Saturday, July 31, 2010

Documentary Exemption to the DMC Act

This week the Copyright Office announced new rules for the application of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Previously, the DMCA made it illegal for anyone to break the encryption software on DVDs, but a proposed exemption would allow documentarians to obtain short portions of material from encrypted DVDs for non-infringing use.

Note that this is not some new grant of permission to actually use material; rather it just means that a documentarian would not be breaking the DMCA if they extract material from a DVD for a lawful use. Determining a legal use isn't always as simple as it sounds, and it's important that you meet all of these criteria:
1. You must have lawfully acquired a lawfully made DVD

2. You may only copy short portions of material for a "non-infringing use," either material in the public domain or material to be used under "fair use."

3. You must be making the copy to use in a documentary

4. You must only copy what you need, you cannot copy the entire DVD [2]
As simple as that sounds, there's a lot of misconceptions about "fair use;" but you can find some material about it on the web [3].

Note that the Copyright Office says they will review the situation again in October 2012.

[1] Rulemaking on Exemptions from Prohibition on Circumvention of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works
[2] Documentary Filmmakers Win Exemption from Digital Millennium Copyright Act
[3] Doc-makers get specific about copyright fair use

Win one, Lose one
Meanwhile, the Lens Blog of The New York Times reports on an ongoing issue for photographers and videographers; the increasingly common practice of authorities seeking to smother photography in public places under the blanket of “security.”

lens.blogs.nytimes: ‘Step Away From the Camera!’

RODE promotion - $1 Vicoustic Flexi Screen Lite

I get some interesting things in my mail, in amongst all the spam. The latest was an email from RODE mics announcing a promotion this August; buy one of their qualifying mics (from a qualifying distributor) and get a Vicoustic Flexi Screen Lite for $1 (AUD) [that's $.90 USD]. Qualifying mics are:

But what's a Vicoustic Flexi Screen Lite?

It appears to be an isolation panel for vocal recording, which might be useful for those who occasionally do voice-over work at home; better than hanging up a comforter. But finding information about them proved rather difficult; B & H doesn't carry them, and neither does any other US vendor that I can see. I have found some overseas sites that reference it, and I also found the Vicoustic site; though it took me a while to find the product page; and it didn't give me much more info!

I did find on the Vicoustic site that RODE is now their US (and Australian) distributor, so maybe someone here will have them soon.

Also unclear is whether it includes the mounting arm for attaching to a tripod like the one seen in the photograph.

RODE Microphones: Vicoustic Registration
Vicoustic: Flexi Screen Lite
Macmusic: Vicoustic Flexi Screen Lite

MacUpdate Promo July 31 - Motype 1.2.1 for $49.00 - 51% off

Motype is a new text animation plug-in for Final Cut Pro, Motion, Final Cut Express and After Effects based on FxFactory.

Motype lets you create complex animations in minutes, thanks to a powerful motion mixer that does away with keyframing. An intuitive set of parameters lets you configure motion blur, per-character particle emitters, randomized characters, 3D camera and environment.

Yanobox: Motype Demo video

Friday, July 30, 2010

All Terrain Video Camera from Oregon Scientific

Oregon Scientific ATC9K

If you're looking for an HD helmet/anywhere camera, Oregon Scientific has just announced the ATC9K. Joining the ranks of the VholdR ContourHD 1080p, GoPro HD Helmet HEROand the Drift HD170 HD, the ATC9K offers:
  • HD 1080p Resolution (1920 x 1080)
  • 30 Frames per Second at 1080p mode
  • 60 Frames per Second at 720p mode
  • Includes Double-Sided Remote for easy access and Recording
  • 32GB Micro expandable memory - 32MB Internal Memory
  • G-Sensor
  • HDMI
  • 1.5" LCD Color Screen
  • Laser Pointer
  • 135 Degree Field of View (FOV)
  • Waterproof up to 20m
  • Shock Resistant up to 1.2m
The G-Sensor looks interesting; I gather it doesn't do anything other than measure the shock the camera receives. I'm not sure though, whether we want to be encouraging people to see how violent a shock they can experience!

The ATC9K All-Terrain Video Camera is currently available for the suggested retail price of $299.99 at and includes a remote control, a USB cable for connecting to a PC or Mac, and an HDMI cable for HD playback on a TV. A Velcro strap, handle bar, helmet grip, and silicon strap mounting accessories are also included.

COMPETITION: Through September 30th, they are also running a competition for the best video taken with the camera, with a prize package valued at $750: Facebook page  & Rules

photocineexpo - LA, September 25th & 26th

If you're in LA you might want to check out the upcoming photocineexpo. It's described as "an event not to be missed for HDSLR filmmakers." Speakers include Shane Hurlbut and The Bui Brothers, with Vincent Laforet and Rodney Charters listed as "Tentative".

REGISTER NOW AND SAVE: Note that if you register by Sunday, you pay $95 and save 36% off the normal price.

photocineexpo: Schedule

Inception: The Shooting Script

Expected September 1st | Amazon: $11.43 (save 33%) Inception: The Shooting Script

This is a cute mash-up of the movie Up and the Inception Trailer....except that the ease with which images can be thrown on top of a trailer's sound track and still provide something that *seems* coherent, makes me think that trailers no longer tell you what a movie is about, they just give you a sense of the feeling of the movie...

Rule Camera August Classes

Ride & Shoot: Bicycle Filmmaking
Wed Aug 11, 10am - 12noon
Join local filmmaker Bob Nesson for a lesson on how to rig your bike and/or bike trailer to haul gear for your next shoot.

Digital Asset Management
Wed Aug 18, 10am - 12noon
Ryan Servant, NE Sales manager for JB&A Distribution provides a detailed demo of CatDV - a media cataloging tool.

Nuts & Bolts of The AC Position
Wed Aug 25, 10am - 12noon
David Elkins, SOC, author of "The Camera Assistant's Manual," provides a nuts-and-bolts guide to the Assistant Camera position.

Rule: Events@Rule [Not updated at time of posting]

Woods Hole Film Festival Announces 2010 July 31-August 7

The 19th annual Woods Hole Film Festival, the oldest film festival on Cape Cod, runs from July 31–August 7 this year.

This years festival will have two-time Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple as Filmmaker-in-Residence. She will speak after her film Shut Up And Sing on opening night (7/31, 9 PM) and will also be available for Q&A following the screenings of her two Oscar-winning films: Harlan County USA (Sunday, 8/1, 7 PM), and American Dream (Monday, 8/2, 9 PM).

Other highlights include a panel discussion with distinguished authors whose works have been made into films on Thursday, 8/5, 4:00 PM) and Kids Day (Sunday, 8/1, 2-4 PM) in Redfield Auditorium featuring an afternoon of award-winning animated films and complimentary ice cream. Casting agent Carolyn Pickman of CP Casting offers master classes on acting for films on Thursday, 8/5, one for teens at 11:00 AM and another for adults at 2:00 PM. Pre-register by emailing

Admission to screenings, staged readings, panels and parties is $10, $8 for WGBH members, and $7 for students and seniors. Events are held at various locations throughout Woods Hole and Falmouth and special festival parking is available. Purchase tickets online at or or in person during the festival at the Old Woods Hole Fire Station on Water Street.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Canon rumors

There's been so many any-day-now rumors over the last few months about a Canon 60D that I actually decided last week that I wasn't going to mention it again until Canon actually announced the beast. But then Cameratown posted that the 60D and a new 5D are just around the corner. A new 5D?! well abandon all previous protestations of indifference and let the wild speculating begin!

Unfortunately, while the Cameratown article is written as though it's a done deal, there's very little in the article suggesting why they think these cameras are coming, other than the fact that's it's been a while since the previous generation cameras were updated.

More interesting is a list of desired features for a 5D replacement (if/when it comes.) I think the list is pretty fanciful, and would be willing to bet at least $1 that less than half of those features will make it in to a 5D Mark III. True 1080 HDMI output (or "close" like the 7D) sure, Improved Noise Reduction almost certainly (the chip is more than likely going to do better in low light than the current one.)

But Unlimited HD recording? Seems unlikely...though why they couldn't let you at least record up to 29:59 in HD is unclear. Yet they didn't do it in the 1D Mark IV, so why suddenly get around to it now? And RAW HD video or external audio control/meter? Seems very, very unlikely. I'd even go so far as to say very, very, very, very unlikely.

Meanwhile Canonrumors has posted a chart that may or may not mean something about a forthcoming 60D... Canon to Replace the EOS 50D & 5D Mark II in August? DXO Gives Away 60D?

YouTube increases upload limit to 15 minutes

I often found the 10 minute limit on YouTube videos just a little limiting, so it's great to see that they have upped the limit to 15 minutes!
Mashable: YouTube Increases Video Time Limit to 15 Minutes

News From Here & There

Shooting ENG style with HD SLRs
Personally, I'd much rather use a "real" video camera in most stand-up ENG systems, but that doesn't mean people aren't doing it. Createasphere has put up a video with Daniel Plym, Director of Video Publishing at, showing how he uses his Canon 5D for red carpet shoots. He uses the 5D with a Zoom audio recorder, Zacuto Z-Finder, Sennheiser Wireless microphone, Pluraleyes software and Final Cut.

Excellent stuff here, though from everything I've heard, the Tascam DR100 is better than the Zoom H4n due to issues with that device, including it's propensity to not close files when the batteries run down.
VimeoHow-to: Shooting ENG style with Dual System Audio on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Netflix sends money to studios
Looks like the movie streaming business is taking off.
For the first six months of 2010, Netflix has paid the studios $116 million for streaming content, compared with $31 million for the same period last year.
Greg Sandoval at CNET looks into Netflix's transition from a DVD mail-rental service to a web-streaming one.
CNET: Netflix delights studios with big checks

3D TV shipments rise
While the revenues from 3D films may be going down, sales of consumer 3D hardware is going up! Panasonic announced two days ago consumer 3D cameras/lenses, and sales of 3D TV's is on the rise:
3D TV shipments could reach 3.4 million this year, a sharp increase from the 214,000 units that shipped last year, said Paul Gray, director of European TV research at DisplaySearch.
Driving the sales are the increasing number of 3D devices, and falling prices: Amazon currently has a 40" Samsung TV for $1499.Samsung UN40C7000 40-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D LED HDTV (Black)
MacWorld: Blu-ray 3D, more TV models boosting 3D TV shipments

Students: Get Avid Media Composer for $295
Students  can buy Media Composer for just $295. This includes four years of free upgrades for students. Check out the new Avid Education page for more info, plus get the latest resources for students and educators.  You can also download free trial versions.
Avid: Education

Ansel Adams or Uncle Earl?
Earlier this week there were reports of previously unknown Ansel Adams negatives that had been bought at a garage sale. If so, it would have been one of the biggest garage sale "wins" as they were valued at $200 million. But now a woman in Oakland has come forward to suggest that these pictures might have been taken by her Uncle Earl.
Is it curious that these items could be worth $200 million or $45, not because of the inherent worth of the visual image themselves, but purely upon their authorship... Photo Mystery: Ansel Adams Or Uncle Earl?

Vimeo Festival: win $25,000
Have a video? Want to win $25,000? You have two more days to enter the Vimeo Festival +Awards:
Vimeo: Festival +Awards

Boris Continuum 3D Objects Unit Supports Adobe After Effects CS5

The Boris Continuum 3D Objects Unit features five powerful effects filters that make it easy to create 3D objects using text and shapes in After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Final Cut Express.

The Extruded Text filter allows you to create stunning 3D text elements and use AE's native camera and lighting system to generate fly-throughs or animate the viewer around the generated 3D text models. Extruded EPS provides an easy way to import and extrude Adobe Illustrator layered vector logos and graphics in Adobe After Effects. With Type-on Text, you will be able to create animated text type-ons that fly in from behind or toward the camera or slide into view from the top, left, bottom, or right of the screen either letter-by-letter, word-by-word, or line-by-line. Extruded Spline generates and extrudes shapes from any AE-generated mask shape as well as imported vector art from Adobe Illustrator. Layer Deformer generates useful 3D shapes such as planes, cubes, spheres, and cylinders and deforms these 3D objects using built-in vertex and pixel shaders.

Buy the 3D Objects Unit by August 6, 2010 and save 50% - $199.50 (regularly $399) Mac or Win

Boris: 3D Objects

Using Final Cut Pro's Limit Effect parameter of the "3 Way Color Corrector"

Caleb Pike at has put together a tutorial on the Limit Effect parameter of the 3 Way Color Corrector filter in Final Cut Pro. Limit Effect allows you to narrow down the area of the image that the 3 Way Color Corrector is working on by defining a range of colors and luminance and saturation.

In the tutorial, Caleb demonstrates removing color banding in a video, though Limit Effect can be used for lots of other tasks...

Vimeo: How to Remove Horizontal Band Lines from DSLR Footage

VP8 Improvements

Jason Garrett-Glaser, at the "Diary Of An x264 Developer" blog originally looked at the new VP8 compressor (part of Google's WebM video project) and noted that the official decoder, libvpx, was rather slow. He saw no reason why it shouldn't be on a par with H.264 (he also thought compression itself was very similar to H.264, but that's another matter) and with help from Ronald Bultje and David Conrad he set out to make a better one in FFmpeg.

So far, they managed a playback speed improvement of 75% (in fps) in Linux 64, and for a 64 bit Mac box, they produced over a 50% speed up.

It's not all plain sailing though:

The initial challenge, primarily pioneered by David and Ronald, was constructing the core decoder and making it bit-exact to libvpx. This was rather challenging, especially given the lack of a real spec. Many parts of the spec were outright misleading and contradicted libvpx itself. It didn’t help that the suite of official conformance tests didn’t even cover all the features used by the official encoder! We’ve already started adding our own conformance tests to deal with this. But I’ve complained enough in past posts about the lack of a spec; let’s get onto the gritty details.

Diary Of An x264 Developer: Announcing the world’s fastest VP8 decoder: ffvp8
NotesOnVideo: Some things you might want to know about WebM and VP8

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

xtranormal - cinematographer vs. producer on DSLRs

Want to make a movie but don't have a camera or actors? let's you create movies by just choosing a couple of characters and entering your script. xtranormal then renders a 3D scene with characters that 'act" back your movie. I've seen a few of these, and while they are generally very stilted - particularly the text to speech voices - it does let you quickly get the idea across.

One such example is Cinematographer vs. Producer, a rather amusing rant against using DSLRs for movies with the oblivious Producer enthusiastically wanting to use a DSLR for the next movie, while the Cinematographer lists all the reasons why you shouldn't. Here's a couple of examples:
Producer: I saw a great music video on YouTube. It has great depth of field.
Cinematographer: You saw a music video on YouTube? Wow, you really did your homework.

Cinematographer: You think you can shoot a feature film without lights?
Producer: Yes, with the 7D you don't even need lights.
Cinematographer: What idiot producer blog do you read on your iPhone 4?
Of course, there's something a little ironic about (I'm assuming) a Cinematographer using this rather basic 3D rendering and text-to-speech production to attack the new technology of DSLRs. Some actor will surely produce the sequel.

Note: there's some profanity in the audio; it's not suitable for work. CINEMATOGRAPHER VS. PRODUCER

Lumix 3D lens

In addition to the SDT750 3D camcorder, Panasonic also announced a 3D lens for their Micro Four Thirds Lumix G cameras, though they didn't provide a lot of detail:
Continuing its record of 3D technology leadership, Panasonic today announced the development of the world's first* digital interchangeable twin-lens, making it possible to shoot 3D with an interchangeable lens system camera. As a new member of Panasonic's powerful lineup of interchangeable lenses as part of the LUMIX G Micro System**, the twin-lens will allow high-quality shooting in 3D. Panasonic plans to release this new lens for sale before the end of the year.

Currently there are no details on actual availability or price.
NOTE: the press release includes the disclaimer: Compatible models to be announced at a later date.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Panasonic consumer 3D camera announced

Panasonic has announced it's consumer 3D camera, the SDT750. It won't arrive until October, but it will only cost $1399.95. That's pretty amazing. As reported, it pretty much is a lens unit that attaches to the front of a "standard" camera. The video is recorded side-by-side on a standard HD video frame; one of several ways to encode 3D video, though it does mean the horizontal resolution for each frame is halved.

The 3D conversion lens

One question; the interocular distance (distance between the two lenses) appears to be much smaller than their pro camera...

DigitalCameraReview: Panasonic HDC-SDT750 becomes first consumer 3D camcorder

Boris Continuum Complete's 3D Objects Filters Webinar - tomorrow

Wednesday, July 28th at 1:00pm Eastern Time

3D Design in Adobe After Effects using Boris Continuum Complete

In the Boris Continuum Complete 7 AE filter package, Boris FX provides several extremely useful generator-style filters for creating sophisticated 3D graphic elements that integrate tightly into After Effects 3D comps.

In this webinar, we'll take a close look at the Boris Continuum Complete filters offering integration with the After Effects 3D environment: BCC Extruded Text, BCC Typ On Text, BCC Extruded Spline, BCC Extruded EPS, BCC Layer Deformer, BCC Pin Art 3D, and BCC Particle Array 3D. And we'll be showing some tips and techniques for workin with these filters in AE in order to best exploit them in AE 3D compositions. Since these filters can also be used in NLEs such as Final Cut Pro and Avid, we'll also take a look at how they translate to that environment and how it's possible to use BC filter effect presets created in AE within the NLE versions of these plug-ins.

Dirk de Jong as been in the video software industry for more than 13 years, working for companies that serve the film and video post production market. He is currently a product manager at Boris FX and has worked at Boris FX for over 10 years, primarily involved in the development of titling and 3D-related products.

Reserve at: Space is Limited

The end of 3D?

At Engadget, Michael Gartenberg, a partner at Altimeter Group, writes about why he doesn't think 3D TV is worth it: Entelligence: 3D TV falls flat for me

And Kit R. Roane at Forbes thinks 3D movies are already dying at the box office; movie audiences are down, and after dabbling with watching movies in 3D are preferring to see the cheaper 2D releases:
The crush of 3-D movies being offered this summer has whittled down the number of 3-D screens available for any single movie release. Since big movies require big releases, more 2-D screens are being used, providing people with the option to see the films in the regular format. When given the choice now, many are choosing to forego an expensive trip to an often-gimmicky third dimension.
Forbes: Why 3-D is already dying

New Macs; no Blu-ray or 3.0 USB

Apple did announce new iMac's and Mac Pro's, goosing the processor's in all models. The low end iMac's now have Core i3 chips rather than Core 2 Duo's, and the Mac Pro now goes to 12 cores. The iMac's are available now, but the 12-core won't be available until August (and aren't listed in the store, though there is info on the site.)

As expected, no Blu-ray (we've given up on that) but perhaps a little surprising that there's still no USB 3.0 support. USB 3.0 probably requires a major redesign of the motherboard and cases, so we probably have to wait another year - or more - for that...

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Mac Hardware

Rumors are that Apple will roll out new iMac's and Mac Pro's tomorrow. I have no idea if it's true. IF it is true, then Apple is obviously not going to have an event to announce it tomorrow. It's interesting how Mac hardware is now at the periphery of Apple's business.

Engadget: Apple launching new Mac Pros, speedbumped iMac, new Cinema Display and maybe the Magic Trackpad tomorrow?

Happy Birthday - Stanley Kubrick

As much as I'd like to list 2001 as my favorite Kubrick movie, it's really Dr. Strangelove.

Thoughts on old video

I've been busily digitizing my old 8mm and Hi8 video tapes (See Also: Nothing is forever) using a Sony GVD-200 Digital-8 Walkman. It's been fascinating to watch stuff from 20 years ago, much of it shot on a Sony 8mm video camera:
  • I can't believe how bad the footage is; especially the 8mm video! With low resolution and poor color, a $100 camera today blows this video away (and that 8mm camera cost about $1,200 in pre-inflation dollars!)
  • The zoom lens is terribly noisy
  • The auto-focus unit is even noisier!
Video cameras have come such a long way, it's really unbelievable.

Quite a lot of this stuff was shot before I had any good means of editing the video; all I could do was dub from the camera to a video recorder, and use simple cuts. Net result; not a lot was really edited! Because of this, I wasn't a very good cameraman; when you start editing your material, it really informs the way you shoot video.

Even more shocking is how much of the stuff I can't even remember shooting! I've got video of things that I vaguely remember shooting; and seeing the video refreshes that memory. But I have other video that - despite the fact that I'm in it! - I have no recollection of at all! And I can't blame alcohol or other substances for this lack of recall!


NotesOnVideo: Nothing is Forever
Wikipedia: 8mm Video Format

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Panasonic Consumer 3D camera leaked

Engadget has a picture and details of what it thinks will be Panasonic's consumer 3D video camera that's based on the HDC-HS700. The latter sells for about $1,200, so maybe this camera, the HDC-SDT750. will be in the $2,000 to $2,500 range.

Interesting and exciting stuff, though I'm still not sure I believe in 3D.

Engadget: Panasonic's consumer-grade 3D camcorder leaks out, the HDC-SDT750