Friday, January 24, 2014

Happy Birthday, Macintosh

The News

Inspiration vs. Plagiarism | Casey Neistat | Tumblr
A frenchman named Maxime Barbier copied one of my movies, the concept, the idea, nearly scene for scene, and in places line for line.  Then he sold that movie to Coca Cola.  Then he thanked me on Facebook for the ‘inspiration’.

Stephen Murphy [...] created a series of “personal study documents” – PDF files that compile quotes from a particular cinematographer placed next to stills from their cinematic efforts. Now we’re able to look at the frames of a cinematographer’s film while pairing it with their opinions on how they did it, why they did it, and what it means.

6 Lies of Film Distribution | Writers Store
Truth #2: All major distributors track the movies that have been listed in the trades under their production columns. If you were in those columns, you’re going to be phoned. Do not send them a rough cut. Do not send them a final cut. Do not send them the movie. If you do, you will not get a theatrical distribution deal, if this is what you are aiming for.

James Chressanthis and Canon EOS C300 Cameras Make History | Planet 5D
“The Canon EOS C300 camera is a lightweight camera that’s very agile and easy to hold steady because it has just enough weight and bulk to it,” Chressanthis said, noting that he worked with two full crews and two camera operators. Five different portions of the movie relied on the Canon EOS C300 Digital Cinema camera’s compact size, high mobility, and other advantages.

The Video Ballhead Model #7100 is fluid-dampened and offers both pan and tilt movements. Acratech claim the ball of the head has fully adjustable tension control, but it is unclear how this affects the video movements.

The Blackmagic Production Camera 4K Guide (Part Four): Tripods, Rigs, Accessories and Data Management | Wolfcrow
As we saw in Part Three, you might be inclined to mount a few devices on the camera body itself, for which it has three 1/4″-UNC threads. What could go wrong? Three things:

DP Andrew Shulkind on Demoing Kubrick’s f/0.7 Lens Kit | StudioDaily
Here's the backstory: Stanley Kubrick used Zeiss f/0.7 lenses with a modified Mitchell BNC camera to shoot candlelit scenes in his period film Barry Lyndon. He didn't want to use artificial fill, only natural candelight, and those superfast lenses — originally developed for a NASA project involving the dark side of the moon — made that possible.

Interview with Laggies 1st AD Lynn Wegenka | Filmmaker Magazine
Wegenka: I started working as an AD after college.  As a filmmaker I love production, the process of making films.  As an AD I’m right in the thick of it,  helping to create the director’s vision.

Sidekick Pro | Jag35
Jag35 has developed a new, geared follow-focus. They are offering a special pre-order price of $299.99 (unknown time limit.) Here's a short video about it's development:

BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera — Super Review - DigiDIREC | YouTube
"The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera from is a compact Super 16 format camera designed for digital film production offering a Super 16 sized sensor which has an effective resolution of 1920 x 1080 and is capable of capturing 13 stops of dynamic range."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Preliminary Late 2013 Mac Pro 8 core/dual 700 feedback

Reader Paul Antico of Anticipate Media passed along his initial thoughts on the new Mac Pro:

So.... my very preliminary testing with our new Mac Pro using the plugin I use most (filmconvert -FC), shows that Premiere CC needs more optimization for the dual GPUs. In fact, I'd say the CPU utilization is not up to snuff either.

I know FC only uses one GPU presently from the developer. That will change. In the meantime, using a couple of typical projects with that plugin as an example, I'm only seeing 25-45% speed up in exports over our maxed out late 2012 27" iMac exporting the same project. That's significant of course but not the 100%+ one would think we would be seeing at the least given the MacPro config of 8 cores and dual D700s. Premiere Pro CC seems in fact to never maximize CPU (never mind GPUs). I have yet, in my very limited testing, see it "pin the meters" like I did on the iMac.

Of course that's just testing now two short (under 5 min) projects, and it depends on what one is doing. Some stuff is much, much faster like Red Giant's Denoiser II or Warp Stabilizer VFX. The improvement there can be 3-4x faster anecdotally. I used to avoid them for speed reasons unless absolutely needed a lot of the time but now they are fast enough to rely on quickly. Other stuff unrelated top PPro CC like DxO PRIME noise removal on RAW stills is much faster too, as is Photoshop CC. Some effects like blur, sharpening, resize there are nearly instant now even on giga pixel files in Photoshop CC.

And of course FCPX is much faster on it but I hate the whole editing paradigm. The timeline is just horrid on it; simple things like replacing a word in someone's dialogue is a multi click, multistep process that is nearly instant in Premiere and most every other NLE. Just to try to see your whole timeline is a chore, to see what your edits and sound are in detail are problematic, trying to keep things in sync is a chore, and you can't even zoom your timeline window to full screen! It's just not for me until the fundamentals of the program change. The amount of time gained by using it for exports would be lost in counteracting some of Apple's "magnetic" timeline issues.

I'm sure Adobe will improve over time. They have to to stay competitive. In the meantime I'll take the 45%... but I wish I saw much more improvement given the cost and hardware differential.

Unfortunately, for now, the mainstream reviews I have seen regarding PPro performance on this machine were right. More to come as I continue to test.

New Gadgets

B& H sent me a list of new devices they have arriving soon or that are just in stock. These are the ones I found interesting (though not sure I'd actually buy any of them!):

Sony PCM-D100 High Resolution Portable Stereo Recorder | $799
This looks like a nice recorder, I'm sure it is. But for that price, I think I'd want XLR inputs!
The PCM-D100 High Resolution Portable Stereo Recorder from Sony is capable of recording audio from its built-in stereo mics in up to 192 kHz/24-bit PCM, 2.8224 MHz DSD, or 320 kbps MP3 files. It has 32 GB of internal memory and supports external memory via its SD-XC card slot. The PCM-D100's stereo mics can be arranged in 90° XY or 120° wide stereo positions, depending on the subject being recorded. 

Moog Theremini | $299
I suspect this would be little more than a toy for me...but I always liked the sic--fi noise they make:
To assist in learning to play the instrument, the Theremin features a built-in tuner that allows you to see what note you are playing and whether the note is sharp, flat, or in tune. A 0 to 100% assistive pitch correction knob allows you to adjust the playing difficulty level of the device by automatically keeping the sound in pitch to a user-defined scale or root note.

Zoom TAC-2 Thunderbolt Audio Interface | $399.99
Thunderbolt interfaces and devices are arriving in greater number. Only two inputs though...
The Zoom TAC-2 is a compact 2-in, 2-out bus-powered Thunderbolt audio interface that allows for ultra-low latency and supports audio up to 24-bit/192kHz. It features two balanced XLR/TRS inputs with 48V phantom power, a Hi-Z input jack for electric guitars and basses and two balanced TRS outputs for connecting an amplifier or powered speakers. 

Zoom Q4 Handy Video Recorder | $299.99
This is actually available now:
The Zoom Q4 Handy Video Recorder combines Full HD 1080p video with Zoom's high-quality audio capture technology. Designed with musicians in mind, the Q4 features a pop-up 120° X/Y condenser microphone that lets you capture live studio performances, concerts, or videos of yourself playing with studio-quality sound.
This camera looks, odd, and interesting, but then you see how small it is!:

Quick Links

Drowned Drones: When a Multicopter Hits the Water | MAKE
Even if you manage to retrieve your aircraft, you will likely lose all of your electronics, your camera, and your gimbal. Getting footage back is about all you can hope for, and even that isn’t a given. A fully-loaded DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter with gimbal, GoPro and first-person view transmitter (FPV) is currently worth about $1,400. Losing a rig like that is very painful, but losing a larger multicopter with a gimbal-mounted SLR can cost upwards of $10,000.

Netflix ends 2013 with 44 million subscribers, will keep experimenting with pricing | Engadget
Netflix had a big year in 2013 with award-winning original content, new features and millions of new customers. Now, the company's fourth quarter report reveals it wrapped up last year with over 44 million customers worldwide. Interestingly, an entire section of the letter to investors is related to the recent appeals court ruling that struck down key parts of net neutrality.

Awards Season, Through the Eyes of Bruno Delbonnel | ASC
The ASC will be well represented at the Oscars this year, with four of the five nominees in the cinematography category sporting the hallowed initials — Bruno Delbonnel, ASC, AFC; Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC; Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC and Phedon Papamichael, ASC. (The fifth nominee is Philippe Le Sourd.)

The End of 35mm film distribution. Cinema will never be the same: It will actually be better. | Red Shark News
The downside here has really already occurred: film labs always survived not on the relatively small volumes of material created by shooting films, but on the much larger volumes of print distribution. In the US, at least, this business has been in terminal decline for some time, and while there's no comfort in the further whittling away of that revenue stream, the lion's share of the damage to the availability of photochemical services is already done.

Tangent Element Control Surface: Getting Started | Mixing Light
The Tangent Element is one of the newest and most versatile control surfaces on the market today. It’s a modular set of four panels that can be bought individually, allowing you to add to the set as your budget and needs dictate. The full set currently costs about $3500US.

WGA West Going After Deadbeat Producers For Scribes’ Pay | Deadline
Today the guild started a new initiative “to address the chronic problem of late payment to screenwriters.” In an email from WGAW President Chris Keyser and Executive Director David Young sent out to members today and posted online, the guild says its “goal is to change the culture of late pay that persists in Hollywood.”

Using a Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 EF Mount lens I shot everything wide open at ASA1600 (film mode Prores), and then graded the footage inside of FilmConvert 2.0 and added some Denoising to compensate for some of the noise in the blacks.
I'm still relatively new to the whole ProRes workflow, and I'm definitely new to using FilmConvert & Denoiser so this may not be the best BMPCC video you have seen online, but as far as a quick walk shooting some run 'n' gun footage at 0*c it'll do fine in my opinion.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The News

Evolution of the Dolly Zoom | VashiVisuals
Nice compilation of clips from movies from Vertigo to Jaws:
The Dolly Zoom is a camera shot made famous in Alfred Hitchcock’s VERTIGO (1958). It was invented by cameraman Irmin Roberts to visually convey the feeling and effects of acrophobia by zooming in with the lens while simultaneously dollying the camera backwards…or vice versa. Since 1958 it has been used hundreds of times in motion pictures…sadly most of the time only as a trick shot.

UK Colourists Want Their Say On New Cameras With Newly Formed DCA | Definition Magazine
 “The idea was basically with the advent of more digital cameras and the need for on-set monitoring or LUTs that we all try and get together to try and share some information and find some common ground. It is quite tricky as we’re all from different companies - no one wants to give away their trade secrets.

Mac Pro Shipping Times Slip To March; Is “Made In USA” To Blame? | Cult of Mac
A month later, and you’d think things would be getting wrong, but you’re wrong. On Apple’s online store, Mac Pro shipping times have slipped another month to March.

Free video editor | HitFilm 2 Express
They are offering this video editor for free up until February 4.

Going Big with the Canon C100 – By Stillmotion | Zacuto
Since we were confined to a single location and speed wasn’t a priority, we knew that outfitting the C100 with a Ninja and Canon cinema prime lenses would give us the best picture out of camera. This meant throwing on a baseplate, rails, follow focus, and Cinevate mount to accommodate the Ninja and lenses.

Choosing a Microphone | Wistia
Bad audio can ruin even the best video! Learn about a couple different kinds of external microphones and when to use them.

Reports conflict on impact of tax incentive for film industry | StarNewsOnline
On one hand, a recently released partial film study commissioned by the Wilmington Regional Film Commission and other state agencies showed that the industry is a big win for Wilmington and the state – with the economic impact as high as $10 million for the Cape Fear region.

Although Oscar nominations were announced yesterday, one winner has already been determined: the Oscar for Best Tax Break (not a real Academy Award). Among the nine films nominated for Best Picture, The Wolf of Wall Street received the largest state tax incentive, a 30 percent tax credit from New York State. In effect, New York State taxpayers paid for a third of its $100 million in production costs.

Students: Become an Adobe rep | Joh Nack
Back in college—in the daaark days for Apple (the lose-$700MM+-in-a-quarter days)—I was an Apple student rep, driving around a minivan full of swag & hipping people to the technologies I loved. It was a bumpy time, but the work experience complemented what I learned in school.
Students these days have a chance to learn while helping fellow students discover new creative power. Check this out:

Letus AnamorpX on mini HEX | Vimeo
Two video shot with the new Letus anamorphic lens for the GoPro Hero:

The guys at send me a prototype GoPro Anamorphic lens, incredible small lens. putting it on the Zenmuse next.
Check out 0:21, notice how the trees to the left are backlighted by the sun and the trees to the right is front lighted, there is no shadows to the right and deep shadows to the left. this thing is HUGELY wide.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Quick Links

Getting Started in Aerial Video | Make
The most popular quadcopter for aerial filming is the $679 DJI Phantom because it’s ready-to-fly (RTF) out of the box and was designed to hold a GoPro camera. (The new Phantom 2 Vision has a built-in camera instead, plus an FPV system — see tip 4 below.) The Phantom is the perfect platform, even for beginning hobbyists, because it’s easily hackable — there is a vibrant third-party accessories market, mostly consisting of enterprising individuals selling mods online.

Open Source Apertus Axiom 4K Camera Project Exploring Swappable Sensors, Lens Mounts, & Filters | No Film School
The Axiom Alpha prototype with the CMV12000 image sensor is just the beginning, we want to offer a wide range of different image sensor modules in the future. Whether it be a Super16, Four Thirds or Full Frame Sensor or a module that allows fine-tuning the sensor alignment shift for Stereo 3D, there are so many possibilities. 

Tutorial: Making an eye in 3D by Jorge Sanchez | Corematte
This is a different modelling tutorial than what you see on a regular basis, it is focused on my observations of the eye and in a topology that lets you make an eye that needs modest geometry yet still allows to be effectively rigged, giving you an eye to which you can give a lot of expression thus it can make your model less of a geometry construction and more art.

MPEG LA Announces License Terms for High Efficiency Video Coding HEVC/H.265 | Cinescopophilia
High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC, also known as H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2) is a standard designed to improve video coding efficiency for the benefit of Internet and mobile service providers and consumers with increased speed and capacity. HEVC is also expected to deliver next generation higher resolution HDTV video displays for 4K and 8K Ultra High Definition TV (“UHDTV”).

What Is YouTube's VP9 Ultra HD Streaming Technology? | Toms Guide
Google tries again to replace H.264 (and H.265) with VP9, having not really accomplished it with VP8:
VP9 is a new video codec that will compress video files to half the size that the current encoding technology, called MPEG-4 or H.264, can achieve. More important, it will be used to compress video files and streams at 4K resolution, which is four times higher than HDTV resolution.

Avoiding crashes and other problems with Red Giant software and After Effects | Adobe
A tip from Adobe:
The folks at Red Giant have recently been releasing updates that help with crashes and other problems.We strongly recommend that any users of Red Giant software go to this page and download and install the most recent versions of their software.

Interview with The Skeleton Twins and War Story D.P. Reed Morano, ASC | Filmmaker Magazine
I talked with both directors about each film for so long before it happened, that I had so much information to work with once we finally started shooting – it was embedded in me by that point. Aesthetically, I had the same taste as both directors about what we thought was best for each film. The director and the d.p. have to be on the same page or it doesn’t work.

Editing & Music: An Interview with Three Editors at the Sundance Film Festival | Filmmaker Magazine
Filmmaker interviewed the editors of just three of the many films premiering at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival that revolve around and focus on music. All three editors were separately given the same questions about working on a film heavily embedded in music and they answered independent from one another.

Interview with Love is Strange Screenwriter Mauricio Zacharias | Filmmaker Magazine
...once you start casting and bringing a crew of artists to work on the film, the script becomes alive. Details of an actual location can be added, maybe new ideas or even an actor’s trait can be incorporated. But, in working with Ira on both these films, the structure doesn’t change.

TV goes 4K as next generation of ultra-sharp home screens hits Consumer Electronics Show | 
Will 2014 be the year that 4K finally takes off? Walking around the showfloor at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, you could be forgiven for thinking that it already has. The new video display format was everywhere, from the curved TV screens shown off by Samsung, LG and others to camcorders, smartphones and projectors.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Quick Links

Joseph Oxford and Bradley Stonesifer Create a World in Cardboard for Me + Her | Filmmaker Magazine
Director Joseph Oxford and cinematographer Bradley Stonesifer created an imaginary world using cardboard boxes and rubber bands for their animated short film Me + Her. A labor of love that evolved over four years, their work was rewarded when the film was accepted into Sundance’s Short Film program.

Blackmagic Design Announces DaVinci Resolve 10.1 with FCP X 10.1 XML Import
Blackmagic Design today announced the release of DaVinci Resolve 10.1 software which adds new editing and 3D stereoscopic features as well as support for Final Cut Pro™ X 10.1. DaVinci Resolve 10.1 is available now for download free of charge for all existing DaVinci Resolve customers from the Blackmagic Design website.

Calibrate That Display! | Alexis Hurkman
One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve gotten over the years is “I’m planning on using a plasma display for color critical monitoring, but I’m not sure how to calibrate it.” I’ve been putting off answering this question for months, as the answer has, until recently, been a bit more complicated then I’ve wanted it to be. However, recent developments – specifically the release of DaVinci Resolve 10 – have dramatically simplified this process, making LUT calibration easier then it’s ever been for small shops.

FCP X 10.1: Collaboration | Larry Jordan
While Final Cut provides a variety of ways to reorganize media after you have it in the system, life is easiest when you plan to share files during import. When you import files, you have two key options for Media Storage that affect how easily you can share files.

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Review | PhotographyLife
With a focal range equivalent to 27mm-52.5mm in 35mm format, the lens provides a good range to work with for a variety of different needs and applications. And with its fast constant aperture of f/1.8, the Sigma 18-35mm opens up opportunities to shoot in low-light situations, something that was previously only possible with fast aperture prime lenses.

RED cameras absent from all Oscar cinematography and best picture nominees | EOSHD
SetLife Magazine (a recommended follow on Facebook) has compiled technical specification slates showing us who shot on what when it comes to the big 2014 Oscar nominees. Interestingly Arri cameras still sweep the board. There are also nods to the Cinema EOS cameras and even the GoPro, but the really surprising thing is not a single one of the films were shot on RED.

Why you shouldn't run on a film set, TV frame rates and Business Card titles | The Black and Blue
Just because you can’t run, however, doesn’t mean you can’t be quick. When you’re advised to walk, that doesn’t mean you should take a leisurely stroll to the truck as if walking on the beach. Instead you should walk quickly at a brisk pace. You know how fast you walk through the airport when you’re worried about making a connecting flight? That’s the pace you should be hoofing it.

Why Were There So Many Great Movies in 2013? An Economic Explanation | The Atlantic
In other words, the fact that (a) stars are willing to take less money before box office and (b) there is more outside support for prestigious films makes it cheaper—or, at least, less risky—for studios to produce these projects than in a time when stars demanded higher salaries to be paid from the studio's pockets.