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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

ColorBars Are Next To Useless On LCD's

What might of worked so well for NTSC / PAL years ago just doesn't fly these days with LCD panels. The beloved bars will only give you the most basic go / no go idea of if a monitor is even in the ball park. Unless you have super calibrated eyes there are so many things that change with LCD's it isn't funny. They very often have non-linear gamma compared to CRT's, and can have color shifts as well, never mind maybe a screen might have different R,G and B curves.

The price of the panel may have no bearing on how good it is, to whit :

a $500 Asus P246Q 10bit panel is just plain red, and has a brighter then linear top end as shown by the Spyder3 Elite ( another piece of highly probablamatic gear). I have been messing with this panel now for a month with no love.

a $150 Vizio 17" monitor from costco was near perfect. Go figure this one out - dead on color and when running the MXO2 eyeball calibration routine, it showed all gray steps from black to white right out of the box. It required the most minimal of adjustments, and would of been fine as is. I'd recommend this as a location monitor if you want something cheap you don't have to worry about, and need something pretty accurate.

Eventually I'll get the Asus calibrated to the point I can trust it, or I may just spend a lot of cash on a couple of apple 27" monitors. They have great images, are IPS panels, but have one major flaw - glossy screens that make using them in most normal environments a problem, hence the reason I went with the Asus that had great reviews for 1/2 the price. Time will tell whether I should of taken my own advice and bought it right ( read more expensive ) the first time around. Given that you never really know what you get when you buy a panel, sometimes the cheap ones are great, and the expensive ones not so great. I'm not splurging on a Flanders this year.


color bars

Friday, May 27, 2011

Can you sell ANYTHING to dslr owners ? How about a $69.95 audio adapter worth $3

I'm just amazed at some of the overpriced stuff out there. Don't get me wrong, the price of gear over the last few years has dropped dramatically. It wasn't too long ago you needed $100K VTR to record HD video tape, now there are $1k-$3k solid state recorders with better quality. So here comes a 3.5mm to XLR adapter for $69.95. Lets get real, the XLR  can be had for $1 in lots of 20, $3 in Radio Shack if you want to really be ripped off. The  3.5mm adapter can snipped off the end of a 3.5->3.5mm cable you can also pick up for a $1 or so as a shortie. Add in 10 minutes to solder it up... ya $3. Premade ones can be found for not too much more. You can even find ones with line level -> mic level padding, ok, that requires 2 resistors in the XLR to get the job done. 

If you are really interested : Energy Transformation Systems, Inc

They must think dslr owners will buy anything.

So you think you can produce & direct ?

A one shot video with 5000 people in it. Next time you think getting a couple actors together on a location or two can be tricky.....

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Cheap Fix For Your LCD Loupe Eyecup

Most of the LCD loupe's out there have eyecups that are too small. An eyepeice cushion is the solution. Most interesting is which is actually another company we all know, Letus. For $5.40 ( plus shipping ) you can have a very nice eyepiece cover that will make things much better. I picked up a couple of microfiber ones in gray. While I'm sure some folks may find a red eyepiece cover on their RED camera is not being a fashion slave, I opted for the neutral gray color.  its a 100% improvement over the skimpy ( but better than most ) rubber eye cup. The cushion has a slot in the middle that you slide the rubber cup into with a bit of fiddling. 


yepiece chamios for letus hawk


yepiece chamios for letus hawk EVF

Sunday, May 22, 2011

This week, Will my monitors finally match ?

This week I'm back to battling color matching with my monitors. This has been a frustrating exercise to get them to work. I actually got a call from Datacolor last week and talked with some one, so hope may be on the horizon. 

Last week I shot some very tasty material, and I'm shooting again 2 days this week. Here are a couple of shots from last week. I've got my slider out for this that I had to mod in order to get a real tripod head onto. 



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Super Cool iPhone Video Camera App

Link To App on Apple

Just brought to my attention today is a super cool new app for the iPhone. 

Whats the big feature ? Variable Fame Rates including 24FPS !

It also lets you set 2 focus / exposure zones and has VU meters !

Add in some framing guides and grids. Not a bad deal for $2.99

If you have a HD capable iphone ( and I'll guess iPad ) this can certainly give you a B cam option when you need it. I'd certainly not pretend you'd want to shoot anything too serious with an iPhone but we all know some one will try :)




Where Did The Week Go and My Monitors Still Don't Match

Things are busy, thats always good. I've got a heavy shooting schedule this week and next, no complaints. 


Meanwhile I"ve been messing with monitor calibration as an exercise in wasting time.  I've had sporadic emails from tech support at DataColor who makes the Spyder3. It might get one monitor adjusted somewhat decently, but their software seems pretty flawed. It just can't seem to calibrate to any standard reference point and bring the monitor as close as it can to that point. I still have one monitor with a tinge of green, and the new Asus 10bit panel is stil a bit red. I think I"m gonna try some eyeball calibration now and see if I do any better.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Delta Lottery, I mean Airlines


This week I got to spend a few days shooting in Florida. It was great to see and work with some old friends for a few days. Getting there is another thing. If you do location work, flying is a misery of life and its gotten worse over the years. I'm often now just driving because its sometimes actually faster, certainly simpler, and usually cheaper plus no rental cars . I can have my van with full gear package.
Delta : I had always complained that NorthWest should of been called North Worst. Since they merged into Delta, I can say Delta is by far worse run. If you fly its a lottery of chance now, but you can hedge your bets.
1: Check in early - either online via their website, or using their iPhone app. The problem is if you are traveling with a couple cases of gear and want media rate which the website doesn't support you can't complete the check in process.
2: Miles - you have a frequent flyer account, right ? people with more miles have less chance of getting bumped, its stated airline policy. Makes sense that you take care of your better customers, even if it may not seem fair. 
3: Media Rate on those cases. Have a network ID card, or letter from your employer that you are on location assignment. Media rate is $50/ bag up to 100lbs which is a much better deal then the standard consumer rate. Not all gate agents know how to deal with this, so they may need to call a supervisor or more senior agent over.  You will have to go to a gate agent to the the rate as the kiosks don't have the option. You can of course always ship the gear out ground ahead of time, but if you have a busy production schedule this isn't always possible.
4: Be On Time : if 50 people show up before you, you may not get a seat so being at the head of the line counts. Online check in helps. 
5. New airline rules : They have to get you there on the next flight within 2 hours of your original arrival time. Well good luck when you are going into a smaller regional airport. My local airport used to have a flight about every 2 hrs in or out, so missing one wasn't a big deal if you got bumped. All that has changed now and it generally has only 3 flights coming in, late morning, late afternoon and mid evening. This is due to the phase out of smaller turbo prop planes and the use of larger regional jets as well as   the fact they are just cutting back on the number of flights altogether. Good luck if you miss the last flight out.
6. Don't take flights with close connection times. They offered one flight with just a 30 minute layover time. Given they almost always tend to run 10 minute late on arrival time, even if you run thru the airport and make the boarding, you luggage may not…. ya those cases of gear you need to do your job. 
If you plan ahead, you do well too on Delta Lottery too. As for some other airlines like Southwest, I won't even fly them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ver 1.0.9 Firmware for 60D released Installing Technicolor Cinestyle

This firmware release  is a bit old dated 3/24/11 but no one seems to of noticed much.

 if you are trying to get the new techincolor cinestyle installed, you need this and the latest version of the EOS utility FOUND HERE.

To actually install this and get it to work :

Install Firmware 1.0.9 onto the camera

Install V2.10 of the EOS utility

Set camera to M or B mode, go to what canon calls the menu item, but its actually a part of their funky UI in the small window.

Hit the Camera Icon in the small control window, then under the Shooting Menu part of the window, select a user defined setting.

You'll now notice that Register User Setting is now available. Hit it

A dialog opens, and hit the Open File button. Select the style and load it, Hit Ok

This will only work in STILLS mode on the camera. If the Load File Icon is grayed out / doesn't work your in video mode.

Now change the camera on its dial to video mode.

Go to the Shooting Menu area of the small UI window

Select Register User Setting however this time when you go to load the style, the Load File button is grayed out. 

I bet you just had a WTF moment, this is supposed to work, right ? Check this out :

Open the pop up menu, Cinestyle is at the bottom !

Talk about convoluted screwed up UI ! ok, at least it works but hopefully you won't have to waste an hour messing around to figure all of this out.

Now on for some camera tests.

Website Is Being Updated

If you happen to see this site looking odd, try refreshing or coming back in a little bit. We're in the process of updating some things including the underlying code that runs the site. This will probably take a week or so while it happens.

Very Cool 5D music video

"Turn The Screw"  

This is NOT your average low budget music video. Its got some really great images, CG and composite work. Shot on a 5D. It looks like far more money was spent on it. Some great treatments and imagination. Take a look.


Sunday, May 08, 2011

I Want NTSC Back, I think. Asus P264 and Spyder3 Elite Ponderings

Monitors monitors on the wall, who's color is most accurate of all ?

At least in the days of SD NTSC, you bought a Sony CRT of the PVM or BVM series, setup bars, did a little minus green on it, and you were good. Yes Sony CRT's tended to be a little green from the factory, and it was a quick consistent fix to adjust. Sure you could go crazy with a monitor probe to tweaking the RGB drives, but in general these monitors were very consistent. Setup bars and you knew you generally had a trustable consistent reference standard. Those where the good old days.
Enter LCD panels for HD. While any given panel from a given manufacturer can be pretty consistent from panel to panel, once you start comparing even different models built using the same screen panel they will be different. Its not so much overall color, but critical color. Once you start looking, especially with two panels next to each other everything is out the window. You'll start to notice one panel may be a little bit red, another green, and a third blue when looking at grays and "pure" white.
You can stare at bars all day long and come to the conclusion they match, however watching real pictures is another story. The first thing you'll notice is varying gamma between panels. This is generally most evident in the dark areas of the picture from just above black to 50% gray. Some, in fact most LCD monitors I"ve used tend to boost dark areas of the picture. This means when shooting in lower light levels, the monitor makes you think you've got more then you really have. They certainly don't match what you are used to seeing on a CRT monitor. 
The entire area of LCD color can be a nightmare really. Some displays are only 6bit, but do some tricks to try to eack out 8bit actual colors. There are some true 10bit displays, but they are often in the mid 4 figures or higher. There are some cheaper panels claiming 10bit, or even "true" 8bit NTSC color gamut. Maybe.
I recently bought a Asus 10bit P246 display. Its claim is full 10bit NTSC / Adobe RGB color space.  When I first got the display, I spent several days messing with it trying to get it adjusted. It proved to be completely futile because I have NOTHING to reference it to. Any on screen visual calibrations led to disappointing results. I came to the conclusion that I really needed some sort of color calibration tool. Some research showed that the unit of choice that wasn't a serious 4 figures was the Spyder3 Elite. I bought one.
From here I expected that the Spyder would give me its own perfect internal reference, and get the monitor adjusted with a LUT in the video card so that I know had "reference color".  Well is didn't work that way.  The first panel I had in fact had a dead pixel, so I eventually warranty exchanged it, but not before putting a color meter on it.. The meter claimed it did indeed have NTSC color gamut. Now as I mentioned, I did exchange it and the second one metered out as having sRGB color space, even when in the same picture setting as the first screen i had.
I need to quit right here for the moment ,  more in the next day or two as I give you the rest of the story since I'm still in fact trying to sort it all out.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Matrox MXO2 LE MAX NEW For Sale

I have a brand new factory sealed MXO2 LE MAX for sale with your choice of laptop or PCIe tower interface. Works in Mac or PC, FCP or  Prem Pro. $1250. Contact me via email link if you are interested.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Working This Week

What do you mean no cool product review this week ? How could you ! How about a cute cat picture instead ?

shot of cat


Ya I know... this is the shot that will make me famous !

I really have been working on location this week, long hours. Here is shooting in the OR yesterday. No worries, I didn't get to try out my new career in medicine in fact there wasn't even a patient this day,


Don't worry cool stuff is coming !

Monday, May 02, 2011

Cinestyle from Technicolor Released Today

More new toys ! the much hyped Technicolor EOS camera style is now available. PDF docs are included. So far most regrettably, they seem to think that people ONLY edit in FCP by releasing a LUT for a FCP plugin to get you back a neutral settings. I guess this means I can run some dynamic range tests and see if this is for real, or just another shoot flat setting that doesn't do much except help you get a 7 bit image.


Adobe Creative Suite CS5.5 Is Shipping

Here's mine !


adobe creative suite cs 5.5 master collection