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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Would You Buy A SD VF For Your DSLR ?

There is yet another LCD VF entering the fray from  KinoTehniik. but please read the specs - 

 " Super crisp 24bit 3” screen with 840×400 resolution "


ah, hello ! thats SD 16:9. How sharp can that be ? Thats fewer pixels then the LCD on the back of the camera has. If you can't focus or be happy with a LCD loupe on the back of the dslr's back, how are you going to be happy with this ? if you complain that your external 5-9" LCD goes to SD during shooting and you can't see critical focus, do you have any plans of thinking this will work ok ?  Lets get real, 840X480 isn't even close to cutting it. Give me a real 1280X720 native or better LCD and we can have a conversation involving me parting with my money. I've used the RED viewfinder, and while some may complain about it, its still way better then any of these offerings. Stick with your LCD loupe for now.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Its Quite This Week

Typing this from a hotel room in another country. I"m no stranger to location shooting, but crossing borders always adds its own level of complexity to what should be really simple and isn't.  I"ll be off shooting tomorrow and I'm getting to unwind from travel time right now which is better. 

I find today quite on news.  What's funny is that I wasn't hit with an insane barrage of pre-NAB material. Is it all done yet ? have all the vendors gotten word out of what's going to be new ? in some respects I hope so, then I'll have a chance of actually seeing it there. A few surprises would be nice too. I can't say how many times I've come back from NAB to find I missed something. Thats happened a few times and with all thats going on, its easy to have happen. 

One of the big non-announcements is nothing from apple. Nothing even at the Tues FCP Super Meet. Nada. If they think they can announce two weeks after NAB and its going to go well, maybe not. They are getting arrogant and we have seen what happens to companies that do so. Nothing good ever happens to them. While a rough economy  was reason for some companies to no do trade shows, things seem better. Whether apple likes it or not, they are part of the video production world, and it does have some standards. While you can certainly announce products throughout the year, NAB and IBC are the two times of the year that everyone else makes their big noise.

There is nothing wrong with this at all, however if you want to fly against this, you have neglected your product with only minor updates for years, your competitors are making more feature rich and more stable products, you have never fixed a myriad of old bugs, maybe now isn't the time to play with an attitude. Maybe its time to put out some product that works and shows investment into continued growth of the product. When users sense you are not committed to the product, they  figure it out and move on. This has happened to more then one NLE company and apple shouldn't think they are immune, even with the reality distortion field in full effect.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Traveling This Week

I'm not sure how much I'll get to post this week as I'm going to be traveling to shoot a video for NAB. Shoot this week, edit next week, play at the show. In fact I will also be shooting on the NAB show floor monday and tuesday. No I'm not shooting one of the endless ENG news type things, but rather some vendor announcements with some basic lighting to UL to the web. So that will be fast and furious shoot and edit all day. 

Monday nite will find me at the Media Motion Ball and some by invite only events later. Still looking for something to do Tues that doesn't involve the Stupor Meet. Sorry but I have all day to look at vendors pitching their wares, the last thing I want to do is pay $25 to sit and watch more of it.  Yes I know many folks I do know will be there, but its just not MY kind of event.  I'll be in Vegas through friday nite. Probably go to the Brew Pub Thurs nite. We'll see what happens. A couple of the usual events I've gone to for the last 5 to 10 years aren't going on due to economic cut backs that started about 2 years ago. Either way I think this will be a good NAB with up attendance and lots of great new product introductions.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another Great TimeLapse

Another great timelapse ! Ok, terrible sound track, but the shots make up for it.


Photographer Terje Sorgjerd braved -25 degree Celsius (-15 F) temperatures to capture this mesmerizing collection of photographs. Then, by assembling the 22,000 photos, he created a time-lapse video of the rich color and dynamic shapes of the Northern Lights that would normally be difficult to see. Adding the atmospheric Hans Zimmer/Lisa Gerrard song "Now We Are Free" from the movie Gladiator to the mix, and Sorgjerd has created a masterpiece.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

EV RE50 Mic and Sennheiser G3 Plug On Wireless Transmitter Review

To say I have been busy the last weeks is an understatement. I've been prepping for 3 shoots in 2 countries over the last couple of days. In any event, here is my video review on the ElectroVoice RE50 hand held dynamic mic and the Sennhieser G3 hand held plug on wireless mic transmitter. I compared the RE50 both on the transmitter and hardline XLR direct into my DR-680 recorder. Overall, its a great mic especially for the price, as is the G3. Take a look. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just Watch

Was this really shot on a dslr ? probably some of the flash back sequences say viddyho, but the rest was almost for sure a RED or Alexa given how clean it is and no dslr artifacts. Well shot, well written, well done. Blinky™, 12 min, great compression for vimeo in HD.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Magic Lantern Update for the 5D MkII Coming Soon

Video Showing the updated firmware. This brings in a lot of the updates from the other camera firmware projects back to the 5D mkII

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Want To Write The Next Big Film ?

We all run into people who want to make a big feature film, or is it even you ? Here is the manual from which countless films have been based off of, in PDF. Its "The Hero With 1000 Faces" by Joseph Campbell. It's available here
 For a great film on how hollywood reuses stuff, try this great film. BTW, if it weren't for fair use in copyright law, this great piece would not exist.


However, there is a proposal that just came out of the White House last week about major changes to copyright law and enforcement of prevention of copying material. Read it HERE . Its all about how ANY software of hardware device that circumvents copy protection would become a felony. Ripping your DVD's for you own personal use on a home media player would be a felony. This bit of proposed legislation has no mention of fair use. A project like the one you just saw would of required under this proposal, illegal acts to gain access to the material to use it _lawfully_. You can have all the fair use you want, you simply can't get at the media in the first place to use it. 

As a content creator, I'm all for reasonable protections and enforcement. This proposal goes way over the line in trying to lock all hardware and software to obey copy protection, and criminalizing circumvention of it to the same level as terrorism. Thats just crazy.  The reality is, the genie is out of the bottle, and you aren't going to get it back in. Instead of trying a Draconian approach like this, how about education towards respect of the law and property ? and how about producing content that's, worth buying / renting in the first place ? 

Another Cool Timelapse

Another well done timelapse shot at nite, in sub zero temps. 

Sub Zero - winter night timelapse from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Glass vs Resin Filters Review


Do Glass Filters Make A Difference For DSLR Shooting ?

A few months ago I bought a .9 ND filter on ebay. I asked the seller if this was a glass filter and was told yes. I bought it. You of course can guess what came was in fact whats called a resin filter which is a better word then plastic. The seller said they made a mistake, and gave me a partial refund to even the deal out and I was ok with that. 
I was just happy to have some decently strong ND for my lenses when shooting outside. I shot a bit with this lens, and I certainly had some concern about if it was really having some effect on the images I was shooting. Plenty of knowledge says a filter like this won't perform as well as a glass one. After all, who'd pay 3X-5X more for glass when plastic would do ? Well one quick difference is that plastic filters are much easier to scratch. What the real concern is, how does it perform and is it worth the extra money.
Here are actual images side by side of how it worked out. The lens was a Tamron 70-200 2.8 which a very sharp and excellent performing lens. The lens chart was actually one I printed on my laser printer and taped up on the wall. Yes I know technically not correct, but I'm not looking to measure lpm's here in a scientific way. I just wanted a contrasty target to see what happens. 
The two filters tested were the Lee .9 ND resin filter and Schneider ND.9 EF81. the images are 1:1 pixel crop of 5K stills
lee .9 ND resin filter lens chart sharpness test
schnieder optical glass filter .9 ND lens chart sharpness test
The results clearly show the plastic filter softening the image out quite a bit. I have 2 other shots which are softer, this is the sharpest of 3. With the glass filter you can actually see the dot pattern of the gray areas. The detail and sharpness of the Tamron is amazing, and the glass filter isn't hurting it one bit.
In actual shot images this effect is visible, especially at longer focal lengths. Here are some shots from 1080p from the camera. These images have been scaled down, but you can click on them for the 1:1 crops.
video schnieder
Lee video from 60D
The video shots are more interesting to say the least. Can you tell them apart ? They look pretty close actually at this size. Even at 1:1 they look pretty close. Now at this point I think I am going to redo this video test because I think the plastic filter looks every so slightly sharper. I have 2 guesses right now - motion blur / shutter speed blur. I shot one at 40/th and one at 50/th. While I feel certain I'd let the camera settle for a few seconds, maybe not. I was also using a Flo light on the chart. Last I did color correct these a bit to match exposure values. If I upped the contrast a little too much on the second one, it could account for making it seem a little sharper. So I think next week I'll go redo this part. However, even if I get the expected results, they'll still be pretty close I'll bet.
Conclusion : I suppose after shooting this quick little test you'd figure I'd be tossing this resin filter out, but I'm not. For video purposes, you may get away with using some resin / plastic filters, especially if you need a softer look or want to try to tame some aliasing / moire.  While this may not be my prime ND filter to normally use, it may serve some special purposes. In a choice between sharpness and artifacts or softer and no artifacts, some subject will be ok being a little softer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

History of the Wah Wah Pedal

Shot on dslr, my guess 5D based on its look. This is a who's who of not just guitar players, but of all the key people involved with the creation of this amazing effect. 57 mins and worth your time, if for nothing more then the cool soundtrack. Only complaint - a few jump cuts in interviews weren't covered up with B roll, but given how much other great material is in here, its a minor point.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

4K coming soon, 8K isn't far off

What will you see at this year's NAB ? well Sony’s theme at NAB 2011 will be life beyond HD. More than 5,000 screens of 30,000 in the USA are now using Sony 4K digital projectors. Shoot, edit, distribute and view 4K. Its coming 4X faster then HD. In 4-5 years there will be affordable 4K consumer sets. 

Sony gets it. Now the questions - most NLE's barely chug through a couple streams of 1080, never mind effects. Just as 720p is 4X more pixels then SD, and 1080 is 6X more, 4K is 4X more then 1080, and 16X more then SD. Got it ? So your fast bad machine that edits a couple streams of 1080 right now will struggle with one stream of 4K. If you work with RED based material, you'll know what I mean. Good thing machines will get even faster. Its just a continuing game of catch up. 

4K will bring about even more need for universal open standards cross platform NLE that ANY vendor can implement for their hardware or software. ProRes plus gamma shifting and apples lack of creating consistent  correct handling of images in QT is a joke. MXF and its multi file format without consistent cross vendor implementation is another mess. Mpeg2 ? too old. H264 ? patent landmines. We need something that works !

However, the real end game is 8K. Sony's clear about it. I've seen 8K, its amazing. Until you've seen it, you won't understand. Its like 320X240 web video next to 1080. 8K makes 1080 look low res and lame, really it does. 

Right now there are a handful of prototype 8K cameras. In 10 years they'll be top of the food chain. 4K will be standard gear, and 1080 will be web video consumer came stuff. The last part already almost is in many places. RED cameras will be low end to be sure at 4K. I'm sure RED will probably have a 6 or 8K camera in a few years, but they won't be the only game in town. I'd expect Canon and Panasonic to also be in the game to. Its going to be a wild ride. The only thing I'm happy about is that my current cameras were paid for so quickly. My T2i is gone already, it lasted 6 months before I upgraded to the 60D. Hopefully the next wave of cameras will be equally affordable while making even better images. 

Canon adding Thunderbolt To Their Cameras

Canon announced that they are adding ThunderBolt interface to their cameras. This will be the new firewire to be sure. Added to a dslr, it probably won't make a difference because the speed limitation is the storage media itself, not the interface. Its also dismal that apple's FW ports are sub spec on the last couple generations of product. If you have ever used a FW cable over 12 or 15ft, that just doesn't work on intel machines. The old G4 laptops and G5 towers easily worked with 35 ft or longer cables. Thunderbolt should lead to super long fiber optic cables some day, but we'll see how long the copper cables will work.

Report From Japan

Two people I know in Japan have reported back they are ok. Things are messed up to be sure, but they and their coworkers are all right.  Here is a personal post - 



What a mess!

Actually, I haven't been able to watch much of the news so you 
guys may well have more information than I do at this point.

When you're far from a quake's center, the shaking drags out 
longer, so here in Tokyo (2 or three hours south of the area hit 
hardest) the main quake seemed to go on for about 20 minutes, 
ebbing and flowing in strength. Then quite strong after shocks 
started coming right away. I had gotten the TV on and was 
watching reports and sent out the initial email to you guys and 
family -- still jumping up on occasion to get near the door when 
an after shock hit. I was working at home yesterday.

After about an hour, things were obviously mainly over and I was 
about to get started on clean up here. Like many Tokyo buildings, 
our little house is very 'flexy' -- first floor just had a few 
things fall off shelves. Second floor, which really moves in a 
quake, is a mess. Three little rooms. One we use for storage, I 
can't even get the door open more than 6 inches yet. The other, 
where I often work on audio and video editing at home, is an 
utter mess. 90% of what used to be on shelves is one the floor -- 
computers, decks, books, tools.

Land lines and cell phones all dead, my wife's out there 
somewhere, can't get ahold of the folk at the office, and just 
about to start on clean up when my wife called from her work -- 
everyone's going home, but all the trains are stopped. So I jump 
in the car to go get her. Hour and half round trip took 3 hours. 
Traffic's crazy. Keep trying to call work. Never get through. 
Finally when we get home, fold from work had gotten through to 
our answering machine. No trains, so every one's walking home -- 
we live closest, so a bunch of them are headed our way. Jump back 
in the van, go out and find them, bring them back to our place. 
Then start ferrying 'em home. Done and got back home myself at 4 A.M.

The staffer who lived farthest away is about 20km out. Traffic 
crawling, we finally get to her place 2 A.M., and there are 
hundreds of people still hiking along the main drag trying to get 
home. I think Tokyo has 10 million commuters -- all walking home 
since the trains are out. It was pretty amazing to see, 
especially closer to downtown where I first caught up with my 
gang. Like the crowds stream out after a ball game -- but it went 
on mile after mile.

Apparently the company (6th and 7th floor of a downtown office 
building) is a mess. All the edit rooms have everything on the 
floor -- including nice new Ikegami HD monitors I just spend big 
bucks on! Haven't been able to get into the main studio yet -- 
much junk fallen in the hallway to make it to the door.

That high it shook so bad, and the so much plaster etc. was 
falling that everyone kind of freaked out and just wanted to go 
home. We'll begin clean up Monday. Wonder if we'll be able to get 
next weeks program out on time?

Obviously, though, while in Tokyo we are mainly inconvenienced 
with only a few tragedies, up north is a huge mess with huge loss 
of life. It's going to take years to get back to normal.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finally a simple nearly cheap LCD monitor mount

For years I've wanted a really dumb stupid simple LCD mount - a VESA plate with a 5/8 pin on it. Not rocket science, its barely garage level hacker. I made one plate like this a while back using the cheapest VESA plate I could find for about $15 in walmart plus some 5/8" rod. Now there is finally what everyone has been looking for.


Its available from Film Tools in 75mm and 100mm version for $40 each. Well cheaper then most other stuff out there at well over $100, but still more then just a bit pricey compared to even a baby plate. Did  I even say you can drill holes in a $15 baby plate and you're good to go ?  and before you even ask, why couldn't they make ONE version with both hole sets.... pass the 2X4 please. GRRRRR !

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Adobe has Flash -> HTML5 converter

Goodbye flash, you bug ridden performance killing abomination of code  that has plagued my life for 10 years. Adobe had announced this converter before, but now you can get your hands on it : a Flash to HTML5 converter app. It takes your flash file in, outputs editable human readable and modifiable HMTL5. Its called Wallaby and its still beta, but you can get it here. Adobe wants to keep selling their tools, so supporting HTML5 is a requirement as its been catching on pretty quickly. Certainly its clear if you want to do interactive / fancy stuff on iOS devices, HTML5 is where its at.

My prediction is that Catalyst will replace Flash the app for most of us, and I'd expect direct output of HTML5 rather then this conversion process i in the next major update to come out.  While Flash / AIR / Flexbuilder will probably live for a while longer, its pretty easy to see them fading away over the course of the next couple of years. Thank you Adobe for listening and getting it ! 

Monday, March 07, 2011

Is it a slider or a jib ?

Well this looks cool on first try.... but it didn't take me long to see through this one. There are certainly shots you won't see on it because they put a crappy bogen head on the thing and you can see the guy jerk the camera. You'd think they'd rent / beg / borrow a real head for shooting their own demo ! as they say, one to watch, but it needs an avid edit ;)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Shot on DSLR page up

I just put this page up. If you have some suggestions to add, send them on. I'm always looking for quality material here. There is plenty of Cult of Shallow DoF stuff out there... looking for something better. 

Lets try this one. Its Italian, has subtitles, and is very well shot.

Friday, March 04, 2011

DOJ Investigating MPEG LA

The Deptment of Justice is investigating MPEG LA's  WebM's patent pool game.  " “MPEG LA, which was formed in the late 1990s, manages the licensing of more than 1,700 patents used in a high-definition video encoding standard known as H.264. The Justice Department is concerned the group’s actions may stifle competition to that dominant format, the people familiar with the matter said."  Hey, couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of patent trolls... except SCO, but thats another story and we know how that one worked out.
 Honestly its time we put an end to software patents, and perhaps the entire patent system. 200 years ago it was structured to protect the little guy, but now its  being manipulated by Intellectual MONOOPLY companies. Patents no longer serve the purpose they were intended for, perhaps we need some Madison style protests in front of the patent office ! Full article here

A Few Days In Madison

I just spent a few days working in Madison WI covering protests, so I've been slacking off a bit with posts this week but I think I'm allowed when doing 12 hour days getting up at 5AM.
Here is a shot of me doing sound. Special thanks to Chris Hibben for getting me on this job, and taking the shot.
steve oakley in madison wisconsin capitol building
Its been interesting being a fly on the wall and having a small part in this historic event.  Yes some of the protesters have been in the building for at least a few days, and it was getting a bit smelly in there. The insides of the capitol building are totally covered in signs, some from pretty far off places in support of the people here. 
This is a time lapse I shot on a GoPro HD with LCD screen. I used a panavise suction cup base with ball head on the polished stone railing just about the center of the building. This is about 4 hrs condensed into 15 secs ending where they got into a big circle to channel energy.