Saturday, March 20, 2010

From Still to Motion - webcast, April 20

On Tuesday, April 20 at 8 p.m. EST, join the author team behind From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR: Richard Harrington, Robbie Carman, Matt Gottshalk, and James Ball for an hour log webcast covering the nuts and bolts of creating professional-looking video using DSLR camera.

You must register here (and it says Space is limited) Announcing Peachpit Photo Club

You can Pre-order from for $31.49 (the book should be out any day now...): From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR (Voices That Matter)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Canon Final Cut Pro plug-in available!!

The EOS Movie Plug-in for Final Cut Pro is now available. I haven't tried it - yet...

UPDATE: If true, this is annoying:
Supported OSes:
MacOS 10.6.2 or later
I'm still running 10.5.8...

It seems to work fine with 10.5.8.

I imported a 16sec file and it took 58 seconds through Log & Transfer, and 52 seconds with MPEG Steamclip (both exporting to ProRes 444). Final Cut defaulted to ProRes 444 for the EOS Plug-in when it was installed.

To use the Archive function, you must be viewing in Hierarchical format, and then Control-Click the volume name and a pop-up appears with the Archive to Disk Image option.

Canon documentation can be found here: Introducing EOS Movie Plugin-E1 for Final Cut Pro

Creating stop-motion animation

Interested in creating stop-motion on your Mac? Chris Breen at MacWorld runs through the software application options (freeware FrameByFrame, and commercial apps iStopMotion and Dragon Stop Motion) as well as the techniques and tools of the trade.

MacWorld: Create stop-motion animation

10 Mac Apps for $49.99

If you're a Mac user, then you may be interested in the latest bundle of 10 Mac Apps for $49.99 at MacUpdate. I primarily got it for Parallels, though I was intrigued by Hyrda (an HDR utility), MacDVDRipper, and WebSnapper. I may even use the Timeline 3D app. I'm not sure if I'll use any of the rest, but even if I only use two of the programs, it's a good deal.

And if you're not a Mac user; sorry about all the Final Cut Pro coverage!

The case for and against the HXR-FMU128

If you have recently bought a Sony HXR-NX5U video camera – or are thinking of buying one in the next couple of months – then you have an important decision to make before March 31st: should you buy the 128GB Flash memory unit?

The HXR-FMU128 normally retails for $749.95, but Sony is currently offering a $500 rebate, which brings it down to a much more palatable $249.95. Since 32GB SDHC cards are selling for about $100 right now, with the rebate the HXR-FMU128 comes in at almost have the price of four 32GB cards.

Even more importantly, the HXR-FMU128 makes it possible to perform dual recording with the HXR-NX5U; recording to both the memory card and the FMU128 at the same time. It’s not possible to do this with the HDR-.AX2000 because that camera doesn’t support the FMU128.

It should be noted that at least two people have reported buffer problems when dual recording, and no one really knows why that is happening (the reports so far seem to be limited to people who are dual recording, though that may not be the cause of the problem.)

Though I don’t have an FMU128 (or a NX5U, yet) I do have a HDR-XR500V (predecessor to the HDR-XR520V) which has a 120GB internal hard drive, and I have to say it’s a mixed blessing. On the pro side, 120GB is a big space to fill up. On the con side, it’s way too easy to let things accumulate.

With the cameras I have that use flash cards, I find that I have to copy off the content before each shoot, whether or not I am ready to edit/transcribe it. With the 120GB of space, it’s easy to leave the stuff shot yesterday on the camera, and go off for the next days shoot. And two months later the drive is full and I have to actually do something about it.

It’s like having only a few GB left on your computers internal hard drive, replacing it with one that’s twice the size and two months later you’re right back with only a few GB left. Nature abhors a vacuum.

For Final Cut Pro users, this poses an additional problem, because to be able to use the Log & Transfer function you have to archive the whole file structure. This means that if you aren’t religious about archiving as you shoot, you have to create an archive that contains multiple days and subjects. That makes finding things more difficult.

Of course, you can just exercise more discipline and back up stuff every day and reformat the drive and start again. It really depends on the type of person you are. For me, the forced limitation of smaller memory cards seems to work better.

Canon 5D Mark II firmware 2.0.4 out in Japan already?

Engadget: Canon EOS 5D Mark II 2.0.4 firmware said to fix audio, reputation

UPDATE: has links....though maybe you want to wait a few days to make sure this update doesn't have other problems...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3d is loose in the world! Part 2

After the SMPTE presentation the night before, I was looking forward to the Sony presentation. I was thinking that they’d have some equipment - at least a 3D television and glasses - and a great demo.


The only equipment they had at the presentation was a stereo video camera setup constructed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution using two new HD cameras that cost about $30,000 each. It was actually a pretty cool looking rig, but it was just sitting on a table and not connected or even on; we didn’t get to see it do anything.

The talk was primarily a history and theory of 3D technologies, and it started with a quote from someone in 1939 saying that the time was right for 3D to finally catch on!

There followed an explanation of what was driving the 3D movement: revenue from 3D theatrical releases, and the desire to sell new hardware(!) Not that 3D in theaters is new (and it didn’t just die out in the 50’s.) Evidently there was a movie in the 70’s called: Stewardesses in 3D. Even though it was never in wide release, it constantly made money over several years; though that might have been the subject matter, rather than the 3D component!

The real kicker - even ignoring the recent success of Avatar - is that revenue-per-screen for 3D movies released in the past five years has been much higher than for the same 2D release. Of course, there are several variables that the speaker acknowledged aren’t factored into the raw numbers; the smaller number of 3D screens, and the over saturation of the 2D theaters may skew the figures. Also, the additional income from the fees charged for glasses may inflate the numbers.

The speaker did pitch Blu-ray as one of the best ways to view 3D in the home, because there wasn’t really enough bandwidth to send it over cable in high-res. And by the way, they have finalized the Blu-ray 3D specs (in December 2009.)

There was some discussion about both the technology needed to send a 3D image through cable (side-by-side, top-bottom, combined, or using increased frame rates.) For a variety of reasons they have ended up with the side-by-side solution.

And there was an overview of the technologies for viewing 3D content:

Auto Stereoscopic
This technology does not required glasses, but has reduced resolution and limited viewing positions. This may improve.

Time sequential
Uses passive glasses, but projected at high frame rates

Active Glasses
This seems to be the method in ascendancy for home theater. The left and right image are displayed rapidly one after the other. An infra-red transmitter on the TV talks to the shuttered glasses and tells them when to open/close each lens. Persistence of vision makes the whole thing work, and there’s limited brightness loss.

Sony plans to release a Bravia 3D LCD TV, with LED backlight, 240fps motion flow display.

There was a brief slide listing the problems you can encounter with 3D production, though it was really a list of issues, with was no discussion of the problems (or solutions.):
  • Visual parallax
  • Excessive disparity
  • Pseudo stereo inversion
  • Hyper stereo
  • Boundary violations
  • Occlusion violations
  • Depth budget
  • And many more

Evidently Sony is busy running training classes on how to produce 3D as there’s “a lot of interest!”

Surprisingly, there wasn’t much talk of the camera technology being used, or editing/production methods, though there was a spreadsheet of companies that have built 3D rigs. In addition to the Woods Hole rig, and other "traditional" two-camera setups, there was a picture shown of a mirrored rig where one camera is mounted perpendicular to the other.

Sony has also shown a prototype single lens 3D video camera that has an internal beam splitter. There are evidently pros and cons to this technique though I didn’t find out what they were, and there’s no specific plans to release a product at the moment, though they are continuing development work on it.

Finally, the multiple mentions of the drive to sell 3D TVs reminded me of the announcement last week that Sony planned to release a 3D consumer camera. At the time I wondered whether it would be a still or video camera. After thinking about it, I have to conclude that Sony would be more likely to focus on creating a consumer 3D video camera - rather than a still camera - because it will help sell TVs. But that’s just a guess on my part.


Philip Bloom: 2:35 video on Vimeo

Philip Bloom has posted a short video on his website showing his workflow for creating 2:35 video on Vimeo. Definitely worth checking out. I learned a number of things:

Framing in the camera
He says he guesstimates the framing (though he says you can also put tape on the monitor.) - He doesn't do too badly with the framing!

Framing matte in Final Cut Pro
While working with the 1920x1080 footage, he applies Final Cut Pro's Widescreen filter to get a matte showing the actual framing. The Widescreen filter is a simple effect that has a number of choices for different aspect ratios. My problem with this filter (from playing with it a little) is that it builds it's matte based on the dimensions of the material, not the Canvas window. So if you have video with a different aspect ratio, or you make it bigger or smaller than 1920x1080 on the Canvas, then the matte will be wrong.

If you do have that problem, another solution would be to create a .png graphic in Photoshop that has the top and bottom bars, and the middle is transparent, and then place that on the top video track.

If anyone has a better solution (or I'm using the Widescreen filter wrong, let me know!)

Cropping the export in QuickTime Player
Philip exports to a QuickTime movie (reference movie) and then uses QuickTime Player 7 (the old version, not QuickTime X) and after choosing Export, in Options he sets the Image Size to Custom, and enters 1920 x 816. This crops off the top and bottom matte giving you just the content, which is really useful because...

Vimeo supports other Aspect Ratios
This is probably the thing that surprised me the most. I had assumed that Vimeo supports just 16x9, and it would distort any other size that was uploaded. But no, it appears it understands and supports different aspect ratios. If you check out Philip's page, you'll see a clip with a very different aspect ratio, with no top or bottom matte.

So why do it?
Creating movies with this aspect ratio does beg the question; what's the advantage to having the movie stored in the actual aspect ratio rather than putting it in a 16 x 9 file with top and bottom mattes? Particularly given that most computer displays are either 16 x 9 or 4 x 3, so having a movie of a different aspect ratio means you'll have black bars anyway when playing at full screen. So unless you have a wider than standard widescreen monitor, you're not going to derive any real advantage.

Of course, if you want/like that aspect ratio's look, the movies will look cleaner on your web page than if it's in a frame with top and bottom boards. Also, you'll save a little data in compression as the boarder area isn't being compressed; though that probably doesn't take up much space.

And something tells me a lot of people are going to be producing movies in these aspect ratios over the next month or two.

Philip Bloom: How to export and upload 2:35 video to Vimeo

Dymo DiscPainter review

The Dymo DiscPainter arrived yesterday and got a quick run through it's paces. The new Windows 7 drivers were installed, and the first disc was printed. The printer has three Quality settings: Draft, Normal and Best, as well as a Density setting (the initial tests were all done with a Density of 5.)

The first test was run using the Normal setting, and the results, while not terrible, were troubling. As others had reported in the reviews on Amazon, there was a noticeable skewing in the test. Look at the four lines of text in the middle of the disc: these should be straight; and the title at the top looks like it's been stretched on the right-hand side, creating an unintentional 3D effect.

Normal Setting: Density = 5

Not particularly happy with that, the next test was done with the Best setting and the same density, in the hopes that Best would produce at least acceptable results. Printing in Best took longer than printing with Normal, but it actually produced even worse results!

Best Setting: Density = 5

At this point the printer was going to be packed up and sent back, but a third disc was printed using the Draft setting, and surprise(!) it produced the best results!

Now you might think that maybe the options were mislabeled; that Draft was actually Best, and Best was Draft, except that the Best option took longer to print than the Draft mode.

Draft Setting: Density = 5

How does it compare? Well, the Draft mode is actually usable, but it's not as good as the results on the same disc media using an HP printer. The details aren't as crisp (the Dymo has lower resolution and fewer colors, so that's not unexpected) though color isn't bad, and considering it's a three color printer, blacks are pretty good.

More troubling is that there's also some slight circular banding you can see in the red background image. This is probably the biggest detraction, and the only thing that would give me hesitation about recommending it. On the other hand, it's not so much that it leaps out at you, as it's something you see if you are looking for it. Most people probably won't even notice it.

The printer also does seem to be much easier to work with; you just drop in the disc and it starts printing almost immediately. It doesn't seem to have the operational problems of regular inkjets (feeding issues, ink cartridge cleaning, etc.) Since the printer has only been used for one day, there's no way of knowing whether the ink cartridge will have problems with blocked nozzles as some users have reported.

If you are printing lots of discs, then this printer could save you time and hassles. For those times you want perfection, you may still want to use a regular inkjet printer.

The last caveat is that this report is based on one days use. I'm going to check back in a month and see how the disc printer is performing, and whether the results remain consistent or whether there are other long-term issues.

Amazon:  Dymo DiscPainter ($249)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Problems with 5D Mark II firmware

Canon has posted a warning about problems with the firmware update (at bottom of this page):
We have learned that some users of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR camera are experiencing issues with Firmware Update Version 2.0.3.
We are working on a new firmware update to address these phenomena, which will be available soon. If you have not registered your EOS 5D Mark II, please register so we will be able to notify you via e-mail when future firmware updates become available for download. has some details: 5D Mark II Firmware 2.0.3 Broken

Panasonic 3D tour and sales

Panasonic has a 15 city tour promoting and demoing 3D gear. The Touch the Future Tour allows consumers to see how 3D performs with both movies, games, and other content. Dates can be found here: Panasonic 3D Demos

Note that Boston is this weekend 3/20 - 3/22 Copley Place - 2 Copley Place

Read more (and dates): Panasonic 3D Demos or a short write-up about it on Engadget.

Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg, Panasonic sold out the first shipment of 3D televisions in a week. So someone wants it! Tech.Blorge

HDSLR aliasing and EX1 comparisons

Marco Colorio has written an introduction to HD SLR video recording for Creative Cow. It's a good introduction for those who haven't gotten their feet wet yet, and it covers most of the basics.

What really got my attention though, was the discussion of the issues of aliasing, and Marco's mention of his preference for the Canon 5D Mark II over his Sony EX1; even though he acknowledges that he probably won't get rid of the EX1.

In the article, Marco mentions, but then quickly dismisses, the issues of aliasing:
The current workaround for any HDSLR is to try to avoid shooting against things like brick walls, chain link fences, power lines, etc. If you must, try to distance the subject further away from them, so that the backgrounds become defocused. In fact, even just a hair out of focus will completely solve the problem.
Several people expound - both pro and con - on the issue in the comments, and some solutions and work-arounds are offered. I can't help wondering though, whether those complaining about aliasing are just looking for problems. Not to dismiss their concerns out of hand, but nearly all video cameras are a compromise in one way or another. A lot of people are happily shooting with these HD SLRs and either avoiding, solving, or not worrying about the aliasing issues that others point to.

The author himself notes in the comments:
Our EX1 is a little more suited for run-and-gun ENG/EFP type production, namely for its form-factor, it's built in XLR/trim audio hardware and the like. I should note that I enjoy shooting with the 5D2 more, solely because of its image capabilities. The work-arounds that are involved with the 5D2 that aren't present with the EX1 (or EX3) are worth it in many ways because of the 5D2's exceptional image characteristics. If you plan on a lot of ENG/EFP, then maybe an EX1/EX3 is a better option. But if you have time to compose your scene/shot, and add some helpful accessories to make the camera more for controlability, then the 5D2 might be your solution.
Here's someone with an EX1 who is obviously happier to go and shoot with the 5D.

This makes for an interesting counter-point to the recent article by Alister Chapman. I say this because Chapman wrote about comparing the Canon T2i to the EX1, and he didn't like the image quality at all. So here we have Chapman and Colorio both comparing HD SLRs to the same high-end camera, and one loves the SLR results, and the other doesn't.

And neither one of them is necessarily wrong, or right. Ultimately we each have to make our own choices based on how we like to work and the results we want.

3d is loose in the world! Part 1

At last weekends Camera Company Show there were a couple of presentations on 3D technologies, one presented by SMPTE, and the other by Sony.

At the SMPTE meeting, Peter Fasciano (a co-founder of Avid), Rob Jaczko (from the music department at Berklee) and Ron Labbe (, talked about the history, issues and lexicon of 3D capture and playback.

Much of it, to be honest, I didn’t completely follow, or it went by so fast I couldn’t write it down, but here’s the key things I came away with:

Interocular distance
This is the distance between your eyes. In theory, the distance between the camera lenses should match this (the distance between the camera lenses is referred to as the interaxular distance.)

While adjusting this distance will result in “distorted” 3D images, that distortion can be used for effect: moving the lenses closer together will have the effect of making what you are shooting appear to be larger. Moving them further apart makes the object appear smaller. As an example of the latter, Peter talked about shooting a 3D still of the Grand Canyon with an interaxular distance of 500 feet, and ending up with what looked like a photo of the Grand Canyon ashtray.

Convergence vs parallel
When you have two lenses, they can either be aligned parallel, or they can converge on a point of focus. It appears that parallel is the preferred format, though curiously the demo (see clip below) used converged cameras. Interestingly, Avatar was shot using convergence, and the new Panasonic 3D HD camera has converging lenses.

My impression is that the advantage with convergence is that you have your final results right away (i.e. the live demo was easier to setup and produce results with converged cameras) whereas parallel requires more post processing, but gives you more options in post processing.

Ron Labbé demos a stereoscopic camera setup using two video cameras and two stacked projectors with polarizing filters.

The 3D Window
In 3D there’s a “window” which is the plane of the screen; things are either behind or in front of that window.

If there’s a lot of “stuff” behind that window, then your eyes want to diverge and that causes headaches. The “difference” in position for an object in the background in the left and right image (i.e. the offset distance between left image and the right) should be no more than one percent of the image (for a 1920 image, about 19 pixels.)

If something is too close (too forward of the window), it causes exophoria.

Hollywood thinks it can present 3D movies better than home theater. This is partly because people tend to sit (proportionally) further away from the screen at home, which limits the 3D effect. Unfortunately, I think the history of television shows that people are quite happy to stay home for a poor copy of what they can get in the theater.

Issues when shooting
There’s a language to 3D movies that 2D movie makers are unfamiliar with. Here are just some of the issues that were raised at the two sessions I attended:
  • You shouldn’t shoot down, which – as was pointed out – is a problem for sports where many camera positions are above the action
  • Fast pans, fast zooms, and fast motion don’t work well
  • Placement of the “window,” and things in front and behind, is more complicated than shooting in "2D'
  • The further the object is from the viewer, the smaller should be the 3D effect. There may be no 3D effect if something is greater than ~50 feet from the camera
  • Much of Avatar isn’t really in 3D, or has no 3D effect visible (at least according to some people who saw the movie)
I’m wondering if fast cutting causes problems; the eyes constantly adjusting for the changes in distances might cause headaches...

One interesting aside; they showed some different “kinds” of 3D; stereo pair, anaglyph, polarization, and “wigglers.” Wigglers can be interesting. In wiggler stereoscopy, two or more images are displayed in succession, allowing the viewer to see relative motion and a sense of depth. You can see an example here: Wiggler example

After seeing the wiggler, I was wondering whether the attraction of the constant “jerky”cam effect used in movies like the Bourne Ultimatum isn’t some crude derivation of the wiggler effect; but when I think about it, most of those are just changing what the camera is pointing at, not moving the position of the camera. This suggests that the attraction is just that it creates discomfort in the audience. But I wonder if the jerky cam would be even more upsetting in 3D?

Tomorrow: Sony’s take on things in Part II


Happy St Patrick's Day - Irish Film Featival

March 25-28

Among the films selected to be screened are the hit Irish comedy Wide Open Spaces and the award-winning documentary The Yellow Bittern: The Life and Times of Liam Clancy.

Gabriel Byrne will be present for a screening of the new documentary on his life and career, Gabriel Byrne: Stories from Home.

Films will screen at the Brattle Theatre and at the Somerville Theater. Receptions will be held at Grafton Street Bar and Grill (Harvard Sq.), Orleans (Davis Sq.) and at the Burren (Davis Square).

More Info: Irish Film Festival, Boston

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

From Still to Motion - sample chapter

Peachpit press has posted a sample chapter from the book: From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR in PDF format. The chapter is "Cinematic Lighting", and if it's any indication, the book will be worth getting!

Part II: Cinematic Lighting [PDF]

    You can Pre-order from for $31.49: From Still to Motion: A photographer's guide to creating video with your DSLR (Voices That Matter)

    Sony XDCAM & NXCAM - Mar 17 @ Rule

    Tomorrow, Sony's Sales Support Engineer Tom Cubby provides an in-depth look at the PMW-350, the first Sony 2/3" XDCAM EX shoulder-mount camcorder, the HXR-NX5U, their first AVCHD camcorder, and the latest update to the EX1 - the PMW-EX1R.

    At Rule Broadcast Systems, Boston. 10am-12noon

    Thoughts on the Canon 5D firmware update

    Back when people were first complaining about the limitations of the Canon 5D Mark II, there were a lot of people who wanted to write and complain to Canon, and get them to fix it with a software upgrade.

    I remember distinctly posting on a couple of forums that I was quite certain it would never happen. I was certain of this because for as long as I could remember - as long as Canon has been making cameras that can be updated with firmware - they had never issued new functionality updates. Yes, they'd issued fixes for things, but the frame rate limitation wasn't a fix, it was a major addition (and that's regardless whether you think it should have had that feature to begin with.)

    So big egg on my face.

    Stephen Shankland at CNET writes about this new departure, and wonders if this heralds a new era in camera evolution. Will we see more new features added in software, or was this an aberration?

    I'm not certain, but then I've been proved wrong before.

    I'm still waiting for Canon to announce an update for the Canon 7D that adds the histograms and audio features added to the 5D...

    Printing DVDs - Dymo DiscPainter

    Even though I put most of the stuff I shoot on the Web, now and again I have to burn a DVD. And if you want to make a good impression – and who doesn’t? – a disc that’s got a printed label looks a lot better than something you’ve written on with a Sharpie.

    I have an Epson printer, and it does a pretty good job of printing on DVDs/CDs, but the printer itself frustrates me a lot. Having six ink cartridges, it always seems like one of the cartridges is low. And when you replace a cartridge, it goes through a charging cycle (which sucks ink out of the other cartridges) and you often end up having to then replace another cartridge...and then repeat the process.

    Sometimes it feels like the thing is just sucking ink, and not printing anything. That’s not a DVD printing issue, but it is an issue I have with this printer.

    The other problem I have is that the printer can be a little finicky when you insert the plastic carrier with the disc. Every fifth or sixth disc the thing doesn’t feed correctly and you have to wait for it to eject and then line it up and try again.

    It’s annoying, and if I had to print lots of discs I would have probably thrown the thing out the window ages ago.

    A friend has the same kind of issues with his HP printer, and he’s printing 200-300 discs a year, so he’s decided to try the Dymo DiscPainter. On the face of it, the device seems like a good solution: it’s small and designed just for printing on discs. I guess he had a particularly hard time of it this past weekend, and went ahead and ordered it from Amazon ($249.99)

    When he was telling me about it, I was agreeing with his reasoning, and saying that if I was printing more discs, I’d probably buy something like it. But then I went and read the user reviews on Amazon and noticed a few troubling warnings.
    • While it rates 3 out of 5 stars, I think that’s really closer to 2 and a half. The five and four star reviews, with 49 and 18 votes respectively, are almost exactly balanced by the 16 two star and 46 one star reviews.
    • Even those who like the printer acknowledge that print quality is much lower than other printers, and though some think it's because of the number of colors, descriptions of wavy text make it sound like print-head alignment just isn't good enough. One reviewer wrote: When the Discpainter doesn't have to dither, it looks great, just as good as the Epson, but when it does, the image quality looks like a 4 color inkjet from over 5 years ago. And that guy gave it four stars! Another user wrote: I wouldn't use this to label a disk that I was going to give to a client or customer, but it's OK for labeling backups and safety copies and that sort of thing.
    • Lots of problems were reported with the print cartridge drying up and causing streaking or skipped lines.
    • Several users reported the printer doesn't work for Windows 7 or Snow Leopard. [UPDATE] Dymo released updated drivers February 2010 for Snow Leopard, and in March for Windows 7
    I had to go back and ask my friend whether he really read the reviews; and yeah, he seemed okay with them, though when I mentioned the issues with dried out cartridges, it did give him pause. I guess he had assumed all the complaints about image quality were just related to the fewer number of colors.

    I’ll let you know what happens…

    BPSFCLUG Workflow mixer: March 24

    The Boston Final Cut Pro User Group's next meeting will be Wednesday, March 24th, 7:00PM - 10PM (Doors open at 6:30PM)

    The New England Institute of Art
    Room 120-121
    303 Boylston Street
    Brookline, MA 02445-7638

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Canon 5D Mark II firmware is up!

    Firmware Version 2.0.3 incorporates five enhancements to the movie function and a fix to the manual sensor cleaning function of the EOS 5D Mark II camera.
    1. Adds or changes the following movie frame rates.
      1920×1080 : 30 fps (changed - actual 29.97 fps)
      1920×1080 : 24 fps (added - actual 23.976 fps)
      640×480 : 30 fps (changed - actual 29.97 fps)
      1920×1080 : 25 fps (added - actual 25.0 fps)
      1920×1080 : 24 fps (added - actual 23.976 fps)
      640×480 : 25 fps (added - actual 25.0 fps)
    2. Adds a function for manually adjusting the sound recording level (64 levels).
    3. Adds a histogram display (brightness or RGB) for shooting movies in manual exposure.
    4. Adds shutter-priority AE mode (Tv) and aperture-priority AE (Av) mode to the exposure modes for shooting movies.
    5. Changes the audio sampling frequency from 44.1 KHz to 48 KHz.
    6. Fixes a phenomenon where communication between the camera and the attached lens is sometimes interrupted after manual sensor cleaning. (This phenomenon only affects units with Firmware Version 1.2.4.)

    EOS 5D Mark II Firmware Update Version 2.0.3

    UPDATE: Read Philip Bloom's thoughts on the update.

    Here & There

    30fps to 24fps
    Given that the Canon 5D Mark II firmware update is expected tomorrow, it seems appropriate to draw your attention to this post at the ProLost blog about the problems of using software to convert from 30 fps and 24 fps. Appropriate because the article itself was prompted by the upcoming release of the firmware update.
    I’m not saying that you won’t occasionally see results from 30-to-24p conversions that look good. The technology is amazing. But while it can work often, it will fail often. And that’s not a workflow. It’s finger-crossing.
    Check it out because it also includes framegrabs showing how things can get distorted.
    ProLost: Converting 30p to 24p

    Comcast goes 3D
    I'm still trying to figure this 3D thing out (and going over my notes from the seminars I went to on the weekend) but here's some news: Comcast will broadcast the Masters Tournament in 3D April 7-11.
    Don't drop your beer when the ball sales through the screen...

    Canon 5D Mark III in 2011?
    Just when my gadget freak calms down, good old gets it going again with whispers of a Canon 5D Mark III in 2011 (ehh, hardly unexpected) but even more exciting, a new full frame camera below the 5D (the 3D perhaps?)  Oooohhh!!! xxD Not Dead Yet? & More [CR1]

    Workshop: How to Grow and Monetize an Audience For Your Independent Production

    The Boston Final Cut Pro Users Group and The New England Institute of Art, are sponsoring a workshop by Philip Hodgetts on March 23rd 6:30pm - 9:30pm at The New England Insititute of Art, 303 Boylston Street, Brookline, MA.

    How to Grow and Monetize an Audience For Your Independent Production
    Philip Hodgetts
    Since the advent of low cost production equipment almost any project can find a suitable budget. However distribution has not been democratized to the same degree. Learn how others have built substantial and profitable audiences for their independent film and video projects and successfully monetized the audience.

    Learn the common themes and how you can apply them to any independent production.

    Topics to be discussed: We'll examine the ten ways to profit from distributing free content and how others have drawn income from ancilliary products, subscriptions, advertising and direct sales.

    Blogging City Island, part IV

    The fourth part of Raymond De Felitta's series on the making of the movie "City Island" appears in Salon today.

    In this latest installment, the money starts coming in, the train is leaving the station, and suddenly the actors are hitting the exits:
    Why does this happen? Actors, oftentimes, will commit to a role without any real belief that the damn thing will truly happen. Most of the time, after all, movies don't happen. Except then they do. And what seemed like a promising meeting about good material months ago will, upon second look, perhaps appear in a different light and set said actor to posing some introspective questions. Like: Why aren't I getting a better paying gig? Or, where and when does this shoot, and is it going to screw up my vacation plans? Or: I liked this then, but now it stinks. Often it is simply a case of the dance card getting filled up and priorities shifting.
    One major part, the leading lady, was still unfilled two weeks before shooting was to commence. If nothing else, you have to read this to find out the demand that comes after this passage:
    Another long pause as she no doubt contemplated her still-open options. Then she nodded and said: "Well ... a lot of the time it's much more fun for me to just jump into something without overthinking it too much. There's one thing that I really would need from you."

    At this point I'm thinking: ANYTHING!

    Salon: Blogging "City Island": The (leading) lady vanishes

    Blog of short film shot with Canon 7D

    Jeremy Ian Thomas of HDI RAW Works shot a two-day, low-budget film titled “The Chrysalis” using a Canon 7D, Red Rock Micro rig and Zeiss ZE primes lenses. And they video blogged about it; late at night when they were pretty exhausted and/or punchy.

    You'll learn a few things from this; it's really hot in the desert, they were obviously exhausted, they really liked the Zeiss ZE lenses and the H4N Zoom, and there aren't many people in the desert.

    The blog starts here:


    I checked out a short demonstration of Glidecam’s HD series stabilizers at the camera show on Saturday.

    The HD series comes in three models; the $399 HD 1000 (sells for around $329) is for cameras up to 3 pounds. The HD 2000 $499 ($450) is for cameras between 2 and 6 pounds, while the HD 4000 $599 (549) is for cameras between 4 and 10 pounds.

    HD 2000 stabilizer with Canon 7D

    They even had a Canon 7D on an HD 2000, though I can’t help thinking that keeping an SLR in focus on a stabilizer would be a challenge.

    Glidecam has been making stabilizers for seventeen years, and I was surprised to learn that they were based here in Massachusetts. I didn’t know that!

    These models are quite an improvement over the models of ten years ago; the simple washer weights at the bottom have been replaced with custom counter-weights. Even better, the camera mount platform now has a quick-release plate, making it much easier to transport and set up the camera/stabilizer.

    It also seems a lot easier to adjust the balance on these models.

    They showed a video of a guy rollerblading, and I thought that the cameraman must have been running to keep up with him; turns out the camera operator was on rollerblades as well!

    One thing I learned; operating the stabilizer is actually a two-handed operation; one hand holds the stabilizer handle while the other lightly grips the stabilizer post just below the gimbal to change position of the camera as needed.

    These stabilizers aren’t that expensive; though if you’re planning on shooting a lot with them, plan to really build up your arm muscles, or you might have to think about getting a vest and arm. Those start at about $1,400 and go up from there.

    A write-up about the HD-4000 and the X-10 arm can be found here: Gliding in on the HD-4000 and X-10

    Quick-release plate

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    What a fool would do...

    Galen Gruman at InfoWorld writes that Only a fool would pre-order an iPad. He opens with the obvious:
    Why blow $500 to $830 on a device that may not be what you expect? Just wait a mere three weeks to see for sure what it actually does and what surprises, good and bad, Apple has packed into the iPad.
    He then goes on to point out that owners of the original iPod Touch might have gotten the short end of the stick because the Touch was missing lots of features. Which, when you think about it, is actually an argument for not only waiting for the iPad to be in stores, but to wait for version 2 as well.

    And you know what? He's absolutely right. You should wait until it's in stores. In fact, you should wait for version 2. It will be better. Waiting is the smart thing to do.

    And you know what? I don't care. I have no regrets about pre-ordering an iPad.

    I never said I was smart.