Friday, November 07, 2008

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 single, large master clip and media file, managing media and storage space could be more difficult. And as in the previous version, Premiere Pro for the Mac can’t display HDV footage in the Capture panel; you’ll have to use your camcorder’s built-in screen or an attached monitor instead.

Okay, that sucks! I mean seriously, one of the coolest things in Final Cut is the way it breaks up clips as you capture. And being able to preview to find what you want; I really can’t imagine not having that.

Major bad words for Adobe.

I can’t believe they’d leave it that way. The suggested solution “use the camera’s screen” uhhh…what if you are using a deck?

That Premiere supports many tapeless formats – including P2, AVCHD, XDCAM EX, and XDCAM HD – is cool, but HDV is still an important format, surely? Well, I guess I'm not going to be switching this year!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

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

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

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.


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 for audio and there's the option of recording to HDV tape and directly to an external Hard Disk Drive by using the FS-CV DTE Recorder. 

The XH A1S and XH G1S HD are scheduled to be available in late December for an estimated retail price of $3,999 and $6,999, respectively.

Okay, beyond my budget (I'm still hoping to get an HDR-FX7 sometime soon) but impressive cameras. The XH-A1S is particularly tempting with it's XLR inputs; not to dismiss the other features. $4k for a camera is just outside my budget though.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

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 disabled; full-quality video can only be shot in 5-minute bursts due to file-size limitations; and, as many people have pointed out, the rolling shutter of the camera's CMOS sensor can produce some queasy-looking vertical lines...

And then he proceeds to put it into perspective:

But none of these are deal-killers. If you want better audio, then shoot dual-system [...] Autofocus? It's far less precise than manual focus—especially on 35mm lenses—which is why manual is still the method of choice on movie sets. Need a shot longer than five minutes? Consider this: the average shot duration in most current Hollywood movies is around five seconds.

He's not even put off by the dreaded Jello-effect:

As for the dreaded "jell-o effect," there's a very simple solution: keep the camera steady (tripods are good) and stay away from whip pans!

There's a sample video clip too, which is definitely worth checking out. While you don't get a good sense for resolution, you do see that the camera can shoot a fairly wide range of subjects, and you can move the camera or have a moving subject and not end up with unusable results! Check the cool pool table shots towards the end of the clip!

So what's a video producer to do?

If you already have some Nikon SLR lenses, I think it might be a no-brainer. Buy the D90 and use it for special effects. If nothing else, it'll be a good SLR camera.

Don't have any Nikon lenses already? Don't need an SLR? I don't think I'd buy this camera purely for it's video capabilities. Even with the Canon 5D Mark II I'm not certain that people will be buying it just for the video capability (though maybe I'll be proved wrong.) But I am willing to adjust my view of the D90. Having gone from initial excitement, to complete disinterest, I now think it could be a fun little video camera.

Monday, November 03, 2008

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 November 13th RED is promising an announcement for a new low-cost digital video camera (cancel those Canon 5D Mark II pre-orders.) It seems though, that they just can't help dropping hints, as Jim Jannard — Red's CEO - has posted a couple of pics of the upcoming announcement.

Western Digital WD TV

Finally, MacWorld has a review of Western Digital's WD TV, a box that will play back on your TV media (video, audio and photos) from any drive or device connected to it via USB. Think of it kind of like an Apple TV, with fewer features, though with support for higher resolution content:
the device supports MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, and WMV9 video at up to 1920 by 1080p at 24 frames per second (fps), 1,920-by-1,080i at 30 fps, and 1,280-by-720p at 60 fps. The Apple TV, by contrast, supports H.264 video up to 1,280-by-720 at 24 fps or 960-by-540 at 30 fps.

As luck would have it, I just got an Apple TV a week ago, so color me jealous. The Western Digital is cheaper, and you can simply plug in any USB hard drive. On top of that, it has a much higher video quality.

On the other hand, it doesn't appear to work over the network, which I find an advantage with the Apple TV. If I was doing the purchase all over again, I might be sorely tempted to get the Western Digital, but I don't regret getting the Apple TV.