Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous
N E W - Y E A R!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

News from Here & There

Sony PMW-F3 vs Panasonic AG-AF100
Philip Bloom has received his production Panasonic AG-AF100, and has also had on loan for a week a pre-production PMW-F3. He clearly likes the PMW-F3 "This feels like a really meaty professional camera and if feels reassuringly expensive," but as he tweeted, there are other considerations:
image is definitely cleaner with F3, but AF has the 1080p 60fps overcrank and is SO much cheaper.
-Philip Bloom, Twitter
Also, check out his comparison of field-of-view for both cameras with the same lens.
PhilipBloom: Field of view comparison between the Panasonic AF-101 and Sony F3
PhilipBloom: Got a production Panasonic AF-101, hurrah and shooting with Sony F3k for first time today

Camera Sales in Japan
The 43rumors site has a chart showing the sales for DSLR cameras in Japan. The Canon EOS Kiss X4 (that's the T2i here in the states) has 13.6% of unit sales, while the 5D Mark II has just 1.6%. Does this mean anything? Probably not, though it does tell you why the 5D isn't updated as frequently as the Rebel cameras!
43rumors: Japanaese 2010 system camera sales analysis

Nikon D7000 video review
Camcorderinfo have posted a review of the Nikon D7000, focusing on it's video capabilities, and they're pleased that Nikon has finally taken a serious stab at video, but:
Even with all these updates, however, Nikon is still a step or two behind Canon and Sony as the best manufacturers of video-capable DSLR cameras. The D7000 suffered from a sloppy interface, confusing controls, and a lackluster performance in our motion test. While we do love the option for 24p and 30p recording, we wish there was an option for 60p as well.
Camcorderinfo: Nikon D7000

Split Screens in Final Cut Pro
Chris Fenwick provides a video demo of how to do split screens in Final Cut Pro. He shows a simple and a more complex way of doing it.
OneOnOne: Tutorial - FCP Split Screen Low Down

Templates for Apple Motion
If you have Apple Motion, you might want to check out the templates that MotionVFX offers. They're having a 40% off sale, and even if you don't end up buying anything, you might get some graphic ideas for your own projects!
MotionVFX: Happy New Year 40 percent OFF SALEDecember 28, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Movie Year In Review

The figures are in for the year, and Toy Story 3 was not only top at the box office, it is also the highest-grossing animated film of all time (on an adjusted basis).
It's also one of the best-reviewed movies of the year. It receives an almost perfect 99 out of 100 on Rotten Tomatoes. Disney ( DIS - news - people ) is also pushing the film for a Best Picture Oscar instead of just hoping for a Best Animated Feature win. The studio recently unveiled a clever line of "for your consideration" ads comparing Toy Story 3 to past Best Picture winners.
Forbes: The Top-Earning Movies Of 2010

But it's not all good news; while the total box office remains high for the year, total attendance has fallen (the difference made up by increased revenue from 3D movies.)
A full 8% of this year's box-office revenue, or about $850 million, came from the additional $3 to $4 a ticket that moviegoers paid to see films such as "Toy Story 3" and "Clash of the Titans" with images that appear to pop out of the screen, according to research by Lazard Capital.
"Focusing purely on headcount is nice if you don't want to accept money," said Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures. "But if money goes up while bodies go down, I'm not sure it's necessarily a bad thing."
Los Angeles Times: 3-D movie tickets keep box-office sales high as attendance falls

And if you're interested in box office - and interesting visuals - this graphic shows the relative box office for movies through the year.

CES is coming

The Consumer Electronics Show runs January 6 through 9th, and there should be something interesting announced by someone at the show. Last year Sony announced the HXR-NX5u and the HDR-AX2000 along with several consumer video cameras. It's also the time that Canon announced their updated consumer video cameras, as well as the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Neither company usually announces much pro-video gear at the show; though the HXR-NX5u is in Sony's professional range, and the EF 70-200mm is a pro-lens....which means you never can tell!

The Canon Rumors site has a 5D Mark III rumor and they also separately report that Canon will announce some kind of camera - other than the point-and-shoots and consumer video cameras - at CES, though he's not sure what. He doesn't think it's the 5D Mark III, and I suspect he's right; unless Canon is feeling pressure from the Panasonic AG-AF100, it would be unusual - and early - for them to announce the 5D Mark III at CES.

The 5D Mark III spec list at Canon Rumors is doubtful too; RAW Video support? That seems unlikely. Maybe they'll improve the codec, or maybe even add 4:2:2 support, but RAW capture poses several problems for Canon and users including; is Compact Flash the right medium for recording uncompressed video? If you want to add some sort of "RAW" support, putting the full video out the HDMI port would seem the logical way to go.

CanonRumors: 5D Mark III [CR1]

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Grittier "True Grit"

I saw the Coen Brothers version of True Grit yesterday, and enjoyed it a lot. As I suspected, it was very similar to the John Wayne movie; the same characters, the same plot, and many of the same dialog lines. There were some differences in the story, but the plot was essentially the same.

This movie seemed visually a lot richer and more detailed than the original - the locations looked more authentic and less like movie sets. Jeff Bridges was much harder to understand at points than John Wayne was, while Matt Damon's performance as LaBoeuf gave Bridges less chance to steal the entire movie. If you liked the original movie, or like westerns in general, you'll enjoy this movie.

I do have one complaint though; I found the color grading of the movie somewhat annoying; a lot of it was very washed out. The Coen's seem to like to manipulate their movies - O Brother, Where Art Thou? was the first movie digitally graded and had a very yellow look, while their movie A Serious Man was graded to look like an old 60's movie. I liked those, but found the effect in True Grit more disconcerting. I can't explain why.

I was also a little surprised that - less than four days after release - the print we saw was damaged in at least one place. I suspect the problem was in the production of the print itself, as there was some noticeable color flickering and a dark flash at one point in the movie.

Friday, December 24, 2010

News from Here & There

It's the holidays! Time for some Do-It-Yourself projects!

How to make a rockwool acoustic panel
A short how-to-video on Vimeo on making acoustic panels with rockwool and costing about 1/4 the cost of professional panels. I just wish the music in the background wasn't so in the foreground.
Vimeo: How to make a rockwool acoustic panel

How to build a dolly
"Well, I know I'm not the first to do this, but I won't be the last. What follows is my Dad and I building a skateboard dolly. It came out great. For around $100 here is what we came up with... "
mike.miller.producer: Skateboard Dolly Build

A Panasonic AG-AF101/AG-AF100 test shot
We had the opportunity to make a test shoot with Panasonics new AG-AF101 in order to see what this baby can do. We shot on a cold and snowy hamburg day in an old, dark factory with a small crew. We had about six hours of shooting and a hell of a time!

101 Images - AG-AF101 from Saubere Filme on Vimeo.

And this is an awesome little piece of video/animation:

Happy Holidays from DANIELS on Vimeo.

H A P P Y   H O L I D A Y S !

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chocolate Film

Sebastian Wiegärtner shot this corporate film for on the Canon 7D using Canon 24-70 mm 2.8 and Canon 100 mm 2.8 L IS macro lenses and the Kessler Pocket Dolly Traveller 2.0 and Manfrotto 504 HD w/ 546 GBK legs. Shot in 720p / 50fps and graded in Apple Color, with additional exposure adjustments in Magic Bullet Looks.

Looks like the holidays to me!!

Image Film Chocolate Manufacture from Sebastian Wiegärtner on Vimeo.

News from Here & There

Marshall V-LCD50-HDMI 5" Monitor Review
Michael Reichmann of The Luminous Landscape reviews the new Marshall V-LCD50-HDMI 5" Monitor:
If you're a camcorder or DSLR user shooting video you likely already know of and understand the advantages of a small HDMI monitor. The LCD50 will be found attractive because of its small size and low weight, its modest price – just over $500 at B&H – and range of attractive features.
The Luminous Landscape: Marshall V-LCD50 HDMI Monitor

Redrock Micro NANO Running Man Rig Review
Eric Koretz at The Image Hunter reviews the new light-weight Running Man rigs from Redrock:
The video definitely wouldn’t have been as stable if I didn’t have that Nano. The Running Man handheld rig is quick to build, stable when using and easy to pack away. It fills a need that is surprisingly hard to create in hand held rigs.
The Image Hunter: Redrock Micro NANO Running Man Rig
B & H: Redrock Mico Nano - RunnningMan [$439.95]

Industrial Light & Magic and Pixar in Collusion
No, that's not a new movie. It's come to light that Pixar and ILM had an agreement not to steal each others employees. They agreed to three things:
  1. No cold calling of each other’s employees. 
  2. Notification when making an offer to an employee of the other firm. 
  3. No counteroffer above the initial offer when offering a position to the other company’s employee. 
VFX Soldier: ILM Pixar Collusion Court Documents

True Grit
The Coen Brothers version of True Grit opens today. I'm a fan of the original movie, which starred John Wayne, but am also looking forward to the new version. The brothers claim that they have never seen the movie, and that theirs is based on the original book. It will be interesting to see how the new movie compares; the trailer for the movie has scenes so similar to the original, it almost looks like a remake.
You can read an interview with the brothers;
Deadline New York: OSCAR: Joel And Ethan Coen Q&A On 'True Grit'

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Panasonic GH2 Shipping In America?

Amazon says the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 [$998.19] is temporarily out of stock, but Engadget reckons that some are turning up in the hands of lucky buyers...
Engadget: Panasonic's Lumix GH2 now shipping in America

News from Here & There

How to Speed up rendering in Final Cut Pro
In Red Giant QuickTip 26:, Apple Certified Master Trainer, Simon Walker, shows you how to speed up rendering on the Final Cut Pro timeline.
RedGiantSoftware:  Red Giant QuickTip 26: Faster Rendering in Final Cut Pro

Comparing the Sony PMW-F3 to the Canon 5D Mark II
Fxguide has some video that compares these two cameras, and demonstrates that the F3 has less rolling shutter, and doesn't have the artifacts you can get from the 5D because of it's line-skipping algorithm (the 5D has to go from the high-resolution sensor image down to a 1920 x 1080 image very quickly, so it uses a fairly crude algorithm to do it. This can cause moire patterns in fine details.)

Some commentors think that the cameras shouldn't be compared because they aren't in the same price range, but that's wrong; independent and some big-studio filmmakers are using the 5D Mark II (just see Canon's recent television add) and the F3 is going after that market.
FXGuide: F3 vs. 5D Mark II

Jag35 Electronic Follow Focus
An electronic follow focus for ~$500? Available in the spring of 2011? We shall see....
Jag35: Electronic Follow Focus

Building the Mac Edit Room
The Digital Filmmakers Podcast has an interview with Ned Soltz that discusses specific hardware and software options to build a system for Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer and Adobe CS5. From capture cards to monitors to storage systems, they cover the good, the bad and the ugly. NewMediaWebinars: Digital Filmmakers Podcast Episode #33

Does 120 million hits on YouTube = money?
The band OK Go has received a lot of exposure on the net with their unique and imaginative music videos, but does that success actually translate into a successful recording career? And does that even matter? Lead singer Damian Kulash recently wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal about his band's philosophy:
For most people, the obvious question is: Has this helped sell records? The quick answer is yes. We've sold more than 600,000 records over the last decade. But the more relevant answer is that doesn't really matter. A half a million records is nothing to shake a stick at, but it's the online statistics that set the tone of our business and, ultimately, the size of our income.
Not everyone is buying it. Darren Robbins at The Zeitgeisty Report thinks Kulash is "one of the more delusional self-appointed champions of indie rock," and points out that OK Go parted ways with their label (EMI) partly because they weren't making enough sales.
In truth, as “The Blue Man Group Of Rock & Roll”, OK Go’s genius lies in their realization that being in a band these days has little to do with music. Devise one visually stunning video or event after another, keep your name in the press, and you can continue to find corporations willing to pay you for appropriating whatever hipster cache they believe you might have.

It’s “The Great Rock & Roll Swindle” all over again, albeit this time minus the music.
He also thinks that OK Go owes much of it's success to EMI's early support, though I think they owe it to the success of their treadmill video; and I don't know how involved EMI was in that...

But the real point is; if you have an audience, and are making money from corporate sponsors, what's the problem? If OK Go is a video band, rather than a music band, who cares? The real question is; is this a model others can follow, or can there only be one OK Go?
Wall Street Journal: The New Rock-Star Paradigm  
The Zeitgeisty Report: OK Go singer Damian Kulash on the future of the music business

Everything's bigger in Kansas
Did you know that the largest IMAX digital screen in the country is in Wichita Kansas? Me neither, but it just opened last Friday. Be careful to heed this warning:
There is a potential for getting sick during an IMAX movie. "It happens on some of our screens when the picture is in your whole field of view," said Dan Gray, vice president for operations. But it depends on the person and the movie, and maybe only a couple of scenes from a particular movie.
Wichita Eagle: West-side IMAX opens today with 'Tron'

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Color Grading Tips

I previously mentioned that Aaron Williams has been tweeting color grading tips. Clearly the effort aroused some attention, as he is now blogging the tips with more detail (and graphics)

The latest tip concerns using RGB Parade to make simple color adjustments.

Amazon Deal-of-the-Day on Roku XDS Streaming Player

Amazon's Deal-of-the-Day today is $20 off the Roku XDS Streaming Player. $79.99

Roku allows you to instantly stream tons of entertainment on your TV. Watch over 100,000 movies and TV shows from Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, Hulu Plus and more. Listen to music on Pandora, or listen to your own iTunes playlists. Watch major sports, news, or original Internet programming.

Amazon: Deal of the Day

A cool little "making of" video

Stillmotion Photo + Cinema was hired by Canon Canada to make an advertisement about a new service they are offering where they will turn a photo into an oil painting (using real oils and real artists!) Interesting.

But what I found particularly interesting is the making-of-video. I actually like it better than the commercial!
...we wanted to bring the viewer into the scene where they are hammering on the deck but to do that we had to get very low to the ground where the action was. one of the things i like most about the cinevate atlas30 is the ability to shoot underslung. we actually removed the legs and just rested the end blocks on apple boxes so that we can quickly go between standard and underslung mode throughout both shoot days.
There's a blog post explaining how the project was planned and shot, working with a slider, etc. There's some nice shots in there...

canon artworks behind the scenes from stillmotion on Vimeo.

Stillmotion blog: Artworks By Canon

Apple to shut down download site.... comes the Mac Apple Store.

It's been reported that the Final Cut Pro download site will close on January 6th...that's the same day that the Mac Apple Store opens, so I don't think you can take that as an indication that Apple is abandoning Final Cut!

Monday, December 20, 2010

FXFactory Update 2.5.3, plus PHYX Stylist

Noise Industries has released a free update to FxFactory, 2.5.3. This update adds two new effects; an Analog TV filter which adds scan lines, distortion and the curve of an analog tube TV to footage, while the Channel Switch transition emulates a channel switch on an analog TV.

PHYX Stylist is a new set of filter effects that includes Skin Light (for adjusting skin tones) as well as Fog Generator, Cathode Ray (emulates night vision, old or damaged televisions and electronic rifle scopes), Haze Removal and Sparkle Star (photographic star filter)

All work with After Effects, Final Cut, Final Cut Express and Motion.

Video demos: Analog TV, Channel Switch & PHYX Stylist.
Noise Industries

News from Here & There

Creative COW DSLR Video Podcast
Richard Harrington and Robbie Carman have started a podcast on DSLR Video. You can download it from iTunes.
CreativeCow: Creative COW DSLR Video Podcast

DSLRs for Digital Cinema
DP, effects cinematographer and VFX supervisor Dave Stump talks about how he thinks HDSLRs fit into the film cinemtographers toolkit. He's neither totally for or against them, seeing both the advantages and disadvantages:
It obeys a really old axiom, that when the only tool you own is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you know only one kind of camera, then every job you do looks like a job for that camera. But ultimately, what we learned from CAS is that every camera has its strengths and weaknesses. If you let the job tell you which camera to use, rather than just your knowledge of only one camera, then you are ultimately doing the greatest service to your producer.
Creative COW: DSLRs for Digital Cinema: Their Potential, Your Responsibility

Diana Lens for your HDSLR
Photojojo has a $60 Diana Lens for your camera:
It's a lovely plastic lens that transforms your beloved hunk of metal and glass into a digital toy camera. Yesiree you can now get that lovable Lo-fi "technology" on your digi cam from Lomography's series of Diana plastic cameras.
Photojojo: The Dreamy Diana Lens

Amazon Cloudfront
I hadn't even heard of Amazon's service for commercial distribution of online video, but this article explains why you might want to consider it.
Chruchcrunch: 6 Reasons You Should Use Amazon CloudFront for Your Videos

Canon XF100 Test/Review
Slashcam has some test results and a review of the Canon XF100 (which should be out soon)
Slashcam: XF100

The 12 Hours of Editing:
On the twelfth hour of editing, my client brought to me:

12 Different versions
11 Logo updates
10 Tapes of B-roll
JoyOfFilmEditing: With 12 days left until Xmas, here are the 12 hours of editing

Philip Bloom Short Film Competition - What This Year Has Meant To You

Philip Bloom has run a few short movie challenges over the last few months, and now he has an end-of-year competition that even has some prizes.

You have until December 31st to produce a video no longer than 5 minutes that reflects what this year has meant to you.

More Details: The biggest and best “weekend/ holiday challenge” so far…PRIZES TOO!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

DualEyes Beta Available For Mac

Singular Software has launched the DualEyes for OS X public beta program. Winner of TV Technology's 2010 Mario Award for its breakthrough technology, DualEyes is a standalone application for the automatic synchronization of video and audio clips in dual-system audio production. Designed to work alongside any video editing application, DualEyes is streamlined to accomplish the task of replacing in-camera scratch audio with separately recorded high-quality audio.

The DualEyes for OS X public beta program is available for Mac OS X 10.5 and later, and can be downloaded here:

My review of the PC version can be found here: DualEyes for Windows

Friday, December 17, 2010

VideoQ&A: Changing the Sequence settings in Final Cut

Here's a follow on from the question earlier in the week dealing with Flip footage that was in a Final Cut Express sequence set to DV-NTSC 32 kHz Anamorphic (I suggested he change the sequence to Apple Intermediate Codec 720p 30)...

I didn't know I could change existing sequence settings - huge revelation! Thank you. So I changed the settings to Apple Intermediate Codec 720p 30. Then my sequence, which had the video filling the frame, changed to look like this:

So you can imagine I'm like, "Whu?" Maybe a different setting? Or...?

A test export looks great, and is 1280 x 720! But I can't afford to start from scratch at this point. Recommendations?
I'm not sure if there's a quick way to change it (i.e. change everything with a click of a button.) I feel like someone once told me about doing that, but I can't remember how; though it might have been in Final Cut Pro!

The slightly easy way to do it is this in the sequence;
  • double-click the clip to select it
  • Click the Motion tab in the Viewer window
  • Under Basic Motion item (click gray arrow to expand), look at Scale. Ideally, it should be at 100. If it's not, click the red x button that's under "Nav" across from the Basic Motion title, the settings for that should now be reset to 100
  • Under the Distort item, Aspect Ratio should be 0. If it is not, click the red x button across from Distort to clear it.

Reset button

The clip should now fill the screen in the Canvas, though note that if you are also using clips that aren't 1280 x 720, those won't fill the screen, and you'll have to Scale them up to do so.

Go to next clip in the timeline and rinse/repeat

This should let you scale all your clips up to the correct size without having to re-cut or re-add transitions.

Daily Color Tips

Aaron Williams, DI colorist, filmmaker, drummer and self-described "all around nerd" [as if drummer wasn't bad enough] says that "in order to be useful for once on Twitter" he plans to post daily tips on colorizing of the things he's learned over the years. Some examples:
1: Order of Operations 1. Match shots within scenes 2. Create your look 3. Use windows to fix specific problems & distractions. Stick with that order and you'll never leave a time limited session with an unfinished product/unhappy client
2: *always* watch the footage all the way through before coloring. then your looks will fit & change w/the mood of the film. You'll also be able to grade faster since you know what's coming up & will already know the problem shots/scenes
Follow Aaron at: @videoaaron
Home Page:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

PHYX Color

I've been playing with color correction in Final Cut Pro using the Three-Way Color Corrector for some time now, and though I'm getting better at tweaking things the way I want them to be, I still have a long way to go to get really good at it. And never mind Apple Color...

Which makes the idea of a preset bunch of color correcting filters somewhat appealing. Phyxware has released the color filter set PHYXware Color, which runs within Noise Industries FxFactory (FxFactory is both a collection of video filters, as well as a filter engine that other developers can develop and sell their own filters for.)

PHYXware Color consists of five filters: BleachBypass, Glow Dark, Selective Saturation, Shift Suppress and Techni2strip. The first two provide a wide range of general image manipulation, while Selective Saturation and Shift Suppression adjust a specific color range within the image. The Techni2strip film simulates the Technicolor 2-strip process first introduced as the Technicolor System 1 Additive Color Projection in 1917, Technicolor was used for films such as ‘Gone With the Wind’, ‘Ben-Hur’, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and‘The Wizard of Oz’.

Selective Suppression and Shift Suppression, used in small amounts, can manipulate the color balance of  the image. I think the trick here - like all color correction - is too work in small amounts.

In truth, the filters I was really drawn to are BleachBypass and Glow Dark. These ones sort of encourage you to go a bit crazy with the different settings. I particularly like the somewhat painterly texture that the Glow Dark filter can add to your image. Techni2strip will probably be most useful for special effects/projects.

Settings for BleachBypass

Manipulation of the filters is reasonably easy, since you're mostly working with sliders to adjust parameters. There's only two to five parameters to adjust, though even those can offer a lot of variables. I particularly like their online help; each filter has it's own help page which shows both what the filter does in general terms, and explains each of the parameters.

Help for BleachBypass

The parameters for each of the filters is listed below.

  • Saturation
  • Gamma
  • Bleach High - Controls the 'high clip' of the Bleach process. Lower this value to crush highlights.
  • Bleach Low - Raise this value to crush dark areas.
  • Bleach Lift - Raise this value to boost the processed image brightness
Glow Dark
  • Dark Glow - Control the size of the darkness to glow. Increase this value to increase the size of area effected by the glow.
  • Glow Size - Control the size of the glow in pixels. Increase this value for larger glow.
  • Glow Amount - Control the amount of Glow Dark applied to the effected image.
Selective Saturation
  • Sample Color - choose the color to sample (using an ink dropper, or color picker dialog)
  • Saturation
Shift Suppress
  • Presaturation - Control the amount of saturation pre-shift/suppress.
  • Color - choose the color to shift or suppress (using an ink dropper, or color picker dialog)
  • Method - [Shift] to shift the color toward the color selected above, or [Suppress] to suppress or remove the color selected above.
  • Amount
  • Method - [Method A] more accurate method of simulating the two-strip additive process, or [Method B] a similar effect, through less authentic.
  • Blue Shift - (Method A only) Controls the amount of 'blue shift', used to recreate the blue channel missing from the two-strip process.
  • Amount

Sample clip with filters

PHYX Color costs $99 and a free trial is included in FxFactory 2.5 (which can also be downloaded and used in trial mode.) At the moment they are offering a 10% discount on PHYX Color.

Phyxware: PHYX Color
Noise Industries: FxFactory

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

60D Firmware 1.0.8

Fixes a phenomenon in which captured images may become overexposed when using the camera’s built-in flash or an external Speedlite in combination with the lenses listed below:
  • EF300/4 L IS USM
  • EF28-135/3.5-5.6 IS USM
  • EF75-300/4-5.6 IS USM
  • EF100-400/4.5-5.6 L IS USM
Canon: Download page

2010: Year in Rewind

2010 was an exciting and interesting year. The year where HDSLR's went from strange oddities to acceptance in television and film work. We saw many firsts, including the first TV episode shot on an HDSLR, the first consumer 3D video cameras, and the first iPads. Not all the action was in the budget and consumer end of things, with the arrival of products like the ARRI Alexa, Zeiss CP.2 lenses, and AutoDesk Smoke.

But it wasn't all clear sailing for manufactures, with RED having problems trying to keep ahead of increasing competition, while several manufactures - Redrock and Tiffen to name two - announced products and then seemed unable to ship them.

The consumer electronics industry wanted this to be the year of 3D, but it truly was the year of HDSLR video. And now with Panasonic and Sony poised to release new large sensor video cameras, we may be in for even more changes.

An amazing year. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Sony adds support for SD cards to their consumer video and still cameras; the world still spins on it's axis
  • Sony says goodbye to HDV and reveals new pro HXR-NX5u and semi-pro HDR-AX2000 videocameras recording to AVCHD
  • 3D is big, big, big at CES!
  • Tiffen announces a Steadicam for the iPhone and Flip; the Steadicam Smoothee! But the end of the year arrives and there's still no sign of it
  • Adobe starts talking about the cool new features to come in Premiere CS5, especially the Mercury Playback Engine


  • If Sony can support SD cards, then Canon can go ahead and do something mind blowing too; a firmware update for the 5D III to support 24fps. Many people are stunned
  • OK Go does another amazing video
  • Panasonic announces the G2
  • 9 out of the 10 documentary features at the Oscars are edited on Final Cut Studio
  • Canon rolls out the Final Cut Pro EOS plugin for importing Canon HDSLR content into Final Cut
  • With interest in DSLR's in film and video gaining steam, books and training classes start to appear: From Still to Motion released
  • Zacuto puts together an impressive comparison of HDLSRs to film cameras in the web series: The Great Camera Shootout

  • Apple rolls out the iPad
  • The 3D backlash begins when Crash of the Titans turns out not to be Avatar II
  • Canon says good bye to HDV and announces their own 3-chip video cameras,  XF300 and 305 which record 4:2:2 video, though they cost quite a bit
  • After months of leaks, hints and previews, Adobe Creative Suite 5 is officially pre-announced
  • The end-of-season episode of House is shot on the Canon 5D
  • Steve Jobs says the next version of Final Cut Pro will be awesome
  • PluralEyes for Adobe Premiere announced


  • Small portable digital recorders get smaller and cheaper when Zoom announces the Zoom H1
  • Apple releases iMovie for iPhone: Unlike the iWork Suite for iPad, it's shockingly underwhelming
  • For those looking to sync audio to video but don't have an editing app that supports PluralEyes, DualEyes is announced.
  • I do a car review
  • Boston SuperMeet is held, Rodney Charters speaks.





  • With the expected shipping of the Panasonic AG-AF100 just a month away, Sony rolls out its own professional large-sensor camera, the PMW-F3
  • And for those on a budget, they also announce the NXCAM 35mm, though no firm details or price yet
  • Final Cut users get restless, and start thinking of Premiere Pro.
  • Amazon rolls out Amazon Studios to mixed-reviews
And that's just some of the highlights!!
Let's all take a breath over the holidays to absorb it all. And then on to 2011!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

VideoQ&A: Burning Flip video to DVD

A recent question arrived about how to burn video captured on a Flip to a DVD. You'd think it would be pretty straight forward, but...

Earlier this year I got a Flip. I tend to use it for family videos. I'll take bits of footage and edit it together in Final Cut Express, and then export little 400 x 225 movies via the QuickTime Conversion / MPEG-4 export option (H.264). Then I email those mp4 files to grandparents, etc. The files are nice and small, look good, and everyone (Mac and PC users) can see them - works out great!

So my problem: It's the time of year where I make DVDs to give to family members. In the past, it's been 640 x 480 video and I've used iMovie and there have been no problems. This year I'll be exporting 1280 x 720 sequences, via Final Cut Express. I'm wondering if you can recommend a formula for exporting from Final Cut Express so the video will look good on DVD? I've been trying Quicktime Conversion / MPEG-4 / H.264 and, even with the data rate jacked up pretty high, the footage looks crunchy compared to the source files.

When I make DVDs from HD material, this is what I do:

If editing in Final Cut Express, I go to File>Export>QuickTIme Movie... to export the edited movie. This saves it in the same format as the Sequence you've created; it doesn't recompress it to the MPEG2 format that will appear on the DVD; I leave the MPEG2 compression to iDVD.

The output movie probably has the same/similar settings as the Flip Movies. You can open it in QuickTime player just to check that it's what you think it is i.e. 1280 x 960.

If using iDVD, go to Preferences, and choose Encoding: Professional Quality. Go to File>New Project and then in the New Project dialog, choose Widescreen (16:9), since your video is HD. Add your video(s) and then burn a DVD. iDVD will/should create a video that is in 16:9 format and should look pretty good.

Make sure you test the DVD on a Television; its not going to look as good on your computer as the HD source files do, but it should look pretty good on a TV.

The follow-up revealed that I'd assumed something; it turned out the movie was being edited using the wrong settings...
I do have more questions, if that's okay. 

1) I exported a sequence via File> Export.> QuickTime Movie. The default application to open the file is Final Cut Express- when I do that it displays the video in 16:9. But when I open it in QuickTime Player the image is squished. Does this mean anything, or will it look okay on the DVD end? (I'll be using Adobe Encore by the way, if that matters.)

2) Going to "Get Info," I see that the exported video is 720 x 480. Guess that explains the squish. So, my settings in Final Cut Express are probably to blame? I've been using DV-NTSC 32 kHz Anamorphic, via Easy Setup. Should I be using a different setting, given the Flip footage is 1280 x 720 size?

3) And, if so, how does one easily move edited sequences from one setting to another?
Personally, I wouldn't use the DV-NTSC 32 kHz Anamorphic format with the Flip video, even though your final video is going to an NTSC DVD. I'd probably try the Apple Intermediate Codec 720p 30 setting. That's if you're sure your video is 720p (1270 x 720).

Then, export to a QuickTime movie and it should not be stretched when played in the QuickTime Player. (The opening by default of the QuickTime file in Final Cut Express rather than the player, while annoying, is expected behavior.)

Re; whether DV-NTSC Anamorphic would look okay on the DVD; the answer is "maybe"....while it's true you do want the video to end up compressed anamorphically on the DVD as that will give you the best image quality for widescreen material, the DVD uses MPEG2 not DV, so it still have to be recompressed to MPEG2. I'm assuming Encore will handle that for you, but you should give it the best source material you can. Note that DV is a different compressor to MPEG2 that in some situations does not produce as high a quality as MPEG2 (which is why I wouldn't use it as an intermediate compression format.)

Now, I don't use Encore, so I don't know what it wants or can handle. It may be that you have to export to something like DV-NTSC Anamorphic to give it a file that it will accept, though I doubt it. iDVD will accept any QuickTime file, so I just give it the HD file on the theory that it will produce the best result from that. Admittedly, there may be better MPEG2 compressors out there, but I've been happy with the results I'm getting.

I would recommend doing a quick test disc with a short video segment; create a New Sequence, or change the existing one (by going to Sequence>Settings... and choosing the Load Sequence Preset... button) to Apple Intermediate Codec 720p 30 in Final Cut Express. Export the file as a QuickTime movie, then put it and the DV-NTSC Anamorphic file into Encore as separate movies on the same disc, burn the disc and then play it on a TV and see what you get. If there's no visible difference, then stick with the settings you are currently using!

Let me know what happens!

Final Cut Pro vs. Adobe Premiere Pro: Round 3

In the early rounds it looked like Adobe Premiere CS5 had scored a knock-out blow with it's ability to easily edit H.264 files without need for transcoding. Though you can edit H.264 files from DSLRs in Final Cut without transcoding to ProRes first, it can get tedious as the program constantly wants to Render the content before playing.

I admit to being biased; as a long time Premiere user who switched to Final Cut when Adobe stopped Mac support a few years back, I've been loath to jump back, but I kept hearing these good things about Premiere CS5.

Another important detail; I'd heard some time ago people saying that you shouldn't edit natively in Final Cut because of issues with decompression/recompression, and I had wondered whether Premiere had any of the same problems. But when I didn't hear anyone mention it, I assumed not...

So at the risk of being too easily lead by my own prejudices, I am intrigued by this article from Paul Joy where he tries exporting a video from Final Cut and Premiere, and then compares the results. Paul started with the thesis mentioned by many Premiere supporters that "recompression always makes it worse; therefore Premiere must do a better job," but what he found was that the results he got were better from Final Cut.

Let the battle continue...

Paul Joy: HDSLR Encoding Wars – Premiere Pro vs Final Cut Pro

Panasonic GH2 Preorders @ Amazon

You can pre-order it with the 14-42mm lens for $998.19, but no firm delivery date: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 16.05 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-inch Free-Angle Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Hybrid Lens (Black)

RED GIANT one day "Secret Sale"

Red Giant Software is having a one day 40% off Secret Sale today, and you can get the discount prices at AV3 Software (this site is an AV3 affiliate.) Sale is today only.

AV3 Software: Red Giant Software 40% off

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ben Brownlee Webinar on FxFactory Plug-In Technology with Final Cut & After Effects

Noise Industries and present a 90-minute FREE webinar on FxFactory plug-ins tomorrow, Tuesday, December 14th at 10:00 AM PST

Hosted by VFX artist and guru Ben Brownlee, attendees will be guided through the more than 160 visual effects plug-ins of FxFactory Pro, from motion tracking, to creating 3D splines, stunning lighting effects, unique 3D filters and transitions, and more.

Tune-in live on Tuesday, December 14th at 10:00 AM PST to to catch the free FxFactory plug-ins webinar. The webinar will be placed on-demand shortly thereafter, free to all viewers. NOTE: two attendees will win a full copy of the Noise Industries FxFactory Pro application.

Tiffen Smoothee

The Tiffen Smoothee, the Steadicam for iPhone's and Flip cameras, is still not available, though a recent email from Tiffen says that "The first Steadicam Smoothee unit will be available for the Apple 3Gs iPHONE camera very shortly. Really!"

The Smoothee will cost $199.95, which includes the Smoothee, Camera Mount Device, Carry Bag and Quick Start Guide. In January they will have the Smoothee for the iPhone4, new iTouch and Flip Mino. The mount is interchangeable, and according to Tiffen will be available separately for $24.95 (so you could use your iPhone and your Flip with the same Smoothee.)

You can sign up to be notified when it's available at this page: Tiffen: Reservation For Steadicam Smoothee

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sony PMX-F3 Videos

Hands on with the PMW-F3

Shot with the new Sony F3, Sony 35,50,85 mm lenses, Cooke S4 21,50,100 lenses

Models - Sony F3 from Nigel Akam on Vimeo.

From Sony, shot with the PMW-F3

Panasonic AG-AF100 Brochure

Panasonic has released a 16-page PDF brochure on the upcoming AG-AF100:
PanasonicPanasonic AG-AF100 PDF

Friday, December 10, 2010

Boston DSLR Meetup Report

Last night was the latest Boston DSLR Meetup at E.P. Levine in Waltham. A capacity crowd turned up and filled the studio to hear Rich Harrington, a video editor, producer and co-author of multiple books, including From Still to Motion [Amazon $31.49].

I've seen Rich speak before, and he certainly believes in packing in the information. I suspect he drinks three or four cups of coffee before he begins, and once he starts, he doesn't stop - and only takes questions in 30 second breaks along the way.

Pizza and socializing before the meeting starts

He's a man of strong opinions too, quite happy to tell people when they are wrong. Noting the variety of people in the audience - from still photographers to videographers, producers and editors - and the need to cover many different topics, he suggested that if you found yourself bored during the talk, just wait two minutes.

Rich Harrington getting ready while Dan Bérubé stands in for the screen

There was a lot of equipment and theory covered, but I was intrigued with his focus on the importance of pre-production planning. He said that too often the focus is on the production phase, when in fact better pre-production planning will save time, money, and produce better shots. He recommends going out and shooting stills of locations, planning your lighting, and he even recommended some iPhone apps for working out where the sun will be when you shoot!

He also is a strong supporter of editing natively, and said that if you're not using either Media Composer 5, Premiere Pro 5, or Vegas Pro, then please leave your wallet on the table for him, as you clearly don't care about money...interestingly, he does still use Apple Color for final color correction.

The meeting concluded with some showings of movies made by attendees. Unfortunately, I had another appointment and couldn't stay for all of that.

Definitely a great meeting, and it will be interesting to see what's in store for the coming year!

Dan Bérubé getting the movies ready

Boston DSLR Meetup Group

Thursday, December 09, 2010

News from Here & There

Iris adapter for Canon lenses on 4/3rds mount
Thinking of getting a Panasonic GH2 or a Panasonic AG-AF100, but already have Canon EF lenses? A mount from Kipon in Hong Kong provides a manual 14-blade iris (there's also a US manufacturer developing an adapter for Canon to the 4/3 mount, but there's no information available about it yet.)
EOSHD: Canon-Micro 4/3rds lens adapter with mechanical aperture control

Large Sensor Cameras
High Definition magazine features an article about the new large sensor cameras from Panasonic and Sony (you can read it in a flashy online viewer.)
HighDefinition: Digital Issue 45

Createasphere Webcasts
Createasphere has a series of webcasts coming up featuring creative teams from the TV series GLEE, Dexter and Boardwalk Empire discussing the challenges they face.
Createasphere: The Best of TV Webcasts

Canon 7D used to shoot Community stop-motion episode
NBC used a 7D for an upcoming Christmas episode of “Community”. Broadcast tonight, Thursday, Dec. 9th, 2010, they’ve gone old school and done a Rudolph-esque claymation epsiode. You can see a behind-the-scenes video at PetaPixel.
PetaPixel: Canon 7D Used to Shoot Stop-Motion Episode of NBC’s “Community”

[UPDATE] Fixed link to High Definition Magazine

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Arri Alexa presentation @ Rule Camera, Dec 15

Learning Lab Series December 15, 2010

Arri’s Alexa: Compact and Affordable Digital (35mm Film-Style) Camera
December 15, 2010 Join Arri’s Technical Sales Rep, Guenter Noesner, for an inside look at the new Alexa – an affordable alternative to film with superior image quality, portability, direct-to-edit workflows and much more. RSVP to:

10am to 12noon December 15, 2010 Rule: Events Page

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

News from Here & There

Sony PMW-F3 Target Release Date
Sony hopes to release the PMW-F3 on Feb 1st. "Pre-orders will have priority"

Zeiss CP2 Review
Matthew Duclos got his hands on a set of Zeiss CP.2 lenses, and he thinks they are worth the wait. These lenses have very similar optics to the ZF (ZE Canon) series, but the focus throw is extended to about 300 degrees, there's an interchangeable mount, and they have uniform housing dimensions.
But if you're on a budget, and the $3,900 (or more) price is too much, consider getting a ZF lens instead...
MatthewDuclos: Zeiss CP.2 Arrives, Worth The Wait?
B & H: Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 28mm/T2.1 Cine Lens (EF Mount) [$3,900]
B & H: Zeiss 28mm f/2.0 Distagon T* Lens with ZE Mount for Canon EF Mount SLRs [$1,283]

Webcast: Shane Hurlbut, ASC and Jacob Rosenberg discuss how their movie Act of Valor was shot using Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR cameras
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 12:00 PM EST

Due to its small, unintimidating footprint and excellent photography in low light, DSLR cameras are finding their way on movie sets everywhere. In this free seminar, Shane Hurlbut, ASC and Jacob Rosenberg discuss how their movie Act of Valor was shot using Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR cameras and how Adobe Premiere Pro was used on set to natively edit the DSLR files in real time. They will explain the workflow they used to edit the film and how Adobe helped knock down roadblocks in post-production.
Produced by Videography and sponsored by Adobe.
Registration: How DSLR Cameras and Adobe Premiere Pro Help Movies Get made

Art of the Pitch, February 12

The Filmmakers Collaborative is offering a workshop on film pitching this February 12th from 9:30 am - 12:20 noon at the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston MA.

Sonia Feigenbaum – Program Officer, National Endowment for the Humanities
Beth Hoppe – Executive Producer, “Frontier House” (PBS); “Curiosity” (Discovery Channel)
Joseph Tovares – Senior Vice President, Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Julian Hobbs – Executive Producer, History Channel

Pitching your film project effectively is one of the most important elements in helping with outreach, collaboration and fundraising. Join us for this exciting pitch panel with selected experts, who will help deconstruct your pitch and teach you how to be successful in pitching your film projects. If you would like to pitch your film or work in progress, please submit a short description of the project and a link to a video sample to jen[at] by Friday January 14th.

$40 regular registration
$35 FC members Art of the Pitch

Boston DSLR Meetup: Dec. 9th with Rich Harrington

When: Thursday, December 9, 2010 6:30 PM
Where: EP Levine, 219 Bear Hill Road, Waltham, MA 02451

Network & socialize with fellow DSLR filmmakers for our Holiday gathering of the Boston DSLR Meetup and Boston Final Cut Pro User Group! Plan to have a great time to screen your shorts and meet some great DSLR shooters, filmmakers and digital storytellers and talk about movie making!

And, for December, we will begin our mission goal to get members involved to collaborate together in crews to start a project - Stay Tuned for updated details!

DSLR Workflows – From Pre-Production to Post
Richard Harrington, Rhed Pixel
Join Richard Harrington, a Director and Editor as he shares practical workflows for DSLR projects. Learn essential planning techniques including planning for storage, synchronization, and gear selection. Rich will also demystify post production with a particular emphasis on native editing. Learn how to transcode less and edit faster (no matter which NLE you choose).

Rich will share thoughts on a modern post workflow including new storage and archival options using Drobo. Rich is the co-author of "From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR (Voices That Matter)" as well as numerous other books that have shaped the video industry like "Photoshop for Video," "Video Made on a Mac," and "Final Cut Studio On the Spot."

Mark Schubin @ The Boston Quality Workshop

A few weeks ago I attended the Public Television Quality Group's Boston Workshop. This two day event covered everything from shooting and editing to delivering the program to PBS. But you didn't have to be a PBS producer to get something out of this experience.

Emmy award winning SMPTE Fellow Mark Schubin started off the event with a presentation entitled: Things You Can and Can't Fix in Post. Beginning with the statement: You can fix anything in post only if you have enough time and money, Mark covered a wide range of topics from lenses to lighting.

He demoed using a polarizing filter to cut reflections, he pointed out that it’s not always a good idea to do filtering during production since most optical filtering can be closely emulated by digital filtering - and he stressed the fact that it's the camera operator that's the most important function in the equation.

Here's some of the themes of the talk:
Acquisition starts the chain and affects everything that follows. If you want to get the greatest improvement in what you’re doing, and you don’t currently have a lighting director, hire a lighting director.
[image quality] is affected more by operator actions than by camera characteristics, and sharpness is affected by contrast as well as resolution. A really good operator with a really bad camera is going to do a much better job than a really bad operator with the world’s best camera.
Lighting is not just adding light; sometimes it’s subtracting light
Aperture significantly impacts the sharpness of the picture. We get less sharp as we go to smaller apertures; that’s caused by diffraction. And we get less sharp as we go to wider apertures; that’s caused by the lens aberrations.
How do you get to the sharpest sweet spot? You can add or subtract lighting, you can change the gain of the camera, you can go to negative gain on certain cameras if you have too much lighting, You can use the shutter, again if you have too much lighting, that also reduces motion blur but that’s not necessarily so good because it can introduce motion judder. And you can use neutral density filtering, but one of the things you have to watch out for is possible glass flaws...
There are different types of resolution:
  • There’s temporal resolution, which is frames per second
  • Spatial resolution; resolution across the picture
  • Dynamic resolution: things that are moving and Static resolution, which is what people typically measure
  • Chroma resolution, or resolution in color, and luma resolution, which is resolution in black and white
  • Non-dimensional resolution; limes and pixels
  • And then there’s linear resolution, you may be familiar from computer stuff; dots per inch, if you for photography you may be familiar with line pairs per millimeter
Sharpness and things that end in -ness - sharpness, brightness - those are things that people perceive. They are subjective functions They are not objective functions. Resolution is something you can measure.
Sharpness is tremendously dependent upon the amount of contrast that you are getting.
When you buy a camera that has a 2/3” imager […] absolutely nothing in the camera is 2/3” The reason that we call it that is that back in the old days when we had tubes, and the tubes were round, we measured the tubes by the outside diameter, so in a 2/3” tube, the tube was 2/3 of an inch around, that’s 17mm, but the target area on the tube was only 11mm […] which is less than 1/2 inch.
Going to a smaller lens format means you need a better lens.
To sum up: Acquisition affects everything that follows, so problems should be fixed there. Operator actions effect picture more than most camera characteristics Sharpness is affected by contrast as well as resolution And contrast is affected by diffraction and lenses.

At the end he was asked about the PBS Technical Operating Specifications, which require submitted HD material be from three-chip camera, not from a single-sensor camera. Since he'd mentioned single-sensor cameras in his talk, he was asked if they should seek a waver, ignore the TOS, or does Mark Schubin have some special privileges? His reply:
I as Mark Schubin don’t have special privileges and everything that I’m involved in is three chip. I am not doing any single-chip stuff for PBS. As for the other stuff, I would refer you to the TOS session and maybe you can raise that, and I think it’s a good point to be raised... and on the QT, they probably can’t tell. So I’d say if you’ve shot single sensor, you don’t have to tell them

Mark Schubin: Schubin Cafe
Workshop MaterialBoston Conference Archive
PBS: Public Television Quality Group

Monday, December 06, 2010

Sony PMW-F3 live webchat with Jason Wingrove tonight

This evening Jason Wingrove will be the guest in the planet5d HDSLR chat. Jason is one of the first to have used the new Sony PMW-F3.

The chat will be starting at 8pm EST.
Planet5d: Learning about the new Sony PMW-F3 – planet5D HDSLR chat Monday December 6th

New York Launch Event for Sony PMW-F3, December 16th

The PMW-F3 launch event will include a screening of some of the first footage acquired with the camera, and a panel discussion with the production teams involved. You'll also have a chance to demo the camera.

Date: Thursday, December 16, 2010 | 6 PM
Location: AMC Empire 25 with IMAX Theatre | Auditorium #14 | 234 W 42nd Street | New York, NY 10036
Seats are limited.
Register: Sony Electronics Community

News from Here & There

Zoom Q3HD Video Recorder
Looking to improve the quality of your video's audio (though maybe not the video itself?) Zoom has combined what looks like the mics from the H1 with a video camera to create the Q3HD (think of it as the love child of a Flip and an H1 perhaps?) Price is $299, and it's just started shipping.
It's an intriguing option perhaps for musicians who want a simple way to make a self video with better audio. I'm just not convinced that to improve the audio you always want the mics on the camera...
Zoom Q3HD: Product Page
B & H: Zoom Q3HD Handy Video Recorder [$299.00]

iPhone as Audio Recorder
Speaking of the Zoom H1 Photo Cine News has a short article about using the iPhone as an audio recorder in place of buying a separate device like the H1. I'm partial to the idea, though the other day I was doing just that - using the iPhone as an audio recorder for an interview - when I got a phone call. Messed up the recording.
Photo Cine News: iPhone Audio Recorder as Zoom Alternative

Panasonic GH2
The GH2 is getting a lot of favorable reaction. EOSHD compares it to the Canon 60D (there's two parts), while at ProLost the expected arrival of the GH2 is greeted with interest, though it's noted that the  "Variable Movie Mode" doesn't really do over- and under-cranking as was first thought.
EOSHD: Canon 60D versus Panasonic GH2 - Full Review - Part 1
ProLost: The Panasonic GH2, DSLRs, and Funky Frame Rates For Creative Effect

Magic Lantern Doubles Canon 5D bitrate
The Magic Lantern firmware for the 5D Mark II now allows owners to increase the video bitrate to 76MBps (up from the default 38.) Hope that doesn't melt the camera or the memory card!
NoFilmSchool: New Magic Lantern Firmware Doubles Video Bitrate of 5D Mark II

Jag35 Monitor-X Review
Cameratown reviews the low-cost Jag 35 DSLR viewfinder.
Overall I love the idea of the Monitor X, and for those using a lightweight Steadicam Merlin or other stabilizer it is a must have product as it's light enough to balance on these rigs. It's also great when shooting on a tripod at eye level. You can keep both eyes on the event, using the Motion-X to help keep accurate framing and focus. I also love that JAG35 included two 1/4-20" mounts, allowing you to use it with articulating arms when used with a Cage or Shoulder rig. I hope that JAG35 takes it one step further by adding an anti-glare coating.
Cameratown: Jag35 Monitor-X Viewfinder Review\

10th Annual San Francisco SuperMeet: Jan 28, 2011

Where: Robertson Auditorium, Mission Bay Conference Center (William J. Rutter Center)- UCSF
When: Friday, January 28, 2011 (Doors open 3:30PM for SuperMeet Digital
How Much? EARLYBIRD $10.00 per person plus ticket fee
$6.00 for Students with valid ID
$20.00 at the door
**Tickets on SALE now**
Agenda to be announced soon...SuperMeet

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Final Cut Export Problems

It's annoying when programs do things they aren't supposed to - like crash while saving, or a feature won't work when your project gets too complicated. But I've had pretty good luck with Final Cut...until last week when I was editing the ATC "making of" music video. Everything was going fine - I'd even done some test exports - until I made some changes and did another export and suddenly something very odd was happening; a still frame from a completely different clip was being rendered in place of a couple of clips at one point in the timeline.

It didn't happen while playing back in Final Cut; only when I exported the clip using the Using QuickTime Conversion option..

In the past I've found that odd things like this can sometimes be "fixed" by adding a "non-filter" to a clip i.e. forcing the editor to do some processing to the clip before it exports it. I tried moving the clips to another track, as well as putting another clip underneath the clip. All I seemed to do was cause the odd rendering effect to move to another part of the sequence!

I even tried copying and pasting to another Sequence, and exporting to Compressor (which takes about four times as long) and still the problem occurred.

Finally, I did a simple export of the entire movie as a QuickTime Movie, which saves it in the format of the Sequence, rather than recompressing to a format of your choosing. This finally worked; and then I just imported the clip into another Sequence and exported it again with the settings I wanted.

It was troubling that I couldn't figure out why it was mis-behaving; especially as the project was short and not very complex.

notesonvideo: Shooting a Music Video: Air Traffic Controller

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Shooting a Music Video: Air Traffic Controller

I've been following Rick Macomber on Twitter (boston_camera) for a month or so; though we'd never met and I can't even remember how I came to follow him. But last week he tweeted that he would be shooting a music video of a local band, Air Traffic Controller, and was looking for people willing to volunteer to crew the shoot. On a whim I dropped him a note and said I was interested in covering it for the blog, and he said 'come on down!' or words to that effect.

Rick is a broadcast news photojournaliat with WBZ TV Boston, but for side projects he's been exploring HDSLR filmmaking. A musician himself, Rick first met Dave Munro of Air Traffic Controller through an open mic that Dave's brother Jeff runs in Malden. Rick has produced, directed and edited four videos for ATC. The other videos were shot using a Canon HV40, but this video, "Brightest Moon," was shot using a Canon T2i with 17-50mm f2.8 lens.

The video was shot at 60 fps with Dave lip syncing the song at double speed, then slow mo was added in post by conforming the video to 30 fps in Cinema Tools to create a fluid dream-like effect. The video was edited in Final Cut Pro with color grading with Magic Bullet Looks.

The video was actually a reshoot; in the previous attempt they had some audio playback issues and the audio wasn't loud enough for the singer to get the words right.

I met Rick and the crew of four down at a park on Soldiers Field Road late Sunday afternoon. The shot consisted of one long take of Dave walking along a path, with the other band members - Brent Selby Kiara Ana Perico Wendy Mittelstadt and Merrick Nelson - making appearances as Dave walked along. The first hour was spent figuring out where to place everyone and practicing. Rick operated the camera on a Glidecam with a vest, walking backwards while Jim Akimchuk guided him and also held a small key light. Crew Cameron Robbins and Chris Loughran operated two Husky LED work lights to light both Dave and the other band members, while Dan Buckley handled audio playback. Billy Lawler handled audio playback on the previous shoot.

In total they shot twelve complete takes over the course of a couple of hours, with the best one being chosen for the final video.

One last note; I was really intrigued by the Husky work lights they were using. They cost about $60 at Home Depot and feature 180 individual lights and operate on internal battery for three or four hours. For this purpose they pumped out plenty of light, and I'm wondering if they'd make a useful light kit for interviews; quite a bit of light without the power and heat issues you get from traditional lighting kits.

Macomber Productions
MySpace: Air Traffic Controller

And here's the final video:

[UPDATE] Corrected the number of takes to twelve.
[UPDATE II] Added Billy Lawler to crew list