Showing posts from January 10, 2010

Improving Apple TV

MacWorld has a review of aTV Flash , a software enhancement for the Apple TV which - for $50 - adds some really useful features to the Apple TV : Support for more file formats Play DVD files Use external USB Disk Drives Surf the Web I'd pay money for the first three....wait a minute, I guess I have to.. File formats supported include: .avi, .dvix, flv, .m4v, .mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .mpg, .ogg, .ogm, .rm, .rmvb, .wmv, .xvid .mkv format supported up to 480p resolution (hardware limited) DVD files (VIDEO_TS/VOB) Audio support for: AAC, AC3 Audio, H.264, MPEG4, and VBR MP3 Subtitle support for SSA and SRT I really wish that Apple would add these kind of features to the Apple TV ; it would make it a much more useful device. But in the mean time, aTV Flash looks like the thing to get. Note that, as MacWorld says, it's a hack; installing it means you won't be able to get software updates from Apple, but I think the pluses out-weigh that minus. It's not like Appl

HDR-AX2000 does have SDHC memory slots

There was some question whether the HDR-AX2000 had the dual memory slots of the HXR-NX5U because the web page didn't mention it. It seemed really odd that it wouldn't (not so much because the HXR-NX5U does, but because Sony's new consumer models have that feature too!) but without some kind of confirmation it was hard to be sure. Anyway, the specifications page at has now been updated: Memory Stick slot : Dual Memory Stick PRO Duo™ Media/ SD/SDHC (Class 4) media slots (2 slots A/B)

Is Canon going to do a Video Camera based on DSLR tech?

As already reported, Canon has recently shown a prototype of a replacement for the XH-G1s that records to flash cards rather than to HDV tape. This camera is expected to be rolled out at NAB in April, but already there's been discussion's on the boards about what else Canon might (or should) do. I think a lot of people expected Canon to do something with the DSLR technology. There were hopes they'd place one of those large chips in a video camera, providing the shallow DOF performance those large chips provide, with better functionality than we're getting out of the DSLR bodies. Seems like a no brainer. Maybe. On the face of it, producing a camera like this makes sense, particularly when you look at the popularity of the Canon 7D and 5D Mark II. But when you start getting into the details, things get trickier. Lenses Canon's current video camera's - in their professional line - use 1/3" imagers. It's a big step up from 1/3" to the APS-C

Do-it-yourself Dollys

Is there anything better than a good dolly shot? Okay, Steadicam’s can be very cool, but even they can’t seem to capture the smooth glide of a good dolly shot. You can actually buy an inexpensive dolly to use with your tripod for less than $50; but these will only run smooth – and even then it can be difficult - on a really smooth surface (forget using on carpet, or going outside on concrete.) “Real” dolly systems require a track of some kind; particularly outside. Several “do-it-yourselfers” have built some form of Dolly. These usually consist of the following three important parts: Track Skateboard wheels Base Put like that, it seems quite, simple! But what to make the track out of? The latest idea, from "Romain" on Ikea Hacker, is to use the Ivar “wooden ladder” as the track, and build a trolley that runs along that. Quit an interesting idea; the Ivar “track” comes in lengths up to 89”. He has a nice sample video on Vimeo too. In addition to the Ivar piec

HXR-NX5U $3,990 pre-order at B & H

Holy Cow! It was $4,499.95 last time I looked, but right now the HXR-NX5U page at B&H says that it's $3,990.00 to pre-roder! More than puzzling as the HDR-AX2000 is at $3,4999.99. For $500 more the HXR-NX5U is definitely worth it!

The DSLR Filmmaker's Workflow

David Flores is a New York photographer and filmmaker, and a member of the B&H Creative Content Team. He's put together a piece on the DSLR Filmmaker's workflow . Though the files from Canon 5D Mk II and 7D work with most editors, he advocates transcoding to another format so "everything plays together well." He's absolutely right; I've put Canon 7D video into Final Cut Pro without transcoding, and though it mostly works, you end up having to constantly re-render things. So while you have to spend more time at the beginning if you transcode, you'll save it during the editing process. The video below - and much of the article - centers on using Compressor to transcode to ProRes for Final Cut Pro , but he also cover's transcoding with the freeware package MPEG Streamclip (which is both Mac and PC compatible) in the article.

RED Camera upgrades to Mysterium-X

I don't really know a whole lot about RED ONE cameras; other than they exist, and that if I could afford one, the camera I could afford will probably be the Scarlet, which is coming sometime soon... But existing RED ONE owners can now upgrade to the Mysterium-X sensor, starting next week. The upgrade costs $5,750. Other details can be found at . FEATURE FILM MAKING AT USED CAR PRICES In thinking about the price of these cameras (the RED ONE is sub-$20k, and the Scarlet looks like it will start at about $5K) reminded me of a book I read years ago called " Feature Film Making at User-car Prices: How to Write, Produce, Direct, Film, Edit, and Promote " by Rick Schmidt. It was a great book because he went through the entire process from writing and pre-production, shooting and editing, to promotion and getting your budget movie shown and into competitions. It was very informative and inspiring; even though I never wanted to make a feature movie. But

Oxymoron of the day

Yesterday I was trying to get some information from Tiffen about the Steadicam Smoothee . Unfortunately there was no email address on their site; just a Contact form that you fill out. So I filled out the information as accurately as I could and hit submit, and got the following response back:

More Cheap 3D

Fujifilm already has a (relatively) inexpensive 3D camera (the Fujifilm Real 3D, which I haven't heard a peep about since it was announced) but now DXG has a $400 3D camera coming out sometime in June. It looks weirdly interesting; but if those are the two lenses on the front, they are much closer together than the Fuji's and I wonder how good the 3D effect is. And I wonder what editing the video is like? Can you do it in a regular video editor, or do you have to use something that recognizes the files these cameras create? Or are you just stuck with what you shot?

Steadicam Smoothie

Tiffen (the owner of Steadicam) has announced the Steadicam Smoothee, a Steadicam for the iPhone .  Wow! The lightweight, compact, agile, and easy to use Steadicam Smoothee™ features an innovative, patented design built around a durable mono-frame metal structure that requires no complicated instruction to use. With its “go anywhere” compact dimensions, the Steadicam Smoothee™ is approximately 8”W x 14.5” H x 2.5” D (20.3 x 36.8 x 6.4cm) in operating configuration But the iPhone? Seriously? Of course, in a year or two, the iPhone will probably be capturing 1080p.... [UPDATE] Though the press release doesn't mention it, from the video below it appears that the device will work with the Flip and Motorola Droid , and maybe other cameras later. No word of price, it's expected in the spring.

Never Change Your Workflow

If there’s one critical piece of advice I can give you, I think that’s it. Once you get a workflow “working,” changing anything – camera, software, computer – can just mess you up no end. A couple of years ago I had two HDV camcorders, a Mac G5, and Final Cut Pro 5, and everything was right with my world. An hour of video was 13GB - which was sizeable, but quite liveable - and the computer and software seemed to be quite happy to edit the stuff. Everything was evenly balanced. How things have changed since then; and I'm not too sure I'm in a better position now than I was back then, but I've certainly had my share of adventures. Here’s some things that have messed me up: I upgraded the G5 from Leopard to Tiger , which broke the Firewire import in Final Cut Pro 5 . I bought an AVCHD camera . Since Final Cut Pro 5 couldn’t import these files, I bought Final Cut Express to import the AVCHD video using a second computer – a Mac Mini – since Final Cut Pro and Final Cu

Canon 7D - what resolution is the video really?

Did you ever get intrigued by a question, spend a good bit of time trying to figure out what the answer is, realize that you can't figure it out, and that the answer is rather meaningless anyway? That's what happened here, but since I already spent an afternoon on it, I thought I'd give you the chance to waste a bit of your time too. A Swedish company, whose product saves the HDMI output from the Canon 7D with higher Chroma sampling , stirred up a bit of an internet rumpus when someone read their product description and saw trouble. In noting that the 7D’s HDMI output is 1620 x 910 (rather than 1920 x 1080), they wrote that the HDMI output has the “ same crop as the 1080p compressed material on the camera’s memory card. ” This was interpreted to mean - by many - that the 7D was taking the image from the sensor, creating a 1620 x 910 image, and then upscaling that to make the final 1920 x 1080 image. Much discussion ensued here , and here , and it wasn't like

Movie inspiration...who knew?

Sure, Hollywood has exploited other mediums (Books, TV sitcoms) for movie ideas, but who knew that movies like The Fast and the Furious , Snakes on a Plane , and Cloverfield were originally video console games?! Who indeed. But Prashanth Kamalakanthan at Penny Design has gone and imagined (or re-imagined) what the packaging of these games would have looked like way back in 1976.

Canon's next Pro video cam

Thinking of getting a Sony HDR-AX2000 or HXR-NX5U? Chris Hurd at makes things more interesting for you with news of Canon's next pro-camera. Though there's no model number, price or availability, they are working up a solid-state version of the XH G1S, and you can see photos of the prototype at the above link. Like the Sony model, it appears to rework an existing model (with maybe a few more body tweaks than Sony's models) and add dual-card recording; probably in AVCHD format. The camera will use three-CCDs, and is not based on the chip(s) from Canon's DSLR's (there had been rumors that Canon would bring out a more video-centric camera based on the imaging technology in the DSLRs, but it looks like that won't happen this year.) According to another poster on dvinfo, Canon told him at CES that the model will be announced at NAB.

I keep getting the wrong book

A while back I set out to learn Apple’s Motion 4 program using the book Apple Pro Training Series: Motion 1 . It actually worked out really well. Even though newer features like the 3D camera weren’t covered, I got enough out of it to actually start doing some useful things with the program. At the time, I was tempted to buy the new book for Motion 4 , but the cheapskate in me decided to get the Apple Pro Training Series: Motion 4 Quick-Reference Guide instead, figuring it might be just as useful to me having a Reference Guide to answer questions as I encountered them, rather than doing a series of new exercises. Unfortunately, the original publish date of the Quick Reference Guide has been pushed back a couple of times (I think it was originally supposed to be out before the end of 2009) and the current estimated date is sometime in April. Meanwhile, every day, Amazon tempts me with their Gold Box deals; which usually means a dollar or so off something from my wishlist, or an

The Story Beyond The Still: The Cabbie

Vincent Laforet - who made Reverie , the film that created a sensation when the Canon 5D Mark II was introduced - has a short film called " The Cabbie ." The premise: Canon asked me to interpret what story I saw beyond the still, and to tell that story with the new Canon EOS 7D. and now it appears they are going to have the first user-generated HD Video Contest where photographers become filmmakers, and we all see beyond the still . My short film will be the first chapter of seven, each ending with a still photograph for the next aspiring filmmaker to interpret. Posing the question to everyone, what do you see beyond the still? There's no other information about the competition yet: it will be announced on January 15th. Stay tuned. The Story Beyond The Still: The Cabbie from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo .

HDR-AX2000 gets price at B & H Photo

The HDR-AX2000 now has a price at B & H Photo: $3,4999 . This is the same as listed at Amazon. No word on actual availability; it's listed only as available for pre-order.

Canon 5D Mark II 24p firmware just around the corner

Sleuths have noticed that the page for the upcoming San Francisco SuperMeet (a get together for Final Cut Pro editors) has a raffle prize of a Canon 5D Mark II with 2010 FIRMWARE UPDATE (1080 24p, 25fps/29.97, 720/60P). Daniel Berube, one of the organizers of the event (and of the Boston Final Cut Pro Group), has a close affiliation with Canon, so I'm betting this information is accurate, and the update will be out in the next few weeks.

The HXR-NX5U & HDR-AX2000 Page

I've been obsessing a bit over the new Sony semi-pro/pro AVCHD camcorders, and thought it would be worth assembling together the different bits into a more coherent whole. So I've put together a HXR-NX5U & HDR-AX2000 Page. Not much new has been added since the camera's were announced, but hopefully it will grow.

I just don't get it....

Gizmodo can be a great source for new gadget info, but sometimes they seem to go off on a tangent. I do that too, but I don't have an editor! What's their excuse?! Their latest piece to catch my eye: a Sony rep can't explain why they have 17 new cameras and camcorders in 10 seconds obviously they don't know what people want! Now, why the guy didn't just say "People want choice in features and price," or something like that, I don't know. Perhaps he was thrown because he assumed he was going to get a serious question? But seriously; Given 10 seconds, could a Toyota rep explain why they sell 18 different vehicles in anything less than platitudes? And by my count, Canon announced 12 new camcorders, and four cameras, for a total of 16. I guess more hilarity will be ahead if Gizmodo managed to get to the Canon booth. Of course, I'm biased. I just did a rough count and I think I own more than 10 cameras and camcorders. I hope someone from

Online Learning lab from Rule | Boston Camera

Rule Systems | Boston Camera have been running a series of lectures/demos on various things to do with video production. I've been to a couple of them, and found them worthwhile. If you're in the Boston area, it's worth checking out. This month they have three classes: Jan 13: Tapeless Workflow Tools (including 3D) , Jan 20: Intro to Avid Media Access , Jan 27: Collaborative Editing Solutions . If you couldn't make it to them, they've put video of some of the past lectures up on Vimeo . Topics up already include: Camera Supports (Steadicam's etc.), Tapeless Workflow, Red One/Avid, Lighting 101 and Cult Cameras (Digital SLRs, Canon 7D, etc.) 9/30/09 Camera Support Part 1 from Rule Boston Camera on Vimeo .

More 3D

An article appeared in The Sunday Times yesterday, rather breathlessly reporting Hollywood's enthusiasm for 3D. It notes that a number of older movies are going to be retro-fitted for 3D, and some movies in production are being reworked to include 3D before release: Retro-fitting a screen classic with 3-D imagery could take as little as four months, using software to manipulate a digital copy of the film. Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings , said last spring that he wanted to reissue the trilogy in 3-D if Avatar persuaded enough cinemas to put in new 3-D projectors. Last week technicians at Weta, the production company that had worked on the trilogy, said they had experimented with 3-D battle scenes and proclaimed them to be "gob-smacking". another interesting line: Last week the University of Southern California (USC) published a report suggesting that after seeing a 3-D film in the cinema in 2009, 40% of people would prefer to watch television in

3D? or not 3D?

Outside of eBook's, the Google phone, and Sony's adoption of SD cards, the big news of CES seemed to be 3D: Panasonic demoed a $21K 3D video camera, and several vendors demonstrated 3D displays and Blu-ray players. I've resisted writing about it partly due to lack of interest on my part, and partly due to what a NPR reporter described as "skepticism that consumers would want to spend money to replace their displays just after buying into HD." Independent of the price, do people even want 3D, or is it just a fad? I thought about writing something along those lines, but I've already been curmudgeonly recently, and had decided to just ignore the whole thing when I came across this skathing article from Roger Ebert (written back in October 2009): The 3-D process is an abomination that has died many deaths. It failed in the 1950s as a novelty, and again in the 1970s as a device to breathe new life into exhausted franchises. [...] Simply put, has anyone ever

You will be will return home

I just came across a competition called the " 100% Pure New Zealand " contest, where you have to write a three-minute screenplay on how you would ‘Capture the spirit of 100% Pure New Zealand - the youngest country on earth’. Five successful applicants will be flown to New Zealand early in 2010 and will have three weeks to pre-produce, shoot and post-produce their idea to the budget of NZ$100,000, with the help of a small crew and Peter Jackson’s post-production facilities in Wellington. That's the good news - maybe. The bad news? You have 4 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes (at the time of posting) to get your screenplay together, get people to vote, etc. So get to work! Here's the Big Break in a Nutshell: The first thing you need to do is write a three-minute screenplay on how you would ‘Capture the spirit of 100% Pure New Zealand - the youngest country on earth’. You submit your screenplay. It is highly recommended you also supply supporting material in a 6

More on HXR-NX5U does in 10-bit

Aaron Holmes points out that the HXR-NX5U sending 4:2:2 out the HDMI/HDSDI ports isn't that unusual; the HVR-Z5U already does 4:2:2 out it's HDMI port!: did its consumer version, the FX1000 (according to web board posts, anyway). Truly, I don't know of an in-production pro or even semi-pro camcorder with HDMI that *doesn't* output a 4:2:2 signal. So 4:2:2 on HDMI gets a yawn. What's cool about the NX5 is HD-SDI. Unlike HDMI, HD-SDI carries timecode also, which can be used to command external recorders like NanoFlash. Using external recorders with HDMI is a lot more painful, as the recorders must be manually started/stopped, and the non-locking HDMI cables are more prone to disconnecting themselves. Thanks for the correction, and the detail on the differences between HD-SDI and HDMI is enlightening for those of us that might have lost the plot . And yet, I could have sworn that when I was first reading about the NXCAM, Sony made some claims about it's

For the RED Fans

Engadget has a ten minute clip of Ted Schilowitz from RED showing off a RED Scarlet mockup, Redmote, and the BOMB EVF. The Scarlet is not expected until the late spring/summer. Expected prices: $2750 for the Scarlet brain alone, for a full shooting package with lens and kit, $4750.