Saturday, April 24, 2010

Camcorderinfo reviews Canon HF M31 reviews the Canon HF M31 and describes it as an HF20 with a few updates:
...including a new touchscreen interface and a slick menu redesign. The camcorder captured some high-quality video in our bright light tests, but its low light performance was mostly a disappointment.
Right now, Amazon sells the Canon HF M31 for $799, but the previous generation Canon HF S100 is $699, which might be a better buy, though I must admit that keeping track of the different models and how they compare in quality and feature set is starting to get difficult.

Boston Independent Film Festival

Running mostly today and tomorrow, with some events through Wednesday. There are a couple of interesting panels tomorrow (Sunday, April 25th):
  • 1:00PM The Lef Foundation Presents: Discussing the Documentary
    Featuring filmmakers Chico Colvard (FAMILY AFFAIR), Rebecca Richman Cohen (WAR DON DON), and Henry Corra (THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MCKINLEY NOLAN). Free admission, first come first serve.
  • 3:30PM Making a Feature Film in Massachusetts on an Indie Budget
    Featuring producer Mike Bowes, director Garth Donovan (PHILLIP THE FOSSIL), and Rob Fitz (GOD OF VAMPIRES). Free Admission. First come, first serve.

AC-7 Pro Control Surface for iPad

The AC-7 Pro Control Surface turns the iPad into a wireless control pad for various applications including Logic Pro and Final Cut. Some people report problems getting it setup and that the controls are slow, while others seem to be impressed. Certainly, the demo video below is impressive. It's $10.

I'm sure someone out there is working on a similar tool for Final Cut editing and for Color...

Apple iTunes

MacUpdate deal on Boris Continuum Shaders

MacUpdate offers special one or two-day deals on Mac software packages. A couple of weeks ago I bought a package of six utilities for under $50. Today they have a deal on Boris Continuum Shaders for 67% off ($99)

What They Forgot To Tell You...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hitler clips take down

Constantin Films, owner of the copyright for the movie "The Downfall" has recently started using YouTube's Content ID tools to take down all of the Hitler "parodies" that have popped up over the past few years.

NPR's All Things Considered did a story about it today, though it appears in their The Two-Way blog a couple of days earlier.

There's questions about whether the use of this clip falls under "fair use." While Copyright allows for parodies, it's a little unclear whether these are really parodies in the strictest sense (someone call a lawyer!) One commentor in the original article makes the following point:
Most of these clips are not parodying the movie. Just because they are humorous doesn't make them a parody, and even if they are a parody of something, unless they are a parody of the movie itself, then use of the copyrighted material is not protected by fair use.
[...] Or if you wanted to make fun of a particular movie, in theory you could use part of it to parody it. But if you decide to use a video clip that has nothing to do with that which you are parodying, then that is no longer fair use. Most of these clips have nothing to do with this movie, and are just using the audio and video for free.
NPR: Hitler Rant Take-Downs Raise Fair-Use Questions

Students filming the unseen

The Boston Globe recently posted an article about how Kevin Bright, an Emmy-award winning Producer of the sitcom "Friends," has been working with students at the Boston Perkins School for the Blind, teaching them movie making. The article is interesting for two reasons; one) the story itself, and two) the video story that's hosted on their website along with the article.

Like other newspapers, The Boston Globe has increasingly been including video segments with their stories. Having watched a few of them before, they usually seemed rather short and to the point - little more than standup pieces you might see on the local news.

But this segment is a little more ambitious than that. If nothing else, watch the first minute and see how they have inter-cut a student video with an interview with Bright. This is fairly ambitious, and a step up from the usual local nightly news segments.

The article is credited to Linda Matchan, while the video segment is credited to Producer: Dina Rudick.

The Boston Globe: Student filmmakers capture world they know and can’t see

I wish I had one of these: Tascam DR680

B & H has this habit of sending newsletters with articles about gear I immediately desire. It’s most disturbing. The latest issue includes a review of a Tascam field recorder that can record 8 tracks simultaneously. I have a couple of digital recorders, one even does up to eight tracks, but they both will only record two tracks at a time. Being able to record eight would be pretty useful, though that eight tracks is maybe a bit bogus; the DR-680 has only four XLR inputs and two 1/4" mic/line inputs. The last two tracks are S/PDIF, so for a lot of situations it's more like a 6 track recorder. Still, 6 tracks is pretty impressive.

The Tascam DR-680 can be used without a mixer, though I wonder if people in the field will be happy about the fact that there aren’t separate level controls; it looks like you have to select the track and then use the single control to adjust level. Saves money I guess, but will mean spending more for a mixer for some applications..

Oh, and if that doesn't excite you, maybe you’d like a ribbon mic? There's a comparison of several ribbon mics in a separate article. These ribbon mics aren't cheap (the cheapest is about $700) but they certainly do a nice job recording a cello; there's quite a noticeable difference in the sound to a regular condenser mic.


YouTube offers some movie rentals

YouTube is now offering a variety of movies and TV episodes for rental at A 48 hour rental costs between 99 cents and $3.99. Rental fees are paid through Google Check-out.

Source: ReadWriteWeb: YouTube Video Rental Store Now Open

Sony HXR-MC50E

A video posted by Sony of the HXR-MC50E, a small single-sensor camera to be released around July [A small camera with a nice mic is a good thing, but the price - £2346 in the UK! - seems ridiculous. Meh-Ed]

Sony Professional - Bill Drummond - HXR-MC50E from Sony Professional on Vimeo.

VideoQ&A: Can QuickTime Play AVCHD?

Can QuickTime play AVCHD files?

Also, why is QuickTime 7 the latest info on their site, yet I see QuickTime 10 (X) on my Mac??

Last time I checked, QuickTime Player won’t open or play AVCHD files (.MTS). You can import them into iMovie and Final Cut Pro/Express, but that actually does a recompression of the files before you are able to play them. Interestingly, they will play the AVCHD movies back in the preview window of the import dialog, which makes you wonder why they can’t just put that into Player?!

QuickTime does support the H.264 compressor – which is the one used in AVCHD – but it won’t play back AVCHD files.

QuickTime 7 or X
When Apple rolled out Snow Leopard, they also released QuickTime X, which rewrote the underlying technologies within QuickTime, though I don't think it dramatically changed the underlying functionality. You can read about that on the Snow Leopard page, but I don’t know why the QuickTime page hasn’t been updated to reflect this….interestingly you have to work to find that information; the search widget on Apple’s site doesn’t bring it up as a choice off the top!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

EditFest NY June 11-12 2010

I just got a notice about EditFeat NY today, and it looks interesting. You can find video clips from last years event here.

EditFest NY, the east coast version of American Cinema Editor’s EditFest series is returning June 11-12, 2010.

Attendees - including professional editors, production executives, network and studio staff, fledgling assistants and content creators - will participate in panels and Q&A sessions. They’ll listen to, learn from and engage with the most respected, award winning editors of feature films and television. Attendees, VIPs, sponsors and panelists will also mingle at the highly anticipated opening night reception.

Dates: June 11 - 12, 2010
Location: Director's Guild of America Theater @ W57th Street
Cost: $349 per person - $249 for students, members of partner organizations, Mewshop Six Week Alumni and EditFest previous attendees.

My MacBook always gets so hot playing Flash video...

Adobe's been doing a bunch of things with GPU acceleration lately (the Mercury Playback Engine in Adobe Creative Suite 5 for example) and they are using it to improve Flash playback performance.

We all know that Flash playback on the Mac could do with some serious help, but Adobe has been saying that Apple needed to do some things in the OS so that Flash could do what it needed to do.

So now, maybe they have. At least, that's what Michael Tsai thinks.

Does this mean we don't need to get involved with HTML 5?

Engadget reviews: Toshiba Camileo S20

Engadget spends a little time with the new Toshiba Calielo S20, and they seemed to be happy with the 720p performance in good light, though they found the controls confusing and the interface frustrating. The zoom - which is only available in 720p mode - is difficult to control, and while they say it has a stabilization mode the footage they have posted appears very shaky (perhaps they didn't have the mode on?)

At $149.99 (at Amazon: Toshiba Camileo S20) maybe it's not a bad deal, but their conclusion (that the Flip or Kodak Zi8 were easier to use, and the Xacti VPC-CS1 a better performer) does suggest that any decision will be based on trade-offs.

A while back a friend loaned me a DXG camcorder he'd bought. He was disappointed with the video quality, particularly in poor light. I used it for a video shoot as the fifth camera (on the floor, shooting the drummers foot!) and I was actually quite happy with what it produced. For a quick cut-away to another angle it was perfect. I wouldn't want to use it as the primary camera for something, but for an extra angle at a shoot a small inexpensive camera can be quite useful...

vReveal video image enhancement

vReveal is a budget Windows tool for removing shake and other image issues from video. They just released Version 2.0, which now supports HD video, and is available in a free version (vReveal) with a subset of features that only outputs at 480p, as well as a premium version for $39 (vReveal Premium.) See: Feature set.

Both versions support CUDA-enabled NVIDIA graphics processors (GPUs), making it possible for virtually real-time image enhancement.

The samples look interesting; if somewhat over-sharpened. Unfortunately, I don’t think the $399 Dell laptop I have has an NVIDIA graphics processor, but I’m going to download the trial and see how it works…and see how it compares to the shake removal in iMovie...

News from here and there

Tweet to Win a Switronix Flex DSLR Remote
I'm not a big Twitter fan, but if you are, you might want to check out Cinema5D's campaign to get thousands of people to tweet the exact same message to all their friends. Win a $150 DSLR remote.

O'Connor CFF-1 (Cine Follow Focus One)
If you have $4,500 to spend, then the recently announced O'Connor CFF-1 Follow Focus might just be the thing for you.

Peachpit CS5 online resource
Peachpit has just opened their "online resource center for Adobe CS5" that looks suspiciously just like an online book store. But you can see sample chapters for some of the books, including Adobe After Effects CS5 Classroom in a Book.
Amazon lists it for $44.25 (26% off) but it's not supposed to be available until June: Adobe After Effects CS5 Classroom in a Book

F-Stop Academy: NAB reports & Canon 5D Firmware video
Still trying to figure out what the new firmware update does for the Canon 5D Mark II? F-STOP Academy has a four minute video.
On the same page they also have videos from NAB featuring a bunch of new equipment like the Kata Airbag, the new Manfrotto head, Redrock Micro stuff, etc., etc.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vincent Laforet - 3 day HDDSLR workshop - streaming

Vincent Laforet is giving a 3 day HDDSLR cinema workshop starting April 30th, and creativeLIVE is streaming it on the web. You can watch the stream live for free, or you can "purchase" a copy afterwards for $79 if you miss some or all of it.

Movies are dying....television lives?!

Screenwriting guru Robert McKee in a recent interview talks about the biggest mistake noive screenweiters make:
The biggest mistake is that they will try to adapt to whatever is trendy
...tells writers that want full creative control to go into theater:
if somebody writing for the screen actually thinks that their greatest creative efforts is in dialogue, then they should be writing for the stage where every single word of your dialogue, by law, has to be spoken by the actors. So, it just overstates it.
...and though he thinks that storytelling will always survive, it's future may not as films:
There are art forms that rise up and dominate a period of time in human history and then recede. And so film goes through that and recedes. So what, because there will always be story. And the medium of the future, I think, is television.
read more: Screenwriting guru tells all

Jeffrey Katzenberg on "The Colbert Report"

Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO Dreamworks was on The Colbert Report last night. When asked about his statement that every single movie they do from now on will be in 3D:
Because it’s how we see, and 3D is probably the greatest innovation that’s happened for the movie theaters and for moviegoers since color.
Nothing truly shattering came out of this other than Katzenberg admitting he’s one of the 10% that can get nauseous watching 3D, and a “wiggler” 3D sequence they did (rapidly switching between two cameras.)

Colbert: What’s better: a great 2D movie, or the worst 3D movie?

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Final Cut Server 1.5.2 - update

This update is recommended for all users of Final Cut Server 1.5 and 1.5.1. The issues addressed include:

  • Fixes an issues that blocked the use of a transcode setting for the Matrox CompressHD H.264 encoding card
  • Fixes an expiring Java certificate in the Final Cut Server Java Client Fixes an issue that blocked the use of a transcode setting for the Matrox CompressHD H.264 encoding card

Apple Release Notes: Final Cut Server 1.5.2

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Canon 5D/7D Bootcamp in LA April 24th

There's a 5 hour hands-on DSLR bootcamp this Saturday from 1-6pm. Cost is $350.

1st Video - iPhone Video Editor

Hand Held Hollywood has a short video demonstrating the upcoming 1st Video editor from Vericorder. The video demos creating an assemble edit, trimming clips, adjusting the audio volume and even adding an audio fade out. That app gives great demo! Unfortunately, they didn't show (or ask about) transitions or titling.

It's really very impressive; though I'm tempted to wonder how much I should get invested in editing on the iPhone....also, I wonder what resolution video the next iPhone will capture at, and will I have to buy the app all over again to support higher resolution?! [their website talks about a "pro" version that will edit HD video]

1st Video should be out soon - according to the developer it's all in Apple's hands - and will have an introductory price of about $10. Looks cool.

Kata comes up with an Air Bag for cameras

I'd previously posted about Kata's new bag announcements at NAB: the D-Light Capsules and the Pro-Light Resource-61. Seems they had another trick up their sleeves: inflatable bags for carrying your camcorder! There are two models, the ABS-HDV and the ABS-HD that fold up into a pouch "no larger than a book" and are inflated by blowing into a tube....
This simple inflatable protective casing comes folded up in a compact pouch no larger than a book. When on board with your camcorder it takes approximately 1 minute to inflate, wrap up your camcorder and stow it in the over head bin. This is inflatable protection not a camcorder bag, so while on the go use the camcorders strap or handle to carry and upon arriving at your destination it should be deflated and packed away in your working bag.

Here's the instructions for use:
  1. Manually inflate air bag halfway using the inflation tube.
  2. Place the camcorder inside the bag
  3. Buckle the bag and zip up leaving the camcorder handle or the strap accessible. Inflate to roughly 75% capacity to protect during flight.
While it's certainly a novel idea, I can't help thinking that an inflatable bag is just asking for trouble; it might offer more protection when new - and as long as it isn't too stressed - but it probably won't fail gracefully.

But I really hope someone gets one and posts a review!

Hearst's "Next Generation Newsroom Project"

Traditional media is scrambling to adapt to the online world, as well as cut costs in the face of falling revenue. Television news is suffering along with everyone else, and stations are moving to smaller gear, smaller teams, and quicker turn-around times.

I just came across a release from JVC promoting Hearst Television’s standardization on the JVC GY-HM100 for their Next Generation Newsroom Project. Interestingly, the GY-HM100 is JVC’s smaller 3-chip camera; costing about $3,500.

The Next Generation Newsroom Project is oriented towards providing live streaming video to the Web, in addition to generating edited packages for broadcast. Hearst says the teams do not replace traditional news crews, but instead augment station coverage.

The teams have a portable kit built around a GY-HM100 ProHD camcorder and a Dell laptop with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 [what? They have CS5 already?! –Ed]. The news packages are recorded and edited in HD, then downconverted to SD for FTP transport back to the station for the local news broadcast.

After a pilot project in three stations last year, the project was launched in 2010 with deployments at WPBF in West Palm Beach, FL, and KETV in Omaha, NE. Six additional Hearst stations are now using the GY-HM100 camcorder: KMBC in Kansas City, MO, WLWT in Cincinnati, OH, WISN in Milwaukee, WI, WGAL in Lancaster, KOCO in Oklahoma City, OK, and KCCI in Des Moines, IA.

WMUR in Manchester, NH, and WESH in Orlando, will deploy GY-HM100s within the month and Hearst plans to purchase GY-HM100 camcorders for at least six more stations in 2010.


Redrock Micro price increases

It seems that's Redrock Micro increased it's prices last week by 20-35% (at least on their website.) Sellers like B & H seem to still be selling gear at the older prices (for example the Captain Stubling is still $975 at B & H, but is $1,152 at Redrock, and the Event DSLR is $640 vs 850.)

It's unclear how this might trickle through, but it's a significant change in price, so if you're thinking on getting a Redrock rig in the next month or so, you might want to look into it now.

[UPDATE] Reader bvalente points out that some prices have actually decreased, and some have stayed the same, so check Redrocks pricelist carefully!

Say it ain't so - next Bond movie development halted

I'm a fan of the Bond franchise; even when the movies don't always live up to expectations. And even though the last one was disappointing (I thought Casino Royale was pretty good, but Quantum of Solace was just a lot of stuff going on for no good reason) I was still looking forward to the next one. Unfortunately, EON Productions has announced suspension of development:
Due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development on BOND 23 indefinitely. We do not know when development will resume and do not have a date for the release of BOND 23.
Oh no! MGM in financial trouble again?! Isn't that a permanent state of affairs for them?!

Samsung NX10 reviewed by Camcorderinfo - not liked took a look at the Samsung NX10 SLR, which supports interchangeable lenses and can capture video at 720p (and appears to be limited to 30p.) Though it did well in color, they didn't like how it reproduced motion:
The Samsung NX10 did do well in some of our video testing—particularly in the area of color accuracy. Unfortunately, however, the video captured by the camera didn't look all that good compared to what a Full HD camcorder is capable of producing. The NX10 also had a stubborn rolling shutter issue that produced a wobble effect whenever the camera was used to pan from side-to-side.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Katzenberg to be on Colbert Report April 20th

Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, will be on The Colbert Report on Tues, April 20th. Wonder if he'll talk about 3D?

Interview with Executive Producer of "House" Greg Yaitanes

The season finale of House was shot on a Canon 5D mkII. Philip Bloom spoke with Executive Producer and Director Greg Yaitanes. You can listen to the audio here.

[UPDATE] Corrected my confusion about who the interview was with!

Never fear; the next release of Final Cut "will be awesome"

Feeling kind of down because Adobe Creative Suite 5 makes your Final Cut Studio Suite 3 look a little tired and stale? Well, never fear! Mike Contaxis dropped Steve Jobs an email complaining about Final Cut, concerned about layoffs he'd heard about, and wondering if they still care about Final Cut even though it doesn't run on the iPad.

Steve popped back the following response:

We certainly do. Folks who left were in support, not engineering. Next release will be awesome.

So there you go...nothing to worry about!

Dede Allen, Film Editor 1923-2010

Dede Allen, editor for movies such as Dog Day Afternoon, The Hustler, Reds, Bonnie & Clyde and The Breakfast Club died April 17. Allen was one of the pioneers of the use of audio overlaps in edits (sometimes called an L-Cut.) Notably, when she was nominated for Bonnie and Clyde she was the first film editor - male or female - to receive sole credit for editing a movie.

After many years editing film, she learned to edit on Avid, and used it on the movie Wonder Boys. She said of editing digitally: The greatest disadvantage I can think of is that you don't screen your material as much as you used to. I'd do a lot of memorizing and somehow the availability of the exact pieces that I had memorized made the process seem, ironically, more immediate.


Intellect and taste count, but I cut with my feelings.
-Dede Allen

April 25th is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day


Have at it...

A little closer to home

With all those workshops in Europe Philip Bloom is doing making me wish I lived there, it's good to see there something going on a little closer to home:

This Wednesday's Rule Workshop is PRODUCTION AUDIO FOR HD-SLR CAMERAS
Rule's Senior Engineer Tim Coughlan will review audio recording options for shooting with Digital SLR cameras featuring new-style-solid-state recorders such as the Marantz PMD661, Sound Devices 744T and Zaxcom ZFR-100.

So if you're in Boston on Wednesday, check it out. As luck would have it, my car is going in the shop that day, so I won't be able to go!

Qik Video Camera Pro - free (at the moment)

I wrote about the Qik Videocamera app for the iPhone a while back. Well, the app disappeared from the app store about a week ago, but now there's a new and improved version - Qik Videocamera Pro - available. MacWorld has the details.

Best part is - at least at the moment - you can download it for free. So hurry over to iTunes app store while you can!

MacWorld reviews Samsung HMX-H104

And though it's not that expensive - about $400 - they don't care for it:
The HMX-H104 is stylish and feature-packed, but it simply doesn’t deliver the kind of high-quality HD images we expect. It’s also full of interface quirks that take some getting used to, and its SSD doesn’t really offer any benefit over conventional flash memory or hard drive storage.

Canon XF300 first reports

The Canon XF300 is not expected until late June but Brian Rhodes has posted at the forum a clip taken using the XF300 at NAB last week. He has also added his thoughts on the performance of the camera compared to a Sony EX1. Note that the models shown at NAB were pre-release models, and he said that he couldn't get the white balance to work on the XF300.
The Sony seems to be a stop faster than the Canon.
The footage was shot 1080 24p 48 with iris wide open. The Canon is lighter than the EX1 with a better (CG ) center of gravity; its very well balanced. I like the lens better on the EX1 it has a better feel to me. The Canons 4.0-inch color LCD with 1,230,000 dots is a huge improvement over the G1s and the A1s model. It opens to the left or right, as well as rotating and tilting forward 35°.
I got a chance to shoot some Rez and color charts courtesy of Canon. The XF300 displayed lines up to approx. 1200. There was no IR contamination in the blacks on the color chart and there was clear delineation in the color spectrum. On the side by side footage you can see the guys black jacket looks brownish on the Sony Ex1 vs. Black with the Canon XF300. Canon XF300 Sony PMW EX1 low light

Sunday, April 18, 2010

HD SLR workshops in Toronto, London and Florida. Meetup in New York

Philip Bloom reports on several upcoming workshops he's involved with:

And if you're in New York April 28th, he's planning a West Coast Meetup.

[UPDATED 4/19] He's now added two day-long classes in Oslo for 19th and 21st of May, and an evening masterclass on the 20th. Booking closes on April 30th.