Showing posts from 2008

Canon 5D Mark II Notes

DVinfo continues to be a good source of information for those playing with their new Canon 5D Mark II’s Josh Dahlberg notes issues with aliasing and the rolling shutter : …with the default settings, aliasing and moire patterns can be nasty (you don't need to hunt for artifacts, they pop out when complex geometric patterns or horizontal lines are in focus). However, after turning sharpness down a few notches, I didn't notice any problems at all with today's footage (shot in a variety of contexts) […] I shot using a monopod and lenses ranging from 24mm to 135mm […] Anything over 50mm IMHO requires a tripod or steadycam as rolling shutter bites hard with even the slightest jerk. Having said that, rolling shutter is not an issue with smooth, controlled movements. John Fairhurst offers these tips for managing rolling shutter : Pan the camera only one direction per cut. No back and fourths. Use wider lenses for faster moves. The skew will blend with the lens distortion, which pe

YouTube Hypes HD

I wish they'd up the length of clip you can upload (still limited to 10 minutes) but it's cool that they are YouTube is now supporting HD: YouTube pushes HD video, new landing pages They have a page with details on optimizing video . Resolution Recommended: 1290 x 720 (16x9 HD) and 640 x 480 (4:3 SD) Bit rate: No recommended or minimum value Frame rate: The frame rate of the original video should be maintained without re-sampling. Pulldown and other frame rate re-sampling techniques are strongly discouraged. Codec: H.264, MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 preferred. Audio Codec: MP3 or AAC preferred Sampling rate: 44.1kHz Channels 2: Stereo

Canon 5D Mk II Dark Spot Issue

Canon has announced that they are looking into the black spot issue on the new Canon 5D Mark II. We have learned that some users of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR camera have identified two types of image quality phenomena that appear under certain shooting conditions. * “Black dot” phenomenon (the right side of point light sources becomes black) * Vertical banding noise We are currently investigating and analysing the causes, and examining measures to reduce or eliminate these phenomena by providing correction firmware. An announcement will be made on as soon as measures have been determined. A solution for the banding problem found on Northlight Images site: Vertical banding noise If the recording format is set to sRAW1, vertical banding noise may become visible depending on the camera settings, subject, and background. The following camera settings can reduce the phenomenon. Set the recording format to RAW or JPEG. Set C.Fn II-3: Highlight tone priority

Cameras in free-fall, and more Wireless Mics

...I don't mean their prices are in free fall.. If you’re planning on using a harddrive based camcorder in free fall situations, you might want to reconsider it; seems that the hard drive parks the heads when it thinks it’s falling, and the camcorder won’t work. That’s what Matt Harding found when he tried to use the Sony SR-1 in a zero-g plane. New York Time , Pogue: The Perils of Zero-Gravity Videography 17 million watch a guy doing a gig? Jessh, I'm in the wrong business. Even more on the wireless microphone/spectrum issue can be found here: Spectrum Talk: Wireless Mics are a Legitimate Use of Spectrum and Wireless Microphone Update: The Twisted Logic of NAB and MSTV - Now Locked in Conflict with APCO and CTIA I particularly like his use of the term " criminal spectrum squatting ."

Is your wireless mic illegal?

I’ve been following the DTV transition with mild disinterest. I thought I sort-of knew what was going on, but one thing I had completely missed is that the shuffle around of spectrum impacts the users of wireless mics. Previous generations (i.e. the one I bought two years ago) use part of the television spectrum (698-806 MHz: referred to as the 700 MHz band) to transmit. But with the DTV transition, things have gotten moved about, and parts of that spectrum will soon be allocated to emergency services and other parts were sold off to AT&T and friends. So, in theory, those wireless mic systems are illegal after February 2009. Now, it’s not clear what that really means in the short term. Manufacturers have brought out new systems. Your existing systems will continue to work; though it’s possible you’ll start experiencing more interference. A friend who works at a broadcast station says they just went through all their gear, identifying equipment that they wouldn’t be able to use afte

Canon 5D Mark II updates

The cameras are slowly arriving in peoples hands, and more reports and sample images and clips are appearing. Phil Holland has put up a review of the Canon 5D Mark II . He’s generally happy about it, noting that the image quality compares very favorably with his 1Ds Mark III. He finds the low light capabilities impressive and he's included some sample images and video. He notes the problems with adjusting and setting exposure settings in video mode, and suggests getting Nikon AI-s lenses and a lens adapter so that you can at least manually set the aperture! Or, perhaps Canon will let you set things in a future upgrade. Or maybe we should just wait for the next camera? There’s whispers of a “Black spot” issue that seems to occur in some cases when shooting bright highlights. Reportedly Canon is looking into it. DVInfo has created a dedicated forum for the 5D Mk II , suggesting that this camera is really popular with video freaks (and I mean that in a nice way.) And Charles Wu has

Canon 5D Mark II and RED news

Christopher Witz got hold of a Canon 5D Mark II and seems happy with it [ My 5DM2 opinions.... ]. As a still camera he felt the resolution and noise levels were as good as his Canon 1Ds Mark III. In fact, the only advantage of the 1Ds III he feels is in frames per second and the buffer transfer. He also noted that the LCD of the 5D II is much better than the 1Ds III. But it’s the video that he’s most excited by: The video quality is "Oh my god" the 1st time you see it play back on a 1080p screen.... blacks are crushed a bit ( picture style fixable ) but that's ok.... Very little noise.... this thing practically sees in the dark. On the other hand, he bemoans the inability to lock settings, suggesting that if you’re doing multiple takes and want to keep the settings identical, your best bet will be to leave the camera running between takes! A little more troubling: If you're planning on smoothing out your shaky footage with "smoothcam" or any other post stab

Canon 5D Mark II audio

Dan Carr is expecting his Canon 5D Mark II any day now, and in anticipation he's just posted an informative blog about the options for attaching external audio devices to the camera: Video accessories for the Canon 5D Mark II: Part 1 - Microphones . Initial tests from various photographers indicate that the video quality is excellent, but the sound quality from the on board microphone is poor, not only that but it also picks up noise from the camera mechanisms such as the IS, aperture and just simply touching the camera body. He covers some inexpensive external mics - like the Sennheiser MKE 400 - as well as XLR to 3.5mm converter boxes like those from BrachTek . I actually have an earlier model BeachTek, and can attest to their usefulness for using different professional mics with consumer video cameras.

Canon 5D Mark II Test Drive

I know, I'm obsessed. But here's a test drive of the Canon 5D Mark II by Dan Chung for The Guardian . Even better, he comments on his experiences at the DVInfo site . Some interesting comments about the limitations he encountered, particularly a problem using the HDMI output to drive an external monitor while shooting. (Note that another poster asked about using the standard video out instead, which he hasn't - yet - responded to.) 1. In Movie mode the HDMI outputs 1080i when you are framing up and sorting focus and exposure. […] the moment you hit record it changes the output to 480p, worse the resolution change forces both HDMI displays I've tested to take about a second to adjust in which time you see nothing! 2. The image quality is stunning in low light, even at its maximum 3200asa it is still usable. […] 8. The rear screen is actually very good and can be zoomed up twice to check focus on specific spot. However when you start to record you can no longer zoom to

Canon 5D MkII, RED, YouTube goes wide

Reports are that the Canon 5D Mark II started leaving the Canon distribution centers today , though Amazon and B&H Photo still list it as unavailable or available in December. The big question (after "when will they appear in stores?") is how many do they have and how many back orders are there? If you didn't pre-order, you might not see one until January... Adobe , meanwhile, has updated their Camera RAW plug-in to support the Canon 5D Mark II . RED , fresh from their announcement of the DSMC (Digital Stills and Motion Camera) System back on November 13th, now say there's going to be another big announcement on December 3rd . Everything has changed... says the post. Finally, YouTube now supports widescreen video! You can upload video that are 960 pixels wide . They also now allow you to upload a maximum of 1GB (up from 250MB) but the length of the video is still limited to 10 minutes. I recently created a Vimeo account precisely because YouTube didn't s

November 24th

Anything you can do... It seems that Nikon might have a new full-frame sensor camera up it's sleeve - the Nikon D400 - that might get announced next week (or it might not.) While there's speculation about the resolution, release date, and other features , the biggest question of all is; will it support video like the D90 does, and might it support 1080p like the Canon 5D Mark II does. It will be interesting to see if Nikon does announce this camera next week, given that it's just about the time that the 5D MkII is expected to start showing up in stores. YouTube Project: Direct Anyone see The Onions joke announcement of a competition run by YouTube to produce a video " that is somewhat watachable or provide even a shred of enjoyment for people other than those that made the video " ? All good fun. Well I missed the fact that there is a competition on YouTube called Project: Direct , where you could win a trip to the Sundance Film Festival. The film must include a

November 19th

YouTube is all about making money these days. Umm…well, aren’t we all? They are now selling search terms , and movies are coming too, though one “respected Hollywood researcher” seems to think that iTunes will win out over YouTube and Hulu . "The issue comes down to ad-supported versus the paid model," Adams said. "For ad supported, the question is how many ads can you run and how much money can you generate per viewing? That has to be compared with the money made from rental or movie purchases. The content companies have all their content on iTunes and have shown complete support for the site despite their worries about Apple dominating the market. The studios aren't making the same content available for ad-supported services." Meanwhile, MySpace has a searchable video widget . Canon 5D Mark II Everyone's waiting for these to ship, so there' not a whole lot of news, though one forum post adds some information about how exposure is handled while shoo

RED DSMC (Digital Stills and Motion Camera) System

I’ve been waiting on the RED announcement, because I was a little concerned that it would confuse my interest in the Canon 5D Mark II. Finally, RED has announced their new plans for the DSMC (Digital Stills and Motion Camera) System . What they have done is designed a new product line that consists of different sensor blocks that work with interchangeable pieces. In theory, you will be able to buy the 5K model now, and upgrade to the 6K model next year. There’s some limitations (for example, the 3K uses a different lens mount to the 5K and 6K models.) If the marketing materials are to be believed , and from what I can see, the “cheapest” Scarlet - the 3K ($2,500) - features a C-Mount, not a Canon or Nikon mount, and isn’t expected until the Summer/Fall. If you want to use Canon or Nikon lenses, you have to get the 5K, which is $7,000. And that’s body only. You will need several other bits and pieces to get going. The other thing is that assembled together (see picture) it looks like q

November 10

It’s a quiet news day, but the week could shape up to be more interesting. RED is supposed to make a big announcement on Thursday . Of course, they won’t actually be shipping anything; they’ll just be announcing new products that probably won’t turn up until sometime in the middle of next year, if that. The image – that shows what look like XLR audio inputs – is kind of interesting. But the really interesting thing is the ship date and the price. Meanwhile, MGM will be posting full-length movies on YouTube . I’m not sure I want to watch a whole movie at current YouTube resolution; maybe they’ll improve it for the movies. The other question; will we want to watch the ads? The only obstacles to Google and YouTube getting more studios to post full-lengt movies is Google's insistence on a particular ad format, say the sources. They declined to say which ad unit Google prefers. The other hurdle is that some studios are skeptical that users will accept all the ads that need to accompany

Adobe Premiere CS4 - Mac issues

I wrote before that I haven’t been using Premiere Pro for some time, despite having a soft spot for it back in the day. The lack of a Mac version for a while really put the kibosh on that, but I was interested to see the CS4 update, and to read the review of it in MacWorld . It’s an academic interest only – I’m in no hurry to switch from Final Cut unless Premiere is totally awesome - so I just read the Pros and Cons list (it’s a long article!) Something leapt out at me right away: “no preview of HDV during capture.” Say what? It took a little while, but I found the passage: On Windows, Premiere Pro’s Scene Detect feature identifies points on the tape where the camera stopped between shots and captures the shots as separate master clips, each linked to a corresponding media file. But on the Mac, Premiere Pro captures a single master clip and creates a subclip for each shot. Both master clips and subclips work fine when it comes to editing. But because the subclips are linked to a singl

Another Canon 5D Mark II Video

David Michaud got three days in Tokyo to shoot with the Canon 5D Mark II . Canon has let him post the video that he shot using a beta version of the camera and a variety of lenses: 14mm f2.8 L 17-40mm f4.0 L 50mm f1.4 90mm f2.8 TS-E 135mm f2.0 L The video is very impressive. The depth-of-field effects are amazing, as are some of the wide-screen lens effects. The low light shots are really good, and there’s hardly any visual problems (there’s one shot where a train is going fast past a non-moving train, and you can see that it appears to be slanted on an angle, but it ‘s hardly noticeable and is the only "jelly" effect visible.) Check it out ! According to Northlight images Canon 5D Mk II page , Canon says that it is on target to ship the EOS 5D Mark II to US dealers by the end of November

Canon XH A1S and XH G1S HD

Canon has upgraded the XH A1 and XH G1 HD camcorders with the announcement of the XH A1S and XH G1S HD. These are both tape-based cameras, and while they may be fighting a rear-guard action, Canon continues to believe in tape for some applications:

 "HDV tape format continues to be the most cost-effective medium for high-quality high definition video capture and storage," -Yuichi Ishizuka, senior vice president and general manager, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon U.S.A. XH A1S There have been a number of changes to functionality and image processing. Interface changes include a redesign of he manual adjustment rings, (focus, zoom and iris): three sensitivity settings for the manual focus ring; normal, fast, and slow zoom speeds, and acceleration and deceleration have been added when starting and stopping in the zoom key mode to achieve a more natural motion. 
 Frame rates include: 60i, 30F and 24F. (That's '24P' to you and me.)

Both cameras have two XLR inputs f

Nikon D90 - another perspective

Last week, Camcorderinfo pretty much panned the video capabilities of the Nikon D90. Now comes an article from B & H Photo by David Speranza that's much more positive. Yeah, they are there to sell hardware - so take it with a grain of salt - but it does offer another perspective. He gushes about the video quality you can get: I was able to achieve a razor-thin depth of field that would make a 1970s maverick film director proud. The colors, when properly white-balanced, were rich and full, and the dynamic range [...] went well beyond anything you'll get in a sub-$10K camcorder. Points out the problems you might encounter: You can set aperture manually with the Aperture Priority mode, but the camera still automatically adjusts ISO and shutter speed. To remedy this, exposure needs to be locked prior to shooting. [...] this is less a science than an art, and may take some trial and error. And is upfront about the limitations: ...there's no microphone input; autofocus is d

November 3rd

Redrock DSLR cinema bundles Remember the accessory rack for the DSLRs announced by Redrock a week or so ago? Prices have now been announced. The DSLR Field Cinema Bundle is $1,995, while the DSLR Cinema Bundle is $2,445. The latter includes: microSupport baseplate with 1 pr 12" 15mm stainless steel rods (lightweight configuration 60mm center to center) microMatteBox (Deluxe Bundle including eyebrow and side wings) microFollowFocus Unit microHandle top handle for carrying, and low mode shooting microSupport Cage Ahh, if I only had the money... YouTube auto-translation If you have video's on YouTube with captions, now people can see the captions in other languages . Google Translate adds real-time machine translation to any caption tracks you upload. Now you can enjoy this video spoken in Italian, even if you don't understand Italian. Of course, if you're ever run things through machine translation, you'll probably not be that excited about it. RED Camera update On

October 29

Blu-Ray Blues Well, Apple says no-way Blu-ray , but Psystar , those scrappy little Mac clone makers have announced...a 6x Blu-ray writer that is a $310 upgrade over a dual-layer DVD burn. Blu-ray writer? Say what? Blu-ray has already won the format war. Not only is there fully functional and mature support for Blu-ray in other operating systems but you can now rent Blu-ray discs from almost any rental chain. Blu-ray has become pervasive technology that is being widely adopted by consumers everywhere No word on software support though. 5D Mark II - Zacuto Mini Baseplate Just a few days ago, the Redrock DSLR Rig was mentioned - a rig for holding/operating a DSLR like a film camera. The price isn't even out for that, and here comes the Zacuto Mini Baseplate which offers many of the same features, though it adds a video screen and promises of better balance when holding the camera.

Obligatory Canon 5D Mark II post

This guy talks funny...don't think he's from around here... But this YouTube video actually does a pretty good job of showing some of the features of the Canon 5D Mark II. I learned a couple of new things about the camera, and it confirmed some things I had heard. The camera has two auto-focus systems. It has the standard phase-detection AF system that meters off the mirror. There's also a contrast-detection system that's used during movie mode. It's a little slower than the phase-detection system, but does give auto-focus in movie mode. Note: There continues to be discussion about the AF system in the Mark II, and whether it has been improved over the original 5D. It appears that it has not (this video doesn't really confirm one way or the other); and while it was a capable system three years ago, the feeling is that it's not quite cutting edge today. He confirms it's a 4GB file size (just confirming that AGAIN!) 640 x 480 is the SD movie mode Finder i

October 28

Bye Bye VHS JVC has ceased production of standalone VHS players . They still produce combo units, but this marks the end of stand alone VHS production in Japan. This, I guess, could mean that there's still standalone units being made in China. 6.41 million VCRs were shipped in Japan in 2000, the number had withered to 280,000 units by 2007, according to the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association I see RED Less than a month ago - right after the announcement of the Nikon D90 and Canon 5D Mark II - RED, the maker of the low-cost (comparatively) high-resolution Red One digital video camera announced that they were reworking their plans for a much lower cost digital video camera called Scarlet. They'd originally previewed the Scarlet, as well as hinted at plans for a DSLR as well. And now comes Jim Jannard — Red's CEO — announcing on RedUser forums that their new announcement on November 13th will blow everyone's sox off. I want to say that no

Camcorderinfo reviews Nikon D90 has reviewed the Nikon D90 , with particular emphasis on the video capabilities. Unfortunately, the results aren't very pretty. While I expected the notes about "jelly video" I wasn't expecting the issues with over-heating that they reported. Manual controls are peculiar or unusable, auto focus is non-existent, and its 1280 x 720 maximum picture quality just doesn't cut it when compared to a dedicated HD camcorder. Recording videos for extended intervals also caused the D90 to run into overheating issues—prompting a swift shutdown of video mode. They did like the 24p mode for it's cinematic look, and they found that the low-light performance was reasonably good - though they had been expecting better - but in general they weren't impressed by it as a video camera . The 24 fps shutter speed does create a unique look, and it has a more cinematic feel than the 24P mode some camcorders offer. However, the D90 has way too many problems with vi

2008 Insomnia Film Festival

Now of a kid in school that's into film/video making? You might want to tell them about the 2008 Insomnia Film Festival . On November 15 at 9:00 a.m. EST, the clock starts ticking. Apple will post the list of required elements for entries in the 2008 Insomnia Film Festival. Then you and your team will have the next 24 hours to make and upload your 3-minute movie. That's the easy part. [...] Earn the #1 rating from either the public or the pros, and you'll land one of two grand prizes. Everyone on your team will get a MacBook Pro, Final Cut Studio 2, Logic Studio, Shake, and a year's worth of One to One personal training to help you use them. Note that: All five registered team members need to be current students in the U.S. attending high school (9th through 12th grade) or an accredited college or university

Another Canon 5D Mark II love site

Seems that Ken Rockwell really likes the Canon 5D Mark II ; if you're shooting landscapes. If it's news or sports, stick with Nikon. It's an interesting page, but I'm not so sure I can agree with his comments about the D90 being preferred for theatrical release. The Nikon D90's 24 FPS rate is ideal for theatrical release; the Canon's 30-frame rate will look more like video while the D90's 24-frame rate will look more like film. While the frame rate of the D90 suggests it's better for going to film, the "jelly" issue, and the lower resolution make me think that the Canon 5D would be a much better choice; even if you have to do a translation to 24 fps. Or course, if you are going to film, maybe a "real" video camera that shoots at 24p would be the better choice.

Apple TV Maximum Frame Size/Rate

Well, it turns out the specs were right. If you do a movie at 1280 x 720, the frame rate must be 24 fps . If you do it at 30 fps (even if the transfer rate is the same) the Apple TV won't even "see" the movie. So it turns out that 960 x 540 @ 30 fps is probably the best choice for transferring HD video to the Apple TV.

Redrock DSLR Rig

While I'm still waiting to see more in-depth reviews about just how good the Canon 5D Mark II video is, there's no doubt that it seems to promise pretty awesome video capabilities. Might be good enough to use to shoot "serious" video? Some people think so, but let's face it, using an SLR to shoot video - even on a tripod - is probably going to be a little bit of a challenge. The camera is designed for shooting stills more than for shooting video. Enter Redrock Micro, who has come up with a rig to hold, and control a DSLR (and to make you look more like a "real" movie maker too!) The Redrock video DSLR Bundle (catchy product name) offers the following features: Follow focus for accurate and repeatable focusing Swing-away mattebox for light management and easy access to changing lenses Shoulder mount and handgrips for steady handheld use Support cage for enhanced stability and low angle shot It's going to be available starting October 28th (price may

October 23

Apple TV I bought an episode of Top Gear last night just to see what it was like. I would have bought the whole season, but that takes up 5GB, and I just don't have that much free space on my iBook right now ( ouch!) A one hour episode is 546MB. Quality; well it's certainly acceptable, but not as good as a DVD It turns out that while I can synch (i.e. copy) content from one iTunes library, I can also stream another iTunes library. Which means that maybe I'll buy Top Gear on the other computer...the only problem is that the computer has to be on to stream... Looks like 1280 x 720 @ 30 fps doesn't work. I made a test movie, and Apple TV didn't like it. I have to remake the movie at 24fps just to confirm that's the issue, and I didn"t mess something else up! Sony HDR-FX7 Sony dropped the price on the HDR-FX7 by a grand; it's now $1,999. Right now B & H lists the new price as $1,999, and the used price is $2,199! I have - and like - the HDR-FX1. Unfo

Apple TV

I often like to play back video I’ve edited on an HD television that’s down the hall from my editing suite (that sounds a bit pretentious; the suite is a Mac in my office.) In the past I’ve been burning HD content onto an anamorphic DVD, which works fine – even if it takes a bit of time – though there is some noticeable resolution loss. For ages, I’d been thinking that if I had a Blu-ray burner and player then it would provide a higher-resolution solution. But the failure of Apple to deliver on Blu-ray support has caused me to reconsider my options, and perhaps come up with a better solution. Apple TV Okay, so the Apple TV is no Blu-ray. In fact, it’s highest resolution is 720p; 1280 x 720 @ 24 fps 5 mpbs, or 960 x 540 @ 30 fps 5 mbps. That’s not Blu-ray resolution, but it’s a bit better than an anamorphic DVD. And there’s other advantages too; most noticeably the savings in time compressing and burning, and also the savings in not burning as many DVDs. I’ll also include the ease of

Casio EX-FH20

The speed with which new toys come out is truly dizzying. Was it just this January that Casio's EX-F1 was being talked about excitedly because of it's ability to do super-slow motion? And now, heres the EX-FH20 offering similar features in a smaller footprint. It's available for $599 from several online reatilers. Unfortunately, assuming that the video quality is similar to the EX-F1 (which went way down in resolution and way up in noise as the frame rate went up) it's ability to capture short sequences at high frame rates is not that useful. Fun to post short sequences on the web - maybe - but probably not much use for anything else. It does claim 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) video though.

Looking at Vimeo

I've been using YouTube for a couple of years to post videos, and I'm generally happy with it; it's easy to use, has a big audience, and you can embed video in other pages easily. And most people seem to have no trouble with it, so if it ain't broke, why fix it? Except that most stuff I do these days is in HD format, and YouTube doesn't support that yet. I have to letterbox things (or pan-and-scan) before posting them. So the quest for an alternative begins. Vimeo looks interesting. They support 720P (1280 x 720), and you have the option of a Free Account, or Vimeo Plus , the latter giving you more storage space (500MB vs 2GB), more uploads (1 a week vs unlimited) and other features for $59.95 a year. What? We have to pay?! While I can't find it on that page, camcorderinfo says that you are limited to 5000 streams . Is that a year? Month? Simultaneously? Well, I'm going to have to do some experimenting with it to see how it compares to YouTube. There are ot

Blur-ray Recorder, End of Firewire

Apple may not be keen on Blu-ray, but Amex Corporation has announced the Portable Blu-ray Super Multi Drive , a very sleek and sexy external Blu-ray player and reader. It supports both OSX and Windows XP, though note that the Mac OS doesn’t support Blu-ray playback, so the usefulness of the player-only version is rather limited. The BDP-2 Blu-ray Player US$289.00 The BDR-2 Blu-ray Recorder US$389.00 An Intel Core 2 Duo and NVIDIA GF8000 Series or better is required. The text at the top says “New MacBook, Pro and Air. Get this with Toast, and you’d be able to make Blu-ray discs. Firewire Meanwhile, Steve Jobs has reportedly responded to a query about why the new MacBooks don’t have Firewire : Actually, all of the new HD camcorders of the past few years use USB 2. It’s a good point. While HDV tape-based cameras require Firewire to transfer video, all the harddrive and chip-based cameras work with USB (as I’ve found with my new camera.)

Blu-ray licensing

Yesterday’s comment about Blu-ray licensing at Apple's MacBook announcement had me puzzled. What was this "bag of hurt" that Steve was on about? Is it the money that Apple would have to pay to put in Blu-ray hardware (and software that writes to Blu-ray?) Is it licensing issues for people writing Blu-ray discs? Or is it both? Or something else? Well I did discover that Roxio already has a Blu-ray plug-in for Toast that will write Blu-ray content to either a Blu-ray player, or even a DVD disc (I didn’t even know that you could put Blu-ray content onto a DVD!) Interestingly, it’s an additional $20 (ontop of the $80 for Toast.) I can't help thinking that one of the reasons they didn't just include it in the package was because of extra licensing fees they had to pay. At a guess, it sounds like if Apple added Blu-ray support to iDVD (iBlu-ray) would they have to pay $10-20 per machine for licensing too? That’s probably the kicker. As to licensing issues for users, t

New Apple MacBook's; no Blu-ray

Apple came out with new MacBook Pros, and MacBooks today. Built using a new manufacturing process, they feature a glass trackpad, LED-backlit display, new graphics chip, and a new mini display port. They don't include Blu-ray, but someone asked about that omission in the Q&A at the end : "Blu-ray is just a bag of hurt. It's great to watch the movies, but the licensing of the tech is so complex, we're waiting till things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace." - Steve Jobs

Nikon D90 review at DPReview has their review of the Nikon D90 up. They are a little concerned about the matrix metering and how the highlights tend to slip a bit more than they'd like, but otherwise they seem to like it. Video get's a mixed review, with them noting it's hard to escape the impression that this is a first-generation implementation . After describing the problems of the rolling shutter, they go on to note: The automatic exposure can result in rather 'stepped' exposure changes - the aperture is locked so the problem seems to stem from amplifier stepping. Color rendition is not as convincing as in stills recording, with the red channel appearing to clip in our bus sample. Autofocus is also only available prior to recording, using the less-than-spritely contrast-detect mode, so once the 'rec' dot appears, you'll be left having to focus manually. The sound quality (11kHz Mono) - with no option for an external mic - was also criticized, and in the end they co

Really cheap Blu-ray players coming?

With Blu-ray players still hovering around $300 - and Apple still not supporting Blu-ray authoring *grumble* - I've been disinclined to jump on the Blu-ray bandwagon. But now comes rumors that a Samsung player may reach down to $149 ; at least on sale. That's quite something. On the other hand, I'm still inclined towards the PS3 as the Blu-ray player of choice because you get a game machine, and it seems to be more future-proof than the stand-alone players . Reviewers have taken a crack at deciding between the PS3 vs. standalone player before (note that the review is over a year old) and come away with mixed feelings, but at $149 vs $400, I'm suddenly remembering that the PS2 I own has a fairely heavy layer of dust on it. So do I really care about future prrof players? About Profile 2 with support for secondary decoders, local storage and internet connections, or does all that not really matter if all I'm doing is watching a movie? I guess I'll wait and see wh

More Canon 5D Mark II sample video

I just finished the previous post, and discovered that DPReview now has a couple of new Canon 5D Mark III sample videos up on their site: get them while they're fresh! . They are both just over 20 MB, and run at right around 39 mbits/s. On the computer I watched these on (a lowly 1.83 GHz Mini Mac) playing in QuickTime Player, the bicycle rider plays very smoothly, but there's a strangely colored frame at 3:16 and I have no idea what's caused that. (I tired playing it on a Windows machine and see the same thing, though it's reported at 3:17!) These clips were taken with a pre-production model. Oddly colored frame (right) in sequence In the second clip (the street scene) the same thing happens at 4:16. Also, the pan is kinda jumpy, which I have to think is caused by the tripod rather than the camera (as the first clip doesn't seem to have that problem.) No obvious jelly problem (but then these are fairly slow pans.) Canon 5D Mark II HD Video samples @

SLR video report (website of The Desert Sun , Palm Springs) has an article from Jefferson Graham of USA Today about the Nikon D90 and Canon 5D Mark II that focuses (pun!) on these cameras video capabilities: New Canon, Nikon SLR cameras shoot video . The article pretty much confirms what I've picked up from other sources, but it's always good to hear that what you think is true, still seems to be so. His main points: [he doesn't like] Live View. If you try composing your image in bright sunlight, it's nearly impossible to see. [these cameras let you] make use of the mouthwatering, supersharp, add-on accessory lenses that camera makers promote to let us zoom in really close or go wide for wonderful vistas. Auto focusing is very problematic, more so on the D90 than the 5D [on the D90 it's manual focus only once recording] . [...] On the 5D, Canon adds a cool button on the back of the camera to keep the image in autofocus. Advances in low-light sensors have gotten so g

Oct 9 Bits & Pieces

* Josh Lowensohn at CNET wonders if a new theater view in the YouTube Player could be a precursor to HD support for YouTube . Personally, I’d love it if YouTube made some effort to support widescreen format videos. A lot of the content I’m now producing is wide screen and if I want to put it on YouTube I have to either letterbox it or pan-and-scan it. I just wish that YouTube would take the content and letterbox it itself. * For a whille there, it looked like Apple might not be releasing new MacBooks next week, but never fear! Apple has sent out invites to the media for a special event about new notebooks on the 14th! One interesting note: Should the price points prove accurate, however, they would imply that Apple is prepared to slash the price of its entry-level MacBook by more than 27 percent. * RealNetworks has some software called RealDVD that – ostensibly – was designed to let people “back-up” their DVDs. 'Not so fast,' says the movie industry, that violates the DMCA!

Chances of sensors over-heating?

DPReview has a Photokina Interview with Canon Inc's Director and Chief Executive of Image Communication Products Operations, Masaya Maeda . Lot's of variations on "No Comment," but there was one interesting answer to a question about possible issues with the sensor 'heating up' when shooting extended movie clips (an issue I wasn't even aware of until the announcement of the Nikon D90, when that was given as the reason for the limit on movie clip length): "We don't have that problem with heating because power consumption is very low in our newly developed sensors. There is no impact on stills image quality even after shooting extensively in movie mode." UPDATE: I realize that it might be a bit confusing that I have a comment from a Canon guy and a reference to a Nikon Camera. The Canon guy is, of course, being asked about the movie mode in the Canon 5D Mark II. The Nikon D90 also has a movie mode, and when it was announced, there was talk tha

Still no Blu-ray for Apple?

Apple is supposed to be rolling out some new hardware on October 14th. Everyone seems to think it’s going to be new MacBooks , but my Magic8Ball iPhone app says “Don’t count on it” (seriously, that’s what the Magic8Ball says, I don’t have any inside track on this folks!) But I’m not really that worried about MacBook updates…what I want is Blu-ray support. Come on Apple! You’re part of the Blu-ray Consortium thingo , why no Blu-ray support? I could understand back when the whole Blu-ray HD DVD thing was going on, but that’s been over for aaaaaages. Maybe Steve just doesn’t care ? If they don’t announce something October 14th I’m going to have to write Steve Jobs a carefully worded letter! What does the Magic 8 Ball say? Damn!

D90 Hands-on at B&H photo

B&H Photo sends out an electronic newsletter now and again, and the latest issue has a hands-on with the Nikon D90 written by Allan Weitz. It's worth checking out if only to see the sample video they have there (some nice shots; though watch the curve of the helicopter blades!) I don't think it says anything particularly unexpected about the feature: [...] the camera's DX-format CMOS sensor is far larger than the sensors found in most consumer camcorders. As a result, the image quality of video captured with the Nikon D90 is noticeably sharper and contains fuller detail and tonality in the mid-tones as well as in highlights and shadow areas. [...]autofocus and viewing the action through the camera's viewfinder, is replaced with viewing, composing and auto focusing on the 3" display and AF locks at the moment the record button is pressed in D-Movie mode. There's also a good explanation of the cause of the "jelly" video effect [...]Unlike tradition

No news is Canon 5D Mk II news...

With nothing else to talk about, here's an interesting article about the Canon 5D Mark II: Canon EOS 5D Mark II: Worth the wait? It's interesting for two reasons: it has a pretty good comparison of the major features of the Nikon D700, Sony Alpha DSLR-A900, Canon 5D and Canon 5D Mark II, and the writer is kind of ho-hum about the whole thing, especially the video capability: While there are some obvious applications for it in areas like wedding, law enforcement, insurance and other professional and commercial environments, a lot of its usefulness will rest on the implementation. In a nice touch, the camera has a minijack for an external microphone. Clearly this guy isn't blown away by the idea of video, and if that's the case, then I guess the camera almost looks like a 21 MP version of the original 12MP camera, and some people aren't pleased about that! If you aren't sure that the Mark II is that much different from the original, it's worth checking out

Some JVC HD camera

Engadget has some pretty awful pictures of a concept camcorder that JVC was showing at CEATEC. They say it’s SDHC, and it does have AVCHD on the side, and they claim it’s for “sophisticated users” (is that shorthand for people that can be suckered into spending more money than the average Joe?) Apart from looking like an 80’s security cam, it’s hard to figure out what would make this “sophisticated.” Obviously it’s a fixed lens, and the zoom control is a little rocker switch on the top. . .I just don’t see it. Still, everyone’s going HD…

More Canon 5D Mark II video

Canon's 5D Mark II remains a hot topic. Michael Reichmann at The Luminous Landscape has a preview of the Canon 5D Mk II , as well as a demo video . The video is mostly him talking about the camera, but there's some clips at the end. Definitely read the article, as it's mostly about the video features. Some interesting notes: He found that a 15 second sample clip was captured at 47 Mbps and was 80MB in size. When translated to Apple Intermediate Codec this expanded to 169 MB Though QuickTime 7 could playback the video, there were dropped frames on his 2.6Ghz dual core Macbook Pro with 2 Meg of RAM, He didn't see any real "Jelly" problem It's important to note that this was with a pre-production model that he had for only a day. From the video, the notable thing is that there's no obvious movie record mode on the camera (or even a button!) You go to Live-View and then click the set button to start recording. This is interesting as it almost suggests

Premiere Pro CS4

Adobe has announced the new CS4 suite and there's an update to Premiere Pro coming. It's $799 standalone or $1,699 as part of the Production Premium Suite, which adds After Effects and Soundbooth (oh great, more ways to spend money.) I have a bit of a soft-spot for Premiere as I started using it way back at version 1 (that's the original version 1) and even wrote a review of it way back then. But then came Final Cut - which was another leap forward for desktop computer video editing with it's UI borrowed heavily from Avid - and then Adobe abandoned the Mac platform when they came out with Premiere Pro, so I haven't been using Premiere much lately. But they came back to the Mac with CS3 in 2007, and here's an update. MacWorld has a preview article (they call it a first look, but I'd call it a glance) and there's some interesting features: OnLocation for capturing, and logging video in the field. Adobe Media Encoder for batch encoding Premiere Pr

Panasonic AG-HMC70U and the Sony HDR-FX1

I’ve been doing some work with the Panasonic AG-HMC70U and the Sony HDR-FX1, the former being an AVCHD and the latter an HDV camcorder. It’s interesting to compare them as they are really so different; different feature set, different video format, different resolution. I shot some stuff in a video studio the other day. This was done rather hastily between other work, so it wasn’t as great a test as I was hoping. It did reveal that the color is not too bad a match. I had been worried that there might be a notable difference between the two, but I’m not as worried now. Sony HDR-FX1 (top) Panasonic AG-HMC70U (bottom) The stills definitely reveal a difference in video image resolution. The Panasonic AG-HMC70U stills seem to show more resolution; this shouldn’t be a surprise since the AG-HMC70U AVCHD video is at a higher resolution than the HDV format (1920 vs. 1440). Unfortunately, these stills didn’t work well for absolute comparison as the shots weren’t done on a tripod and there’s a lo

D90 video, Canon 5D Mark II preorders

Gizmodo has some video tests shots with the Nikon D90 . Interesting to see the depth of focus, as well as focus problems (there's no autofocus in video mode!), and the reviewers note about problems zooming smoothly and that a tripod really makes things easier. No, an SLR isn't going to replace a video camera perfectly. At least, not this one. And probably not the Canon 5D Mark II either. Meanwhile Amazon had been accepting pre-orders for the Canon 5D Mark II, but now it says it's not available, and you can be emailed when it's available. B&H doesn't seem to be taking orders either, though it says that arrival is "Approximately November." Of course, if the economy grinds to a halt next week, who's going to care?

Blu-ray Lives

Some people think Blu-ray is on it's deathbed, or at least that it will never reach the success of DVDs. They could be right; broadband is continuing to challenge physical mediums (sales of DVDs are down too.) On the other hand, Blu-ray is a useful format for HD content; the question is will a mass audience adopt it, or will it end up being used more by content developers? Blu-ray may just be a good way to back up large quantities of information. Not surprisingly, Sony thinks that Blu-ray's future is still bright. This article on Sony's Electronics Blog say's that everything will be fine: " Expect Blu-ray to Live on Despite Reports of its Imminent Demise ". Meanwhile, Apple still has no Blu-ray support, the biggest reason I have held off getting involved in the format. I just get by with anamorphic DVDs instead.

DTV is coming

February 19 is the end of analog transmission television . All those stations are going to turn off. And if you’re still getting TV “off the air” and don’t have a digital TV, or haven’t bought a digital converter, then you won’t be able to watch television. And you will be better for it. At least one Senator is concerned They did a test cut-off in Wilmington Carolina early in this month that revealed some problems: "As the current administration winds down, both agencies must remain vigilant so that the next administration does not inherit a communications crisis." - Senator Daniel Inouye But it turns out that the problems were more mental than physical : According to the Journal, by mid-afternoon roughly 74 calls had been placed to two TV stations, WSFX-TV, a Fox affiliate, and WECT-TV, an NBC affiliate. The newspaper also reported the FCC received about a hundred calls on its toll-free help line in the first few hours after local broadcasters shut off their analog signals

In The Air Tonight

Someone just pointed me to the Cadbury advertisement with the gorilla playing drums to Phil Collins "In The Air Tonight." I like the mood of this; the way the camera glides over the gorilla face at the beginning; just not sure I get the connection to Cadbury chocolate. Particularly as the first thing I do notice in terms of product placement(other than the drums) is the's looks like an iPod ad! Still, makes a nice change from some of the ads out there. UPDATE 3:59pm: and I just noticed that this is the second "gorilla" post of the day! Totally unintentional!

Bluray, Kodak HD, Gorillapod

Sony has announced a third generation internal Bluray writer , the BWU-300S, which is priced at $400 writes at 8x and comes bundled with software. Very cool, but PC only. Me, I'm still waiting for Apple to do something about Bluray support. The Nikon D-90 isn't the only camera offering 720p video. The Kodak EasyShare Z1485IS (point and shoot) does it too!. Is Michael Moore's " Slacker Uprising " the first full-length movie to be released online for free? Or at least the first one intentionally released for free? Well, who knows, but it's out there. The Gorillapod is this really heavy-duty bendy tripod that will support a camera up to 11 pounds (the Panasonic AG-HMC70U is only 5.3lbs without battery.) Wow. That's pretty heavy duty, though it does have a heavy duty price: $149.95. You could get a real tripod for that!

Canon 5D MkII and Jelly Video

I said I wasn't going to say anything more about the Canon 5D MkII and less than an hour later I discover that the video shot by Vincent Laforet is available on Canon's site . It's all pretty amazing and beautifully shot, but right at the end, there's a pan across the New York skyline and there definitely seems to be something going on there (though it could be enhanced by the shake of the helicopter.) Hard to tell. But there's a lot of other shots (several with the camera in motion) where you don't notice anything. Definitely check it out.

RED, Jelly Video and SanDisk CF cards

Funny that I mentioned RED the other day, because now comes news that they are completely redesigning Scarlet (the $3,000 video camera they had planned.) the market has changed and we have discovered a lot of things in the process. We have a new vision The news is on RED’s forum . Just to clarrify, RED has announced both Scarlet - a comparatively low-budget video camera - as well as the DSMC (Digital Still & Motion Camera) an SLR-type camera too. The thread is an interesting read as the forum members take turns trashing the Nikon D90 and Canon 5D. While I take what some of the fan boys say with a grain of salt, the references to the “ Jelly video ” problem of the D90 are worth noting. You can see an example linked from here . This frame capture shows the problem; the top part of the frame seems to lag behind the bottom as the camera is quickly panned left to right. Rather than capturing the whole frame at once, the image is being captured from top to bottom, and in that time the c