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Monday, September 30, 2013

New C100 Baseplate by Berkey Systems

As I posted a week or so ago the C100 didn't fit my other rig on the baseplate I had. I did some searching. No I did a LOT of searching. Google image search turned up any number of images but I was being picky.

1. The C series cameras has a high lens center point, so you need a very low baseplate to make all your parts work like matte box and follow focus

2. I wanted a baseplate that had 2 points of locking contact per rod - this stops the rods from turning when you have a single rod attachment like monitor connected

3. great build quality if possible

There were a number of baseplates out there that could work. Some required a bridge plate to mount on adding another $75-$150 to the price. They also shipped from China with 2-4 weeks of shipping which wouldn't work for something happening this weekend !

Google search revealed this baseplate : Berkey Systems - it was made specifically for C series cameras, had 2 points of grab on the rails, all METAL construction, looked great in the pix, had a bottom that worked with my QR tripod plate or Arri baseplate with 17mm offset.

Downside ? one guess, it was pricey compared to the China imports, but !

I contacted Berkey systems. The owner of the company replied to my email a couple of hours later, answered my questions and even gave me 2 video clips to cover me. That's customer service ! Now Berkey Systems probably doesn't come to mind like a few other companies that make camera support gear but they have been around for 20 years ! A lot of what they make is grip gear for gags - rods, rails, joiners, corners to create practical rigs for on set use. However they also have nice collection of camera support items as well. 

In emailing with Brian Berkey he talked about how they go through at least several versions of a product to get it right. This baseplate is a perfect example. It will grab your C series camera not just with the 1/4" and 3/8" threads, but also the 2 locking pins in the base. It fits like OEM gear should ! The fit and feel here are simply great. The top plate is held down with 6 allens so you can change it out, or the 1/4 or 3/8 screws if they every get damaged. You can access BOTH of the attachment screws from the bottom of the unit. The 2 grabbing screws are in fact Allen bolts they custom make. Berkey Systems supplied a ball head Allen driver with the baseplate to make adding this to any camera easy. 

Once you mount the base plate onto the C series camera, its simply love. It fits, its not too big, not too small, it has just enough heft to let you know its there. Using high grade aluminum you'll see the details they added to this. For example each side of the plate can add either a 15mm rod clamp or Arri Rosette compatible mount.

Add a 15mm rod for building a cage, adding a monitor or whatever other gak you need. The Arri compatible rosette is another option for grips or handles. They are easy to add or remove with the supplied Allen bolts. If you look close you can see there is a relief in the machining of the side mounts. This means even if your bolts get loose, the mounts will still stay  locked in place and not let you down. Its this sort of mil spec durable thoughtfulness that lets this thing ask the price it does. Really its not out of line with a few other top end companies asking about the same !

Once I slipped my stainless steel rods through from my old rig, then slid on the follow focus and matte box it was magic. My old set up didn't really make the rods 100% parallel. I always had this odd fight to slide stuff on or off, up or down the rods. This base plate is dead perfect parallel. My matte box mount bracket and follow focus slipped up and down the rods when loose with perfect ease. No more pulling and tugging ! I don't often praise a praise a product like this, so you know this is the real deal, something special and made in the USA.

Finding out that they are based near Minneapolis MN a couple of hours from me was bonus. Given my choice to send my money anywhere, I choose to send it close to home and get some totally first class camera support ! I'm perfectly happy with this product, which happens how often ? right... just get one for your C series camera and you wont' think twice about money more than well spent.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tokina 16-28 Cine


Based on Tokina's photo lens. the AT-X 16-28 F2.8 PRO FX, this is the cine version. Now Rokinon has been doing this for a while adding $50 onto the price. However Rokinon's cine lenses has a significant short coming in terms of  reasonable focus distance and missing DoF markings. Tokina clearly got that here. However, they also seem to think that it allows them to charge, not say a premium but a HUGE GOUGING premium of $5,900. I'm come on, Dulcos will rehouse your lens like this for about half of that. Yes I understand limited production and all but this is just a little out there. While DSLR's brought S35 size sensor cameras to the masses as insanely cheap prices compared to what cameras cost 10 or 15 years ago, lenses like this remain fixed in the stratosphere. Now granted good glass will last you for many cameras and many years if treated reasonably well, but this is still excessive. 

So as much as I applaud Rokinon and what they are doing, I don't think there is any reason some of the other lens makers couldn't shave their prices a bit and be more competitive in the market. The optical performance of all this glass is often pretty similar for sharpness - most all modern glass that is ! Bokeh varies but in general all seems good, just different between lenses. What you are paying for is better mechanics, less breathing, better lens markings that are properly calibrated. While that's import at some level for all users, some of those things simply aren't that critical to getting shots made. We've all worked with glass where you could pretty much just ignore the lens markings and simply use lens tape or marks on your follow focus to hit marks. Based on your needs there are some reasonable trade offs. Perhaps my main concern with the Rokinon's is how durable they are. I just had my 35 cine get warranty repaired ( replaced actually ) due to a sticky iris that didn't close down when you turned the ring. The stills version I had was warranty replaced because the focus had a weird clunk in it. Perhaps I got lucky twice... I hope. Lets understand that I don't beat on them, they didn't get any crazy amounts of use, travel, vibration, ect. We'll see how it goes !

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rokinon 16mm F2.2 Cine Available

The  Rokinon 16mm T2.2 Cine Lens for Canon EF is now available. B&H has a great price on it. Stock is limited right now so first come first serve and all. Looks like another great lens to try out. While I'm not getting one just yet, its probably on the list for the next couple of months. That said, where is a 20 or 21mm lens ? Its a big missing gap in the line up, along with a 50. Guess we'll have to sit and wait.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

All LED Lights Tonite !

Today was a little different. While I've often used maybe 1 or 2 LED lights out of several for a shoot, today was different. We went all LED. It was a typical talking head shoot. Normally I would of put up around 2-3KW of tungsten back in the old days of not so long ago. Maybe I would of added a flo light into the mix for fill or back light.  Today, we did this - 

1X1 panel light, 1K LED's, 60W full up, 2 layers of 1/2 frost, 1 6X4 silk as key, flagged off bottom with some black

1 24 LED hi emitter light ( 60W ), 2 layers of 1/2 frost, 1 layer  1/2 CTB ( native WB is 4300K ) as fill dimmed to about 50%

1 24 LED hi emitter light ( 60W ) as hair ( back ) light, 1/2 frost, dimmed to 25%

1 100w LED Fresnel on background with 1/2 frost and straw barndoored down

So another words our total power draw was about 205W accounting for the dimmer settings or quiet literally 1/10th the power draw of what I might of normally used. This was a really small room to shoot in, yet it never got too hot. If it had been the usual tungsten setup it would of been baking with the lights plus 4-5 people in there. 

All of that said, a few months ago I did a shoot that used a lot of tungsten lights, burning maybe 10Kw for something not so different. Ok, tungsten light makes for good skin tones, but so does having good make up. Tungsten lights have good CRI, at least for the sensors ( or film ! ) we normally work with. LED's have often had the problem of poor CRI / green tint. Well while its not perfect yet, its getting close. The 24 Hi power emitter LED's I have are custom lights - you can't buy them unless you know "the right guy who makes them", but they have great throw. Unlike panel lights using wide angle LED's, these have CRI 94 emitters, polycarbonate diffuser lenses over each emitter, and don't fall off after a few feet. Dimming or diffsuing them as needed they have become a key part of my lighting setup. Never mind the dual ball mount that makes aiming them easy because, yes they do require good aim to put light where you want it, unlike panel type lights. 

Of course we didn't talk about the audio setup where I fed not just the camera, but my laptop via USB XLR interface, one mic so that the director in NYC could hear the talent and do his thing. The web cam fed a google video chat with my audio so the director 1100 miles away could see what was going on. Virtual directing, welcome to 2013 ! Easier for everyone invovled !

Monday, September 16, 2013

C100 At Night

This is just a frame from some test shooting I did this weekend in Chicago. Quite simply put, this camera performs amazingly well in low light. I'm not even close to showing you what it will do with this shot. All I'll say right now is that I've used a lot of cameras and shot a lot of film and nothing makes images this clean at these light levels. I have a rough cut put together right now of the footage from this weekend and hopefully over the next couple of days I'll finish it up. The hard part will be getting some music youtube's copyright droids won't flag. That part has gotten pretty tiring while I see copyrighted material being monetized all the time and you know the poster digitized the content from VHS.... oh well, Iet me stay focused on shooting more tests. There have been several surprises in this process of getting to know the camera. The first is that the factory preset for C log artificially floats the black levels at what amounts to NTSC black level of 7.5 IRE to 13 IRE. Its more than annoying, its wasting precious gradation in an 8 bit format. I'm tweaking out a new Log setting to get around this. Back to work for me now !

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Arri Revels Amira Small Shoulder Cam for News & Docs

Ready for a cheaper Alexa ? Want something that's ready to shoot with fast boot time ? Doc and news friendly ? Arri Name on the side ? Want a camera designed for single person operation like a full size ENG camera ? Welcome the Amira. Same sensor as the Alexa, but for now limited to 1080 res at speeds up to 200fps. Supposedly much cheaper than an Alexa. I'd guess its in the $25K range to make it competitive with Epic and F55.  It shoots to a new media card from Sandisc shooting to ProRes 4444, 422 HQ, 422 and option for DNxHD if you want to license that.  No mentioned 4K ability though. For a camera over $10K ( guessing price to be announced ) I think its a hard sell not to be 4K ready now, with with future firmware update to unlock it. I suspect that 4K will be an upgrade of some sort down the road for this camera. 

As always, don't buy a camera if you can't pay it off fast enough. Great to have the best out there, but you can't have a 2 year or more payback period. With how these things constantly change anything less is crazy financially. While some markets support moving to a 4K camera, others don't. You have to know of using a 4K camera will really buy you work or not and then decide.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Can You Sync A C100 w/o A TC Connector ? Maybe !

Is it possible to sync a C100 to a C300/500 or other camera ? Maybe. This deivce WFT-E6 is list as being compatible with the C series cameras. Listed specifically for the 1D C, it specifially mentions syning Time of the cameras. If you shoot Time Of Day TC, mission accomplished. I'd love to try it but the MSRP is $600 ! Has anyone tried this thing ? Canon's USA site seems out of date, another site says : For EOS-1D X, EOS-1D C, C500, C300.... hmmmm !

Monday, September 09, 2013

So You Want A C100 ? Nothing Fits !

60D + Kiron 24 F2

Trying the C100 out on my DSLR baseplate and rods. Ok, its one of those cheap Indian deals, but the stainless rods are strong, and the base plate worked great for the last 3 years. First with a T3I and then with my 60D's I really like this base setup. With the sliding base it was easy to adjust from the short and sharp OM 50 1.4 or Kiron 24 F2 to a long lens like the Tamron 70-200 2.8. Mostly the matte box slid in its adjuster, and the camera on the base plate and there was no fiddling with the rods or taking everything apart. It worked well. In fact I had modified the baseplate a bit. First I made the front shorter because it was too long and this also gave me some more weight in the back for better balance. Later I also shortend the back to save weight because I wanted this thing lighter. The rig is probably 30-40% shorter than when I got it and its been working great every since. Well I put the C100 on and nothing fits. Ok, the 1/4 20 and 3/8 mounting holes work on the camera, but first its just too tall to center vertically on the matte box. I had already modded the matted box for more vertical travel to work with an EX-3. I milled the slots longer to the top and bottom about as far as reason said was safe, about 3/8". This is missing by more like 1/2" or more material than I can mill out and still have a bracket left. So that means I made need to make a new offset that sits between the matte box and the swing bracket.... or I'm going to have to change out the baseplate for a small low one that will have things fitting again. I already have the base of the slider as low as it can go and clear the rods.

While I don't need the matte box for ND's for the most part thanks to the 2/4/6 stop built in ones, I'll still use a split grad, polarizer or diffusion. 

Well that's not the end of it. Here is another problem - DSLR's aren't was wide as the C series cameras. In fact even the EX3 isn't as wide. So if I have a short lens on like the OM 50 1.4 or any of my other vintage primes, the matte box rods hit the hand grip... that you really want / need to operate the camera pending the firmware update in Nov that lets you use some buttons on the back of the body to navigate the menu's rather than the joystick on the grip !

Silly me for thinking buy the camera, an extra battery or two and I'm done. Tweak my rig a bit... NOT ! Just another problem throwing money at will solve sad

Adobe Announces After Effects CC V12.1 For October Release, SpeedGrade as Well

Adobe is keeping their word about releasing features and product improvements when they are ready with Creative Cloud. Check out #4 on this list - mask tracker. Yup, finally something I've been asking for forever - create a mask and track it in one easy step. Also improved scaling which lots of folks have been asking for. Great news to start the day !

  • 3D Camera Tracker and Warp Stabilizer VFX analysis of footage is a WHOLE LOT FASTER. It’s now fully multi-threaded, and we’ve seen results going from a 60% speed increase to in some cases 8 times faster analysis depending on machine and footage.
  • snapping and property links: significant advancements to composition layout and layer control for complex projects
  • HiDPI content viewers for Retina display on Mac
  • new mask tracker for simple tracking of masks
  • Detail-preserving Upscale effect: This continues on the theme we started with adding Bicubic sampling in After Effects CC (12.0). We hear loud an clear from you that scaling (especially with 4K and ultraHD coming) is very important.
  • The Cineware effect now allows connection to Sketch & Toon as well as the Cinema 4D Physical renderer for customers of Cinema 4D Broadcast or Studio
  • media management enhancements with auto-opening of folders in the Project panel, as well as an early preview of the Media Browser panel, based on the Media Browser in Premiere Pro
  • new cards added to GPU list for CUDA acceleration of the ray-traced 3D renderer, as well as a preference to enable the use of untested, unsupported GPUs for this feature

UPDATE : SpeedGrade is also seeing an October update as well. Here is a video with those new features and improvements by product manager Patrik Palmer. Click the image to see the video on Adobe TV for more info !

Sunday, September 08, 2013

DaVinci Resolve 9.1.6 Released

BMD has release another update for Resolve, V9.1.6 with "performance and stability improvements". I was hoping we'd have 10.0 in our hands right now. Well I'm going to install it and see how it goes. I've had some major performance problems with MOV's in Resolve that came from a C100. Oh, did I say I just got a C100 this week ? :) and that I'm cooking up a review on it ? nope !

I'm also aware that some posts here have been spammed up. I'll be trying to work on cleaning it all up this week again. I'm going to turn off commenting before implementing something like Discus. I had Facebook commenting working for a while, but FB changed their API and killed off the one being used here. No gentle transition, thats for sure. Thats ok as I don't think it was working all that well anyway. Always something to do !

UPDATE : This update is important. On my laptop I had 9.1.4 installed. I used clipwrap ( demo for the moment ) to re-wrap the AVCHD clips out off of the SD cards in the MXF folder structure to be self contained QT files. They totally killed 9.1.4 and it was nearly non-responsive. In 9.1.6 performance is back to normal for the laptop ! so if you work with C100 native h.264 files or other AVCHD native files, go get this update !

UPDATE2 : C100 shots are still pegging out Resolve's performance. Opening up a EOS based project it worked fine but the C100 material was still causing all sorts of sluggish response, but still better than before.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

New Canon C500/300/100 Firmware Update With ISO 80,000

Ok, cool. My C100 arrives tomorrow ( or today depending on when you read this ) and there is a new firmware update with some good stuff. No, VERY good stuff. Maybe nice if they kicked up the C100 to 50m/bit recording.... ok thats next if ML doesn't make it sooner !

UPDATE : Available "sometime in Nov" ! I hate having to wait..... and where it the improved recording data rate for the C100 ? I mean really Canon, you put Mpeg2 50mbit 422 into your "pro" palmcorders that sell for 1/2 the price of the C100. What are you protecting ? Should I buy a Sony palmcorder instead ? 

Canon EOS C500 Firmware Updates

  • ACESproxy output from the camera's 3G-SDI monitor terminal - Allows filmmakers to grade their footage (which is being recorded in RAW) immediately on-set using a compatible ACES monitor with ASC CDL. This provides an accurate representation of how the footage will look after being color graded in the DI suite when a project uses ACES.
  • Support for DCI-P3+ color gamut (Cinema Raw Development) - DCI-P3 is the standard color gamut for digital movie projection. DCI-P3+ is an expanded gamut. This color space shares the same white point as DCI-P3, but encompasses a much greater range of color. By exceeding the DCI-P3 standard, the Canon EOS C500 camera offers filmmakers, in particular the cinematographer, an increase in saturated colors which can be faithfully reproduced, as well as a more accurate representation of the original subject color.
  • Canon Proprietary Cinema Gamut - Cinema Gamut is the widest color space currently available for the EOS C500 Cinema Camera. Canon's Cinema Gamut is wider than both Rec. 709 and DCI-P3+, allowing end users to faithfully record highly saturated color while retaining fine variations of both hue and saturation.
  • Canon Log LUT (look-up-table) available over the 3G-SDI monitor terminal - When the camera is recording in Canon Log format, the image that is simultaneously outputted over the 3G-SDI terminal to an external monitor can be viewed in its original color space without the apparent lack of contrast and color saturation, resultant of the Log format.
  • 4096 x 1080 RAW resolution - In this new shooting mode, in full RAW recording, the vertically cropped center of the EOS C500 camera's Super 35mm CMOS sensor can now record in 4096 x 1080 native resolution, up to 120fps.

Canon EOS C500, C300 and C100 Camera Firmware Updates

  • Peripheral lens correction feature - This maintains even illumination from corner to corner of the image and virtually eliminates vignetting across the image. There are 14 Canon EF-Series photographic lenses that benefit from this feature including the EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM, EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM, the EF500mm and EF600mm f/4L IS II USM. The seven Canon CN-E Series Cinema Lensesi that benefit from this feature include the CN-E15.5-47mm and CN-E30-105mm T2.8L S compact Cinema zooms, the CN-E14mm T3.1L F, the CN-E24mm T1.5L F, the CN-E 50mm T1.3L F, the CN-E85mm T1.3L F, and the CN-E135mm T2.2L F Cinema prime lenses.
  • ISO increased up to 80,000 - This provides the EOS C500, EOS C300 and EOS C100 cameras with greater light sensitivity than ever before. Great for documentaries and other forms of reality production, this ISO increase can help capture shots that may have been previously impossible to capture.
  • Ability to shift the magnification location in the viewfinder - Allows users to manually move the magnification view area to one of 25 different locations using the joystick on the camera. With this feature, the camera operator can easily check focus even on subjects that are not located directly in the center of the frame.
  • Record button lock - The lock setting on the Key Lock now makes it possible to lock all operations, including the RECORD button, to prevent accidental operation during takes.
  • Canon EOS C500 and C300 Camera Firmware Updates
  • Multi-person log-in for the Canon Wi-Fi® remote application - This allows two users to log-in to a single camera, allowing for camera operation/control with one log-in and metadata to be inputted by the second log-in simultaneously. This is essential when time is critical and production tasks need to be completed immediately.
  • Ability to assign ISO and iris adjustments to the control dial (or, on the EOS C300 camera, the dial on the removable side grip handle) - This gives operators the option to allocate whichever setting they prefer to either dial, allowing for specific changes at a moment's notice.
  • Canon EOS C300 Camera; XF305 & X300 Camcorder Firmware Updates
  • GPS Support - Provides accurate metadata on the location and time of each clip, including longitude, latitude, and altitude for the EOS C300 camera when used with Canon's optional GP-E1 or GPS Receiver and for the XF305 and XF300 camcorders when used with Canon's optional GP-E2 GPS Receiver. This is an especially handy feature for documentaries, ENG (Electronic News Gathering) and reality programming.

Canon EOS C300 Firmware Updates

  • Wide DR gamma - With a high dynamic range that maintains highlight detail and preserves perfect gradations of color, this feature is designed to help achieve perfect color without adjustment. Optimized for display monitors, wide DR gamma is well-suited for productions that do not allow for lengthy postproduction processing and color grading, such as budget-conscious indie films, web series, or documentaries.

  • 1440 x 1080 35Mbps for broadcast requirements - This highly utilized recording mode (at 60i or 50i) is designed to enable the EOS C300 camera to seamlessly align with the standard workflows used by many major broadcast news networks.

  • Push auto iris/one-shot AF - These new additions make the EOS C300 camera increasingly attractive for solo, run-and-gun style cinéma vérité shooting. These features (which are already included in the EOS C100 camera), automatically adjust the exposure and/or focus to the most suitable setting at the push of a button. They also provide support for the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM standard zoom lens. The new peripheral lens correction feature further benefits the use of this lens by virtually eliminating vignetting and maintaining even illumination across the image.

  • Automatic Exposure (AE) Shift/ Selecting the Metering Mode/ Flicker Reduction - AE Shift can be used to compensate the automatic exposure set by the camera when using the push auto iris function. Users can engage AE Shift in the camera menu to make slight adjustments to the image brightness helping compensate for scenes that are slightly over or underexposed. The new AE Shift capability provides 15 steps, from -2 to +2. The new firmware also enables three light metering mode options to be selected: Standard, Backlight or Spotlight. By selecting a light-metering mode to match one of three recording conditions, users will help ensure the EOS C300 camera obtains a suitable exposure level when the push auto iris function is used. When recording under artificial light, the camera's monitor may flicker depending on the shutter speed. By setting Flicker Reduction to "Automatic" the EOS C300 camera will automatically detect and reduce flicker on the camera's monitor.

Canon EOS C100 Camera Firmware Update

  • Menu Navigation now possible through buttons on camera body - Previously menu navigation on the EOS C100 camera was only possible through the removable joystick - when the joystick was detached, menu navigation ceased. Allowing users to easily navigate menu options, even with the removable joystick grip detached, buttons on the rear of the camera body will be able to navigate menu options with this new firmware. The buttons on the rear of the camera under the built-in monitor can be assigned as follows: 1) Set, 2) Up, 3) Left, 4) Down, 5) Right.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

GoPro Cuts Price of Hero3 To $329

Interesting news. I thought that the Hero3 was a little overpriced without having a suction cup mount included. Don't get me wrong, I still think it was a great buy, but I bought mine with a NAB discount for $100 off smiley. With other new action cams hitting the market, I'm not surprised. This could also be inventory clearance for a Hero4 that does full 4K 30fps. That would be insanely good even if your purpose was to stabilize and crop the image to 1080. You'd have a lot of extra pixels to work with if they did. This could be one place where 4K has real value. I guess we'll have to wait and see what is in the works. If there is a new camera coming soon, I'm not complaining as all of my GoPro's are paid for. That is why I buy gear,  to make money for myself !