Friday, April 18, 2008

Slow Mo

The Casio EX-F1 would be just another 6MP, 12x digital camera if it wasn't for one neat trick: burst shooting capabilities that promise 60 frames per second at full resolution and up to 1200 fps at 336 x 96.

The high-frame rate is cool, but it comes at a price: as you go higher, the frame size gets smaller (and the quality of the image itself progressively gets worse too.)

Gizmodo has some test clips, which show that at 512x384 and 300 fps you can get a pretty good image. The 600 fps and 1200 fps clips aren't nearly as good; the frame is small, cropped strangely, and the image gets darker and more pixelated. I would consider the 1200 fps material unusable.

It would be interesting to take a 300 fps clip from this camera (which, at 512 x 384, is close to - but not exactly the same as - Standard Def) and compare it to a clip captured with a regular camera and slowed down using editing software. My guess is that the EX-F1 clips would be useable; and a better effect.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Improving Sound

B & H sends out an electronic newsletter and it often contains some nice little articles showing you things you can spend your money on(!)

The latest one has a short piece on how to get better sound without a sound man. There are some good ideas about setting a mic up on a boom - and some interesting gadgets -(though personally, a wireless mic is a lot easier to use if you don't have a soundman.)

There's also an article that explains the differences between CCD and CMOS cameras. After reading it, I couldn't help but think that maybe CCD's where better than CMOS (even though manufacturers seem to be moving to CMOS more and more.)

Sometimes, the more you know, the less you understand.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We're the Geeky AV Kid...

I’ll admit to being a Red One skeptic from the beginning. Maybe I just don’t like hype or freaky fan boys, but something turned me off, and I was skeptical that they could even pull it off.

But they did release their Red One 4K Camera on time, Peter Jackson is a fan, and so are others; it’s getting harder to maintain that cool indifference.

And now they have gone and announced the Scarlet, a 3K resolution camera that they expect to release next year at a price point under $3K. Not only that, it will support frame rates from 1-120fps and a 180 fps burst mode, Compact Flash storage and full manual shooting modes are promised, as well as wi-fi control (hmmm…)

It’s enough to turn the head of any skeptic; even if the design of it does look a little like some underwater diving camera. has an interview with Ted Schilowitz from Red One, who seems to think that soccer moms might want to use the camera. I’m not so sure about that; an 8X zoom seems a little on the whimpy side for them. But for independent film makers the Scarlet could be very attractive. Especially when you look at lower resolution HD cameras from Sony, Panasonic et. al. costing more than that.

And instead of the "If you were a tree" question, we get the "what kid in high school would the Red company be"....ummm, okay. Still, it's interesting to hear some of the guys thoughts on what the company is about and it's marketing, etc.

But we have to wait until next year to really know about Scarlet...

P.S. Isn’t that just the worst audio on the camcorderinfo clip? I mean, terrible. The host audio is bad, but it's even worse for the guest. These guys need to do a few articles on audio I think.

Monday, April 14, 2008

NAB News

It’s NAB and everyone is making announcements!

Seems like Sony just likes to torment me. First came the PMW-EX1, a really cool looking semi-pro camera that records to solid-state SD cards. Part of the reason I like it – perhaps – is that it has the same basic camera shape as my HDR-FX!; just squashed down a bit. I’d really like to get away from tape, but at $6,000 the EX1 is out of my reach.

Well, now they’ve gone and announced the PMW-EX3 (what, no EX2?!) which is going to cost $13,000 and has interchangeable lenses. The body has also become more angular at the back, and I wonder if that will make it any better for shoulder shooting.

On the bright side, it makes the PMW-EX1 seem almost affordable. Or, you have until the third quarter of 2008 to save for the EX3.

Though I have a Panasonic VCR that has lasted for years, I haven’t had many dealings with their cameras. Maybe that should change as Panasonic went and announced the solid state HPX-170 which records 1080 HD and SD to P2 solid state memory cards, and the AG-HMC150, which is the highest bitrate AVCHD camcorder announced so far, recording at up to 24Mbps. Both cameras are similar is shape to the EX1, strangely enough.

But at $4,500 for the AG-HMC150 and god-knows for the HPX-170, I guess I won’t be checking those out soon.

In other news, Adobe has a new file format they want to push on to film makers (and later, every body else.) I can’t help thinking this is just part of an effort to kill Avid.

While CinemaDNG won’t have much impact on us this year, the addition of automatic transcription (voice recognition) to Soundbooth looks interesting. This could be particularly helpful to documentarians. In theory you load up your clip, have it transcribe the audio, and then you can search for places in the video based on the text.

Adobe also announced support for Sony's XDCAM EX tapeless video file format in its Creative Suite 3 video-editing tools, and that it’s adding H.264 encoding support to the Flash application (the player already supports H.264 playback.)