Saturday, October 03, 2009

Final Cut Pro resources

If you’re a Final Cut Pro user, there’s a lot of online tutorials, as well as forums that act as great resources.

One source I had missed for information: Apple. They have some interesting stuff on their Final Cut Studio Resource page.

If nothing else, it’s worth going to get the Alpha Transitions, Color Looks and Compressor Droplets that are available for free.

The Alpha Transitions are very cool. After downloading them, they have to be "installed" and used in a particular way; this tutorial explains how to install and use an alpha transition: Using the New Alpha Transitions in Final Cut Pro 7.

Even if you don't like the examples Apple has provided, they show you how to use Alpha Transitions, and might get you wanting to create your own using Motion.

Friday, October 02, 2009

VholdR ContourHD1080p available for preorder

Amazon now has the VholdR ContourHD1080p available for pre-order. Expected delivery is November 16th, and they are quoting $329.99

Links Capture extreme HD footage with the VholdR ContourHD Helmet Cam (includes press release)
Helmetcameracentral: VholdR ContourHD 1080p Review: Delicious Full 1080p Wearable Video (includes more details specs)

One interesting thing:
ContourHD1080p has five video resolutions, the two highest are:

Full HD - 1080p (1920x1280)
Tall HD - 960p (1280x960)

But 1080 is 1920 x 1080. Clearly the Full HD could be cropped down, but 1280 x 960 is closer to 720p, which is 1280 x 720.

Canon 7D update

It’s the end of the week, and with no Canon 7D in site, I thought I’d put together a little summary of interesting bits and pieces (about the 7D.)

Dan Chung has a blog DSLR News Shooter that’s worth following and has some nice video examples: "Another Night in Beijing" is all evening shots, and includes information about how it was shoot too.
His latest post is about Shooting China’s 60th anniversary parade with the 7D and 5DmkII and some other camera. Note that he reported some problems with overheating, but he was shooting in 720p. The video includes some interesting use of tilt/shift lens, slow motion, and time lapse.

Another Dan is blogging about his experiences shooting an independent feature with two 7D’s at

You can see photos someone took disassembling a 7D (Why???!) at a Japanese site. Can't read the descriptions unfortunately!.

And also a video of the carnage.

Video out
If you want to connect the camera to your television, you’ll need a Mini HDMI to regular HDMI cable (not included) for best performance.

If you’re using NeoScene to import 7D video; watch out! The current version converts everything to 29.97fps, blending 24fps footage, and throwing away extra frames in 60fps footage. NeoScene says they are working on a fix that will be in a new build “very very soon.”

Frame Rate
In case you missed it, in 1080 you can shoot in 24, 25 and 30fps. In 720p and 480p, it’s 60/50. Also, the 30fps is actually 29.97 and the 60 is 59.94.

The 7D uses the same battery as the 5D. Initial reports suggest you’ll get at least 3 or 4 hours out of a battery.

If you plan on shooting video with the 7D, make sure you get a UDMA card. Also, a speed of 333x or higher seems to be what people are gravitating towards. i.e. SanDisk Extreme IV is UDMA compatible, but the Extreme III is not.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Write Speed
SanDisk, Transcend and PhotoFast roll out speedy cards up to 64GB

Other resources
There’s a good all around preview article on the 7D here: ProLost Canon 7D

Philip Bloom reports that SNL used a 7D and 5D to shoot the new SNL opening: Saturday Night Live use Canon 7d (and 5d)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Canon 7D overheating update

Is the overheating problem caused - or more frequent - when capturing at 720p and 480p? That's one of the things that seems to be common about the users that have had problems. In fact, two of them seem to have subsequently found that recording at 1080p in 24 and 30fps does not have the same problem.

If that is the case, it could be due to the extra processing scaling the image down to the smaller sizes, or because of the higher frames rates (50 and 60fps) used in those two modes. Or it could be something else.

Canon 7D problems with overheating?

The Canon 7D has only just started arriving in the hands of users, and already there's a bit of a panic about an overheating issue. Three users on report encountering the temperature warning (a red flashing indicator) during shooting. It appears that the camera initially keeps shooting with the warning, but may shut off.

Canon's manual notes:
* If you continue to shoot movies for a prolonged period, the camera's internal temperature will increase. This can degrade the image quality. While not shooting, turn off the power.
* If you shoot under direct sunlight or high-temperature conditions, the (high internal temperature warning) may appear on the screen. If you keep shooting a movie with the warning icon displayed, the image quality might degrade.
* If the icon is displayed and you keep shooting movies until the camera's internal temperature increases further, the movie shooting will stop automatically.

Now it appears that these users were using the camera for an "extended" period:

  • I shot a time lapse of the 7D aimed at a clock with my EX1 and the results were about 30 minutes before the dreaded 'red thermometer' began flashing.
  • It was quite hot and I was shooting intermittently for about 2 hours all at 720p/60 for slow-mo with my production 7D. I'm sad to say it gave me temperature warnings almost the entire shoot and stopped me shooting at all at least 3 times during the period.
  • I just tried 480p60 indoors, 74 deg. F, got to 25:30 before the temp. warning.

I'm using the word "extended" advisedly; for casual users 20 minutes of video is a lot, for serious shooters, 20 minutes isn't long at all.

Some 5D owners have chimed in that they have hardly ever encountered this warning with their cameras, leading some to believe that the 7D is more susceptible to the problem than the 5D.

Interestingly, I remember when the 5D was first announced, there were questions about how the camera would handle extended shooting, and some thought that the 12 minute limit of a sequence was there because of that concern, though a representative from Canon later denied that.

This all poses a dilemma for budget film makers who liked the 5D, but wanted 24p shooting. The 7D seemed to offer a solution to that, but if it doesn't handle extended use/shooting situations, then it may be a bad choice.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Contour HD 1080p

If you’re looking for a helmet cam or a car-mountable camera, you’ve probably encountered the VholdR Contour camera. There’s already been a couple of versions of the camera; the original VholdR wearable camera costs about $200 and shoots in standard resolution video, and the ContourHD is selling for about $280, and shoots in 720p.

Now they have announced a new version, the ContourHD 1080, which shoots 1080p video, and will cost about $50 more than the ContourHD. It’s certainly an interesting camera, with it’s small size and laser aided focusing. On the down side, it has a fixed field of view (though on a helmet cam it’s not like you are going to be zooming in and out.)

Users note the following:
  • solid construction, seems robust
  • simple, light and easy to use
  • for outdoors, it produces good quality images
  • poor low-light capabilities
  • adapting to other camera mounts can be difficult
  • poor sound and no video out

If you’re looking to do active shooting, it’s certainly worth considering.

I’m currently looking at trying to mount a video camera on a kite rig. The Contour HD looks like it might work well for that, but I’m also drawn to some of the cheaper HD camcorders available that offer more features. The real question – perhaps – is how durable those cameras will be compared to the Contour HD.

Vholdr website.
Sample video from 1080p: Base jumper
720p at 60fps : Jet Ski

Engadget: Hands-on

Amazon: VholdR 1200 ContourHD Camera

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Canon price increase?

There's a rumor that Canon will be increasing it's prices by 10% on October 1. As with all rumors, the details are somewhat elusive. Number’s between 2% and 25% have been mentioned (I’m pretty sure the 25% is wrong) and people in different countries have reported different numbers. It’s also been said that it applies to lenses, but not cameras. Finally, some posters have suggested that retailers have already put their prices up over the past few months.

So who knows? But if you're planning on ordering any Canon gear in the next month, maybe you should do it tomorrow?

Photorumors: 10% Canon price increase on October 1st?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Canon 7D vs 5D Mark II

I was explaining to someone today my thinking about the pros and cons of the 7D vs 5D Mark II. The big pro for the 5D is the bigger, full frame sensor. From the early reports, the bigger sensor on the 5D does slightly better in low light than the 7D’s sensor (which has smaller photosites.) Initial testers are suggesting that the 7D is about one stop noisier than the 5D. And if you like wide-angle lenses, then the full-frame sensor of the 5D is the one to get.

And I do like to use wide-angle lenses. But it’s $1,000 more than the 7D.

And if you are even partly serious about shooting video, then the 7D has it all over the 5D, with it’s 24, 25 and 30 fps (which is actually 29.97, rather than the 5D’s 30fps) as well as it’s 60fps 720p option.

Another thing to consider is that next year, I’m pretty sure Canon will replace the 5D with a full-frame camera that can do the other frame rates. At one point it was thought that Canon might release a firmware update for the 5D MkII that would support 24p; but resent rumors suggest that it’s on hold, partly because the rolling shutter was much worse at 24p. Should you wait until then? It’s pretty tempting, but ultimately, the $1,000 price difference made a difference for me, and I took the jump and ordered the 7D.

Now I just have to wait for it to arrive.

There’s a couple of interesting clips of Canon Product manager Tim Smith talking about the 5D Mark II at the Digital Cinema Society. (look for Clip Smith1) Digital Still Cameras for Motion Picture Production Canon 5D MkII and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1