Friday, February 07, 2014

Panasonic GH4 Announced

There's been much excitement about the announcement of the Panasonic GH4. We know a lot about the specs, but we still don't know the price, though if the rumors floating around (about $2,000US) are correct, then this camera could have a big impact on the market.

Of course, the big news is that it supports 4K recording (and both QuadHD 3840x2160, as well as DCI 4K 4096x2160.) Just as importantly, while internal recording is limited to 4:2:0, you can output 4:2:2 in either 8-bit or 10-bit. You'll have to buy the base module (DMW-YAGH ~$1,000?) and a (currently) expensive third-party external recorder to do it, but you can do it.

Also interesting is that external box that Panasonic has produced for outputting 4K video, as well as adding XLR audio inputs. (it's the box at the bottom of the camera in the picture above.) It looks big; though remember that the camera itself isn't that big to begin with. This box really suggests that Panasonic sees this as a serious video camera.

Panasonic has done well with their GH3 cameras; a lot of people have praised their video capability and while it never got the buzz of the Canon 5D Mark III, I know a few documentary filmmakers who have used the GH3 for their projects. The GH4 could be the low-budget camera for independent filmmakers this year.

Andrew Reid offers a lot of information on the camera, including notes about the way the sensor is cropped. He thinks that's a bad thing, and if you're dealing with lenses, then yes it is, but if you're trying to avoid moire in your images, cropping is probably a better option than having the camera doing some fast resizing of the image:
Hands-on preview of the powerful 4K shooting Panasonic GH4! | EOSHD
When 10bit is selected the encoder is bypassed altogether and you can record extremely nice 1080p in ProRes 10bit 4:2:2 on your external recorder from an actual 10bit 4:2:2 source signal. The camera cannot record to the SD card whilst set to 10bit over HDMI

The 4K Panasonic GH4 is here. You can even get 4K SDI out of this thing! | Red Shark News
What does distinguish the release, though, is all these images of the videography base station (which the company calls DMW-YAGH), a plug-in, or possibly sit-on, module with proper connectors, XLRs and BNCs for sound and picture, and manual audio level and phantom power controls.

Specs and info:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only) | B & H Photovideo

Panasonic GH4 – shoots 4K, 10bit via XLR/SDI unit, mind: blown | Cinema 5D
Unfortunately, all the 4K varieties are 100MBps only (IPB frame order), while you can record up to 200MBps (ALL-Intra frames) in every 1080p Full HD variety. Full HD video can be recorded  in up to 96 fps (at 24p playback), which should be great for some amazing 4 x slow motion footage.

Lots of pictures of a prototype camera:
With 4K GH4, Panasonic Comes Out Swinging | Filmmaker Magazine
Per Panasonic, this working prototype is merely “70%” a finished product! I stress this point, because the audio controls on the DMW-YAGH Interface Unit are obviously not in finished form.

4K Panasonic GH4 Has Arrived: 4K Up to 24FPS, UHD Up to 30FPS, & 1080P Variable to 96FPS | No Film School
Pricing will be announced in March (but less than $2,000), and the 4K mode is a slight crop (from 2x to around 2.3x as compared to full-frame). The UHD crop is only slightly more.

This seems like quibbling to me:
Panasonic Brings 4K to Mirrorless Cameras | mashable
In its speed to get a 4K recorder out, Panasonic may have short-sheeted the 4K professional market for which the GH4 is intended. The GH4 will record full 4K — but "only" in 30p. Full 4K is actually 60p.The GH4 also lacks 60p 4K output-compatible HDMI 2.0 output and HEVC/H.265 encoding, which is about 40 percent more efficient than current AVC/H.264 compression.

Quick Links

How the ARRI ZLEXA plays with color saturation to pursue a film aesthetic | The Black and Blue
Adams cleverly points out through camera tests, experience, and research that Alexa, while operating in an additive color system, is mimicking properties of subtractive color mediums by separating color saturation and luminance after a certain level of exposure in order to adopt a closer film look

Traveling with gear
Flight…A Filmmaker’s Plight | Pro Video Coalition
Above all else, carry on your most sensitive and expensive equipment: camera bodies, lenses, recorded media and backups, and items forbidden as checked baggage -- i.e., loose lithium ion batteries. Some people will recommend that you carry these items in non-equipment bags, padded by clothing and such.

Are we making too many movies?
Abundance Does NOT Mean TOO Many | Truly Free Film
The entertainment economy is transitioning from a mass market enterprises to one of targeted niches. In the process we are expanding from an industry that relied on three platforms — theatrical, broadcast, physical — to one that embraces a fourth, albeit one that is fragmented in an vast number of ways.

Behind the scenes of Weta Digital’s Smaug | fxGuide
You can also find out more about the craftspeople behind the making of the film in this special eBook created by fxguide in conjunction with Warner Bros. The eBook breaks down even more of the VFX work, plus provides insights into directing, screenwriting, production design, costume, cinematography, editing, sound and the film’s score.

A 4K camera from Panasonic that might be announced today...
Panasonic to Announce GH4K Tomorrow | Doddle
When Panasonic showed off a mockup of the GH4K during CES, I was kinda disappointed because there was no big presentation, no specs, no announcement, or even working prototype. Just a camera on display. Then talk started a few days ago that an announcement is coming, and it’s coming TOMORROW.
Panasonic GH4K GH4 G4K Camera Announcement | CheesyCam
it will be highly based on the GH3 form factor. Most of the features are geared towards 4K Video, while photography features may only have slightly impressive specs over the existing GH3 (burst mode, megapixels, etc).

Good news for Sony
NBC Olympics Chooses Sony for HD Broadcast Equipment | TV Technology
NBC Olympics is using more than 70 Sony HD studio and portable field cameras – a combination of the XDCAM, HDC, HSC and HXC-100 models. For the Sochi Games, NBC will also use Sony’s F55 4K camera to capture footage at various event venues.

More good news for Sony...
Sony Cyber-shot RX10 review: impeccable performance and versatility make this cam an industry leader | Engadget
Review of the Sony RX10:
Exposures were spot-on across the board, and even video captured at high sensitivities (ISO 12,800) looked better than expected. We stuck to ISO 3200 for the sample reel, however, which you can see embedded above.

Bad news for Sony
Sony to exit PCs, spin off TV business, eliminate 5,000 positions | Los Angeles Times
Sony also announced that it would spin off its TV business, noting that it was struggling with reforming the division and that its target of returning the TV business to profitability would not be achieved by the end of the fiscal year ending March 31.

Two people in the last week were telling me how much they like Final Cut Pro X. Is this some kind of underground campaign that Apple is mounting?
A Second Chance For Final Cut Pro | Ryan E. Walters
I have to be honest- it took me some time to get up to speed with FCP X, as it is a big paradigm shift. But thanks to Larry Jordan's training, I was able to get up to speed in about 1 week. After adjusting my thinking, I am cutting content faster and easier than I was in Premiere. Things like the magnetic timeline, automated background rendering, keywords, and ratings have dramatically shortened the time it takes me to assemble a rough edit.

Go Creative Show latest episode: How to produce, distribute and Monitize Podcasts | News Shooter
The latest edition of the Go Creative Show has been posted and features podcaster and consultant Daniel J. Lewis who has made a career teaching people how to produce, distribute and monetize their own podcasts.

This may not be good news for The Monuments Men, which is opening this week:
Confirmed: February Movies Suck | Slate
Just how bad are these February movies? We’re too afraid to watch them ourselves, so we looked at the Rotten Tomatoes scores of every movie making more than $1 million in the domestic box office since 2000, grouped the movies by month of release, and averaged the scores. Here’s what we found... is this a budget brushless gimbal device (i.e. no motors and things) or is it...well what is it? I couldn't find a price listed...

Comodo Orbit Camera Rig Drops in Under 10 Dayscinescopophilia
Bowens, in just over 9 days will launch Comodo Orbit, their camera stabilisation device invented by Leonard Retel Helmrich and designed to provide photographers and cinematographers a radical new ‘single shot’ cinematic option.

Our Red Dragon came in Friday night, we quickly prepped the CineStar for the new camera and headed out for a first flight. The fact that you can have this kind of dynamic range and resolution flying on a 20lb multi-rotor is mind blowing!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Quick Links

Every now and again Alex Buono, cinematographer for the Saturday Night Live Film Unit does a lengthy write-up on one the sketches he's shot for SNL. Here he does just that for their 'Her' parody.
HOW WE DID IT: SNL – “ME” | Alex Buono
Young cinematographers take note: stop hogging the whole budget with your precious lights and camera gear!  Give the budget to the art department and I guarantee they will make your job much easier than all those fancy toys.  I was given a lot of very nice compliments about the look of our Wes Anderson spot but the truth is, the art direction was so perfect that all it took was a simple bounce light and we were lit.

Why Hollywood Will Never Look the Same Again on Film: LEDs Hit the Streets of LA & NY | No Film School
The LEDs should very well prove a benefit to existing-light photography — better for the environment, and in nearly every case, better for cinematography. Whether the new look is visually preferable is a subjective matter, but you probably won’t find as many proponents for the old one.

How To Capture Long Smooth Running-In-The-Meadow Scenes | DIY Photography
The rig is made from a trapezoid Aluminum with 2 grooved scooter wheels, and it smoothly slides across 100 meters of 3mm Dyneema rope. (The rope has to have some downwards angle to pull on the rig, so you better know your nuts - Matt used a Double Bowline Knot and an Alpine Butterfly knot).

Netflix to spend $3bn on TV and film content in 2014 | The Guardian
Its annual report, published this week, shows that at the end of 2013, Netflix had run up $7.3bn in "streaming content obligations", which are incurred when the company signs a licence agreement for programming, up 30% from the $5.6bn owed at the end of 2012.

What Can You Learn from 8 Sundance Films with Successful Crowdfunding Campaigns? | No Film School
Dear White People raised their funds primarily through inexpensive twitter shout-outs from a sizable audience of 1,318 funders, while A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night succeeded with a fraction of the supporters who donated for high value rewards like classy soirees and rare posters.

Sundance Cinematographers Tell Indiewire The Best and Worst Advice They Received | IndieWire
"A camera operator once told me that you're not hired because you know the gear or the technical process better than someone else, you're hired because you communicate with the actors and director better than someone else. I find this to be very true. Communication is probably 90% of what I do." -- Cinematographer James Laxton

Screen Replacement in After Effects | Pro Video Coalition
Applying a blur effect to the new screen to recreate the depth of field blur visible on the original screen in the shot; for bonus points, use a variable blur like Camera Lens Blur and drive this effect with a gradient to vary the amount of blur across the screen

Case Study: Engineering a Unique Live Broadcast Facility for Clear Channel at the iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles | AbelCine
AbelCine recommended 4K-capable Sony F55 cameras because they offered the precise combination of cinematic look and broadcast features that Clear Channel required.

WebM in Premiere and After Effects | Pro Video Coalition
Brendan Bolles of fnord software released beta versions of open source WebM and Theora plug-ins for Premiere that allow import and export of WebM movies through Adobe Media Encoder. And that common Mediacore plug-in bundle also lets you import WebM, with the new VP9 codec for Ultra HD, into After Effects and export through Adobe Media Encoder (AME).

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The News

Low light testing with the Digital Bolex D16 | Red Shark News
With tests like this, the question becomes more than one of pixels and stops. The question is ultimately, am I pleased with the way this camera is handling the light / image I put in front of it? In this situation, I'm going to say yes. I was particularly impressed with the ability, at 200 ISO, to pull an image out of the 5-7 foot-candle region (if you squint you can actually recognize a couple of the albums in the corner!)

Andrew Reid over at EOSHD often has an interesting perspective on things. And sometimes he's just confusing: obsessing over some details, and ignoring others completely. In other words, he's just like everyone else; he's just a little more vocal about it.
Anyway, he sort of likes the Olympus OM-D E-M1.
Why the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is better than expected for video (Review) | EOSHD
The E-M1 only shoots at 30p. Hey you, come back! It’s not all bad! Yes 24p is the fabled film frame rate which apparently is good enough for Hollywood but not good enough for consumer’s holiday videos. Makes sense to me!? So the engineers have chosen to serve us a frame rate which isn’t as useful as 60p for slow-motion and not as good looking as 24p and not even a video standard in half the world due to PAL regions but actually maybe Olympus are not so stupid after all?

Making you lav mic invisible | Cinema 5D
Bad audio can ruin your production. Audio is 50% of the end product, it’s therefore critical to capture good audio. The key to good audio? Mic selection, placement and segregation from you source and it’s surroundings.

Want some 4K sequences to play with? Elemental offers some in different formats here:
4K Test Sequences | Elemental
Ultra-high resolution 4K video, generally 3840 x 2160, is on the immediate horizon and poised to enter the mainstream. However, bringing 4K to the masses faces an obstacle: a dearth of quality test content. Elemental decided to address this problem with recreations of classic test clips using a RED® Epic 4K camera. These clips are available for download, in ProRes and compressed MP4 formats, compliments of Elemental. Enjoy!

DaVinci Resolve 10.1 was recently announced with a flood of new editing and workflow enhancements.  Resolve 10.1 adds support for Final Cut Pro 10.1; the ability to assign and preview multiple camera takes while editing;  3D steroscopic workflow; better handling of PSD files; new organizational features; new Color Page enhancements; more accurate XML translation and much more.  The movies on this page will walk you through all the new features of Resolve 10.1 and what they mean to your workflow.  For our full DaVinci Resolve tutorial click here.

Interesting story about the closing of a VFX house in India. But I'm not sure that we should draw too much from one example (just read the next item; sometimes a business is simply run badly.)
Imageworks India Goes Down | VFX Soldier
In fact when I started this blog, I was the only one in the VFX world that made the bold prediction over 3 years ago that VFX in India wouldn’t succeed. I fought like hell against people who said I was wrong and at times I wondered when I could officially say I was correct.

Maybe Blockbuster was badly run...though I think it would still have gone out of business due to the digital world. Also, the chart doesn't track iTunes and illegal movie downloading.
Did Netflix Really Put Blockbuster Out of Business? This Infographic Tells the Story | IndieWire
So while it's easy for Blockbuster to blame Netflix for its demise, the truth is much more complicated. As the infographic's authors put it, "it looks better to lose a war than to lose from sheer incompetence." We've got to agree with them there.

DIV III Project sows seeds for DIY Film Community | Hampshire College
The film, focused on “the dangers of youthful ignorance,” has involved more than 50 students, faculty, and others in the Five College community since production began last fall. Conversations between Charalampidis and Shirish Bahattarai 11F, co-producer of The Games We Play, sparked the idea of building a long-term collaborative plan based on developing a film studio-like group on campus.

Editors on Editing featuring: Brent White | YouTube
Brent White, A.C.E. editor, discusses his approach to editing comedy over the years.

David Carr offers a different take on Philip Seymour Hoffman's passing
The Wrestler | Remembering the fights that Philip Seymour Hoffman won | David Carr | Medium
Now that he is gone, much has been said about his failure, about his fall. I don’t really see it that way. He got in the ring with his addiction and battled it for two decades successfully, doing amazing film work for years and doing the hard stuff to keep ambitious theater alive in in New York.

A look at Sony's XAVC format:

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Quick Links

E-mount, A-mount, FE oh my! An in-depth guide to Sony lens mounts | Imaging Resources
Sony's decision to drop the "NEX" moniker from its associated line within the Alpha scheme created a sea of confusion for many an NEX shooter, and for potential NEX buyers as well.

Sony A7R review – does it replace a DSLR or Micro Four Thirds camera? | EOSHD
The first big flaw is unfortunately video related. The image is just not good enough. The A7R has very similar video quality to the Nikon D800 as it shares such a similar sensor. What have Sony done with the A7R to improve video? Very little!

Tutorial: How to Make Fake Guns Look Realistic for Less Than $10 | No Film School
One of the biggest differences between a real gun and a fake gun, other than the fact that one could critically injure you (or kill you), is the materials used in fashioning them.

Where's the best place for camera operators to make money and find jobs? | The Black and Blue
The mean annual wage for camera operators in 2012, according to the BLS, was $49,260.
But let’s take that with a grain of salt. Why? Because that number gets inflated by the people at the high end of the spectrum; meaning if Roger Deakins gets included in the pool, he single-handedly inflates the mean annual wage which is calculated by averaging all wages together.

Why Editing Nominations Predict the Best Picture Oscar | Variety
That’s an important tipoff to the Acad’s thinking. There can be as many as 10 best picture nominees, but there are still only five nominees for editing. A best picture nominee without an editing nomination is very unlikely to win.

You Only Have One Life. How Will You Spend It? | Dare Dreamer
But don’t be paralyzed by perfection. Don’t get overwhelmed with options. Start with just one area in your life and work from there. Consider finding one word that will define what your year will look like.

Apple put together a nice little ad, all shot on the iPhone 5s, and they have this site that explains how it works (click the 'X' to view). As a friend said "It really is proof that it's the movement of the camera and the subject matter and the light that counts the most."
Apple - Thirty Years of Mac - "1.24.13" Film | Apple
From sunrise in Melbourne to nightfall in Los Angeles, they documented people doing amazing things with Apple products. They shot over 70 hours of footage — all with the iPhone 5s. Then it was edited and scored with an original soundtrack. Thanks to the power of the Mac and the innovations it has inspired, an effort that normally takes months was accomplished in a matter of days.

Cinevate Duzi Slider – Video Review | Cinema5D
Cinevate sent over their brand new Duzi slider for me to try out. The Duzi is an interesting one, it opens up a new line for Cinevate as their entry-level slider, however carries many traits that better its next in the line – The Cinevate Atlas FLT.

JVC Introduces New Shoulder-Mount Camcorders With Built-In Streaming | Creative Planet
“We believe the future is with the live video streaming and FTP service fully integrated into the camera, as demonstrated with the new GY-HM890 and GY-HM850,” said Edgar Shane, 

Sony PMW-F55 - 2K Center Scan Mode
The Center Scan mode offers two major advantages: First, it allows the use of Super 16mm lenses and B4 2/3” lenses on the F5/F55 camera whenever you’re shooting with an HD or 2K video format. The second advantage is that it gives you the equivalent of a 2x optical extender with no loss of light, no loss of sharpness, and best of all – it’s FREE!

This is an amazing short piece in one take.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Quick Links

A look at different ways to put together your video kit. Note that this is oriented towards news and documentary, rather than narrative filmmaking:

The $5000 question: What kit made our essential gear guide? | News Shooter
For the camera, Matt went for the Sony RX10 with integrated zoom lens, while Dan opted for the versatile Panasonic Lumix GH3 with a variety of Nikon interchangeable lenses. Commenter Peter Roise also chose the GH3 but preferred to use native Lumix lenses as the main optics, while another user called Heri suggested the Olympus EM-1

Here's what the Blackmagic Cinema Camera was made for | Red Shark News
I know it sounds obvious, but the Blackmagic Cinema Camera was designed for making films. The only reason we make such a self-evident point is that we've seen so many tests, that you could be forgiven for thinking that this camera was used solely for demonstrating itself!

SONY 4K, HD Cameras Cover Every Angle For the Super Bowl | Sports Video
FOX Sports will use six Sony 4K cameras (five F55s and one F65) to capture ultra-high resolution images for its “Super Zoom” technology, giving television viewers a crisp, clear look at close plays.
How Fox Is Using 4K at the Super Bowl | Mashable
"It allows us to do an electronic zoom and maintain resolution," Jerry Steinberg, Fox's senior vice president of operations, told Mashable. "We have five Sony F55s and one Sony F65, all connected to the Super Zoom workflow."

Instant Replay, Instant Bias | Slate
Indeed, another of Burns’ experiments, using footage of a man on a bicycle who hits a target with a foam sword, found that when we watch something in slow motion, we perceive an increase in the amount of time the person—whether a football player or a cyclist with a sword—had to prepare for the act.

Personally I don't like high-frame rate stuff. There, I've said it...
Re-framing the question: HFR is OK…Now can we finally do 30 fps? | FilmJournal
The rate of 24 frames per second is insufficient for a high-quality motion imaging system. Period. There, I said it. I may as well start with my cards on the table. It's a painfully clear fact that 24 fps is inadequate for representing the motion of any faster movement than two people sitting and talking to each other.

Aesthetically I like 2001, even if the movie itself leaves me cold. But this article is great; a breakdown of the typography in the movie, including the observation that the '0' or 2001 is made with the letter 'O' rather than the number '0' in the typeface:

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | TypeSetInTheFuture
Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi masterpiece – seems an appropriate place to start a blog about typography in sci-fi. Amongst other delights, it offers a zero-gravity toilet, emergency resuscitations, exploding bolts, and product placement aplenty. It’s also the Ur Example of Eurostile Bold Extended’s regular appearance in spacecraft user interfaces.

TCM Bringing 'Casablanca' to 20 Cities for Free Screenings in March | IndieWire
Ten of the cities have already been selected: Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, Seattle, Miami, Denver and Washington, D.C.
In selecting the other 10 cities, TCM wants fans to cast their votes for where they'd like to see the movie screened.

Anatomy of a Scene: Video of ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ | New York Times
In this video, the director Jean-Marc Vallée narrates a scene from his period film about Ron Woodroof, a Texas rodeo rider who is diagnosed with H.I.V.

Is Television Still the End Goal? | The Video Link
The answer is no for Believe Entertainment Group co-founder Dan Goodman, who is happy working in the digital space, producing series like “The LeBrons” and “In the Booth” (featuring DJ Tiesto). “Trying to be flexible and minimal is the spirit of what we think digital business is all about,” he said via phone.

Looks like you should buy Hitachi drives...
Backblaze stats on 27,000 hard drives show which ones keep on ticking | TUAW
Best of the BB batch? Hitachi/HGST's Deskstar 2 TB, 3 TB and 4 TB models. Beach says, "If the price were right, we would be buying nothing but Hitachi drives. They have been rock solid, and have had a remarkably low failure rate."