Archive for October, 2008

HDFilmtools.com has posted a multi-part interview with Matthew Wood, Supervising Sound Editor of WALL-E and The Clone Wars. These filmmaker profiles that Larry Jordan is posting have been a favorite of mine for a while now. Check it out.

I say “NO” in this PVC blog post.

Jesse Miller of Midtown Video wrote me to mention that they’ve recently done some lens testing with the new XDCAM PMW-EX3. They posted a video that shows how they hooked up a Fuji ACM-21 2/3″ Lens adapter along with the P+S technik Pro35 equipped with Zeiss primes. Sweet!

You can see more Midtown tutorials and tests at www.midtownvideo.com

Insights from The Conversation

We mentioned The Conversation recently, and organizer Scott Kirsner has posted a few thoughts from the event. Looks like a fantastic conference, and I’m sorry we weren’t able to attend and cover it for our readers. Check it out at CinemaTech.

Redrock Support Bundles for DSLR cameras with HD videoThere’s been a lot of chatter lately about the latest crop of Digital SLR still cameras that include HD video modes. The Nikon D90 was the first to really make waves with it’s 720p mode, followed by Canon’s 5D Mark II featuring 1080p and a more efficient recording codec. Coming out later this year is Nikon’s flagship Pro DSLR update, which is rumored to feature a similar 1080p video mode. And let’s not forget the niche offerings from Casio’s Exilim line, the high-speed video modes of both the EX-F1 and EX-FH20. These are great developments for filmmakers, providing more options than ever to capture amazing imagery. However, these still+video hybrids create a new set of challenges for some not used to working with small cameras, not the least of which is form-factor and handling ease. They simply aren’t set up for a production set.

Redrock Micro appears to be the first company to step in and fill the need for DSLR accessories with a full-featured support rig bundle. They’ve repurposed elements from their camera support accessories line to build a 15mm upper and lower rails and handling solution, complete with follow focus and mattebox. A shoulder pad and front handgrips round out the rig. This “cage” around the DSLR will enable much more customization and configurability when shooting with these powerful cameras trapped in a photographer’s form factor. For instance, I’ve spoken with a number of shooters who wish to add a Beachtek or similar audio adapter to the Canon. Redrock’s rig will give you many more mount point options than exist on the stock camera.

Redrock cage support for DSLR cameras, back viewWhile many shooters will welcome a production-ready support system for these small cameras, there is a counter-point worth mentioning. One of the greatest strengths of these new DSLR video cameras is the power of HD resolution melded with great glass in a compact size. Adding this Redrock rig will obviously add some size and weight. So in situations where space is at a premium, shooters may prefer to run-n-gun with the stock camera. However, most pros that I know demand an external monitor, precise manual lens control, wireless audio mount points, etc. And the addition of the Redrock microMattebox to the rig will offer further options for precise image control with ND grads and other optical filters. It’s my belief that this Redrock rig takes a purely run-n-gun, indie-oriented camera and makes it a lot more palatable to production work and pro shooters who demand their accessories.

Redrock has not revealed pricing for DSLR accessory bundles yet, but said that they would be available for purchase AND shipment by October 28th. You can also see the bundles displayed at Photo Plus in NYC on Oct 23-25th in the Canon and Zeiss booths. Since it appears that the bundles all utilize pre-existing Redrock gear, I suppose you could build your own in the interim, if you so desire. Hopefully we’ll see a small price break for a complete integrated package. Regardless, based on Redrock’s past offerings, it should be an affordable and solid solution for DSLR shooters. More info at www.redrockmicro.com

Cheap Sandisk SD cards replace SxS media from SonyHere at FreshDV we’ve written and talked at length about the Sony XDCAM EX1 and XDCAM EX3. It’s an absolutely brilliant HD camcorder series, well suited to use stock, with a 35mm lens adapter system, and now with interchangeable lenses on the EX3. However, one common complaint about these cameras is the cost of the SxS solid-state media. This complaint is the same one that has always dogged the Panasonic HVX200 and other P2 cameras. Solid-state media simply isn’t cheap, and no real generic, non-oem solutions have been available. Until now…

Guy Barwood has been researching this issue for a while now, and recently wrote at length about a new SxS media alternative. You see, SxS cards are really just high-performance Express Card 34 (SSD) media. However, two variants of this standard exist, USB and PCI Express internal interfaces. USB is cheaper to make, and therefore most generic SSD cards use it. Sony happens to use the PCI Express variety, and the shipping EX1 firmware didn’t support the USB SSDs. However, with the recent release of the EX3 and Sony’s EX1 1.11 firmware update, these cameras now accept both USB and PCI E media, with some exceptions:

“So not long ago someone tried to test the Lexar cards again. Low and behold, with the EX3 (from day 1) and EX1 with firmware 1.11 the cameras suddenly recognise the media. This seemed pretty amazing as these cards are really low cost compared to SxS. Unfortunately their write performance did prove to be their undoing. While they work most of the time in SP (25Mbps), in HQ (35Mbps) they don’t fair too well with media errors happening from a few sec to a few minutes of recording :-(

So then the quest for other options continued. People started testing other Express Card card readers. CF cards are actually wider than Express Cards so that was never going to work well (CF cards would be hanging out), so other card reader were tried. I tried the Sandisk Express card reader without success (unrecognised media) however others found an one obscure card to be showing promise. This card is the Kensington 7 in 1 Express Card reader (credit goes to Alister Chapman for first testing this adaptor). No other reader has been found to either work, or work as well.”

Guy goes on to list the unique reader+card options that seem to work best. The reader is the Kensington 7-in-1 ExpressCard Media Reader ($40), and test-proven cards include the Class 4 Sandisk Ultra II SDHC cards ($25-$75) and Sandisk Extreme III 30MB/s Edition SDHC cards ($48-$120). Technically speaking, all Class 6 SDHC cards should be fast enough to handle the EX1′s 35mbps bitrate…however, like hard drives it is the sustained write speed that matters. So I suggest you consult Guy’s article for notes on Transcend and other card compatibility besides the ones just mentioned. There are also some issues with overcranking, etc. So caveat emptor.

It’s overstating it a little, but bear in mind that a 16GB SxS card will set you back $850. A 32GB SxS is $1500. A 16GB SDHD card and reader is under $115! That is an amazing disparity, and may be well worth it for you to deal with the above-noted limitations. Beyond price, the beauty of this DIY solution is that you don’t have to own multiple readers, just bring a wad of SD cards with you when you shoot. In fact, you can leave the card reader in the camcorder media slot and just swap cards in and out (this does not work with two readers installed, you must be using one SxS card in the other slot to enable KxS hotswap). You’ll want a safe storage case for your smaller media now, consider something like the Pelican Memory Card case.

Back at NAB 2007 when Sony announced they would be supporting an open solid-state media standard, we cheered them on. It’s great to see that promise finally coming to fruition. And now that the EX1 and EX3 camcorders offer increased media compatibility, I fully expect third-party companies to start coming out with better-integrated SxS media alternatives. It’s a good time to be an indie filmmaker!

(Via Bruce Johnson)

Avid Workflow Guides for Red

Avid has created a section of their website that outlines specific workflows and options for post-production of Red-sourced footage. You can download an extensive Avid Red User Resource Guide PDF. I’d say that this development is pretty indicative of the extent that Red is becoming entrenched in the industry. I’m glad to see more NLE companies taking notice.

Over at Pro Video Coalition I’ve published a lengthy two-page diatribe on the ethics and effects of companies collecting deposits and reservations in advance of a product launch. I also address why we, the end user, are so often complicit with this arrangement. That’s a phenomenon that we at FreshDV call The Cíbola Complex

Mr Pixel and Mrs Grain

In this three-part series of shorts, the film vs. digital argument is presented as a married couple in counseling sessions. Simply brilliant, and perfectly played! Enjoy.

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Related: You may also be interested in the following articles dealing with new digital tech in the filmmaking space.

* Can Ikonoskop’s A-Cam dII “digital 16mm” camera coexist with Red?
* Interview with Ikonoskop on the A-Cam dII “Digital 16mm” Camera
* Cheap KxS DIY media replaces costly Sony SxS cards
* Red One Camera workflow in Film Master (studio-quality grading and finishing)
* Signal to Noise Ratios Demystified
* Seven Rules for Film and Video Editors

HD Expo Returns to Burbank Soon

Later this month, HD Expo returns to it’s roots in Burbank, CA for two days of panels, exhibitions, and training. Here’s an excerpt of what is being offered at this event.

“Wednesday, October 29th kicks off a start-to-finish RED workflow demonstration featuring RED’s Leader of the Rebellion, Ted Schilowitz, and a full line up of RED’s technology collaborators. American Cinema Editors presents “See What’s Coming – Meet the Editors of The Hottest New and Upcoming Releases” featuring a lineup of editors credited with the hottest recent and upcoming features, including “Twilight,” “The Secret History of Bees,” “Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist,” “Changeling” and “Righteous Kill.” Editors Joel Cox, ACE, Nancy Richardson, ACE, Myron Kerstein, ACE, Terilyn A. Shropshire, ACE and Paul Hirsch, ACE talk about the impact of technological tools on the Art of Editing with Carolyn Giardina from The Hollywood Reporter. Wednesday ends with a cocktail party and networking event open to attendees, panelists, and exhibitors.

HD EXPO’s Second Annual 3D Day returns for a state of the art and beyond lineup of panels including “Myth Busting 3D: Stop the Myths. Hear the Truth,” which will be moderated by Vince Pace and feature key players in the rollout of this compelling “new” format. “Myth Busting 3D” will analyze a number of key projects that have or will be released shortly, including; “Avatar,” ”Final Destination IV” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth” with the filmmakers and experts who made them. Attendees will be taken to the edge of their seats for “3D Sports: A Win for Fans. A Win for Entertainment. A Win for Revenue,” in a game-changing discussion with key sporting organizations including the NFL, NBA, WWF, and moderator Pace, who shot the groundbreaking presentation of the NBA playoffs in 2006. Doug Bankston, contributing editor of American Cinematographer, will be conversing with Peter Anderson, ASC, during “American Cinematographer One-On-One Conversation: The Cinematographer and 3D.” 3D day will feature 3D screenings during and after the panels.”

You can register to attent HD Expo at www.hdexpo.net.

VF Gadgets Sony XDCAM EX3 Base Plate Support SystemGot a heads-up from VFGadgets over the weekend that they are launching their new heavy-duty baseplate solution for the Sony XDCAM EX3 camcorders. Since the EX3 offers several high-level professional features, not the least of which is an interchangeable lens, it follows that the camera is likely to be weighed down with heavy accessories. VFGadgets new baseplate system looks like a rock solid option for supporting all that weight. It’s constructed of anodized aluminum, and includes a rear-positioned battery mounting plate to help balance out the camera. This may be it’s most important selling point…the EX3, while equipped with a shoulder pad is a little front heavy. With this baseplate and a battery on the back plate, I imagine it would be a much better balanced camera rig. You can learn more at www.vfgadgets.com.

Save $100 on DV Expo Registration

DV Expo has provided FreshDV with a code that our readers can use to save $100 off a full-conference registration pass. The show will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on November 5-6, 2008. You can use EO08 (E-O-ZERO-EIGHT) during registration to get the discount.

DV Expo 2008 Show Schedule
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2008
8:00am – 5:00pm DV Expo Registration Open (West Upper Lobby)
8:00am – 6:00pm DV Expo Exhibitor Move-In
9:00am – 5:00pm Apple Certification and Training Programs
9:00am – 3:00pm DV Expo Conference Program

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2008
8:00am – 5:00pm DV Expo Registration Open (West Upper Lobby)
9:00am – 5:00pm Apple Certification and Training Programs
9:00am – 5:00pm DV Expo Conference Program
11:00am – 7:00pm DV Expo EXHIBIT HALL OPEN (Hall B Lower Level)

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2008
8:00am – 5:00pm DV Expo Registration Open (West Upper Lobby)
9:00am – 5:00pm Apple Certification and Training Programs
9:00am – 4:00pm DV Expo Conference Program
10:00am – 4:00pm DV Expo EXHIBIT HALL OPEN (Hall B Lower Level)

Exhibit-only passes are free until October 24, 2008, at which point they bump up to $25. At that point they should still be free, however, with the above code.

Apple ships an amazing application along with Final Cut Studio, that app is Compressor. Compressor is extensible, powerful, and once you move past the factory presets, extremely complicated. This isn’t really a fault of Compressor, to be fair. Encoding is a dark magic that we all have to use at one point or another, but most of us are just muttering spells from an overly broad handbook. Very few people really understand (or care to understand) the finer nuances of encoding, and how to maximize quality for a given application. Thankfully, there are a few folks who get into this, and they blaze the trail for the rest of us. RobotHand software is one such company, and they have announced a software package called CRAM, which includes a selection of specific-application presets for Compressor.

“CRAM for Compressor includes a variety of presets for handling HD, RED, NTSC and PAL footage. Presets include High Quality DVDs from HD and RED footage, Playstation 3 movies, suberb quality H264 for the web, Apple Trailer like quality and more.”

“CRAM for Compressor is currently available for preorder at a discounted price of $29. Compressor will begin delivery via digital download on November 26th and available for immediate purchase at that time for $39.”

As the software isn’t out in general release just yet, they are soliciting requests for preset options in the release version, so if you don’t see your favorite area of encoding listed above, e-mail the developer. More info at www.compressorpack.com.

CineXML Beta Announced

Well Red gains yet another foothold in the post-production world with Avid support via cineXML.

The cineXML advantage

Any multi-layer sequence with speed ramps, effects or dissolves is supported. Just render the used media, import and relink. It’s that simple.

Download the Mac beta now!
Key Features

* Works with Red Media prepared with RedRushes, Metacheater and RedcineXSLT.
* First light with image control in RedCine.
* Online in Media Composer, Symphony or DS or other professional finishing tools.
* Easy relink to high resolution media after batch import with ALE with optional handles.
* Media indexing allows the footage to be archived or moved before the online.
* Render on multiple computers with subdivided XMLs for fast turnaround.

A typical 30 second commercial takes less than 15 minutes from offline to online with the cineXML workflow. This includes rendering on an 8-core computer.
A cineXML license is just $79. Coming Soon!

Coverage of The Conversation

Looks like Larry Jordan over at HDFilmTools is blogging coverage of The Conversation event for filmmakers. As we at FreshDV couldn’t make the trek to the event this time, I’m happy to see coverage. We’ve mentioned The Conversation previously, and interviewed one of the presenters, Tiffany Shlain, in this audio podcast.