Saturday, March 26, 2011

More Love (& Hate) for the Sony NEX-FS100

Only a few days old, and the NEX-FS100 seems to have prompted as much heated reaction as any camera announcement I can remember. Much of it might be written off as a difference of opinion between the different factions of the video community; ENG Video Pros don't seem to like the compromises (lack of ND, small controls, no HD-SDI) while DSLR shooters aren't so sure they need all the buttons, and don't like the price. And everyone agrees that what they really want is the PMW-F3 for $2,500.

Could Sony finally have made a camera that no one likes?
Let's not be too hasty.

It's second hand reporting, but Ira Block reports that his friend Mark Forman has had a chance to play with the NEX-FS100 and said of it:
He told me the native ISO for the camera is 800 and the night footage that I saw which he shot at 2400 ISO, had very little noise.
The Sony is a true video camera with a monitor and good sound capabilities. It also accepts professional cables. Mark noted the NEX-FS100U has less color aliasing and moiré than the Canons in the video mode. He prefers the Sony’s codec (video compression signal) because it simplifies the video editing workflow as opposed to the codec in the DSLRs which adds an extra step.
IraBlockPhotography: The New DSLR Video Killers

Mark has also posted a video clip of footage captured with the NEX FS-100U on Vimeo: Forman Sony NEX FS-100U Prototype Footage Test

Tony Reale at NextWaveDV recounts the history of HDSLRs, the arrival of the Panasonic AG-AF100, and the NEX-FS100, and also resights the slights against the latter (lack of ND filters, HD/SDI and build quality) then posits:
Perfection is obviously too lofty of an expectation, but getting a high value to the amount you’ve invested isn’t. The question becomes, are these cameras worth the premium price over the DSLR you now use?
Surveying the landscape, he concludes that people now have more choices, but leaves unanswered whether they are choices that the shooters want. Which large sensor video camera should you choose? AF100 vs. FS100 vs. HDSLR

Blood in the water
Meanwhile, EOS HD takes on the value proposition. Leaving aside the question of whether the NEX-FS100 is hobbled because of the PMW-F3, he wonders what people get for the extra $ an FS100 will set them back compared to a DSLR?

He dismisses image quality, on the theory that most YouTube viewers won't see the diference, and also ignores the full HDMI out, proper audio jacks and monitoring, and other features, concluding that all you're getting are....buttons!

And I guess he's right. If all you think the NEX-FS100 does is add a few buttons, then yes, it's not worth the price. EOS HD: The Sony FS100 - Why professionals are all mad

Meanwhile, Philip Johnston at HD Warrior has also laid into the camera, mostly on the strength of Nigel Cooper's review. Philip, it should be clear, comes from the professional videographer end of the spectrum, and I can understand why he would prefer the Panasonic AG-AF100 or the PMW-F3 over the NEX-FS100. Still, he's pretty rough on it:
Sony do claim to talk to “Professional cameramen” when producing new camcorders but I do not know one such cameraman so I can conclude they are taking advice from the wrong people
He slightly amended this comment when he found out that Den Lennie had taken part, but then suggested that by the time he became involved Sony would have already designed the camera, so that any changes Den might have suggested would be marginal.

When I pointed out that Alister Chapman also took part in the focus group, and that the focus group seemed to want something closer to a DSLR than a typical video camera - and Den even said in a webchat that he was happy with what they had done - Philip's response was:
Thats my problem with this whole debate we are compromising to suit the DSLR which is nonsense.

Good luck to any video camera company that hopes to make everyone happy.

Quick Links

  • Software Zeiss CP.2 lenses for Micro Four Thirds (for the Panasonic AG-AF100 Zeiss says they will be shipping their Compact Prime CP.2 Lenses with F and MFT mounts this week.

  • PMW-F3 Footage: latest video examples from this camera include: Arthur-Film GmbH posted another video shot with Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 50/T2 / Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 35/T2 / 4:2:0) showing some night shots at 0 db, 9 db and 18 db: PMW-F3 lowlight test | Matthew Allard compares PMW-F3 footage at 35Mb/s and 4:2:2 (Cinedeck) "Amazingly the 35MB/s codec stands up much better than you think it would. You should never judge a codec purely by a number. 4.2.2 10 bit is sharper and slightly cleaner but it is very hard to pick the difference.Sony F3 XDCAM 35MB/s and ProRes 422 220MB/s Cinedeck Extreme Comparison | Ryan Bohling has posted Morning on the Reservoir, shot with the 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses, with some shots over cranked at 60 fps.

  • Follow Focus motor: Jag35 has posted a video showing their new J4 motor, a Digital Lens motor with enough torque for use on stiff PL Cinema lenses(486oz/in. - The J4 motor will be part of a Wireless Electronic Follow Focus Cinema Kit: VimeoJag35's Digital motor for Cinema lenses & Wireless follow focus kit

  • RED Epic and Arri Alexa: In this almost two hour podcast from the rc, Mike Seymour and Jason WIngrove discuss the Red Epic, the new Sony F5 camera, and talk to the DP who used the Arri Alexa on the BBC drama Upstairs Downstairsthe rc #85: EPIC Sea Pool


  • The Canted Camera: in an excerpt from his book The Filmmaker's Eye, Gustavo Mercado explains how canting the camera can "create spatial imbalance or disorientation which can convey a sense of dramatic tension, psychological instability, confusion, madness, or drug-induced psychosis": MasteringFilm: Using Canted Shots to Convey Tension

  • Editing and Spatial Relationships. In this blog post, Shawn Montano explains the thought processes in editing a sequence, and how - and when - he mixed closeups, medium and wide shots. Edit Foundry: Spatial Relations

  • North by Northwest: Bill Martell takes an indepth look at Hitchcock's masterpiece to see what makes it work. Sex In A SubmarineFridays With Hitchcock: North By Northwest


Upcoming Events Calendar

  • MAR 30 | HDSLR Workflows: Kit Gear, Build Outs and Alternatives: Webinar [Price $99] Wednesday, March 30, 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. PT.
    A show-and-tell discussion of the latest lenses, tripods, lens gears and rigs from ARRI, Chrosziel, Glidecam, ikam, Redrock, and others aimed at improving workflow during HDSLR shoots. An on-demand archive of the webinar will be made available for later viewing. StudioDaily: HDSLR Workflows

  • MAR 31 | BOSFCPUG & BOSTON DSLR Mixer: 6:30pm. NYC-Based DSLR Filmmaker Yan Shvalb of on "Manipulating Time" - Time Remapping in FCP and Motion and Timelapse Workflow (plus more!) Filmmaker Stuart Cummings - see Panasonic AF100 recording to AJA KiPro Mini - tips & tricks.
    Free if you register beforehand!: BOSFCPUG: March 31st Mixer

  • APR 5 | Sony NEX-FS100 Chat: Sony Professional Europe says they will be having a live Facebook chat to discuss their NXCAM product range, and "we welcome your questions and comments. More details to follow." It appears that Den Lennie - who got to play with an NEX-FS100 last week - will be part of the chat. Facebook: Song Professional Europe

  • APR 7 | AiME Awards Show, 6:00pm Coolidge Corner Theatre, a celebration of the best student work from the New England Institute of Art:

  • APR 11 | DSLR Meetup at NAB: Monday, April 11th. If you can go, they'd like you to RSVP so they have a count of numbers: NAB HDSLR Meetup – Monday evening at the Hard Rock

  • JUL 16 & 17 | Steadicam Workshop: 2 Day Zephyr / Scout / Pilot Workshop by Peter Abraham. Hosted by Rule/ Boston Camera. Tuition is $500.00 prepaid at time of registration. This class is limited to 9 students. TheSteadicamWorkshops 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Den Lennie on the Sony NEX-FS100

Yesterday, Den Lennie from F-Stop Academy took part in a web chat with Mitch from Planet5D about the upcoming Sony NEX-FS100. The replay is supposed to be up today, and it's worth checking out if you're really interested in this camera.

Den is up front about his involvement with this camera, which began over a year ago when he was asked down to Sony to a meeting to talk about DSLRs. When he - and several other camera people - got there, an entire team of engineers were present, and they wanted to know what the focus group liked and didn't like.

"We essentially designed a camera on the whiteboard," he said. "They didn’t give us everything we asked for, but they went 90% of the way." He added that he thought Sony realized they had not been listening to customers, and were now "all ears." He even brought up a photograph of the whiteboard to prove what they had done.

Sony, he said, had noted the uptick in DSLR sales, but this camera wasn't intended to be a "DSLR killer." Rather, it was intended for the event, music-promo, and commercial shooter; [to me it sounds as though Sony were trying to hang on to those who were previously buying EX1's and HXR-NX5 cameras, but have been attracted to the DSLR.]

He also noted that they weren't exactly paid for their participation, "I think they gave me an SxS card to cover expenses." He also wasn't paid for the shoot that he did last weekend with that camera...

"This will prove to you that we weren’t lying when we said
we sat in a room and designed the camera…."

Fast-forward to last weekend and Den got a call from Sony asking him if he would appear in a promo video about the new camera. They wanted to interview him about the Focus Group, but they added that they had a camera coming, and did he want to borrow it for the weekend?

He went on to explain how the weekend went; the camera arrived Friday evening with only the fairly slow standard lens; no batteries, and no adapter to attach additional lenses. In the end they even ran out and bought a couple of inexpensive A-mount lenses to use with the camera. And though they did some tests of rolling shutter and moiré and picture styles before shooting, it was all very, very rushed.

On missing features:
What are my thoughts on the lack of the ND filter? We asked for it. Sony said they can’t [do it and] keep it small.
HD-SDI & single HDMI: [HD-SDI would] drain too much power. We used HDMI out and it was fine.

You don’t need two HDMI’s. You want to have as little coming off the camera as possible. The HDMI is a large one at the back of the camera. If we’d had the Zacuto EVF, we could have looped through out to [other monitors].

The HDMI thing wasn’t a big deal breaker for me. I generally couldn’t care less if it’s HD-SDI or HDMI, the signal is the same.
Video quality
It’s not 10 bit. The more coming out, the more processing, the more heat. Our experience was very positive. You can stream out the HDMI. The Panasonic AF101 (AG-AF100) is 8 bit [but the] color space for the Panasonic is 4.2.0 and the color space on the Sony is 4.2.2.

It's 24Mbps. [The video on] Vimeo doesn’t do it justice. James [the guy that did the color correction] says it’s cleaner than DSLRs. The images coming off the camera remind [James] of working with the RED. There is noise there, but it’s very “clean” noise. When looking at T2i footage and the FS100, it was night and day.

Initial experience with the camera was a very positive one. The sensitivity was staggering.
Don’t be put off by looks, It rocks. We had it designed that way for a reason, because it fits in the plam of your hand. There’s a tendancy to pimp out a camera, but in some cases you want to be able to strip it down. Trust me, when you pick it up and start shooting with it, it will make sense. We were able to walk around with the camera in our hands and nobody stopped us.
Other Functionality
  • The side grip is pretty cool, it has a start/stop you can use to control the camera when you plug it in.
  • It has six assignable buttons, and lots of screw mounts
  • It does not give you ISO, it’s sensitivity is defined by gain, which starts at 0. They shot up to +12db.
  • "You can shoot at 1/48 which is very nice for 24p"
Asked if he thought the NEX-FS100 had been limited so it didn't compete with the PMW-F3:
Was the FS100 limited? I don't know, at the end of the day, Sony is a business. The F3 is ten grand. To make it more affordable, they have to take features off. I don't know the answer to that. For the money, it's a staggering piece of technology, and it's not going to be everyone. But I would trade my EX1 for it tomorrow.

He added that he's doing a Facebook chat with Sony Europe on the 5th of April. He said that Sony Europe wanted him to go to NAB, but that the show is run by Sony US, who "doesn't know him."


[UPDATE: Added link to podcast replay in Resources]

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Disagreements over the Sony NEX-FS100

Film & Digital Times opens their post about the new Sony NEX-FS100 with the following line:
What can we say about Sony’s new NEX-FS100U NXCAM Super35? How about “best design of a digital camera this year in a tiny package under $7,000?”
then goes on to add:
It fits in the palm of your hand, feels like a Hasselblad...
Pretty positive stuff!
Film&DigitalTimes: Sony NXCAM Super35

But not everyone's been so positive about the NEX-FS100. You might have seen Nigel Cooper's less than glowing review of the camera which included statements like:
Plastic, ill-fitting fixtures and fittings, finicky switches and buttons, cheap feeling dials are just some of the things that spring to mind. Overall it did not inspire much confidence in the build quality department. It is worse than the EX1 or any other Sony camcorder that came before it.
DVuser: Sony NEX-FS100E review by Nigel Cooper

He was okay with the image quality, but he really hates the build quality and the ergonomics.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this prompted some heated reaction on the internet [does anything about a popular topic NOT prompt some heated reaction? Have you never visited the RED forum? - Ed]

This included negative tweets like:
Why on earth did Sony UK give grumpy old man Nigel Cooper the first FS100?
But clearly Nigel wasn't going to take this kind of thing lying down, as he took to the DVXUser forum to fire back:
It makes me laugh these days how some of these so-called reviewers and experts say how great a product is before they have even had it in there hands.
And takes a particular shot at some:
I also suspect that because certain people were at the Focus Group way back when Sony were asking so-called professional cameramen and experts what features and form-factor they would like to see on a camcorder, they feel obliged to stand there and say how wonderful a product is, just because they spoke a few words at a Focus Group.

Note that the focus group he references included Den Lennie from F-Stop Academy and Alister Chapman from XDCAM-User [see Alister's view of the NEX-FS100 below)

DVXUser: Sony NEX-FS10 with Super 35mm CMOS image sensor #56

In a second post, Nigel admits that he's no DSLR lover:
I bought a Canon EOS 5D MK2 when it first came out, but after a short while sold it on eBay as I felt the aliasing made it unusable for any serious work; that's just me though.
and adds
If you are used to using a DSLR and then move over to a Sony FS100, of course it will 'fit right in", in a similar way to if you are used to having a 1970's Space Hopper for your form of transport, a Tesco's shopping trolly will 'fit right in', but that doesn't make the shopping trolly a BMW now does it?
DVXUserSony NEX-FS10 with Super 35mm CMOS image sensor #73

These DSLR comments might be instructive; because both Den, Alister and others in the focus group clearly told Sony they wanted a small, DSLR-like camera.

This afternoon, Den Lennie did a webchat with Mitch at Planet5D and he was asked about Nigel's review. He said:
I don’t know why Nigel slammed it. I couldn’t take it seriously because he was so disparaging.
It wasn’t a balanced review, in my opinion. [...]We shot six locations in really challenging lighting conditions. We shot the backside out of it, we shot a real project.
I get the feeling he doesn’t quite understand who it was built and designed for. We asked for a modular camera; there’s a time when you want to be covert, and times you want to build it up.
On build quality and ergonomics, he said:
I just don’t agree with him. We used it for 48 hours, I didn’t question the build quality. It felt to me like the EX1. I didn’t have any obvious concerns about the build quality.
He did add that he thought the EX1 is "pretty plasticky," and that he hadn't seen the PMW-F3, so couldn't compare it to that.

Steve Weiss of Zacuto was also in the chat, and he noted that "the build quality is not as good as the F3."

One more data point, Alister Chapman has posted his thoughts about the NEX-FS100. He also describes some of the thoughts behind the design of the camera, and observes:
The end result is this rather quirky but in my opinion, really quite clever and versatile design.
XDCAM-user: Sony FS-100 Super 35mm NXCAM Camcorder Announced

Ultimately, even Nigel concludes:
At the end of the day, my review was and is my personal opinion [...] But one thing is for sure. When the FS100 does hit the streets, people will go and look at it and judge for themselves.

Filmmaker Jared Flesher - Sourlands

I met filmmaker Jared Flesher at last years SNOB (Somewhat North of Boston) Film festival, where he was showing his first documentary The Farmer and the Horse. That documentary, which is a great example of storytelling, follows three young farmers who are just starting out and want to use horses rather than tractors.

Now he's working on a new documentary, Sourlands, about The Sourland Mountains, which he describes as "the last green spot on the map between New York City and Philadelphia."

Jared answered some questions about the project, which he's already started work on, and will be shooting with the Panasonic GH2:

1) Where did you get the idea for this project?
For me, the Sourlands are home -- I grew up in New Jersey and decided to come back after I graduated college and traveled around for a bit. As a journalist and filmmaker, I get excited about finding local stories and telling them in ways that demonstrate how local issues have national significance. Because at the end of the day, all journalism is local. I guess you could even say all life is lived locally.

2) What is the shooting schedule?
I think the reality of independent documentary filmmaking is that you have to work fast if you hope to be profitable. And that's because work time is the most expensive part of making a film. My goal is to shoot, edit, and release Sourlands in 12 to 18 months, and then devote another 6 months to marketing it. That's the same schedule I ran my first film on, The Farmer and the Horse. I'd like to finish a new feature documentary every 18 months. Or every two years if I'm slow.

3) How long do you think it will take to edit the film?
I start preliminary editing right away, while I'm still shooting, so usually I can finish up a rough cut just a few weeks after I complete my final shoot. When I'm interviewing someone on camera and they say something intriguing, it often jumps right out as something I will use in the film. So I go home that night and drop it into my editing timeline. I'm not sure if that's how many editors work, but that's always been my process.

4) What are the biggest lessons from your first project that you're applying to the production of this one?
I think people get interested in a documentary film because of the subject matter, but they love it or don't love it based on whether they connect with the characters. The editor Walter Murch has this hierarchy of editing in which he says you should always make storytelling and editing decisions based on these elements, in this order: 1. Emotion. 2. Story. 3. Rhythm. Technical considerations are way down low on the list. When I saw what people reacted too and didn't react to in The Farmer and the Horse, I realized that Murch was pretty much dead on.

Here's more details about the project:

The Sourlands are hardly what most people would deem mountains—they rise to a height of just 568 feet—but their rough terrain has helped insulate them from New Jersey’s famously sprawling suburbs. They are home to Central Jersey’s largest contiguous forest, threatened wildlife species, and a history layered with legend.
In the final film, expect to see everything from first-year farmers to land conservationists to tax-battling politicians to bird-chasing ornithologists.

Jared's looking to fund the movie through Kickstarter, and is already well on the way to the $5,000 goal. You can check out the trailer he's put together here: Sourlands: A Story of Land, Energy and a Life More Local

See Also:
NotesOnVideoInterview: Filmmaker Jared Flesher
The Farmer and the Horse

Sony NEX-FS100 News

  • Yesterday, someone asked; "how many blog posts were made about the Sony NEX-FS100 today?" I counted at least 50; half of them were mine! Meanwhile, the video from F Stop Academy with Den Lennie got almost 12,000 views in a day; which suggests there's quite a bit of interest in this $6,000 camera: NEX FS 100 Video Blog.

    And if you're looking for some more sample footage, there's this video that features a variety of lenses including E-mount, A-mount and Zeiss PL mount Compact Prime CP.2 lenses: Youtube: NEX-FS100 Lenses and some footage shot by the editors of Videomaker with Sony's E-mount 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 lens and A-mount 35mm f/1.4 G Series lens with an adapter: YouTube: Sony NXCAM Super 35mm Test

  • Den Lennie NEX-FS100 Web Chat time correction. If you're interested in catching the Planet5D webchat with Den Lennia (who got to play with a pre-production NEX-FS100) note that it's at 4pm EDT, not 3pm as originally reported: planet5D live with Den Lennie

  • More thoughts on the NEX-FS100; from Paul Moon who highlights some of the features in the camera in this post: Advanced technical features. And video producer Tony Reale comments about the F100: "The AF100 is the event shooter's large sensor cam. The FS100 is the budget filmmaker's large sensor cam."

  • Unless something amazing happens (like the retail price is announced at $3,500) I'm going to resist further NEX-FS100 updates today...

Quick Links

  • Streaming Movies: Would would watch on-demand movies with commercials every 10 minutes? Screen Media Ventures thinks you might: Indie Film Distributor Screen Media Starts Streaming Ad-Supported Releases

  • Streaming Film Festival: the Tribeca (Online) Film Festival will host free exclusive content including six feature length festival films: Videography: Tribeca (Online) Film Festival Creates Innovative Festival Experience Online

  • Is this the year of video EVFs? LCDVF announces the LCDVFe with focus assist via red peaking over black and white, exposure assist with under and over exposure Zebras, 1:1 pixel zoom feature with positionable recall feature and 840x400 resolution: LCDVFe

  • DPReview reviews the Panasonic GH2. "The GH2 is easily the best video-equipped stills camera that we've ever used. The depth of its feature set is impressive, but more importantly, it creates great looking video." Some people have suggested it's taken DPReview quite some time to put this together; but can anyone actually buy one of these at the moment?! (B&H are taking preorders and say they expect them soon.)

  • Workflow thing. I hate it when I go to a product website and after five minutes of study, I'm still not sure what they are selling, and how it's supposed to help me. Silverstack offers an H.264 is supposed to "manage backup, quality control and media handling" but I'm not really sure how it does that. Is it just a backup program?: Pomfort: Silverstack

  • 128GB SDXC cards. By Lexar, available now at B& H.

  • Documentary: Christopher Campbell at the Cinematical blog has been asking "what one thing could change for the better for documentaries?" and getting different answers: moviefoneDoc Talk: How Could Documentary Cinema Change for the Better?

  • Opening Titles: last week I posted a video that was a compendium of movie titles through the last century. There's a blog that does a similar job with stills from the titles: idsgn: Now and then: How film titles have evolved

Color IQ

How's your color perception? X-Rite has the Online Color Challenge: drag and drop the colors in each row to arrange them by hue order. The first and last color chips are fixed.

Once you're done, press Score Test, and it gives you your results. One thing; it is a lot of work to rearrange all those colors!! (and how easy it is may also be impacted by the monitor you are using.)

I took a fairly quick stab at it, and got 22, which is by no means perfect, but doesn't appear too bad (lowest score is better, and it's on a scale of 0 to 1500.) And, you know, I wasn't really trying!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sony NEX-FS100 Update 6

It's in the lens
If you're planning to get an NEX-FS100, you're going to have to think about what lenses you will use with it. Because you'll want to use E-mount lenses if you want to have optical image stabilization and auto-focus. If you use A-mount lenses (with the A-E mount adapter) you will probably still have auto-focus (though it will be interesting to see how well that performs, if it's like the NEX-VG10, it's not the greatest.) But if you use any other lenses, you lose all that.

The product specification for the NEXFS100UK says:
Image Stabilizer: Optical SteadyShot | Optical SteadyShot with Active Mode
But the NEXFS100U (body without the lens) lists:
That's because the E18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS zoom lens included in the kit model supports optical SteadyShot and auto focus.

Meanwhile, The DSLR Shooter, while noting that the E-Mount provides:
The beauty of short flange distance is that you can practically use any lens via a 3rd party adaptor. There’s definitely possibility of putting your nikon or canon mount lenses to good use.
Laments "8 bit, lack of HD-SDI and no built in ND" The latter, according to one source, is a limitation of that E-Mount. Supposedly there wasn't enough room to include neutral density filters.
DSLR Shooter: Sony Announces: NXCAM NEX-FS100

The sensitivity of the camera - unsurprisingly -  depends upon the lens you use. Sony's own press release gives two different sensitivity numbers for the camera (at different points in the release):
with the f3.5 E18-200mm the NEX-FS100UK enables shooting in illumination as low as 1.5lux when using a fixed shutter speed of 1/30, auto gain and auto iris
But elsewhere:
while providing the sensitivity necessary for shooting at a minimum illumination of 0.28 lux (when using a fixed shutter speed of 1/30, auto gain and an iris setting of F1.4).
your mileage may vary...

Sensor Resolution
The NEX-FS100 uses the same sensor as the PMW-F3, but while Sony has released the total number of pixels in that sensor (3.43MP), they won't say how those pixels are arrayed and used to produce the HD image. The press release just notes:
"The sensor also features the optimum number of effective pixels for shooting HD moving images"
- what does that mean?

Release Date
In one earlier report I noted a release date of May. The official press release notes that release of the NEX-FS100 and HXR-NX70 will come sometime between "July-September"

Press Release: Sony Expands its NXCAM Family of Products [PDF]

Sony NEX-FS100 Update 4 & 5

[Previous updates: NotesOnVideo Sony NEX FS-100]

Sony US microsite is up for the NEX-FS100: NEXFS100U

For a more positive view of the NEX-FS100, check out EOSHD: Sony FS100 - a kick up the arse:
This is definitely going to be popular, not since the VX2000 / PD150 have Sony produced something so compelling for filmmakers.

For those who can afford $6000, and with no 5D Mark 3 available yet, the FS100 is a good choice

Zacuto says you'll want a rig for it: Sony’s NEX FS100 has Arrived
Unlike most ENG cameras, the NEX-FS100 is not ergonomic. Because it is such a small camera, it doesn’t fit the human body very well. Mounting the camera on your shoulder without a proper baseplate system is impossible.

10-bit or 8-bit HDMI?
The NEX-FS100 doesn't have HD-SDI out, but it does have HDMI 4:2:2. One question; is that 8-bit or 10-bit. Nigal Copper says it's 8, while others are saying 10

Den Lennie, who got to play with the NEX-FS100E will be doing a webchat with Mitch at planet5D on Thursday March 24th at 3pm EDT – 8pm GMT (20:00 GMT) [CORRECTION; it's at 4PM EDT!]

More Sony Videos

Sony Professional posts another video about the NEX-FS100 featuring Den Lennie, Zulqar Cheema, and others talking about the design of the camera...

[It seems odd that the first user review (see: Sony NEX-FS100E review by Nigel Cooper) is so negative about ergonomics, when Sony is highlighting the user opinions they got in designing this camera...]

Sony Professional - NEX FS100E: Affordable Super 35mm from Sony Professional on Vimeo.

HXR-NX70E - Another Sony Announcement
Not to be overlooked, Sony also announced the HXR-NX70E, "the first rain and dust proof camera, designed to stand up to even the most inhospitable environments. "

This is just a promotional video:

Sony Professional - HXR-NX70E from Sony Professional on Vimeo.

Quick Links

Sony NEX-FS100

[UPDATE 3 | 9:30AM -(first two are at end of this post)]

Nigel Cooper posts the "worlds first official full review," and isn't happy. Describing is as a "huge let down" he says that the image quality on the Sony is better than the Panasonic AG-AF100, but the usability, ergonomics and build quality of the Panasonic AG-AF100 is better than the NEX-FS100: DVuser:Sony NEX-FS100E review by Nigel Cooper
  • Plastic, ill-fitting fixtures and fittings, finicky switches and buttons, cheap feeling dials are just some of the things that spring to mind.
  • The minute size of some of the other buttons defies belief they are so small.
  • It is almost impossible to hold the camcorder by the top handle/mic holder and have a decent view of the scene via the LCD screen.
  • Sony tell me that they could not fit an ND filter wheel due to the very short flange-back, there is simply no room for an ND filter wheel to go in front of the sensor.
  • There is some visible aliasing, but not as much as Panasonic’s AF101

SonyUK: NEX-FS100E & EK product brochure [direct link to PDF]

Robin Schmidt (El Skid) isn't impressed by the AVCHD format used by the NEX-FS100, and is holding out for a Canon 5D successor: SONY NEX FS 100 c/o DEN LENNIE – INTERESTING

Sony announces the NEX-FS100

As promised, Sony has rolled out the new large-sensor camera, the NEX-FS100. (That's a surprise, I thought it was going to be the NXCAM FS100...interesting that they have thrown in the NEX designation due to the E-mount)
The NEX-FS100 is a new E-mount professional camcorder equipped with a Super 35mm CMOS sensor specifically designed for shooting motion pictures ideal for commercials and music videos, as well as action scenes in budget drama for example.The large-format sensor's high sensitivity enables it to produce footage with shallow depth of field similar to that of a film camera.
The camera will be sold with an E-Mount 18 to 200mm zoom lens (List Price $6,550) and without ($5,850)

Sony Product InfoNEX-FS100UK (kit with lens)

Den Lennie of the F-Stop Academy got to spend 24 hours with the camera and shot a music video: Cozi: 'Vertigo' Music Video.

He's put together a video blog about the camera which is well worth watching:

NEX FS 100 Video Blog from Den & James on Vimeo.

Crews.TV notes:
  • there appears to be no built in ND filters (Wait, seriously?!)
  • there’s no HD-SDI output, instead there will be 4:2:2 HDMI output with a time code signal
  • Delivery "tentatively set for July" - (that's NZ; others are saying May UPDATE - July-September according to Sony US Press Release) Sony FS-100 Enters

Videomaker got to spend some time with the camera
  • undercranking to 1 fps and overcranking up to 60 fps
  • viewfinder system can be rotated more than 90 degrees to each side of the camera
  • white balance, shutter speed, gain, histogram, zebra, S&Q, and peaking
  • 24 Mbps, but will also be able to record 28 Mbps in 1080/60p
Videomaker: Hands-on With Sony’s NXCAM Super 35mm Camcorder

Philip Johnston at HD Warrior:
  • Sony have decided not to bring out a new battery for this camcorder and uses the infoLITHIUM “L” batteries (NP-F970).
  • Unlike the VG-10 we get a gain switch and many pro features that will set this camera well above its competitors.
HDWarrior: The NEW Sony NEX FS100 Super 35mm camcorder “First Look”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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Opinions From Here & There

Tapeless Acquisition Increases Shooting Ratios
Shane Ross at the Little Frog in High Def blog looks at how tapeless acquisition has greatly increased the amount of material an editor has to review; yet they are expected to do it in the same amount of time:
On EVEN STEVENS, we’d have perhaps 3 hours of footage for the 22:42 min show. But [my friend] is on another Disney Channel show where he regularly sees six to 8 hours of footage…multiple takes buried in one roll.

Trent Reznor on writing for The Social Network
All Things Considered Sunday spoke to Trent Reznor about working on the film score for The Social Network. At least two really interesting things came up; he observed that the film isn't about Facebook at all - Facebook could have represented anything - and secondly, he talks about the music used in the early scene of the movie when Mark Zuckerberg walks across the Harvard campus after breaking up with his girlfriend:
Q: I read that Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter, was very specific in the script. He wanted this energetic, stomping, pumping tune there, and you completely defied that.

A: Sorry Aaron. That is one of my proudest achievement's, that moment in this film, and honestly, not just in this film, just in everything I've done. When I first saw that inserted in that place, it really felt like we were on to something. I think it did an excellent job of framing the film in a way were your expectations are different. I'd seen a rough edit of that with an Elvis Costello song, and it becomes a different film, it becomes a familiar 'oh it's about a college.' This took it in to a place were it felt unfamiliar...
NPR: Trent Reznor: Iconoclast To Icon, Via Oscar

Making It Simpler and Easier
Michael Madaville attended the Directors Guild of America's DGA Digital Day, which is an exhibit of new technologies and techniques. He's impressed by how much easier it is getting to shoot difficult scenes and setups:
One saying often said in the Film Industry is that, if you want to go it alone in creativity (versus collaboration), then “buy yourself a paint set.” Whether we like it or not, that cheap paint set is becoming all it takes to make a movie.
BigHollywood: We Live In a Digital Heyday

Studying Painting can improve your Color Grading
Patrick Inhofer at the Tao of Color Grading talks about how studying traditional arts can help improve your skills; and also recommends some books and resources for Color Grading instruction as well. the same manner that photographers have been doing digital color grading 10 years longer than those of us on the video side, traditional artists have been studying light, dark, color, contrast for dozens of decades longer than those of us in the world of moving images.
TaoofColor: Do You See The Symmetry? The Painter, The Colorist and An 80 Year Old Book

RED Scarlet - soon?
Matthew Jeppsen at FreshDV digests the latest information from RED (posted on the RED User Forum) and reads the tea leaves. He also considers the state of the EPIC-S (previously the Scarlet.)
For those that are counting, this is the third NAB show that Red will be showing an unfinished Scarlet camera, and specs have officially changed several times since then. If we’re going by Red’s track record, I’d fully expect EPIC-S specs and ship deadlines to change again before the end of summer timeframe, but we shall see. 
FreshDVRED Pre-NAB Updates

Indie Film Budgets Decreasing
Nate & Kelly is an independent feature attempting to raise $25,000 through Kickstarter to get underway.
What was a $2.5 million budget just a couple years ago is now a $250,000 budget because of the tight economy, the dearth of investors, and the incredible advances in filmmaking technology. 
Producer Michael Barnard talks about the state of independent movies, ever diminishing budgets, as well as this project.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone

In this video from the April meeting of Boston Media Makers, Adam Weiss talks about the advantages of the Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone. He compares it to the Sennheiser MKE 400, which had been his previous favorite mic.

Features of the VideoMic Pro include:
  • Supercardioid Polar Pattern
  • Integrated Shockmount and Windscreen
  • 3-Position Level Control
  • 2-Step High Pass Filter
  • A green light on the back of it indicates it's on!

Interestingly, Philip Johnston at HD Warrior just put up a review of the VideoMic Pro and comes to a different conclusion; he doesn't consider it "pro" enough; for example the cable he thinks is too short.

I suspect that it depends upon how you're using it - what kind of camera - and what kind of user you are, that will determine whether this mic is a good fit for you: RODE VideoMic PRO “User Review”

B & H: Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone [$229]
Amazon: Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone - Black [$199.95]

Quick Links Deal of the Day: Flip MinoHD Video Camera

Flip MinoHD Video Camera - Black, 8 GB, 2 Hours (3rd Generation) NEWEST MODEL: $139

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A curse on BRAVIA Sync

A couple of weeks ago I bought a new Sony TV because my ten year old Trinitron set developed a habit of going all red and turning itself off (a story for another time.)

Unbeknownst to me, Sony has this new feature - added within the last ten years, anyway - called Bravia Sync that lets Sony HDMI devices talk to one another.

For the first two weeks everything was fine; I was managing my TV, amp, Cable box and Blu-ray player separately, but quite happily...until...

...last night I accidentally pushed a button on the TV remote that did something I didn't even know was possible; it told the TV to talk to the Sony amp and the Sony Blu-ray player [Sony, Sony Sony? Haven't you heard of Panasonic? Toshiba? -Ed]

Everything continued to work fine when using the Blu-ray player; in fact, now the TV remote could adjust the volume on the amp. Nice! The problem was the Cable box. It isn't a Sony device [Seriously, LG? Samsung? -Ed], and it is connected via the Component inputs rather than HDMI. The amp and the TV didn't seem to like that at all; whenever I switched the TV to the Component 1 input, the amp would switch itself to the TV input rather than the SAT/Cable input, and when I switched the amp back to SAT/Cable input the TV would switch to HDMI 2!

It took me a good five minutes to figure out that the two were conspiring against me to mess me up! [How about Sharp? -Ed].

A Google search turned up documentation about how to turn Bravia Sync on (See: Using BRAVIA Sync with Control for HDMI) but nothing about how to turn it off. A few posts vaguely talked about "doing the reverse to disable it" or going into the TV's toolbox settings menu and turning it off. I found the TV's menu with HDMI communication enabled okay; but the TV wouldn't let me choose that feature to turn it off!

Finally, I found someone with a tip which worked; here's the important part:

Resetting (Turning Off) BRAVIA Sync
To reset everything; unplug the HDMI cable, turn off everything, turn off the power, and wait two-five minutes. Then reconnect.

Thankfully, after going through that, things now seem to be back the way they were: I can switch to the cable input on the amp, and the TV will stay on the component input.

In conclusion, it's probable that I either have the cable box plugged into the amp wrong, and/or I need to reprogram the amp so that things will work correctly; but do you know how hard it is to understand those manuals?! I am just glad I have everything working again!

[Philips? Mitsubishi? - Ed]

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