Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sony NEX-5 write-up

David Kilpatrick at Photoclub Alpha has a pretty good walk-around of the NEX-5, though he doesn't go too much into the video aspects. He does mention that the clip length for 1080 video is unlimited - except by memory size...
Photoclub Alpha: What's NEX

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Friday Edition

In ""Best Worst Movie": The cult of the truly bad film" Sam Adams posits that there is "a select class of movies so sublimely, ecstatically dreadful that the standard criteria no longer apply." Of course he thinks he's found one in Troll 2:
What distinguishes "Troll 2" and its ignominious ilk from run-of-the-mill failures is the sheer scale of their awfulness, a level of misconception and malexecution so profound that it inspires a perverse kind of awe. Anyone can make crap, but the proverbial horde of monkeys tapping away at their infinite typewriters might well produce "Hamlet" before they came up with this soiled pearl, from the opening of "Plan 9 From Outer Space": "We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friends, future events such as these will affect you in the future." You could scour acting classes across the country and never find performances as slack-jawed and zombified as those in "Troll 2."
Salon"Best Worst Movie": The cult of the truly bad film

[Meanwhile, if you had time to see only one mindless blockbuster this weekend, which would it be? "Iron Man 2" or "Robin Hood"?]

News from Here & There

Marshall 5" V-LCD50-HDMI
If you're thinking of getting a monitor for your HDSLR, but have been put off by the high cost of Marshall's 8" monitors, then their new 5" monitor, the V-LCD50-HDMI, might be just the thing. It's small, light, runs on four "AA" batteries and costs $600!

Jared Abrams at Cinema5D took a tour around their factory and has a video up, which is interesting; though I think the music is a little bit over the top; it's a factory tour, not the final battle scene in "Lord of the Rings"!
Cinema5D: Marshall Electronics Factory Tour. New 5″ HDMI Monitor

Sony NEX-5 sample videos has write-ups about the coming Sony cameras. They also have a sample video on YouTube taken using a full production NEX-5 and you can download the movie exported as a high quality H.264 Quicktime MOV video from iMovie (it's 300MB).
[UPDATE] Having looked at the video, my initial reaction was surprise at how wobbly the video was...I guess it was a windy day: there was a lot of wind noise on the mic! The lens it was shot with, the 18-55mm lens, is supposed to have internal optical stabilization (the camera body itself does not have stabilization, but some lenses have it built in) but it was hard to tell!
DPReview: Sony NEX-5 video

More on Canon 5D Mark II Firmware update 2.0.4 troubles
I noted back in early April reports of a problem in the the 2.0.4 firmware that caused the aperture of some lenses to change as focus was changed.  The 5D Mark II Team continues to update their report on this, and sent along the following:
We have updated the Report of the malfunction found on Firmware 2.0.4, including more video tests that clearly show the problem.

- It can be found here: Malfunction in Firmware 2.0.4 UPDATE

- We also elaborated and published a List of Lenses Affected by this iris issue.

There IS a clear issue on Firmware 2.0.4, very easy to reproduce, that will be fixed by Canon in the near future.

Some comments posted in the past at arguing this iris behavior is normal, are completely wrong. Some people didn't take enough time to read and watch the reports and videos carefully, so they misunderstood the problem. In fact the "iris jitter" does also affect some non-Macro lenses too, as shown on the updated report.

We hope Canon not only fixes this issue, but also includes some additional features in the next firmware update.

We encourage all users who experience this issue to report it to Canon and also request the most important improvements they need for the 5D Mark II.

Feel free to post your experiences in our blog too.

Is Apple stifling innovation?
Jack Nack of Adobe, in his blog post Absolute Power vs. the Pirate Flag raises the question; does Apple have too much power with it's ability to reject apps, and frames it differently; how much innovation is being stifled? How many companies think about developing a super image processing or video editing app, but decide not to because they worry that Apple will reject it...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

WESTDOC: West Coast Documentary and Reality Conference 2010

Another announcement: The WESTDOC Conference (the West Coast Documentary and Reality Conference 2010) will be held September 13-15, 2010, Santa Monica.

Register before May 31st for $699. Then it goes up $50 every month to $895. There's no agenda yet, but you can see a list of speakers, and Philip Bloom is going to be doing a masterclass...

First Annual Boston SuperMeet

It seems that today's the day for meeting/show announcements. And this is the BIG one; SuperMeet comes to Boston on June 25th. If you're a digital video editor living in the greater Boston area, you'll want to come to this one!
The agenda for the Boston SuperMeet is expected to be finalized about 3 weeks before the event. However, Rodney Charters ASC, DOP of the hit TV show “24” will be on hand to discuss Canon DSLR workflow as well as show footage. Autodesk will present the high-quality editorial finishing system, “Smoke for Mac OSX.” In addition there will be user driven show and tells, FCP tips and Tricks and workflow solutions and more!
Tickets are $10: Register here.

Never mind the NEX-3 & -5, I want an NEX-7 reports that Sony has a NEX-7 waiting in the wings which will put the just announced NEX-3 & 5 to shame. Reportedly the camera will feature full manual control, a revised sensor, and:
  • 1080p@60
  • 1080p@24
  • 720p@120fps and 60p
Wow! 60p at 1080 and 120 at 720?! Be still my heart! The report suggests the camera won't come out until the end of the year, and that they are holding back - in part - to see what Panasonic has up their sleeves for the GH1 replacement, and also to release updates to their Alpha range with video capabilities.

No idea what this means - if anything - to the report of a camcorder body that will work with these lenses.

Sony certainly seems to be taking this whole video thing more seriously. Sony NEX7 to rival GH2 in September?

Boston Final Cut Pro meeting - May 27th

The next BOSFCPUG Workflow Mixer will be held on Thursday, May 27th at AUTODESK in Waltham.

[UPDATE - it's gone now]- NOTE: the current listing has an erroneous paragraph at the beginning about what's being covered! Look to the AGENDA further down for details!

Here's the highlights of the agenda:
  • Colin Smith of ADOBE will be in the house to show you all that's new in Adobe Production Premium CS5. See the new Mercury Playback Engine in action!
  • Graham Sharp of AV3 Software will show off one of the most talked about new applications which made its debut at the recent NAB, "get." "get" is a phonetic search application that works in conjunction with FCP.
Registration is free for this months meeting!

News from Here & There

James Caan to host webcam chat about how to get into "the biz"
Actor and Chairman of Openfilm, James Caan (Las Vegas, The Godfather, El Dorado) will be hosting a live online webcam chat to answer questions sent in from fans and filmmakers about everything from how to get into "the biz" to expert-level advice, and reflections and anecdotes about his career.
Thursday May 20, Noon - 1 pm PTRegister to watch here.

According to their About Us page, Openfilm is an independent film community company dedicated to developing, marketing and distributing great works.

What the hey?! - Canon pimps HDV video
Even though they've announced some cool solid-state professional camcorders, Canon obviously sees a continuing future for their HDV cameras. They just sent out a press-release about producer Randall Dark and his use of the Canon HDV camera, the XL H1S. Actually, it's an interesting little piece about using the camera, worth a read, though the last section: "The Advantage of Tape" is notable:
"We are in a transitional period with regard to recording media," Dark said. "I've spent 23 years shooting high definition and recording it to tape, and I can honestly say I have never had a problem with losing content on tape. I have, on occasion, risked my life to get images, and I'm not afraid to do that. What I am afraid of is losing content due to media failure.[emphasis added] I love the fact that the Canon XL H1S enables me to record to tape, which I can then transfer to my preferred brand of hard drives. I'm confident in those hard drives, and I also like having tape as a back-up. It's prudent to always protect your assets. There's a great opportunity today to do things cost-effectively by using both tape and hard drives if you understand how to use them efficiently together. I shoot with my XL H1S, transfer that tape footage to hard drives, and it makes my workflow unbelievably easy."
Anyone reading that might think Canon was warning them away from solid-state cameras. Heavens! This is what I would expect from a company that didn't have a solid-state camera coming out in less than a month, not from Canon who does.

It's a little puzzling; are they intentionally trying to confuse their customers? Was this written before they came out with the XF305, or is this the HDV division fighting with the solid-state division? Conspiracy theorists; have at it!

I'm not saying that HDV is a bad thing, or what they are saying is wrong, or even that they should be driving their customers away from HDV. I just find it interesting how difficult and confusing these transitions can be both for customers and for manufacturers, and this article, given it doesn't even mention their new cameras, I find especially puzzling.

Shootonline: Canon U.S.A. XL H1S High Definition Camcorder Chosen For Multiple Video Projects by Veteran Producer Randall Dark

2010 Rule Boston Camera Tech Expo

Rule Boston Camera is holding their first Annual Tech Expo, and it's being held in in two New England locations:
  • Tuesday, June 22nd 5pm to 9pm, Rule Boston
  • Thursday, June 24th 10am to 3pm, Highlander Inn, Manchester NH

Vendors include:
  • Anton Bauer
  • Apple
  • Avid
  • Bogen/Manfrotto
  • Canon
  • Fujinon
  • Matrox
  • Panasonic
  • Sennheiser
  • Sony
  • Steadicam
  • Tiffen/Lowel
What? No Zeiss?! They say that more vendors will be added, so we'll see what develops...

RSVP by June 11

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hitchcock & his dog

Shooting Canon DSLRs on a movie set

Philip Bloom has written up his report of being on a movie set for Lucasfilm and shooting using Canon DSLRs. Lots of pictures and a behind the scenes video too!
So everyone and their dogs are getting Canon DSLRs and are shooting everything from our home videos to blockbusters on them apparently. But, what is the reality of going down this route and what do you need to be aware of and what advantages can be gained from using them?

Film & Video News

YouTube lets you post semi-private movies
Previously, YouTube videos were either Public (everyone can see them) or Private (only specific YouTube users can see them.) Now they have added an Unlisted option; this gives you the URL of the movie, which you can share with those you want to, but others won't be able to find the video (unless they are given the URL.)
CNET: YouTube gets useful 'unlisted' video option

What's on at Cannes?
Can't make it to Cannes? Andrew O'Hegir at Salon provides a look at what's going on, why Cannes Film Festival lacks glitz and glamour, and some of the more interesting movies being shown there.
Salon: Cannes this film festival be saved?

Hurt Locker producers to put the hurt on pirates
From The Hollywood Reporter:
We've learned that the producers of the Oscar-winning "The Hurt Locker" are preparing a massive lawsuit against thousands of individuals who pirated the film online. The case could be filed as soon as tomorrow.
And in other its-not-a-good-decade-to-be-a-pirate news, Hollywood studios are backing Viacom in their suit against YouTube for violating copyright law, and a federal court has found that Limwire is liable for copyright infringement.

Coppola on 3D: It's 'Tiresome"
“I personally do not want to watch a movie with glasses. It’s tiresome.”
ElectronicHouse: Francis Ford Coppola: 3D is ‘Tiresome’

Happy Birthday - Kate

On what would have been her 103rd birthday, the U.S. Postal Service has issued a commemorative stamp for Katharine Hepburn.
"With the Katharine Hepburn commemorative stamp as the newest in our Legends of Hollywood series, we continue our proud tradition of honoring the special people who epitomize our nation's character and aspirations," said Postmaster General John E. Potter. "Katharine Hepburn will be remembered for generations, for both her unparalleled acting ability and being a role model for women who chose to live life on their own terms."
Katherine Hepburn: Wikipedia, IMBD

[Two of my favorite movies starring Katharine Hepburn are The African Queen & Desk Set. It's interesting that in both movies she's starring with somewhat cantankerous leading men! Desk Set is probably lesser known, but if you like a comedy about computers putting people out of work, then it should appeal to you! Desk Set is only available on DVD, but The African Queen was recently re-issued, and is available on DVD and Blu-ray.]

[UPDATE] Corrected spelling!

Stereo and Surround Sound Audio Recording

Sam Mallery has written a piece for B&H Insights on audio recording.  In Why and When to Use a Stereo Mic on a Camera, he focuses on consumer microphones for video-enabled DSLR cameras, and consumer cameras with 1/8” mini-plug inputs. He promises a later article on professional stereo microphones that connect with XLR jacks.

Products covered include the Audio Technica Pro-24CM ($63.19), with a Windtech MM1 softie ($29.95), with passing references to the Sennheiser MKE400 ($199.95), R0DE Stereo VideoMic ($249), and Azden SMX-10 ($64.95).

I'm a big believer in getting better audio, and adding an external mic to your kit is a big step forward; particularly if you can get it off the camera. But I'd rather save up for a good wireless mic, and I'm not convinced that a stereo mic is really necessary; maybe it's a good interim step.

One thing I did learn; I wasn't aware that some Sony cameras without a microphone plug may work with the Pearstone Microphone Adapter for Sony Camcorder Hot Shoe ($49.99).
The Pearstone Microphone Adapter for Sony Camcorder Hot Shoe frees you up from being limited to Sony's proprietary microphones by allowing you to use your own external microphone. This adapter, similar to the Sony VMC-K100, works with any Sony camcorder that has an Active Interface Hot Shoe (AIS). Simply connect the adapter to the camcorder's Active Interface shoe and connect your microphone jack to the side of the adapter. Please note, when the adapter is connected to the hot shoe, the camcorder's built-in microphone is disabled.

Personally, I'd recommend this earlier article on recording dual sound with a Zoom H4n (or similar): Tips for Using the Zoom H4n in a DSLR Video Shoot

Two channels not enough for you? How about 5.1? Kevin Reylek writes Surrounded! Recording 5.1 Surround Sound to your Camcorder with Holophone which looks at this unusual microphone.
The PortaMic 5.1 is an egg-shaped microphone with a standard shoe mount that allows you to capture 5.1 surround sound from a single unit mounted on top of your camera. It has 6 built-in microphones that capture left, center, and right channels in the front, left and right channels in the rear, and a subwoofer channel.
This is a $598.95 device - and that's the cheapest option - the PortaMic 5.1 Pro costs $899, and this article - unfortunately - isn't really a review. For more about what it's like actually using this kind of mic, you should check out one the review below:

[UPDATE] Reader jiredale drew my attention to the $89.95 Cascade Audio Vive. Can't argue with the price! There's a review of it at

Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5 up for pre-order

You can preorder the NEX-3 and NEX-5 at B&H Photo Video:
Delivery expected in June.

Interestingly, looking at the specs for the two cameras, they seem to be identical except for the body (the NEX-3 is polycarbonate, while the NEX-5 is magnesium alloy), and the video specs: the NEX-3 is MP4 1280 x 720 9Mbps, while the NEX-5 is AVCHD 1920 x 1080i 17Mbps or MP4 1440 x 1080i 12Mbps.

If I had the itch to get one of these - and I don't! - maybe I'd get the NEX-3, and wait for the video camera body they are promising!

News from Here & There

Vincent Laforet interview
The website Jag35 posts an interview with Vincent Laforet on switching from photography to filmmaking, shot at NAB.

Zeiss Cine CP.2 lense dealers
Interested in the new Zeiss Compact Prime lenses? You can find a dealer using the Find a Dealer link on their Cinematography page. Seems that mine is B & H Photo/Video. I'm going to have to save a bit for this set: Zeiss Compact Prime Cinema Lenses (7-Lens Kit) $27,405

The 3D World
While some people worry about the Health Issues related to watching 3D video, manufacturers keep on rolling out product; here comes Sharp with a tiny 3D Camera Module. Looking at the picture, is that actually a stereo lens module, or is that just the processing module and the lens is separate - doesn't seem to have much interaxil distance.

TomTom Darth Vader recording
I can't decide if this is hilariously amazing or just another sell-out. It's probably both:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Broadcast Pix - iPixPanel app available

Broadcast Pix has an iPad app, and though they announced it a while back, it's finally available in the app store - for $199! (You need a Broadcast Pix to make it work too!)

iPad app

iPix app in action

Apple iTunes

Lens Correcting Video in PhotoShop CS5 Extended

This tip was just posted by the author's of From Still to Motion on their Facebook page:
You can now use the Lens Correction filter on your DSLR video.
  1. Open Video Clip.
  2. Choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters
  3. Choose Filter > Lens Correction.
You can fix vignette, perspective, warping, pincushion, barrel, and other distortion. Specific lens profiles too.

Sony Interchangeable Lens HD Camcorder

In the excitement/distraction of the NEX-5 announcements I really didn't pay close attention to the other announcement from Sony of an HD Camcorder due sometime later in the year(?)

But check the website, and the little movie. Seems that the camera will share lenses with the NEX-5; and is that the body of an NEX-5 or -3 flying off the lens at the beginning before the "camcorder" body is attached?

OK, maybe Canon should be nervous...

Yanobox releases Nodes for FxFactory

Yanobox Nodes is a visual effects generator that works inside the FxFactory platform and will run on Adobe After Effects CS3 / CS4 / CS5, Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion and Apple Final Cut Express.

Think of it as an infographic generator on steroids.

Nodes, can distribute graphics and text in 3D space into various shapes such as spheres, circles, and spirals and connect them with a succession of dancing lines and curves. You can also add custom images to nodes.

Yanobox Nodes Feature Highlights
  • Fly through hundreds of nodes, or design minimalistic eye catching motion titles quickly and easily.
  • Populate the text, explore the whole stage, and then highlight individual elements featuring information from the moving 3D forms.
  • Connect the nodes with several modes or script specific connections. Draw growing lines, curved lines, or curved tubes between nodes with a single slider.
  • Map symbols, soft shapes, or a custom image to the nodes. Add vibrant shades with the versatile color module.
  • Easily manage texture size on the fly to optimize speed and quality.
Yanobox Nodes is available for $99 USD via the Noise Industries website. A trial version is also included with the standard FxFactory installer.

There's a demo reel on YouTube, though the tutorial (below) does just as good a job of conveying some of the things it can do, while also showing how you work with it.

It's all in the name...

Jared Abrams at Cinema5D seems to think we should (and have) settled on a name for Digital SLRs that shoot video: HDSLR! See: Finally We have A Name. HDSLR!

Certainly, HDSLR seems to have fallen in vogue in the last two weeks - I've been using it myself - and two weeks in this field is a life time.

But back in March Philip Bloom did a poll on what term to use and got some interesting results. The three top vote getters were:
  • DSLR 42%
  • HDSLR 22%
  • HD-DSLR 16%
DSLR? My Canon 10D is a DSLR! Did people not understand the question?! I'd get rid of DSLR and give it to the second-place getter (HDSLR!) but HDSLR got half the votes for DSLR. See: What's in a name?

Phil had also included V-DSLR, DSLR-V and VD-SLR, (which sounds like a disease), but there was no VideoSLR, which would be my preference if we could start all over again.

But we're all over thinking this. There's a much better term to use: Camera.

Documentary Scholarship to Ecudaor is holding it's 2010 Travel Documentary Scholarship to the Amazon competition through August 1st. Submit a 3-minute documentary and you could get to work alongside documentary producer Trent O'Donnell as he makes a documentary on Sustainable Tourism. You'll also get to create your own short - 3 minutes! - video documentary.

According to the website: Anyone can apply - this is open to film students, lovers of film or anyone who's trying to build a career in documentary making! Find rules and more information here.

Sony NEX-5 updates

Well it's official. You can fine links and summaries of reviews/previews of the NEX-5 at Crunchgear. Seems that dpreview got beaten to the punch for a full review and they aren't happy:
Having spent a considerable amount of time producing previews of both cameras we were slightly surprised this morning to see full reviews of the NEX-5 on another sites who were apparently given production cameras (which we were promised but never received). We only received pre-production models and honored Sony's request not to publish images.
I figure they are referring to the LetsGoDigital review[?] Or is it the Imaging Resource review? hard to tell what's a preview, over-view, review or hand-on review these days.

LetsGoVideo says of the video:
the Sony NEX-5 is able to record video in 1920x1080, 17Mbps resolution. The Sony NEX-3 supports a maximum video resolution of 1280x720, 9Mbps.
Imaging Resource says:
the Sony NEX series are the first interchangeable lens digital cameras designed to tackle continuous autofocus and exposure adjustment while recording video [...]
Sony says the new E-Mount lenses have silent focus and silent, continuous aperture control. See our Optics tab for a more thorough writeup of Sony's new approach, as well as our completed test results for both kit lenses.
DigitalCameraInfo says:
The NEX-5 can handle 1920 x 1080 video at 60i, storing the results as AVCHD files, and MP4 files (1440x1080, 30p or 640x480, 30p resolutions)
It's certainly an interesting looking camera (the NEX-5) but I don't think it's going to have Canon up at night worrying too much; no 30p at 1920, no 24p, the limited number of lenses (at least at the moment.)

[UDPATE] All the sites I've seen say it's 1080i, but there's some discussion on forums that it's 'p.' The designation of 60i is pretty specific (a 1080 60p camera is very unlikely) so at the moment I'm guessing it is 60i...

One last thought: The design of the camera reminds me of the old Sony DSC-F717 camera body design: a big lens with a small body hanging off the end. The NEX has lost a bit of weight, but it's kind of similar.

Panasonic Road Show

Panasonic is hosting the When It Counts Road Show starting May 20th and ending sometime in August. Locations and dates are:
  • Thursday, May 20 Los Angeles, CA
  • Thursday, May 27 San Francisco, CA
  • Thursday, June 3 Phoenix, AZ
  • Thursday, June 10 Miami, FL
  • June date TBD Washington DC
  • Thursday, June 24 Manchester, NH
  • Tuesday, June 29 Dallas, TX
  • Tuesday, July 13 Portland, OR
  • Wednesday, July 21 San Diego, CA
  • Thursday, July 29 Atlanta, GA
  • August date TBD New York, NY
  • August date TBD Minneapolis, MN
The all day event will cover several products including the AG-HPX370 P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorder, the 3D AG-3DA1, and the AG-HMC80 and the AG-HMX100 HD/SD digital A/V mixer. Login at this page to get more information, and to register.

Interestingly, the banner lists a location as Boston, but then in the details Manchester NH is listed as the location...which is a good hour away! And as curious as I am to see the 3D camera, I'm only curious, and not sure I want to spend a day doing it!

More Sony

Sneak Peek: New Sony Camcorder in Development
Sony hasn't been part of the HDDSLR revolution [well really, who has, other than Canon?] but the sonystyle blog has a little preview of a camcorder with interchangeable lenses and an APS sensor. Coming in the fall.

CNET gets it's hand on the NEX5
A short video preview and video. Can anyone explain what this means:
You should also keep in mind that unlike the Alpha DSLRs, which have image stabilization built into the camera, the NEX models use optical stabilization in order to achieve the smaller body sizes.
The Aplha cameras don't use optical image stabilization?

[UPDATE: Just to clarrify my question, the way this is worded seems to make optical stabilization sound like a bad thing - or at least not-as-good thing - yet I was under the impression that optical stabilization was better than "image stabilization".]

Video is 1080/60i AVCHD according to the chart.

CNET: Hands-on: Sony Alpha NEX-5 interchangeable-lens camera

Boris Continuum Live Webinar: Tues May 11 at 10 AM PST

Boris Continuum Complete 7 AE is now available and supports Adobe CS5. They are having a live webinar today (Tuesday May 11th.)

Real World VFX In Your NLE with Boris Continuum Complete

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 from 10:00 AM PST until 11:30AM PST

Who ever thought you could do real compositing inside Final Cut Pro or Avid? With Boris Continuum Complete, you can do real advanced compositing without ever leaving your NLE. In this webinar, you'll learn how to use some of the plug-ins in Boris Continuum Complete across applications like Final Cut Pro 7, Motion 4, After Effects, and Avid Media Composer to take your footage to the next level. You'll learn how to color correct more effectively, how to remove an object from a shot using Motion Key, plus much more.


  • In Depth Look: BCC Beat Reactor in Adobe’s After Effects CS5
  • In Depth Look: BCC 3 Way Color Grade in Adobe’s After Effects CS5
  • Hidden Gem: BCC Motion Key in Final Cut Pro 7
  • Hidden Gem: BCC's 3D Objects filters in Avid’s Media Composer

Register & see a preview here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sony NEX5 does 1080 video

Sony in Japan has announced the NEX3 and NEX5 ultra-compact DSLRs with interchangeable lenses. The NEX3 does 720p/30 fps, while the NEX5 does AVCHD 1080i video. [Engadget says i? Hmm, that's kind of odd]. Price about $640 with a lens, and availability (in Japan) in June.

No word on stabilization, but that flip out LCD panel looks intriguing.

Sony Alpha Rumors: (SR5) The REAL Nex5 specs

Kickstart your project

What is Kickstarter?
Kickstarter is powered by a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands.
I seem to remember someone mentioning the Kickstarter website a while back, and I promptly forgot about it. But Philip Bloom just sent out a tweet about a project that Nathaniel Hansen is funding through Kickstarter, and that reminded me....

But back to the original topic. What is Kickstarter? Its a site that let's artists - let's say creative people - raise funding for projects. People "pledge" a given amount, and in return they get the promise of something (access to special materials, a copy of the final program, heaps of good feelings) and you're only on the hook if the project reaches it's goal and is "fully funded."

There's some interesting projects on the site. You can, for example, Launch an All-Cartoon Web Channel called with Rocko Creator Joe Murray, or, help Dispora, an open source social network that will allow users to fully control their online privacy and identity - though they are already way over their goal.

So how about the elders - a coming of age documentary portrait series being made by filmmaker and Boston native, Nathaniel Hansen?

[UPDATE: corrected name to Kickstarter]

News from Here & There

Firmware updates for Panasonic DMC-GF1, DMC-GH1 and DMC-G1
Improved autofocus performance with third-party lenses and recognition of the new 14-42mm kit zoom, plus enhanced flash performance for the GH1 and G1

PL Mount Modification for Canon 7D
If you want to be able to connect PL mount lenses to a DSLR, Band-Pro is offering a PL conversion of the Canon 7D that is performed by FGV Schmidle in Germany.
The camera’s mirror and optical viewfinder are removed and the original sensor block is rigidly reinstated in connection with the one-piece 3/8” threaded steel mounting bracket and PL lens mount, which ensures that all critical elements of the camera move as one. A 3-pin Fischer connection is added to allow start/stop control when using a handgrip system or remote camera controls. This makes the modified 7D ideal for remote rigs, car rigs and cranes/jibs.
No idea what the cost is; the page has a "Get a quote" link, which makes me think that if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it.
[UPDATE 9:45PM] The cost is $7,800.
Band Pro: The FGV 7D-PL, a Canon 7D modified in Germany by FGV Schmidle

Review of Canon XF305 - in French
If you can read French (or survive Google Translations) you can find a review of the Canon XF305. They compare it to the Sony EX1, which it seemed to beat in nearly everything except low light sensitivity. Canon XF305 le test

And for those who read English: Canon XF305 & XF300 - Hands On Preview
MC Rebbie at The Technofile got to play with them, or he didn't. It's a little unclear:
Canon recently gave me hands on access to their newly announced and yet to be released XF305 & XF300. Although I haven’t had a chance to shoot with them yet, I have seen ungraded footage from a couple of shoots on which they’ve been used...
Hmm, so he got to hold it, but not shoot with it? I'm not sure if that strictly counts as hand-on. It's a bit like being able to touch a car, but not sit inside it or drive it, isn't it?
The Technofile: Canon XF305 & XF300 - Hand On Preview

EditShare Lightworks goes Open Source

At NAB EditShare announced that their editing system LightWorks would be going Open Source. To be honest, I wasn’t even familiar with LightWorks, and wasn’t sure exactly what going “Open Source” would mean, but I recently spoke to James Richings, Head of Product Management, who gave me a run down on what they are doing.

Lightworks has been around for over 20 years, starting about the same time as Avid. Lightworks has been used almost exclusively in the movie industry, but has been through a succession of owners, finally being purchased by EditShare in August of 2009.

With a small team, and facing the marketing and installed base of Avid, Adobe and Apple, EditShare has decided to take LightWorks Open Source to:

1) gain market presence and share by increasing the user base as quick as possible
2) increase development; for example, other developers may be able to take it cross platform.

LightWorks is a fully featured editing application. Films that were edited with LightWorks include “The Departed” and “Evan Almighty.” “We do everything that Final Cut does, and a lot more,” says Richings. “You can edit, record, export, there's lots of transitions, and it uses the GPU.” The upcoming release will be an iteration of the software with added features including 2K and stereoscopic support.

Scott Hill, who edited the film "Evan Almighty," says of Lightworks “[it is] the fastest system I have encountered in my career – it saves huge amounts of time in post-production. It takes twice as many keystrokes with any other system – it’s much more simplified in how you edit, which in turn, produces quicker and more precise results.”

Since they announced the Open Source plan at NAB, EditShare has had several thousand people pre-register for the Open Source program, and two to three hundred developers register as well. They will be setting up a forum for people to contribute changes and additions to the code, though EditShare will maintain the master source.

One of the ways they are hoping to encourage development and innovation is through an online store where developers will be able to sell their own plug-ins.

They are aiming to release the executable for Windows 7 and XP in Q3 - most likely late August - and the source code itself before the end of the year; they need to detangle the plug-ins, and want to tidy up the source code as well.

Because they use other developers source code, some of the plug-ins - like the RED and Apple ProRes codecs - won’t be part of the Open Source release, and will be sold separately, though the company says they won’t be overly expensive.

EditShare has worked with Open Source projects before, and is convinced that it is a business model that will work. They will also be offering a complete package of hardware and software for professionals, and they will be offering paid support options for the rest of us. There will be a manual available, and they also have someone looking at developing certified training and plan to offer some online webinars.

Now we just have to wait until August to see what it’s like.

Setting up the iPad and AC-7 Pro for Final Cut Pro

I've been playing some more with the AC-7 Pro. A very cool thing I didn't realize before: you can move more than one slider at once: that's something you can't do with a mouse - very cool!

Apple iTunes

Final Cut Setup Instructions
Here are the steps for installing the software and configuring Final Cut Pro to work with the AC-7 Pro Control Surface app for the iPad:

1) Download and install the “DSMI Server for OSX”
You can find it here: The Support Page says to download 1.01 as 1.02 is buggy, so search in Depreciated Downloads for "DSMI Server for OSX" and download 1.01

2) Install DSMI Server for OSX
Just run the installer and copy the DSMidiWifi application icon to your Applications folder

3) Run DSMI Server for OSX
A small application window appears (and not much else)

4) Start AC-7 Pro on the iPad

5) Make sure the Mode is set to "LC" in AC-7 Pro
Tap the MODE button just above the Master Vol slider to switch between the different modes

6)Launch Final Cut Pro

7) Go To the Tools menu and choose Control Surfaces...

This opens the Control Surface Configuration dialog, with nothing selected

8) Click the Use: pop-up and choose Mackie

9) Click the "+" button (half-way down the screen on the right)
The new Control Surface will be set to Mackie, and the Input and Output Connection will be set to DSMIDIWIFI-in and -out [Or at least it should be: it's possible it will default to something else if you have other hardware/software already installed.] Click OK

10) A mixer icon appears in the Control Surface Configuration dialog. Click OK to save

11) Switch to the Audio Mixing layout
Choose Window>Arrange>Audio Mixing

12) In the Audio Mixer window, click Record Audio Keyframes
This will record the actions of the mixer as you play the movie

You should be all set to go!

If you run into problems:
Quitting Final Cut and restarting it, as well as restarting the AC-7 Pro app, sometimes seems to be necessary to get everything working right the first time. But once you have things working, it seems to work fairly consistently from then on. When you relaunch the applications it starts working again (i.e. you don't have to go through this configuration each time you launch Final Cut) - just remember to relaunch the DSMidiWifi app before restarting Final Cut.

The short video below shows the AC-7 Pro app and Final Cut Pro interacting:

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Camcorderinfo reviews Sony HDR-CX550V has taken a look at the Sony HDR-CX550V. They liked the fact that it supports 24Mbps recording, and SD cards, as well as manual shutter and aperture controls. However they note that:
As far as performance goes, the HDR-CX550V did a decent job, but there was no area where it really stood out from the flagship models from other manufacturers (although it did do very well in our stabilization test).
They did find it had one of the widest angles of view for any consumer camcorder, equating to approx. a 30mm lens on a 35mm camera.

[In the interests of full disclosure, I have a Sony HDR-XR500V (now discontinued), and have been very happy with it. I generally use it as a B-camera when shooting with multi-cameras, and have found it quick and easy to use...and just for quickly grabbing footage for documenting something, it does a great job; the stabilization seems pretty good on it too, so I'm curious to see how the CX550V performs.]

[UPDATE 5/10] Note that Camcorderinfo describes the CX550V as Sony's flagship consumer model, a statement that's a little confused by the fact that Sony sells the Sony HDR-XR550V, which is essentially the same camera with a 240GB hard drive and a $150 price increase.
It's all moot though, since Sony considers the $3,500, 3-chip HDR-AX2000 a consumer camera, so it must be their flagship consumer model!

B& H: Sony HDR-CX550V ($1,199)
Amazon: Sony HDR-CX550V ($1,199)

Philip Bloom looks at the new Zacuto DSLR rigs

Philip takes a run through the new Zacuto rigs.

[UPDATED 8:21PM] Philip also has an article on the "DSLR Revolution" in movieScope Magazine. You can read the first part of it online.

First Adventures with the AC-7 Pro

I downloaded the AC-7 Pro Control Surface for the iPad, and took it for a spin. Installation was actually about as difficult as some people have suggested in the comments on iTunes; i.e. it took me about half an hour to get things working. It took some messing around and a few tries, but I think I've got it working pretty well with Final Cut now.

You have to follow the instructions on the SETTING UP page of the developers website. Specifically, for Mac users, you have to install DSMI Server for OSX and set that running. Launch AC-7 Pro, and then launch Final Cut Pro, and go to Tools>Control Surfaces... and add a Mackie control surface. It will default to DSMI Server as the input and output. And then with a little luck, you're off!

I'm still working on the order for launching the AC-7 Pro, because I find that it doesn't always seem to communicate both ways with Final Cut; i.e. the iPad makes Final Cut's sliders work, but if you playback a mix on Final Cut, the AC-7 Pro's sliders don't move. Quitting and relaunching the AC-7 Pro app usually seems to fix that problem.

It's really pretty cool, having the sliders move up and down on Final Cut as you move then on the iPad; and the other way around as well!

Play, Stop and the sliders work. The FF and REW buttons sort of work; FF seems to just Play, while REW plays in reverse; I wish they jumped to the beginning or the ending of a segment. The Jog dial works though, so that's pretty neat.

Apple iTunes