Saturday, November 06, 2010

News from Here & There

Switching from Final Cut to Adobe Premiere
Apple may be trying to take down Adobe Flash, but Adobe isn't afraid to take the gloves off and return the favor; they are hosting a series of webcasts on what it's like to go from Final Cut to Premiere. There's links to the four separate webcasts at the Provideo Coalition, which cover:
  • Day 1: Leveraging Advanced Features and the Mercury Playback Engine in Adobe Premiere Pro with Chris Fenwick
  • Day 2: HDSLR editing in Adobe Premiere Pro with Richard Harrington
  • Day 3: Tight Integration and Multi-Format Timelines in Adobe Premiere Pro with Colin Smith
  • Day 4: Making the Switch Q&A with Industry Experts Karl Soule & Kevin Monahan
ProvideCoalition: Thinking of Switching to Adobe Premiere Pro

Lighting Design
In the first of what he says will be a series, Shane Hurlbut talks about lighting in the context of lighting for a scene in the 1998 movie "The Rat Pack."
ShaneHurlbut: Lighting: An inside look into “The Rat Pack”

Zacuto Product Review
Chris Gronau does a quick review of the Zacuto Z-Finder, as well as the Zacuto shoulder mount, handle and gunstock. 
[He seems to have the Z-Finder Pro 3x, while I have the Z-FInder Pro 2.5. I was never able to compare both at the same time, but a couple of sources seemed to suggest that they preferred the Pro 2.5 because though it didn't give as much magnification, it was easier to see the whole scene with the 2.5]

Friday, November 05, 2010

Canon EF 70-300 f/4.5-5.6L IS Shipping

While some of the new Canon lenses - the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM, EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM and EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM - have been delayed, the EF 70-300 f/4-5.6L IS seems to actually be shipping - or about to.

Martin Lamoon in the UK already got his, and it will probably be shipping generally in Canada and the US very soon too; next week? You can see unboxing images and some sample pictures at his gallery:
dpreview forums: Canon 70 - 300L IS in stock and being delivered tomorrow
pbase: Martin Lamoon

Canon now has several L zoom lenses to pick between (including the popular 70-200 f/2.8), and they've put up a "Lens positioning article" for this lens:
Until now, Canon’s long zoom lens options have meant either putting up with lots of weight (EF 100-400mm L IS), living with possibly not enough telephoto power (the 70-200mm series), or a lens that didn’t really target the advanced user (EF 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6, etc).
With its all-metal barrel construction and heavy-duty design, the lens weighs about 2.3 lbs (1,050g) — more than previous lenses like the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM (non-L type), but significantly less than a lens like the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (3.3 lbs / 1490g)
Canon: Lens positioning article: EF 70–300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM

  • Ultra-high quality and lightning fast Canon L series lens
  • Optical Image Stabilization System increases usability by approximately four stops
  • The lens features a function that prevents erroneous operation when the lens is mounted on a tripod or monopod
  • The EF 70-300 f/4-5.6L IS USM incorporates a floating focusing mechanism for sharpness from 3.9' (1.2m) to infinity
  • Two Ultra Low Dispersion (UD) elements for improved image quality and reduced chromatic aberration
  • The lens has a removable tripod collar, and is dust and water resistant
Note that it doesn't come with a tripod collar.

Canon: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L Specifications Page
Amazon: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM [$1,599] they still say shipping in 1 to 2 months
B & H: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM [$1,599]

More hints that Sony will announce a film-like 35mm video camera November 17th

Yet another teaser that Sony will be announcing something interesting at Inter Bee in a couple of weeks. Film & Digital Times says they are hinting "indie" prices. Which leaves room for a wide range in price, probably anywhere from $4,000-$20,000.

FilmAndDigitalTimes: Sony 35mm Mystery Camera

[UPDATE] Cinescopophilia seems to think it will be announced November 8th, though that's earlier than even the Sony sales guy had hinted: First Picture!! & Dates To Watch: Sony Full HD 35mm Cinematography Camera:

Another thought: there's talk of multiple cameras. It wouldn't be particularly surprising if they announced some sort of professional model similar to the Sony NEXVG10, perhaps adding 24p support and manual audio controls...

Boston Post Mortem Meeting

The Boston Post Mortem Group holds meetings about Game Development, but next weeks meeting might be interesting to film makers as well, because game audio guru George “Fat Man” Sanger will talk about the nature and possibilities that lurk within the world of sound in games.

You must register for the talk to attend! Click here to register (registration is free).

The Fat Man’s 28 years as a leader in game audio have culminated in some unique perspectives. Learn about the connection between art and science, and how the tools of one can be used to great effect in the exploration, understanding, and even improvement of the other. Gain interesting, practical and productive insights into dealing with the most difficult challenges of game sound.

The event will occur from 7pm to 9pm at Microsoft New England Research and Development in Cambridge.

Boston Post Mortem: November Meeting: George “Fat Man” Sanger at MS NERD, Thu Nov 11

Thursday, November 04, 2010

ARRI Alexa

At the Public Television Quality Group's Boston Quality Workshop Rule Camera set up several cameras; including a Sony PMW-EX1R, and PMW-350K, the Panasonic AG-HPX370, and the Panasonic AG-3DA1 (3D video camera), as well as the ARRI ALEXA, which they said had only just come in (and available for rent at Rule Camera now!) An impressive - though pretty big - camera!

News from Here & There

Steve Jobs on Final Cut
Another quick email from Steve Jobs in response to a question posed about the future "64-bit" version of Final Cut:
Stay tuned and buckle up
I think they inferred the 64-bit part...
9to5Mac: Steve Jobs says buckle up for 64-bit Final Cut Studio

Discount on Zacuto Fast Draw
There's a $125 discount on the Zacuto Fast Draw rig through 12/31/2010, bringing it down to $1,414.95
B & H: Zacuto Fast Draw [$1,414.95]

Filming Astro Timelapses
Tyle Ginter spent some time with Tom Lowe and Dustin Kukuk doing some timelapse shooting, and he's posted his notes: Filming Astro Time Lapse with Tom Lowe

Red Rock Micro EVF Wireless
Jared Abrams at Cinema5D has a video with Brian Valente from Redrock Micro showing their upcoming EVF and Wireless Follow Focus. Shipping of the follow-focus was delayed due to work they had to do for motor support (and they were reportedly trying to develop their own inexpensive motors, though that wasn't explicitly mentioned.) Still no dates announced, and Brian notes that they didn't make their summer date. He says a date will be announced "shortly" and it should be available early next year. Sometime.
Vimeo: Cinema 5D Createasphere 2010 Redrock Micro EVF Wireless Follow Focus

Panasonic AG-AF100
Jared also posted a short video (for his other site, WideOpenCamera) with Jan Crittenden from Panasonic talking about the AG-AF100 and how she doesn't like to use the term "DSLR-killer" because at $5,000 it's not going to complete with $2,500 DSLRs.
Vimeo: Panasonic WOC

Zeiss Compact Primes
If you're using a DLSR for Cinematography, maybe you should consider the Zeiss Compact Prime Lenses. Designed for cinematography, they are calibrated in T-Stops and have a long throw on the focus barrel, making it easier to pull-focus. On the downside, they are large, heavy and very very expensive. Chris Campat at The Phoblographer posts his first impressions of the lens.
ThePhoblographer: Hands On: Zeiss 85mm Compact Prime
Photoletariat: F-Stops Vs. T-Stops Explained
B & H: Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 85mm/T2.1 Cine Lens (EF Mount) [$3,900.00]

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

At the Public Television Quality Group Workshop

Today I'm at the Public Television Quality Group's Boston Quality Workshop and it's been a great event so far. Some very interesting talks about the technical issues in video production. I wish I could make it back to tomorrows portion.

Hopefully I'll write up something in more detail in the coming days. Got some interesting stories, including Lucas Films part in driving Sony to support 24p.

And speaking of Sony, since Sony is a supporter of the event, a Sony salesman got up to say a few words, and one of the things he said was that there will be some announcements of new equipment at the Inter BEE 2010 show in a couple of weeks. He didn't say much more when questioned about it other than a camera would be announced... Could it be the film-like camera? Well it's definitely a pro camera, as this guy is from the pro department, and he said that the various groups don't mix!

Avoiding Final Cut's Rendering

Officially, Final Cut Pro doesn't support the media files produced by DLSRs like the Canon 7D or Nikon D90. That's not entirely true; you can import those files into a Final Cut project without doing conversion, and add them to a Timeline quite happily. The annoying part is that no matter how you set up the Project, Final Cut will want you to Render the Timeline before it will play it back in real time in the preview window. If you simply play it back in the preview window, you get a blue screen with a "Needs to be Rendered" message.

But there are ways to work around this.
  1. You can force Final Cut to playback footage that needs rendering by using the Option-P [play all] command instead of the regular play command.
  2. or you can open the QuickViewer and view the project there (the QuickViewer is under the Tools menu.)
Neither will play your project at actual speed, but they will play! It's a great way to see what a simple change does without having to wait for Final Cut to render the sequence.

Adjusting the RT options in the sequence can also help whether Final Cut will play footage without rendering (see the article: Unlimited RT vs. Safe RT.)

A final note for those using Final Cut to edit DSLR footage. If I'm doing a quick assemble edit, I generally just drag the native files into the Project and live with the fact that Final Cut wants to Render things. But if I'm going to do extensive editing, I either use the Canon plug-in for Final Cut, or MPEG Streamclip to transcode to ProRes LT and then edit with those files.

geniusDV: Unlimited RT vs Safe RT
Squared 5: MPEG Streamclip

News from Here & There

Zactuo EVF video part III
Zacuto is doing a series of videos about the design and focus - pun intended - of their upcoming EVF. The latest episode features Steve Weiss, Jen Bogehegn and some guy discussing pixels, dots, dot pitch, magnification, sharpness and HDMI. It all sounded very interesting and a bit confusing, and I don't think I really learned a thing about the EVF. Or even how to evaluate it. Hopefully the next one will be more on topic.
Zacuto: Part 3 "What Do All the Numbers Mean?"

Lighting Diagram Designer
Sylights has an interactive light designer; simply click and drag objects around the screen. It doesn't do any calculations or tell you what to use (or even what the effect will be like) but does let you arrange things and create diagrams to give to others. And there's a free iPhone app as well.
Sylights: Diagram Editor

Elgato Turbo.264
Michael Britt at photocinenews takes a look at the Elgato Turbo.264, an inexpensive hardware compressor in a USB stick that's useful for quickly producing dailies. This article is excerpted from the forthcoming book: Photocine: Digital Filmmaking with DSLRs
A good inexpensive way to encode H.264 formatted video is to use the ~$99 Elgato 10020196 Turbo.264 HD Encoder/Accelerator USB dongle and accompanying software. The Turbo USB dongle contains a specialized chip dedicated solely to encoding video into H.264 files of various flavors. This chip takes the workload away from the computer which speeds things up and frees your computer for other processes. The Elgato software doesn’t give you the same level of control as when using Compressor or Adobe Media Encoder but it does provide a fast integrated way to batch transcode videos for Youtube HD and automatically upload them to your account.
photcinenews: HDSLR Dailies with Elgato Turbo.264 and Private Video Sharing Sites Pt. 1

An interesting combination steadycam/shoulder rig. There are photos and some sample videos on the site. It's $347 plus shipping and Handling.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Sony PMW-EX35 HD Cinematography Camera

Either CreativeVideo in the UK has let the cat out of the bag, or they are making things up, but they have a product info page up for upcoming Sony "Cinema" camera (think of it as a large-chip i.e. 35mm video camera.)

They give it a name; the PMW-EX35, launch date; 15th February, and a price; £12,500.

At that price, you're talking RED prices (i.e. $19,000) not Panasonic AG-AF100 prices.

It also seems a little odd that they'd have this, though Sony is supposed to be having an event later this month to reveal more, so maybe, just maybe...

CreativeVideo: Sony PMW-EX35 HD Cinematography Camera

Zacuto Striker Rig: $50 rebate

There's a $50 Instant Rebate being offered on the Zacuto Striker rig for DSLRs. Runs through 12/31/2010.
B & HZacuto Striker [$898.20]

BOSFCPUG & SMPTE New England: "Finishing for Broadcast: Making It Street Legal

Wednesday, November 10th at 7pm,
Worcester MA

The Boston Final Cut Pro User Group and SMPTE New England are holding a joint meeting at the New England Broadcast Cable Expo (which takes place from 10AM to 7PM.)

Patrick Inhofer, FINI
Patrick will kick off the evening talking about how a working editor and colorist uses scopes to evaluate images and to gain insights into the ways plug-ins and software process images.

Ron Chubb, Ensemble Designs
Ron will present a real-time hardware approach to pixel by pixel RGB legalizing in HD and SD while maintaining the legal limits for broadcast television.

Dr. Richard Cabot, Qualis Audio
Richard will discuss the increased audio monitoring requirements necessary for a multichannel production and distribution.

Looks like a great event, though it is in Worcester!!

BOSFCPUG: "Finishing for Broadcast: Making It Street Legal
New England Broadcast Cable Expo

News from Here & There

Hawaii 5-0 episode shot with Canon 5D and Sony EX-3
Eugenia Loli-Queru found a clip on YouTube where DP, Ron Garcia talks about the cameras he used for the latest episode: the Sony EX3 and the Canon 5D Mark II.
Eugenia's: Tonight’s Hawaii 5-0 Episode was shot with a Canon 5D

How to Start a User Group
Got a hankering to start a user group? Aharon Rabinowit, a co-founder of the After Effects New York group, gives 12+ steps/hints for how to start a group. Personally, I leave that kind of thing to Daniel Bérubé.
AllBetsAreOff: How to Start a Software User Group (or Die Trying)

Magic Bullet Colorista II Review
A color correction plug-in for Premiere, After Effects and Final Cut Pro is reviewed by MicroFilmmaker Magazine:
...if you're in the business of high-end finishing, and either don't have access to Apple's Color, or are simply sick of bouncing back and forth between it and FCP, then Colorista II is a must.
MciroFilmmakerMagic Bullet Colorista II

Canon 5D Mark III rumors
Rumors are already appearing for the next rev of the Canon 5D - 28 megapixels, ISO 100 ~ 12800, high-speed AF and others - though no one even knows how far away the camera is, let alone how accurate these rumors are... 5D Mark III Specs [CR1]

Monday, November 01, 2010

Using Apple Motion to enhance a video

A while back I went out to shoot a World War II B-17 bomber that was visiting a local airport. What started out as an overcast day, turned into a very wet and overcast day, and by the time we could actually go up to the plane and take pictures, the skies had opened up and I spent most of my time huddling under the wings, trying to get some useable footage.

Unfortunately, not only was it raining, but the sky was almost totally white, which made for rather boring footage.

Original Image

I was going to abandon doing anything with it at all, but I'd been playing with some sky footage I did as an experiment in timelapse, and it occurred to me that I could "cheat" and add an interesting sky to the bad footage.

Luckily, I'd shot almost everything on a tripod, so I didn't have to deal with any motion of the foreground subject. My sky was blue (with clouds) and the blue just looked completely wrong - particularly as there was rain clearly falling down! But adding the sky using Apple Motion, and changing the sky to black and white produced a very good effect (and only took a few minutes to create the mask shape of the plane!)

You'll notice that the front of the plane has a clear perspex dome. At first I masked around that, but I found a much more realistic solution was to not mask around it; but to make the sky overlay semi-transparent. The dome was still visible, but the sky is visible "through" it. Accelerating the sky slightly to make it more dramatic, and adding a small push-in to the frame during the sequence added some extra impact.

Edited image

News from Here & There

Canon XF100 & XF105 Pricing
Lots of people are anxiously awaiting the pricing for the upcoming XF100/105 cameras from Canon. I'd previously heard - unofficially - that they'd be $4,000 and $5,000 respectively. Dom Stevenson reports on the forum that he was told unofficially a price of about 2,500 pounds, which when plugged into a currency translator comes up with $4,000 almost exactly. Of course, there's a big difference if that's the price for the XF105 instead of the XF100, and also, what companies charge for something in the UK doesn't always exactly translate into the same amount in the U.S.
dvinfo: Canon introduces XF105 and XF100

Sony's upcoming "filmlike" camera and Panasonic AG-AF100
Philip Johnston has a bit of news about the upcoming Sony "filmlike" camera, as well as a few thoughts and comments on the Panasonic AG-AF100 [$4,795.00].

Don't be confused, when talking about this "filmlike" camera, it's not the NEX-VG10, though it is some kind of large chip camera. Very little is really known about this unnamed camera - even though it was first hinted at back at NAB. Reportedly there may be an event sometime this month to reveal more information (perhaps to try and stop some AG-AF100 sales?) Also, the camera is being talked about as being "affordable." As Philip notes, that can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but I can't help think it means it's going to be closer to the AG-AF100 than the RED in price.

Check out the post too for comments from Nigel Cooper about the Panasonic AG-AF101 (European name for the AG-AF100.)
HDWarrior: Sony’s “Hogwarts” camcorder “He who must not be named” target="_blank"

Panasonic 3D videocameras in stock at B & H
Both the professional AG-3DA1 Integrated Twin-Lens 3D Camcorder [$21,000] and the consumer HDC-SDT750 3D Camcorder [$1,399.95] video cameras are currently in stock at B & H. Meanhwile, things are a bit uncertain at ESPN 3D with their Senior Director of Technology, Jonathan Pannaman, quoted as saying "we're still not sure what makes sense for 3DTV and we don't yet see a proven ROI."
EngadgetHD: ESPN 3D still searching for ROI to determine feasibility of second year

New Canon lenses delayed until March reports that the three lenses Canon announced three months ago - the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM, EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM and EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lenses - that were supposed to be available by the end of the year, have been delayed until March. Official Bad News – Lenses Delayed.

PBS Quality Television Workshops
If you're in Boston, you might want to check out this series of seminars on November 3rd and 4th: PBS Quality Television Workshops

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sony NEX-VG10 $1,909.00 at Amazon

For the first time I saw the NEX-VG10 selling new for less than full retail on Amazon.

Note: the price fluctuates; even right now [11:40AM EDT] the box above says $1,919.00, but if you click the box it gets added to your cart at $1,909.00. Your mileage may vary.

News from Here & There

The Great DSLR Debate
A 26 minute video from a panel at the MacVideo Expo, London, October 19, 2010, with producer/director Matt Davis, cinemaographer/editor Alex Gollner, cameraman Den Lennie and MacVideo's Rick Young. This panel is interesting because it feature's people with a variety of shooting experience, discussing the pros and cons of DSLR usage.

3D Cinema
Tim Partridge, President of The Kerner Group, (originally the practical effects and camera engineering departments of George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic) talks about the future of 3D cinema on a podcast at createasphere.
createasphere: Tim Partridge, President of Kerner 3D Technologies, talks 3D Cinema

For the RED enthusiast
RED product evangelist Ted Schilowitz discusses the latest in RED developments, including the state of EPIC, Scarlet, REDCINE, HDR, RED RAY, 3D using RED Cameras, and much much more in a 40 minute prdcast.
techmediaplanet: Episode 21: RED EPIC

L-Cuts in iMovie

When I started playing with iMoive 11 I encountered a problem; I couldn't make an L-cut. Turns out I was making a rather simple mistake!

Precision Editor
To make an L-Cut, you go into the Precision Editor. To do that, click on the clip after the transition, and choose Precision Editor from the tools menu popup. The Precision Editor opens at the bottom of the iMovie workspace. Click the show/hide audio waveforms button to see the audio track underneath the video. To make an L-Cut, simply click-and-drag the blue vertical bar in the audio channel (see below.)

Pretty simple.

Where I got hung up was, I was trying to add an L-cut to an edit with a transition. Things change a little because there are now two blue bars (indicating the beginning and ending of the transition.) You don't click on one of the blue bars, you click in the space between the blue bars and then drag. I spent ages trying to drag those damn blue bars!

This short video shows you how to do it.