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High Definition Video for Independent Filmmakers
A How To Guide for Digital Filmmakers
Welcome all! This is my blog to share my latest research,
thoughts, etc. on utilizing HD for independent filmmaking.
YES, I am available for consulting
Contact me at email@example.com
All content copyright 2004-2007 Mike Curtis.
Sunday, December 31, 2006
I've been enjoying taking the week mostly off when it comes to blogging, but have been snagging items of relevance and letting the stack up, minimized in my dock.
I started this in 2004, so 2007 will be the fourth year that HD for Indies has touched. As always, thanks for all the kind words and support, and Happy New Year!
So go have fun tonight and think about your new year starting tomorrow, or read this with your hangover over eggs in the manana.
Here it all is, slightly organized:
END OF YEAR STUFF:
Wired News: Best Shoestring Sci-Fi of 2006...although Wild Blue Yonder literally put me to sleep, several times.
Videoguys Top 10 products of 2006
This is a very Windows-centric list, hopefully balances my Mac-centric tendency a bit today. Interested in doing HD stuff on Windows? Read this!
CinemaTech: Ten Pivotal Events of 2006, from the Intersection of Entertainment and Technology
2006: The year in Apple - Yahoo! News
Wired News: The Year in Online Video
Biggest Box Office Flops Of 2006 � Screenhead
Read it and weep...but not for yourself. Most of these deserved their fates, but I'm sad to see The Fountain did so poorly, personally I really enjoyed it and found it very relevant/resonant.
But Poseidon goes down, down, down....buried under the weight of a $160M budget and only $60M in floatation devices....
Xbox the top video download success? - DV Guru - Xbox 360 lets you download movies directly to a device that can display them on your TV. OH - and lets you download HD movies for direct display on your HDTV, even with analog connections (no HDMI requirement). Does that sound like stellar news to anybody else? Sure does to me!
Honestly, I think Microsoft is in a great position when it comes to HD content - you can play games on this thing, you can watch HD-DVDs for a $200 add-on to your $300-$500 base investment, or just download HD movies directly with a broadband connection. Or you can spend $500 to $1500 for an HD-DVD or Blu-ray player. Hmm. Not a very compelling argument.
Apple's iTV I think would play well to a different demographic than the stereotypical 24 year old male Xbox 360 player - families. They may not want an Xbox in their home, and the movies you can buy online? The Disney stuff, which includes a lot of the family movies the kids are going to want to watch over and over. And it'll undoubtedly play all your iTunes music, and let you watch your pictures the same way Front Row does now, connecting wired or wirelessly to your Mac or PC (photo functionality almost assuredly Mac only, certainly to start).
But if I had to guess, I'd pick the Xbox360 demographic as the bigger/better market to serve.
Apple holds 90% of video downloads - DV Guru: " 1.2 million households purchased a video download in the third quarter of this year, while five times as many people illegally downloaded videos from P2P networks. Of these legal downloads, Apple is responsible for 90% of the overall market:"
Internet Video and how the Broadcast Nets are Missing the HDTV Opportunity. - Blog Maverick
Cuban's purely pro-HD and has a financial interest in seeing it succeed (after all, he owns HDNet, 2929 Films, etc.), so I don't think he's the most balanced voice of reason, but he does make some good points here.
I heard in a conference in the last coupla years someone talking about the crucial point of inflection for HD advertising would occur when HD sports were broadcast in major markets - Chicago/LA/NYC - so that the presidents of companies would see their SD ads looking like crap cut against HD shows and would call and bitch at their ad agency heads.
Cuban is talking about the opportunity for advertisers, and wisely mentions the hassle factor of advertising to a lot of smaller outlets rather a single larger entity. I wish, however, he'd include cost per impression in his argument - what's it cost you to reach a given viewer.
CustomFlix Announces Support for Amazon Unbox: "CustomFlix Labs, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc.,
(NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced its support for Amazon.com%u2019s video download service, Amazon Unbox, by adding video downloads to its current DVD and CD on Demand services. This new CustomFlix service now enables independent filmmakers and other DVD content owners to make their content available as video downloads to tens of millions of Amazon.com customers through Unbox."
Possibly Maybe - Screens - Arts - New York Times Blog - make a web pilot, sell it, buyer pulls it. Learn folks, learn! If you don't leave the web stuff up, we won't follow the cookie crumbs....
Colour My World: Repairing and styling colour, featuring 'The Grading Sweet'.
There's a set of color correction tools called The Grading Sweet, with a standard ($90) and Pro ($750) versions.
It is a hand-holding approach to color - you tell it whether the footage is under/normal/overexposed, temperature correct it (tungsten to daylight or vice versa or neutral) then a "sweetener" which sounds like some kind of contrast/saturation thing. Then it has a windowing option, as well as canned color treatment options, vignetting options, glows, and other stuff. There's a Pro version at many times the price as well.
It seems well suited for novice colorists to get their feet wet with this kind of stuff. Jude Cotter wrote the LAFCPUG article that I skimmed to make this entry.
(found via DVguru.com)
Maintaining the Vision Good article going over various aspects and pros and cons of color correcting projects: "We first went to a color correction house where it wasn't working very well. So we ended up going to a different house,%u201D he says. %u201CAnd once we did that it was great. They were really good, and on top of it.� Part of it is that you really have to have faith in the colorist to be able to tell you, when we blow up to 35, this is going to be okay.%u201D He adds, %u201CMaybe you have a little problem where it looks a little bit too saturated with blue, and they say, don't worry it'll be okay. It's really an act of faith at that point. I really feel that is how you should approach it. For a DP to be controlling the actual numbers is kind of folly, I think. There are guys who are doing it all day long. But you've got to get a good person."
“We ended up, mainly for budgetary reasons, going right to HD, telecine to HD,” he says. “In the color correction, I would find something and ask, can we make that a little bit more orange rather than red? And what happened is it would go too far. They'd say, we can't really -- it's got to be one or the other. It didn't have that subtlety of color adjustment which you do if you're going to a higher scan, if you're scanning to 2K or even 4K.”
...but I'd be curious to know what format they went to, was it 4:4:4, was it log, etc.. It seems pretty clear a good film scanner is going to give better results than a good telecine to an HD tape format, but with light or zero compression on a 4:4:4 log telecine, I'd be curious to know the quality difference, and I suspect the cost savings could be considerable.
Somewhat related, Some TV stars fear HDTV's sharp clarity
While the purists used to argue film retained more resolution, the truth is HD provides a more detailed picture due to a lack of film grain's hiding properties.
Best summed up with the line:
hi-def clarity puts any and all wrinkles, pimples and pores on display in well-lit bathroom-mirror detail.
Oopsie, Brad Pitt.
Makeup artists are having to up their game to maintain good looking stars. Airbrushing is big, but doesn't work everywhere.
How Clint Eastwood incorporated digital elements into Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers. : "the DI ended up playing a central role in crafting the visuals for both movies, largely because the director had a specific plan for presenting the extensive battle footage of both films"
I should really read this whole thing...but I haven't. Beat me to it.
Achieving a Film Look with DV and HDV Cameras this is the basics - 24p, gamma, lighting, motion rendering, depth of field, etc.
Depth of Field Myth - explains how backing up and zooming in doesn't actually make the background any blurrier
HD House back at Sundance - DV Guru
Going to Sundance? Check out HD House, will have stuff on:
Digital Cameras Exposed presented by Emmy Award-winning Engineer and Videography Technical Editor Mark Schubin
HD Camera Compendium presented by Cinematographer, Director and Visual Effects Supervisor Scott Billups
Digital Imaging Demos with camera and lens first-looks
The Workable Digital Workflow
Digital Intermediate Possibilities for Independent Filmmakers
Data and Digital Cinematography
Painting by Numbers: 4:4:4, 2K, 35, 16
Facts on the HDV Format
Mac Pro 4-Drive Internal RAID Tests (Seagate 320GB, 7200.10 drives): "Mac Pro 4-Drive Internal RAID Tests
(Seagate 7200.10 320GB Drives)" - works pretty well, DiskTester and Kona benchmarks
G5 PCI-X RAID Tests - 4 Maxline Pro 500GB/Seritek 2eEN4 SATA Enclosure/SeriTek 1VE4 Controller - QuickBench and terminal bash results
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 Quad-Core CPU (Kentsfield) Review: Content Creation: Media Editing and Encoding Benchmarks - review of the latest double double (quad cores on a single die/chip), which in a dual config would allow for an 8 processor system. On Windows, After Effects 7 (labelled 6.0 here) did pretty well, but we don't know what theirtest files were.
Quick Takes on Real World Macintosh Performance ExpressCard SATA bandwidth woes: "Though the theoretical bandwidth of an ExpressCard is 256MB/s, the current speed limit of all ExpressCards is about HALF of that when used with a RAID set no matter how many drives are connected."
....as expected - I've been told the bus isn't fast enough for uncompressed HD work.
Macworld: Review: 17-inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo/2.33 GHz Nice fast notebook (NOT laptop, cooks your thighs), big screen. Surprisingly a bit slower in their tests than the 15" version that ostensibly should match performance. Overall, pricey but good: "We can think of a few new features we%u2019d like to see in Apple%u2019s flagship laptop%u2014an eSATA port for external drives, for example, and maybe a built-in reader for flash memory cards. Even without those improvements, however, the 17-inch MacBook Pro is a marvelous machine. If you can afford the price and don%u2019t mind the size and weight inevitably associated with such a large display, you won%u2019t be disappointed."
FresHDV | FX7 VS FX1 footage - translated from German, but lots of details, if you're debating which of these to get, read on
Boujou4: "Boujou has been the industry standard for camera and object tracking software for quite a few years now. But, like most software, it has had its drawbacks, which most of the ingenious tracking artists have found workarounds for.� In its latest incarnation, 2d3 has answered these problems by opening the black box and letting the users tinker around. In years past, Boujou was used to track point data in the same way a soldier uses an automatic weapon. You simply fire and see what you hit. An artist would bring in the background plate to be tracked, put in the lens data (if he has it), and hit Feature Track.�Boujou would jaw on the frames for a while and try to come up with a solution.�When it worked, it worked well, and when it didn%u2019t, it was easier to move to a manual solution %u2013 often in a different piece of software.�At least, that has been my experience on numerous projects with numerous effects houses."
Sony HDR-FX7 Camcorder Review: "It’s hard not to like Sony’s HDR-FX7, and only a few years ago we would have loved it....Unfortunately for the FX7, the high-end “consumer” camcorder niche seems a threatened species....Until Sony lowers the price of the HDR-FX7, we can’t give it a strong endorsement...Our advice is to hold off on buying an FX7 until Sony drops its price considerably – or to give the XH A1 some serious consideration."
Stills and video from the FX7 here. Very interesting to hear the Canon so strongly endorsed in a review of the Sony gear. Of course, I'm also very curious to see some reviews of the Sony V1U camera as well.
Oppo DV-981HD Universal DVD Player - $230, Faroudja uprezzing DVD player with HDMI output. After reading this article, makes me think waiting for high def discs isn't such a bad idea for most folks for the quality and results you'd get at the size and viewing distances most can afford.
Avid, Final Cut Pro, and Streaming Training Courses: Creating Marker Durations In Final Cut Pro
Media, tech cos probe possible high-def DVD hack - Yahoo! News - maybe it has, maybe it hasn't, not sure yet. The real fun begins if this IS for real, and the studios start revoking keys. The way AACS works (protection scheme in HD-DVD and Blu-ray) is akin to CSS from DVDs, BUT there is NOT one master global key, each title has its own key. Seems that the hacker found a way to extract the key on a title by title basis from the HD-DVD playback software.
There's a video and everything...but that is easily fake-able.
SO....if this is the case, then the software manufacturer should issue a new version of the software, and in theory all new high def discs would include that version of the software on their "don't let this work list" - so if you're an unsuspecting user, one day all of a sudden you put in a new disc, and suddenly ALL your discs won't work....because the studios decided your player was verbotten.
There will ALWAYS be hacks. I was talking with a friend of mine about this kind of stuff the other day, his point was that so long as there is a system in place that keeps most people legal most of the time, it is OK. I countered that as long as there is ANY leak, ANYwhere, there will be the illicit bootlegs sold on the open market, which is where the REAL money loss comes from for the studios.
I suspect it will be possible to get one of the cheapest players out there - an Xbox 360 with the HD-DVD add-on -- and use a $1000 HD capture card to capture the analog HD output to DVCPRO HD, then re-encode and distribute illegally as one wished. If it can be circumvented, it will be. In the meantime, legitimate home users trying to time or media shift will of course be left out in the cold.
Grr. Or brr. Depending.
...but for all the whinging about next gen formats, DVD players finally outnumber VCRs - "For all of the talk about the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray, both technologies are far, far away from most family rooms. Yes, the two are just now beginning what could be a long battle for entertainment-center supremacy, but keep in mind that the technology that they are vying to replace has only recently gained the upper hand against the previous-generation technology--a decade after first being introduced. Even if Blu-ray or HD DVD unexpectedly routs its opponent from the market in the next two or three years, it will still be several more years before the victorious format supplants the DVD."
PowerDVD Ultra: HD DVD and Blu-ray playback for the PC - DV Guru
johnaugust.com � Seeing The Nines at Sundance - John August talks about going to Sundance and how to do it, best quotes: "my threshold for tolerating crowds, schwag and auteur-theorists drops considerably when wearing a parka."
"Maybe you’ll meet that special someone who will change your life. Or convince you never to sleep with a singer/songwriter/gaffer."
Also Scott Kirsner's guide on Sundance:
Spielberg involved in "The Apprentice" like show for filmmakers - DV Guru: I like the cynical guess at how it will all play out from the DVguru writer:
"I am intrigued but here is how I think the first season will play out. Most of the 16 directors will be complete morons, power hungry, wannabe-divas that will be eliminated as early as possible. There will be a couple of the good conformist types. The final two will consist of a conformist and a diva. Of course, the conformist will go on to win the show. "
the Workbook Project is a new site for content creators, worth keeping an eye on. Found via DVguru.com
No mentioning of the iPhone in Steve%u2019s keynote address! - aMobileME - this guy thinks he knows what Steve Jobs will say at MWSF. Doubt it is all correct, feel free to lambast him when he's wrong. I've been hearing rumors that Leopard has been missing internal bencmarks, so March is sounding optimistic.
DVX100B of HVX200 for Tight Budget - DVXuser.com -- The online community for filmmaking - I argue the false economy of being able to "almost" afford an HVX.
Camera 101: Rule of Thirds - a little bit of composition info for the noobs...like me (did I mention I'm not a shooter? I'm not a shooter).
Studio Daily | News and Tools of the Trade - their version of a blogwad - bunch of tidbits of interest
FresHDV | Automated lip reading adds Hitler's voice to previously silent films
A Film Festival Without the Film - DV Guru
Flipbook film festival - not HD, but cool, kool, kewl.
In the purely "because I'm self-centered enough to want to know" category, HD for Indies pageviews were 1.416M pageviews for the year (3900/day), that's up from about 956,000 in CY2005 (2600+/day), and an average of 1900/day pageviews the last quarter of '04 that I started using a particular tracking tool, after starting the site in March of 2004.
So after all this readin' and edumacation, I'm off to go celebrate the new year by avidly destroy some brain cells...TAXI!
I do have a problem with accepting a top 10 list of products from the people who try to sell them. It's like accepting benchmarking from Apple's website.
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