Saturday, September 29, 2012

Quick Links

FILM TAX INCENTIVES | Michael Murie | Filmmaker Magazine
A recent panel on State Tax Incentives sponsored by the Massachusetts Production Coalition was centered on tax credits for Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but much of the advice is applicable to other state programs. It’s important to note that while many states offer some form of tax incentive for filmmakers, there are several important differences between the various programs: whether it’s a rebate or a credit, transferable, has a cap [the state has a total limit per years for all credits], the minimum production budget requirements, and several other details.

Packing | Benjamin Eckstein | Blog
Benjamin thinks he has the packing of his gear all sorted out, so he wrote a blog about it:
A backpack is important to have.  When walking at length (like through an airport) it is great to have your most valuable items well supported on your back.  Make sure to get a backpack that can fit in most overhead compartments on airplanes.  I currently have the Kata Pro-V 410 PL.  To be frank, I got this as a warranty replacement for a Kata HB-270 which I had for a few years, but then the zipper broke. 

Cinematographer John Brawley: impressions of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera
| Rick Young | Vimeo
Having been involved with Blackmagic Design throughout the development, John has had an inside look at this camera from the early prototype stages though to the final release. John is experienced with many different cameras, from film to the extreme high end; his thoughts regarding the Blackmagic Cinema Camera provide insight as to where this camera fits in, considering the affordability and the level of quality which this camera provides.

Cinema DNG Plug-In for CS5.5 Retired from Adobe Labs | Adobe
The Cinema DNG plug-in for Creative Suite 5.5 Preview is no longer available. Please visit our blog for more information about CinemaDNG in Adobe video applications.
CinemaDNG in After Effects CS6 (and elsewhere) | Todd Kopriva | Adobe
A recent post on the Adobe Labs blog seems to have confused many people with this sentence:
“The Cinema DNG Initiative has been discontinued and is no longer hosted on Adobe Labs.”
What this is intending to communicate is simply that the experimental plug-in for CinemaDNG for Premiere Pro CS5.5 was removed from the Adobe Labs website. The CinemaDNG format continues to be an open format, and its development is not limited to Adobe.

SpeedGrade CS6 (6.0.4) Update | Eric Philpott | Adobe
Fixed: Rendered handles did not always correctly register in and out points
Fixed: Split screen view on MacBook Pro with Retina Display
Fixed: issue preventing certain types of CinemaDNG files from loading correctly

Drive-by Shooting: Using Your Car to Make Better Videos | Derek Beck | Vimeo
From the TrunkBy filming out of the trunk, it's easy to achieve a smooth tracking shot without renting expensive equipment. All you have to do is pop open the trunk and set up your tripod! To keep your shot steady, try putting some heavy sandbags around the legs of the tripod.

Zeiss ZF Primes – Lens Comparison | Den Lennie | F-StopAcademy
One of the things I love so much about Zeiss lenses is that they are incredibly well engineered. For example the end stops on the barrel of the lens have all been calibrated so that when you hit infinity it is physically the end of the lens. Unlike some other photo lenses that go beyond the infinity mark on the barrel of the lens and so that can be frustrating. This is especially annoying when you are under pressure and you are pulling your own focus because you rehearse a move then just go beyond infinity and you’ve lost focus.

Red Giant Has Released PluralEyes 3 and It Will Change Your Audio Syncing Life
| Joe Marine | No Film School
Serious Speed Boost - Syncs in seconds. Version 3 is 20x faster than Plural Eyes 2. Seriously.
New UI and Timeline – Have more confidence with a timeline and visual feedback. Users can identify problems before they happen, and watch the sync occur in real time. But don’t blink, because it will happen FAST!

Adobe Announces Photoshop Elements 11 And Premiere Elements 11
Premiere Elements 11 has a new UI experience, but it also gets a decent crop of new video effects like filters and transitions to help edited movies look more finished. Each piece of software will cost a familiar $99 individually, or you can get both for the discounted price of $149. 

Using the V-Bag on “Mobius” | Vincent Laforet | Blog
Vincent likes the V-Bag:
During the production of "Mobius" we had one such shot that could only be achieved by putting the camera directly on the ground.  Putting an expensive piece of equipment on the ground (especially your camera – the most integral piece of equipment to your shoot) can be nerve racking though.  And in the case of "Mobius" we were working with a prototype version of the C300 - so everyone was a little nervous to put it directly on the ground in the middle of the desert.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Blackmagic Resolve & Sony NEX-FS700

Something I didn’t mention in my report on Tuesday’s BOSCPUG meeting is that Rob Bessette of Finish Boston also demoed Blackmagic’s Resolve 9. Resolve is a sophisticated color grading application, and this new release features a significant UI improvement.

The previous version had the distinct impression of being designed for Linux, but this release actually is starting to look like a regular Mac/Windows app. On the downside, you still need to know how to do color correction, but the program seems simpler now; and don’t forget there’s a free version you can download and use.

Wednesday night was SMPTE New England’s meeting at Rule Boston, and Juan Martinez, Senior Product Manager, Broadcast & Professional Solutions of Sony was there to talk about 4K. They’d brought a Sony F65 and a 4K projector along, though the demo fairies struck and they had a lot of problems getting the 4K version of the Taylor Swift movie shot on the F65 to play, and had to use a 2K version instead.

I will say one thing about that F65 - it is a very wide camera; much bigger than I’d realized. I don’t think you’d be using that shoulder-mounted very much.

Juan talked about a variety of things from sensor design to AVCHD compression, but most interesting was the little bits of NEX-FS700 news.

Unfortunately, there was no official news on the NEX-FS700 4K upgrade, but they did say to check back in a month and a half. As expected, there will be a Sony 4K recording option for the FS700, but they had no comment on whether there would be support for a third-party solution. There was, perhaps, a hint that there might be…but there might not be.

Will the upgrade cost anything? No comment, though he did say his preference was not to charge unless there was a hardware change.

The FS700 has four Cinegamma’s, but no S-Log. When I asked why that was, he said that because the camera was outputting 8-bit, S-Log wouldn’t really make much difference.

Someone asked if the FS100 could be upgraded to support the new Cinegamma’s and got a definitive ‘maybe.’

Juan also delivered a spirited defense of the AVCHD compression, and when asked if they’d support 50 Mbps he said that he didn’t think they needed to.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Quick Links

Canon C100 at IBC2012 | Hireacamera | Vimeo
Den Lennie chats with C300 owner and filmmaker Nino Leitner about the C100:
I'm positively surprised that the build quality seems to be exactly the same, I mean they have the magnesium parts and, you know, it's really the same material...I think there are a few things that are a little difficult, for example you don't have 50p or 60p so there's no way of shooting slow motion.

| Filmmaker
Meehan: I would say the biggest challenge was just trying to come up with creative shots. The option was to shoot out of the cell where some light was coming in from the window that gave us this blue background. Otherwise, the walls were pretty white and they were drab, but not necessarily in the best way. I found that it didn’t look interesting drab; it just looked like I was shooting her up against a wall.

Redrock ultraCage expansions | Vincent Laforet | Blog
Now Redrock has extended their line of ultraCage systems to include baseplates and cages for the C100 and BMCC cameras.  The C100 is similar to the C300 baseplate int hat the bottom is shaped the same, but the uprights have been reconfigured to fit the new curves of the C100 body.  Also like the C300 cage, the C100 cage can use the back chassis system.

Workflow for creating a stop motion music video | Eran Stern | SternFX
Detailed step-by-step on how a stop motion video was produced:
In order to shoot the stop motion frames I used the Sony A580 DSLR camera, shooting in RAW mode. I used a Manfroto tripod and took most of the shots with 35mm 1.4 Samyang lens. We did use Moran’s Canon camera for some of the shots because I had some technical problems with my camera on one of the shoots.  I cannot stress this enough: you should always have backup plans for all the components of a production

Driving Test | Sam Morgan Moore | Vimeo
Two short videos shot with the Sony NEX-5N. That's not really interesting; what is interesting is the use of music and cutting to take essentially the same footage and give it a different feeling. You should probably watch it with the sound off first...

F65RAW Plug-in for Avid v1.0 | Sony
Sony releases a RAW plug-in for Avid for the F65:
This AMA plug-in provides supporting F65RAW MXF files in Avid MediaComposer and Symphony products, allowing viewing and editing capability.

6 Filmmaking Tips From Joss Whedon | Cole Abaius | Film School Rejects
Never Lose Sight of the Emotional Stakes
So you’re main character is a mythic beast killer? An astronaut forced to battle dragons? An accountant? No matter what genre rules you’re adhering to, what concept dressing is on the side or what toys you get to play with, don’t forget what’s centrally at stake for your characters.

Building Your Lifelong Filmmaking Career | Norman Hollyn | Moviola
A free webinar on October 31st (or pay to view later):
The skills that we need to find our next filmmaking job are constantly changing. In this webinar Norman Hollyn will show you various ways to create a career plan that will help you find your next filmmaking job, the one after that and the one 5 years from now.

The Best Film Job You’ve Never Had | Evan Luzi | The Black and Blue
What I’m trying to say is what everyone always says: networking is crucial to your career.
If you don’t network, you may never know what jobs are hidden and what you’re missing out on. It’s true that you can get by eating McDonald’s, but wouldn’t you rather have the best sandwich ever?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera at BOSCPUG

Marco Solorio of One River Media spoke at last night's Boston Creative Pro User Group about the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera. Also present were a couple of reps from Blackmagic. I'm not going to go into great length about what he said, partly because it's late, and partly because it's all there in the two videos he has already posted online:

The first compares the Canon 5D Mark III and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera at some length, while the second is a "short" that was shot using the BDCC. Marco has written a couple of extensive blog posts that covers the production of this short, and most of what he talked about at the meeting is covered there.

The Bad News
The bad news from the meeting is that production of the BDCC has been seriously constrained by a parts supplier. It appears that they aren't shipping any cameras at the moment, and they aren't really sure when they will be shipping cameras. A blog post is being prepared that will be posted today by Blackmagic explaining the situation, though it won't have any dates for delivery.

The Good News
The latitude on this camera is incredible. There's things to not like about the camera; the workflow for the RAW files is problematic, there's no audio monitoring onscreen, or aperture display at the moment, and of course, it is a smallish sensor camera. If you love wide angle shots or super-shallow depth of field, then the camera may be a challenge.

But most of the other working issues; the odd form factor, lack of ND etc., are all issues that you can face with a DSLR. Nothing seems insurmountable. Rolling shutter appears to be about the same as the 5D Mark III, and moiré was very noticeable in the test chart, though Marco seemed to think he could remove it easily enough.

But look at Marco's video - if you haven't already - and it's the dynamic range that should impress you.

Afterwards, a few of us discussed the camera over beers. I think the consensus was that it looked very good, and at $3,000 it was almost a matter of; why not get one?. Provided you could find one. Certainly, when compared to the 5D Mark III, the BDCC seems like the better video camera. So perhaps the question is really; why would you buy the 5D Mark III?

You can read the post from Grant Petty of Blackmagic here: Update on Camera Shipments
While investigating the problem our engineers found the blemishes were in the glass that covers the sensor, and not the sensor itself. This is good because the glass might just be dirty so we saw this as a quick fix, but wondered how a supplier could deliver us sensors that had blemishes, as they are supposed to pre test them.
I deeply apologize for the delay in shipping and it has been very frustrating for us as well to be sitting on a completed and tested product for a month that we cannot sell. Especially when people need them urgently.
As you can also see from the breakdown of the problem above, there has been multiple stages of testing to discover the cause of the problem so it has been hard to lock down dates or what was going on until now, so its been hard to update everyone on the exact details.
I hope this update helps people understand the delay. We should know more details about shipping times once the new glass arrives at our supplier.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A very busy Wednesday

Ever go for months with nothing to do on the weekend, and then get invited to three parties on the same day? That's what this week is shaping up to be. If you're in Boston this Wednesday, September 26, 2012, you can pick from several interesting events. I'd already posted about:

  • Learning Lab at Rule Boston Camera: The Impact of Cinema Cameras on a TV News Shooter at 10am
  • University of Massachusetts Boston Film Series showing of CRAZY HORSE at 7pm.

Now there's two more events worth checking out:

SMPTE New England4K Digital Cinematography—The Real WorldWith Juan Martinez, Sony Electronics at 6:30pm at Rule Boston Camera
Juan Martinez, Sony Senior Product Manager for Acquisition, will discuss 4K digital cinematography and how it relates to the real world. Mr. Martinez will talk about the imaging technology related to 4K, especially as it relates to the Sony equipment that he is responsible for, such as the NEX-FS700 camcorder.

Boston University Center for Digital Imaging ArtsCopyright Law – The Basics at Waltham Campus – Studio C at 6:30pm
In this interactive seminar, attorney Julia Harmatz McAneny will present information about the federal intellectual property rights known as Copyright and Trademark. Bring your questions, dispel myths, and find out how traditional laws have impacted new technology.

And if you're in Boston tonight, there's:

September 25BOSCPUG Meet: Boston Premiere of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera: 6:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Joining us from Blackmagic Design will be Bob Caniglia, who will lead off the evening with an engaging conversation on the new Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Bob will share with us the driving forces behind the decision to build a camera; what the Blackmagic Cinema Camera brings to the table, and differentiating features and functionalities of the camera itself.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Devil You Know

Recently I was chatting with a music guy that had been working on the soundtrack for a movie project.

He'd been passed the project in a rather disorganized state. It had been cut in Final Cut Pro 7, but it wasn't clear that the editor had cut many large projects in Final Cut before, and there were some problems with the project that was causing him serious grief. When he got the project it required a lot of re-rendering just to get it to play.

It turned out that the media had been imported in multiple formats rather than transcoding to ProRes. Some of the audio was in MP3 format. These are all things Final Cut Pro 7 doesn't like. He'd also tried converting it from 29.97 to 24, but had given that up when he'd discovered that all the audio got moved around after changing the frame rate. In short, he'd spent a lot of time wrangling the data in Final Cut, and I don't think he was impressed.

As I talked him through it - and it turned out he'd already done most of the things I recommended to solve the problems - I was reminded of the struggles I recently had with my first project in Adobe Premiere CS6: It occurred to me that when using a program, there are three types of skills:

  • Knowing how to use the program
  • Knowing the shortcuts that save time
  • Knowing what to avoid

It's the last of these that you can build up over years of using a program, and not even be aware that you've "learnt" them. Little things you absorb, and often can't articulate until someone draws your attention to it. The things "not to do." You have a problem with MP3 audio; so you stop using that. It's trips up on a graphic file format sometimes; you always use PNGs. And a year from now, you won't even remember why you don't use that file format any more.

This is also known by another word; experience.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Quick Links

Ridley Scott Talks RED EPIC and Explains How We Can Save the Theatrical Experience | Joe Marine | No Film School
Just recently we had one of the more respected cinematographers working today, Roger Deakins, talking about his experience using the Arri Alexa. Now, Ridley Scott gives us a little bit about his experience working with the RED EPIC in 3D and also explains how we can get people back into movie theaters

Adobe Audition: Audio Repair | Larry Jordan | Blog
How to remove power-line hum and (some) audio glitches in Adobe Audition:
Audition felt that Photoshop should not be the only software with a Spot Healing Brush, so it added one, too. I’m not going to say this brush does miracles, but, boy, its really close. This repair tool works best when you need to remove a range of frequencies, such as a beeping cell phone, without removing dialog at other frequencies.

Logic Pro for Film & TV Mixing | Ben Allan | The Film Bakery
A step-by-step guide to working in audio:
From the Final Cut Pro timeline we exported an OMF (without Levels, Pan or any other adjustments) which then imported directly into Logic Pro 9.  Because FCP (up to v7) only has Mono audio tracks , each channel comes into Logic Pro as a separate Track and Mixer Channel.
Logic itself can easily handle Stereo or Surround tracks and channels so my first task was to simplify the environment by using the Bounce Region facility to turn all of the Dual Mono Clips into Stereo Clips on Stereo Tracks.

How to color correct a horror film (using DaVinci Resolve 9) | Patrick Inhofer
| The Tao of Color
Patrick introduces a new series of instructional materials:
Viewers will be watching me work as I touch the footage for the first time. This means you’ll see my mistakes–not just successes–as well as how I get out of my predicaments. I talk out loud, imagining we’ve got you sitting right next to me and we need to get you trained up to take over for me on the night shift. And I’m never just training you only on software. Workflow, technique, client interaction–if you’re going to take over this chair we need to make sure you’re prepared.

Soon you may only have one choice of LED light in the USA!!! | Philip Johnston
| HD Warrior
I'd heard before about this suit by LitePanels, but didn't know there had been a preliminary ruling:
My good friend Alister Chapman is also up in arms… “Litepanels didn’t invent the LED, they didn’t invent the video light and I don’t think they can legitimately claim that they alone came up with the idea of using LED’s to light a scene for photo or video. This is the US patent office at it’s worst."
It could only happen in America! | Philip Johnston | HD Warrior
A follow-up post:
...a USITC Judge upheld Litepanels complaint that the only way to prevent abuse of their patent was an import ban on any type of LED lamp designed for photo or video use that may infringe on their patents.The final determination of the case is expected by January.

Adobe Cuts Forecast as Users Migrate Online | REUTERS | New York Times
Interesting result of the success of Adobe's switch to a subscription model; less short-term income.
Josh Olson, an analyst at Edward Jones, said Adobe’s fourth-quarter earnings and revenue targets indicated that the company’s transition to a more stable revenue model was happening faster than anticipated.

Why Make This Movie? 15 Answers To A Question That Should Be Asked More Often | Ted Hope | Truly Free Film
6. I think movies can change people.  I want to make films that can change people. I have always been drawn to stories that help us relate to people we might feel we have nothing in common to.  Movies allow people to walk a mile in another man’s shoes.

Space Shuttle Endeavour | Benjamin Warde | Camera Curiosities
OK, no curious cameras were involved (just a boring old Nikon D3).  But the space shuttle Endeavour flew over San Francisco today, on the back of a 747, and I had so much fun shooting it, I wanted to share a couple pictures.