Archive for March, 2010

One of the benefits of DSLR filmmaking is the incredibly small physical package an HDSLR and lens represents. But start adding professional accessories to simplify certain aspects of shooting, and something odd happens. Your rig can grow to be quite a medusa with wires and cables and arms all over the place. Case in point…the following behind the scenes photos from a music video shoot directed by indie-legend Robert Rodriguez. The Canon 7D rig they shot with is a good example of the need for a good support system once you begin to add pro accessories.

Robert Rodriguez Shoots Canon DSLR

You can see more of these behind the scenes images in this blog post over at Zacuto (that’s a Zacuto support system underneath what looks like about 700 cable ties). There’s also a further explanation from the DP on the rig and it’s myriad cables. Cool to see Robert shooting on these new cameras, but is anyone really surprised? He always seems to embrace new formats.

Coldplay’s video for the track “Strawberry Swing” is one of the most innovative uses of stop motion I’ve ever seen. They collaborated with the creative group Shynola to reinvent the genre, using perspective and live elements in new ways, and the results are simply stunning.

similo_teaserThose who have frequented DVXuser over the years will no doubt recognize the name Macgregor. He’s been creating and sharing hauntingly beautiful short films for years now, and has quite the following of fans. Back in 2006, he made a short film called SIMILO with the DVX100 and a pre-production Cinemek 35mm lens adapter. The idea was to create a short film concept, to help raise funds to make a longer version of the same story.

As of summer 2009, principal photography on SIMILO has wrapped. Now they just need $25,000 to finish post-production and VFX on this sci-fi story. And Macgregor and producer Mike Hedge chose to use Kickstarter to raise those funds. They’ve already raised over $14,000 from the community, and you’ve got less than 2 1/2 days to pledge cash if you wish to join them. You can check out their Kickstarter project here, contributions can be as little as $1. Those who contribute $40 or more get onscreen credit and access to an HD download version of the film, and there are rewards for higher pledges as well ($4000 gets you an IMDB producer credit).

Why are we sharing this Kickstarter project here when we have no vested interest in it? I’m glad you asked. Because it’s the first Kickstarter short film project that came across my inbox that I personally chose to back, and it’s a good example of how to effectively use the Kickstarter concept as an independent filmmaker. Not to mention that Macgregor’s films are always extremely visually engaging, and this is a project that I’d love to see finished. So if you agree, head on over to their project page and support your local filmmakers.

Not sure who Macgregor is? Check out the teaser of SIMILO, embedded below. Note: some NSFW nudity.

SIMILO teaser from Macgregor on Vimeo.

If you’ve not been following Shane Hurlbut’s blog on his and the Bandito Brothers use of Canon DSLRs for video, well you should be. They’ve been pushing the limits of DSLR filmmaking, applying their professional tools and knowledge to these very imperfect, but oh-so-tasty visual tools.

In Shane’s latest post, he talks about why he doesn’t like to add gyro stabilizers to his handheld HDSLR rigs. If you’ve never shot with a gyro before, it’s a small grenade shaped device that attaches to your rods and restricts jiggles and fast movement. They come in larger sizes as well. It can be an issue for whip pans, and Shane makes the case that it’s simply not necessary on these type of rigs (unless you are filming from a helicopter, etc).

This is not to slam gryos…they have their place in filmmaking. I’ve used gyros before for air-to-air shooting, and they are an invaluable tool in that application. They are also pretty reasonable to rent…around $150/day for a small camcorder gyro at places like Abel Cine.

The post title says it all. Canon was handing out 70-200mm lens lookalike coffee mugs at the Vancouver games, and I want one so bad I can taste it.

Cineform Neo 3D Tutorial

Over at PVC I’ve posted a video tutorial from Cineform on muxing multiple 2D sources using their Neo 3D software. It’s a great demo of very cool tech, check it out.

Roger Ebert gets his voice back

Roger Ebert is a national treasure. Unfortunately, he’s been vocally silent since losing his voice in a thyroid cancer operation in 2006. This hasn’t kept him from speaking out in print, as he remains one of the most prolific film critics and his daily Twitter stream is an unending supply of fascinating links and commentary. Now, thanks in part to the audio from his DVD commentaries, he now has the computerized recreation of his own voice to speak with.

You are a constant inspiration and we love you, Roger.

Why should you care about 24p?

The Canon 5D MKII 24p update was just announced, and people are flipping out. Now, many people have been using the 5D for video at 30fps (and conforming it to 29.97), and others have been using Twixtor (check the comments) and other tools to conform it to 24p. It’s an incredibly powerful tool at either framerate, but this post is about why you might choose the latter.

Stu Maschwitz did an interview with MacVideo recently, and in Part 2 he spends a solid 10min expounding on why he believes 24p is the optimum framerate for filmmaking. It’s an insightful commentary on the topic, and as always Stu’s points are well-considered and convincing. I highly recommend you check this interview series out.

Finally, just wanted to say that I’m glad to see the 24p update for the MKII, but myself and others I know will continue to use the camera at 29.97 for certain projects, for compatibility’s sake with other footage sources and corporate delivery requirements. It’s going to be awesome having options though.

FYI, the 5D Mark II camera body is now priced at $2499 and ships with a roomy Lowepro Nova 170 AW Shoulder Bag and (2) SanDisk 8GB Extreme CompactFlash Memory Cards. The Sandisk cards rock, and that bag is capable of holding up to 3 lenses and the body. That’s a really solid deal, and B&H purchases via that link help support FreshDV.

hell-freezes-overUnless you’ve been under a rock for the past few weeks, you are probably aware of the following two news items. So this update is for those rock-dwellers. Apologies to everyone else, carry on with your tweeting and such.

First, Canon announced a BETA availability date for their EOS Log & Transfer plugin for Final Cut Pro. Well, not a specific date, but sometime in March. This software product will be made freely available for DSLR video users and enables simple and straightforward acquisition of footage from CF cards via Log and Transfer, just like you would with P2, XDCAM, Red, etc. It’s a fantastic standardized workflow for FCP users, and kudos to Canon for making this available free of charge. If you were thinking that this software is eerily close in featureset to the Glue Tools product we demo’d at Cine Gear, well you’d be correct. That’s because it is. Missed that Glue Tools demo? No worries, I’ve embedded the video at the bottom of this post.

canon-manual-sound-recordingThe second bit of news came in the past week, first in the form of that Canon 5D MKII firmware rumor we posted, followed by official news from Canon that the new MKII 2.0.3 firmware would be available worldwide March 17, 2010. New features confirmed in this firmware update include:

* 1080p 24, 25 and 29.97fps recording options. (24p is actually 23.976fps, and 25fps requires the camera first be set to PAL mode).
* 640×480 30 (29.97) and 25fps (25fps requires camera first be set to PAL mode).
* Video histogram display (Canon notes on this only show brightness histogram, but an earlier rumor presentation slide indicated RGB hist as well).
* Manual audio level control (with meters!).
* Audio sample rate changed from 44.1KHz to 48KHz.
* Aperture (Av) and Shutter Priority (Tv) in Video Mode.

This is an incredibly useful update for filmmakers, fixes several workarounds we’ve had to deal with, and GIVES US PROPER EXPOSURE TOOLS! The video histogram should prove to be incredibly useful. There are some limitations of course. For instance, the histogram cannot be viewed while recording, only before hitting record. If you’d like to see the framerate menu and audio meters in action, take a look at this behind-the-scenes Canon promo video And you can see these menus and other details in Canon’s posted notes on this firmware update.

Here is the Glue Tools Log & Transfer plugin demo from Cine Gear 2009:

FreshDV’s coverage of Cine Gear 2009 is made possible by the generous support of the following sponsors:
Cinevate | Kessler Crane | Cinemek

Im case you’ve missed it, DVXuser’s BetrayalFest entry deadline is on March 5th, 2010 at 4pm Pacific Standard Time (GMT -8). If you are looking for some exposure and community feedback for an appropriate short film, you might want to look into this one. Details in this thread.