Saturday, December 31, 2011

Quick Links

C300 | Rodney Charters | Vimeo
Rodney Charters shot this video of Drew Gardner and Lan Bui talking about the Canon C300 while shooting at the Billingsgate Fish Market. The BTS video was shot on the iPhone 4S.

How To Make Money From Moving Image: Producing & Others | El Skid | Wide Open Camera
Another article from El Skid about making it in the movie business, this time about being a Producer:
Producing is a skill all of its own and should not be considered the default fall-back for those who weren’t really good enough to direct. I’m really not very good at it, I’m way too nice to people and don’t negotiate prices properly. In fact I suck at producing. Which is bad really since about 90% of the work I do carries a producer/director credit. What I like is putting projects together, pulling all the elements into place so that it can happen. The budget and the operational side I’m just not interested in, which is why I prefer to hire a production manager to take care of all of that.

Sneak Peek Cinema Skater DSLR Dolly | Cheesycam
Neat little skater that will hold heavier cameras. I'd like to see the video shot by that camera in the demo...
A quick look at the new Cinema Skater Video dolly that can support larger size cameras. On the dolly you’ll see the huge Manfrotto 501HDV fluid head. There is no possible way this head would mount up on the smaller Pico Flex Dolly, so if you’re looking for a dolly to support something like a Sony FS100, Panasonic AF100, or even a RED Scarlet here’s an option.

Shooting Video? Better Under than Overexposed | Richard Harrington | Blog
A tip on exposure:
The key is to always protect your highlights. Do not let the bright areas of your image (like skies or faces) get clipped. One view you likely have on your camera is a histogram. You typically can see this after taking a photo or cycling through your view options (in most cameras you can push the Info button or press your navigation dial from side to side to cycle views). If the histogram is pushed against the right edge, it means you have no information to work with. Blown out highlights go pure white and there is just no way to recover the details.

FS 100 G-LOG (Type A) S&Q | ADW | Vimeo
Demo video shot using the Sony NEX-FS100 G-LOG recipe A from Frank Glencairn:
In each case you see the raw G-LOG clip and a corrected version.
Warning: This clip includes Raccoon-based colour correction. I also upped the saturation. Sorry, there's no sound.

Part 1 now live!! The Christmas mini shootout with the C300 (pre-production), F3, FS100, hacked GH2 and more!! | Philip Bloom | Blog
Posted a link to this post before, but Philip has updated the video because of problems with the Sony NEX-5n video.

Slo-Mo with the GoPro HD Hero2 | Jeff Foster | ProVideoCoalition
Using the GoPro Camera HD HERO2 under water:
I set up the camera attached to a light stand and rigged a short brace to help control the swaying in the water when the GoPro got splashed. Here you’ll see the mount and the GoPro’s lens just below the water line. The LCD BacPac helped me line up the shots a bit easier than just “guessing”. It’s a real time saver, but does add to the overall weight of the camera/housing.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Quick Links

Case Study: Rampart | HD Magazine
A look at the workflow for the Arri Alexa used on the movie Rampart:
“This was one of the first; if not the first; feature films to use the SxS module to shoot directly to ProRes 4:4:4:4 files,” notes FotoKem Vice President Mike Brodersen. “We did quality tests that showed the format holds up beautifully with no obvious compression issues. The images are recorded in Log C, which allows the full dynamic range of the Alexa to be captured even on relatively ‘lightweight’ media. The ease of media management and the lighter files, without the need for a big recorder or tethering, was important to Bobby in this case.”

The Importance of Sound and Where You Get it From | Mario Feil | Zacuto
Zacuto has been posting articles on audio lately, the latest on using music in your videos:
1-Man-Composer: I work with friends who design music by themselves with Logic or Cubase. Stock instruments and sounds are already included with these programs. They have everything from simple mood sounds to orchestral music but it’s a lot of work (which means a lot of money) and of course it’s not a real band or orchestra.

How To Make Money From Moving Image: Directing | El Skid | Wide Open Camera
Tips on how to become a director:
If you want to attract an agent, or get representation with a production company, then you have to put the work on the table, stand and be judged. Building a reel is a long and tortuous process. Reels age fast and go rotten easily. I made some great stuff on DV and digibeta but in today’s glorious DSLR, HD world it just looks crappy and faded. You have to have to have to put your reel before anything else if you want to actually earn money from directing.

Should Art Be Free? | Ron Dawson | Dare Dreamer
Ruminations on whether working for money is a good idea, including these comments from Francis Ford Coppola
You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.
-Francis Ford Coppola

FS100 G-LOG color correction of Philip Blooms x-mas shootout | Frank Glencairn | Blog
Manipulating video shot by Philip Bloom:
As you all know, the G-LOG profiles are made for grading, instead to use them out of the box. I´m working on a workflow in the moment, that includes a G-LTU, to get the bet out of the profiles.
I wanted to know, how close I can match the C300 LOG-C material and FS100 G-LOG material. So I tried my prototype workflow on the material that Philip shot.

Canon C300 test video – Michaelmas Goose Dinner | Lan Bui | The Bui Brothers
Another test video shot with the Canon C300:
Here we go!!! Another test video shot on the Canon C300… remember the dinner Drew was cooking the other day? You know when Drew and I were talking about the benefits of the C300 over DSLRs… Well after a few drinks and trying to stay out of Drew’s way that was what I shot.

So now I feel very comfortable shooting with the Canon C300. That is a very good thing because there are mo more test shoots with the C300 left… tomorrow morning we are off to shoot… we even have permits!!! YAY!

New Cameras in 2012 | Paul D | Blog
A look at new cameras that will be arriving this coming year, both announced and unannounced:
Now that Canon’s EOS 1D x has revealed a whole new generation of processor, a brand new sensor and autofocus system, it seems that all the pieces are in place for the release of what surely must be the world’s most eagerly anticipated camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. Precisely when in 2012 this will happen is unclear, but it is impossible not to notice that over the last couple of weeks, the price of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II has been in free fall on both sides of the Atlantic.

Box-Office Bust: Movie Attendance Hits 16-Year Low | Matthew Rosenbaum | ABC News
Another article on the problems at the movies:
Despite some big-name sequels, superstar lineups and multibillion-dollar investments from movie studios, 2011 was a tough year for Hollywood. Ticket sales are on pace to be a half a billion dollars behind last year. Attendance figures haven’t been this low since 1995.

2011: The Year In 3D | Jessica Kiang | IndieWire
How'd the year stack up for 3D?:
...considering 2011 had the lowest cinema attendance overall since 1995, how much of this slowdown in 3D is merely reflective of a wider trend, and how much due to the 3D itself? Well, if we confine our analysis to the top ten 3D movies of all time (via Box Office Mojo): it features just 3 from 2011 (despite a record 40+ films being released in the format this year) as opposed to 5 from 2010, so it does seem like the initial excitement over the format is passing.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

$400 off Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II

B & H is offering the Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II at $1,974, that's $400 off. The offer appears to run through Jan 7th. It's a really nice - if rather large and expensive - lens.
 - Ahh, if I only had the money....

Happy Holidays from Redrock Micro

Redrock sent out an amusing little card this year. I particularly like the microTape spelling out the greeting...

Canon C300 at Rule Boston Camera Event with Larry Thorpe

Senior Director of Professional Engineering and Solutions at Canon, Larry Thorpe presents this powerful new camera tool offering quality and innovation at an affordable price. Join us for an overview of the C300 followed by Q&A.

Boston Rule Camera
395 Western Avenue
Boston, MA 02135
Thursday, January 5. 6:00 to 8:00pm • Pizza and Beer
Space is limited. RSVP

Quick Links

Part 1 now live!! The Christmas mini shootout with the C300 (pre-production), F3, FS100, hacked GH2 and more!! | Philip Bloom | Blog
Philip has posted the first part of his Canon C300 comparison, with some interesting conclusions:
Bang for buck the clear winner was the GH2 with the Driftwood hack but this is purely on resolution. The F3/ C300 are damn close to each other and the FS100 not far behind. Part 2 moves onto skin tones and low light where the camcorders come into their own. I also take a look at how well each of the internal codecs hold up to colour correction and grading.

Shootout reveals Panasonic GH2 resolution at Canon C300 level | Andrew Reid
Andrew Reid at EOSHD looks at Philip's results and rates the cameras from best (C300 and GH2) to worst (AF100 and Canon 7D):
Although that is not the full story. For example I prefer gradation, tonality, colour and shadow areas in my 5D Mark II footage to the GH2. Stuff shot on the 5D looks great on a plasma TV. As anyone who has plugged in both the 5D and GH1 into a plasma will remember, the GH2 can still look a bit grey and digital in comparison sometimes like its older sister. The 5D has a very organic look. The 7D is better for certain shots than the AF100 as well. They’re nice cameras, but not for wide establishing shots of finely detailed landscape and architecture like above.

Canon C300 video – Grand Union Canal, Hertfordshire, UK | The Bui Brothers | Blog
Meanwhile, the Bui brothers also got to spend time with a C300 and have posted a few blog posts about it. The latest one has footage from the first shoot with the camera:
I shot for one hour during sunset… well during sunset time… it was massively overcast as you can see so it kept getting darker and darker. The last shot of the video might look a bit odd because it is so much brighter than the rest, that is because I opened up the 85mm lens to 1.2 and bumped up the ISO a bit. This camera really can perform in low light.

Video is half the battle - Audio is the Rest | Quick guide into audio recording
| Daniel Freytag | Blog
A introductory tutorial to getting better sound, along with a warning:
The fourth step, which ruined my shot a few weeks ago, is to check the battery level. The H4n won't warn you. There is no alert that the batteries are low and the device might run out of power. While I did an interview with a race organizer my batteries (which seemed pretty O.K. before) died. The H4n did not stopped the recording and saved my file, but it turned off and gave me a corrrupted and unusable file. I had to redo this interview. :(

Cameramaker Red claims espionage | Karen Idelson | Variety
Did Arri get some information that helped them in the development of the Alexa?:
In its complaint, Red asserts that during the time Bravin was hacking Band's email account, Band Pro and Red were discussing a possible joint venture. Red says Band's emails contained detailed descriptions of the technology used in Red's cameras and Red's plans for introducing new models and features.

Red alleges that Bravin passed that information to Arri, giving Arri an unfair competitive advantage, especially with respect to the launch and marketing of the Arri Alexa camera.

What’s Cool – The Ikan iLED-One Light | Rob Ruscher | Blog
Short video review of a useful portable light:
The Ikan iLED-One did an amazing job of getting extra light into the tools, machines, and hands of the worker. I was a little worried that the tungsten bulb wouldn’t play nice with the daylight balanced ID 500, but I was wrong. It added a nice golden punch and looked great. Having the set up that Ikan put together made for some pretty awesome options. I connected the light to my tripod, light stands, cables, tools, benches and pipes. Pretty cool right?

How To Make Money In Production: The Answers | El Skid | Wide Open Camera
In his own inimitable style, El Skid offers tips on how to break into the business:
If you have no ambitions towards DoP’ing big feature films or commercials then there are plenty of opportunities around to sling a camera for smaller productions. Sports and music productions in particular tend to need multiple camera units and they tend to have less money so you can often pick up work in those areas. What you won’t do is earn much money. As always, the more kit you own the more attractive you’ll be.

5 Reasons You Must Pursue Whatever Scares You | Tasra Mar | Blog
More advice on how to get ahead in the business:
Fear is not always helpful. Most people have fears of loss: home, people, possessions, memories. Those fears can paralyze and limit healthy decision making. Think about your most frequent or biggest fear and take it to the extreme… what’s the worst that could happen?

From 'Drive' To 'Melancholia,' Here's Why 2011 Marked a Shift In the History of Cinematography | Jamie Stuart | Indiewire
Another article about the death of film:
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" proved that David Fincher understands digital cinematography better than any other working filmmaker. He has made four digital features and five on film. As a result, he understands that digital works best when the lighting is built primarily around practical sources and the aperture is wide open. His approach on both "The Social Network" and his latest work, both shot by Jeff Cronenweth on the RED, is basically an extremely upscaled studio version of DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) filmmaking.

I'll tell you why movie revenue is dropping... | Roger Ebert | Sun Times
Roger offers a half-dozen reasons why movie revenue is dropping, from smart phones and streaming, to ticket prices and lack of choice:
6. Lack of choice. Box-office tracking shows that the bright spot in 2011 was the performance of indie, foreign or documentary films. On many weekends, one or more of those titles captures first-place in per-screen average receipts. Yet most moviegoers outside large urban centers can't find those titles in their local gigantiplex. Instead, all the shopping center compounds seem to be showing the same few overhyped disappointments. Those films open with big ad campaigns, play a couple of weeks, and disappear.

Edward Burns and the Socialization of Indie Cinema | Christina Warren | Mashable
Edward Burns has adopted social media in a big way:
Edward Burns credits Ted Hope for convincing him to join Twitter. Hope, a prominent independent film producer in New York City, explained to Burns it was crucial that he find 500 followers to share and promote his message. Hope’s thesis — which he has since revised to include 5,000 fans — is that connecting with the people that really care about your work is the most effective way of getting things seen.

Tintin is Soso

I saw the Tintin movie - in 2D - the other night. I went in optimistic that it would be a good evenings entertainment; unfortunately, that wasn't really the case. In the interests of full disclosure: I was never a reader of the Tintin books. Though I was aware of them - and had glanced at them once or twice years ago - they never grabbed my attention. So I really knew very little about Tintin at the beginning of the movie, and came out knowing very little more.

Tintin is also bring distributed in 3D (stereoscopy), but I won't be talking much about that as I only saw the movie in 2D. I will note that when watching the movie in 2D there was never a point where I felt "this is a stereoscopic set-piece" - a scene that was obviously composed to create the maximum stereoscopic effect. I've always found those scenes a little annoying in stereoscopic movies, and I even noticed it in the recent Hugo, so points to the producers for not doing that in Tintin.[1]

But Tintin is a step forward in 3D animation, with some very human-like character performances. I've read articles talk about the "uncanny valley"; how 3D animated characters can be disorienting when they are almost human-like, but not 100% natural. Watching older movies like Toy Story or Polar Express, that seemed a more than obvious concept, because the human characters never looked human. But Tintin, the lead character, makes that jump to near-humaness.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, I spent a lot of time marvelling at the Tintin character and how life-like he was. Certainly, there were many times where it was possible to say 'oh, that's an animated character,' but there were other times where it felt like he was 100% real. Even if they were only flickering moments. Interestingly, Tintin was the exception in the movie; most of the other characters seemed more cartoonish in execution. Only the evil opponent Ivan Sakharine came close to rivaling Tintin's humanity. I'm not sure if the caricature's supporting cast hurt or helped the main character's attempts at realism.

Tintin is almost human, his friends, not so much.

Moving on to the story - and character himself - most of the story is one long chase scene. Like the books, there's no explanation of who Tintin is; is he English? French? Belgium? Other questions also go unanswered: How old is he? How come he lives alone? How did he become a reporter? How did he become relentlessly enthusiastic? Maybe a movie about how Tintin became Tintin would have been more engrossing than the non-stop adventure of this movie. There's other problems too; the movie seems to be undated, though it is likely set sometime in the 30's. Yet Tintin refers to Interpol, which only went by that name from the mid 50s.

Tintin also has a terrible habit of explaining everything to his dog, which makes for rather one-sided monologing. Certain points were laboriously explained, while others were brushed over; on seeing a picture of a model ship they were attempting to recover, Tintin notes that the image is distorted and the glass must be bullet-proof. Later on, a close-up of the glass at the edge of the case reveals a "Bullet-Proof" logo.

While Tintin lacks a noticeable accent, most of the supporting cast have pronounced English accents, yet the street and automobile scenes at the beginning are European, not English. When they are saved by Legionnaires in the desert, their commanding officer speaks with an English accent. Can you only make fun of English nationals these days?

On the plus side, there were some very amusing slap-stick set-pieces, and some ingenious action sequences and the first half of the movie was promising. But at some point, the lack of anything but a chase made the movie boring, and for the last fifteen minutes I was wishing that it was over. It also started to feel a bit too much like the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, meets MacGyver, with a red head.

Things weren't helped towards the end when Tintin, who spent most of the movie a relentless, optimistic, advertisement for Ritalin, suddenly decided to pack it all in and give up, prompting his companion, Captain Haddock to deliver a speech about "never giving up." The fact that in the first three quarters of the movie it was Tintin who never gave up, and Captain Haddock who abdicated any responsibility, may suggest this was supposed to be an ironic comment on the character traits of the two, but it didn't play that way.

And then suddenly the bad guy is captured, some treasure is found in an unexpected place, and a map to more treasure is found, and...that's it! It's all wrapped up in five minutes, in a very unsatisfying way with a suggestion of a sequel. I don't think I want to see the second half of this movie.

In conclusion, they've almost got the 3D rendering of humans down pat, they just have to inject some humanity into the story.

[1]. I'm deliberately using stereoscopic rather than 3D when describing the projection of the movie because the movie itself is a 3D animated movie, and I'm mainly interested in that aspect of the movie.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quick Links

5D Mark III Sooner Than Later [CR2] | CanonRumors
Now the rumors say sooner rather than later on the 5D Mark III. But don't be surprised if it changes again!
Barring another manufacturing problem in Asia, count on the 5D Mark III being announced around the end of March or early April 2012.

Don’t Hold Back Your Art | Ron Dawson | Dare Dreamer
The next two posts are sort of similar. This one is an argument for putting yourself out there...
Do you know what’s so ironic about my initial feelings regarding this video? It has a sound bite by designer Rick Anwyl of (the presenter the day the video was shot) saying how each of us is unique and special, and that we each have something to give. He goes on to say “Find your voice. Be confident in who you are and what you do.” I guess I need to pay more attention to my own work.

Under The Circumstances: The Phrase That Means Nothing & Everything | El Skid
| Wide Open Camera
....and this post argues that you shouldn't apologize for your work:
On my recent WW1 short we got stuffed when our lead actor pulled out three days before the shoot. So what? I want people to judge the film for what it is. No more excuses. If it turns out the lead actor ruins the film, then we’ll take that on the chin. I will do better work from now on and stop making excuses for where it did or didn’t work. If it turns out that I’m not capable of the level I aspire to then I’ll have to take that on the chin too.

Tascam iM2 Microphone Quick Take Audio Test. Wide Open Camera | Jared Abrams
| YouTube
I also don't think this device is appropriate for most work, but here's an audio test:
Here is a quick test of the new Tascam iM2 stereo microphone and PCN Recorder App. The stereo mic feels pretty cheap and the App is fairly clunky. Files have to to be uploaded to soundcloud then downloaded to your editing suite. The audio is better than the on camera mics but I cannot recommend this for pro use. It might be a decent back up system.

Various Uses For Teleprompters Prompt Variations | Pat Nordell
| Government Video
An overview - not reviews - of several brands of teleprompter:
Tiffen of Hauppauge, N.Y. has introduced a four-inch prompter—the PW-04—that attaches to the lens of a small camera. “It comes with a case and remote control and software, so the user is ready to go,” says Ray Blumenthal, Tiffen’s vice president of broadcast systems. The PW-04 provides professional video prompting in the palm of the user’s hand, he said.

How could Amazon Studios change the way we make movies? | Roy Price, Director, Amazon Studios
Interesting defense of Amazon Studio's that somehow suggests having more people reading and adding their input in the process will improve the quality of movies being produced. I'm not convinced that's true:
This approach makes complete sense in a world where (a) it is hard to solicit people’s opinions on a large scale and (b) it is expensive to produce any sort of audiovisual representation of a film. But that’s not the world we live in. Mass online discussions are all around us, it is easy to share video and it is not uneconomical to create a viable test movie. Today’s development process yields a lot of box office surprises. If a more open development process, one that looks a bit more like a conversation with fans, can reduce disappointing surprises, it should yield more movies that moviegoers like.

The Secret to Success on Your First Film Job | Evan Luzi | No Film School
Evan normally writes at The Black And Blue blog, but here's an article he's written about how to be a success on your first job:
Before you stepped on set with the professionals, there were dozens just like you who came and went. I bet most of the crew didn’t even bother to keep in touch with them. It’s not that they weren’t nice people, or that they weren’t capable of the job, it’s that they didn’t approach it in the right way.

The real secret is you can’t be satisfied with the job you’re doing.

Five Predictions For Online Video In 2012 | Peter Csathy | Tech Crunch
Peter Csathy, President and CEO of Sorenson Media, offers his thoughts on the future of online video:
(3) Battle for Your Living Room & Cutting of the Cord. Not to be outdone, Google will continue its massive push—and billions of dollars in investment — into the premium video and “TV” world. It doesn’t matter whether Google’s initial experiments have worked so far (they haven’t); Google is patient and recognizes that we are still early in the video game.

Hollywood says goodbye to celluloid | Nick Allen | The Telegraph
It's looking like the end of film will come even quicker than we thought:
A single celluloid print of a movie can cost more than £1,500. A big release can see millions of dollars spent on prints to distribute to cinemas.
With digital projection each copy of the film can be sent out on a hard drive costing just £150. The lower cost makes simultaneous worldwide releases more feasible, which in turn reduces the risk of piracy.

The Sony NEX-VG20: What I like

I’ve had a chance the last couple of weeks to play with the Sony NEX-VG20 thanks to B & H PhotoVideo, who kindly loaned me a camera (full disclosure: I have to send it back.)

The NEX-VG20 is an upgrade to the NEX-VG10, and one way to describe this camera is as a DSLR in a personal-camcorder body. Like a DSLR, it has a large sensor (I've read that it's the same sensor as the one in the Sony NEX-5N),  and supports interchangeable lenses using the Sony E-mount. Like a camcorder, it has a flip-out viewfinder, a very different form factor, and a much better microphone.

At $2,199 - with the $600 kit lens - this camera is not cheap, though you can buy it without the lens. Here's a list of things I like about this camera:

Body shape: At first the camera just felt wrong in my hands; it wasn’t a small traditional camcorder, but it wasn’t a big body camera either. It was sort of in-between. After a week or so of handling it, I got used to it, and it actually works out pretty well. And I really like the LCD screen. More importantly, I like hand holding it much better than holding a DSLR body.

The rotating LCD: This is a camcorder, so it has a rotating LCD on the side, as well as a viewfinder on the back. I like the way the flip-out LCD can easily be viewed from more angles. It's much easier to see than the LCD on the back of the NEX-5N. Interestingly, if you just pick up the two cameras, the LCD on the NEX-5N appears much larger than the NEX-VG20's; but it's an optical illusion caused by the relative sizes of the cameras; the screens are the same size. More importantly, due to the menu system used on the NEX-5N, the NEX-VG20 displays a larger image.

Viewfinder with focus-peaking on

Color peaking: While this is a consumer camera, it does have color peaking, something I’m finding more and more invaluable; and available on more and more consumer cameras.

The Expanded Focus button on the top of the side handle: the NEX-VG20 doesn’t have a whole lot of buttons; that and the lack of XLR inputs are perhaps its two biggest deficiencies. But the focus enhance button on the top of the side handle is really useful; it zooms the center of the image, and it stays zoomed until you hit the button again.

The Record button next to the Expanded Focus button: If I'm going to criticize the lack of buttons, then I have to mention some I find very useful!

The Kit lens: Like the camera itself, this lens takes a bit of getting used to. It’s not incredible; I wish it didn’t extend out the front as you zoom, and I wish it was faster, but if it did all that it would have half the zoom range and cost twice the price. So with that in mind, it’s a pretty good general purpose lens. Zooming isn't totally smooth and silky, but it seemed to improve a bit with use, and in the final analysis it's better than using the small zoom rockers that personal camcorders have.

The Mic: This mic is almost as big as the NEX-5N, and it does a much better job than any DSLR mic.

Operation: if you compare this camera to the NEX-5N, then the big differences - given that the camera has the same lens mount - is the shape of the body, the menu system and buttons, and the audio mic. And the shape of the body, placement of the screen and buttons, all make a noticeable difference in ease of operation.

The price: Okay, if you compare it to a Canon T3i, or even the Sony NEX-5N, it's expensive. But if you want a camcorder with a large sensor, the choices are rather thin in the sub $5,000 category; the Panasonic AG-AF100 and Sony NEX-FS100 are the only other large-sensor camcorders out there. Both of those add features I wish the VG20 had, and the NEX-FS100 has a better sensor, but that's an extra three thousand dollars.

Of course, you could just buy the NEX-5N, and get similar results. The NEX-5N body-only is $599.99, while the NEX-VG20 body-only is $1,599.99. So you're paying $1,000 for a different body shape, slightly bigger LCD, a viewfinder, much better microphone and a few more buttons and controls. But if you're primarily interested in shooting video, and don't mind the slightly bigger body, I'd recommend the NEX-VG20.

Note: the camera was loaned by B & H PhotoVideo. This site also receives a commission on any sales made via links to that website.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quick Links

A Year with Large Sensor cameras | Philip Johnston | HD Warrior
Philip looks back at the large sensor cameras he's encountered this year, starting with the Panasonic AG-AF100:
My recommendation is to get a prime lens that is f1.4-f1.2 for producing interviews and don’t be scared to give the subject breathing space by shutting down the iris to f2.8 there is nothing worse than a person moving in and out of focus during an interview, 9 times out of 10 you won’t know that till you have started the interview wether they sway back and forth.

F65 "Behind the Scenes" | Sony
A five minute video on the F65, with an interview with Curtis Clark, ASC.

The Sony F65 | Video4
This F65 dealer has put together an information page on the camera. You can find most of this on Sony's page, but it's all in one place here:
Some camera manufacturers measure their sensor resolution on the basis of “K,” a unit that equates to 1024 horizontal photosites. So a 4K sensor might have 4096 photosites on every row. Unfortunately, the actual resolution is less because these sensors use Bayer color filter arrays. This design leverages two facts. First, the human eye is more sensitive to black & white (luminance) detail than to color detail. Second, the largest component of luminance is Green. In the Bayer array, 50% of the photosites detect Green light only, 25% detect Blue only and the remaining 25% detect Red only.

No Budget Porsche Spec Ad BTS | Alex Walker | Wide Open Camera
Alex explains how he got together some people to shoot a no budget spec ad:
I wasn’t about to just get some shots of the car driving by with a tripod and call it a day. For awhile now I’ve been really wanting to get a jib and put it in the back of a truck for some almost helicopter like moving jib shots. Those types of shots are usually reserved for folks with a budget so I felt that if we could accomplish these shots with no money it would appear as if we were a little more well funded. Trouble was I don’t own a jib and I had no time or budget. Solution? Twitter contacts. I’ve always felt that Twitter has been instrumental in getting me to where I am today but never has it felt as tangible as when this project fell together.

New Rules for the Ways We Watch | David Carr | New York Times
Carr, the media reporter for The New York Times, looks at the future of video:
So-called virtual operators — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Google and Apple — have none of the legacy or infrastructure costs. Google has unleashed $100 million to seed new programming on YouTube, and Netflix is financing a series by the director David Fincher. That gaming device your children are playing with? That too is a network in the making. Traditional networks and cable providers have the content, but if they hold on too tight, they will miss out on vast new avenues of distribution and revenue.

Production Video #5: On Location | The Hobbit | Blog
Peter Jackson has been posting video blogs about The Hobbit. This one is about logistics for location shooting.

The Real Wizards of Oz Deserve Better Treatment | Eric Roth | Huffington Post
Interested in getting into the world of Visual Effects? This might turn you off it:
But for the artists who create the visuals and help tell the stories we all want to see, life and working conditions are often not a happy Hollywood fantasy. Here's a dirty secret no one in the industry wants to talk about: visual effects artists and professionals are the only major group of entertainment industry workers who are not protected from labor abuses or provided with health insurance and other benefits through collective bargaining. That's just not right.

New Xeon CPU Reported to Be Amazingly Fast | Hardmac
If Apple ever makes a new MacPro, it could be really fast...
According to such information, the new Xeon E5-2690 clocked at 2.9 GHz would be 1.5 to 2.2 fold faster than the fastest current Xeon X5690 clocked at 3.46 GHz.

Edward Burns, Director of Newlyweds, on the Changing Face of Indie Film Distribution | Edward Burns | The Daily Beast
Burns has been pioneering new ways to produce and finance low-budget independent movies:
Sixteen years ago as a film student at Hunter College, I made my first movie—The Brothers McMullen. While film technology has made rapid leaps and bounds since then—I shot my most recent film on a Canon 5D—the method of exhibiting indie films theatrically has seen little change over the years, and it is still as difficult as ever for independent filmmakers to reach a sizable audience in movie theaters.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Quick Links

Canon C300 review and short film “Le Mont, La Pluie et La Nuit” | Philip Bloom
| Blog
Philip posts his review of the Canon C300. Interestingly, he seems to think he will get one, but still keep the Sony PMW-F3:
Things I love about the C300: Size, the amazing image, EVF pretty good, the little lip at the front of the camera, light sensitivity, the onboard codec, the way it works with the Canon lenses, great quality LCD and waveform, actually works great in my hands ergonomically especially with IS lenses. Works out of the box without a rig surprisingly although a rig would be recommended for longer handheld filming. Excellent build quality yet still nice and light. The price at just under £10k for a camera of this spec is amazing. Remember this is not a DSLR but a high powered S35 camera.

The need for more cameras…Why? | Philip Johnston | HD Warrior
Philip asks Alister Chapman why he needs more than one camera:
Now I have the luxury of owning an EX1R for run and gun, quick and easy shooting, the EX1R works very well in that type of application. Next came the PMW-F3 for those more set up shoots, interviews, documentaries, shorts and movies. I now have 2 of them as I shoot a lot of 3D and they are fantastic in this role. However the F3 (which is my all time favourite camcorder) just isn’t suitable for some of the things I shoot, especially things like tornadoes, which are often fleeting, fast moving and unpredictable. It can be done, but the EX1R is a much better camera for this type of thing.

The need for steed: How Skywalker Sound brought Spielberg’s ‘War Horse’ to life | Mike Seymour & Ian Failes | The Daily
A look at the production of foley sound for the movie War Horse:
For the horses themselves, including titular star Joey, Rydstrom faced the challenge of creating characters that audiences could relate to, even though they had no lines. To achieve that key emotional attachment, Rydstrom eventually replaced just about every sound recorded on set.
“Horses don’t really vocalize all the time,” he said, “but they do emote through how they breathe.”
“The most time I spent on the movie, especially in the mix, was making the footsteps and the tail swishes and the body shudders, ear twitches, the breathing and the snorting.”

The Truth About 2K, 4K and The Future of Pixels | John Galt | Creative COW
A look at resolution; is 4K really 4K?
Unfortunately, one of the tragedies of digital imaging, is that now we've got these ridiculous numbers games, because so few people understand the fundamentals of the imaging technology, everybody wants a number to latch on to. The numbers don't mean anything in the context of 100 years of development of film and motion picture technology, optical technology and laboratory practice and cinematographers did wonderful work without understanding anything about the chemistry or photographic emulsion technology.

GoPro HD Hero 2 review | James Trew | Engadget
The new GoPro HD Hero 2 may not solve some problems of the original - it's weight and mounting issues) -but the image quality is improved:
The first thing you'll notice if you have the luxury of having both cameras is that the HD Hero 2 is noticeably clearer. Many people tend to think in pure numbers: megapixels, resolution and so on, but then forget that a lot of it really depends on the piece of glass the image is coming through. We noticed that images were generally sharper, but this was most visible with more complex textures such as asphalt, grass and so on.

How to: Update Firmware on a Sony PMW-F3 | Production Junction | Vimeo
Short video showing how to upgrade the PMW-F3 firmware.

Sony’s FS100 camera to become “WorldCam” via free firmware update
| Allan Tépper | ProVideoCoalition
No date fixed yet, but the NEX-FS100 firmware upgrade should be out in the new year:
Sony USA has just officially announced that the (so-far) segregated 59.94Hz FS100 camera (officially known as the NEX-FS100, often followed by a regional suffix, and then sometimes by the letter “K” to indicate that it is a kit, packaged with a lens) is about to go “WorldCam” via a free firmware update sometime at the beginning of 2012. “WorldCam” is a term used to indicate that a camera has the necessary framerates to be used worldwide

Episode #80 : Alex Lindsay Interview: Introduction To Live Streaming
| Digital Filmmakers Podcast
This weeks podcast covers video streaming:
Have no clue what a CDN is? Interested in streaming your next corporate event live to thousands of people? Then you need to listen to this week’s interview with Alex Lindsay where it’s all about hardware, software and services for streaming online.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Quick Links

Low light comparison between the RED Scarlet & Canon C300 | Nino Leitner
| Cinema 5D
Nino does a low light test with the Scarlet and C300, and finds the Scarlet noisier:
4K sounds vastly superior - it’s 4 times the resolution of 1080p. But apart from the computing-heavy post production, there is one other downside to it: light sensitivity. If the pixels sit densely on a chip, they absorb more light, less resolution leaves more light for the individual pixel. The other part of the reason is the fact that the Mysterium-X sensor inside the Scarlet is now around 3-year-old technology. It’s not the most recent tech anymore and light sensitivity is an area where sensor technology seems to improve exponentially in recent years. RED will be bringing a new sensor to market which is supposed to be much better in low light.

DP David Kruta and the Red Epic | Michael Murie | Filmmaker Magazine
After seeing Dave talk about the Epic at a recent Rule Boston Camera event, I interviewed him for Filmmaker Magazine. There's a second part coming where he talks about using the camera on a recent feature film shoot:
Q: There’s been some question about reliability? What’s your take on that?
A. I haven’t had an issue with it. To be honest, I’ve actually had more problems with the Alexa than I have with the Epic, although I’ve used the Alexa about twice as much as the Epic this year.

On the new build that I just installed the other day, it’s a beta build, it’s frozen on me a couple of times. Not during a take, just playing around with the touch screen or going into playback, but otherwise it’s been completely rock solid.

Portland Lens Test 2011 | Ryan E. Walters | Getting Elemental
An extensive test of different lenses that includes observations from other cinematographers:
As a final note I would like to discuss the importance of mechanics when determining your lens selection. As a director of photography we are responsible for both aesthetics and making our days. If we use a set of lenses only for their optics without considering their mechanical properties then we are only doing part of our job when considering which lens to use for that project. For example, If a lens swap requires one additional minute over a mechanically superior lens then over the course of a feature film that may add up to hours of wasted time.

Lens Test | Shane Hurlbut | HurlbutVisuals
Another lens test done with multiple lenses from three manufacturers: Canon, Leica and Zeiss
Overall the Canon glass produced great skin tones and colors. The reds seemed to be slightly more saturated then the other lenses with slight bleed between red and magenta on our color charts. Very sharp images as well from the primes and the zooms were a bit softer. The images were almost too sharp in some cases which caused small amounts of moire in hair especially. Also the Canon lenses tended to breath more than the others.

Editor’s Take on FCPX: Mario Feil | Final Cut Whiz
Part of a series of opinions on Apple’s Final Cut Pro X from different editors. This post is particularly interesting as Mario offers an extensive list of notes from working with the program:
Anyhow, I will continue to work with FCPX because it saved me hours and hours of time and that’s what it’s all about – the best editing software is the one that doesn’t keep you away from working creatively.

Final Cut Pro 7 was very slow at the end, countless hours of rendering to see final results is a pain in the ass. I never liked the huge “unrendered” screen and the red bar above the timeline. It’s great to finally watch footage in the timeline which didn’t need to be rendered to be reviewed.

Letus Follow Focus Overview | Letus Direct | Vimeo
A short video demoing the Letus35 Follow Focus [$758.95]
1:07 Installation
1:59 Positioning the follow focus
2:42 Setup Tips
3:44 Moving the drive gear

Wim Wenders on the Bittersweet Making of His 3-D Pina Bausch Documentary
| Miranda Siegel | NYMag
Interview with Wim Wenders on the film about his friend Pina Bausch, a German choreographer. He explains why - and how - it was shot in 3D: was the answer to twenty years of worrying and questioning and torturing my mind about how to do this film with Pina. That was the solution, I realized. We had finally a new tool, space — and that new tool would allow me to be in the realm of dance, no longer just staring at it. Space, after all, is the dancer's key element: They create space with every step and gesture. In filmmaking, space had always been so fake. You make cameras fall out of windows and put them in cars and helicopters and airplanes, but in the end it was always on a two-dimensional screen. For the first time, I had a tool that wasn’t fake.

The Top 5 Reasons Citizen Kane is Crap | Ron Dawson | Dare Dreamer
A fun little post:
1. Depth of Field. You could sink the Titanic in how deep Wells’ Depth of Field (DoF) is. You would think an auteur like Welles, who’s supposed to know about filmmaking, would know about the importance of a really shallow DoF. Did the word “bokeh” not exist in 1941?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quick Links

Kessle takes a new stealth approach to Sliders | Dan Chung | DSLR News Shooter
If you need to be mobile in the field, smaller and lighter is better:
Enter the new Stealth hybrid slider which takes the Pocketdolly’s portability and combines it with drag control and a super smooth rolling precision stainless steel ball bearing wheel system on the carriage. It does not have the crank handle from the Pocketdolly and the overall design is more sleek than previous dollies. It can be used with DSLR as well as larger cameras like the Sony F3 or even some broadcast models.

The Latest OS X Lion Hackintosh Recommendations for Video Editors
| No Film School
Save money, build yourself a Hackintosh:
I recently upgraded my machine to OS X Lion (it’s working great), and so I also updated the guide to reflect an easy way to do it, courtesy Unibeast from Tonymac:
The guide has been updated to reflect the latest hardware recommendations and OS X Lion instructions. My machine’s currently running OS X 10.7.2 flawlessly.

FCP X: Saving Audio Presets | Larry Jordan | Blog
Instructions on how to save custom audio filter settings in both Final Cut Pro X and Soundtrack Pro:
The process is somewhat simpler for Soundtrack Pro because virtually every filter allows saving custom presets. Unlike Final Cut, which applies filters to clips, Soundtrack filters are applied to a track. This means that every clip in the track is modified by that filter.

Conforming and Compositing 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' | Tyler Nelson
| Digital Content Producer
Interesting that it was cut on Final Cut Pro:
Managing data was one of our biggest challenges, especially because we were working with half a dozen different VFX vendors. Kirk [Baxter] and Angus cut the film using Apple Final Cut Pro again, but when it came time to conform the film and create the digital master, we used Adobe After Effects CS5.5 and Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 software. We also brought data extracted from [Andersson Technologies] SynthEyes, a third-party 3D tracking program, into After Effects to create a cost-effective, desktop-based stabilization and tracking system.

The Ultimate Sony NEX-FS100 Rig! | jean-philippe archibald | blog
Jean-Philippe wanted a shoulder rig that was perfectly balanced for the NEX-FS100:
So after this tryout, what became obvious to me is there seems to be no off the shelve perfect solution for my utilization. So I started to look at every single component available in the market from every company trying to put together the best rig, for me. I also had to build and modify some parts to suits my needs better. It is definitely not going to work for everyone, but I’m sure my finding might help other building there own rig for there specifications.

How to Make An Animated Title Sequence in Cinema 4D and After Effects
| The Gorilla | GreyScaleGorilla
How to create 3D text titles:
Vimeo asked me to do a tutorial for their excellent Vimeo School series and I said “heck yes!” It’s all about how to make a fun animated title using Cinema 4D and After Effects. In Lesson 1, we build the logo from a vector file and prepare it for render. In part 2, we composite it in After Effects using the built in Tracking Software, lens blur and color correction. Follow along over at Vimeo School or watch it below.

EOSHD GH2 Patch Vault | EOSHD
There may have been problems with the first patches for the GH2 that EOSHD posted. They've now been updated.

cineLook Tutorial | Denver Riddle | Color Grading Central
A tutorial/ad for using Cinelook, a plug-in for Final Cut Pro X:
In this tutorial I cover the features and functionality of cineLook™ for HDSLR’s including a workflow for working with Technicolor’s CineStyle using the “S Curve” that comes with cineLook™.

the rc #104 The year in review | podcast | FXGuide
The final podcast for 2011 covers the year in review, plus anti-aliasing reviews, gear and scandals.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quick Links

EOSHD tests the new Magic Lantern Unified on 5D Mark II | Andrew Reid | EOSHD
Testing a beta of the next version of the Magic Lantern firmware hack adds high frame rates and HDR:
HDR video alternatives between low ISO / high ISO frames and then you blend them in post. Brilliant feature. On fast motion you can get a bit of ghosting, I recommend a faster shutter speed to avoid that. More on this feature on EOSHD soon.

Eve Hazelton lighting tutorial two: Using lights around the house to add that extra sparkle | Philip Bloom Blog
Eve offers some interesting, low cost, ideas for lighting:
#2 – Fairy lights! It’s Christmas. Don’t try stealing them off the tree just yet, but do go bag yourself some in the sale to keep in your lighting kit. We all know Phil loves a bit of Bokeh! and when you are shooting at a shallow DOF with these lights in the background its easy to see why! The beautiful out of focus discs of light can add colour, interest and of course movement (gentle twinkling of the lights – I’m not talking disco! – eeek!)

I don’t want to be an AE anymore! | Kyra Coffie
| The Avid Assistant Editor's Handbook
While there's no one sure way to make the transition from assistant editor to editor, this post looks at some common aspects of the journey. Most of this applies to any creative work:
Becoming a crunch time editor sorta falls into the luck category because some company is looking for someone at that moment and they can’t find anyone and take a chance on you and you know you can do it, but they don’t know that yet. You impress them with your editing chops and all of a sudden you are an editor. That has happened a few times to people that I know and you just have to be in the right place at the right time.

Five Things Professional Creatives Need in Their Contracts | Ron Dawson
| Dare Dreamer
Contracts? Who needs contracts?! Some interesting advice here; I wish someone had told me about defining revisions years ago; would have saved me a lot of frustration on more than a few projects:
Revisions. How many revisions of the project are included in the original fee? What is the cost for editing time for any changes afterwards? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read on forums or Facebook groups about videographers dealing with clients who want so many changes it will be ten hours worth of work. If you have a paragraph like this already in place, you can refer to it when they start listing all the changes.

GoPro Timelapse Commute to Federal Court | Rick Macomber | Vimeo
Short video shot with a GoPro HERO2 camera:
So I wanted to do a fun test with my GoPro Hero as I was hurdling toward Federal Court on a breaking story of a jury verdict coming down on a man charged with terrorism. It usually takes me about 45 minutes to get to Boston from Salem but with one photo taken at 4 second intervals it only took about 34 seconds! And just like the good ol' days, Federal Court still allows media to pull right up on the sidewalk!

Sony: 4k from Lens to Living Room | John Sciacca | Blog
Sony has the studio, the cameras, the projectors and the TVs; but they really expect us to buy a new Bluray player?!
But, your current Blu-ray player isn’t going to play any of these new 4K discs. When I posed this question to Sony execs at CEDIA, they responded that moving to 4K is beyond a simple firmware kick-in-the-pants upgrade but rather will require getting a new player; just as when someone wanted to add 3D enjoyment capability

After Effects Tuorials
A couple of After Effects Tutorials:
Photoshop and AE: Refine Edge Command and 3-D Motion Control
| Richard Harrington | Blog
In this installment of PS and AE, Richard Harrington shows to use Adobe Photoshop and After Effects together to get great 3D extrusion. He'll take some photos and split them out into 3D space, as well as use the Refine Edge command and the content-aware fill option to quickly build your layers to pop out and move around in the 3D camera.
Isolating a Subject with Roto Brush | Video2Brain
A 12 minute video (it's free, from part of "Adobe After Effects CS5: Learn by Video", which is not free):
Rather than using conventional, tedious rotoscoping, you can apply Roto Brush strokes to a layer to make a background transparent and isolate a foreground subject. You'll also see how to use the Refine Matte properties to improve the result, place the isolated foreground subject over a copy of the original layer, and apply an effect to only the foreground layer to obscure a face with the Mosaic effect.

“Swede Fest” Celebrates Low Budget Film Remakes in Video | Richard Ober
| Videomaker
Be Kind Rewind was a fun movie, though the idea was maybe funnier than some of the actual execution. I'm not sure I'd want to sit through an entire Swede Fest...
Swede Fest was launched in Fresno, California in 2008 and is held there and in Tampa, Florida, every six months. While it is a film festival, it’s like no other film festival you’ve ever seen, or entered. As described on the Swede Fest website: “Swede Fest is the only film festival dedicated to sweded films. A sweded film is a summarized, low-budget recreation of a popular movie, starring you!” The organizers go on to say about sweding that “it’s a great way to promote filmmaking in your community. Anyone can make a swede, it’s easy and a lot of fun!”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Quick Links

Sony FS100 Prime lens vs Zoom lens | Shawn Lam | Blog
Shawn continues his lens testing with a comparison of the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.4 prime lens and the Sony SAL1650 DT 16-50mm f/2.8 wide angle zoom lens:
I saw a very slight advantage for the prime lens at f/2.8 in both sharpness and contrast but not much of a difference afterwards. The prime was also a bit more consistent when it came to light transmission across the different exposures. I was also interested to see the depth of field differences at the various f-stops.

14 Cameras in one year Part TWO | Philip Johnston | HD Warrior
The second part of a look back at 14 interesting cameras released this year:
Panasonic HDC Z10000
I first saw this 3D camcorder at IBC 2011 and it had an impressive number of features for the money. 3D is not for everyone but if you are looking at a semi pro 3D camcorder this must be one of your choices.

Get Your Free Copy of “Becoming the Reel Deal” | Evan Luzi | The Black And Blue
If you're interested in working as a camera operator, then Evan's The Black And Blue blog is indespensible, and now he has an electronic book he's giving away for free:
Becoming the Reel Deal covers topics such as duties within the camera department, film school, resumes, and how to leverage opportunities to your advantage.
While I can’t promise you’ll instantly get a job when you finish reading it, if you follow my advice, I can guarantee you will put yourself in a better position for long-term success.
This isn’t about getting one gig — it’s about launching a career.

Breaking In | Alex Walker | Wide Open Camera
A short post on thoughts on how to get into any creative business:
I’ll tell you how I managed. Just share your work. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it, just do your absolute best no matter what and share your experiences online. It doesn’t work to just upload to vimeo or youtube; you need to advertise. Make connections with camera blogs and equipment manufacturers, collaborate with fellow filmmakers, write articles, etc.

Editing Tip: Working With Bad Footage | Jackson Wong | Videomaker
This short article has some basic tips on dealing with bad video and audio, and points to more detailed articles:
As for the sound of your given footage, this may be the most important part to fix. Clean audio can save the day, and that’s exactly what you’ll want to do, clean up the audio. Most editing programs have low-cut or high-pass filters, and these can be used to automatically adjust the tones in the video. To adjust specific sounds, look for digital noise reduction.

Post-processing in the digital age: Photojournalists and 10b Photography
| Olivier Laurent | British Journal of Photography
They don't do retouching, but they do, do image manipulation. For documentary/new reporting, is that okay? A good reminder of how changing the contrast/coloring of an image can increase an image's impact.
10b is quick to point out that it is not a retouching firm. The term is often associated with Photoshop experts, who are hired to alter the look and shape of fashion icons, for example. So when it comes to defining Palmisano's role, it can get tricky. Is he a "digital photo editor", a "Photoshop editor" or a "post-producer"? "Post-producer semantically belongs to the world of video-making and sounds a little too vague," says Valentina Tordoni of 10b.

10,000fps!? - The Slow Mo Guys | TheSlowMoGuys | YouTube
A cup breaking at 500 fps through 10,000 fps, shot with the Phantom Flex. Notice the use of sound effects in this video...

Lighting With Home Depot Lights: Part 2 | Shane Hurlbut | Blog
Lighting with a budget light package:
The Cinematography interns and I grabbed our Hardware Store Action Packer and set out on our minimal lighting mission. “What do you want to key him with?” I asked. Derek held up a cool white florescent trouble light. “I like it.” We will make General Taylor a little green. We taped that to a C-stand and armed it out overhead to mimic a desk lamp. I said, “we will need some fill.” We just happened to have another one of these which we rigged back slightly camera right. What are we missing?

Canon 600D and latest Magic Lantern hack to bring adjustable frame rates & HDR video | Andrew Reid | EOSHD
Magic Lantern is a firmware hack for Canon DSLRs, and a new version adds new features:
I am really impressed with the way the Canon DSLR hack – Magic Lantern – has recently been progressing. Enabling video on cameras that didn’t have a video mode is a miracle in itself! (50D). Putting all the settings into a menu system on the camera rather than in a Windows app like PTools with the GH2 hack – also pretty good. As well as higher bitrate recording, ML has evolved to give us ISO 12,800 recording, peaking, crop marks, false colour, zebras and now even variable frame rates.

A Letter to Stanley Kubrick about the Newly Invented Steadicam | FilmmakerIQ
Very cool, the letter sent to Stanley Kubrick alerting him to the Steadicam:
The operator can run and the camera moves through the air as if held on a string from above. I saw a roll of film this morning shot by Haskel where the operator sits on a crane – the crane comes down the the ground, the operator gets of the seat and walks away, no cut. Not only will this thing safe[sic] a lot of money and time by avoiding tracks, but you could do shots and think of shots which would not enter your mind otherwise.

Cinemek Storyboard Composer HD | Cinemek | iTunes
This storyboard application for the iPad 2 is currently 50% off; it's $14.99, down from $29.99.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quick Links

An Affordable Remote Controlled Time-lapse Camera | Richard Harrington
| 3 Exposure
Using the ContourGPS camera for timelapses? That's not something I would have thought of doing!
  • The unit is very small (95x58x34mm) and can easily be attached to a variety of mounting points. It’s also super light, weighing just over five ounces.
  • It has good battery life at 2.5 hours, plus you can swap batteries in it for a longer day.
  • For its size, it offers a capable 5 Megapixel Sensor.

Book Review: Rotoscoping: Techniques and Tools for the Aspiring Artist
| Nick C Sorbin | Renderosity
I always been intrigued by rotoscoping; and Rotoscoping: Techniques and Tools for the Aspiring Artist looks interesting:
Modern rotoscoping, which is still the same basic concept, is used to create mattes, by which parts of a live action scene can be isolated in order to insert effects, color correct, hide rigs or wires, etc. As rotoscoping is a crucial part of any video production today, so is the importance of the job of a roto artist, both in skill and efficiency. There are a number of outstanding tools available today to handle roto work, but the roto artist still needs to refine his or her own skills to use these to the fullest. This is where a book like the wonderful Rotoscoping: Techniques and Tools for the Aspiring Artist, by Benjamin Bratt, comes in very handy.

Shootout in the snow – Sony A65 vs Panasonic GH2 vs Canon 600D | Andrew Reid
Comparison of three different cameras:
Sony’s new sensor in the NEX 7, A77 and A65 is considered down Tokyo way as their best yet until the new full frame ones come along in 2012. I loved the ‘middle range’ one in the NEX 5N because it hadn’t taken an overdose at the Hacienda of megapixels. But I certainly feel colour and gradation are more life-like and smoother on the A65 compared to the NEX 5N and Canon 600D. In some areas the A65 outperforms the hacked GH2, mainly in the shadows and highlights.

Quick FS100 Picture Profile Test | Paul Antico | Vimeo
Paul posts a short test with the NEX-FS100 equivalent of S-Log (sort-of):
Using Frank Glencairn's profiles. G-Log A (graded) is quite nice though I haven't tried it outside much yet. I swear it bought more range though I could just be losing my mind. It certainly brought more latitude in grading. For example, I was able to raise the shadows and still have detail in the mids in highs. The more standard profiles don't allow for as much change; they start to fall apart earlier. The highlight on my head doesn't blow up as badly on G-LOG as with the other profiles either.

GH2 vs EX3 stills... | bwhitz | Personal View Talks
Low light comparison stills taken with the GH2 and the much more expensive, but older and small-sensor based Sony EX3:
In my personal interpretation, I say the GH2 resolves a bit more detail. But they are very close. Both are true 1080p cams. Whoever was saying the GH2 could only resolve 600 lines was out of his mind. 600 lines is even below a 7D.

Epic X un-boxing and 300fps test | MarkyMark662 | YouTube
An amusing "unboxing" video:
Finally 300 frames works on my Epic! We documented the un-boxing and first booting the camera.

Saul Bass's storyboards for the Psycho shower scene | CUA
A series of storyboards by Saul Bass. There's also a new book on Bass' title desings Saul Bass: A Life in Film
Saul Bass prepared storyboards for the shower scene, and was on the set during at least part of the filming. After Hitchcock's death, Bass asserted that he had directed the scene at Hitchcock's invitation--a claim definitively contradicted by both Janet Leigh and Assistant Director Hilton Green. Bass's partisans have subsequently held that Hitchcock merely mechanically filmed shots already laid out by Bass.

What The Business Of Video Will Look Like In 2012 | Steven Rosenbaum
| Fast Company
What's in store for the video business next year?
My prediction is that YouTube won't go out of the UGC business; in fact, it will be the exact opposite. I think you'll see more creative ways to monetize YouTube, including new partnerships with portal players, third-party ad units, and the emergence of important sponsorship and co-branded pages. It's unclear if YouTube will build these offerings, buy them, or partner with others to provide them.

The perfect SCARLET-X rig - buyers guide | Sebastian | Cinema5D
A selection of gear for kitting out a Scarlet-X:
I've decided to go public with this, after all inside the community we can achieve much more than alone. We're getting a Scarlet-X and someone said we'll be one of the first. I'm looking for the perfect configuration to present on the website. Perfect in terms of usability, compability for filmmakers coming from DSLR, versatility, lightweight and "affordable" (all this stuff is so expensive, DSLR is so much cheaper).
Second priority is suitability for rental targeted at low budget productions.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Quick Links

Four Minutes With ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ | Gavin Edwards
| New York Times
Editors Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter with director David Fincher discuss a scene from the movie:
To illuminate that job, and the trio’s ongoing collaboration, we asked Fincher, Baxter and Wall to break down a four-minute sequence that occurs early in “Dragon Tattoo.” The narrative set-up: The journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is visiting the aging industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), who is asking him to investigate a decades-old mystery involving his niece Harriet. Blomkvist agrees to listen, reluctantly, though he is determined to catch his 4:30 train. And ... action.

Nela | Sebastian Wiegärtner | Vimeo
Oh my! This is probably the first baby video shot with the Canon C300!
Short film about my baby girl Nela, which I shot on her first day on planet earth (18th December 2011). Love my girls Eva, Annabelle and Nela. x
Canon C300 Pre Production Model
C-Log 720/50 frames per second

Sony FS100 - Fiddling with Picture Profile | Sam Morgan Moore | Vimeo
Experimenting with different picture profiles and the NEX-FS100:
My rough conclusion goes like this..

You are going to have to let your specular highlights blow
Exposing the majority of your image correctly yields best results
Battle contrast using lights, reflectors, and defocus your highlights with a wide TStop
I think the best profiles are gained when being reasonable

Red: The Camera That Changed Hollywood | Lee Gomes | Technology Review
A look at the history of Red:
Digital movie cameras were already on the market when the Red team began their work. But the image quality of early digital cameras was nowhere near what was required for a feature movie. Quality was improving—but Jannard wanted his first model to leapfrog past all current digital cameras and exceed the strictest performance specs, even for film.

Time Re-mapping Footage in Adobe Premiere Pro | Richard Harrington
| Creative COW
A video tutorial on changing clip speed in Premiere Pro:
In this tutorial for the Premiere Pro Video Adrenaline series, Richard Harrington talks about how to control time inside Premiere Pro. There are many options to change the speed of clips, including the rate stretch tool, time remapping to achieve a variable speed value, and using After Effects own remapping abilities to fine tune your results.

Freelance. To Incorporate Or Not | Jared Abrams | Wide Open Camera
Interesting tax advice on incorporating (as an individual you can write stuff off your taxes too...though as a corp you will avoid having to have withholding out of what someone pays you...)
The first hurdle in incorporating is getting your accountant’s blessing. Many accountants will tell you “it’s not worth it” or “You don’t make enough to justify incorporating” That is just fooey! They either don’t have the program to deal with corporations or they don’t want to get it. Luckily mine was totally on board and suggested establishing an S-Corp. S-Corps are fairly easy to maintain with only one yearly filing and an update of the list of officers. I decided to go with Nevada because of the killer tax laws there. It will be up to you to decide where to incorporate.

Paramount Pictures Celebrates 100 Years With A New Logo | imjustcreative
The new logo isn't that interesting, but hey - Paramount is 100! I always thought the Raiders of the Lost Ark was the best use of the logo...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quick Links

DIY Indie Air Cannons | Realm Pictures | Vimeo
Very cool little tutorial video showing how to create a practical effect explosion with an inexpensive air canon. They are also offering some other tutorials:
For a tutorial on how to create your own DIY compressed air cannon like the one shown in the video, along with 9 other action tutorials, skip along to our KickStarter page and pick up the Indie Action Pack!

The Ultimate Guide to a Camera Assistant’s Toolkit | Evan Luzi | The Black And Blue
Another interesting article at The Black And Blue about putting together a toolkit:
For me, I started out working heavily with the RED One on feature films. As such, my initial toolbag purchase was catered towards that kind of work. Nowadays I have been working a lot on commercials that use DSLR’s. Many of the tools I had acquired to work with the RED don’t have functions while shooting with a DSLR. On the flipside, many of the basic tools I have work in both types of gigs.

Build A Jib From 5 Pieces of Scrap | DIY Photography
I started building a jib like this about a year ago and never finished. Maybe it's time to get to work again:
Jibs can bring huge production value to your videos. See this tutorial by J. P. Morgan for example. Alas they don't come cheap. A small starters jib will set you back about $270 and a production monster like this one will be about a left kidney.

I just wish someone will have plans for a small and affordable crane. Lucky me you. Videographer Dan Colvin from Unitips has a tutorial just like this.

Seagate and Western Digital cutting hard drive warranties in 2012 | Adi Robertson | The Verge
Hard drive warranties are coming appears:
This isn't the first time hard drive companies have announced across-the-board warranty cuts — an article from 2002 shows almost the same changes, with the same explanation that Seagate and WD are bringing their warranties in line with those of similar computer components. It even included the extended warranty fees that Western Digital promised in its latest announcement.

Introduction to SpeedGrade | Colin Smith | Adobe.TV
Adobe recently acquired the grading software SpeedGrade. In this video tutorial, Colin Smith demos the software:
Colin is very excited to show you the newly acquired film finishing and color grading application SpeedGrade from IRIDAS. SpeedGrade contains powerful finishing tools to import EDLs from any editing environment and from there, conform, color grade and render out to multiple formats.

EOSHD releases hacked GH2 patches and film modes | EOSHD
Different patches for the GH2?
Are you mystified by the sheer amount of patches and settings out there for the hacked GH2? I certainly am. Well there is a saying that has served me well in the past – if you want something doing properly, do it yourself! I have been working on my own patches. I’ve optimised these as well as the film modes and I shoot with them on my own work. I believe them to be the most optimal patches and film modes for the best image quality currently possible on the GH2 – at least to my eye.

Brendan Galvin Creates An "Immortal" Look | Panavision
Interview with Cinematographer Brian Galvin, primarily about working with Panavision lenses:
Q: Do you have a different approach in how you shoot anamorphic vs. spherical?
BG: I know anamorphic lenses are faster than they used to be, but I like a little more depth in anamorphic, unless it’s for a specific storytelling point. I am very practical when it comes to work, so there are certain considerations: like how available are the lenses where you are shooting? I want good equipment that works. One thing about anamorphic is people like the flares you get which you don’t get in spherical, and if that’s required, I prefer to do it in camera. I’ve never shot anamorphic digitally.