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Friday, April 29, 2011

Donald Trump Interview : Does The Camera Matter ?

They say content is king. usually, sometimes.

This is an interview I shot with Donald Trump sometimes in the spring or summer of 1998, 33 secs long. Now everyone likes to bash dslr's for how bad they can alias at times, but here is a "real" sony camera, a UVW-100. Never my favorite camera compared to a 400A or 600, you used what you had some days. The aliasing on this camera is crazy when you look at it. Yes I did properly deinterlace the ciip for the web, thats just how the camera looked some days. I am pretty sure I even have a #1 Black Pro Mist on the camera to try to take as much edge away from it as possible.  I was also shooting for Lifetime for some women's fashion show pilot. No idea if the material every got used, but I figure all this time later this might be good for a laugh, or just to prove some people never change who they are - just watch as he disses his girlfriend.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Magic Lantern Update 60D Coming In The Next 24-48 Hrs !

You heard it hear first, just sit and wait with anticipation :) !

NAB Trend #5 : The Battle of the NLE's Gets Hot With 50% off Deal From Avid

This NAB was certainly the battle of the NLE's with all the majors - Avid, Apple, Adobe, Autodesk and Sony having released or are about to release major updates. I guess Avid wasn't to happy with apple's presentation showing a graph of them competing with Premiere Pro for a distant second place in NLE usage. So they are making an interesting offer : $995 cross grade from FCP to Avid MC5.5 from now until June 15th. You have to prove you are a legit FCP user with valid serial, fine print, lawyer mumbo jumbo. The deal is available from various resellers. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

NAB Trend #4: Its Cheaper

You would think this NAB was more like a cruise through the local Walmart with price cuts everywhere :

Flame: $250K now as I hear it a paltry $125K and they'll throw in smoke and lustre, what a deal !

FCP : now $299 as a stand alone full version seat

scratch : available on mac or win 7 for only $17K, thats a 50% price cut !

da vinci : still only $995 for the software only version

Solid State HD recorders starting at $995

HD video I/O starting at $199

Even consumer 4K res cameras at $2k ?

Its crazy out there this year. All over the place, everywhere you look there are price cuts going on. This is both good and bad. Good for making it easier to get into some higher end tools by more people, but bad because it can cause price erosion for the services we provide with those tools.  Be careful of what you pray for, you might get it. Cheaper tools doesn't always translate into better profitability for you, and in fact could be just the opposite.

V1.2.5 Firmware for the 7D officially available

This update popped up for a few hours a day ago, now it appears to be online for real. who knows...

Download the Canon 1.2.5 Firmware Update for the 7D is here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

RIP Tim Hetherington

 Sad breaking news today as we get word that Restrepo Documentarian Tim Hetherington Confirmed Killed in Libya. Photographer Andre Liohn wrote from Misrata on his Facebook page

 " Hetherington died in Misrata when covering the front line. Chris Hondros is in a serious status. Michel Brown and Guy are wounded but fine."


Further updates say that Chris Hondros is now also dead.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

NAB Trend #3 : Film is So Dead


Maybe I should call this series of posts the Walking Dead of NAB ? The first affordable 4K camera was RED. To say it has its quirks and workflow issues is understatement. Now Sony has their act together finally with the new F65 4K camera. 
Sony 4K projected as 4K looked amazing ! Low light performance was excellent, reproduction of color, dynamic range was excellent. Not only was the camera's 4K images amazing, they were also very low noise as well. Sony can make great cameras when they want to, and price is no object. I won't be that harsh on Sony since they do make several reasonably priced HD cameras too these days that they never would of dreamed of making when the F900 came out. This is the first Sony camera I've been interested in for a very long time.
The body is pretty compact compared to some other 4K cameras out there. Sony built a 1TB memory card to go along with camera. I didn't catch a price, but I'm sure its not cheap, and more then an Alexa. This probably isn't a camera anyone will personally own, but for rentals it should be pretty hot. 
That thing on the back that looks like a triax adapter or battery pack is actually the recorder. It takes one of those 1TB cards to record on and provides additional I/O connectors on the other side.
The camera actually has an 8K sensor downresing to real 4K, 2K or HD. Lots of options here plus 1.85:1, 1.78:1, 1.66:1, 1.33:1, 2.35 spherical, 1.3x anamorphic, or 2x anamorphic cropped, FPS 1-120. 
The camera shoots 16bit RAW, so image quality is pristine, and its got lots of dynamic range. Now if working with a RED was maddening, this camera I think takes all those problems away, for a price. The question is, now that there is a camera that equals film in every way, and in some ways exceeds it, why will anyone bother to use film anymore ? 
Check out the Behind The Scenes Video On the Sony Site

Monday, April 18, 2011

NAB Trend #2 : Tungsten Lighting Is Dead


One trip around the middle hall would of made this one jump out at you: there were very few tungsten fixtures out there. There were lots of fluorescent fixtures to be sure, but LED's where out in force. Many LED lights where taking on the form of conventional tungsten lights. The big guys are of course Arri.  Their new LT-7 series lights that are more like HMI's in case size and shape are 220W of LED power that lets them put out 1000W of conventional light. If you work on location, you know juggling power loads on wall outlets can be a pain. Now consider that 9 ARRI L7 Fresnels can be run off a single 20 A, 110 V outlet, as opposed to only two 1000 W or three 650 W tungsten fresnels.
There's more, these lights have computers in them ! The light engine is fully upgradeable, ensuring that the fixtures can take advantage of technology advances as and when they happen. The firmware is upgradeable through the USB port on the rear of each unit, accommodating future control protocols such as ACN and incorporating other system enhancements that may become available in due course. Updating firmware on a light is just weird.
Last but not least there is the color temp adjustable version going from 2700K to 10,000K. 
This is great, this is amazing, and so is the price. The LT-7C adjustable light I heard was MSRP of $2900! I mean lets get real, I have no doubt that  they are putting something into these lights, and those high power LED's and cooling them isn't simple or cheap, but thats expensive. You can pick up 1200W HMI's in the same ball park. 

Enter Lights From China

The other big part of this trend is that there where a number of Chinese companies selling LED lights. However, many of the MSRP's weren't that cheap, and I'd call them down right expensive. They weren't leaving a penny on the table at NAB, but on ebay thats another story. I'd suggest shopping there and buying direct where the prices are reasonable. I know if you have never bought stuff directly from China it might seem a little scary, but I've bought a number of production items from lights to lenses without a problem except shipping times can sometimes be really slow. Be careful on how they ship things because I've had anything from 2 days to an average of 2 weeks to 2 months in one case.  
Now while I was at NAB, I was doing  some shooting and had just bought 2 120 battery powered LED lights. The manufacturer of the lights was there and I had a good conversation with them. They are seriously interested in listening to customer feedback and improving their products way faster then the old lighting brand companies are. While I was there they had an updated version of the light I had just bought which had an external DC power connections added. I had just bought old stock !  They suggested I contact the guy I'd bought them from to see if they could hook me up with an adapter.
The big name light companies have not had any reason to really do anything differently for the last 20 or 30 years. Sure there are electronic ballasts over magnetic : a mixed blessing of much lighter weight versus lower reliability and higher startup current. A couple years back tungsten PAR lights came about, but really things have been pretty static for movie lights. Kino's are old school now !
With all these new companies competing, its a new game out there. Arri seems to be seriously working at it, but as to the other guys, who knows, we'll see.  Its good to see competition once again in lighting gear. LED lights are great power and heat savers for location work in real places not wired for movie making. If you don't own any yet, I think you will soon. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

NAB Trends : Whats Tape ? UPDATED

This year there were several small HD solid state recorders that could take SDI or HDMI in. Prices ranged from about $1k to $3k. If you have a tape based camera like a varicam, these boxes are bringing those cameras into the tapeless age.  All these new boxes had monitors of some sort and size with the cheapest unit having its screen touch sensitive to use on screen controls. Sound Devices probably released the best units with solid metal construction, real buttons, real connectors, and optional TC support on the $2600 PIX 240 model. The Sound Devices box is probably the one pro's will buy because of a couple of killer features :


1. External Stereo audio. before you can say "but don't many cameras have a frame or two of delay on their SDI outputs ?" Sound Devices has an adjustable delay to compensate. Don't you love it when they get it right in V1.0 firmware ?

2. Metal construction, solid sealing of the unit because, hey, sometimes we do shoot outside in the rain or snow.

3. If you don't need TC, you can get the PIX 220 mode which is a cheaper unit for $1600.

4. Record to ProRes or DNxHD codecs, ready to edit.

5. Use the SSD or CF cards of your choice.

6. Dual onboard batteries for continuous run time thats basically unlimited.

There is also way more including  media thats formatted by the PIX recorders as UDF volumes. UDF-formatted media are not limited to 4 GB file sizes like FAT32-formatted media. Additionally, UDF volumes are cross-platform, being directly mountable, readable, and writable in Mac OS and Windows. Hey these guys get it that takes need to be longer then 12 minutes.

The no brainer prediction : these units are going to be the industry standard for recording video because of their price, small size, rugged build, high quality image processing ( cross conversion, output ) high quality analog audio and digital audio ins, and ideal media choices with 2 popular codec options that record 10bit images.


The ATOMOS Ninja



$1k, touch screen, HDMI, SSD or drive in onboard removable sled, ProRes. Is there anything else I need to say ? well yes, its not as well sealed as the Sound Devices unit, and its a SD rather then HD res screen. However, the company is listening to users about making changes in its on screen controls and display, and if you don't need a top of the line unit, I think this one will make a lot of folks very happy.


I can't see anyone bothering to use tape if you have one of these units on your camera.  Even Sony had a 1TB solid state media card. Thats right, even Sony is getting it. The earthquakes in Japan have put tape production of everything from Beta SP to HDCAM SR down for now. Just try buying a SR tape if you can find one. Between this tragic even and market movement, I doubt tape has much life in it except at the networks who want SR deliverables. However, if you can even buy the tape, this may have to change in the next few months.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Back From NAB, Almost

I'm back from NAB, almost ! I'm in the minneapolis airport posting this saturday afternoon. The very best stuff at NAB I can't talk about.. NDA's and all. What I won't talk about is the zillion product announcements you've read everywhere a dozen times. What I will talk about are some emerging trends at NAB which requires a bit more thought and consideration in taking in so many things.

First I went and did some rock climbing with my GF. Good for concentration ! Dig the lectrosonics T shirt :)



The shots were taken with my 60D + Tamron 17-50 2.8 and I didn't shoot any video while there ! I was really in civilian mode. However, some of the peace and quite was broken up by some guys shooting a car commercial with a helicopter, hanging a RED out the side on a Tyler mount. Pretty hard not to make amazing pictures in a place like this ! Its the same spot they shot parts of Star Trek "Generations"


The rest of the week as I catch up with work and follow ups from NAB conversations, I'll start putting up some things I saw at the show worth thinking about, but here is a starter : Tungsten lighting is dead.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Off To NAB

I'm off, see you all there ! Monday Nite Media Motion Ball at the Sahara probably has a few tickets left. I"ll be shooting some B roll of the event. Tues, I'm taking the nite off, bypassing the FCP super meet, wed is a private sit down event I'm really looking forwards too. Thurs will probably be the Brew Pub.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

New Nikon D5100 Camera Announced

Nikon seems to be slowly catching up with this new camera, priced under $900. Looks more like a t2i / t3i with swing around LCD. Press Release Here


Sneak Peak : Adobe Story in Premiere Pro

Avid has script sync and phrase find, Adobe seems to have about the same thing coming soon in this technology sneak peak... and FCP ? bupkis.   This demo of Prem Pro + Story is pretty much what I'd call the holy grail of editing scripted works to actual shots, just watch.


Linux turns 20

Why does LInux Matter ? because its inside a lot of devices you use everyday like your cell phone or TV, and it powers the internet and many major sites there. It may even be inside the camera you shoot with ! So how about something thats not part of NAB hype, FCP speculation, ect. I'm sure next week we can all be overwhelmed with all the new toys we'll have to play with, many of them using Linux inside.

Here is a great History of Linux in 3 minutes.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Techincolor and Canon Working Togther For New DSLR Style

In more interesting news today, technicolor has announced its been working with Canon for a year to develop new camera style(s) to "maximize latitude". Will this new style be a firmware update ? free ? or as I may suspect, paid ? or some flat funky style that will let technicolor have "maximum data" for their own DI process. You know no one spends that much time and effort doing something unless they expect a return. Technicolor wants to process film, but thats going away, so next best thing has to be getting digital "raw" images they can do stuff with, charge somewhere some how for working with them, and outputting what is for now, a release print.... maybe. Read it all here

You can see it with your own eyes at NAB next week... you're all going, right ?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Apple to Show FCP at Supermeet Tues at NAB

The Super Meet site has been updated, all other sponsors doing presentations have been booted out. Ya I guess apple was listening when I said they can't afford to squander the PR of NAB, or looking bad by having nothing to show. More Here - but this is the quote below.



Agenda (UPDATED!)

The Final Cut Pro User Group Network is excited to have a very special guest presentation at the 10th Annual Las Vegas FCPUG SuperMeet. Come to see a surprise sneak peek at something very special - you really do not want to miss this one,

Monday, April 04, 2011

Coming Up

I've been under a pretty intense workload the last week or so, but still managing to put stuff out. After NAB I've got 2 reviews in the works. One is on a new "affordable" 24" LCD monitor, and the other on the Kenko 1.4X converter. The Kenko has been sitting here for a week, but alas my gear is out being shipped around all over the place between shoots.

At NAB, you can catch me at the Media Motion Ball monday nite. Maybe the Brew Pub on thurs nite, and on the floor mon thru wed. What I know I won't be doing is posting the same news everyone else is from NAB. First because I'm going to be silly busy, and second, there are a million other places all posting the same stuff. I'm going to look far more at trends that emerge from the show, and my overall sense of the vibe at the show. I'm sure I'll get some little news snippets in I'm going to be privy to :)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Shoot and EDIT Video On Your iPhone

There are a couple of editors for the iphone. This one comes from vimeo and looks pretty cool. Official announcement here


The Vimeo iPhone app is here! from Blake Whitman on Vimeo.

I haven't tried it yet but maybe when I'm at NAB I'll use it for a quick and dirty podcast. Get it from Apple from this link.