Archive for September, 2010

Earlier this year there was a big flap about the MPEG LA’s AVC License terms for H.264 video, and how it affects content creators on the web. We did our own post on the complicated topic here. Well it seems that the MPEG LA was listening, and in a recent announcement they’ve extended the free web-distribution terms of the AVC/H.264 License from a 2015 expiration date to “through life of license.”

So it seems that either the concern from users of H.264, or the pressure from Google’s WebM (VP8) announcement has had some effect. Either way, content creators now have continued flexibility to use the H.264 codec without the fear of onerous licensing fees.

UPDATE: I think we understood this news incorrectly. Here’s another analysis that suggests this announcement is little more than a smokescreen. Thanks for the link, Jon.

cinevate_cyclops_on_dslrAt NAB 2010 we got a look at Cinevate’s forthcoming full-face viewfinder called Cyclops. I’ve just gotten word from Cinevate that they are now accepting pre-orders on Cyclops, and will be shipping the product on October 8th.

Cyclops is a unique take on DSLR viewfinders; instead of a single-eye loupe, Cyclops allows a full face view of the camera LCD with magnification. What’s interesting about this configuration is that it offers the option to operate the camera without maintaining direct contact with the viewfinder…so small moves on a slider, dolly, or Steadicam can be monitored through Cyclops without direct contact with the eyepiece. This is very interesting approach…sort of a cross between a loupe and an LCD shroud.

cyclops_handheld_in_useCinevate has also built a base system around Cyclops that can actually be expanded with grip bits into a small handheld configuration or a cage. This makes the Cyclops investment not just a viewfinder, but also the base for a handheld rig. Clever.

For a better introduction to Cyclops, take a look at the following Cinevate video that shows the gear in use and explains how it all comes together. This is the first of a 3-part video series on Cyclops, keep an eye at this link for parts 2 and 3. It’s my understanding that the Part 2 video will get more into using the base system as a handheld rig or cage setup, so stay tuned for that.

Cyclops DSLR Viewfinder – Part 1 of 3 from Cinevate on Vimeo.

The FCPUG SuperMeet will be held this Sunday (September 12) in Amsterdam for those lucky enough to be attending IBC. Details are below, and you can reserve tickets here.

Where? – The Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky
When? – Sunday 12.9.2010 – 19:00 – 23:00 (Doors open 16:30)
How Much? – €15.00 General Admission and €10.00 for Students (€20.00 at door)
Any raffle prizes? – Of course. €2.00 per raffle ticket or 3 for €5.00
Who should attend? – Everyone who wants to learn more about Final Cut Studio, digital filmmaking and meet others who may know more than you do.
Food and Drink? – Food (free) and Cash Bars will be available to enjoy a few cocktails!
What is on the Agenda? – Autodesk will show off Smoke on Mac OSX. Blackmagic Design will show of the new DaVinci Resolve. Avid will show off Media Composer 5. And yes, FCS fans, there will be plenty of Final Cut Studio magic on stage as we intend to devote an entire half of the show to Final Cut Studio. We intend to bring some of the best FCS Gurus on the planet to the stage and let them teach and delight you in their wizardry. Plus, Show and Tells from local EU filmmakers and more.

There’s plenty more details about the agenda over at www.supermeet.com. Lastly, this SuperMeet includes an interesting new event called “Open Screen Theatre.” There’s a first-come, first-served sign up sheet where you can get on the list to show your content with other filmmakers to discuss and get feedback. Very interesting concept, love to hear how that works out!

Mac Soda wrote a blog post with a number of unsubstantiated claims concerning Final Cut Pro. It’s entitled Final Cut Studio: The Inside Scoop, but I find that title misleading. Basically the Mac Soda post said FCS 4 is coming soon (they say between 1/2011 and 4/2011), is awesome, and here are some of the changes. As a Final Cut Studio user, all that sounds good to me. However, there is not a single shred of evidence shared, not a single source mentioned, or even alluded to. It’s all assumed; beyond the “inside scoop” title there’s not even a weak attempt to suggest there is a secret source for all this info that nobody else seems to have. There seems to be an assumption that somehow by simply writing it, it must be true. If this was just a few of the typical FCP rah-rah rumors, or perhaps spoken less authoritatively, I’d give them a free pass. But when you make grandiose and detailed claims like they do, you need to pony up some facts and supporting sources. As the saying goes, “Extraordinary Claims Demand Extraordinary Proof.” They offer no proof, and as such I personally don’t believe a word of it. Here’s a few choice excerpts:

“Apple is quite aware that Motion is a joke, and that After Effects runs circles around it. That’s why they’ve had a team working exclusively on making Motion more powerful and easier for editors to use. The software has been in the works ever since Apple scratched Shake, and Motion is going to end up being a hybrid which utilizes the power of Shake with the usability of Final Cut Pro. Also, Motion’s UI is supposedly getting a major overhaul, and will resemble Final Cut’s way more, making it more familiar for editors. The team is working hard to change the timeline and browser of Motion to match Final Cut Pro’s. Whether or not these major changes will be ready in time for the next upgrade isn’t a guarantee at this point… but if not FCS4, then definitely FCS5. But odds are, Motion will finally be the powerful, usable program it has the potential to be when the next upgrade hits the shelves.

Native RED support hasn’t come yet due to bickering between both Apple and RED… neither will compromise the licensing negotiations, so native RED support is a technical go, but a legal stalemate. Whether or not the legal issues will be resolved by the next major release is uncertain.”

Another person who has an issue with this article is Philip Hodgetts. He’s written a solid rebuttal of the major premise of the article (that a new FCS version is coming soon), and also attacked a few other unsubstantiated statements. Philip offers some logical arguments to back up his responses, and I’m more inclined to accept his version of future events over this Mac Soda drivel.

As a side note, posts like this give blogs a bad name. Blogging is a very democratic and powerful tool, but it’s all too easy to make authoritative statements without any regard for facts and truth. Yes blogging is often about opinion, but there needs to be a certain level of journalistic integrity and a personal responsibility to release factual information. I’ve not linked the post because I think they are simply traffic-baiting and are showing zero journalistic integrity. If you wish to read it, you can find the post via Philip Hodgetts response link above.

So a couple of days ago I posted some links to an interesting new tool for transcoding DSLR video footage into an editable format. Rarevision’s 5D2RGB application claims to offer higher quality conversion at the expense of transcode time. And initial reports seem to support the quality claims.

I just read another analysis of this new tool, and this one takes a slightly different angle…the topic of Quicktime gamma shift. Jerome Stern has 42 screengrabs and over 2,000 words on Rarevision’s 5D2RGB transcoder, and how it affects the gamma of your footage. If you’ve noticed a gamma shift in your DSLR footage once converted, here’s a juicy nugget you may find interesting: “Rarevision has solved a HUGE issue — getting the original H.264 footage to look exactly the same in the Final Cut Pro timeline!”

That sounds great! Except it doesn’t hold true once you export…unless FCP is forced to render the footage. Whaaaat? Quicktime does something unexpected in regards to gamma? Never…

Says Jerome: “While many clips in your timeline will certainly get filters applied, some won’t, and if you export footage that hasn’t gone through a render step within Final Cut, you’ll get a color shift no matter how you export it. Essentially, in order to get accurate colors from your Final Cut exports, you’ll need to render all your timelines with what are essentially slug filters.”

There’s quite a bit of info here to absorb, and it looks like Jerome’s on to something. So if pixel peeping is up your alley, check out Jerome’s exhaustive (and exhausting) article. Thanks Jerome!

More on Redrock Ops rigs

ops_header_smSo last weekend Redrock Micro announced their Ops line of camera support gear and accessories. The Ops line is really just an optional high-quality camouflage color scheme on the same tools that Redrock has been offering. It’s an interesting option if you happen to like (or need) camo gear, and if not there’s plenty of other blue and black Redrock gear to choose from. What’s interesting to me is the polarizing response people have had to this new color scheme…they either love it, or hate it. There seems to be no in-between, and I found that really really curious and a bit puzzling.

I think that this requires some backstory…What you may not know is that Redrock didn’t create the Ops line as a product, it was originally intended as a customized gift for DP Shane Hurlbut. I got the scoop on this from Brian Valente last week prior to them giving the rig to Shane…basically they were looking for a way to say thanks to Shane for his contributions to the DSLR scene. He’s been a tireless proponent of DSLRs, and he’s also used and positively endorsed Redrock gear for some time now. So Redrock found a solution for making a custom camo colored rig for him. It turned out so well, they figured why not offer it to the community as well…so that’s what they are now doing. You can now order a camo-colored kit, at about a 20%-25% premium over their normal rig prices. Or not. Your choice.

I’ve got a few additional Ops rig pictures below, as well as an exclusive video clip from last weekend’s HDSLR workshop where Brian gives the rig to Shane Hurlbut. It’s kinda cool to see his reaction, there’s definately a childlike excitement about the gift and I find that refreshing. Enjoy your gift, Shane…It looks fantastic on your shoulder. Watch below, and pictures follow…

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Quick note on the video clip…I asked Brian at Redrock for access to video of the gifting, so he arranged for someone at the event to capture it on their iPhone. The video was run through Coremelt Lock & Load X, which did a kickass job of stabilizing and de-jello-ing the footage. It was my first chance to work with Lock & Load, and I was amazed at the quick motion analysis and stellar results from this plugin. More on that in a future post. You can grab a 14-day unlimited trial of Lock & Load X here.

Finally, if you have questions why I decided to post this info, I’m happy to offer this explanation: I like the guys at Redrock, and I appreciate the tools they build. I also appreciate what Shane is doing, and love that he’s willing to share info with the community. His blog is always an education. But ultimately I owe Redrock Micro and Shane Hurlbut nothing in terms of this blog post, and they’ve asked me for nothing. I simply felt that a kind and genuine gesture from the crew at Redrock Micro to Shane was being taken wrong by some in the community. Didn’t feel as though it was getting a fair shake. So there you have it. Sound off below if you wish.

Here’s a nice comparison between these two budget DSLR/video cameras.

Let me tell you, I love me some Adam Wilt. His no-nonsense honest approach to testing is second-to-none, and this article on sensor low-light performance is a great example. Recommend reading this one if you’ve been feeling that your beloved EX1 or HPX has lost it’s lustre with all the recent DSLR video developments. Adam’s comparison test shows that performance is actually pretty close in these modern camera systems at high ISO and gain levels.

Phillip Bloom is at Canon Expo this week, and has posted some pictures and preliminary reports from the event. Canon is showing off a 4K camera with a 2/3″ sensor, something that isn’t likely to ever ship, but might be a harbinger of things to come. They are clearly flexing their muscles a bit in the direction of Red’s own non-shipping concept camera called Scarlet. You may have heard of it. Anyway, competition is good for end users, so bring it on, Canon!

(Via C5D News)

If you don’t know how to use Cinema Tools to “conform” your 60p Canon T2i or 7D footage to your editing framerate (23.98 fps or 29.97 fps, generally), here’s a quick video tutorial from Shane Ross that shows you how. It’s quick & painless, and you should know how to do this.