Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong 1930-2012

It was 43 years ago that man landed on the Moon.

And 40 years ago that the last man stepped foot on the Moon.

The best book I have read about what it's like to be an astronaut is Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys by Michael Collins, who was the Command Module Pilot on Apollo 11. The one that didn't set foot on the Moon.

Collins says in his book that Armstrong actually said:
That's one small step for A man;
A giant leap for mankind
But a drop-out in the radio transmission cut out the 'a'. The quote makes more sense with the 'a,' but try telling that to everyone that constantly quotes it without.

WBUR: Neil Armstrong, First Man To Walk On The Moon, Dies

Quick Links

Filmmaker will not believe me on this: NEX-VG900 Full Frame E-mount camera for a tiny bit more than 3.000 Euro! | SonyAlphaRumors
Hmmm...if true, wow! Though that equals ~$4,000US, which would place it in the same price as the NEX-EA50... Oh, one more, thing, will the E-mount support a full-frame sensor?
Sony will announce the new NEX-VG900 at around mid September. It is a Full Frame E-mount camcorder (Full Frame in photographic terms!). And it costs just a bit over 3.000 Euro! It records 1080p60 in AVCHD format (24Mbps/s). A FF camcorder for Euro is something almost unbelievable.

Short overview of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera menus | Sebastian Wiegärtner
| Facebook
Short overview of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera menus. Excuse bad audio quality, recorded with my iPhone 4!

Unboxing BMCC | Frank Glencairn | YouTube
FOR THE RECORD:This is my first and last unboxing video ever .... I mean it, really.I did it just because I had a ton of requests bombing my mailbox

The Blackmagic Design Camera experience. Part 1: Unboxing & hopes/ expectations… | Philip Bloom | Blog
Blackmagic sent a camera to his house; unfortunately, he's in another country:
Currently I am in LA having just finished a film shoot. I almost got the camera shipped here but it wouldn’t have made it in time, so I got it sent home as I will be back there in a couple of days. As soon as I get the camera I will start shooting with it. If I can, I will share some files but that won’t be until next weekend at the earliest, as I go to Finland the day after I get back!

Fxphd Fastforward: SpeedGrade CS6 Fundamentals | Adobe
I've got to watch this because I still can't figure out SpeedGrade, and I've sat through two live webinars on the subject!
SpeedGrade CS6 Fundamentals will quickly get you up to speed on how to more effectively use the new grading software from Adobe. Taught by Joost van der Hoeven, this all-new course contains over three and a half hours of training covering the fundamentals you need to know to get most out of this new release. It also contains almost 1GB of source material used in the classes so you can follow along with the instruction.

Canon RAW Support and New Firmware for Gemini 4:4:4 Announced | Juliet Verni | AbelCine
Now they have announced full support for Canon 4K Cinema RAW. With the excitement surrounding the release of the Canon C500, this Canon RAW option is important because it allows users to capture 10-bit Log RAW (.rmf) up to 30fps on a single Gemini, and up to 60fps using two Geminis. The Canon RAW option will be available as a firmware upgrade for $2495 and will coincide with the C500′s release.

Copying your Adobe Media Encoder Presets? | Chris Fenwick | One to One
If you are trying to move your Adobe Media Encoder presets between machines, or you want to share some of your bad ass presets with your parents as an anniversary gift… here is where you find them.

Adobe Premiere Pro: 10 Essential Right-Click Commands | Clay Asbury
| PremiumBeats
1.  Modify>interpret footage Clips shot in slow-motion (lot of DSLR’s now shoot 60fps) need to be adjusted so they play in slow motion, as they play normal speed by default. You can quickly change the frame rate of video clips in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Kodak to sell the film business that made it so famous | Engadget
I've never shot movie film, and haven't shot still film in years, but this is still a  sad day. I'll have to break out one of my Kodak film filter effects in memory...
Kodak is selling off its renowned film arm in order to revive its moribund fortunes. It'll join sales of the company's patent portfolio, online gallery, commercial scanning, photo kiosk and theme park businesses so it can concentrate on a not-yet successful printer enterprise.

Apple awarded $1 billion in Samsung patent case | Variety
A year to the day after Steve Jobs resigned as Apple's CEO, Apple won it's suit against Samsung. I've read various explanations why Apple shouldn't have won, and I agree that the software patent systems seems broken, but if Apple couldn't win a suit against Samsung, then I think no software patents would be defendable (and some may say that would be a good thing)
After a year of scorched-earth litigation, a jury decided Friday that Samsung ripped off the innovative technology used by Apple to create its revolutionary iPhone and iPad.The jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1.05 billion. An appeal is expected.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Quick Links

Canon C500 Price finally out... 20 000£ | Jim Martin | DVXUser
I've been told that Canon will have a press release out either at the end of this week or next week regarding delivery and price on the C500, pricing on the smaller cinema zooms shown at NAB....and maybe something else! As soon as its out, we'll have it up on our site.

Rumored high megapixels Canon EOS-3D X and EOS-7D Mark II cameras
| Photo Rumors
Rumors of new cameras from Canon are heating up:
Canon EOS-3D X specifications:
46 MP
3.7 frame per second
Dual DIGIC 5+
ISO: (25) 50-6400 (12800)

| DSLR News Shooter
Dan gets to play with the new Sony at the BIRTV show in Beijing. Dan thinks the image out of the NEX-EA50 is better than the NEX-5N, but Sony isn't yet saying whether the chip is the same. It appears that - at least in some markets - Sony will be selling it with and without the lens:
The camera feels very light in the hand and despite the lack of built in neutral density filter I foresee this being a very popular camera for a certain type of news or event shooter. It removes many of the inconveniences of DSLR shooting at a much lower price than before – adding in XLR audio and removing the need for DSLR style rigs. The shoulder pad is well designed and threaded on the top side when extended – opening up the possibility to add third party accessories or counterweights.

Sony Intros New PX Series Mirroring Memory Sticks | Studio Daily
A little info on the mirroring Memory Stick that Sony just announced. Expected in October:
The mirroring function essentially lets users record to two distinct segments on the card simultaneously, giving the shooter access to the undamaged block if and when errors occur. A built-in Error Correction Code (ECC) catches and corrects errors as they happen and a Data Refresh feature pushes data over to the "safe" zone on the undamaged segment before the error takes down the card with it.

More from Dan, this on the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera:
At the BIRTV show in Beijing Blackmagic Design’s Richard Lim took time to update me on the progress of their Digital Cinema Camera. He claimed that the camera is expected to ship within two weeks, if not slightly sooner. He also showed me several interesting new features of the camera – an expanded ISO range down to 200ASA and a additional function of double tap on screen to check focus.

Lossless Blackmagic Cinema DNG 2.5k workflow for Adobe Premiere CS5.5 / CS6 with smooth playback and editing | Andrew Reid | EOSHD
It seems you can't edit the Blackmagic DNG files in Premiere, but you can in After Effects...
In After Effects (AE CS5.5 or CS6) CinemaDNG chooses to play nice. You can grade with the common Photoshop raw controls and drag the clips right in, before rendering them out in a 2.5K lossless format for editing on a timeline in Premiere.It is fast, easy and maximises the quality of the footage.

TRUcine – Color Rich Canon C300 Picture Profiles2 | Matthew Jeppsen | FreshDV
Another picture profile for the Canon C300:
The result are image settings for the C300 that accomplish much of what the stock picture profiles do (very good things like low contrast and good highlight retention in the case of the CINE and LOG profiles), but with an improved color palette that requires less massaging in the color grading process. 

Prelude is now available standalone from |
The logging and ingestion tool from Adobe is now being sold separately:
We are pleased to announce that Prelude CS6 is now available as a standalone product from for $399 for a perpetual license.

Three and Four Point Editing in Adobe Premiere Pro | Andrew Davis
| Premium Beat
A three point edit requires you to specify 3 points in your project to make an edit. These points may well include the IN point and the OUT point of a clip in your project or source panel as 2 of the 3 points.

3D camera tracking in After Effects CS6 | James Wignall | Computer Arts
Are the late nights of fixing tracker points behind us? Who’s to say, but I do know that Adobe has made some major strides in correcting one of After Effects’ biggest weaknesses. In this tutorial I’ll show you how to quickly track a piece of footage and add a character into the scene. Adobe has made this once-complicated process into an almost one-click solution.

How To Edit Film Trailers | Jonny | Jonny Elwyn
This piece collects together quotes and interviews with a couple of movie trailer editors:
The big lesson is the trailer is not the film. Don’t get bogged down trying to explain everything, that’s the film’s job. Choose a story through line for your trailer; you’re looking for the best way to get an audience. All films have their strengths, so play to them. Know the ending, the theme and the feeling you want to leave the viewer with.

Wonder No More | Anticipate Media | Vimeo
Some nice night scenes shot in Boston with the Canon C300. I think the first half of this movie would make a great opening to a film noir:
We went out one late night in Boston, MA with a Canon EOS Cinema C300 camera seeking to showcase some local talent and push the camera to it's absolute low light breaking point using a slow (for night) Canon 17-55 F2.8 IS lens. We used a video monopod, and a pair of quite versatile Switronix Torch BOLT handheld bi-color LEDs to add contrast and fill. Other than that we used a Zoom H4N for natural sound, and nothing else. No monitors but the built in EVF, not even the C300 monitor unit. No rigging but the C300 handle. Nothing but us, the city, and a story to tell.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera News

The Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera  [B&H: $2,995] hasn't arrived yet - though some people are being promised it soon - but they have created a new forum for the camera, and have posted some files captured with the camera:

Blackmagic Forum | Cinematography | John Brawley | Forum
To launch this new forum, BMD are making Cinema DNG files available to download.
These DNG's from my recent shoot with director Ben Phelps, Afterglow. Afterglow was done with a shipping version of the camera though it's likely that the software will have been updated by the time many of you get your cameras.

AFTERGLOW – DNG’s are out in the wild | John Brawley | Blog
John writes about the content himself:
A RAW workflow means the sensor data is recorded in camera but not processed until the images are loaded in post where the user can either choose to keep the settings that were selected by the cinematographer at the time of shooting or choose and optimize for a different set of settings.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera | Stu Maschwitz | Prolost
While concerned about elements of the camera - notably the smallish sensor - Stu may be won over:
The interesting thing about the footage from this not-quite-cinema-sized sensor is that it is sexy. Not because of fetishistically shallow depth-of-field (although Brawley handily demonstrated that focus control is eminently possible with the BMC and some nice glass), but because it’s raw.

John Brawley has given an excellent overview of the Blackmagic Design Digital Cinema Camera at Sydney Institute Film Academy. Brawley has been in the unique position of working extensively with the pre-production Blackmagic camera. In the talk he gave some background to the camera’s design and also shows some footage. The Youtube video of the event has been posted and is well worth a watch.

Several people have been playing with the files:

Blackmagic Cinema Camera - BMCC from James Miller on Vimeo.

EOSHD grades the Blackmagic camera raw CinemaDNG files | Andrew Reid | EOSHD
I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.
Not much has lived up to the cliche ‘game changer’ recently and only having seen snippets of the Blackmagic via compressed Vimeo footage I was beginning to have my doubts.
These CinemaDNG files sweep any doubts into the gutter.
Resolution is superb. Best I have ever seen for the price. Better than the C300 and better than the GH2. At per pixel level from the 2.5K raw, it is sharp no question.

ColorGHear Grade of BlackMagic Design's Cinema Camera raw DNG files | Shian Storm | Vimeo
The files behave in much the same way as Raw R3D files in how AFX interprets them. There is a definite grain to the image. Not totally unpleasing. And, while it is a bit sluggish in AE CS6 (more so than 4k R3D) it grades VERY nicely.
The first shot is a saturated bleach bypass type look that has GHrain Killer applied to her face only - via power window. But the other 2 shots are very simple, 2 and 3 GHear grades respectively.

ColorGHear Grade of BlackMagic Design's Cinema Camera raw DNG files from Shian Storm on Vimeo.

The File That Can Go A Mile | Sam Morgan Moore | Blog
I mean this is stupid, but check out the lack of banding on the rear wall, even when subjected to an extreme grade!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Faulty Trackpad

About a week ago my MacBook Pro's trackpad started acting up. I did a Google search and the first thing that came up was that excessive heat could cause the trackpad to misbehave. And the MacBook Pro had been feeling a bit toasty lately.

I installed the Fan Control control panel, and was running the Activity Monitor app as well to see what was going on. Things seemed okay, though I couldn't figure out what the graphic in Fan Control meant. But the temp it reported was mostly okay, and it seemed the fans were working.

But the trackpad seemed to be getting worse, no matter how frequently I'd put the computer to sleep "to cool down." I definitely thought it was temperature related; it seemed to get worse the longer I used it.

I did notice a couple of things along the way that were unexpected; Word 2001 (with it's PowerPC emulation) can suck up more processing cycles than Word 2010. Sometimes. Oh, and the Google Talk plugin was running and sucking up 181% of the CPU for some reason; and quitting Chrome and everything else I could guess at didn't stop probably had been going for the last couple of days or more too...well actually I don't know how long it had been going.

Killing that didn't solve the problem, and the trackpad was obviously getting worse. I tried a regular mouse, but it kept thinking I'd clicked the trackpad, so that did't really help.

Another Google search turned up another problem with trackpads....after several years, the switch in the non-glass ones evidently can fail.

...So I think that's the problem.

I did discover a wonderful thng; in Universal Access I can turn off the trackpad entirely and use an external mouse. No more fake clicks coming from the trackpad. I also paired up the Bluetooth mouse from my iMac and that works too....though I miss the trackpad.

I can either attempt buying a replacement and installing it myself, pay Apple or someone to replace it, or another option is to buy Apples Magic Trackpad, which would give me a bigger trackpad, AND I could also use it with my iMac, because I have to say, the Magic Mouse is not as good as a trackpad (and this from someone who used to love using the mouse.)

So I'm going to buy a Magic Trackpad and see how that goes, and maybe I'll look into getting a replacement trackpad. I should also buy a new battery for the MacBook at the same time; this thing is starting to wear out!

But the real moral of the story? Have you backed up your computer recently? Because you never know when things will start acting weird on you...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Quick Links

I look at the Sony NEX-EA50, and the controversy over the Zacuto shootout:
What is the Internet without a bit of controversy? Last week Zacuto released the third and final part of their “Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout.” The second episode had already created controversy when Gizmodo reported that no less than Francis Ford Coppola preferred the Panasonic GH2 over the Sony FS65.

Tutorial - After Effects Part 5 - Windows and Tabs | Chris Fenwick | One On One
Many people get confused when they accidentally close too many windows in After Effects and can’t get stuff back to where it was, let alone where they want it. This video will show you around how to customize your windows and tabs.

Mac Pro RAID setup | Paul Joy | Blog
Paul documents setting up a new RAID:
It took 15 hours for the RAID 5 set to build. Once complete the common ‘This Disk needs to be initialised” appeared on my screen and then once set to ‘Mac OS Extended’ I had a shiny new drive icon ready to be used. The first thing I did was run some tests on the RAID set using AJA’s drive speed utility and it became apparent that something wasn’t quite right with the read speeds.

The Codec Conundrum | Tony Reale | NextWaveDV
Discussion of codecs used in cameras and editing:
With the FS100, the same sensor was given to the camera, but sLog was not an option and the codec was limited to an AVCHD 24Mb/s. While many screamed at Sony for doing this, those who shot on the camera soon realized that, for it being such a compressed codec, Sony managed to cram a lot of data into it. Though it wouldn’t compete directly with the F3’s sLog footage, the FS100’s AVCHD was perhaps the most robust version of the codec to date.

Filmmaking from an editors perspective | AVID Rough Cut Interviews
Jonny Elwyn
Videos of editors talking about filmmaking:
Avid Rough Cut has 40 episodes under its belt. They feature in depth interviews with filmmakers and editors on their craft, careers and insights on the world of filmmaking from a post production point of view.

5 After Effects Keyframe Tips | Clay Asbury | Premium Beat
For new AE users, the location of keyframe settings in After Effects may not be obvious. Click the triangle for the entire layer to reveal the Transform properties. Then, click the Transform triangle to reveal the properties you can animate (anchor, position, scale, rotation, property).

Light for free using natural light sources | Andrew Reid | EOSHD
The importance of light:
I don’t think of ‘lighting a scene’ as always directly controlled, often it is wild. Lighting you can control is only half of the cinematographer’s job and so many films make use of the sun as a key light. Terrence Malick has based a career on magic hour light!

A Director Who Excelled in Excess | MANOHLA DARGIS | NY Times
These were, more than anything, films by someone who wanted to pull you in hard and never let you go. Years after I met him, Mr. Scott sent me a note of thanks for my review of “Domino,” embellishing it with a witty self-portrait of a figure in a red cap smoking a very large cigar. He looms large on this little rectangle, a blank screen he filled with vivid energy.

Tony Scott Top Ten Directing Moments | Stu Maschwitz | Storify
Stu tweeted a collection of moments he liked from Tony's movies, collected here:
“In loving tribute to Tony Scott, whose work I truly love, I’m about to tweet my personal Tony Scott Top Ten Directing Moments.” -

Monday, August 20, 2012

Quick Links

Ep. 9 - Notes On Video | Need Creative Podcast | Anticipate Media
I'm on the latest episode of the Need Creative podcast. I have to say, Paul does an amazingly great job on this show; how does he manage to talk so long without going 'umm' or 'ahhh' and soud so coherent? I don't know how he does it. Anyway, it was fun to chat with him and Jason, and talk about the new Sony NEX-EA50, the Zacuto shootout, this blog, and my acting tips:
In this ninth episode of the NeedCreative Podcast, your co-hosts Paul Antico and Jason Sidelinger were joined by Special Guest via Skype (a very clean connection this time), Michael Murie of the Notes on Video Blog, to discuss the past week's events in indie filmmaking and technology, and to discuss universal themes in storytelling.

CAMERAS: The Zacuto Fallout Continues | Art Adams | ProVideoCoalition
Art continues documenting the reporting from Zacuto's camera shootout:
The other problem is that every article first mentions how surprised everyone was with the GH2’s overwhelmingly positive response, and then credits Colt Seaman’s contribution second. While nearly all of these articles do the right thing and try to put credit where credit is due, they all—consciously or subconsciously—mention the camera first. The DP reference is always second. This is the way people think at this moment in time. It can’t be avoided.

| Filmmaker Magazine
Interesting discussion on the chance for success:
The professions you really want to avoid, after reading Taleb’s paper, are not financial but rather creative. Where do you find millions of people all trying to succeed against the odds? Just look at how many bands there are, how many aspiring novelists, how many struggling artists. Nearly all of them think that if they create something great, that will improve their chances of success in their field.
90% of success is turning up. The other 90% is unknowable.

Sony FS100 Picture Profiles | Mark Battistella Films
Collected together, most of the picture profiles for the Sony NEX-FS100:
So from these styles, we made a simple compilation of the profiles that are great to use while shooting. No more need to have so many bookmarks, pieces of scrap paper, and necessities to remember to check for updates – we did it all for you.

Golden Hours at Augusta on the FS700 and C300 | Christopher Swainhart | Vimeo
A video shot with the Canon C300 and the Sony NEX-FS700:
The main lens on the C300 was the Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM. The main lens for the Sony was the Sony 18-200. Also used Canon glass with Metabones adapter: 16-35, 24-105, and 70-200 with doubler for a 400 mm shot.

Is FCP X ready for broadcast? | David Fox | Urbanfox.TV
An article that asks whether, one year on, is Final Cut Pro X finally ready for primetime?
“I think the main issue was that FCP X wasn't what people were expecting. It was a whole new application that shared little with its predecessor other than its name and it edits video. It also challenges the way we think about editing with its storyline approach to editing rather than tracks,”

New MPEG Standard – H.265 – What does it mean? | Philip Hodgetts | Blog
How important is this? In the next year or two it will have zero effect on our working lives. Over time, as the standard moves from draft, through the patent search/pooling phase and finally through to licensing, devices will start to adopt it; brewers will gain the ability to play it; silicon will be struck for hardware decoding in future generations of mobile graphics chips (and not-so-mobile as well); and then probably cameras based on the new codec.

Thoughts On Apple’s Latest TV Efforts | RYAN LAWLER | Tech Crunch
Speculation on the upcoming - rumored - Apple TV:
The new set-top box hardware that Apple is talking to cable operators about using is none other than an updated version of its Apple TV product. Which is to say: Apple probably isn’t creating new hardware to suit the needs of cable operators, or to try to replicate their existing set-top boxes. Instead, Apple is trying to convince them to build new apps for its existing device.

Pixar: 6 Filmmaking Tips | Hollywood How To
“Every single Pixar film, at one time or another, has been the worst movie ever put on film. But we know. We trust our process. We don’t get scared and say, ‘Oh, no, this film isn’t working.’” – John Lasseter

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Things I'd Like To Know About The Sony NEX-EA50

I'm very interested in the just announced Sony NEX-EA50; partly because of the form factor (an ENG layout is more useful for the kinds of things I shoot) and partly because of the price. That said, I do have some questions about it that I hope will get answered soon. Some are important, and some are just out of curiosity:

What sensor/processor is in there?
Is it the same as the NEX-5N, or is it upgraded? It's obviously not the same sensor as the NEX-FS100, which is a 3.43MP sensor, vs the NEX-EA50's 16.1 MP. It seems likely that the low-light performance won't be quite as good and there will be more moire effects.

What is the sensor size?
Sony uses Super35 designation for the NEX-FS100 and APS-C for the NEX-EA50, though the two are very close.
I've seen the EA50 quoted as being 23.6 x 15.8, yet other numbers are often quoted for APS-C. The NEX-FS100 is quoted as being 23.6 x 13.3 mm.
Is it just that APS-C adds more pixels for the still picture aspect ratio?
NEX-7 = 23.5mm x 15.6mm (3:2 aspect ratio)
APS-C = 25.1mm x 16.7mm (3:2 aspect ratio)
[ forums]

Does it have picture styles or the ability to adjust sharpness, contrast and saturation? What's the Rolling Shutter like?
One of the problems of the NEX-VG20 is that it's very limited in image controls, so it's more like their DSLR (and NEX- still cameras) than it is like the NEX-FS100 video cameras. Did they improve things on the NEX-EA50?

Why didn't they put Neutral Density filters in it?
Would it really have added that much to the cost?

How good are the mechanics on the zoom lens?
Can you zoom fast and slow? Is it smooth? The manual lens Sony makes for the NEX-FS100 and VG20 can be very sticky. I assume they've fixed that!

Why aren't they selling it separate from the lens?
They finally did that for the NEX-VG20 after first selling the NEX-VG10 with a lens...

How good is the digital zoom?
The digital zoom is controllable by the rocker switch (optionally) but how good is it really?

What's it feel like to hand hold, and have on your shoulder?

I hope the tripod connection is more sturdy than on the NEX-VG10/20.

Most of these questions should be answered as soon as it's in the hands of some reviewers!