DaVinci Resolve Computer Setup and Basic Grading

“In Production” is a brand new video chat program where hosts  I and long time friend and friend Carey Dissmore discuss tools and topics related to the video production business. I think we both have a unique perspectives as independent production business owner/operators. We aren’t just here to talk about stuff in a generic review sort of way, but to share insights on using those tools in the real world. Does this thing _really_ work work better, does it make you money faster & easier ? Can you use this with a client in the room ?
This show will be produced periodically as series around specific topics. Our first series is on the topic of Color Grading and DaVinci Resolve. This series is comprised of 6 episodes, to be released weekly. The first two episodes are embedded below.
We hope you like this show and, as always, welcome your comments.
In Production : Intro To DaVinci Resolve

Direct YouTube Link http://youtu.be/V_MZYY8O4sY
DaVinci Resolve : Grading Basics

Once There Was Analog Video Gear In HD, A Look Back

96 point bantom audio patch batch
Looking at all this analog gear, and its complexities makes everything digital almost seem simpler, as long as it works.
I’m pulling gear out we thought would work longer then it has. Goodbye Beta SP ! I certainly don’t remember the last time I actually recorded an edit or even dub out to the format. Two years or so ago I went through a massive digitize thing where all beta SP tapes went to hard drive in ProRes. I haven’t used that deck since although with moving things around I’ve found maybe a couple more tapes I need to run thru and thats it.
There was a time when I could put 5 or 6 machines into record at once and make multiformat masters complete with matching TC.  These days even the local TVS’s are taking spots in some digital form – video DVD’s or finally actual QT files on disc or FTP.  So the need for all this stuff is pretty much gone.
I’m trying to figure out what last bits still count – 5.1 for analog outs to speakers for SRS mixing, maybe 1 composite line to feed scopes. Thats about it. We are building a small back room area for capturing the last beta SP, DV and HDV via FW. That setup is going to pretty much be just wires straight from the VTR into the MXO2. No need to route that or patch it thru to other rooms. We’ll capture on this one system and push the files onto the NAS and use them from there.
There is is some need to make the occasional TC burn from a HDV tape, but even that is fading away. When I can use the MAX encoder to turn out h264’s 5X faster then real time for SD with TC burned in, I’m not going to waste time running tape. I”ll still bill per running hour for TC burns, but it will be very different. Capture tape into computer which you have to do anyway, apply TC filter, encode, burn to DVD or push it up to our server for the client to view on whatever device they want. With tapeless formats, copy the card contents, drop into the NLE, and its done even faster.
Do I miss analog ? no so much. Ok I’ll admit a 1″ machine running, or even better yet shuttling at 50X with 2hr reels is quite impressive ( and dangerous ! ) but really I don’t miss the crankiness of that gear at all.
Well this shot was this morning. Tonite, most of this has been taken apart and I’m wondering whats worth messing with. I”m pretty sure I may well rip this all apart, maybe use one patch bay for audio and video and the other two will go away. Its just redundant for the most part. With SDI its just one wire instead of 3 video ( YUV ) + 2 audio lines.  Any of the Y/C connections at this point are pretty much useless too.
I have a stack of Y/C ( SVHS ) connector to BNC break out cables if anyone wants them !
I have LOTS of cable. There is something like 400ft of audio cable in this rack ! Here are some ends that run out to speakers that I pulled back to transport everything.

DIY Quick Fixes For Your Busted Letus Hawk

For $400, ( Ok, B&H has them on special for $349 ) none of what I’m going to reveal next should be needed. The repairs I’ve done and problems I’ve had are to be expected from something at maybe 1/3 of the price where you can say ” well it was cheap, and the fix wasn’t bad, some I’m ok with it.”

When I first got the Letus Hawk LCD Viewfinder Loupe, the mounting holes stripped out. The inserts in the very sexy carbon fibre body are soft steel. My next replacement had ok inserts, but some weird blob, probably fungus developed on the inside of the lens. Ok, third time is a charm, right ? Well yes, for a while.

After a bit of use, the hex screws came loose. I tightened them, and one of them stripped out again. This time, I just wasn’t in the mood to exchange the unit again, even if it is covered under warranty. Instead I realized that since the bracket design was flawed, I needed to come up with a better idea. The fix was very simple, epoxy. Given that the body is carbon fibre, its made of either polyester or epoxy resin. Epoxy will stick to either very well, and I had some good quality epoxy that dried glossy black.

letus hawk DSLR viewfinder magnifier fix
letus hawk DSLR viewfinder magnifier fix with black epoxy

First I cleaned up the hood body by wiping it off with paint thinner, and letting that completely evaporate. Next I actually glued the rubber gasket on using ACC ( crazy glue ) by running the glue around the inside of the rubber bumper. I slipped the bumper onto the loupe body and this just isn’t going anywhere.

Next in the area where the metal bracket meets the loupe body, I sanded that area a bit to improve the bonding area.

I slid the loupe bracket into its socket on the camera, and made sure it was sitting the way its supposed to, and then placed the loupe itself on the LCD screen in proper alignment.

Finally I mixed up the epoxy, about a teaspoon’s worth, and applied on the area where the bracket mounts to the loupe body. The epoxy I had was very thick, and I applied a pretty small amount to just cover the immediate bonding area. Since I was working above the actual camera LCD screen I was being super careful about not dripping or squeezing out any epoxy onto the screen surface.

letus hawk dslr zacuto viewfinder
I then screwed in the two screws, each with some epoxy on their shafts. Even though one was stripped out, it still gave me some grab, and the steel pin glued in place doesn’t hurt anything.

With the remaining epoxy, I globbed it on and around the metal bracket and out onto the loupe body for additional bonding area. I also got epoxy into the screw slots in the bracket to again help with getting  the best bond I could. Epoxy does have body strength and I was just taking advantage of it.

I let it dry over night, and so far, so good. It looks like I’ll now have a solid dependable connection that isn’t letting go all the time. Sure its hard to design small reliable brackets likes this, but this is old ground in engineering. The answer is simple : hardened steel or stainless steel, not the cheap soft steel screws and inserts that are currently used. Also, if you haven’t yet stripped out your screws ( it takes 2-3 adjustments to do so in my experience ) you can add a #4 washer ( read really small ) between the screw and the bracket. This will stop the bracket from moving away from the camera when you tighten it the one or two times that you can.

So my word to Letus is : get some hardened stainless steel bolts and inserts, or just change the mount completely… please ! the great optics deserve a better mounting system.

Don’t Get Taken Advantage Of !

This site is Evil – poptentmedia.com    UPDATE : no longer around !
This site is Evil 99designs.com  UPDATE: These are are still around, and expanded their bottom feeder program to include video from $499
This site is good. Antispec.com
Video or Design “contests”
Would you turn out a complete spot for free ? or for $200 ?
Would you front all expenses for free ?
Would you leave money on the table, in fact most it if you do get paid ?
Would you write, cast, shoot, edit ANY clients project for FREE ? or so cheap its not even minimum wage ?
Excepting a good local charity cause  I doubt it.
Who else would work for free ?
Please tell me who in any other career, job or business would work for free ? ( except charity and community support things )
This is NOT your Big Break.
In regards to “contests” like PopTent or other companies running “competitions”.
Let’s get real, if you were to submit your pure odds of making that $5K payout is 1 in 100 to 1 in 300 or more. Nice odds, NOT ! Oh and your still out everything if you don’t get it.
Let’s also consider that $5k Payout…. you’re probably being paid anywhere from 1/4 to 1/10th what the job is actually worth. Maybe less than that.
Let’s also know this is not a new game, but is has gotten a lot better and slicker thanks to the internet. Now scamming has gone global, but you knew that, right ?
I started out in NY many years ago. Back then everyone was shooting music videos on 16mm. It was simple. Maybe you hooked  up with a known artist like Rodger Daltry who was working with an up and coming band. The new band sounded good, played ok and had a big known backer. You shot a video with your own money, your own editing time on tape ! you edited, and re-edited and finally presented it. The goal was always to spend around $10K and make it look like $50K. That was always the dream.
Well sometimes the record label would like what they saw, some times not. Sometimes you could get a few grand fronted to cover your film and transfer costs begging and borrowing all other favors.
In the end, after 6 months or a year of your life had passed by, you might have an ok video done, which maybe the label would pay you for, or not.
Its pretty clear looking back that while a couple of people I know did go some where, almost everyone involved didn’t. I made some great friends I still know 20 years later, but only a few people I know ever played things out to bigger and better things. The vast majority didn’t.
So get real, don’t get sold on “This is your way to get noticed”. Its not, especially in the age of the internet where tons of stuff is around. Go do something for a local charity, a local band. Do a project for yourself. Don’t get suckered by one of these sites that simply exploit people, get hundreds if not thousands of free hours of work for…
What did you get ? an  email saying thanks for entering “we’ll get back to you” ?
You’re smarter then that !

Tamron 70-200 2.8 Lens Review

Finally here !  Anyway this is a look at the lens I use for a major portion of my shooting, especially interviews.  I graded this in DaVinci Resolve which was a real pleasure. In fact this was one of my learning projects for Resolve which is part of why it took me so long. I was learning, making a few mistakes along the way, and then, suddenly, it was done 🙂 !
Take a look.