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Friday, August 31, 2012

Sometimes You Work For Yourself

We all have projects we DREAD taking on. Usually because they will mean doing things we don't like doing, that cause us pain and aggravation. Such was the case of redoing the website for my own production company. While it looked cool, oh, say 6 or 7 years ago when I redid it from its original look, I was not wanting to do this. It was a big site, a lot of pages, a lot of content. After at least 2 years of procrastination I finally did it ! In fact it came together faster than I expected. The idea came to me easily enough, and I fixed the sins I'd made on the last version of the site. Ok, when I built the last version is was pretty much state of the web art, but now, uh, errrr, no comment !

The new site is actually simpler, but keeps most of the content. The far better part is that this new site is easy to change. The pages all share common files that mean change it once, its changed site wide. This is well beyond just a master CSS file. Components of the pages like the menu's are files. Getting older means hopefully getting smarter.

On my old site I had a flash slide show. It worked, it was ok but I couldn't change it. I'd lost the flash project file a while ago and that was that. The slide shows I have now are nice clean HTML5 magic. They are VERY easy to change and update as I get new material, or get tired of some bits.

I also got really Zen with CSS this time around. This has made maintainability and changeability much better. There are NO tables in this site. Tables, love them or hate them where a fact of life for a long time. This time around I decided to not use them. While there was a little learning involved, it also meant pages that won't come apart no matter what. It also means when I'm ready to do a mobile version things should be vastly simpler since its mostly CSS tweaking. Well thats the theory anyway ! Have a great weekend off !

Oh ya, I know THIS site is my next redo.... it never ends, does it ?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Canon Surprise - C100 for $8k

canon C100

An interesting suprise today : The C100. A somewhat stripped down version of the C300. The body is a bit smaller, most of the C300 features are there. They even left the internal ND filters in, but here comes the but - they changed the internal codec to AVCHD 24mbit. Whats not known is if the HDMI out is clean and you can record to an external box in ProRes. While this is a good move by Canon to have a lower priced body, its still over priced. No RAW, EF mount only ( no PL ). However it does have LOG which is good, and is supposed to have improved highlight handling. Bottom line is I'm sure its makes very nice pix, but if you look at the FS100 and FS700 both for less, even with EF adapters this is a bit short for the price. I think they should of priced this at about $5K to be competitive. Canon can of course always do so somewhere along the line, but they are protecting the C300, at least for now. You'll remember that Sony with the F3 had LOG recording as a $2K initial option, then they dropped the price, then they included it on all new cameras for free as I had predicted to keep the camera more competitive. Interesting times !

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ColorKode Is Open !

ColorKode is officially open. Who or what is that ? Its our official color grading and finishing business. Our main emphasis it to do grading work remotely. Send us your project, we'll grade it and send it back. Check it out

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Monday

The Question and The Right Answer found me on location before the sun was up. Many hours latter I'm wiring up Paul Ryan and getting levels for a live remote interview. All went well, life is good.

So its stuff like this that has taken me away from doing some of the projects and reviews I've been wanting to do. That said, know I'm up to 3 Sennheiser G3 systems and going for #4 shortly. While I do notice some HF loss with them ( MINOR )  their over all performance continues to make me happy - long battery life, reliable drop out free operation, frequency scanning, small size. I have some new stuff related to them coming soon.

Also on my radar is taking the Meyer Optik 50 1.8 I picked up for $20 out for  a test shoot with the OM 50 1.4. Even just premilnary tests show they are very different lenses with different qualities. The Meyer Optik makes some very tasty flares like a wide angle, but under control. Stay tuned for that. 

Meanwhile the Rokinon 35 1.4 is coming back from warranty repair over the next few days, shaking bits gone. I'm going to update my review on it. 

Last I have a very busy September coming up with a lot of shooting going on. Its going to be testing out some new glass as I go ! Its going to be fun.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Stupid Is A Stupid Does : Verdict in Apple vs Samung US Patent Trial

The jury mostly found in Apple's favor. They awarded a whopping $1.05B in damages to Apple.

Ok, lets get this straight - Samsung did copy Apple's stuff. Not much question how obvious that is. However, Apple has patents for the obvious stuff. The jury found Apple's patents to be valid ! What the hell are they smoking ? Are they serious ? How stupid can you be ?

This jury could of in many way laid software patents flat to the ground. If they had invalidated most of Apple's obvious patents the precedent would of been set that patents on the obvious when it comes to software should be struck down. Its nothing more than trying to get a monopoly on basic ideas. Lets face it, shoe laces would be patented if they could be. Its ridiculous. On thing for sure, you can bet Samsung will file an appeal. I very much hope they succeed in invalidating a lot of Apple's UI patents because for them to stand would be a chilling effect to all software innovation. Me personally, I think most software patents should be wiped away when it comes to ones that are general ideas, are simply the best obvious solution that only leave other far less better solutions to the problem, virtually al UI patents. Maybe I should go file a patent for the use of RGB 0,0,0 as a UI indicator for nothing, or for improving the readability of text on the screen as opposed to RGB 1,1,1. Ya.... its that stupid.

In some after thought, I'm almost thinking that the jury was overwhelmed. They got hit with a 700 question document which required a decision on each item with unanimous vote. I'm sure in many respects they just wanted it done and just started going with the obvious without really considering what the ramifications where. I'll also point out that the judge in this case limited the hours each side had to present witnesses. 25 hours could easily of been used to dispute just ONE patent. Yet all either side had was a very limited amount of time to deal with a hugely complex case. In some respects, while its good that the judge wanted to control the trial and prevent it for going on for a full year, he also did such a huge limiation on this that it borders on grounds for a mistrial because it prevented evidence and witnesses from being introduced and thoroughly examined. I also think Samsung's lawyers goofed the case up a bit too, but thats another thing entirely. 

One thing for sure, the appeal will be interesting.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Apple Releases 10.8.1 : UPDATED

Apple released the rather small 24mb 10.8.1 update. A direct download link and info is available here. For whatever reason its not showing up under normal software updates right now. The cause is probably Apple needing to update the servers that software update talks to.

10 minutes are I posted it, the update is showing up... then I installed it


10.8.1 is supposed to fix problems with long share names in SMB .. ok cool

so now none of my SMB shares show up... only macs with AFP

linux NAS with SMB and AFP ? nope

Win 7 PC's ? nope

I can manually get to the machines via IP but network discovery seems busted


After an hour or so, the SMB shares on the network showed up. Grrrr!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

KineRaw Announces Firm Prices & PreOrder

This interesting camera is slowly making it towards release. KineRaw announced a price of $6000 for the stripped down base model. No SDI, but the next model up does have it. I"d expect a very shootable setup to be $7k or maybe $8k. RED just made that sound in their pants hearing this **IF** this camera proves to be well made, stable, reliable. You can make a camera that works well at temps and conditions people find comfortable, its another to make a camera that works under conditions people find miserable or worse. Well we'll see what they deilver. I guess at this point its not a matter of if they deilver but when... and what RED will do in response.

Of course Sony has been making some moves as of late with their new APS-C sensor shoulder cam for $4500 too. It wouldn't take too much for Sony to add RAW 12bit on for a few dollars more in a next model up scenerio. In fact I'd be suprised if they simply weren't sitting on it waiting to see how the market shakes up. As for Panasonic... AF100 is pretty dated M4/3 and surely they must have something in the works... or not. Of far more interest is if Sony will build a sub $10k camera that competes with their F65. In the end I'm sure that the F65 will always have another stop or two of dynamic range than the "consumer" level sub $10K area. However, the differences between the two will remain small. If money is no object, get the best, for the rest of us, we'll be working through all the fine points of these cheaper cameras.

My Second Double Rainbow

I took this weekend off including monday. Its really been quite some time since I've actually taken any time off. So while out kayaking in the wilds of WI what do I come into ? this shot. 

Shot on my iPhone again ! While the iPhone doesn't really have a very wide lens, by shooting a series of vertical tiles and stitching them together in PS I was able to easily get this very wide angle shot. Again this all goes to show that sometimes the camera just doesn't matter if you have the right shot, some skill and imagination on how to use your tools.

Friday, August 17, 2012

New Sony $4500 APS-C Camcorder


BAM ! Sony just dropped a bomb I don't think anyone saw coming. $4500 street price for a APS-C camera with a mini shoulder mount style body. It looks like a trimmed down "big" camera. XLR X 2 audio inputs, uses SD cards or Sony memory sticks.The price includes an 18-200mm lens as well. I'm sure its probably a slow lens but included in the price thats great. Hopefully Sony will also offer this with out a lens for less. Lens mount is Sony E mount which isn't so great but to be expected. There are EF to E adapters out there. 

So it looks like Sony got the critisim about the FS100/700 form factor, got it about having a usable lens range and then beat their own price ! Oh yes, this camera also shoots still with separate shutter button and mechanical shutter.

Other specs -

frames rates

 1920 x 1080 59.94p59.94i50p50i29.97p25p23.98p

1280 x 720 59.94p50p
480 (576) 59.94i50i

- no 30 / 25 / 24 P in non 1080 modes ?????? hopefully something that gets fixed by the time it ships.

Exmor APS-C CMOS Sensor

SERVO 18-200mm zoom lens

The NEX-EA50UH can record simultaneously to SD/MS and an HXR-FMU128 (128G solid state plugs into the camera storage )

Framing guides for 4:3, 13:9, 14:9, 15:9, 1.66:1, 1.85:1, 2.35:1

HD video - AVCHD
SD video - MPEG2
Audio - LPCM/AC3

Stills - Format not specified


1 x HDMI Type A
3 x Component (RCA)
1 x A/V Out (RCA)
1 x USB Type Mini A/B

- No SDI... of course they left it off or this would too easily compete with bigger cameras. HDMI->SDI converter $300 + mount +something to rig battery on camera. Without SDI this camera drops down the list for live ENG work where you are feeding a truck live or even just getting your signal out. Enter that HDMI to SDI converter.

- Timecode .... on HDMI ? well if you convert it to SDI that can play with other stuff, but it does NOT mention a connection to get TC in or out of the camera to lock cameras up.Its entirely possible that one of the RCA jacks may dual purpose like some other cameras... or not. Its incredibly Sony to leave off a couple key features like this to force you into the next higher model. 

If you are interested B&H has it available for pre-order via our affiliate link. Supporting this site is ALWAYS appreciated ! Shipping date is expected to be Oct 15th

You Never Know What You Will Find Somwhere

Janesville WI. I was there as part of doing some live coverage of Paul Ryan being nominated to run with Romeny as vice president. I was there to capture picture and sound. While shooting an interview in a local store I came upon this tasty item - an old camera. While  plenty of folks must of walked by, after all who cares about any film camera like a Praktica ? On the front was a Meyer Optik 50 1.8 ! I bought the entire thing for well less than what the lens alone was worth. I have some M42 to EF adaptors on order. Some quick tests with just holding the lens up to the camera say this lens is a winner despite its simple 6 blade aperture. Ready to shoot some test very soon!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Building A Studio In A School Gym

Here is a timelapse I shot with my new GoPro HD2 of everyone building our production set up on monday.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

So What Are You Doing Tomorrow ?

The famous question that makes every freelancer happy. This time it was off to Janesville WI to spend a few days doing news coverage on Paul Ryan - his background, home town, and who is he type coverage. We never caught up with him directly, but did meet his brother, friends and people about town. As part of the coverage they decided to a live show. The high school Ryan attended offered their gym. So the race was on. Starting in the late afternoon we built what amounted to a studio with 3 cameras, prompter, return feeds and lots of lighting. 

This was one of those times when pretty much everything came out and got used : all my stands, 8X8 silk, 575 hmi ( that works all the time ). Another guy pulled out 2 400w and 2 200w HMI's, my 1K, some one else's 150w inkies. A pair of 1X1 light panels did some underlighting. The amazing thing is that we really lit the entire place up with under 4kw of light all pulled from wall outlets. It was great to be using so little power for such a large space. 


The live show went up and ran perfectly thanks to the team effort and all the toys we had to use. Of course this was the end of my day as we had actually started shooting interview content for the show at 8am. The broadcast was at 9PM and we wrapped out at 11:30. Long day !

Friday, August 10, 2012

Return To Pearl Trailer To Play At Miller Field Milwaukee

A project I worked on a couple months ago ( thank you Chris Hibben )  is having its trailer shown Saturday nite at Miller Park Milwaukee to 32,000 people. Its the lead in to another doc on WW2 vets taking a visit to Washington DC. 

If you are a broadcaster interested in airing this 1hr program for Dec 7th please contact me. 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Will The Sony A99 Be The Full Frame dslr Canon Killer ?

Photokina, the NAB of photography is next month. Sony's to be released A99 is rumored to be a full real video camera that shoots stills too. Its supposed not of been intentionally restricted like the Canon's because Sony isn't afraid. People buying F65's are an entirely different market with different needs and of course big budgets. 

Sony could potentally own the video dslr market if they don't hold back and give us a SHARP full frame camera. Me, I still like APS-C / S35 size but I'd certainly consider a full frame camera in the mix too. Of course I also have 3 GoPro's including one of the HD2 models. So its whatever gets the job done. I think if anything Sony should put a EF Mount onto the camera and let things go from there ! Thankfully I only have 2 lenses with electronic irises that I really care about EF mount. Many of my other lens are either full manual EF or vintage glass with OM mounted adapted to EF... or whatever else I may need to put them on. So it turns out getting good glass will prove to be the smart long term investment if they have the right mount on them. Camera bodies it seems are becoming disposable almost.

Warranty Service On My Rokinon 35 1.4

A few months back I did a review on this lens. In that review I had noted it had something shaking around. While a few flights, many thousands of miles of driving later it seems looser. I contacted Rokinon and they said send it in for repair, thats not normal. If this is the case I'd wish some one had would have said something. Let me ask you then, "Does your 35 1.4 have something shaking inside ?" I"m sending it out tomorrow and we'll see how long it takes for them to turn it around. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Canon 7D Firmware Update

Finally ! Here is what coming, and here is where to get it on the official canon download page. Its even 10.8 compaitible ! Manual audio and file naming are probably the key features anyone shooting video will care about. Having done some in camera audio recording on a 5D mk3 a week ago it was ok, not great. The 7D audio inputs aren't as good, but for feeding a clean reference track or stuff hits the fan backup its good enough.

  • Manual audio level adjustment in movie recording (yippee!)
  • File name customization (similar to 5D3)
  • Improved maximum burst for RAW images (up to 25)
  • Maximum Auto ISO setting (ISO 400-6400)
  • GPS compatibility
  • Time zone settings
  • Faster scrolling of magnified images
  • Quick control screen during playback
  • In-camera RAW image editing
  • In-camera Image Rating
  • In-camera JPEG resizing

Monday, August 06, 2012

BMD Camera Shots and Something From Olympus

First up, some shots from the BMD camera that should be here any day. Looks good even if the dark areas are a little bit noisy. Highlight handling seems good. Not sure what the grading was but it looks a little less saturated than perhaps I might like. Its certainly SHARP ! I was looking at some 5D mk3 material today and it just looks like mush in comparison but of course the BMD camera has a lot more DoF than the 5D. I guess part of the 5D problem is shooting with its detail level on 0 and then sharpening a bit in post. If you have CUDA, its not a big deal but if you don't its an extra pain point. If anything the camera on the wide shots has a bit of a video look in being too sharp. I guess you can kick up the gain or add some post processing to tame it down a little if you need to. Either way its nice to have a sharp image to work with for once. If anything it reminds of in some respects of S16 in terms of DoF. Can't wait to try it out.

Meanwhile some video shot on the new Olympus OM-D has popped up. Camera looks much like canon's except they graded this with too much saturation. The shots seemed free of moire and aliasing although vimeo's compression didn't do it any favors. Good to see some new camera footage.


Rokinon Introduces Cine 35mm T1.5 With PreOrder

Today Rokinon announced yet another cine lens - the 35mm T1.5. Given the great optical performance of the stills version, I really want to try this one out.

B&H has them available for pre order here.  Pricing at least at B&H is $539 which is only $40 more than the stills version. A VERY reasonable price considering you could spend $15 or so just for a lens gear. Also of note - this lens has DoF markings ! So I'd expect that the other cine lenses they have should be shipping soon for not much more than the stills. This also means I"d expect the 85mm 1.4 to also get the cine treatment. This is all pretty exciting that we finally have affordable cine glass with great performance. For about the price of one Ziess cine lens ( the "cheap" ones or cine modded still lenses ) you can have the entire set of Rokinons.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Talent Not Tools... Olympics Shot on iPhone by Dan Chung

Good tools help, but it won't make you great. To prove that Dan Chung shot the London Olympics with an iPhone plus a few helper lenses for wide angle and long lens close ups. Here is a look at his work over several days and plenty of great quality shots.