When DPReview reviewed the Sony NEX-5/3, they weren't impressed at all, noting slow start-up times, confusing interface and limited controls, and though they didn't get too detailed about video they did point out the very limited video control with no aperture control or exposure lock.
So that's the end of that.
Except that now Camcorderinfo.com has reviewed the NEX-5, and while they also are disappointed with the lack of manual controls, they were somewhat impressed by how well it did with it's automatic settings:
The NEX-5 has some of the best auto controls we've seen on a video-capable DSLR. Its continual autofocus is quiet and fast, and its auto exposure system works surprisingly well. In contrast, however, the camera has very little to offer in terms of manual controls when shooting video.
I wouldn't buy the NEX-5 for its video capabilities, but if you're looking for a still camera that also does video, it might be worth considering.
And if you're looking for a non-video oriented review, check out Imaging Resources extensive article.
A friend is editing a video he took of a stage performance, and I recommended the utility PlurtalEyes for syncing the different video clips. PluralEyes is a software program that will take video and audio files and match them based on the audio tracks.
He downloaded the beta of the Premiere Pro version - after having trouble finding it because he thought I was talking about a tool called Pluralize - and found it did a pretty good job of matching the tracks, but he felt it was perhaps a frame or two off in some cases.
It was only after talking about it for a while that it occurred to us that the speed of sound might be coming into play; he has one camera set-up on the stage, and two set up at the back of the auditorium. He reckoned it was about 100 feet from the front of the stage to the back of the hall.
A quick search turned up the speed of sound in feet per second: 1,125.
Which translates to: 37.5 ft every 1/30 second.
Which means that the audio could be two or three frames out! (he reckons two frames.)
Remember that next time someone says you don't need middle school science to succeed!
DSLR Viewfilder Comparison
Nino Leitner has put together a comparison of several different DSLR viewfinders:
Zacuto Z-Finder Jr.
Cavision LCD viewfinder set for 5D Mark II
LCDVF DSLR viewfinder
Hoodman HoodLoupe 3.0
Redrock Micro microFinder Loupe Accessory Kit
Z-Finder Pro 2.5x
For those on a budget, he recommends the Z-Finder Jr. or the LCDVF. Otherwise he likes the Z-Finder Pro. 2.5x.
I've been considering the Z-Finder Pro, but was confused about the difference between the 2.5x vs. the 3x, and which was the best one to get. I was therefore interested to read Nino's comments about the two:
To be honest, I found the 3x magnfication of Z-Finder v2 too extreme as it was impossible to view the entire frame at once – I found myself looking around all the time and I ended up with some shots that showed more than what I had in mind when shooting it.
The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA is running a Trailer Smackdown competition. Create an original trailer for the fictional movie “Labor Day” which must include one item from each column listed on the entry form (“Genre”, “Location”, “Character”, and “Action”). One written-in “Wild Card” will be allowed per entry.
All films submitted must be less than two (2) minutes in length, and the entry deadline is July 13th. It costs $10 to enter.
Createasphere/LEARN is offering the following free webcast on July 8th, 11:00am PDT (limited to 500)
The RED MX cameras and the soon to be released Epic are forcing a rapid evolution in RAW image capture. The industry is faced with the fact that beginners and experts alike all need to master new workflows. Information sharing is the best way to make sure everyone is aware of current capture, post, and distribution methods. So, we have designed this webcast to cover the urgent topics of the day from the experts in the field. In this webcast we will discuss optimized RAW image capture on the RED MX and Epic cameras, preparing a proper post workflow in every genre, color sciences of RED for film and RED for television, and how RED is being used on international projects.
Steve Freebairn, will share his experience with on-set RED management for feature films (like Pirates 4)
Chris Parker, from Bling Digital, will address using RED across multiple countries for network TV.
Michael Cioni, CEO of Lightiron Digital, will present file-based workflow advancements.
Ted Schilowiz, leader of the RED charge, will be on hand to ensure this information is the most updated and accurate available.
File this under "news that's not news," but Steve Jobs has confirmed that Blu-ray will never come to the Mac. MacRumors.com posted extracts from an email exchange between Jobs and a customer, the highlight being:
Bluray is looking more and more like one of the high end audio formats that appeared as the successor to the CD - like it will be beaten by Internet downloadable formats.
Not really s surprise given past indications, but in a way it's nice to have it finally confirmed. I guess we can all get on with our lives now...
BOSFCPUG presents in association with RULE Boston Camera
PHILIP BLOOM $99 DSLR WORKSHOPS - "Harnessing the Power of your DSLR"
Only $99, this one day Philip Bloom DSLR workshop will take place on Saturday, July 17th and will be repeated on Sunday, July 18th - Note: This is a one day intensive workshop that is repeated on both Saturday and Sunday.
Covering all the Canon EOS DSLRs and the Panasonic GH1, this all day class is for intermediate users, ideally for people who have the cameras already and are looking to take their skills to the next level...
Topics covered include the following and much more:
Differences in the cameras
Lens selection: When to use the right lens for your shots
Choosing the right accessories for your DSLR
Lighting for DSLR filmmaking
Recording proper sound for DSLR filmmaking
Timelapse recording with your DSLR
Production workflow techniques
Philip's post editing best practices using Final Cut Pro, Adobe Creative Suite 5 and Avid
DATES: Saturday, July 17th;; Repeats on Sunday, July 18th TIMES: 9:30AM - 6PM (Check-in at 9AM) VENUE: RULE Boston Camera, 1284 Soldier's Field Road, Boston, MA 02135
All-in-all, it's looking pretty impressive, even though I agree; the iPhone 4 does have terrible wobble and rolling shutter, and really only deserves attention as a video camera because you're likely to have it with you. Specifically setting out to use it for a project - now that so many people have done most of the firsts - just seems a bit silly.
And the iPhone 4 won't be getting the distinction of shooting the first feature film. At least one film has already claimed that title: South African filmmaker Aryan Kaganof shot SMS Sugar Man” earlier this year for 1 million rand ($164,000) in just twelve days using eight Sony Ericsson W900i cell phones.
Meanwhile, MacDailyNews reports that when one user complained about being unable to upload HD video to YouTube directly from the phone, Steve Jobs responded:
"Over the air in the future."
"In the future" is a very good answer, and can be used for most situations. It's almost always true, too. But it isn't enough to placate Chris Pirillo, who writes on his blog:
I believed that I would be able to record, save, edit and upload my video right from my device. How silly am I for assuming such a thing?
That's a rhetorical question, right Chris?
But it's not all chocolates and roses, and some people over at the DVInfo forum foresee very bad things because the unwashed masses will be shooting with iPhone's - or even worse, doing it themselves rather than hiring professionals:
I seriously think that it will become almost impossible to just make a middle class living in production very soon, for many, it is the reality today that while they can work in the industry, many of us are constantly losing work to clients who will just "do it themselves" or will "do it in-house". Can we, as pros do it better? Definitely. But the bar for what is acceptable is lowering by the minute.
The same could be said about nearly every industry that computers - and I'll classify the iPhone as a computer - have touched. Just look at what desktop publishing did...just look at the ongoing newspapers vs. the internet situation.
One writer also noted a problem with clients providing footage from low-priced cameras:
I've cut stuff shot on Flips - conference delegates interviewing other conference delegates - and what took the client by surprise was the sheer time it took to process the video and audio into something watchable. Noisy video doesn't compress well, audio with a rear-facing microphone doesn't sound good in interviews.
Interesting times indeed. Engadget reports that the Senior VP of Cisco's Emerging Technologies Group has hinted there will be a WiFi enabled Flip video camera by the end of 2010, and they would like to support FaceTime.
24fps in low light?
Finally, while the iPhone 4 supports HD at 1280x720, the frame rate appears to be "up to" 30fps, and a couple of users have reported that it drops to 24fps in low light situations. On the Apple Discussions board, one user wrote:
I tried both with the new 720p recording and with the front facing VGA camera.
720p - 23.99fps , H.264, 1280 x 720, Millions
AAC, 1 channels, 44100 Hz Data rate: 10.42 Mbit/s
VGA - 24.00fps H.264, 640 x 480, Millions
AAC, Mono, 44.100 kHz Data Rate: 3,530.52 kbit/s
They could be dropping the frame rate in low light so they can lower the shutter speed, or it could be because the noisier low-light images compress less efficiently. There seems no way to control this, at least with the current iPhone camera app.
The iconic company Polaroid has sold off it's photo archive, donated it's artifacts to the MIT Museum...
...and appointed Lada Gaga as their Creative Director!
Earlier today, Lady Gaga presided over a product design and development session for future Polaroid products. Today’s session is a milestone in the road to developing Lady Gaga’s co-branded Polaroid products that blend fashion, technology and photography.
This months Boston Final Cut Pro User Group meeting looks especially interesting;
July 14th Workflow Mixer: "The TAO of Color Grading"
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 from 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM
@ Autodesk, Inc., 1560 Trapelo Rd, Waltham, MA 02451
Patrick Inhofer will present the Boston premiere of "The Tao of Color Grading - Featuring the Euphonix MC Color control surface and Apple's Color"
And this month admission is free (though you must register)
I'm a big fan of wide-angle lenses; it always seems the lens I have is never wide enough! For camcorders, a lens converter (a lens that screws in front of the camera lens) can go some way to solving this problem; though these can be expensive (the wide-angle conversion kit for the Sony HXR-NX5U costs $800) and the quality of the image won't be as good as the original lens.
On the consumer front, the choices are a little cheaper. For my Sony HDR-XR500 camcorder I found the Sony VCL-HA07A which fits the 30mm filter size of the camera and costs about $30. It also includes 25 and 37mm adapters.
Sony VCL-HA07A, lens covers and adapters
For $30 I wasn't expecting much, but at the some time, the risk seemed small. Even if the lens was only used for occasional shots, I felt that being able to get a little wider would be useful.
While the lens is glass, the lens shell of the VCL-HA07A is plastic. The plastic construction might even be considered a feature; it's still a fairly large piece of equipment screwed onto the front of the camera, so the less weight the better. The lens comes with a little cloth pouch, plastic front and back covers, and two screw-on adapters for using with 25mm and 37mm filter size lenses. There is no filter thread on the front of the lens.
My initial reaction was mixed. I had thought it was going to be a little wider than it was (I guess I had no real idea what .7x translated to!) Still, it's a significant widening of the field of view, and I think I'll be using this a lot.
Under casual inspection, the quality of the image is very good; it's only when you start to examine it closely that you see that it softens and slightly distorts the image. I shot a number of tests using the camcorder with and without the adapter (see below.) You can get a good idea of quality, as well as the area of view.
Sony VCL-HA07A shot on HDR-XR500V
I included a segment of a test chart shot with and without the lens. A big disclaimer: I'm not a lens tester, so I don't want to make too many claims about the accuracy of the tests. I simply positioned the camera with the converter attached so that the chart filled all of the viewfinder, recorded a segment, then removed the converter and moved the camera back until the chart filled the same approximate area in the viewfinder. You can see the actual clips in the video above, and a portion of the frame below.
With the converter on the camera, the image is noticeably softer (see below). Looking at the full frame, there's noticeable barrel distortion of the image at the center (here's where my poor lens-testing skills come out; the chart is is made up of several pieces of paper taped together and then taped to a piece of card, so it's not perfectly flat itself.) Still, you can see the differences between the two frames.
Despite these issues, I'm happy with the lens. I think it'll be useful for the applications I'm planning to use it for; mostly shots in very confined spaces. I'm confident it'll produce a better image than the Contour HD camera I have used in some cases, which has a wider field of view, but poorer image quality.
One final note. If you look at the two pieces from the test frame above, you'll notice that not only is the VCL-HA07A image slightly softer, it also has noticeably more compression artifacts (look at the -8 - 7 -6 numbers at the bottom half of the image.) Both segments were shot under the same exposure settings, and captured using ProRes at the same settings. The two clips report data rates of 89.56 mbits/s (VCL-HA07A) and 90.25 mbits/s (without VCL-HA07A).
I have no idea why the compression artifacts are there, unless the softness of the image means that the compression is less efficient and so you're getting other compression artifacts being introduced because of that.
If you're interested in building your own quadrocopter, you can find information about a system from one company at Quadrocopter LLC, and there are more examples of aerial shots posted on Vimeo by user FLV-Leif, including this one: Random Okto. The test shot with a Sony HDR-SR10 is good too.
A funny thing happened the other day. In addition to some still pictures, I shot a short clip of video at the Rule Camera Event, but when I transferred the photos from the Compact Flash card, the file "went astray." I say that because I thought I copied all the files across to my hard drive before I deleted them from the Compact Flash card ... but when I looked in the folder on my hard drive, the movie file wasn't there!
Let me repeat that: I thought I copied all the files across to my hard drive before I deleted them from the Compact Flash card [emphasis added.]
The above search turns up a couple of applications, and I downloaded the trial version of Drive Genius and it did seem to find the file; but they wanted $90 to get it back. For many things, $90 would be well worth it, but I was pretty sure the clip wasn't that great...
So I looked for something free; and found a Terminal app that was free, and took a couple of hours to scan the Compact Flash card and find a bunch of jibberish file names...at which point I wrote the whole thing off.
Then yesterday I was copying some new pictures from the Compact Flash card, and noticed the movie file; sitting at the root of the card's file directory. Even now I'm not sure how I managed to put it there! Anyway, the good news; the file was found. The bad news; as I suspected, it doesn't add anything that wasn't in the still pictures. But given what it went through, I felt I had to share it.
And if you ever accidentally delete a file, you might consider getting a copy of Data Rescue.
The Canonrumors website has had a bunch of interesting reports over the past few days about a 60D (with articulating LCD screen) a 3D (something between the 5D and 1D?) and some kind of video camera with an EF mount.
The 60D seems very likely since the 50D is aging and Canon may have even stopped production of that model, but the 3D has been rumored off and on for the last couple of years...it also seems odd that - if the rumors is to be believed - they'd use another vendors chip in a camera. Canonrumors.com
Interview with Zacuto co-founder Steve Weiss
The latest Digital Convergence podcast has an interview with Zacuto co-founder Steve Weiss. Zacuto makes some great gear for the DSLR filmmaker, and also produces some interesting educational web-series about filmmaking, including FilmFellas and the Great Camera Shootout.
He gives his thoughts on DSLR video and independent filmmaking and the need to focus on quality rather than gear. He also talks about the genesis of the FilmFellas and Critics webisodes and shares a few of his ideas on monetization of web content and the future of the content production business. 16x9Cinema: Digital Convergence Episode 24
Sony Pictures renames theater after Ray Harryhausen, Blu-ray release of Jason and the Argonauts
On the eve of his 90th birthday, Sony Pictures Digital Productions has announced the renaming of its 119-seat screening theater after visual effects and stop-motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) also recently paid tribute to Harryhausen with a special evening and award celebrating his contributions to film.
The Ray Harryhausen Theater will be formally dedicated on Monday, July 12, 2010, with the unveiling of a sign displaying the theater's new name, a reception, and the screening of one of Harryhausen's seminal hit films, Jason and the Argonauts. The 1963 classic, originally produced and released by Columbia Pictures (now part of Sony Pictures Entertainment), has been restored to its original splendor by Sony Pictures. The film makes its debut on Blu-ray Disc on JULY 6 – the fifth Harryhausen Blu-ray title from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, the most of any filmmaker from the label.
The disc features new commentaries by Harryhausen himself, as well as Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson, along with film historian Tony Dalton and visual effects expert Randall William Cook, and a new interview with Harryhausen with filmmaker John Landis.
Dina Rudick at The Boston Globe sends word of a new video project she just completed about Haiti that is up on The Globe's website. Reginette's story was shot by Bill Greene (with a Canon XHA1) and Dina (with a Canon Mark IV), and Dina produced it. Audio for the interviews was recorded with a separate recorder and synced in post with PluralEyes. For the rest of the audio Dina used a Rode Video Mic on the Mark IV.
Dashwood Cinema Solutions has released a significant update to its Stereo3D Toolbox plug-in for stereoscopic 3D mastering, as well as an inexpensive limited edition (LE) version. Both plug-in suites are powered by FxFactory and are designed to work with Adobe After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, and Apple Final Cut Express applications.
Stereo3D Toolbox v2.0 Feature Highlights
Precise Stereoscopic Alignment: Filters allow adjustments to the convergence of scenes with horizontal image translation (HIT), while eliminating vertical, rotational, keystone and focal length disparity using either pixel-based or scalable percentage sliders. All adjustments can be keyframed with sub-pixel precision and "ease in/out" Bezier curves. The "Geometry" filter also features the "autoscale" function to automatically eliminate cropped edges, as well as stereoscopic scale, rotation and reframe tools.
Advanced Stereoscopic Mastering Tools: The "Virtual Floating Window" filter can be used to create and keyframe pixel-precise straight or angled crops to minimize the effects of stereo window violations, while "Ghost Toaster™" aids in the reduction of high-contrast crossover in circularly polarized display systems and monitors.
Finer Control of Image Balance: Controls are now available for exposure, input and output levels, saturation, white balance preset, and individual RGB input/output levels.
Multiple Stereoscopic Formats: Supports the output of the most popular stereoscopic delivery formats, including side-by-side, above-below, line-by-line (a.k.a. field-sequential), column interleaved, checkerboard, and tunable anaglyph modes (R/C, B/Y, G/M). Also supports most inexpensive non-HD resolution 3D monitors and most of the new consumer stereoscopic active-shutter displays.
Stereoscopic Text: Provides a complete solution for creating and positioning flat text in 3D-space.
Stereo3D Toolbox LE Feature Highlights
Adjust Convergence and Correct Disparity: Filters allow adjustments to the convergence of scenes with horizontal image translation (HIT), while eliminating vertical, rotational and zoom disparity using pixel-based "ping-pong" sliders.
Stereoscopic Input and Output: Accepts discreet left and right video clips, line-by-line interlaced 3D clips, or side-by-side clips (squeezed or un-squeezed). Also supports the output of popular stereoscopic delivery formats like side-by-side, line-by-line interlaced (field-sequential) and red/cyan anaglyph.
Direct Upload to YouTube 3D: Finished stereoscopic 3D video can be directly uploaded to YouTube from the latest Final Cut Studio with side-by-side formatting.
Autoscale: Eliminates the cropped edges created by adjusting convergence and repairing disparities.
Preview Screen Within the User Interface: Includes active preview screens for valuable feedback, including monochrome anaglyph, L/R difference mode, and the new anaglyph outlines preview.
Stereo3D Toolbox 2.0 and Stereo3D Toolbox LE can be purchased at www.stereo3dtoolbox.com for $1499 USD and $99 USD, respectively.
The "Psycho" shower scene
Steve North at Salon.com reveals some interesting details about the Psycho shower scene, including the fact that Hitchcock "deceived" his audience by using a stand-in for Perkins when shooting the scene. Salon.com: The secrets of "Psycho's" shower scene
Charging for Content Dynamo is a video distribution system/player - think YouTube - that lets producers charge users for watching their content. Users can either get a Dynamo account, or they can pay per video through PayPal. The Dynamo player can be embedded on any website, and the producer can set their own prices and get 70% of the income.
Whether users will want to pay for videos that way, rather than buy/rent them through larger services like iTunes and Amazon, remains to be scene. It probably depends upon the content producers they can attract. Dynamo: About neeteevee: Micropayments Made Easy By Embeddable Dynamo Player
iPhone 4 video transfer limited to 568x320
As I already discovered, video uploaded from the iPhone 4 to YouTube is heavily compressed (and reduced in size) when it's transferred over AT&T's network. The same thing happens when you email video, and it seems to do they same thing if you're on a wireless network too. TUAW: YouTube uploads from iPhone 4 are downsized