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Saturday, January 29, 2011

DigitalRevTV Compares Panasonic GH2 to Canon D60

Kai W at DigitalRevTV compares the video performance of the Panasonic GH2 to the Canon D60 and finds what several other people have already noted on the forums: the GH2 does a better job in several areas:
  • In 24fps, the GH2 image is sharper with more detail
  • GH2 doesn't suffer from moire nearly as much as the 60D
  • Rolling Shutter problem is slightly improved
  • 60D white balance is better
  • ISO 3200, noise is lower on the GH2, BUT 60D goes to 6400
  • Both shoot at 24p,25p and 30p, but the GH2 also shoots in 1080i at 50 and 60fps
  • 60D's Screen is much better
  • Stereo mic input on GH2 is not standard; requires an adapter
In the video Kai notes that the GH2 is more expensive, but here in the US the Canon 60D - body only - is only $30 cheaper than the GH2 with a kit lens: Canon 60D $969 @ Amazon, body only, Panasonic GH2 $999.95 @ Amazon with 14-42mm lens


Which to buy? If you're just starting out - and don't already have a collection of lenses - or if you can afford to buy the latest and greatest, then the slightly improved detail, and the reduced moire are two very compelling reasons for getting the GH2.

I already own a 7D (which suffers from the same moire and rolling shutter issues as the 60D) and unfortunately, I can't justify switching platforms at this point. Also, while the GH2 does a better job than the Canon's, that doesn't mean the Canon's are suddenly unusable. Still, if I was looking to buy a new camera right now, I'd be giving the GH2 a long hard look (provided you can find one in stock; the GH2 is currently hard to get, so it might be a month or two before you can lay your hands on one!)


This video review has prompted a bit of response on Twitter:
In many ways GH2 is a better video cam. Canon DSLR more filmic though.
I'm going to keep testing the GH2, but I don't think it beats the 5DmkII image unless it's a moire situation.
-@DSLRinformer

Canons have better colour. GH2 is better in every single other way.
The image is a little bit too cold and green from the GH2 sensor. Canon more life like and cinematic
I wish the 5D would resolve the amount of detail the GH2 does, and with proper live view, HDMI
-@EOSHD



Sony PMW-F3 Brochure

Matrix Video, Canada, seems to be the first to have posted the Sony brochure for the PMW-F3 [PDF]


DSLR Video News

Zacuto Z-Finder Pro 3x
Brian Troy gets a Zacuto Z-Finer DSLR viewfinder, and writes a review:
Overall, the Zacuto Z-Finder Pro 3x is comfortable, reliable, magnifies your LCD screen, is easy enough to put on and take off, and it’s lightweight. It gives me confidence that my subject is in focus and the pros outweigh the cons by far. Will I be purchasing one? Absolutely! It is everything that I can imagine wanting or needing in a viewfinder? Yes.
BrianTroyZacuto Z-Finder Pro 3x Review



USB Follow Focus
Earlier in the week, the 5D Mark II Team blog team posted about a USB Follow Focus that works with Canon DSLR's, and would be "available soon." Soon is now, as Okii Systems LLC. has released today the Okii USB Follow Focus Controller.
5DMarkII: USB Follow Focus Controller Released



Blu Brothers at L.A. SMUG Meeting, Feb. 10
Vu and Lan Bui adopted DSLR video shooting as soon as it came out (with the Nikon D90) and, with Smashface Productions, shot the first US television commercial on the Canon 5D mark II. They'll be talking about "Embracing Fusion," when a photographer or videographer uses both photographs and video to make a video
Meetup: L.A. SMUG FEB 2011 Meeting - Embracing Fusion - with the Bui Bros



Black Swan used Canon DSLR's for some scenes
American Cinematographer interviewed Matthew Libatique, ASC about his work on Black Swan:
We used a Canon 7D or 1D Mark IV for all the subway scenes; I could just carry a 7D and shoot on the subway all day with a very small crew. I did some tests with my wife beforehand to figure out my ASA, my stop, and how I was going to deal with the focus. I didn’t use any rigs with it because I wasn’t trying to shoot in the traditional way. I tested a bunch of different exposures and then brought the footage to Charlie Hertzfeld at Technicolor, who put it in the system so I could look at the highlights, the moiré and the resolution. Then I went back to the drawing board to do more tests. The 7D has more depth of field than the 5D, but I needed that because I didn’t have a follow-focus unit and needed to work really fast. I shot everything documentary-style. I did all the focus pulls by hand, and we’d just look at it on the camera’s monitor. I ended up shooting on a Canon 24mm lens at 1,600 ASA to get as much depth of field as possible at a stop of T81⁄2.
MomentumBlog: Black Swan - Matthew Libatique, ASC



A 5D and a Fast 50
Mick Jones writes about the advantages of using a minimal camera crew and kit.
He also notes that when shooting models, they looked more natural when not posing for still pictures; which probably isn't that surprising!
The footage that I rolled while the stills were being shot simply looked like moving magazine covers. Working solo with such a small camera gave me a lot of freedom to be creative and also get the shots in a very short amount of time.
ZacutoA 5D and a Fast 50 Small Footprint Field Production



DSLR News Gathering in Egypt
Following on from Mick Jones article, Dan Chung writes about Sky News using a 5DmkII to film remarkable footage of the unfolding violence in Egypt.
DSLRNewsShooter: Political Unrest In Egypt - Sky News HD Uses Canon 5DMKII Again

Just a few hours later, CNN reported that Cairo police werre stripping cameras from tourists as well as journalists...

Software Updates

Bloggie Touch Mac Software
Sony has released Mac software for the Bloggie camera. This update is for current Bloggie Touch models that are on store shelves right now including the MHS-TS10, MHS-TS20and MHS-TS20K. When the new Bloggie Entry, Bloggie Duo and Bloggie 3D (aka MHS-FS1MHS-FS2, and MHS-FS3) become available, the updated Mac-compatible software will already be included.
Sony Blog: Bloggie Touch Software now available for Macs



Magic Bullet Denoiser 1.0.1
This update fixes the following issues. In Final Cut Pro:
  • When rendering a clip with Denoiser applied – canceling and then resuming the render causes the canceled frame to be black with blue specs in it. This can also cause blue frames in other areas of the output.
  • Fix an issue where you often get an “Unable to sample” error while using Denoiser.
  • When Denoiser is applied, it sometimes scrambles the output video.
In After Effects:
  • Denoiser can cause After Effects to crash while scrubbing the timeline and using Denoiser’s sliders at the same time.
RedBulletSoftwareMagic Bullet Denoiser 1.0.1


Friday, January 28, 2011

Zeiss Lens @ Rule Boston Camera

Rule Boston Camera continues to post video's from their LearningLab Series, and the latest features Richard Schleuning, National Sales Manager for the America's for Zeiss. He talks about the history of the company, their ZF SLR lenses, and their Compact Prime Cine CP.2 lenses.

The CP.2 lenses are expensive, but offer some notable improvements over the standard Zeiss SLR lenses:
  • 14-blade diaphragm (vs 9)
  • 300 degree plus focus rotation
  • Common outer dimensions (for the majority of the lenses) makes it quick and easy to interchange a lense during shooting
  • T-stops
  • Calibrated Lens Scales
  • Lightweight
  • Interchangeable mounts
There is no electronic communication between the lens and the body; this was done because they wanted to make the mounts interchangeable.

Switching mounts requires a torque wrench and a test chart or calibration device to set the back-focus for the lens correctly. The first time a new mount is put on a lens, it needs to be adjusted using shims (provided.) As long as you mark the shims and keep them with the mount, the swap after that is just a mechanical change; you don't need to recalibrate each time you switch mounts.

Currently they offer PL, Canon EF, Nikon F and Micro 4/3rds mounts. They had intended to offer Sony A mount (Alpha) but he said that they just don't see that as being a factor for video applications. He did say though, that they will "possibly" offer some more mounts later in 2011.

[Wild Speculation: with Sony's NEX-VG10, and the upcoming NXCAM 35mm camera sharing the Sony E-mount, perhaps Zeiss might be considering supporting that mount in place of the A mount?]


Vimeo: Learning Lab: Zeiss Quality Lenses on 1.26.11
Note: Jump to 47:15 for the segment on the CP.2 lenses.

Rule Boston Camera
Zeiss: Compact Prime CP.2
B & H: Compact Prime CP.2 25mm/T2.9 Cine Lens (EF Mount) [$3,900]
B & H: Compact Prime CP.2 85mm/T2.1 Cine Lens (PL Mount) [$3,900]
B & H: Compact Prime CP.2 18mm/T3.6 Cine Lens (F Mount) [$3,900]

Rule Boston Camera: February LearningLab Events

Rule Boston Camera's ongoing educational programs for February:

Shared Storage Demystified
Feb 2nd 10am - 12noon
Rule's Tom Talbot covers various storage and asset management solutions.

Creating An Efficient Audio Environment
Feb 9  10am - 12noon
Paul Stewart of Genelec and Jordan Tishler of Digital Bear Entertainment provide an overview of audio monitoring technology.

Maximizing The Benefits Of Canon's 5D and 7D
Feb 16 10am - 12noon
Canon's Carl Peer highlights some of the benefits to filmmakers when shooting with the Canon 5D and 7D.

Media assets And Shared Storage
Feb 23 10am - 12noon
Bob Russo, Avid Applications Specialist discusses the challenges and solutions for managing media assets in a shared storage environment.

RSVP to events@rule.com

NBC / Universal /Comcast Merger

At a town hall meeting held for employees yesterday, the company rolled out a new space-less corporate logo that "is meant to represent the unity of its two main divisions." That's the official "rebranding" as a result of the Comcast merger.

But the NBC peacock will remain part of the NBC brand, and the spinning globe continues to be used by the movie studio, which suggests that this logo will primarily be used for interoffice memos.

Clearly great days are ahead for NBCUniversal, as employees were all given
...a "Big Idea Book" in which they were to record their own.
YahooFinance: NBC Universal now NBCUniversal under Comcast

San Francisco SuperMeet streamed LIVE tonight

The 10th Annual San Francisco SuperMeet will be held tonight! If you can't get there, the event will be streamed live, starting at 6:45 PM PST at http://supermeet.com/live/

While the event is run by the Final Cut Pro User Group Network, you don't have to be a Final Cut user to get anything out of this event. Presentations include:
  • CANON Presents: Michael Blieden, Explorer of Light "Yes You Can Use Autofocus And Still Call Yourself A D.P."
  • Kevin Jardin and John Stark present their video "I The Pro Res Maker."
  • Best of the Best – Tips, Tricks, and Secret Techniques in FCP 7 - Returning to the Stage: Abba Shapiro and Steve Martin!
  • What's Happening in 3D Production? - Alex Lindsay
  • "POST IN A FLASH" - Tony Cacciarelli, AJA Video Systems
  • Smoke on Mac OSX -Josh Courtney and Marc Hamaker
  • The New Up: "Bitch" - Peggy Peralta and Albert Lopez
SuperMeet: San Francisco

Lightworks 10.0.3 Beta

Development of Lightworks, the - now - open source video editor continues apace. They have just released version 10.0.3 which has over 150 changes.

The focus for this release has been on stability and reliability, but they have also attempted to address codec support issues:
The other major issue was codec support… what works and what doesn’t. We realize that this is an important area for everyone and we are working hard to address it. As we said in our previous announcement, some things are just not straight forward due to legalities. In this version, we are much more explicit about what is and isn’t supported. We have made a major change that allows Quicktime files to be imported via ‘Create Link’. These changes also extend support for import formats to AVCHD (wrapped as .mov). The important point here, though, is that codec support is a major part of the work we are now focusing on and over the coming weeks and months you will see more support being made available. Please bear with us while we implement these changes.
Lightworks Forum: New Lightworks 10.0.3 Beta download available

News From Here & There

Panasonic AG-AF100 Focus Remote Control
The Manfrotto 521PFI Focus Remote Control [B & H: $269.95] is a focus/iris remote control designed to be used with Panasonic prosumer cameras. Features include focus and iris manual adjustment, focus min and max adjustment, as well as re-write position references for the iris and focus knobs.

Peter Lundström at the editman tried it out with the Panasonic AG-AF100 and found it works; as long as you have appropriate lenses like the Olympus 14-35mm and the Olympus 35-100mm lenses. He's happy with it, though he does note that using the internal lens motor to focus might make noise that's picked up in audio recording:
I have to say that having this little device mounted at an ergonomic spot makes focus pulls much easier. You can also do repeatable focus pulls even with the 35-100. I've tried to use my Shoot35 FF unit but you can't do this because of how this lens works, but the 521PFI can!
theeditman: Electronic focus and iris for the AF101

Peter has also posted an article at The Convergence website, wondering whether the new "DSLR Killers," - the AG-AF100 and the Sony PMW-F3 will really impact the use of DSLR's in video production. He suspects that they may not.
TheConvergenceThere’s a new kid in town but does he fit in the neighbourhood?



Using an Audio Splitter
The markertekblog has posted a short article about using an XLR splitter and a JuicedLink CX231 preamp to get better audio when recording using a DSLR.
markertekblog: Improving DSLR Audio with an XLR SPlitter Cable



Color Correction Tutorial - With Food!
Stu Maschwitz has posted a screen recording (with audio) of the color correction process for a food preparation video. Ostensibly, he's answering the question “Why doesn’t the video I shoot with my DSLR look as good as the stills?" and he is using After Effects CS5 and Colorista II, but he's also going through the color correction process step-by-step, and it's good to see/hear how a pro approaches and "thinks" about color correction.

It's well worth watching if you're just starting out in color correction.
Prolost: Color Correcting Food with Colorista II



Switching From Apple Color to DaVinci Resolve
Meanwhile, Patrick Inhofer over at The Tao of Color is documenting his journey from Apple Color to DaVinci Resolve.
Having never seen the Resolve in action and mostly skimming reviews of the app I think I’m in a pretty good position to help Apple Color users figure out if Resolve is for them (or how hard the transition might be).
TaoOfColor: Moving From Apple’s Color to BlackMagic’s DaVinci Resolve, Days 1 – 3



Eyedirect Review
Philip Bloom likes the Eyedirect device; which he says makes it much easier for non-professional's to "talk to the camera" during an interview. It's an interesting idea that works sort of like an autocue, except that the interviewer's face appears in the mirror in front of the camera's lens.

Personally, most of the time I don't like it when people talk to the camera during interviews, but if this is an effect you like, you might want to look into the Eyedirect.
PhilipBloomEyedirect: Solving the problem of getting people to look straight into the camera


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Awesome Intel Ad

I really like the imagination and creativity in this ad:


Sony F35 : Another unusual sensor

Sony isn't talking about the sensor design of the PMW-F3; other than to say it has a "very interesting" color array design. But at the recent PMW-F3 preview they did talk about the sensor in their F35 Cinema camera, and that certainly got my attention as I wasn't aware of it's "unusual" design.

The F35 is an unusual HD video camera with an unusual price; somewhere around $200,000. This camera has been used to shoot feature films, including Tron and Transformers 3. To understand how unusual the sensor is, it's important to understand how most digital cameras - both still and video - currently work.

CCDs and CMOS chips detect brightness, not color. To detect color, color filtering must be added. But this means that any one pixel in a sensor can only detect one color (Red, Green or Blue).

Most cameras use one of two ways to calculate the RGB value for a pixel in the final image.

Single-chip cameras
Most single-chip cameras use a Bayer color pattern filter over the sensor. An individual pixel on the sensor has either a Red, Green, or Blue filter over it. The actual color of an individual pixel in the final image is calculated by combining the color values from adjacent pixels, so while the brightness accuracy of any given pixel in the image is correct, the actual calculated color value is a "guess."

Note: The Bayer pattern have more green pixels than red or blue because the human eye is more sensitive to green light.



Three-chip cameras
These cameras use a beam splitter that separates the light coming through the lens, and then three separate chips to detect the Red, Green and Blue values of each pixel in the final image separately. These three separate values are then combined to get the actual color value.

Three-chip cameras are more expensive - and larger - than single-chip cameras, but are preferred for their color accuracy.


F35 Sensor
The F35 camera has a single 12MP sensor, so you might think it works something like the Bayer pattern. But it has a very different pattern of filters, with vertical strips of RGB filters. The dimensions of the sensor are 1920 x 3 horizontally, and 1080 x 2 vertically. The net effect is that the color value of a single pixel in the final 1920x1080 HD image is calculated by taking the color vales for two blue, two green and two red pixels and adding them together and averaging them; using two pixels for each color improves the accuracy of the measurement.



With this technique, they've produced a color camera that has the color accuracy of a three-chip camera, but uses just one chip. Also, it doesn't have some of the anomalies that three-chip cameras suffer from (See: The Not-So-Technical Guide to the Sony F35).

You might think that this method was used to save money, but Sony says that this CCD is very expensive to produce. The interesting thing to see is wether they will adapt this to lower cost CMOS sensors and lower priced cameras in the future.


Resources:

News From Here & There

Passive 3D TV Review
Vizio's 65-inch XVT3D650SV ($3,700), the first mainstream TV equipped with so-called "passive" 3D technology gets reviewed at Crave, and while the glasses are lighter and the screen slightly brighter, resolution is severely impacted:
We expected this difference because, as Vizio, LG, and other purveyors of 2011 passive 3D TVs admit, the system they use halves the effective 1080p resolution, delivering only 540 lines to each eye. We just didn't expect it to be so obvious. As Matt said, it makes you appreciate how good "1080p to each eye" looks
CNET Crave: Passive 3D vs. active 3D: Hands-on TV comparison Read more:

Meanwhile, Bud Light makes their own fun of 3D "safety": YouTube: Bud Light 3D Test Commercial HD



Sundance and Kickstarter
Sundance Institute announced a new program to connect its artists with audiences by offering access to creative funding and marketing backed by the Institute’s promotional support. These services will act as building blocks for future program components which aim to provide filmmakers access to a broad and open array of third-party digital distribution platforms. The creative funding component was announced with Kickstarter, the crowd-sourcing site for creative projects.
TurlyFreeFilmSundance Teams With KickStarter & Facebook For New Initiative To Connect Artists With Audiences



Switronix Team with Redrock Micro to Deliver Advanced HDSLR Rigs
Switronix, maker of camera battery systems, are working with Redrock Micro to offer camera rigs with longer-lasting power (up to 6x the runtime of OEM batteries) that can also extend power to additional on-board monitors and accessories. Both Switronix battery systems (PRO-X and Powerbase70) integrate with Redrock Micro’s shouldermount and handheld HDSLR rigs making for an ergonomic system designed for comfort and efficiency.
Switronix: Redrock Micro and Switronix Team to Deliver Advanced HDSLR Rigs



Movie Title Design
Kyle Cooper is a title sequences and credits designer, his credits include: Se7en, the Spider-Man series, Ironman and Ironman 2, Superman Returns, The Incredible Hulk, and Dawn of the Dead.

A native of Salem, Mass., Cooper spoke as part of the College of Fine Arts Contemporary Perspectives Lecture Series at Boston University.
BU: Contemporary Perspectives Lecture Series: Kyle Cooper


Watch this video on YouTube

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Amazon Blu-ray Sale

If you're looking to get some Blu-ray deals, checkout the sale at Amazon: Amazon Blu-ray Sale

News From Here & There

Zacuto EVF - battery info
Zacuto has issued another video in their series on the upcoming Zacuto EVF. This one's on batteries; they said they were looking for a battery that performed as close as possible to the Canon LP-E6 battery. They also revealed that they have removed the 12 volt input they had originally planned to include, and decided to use a dummy battery as a plug-in or external battery option.

The Zacuto EVF is supposed to be released in March with a price of around $775.
Zacuto: Z-Finder EVF - Part 5 'It's All About Power"



More on post on "the final word on 3D"
One more follow on from Roger Ebert's recent column, Daniel Engber at Slate has jumped in to defend 3D. The first part of the article doesn't really bring any new facts to the discussion (arguing that we didn't evolve to watch 24 frames per second either, seems a little beside the point.) And, frankly, I don't care whether people like or don't like watching 3D - for whatever reason.

I'm much more interested in the health effects argument, and I'm not sure Engber really addresses it, even though he does establish his bona fides by pointing out he raised the issue of visual discomfort two years earlier. But immediately after that, Engber writes:
After watching 10 or 20 of these films since then, I've grown accustomed to the ocular aerobics, and the same format that gave me splitting headaches back in 2009 hardly bothers me now.
I'm not sure if that gives me great comfort.
Slate: Two Thumbs, Two Dimensions



Glidetrack review
Looking for a "reasonably" priced slider? Daniel Freytag reviewed the Glidetrack slider, and likes it for the price:
Of course there are some more companies, which offer sliders in their product range. Because I only worked with the Glidetrack yet I can’t tell you the difference, but in my opinion the Glidetrack is a solid and very mobile slider for the beginning.
freytag-film: Glidetrack
B & H: Glidetrack HD - 30" (0.75m) [$349.95]



Jag35 Competition
Jag35, makers and sellers of low-cost camera rigs and gear, is offering a prize of a $500 and $100 gift certificate to their online store. You have to Tweet twice by Jan 31st to be entered
Jag35: Tweet to Win



Tangent Wave and Euphonix MC Color lack Application Parity
If you're doing color correcting work day-in and day-out you probably want to buy a control surface, and there are two such surfaces that sell for less than $2,000. Only problem, not all color applications support both surfaces. Only Apple Color and RedCine support both.
The EditBlog on PVC has the details.
TheEditblog: How about application parity between the Tangent Wave and Euphonix MC Color
B & HEuphonix MC Color - Color Grading Control Surface [$1,699.95]
B & HTangent Devices Wave Panel [$1,494.95]



Color Correcting; Before and After
Mick Jones used Magic Bullet Colorista II to color correct a project for Wrangler, and he talked to Red Giant about how and why he uses it, and shows some before and after images.
RedGiantSoftware: Mick Jones Brings Color to Wrangler’s “Road Trip” with Magic Bullet Colorista II



Panasonic AG-AF100
Philip Bloom has posted an article on lenses for the Panasonic AG-AF100 (and GH1, GH2 etc.), while Philip Johnston talks about the Nokton by Voigtlander f0.95 (and notes that f2.8 does not give you shallow enough depth of focus in a small room.)
PhilipBloomWhich lenses for your GH1/ GH2/ AF100/ AF101 etc…?
HDWarrior: Lens update for the AF101





Sony PMW-F3 @ Rule Boston Camera

At last Wednesday's SMPTE New England event held at Boston Rule Camera, Dr. Hugo Gaggioni CTO, VP Technology and Peter Crithary, Marketing Manager, Production, of Sony’s Broadcast & Professional Solutions Division gave a presentation on Sony's Super35mm cameras. While much of the event focused on the upcoming PMW-F3, it began with discussion of CMOS vs CCD, their high-end Super 35mm camera the F35, digital memory recording and S-Log.

But everyone was really there to see the PMW-F3, and participants did get to handle a pre-production model, and see footage that had been shot with a PMW-F3.

The Sony PMW-F3 is supposed to be shipping in February, and Sony seem confident they have a winner on their hands. It may not take on the Panasonic AG-AF100 (that’s the job of the upcoming NXCAM 35mm) but it looks more like they are going after RED, and maybe the studios and independents that are using the 5D MkII.

And they are still being coy about some details:


Sensor Resolution
The PMW-F3 features Sony's first CMOS EXMOR Super 35mm, and it has a resolution of 3.43 Megapixels, though they aren’t disclosing the number of pixels across the vertical; yet.* But according to Sony, it has a “very interesting” color filter array.

(* For the math inclined: 1920x1080 = 2.07MP. (1920x2)=3840x1080 = 4.15MP, so perhaps the vertical resolution is something more than 1920 and less than 3840?)

USB ports
There are two USB ports; one device, and the other host. In device mode, you can connect the camera to your computer to download files from memory. Host mode can be used to communicate with the camera; probably. They aren’t talking about what it will be used for yet.

The HDMI Port
In addition to HD-SDI output, there is also an HDMI port. This will send out full 1920 x 1080, but they’re not sure if it’s 8 or 10 bit. Also, they weren't sure if it was available when HD-SDI was being used.

The PL lenses
Sony is selling PMW-F3 body only, or as a package with three PL mount lenses (a 35, 50 and 80.) Sony isn’t saying who actually makes the lenses - though it’s not Sony. All they’ll say is that they are made in Japan. The lenses will not be sold separately.
They did have one of the lenses on the prototype. It was impossible to judge it’s image quality, though it does have T-stops and a long focus rotation, but it did seem rather plasticy compared to Zeiss Cine 2.0 lenses. (On the other hand, you are getting three lenses for less than the price of two Zeiss Cine lenses, and this was a prototype.)

Zoom lenses
In addition to the three PL fixed lenses, Sony is developing some zoom lenses, including two that are F3 mount lenses, and a wide angle zoom that (possibly?) uses the PL mount. Details are still a little scarce on when these lenses will be available (one will probably appear in April, with the other two much later,) and their exact specifications are fluid too.

Color LUT Management
The PMW-F3 will be able to store four LUTs, and you will be able to transfer them to and from the camera, but they haven’t determined how; whether it will be via SxS, USB, Firewire or MemoryStick.

Lens Communication Protocols
Two communication protocols are built into the PL lens mount that will support the Cooke/I protocol, and ARRI LDS. These protocols can send metadata (T-stop, focal length, aperture, serial number) in real time. The camera will be capturing the metadata, though they can’t yet say how they are doing it; whether in a separate file or embedded in the video file.


Future updates
Sony has already announced that some features won’t be available at release, and will be enabled with future firmware updates (which will cost extra.) The first firmware update is scheduled for April and will include: Partial 3D Link support, dual link RGB, and S-Log. In September, the complete feature set for 3D Link will be released.

SD Cards
The camera records to SxS cards, but it is possible to use SD cards with an adapter; provided they are Class 10 cards.


While there are some things that remain unknown about the camera, Sony has released a few details about the camera’s performance. They claim the camera has extremely high sensitivity, incredible signal to noise, and dynamic range approaching 13 stops. In video mode it has a 63dB signal to noise ratio with no noise reduction applied and a sensitivity rating of approximately ISO 800. In S-Log mode, it can achieve the equivalent of ISO 1600.

Out of the box, the camera will record 35 Mbps 4:2:0 MPEG, while it will be possible to output 1920 x 1080 60P 4:2:2 10-bit over dual-link from the camera (with the firmware update allowing RGB recording directly from the optical block.)

The camera comes with HyperGamma (2 & 4) built-in, which extends the dynamic range of an image. The firmware update will then add support for Sony’s S-Log, which almost doubles the effective sensitivity of the camera (S-Log is a gamma curve that better captures what’s coming from the sensor.) Using S-Log requires using an editor that supports color lookup tables (LUTs) or the video will looked very washed-out (at the moment, After Effects and Apple Color support LUTs.)

One of the interesting things about the camera is how it seems to span two separate camera systems. At the beginning of the presentation, the focus was on Super 35mm sized sensors, and how the F3 is similar to the F35. Towards the end of the presentation, the F3 was described in tandem with the EX platform, on which it is built. Hopefully it won’t suffer an identity crises.

All in all, it's an intriguing camera, and while the upcoming NXCAM 35mm is more in my price range, I'm intrigued to see the reaction to the PMW-F3 when it is finally released.


Resources

Video from the event:

Peter Crithary, Marketing Manager, Production, of Sony’s Broadcast & 
Professional Solutions Division talks about the PMW-F3

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Free FxFactory Titling plug-in

Noise Industries has announced its latest FxFactory freebie plug-in pack, Manifesto. The brand new Manifesto titling plug-ins provide new and current FxFactory users with a quick and easy way to generate eye-popping titles in Apple Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express, Motion and After Effects. Manifesto comes in two variants: a static title generator and a title roll/crawl generator.

Manifesto Highlights
  • Optional Keyframing: No keyframes are required for animation. The text of choice is scrolled in and out of frame automatically based on the length of the generator track. This feature also lets users match a title roll (or crawl) to the duration of a different clip.
  • Use Existing RTF Files: Manifesto can reference an existing RTF file on disk, allowing users to rely entirely on an external program for text input and layout.
  • Built-in Motion Blurring and De-Flickering: Create high-quality animations at any frame rate with built-in motion blur and the ability to reduce interlacing artifacts.
  • Easy Masking Abilities: Use external media to determine which portions of the title are visible, or vice versa.
Availability and Pricing of Manifesto
The Manifesto titling plug-in pack is offered as a free download via the Noise Industries website.
Download: http://www.noiseindustries.com/fxfactory/manifesto/.

DSLR Video News

The DSLR Stealth Factor
Andrew Reid argues that the important thing about DSLR video cameras is their small size and stealth abilities.
DSLRs like the GH2 are pretty far from industry standards and professional A/V equipment as we know it. They are a complete break from what has become the norm at broadcasters, rental companies or film studios both large and small. As video cameras they throw the baby out with the bathwater as far as operation goes (they’re photographic cameras, after all).
Convergence: Avoiding militants and dogma – The DSLR Stealth Factor



Lighting for Video
Adorama has put together a couple of videos on using HDSLRs, hosted by Mark Wallace. The first part focuses on shooting, and the second episode covers lighting (which will apply to any kind of camera you use.)
Episode 48: HDSLR Pt.1: Shooting Video W/ a DSLR: Adorama
Episode 49: HDSLR Pt.2: Lighting for Video: Adorama Photography TV



HDSLR shot movie sold to Paramount
Like Crazy” a movie shot using the Canon 7D and just shown at the Sundance film festival has been sold to Paramount for $4 million.
planet5Dblog: Indie movie shot on Canon HDSLR “LIKE CRAZY” sold to Paramount for $4 million



Contest
Shane Hurlbut used DSLRs extensively in shooting a commercial for the Marine Corp. Now he's running a competition to pick which shot was made with which of three DSLRs or was shot with film.  Winner gets a copy of Adobe CS5 Production Premium. You have until tomorrow to enter.
We thought it would be fun to do another contest. See if you can figure out which is the 5D, 7D and 1D footage and which is the film footage above. Give us a break down shot by shot using the form below (there are 28 frames total). The most accurate entries will be named winners. First place wins Adobe CS5 Production Premium. Contest entries will be accepted up until Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 11:59pm.
 HurlbutVisuals: Marines: Where’s the 5D Contest II, “For Us All”


Rule Camera LearningLab - Zeiss Lenses Wed, 26th

Rule Boston Camera is hosting a LearningLab on Zeiss lenses (notably the cine-style compact prime 2 series lenses) this Wednesday from 10am to 12 noon. RSVP to events@rule.com.

Jan 26th - Zeiss Lenses
Richard Schleuning covers Zeiss' manual focus lenses, including the cine-style compact prime 2 series lenses as well as the ZF series lenses.

Rumor Ramblings

Canon 5D Mark II Replacement
I always love a good rumor, and there's been surprisingly few about the Canon 5D Mk II replacement, but now comes word form Canonrumors.com that - maybe - the 5D replacement will be called the 6D, have a 24 MP sensor, and appear in the first half of 2011...


The only problem is that Canon's naming scheme seems to suggest to me that the better (more expensive) cameras have the lower number i.e. the 1D>5D>7D>60D. At least, that's my understanding of how the naming scheme works.

There's no way a full-frame sensor camera with the same build quality as the 5D/7D could cost less than the 7D. So if there is a 6D with a full frame sensor, it would seemingly have to have lower build quality (and cost) than the 7D. If it was going to be a 5D replacement (with similar build quality), and they didn't want to call it the 5D Mk III, surely they'd call it the 4D?

But even the idea of renaming it doesn't make sense; unless they are completely rebranding/reshaping the camera. I'd be surprised if they abandoned the 5D label for the next rev. It's a well known name at the moment; it's almost synonymous with HDSLR video camera. Canon would be mad to abandon it.

If there is a 6D coming, I doubt it will be a replacement for the 5D.
Canonrumors.com: 5D Mark III / 6D from India

More on 3D

3D Not So Bad, Maybe
Walter Murch's comments about 3D reprinted in Roger Ebert's column have, of course, provoked a reaction. Several people have questioned whether Murch has the science right, including David Newman, CTP of CineForm. He posted a response on Ebert's original article, as well as reprinting it in CineForm's blog:
While there are issues with 3D presentation, the claim that the "convergence/focus" issue makes 3D unsolvable is false. There is an error made in the assumption that "the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen", while that is generally true for objects close to a viewer in space, it is not true for a movie screen "80 feet away."
[...]
With various ways of computing the hyper-focal range of the eye suggests that objects from around 15 feet to infinity will appear in focus. That means a 3D presentation that has objects appearing no close than 15 feet and beyond will appear in focus whether the audience is focusing at the screen plane of not -- the eye is free to convergence and focus anywhere within the volume of space projected, just as it naturally would.
I don't know enough about the subject to know who is right or wrong, though I have been to enough 3D presentations to know that there are extremes that you have to avoid because you will cause discomfort for the viewer. Having things coming too close to the viewer is one of them.
CineForm Insider: Another overstatement that 3D won't work.


The Rules of 3D Cinema
Meanwhile, Stuart Heritage at The Guardian lists the ten "3D Movie Conventions" that seem to be cropping up again and again, and creating a sameness to the 3D movie landscape.
2 Floating credits
4 Gratuitous slow motion
TheGuardian: The rules of 3D cinema



Another Sony Video - Maybe - Answers Some Questions
Sony has put together some self-generated video reports from CES. The latest one answers some viewer questions, including a couple to do with the upcoming Sony 3D Handycam HDR-TD10. Specifically they explain why, though Sony Vegas will edit 3D, it can't edit the video files created by the HDR-TD10 - yet.
See also: More On Consumer 3D Cameras

Oscar Nominations: "The King's Speech" Leads With 12 Nominations

....The Social Network got 8.

I haven't seen the latter, but I told you I thought The King's Speech was the best movie I'd seen all year!

noteOnVideo: The King's Speech


[UPDATE: Corrected number of nominations for The Social Network]

Monday, January 24, 2011

Video from the Vimeo Festival Awards

The Vimeo Festival Awards were held back in October 2010, and as part of the event there were several panel discussions. Vimeo has now posted video of these online, including:
Each of these is approximately one hour long, though they have posted 10 minute highlights for each as well



DSLR Cinema- The new dawn of filmmaking? (Highlights) from Vimeo Festival on Vimeo.

Sony SR-R1 Recorder

One of the things that Sony talked about at last weeks demo of the PMW-F3, was the upcoming SR-R1 Memory Recorder.
Sony SR-R1 Memory Recorder

The SR-R1 will record at 220Mbps and 440Mbps to solid state memory cards. The unit will support Single Link 4:2:2, two HD-SDI outputs for 4:2:2 1080/60p, 3G and Dual Link RGB at 440Mbps.

Simultaneous recording makes it possible to record two cameras at once for 3D productions

Interestingly, when Sony reps were asked why the PMW-F3 did not record at 50Mbps (at the highest quality to internal cards it records 35 Mbps in 4:2:0 8-bit XDCAM EX format) Sony's response was that it would have added too much to the cost, but that with the SR-R1 (or other similar output options) those who need that sort of quality can get what they need.

While Sony hasn't officially released information about the SR-R1, it is covered in a 12-page special report from Film And Digital Times on the PMW-F3, and the Sony reps clearly thought that the pricing of the SR-R1 would be competitive.

FilmAndDigitalTimes: Sony F3 Special Report

Note: several broadcasting organizations such as the BBC and PBS have official minimum standards for video quality, and for digital recording cameras have so far been inclined to only approve cameras that record at 50Mbps or above.
BBC: Commissioning: Producing in High-Definition

Special Report on the Sony PMW-F3

Film And Digital Times have released a 12 page special report on the PMW-F3, (Sony reps distributed copies of this report at last week's presentation of the camera.) It's available for download in PDF format.

FilmAndDigitalTimes: Sony F3 Special Report

News From Here & There

Reviews
Musician and Filmmaker Sami Sänpäkkilä reviews the D|Focus, an affordable follow-focus unit.
I feel that for me the D|Focus does the job amazingly well, it should work with most cameras and lenses out there. Also you get fast responses and good info from David who makes them, which to me is the most important thing when buying equipment.
samisanpakkila: D|Focus V2 – A superb affordable follow focus


Daniel Freytag posts a review, with video, of the budget LCDVF viewfinder. It likes the magnification, magnetic frame and the budget price, and the only problem he has with it is that the viefinder sometimes gets fogged.
Freytag-film: LCDVF – a cheap and solid Viewfinder


For a bit more money, you could look at the Letus Hawk viewfinder, reviewed on planet5D:
But after getting the updated Hawk with their new quick release, I can say that this is now my preferred quick release over the sticky frames. The design of the Hawk quick release is simple and very effective. This is a great system!
planet5d: Letus Direct’s Hawk – a review of this HDSLR viewfinder



Behind "Beyond The Still"
Neil Matsumoto at HD Video Pro takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Story Beyond The Still competition, focusing mainly on the gear used by it's winners. Some interesting details emerge:
Canon was also surprised by the level of quality. “We started to see more working professionals start to enter, which was great,” says Canon’s Rob Altman. “It took the contest in a bit of a different direction but at the end of the day, it really showed us how pros are using the gear. ..."

Perhaps the most common tool for all of the filmmakers was the Zacuto Z-Finder. “I could have definitely not shot my project without the Z-Finder,” explains Leech.

The fact that an online video contest has a presence at the biggest independent film festival in the world is sort of ironic since this might be the model that can potentially do away with film festivals altogether.

HDVIdeoPro: The Story Beyond the Still Makes Its Debut At Sundance 2011



DualEyes for Mac
The Macintosh version of DualEyes (the standalone version of the audio/video sync plugin PluralEyes) has now officially been released. DualEyes for Mac is available for US$119 until February 22, 2011, when the price will go up to US$149. A 30-day trial version is available
Singular Software: DualEyes for Mac



Editing in Not Invisible
In a short video clip, Dr Karen Pearlman, Head of Screen Studies at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School talks about editing, and takes issue with the statement that "Good editing is invisible," arguing that if we keep advocating this, we're diminishing the role of the editor.
Screenculture.netEditing is Not invisible (but it is magic)

3D News

The End of 3D?
Roger Ebert hasn't been a fan of 3D films, so it's perhaps not a surprise that he devotes much of his latest column to a letter he received from film editor Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now)
The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the "convergence/focus" issue. A couple of the other issues -- darkness and "smallness" -- are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen -- say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.

But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point.
This column has provoked a lot of comments and repostings, and some interesting comments both pro and con:
Walter Murch is a rockstar editor -- not a neurologist. I'm no fan of 3D but let's not overstate his authority here.
@DorkmanScott

Isn't Walter Murch explaining why 3D won't work like Rembrandt explaining why Abstract Expressionism won't work?
@KristerR
Chicago Sun-Times: Why 3D doesn't work and never will. Case closed




3D Makes People Sick
This article from the AP suggests that Murch is correct:
More specifically, our eyes track an approaching object by turning inward, toward our noses. Bring something close enough, and we look cross-eyed. 3D screens also elicit this response when they show something approaching the viewer.

The problem is that as the eyes turn inward, they also expect to focus closer. But a screen isn't moving closer, so the eyes have to curb their hard-wired inclination and focus back out. This mismatch between where the eyes think the focus should be and where the screen actually is forces them to work extra hard.
And while there have been isolated reports of warnings from manufacturers about the effects of watching 3D video, it seems there have been few long-term studies and little official investigation:
A study of 115 South Koreans watching 3D screens close up found that 3D caused more eyestrain than 2D. The research prompted the Korean government to recommend that viewers take a break of up to 15 minutes after an hour of 3D viewing. But that study was based on glasses with red and green lenses rather than the ones used in theaters and with TVs.

Stuff.co.nz: 3D makes people sick



The 3D Stereo Media conference
Film & Digital Times has posted a short write-up on the 3D Stereo Media conference that was held in Dec. 8-10, 2010.
Film & Digital Times: 3D Stereo Media 2010
3D Media [show website]



Panasonic AG-AF100

Panasonic releases firmware update
Panasonic released the first firmware update for the AG-AF100. It fixes the following problem with SD cards:
Software update for improvement of the SYSTEM ERROR
The system error occasionally occurred on the camera side (AG-AF100 series) when SD Card File Recovery Software on the computer which is connected to the camera by USB cable was executed with SDXC card inserted in the camera.

The SD Card File Recovery Software has been updated so that it can operate normally with the SDXC card.

This system error will not damage the SDXC card.
Panasonic: Software(Firmware) Update Data
Panasonic: Firmware updates for AG-AF100 series and Option Lenses



Firmware makes AF100 hack possible?
Vitaliy Kiselev has taken a look at the firmware release and says it shares much in common with the GH platform, making it possible he could hack the firmware to increase the recording bitrate as he did for the GH1.
EOSHD: Vitaliy Kiselev begins work on Panasonic AF100 hack



Shoulder Mounts
Peter Lundström at the editman blog shows a simple rig he adapted from a shoulder gunstyle rig for the AF100 after having trouble using it handheld.
Andy Shipsides at CineTechnica has a video showing a rig they put together for the AF100 from a variety of different sources
Finally, Hot Rod Camera's shows a simple rig they have put together, that they are using along with the Cineroid EVF
the editman: Simple shoulder mount for the AF100/101
CineTechnica: AF100 Rigging: PL Mount Configuration
HotRodCameras: AF100 and the Hot Rod Tuner Kit w/Cineroid EVF - Photos



Why Is It That...

...it's always when you're up against a deadline that you:

  • Can't find the cable
  • YouTube/Vimeo whatever is hung up processing the video
  • You only notice after it's done that there's ten minutes of black and an outtake at the end of the video
  • The DVD doesn't play because you didn't notice the project was set to PAL; just like the last project was


Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Beyond The Still" Final Film Online

With the official completion of the "Beyond The Still" competition, Vincent Laforet has posted three movies: a compilation of all 8 Chapters as one final piece, the final (8th Chapter) alone, and a behind the scenes video of the Chapter 8 shoot with all of the six winners on set. The final chapter was written by all six of the chapter winners - the first chapter was made by Vincent - starred Judd Nelson, and was directed by Vincent with DP Joe Desalvo.

Vincent Laforet: World Online Premiere of The Beyond The Still Final Collaborative Film

News From Here & There

Thoughts on Documentary Editing
Part one of a lecture Steve Audette gives on editing for documentaries. Steve has edited for Frontline and Nova since 1993.
ArtoftheGuillotine: Part One
ArtoftheGuillotine: Part Two



USB Follow Focus for Canon Cameras
The 5D Mark II blog has quite a bit of information about a wired follow-focus that connects to the USB port of Canon cameras and controls the lens focusing. They say they have been using it for a couple of months and are quite excited about it, though there's note:
It’s important to note that a USB Follow Focus doesn’t work exactly as a mechanical Follow Focus, especially due Canon’s USB implementation and since the controller is electronic and not mechanic. Both have their own limitations and advantages.

The user should read the detailed information provided by the manufacturer to understand the way this works, its possibilities, what it can and can’t do. That will be available on the official release.
But they don't then describe those differences.
5DMarkIIBlog: USB Follow Focus Controller



Tips, Tools and News
The Tao Colorist has collected together in Sunday Morning Reading, January 23 a collection of various resources including tools and upcoming events.
TaoOfColor: Sunday Morning



Sony NEX-VG10 in low light
Yannock Berthe has posted an impressive short test video shot using the Sony NEX-VG10 [$1,998.00 @B&H] and a Tamron 90mm 2.8 Macro. Gain was set to +6dB.

 
Sony NEX-VG10 First test with 90mm 2.8 Macro, Switzerland 2011 from Yannick Barthe on Vimeo.

Lots of HDSLRs at Sundance

Vincent Laforet (@vincentlaforet) tweeted the following from the Sundance Film Festival:
Running into a LOT of HDDSLR crews and filmmakers...

Total count @Sundance in past 10 minutes alone in 2 block radius: 14 5Dmkii/7Ds - 2 Nikons - 0 camcorders... All shooting vid interviews...

PluralEyes for Media Composer $119 until Feb 21

Singular Software recently introduced PluralEyes (the audio/video sync tool) for Media Composer, and as they have done in the past, there's an introductory discount; it's $119 until Feb 21st, then it goes to $149.

Singular Software: PluralEyes

Boston DSLR Meetup: Feb. 24th with Bruce Sharpe

Circle your calendar: Bruce Sharpe of Singular Software [PluralEyes and DualEyes] is scheduled to be the featured guest at the next Boston DSLR Meetup on Thursday, February 24th. [See below]

Singular Software
Boston DSLR Meetup

[UPDATED Feb  8: a BOSFCPUG + BOSDSLR mixer has now been scheduled for February 17th.
UPDATED Feb 9: Bruce Sharpe is being rescheduled to another month]