Buy Mike Recommended
edit systems & gear
from Silverado Systems
Buy Books, Software, & More
at HD for Indies Amazon Store
Buy New Movies from
HD for Indies Amazon Store
Or, you can also support
HD4NDs by contributing
to the tip jar...
Help Support HD for Indies
Great HD Links
- HD For Indies Home Page
- HD For Indies FAQ
- HD 24
- Bare Feats
- 24p Entertainment
- Light Illusion (was Digital Praxis)
- OneRiver Codec Resource
- HighDef.org Info
- Understanding RAID
- Video Systems (Reviews)
- DV Film (DV=>Film)
- Plus 8 Digital (vendor)
- Digital Cinema Society
- Texas High Def (local F900 guy)
- Creative Cow (news & forums)
- Philadelphia FCP User Group
- Los Angeles FCP User Group
- Cinema Tech
- DV Info's forums
- HVX User
- Pro App Tips
- Bluesky Media - Instruction
- little frog in high def
- VideoMaker Learning Section
- Stu Maschwitz's ProLost
- March 2004
- April 2004
- May 2004
- June 2004
- July 2004
- August 2004
- September 2004
- October 2004
- November 2004
- December 2004
- January 2005
- February 2005
- March 2005
- April 2005
- May 2005
- June 2005
- July 2005
- August 2005
- September 2005
- October 2005
- November 2005
- December 2005
- January 2006
- February 2006
- March 2006
- April 2006
- May 2006
- June 2006
- July 2006
- August 2006
- September 2006
- October 2006
- November 2006
- December 2006
- January 2007
- February 2007
- March 2007
- April 2007
- May 2007
- June 2007
- July 2007
- August 2007
- September 2007
- October 2007
- November 2007
- December 2007
- January 2008
- February 2008
- March 2008
- April 2008
- May 2008
- June 2008
- July 2008
- August 2008
- September 2008
- November 2008
- December 2008
- January 2009
- March 2009
- April 2009
- May 2009
- June 2009
- July 2009
- August 2009
- September 2009
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
All content copyright 2004-2007 Mike Curtis.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Hey all -
I've been back a few days but trying to catch up on my world. Here (finally) is the video I shot of the distribution/acquisition rights panel that Scott Kirsner (of CinemaTech blog fame) moderated. Officially, it was titled "Rights Licensing in the New Era of Distribution."
This is a punt posting of what I saw one day at Sundance - I could edit & improve audio, but I don’t have time. I made a quick tour of the New Frontier Lounge noting the vendors present, then went and sat in on the Distribution Rights Panel that was moderated by my fellow blogger and buddy Scott Kirsner. Also on the panel were Orly Ravid of Wolf Releasing, Jean Pruitt of Independent Film & Television Association, Tracey Mercer of Revelation Entertainment & also Clickstar (Morgan Freeman’s distro), David Straus of withoutabox.com, Linda “O”, head of acquisition of shorts and podcasts for Shorts, Intntl.
I shot this using movie mode on my little Canon S450 snapshot camera by holding my arm up for 45 minutes, so pardon the shaky camera work. I got the first 35 or so minutes than ran out of room on my camera card, purged some stuff and got about 5 more minutes, missing the last 20 minutes or so unfortunately. But there is still much info of interest on here.
Yo Sundance - it was open to the public, so I’m posting this here. If anybody has a problem with that, please let me know, link below.
Enjoy and soak in the info.
NOTE - I posted this article as the video was still uploading and I left the studio - so if the video doesn't show up or is incomplete, check back later. I'll be back in a few hours to check on it and make sure it is working.
PS - David Straus of withoutabox.com talks about new services they are going to roll out, I'm interviewing him in next few days to get more info on that, will report here about it.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
So you know how you always hear about those fantastic parties at places like Sundance? Well, tonight was one of them - the New York party.
And of course, I got to go, and you probably didn't.
HUGE party at a HUGE house, waaaaaaay up on the mountain. Just go see the pics for yourself.
And I say this with all the due glibness of a 4am Sundance after party glow -
Don't hate me for being just a little bit cool, just for once.
(OK, granted, maybe not cool, but at least in a cool place.)
Celeb watch - Jeff Dowd, THE DUDE ABIDES himself that the character was based on, and Mizuo Peck, Sacagawea in Night at the Museum in the pics.
I ran into folks from earlier in the week, too - the Four Eyed Monsters crew, IndieFilm.com, David Leitner I'd only known from CML, the crew from PostWorks in NYC.
I also had great fun this week hanging out with the crews from Red, OffHollywood Digital, Tekserve, and Assimilate, and hope to see them all again soon, and to all them thanks for letting me hang.
Signing off from Sundance,
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
First off, YET MORE PICTURES from the last few days.
If you read the Bambi story, you can see her picture here.
Monday - got up and met the folks from HD House, they wanted me to moderate yet another panel, this time on indie post. As moderator sitting on a panel with 5 or 6 folks from post houses, didn't feel fair to push my DIY ethos/agenda on the group, so we talked about how folks could work with post houses to avoid the common pitfalls when making movies. It all boiled down to asking a lot of questions in advance.
They all recommended sticking with one post house all the way through (unless something goes wrong of course), and they all expressed frustration at the false economy of trying to shop around to get bits and pieces of your project done at different places - scans here, conform there, color work somewhere else, for instance - because there are lots of legitimate non-obvious costs in moving all that stuff around, and if there is a problem, it opens the doors to all kinds of finger pointing. Not to mention the time/hassle/difficulty of handing stuff around, nor the simple imperative that not everybody works the same way, workflows differ, and assets from one shop may not transfer cleanly to another without problems.
Travis from Sound Lounge, made the point repeatedly to make SURE you got a good sound recordist on set, make sure they are properly qualififed, check their references, and that will fix myriad audio problems.
I brought up the point about how your time is spent in post - if you prep your assets incorrectly or poorly (non-slated shots, sloppy, ill-formatted offline edits, etc.), it'll cost you more. They all responded strongly to this - even though it makes them more money, it means you end up burning time fixing stuff just to make things work right, rather than spending money making your film look good. Since you're paying by the hour to, for instance, have your online editor sift through your badly formatted ALE files, or in telecine having the operator have to roll through your footage trying to figure out missing slates or find tail slates, etc.
In general, start talking to your post folks EARLY. Now, I of course am all HD for Indies, DIY style, so I'd tweak that to recommend talk to your post CONSULTANT/S, be they independent consultants (ahem, guess who), or your contact at your designated post house. They WANT you to ask questions, early and often, to make sure all is going to go well. There used to be a pretty straightforward process when making a movie - you shoot your film, telecine to offline DVCAM or BetaSP for the Avid, then the editor sends over an EDL to the post house to conform. No more! While it certainly CAN be done that way, and done well, and that is the basic premise of most traditional films (with extra steps in there), there are now LOTS of other options on how to get things done. is it Avid? Is it FCP? Is it 23.976, 24.0, or 29.97 timeline? Where are the assets coming from - film, animation, PAL, NTSC, 720p, 1080p, 1080i video, is it log, is it lin, is it Rec 709 or 601 or full range, etc. etc. etc. etc. With more choices comes many more possibilities.
While it is entirely possible to produce high quality content at low prices with the latest digital tools, there are also a GREATER number of ways to produce crappy looking, expensive content using those same tools.
With so many choices, there are lots of ways to goof that up. Get help to make sure it is not only being done correctly, but also optimally, and also at a price point that makes sense for your project & budget.
During production, follow proper procedure - shoot slates. Smart slates (with rolling timecode) are GOOD, and will pay for themselves in post - if somebody has to manually sync up audio, it'll take time and money. Renting a smart slate isn't all that expensive. If you can't do that, be sure to slate every shot. Tail slates CAN work, but will cost you more, as the telecine operator has to hunt them down, log the info, then go back to the start of the shot to do his thing.
In post, have LOTS of coversations in detail about what you want to do, what you're going to bring them, and ESPECIALLY how it should be prepared.
I've had TWO SEPARATE conversations with post folks who lamented about all the work required to collapse a timeline and get it all ready - that's time they have to bill for.
Monday night we went out, got into some movie premiere party that was so crowded (literally shoulder to shoulder in entire place) and loud that even the New Yorkers wanted to bail - there's definitely a crucial party density that should not be exceeded at an event like this. Enough folks in there to feel hoppin', but not so much that you can't circulate without holding your drink over your head moving 10 feet per minute. Reading this, anyone who books anything? You can't actually mingle/schmooze/network under those circumstances. You have to have the ability to see someone and walk over there in 10-20 seconds tops.
So we all bailed (yeah - too crowded to take out camera and snap pics).
I ran into Hal Hartley (whom I'd interviewed the day before for HD House) on way out, asked him if I could snap a quick picture with him, he bluntly said no. Ooooooookay. Maybe he was as ready as I was to get out of that place.
We went to a bar, everyone whipped out their Blackberry Pearls and tried to find another/better party to go to (see pic, 2nd link at top), tried to get into another nicer party but weren't on the list and couldn't social engineer it at this point. Blah.
Tuesday was a slow day - we all dragged out of bed late, had to go deal with lost rental skis, and finally hit the slopes around 12:30. Skied as a group, but shall we perhaps say skill levels varied? I decided to defer humiliating certain skiers mercilessly for a later date, since he spent so much time upside down.
I broke off from the group to go hit it HARD - skied a bunch of double blues and zoomed the regular blues at 40 mph or so - HEAVEN!!!!!!!!!!
Had a perfect Zen-like last run from the top to bottom of the mountain, caught up with the other guys, and we all came home and cooked a big meal of pasta - Mark's a helluva cook.
Then I cratered early - too much high speed ski time.
Wednesday I got up and saw my friend Scott Kirsner (of the great CinemaTech blog moderate a panel on Distribution Rights - it was WAY better and more interesting than I thought it would be, as the guy who ran the panels talked about inviting studio acquisition execs and they ALL deferred. Instead, he got a bunch of folks who were on the ragged edge of what's going on with acquisition and distribution. It was really interesting - this a new ballgame these days, and it is ALL up in the air and being figured out on the go. I managed to shoot most of it with my little still camera's movie mode, will compress and post as I can ASAP, should be GOOD.
Then I hooked up with Lisa McWilliams of the Mobile Film School, and Gary Walker of Tex FX, a visual effects house in Austin as well - Gary was compositing lead on Apollo 13, and now works in Austin working on small films. He is here supporting the film Teeth that he was FX supervisor on. He now does digital FX and FX supervision for indie projects and is based in Austin. And he's good, a good person, and has very reasonable rates. Hint hint.
Now I'm getting ready to go to dinner with the guys, hit the big New York party up on the mountain, then crash and get picked up early to get to the SLC airport and then on to home (when I'll crunch the videos down on the Big Box and post'em up).
I'll let you folks know how the New York party goes up on the mountain...
Monday, January 22, 2007
Picking up from where I left off - the Reduser.net party was in the same condo as the Red party - Jarred of dvxuser.com started a new site specifically for Red, and he also used it as an opportunity to promote a new service called Rocket Indie, a self distribution solution for independent content. They handle DVD replication and packaging and order fulfillment and credit card processing. FAQ page here, I'll find out more and report back.I hadn't realized that Jarred had been a DP and Nick (other guy involved with Rocket Indie) had been director of the film Shadow Company, a good doc I saw earlier this year at SXSW about private mercenaries working in Iraq. (Really good, go see it.)
Hung out, talked to a bunch of folks, met some new prospective clients, and after a while was ready to hit another party - I'd heard that HD House was having a party, and that sounded like a good place to hit up potential new clients (detect a theme here?).
Partying in Sundance has it's price - I was standing in the kitchen, and the attractive woman walks up, stands right in front of me, and says "Are you Mike Curtis from HD for Indies?" "Yes?" I say...."I want to f*ck you...." she says, with a profoundly effective sultry look in her eye. (Hang on, this isn't going to turn into a "Dear Penthouse, I never thought this would happen to me...." letter.)
I know this isn't right or real, but I don't know what's going on. Suddenly, somebody starts busting out laughing...and it is Thor Wixom, with whom I'd been jokingly lamenting the limits of my geek cred with the night before, saying it was fun and all but would never yield rock star status. So of course, he convinced his wife's best friend to punk me in this fashion.
What do I do? Stand there and turn beet red.
Punked. Well punked, and touche Thor - all in good fun.
And what is her name?
I couldn't make this up.
Jendra Jarnagin was at the Reduser.net party as well, and we decided to go check out the HD House party down in town. We got down there, but it was already over. Jendra then whipped out her Blackberry (BTW - the Blackberry Pearl is THE "lookee what I got" item at Sundance) and sent a text msg out to 4 or 5 people simultaneously to find out what was the best thing to do next. She's amazing - she's lined up over 30 parties to attend at Sundance, because she spent a huge amount of time getting ready - to the point of she even called it pre-production. As a result, she knows exactly what to do at any given moment, with multiple fallbacks.
In direct opposition to how I've approached Sundance - I'm sponging off my friends for "what's going on tonight?" - which is a valid approach, one should use all one's resources - but there are big gaps when I'm trying to figure out where I should best be. Next time - plan, plan, plan. And apply for press credentials, for which the deadline was back in December, before I'd even locked in plans to attend.
In any case, Jendra got several responses back in minutes, and we were off, meeting up with a friend of hers to try to get into a party. We got there, waited, checked out status (does signing up online count as the "Will Call" list/line to stand in?). We stood around for about 15 minutes and got another text message, and decided to go to a party we'd have better odds of getting into.
At Party # 2, the Premiere party, we ran into a journalist Jendra or her friend knew. He wasn't getting in, and as legit press he expected better response from them - so he bailed and handed his pass over to us - but it was One Only. I figured there's no way I'd get in, as the third in a group of three with no legit cred to get in. I figured I'd wait until it was definite, then bail back to the condo. Fifteen or 20 minutes later of waiting outdoors in the brutal Park City cold (see? Isn't Sundance FUN!!!...????), we got to the front of the line...and waited for another 10-15 minutes. I see Matt Dentler of SXSW South By Southwest Film Festival get whisked in, he's here and busy as hell. I wave hi and he says "See you inside!" ...If only. When at last the PR guy turns and bluntly asks who we are, the girls' answer isn't good enough. Frustrated, we all turn to leave. On a lark, I say to the guy "I'm friends with Matt from South By." (insider's name for South by Southwest) "Keep going..." he says, implying Not Good Enough Yet. Quickly, I'm thinking: "I've panelled there for about 12 years." "Keep going..." "I run HD for Indies website, I get about (insert egregiously inflated traffic number here - did I say per day? I meant per month), and one of my clients' movies is premiering tomorrow." "OK, you can come in."
I try to get Jendra and her friend in, but I apparently have exactly 1.0 persons worth of party access pull. I have officially talked my way in somewhere I wasn't invited, I feel proud of myself for learning how to Do Sundance, even if just a little.
Once in, the place was PACKED - they were at capacity, and it showed.
I ran into:
-Mathew St. Patrick, otherwise known as "the black guy on Six Feet Under" - chatted w/him for a bit, he's here supporting a friend's project
ran into Jacob Walker of indieflavor.com, is "MySpace meets Monster.com for indie production" - sounds interesting, I want to follow up with him
he intro'd me to Matt Ostasiewski of AFI Dallas, they are starting a new film festival there, will be right after SXSW starting March 22nd
Schmoozed around there for a bit, ran into a tipsy Alyssa from earlier from Reduser.net and stood there with her hands under my arms to warm her up for a bit. Ah, alcohol and big parties- craziness.
we hunted around for a bit and finally found a place that would deliver pizza at 1:30 in the morning.
"I need to look into standby tickets to try to see John August's The Nines at 8:30am show Monday morning - my one chance to see it probably.
I may be doing an interview at 5pm at HD House, I'll have to see how that goes."
Those last two lines were written in the wee, wee hours after a long long night.
Sunday - up at 8am after NOT drinking (see? I CAN learn, albeit slowly)
Tim & Matt wanted to go ski to, so we headed over to The Canyons.
Day Of Joy ensued - after not skiing for 3 years, it was fantastic and I had a blast - I'm going to stay longer and get some more skiing in.
Got back by 4, was over at HD House again at 4:45 to interview Hal Hartley for them (3rd engagement with HD House, we're definitely getting along).
Here's what I remember about his talk on his new movie, Fay Grim, which is a sequel to Henry Fool. That first movie was shot in 35mm, but he shot in HD for this one.
Here's what I can remember off the top of my head:
-shot w/ Sony F900
-Sarah Cawley? Cawvey? was DP
-spent a day with a DIT getting basics looks into camera in pre-production, and just used those looks through production
-budget was what - 2-3 million?
-Zeiss lenses, he usually shoots 50mm on 35mm film, and DP told him what equivalents would be on Zeiss Digiprimes
-Hal is comfortable shooting digital and projecting digitally too
-it was an HDNet deal - working with them, gotta shoot HD, they'll do day and date release - in theaters and on HDNet same time, then on DVD the following Tuesday or whatever
-in general, if distribs can't make money on movies, then movies won't be bought (or financed)
-Hal pleased w/good digital projection - Christie 2K projector was good
-shot on HDCAM
-downconverted to DVCAM for offline edit on his own G5 and Final Cut Pro
-took EDL and tapes to SwissFX, who wanted the relationship and business (he'd worked with them on previous DV based movies), did the color work there
-made a 24p master, made a 1080i60 HDCAM for festivals
-also did a filmout, but it had greater contrast, producers didn't feel comfortable making that decision, so showing the 1080i, Hal's comfortable with that
-shot double system sound, I asked why, he said it was an aesthetic choice
asked Hal what he'd like to shoot on next, and he was happy to stick with F900, out of a sense of "it was sufficient" and it was something he knew, trusted, and felt comfortable with
lesson learned - familiarity and comfort with cast, crew, and equipment goes a long, long way
hung out and talked to the Davids from Cineform, finally met Newman I'd missed the other day, talked about workflows with RAW, the realtime 4K cineform playback they did recently, can't record realtime from Dalsa, but can convert after acquisition to Cineform and work with that compressed footage all the way through
-agreed to do one more thing with HD House at 1pm tomorrow, post for indies panel
-went back to condo
-went to Fuji party
-ran into Susan and Brian again (Four Eyed Monsters folks), Jendra again, Lowell Kay from DR Group
...and now it is time to head on out for another evening - I'm a day behind, but I'll catch up as can.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
There are some amazing long takes in Children of Men, including a long single take that takes place INSIDE a car with five people in it. This shows how they did it, and some of the other challenging shots in the film.
Ultra techie kewl - a new standard for how to shoot these kinds of scenes. This is why having budget is NICE!
My talk Friday went well - it was a small enough group I tailored it for the folks there, so we ended up talking about their particular interests and needs. A couple of folks there have been testing the SI-2K recording head, so I want to follow up with them.
Utah has some funky rules about bars - you have to be a "member" to come into a bar, which basically means a cover charge to enter. On top of that, shots are state regulated, and TINY, so you still pay $7 but get a small amount of alcohol. Harrumph.
My friends at OffHollywood Digital (a post facility & production company) and Red (edit - and Tekserve too) had a party on Friday night, and it was great - good turnout, good folks, lots of industry to the invite only shindig. Mark Pederson, one of the partners in Off Hollywood, did an outstanding job of public announcing, we All Hail. Susan Buice of Four Eyed Monsters fame showed up, she and her partner in crime Arin Crumley are shooting daily video blogs for Sundance. I chatted with her about Red, and she got so jazzed about it she tracked down Arin (who was napping on a stranger's couch) to come over and see. Arin came over and we did a long interview about Red, and he definitely Got The Fever. See his entry on the day, it's 2 1/2 minutes and a minute of it is on Red, he's into it - see more about it here, including a great quote about how just the idea of Red inspires him to make a new feature.
Update - ran into Susan Buice at the Fujinon party tonight, she said there were some problems with the audio file format or compression or something, Arin was working on it, so it is coming, just not done yet.
I continued to network and schmooze and hopefully picked up some new potential clients, so Mission Accomplished. I then proceeded, without noticing, to get unmercifully plowed. Oopsie.
Thus polluted, I managed to navigate all the way back across the road to my place and crashed out hard.
I woke up this morning and had to change my ambitions for the day - instead of speaking for a second time at HD House, I downsized my goals for the day - now I was just trying to keep down toast. My apologies to anyone who showed up looking for me, I understand Gary Adcock jumped in at the last minute - thanks man! He knows his HD shiznit inside and out - I ask him for answers to stuff I don't know.
A few hours of recovery and a LOT of "Urban Detox" later, I went to go see Ted Schilowitz of Red talk about the Red One to see if there was anything new to report. Not really, nothing I haven't reported here on before. At one point he was talking about changes, and progress on the camera, and NAB, and said something about "we'll keep you posted on progress over the next few months" or something very much like that. Does that mean they won't be done for a few months? They've been saying "engineering goals" and "no promises" and "all specs subject to change" all along - just curious when the cameras will be done. I've been idly hoping to get mine this summer sometime. If it takes until August, I won't be surprised. If it took until December, I'd be cranky about it.
Also in the same presentation, Jeff Cree of Band Pro talked about Sony's upcoming F23 camera
Here's what I can remember at 3:30am the next day about it:
-F23 names comes from F from 24 frame capable (?) and 23 from 2/3 inch sensor - simply as that. No HPC or anything in front of it, just "F23" is the full name
-it is NOT NOT NOT a baby Genesis! It is not a commercialized version of the Genesis (Sony designed the electronic guts and imaging system of the camera, Panavision did the casing/packaging/form factor stuff)
-it has a different imager and different tech - it is a 2/3" 3 CCD setup, B4 lens mount - so totally different from the 35mm sized sensor and Panavision lens mount in Genesis
-shoots 10 bit, 14 bit image processing
-1-30 fps in 10 bit 4:4:4
-1-60 fps in 10 bit 4:2:2
-CAN ramp shots, and can control ramping and offrate IN THE CAMERA
-records to a dockable SRW-1 HDCAM SR deck - that is the big deal about this camera
-is newer than the F950, shares some things with the HDC-1500
-SRW-1 can mount on top (compact) or back (better center of gravity to shoot with), or can be remoted for a two part tethered solution
-can go 100 meters with single or dual link HD-SDI
-a fiber optic option will be available in the future, can go 1600 meters
-better lattitude by 1 1/2 stops if I recall correctly than the F950 (this may be wrong recollection on my part)
Also talked to JVC guy about the new GY-HD200U and GY-HD250U cameras that shoot 60fps progressive to 19mbit HDV. Some notes:
-24p mode in those and the 110 are all 19 megabit for 24p - no frame repeating or cadence, so each frame at 24p at 19mbit means more data, less compression, cleaner image than 30p mode
-60fps is achieved by using a GOP of 12 instead of 6
-claims it looks good, since less motion frame to frame, 60fps encodes more efficiently per frame than 30p does - so doesn't require twice the data rate
-but obviously, each frame from 60p can't look as good as each from from 24 or 30p
I wandered around a bit and came back to see Crispin Glover talk about his new film. After a tiresome, wandering intro, he showed three teasers for the film - I left - it looked painful to watch, so I didn't want to hear any more about it. Color me gone.
-Ian Ziering was apparently at the Red/Off Hollywood party, but I missed him. He started trying to schmooze up a cute woman, but was irked when he realized she was married to the six foot seven tall guy - Jarred Land of dvxuser and reduser.
-Saw Kevin Bacon on a balcony. He looks harshed on - time to serious net that lens.
-Saw P. Diddy (or is it just "Diddy" now? I don't track that crap) - when he crossed the street, it was like this Reality Distortion Field of excitement that travels before him like a bow wave, leaving a wake of those 20something girls shrieking along behind him, trying to get their camera phones out in time
-saw (I think) Sasha Baron Cohen out and about at night tonight - he was wearing a hat pulled down low, collar turned up, and huge, dark sunglasses after midnight, and every time he walked by somebody, he held up his hand to shield his face. Seems like he's not enjoying being famous and not liking the attention here. Not a fun way to go around. Hey Sasha - come to SXSW, nobody will care...
-saw Crispin Glover speak, and he still dresses funny. Funny odd, definitely not funny ha ha.
I then came back to get ready for the Reduser.net party, but I'll save that for another entry - it is 3:45am, gotsta get to bed. This is pretty much what I'd written before, just not as witty and charming (riiiiiiiight). More name dropping, pictures, and adventures to follow in our next exciting episode...
I'll have more to say in my day's coverage shortly, but Susan and Arin of Four Eyed Monsters fame are shooting video blog entries for Sundance. They came to the Off Hollywood/Red party last night and I talked about Red with them.
Susan & Arin's coverage is the above link, starts talking about Red a minute and a half in. The full interview that I'm in will be posted here hopefully soon.
Arin's coverage for Sundance concludes with "whether or not I ever get a chance to shoot with this camera, just the idea of doing so got me pretty pumped about doing another feature film. If that's all I leave Sundance with, I think it was worth it."
Saturday, January 20, 2007
In the meantime, here's my first round of pics from Sundance, including a snap of P. Diddy (or is it Diddy?) on the street.
Friday, January 19, 2007
...and many purchaseable on iTunes Store.
There's no "center" to Sundance - I had to go down to town to speak at noon, and I wandered around afterwards for a bit. There's lots of foot traffic up and down the hill on Main Street. There's LOTS of twentysomethings milling about. It is also pretty quick and easy to pick up where folks are in from - long black cashmere coat, big white turtlenecks, short productified dark hair, sunglasses on indoors? New York boys. Cute blonde early 20s women looking concerned and stepping carefully in their Ugg boots? Assistants or wanna-be assistants in from LA working the scene, and clearly not used to the cold.
The ski mountain comes right down into town - my friend walked by me on Main Street as he was taking a break snowboarding to grab some lunch.
Tonight is a party I'm helping my friends prep for, so we're tooling up for that.
Tickets are pretty much impossible to come by - it is theoretically possible to get up in the wee hours and wait in line for returned tickets - bag that, I'm not that dedicated.
Tomorrow I speak, and then I'm gonna go ski!
Pics up tomorrow...
Handy thing to let you know what you can and can't do. If you're thinking of shooting guerilla style, this is a MUST read to know when to stand your ground...but don't forget to factor in when you should and shouldn't have to have a permit.
OS X Universal Binary, $99
I could see how this could be handy.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
So git on it if you want one - this is you last chance before NAB.
Also, there are now 35 new renders of Red in various configs up at:
RED / RED ONE Photo Tour
I've got a half-done podcast walking through all the configs and pros and cons, it'll have to wait until I get back.
got up eaaaaaaaarly this morning and flew up to Sundance. So far, I've been a case study in how NOT to do this - I have NO movie tickets, having not gotten on the ball at any of the several times I coulda/shoulda, and my shared room situation has devolved to possibly a couch crash since my roomie decided to bring his wife after all.
Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can wrangle a press pass, but I am sooooooo doubting that is going to work.
Tonight, I'm hangin' with a bunch of folks from Tekserve, AJA, Assimilate, & Red in the condo - so of course, after food and alcohol were secured, online access was the next priority. There are five laptops open right now - I am with Mah Peeps.
No pic posting yet, I'm already surfing off somebody's shared EVDO connection until the other condo gets opened up and WiFi figured out there...
Tomorrow at noon at the HD House down on Main Street I'll be talking about HD for independent filmmaking - it will be pretty freeform, so bring your questions and get the answers you want.
Also - for the readers of the fine print - if you're somebody I know and you're here, email me - there's some private functions and stuff.
Some other tidbits - had a 3 hour meeting in the last week talking about higher end (beyond Varicam) options for a feature with some folks, and realized I knew more than I thought I did since the last time I'd talked about it with someone. Some cameras are more suited to certain workflows - software and hardware that lets you load LUTs for instance - and some cameras would be better suited with a better recording medium - I overheard somewhere the F900 described as "a pretty good camera with a low pass filter attached disguised as a recording device."
Post workflows vary for all of'em, of course, too.
Other tidbits - OOPS OOPS OOPS - that Rodriguez trailer thing only applies to screenings at SXSW, NOT the worldwide thing as I reported.
Other tidbits from around the web that I surfed offline on the plane, and YES I'm too lazy to linkify, do a little cut and paste to exercise during this ice storm, m'kay?
SED not looking so good - delayed, and Canon buying up all shares of SED Inc. - http://www.hdblog.net/2007/01/16/sed-marches-on-2/
Boris RED for Intel Macs ships - http://www.borisfx.com/press_releases/fx_graff_intel.php
netflix over the internet - downloadable movies, free to subscribers (yep, no addl charge), can watch 6-48 hrs. of content/month depending on subscription plan, about 1000 movies and shows available, (1/70th of DVD title selection). Windows only, requires broadband connection (duh) - http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070116/ap_on_hi_te/instant_netflix
Avid best tips & tricks - http://www.dvguru.com/2007/01/15/avid-best-tips-and-tricks-for-2006/
Daring Fireball on the OS X in iPhone - http://daringfireball.net/2007/01/os_x
brian on the lack of cuts in Children of Men - http://www.dvguru.com/2007/01/16/the-beauty-of-a-lack-of-editing/
short video on storage options - http://www.studiodaily.com/main/training/7481.html
all about the MacGuffin - http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/196-the-macguffin
Why Hollywood isn't playing ball with Apple - http://www.dvguru.com/2007/01/16/why-hollywood-aint-lining-up-for-steve-jobs/
How to make a dead guy (FAKE one for your movie!) - http://www.sticktowhatyouknow.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1021
Many of the above links pilfered from DV Guru - thanks/apologies to those guys!
Hollywood on Youtube - friend of foe - http://www.dvguru.com/2007/01/17/nyt-hollywood-asks-youtube-friend-or-foe/
52" LCD Ultra HDTV - 3840x2160 - $50K
And as for that Grindhouse competition - if you win, it is seen at SXSW, NOT WORLDWIDE - MY BAD - that's what I get for power skim reading in a hurry....
video out from Motion or FCP sometimes sporadic, here's some possible reasons and fixes - http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=304979
Beware shady grey marketers when buying gear - http://www.dvguru.com/2007/01/16/grey-market-warnings/
remember when I said Black is Apple's New Black? http://www.hdforindies.com/2007/01/conjecture-watch-black-is-apples-new.html - here's new support for that theory...
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Hey all, a quick note before I leave for Sundance - if you're going, I'll be speaking at the HD House (see link above for further info) at NOON ON BOTH FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, talking my usual HD for Indies stuff about cameras, acquisition, smart post, etc.
Stu talks about nodes vs. layers in After Effects, and wants AE to have the best of both worlds - more show and tell, less guessing.
Busy day prepping to go to Sundance, do read this
Monday, January 15, 2007
WOW. I'm usually pretty jaded about what can be done with 3D technology, but this is damned impressive on a variety of fronts - the ability to recreate a 3D face from a single photograph - it has been presumed all too often on CSI or in movies, but it is not easy and here they've done it.
Watch the 5 minute video and I dare you to not be impressed.
Interesting from a geeky perspective - the Apple TV (not MacTV, note) uses a wittle bitty Pentium M processor, actually clocked DOWN to 350 MHz. So how does it decode that HD content then when a G5 is usually required? It is using a moderately beefy graphics card to do that decoding.
Also interesting - internet connection needed to play back content bought from Apple iTunes Store that has been synced up from a computer - just once to authorize, or consistently?
Can sync/connect over wireless or ethernet, not USB. Can you expand storage with a USB drive? Purportedly USB is strictly for "services and diagnostics purposes" which sounds a little odd/thin.
OK, here's a good challenge for you all - if you haven't heard of Grindhouse yet, read up.
They are running a contest to let you come up with a trailer for a fictional film that will run between the two sections of Grindhouse in theaters everywhere. That's right, you can get your work squeezed in between Rodriguez and Tarantino's, and be seen by millions.
I try not to run press releases, but this is a for a fun purpose, so here it is:
Austin, TX - January 15, 2007 - The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival is putting out a call to filmmakers who would like to submit their best "grindhouse trailer," in honor of the April release from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, Grindhouse. A sample of the best submissions will be judged by Rodriguez himself, and presented during SXSW, on March 11, 2007.
Filmmakers have a deadline of February 12 to submit their “grindhouse trailer” (no longer than two minutes in length) to SXSW. The trailer should be made for a fictional feature-film, just like those being made by celebrity directors Eli Roth and Rob Zombie for Grindhouse. From those submissions, Rodriguez will determine the best of the bunch, and it will screen during a special presentation entitled “Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse 101” on Sunday, March 11. During the presentation, Rodriguez will share stories and footage from the making of the upcoming Dimension Films release.
“We really want filmmakers to come up with something fun, scary, freaky, and out-of-this-world for the competition,” says SXSW Festival Producer Matt Dentler. “This competition, like Grindhouse itself, is in the true spirit of innovative and fast-paced filmmaking.”
Submissions must arrive no later than February 12, to: “SXSW Grindhouse Trailers,” P.O. Box 4999, Austin, TX 78765. There is no application fee, but the trailers must be under two minutes in length, and made within the last 12 months. Films that have already been submitted to SXSW for 2007 consideration, are not eligible. The 2007 SXSW Film Festival occurs March 9-17 throughout downtown Austin, TX. Grindhouse will open nationwide on April 6, 2007.
Mr. Long Tail himself talks about how Stu's Book, the DV Rebel's Guide helps to make long tail productions. Don't know what any of this is talking about? Read the link.
Has several good quotes about techniques to help make high production value, low cost decisions to improve your movie/project.
I also noticed it has A TON of interesting looking links about producing content in a long tail model - and as indies, lets face it - long tail is what most of us are likely to be able to achieve at best...
David Pogue got some good skinny straight from Apple on how the iPhone is going to work.
Got so many questions, he even did a Part 2.
Friday, January 12, 2007
CES DVR roundup
High-quality DVDs will not operate on some Vista PCs - as I reported some time ago, if you don't have a secure video card and HDMI (not DVI) connection to monitor, AND HDCP copy protection hardware, it is likely Vista won't play hi-def DVDs
"Dave Marsh, the lead program manager for video at Microsoft, said that if the PC used a digital connection to link with the monitor or television, then it would require the highest level of content protection, known as HDCP, to play the discs. If it did not have such protection, Vista would shut down the signal, he said."
-if you have an analog connection, should work (will it half-res though?)
-about 15% of computers sold have digital connections
-virtually none of those have HDMI with HDCP
-oopsie, Microsoft - this is going to hurt for a while
tutorial - compression for DVDs with Final Cut Studio
It looks like that hacker DID find the first step to break AACS - first crack in the AACS dike
"This is the framework through which the arms race is going to be fought," Halderman said. "They don't have the ammunition yet, but this is the gun."
10 programs this guy can't live without for OS X
Studio Daily | Royalty-Free HD Video Backgrounds Help Cut Project Costs: "Royalty-Free HD Video Backgrounds Help Cut Project Costs Taste Digital Media Offers a Collection of Full-Motion Video Effects Backgrounds for 1080-line HD Projects"
Studio Daily | TV Magic to Host Workshop on Affordable HD: "One-day Seminar Will Illustrate the Power and Affordability of HD Technology"
All the technical details of next generation copy protection - DV Guru - an hour long podcast on all the DRM stuff being used these days - and how it all works. Got a long drive coming up?
Hybrid products unlikely to end DVD format war - Yahoo! News: "LOS ANGELES/LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - The war between dueling
next-generation DVD formats is far from over despite a peace
offering in the form of new products that cater to both,
industry officials said."
"While the backers of the hybrid products say they offer a solution to the format war, many industry experts said they actually extend the battle and consumer confusion."
...and the LG multi-format player is $1200. Again, tell me why that is such a good deal for folks with 32" 1024xwhatever HDTVs...upconverted VDs make a looooooot of sense for the money, for MOST folks at MOST viewing distances on MOST HDTVs.
If you've got the budget, sit close enough, have a big enough, high res enough screen, and good eyesight, hell yeah get all the 1080p glory of all the good toys.
But we haven't hit the point where it makes good financial bang/buck sense yet I would think.
Fade to Black for Next-Gen SED TVs? - legal snafus (an Austin company with patents is disputing licensing rights), and high manufacturing costs are pushing these back...too bad. A no show at CES, they were yanked in December at the last minute.
FresHDV | Fresh news & views for videographers, editors, filmmakers, directors, producers & creatives. : "What the Heck is Bokeh? Rick Denney takes the time to explain, and in plain english. Why should you care about bokeh? You probably don't, unless you're a still photographer or happen to own a camcorder with interchangable lenses or 35mm lens adapter system."
ProLost: Make PNGs Not Suck: "Mac users, read The Sad Story of PNG Gamma, and then download GammaSlamma.In short, PNG is a potentially useful file format hampered by a well-intentioned but disasterous attempt at simple color management. But when you remove the bogus Gamma flag from a PNG file, you've got an elegant and free cross-platform lossless image format.Windows users can aparently strip out PNG Gamma flags with PNGCRUSH." - go click to get to his page with links, I'm too lazy to do it for you - oh wait - no, you need the exercise. Yeah, that's it.
Pooch QuickTime Exporter 1.0 - MacUpdate: "As video codecs in QuickTime necessarily become more advanced to achieve higher compression ratios to accommodate viewer expectations, they also become more compute hungry, therefore making the content take longer to produce. To help meet this demand, we developed a way to accelerate the compression of QuickTime movies from common desktop video editing applications like iMovie, Final Cut Express, Final Cut Pro, and Motion using the Export Component feature of QuickTime.
The new Pooch QuickTime Exporter plug-in automatically parallelizes video compression from video-editing applications. It extracts the source video data"
Stu Maschwitz talks about his new book (DV Rebel's Guide), his new color correction software (Colorista), Red One camera, Apple TV & iPhone, and the age old film vs digital question on a podcast -
ProLost: Rebel's Guide on TWiM: "I had the great pleasure of joining the This Week in Media crew on their excellent podcast today. The episode goes live tomorrow.If you're reading this blog but not listening to TWiM, you are missing out. It's the best conversation going on the radical changes in media that are happening right under our noses. To get a taste, dig back in their archives to TWiM 16, which stands to this day as the best recorded summary of the perenial 'film vs. video' question."
Westinghouse shows off the Quad HDTV | Tom's Hardware: "the Quad HDTV was our first target at the Westinghouse booth. The 52' TV runs a super high-resolution of 2160p (3840 x 2160 pixels). In absolute numbers, the device is running a stunning 8.3 megapixels - four times more than 1080p TVs (1920x1080p) and more than twice the resolution of Dell's, HP's and Apple's 30' desktop LCDs. So, what do you get from this resolution, especially if HD DVD and Blu-ray are running only 1080p anyway?
According to Westinghouse, the TV does not really target the consumer market, but high-end industrial applications."
CalDigit [S2VR] The First Affordable True High-Definition RAID Solution - Home - Caldigit has an 8 bay RAID 0 SATA chassis available - port multiplying (2 eSATA cables for the 8 drives). They are claiming it is suitable for 10 bit, 4:4:4 RGB capture & playback of footage up to 1080i60. This is typical of their usual claims - I'm concerned that it won't sustain that performance to the end of the drives, thus misleading potential buyers. In my experience, there is about a 10% speed penalty in RAID 0 configurations. The fastest non-Raptor drives available can do about 40 MB/sec at the inner tracks, therefore about 36 MB/sec each in RAID 0 config - so a theoretical roughly 290 MB/sec at the tail end performance, at BEST. 1080i60 10 bit 4:4:4 is about 240 MB/sec. That leaves about 20% safety margin...and 25-35% is usually recommended. I'm not saying this unit won't work as advertised, I'm just concerned. I usually recommend 10 drive setups for 10 bit 4:4:4 work, to give a bit more margin. That said, this looks like a nice unit that can operate in standup or rackmount mode, has easily swappable twin fans, removeable drive modules, and can be purchased pre-configured in 2, 4, 6, and 8 TB models (1TB drives are not available yet). I got a bit of a sour taste in my mouth when these folks first hit the market and said so, they have been kind enough to reach out to me to offer to discuss anything, I haven't gotten back to them. It may be entirely irrational, but I just don't have a strong positive feeling about the claims they make. Feel free to buy their gear, just be cautious about using it to the limits they proscribe. Otherwise, it appears to be nice looking stuff, but I haven't personally used one yet.
Studio Daily | Hassle-Free HD Fiber Connections - a newer, cheaper, claimed to be easier to work with fiber optic connection cabling system. Useful for long cable runs and/or in harsh conditions. 30% less expensive than the usual military grade cabling (that you can pull a jeep out of a ditch with).
AppleInsider | Macworld: High-quality images of Apple's AirPort Extreme w/ 802.11n
We didn't get Octo-Macs, but here's a likely candidate for the processors they might use:
PC World - Intel Debuts Super Fast Quad-Core Processors
Studio Daily | NEC%u2019s New Multi-Function Monitors: Multeos M40 and M46 HDTVs and computer screens - can be configured with HDMI with HDCP, has Faroudja scaling, VGA, DVI-D, 5 wire BNC, component, composite, s-video, audio in/out. The 40 is $2500, the 46 is $3500. Both are 1920x1080.
Hmm! Client monitor, anyone?
This Film Is Not Yet Rated available on DVD this month - DV Guru
I was alternately interested, then fascinated, then appalled by what this movie revealed about the MPAA ratings system. While the filmmaker clearly tried to "game" the system by provoking them with a movie about themselves, even digging through their trash and following people around, in the end I'd say he was closer to investigative journalist rather than stalker, and makes a convincing and compelling case that indies are rated more harshly than studio fare. ABSOLUTELY WORTH WATCHING if you are thinking of making a movie with any R level sexual content as an indie! Netflix for sure, don't need to buy.
Doodling around with Colorista on my Quad G5, I get NO realtime performance in Final Cut Pro - the API doesn't allow it apparently. However, in Motion, it is much better apparently (gotta try that next).
CinemaTech: Reflections on the Consumer Electronics Show: Video Content is Everywhere, But the Game is Changing
Creative Cow - Read Post - News & Press Releases - Lightwave 9 3D software now available as a Universal Binary
Creative Cow - Read Post - News & Press Releases - Cine-tal updates
Sony to Include Portable Movie Files on Blu-Ray DVDs - Kotaku
Slashdot | Adult Film Industry Chooses HD-DVD
From the BlackMagic website:
DeckLink 5.9 for Mac OS X 10.4 Universal
10 January 2007
This software update adds SD to HD up-conversion on capture using Intel-based Mac Pro computers and any DeckLink HD series card, 2K playback (cropped to 1920 x 1080) with all DeckLink HD series cards via HD-SDI, Improved support for HDCAM SR tape decks, and various stability and performance improvements. Please check the included 'read me' for more information.
OK, this is good - one of the things that Kona3 did that Blackmagic didn't was 2K cropped to 1920x1080 - will it do this for 2Kx1556 as well?
Note that some functionality is ONLY for Intel based Macs - bummer for me and my Quad G5.
I got the Multibridge Universal driver to install OK, but the DeckLink driver disk image wouldn't mount - so maybe give them some time to fix that before installing.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
AppleInsider | Unofficial Mac tablet draws record crowd at Macworld (high-res photos)
What if you took a MacBook and a Wacom Cintiq integrated display/pen tablet, did a little Frankenstein Luv and had a Mac tablet?
It has been done! Lots of pictures at this link. My Geek-O-Meter says "Getit getit get one!" even though my Photoshop Wacom days are loooooong gone (spent YEARS making my living with Photoshop and a Wacom).
Uses OS X's built-in Inkwell handwriting recognition, and damn this is pretty slick. Drawing big crowds at MacWorld San Francisco. And YES, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, because you CAN buy one - starting at around $2800.
LOTS more pics in the article, check it out!
Also, please Digg the Gollum iPrecious page!
And here's what the wallpapers look like, click for bigger:
1280DT2 (the last one) is the best.
Blogger and .Mac are conspiring against me to get full res easily postable.
Here's that page of wallpapers. Want high res? Email me with link on that page.
Studio Daily | Quantel Makes AAF Metadata Available for eQ and iQ - not exactly a tool for indies to buy, but would certainly make onlining a LOT easier than using an EDL for conforming/grading/mastering on these higher end systems at a facility. While at first when I saw this headline I was thinking "whatever, Quantel is soooooo expensive, this isn't indie relevant" I now realize this is GOOD NEWS for indies, and actually a big deal in making workflow smoother (if it works right and well and supports all the features, that is).
Supports AAF v1.1 format metadata, and " includes segment names, effects transitions, complex effects descriptors, audio splits and fades, time-stretch commands, layer event timings and layer priority data." Ideally it would also include titling and other stuff, but one step at a time. Speaking of time, time stretch can be a horrible issue to address in a conform or post environment, so I'm glad this is handled natively OUTSIDE of an EDL.
UPDATE - enough flack has come in about the camera setups here that a Large Grain of Salt should be consumed with the review about image quality, esp. out of the box.
Barry Green does a long, detailed, side by side comparison between the Canon XH-A1 and the Panasonic HVX200. LOTS of side by side, same-time-same-place comparison frame grabs, some short sample clips, etc.
While Barry has been accused of having a Panasonic bias in the past, and he does seem to favor the HVX in this article, I have to say, looking at the footage and stills (presuming both cameras were optimally set up...and UPDATE - oops, now looks like they weren't) that I'd agree with Barry on his objective analysis - the color does just "pop" better on the HVX in the raw, uncorrected footage, and the multiple frame rates from the camera, and 4:2:2 standard def video are definite advantages - among others. (Barry even quotes me from the Texas HD Shootout)
On the other hand, the ability to do long record times, with low cost tape, no archival issues as P2 has, does make the Canon a good choice for many circumstances (documentaries in remote locations, for one, or any situation where you have small crew and need to shoot a lot of footage). You could improve the looks of the Canon footage in post (to a limit, of course, and it would take you more work to get as nice a look as the HVX generates straight away).
Anyway, go read for yourself, it is long and it is thorough, and also covers many of the "how is it to shoot with?" questions that I'm usually not so worried about as a post guy but are completely crucial and critical when working with it in the field.
Do keep in mind, however, that the REAL cost of the cameras is even more different than their roughly $4K and $6K MSRP indicate - the HVX200 can't record ANY HD at that price - you have to go buy some P2 cards or a FireStor. Update: not true. From now through March 31st, buy one through an official reseller and get an 8GB P2 card included, so you can....record 8 minutes of 1080 res footage. Hmm.. And the logistics of needing an offloading solution for your P2 cards also makes matters more complicated and pricey as well. Ready to go shoot stuff, I consider the MSRP of an HVX200 more like $10K at LEAST, whereas that Canon is still about $4K - just go buy some inexpensive DV tapes and you're ready to go. The HVX is sort of in a class by itself as a not-quite-regular-camcorder tapeless device. It is fully self contained, it DOES shoot some VERY nice pictures for the money, but it is a funky beast, so not quite the same recording expectations as you'd have with a traditional tape vased camcorder.
Another issue - resolution. I keep hearing about how similar the XH-A1 is to the XL H1 in many respects, so I'd have to say in that case that the XH A1 should be making sharper looking imagery as compared to the Panasonic - more detailed. In my Texas HD Shootout last year, the Panasonic generated some of the least sharp imagery, whereas the XL H1 was definitely the sharpest/most detailed. If you were going theatrical, that'd be a reason to bias towards the XL H1, but for home viewing (SD or HD), I'd be inclined to go with the Panasonic if you didn't have access to a really good colorist.
As for the comparison, Barry Green says:
"If the footage is competitive and the price is lower, does that make the XHA1 the “winner”? Er, no. Not at all – they’re different tools in different classes, at different price points. " (he goes on to elaborate extensively from there).
If you're shopping for a sub-$10K HD camcorder, this is DEFINITELY must-do reading (see caveats below in update). Objectively, I think he's on track (having not worked with the XH-A1 but have with the XL H1), subjectively I may quibble a little bit but he certainly makes strongly defensible arguments.
UPDATE - HVX vs. the Canon XHA1 - DVXuser.com -- The online community for filmmaking - there's some complaints that the XH A1 was not set up as well as it should be from owners of that camera - they are saying the matrix etc. settings look squashed flat, "completely flattened with very little contrast" - the debate seems to be whether the camera was or was not unintentionally set up in a non-optimal way. So perhaps the XH A1 CAN make better looking source material - the debate goes on. Even given that, however, the pros/cons comparison is still out there - P2 (better for cinema style work) vs tape (easier field operation and longer shooting times), lens controls on the cameras, ease of use and shootability, HDV vs DVCPRO HD (I'll pick DVCPRO HD to cut with any day over HDV - hellllloooooooo, long HDV render times!), and others. Quibble over whether the camera was optimally set up - fine, there are full sized, uncompressed PNG frame grabs from both, take those into Photoshop or FCP and color correct'em to your heart's content to see whether either (or both) will give you acceptable results for what you need.
Also, re-reading the article, there are some examples of issues with the XH A1, without a matching sample of the HVX200 in the same circumstances.
Do keep in mind, Barry runs an HVX200 training seminar, and this review is on DVXuser.com. BUT it still does impart a lot of useful information.
Further Update - consensus is building that:
a.) the Canon needs to be tweaked "out of the box" to get a better looking image, and
b.) Barry didn't do so.
While he did mess around with the different gamma settings, folks are saying he should have messed around with the matrix settings. OK, given that - there's an extra level of "ya gotta do this" to mess with the Canon to get good results, which will take some time, doodling, and experience. Whereas my experience with the HVX was turn it on, cycle through the Cine modes until you found one you like, then get going.
If you're going to be post heavy, then a flat full range image is actually BETTER to work with, since you'll have more control and not have pre-crushed blacks or anything. More things to think about...
SO...don't make all your qualitative purchasing decisions based on the image quality presented here.
One commenter, however, did slog through all the commentary:
After reading the 8 or 9 pages of back and forth (I'm doing a lot of rendering today) it appears that Barry used as neutral as possible settings on both cameras and basically used out of the box settings. So both cameras are can produce nicer looking images if you tweak them, but Barry made it a point to not tweak them.
Red comments (link below) for more on all this...
I've been using Levels for so long (Photoshop 1.0) that it seems like a brain stem function to me, but it can certainly be confusing to the new user. Here's a handy little visual reference that shows what it can do.
Mike's addendum - keep in mind, this can be for the master (RGB, all channels) or individual channels (R, G, or B). And there's actually another bar that goes beneath it - the left slider makes blacks lighter, and the right slider makes whites darker (again, either all channels or on a per-channel basis).
Good stuff to know for Adobe products (and Final Cut, but their visual representation is quite different, and not as easily understood unfortunately).
If you're trying to save money by monitoring with an HDMI based consumer display, or want to capture the HDMI output of a camera (AVC HD for instance, which has no native editing in the major NLEs at this time) then this is a possible solution for you. Also does SD & HD analog in and out. The card is about $1000, Mac or PC, and works with Final Cut Studio, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and any DirectShow or QuickTime based software apps.
I'd made mention of this card before, it is now shipping.
Nice work Matthew!
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Then take a look at their latest computer designs - in particular the black Macbook (such as I'm writing this on), aka the BlackBook.
We've seen the user interface for the new iPhone, which is scheduled to ship in late June...which is after Leopard ships. While Leopard doesn't seem to have many visual changes from Tiger according to the sample animations on Apple's site, I read on Daring Fireball the other day:
The Aqua theme is now 6 years old, which is a longer lifespan than that of the Platinum theme from Mac OS 8 and 9. I expect to see big changes, not the sort of refinements we’ve seen in previous major Mac OS X updates. At a technical level, the new UI will be resolution independent. At a design level, it will elicit both a lot of love and a lot of hate, just like Aqua did in 10.0. The subtext will be to make Windows Vista look dated before it even ships to consumers.
...and I agree with him - that logic makes sense, especially that last point.
I think the next rev of pro laptops is likely to sport a darker look too, but I don't know if that would fly for the towers. Apple is famous for tying the hardware and software looks together - maybe we'd get anodized black towers? With a black based UI for the OS? Wouldn't that be potent?
Just conjecture...I have a lot of that today...
Other conjecture - Paul was quick to point out in my comments that we didn't see iLife/iWork because there may be iPhone versions coming - that makes a lot of sense, too - that iPhone ships after Leopard (most likely), and that new versions of iWork/iLife may come along that better integrate with the iPhone - a for-pay version of iWork that includes not just Universal Binaries of the apps, but also an included (or optional?) version for the iPhone as well.
I have some research to do for a meeting Friday, but I'm dyin' to do a long piece on iPhone, even though it totally isn't HD related...but I am so getting one of those...my T616, even though it is tiny and syncs well for calendar and contacts, iPhone does soooooo much more...and is clearly the winner new product for Apple.
Apple's goal is to get 1% of the market in 2008 - that'd be 5-6 BILLION dollars in phones sold at $500-$600 a pop. If they sell hundreds of thousands or even a million Apple TVs (based on current movie availability) I'd be surprised.
I bought Apple stock for the Apple TV, but iPhone is going to do MUCH more for Apple I'd bet - and this is just the first one, too, don't forget. Keep in mind how much better, smaller, and cheaper iPods got over the last five years. Prediction - in 2 years, there will be an iPhone half the volume with more features than this one at half the price.
Update - AppleInsider | Mac OS X Leopard to sport next-gen DVD Player software (images) - yep! I'm at least partially right.
"Cruise had a deal with Paramount which gave him an enormous share of the DVD revenue on the movie. “M:i:III” cost a hundred and fifty million dollars to make, and its worldwide theatrical gross was almost four hundred million. But Paramount realized that after the theatres took their cut, and the production, promotion, and overhead costs were deducted from what was left, it wasn’t going to make much money—maybe none—while Cruise would walk away with seventy million dollars."
" Many more people go to bad movies than go to good ones, but the good small movies that do well, like “Brokeback Mountain” and “Borat,” are, in relation to cost, among the most successful movies ever made."
...and that's just the first of 3 pages.
Read on, and think about that this means for your own efforts.
Apple surprised a lot of folks in a lot of different ways at MacWorld this year.
Steve Jobs got up on stage, he talked about how iTunes was doing and how many iPods they'd sold, and John Mayer played a song, and that's about all that went according to the usual plan.
Instead what we DID get was Apple TV and iPhone - to non-computer, only partially music products.
And Apple even changed their name - no longer Apple Computer, Inc, now just Apple, Inc. (and wow, what kind of wrangling did Apple go through with the Beatles' publisher Apple over THAT one?)
What we DIDN'T get was also very interesting, especially compared to what we've usually gotten and what we expected to see:
-NO new Macs. At all - no new 8 processor Macs as widely expected, no speed bumps on any other products, no Minis with iPod docks, nuthin'
-no new iLife - maybe after Leopard comes out?
-no new iWork - wherefore art thou, spreadsheet app?
-no new preview of what Leopard can do or will be
Some of these I expect to get remedied at other times - the Octo-Macs will probably/hopefully be announced at a press event TBD in the next few weeks. Leopard? We'll see an overview and maybe a few new video relevant tidbits perhaps at NAB. iLife/iWork? Those have only been intro'd at MWSF AFAIK in the past - are we just skipping that this year? Or waiting for after Leopard?
All this makes me think about what Apple is doing with themselves. After years of trying to make the Mac a better computer and a better experience to try to get people to switch to Mac computers, I think Apple is realizing...it just can't be done that way. Or at least, it is going to be so hard, and so expensive, and take so long, there must be better ways to get the same result - of getting people to buy Apple products. And if you can't get them to switch to Apple computers, the lesson of the iPod applies - make a non-computer product, that integrates with a computer, that requres experience in hardware and software and user interface design to be good at, and that Apple can leverage their core strengths to achieve.
And THAT is why we're seeing iPhone and Apple TV - it is too hard to get people to switch to Mac, but much easier to get them to switch to iPods, iPhones, and iTVs (oops, Apple TVs). Why? Because the entrenchedness of computers is really, really hard to overcome. It isn't about brand loyalty, it isn't about liking how Macs work, it is that is is so damn hard to switch for most folks. They know how Windows works, it is what they use in the office, and if they had to switch, they'd have to buy all new software applications on top of a new machine and learning a new OS. Bag that, too much trouble. Apple tried to get them to switch by making Macs less expensive than before, and better looking. That helped, but not hugely. Then they made it easy to switch - the Mini was the switcher's home machine, inexpensive and leveraging the keyboard/mouse/screen you had with your old PC. Sold some, no huge numbers. Then they switched to Intel, so you could run as a PC as well. It is helping. Parallels to run OS X & Windows concurrently? Better, but again, no huge numbers. Wanna sell 5-6 billion dollars worth of product in a year? You need a new category that is easier to switch and less entrenched. A-ha - cell phones.
All this is not to say that the above is how Apple thought about it in that order - iPhone was underway at least 2 1/2 years ago according to Jobs, and plans take years to come to fruition. They chased after the business market, and it just wasn't happening - too hard to get people to switch.
But Apple is now leveraging some stuff that is pretty unique for them - they have great hardware design experience, they (now) know how to mass produce at fairly aggressive prices, they have major buying power to get component prices down and amortize R&D costs, they have the ability to not only dream up but actually IMPLEMENT good user interface design, and that is EXTREMELY rare - I know some good designers who want to do stuff like this - we talked about multi-finger touch controls 5-10 years ago in a "wouldn't it be nice" kind of a way, but knew that the OS and hardware to drive it were far beyond our means to create. Not so for Apple.
I used to work at frogdesign, a well known/respected industrial design firm. The group I work with became the user interface group over time, and all too often, it is the hardware & software folks, not the user interface folks that make the ultimate calls, because they think that is the driving force of making stuff work (there seems to be a new corrollary growing out of the old Microsoft/IBM lesson repeating itself in different ways in different industries, but everyone thinks their case in unique and different that hardware is more important than software, and the UI is a superfluous add-on to software...will that change?). The software guys say something like "We need a bigger screen, this stylus blows, we should really be able to just use our fingers. And while we're at it, finGERS, plural." The hardware guys and the software guys get together and say "That's too expensive to implement in hardware, and too hard/hassle/expensive to do in software. Let's do this cheap fix instead, and bury that feature 3 menus down. If they want it, they can find it." Spoken like a true engineer - an engineer is willing to learn and remember that functionality is there, like pushing 77 to delete a voicemail while it is playing back. Does anybody else think 77 is a natural, normal response to deleting voicemail? Me neither. So the function gets buried, and nobody ever uses it, even though the feature is there. The world is too complicated to operate that way. I have an aversion to file folders - actual, literal file folders. If something is filed, I consider it buried and hidden away, archived and difficult to find. Most power features (esp. in consumer electronics) are buried in that same way - it is there, but you'd have to know where to find it, and REMEMBER on an ongoing basis.
I think that approach just flat out sucks.
Apple had the conviction, dollars, balls and courage to dive into this thing and get UI RIGHT. It probably took someone famously swinish and demanding and "That sucks, do better!" like Jobs to get this done. It took 2 1/2 years....would any other company let a phone project run that long? That could create their own OS, hardware, and software?
THAT'S why I think Apple will e a serious force to contend with. In this increasingly complex world, the work required to make it powerful AND simple is large, and few companies both get it and are willing and able to do something about it to do things RIGHT.
While the iPod's hardware specs were good but not incredible, it was the user interface and experience that made it sell like hotcakes - the scroll wheel interface was really good, and the iTunes ease of use and power made the whole package rock, and people bought it, used it, got it, and never wanted to go back to the other way.
And that's why I bought a big fat gob of Apple late last year at 65.
Studio Daily | Gorilla 4 Film Production Software Released at MacWorld: "Jungle Software announced today the immediate availability of Gorilla 4. Gorilla, the first film production software ever specifically designed for independent filmmakers to help them manage their film projects, now welcomes the ultra-indie market, the underground, YouTube generation of filmmakers with the release of version 4 and the concurrent placement of Gorilla in Apple Stores nationwide."
It is $400, I've never used this - have any of you folks? Sounds like they are chasing after the HD4NDs crowd full-on, but I don't know the details.
Whaddaya folks think who've used it in the past? Sound off with the Comments link below.
update - save 20%
To take advantage of the discount however, you need to purchase any Gorilla downloadable product from our online store and use the code:
Use this code upon checkout. It will be valid until January 31st. That means you can save $79.80 off of a Gorilla Pro edition.
They have some new FireWire and USB 2 & combo cards, but that's not particularly exciting.
Ones we care about:
Tempo SATA E2P - a two port version of the E4P it would seem, at nearly 1/4 the price -only $80. Supports port multiplying. This would probably suffice for a lot of people, and if you needed to attach more drives, just get the bigger card. Ships February.
Fusion R400Q rack mount SATA drive enclosure - hot swap, four interfaces - USB 2.0, FireWire 400 & 800, and eSATA. Built in power supply, does port multiplying. Comes empty so you buy your own drives, letting you find the best deal on storage that works for you (I like that). Two or three of these in a rack is a very interesting possibility. No price as yet, ships 1Q 2007.
I like this one a LOT - 1U for four drives with port multiplying interface - nice!
Gives a good idea of what's possible with a $300K budget doc.
Thanks to both Josh and Mathew Jeppsen (of FresHDV.com) for pointing this article out to me.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Gollum says "Mmmm....iPrecious!"
Actually, I had so much fun with that I made some more, viewable here.
I sooooo want one of these. Here's some more info:
AppleInsider | High-quality images of Apple's iPhone (hardware)
AppleInsider | High-quality images of Apple's iPhone (software)
AppleInsider | Apple stuns Macworld crowd with multi-function iPhone device
Apple's iPhone main page
the "As an iPod page"
the "As an internet appliance page"
the tech overview page
the tech specs page
It runs OS X, it has WiFi, it has groovy sensors.
And of course, after all the marketing speak, the tech specs:
The straight scoop -
it is about 4 1/2 by 2 1/2 by a half inch
320x480 screen at 160 pixels/inch
runs OS X (!!!)
for phone usage, quad band GSM
for wireless data, can do 802.11b/g as well as EDGE (Cingular's) as well as Bluetooth 2.0
5 hours of talk/video/browsing battery life, 16 hours if just playing back audio (how long on phone standby?)
4.8 ounces/135 grams
As an iPod, they've updated the UI to work with the Multi Touch user interface - you just touch, click, drag, and toss to get around the UI. Watch the video (link above) to get a sense of how it works - the slickest iPod UI yet, by using the entire screen as a big touch interface, any location can be an interface element - much like the screen & mouse interface we use in OS X on desktops. What's that? Oh yeah - this is running some kind of cut down OS X.
The UI looks stunningly good, the features are great. My friend Charlie Wood (see his feelings on the matter here) sent me this chart which sums up the financial markets' take on the matter as well, so apparently Charlie and I aren't the only ones that think Apple's gonna kick butt with this:
(click for larger view)
If you can't make out the details, don't sweat it - it is the percentage change just for the day between Apple (blue line on top), Nokia & Motorola (the two middlish lines, seemingly unaffected much, down 2% for the day); Palm (yellowy orange line, down 6% for the day) and RIMM (maker of Blackberry, down 8% for the day, same as Apple...but in the other direction).
Right about 12:15 RIMM tips over and starts a power dive, and after an odd sharp drop, Apple took off starting at about 12:40, and kept going until about 1:50 (note the high volume indicated at bottom of graph).
........and BLAH - too much to cover, just go check it all out. Doesn't ship until June, not for sale until FCC clears it (a 2 month process, dunno when/if that started), $499 for 4GB model, $599 for 8GB model, both those prices with 2 year contract.
thoughts on iPhone -
It's a communicator, its a video iPod, it's a phone
-killer great UI
-iTunes is the universal syncing point now - besides audio and video from iTunes, also contacts, calendars, notes, pictures, bookmarks and email accounts (woah!)
-the dock is a little different, but still an iPod dock connector
-until you see video, hard to tell how rounded all the edges are (good move Apple!) - looks very comfy to hold, like a river rock
-3.5" screen (measured diagonally), 160 pixels/inch high density screen
-one oddness - the speaker and microphone are both on the bottom - will others hear your conversation? Or are you dependent on the headphones with built-in microphone? This may be one weakness of the system - if you want to carry it around as a phone and not deal with the headphones, using as "just a phone" could be a pain
-the clean lines of the unit are super clean from a design perspective, but potentially a hassle in the real world - the unit cries out for some kind of a flip top protective cover to prevent scratching the face, as well as a means of managing all that loose wire of headphones. Are bluetooth headphones/microphone coming up soon? The bluetooth earpiece, with a retractable cord second earbud, would be useful.
Will the Cisco trademark deal mandate by legal fiat (rather than technical limitations) that you won't be able to do Skype or other VOIP or iChat or similar?
-I'm finally watching the keynote video - when in keyboard mode (such as for SMS texting, or any other mode where you need a keyboard) can you turn it sideways to get a BIGGER keyboard? So that is can use the 480 pixels wide, not the 320 wide in vertical mode?
-Google Maps - can find stuff...can it give driving directions as well? GPS (bluetooth or wired via dock connector) would be super groovy addition! Tom Tom, are you listening?
-the headphone mike/switch is a good idea, but seems to presume you'll live with them in - the bluetooth headset thing is slick as well, finally doesn't look like a bad Deep Space Nine prop
-AppleInsider | Cingular to be exclusive US Carrier for Apple iPhone - so no Verizon or anybody else for quite some time - a multi-year deal
-OK, so it is possible to write more apps - what's the API? Where's the SDK? How soon can third party developers start making apps for this?
-My gut says that the details will be revealed at WWDC, as yet unscheduled, but May/June is a likely timeframe (unless that gets pushed back due to Leopard being even later than expected) - the dev tools for iPhone will be revealed and demoed at WWDC
-but some third party developers are already on it - my friend Charlie Wood, whose Spanning Systems makes a Google Calendar to iCal syncing piece of software, already issued a press release stating they'll support it syncing between Google calendar, iCal on your Mac, and iPhone's calendar. Nice job, Charlie!
-so, did EVERYONE lose at MWSF bingo?
yeah, this is a mess until I can clean it up...
further thoughts/questions post MWSF:
After a day, other questions are starting to pop up about the Apple TV and iPhone. Some of my favorites:
-can you stream from iPhone to Apple TV, either over dock/USB cable or wirelessly?
-can you use the iPhone as a remote for the Apple TV?
-what chip is in Apple TV, and why isn't SDTV supported? (I'm guessing a slower Core Solo chip and built in graphics to keep the manufacturing cost so low).
-where's the API and SDK for the OS X in the iPhone?
-what hardware is iPhone running on, as in what processor?
-they say it is OS X - obviously, it must be some kind of modified and presumably cut down version - exactly how feature complete is it?
-where are the other apps for iPhone, like mini-Word/PowerPoint/Excel or their iWork matches? (Are we waiting for iPhone/Mac matched versions of iWork?) - or maybe that is why we DIDN'T see new versions - waiting for Leopard and iPhone, and it'll all be a kit that works together?
-iPhone speaker and microphone are BOTH at the same end - will this phone work as expected if you just hold it up to your ear? Will others be hearing your conversations on that speaker?
-how loud is that speaker? Can you speakerphone with it? play music at your desk and hear it at all reasonably (good enough for podcast listening at least?)
-will Cisco's trademark on iPhone limit what Apple can offer to do with the iPhone in terms of VOIP/Skype?
-can you turn the unit sideways and get a wider keyboard, or are some functions locked to a vertical orientation?
The iPhone is not a smartphone - Engadget
and these are especially good - Gizmodo iPhone Hands-On: I Called My Mommy - Gizmodo, and this one answers some of my questions - Gizmodo iPhone Hands On Part Deux: Why Isn't it White and Other Questions - Gizmodo
As for clearance with Cisco, oops, I spoke too soon - Paul Alvarado pointed out that while Apple and Cisco had been in negotiations, they ended at 8pm the night before without resolution, and yet Steve Jobs went ahead and used the "iPhone" moniker without permission - details here about the lawsuit Cisco filed against Apple today. Interesting, could be interpreted in many ways - ways Steve Jobs just exhibiting major brass ones by going ahead and using the name without clear permission? Or was Cisco leading Apple on, and yanked the rug out at the last minute so as to garner significant media attention for their own products, that I'd never heard of? Legally, Cisco is in the vastly superior position.
AppleInsider | Macworld: Intel says it's not supplying chip for Apple iPhone: "'We are not providing the silicon inside the iPhone,' Intel spokesman Bill Kirkus told Reuters. 'We are providing the silicon inside the Apple TV.'"
Daring Fireball: At ARM's Length - maybe it is an ARM processor in the iPhone?
THIS IS GOOD AND NEW
The Ultimate iPhone Frequently Asked Questions - Pogue's Posts - Technology - New York Times Blog
David Pogue got some good skinny straight from Apple on how the iPhone is going to work.
Got so many questions, he even did a Part 2.
Digit Online - 20 questions about iPhone - Jan 16, 2007
rentzsch.com: iPhone vs. Treo - Jan 16 as well
AppleInsider | PiperJaffray takes a closer look at Apple's iPhone - interesting nitty gritty on biz side and market potential of first gen iPhone - which will, I predict, in 6-9 months after release, seem ridiculously expensive and underfeatured.
If you don't know about it, you can read my geek summary here, or Apple's page on it is here.
Or watch the Steve Jobs Macworld 2007 Keynote.
I started hypothesizing about this kind of a device back in August of 2005, about a year and a half ago.
While I got the functionality mostly right, I got the form factor wrong - I figured it would be a big wall wart, they have it as a small set top box (with a hard drive included as well)
Is it worth it?
In its current incarnation as offered, frankly I think not (although I'm buying one...and I don't have a suitable TV - what does that say about me?)
For many folks, this is really a movie box - you pay $300 for the box, you have to have a computer, a broadband internet connection, and then...it doesn't look as good as a DVD.
...and there are no extras, and you can't take it to your friend's house and play it there, and it only works on widescreen TVs, and it costs 6 times more than a basic DVD player, and the movie selection is tiny, and....why is this a good idea again?
There's a good story I heard from a venture capital guy once - aspirin vs vitamins. When you travel, the little bitty store in the hotel has aspirin for nine bucks for 4 pills. You grumble, but you pay for it - because you NEED it (OK, you just really WANT it, but you get my point). You'll notice they don't sell vitamins in those hotel mini-stores. Why? Because people buy what they NEED. Vitamins are good for you, a good idea, etc., but there is no core NEED. The VC's point was that you want to offer people aspirin, not vitamins.
All the other extra features, like streaming audio with a nice interface, looking at your pictures on the HDTV, being able to watch your purchased TV shows that you couldn't get anywhere else....those are all arguably just vitamins or things you get get some other way.
But on second thought...I do think there will be a subset of the population, me included, that would be happy with the iTV STRICTLY as a premium iTunes interface for their audio collection, with photo display as a bonus. TV/movie viewing is just gravy on top of that. And for right now, I think that is the ONLY way to see this as a possible success. Prepare to see this marketed as "iTunes on your TV, including movies" not "Hey watch downloaded movies on your TV!" With the really nice UI and great integration for audio content access, suddenly the perceived value goes up.
NOW...if they offer 720p downloadable HD movies, that changes the formula ENTIRELY.
Based on this article dealing with viewing distance, screen size and resolution, and knowing that most HDTV panels are actually under 1400x800 pixels at best (many are only 1024xsomething), 720p makes a whole lot of sense. Plus, 720p is a much more manageable download than 1080p.
SO...if Apple were to offer 720p resolution downloadable movies on a $300 device that also had some other fringe benefits (like viewing all your pictures easily, and a good interface to play back all your music) that would suddenly be a MUCH more compelling option than spending $500-$1500 for an HD playback device (Blu-ray or HD-DVD) that you didn't know if it was going to "win" the format war in a few years. Of course, Apple would also need to get additional studios beyond just Paramount (whom I hear is only offering older movies at this point in time, probably to test how well the encryption can or can't be circumvented)
HD movies would probably take up about 2-3 times as much space as the current standard def movies, that are taking up about a gig and a half for full length features (1.4 to 1.75 GB for the 3 I have at present on this box).
They could at least be potentially competitive with HD movies. And I'll betcha lunch that HD movies come out in the first half of this year, or surely this calendar year.
And I think their intent is clearly to head in that direction - as with everything iTunes, Apple eases their way into it - you'll notice they first did itunes based music videos (in low res), then TV shows, then movies, then jumped to SD resolutions. At the same time, Apple started phasing in high def movie trailers - wisely practicing to see how well the infrastructure, from servers to bandwidth, could handle it.
So, on to other features...
-EDTV or HDTV only - this will be a crunch point that a lot of people won't get - it wasn't until I heard EDTV that I got suspicious and decided to check it out - a regular 4:3 TV will not, Not, NOT work with Apple TV as far as I can tell. So that'll filter a bunch of folks out who just wanted to watch movies in SD on their existing sets, and also have a good interface for iTunes and Photos. Poop on us, apparently. From a technical standpoint, I can see why they wanted to only support progressive devices (or progressive signals at least with hardware adding 3:2 pulldown to take the 24p to 60p or 60i)
-it has a USB port for....what? Direct connect? More HD space? I could certainly see running out of room for the stuff I'd want stashed on it. While your boot drive on your primary linked computer is the real depository for all your content - but it'd be nice to be able to plug in a USB drive with ALLLLL of your stuff - and for power users, I see them exceeding 40 GB FAST - I have 20 GB of pictures on my laptop already, however many older ones, 50 GB of MP3/AAC files, 10 GB of purchased movies and TV shows....that's 80 GB already, twice the capacity of this device, and I haven't seriously started buying or converting video content yet
Speaking of video content, what formats does it support? Obviously encrypted H.264, as well as unencrypted H.264, and that's all they are listing for now. So playing your DVDs from your computer to stream the data to the Apple TV is NOT an option...because Apple wants you buying THEIR versions of the movies!
-Somebody once asked me if I thought Apple would add DVR capabilities - not on their life - Apple wants to sell you shows for $2-4 a pop, not let you record them for free...
-and I wonder if they will ever offer a way to download directly to the Apple TV, without a Mac or PC involved? Will they ever offer an IPTV or other streaming solution, or is it forever just a media extender? It is sort of inbetween since it has that 40GB drive as a cache.
-speaking of which, whatcha wanna bet that you can't copy files off of the Apple TV, even if you shagged your drive with all your source material on it?
-uses Apple Remote, same as for laptops and iPods...and for this usage, it strikes me as kinda lame/thin on buttons and features - hey, will there be an iPhone app to use the iPhone as a remote for the apple tv? THAT would be cool!
-and speaking of iPhone, can you stream content from iPhone to the Apple TV directly with no other devices included? Maybe just a WiFi router? Or dock it and direct connect it over USB?
-no A/V cables provided - get your own (kinda lame)
-I mis-stated content capacity earlier based on live commentary from the keynote - it'll hold up to 50 hours of STANDARD DEF content
-and when they DO get high def content, how long to download? Because clearly, you have to wait until it is all the way there before you can start to watch it. In theory, Apple could get clever with some progressive download stuff to let you start watching before it is all downloaded, streaming the already downloaded portion while writing the incoming stuff to disk.
So what does this mean for indies?
Not much for quite some time. Due to the limited audience this will have, straight up DVDs are going to be your best distribution option for quite some time. Get'em on Amazon and Netflix and that's about the broadest first step you can do on your own without a "real" distributor. But that's another rant.
So again, back to the "Is it worth it?" question, after a few hours reflection - it all depends on what you see as the primary value of the device:
If you see it as strictly a movie player, then DVDs are a MUCH better option.
If you are fully into watching TV shows you missed, and don't have a DVR or didn't record them, then it has some value, but $300 is a stretch.
If you see it as a premium iTunes interface to get your audio into the living room and let you use a big screen as the interface and let you use a remote, suddenly it gains a LOT of value,especially compared to the other options on the market (as they don't play back purchased iTunes content usually). And on top of that, you can see your pictures, podcasts, and download movies? That's how this device will have to be marketed to be successful, or perceived as valid/viable.
UPDATE - yet more further thoughts - but after thinking about it a bit more, this product is really just a media extender - it just lets you do your iTunes thang at a distance, with a widescreen TV interface. An interesting experiment I need to try - if I set up one of my old G4s as a media server, and use my Macbook (without having to store ALL of my media on it) as the interface to the TV, can I not get all the functionality of Apple TV? And get that today? I have an s-video adaptor for my Macbook already, and it has Front Row, the basis upon which the Apple TV UI is built...wanna bet the Front Row experience in Leopard is going to pretty much match what we get here? Come to think of it, that dual 2.0 GHz G5 doesn't do much these days...I could just use that, with the Front Row patch, and I have a 17 button IR remote I could configure...
AppleInsider | Macworld: High-quality photos of Apple TV and software interface
-Paramount added about 100 movies, but not their latest
It is a box that will stream iTunes content (audio and video) and pictures from a Mac or PC to this little device that attaches directly to a TV. So pretty much any old Mac or PC that can run the latest iTunes and is on broadband and can either connect wired (Ethernet) or wirelessly (WiFi in house) to the living room/den where the TV is can feed media.
-connects to Mac or PC
-streams content from iTunes to the device over WiFi (including draft spec 802.11n) or Ethernet
-plays anything in your iTunes library - "movies, TV shows, music, and podcasts — plus movie trailers from Apple.com on your TV. And your digital photos from iPhoto on a Mac or Adobe Photoshop Elements or Adobe Album on a Windows PC appear in high definition, so you can put on a stunning big-screen slideshow."
-you download movies (or rip'em or get'em however), Sync to between your Mac/PC to the box, then watch, controlling with the unimpressive Apple remote
Connect to TV
If you have a widescreen TV - an EDTV or HDTV, but NOT a regular standard definition 4:3 TV (as I have, I now note with chagrin after ordering one of these).
-can connect via HDMI for full digital interconnect
-can connect via component analog as well for picture, or RCA pair or optical audio interconnects for sound
-has USB port for....what? Direct connect? More HD space?
-works with widescreen, EDTV (enhanced def TV) or HDTVs with 1080i, 720p, 576p, or 480p resolutions.
-Note that does NOT include 480i or 576i for SDTVs
-they have a list of supported manufacturers: HP, Mitsubishi, Pioneer, Sharp, Hitachi, NEC, Polaroid (?), Toshiba, JVC, Olevia, Samsung, Vizio, LG, Pholips, Sony, & Westinghouse
-CAN create a wireless network from your computer straight to it the apple tv
-you need a Mac or PC, iTunes 7.1 or later, wired or wireless network, and a widescreen (NOT regular) TV, and cabling to connect'em
Apple TV syncs wired or wirelessly with iTunes - pretty much like an iPod does. And like an iPod, one computer is the master sync - although up to 5 others can be the streaming source (why limit it? I don't get it)
-Sync it up to get the unwatched TV shows and movies, music, etc. But you only have 40 GB of capacity in the unit - I've already got about 50 GB of music, and 10 GB of TV shows and movies on my various Macs - so you clearly won't be able to always get your full collection on there
Apple's page on syncing
-smal unit - 7.7x7.7x1.1 inches
-uses Apple Remote, same as for laptops and iPods...and for this usage, it strikes me as kinda lame/thin on buttons and features - hey, will there be an iPhone app to use IT as a remote for the apple tv? THAT would be cool!
-no A/V cables provided - get your own (kinda lame)
-weighs 2.4 pounds
-an unspecified Intel processor - Viiv?
-40GB hard drive, so formats to about 37 GB
-Windows version XP home/pro SP2 required for PCs, 10.3.9 or later for Macs
-has IR receiver, too for the remote
-Video formats supported - iTunes Store 640x380 30 fps progressive, HD up to 1280x720 24 fps - therefore no 60fps or 30 fps HD content (!!!)
-audio formats - AAC, MP3/VBR, ALAC, AIFF, WAV
-picture formats supported - JPEG, BMP, FIG, TIFF, PNG
Apple's tech specs page
This is all just prelude, so I can get to my commentary on it, coming up shortly...here.
watch the Steve Jobs Macworld 2007 Keynote
KEYNOTE NOTES: - this is being live updated now that Blogger is back up - keep checking back, I'll update every little bit as we go
this report compiled from reports at:
Apple pages on apple tv and iphone
and watch the Steve Jobs Macworld 2007 Keynote
After being there last year, feels a little dissapointing to not be there right now, when they are (finally, hopefully) making the announcements I expected last year.
There is no live broadcast, so I'm waiting for various pages to update live with results, at the moment www.macrumorslive.com seems to be the most available feed - MacWorld appears to be totally over-run with traffic, and doesn't report very thoroughly.
Due to Blogger's excellent timing to do maintenance this morning (what with CES and MWSF going on), I can't live blog this, so I'll just hit the highlights that matter to us:
-kudos to macrumorslive.com for the best live coverage page - SOMETHING every few minutes just so we know it is working, and the page auto-refreshes every minute, with a counter at the top to let you know so you aren't sitting there madly clicking refresh. Meanwhile, stodgy old MacWorld wasn't reported anything yet, and you have to manually refresh the page. Harrumph...
Scares me with "2007 is going to be a great year for the Mac, but this is all we're going to talk about the Mac today," he added" as reported by MacWorld, MacOSRumors reports it as "we're only talking about the mac today" - so no new Macs?
ITUNES IMOVIE STORE
Paramount has now joined Disney in offering movies - this is a major coup, (I bet the others will fall in line now). Over 350 TV shows are offered, 50M TV shows sold. As for movies, over 250 are now offered on iTunes, sold 1.3M movies in first 4 months. Oh - and 2 billion songs sold on iTunes - in 2006 over 1 billion in 10 months - 5M songs/day, 58 songs/sec sold.
ITV/APPLE TV - is now called Apple TV
-buy content on iTunes
-wirelessly transmits to TV
-USB2, Ethernet, WiFi, HDMI output, digital audio output too
-720p HD video
-40 GB hard drive
-(those last two are new stats - with HDMI, I knew it had to do HDTV)
-(so maybe a 1080p capable next year?)
-802.11b/g/n (as expected, the new fast format)
-auto sync content to 1 PC, keeps most recent movies on the 40GB drive
-5 systems can stream content, but syncs to only 1 (makes sense)
-use the Apple remote (is it the same as the laptop/iPod one? That one is weak)
-streaming content is not stored, nor can it be stored on Apple TV (I'm sure there will be ways around that on a Mac!)
-works like Front Row, no great surprise there - can stream 720p movie trailers (!! - that certainly bodes well for 720p downloadable movies)
-movies, TV shows, podcasts, music, and your pictures
-iLounge - has episode summary text on screen, chapter nav
-can store 50 hours of 720p content (wow), thus 740 KB/sec
-have to authorize to be one of the 5 machines it can stream content from
-this sounds pretty good - I have a laptop and 3 G5s and 2 G4s - I'll lump all content on one cheap machine and serve from there
-CoverFlow runs as a screensaver to prevent burn-in
-ships in February, taking orders today (so I'll go order one ASAP)
NEXT UP - WIDESCREEN VIDEO IPOD, IPOD PHONE, AND INTERNET COMMUNICATOR...ALL IN ONE DEVICE - iPhone
(dammit, I can already tell I'm going to want to get one...)
-(does have a rotary dial if you want it!)
-Steve pooh-poohed the "smart" phones that are hard to use, spent years on this product
-Jobs talks about apps want different UIs, if you go with a traditional button keyboard, is complicated
-nobody wants a stylus (it is a complicating intermediary)
-can use multiple finger touches (not just one at a time), it ignores accidental touches, can do multifinger gestures (patented)
-iPhone runs OS X (obviously a cut down version of it)
-"iPhone uses Mac OS X. Power management, networking, security, apps, Core Animation, audio/video. Built into iPhone. Allows creation of desktop-class applications." - OK, wow..."not the cripled stuff you find on most phones"
-the WHOLE FRONT is one big screen, a smooth flat surface
-syncs with iTunes, of course - syncs contacts, calendar, pics, notes, bookmarks, email
-clean, simple - 3.5" screen, 160 pixels/inch - therefore 560 pixels across (damn - nearly SD wide!)
-one button on front, 11.6mm thick
-has iPod dock connector on bottom, headphone jack on top
-can tell when you bring it to your ear w/proximity sensor (wow) - to dim screen and music
-ambient light sensor
-(and with that big front screen, highly scratchable I'll bet! need a flip-top cover?)
-detects whether being held in portrait or landscape mode
-CINGULAR logo, so that's the partner
-coverflow to get through music
-WOW - this blows every other phone out of the water - and I'll betcha you can plug it into a TV as well - so if it plays video, how big is the hard drive/solid state?
-acceleromter for drop sensing to park hard drive
-dashboard like interface - click on what you want to do
-unlock by sliding finger across bottom
-"On one side, the iPhone sports a ring/silent switch, volume up and down controls. On its silver back side is a 2 megapixel digital camera. The bottom features a speaker, microphone and iPod dock connector"
-GSM+EDGE phone -no 3G! (3G will come in future Steve said)
-(what about the communication features? Is there a "soft" QWERTY keyboard mode for text & email?
-can conference call
-WiFi & bluetooth 2.0
-(Man, what is this thing going to cost? I'm guessing $350-$500...more? Or is Steve going to surprise us? I'm betting the price will blow the crap out of everything else on the market)
-can random access voicemail (THANK GOD - I have 9 messages stacked up on my home phone...)
-SMS, calendar, contacts, etc. all in there
-can hold or "private" during conference calls
-can do multiple SMS sessions simultaneously
-error correcting keyboard when in message mode - does bubbles like iChat
-does photos like iPhoto
-using MultiTouch, you can pinch/squeeze pics bigger/smaller - WOW - these guys F'IN GET what a simple user interface is supposed to be all about - you just get in there and DO it, without intermediaries.
-I don't see any email checking capabilities - too bad!
-oops - here we go
-WOW - Google maps, on your phone! (wonder if there will be a GPS adaptor that connects via the Dock connector?)
-rich HTML based mail
-pop or imap, anybody's
-widgets (what all will that bring?)
-EDGE & WiFi that switches automatically
-MAIL - works with Yahoo as well
-free imap email for all iphone customers (what about .mac mail? YES, and MS Exchange as well!)
-mail, Safari, google maps - you can surf, somewhat, on this thing!
-syncs with PC or Mac (but I'll betcha Macs sync more/better)
-widgets - weather and stocks
-mail looks like Apple mail - same icons and stuff
-in Safari, can load portrait or landscape just by turning the unit
-(my mental price keeps going up - $500 minimum is my guess right now!)
-loads up NYTimes, scales ENTIRE page to fit on screen, pinch gesture to zoom in/out, can double tap to zoom in
-can load multiple web pages simultaneously as well
-Jobs saying "this is a revolution of the first order" - it certainly is leaps and bounds beyond other phones - but how speedy is all this? I'll have to see it in action. I wonder what processor it is using? If decoding video, not to shabby I'd imagine - or is that a custom ASIC?
-also, IT KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE (how? cell towers? GPS?) - it finds Moscone and he finds a nearby Starbucks - and calls it
-there will be LOTS to discuss about this phone!
-Google Maps stuff is touch screen aware - can click drag etc - sounds a bit like a Google Earth app somewhat - is this right?
-"internet in your pocket"
-Apple clearly partnering more and more with Google, but also with yahoo (yeah...where is Google Mail?)
-Yahoo search built in (and Google search? In Safari?)
-Yahoo Go mail, spam and protection big for them
-jerry yang got up on stage (so did Scmidt of Google)
-when a call comes in, the music fades down
-can scroll through photos while on phone, and email to somebody WHILE in a call!
-my own pull quote - "DUDE! I want one! I want it in my clutchey little paws as soon as humanly possible!"
-oh, and you can be speakerphoning too!
-Now thinking $599?
-when call ends, music fades back in
-comparing to blackberry and others...yeah...(ahem...cough...)
-ACCESSORIES - comes with iPod head phones that have a tiny microphone and switch to answer phone and talk as well (so can leave phone in pocket!)
-5 hours of battery life for talk, video, and browsing, 16 for just audio playback
-sleek little bluetooth headset, looks like a pen cap
-over 200 patents in it
-teasing about price now...what's the capacity, dammit! He hasn't said yet...says a 4GB nano is $200...so is it a 4GB device? Seems to be -
-8GB $599 (hey! Nailed it!)
-both prices w/2 year contract
-FCC approval takes 2 months
-shipping late June
-(I'm sniffing that no new Macs today - it is all iPhone, and Octo-macs a separate announcement i a few weeks?)
-Cingular exclusive US partner
-Europe Q4 this year, Asia 2008
-buy at Apple or cingular stores (apple store is still down at moment), online or brick and mortar for both - so lots of choices
-Cingular AT&T sloppy kisses...yeah yeah yeah...DON'T CARE except that I already have them as a service provider
(If you have a lot of photos, or want any decent video capacity, 8GB is clearly the way to go - I'm mildly surprised not a hard drive in this thing, but that certainly helps size, power draw, and other stuff...then again, 32GB solid state hard drives are $600 retail this year...so next year a $700 32GB solid state model maybe?)
-Mac observer says it appears that apple will support the phone, not Cingular (interesting point of differentiation, plus I think Apple would do a better job anyway)
-goal is 1% of market - that's 10M phones
-from this day forward, Apple, Inc., not Apple Computer
--looks like we're all losing Stevenote bingo - the iPhone, Apple TV, and Paramount movie stuff were really the only three new things as far as I'm concerned.
-are we getting a One More Thing?
-Nope....John Mayer playing, maybe he's playing everybody out and that's it?
-Apple Store still down...
NO NEW MACS TODAY!
And dammit, Blogger is STILL down and I'm already late for an appointment...will post ASAP when I get back!
OK back, and Apple also quietly did a couple of other things - recently shipped Core 2 Duo based Macs have 802.11n wireless hardware, and a software update will enable that functionality. A new Airport Extreme base station, at $179, has 802.11a/b/g/draft n capabilities, 1 USB port for printer or disk sharing, 1 WAN port, 3 10/100 LAN ports
UPDATE SINCE I POSTED
-The phone is not for sale, and won't be for a while
-a Bluetooth GPS puck for GPS nav is not out of the question
-OK, if it is running a version of OS X, what processor is it?
-is it possible to write third party apps for it, such as GPS functionality? A Tom Tom app w/GPS puck would solve just about all my mobile electronic desires
-apple tv does not have a dock connector as rumored
-since iPhone was WiFi, can you stream wirelessly from iPhone to apple tv?
-thus does an iPhone "count" as one of the blessed 5? Or does it have to be a Mac it sources from?
-why limit to 5 devices that can stream to it? I would think this would prevent friends from bringing a movie over on their laptop to stream to the apple tv - why NOT support that functionality?
-or is it just 5 at a time? I don't see why the limitation - think of the social benefit of having a dorm apple tv, for instance - anybody can stream to it from their whichever laptop...
-more in another article coming soon...
-Apple Remote SUCKS - so can you use iPhone as a remote for apple tv?
Monday, January 08, 2007
Least expensive RAID 5 capable solution I've seen, now supports G5s and Mac Pros with the PCIe card. 4 bay SATA enclosure. In RAID 5 config, however, too slow to sustain uncompressed HD speeds through entire capacity of volume.
On sale for $1000 at the moment, goes up to $1300 soon. Empty chassis, you provide drives. So could have about 2TB formatted RAID 5 capacity if using 750 GB discs, maybe suitable for 8 bit 4:2:2 1080p24 or certainly for 720p24 uncompressed 8 or 10 bit if it does stutter on playback (the raw throughput should be capable). But good for all compressed HD playback in THEORY, I haven't tested this unit yet. Can you stripe two of them together? That would be interesting IF it worked - two of these at $1000 each, plus 8 $350 750 GB drives would be $4800 for a RAID 5 with 4.16TB of formatted capacity, capable of sustaining uncompressed HD throughputs through all of its capacity (I'd guess at least 210 MB/sec sustained).
Roxio - Roxio Launches RecordNow 9 Music Lab Premier
: "Innovative New Capabilities and Mac Platform Firsts Include: TiVoToGo, Blu-ray Disc Burning, Disc Cataloging, Cross-Platform Data Spanning and Recovery, and Advanced Audio Tools"
TiVO integration, conversion for iPod or PSP, Blu-ray burning, cross platform data spanning (nice for backing up those big data files if you have to on discs), and a bunch of other stuff. $100 new, upgrades available.
Sounds like a good update worth having.
You really have no excuse to not have enough storage, or backups, for your projects now.
SoftRAID is a product I've written about many times before, it allows you to set up a RAID on your Mac. Apple's own Disk Utility does this as well, but SoftRAID offers more options for partitioning and block sizes.
New in this version is bootability for Intel Macs, and this version is Tiger only.
Also, SoftRAID does striped reads on a RAID 1 for better performance. Read this link for more info on why SoftRAID.
Everything you wanted to know about Port Multiplying SATA enclosures and performance. EVERYTHING, including up to 20 drive, 2 card setups.
Want 1000 MB/sec sustained transfers? This article tells you how.
If anybody wants to know anything about Sonnet Tempo E4P based RAIDs, this is where I will send them. Different drives, different enclosures, different configs, performance at X% full, etc.
"The first 30 years was just the beginning."
Uh-huh, OK, so what then?
I'm not going to be finding out firsthand after all - I went last year thinking I'd see an Airport A/V, but was too early - tomorrow we'll probably learn more about iTV.
My predictions for new stuff:
1.) Octo-Macs - 8 processor Macs, twin quad core
2.) iTV - more details, YES it'll do HD, HD movie downloads in 2007, whether stated or not at MWSF
3.) widescreen video iPod - depends on if they got more movie studios queued up
4.) iPhone - maybe, but I'm not too terribly concerned about it (although I'll probably get the second rev smart phone with full keyboard) - I predict strong .Mac and OS X sync integration, which should be way cool.
I'll blog on it as it is available. I've been out of town for a few days - is there a live SteveCast over the internet? Somebody post a link if so and I'll give best updates I can.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
More details to follow once they are locked down.
I'll be at Sundance Jan 18-23, so if you're there and want to chat, or lock me down for a little consulting time, be happy to!
UPDATE - oops oops oops, I mis-stated the dates - I'll be speaking on Saturday the 20th, NOT the 22nd (which is a Monday, as Mark from OffHollywood so adroitly pointed out)
....so I've been out of town over the weekend, enjoying a thoroughly analog experience - no cell phone, no Internet, no blogging, outdoors, hiking, etc. Aaahhhh.....
So here's all the stuff that I coulda written more about but didn't:
AppleInsider | Macworld: Avid to launch Intel Mac open beta program: "'We expect to release a new Avid Open Beta program on Monday January 8, 2006 as our way of giving our Macintosh customers a first look at the exciting new software in development before it is released,' Avid reportedly told a select group of customers an an e-mail communication this week."
The company added that the beta program "is specifically for use on Apple?s new Intel-based Mac systems."
A tool that can do more than just add timecode - DV Guru: "FrameCalculator from Pomfort software does way more than the title implies. Besides being able to add and subtract time code, you can also use it to multiply and divide as well. You can choose from a variety of drop and non drop frame rates, calculate the total number of frames in a sequence, calculate the estimated disk space and capture time, as well as calculate the number of feet or meters of film."
Shooting With HDV: "Expert, Well-Tested Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your HDV Camera" - or so they claim - just power skimmed this one myself
Griptionary - OK, this looks damn handy for all those playing catchup on the lingo thrown around a set - a dictionary of film set terms (found via DVguru.com, long may the rock)
The ARRI Companion to Digital Intermediate - long and detailed and LOTS of good info - if you need a primer, here it is
Quantel - DI Guide Edition 2 - and read this one too! Keep in mind this is from a DI vendor so they will obviously steer you towards their solutions, but good overall info, just filter accordingly.
MOVIE STUDIOS OK BURN TO DVD PLAN:
Slashdot | Movie Studios OK Download-to-Burn DVDs: "The Associated Press is reporting that today movie studios have approved Sonic Solutions' technology Qflix, which allows people to download movies and burn them to DVDs that include CSS, the method of encryption that protects all pre-recorded DVDs sold today. According to a press release issued by Sonic Solutions, they will be demoing the technology by appointment at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 8th. " - this should be interesting to see how they pull this off, because one of the things DVD burners are coded not to do is burn CSS encoded data AFAIK. How is that getting circumvented? And the Slashdot article mentions limits on the number of times a movie can be played back - how the hell is that going to be done with read only media? Variables from the disc? That'd only limit # of plays on a given player, maybe at best AFAIK...
more on same:
New tech adds copy protection to burned movies - DV Guru: "In a move the studios are apparently really excited about, the Associated Press is reporting the MPAA has signed off on a technology from Sonic Solutions that allows legally downloaded movies to be burned to DVD. These average, everyday burned DVDs allow consumers to play them in their average, everyday players."
WARNER'S TOTAL HD - BLU-RAY AND HD-DVD ON SAME DISC
Warner Bros. DVD Will Play Rival Formats - New York Times - how will this work? Different sides of the disc have different formats? Different depths and semi-transparent layers? The two formats are massively incompatible with each other due to differing focal depths (0.1 vs 0.6mm if I recall correctly) and different laser spot sizes as well.
"Warner Bros. has also patented a disc that can contain three versions of a film -- one in each of the rival high-def formats and a third that can be viewed on standard definition players."
New Disc May Sway DVD Wars - New York Times - longer article on same
New disc may sway DVD wars | CNET News.com - another article on same thing
Not all is skittles and beer for existing players though - Sony encounters new Blu-Ray glitches - DV Guru: "It looks like more problems for Blu-Ray, and Sony this week, as several people are complaining about horror film 'The Descent' not working in their machines."
Cineon DPX Pro QuickTime Component 2.0.6a %u2013 Mac OS X %u2013 VersionTracker - I've mentioned this tool before, it converts DPX to/from QT files. New in this version: "Very minor changes. Included PPC fix -- Universal Binaries weren't working.More Bugfixes delivered.Licensing issues resolved.The first filename of a DPX sequence can now be used in FCP's Reel Name.SMPTE Userbits can also be used as FCP's reel name."
LaCie - 6 new products announced - of interest to us:
LaCie - d2 Blu-ray Drive - USB 2.0 & FireWire - Mac/Win, Roxio software comes with, but we're still lacking authoring tools for Blu-ray AFAIK - DVD SP does HD-DVD format, not Blu-ray yet, $1150, shipping "late January"
LaCie - d2 Quadra Hard Drive - eSATA, FireWire 800, FireWire 400 & USB 2.0
LaCie - Ethernet Big Disk - simple network storage, good for backups, too slow for working with video directly AFAIK, 1TB $500, shipping in February
LaCie - Ethernet Disk RAID - Gigabit Ethernet: "The Ethernet Disk RAID comes with Gigabit Ethernet interface plus robust data protection, four hot-swappable drives, and RAID 0, 1, 5, 5 spare, and 10 support." - $1000 for 1TB model, RAID 5 would give 750 GB capacity
Thoughts on managing video - DV Guru: "With so many different media formats, it is no wonder management all of your assets can easily spin out of control. The Fidocam Blog offers some key points when putting together a management plan."
Wired interviews David Lynch - DV Guru: "'In one word, film is heavy. It's gone, just gone.'Wired has posted a big honking six page transcript from a recent interview with David Lynch, in which he discusses all things filmmaking, including his move to DV, and lots of other random stuff, in typical Lynchian fashion. "
Flip4Mac Drive-in: "Drive-in is an innovative application that allows you to store your personal DVD movie library on your Mac. It is now available as a public beta.
Using Drive-in you can create an image of a DVD disc on your laptop or home entertainment system. The image preserves the quality, navigation and special features of the original DVD and can be played using Apple%u2019s DVD Player or Front Row."
Thanks to Mark of OffHollywood for pointing me in this direction.
MacBreak episode: Conversations with Other Women - DV Guru: "MacBreak has a great episode, number 36, that you should check out. The guest is Kwesi Collisson, producer of Conversations with other Women. The movie was shot using the Sony CineAlta F900 and ediited with Final Cut Pro."
Freeware preset tuner for Canon XHA1 and XHG1 - DV Guru: "Tweaking the factory presets for a better image can be a pain in camera. Luckily for the owners of the XHA1 and XHG1, Canon had the foresight to include a way to edit the settings on your computer with all of the adjustments in front of you. Unfortunately, the software costs an extra $600" - but there is a freeware alternative, follow the link for more on it.
Confessions of a Teenage Fanboy: Ten things I wish I had known before I switched to OS X. - I'm such an ingrained Mac Geek, I don't know notice some of this stuff. Recent or considering switcher? Some things to note.
What exactly does BackupHDDVD do? Oh, and version 1.0 is released. - Engadget - it backs up HD DVDs purportedly. Can't find confirmation that somebody else has successfully used it yet.
Product News: The Big View%u2014TV Trends in 2007 - Electronic House Info and Answers
Accelerate Your Macintosh! News Page - 1/4/07: "Sonnet E4P SATA Card Driver for Mac Pro - This may be old news to some but a reader with a Mac Pro (3GHz model) wrote he had a problem with a Sonnet E4P (PCI express, 4 external port) card being recognized in his Mac Pro and that a driver update solved it."
Why you should defrag - DV Guru - video stuttering during editing and you think it shouldn't be? Read this.
Bella Pro series 3.0 keyboard reviewed - DV Guru: "Bella recently released the new Bella Professional series 3.0 keyboard designed for video editors."
FresHDV | Fresh news & views for videographers, editors, filmmakers, directors, producers & creatives. : "Hitachi is the first to market with a Terabyte hard disk drive, the Deskstar 7K1000. The drive will be shown at the 2007 CES in Las Vegas."
General Specialist - Tips, Tricks and Tinkerings: Absolute Curves in After Effects: Beta-test This Cool Plugin
............aaaaaaaaaaaand that's all folks, that should help you procrasatinate on a Monday morning...
Friday, January 05, 2007
If my obsessive compulsive behavior catches up with me, I might issue a blogwad over the weekend, if not, I'll do it when I get back Sunday night.
The alarms, lay-zorrs, and trip mines are set around the G5s; the dogs are underfed and agitated (kidding), and I am outta here!
Stolen/copied/attributable to DVguru.com
....I never use it. so whoopee, but some may like it.
I'm about halfway through actually, you know, READING the book (see earlier post on DV Rebel's Guide). It is good, and tailored really for the ultra tight budget crowd. Stu includes some stuff he shot in the late 90s, and it just reminds me - DV is a looooooong way from film or high quality HD. But Stu's book is all about doing the best you can with what you've got, especially if what you've got amounts to three chords and the truth, and no two nickels to rub together.
Some of his points, however, about stealing shots are useful for bigger budgeted/crewed efforts as well - snag and animate a still rather than lugging a Techno-Crane out on a hillside for a single establishing shot, for instance.
I have a few tweaky tidbits I'd suggest in a coupla places, I'll pester Stu with those later (esp. on the retiming in AE stuff - there's quicker/shorter/fewer keystroke ways available!)
There are now three vendors - Samsung, TDK, and SanDisk that are offering 32GB solid state disks in a smaller-than-laptop hard drive sized form factor (1.8" form factor).
They are Ultra ATA interface, but that is a surmountable obstacle I should think. Read rate of 62 MB/sec, write rate not mentioned so obviously lower, but that is cool and good news.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Price point? If it is $1000, NOT helping! It needs to make sense. The point of a combo player is to make it a safe investment - if it is still pricey as hell, who wants it? More specifically, who in LARGE BUYING NUMBERS will want it?
The fix to the problem is to have an affordable player that plays all formats...I declare Threshold 1 of $500 to get even semi-early adopters to join in, and $300 the tipping point at which heavy adoption will begin.
We are a loooooooong way from there.
And I don't think the manufacturers are prepared to offer anything at that price point from what I hear about manufacturing costs. I'm not saying they CAN build one for $300-$500, just that they NEED to in order to get people to buy in.
And if that gap between "can" and "will" stays as wide as it is now...neither tech will get adopted.
If I can get an upconverting DVD player for $170-$230 with HDMI output, HD-DVD and Blu-ray have a LOOOONG way to go in terms of dropping price points before consumers are going to care or risk their money. Oh, and that is if there was only one format - there's two competing formats? Forget it until resolved...
Some of the features from their website:
-Browse sequence-based and timecode-oriented with a unique info-timeline
-Open movie-typical file types such as DPX, Cineon, TIF in practically any resolution (PAL, HD, 2k, 4k, 6k)
-Change the SMPTE time codes and frame rates in headers of entire DPX image sequences
-Extract color-channels and inspect color with a selective RGB histogram
-Zoom and pan to see every single pixel even on smaller screens
-Apply Gamma- or LUT-based color linearization with custom presets
-Apply primary grading (basic RGB-grading capabilities for both linear and logarithmic color spaces)
-Playback-preview of image sequences on any machine using built-in QuickTime™ player
Looking through the feature list, it seems pretty detailed in the support of the stuff you'd want - for instance, when exporting a QuickTime, you can decide not only the frame size and codec, but also in and out points, zoom and crop, custom burn-in text, a batch render queue, all kinds of stuff.
You can linearize log footage, you can do basic grading, you can open multiple image sequences, you can bulk edit and adjust DPX metadata, all kinds of good stuff - this really smells like a professional's tool made by/for professionals.
And it is in beta, and you can sign up for the beta list.
So if you're working with image sequences, as opposed to QuickTime or AVI files, this sounds like a very, VERY promisingly useful tool.
Check out their site, they get points for lots of information and screen grabs and explanations.
Tip o' the hat to Mark for clueing me in to this one!
Whew! Finally! I'd heard rumor of this long ago, but couldn't reveal, but today it is official - Premiere is coming back to Mac!
To be demoed during MWSF (OK, maybe I SHOULD have decided to go), Adobe will be showing Adobe Premiere Pro, Encore DVD, and Soundbooth running on Macs for the first time. Intel Macs only though - while After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator will be Universal Binaries, PPro, Encore and Soundbooth (replaces Audition) will NOT running on PPC based Macs. The reason I've heard is that there is so much Intel optimized code for realtime performance tweaks, the development effort to have PPC versions was deemed not worth it.
Once again it'll be possible to buy the Adobe Production Studio on Macs and have the same apps available Mac & PC, with cross platform file compatibility (just don't expect all your Apple codecs to be readable on Windows systems).
One of the major benefits of the Adobe solution is the ability to hand around media and projects without having to pre-render, export, import, make your changes, render again, re-import into original app, yadda yadda.
Stu Maschwitz, author of the recently mentioned DV Rebel's Guide, is a big proponent of the Adobe solutution for the ease of interoperability and power of After Effects.
Expected to ship mid-2007, no pricing info released as yet, but I'd expect it to remain inline with current pricing at $1700 for the bundle that includes After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Audition, Encore, Illustrator, and Adobe Bridge.
Adobe had dropped support for Macs when they came out with Premiere Pro in 2003. Now that Apple is on Intel, that was the crucial piece to make it viable for Adobe to port it back to Mac.
Expect it to be feature for feature compatible with the Windows version (as much as possible), and of course expect new features over the current version as well for both platforms.
Expect to see near-final products demoed at NAB 2007 in Las Vegas in April - I'll be there.
Macworld: News: Adobe brings Premiere back to the Mac
UPDATE FRIDAY - more coverage with screen grabs
Adobe Goes Cross Platform
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Hmm....as Jim says, "Size matters..."
The Red One prototype as pictured has no LCD or EVF or battery, but is still a very small camera considering what it delivers.
Jim also has another picture from another viewing angle posted at:
Size matters... - Page 4 - Reduser.net
(same original pic and discussion at same link)
Really striking to see this in comparison - add a battery, swap out the optical port for the Red Flash module, add the LCD, and you've got yourself a lightweight package suitable for steadicam work. F900? 3:1:1, 1440x1080, 8 bit, 30p max....and over five times the price. Hmm. Which would you rather have?
Spike will be able to record 4K RAW up to 30p, or 2K RAW up to 60p in this kind of a portable, self contained config. Not bad!
Buy a Mac and Final Cut Express HD at the same time from the same vendor, and save/get $200.
Apple used to offer an upgrade to Final Cut Pro from FCE HD, is it still in place? The upgrade price used to be commensurate with the price difference between the two. In theory, if they still do this, you could save $200 and still have a copy of Final Cut Express HD. Somebody less lazy than me want to confirm that might still work?
Final Cut Express is a cut down version of Final Cut Pro, and only supports DV and HDV, only has 2 way not 3 way color corrector, doesn't do batch capture, doesn't edit HDV natively (transcodes to AIC), etc.
Hey Mike -
As part of a New Year's Resolution I've decided that I'm going to take the advice you posted earlier and go on a digital sabbatical sometime early this year. I've got a rough idea of the things I want to study, but I was wondering if you'd be able to post a suggested reading list on the site. You've already recommended one book this year that looks pretty good, so I'm curious what you'd recommend on the following subjects:
Codecs and Compression (from Uncompressed and Raw to YouTube and iPod videos - I want to know codecs inside and out.)
Audio Recording, Editing, and Mastering
3D modeling, animation, and integration with live action footage.
These are all subjects I have a basic level of understanding of, and even some competency, but if I'm going to spend a month in the woods I'd like to emerge fluent in all of these fields, or at least more confident. I thought that this might be a good subject for you to cover on the site, I'm sure I'm not the only guy making a resolution like this.
Thanks and have a happy New Year!
So that got me to thinking - let's all work together to put a list of these kinds of things together, OK?
Please submit your suggestions via the Comments link below, I'll update the article over time and add it to the FAQ so that we all have a place to refer to. I'm looking for books and websites that cover these topics. Off the top of my head, I've added some below:
Codecs and Compression (from Uncompressed and Raw to YouTube and iPod videos - I want to know codecs inside and out.)
One River codec site, link on the Great HD Links at top right of blog. Dated, but good.
Plus, I just linked to an article reviewing a book on Compressor (somebody paste that link into comments and I'll update)
There's a bunch of stuff out there. Read blogwad for some of it mentioned the other day. There's a new Apple Pro Training Series book on color correction I just read about, but now I can't recall where
Audio Recording, Editing, and Mastering
no clue - not my area
The Art & Science of Digital Compositing
Digital Compositing In Depth
first one's better
Shake for $500 is SUCH a deal for heavy compositing work too
cgchannel.com is probably good for this
prolost.blogspot.com has Stu's good points
anything by Chris & Trish Meyer -they rock
Adobe's Classroom in a Book Series are a good place to start too
dunno - thoroughly read the book, then get in there yourself and play with all the settings, esp. starting with the Advanced Format conversion stuff.
UPDATE: Plus, I just linked to an article reviewing a book on Compressor (somebody paste that link into comments and I'll update)
there's gotta be a million books - Adobe Classroom in a Book would be a good beginning place
also be more specific - Photoshop for what kinds of usages? It is such a wide tool...
wish I did, but I don't - remember, IANAS (I Am Not A Shooter)
3D modeling, animation, and integration with live action footage.
After spending years doing 3D stuff...I quit, because it takes so long to learn to do well, the learning curve is steep to get good looking results, so I find 3D afficionados and recruit them to do it for me. You could spend 3 months in the woods on just this and only have gotten up to "decent/competent" - I'd study compositing with live action, but ease off on modelling animation in terms of good use of your time.
Stu's ProLost blog touches on some good characteristics of this stuff
...and, as an overall approach, don't forget Stu Maschwitz's book, The DV Rebel's Guide, that I've been writing about -check the first post of 2007, it is all about his book, perfect for looooooow budget indies.
Oh - and I also really enjoyed Make Your Own Damned Movie by Lloyd Kaufmann, he of Toxic Avenger fame (or infamy if you wish).
SO - YOUR TURN - submit the good, Good, GOOD stuff - books or sites - using the Comment link below. Somebody has probably already done this entire task elsewhere- submit those lists as well if they are recently enough updated.
A decent roundup of all the rumors for MWSF concerning 8 processor Macs, iPhone, iTV, Leopard, Mobile OS X, new displays, partnerships for content distribution, and touchscreen video iPods.
Studio Daily | What I%u2019m Using Now - Next Limit%u2019s ReelFlow
Expensive ($2700), but creates DAMN good looking results. Anybody have a less expensive tool to recommend that would match the look for a more indie viable price point?
This is a pro's studio tool. Actually, a high end pro studio's studio tool considering it is a one trick pony (particle systems) for that price. Typical indie could get Shake, After Effects, & Final Cut Studio for same price....but couldn't deliver the same results of that one trick pony for that kind of a result as demoed here.
Studio Daily | Add Light Edges with CC Light Sweep in After Effects
Quickie, headline says it all.
Studio Daily | Distribute Your Film or Video on Amazon.com with CustomFlix DVD and CD on Demand
Step by step instructions. Pretty easy looking, actually.
If you have an indie produced film with no distribution deal, this is one way to get it out on the market (albeit with no marketing, and closing off other distro deals).
But it is there.
Studio Daily | Now Hear This!
No matter how you slice it, audio is 70 percent of the visual experience. You can easily argue that good audio can make a mediocre image "look" better, while poor audio can make the best picture appear worse. There have been countless studies that support this very point.
Visual tools have raised the bar on what consumers expect to see on their televisions. Along with those impressive images comes a responsibility on the part of producers to deliver better audio. Listen up out there, everyone else is!
Keep reading - most indies don't pay NEARLY enough attention to audio. Article points out doing the mix and audio work will probably take longer than your color correction and online. Remember that!
I forget to check in on Ken Stone's excellent site because they don't have an RSS feed (ahem...hint?), which makes it so much easier to keep track of when a site has been updated (I track about 50 sites daily with my RSS browser of choice, NetNewsWire).
Here's some recent articles of definite interest to this crowd:
Compressor-Quick Reference Guide
FxFactory 1.0.1 Final Cut Studio/Motion
Review - Volumetrix Light Plug-ins
Review DvMultiRig Pro
Going to MacWorld? Don't forget the big LA FCP user group Supermeet.
From their website:
Booked so far is Associate Editor Sean Cullen who is currently working with Walter Murch on Francis Coppola's new film, "Youth without Youth."
This movie is being filmed using the Sony HDC F950 HD Cam and marks the first time both Walter Murch and Francis Coppola are going "filmless." Sean will discuss the digital workflow they have developed.
Also scheduled to appear will be film editor Angus Wall who just completed Zodiac for David Fincher. Angus will discuss the all tapeless workflow they developed for Zodiac. The film was shot using the Grass Valley Viper Film Stream camera and Angus will be joined on stage by tech consultant, Andreas Wacker
OK, sounds good. But where/when?
Wednesday, Jan 10, 2007 - 7:00PM - 10:00PM
Where? - Mezzanine Club 444 Jessie St @ Mint, San Francisco, CA
415-625-8880 google map link (The closest parking garage is "Fifth and Mission")
When? Wednesday, January 10, 7:00PM - 10:00PM (Doors open 6:00PM)
Why? Because you need to learn something.
How Much? - $10.00 a person. Includes 2 raffle tickets
Any raffle prizes? Of course. $2.00 per raffle ticket or 3 for $5.00
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Couple threads of interest over on Reduser.net:
Rob Lohman on NAB plans: Where to see RED ONE & the team - Reduser.net
Red will be in booths SL5405 and SL14700-MR during NAB 2007 from April 16-19 - two booths - what does that imply? Looking it up on the NAB website - Red has a 40x50 foot booth about 50 feet from the smaller Apple booth in the South lower hall, and a 20x20 upstairs off to the side of the show floor - probably their private meeting room.
The bigger booth is just slightly smaller than AJA's booth, so if you've been to NAB and seen AJA's space you know how expansive that feels. Jim says it'll be a tent like before, just bigger. Hmm..wonder what they have in mind? Gotta show those cameras, lenses, and the workflow. And what else? That leads me to...
NAB announcements... - Reduser.net
If you thought what we announced at NAB 2006 was interesting, just wait until NAB 2007.
This should send chills up industry dresses...
OK, now THAT gets interesting - he titled that post announcements, plural, not singular - so more than one thing? And he says announcements, not ships, reveals, demos, or anything else. He specifically refers to what they announced last year, and says "just wait until 2007" - so implying more products perhaps?
As Chris Hurd said about a year ago after the first teaser site about Red went up:
"Ready, set, speculate!"
Jim announced it on DVinfo.net:
Reservations: One last chance... - The Digital Video Information Network:
Due to popular demand, we have decided to open up reservations for 3 days. Kind of a 'last chance' opportunity. Jan. 21- Jan. 24th. The next time orders will be taken will be at NAB. Mark your calendars.
So get yours ducks in a row and be ready to put $1000 down on your credit card if you want to get a reservation on a Red One.
Details will be posted on Red's website at a later date.
As Jim states, NAB will be next purchase opportunity thereafter.
Similarly announced over on Reduser.net in this thread:
One last shot... - Reduser.net
Also that lenses will also be included in the offerings during the window in later January.
Titanium "R" not included with this round.
Fun little round-up of some stuff going on - worst trailers and box office for the year, predictions for the year, other fun stuff.
When I spent a bunch of time the other year working on an uncompressed HD capture device for field usage, I spent quite a bit of time working with the SheerVideo codec, created by Andreas Wittenstein. It is a mathematically lossless codec (means the file sizes are smaller but your files decompress to EXACTLY match the uncompressed source). It will compress and decompress, even HD files, in realtime on a dual G5, cutting about 35-45% of the file size, depending on your footage. Not only does this reduce data storage required, but also the dataRATE required, and that's a BIG deal.
There are 8 & 10 bit, Y'CbCr & RGB, progressive or interlaced, full or video range options available, Mac & PC versions - covers all your needs. It can even losslessly convert from Y'CbCr to RGB in some circumstances, a trait other codecs cannot.
It is useful in production and archival - my plan had been to acquire to 10 bit Sheer, then generate offline editing proxies from there, and relink to the 10 bit Sheer files. In Final Cut Pro, since you don't get realtime VFX or color correction anyway and have to render everything, Sheer works just as fine as the Apple, Blackmagic, or AJA 10 bit codecs as far as I could tell working with my G5s.
A universal binary is coming later this month, which is a critical piece of the equation that has been lacking for a Sheer based workflow, and the latest version fixes a crashing bug in Final Cut Pro 5.1.2.
There's a free reader and a free tryout. Oh, and just for kicks, it's HALF OFF through January 14th - only $75/seat for a single license, $50/seat if you buy 2 or more seats at a time.
Download it for a free tryout, pay for a license if you like it. With the free reader codec, you don't have to worry about someone not being able to read the file without paying for a license (Windows reader here)
Release Notes here.
David Hague has recently written reviews on both the Canon XH A1 and Sony HDR-FX7 cameras:
Canon XH A1 HDV Camcorder
The Sony HDR-FX7
He cross comments about both of them a lot, closing the FX7 review with:
Overall, I’d opt for the extra dollars and get the Canon XHA1 as the twin SLR’s make the difference to me, but if this is not important to you, then the FX7 certainly deserves a long hard look and play to see if it suits your needs.
At the end of the A1 review:
If you are in the market for a next generation HDV camcorder, the choice just became easier one feels with this release of the XHA1. At a price of A$6499 (approx US$5100), the only real competition is the Sony FX7 at A$5499 (approx US$4344).
If you're shopping in this price range, these are two to consider.
Read on for full details.
Good example of the power of Copy & Paste Attributes - it is damn handy. Read this little primer on it.
A Mac based app that uses P2P based tech to help download speeds. They have a nice UI to access content. Think of this as YouTube in HD....but with 0.0001% of the content. As of last night, less than 80 clips.
The good news is that you can do high quality, HD content, as long as you want.
Nice idea, needs to grow substantially to be meaningful to a wider audience. If you want to distribute HD content without paying to do so nor without getting paid for it, this is worth looking into.
File size is heavy - DVD quality target data rate is about 0.9 GB/hr, 720p content about 1.75 GB/hr. They are codec agnostic, and include the tools to publish content to the network from within the application.
Performance was decent for shorter SD clips, but high def clips, especially longer ones, took over an hour to download.
Worth watching. Free, download and check it out if you wish.
Video podcast showing how easy it is to work on Mac Pros - change a hard drive, add RAM, put in a PCIe card, etc.
A good primer for those who haven't been comfortable cracking open their new Macs.
Really nice detailed article about iTV, which I think is likely to be one of the better bridges between Internet based content and living room TVs.
Some highlights from the article:
"Following a personal preview of the device, Walt Disney chief executive and personal friend of Jobs, Robert Iger, disclosed that each unit will also include a 'small hard drive' that will allow for some local content storage."
-a hard drive on iTV? Interesting concept - to cache content downloaded? If it was a streaming buffer, a RAM cache would suffice for that. Downloading content from an "authorized" source to hold it? I've heard there might be an iPod dock on it - therefore a hard drive to cache all the content to end up on the iPod makes sense. If the device has WiFi and Ethernet connections, might it be able to DIRECTLY access the iTunes Store without a computer? That'd be an interesting possibility...with a scroll wheel remote..hmm....
-iTV purportedly being delayed to get software kinks ironed out
-I strongly suspect that with an HDMI connector, Apple is thinking about HDTV's future, and will offer HD movie downloads...sometime in 2007.
-I think this will be the most interesting non-computer product Apple has come out with since the iPod
...although iPhone could be pretty interesting.
On a potentially related note, I just noticed Apple has a teaser up on their main page, something they haven't done in the past as a pre-MWSF teaser (click for full sized view, or just go to apple.com):
It states "The first 30 years were just the beginning. Welcome to 2007."
Maybe this will be the year of HD that Steve promised us that we never got at a prior MWSF...
This software claims to be able to recover files off a RAID, something I don't recall other recovery software claiming in the past. Boomerang is new, I don't know a thing about them, but the ability to recover off of a RAID would be some good peace of mind. Of course, if a drive in a RAID 0 fails, no recovery app can help then.
In any case, if anybody uses this and has any feedback or experience with it, please post in the Comments link below.
While not exactly indie pricing (by a longshot), it is a major tool to do serious work:
"Major features of the 2K Plus version 4.1.2 include support for digital projection standards, improved support for the Grass Valley Spirit 2K/4K telecine, enhanced ColorTrace capabilities, and enhanced support for Digital Vision's noise reducer in 2K data mode."
"Advanced features of Grass Valley’s latest Spirit 2K/4K telecine are now supported through the enhanced 2K Plus software, including: Six-sector secondary color correction; Auto Focus, which automatically focuses the telecine and passes that information directly to the 2K; Auto Dmin, which automatically calibrates the Telecine for the film in use, ensuring repeatable settings for scanning; Focus Aid, which makes manual adjustment of focus easier; and complete control of telecine audio functionality. "
Monday, January 01, 2007
How are you going to do that?
First Step: Go buy Stu Maschwitz's DV Rebel's Guide.
"Whuzzat?" you ask through the cat hair in your mouth?
It is Stu's book on how to make an action movie - the full title is:
The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap
Got your attention yet? How about this?
I say its the best $30 you'll spend all year in terms of improving your projects. TRUST ME on this one.
And I say that's true even if you're not shooting action movies - 90+% of this book applies to any truly indie/low budget project. Whether you want to do your own version of My Dinner With Andre, or My Dinner With Andre With Guns, this book will help you make a better project if you are the typical "Gee I want to but I can't afford" HD for Indies reader.
So who's Stu? Stu Maschwitz is a former ILMer who was one of the co-founders of The Orphanage, a rockin' VFX group in California.
I got a hard copy of the book in the mail the other day, and unlike the other 20 or so Filmmaking How To books I have sitting around with their virginal spines unwrinkled, or only a few chapters read, I've actually cracked this one open and have been reading it. And kept reading it. Maybe it's because I know the guy, maybe its because he is so exactly on my wavelength about how to get stuff done, I don't know. I don't end up reading a ton of these because I get bored or annoyed with the advice they are giving, but this one I LIKE.
On Stu's blog ProLost he mostly talks about After Effects and post production techniques, but this book is thorough - it isn't just post, it is about pre-production planning and shooting and how to make a budget dolly and how to get your shots without requiring a huge amount of infrastructure to get it done.
It talks about how to make an action film on the cheap, with a zillion good detailed ideas and an over-arching philosophy of There Is A Way. One of the things I've advocated in the past has been the realization that indies have more time than money, and should use that advantage. Stu is into that as well.
OK, so Stu is all psyched about how to do this, but how good is it? Here's what Robert Rodriguez has to say about it, right on the back cover:
I'd been wanting to write a book for the new breed of digital filmmakers, but now I don't have to. My pal and fellow movie maker Stu Maschwitz has compressed years of experience into this thorough guide. Don't make a movie without reading this book!"
Yeah. I wholeheartedly agree.
We've been swapping some emails, so I asked him to tell a bit about himself so that you folks would get the context of this book:
Q: So Stu - what's your background?
A: I majored in animation at CalArts, but mostly wound up making live-action shorts with whatever effects I could cobble together using my Amiga and practical techniques. Those early effects efforts somehow cut together into a reel that got me a job at ILM. ILM was like graduate school for me -- it's where I learned After Effects and non-linear editing. It's also where I was when the first DV cameras came out. Buying that Sony VX1000, writing and shooting my first all-digital short (The Last Birthday Card), and joining Scott Stewart and Jonathan Rothbart in leaving ILM and forming The Orphanage is all a big blur that spans most of 1999.
Q: Why write this book?
A: As a filmmaker inspired by the kinetic cinema of John Woo and Robert Rodriguez, I constantly endured well-meaning teachers and peers counseling me away from making films with an action component. It's common advice to young filmmakers to avoid guns, cars, etceteras -- all the things the movies they love are chock full of. I wanted to support those courageous DV Rebels who were making a point of ignoring that advice. On the other side of the equation, since Birthday Card I've developed a solid pipeline for creating digital movies, one that can produce an incredibly high production value on a modest budget. I wanted to share this approach with the current generation of filmmakers who have all these digital tools at their disposal but may not have my nerdy background.
Q: Why so AE centric when such a pain - why not do in FCP?
A: Answer One that he gave:
"As you know better than anyone, working safely and sanely in an NLE environment requires quite a bit of esoteric knowledge about CoDecs, data rates, RAIDs and other things that I'd prefer not to be thinking about when trying to tell a story. At its simplest, the issue is this: Your NLE re-compresses every time it renders. As soon as you move to a CoDec where this re-compression becomes negligible, you're talking special hardware. The DV Rebel approach, on the other hand, can be implemented on a three-year-old laptop.
When editing, my rule-of-thumb is to avoid anything that makes the process no longer real-time. I like having a partition between the creative editing part of the filmmaking process and the onlining phase.
When onlining, the rule is the polar opposite: no amount of render time is too much to endure in the name of increased image quality. I detail some techniques for extracting every last bit of luminance range from your video source, removing color subsampling artifacts (without plug-ins), and a complete pipeline for multiple digital masters. If you follow these guidelines you can actually achieve better results than you could in an expensive real-time onlining suite.
After Effects may not be designed to serve as a Discrete Smoke, but I've nudged it in that direction by including a custom palette of scripts that you can launch with one click, including one that creates a live thumbnail comp that shows the color continuity of your film. You get sliders to control how many thumbnails to view, and the thumbnails update in realtime as you color correct. I don't expect the reader to become an After Effects wiz, just modestly comfortable--and the scripts are designed to make common tasks into one-click operations.
Lastly, onling isn't just about color correction. In After Effects you can do high-quality time stretches, small effects fixes like painting out errant boom mics.
I fell in love with mastering my films in After Effects back when Macs were beige, and I've seen render times measured in days rather than hours. It's a lot easier now than it was then and still just as rewarding."
Answer Two that he gave a couple of days later:
"For the same reason that the pros jump to a Smoke to online. After Effects is the poor man's Smoke. In fact, AE can do more than a Smoke can, just slower. If you're willing to put up with some render times (made much more bearable by Lloyd Alvarez's BG Renderer script!), you can create very high-quality images with this pipeline. Better, in some cases, than if you'd gone to a traditional post house and rented a thousand-dollar-an-hour onlining suite."
(Mike's addendum - YES - having spent nearly 10 years making my living with After Effects, I wholeheartedly agree. This is one of the core tenets of indies having more time than money - DIYers can watch a progress bar with no major skin off their back - sitting in a facility, that is just not viable. And Stu is being shy on this one - by adding Colorista into the mix, the ability to make it look damn good in real or near real time in your editorial workflow, but then take it to AE for final rendering with the same plugin is a HUGE productivity gain.)
Q: How long did you spend on the book?
A: About a year. I'd say that almost a third of it was written on airplanes and another third in hotel rooms!"
Q: What all do we get?
"Why thanks for asking! In addition to 320 pages of full-color, rounded-corner goodness, you get a DVD with the following:
On the video portion you get my 20-minute short film The Last Birthday Card, with VFX breakdown and director's commentary. You also get The Green Project, a snippet of an action sequence that is the basis of the onlining tutorial.
On the data portion you get the raw ingredients for The Green Project. If you follow the tutorial in the onlining chapter, your rendered output should look a lot like what's on the video portion of the DVD.
You get the scripts and presets, which you copy into your various After Effects directories to turn AE into a full-fledged onlining station.
There are some Excel calculators (which can also be used in the free Google Spreadsheets web app) for calculating things like lens measurements and frame rates for miniature photography.
You get After Effects templates for common effects such as gunfire (including flying shells, all without plug-ins), POV shots, letterboxing to various aspect ratios, and night-vision. There's even a template for creating a hand-cranked look, if that Man on Fire look is your bag.
Lastly, you get six squib elements that I shot myself, to enhance your digital gunfight scenes."
Q: Planning anything next?
A: I am planning on putting the techniques from the book to use myself! I've got a few ideas up my sleeve for projects I want to shoot. First up is to complete a spec spot that I shot half of in Seoul, Korea last year. I just got a Go-35 adaptor for my DVX100a, so as usual I'll be splitting my time between directing commercials (where I often shoot film and spend thousands of dollars in post suites) and scrounging around with a cobbled-together camera rig and no permits!"
So you've read this far, and maybe I have you convinced. If so, click here to buy it from Amazon, Stu even gets a little referral luv if you use the link above (at least until I get around to setting up my own Amazon Affiliate links!).
But seriously - if you're a typical or regular reader of this blog, you probably are interested in making cool looking results without spending a lot of money and you don't mind getting pixels under your fingernails - then this book is clearly for you. Even if you work on projects with budget, it is STILL probably worth reading to pick up some good tips from somebody with some excellent experience.
And YES, this is a call to action, or more specifically, a call to action movie making - if you've been meaning to, thinkin about, whatever - this is Day One of the new year, and if you want to make a movie this year, START.
This is one good way to do so.
PS - some more info from Stu about the book -
ProLost: Rebel = Late: "Like I said, The DV Rebel's Guide will be shipping on December 26. Oops."
ProLost: Rebel Mac: "I will be speaking about The Guide at Peachpit's booth at Macworld Expo San Francisco at noon on January 10th, 2007%u2014the first of many such appearances. I'll have my MacBook Pro and will demonstrate some of the post-production techniques from the book."
ProLost: Stu on Filmmaking Central: "You can hear me ramble on about The Guide on the current episode of the Filmmaking Central Podcast, which is an excellent resource for filmmakers at any budget level."
Also, here's the chapter headers to give you a good idea of what he's talking about:
Chapter 1: The Approach - talks about the digital heavy approach, using inexpensive HD cameras and reasonable but not top end computer equipment to Do Yo Thang
Chapter 2: Planning - be your own producer, your script, planning/boarding the action, etc.
Chapter 3: The Camera - selecting and working with, Manual Everything!
Chapter 3: Shooting, with sections on making memorable shots, moving the camera, "God is your Gaffer"
Chapter 4: Effects, with fun subsections like Cleveland for Paris, Guns Guns Guns!, Avoid Killing Your Friends, etc.
Chapter 5: Editing - who shaves the barber, kill your babies, etc.
Chapter 6: Onlining (this is the kind of stuff Stu usually talks about on his blog)
I've been encouraging Stu to put a big chunk of his Introduction up, as it is a call to arms for how to get things done the new way, the non-Hollywood way. Feel free to comment away on here about what a good idea it would be for him to play a little Give To Get with the first chunk of the intro to his book.
Damn. Now I'm going to go read more of the book...
1.) I've been reading more of the book....good stuff. Mostly aimed at the truly indie DIY crowd, but good stuff in there. The onlining stuff, I suspect, will benefit most any DIY production
2.) Stu has a site up with samples, all the chapter subheaders, etc. - The Guide" - check it out