Saturday, February 13, 2010

Clients from Heck...

This is hilarious....maybe it goes on a little too long (just like the reality!) but it's worth watching.

Whoosh! - A producer and her editor search for the perfect sound effect.

Whoosh! - watch more funny videos

Philip Bloom HD-DSLR Masterclass in LA, March 6th

Philip Bloom will be conducting an HD DSLR Canon Master Class on Sat March 6th in LA. It's $149 for a three hour tour...I mean class. He also mentions the possibility of having an informal meet-up on Sunday. You can book here.

Canon EOS DLSR plug-in for FCP in March?

The Final Cut Pro plug-in that Canon previously announced is now expected sometime in March.

Canon EOS 550D pre-production image quality tests

DxOMark does tests of a pre-production EOS 550D(Rebel T2i) to test ISO sensitivity, Signal to Noise, Dynamic Range, Tonal Range and Color Sensitivity.

You can compare the results to the Canon 7D, and they are very close (so close that I don't know if the differences really mean anything.)


Sony PMW-EX1R videos

Rick Young and Matt Davis are both fans of the Sony PMW-EX1R and have a couple of videos at where they unpack their new toys and later give impressions of the camera.

Friday, February 12, 2010

HDR-AX2000 Now Available

I just got an email from that the HDR-AX2000 is in stock, with an estimated ship date of February 15th.

Amazon now has an In Stock date too, though it's for February 19th, with the following caveat:
Severe Weather Alert: Due to winter storms on the East Coast of the United States, many packages will be delayed.
The price is the same for both: $3,499.99, which seems too close to the price being asked for the HXR-NX5U at places like B&H for my liking.

Amazon: Sony HDR-AX2000 Handycam camcorder
B & H: Sony HXR-NX5U NXCAM Professional Camcorder

How Pentax K-7 Promotional video was made

Wirefresh has a short article on the promotional video Pentax had made to promote the SLR K-7's video capabilities. Note that the K-7 is limited to 720P (but that's perfectly fine for a lot of things!)

Rick Young looks at the HXR-NX5E

Rick Young got his hands on a HXR-NX5E in Barcelona, and takes it for a spin - lifes, tough, huh? He describes it as an evolution of earlier models, and really seems to like it. The video includes shots made with the HXR-NX5E, unfortunately, the resolution of the video is so low that it's a bit hard to tell how good (or bad) the camera really is.

Interesting things: Sony sold over 100,000 HDV cameras. He admits he didn't read the manual! He thinks the SDI output really defines the camera as a professional camera and loves the headphone monitor switch at the back of the camera!

Note the significant color shift between the HXR-NX5E footage and the second camera footage during the shots of the musicians! (it's not said what the second camera is.)

MacTV: This is NXCAM: Barcelona 2010
B&H Photo: HXR-NX5U

From Still to Motion goes to press

The upcoming From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR will go to press in less than 10 days according to a post on their Facebook page yesterday!

You can Pre-order from for $31.49 (37% off): From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR (Voices That Matter)

Kevin Smith on independent films

Kevin Smith spoke at Macworld Expo and offered his thoughts on the state of independent film making. When asked how to get into the business:
"I’d make one. Make one that everybody likes. What do you think happened? Think I was standing over a virgin holding a necronomicon? The trick is to make something everybody digs.”
He also regrets the closure of Miramax Films:
“It shows you the state of the business right now. Hate to throw that out to the independent filmmakers, but the market is f$%^#d.”

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Euphoniz MC Color Grading Surface

Though it was announced back in September, it appears that the Euphoniz MC Color Grading Surface has only just started shipping. The MC Color is a worksurface for Apple Color that has three trackballs and lots of programmable buttons. It works with the Mac via Ethernet. Features include:
  • 3 optical trackballs for modifying color values, vignettes and pan and scan
  • 3 optical trackwheels for controlling contrast sliders, vignettes and pan and scan
  • 6 touch-sensitive rotary encoders for adjusting parameters
  • 6 high-resolution OLED displays show parameter names and values
  • 9 programmable soft keys that automatically update their function for each room in Color
  • Comprehensive transport and navigation controls
  • Dedicated copy/paste grade buttons for memory banks 1-4
An over-view video is available as well as a guided tour and brochure.

It's a real cool toy, but at $1,500 it's perhaps only for the serious Apple Color user.

Cap proposed for Film Tax Credits in Massachusetts

Over the past few years, Massachusetts has made a play for movie production with tax incentives for film production. For every $100 spent, a company can get back $25 from the state.

But Gov. Patrick’s recent budget proposal includes a $50 million cap on the film tax credit for the next two years –- a cut of $75 million.

WBUR: Despite Growing Local Companies, A Cap Proposed For Film Tax Credits

5 Camera driving plate rig

This is pretty awesome; a five camera rig used to shoot driving plates; and the five cameras are all Canon's SLRs! The short movie below features Rodney Charters and Sam Nicholson, and there's some interesting quotes:
Significantly we have shot all the plates this season for "24" on 5Ds and 1Ds, so now we're moving it into principle photography, second unit, and very soon to be first unit.

We are very much encouraging Canon to build us a set of motion picture Canon lenses for these cameras that will give us things like meta data and auto-focusing while shooting, which could be really revolutionary.
Read more about it here and here at the Planet5D blog.

Shooting Driving Plates for 24 from Stargate Studios on Vimeo.

Mr Hitler is really not happy about the new Canon 550D/ Rebel T2i

Will Hitler having a fit over something every get old? Probably not. Philip Bloom does it again with the announcement of the Rebel 550D (which makes a great followup to his previous rants about the 7D and 5D Firmware updates....) and some of the things he says in this are especially funny.

Oh, and the film Downfallis definitely worth catching!

Apple to offer $1 TV shows

The Financial Times reports that Apple has a deal with some television networks to offer "U.S." TV shows for $1.00 when the iPad is introduced (shows currently retail for $1.99 for Standard Def and $2.99 for High Def.)

Camera Company Pro Video Show: Mar 12 & 13

If you're in the greater Boston area, the upcoming Camera Company Pro Video Show on Friday March 12th and Saturday March 13th is worth checking out. Manufacturers reps from the major companies will be there (Sony, Canon, JVC and Panasonic), as well as Shure, Manfrotto, AJA Video, Kata, Glidecam, and others. There are also free seminars, and some workshops (that cost very little.) I went to a couple of the workshops last year, and they were definitely worth the $25-$35 cost!

"Producing the Independent PBS Documentary" March 12th, 11am-1pm
Teja Arboleda
Based on his last experience producing a PBS documentary (Telly Award 2009), Arboleda will go through the steps he took to fundraise, secure and set-up interviews on both coasts, travel with equipment and crew, shoot live shows and sit-down interviews, utilize archival footage and prepare edit for broadcast.

Seeing Red! Production Bootcamp for The Red Camera, March 12th, 10am-12pm
Eric Latek, President, Phantazma Pictures
Whether you're already a RED owner, renter, or contemplating using RED on a project, Eric's workshop will show you the functions of the revolutionary Red One Camera, as well as discuss the most cost effective and sensible way to deck out the RED: from lenses to storage this workshop will help make the RED work for you on-set or on-location.

Seeing More Red! Editing & Post Production Solutions for The Red One Camera, March 12th, 1pm-3pm
Eric Latek, President, Phantazma Pictures

Intro & Basics of Final Cut Pro, March 13th, 10am-12pm
Eric Latek, President, Phantazma Pictures

Intro & Basics of Adobe After Effects / Creative Suite 4, March 13th, 1pm-3pm
Eric Latek, President, Phantazma Pictures

Biography Video Productions: Business Tips & Techniques, March 13th, 9am-11am
Hal Slifer, a pioneering video historian, will show you techniques to help you build your Biography Documentary business. Hal will show you how to script, market, produce and shoot family and corporate. Hal will share with you the secrets of his success as he uses humor and compassion to create video legacies that are loved by his clients.

Video for the Web with Flash, March 12, 4pm-6pm, & March 13th, 3pm-5pm
Anthony "Ajay" Coletta, New England Institute of Technology, President, Eastside Media Inc.
This workshop will discuss why Flash is the chosen application for streaming audio & video, and also includes how you can customize your delivery with Video Skins and Action Script, Flash's powerful scripting engine.

The LED Lighting Revolution, March 12, 10am-12pm
David Tames is a documentary filmmaker, educator, and new media technologist
This session will consist of a lively mix of presentation, discussion, and demonstration of several LED lighting instruments currently on the market.

Seven Habits of Highly Successful Interviewers, March 12, 1pm-3pm
David Tames
Through examples and discussion this session will cover practical strategies and techniques including how and why to use interviews, how to choose the right interview style (e.g. walk-and-talk vs. formal sit-down), how to choose a form of address (e.g. first-person vs. third person), tips for preparing for an interview, suggestions for putting subjects at ease, and most importantly, the seven habits of highly successful interviewers.

The Hatchback Production Kit, March 13th, 1pm-3pm
David Tames
David will discuss his video production kit, which is designed to fit completely in the hatchback of a compact car, has been optimized for air-travel, and can be transported by a single person in a pinch.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

USA Today: SLR Video camera accessories' sales grow

When you have USA Today writing about the sales of accessories for filmmakers/video makers shooting using SLR cameras, you know something is going on!
Simply pushing a camera's record button isn't enough if you want something "with some artistic merit," says Brian Valente, a partner with Redrock. "The things we take for granted in a basic consumer video camera just aren't there in the digital SLR."
Via: From Still to Motion

A virtual world of lucid dreaming

Maureen Dowd gets all 3D on us, looking at the future of 3D movies with Jeffrey Katzenberg, the C.E.O. of DreamWorks Animation. She also introduces us to Phil Captain III D McNally, also known as Captain 3D, the resident "hurl-o-meter" at DreamWorks,
the guy who goes through every frame to adjust the amount of depth, dial the intensity up or down, and fix the right-eye/left-eye camera settings so that moviegoers can enjoy dragons skydiving past them without having to turn their popcorn bags into motion-sickness bags.
Along the way, you get answers to important questions, like: will Sandra Bullock comedies be in 3D - absolutely! Katzenberg thinks that 3D is the third great revolution in movies - after talkies and color - and there is much waxing poetic, though there are a few moments where we drop back from the lucid reality:
But both Katzenberg and the Captain concede that some movies may be too action-packed or intense — yes, they’re talking about you, Michael Bay and Martin Scorsese — to be experienced in 3-D because, as McNally says, “carrying that much data into the brain is not an enjoyable situation.”
Maybe one day we'll be able to enjoy Maureen Dowd's columns in 3D.

Is now a good time to buy a camcorder?

Thinking of buying a camcorder? Now might be a good time to buy. The best time to buy cameras - according to several frugal guide websites - is in February.

It makes sense; the new models announced at CES are just about to arrive and the old models are being cleared out or winding up production, so now is an excellent time to buy; if you’re okay with last years model.

As just two examples, Canon VIXIA HF S100 HD is selling for $795 right now, while the newer HF S200 is going for $999. The Sony HDR-CX100 is selling for $331, while the Sony HDR-CX150 is $549. Okay, you're getting last years model, but that  may not be that bad, for while manufacturers continue to add new features and improve low low-light capabilities, the new years models aren’t always a huge step forward (and can sometimes be a tiny step backwards.)

The same is true for still cameras, though it's interesting that theCanon EOS Rebel T1i is currently priced the same as it's replacement, the Rebel T2i. I'd definitely wait for the latter, even if the T1i was cheaper!

So if you're thinking of getting a camera, now may be the time to do it.


Price history for Canon HFS100 at (from

Price history for Sony HDR-CX100 at (from

Joseph Bogacz Canon USA talks about MPEG codec

Rick Young has a great blog about video production at MacVideo, and he's done an interview with Joseph Bogacz, Product Marketing Division, Canon about the new Canon 4:2:2 MPEG-2 codec, as well as doing some hinting about the camera prototype that they have "shown under glass."

It's an interesting interview, though when they talk about affordable being "under $10,000" it kinda made my heart stop. The only thing he says about the Mark 5D II firmware update is that is will be sometime in the first half of the year.

MacVideoTV: Canon reveal prototype 4:2:2 camera; 50mbps; recording to MPEG-2

Updated Final Cut Pro plug-ins

Several updated Final Cut Pro plug-ins have appeared in the FCP downloads section yesterday (but NOT the Canon EOS plug-in.)

P2 Flow1.2
A metadata editor, player and logging application for the Panasonic P2 format. (Demo)

CoreMelt Complete V2 2.3c
GPU accelerated tools for Motion Graphics Artists and Editors who want more Grunt in their workflow. This version now contains Lock & Load X (licensed separately or as bundle)(Shareware)

MovieLogger 1.7.2
The fastest and simplest way to log footage with text descriptions that can be exported to Final Cut Pro markers. This version fixes some bugs(Demo)

Lock & Load X 1.1
The worlds fastest stabilizer for FCP. Instant smoothing of camera motion with smart adaptive zoom straight on the FCP timeline. This version is completely rewritten for faster analyzing, up to twice as fast. (Demo)

New Toys I'm not that interested in...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

UPDATE: Rebel T2i limited to 4GB?

Though I've been unable to find a definitive answer, I have found two sites that quote specs for the T2i/550D that specifically say that the movie files are limited to 4GB.

I can't help but think that had Canon made the T2i/550D capable of recording longer than that, they would have made a mention of it.... being able to record HD for 29 minutes is a significant change.

Canon Rebel T2i/550D vs the 7D

Right now, you can buy the Canon EOS 7D for $1699.99, or you can wait a few weeks and get the Rebel T2i / (550D) So what should you do?

Seems pretty obvious; buy 2 Rebel T2i's! Well, maybe not, but if you were thinking of getting the 7D just for video, then maybe the Rebel is the way to go.

Both support the same video mode (HD 1920x1080 at 30 (29.97), 25 or 24 (23.976) fps, 1280x720 or  640x480 at 60 (59.94) or 50 fps), have the same crop factor (1.6), same resolution sensor - it’s unclear if it’s exactly the same chip - and support manual setting of aperture and shutter in video mode. The most significant differences – for shooting video – are less to do with the video and more to do with the build quality of the cameras. Most notably, the 7D is magnesium alloy rather than polycarbonate and has better weather sealing. Of course, this comes at the expense of weight.

Other notable differences: The T2i uses SDHC/SDXC cards while the 7D uses Compact Flash. The T2i uses a new LP-E8 battery, while the 7D uses LP-E6 (which is also used by the Canon 5D Mark II.) From the numbers Canon is quoting, the battery life of the 7D is about 15-20% longer than the Rebel. While both support ISO from 100-6400, the 7D can extend to 12800.

According to the specs, the T2i meters in Live-View using Real-time evaluative metering, while the 7D also supports center-weighted average metering.

The Rebel is much lighter (18.7 oz./530g(including battery vs 28.9 oz./820g body only) and has a higher resolution LCD screen 1,040,000 dots with 160 degree viewing angle vs 920,000 and 170 degree viewing angle on the 7D.

For still photographers the differences are more significant. The 7D supports sRaw and mRaw (in addition to RAW + JPEG supported by the T2i) has 19 AF-points vs 9, Color Temperature setting, a higher shutter speed (1/8000 vs 1/4000), a 100% pentaprism vs a 95% pentamirror, and 27 custom functions vs. 12. The 7D also works with the Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E5A.

The 7D has the additional LCD display on the top, and supports a higher continuous mode (8 vs 3.7) and a maximum burst mode of 94 vs. 34 for JPEG Large/Fine.

One BIG difference?
It’s being rumored that because the SDXC cards will support exFAT, this will do away with the 4GB file / 12 minutes limitation that exists in the 7D and 5D Mark II.

As exciting as this possibility is, I’m waiting to see if they have actually done this, or if they are still limiting recording to 4GB. If they have upgraded the time limit to 29 minutes and 59 seconds in HD, as they do with SD, that would be a significant advantage for the T2i.

Until people get them in their hands, it’s hard to come to a firm conclusion, but at the moment my advice would be that if you are primarily interested in video, the Rebel T2i is the way to go. I think the 7D is still a nicer camera, but you’re paying twice as much, and if you’re only using it for video, why pay for all the extras? Buy the T2i and a good rain cover and be done with it!

And if the T2i does go to 29 minutes recording time, then it will be no contest. The T2i will have a huge advantage over the 7D.


[UPDATED 2/11 - Changed reference to FAT32 to exFAT]

Sunday is Valentines Day (Advertisement)

For Valentine's day, give someone you love a camcorder - in Pink or Red!

....though if you really loved them, You'd give them one of these! (in BLACK) (includes Free Shipping!)

Audio drift issues in Final Cut Pro

Bruce Sharpe at the blog 24 Hour Day, has discovered a problem with audio drift in Final Cut Pro when mixing separate audio tracks and source material with different frame rates.

After noting that some audio recorders have inaccurate clocks (for example he recommends the Zoom H4n over the Zoom H4) he gets down to the meat of the issue:
More specifically if you sometimes work with NTSC frame rates (like 23.98 or 29.97) and sometimes with non-NTSC frame rates (like 25 for PAL or 30 for the Canon 5D), then FCP will almost certainly screw things up unless you are careful.
The problem is that when you import an audio track, Final Cut Pro assigns it a "frame rate" based on the sequence preset that was active when the FCP session in which the project was created was started.

So you want to be careful about what preset you chose before you import your audio, and have all your video match too. He recommends using Compressor to conform all video to a common frame rate. He also recommends always using a preset that matches your clips; either NTSC or non-NTSC.

The article is definitely worth checking out as it covers a few different fixes, and explains the reason for the problem in the first place:

25 Hour Day: DSLR Sync Drift in Final Cut Pro

Apple Releases Aperture 3

It's not really video related -though you can output slide shows in HD - but whatever...

Today Apple announced Aperture 3. Aperture 3 adds 200 new features including Faces, Places and Brushes. Faces uses face detection and recognition to find and organize photos by the people in them. You can view faces across your entire photo library or view just the faces that appear in selected projects. In a new view that speeds up the organization process, Aperture 3 displays faces that have been detected but haven't yet been named.

Places lets you explore your photos based on where they were taken, and automatically reverse geocodes GPS data into user-friendly locations. You can assign locations by dragging-and-dropping photos onto a map or by using location information from GPS enabled cameras, tracking devices or your iPhone photos.

Aperture 3 includes 15 Quick Brushes that perform the most popular tasks like Dodge, Burn, Polarize and Blur. Brushes can automatically detect edges in your images to let you apply or remove effects.

Aperture costs $199, existing users can upgrade for $99. A 30-day trial version is available.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Chris Jones/Philip Bloom podcast

Chris Jones is the co-author of The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook and also keeps a blog and hosts a podcast. In the latest one's he's been hosting DSLR filmmaker Philip Bloom, and topics include:
Philip talks about his summoning to the Skywalker Ranch to meet the Grand Moff George Lucas [and talk about] the film that he shot on his 5D while staying there, and [...] screened for George Lucas, Rick McCallum and Quentin Tarrantino.

Chris Jones Blog

Adobe fixing Flash on the Mac

What with the whole Flash/iPad and Flash/HTML5 thing, Adobe must be getting nervous. Flash has - for as long as I can remember - always been less efficient on Macs than PCs, but Adobe says they are going to address that in the 10.1 update: a 480p video on a 1.8Ghz Mac Mini in Safari uses about 34 percent of CPU on Mac versus 16 percent on Windows (running in BootCamp on same hardware). With Flash Player 10.1, we are optimizing video rendering further on the Mac and expect to reduce CPU usage by half, bringing Mac and Windows closer to parity for video.

via: CNET: Adobe promises faster Flash on Macs

Canon Rebel T2i/550D announced

The Canon 7D too expensive for you? Now you can get the Rebel T2i for about $800, with 18.7 megapixel's and support for 30/25/24 fps at 1080p, and 50/60 fps at 720p.

Dpreview has a hand-on preview:
In many respects the EOS 550D is a 'baby EOS 7D'. As well as getting a resolution boost to a class-leading 18 megapixels and a significantly upgraded movie mode (which now offers full HD capture at up to 30 fps, has full manual control and the option to use an external stereo microphone), the EOS 550D gets the 7D's sophisticated new metering system (bringing it a lot closer to similarly positioned Nikon SLRs). It also sports a new widescreen (3:2) LCD panel, has improved button design and finally offers the ability to customize the Auto ISO function.
[UPDATE] This model also features a "Movie crop" mode, which records with the central 640×480 pixel area of the sensor, creating an effective magnification of approximately seven times.

When I first read about the movie crop mode, I had hoped that it would take the 18MP sensor, and crop it to HD (1920x1080), which would have been an interesting function (doing this would remove the need to rescale the captured image before compressing, and might have improved aliasing issues.)

[UPDATE 12:34PM]
A video from PhotoPlus magazine has a hands-on video that shows the Canon 550D (T2i)

It's up for pre-order at Amazon: Canon EOS Rebel T2i 18 MP CMOS APS-C Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD (Body Only)

Sony HXR-NX5 walk-around

Sean Seah got his hands on an HXR-NX5, and has put together a 9 minute walk-around, showing all of the buttons/controls of the camera, some test footage, as well as some initial thoughts. While he laments the lack of a few features he likes in the EX1 (histogram, two sets of zebras) he thinks this camera points to the end of HDV; liking the affordable solid-state media, as well as the flash drive.

Camcorderinfo reviews Kodak Zi8

Despite various upgrades over previous models, Camcorderinfo isn't enthused by the Kodak Zi8:
Even with its larger sensor, increased pixel count, and Full HD video recording, the Zi8 managed a lackluster performance in most of our video tests—sometimes coming in with worse numbers than last year's Kodak Zx1.
They did like the over-all design, improved white balance, and the addition of full HD recording.

Camcorderinfo: Kodak Zi8

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Hacking your Flip camera

At todays Boston Media Makers meeting, there was an impromptu demo of how to improve - or at least alter - the optics of a Flip camera.

Using Superglue, the adapter ring for a lens from a Digital Concepts lens set was glued in front of the lens of a Flip camera. Once this is fixed, you can screw on either a telephoto or wide angle lens, (if you get a set like this): Digital Concepts-52MM Telephoto/Wide Angle Lens Set (Black) or perhaps this: Digital Concepts 37mm Tele & Wide Camcorder Lens Kit

You can see a Qik video of the process here: McGyvering your Flip camera