoPro that they teaser yesterday:

Letus AnamorphX-GP (left), Letus AnamorphX for 35mm lenses (right)

Here's a few specs for the AnamorphX-GP:

  • 1.33x squeeze factor
  • Custom CNC aluminum housing
  • Use the GoPro 3+ waterproof housing for mounting. The adapter replaces the waterproof lens housing element. The unit will retain waterproof property.
  • In 1080 mode, when the Letus AnamorphX-GP is attached, it will convert the 16:9 aspect ratio into 2.39:1 aspect ratio without the need for cropping (post production de-squeeze is required).
  • In super-view mode the GoPro records in 4:3 aspect ratio and digitally stretch the image into 16:9 aspect ratio (dynamic stretching: The center of the image is kept same but the outer of the image is progressively stretched outward and that is what causes the distortion, especially on the edges. This is why GoPro does not recommend shooting people on the edges in superview mode for the distortion will make people on the side look much fatter than they really are. When use with the Letus AnamorphX-GP, the extra 1.33 field of view will then create a 16:9 image that compensate for this digital stretch. As a result, the GoPro in super-view mode with Letus AnamorphX-GP yields a true 16:9 image where you can see people (objects) on the edges to have a more normal aspect (not stretched). You can use the 16:9 images in superview mode with the Letus AnamorphX-GP adapter as is and will not need to be de-squeezed in post. 

I must admit, I'm intrigued. And if I read this correctly, when shooting in regular 16:9 mode, you get an anamorphic image (you have to de-squeeze it in post to get the correctly sized image.) But if you have the GoPro shoot in the 4:3 Super-view mode (which is a new feature of the Hero3+ Black), it actually sort of fixes the distortion of the resulting image (which is stretched to 16:9.) That's kind of interesting.

UPDATE: It's priced at $199 and expected in about three weeks according to News Shooter.

UPDATE 2 (Jan 4) : Letus now has a product page with more details, price ($199) and expected availability. No sample footage yet.

Anamorphic for the GoPro, Mac Pro reviews, Hardware & Software, Work/Life Balance

Letus Corporation @letus35
Letus Tweeted this interesting idea yesterday; an anamorphic adapter for the GoPro Hero!
Introducing the newest member of Letus Anamorphic Club: 1.33x anamorphic lens adapter for @GoPro 

Mac Pro Reviews

Mac Pro, Final Cut Pro X 10.1, and five streams of native R3D | Philip Hodgetts
Benchmarks, schmenchmarks: this is the performance I care about. Bottom line: multiple stream native RED 4K editing without proxies is practical if you have the storage speed.

The New Mac Pro: Ridiculously Fast | Larry Jordan
Here’s the speed of the Mac Pro talking directly with its internal flash drive. Holy smokes! I have never measured speeds this fast — BUT, even this speed does not fully load a single Thunderbolt 1 pipe. The new Thunderbolt 2 protocol, which the Mac Pro also supports, is more than twice as fast as the internal flash drive.

The Mac Pro Review (Late 2013) | AnandTech
Cheaper to build your own, but would it look as sexy?
The DIY PC route is still going to be more affordable. If we go the Ivy Bridge E route and opt for a Core i7-4930K, you get more cores than either of the options above for around $600 for the CPU. Adding in another $330 for a motherboard, $180 for 12GB of DDR3-1866 memory, $1400 for two W7000 GPUs and $220 for a fast SATA SSD (Samsung 840 Pro) we’re at $2730 for a configuration that would cost at least $3499 from Apple.

Hardware & Software

Center Crop Mode for Super 16 Lenses now Available on the Sony F5 and F55 | B & H Photo
The Center Crop Mode is one of the highlights of the new v3.0 update. The new feature takes a crop from the center of the 4K Super35 sensor, making it possible to use Super 16mm lenses and shoot in XAVC HD, XAVC 2K, SStP, and 2K RAW. RED cameras have had this feature for years, and it’s something I’ve always felt the F5 and F55 had been missing. 

Back To ListingsRSSPrint Beachtek DXA-SLR PRO audio interface review part 2: with Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera | Pro Video Coalition
The Beachtek DXA-SLR is $439:
Prior to doing this test, I discussed with Beachtek about how to adjust the input of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera when used with the DXA-SLR PRO, given the fact that (at least as of publication time of this article), there are no internal audio meters in this camera. Beachtek stated that with the current firmware, we should be setting the camera input to maximum input for best results.

A 4K monitor for $419?!
Tiger Direct has a Seiki 39" Class 2160p 120Hz LED Ultra HDTV Bundle for $519, but have a $100 rebate of some kind going on at the moment:
  • 39-inch (38.5-in. Diagonal) direct lit LED backlight
  • 120Hz refresh for 1,080p signals, and 30Hz for 4K signals
  • 3840x2160 panel resolution
  • 300-350 cd/m2 Brightness
  • 6.5 rms response time

top After Effects feature requests of 2013, plus a peek at what we’re thinking about for the near future | Adobe
Make it faster: We don’t get all that many feature requests that use the exact words “Make it faster”, but a large number of requests do ask for essentially this in more specific terms.

Film editing stages – Sound | Oliver Peters
A definition of terms and techniques:
The deliverable requirements for most TV shows and features are to create a so-called composite mix (in several variations), along with separate stems for dialogue, sound effects and music. A stem is a submix of just a group of component items, such as a stereo stem for only dialogue.The combination of the stems should equal the mix.

Work/Life Balance

The abundance of slowness | Content Creators & Curators
2. Stop trying to be a hero. Commit to a schedule you can sustain and tasks you can complete without killing yourself. No one will go into cardiac arrest if you turn down a project.

The Trouble With Overtime | CG Masters
My numbers show me that artists on a sustained 10-hour schedule will be able to accomplish about 5.5 hours of task per 11 hours of pay. Congratulations to me, I have managed to double the cost of making visual effects and slow down production, exactly the opposite of what I should be doing.


8 Things The Film Biz Can Learn From The Music Biz | Truly Free Film
Part Three: “We’ve turned into a nation of grazers. And the artist’s job is to constantly be at the smorgasbord. Not to deliver one big meal that is picked at and thrown away, but to constantly provide tantalizing bites to the public.”

The Desolation of NZ: Government Bails Out US Producers Again | VFX Soldier
Then in 2011, the US studios showed up again. This time they tried to take advantage of emergency legislation needed to help Christchurch earthquake victims by attaching bills that would grant them the power without due process to disconnect internet access of anyone they suspect of piracy.

Shia Labeouf: “Should God sue me if I paint a river?" | Film Drunk
Hot on the heels of his apology in the clouds, Shia Labeouf has provided additional proof that he should probably shut up for a while. The Beef recently did an email interview with BleedingCool, in which he asserted that “authorship is censorship” in a series of misspelled missives when asked to defend his plagiarism.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Quick Links

An initial look at the Digital Bolex D-16 | Philip Bloom
First impressions, some sample footage, and a short video shot on the new Digital Bolex:
Absolutely no moire or aliasing that I have seen. Zero, zlich.
A very filmic image, more so than the BMD Pocket Camera. It really has a proper S16mm look to it, not just a S16mm sized sensor.

Rain City: Initial shooting with the Digital Bolex D-16 from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Philip compares the Digital Bolex to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, so here's another review of that:

Taking a look at the Pocket Cinema Camera from Blackmagic Design. Is this the perfect camera for low budget filmmakers? It's a quirky little camera that packs a big punch, but there are some set backs to be aware of.

Sony CineAlta 4K F-Series Webinar | Sony
You can watch this 48 minute webinar; but you have to give them an email address to see it:
What is the Digital Motion Picture Centre Europe and how you can make the best of this place to learn, test workflows and meet our experts.
The latest amazing updates of our F5 and F55 CineAlta Cameras
Meet Steve Lawes and hear his feedback and experience when shot "Earth Air Fire Water", first 240fps short movie on the F55.

Center Scan vs Full scan test with same on the Sony F55 | Community Sony
Conclusions: Center Scan mode at first does not seem as sharp as the Full Scan mode but from my tests I can attest that the center scan mode does not suffer from any aliasing or other types of articating which is GREAT news.

As I’ve become a more network-focussed photographer, I’ve come to love using the smartphone as an editing surface; touch is perfect for photo manipulation. There’s a tactility that is lost when you edit with a mouse on a desktop computer. Perhaps touch feels natural because it’s a return to the chemical-filled days of manually poking and massaging liquid and paper to form an image I had seen in my head.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

It's New Year's Day

It's the New Year, and I should do a year in review piece, but I already did that for Filmmaker. And I just want to point out that I did 2014K a day before RedShark News published their piece on why this will the year of 4K.

Not yet convinced that this will be the year of 4K? Canon just dropped the price of the C500 down to $20K. For the next three days you can buy it for $16,999 at B & H thanks to $3,000 in instant savings.

If that's still too rich for you, the C100 is now $4,999....makes you wonder what will be coming at NAB...

Meanwhile, Kai at DigitalRev takes a look at the retro Nikon Df DSLR, and doesn't like it at all (and it doesn't even do video!)

Here's an example of color grading, using SLog2 4K footage from the Sony F55. And here's a really interesting video showing the effect of moving the positions of your lights.

Amazing video of a brushless gimbal (the MoVI?) doing it's thing.

The Playlist has a list of the 15 best documentaries of the year, but didn't include The Crash Reel.

Meanwhile, looking for something to read? The Village Voice asks 'Who is Kickstarter for, anyway?" and wonders whether celebs should be using crowdfunding to make their films. I think we already had that discussion earlier in the year, but it's probably worth revisiting.

And if you're looking to change careers, maybe the exciting world of Location Scouting is worth looking at?

Earlier in the year someone joked to me that a cheap way to rent a camera is to hire someone with no experience who has gear and is willing to work for practically nothing. You get the camera at a discount price and it comes with someone to schlep it around! Just don't let them actually operate the camera.
So I found this tweet from Matt Jeppsen kind of amusing, quoting from some job posting he come across: “Looking for DP for a couple low budget commercial shoots. Rate $300-450/day. MUST come with Epic or Scarlet & lens package.” That's actually cheaper than you'd pay to rent a RED Epic on it's own (never mind lenses.)

The New Year is a time for reflection, so read this piece from Jonah Kessel at News Shooter, who is trying to stop working so much and get his life in balance.

Finally, in 2011 Neil Gaiman made a simple wish for everyone; "I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things..."

Happy New Year

H A P P Y    N E W
Y E A R !

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quick Links

Color Correcting Video in Photoshop | Photofocus
You’ll learn how to color correct and grade your sequence.  You’ll learn how to refine the color and exposure of video footage. You’ll also learn how to use Lookup Tables in order to quickly apply a style to several clips.  The Photoshop editing interface is easy to learn and master.

Credit Suisse: Only Canon, Nikon and Sony will survive in the digital camera market | Sony Alpha Rumors
“Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last – and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fulfil that criteria,” said Credit Suisse analyst Yoshida.

The new Hobbit movie saw Weta Digital make Smaug larger than a 747 in one scene yet use GoPros in another | Pocket Lint
That said, the scene where Smaug chases Bilbo about the mountain of treasure is jaw-dropping and obviously took a lot of work. Yet the barrel escape scene seems more straight forward. That intricate blend of 4K footage and GoPro shots is thanks to Weta.

The Run for 4K is also the Run for your Future Audience! | Daniel Freytag
There's a certain audience that will notice the higher quality and there's also an audience that thinks their analog TV looks 'pretty good'. Over the time the former group will most likely become larger. The generation that the old one's call 'digital natives' does see a difference between a basic camcorder and an HD image with a shallow DoF. That's probably why the DSLR hype was so popular amongst most YouTubers.

The problem with most LED lights (and not just the 1×1 style) is that they tend to give quite a harsh light. Instead of the light coming from one single source LED lights rely on lots of small bulbs to create a larger source.

The Ray-traced 3D renderer in After Effects | ProVideoCoalition
A big addition to After Effects CS6 was the introduction of a Ray-traced 3D composition renderer that handles reflections, transparency, index of refraction, environment maps, in addition to the existing material options. Today in Creative Cloud CC, the chief limitation is still render time, but there's set-up advice for those willing to endure the obstacles for the lovely renders.

The Myth of Fair Use — Students & Emerging Pros Beware | Photofocus
I’ve had several photographer friends try to justify to me that they can use copyrighted music in their slideshows.  That it’s acceptable.  Other times, the shoe is on the other foot… as those same photographers explain how their rights are being violated by websites.

How to Guide Your Audience: A Masterclass in Storytelling Through Editing | No Film School
Jordan and Hollyn begin their talk by demonstrating this, as well as explaining a few basics tenets of aesthetic theory. To quickly explain, elements inside the frame catch the viewer’s attention using several different kinds of aesthetic energy:  light, color, space, motion, brightness, focus, etc.

30 Great Movie In-Jokes You Probably Didn’t Notice | Taste of Cinema
The In-Joke: Ray Stantz comes bursting out of the haunted house, looking distinctly shaken. “Who you gonna call?” he muses. “Someone else!”
Why It’s Great: It’s actually Dan Aykroyd, decked out in full Ghostbusters regalia, right down to the “Stantz” label on his chest. How’s that for a cameo?

I had tried to run my MKE600, Tascam DR-100 and a lav mic straight to the BMPCC with no luck. But this works, costs only 70 Bucks and gives you audio meters!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The News

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Review – Final Part | EOSHD
Audio is the only major weakness of the camera. The internal pre-amps are poor, the circuits are noisy, monitoring it is tricky and there’s hardly any audio features.
But considering how much hassle, manpower, time and expense is saved with other areas using the Pocket in a pure directing sense like a viewfinder with a record button, it isn’t much to ask to have a sound guy on location with you.

An Examination of the RED DRAGON Initial Impressions | Timur Civan
Thats when I realised the difference.   I thought my MX was broken….  It just looked …. old.  Its a funny thing with technology, you don’t notice an improvement  as being that huge until you take a step backwards in generation.  I love the current MX, but I just met its successful, smarter, hotter, younger sister.

Cine-EI Mode when recording S-Log2/3 and raw on the F5 and F55 | XDCAM-User
Prior to version 3 of the F5 and F55 firmware, Cine-EI was only available in raw mode with the R5 recorder attached. Now from version 3 onwards Cine-EI operation can be selected in both raw and non raw modes. You no longer need to have the R5 attached to use Cine-EI. EI stands for “Exposure Index”.

For Shooting “The Big Bang Theory” And “Mom”, DP Steven Silver, ASC Switches to “Panavised” Sony F55s | HD Video Pro
For Mom, the desire for a filmic look was one reason for choosing the F55 and its larger, 35mm sensor. The F55’s other attributes include a native ISO of 1250, which can result in less image noise with similar lighting scenarios. The S-log2 format is also a key component, recording a richer image with higher dynamic range and greater latitude.

Micro Four Thirds Format for Filmmakers | B & H
The Micro Four Thirds system, with a sensor size equivalent to a 4/3-inch video tube, allows filmmakers to achieve a shallow depth of field that is cinematic and less like video, yet is also versatile and easy to focus. Shooting on 35mm or the digital equivalent sensor means as shallow and selective focus as possible, but it also means that keeping the image in focus can be a real challenge.

First Impressions of Final Cut Pro X 10.1 | No Film School
Audio mixing still does not compare to what all one can do in Premiere. For concerts, we have a professional mix all of our audio out of program and deliver a finished and mixed .WAV file. The integration with Logic Pro X in the previous release of FCP X is nice, but still leaves much to be desired.

10 Dos and 10 Don’ts for Beginner Directors | It's A 1st AD Thing
DON’T get frantic. This is a big no-no. If your assistant director is not worried about time, then you shouldn’t be either. It’s not your job to worry about those things. It’s your job to get the movie done.

I made the film below using my Canon S110 with no accessories and using the built-in mic. As always with a camera like this, exposure, sound and focus always cause problems. I filmed interviews so close to the interviewee that the sound would pick up. I also had to be careful what backdrop I used because the camera’s auto exposure isn’t great and will hunt a lot before it is happy.

As Hollywood Filming Spreads Out Globally, California Loses | Huffington Post
In the old days, filmmakers flocked to Hollywood for its abundant sunshine, beautiful people and sandy beaches. But today a new filmmaking diaspora is spreading across the globe to places like Vancouver, London and Wellington, New Zealand.

Unlocking Your Inner Movie Director (and Editor) | The New York Times
The difference between good video and poor video often comes down to stability and lighting. While hand-held video on your smartphone is fine for many situations, often it is too shaky, which can lead to distracting, unusable footage.

Animography - Animated fonts.
I posted a link to this a while back, but I still find them intriguing.

Philip Bloom is playing with the Digital Bolex and he posted a sample file, which was graded by RA VisualWorks here:

Deal of the Day | Amazon
Up to 60% Off Select SanDisk Memory
Today only, enjoy special savings on select microSD cards, SD cards, USB flash drives and solid-state drives from SanDisk. Amazon Gold Box

Sunday, December 29, 2013

North by Northwest architecture

I saw a link to "Minimalist Posters Depict The Architecture of 13 Classic Films" and immediately scanned through them to see if the house from North by Northwest was amongst the chosen ones. And of course, there it was:

But wait! There's something wrong!

Firstly, it's pictured from the opposite side of the house to that seen in the movie. That feels a bit wrong because you never see that side of the house in the move; I guess that does give the artist some extra room to play given that the house doesn't exist.

Still, there's definitely some problems compared to the "actual house;" for example, in the poster the front section of the house is at the same level as the back section, but in the movie it appears to be lower than the back section, though that could be an optical illusion.

More troubling is the placement of the stone structure next to the end of the front section of the house (the red line in the image above). If you compare it to the poster, the artist seems to have placed a stone column on the opposite side of the house at the same location - relative to the "front" of the house - as the column on the visible side of the house.

The problem with that is that if you look at shots of the interior of the house, you'll see that there is actually a fireplace on the opposite side of the house that extends further towards the front of the house.

This can be seen in the following images; first the left-hand side of the room, with the stone wall, windows, and first wooden column.

Note the location of the rug, which is just forward of the end of the stone column on the left-hand side of the room. Looking at the right-hand side of the room (below) there is a fireplace that extends further along that wall, well past the end of the rug.

The width of the fireplace can be seen very clearly from this angle:

So I think the poster is wrong!

But perhaps most troubling of all, is that I actually noticed this, and bothered pointing it out.

Soon I'll be writing about how Han shot first!