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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Get Your Sleep and leave the Snooze Button Alone

Words to live by, get your rest. I usually wake up slow when I smack the snooze button never going back to sleep. I just like to take 10 minutes to get going for the day. This video has some insight in if you really do go back to sleep. If anything I'll set 2 alarms if I think I won't make it up on the first ring. After all a lot of production work is having back up, and a back up alarm is a cheap simple easy one !

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This Is My Week

My Week started with that usuall phone call - hey what are you doing tomorrow ? can you crew a 2 camera shoot plus audio ? An hour later it was booked.  I was on the road before sunrise, worked most of the day on a physically demanding job, drove home watching the sun set. The rest of the week looks just as busy so posting here has been slow. Add on that I'm working on finishing my short that I shot several weeks ago. Basic edit its pretty good, I've started grading it and the mix is in decent shape. So that is getting close too.... and it all takes LOTS of time. It'll all get there.

On my short I used one of my 60D's to shoot some close ups. Well that was interesting.Basically I'll give you the very short version : I'm selling one of my 60D's because I don't need 2 still cameras and the video from them isn't making me happy. I"ll go into it a lot more soon when I have some time talk about it... or even do a video :) !

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oooops ! No Thats Not What I Really Said

Bad day today. I was running around doing too many things at once. I wasn't even shooting. My C100 + Rokinon 14mm cine where sitting on my desk, safely. One quick turn, low hand and I got to see the camera fly off the desk and bounce on the floor. I saw the lens part from the body and assumed the worst. I left the room, I couldn't look. I came back a minute later. The outer plastic housing of the Rokinon gave away. The back of the lens was still firmly in place on the C100. Camera came away fine. The lens OTH isn't. Email to Elite Brands who distributes Rokinon in the US said send it in. Chance of repair low because there probably aren't parts available. This would be an easy fix and I'd do it myself if I could get the parts. Probably not. Thats not right. Given how easy it is to break, they should have this last part of the body available for replacement. 7 screws is all it takes. Also FWIW the insides are some sort of cast metal with some brass parts. The guts look pretty solid, although some other camera makers would of used stainless steel for internal levers and sliders. Well that's one compromise that gets made in delivering a product for less. We'll see what they say once it gets there.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Will I Really ?

Buy the new Mac Pro ? Hmmm. I said this a few days ago before the big apple reveal of the New Mac Pro and most importantly, its price -

For me, the lack of dual 16X PCIe slots is simply a deal killer outright. Those slots are probably some sort of mini PCIe 16X bus, but if apple isn't sharing that spec with nVidia thats not good. Also consider that ANY card for those slots will be premium priced because of the limited product production. Thats another deal killer. The rest of the box is what I expected for the most part.

At $5k I don't see good ROI, especially if you have to add on another $1K + in TB storage & I/O. I mean really, not even an single extra drive hole ?

I have a 3.1 mac thats plenty productive. How ? the simple answer is I've upgraded it completely - 3 drive array and SSD have made a huge difference. Most importantly a new current gen GPU. SInce so much of the work I do uses the GPU that has been the critical difference in keeping this machine relevant. Most of my AE work isn't that CPU intensive and I have 2 more i7 macs to spread the load onto if I really have to. you know what ? I rarely do that. Most of my AE work these days doesn't entail long renders. AE has gotten much better as using machine resources is a part of that.

I don't need a 24 core machine. What I could use is a i7 6+6 core machine with a reasonable price.

so my need and want to upgrade to the new mac pro is pretty much zilch. if anything I'll get a last gen tower used or refurb so I have have the slots I need for stuff like my mxo2 and bmd extreme and my GPU's. Fact is those about to be old towers with much faster RAM and bus speeds to feed the CPU's / GPU's play more of a difference over older machines than some other differences. my laptop is a very productive machine for rough cutting and often finishing projects. Full PP cut, maybe some AE work, grade in resolve, mix, export to whatever. However, since apple has quit making 17" laptop's I'm again kinda screwed - I'll have to keep this machine working a lot longer than I'd anticipate since apple isn't making a replacement I want.

All of this will over time will probably force me off of OS X because apple simply isn't making a machine to fit my needs and wallet. Thats sad for all the money I've directly spent with apple, never mind all the apple product I've installed for clients back in my consulting days. I don't view a hackintosh as a reliable way to run machines you depend on everyday to make your living. Living one accidental upgrade away from not being able to work is just too scary. Apple should just licence OS X to run on a couple select towers and laptops from HP and be done with it and be done with it. They have lost us as customers already, just give us a graceful exit strategy.

Today I mostly stand by those words. I'm not editing 4K. No real plans for that right now because I don't have a BUSINESS model or need for it. As much as I drove the local market early into HD production this is a bit different. While Retina aka HDI displays will make 1080 become a somewhat postage stamp format on the screen of 2K or even 4K res, it still holds up. Its not SD. Part of my reasoning in getting a C100 was its much sharper as good as 1080 gets image. Its 4K downsampled to 1080 and I think that will stand up very well.

Don't get me wrong, I've seen a decent amount of 4K on 4K displays or projection and it makes 1080 look like VHS.... but we are very early into 4K. Its not really a consumer concern. So I'm taking the we'll see approach on this one. If anything I'll probably grab a used last gen Mac Tower to move production onto, if the price is right.  While the new Mac Pro is probably a very fast machine, it will drain your wallet just as fast. $3k for a 4/4 core machine doesn't make so much sense. I was hoping to see the 8 core machine come in at that price, but not using those stupid Xenon processors. Lets face it, Intel gouges for them and its a big part of driving the price of the machine. Apple slashed its costs on the cases and other aspects of the machine build, but has other expensive parts inside. Its part of how I imagine they killed the tower otherwise the case costs would of added an easy $500 onto the price of the machine. Of course the new machine also pulls a lot less power, especially when idle. Perhaps you might make back a few hundred in electricity useage on the new machines. Nice savings, but it doesn't offset their steep price. In many respects the 27" imacs are where I think a lot of production pro's will end up because the price is more palletable if you really want to stay on mac.


Monday, October 21, 2013

5AM !

Well this is what my 5am looking like. OUr new radio show is up and running. How on earth did I get into this ? long story ! The main thing is everything worked including some interfaces I built from scratch - a pile of parts made into something useful. Well I'll be back at this for the most part everyday along with all the other production work I've got going on.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

DaVinci Resole 10 Beta 3 Released and Other Stuff

BMD continues to work on getting Resolve V10 into shape. They released Beta3 recently. The new features in V10 are pretty huge and one of the areas of much improvement is the timeline editor. Its basically moving along into being a fully qualified NLE.One of the big improvements here is a basic titler. Useful for not just labeling a grading pass but all the usual basic titling jobs. They added more options for burning in info for TC burns. Greatly expanded audio support. OpenFX plugin support including temporal filters. The full version adds motion blur and motion tab. With all these benifits there is also increased demands on the GPU and VRAM. They now recommend 2gb for HD and 4gb for 4K. If you are a serious Resolve user you are probably already there and might even have a multi GPU setup. If not, well, GPU upgrade time is here again. Thankfully thats generally a far cheaper option than a full system upgrade.

In other news I've just been heavily loaded with work. The new syndicated radio show goes live mon morning and I'm still working on the last bits of the studio build out. Always a few more things to tweak out and make better or more reliable. Profanity kill switch is my project today. I'm also now doing sound mix for a TV series every week and have had a decent amount of freelance work coming in. So my chances to post stuff like I normally do have been really limited. I still haven't edited the last scene in the short I shot a few weeks ago. It looks great, good story, great acting I just need to finish it and get it out there !.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What Am I Doing ?

Hey, so I've been slow posting stuff. GoPro Hero3+.... nice, ok, no post. A few other nice tidbits have gone by, I've been silent. Why ? well because after having had a camera of some sort in my hands since the age of 8, I'm building a radio show ! WHAT ! Yes its true, all that sound experience, TV studio build outs and other fun bits are today being part of building a new RADIO studio ! We're going to syndicate a show across several stations here in WI and eventually the midwest and internet.  Who knows... I have no clue how we figured out how to make money in radio after having been doing TV and web forever ! Life is about change and evolution ! making the full circle. 

Lots of long nites in this. While every build out has its problems, this one has pretty much been the one where even the dumbest simple things fight you. When we moved into this new space the build out for 2 edit rooms, machine room, patch bays, ect. went well. No major problems or surprises, just work work work  and it all got done. This has been anything but that. I've had to learn a lot of new stuff on the automation end and make it work.

As usual I've been deep in the stuff getting it all to work. You can see my wire stippers and meter here as I check out the cables I've been making while they are next to the latest in integrated audio boards - it works with automation software running on ( GASP ) Win7. Ok, all we do is boot the OS on SSD and run the automation app thats somewhat but not totally stable. It gets locked into certain modes and only force quit aka task manager can get things back. Really a bit less stable then I'd like but hey, we go live next monday ! Nothing like live broadcast in either TV or radio. Hold on, shut up, go for the ride !

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

You Have a Plastic Bag, Right ?

One of the most important things you always have in your camera case, a ( preferably clear ) plastic bag. While a real rain coat for the camera is nice, you don't always have it when you need it. A month ago I went out on a nice sunny day, but saw some thunder clouds forming to the north. Didn't worry too much, but 40 minutes later, deep in the woods it was clear they were coming my way. Walking fast it was clear I wasn't going to make it back to the car. Of course my new camera had been here for only a week and it was about to get soaked !. Thankfully I had a waist camera bag with me. Took the handle and lens off, packed it all in and minutes later got simply soaked. I mean it poured, wind and it took 15 minutes to get back to the car. Stuffing a plastic bag in your camera case can mean all the difference between a dry camera and a wet one.  

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Short Shot !

This weekend I shot my first short in a very long time. This time it was my script and 2 amazing actors that brought this project to life. I'd written it 2 years ago, yesterday we shot it and I can't wait to edit it. Most of it was shot on my C100 and this camera is generally so amazing. To be able to use high ISO's instead of tons of light and still make clean images is simply the most liberating thing I've experienced since : switching from film to digital with stills, buying my first HD camera, buying my first dslr. This is better than 2 of those. Really shooting at ISO 3200 or 4000 and not seeing any nasty ugly noise is truely liberating. In one scene I had started out lighting it as normal, but the setup I had started with shooting thru a window was quickly ended when rain started pouring. I moved back inside. I then did something crazy, I turned off all my lights and looked at an amazing shot lit by natural light. It was almost perfect. I bounced a LED panel light on one side of the actors, then added one of my LED 24 lights dimmed way down to hit some of the background so it didn't completely fall off. Done ! I can't wait to edit this and I promise you something you have NOT scene on the screen. Above is a frame of the 2 actors light with 2 LED panel lights 20ft from the exterior window. WIndow had 8X8 silk in front. ISO 4000 F4 OM 1.5. This shot just has a quick correction on it as it was shot in C log.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Shooting A Short This Weekend

I shoot a lot of stuff for a lot of people. This weekend I'm finally doing one of those rare things - I'm shooting a short I wrote. Its going to be interesting. I have two great actors, a great location, fall colors at their peak, its going to rain & thunderstorm, talk about production value !

 Now we'll talk about the downsides : my 2nd camera can't make it, some other crew can't make it. Its coming down to the mantra we hear all the time - you just need a good script and great actors and a decent camera. Ok,  I'm going to try it ! realistically this wouldn't be practical without the C100 and its low light ability. I can work lower light levels and not need to pull out my HMI's to get the job done. My LED's will more than cover what needs doing. I picked up a china ball and dimmer as a fill light. Practicals will work a lot of it. I'll probably work my 8X8 and 6X4's as super soft low level fills if I need to. I'm still going to run 2 or 3 cameras, but 1 or 2 will be lock offs. That's fine, I'm not stuck on gratuitous camera movement simply for the sake of it. Camera moves should be motivated ! They should help tell the story, change the viewers attention as appropriate and not simply be there because  you can.

Of course sound counts as well. This is where having great gear counts - my SD 552 and its limiters will easily handle this feeding cameras and recording. 

Its going to be interesting, let you know how it goes monday !