Friday, October 11, 2013

The News

IBC: 4K and better pixels | Benjamin B | American Society of Cinematographers
The catch phrase of the IBC conferences was that the manufacturers should not simply offer more pixels, but “better pixels”. This is an acknowledgement that resolution is just one of the elements that contribute to image quality. The key elements for 4K cameras, workflows and television distribution that came up were:

Shoot Like An Editor: 7 Tips That Will Make You A More Valuable Shooter | DSLR Video Shooter
3. Overlap your shots
If you are filming something with a lot of action and several takes and angles, make sure you get the full action recorded from every angle. This will make edited and cutting much easier and give you the largest set of options in post.

Interview with Arri product manager Marcus Duerr about the Amira

Exclusive: SLR Magic ANAMORPHOT 1,33X 50 pricing announced | EOSHD
SLR Magic are now running a volunteer program providing shooters with a full kit including the anamorphic, a prime lens and a set of new SLR Magic diopters especially designed for anamorphic.

A Master Class in 5 Scenes From Gravity Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki | Vulture
In order to pull off the scene, then, Cuarón and Lubezki jerry-rigged the car so that some of the seats would rotate in and out, seamlessly allowing the camera (operated from the roof of the vehicle) to go wherever it needed to. But make no mistake, that car was really moving, and the shoot was dangerous and unprecedented. 

How robots filmed Hollywood’s latest blockbuster, ‘Gravity’ | VentureBeat
Hollywood’s latest blockbuster Gravity was filmed by robots. Four giant industrial robots whisked props, lights and even actors around the set in a ballet of split-second precision, as well as doing the camerawork. They call it cinematic automation.

Jon Yi shooting Paul McCartney event with Canon C300 | Instagram
I'm looking through you...

Upcoming Events

Saturday, November 2nd. High Output Studios, Canton MA
Coffee & Bagels at 9:30 AM. Seminars from 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon

Tuesday, October 15, Newton MA
Les Zellan, owner of Cooke Optics, will present an interactive look at the history of lens design and manufacturing from the late 1900s to the present day.
Also, Jon Fauer, ASC, Publisher and Editor of Film and Digital Times

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fixing Jello Problems with the Phantom Quadcopter

I continue to be amazed, and charmed by the Phantom Quadcopter. I still can’t get over how easy it is to fly, and I say that despite having already had one close encounter of the tree variety(!) It’s amazingly easy to control. Even with only 20 minutes of flight time under my belt, I can get it to go where I want it too…mostly, and as long as I allow myself some space to make up for those times I go left instead of right, I’m pretty confident about flying it. That’s the good news.

The bad news; you can get a fair amount of jello in your video due to vibration from the aircraft transferring to the camera. I’m flying a Sony HDR-AS15, but people flying the GoPro have reported the same results.

So how do you remove it; or negate it?

There seems to be two major solutions offered by the gurus of the web, though I’ve recently come across a third possible “jello-fixer,” so I’ll cover that last.

Anti-vibration mount
There’s at least two carbon fiber mounts being sold for reducing jello. I’m not sure that it’s the carbon fiber that’s doing the trick; I think it’s the rubber grommets between the two pieces of carbon fiber that are doing all the heavy lifting (or dampening.)

I’ve also seen one YouTube video where the flyer suggested using silicon dampening material between the mount and the air frame (see below).

I’ve ordered an anti-jello kit because I think it’s the thing most likely to have the biggest effect (though I have no proof of this statement.)

In the meantime, I did try using some rubber sheeting about 1/8 thick to isolate the camera from the frame, and I actually think it did reduce the jello effect noticeably. On two flights without the rubber I saw noticeable jello, but on two using the rubber sheeting, if the jello effect was in evidence, at least it wasn’t glaring.

Using a piece of rubber between the camera and the mount to reduce vibration. Note that Duct Tape (not shown) is then judiciously applied to keep the camera (and rubber) attached to the frame!

But I’m waiting for an anti-jello kit.[DJI Phantom GoPro Anti Vibration Anti-Jello Vibration Isolator Low Profile Carbon Fiber Mount $16.99]

This video shows the effect, prop balancing and one method for dampening using a silicon-based material.

If you have the money to spend, you could also go with a brushless mount. DJI even sells one just for the Phantom, but it's expensive and hasn't gotten great reviews. At least on Amazon.

The next theory of vibration reduction is “balancing the props.” This one I’m not so sure about. I can understand the idea behind the theory; having a propeller that’s heavier on one side causes instability. But these are molded, plastic propellers that I don’t think are going to be significantly out of balance.

Furthermore, if you argue “sure it’s small, but these are small props so small differences can have big effects”, well sure, BUT, the solution for balancing them involves sanding material off the propeller, or adding plastic strips to the propellers i.e. changing their shape. If you can convince me that changing the weight of the propeller in a small way will change the propellers operation, then surely changing the shape of the propeller could similarly effect things?

So I guess I’m not convinced. Also, unfortunately, of the two or three videos I've watched so far, everyone prop-balanced their copter also added some isolation method; so was the prop-balancing really a factor?

That said, I have ordered a prop-balancer [JMT Carbon Fiber Magnetic Propeller Balancer] because it was under $10, and I thought I’d give it a try. Just being able to tell people that I bought a “Prop Balancer” is worth the price!

Here's a good video on balancing: The prop balancer shown, I think, is this one

Final Theory – lowering the shutter speed
The last suggestion for improving performance is lowering the shutter speed. Place an ND filter in front of the camera and lower the shutter speed. I can see how that would create a more blurred image; I’m just not sure how it reduces the jello effect. It may mask it, rather than fix it.

One other problem; you don’t have the ability on these cameras to set the shutter speed manually, so you don’t really know what shutter speed and ISO you’re going to end up with.

I’m holding off on this one for the moment, though it might be useful to change the image by adjusting the exposure.

GoPro DJI Phantom Quadcopter-Reducing the Jello Effect | Polar Pro

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Quick Links

Directing Movies: Few Know More Than the Cinematographer | Variety
“It’s kind of shocking that you don’t see more (d.p.’s make the transition) because a lot of times these guys are the most experienced on the set,” says Phil d’Amecourt, the William Morris Endeavor agent who reps Pfister as a director.

DIY Monday:The Screenwriter’s Toolkit | MovieMaker
This week’s DIY Monday is Basil Shadid’s The Screenwriter’s Toolkit -  18 exercises to combat writer’s block, two-dimensional characters, inert scenes, and everything else plaguing your script –  taken from MovieMaker‘s 2014 Complete Guide to Making Movies, on stands now.

Does Technology Make Us Better Filmmakers? | Brian Troy | Zacuto
Film or no film, I’m no Orson Welles and I’m obviously not James Cameron. Am I against technology?  No.  Do I want a Zacuto EVF and a 7” field monitor that has 1200 x 800 resolution with false color, peaking and a button that can call my car around?  You better believe it!  I’m just posing a question.

Festival Spotlight Friday: What’s a Festival Worth? | MovieMaker
Identifying the benefits of fest participation to improve your ROI.

DV Expo 2013: The MŌVI & the Micro Remote – A Winning Combination | HDSLR Shooter
The first video shows Valente’s walking demonstration shot with the MŌVI, demonstrating how easy it is to get that highly coveted “long take” shot that even Orson Welles would be proud of.

Now, when I see good video journalism, the thing that I admire most after the story or narrative is good lighting. Making nice frames is easy. I honestly don’t understand how’s technical editor Matt Allard gets his lights everywhere. But what I do know is — he’s not relying on his camera’s low light sensitivity capabilities to make beautiful pictures.

#HackingArts | Digital Bolex
Pretty much what I wrote about at Filmmaker Magazine...

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Quick Links - the BMCC edition

Some Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera news....(including the fact that, according to B & H: it usually ships in 2-4 months - say what??!!!!)

Black Magic Pocket Camera Review Compared To DSLR and Red Epic | Learning DSLR
The issue that bothers me the most might be surprising, it is not the battery life, it is the lack of white balance control, this is because I am not a colorist and I want to get it right in camera. You can not make real time white balance changes you have to enter the menu and then come back, I want to see the difference in color temp when I change it so I can dial it in.

We finally got our hands on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and took it for a spin. Check out the pros and cons of this little camera that wants to play with the big boys.

This at least is available now...
DV Expo 2013: Redrock Micro LiveLens MFT for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera | HDSLR Shooter
The BMPCC is a “MFT” or micro four thirds camera, and you won’t be able to use your EOS lenses without an adapter.  If you have “EF” or “L” glass this means if you use the standard “cold” adapter, you won’t have any control over the exposure.  The Redrock Micro LiveLens MFT™ is the first active lens adapter that enables Canon EF lenses to be used with any MFT camera.

Distributing Films In The Internet Age: Interviews with Pivotshare and Fandor | Filmmaker Magazine
The Film, TV & Digital Session at the recent Hacking Arts event focused on film distribution, with panelists Richard Matson from Gathr Films, Adam Mosam from Pivotshare and Albert Reinhardt from Fandor. The panel was moderated by Elle Schneider of Digital Bolex.

Criticwire Survey: Game-Changers | Indiewire
This weekend, Gravity set a record for the biggest October opening weekend in history. But that's small potatoes compared to the claims some critics have made that it represents the dawning of a new era in movies. What's a film you thought would change movies forever, and were you right?

Regular film submission deadline: Film must be postmarked by October 31, 2013

Some Fun (and educational) Videos

A Story of Hope by Funky Medics | Vimeo
Dave Legion and the amazing folks at Funky Medics put this together for the FH Foundation, in Adobe After Effects using Mettle's FreeForm + MamoWorld's Lip Sync. Great animation and a great cause. Check it out. Dave wants to send out a big thanks and shout out to Daniel Gies, whose work and tutorials inspired and helped him tremendously. Please help spread the word by sharing this link.

JetStrike Video Tour | YouTube
3D models of aircraft for use in Element 3D and After Effects. Looks cool, but is there a F-14 Tomcat? I can't find a list of aircraft on their site! (The product is being released today)

If you're interested in this product, read this post about making the models look their best:
Aerial Photography with JetStrike
One of the things I learned while creating the JetStrike teaser (in only 3 days!) is the importance of aerial photography. Part of making Jets look powerful and life-sized is shooting them in a realistic way. Of course we can add a touch of Hollywood’s hyper realism but starting with a foundation based on real aerial photographer is critical. With less than a week away from the JetStrike release, I figured I should share my findings.

Matt Morris – iPhone 5S Adventure Goes Diving Off a Cliff With the New iPhone 5S | 148apps
“Matt Morris – iPhone 5S Adventure” is a short film that was shot completely on the iPhone 5S, showcasing the new camera and other features of the phone. With that, why not create some fun and entertaining videos? That’s what these guys did during their latest adventure to the skate park, parking garage, and cliffs!

Analysis of the Hitchcock Style: THE POWER OF THE CLOSE UP w/ Guillermo Del Torro, John Carpenter | YouTube

Monday, October 07, 2013

The News

“Making a Film is Like Climbing a Mountain”: Director Nick Ryan on the Staggering Logistics of Making K2 Documentary The Summit | Filmmaker Magazine
We all draw. Then some of us get to the age of seven or eight and we kind of think it’s childish. You don’t want to draw anymore and you move on to something else. So everyone has these raw abilities that many grow out of. Filmmaking, if you look at it out of context, is kind of ridiculous, but to be able to actually make something, which hopefully has a meaning and a message, I think that’s wonderful. It’s a privilege.

FCP X: Soften Skin Texture Quickly | Larry Jordan
However, for those situations where you either don’t yet own Beauty Box, or the deadline requires something that will render REALLY fast, here’s a technique you can use to soften skin tones and add a bit of a glow to a romantic closeup.

Sony and Canon Glass on NEX at the Cincinnati Reds | Swainhart
For this little demo we are comparing the Sony E-Mount 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Zoom Lens with the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM, using the Canon Extender 2x III, attached to the 5N with the Metabones Canon EF Lens to Sony NEX Camera Speed Booster.

Interested in the GoPro Hero 3+ Black?
GoPro Hero 3+ And Hero 3 Black Side By Side Comparison | WideOpenCamera
This video just looks at the exterior to the two units.

GoPro Hero3+ and Hero3 Head to Head | YouTube
This is side-by-side video.

Best Camera for Under $1000 | Weapons of Mass Production | YouTube
This is practically out-of-date (less than a year old!!) but an amusing comparison between the Canon T4i, Sony NEX-6, Panasonic GH2 and the hacked Panasonic GH2. It's still interesting - and the T5i not that different from the 4i - and comes to a final, but rather mixed conclusion:
So we have our winner - This is the Canon T4i - I'm not totally thrilled with this camera, this thing is a trade-off and it's a little bulkier than say the's not the best overall, but it is the best balanced camera.

Editor: The Amateur vs. The Professional | Josh Short | ScreenLight
How is it that the professional editor in a $20,000+ non-linear editing suite has to compete with the 18-year-old neighbor with a MacBook Pro and FCPX who lives in his mother’s basement?

The Top Video Marketing Mistakes (and Solutions) | ReelSEO
Shooting and editing web video takes time, and cutting corners doesn't do you any favors. If your production looks rushed or amateurish, viewers may not want to watch it—they may even see it as an unflattering representation of your business, and leave your site altogether.

A @freefly MoVi tour of Rule Boston Camera | Michael N Sutton | Vimeo
Mike made this short walk-through video of Rule Boston Camera. It gives you a good feel for MoVi footage, though Mike has only been operating the unit for a few days. You can definitely notice a slight up-down motion during some of the walks. One possible solution for minimizing this effect I've heard is to use a Steadicam vest and arm with the MoVI.

Meanwhile, in the world of Quadcoptering...
I took the quadcopter out today and ended up doing a little weed-whacking. That's what happens when you fly in light rain, and too low and too close to little trees. Fortunately, no damage to quadcopter, camera, or even the tree, maybe just a bit to my pride!