Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Aaton... RIP ?

Yesterday Aaton filed for bankruptcy protection. Quite surprising considering its a company thats been around for a very long time. However, they were late to the game with digital camera. Even ARRI got into the game several years back. I'm also sure that their creation and production of the A-minima was a real distraction to this process and really a dead end product, however nice a camera it is. 

I've shot with LTR-54's and 35 III's. The 35 series is a very nice small compact camera thats great for commercial work and shooting where the 400' mags aren't a problem.  We'd often get spots done with 4 rolls / 16min of raw material with good camera control and simply not rolling all the time between takes eating film up for nothing. Another technique was to roll sound first, let them call speed, THEN roll the camera for the slate. This saves and easy 15 secs of film for every take which adds up to a lot when doing short takes. Oh well, we aren't shooting on film very much these days are we ?

The sad part is that Aaton has done some very cool and actually innovative things with their 1/4 pixel shift of the sensor itself between frames and and their slotted spinning ND disc to cut exposure. My guess : ARRI buys them, hopefully not RED or the VITEC group. We'll probably see the digital Penelope Delta camera live and their Cantar audio recorder live under another vendor. As for service on your Aaton there are dealers who can still do that, parts who knows, some dealer may buy the lot out... but then again you're problably not using that camera very much anymore.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

GoPro Hero3 Here

GoPro HERO3: Black Edition is here ! Took advantage of NAB discount deal. Short review : the hype it true, its that much better. Sharper, higher FPS at any frame rate, 45mbit/sec  ProTune mode. All good, all better.

Not often I say so many good words so fast but this camera earns it.  More to come soon but the Hero3 is amazing

April snow shower bring what ???? Shot with stills mode. Amazingly clean, sharp , detailed.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dedicated To All Those Editors Out There

I needed a laugh today. I'll pass it on. Now get back to work !

Monday, April 22, 2013

One of Those Projects I've Been Working On

So I know I've been slow with posting some stuff the last month or so. I've said I've been busy working. Well here is one of the projects that I DP'd and posted. GH3 and 60D's, Rokinon Cine 8mm,14mm, 35mm 1.5, OM 50 1.4, and a Jupitar 9 80 F2 to round it out ! Edited in Premiere Pro CS6, AE CS6 and Mocha Pro. The key was done in realtime using Prem Pro's CUDA powered UltraKeyer. I thought I was just going to use ultrakeyer as a temp for editorial, but it keyed clean enough that I ran with it. Surprisingly good results including hair and some transparencies. In fact noise and compression artifacts where more the issue as always than anything else. The chroma key camera was a GH3 running at 60mbits ( I think, top data rate ) with Rokinon 35mm 1.5 Cine on front. Sharp, clean, very nice ! All the other shots came from my 60D's.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My First and Only TimeLapse This Year in Utah

My first and only timelapse on my trip to Vegas this year. Rokinon 14mm T3.1 Cine Lens with 60D shooting RAW. Processed in Adobe camera raw and AE. Pleasantly surprised to see AE accept the native canon RAW files. I allowed me to get a lot more out of the image than was initially appeared. I still may want to grade this a bit more, in particular to fix the tree.

Meanwhile I have a new van. Looks a lot like the old one. Just based on what was out there, same color, but next version up from the old model. Nice to have it and just itching to customize it a bit for production needs including some LED interior lights, removing the built in 3rd row seat and a cover for the floor well where the seat would normally fold down. If I can gain a 100lbs of cargo hauling ability I'll take it !. I can always put the middle seats in if I need to. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My NAB 2013

This is the strangest NAB I've ever been too. I've been to 14 now and I've seen a lot of stuff I can't talk about :) and gone to more parties than I can remember. This year seeking something of a more different experience I drove out. My plan was to take a week off after the show and spend some time camping out in the desert among several areas in southern UT and northern AZ. It was all depending on where the road took me. The road however took me to a different place than I expected.

I left home in WI with plenty of time. I didn't have a hard drive at all and took a some good stops once I hit Denver and the Rockies. Hiked in some snow ( should of brought snow shoes ! ) and came down the far side of the Rockies following sections of the Colorado River. Rt 70 over the Rockies is a spectacular drive, in particular the Virginia River section which is like driving thru a smaller version of the Grand Canyon. I even got out in a few places where ever I could.

Rokinon 14mm T3.1 Cine Lens 60D • click for full size image

Heading further down the road I got into some more deserted areas of Rt. 70. How deserted ? well nothing for 60 miles between 2 towns. Thats better than a few years ago when it used to be 103 miles. There are however exits leading to dirt roads tha wander off into mountains.

 

Dawn at Ghost Rock UT, 60D + Rokinon 14mm T3.1 Cine Lens • click for full size image

 I eventually stopped at Ghost Rock and spent the night camped out there. I spent time doing some cool nite shots and time-lapse. 

 

ghost rock rokinon 8mm canon 60D

Rokinon 8mm T/3.8 Cine 60D hand held !  click for full size image

 

time lapse ghost rock UT 60D rokinon 14 8

Rokinon 35mm T1.5 Cine Lens wide open • click for full size image

My Rokinon 14mm T3.1 Cine Lens did TL duty while the Rokinon 8mm T/3.8 Cine gave me a few good shots, and the 35 1.5 also made a few great shots as well. All good fun and a great start of what I figured was another week of this after the show.

Sunday I went to the lake Mead area. Climbed a small mountain, had fun. The shot above is interesting because if you look you really can't tell the scale of things. How big is that tree really ? 5 ft ? 15 ft ? actually its about 1ft tall and shot with my 8mm from about a foot away.

 The Lake Mead area really isn't the most spectacular area, but it was close to town and I could drive into Vegas the back way which I had never done. Well on my way into town, about 12 long blocks from the strip fate raised its hand. The front seal on the transmission had given out a ways up the road and was leaking. Actually the real problem was a clogged transmission filter prevented proper circulation of fluid causing it to overheat and foam. The front seal released it all out. I lost power and dove across 2 lanes of traffic onto a side street using just momentum and quick thinking. Getting out and looking underneath tranny fluid was pouring out the bottom.  This was REALLY bad.

When I pulled off  the street it was right next to a garage. I bought 3 quarts of tranny fluid and poured it in. It was just enough to get it off the street. The mechanic wasn't in, but would be the next morning to take a look at it. I took a cab to the room pretty freaked out I was in deep shit with no way back home that was going to be easy.

Monday, the next morning I talked to the mechanic at the garage and he gave me his thoughts on why it failed and what to do - replace the filter, refill the fluid and add some leak seal, then see what would happen. He did it and all seemed ok… maybe. The problem is once the seal lets loose its only a matter of time before it fails again requiring replacement. That replacement of a cheap part means taking the engine and tranny out making for a very labor expensive repair. I hoped the fix worked. I went to the show and was there for the BMD press conference, various other show events, the Media Motion Ball and Adobe parties that nite. They where all great. Honestly after the BMD 4K S35 camera and the Adobe announcements / technology demo's you could mostly of gone home. Sure there was some other very cool things but there were the two that were the biggest I think.

Media Motion Ball Crew... Hey I'm in the shot for once !

Now if you have ever been in Vegas on the strip you know internet can be hit or miss and usually its barely functional if you can get it. The hotel internet was useless where I was staying. My iPhone was getting very intermittent data access varying from slow to nothing. My wonderful partner Sharon back at home managed to get me some flight info and give me some options to get back home if it came to it. Matthew my business partner was sharing the room with me was also having hit or miss internet.

All this time I'm trying to figure out what the plan is. Is the van really fixed ?  Is the fix good enough to get me home on a drive that goes over the Rockies to 11K ft in altitude ? Would it survive a demanding drive for the transmission with long uphill and downhill grades ? or was it plan B to fly back home ? and what did I do with the van ? and what did I do with all the extra stuff I have with me ? Its a lot more than a suitcase of clothes this trip. Could I get things done in a day or two or would I have to stay around in Vegas or even LA to get things done ?

Tues I got my van back. I drove it back to the hotel and all seemed ok. Went to the show, made my appointments and all was good. I checked underneath the van when I got back and there were signs of some leakage.

Wednesday I took my van out to drive it a bit and parked it in a new spot. I looked underneath to see I had clean concrete and hoped for the best. Wednesday finally got me to the central hall and I was able to check out yet more 4K cameras, projectors and LED screens. Looked amazing. No doubt 4K will become the new production standard for work with shelf life. That said 1080HD is still good for most work… well just keep telling yourself that until you see how much better 4K looks. 4K makes 1080 look like SD. Of course I've seen 8K too and thats just another class unto itself as well. Back in the real world 4K I think will creep into TV production and high end corporate work over the next year or two and become somewhat common. Give it 5 years and it will pretty much be standard even if consumer penetration of the market is still low for displays. Util you have sub $2k displays consumer adoption will be slow.

Wednesday nite I looked under the van. Crap ! small 2-3 inch sized puddle. I tape some paper over the spot in an arch to triple check its really my van making that spot. I come back a few hours later Wednesday nite after another party and the paper is wet, just a little. In my mind the leak seems to be enough that if I where to drive like this there would be no telling if it would let go or not, or if I would be pouring fluid in very 50 miles just to keep going. Thats not how you want to drive thru some of the most desolate and arid desert. You also have to consider complete seal failure. So I'm forced to plan B.

All this time I've been talking to various friends to setup some options. Several friends from LA offer me a place to crash for a few days if I need it. THANK YOU to all of them, Doug and Greg and Phillip. This is part of simply knowing the IMUG community for over 15 years -  having friends across the globe. However I was hoping to stay local if possible.

I had been posting on Facebook about my travels to the show over the last few days. I had 3G service in most areas which was great. One person following my trip was an old friend from NY who had moved to Vegas many years ago and said hello. Next thing you know he is VERY generously offering me a place to stay and to help me dispose of the van. Its so rare that I ever ask anyone for a favor, but this time I am. I was really pretty overwhelmed that some one would do this. Needless to say, I owe Warren Markowitz Esq. a big favor for helping me out. Warren is an old friend from way back when I was living in NY shooting stills and video there. Amazing what happens on facebook !...oh and if you have too much fun in Vegas he'll get you out of jail smiley

I drove out to his place with the van. I stopped twice to check to see if or how bad it was leaking. It wasn't !$@#$@#! I then start thinking maybe what I had seen leaking with nothing but the last of the fluid from the original leak finally draining out. Without having a few more days to test it, there was no real way to know. The risk of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with almost no simple options to get home was more than daunting and potentially life threatening.

On the way to his house I found a UPS store. I shipped 2 large boxes of stuff back. One of the things that had been stressing me out was getting back all the extra stuff I had brought. Some camping gear, some extra clothes to deal with all the different climate changes of basically winter to summer, and the collection of bits I just always have in the van for production work. Needless to say this got some odd looks from the 2 folks in the UPS store while I packed stuff until I told them what had happened. Well 2 large boxes and $167 later it was on its way back via ground shipping. OUCH! but done.

I made it to Mark's house on the far edges of town just fine. Nice place away from the commotion of the strip. He helped me out with getting a nearby hotel room for $33 for the night. The hotel was a WAY off strip casino and it was fine. It was reasonably quite and I even played the penny slots for a $1 profit and a cocktail. Fun… I needed it after the last couple of incredibly stressful days. Oh and of course while I had struggled to find anything beyond dial up speed internet this place had one of the fastest internet connections I've ever had in a hotel. 

last look good bye !

Mark agreed to help me get rid of the car - to either scrap it or sell it or give it away to some one who could use it. He also got me to the airport on time where I'm writing this in the plane thats taking me back home.

Update : After getting back home I  sent Mark a text. The car sat had there for a few days for me to send the title back. It had a small puddle under it so I guess the leak really wasn't sealed after all... too bad, it had been a good van. Would of been a bad drive, I made the right call.

 

Me on top of mountain in Lake Mead Area. Can't wait to go back. Rokinon Rokinon 8mm Cine + 60D • clicl for full size image

I'm coming back home without a car. I don't care I can manage that. It just snowed again dumping 6 inches of it in my area. Spring is just not showing up ! I don't care. What I do know is that my loving partner is going to be at the airport to pick me up and thats all I really need. I also found I had some friends I count on who helped me get through a hard one. Thank you all… because if I've said it before, NAB is about the people.
 

Friday, April 12, 2013

NAB 2013 LookBack

If you didn't know better this should be some celeb on the red carpet. Instead its Grant Petty of BMD showing off the new pocket cinema camera. It was pretty crazy.

Now that the NAB hype machine is over for a while, here are some thoughts : 4K as a production tool is coming into its own. There are plenty of cameras now that look incredible in every price range. One interesting note is that I got to play with a F65 next to a F55... and the F55 was showing better dynamic range holding some hillights the F65 wasn't. Probably a matter of camera tweaking.... or not ! 

Watching 4K was great. It much like seeing 1080 from SD. Yes 4K makes 1080 look like VHS ! It will test good from average from poor lenses very quickly. While consumers are a long way off from updating to 4K sets production needs to take it seriously. The improve quality especially for VFX / roto / keying work is major. If your product has shelf life, shooting 4K will protect that investment even if you edit and output 1080. Funny enough this is exactly what I was saying 8 to 10 years ago when I got my first HD camera convincing producers they should shoot HD even though it was an SD world back than. It proved to be great advice then, and I think so one more time again. HD TV's are at an amazing 75% market penetration now. At this point I don't care about the last 25% - I'm going to frame full 16:9 and not worry about centercut. If you don't want the image cut off, its time to upgrade because its stupidly cheap to get a good HD set these days. Likewise we'll see the same pattern repeat itself with 4K over the next 10 years. Folks aren't going to trash their perfectly good HD sets right now, especially ones bought in the last few years. Instead, just like HD over SD it will be a slow gradual process IF 4K sets drop to affordable levels along the lines of $1k-$2k for this first round of consumer sets. No one is forking out $5K for a set and there is no content. Even the expensive $35K sony sets are  basically handmade prototypes with 8 bit displays. Cheaper sets are in fact 6bit displays. This is just like the start of HD and its being repeated all over again.

So get ready to build out a 4K production process because its coming. Of course nothing makes me laugh harder than when I hear that in 2013 there are shops that are finally upgrading to HD from SD.... you need to stay with the times or risk being left behind and out of business.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NAB 2013, I'm Here

After Effects 20th aniversay media motion ball

This is what NAB is really about - the people. Here is a shot I took at the Media Motion Ball thats a bit of history celebrating the aniversery of AE turning 20 ! and to think it seems like a couple years ago when I started with V3.1. Even though its wed morning right now I still haven't had a chance to visit the central hall and look at cameras. Ok, Monday morning I saw the camera that counted, the BMD 4K S35 camera for $4k. Shipping june or july, yes it has a lossless cinemaDNG RAW ! and is otherwise mostly identical to the current cinema camera in production. The funny part is that RED was right next to BMD and the backside of BMD's booth looked like is was part of RED's. 

Adobe is SHOWING technology and features it expects to have in CS Next which is all very good and steady improvements that show they are taking the pro users very seriously. 

I"ve also had a rather weird trip that I post about when I get back... how ever long that takes. I drove out here, had major car problems, and have to decide how to get back. Each has its ups and downs. I'll have to decide tonite. With great luck I've had several people offer to help me if I need to stay here in Vegas or in LA for a few days to get things setup so I can get back home. That is the magic of the internet, facebook. Its great that people are still willing good to each other and offer help when some one needs it. That for me is a far better experience at NAB, 2000 miles from home than any new camera or bit that hangs onto it. NAB is about the people...and the gear very secondarily.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

New Loudness Metering Being Added to Premiere Pro CS NEXT

This was not part of Adobe's big reveal last nite, but from a 3rd party vendor TC Electronic that makes all sorts of audio hardware and software. Their loudness metering module is being included with Premiere Pro  and Audition CS NEXT. This is a big deal for anyone outputting for broadcast TV since loudness metering is a requirement now. Any major broadcaster will have one of those loudness meters now to evaluate programs as part of their tech inspection of your work so compliance is critical. Those old audio meters just won't do anymore.

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Loudness Radar Meter Integrated in Next Versions of Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Audition


Click to Watch Video

In recent years, measuring audio loudness reliably has become mandatory for content creators. Now we have teamed up with Adobe to integrate our LoudnessRadar in the next versions of Adobe® Premiere® Pro and Adobe Audition® on a license agreement.

The LoudnessRadar builds on our groundbreaking LM6 Radar Loudness Meter and offers a wide range of loudness measuring tools that are key to content creators delivering for broadcast, film and internet.

In short, the LoudnessRadar provides an easy-to-read overview of loudness over time. It displays Loudness History on the revolving radar, Momentary Loudness on the outer ring, True-Peak clips, Program Loudness and Loudness Range in a single view.

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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Adobe Drops NAB Bombs

3rd Post today ! Adobe drops its NAB bombs. Usual mind expanding updates for Premiere Pro and After Effects. BTW AE turned 20 this year ! I feel like an old fart saying I've been using it for 15 years !

RIP FujiFilm

As announced before, Fuji has stopped producing Motion Picture film. They are still producing 35mm STILL film with some recent price increases. Their press release today :

Discontinuation of Motion Picture Film production
April 2, 2013
As previously announced, Fujifilm has stopped production of the majority of Motion Picture Film products by March, 2013.

We would like to thank you very much for your patronage during the long history of manufacture, sales and marketing of these products which will continue to be available until the inventory is exhausted. Please contact our worldwide distributors for availability information.

Fujifilm will continue to provide products and services designed for digital workflow of motion picture production and exhibition such as Recording film for Digital Separation [ETERNA-RDS] for long-term archiving, Imaging processing system [IS-100], and high-performance Fujinon lens for digital motion picture camera and projectors.
With an expertise in optics, image processing, storage and archiving, Fujifilm will continue to provide new and innovative products and services to contribute to the creative entertainment and broadcast industry.

Products in discontinuation of manufacturing

Color Positive Film
Color Negative Film
B&W Positive and Negative Film
Intermediate Film
Sound Recording Film
High Contrast Panchromatic Films
Chemicals (Japan only)


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And that is that.... bets on how long for Kodak ? certainly not a company thats made anyone happy recently.

1000W or 100W LED Fresnel Mini Review UPDATED

LED fresnel light

I'm under a simply insane workload right now. This is simply because I'll be gone next week for NAB and things just have to be done and clients are also wanting their stuff this week.... funny how that works out.

So NAB predictions : Tons of new cameras. The Baby Alexa 2K / 1080 has been announced. Expect more

LED : I think the real news will be this is the year tungsten lighting is dead. Long over due. Pictured above is a LED Fresnel I just got a few days ago. It works :) Mini review below. That said Mole Richardson is going to be showing large LED fresnels at NAB. I'm sure they'll be stupid expensive. 

Nila however is going to be showing a "value priced"  1X1 LED that I may look at. 

The problem with current LED fixtures is mainly price ( gouging ) out there. There are cheap import HMI's, lots of used ones and also import LED's that the big name ones just aren't quite making me buy any. Its nice not to be gear poor !

LED Fresnel Mini Review

It works !

Its pretty bright, but its not a 1K... well maybe a 1K with CTB = 300 to 450w output. Still its 5600K, and if you wanted a small 400W HMI this might give it a run for the money. 

UPDATE   Output on this light is about the same as a 250W. Another words its crap and WAY over rated. I did metered test against my desisti 1K with 500W bulb and it was well under a stop less light. Bottom line, they are GROSSLY over rating the output... and its green. 

Build Quality : hmmmm. Its like an arri 650 in size. The top where you would change the bulb is thinner aluminum than an Arri, but you won't bust your fingers to open the top because it does have some bend in it. The front and back are sand castings that seem a bit crude but beefy. The barndoors are really pretty good. However... and you knew I was getting to this part... Since this is a 650 housing they didn't change anything for the LED. The problem is the LED has a huge heat sink on the back of it that really limits the amount of focus range available... as in its like 1/3 that of the regular tungsten light of the same style. That said since you mainly tend to use the wide end of the light this isn't the end of the world.

Something else weird, the focus control works backwards for some reason as compared to an Arri :( annoying. Another problem with the focus is that it has a bind point. It feels like a metal burr or mis alignment. I ran the focus back and forth a number of times but its still there. I plan to try a dab of grease which is NOT on the focus drive.

Am I done yet ? no.... The light body has a circut board in the botton of it. Ok fine, my HMI's have components in them too. The problem is its a bare board. Normally you would pot or epoxy dunk coat a board like this so its sealed from the elements. Then there is the power cable. Its maybe 2M / 6ft long with what looks like a mini power brick in the middle with power switch and fuse. This is totally dopey. I plan to mount the power box onto the back of the light and then put a proper 20ft or so cable onto it.

What else will I complain about ? well there is no knob / button for a rope to lasso the cable to the light, or even a hole for an S hook. 

Anything else ? well the light does come with a 3200K converter lens that attaches with 3 super magnets. Its ok, its an interesting idea. For basic work it might be ok, but I would not trust it in a studio on a grid.... go get some CTO and C47's please !

The stirrup seems otherwise decent. There is a plastic 5/8 fitting for attaching to a light stand. given that Arri has done this for quite some time on these small lights we'll see how well this one holds up and if I wind up replacing it.

Check out this DOH! moment... the power cord is upside down ! plug this into any normal U.S. outlet and the power cord comes out the top.... DUH ! well it does look right, doesn't it ?

 

Light Quality : This fixture uses a condenser lens. Its clear. It works and seems pretty even. My guess is the clear lens probably adds to the light output as opposed to a more traditional fresnel. The focus works, but the travel range is short. Whats different with this lens is that when you cut the barndoors down to a thin strip of light you might see either a venetian blind effect or some CA effects. Might be cool for some uses, might not for most others. On this YMMV !

As for color, its hard to say. Just a quick judgement by eye seemed to indicate this light was a bit green :( However it would not be the end of the world to put some 1/4 or 1/2 minus green right into the light itself. I need to do some real tests and figure it out.

Since this light does use electronic power supply it will power up on anything from 95-220V which is great if you travel. However it also means you can't dim it with a dimmer. A few pieces of black window screen though will work fine a scrim since heat isn't an issue... you do have a few peices in your gel kit, right ? I have for many years now for use on flo, LED and low power tungsten.

 

Should You Buy One ? : Let me tell you in a month or two once I have it working on jobs. If it proves not to be too green, and I can mount the power box on with minimum fuss it might be a maybe. Right now its a very 1.0 product that needs refinement like a longer housing for better focus.

Ok, now to pack for NAB !

UPDATE

I've been at NAB for a few days checking out several of the new LED fresnel fixtures. I think they are ALL being VERY generous about what their actual light output value is. The Mole Richardson stuff looks really good, solid CRI, but still a bit pricey. This light just doesn't seem to have good CRI and seems to have a green cast. It may be good for doing BG fx light, but I don't think its for normal use. I think I'm going to need to find some minus green to install full time into this light to get something even. That will cut the output a bit. Its no where near a 1K. I'm at the point of saying this is a don't buy unless all the limitations are something you can work around based very limited budget. In general I'm saying this light is a do not buy. Rare for me to say this but I think this product just has too many issues.

UPDATE 2

Just don't buy this one, its crap. Its rare for me to totally say a product is junk, but this one is. I'm sure the 2X-3X higher priced lights may be better, but not without an easy return policy would I consider getting one.