Saturday, June 18, 2011

New "Pre-drilled" Igus Slider

Igus is a manufacturing company that sort of fell into the slider production business. I gather they discovered that they make the parts that people use to make sliders, so why not sell them themselves? They offer a variety of models through Amazon (though they aren't always in stock) and some models come pre-drilled, while others don't.

I actually bought one that wasn't pre-drilled; and it wasn't that hard to drill through the aluminum body of the slider using a large drill-bit (and I happened to have the right size too!) I'm very happy with mine; it's a good budget slider.

They just released the DryLin® W1040-B Linear Motion System for Camera Sliders - mini pre-drilled version, ready to go[$114] which comes pre-drilled with a 3/8-16 hole. The WS-10-40 Guide rail is 1,000mm / 1m (or about 1 yard for those still using Imperial units) and has a 1,079lb Static load rating / Assembly weight 2.8lbs

NOTE: I bought the DryLin® W16-A Linear Motion System for Camera Sliders[$159] which has a sturdier rail and carriage which has a 1,888lb Static load rating. Though I doubt my camera ever weighs that much.

Sony NEX-FS100 News

Sony NEX-FS100 Dynamic Range Test
Andy Shipsides at Abelcine retests the dynamic range of the NEX-FS100. They'd done it with a pre-production model, but wanted to retest a production model. They found the ISO ratings to be the same, but the production model has slightly improved dynamic range. He also includes his settings for maximizing range:
Here are my settings for each gamma mode to maximize range: Standard Gamma (Knee Point 80% / Slope -1), CineTone1 (Knee Point 90% / Slope +2), CineTone2 (Knee Point 90% / Slope +2), ITU709 (Knee Point 80% / Slope -2).
If you're using this camera you'll want to watch this video.
CineTechnica: Sony NEX-FS100: Dynamic Range Test

Sony NEX-FS100 First Impressions
Peter Prevec in Slovenia just got his NEX-FS100 and immediately attached it to his car; wouldn't you? He offers his initial impressions: definitely is small. But as such totally uncomfortable to work with. We got the camera with the kit lens (Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Zoom Lens) which is crap in my opinion and we will soon have to switch to prime Canon EF lenses or micro four thirds with accompanying lens adapter. Tthe camera is very back heavy with this kit lens and because the handlebar is positioned to much to the front. Sony NEX-FS100 first impressions

Low Light Comparison
Aaron Nanto posts a low light test (using an interesting light feature) comparing the NEX-FS100 and Canon 5D Mark II.
Vimeo: Sony NEX-FS100 vs. Canon 5D Mark II (low light test)

Disadvantages of DLSRs
The folks at Butchers Hook Productions list all the problems with shooting video on DSLRs, and then finish up with;
In our case, we’ve decided to circumnavigate these issues by ordering the Sony FS100 camera – a great new camera which has the functionalities of a shoulder mount but the lenses and mobility benefits of the DSLR – Win!
ButchersHook: Disadvantages of HD video with a DSLR Camera

Friday, June 17, 2011

Final Cut Pro X: The Native Are Restless VI

Storyboarding in Final Cut Pro X
Rumors are that Final Cut Pro X will include storyboarding features (a feature that first appeared in iMovie):

From yfrog: fcpstruth's Photos

Burning Questions
Scott Simmons at The EditBlog has put together a list of burning questions, including the following [with my comments]
  • Will FCPX support XML in and out of the application? [I bet it will]
  • Will 3rd party I/O hardware be supported at launch? [Some]
  • Will 3rd party plug-ins work? [Not unless they are 64-bit]
  • Will there be any tape-based support [No]
  • Will there be a Studio? [probably; Motion and SoundTrack Pro]
ProVideoCoalition: My burning questions about Final Cut Pro X

Larry Jordan
Yesterday I posted a link to FCP guru Larry Jordan saying that Final Cut Pro X would not be ready for professional use on release. Larry subsequently clarrified his remarks, and I added them to that post, but I'll repeat it today for those that missed it.

Larry Jordan has posted to his blog a clarification of his statements back in April.
But I no longer feel, as I once thought, that this is a step backward. Based on what I learned during my conversations with Apple, I believe this release provides us with an opportunity for a large step forward.
However, I don't think he necessarily is recanting the part about perfect dot zero releases, and he's not the only one. I think nearly anyone will warn you that when a complete rewrite of anything comes out, you should only jump in with your eye's wide open: don't immediately start editing a huge project with a time sensitive deadline. That's just common sense; it's not a slight on Apple.
LarryJordan: Wiping Egg Off My Face]

The Great Camera Shootout 2011

Zacuto has posted the first of three episodes of their "Great Camera Shootout 2011."

Last year they did a similar thing, producing a series of tests comparing DSLRs with film. This year they changed things up a bit; first they had Robert Primes, ASC independently organize and run the tests, and secondly they included other large chip cameras like the Sony F35, RED OME MX, ARRI Alexa, Panasonic AG-AF100 and Sony PMW-F3, as well as come DSLRs from last years tests. Once again, they included film for comparison.

The tests were made, and then shown to DPs in a series of screenings in Sydney, Amsterdam, New York, London NAB and Hollywood. Zactuo filmed both the production of the tests, as well as the audience reaction at the showings, and has put together this documentary about the project.

The first episode measures Dynamic Range and Latitude using an ARRI dynamic range test chart, as well as a pair of scenes that were shot to test under- and over- exposure.

On the Dynamic Range test chart, the ARRI Alexa did best of the digital cameras with 14.1 stops, while the Red One MX had 11.9 and Sony F35 11.3, the PMW-F3 11.2 (same as Canon 5D Mark II and 1D Mark IV). But as you'll see in the under and exposure tests, there's a lot more to it than simply the range; what does the image actually look like?

One note: in the two tests, the same settings were used for both shots; so the camera wasn't adjusted to "do it's best." They acknowledge this at the beginning of the test, saying that they “wanted to show how the cameras perform in a stress situation.”

Perhaps as expected from the numbers, the ARRI and RED performed very well in the underexposure tests, though the other cameras weren't that far behind. In the over exposure tests, the F35, Alexa and RED grouped together, performing very well and rivaling film, while most of the other cameras; the PMW-F3, AG-AF100 and the DSLRs really blew out the highlights. Worse, some of them gave those highlights a yellow cast.

The difference in the way the cameras perform - particularly in the over-exposure test - is explained by the chart above, which shows the distribution of the exposure latitude.

Another interesting detail from the chart above is that the 7D performed a bit better than the 5D in some situations because of the difference in the way the exposure is distributed.

One thing that seemed clear from these first tests; the Red and Alexa really give film a run for it's money.

This test is just one element, in future episodes they will be covering: noise, motion artifacts, resolution, compression and color. The next two episodes are expected in July and August.

Zacuto: Great Camera Shootout 2011, Episode 1

Kitting out a Sony NEX-FS100 Part 3: Accessories

Having covered lens and monitoring options in Parts 1 and 2, here's the final part in the series: "Kitting out an NEX-FS100."
NotesOnVideo: Kitting out a Sony NEX-FS100 Part 2: Lenses
NotesOnVideo: Kitting out a Sony NEX-FS100: Part 1

Again, the objective was to to kit out an NEX-FS100 with a total budget of no more than $19,000 - including camera - for shooting an indie feature.

Rules of the Game
Feel free to make your own suggestions; there's no "right" answer. However, there is a budget, so if you suggest something additional - or more expensive - than the current choice, also indicate what you would do away with!

When it came to accessories, I didn't really have much input, so here's the list for a Shoulder rig, focus puller and matte box.

Rigs are sort of personal, and probably your body shape plays a big part too! I've tried some rigs and hated them - so I would never buy one without trying it out first.

I might be tempted to get a cheaper focus unit, but Zacuto builds strong stuff and stands behind it. For those reasons, if you can afford it, they are the thing to buy.

An Audio-Technica Shotgun and a Sony wireless have been chosen here. I have the Sony wireless unit and like it, so no disagreement there! I have no experience with the Audio-Technica, though I have a Sennheiser ME66/K6 which is similar. Personally, I don't like using shotguns any more; unless I have someone to point it at the subject!

Despite the user reviews noting the flimsy construction, this LED light kit for $229 looks really interesting. I have also seen Chinese light kits selling for very little on eBay.

He's also chosen some bags and other items, which I'll list here. Again, I have no experience with these items, so no real opinion; I seem to have amassed a mishmash of different bags from Kata and other makers. They aren't bad, but if I was starting from scratch I'd probably buy a more rational collection!

Opinions? Post them below in the comments, or email and I'll post them in an update.

Kitting out a Sony NEX-FS100 Part 2: Lenses

This is Part 2 of the series. Part 1 covered the basic requirements, camera and monitoring choices. NotesOnVideo: Kitting out a Sony NEX-FS100: Part 1

The objective is to kit out an NEX-FS100 with a total budget of no more than $19,000 - including camera - for shooting an indie feature.

Rules of the Game
Feel free to make your own suggestions; there's no "right" answer. However, there is a basic budget, so don't go suggesting the Zeiss Custom 7-Lens Compact Prime CP.2 Set, which at $26,700 is about $9,000 more than the total budget! If you suggest a different lens, also indicate which one(s) you would do away with!

Alpha Mounts
The lensing choices get interesting, because his requirements were:
  • full set of fast primes
  • short, medium and long zooms
and he'd originally chosen a set of mostly Sigma lenses with Alpha mounts. If it was me, I'm not sure I'd jump on the Alpha mount, and I told him so!
Having already acquired several Canon lenses, and found that they aren't the ideal thing to put on a non-Canon camera, if I did start buying lenses with another mount I'm not too sure I'd jump on the Sony Alpha mount. I'm not saying I wouldn't, but I'd at least consider going with the Nikon mount instead, as it almost seems the most neutral mount around (I can find adapters for Nikon to Canon, E-Mount and Micro Four thirds easily...)

The Sony Alpha mount does let the camera control aperture, which if you want that, then that's a reason to go with the Alpha lenses. Also, they may support focus, though I've heard very mixed things about that and it's probably something you don't want to use.

I also noted that a couple of the lenses are APS-C lenses; fine for the NEX-FS100, but maybe not for the Canon 5D Mark III (if they ever make one!) and concluded with:
I've come to the conclusion that lenses will -probably - outlast the cameras, so buy the best you long as you know what mount to get!

Nikon Mount - maybe
He promptly changed to Nikon mounts...
...then back to Alpha because of the lack of stops on the lenses

I then pointed out that the MTF Services Ltd Nikon G to Sony E Mount Adaptor [$375.95] lets you control aperture, though I didn't know how fiddly it is to operate. Certainly there's an advantage to having the camera talk to the lens and tell you in the viewfinder what's going on...

But now he's back to Nikon again...but is that the right choice? What would you get?

The next installment covers other accessories (rigs, tripods etc.)

Opinions? Post them below in the comments, or email and I'll post them in an update.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kitting out a Sony NEX-FS100: Part 1

A friend is putting together a camera kit to shoot a low budget thriller. The project will be shot over the course of several months, a few days each month. It will be very weather dependent, so he thinks that owning a camera package is the way to go.

He's put together a pretty extensive list of gear, and he asked me to look over the list and give him a second opinion. I did, but I'm not sure I'm the best qualified to do this, so to all the readers out there; what's your opinion of this gear list?

I'm posting the details of the list, along with some of my comments, and the back and forth we have already had. Because this piece turned out a bit longer than I expected, I'm going to post it in three parts: Part 1: Camera/Recording/Monitoring, Part 2: Lenses and Part 3: Accessories. The next two parts will be posted tomorrow.

As the title confirms, he chose the Sony NEX-FS100 as a camera. There are really only two other alternatives; the Panasonic AG-AF100 or the Sony PMW-F3. The NEX-FS100 does better in low light than the AG-AF100, and the PMW-F3 would overwhelm his budget. I'd go with the NEX-FS100 too, so I didn't even question it.

I've heard from others that you really need an EVF with the NEX-FS100, even though it has that big LCD and large loupe. The reality is that if you're using it on a shoulder rig, the built-in viewfinder is in the wrong position. I've heard great things about the Zacuto EVF, so no question about that either.

Sony NEX-FS100U Super 35mm Sensor Camcorder (Body Only) Price $4,999.00
Zacuto Z-Finder EVF Pro (3.2") $950

Blackmagic Design HyperDeck Shuttle Video Recorder Price $327.75
Manhattan LCD HD089B-C 8.9" HD Field Monitor w/Canon Battery Plate $614.95

Recording & Monitoring
When he first sent me the list, he'd included the Atomos Ninja [$995] in place of the Blackmagic HyperDeck Shuttle, and the Marshall 5" V-H50 [$499] monitor in place of the Manhattan 8.9" Field monitor. Now he's switched to the Shuttle, which is cheaper, and the Manhattan 8.9" monitor.

I have no experience with the Shuttle or the Ninja, though the Shuttle is more recent [is it actually shipping?]. I'd almost go with the Ninja because it can replay what you record without attaching it to a display; though it looks like he won't be short on monitoring options.

I had originally queried the 5" monitor, writing:
What's the purpose of the Marshall 5"? Is it for a focus puller or for the Director to view content? Will it be mounted on the camera or external? I liked the Marshall monitor BEFORE the Zactuo EVF appeared; I thought it would make a great EVF because it's also not that large. If it's for focus pulling and mounted on the camera rig, then it's probably the right choice. If it's for others to review content, you might want to get something larger?
His response at first was:
the Marshall was for three reasons;
1) the director is a former camera assist, and is happiest watching on a camera monitor
2) the Marshall gives me false color exposure,
3) Marshall shows peaking for an assistant still on the learning curve. When I have an assistant it will likely be either a battle hardened friend out for a lark, or a person just escaped from film school looking for credits. For most of this I will be pulling focus myself though; did I mention low budget?
That sounded reasonable to me, but now it seems he's switched to the Manhatten, and when I asked why he said:
Bigger monitor to amuse the director, and the rig seems more multi-purpose

Fortunately the director used to be a union cam assistant, and pulled focus for me on a movie-of-the-week a few years ago... in the rain all night shooting a motorcycle chase, waiting for the stunt guys to come close to their marks

The more amused he is, the easier my life is.. he leaves camera completely alone, even lets me block scenes within reason
That's Part 1. Next, the hard part; lenses.

Opinions? Post them below in the comments, or email and I'll post them in an update.

Continued in Part 2: Lenses

News From Here & There

Sony Drops Price On F65
While Sony had their "low- priced" cinema Super 35mm cameras, the $6K NEX-FS100 and the $14K PMW-F3, don't think they are giving up on the high end. They unveiled the F65, high-end cinema camera at NAB, and though they haven't yet confirmed a price, they have announced that they have lowered it. At Cine Gear Sony reveiled that the price had been lowered from $???K to $??K.

I'm guessing that it's still closer to $???K thant $?K.
YouTube: Sony F65 Pricing Release - Cine Gear 2011

PluralEyes available for Grass Valley's EDIUS
PluralEyes, the workflow automation tool for analyzing media content and synchronizing audio and video clips is now available for EDIUS at an introductory price of $119 USD until July 15, 2011 via the Singular Software's website. The regular price is $149 USD.
Singular Software

This should be great news for some of you: iOS 5 on iPad 2 will play back H.264 MOVs recorded with EOS 5DII, 60D & 600D
Clayton Lai on Twitter

The 3D Thing
Is 3D dead, dying, or waiting to make a resurgence? Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks has been one of the biggest proponents of 3D movies, and he talks to The Hollywood Reporter about the current downturn in audience numbers at 3D screenings. He blames the bad movies that were released:
It's really heartbreaking to see what has been the single greatest opportunity that has happened to the film business in over a decade being harmed. The audience has spoken, and they have spoken really loudly.
TheHollywoodReporter: Jeffrey Katzenberg on the 'Heartbreaking' Decline of 3D (Exclusive Q&A)

Meanwhile, at Wired, Erik Malinowski looks at ESPN 3D as it battles to survive the growing pains of the 3D marketplace:
Some analysts estimate that global 3-D TV penetration could top 23 million units this year, an increase of more than 500 percent over 2010. However, U.S. customers only bought 1.1 million units last year — only half of the estimated 2.1 million that were expected to be sold — and sales figures for 2011 will likely end up around just short of 2 million, still a healthy year-on-year increase.
Wired: Why 3-D Sports Could Be the Future of Television

Somy PMW-F3
Rudy Wilms posts an unboxing video for the PMW-F3 on Vimeo: Unboxing Sony PMW-F3

Philip Bloom posts a video shot during a DSLR workshop with the F3: New F3 Short Film “Insipiens” Shot in Mallorca, Spain. With Colorista II blemish removal tutorial

Budget Follow-Focus
EOSHD has a write-up on an aluminim follow-focus that's available on ebay for $142 and features:
  • Support for industry standard 15mm rails
  • Gear driven for accuracy
  • Aluminium construction, no plastic, rubber grip on focus wheel
  • Locking system and adjustable plate
  • 52mm to 82mm lens barrel compliance
EOSHD: Quality follow focus just became affordable

Sony HX9
It's "just" a little point-and-shoot camera, but the previous model, the HX5 got some very favorable reviews, and now the HX9 is coming. It shoots 60p for Americans, or 50p for our European neighbors.
Jeen de Vos Producties has posted to Vimeo a short video that's pretty nice!
Vimeo: The Harbour (Sony HX9 test)
Amazon: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9 16.2 MP Exmor R CMOS Digital Still Camera with 16x Optical Zoom G Lens, and Full HD 1080/60p Video
HDWarrior: Micro Review of the Sony HX5V Cyber shot camera with AVCHD

Andrew Reid at EOSHD also tried out the HX9 and thinks it performs better than a Canon  600D - though it doesn't have the same shallow depth-of-field capabilities due to the small sensor:
The HX9v splits the GH2 and Canon DSLR 1080p on the starting grid, producing more detail than the 600D with less moire and aliasing. The HX9 comes close to matching the GH2 for resolution, and 1080/60p is a huge benefit over 24p since you can choose to give footage a dreamy slow-motion look or convert it to cinematic 24p or 25p. You have the choice!
EOSHD: Sony HX9v vs Canon 600D – DSLR gets beat by compact in video mode

Is The DSLR Dead?
Scott Macaulay at FilmMaker writes up my piece on the Death of DSLR's, adding his own conclusion (which really matches what I was trying to say; he just manages to do it in 1/6 the number of words!)
Indeed, what may be dead now that everyone has shot with a DSLR is not the DSLR camera but the idea of the camera as a revolutionary device — and its potential to rally a community that believes it’s a revolutionary device. Pro’s are moving between the RED and Alexa and the large format sensor cameras that David Leitner wrote about in our piece, “Does Size Matter.”
Filmmaker: IS THE DSLR DEAD?

Final Cut Pro X: The Native Are Restless V

Larry Jordan says that Final Cut Pro X won't be ready for prime time
This statement from Final Cut Pro guru Larry Jordan at the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group meeting [in April] that Final Cut Pro X will not be ready for professional use has caused some consternation:
I guarantee you that on day one, when the release ships, it will not be ready for professional use. Apple has a very poor track record of perfect dot zero releases.
I suspect Larry is no longer on Steve Job's Christmas card list.

Before this, he also says that maybe Final Cut Pro X is iMovie on steroids, or maybe it will be the greatest thing yet; we just don't know. You can see videos of Larry speaking at the event here: FCPX 1.0 "It will not be ready for professional use" says Larry Jordan

[UPDATE 4:30PM Larry Jordan has posted to his blog a clarification of his statements back in April.
But I no longer feel, as I once thought, that this is a step backward. Based on what I learned during my conversations with Apple, I believe this release provides us with an opportunity for a large step forward.
However, I don't think he necessarily is recanting the part about perfect dot zero releases, and he's not the only one. I think nearly anyone will warn you that when a complete rewrite of anything comes out, you should only jump in with your eye's wide open: don't immediately start editing a huge project with a time sensitive deadline. That's just common sense; it's not a slight on Apple.
LarryJordan: Wiping Egg Off My Face]

Users Shocked To Find Out That Final Cut Pro X Is 64-bit
After months - years - of asking for Apple to turn Final Cut Pro X into a 64-bit application, some people were shocked at the LAFCPUG meeting to discover that this means it will not support 32-bit plug-ins. - You're going to have to upgrade!
LockerzPhilip Hodgetts schools us on what we don't know about #FCPX at @lafcpug.
NOTE: This was previously mentioned by Phil Hodgetts at the BOSFCPUG meeting.
NotesOnVideo: Final Cut Pro X @ the May BOSFCPUG & BOSDLSR Mixer

Second Thoughts About Final Cut Pro? How About Avid Media Composer
If you're a Final Cut Pro user thinking of making the move to Media Composer, today or tomorrow might be the day to do it as you can still get it for $995 (if you have Final Cut already.) Offers ends June 17th.
Avid: Got Final Cut? Get Media Composer for Just $995 USD

Steve Martin of Ripple Training To Talk Final Cut Pro X In Boston
Daniel Bérubé says that Steve Martin of Ripple Training will come to Boston in July for a big Final Cut Pro event and workshop. No firm details yet.

Cinema5D Final Cut Pro X News Roundup
Cinema5D has collected together a summary of information about Final Cut Pro X too: Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) “will not be ready for professional use” says Larry Jordan-and other FCPX info

Earlier Reading:

Clarified that Larry's Jordan's comments were from a meeting in April, and added link to his statement about it.]


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

BOSFCPUG June Meeting Report

The BOSFCPUG Mixer last night featured a demo of Autodesk Smoke, an update on features in Avid Media Composer, and a recap of AJA I/O products.

But I’m burying the lead.

Did you know that University of Massachusetts has a Club? And that it’s on the 33rd floor of a building in the Boston business district? Me neither! A pretty impressive sort of place; and not one of our usual haunts: last nights affair had an air of unexpected sophistication, what with the 33 floor high view, the fancy buffet, and the barman. This is your father’s video club.

Daniel Bérubé kicked off the event by drawing our attention to the view. He also mentioned next week’s London SuperMeet, and said that they were still trying to organize streaming for the event. And, though it wasn’t unexpected, he confirmed that SuperMeet will be coming back to Boston in October.

Ken Larue on Smoke
Ken Larue demoed Autodesk Smoke, and opened with an impressive show real and the following observation; “I’m not here to tell you to use one application or another…[but] working in multiple applications is a pain; with Smoke you can do it all in one."

On a personal note; he’s right. I’ve been working on a project in Final Cut Pro which consists of about 25 Motion projects. Switching back and forth between the two programs can really become a pain. Of course, it’s not helped by the fact that I don’t have the 16GB of memory I really need, either.

Ken demoed Auto Paint, a painting tool that can be used repetitively on multiple frames. He used it to touch up part of a frame, and then repeated the correction over an entire sequence. He removed a logo from a surface by first cleaning it up in one frame, and then mapping that correction to the region over a sequence of frames.

Get your 3D Glasses on!

He demoed some very cool 3D compositing, with matting and a 3D lens flare. He also imported 3D files into the scene. To finish, he demoed editing 3D (stereo) video sequences, adding a 3D text object to the sequence and creating a virtual stereo camera.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again, Smoke has an unusual interface, but it is a powerful application. I think I’d have to be using it 24/7 to master it. You can download a 30 day trial, and students and teachers can get a 36 month free trial.

Avid Media Composer
Bob Russo demoed new features in Avid Media Composer 5.5. The most interesting – to me – was Script Sync, which lets you load in a script, and then matches the script to footage, and you can literally use the script to navigate and play the footage.

A related, but separate feature called PhraseFind searches – phonetically – through footage. Whether you’re shooting a scripted movie or a documentary, one of those feature will be useful to you.


My favorite quote of the evening came from Bob when, while demoing the RTAS Tool plug-ins for audio, he said:
“There’s this entire incredible, crazy subculture. If you talk to any audio guy, there’s this whole gear envy type of thing [over what] you want to have rack mounted in your studio. So this is really new for us in the video world, but now we have all these different boxes that you can essentially emulate.”
Yep, us video guys wouldn’t know about those crazy gear envy subcultures...

Daniel Bérubé noted that Avid is now in Burlington, and that the BOSFCPUG might hold a meeting there sometime in the future. Also, if you’re a Final Cut Pro user, you have until the 17th to take Avid up on a $995 upgrade to Avid Media Composer.
Avid: Got Final Cut? Get Media Composer for Just $995 USD

Jay Ignaszewski wrapped up the evening with a quick run through of AJA gear, highlighting the Key Pro Mini (for those whimps that felt the 6 lb Ki Pro was too heavy.) They also raffled off a Key Pro Mini to one lucky attendee.

The London SuperMeet happens next week, and the next BOSFCPUG meeting is scheduled to feature Steve Martin talking about FCP X and also doing his standup rotuine.


Amazon Deals

This week Amazon seems to be doing some deals related to video equipment.

Today's Gold Box Deal is the ContourHD Camera for $179.00 ContourHD Camera ($249.99 regularly!)

[Not to be confused with the newer Contour Plus which is $499, but has GPS, Bluetooth (use your iPhone to monitor!) and a wider field of view.]

I have the Contour HD, and it's a handy little camera. I particularly like using it with a windshield mount.
Amazon: Contour 1500 Contour Plus Camera
NotesOnVideo: A few more thoughts on the ContourHD Windshield Mount

Special Deal on Sony SMP-N100 Streaming Player through June 18
You can save $50 on the Sony SMP-N100 through June 18. It's $79. If you have Amazon Prime, you can use it to stream Amazon Instant Video.

Too bad that the 78 reviews give it an average rating of 3 out of 5.
Amazon: Sony SMP-N100 Streaming Player with Wi-Fi

Final Cut Pro X: The Native Are Restless IV

Final Cut Pro X Screen Caps Were Real
It seems that the screen caps posted the last couple of days by user MortGoldman2 on TwitPic were the real thing; they've been taken down and AppleInsider received a cease and desist letter from Ripple Training Inc., the company from whom the screen shots were either stolen or "acquired."
AppleInsider: Cease and desist threats authenticate recent Final Cut Pro X screenshots [u]

What's Next for Final Cut Pro X?
It's not even out yet and people are speculating whether the distribution by App Store will mean that updates will appear more frequently: probably not, thought as has been pointed out, now that they have rewritten it from the ground up, they might now have the time to do small, more frequent updates...

Walter Biscardi, who has already ground down a couple of axes over Final Cut Pro X, has posted:
We're already hearing about the first update to #fcpx to "put back" some of the missing elements.

When Did You Say Final Cut Pro X Would Be Released?
No idea. Though current best guesses are next week...maybe the 21st?

Getting Ready for Lion and Final Cut Pro X
A tutorial on CreativeCOW by David Roth Weiss:
Don't be surprised to discover that transitioning to FCP X and OS X Lion will not happen overnight; the initial software releases of both will undoubtedly have at least a few bugs and kinks that will need to be ironed out. And, there's bound to be a waiting period while new drivers are written for RAID controllers and I/O devices. Of course, since FCP X is a radical departure from the Final Cut Pro we all know, the learning curve for most editors will probably be fairly steep while we familiarize ourselves with the features and figure out how to integrate it into both new and established workflows.
CreativeCOW: GET READY TO RUMBLE: Perfect setup for a seamless transition to FCP X and OS X Lion

Buy ATI for OpenCL
Eric St-Martin explains why ATI cards are the way to go for Lion and Final Cut Pro X:
Earlier this year, I have tested different graphics adapter with the current crop of Final Cut Studio and it turned out ATI came out as the best card for it. Mainly, this is because Open CL implementation is at it’s best in ATI cards.
ubermediahd: ATI will be the Lion King with FCP X

No 'Open Project'?
Mark Stewart-Pearson looked at the posted screenshots, and noted the lack of an Open Project menu option. What could that mean......? He looks to iMovie for some answers.

Philip Hodgetts  - who back on June 5th predicted that Final Cut Pro X would appear on June 21st - talked about this when he recently spoke about Final Cut Pro X at a meeting of the Boston Final Cut Pro User Group:
Philip's "thing" is Meta Data, and he's pleased to see that Final Cut Pro X uses Meta Data. Uses it so much, that it actually replaces some features in the current version of Final Cut; like Bins. It also seems to do away with the idea of Projects, and saves everything in a database. Keywords replace Bins. Tools for adding keywords easily have been added, and content analysis will scan content during ingest, identifying shots with two people, one person etc.
Truelove Tech: No "Open Project" in FCP X
NotesOnVideo: Final Cut Pro X @ the May BOSFCPUG & BOSDLSR Mixer

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

News From Here & There

The Great Camera Shootout 2011
One of the most interesting reviews of new technology was last year's "Great Camera Shootout" which compared the video shot with several DSLRs against some film footage. The DLSRs did amazingly well.

This year the test was repeated, though adding in some of the more expensive new big-chip cameras; the Arri Alexa, Sony F-35, PMW-F3, RED ONE M-X and others. The results were previewed both at NAB and at some private showings that took place around the world, and this Wednesday Zacuto will unveil a web documentary series about the project.
The documentary expands on the tests that were conducted under severe controlled conditions at the Mole-Richardson Co. stage and the Goathouse Loft. The tests were shot over four days and involved over sixty technicians.

The Great Camera Shootout of 2011 is not a contest to decide out who makes the “best” camera. Rather, it is a collection of tests aimed to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the industry’s newest cameras.
Zacuto: The Great Camera Shootout 2011

Final Cut Pro X Next Week?
The 21st? The 23rd? Who knows, but MacRumors reports that a Japanease blog reports.....
Macrumors: Final Cut Pro X and Third-Party Thunderbolt Peripherals Coming Next Week?

Sony NEX-FS100 News
Paul Anitco of NeedCreative warns that the Rainbow Imaging Nikon G to NEX adapter (Amazon) does not fit the NEX-FS100:
Warning do NOT buy and try the Nikon G to NEX adapter from Rainbow Imaging (amazon) - it doesn't fit #fs100 nearly scratched sensor trying

Sony NEX-FS100 In Stock
B & H currently lists the NEX-FS100U (body only) as In Stock: NEX-FS100U Super 35mm Sensor Camcorder (Body Only)

Taking Apart a 3D Bloggie
iFixit takes apart a Sony 3D Bloggie, in video:
Sonystyle: iFixit CEO and SGNL Take Apart a 3D Bloggie® HD Camera (Video)

Camera Tests
Comparing the Panasonic AG-AF100 and GH2
Though completely different camera bodies, the electronics/sensor of these two cameras are similar. JJ Labritakis posts a video showing resolution and gamma tests done with the two cameras. Both shot on same lens 50mm @ F8 with ND and Sony FS100 @ 0db shutter 1/48 and Panasonic GH2 @ 800iso shutter 1/50.
Vimeo: AF100 vs GH2 Res/Gamma tests for +2 Armor

QuadLight Productions posts a Rolling Shutter test with the Sony NEX-FS100 and the Panasonic GH2. Vimeo: Sony Fs100 and Panasonic GH2 Rolling Shutter Test

NEX-FS100 uncompressed vs. AVCHD
Frank Glencairn posts video captured using uncompressed to a Blackmagic Decklink. 50i 1/50 shutter.
I expected way more difference. It takes some color correction and a 200% magnification until you start seeing the artifacts in the AVCHD version.
Vimeo: FS100 uncompressed vs. AVCHD

DSLRs Are Dead
My blog post on the death of DSLR cameras seems to have provoked some reaction - I hope you're all reading the whole thing, and not just stopping after the first paragraph.... -
FrugalFilmmakers adds their take:
Some of the main reasons why we like HDSLRS is: small size, Price, great lenses that don’t cost am arm and a leg, beautiful video, adaptability, image stabilization and of course they are a great still camera as well. They are also the cause of the greatest democratization of filmmaking ever created. Anybody with a good story can now tell that story without a lot of money. All of the video cameras are over 6000 dollars buy the time you buy what’s needed to shoot with just the camera.
FrugalFilmmakers: The Death of the HDSLR has been Exaggerated
NotesOnVideo: The death of DSLRs

Final Cut Pro X: The Natives Are Restless III

[UPDATE 2 1:00PM:
Final Cut Pro X Next Week?
The 21st? The 23rd? Who knows, but MacRumors reports that a Japanease blog reports.....
Macrumors: Final Cut Pro X and Third-Party Thunderbolt Peripherals Coming Next Week?

UPDATE 1: The PremiumBeat blog has put together a list of 10 Noteworthy videos and posts about Final Cut Pro X10 Noteworthy Final Cut Pro X Related Videos and Posts – What We Know & What to Expect ]

There's little news today; and it doesn't appear that Final Cut Pro X will be released today either, as some had been speculating.

More images have been posted by MortGoldman2 on TwitPic, including some interesting export, import and share menus:

The Share menu seems to confirm that Compressor still exists.

It also seems pretty clear - and had been speculated about before - that capture from tape is gone. Is there no Export to XML or OMF? THere's noises that there aren't, though we haven't seen all the export options - yet!

Looking for more Final Cut Pro X images on Twitpic? Try this search: TwitPic #fcpx

Monday, June 13, 2011

News From Here & There

Sony NEX-FS100 First Impressions
A report from Crews.TV of a group of camera and sound people checking out a pre-production NEX-FS100 at an event in New Zealand. Three usability issues are identified; the brick-like shape - which at first was considered a problem, but after spending time with it most people felt they could work with it fine - the audio inputs (a big improvement over DSLR's,) and then there's that HDMI output:
“It might be fine in a studio situation on a tripod, but I don’t think I would want to use the FS100 with an external recorder out in the field running around with a shoulder rig.”

Unlike the fragile mini-HDMI connector on a Canon 5D, the FS100 HDMI connector is a full size connector, and it might be possible to find a locking type of HDMI connector that can fit, but in the end HDMI connectors were designed for AV connections, not location use.
The signal coming out the NEX-FS100 is a big improvement over the 5D Mark II, but that connector still gives people pause. FS100 Fair Game

Sony NEX-FS100
John Bake Postproductions posts some sequences shot at different frame rates and shutter speeds (up to 50p @ 1/1200, showing the effect on a shot of water pouring into a glass.
VimeoSony NEX FS100 Shutter and frame rate test

More On Movie Pitching
Last week I linked to Alexis van Hurkman's story of an American man going to London to pitch a film. Now, for symmetry, here comes Eleanor Yule's story of a woman from Glasgow going to LA to pitch:
I take the opportunity to see a top LA agent about representation. He tells me the writers he represents work for around a million bucks per screenplay; less than that and it’s not worth his time. And, his directors are mostly male, commanding and charismatic. So, I think, even in America, land of the free, they have a hard time trusting the female of the species.
movieScope: 10 Days to Close a Deal
vanhurkman: Once Upon a Time in London

Screen writing Tip
Fl Film School recommends you don't get hung up on the formatting:
Many times we focus too much on making it look right rather than the creativity to make it say what we want it to say.
FlFilmSchoolScreenwriting Exercise

The Shortening Of Attention Spans
Fl Film School also wonders whether the traditional hour and a half movie will soon be a thing of the past:
Screenplays are supposed to be kept around 90-120 pages. Why? Who wrote this rule? Why is it even a rule? Why do independent filmmakers break their neck trying to be like Hollywood and compete with Hollywood without the required resources and money?
And goes on to argue that competing on Hollywood's terms is a mistake for the independent filmmaker.
FlFilmSchoolThe Hollywood Standard? Whatever!

For those working with Smoke on the Mac, there's a Google GroupSmoke on Mac

Will iOS let you output movies at 1080p?
Currently, you're limited to 720p movies, does iOS 5 support 1080p? The motionVFX blog looks into it.
Blog motionVFXiOS 5 brings the possibility to export videos in 1080p resolution!

Crwodfunding Stories
The Film Threat website is hoping to produce a magazine, and they went with crowdfunding to support the venture. This update will be interesting to others considering crowdfunding as the organizers have come to the conclusion that running two campaigns on two different crowdfunding sights was a mistake, and they've now decided to focus on one campaign with IndieGoGo.
With Kickstarter, I had to hit my goal, and at 5% with less than 20 days to go, while I know it’s possible (seen it happen for others), I don’t want to chance not getting anything, and being unable to pay anyone. Writers will get paid, dammit! Plus, with the final push focused on only one campaign, there is the outside hope that we not only meet our goal, but exceed it. THAT seems more realistic, at this point, than sticking with two campaigns.
FilmThreat: Crowdfunding With Film Threat: Highlander Was Right; There Can Be Only One

Sunday, June 12, 2011

June 14th BOSFCPUG Networking Mixer at UMASS Club Boston

The next Boston Final Cut Pro User Group Mixer takes place at 6:30pm on Tuesday, June 14th.

- Bob Russo on what's new in Avid Media Composer 5.5 including PhraseFind and DSLR workflow
- Ken Larue on what's new in Autodesk Smoke for Mac 2012!
- Jay Ignaszewski on what's new with the latest in tapeless integrated workflow from AJA Video Systems


Final Cut Pro X: The Natives Are Restless II

Mort Goldman has posted several pictures on Twitpic of color grading in Final Cut Pro X. Who know how long these will stay up...
Twitpic: Mort Goldman]

The End of Color?
The last couple of days have seen renewed speculation that Color is gone, primarily because of reports that the Apple Color community was removed from Apple's site... [UPDATE: Now it appears to be back]

...except that Patrick Inhofer reports that the Motion community was removed too, and we *think* that Motion will be upgraded. So that could mean nothing.

On the other hand, when Philip Hodgetts gave his prediction of what would be upgraded, he thought that Motion, Compressor and SoundTrack Pro were definite upgrades, DVD Studio Pro would be killed, and he wasn't sure about Color.

Aaron Robinson posts his defense of Color:
For a long time now I've been excited for the next installment of Color.  It offers far more control than any integration with Final Cut Pro ever can.  As an individualized application, not only does it free the color grader to master his craft with this app, but if creates a seamless post workflow ( I think) at an affordable price
aarontrobinsonApple Color is Gone?!

20% off at Target
You can buy iTunes gift cards for 20% off at Target this weekend. I already bought some cards at Best Buy for 15% off, but you can still save...

MacVideo Expo: Preparing for Final Cut Pro X (part 1)
A video of Rick Young talking about getting ready for Final Cut Pro X from the MacVideo ExpoMacVideo Expo: Preparing for Final Cut Pro X (part 1)

The latest on dates
Seriously? So far I've heard: 9th, 14th, 21st, and someone just posted they had heard that it would be the 23rd. It will be June. It will be before Lion. Beyond that, I don't know.

The waiting continues....

Screenwriting 201: Unstoppable Script Development

Unstoppable is a fun action movie; for those who like that sort of thing. It's about a runaway train and a train crew - Denzel Washington and Chris Pine - who chase after it. Lots of action, not a whole lot of character development. But whether you like that kind of movie or not, if you're interested in movie making and script development, then you should check out the extras on the DVD/Blu-ray of this movie.

Back when DVDs were a "new" medium I often watched the extras and commentaries, but over time I've watched them less and less. It was almost accidental that I watched some of the extras on the Unstoppable DVD and discovered an audio commentary with the Director Tony Scott and Writer Mark Bomback. This isn't just the two of them discussing the finished movie and recalling what happened, but is actually audio recordings from script meetings between the two made some time between the first draft and the final shooting script.

You hear them discussing different story points including:
  • use of language
  • debating train operations
  • discussing whether having the female character throwing up in the bathroom will cause the audience to think she's pregnant
  • whether there's too much action in the script
  • talking about actors and accents
  • whether to make the choice of town in which the rail company attempts to derail the train an overtly sinister choice (i.e. the rail company picks the poorest town because it will cost them the least)

Interestingly, the director likes to refer to the runaway train - the antagonist - as "Jaws."

It's particularly interesting that several script points aren't finalized during these discussions - for example Denzel Washington's character still has a wife - and there is an extended discussion about the ending of the film. Mark has obviously written it one way - very similar to the way the final movie ends - but Tony is thinking it should end slightly differently and they go through the differences for several minutes.