Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Goal of this Blog is NOT to Educate

In an interesting turn for documentarians, a US Tax Court Judge, Diane Kroupa, has suggested that documentaries mainly serve to educate rather than to make money. That assertion potentially relegates documentary filmmaking to the status of hobby in the view of the IRS. With such a ruling, expenses would no longer be tax-deductable, making any documentary maker subject to much higher taxes.

This was not a final ruling, but a statement made during the course of a hearing; the actual ruling is due in the summer.

The International Documentary Association has filed an amicus brief in the case, urging the US Tax Court to recognize that the production of a documentary film is, at its core, a “for profit” business such that business expenses are deductible for tax purposes.

While it makes sense that the IRS can rule ventures a hobby on a case-by-case basis, to right off a whole category of business as education - and therefore a hobby - seems like a big stretch. It might also be an interesting piece of news for the publishers of most newspapers. Does this mean anything connected to education is not done to make money?

IndieWire: If You’re a Documentary Filmmaker, You Could Owe the IRS a Whole Lot of Money
IDA Amicus Brief Filed in Support of Lee Storey/Doc Filmmakers
NothingButTheDoc: Doc News: Federal Judge Labels Documentary Filmmaking a Hobby; Freetown Christiania; YouTube

News From Here & There

This weekend is the CineGear show in LA. If you can't be there, Wide Open Camera is doing a pretty good job of covering the event. They have already posted video's with Steve Weiss of Zacuto, Ted Schilowitz of Red Digital Cinema, and Ali Ahmadi of O’Conner.

Entertainment Technology Expo New York
Createasphere's Entertainment Technology Expo will be held September 20-21, 2011 at The New Yorker Hotel, New York, NY. Over two days their will be panel discussions, seminars, and a technology show floor.
Free registration is open now.
Createasphere: Entertainment Technology Expo

GoPro HD Review
Ron Risman at CameraTown reviews the GoPro HD.
I do want to mention that the best use for a POV camera is to mount it in a place where movement will be smooth. I see way too many POV videos where the camera is mounted to the handle bar of a bike or helmet of a rider, and the video is so shaky that it makes you sick watching it. Trust me when I say that the only person who wants to watch your shaky mountain bike trail ride is you. One thing you should do is EDIT your final videos. Even shaky mountain bike videos have their smooth moments. Take these smooth portions of your video and edit them together into a piece that others will enjoy watching.
CameraTown: Review of the GoPro HD Motorsports HERO
Amazon: GoPro HD Motorsports HERO Camera [$238.94]

Screenwriting Tips
Xander Bennett posts daily tips on screenwriting:
Screenwriting Tip #647
You’re not writing down to idiots, and you’re not writing up to your betters. You’re writing for the reader, who you’ve got to assume is a person very much like you.
ScreenwritingTips: Screenwriting Tips... You Hack

The Mouse is Dead?
Not Mickey, the computer mouse. First the laptop trackpad, then the iPhone, then the Magic Trackpad; [in retrospect it seems Apple has been doing it's damnedest to kill the mouse for years], and now Microsoft joins the battle with Windows 8, which is designed for touch.
TechCrunch: Still Think The Mouse Isn’t Dead?

Somewhat related, there was one report that said the upcoming Final Cut Pro X will use gestures, (as will the new OS, Lion), and the following article explains how to use gestures with DaVinci Resolve.
Tao of Color GradingThe Cheapest Colorist Control Surface EVER!
Amazon: Apple Magic Trackpad[$65]

Q&A with Paul Antico
Mike Tomei interviews Paul Antico, the producer of the upcoming The Visualmakers, about the project and how it was shot:
Surprisingly, the best audio actually came from the show floor. No one expected this. We used the Sony UWP-V1 wireless mics which worked very well, but the key was mic placement. The mic is just out of frame right below the subject's mouth, which helped a lot.
MikeTomei: Q&A with The Visualmakers producer and director: Paul Antico

Sony A77 Rumors
It seems pretty certain that Sony will announce a new DSLR to replace the A700, and there's speculation that it may blow away the competition (i.e. Canon.) But at EOSHD they list the features that Sony really needs to add to their camera, including manual controls, removing interlacing and 24p support:
So to summarise – [remove] interlacing, 30p and high megapixel counts are the by-product of poor marketing, and not taking leadership of the market and forcing customers to adopt and understand better images.
Even if they do all that, don't expect this to be the NEX-FS100 in a DSLR body; the A77 will have a 24MP sensor, while the NEX-FS100 (and PMW-F3) use a much lower resolution sensor; having less data to get to a 1920x1080 image can be a good thing! Expect the A77 to probably exhibit more moire issues, and/or slightly lower apparent resolution (probably.)
EOSHD: Sony A77
SonyAlphaRumors: An “emotional” SR5 rumor (A77 is top notch!!!)

Sony PMW-F3 S-Log Firmware news

On Thursday, Sony released the firmware update v1.1 for the PMW-F3. It's free, and includes the following enhancements: Dual Link HD-SDI output 4:2:2 10bit 1080 23.98/ 25/ 29.97PsF, Planning Metadata, S&Q Wheel as a Menu Dial, and ND Adjustment.

The firmware also includes the capability for S-Log gamma mode, 3G-SDI output, Dual Link 444 RGB video output, custom user LUTs and pre-loaded LUTs (look up tables). BUT you have to buy the CBK-RGB01 upgrade key, which is now available for order from several retailers for $3,680. (I've checked and two retailers are stating that delivery will take about three weeks.)

B & H: Sony RGB444 & SLOG SOFTWARE F/PMW-F3K/L [$3,680]

CineTechnica: Andy Shipsides of Abelcine has written up a short piece on the functionality (both free and paid for) in the v1.1 firmware: New Sony PMW-F3 Firmware V1.1 Released

Friday, June 03, 2011

Free firmware v1.10 for PMW-F3 is now available

According to Sony, it takes about half an hour to update the camera:

Sony: PMW-F3 Firmware Version 1.1

The details of what's included are listed here: CineAlta Blog: PMW-F3 New Firmware Information

Tips for the Filmmaker

People Don't like Short Films
Guy Ducker wonders why people don't like short films, and comes up with three reasons:
  1. Chances of a short making some money – moderate
  2. Chances of a short making all its money back (depending on the budget) – small to tiny
  3. Chances of a short turning a meaningful profit – too low to calculate.
He then explains why you should still make one:
Short films can genuinely help your career. Come up with a strong idea, get the script right, cast it well and get good performances and your film will soar above most of the competition.
TalesFromTheCuttingRoomFloor: People Don't like Short Films

Working with Green Screens
Julie Babcock at Videomaker offers a tip for improving your Green Screen technique:
The trick to selling any effect is to match the light on your set to the light of the background plate. Choosing your background prior to starting production will allow you to plan your lighting design accordingly.
VideoMaker: Make your Green Screen Lighting More Believeable

Larry Jordan's Tips
Larry offers ten tips for improving your video. This is perhaps the best one:
10. Don’t try to make your video “perfect.” Just focus on making each video you do better than the last one. Larry’s Ten Tips for Improving Your Video

Helping the Audience understand
Jim Owen's tells directors that they have to be careful not to distract - or bore - their audience:
The director’s goal is to help the viewers understand, to guide their thoughts, whether the scene is describing a technical process or telling a joke. The director does not want to confuse or distract them by irrelevancies. It is important to present a logical sequence of ideas that the audience can easily follow.
MasteringFilm: Don’t Distract Your Audience

How to become a Background Actor
This article covers how to get a job, as well as dealing with SAG, and the difference between being a non-union extra and a union extra:
SAG’s website currently makes reference to only the “3-voucher” system as to how non-union B.A.s can qualify for membership in SAG. A voucher is merely an authorized time card given to the B.A. from the production company. To become a union B.A., you must earn three vouchers from SAG signatory productions. Once you achieve this magic number, you can apply for membership by filling out an application and submitting your original paycheck stubs.
NewEnglandFilm: Extra, Extra: How to Become a Background Actor

Alternatives for Distributing your movie online
Another article at New England Film looks at digital film distribution, and focuses on alternatives to iTunes and Netflix, such as Dynamo Player, Distrify and EggUP, and Yawm, services which might be a better solution for small films:
While all the services expressed concern about piracy, digital DIY distribution is its own anti-piracy effort in some ways. “Distrify is built on the philosophy that if something is made available at a fair price, people will buy it rather than pirate it,” explained Distrify’s Gerard. “What we want to encourage is micro-businesses among film lovers.” Dynamo Player CEO Rob Millis echoed this idea, saying, “The biggest protection we have against piracy is making it easy to pay for something of quality.” And, he added, “Most people want to pay for content.”
NewEnglandFilm:Digital DIY Distribution: Another Way to Be Heard

The reality of low-budget filmmaking
Mike Vogel writes that "after making two nanobudget movies (The Waiting List & Did You Kiss Anyone?), I realize that some of the impressions I had about filmmaking were a bit glamorized. So I made this handy, printable chart…" Highlights include:
IMAGINE: Discussing how to employ chiaroscuro lighting techniques with your Director of Photography.
ACTUALLY: Lighting with round paper lanterns you bought at Ikea.

The latest Final Cut Pro X Prediction

[UPDATE Jun 5 7:00PM -
Philip Hodgetts thinks it will be June 21st, though it seems this is based on when "Spring" ends:
In Feb, invitees got told "Spring". At NAB they said "June". The latest it can be is June 21.. 

I've been trying to decide whether Apple will release - or even show - Final Cut Pro X at the World Wide Developers Conference next week. I'm starting to think that they may do neither; it's not like the World Wide Developers Conference is a huge video editors event. It just seems the wrong location to roll it out. Which suggests that they may roll it out a week or two after the WWDC at the earliest.

There's one exception to that prediction; if there's something they haven't told us about it...some tight integration existed with either Lion, iOS or iCloud - or all three. If you can seamlessly work with content on iCloud, that might provide a compelling reason for going "and by the way, here's the update to our video editing application" during the keynote. They might show it.

But face it; with a new OS, new iOS, and iCloud to cover, any reference to Final Cut Pro X is going to be less than five minutes; otherwise the keynote is going to last the best part of a day.

Of course, I also predicted that Apple wouldn't show or announce an update to Final Cut Pro at NAB. On a technicality, I was right - they didn't demo or announce it at the NAB show - but in reality, I couldn't have been more wrong.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

PMW-F3 New Firmware Information

Sony has posted more information about the free v1.10 firmware update for the PMW-F3, as well as the features which are activated with the "CBK-RGB01 optional cost-based software key."

The free update includes:
  • Dual Link HD-SDI output
  • 4:2:2 10bit 1080 23.98/ 25/ 29.97PsF*

The paid update includes:
  • RGB4:4:4 10bit, 1080 23.98/ 25/ 29.97PsF output on the Dual Link HD-SDI or 3G-SDI.
  • S-LOG Gamma output on the Dual Link or 3G-SDI.
  • Switching HD-SDI Dual Link and 3G-SDI.
CineAlta Blog: PMW-F3 New Firmware Information

News From Here & There

Adobe After Effects: Warp Stabilizer, synthesize edges
Steve Forde, Senior Product Manager for Adobe After Effects provides a tutorial on a feature of the Warp Stabilizer called Synthesize Edges.

Synthesize Edges fills in spaces at the edges of the frame created when the Warp Stabilizer manipulates the frames to stabilize the motion. It does this using frames before and after the current frame. BUT, what others discovered is that you can use it for object removal; say you want to remove someone from a scene. This short tutorial shows you how.

NOTE: Steve mentions that this is not quite the same as Content Aware Fill in Photoshop - the technology is different, though he also says it was developed by the same engineers. As he also says, while it's not perfect, a little improvement could make this function even more useful...
Amazon Blogs: Warp Stabilizer - Redux

Adobe Premiere Pro 
Scott Simmons looks at the Speech Analysis tool that was new in CS4, and has been improved in CS5.5. Your results may vary:
The accuracy was far from perfect but appeared to be noticeably better than the couple of times I tried to used transcription in CS4. The accuracy depends a lot on the quality of the interview itself. Noisy backgrounds, fast talkers and speakers who don’t enunciate will all reduce accuracy. My interviews contained a producer asking questions off camera and the interviewer audio was, as expected, pretty much useless. The interview subjects were non-professional talent but they were mic-ed well and the accuracy was good enough that I used it as a starting point for my transcriptions.
ProVideoCoalation: Adobe’s Speech Analysis is still chugging along in Premiere Pro CS5.5

Canon 5D Mark III Rumors
Canonrumors prints a report that Canon might be considering releasing a Canon 5D Mark III for video, and one for stills. Obviously they'd have different names - maybe the 5D Mk III and the 3D? - but the idea of splitting the video functionality into separate product lines is an intriguing one. Perhaps the biggest problem manufacturers have with the DSLR design is that it's "handicapped" by being a stills camera; i.e. some things you might do to reduce moire in video would reduce the resolution of the stills. Also, adding any feature adds costs, so many times the question is; do you add an extra feature for X% of customers that will cost all customers $Y more?

As we speculate wildly, one thing we also don't know is what percentage of 5D Mark II buyers are buying it primarily for the video capabilities. At one point a year or so ago I thought someone quoted a number of about 7%, but I have no idea how accurate that is, and I would not be surprised if the number was actually much higher.

But is it high enough to justify a separate camera? And if you start making a separate camera for video, do you keep the DSLR body, and DSLR limitations, or do you go mad and re-engineer it into something like the NEX-FS100 or RED Scarlet (or if you're Canon, the XF305 with a big chip?)

Or do you start down that road and after a bit of thinking decide you've gone too far, and go back to having a very good still camera that does a pretty good job of doing video?

And is the video division - much like Sony and Panasonic before them - already working on a big-chip version of the XF305?

And if Canon decides to now come out with a 5D Mark III that's a little more video-proficient, but is still not a video camera like the XF305 is a video camera, is it too-little too-late? Canon must be looking at those "DSLR Killers" - the NEX-FS100 and AG-AF100 - and wondering whether the size of the pro market for DSLR video cameras has now shrunk. While I suspect that the market for the lower priced DSLRs remains strong amongst budget filmmakers, I wonder if a lot of the people on bigger budgets who were buying the 5D Mark II haven't already jumped to the AG-AF100 and NEX-FS100?

The last unknown; does Canon have a trick up their sleeve? If they could improve the image quality to the level of the PMW-F3 for $2,500, the camera would still sell well. If it's little improved over the 5D Mark II, then I suspect sales - to video makers - will plunge.

While I sit here speculating about when Final Cut Pro X ships, this gives me something else to think about. The Future of the 1Ds & 5D Lines [CR2]

Spiderman being shot with Red EPIC
The latest Spiderman installment is being shot with the new Red EPIC camera, and Jim Jannard of RED writes about going to see a screening of some footage;
John Schwartzman was there and we talked a bit before going into the screening room."This is the best looking footage I have ever shot... these are the best images I have ever seen!" was his comment. I asked him if this was just his enthusiasm spilling out or if this was actually the case (pretty big statement). He thought for a few moments and said "No, really... this is the best footage I have ever seen from any camera. Ever."

[...] I have to say that we were all stunned. Shocked. So incredible. Not like RED ONE MX. Not like anything we had seen from another camera. Same resolution and feel of our new EPIC reel, but with actors and a story and Schwartzman's ability to light.

The consensus in the room (to a person) was that this looked like film. Like 65mm film. Better. Without any trace of film's blocky detail in shadows or grain. Jaw dropping.
Reduser: IMPORTANT Spiderman update...

Creative Commons on YouTube
Starting today, YouTube will offer the option to license videos with the Creative Commons CC-By-3.0 license. As part of the Creative Commons launch on YouTube, you'll also be able to mark any or all of your videos with the Creative Commons CC BY license that lets others share and remix your work, so long as they give you credit.
BoingBoing: YouTube introduces Creative Commons option for uploaders, remixers

What Do You Invent After The Flip Camera?
A better grilled cheese, evidently. Jonathan Kaplan, the inventor of the Flip video camera, has started a chain of technology-enhanced grilled cheese sandwich stores.
I don't like grilled cheese sandwiches.
Mashable: Why Flip Video’s Inventor Is Starting a High-Tech Grilled Cheese Empire

Canon Filmmakers Gets Closed Down
Someone evidently objected to the name. I wonder who?
CanonFilmmakers: All Good Things Must Come To An End

Citizen Reporting
Finally, last night a band of bad weather sped through Massachusetts, bringing with it tornadoes that did quite a bit of damage and killed at least four people. Nothing on the scale of the damage that happened in Missouri, but this sort of thing doesn't usually happen around here, so it was a little unnerving as we waited it out in the basement. My thoughts go out to those hurt, injured, or who lost loved ones.

Afterwards, we watched some of the coverage on a local news station which played video and displayed photos sent in by viewers. It's amazing how rapidly material gets on the air now, particularly material from those other than reporters. It's something we almost take for granted, yet it was mostly a novelty even four years or so ago.

If you find yourself in the situation where history is taking place around you, I guess it's now natural to take out your cell phone and capture it. Just be careful. And as Michael Flanagan advises:
People! turn your iPhones to landscape orientation while you run for your life from the tornado while screaming and shooting video!

Are you ready for Final Cut Pro X?

Are you ready for Final Cut Pro X? Here's your check list:
[ ] Do you have a Mac?
Seriously, if you have Windows and were thinking Final Cut Pro X would be released for Windows, think again!

[ ] Do you have a Mac with an Intel Core Duo 2 processor or better?
You better, because it won't run on the Core Duo*

[ ] Do you have Snow Leopard?
You have to have Snow Leopard.
If you're still running Leopard, then maybe you should wait until June 6th for the World Wide Developer's Conference, when Apple will explain when Lion will arrive, and how much it will cost. You might want to save the $30: Mac OS X version 10.6.3 Snow Leopard

[ ] Do you have at least 10GB free on your application/systems disk?
We don't know how big the package will be, but it's a good guess that if you have less than 10GB free on your hard drive, you're going to have to do some tidying up before you can install. Even 10GB might not be enough...

[ ] Do you have an Apple account?
You'll need one to buy it through the App Store...if you have an iTunes account, that's the same thing. If you've been avoiding iTunes like the plague, you'll have to set one up.

[ ] Do you have $299 available on your credit card?
That's what they say it will cost. Plus State tax.

[ ] Do you have patience?
We still don't know when in June it will be released.

We also don't know if it will be before or after the release of Lion. And while we've been told that Lion won't be required to run Final Cut Pro X, there is a possibility that Lion will be announced and available at the World Wide Developers Conference before Final Cut Pro X.

Why is that significant? It's significant because there are rumors that Lion will be released through the App Store too. Whichever comes first; whether it's the release of Final Cut Pro X, or Lion at the App Store, one of those two things will be the first time the Apple App Store service will really be challenged by lots of people trying to download a big amount of content at the same time.

Now I'm sure Apple has it all together, and there won't be problems like there were that time they rolled out the iPhone 3G... But just in case, you know, be prepared for it to take a while to get a hold of Final Cut Pro X even when it's finally released.
See also: NotesOnVideo: Final Cut Pro X @ the May BOSFCPUG & BOSDLSR Mixer

* If you only have a Core Duo II, you might want to consider getting a Mac with more core's, because finally Final Cut Pro X can make use of them using Grand Central Dispatch.

[UPDATE: Corrected date of WWDC to 6th]

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Panasonic AG-AF100 vs Sony NEX-FS100 Smackdown!

Yesterday, Filmmaker Sebastian Wiegärtner posted to his Twitter account the following question:
Panasonic AF101 or Sony FS100? Which one would you buy?
In the space of a couple of hours he got fifteen responses:
11 people voted for the NEX-FS100 (three of them noting they'd already ordered one!) The better image quality, low light performance and dislike of the AG-AF100's 2.0 crop factor were sighted as reasons for going with the NEX-FS100

1 person said the AG-AF100 was still a good value for the money, even though the crop and low-light performance were the biggest issues against it 

1 person would go for either, though he liked the Micro Four Thirds sensor and mount of the AG-AF100

1 person voted for the AG-AF100 because "The AF100 feels like a camera. The Sony is a plastic box. [...] The AF100 has a few more features"

And 1 person said they are both sh$t "4:2:0 cameras that are fine on Youtube but really aren't acceptable"

B & H: Sony NEX-FS100
B & H: Panasonic AG-AF100

News From Here & There

You Don't Need A Light With This Camera
Rick Darge took the Sony NEX-FS100 out at night, no extra lights, and got spectacular results in low light at -30db (that's reportedly the equivalent of 16000 ISO!).
This camera can 'see' in the dark better than the human eye can. Used 2 Canon k35 Superspeed PL lenses. An 18mm T1.5 and a 24mm T1.6. Picture Profile was set to CinemaGamma2. Detail was shaved off by 3 points. Contrast was lowered by 3 points as well. Used the MTF PL adapter.
Vimeo: Sony FS100 - 30db Night-time Test
CineTechnica: Sony FS100 Ratings and Dynamic Range

Speaking of the NEX-FS100, Mitch Gross of AbleCine posted a photo of NEX-FS100's waiting to be shipped!: yfrog

Overcranking the PMW-F3
Greg Hren shows what you can do over-cranking the PMW-F3 with a short video made in Wompatuck State Park, MA
Vimeo: Behind the Scenes: Vol 24 Overcranking the Sony F3

The End Of Film
Just last week I was speculating wildly about the end of film in a conversation with a friend, and here comes Ben Dobbin from the AP with an article about just that topic:
Equally startling has been the plunge in film camera sales over the last decade. Domestic purchases have tumbled from 19.7 million cameras in 2000 to 280,000 in 2009 and might dip below 100,000 this year, says Yukihiko Matsumoto, the Jackson, Mich.-based association's chief researcher.
Film will mostly be gone by the end of the decade.... How much longer can photographic film hold on?

A Rough And Tough Camera
The Sony NEX-FS100 has pretty much sucked all of the oxygen out of the HXR-NX70 announcement, a small ruggedized camcorder which could be the perfect choice for those routinely shooting in wet and dusty condiitons. It's interesting to note that to receive IPX54 certification it had to:
...stand up to 8 hours of agitation in a dust test chamber plus 10 minutes of continuous water flow from 25 different spray nozzles in a spray water test.
CineTechNews: Sony HXR-NX70

Editing "Thor"
An article in the latest issue of Editors Guild Magazine features Paul Rubell, the editor for the movie Thor. Much of the article focuses on the movie itself, and interaction with the movies director; Kenneth Branagh. There's also some notes about the 3D conversion.
Rubell also discusses the numerous hurdles in editing Thor: “The biggest challenges were juggling the range of tones and settling on the right amount of back story needed to jump into a complex mythological world.” As an example, he offers, “In the comics, Thor’s warrior friends were very broadly drawn, even bordering on slapstick at times. We spent quite a lot of time modulating this in the film. And we eventually added a kind of prologue, which sets the historical scene so that the audience doesn’t have to work quite so hard to catch up with the story and characters.”
EditorsGuild: May the Norse be with You

Scriptwriter? Get Thee A Manager!
John August is skeptical himself, but he had Justin Marks - a scriptwriter who comparatively recently came to his success - explain why he believes having a manager is a good idea for a scriptwriter:
Here’s the thing about the writers who say you don’t need a manager: chances are they “broke in” during a very different era. As early as five years ago, there were better DVD sales, a writers’ strike that hadn’t yet happened, and far more studios willing to spend far more money on the development of scripts.

Today, not so much. There are fewer screenwriters being paid to do what they do. Even if you’re an established writer, it means doing a lot more work for free, competing with a lot more writers for assignments, and accepting significantly less than your quote for the assignments you get.
JohnAugust: Get a manager

Keeping It Real
Filmmaker Paul Anitco - who's currently finishing up The Visualmakers about filmmakers taking advantage of low-cost digital tools - offers three tips for inspiration:
People want to see something they can relate to in their heart, in their mind’s eye as possible and real. Even in fantasy or scifi genres, what you might think couldn’t be “real” certainly can feel that way if you keep your style and methods honest, true, and close to the core that is you personally as a filmmaker.
MasteringFilm: Three Ways to Keep Your Film Real

Rule Workshops for June include Sony NEX-FS100

This months LearningLab Series at Rule Boston Camera look interesting, with Lighting, Transitioning from Stills to Video and the Sony NEX-FS100 amongst the topics.

Learning Labs:

June 8 - Lighting From ARRI
ARRI's Jane Rein presents the new Arrilite 750 Plus and 2000 Plus, the efficient LoCaster A2 LED and the L-7 LED Fresnel

June 15 - Transitioning From Stills to Video
Boston-based commercial photographer Greg Hren shares stories and insight into his transition from still photography to video image capture and how best to straddle both worlds successfully.

June 22 - The Teradek Cube
Rule's Tom Talbot presents the Terdek Cube, the world's first camera-top streaming HD video transmitter.

June 29 - Sony's New NEX-FS100
Sony presents the newest member of the NXCAM family, the FS100 with Super 35 CMOS Sensor.

All sessions run from 10am - 12 noon.
R.S.V.P. to

It's $^@%@& June already, Where's FCPX!!!

It's countdown to Final Cut Pro X, and since today is June 1st, many people are already considering it late!
It's June in two and a half hours!

Hey Colorists, are you worried that FCPX and color matching will put you out of business? ;)
New predictions are appearing hourly:

Condemnation Films on Twitter says that it will be released this week so that the release isn't overshadowed by the fun and games of the World Wide Developer Conference next week. They also predict that Compressor is part of FCPX, but SoundTrack Pro and multi-cam are gone, BUT capture from tape is still there.

The prediction about SoundTrack Pro and Log & Capture are interesting because they are the opposite of what Philip Hodgetts was predicting last week. It will be interesting to see who's right! (see: NotesOnVideo: Final Cut Pro X @ the May BOSFCPUG & BOSDLSR Mixer)

Meanwhile, Philip has published an article explaining why Final Cut Pro X uses metadata, and also why people should use it:
Metadata driven automation is something that highly established editors well into their career tend to not want, while those in short term, faster turnaround jobs tend to appreciate it more. When demonstrating our First Cuts software the response of editors with traditional experience is generally kind of negative; but the response from those earlier in their career, or who have tight turnaround, is more “Thanks for providing these great tools”.
PhilipHodgetts: Why did Apple base Final Cut Pro X on Metadata?

The website takes a short walk back in time: On the eve of FCP's biggest month, we thought we would take a look back to FCP in 2003 (and beyond!)

And there's now a Facebook group for Final Cut Pro X

anyone stocking up on cheap non upgradable Academic ver of FCS 3 just for the rest of the pro apps ? haha

[And yes, we've set this to publish at 1:00AM just incase Apple goes and releases it in the morning and ruins the headline! - Ed]

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Three Day HDDLSR Filmmaking class with Gale Tattersall

CreativeLIVE is offering a 3 day workshop July 8, 9 & 10 with cinematographer Gale Tattersall. It's free to watch live (registration required), and/or you can buy the recording of the event for $99 (until July 8th, after that, it's $149.)

CreativeLIVE have done similar events with Vincent Laforet, so it will be interesting to see how this one goes. The enrollment page contains a tentative schedule for the event. NOTE: Times are Pacfic (i.e. each day starts at 1pm Eastern)

ENROLL FREE: HDDSLR Filmmaking with Gale Tattersall
BIO: Gale Tattersall has been at the forefront of pushing HDDSLR’s in Hollywood. He is currently the Director of Photography for HOUSE, which airs Monday Nights on FOX, and last year filmed the entire season 6 finale of HOUSE using the Canon 5DMII. As a cinematographer Gale has photographed major motion pictures such as The Commitments, Ghost Ship, Pushing Tin, Wild Orchid, Tank Girl, and The Addams Family.

Should you buy the Sony NEX-FS100 Kit Lens?

The Sony NEX-FS100 is available in two configurations:
But what does that extra $600 get you? It get's you this:
This lens is also available separately for $799.99, so at $200 off you'd think everyone would be jumping on it.
But not so fast...

In his article about switching from the Canon 5D Mark II to the Sony NEX-FS100, Paul Antico at Need Creative says of the kit lens:
7) Its 18-200 F3.6-6.3 kit lens absolutely sucks and should be avoided (thankfully, you can order it without one) [1]
But is it that bad?

At B & H's site, 43 reviews give it an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars. That's not a bad rating, though many of these people are using it for stills, and the most common complaint noted is how large and heavy it is. Of course this feeling of size would be exacerbated when you put it on a tiny camera like the NEX-5. Still, the "Most Liked Negative Review" says:
This lens features very good build quality and good optics. It is worlds better than the other two currently available E-Mount lens from Sony. This lens lives up to the excellent sensor in the NEX-3/5.

Back in October I got to play briefly with the Sony NEX-VG10, which comes with the same lens, and had this to say about it:
The first thing that surprised me was how stiff the zoom lens is. I was expecting it to be a bit stiff; maybe like the Canon zoom lens I have on my HDDSLR, but it's much worse than that. Really unusable to zoom while shooting. Sure, using the zoom in narrative work is discouraged, but in documentary and other forms you often use a zoom now and again. [2]
Not everyone has had the same experience though, and maybe I was being overly picky; or maybe it was a bad sample, or maybe it improves over time as you use it... Still, I've seen others complain about how stiff it is.

Over at Luminous Landscape, they reviewed the NEX-VG10, and had this to say about the lens:
This lens is quite excellent. [...] What I saw during my three days of field testing was excellent resolution and high contrast combined with a low level of aberration.

The lens is mechanically very smooth, with fly-by-wire focusing and mechanical zooming. The zoom is reasonably smooth, but can't really compare with a motorized zoom, and thus the lens should really be regarded as variable focal length rather than one to be used for zooming while filming. No big loss.

The real story on this lens, particularly for video shooting, is the built-in Active Stabilization. [3]

Den Lennie, in an online chat about the NEX-FS100 said:
It's a solid piece of glass with a metal housing, very nice optical quality and resolving power. For shooting outdoors it’s a very good lens. Only f3.5 though, so indoors a little slow, but we used a Alpha 50mm f1.4 for the majority of "Vertigo," and the 16mm f2.8 Sony E mount - the 50mm f1.4 was under £400. [4]
Not exactly shouting from the roof-tops, but not totally dismissive, either.

And reviewed the lens (on an NEX-5) and found:
The optical quality is on a very decent level. It is not a flawless lens, of course, but the resolution figures are very fine in the lower portion of the zoom range and still good beyond. The distortion characteristic is about average for a lens in this class. The Sony lens produces a surprisingly low amount of vignetting even at "large" aperture settings (even in RAW images). The primary weakness of the lens are the lateral CAs at 18mm and 200mm although that's also rather typical for such lenses. [5]

It's true that most people don't like how slow it is (f/3.5 at it's widest, f/6.3 at it's worst.) This is the most often cited criticism in user reviews of the lens and camera on different web sites.

The other thing not mentioned that I personally don't like about it is how long it gets when zoomed - it really extends out of it's tube!

But if not that lens, then what do you get? There's very few E-mount lenses available, so your best bet seems to be to use the Sony NEX-Alpha mount adapter - which costs $149 - and use Sony Alpha lenses, or get a Nikon to E-mount adapter and buy Nikon mount lenses.

Philip Johnston clearly has this in mind for his FS100, and has ordered a Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 lens which costs $1,500; more than twice the price of the Sony lens, and 1/4 of the focal length range. Still, I bet it's a nice lens.
I decided to plum for the Nikon 17-55 F2.8 DX zoom lens as my standard lens on the AF101 which gives a crop equivalent to a 34-110 lens and the new Sony FS100, once again the Sony Super 35mm chip is almost the same size of the APS-C sensor so your choice is so much bigger. [6]
Don't forget, for the Nikon lenses you'll need an adapter like one of these:
There are cheaper adapter choices, but I'd be wary of cheap adapters; several people have had problems with the inexpensive adapters becoming loose after a short period of use.

If you don't like the price of that lens, these seem to be the cheapest alternatives:
Sony also offers lenses, though the only bargain zoom lens with a low aperture is the SAL-2875 28-75mm f/2.8 SAM Constant Aperture Zoom Lens, which sells for $799.99. There is a SAL-70200G Zoom AF 70-200mm f/2.8 APO G(D) SSM Autofocus Lens for $1,799.99.

When you look at the choices, the Sony kit lens starts to look better. Why not buy that as a general purpose lens, and then get a couple of fixed focal length lenses like Den Lennie did?

For outdoor shooting and ENG shooting, it isn't a bad lens. Ultimately, whether this lens is good for you depends on the type of shooting you do. Even if Sony isn't over-charging for the lens, if you're never going to use it, that's $600 you can put towards a lens you want.

BUT the kit lens covers a wide range of focal lengths, it doesn't require an adapter, and it supports optical image stabilization.  For those three reasons, and for the kind of shooting I do, I'd buy the kit version of the NEX-FS100 with the lens.

  1. NeedCreative: Good-Bye HDSLR For Me! Sort Of. A Look At The Sony NEX-FS100
  2. NotesOnVideoSony NEX-VG10 in the flesh
  3. LuminousLandscape: Sony NEX VG10 HD Camcorder / 14MP Stills Camera Field Report 
  4. NotesOnVideoSony Chat on the NEX-FS100
  5. Photocine.deSony E 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS (Sony NEX) - Review / Lens Test Report
  6. HDWarriorLenses Revisited “Your options are limited being a Canon owner”

Quick Links

Sunday, May 29, 2011

News From Here & There

Canon 5D Mark II Firmware Update 2.0.9
  1. Improves writing/reading speeds when using UDMA 7-compatible CF cards.
  2. Fixes a phenomenon where the IS function will not work when custom function C.Fn III-2 is set to [5: IS start] and the lens attached does not have an AF stop button. This is because custom function C.Fn III-2 allows users to assign IS start to the AF stop button on the lens
  3. Corrects misspellings in the menu screens displayed in Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai languages.
CanonAsiaEOS 5D Mark II, Firmware Version 2.0.9 [Windows] via

3D Movies Not So Hot
Another report that 3D is not doing so well at the theaters:
Ripples of fear spread across Hollywood last week after “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” which cost Walt Disney Studios an estimated $400 million to make and market, did poor 3-D business in North America. While event movies have typically done 60 percent of their business in 3-D, “Stranger Tides” sold just 47 percent in 3-D. “The American consumer is rejecting 3-D,” Richard Greenfield, an analyst at the financial services company BTIG, wrote of the “Stranger Tides” results.
But, 3D is still doing okay overseas!
NewYorkTimes3-D Starts to Fizzle, and Hollywood Frets

Don't Buy/Renew MobileMe?
The Unofficial Apple Weblog says not to renew MobileMe in the next ten days as Apple might announce something new at the World Wide Developer Conference.

I'd say it's plausible....except that for more than six months this same rumor that Apple will change MobileMe has floated around the web; so it could be a year from now, it could happen tomorrow...
TUAWMobileMe subscription about to expire? Don't renew it just yet

Video Portraits
Jonathan Jones writes a love letter to Richard Philips's love letter to Lindsay Lohan, a video protrait of the latter.
Phillips makes a completely different choice and films Lohan in several dramatic images, edited together in an exhilarating way. The result is a romantic and indeed erotic view of an actor recently in the headlines for violating her probation on a 2007 drink-driving offense.

Lohan is seen as an almost mythical beauty, a pop goddess framed against the sparkling sea, contemplating her own outsized image.

Ignoring Lohan and the baggage of celebrity and bad behavior she brings to the project, I don't think this video piece does a better job of capturing her as a person than a collection of glamour shots would have. In fact, you could have taken a bunch of fashion photos taken of her at different times, added the "Ken Burns Effect" and some music and ended up with something that would have told the viewer exactly the same amount about her that you get from that video.

So as a video portrait - something the truly captures the spirit of a person - I actually think it's a failure. As a pretty piece of video about a person, it's nicely done. love letter to Lindsay Lohan – and the moving image

Terry Gilliam Does Faust
Gilliam makes his opera-directing debut with a production of Berlioz’s “The Damnation of Faust” at the English National Opera in London. According to this article it works wonderfully:
Gilliam’s vision compliments Berlioz’s original, rather than overwhelming it, and it’s brilliantly realized, aided by Hildegard Bechtner‘s outstanding stage design, and some top-notch video work, again used to support what’s going on on stage, rather than dominating it in the way that many filmmakers-turned-stage-directors can lean
IndieWire: Stage Review: Terry Gilliam’s Opera ‘The Damnation of Faust’ Is A Return To Form & Then Some

Speaking of Gilliam, in his "My Week in Movies," Michael Scott revisits Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secret's and wonders what would have happened if Gilliam had directed the Sorcerer's Stone (he was J.K. Rowling's first choice.)
I think Terry Gilliam’s HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE would have been a brilliant, unique, oddball film… and it would only have been a film. Too weird for most adults, too intense for most kids, it would be a cult classic that left the franchise totally dead in the water. We would probably never have seen CHAMBER OF SECRETS onscreen, let alone the rest of them.
Dorkamn'sBlogMy Week(s) in Movies (5/14–5/28)

15,000 "useful" phrases
Taken from the book "A Practical Handbook Of Pertinent Expressions, Striking Similes, Literary, Commercial, Conversational, And Oratorical Terms, For The Embellishment Of Speech And Literature, And The Improvement Of The Vocabulary Of Those Persons Who Read, Write, And Speak English" by Greenville Kleiser...[they don't write titles like that anymore - Ed]
And with a title like that, are we sure this isn't a joke? Phrases include:
  • abiding romance
  • abject submission
  • abjured ambition
  • able strategist
  • abnormal talents
It's enough to set your hair on end.
FimmakerIQ: 15,000 Useful Phrases

B & H Event Space New York, June 6

B & H in New York is holding a couple of interesting events on June 6:

D.I.Y. Distribution for Filmmakers
Monday, June 6, 2011 | 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Speakers: Andrew Byrd
Skill Level: Basic, Intermediate

In the late summer of 2005, Andrew P. Byrd walked out of Graduate school and into producing his debut comedic film, Johnny Appleweed.

Join Andrew for a step-by-step presentation that will provide useful information and advice for aspiring and experienced filmmakers whose goal is to get their movies seen and distributed.

There will also be a round table discussion on packaging materials for film markets such as Cannes and AFM. This will include showing examples of budgets, schedules, posters, and treatments, as well as what a filmmaker needs for perspective investors in order to secure financing. Also discussed will be how to work film festivals if you’re an Official Selection. This will include helpful tips on how to get your film the most favorable treatment within the festival and most importantly its organizers.

ACE EditFestNY Preview - Cutting and Creating: Mike Nichols’ Film, "The Graduate"
Monday, June 6, 2011 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Speakers: Bobbie O'Steen, Josh Apter
Skill Level: Basic, Intermediate

Join renowned author Bobbie O’Steen (The Invisible Cut, Cut to the Chase) and Manhattan Edit Workshop owner Josh Apter for an in-depth analysis of the editing process on Mike Nichols’ classic, "The Graduate." Bobbie, who was married to and had worked with legendary film editor Sam O’Steen, shares her insights into the creative decisions behind pivotal moments in the film. We will screen and deconstruct selected scenes and - by showing the original lined script - explain how the film was shot and ultimately how Sam decided to craft this rich material.

SPECIAL OFFER: Attendees of this event will receive a coupon good for $50 off Edit FestNY.

And don't forget, EditFest NY runs June 10 - 11. You can also get $50 off using the BOSFCPUG discount

News From Here & There

Review of the Zacuto EVF Pro
Philip Johnston at HD Warrior reviews the Zacuto EVF Pro and raves about it. He previously owned the Cineroid EVF, and liked that, but this one is clearly in a league of it's own, with it's build quality, full-size HDMI plugs and easy to switch batteries (and it uses the Canon LP-E6 batteries too.)
The bottom line is the picture quality of the LCD and I have to take my hat off the Steve and the boys they have sourced a cracking LCD panel it’s the best, cleanest picture I have seen in a long time, it is so smooth you cannot even see the pixels.
His only complaint is that the bag they provide isn't big enough to hold the EV with Z-Finder attached.
HDWarrior: Zacuto EVF Pro “Worth the wait…a blue moon product”
B & H: Z-Finder EVF Pro (3.2") $950
B & H: Z-EVF-1S EVF Snap (for those that have a Z-Finder) $641.25

Google TV could still be a hit
Google TV is considered a flop because consumers don't care, TV networks don't like it, and TV manufacturers don't like it because it has high hardware demands. Dan Frommer at CNN Business Insider still thinks it can be a success if Google does what it did with the Android; spray it everywhere. Of course, he acknowledges one other problem:
Consumers have certainly never bought these gadgets so far, when they were called WebTV, or any other Internet-on-your-TV system. The vast majority of video content is consumed over set-top boxes leased from cable and satellite companies, who have a tight grip on the market.
CNN.comWhy Google TV isn't dead yet

Projection Frame Rates
Back in the days of film, everything was projected at 24fps, but now with digital projectors there's probably not a whole lot of reason why content couldn't be shown at other rates.

Kommer Kleijn at The Belgian Society of Cinematographers, explains the history and also why the Digital Cinema Initiative originally only specified 24 and 48 fps. He also explains how things have evolved:
After 3 years of work in the SMPTE Additional Frame Rate (AFR) group, the standard for additional frame rates was published by SMPTE fall 2009. This document adds the speeds of 25, 30, 50 and 60 fps to the existing 24 and 48 as legal frame rates for digital cinema distribution and projection, making for a total of six speeds. It has thus now become possible to create 2K 2D DCPs at any of these 6 frame rates. The higher temporal resolution speeds of 48, 50 and 60 fps however, have been standardized in 2K resolution and for 2D only. 
There's a focus on 25p in the article (a particular favorite amongst our European friends.) He notes an important caveat: is recommended at this time to enquire with the theatres in question if they are equipped to play a 25 fps DCP. If the theatre owner does not know the answer, you can suggest he checks with his equipment supplier to see if his server and projector are already compatible with 25 fps DCPs or if they can be upgraded easily.

Documentary: Field of Gold
Wide Open Camera interviews Mike Sullivan a.k.a. Sully about the documentary Field of Gold, and how it was produced on a low budget:
The majority of our expenses were equipment and travel cost. We knewthat the project was going to take well over year to film, and with very fewscheduled shoot dates. So during pre-production we knew we wanted toinvest in as much of our own equipment as possible. We ended up going with the 7D and 60D. This set up allowed us to beextremely mobile and maintain a low profile when we were shooting in theCaribbean, especially Cuba.
WideOpenCameraField of Gold: Grow as you Go

Stop That 1!
Writers/Producers Doug Burch and Sam Ingraffia offer 10 "To Don't's" for filmmakers:
  1. Don't let your eyes be bigger than your stomach
  2. A friend in need is a friend indeed
  3. Money is the root of all success
  4. I have no idea what you're talking about
  5. Money Honey
  6. Don't try to make Citizen Kane
  7. Don't shoot yourself in the foot with scheduling
  8. Don't think you're finished after it's shot
  9. Don't be scared of new technology
  10. Don't lose your sense of humor
And much more.
Filmcourage: The To Dont List

Stop That 2!
The New York Stock Exchange goes after the website Talking Points Memo for using a photo of the exchange without permission, and SPIN magazine goes after the owner of the @spin account on Twitter.
YahooNewsMedia industry awash in cease-and-desist letters