Saturday, February 05, 2011

Camera News

Zacuto EVF
Zacuto continues to release information about their upcoming EVF in dribs and drabs. The Zacuto EVF is a 3.2” high resolution monitor that is used in conjunction with the optical Z-Finder models. The EVF is compatible with all cameras with an HDMI output.

It will be available in three models; two include just the LCD panel, but don't include an optical viewfinder; you add-on a Z-Finder Pro or Jr.
  • EVF Snap $675 a small onboard monitor.
  • EVF Flip-Up $775 adds a Z-Finder frame built into the unit that can be flipped open to 180 degrees.
  • Z-Finder EVF $805 EVF Snap model and an optical viewfinder.
All EVF’s include a standard hotshoe EVF mount, HDMI cable, rechargeable battery, battery charger, lens cloth and protection case. Additional mounts will be available for purchase; the mount needed will depend on your shooting needs.
Zacuto: Z-Finder EVF

DIY Optical Viewfinder
Instructables has a tutorial on creating an optical viewfinder for your SLR using a used baby powder bottle and a magnifying glass. Spray paint it black, and it doesn't look too bad!

Rode VideoMic Pro Review
Rob Rives at B & H does a quick video review of the Rode VideoMic Pro. Explains all the accessories and switches and has an audio comparison with the Canon 60D internal mic.
YouTubeRode VideoMic Pro
B & H: Rode VideoMic Pro [$229.00]

Canon Vixia HF G10 Review
Camcorderinfo has published a full review of the upcoming HF G10. While this camera is at the expensive end of the consumer camera line, it has a particularly notable feature; the sensor has a much lower pixel count; improving light sensitivity and image quality.
Based on our testing results, Canon's decision to use a smaller concentration of pixels on the HF G10's image sensor was clearly a good one. The camcorder produced impressive video in all kinds of shooting situations, and its performance in low light was among the best we've ever seen from a consumer camcorder.
They ding it a bit when compared to the Panasonic HDC-TM700 because the latter has 1080/60p mode, is more compact in design, and has better still image performance.
Camcorderinfo: Vixia HF G10
B & H: Canon VIXIA HF G10 [$1,499.00]
B & H: Panasonic HDC-TM700 [$749.95]

3D News

3D Blu-ray popular in Japan and growing in the UK
Japanese research firm BCN reports 57% of all Blu-ray units sold before Christmas were 3D-enabled. Meanwhile Sky UK's 3D channel has more than 70,000 subscribers and some 140,000 British homes are equipped with 3D TV’s.
Blu-ray Disc ReporterBlu-ray 3D demand booms in Japan

Attaching the Panasonic VW-CLT1 3D Conversion Lens
Colin Barrett at SimplyDV has put together a video that shows the process of attaching the VW-CLT1 3D conversion lens to the Panasonic HDC-TM900 and aligning it. This involves first screwing the attachment to the front of the camera, and then manually adjusting the lens alignment; which he demonstrates in the video. It's not terribly complex, but it does take a few moments.

Panasonic VW-CLT1

Colin seems to think that the optional 3D converter is a great way to get your feet wet in 3D without having to dive in to a full 3D camera (like the Sony HDR-TD10 or JVC GS-TD1.) Admittedly, you can get this lens and a recorder for $400 cheaper than the HDR-TD10 BUT there are pros and cons to consider with the VW-CLT1 solution:

  • VW-CLT1 and camera may cost several hundred dollars cheaper; depending upon the base HD camera you buy to go with it.
  • Once removed from the camera, the HD camera is a "normal" size and shape
  • If 3D doesn't take off, you can just leave the lens in the box
  • Resolution is half that of the Sony & JVC*
  • With lens attached, the camera becomes almost as large and awkward as the other cameras
  • Fixed focal length (the Sony and JVC offer 10x and 5x optical zoom)
  • The lens seems to be susceptible to flexing
  • If you buy with the TM900, the price difference is only $150
* The Panasonic solution records the stereo images side-by-side on a single HD frame. The Sony & JVC cameras record full frames (one after the other) from both lenses.

Both the Sony and JVC cameras can record in 2D; but they are larger to carry around if it turns out you hardly ever use the 3D feature.

Sony HDR-TD10

Of course, if you already have a Panasonic video camera, then buying the lens makes sense. But if you're thinking about trying out 3D and don't have a Panasonic camera, buying this lens and a camera vs buying the Sony or JVC isn't such an easy choice, unless you're only criteria is price.

B & HHDC-TM900 High Definition Camcorder [$999.00]
B & HPanasonic HDC-SDT750 3D Camcorder (SDT750 & VW-CLT1) [$1,068.97]
B & H: Sony HDR-TD10 Full HD 3D Camcorder [$1,498.00]
Amazon: Sony HDR-TD10 High Definition 3D Handycam Camcorder with 10x Optical Zoom [$1,498.00]
B & H: JVC GS-TD1 Full HD 3D Camcorder [$1,699.00]

SinplyDVPanasonic HDC-TM900: Affixing the VW-CLT1 3D conversion lens

Friday, February 04, 2011

Video Editing

Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve
Oliver Peters reviews DaVinci Resolve for the Mac for Videography;
Whether or not the toolset is to your liking is strictly a matter of taste. I wish it had a plug-in architecture, as some of the more exotic results you can get by using filter effects in Apple Color or a with a filter like Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks just aren't available. There is a built-in blur tool, but it isn't as smooth nor achieves as extreme of a blur as many other types of Gaussian blur filters.
VideographyBlackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve for the Mac

The note about blur caught my attention, because I had just read the second post in Patrick Inhofer's series on his experience learning Resolve (coming from an Apple Color background) and one of the things he says is:
I’ve done (what I consider to be) lots of great work in Apple Color, and I love working with diffusion – but these blurs are just silky. There’s a quality that’s hard define. But having worked with blurs in my grades for years… this is different. Sexy. But with depth. Like Audrey Hepburn in her prime. This is no Gaussian blur.
So each to their own...
TaoOfColorGradingMoving from Apple’s Color to BlackMagic’s DaVinci Resolve, Days 4 & 5

While you're at Patrick's blog, you might want to check out his two part interview with Steve Hullfish, editor, producer, and author of "The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction".
TaoOfColorGradingSteve Hullfish Interview, Part 1

QuickTips for Editing
The EditBlog on PVC is doing 28 days of QuickTips; one tip a day for the entire month. Final Cut Pro, Avid and maybe a few for Adobe Premiere Pro CS5. Tips so far include: Applying multiple FCP bin comments at once, and Scrubbing the FCP thumbnail column thumb.
PVC: EditBlog

Final Cut Pro Sync Tip
A screen tutorial from Elskid explaining how to link a second sound-track to your video segments after you've synced it using PluralEyes.
elskid: Audio Sync Prep Tips In FCP

Camera News

Sony PMW-F3
The first Sony PMW-FF3 cameras have reportedly arrived in the US for QA and will ship soon.

Delay for Canon EOS to Micro 4/3 adaptor
FreshDV reports that the $700 adaptor that Birger Engineering is developing that will provide electronic aperture control of Canon EOS lenses on the AG-AF100 has been delayed. It was to ship in mid-February, but it is now expected at NAB in March.

The article also talks about manual solutions for aperture control with EOS lenses.
FreshDVBirger Canon mount for AF100 delayed till NAB

Helmet Cam
StillMotionBlog explains the construction of a helmet cam used to shoot an athlete's point-of-view for an open to an upcoming NFL event. They ended up using a skate helmet, a Canon T2i, a 15mm fisheye lens and a wireless transmitter.
StillMotionBlog: Constructing the Helmet Cam

DIY DSLR Adjustable Shoulder Rig
The DVRebellion has posted a video on how to make a DIY shoulder rig for a DSLR. It cost ~$80, and they list all the parts that are needed. Note the warning that you need a drill press for best results!
VimeoDIY DSLR Adjustable Shoulder Rig

News From Here & There

Microsoft to the rescue for H.264 on Chrome!
Google created a stir by announcing that they were no longer going to support H.264 in Chrome. Now comes Microsoft to the rescue with a plug-in for Google Chrome on Windows to provide support for H.264.

Dean Hachamovitch, Corporate Vice President, Internet Explorer has posted a fairly lengthy blog post explaining why they are doing this, and also their ongoing support for H.264.

One interesting factoid; at the very end is a note that "Microsoft pays into MPEG-LA about twice as much as it receives back for rights to H.264."
IEBlogHTML5 and Web Video: Questions for the Industry from the Community
NotesOnVideoGoogle to drop H.264 support from Chrome

Marshall Electronics says that it's 7" monitor, the V-LCD70XP-HDMIPT is the World's 1st camera-top LCD monitor with integrated HDMI Loop-Through.
It ships next week.

Who Owns Your Video?
A short primer on video ownership, this article explains whether you give up your rights when you upload a video to YouTube - not completely - and also explains whether you own a video if you paid someone else to make it for you; depends on whether they are a W-2 employee or a freelancer, and if the latter, whether you got a work for hire agreement.
ReelSEOWho Owns Your YouTube Video? You, YouTube, Or Someone Else Entirely?

Avatar Technical Specs
It's interesting that Sony and RED are batting around the idea of 4K cameras, when Avatar - the highest grossing movie of all time so far - was shot digitally using HD (1920 x 1080) cameras.
IMDB: Avatar Technical Specifications
NotesOnVideoWelcome to 4K Sony, Seriously

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Movie News

The Future for Projection is 4K
We haven't really gotten to 4K in video recording yet, but Sony wants you to know that 4K projection is here. They have a white paper on Why 4K?, and a list of theaters that have already installed their 4K digital projectors.
Even though the limitations of 2K are visible from a distance of 1.5 PictureHeights, there still must be some distance at which 2K projection "satisfies"viewers by providing a visibly seamless picture. At this threshold distance,4K no longer delivers an advantage. At the relaxed reference of 44pixels per degree, the threshold distance is 2.30 times the Picture Height.Viewers sitting closer than 2.30 Picture Heights can see a benefit to 4K.Viewers sitting farther than 2.30 Picture Heights will see no benefit.
SonyDoes 4K really make a difference? [PDF] whitepaper
Sony: Theaters with Sony Digital Cinema 4K

DP/30 Interviews "True Grit" Cinematographer Roger Deakins
I have to emotionally connect with a script or find the characters interesting or the situation interesting otherwise...I don't see how you can do your job as a cinematographer if you can't be passionate about the content of the film you're working on.

I think there's a tendency to confuse technique with content. I always remember when I used to do rock videos and I shot Muddy Waters and BB King one night, and the Director said "Well what are we gonna do?" and I said "I'm going to stay there on a 50mm and shoot him." I said, "You don't want to move, I mean why move the camera? That's the most exctiing thing you could watch is that performance, you don't want to get between the audience and that performance" and that's always been my philosopy of cinematography and when sometimes I see cameras doing these amazingly elaborate things, I thikn; "well why?"

He thinks the next Coen Brothers film will be shot on digital.'s up to the guys, but I'm feeling that way...because it gives me more than I can get with film. It's not because I can do it digitally, and it's not because it's easier, it's because it gives me more options. It's a bigger palette, really than I can get with film. [...]
I like this [digital] camera I'm using, it's fast, it's very small, it's very light, it's very quick. I can see the image that I'm photographing, I can play it back, I can see the shot we've got in a full resolution, and I can sleep at night not worrying about where the lab report is the next day, which is quite a big thing really.

Sony PMW-F3 News

Sony has evidently told one UK store that the first UK deliveries are scheduled for 11th February.

Commercial shot with PMW-F3 has a short write-up on what may be the first commercial shot with the PMW-F3.  DP Donny Duncan had been going to shoot the commercial with a Canon 5D, but after seeing the PMW-F3 at a pre-release event, managed to persuade Sony - as well as the client - to let him shoot it with the pre-production PMW-F3. F3 on Vodafone TVC

Zacuto Rigs
Zacuto has customized a couple of rigs for the PMW-F3:
"I'm very impressed with this camera and its extreme low noise, robust construction, on-board XLR audio jacks and all of the right outputs. It all makes this an extremely powerful cinema camera." - Steve Weiss, Product Designer and Director
ZacutoSony F3 – Zacuto’s First Look Video

PMW-F3 Accessories List
AbelCineTech has put together a list of accessories for the PMW-F3, including: Lens Adaptors, Lenses, Follow Focus and Shoulder Rigs.

Slip Slidin' Away

Here in the Northeast we're pretty much sick of snow and ice, but there's still another six weeks of winter to go, so with that in mind, maybe you want to think about getting your camera sliding rather than your car!

Using Sliders
Peter Bohush likes smooth camera moves, and he's written up a piece on sliders, and added a video to go with it which shows using the slider, and also has some examples of slider shots.

He likes Igus sliders, which are inexpensive; and you can get some of their models on Amazon; just watch out that some Igus models don't have a screw-whole on the top of the carriage (you have to do that for yourself!)
NewEnglandFilmCamera Moves Using Sliders - The Dolly Alternative
Amazon: DryLin® W16-C Linear Motion System with clamp for Camera Sliders [$207]
Amazon: DryLin® W1080-A Linear Motion System for Camera Sliders[$131]
IgusCamera and film technology

Chad Soriano bought an Igus slider because he couldn't afford the more expensive models that are out there, and he likes it a lot. NOTE: He bought the W1080-B which has pre-drilled holes, but is currently unavailable on Amazon [Igus says they will have more available soon]

You can read his review here:  IGUS Drylin Camera Slider Video Test Review

Glidetrack sliders seem to strike a middle ground in price and features, and now they've announced the Glidetrack Hybrid:
New Hybrid bearings offer a combination of both sliding AND roller bearings, giving you the best of both worlds. It includes an open architecture design that uses individual greaseless self lubricating plastic bearings and liners that can quickly and easily be swapped out if required.

It's unclear when this will actually be released [the website mentions unprecedented demand and the need for a larger server?! -Ed] but they say there will be a 10% introductory discount offered.
Glidetrack: Hybrid Announcement

Meanwhile, late last year, Daniel Freytag reviewed the current SD model:
in my opinion the Glidetrack is a solid and very mobile slider for the beginner
Freytag-film: Ready! Glidetrack! Action!

B & HGlidetrack SD - 39" (1m) [$309.95] Base model
B & HGlidetrack Shooter HD - 39" (1m) [$429.95] Doubles as shoulder support
B & HGlidetrack HD - 5 ft (1.5m) [$469.95] Heavy-Duty model

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Hardware Reviews

Sony CLM-V55 LCD Monitor
Yves Simard at has posted a review of the Sony CLM-V55 LCD Monitor (which won't be available until March.) He includes a video showing it working on a Canon 5D Mark II, and though there are a few gripes (a little vignetting on the sides, no false color for exposure, lack of hot buttons ) it looks like a very nice monitor; color reproduction is good, okay sound viewing angle is very wide,color peaking for focus and he said it's mostly usable outside in bright light as well.

It only has HDMI input, but for DSLRs users, that's probably fine.

Marshall's 5-inch V-LCD50-HDMI [$516.35 @ B & H] offer's more features - including false color - and looks a little more rugged, but if pricing on the Sony is lower it may be worth considering.
(No price has been announced by Sony yet.) SonyV55 DSLR Monitor

Panasonic HM-TA1 Review
FiveFwd publishes a short review for a Flip competitor; the Panasonic HM-TA1 [$89 @ Amazon]. Image quality is "as good as" the Flip Ultra HD, but the 30fps "is hardly first class" meaning it isn't very smooth, and there's also some image noise.
fwdfivePanasonic HM-TA1

Software News

optimizing for performance: Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects
Adobe recently hosted a one-hour session about optimizing for performance of both Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. They've made available a screen recording of the event, as well as links to additional information.

They also include a reminder to install the latest updates!
blogs.adobe.comoptimizing for performance: Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects
blogs.adobe.comCS5 Production Premium updates: After Effects, Premiere Pro, AME, Photoshop, Bridge, Camera Raw

Boris FX Releases Boris AAF Transfer Version 2
Boris has released Boris AAF Transfer Version 2, a set of two Apple Final Cut Pro plug-ins for transferring sequences between Final Cut Pro and Avid editing and finishing systems. One of the plug-ins exports Avid-compatible AAF format files from Final Cut Pro to Avid editing and finishing systems. The other plug-in imports AAF format files from Avid editing and finishing systems to Final Cut Pro.
BorisBoris FX Releases Boris AAF Transfer Version 2

Lightworks Blog: Post 2

Editor Tariq Anwar has received three award nominations; the ACE (American Cinema Editors) Eddie, BAFTA (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and Academy Awards for his work on the film "The King's Speech."

Turns out he edited it using Lightworks.

There's an interview with Tariq at the Lightworks website where he talks about how he got his start, editing, and Lightworks.
The most enjoyable thing for me is in the shaping of a film after the assembly stage. It’s amazing how malleable it is during the editing process, and then to make the material work in a way that wasn’t intended - either by luck or by judgment - is very exciting.

Also I love editing with a full FX track and temp music. Finding the right score and the appropriate place to use it is a great part of the picture cutting process.
LightworksbetaIn the spotlight: Tariq Anwar

News From Here & There

Removable LCD for the GoPro
One of the problems with some of the small wearable cameras is that it's hard to frame them - or know if you actually recorded what you wanted to shoot - because there's no LCD display. Now GoPro is introducing the LCD BacPac, a $79.99 removable LCD screen for their HD HERO cameras.
  • Attaches to 1080p HD HERO cameras featuring the rear HERO Port
  • Simple one button design allows for easy on/off and playback control
  • Normal speed, fast forward, and fast reverse video and photo playback
  • Integrated speaker with volume control 
Included with the new LCD BacPac are four new housing backdoors that can be attached to both the existing HD HERO waterproof housing as well as the HD Wrist housing which enables the HD HERO to be worn on the wrist. The new backdoors allow both housings to fully enclose the HD HERO camera plus LCD BacPac within the respective housings. Furthermore, the LCD BacPac is compatible with all existing GoPro mounts, when attached to the HD HERO camera.
GoPro: LCDBacPac

Budget Matte Box coming soon
David Aldrich, maker of the D|Focus, a budget priced follow-focus device, is now working on a budget matte box, the D|Matte. Features promised include:
  • Two 4x4 filter tray-less filter holders (one rotating.) No filter trays here, just slide the filter into the slot.
  • Wide angle lens compatible. Will work with lenses as wide as 20-24mm (depending on the lens) on a full frame camera.
  • Clip on design will fit pretty much any lens with filter threads up to 82mm. This includes all Canon L series lenses (except for the super telephoto) and Zeiss primes.
  • Each D|Matte will come with an 82mm attachment ring. Use step-up rings to fit smaller lenses.
  • Included top french flag.
  • Made of injection molded plastic (probably ABS and polycarbonate, not 100% sure yet and won't be until the tools are finished.)
Price is expected to be about $299,and it will be available in mid-February (Jag35, a distributor for the D|Focus just tweeted that this "is coming")
D|Focus: Info On The D|Matte

IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs
The Labs says that it "supports first-time feature directors in post-production to complete, market and distribute their films," by providing technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films – and their careers.
They have specific requirements - you have to provide a rough cut of at least 40 minutes, and it costs $50 to submit - so it may not be right for everyone.

Panasonic AG-AF100 Review
Benjamin Eckstein has written up his impressions of the AG-AF100, and he generally likes it, particularly the fact that because it's a video camera the audio, monitoring and operability is much simpler and easier; "the AF-100 allows me to be lazier because I feel more confident with it as a tool."

There are some minor niggles like a miss-match between the color of the LCD and the viewfinder, but the only real negative is that you can't get the extreme shallow depth-of-field that you can get on the 5D Mark II, and he doesn't even miss that; he feels that the AG-AF100 does more than enough for what he needs.
The picture is sharp and reminds me of my EX-1 with shallower depth of field.  I find the skin tones to be quite rich, and the picture overall to be much more colorful.  There are a lot of settings to the picture, and they make a huge difference, and I am still figuring out what works best in what circumstances.  I did find that out of the box, the image is a bit noisy, but there are a few settings (particularly the Matrix/Detail settings) which make the image much cleaner.  I don’t expect ever having to have someone change their wardrobe due to moire, which has happened on a few occasions with the 7D, as Panasonic has done a good job solving that problem on the AF-100. 
benjamineckstein: Welcoming the AF-100

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Welcome to 4K Sony, Seriously

Sony has posted a video on their 4K roadmap. This is a video of lecture by Hugo Gaggionoi, CTO, V.P. of Technology, Sony Broadcast & Professional Solutions. Hugo gave amost exactly the same lecture at a recent SMPTE meeting in Boston.

This talk makes it clear that Sony is going after RED. There are even a couple of veiled references to RED; specifically a reference to the fact that some people who claim to be doing 4K really aren't because they are using a single chip camera with a Bayer pattern. (check the video at about 7:10)

Sony comparison of current chips

Sony's F35 does dofull color sampling for HD (1920 x 1080) but doing that for 4K is difficult - or maybe expensive - because you'd need either three 4K chips or one really huge 26.5MP chip.

Sony's own "4K" roadmap includes a new sensor called the Q67 that has 17.7M Pixels (4K x 2K) in a new color filter orientation, giving 100% of green, 50% blue and red, which they say is 67% of the image information. They claim that competing Bayer pattern chips supply only 33% of the image information (this is a bit misleading, because we're talking color accuracy; brightness will be accurate.)

Sony's new Q67 sensor

Sony's announcements - they haven't formerly announced a product - has prompted Jim Jannard of RED to post "Sony has just validated 4K as the future. We like that."

Seeing that post, I couldn't help thinking of the ad that Apple ran back when IBM entered the PC market. For those who don't remember, Apple practically owned the PC market with the Apple II, until IBM announced their PC. IBM/Microsoft promptly took 90-95% of the PC market and has retained it ever since. Apple's never recovered in the PC market; recent successes are more due to establishing new markets; iPod, iPhones.

Sony4K/2K roadmap
Reduser: Sony

Movie News

James Cameron talks up higher frame rates
James Cameron tells The Wall Street Journal that he wants higher frames rates and brighter projection for Avatar 2 to reduce the problems that some people have with 3D:
And we want to shoot the movie at 48 or maybe even 60 frames a second, and display it at that speed, which will eliminate a lot of the motion artifacts that I think are causing some people problems.
WSJJames Cameron Explains Why the 3D Experience Will Be Better On ‘Avatar 2’

The Art of Cinematography
A short article (and video) arguing that Roger Deakins should win the Oscar for best cinematography for "True Grit."
HollywoodReporterThis Scene Alone Should Win 'True Grit' Cinematographer Roger Deakins an Oscar

Sony HD cameras making movies
HDVideoPro reports on the making of TRON, which was shot using a Sony F35, and The Lion's Share, shot on the Sony F23
HDVideoProWith sophisticated digital tools, the production team behind TRON: Legacy builds a sequel, bit by bit
HDVideoProDirector Michael Apted and cinematographer Dante Spinotti, ASC, AIC, create a magical world for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Austin is the 4th best place to make movie?
Joe M. O'Connell says that Moviemaker has named Austin the fourth best place to "live, work and make movies. No words on 1, 2 and 3.
joemoconnell.blogspot.comMoviemaker mag names Austin #4 best film city

News From Here & There

Rode Videomic and Rode Videomic Pro Compared
Vimeo user Carl has posted some videos comparing the Rode Videomic Pro [$229] with the Videomic [$149] and a lavalier mic.
Listen and let me know what you think. From my own conclusions there is quite a difference. I recommend you turn up the volume up on your computer/tv to compare the two. There is a distinct loudness and hiss to the VP but that has disappeared from the VMP, albeit making the VMP much quieter.
VimeoRode Videomic, Videomic Pro and Lavalier Test
VimeoRode Videomic & Videomic Pro Audio Test +20dB
VimeoAudio ONLY test of Rode Videomic and Videomic Pro

Problem with the Canon EOS E1 plug-in for Final Cut Pro
Jeremy Garchow explains a problem with the plug-in, and a possible work-around.
Basically, the log and transfer plug in will not restore a project if the file path has changed from the point of the original log and transfer. The E1 plugin can't recognize the clip and volume names through log and transfer, especially if you have renamed/logged the clips in the L&T window to something useful.
CreativeCow: A few words of warning for the EOS MOVIE Plugin-E1 for Final Cut Pro users

Panasonic announces pricing for 2011 camcorders
The Panasonic Full-HD camcorders will be available for suggested retail prices (SRP) of $1,399.95 for the HDC-HS900; $1099.99 for the HDC-TM900 and $849.99 for the HDC-SD800. The new Full-HD camcorders feature 1920 x 1080 resolution with 1080/60p recording to create crisp, detailed videos, and can also shoot 3D videos when used with Panasonic's optional 3D conversion lens (VW-CLT1). The 3D conversion lens has an SRP of $349.99 and can capture vivid 3D imagery, which can be played back on a Panasonic VIERA 3D TV* or AVCHD-compatible player/recorder.
PRnewswirePanasonic Announces Pricing for 2011 Line of Camcorders, Including 3D-Capable, Full HD Models

Sony PMW-F3 Gain Test
Jeremy Wilker of Tweak Digital has posted a short gain test of the PMW-F3 using a pre-launch version at 0db, 6db and 18db of gain.

Sony F3 Gain Test from Jeremy Wilker on Vimeo.

How Lucasfilm got Sony to 24p

As part of the Great Frame-Rate Debate, Larry Thorpe told the story of how Lucasfilm persuaded Sony to support 24p

Well, it started in the 80's and the 90's when I was part of SMPTE and then the CCIO, and we were trying to make 60 fields a universal world-wide standard. [If you'd raised] 24p at that time, I would have shot you. I just wouldn't allow any discussion of 24.

Until the world decided "well we're not going to unite on 60," one region would remain 50, the other region would remain 60, we could agree on the spatial sampling, which is ultimately what we did. We got the world standard on the sampling, but not the field rate.

And then at about that time this was emerging, we were contacted by Lucasfilm, who had been working with Digital Betacam and they said "You know, we hadn't realized that digital imaging was advancing so fast, this is standard definition but it's quite incredible."

They had resurrected a Star Wars scene and shot it with Digital Betacam at 60 and converted it for film and put it up on the screen and said; "There's only three things missing; one is aspect ratio, two is 24 frame - the film look - and the other is resolution"

So they challenged us to consider a high definition digital betacam, and it happened that at the next NAB we were introducing the first HD cam, so we revealed that to them before anybody else, and they became very excited. They said "this is it, now if you'd just make the 24 frame."

Well that was a big discussion. I went back to Japan and said "Guess what? Lucasfilm said all we have to do is make it 24 frame." They said, "You're joking, television is 60 or 50." I spent a couple of years trying to explain to them that there can be a world of video that's 24.

Finally, in 1998, December, at Los Angeles, SMPTE brokered a big dinner between a whole horde of the technologists from Japan. Sony came, and I said to Lucas, "You've got to do the sell job, I failed."

Rick McCallum, George Lucas's producer, led the team from Lucasfilm and he gave the most marvelous explanation to all the engineers on why "if you build it, they will come; you will never get HD into the movie making world until you make 24 frame, and the day you do that they will come. "

And they were absolutely right.

So 24, while it was technically offensive to me, it was politically offensive to me, it was absolutely the only way that HD would have gone into movie making, and the march has never stopped.
- Larry Thorpe

The 24p Debate: Part II

The second part of my notes from, The Great Frame-Rate Debate, held at last year's Public Television Quality Workshop.

The panel featured director and special effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull, SMPTE Fellow Mark Schubin and industry veteran Larry Thorpe, and was moderated by Bruce Jacobs.

What about 30p?

There’s some people who say it does have enough of the [24p] look. I’m not one of them. It looks different certainly, to me it does not look like movies, it looks like some attempt that somebody made to get a movie type look.

I should note that in the opposite direction, for several years now at the international broadcasting convention, the European Broadcasting Union and the BBC have been showing things at 120, 150, 300 fps and showing the tremendous increase that you can get in dynamic resolution by doing that, and they would like us to be shooting everything at very high frame rates and then doing something like what Doug was talking about and go down to whatever exhibition frame rate you want to go to.
- Mark Schubin

I think a lot of viewers would accept it as being reasonably like the 24 frames, but the directors and DPs, they see the difference, and they call the shots. Also, 30 works fine in the US, but the beauty of 24 is that you can get to 25 and 60 relatively crudely; [you do a] speed change for the Europeans [and] 3:2 for us. Everybody accepts that, and 24 has that global universality about it that 30 does not. Getting to 25 digitally can be done, but it’s not as simple as with 24.
- Larry Thorpe

We don’t have words in the English language to describe that subjective difference between 24 and 60i or 60p.
- Douglas Trumbull

I think there’s different content that’s appropriate for different frame rates. When people think about sports or news, 24 frames doesn’t cut it, it looks like a movie, it doesn’t look live. There’s a texture that…we don’t have words in the English language to describe that subjective difference between 24 and 60i or 60p.

Jim Cameron intends to make Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 at 48, 60 or 72 frames, he hasn’t decided yet; it has to do with some standard’s issues and what the projector manufacturers are going to be able to deliver, what the media servers are going to be able to do, etc., etc. But he wants to go to that reality immersive based thing which also solves a lot of horrible problems that 24 frames introduces into 3D
- Douglas Trumbull

Douglas Trumbull

What’s different about 3D that makes the judder more of a problem?

3D is two images superimposed that have slight differences between them; left eye right eye, differences. If the motion of the object on the screen from one frame to the next meets or exceeds the displacement between the left and right eye, 3D goes away. It’s lost totally. And you’ve got all these movie directors who want to do action scenes, car crashes and fights and stunts, with fast camera moves, and slamming fists and explosions. And if you actually analyzed those frames, there’s not any information there for substantial periods of time, and the 3D effect virtually vanishes
- Douglas Trumbull

Other issues when shooting in 24p

In movies, blurring and a roughly 180 degree shutter is vital to having that illusion of motion work fluidly. And it’s very well known amongst people who are cinematographers and projectionists in the movie industry, if you shoot with a very narrow shutter opening, it looks very stroboscopic and juddery, because each frame is sharp.

There’s a very good example of that, in a current movie called Secretariat. If you’re looking at the hooves of the horses during the race, they shot with an extremely narrow shutter opening so what you see is a lot of sharp frames and no blurring. It was like the opening sequence in Saving Private Ryan, which Spielberg shot with a very narrow shutter for a certain period effect. But everybody who makes movies, knows how important blurring is for 24 frames, and so [in] animated films [like], Toy Story 3, they spend a huge amount of computer rendering time to create artificial blur.
- Douglas Trumbull

Way back on 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was film school for me, we started shooting our miniatures with stop frame camera positions, so every frame of the Discovery spacecraft was sharp. It looked horrible. We'd started lighting our scenes with strob lights, and it just did not work. That’s when we realized that even though the shutter was open for 10 seconds on an F 32 exposure to get the length of the ship, it had to be moving during the shutter opening period to get the natural blur that would occur if it had been shot at 24 frames. So you just let the shutter rotate half open half closed, half open half close, no matter what length of time you were shooting, to get the same blur that you would get with live action.
- Douglas Trumbull

See also NotesOnVideo: The 24p debate: Part I

Monday, January 31, 2011

New Hardware

AJA Ki Pro Mini Shipping
Last Friday at the San Francisco SuperMeet, an AJA representative said that the Ki Pro Mini would be shipping in a week. Today they've sent out a press release saying it's shipping now. Ki Pro Mini is the smaller, lighter version of its breakthrough portable tapeless recorder that captures to 10-bit Apple ProRes 422 codec directly from the camera.

US MSRP for Ki Pro Mini is $1995.
AJA: Miniature 10-bit 4:2:2 file-based recorder mounts easily on digital cameras and accessories

JVC has announced the GY-HM750U, and update to the GY-HM700. This $7,450 pro camcorder is now equipped with a 68-pin chassis connector that allows various modules such the KA-AS790 ASI adapter to be attached without external cabling--ideal for live microwave broadcasts.

New features include:
  • Simultaneous recording on both SDHC cards for instant backup or client copy
  • 20 second Pre Rec (retro cache) function prevents "missed shots"
  • 720 x 480i (SD)
  • Recording: .AVI or .MOV SD format
  • ASI output with optional KA-AS790 module provides MPEG2 signal for microwave or long distance cable runs

Lightworks Blog: Post 1

Lightworks is an NLE (Non-linear Editor) that has had some success in feature film editing, and was acquired by EditShare last year, who decided to take it Open Source. That's right, you can download it and run it; for free!

Free you say?! Well, I'm all over that. Unfortunately, at the moment Lightworks is only available for the PC, though they have said that they are working on a release for the Mac and Linux.

As luck would have it, I don't currently have anything running on my PC that will edit video (I primarily run Final Cut on my MacBook.) I do have a copy of Premiere Pro 1.0 running on an old PC, but I haven't bothered to reinstall it on the Dell laptop.

Figuring it's always handy to have a video editor - and free is just the right price - I decided to install Lightworks and give it a go. This will be the first of what I hope will be a short series on how that goes.

You have to register at the Lightworks Beta website - it's free - before you can download the software. Unfortunately, after logging in, I couldn't even download the software. I also had problems with the log-in process (and passwords) which was probably user related, but the net effect was; I ended up registering twice, then had to download the software on my Mac and send it over to the PC before I could get it to install.

When you first launch it, Lightworks asks you what keyboard layout you want (Avid, Final Cut or Lightworks) and I chose Final Cut.

The Projects browser then appears asking you what frame rate you want to use (it defaults to 25 fps) and the name of the Project.

Then you're deposited into a blank workspace with a toolbar and a shark that talks in comic balloons. He recommended ingesting media using the record tool or the import tool, so that's what I tried.

Importing Files - a bit of a problem
The first thing I wanted to do was import some files to play with. That's when I ran into problems. The .mp4 and .avi I tried all generated an error. The documentation notes that Lightworks uses QuickTime to import files. They also point out that one of the limitations of Open Source is that they don't have licenses for some of the commercial/licensed codecs, so I had been primed for a problem, but I didn't think it would mean that nothing I tried would open.

I gave up.

10.0.3 A new day
And then a few days later, they rolled out 10.0.3, which they said had improved codec support. I thought I'd give it a try, so I downloaded the update (and had no problems with the website this time!) and was also careful to install the Matrox drivers that were recommended, and lo and behold; nearly all the clips I tried now opened successfully! It was like night and day.

So if you gave Lightworks a try when it first came out, and ran into problems, you might want to give it another look.

In the mean time, I'm puzzling over the interface...this is nothing like Premiere or Final Cut! Check the Lightworks tutorial from DV Studio Productions (below) to get you started!

 Lightworks: Import Error

MacVideoTV: Lightworks: non-linear editing system
Keith Gee from EditShare talks about Lightworks

Lightworks Beta
Get the software here

YouTube: Lightworks Tutorial- World's First
A quick demo that shows you how to get started editing with the unusual - for those of us used to Final Cut and Premiere - interface of Lightworks

The 24p debate: Part I

Roger Eberts column about Maxivision reminded me of a panel discussion, The Great Frame-Rate Debate, at last year's Public Television Quality Workshop.

The panel featured director and special effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull, SMPTE Fellow Mark Schubin and industry veteran Larry Thorpe, and was moderated by Bruce Jacobs.

The panel made it clear that 24fps was mostly an accident. Mark told the history of how 24 came to be because when sound was added they needed a constant speed; it didn't really matter what the speed was. Trumbull, known for amongst other things his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey, is a big fan of higher frame rates, though he acknowledges that the "film look" is what many people expect to see.

Douglass Trumbull, Larry Thorpe and Mark Schubin

Why 24p?

There is absolutely nothing special about 24 frames per second. There is no particular psychological reason for it [...]

Sound required a constant frame rate. It did not require any particular frame rate, but it required a constant frame rate […] this guy from Western Electric, Stanley Watkins did a survey of movie theaters, and what he found was that they all projected at different frame rates, and the smaller movie theaters projected faster than larger movie theaters. All of them projected faster than it was shot because they wanted to get more people to come in and get more shows […]

But he found that if he did a weighted average of what the big theaters and the little theaters were doing, he came up with 24. And 24 happened to be, for the number of frames there are in 35 mm film, 90 feet per second, which was a nice round number.

No magic to it, except that it happened back in 1926, and the fact that it happened back in 1926 means that we have 24 frames per second saying to us “this is movies” for many, many decades.

It’s a look. It may be a desirable look, it may be an undesirable look, but it’s something we respond to.
- Mark Schubin

I love high frames rates because I like to make simulation rides and reality based experiences that are as realistic as they possibly can. But 24 frames is what I call the texture of feature films, and I don’t think anybody is really ready to see a feature film shot at 60fps. That was one of the tests I did when I was at Showscan; we shot a dramatic short film with sets, props, actors, the whole thing at 60, and it was very disturbing because it was like live news.

But as you go bigger, like Imax, the displacement from frame to frame is increased and it doesn’t fuse as easily, so fast motion has always been a no-no in Imax. When you take a 35mm movie and blow it up to Imax, which is happening regularly these days, I find it very hard to watch because it doesn’t fuse any more, particularly on fast action.
- Douglas Trumbull

I always distinguish between strobbing and juddering. When you play with the shutter, when you start to see the ball jump, that’s strobbing, it’s regular, but there’s a jerk in it. The judder comes when you then interfere with that to convert that 24p to 60 using 3:2 pulldown. Now that regular motion gets a kick in it because of the 2:3.

Judder is something that our eyes and brains are very sensitive to. The big difference between the 14 foot-lamberts on a movie screen, and the equivalent of 60 or 70 foot-lamberts that you can have on a television screen, suddenly judder leaps out at you. And on a big HD screen it can be pretty painful.
- Larry Thorpe

What Tips Do You Have For Shooting At 24p?

Depth of field: If you’re following fast action, you blur the background. You get the background out of focus and now when it blurs or judders, it doesn’t trouble you. And your eye and brain are drawn into the foreground action, which is exactly what the director wants.
- Larry Thorpe

Well there’s an old trick that’s used in the movies all the time, is to have some foreground object that isn’t so blurred with your panning. And you’ll see it in movies if you start watching for it. You know; there’s the entrance to the cafĂ©, the camera wants to pan over to the table where some actress is, and a waiter will come by in the foreground while the camera pans to give some component of the screen that’s not blurry.
- Douglas Trumbull

Doug mentioned the viewing angle, or the size of the image, when Rent was done as a Broadway theater production that was sent in to movie theaters, it was shot at 24p, but it was shot by a video crew, and everyone was looking at little monitors, and everyone loved the look. And then it got projected on giant theater screens and it was strob, strob strob, with the moving feet, so it would probably have been better to have done that one at 60.
- Mark Schubin

One last piece of advice; Get a copy of the Amercian Cinematographer Manual and read the panning section.

In Part II: 30P, 3D, and shooting miniatures.

Douglas Trumbull
IMDB: Douglas Trumbull
Mark Schubin: Schubin Cafe
SportsVideo: Larry Thorpe
PBS: Public Television Quality Group

News From Here & There

Google's Decision to Drop H.264 in Chrome; two weeks on
Larry Kless does a good job of wrapping up what we know - and don't know - about Google's decision to drop H.264 from Chrome. He also covers a lot of the reaction on the web to the decision.

While's there's no conclusion, it does fill in some details about the decision, and - perhaps - make's it seem less monolithic and more a decision by one part of Google (i.e. the Chrome team) to push forward in a particular direction.
ReelSEOFear and Loathing in Online Video: The Video Codec Conundrum Continues

Redrock Panasonic AG-AF100 Rig Bundle
Redrock Micro has put together a bundle specifically intended to the AG-AF100. Cost is $1,878.50.
RedrockStudio Bundle for Panasonic AG AF-100

Title Sequence Design
The Art of the Title posts an interview with MK12 partner and creative director Ben Radatz. MK12 were the title and motion graphic designers for the James Bond film Quantum of Solace. In addition to the opening sequence, they also designed all of the computer interface elements shown in the movie, as well as remaking the opening:
Last but certainly not least, we also gave the iconic "Bond Barrel" a makeover, starting from scratch with a new Craig and a transition into the Quantum end title card. (fun fact: this was the first Bond film to have the barrel at the end of the film.)
ArtoftheTitle: Quantum of Solace

HDR Video
Stephen Lee Carr has posted a blog entry about producing HDR (High Dynamic Range) video. Much of it covers what options there are currently to create HDR video (either the very expensive Arri Alexa and the RED Epic which have 14 and 18 stops of latitude respectively, OR using a beam splitter and two cameras) but then goes on to tease a method he has found that works with his Canon T2i.

At the moment, he doesn't explain his workflow in the post, but over on Vimeo, he's posted a sample HDR test and explains the workflow, which involves taking multiple still frames:
An HDR slow motion video test. Workflow is as follows:
  • Shoot four RAW stills in rapid succession.
  • Create HDR images from the stills in Photomatix.
  • Tone-map the HDRs in Photomatix with same settings.
  • Stretch/interpolate the four frame image sequence to desired length using Twixtor in After Effects.
  • Heat and serve!
StephenLeeCarr: Canon T2i/550d HDR Video is Coming

Slow Mo HDR Test from Stephen Carr on Vimeo.

Converge Festival, Mar 1st & 2nd, London

If you're going to be in London on March 1st, the Converge Festival will feature Richard Jobson, Philip Bloom, Kevin Shahinian, Robin Schmidt and Danfung Dennis (who's movie “Hell and Back Again" just won the World Cinema Cinematography Award for Documentary Filmmaking at the Sundance festival.)

Converge Festival

John Barry (1933-2011)

Film composer John Barry passed away yesterday in New York. He was 77. Barry composed music for a huge number of movies, including several Bond films (including Diamonds are Forever), Midnight Cowboy, Born Free and Dances With Wolves.
The Playlist: R.I.P John Barry (1933-2011)
IMDB: John Barry

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hollywood News

Oscar Picks Distributed on iTunes
The Los Angeles Times reports that studios have increasingly been using iTunes and other DRM online methods of distribution to let Oscar voters see movies. In the past, DVDs were sent out, but these often fell into the hands of pirates.

Sure, DRM can still be broken, but the studio's think that the lack of physical media and simple gate-keeping is likely to prevent unintentional distribution:
In cases where discs get pirated, the actual uploading is typically done by someone several steps removed from the recipient, often without that person's knowledge, according to studio executives and law enforcement officials.  
LosAngelesTimesStudios seek to cap piracy threat from thousands of DVDs sent to awards voters every year

Mark Zuckerberg On SNL
Mark Zuckerberg made an appearance on Saturday Night Live during Jesse Eisenberg's opening monologue. The bit played up Eisenberg's playing Zuckerberg in The Social Network, and Zuckerberg's assumed dislike for the movie.

When I saw it, my first thought was that Zuckerberg's PR people were finally earning their money, but an article by Bobbie Johnson published two weeks ago suggests that maybe they'd seen the positive in The Social Network much earlier.
SNL: Jesse Eisenberg Monologue
GigaomGolden Globes’ Facebook Lovefest: How Zuckerberg Used Hollywood’s Halo

Bigger, Faster Movies
Having killed off 3D movies [hardly! -Ed] Roger Ebert clearly thinks he needs to replace it with something, so here comes MaxiVision; movies with higher resolution, brighter images, and higher frame rates.
ChciagoSunTimesAfter 3D, here is the future of film

Danfung Dennis Wins Cinematography Award with Documentary Shot with 5DmkII
Danfung Dennis won the World Cinema Cinematography Award for Documentary Filmmaking at the Sundance festival awards with his film “Hell and Back Again.” The movie was shot on the Canon 5DmkII and follows the story of a Marine fighting in the Afghan war and his subsequent rehabilitation.
DSLRNewsShooterDanfung Dennis Scoops Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Award

It seems most if not all the films shot on DSLRs that got serious recognition at Sundance were shot on the #7D. Not the 5D.

News From Here & There

Panasonic AG-AF100 (AG-AF101) Review
Philip Johnston over at HDWarrior has put together a 20 minute plus video review of the Panasonic AG-AF101. He's had the camera for a couple of weeks, and has already posted some bits and pieces about it.

The review starts on a troubling note; "When I first got this camera, I wasn’t that impressed with it. Sometimes it could produce fantastic pictures, and sometimes it was a bit noisy."

He goes on to explain that after taking some time to get to know the camera, he's figured out what to do to make it work properly; notably set Gamma to Cine-Like V and Matrix to Norm 2. These two options, he explains, give "far better pictures."

He also notes that the auto-focus is not too clever and that it hunts when you least expect it, so he leaves it off.

Philip provides a good over-view of the options of the camera, and talks about what he likes about it. The big plus of the camera, as he sees it, is the ability to change lenses, and he spends some time on lens options. He likes the Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95, which does a great job of producing a shallow depth-of-field but this perhaps highlights one problem that the comparatively smaller Micro 4/3rds chip camera has when compared to the really large full frame Canon 5D Mark II; you have to go to a really big aperture to get comparably shallow depth-of-field.

One other problem; it's really hard to find the Nokton lens.

Philip finishes with some low light examples, and demonstrates using the camera with a pull focus Bebob FOXI Focus; a remote focus control that works with Panasonic cameras (similar to the Manfrotto 521PFI.)
HDWarriorPanasonic AG-AF101 User Review (20mins)

Comparing Panasonic to Canon
Perhaps in response to the video from DigitalRevTV comparing the GH2 and Canon 60D, EOSHD has written a post comparing the Panasonic and Canon images. I'm not too sure how helpful it is, as it appears to try and balance two opposing points of view:
Canon seem to win on warmer tones.

[Pansonic] win hands down on the resolution battle, but a cinematic image is often thought of as being quite soft - so sharpness goes someway toward accentuating people's view that the GH2 and AF100 are producing quite a 'video-like' image. Technically better but not aesthetically.

I personally prefer the GH2 for most things.
EOSHD: Which is most cinematic? 5D, 60D, GH2, AF100
NotesOnVideoDigitalRevTV Compares Panasonic GH2 to Canon D60

Shane Hurlbut on Redrock Micro
Shane Hurlbut is not a man of small gestures or luke warm opinions, so he's not going to give a casual endorsement. He loves Redrock rigs, and has written up a post extolling their virtues.
HurlbutVisualsRedrock Micro: Battle Tested Rigs, Innovation at an Affordable Price

Canon's Five Year Plan
PhotoRadar reports on Canon's rather vague five-year-plan, though it is noted that in 2011 Canon expects to sell 30 million digital cameras and forecast a 10.6% increase in net sales over 2010
PhotoRadarCanon sets out 5-year strategy

Amazon Studios Changes Script Sharing Options
One of the - several - things that upset people about Amazon Studios when it first appeared was that anyone could upload revisions to a script (a revision doesn't replace an existing script, but it is listed in the script project.)

Now they've added some new options. Scripts collaboration can be set to:
  • Open: Any Amazon Studios participant can freely revise your script and add that revised script to the project.
  • By Permission: Only Amazon Studios participants that obtain your permission by using the "Request permission" button can add a revised script to the project.
  • Closed: Only you can add revised scripts to the project.
You can change the script collaboration settings at any time, though Amazon encourages you to leave the options as open as you feel comfortable. Also, if you set a project to open, and then later change your mind, that does prevent additions, but it won't remove a script that's already been uploaded.
Amazon StudiosSubmitting a script
NotesOnVideoAmazon Studio's gets mixed reviews