Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sony A7 and A7r look good, but the RX10 is the one for video

The Sony A7 and A7r are trickling out, and we're starting to get a better idea how they perform as video cameras. It seems like the RX10 is the one for video (though at least one poster has reservations - see below.) At $1,298 the RX10 is not cheap, but it's considerably less than the A7 ($1,698) and A7r ($2,298).

It seems that if you're looking for a full-frame camera, the Canon 5D Mk III still does a better job in video than the A7r (that's disappointing.)

The RX10 is scoring because it has less moire and artifacting present in the footage compared to the A7's and it includes built in-ND filters. There's no interchangeable lenses, and the sensor is not as big as the other two, but it's small and light, (you can't have everything!)

Finally, it looks that the A7 and A7r video are very similar in quality, even though they use very different chips.

Sample video – comparing the Sony RX10, A7R and FS100 | EOSHD
Andrew Reid at EOSHD has posted a couple of pieces already about the A7's and the RX10, and also tweeted about what he's been doing:
The RX10 handles beautifully. The lens just feels fantastic. Never used such a nice aperture ring before on a fixed lens camera. In stepless mode it’s smooth and ultra precice.With active image stabilisation turned on you get a bit of a crop. With it set only to optical image stabilisation without the added electronic crop for extra stability, there’s no crop. It’s great to have two stabilisation options in the camera. With active stabilisation enabled it is approaching Olympus 5 axis IBIS for effectiveness.

On test – first impressions – Sony RX10 and A7R | EOSHD
However it’s the Sony RX10 that is arguably the most capable from a video perspective. The Sony RX10 is the most complete package we’ve had for a long time in terms of video on a stills camera. The camera it’s most comparable with is the GH3 paired with the top end Lumix 12-35mm F2.8 but it offers more…

Andrew Reid ‏@EOSHD
RX10 to @Blackmagic_News HyperDeck is producing some stunning images. I think we have a winner here!

New Sony A7 and A7r readers tests… | SonyAlphaRumors
Links to some sample video clips and some reader comments about the A7's and RX10:
On personal note, I am utterly shocked at the quality of the RX10 footage. It clearly surpasses the a7r and a7 not only in the image detail/moire test but matches it on the noise front and holds detail in the blacks better! Whatever Sony did to get that full-read-out of the 1″ chip on the RX10 is amazing, and I hope they find a way to implement that feature on APS-C/Super 35mm sensors in the near future!”

Sony A7r review | Camera Labs
Many speculated the A7 would be better at video, but in my tests below it's roughly the same in terms of noise, detail and moire, although when it comes to continuous AF the A7 was noticeably more confident thanks to its embedded phase detect AF points. The Canon EOS 5D Mark III remains the quality leader with cleaner and crisper video, suffering from zero moire in all of my samples.

The images from both are quite clean but do not resolve as well as video cameras like the C100 or Sony FS700. They also seem to exhibit fair amounts of aliasing and moire in common with cameras like the Sony NEX7, Alpha99 or Canon 7D. This is likely the result of the way pixel binning is used to downscale the high megapixel image captured by the sensor to HD resolution. 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Review | Photography Blog
This review looks at the still camera capabilities, pretty much ignoring the video:
Offering excellent image quality, great build, speedy performance, and slick ease-of-use, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 is the best super-zoom camera currently on the market. Only you can decide if all of that is worth the the admittedly substantial investment - we'd strongly suggest that it is...

Sony RX10-first look | Cinema5D
But not everyone loves the RX10 it seems:
Most important, picture quality. This camera DOES have strong aliasing and even worse, kind of micro blocking in “low light parts of the picture” or when it comes to “fine structure” like hair.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The News

Sony A7-first look | Cinema 5D
Cinema 5D takes a look at the video capabilities of Sony's new A7, and finds it an improvement over previous Sony's (like the A99) BUT they also think that the A7r will have better video (though at $2,299.99, it better be incredible!)
I'm curious to see how the two compare, as I thought when the cameras were first announced that there were people saying that the A7 would do a better job in the video department...
Sony themselves are looking at the A7r as superior in image quality when it comes to video. For that reason a dedicated full length A7r review is coming soon. Daytime Sony A7 footage will follow soon too.

Adapting Your Canon Arsenal with Duclos | Shane Hurlbut
With Canon’s new arsenal of Cinema Primes and Cinema Zooms being either PL or EOS mount, we have a predicament here. Who has the money to buy two sets of lenses? Which rental house has all this money sitting around to engage both mounts? To my knowledge, Canon will not be making their Cinema Primes in PL. Duclos has a work around and it is excellent.

10 Directors Who Remade Their Own Movies | IndieWire
For every director who’s gone back to an old well and emerged refreshed and spruced up, there are four or five who’ve fallen victim to the standard law of diminishing returns on remakes, and in what we have to believe must be even more demoralizing fashion than if the material had at least been new to them—surely the tedium of spending another two years working on a story you’ve already spent years developing, filming, and the selling has to get to some of them.

Lens Flare Lesson: How to Achieve This Beautiful 'Mistake' | Creative Planet
The lens flares that these devices prevent are optical malfunctions that occur when a powerful light source (sunlight, for example) strikes the lens and produces visible artifacts. This technical “mistake” may appear in the form of starbursts, rings or circles in a row, or as an all-encompassing haze that washes out the image. But carefully planned lens flares can be desirable, adding dramatic effect to the shot. The key is in knowing how to channel the power of light to your advantage.

Michel Gondry on Old-School Animation, His Trademark Whimsy, and Plumbing the Mind of Noam Chomsky for Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? | Filmmaker Magazine
In the works for four years, this self-explanatory project from the artist behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Dave Chapelle’s Block Party, and a veritable library of music videos is a charming and markedly low-tech doc that literally illustrates the insights of Chomsky, one of the greatest thinkers of our time.

Creative Dynamic Link workflows with Premiere Pro and After Effects | Adobe
Get the most out of the instantly-updating Dynamic Link relationship between Premiere Pro and After Effects. With great ease, you can work on video files in both applications simultaneously, seeing updates immediately in either application, and vastly expanding your special effects and compositing toolset. This lesson shows you how easy it is to connect these two powerful applications.

Can you please explain the difference between optioning a screenplay and buying the rights to a screenplay?“When somebody buys a screenplay, they own it. When somebody options a screenplay, you own it,” said Galsor. The question is how much they pay you to keep it off the market, he added, when it gets optioned.

Independent Film and the Reshoot | Filmmaker Magazine
If you ask me what’s the biggest difference between studio and independent productions, I wouldn’t answer the length of the shooting schedule or luxuriousness of the craft service. No, I’d say it’s the ability to do reshoots.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The News

If you have a NEX mount camera, I think this lens looks really interesting, the $598 Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens:
The new lens seems well suited for run-and-gun shooting with its constant f4 aperture and Optical Steadishot coupled with a nice mid-wide to mid-telephoto zoom range. Autofocus seemed quite snappy although it did struggle from time to time in the low light of our set. Manual focus is fly-by-wire which works quite well, but is no substitute for a ‘proper’ manual focus ring. It should be available before the end of the year.

Challenge your story idea. Imagine yourself asked to watch it. Really imagine others committing the time to view it. Understand what you and your friends would appreciate about a movie version of your idea, then go for it.

HEVC H.265 Royalties Are Killing It Even Before It Takes Off?Cinescopophilia
Is High Efficiency Video Coding, HEVC or H.265 as it is also known the Y2K Bug of the fimmaking revolution? Is H.265 the supposed replacement for the H.264 codec a lot of noise, a lot of hype, a lot of attention with the possibly of it never actually doing anything? Quite possibly so.

5 Reasons to Stop Using a Paper Shot List | Dare Dreamer
With Shot Lister you can instantly change the plan with a flick of the finger. Want to shoot your pickup shots at the end of the day? Don’t draw arrows everywhere, just drag and release. Your actress suddenly taking an hour longer in makeup? Just add more time, and the app recalculates your schedule without your needing to do arithmetic in the margins.

Ask the Screenplay Doctor: Joining a script writing group | New England Films
One writers’ group in the Boston area is Harvard Square Scriptwriters. Last month I was invited as a guest speaker by Genine Tillotson, the Director of HSSW, to discuss screenwriting and the business of screenwriting. For this month’s column, I spoke with Genine Tillotson about HSSW.

Fenwick has a new project | Chris Fenwick
In the subsequent months I recommended to my office that we move all of our projects to Final Cut Pro X. I would be lying if I told you that the move was simple. However, the difficulties were not in what the application could and could not do, but instead the major difficulties were caused by individuals who did not want to let go of the past.

Product Review: Final Cat Pro Utilities | Larry Jordan
Final Cat Pro created a suite of ten services for FCP X. Services are built into the operating system, they accept input from the user, process it, then do something with it. (The technical term is “inter-process communication.”) Spotlight is a service, so is spell-checking. Services can be applied across the entire operating system, or localized to one specific application. In the case of Final Cat, the services apply only to Final Cut Pro X.

New Technology Coming to Cinema EOS | Canon Rumors
Secondly, it seems there’s a possibility of a full frame Cinema EOS camcorder coming down the pipeline.  While you can currently get full frame 4K recording (16:9 crop from the full frame sensor) with the EOS-1D C, the C100, C300 and C500 are Super35 sensor cameras.

Roundtable: 5 Top Cinematographers on Why 3D Is 'Unnecessary,' Refusing to Give Advice to Actors and Film vs. Digital | The Hollywood Reporter
In THR's first Cinematographer Roundtable, Barry Ackroyd ("Captain Phillips"), Sean Bobbitt ("12 Years a Slave"), Bruno Delbonnel ("Inside Llewyn Davis"), Stuart Dryburgh ("The Secret Life of Walter Mitty") and Phedon Papamichael ("Nebraska") reveal the biggest surprises about being a DP, the directors who have inspired them and why the movies they shoot aren't always the movies we see.

Good audio is always a good idea:

Footage from the $5,499 PXW-Z100. Great...if you have a 4K display;

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The News

Are Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) Files Backwards Compatible w/ CS6? | ProDesignTools
Adobe officially states, “Each of the following CC apps support the ability to export to the CS6 version of the program: Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Flash Pro, Dreamweaver, and After Effects” – with the caveat that, “New features added may not be supported in the exported file or implemented by the CS6 application.” And the same would go for CS5, CS4, or CS3.

Fare-thee-well Magic Bullet Grinder | ProVideoCoalition
Grinder’s demise probably happened upon the launch of Magic Bullet BulletProof. The good folks at Red Giant confirmed that Grinder is indeed gone. That is entirely understandable as BulletProof is a one-stop-shop data-wrangling and DIT tool for all things DSLR. BulletProof incorporates pretty much every feature that Grinder had so it might seem rather pointless for Grinder to still be developed. 
Red Giant replied:
Red Giant ‏@RedGiantNews
Our plan is to add more automation to Bulletproof in 2014 that should make grinder truly obsolete.

QuickTime is deprecated? What does that mean in practice? | Philip Hodgetts
The writing was on the wall when the development QTkit (the 64 bit version of QuickTime) slowed to a stop, as I outlined in the earlier article. The rise of AVFoundation (and below that Core Media, Core Audio, Core Animation etc) was absolutely the best indicator that QuickTime was going away.

Which Is Better: To Rent a Camera, or Buy one? (Part One) | Wolcrow
Here’s a typical noob thought-process:
If I rent a camera it’s going to cost me X. Since I’m shooting Y days and the rental price is Z, the total is almost X. So, why not buy the camera instead?
I made that mistake with my first camera, but won’t do it again. Why not? Here are some reasons:

Kinefinity KineRAW MINI review | EOSHD
Aside from Blackmagic there’s only one other company endeavouring to give us affordable cinema cameras at the moment and that’s Kinefinity. The MINI is a smaller cut down version of their S35, shooting 2K uncompressed raw to SSD from a Super 35mm sensor. It has an option for 4K to an external record (Q1 2014) and it’s a powerful piece of kit, though I have some reservations about usability.

ALAN MCCABE Anamorphic Lenses | Extension 765
 Anamorphic lenses are a beautiful thing; their various technical anomalies are all aesthetic plusses in my book, and with the sensitivity of digital, the slowness of the lenses isn’t a factor anymore. Watching “scope” films as a young filmmaker and then making films in that format as an adult, I realized there was a certain kind of framing and staging--or rather, and certain kind of approach to framing and staging--that compelled me.

Episode 98 - Catching Fire: Procedural Fire FX with Trapcode Particular | Red Giant
In this episode of Red Giant TV, Michael Park shows you how to create a procedural fire effect (an effect that is entirely software-driven, and requires no external smoke or fire images) over a logo with Trapocode Particular.

Doc NYC Review: ‘Shooting Bigfoot’ Takes A Hilarious Look At Americans’ Obsession With Sasquatch | IndieWire
For some reason, we are in the midst of a mini-sasquatch frenzy. It seems like there are at least a half dozen basic cable shows devoted to finding, cataloguing, and trapping the legendary bigfoot monster; a hairy, humanoid creature said to resemble primitive man. There have been just as many low-budget horror movies devoted to the creature in recent years, including a new film by Bobcat Goldthwait—found-footage flick “Willow Creek” that was just picked up by MPI.

Sound Devices 633 is a Compact Six-Input Mixer With Integrated 10-Track RecorderCinescopophilia
A nice looking device - but it's $3,095:
The Sound Devices 633 offers six analog inputs and records to SD and CompactFlash memory cards. The 633 is designed for audio professionals requiring go-anywhere portability, without compromising recording or mixing capability. The 633 offers three high-bandwidth mic/line inputs on XLR connectors, complete with phantom power, highpass filter, input limiter and variable pan.

Retina iPad Mini's Display Criticized Over Poor Color Gamut and Accuracy | MacRumors
Last week, we noted that some Retina iPad mini displays were exhibiting image retention issues, while in general other users were expressing some dissatisfaction with the color gamut of the Retina iPad mini's display, particularly compared to that of the iPad Air. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The News

A new small and light mic intended for basic portable recording, and it's just $99:
The mic weighs a mere 73g (2.5oz) and also equipped with the excellent Rycote Lyre suspension system similar to that on the latest VideoMic. This eliminates a lot handling noise and the occasional bump by isolating the mic effectively from the camera.

New H.265 codec on test – ProRes 4444 quality for 1% of the file size | EOSHD
CineMartin are the first company I know of to give us H.265 HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) conversion with the just-announced CINEC v2.7. It supports up to 4K resolution and you can try it today.
In case you live at 12 Under Rock Drive, the H.265 standard is the biggest codec of the decade. It supersedes today’s most common codec for encoding and internet delivery of video (H.264) and makes 4K recording to SD cards possible on DSLRs.

Perspective Control and Tilt-Shift Lenses | B & H
Tilt-shift offers a hands-on approach to optical manipulation and perspective control. Tilt determines the plane of focus by allowing you to point a lens at an angle other than perpendicular to the image plane. As a normal lens can only focus on a singular plane, the areas of sharpness in a photo will be the same distance from the camera. With tilt, focal points become pliable.

The Letus Anamorphx Adapter – Part 1 | Wide Open Camera
Unless you were a big time filmmaker you probably would never have the opportunity to see an anamorphic lens, never mind using one.   However within the past two years things have changed.  Filmmakers started to revisit the idea of  2:40:1 as the resolution of cameras increased but number of pixels wasted on the top and bottom of a 16:9 image (to make a 2.40:1 widescreen frame) did not.  Everyone was throwing away resolution that could be retained by squeezing the image into the same area.

Rethinking the Value of the Short Film: an Open Letter to Vimeo by Robin Schmidt | No Film School
I’ve heard many arguments over the years extolling great ways to monetize short films. But no one wants to pay to watch short films. I have to ask myself honestly whether I would donate money through the Tip Jar on Vimeo or not and the answer is no. I’ve funded many crowdsourcing campaigns, but I don’t feel moved to donate to a finished project. The value proposition is all wrong for a selfish consumer – What’s in it for me?

Watch: 45-Minute Roundtable With Cinematographers For '12 Years A Slave,' 'Inside Llewyn Davis' & More | IndieWire
Barry Ackroyd ("Captain Phillips"), Sean Bobbitt ("12 Years a Slave"), Bruno Delbonnel ("Inside Llewyn Davis"), Stuart Dryburgh ("The Secret Life of Walter Mitty") and Phedon Papamichael ("Nebraska") take part in the conversation about their approach to the job, building relationships with filmmakers and the ever present issue of 3D (a discussion that seems lacking without the participation of "Gravity" lenser Emmanuel Lubezki).

Reality TV’s worker scandal: Shows accused of stealing millions in wages |
“I’ve worked up to 20 days straight, at least 16 hour days, with no time off and received the same pay [as] had I worked a regular 5 day, 40 hour work week,” wrote one unnamed respondent. WGAE alleges that the industry evades accountability in part by wrongly classifying employees as “independent contractors” or “supervisors” rather than rank-and-file employees.

A cheap way to create some interesting light effects.

Filmmaker Ty Evans took our Movi M10 and Red Epic out to shoot a few skateboarders out in Los Angeles. The Arri/ Zeiss Ultra Prime 8R lens was used to capture the action.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The News

Last week was InterBee 2013, and News Shooter has posted some interesting reports from the event. The three most interesting over the last couple of days:

I have to say I am tremendously impressed with the results. It seems quite responsive without looking like a mechanical movement. In our tests we let the camera try to track the subject continuously to see how well it coped, but I think my preference would be to set the autofocus to only active when the Push AF button is pressed. It is however a shame that the AF box is currently locked to the centre of the frame and is not movable.

Fostex are an established maker of audio products and are best known for their range of sound recorders. At Inter BEE they were showing several new products – a simple minijack stereo mic adapter called the AR101 for iPhone and DSLR, and the AR501 XLR phantom power adapter that optionally connects to the AR701 fader and AR704 mixer units.

In this 17 minute video, Dan interviews Mr Takuro of Sony, a Product Planner for the digital imaging group in charge of semi-pro and professional camcorders. The discussion starts with the PXW-Z100, Sony’s first 4K handicam camcorder, and he makes some interesting comments about the Atomos Samurai.
When asked about the new RX10 and it's interesting combination of features he says that "the person that planned this camera used to work on the professional cameras."
There's some discussion about Sony's divisions, how soon we'll be all using 4K, whether prosumers want RAW, he pretty much ignores a chance to talk about 3D, and they also talk about the future of camera stabilization.
You're not really going to learn much about products or what's coming, but it does give you a bit of a sense of how Sony does things.

XEffects Panel Flip 2: Free Transition Plugin for Final Cut Pro X FCPX | idustrial revolution
Panel Flip 2 is a free transition plugin for Final Cut Pro X that follows on from the first Panel Flip.
This time, the screen is split into two horizontally, then the two panels twist on the Y axis to reveal the incoming video or media. There are controls for timing, so both panels can rotate together, one after the other or staggered. There is a rotation direction control for each of the panels and a slider to adjust the acceleration of the twist.

Top 14 tips for getting KILLER stills that will help sell your film | Chris Jones Blog
1. Understand that this is not art… pictures should look like the movieGet photos that look like they are from the movie – tone, lighting, mood, action. You need an image that authentically captures the spirit of the directors vision as well as genre and central premise. 

"What is a Colorist?" from icolorist | vimeo
Interesting short video that explains what color grading is all about (for those who don't know.)

BMPCC RAW in NOKTON | moribun | Vimeo
More Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera footage:
I tried the OpenFX “FilmConvert Pro” in DaVinci Resolve. And I adjusted some exposure and saturation.
My workflow
①Shooting with the "Lossless compressed CinemaDNG RAW” file.
②Importing the CinemaDNG RAW file to DaVinci Resolve, and exporting as the ProRes422 file.
③Importing the ProRes422 file to FCP X and editing.
④Exporting XML file from FCP X.
⑤Importing XML file to DaVinci Resolve.
⑥Color Correcting & Grading in DaVinci Resolve.
⑦Round trip to FCP X.

Fall in Raw Pocket | Ignacio Sanchez | Vimeo
And another BMPCC shot:
I feel this camera is intended to work best with 16mm and Super16 lenses, they have the vintage soft look I am always searching for. The modern m4/3 lenses look to me very harsh, too sharp and very contrasty. I´m glad I had plenty of 16mm glasses from the Bolex days, all of them waiting to release in the Pocket world. 

Ludovico Bettarello compares 8 different cameras: Nikon D5200, Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Nikon D500, Canon 5D MkIII, Canon C500, Sony F55, Red Epic and Arri Alexa.