Saturday, May 22, 2010

BBC Sound Effects

When I was growing up, while other kids were watching Monty Python, I was listening to The Goons - (I blame my father. ) The Goons was a BBC radio comedy program produced in the 50's starring Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, and Spike Milligan, the well known typing error, who also wrote the thing.

One of many things that set The Goons apart was it's extensive - and imaginative - use of sound effects; the BBC had (and has) one of the largest sound effects libraries. Which gets me to the point: Pro Sound Effects is offering the BBC Sound Effects Library, pre-installed on hard drives. Prices range from $599 to $4,999.

The BBC Original Sound Effects Library 61-165
Extension to BBCʼs Best of the Best on Hard Drive
The BBC Original Sound Effects Library 61-165 is a versatile international collection of 2,000 royalty-free sounds delivered on hard drive with embedded metadata. Categories include international ambiences from Poland to New Zealand, sounds from World War II, football crowds, and many more. These international sound effects were recorded in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America and beyond.

  • 2800 sound effects (45 GB)
  • 16 /44.1 broadcast .wav files
  • 250 GB Sound Effects Hard Drive (Firewire 400/800, USB 2.0)
  • Free Sound Effects Search Software: NetMix Lite (video )
  • Mac and PC compatible
  • 3-Year Data Replacement Policy

The Call of the West - The Goons
Series 9, Episode 12
First broadcast on January 20, 1959. Script by Spike Milligan. Produced by John Browell

Fortunately for us folks, a bare ten miles away, the US sixth cavalry were in the area. And a bare ten miles in America is equal to three fully-clothed miles in France! Ha Ha Ha!
There's discipline for ya. (spits)
Lieutenant Hern-Hern?
Yes sir?
Where's your horse?
You only called me sir.

The White Balance Tee -- part II

Yesterday, I was wrapping up the news summary and I came across a funny tee shirt and thought I'd write up a short note about it:
DV Culture has a White Balance Here T-shirt
It's funny! Cute! And $20!! But if you can afford such humor, go for it!
DVCulture: White Balance Here Tee
...I didn't really think much about it, and I even miss-typed Cute as Cut! [oh great, you ruined the joke-Ed]

Anyway, imagine my surprise when I get tweeted:
DVCulture: Store is live! @notesonvideo we have lowered our prices for you. :)
And it's now $14.99.

Wait! What?! Is this how Steven Colbert feels?!! Wow, I have influence over T-shirt pricing. [Feel the power-Ed]

I swear to only use this power for good...

Canon has a new solid-state video camera
It's 4:2:2! Awesome! And $6,799!! But if you can afford such technology, go for it!
Canon: XF300

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sony HXR-NX5U - Firmware update coming next week

Sony had already said they had a firmware update for the HXR-NX5 that fixed the Buffer Overflow and "Error writing to external memory" problems some users have encountered. BUT, you had to send the camera in to Sony to get it updated.

Now Sony has told some users that the firmware update will be available for download next week and will be user-installable. User-installable firmware upgrade for NX5!

It was 30 years ago today...

That Luke found out who his father should have seen his face!:

The original trailer:

CamcorderInfo reviews Olympus E-PL1

The Olympus PEN E-PL1 is a Micro Four Thirds format still camera that can also record video at 720p. put it through it's paces, and while it's a small camera with quite good performance - they particularly noted a big reduction in noise compared to the E-P1 - they don't recommend it for those looking for a video-capable DSLR:
There are a number of models from Canon and Panasonic that offer better video quality (and Full HD recording) compared to what the E-PL1 is capable of. The E-PL1's cheap price tag and compact design, however, make it a compelling choice if you're looking to play around with a video mode on a camera with an interchangeable lens system. Olympus E-PL1 DSLR Camera Review

Some things you might want to know about WebM and VP8

Right now, unless you're on the cutting edge of web development or in software/hardware video development, you don't really need to know anything about WebM and VP8. Better to let those on the bleeding edge play with it, and worry about browser adoption rates and things like that, and then in a year or so - if the water seems right - you can jump on in.

But incase you're curious, WebM is a project from Google to create an open video format for the web [subtext: we don't want to pay the H.264 patent holders]

The WebM Project consists of:
  • VP8, a high-quality video codec released under a BSD-style, royalty-free license
  • Vorbis, an already open source and broadly implemented audio codec
  • a container format based on a subset of the Matroska media container
Note that VP8 is the compressor, but WebM is the architecture that the codec plays within (so expect people to use the two names interchangeably.)

Several companies have already announced support for it, including Sorenson, who even has a VP8 Video Encoding with Squeeze 6.5 Beta: Video Tutorial.

But not everyone is so enthusiastic; when asked what he thought about it, Apple's Steve Jobs merely sent a link to an article by Jason Garrett-Glaser, a developer working on the x264 open source project (an H.264 encoder). Garrett-Glaser may be biased, but his article seems well reasoned (which means it's more technical than I can really understand.) He notes:
Overall, VP8 appears to be significantly weaker than H.264 compression-wise. The primary weaknesses mentioned above are the lack of proper adaptive quantization, lack of B-frames, lack of an 8×8 transform, and non-adaptive loop filter. With this in mind, I expect VP8 to be more comparable to VC-1 or H.264 Baseline Profile than with H.264. Of course, this is still significantly better than Theora, and in my tests it beats Dirac quite handily as well.
Which might be okay if, you know, we don't have to pay for it. But even that hope might be too much to wish for, as Garrett-Glaser notes:
Finally, the problem of patents appears to be rearing its ugly head again. VP8 is simply way too similar to H.264: a pithy, if slightly inaccurate, description of VP8 would be “H.264 Baseline Profile with a better entropy coder”. Though I am not a lawyer, I simply cannot believe that they will be able to get away with this, especially in today’s overly litigious day and age.
And MPEG-LA, the consortium that controls H.264 video standard seems to agree. They are already looking at "creating a patent pool license for VP8."

In the mean time, what should we do? Well, nothing. Sure Google owns YouTube, so don't be surprised if they move YouTube to V8, but you'll still be able to upload in H.264 or any other format. Let's not forget; as the owner of YouTube, Google may be the entity that's on the biggest hook for H.264 royalties, so their reasons for pushing another video format may be less than altruistic.

Oddly enough, I was reading a forum yesterday and someone wrote that "H.264 will become just an acquisition format" which - if true - is rather funny. H.264 was developed as a distribution format, not an acquisition one, and was only grudgingly adopted as a legitimate acquisition format as it was adopted by more and more low-end - and now prosumer - video cameras. Most serious users would tell you that H.264 isn't the ideal compressor for capture. It'll be ironic if that's all it becomes.


News from Here & There

Adobe Soundbooth CS5: Short Review and Speech Transcription comparison
Christopher Breen at MacWorld takes a look at Soundbooth CS5 and is woefully underwhelmed:
If you’re considering upgrading to the current version from Soundbooth CS4, don’t bother. There’s not nearly enough new here to justify the purchase.
Unfortunately - or maybe indicatively - he doesn't mention Soundbooth's speech recognition function and whether it's improved from CS4. I had been under the impression that this feature might have been improved; though that perhaps was wishful hoping on the part of other people. For those not following, Soundbooth will take an audio track and attempt to transcribe it, adding the text to the video tracks and making it possible to search for clips based on what is said. It's an incredibly useful feature for documentary filmmakers - if it works.

Over at the Information Technology Forum blog Marcia Gulesian has compared Adobe Soundbooth CS5's performance with Dragon Naturally Speaking 10, and found they are both wanting, but it's an interesting little comparison and insight into the functionality of both products.
MacWorld: Soundbooth CS5
ITFBlog: Speech transcription with Adobe Soundbooth CS5 and Dragon Naturally Speaking 10

Harvard student goes to Cannes
Harvard film student Andrew Wesman made a 21-minute short movie called "Shelley" as his senior thesis, and nearly didn't even submit it:
It didn’t even occur to Wesman to submit “Shelley’’ to Cannes until the last minute. He was staring up at a movie poster on his wall for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,’’ which bore the logo indicating that it had been an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival. “It made me think, ‘Why don’t I submit mine to Cannes?’ ’’ he said.

So he Googled “Cannes’’ and discovered that the deadline for the student competition was that day. Unfortunately, the Post Office was closed and a courier service told him it would cost $80 to send it overnight.
The Boston Globe: Harvard film student gets his shot — at Cannes

More Final Cut Pro Filter updates
FxFactory 2.1.5
05/14/2010 High-performance visual effects for Final Cut Pro, Motion, Final Cut Express and Adobe After Effects. (Demo)
What’s New in this Version
- FxFactory now supports Adobe After Effects CS5 (version 10)
- Yanobox Nodes 1.0 is a new generator that combines text and graphics into beautiful animations.
- Luca Visual FX Light Box 1.0 is a new set of filters and generators.
- FxFactory Pro 2.1.5 includes five new plug-ins, including the “Synthesizer” plug-in in the “NI Stylize” category. This update is free for all existing FxFactory Pro 2 customers.

SupaWipe 1.0.2
05/19/2010 The coolest object transitions for Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express. (Demo)
- Performance tuned for Leopard, templates recall bug fixed. Recommended for all SupaWipe users. Free update for all licence holders.

Hurt Locker Producer goes Ballistic
The producers of The Hurt Locker are out to find the people who downloaded their movie and take them to court. emailed Nicolas Chartier to complain, and got a pithy email back:
I hope your family and your kids end up in jail one day for stealing so maybe they can be taught the difference. Until then, keep being stupid, you're doing that very well.
I think the producer should have been more diplomatic - or maybe ignored the email entirely. On the other hand, the emailer did not just "politely register his disapproval" - as he claims; he actually threatened a boycott:
I will not view, rent or buy any films produced wholly or in part by your company. I will urge my friends and family to take the same actions.
Note that Chartier was banned from the Oscars for email sent to solicit votes for the film; clearly the guy needs to be kept away from email.
BoingBoing: Hurt Locker producer: criticizing our lawsuits makes you a moron and a thief

Zeiss Cine Newsletter
If you're interested in the Zeiss cine lenses, you might want to go and register for their newsletter as they claim they will be sending out a Cine newsletter today: Zeiss Newsletter Registration

And there's a blog post with some pictures comparing some Zeiss lenses with Canon lenses. It's a stills comparison, so not 100% helpful, but better than nothing...

DV Culture has a White Balance Here T-shirt
It's funny! Cute! And $20!! But if you can afford such humor, go for it!
DVCulture: White Balance Here Tee

Thursday, May 20, 2010

3D webcast, Expo and 3D Workshop

May 27th, 11:00AM PDT Webcast
3D Perspectives - Images and VFX
Tim Sassoon - Vxf super for Alice in Wonderland - The Aviator, et al., Cinematographer Barry Braverman and Bob Kertesz, Blue Screen, LLC will discuss:
  • Top 5 issues to be aware of & who can solve them
  • What options are available for acquisition - rigs & camcorders
  • New roles on set - the Stereographer & Director of Photography
  • Over view of post and workflow in addition to new storage requirements
  • Converting 2D to 3D
  • Creating Visual Effects in 3D
Registration is free, but it's limited to 500 people.
Createasphere: Up Next: 3D Perspectives - Images and VFX

Createsphere/EXPLORE Entertainment Technology Exposition
September 21-22 New York
The Entertainment Technology Expo in New York, formerly known as HD EXPO, is where future technology and creative vision converge. Now expanded to two days, the Expo brings together industry experts and technical innovators for lively panel discussions, informative workshops, and a show floor where the technology comes to life.
It's free... Learn More

3D Production Workshops
Setp 19-20 New York NY, (as well as Chicago, Burbank and Washington)
Cost is $795, and limited to 40 people... Learn More
  • Overview of 3D – convergence, role of the Stereographer, history of 3D
  • 3D Choices on set - camcorder and rig options
  • Hands on Camera Lab – students will shoot with the Panasonic 3D camera and participate in mentored shoots with 3D rigs
  • Screening of camera lab footage
  • 3D Post Workflow options
  • Onset viewing options
  • Do & Don’t of 3D with hands on assignments to demo

Fisher Price PXL 2000 Film Festival

There's something about old cameras that seems to attract people...

In 1987 Fisher-Price started selling the PXL 2000, a toy camera invented by James Wickstead Design Associates (JWDA) for under $100. The plastic camera recorded audio and video onto audiocassettes, and according to JWDA was the lightest, least expensive and easiest to use camcorder on the market at the time. More than 400,000 units were sold before it was discontinued in 1989, and it clearly inspired many.

And it clearly still is inspiring some filmmakers. Tonight, Thursday, May 20, 2010, PXL THIS 19, the annual toy camera film festival screens at 8pm at Echo Park FIlm Center, 1200 Alvarado St (at Sunset Blvd) LA CA 90026, 213-484-8846, admission $5.

[Okay, so without being a wet blanket, and acknowledging that often art can be improved by the obstructions around it, I can't help thinking that it's better to film something as well as you can, and then run it through a filter or other post process to give it the "look" you want; rather than use a camera that creates distortion or grainy images you have no control over...]

News from Here & There

More "House" stuff
If you aren't over-Housed yet, Videography has an interview with cinematographer Gale Tattersall. Interestingly, it appears that they got to use the Red Rock Micro remote-control focus (which isn't officially out yet):
Redrock Micro has this wonderful system we used that lets the assistants use an iPhone or iPod to control focus remotely. It's quite an ingenious system that is able to drive the internal focus mechanism within the lens. You have to keep your iPhone in airplane mode, though, so you don't get a call in the middle of your focus!
Videography: Gale Tattersall, Director of Photography, 'House' 'Help Me'

Updated Final Cut Pro filters updated
Boris Continuum Complete 7 AE
05/13/2010 Over 200 filters for Macintosh and Windows versions of Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro CS5, CS4, and CS3. (Demo)
What’s New in this Version
- 11 New Filters
- Support for 64-bit Host Applications
- Adobe After Effects Integration
- Additional On-Screen Widgets
- New Compare Mode Feature Integration
- New Beat Reactor Feature Integration
- Performance Gains

Lock & Load X 1.2
05/13/2010 The worlds fastest stabilizer for FCP. Instant smoothing of camera motion with smart adaptive zoom straight on the FCP timeline. (Demo)
What’s New in this Version
- Now includes integrated Rolling Shutter Reduction to help reduce skew and vertical distortion from CMOS cameras.
- Includes shutter coefficients for Canon 7D, 5D Mark II, 550D, Sony Ex1, Canon Legria and other common CMOS cameras.

Fritz Sennheiser Dies
It's kind of odd when someone dies who you didn't know existed; and yet you should have. In audio, Sennheiser is well known - I have one of their shotgun mics - but I never thought about where the name came from, or that there might have been a Mr Sennheiser.
RadioWorld: Fritz Sennheiser Dies

Sony's affordable 35mm cinema camera - not that affordable!
Well, affordability is in the eye of the budget holder, and I never thought it was going to be sub $10,000 given the costs of other cameras they offer, so it's not really a shock that the "cinema" camera Sony was previewing at NAB is expected to by about $19,000 according to Film & Digital Time.
Film & Digital Time: Sony PL (Z35)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What They Forgot To Tell You...

The next version of Final Cut Pro

All "House" all DSLR all the Time

I guess the test was a success...

Canonrumors is reporting that the next season of House will be shot with 5 and 7D's, though probably using different lenses...

Apple says Final Cut is staying Pro

CNET reports that Apple says that Final Cut will be staying Pro. In response to AppleInsider's article about Apple moving Final Cut away from Pro users - and eerily echoing emails from Steve Jobs - an Apple spokesman told CNET:
The next version of Final Cut is going to be awesome, and our pro customers are going to love it.

So there you go...nothing to worry about!

3T drives are coming

I only just bought a 1.5TB drive, and noticed that the price of 2TB is falling to within consideration [though have you read some of the comments about the Western Digital My Book Essential USB 2.0, these drives seem to include some built-in software in firmware that does odd things and that you CANNOT remove? I'm not sure I want to touch those...]

Now Seagate comes along, talking up 3TB drives, which - frighteningly - no longer seems that big! Initial reports were a bit disturbing for while they said that these drives would work fine with Windows 7 (and NOT work with Windows XP) there was no mention of how they'd work with Mac OS.

Now Electronista reports that Seagate confirmed to them that Snow Leopard should work fine with these drives; and installation may be easier than Windows 7. No information on what happens if you hook these up to Mac OS Leopard...

These 3TB drives are expected later this year.

[Meanwhile, anyone looked at Seagate's new GoFlex system? Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable External Hard Drive]

Electronista: Seagate confirms Mac support for 3TB hard drive

The fear of the future of Final Cut....

I blame the release of Adobe CS5; clearly it's put the cat amongst the Final Cut pigeons, and everyone's paranoid about whether Apple is going to drop the product or otherwise screw things up.

Just last month, someone sent Steve Jobs an email enquiring about the future of Final Cut, and got a "Don't Worry" email back.

Now comes Appleinsider reporting that:
According to a person with knowledge of Apple's internal Pro Apps plans, the company has shuffled around management within the Final Cut team in order to retarget its efforts to more closely match the needs of the majority of its customers. Apple's Mac customer base has steadily shifted from desktop models to notebooks, while also broadening out from a high end creative niche to a wider installed base that includes more prosumer and advanced home users.
Actually, from that quote, it's a little unclear what this might mean, though the article generally leans towards the doom and gloom side of things [hint iMovie!!!!!]

As luck would have it, just the day before, William Wright, a video editor in LA evidently had dropped Steve an email expressing concern about the future of Final Cut, and got back the reply:
We are 100% behind Final Cut Pro. The next update is a whopper.
William then sent Steve a link to the Appleinsider article, asking for a comment, and got back the reply:
Don't believe everything you read...
So there you go...nothing to worry about!

News from Here & There

Philip Bloom interview
B & H Insights newsletter has A conversation with Philip Bloom, an interview conducted with Bloom during a recent trip to New York. Particularly interesting are his comments about using traditional ENG cameras, and switching to HDDSLRs;

I hate to say this. I sold my [Sony] EX1 last year. I still have an EX3. I didn’t need both. I like the EX3 -- the shape, the shade, it’s a great camera. I will use the EX3 on a job this year. I’ve got NanoFlash for it. I’m going to be able to output some really high quality images.

But I’ve shot other documentaries purely with the 7D. I was always scared of using the 7D or the 5D for interviews because of the 12-minute time limit. With the 5D before then it was the issue of 30p (not originally 29.97fps) which is now gone. That was the biggest stumbling block for me on most projects. The 7D came along and fixed that. The 5D got new firmware and fixed that.

We still have the issues of the 12-minute thing. It hasn’t been a big issue for me. An example: I just did a big documentary in Dubai for the Dubai Royal Family. I honestly didn’t think I was going to shoot interviews with the DSLRs. I knew that I was shooting in really boring locations. I knew that it would be a struggle with the EX cameras to get shallow depth of field. I didn’t want to use 35mm adapters, because then I’d have to light it more intensely. It was a tossup.
B&H InsightsA conversation with Philip Bloom

Manfrotto now US Distributor for Genus
Genus, who makes a variety of matte boxes and support gear, is now being distributed by Manfrotto in the US.
Genus: Manfrotto and Genus Announcement

BOSFCPUG presents "Final Cut Friday" June 4 - iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch for Digital Filmmakers
Join the Boston Final Cut Pro User Group and Director Taz Goldstein of for an in-depth look at the latest apps and filmmaker accessories that can turn your iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch into incredibly powerful production tools for content creation
BOSFCPUG: "Final Cut Friday"

CoreMelt Rolling Shutter Reduction

A week and a half ago I came across a mention of CoreMelt and it's Rolling Shutter Reduction, and highlighted it, but now I get a press release dated May 18th saying that CoreMelt is "pleased to launch Rolling Shutter Reduction inside Lock & Load X. CoreMelt's Lock & Load X" -- so I don't know if the page was just a place holder and they just released the software update, or if they just released the press release....

They do say:
We have included shutter coefficient settings for the Canon EOS 5D mkII, 7D and 550D.

This is afree update for current users of Lock & Load, and Lock & Load X is available for Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express, and Motion. A version for After Effects is coming soon.

CoreMelt: Rolling Shutter Reduction

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Webinar: Working with DSLR Video with Adobe CS5 Production Premium

I'm assuming this is an online webinar or some such, anyway, it looks interesting....

Working with DSLR Video with Adobe CS5 Production Premium

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010, 10-11:30 PDT
Join Richard Harrington, co-author of From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR.  He'll explore the options for creating and working with DSLR video in CS5 Production Premium which includes Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Adobe After Effects. You’ll learn everything from practical shooting techniques and essential lighting to easy editing strategies and online sharing. You’ll also be introduced to the latest Dell Precision workstation and NVIDIA Quadro graphic solutions to help you make the best decision to outfit your editing needs – including taking advantage of the latest performance improving updates in CS5.

Register online here: Event Details

[UPDATE] According to the confirmation I received, it's an Acrobat Connect Pro meeting.

Timelapse Dolly

Sean Stiegemeier has taken some stunning time-lapse sequences of that volcano in Iceland nobody can pronounce the name of and put them together a short movie. It's really something:

Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull - May 1st and 2nd, 2010 from Sean Stiegemeier on Vimeo.

Apart from the spectacular scenery, the other thing that stands out about these shots is that he's using a motorized dolly: a prototype (v2.1) of the Dynamic Perception Timelapse Dolly Stage Zero

Dynamic Perception Timelapse Dolly Stage Zero from MILapse on Vimeo.

This looks really interesting because they say it will be reasonably low-cost:

Dynamic Perception's mission is to provide low-cost and easy-to-use photographic motion-control systems. Our focus is to enable creativity and experimentation through open and unencumbered hardware, firmware, and software. Founded by the creators of the OpenMoco open-sourcemotion-control system we are striving to provide flexible and expandable kits for solving any motion-control need.

The website says that it will be available for pre-order soon, and:

The bottom line? Entire six foot rig (you supply the sticks and camera head), motor and controller for WELL under $1000...

Canon XF300/XF305 news

The new Canon 4:2:2 solid-state camcorders, the XF300/XF305, are expected at the end of June, and a few initial hands-on reports are already starting to appear. A lot of questions remain - many of which won't be answered until users have them out in the field - but Chuck Westfall, technical information advisor, Professional Engineering and Solutions Division, Canon U.S.A., Inc. provided some answers to a few questions I had about the cameras:

Canon XF305

What is the situation with the Editing environments support? Will the developers be releasing updates in time for shipment of the camera? What will end users have to do to be able to edit the 50Mbps 4:2:2 video?

Canon has already worked together with the 4 major NLE (Non-Linear Editing) software providers, namely Adobe, Apple, Avid and Grass Valley, to ensure full compatibility of XF series video even before the cameras have been delivered to the market.

Canon will supply plug-in software for Apple's Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer software applications, while Adobe and Grass Valley will supply plug-ins for Adobe Premiere Pro and Edius Pro, respectively.

Canon's XF Codec uses an industry-standard MXF (Materials eXchange Format) file wrapper with MPEG-2 compression. As a result, users will be able to import XF video directly into the 4 major NLE software applications available on the market, as soon as the XF series camcorders are shipped.

What specs are required for the Compact Flash cards?
UDMA-compliant CF cards are recommended. These cards must meet the minimum transfer rate for the shooting mode selected, ranging from 25 Mbps to 50 Mbps.

What's the difference between the Dynamic and Powered modes of the Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS)?
Dynamic IS is recommended for wide-angle focal lengths, especially when the camera operator is walking while recording video. Powered IS is recommended for maximum stability at telephoto focal lengths,

Why the switch to CMOS? Any concern about rolling shutter?
Canon CMOS sensors are well known for high sensitivity, fine detail and low noise. Additionally, CMOS sensors are superior to other types in terms of power consumption. The XF305 and XF300 use a high-speed scanning method to reduce rolling shutter artifacts.

Are batteries from the XH A1 compatible with the XF series, and vice versa?
All XH A1 battery packs are compatible with the XF series. The new BP-955 standard battery pack for the XF series is compatible with the XH A1, but the BP-975 extended capacity battery pack for the XF series is not compatible with the XH-A1. (The BP-975 is too tall to fit into the XH A1's battery compartment.)

B&H Photo: XF300 $6,799.00
B&H Photo: XF305 $7,999.00

News from Here & There

The Making of The Vietnam Sequence From “The Last 3 Minutes”
Shane Hurlbut has been posting some interesting pieces on his blog. The latest is a post about shooting a battle sequence and breaks it down shot-by-shot:
When you design shots that play all out as one shot everything has to work. The camera has to be in sync with the explosions, the performance has to work, the smoke level has to be just right, the focus must be sharp, and I could go on and on.
When McG and I designed the helicopter crash in the beginning of Terminator:Salvation it played as one shot but it was a series of hook-ups as we call them that seamlessly go together to give the viewer the appearance of one complete uninterrupted shot.
Hurblog: The Making of The Vietnam Sequence From “The Last 3 Minutes”

D3s video
Tom Bol provides a short write-up on how he shot a video using the Nikon D3s. He covers the gear he used, which included a tilt-shift lens, and a Red Rock rig.
Tom BolPhotography: D3s video

Philip Bloom moves...
Philip Bloom has been having hosting problems, so he's moved his site to a new provider, and a new URL! It's now:

What are interns good for?
After the Indie filmmakers panel made a strong case for making your movie for as little as you can, with as much free help as you can, I was a bit taken back by this tweet [which just happened to come across the transom, it wasn't related to the comments made at the panel]:
Recruiting interns for free work is a bit exploitive isn't it? I mean how can you expect them to have FCP & Macbook Pro & work for free?
Actually, I agree: expecting an intern to show up with specific gear and work for free does seem a bit too much...

Making money on YouTube
An article on CNET looks at YouTube at five, and notes that it's starting to make money, and compete with "real" networks:
Take, for example, Shane Dawson, who commands more than 35 million monthly views across his latest YouTube videos. That exceeds the typical "American Idol" finale. Or YouTube user Phil DeFranco, whose channel on YouTube, as pointed out by a recent article in Fast Company, "has beaten 'Larry King Live' and 'The O'Reilly Factor' in daily audience." Views interest advertisers, and advertisers bring in money. As DeFranco points out in the same Fast Company article: "Some YouTubers in 2010 will make seven-figure incomes."
CNET: YouTube and the new creative class

Fstoppers Contest: Win a 7D or D300s For The Best BTS Video
It's official; behind the scenes and making-of videos are dead. Or dying. It must be if someone is having a competition to make one. Note that the rules for this competition require that:
1. The video must be created between now and August 1
2. The video must mention Fstoppers in it (verbally or in text form)
Fstoppers: Contest

Petrol Bags introduces the Black Deca line
I know nothing about these bags other than the press release, but the fact that they have internal lighting intrigued me:
An ingenious new internal LED lighting system illuminates the interior of the bag, making contents much easier to identify and organize. The lights are replaceable and easily installed or removed via a convenient internal zipper. Power is supplied by standard AA batteries (not included).
StudioDaily: Petrol Bags Introduces 10th Anniversary Line

Canon 5D - $100 off
Until 7/10. Buy it with an [expensive] Canon printer, and save even more...

The "House" wrap-up

I didn't watch the season finale of "House," partly because I don't watch "House" normally, so watching it because of the camera used to shoot it seemed a bit silly; and also because I didn't think I'd really learn anything. I figured it wasn't going to be terrible - they wouldn't have used it if it was - and not being a regular watcher, I wouldn't even know if this show was stylistically any different.

So I left it to others to watch and report. There's a thread over at Philip Blooms site with some interesting comments. To sum up, I think everyone was generally impressed, or happy with the results, and most of the complaints are acknowledged to be more along the lines of nit-picking than serious criticisms:

The noise was distracting on one…maybe two setups? Otherwise it looked clean and great. The depth of field was a little too shallow for me on some of the bathroom scenes at the end

The only thing I noticed was the color and visual mood shifted a bit much in the bathroom scene from the close up shots to the hallway looking into the bathroom that it was a bit distracting, but this is picky stuff.

Definitely a different look than ‘House’ usually has. I am a huge fan of how House is shot normally, but I thought this episode had a unique look and really paid off. As with any great story I found myself a bit more involved in the drama as the episode went on and less involved with criticizing the camera!

The thing that fasinated me the most was how this episode looked just like every other episode of House I’ve watched. The most obvious difference was the amazing use of shallow depth of field that the 5D can provide.
[Okay, these two people need to compare notes!]

...the color rendering on the skin tones is very unique to the 5D. The wider the shot the more obvious the flat skin tones become. Not sure why the camera shoots like this, perhaps is the lack of color information in the compression.

Some shots, (80mm?) seemed overly blocky/contrasty, but most were nice. Some of the finer detail was lost in the image and seemed softer than it ought to have been. The macro shots with the pills were surreal and very intimate, but it was a bit too much for my tastes with the medium shots where one eye was in focus and the other was a blur, a bit distracting.

In a post on his thoughts about the significance of the episode, Vincent Larforet reports that they mainly used the 24~70mm 2.8 and 70~200mm 2.8, lenses which is interesting. He also notes that the episode took longer and cost more to produce than a standard episode: while HDDSLR systems are cheaper and require small camera support - obviously: a lot of other things (crew/talent/permits etc.) still cost close to the same…. something I’ve been telling many producers over the past 1-2 years. This is especially true when you have an incredibly experienced crew - that is introduced to an entirely new camera system… it may take them a little extra time to get adjusted to the new system… another thing that I’ve been sharing w/ people - there is a learning curve (albeit a short one) with these cameras for even the most highly experienced union crews.

Monday, May 17, 2010

More on "House"

I'm really looking forward to the screening of the last episode of "House" today - I'm getting a little sick of the continual posts and articles about this episode being shot with DSLRs!

Even USA Today has gotten in on the act, though they manage to make it sound like the director shot the episode with his Flip camera: 'House' director producing episode with digital camera, memory card, though it does include some interesting details:
...he convinced the producers to do an entire episode, using 3 5Ds and a host of Canon lenses: 14mm, 20mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, the 70-200mm and 24-70mm zooms. (They didn't have to go out and buy the lenses--Canon loaned them to the producers). For memory cards, he opted for eight 8 GB compact flash cards to shoot the scenes. He opted for smaller capacity cards, because the scenes were short

[NOTE: the 85mm L lens is on sale; grab one and a 5D and start shooting your own episode of House!!!]

Rebates on Canon lenses

I just saw that there are some "instant rebates" being offered on Canon lenses through 7/10. While it's not every lens, there are some good lenses with rebates, including:
A full list - along with other brand lenses and other close-out dates - can be found here: B&H SLR Lenses Rebates

[UPDATED 5/18]: I missed the fact that the Canon Zoom Wide Angle-Telephoto EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Autofocus Lens is $90 off, bringing it to $1,308; less than the grey market version B & H is selling for $1,329!
This is one of the most popular general purpose zoom lenses, so worth consideration, but WARNING! there have been rumors for about the last four months of an IS version of this lens appearing. Who knows if it's true - or when it might happen - and it will undoubtedly be more expensive, but I thought you should know...

Via5D Mark II Team

Third-party plug-ins for Adobe After Effects

Adobe has a page listing 64-bit plug-ins for After Effects

In their own words: Indie filmmakers

The “Making a Feature Film in Massachusetts on an Indie Budget” panel at the recent Independent Film Festival of Boston was moderated by Mike Bowes of Central Productions, with Garth Donovan, director of Philip the Fossil, Mark Colucci, director of Slip and Fall, and Kurt Bergeron, production designer for God of Vampires.

The following is an edited version of their comments:

Q: How do you make it happen?
Garth: For me it’s belief in the script. Once you have the script and the actors, then you can find gear, you can find people who will be hungry to work on your film.

Kurt: A lot of it was just going out to everyone we knew. If you gave us a thousand dollars, we gave you a producer’s credit. If you gave us five thousand dollars we gave you an executive producer’s credit. We raised fifteen hundred dollars having a raffle at conventions, and whoever won the raffle got to die in the movie. That worked so well we raised another fifteen hundred dollars, and whoever won the second raffle got to kill the guy that one the first raffle. This movie was getting made no matter what.

[ltor] Kurt Bergeron, Mark Delucci, Garth Donovan and Mike Bowes

Q: How do you know that the script is ready?
Garth: You have to look outside yourself for that. If you don’t, you’re going to find out at some point that it’s limited. You have to send it out and have others read it […] people that you trust, filmmakers that you trust, laymen that you trust, your sister’s friend that just likes movies. It’s important that you don’t just give it to film geeks, who are like “Oh, you’re going to use a dolly on page 13!”

Mike: I have ten to fifteen people that I always send stuff out to. I work mostly in comedy and things are typically funnier to you if you’ve written it or involved in it. They might make sense to you, but you might not have explained it well on the page.


After Effects CS5 review at MacWorld

Jeff Foster reviews After Effects CS5 for MacWorld and reports a significant performance improvement with the 64-bit support, though notes that all your plug-ins need to be upgraded and CS5 is not backward compatible with CS4. Roto Brush requires times and practice, and Mocha for After Effects (which is included) is not the full version, but otherwise he's impressed.
MacWorld: After Effects CS5

Canon congratulates "House"

The season finale of House airs tonight, Monday, May 17 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX, and Canon has issued a press release reminding everyone that this episode was shot entirely on Canon DSLR cameras:
“We take great pleasure in congratulating the cast and crew of HOUSE on completing the first network television episode to be completely shot on a DSLR camera,” stated Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon U.S.A., “This milestone marks a paradigm shift in the way professional cinematographers and filmmakers capture HD video.”
Canon: [Note: as at posting time, this link is broken]Canon U.S.A. Congratulates HOUSE on Completing the First Network Television Episode Shot on a Canon DSLR
Philip Bloom: In depth interview with Greg Yaitanes, Executive Producer and Director of “House” Season Finale shot on Canon 5DmkII

Sunday, May 16, 2010

News from Here & There

10 Essential Websites for Indie filmmakers
To those aspiring filmmakers out there, here are 10 websites worth checking out.
Sireh Cengkeh: 10 Essential Websites for Indie filmmakers

When musicians made money
Mike Jagger, interviewed about The Stones musical past, and embracing technology:
I am quite relaxed about it. But, you know, it is a massive change and it does alter the fact that people don't make as much money out of records.
But I have a take on that - people only made money out of records for a very, very small time. When The Rolling Stones started out, we didn't make any money out of records because record companies wouldn't pay you! They didn't pay anyone!
Then, there was a small period from 1970 to 1997, where people did get paid, and they got paid very handsomely and everyone made money. But now that period has gone.
BBC: Sir Mick Jagger goes back to Exile

An Hour of CS5 for Designers Online Seminar
Look forward to a filled hour going from Photoshop, through Illustrator and into InDesign and the brand new FlashCatalyst, showing you a bit what you can do there after working in both Photoshop and Illustrator.
May 26, 2010 2:00 pm EST

Woody Allen at Cannes
Andrew O'Hehir reports from Cannes on Woody Allen's "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger," and is less than impressed, though he concludes with an interesting quote from Allen:
"I'm not the first person to observe that you have to have illusions in order to be happy. Freud said it, Nietzsche said it, Eugene O'Neill said it. If I met those people at a party, I'd think they were ridiculous and silly. But they'd be happier than I am." Cannes: Woody Allen's "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger"