Friday, March 28, 2014

The News

The Shape Gimbal ISEE I for GoPro is a 2 axis brushless gimbal which can be held in one hand. Power is from a single Canon LPE6 type battery and control is via a push button. The ISEE I is already available for pre-order from their website for CAD $699.

You will understand more once you watch the video below but one of the biggest issues for me was the limitation of the auto focus area just being that small square in the middle. Never in every shot are you going to want your focus to be dead centre. The key to getting good results with the continuous autofocus, is clever use of the focus lock button which I programmed onto function 7 in the photo below.

That’s why it comes as no surprise that ARRI looks to be developing their own 6K camera, but instead of squeezing those pixels onto a Super 35mm sensor like the RED DRAGON or the new Kinefinity 6K cameras are, the company is letting them breathe on a gigantic 65mm sensor.

ITV Gets 190 Sony Camerascinescopophilia
ITV has invested in over 190 Sony PMW-400 and PMW-200 cameras for its teams as well as accompanying field production equipment. The new XDCAM cameras and tools will be used across all of ITV News’ regional news gathering operations, allowing for workflow continuity and a seamless transition from acquisition through short-term storage and data transfer.

This year I opened my presentation on 4K with a look back at how far higher-resolution shooting, editing, and distribution has progressed in the interim and what those changes have meant to our industry. Beyond just the dollars and cents, I wanted to take a look at a few of the realities of integrating high-res into our projects - some of them that might not seem so obvious.

What sets Patreon apart is that backers don’t pay toward the completion of a single project, but rather they become patrons of a specific creator by contributing a much smaller amount on a regular basis. 

But if the use of long takes in action sequences is still a relatively novel phenomenon, the cinematic history of the extended take in general is much longer and we thought we’d take this opportunity to choose our favorites. This turned out to be a timely endeavor, because as you may know, recently a debate has kicked off in the (God forgive me) blogosphere about whether or not critics and film commentators should talk and write more about the form and craftsmanship aspects of filmmaking than they (we) currently do. 

The following was shot with the Letus AnamorphX adapter: 

What is an essay film? This video explores how essay films use sounds, images, words and editing differently than other forms of cinema.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The News

Five Questions for Twenty Feet from Stardom Cinematographer Nicola Marsh | Filmmaker Magazine
"People are so obsessed with resolution I actually think that’s not really what makes a good image; you don’t want a ton of resolution. It’s great to have it when you need it, you can punch in or rotoscope, but lack of resolution is beautiful and elegant and more impressionistic."

Quit Crashing Your Computer: Editing 4K in Adobe Premiere | Premium Beat
In the following video Luke Neumann shows us how to edit 4K footage without bogging down your computer. The process is surprisingly easy and can be done using only Adobe Premiere and After Effects.

Panasonic GH4 Camera at 96fps 4096×2160 Vs ARRI Alexa Camera & Blackmagic 4K Videoscinescopophilia
After a quick shoot we brought the clips into DaVinci Resole Lite to see details.What we have found was unbelievable. The GH4 could hold more detail in both high light and shadow over the Blackmagic.One problem about the Blackmagic is the red dot when shoot against the very bright object such as the sun, as seen on the helmet high light of the last clip.

The guys over at The Camera Store TV have just released their hands-on look at the GH4, and the main topic of the video is the 4K video functionality of the camera. The unit they reviewed was pre-production, so keep that in mind while watching the video (things could be changed between a pre-production and production model). If you are interested in the video capabilities of this Panasonic GH4, check out the review below.

Panasonic Covers 4K on 3.19.14 | Vimeo
Panasonic’s Jan Crittenden Livingston tackles the 4K topic by answering these key questions: What exactly is 4K? How many permutations are there? What is REAL 4K? How do you deal with all that 4K data? And finally, how does Panasonic settle in with all this? Plus, Jan offers special insight on the upcoming VariCam 35 and VariCam HS, the newest cameras to debut at NAB.

Focus Pulling: “It’s a mystical art.” | The Black & Blue
NPR, as part of its series on Hollywood jobs, wrote a couple brief articles on camera assisting – one on pulling focus and the other on slating. While those two tasks don’t cover nearly everything camera assistants (ACs) do, they are easily the most visible and accessible duties for an AC.

Technicolor Launches Creative District, a New Social Network for Filmmakers | No Film School
While many professional networks already exist for filmmakers, the backbone of Creative District is in its grant program, offering monthly grants (to U.S. residents) of $5,000 to projects in every stage of production. Click through to read more about Creative District and see if the social network might be in your future.

VFX Workers Fight Back With Ramifications for New Zealand | Scoop
Last month, lawyers hired Daniel Lay, the blogger behind the influential website, “VFX Soldier,” uncovered a legal document where the MPAA weighed in on a minor International Trade Commission case involving 3-D printers. In that filing, obtained by Pando Daily, the MPAA argued that digital goods should be considered imports and therefore are subject to stringent copyright protections.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Review | DP Review
The reason for the higher quality is how video is sampled. Since the sensors on the vast majority of cameras cannot be 'read out' quickly enough, they don't read the whole sensor when recording video. Instead they skip lines of pixels, which means that the amount of data used to generate is frame is reduced. The gaps between these lines reduce the resolution they can capture, and can introduce moiré.

21 World-Renowned Cinematographers Share the Shots that Heavily Influenced Their Work | No Film School
I don’t know how to pick just one shot – I guess it depends on what mood you’re in that day – but there’s a shot in Ivan’s Childhood where the boy is crossing between the German and Russian lines that I absolutely love. It’s this incredible black and white landscape, illuminated by flares like a kind of ghostly hinterland, with this downed fighter plane jutting out of the earth.

Spent 5 weeks putting together a series covering all aspects of the Letus AnamorphX-GP lens | Reddit
I've spent the last 5 weeks putting together a series of videos that covered the Letus AnamorphX-GP lens adapter which converts the normal GoPro Hero3+into a Anamorphic cabable camera. I reached out to them about getting an early look at it and they got me a pre-release model that I've been run through it's paces.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Good News, Bad News

The memory card for the FDR-AX100 arrived, and I put it in the camera and it agreed that the card would support 4K recording - Woot!
That's as far as I've gotten, as I was at a meeting tonight and only just got home.

Meanwhile, EOSHD managed to find this sample video shot with the FDR-AX100 which seems to demonstrate some very bad skew. It postulates that the skew is only present in the 4K footage (because the RX10 has the "same" sensor and doesn't have the same problem.) Guess I'll have to try different formats and see what happens.

And here's an unboxing and look at the camera:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Another 4K Day

The memory card for the FDR-AX100 hasn't yet arrived, but that doesn't mean the 4K news stops coming!

Panasonic went and announced the HX-A500, a 4K wearable camera. Available in May for about $600.

Looks interesting, though I do worry that 4K is going to be a bit like the early days of HD when some of the really inexpensive cameras jumped from 720P to 1080P; and yet there was no noticeable improvement in image quality. We'll have to wait for some tests and comparisons. I will say this; at 31g (1.1oz) for the camera unit and 119g (4.2oz) for the body unit, I should be able to fly it on the DJI Phantom!

Panasonic HX-A500 wearable 4K camcorder claims 'world's first' | Cnet
Other shooting options include gnarly Levelling Correction to automatically straighten tilted videos; rad Image Stabilisation function to cut down on blur as you're bumping and bouncing across track or piste; and sick slow motion at 200 frames per second, 100 fps in 720p, or 50fps in full HD.

Panasonic HX-A500 pictures and hands-on | Pocket-Lint
Our time with the HX-A500 was brief, so we can't pass any judgement on the quality or how it operates in action, although the preview content being shown by Panasonic looked good. We liked the predecessor and we can't wait to have a proper play with this new 4K version.

Meanwhile, let's not forget the upcoming Panasonic GH4. Over at EOSHD, they've been looking into getting 10bit 4K 4:2:2 video out of the camera without that large external box:

More information on 10bit 4K 4:2:2 via micro HDMI on the GH4 without external box | EOSHD
Panasonic have confirmed that the GH4 (quite amazingly) outputs 10bit 4K 4:2:2 from the onboard micro HDMI port without the YAGH external HD-SDI unit. However there are still benefits to using the HD-SDI outputs.

And Sony seemed to like one of my Tweets about the FDR-AX100...

So I'm puzzling through the Italian/Greek manual included with the FDR-AX100, and it appears to say that the 4K XAVC video is 60 Mbps, and the 1920x1080 XAVC video is 50Mbps (which is fascinating in itself, because 50Mbps has been the widely rumored minimum requirement for the BBC.)

So that's interesting. And by the way, if you don't care about 4K, but would like some 1080 50Mbps action, you could buy the HDR-CX900, which is essentially the same camera as the FDR-AX100, but without the 4K support and $500 cheaper.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Getting into 4K - the Sony FDR-AX100

I just got the Sony FDR-AX100, which I think can be accurately described a being their "most inexpensive (currently) available" 4K camera. I thought it was time to at least dabble in 4K, but I didn't really have the budget to buy anything really good - no Sony F5 or Canon C500 in my budget!

But if you're not looking to spend more than $4k on 4K, there are some other choices. Why didn't I get one of those?

Sony FDR-AX1
At $4,498 (currently) the FDR-AX1 is over $4k, but close enough. It's intriguing to me, especially as I loved Sony's HD camera's in that format. Advantages; everything is in one box; for run and gun shooting it would be really good, and that's the kind of thing I do most of the time. It has more manual controls, more buttons and knobs and XLR audio inputs than the FDR-AX100.

The reason I didn't buy it; honestly I shoot a lot more stuff with small camcorders right now, and I'm planning to take the FDR-AX100 on a trip where size is definitely a consideration.

Also, for sit down interviews, I often use the NEX-EA50UH, which supports interchangeable lenses. Had there been a 4K version of that camera, I probably would have bought that.

Blackmagic Production Camera 4K
For narrative work, I think the Blackmagic (or the Panasonic GH4) would be the way to go. At $3k it's $1k more expensive than the FDR-AX1, but you get the option of using different lenses and you - possibly - get greater dynamic range (I don't know if anyone has done a comparison yet.)

The camera shape is a bit awkward, and I'd be using it with the Canon lenses I have; which are large. In narrative, that's not so much of a problem, but for travel and run-and-gun, maybe not so good.

Honestly, I think I want something smaller and simpler.

Panasonic GH4
Right now this is the 4K camera getting the most interest on the net. It's not available yet, but it should be available very soon. Personally, I'm not a big fan of using SLR-style cameras for video [I know, it's actually a mirror-less camera]. Also I don't have any lenses for it, though I could get an adapter to use some of the Canon mount lenses I have. Like the Blackmagic, it's more work to shoot with.

The GH4 is actually cheaper than the FDR-AX100 by about $300, BUT, I figure I'd have to buy at least one or two native lenses for the camera to give it a chance (why have something that small with a huge lens hanging off it?)

All that said, I wouldn't be surprised if I end up getting a GH4 some day...

Left to right: HDR-HC1, FDR-AX100 and HDR-CX430

Here's the FDR-AX100 next to a typical current HD camcorder, the Sony HDR-CX430V and it's older HDVideo format brother, the HDR-HC1. It's still a pretty big sucker!

The HDR-HC1 was Sony's first $2K HDV camcorder, released back in 2005. The FDR-AX100 is almost exactly the same length as the HC1, but it's wider. They feel fairly similar in weight, though the HC1 feels slightly heavier and like its metal. It has a solid feel to it, while the AX100 feels more plasticy.

Lastly, when I turned on the camera, I immediately discovered that the fast SD card I had wasn't good enough for this camera. So I've had to order a Sony - 64GB SDXC Class 10 UHS-1 Memory Card. That should come Tuesday...