Saturday, February 12, 2011

Movie News

Location, Location!
The Movie Locations site attempts to document all the locations that appear in movies. The current list includes some classics like North By Northwest as well as more recent titles like The King's Speech. Locations are indexed by Movie, Actor/Director and Location.
MovieLocations: Movie: NorthByNorthwest

Tax Incentives
If you're looking to make a movie, you've probably already checked in to tax breaks, but watch out; many are under threat:
New Mexico is just one of a number of states reviewing their incentive programs. There, the state's newly elected Gov. Susana Martinez has said she wants to cut that state’s popular tax credit from 25 percent to 15 percent.
TheWrap: Budget Crunch! Hollywood Tax Breaks Under Siege by States

Indie Funding
Crowdfunding seems to be getting a lot of attention right now; KickStarter has got a lot of coverage, but there are other sites like IndieGoGo doing the same thing.

Daniel Skubal is the lead editor at Zacuto (he was editor for the company's Emmy winning “The Great Camera Shootout 2010”) and is working on a movie "Your Milkman." He's currently raised $1,700 of the $9,000 goal, though he says he's going to make the movie no matter how much they raise.

Jason Drew at AP-Red interviewed Daniel for a short article: Indie Filmmakers and Funding Site 'IndieGogo' flirt with 'Your Milkman.'
You can read about the movie (and donate) at IndieGoGo: Your Milkman
Finally, follow Daniel's blog to see how the project goes (and learn some other things as well!): Living in Cine: An IndiePendent Study of the Craft

iTunes #1 is online movies in 2011
Apple remained #1 in 2011 for electronic sell through and internet video on demand, though both Microsoft and Sony gained ground and Walmart is going to make a hard charge.
“The future of the online movie business may come down to competitive battle between Apple and Wal-Mart,” Amel [research director, digital media, for IHS] said. “Although Wal-Mart is not on the charts yet, the company soon will become a major player if its current momentum continues. The company already represents a critical source of revenue for the major Hollywood studios because of its massive sales of Blu-ray and DVD movies—and now is expanding this business into the online realm.”
[Curious and unrelated, at the IHS site, Arash Amel is listed as the author of the post, but is also quoted in the article! -Ed]
IHS: Apple iTunes Remains Dominant in U.S. Online Movies in 2010, Despite Competitors’ Inroads

Canon 5D Mark II for Filmmaking
Mr. Oizo (Quentin Dupieux), music producer and film director, and director of the upcoming movie "Rubber" talks about using the Canon 5D Mark II in an audio interview (with clips from the movie)
"I try a few HD cameras, super-expensive HD, and they're good, they're precise, but they don't have the magic."

Interview with Matthew Libatique
Scott Feinberg interviews Matthew Libatique, a cinematographer who has worked with Darren Aronofsky, Jon Favreau, Spike Lee and Joel Schumacher. (It's an audio interview.)

Creating Documentaries

Another great panel from last years Public Television Quality Group's Boston Quality Workshop was on Creating Documentaries. This panel featured Producer Michael Kirk, Cinematographer Ben McCoy, and Editor Chad Ervin talking about their experiences producing content for PBS's Frontline.

Michael Kirk has been with Frontline since it's inception, and has produced over 55 episodes for the program. Cinematographer Ben McCoy has been working with Michael for almost as long, and is an expert on shooting what Kirk described as "guilty buildings." Editor Chad Ervin joined the group just a few years ago, stepping in to, as Kirk described it, "replace the previous drummer."

Ben McCoy adjusting lighting for an interview

The great thing about this presentation was that there was really three parts to it:

Ben did a live lighting demo, showing how they like to light their subjects using minimal lights; he started with the standard three-point lighting setup, and reduced it down to two lights, adding reflectors and gauze to make the lighting soft. They also like to have the background out of focus, so they set the camera a good distance back from the subject, and then zoom in on the person.

When there are pieces of narration explaining background events, they often build up a visual sequence to illustrate or counter-point the narration. Chad demonstrated a couple of different examples of building up a sequence, starting with the narrative (i.e. how the financial markets collapsed), finding a variety of clips to use (in this case, starting with an aerial view of New York and cutting to the stock exchange floor), then layering in the narration, music, and multiple layers of sound effects (sirens and rattle snakes are particularly effective for creating tension!) In one sequence there were fifteen different layers of sounds.

Michael Kirk

Just as interesting was Kirk's description of the process of producing an episode. The following are some quotes:
We [produce the shows] with all the resources available to us, considering the following facts: Frontline usually assigns us films in Washington and New York, two of the most hideous places in the world to work; you’ve seen one building you’ve seen them all, except when Ben gets done with them.
They are also films about people who don’t want to talk to us in any way. Dick Cheney never answers my phone calls.

[on shooting interviews] We try to get everybody to look the same; the people we like, the people we don’t like. We like them to be really warm, we like them to be friendly looking, we like the background to not be a background, and we like to be able to Avid push-in at critical moments, so we’re shooting at a high enough light level that everything doesn’t deteriorate.

I push on every interview inside the film; we’re [doing] a 20% Avid zoom on everybody so that the film will feel inexorable. You don’t know it, but every shot has a little bit of a push on it. It drives the people in post who have to build our shows crazy because the renders are amazing on an hour or a two hour film.

I don’t like cuts and I don’t like dissolves. In our editing room we operate under the adage, if you can’t solve it, dissolve it. So we don’t dissolve because we think we can solve it one way or the other.

We cut fairly fast for hour long and two hour long documentaries. We cut for about eight weeks. A week or two of it is ingesting, there’s two weeks afterwards which is post, but we’re trying to get the rough cut in about six weeks and fine cut a week later.

I’m always stunned that more television documentary makers don’t use black and white photos. I understand that they’re expensive, but with what you can do in After Effects and the way you can move inside the Avid, and the colors you can create and the intimacy and especially if you’re doing a narrated film, my god, the idea that you’re not watching a piece of B-roll or watching a guy walk down a hall, but you’re seeing the Presdient angry or lively, and you re hearing about him as you’re pushing into his eyes and face. We did it for the first time in 2000 in a film we did for ABC news called The Clinton Years, and they had all the photographs for free from Clinton’s photographer, and I sat there and I said, “all the rest of my life I’m going to use this as a tool.”

I always tell people we interview; "I'm here to make a commercial about you and your position. We light you the best you've ever been lit," but I also say, "what you need to know is that I'm also going to do that for your opponent. I'm here to make a commercial for your ideas and their ideas and put them in conflict with each other so that the audience can decide. And the thing you need to know," and I say this to everybody, "your opponent on this issue was very good yesterday. It's important that you're as good."
The other thing that I tell them is that "I promise you that you may not like what we do, but I'll make this promise to you," I did it with Jack Kevorkian, I've done it with lots of people, I've said, "I'll come to your house, and watch the film the night that it airs, and if you don't like it, you can punch me in the nose," and he's the only one that every really wanted to.

At the end, someone asked what drives you to do this?
We're unemployable in any other field
- Chad

QGPT: Quality Group Public Television

NotesOnVideoMark Schubin @ The Boston Quality Workshop
NotesOnVideo: The 24p debate: Part I and Part II

3D News

Active 3D Glasses vs. Passive
Panasonic UK's product specialist for consumer products, Steve Lucas, talked to Pocket-Lint about three-dimensional TV and explains why active glasses are better than passive:
There will always be the type of home cinema buff who wants the ultimate viewing experience and active shutter system is the only technlogy that can offer that at the moment. It's right to have the choice available so that they can step into 3D at a level that suits their pocket. But, to have the best picture quality does require the active glasses which have a lot of technology in them. There's currently no other option for getting full HD to each eye
Pocket-lint: Panasonic: Active 3D better than passive

Panasonic HDC-SD90 and WW-CLT1 3D review
The T3 blog has a short review of the HDC-SD90, and mentions using it with the WW-CLT1 3D lens, a real budget solution:
Connecting the 3D lens to the camcorder does take a bit of getting used to. You have to add a lens ring (which comes with the lens), then bolt the 3D lens on to this. The lens is actually a tad heavier than the camcorder it's connected to so, which makes the whole thing top heavy, but you get used to this once you have shot some footage with the device.
T3: Panasonic HDC-SD90 review
Amazon: Panasonic HDC-SD90K 3D Compatible SD Memory Camcorder (Black) [$549.00 pre-order]

3D Channel on DirecTV starts Sunday
3Net , the 3D channel from Sony, Discovery and IMAX will launch this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, starting with "China Revealed."
TelevisionBroadcast: 3Net to Launch Sunday on DirecTV

ESPN 3D launches Feb 14, 2011

Wim Wenders 3D Art Film
Wim Wenders has made a 3D documentary about the German choreographer Pina Bausch. He said that for many years he struggled for a way to convey the space, of dance until he saw the digital concert film U2 3D in 2006. Even then, the "early" 3D had problems;
In 2006, the best 3D cameras still had difficulty capturing rapid motion. There was a shuttering effect: A dancer running across the stage would suddenly seem to have three legs or four arms.
But after four years, the technology had advanced to the point where it would work.
"3D really thrives on space -- the 3D camera loves infinity, the horizon," Wenders says. "It's a shame the 3D most people have seen wasn't shot in the real world but in the studios because it's in the real world where 3D really comes into its own."
HollywoodReporterWim Wenders Creates World's First 3D Art Film

Friday, February 11, 2011

Canon XA10 Manual

Canon has posted the manual for the upcoming XA10. The camera itself is not expected to be available until March.

The XA10 shares much in common with the high-end consumer camera, the VIXIA HF G10 [$1,499.00] which was announced at the same time at the XA10. The most notable difference between the two is that the XA10 comes with a detachable handle that includes XLR inputs.

The camcorder's native 1920 x 1080 CMOS sensor records 60i, 24p, PF30, and PF24 frame rates with a 10x HD video lens with an 8-blade iris (sensitivity to f/1.8) and a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 30.4mm-304mm. Other features include dual relay recording, waveform, color peaking, and zebra patterns.

Canon: XA10 Product Page section Brochures & Manuals
Canon: XA10 Instruction Manual [PDF] 11.5MB [Click above link, then click the Brochures & Manuals section to access the Instruction Manual]
Amazon: Canon XA10 Professional Camcorder with 64GB Internal Flash Memory and Full Manual Control [$1,999.00]

UPDATED: Corrected instructions for getting the Instruction Manual

Dashwood 3D Tools

Dashwood Cinema Solutions, a developer of 3D software solutions, will be unveiling three new Mac-based stereoscopic 3D products at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention, held in Las Vegas, NV from April 11-14.

Stereo3D CAT – Fast and Flawless Camera Alignment & Analysis
An on-location software calibration and analysis system that simplifies the calibration of left and right eye cameras. Equipped with a unique eyestrain warning system, Stereo3D CAT scans 3D footage and calculates the correct camera alignment points. Feedback guides illustrate the depth of the 3D shot and provide directors and cinematographers with a visual aide for making convergence adjustments and proper interaxial separation.
Feature Highlights:
  • Supports all 3D single or dual input and output modes, flip/flop left and/or right eye orientation, automatic or manual (with the new Dashwood 3D chart) disparity correction, and HIT convergence adjustment with automatic scaling
  • Eyestrain warning system with histogram for comparison of left/right eyes

The Dashwood 3D Chart - stereoscopic chart
Developed in conjunction with DSC Labs, the Dashwood 3D Chart is a stereoscopic chart that automates the display of accurate 3D rig calibration. When integrated with Stereo3D CAT or Stereo3D Toolbox v3, the chart's unique visual code trackers work alongside the applications to automatically track to 1/1,000 of a pixel for ideal stereo alignment. The chart also offers an interface for live feedback to assist in automating camera alignment, sync testing and slating, and color and gamma calibration. For those aligning manually, the Dashwood 3D Chart offers a brand new manual pattern alignment that features DSC Labs' patented FiddleHead spirals for corner-to-corner focus.

Stereo3D Toolbox v2.0

Stereo3D Toolbox™ v3.0 – Flagship 3D Mastering
Utilized by post-production houses around the world for professional stereoscopic 3D mastering on the Mac platform, Stereo3D Toolbox outputs media to a wide range of stereoscopic 3D formats and manages the demuxing of side by side, interlace and over/under formatting. Stereo3D Toolbox's stereoscopic mastering capabilities include sub-pixel precision, pixel-precise straight or angled floating windows, high-contrast "ghost toasting," preview tools, fine control of image exposure and color balance, 2D+Z-Depth to stereoscopic conversion, and more. Additional features of Stereo3D Toolbox v3.0 will be revealed just in time for NAB.

Dashwood Stereo3D Utilities
These newly developed tools support ingest of 3D material from new cameras on the market and output of stereoscopic files to monitors and recording devices.

Dashwood Cinema Solutions

Hardware Reviews

Panasonic AG-AF100 / AG-AF101
Peter Lundström at the editman blog has published his thoughts on using the AG-AF101, and compares it to the images you can get shooting with Canon DSLRs. He notes that he's having problems with getting the color right:
You must be extremely careful when selecting colour temperature. Having white anything other than spot on and exposure higher than 85% will make yellow/orange to clip. It's one ugly clipping so you must avoid it no matter what. Blue, red and green are not as sensitive but watch out for yellow and orange. Under daylight balanced bulbs clipping is not bad. It clips but really nothing ugly about it. It's under tungsten one can run into problems. 
In his latest post, he suspects that in bright sunlight, more ND (neutral density) might be the solution.
theeditmanGetting to know the AF101
B & H: Panasonic AG-AF100

Playing with the Phantom Flex
Tom Guilmette went to Las Vegas to shoot a Ping Pong tournament, and had with him a Phantom High Speed Digital Cinema. He put together some amazing footage shot at - in some cases - 2,564 frames per second. It's a very expensive camera, but you can rent it!
The most surprising thing about the new Flex camera is its light sensitivity and native noiseless 1000 ISO. Dave and I were able to record 600 FPS under Rule office fluorescent ceiling lights! The picture was not perfectly exposed, but we were making flicker-free images at that insane frame rate. If you are not familiar with high speed, a ton of light is needed and flicker is almost always a problem. But this camera is the most sensitive yet. The new Flex is “simply magic”.

Kessler Slider Review
Sebastian Wiegärtner reviews the Kessler Crane Pocket Dolly 2.0 and prefers it over the Glidetrack HD and Igus sliders. He does note that it's expensive, but seems to think it's worth it.
On a side note, it's interesting that he personally doesn't think a 3 foot long track is really necessary for a slider, and actually causes more problems; it's difficult to support on one tripod.
The Kessler Pocket Dolly 2.0 has a ball bearing wheel design and gives it a great fluid feel. It has also a custom CNC machined firm rail to reduce or eliminate flex. If you would compare this dolly with an IGUS components slider you would feel the difference! Today I’m using the Pocket Dolly for nearly every shoot. 
Note: Kessler Crane donated to a Facebook promotion that Sebastian ran.
Kessler CranePocket Dolly™ v2.0
B & H GlideTrack HD
Igus: Linear guides for camera sliders

DitoGear Slider
And if you're interested in a motion-control slider, you might want to check out the DitoGear DryEye kit. EOSHD has an interview with Patryk Kizny of DitoGear, to reveal the origins of DitoGear and what's in store in terms of future products.
EOSHDEOSHD DitoGear Interview - the story behind the sliders

Sony PMW-F3 & Rogue Lens Sample Video
Nigel Akam has posted to Vimeo a sample video shot with the PMW-F3 in use with the incredibly expensive Angenieux Optimo DP Rouge 30-80 mm Zoom lens.
VimeoRouge - Sony F3
B & HAngenieux Optimo DP Rouge 30-80mm Zoom Lens with PL Mount [$20,499.95]

Panasonic GH2 Review
An extensive review of the Panasonic GH2 - with video - is posted at CameraLabs. The GH2 has gotten a lot of interest for it's video capabilities; one thing it seems to do better than Canon's DSLRs is handle very fine details in video. Even better; the video's are shot in Queenstown, New Zealand!
...but the icing on the cake for pros is the ability to output a clean 1080i output over HDMI while recording video; this is very useful when connecting and composing with an external monitor. Most DSLRs and hybrid cameras may output 1080i over HDMI in Live View, but scatter it with icons and downgrade the feed to standard definition as soon as you start recording. Not so with the GH2 which can drive external monitors with a nice, clean 1080i image, while recording, and even maintain a duplicate image on the camera's own screen if desired; you could even have icons and level meters on the latter while keeping the HDMI output clean.
Unfortunately, one downside: it's very hard to get at the moment.
CamerlabsPanasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 review
Amazon: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 16.05 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-inch Free-Angle Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Hybrid Lens (Black)

Okii USB Follow Focus Controller Demo
The Okii USB Follow Focus Controller is a remote control that works with Canon DSLRs and can be used to control focus (on auto-focus lenses.) The 5D Mark II Team website has been in contact with the developed of this device, and have posted a sample video showing the unit in operation.
VimeoVideo Test 4 - Okii USB Follow Focus Controller
5DMarkII TeamUSB Follow Focus Controller PRE-ORDERS

Supplemental PMW-F3 Manual

In addition to the User Manual (previously mentioned) there is also a Supplemental User Manual for the Sony PMW-F3K (camera plus three prime lenses) & PMW-F3L (camera only). Both can be found here (click the Resources Tab):
Sony: Product PMWF3L

B & H: PMW-F3K Super 35mm With 35mm, 50mm & 85mm [$18,950.00]
B & H: PMW-F3L Super 35mm  Body Only [$13,300.00]

Upcoming Events

This event will be held at the Apple Store, Boylston St, Boston and will feature colorist Alexis Van Hurkman who will present an overview of DaVinci Resolve on Mac OS X.
NotesOnVideo: BOSFCPUG + BOSDSLR Mixer; Feb 17th

Sony CineAlta Production Group, meeting March 1st New York City
The CineAlta Production Group meetings are organized and hosted by Sony's CineAlta Production Team, and are free and open to the public. They request that you RSVP.

Location: Sony Wonder Technology Lab, HD Theater, 550 Madison Avenue, Annex ANew York, NY 10022
Date/Time:Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 7:00pm – 9:00pm

  • Large Sensor Cameras. What is in it for you? How do they compare to HDSLRs?
    Juan Martinez, Senior Product Manager at Sony Electronics is currently working on the NXCAM Super 35mm camcorder and will describe the core technology of Large Sensor technology for motion picture acquisition and how it benefits you, and how this compares to HDSLR’s.
  • Ray Bribiesca B and his experiences shooting around the world
    Emmy and Peabody Award winner Raymond A. Bribiesca has been in the News business for 46 years, recently retiring from 60 Minutes and CBS News after 30 years. He’s worked with every format, from Film to Video Tape to File Based. Ray will share his experience in bringing back outstanding footage from the field under a wide variety of conditions. He’ll share his approach and methods in solving challenging shooting situations in the field. Ray will also bring clips to highlight these topics.
  • XDCAM Workflow platform, latest developments 
Sony hasn't really been saying much about the upcoming NXCAM 35mm camera, but March 1st is getting closer to NAB, and maybe they will be ready to divulge some more details by then....we can only hope!
SonySony CineAlta Production Group, meeting March 1st New York City

Createasphere/EXPLORE Entertainment Technology Exposition
March 3, 2011 | Universal Hilton | Universal Sity CA
The March Entertainment Technology Exposition (formerly known as HD EXPO) is for the production and content creation community and brings together exhibitors, sponsors, attendees and industry supporters.

Some notable events:

DIY Day in New York, Mar 5, 2011
DIY DAYS is a roving conference for those who create. Past stops have included Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia. FREE to participants and organized by volunteers - DIY DAYS is about the accessibility of ideas, resources and networking that can enable storytellers to fund, create, distribute and sustain.
DIY DAYS: Website
DIY DAYS: Register at EventBrite

EditShare Events
EditShare - developers of the Lightworks NLE - have a page listing events they will be at all around the globe this year.
EditShareUpcoming Events

Sony PMW-F3 Manual

Sony has released a PDF version of the 150 page user manual for the PMW-F3K & PMW-F3L

Sony: PMW-F3 Manual [PDF]

Update: There is also a supplemental manual: PMWF3 Supplemental Operating Instructions [PDF]

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Sale

Five Day, 20% off Sale on 8 Magic Bullet Products
Red Giant is having a five day sale on eight of their products.
  • Magic Bullet Colorista: Powerful, professional color correction right where you want it. $239.20 (Regularly $299) 
  • Magic Bullet Denoiser: State-of-the-art video noise reduction, out of the box. $79.20 (Regularly $99)
  • Magic Bullet Frames: Give interlaced video the look of 24p film. $159.20 (Regularly $199)
  • Magic Bullet Grinder: Get video out of your DSLR and into Final Cut Pro, fast! $39.20 (Regularly $49)  
  • Magic Bullet Instant HD: Crystal clear HD with one click. Now includes Resizer. $79.20 (Regularly $99) 
  • Magic Bullet Looks: Set the mood on any timeline. $319.20 (Regularly $399)
  • Magic Bullet Mojo: The look of a modern Hollywood blockbuster in seconds. $79.20 (Regularly $99) 
  • Magic Bullet PhotoLooks: Your photo is worth a thousand looks -- now available for Photoshop, Aperture and Lightroom. $159.20 (Regularly $199)
RedGiant: Five Days To Save

0 Down, 0% for 24 months on Panasonic AG-3DA1
Interested in 3D? Panasonic's AG-3DA1 - the $21,000 3D camera - has a special promotion running through March 31st 2011; buy from Panasonic and pay $0 down, 0 payments for 6 months and 0% interest for 24 months.
Panasonic: AG-3DA1

Unusual Shooting

360 Degree Video 
Ryan Jackson, Photojournalist at the Edmonton Journal, used four GoPro cameras to shoot a 360 degree panorama of a giant dodgeball game. It's pretty cool...

Even better, in his blog he explains the step-by-step process;
The short version of this story is that I shot with four GoPros, extracted still images from video, stitched the stills together into panoramas then recombined them back into video.
For the much more detailed and nerdy answer read on….
Read it to find out what software he used, and how many hours - and gigbytes - of data it took to produce!
RyanJacksonPhotography: Shooting 360-degree video with four GoPro HD Hero cameras

Shooting 3D Underwater
Want to shoot 3D underwater? Element Technica, manufacturer of 3D rigs says that its Technica 3D Neutron rig, mounted with Silicon Imaging SI-2K cameras, can now be enclosed in apurpose-built Neutron BORG 3D underwater housing system from HydroFlex. You can see a picture of it in the news report below...
Or you could buy four waterproof GoPros and make a 360 degree movie instead!
StudioDaily: Underwater 3D a Reality with Element Technica Neutron and BORG Underwater Housing

Sony PMW-F3 Shipping - in Europe

Sony Professional Europe just posted to their Facebook page that
The wait is over! The PMW-F3 is now shipping and will be available at your local Sony dealer soon!
No word on US availability...!

News From Here & There

JVC Blog
The Pro division of JVC has started a blog series with a "Countdown to NAB." The first article covers live HD ENG operations and wonders if 4G broadband wireless will replace microwave.
ProJVCNEW Live HD ENG backhaul technology as early as 2011?

Steadicam Merlin Review
El Skid explains why he doesn't like using the Steadicam Merlin with a DSLR, and instead prefers the cheaper Glidecam:
Now, I have had some good results with the Merlin, but I finally had to concede last night that it’s simply not very good for DSLRs and I would advise against buying one for that purpose. I will add that I tried a Canon XHA1 (which features a locking pin to keep the camera set on the stage) and it worked beautifully, really well. For DSLR stabiliser uses I have to say the Glidecam is the one to get.
B & HGlidecam HD2000 Stabilizer System [$449.95]

12 Photographers - 2 Questions
John Early asked 12 photographers the same two questions:
  1. What is the worst moment or time in your photo career and what did you learn from it?
  2. What is the best moment or time in your photo career and what did you learn from it?
The answers apple to anyone working in creative industries.

Top Ten Rental Cameras in the UK
Televisual polled 26 hire companies for their five most used cameras and the percentage of usage of each. This information was then assembled to create a Top Ten list of cameras. There were more than 20 different cameras vying for a place in the top 10.

Eight of the cameras in the top ten are Sony's (and interestingly the number one camera - the tape-based Sony HDW-790P - is actually discontinued!) Two lower-priced file-based cameras, the Sony PMW-EX3 and Sony PMW-EX1R came in at #2 and #8 respectively. The RED One came in at #6 (down from #3 last year) and the Canon 5D came in at #9.

Companies were also asked what they were planning to invest in this year, and from those results there's some expectation that the Arri Alexa, Canon XF-305, Sony PMW-F3 and Panasonic AG-AF101 could make a big impact on next year's numbers.
Televisual: The Top Ten Rental Camera

mocha AE v2.5 upgrade for $99
For the month of February you can upgrade to mocha AE v2.5 for only $99. mocha AE is a stand alone tracking and roto tool now updated to support both After Effects and Final Cut users. To qualify for upgrade pricing, customer must own a valid license of any Imagineer product.
ImagineerSystemsmocha AE upgrade only $99

mocha AE v2.5 from Ross Shain on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Canon T3i; it's not THAT bad

The announcement on Monday of the new Canon T3i was greeted with disinterest bordering on distain by the DSLR video shooting community. What was new in this update to distinguish it from the T2i, which was announced almost exactly a year ago on February 8, 2010? Was this just a firmware upgrade in the guise of a new camera as one poster suggested?

From the video shooter's perspective, the T3i doesn't look like much of an improvement over the T2i. It seems to have the same chip and image processor as the T2i, so while they've tweaked the auto modes, and added creative filters, we shouldn't expect any real image difference.

One area where all Canon DSLRs suffer is in moire when capturing fine patterns. This happens because of the sampling the processor does when quickly scaling the image from the large 18 MP chip down to 1920 x 1080. For this reason, one new feature - a digital zoom - looked promising; perhaps the camera doesn't have to do as much data manipulation to produce the final image, which may remove or reduce the moire.

Unfortunately, initial study of sample clips suggests that the digital scale doesn't reduce the moire.

But before we obsess too much about that, lets not forget that many people think the video quality of the Canon DSLRs right now is perfectly acceptable. People are shooting TV shows with them! And adding a digital zoom - providing it doesn't actually diminish the quality - isn't a bad thing.

Perhaps best of all, the T3i adds the tilt/swivel screen that first appeared on the 60D. That, for me, makes the T3i update worthwhile. I can't also help but think that this will cannibalize some 60D sales - that tilt screen is especially useful for those shooting video, and was a reason for picking the 60D over the T2i - but that's Canon's problem, not mine!

In truth, perhaps the reason it was panned is because many are really waiting for a "5D Mark III," and hoping it improves image quality and does a few other things like full HD out the HDMI port. But the T3i isn't a terrible beast; for the swivel screen alone I'd recommend it over the T2i if you were thinking about buying one.

The T3 / 1100D
At the same time as they announced the T3i, Canon also updated the Rebel XS / 1000D with the T3 / 1100D. This update adds several features over the XS, but the most notable is HD 720p video recording. There's no tilting LCD as on the T3i, but you'll save $200.

I'd spend the money.

For video use, the tilt screen alone would be worth it. And though 720p is not bad for many applications - and most of my projects get posted at 720p anyway - having a higher resolution 1080p image gives you the opportunity to zoom in a little on the final clip while editing. So I'd get the T3i.

B & HCanon EOS Rebel T3 Digital Camera Kit [$599.00]
Amazon: Canon EOS Rebel T3 12.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with 18-55mm IS II Lens and EOS HD Movie Mode (Black) [$599.00]
B & HCanon EOS Rebel T3i Digital Camera (Body Only) [$799.00]
Amazon: Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera and DIGIC 4 Imaging (Body Only) [$799.00]

News From Here & There

Panasonic AG-AF100 Good, Bad & Ugly
Art Adams at ProVideoCoaltion writes about his experiences with the AG-AF100 on a recent shoot. In generally he likes it - particularly the video camera features not found in DSLRs - though has some problems with how it handles clipped highlights, color and noise.
The AF-100 has a lot of potential, and I’d definitely go with it when the alternative is an HDSLR. Its layout and controls are familiar and it’s designed to do what it does, so it’s much faster and easier to program, judge focus and expose than an HDSLR. It also doesn’t moire like an HDSLR will.

On the negative side, though, it’s still basically an HVX-200 with a larger sensor. It clips roughly the same way, which is not a good look in a large sensor camera, and it’s noisy too. The odd thing about the noise, though, is that it’s consistent throughout the exposure range: there’s no discernible change in noise between EI 200 and EI 800, and the exposure latitude doesn’t seem to be affected either.
ProVideoCoaltionPanasonic AF-100: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Shooting With the AG-AF100
The Collaborative+Film project is shooting "Snow Guardian," a documentary about ski patrols in the Rocky Mountains. They're planning to use Canon DSLRs and the AF100.

F9Photo, one of the shooters on the project, has already blogged about using the AF100 with a SmallHD DP6 monitor and a Canon 16-35mm L lens. He's also Tweeted a picture of using the AF100 and a Nanoflash "at altitude."
Collaborative+FilmSnow Gaurdian Documentary Preparation
F9Photo: Quick test of AF100 with SmallHD DP6 HDMI w Canon Lens Mount
yfrog: Real world use of the Panasonic AF100 and NanoFlash at altitude
B & H: Panasonic AG-AF100
B & H: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Autofocus Lens

Sony E-mount Lens Roadmap
SonyRumors points out the E-mount roadmap that Sony has published for 2011 and 2012. Interestingly, this year it includes 24mm from Carl Zeiss, as well as a telephoto zoom 55-200mm, a macro 30mm and a portrait 50mm. Three additional lenses are hinted at for 2012.
SonyRumors(Continually updated) HOT! A77 and new E-mount lens roadmap!!! + Sigma 30mm for NEX!

D|Matte Delayed
The D|Matte, a budget matte-box that was expected sometime in mid-February, has been delayed. The developer now thinks it will be mid-April.
NotesOnVideo: News From Here & There

Marshall's Monitor with HDMI Loop-through
Vincent Laforet is excited about the new monitor from Marshall which includes HDMI loop-through (allowing you to connect another monitor.)
VincentLaforet: New Marshall Monitor with HDMI loop-through and DSLR Ratio Adjustment

[Update: changed date for D|Matte to mid-April]

Software News

Free Image Animation Filter for Final Cut and After Effects
Industrial Revolution has released a free iTunes-style Slideshow Generator plug-in for Final Cut Studio and After Effects.

Features: Load, reorder and rename the files using the built in file browser. Select the depth of the stack, the number, the angle and even the depth of field of the display. Add round corners, soft edges and even a travelling gloss to highlight edges. Display with square or round corners, make them soft or use your own mask. Use the full XYZ camera movement & rotation to fly around the stack whilst animating. Choose the auto-animation feature or manual keyframe control to jump forward or backwards to any image in the stack.
IndistrialRevolution: CoverFlux2

Flash Player 10.2
Adobe has released Flash Player 10.2. This official release adds Stage Video support:

Stage Video lets websites take advantage of full hardware acceleration of the entire video pipeline. This builds on the H.264 hardware accelerated decoding in Flash Player 10.1. Stage Video hardware acceleration means that Flash Player can play even higher quality video while using dramatically less processing power, giving users a better experience, greater performance, and longer battery life. In our testing across supported systems, we've found it's up to 34 times more efficient.

Put another way, Flash Player using Stage Video can effortlessly play beautiful 1080p HD video with just 1-15% CPU usage on a common Mac or Windows computer* – working across platforms and browsers, it will enable the best video experience for the most people. Websites and content providers will need to update their video players before users experience Stage Video playback with Flash Player 10.2 on their sites.

With this release Adobe discontinues of support for PowerPC-based Macs and Microsoft's Windows 2000.
EngadgetFlash Player 10.2 sheds beta label, improves efficiency with Stage Video playback

Creating HDR Time-lapse Video
Mike Curtis at MacWorld takes you through creating HDR time-lapse video using a still camera. While there's some camera setup and operation tips, all the software covered is Macintosh specific.
MacWorldCreate HDR time-lapse video with a digital camera

Mike's 10-25-2010 HDR timelapse reel from Mike Curtis on Vimeo.

Movie News

"The Social Network" Making of Documentary on IMDB
You can watch the entire 90-minute Making-of documentary for The Social Network at IMDB for free.
IMDBThe Social Network Behind The Scenes Documentary: Part One - Commencement

Interview with Wally Pfister
Inception cinematographer Wally Pfister talked to DP/30 about his career, how he got his start in movies, shooting IMAX and large formats, being a film holdout, the film making process, and the surprising lack of CG pieces in Inception.
YouTubeDP/30: Inception, cinematographer Wally Pfister

Visual Effects

"Black Swan" FX Reel
A short clip shows how digital effects were used in the movie.
SlashfilmWatch a Demo Reel of Effects From Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Black Swan’

Magic Bullet and "The Fighter"
Red Giant Software talks to Josh Comen (visual effects producer) and Tim Carras (visual effects supervisor) at Comen VFX about how they used Magic Bullet Frames to de-interlace 60i footage to 24p for the movie The Fighter.
RedGiantMagic Bullet and “The Fighter”


Scriptwriting Tips
Elliot Grove founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in 2007. He provides 10 tips for filmmakers:
5. Being seduced by dialogue
No one can fix a script by rewriting dialogue. Dialogue is the glitter on the surface of a story. Delve deep into the story and assess the storyline weaknesses and focus on reforming these essential elements before moving on to a dialogue rewrite.
Raindance.UK: Things Filmmakers Should Know About Screenwriting But Usually Don't

More Scriptwriting Tips
Joss Whedon, creator/writer/director of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the TV series Firefly, and who worked as a script doctor on movies including Speed and Toy Story, also has a list of tips. Danny Stack reprints them in his blog:
Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years.
dannystack.blogspotJoss Whedon's Top 10 Writing Tips

Watching Movies

Watching Movies on your Computer
I guess it's been around for a while, but I only just encountered Crackle, a website that let's you watch movies and television programs on your computer...for free. Movies include Dr. Strangelove, Fail Safe, Philadelphia and Ghostbusters II. Limited selection, resolution - for the movie I tried - was only 480p and 360p, and there are ads inserted in the movie, but it's free!

Watching Movies on your iPhone
David Lynch doesn't think you should be watching movies on your iPhone because you don't get the entire experience. But he says it a little more colorfully.
YouTubeDavid Lynch on iPhone [Rated R for language]

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Hardware & Software News

Zacuto EVF Information
Zacuto continues to update information about their upcoming EVF (Electronic Viewfinder.) They've now added a "Z-FinderEVF Pro" model to the existing three configurations they had previously announced. The Z-FinderEVF Pro combines the EVF Flip-Up model already announced, with a Z-Finder.

This makes the product line a little more understandable: The EVF is available as two different models, one with a flip-up frame and the other without, and then you can buy both models with an included Z-Finder.
Zacuto: Z-FinderEVF

The Sony E-Mount Announcement
Sony's official announcement about the release of basic specifications for the "E-mount" includes the "endorsement" of the following companies: Carl Zeiss, Cosina, Sigma, and Tamron.
SonySony Discloses Basic Specifications of the "E-mount" for Interchangeable Single Lens Cameras without Fee

Varavon DSLR Loupes and Rigs
DSLRNewsShooter has some pics of DSLR Loupes and Rigs from South Korean maker Varavon.

Sony Bloggie Mac Software Review
Sony just released the Mac Software for their Bloggie cameras last week, and Sony Rumors has a review:
...if you are using your Bloggie to take photos and videos for yourself and are not intending on sharing them with others, then stick to iMovie and iPhoto. However, if you are big on the social and media networks and want to easily share your photos and videos with others, Sony has made a compelling software that is both easy to use for those new to the Bloggie, the Mac, or computers in general while being extremely streamlined and elegant for those of us with a little more computer knowhow.
SonyRumorsBloggie Touch Software Comes to Mac OS X, We Provide Install Video and Review

Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 4
I just broke down and ordered the Smoothee for iPhone 4 through Amazon. They are out of stock, but say it will ship by February 12th....
Amazon: Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 4

BOSFCPUG + BOSDSLR Mixer; Feb 17th

The next Boston Final Cut Pro User Group & Boston DSLR Meetup Group Mixer will be held on February 17th at the Apple Store, Boston. If you're in the Boston area, these events have proved to be informative, great for networking, and often have great pizza!

COST: Free Admission with Registration PRIOR to Event

Peter Price, AJA Video Systems: "From Flash to Post" Interactive Workflow with KiPro Mini

Alexis Van Hurkman, Colorist: "Why Resolve?"
Alexis Van Hurkman, colorist and author of "Color Correction Handbook: Professional Techniques for Video and Cinema," will present an overview of DaVinci Resolve on Mac OS X, from project ingest through grading and output, discussing both project workflow and grading technique.


[UPDATED 2/10: Added location, deleted note about possible change in date]

Gale Tattersall

Gale Tattersall is DP for the TV series House, and - in case you missed it - last year they shot the entire last episode of the season using Canon DSLRs. Gale is now a big advocate for DSLRs:
So many advantages such as tighter eye lines because you can fit several 5D's into the same space as one or two conventional cameras. Cool options such as using electric lightweight helicopters that can get you stunning aireal shots at a fraction of the price. The ability to get into the tightest corners and spaces, and a million other applications. Not to mention the fact that with these small lightweight cameras our setups and turn-arounds are done at twice or three times the speed as when we use standard 35mm cameras.
EOSHD has just posted an interview with Gale about using DSLRs in TV and film production.
EOSHD: Interview with House Director of Photography Gale Tattersall

Gale and HD DSLR Workshops is offering a series of three-day workshops in LA this year using digital cameras. The workshops cost $1,200, (i.e. $400 a day).
  • February 13, 20, & 27
  • March 13, 20, & 27
  • April 10, 17, & 24
At the HD DSLR Workshops we inspire as well as educate. Our students leave with new tools and the vision to use those tools. This is accomplished by instructing techniques and practices that will help the students to navigate real world situations rather than idealized, insulated scenarios. The workshops take place over three consecutive Sundays of each month, allowing for gradual absorption and retention of the curriculum. The weeks between classes give the students time for questioning and testing of the techniques learned.
HD DSLR Workshops

HD DSLR Workshops Promo Video from Gale Tattersall on Vimeo.

Cheeseplate Dolly
HD DSLR Workshops has also posted to their Vimeo account a short demo of a "cheeseplate dolly" from Modern Studio Equipment.
Modern Studio Equipment
VimeoJordan Balderas of HD DSLR Workshops Reviews The Modern Studio Equipment Slider

News From Here & There

Zeiss CP.2 Lenses
Richard Schleuning of Zeiss explains why being one of the last companies making a manual focus prime lens has it's advantages in video shooting.
DigitalRevolutionMediaZeiss CP.2 Compact Primes: An Interview with Richard Schleuning

Adobe Creative Suite 5 tips and tricks Free eBook PDF
Adobe has a 47 page free PDF that contains tips and tricks for exploring the creative possibilities of DSLR video editing with Adobe Creative Suite 5 software. The paper provides tips and tricks for navigating Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, Photoshop CS5, PhotoshopCS5 Extended, After Effects CS5, and other CS5 components to help you along the way.
Adobe: Adobe Creative Suite 5 tips and tricks [PDF]

Interview with Director of Photography: Vangelis Katritzidakis
Momentum Blog publishes an interview with Katritzidakis, who was DP for the Greek TV series The Island. The interview focuses on how he achieved the look he wanted using a combination of lighting and camera. They shot on the Sony EX-3 [$8,320], a smaller chip camera; to achieve the shallow depth of field they used a Letus 35 Pro prism.
MomentumBlogVangelis Katritzidakis Interview

RED Epic Unboxing and Assembly Videos
See the unboxing and assembly of the RED Epic camera.
FreshDVRED Epic Unboxing and Assembly Videos

Zip Tie Focus Rings
With follow-focus units, one of the unexpected costs can be the gear rings for the lenses themselves. HalfInchRails have produced a teaser video for Zip Tie Focus Rings which they promise will be 1/4 the typical cost of these things.

For those willing to experiment, they have an introductory offer of four for £20:
HalfInchRails: Beta Roll Out of the Product - Zip Tie Focus Gears

HIR Zip Tie Focus Gear from Sam Morgan Moore on Vimeo.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Sony to make E-mount specifications available

DPReview reports that Sony says it will make the "basic specifications" for the E-mount available for free to lens manufacturers and lens mount adaptors this April.

Sony hasn't said what the specs extend to, but this announcement makes me even more optimistic that this means Zeiss will support the E-mount in the future (as I speculated wildly when Zeiss recently talked about future lens mounts during a presentation at Rule.)
DPReviewSony to disclose E-mount specifications

NotesOnVideo: Zeiss Lens @ Rule Boston Camera

Steadicam Smoothee is Shipping for iPhone 4

Tiffen just sent out an announcement that the Steadicam Smoothee for the iPhone 4 is shipping, and the one for the iPhone 3Gs will be out shortly. The Smoothee is a low-cost - $180 - Steadicam for small cameras, and I have to admit that I'm curious to see how well it performs.

B & H actually lists both iPhone models in stock, while Amazon says they are temporarily out of stock.

B & H also lists Smoothee for the Flip, as well as different mounts (that let you switch between the iPhone and Flip) but there's no delivery date for those yet.

B & HSteadicam Smoothee for iPhone 4 [$179.95]
B & HSteadicam Smoothee for iPhone 3GS [$179.95]
B & HSteadicam Flip Ultra Smoothee Mount  [$24.95] - not yet shipping

This sample video was shot using the Smoothee:
Camera operator Michael Craigs is seen shooting with an iPhone 3Gs. The camera watching him shoot is an iPhone 4. 

Final Cut Pro Tips

Applying Filters to Part of a Clip
This great tip from Scott Simmons at the ProVideoCoalition shows you how to apply a filter to part of a clip, and then adjust the part of the clip that it's applied to. Great tip!
EDITBLOGQuicktips 2011 Day 07: changing FCP filters lengths partially applied to a clip

Rob Imbs Final Cut Pro QuickTips
Rob has put together an interesting QuickTip on Final Cut Pro.
VimeoFCP Quick Tips - episode #183

Another Editing Tip
I should note that I watched all of Rob's tip movie (above) going "Huh?" and "What?!" and then deciding "this isn't correct, or useful to anyone" before I got to the end and realized it was a joke!
BUT, this tutorial at IncredibleTutorials is actually an article that goes into pre-production planning for editing a Final Cut Pro project. Talk First, Shoot Later; good advice for any editor.
IncredibleTutorialsFinal Cut Pro Editing Starts Before the Shooting Stops – Tips to First Time

News From Here & There

Still fighting the 3D Wars
Walter Murch's (and Roger Ebert's) dismissal of 3D has not gone unanswered, and I have posted a few links to some of the pro-crowd, but here's just one more Frank Capria.
FrankCapria.TVOn Murch on 3D
NotesOnVideo: 3D News

Which I only included to provide some balance to the report from Bloomberg that glasses-free 3D TV's - which started rolling out from Toshiba late last year - sold less than than half their targeted numbers. And Sony and Samsung report that demand for their 3D screens has also been less than expected. Is the market speaking?
BloombergGlasses-Free 3-D TV Sales Miss Expectations in Initial Month, Toshiba Says

On The Ground In Egypt
The LENS blog at the New York Times covers photography, video and visual journalism. The latest post collects together the experiences of several photographers in Egypt during the recent protests. Some very hairy stories:
The moment I started photographing the crowd, they just absolutely turned, to the point that one person grabbed my camera and started yelling at me, saying I can’t take photos. Before you know, we had this entire mob surrounding us.
NYTimesEven the Middle Ground Is Perilous in Cairo

Sony PMW-F3 low-light video
Alvaro Bernal Alejandre has posted a video shot with the PMW-F3 in low-light at 18db.
VimeoSony PMW F3

Impressive HDR Timelapse Video
Rafael Asquith has produced an impressive HDR timelapse video. The images are very dramatic, and he's using the War of the Worlds radio show audio for interesting dramatic effect. Nice clouds too.
VimeoThe War of the Worlds (HDR timelapse with 7D & 450D)

Zeiss joins Micro Four-Thirds System Standard
Olympus has announced that Carl Zeiss has joined the MFT System Standard Group, and will be offering lenses with the Micro Four-Thirds mount.
Engadget: Carl Zeiss joins the Micro Four Thirds revolution

Canon Announcements

It had been expected that Canon would make some announcements today, and they did; unfortunately many were hoping for a replacement for the 5D Mark II, instead Canon has announced two new low-priced DSLRs and some new lenses:

Canon T3 / 1100D for $600 with a kit lens you get a 12.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, a DIGIC 4 Imaging processor, nine-point autofocus system and a 63-zone dual later metering system. BUT, full-motion video only goes to 720p; 1280 x 720 resolution.

Canon T3i / 600D for $800 body only, looks to basically be a minor upgrade to the T2i; for video shooters it notably adds a tilt-swivel LCD.
It doesn't appear to do anything really new or different in the video capture department when compared to the existing T2i or 60D, though we'll probably have to wait for the reviews to confirm this. About the only thing that can be said for it is that it might make people thinking of buying the 60D for video - because of the tilt screen - look at the T3i instead.
DPReview: Canon Rebel T3i / EOS 600D announced and previewed
NewGadgets.Net: Canon rolls out entry-level DSLRs, Rebel T3 and Rebel T3i

You can pre-order the T3i at Amazon already for $799: Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera and DIGIC 4 Imaging (Body Only)

A couple of new - and expensive - long lenses have been announced; the 500 f/4L IS II & 600 f/4L IS II
Canonrumors: Canon Officially Announces the 500 f/4L IS II & 600 f/4L IS II

EF 200-400 f/4L
Perhaps more interesting for video is the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4x, which they have announced as being "in development" and will be available sometime this year.

It has a built-in 1.4x extender - not sure how that works! - that increases the focal range of 280 – 560mm. Canon EF 200-400 f/4L IS Development Announced

[UPDATED: Added link to Amazon]

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Video Editing

Case Studies in Film Editing
At the digitalFilms blog, Oliver Peters has collected together the interviews with film editors that he's written for Videography magazine. Movies covered include: RatatouilleThe Bourne Ultimatum, No Country For Old Men and The Dark Night.
digitalfilmsCase studies in film editing

Edit to the Beat in Adobe Premiere
In a Creative Cow tutorial, Richard Harrington shows how to edit a group of video clips quickly and sync them to an audio clip by using markers and the automate to sequence command in Premiere Pro.
CreativeCow: Edit to the Beat

CoreMelt FREE - 33 free plugins
CoreMelt are offering 33 plugins from their V2 range for free, including:
ImageFlow FX: Multipop Forward, Filmstrip, Carousel, Continuous Random Pan, Image Grid
Pigment: Advanced Vignette, RGB Levels and Curves
Gadget: Dewrinkler, Old TV
CoreMelt: CoreMelt FREE!