Saturday, April 02, 2011

Sony NEX-FS100 update

Video Review
Sean Seah at Firewerks Films in Singapore got his hands on an NEX-FS100 and put together a short video review. He thinks it's a really nice camera and demo's how the microphone mount, LCD and VF tube work. He doesn't like the adjustment for the hand grip, and says that hand holding it is "a bit weird," either with or without the VF tube.
"And yeah, one glaring omission; where's the ND filter?"
The last half of the video (starting at 6:20) has video taken with the camera, including some low-light stuff.

Sony NEX FS-100 Review from Firewerkz Films on Vimeo.

Den Lennie video now posted at 1080p
F-Stop Academy has posted a 1080P version of the music video they shot with the FS100.
F-StopAcademy: **UPDATE*** Full 1080P version of FS100 Footage now Available

An hour with the NEX-FS100U
John Burkhart at Mynan Media - also in Singapore - also got to spend an hour with the NEX-FS100U, and has posted his impressions of the camera. He thought the supplied lens was rather poor, but he liked the LCD.
...the construction of the camera was actually very good. Sure it was no Arri or Leica like tank, but it felt exactly the same as our EX-1's in terms of build, solid and serviceable. So if you're happy with the construction of those cameras, you'll be happy with the FS100U.
He also points out something I hadn't realized; the FS100 is available in an NTSC and a PAL version, and the PAL unit doesn't shoot 24p or any of the NTSC rates, while the NTSC version won't shoot 25p.
The FS100 we had was the PAL unit, so it did all the 50 fps frame rates, but not 24p, or any of the NTSC rates.
He's posted some actual clips he recorded on the blog too.
MynahMedia: An Hour wuth the Sony NEX-FS100U

Sony US: NEX-FS100U Specs
Sony UK: NEX-FX100E Specs

Kampong Glam - Sony NEX-FS100 Test
Ng Chee Teng also got to spend an hour with the camera and shot this video. You should go to the Vimeo page to read his impressions:
Low light and low noise is definitely its selling point. Definitely better than AF100 in this regard. I also tested AF100 briefly before with some noticeable noise.

15db gain is surprisingly very usable although I feel 30db is reserved for documentary use with its noticeable noise. A better lens will definitely do wonders for this camera. The absence of a ND filter wheel is also an issue but it can be overcome with a mattebox.
He also doesn't care for the kit lens or the lack of an ND filter.

Note: He mentions aliasing issues in the video, but has posted an Update at the end of the article:
I have allowed some people to download the raw file and they have tested no aliasing on other editing software. The aliasing could be a problem to Premiere Pro CS4. I will investigate this on Avid Media Composer 5 and re-edit it there if this is indeed true.

Kampong Glam - Sony NEX-FS100 Test from Tengo on Vimeo.

Finally, if you're wondering why you can't yet pre-order the camera - though places like B & H list it with a price - it may be partly because pricing isn't yet finalized. In a post on the forum, Andy Shipsides from Abel CineTech says that "real pricing" hasn't been announced, and won't be confirmed until probably sometime after NAB. Available for pre-order

The Sony Store Was Gone...

I went down to the Mall,
and the Sony Store was gone,
ah oh, way to go...

Sony Store, Burlington Mall, Massachusetts

Don't know what I'm going to do at the mall any more after going to the Apple Store...

Sony PMW-F3 Differences Of Opinion

If it's not one Sony video camera causing controversy, it's another. Now it's the Sony PMW-F3's turn to be the subject of disagreement. Alan Roberts has issued a technical report on the picture quality of the PMW-F3, and wrote this about noise levels:
Since the slope of the gamma curve is unity when the signal level is about 50%,
it is also clear that the noise level is only about -48.5dB rather than the claimed -63dB in the specification.
- ADDENDUM 68 : Assessment and settings for Sony PMW-F3
This prompted a response from Alister Chapman at XDCAM-USER:
Now I don’t have the ability to measure noise as Alan does and I normally respect his results, but this noise figure does not make sense, nor does his comment that the camera has similar sensitivity to most 3 chip cameras. To my eyes, the F3 is more sensitive than any 3 chip camera I’ve used and it’s a lot less noisy. The implication of the test is that the F3 is noisier than the PMW-350. Well that’s not what my eyes tell me.
- Alan Roberts F3 assessment. Confusing Reading
and Philip Johnston at HD Warrior:
I am very much with Alister on this one the F3 is the cleanest, best picture at this price point you will see and I can assure you beats all the older APPROVED HD camcorders by a mile.
- Sony PMW-F3 Investigation
The report also has a very odd passage about the resolution of the sensor:
The specification claims it to be T/11 at ISO800, and since ISO800 corresponds to 0dB gain, this means that the sensitivity is very similar to that of a 3-sensor ” sensor, which in turn implies that the pixels are about 5μm square. Given that the sensor is ‘super 35mm’ size, it must be 24x13.5mm. For the pixels to be 5μm spaced, the sensor width must be about 4800 pixels, making the sensor approximately 4,800x2,700. This fits reasonably well with the estimations in section 1.2.1, and means that the sensor has approximately 12.9 Megapixels, typical of a digital stills camera.
- ADDENDUM 68 : Assessment and settings for Sony PMW-F3
While Sony has been coy about some details of the sensor in the camera, they have clearly said that the sensor has 3.4 megapixels, so it's puzzling that the report instead comes up with a different number by a reverse calculation based on the sensitivity. Others have noted some other minor errors in the report (see: F3 BBC Report)

This may all appear to be just a minor disagreement between camera buffs, except that Alan Roberts opinion about a camera is very important; he does evaluations for the BBC, and those evaluations determine whether the BBC approves a camera for production or not. And the BBC's approval follows on to whether a lot of other broadcast institutions will allow the use of the camera.

Will Alan be joining in on the discussion? That seems unlikely. He's already sick of arguments about the Panasonic AG-AF100 and posted the following in a thread in a discussion about that camera on the DVDoctor forums: the last couple of years or so, things have been changing. Now, the questions are more along the lines of 'you've got it wrong because...', and some of the posters and postings are clearly biased for/against individual cameras and/or manufacturers.

I have always been totally neutral on such things, I measure and report. My neutrality has often been questioned; I've been accused of being in the pay of both Sony and Panasonic, so I suppose my neutrality is still observable. It will always remain so.

The recent furore over the AF101 has been the last straw. I got so angry with the continued blether about it that the fuse finally blew. So, here's my statement for the future:


If you want to talk rubbish about cameras, get on with it, I won't comment either way. AF101 tests up

BBC Mirror by Daniel Bronwing: BBC R&D White Paper WHP034
ADDENDUM 68 : Assessment and settings for Sony PMW-F3 [PDF]
XDCAM-USER: Alan Roberts F3 assessment. Confusing Reading
HD Warrior: Sony PMW-F3 Investigation F3 BBC Report AF101 tests up

Inexpensive & Flexible Camera Stabilizer

by Jared Flesher

With all these small video cameras, having a good way to stabilize them is obviously very important. But many of the rigs you can buy are ridiculously expensive. I’ve taken a Spiderbrace ($70 at and fused it with a Bogen monopod and quick release monopod head ($60).

My “Spiderpod” has turned out to be a light-weight, portable solution that’s great for run-and-gun documentary filmmaking. It gives you four points of stabilization: your two-hands, your shoulder, and the ground. Or you can shorten the monopod up and walk around with it, with the fourth point of stabilization resting against your stomach. Either way, you don’t ever get tired of holding it -- you can keep it steady for hours.

The monopod handle also screws off easily, so you can use the Spiderbrace as a ground tripod. The quick-release monopod head let’s you get the camera on and off very quickly if you need to switch to a standard tripod.

Jared Flesher is using this stabilizer to shoot his upcoming documentary Sourlands. You can check out the trailer he's put together, and support the project, here: Sourlands: A Story of Land, Energy and a Life More Local. You can also read about his previous project here: The Farmer and the Horse

See Also:
NotesOnVideo: Filmmaker Jared Flesher - Sourlands
NotesOnVideoInterview: Filmmaker Jared Flesher

Friday, April 01, 2011

GET for Final Cut Pro - Price Cut. Now $249

AV3 Software has dropped the price of GET, the phonetic search plug-in for Final Cut Pro to $249. GET [they don't capitalize it, but it's confusing if you don't-Ed] will quickly index the audio tracks of footage, and then you can search for words phonetically.

For documentary workers, I think this tool would be indispensable. You can download a trial version from their website:

NotesOnVideo: 'get' for Final Cut

Quick Links

NAB Stuff
  • NAB Canon & Sony predictions. I probably shouldn't list this today - given it's April Fool's Day - but this article on EOSHD was actually published yesterday, and contains speculation about Canon releasing a large sensor video camera (Personally, while it would seem logical that they would, but Canon always seems to be a good step behind everyone else on the video front; they like to see how things are shaking out, and then release a fully featured - and expensive - camera.) On the Sony front, he hopes for more manual controls on the replacement for the NEX-3 that is expected; though it seems doubtful Sony would announce a new NEX-3 at NAB. EOSHD: Canon at NAB 2011 / Sony's lucky number

  • Tips for Job hunters. The NABShow Blog has posted an article full of tips for internship and job hunters at the show. Suggestions include: Focus Your Itinerary; Learn to Break the Ice; Get a Relationship, Not Just a Business Card. NABShowBlog: Tips for Internship and Job Hunters at the NAB Show  [See also the Philip Bloom article linked below]

  • Final Cut @ NAB? I wouldn't bet money either way that Apple will show the new version of Final Cut - publicly - at NAB. BUT, at last night's BOSFCPUG meeting, Daniel Berube made reference to the second half of the upcoming NAB SuperMeet meeting being devoted to Final Cut, and the SuperMeet writeup currently says: Second half of SuperMeet agenda to be posted shortly! Stay tuned... Could there be an exciting announcement/demo, or will it be a partner - like Canon or Panasonic - announcing new file support for Final Cut? We shall have to wait...SuperMeet

Other Links
  • Should you go to Film School? Philip Bloom looks back on how he got into the business, and speculates about what he would do if he was 18 again. PhilipBloom: How do I get into this filming lark and make money from it? Part 1

  • Photoshop for iPad: Adobe already has Photoshop Express for the iPhone and iPad, but now they are talking about a more fully featured version that supports layers and other features. TiPb: Adobe working on a full featured version of Photoshop for iPad

  • Sony PMW-F3: At Cine Technica, Andy Shipsides tests the Dynamic Range of the camera (without S-Log, which is yet to come and should increase the dynamic range) and comes up with 11-12 stops of range. He notes that dynamic range doesn't really change when switching gamma modes, instead it moves the middle gray point around, giving you more dynamic range above or below middle gray. The Cliff Notes version: Cine1 good for highlights. Cine4 good for lowlight shooting. AbelCine Tests the Sony F3 Dynamic Range

    Meanwhile, Cédric Tacussel has posted a nice video of skateboarders and BMX riders shot with the PMW-F3. Vimeo: Test Sony PMW-F3

  • DSC Labs New3D Chart: says their new chart will reduce the "deleterious side effects sometimes brought on by looking too long at 3D video images." TVB: New 3D Camera Test Chart Said to ‘Reduce 3D Headaches’

April Fools Gags

Be careful out there folks, it's April Fools Day.

It's that day of the year to be careful about what you read on the internets [isn't that every day?!-Ed] So be careful!

Spoiler alert. Collected below are the April Fools Gag's I've encountered so far. Obviously, this list ruins the joke for you, so don't read any further if you enjoy being surprised!
The weather in Boston today!
If only this was a joke. Today's weather in Boston :(

Find any more? Let us know!

[UPDATE: Added The Steadiglove]

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Social Media Really Means

Over at the Mastering Film web site, Elliot Grove has written a short piece on Social Media, and how it is dismantling the traditions of the movie industry. He's definitely right that changes are going down, though I'd dispute his conclusions about why it's happening, and what the results will be.

It's not Social Media that's changing the video, film, and many other creative industries. Computers and the Internet are doing that. Social Media is a tool that people are using to try and reinvent creative mediums: people no longer buying music [leads to] labels no longer promoting and grooming new acts [leads to] acts having to do it themselves.

Social Media - like the Internet that came before it [you're being ironical, aren't you?-Ed]- provides new ways for individuals to market to people. How successful any individual effort will be really depends upon how good they are at marketing - and also, to a great extent - how lucky they are. Having the right product is maybe half the battle; being at the right place at the right time can be just as important.

But then, that's how it always was. The difference now is that many people are taking over the promotion themselves. You no longer have to sell yourself to the gatekeepers; you have to sell yourself to everyone. And as Laura Miller at Salon asks, if you have to be good at selling yourself to get your creative work out to the audience, is that necessarily a good thing?
MasteringFilm: What Social Media Really Means To The Film Industry
Salon: Author, sell thyself

Movie Industry News

  • Michigan Film Tax Incentives: Since 2008 Michigan has had one of the most lucrative tax credits (42%) in the nation, but after governor Rick Snyder proposed reducing the credit, production started to pull out of the state: IndieWIRE: Michigan’s Film Incentives Are Leaving. So Are Its Filmmakers.

  • Movie attendance down 20% compared to last year. Is it because of bad movies, or very bad movies, or because people just aren't going to the theater? "...changes in consumer behavior combined with the continued tough economic times, higher gasoline and movie ticket prices (driven in part by more premium-priced 3-D movies) could be drawing people away from theaters..." LATimes: Movie industry hits ticket sales decline on the nose: It's put out some stinkers

  • Higher Frame Rates will improve the 3D experience, and James Cameron is all for that: "It improves (3D)," Landau [Cameron's producing partner] said. "An artifact in 3D (creates) strobing that goes away at higher frame rates. (Strobing) is more noticeable in 3D (than 2D)." [Ummm..Sorry there are so many parenthesis and junk in that quote - Ed] HollywoodReporter: James Cameron, Jon Landau Explore Option to Improve Digital Movie QualityJames Cameron 'Fully Intends' to Make 'Avatar 2 and 3' at Higher Frame Rates

  • 3D Viewers more "Engaged": the Mindlab International team at the Sussex Innovation Centre tested attention and engagement levels of people watching 3D Blu-ray and DVD video, and found the 3D watchers 29% more attentive. [poke me in the eye and I'm more attentive too; doesn't mean I want you to keep doing it - Edpocket-lint: 3D better than 2D, says your brain

  • Cowboyrs & Aliens; Drew McWeeny at HitFix got to see the first 40 minutes of this movie and thinks the director might have got it right: "Obviously, I haven't seen the whole film, but just from the time we spent with the director and based on what he had to say about his vision for the film, I'm feeling confident that it's going to be a serious attempt at adding something to both of those genres." HitFix: Jon Favreau shares 40 minutes of 'Cowboys & Aliens' in edit bay visit

News From Here & There

All your base are belong to us
Just a couple of months ago, when Google dropped H.264 support from Chrome in favor of WebM, John Gruber at Daring Fireball pointed out that one advantage H.264 still had was hardware video encoding available for mobile devices. Now Technology Review reports that the other shoe has dropped. Google has advised that:
New software has been released that can build [WebM] into dedicated chips for cell phones and other gadgets, perhaps the most crucial step before it can displace the proprietary video format that currently dominates.
TechnologyReview: Can Google Reinvent Web Video?
NotesOnVideo: Google to drop H.264 support from Chrome

Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 lenses coming for E-Mount
It had already been widely reported that Zeiss would release Micro Four Thirds mount versions of their CP.2 lenses, now comes word that they will release E-mount versions (this is not really a surprise either, as Sony announced Zeiss would be supporting the E-mount back in February.)
Even if you buy them with one mount, it's possible to change the mount at a later date.
Zeiss: Carl Zeiss introduces new mounts for Compact Prime CP.2 lenses
NotesOnVideo: Hardware & Software News

JVC GS-TD1 Review
David Elrich at Digital Trends takes a look at JVC's new 3D camcorder, the GS-TD1 [$1,699] and seems to like it. The camcorder can record 3D in two ways:
...the best one is the LR Independent format (MP4 MVC) that records in Full HD and lesser-quality AVCHD 3D Side-by-Side. With LR Independent, the camcorder records 1920 x 1080 left and right individual frames with no cropping. Side-by-side captures two 960 x 1080 frames that are compressed by half horizontally then combined side-by-side.
He does note that shooting in 3D takes a bit of getting used to, and that "the manual suggests you don’t use this camcorder in 3D while drunk."
DigitalTrends: JVC Everio GS-TD1 Review

Sony at NAB
The big broadcast video show is just a couple of weeks away and Beth Marchant at StudioDaily recaps the expected announcements from Sony, including an 8K (4k?) sensor, the large sensor NEX-FS100 and the weather resistant HXR-NX70U. StudioDaily: Sony's NAB Camera Lineup: Sensors Sell the Image
Meanwhile, Sony will be demoing a 4K camera:
Curtis Clark, ASC, takes you behind-the-scenes with the first footage of Sony's True 4K and beyond digital motion picture camera. Jim Houston of Colorworks will discuss the 4K DI post production workflow, and Ray Feeney will explain how this relates to the Academy's new IIF-ACES.
Sony: True 4K and Beyond

Quick Links
  • GoPro acquires CineForm. GoPro, maker of the wearable GoPro Hero camera has acquired the software video compression developer CineForm. According to the news release, the first GoPro product to incorporate CineForm’s technology is the soon to be released 3D HERO System which allows two 1080p HD HEROs to capture synchronized 3D photos and video. GoPro: GoPro, Leading Activity Image Capture Company, Acquires Award Winning Video Compression Software Company, CineForm, Inc

  • Nokia Shorts 2011 Mobile Film Competition
    Make a two minute pitch, and if you are one of the eight picked you'll get a $5,000 production budget and 2 Nokia N8s to make your movie. All films will premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival with the Nokia Shorts 2011 Jury Prize & $10,000 cash going to the best mobile motion picture. Vimeo: Nokia Shorts 2011

  • Motion Smoothing: Over at the ProLost blog, Stu Maschwitz says your TV may not be set up right. After talking about picture settings, he spends most of his time on Motion Smoothing, a feature found on most 120 and 240Hz sets. There's also some information about picture calibration (read the comments) ProLost: Your New TV Ruins Movies

  • Alexa Firmware V3.0: Audio Input and Timecode: Ian McCausland at Cine Technica looks at Version 3.0 firmware for the ALEXA that adds the ability to record audio to SxS cards and timecode can now be input via a sound recorder or a device such as the Ambient Master Clock. AbelCineAlexa Firmware V3.0

  • Canon T3i Review: The Digital Picture provides a fairly in-depth review of the Canon T3i/600D DSLR, primarily from the point of view of stills, but it does cover video features. "For someone buying their first DSLR or upgrading from a couple of models back, the Vari-Angle LCD and built-in flash controller make the T3i worth paying the premium over the T2i in my opinion." DigitalPicture: Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D Digital SLR Camera Review

  • Rigging a Panasonic AG-AF100. Production Junction shows how they kit out an AF100 for shooting using Redrock parts. They even total up the gear as it goes (reaching over $6,000.) Vimeo: RedRock Micro Advanced: AF-100 ENG Shooting

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shooting with the iPhone 4

I've been playing with the Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 4 lately, and the other week I decided to take it to the monthly meeting of Boston Media Makers and try and put together a short video record of the event. This was really the first time I'd shoot anything more than a few clips with either the iPhone 4 or the Steadicam Smoothee.

The results are mixed. Firstly, the Smoothee definitely improves the smoothness of the video. It's a lot more stable than if I hand hold the iPhone 4. On the other hand, the iPhone 4 on it's own is terrible; most modern video cameras with some sort of optical video stabilization will do a much better job than the iPhone 4.

Is optical image stabilization on a consumer video camera as good as the iPhone 4 with the Steadicam? I think it depends on what you are doing. If you're walking, the Steadicam is better - though not always perfect - but if you're stationary and just aiming the camera at different things, it's a toss-up. In some cases the iPhone 4 did better, and in some cases it was worse.

Definitely, the more time I spent with the Smoothee, the better I became; so maybe another few days of solid work with it and a reshoot would produce even better results. If nothing else, it will have trained me to avoid problem moves.

Moving past the Smoothee, this exercise reminded me that shooting with the iPhone 4 is a bit of a mixed bag.

iPhone Shooting Tips
Check your free space: If you're like me and fill up your iPhone with your iTunes library, you're going to have to take off  some material just to make sure there's enough free space for what you're recording.
Airplane Mode: Put the iPhone in Airplane mode; it will save power and stop any calls from interrupting you!
Restart Your iPhone: I recommend completely restarting the iPhone before any really important day's shooting. I've found that the Camera app has a tendency to do unexpected things; not switch from still to video mode, or freeze during startup, or not start recording immediately. This, of course, only happens when something important is going on!
Watch exposure: the auto mode in the Camera app is the biggest pain. You either need to be careful about lighting conditions; or use another app! (see below.)

Exposure Control
The thing that disappoints me the most about shooting with the iPhone is that while it can record very good quality video, it only does that IF the auto-exposure is working right. And whether it's working right depends upon lighting, subject, and what you tell it to focus on.

But if you are unlucky (which I found in my situation, was at least 75% of the time) you'll get a lot of wildly blown out video.

Now you can click on the iPhone 4 screen to get it to focus on a region of the image, and it will then adjust exposure based on that region. But pan the camera or have the subject move and the iPhone will recognize that the subject has gone, and will go back to fully automatic mode. One solution is to repress the screen during shooting, but you can't do this on a Steadicam Smoothee and keep the camera from wobbling (and you might even have problems if it's on a tripod.)

Net result; lots of blown out video.

So what to do? Well, I did what I often do when faced with terribly exposed video; turn it to black & white and let people think it was a creative choice!

One last tip, I've come across the app "almost DSLR" which let's you lock exposure and focus on the iPhone camera while shooting video. It works, but I have found it very hard to work with; the screen is filled with options that are lightly masked over the screen, and are almost unreadable (the screen shot doesn't really show how hard it is to read - and click - those buttons.)

If you're in the right situation - i.e. shooting something you can rehearse - then this will be a great addition; but for run and gun situations, it may be more trouble than it's worth.

NotesOnVideo: Steadicam Smoothee Unboxing & Initial Impressions
iTunes: almost DSLR
B & HSteadicam Smoothee for iPhone 4 [$179.95]
Amazon: Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 3GS [$179.95]
B & HSteadicam Flip Ultra Smoothee Mount  [$24.95] - not yet shipping

Quick Links

  • Operating Your Camera: In this article, Art Adams provides some wonderful tips and advice for any camera operator; even if you aren't regularly working with crews, and don't have a geared tripod head, keep reading, there's lots of useful advice. ProVideoCoalition: Random Tips from a Professional Camera Operator

  • Sony PMW-F3 in low-light: Euan Preston has posted a short video shot in city environments at night using the PMW-F3 (and graded in black & white) Vimeo: Sony PMW-F3 in Low Light

  • Another Sony PMW-F3 sample video, taken in Brisbane shot with Sony Primes at 720p 25p overcranked to 50 fps at 35Mb/ Vimeo: The Sunshine Coast - Sony PMW F3 Camera Test

  • Marshall Electronics V-LCD50-HDMI Portable Field Monitor Review. Videomaker likes the false colors filter and peaking, and really only criticizes one missing feature: "Since this product is targeted specifically to the DSLR user, HDMI is the only input option with this monitor and we think that at this price, an HDMI cable would be a nice addition to complete the package." Videomaker: V-LCD50-HDMI  B & H: V-LCD50-HDMI [$516.35]

  • Is Film School Worth It? Seth Hymes at No Film School thinks maybe not [could they be biased?! -Ed] but he offers some interesting thoughts and alternatives. "Not pictured in this shot are 2 New York Film Academy grads, also working for about $75 a day as PAs. I asked them both what they paid for school, and they said $30,000 for the one year program. I asked them if they wanted to make a movie and direct. They said yes. I asked them how they planned on doing that. They didn’t know." NoFilmSchool: Is Film School Worth It in 2011?

  • YouTube & Hollywood: Google is talking to Hollywood talent agencies with plans for YouTube channels on fashion, food, video games, etc. Hollywood makeover for YouTube

  • Do You Own The Rights? Interesting article from the Boston Globe about how a director hired a writer to write a script, and the writer wrote a book instead; who own's the film rights? Legal Thriller

  • Improving Your Online Videos: some suggestions on improving the quality of videocasts. "The content is the most important element, but how you tell the story may be just as important because it can either increase attention span or decrease it." IT.Enquirer: How to publish professional video stories

  • Backside Illumination Sensors: just a couple of years ago Sony came out with their EXMOR back-illuminated sensors, and now others are coming to the party. This article at CNET explains a bit about how they work and what's happening in the industry. CNET: Camera market flipping to new sensor technology and Sony has a web page that explains the technology. SonyExmor R

  • Are you backed up? In light of recent events in Japan, Philip Hodgetts wonders just how prepared for disaster his data is, and recommends off-site backups and other solutions: How Disaster Proof Are You?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This just in....

Vimeo has posted an iPhone app that is free, and includes basic editing functions. It's 20.1MB so you have to download through Wi-Fi or your computer (at least is you are using AT&T) Vimeo: It’s finally here: the OFFICIAL Vimeo iPhone app!

Canon 60D firmware update: Firmware v1.0.9 fixes bugs relating to Live View shooting in specific conditions. The latest version also changes name of the Art Filter feature in the Japanese market to Creative Filters keeping it consistent across all regions. CanonUSA: EOS 60D Drivers & Software

A little bit of Sony NEX-FS100 News

(have to keep my hand in.)

Philip Jonhston at HD Warrior got to interview Sony UK Product manager Bill Drummond about the camera. Philip makes it clear that he would have preferred Sony produce something like the HXR-NX5u (or a PMW-F1.5 as he describes it) rather than something that's shaped like a DSLR, and through on a PL-mount. Interestingly, Bill describes the NEX-FS100 as an outgrowth of the NEX-VG10, defends the E-mount - you can get an A-mount adapter - and says HDMI is becoming "more professional every day." He also says that the NEX-FS100 has manual gain from 0dB-30dB in steps of 3dBs.
We’re on a journey and we’ve been speaking to film makers for many many years in terms of what their requirements are and we take feedback from a wide range of different sources and I take your comment about the F1.5. If there is enough demand in the market we will make many different types of product for many different types of customers.
HDWarrior: SONY and the FS100 “Exclusive interview with Bill Drummond”

Comparing the Panasonic AG-AF100 and Sony NEX-FS100
A thread on the forum is supposedly comparing these two cameras, though most of it focuses on the NEX-FS100; seems like the lack of internal ND filters is the biggest complaint.
DVInfo: FS100 vs AF100

Why no ND Filter?
Which raises the question: why wasn't this included? One theory was that the E-mount didn't provide enough space to do it, though a second theory gaining traction is that the shape of the camera itself didn't provide enough space for them...

More from Andy Shipsides on the camera
Andy from Abel Cine previously posted a video about the NEX-FS100, and he has added some comments to the DVInfo thread (listed above):
Nigel [Cooper] makes some good points in his review about the body design and accessories, but they don't bother me because of the way I would use it. It would be pressed up to me like a Hasselblad, on sticks, or on a shoulder rig like an HDSLR. Also the accessories can be removed if you don't like them. I can understand the lack of ND being a problem for some. Who wants to buy a set of ND filters? I know Tiffen will be happy. As far as the buttons are concerned, I think you just need to feel the camera and see if it works for you. I know many DPs with fat fingers, and no one wants to use a dialing wand.

Really it comes down to image quality and the FS100 has a lot going for it in that way. Nigel says the image quality isn't as good as an EX1 or 3, which is true in terms of lines on a chart. But in terms of noise the sensor is much much cleaner, the same as the F3. And their are obvious advantages to the large sensor in terms of DOF.
DVInfo: FS100 vs AF100 Post # 11
CineTechnica: Sony’s New NXCAM Super 35 FS100

Another opinion
Dan Bruns, Associate Editor at Videomaker, provides his own inital impressions of the camera:
One of the most interesting features on the NXCAM was the ability to overcrank and undercrank footage while shooting in any frame rate. This means it's possible to capture footage with 24fps timecode, while shooting from one to 60 frames per second. We were able to test this feature and found that the quality of the overcranked 60fps footage in a 24fps timecode looked as good as slow motion on the show Time Warp.
Another very handy feature was being able to select either auto or manual modes for audio gain on the top of the camera body as well as a switch to give phantom power to one or both of the XLR inputs. Sony also included a switch that allows shooters to monitor either channel one only, both channels, or channel two only in order to make it easy to know what audio the operator is listening to.
Videomaker: New Gear: A Videomaker Exclusive "First Look" with Sony's NXCAM Super 35mm Camcorder

The State of 3D...

Will 2011 be the year of 3D?
Daniel Green at Little White Lies surveys the current state and future of 3D, noting some failures in one market:
Despite its well-intentioned efforts, Sky’s 3D opera experiment ultimately failed in recreating the experience of a live performance. [...] Once again, the inability of 3D (and film as a whole) to mimic the live operatic experience was all too obvious.
LittleWhiteLies: 3D Evolution – From Cash Cow To High Brow

And Yet...
The Film Blog at The Guardian notes that directors continue to embrace 3D, including Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh and Francis Ford Coppola;
Even Francis Ford Coppola, who once called 3D viewing "tiresome", despite repeatedly dabbling in the format, has reportedly included stereoscopic sequences in his forthcoming gothic chiller Twixt Now and Sunrise.
TheGuardian: 3D technology has even sceptical directors embracing another dimension

No, it's failing
Mike Jones thinks 3D is - and will be - a failure because it:
  • Doesn’t make the cinema experience better
  • Isn’t worth the cost
  • Most people Don't want it or Don't care
and he has some graphs showing declining revenue's from 3D releases to prove it. Perspectives on the Death of Stereo3D

Dolby introduces lighter, cheaper glasses for theaters. Engadget: Dolby introduces lighter, cheaper 3D glasses to better compete with RealD and IMAX

And Panasonic and XPAND 3D announced they have formulated M-3DI, a new standard for 3D active-shutter eyewear products that will bring about compatibility among 3D TVs, computers, home projectors and cinema projection. Panasonic: M-3DI Standard to Create Compatibility among 3D TVs, 3D Projectors and 3D Cinemas

And at home...
Watching Avatar in 3D at home on your Panasonic VIERATV? Here's James Cameron's "preferred" settings: Panasonic Avatar

And if you're thinking about buying a set, do you want a passive or active set? Seems like the passive set market is heating up. HD Wars: 3D Face-Off

BUT... looks like consumers don't care. According to the Media and Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), Best Buy reported that sales of Internet-connectable TVs and 3D TVs “did not materialize” as expected.
MESA: Best Buy: Slow Sales of Internet TVs, 3D Sets

[UDPATED - Added M3-DI Standards announcement]

Links From Here & There

Feed & Water Your Editors
A short piece at ProVideoCoalition looks at the Johnny CashHurt” music video directed by Mark Romanek, and how it changed between shooting and completion. The article goes on to suggest that the editor Robert Duffy was partly responsible for that:
A good editor can elevate your vision far beyond what the initial concept was, and this case is a very good example of that.
This reminded me of an interview with Romanek on NPR a few months back, where they also talk about the video, how it came about, and how it was shot (the relevant section starts at 17:00.) He also recounts that there was some concern amongst the family about the final video:
I didn’t talk to him after that. I know that Rick spoke to him and his family. They were very, very moved by the video, and they were very shocked by it’s candor, and there was some discussion about whether it was a good thing or a bad thing, and I was told that it was John who said, ‘no, it’s really good, let’s put this out, it’s okay. It’s the truth.’ And you know, there’s Johnny Cash for you.
Fresh Air NPR: Director Mark Romanek Tackles 'Never Let Me Go'
ProVideoColation: Editors: Quietly Making You Look Better Since 1903

Cinema & Journalism
Dan Chung of The Guardian, produced a video a week or so back about the Tsunami aftermath which prompted some negative reaction. I think that reaction can be summed up as; many felt it was overly cinematic and struck the wrong note for reporting on something so tragic and recent. Obviously, peoples objections - to slider moves and the choice of music- could be influenced by a lot of things, and with the tragedy still so close - and ongoing - it seems a little odd to even be mentioning the arguing about a single video about the event. But Dan has now posted his own response to these discussions, so it's worth revisiting briefly.
People will not like everything I do – some people may not like anything I do – and considered criticism has helped me improve my work. I am grateful to those who have spoken up for me, some of whom did not like this piece but respected my intentions. I feel there has been a valuable discussion around this video and despite some of the negative responses to it I still believe cinematic journalism is a way to involve audiences in world affairs more.
DSLRNewsShooter: Tsunami Aftermath video – my response to the debate

Sony PMW-F3 Impressions
Euan Preston gives his views of the Sony PMW-F3 after spending a few days shooting with it. He's generally happy with the camera and the image quality, and notes that if you're a Sony EX user, everything is where you'd expect it to be, with a few exceptions:
One of these exceptions is the Expanded Focus button which, for reasons which remain elusive, is to be found on the top right hand side of the body toward the rear. When shooting hand held it becomes necessary to grow a third arm in order to operate it.
He wasn't so happy with the LCD and viewfinder; the peaking function was unreliable, and expanded focus "didn't expand enough," and he found the build quality a bit lacking (plastic parts.)
EuanPreston: Sony PMW-F3 – My Impressions

Zeiss Compact Lenses
Jonathan Chema reviews Zeiss Compact Lenses after spending a weekend shooting with them:
For cinema lenses, they are super light! The focus markings are easily distinguishable, iris is super smooth, and focus rotation large. Traits you’d expect in a cinema lens- then again Zeiss has done something previously unachievable here. [...]
The 14 blade aperture creates a bokeh that's organic and pleasing to the eye.
He likes them, and while acknowledging that they might be a bit expensive for many DSLR users, he notes that they are somewhat "future-proof" because you can change the mount on them (if you end up changing cameras in the future.)
JonathanChem: Zeiss Compact Prime Review

Quick Links
  • RED EPIC-X Delayed due to problems in getting parts from Japan. "We still feel that we can deliver all EPIC-X orders by summer's end but it will be "back-end" weighted. April and May will be "light"." Reduser: Bad news...

  • Panasonic AG-AF100 with the Ki Pro Mini. Darren Abate over at the Panasonic AG-AF100 User Central blog has some interesting articles, including one on using the new Ki Pro Mini with the Panasonic AG-AF100.
    "Note the difference in the histograms between the two [AVCHD & Ki Pro] after the color move was applied. The frame that was recorded with the Ki Pro Mini held together nicely, while the AVCHD frame broke apart immediately."
    He does note that it gets hot: First Day with the Ki Pro Mini on my AF100

  • In Behind the Scenes: How to Make a Movie Trailer for Your Product (or Book) at FourHourWork, Tim Ferriss takes us through the steps in creating a trailer for the book The 4-Hour Body, the budget of which was $12,000. makes for interesting reading about the process, particularly the last-minute problems with rights clearance for the music.

  • Motorizing Your Slider After finding that he couldn't get consistent, constant speed movement with his slider, Weeliano decided to create his own do-it-yourself solution and documents the process (from starting with an electric drill, an idea which he quickly abandoned!) If you're "handy" this post may be for you: My Attempt to motorize my IGUS based slider

  • HDSR Shooting. Rick Sammon and David Leveen are going to be teaching an HDSLR workshop in New York this summer, and in this video they talk about a demo video they shot and how they did it. Vimeo: Rick and David talk HDSLR Behind the Scenes

  • YouTube Dominates Online Video Ad Business. Revenue could exceed $1.3 billion in 2011, which may be approximately 65% of the entire industry's revenue: VideoNuze

  • People are spending more time watching online video: On average, viewers of online video spent 4 hours 39 minutes watching in January, an almost 45 percent increase from the period a year earlier.
    NewYorkTimes: Caught Up in the Online Video Stream

  • Unsurprisingly, you have to wonder if the DVD is dead. Disc sales industry-wide are down about 15% year-over-year, but Disney CEO Bob Iger says “People are still buying [discs]. … They’re just not buying as many of them, and the primary reason, I would argue, is that they have other things to do.” HomeMedia Magazine: Iger: DVD Is Not 'Dead'

  • Shooting with a £380k Cineflex HD gyro stabilised carbon fibre turret. Robin Schmidt recounts shooting a boat race using an impressive - and expensive - piece of remote-controlled camera gear: ElSkid:Shooting The Boat Race With A Cineflex

  • Panoramic Video for News gathering. Dan Chung posts about a video process Danfung Dennis is experimenting with to capture a wider field of view (180 degrees?) that can then be projected onto the inside of a dome or played back in an interactive iPad app. It looks sort of interesting, though it reminds me of QuickTime Panoramas, and they never became more than a small niche. DSLRNewsShooter: Sundance winner Danfung Dennis previews Condition ONE – a DSLR based virtual reality system for news


Roger Ebert's 1987 Predictions
In 1987 Roger Ebert made some predictions about the future of movies to OMNI magazine. He did pretty well, predicting amongst other things:
We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it. You'll not go to a video store but instead order a movie on demand and then pay for it.
Read a recap at PaleoFuture: Ebert's Art Film Revolution (1987)

Sony PMW-F3 Sizzle Reel: Used to showcase the Sony F3 Camera at the launch event and the NAB Convention 2011

Sony F3 Sizzle Reel from Cassandra Brooksbank on Vimeo.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Documentary Shooting with the Panasonic GH2

by Jared Flesher

Notes on Video readers might be interested in my experiences shooting with a Panasonic GH2. I’ve been using it for about a month now shooting the trailer for my new documentary Sourlands, with the GH2 and the stock 14-42mm lens. I know there’s already been a lot written about the camera, but here are my two cents based on the experience so far. [Jared's previous documentary, the Farmer and the Horse, was shot on a Canon Vixia HD camcorder.-Ed]

For a $1,000 camera, I couldn’t be happier. The image quality of the Panasonic GH2 is superb.

I spent a lot of time when I first got the Panasonic GH2 tinkering with the different scene settings – Cinema, Smooth and Nostalgic, trying to figure out which one looks the best and most film-like. I’ve come to settle on Cinema mode, usually with the exposure stepped up one click.

A knock against Cinema mode has been that it tends to underexpose scenes. But Nostalgic ended up being too yellow for me (you can see some scenes in the trailer that are probably a tad too yellow) and the colors in Smooth tend to look a little washed out.

I don’t like the ETC (Extra Teleconversion) crop mode, which gives your lenses twice the zoom without losing resolution. In my tests, I’ve found that everything looks noisier in the crop mode; even well-lit shots.

The stock 14-42mm lens is excellent for the price. It operates silently and focuses fast enough and accurately enough for my needs. I don’t use the continuous auto-focus function with video (it hunts too much) but I do use auto-focus mid-scene to reset focus when my subjects move. It works great and is easier than manual focusing.

One big limitation of this camera is that it doesn’t have a headphone jack for audio monitoring. For some people that’s a deal breaker. For me, I’m not happy about it, but I can live with it. I plug my Sennheiser ME66 shotgun mic into a BeachTek XLR adapter, the BeachTek into a 3.5mm to 2.5mm right angle adapter, and the right angle adapter into the camera.

I use the on-screen meters and the knobs on the BeachTek to set the right levels. The results sound good. One thing I’ve discovered about shooting a one-man documentary is that you don’t want to be wearing headphones all the time anyway. They seem to isolate you from your interviewees.

Jared's funding the documentary Sourlands through Kickstarter, and is already half way to the $5,000 goal. You can check out the trailer he's put together, and support the project, here: Sourlands: A Story of Land, Energy and a Life More Local

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

Links from Here & There

Canon XA10 video review
I'm intrigued by the Canon XA10, and it's cheaper - and a bit stripped down - twin, the HF G10. The Camera Store has posted a video review of the XA10 that was made on an ice climbing trip; shooting snow and ice is a challenging environment for any camera.

Obviously the parts of the video with Chris talking are shot with another camera - he's holding the camera in his hands! - (a Canon 5D mark II with a Canon 17-40 F4L and Zeiss 50mm F1.4) Unfortunately, for the example video sequences they have also intercut video from a second camera with the XA10 footage (either the 5D or the Sony CX700) and it doesn't always match.

Frame from the video; snow can be hard to shoot

The snow shots often seem over exposed, which also made it hard for me to judge the camera. But then again, when shooting snow; do you expose for skin, or do you expose so you can see detail in the snow? [No! You buy a RED Epic and shoot in HDRx mode! -Ed]

I think the speaking shots - shot with the 5D - were some of the more uniformerly pleasing sequences in the video (the Sony CX700 - which can shoot 60fps - was used for the slow motion shots.)

All in all, I'm not too sure if it wasn't a little too challenging a shooting experience to evaluate the camera.
Vimeo: Canon XA10 Field Test with Sample Footage

A tiny bit of Sony NEX-FS100 stuff
Den Lennie has posted some photos from the focus group about the NEX-FS100 he participated in over a year ago. a result of that meeting, many of our suggestion were listened to and implemented. It is disappointing that there are no built in ND’s but then again the camera would have to be much bulkier to house them as a result of the super 35mm sensor and the small from factor was a key consideration for us.
FStopAcademy: Den’s Video Chat about the Sony NEX FS100 on Planet 5D

Canon 5D Native ISO
If you do much reading on shooting with HDSLRs or if you've seen Philip Bloom, Vincent Laforet or Shane Hurlbut talk about HDSLR shooting, you'll probably have encountered some of the standard advice on how to set up the camera; shoot in manual, what picture style to use, etc. One piece of gospel has been that the 5D has some "native" ISO's (160, 320, etc) and these are the ISO's that the camera shoots best in (produces the best picture with the least noise.)

Now comes Josh Silfen at Shootin' The Shot to explain that the native ISO's are actually 100, 200, etc,. He goes on to explain that the 125-multiple ISOs are the noisiest because they are derived by a digital exposure push. But the 160-multiple ones are:
...actually the cleanest not because they are "native", but because they are a result of a digital exposure pull. This pull brings down the exposure of the entire image, and hides much of the noise that would be visible at the next higher ISO.
Very interesting read!
Shootintheshot: Canon HD DSLR Native ISO

Quick Links
  • Scriptwriting; writing Lean. Sheridan at MyPDFScripts looks at the writing style of Walter Hill, and learns a lot about writing lean; "In the words of the late Mystery Man: the less you write, the more they’ll read." Writer’s Style: Walter Hill

  • Scriptwriting II: If you want to know what it's like developing scripts in Hollywood, this cartoon from Ruairi Robinson may explain it: People keep asking me what its like developing scripts in hollywood

  • Making music videos: Robin Schmidt (ElSkid) has written a series of articles on the process of music video production, right down to planning and budget. WHO WANTS TO MAKE MUSIC VIDEOS – PART 3

  • Colorist interview; Warren Eagles. Patrick Inhofer has posted the audio of an interview with colorist Warren Eagles who is a freelance Colorist in Australia and Asia and is a founding partner of the International Colorist Academy. Interview: Colorist Warren Eagles, Part 1

  • Using a Mirror to solve difficult shots. Roy Wagner describes the Mirror Gag; using a front surface mirror to solve some problem camera positions: Infamous Roy Wagner Mirror Gag

  • Indie Film promotion and distribution. The DIY Filmmnaking Sucks blog has had a series of articles on movie promotion including: "Secrets of Netflix distribution and revenue," "Secrets of Facebook and audience engagement," "The secrets of indie film release strategy" and "The two most important things in marketing an indie film."

  • Is that lens soft?: has an article about lens softness issues from Roger Cicala of that was originally written in 2008, and has been updated for 2010. I was expecting to read it and have him basically say that people who thought they had lens problems were talking rubbish. He sort of says that - a little - but then he gets into calibration issues, differences in tolerances, software corrections and by the end of it, I don't think reading this article made me feel that “This Lens is Soft” ... and other Myths

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sony NEX-FS100 Who said there wasn't anything more to say?

NotesOnVideo - home of the most obsessive coverage of the NEX-FS100 on the net!

Andy Shipsides at AbelCineTech has a good walkthrough video of the NEX-FS100. Absolutely worth watching because it highlights things not specifically mentioned elsewhere:
  • Where the manual iris, focus controls and expanded focus buttons are located
  • HDMI out is "very unique" (I think he means new) 1.4 spec, which supports 1080 60p output
  • Location of S & Q mode button (variable frame-rate mode)
  • HDMI stream has "hidden" time code so that external recorders can extract that.
  • I hadn't noticed that the two XLR inputs are on two different sides of the camera!
  • He said the touch screen on the LCD is "pretty responsive"
  • No microphone in the body, but does ship with the external microphone.
  • The side handle has a cable that plugs into the LANC control to connect the start-stop control on that handle to the body (which does add an extra cable floating about the body)
Andy talks about there being a hard drive mount on the right-hand side of the camera. I think that's actually an attachment for the HXR-FMU128 Flash Memory Unit (which holds 128GB of Flash Memory, and costs $649)

He also mentions that when outputting through HDMI at 60p it will flag the 24p frames. Peter Crithary, Marketing Manager for Production at Sony - @CineAltaNews has tweeted that the camera puts a 2:3 marker in the stream. [Note, I thought 2:3 was used when switching between 30 and 24fps].

Finally, to record the 60p HDMI signal, none of the existing recorders (i.e. Ninja or Ki Pro Mini) will support that. Andy references something coming, so probably Sony has another recorder coming, or he could mean the upcoming SR-R1 recorder from Sony (though I think that's going to be expensive.)
Cine Technica: Sony’s New NXCAM Super 35 FS100

What comes in the box?
Trusted Reviews suggests that the Kit model adds the zoom lens, viewfinder extension cover and shotgun microphone.

But the specs page at Sony's website clearly lists the microphone and VF tube for LCD as part of the non-kit model (i.e. the kit just adds the lens) Sony: NEXFS100U

The other major pieces appear to be the body, the side handle (with start-stop button) and the handle that the microphone attaches to. (Even though Sony's own brochure shows someone holding the camera by the microphone "handle," it does look rather awkward, and I'm not all too certain that's what it was really intended for. It would be interesting to hear from the design team about that!)
Trusted Reviews: Sony Launches NEX-FS100 Super 35mm Camcorder

Den Lennie posted a comment in my last post on the NEX-FS100. We'll ignore, for the moment, the fact that he seems to be operating under the misconception that I don't have a hidden agenda to increase traffic, and get straight to his point:
I have no need for a RED camera or an F35 because I don't shoot those kinds of jobs. But they are great tools for the right customers I do however own 3 dslr , am heavily invested in glass and accessories and I have an EX-1.

I have the tools to tell a story- the NEX FS100 would be a welcome addition to that tool box, I'd more than likely sell my EX-1 and replace it with this new camera because for promos and jobs that I might have used a dslr, I'd prefer a camera with camcorder controls.
NotesOnVideo: More Love (& Hate) for the Sony NEX-FS100

B & H lists the NEX-FS100 SUPER 35mm CAMCORDER w/LENS @ $6,550.00.
They list the NEX-FS100E Super 35mm Sensor Camcorder (w/out Lens) for $5,850.00
But you can't order; just have them notify you when it's in stock

Delivery is listed as: APPROX. ARRIVAL JULY