Saturday, March 27, 2010

Visual Effects for "A Shine of Rainbows"

Dermot Shane of Sepia Films was VFX Supervisor on a small film “A Shine of Rainbows,” that has already won a few awards in the festival circuit, and is being released in Canada on April 9th, and the USA on April 21.

He put together a shot list based on the trailer that shows just some of the effects work done on “small” movies these days. In total there were 150+ VFX shots that were all completed within ten days of picture lock.

We started pre-viz in Avid DS Nitris, cut in Avid Media Composer, and ran VFX concurrent with editorial, using a DS Nitris as the main hub between vfx and editorial. All of the final comps were done in DS Nitris, with some from elements prepared in Nuke, and Maya, but over half of the VFX shots were completely done in DS Nitris.

We had three DS's working on VFX near the end of the show, and moving seamlessly between DS and editorial's Avid's. The assembly, DI and full color grade was done completely in DS with the advantage of being able to open up the comps to grade elements in context
Watch the trailer, and then watch it again while going through the shot list (below.)

iTunes Trailer: A Shine of Rainbows

00:14 Bus drives - this is a matte painting, with in camera elements of water and bus added
00:19 Cloudy sky & islands are added to shot
00:24 Robot seal's control rig removal, digital sand added to cover
00:25 Digital matte painting of the castle elements were done in Photoshop, seperate sky, water & clouds added then the camera move added
00:32 Camera was running off speed so there was a ton of flicker removed
00:37 Grey stormy water was replaced with sunny blue water
00:39 Rainbow, reflection, displacement, particles, all created and completed entirely in my computer
00:40 Rainbow, sparkles, light beams all done in the computer (DS & Nuke) as well
00:56 Series of CU's of Thomas, and a light was off speed so there was alot of flicker, that was removed.
01:05 A seal in a stormy ocean was added to a sunny blue ocean
01:10 The stones we built are enlarged by 200% and then fog added. The elements were shot in a 1/4 scale version of the set made entirely in black. Fog elements tracked in Boujou, ran through Maya, stones enlarged in Nuke, final comp in DS
01:12 The bird was shot diving for chinese food on the pier at Granville Island (where I work), and added to the scene shot in Ireland
01:13 Simple backround clean up, removed a modern house on the hill behind the actors
01:14 Boy falls, shot in daylight, dark sky and camera shake added
01:15 When stone comes to life, it's the director's face added to the stone texture, all done in computer
02:00 Sparkles are added to the cake, this is the only CGI element in the entire film, everything else was shot in camera, or 2D effects in the computer
02:09 Again elements (the falling sparkles is baby powder shot against a black screen, rather than use CGI for example) added to the scene
02:25 The sky has been replaced, and the sun added

The downside to small cameras...

Somewhere, in some bag, I have a Contour HD camera...

But can I find it? nope.

Video Terms - Keifer Test

1. A camera with a large mattebox.
2. A camera or piece of equipment that doesn't look professional or impressive.

3. That DSLR rig passes the Keifer Test

4. Kiefer Sutherland accidentally coined the phrase “The Keifer Test” when he remarked that he needed a big mattebox to act. (Millimeter Dec 1, 2008)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Headphones for my iPhone

It's Friday!! So here's something fun!

I'm not a huge fan of those in-ear headphones for the iPhone - though I use them now and again - so most of the time I'm using "regular" headphones, which makes it interesting when I'm talking to someone on the phone. You hold the phone up like it's a weird shaped microphone; it's just not cool.

Now Sony has announced some inexpensive ($40) headphones that have a built in mic and inline control too. Cool!
Tailor-made for DJs, the dual-purpose DR-V150ipP delivers crisp, commanding sound when you’re mixing pumping club beats. Away from dance floor, it delivers equally commanding sonic performance with your iPod or iPhone. Deep bass and generous power handling are assured by the 30mm ferrite driver. There’s a large adjustable headband for fatigue-free wear during the longest DJ set, while reversible earcups allow convenient ‘single-sided’ monitoring when you’re behind the decks.

An in-line remote control puts commonly-used iPod/iPhone functions within fingertip reach. The small, discreet remote makes it easy to adjust volume, play/pause, skip tracks and control iPod Shuffle’s unique VoiceOver function. As an extra bonus, there’s an integrated microphone that lets iPhone users chat hands-free.

Amazon: Sony DRV150iP Headphones $39.99

Live TV Streaming to iPhone with HTTP

George Bray at has posted a "How To" recipe for building a transcoder to process live and on-demand streams to create MPEG-4 files for HTTP Live Streaming. It's for OS X (either Xserve's or MacPro's suggested.) Live TV Streaming to iPhone with HTTP

NAB rumors

What will be happening at NAB? Who knows, this is all I can guess at right now:

Canon will talk about their 4:2:2 MPEG2 camera, though whether they'll be showing it - or announcing a ship date and price - is anybodies guess. I'm guessing there will be an announcement, but it won't ship for another month or two. If they don't zero in on a date at NAB, then why do the preannounce stuff back in January? That makes little sense unless the real reason for the announcement back then was that they were trying to stop current Canon users from jumping to the Sony NXCAM. I'll let the Internet Conspiracy Theorists munch on that one for a while...

Canon DSLRs - there won't be any new camera (and no video camera using the DSLR chips either) but Canon will probably devote a bit of effort to promoting DSLR's at NAB. Just seems natural they would.

Avid may announce a new version, that's what someone has hinted. Look for better interoperability between Avid and other systems (like Final Cut?)

Adobe will be showing CS5 of Premiere and After Effects and pushing the Mercury Playback engine a lot. It will be interesting to see what other features this release will have. Will Premiere get lost in the buzz for the iPod (and iPad?) authoring in Flash?

Apple doesn't do much at NAB because, well, they're Apple and they don't need no stinking badges! But if they have any answer to Adobe's Mercury Playback engine coming, they need to start talking about it soon. If even idiots like me are getting intrigued, you know there are a lot of other people looking at how long it takes to render or compress a movie to H.264 and wondering if Adobe has a solution for them.

If Canon does announce their new camera, Apple will probably be there demoing/announcing support for it as well.

When they announced the HXR-NX5U, they were kind of coy about the fact that it was the "first" in a series. Is it too soon to announce a second camera in the series? Maybe an AVCHD version of the HVR-HD1000U or HVR-S270U would arouse some interest? I have absolutely nothing to base this on, it's just what I'd expect them to do sometime in the next year.

Unless they want to dive into the world of HD DSLR before Canon totally owns it.

Nikon doesn't seem to be aware of video, or what people do with it.

Mercury Playback Engine, Mercury Playback Engine.  We bring 3D to life too!

This show will mark the end of HDV. Some companies will insist that it's still dominant, and announce new products that support the "most popular medium." They will be deluding themselves. HDV fell ill on January 6th, 2010, and died after a short illness on January 13th, 2010. The body will be buried in the coming year or two.

This could be the year for DSLRs; except that it's the year for 3D, so too bad. Still, expect lots of rigs, follow-focus - what's the plural of follow focus? - loupes, lenses, HDMI monitors and flash cards that are just perfect for DSLR film making. Expect that the BBC will still not accept footage captured with DSLRs, and for everyone else not to care.

Zeiss has new lenses, and maybe the Red Rock Micro wireless remote will finally appear? I wouldn't bet money on that one, but I'm sure there will be lots of other things to spend your money on.

Scarlet? Scarlet? Anyone?

Did someone say 3D? This is going to be the show for 3D video. Every man and his dog will have something related to 3D. Show visitors are going to have headaches at the end of each day after watching unrelenting 3D demos.

There will be lots of TV sets and 3D blu-ray players and 3D authoring/content "stuff", and Panasonic will have their $20K 3D camera. Will anyone else jump in the pool? 

Sony doesn't currently offer a 3D camera, though they have worked with a number of companies that make rigs for stereo shooting. They have also shown pictures of a test camera, and even talked about a consumer 3D camera. Would they show a consumer 3D camera at NAB? Probably not, that's more a CES thing, but that boat sailed back in January and everyone wants to ride the 3D wave this year. I wouldn't be shocked if Sony made some kind of announcement, but I'm not expecting it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Price Hikes

This Friday ticket prices for 3D movies are going up an average of 8.3%, IMAX tickets up 10% and regular movies up 4%.
At one AMC theater in New York, the price for a family of four to see a 3-D screening of Dreamworks Animation's "How to Train your Dragon" this Friday will be $63 before popcorn, soda or candy.
I told you I am a 3D skeptic, didn't I? Closer to home:
Adult ticket prices for 3-D movies will jump to $15.50 from $13.50 at one theater operated by AMC near Boston.
[...]the price hikes reflect a growing belief among theater owners that consumers are "hungry" for 3-D content and are willing to pay more for an enhanced movie-going experience.

One Card to Rule Them All

There must be something in the air - or maybe it was that freakingly magical Photoshop Context-Aware fill demo - but I'm really getting amped up for the announcement of Adobe CS 5 (and this is someone who only uses Photoshop and Illustrator from CS2 right now!)

I haven't been using Premiere Pro since version 1, but now with all this Mercury Playback Engine chatter, I'm getting intrigued. Not only will it accelerate effects and playback, but H.264 compression as well. Now that would be something to get excited about.

Unfortunately, it seems you need a particular kind of graphics card to get it to work. The word at last night's Boston Final Cut Pro User's Group meeting was that Mac users should be looking at the nVIDIA FX4800. A nice piece of hardware that sells for $1,400, though if I want to get that, I'm going to have to replace my decidedly aged Mac Pro. This upgrade could cost me an arm and two legs!

Adobe says that support for other cards will be added, and according to a quote in Millimeter, the it maywork with MacBook Pro's in the future (now THAT would be nice!)
Baker singled out the Apple MacBook Pro as a beneficiary of the Mercury engine. Many Apple notebooks find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to play back even one stream of raw AVCHD MTS files in Premiere Pro and other programs, as this reporter knows well. (I have a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo with the included GeForce 8600M GT, and MTS playback simply does not happen.) Of course, no mobile GPUs are on the current list of supported GPUs, either Mac or PC, so laptop users will have to wait for future developments to employ Mercury playback.


More Thoughts on the Great Camera Shootout - part I

I wrote up some initial thoughts on the Great Camera Shootout last night, but having slept on it, I thought I'd take another stab at it, as a few more observations/thoughts/wishes occurred to me:

Standard Disclaimer
Firstly, I think it's a tremendous effort and I'm really glad they did it. Any comments I make here aren't meant to detract from the overall value of the piece. Yes, it could have been shorter, they could have added other cameras, they could have done this, they could have done that, yada, yada, yada, it doesn't matter. It is still a great experiment and my hat's off to them for getting it done! Thanks guys.

And now, having said that...

More Cameras
I'm sure everyone will be suggesting cameras they wished were included. Why not a RED? Why not a...? You can't do everything. But I personally wish they'd done a "traditional" video camera - like the Sony EX1 or the Panasonic AG-HVX200A - just to round things out.

There's a lot of people out there shooting with those kinds of cameras, thinking of switching, and it would make for a good comparison. Sure, these are expensive cameras, but when you kit up a 5D with lens, rig and monitor, it starts to add up too:

HD DLSR Rig Video Camera
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Sony EX1R
Redrock "Captain Stubling" rig
Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 ZE
Zeiss Telephoto 85mm f/1.4 ZE
Marshall V-LCD70XP-HDMI-CM 7" LCD Field Monitor *

* I included an external monitor for the DSLR - but not for the EX-1 - because I really think you need an external monitor with the DSLR, whereas I think you can get by quite nicely without one with the EX-1. I also didn't include the cost of media (the EX-1 SxS cards are much more expensive than the 5D's Compact Flash.) Similarly, you could buy cheaper lenses, and maybe a cheaper rig; but it's awfully easy to spend a lot more than that on a rig and lenses.

Actual clips
Those of us watching the program didn't get to see the clips on the big screen (or even the smaller big screen!) but it would be great if Zacuto could post some of the clips in a high quality format so we can see the results on our own equipment. Even actual stills would be useful.

Canon is really serious about this
It was interesting that Canon was the only company that sent a representative. I don't think that says negative things about Panasonic and Nikon (who only had one camera each in the shoot out) so much as what it says about Canon's interest in the DSLR video scene.

The Panasonic DMC-GH1 did well
This wasn't really a surprise as Philip Bloom has been saying positive things about that camera for some time now. I handled one briefly for the first time this past weekend at the Panasonic 3D Tour show, and was quite intrigued by the camera. It's smaller than the Canon's, the viewer finder is LCD so it's active while shooting, and even better, the LCD panel on the back swings out and around, which makes it much more useful for monitoring. It also maintains auto focus while shooting, and at just around $1,200, if you're thinking of getting into DSLR video, it's a serious competitor to the Canon T2i.

On the other hand, it only shoots at 24fps in 1080, and the kit 14-140 lens isn't very fast and is hopeless for zooming (it was extremely sticky and jumpy, making it impossible to do anything approaching a zoom.)

Another factor, if you're considering the T2i vs the GH1, is that if you get a T2i and buy good, full-frame lenses for it, you can later move those on to a 5D (or whatever it's replacement is.)

Resolution Tests
I'm really looking forward to part 2 and the resolution tests. I'm particularly interested to hear what some of the film people think of any aliasing issues with the digital cameras.

When is Part 2
Speaking of which, when is part 2 being posted? I can't wait!

Pro Applications Update 2010-01

Apple has released another software update for their Pro apps. Run Software Update to download and install it:

Final Cut Pro

  • Fixes an issue with clip duration when removing reverse speed.
  • Fixes an issue with the Log and Capture window that could prevent the window from closing.
  • Fixes an issue with HDV to Apple ProRes capture via FireWire creating a QuickTime movie with no extension in the Finder.

Cinema Tools

  • Fixes an issue with importing telecine logs.


  • Fixes stability issues when using Motion on computers with limited graphics or system memory.
  • Addresses issues with filters returning rendered results at lower quality.
  • Fixes an issue with the Checkerboard generator rendering incorrectly in 3D.
  • Corrects an image corruption problem when rendering complex projects in 32-bit float after applying a motion blur.
  • Fixes issues with aspect ratios of shapes in projects created by choosing File > Import as Project.
  • Improves the rendering precision of intersecting objects in some 3D scenes.


  • Corrects disk size limitation messages when burning a project to an AVCHD dual-layer disc.
  • Fixes issues with long chapter names and titles not appearing correctly in disc templates.
  • Fixes issues when inserting a DVD-R or BD-RE disc with data already present.
  • Addresses issues with saving and changing music channels and video using surround sound.
  • Corrects color shift when transcoding image sequences.
  • Fixes an issue with WAV audio files when transcoding an image sequence.
  • Addresses an issue with upload to MobileMe with files containing reserved characters.
  • Corrects a problem when burning a Blu-ray or DVD disc from a Final Cut Pro sequence with 5.1 surround sound.
  • Fixes an issue with display of password-protected movies on iPhone.
  • Addresses a pixel aspect ratio compatibility issue.
  • Improves stability when processing large batches.


  • Fixes an issue with CFX nodes not being imported when choosing File > Import > Color Corrections.
  • Addresses several problems with the loading and processing of trackers.
  • Fixes an issue with the green channel on video scopes displaying an incorrect value.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What he said

3-D is a distracting, annoying, anti-realistic, juvenile abomination to use as an excuse for higher prices.
-Roger Ebert

The Great Camera Shootout 2010 - Part 1

The first part of the three-part "Great Camera Shootout 2010" is up at Zacuto's website, and it's well worth watching (and over 30 minutes long!).

All of the shots were taken with Kodak 5217 and Fuji 8553 film, Canon's 5D, 7D and 1D mk4, Nikon's D3s and Panasonic's GH1.

In the first episode they ran three tests of dynamic range and latitude. For those that want to get straight into it, jump to about 8:00 where they show the first test: a High Key scene. The second test is a Low Key scene, and lastly they shot a 13-stop latitude chart. The film showed all the steps, while the 5D managed 10.5 steps, 7D ~11, 1D 11, D3s 11, and the GH1 has 9. The chart test result is interesting because with the actual shots there seemed to be a general like for the 5D over the 7D, which just goes to show that charts don't always equate to real world results.

So as expected, the digital cameras don't have the latitude of film, but it's closer than most people thought it would be (including me!)

Definitely worth watching! The Great Camera Shootout 2010

In the second part they promise a color test, a green screen test, and a resolution test, and they also do some shots with the Canon T2i (which arrived late so they only were able to use it for some things.)

HXR-NX5U Buffer Overflow Problems

The HXR-NX5U has been in people hands for several weeks, and there's been a few reports of problems, most notably with a Buffer Overflow problem that occurs during recording. Not only does it interrupt the camera - and often hang it for several minutes - but it can also corrupt the card(s) and lose your clips (which makes tape suddenly look good again.)

As with any report on the Internet, it's been difficult to isolate or quantify the issue, but at least two people on the forum have reported this problem. One user actually had both his camera, and the FMU unit replaced by Sony, and still had the problem. Interestingly, it seems to be occurring only when doing dual recording (to SD cards and the FMU).

Marshall Levy has been in contact with Sony, and is looking to gather information, specifically:
If you have had this problem with the following:
  1. SDHC (HD) only
  2. SDHC (HD) AND FMU128 (HD)
Also note if you're recording in LPCM or Dolby for audio.
If you have experienced this, you should post to the thread below: If you are experiencing the buffering problem, read/post here only

Should you hold off on buying the HXR-NX5U?
At the moment it's hard to say. Definitely more than one person has encountered this problem, though they all seem to be making dual recordings. They also seem to be recording SD to one device and HD to the other. That's totally legal - and actually something Sony promoted with the camera - though from a purely personal point of view it's not something I would be looking to do with the camera.

Ultimately, you probably should wait if you are planning to do dual recording to see how this resolves (is it a memory problem, a camera problem, or a user problem?)

The Great Camera Shootout 2010

Zacuto, makers of various DSLR accessories, got together an impressive bunch of people to conduct a DSLR vs film shoot-off. The participants included: Jens Bogehegn (Executive Producer), Robert Primes ASC (Director or Photography), Philip Bloom (DP), Ryan Emerson (Colorist), Steve Weiss (Web Series Director).

The first part of the series was supposed to by up at 2PM (CST), but they are running a bit late....seems they under-estimated their render time!!! And it looks like there's a lot of interest; their server seems to be a bit intermittent at the moment. Probably all those DSLR video fans hitting reload, reload, reload.

In the mean time, the Trailer is pretty cool:

UPDATE: clearly they had some problems and their server seemed to be down most of the evening, but the first part is up now here : Shootout

Canon's next Pro Camcorder

Chris Hurd at has written another article about the prototype camcorder that Canon showed back in January. He's also added more photographs.

This promises to be an exciting camera with it's 4:2:2 MPEG2 compression. With this quality compression, could it rival Sony's EX-1 cameras, or will it compete with the NX5U class? There are reports it will have 1/3" chips, rather than the 1/2" in the EX1, so it's hard to know. Will it be priced like the EX1 or the NX5U? There's also a question whether it will be CMOS or CCD (Canon's current professional camcorders are CCD based.)

The prototype in the pictures is a wooden prototype, which suggests the camera may be more than a month or two away. Everyone's expecting more details at NAB, though it might not be available then. Canon’s Next Cam — Photos from SFO SuperMeet, Pt. 1

Photoshop Content-Aware fill

This sneak peek of the Content-Aware fill in Photoshop was posted at Jack Nack's blog. This goes beyond awesome and clear into magic.

Will this be in CS5, or does "future version" mean CS5+? What about Premiere? This would be an amazing feature for Premiere as well. Suddenly I'm excited about CS5...(though I don't have my hopes up for it in Premiere.)

UPDATE: A friend suggested that video would be harder for them to process, and sure, that's true. But video is really a sequence of still frames, so you can think about it as just editing a single frame, and then doing it again...and again. If worst comes to worst, you could edit the sequence in Photoshop if you had to. But to work well, you'd want it to take into account what the previous frame looked like, so editing in Photoshop probably won't be the answer.

But if they can do this kind of magic, I don't think it would be that much harder to make it work on a sequence!

From Still to Motion: in stock at Amazon - maybe

According to Amazon, the new book From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR is in stock...but may require an extra 1-2 days to process.

Sounds to me like it's not quite in stock, or maybe there's high demand.

You can Pre-order/Order from for $31.49 (the book should be out any day now...): From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR (Voices That Matter)

Editing clips - that's "Okay"

I've been editing an interview with someone that said "um" after just about every sentence. As soon as you noticed him doing it, it became very annoying. I noticed it while I was recording the interview, but I wasn't in a situation where I could stop and suggest to them that they try and avoid doing it. Managing talent that is reluctant or nervous about appearing on camera can be a tricky thing and making suggestions like that can just end up throwing them off even more.

So I just let it go, hopeful that I could fix it in post. That was probably a mistake too, because there were a lot of them:

Cuts for first 30 seconds

Cutting out ums, ahhs and other verbal tics can be a real hassle. Not just because you have to get in there with the razer blade and slice away - and hope the audio matches up - but also because you have to do something about the video. If you're lucky and it only happens now and again, you can use a couple of cutaways. In some cases you can do a jump cut and live with it. A dissolve in the video can work too.

It's also interesting how the luck of the draw can have a significant effect on the audio transition. Clearly background sounds can cause problems, but so can run-on phrases. And sometimes you do a cut and for no apparent reason there's suddenly a popping sound that makes the edit stand out.

With about 30 edits, there were at least three where there was a noticeable pop at the transition. In nearly all those cases, moving the edit one frame left or right removes that problem.

It's an odd little thing; wish I knew why it happened.

You can also use an audio fade sometimes (particularly if the person is running words together, making it impossible to do a clean cut.) In those cases it's probably best to put the audio of one clip in one track, the other clip in a second track, and fade them in and out independently, rather than cross fade. You can then play with the fades of the two clips independently.

The real moral of the story; shoot lots of B-roll, you never know when you need it to cover up other problems!

Adobe CS5 launch date - April12

Of particular note: Adobe Mercury Engine (hardware acceleration using graphic cards), and Adobe Story (a script writing application)...

While it will be formerly announced on April 12th, it isn't expected to ship until about a month later.

UPDATED: Added ship date and description of Mercury Engine and Story.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More on Canon DSLR aliasing

Alister Chapman has updated his post about problems with aliasing with Canon's DSLRs, noting that he's seeing aliasing in shots made by Philip Bloom:
I’ve been shot down in flames on other forums for saying that this is a problem, but if even the experts can’t deal with it then what hope does everyone else have? I would love to have the option of shooting with the shallow DoF that the Canon’s offer, but not at the expense of having to avoid any kind of texture.
And Philip Johnston joins in, though he notes that most people watching video on the web aren't going to see most of the issues, though he doesn't think that's good enough reason to overlook the problems:
Can I suggest the watching punter would not be aware of such issues but then do we need to see a further drop in standards as television today in the UK is swamped with poorly produced DV footage.

It's not the Trailers that I hate...

James Cameron reportedly has a deal with Fox that "any time my movies make over a billion dollars I can leave the crap trailers off the DVD."

I don't mind trailers - sometimes I like to watch them. What annoys me are the discs that won't let you hit menu or the chapter jump and quickly get past the trailers if you're not in the mood to watch them.

Lightroom 3 - beta 2 is available

The Lightroom 3 beta 2 is out, and you can find it here: AdobeLabs, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

A blog post at The Lightroom Queen blog lists the changes in this release, particularly it's new video handling and tethering (which works with several Canon and Nikon DSLRs.):

Video Management
  • Videos can be tagged, rated, filtered, added to collections, saved in smart collections, and managed just like the rest of your photos.
  • The little video camera icon identifies the videos and shows the length.
  • Double clicking on the video, or clicking on the icon, will launch the video in your default video software.
  • Video support does not include editing within LR – that’s not its job.
  • Limited set of certified cameras to start with, but more will be added. The officially supported list is: Canon 1Ds Mk2*, 1D Mk3, 1Ds Mk3, 1D Mk4, 5D*, 5D Mark II, EOS 40D, 450D, 500D, EOS 7D, EOS 1000D, Nikon D3, D3X, D3s, D300, D300s, D5000, D700, D90. Other Canon cameras may also already work, other Nikon options are a bit more limited at the moment.
  • You can view the camera settings but you can’t change them remotely.

Transmedia and generating buzz...

An article at CNET about "Transmedia" makes for an interesting follow-on to Raymond De Felitta's latest "Blogging City Island" piece, which detailed how to generate interest from both distributors, and then audiences.

Except that was mainly the old way through movie festivals. Transmedia takes generating "buzz" to the next level:
...when you are taking a single story and distributing components of that single story through a wide array of media. When you collect those pieces of the media, it tells the [whole] story...When [you have] a text message and a video clip on YouTube, and a toy, or even a movie, when those things add up to a larger single story, that's a transmedia experience.
Or is it? Do I really want to get involved in something that requires seeing a movie AND doing a bunch of other things to get the larger story? I'm sure people will experiment with it; the idea of a story being told through separate and different media elements is certainly intriguing. But I don't think that's what most people want.

The question is; are they trying to create a new paradigm of storytelling, or are they just trying to more tightly integrate merchandising and promotion? Is Transmedia really some new way of telling stories, or is it just lipstick on a pig?

CNET: Hollywood scripting getting a multimedia rewrite

Blogging City Island, part V (or six...)

Seems I might have missed an episode of the Blogging City Island series at as they say they are at part 6, and I thought that we were at five! But no matter. Whether it's part V or VI, these have definitely been worth reading. Director Raymond De Felitta's series covers the adventures of making the movie "City Island," which went into limited release last week.

In the latest episode he talks about what happened after the movie wrapped; the process of trying to find a distributor and getting "buzz." This part was written just before the movie was released, so the author doesn't know how it was received, though he remains optimistic no matter what:
A long journey -- and as I write this (on Thursday before we open), I don't know its outcome. But you do. And whatever it may be, I hope you feel like giving the movie 90 minutes of your life. I truly believe you won't wish for your time or money back. And I truly don't wish for the decade of my life that the movie took to get made to be given back to me -- it's all been worth it. Blogging "City Island": After Sundance said no

Note that there's also a review of the movie at "City Island": Family secrets, boiled and steamed

Interview with Bill Warner from Avid

Back in the late 80's I was hanging out at Sommerville Community Access Television, and learning to edit video tape on 3/4" U-matic equipment using three decks and a switcher. Having previously tried to edit 8mm video using a camera and a playback deck, it was quite a step-up for me.

Then one of the staff got a job at a company called Avid. We were told that Avid was working on something called "non-linear editing."

One day some months later, I went out to see a demo of the Avid software and I was blown away. Even though the video being played back on the screen was low resolution - not even SD resolution, let alone what we see when we edit HD these days - and even though their product was aimed at film editing, it was obvious that this was the future of video/film editing. Being able to randomly access your content, apply transitions and review your work almost immediately - and then change it just as quickly - was astounding.

Going back to the "old ways" after that demo was awfully disheartening and frustrating - Adobe Premiere didn't arrive until the end of 1991. has an interview with Bill Warner, one of the founders of Avid, where he talks about how the company got started: Bill Warner - the man who "made" AVID

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lightroom 3 - import and manage video?

According to what appears to be an early press release drop at, beta 2 of Adobe's Lightroom 3 adds "the ability to import and manage video files from DSLR cameras for a streamlined workflow."

I'm wondering what that means....

You can download the beta here (though it's unclear which version you get right now.)

DSLR Follow Focus

The Intuit Focus is a pretty cool looking wired follow-focus unit that uses a notched rubber belt (and small drive unit) to control focus on DLSR lenses. There's a demo video at Viemo.

Unfortunately, I can't find an actual website for the company/developer (there's just an email address on the Vimeo page.) A post on a forum suggested the price was going to be around 2,000 pounds. I think the idea is awesome, but the price makes it unlikely I'll get one...

Red Rock Micro is also working on a wireless follow-focus that (they hope) will cost about $500. They have a preview web page. Check also this interview from Cinema 5D which sounds exciting...with a caveat: "fingers crossed everything will come together".

Adding T2i/550D Support to Canon's EOS Final Cut Pro Plugin

Nathan Beaman at Final Cut User has instructions on how to get the new Canon Final Cut Pro plugin to work with the new Canon T2i/550D (surprisingly, it doesn't right now, even though it was released after that camera.)

Panasonic 3D Tour report

I went down to check out the Panasonic 3D tour yesterday. Panasonic had taken over a store in the Copley Mall for three days (today is the last day in Boston) and had a series of walls set up with different technologies arranged on shelves or on the walls themselves. The first wall on the right-hand side had still cameras, the second video cameras, and the third had a 3D television set. I went straight for that one.

Let me say up front that I'm a bit of a 3D skeptic. I've seen 3D movies a couple of times at Omni theaters, and I have the 3D DVD of Coraline, but I haven't seen Avatar. Though I've found these examples of 3D intriguing, I'm not sure I want to watch it all the time. Or even most of the time. In a way, it always seemed a bit more like a theme park ride than something I want to do regularly.

The first demo TV was out in the open and evidently the fluorescent lighting in the store was effecting the glasses; every now and again there was a very noticeable flickering. The demo people acknowledged this, and said I wouldn't see it in the "theater" set-up in another part of the store. In that section there was a fake roof and dimmer lighting. They seemed to be showing exactly the same clips in the theater section, so I moved over there.

The main clip I saw was of some footage taken in and around the Grand Canyon. It started with a couple at a train station waiting for an old steam train, cut to the train starting, then cut to them walking along the canyon edge. It was very impressively 3D. Actually, it often seemed a little too much 3D; some of the surfaces and objects looked more like cut-outs in front of the background rather than "real life." It was intriguing, but I'm not sure I liked it.

I then went on to the video game demo. This was an NVIDIA PC displaying a 3D modeled, 2D game displayed in 3D. By that, I mean the game was authored as a 2D driving game rendered using 3D modeling. The software creates a stereo 3D image without requiring changes to the game itself. The guy said there were a lot of "2D" games that already worked with this without modification. They were showing a driving game, though the guy said that some of the first person shooters were even more spectacular, but they wanted a demo that was "family friendly."

I actually liked the game demo a lot more than the "real" video demo. I'm not sure why. Maybe the "fake" nature of the 3D graphics worked better with the fake 3D effect.

Finally, a note about the glasses. They didn't seem that comfortable, and I'm not too sure I would want to wear them a lot. I could maybe manage a movie now and again, but that's about all.

After finishing up there, I stopped in at a Best Buy store to see their 3D demo. I was hopeful to see a Samsung setup for comparison, but as luck would have it, this store had a Panasonic display.

I did manage to see some more video there. They had the same Grand Canyon clip, but they also showed a trailer for the animated 3D movie Astro Boy. Interestingly, the 3D effect in the Astro Boy movie were much more modest than those seen in the "live" video.

It's a bit of a conundrum for the producer; do you accent the 3D effect and give viewers "value for money" at the risk of over-accentuating the effect, or do you minimize it at the risk of people wondering why they are bothering wearing the glasses?

Another problem I noticed in these clips was a feeling of flicker in fast motion. I don't know what caused that flicker, but there did seem to be "something going on."

Would I buy a set? I certainly wouldn't rush out and replace an existing set just to get 3D. If I was buying a new set, I'd consider getting a panel with 3D capability, but I'm not sure how much I'd be willing to pay as a premium for functionality that - at the moment - I only think I'd use now and again.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

HDR-AX2000 finally gets discounted!

Given that the HXR-NX5U list price is $4950, though it's selling for $3,999, I think many were surprised that the HDR-AX2000 has been selling at it's list price of $3,499.99.

Well, finally Amazon is offering a discount!  Right now you can get it for $3,468.47 - that's right, a savings of $31.52!

AmazonSony HDR-AX2000 Handycam camcorder