Thursday, March 13, 2014

The News

A review of the Sony RX10 which mainly focuses on the still photo side of things:
Sony RX10 review: the everything camera | The Verge
Does the RX10 always take the best picture, in every situation, no matter what? No. But I never found myself wishing I had a different camera. Just the opposite, in fact: using the RX10 is like having a DSLR and a bag full of lenses with me at all times. And while I would have otherwise been changing lenses on my DSLR, I just zoomed in, got the shot, and moved on.
And here's a tear-down of the camera:

Nikon releases a new mirror-less still camera that does highish frame rates.
Nikon V3 features 120fps HD video | EOSHD
The Nikon V3 will be the first mirrorless camera to feature 120fps HD slow-mo at 1280 x 720 resolution. Also available are 400fps and 1200fps at lower resolutions. Nikon have added an electronic stabilisation mode (called EVR) and 1080/60p to round out the spec.

Now it appears that the train company didn't know about the film being shot on the train bridge:
‘Midnight Rider’ and the Fatal Flaws of Hollywood Safety | Variety
Mark August, VP of the Society of Camera Operators, agrees that many young crew members don’t feel they can question things. “They look to leadership for safety,” August says. “There is the assumption that your boss is taking every precaution, and that when you are employed, you are safe. The reality is, if it isn’t safe, (you have to feel free to) speak up.”

Sony Announces ProRes & DNxHD Recording for the F5 & F55 | AbelCine
Sony has just announced that they will be adding two new codecs to the F5 and F55 cameras: Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD. These two formats are the most desired in the industry due to their NLE compatibility and overall quality. Sony already includes some great codecs in the F5 and F55 cameras already, including XAVC, MPEG2, SR Codec, and Raw with the AXS-R5 recorder.

Blackmagic 4K camera crop tests | Philip Bloom | Vimeo
3 4K shots from the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K edited on a 1080p timeline and scaled to various sizes to see how well it can be re-sized. I have had great results from my 1DC especially and the F55.I have used filmconvert on all the shots as the grain on an adjustment layer evens out the noise a bit. I have also put the ungraded shots there to see.

What makes a ‘good’ lens? (part I) | Ming Thein
In order for a lens to deliver high performance in the corners and at fast apertures, it must be well corrected: this is to prevent different wavelengths of light focusing at different points – both laterally and longitudinally. If the focal plane for different wavelengths shifts laterally, then you’ll see spectral separation in the form of lateral chromatic aberration, or blue-red/ green-red fringing. 

Depth Perception – filming scenes for Under The Skin | MovieScope
The Underwater Studios in Essex has played host to numerous shoots for commercials, television and films. Tom Seymour was invited to watch the filming of scenes for Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, and discovered a whole new side to the British film industry…

The Indie Film World Needs 100 Amanda Palmers | Digital Dorr
This model uses Internet based tools and platforms. So you might crowd fund your movie on Kickstarter, sell your movie from your own web site with VHX, or organize a screening using tugg.

The News

“The Delivery” Short Film – A Product of a Blackmagic Production Camera 4K Test | Planet 5D
Adrian Tanner sent us this very nice Blackmagic Production Camera 4K ‘test’ he shot a couple of weeks ago. Pay attention to his description of shooting this as a one man band and shooting it without a ton of accessories.

4K video was a theme that was front and center at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. Retail electronics manufacturer's are starting to roll out the early stages of 4K video hardware. There are large screen TVs capable of displaying 4K resolution.

Focal Reducer comparison on the Pocket Cinema Camera | Ruben Kremer
Recently I took a gamble and bought a 0.72x focal reducer from an eBay store called Roxsen. It's the RJ Focal Reducer. Unlike the Mitakon Lens Turbo, this one fits without any trouble at all. Last weekend I got around to giving it a field-test whilst shooting a video for a client - an exclusive car rental agency here in the Netherlands. 

New and improved Canon 7D raw video with the Mosaic Engineering VAF-7D anti-aliasing filter | EOSHD
In my opinion the Canon 7D is currently the best budget solution for shooting raw video. There’s plenty of used bodies going for $750 on eBay here – and that is practically a steal for 14bit raw video from a Super 35mm sized sensor… Stills camera is a mere bonus!

Anatomy of the Filmmaker: Ondi Timoner | The Non-Fiction Cartel
Ondi devotes all she’s got to getting the story.  However long it takes, she’ll stick around to witness it unfold and then some. “I wanted to shoot life thoroughly as it was happening so I could recreate it for people,” said Ondi of her first big feature Dig! (2004), “I wanted to shoot a drama that unfolded.”

Red Giant’s New Effects Library and Community – Universe | Filmmaker Magazine
Visual effects software developer Red Giant today announced the public beta of Red Giant Universe, a new environment for building as well as distributing filter and transition effects. The effects and transitions are GPU-accelerated, work on both Mac and Windows, and support After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X and Motion.

Sign-up for a webinar...not clear when it is, or if you just get a replay of something that is canned:
Shooting documentaries in hostile environments | Sony Europe
Unpredictable situations like conflict zones present a big challenge to any programme maker. Here’s what you’ll learn in this FREE webinar:- Get the right shot under pressure when anything can happen- Explore Sony’s latest tools for field-based acquisition & workflow, from the latest PMW camcorders to the new wireless adapter CBK-WA100 & field gear PMW-50.

Zacuto Accessories for the Canon C300/500 | B & H PhotoVideo
Zacuto has recently announced a new Z-Finder and two different types of top handles—the Helmet ColdShoe Handle Kit and the Helmet Tapped Handle Kit—designed specifically for the Canon C300 and C500. These new products will join Zacuto’s existing line of C300/500 accessories, which already includes the Studio Baseplate, the Gorilla Baseplate, the Grip Relocator, the ENG Grip Relocator, and a variety of rig bundles. The new Z-Finder and handles are also accompanied by a new mounting system.

Think Crowdfunding Is Just About the Money? Now It Can Be Your Ticket to Distribution | No Film School
In 2014, a new, exciting can of worms is being opened as crowdfunding platforms gear up to help projects get distributed. In one corner, you have Vimeo who will work with Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Seed&Spark. In the other corner, you have VHX and Yekra who will be working exclusively with Indiegogo. Here’s a quick look on what both are offering.

tonebenders – episode eighteen – vanessa ament | Tonebenders
In this Episode, we welcome Vanessa Ament, author of ‘The Foley Grail’, the preeminent book on the art of foley. Vanessa dives deep – giving us a history of the craft, various differences in foley styles and techniques, as well as some stories from her own tremendous career.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The News

Assembling the Billing Block | New York Times
The blurb at the bottom of a movie poster is called the "billing block." And while it might look like a bar code of haphazardly packed type, it is in fact the product of detailed legal agreements and intense contract negotiation.

Shooting RAW with the Sony F55 and R5 recorder: Just how good is it asks Matt Allard? | News Shooter
Shooting RAW on the F55 really was a pleasure and I was blown away by the results.  The downsides are of course the ginormous file sizes and the extra work involved in post.  I can do basic grades myself, but dealing with RAW and DaVinci Resolve is something that definitely takes me out of my comfort zone. 

If you're interested in the PMW-F5 or PMW-F55, then Sony is offering a promotion where you get a free Sony Prime lens with your purchase...but you don't get to pick which one.
Many are speculating that this is a pre-NAB clearance thing. Offer expires March 31. NAB opens April 5th...
NEW Promotion for F55 and F5 | Sony Community

Color Correction: Make People Look Normal | Larry Jordan
See that line going up-left, about 10:30? That’s called the “skin-tone line.”  Skin is actually gray. (You, ah, know this by checking out your dead skin in the bathroom when no one is looking.) What gives skin its color is the red blood circulating underneath. Because all of us have the same color red blood, the skin tone line represents the color of red blood under skin.  The skin tone line is a very, very powerful color indicator, as you’ll see in a bit.

The best way to shoot better shots is to take greater control over the look of the things you are shooting. This means thinking less like a video camera operator and more like a Director of Photography. Think about it: a video camera operator stands behind the camera and shoots what he or she sees. But, a Director of Photography moves all over the set and takes control over everything in the frame.

STUBILIZER for GoPro’s | HD Warrior
Extreme Sports Fanatic Launches Kickstarter Campaign for World’s First Helmet-Mounted Video Stabilizer
RockSolid Technologies’ Stubilizer range has been created to put an end to shaky action sports videos, and put the creative control in the hands of the athlete. Whether they are paragliding, mountain biking, snowboarding or indulging in some other adrenaline-boosting activity, thrill-seekers can now record every second of their experience and replay it perfectly, with no shakes or wobbles, to recreate the adventure to a tee.

How Robert Rodriguez is Going to Revolutionize Television By Getting Rid of The Executives | IndieWire
Rodriguez earned himself a place in the indie film canon forever by funding his $7000 1992 debut "El Mariachi," which he wrote, directed, shot and edited, by participating in medical research studies. He's since gone on to make much bigger features, including "Spy Kids" and "Sin City," while maintaining the same run-and-gun approach, something he's also brought to El Rey, the cable network he founded in December.

Hollywood becoming ghost town as states offer tax incentives | Fox Business News
Visual effects artist Tom Capizzi, legal editor Dominic Patten and Manny Lopez of Michigan Capital Confidential on the film industry fleeing California for other states.

Louisiana film tax credit fraud concerns Legislature | NOLA/The Times-Picayune
Several members of the Louisiana Legislature said they were concerned about fraud taking place in Louisiana's film tax credit program. State Inspector General Steven Street told state House members Tuesday that his office has been dealing with film tax credit problems regularly over the past year.

Sam Mendes’s 25 Rules for Directors | Vanity Fair
1. Always choose good collaborators. It seems so obvious, but the best collaborators are the ones who disagree with you. It means they’re passionate, they have opinions, and they’ll only ever say yes if they mean it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The News

This article seems to celebrate the pricing of Panasonic's GH4 4K camera by bashing Canon. And they have a point; pretty much everyone agrees that Canon has been sitting on their hands when it comes to the video capabilities of their DSLRs. On the other hand, as expensive as the 5D Mark III is, it still has a very large sensor with excellent low-light remains unique, and even if the Panasonic GH4 is 4K, and even if it's low light capabilities are as good, the Canon 5D Mark III still has a much larger sensor.
So Canon can probably go on selling their camera for a year or more.

UPDATE: Canon HDSLRs vs. Micro 4/3 Panasonic GH4 | HD Cam Team
Sadly, Canon has been crippling the entire EOS DSLR line and selling them overpriced, taking advantage of their brand name and big line of lenses to sell. But when we look at the products themselves we found LOT OF THE SAME since many years ago, with some few exceptions of improvements in specific features.

Meanwhile, here's something interesting; a new "archival" optical system which seems ideal for backing up and archiving digital video. If only (it's not priced way too high) and we didn't have to wait until mid 2015...
“Archival Disc” standard formulated for professional-use next-generation optical discs | Sony
Sony Corporation (“Sony”) and Panasonic Corporation (“Panasonic”) today announced that they have formulated “Archival Disc”, a new standard for professional-use, next-generation optical discs, with the objective of expanding the market for long-term digital data storage*.
Both Sony and Panasonic aim to launch systems with a recording capacity of 300 GB per disc from summer 2015 onwards. In addition, both companies plan to leverage their respective technologies to further expand the recording capacity per disc to 500 GB and 1 TB.

Sony is also doing some pre-NAB hinting about new capabilities for their F55 & F5:
New capabilities...Limitless potential | Sony Community
It's the power to change, and the freedom to choose; to always push for more. It’s about the same cameras you know so well - the F5 and F55 - with more options, new capabilities and limitless potential.
We are transforming these cameras without compromising performance.
This is about more than just metal rods, plates and pads, it is about the best options for today......and tomorrow.
We have heard your feedback, and we will deliver.

DP Simon Duggan Explains How 3D Created Character Depth in Baz Luhrmann's 'The Great Gatsby' | No Film School
He very often mentions how he relates it to theatre; there’s a proscenium, there’s an upstage, downstage and that’s how he related it to shooting 3D and that’s how he looked at staging the actors and the performances, with different layers all through the foreground and through the background

It Came From Inside the House: Community, Criticism and The Act of Killing | Filmmaker Magazine
For much of the past decade, one constant gripe within the world of documentary has been a need for more writing and better criticism about the craft of the filmmaking (as opposed to summaries of the plot or lionizations of the subject). So why have two recent, very critical op-ed pieces about The Act of Killing drawn such heat? The answer lies in both the source of the criticism and the method.

Warner Bros. Is Buying a Stake in Struggling YouTube Net Machinima. Here’s Why | Variety
Still, Machinima isn’t financially healthy: Last week it axed 30% of its staff, essentially eliminating its ad-sales department, in its third round of cuts in 15 months. The company said it was shifting ad-sales strategy to rely on YouTube — another sign of distress, as MCNs typically make even less money on spots that YouTube sells than the 55-45 ad-revenue split the site grants partners.

Creating An Infinite Black Background

Sarah Jones | On Set Safety

Sarah Jones Hollywood memorial draws calls for safer film sets | LA Times
"We make movies and we entertain millions of people and no one should have to die for that," said Mike Miller, vice president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. "What happened on that train trestle in Georgia horrified us."

For Sarah: Sept. 22, 1986–Feb. 20, 2014 | ASC
There is a magic bubble of invulnerability that can seem to enclose a movie crew filming out on the streets, more so than on the artifice of a stage set. For just a few moments, as the cameras turn over, there exists a kind of parallel reality that lives inside that bubble. It burst on February 20 above a 100 year old, single-track railroad trestle over the Altamaha River near Doctortown, Georgia. The fallout injured half a dozen crew members of a feature film on its first day of shooting; it also killed the 27-year-old camera assistant, Sarah Jones.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The News

Last week the FAA's rule limiting commercial drone use was overturned, though as this piece points out you might want to be careful for the moment to see how it all shakes out:
Lawyers on commercial drone ruling: proceed cautiously | PBS
Adelman, chair of the Unmanned Systems Practice Group at the LeClairRyan law firm in Annapolis, said he would advise entrepreneurs to hold off on investing in production of more drones for at least a few more weeks.

Looks like the pricing for the Panasonic GH4 should be official today. The GH4 will be $1698 and the add-on box (the DMW-YAGH) will be $1998. The cost for the camera is impressive and you can save $399 by ordering the two together (though no that the camera on it's own is expected to be available prior to the bundle.)
Panasonic GH4 pricing official – $1698 body only, $1998 for the external 10bit / XLR box  | EOSHD
The bundle deal saves you around $400 and the GH4 body only is a full $300 less than I expected it to cost. Hope this translates well into British pounds and European euros when those prices are announced too.

Philip Bloom has reviewed the Digital Bolex D16, finding it an interesting camera, though he's not too sure who the target market is for the camera due to certain limitations.

The Digital Bolex D16 Review from Philip Bloom Reviews & Tutorials on Vimeo.

Digital Bolex offers their own perspective:
Philip Bloom Review’s the D16 | Digital Bolex
So that’s where we picture ourselves: part of a long history of cinema quality cameras, giving people an image worthy of projecting in a theater for the price of a DSLR, easier to use in real world situations than anything in it’s price class, the bare minimum you need to make a movie.

Canon Cinema EOS C100 Dual Pixel Upgrade Explained | CanonRumors
Dual Pixel CMOS AF is a sensor-based, phase-detection autofocus (AF) technology that’s designed to provide smooth, high-performance continuous focus in movies. It is a unique, Canon-developed technology, ideal for fast and accurate autofocus, helping filmmakers to create stunning footage which maximises the creative options offered by fast lenses and shallow depth-of-field.

So far I can say that I am really impressed at how well the system works. The accuracy seemed very good most of the time and the set we used gave it no real problems. The AF is quick – sometimes a little too quick for a natural feel, but for news and documentary shooting I don’t see it as being a problem.

Canon say: “We need to respond to calls for DSLR video quality increase” | EOSHD
“For a long time people having been talking about stills and movies coming together as a single, fused function and maybe in the 4K era we will see stills and movies integrated into one. This fusing might become the driving force for the next revolution.”

Info on getting started on the ARRI Alexa (not the upcoming Amira)
The Complete Guide to Getting Started with the ARRI ALEXA | No Film School
Obviously, ARRI has released several variations on the ALEXA in the past two years, including the ALEXA XT line, which utilizes the full area of the 4:3 s35 sensor (allowing for native use of anamorphic lenses), among a whole bunch of other fantastic features which I’ll get to later.