Saturday, February 06, 2010

Canon 5D Mark III sooner rather than later

I don't think this is a big surprise, but Canonrumors is reporting that maybe there will be a 5D Mark III sooner rather than later. Well, sooner is relative; there was a 3 year wait between the Canon 5D and the 5D Mark II, that's much longer than between Rebels and the 10D/20D/30D40D/50D cycles.

Don't get your hopes up; it could be a year away. Start saving! (Unless you need to do something now, in which case, get the 5D Mark IIl; people still seem to like it!)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Canon says little new at SuperMeet

Canon came to the SuperMeet tonight and talked about their most recent announcements, but little else. They showed the EOS plug-in for Final Cut Pro, and said it will be available in a "short time" though no exact date was given.

They also talked about their adoption of the MPEG-2 4:2:2 codec that was announced earlier this week, and hinted at a future camera that will be "an amazing camera with amazing quality at an amazing price." They were also showing a prototype "under class" at the event, but they didn't show it on stage, and the only details given were that it used 1/3" sensor's and that that camera does not have interchangeable lenses.

I think that's pretty conclusive that they won't be announcing this a new video camera next week.

Vimeo experimenting with 1080

Vimeo has begun experimenting with 1080....all the more reason to play your video back in HTML5 I'm computer will probably melt trying to play 1080 video in Flash, but there you go. The future is here.

You can read how it's been going here.

Mocha v2 preview and Boot Camp

Mocha is a 2D tracking and rotoscoping tool that can be used with After Effects or Final Cut Pro (there's two different versions.) They also have a product called Shape, and even though I've seen them demoed, I still get a little confused about what the difference is between Mocha and Mocha Shape. Leaving that minor point aside:

Mocha v2 preview
Imagineer CMO, Ross Shain will be presenting a first look demo of mocha v2 at the Digital Media Arts group in Los Angeles.Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mocha Boot Camp
VFX artist David Blum is offering an independent hands on class covering the basics of planar tracking for products: mocha, mocha for after effects and mocha for Final Cut.

Classes start March 3rd, and occur in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Phoenix starting March 3rd. The cost is $99 for the three hour workshop.

Canon EOS E1 video plug-in for Final Cut Pro

Chris Hurd at reports that Canon has released a plug-in for Final Cut Pro that "allows simple and easy transfer of video content from Canon’s EOS DSLR cameras directly into Final Cut Pro."

He also says that it's available at Apple-Downloads Mac OS X - Final Cut Studio, but unless I'm missing something, I don't see it. There is 5DtoFCP1.1 which is a:
workflow package allows the user to choose to edit in 1080p, 1080i or straight to standard definition 16x9 25fps. Custom droplets give one click access to compressor that will convert the H264 files into ProRes for editing.
but I don't think this is the tool that's being referred to.

Since the Canon plug-in was - reportedly - released today, maybe it just hasn't shown up on Apple's site.

NOTE: I'm kind of puzzling over what Canon's plug-in actually does. From the sparse description, I'm guessing it allows Final Cut to understand the Canon camera's file structure, and let's you use Log & Transfer to import clips into Final Cut Pro (converting them to ProRes as you go.)

You can already import Canon SLR movie files right into a Final Cut Pro project and then add them to the timeline and they will "work" - unlike AVCHD files - though the downside of using the files this way is that Final Cut has to render the files before it can play them back, and performance is seriously impacted (some people has also claimed that frame accuracy in edits is compromised, though I haven't noticed that.) An alternative (at the moment) is to use Compressor to convert the files to ProRes.

I'm really hoping that it isn't fussed about file structures the way Log & Transfer is about AVCHD files.

Free 3D screening of Avatar in Washington DC; and learn about Adobe Creative Suite

If you're in Washington D.C. next week, there's an Adobe Government Event (though it appears to be open to the general public) this Wednesday Feb 10th, which will be a seminar about the latest tips and tricks with Creative Suite 4 and Acrobat 9, followed be a 3D screening of the film, Avatar.

The seminar will evidently: Explore how Adobe tools were used in the production of this revolutionary cinema event, and how you can leverage the same toolsets to produce exciting, accessible cross-media content for print, web, video and mobile devices

I'm thinking this won't be about After Effects and Premiere Pro, but it may be interesting.

Adobe Acrobat 9 and Creative Suite 4 Tips & Flicks Seminar

From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR

From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR is an upcoming book from New Riders (part of Peachpit Press) that looks really interesting. Publication date (according to Amazon) is March 27, and in a sign that it's according to the From Still to Motion Facebook page, all 20 chapters were turned in yesterday!

Written by James Ball, Robbie Carman, Matt Gottshalk and Richard Harrington, the book will include a DVD containing 6 hours of video:
Visual learners can also work right alongside the authors as they put together their own projects or use the accompanying high-definition files included on the disc. To demonstrate all the concepts in action, a full, real-world example from a music video and artist promo package runs throughout the book.  Additional interviews with expert photographers in diverse fields such as nature, fashion, commercial, wedding/event photography, and more, are included to give an array of professional experience.
You can find some articles on Facebook which give an idea of what might be coming (though I'm not sure that they are exactly how they will appear in the book):
You can Pre-order from for $31.49: From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR (Voices That Matter)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Canon at the Movies UPDATED

It's probably not what we thought: more likely to be a 60D and/or new Rebel announcement.

More Timelapse

I'm still working on my timelapse problems; the biggest one is flicker in the sequence after it's assembled. I have a lead on software that might solve it, but it's Premiere only, which is a bit of a drag. I have an educational license copy of Premiere Pro 1, and haven't used it since I switched to Final Cut.

Meanwhile, per the announcement of the Creative Cow DSLR Video forum Marco Solorio has updated an article he wrote for the Cow: "Using a DSLR camera to Create Time-Lapse Video." it covers all the basics; unfortunately, it stops right at the point I am now!

Creative Cow goes DSLR

Creative Cow has created a new DSLR forum for those interesting in using DSLRs for video: Creative Cow DSLR Video forum

The forum's hosts include Richard Harrington, who hosts several other forums as well as Creative Cow's Photoshop for Video and Final Cut Studio podcasts. He's also author of the upcoming book: From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR (Voices That Matter)

Another host is Lance Bachelder an expert in independent feature production and post-production. His work includes title design, editing, post sound mixing, original music, cinematography and directing. Most recently, he served as the Supervising Editor for the past several seasons of the children's series, "Back at the Barnyard," based on the 2006 movie "Barnyard."

Ikonoskop A-Cam3D

Ikonoskop is previewing a 3D camera that looks weird and is expected to have a price above $10,000. Not sure I have much interest (at the moment)

More Movie 3D
And Clash of the Titans and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows is expected to be in 3D, along with others.

Is that a huge surprise? Probably not. My daughter saw the last Harry Potter movie in 3D; except that as I understand it, just the first 10 minutes were in 3D. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

New Sanyo Xactis

Move over Flip and Webbie, here comes new Xactis!  ehh...some of these names are weird.

Sanyo has the GH2, CG102 and CG20 coming out that will shoot 1080i, CMOS sensors and support the new SDXC format. The GH2 is a traditional body shape, while the CG102 and CG20 are pistol-grip models (the latter having lower resolution stills. Price will be $229 for the first two, and $199 for the CG-20. Expected to be available in March.

Canon at the Movies

Canon is holding an event at the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards in London on February 8th. Everyone is madly speculating; will they announce a new video Rebel, a 60D, new camcorders, or a DSLR that does video, or.....?

Or are they just holding an event to publicise/celebrate the increasing use of DSLR's in movie and TV making?

I have no idea. I am puzzled though; do companies typically announce new hardware at BAFTA? That would be like Sony rolling out their new camera at the Oscars.

The tea leaves point to a new professional camcorder coming sometime this year. Canon has talked about it. There's also been talk that there won't be any camera/DSLR mashup this year. And they will be talking about the upcoming pro-camcorder at this Friday at the SuperMeet in San Francisco. If they were going to be pimpimg any hardware next week, I would have thought it might be that.

UPDATE [4:58]: Canonrumors has a more detailed view of the above graphic with the following details visible:
We are pleased to invite you to a Canon Consumer imagine event at The British Academy of Film & Television Arts.
So it's NOT the BAFTA awards (the "at a Bafta event" description made me assume it was the BAFTA Awards!)

Now I'm starting to think it will be the new Rebel and/or 60D. The "Consumer Imaging" part makes me think it's not a professional level camcorder.

Digital Convergence Episode 2

The 16x9 Digital Convergence podcast is a new podcast series by Carl Olson targeted at photographers, videographers, musicians, sound engineers and multimedia artists. This is what he say's about it:
It is a combination of videocasts, screencasts and audio-only podcasts. We hope to be your Lonely Planet tour guide of all things video, photography, and audio. We will talk with others who have traveled the road of digital convergence. We will talk with videographers, photographers, sound engineers, musicians, and other creative artists. We'll talk fun stuff like equipment and software.
Episode 2 features Bruce Sharpe, CEO and founder of Singular Software, developer of Plural Eyes, a plug-in for Final Cut and Vegas which will synchronize multiple video and audio clips without the need for timecode or clappers.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

HXR-NX5 unboxing

Alex Wu posted this 7 days ago on Viemo; an unboxing of the HXR-NX5 - how'd I miss that?!

Sony HXR-NX5N \Open Box/ from Alex Wu on Vimeo.

MPEG LA will continue not to charge Royalties on H.264 for Internet Video

MPEG LA, the organization that holds and licenses several patents relating to H.264 announced it will continue not to charge royalties for Internet Video that is free to end users (known as Internet Broadcast AVC Video) during the next License term from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2016. Products and services other than Internet Broadcast AVC Video continue to be royalty-bearing, and royalties to apply during the next term will be announced before the end of 2010.

MPEG LA's AVC Patent Portfolio License provides access to essential patent rights for the AVC/H.264 (MPEG-4 Part 10) digital video coding standard.

For more information about MPEG LA’s AVC License see: AVC/H.264 Introduction

The DSLR Filmmaker's Guide to Zeiss Optics

David Flores has written a guide to Zeiss options for DSLR filmmakers. Zeiss makes a range of nice lenses for Canon, Nikon and Pentax mounts. Note that none of these support auto-focus, but for filmmakers they may actually work better because of the feel and operation of the focus ring - and note that auto-focus doesn't work when you're in Live-view/video mode anyway.

An interesting comment that he made caught my attention:
The Zeiss Z-series offers powerful imaging and control features to the DSLR filmmaker. Subjects are rendered faithfully, with clean natural color and quality contrast. This is important-especially on the back end of production. Pumping up or pulling down colors with Magic Bullet Looks or Final Cut Studio requires a neutral starting point. I love Canon's 50mm f/1.2L. With its warmth, sharpness, and zippy AF, it's probably my favorite "photography" lens of all-time. But when I'm shooting video, I prefer the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 T*. Footage shot with the lens is extremely neutral and much easier to color grade. These characteristics are consistent with the entire Z-series line.

Okay, I get that neutral is the ideal (if you're going to post process) but I would have thought that applied to still photography too (assuming you're post processing in Photoshop or something like that.)

On the other hand, I'm sure that if I was primarily doing still photography, I'd want auto-focus...

Sony Pictures to lay off 450, Blames DVD sales

Sony Pictures Entertainment told employees Monday that in March the company will lay off 450 workers, more than 6.5 percent of its 6,800 global workforce.

Pointing to the economy, as well as changes in technology, the company noted that DVD and Blu-ray sales fell 13% in the U.S. last year.

An article on CNET quotes Francis Ford Coppola as saying: "The cinema as we know it, is falling apart."

I have quite a few DVDs; I started buying them when the format first came out, and bought dozens a year, but now my consumption has gone way done. I don't rent (or "steal") more either. Frankly, I think more than half the movies I bought were actually back catalog items that I bought as they were released. But I'm not planning on buying those again in Blu-ray.
I think the movie studios enjoyed a bit of a once-in-a-lifetime windfall; I'm not sure that the economy picking up will immediately pick up sales. Maybe I'm wrong; I know they hoped they'd get it again with Blu-ray, but I think it's unrealistic for people to replace all their DVDs within ten years of buying them.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

HDR-AX2000 In Stock?

B & H Photo lists the Sony HDR-AX2000 as being in stock (for $3,499.99) though the official release date was supposed to be February 8th.

Interestingly, the HXR-NX5U ($3,999) -which was supposed to be available last month- is still listed as only being available for pre-order.

If I was going to get one (at the current prices) I think I'd spend the extra $500 for the HXR-NX5U. Though I also think I'd wait until next week to see if Canon actually announces anything interesting.

Canon Adopts MPEG-2 (4:2:2) for upcoming camcorder

Canon seems to like to drip-drip out information about their forthcoming professional cameras. I'm not sure if this is the way they like to do it, or it's a response to the recent announcement of Sony's NXCAM cameras, and they want to give people that are thinking of buying one of those fits.

There's already been rumors (and a showing) of a forthcoming solid-state video camera from Canon, but now Canon has announced they'll be using MPEG-2 with 4:2:2 chroma sampling on something. It's unclear what, though it's probably a good bet that this will be a serious camera (above $5,000). They may also have a lower-end solid state camera coming as well; it's getting hard to read all the tea leaves!

Canon will be showing/talking about something at this Friday's SuperMeet in San Francisco. There's also a report that they will be announcing something on February 8th (when they might also announce the new Rebel.)

There was some speculation about whether Canon would be using Sony's XDCAM format (which also uses MPEG-2) but this seems unlikely, particularly as they say in their press release that they are working with Adobe, Apple, Avid etc., to "ensure compatibility." They wouldn't need to do that if they were using XDCAM.

(Full text below)

AVCHD Introduction Handbook for NXCAM

The link to the document: AVCHD Introduction Handbook for NXCAM has been fixed on Sony's website. You can find it in resources at the NXCAM site. The 18 page document includes a general introduction to AVCHD as well as an explanation of how the compression works.

The PDF can be found here:: AVCHD Introduction Handbook for NXCAM (PDF)


New still cameras that do video

Fuji HS10
The upcoming Fuji HS10/HS11 camera is a fixed lens, 30x zoom, but it has a very SLR-like feature; you turn a ring on the lens to zoom. With a 35mm equivalent 24-720mm zoom lens, HD 1080 support and a price of $500...hmmm.

There's also mention of a "Super High Speed Movie mode" for slow-motion video at up to 1000fps. But at what frame size and how noisy will it be? Other cameras that I've seen capturing at such high frame rates produce tiny frames with lots of noise, making those high frame rates virtually useless. But if it did 720p at 60fps or a bit higher, that might be useful. [The specs only mention 1080p and 640x480 and 320x240, so I'm guessing the High Speed movie modes work in those lower resolutions only.]

New Canon Rebel says a new Rebel will be announced next week. Selectable FPS (though no details on what exactly) though no articulating LCD screen.

And I disagree and agree with their comment about the need for an articulating LCD screen. I think for video it's very useful, and while most people aren't buying a DSLR to primarily shoot video, I think most people will actually use it now and again to do so.

Getting Started in Timelapse: Episode 2: Better luck

I had better luck with my second attempt at making a time-lapse sequence. I charged up the second battery - which I suspected would last better than the first - and tried doing things again.

This time, I set the camera to manual focus, aperture priority, with 10 seconds between frames, and aimed it out of the window. Once again, I suffered from not much going on in the frame, though the sun was going down, so the last part of the sequence shows that.

I also got the ERR 02 message on the first photograph. I started again, and it worked fine from then on, so I think it must be a problem writing to the card (which is an 8GB card, so maybe the D10 doesn't like that!)

The camera lasted for 620 images, and though the battery was low, I shut it off before the battery actually died. I then turned it into a sequence at 30fps using QuickTime Pro 7, and then used Final Cut Pro to create a 1280 x 720 sequence.

I do notice the "flicker" that Philip Bloom talks about. It's particularly noticeable on the far left-hand side, in the sky. You could probably get away with it though. The jumping about of the tree branches in the front of the lens is more annoying, but that's the shot I was limited to, and I'll be more careful in framing next time.

I think I'll also drop down to 5 seconds between frames. At 10 seconds between frames the clouds (what there are of them) are moving a little faster than I think I want.

Now I just have to wait for some good cloud cover!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Getting Started in Timelapse: Episode 1: Total Fail

I’ve been so intrigued by the time lapse video’s produced by Philip Bloom (and others) that I decided to give it a try.

I already have a TC80N3, the Canon Timer Remote Controller that you can use to automatically take a sequence of images. I'd just never used it to take long sequences. I was using it with an older Canon 10D. Note: I believe that Nikon SLRs have a self-timer capability built-in; Canon DSLRs require the controller.

It took a while to figure out again how to use the controller - I’ve lost the manual - but it’s pretty simple: you can set a delay before it starts shooting, as well as the time between pcitures, and the number of pictures to take. The latter is entered as a number between 1 and 99: if you set it to 00, then it continues the sequence indefinitely.

The next question was; what to take, and what setting to use? I was hoping for a nice cloud scape, but as luck would have it, the morning dawned bright and clear. Not a cloud in the sky.

Meanwhile, reading up on Philip Blooms blog post, he’s a bit unclear on the settings to use; making it sound a bit like it’s as much luck as anything. I did decide to use aperture priority, though.

In the end, a few clouds appeared at the end of the day, and I thought I'd capture a bit of that, as well as the sun going down. It was cold when I got down to the park to experiment. I set the camera up on a tripod and pressed the button on the timer. It took two pictures and then stopped with an ERR 02. I’ve never encountered that error before, and I thought it might be a problem writing to the card, so I increased the time between takes and started it all over again. Same thing happened. So then I lowered the aperture because I thought maybe it was a shutter speed error. Started it up again, and this time it seemed to work...

I came back a few minutes later to check on it and the camera was shut off; the battery in the camera was flat! The battery was several years old, and had been exhibiting shortened life prior to this; I guess the extreme cold only shortened it's capacity even more and I’d taken a total of only 26 pictures before it died!

On The Bright Side
I did manage to use the Open Sequence function in QuickTime 7 Pro to import the sequence (setting the frames-per-second to 24) to create a clip which I imported into Final Cut Pro, just as Philip suggests. It worked just fine; even if the sequence was short! So now I’m ordering a new battery, and going to try it all over again.

Other Lessons Learned
Experimenting again after I got home, I realized I hadn't taken one piece of Philip's advice; I hadn't turned off the auto focus.

I also - after the fact - experimented with mirror-lockup. Unfortunately, though the 10D has a mirror lock-up function it seems to work only for one image; i.e. you can't lock it up permanently for a sequence. If anyone can prove me wrong (i.e. tell me how to get the mirror to lock-up for an entire sequence) I'd appreciate it!

Finally, though I did a Google search on the ERR 02, the responses were a bit vague, suggesting it might be a card problem. I have reformatted the card in the camera to see if that does anything

LensFlareLive 002: Discussion of HD DSLR’s, Convergence, Fusion, Video and Film

If you're interested in using DSLR's for video, but are just starting out, definitely catch the latest LensFlareLive podcast. It features film maker Philip Bloom, media producer Scott Bourne and Steve Weiss from Zacuto.

In this hour and a half long podcast they talk about a lot of stuff, including:

  • Canon’s surprise when HD video took off
  • Nikon foot dragging on 1080
  • How to get started in video
  • Difficulties in doing shoots
  • Should a Nikon shooter switch back to Canon?
  • Latitude of digital compared to film
  • Overheating
  • Do you need stabilized lenses?

There's a lot of other stuff covered; this list just scratches the surface. While a lot of the focus is on still photographers moving to video, anyone getting started in DLSR video will get something out of this.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

New York Workshops

If you're in New York, B&H has a couple of interesting workshops coming up at their Event Space in early February:

HD DSLRs & Final Cut Studio - From Acquisition to Post to Distribution
Wednesday, February 3, 2010 | 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Join Don Peebles of Apple and Jem Schofield of for an in depth workshop on shooting techniques, editing workflows and distribution options when working with HD DSLR cameras like the Canon 5DMKII & 7D along with Final Cut Studio.

Introduction to Directing a Film Scene, Presented by NYFA
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 | 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Join Claude Kerven from NYFA, for a presentation that will teach you the basic skills of directing, including shot size, lens choice, camera angles, eye-lines and camera movement as they relate to the telling of a story within a scene.

GoPro HD camcorder

The GoPro is a wearable 1080p HD video camera that supports 1080p / 960p / 720p HD resolutions at 30 and 60 fps (60 fps is in 720p only). Unlike it's chief competitor, the ContourHD - which is shaped like a tube - the GoPro HD is a small box-like thing. They sell a variety of mounts for the cameras, and it's sold in a "naked" version (with a water-proof housing) as well as in a Helmet, Surf and Motorsports versions which include specific mounts. The suction cup mount looks interesting.

You can find sample movies on Vimeo and YouTube showing this camera in action. Some of this stuff looks pretty amazing; particularly when filmed at high-speed and then slowed down. It actually smooths out some of the bumps and shakiness that would be visible if the video was played back at standard speed.

The one problem with both of these cameras is that operation can be a bit hit or miss - it's impossible to know exactly what's being shot, and it can be difficult to know what mode the camera is in because the controls are so small or obscure. That said, for less than $300 you get a quite robust HD camera that fits into small spaces.

If there was a better option for a small camera in tight spaces, the Sony HXR-MC1 would be it, as it has a lens module, with a separate playback/recording/monitor unit connected by a 110 inch cable. The only problem is that one is that it's not waterproof, and it costs $2,439 (right now there's a mail-in rebate for $300, bringing it down to $2,139 which still makes the camera too expensive!)

Check out the video below taken with the GoPro. It's a great collection of shots, and the music goes well with it. Almost makes me want to go out and learn how to skimboard!

GoPro HD - Skimboarding In A Storm! from Patrick Lawler on Vimeo.