Friday, January 10, 2014

Bits & Pieces

10 Stupid Mistakes Screenwriters Make | Raindance Film Festival
So you want to write a screenplay? That’s fantastic! But why? Is it to make a lot of money? Or is it to impress your friends? Is it because you have a story to tell that will work best in the cinema?
Try and write your screenplay before you decide the ‘why’ you want to write it. will eman, almost cetainly, your writing will be encumbered.

Attention, Documentary Filmmakers: Here Are 9 Tips for Finding and Securing the Archival Material You Need | IndieWire
1. Beware the internet."Everything is being pulled from the web and then, under deadline pressure, [filmmakers] are trying to find out who owns it. Usually, those filmmakers end up having to hire a very experienced research clearance person to try to sort out things. There's a way to work with things from the internet, but it's the wrong approach to take everything as placeholders and then at the very end, under a time crunch, try to figure out how it's all going to be licensed." -- Scott Norman

DIY Monday: Telling the Truth Without Paying for it | MovieMaker
Potential Legal ThreatsFacts and historical events cannot be copyrighted, so when a moviemaker is creating a film based on true events and real people, he or she is not typically exposed to liability for potential copyright claims that may be brought by the subjects of the true story. However, the subjects of the true story may well raise one or more of the claims mentioned above.

Jerry Lewis' Invaluable, Impossibly Rare 'The Total Filmmaker' Resurfaces | IndieWire
But his prize possession was a copy of Jerry Lewis' The Total Film-Maker, compiled in 1971 from lectures Lewis gave while lecturing at the University of Southern California. Then, used copies ran about a hundred dollars; now they're up above $500. But thanks to Cinephilia and Beyond, the book, which many regard as the best ever published on directing, is available for the first time in decades. Of course, it may not last long.

Introducing BeetleCopter and Camtraptions | Burrard-Lucas Blog
BeetleCopter is the next instalment of the BeetleCam Project. I have built a remote-control multirotor copter for my camera (actually, I have built several to accommodate different sized cameras ranging from a GoPro up to Canon 5D Mark III). The camera is attached to a stabilised gimbal suspended under the body of copter.

At last! You can now buy a 4K laptop! | Red Shark News
We think this is less of the start of a trend than the starting gun for every other manufacturer. Even though screens of this size are really to small to do full justice to 4K (people compain that they can't tell the difference between HD and 4K on a 50" screen - but you do sit pretty close to a laptop display) that's not going to stop the deluge of 4K laptops that will follow this first step by Toshiba.

Sony Super 35mm | Facebook
Using a Super 16 lens on a Sony shoot HD on the 4K sensor.
"Our Super 16mm Setup. Huge zoom range is fantastic. Classic canons via AbelCine. Living on 11-165. #PartsUnknown"- shared by Zach Zamboni (@zachzamboni) 

Meet Colorist Jim Wicks | Mixing Light
Meet Colorist Jim Wicks in this podcast interviewIn this installment of the Mixing Light Colorist Profile series, we are honored to have colorist, color correction news guru and all around nice guy Jim Wicks.Based in West Palm Beach Florida, Jim is a colorist working in lots of different genres, but the one that fascinates me the most is color restoration. Jim has digitally color corrected dozens of classic films including some classic Mexican films from the golden age of Mexican cinema.

Martin Scorsese A Letter to my Daughter
For the last few years, I’ve realized that the idea of cinema that I grew up with, that’s there in the movies I’ve been showing you since you were a child, and that was thriving when I started making pictures, is coming to a close. I’m not referring to the films that have already been made. I’m referring to the ones that are to come.

The Amazing Rejection Letter Disney Sent In 1938 To A Woman Who Wanted To Be An Animator
Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that task is performed entirely by young men. For this reason, girls are not considered for the training school.

And if you're in Boston
- A Conversation with Film Editor Crispin Struthers (AMERICAN HUSTLE) | BOSCPUG
January 30th
A Don't Miss! We welcome Crispin Struthers who joins us for a special conversation on his work on AMERICAN HUSTLE. Bring your questions with you for Crispin to engage with you - there will be plenty of time for questions!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Quick Links

Kevin Pearce and Lucy Walker Talk The Crash Reel | Filmmaker Magazine
I went to a screening for this movie and found this documentary fascinating. As well as the Q & A afterwards:
Watching the movie, consisting of so much footage of events just prior to the accident, as well as footage of the accident, it was easy to assume that the filmmakers had already been following Pearce when the accident happened. But as Walker revealed in the Q & A, she didn’t even know Pearce at that point.

Affordable 4K cameras galore at CES! GREAT! Now can we also have some stunning HD shooting DSLR cameras too pretty please? | Philip Bloom
Philip wants better HD; maybe just subsample the 4K down to HD:
One of the things I am most curious about is what the actual HD image is like. After all with these 4K cameras popping up, and I am sure many more will follow, I ask the obvious question, “Shouldn’t you get your HD image right first?” The GH3 does have one of the better HD images out there, but it does have image issues.

Footage from the Sony 4K Handycam FDR-AX100

Red Giant and FCPX 10.1 (Part 2) | Red Giant
Good news! Magic Bullet Looks has been thoroughly tested by our QA team and is officially compatible with FCPX 10.1. To be clear, if you are on the latest version of Looks, no update is needed.

Get close up with the new HXR-NX3/VG1 | Sony
Den Lennie gives his impressions of the recently released Sony HXR-NX3 (it's on Sony's site)
I’ve used Sony cameras for over 20 years, and one area where they’ve always pushed the envelope is the sensor. I shoot most of the time with big-sensor camcorders. But I’m delighted with the Full HD pictures I’m getting from the 3x Exmor CMOS Sensor chip in the NX3 – the contrast, the saturation, the colours and the sheer resolution. Sony have really spent time getting great performance out of this sensor, and it shows… even in low light that’s a big challenge for any camera.

Everything You Need to Know to Get Started with 4K RAW on the FS700 | No Film School
So if you’re looking to get started with shooting 4K RAW on the FS700, the fine folks at Magnanimous Media have put together this excellent tutorial video that demystifies the entire process from camera setup and shooting all the way through to a few different post pipelines

Adding Handle to Sound Bites using Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects | Pro Video Coalition
Chris’ preferred tool for this is Adobe After Effects. Yes, Adobe Premiere Pro also has time remapping and frame blending, but after much experimentation Chris found the Premiere solution simply wasn’t as good or easy to use as After Effects. But in the event you’re an editor more than a motion graphics artist, he also shows in the course how to start with an edited clip already in a Premiere sequence and Dynamic Link it into After Effects to take advantage of the superior tools there.

Tiffen 10-Stop Filter Called Tiffen ND 3.0 | Cinescopophilia
The Tiffen ND 3.0 is a Neutral Density filter providing 10-stop exposure absorption. The high density blocks light emission of the visual spectrum into the camera, allowing you to photograph with a much slower shutter speed or at a wider aperture than required.

It’s All About The Workflow! | Crews Control
From acquisition through post, these cameras have distinct advantages over rivals, including the RED, as well as Canon’s C300 and 5D. The F5 & F55 one up the competition when it comes to ergonomics and lower power consumption. Additionally, Sony’s high quality XAVC codec allows a more efficient postproduction workflow.

The pole for your camera is getting better and better with the Quik Pod DSLR/POV Ultra and Quik Pod Explorer 3. These are easy ways to get a self portrait and a better perspective of your action.

CES: Technicolor Taking on Dolby Vision With High Dynamic Range Imaging System | The Hollywood Reporter
Technicolor is presenting a high dynamic range (HDR) imaging technology demonstration with an eye toward improving the consumer viewing experience – effectively taking on Dolby’s newly announced Dolby Vision, which is another development aimed at offering higher dynamic range to create better pictures, whether for HD or 4K content.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Quick Links

Sony's New 4K Consumer Cam Unveiled | News Shooter
At CES Sony have surprised by announcing the FDR-AX100 , a compact handheld camcorder that offers 4K video resolution using a 1″ 20MP sensor (14MP in video mode) and a 12x f2.8-f4.5 lens. It usefully features built in ND filters and records at up to 30fps using Sony’s XAVC-S codec XAVC-S (the consumer version of XAVC that is found on the F5/55).

Here's a video shot with Sony's PXW-Z100 4K Camera (that's the $5,400 camera, not the just announced $1,999 camera.)

Mac Pro and Premiere Pro CC (mid Dec 2013) | Philip Hodgetts
This article also provides an interesting perspective on the different ways Final Cut and Premiere let the user configure playback performance.
The different approach to controlling performance typifies the approach each company takes. Adobe gives fine control, down to using different resolutions for playback and paused (where you would use Full in most cases). The control geek in me likes that, and in the right hands it’s a good tool, but it requires the user to understand the connection between playback resolution and performance.

Mac Pro vs. iMac: Video Compression | Larry Jordan
I was totally surprised by these findings. Until we start to see applications optimized to take advantage of the power of the Mac Pro, if video compression is your key task, a high-end iMac is your best choice.

Soloshot2 | Videomaker
I'm intrigued by this remote control camera robot. It seems you wear a device and it tracks your movement. I'd love to see more footage shot with it to see how good a job it does. I was looking at remotely controlled HD cameras a while back, and they can be very expensive...this thing is a fraction of the price.
This second version adds vertical control, ultimately an accessory allows it to automatically pan, tilt and zoom. It does what many crew members have had to do.
You can pre-order it, and it's $399. Learn more at the Soloshot website

Zero Gravity (With Tim Webber and Peter Wiggins) GCS021 | Go Creative
Today we speak with Tim Webber the brilliant visual effects supervisor for blockbusters like Avatar, The Dark Knight and the recent mega-film Gravity. Tim takes us behind the scenes of Gravity and walks us through his experience creating one of the most technically challenging films in cinema history. Plus Peter Wiggins from is one of the first people in the world to use the new Mac Pro and he tells us all about it.
Gravity is going to be re-released to theaters on Jan 17.

JVC announces some rugged Action Cameras | Videomaker
If you've ever put a camera in freezing water (nods knowingly), you know you're testing a camera's limits, and these two from the Everio line give you some room to breath easy with usability down to 14 F and 10 C.

ARRI Cine baseplates for the Sony PMW-F5/F55 | YouTube
The different concepts behind the bridge plate compatible cine base plate and the quick-release broadcast plate for the Sony F5 and F55.

Five Lessons from the other side of the Freelance Fence | The Black And Blue
Good advice about working with friends (my advice, don't)
For filmmakers, I urge you to be selective with the friends you call on for help, especially with mission critical aspects of your project. The last thing you want is a phone call from your pal the day of the shoot saying they can’t make it while they expect you to be cool with it since you’re friends.

Is Sony's new Action Camera a 4K camera? - No
There seems to be a little confusion over whether Sony's new Action Camera, the HDR-AS1000V is a 4K camera - it's NOT. Or at least, it doesn't appear to if you read the specs. The confusion could be because it does record using the XAVC S format at 50 Mbps, but it's only recording in HD 1080p. It's interesting that Sony added a new format to the camera (previously supporting AVCHD.) Though I think AVCHD defines an upper limit for the data rate, so they had to go to another format if they wanted to use a higher data rate.

Finally, the Kessler Crane Cat Adapter:

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

CES Week

It's CES week, and while there aren't any real pro-camera announcements so far (or really expected), there are still some interesting bits of new gear, as well as some other bits of news.

The regular News

Gizmodo reviewed the Blackmagic Pocket Camera and they give it an unequivocal 'maybe': "I have no hesitation in saying that for certain applications, it's still worth buying."

Over at CanonRumors, Sigma announced a 50 f/1.4 Art lens, as well as 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM Contemporary. Not sure what the price is. While you're there, check out this interesting article about plastic vs. metal in lens mounts. "Are Metal Mounts Better Than Plastic?"

There's an interesting graphic on different codecs and when to use them.

Adobe has announced support for new GPU's in Premiere Pro CC 7.2, including the ones in the Mac Pro.

Philip Bloom has been working on his review of the Sony A7, A7r and RX10, and he posted the video last night. Not perfect cameras, but they are quite likable.

Finally, I really like the Canon C100, and it recently dropped in price, but that doesn't mean it's not without it's problem, as this fairly detailed post from Matt Davis explains C100 Chroma Subsampling – the fix. He provides an interesting alternative to using an external recorder with the C100.


There's new consumer cameras from Canon at VideoMaker, and also in this piece at B & H Photo. No 4K announcement, but they did talk about an app-controlled "Pan Table" that costs $100 and "can move the platform 200 degrees to the left and right as you shoot video. It can also tilt up and down by 20 degrees." Teasingly, there's no picture of the device yet.

There are lots of 4K TV announcements, but Stu Maschwitz explains why you don't need one - yet.

Everyone is pretty sure that 3D is dead, as Vizio has dropped it. I'm sure it will come back in another ten years or so...

Here's some more on Netflix's support for 4K.

Drone maker DJI plans an Octocopter that will fly your Canon 5D. Yes, you've been able to buy things like this for some time, but DJI has put the mass into drone marketing.

Sony updated their Action Cams, and announced some new camcorders, but the really interesting thing is the FDR-AX100, which is the 4K camcorder for $1,999. Nino Lietner at Cinema 5D has some details:
The zoom range of the built-in lens equals 29-348mm in 35mm terms, which is very impressive. Of course this comes at a massive price: the camera loses a lot of light when zooming in, if I recall correctly the prototype goes down all the way to f/6.7 at the far end of the lens (while starting at a very fast f-stop which I can’t recall exactly – and the PR info seems to be lacking about the speed of the lens). 
One other interesting thing is that Sony actually announced two camcorders that share similar (identical?) sensors (resolution and size) and hardware: but the HDR-CX900 records to HD and costs $1,499, while the FDR-AX100 records to 4K and costs $1,999. The latter records in XAVC S (to SD cards) and it will be interesting to see how this compressor compares to their AVCHD compressor. I haven't seen data rate specs.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Sony announces a $2K, 4K camcorder

It's CES week, and Sony has gone and done it; they announced a 4K camcorder for $2,000. Wow.

It's almost like I predicted it...wait a minute, I sort of did back in September (When cometh the $1,000 4K video camera?)

Am I unusually prescient? Unfortunately, no. But if past isn't prologue, then this is one of the worst cases of déjà vu, because Sony did a very similar thing when they starting releasing HD camcorders. First there was the HDR-FX1. Six months later, Sony announced the HDR-HC1, with an MSRP of $1,999.

This is the HDR-HC1:

And here's the FDR-AX100 camcorder they just announced:

And you can pre-order it for $1,999.

Now as a 4K camera for doing a 4K production, I'm not that interested in this camera as I doubt I'll be giving anyone footage in 4K for at least a year...but I wonder what the 4K footage scaled down to HD will look like, and whether being able to crop the 4K picture when converting to HD will make this a useful tool.

The News

This week I enlisted the help of Wushu expert Alex Leng to test the performance of the new Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q when recording 2K RAW at 240fps from the Sony FS700.
[...] be warned 2K RAW at 240fps eats up a lot of storage space in a real hurry. . There was only 10 minutes of record time available using two raided 256GB Convergent Design drives (they need to be RAIDed to do this).

Amazon Studios to Shoot in 4K | Red Shark
"As a premium original content creator, we’re excited about 4K and the future of Ultra HD technology, particularly as we move into drama series next year,” said Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios. “All of the pilots and series we produce next year will be shot in 4K.

YouTube: 2014 is the year of the high-def stream | C|Net
VP9 is a big deal for the Internet, and YouTube's support of it is both an in-house quid pro quo and beneficial for the Internet at large. Matt Frost, a senior business product manager for Google Chrome's Web Media team, said at Google I/O 2013 that the royalty-free VP9 will save organizations such as schools, startups, and programmers who want to create video projects millions of dollars.

Google to push royalty-free VP9 4K video codec as H.265 alternative for YouTube | AppleInsider
While VP8, Google's initial attempt at a royalty-free video codec, failed to gain much traction, the search giant is now focusing its efforts on ultra-high-resolution 4K video with its new VP9 codec, with a large-scale unveiling with YouTube multiple hardware partners set to take place next week, according to a new report.

Copy grades from Resolve to SpeedGrade | iLoveHue
As I was changing software so often, I needed to find a way to move grades, tools and looks across platforms and I found out I’m not the only one doing this. This is why I’m writing these articles on looks exchange between apps. The first one is about building a grade in Resolve and moving it to SpeedGrade to use it in another project.

Watch: 1-Hour Roundtable With Spike Jonze, Steve McQueen, Paul Greengrass, Nicole Holofcener & More | IndieWire
There's some pretty interesting tidbits too, including Jonze elaborating on a project he tried to make prior to "Being John Malkovich." "The worst failures are when you fail yourself, you fail your [original] intention," he said. "I've come to realize success to me is, 'How close did I get to that original feeling that I started with?' The initial feeling that set me in motion that makes you have to do something."

Billboard: Digital music sales decrease for the first time ever, vinyl continues to grow | Engadget
It was inevitable: After years of highs and then a plateau, digital music sales saw their first decrease in 2013. Last year, digital song purchases dropped almost six percent according to a Billboard report, while digital album sales dropped 0.1 percent.

Exacerbating the strain is a contract system that rewards low fixed-price bids. That can force effects houses to absorb the cost of last-minute change requests and push workers hard. 

Why TV, film production is running away from Hollywood | Press Telegram
Primarily due to production tax incentives offered in 41 other states and numerous foreign territories, fewer and fewer shows are being shot in Southern California.

Sony's beyond definition online expo
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
10:00AM - 6:00 PM ET
Hear presentations by Sony and industry experts: DP/cameraman Doug Jensen, sound engineer Rick Camp, Sony's CTO Hugo Gaggioni, Sony's Training Manager Andy Munitz, and more. They'll be online to answer your questions and share additional insights.

Title: Sony HXR-NX3 Live Webchat | FaceBook
Date: Thursday January 16, 2014
Time: 13:00 GMT
Our brand new HXR-NX3 professional camcorder is ideal for the professional videographer and we're hosting a live webinar this month where you’ll be able to ask your questions directly to Sony experts, as well as those who have used the camera.