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Thursday
Jan072010

Where's YOUR money?

Have you been having  a hard time following what is going on in the financial world? Its not that hard to understand when you watch this simple 4 minute video. Its important to know what is going on. When put against the story of "Its a Wonderful Life" its a lot easier to understand.

You NEED to watch this... Let's support George Bailey!!

Wednesday
Jan062010

I want a 5DMK2... maybe?

Earlier today I got an email from a guy I haven't worked with for about 20 years. He was asking me about the Canon 5DMK2 and the Canon 7D and wanted to know my thoughts on them. Its a common and recurring question but most of the time it is a discussion that doesn't happen between guys with 25 years experience in the business.  Face it, the HDSLR 'craze', if you will, has been more commonly picked up by 'the kids'.  (Generalization I know...)

After spending a bunch of time on the email response to his question, I figured I should probably share it here. So, in no particular order, these are some major compromises you need to be willing to deal with if you are going to try to work with a HDSLR.

TRANSCODING

You DO realize you have to transcode the footage just to begin...

Since you tend to cut on Avid, if you are going to transcode, maybe you would prefer just transcoding to some Avid codec, (I owned an Avid for about 3 months in late 97, early 98 and got ride of it, HATED it. so I don't know any Avid tips at all) 

You DO NOT want to try to edit the H264 files right from the camera... it blows!!!

7D v 5DMK2

Also, you may prefer the 7D, you can shoot 24P NOW, (there may be a 24 FPS firmware update for the 5D soon, and if you want LONG lens options the 7D's cropped sensor gives every lens you own a 1.6 magnification right off the top, and you still get the fun DOF for the most part.

VIEW FINDER

Regardless of which camera you get you MUST buy the Zacuto Z-Finder...

One of the main problems with the Canon DSLR's is that they were never meant to be used as video cameras. When you put it in Live View, or video mode the eyepiece becomes non functional. This means that you need to use the LCD on the back of the body. This means that you need to hold the camera away from your body and it makes it nearly impossible to see if anything is in focus.

There are multiple companies that make loupes to view the back of the camera... I've tried a couple.. and the Z-Finder is the one you want. Its as simple as that.

Costy yes,  but once you look thru it you'll NEVER regret it the $400 bucks you spend on it.

AUDIO

And don't forget the Audio... both canon cameras have HORRIBLE audio subsystems. HORRIBLE, don't expect to use it for anything but a scratch track. you NEED to dual record on another device, think of it like going back 20 or 30 years and shooting film with a Nagra...

Many people are using the Zoom H4N...

The Zoom H4N is a great little gizmo,  300 bucks and has a ton of features including onboard compression and the ability to record 4 tracks at once, 2 on the built in stereo mics and two XLR inputs, (BIG drawback, ONE level adjustment shared for the two XLR inputs.

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So anyway, those were the notes that I shared with my friend, I hope it can be helpful to you too.

 

UPDATE: 100313

Neutral Density Filter

Another thing that is missing from the 5D MK2 and 7D is neutral density. Traditional video cameras usually have some sort of filter built in but not on the HDSLRs. You have to remember that in the photography world you can adjust the amount of light that hits the sensor with the shutter speed. If you are trying to create a filmic look you really can't or shouldn't be messing around with your shutter speed. Because of this you need to have some ND available. 

The Singh-Ray Vari-ND gives you from 2 to 8 stops of ND by just rotating the front ring and is vital if you want to control your DOF in the bright sunlight. 

Wednesday
Jan062010

Good Vibe - Beautiful Canon 7D Movie

Just found this piece on YouTube, great vibe, well cut, I enjoyed it, thought you might too. Reminds me of our vacation to LA this last summer.

Monday
Jan042010

Personal Work Timeline

The other night I was going thru old invoices from the 90's. I had to dig out an old Filemaker file to look something up and reading thru it was like going thru a journal or a diary. It was fun and I came across some interesting jobs and even if YOU don't want to read them, I'm putting here so I can have them all collected in one spot.

January 1986 - My First Live Television Broadcast 

I ran camera on a show called "Thoroughbred Review". Back in those days the 'high tech' graphics we did involved me taking apart a race form, using a heavy ball point pen and a straight edge to cross out the horses that didn't actually run, mounting these pages on a black art card with spraymat and then framing up and tilting down the list of horses as the director called for the move. Technology baby!!!

June 1992 - I Bought My First Hardware

One month before I got married in 1992 I bought my first hardware, a "souped up Video Toaster". I remember talking over the fear of the investment with my dad. I told him that I had one client that had told me that he would give me all his work if I bought this hardware.

My dad said, "How much work are you talking about?"

"One job a month."

"How much is that worth?"

"Probably no less then $500 a month."

Then he asked, "What is the lease payment on the hardware?"

"About $500 a month."

Then my dad said, "Why are we having this conversation?"

I went the next day and leased a $10,000 computer that from 1992 to 1997 basically printed a $20 every time I hit the Return Key... Needless to say, it was a good investment. 

Early 1995 - My First Tapeless Production

We had just purchased the Video Toaster Flyer and toyed with the idea of doing a job completely tapeless. We packed the Flyer up in road case and took it to the shoot. I remember that whole day giggling every time we called out "Roll Tape"... yea, we didn't have any tape but old habits are hard to break. Most of us STILL say roll tape even though we normally don't shoot on tape anymore at all.

May 1995 - My First Tapeless Playback to a Live Audience

We were supplying tape playback and director services at the Northern California Emmy Awards night. In addition to directing the live show Phil Azzopardi was floating around during the cocktail hour and pre-show shooting the 'festivities'. While I was directing the live show Doug Johnson, now at Fat Box in Redwood City, was cutting a highlights reel in an empty office about 50 feet down the hallway. An output from the edit system was ran down the hallway and showed up as a crosspoint on my switcher.

We were using Version .9 of the software and a few minutes before we had to roll the highlights reel to the audience Doug jumped on the com and told me, he couldn't determine how much pre-roll he needed to make the timeline play. After testing playback from the $3500 full height 9GB hard drives, Doug told me that the timeline would take anywhere between 10 seconds to a full 60 seconds before it actually started to play. What do you do? We went for it... at the time we HAD to have the timeline play we got lucky, it played quickly and the audience never knew what was going on.

January 1997 - First Firewire Edit

I had met a guy who was pretty high up at Adaptec. He was looking to tryout their first Firewire I/O card. The final feature set wasn't even decided yet. He brought me a PC (I know right??) and asked me to cut together a video about a trip thru the wine country on some train. My friend Phil Azzopardi had shot the footage.

When he asked what I thought of the process I told him that you couldn't really expect a video editor to work without seeing your work on an NTSC monitor. They hadn't thought anything of the downside to working ONLY in the Adobe Premiere canvas window. After my comments they reworked the firmware on the card so that if you kept the camera attached during the edit you could watch your work on a video monitor if you hooked it up to the camera, a work flow that became totally normal in the DV world.

This was 2 years before Apple released the Blue and White G3 Macs with Firewire.

July 1998 - My first 16x9 Animation

No big deal really but the first time I produced anything in 16x9 it was an animation that I did in a piece for Intel. I had done the whole piece in 4x3, it was totally finished when they told me... "oh by the way, this needs to be 16x9. Is that a problem?" I remember thinking how cool it was that I was able to change the canvas size in After Effects, re-position a few keyframes and be done with it.

Monday
Jan042010

Tutorial - Find your files... Disk Tracker

This is a great app that allows you to find files on drives that have been unmounted. I use to keep track of TONS of drives and it allows me to search for files or browse the contents even if the drive is sitting on a shelf back at home.