Archive for January, 2006

We reported on a 4 camera HD-res shootout 2 weeks ago. The comparisons were between the Canon XL H1, JVC GY-HD100U, Panasonic AG-HVX200 and the Sony HVR-Z1U. They also shot with the Panasonic HDC27F Varicam and the Sony HDW-F900/3 CineAlta, for comparison. Obviously those two pro-level cameras were expected to excel, having 2/3″ CCD’s vs. the four 1/3″ CCD cameras.

One of the testers, Adam Wilt, has just posted his conclusions at DV.com. If you aren’t familiar with Adam Wilt, then you must be new here. Mr. Wilt is a self-professed video geek with a long pedigree of practical and technical experience in the video industry. He has reviewed cameras and new tech and written technical articles on the subjects for many years. If you haven’t already pored over his website, then you should.

On with the show…
After setting up the equipment, the testers only had 5 hours in which to test everything. As a result, much of the results are fairly subjective, it would have been impossible to thoroughly compare each camera “honestly” feature by feature in that short amount of time. And as Adam explained in the article, the Canon was at a disadvantage, with no experienced operator to optimize it’s shooting settings. Because of the subjective nature of the tests, a summary here would be worthless. You’ll be better off to read the whole review yourself with no bias from my POV. Oh, and DV.com wants you to login too. Just a heads up…

(Via DVGuru)

Cinematech: Two-sentence Sundance reviews

More gratuitous Cinematech linkage this evening.
Scott has posted “Two-sentence reviews” of the 9 movies he saw at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Favorite quote: “at least it was better than a rural Peruvian incest film.”
Nice.

Cinematical interviews Mark Cuban

Interesting interview with Mark Cuban about the release of “Bubble”, and future projects in the works at 2929 Entertainment.

One cartridge is all you get – StraightSuper8 competition

StraightSuper8 is a truly international Super 8 event inviting filmmakers the world over to make a short film on single cartridge of Kodak Ektachrome 64T.”

“StraightSuper8.com will select 14 films to be projected over three days during the 2007 Sundance Film Festival in Park City Utah, and simultaneously screen the films online for viewing and downloading worldwide at straightsuper8.com.”

Cartridges are due August 1st, 2006.

(Via onsuper8.org, thanks Giles!)

Aspect HD 4.0 released for Premiere Pro

The latest version of Cineform’s Aspect HD Intermediate has been released, with support for both Premiere Pro 1.5.1 and 2.0. The Cineform Intermediate is an excellent solution for editing HDV footage without the multi-generational losses sometimes incurred by native long-GOP editing. Also, the intermediate upconverts HDV’s 4:2:0 chroma to 4:2:2 chroma space upon capture, this results in higher quality footage, even when exporting back to 4:2:0 HDV.

The Cineform Intermediate was used throughout post-production of “Dust To Glory”.

We mentioned Cineform quality comparisons several months ago.

MPAA makes unathorized copies of a feature film DVD

This week in hypocrisy: The Motion Picture Association of America recently admitted that it had made unauthorized DVD copies of a feature documentary submitted to Sundance. The feature in question, “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” was submitted to the MPAA by director Kirby Dick, to be rated. He specifically requested them not to make dupes. They responded “the confidentiality of your film is our first priority.”…and then promptly made copies, one article states that the copies were distributed to MPAA employees.

What is not clear is whether the submitted DVD was encrypted with CSS…which would require software like DeCSS to rip the DVD, thus violating the DMCA law that the MPAA is so quick to invoke against others. The plot thickens.

There is some spirited discussion on this subject over at Slashdot.

Looks like the DP’s of TV’s hit drama “24″ are shopping for film camera replacements.

“In stage one of their test to see if 1/3in chip HD cameras are good enough for high-end TV drama, DPs Rodney Charters and Taylor Wigton take the Sony Z1 and JVC HD100 on to the set of 24.”

This is the first in a three stage test. They will also be testing the Canon XL H1, Panasonic HVX200, possibly the GVG Infinity, and the P+S Technik Mini35. And when all is said and done, they will evaluate NLE’s and workflows to see if a purely digital workflow can replace the film camera and editing workflows they have in place at this time.

Last year (Season 4) they tested the Panavision Genesis camera with an 10bit uncompressed workflow, and decided against the camera simply because there would not be enough of the camera bodies available for the tight shooting schedule. When re-evaluating the Genesis for Season 5, they determined several other reasons that the camera wasn’t suitable, one of those reasons was low light sensitivity.

Further into the article I ran across a few statements that caught my eye:
(In reference to other camera options) “I am particularly interested in the Canon XL H1 because in theory you can record to 10bit uncompressed, thus eliminating the horizontal artifacting associated with the Mpeg GOP. But this remains to be seen. What you would record too – Flash Ram?

It appears that while the recorded HDV signal is good quality, question marks remain over how robust the signal is – how well does it hold up to the various post processes that have to be applied to it? And how much of any fragility is down to the signal or the way the few supporting post systems are handling it?”

Tons of info in this article, here are a few notes:
“Ergonomically, if you are accustomed to handheld DVX100-sized cameras, the Z1U will feel like home. On sticks, the length of the JVC is an issue, in that you need to step up to a head that reaches above $1000. A Bogen 501 is fine for the lightweight Z1U.”

“As expected, the JVC stock lens was loaded with chromatic aberration. This was a non-issue, as the lens was interchangeable and we were anticipating that for high-end drama work we would be using something akin to the Mini35 with cine lenses anyway. The fixed Z1 lens does not ‘breathe’ but it too exhibits some CA, but less so than the stock JVC.”

“Sony’s Z1 is an excellent camera as a replacement for the PD150, plus it does HDV.”

Read all about it here.

(Via HD For Indies)

Dashboard Widgets for filmmakers

Self-Reliant Filmmakers blog has posted a list of OS X Dashboard Widgets that might be useful for filmmakers. Paul is also looking for more widgets…if you have suggestions for any that he may have overlooked, please speak up.

Of particular interest to me is the Carpenters Level…it’s a widget that uses an Apple notebook’s built-in motion sensor to provide an onscreen level. Sweet.

Converse digital film contest – Submit your 24-sec short

Converse is accepting entries for their semi-annual 24-second film short contest. Selected films can win between $1000-$10,000, depending on if they are selected for TV broadcast or just the web. Submissions are due by Monday, Jan 30th. More details at conversegallery.com.

(Via DVGuru)

How do I love thee, Mark Cuban? Let me count the ways…

In a recent blog post titled “What Business are theaters in?”, Mark Cuban counters criticism of the “day and dateâ€? film release strategy, smacks down archaic film industry talking heads, and champions delivering options that consumers actually want. God Bless America.

Scott Kirsner of Cinematech has a nice, easy-to-digest synopsis of Cuban’s comments.

I’d also like to point out Cuban’s statement on the need for theaters to narrow down a target demographic. He states:
The experience that a 16 year old expects is going to be completely different than what a 35 or 55 year old expects…
…When a 16 year old goes to a movie, there is absolutely nothing at all wrong with answering your cellphone, talking back to the screen and texting your heart away during a movie…
…People of different demographics have different expectations of the movie going experience. Trying to mix them only ends up making both mad…
…It probably wouldnt be a bad idea for the multiplexs to tailor the experience to the appropriate audience.

Seems like simple concepts, but they aren’t really prevalent in the film industry. Why is Hollywood so rooted in a dying business model?

Realtime greenscreen…without the green and screen

The HDTV Axi-vision camera can key on depth of an image vs. a chroma key. It uses an infrared imager to detect differing depths in an image, then keys out specific depths in realtime. It’s pretty amazing and ingenious use of tech, if you ask me. They have sample videos on the site that show the key in action.

Want to convert video for use on an iPod Video? The following tools are free, and do the job.

UPDATE: Thanks to the anonymous commenter who mentioned Handbrake. Apparently it can encode H.264 in realtime on MacIntels, as mentioned recently at HD4NDS.

www.isquint.org (Mac)
www.videora.com (PC)
handbrake.m0k.org (Mac/PC)

This is unbelievable…
“Today, 21st Century 3D announced the introduction of the 3DVX3, the latest in their line of digital stereoscopic motion picture camera systems.”

The camera uses two highly modified Panasonic AG-DVX100A cameras mounted in tandem (that’s 6 CCD’s, folks), and capturing “RAW CCD data in 4:4:4 RGB color space at 10 bits per channel, producing remarkably vivid 3D images at up to 1280×720 per eye, 24fps progressive.” Impressive.

The camera weighs 24lbs, a lot of that weight can be attributed to the monstrous Anton/Bauer Dionic 160 battery pack. That pack can power the camera continuously for 2 hrs.

You cannot buy this camera at this time, but you can rent one on a daily or weekly basis. Rental fees include a 21st Century 3D camera technician/stereographer “to ensure smooth operation and a successful shoot.”

I think I speak for most of us when I say “I want one”.

(Via Engadget)

As I posted just a short while ago, CreativeCow has a new feature overview of both Premiere Pro 2 and After Effects 7. Here’s a quick synopsis of the new features, plus a few other notes I’ve cobbled together from Adobe’s documentation:

After Effects 7
*Interface – Rounder, smoother, dockable, customizable, better.
*Render Engine – Supports up to 32 bits per channel. Faster renders, due in part to OpenGL support.
*Format support – Supports more formats for I/O.
*Graph Editor – Easier adjustment of keyframes.
*Timewarp effect in Pro version – Per pixel motion evaluation for smooth slo-mo.
*Dynamic link – Tighter integration and usability with Adobe pro apps.
*Presets and Behaviors – Pretty shiny things for the rest of us.

Premiere Pro 2
*Interface – Dockable panels, seems to mirror the AE7 interface changes. Can rearrange open sequence tabs in the timeline viewer.
*Multicam – Finally. Unfortunately, it looks like it only lets you see up to 4 sources in the switcher window.
*Clip Notes – PDF files on crack. Can contain notes, audio clips, video, timecode, etc.
*Dynamic Link – Better Adobe app integration. Also able to open Premiere Elements projects.
*DVD export from timeline – Allows creation of Menus/submenus directly from PPro.
*Effects – New effects, new transitions, color corrector improvements (secondary correction now possible). No RT for 3-way CC? 3-way corrector requires rendering?
*HDV – Native HDV support.
*Titler – Titles are now embedded in the project, can be exported as PRTL also.
*Transparent video – Can create transparent video on a layer to hold effects.
*Remove unused media – Does what it says.
*Encoder – Adobe Media Encoder improved, new output options.
*10-bit, 16-bit support – Supports 10-bit video and 16-bit PSD sources.
*Audio conforming – No longer wastes disk space conforming audio “if the ratio of the audio clips to the project is 1:1, 1:2 or 2:3″.
*GPU rendering – Now uses OpenGL graphics cards to handle some of the rendering tasks. Should speed things up a bit.
*2k/4k res support – Can import/export/handle frames at 4096 x 4096 px.
*3:2 Pulldown conversion – 3:2 pulldown feature lets you drop 24p content into a 29.97 sequence and play back as interlaced video.

HD4NDS: Reader Report/Research on Intel based Mac laptops

HD For Indies has a reader report on the MacBookPro and some speculation on why the new Apple Intel notebooks are sucking in the battery life dept.