Alpa, maker of medium-format cameras and housing for Rodenstock, Schneider and Zeiss, has introduced a new system. “The ALPA PLATON system,” the company says, “combines sensors with more than 60mm diagonal with state-of-the-art cine lenses to a compact and powerful unit and opens up completely new possibilities for filmmakers: The large sensor enables the user to work with selective depth of field and gives the images an impressive three-dimensionality and plasticity.” Alpa also notes that what’s unique about the housing is that the small format factor allows the system to be used with gimbals and is ideal for B-camera for other 65mm systems, including ARRI rosettes, Nato rail, ULCS balls and 15mm rod systems.
Specifically, the new system will be able to exploit the 4K-resolution video-recording option on the 100-megapixel Hasselblad H6D-100c digital back. Alpa also says that in “addition to the Hasselblad proprietary RAW format, which can be converted to Cinema DNG….there is also the option of recording videos in HD-quality in H.264 format.” That video can be stored on SD or CFast cards.
The new Platon (without lenses or digital back) will cost a little over $14,800. For more, see the following press release:
[[press release: ]]
ALPA PLATON – THE BIG PICTURE
06.2019 – The ALPA PLATON system combines sensors with more than 60mm diagonal with state-of-the-art cine lenses to a compact and powerful unit and opens up completely new possibilities for filmmakers: The large sensor enables the user to work with selective depth of field and gives the images an impressive three-dimensionality and plasticity. At the same time, the small format factor allows the system to be used in gimbals and makes it the ideal B-camera for other 65mm systems. The ALPA PLATON system offers you numerous connection options such as Arri rosettes, Nato rail, ULCS balls and 15mm rod systems.
ALPA is taking advantage of the 4K medium-format video recording option offered by the Hasselblad H6D-100c digital back and expanding its range to include moving images:
With the H6D-100c, the Swedish manufacturer Hasselblad is the first to provide a digital back with a 100 megapixel CMOS sensor measuring 53.4 x 40.0 mm, which today already enables 4K videos across the entire sensor and could even offer 8K in future sensor versions.
At 16:9, this corresponds to around 53.4 x 30 mm and 61 mm image circle. In addition to the Hasselblad proprietary RAW format, which can be converted to Cinema DNG with the help of Phocus software, there is also the option of recording videos in HD quality in H.264 format. The data can be stored on SD or Cfast cards.
The ALPA Platon (kit without cine lenses and digital back) is available at a net price of CHF 14,800 (ex-works Switzerland) from ALPA country representatives and ALPA in Zurich.
For more information, click here .
If you had to name the most important part of a portrait or image that includes living beings—whether human or animal—and has remained so throughout the centuries, going back as far as the Italian and Northern Renaissance right up to the present day, it would be this: The eyes. And it’s perhaps one of the reasons Sony is so focused on expanding how its AF works. In allowing a photographer to track a subject’s eyes no matter where that subject moves within the frame, the photographer can keep the subject in focus. And now, after installing the latest firmware version for Sony’s a6400 mirrorless camera, you can use this feature—real-time Eye AF tracking, which pins your autofocus to the eyes and ensures that the camera will track the subject throughout the frame, in real time—when shooting still photos your pets.
Here’s an important note for videographers: When shooting in video mode, the AF isn’t “pinned” to the eye (whether humans and now, animals, in the a6400). However, Sony says that it’s possible that Animal Eye AF may help tracking animals in general when shooting video.
Once you download and install Sony’s latest firmware, the Sony a6400 will add this capability and you’ll be able to track the eyes of domestic animals, like dogs and cats. (Future updates are also planned, including the ability to track birds, which are more difficult to track.)
However, although this is Sony’s latest AF iteration that it has announced this year, Sony’s made earlier real-time Eye AF announcements:
To learn more, check out this Sony video:
For more specifics on real-time Eye AF tracking, check out this page on Sony’s website: https://support.d-imaging.sony.co.jp/support/tutorial/ilc/en/ilce-6400/03-1.php
To download the firmware update, go to this webpage: sony.com/electronics/support/e-mount-body-ilce-6000-series/ilce-6400/downloads/00016148
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Last time, I talked about editing software that is subscription-based, namely, Adobe Premiere Pro. As I mentioned, although I was concerned about the subscription aspect of the product, even more important is having the tools I need.
I haven’t found the miracle package that works for all my projects, so sometimes I step into other applications. With a few exceptions, a timeline is a timeline, so switching gears isn’t the end of the world.
One of my alternative applications is Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to move from Premiere Pro to DaVinci Resolve. And although I’m not a colorist, I have to do color correction at times, and I like the toolset Resolve gives me.
As an editor who likes to keep my sequences flexible until the very last moment, I like that I can step into a full-featured color grading toolset, but then step back into my timeline. I don’t have to start up another application or export an XML and render out graded clips.
The same is true for the Fusion tab in Resolve. Rather than stepping out to a separate application, the node-based Effects tool is accessed right from the timeline. Being node-based, it’s focused on a single clip and is a different animal than Adobe’s After Effects.
Since DaVinci Resolve has its beginnings as a color grading tool, it excels at relinking clips. When I do finishing work, it really shines when I switch from proxies to full resolution footage, rather than starting from scratch.
However, there are a few things that give me pause. For example, I’m not crazy about the initial setup of projects ranging across multiple preference pages and places to go. Although, yes, I have the ability to have different timelines with different resolutions or frame rates, that also makes it difficult to create different versions—UHD, HD etc.—with the same footage. Also, there’s no adjustment clip effect, which can be frustrating.
Fortunately, those issues have been addressed with the release of a beta version of DaVinci Resolve 16, announced at NAB this year. Although I don’t run beta software on my production machine, I run it on a spare laptop to see what the changes will bring. I’ll have to wait until the upgrades are actually released before I can fully take advantage of them in my day-to-day work. But until then, I have been testing out the new Cut Page. More on that as I get through it all.
Next time, two other edit tools to consider.
Our Canon C200 is our main A camera on most shoots. It’s relatively large, heavy and expensive though. We can’t afford to have two of them so we have a spare.
I recently found myself in a position that I didn’t want to be in. The camera system that I had brought to cover an event decided at the last minute to die. I use a lens adapter with this camera that had previously given me some challenges, making my camera behave weirdly, so I exchanged it a few months ago. The adapter on the camera had functioned perfectly since then, about four months ago.
At this particular shoot, I pulled my camera out of my backpack, mounted the lens adapter (Canon EF to Fujifilm X-Mount) and turned on the camera. Nothing. I double-checked that I had a charged battery (I had brought a dozen with me since I had planned on a long shoot), and the battery in the camera was freshly charged. I tried the power again. Nothing. Dead camera. I then tried removing the Canon lens and adapter and putting just the body cap on the camera body. Still dead. At that point, a million thoughts ran through my head. This was a run-and-gun shoot, and all I had was my mirrorless camera, a couple of lenses, batteries and cards and my gimbal. I hadn’t brought a backup camera. Or had I?
Ever since I’ve been shooting video for a living, I’ve always thought about a backup camera. Our A camera is the Canon C200. It’s a $7,500 digital cinema camera that, fully kitted out, can weigh as much as 25 pounds. Also, to be completely blunt, we can’t afford to own two of the C200s. The best backup plan is to always have two of the exact same pieces of gear. That way, if the worst should happen, you have a piece of gear that can seamlessly replace your main camera/microphone/light source or computer and you can continue working, finish the project and then deal with the fallout of what happened, how you might have prevented it and what your course of action is to repair or replace the item that hung you out to dry.
The next best plan of action that may be available to you is to carry a spare item. While it may not be the top of the line, unless you can afford an exact replacement for your main piece of gear, the item is competent to finish the shoot/edit/project and will get you over the finish line. It may not have all of the nice features, bells and whistles your “A” piece of gear may have, but the backup will save the day and get the job done.
For instance, our A camera is the Canon C200. Our B or replacement camera is the Fujifilm XT-3. Regardless of where I’m shooting and who I’m shooting for, whenever possible, I pack the Fujifilm XT-3 and a few Fuji lenses and some batteries. The Fujifilm is a $1,400 mirrorless camera and it doesn’t shoot the same Cinema RAW Light that the C200 does. It doesn’t have XLR audio inputs, built-in ND filters and quite as good of a picture. If I’m shooting an interview or some b-roll though, the XT-3 is generally good enough to pinch hit for the C200. It wouldn’t look as impressive to a client as the C200, but if the C200 malfunctioned or broke, most clients would be plenty happy that I had thought to also pack the XT-3. It can do a similar job and give us a similar end result as the C200.
In 2019, believe it or not, you might carry a possible sort-of replacement for you’re A or B camera, and that’s your phone. I carry an iPhone 8 Plus. It’s not the most state-of-the-art iPhone on the market, but it shoots acceptable-quality 4K video in decent lighting. It has no microphone inputs, but I do have a Røde Video Me-L, which could possibly capture adequate sound, depending on the situation I’m shooting in. I also have a Moment wide-angle lens, filter adapter for the Moment lens and a Zhiyun Crane M as well as a tripod holder to attach my iPhone to a tripod. I purposely bought a 256 GB model iPhone, which means even at 100 Mbps, I can capture hours and hours of 4K video with the iPhone. It’s not ideal, and it’s debatable about how professional of a setup it is, but in a pinch, it could stand in for either my A or B camera and possibly save the day if the shoot was a once-in-a-lifetime, difficult-to-repeat event.
What stung me on the shoot I described at the beginning of this blog was the size/weight penalty. I normally bring a backup camera to every shoot, and in this case, I did. My A camera, for this shoot, was the Fujifilm XT-3. The plan was to use it on our gimbal with an Atomos Shinobi SDI monitor with my Røde Video Micro atop the monitor, and I was wearing a lavaliere microphone to record my own voice as I conducted interviews. I had a wide-angle lens mounted on the Fujifilm, which would allow me to place the camera and Røde mic within a couple of feet of the talent I’d be interviewing so I could record acceptable quality images and sound.
All I had brought to the shoot was a backpack, water, sunscreen, lots of spare batteries for my XT-3 and for the Shinobi monitor, a hat and a jacket for the evening in case it became cold. What I neglected to bring was my wide-angle lens, gimbal, phone holder and second Røde Video Me-L mic for the iPhone. My backpack was already bulging and really couldn’t hold anything else, so I made a conscious decision to not approach this project with all of the support gear needed to use my B camera—my iPhone—because of the weight and size penalty.
I could have tried to shoot video with my iPhone alone, but knowing that the images would be jittery and not smooth, and that the audio would be unusable because it was breezy and I didn’t have a proper video mic with a windscreen, I was cornered. I failed to execute my backup plan to its full extent.
You’ll make decisions on which gear to bring to a shoot, and at times, you’ll be wrong, just as I was for this shoot. I had tested my Fujifilm XT-3 the night before to make sure all was well and it functioned perfectly, so in my mind, with a track record of the past six months, I took a calculated risk. So, to save weight and not weigh myself down for a long and hot day of walking around a huge event, I made the decision to not bring all of the gear I should have.
This was actually a great learning experience. Always bring what you need to execute your backup plan. If you have to pay the weight and size penalty by hauling around gear that adds extra weight and bulk, do it. It can be the difference between completing the shoot or coming back empty-handed. What’s your backup gear plan?
The Audix SCX1 in action on a recent documentary shoot at an auto shop. The SCX1 is mounted using a Rycote Lyre Mic Suspension Mount.
I had been putting off buying a new hypercardioid microphone for too long, which is why I recently purchased the Audix SCX1 microphone.
My company has been happily working with the Audio-Technica AT875R short shotgun for the past few years as our main microphone, both as an on-camera scratch and ambient mic and on a boom for interviews. We’ve owned and used much more expensive microphones in the past, such as the Schoeps CMC641 and the Sennheiser MKH-50, and have enjoyed the focused and neutral sound quality that a fine microphone like those can provide.
However, I’m not a pro sound mixer. It’s difficult to justify spending roughly $2,000 for a top-of-the-line microphone.
Generally, I prefer to hire pro sound mixers any time we go past a single talking head, whether that’s coverage of moving subjects, multiple subjects in an interview or anything narrative.
For those times when I’m shooting a single-subject interview, though, I wanted to have a hypercardioid microphone for rooms that have reverberant or echo-filled characteristics. But in case you’re not familiar with microphone pickup patterns, here’s a way to keep it simple:
Generally, the Schoeps CMC641 is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, supercardioid microphone available. When I began looking at hyper- and supercardioid microphones to purchase (hyper- and supercardioid microphones are close in pickup pattern but not exactly the same), I wondered if there was a candidate that could give me most of the benefits of the Schoeps but at a lower price.
After a lot of reading and research, listening to recordings and a couple of visits to a local audio retailer, I narrowed down my decision to either purchase the Audio Technica AT4053b hypercardioid or the Audix SCX1 hypercardioid. Both are well regarded in the sound mixing for picture business, and both retail for around $500 to $600.
After recording some interviews with both of them, I ended up purchasing the Audix. The sound was a little clearer and a bit more neutral to my ear, although it was a tough decision as the Audio Technica sounded very good as well, and I’ve always been a fan of Audio Technica microphones in general.
I’ve been shooting with the Audix now for three months and, so far, I haven’t regretted my decision once.
It’s always difficult to use adjectives to describe something as nuanced as sound quality, but here’s how I’d characterize it: The Audix, to my ear, both plugged into my Canon C200 direct or into my Sound Devices MixPre-3, has a transparent yet slightly lively quality to the sound and tends to let voices punch through an edited mix.
What I found interesting is that I’ve used the Schoeps CMC641, which is an industry standard for a reason, but the Audix SCX1 shared a lot of the same sound characteristics—for less than a third of the cost.
In microphones, the law of diminishing returns is in effect.
The Schoeps does sound better to my ears, but how much better does it sound versus the cost to buy one? For me, the Audix is an excellent value. It’s ruggedly and precisely crafted and sounds almost as neutral as the Schoeps.
So, if you have the budget, you can buy the Schoeps, and you’ll be very happy with it. But if you can’t afford to spend that kind of money but still are in pursuit of recording the best sound possible on a lower budget, the SCX1 HC may fit the bill.
As far as features and technical specifications, the Audix SCX1 HC is a hypercardioid condenser, and when you open the nicely crafted wooden box that Audix ships it in along with a mic stand mount and foam windscreen, it’s impressive how small the SCX1 is.
I utilize a Rycote Lyre microphone suspension mount on my K-Tek boom pole, and the Audix is so short that I have to plug it into the XLR cable before mounting it to have enough of the body of the mic to fit into the suspension mount and still have enough microphone body left to put on a Rycote Dead Cat wind protection or the included Audix foam windscreen that I use when shooting interiors.
If you’re a video shooter or someone else who needs to record high-quality interior audio, I highly recommend that you supplement the shotgun microphone that you probably already own with a high-quality hyper- or supercardioid microphone. It will improve the quality of your dialogue tracks when recording interiors, especially in rooms that have a lot of reverberant characteristics.
I have two of the Tascam DR-10L recorders that I occasionally use when recording subjects where using a wireless isn’t possible or at least not desirable. The DR-10L is a very small stand-alone recorder that comes with its own lavalier microphone.
I recently used a pair of them on a documentary shoot where we didn’t have a professional sound mixer with an outboard recorder to record a wireless feed, and I was shooting with a small mirrorless camera on a gimbal without a place to mount two wireless microphone receivers.
I placed one DR-10L on one of the subjects and just hit record and recorded their audio for hours. Of course, I wasn’t shooting video for hours, continuously, but the audio recorders were recording the whole time.
When I returned to our office and downloaded the audio to take a listen, overall, it didn’t sound too bad for a standalone $189 digital recorder.
But the included, inexpensive Tascam lavalier microphones left something to be desired as the sound was a bit muffled. It was usable but not premium sounding.
I chalked this up to the fact that the Tascam DR-10L costs just $189, including the recorder and a lavalier microphone. So the microphone is obviously not a high-end microphone.
I next decided that I’d try out another lavalier with the Tascam DR-10L: the Oscar SoundTech (OST) 801 lavalier.
I ordered two of them, one for each recorder, from Dave, the owner of Oscar SoundTech (oscarsoundtech.com).
By the way, customer support was very good. In fact, Dave got right back to me with answers to a couple of technical questions I had about the mics. Also, the Oscar SoundTech website is pretty basic, but you email Dave to obtain the most current price list.
The company presently offers three lavaliers: the 801, 802 and TL-40.
The 801 is a flat rectangular microphone that bears a resemblance to the Tram TR-50B and Sonotrim lavaliers, which are both industry standards that retail for about $250 to $350 each, depending on the options they’re ordered with. The 801 includes a slight high-frequency bump to compensate for being placed under wardrobe.
The 802 is the same microphone but without the high-frequency bump, better for exterior placement where the mic element can be seen.
The TL-40 is a smaller and differently designed microphone with the mic element placed at the end of the body of the microphone.
I already own two Tram TR-50B lavaliers and have used them for years and really like the sound that they produce for me, but both of mine are hard-wired to an XLR power supply, and I didn’t want to rewire them.
So I needed to buy two new lavs for the Tascams. And I wasn’t interested in spending $250 to $350 on a microphone for a $189, lower-end digital recorder.
Here’s my take: The Oscar SoundTech 801 lavaliers arrived, and I have since used them with the Tascam DR-10L recorders. They sound considerably crisper and clearer than the stock Tascam or RØDE lavaliers sound, and the value equation is excellent. I was able to purchase each OST 801 for less than $100.
I mount them to talent using the Rycote Overcovers that I wrote about a few issues ago. These are a small fur cover with a second piece of hypoallergenic sticky disc that fastens the lavalier to the fur cover. You peel off the back cover of the sticky disc and place it either on clothing or skin.
The extra-high frequency bump on the 801 works perfectly to offset the slight reduction in highs using this mounting system. If you’re in search of a great-sounding lavalier microphone at a very reasonable cost, I’d suggest you check out the Oscar SoundTech lavaliers. They represent an excellent value and sound much better than their price would lead you to believe.
Dave at OST can wire them to almost any type of connector you need, to work with any wireless system on the market. Also, the OST mics are available in three color options: black, white and tan.
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Do you ever evaluate your position within the production business? As I was walking the exhibits at Cine Gear Expo 2019 last week, I noticed how many different positions, or levels, there are in the “professional” production business. You’ll see a production assistant in their early 20s, who may or may not be in school, working when he or she can. Or there’s the union steadicam op, who has 30 years of features and television production under his or her belt and wants to semi-retire because their back is shot, but still does commercial production on the side. There are production-company or post-house owners who made their way up through the ranks and now spend most of their time being managers of people, more than shooting or editing hands-on work themselves. There are so many different levels you can engage with in our industry and still be considered a pro.
Well, in the past, you could look at all the gear on display at Cine Gear in a similar way. In other words, you could look at the different levels of gear—considering both features and price—and what might be the right solution for your workflow. However, that’s becoming difficult these days.
The biggest news of the show was a camera that (once again) blurred the lines between consumer/prosumer and professional users: The full-frame Panasonic S1H mirrorless camera, which is a product from Panasonic’s consumer Lumix division. But so are the GH5 and GH5S, which are both used in quite a few “real” productions for broadcast and in feature films as POV, crash cams, etc. by professional users as well as by high-end hobbyists, wedding videographers, stock-footage shooters and a lot of others. Yet, at this same show, the hottest booth I saw was the ARRI booth, where there were three different Alexa Mini LF cameras set up, shooting two live models on a set to illustrate the very compelling images and skin tones ARRI is known for. Now, these cameras cost about $70,000 for a shootable package.
The question is, at a show like Cine Gear, which camera is more exciting, or is right for your workflow—6K $4,000 mirrorless camera or a state-of-the-art $70,000 brand new large-format high-end digital cinema camera? Or can they both be equally exciting?
The lines are blurring in other areas as well: 2019 is an era where A-list directors like Steven Soderbergh are shooting feature films with multi-million dollar budgets for Netflix using an iPhone, while you’ll also find popular vloggers shooting YouTube content with $100,000 RED packages. So, what’s happening here? Part of what’s taking place is a result of the digital video revolution has been fulfilled.
If you’re not familiar with the promise of the Digital Video Revolution that came into being in the late 1990s, it was something along the lines of “Moore’s Law,” which stated that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. But instead of applying only to computers, the promise with digital video was the idea that technical capability would exponentially increase as the cost, size and weight of the digital-video products would shrink.
In 1998, most video pros used either Betacam SP or Digital Betacam camcorders that were relatively large, heavy and very expensive. In this era, there was still a strong delineation between “video/television” equipment and “film equipment”. Then came the first crop of digital video (MiniDV) prosumer camcorders. I knew the first time I used a Sony VX1000 that my $100,000 Betacam days were numbered. Sure, the VX1000 didn’t produce images that looked as good the images my Betacam could produce. But they looked good enough for a huge cross section of users. That, in my mind, was the beginning of the Digital Video Revolution.
Fast-forward to 2019: We have a real mix of people using a wide array of different types of equipment to produce a massive amount of content. Plus, we’ve reached a point where almost any camera on the market—from prosumer mirrorless cameras to even some mobile phones—has good enough specifications image-wise to produce amazingly high-quality images.
But while this is good for the so-called democratization of video production gear, it’s not as good for working professionals, since the sources for hiring professionals have become “clouded” by the amount of hobbyists, film students and part timers who have gear that is capable of producing good results if the operator knows what he or she is doing.
What level do you consider yourself? Do you work as a professional, meaning that producing content is your primary source of income?
The good news is the cost of entry, as a professional, has never been lower and the quality of work you can produce with low-cost gear has never been higher. Taking that a level higher, with on-line rental sources like www.lensrentals.com and equipment-sharing resources, like Sharegrid and KitSplit available, your access to top-of-the-line digital cinema gear has never been easier or more accessible.
I’m consistently amazed at how many low-budget music videos, indie films and micro-budgeted content I see being shot with Sony F55, RED and ARRI cameras that just a few years ago would have been out of reach for these users. Thanks to a glut of buyers who have bought expensive gear and don’t have enough work to make their lease payments, sharing services have resulted in rental rates going through the floor. The product-segment lines in the equipment that we use will continue to blur. I have no doubt that an amazing A-List Hollywood feature could be shot with the upcoming Panasonic S1H and its 6K FF imager will undoubtedly produce very high quality results in the right hands.
But not all gear is right for every project. For example, as someone who has worked on some A-List Hollywood features and television shows, I know a mirrorless camera would be a hindrance for a professional camera crew. Having two ACs, full FIZ controls, matte box and lots of prime-lens changes with a mirrorless camera can be done, but it’s not really the right tool for that type of production. The best tool for this type of filmmaking has been, and for the foreseeable future, will continue to be cameras made by RED, ARRI, Sony and Panavision.
Interestingly, it’s more the physical layout of the camera—where the physical controls are located and how they function for the camera crew—that matter more for most feature shoots with larger crews. Hardly anyone in the camera departments lament that the camera they’re using is only 4K, and not 6K or 8K resolution. They care more about if the camera lets them easily and smoothly do their job.
Of course, as we visit future IBC, InterBee, NAB and Cine Gear shows, we’re certain that we’ll continue to see new products that redefine the rules of function, effectiveness, cost, size and weight. And, we’ll be sure to let you know how well they work.
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Despite the plethora of products, there were just a few main headlines at the Cine Gear Expo 2019. They were all pretty straightforward and easy to understand. So, here they are and why they caught my attention:
There was quite a buzz taking place a few days before Cine Gear that the Lumix Division of Panasonic (its consumer camera division) would have a big announcement at Cine Gear. Since it was rumored to be a Lumix, most of us imagined that the company would announce a new camera, like the GH5 and GH5S or S1 and S1R. That’s assuming it was going to be a new camera,
Many thought Panasonic would be announcing specs and have at least a mock up of the upcoming GH6. But Panasonic threw a bit of a curveball and instead introduced the S1H, a full-frame mirrorless “big brother” to the recently introduced S1 and S1R cameras. Panasonic emphasized that the new S1H would be capable of 6K-resolution recording in an anamorphic-friendly, 3:2 aspect ratio as well as 16:9 4K recording at 5.9K resolution. (It did not mention how many megapixels the camera would be.) Other features included the following:
My Take on the Panasonic S1H: As a technical achievement, the S1H breaks new ground in the price-and-value equation. A full-frame 6K camera for $4,000 is grounds for excitement.
That said, the demo material that was shown by Panasonic didn’t look especially impressive to me, but I chalk that more up to artistic choices than to actual technological capability of the camera. Plus, I’m split in my reaction to the camera. It has amazing specifications and capabilities for a camera in its price range, and it’s continuing to blur the lines between what a mirrorless camera is and what a digital cinema camera is.
Panasonic said at Cine Gear that their strategy is to unify the Varicam, EVA1 and Lumix divisions and bring them all closer together so the new S1H, coupled with the recent huge price reduction on the Varicam LT, are tangible results of this new direction. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Panasonic put this new full-frame imager into a more digital cinema-centric camera in the near future, which is interesting. Of course, I would like to test and review the S1H when it becomes available; it has a lot of potential to become the most interesting camera release of 2019
Atomos made a big splash at the show, unveiling their new line up of high-end cinema monitor/recorders they’ve dubbed “Neon”. If you’ve ever seen or used the Atomos Sumo line of monitor/recorders, think of the Neon lineup of Monitor/Recorders as the new Sumo units, but grown up for high-end cinema/episodic TV work, both on set and in edit bays and high-end boardrooms for client presentation.
Available in 17-, 24-, 31- and 55-inch configurations, the Neon series allows capture from any HDMI, SDI or Quad Link SDI source. HDMI 10-bit uncompressed, right up to 12G-SDI 12-Bit, 4Kp60 RAW can be recorded.
Also, all the models are capable of recording ProRes RAW from compatible cameras, ProRes HQ, ProRes 422, ProRes LT, Avid DnX, DnX HQX, DnX HQ, DnX SQ, DnX LB, and Cinema DNG RAW.
My Take On The Atomos Neon Monitor/Recorders: Up until this point, Atomos has mainly appealed to smaller production companies, one-man bands and indie filmmakers with low cost, fully featured recorders and monitors. I bought an Atomos Ninja Blade for my Canon C100MKI four years ago, and it has been a great tool. I recently bought the Atomos Shinobi SDI monitor for my gimbal shooting. So, overall, I’d say I like the company’s products.
That said, these new monitor/recorders are stepping into a new customer space with prices ranging from $4,000 to $18,000. The panels look great, although I am not sure there is such a big market for monitors with built-in video recorders. Once Atomos gets into the higher-end monitor market, competing with Canon, Sony, Flanders Scientific and others for high-end reference monitors, they will have to build up a reputation that they honestly don’t yet have in that space. But it’ll be interesting to see how they fare once the monitors are out in the wild.
I was able to take a look at both of Fujifilm Fujinon’s new Premista large-sensor cine zoom lenses. But first, a little background: Fujinon has always made excellent television and cinema optics. The current lineup of their excellent Premiere and Cabrio lenses, plus their low-cost MKX cine zooms and all of their B4 mount broadcast-type lenses, might leave you wondering why they felt compelled to come out with yet another lineup of lenses.
The answer is simple: it’s the recent introduction of full-frame/LF digital cinema cameras.
All of Fuji’s existing cine zooms were for S35 imagers. With the recent popularity of so many new FF and LF cameras, the company felt compelled to introduce a new lineup of cine zooms that could cover a large-frame image circle. Both zooms cover a 46.3mm image circle, which means they are compatible with all current large-format digital cinema cameras. Both lenses also feature an eXtended Data port. This port transmits essential lens metadata through both a Cooke/i interface on the mount itself and a 4-pin LEMO connection on the lens body.
My Take On The Fujinon Premista Zooms: Last year, after evaluating the Canon C700 FF and taking a look at the growing popularity of FF/LF camera systems, it occurred to me that there were relatively few FF cine zoom lenses on the market. Also, for many of the manufacturers that did offer LF/FF cine zooms (Zeiss and Angenieux, to name a couple), the cost can be rather high.
And while they’re far from inexpensive, the list price of the two new Fujinon zooms is $38,800 for the 28-100mm T2.9 and $39,800 for the 80-250mm T2.9-3.5. That’s actually very reasonable for lenses in this space.
In short, when you play with the cameras that Hollywood uses, like the RED Monstro, Sony Venice and the Arri Alex Mini LF, quality optics to cover that size image circle aren’t cheap.
Be sure to come back and visit our HDVideoPro blog for our continuing coverage of Cine Gear Expo 2019.
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While there was no doubt that we saw some memorable displays at Cine Gear Expo 2019, like this Game of Thrones spoof from Kingston, we didn’t see a lot of new products.
As I sit writing this blog post, I’ve been reflecting on this year’s Cine Gear Expo 2019 show and what I saw and experienced.
Now, I’ve been involved in production for long enough and have attended quite a few NAB shows. But I began going to Cine Gear about four years ago, mainly because it is such an easier show for me to attend. Paramount Studios in Hollywood is only about an hour from my home. That’s easier than hopping on a plane or driving six hours to get to Las Vegas for NAB. Granted, NAB is a huge show, but there are downsides to attending the largest broadcast show in the world.
The first is the physical size. NAB is spread out all over the Las Vegas Convention Center as well as several other adjacent buildings. It seems to go on for miles, and it’s exhausting. In Las Vegas, it can take an hour just to figure out where a specific exhibit is located and to walk there. Also, NAB, if you haven’t attended, is focused loosely on “broadcast”, but in reality, as you walk the halls at NAB, you see dozens and even hundreds of booths and exhibits, talking about and showing equipment that if you aren’t a TV engineer, you will have no idea what it is or what it does.
I’m not knocking NAB. It’s an amazing experience to go and everyone should attend at least a few times in their life. But after attending a few NABs, it loses its luster.
Conversely, Cine Gear Expo 2019 is neatly contained, just within the Paramount Studios lot, making getting around to see different exhibits simple and easy. Cine Gear is a more manageable show, and it feels like I actually end up seeing and experiencing more at Cine Gear, whereas in Las Vegas, it feels as if I spend a good portion of each day just walking between halls and exhibits. The other great thing about Cine Gear is the focus, which is sharply directed toward production of episodic TV and feature films. And that’s it!
I saw a lot of products at this show. However, aside from the Panasonic S1H mirrorless camera, which is an amazingly equipped 6K mirrorless/digital cinema hybrid that will sell for a very reasonable price, as well as the Fujinon Premista lenses and the Atomos Neon Monitors/Recorders, much of what was displayed at Cine Gear Expo 2019 was either the same or slightly revised products that I saw on display at Cine Gear 2018, last year. (I’ll be posting a blog on the three new products that caught my eye shortly.)
It’s a telling sign that the TV-and-cinema production space seems as if it may be finally reaching a spot where frantic growth and innovation are no longer the rules of the day. We may be working with a paradigm like we have had several times over the past few decades in production where we don’t see brand new camera models every 4-6 months or new versions of editing software and lighting every 2-3 months.
The image quality of current cameras is so capable and has evolved so many times that we may be seeing just the beginning of a new paradigm where manufacturers promote and sell models longer than they used to.
And that’s good for business. I, for one, welcome buying a pro-level production tool and having it stay current for a year or two.
How about you? Do we need a constant stream of new products to tell visual stories? Or, if you were there, what did you think of the Cine Gear Expo 2019 show? Post or send us your comments and let us know what you think?
And be sure to come back and visit our HDVideoPro blog for our continuing coverage of Cine Gear Expo 2019.
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The Sony Venice full-frame cinema camera in action during Cine Gear Expo 2019, at the Sony booth.
During Cine Gear Expo 2019, Sony announced a new firmware update for its Venice motion-picture camera. It made the announcement at its new production center, which attracted a large crowd, including scores of cinematographers, content creators and photographers.
During the presentation at the new facility, Sony said a new Venice firmware update (Version 4.0) would be released this June and include an HFR license to support the following frame rates and resolution settings:
• 120fps at 4K 2.39:1
• 110fps at 4K 17:9,
• 75fps at 4K 4:3
• and 60fps at 6K 3:2
Additionally, Sony said Venice’s Version 5.0 firmware update “will further enable cinematographers to shoot at speeds of up to 90fps at 6K 2.39:1 and 72fps at 6K 17:9/1.85:1. This addition enables Venice to capture three times slow motion at 24p, even in 6K. Cinematographers can utilize the same camera across multiple speeds, maintaining the full-frame shallow depth of field, as well as the high picture quality of oversampling in 6K.” Unfortunately, creatives will have to wait until January 2020 for Version 5.0.
Sony made the new firmware announcements at its new Digital Media Production Center (DMPC), which the company is planning on making available to content creatives of all types. According to Sony, “The DMPC features a professional production stage for cinema camera and lens testing, along with a workflow suite for ingest and grading, and a viewing room with both 4K projection and Sony’s Crystal LED (CLED) display. At more than 23 feet wide, the CLED display has an aspect ratio of 2:66:1, ideal for 6K anamorphic Venice content. New to the relaunched DMPC is a photo studio for hands-on classes with Sony’s Alpha cameras and E-Mount lenses, and a Sony Pro Support service center.”
For more on the new firmware updates and the new Sony Digital Media Production Center, see the press release below, or visit sony.com/news
Be sure to come back and visit our HDVideoPro blog for our continuing coverage of Cine Gear Expo 2019.
Sony Electronics – 05/30/2019
Version 5.0 Firmware Offers Advanced HFR Capabilities up to
90fps at 6K 2.39:1 and 72fps at 6K 17:9, HD ProRes 4444 and more
HOLLYWOOD, CA – May 30, 2019 – At the grand opening of Sony’s Digital Media Production Center (DMPC), the industry’s most complete capture to display facility, Sony Electronics is connecting users and creators to deliver the artists’ intent by driving hands-on experiences with the latest technology in Cinema. The DMPC in Hollywood is the flagship of several such facilities around the world, and is designed to be a resource for cinematographers, photographers, and anyone involved in image making. The venue* will host a press conference tonight revealing technology advancements with its VENICE full-frame digital motion picture camera. VENICE will receive additional High Frame Rate (HFR) capabilities and added workflow flexibility with a new Version 5.0 firmware update planned for January 2020.
Following the Version 4.0 firmware release this June, which includes an HFR license to support 120fps at 4K 2.39:1, 110fps at 4K 17:9, 75fps at 4K 4:3 and 60fps at 6K 3:2, VENICE’s Version 5.0 update will further enable cinematographers to shoot at speeds of up to 90fps at 6K 2.39:1 and 72fps at 6K 17:9/1.85:1. This addition enables VENICE to capture three times slow motion at 24p, even in 6K. Cinematographers can utilize the same camera across multiple speeds, maintaining the full-frame shallow depth of field, as well as the high picture quality of oversampling in 6K.
“Through an ongoing dialogue with cinematographers, we have continued to evolve VENICE to meet the needs of top talent,” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Product and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics. “To date, more than 100 features and episodic productions have been shot on VENICE. The new Version 5.0 firmware will allow the camera to be even more flexible, ultimately increasing its benefit and versatility to all cinematographers.”
Notable projects shot on VENICE include this summer’s action thriller from STXfilms “21 Bridges” (DoP Paul Cameron, ASC), Sony Pictures’ “Bad Boys for Life” (DoP Robrecht Heyvaert) and the Johnny Depp drama “Minamata” (DoP Benoît Delhomme).
VENICE Version 5.0 Firmware
Version 5.0 also offer various features to achieve enhanced shooting usability and efficient production workflow.
Commitments to Best Imaging & Workflow Practices
In addition, regardless of VENICE firmware version, Sony has announced a new commitment with a key industry organization dedicated to achieving the highest quality image and preserving the filmmaker’s creative intent:
Cine Gear Expo
To see VENICE in person, including the Version 4.0 HFR capabilities and the popular VENICE Extension System, visit Sony at booth #S101 in Stage 6 of Cine Gear Expo at Paramount Studios.
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HDVideoPro’s editorial team compiled this Cine Gear Expo 2019: Image Gallery. Throughout the various sections of the Cine Gear Expo show, which took place in Los Angeles from May 30 through June 2, 2019, our teams discovered some exciting new products and exhibits.
The expo was set up in various sections of Paramount Pictures Studios, including four indoor stages as well as the studio’s “New York Streets” section and a B-Tank section.
Click through the gallery slideshow below to see some of the hottest new gear and other show highlights. We’ll be updating this gallery with more images soon:
[See image gallery at www.hdvideopro.com]
No matter what size your film project or production is, you still need to protect your cameras, lenses and other equipment when shooting on location. At this year’s Cine Gear Expo, SKB Cases had a variety of cases and storage containers to suit just about any cinematographer. SKB Cases Project Manager Will Steven showed us three models in this video:
For more on SKB Cases for photo and video equipment, click here.
Be sure to check back for our continuing coverage of Cine Gear Expo 2019.
Cinematographers love to come to Cine Gear Expo to see the latest gear from the top manufacturers of cameras and lenses. This year, Band Pro was showing a prototype of its latest partner project, Angenieux Optimo Prime cine lenses, for which Band Pro is a partner and the exclusive distributor in the Americas.
Randy Wedick, the company’s Senior Technical Consultant, calls the new lenses “a tool box for cinematographers.” In fact, he says they have a modular construction that’s “very customizable.” Terry Sullivan, Editor of HDVideoPro, caught up with him at the show to talk about the new primes in this video:
For more on the Angenieux Optimo Primes, go to bandpro.com/blog/optimoprimes/
Be sure to come back and visit our HDVideoPro blog for our continuing coverage of Cine Gear Expo 2019.
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At this year’s Cine Gear Expo, there were many companies displaying a variety of lenses. A popular stop at the show is the Carl Zeiss booth. It’s where cinematographers could get a close look at the company’s lines of lenses, including the Zeiss Supreme Prime Lenses. Terry Sullivan, Editor of HDVideoPro, got a moment to speak with Tony Wisniewski of Zeiss about how the company is working to help cinematographers get the most out of Zeiss lenses to realize their creative vision.
For more on ZEISS cinematography lenses, go to zeiss.com/cine
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The new Panasonic LUMIX S1H Full-Frame mirrorless camera
Today at this year’s Cine Gear Expo in Los Angeles, Panasonic announced the third full-frame mirrorless camera in its LUMIX brand, the new Panasonic LUMIX S1H full-frame mirrorless camera. Like the LUMIX S1 and S1R, its brand siblings, the new LUMIX S1H is equipped with a full-frame image sensor. Panasonic claims the new model is the world’s first camera “capable of video recording at 6K/24p (3:2 aspect ratio), 5.9K/30p (16:9 aspect ratio), and 10-bit 60p 4K/C4K.”
However, there were few other details on the new camera. For instance, at press time, Panasonic wasn’t stating how many megapixels the new sensor has nor did it give the price of the new model.
According to the company, the model combines the video quality of a professional camera and the high mobility of a mirrorless camera. Panasonic says the new LUMIX S1H will be shipped this fall. Another important feature is that it will come with the ability to shoot uninterrupted video clips. So, there’s no limit to the length of the video clips.
In addition, Panasonic made several other announcements, including news on a new lens, two new teleconverters and firmware update for the S1.
For more, see the following press releases from Panasonic below.
Panasonic Announces the New LUMIX S1H Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera
With Cinema-Quality Video and the World’s First 6K/24p*1 Recording Capability
Newark, NJ (May 31, 2019) – Panasonic Corporation is proud to announce the newest addition to the LUMIX S series, the LUMIX S1H, a new Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera equipped with a full-frame image sensor. As the world’s first camera capable of video recording at 6K/24p *1 (3:2 aspect ratio), 5.9K/30p (16:9 aspect ratio), and 10-bit 60p 4K/C4K.*2 *3, it combines the video quality of a professional camera and the high mobility of a mirrorless camera. The LUMIX S1H will be released to world markets in fall 2019.
The main features of the new LUMIX S1H are as follows:
Maximizing the use of the pixels in the full-frame image sensor, the LUMIX S1H, as a digital camera, has achieved 6K/24p (3:2 aspect ratio) or 5.9K/30p (16:9 aspect ratio) video recording for the first time in the world.*1 It is also the world’s first full-frame digital interchangeable lens system camera*1 to enable 10-bit 60p 4K/C4K *2*3 video recording. It accommodates a variety of recording formats like 4:3 Anamorphic mode, to meet professional needs. Its high-resolution data can also be used to create 4K videos with higher image quality or to crop images in 4K.
The LUMIX S1H features V-Log/V-Gamut with a wide dynamic range of 14+ stops, which are virtually the same as those of the Panasonic Cinema VariCam, allowing it to precisely capture everything from dark to bright areas. So much so, that the color and even the texture of human skin are faithfully reproduced. Designed under consistent color management, the S1H’s recorded footage is compatible with V-Log footage recorded by VariCam or the LUMIX GH5/GH5S.
In every S1H recording mode, video can be recorded non-stop under the certified operating temperature so the user can concentrate on shooting.
Since the 1990s, Panasonic has been a leader in the development of video recording technologies for digital cinema, and has produced a host of innovative technologies for impressive cinematic imagery, such as 24p video recording, slow motion video using a variable frame rate, and the wide dynamic range and color space of V-Log/V-Gamut. By working with film creators for more than 25 years, Panasonic has successfully designed a number of cinema cameras that exhibit stunningly high video performance. The LUMIX GH1 made its debut in 2009 as the world’s first Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera capable of full-HD AVCHD video recording. *4 The LUMIX GH4 was launched in 2014 as the world’s first Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera*5 capable of 4K video recording. Next, the LUMIX GH5 was released in 2017 with the world’s first 4K/60p, 4:2:2 10-bit 4K/30p recording capability.*6 The LUMIX GH5 is highly acclaimed by film creators for its high performance, excellent mobility, and superb versatility in film production. And now, in 2019, the LUMIX S1H joins as Panasonic’s newest cinema camera.
Panasonic now offers three innovative models in the LUMIX S Series of full-frame Digital Single Lens Mirrorless cameras – the S1R, the S1, and the new S1H. The LUMIX S1R is ideal for capturing high-resolution images, while the LUMIX S1 is an advanced hybrid camera for high-quality photos and videos, and the LUMIX S1H is designed especially for film production. With this lineup, Panasonic is committed to meet the demands of every imaging professional by challenging the constant evolution of the photo/video culture in today’s new digital era.
The LUMIX S1H prototype will be exhibited at the 2019 Cine Gear Expo.*8
*1 As a digital interchangeable lens system camera, as of May 31, 2019 (U.S.). Panasonic research.
*2 As a full-frame digital interchangeable lens system camera, as of May 31 May, 2019 (U.S.). Panasonic research. In Super 35mm-equivalent size.
*3 Corresponding to 4K (4096×2160) as defined by Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI).
*4 As of March 25, 2009, as a digital interchangeable lens system camera. Panasonic research.
*5 As of March 25, 2014, as a Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera. Panasonic research.
*6 As of January 25, 2017, as a digital interchangeable lens system camera. Panasonic research.
*7 Recording time varies depending on the battery capacity and memory card capacity. When the camera’s temperature rises above the specified operation temperature, the camera may automatically stop video recording to protect it from heat damage.
*8 Cine Gear Expo 2019 is the premier annual event for professionals engaged in the technology, entertainment and media industry to be held at Paramount Studios in Los Angles, U.S., through May 30 to June 2.
･Design and specifications are subject to change without notice.
Panasonic Introduces The World’s First* Standard Zoom Lens Achieving
LEICA DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm / F1.7 ASPH. (H-X1025)
*As a digital interchangeable lens for a mirrorless camera, as of May 31, 2019
Newark, NJ (May 31, 2019) – Panasonic is proud to introduce a new standard zoom digital interchangeable lens, the LEICA DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm / F1.7 ASPH.
(H-X1025), which boasts a large F1.7 aperture throughout the entire 20-50mm (35mm camera equivalent) zoom range and exceptionally high optical performance, clearing the stringent LEICA standards. The LEICA DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm / F1.7 ASPH. is suitable not only for stills shooting, but also for video recording, to satisfy both professional photographers and videographers.
The full-range F1.7 ASPH. high-speed aperture provides beautiful bokeh and high descriptiveness. Covering a focusing distance from wide angle to standard zoom range, the LEICA DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm / F1.7 ASPH. functions as a multiple fixed focal-length lens, providing the same or higher level of descriptiveness than a fixed focal-length lens can offer. It is suitable for a variety of daily shooting situations, from dynamic landscapes to portraits–even in low-lit scenes– eliminating the need to change lenses between variations in environment.
Comprising 17 elements in 12 groups, the lens system features three aspherical lenses and four ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lenses that effectively suppress the axial chromatic aberration and chromatic aberration of magnification. Spherical aberration and distortion are also corrected by the aspherical lenses for stunningly high resolution. The use of aspherical lenses coupled with the optimum design of the lens system, results in a compact size and light weight, while maintaining its outstanding optical performance.
Compatibility with a maximum 240-fps high-speed sensor drive realizes high-speed and high-precision auto focusing. Notably, the new lens excels in video recording performance. In addition to the silent operation achieved by the inner focus drive system, the stepless aperture ring and micro-step drive system in the aperture control section help the camera smoothly catch up to brightness changes when zooming or panning. The optical design achieves exceptional barycentric stability to minimize image shifts during zooming. Adoption of a focus clutch mechanism enables instant AF/MF switching and accurate manual focusing. The LEICA DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm / F1.7 ASPH. also excels in video recording performance with a mechanism that suppresses focus breathing, which was previously a fatal problem of all interchangeable lenses designed for still image photography.
The rugged dust/splash-resistant* design withstands use under harsh conditions even at -10 degrees Centigrade for high mobility. Nine blades give the aperture a rounded shape that produces an attractively smooth defocus effect in out-of-focus areas when shooting at larger aperture settings. Filter diameter is in 77mm. A highly reliable metal mount endures long time use.
Panasonic is committed to expanding the of Micro Four Thirds lineup through its LUMIX G series of cameras and lenses.
*Dust and Splash Resistant does not guarantee that damage will not occur if this lens is subjected to direct contact with dust and water.
Panasonic Announces New Teleconverters for LUMIX S Series Telephoto Zoom Lenses
1.4x Teleconverter DMW-STC14 and 2x Teleconverter DMW-STC20
Newark, NJ (May 31, 2019) – Panasonic today announced new teleconverters for the LUMIX S Series telephoto zoom lenses – a 1.4x Teleconverter DMW-STC14 and a 2x Teleconverter DMW-STC20– available in July . The latest teleconverters can be attached to the LUMIX S PRO 70-200mm F4 O.I.S. (S-R70200)*1, turning the lens into a super telephoto lens with extended zoom range of maximum 400mm with high-speed and high-precision AF. The rugged and dust/splash-resistant*2 design withstands use under harsh conditions, even in -10 degrees Centigrade for high mobility.
Both teleconverters DMW-STC14 and DMW-STC20 will also be compatible with the new 70-200mm / F2.8 S Series lens, to be introduced later in 2019.
Lens Composition 7 lenses including 2 UHR (Ultra High Refractive Index Lens) lenses in 4 groups
Lens Composition 8 lenses including 2 UHR (Ultra High Refractive Index Lens) lenses in 4 groups
*1 The firmware needs to be updated to its latest version.
*2 Dust and Splash Resistant does not guarantee that damage will not occur if this lens is subjected to direct contact with dust and water.
・Design and specifications are subject to change without notice.
Panasonic to Release the Upgrade Firmware Key DMW-SFU2 for LUMIX S1 in July 2019 to Expand Its Video Performance
Newark, NJ (May 31, 2019) – Panasonic has announced that the company will release an Upgrade Firmware Key DMW-SFU2 for the full-frame mirrorless camera LUMIX S1 in July 2019. This paid software program will further expand the video performance of the LUMIX S1 for advanced video recording. As announced separately, the new LUMIX S1H features 14+ stops of full V-Log, which is equivalent to the V-Log of high-end cinema cameras such as the Cinema VariCam. The user can experience the 14+ stops of V-Log on the LUMIX S1 with the firmware update program provided by the Upgrade Software Key DMW-SFU2, prior to the release of the LUMIX S1H.
Functions available with the upgrade program are as follows.
– 14+ stops of V-Log recording
– World’s first 4:2:2 10-bit 4K MOV 30p/25p*1 internal video recording*2
– World’s first 4:2:2 10-bit 4K 60p/50p*1 HDMI output*2
– V-Log and V-Gamut compatible with Cinema VariCam Look
– In-camera LUT (Look Up Table) application enabling playback of V-Log while or after recording (LUT Display with Custom Function)
– A WFM (Waveform Monitor) displays brightness level while recording
– High-res 48-kHz/24-bit or 96-kHz/24-bit sound can be recorded in MOV using the XLR Microphone Adaptor DMW-XLR1
The Upgrade Software Key DMW-SFU2 will go on sale in July 2019.
*1 PAL area only.
*2 For a full-frame digital still camera as of May 31, 2019.
・Design and specifications are subject to change without notice.
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On Friday, CNN and other news outlets reported on a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
This past Friday and over the weekend, cable news network, CNN, along with a number of other news outlets, including CBS This Morning, reported on a widely viewed manipulated video of U.S. Congresswoman and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. On CNN’s website, reporter Donie O’Sullivan, wrote that the manipulated video was being “shared by some social media users to spread a false claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slurred her words after meeting with President Donald Trump on Wednesday.” It was removed by YouTube, the company told CNN on Thursday.
Of course, professional photographers, videographers, DPs and cinematographers know how easy it is to change the playing speed of a video in video-editing software or a video app. So, in some ways, it’s not surprising such a video might appear on social media. However, according to many news outlets, although the video was quickly revealed as false, it’s been viewed by millions online and on social media.
Here’s a YouTube video from CBS This Morning news that shows clips of both the original video and the manipulated “deepfake” video:
Cine Gear 2019 Expo is a tech show where filmmakers can check out what’s new in the world of digital cinema and production gear.
The show takes place later this week on the Paramount lot in Hollywood, California from May 30 through June 2. For more on what to expect at the upcoming snow, click here.
I created this cannonball video last summer to show how cameras and phones can capture cool slow-motion video, a feature that’s relatively new to phones and cameras, but continues to improve. For this footage, I composed both the original music and the video edits all on my Apple iPhone 7—although I recently updated the text on my Apple MacBook Pro by airdropping the original project from my phone onto my desktop, and opening it in iMovie on my laptop. In the past, this sort of workflow would have taken a lot of time to create…and would have been very expensive.
The following two grants for filmmakers have deadlines that are coming up soon, in July and August. Be sure to carefully read the submission requirements before you apply:
Drone manufacturer, DJI, says it will soon add airplane and helicopter detection technology to all its drones that weigh more than 250 grams, or 9 ounces. According to the company, “all new DJI drone models released after January 1, 2020 that weigh more than 250 grams will include AirSense technology, which receives ADS-B signals from nearby airplanes and helicopters and warns drone pilots if they appear to be on a collision course. This will be the largest single deployment of ADS-B collision awareness technology to date, and sets a new standard by putting professional-grade aviation safety technology in drones available to everyone.” For more on the technology, go to DJI’s website: www.dji.com/uk/newsroom/news/dji-adds-airplane-and-helicopter-detectors-to-new-consumer-drones
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This year, we’ll again be attending Cine Gear 2019 Expo. The show takes place on the Paramount lot in Hollywood, California from May 30 through June 2. We’ll be there to check out what’s new in the world of digital cinema and production gear. What’s particularly nice about this show is that it’s a focused expo that targets filmmakers, instead of broadcasters and television production.
Here’s some of what will be taking a close look at this year’s expo:
Additionally, we’ll also be covering the winners of this year’s Cine Gear Expo awards: We’ll find out which products and services are winners of the Cine Gear Technical Awards, the expo’s annual recognition of the products with the best of the industry’s technical advancements. Product categories include best camera technology, optics, lighting, support, sound and accessories. This year, the Cine Gear Expo has announced its Outstanding Technical Achievement award, which will go to “KinoFlo for the continuing advancement the brand has made to lighting technology.”
Additionally, the Legacy Award will be presented to “George Spiro Dibie, ASC, for his outstanding contribution to the art and generous service to the industry and Claudio Miranda, ASC, will receive the Visionary Award for his outstanding Cinematography.”
We’ll also report on winners of the Film Series, which will receive filmmaking equipment, including cameras, lighting and accessories from the sponsors of the competition. Last year, categories included Best Student Short Film, Independent Short Film, Commercial and Music Video and Award for Visual Excellence.
For more, go to the Cine Gear Expo website.
The question of where editing software is going popped into my mind as I sat through press conferences and demos at NAB. (No, I promised my editor this wasn’t going to be another NAB recap.) Both Blackmagic Design and Adobe introduced new components to their edit software.
It got me thinking about all the editing platforms I have used—and continue to use—over the years. From the beginning of non-linear until today, there have been a lot of firsts, some revolutionary experiences and a lot of catchup.
Adobe’s subscription model is now seven years old. It was introduced in April of 2012. “Creative Cloud members will have access to application upgrades…including point-product features…as well as inventive new products and services as they emerge,” said the press release.
Is it working? Has it lived up to its promise? I guess it depends on what you think the promises were. And how their upgrade schedule fits into your upgrade schedule.
Daniel Brockett recently wrote about subscription editing and how it fits into (or doesn’t) his workflow. I feel some of his pain about getting projects done and the need for reliable software that is cost effective.
As an example, I use Premiere Pro for many projects. I like some of the tools I can use to make fixes to footage, like tracking masks. However, I am not a fan of the philosophy of “just do all your effects work in After Effects and use dynamic linking.” Dynamic linking isn’t as stable as I would like. It can lead to project bloat and long startup times, and there are some simple tasks that I just want to do on the timeline.
I also do a fair bit of type in edit and would like the type tools to behave like other Adobe products—like Photoshop and After Effects—with interactive kerning and access to anti-aliasing controls.
But getting back to the subscription model pros and cons, my biggest question is about future development. In the non-subscription days, you bought software (though technically you still didn’t “own” the software) and you assumed that a percentage of the profit from your purchase would go into the development of that software. If sales were down, you assumed that the manufacturer would either drop the application or put more resources on it to make it more competitive.
With the current “one monthly fee” for a group of applications, how does the development money get divvied up? I pay about $640 a year. How much of that goes toward improving Premier Pro vs. Dreamweaver? If Adobe adds another application—say, a mobile editing application—but they don’t charge any more, does that mean there is less money being spent this year on the application I care about? And lastly, what are the applications that really aren’t worth keeping around?
I talked to Adobe about this when I was at NAB. They told me they can get anonymized data about application use by their Creative Cloud members. I assume they use that information to make some of those decisions about where to apply resources.
For me, subscription vs. non-subscription still boils down to whether I have the tools I need to get the project done. It also considers whether I am energized by the process. The latter is just as important, and it may be the reason I don’t use just one piece of software to edit. More on that next time.
Shooting crazy hours, in rain and in heat, pushing yourself to keep going. Shooting documentaries can be just as tough as scripted production.
Perseverance. A word that has been on my mind quite a bit lately. What does that word mean to you in relation to this crazy industry that we are a part of? To me, it is a watchword for what I do to be in this business, stay in this business and to grow in what I do and what I aspire to.
As you undoubtedly know, filmmaking takes perseverance. Besides the skill, luck and talent that it takes to actually produce a project, it takes sheer stubbornness and a modicum of determination to keep it going and take it over the finish line. Over the past few years, I have been the cinematographer for two different feature-length documentary films. In addition, I have been producing my own two documentaries with my producing partner, Tony Peck.
In 2015, a friend of mine who I worked with at a production company quite a few years ago decided that he had a great opportunity to produce a film about the life of Muhammad Ali. You might think to yourself, “That sounds interesting, but haven’t there already been several films made about Ali, both narrative and documentaries?” Why yes, there have been several films about Ali. I asked my friend the same question and his reply is what intrigued me enough to want to sign on to shoot the film with him.
My friend laid out the rules of the game to produce the film. He works with talk show host and all around bon vivant, Dick Cavett. His job is to put together and administer licensing deals for all of the footage that Cavett owns from the many iterations of his talk shows that were on various networks throughout his career. He knew through his work that Cavett and Ali were good friends in real life and Ali had been on Cavett’s shows eleven times and that most of that footage hadn’t been licensed out so much of it had not been seen since it originally aired in the 60s, into the 70s.
My friend decided that the Cavett conversations with Ali could serve as the basis for a fascinating documentary, not covering Ali the Boxer, but Ali the man. His upbringing. His “unpopular at the time” yet ultimately heroic decision to become a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. His controversial conversion to Islam and subsequent name change from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali. His friendship with Malcolm X and relationship with Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. I was in, it all sounded pretty interesting and intriguing.
Basically, my friend and I shot the entire film ourselves, mostly interviews in Los Angeles and New York with a lot of interesting figures. Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz. Rev. Al Sharpton. Juan Williams, author of “Eyes On the Prize” An expert on The Nation of Islam at West Point.
The list went on and on. We shot interviews throughout most of late 2015, into the Fall of 2016. A few here in LA with Dick Cavett while he was out here on the west coast doing a play, also an interview with ESPN Boxing Commentator Larry Merchant. The film was financed solely by my friend out of his own pocket. He had relatively low costs since the two of us were really the main crew, only occasionally hiring a sound mixer or PA but there was all the travel from LA to New York and back. It took him about a year and a half to get the film edited, rights secured, stock footage licensed, a score composed, legal, color correction, grading, sound mix, DCP for exhibition. It all adds up.
I didn’t hear from the friend for quite a while, but then one day he called me and said that the film had been selected for exhibition at the 2017 South By Southwest Film Festival and that he had secured an agent to represent the film! May came and went and the film screened at the festival. A few months later, I spoke with the friend again and the film had been acquired by a major pay cable outlet and will screen on their channel.
My take away from the experience is that it takes a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears to achieve your goals with a film, video or television project. My friend will not be wealthy from selling the film to cable outlet but he will recoup his production costs and turn a nice profit. But keep in mind, he financed it out of his own pocket (huge risk) and put YEARS of his life into planning, writing, producing, editing and shepherding the film through the post process. He did have a partner in Mr. Cavett since he owns the rights to his shows, but the friend took almost all of the risk.
He completed the film and it’s going to be seen by the world because he was too stubborn to let the production just fall apart. It was difficult lining up interviews with some of the subjects and being that it was a documentary, he couldn’t pay the subjects so he had very little leverage to persuade the subjects to appear before our camera, other than it would be a chance for them to express their thoughts about Ali for posterity and as a kind of fond love letter for their friend. Ali was still alive when we were in production although he died shortly after we completed filming.
I have been in production on my own documentary series on the lives of two women athletes. Both are Outrigger Paddling racers in Southern California. We began production on the film in 2016 and filmed all through 2017 and 2018. We set out to make a film about a sport that not many people in the mainland U.S. even know exists with a focus on two specific women. Along the way during filming, as we interviewed, followed and became more involved with the women’s lives, the story completely changed just as we were finishing shooting last year.
We had plans to go into post in January of this year but as the story of the two women’s lives evolved, we decided to shoot for another year to keep telling their stories and the monumental things going on in their worlds. One woman, Courtney Hamchuk, was diagnosed with Stage 2 Triple Negative Breast Cancer and the other woman we were following, Aimee Spector, decided that she was going to run her first ultramarathon in Florida, and then she’s going to the World Outrigger Championships in Australia later this year.It’s been difficult to continue filming for another year but the story demands it and it has required that both me and my co-producer find the time., money and drive to keep on shooting, keep working on a trailer we can shop for financing to complete the film. This project began as a micro-budgeted documentary, made largely with sweat equity but once we are finished shooting, we will need to raise approximately $100k to pay our editor, composer, color correction and grading, sound mix, DCP, legal, motion graphics and all of the other assorted functions that must be applied to end up with a polished, professional looking and sounding Docu-Series.
As anyone who has produced and directed a film can tell you, if it were easy, everyone would be a filmmaker. Like most endeavors in life, it takes pain, blood, sweat and tears to cross the finish line. On top of that, it takes your talent as a storyteller and that faith that your project matters and that the story you’re telling will entertain, enlighten and inspire others.
As I write this blog entry, I just returned from a five-day shoot, following Aimee Spector, one of our subjects as she ran in the www.keys100.com, a 100-mile Ultra Marathon from Key Largo to Key West, Florida. If you’ve never shot in South Florida, we faced heavy rain, winds, blazing sun, mosquitos, sleep deprivation and general stress, I spent 30 hours in the support van without sleeping, hopping out to document her check points, following her in and running out with her with a camera. Documenting this woman running 100 miles in just over 22 hours was a living testimony to the power of sheer will and perseverance. It was her first Ultra Marathon and she finished number one in her age group, the 9th place women overall and the 21st place runner for the entire race. Hopefully, our Docu-Series will have a similar finish next year.
A state-of-the-art handheld rig in 2019: The Arri Alexa Mini.
Do you still shoot video handheld? It’s a valid question these days as so many shooters are utilizing gimbals, Steadicam-like devices, sliders and drones. It seems as if the new visual vocabulary demands increasingly growing amounts of camera movement to be considered visually relevant. It seems as if in some people’s minds, the fine art of handheld shooting is a dying art. It’s interesting to take a look at a feature like any of the Marvel films, any of the Bourne Identity franchise and decide that handheld must be on its last legs, right?
Of course, these days it can also be difficult to decode exactly how a given shot is photographed and how the camera was moved and supported to give that result.
In higher-end features and television, the budgets allocated for this sort of programming also allow for creative tools such as Technocranes, Russian Arms mounted on Porsches and, of course, the ever-present Fisher or Chapman dolly that weighs hundreds of pounds and often has its own crew assigned to set it up, move it and break it down.
All of these tools can provide exceptionally smooth and lithe movement in situations where moving a heavy cinema camera smoothly used to be difficult to impossible.
Those tools are typically only utilized on projects that have a lot more than just four or five zeros in their budget though. What about camera movement for the non-Hollywood budget like most of us shoot on? For me, personally, I’m starting to see a resurgence of handheld operating. Handheld shooting never went completely away and, in fact, most of the TV shows that I’ve worked on over the past five years were largely, and some exclusively, handheld or handheld mixed with some Steadicam for walking/follow shots. If a lot of TV and features are still being shot handheld, why have we seen such massive popularity in moving your camera with mechanical assistance over the past few years?
It’s really logical if you think about it. The Digital Revolution in production that began somewhere around the mid-1990s with Sony’s introduction of the DCR-VX1000 DV camcorder not only brought small size and weight with high-quality image acquisition to the forefront, but it also brought a whole new way of thinking about how and where you could mount a camera. The one place it was difficult to mount a camera as small and light as the DVX1000 was your shoulder.
Those of us who came from shooting Betacams, Digital Betacams and S16 film cameras were used to shooting cameras that were ergonomic masterpieces that weighed perhaps 10 to 25 pounds. Your shoulder, besides a tripod, dolly or original Steadicam, was really the only practical place to mount the camera when shooting handheld.
Shooting smooth but dynamic handheld footage is an art. The main ingredients besides skill and muscle control are weight, mass and inertia. Without going deep into a physics lesson, these characteristics made moving the camera smoother than a super small and lightweight camera like the VX1000.
While it was very small and light, camera operators soon discovered that it was tough to move a camera so small and lightweight smoothly unless it was mounted on a tripod or dolly. Its Handycam form factor couldn’t be mounted on the shoulder very easily (remember, this was well before the days of the numerous build-out kits for shoulder mounting DSLRs and mirrorless cameras that we have in 2019); therefore, the easiest way to shoot handheld was by gripping the handgrip and/or carrying handle.
This resulted in fewer points of contact between the operator’s body and the camera, and the result was shakier, more jittery footage. It was easy to be smooth with the 25-pound shoulder-mounted Betacam but a lot more difficult with the new generation of small cameras.
Fast-forward to today and a lot of newer shooters seem to be waking up to the fact that for the most part, gimbals and Steadicam-like devices are, in a way, one-trick ponies. If you’ve used either, you quickly realize that your options for movement are actually pretty limited as far as speed, variety and options to move the camera in and out of confined spaces. The interesting thing about shooting handheld is that the variety of shots and ways you can move the camera are almost limitless—it all depends on your skills as a handheld operator and your preferences about how the camera should relate to your subject.
For me, personally, I have been shooting tripod, gimbal and with a motorized slider quite a bit over the past few years. It’s not that I quit shooting handheld; I’ve been shooting my own documentary film about two women athletes largely handheld but our clients have tended to want more tripod and gimbal shooting than handheld over the past few years. Makes sense—for interviews, they tend to favor one camera locked off with a second camera/angle on a slider. It’s a nice, safe, “polite” way to move the camera.
As I’ve moved back toward handheld shooting, though, I’ve been challenged by my choice of gear. My main camera has largely been the Canon C200, before that the C100 MKI and the C300, with occasional rentals of the Sony FS7, various RED cameras and occasionally an Arri Amira. Most of these cameras are either useful as a shoulder-mounted camera (Sony FS7 and Arri Amira) or have enough weight and heft to be useful as a handheld cradled camera (all of the Canons, the REDs).
Lately, I’ve been using the Fujifilm XT-3 more and more though. It’s the first mirrorless camera I’ve bought, thanks to its amazing image quality, color science, build quality and Fujinon XF lenses. It’s a great camera that packs a lot of value into its tiny size, weight and cost. I soon discovered though that it was a terrible handheld video camera. It’s too small, light and has very little mass or inertial motion. I have used the XT-3 quite a bit on our Zhiyun Crane 2 where it works very well as a gimbal camera.
When I’d try to use the XT-3 handheld, though, the footage was less than professional looking, no matter how fluidly I tried to hold the camera and move it through space. I’d see something known as micro jitter in the image. Micro jitter is a term that refers to the small, shaky movement of a handheld camera; it’s very fatiguing to watch and makes the footage look very unprofessional. Even when utilizing an optically stabilized lens (Fuji calls this feature OIS), I was still seeing some jitter and undesired movement no matter how steady I’d try to hold my camera.
I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to add some weight, mass and inertia to my XT-3 rig in order to tame the Micro jitter and smooth out the movement. Fortunately, there are numerous companies that provide all kinds of camera support options. One of my favorites is a Chinese company called Small Rig. They’re available at plenty of pro video retailers but are also sold on Amazon.com. Their products are very good quality but sell for a fraction of the cost that most other pro video accessory companies charge.
Here are some images of my Fujifilm XT-3 rigged up for handheld camera use. The stock Fujifilm XT-3 weighs only 1.19 pounds with battery and SD card, with the lens adding perhaps a pound or two more, depending on which lens is used. After rigging up my XT-3 with the optional Fujifilm VG-XT3 battery grip, the Small Rig 2229 cage, 2156 Cable Clamp, 1984 Top Handle, 2093 Rosewood Side Handle, mounting a Røde Video Mic, an Atomos Shinobi monitor mounted to the cage with a Cinevate ¼” 20 to ¼” 20 ball mount, the entire rig weighs a little over 6 pounds.
The additional functionality of adding two more Fujifilm camera batteries via the battery grip has tripled the battery life. I can now monitor the image with the Shinobi monitor to see what I’m shooting and if it’s in focus and exposed correctly via the waveform monitor function, as well as applying a LUT to the footage. The Røde Video Mic makes ambient sound gathering easy. The Fujifilm isn’t the perfect shoulder-mounted ergonomic dream camera, but with the addition of the camera rig and the additional functionality, I’m now shooting better handheld footage than I ever could with just the bare camera and a lens.
Handheld camera movement can bring immediacy to the movement that other methods simply can’t. The whole rig, even with the additions, is still much smaller and lighter than a gimbal package or motored slider. It’s kind of amazing that just a few hundred dollars of accessories have turned my small mirrorless camera into a fully capable pro-level handheld rig.
Obviously, because I’m an editor, this final post on NAB has to be about editing. But, first, I want to mention something about a device from Tiffen that helps solve z-axis bouncing on stabilizers.
I’ve cut a lot of material from apparent first-time users of single-handed gimbals like the DJI Ronin-S. If the camera operator isn’t walking properly, the footage has a real bounce to it. And because the camera moves vertically and changes perspective, it can be almost impossible to stabilize it without distorting the footage. The Tiffen Steadicam Steadimate-S attaches to the gimbal to minimize this problem.
Okay, now on to editing.
Since the new MacPro is still a mystery, if you’re a Mac user, adding performance to your workstation has been pretty limited. At this year’s NAB, Adobe and Sonnet announced support of external GPUs (graphic processing units) via Thunderbolt on the Mac.
Sonnet showed the eGFX Breakaway Box for desktop use. It comes in different models depending on the power requirements of the GPU you install. There’s also the eGFX Breakaway Puck for portable situations. The Breakaway Puck comes in two different models with the GPU already installed.
The demo I saw showed a MacBook Pro exporting an h.264 file from a Premiere Pro sequence with 4K footage and multiple effects. Normally the export took 48 minutes; with the eGPU it was 14 minutes. It was impressive.
Speaking of Premiere Pro, Adobe announced several improvements to their Creative Cloud applications. For After Effects, they showcased their Content-Aware Fill. Like a similar feature introduced in Photoshop years ago, this new feature allows you to replace unwanted elements—like signs or people—in a shot.
In Premier Pro, they showed off a new style of project bin that they call the Free Form project panel. This work area allows you to rearrange clips into a storyboard, change individual clip sizes to indicate key shots and mark in and out points. Then, you can drag that storyboard into a sequence and start editing.
Trying to figure out new ways of working with clips seemed to be a theme, as Blackmagic Design also showed a new Cut Page in their DaVinci Resolve 16 software—now in beta. The Cut Page allows you to quickly import shots and create a first cut. The interface is pared down, giving you just the tools you need, yet still allowing you to switch to the regular edit interface.
One Cut Page feature that was impressive for me was the dual timeline. It gives you access to the entire length of a timeline while being zoomed in and trimming shots. A real time saver. It also gives you the ability to move shots quickly to another time even if it is far away from the section of the show you’re working on.
And then there was the DaVinci Resolve Editor Keyboard pictured at the top of this article. It brings a jog/shuttle knob back to editing. I tried it a little on the show floor but not enough to see how it will affect a full day of editing. I hope to try it soon (available in August).
When I was at the Blackmagic Design press conference at the start of NAB, I saw a sign on the booth about an edit keyboard. It must have been created well before the show because as I recall it mentioned softkeys and a trackball(s).
If you couple a color grading trackball and ring with programmable softkeys and a motorized fader or two (to add audio automation while playing your sequence) that would be something. Maybe NAB 2020?
I evaluated the Gemini 2×1 last year, and I’m a big fan of the light. But relative size, weight (50 pounds, when you factor in the weight of its heavy-duty shipping case) and price ($3,200 each) held me back from buying it.
But those factors aside, I’d be very happy owning the Gemini 2×1 as my primary key source.
To recap, the Gemini 2×1 is sometimes compared to the Arri S60-C Skypanel, another 2×1 LED panel that has gained a good foothold in the feature- and episodic-film markets. The main difference is price: The Arri panel costs $5,850 while the Gemini 2×1 retails for around $3,200.
The Gemini 2×1 does have a little less output than the Arri, but overall it has very competitive features.
But for this review, I’ll be testing Litepanels’ newest LED panel, the Gemini 1×1.
After I unpacked the 1×1, I had several questions after examining it: Was the Litepanels Gemini 1×1 an exact replica of the 2×1 in a smaller package? What would it retail for? (At press time, Litepanels hadn’t provided the price.) Why a 1×1 version of the Gemini when Litepanels already has the Astra Soft 3X and 6X versions on the market that put out plenty of nice-quality light in a 1×1 package?
To begin to answer these questions, I compared the 1×1 to the Gemini 2×1. Two conspicuous features found on the Gemini 2×1 were its extraordinary output and the quality of the light itself. (However, I should note that the LED panels I regularly use in my work are smaller and have considerably less output, although enough to do some useful things like act as a fill source on moderately sunny although not “nuclear” sunny exteriors.) After unpacking the Gemini 1×1 and mounting it on a Matthews Beefy Baby light stand, I took a close look at the light.
If you’re familiar with Gemini’s 2×1, most of what’s on the 1×1 will seem pretty familiar, such as the same row of user buttons with six factory presets and six user presets. It also has a similar LED control/menu display, with three control knobs found on the Gemini 2×1.
The top of the light features a folding antenna and a small rubber cover with the abbreviation “comm” on it (The comms socket will accept Bluetooth or wireless DMX modules), RJ-45 i/o plugs, two five-pin XLR DMX i/o ports and a USB A jack with a small, rubber cover. The three control knobs on the bottom of the panel are angled to the back panel of the light so that they can be easily accessed when the light is both high on a light stand or down at normal, eye or chest level.
The three control knobs are labeled, from left to right: “Menu – push_,” “CCT” and “Dim.” The light’s power switch is to the right of the “Dim” knob and features a small status light to let you see that the light is receiving power when used in dark situations or when the light is high up on a stand or grid.
Here are the technical specs for the Litepanels Gemini 1×1:
Unlike the 2×1, this 1×1 has an external power supply that’s cleverly mounted on the light’s yolk. A hard-wired 18-inch-long, three-pin XLR exits the power supply and is plugged into a corresponding XLR input on the side of the light body.
But to be honest, one thing I found most appealing about the Gemini 2×1 was that unlike most other LED panels, on the 2×1, you plug an AC cable into a socket and the other end of the cable terminates in a PowerCon connector that plugs straight into the body of the light.
The other LED panels that I own and rent seem to mostly have external power supplies, which I find to be a nuisance, especially if you have plugged in the light, turned it on and then want to reposition it. Often, the AC cable goes from the wall to an external power supply that sits on the ground, then a DC breakout cable connects the external power supply to a control box, then yet another cable connects the control panel to the light body. This all takes extra time to set up and move and is generally a messy nightmare with a lot of clutter.
I was sad to see that the Litepanels Gemini 1×1 had lost the PowerCon connector and the ability to daisy-chain power from instrument to instrument like the Gemini 2×1 is capable of. In its place, the 1×1 has a short IEC cable that extends a few inches from the power supply and terminates in a male connector.
The light comes with an extension cable that goes from the AC receptacle to the 1×1 power supply’s IEC male plug. This means that it’s held in place merely by friction and will often be hanging down, although you could use a cable wrap to wrap the short AC power cable from the power supply to the light’s yolk.
What this means is that on a working set, it will be fairly easy to step on, kick or snag the 1×1’s AC cable and cut power to the light. I have mixed feelings about this setup because I like that the power supply is attached to the yolk (if we have to have an external power supply!) and not flopping around on the ground. I just wish that the 1×1 had an internal power supply like its 2×1 brother does.
Litepanels told me that an IEC-to-PowerCon adapter, as well as a PowerCon version of the power supply unit, are also planned for future release, which means that some of the potential misgivings I have about the cable’s connection to the power supply may be mitigated in this future update. The IEC cable is functional, just not ideal for video production.
After examining the rest of the 1×1, I plugged it in and turned it on. Functionally, it appears to operate in pretty much the same way that the Gemini 2×1 does. The menus and the way that the controls function are intuitive and straightforward.
The output of this unit is very impressive. Unfortunately, at press time the independently tested lab results on output weren’t yet available, but in comparison to a borrowed Astra 6X, the Gemini seemed to have at least twice the output, possibly more.
I noticed that the 1×1 has a fan, similar in size and appearance to the one on the Gemini 2×1. It rotates relative to the light’s output level, but I have to say, I fired up the light to 100 percent output in my small office and I couldn’t hear the fan once I was about a foot away from the light.
If LEDs have to have fans, at least fans like this won’t make your sound mixer’s life too difficult.
I asked Litepanels what the antenna and the comm port were for, as the unit I reviewed was a working prototype and didn’t arrive with an owner’s manual.
The company said that an antenna and a WiFi chipset are built into the Gemini for future functionality and that software/firmware updates will come later (current estimate is end of 2019) to enable this functionality.
As far as the comm port, the reply was that the port is a communications port that can receive either a Bluetooth dongle or a wireless DMX (Lumen Radio) dongle. A free Bluetooth app can be used with the optional Bluetooth dongle. The wireless DMX dongle can be used with any Lumen Radio-compatible transmitter DMX system.
As far as other features and accessories, Litepanels will be offering cases, diffusers, Snapbags and Snapgrids, and, most interestingly, it will provide a dual battery and a single battery bracket, so you’ll be able to run the Gemini 1×1 from battery to be very portable.
Litepanels told me that the Gemini 1×1 will operate with either one or two 14.4V batteries. Both dual-battery and single-battery brackets will also be available at the end of April when the Gemini 1×1 starts shipping.
The fixture is 200 watts and requires 10 amps from a battery to operate at full power. Anton Bauer (either V or AB mount) batteries of 90, 150 or 190 all power the light. Early testing is that you will get approximately 45 minutes from a 150Wh battery. So you’ll need a lot of batteries for long shoots, but that’s to be expected with a light this powerful.
I’ve been shooting a feature documentary over the past two years where I key the talent using one of my LED panels (Aputure Lightstorm LS 1s) through a medium (36” x 48”) Chimera Quartz Pro light bank.
I also use a 40-degree egg crate on the Chimera to keep my key light off of the 8X8 green screen—and as you probably know, using an egg crate reduces perceived output, too.
The LS 1s is right on the edge of outputting enough light to use in this situation. It works well, but only in a dark room. If I were competing with ambient light, the Aputure wouldn’t have enough output for this situation.
Unlike a lot of green-screen interviews I have shot, where the director usually wants a medium or MCU head and shoulders shot of the interview subject, this project’s director wants to frame the interviews in a wider frame, from the waist up, so there’s plenty of room around the talent for some sweet motion graphics.
To frame the shot wider means I need to move the key source further away from the talent to keep it out of frame. This requires all of the light I can provide to give me enough exposure. I decided to use the Gemini 1×1 as my key source, and both my gaffer and I were impressed with the output. I normally use the Lightstorm at 100 percent output in this setup. With the Gemini 1×1, I only had to use the light at 40 percent output to achieve the same exposure, which is impressive.
Besides the green-screen interviews, I utilized the Gemini 1×1 as a key and a background color-wash source on several other types of shoots, including some scenes with actors in a well-lit office with huge windows. The 1×1’s power came in handy in competing with the sunlight coming through the windows as a fill source. Overall, I was impressed with the Gemini 1×1 So much so that it somewhat redefines what a 1×1 LED panel is capable of.
But the Gemini 1×1 isn’t a perfect light. I feel that the yolk tie down, which is plastic with a rubber/fiber washer, is inadequate for this level and price point of instrument. It means that only small Snapbags and Snapgrids will be able to be mounted and held in place at any angle needed. I don’t think you’ll be able to use small or medium Chimeras or other larger/heavier light modifiers.
But this is a minor complaint. Overall, the quality and the amount of light the 1×1 outputs and the feature set it offers is very flexible and astounding for its size. It’s a light well worth trying out for yourself.
New Product—DJI Osmo Action Camera: Although many consider the name “GoPro” synonymous with the term “Action Cam,” many other brands have been making inroads into this market. This week, DJI, a company known for making drones and drone-related products, announced its new DJI Osmo Action Camera, which will cost $349 and is available now at the DJI’s online store, store.dji.com. It will also be available at authorized dealers on May 22.
One of the key points DJI is promoting is the fact that they have a strong “heritage of advanced image stabilization” and that the new action cam would use “DJI’s unparalleled experience with capturing smooth and stable videos in the most demanding environments.” Like many action cams, DJI says the new model will also be rugged.
Here are some key features:
For more information on the new Osmo Action, visit dji.com/osmo-action.
Contest & Test Drive Program: Earlier this week, Nikon launched a new contest: “Follow Your Passion” video contest, which gives filmmakers and content creators the chance to submit 3- to 5-minute short films captured on its Nikon Z-series mirrorless cameras. The new contest has great prizes for the winners:
The deadline for submissions is Saturday, August 31, 2019. For contest details and to enter, visit followyourpassion.com.
Nikon is also making it easier for those who don’t own a Nikon Z series mirrorless camera to get their hands on one by offering a “Test Drive” program: According to the company, “this Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s Kit rental program, available at approximately 138 retailer locations nationwide, will provide more creators with the opportunity to experience first-hand what the Nikon Z series is capable of.” Rental fees are up to $99.95 for three days or up to $149.95 for one week. To find a retailer near you or for additional details, visit www.nikonusa.com/ztestdrive.
Film Festival: The Cannes Film Festival kicked off events for its 72nd edition earlier this week and will run through May 25. The festival will include a wide array of events and competitions, as in past years. One welcome change, though, has been the buzz over the reboot of the movie “Cliffhanger,” which originally featured Sylvester Stallone. According to Variety, the new film will include a female director and “boast a strong female lead and key female creative talent.”
Trade Show & Expo: Cine Gear Expo 2019, which will take place in Los Angeles from May 30-June 2, is the premier annual event for film and video professionals in the technology, entertainment and media industry. The show will include 300 exhibits, new product and services introductions and seminars led by industry leaders, master classes, a film competition, an awards ceremony and special screenings in state of the art theaters. For more, go to cinegearexpo.com
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On May 15, Nikon kicked off the “Follow Your Passion” video contest, which invites filmmakers and content creators in the United States to submit 3- to 5-minute short films that were shot using a Nikon Z series mirrorless camera.
Great prizes are up for grabs for the first, second and third place winners. First and second place winners will receive $25,000 and $10,000, respectively. And all three winners will receive a Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s Kit worth approximately $4,000.
The deadline for submissions is Saturday, August 31, 2019. For contest details and to enter, visit www.followyourpassion.com.
Don’t own a Nikon Z series mirrorless camera? The company’s “Test Drive” Program allows consumers to rent a Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s Kit from approximately 138 retailers nationwide. Rental fees are up to $99.95 for three days or up to $149.95 for one week. To find a retailer near you, visit www.nikonusa.com/ztestdrive.
Read the press release below for more details.
NIKON VIDEO CONTEST CHALLENGES CREATORS TO “FOLLOW YOUR PASSION” FOR A CHANCE TO WIN $25,000 AND A NIKON Z 6 FILMMAKER’S KIT
The Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s Kit “Test Drive” Rental Program Provides the Opportunity to Create Your Own Contest Entry and Discover Why Everyone is Talking About the Incredibly Capable Z 6
MELVILLE, NY (May 15, 2019) – Today, Nikon Inc. announced the “Follow Your Passion” video contest, which encourages content creators across the United States to capture their passion using a Nikon Z series mirrorless camera. Entrants can submit a short film for a chance to win a Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s Kit and up to $25,000 in prize money.
To enter, users are invited to submit a video project from 3 to 5 minutes in length, captured with a Nikon Z 6 or Z 7, showcasing their passion through filmmaking. Interested participants can submit videos starting on Wednesday, May 15 through Saturday, August 31, 2019.
Nikon is also giving users the chance to discover why the Nikon Z series is a new star in small-footprint productions with the Nikon “Test Drive” Program. This Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s Kit rental program, available at approximately 138 retailer locations nationwide, will provide more creators with the opportunity to experience first-hand what the Nikon Z series is capable of. Through this program, consumers can rent a Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s Kit from a participating retailer for up to $99.95* for three days or up to $149.95* for one-week. This program offers an extremely cost-effective way for consumers to capture their contest submission, or simply to explore their passion for filmmaking. Additional information, including a list of participating retailers can be found at www.nikonusa.com/ztestdrive.
“Whether you’re a seasoned filmmaker, an aspiring creator, or a stills shooter eager to explore the world of video, this is the contest that will give you a chance to follow your passion, share it with the world and potentially be rewarded for your work,” said Jay Vannatter, Executive Vice President, Nikon Inc. “The Nikon Z series offers an extensive video feature set that opens up a world of possibilities for filmmakers; and with the Test Drive program, Nikon makes it easy to explore those possibilities.”
The first, second and third place winners of the Nikon “Follow Your Passion” Z series video contest will each receive a Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s Kit worth approximately $4,000. Additionally, the first and second place winners will take home $25,000 and $10,000 in prize money, respectively.
Full contest details, including rules, can be found by visiting www.followyourpassion.com.
The Nikon Z for Video Capture:
The versatile Nikon Z 7 and Z 6 full-frame mirrorless cameras are ideal for content creators who are serious about filmmaking. Both Z series cameras capture full-frame 4K Ultra HD video and come equipped with fast hybrid AF systems, 5-axis in-body image stabilization and Nikon-designed FX-format BSI CMOS image sensors that deliver outstanding image quality and powerful video performance. These cameras also offer advanced features for videographers, including focus peaking, time-code, 10-bit output with N-Log via HDMI, along with stellar sharpness, low-light ability and dynamic range.
The Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s Kit pairs the powerfully cinematic Z 6 with a NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens, Mount Adapter FTZ, MOZA Air 2 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer, RODE VideoMic Pro+ Microphone, Atomos Ninja V 4K Recording Monitor and more, allowing users to unlock the camera’s full video potential.
For more information on the latest Nikon equipment, including the Nikon Z series and Nikon Z 6 Filmmaker’s Kit, please visit www.nikonusa.com.
This continues my recap of my tour through the aisles of NAB. An important topic is where to put all those pixels. 4K, 8K and raw all demand more room. And, critically, they demand better performance.
One way to get more performance from storage is to move from spinning drives to solid state memory. At the Lexar booth, they showed a portable SSD with a capacity of up to 1 TB and a possible 900 MB/s write speed. That’s about 5 to 6 times the speed of an average single spinning disk drive.
For even more speed, I stopped at the G-Technology booth. They showed their G-Drive mobile Pro SSD. This unit takes the possible write speed to 2800MB/s.
You might wonder why I’d consider storage like this in an edit suite. With a maximum capacity of 2 TB in their largest model, it doesn’t hold that much. (These days 2 TB isn’t much.) Obviously, it will work screamingly fast for small projects, but it’s also a great tool as a cache drive.
When you set up your edit software, you’re often asked to point to a drive that the software can use for caching—offloading data out of memory. You might also have to select a scratch drive for generating previews. Pointing to a very fast drive can make your edit experience much better—less waiting for the software to process data. These drives don’t have to be that big because the data stored is temporary, and the space is usually managed by the software.
All SSDs aren’t created equally though. Engineers have developed Non-Volatile Memory Express—or NVMe—a new way of using solid state in drives. Instead of the traditional drive control (position the drive head, write or read the data, seek a new position), we now have SSDs that are treated more like RAM. There’s no head to reposition, just a location to read and write to.
OWC uses NVMe in its ThunderBlade drive. Comprising 4 NVMe modules in the chassis, it can achieve read speeds up to 2800 MB/s and writes at 2450 MB/s. It’s via Thunderbolt 3 with up to 8 TB of capacity.
Finally, there’s shared storage using Network Attached Storage (NAS). Once relegated to complex and expensive Storage Area Networks (SANs), NAS was prevalent at NAB.
Qnap showed their NAS products. Using 10-gigabit Ethernet (10GbE), which can run on copper, the multi-drive connected storage can deliver terabytes of 4K footage to multiple users. In a future post, I’ll talk more about how NAS has become more affordable.
Next time, I’ll cap my recap of NAB with a little bit about advances in edit software.
The Fujifilm X-T3 paired with the FUJINON XF16mmF1.4 WR lens.
There have been specific mirrorless cameras that have become popular with DPs and cinematographers shooting on various projects, particularly films that have limited budgets. Sony’s a7R III and Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 and GH5S are among the most notable. But some, like me, have found that Fujifilm’s X-T3 mirrorless camera might be a better fit. Here’s why.
The Sony a7R III and the Panasonic Lumix GH5 and GH5S have helped make mirrorless cameras popular over the past few years. Since 2018, we’ve seen many mirrorless camera releases. And at this point, the demand for mirrorless cameras is up and many professionals both want and need a smaller, lighter camera system that can pull double duty as an occasional still camera while shooting high-quality 4K video.
My production company owns the Canon EOS Cinema C200, although we also rent whatever camera best suits the needs of a production. For example, over the past year, we’ve rented the Sony FS7 Mark II, Arri Alexa Mini and various models of RED cameras. It’s all driven by what works best for the production.
As a companion camera, we’ve been shooting with the Canon EOS 80D as a B-angle/gimbal camera. For our needs, we’ve found the 80D has been a good companion camera, which we’ve often utilized for shooting BTS production stills as well as footage.
As the market has driven toward 4K resolution video, we’ve been looking for the right mirrorless camera to replace the 80D as a B camera and as an on-gimbal.
I’ve used the Panasonic GH5 several times, and I reviewed the GH5S for HDVideoPro last year. Both cameras impressed me. I found the in-camera image stabilization (or IBIS) in the GH5 works very well. And although the GH5S lacks IBIS, the low-light performance from the Micro Four Thirds image sensor is impressive.
We’ve also shot with the Sony a7 II several times. The camera is amazing in low light. However, unfortunately, it tends to overheat and shut down when shooting long 4K clips. Plus, I’m not a fan of using Sony’s color science and using video clips straight out of the camera: It requires a lot of tweaking in post to get a look I like. I also find Sony’s menu system arcane. So that particular Sony a7 variant wasn’t high on our list.
This past fall, I began to take notice of the latest Fujifilm mirrorless camera, the X-T3, which I bought at the end of 2018.
One of the most appealing features was Fujifilm’s outstanding on-camera film-simulation filters. In the past, I was always a fan of the interesting looks that I could obtain with various Fujifilm stocks, both with stills and with motion-picture film. On this camera, besides the normal palette of eight Fuji film simulation filters, Fuji added a new simulation called Eterna that’s geared more toward video capture than some of the other filters. It reminds me of the WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) setting on my C200 that’s good enough to use straight out of camera but responds well to a simple color correction, too.
There are those times when you have to just shoot footage and download it to a drive for the client on set. At times, on tight deadlines, your footage may or may not be color corrected, graded or have a LUT applied. For those times, there’s value in the X-T3’s film simulations: They all look quite nice and can be used to shoot in a variety of styles that can be used straight from the camera with no grading or color correction.
This is a good option for clients who work on tight deadlines and simply don’t have the time to color correct and grade the footage before uploading to social media channels or internal websites.
At this point, the X-T3 has been on the market for some time. That means you’ll be able to find numerous articles, reviews and YouTube videos that go into the minute detail of every spec that the camera has.
Rather than utilizing the limited space I have to write about the X-T3 to list the deep and comprehensive list of features and specs that you can easily read about or watch elsewhere, I’ve simply listed the X-T3 features that set it apart from the pack for me:
The day I bought my X-T3, I put it to work the following day (a somewhat foolish but necessary task, since our Canon 80D was being used for stills). I put it on our gimbal for this shoot and shot in 4K. After quickly going through the X-T3’s box and manual, I found the settings and menu system to be fairly intuitive.
For my first shoot with the X-T3, I mounted it onto a Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal. During the shoot, I was able to keep my subjects well framed, correctly exposed and in focus, thanks to the clarity of the X-T3’s LED screen.
I used internal zebras and a histogram since the X-T3 lacks a waveform display. But the zebras with the histogram made exposing correctly easy.
The X-T3’s face-and-eye detection locked onto subjects fairly quickly. However, like Canon’s Dual Pixel AF system, the X-T3 loses tracking if the subject turns away from the lens into profile or if the subject is wearing glasses or a hat. This isn’t unique to Fuji: Most AF camera systems have a hard time with these challenges.
For my next shoot, I used the X-T3 for a series of interviews shot at an automotive facility with some technicians. I used the Canon C200 as my A camera, with the X-T3 mounted on our Rhino EVO Motion Control system.
On the A camera, I utilized a 35mm focal length as a wider frame showing the subject and a car behind them, while the X-T3 captured a medium close-up moving shot on the slider. I used a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 USM attached to the X-T3 with the Fringer EF to X-Mount adapter. This adapter is very useful as it allows Fuji shooters to utilize most EF and EF S Canon lenses on the Fuji X-Mount with IS, aperture control and autofocus intact. The X-T3’s face detection functioned flawlessly using the adapter and Canon lens.
The still frame caps here are straight from the camera with no color correction or any sort of grade applied. The results speak for themselves.
Upon returning to our office and downloading the footage I shot using the Eterna simulation, I found the colors were accurate and the skin tones looked excellent.
I was struck by the sharpness and detail present in the footage. They almost have a three-dimensional appearance that’s appealing, although to be fair, the Eterna Profile is a baked-in look that isn’t exactly neutral, like a log profile.
If you want to craft your own distinct look with the X-T3, it’s probably best to shoot with the X-T3’s log setting, known as Fuji Log or F-Log. You can then apply any of three Fuji-supplied LUTs (one of them is Eterna) in editing or apply other creative LUTs afterward. I found that the using F-Log, the camera seems to have between 12 and 13 stops of dynamic range, not as much DR as our C200, which is rated at up to 13 stops when shooting XF-AVC/.MP4 and up to 15 stops when shooting Cinema RAW Light.
But for a relatively low-cost mirrorless camera, an honest 12 to 13 stops of DR is quite good.
If you examine the specs, you may notice the X-T3 lacks some important features found on other mirrorless models. However, it has impressed me after shooting with it on half a dozen client shoots over the past three months. So here’s my take on the camera:
New Comedy: “Poms” With Diane Keaton: Although Hollywood doesn’t have a great history in being an inclusive environment for older women, it seems there are some changes currently taking place in the system. In fact, a new comedy, “Poms,” which opened Friday, May 10, just in time for Mother’s Day, is an example of a movie that seems to be keeping the momentum of this evolutionary change going. But more than that, it’s a beautifully shot, iconoclastic comedy that’s not afraid to take on life’s biggest themes, which is what makes it so engaging. The movie stars an all-star female-powered cast, including Diane Keaton, Jackie Weaver, Rhea Perlman and Pam Grier, and is directed by British documentary filmmaker Zara Hayes, who did such a remarkable job at balancing lighthearted, comedic moments with scenes dealing with sickness, dying and death. In many ways, Hayes said she relied on her experience in creating documentaries in order to strike that balance. What’s even more remarkable is that it happens to be Hayes’ first narrative film. For more on the film, see pomsmovie.com.
Workshop For Documentary Video & Multimedia: If you’re in New York at the end of May and are interested in getting a quick overview of documentary video and multimedia storytelling approaches, check out MediaStorm’s One Day Master Class, which takes place Saturday, May 25 in Brooklyn, NY. The workshop is one of several classes run by Brian Storm, who is the founder and executive producer of MediaStorm, which publishes a wide array of multimedia projects that combine documentary filmmaking, photojournalism and multimedia. For the May 25 class, students will learn about narrative storytelling, reporting approaches, teamwork and even business models, such as how to collaborate with clients, syndication models and distribution of projects across various platforms. It’s not a hands-on workshop, but students will engage in active discussions on theory and real-world examples using MediaStorm’s award winning work. Tuition for the one-day class is $500. For more on the class, go to Mediastorm.com.
New Canon Prime Lens For Full-Frame Mirrorless System: Canon has just announced a new mid-range telephoto prime RF-series lens for its EOS R Full-Frame mirrorless camera system: The RF 85mm F1.2 L USM. Canon says that it’s the first RF lens to feature Blue Spectrum Refractive (BR) optics, which the company claims will greatly reduce chromatic aberration. The lens will also have a minimum focusing distance of 2.79 feet, comes with a customizable control ring, includes one aspheric and one UD lens, an L-Series dust-and-weather-resistant build with fluorine coating and an Air Sphere Coating (ASC) to minimize lens flare and ghosting. The lens will be available in June for $2699. For more, go to usa.canon.com
Cutting-Edge Imaging Tech Summit: The LDV Vision Summit, which takes place in New York City on May 22 and May 23, is an annual conference that showcases inventive digital-imaging and video startups that are working in a wide spectrum of industries, from healthcare to publishing to automotive to fashion, and more. The summit is also ideal for those who are looking for potential investors and partners. Plus, there’s a competition for best startups. According to the conference’s website, creatives who should attend include imaging and video startups professionals interested in meeting investors, customers, recruiting and potential partners, as well as photographers, videographers and anyone creating content. For more, go to ldv.co/visionsummit
Film Festival Deadlines: If you’re looking to enter film competitions, here are some notable ones, which have deadlines that end in May 2019. So, if you’re looking to submit, check these festivals:
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If you live in a state that requires collection of sales tax on internet orders, B&H Photo has launched a new credit card that will credit your purchase for the amount of the tax.
The official press release describes the process: “The Payboo Card delivers instant, immediate savings to B&H customers. For example, when a customer in Los Angeles buys a $3,000 camera, 9.5% sales tax, or $285, is added to the cost for a total of $3,285. However, if the same customer purchases the camera from B&H using the Payboo Card, a $285 reward is instantly applied to the order, and only $3,000 is charged to the card! The savings are instant – no future credits, points to accrue, or coupons to worry about. The customer is only subject to usual credit approval.”
Available to customers with a U.S. billing address and SSN or ITIN, the first step is to apply for the card, issued by Synchrony Bank. The card has no annual fee but carries a relatively high APR of 29.99%, so to get the optimal benefit of the card, you’ll want to have cash on-hand to pay off your balance immediately.
The card can be used for B&H purchases only. Perhaps stating the obvious, the offer isn’t valid in states that don’t require the collection of sales tax on internet purchases, and some states that do require sales tax collection do not permit the benefit as described. The Payboo FAQ page provides a link to check your benefit based on your shipping zip code, so be sure to verify the benefits for which you are eligible before applying.
For additional details, see the Payboo FAQ page.
Making a film is almost always a group effort, which in many cases can work to your advantage, particularly in complex Sci-Fi or Fantasy productions that require many different teams with very different and specific skill sets. On some of these projects it seems there is truly strength in numbers when you have a cast of thousands—even tens of thousands—providing you with the essential manpower to produce a make-believe world conjured up by the director and producers that is perfect, seamless, magical and free of any outside references to the real world.
Except when that doesn’t happen.
For example, say a mistake has been made: Someone leaves their cup of coffee on the set, and it gets left in the show during the filming, isn’t discovered and remains in the footage all the way through to the final cut. Which is exactly what happened during the most recent episode of the “Game of Thrones” saga on HBO, which the New York Times points out, is “one of the most expensive and elaborately produced television shows ever.”
Yet, all that money and manpower couldn’t keep the “Game of Thrones” fans from overlooking a Starbucks coffee cup—perhaps a tasty Starbucks Blonde Caffè Americano–that had been accidentally left on the table during the beginning of a celebration scene in Winterfell, the home of House Stark.
Well, I wonder if the fans might still have noticed if it was a pricey cup of Starbucks Caramel Ribbon Crunch Crème Frappuccino or Starbucks Double Chocolaty Chip Crème Frappuccino Blended Crème. Nevertheless, the alien cup appeared and its presence visually confounded fans who were only expecting mugs, goblets and horns to hold their characters’ beverages.
But how might the filmmakers have avoided this problem…aside from decreeing that all branded and non-branded coffee drinks were now forbidden on the set?
Well, according to Adobe, if the GoT episode had been made today, the post-production editors could have used the new content aware fill in Adobe After Effects to get rid of the drink, whether it was a Starbucks Cinnamon Cloud Macchiato or Starbucks Blonde Vanilla Bean Coconutmilk Latte. It wouldn’t matter which drink it was! Even if it was the largest Strawberry Frappuccino Blended Crème drink sitting upon the Iron Throne!
Using the content aware fill should allow the post editors to remove it from the footage. In fact, Jason Levine, a principal worldwide evangelist for Adobe, was able to make the cup disappear using Content-Aware Fill for this video, which he posted on Twitter.
Of course, if you wanted to see the video now, you won’t be able to see it on HBO. They’ve just edited the coffee cup out of the scene, roughly two days after the episode first aired! So, perhaps, after all, they did use Adobe’s new content-aware fill to correct the footage. For more on this feature, check out this youtube video from Adobe …which, in case you were wondering, features no obvious mentions or depictions of Starbucks beverages.
The post Avoiding A Comedy of Errors In Your Own “Game of Thrones” Production appeared first on HD Video Pro.
While it’s great to see trends in production and display, as an editor I’m driven to several things at NAB. One of them is storage. As cameras capture more and more pixels, where are we going to put them?
For storage on location, I saw displays of camera cards. CFast, an evolutionary step from the original Compact Flash card, is being used by more and more camera manufacturers. And now the cards are storing half a terabyte.
A more recent update in the CF family is CF Express. While CFast is designed to operate like a drive, CF Express works more like RAM so it can achieve faster speeds. Faster speeds are important: As cameras increase in resolution, they have to write more pixels per frame. And the frame rates aren’t slowing down! A card that used to handle writing 2,000 pixels per 1/24 of a second might not be able to reliably handle 4,000 or 8,000 pixels in the same amount of time.
Beyond camera cards, getting the footage from production to post requires storage with different requirements. One essential element is ruggedness. At NAB, G-technology showed off their ArmorATD.
As I work on projects, I’m surprised how often I receive drives delivered by people who aren’t part of the production team. Couriers, etc., may not see the need to treat delivery of a drive any differently than a box of staples. The ArmorATD can survive the crushing weight of half a ton.
Next time, drives for the edit suite on the NAB floor.
Adobe had angered many content creators yesterday when they learned the company had seemingly changed its cloud pricing plan by eliminating the $9.99 per month option so that the cheapest option photographers and content creators could select was now $19.99 per month, according to reports from Petapixel. Petapixel also notes that Adobe has offered this since 2013.
However, today, one day since the story broke, Adobe has added the $9.99 a month option back on its Creative Cloud plan page.
In effect, Adobe seemed to be doubling the monthly subscription fee it charges for the service, which includes Photoshop and Lightroom. Subscribers were understandably angry. On OutdoorPhotographer.com’s Facebook page, photographers voiced their anger. One photographer noted, “No way. When my yearly subscription is up for renewal in November, I am going to have to assess whether to stay on or not. Hope enough of us send them a very STRONG message that an increase is unacceptable.” Another simply commented, “I’ll be testing the cancellation of said plan.”
One positive takeaway from this story is that there is, in fact, power in numbers. It appears Adobe, like most technology companies, cares about how it’s perceived in the marketplace.
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