Saturday, January 30, 2010

5D Mark II Firmware won't be in February

Canon has already announced that firmware is coming that will add 24p support for the Canon 5D Mark II, and there were signs pointing to it being in February. But now Canonrumors reports that it won't be in February, and the 720p mode may not make it when the firmware is released either.

As a note about the SuperMeet camera giveaway, (which listed a camera with the software and caused people to jump to the conclusion that the software would be out then) the text has been updated now to read: FIRMWARE UPDATE (1080 24p, 25fps, to be released separately)

UPDATE 2/25 - changed title to February - I have no idea why it said April originally!

How to make 3D movies out of 2D

No, not your movies; we're talking about Hollywood movies. Slate has an interesting article about how Hollywood studios are going about converting older movies - and some yet to be made - into 3D using computer software. While noting;
...does a converted 3-D film compare to one that was shot with a genuine 3-D camera? It's not as good, but you probably wouldn't notice anything amiss unless you'd seen a lot of 3-D flicks
It goes on to say that some directors/studios may continue to be shot in 2D and then converted to 3D because it's cheaper:
Still, some directors of 3-D movies choose to convert after the fact, rather than shooting with stereo cameras. One reason is cost. Top stereographers charge millions dollars for feature films. A full conversion from 2-D to 3-D usually costs somewhat less, although it can run into seven figures.
Slate: How Do You Convert a Flat Movie Into 3-D?

Rode University – free sound lessons

Rode mics has put together “Rode University”, an online set of instructional classes presented on video. One set of lessons is for studio recording, but they also have a section on film & video audio recording which has a couple of sessions, and it looks like they'll be adding more. Unfortunately, you have to “register” to view the content, but there’s some interesting stuff there.

Currently there are two segments, both hosted by Ric Viers, author of the The Sound Effects Bible. They’re under five minutes long, so you don’t have to invest too much time watching them

This “lesson” starts out a bit slow. After saying that you need a shotgun microphone (but not really explaining why) he then proceeds to spend a couple of minutes basically doing an ad for the NTG-3 shotgun mic.
Once that was finished, he did take it outside and show a comparison of a mic with and without wind protection, explain why you need a shotgun, as well as comparing a shotgun to a camera mic. The clip also shows how the sound changes depending upon whether the microphone is above or below the speaker (though he doesn’t specifically draw your attention to that difference.)
The clips worth watching, though it could have perhaps been more about positioning the mic, using a boom, etc.
A good effort.
Grade: C+

This segment talks about recording sounds in interior locations, where reflections from surfaces can cause problems, and the shotgun doesn’t work as well. He compares a shotgun with the cardoid NT5 in a squash court and the sales pitch on the NT5 was more restrained and therefore much better. There’s a short explanation of pick-up patterns and the segment on recording in cars is worth catching.
I thought this segment was much more informative, and though it specifically highlighted Rode mics, it didn’t feel so much of a sales pitch.
Grade: B+

The next segment is supposed to be about ENG mics, though no word on when it will be posted.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Two-Thirds of U.S. homes have HDTVs

Opinion Research Corporation has released a study showing that 2/3's of U.S. households have an HDTV, and another 12 percent plan to buy one in the next year.

At the moment, 3D is still to make an impact: only five percent said they plan to buy a 3D-capable television in the next two years. The study claims this is despite the recent CES and Avatar buzz, but I still think it's a bit too early to see what will happen. Until the hardware turns up in stores - and a few more 3D movies come out, we won't really know how consumers will take to it.

Another interesting fact:
One company that, in theory, should have an easier job is Sony, who emerged far and away as the HDTV brand most synonymous with high quality (43 percent cited this brand on an unaided basis); trailed by Samsung (11 percent); Panasonic (5 percent); Vizio (4 percent); Phillips and LG (3 percent); Toshiba, RCA and Sharp (2 percent); and Magnavox, Mistubishi, JVC and Zenith (1 percent).

Camcroderinfo Canon HF S21 full review

Camcorderinfo has updated their first impressions review of the Canon HF S21. The highlights of the review:

  • Excellent sharpness
  • native 24p
  • Low light better than last years model

  • Color accuracy and noise levels not as good as the competition (color accuracy worse than the HF S11!)
  • Though there are good manual controls, shutter and aperture cannot be set independently

I wonder whether the improved low light performance comes at the expense of color and noise. If you're buying a camera, how would you choose between those two factors?

As they have been doing, Camcorderinfo includes a collection of test videos which can make you eyes pop.

In general, we can conclude that the features have improved, though the image quality hasn't.
(Not really on point, but a friend of mine has the Canon HF S10, and is very happy with it, so not improving the image quality doesn't mean it's a bad camera!)

Upcoming Leaning Lab series - February

I just received an email from Rule Broadcast Systems, with the list of upcoming seminars for February:

Exploring Panasonic's P2 Studio Control Systems
Rule's Director of Technology, Tom Talbot will break down (and set-up) Panasonic's affordable new HD Multi-cam Studio packages explaining how to use and deploy studio camera configurations on a variety of P2 camcorders using the HPX300 and HPX2700.
10-12noon, Wed Feb 3

Portable Light Kits:
Selecting What's Right For Your Project

Rule's Jason Potz presents an overview on light kits in our sales and rental inventory built to suit a variety of production needs.
10-12noon, Wed Feb 10

Increasing Efficiency with Final Cut Pro

Award winning filmmaker and editor, Brynmore Williams takes you "20 cuts above the rest" by using extending markers and keyboard shortcuts to dramatically improve organization and editing in Final Cut Pro
10-12noon, Wed Feb 17

All are held at Rule in Boston (Note: events aren't up at their website at time of posting).

More on why Flash is bad for video playback

Cringely has a column on the iPad, and he has some information from an "informed friend" about Flash performance:
I did a quickie test with the new YouTube HTML5 beta. On a site that embedded a video (so Flash was used), my browser CPU utilization was 22%, and the Adobe Flash plug-in CPU utilization was 55%. [...]

After the video played, I watched the same video again directly on the YouTube site in HTML5. Adobe Flash plug-in CPU utilization was 4% (what it consumes just sitting on its hiney), and the browser CPU utilization was 17%.

77% vs 21%. that’s why Apple hates Adobe.
That's basically what Craig Seeman of Third Planet Video said at a recent BOSFCPUG meeting.

And to be sure, I don't hate Flash either, and I hope they do put it on the iPad so we can use it for interactive games etc., but unless Adobe can fix the performance issues, I really think Flash is the wrong thing for video playback.

Why's everyone want 16x9 on the iPad?

I don't get it. There's lots to like (and dislike) about the iPad, but I just can't understand at the people complaining about the screen not being 16 x 9, as though that's a big strike against it. One commenter wrote:

4X3 not 16X9 . . . Are you kidding?


I happen to like 16x9 for movies, but if they'd made the screen 16 x 9, the iPad would have been long and thin. If you're watching movies, sure 4x3 seems like a big waste, but web surfing, typing in documents, and having something that if comfortable as a hand-held; I don't think the 16x9 aspect ratio would work as well. It will be either too narrow, or two long.

Now if you're going to give them grief about video playback, it should be about the resolution of the screen: 1024 instead of 1280 if a bit of a downer. If the screen had been 1280 x 960, then you could play 720P video without scaling (1280 x 720.)

Of course, Apple's limited by the screens that are available (and cost) so I'm not even willing to write the thing off because of that short coming. But 4x3? Complaining about that just seems crazy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

AVCHD Introduction Handbook for NXCAM

Sony has added a new manual: AVCHD Introduction Handbook for NXCAM to their resources at the NXCAM site. The only problem; at the moment the link is broken!


Samsung 3D Blu-ray player

It seems that Amazon is taking orders for Samsung's 3D, BD-C6900 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player This player supports the Blu-ray 3D spec, at least that's what was said when it was announced, but I'm wondering; what you can hook it up to right now?

Boston Media Makers - Feb 7th

If you are interested in the web, social media, advertising, PR, audio, video, photography, or acting, and are in Boston, you might want to attend the monthly Boston Media Makers group meeting.

It's held from 10:00am to 12:00 noon, the first Sunday of every month at Doyle’s Cafe, Jamaica Plain, Boston.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sony HDR-AX2000 First Look

Moshe Lehrer has written a first look for the B&H newsletter. Unfortunately, it's really just an article going through the features of the camera, but at the end he does say:
...over the next few weeks, I'll be putting the AX2000 through it's paces, testing it in a whole bunch of different shooting situations, and I'll come back with a full hands-on review in our next B&H Pro Video newsletter.

A magical and revolutionary product...

It's been a couple of hours since it was announced, and I'm still trying to figure out what I think of the new Apple iPad. I guess I was so into the hype, I expected it to be everything I had imagined, and it didn't quite get there.

About 30 minutes into the presentation, I had a distinct feeling of "is that all there is?!" It just seemed like an iPhone, but bigger. Now an iPhone that's bigger is pretty cool; watching video becomes much better, the keyboard is easier to use. No doubt it would be nice to have; even if I wouldn't have it with me all the time.
But still. Is that all it is?And even now, I feel a bit that way, though maybe my expectations are starting to dial back a little, and probably by the time it actually ships - in 60 days - I'll have a more nuanced view.

I was talking to a friend right after it was announced, and we were comparing notes and he - like me - had been very excited beforehand, and almost assumed he'd buy one. But he was muted in his response as well. We both agreed that we'd wait until they had them in the store and we could go down and try them out. Not ten minutes later - after watching the movie Apple put up on the site - he came over excitedly; "Okay, that's it, I'm getting one!" He said he loved the responsiveness that seemed evident in the video, as well as the interface enhancements they'd done.

I have to say, I'm impressed by some of it; the price, the size of the screen, the price, and the iWork suite. Oh, and the price.

It's a lot cheaper than I had thought it would be. Though add in memory and 3G, and the price starts to tick up.

I was disappointed by the book distribution model they showed. I really thought that Apple would nail content authoring/distribution/viewing, and I'm not sure they have yet. I thought they would integration books, magazines and newspapers, but The New York Times is developing their own app for viewing the paper, and the iBook reader seems to be limited to, well, books. There didn't seem to be any note taking capability - in the book reader - but maybe it's rudimentary and they just didn't show it.

I thought there might be a camera, and though I'm not bitterly disappointed that there isn't I thought there'd be something for video web chats. It just seems a natural. Maybe in version 2.0?

I see that Apple is promising a "camera connection kit" that will allow you to plug a camera in over USB or use an SD card. I'll wait to see what that's about.

I/m also waiting to see:
  • the functionality of the iBook reader
  • is there a Mac and PC version of the iBook reader
  • Legibility of the screen in daylight
  • How easy it is to type on just occurred to me that they are recycling their product names: they used to have a very different iBook product..

Sanyo DMX-SH11 has 23x zoom

Just in time to miss CES, Sanyo has announced a new horizontal layout camera, the Xacti DMX-SH11, which features a 3.5 Megapixel CMOS 1/3.6 inch sensor, as well as a 35-mm wide-angle lens with a 23x optical zoom (though it's also billed as having a 30x "Advanced Zoom" - whatever that is).

Sanyo also claims it's the smallest camera "in it's class" though what class that is, I'm not sure. But it weighs 204g (7.2 oz) and is 43mm (1.7")thick (by comparison, Sony's HDR-CX100, which is pretty small, weighs 330g (11 oz) and is 55mm (2.25") thick.)

It supports 1920 x 1080 /60i / 30fps, and 1280 x 720 /60p / 30p with the MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 format. There's also a "slow motion mode" in 192 x 108 (600fps), 16GB of internal memory, a digital image stabilizer, Face chaser function, Eye-Fi card compatibility, and new “Sound Zoom” Technology. Availability in Japan: Late April (or February?)

YouTube Rentals

Interested in making your content available for rent on YouTube?
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Do I have to be an existing YouTube partner to participate in this program?
A. No. However, if you are not an existing partner, please try to provide as much information as you can to help us evaluate the quality of your video catalog.

Q. Will partners participating in YouTube Rentals need to accept a new agreement?
A. Yes. All partners who wish to participate will need to accept a new agreement that covers rentals.

Q. Is this feature open to non-US partners?
A. No. YouTube Rentals is currently available only to US partners and consumers.

Panasonic AG-HMC70 XLR audio problems

I purchased [a Panasonic AG-HMC70]. Works very well. My question for you is how do you get an XLR microphone to work? I followed the directions in the manual about audio. But I get no sound at all when plugging into the XLR input.

I have a RODE 3.5mm to XLR adapter, and an Audio Technica ATR6550 microphone. Yeah I went low budget to try this out. I wonder if the microphone and or the adapter quality are not compatible with the camera.

I have the AG-HMC70 and have been using it to record interviews with a Sony wireless mic and it works great. Though the wireless pack has a mini-plug out, it came with a short mini-XLR cable that plugs into it, and has given no problem. I've also used other XLR mics with no problems, but all of those mics have been "true" XLR mics, so I've just been running XLR-to-XLR cable.

Settings for AG-HMC70 XLR input

Assuming you set the audio-in (on the side of the camera) to "Rear" and Line-Mic-+48 to Mic (as above) it *should* work. I'm assuming the Audio-Technica ATR6550 is sending out Mic level here, and it definitely doesn't need phantom power (+48v)

However, I was looking at the specs of the Rode VXLR mono mini-Jack to XLR converter (I'm not sure if that's what you have, but I'm going to go with it for sake of no better explanation) and one person in the B&H review says it's wired for use with stereo-type connectors and it won't work with mono connectors; which is what that ATR6550 has:
This product is excellent in theory but leaves something to be desired in practice. The unit is wired for use with microphones with stereo-type (tip-ring-sleeve) connectors. The tip and ring are jumpered together inside the VXLR. This essentially prevents its use with a mic with a mono-type (tip-sleeve) connector UNLESS one is willing to CAREFULLY pry each one apart and clip the jumper between the tip and ring. Since this unit is PRESS FIT together, not screwed, this action may destroy the tight friction, rendering it useless.
So you might see if you can find a different mini to XLR connector.

But before doing that; do you have another XLR mic and cable you can test? Or another XLR input device that you can test with the mic/adapter combination? It would be nice to be able to narrow in on what's not working, rather than buying parts in hopes that's the solution!

You could try using the External microphone input, which is a mini-plug (tt's towards the front of the camera on the opposite side to the LCD panel) Set the Audio-In switch to FRONT and plug in the mic and see if you get anything that way. You won't be able to use the on-camera mic for the other channel, and it's not really answering the original question, but you should get audio that way.


Today is the BIG day

Apple is all set to announce something today at 1 PM EDT. I'm really curious to see what they have come up with after all the hype, though part of me is trying to prepare myself for disappointment!

Overheard at the BOSFCPUG meeting

I mentioned last weeks meeting of the Boston Final Cut Pro Users Group both in the H.264 article, and the Adobe Mercury article, but there were a couple of other bits of interest that I failed to mention.

DG FastChannel
Craig Seeman of Third Planet Video talked briefly about DG FastChannel as the best way to get dubs to TV stations. It's a fiber channel network, with connections to most stations, and he said that using it costs about the same as FedEx, but there's no tape cost, no danger of a bad dub, and you don't have to take it to the FedEx office. He also said that in some cases it's possible to send out an ad and it's on-air in an hour.

They were using a couple of JVC GY-HM700U cameras to record the meeting, and during the intermission I thought I'd shoot some video of the camera as a test of the QIK Camcorder software I'd just installed on my iPhone. I wasn't really that interested in the cameras per se, but one of the guys running the camera must have thought I was, as he came over to tell me that I'd find much better pictures of the camera online(!) He then proceeded to give me quite a strong pitch for the camera, which was all the more interesting to me as he previously owned a Sony EX1 [and being a bit of a Sony fanboy, the EX1 is the camera I kind of aspire to.]

He said that the color from the JVC was better, the workflow is better, and it sits better on your shoulder. For workflow, the JVC records to SDHC cards and stores the XDCAM files in a QuickTime wrapper, making it possible to open them in Final Cut Pro and other applications without having to do any conversion.

He went on to say that the EX1 had a problem where, if you try and do something before it's finished writing to the memory card, it will corrupt the entire card and you can lose everything you have shot. He also said that while the EX1 is a little cheaper than the JVC, SDHC cards are cheaper than SxS cards, it has CCDs so you don't get rolling shutter or problems with half exposed frames when flashes fire, and the lens is a lot smoother when you start and stop zooming it.

He did say that the EX1 is slightly better in low light, but obviously wasn't missing the camera as he then took out his iPhone and proceeded to show me a recent video he'd shot with the JVC.  I guess he really likes it!

Amazon Prices/Products



Other Hardware


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Canon 60D & new Rebel to support video. seems to think the upcoming 60D will support 720p/1080p at 30fps, while a 550D/600D will support 720p at 30fps. We know Canon will replace the current 50D and Rebel line at some point, so the real questions are when, what and how much?

And maybe after that; what's the differentiation between the 7D and 60D?

Most interesting for me about the 60D rumor is the suggestion of the articulating screen....boy, I'd love to have one of those on the 7D.

Adobe’s Mercury playback engine

At last weeks BOSFCPUG meeting there was a short discussion of Adobe’s upcoming Mercury playback engine. The name is a little misleading, Mercury is their current name for a technology that uses the computers GPU to accelerate processing in other applications. They have been demoing using it in Premiere Pro to accelerate playback of highly compressed formats (like AVCHD) as well as accelerating rendering and exporting.

In addition to faster processing, it also frees the CPU for other things.

There’s a movie online where Adobe’s Dave Helmly gives a Sneak Peak of Premier Pro using the Mercury Playback Engine. If you read the separate blogpost, you’ll see that they say that Adobe has not committed to releasing the technology yet, though everyone seems to be assuming it will be in Premiere Pro CS5.

One downside; it is built on NVIDIA’s CUDA technology, and will only work with certain NVIDIA GPU’s.
Question: "Why didn't you use OpenCL then?"
Answer: OpenCL wasn't finished or ratified when this decision was made. Given a choice between doing it with CUDA or not doing it for a while because of OpenCL, we chose the former. Besides, as I mentioned, NVIDIA has a hugely dominant market share in the professional graphics market, so we think that most people will be comfortable with the options available to them.
Apple, meanwhile, has embraced OpenCL in Snow Leopard, though Final Cut Pro 3 does not take advantage of it, and there’s no word on when it will.


TODAY: Live podcast with Steve Weiss, Scott Bourne and Philip Bloom for LensFlare 35 about HD-DSLRs

Today, (Jan 26th) at 2pm EST Philip Bloom, Dave Warner of, Scott Bourne and Steve Weiss will be on the LensFlareLive podcast. They will be talking about "convergence, HD-DSLRs, fusion and Steve’s love of High School Musical and Hannah Montana TV shows!"

Monday, January 25, 2010

Time-lapse photography

Philip Bloom is becoming a master at doing time-lapse videos. His latest blog post talks a bit about how he does them, and has a video containing several sequences: New timelapse short film "Sky"

It you like that, be sure to check out another more detailed post of his: DSLR Timelapses addictive, frustrating and often rewarding...

Is it a documentary?

I was reading a review of a new program called La La Land in which it appears a guy acts outrageously around other people who possibly don't know its a joke, and the results are filmed for our enjoyment; something like the movie Borat: "La La Land": Move over, Borat!

Now whether anyone acts normally around a video camera or not is something I’ll leave for another day, what caught my eye was this statement:

For Wootton to take one of the world's most odious and repugnant archetypes -- the self-important documentary filmmaker -- and then capture the insanity as we watch him force reality to fit his story arc?

I’m sorry, but "self-important documentary filmmakers" are one of the world’s most odious and repugnant archtetypes? Oh, what hell hath Michael Moore wrought?! Or has the work of documentary filmmakers been sullied by the multitudes of so-called reality TV shows?

It's time for documentary filmmakers to take back their good name before it forever loses it's meaning. Maybe the public has forgotten - or gotten confused - about what a documentary is. Let's start with how to tell if a program is a documentary:

  • It is not a documentary if there is scoring, judging or eliminations
  • It is not a documentary if there is a host
  • It is not a documentary if the word real appears in the title
  • It is not a documentary if the cameras follow the same people around for more than one season.

I'm sure there are other rules, but that makes for a start.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I'm a Photographer, NOT a Terrorist

On Saturday a protest was held in Trafalgar Square, London against police's use of anti-terrorism laws to harass photographers taking pictures in public places. The protest of about two thousand people was organized by Photographer Not a

This is a problem not just limited to Great Britain.


DSLRs and Sound Syncing

Philip Bloom has an article up entitled: Filming interview with DLSRs & recording sound separately and how to sync the bloody lot up! Also the advantage of IS lenses for them.

Catchy title.

But there's lots of interesting stuff:
  • He talks about Plural Eyes, the sound sync software that works in Final Cut Pro and will compare two clips and match them up (no need for a clapper board and manual syncing!)
  • He recommends that even if you're shooting on a tripod, an Image Stabilization lens is useful as it reduces wobble when unlocking the camera or focusing (he includes a sample clip!)
  • Pictures of his setup.
He also describes a problem he encountered with sound drift, and it's solution:
Problem is sound drifted after about 10 seconds and I couldn’t for the life of me work out why. Both 7D sound and sound on Zoom (24 bit WAV) were at 48kHZ so there was no reason for any drift to happen. The sequence settings were correct, they matched the video perfectly so WHY was it drifting?
[...]Solution came from Robin Charters, son of Rodney Charters who said as I had been in the US did I perhaps at some point have a 23.98p set up in my FCP…the answer was yes. He said that I needed to make sure my capture preset frame rate was also the same as the sequence settings as Final Cut Pro has a glitch that insists that the capture preset be set to same frame rate. So [if] my frame rate is 25p therefore my capture preset needs to be 25p too. So I selected ANY 25p setting, DV PAL worked!

Live podcast with Steve Weiss, Scott Bourne and Philip Bloom for LensFlare 35 on Tuesday about HD-DSLRs
This Tuesday (Jan 26th) at 2pm EST Philip Bloom, Dave Warner of, Scott Bourne and Steve Weiss will be on the LensFlareLive podcast.

They will be talking about "convergence, HD-DSLRs, fusion and Steve’s love of High School Musical and Hannah Montana TV shows!"