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High Definition Video for Independent Filmmakers
A How To Guide for Digital Filmmakers
Welcome all! This is my blog to share my latest research,
thoughts, etc. on utilizing HD for independent filmmaking.
YES, I am available for consulting
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
All content copyright 2004-2007 Mike Curtis.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
What am I doing?
A hint: since last week I've been busy doing a lot of testing with a Mac Pro on loan from Apple, we did a LOT of work with it before it had to go back. Learned lots, collected and are tabulating many thousands of data points of interest for the kind of stuff I'm, uh, interested in.
Late, wordsmithing low priority after final sprint of 3 looooong days of intense mouse & keyboarding. While I don't want to live there, Production Land is fun to visit every once in a while - it has been a Caffeine and Loud Music Day, MUCH was accomplished.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
But busy, blogging back burnered.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
TiVO finally got their act together enough to get a viably affordable HD TiVO out on the market. Consensus: good stuff.
Talking to a friend of mine about consumer interfaces today, he was talking about asking a guy in the set top box world why, in a world of iPhone, AppleTV, TiVO, Vista, OS X, and other pretty slidey smoothly animated user interfaces, set top box interfaces look like 1982 ass.
Boils down to this: set top boxes come from cable companies. Cable companies go with lowest cost provider. Hard cost per unit to make a good UI? I dunno, maybe $10-$20? Plus dev costs. Cable companies don't want to pay that, so therefore they don't offer it, so therefore we don't have it.
Companies like TiVO offer a better UI, but we see where the market values that - TiVO is in dire trouble as a financial entity.
My friend idly pondered about the market opportunities these things create for other players - look at the creamy smooth UI on AppleTV, or in my Blu-ray player, aka PS3. I realized the PS3 should be my preferred HD playback device for the following reasons:
1.) It supports 1080p which my 1080i HD DVD player doesn't (and my HDTV DOES support 1080p, I made sure of that), and
2.) The UI is slicker on the PS3 than it is on the HD DVD player - in part because there are plenty of juevos to push pretty pixels around - since it is primarily a game machine, making nice menus is child's play for it.
Official page: TiVo | TiVo HD
Engadget review roundup: TiVo HD review roundup - Engadget HD
Bonus fun thing: YouTube - Microsoft Surface Parody
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Steady progress... - Reduser.net:
"We are making steady progress getting the camera ready for production. As we stated previously, some features will not be enabled with the 1st cameras shipping. All updates will be done as features are enabled through a download and USB or Compact Flash to the camera. It is really easy. Slip in the card, turn the camera on, and say 'yes' when it asks you if you want to upgrade to the new software.
We are very, very happy with image quality at this point and still think we can improve some as time goes on.
This has been (and still is) a huge undertaking. It is a project worthy of our best effort. We appreciate everyone's patience. We do not expect another schedule slip at this time (things can change).
later in that same thread:
Steven Soderbergh starts shooting in Spain in 8 hours. He is flying without a net (no backup plan). Just RED ONE's. He will be recording 4k REDCODE RAW to Compact Flash. Wish him (and all of us) luck.
Somewhere along the line, I missed when Rodney Charters, cinematographer on "24" said about the Red One:
I have had the opportunity to test he RED ONE camera over the past few weeks, including direct comparison to the same film I shoot on '24'. All I can say is that I am totally amazed. Revolutionary might not be a strong enough word to describe what RED is doing.
Then recently, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (writer/director and cinematographer on Crank) said:
Film is dead. And by the way, so is video. The word is getting out that RED is the future, but for us it is right now. After holding these bad boys in our hands and putting the cameras through the full Neveldine/Taylor acid test our faith in the mad scientists at RED labs is unlimited. We're committed to RED for every project we've got in the pipeline."
Mike's Comments: OK, that Soderbergh is willing to shoot with prototype Red Ones without an alternative plan speaks very highly of his faith. Soderbergh has been a strong digital advocate for quite some time, and after projects like 3 Ocean's 11 movies, Traffic, and Solaris, he can pick whatever he wants.
Rodney's comments are high praise indeed, coming from a highly placed professional in the field. That he compares it directly to film and is still very impressed bodes very well indeed. That he historically shoots film, and still likes Red, is VERY encouraging.
Neveldine and Taylor are strong digital advocates (Crank was shot on F900 if I recall correctly), and I don't know what their film shooting history is or isn't, but seeing the pictures of one of the guys roller blading with a Red One tells me a lot about their gung ho attitude.
Technically, if shooting to 8 GB Compact Flash (I'm guessing at the size Soderbergh is using, dunno) at 24fps (presumably at 27 MB/sec according to Graeme's last statement I saw on the matter, lets go with that for now) allows for a hair over 4 1/2 minutes of footage per CF card. Lame by video standards, but a reasonable short load for a film camera. That's a short load, but considering you can carry a fistful of them for a day's narrative shooting, or have all the media you need for the afternoon in your shirt pocket, that's not bad! Oh - and don't forget, that's 4K res footage you've got in your inner jeans change pocket.
Bigger ones to follow in time, Red RAM to follow in time (64GB solid state, should yield about 36 minutes of 24p footage).
This makes me itchy to start playing with a Red as soon as humanly possible.
Attention fellow iPhoners - you can buy AppleCare that will cover out to the end of your 2 year AT&T contract for an additional $69. Two years from date of purchase I think, or activation. In any case, ends when the contract does, NOT an extra year beyond from when you purchase it.
For more info, see the AppleCare FAQ, which makes frequent mention of the iPhone.
At one point, accidental damage was most definitely going to be in there as well, but it got yanked from the plan late in the game. Booooooooo, Apple.
Also, Bluetooth headsets are starting to ship out to customers.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Does 250ish MB/sec writes, 360ish MB/sec reads in fault protected 8 drive array setup - nice!
The Before Scenario:
"As so many of my clients use SATA drives on their editing systems (both AVID and FCP), I started to test out some of the Raid protected SAS solutions. I was initially disappointed. On one hand, they were inexpensive, and they were fast. On the other, they were difficult to set up, they never warned you that a drive had failed, they had too many rules for what you could do and not do, and when it came time to rebuild your broken RAID, it was a manual process. For those of you familiar with older working RAID solutions from Apple, Medea, StorCase and HUGE Systems, this was just unacceptable."
The After Scenario:
You click on "Quick Function/Quick Create" and select "RAID Level 3."Another menu that says "64 bit LBA", and a menu that says "Volume Initialization Mode/NO Init", click on SUBMIT, and in FIVE SECONDS, the RAID 3 drive array is there. I then deleted the RAID by clicking on "RAID Set Function/Delete RAID Set", and created a RAID 5, using the same few keystrokes.
IN FIVE SECONDS!!
I couldn't believe it. Well, I really DIDN'T believe it, so I loaded up some media, and yanked out one of the drives. The drive array started to beep, indicating a failure. I opened up the Dulce RAID Console, which indicated that there was a failure. I popped the drive back into the Dulce (with power on - no powering down) - and IT STARTED TO REBUILD all by itself.
This sounds VERY promising, and could be a good solution for a lot of folks. Unfortunately, they do NOT sell bare systems - you have to buy the fully configured card & enclosure with drives.
Mike's Analysis: A 2TB system (8x250GB presumably) starts at $4400, an 8TB is $8000.
Formatted as RAID 3 or 5, this should allow for a usable, formatted capacity of 1624GB for the 2TB model yielding $2.71/GB, up to 6475GB for the 8TB model, yielding $1.23/GB.
Compare this to Apple's fibre channel equivalent cost of a 7TB model for $12,400, pus $500 for the card for a total of about $12,900 for a RAID 50 capacity of 5550GB at a cost of $2.32/GB. The 10.5TB model formats to 8325GB at a cost of 14,300 for a price/GB of $1.71.
There are other differences between the models, but this is a place to start analyzing from for single station utilization.
Sounds very promising, I want to get a review unit.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Thanks as always to Andy for helping me put all this together.
Photos: Slingbox beams into CBS newsroom | CNET News.com - "Replaced more than 20 of its cameras affixed to the tops of local bridges, freeways and buildings that use microwave technology to relay video back to the station with smaller cameras combined with a Slingbox Pro."
RED ONE "Acapulco" in use... - Reduser.net - "This is Mark Neveldine (Writer, Director and Camera Operator on 'Crank') giving 'Acapulco' a test drive. He is bad-ass on wheels. Camera as tested weighed about 18 pounds." -Jim
Skew... - Reduser.net - Jim talks about the Red and camera skew, defining the term and explaining how it affects images from the Red One.
Shutter Speed Vs. Shutter Angle at FreshDV - "If you have ever wondered what the difference between the way a video camera calcualate shutter by fractions of a second and the way a film camera calculates shutter in degrees, then this article by Stuart English at Reduser.net is just for you."
Home - EasySlate slating system - "System includes 3 Slates and a Back Focus Chart."
Final Cut Pro 6 -Yeah yeah yeah, we've seen a million reviews of FCP 6 by now. But Heath digs a little deeper, and shows off codec tests comparing HDV, PhotoJPEG, ProRes, and ProResHQ, as well as a demo of SmoothCam in action. Worth reading/watching.
Daniel Pimley's Homepage - A media calculator for audio-visual professionals. Calculate data rate, file size or duration - handy for DVD projects, too.
Panalog After Effects Plugin - "Implements some
of the panalog conversion functions in AE."
Toolfarm - Plugins, Software Sales and Distribution: All fired up for IBC: The Foundry previews major Nuke release, plus Furnace for Final Cut Pro at Toolfarm.com - "The Foundry will be offering sneak previews of the next major release of its compositing application Nuke."
DOUBLE ULTRA PanaLog4Lin - More Panavision goodies. Was researching and came across this stuff.
Coloring the Fiesta - "Using After Effect to color correct a movie."
Frantic Films to Debut New Software Solutions at SIGGRAPH | Studio Daily - "Along with a new version of Deadline, the company's popular render farm solution, Frantic Films will unveil several new developments throughout the conference."
Transformers Movie - Special Effects - "Hand-rendered metallic uncorkings of real-life cars, trucks and helicopters represented uncharted territory for the gooey-alien experts at ILM, each transformation taking six months to imagine."
Video Podcast: Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 with Jeff Schell - First look at the new Premiere Pro CS3.
Side Effects releases Houdini 9 Public Beta | Studio Daily - "Side Effects Software is pleased to announce the public beta launch of Houdini 9. The new User Interface is easier to learn and designed to match the UI standards of the CG industry."
LITTLE FROG IN HIGH DEF: Sheffield Softworks - NEW PLUGINS - "ELECTRONIC MAKEUP ARTIST and GRAPHIC NOVEL LOOK."
FilmLight Develops Noise and Grain Reduction Software | Studio Daily - "The software relinquishes the need for hardware noise reducers while providing significantly greater control and flexibility."
ProLost: Today's Color Before/After - Stu Maschwitz, creator of coloring tool Colorista, gets hip deep into Apple's new Color application - "It turns out everything I wrote about it after NAB holds true. It is both awesomely powerful and infuriatingly quirky." I concur - amazing power once you're inside it, frustrating limitations encountered.
Motion Controlled Backgrounds on for CG on The Ark | Studio Daily - "Employing motion control for many of the background environments and managing to create and render virtually the entire 1920x1080 short on just his laptop."
NaturalMotion Releases morpheme 1.1 | Studio Daily - "The latest version of its powerful animation engine and tool chain. Featuring new network management and navigation tools, source control support and frame buffering capabilities."
Five Questions with... VFX Supervisor Jean-Marc Demmer, Eight VFX | Studio Daily - "VFX Supervisor Jean-Marc Demmer steps up to answer Five Questions."
Vertus Releases Fluid Mask 3 | Studio Daily - "The new version of Vertus’ award-winning image editing software is the professionals’ choice for rapid, powerful and intuitive masking and high-quality image blending."
ReelFlow 4.3 Released along with Cinema4D Plug-in | Studio Daily - "Fluid and dynamics simulation tool ReelFlow--used on Poseidon, X-Men 3, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Ice Age 2."
A Complete 4K Workflow: Panel Discussion | Studio Daily - Video of the in depth panel discussion. Sponsored by Dalsa, so Dalsa & Codex specific, but GOOD STUFF in there. The Dalsa, SI-2K, and Red all have similar workflow challenges, here's how one vendor pair deals with the challenges.
Building the Perfect HDV Key at FreshDV - "Creative Cow has a great article by Tim Wilson on pulling great chroma keys using HDV formats. Good info."
SCRATCH at the Core of the Creative Bridge Digital Workflow - "Mobile Digital Lab & Theater is housed in a 36 foot custom digital trailer with ASSIMILATE’s SCRATCH Data-Centric Workflow Solution at its core."
We interview Michael Buday from Syncvue - How SyncVue and Skype can be used for reviewing footage over long distances.
AppleInsider | RBC report weighs in on Apple's iPhone, iPod roadmaps - "Apple Inc. may be planning to manufacture 8 million iPhones before the end of 2007, ahead of second-generation models that reportedly include more storage capacity and brandish higher-resolution displays."
AppleInsider | Multi-touch video iPods to arrive in August - "Apple is preparing to launch a next-generation video iPod in August that features a touch-screen panel similar to the iPhone, according to DigiTimes."
Three Best Notebook Drives for the MacBook Pro - "250GB 5K Notebook Drive versus The Two Fastest 7K Notebook Drives."
iPhone Widget List - The Master List of iPhone Widgets and iPhone Applications - LOTS of widgets!
SeeqPod Music - Online music search/player that works great on the iPhone.
Sideloading Comes of Age - "Weeks after the iPhone's debut, there’s finally time for reflection, perspective, and even (gasp) rational thinking."
AppleInsider | Apple iMac makeover appears ripe for summer, says firm - "There's an 80 percent likelihood that Mac maker Apple Inc. will set aside a day this summer to introduce a complete redesign to its signature iMac desktop line, analysts for Piper Jaffray investment research said this week."
One Llama | Discover Music - Another online music finder and player, but with a visual twist. Find new music graphically!
15 Must-Have Freeware Programs for Filmmakers | Free Geekery - Free and useful apps from Pre to Post.
Five Ideas That Will Reinvent Modern Computing: IMAX At Home - News and Analysis by PC Magazine - "Cluster computing for projectors."
CinemaTech: 60Frames Entertainment: Model for a New Kind of Studio? - "Brent Weinstein, head of United Talent Agency's digital division, is starting a new venture called 60Frames Entertainment, and has an initial bankroll of $3.5 million."
Disney movies on Xbox - "About 35 Disney movies, including 'Aladdin' and 'Armageddon,' are now available on the MSFT Xbox. There had previously been 192 movies from Warner Bros., Paramount, Lions Gate, and New Line, and 179 TV shows available on Xbox."
LITTLE FROG IN HIGH DEF: Lies I tell you. LIES! - More like lies that editors tell everyone.
“The West Side” - Another experiment in self-distribution at FreshDV - "Is this the new way for indies to garner attention and make a name without necessarily getting into a film festival? Is the online viral effect enough for a young filmmaker to build a reputation?"
CinemaTech: What's the Economic Value of User-Gen Content? - A look at the "economic potential of user-generated content and the impact that UGC content could have on established media companies as it competes with their big-budget movies and TV shows for viewers' time."
Film Studies 101 - Very cool mosaic poster built from historic movie frames.
Updated Articles -
Drive Failure Article Updated - Anybody interested in keeping up with what to do if a laptop drive dies, I've updated the article on my misadventures.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
2008 should be a very exciting year for independent content, indeed.
It is a local, home-grown, but very international film festival. Last week I watched the HD DVD of The Fountain (also on Blu-ray), and it is an amazing film, vastly underappreciated....and I saw it at FantasticFest in years past with both Darren Arronofsky (the director) and Clint Mansell (the music coordinator) in attendance.
I unfortunately missed Apocalypto with Mel Gibson in attendance last year. And, of course, Pan's Labyrinth - I saw it first at FantasticFest well before the theatrical release. But you get the idea - some AMAZING films are shown at FantasticFest....FIRST. The biggies are held to the last minute (sometimes we don't even know what we're going to see until we sit down), but the FF is WELL worth it. Here's some (more) of what will be showing this year:
(Austin, TX) As promised, we have a new crop of thoroughly engaging, incredibly fun new films to announce this week. We have a BUNCH of cool stuff that we are not yet at liberty to divulge; these we will unleash in the August 15 announcement. For now, whet your appetite on the following cinematic treats:
Exte: Hair Extensions
"Exte is transgressive art/horror genius Sion Sono's (Strange Circus, Suicide Club) entry into big-budget, star-fronted Japanese studio filmmaking, and neither his signature nor his spirit have been washed away by the influx of yen." (Mitch Davis, Fantasia). Customs agents stumble across a giant crate of human hair, destined to be used as extensions for trendy Japanese civilians. They are disgusted, but revulsion is eclipsed by horror when they discover, in the centre of this mountain of hair, a single dead girl, whose organs and even an eye have been removed, presumably for black market sale. This premise sets the tone for one of the most unexpectedly bizarre, subversive and yet still effective J-horror masterpieces ever made.
A Dirty Carnival
A beautifully shot, multi-layered story of a mid-level charismatic gangster and his attempted rise to greater power within the organization. Punctuated by moments of tender emotion as well as visceral violence, A Dirty Carnival is a "total package" film, blending an engaging story and characters, beautiful cinematography, and wild, brutal action sequences. Andrew O'Hehir from Salon.com says Dirty Carnival "elegantly repurposes bits and pieces of various mob classicsŠ might be this season's must-see for fans of Asian genre film."
End of the Line
Director Maurice Devereaux live in person!
WINNER: Audience Award: DEAD BY DAWN FILM FESTIVAL (Edinburgh, Scotland)
In this unsettling and creepy thriller, Karen (Ilona Elkin), a young nurse who works in a psychiatric ward, boards the last subway train of the night only to have it stop suddenly in the middle of the tunnel. As those around her are brutally murdered, Karen and a handful of survivors must face supernatural forces, homicidal religious cult members, as well as their own fears and suspicions of Armageddon, in order to survive.
Finishing the Game
Following his groundbreaking indie hit BETTER LUCK TOMORROW as well as studio ventures ANNAPOLIS and THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT, director Justin Lin returns to his roots with FINISHING THE GAME, a rollicking comedy spoof about this egregiously exploitative search for Bruce Lee's stand-in. Documentarians capture the absurd, hilarious and sometimes disturbingly true-to-life (but decidedly fictional) audition process as a motley assortment of candidates vie for the role: a former-TV-star-turned door-to-door salesman, a Bruce Lee knockoff named Breeze Loo and some guys who don't even look Chinese, much less like Lee.
Sex And Death 101
Roderick Blank (Simon Baker) is a successful modern man, content with his personal and professional life. However, a week before his wedding to a suitably stuffy fiancée, Roderick's perfectly planned existence is upended by a mysterious e-mail containing the names of every woman he has had sex with and, eerily, every woman he will have sex with in the future. He is stopped in his tracks when he meets a femme fatale (Winona Ryder) who targets men guilty of sex crimes against women. Co-staring Patton Oswalt and directed by Daniel Waters, writer of the cult hit HEATHERS!
Wrong Turn 2
Director Joe Lynch live in person!
First-time helmer Joe Lynch directs the eagerly anticipated follow-up to the 2003 sleeper WRONG TURN! Taking place shortly after the events of the original film, a group of six contestants are thrown together for six days in a simulated post-apocalyptic wasteland due to their participation in a reality television show called The Ultimate Survivalist: The Apocalypse, hosted and produced by former marine Dale Murphy (Henry Rollins), in which the winner will walk away with $100,000. Located in a remote part of West Virginia, the contestants soon discover that what they really are fighting for is their survival - against a family of hideously deformed inbred cannibals who plan to ruthlessly butcher them all.
The Last Winter
The Last Winter is a visually breathtaking, wholly nightmarish ecological horror film that is smart, informed and frightening. When one of its protagonists questions whether the act of drilling for fossil fuel is any different from graverobbing, it's impossible not to get shivers by the ramifications, nor is it a stretch when the oil team find themselves haunted, hunted and cursed for their actions. Award-winning writer/producer/editor Larry Fessenden continues on the unique path he's carved for himself with such previous philosophically provocative quasi humanist horror features as No Telling, Habit and Wendigo.
Aren't we all sick of J-horror by now? From The Ring to Ju-On and beyond it doesn't matter how good these movies may be, there are just too many of them and they just aren't scary anymore. Is there anything anyone can do that's new with this genre? Yes, actually. Leave it to Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Pulse, Cure, Doppelganger) to dredge up the bloated, water-logged corpse of the J-horror trend from the bottom of the river and to chop it up into something evil that slithers into your brain like a maggot worming its way into your brain. (New York Asian Film Festival)
Winner of the Melies d'Argent at the Rome Fantafestival 2006
Christmas time. A group of students steal a considerable amount of money from the local Campus. They flee through the snowy woods, in what the locals refer to as the "heartland of the Beast". They seek shelter in an abandoned mine only to end up facing a gruesome threat.
One evening, Octave, a doll repairman of about 30, is at a country fair and discovers ANGE (Angel), a girl born without a spine and thus condemned to spend her life as a circus freak in a steel scaffolding. This chance meeting is destined to upset the young man's life and force him to confront the voices that haunt him day and night...
In a work-driven world where time is the ultimate dictator, a mysterious sandman spreads chaos and confusion. Even the best employees of the system get infected by his wondrous dream powder and lose sight of the once so dominating clock. Alex Deprins, future employee of the year, becomes one of those 'victims'. In his dreams he comes into contact with a strange new world, where a lady in red captivates his heart. Once awake he has to make a difficult decision. Does he stay in his familiar, but deadly rule-bound world or does he seek the road to salvation in his dreams?
The Fantastic Fest website has been updated with trailers, photo stills, links and more comprehensive write-ups for each of these films. We will be announcing the final slate of films on August 15, with the screening schedule, party list and guest roster to follow in early September. Be sure to log in to our website and set up your account. Once the festival begins, you can write reviews, create a schedule, rate films and communicate with filmmakers and festival programmers. We highly encourage everyone to become a part of the Fantastic Fest B-side community.
Festival badges are still available, but we expect them to be sold out before the festival begins. If you know someone who is considering attending, hustle them along, or they may miss out!
In other news, we announced this month our induction into the esteemed Melies European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation (see fantasticfest.com for more details). We are also one of the three founding members of NAFFA, the North American Fantastic Festival Alliance, along with Dead Channels in San Francisco and Fantasia in Montreal.
About Fantastic Fest
Fantastic Fest is an eight-day festival of the best new sci-fi, horror, fantasy and genre films, as well as choice classic and obscure cult titles from all over the world. The festival director is Tim League (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema). Programmers include Harry Knowles (Ain't It Cool News), Kier-la Janisse (Big Smash, Cinemuerte), Matt Dentler (SXSW), Todd Brown (Twitchfilm.net) and Paul Alvarado-Dykstra. Festival co-chairs are Paul Alvarado-Dykstra and Tim McCanlies (screenwriter, Iron Giant). The 2006 festival premiered over 60 features and 30 shorts. Fantastic Fest is co-sponsored by Ain't It Cool News and the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema South Lamar in Austin, Texas. Dates for the 2007 Fantastic Fest are September 20-27, 2007. All screenings take place at the Alamo South Lamar.
Fantastic Fest is a supporting member of the Melies European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation as well as a founding member of the North American Fantastic Festival Alliance
Additional information can be found at FantasticFest.com.
Labels: case study
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Jim Jannard of Red Digital Cinema emailed me this late last night - here's ISO 500/1000/2000/4000 chip chart images done on Saturday (July 14th). Jim said:
We have come a LONG way in the last two weeks. Amazing stuff."
Proof in the pudding - check it out for yourself.
Late after looooong day, I'll analyze/comment/etc. tomorrow.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Here's what has happened in the last couple of days. Regular "other" blogging taking a back seat while I work on other things...like getting my primary laptop back up and running.
How They Did It: Live Free or Die Hard | Film & Video - "Wow, your CG cars looked so nice in that shot. Well, there is no CG car."
Warner's second thoughts: Total HD pushed back until 2008 - Warner: "There is no expiration date on the viability of this concept, so we're not in a rush to do it. We'll do it when it makes sense and when it's right."
Ultra HD (2K and 4K): Cinematographers’ Perspectives - Opinions from several cinematographers and an FX artist on the Ultra High Definition movement.
ADS Pyro AV SDI2DV Capture Device - Honest review of the less-than-impressive device.
Matrox DualHead2Go Digital Edition - External dual-display device gets upgraded to Digital Edition.
60-Second Q&A: Alexander Buono, Producer/Cinematographer, BSF Film, Santa Monica, CA - How they shot a feature length documentary on the HVX200.
NHK Develops 33-Million-Pixel Imager - 8K by 4K "Super-Hi Vision!"
HD Projection Technology Shines Bright - JVC and Gennum making "significant advancements."
EditShare Adds Final Cut Project Sharing - Handles any format, no workflow interruption, and new protection features.
HD Data Recording Goes Portable - Mentions Codex Portable, DFR4K Digital Field Recorder, and the RaveHD Cube.
Studio Daily Blog Sony offers rebates on HDV lineup - "$300 discount on the venerable 1080p/24p HVR-V1U, HVR-Z1U, and the HVR-A1U cameras. Also available is a $100 rebate on the HVR-M25U HDV VTR, a $100 rebate on the LMD-2030W 20″LUMA HD monitor, and a $150 bonus rebate on LMD-2030W monitor and HVR-V1U or HVR-M25U VTR joint purchases."
HD for Indies Updated Articles
Just the my laptop drive died article - looks like a dead drive, probably not Software Update related (just happened at same time), at this stage I've ordered another drive to try a board swap (thanks to reader advice). If that doesn't work, THEN data recovery service.
Quicktime Pro, Components, and the iPhone ... at Podcast Academy - Some helpful info on optimizing video for the iPhone.
DLO | Store | iPhone gear - Nice cases for your iPhone. ALTHOUGH - my Jam Jacket is getting a little stretched out - I take iPhone out to put it in the dock to recharge and look purty on my desk, but it is getting loose at the top and bottom edges (by top and bottom of screen edges) - like a pair of shorts that the stretch-um was gotten worn out.
Thanks again to Andy for organizing this, I just tweaked and edited a bit.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
OK, I don't want to be too alarmist, and I DO NOT have a definitive reason why this is going on, but here's the deal:
1.) I ran Software Update on my MacBook (original Core Duo 2.0 GHz model w/2GB RAM and upgraded hard drive)
2.) Shortly thereafter, it locked up - clicked on an email, and the machine beachballed...then the clock stopped updating (I always have it display the seconds so I can ALWAYS tell if something is stalling the processor - if the seconds aren't advancing).
3.) hard reboot - I got a bizarre, Windows looking black screen with big fat white letters and a few random red squares saying press ctrl-alt-delete...EEK, not good!
4.) rebooted, held down option - made sure was set to OS X not Windows via Boot Camp (I have a Windows partition on the box)
5.) rebooted again, saw for the first time ever the grey Apple screen with a darker grey circle and slash - egads, I don't know exactly what that means but it CAN'T be good.
6.) rebooted holding down shift key for Safe Boot Mode - it got to grey screen, showed circle/slash, then grey Apple logo as expected....then cycled back and forth between those interminably. This was on hard line power.
7.) Shut down, prepping to to do FireWire Target Disc Mode to do a remote Disk Utility run at it.
So I have ZERO proof that Software Update has anything to do with this, and I don't know whether it was or wasn't on 10.4.10, but the new QT, iTunes, and Security Update were just installed (at least, shoulda been, assuming it worked).
It could just be something went ker-flooey with the unit by chance today after having done Software Update and has nothing to do with it.
But JUST IN CASE, maybe holding off for a day or two and see if there are any other similar reports. As of this moment, my primary machine, my MacBook, is out of operation (and gee, I'm down to 4 Macs! Oh, the horror....but I'll struggle through...but all my email and access to it is on that box...grrr...)
I'll update as I learn more, just thought it'd be good to put a cautious warning out there.
3PM update - crap, when _I_ have to call somebody for Mac help, it is BAD - I've been everybody's Go To guy for decades on Mac stuff. So I call who I think might know more - Torrey Loomis of Silverado Systems, whom I buy all my own Mac stuff from now. I describe symptoms, he says it is rare, he's seen it once in connection with a Windows/Boot Camp partition setup. He says it is probably hard disk related. "Logical or physical problem?" I ask, he says not sure, recommends Disk Warrior.
Buy Disk Warrior 4 (required for Intel Macs) online, takes maybe 7 minutes from Google search to installing - NICE. Can buy online and download and they'll mail a disk, and they IMMEDIATELY (none of this multi-hour wait crap) email a serial # - VERY good for oh-god-I-need-it-now scenarios. Kudos.
Unfortunately, it isn't helping at the moment - even after booting laptop in FireWire Target Disk Mode, THEN connecting FW cable, THEN booting host Mac, and writing all this while I wait for it to boot and maybe mount....doesn't mount, and DiskWarrior can't see it so can't do beans.
Reset the PMU at this point on this list of "things to try just in case they help" - I don't even know if these Macs have PRAM to reset with the Vulcan Nerve Pinch key command (option-command-P-R - takes a large handspan....)
After that I try a normal boot and get something new - a grey blinking folder with a "?" in the middle - guessing it can't find a bootable drive. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek.
Held down VNP as described above, after a minute or so it rebooted, so I'll interpret that as Parameter RAM (PRAM) was reset...but after that, couldn't even get it to Target Disk Mode...
Drat and damnation - next step - I'll pull the drive and use my SATA to USB 2.0 converter cable kit to see if that helps it be visible...
Did that - pulled the drive out, connected my USB 2.0 to SATA adaptor, and...it didn't show up, and DiskWarrior didn't see it. Touching it, can feel it spinning up, then spinning down after a brief run. Not good.
Next step - recovery services. Anybody have a data recovery service for Mac laptop drives that has a better success/price ratio than DriveSavers? Egads, this is, I believe, the 3rd laptop drive I've had go bad over the last 3-4 years. Sigh. Long hard day, many other unpleasantnesses going on also.
Just talked to DriveSavers, with my vendor's discount, I'd still be paying $1350 to $2160 if they get all the data I want off (which should be doable, it was all working until it went totally kerflooey). OUCH that is not cheap. Last backup? I've found my pre-NAB disc image, I'm looking for a newer one...
So going back to the original topic - I don't have a reason to believe Software Update had anything to do with this. Appears to be a drive gone bad.
TUESDAY UPDATE - ...so I ordered a new drive and it arrived over the weekend. I had planned to try a board swap to see if that helped. I'd noticed my older laptop drive hadn't mounted when I plugged it into my little USB 2.0 to SATA adaptor, so I tried again just to make sure I hadn't missed an opportunity to fix the apparently bad newer drive. Turns out for a laptop drive to show up, you need to cold boot or reboot. So I got the old drive to show up fine. So then I repeated procedure for the failed drive. During that process, I heard it make a little noise (I had most of the machines in the room off, not common). So I replugged it and leaned in close - uh oh, whirrrrr-click, whirrrrr-click, whirrrrr-click...sounds like Click Of Death to me. It made that sound several times and then spun down. Didn't show up on reboot in any utility as there being any drive there at all.
So I don't think a board swap is going to help.
So I hooked up the just-purchased drive and did a low level format (mapping out bad blocks by using the Zero Write option in Disk Utility, which DOES take hours) and headed out for the evening. When I got back, I mounted my most recent disk image backup (not nearly as recent as I'd like) and used SuperDuper to copy it to the just purchased laptop drive. That worked overnight.
Now I'm debating whether to even try the board swap, Just To Be Sure, or whether to just put the working drive into the laptop, having it download all the mail it can to try to get sync'd back up, updating all the software, etc. Right now, my most recent and correct address book, contacts, and email or on my iPhone - I hope when I reconnect it won't lose or do anything funny to those.
In any case, the next step will be to analyze what I've lost, what I have backups or pseudo-backups of (for instance, my NAB pics are all online at lower res), and decide what if anything I REALLY need and find a cost effective data restoration facility in that case. Thanks VERY much to everyone that has sent in suggestions, I'm going through those today as well online (not checking Comments mail on the iPhone, too much!).
Thanks to all for their helpful suggestions, I'm getting ready to start sifting for recovery service options. I swapped out the logic board between old/busted drive and new drive of same model, no joy. Durn.
Now I'm going to rebuild my laptop with the new drive that has the older backup/restored image on it. But it isn't as new as I'd like.
Apple - Support - Downloads - iTunes 7.3.1 for Mac - among other things, can stream photos from any Mac (yay!) - so maybe I DON'T need to upgrade the onboard 40GB drive....
EDIT: Yeah - look CAREFULLY before leaping:
MacFixIt - The QuickTime 7.2 disaster: Breaks all CFM apps on Intel-based Macs (Office, Photoshop CS2) for some; Problems playing Flash:
Appears to break all CFM apps on some Intel-based Macs (Office, Eudora, older Photoshop versions) Representing one of the most serious issues ever associated with an incremental QuickTime update, QuickTime 7.2 appears to cause functionality problems -- particularly an inability to launch and crashes -- with Carbon CFM (Code Fragment Manager) applications on some Intel-based Macs.
Owie. Check your apps before updating!
Wow. I was going to write something like this, and this is exactly along the lines I was thinking.
Except theirs is better, longer, more in depth, and (especially deep sigh) funnier than what I would have written.
I acquiesce to Jason Chen/Brian Lam. I am depressed and humbled about it, but I do so.
I seek to write this well, this long, this funny, this right.
I at least hope it took them a really, really long time to write. And something got cramped. SOME suffering for their Craft.
(Using smilies is probably not supporting my case for good writing, but they amuse me anyway this late at night. They stay for now.)
Seriously, this is the best read on iPhone to date - 13,500 words on it.
And funny - with references to iPhone=teenager's first Playboy and AT&T=Yeti vagina in the first 5 minutes of reading how can I NOT keep reading? (And I'm still reading at 2:42:17 AM CST no less!)
I'm going to go keep reading...
UPDATE - I've searched to find they address the ringtone issue (you can't load your own, even from your own song library - LAME!), but I thought of this today - you can't use it as a modem, neither via Bluetooth or USB connection. I figured this would be one of the many v1.1 software updates....but then it occurred to me....maybe that was a deal cut with AT&T, and NOT Apple's shortcoming - what if AT&T said DON'T let them do it, because our data plan is unlimited $20/month? If Apple lets you use it as a modem for general purpose computing, the usage would skyrocket (unlimited enhanced EDGE speed Internet access on my trusty Blackbook whenever/wherever I wanted? AND it could pick up WiFi on-the-fly as available too? I'd use it LOTS. And I could see AT&T fearing that, that it'd hose their usage/pricing expectations (a valid business consideration on their part), and MIGHT have therefore mandated Don't You Dare.
a.) If so, BOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! I know it'd require they boost their infrastructure capability above and beyond phone user profile usage, but still, as a consumer.....feels sucky and bullshitty.
b.) From a valid business perspective, they could offer that modem capability as a pay-to-unlock or a monthly fee....
c.) ...but again, that'd feel cheap/lame, considering I'm ALREADY paying $20/month for "unlimited" (Right? Their word!) data access - and I'm supposed to pay again, to check the same email and surf the same web pages, just over a cable (or Bluetooth) to my other device I own? Super lame. Like, false-pretenses-for-war caliber lame.
IF (and remember, this and the ringtone issue are IF not fixed or will be fixable via Software Update within a few months) I'd have to agree with the writer's assertion about AT&T=..........
....but if these two features are unlocked/enabled and all works as hoped for, then AT&T would smell like, um, roses...
So if he covered this, oops apologies I just haven't gotten that far in the article. If not, hey, at least I had ONE original thought on the subject.....
PS - and hey, whatever happened to Cisco's iPhone, and the possible deal for VOIP off theirs (or better yet anybody's) WiFi networking stuff? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Thursday AM update - And another thing, don't know if covered in theirs - Jobs called this the "best iPod ever" - it may be the best looking/functioning iPod ever (although see Jonah's Comment about video playlists), but it the iPhone is the least accessory compatible iPod ever as far as I can tell.
Item: power chargers from previous dock compatibility display a warning about compatibility and audio quality - you're supposed to buy yet another car charger with dock connection.
Related Item: My existing Belkin unit that has a headphone jack in the car charger part, so that audio from the dock connection can go to the car...doesn't work right - I get a huge clicking/thumping sound every second or so - totally a no go. I'm guessing has to do with the headphone speaker/switch.
Item: the headphone jack is so tiny, most existing cables can't fit in there.
Item: That doesn't matter, because it is a special three connector zone plug anyway to accomodate the microphone/switch. Speaking of which, mine is constructed such that when the right headphone is in the ear, the microphone hole is always facing AWAY from my face. Is this correct/as designed? Seems backwards and audio quality reducing at first blush - or is it on purpose to minimize breath harshness pickup?
Item: for the "best iPod ever," considering that the video iPods can run s-video and audio out of a cable or dock...where is this capability for the iPhone? It appears we've actually LOST an existing capability - there's no way to play video on a TV out of the iPhone. And for a portable media player, you'd THINK that'd be a gimme. It would appear the dock connector pinouts are different than existing video iPods in multiple ways then. Did we sacrifice that for some other feature? If so, what feature? It better be reallllllly good. (Bitch/moan/whine.)
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
This is WAY off topic, but personally relevant - Lady Bird Johnson, widow of former President Lyndon Johnson, passed away not an hour ago. She was at home and surrounded by family and friends - a more loving and gentle passing could not have been had.
People in the public eye are often called inspirational and a good role model, and to my cynical eye I often doubt it, ascribing it to power and placement and a good PR team and saying nice things about them. In short, I doubt (witness some of the recent national leadership).
Not so in this case.
If you aren't of a certain age (or from Texas), you may never have heard of her. But here in central Texas, she is Legend, and deeply beloved by ALL. She came from the humblest of beginnings, and distinguished herself not only by assisting her husband's political aspirations, but also on her own - the Highway Beautification Act was "her baby," and in Texas and beyond we can thank her for the seeding of wildflower seeds along highways - it is a beautiful legacy we get to enjoy every spring. She also was very active in Head Start, started the National Wildflower Research Center (later renamed for her, which she started when she was 70), and many other civic and social improvement projects.
As one of MANY examples, right here in Austin, the Town Lake Trail that I run every day (including today) was something that she spearheaded, something beautiful, and wonderful, and in touch with nature, right in the public heart of the city, a treasure for all and for all time. This is deeply indicative of Her Way.
To me, she was a gracious, kind and gentle soul, good to her family and friends, and she will be deeply missed, and her passing mourned heartfelt. A few years ago I attended an event at the LBJ Library and letters she had written over the years were read by her daughters and granddaughters. I was amazed at the eloquence and natural grace of her writing. Someone who knew her well said that anything she wrote was like reading a well crafted novel. Truly, a woman of vision, grace, energy, passion, kindness, empathy, and a deep, driving sense to do goodwill unto all around her.
I bring this up because she and her family have had a powerful, amazing, wonderful, beneficial impact on my own life, and I am deeply grateful. Odds are you wouldn't be reading this blog (because I wouldn't be writing it) if it weren't for her and her family.
Rest well, Lady Bird.
You have earned it.
You are loved.
Everything you need to know about stereo/surround audio monitoring - 2 of mine and another now up on DV.com
Upgrade Your Images with Audio
I'd written a bit on audio acquisition in this article, where I stated that I basically don't know beans about audio field acquisition, just enough to know that it is important and you should get somebody good to do it.
However, I learned quite a bit researching for the DV article about the plugs, formats, budget considerations and whatnot for audio monitoring in stereo, and now with Final Cut Pro 6, surround (5.1 channel) audio monitoring. This article is really a follow up to my previous DV article a few months ago on building an uncompressed HD workstation. Read all about the various audio outputs that you have or can get, the same 3 tiers of Starving Indie, Moderately Equipped Individual, and Well Equipped Invididual/Small Facility Room. For each, I discuss stereo and surround monitoring options, what the interfaces and options and prices are, etc. I'm really proud of this one.
Similarly, for Windows specific info, I wrote a second article (exclusively available online, won't be in the print edition) here:
Upgrade Your Images with Audio: PC Edition
I discuss the more popular options on the Windows side (see? I DO try to cover The Other Side! :D ) - Avid, Adobe, and Sony's Vegas. I talk about the audio I/O hardware/software options available/appropriate to each, and run down some the Windows specific issues that weren't mentioned in the other article.
One mistake that was made in my own editorial process in that Windows specific article - in Group 3, I didn't come back and mention/recommend Avid Media Composer with Adrenaline, which is an entirely valid and appropriate choice for high end editorial individual/small facility setups as discussed in the article. Tomorrow I'll look into getting that fixed (it is well after midnight after an especially taxing few days).
Another area I don't know as much as I'd like to about is proper room setup for serious audio work - I was pleased to see as a companion piece to the articles I wrote there is a nice long article by Dan Daley (or the MUCH more experienced Dan could very fairly call my articles companions to his!) on how to set up a serious, "for real" audio monitoring environment to get accurate, unbiased sound reproduction. He discusses room dimensions, proper speaker setup, proper acoustic treatment of the room, etc. In my brief skim (I'll read the whole thing just haven't yet) I saw a lot of promising stuff, and already learned some good info on minimal room size to get good, accurate acoustic reproduction, etc.
The Sound of Science: Acoustical considerations for the DIY HD studio"
These three articles should give you plenty to work from to set up your own studio. Good luck, and as always, Comments welcome using the link below.
UPDATE/NOTE: One thing I glossed over and was eventually edited out along the way - YES, an SDI or HD-SDI CAN carry enough discrete audio channels to do stereo or surround - so when mastering, the audio flows with video for multi-channel work (want a multi-channel mix on HDCAM? Dolby E is your answer, but you more than likely can't prep that inhouse and will have to send out to have it done, but it "fits" on two channels of uncompressed audio while mastering). Anyway, point being, while audio DOES flow over SDI or HD-SDI, it isn't likely/viable that you have an SDI or HD-SDI deck, sitting around, all the time, such that you can do your audio monitoring through it/on it. If you've got an HDCAM SR deck permanently attached in the same room, GREAT, the HD-SDI can flow through that and (I believe but would need to verify) has enough audio monitor passthroughs that you could do it that way. While it is technically possible to de-embed the audio from an SDI or HD-SDI stream to discrete analog outputs, other than the Blackmagic HDLink Pro (mentioned in the article), I couldn't find a viably affordable means of doing that. So I skipped it.
OH! And big, BIG Special Thanks and Luv to Craig Negoescu, Stu Maschwitz, and SEVERAL folks EACH from Blackmagic, AJA, Avid, and Apple. I wasn't able to contact anybody specific at Adobe but would have loved to talk to somebody over there, simply because I don't have a good direct connection with them (yet).
If you are, or know somebody who should be my connection at Adobe's video group, I'd love to be in direct contact with someone at Adobe's video group to ping for feedback/answers/etc. to make sure I can get accurate, timely, detailed info out into the wild. And with CS3 purportedly coming out within a couple of weeks....
And OK, I am guiltly of headline pimping on this one, and there is no way to learn "everything you need to know" from three articles, but boy, (I maybe-not-so-humbly think) there is a LOT of useful info in there!
I'd like to do these every Friday, but sometimes they slip, especially when life gets crazy busy. So this took until Wednesday - so be it. We'll put together a shorty on Friday and hopefully keep it on schedule thereafter. A new feature of the Blogwad! is a list of articles from HD for Indies that I've updated since they were originally posted. I often write essentially a first-and-a-half type draft and spasticly slam "Post" and within minutes or hours go back and fix the most obvious errors of frothy-blogging syndrome, but I also very often go back and substantially amend, correct, and/or add to prior articles just to have it all tidily in my own place. Unfortunately, unless you go back and check everything, you'd never know.
So at the end of each week there will now be a list in the Blogwad! (yes I like putting it that way) of updated HD4NDs articles so you'll at least KNOW you're missing something good. ; )
Let us begin with a really great chunk of info Michael Horton and crew have put together for our benefit:
Sixth Annual FCP Supermeet
The Sixth Annual FCPUG SuperMeet (Podcast) - 9 Podcasts covering Slow Motion Music Videos, the Red One, Blackmagic Design, and more. LOTS OF GOOD STUFF IN HERE! This would normally be its own post, but I've had some chaos to deal with. Spend an hour or two watching, learn LOTS. Here are links to each and a brief description, thanks (as usual) to Andy for putting these links together, it does take time.
1. - Building the SuperMeet Magazine and Introduction of FCP UG Leaders - Daniel Berube and Michael Horton discuss producing the SuperMeet, building the SuperMeet Magazine and then take you directly to the Palazzo Ballroom for the introduction of FCP User Group leaders from around the world. Some good fun and gives you a taste of what the SuperMeet is all about.
2. - SmartSound Sonicfire Pro 4.5 - Michael Horton welcomes everyone to the SuperMeet and then hands over the mic to Stephanie Joyce of SmartSound who shows off the features of the music scoring app, Sonicfire Pro 4.5 with "Smart Recall" and "Mood Mapping."
3. - JVC GYHD 200 and Slow Motion Music Videos - Craig Yanagi, National Marketing Manager for JVC Professional Cameras, shows off the JVC GYHD 200 with all the bells and whistles attached. Then Craig introduces DP and editor Tim Dashwood of Toronto Canada who shows us how he easily synched the audio for a slow motion (60P) music video he shot using the GYHD 200. Also includes how to use your iPod as a timecode slate.
4. - Red Digital Cinema Camera and the Red Team - Leader of the Rebellion" Ted Schilowitz introduces the Red One Digital Cinema Camera, introduces members of the Red team, announces the Red Pocket camera and discusses workflow with Final Cut Pro.
5. - Sony XDCAM EX, FirmTek, OurStage.com, Automatic Duck, Quantum, and that SuperMeet Feeling - Filmmaker Rick Young of macvideo.TV talks to Sony UK Marketing Manager Carl Pring about the Sony XDCAM EX on the show floor at NAB. Then moves a few city blocks down the show floor to FirmTek where we learn about their storage and host adapter solutions. We then run back to the SuperMeet where Rick talks to OurStage.com, Automatic Duck, Quantum, and then takes you on a tour of the very crowded lobby where over 27 SuperMeet sponsors showed off their toys to the enthusiastic crowd.
Mike's Comments on XDCAM EX: XDCAM EX looks REALLY promising. With fast Macs and FCP 6's ability to transcode long GOP content automatically to ProRes for rendered content (cross dissolves, titled footage, color correction, Motion tabbed, etc.), the editing hindrances of HDV (which is kissing cousin to XDCAM HD, which is a sibling to XDCAM EX just written to different physical media AFAIK) are fading pretty fast. XDCAM EX (I think I heard) is stated (??) to do 35 megabit VBR MPEG-2, which with a full raster 1/2" 1920x1080 imager/s ought to look pretty damn good (so long as the in-camera motion isn't moving at Michael Bay on 6th cappuccino type speeds). BUT....Apple has to support the format first. Actually, Sony has to ship the cameras first, stated to be late/r this year. So here's to hoping by next NAB at the LATEST we'll see an announcement of support and working FCP (7? They grow up so fast, sniff....) for this exciting and promising new format. With the "render back" quality issue addressed in FCP 6, and especially at the $8000 price point and MUCH MUCH MUCH more afforable media, this should be a SERIOUS threat to Panasonic's P2 format and the much beloved HVX200 camera (I belove the HVX's extreme shooting frame rate/size flexibility and color reproduction and P2 workflow, I not-so-belove the P2 media's price point, even after the recent drop).
6. - Blackmagic Design - President of Blackmagic Design, Dan May introduces the Multibridge Eclipse, the Intensity Pro Card and answers the question "What Blackmagic product do I need when working with what media?" He is joined by Philip Hodgetts of the Digital Production Buzz.
7. - Walter Murch Pt. 1 - Sound Mixer and Film Editor Walter Murch takes us through the Post Production Workflow on Francis Coppola's movie Youth Without Youth, defines "Editing," talks about the beginning of his career with Francis Coppola and how he came to use Final Cut Pro. Part 1 of 3 parts.
8. - Walter Murch Pt. 2 - Mr Murch continues our tour of the Post Production process on Youth Without Youth. In this Part 2, he shows us his cutting room in San Francisco, his workstation and how he edits. He discusses the "writing" aspect of editing and reducing the first assembly. We also get to see a bit of his Editing Suite in a "decayed Villa" in Bucharest, where Youth Without Youth was filmed.
9. - Walter Murch Pt. 3 - We move to Bucharest, Romania where the music was recorded, sound fx recording and cutting begins and a three day re-shoot. We then move to the final stages of the movie at Francis Coppola's winery in Napa Valley which doubles as a mixing stage. Walter then takes us on a tour of the human brain where he attempts to answer the question, "Why on earth do we do what we do?" We wrap up with a few questions from the audience.
More Blogwad-y Goodness
Creating Node Trees in Color and the special case of interlaced video (Final Cut Studio 2) - Good hints on the ColorFX room in Color, especially for interlaced video.
Macworld: First Look: From the Lab: Update boosts MacBook Pro scores - Software update increases low performance.
Think Secret - Next-generation iMac tracking for August - Rumors on a slimmer, brushed metal iMac.
Studio Daily Blog - Useful tools for editors - Super Command+Tab!
Cinematical Seven: Tips for the Indie Filmmaker - Cinematical - A few general filmmaking tips.
Like AE? You'll LOVE this! - DVXuser.com - Nice and fun shorts films with lots of motion graphics.
AppleInsider | Apple pushing for multi-touch trademark - Apple calls dibs on "multi-touch."
Going HD Part 4: Beginning Post - Tips for beginning HD editing. UPDATE - Part1, Part 2, Part 3
ARTICLE UPDATES - HD For Indies posts that have been updated recently.
Working with 24P from Canon HV20 - Updated with Windows product info and notes on IRE clipping.
Steven Soderbergh calls Red One 'camera I've been waiting for my whole career' & will 'change everything' - Updated with Jim Jannard's CML comments.
And, as an added treat (dessert? Ice cream for everyone!) here is:
iPhone News -
Macworld: Podcasts: iPhone - Podcast review of the iPhone's first week on the market.
Macworld: Editors' Notes: The iPod of phones - How the iPhone revolution parallels the iPod, and what that means for future phones.
iPhone SERIAL HACKED, FULL INTERACTIVE SHELL - Hackint0sh - ...and how they did it!
Insurer May Jump in to Cover iPhones - Yahoo! News - No Applecare (yet) leaves iPhone insurance open to third-parties. Mikenote - rumor is AppleCare is coming in 1-3 months, and WILL cover accidental damage, dunno about loss....remember, RUMOR.
MacNN | RIM's CEO sees iPhone as "dangerous" - How the iPhone is killing the cell phone business...but it's just so pretty!
iPhone Hacking News Update: iPhoneInterface Tool is Out!! at iPhone Unlocked - For ringtones, custom icons, and potentially custom apps.
Apple: No BS iPhone Review - Gizmodo - 13,500 words. Take it or leave it. Mikenote - and I have to say they start out with potentially very good advice for non-frothy diehard Macnerds - wait. I'll have more to say along those lines soon, I'm thinkin' of a "My first 2 weeks with iPhone" type article to be written. Friday is two weeks. A good quote from the article: "Wait for What?
Look, I'm not saying wait for version 2.0. You don't need new hardware to love the phone; version 1.1 should do it. Wait until Apple updates the software. That was a hard to write, since I'm thumbing through my own iPhone like a teenager with his first Playboy. " Nicely apt metaphor. : ) -mike
Intern Andy Nelson organizes the blogwad from all the stray links of the week and adds his own appropriately pithy/snarky summaries, I pester and organize/edit over his shoulder. Thanks Andy!
I'd also like to say thanks to Geoff Frost, the other intern, whose contributions are not as obviously visible on the blog except for his recent HVX workflow article he wrote and I added onto in my usual pestery form.
Monday, July 09, 2007
$100 off means $500 for an excellent Blu-ray player (I sent mine out on a Tuesday and got it back by Friday, excellent service response!) with a 60 GB drive and oh yeah - it plays PS3 games!
"'Our initial expectation is that sales should double at a minimum,' Jack Tretton, chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment America, said in an interview."
Welllllll, I'd say that is optimistic, but I'd say it would certainly help sales.
In the meantime, all the content is still there if you would like to support HD for Indies by purchasing the goodies you otherwise would at Amazon through my Amazon Store.
Movies - DVDs, HD DVDs, and Blu-ray - includes a revolving list of bestsellers and is also organized by category.
Macs of all types
Software (including upgrades)
AppleTV & iPod
HD Players- HD-DVD & Blu-ray
....and is further subdivided by category once you get to the pages in question.
Just wanted to let you know we have a new music video from Madina Lake and directed by Dori Oskowitz "in association with Oasis Production Services called "Here I stand" now playing on MTV2. It was completely shot (including all the slow-motion) with the SI-2K MINI camera. It can also be viewed online at:
Link for your convenience.
One drag - Windows Media 9 PC ONLY. Can't watch from my Mac, durnit.
Steve has graciously offered to let me post the results of the tests on HD for Indies, so I of course will be keeping right on top of the test results as best I can.
Steve sent me a nice update of what's up with the plans, links are all to Reduser.net:
L.A. REDTest (LART)
The L.A REDTest (LART), which started out as my concept to get a few guys together to test my camera, has now grown into a huge project involving the team testing four RED One cameras (#8, 13, 17, 19), a huge array of lenses and adaptors, multiple accessories, stabilization units, VXF/green screen, and much more - at a state of the art studio location. The testing team is now 21 independent pros representing virtually every skill set and knowledge base in the digital and film industry.
The thread I started on June 24 on RED User announcing LART has now grown to 18 pages, 174 posts, and 9,681 page views. Through the thread I have periodically updated the team roster, testing parameters, and equipment we will be testing. Here are those key posts of mine:
Page 1, Post 1: Announces the testing, initial team members, and intentions of LART.
Page 5, Post 44: Updates team and equipment
Page 7, Post 61: Expands testing to four cameras, adds VFX/green screen team, announces inclusion of Birger adaptor, ActionCam stabilization unit, and lens expert Chuck Colburn
Page 11, Post 115: My further update of the testing team roster, bringing the total to 21 guys.
(FYI - On Page 12, Post 115, Mark Pederson offered to also bring RED 6 & 7 to LART, something I thanked him for, but we won't know until close to testing time if the LART schedule will match Offhollywood's schedule needs for their cameras. Link: http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?t=2995&page=12 )
L.A. REDTest is a Co-production of Steve Gibby and Ken Corben. The testing will be directed by Evin Grant.
This independent testing will give us a HUGE bolus of hard test data to work with.
Review of a one-trick-pony plugin for After Effects - do you need to make a 2D/3D animated graph for something? Here's a $500 plugin that does it and does it well with lots of controls.
Digital Anarchy has been making powerful plugins for a long time, they make good stuff.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Similar to Geoff Frost's post on HVX200 production tips, my other intern, Andy Nelson, has been doodling around with a Canon HV20, and I asked him to post his notes on his experiences with the HV20. Below is his article on dealing with 24p. BTW - if looking to figure out how to get optimal results out of the HV20, FreshDV's interview with Bruce Allen (he of recent Cinegear report) has some EXCELLENT specific details on hands on usage and testing on how to get the most out of the HV20.
This is thematically similar to Steve Mullen's recent piece on dealing with the V1's 24p in Final Cut Pro
More coverage to follow on that, but here's Andy's report on the HV20 and 24p, my comments in italics:
For a thousand bucks the Canon HV20 isn’t a bad little camera, especially after putting some work into getting 24P from it. The HV20 uses HDV, so it only records 60i to tape and adds 3:2 pulldown for its 24fps mode. You can, however, acheive some pretty good results with a reverse telecine to remove the pulldown for full-on progressive beauty. To do this I began by capturing with the Apple Intermediate Codec, as to bypass the temporal compression of MPEG2 that comes with native HDV, and then went two routes for the reverse telecine…(Mike comment - the MPEG-2 compression is from the source HDV, by transcoding to AIC, FCP can process that footage faster, and your recompression/generational losses will be less. This was with FCP 6 not 5.x, BTW)
The Hard Way:
The first way I did this was using Cinema Tools (After Effects or something like JES Deinterlacer will also work ...but using After Effects, with its RGB processing, can clip superwhite and sub-black values - mike). After opening my clip in Cinema Tools, I used the Reverse Telecine button at the bottom of the window. Cinema Tools does not do a “smart” reverse telecine, you have to tell it where to start and what to do. 3:2 pulldown puts the 24P footage down as 60i on tape in a pppii cadence, p for progressive frames and i for interlaced (three progressive and two interlaced, hence 3:2). Essentially, you must tell Cinema Tools what frame of this cadence you are starting with. The button brings up a window with options for Capture Mode, Fields, File, and Frames. It is quite a process to determine the Capture Mode and Fields options, while File and Frames are rather straightforward. This diagram from the Cinema Tools manual was helpful...
Capture Mode has to do with the repeating frame sequence of the clip. I used “Field 1 – Field 2,” which means that my footage contains both fields with Field 1 Dominance, as opposed to the other options: Field 2 Dominance, Field 1 Only, or Field 2 Only.
So if you've been using the HV20 below its full potential--or thinking about how this little camera stacks up, Compressor 3 can give you nice 24P very easily.
Also, if you want to go the extra step and add some shallow depth of field, check out the lens adapter rigs below....
PROLOST - Redrock Gets It
PROLOST - Gold Rims On the Hoopty
PROLOST - TurboHoopty2000
Mike's follow up questions - I'd want to do further testing to absolutely verify that Compressor is figuring out cadence changes within a single captured clip (which could include lots of starts and stops, and stops could be almost anywhere in the cadence process). I'd like to verify whether >100 IRE values do or don't get clipped in this process, and if they do, what steps can be taken to preserve them.
Andy's follow up answers - This article on 24P HDV and ProRes from Tim Wilson at Creative Cow has some more info on Compressor's "smart" reverse telecine. He's done at least 20 tests the same way with successful results. I did run another test using footage with very bright whites and as far as IRE values greater than 100 go, they DO get clipped in this process. The workaround, as described in Stu Maschwitz's DV Rebel's Guide, is fairly simple; lower the opacity of the clip to around 90% (or check the scopes until you're under 100) and make sure to go into FCP's clip settings and under "Video Processing" select "Render all YUV material in high-precision YUV" as to not lose image quality while darkening your video.
Mike's continuation of that - ...and then export that in some high quality codec, preferably 10 bit, such as Apple Uncompressed 10 bit 4:2:2 or ProResHQ - THEN process via Compressor, THEN bring the levels back in FCP when you color correct (or maybe in Color - I need to check that round trip workflow to see if superwhites and sub-blacks are maintained).
-andy & mike
SATURDAY UPDATE - a commenter mentioned the 3:2 pulldown removal capabilities of Cineform, and I recalled they could do it and do it well, so I emailed David Newman:
This blog post was mostly letting my intern explore and commenting on it a bit more - do you have a specific page that outlines the 24p extraction goodness? And for working with HDMI and HD-SDI sources as well for "live" capturing and how it does that?
We do have a technote on the subject : http://www.cineform.com/products/TechNotes/InverseTelecine.htm
All our PC products now support live capture and pulldown removal from Intensity, Decklink or AJA Xena in real-time.
The pulldown extraction is not dependent on repeat flags, as it is an image analysis technique that works on all telecined sources, however they are encoded. We originally developed this for the HDSDI output from the Canon XL-H1, since then Wafian uses it, Mircosoft uses it for ingest all the HD materials of Xbox Live, and now it works very well for HDMI sources.
Real-time removal of telecine is helpful is several ways. It can save a compression generation, while not a big issue for CineForm, capturing to 60i then converting to 24p, is a lot of encoding and decoding before the edit. Also with live pull-down removal, compression is easier, takes less CPU and produces significantly small files at higher quality.
The Digital Bits presents... The Soapbox presents a strong argument as to why they think Blu-ray is going to win, and they have a lot of good data to back that up.
Specifically, they point out that the Blu-ray to HD DVD software sales have been 58/42 percent since inception, and this calendar year they are 67/33, Blu-ray winning in both cases.
They also have a few things not quite so right - they think Microsoft is backing HD DVD to push VC-1 codec, stating "Second, HD-DVD uses Microsoft's VC-1 video compression codec almost exclusively." - this is misleading at least, wrong if you get technical. The format supports MPEG-2, VC-1, and H.264 - exactly the same as Blu-ray does. That VC-1 is used most often for HD DVDs....doesn't really motivate MS IMHO. MUCH more significant is that the interactive layer is based on Microsoft's efforts, whereas BDi is based on open Java, and MS doesn't want that out in the wild and popular.
Also, I'm not fond of their comparative math on Matrix vs. Pirates box set sales - different price points, different bundles. Their comparison of The Departed, available on both formats, is much more instructive, with Blu-ray outselling by a chunky margin.
"Apple will introduce built-in support for Adobe Flash on the iPhone in the 'next couple of months', according to a leading technology pundit.
The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg believes support for Adobe's ubiquitous online standard will be introduced into the iPhone in the form of a future software update."
Just because a pundit says it doesn't make it so. I've heard both sides - that they need to add it, and also that they never will, due to a burgeoning format war in the mobile content delivery format space. Adobe's Flash Lite vs. hardware accelerated H.264 and MPEG-4 on iPods and iPhones. The mobile market is VERY fractured - if Apple comes out with more phones at affordable prices in the future, they could do to phones what they did to MP3 players. And price matters, but not indefinitely - people know quality when they touch it, and they want it. Whether they can afford it is another matter.
Creating Node Trees in Apple Color at FreshDV
"The lovely and talented Wendy Gribble (Graeme's better half) has shared an informative tutorial on Apple Color over at Ken Stone's site. The article talks walks you through creating node trees and dealing with interlaced sources. She also shares a quick example of the G Smart Denoise plugin, part of the Nattress Advanced Plugins for Color package. And while you are over at the Nattress site, snag the free G Blend blending mode plugin for Color."
I STILL think that indie DP's should be looking at Color as the back half of their process (if they can't afford to have a serious colorist do it for them) - I think there is a lot of talent to be found (as well as a lot of egregious beginner's mistakes to be made) from folks shooting video and then treating it in Color - much like there was a LOT of bad Photoshop art & retouch in the 90s, but out of that came some fine talent and a new ethos about image making.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Thanks to commenter Evan for sending this link in. Digging around, found this bit of direct bit of specs goodness from the Ensure a Great Audio and Video Experience section:
Encode Video for Wi-Fi and EDGE
You can use the QuickTime Player Pro Export command and the following exporters to prepare video content for iPhone:
The Movie to MPEG-4 exporter with the following settings prepares movies for Wi-Fi.
In the H.264 video options, make sure you restrict the encoder to use the Baseline profile, and select "Faster encode (Single-pass)" encoding in the Video Options dialog.
Video settings: 900 kbit/sec, H.264, 480 x 360; frame rate: current; preserve aspect ratio using: Fit within size
Audio settings: 128 kbit, AAC-LC
The Movie to 3G exporter with the following settings prepares movies for EDGE.
Video settings: 64 kbit, H.264, 176 x 144; frame rate: 10 or 15; preserve aspect ratio using: Letterbox or Crop
Audio settings: 16 kbit, AAC-LC
In each exporter, turn off streaming; iPhone does not stream media using RTP/RTSP.
Size Movies Appropriately
In landscape orientation, iPhone screen is 480 x 320 pixels. Users can easily switch the view mode between scaled-to-fit (letterboxed) and full-screen (centered and cropped). You should use a size that preserves the aspect ratio of your content and fits within a 480 x 360 rectangle.
Don’t Let Bit Rate Stall Your Movie
When viewing media over the network, bit rate makes a crucial difference to the playback experience. If the network cannot keep up with the media bit rate, playback stalls.
Use Supported Movie Formats
The following movie formats are supported:
H.264 Baseline Profile Level 3.0 video, up to 640 x 480 at 30 fps. Note that B frames are not supported in the Baseline profile.
MPEG-4 Part 2 video (Simple Profile)
AAC-LC audio, up to 48 kHz
.mov, .mp4, .m4v, .3gp file formats
Any movies or audio files that can play on an iPod.
Note that 2 pass VBR is NOT supported for H.264, darn it.
Create a Reference Movie
A reference movie contains a list of movie URLs, each of which has a list of tests. When opening the reference movie, a playback device or computer chooses one of the movie URLs by finding the last one that passes all its tests. Tests can check the capabilities of the device or computer, and the speed of the network connection.
For more details on reference movies and instructions on how to set them up see Applications and Examples in HTML Scripting Guide for QuickTime.
You can download the MakeRefMovie tool from:
The article goes on to explain how to set up your code to get that full screen playback action luv like on the Apple Trailers site (if you have an iPhone and visit that page, you'd know what I'm talking about - clicking movie link makes it play fullscreen, but only on iPhone).
Compressor 3.0.1 has some presets mentioning iPhone, but they aren't REALLY optimized for iPhone. I didn't realize EDGE versions of movies (on YouTube and Apple trailer site) were different bandwidth than WiFi versions, but that makes total sense.
SOMEBODY should alter/build a preset to the above specs for Compressor, save and post them, hint hint hint...I'll host'em. EDIT - wellllllll....I just tried, and it isn't that easy - the settings don't match, can't get there from here to get fully optimized settings, can't set datarate low enough in the Apple Devices preset, etc. - looks like doing it manually in QT Pro is the way to go until Compressor 3.0.2 comes down the Software Update pipe. Poop - no batch processing for you. But wait - somewhere, somewhen, I recall an app that let you batch process with QT Player Pro - anybody remember what that was or where it came from? Somebody search versiontracker.com and look it up and test. Consider this the "Tag, you're it!" moment - I got us this far, somebody else figure out the rest and I'll post it up here.
Gentlemen, start your optimized en/coding engines...
I picture having this and a 17", 1920 res Macbook Pro and Redcine running...maybe connected to an AJA IO HD and a JVC DTV1710CG monitor running FCP 6 on set to see what you're REALLY getting?
NICE option to have.
Thanks to Mark of Off Hollywood Digital for sending this in, they're planning on having one for their Red One kit.
Reduser.net - View Single Post - List of MetaData options
Metadata ingest via USB
Well starting with, but not limited to -
Time of Day Timecode
Project Frame Rate
Instanaeous Frame Rate
Shutter Speed / Angle
R, G, B Gain
Tonal Response Curve
Audio sample rate / bit depth
Zoom, Focus, Aperture values
Clip Name -
Date of Recording
Credits (optional) - Project, Director, Camerman, Editor etc"
The question then becomes what software can use and read that - I'd imagine/hope Redcine could convert that to a text file or Excel sheet, but how long will it take for post software to read in that data?
Somebody later asks about additional metadata, like GPS or other physical position/rotation/translation data - if appropriate drivers are written, that kind of data could be brought in live over USB as shooting and included on a per-frame basis....SCHWEET!
"Gefen's new HDMI CAT-5 MS Extreme enables users to put up to 300 feet between a high definition video source and its display, using industry-standard category 5 network cabling. It costs $549 and is now available for pre-order."
Run HDMI over Cat 5 for long distances? Sweet.
-new format support
-improved plugin capabilities
-WMVHD, VC1 and Windows Media Format 11 file writing support
-VST audio filter plug-in support
-DVCPro HD (MXF) file reading
-Real-time Output support for NewTek video hardware cards
-Time Code burn-in for both local and project timecode
-Advanced Crossfade types
-"Improved performance, quality, and stability"
-Floating point HDR image reading
-Expanded DVD-format writing capability
“Working with multiple formats, frame rates and resolutions is a must in today’s production industry. At the same time, speed is paramount to staying competitive.” said Ted R. Ruiz Sr., Owner, Ad-Venture Video Productions “With NewTek’s SpeedEDIT handling DVCPro files of all types on one timeline in real time, I can’t think of any reason to use another product. My workflow just got more effieicent with SpeedEDIT 1.2”.
I'm not a fan of using off-major software for serious narrative projects. But good to know fast, affordable stuff is out there.
But I can think of lots of reasons to use another product.
"Apple Inc. has filed for a patent describing a computer mouse having a touch-sensative shell capable of accepting multi-touch finger gestures, similar to the surface of the company's iPhone handset."
Ooooooooooooooh. Nice - after messing with my iPhone all weekend, I started downloading pix from it into iPhoto, and I wanted to zoom in and started to reach for some kind of multi-touch controller - but it wasn't there. I stared at the little scale slider and had one thought: "Lame."
Don't you hate it when you suddenly feel all your cool gear is instantly obsolete, out of date?
Multi-touch will be BIG. When I can get a laptop that has normal and multi-touch modes (frogdesign designed a laptop that had a double hinge design that would tablet or normal mode). Have a "real" keyboard and touch tablet (which itself could multi-touch), and then touchable screen - THAT would be killer. I'd buy one, and pay what - a $500 premium?
EDIT - ah - here's that Vadem frog designed back in 2000 (thanks to Mark for digging this out of the archives). So imagine a Macbook variant with a screen that flips like this:
More iPhone notes:
Design on Wall Street / frog in the News / frog design My former boss and fellow iPhone line waiter Mark Rolston (he was in a lawn chair at 1pm right after this interview on Bloomberg News Channel waiting for his own, about 30 people in front of my group) talks about the iPhone before release, and the expected flaws, and how it'll be received by the industry - and whether/how fast RIM will react. Way to go Mark! Also, way to go on dressing up for national news - I see you wore a t-shirt without visible logo, touche. :D
Mark told me some years ago that a lot of cell phone UI and OS are pretty much written ground up each time - so UI and functionality changes are a big, hairy, obnoxious deal - think how rarely you hear about cell phones getting updates available. Unlike with iPhone, where it is just a cut down OS X, with an API and *nix underneath, allowing for easier updates, with a built-in distribution methodology (updates via iTunes just like an iPod).
Other notes on iPhone - there is no way to Bluetooth beam or even email your contact info to someone. Feh.
You can't Bluetooth to use the iPhone as a modem for your computer. Double feh.
On the Go playlists either forget themselves entirely or I'm doing it wrong - twice I've spent time putting together playlists, and it is gone later.
BTW - I've continued to add, on a daily basis, to the end of my egregiously titled iPhone post from Friday.
"HD DVD has recently faced some head wind in its struggle to become the high-definition successor to the DVD, but its supporters are playing an ace from their sleeve with the arrival of the first discs that take advantage of its players' built-in Internet connections."
That is a nice feature, but I don't see that as potently differentiating for most consumers. I don't know, I'll have to Netflix one and see what difference it makes. The first title is some who-cares Anime thing, but 300 comes out end of July:
The HD DVD version of "300" will allow users to re-edit the movie, selecting and ordering the scenes as they see fit, and upload their edit to a server hosted by the studio, Warner Bros. The edit will be accessible to other users, who can download it to their players and see the movie in its new form.
"300" will be available on the competing Blu-ray high-definition disc as well, but will lack the re-editing feature and a few other extras like a strategy game, Collins said, because not all Blu-ray players can connect to the Internet.
That's of marginal value, even to geeky me. Read on for the other less-than-thrilling options being offered online. If there were unique content, streaming video from related stuff....I'd be more interested. If I could watch on the big HDTV.
Talking to my pretty well connected geek crew as we waited to get into Transformers on Tuesday night (mmmm....beer 'splodey fun!), they were of the opinion that Blu-ray was pulling away and that the marketing clout and muscle of the PS3 was going to kick HD DVD's butt. Hmmm. Wait and see.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Steven Soderbergh calls Red One 'camera I've been waiting for my whole career' & will "change everything'
OK I lied about blogging again today - this was too good not to post, even on the 4th of July:
Quote from Steven Soderbergh... - Reduser.net
'This is the camera I've been waiting for my whole career: jaw-dropping imagery recorded onboard a camera light enough to hold with one hand. I don't know how Jim and the RED team did it--and they won't tell me--but I know this: RED is going to change everything.'
WOW. That is quite the accolade. As previously reported, Soderbergh has committed to shooting his next two films with Red Ones, and I heard somewhere that shooting has begun (or is about to) on one of them with a beta Red One unit.
As I posted over on the Reduser thread:
I actually had a chance to talk to Soderbergh many years ago at the Austin Film Festival, probably around 1997, after Schizopolis but before Out of Sight - it wasn't the peak of his career. He was in a Q&A session, him and Richard Linklater, and he really shone in that session. I like Linklater's work, but as an individual talking about the craft, Soderbergh's wattage was about 9 times brighter.
I, of course, digiboy that I was (making a living doing mographics & 2D/3D animation then), asked him what he thought of digital production stuff and he lit right up, talking knowledgably about the then state of the art, and his hopes for the future, and the cameras he'd worked with. A very interesting and engaging and knowledgable guy.
Years later, I got a chance to work on a music video that was being shot by a friend or DP or somebody connected to him, because they were shooting on "Steven's Canon" I don't recall if it was an XL1/1S/2, but it was "mo bettah" because it was a pre-production unit built to greater than production specifications, and it was Steven's personal baby.
So yeah, other than the obvious digital productions he's done over the years, he's been way into this stuff for a long, long time.
Again, kudos to the Red Team for impressing somebody that knows their shiznit - so he's highly qualified to make these kinds of statements.
THURSDAY UPDATE Jim Jannard posted to CML (Cinematographer's Mailing List) last night, adding some further details:
Steven Soderbergh to shoot "The Argentine" and "Guerrilla" exclusively with RED cameras.
In a very brave move, Steven Soderbergh has chosen to shoot "The Argentine" and "Guerrilla", starring Benecio del Toro, with RED prototype cameras. Soderbergh will shoot RED at full 4K resolution, REDCODE RAW and record to Compact Flash.
....then the quote from above, then continuing....
The prototypes are two generations newer than Boris and Natasha, the cameras Peter Jackson used to shoot "Crossing the Line" in New Zealand a couple of months ago.
The RED 18-55mm T3 (f2.8) CF lens and many RED accessories were also chosen by Soderbergh for these movies. Shooting begins in Spain July 24th.
All good stuff, encouraging to see. I think the Red One will have significant positive impact for a broad range of filmmakers, film styles, and budgets.
To all my American brethren, Happy 4th of July! Celebrate our indepence as you see fit. I have already joined my neighborhood parade & party (which was cancelled due to rain, but everybody showed up anyway and had a good time, which strikes me as perfectly South Austin/American reaction to adversity); and I'm going to watch fireworks tonight with a cute girl. What's a better day than THAT?
To everybody else, have a nice and lovely Wednesday, this is all the blogging I'm doing today (holiday!)
So there's been a lot of controversy over the new shooting permit requirements for NYC - see this NYTimes article I mentioned in the blogwad the other day. Here's the meat of the matter:
New rules being considered by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance.
The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment.
Julianne Cho, assistant commissioner of the film office, said the rules were not intended to apply to families on vacation or amateur filmmakers or photographers.
Nevertheless, the New York Civil Liberties Union says the proposed rules, as strictly interpreted, could have that effect. The group also warns that the rules set the stage for selective and perhaps discriminatory enforcement by police.
“These rules will apply to a huge range of casual photography and filming, including tourists taking snapshots and people making short videos for YouTube,” said Christopher Dunn, the group’s associate legal director.
Mr. Dunn suggested that the city deliberately kept the language vague, and that as a result police would have broad discretion in enforcing the rules.
So at first blush, this sets off several alarm bells in my own head:
-potential for selective police enforcement - they don't like what you're up to? You're bounced.
-burdensome for indie/garage level efforts
-$1M production insurance - for >10 minutes on sticks? With my $300 DV camera and $40 sticks? That seems wacky
-how long does it take to get a permit? What if I'm trying to film reactions on the street to some current event and need more than 10 minutes on sticks- I gotta get a permit? Certainly that can't be obtained in a day.
Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing chimes in:
The ACLU warns that these rules are designed to be selectively enforced, and selective enforcement is most often aimed at brown people, protestors, and other people who face discrimination in everyday life.
Well put. The protestor one is the one that clangs the bells most in my head, in terms of preventing or thwarting socially valid documentary efforts. The ACLU also points out the story of an Indian man who was detained for not having a permit, but later found there were no guidelines for issuing permits, and he couldn't get a written explanation for why he was denied when he asked for a permit.
So there's two sides to this - the political/social/free speech rights side of this as discussed above, then the business, practical side of making movies and TV shows side of this. To get the latter perspective, I decided to check in with somebody on site - I reached out to my friend Mark Pederson of Offhollywood Digital (he's a producer/co-owner) to get his take on the matter. He was kind enough to sit down and take some time and write up the following:
I just wanted to send you some comments on recent press regarding new rules that New York City Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting (MOFTB) has under consideration.
Most of the "controversy" seems to be coming from the fact that the New York Civil Liberties Union says the proposed rules "set the stage for selective and perhaps discriminatory enforcement by police" and that tourists, amateur photographers, and would-be filmmakers could be forced to get a permit and $1 million dollars in liability insurance. Now, I know nothing about the New York Civil Liberties Union specifically, but I do believe that groups and organizations that fight for civil rights and liberties are extremely important, and I appreciate their concern. I do however, feel that almost all of the articles I have read really seem to be a bit "out of context" and really unbalanced. Headlines like "Permit May Be Required For Public Photography" are just ridiculous and in my opinion, poor journalism.
Currently, you do NOT need a permit (or insurance) to shoot "hand held" in the city. If you put your camera, any kind of camera, DV, HD, 35mm, 4K, whatever, on a tripod for ten minutes or more, you do need a permit (which you can NOT get without a liability policy with a minimum of $1M coverage).
Now, just so everyone is clear, New York does not charge ANYTHING for shooting permits. . Permits are FREE. And so is parking for your production vehicles. And so are police officers from the NYPD Movie and TV Unit when your project is shooting at an exterior location which requires traffic control, or has a scene with prop firearms, weapons or actors in police uniforms. Free. Over 20 years of shooting in New York - and on many under-staffed, under-budgeted feature films that suffered from typical lack of organization - I have NEVER been let down by MOFTB, and they have saved my butt on more that one occasion.
MOFTB has issued such permits for over 40 years and the process is remaining substantially unchanged - here's exactly what the proposed changes are:
The New Rules
The proposed rules would effect the following practical changes:
1) Film or still photography activity involving a tripod and a crew of 5 or more persons (at one site for 10 or more minutes) would require a permit, or the same activity among two people at a single site for more than 30 minutes. However, note that this situation is RARE for recreational photographers;
2) Applicants unable to meet the insurance requirement may be eligible for a waiver of insurance;
3) Still photographers engaged in "permitted" activity (activity where you need a permit) would require insurance. "Permitted" activity can include those where vehicles or equipment other than hand-held cameras are used.
So, let's put this is perspective.
You can still go out with your HDV camera, a full 35mm hand rig, or your new RED ONE 4K camera and shoot all over NYC WITHOUT a permit, for as LONG AS WANT if you are hand-held.
If you are a "crew of 2" - you can be at one site, with your camera ON A TRIPOD for up to 30 minutes WITHOUT A PERMIT.
And "Those guys standing across the street? Never seen them before. They're not with the two of us". Get it?
A "crew of 4 or less" - you can be ON A TRIPOD at one site for up to 10 minutes.
Again, PERMITS are free, you do need to carry a liability policy, which EVERY film and EVERY production company has - which by the way, you need to have just to RENT OFFICE SPACE in New York City. These rules were NOT designed to apply to families on vacation or amateur filmmakers or photographers. MOFTB works extremely hard to keep producers, film crews and residents happy. I am actually amazed they do what they do with such a small staff. Sometimes I complain about shooting in the city, it's hard to find "holding areas" for cast and crew and there's always the location on the 5th or 6th floor with no freight elevator, etc. - but how many city's can you close down whole streets and get a dozen police officers for free?
Thanks Mark for taking the time to point all this out. We talked on the phone for a bit about this, and he also pointed out that NYC is very solicitous of film business, and NYC locations are typically much more affordable than jaded LA. The MOFTB also balances the desires of film/video shooters with respect for the neighborhoods - if one area has been inundated with productions, the office will declare that a "hot zone" and nobody can shoot for a month or two - to give the neighborhood a rest. Seems like a really good system.
So YES, selective law enforcement could still be a potential issue, BUT it sounds like MOFTB is pretty accomodating to film/video shooters. Get your insurance (anybody know what a one day $1M liability policy goes for in NYC?) and Mark yelled across the office to ask Aldey Sanchez (his biz partner) how much lead time a permit usually takes - "within the week" is what Aldey shouted back.
Oh - and you could always try the trick that Stu recommended in his excellent DV Rebel's Guide - set up your sticks in the back of a parked pickup or on a flatbed, and you're not blocking foot traffic on the sidewalk, so perhaps might not need a permit. Hmm - would this still fit under the new guidelines? Anybody that knows better, please chime in.
Anybody else have anything they want to say about this? Feel free to use the Comment link below or email me directly (mike [at] hdforindies [dot] com. Any particularly good stuff I'll fold into this article.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
DIY C-Stand Tutorial at FreshDV For the independent filmmaker on a cheap or low budget the fact that a good C-stand can cost upward of $175 each can be a bit of a downer. Well for those do-it-yourself filmmakers here is a great little solution for around $30 + a little elbow grease and some time you can build your own C-stands.
Adobe - Creative Suite 3, Creative License - Take as much as you want More details and info and case studies on Adobe's CS3.
Ikegami and Toshiba Provide Details of Advanced New Tapeless ENG Camera, Editing and Production System | Studio Daily All-New Tapeless HD ENG Solution Includes Digital Camcorder, Field Recorder, and Studio Deck Using Flash Memory For Efficient Workflow From Acquisition to Archiving
OT: I Am Bloxorz, Destroyer of Free Time Possibly one of the most addicting games on the internet.
An Open Letter from your Sound Department - A Production Sound Manifesto written by audio professionals "This letter is being written by audio professionals to help directors and producers understand how good sound can be recorded on the set. We want to help you make the best film possible." A MUST READ for any filmmaker. (Was blogged last week in my audio entry.)
Making the Movie: CineGear Expo 2007 Great blog which includes a great CineGear 2007 post.
Codex Digital announces ground-breaking portable field recorder No larger than a toaster, the Codex Portable’s cutting-edge design is packed with powerful, ground-breaking features, and the industry’s most advanced technology – creating brand new opportunities for single and multi-camera production. The Codex Portable can record from virtually every digital camera from HD to 4K. It is quick to deploy – on set, at a sports event or up a mountain – and takes production workflow to unprecedented levels.
IRIDAS Extends RAW Support to ARRI D20 Camera | Studio Daily IRIDAS, who introduced the first live playback of RAW files earlier this year, announced support for real-time de-Bayering of ARRI D20 digital camera footage.
HV20 1920x1080 4.2.2 Uncompressed - Reduser.net Add the incredible quality of HDMI to your computer. Intensity features the latest HDMI technology for the highest quality capture and playback on Windows or Mac OS X computers. Now you can edit using big-screen HDMI televisions and video projectors, or capture uncompressed quality from HDV cameras all for only $249
Cinematech's Scott Kirsner on Alternative Distribution at FreshDV Variety columnist and brains behind Cinematech, writer Scott Kirsner spent some time with the FreshDV team recently and dished on alternative distribution options for indie films and where the market is heading. Great podcast.
David Mullen ASC on Directing Methods at FreshDV "A post by David Mullen over at RedUser.net caught my eye. He’s talking about various organization and directing methods used by some of the directors Mullen has DP’d for." - FresHDV
Download-to-DVD now an option for Apple, CinemaNow, others Commercial video download sites like CinemaNow and the iTunes Store will soon have the option of allowing customers to burn copies of downloaded movies to DVDs that will playback in standard DVD players, thanks to an amendment recently approved by the DVD Copy Control Association.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Lifehacker Top 10: Top 10 iPhone applications - Lifehacker While developers and users alike aren't thrilled that third-party iPhone apps are limited to the web, you might be surprised at the impressive offerings that have already been developed for new iPhone users. Today's top 10 features the best iPhone applications that should be ready for your iPhone as soon as you pull the shiny monnolith from its coveted black box.
Get Back In Line: 2-Year Agreement NOT Required for iPhone - Gizmodo
iPhone processor found: 620MHz ARM CPU - Engadget Looks like today's morning's firmware leak turned up some well hidden details about the iPhone's hardware engine -- and also confirming some reports we'd previously received. From what we can tell, it looks like the iPhone's got a 620MHz ARM chip running under the hood.
iPhones loved despite flaws - Yahoo! News
Apple sold 525,000 iPhones since launch: report - Yahoo! News
Macworld: News: Amaphone lets you browse Amazon.com from iPhone Karelia Software, makers of the popular Sandvox visual Web page editing software for Mac OS X, have launched Amaphone, an Amazon.com browser Web application specifically designed for the iPhone. It’s being launched as a free beta version.
MacNN | iPhone fastest selling Apple product ever?
Slashdot | MacBooks to Feature iPhone's Multi-Touch?
Sales of iPhones beat analysts' expectations - International Herald Tribune
AppleInsider | How to port 'ineligible' mobile numbers to AT&T and iPhone Some iPhone customers trying to port their mobile numbers from carriers such as Verizon are being told by the iTunes software and AT&T customer service reps that their current mobile number 'cannot be transfered,' is 'ineligible' for a port, or 'isn't being released' from its existing carrier. Fortunately, we've figured out a workaround to this issue.
Apple explains iPhone Battery Replacement Program | MacMinute News
Wired News - AP News While blogs continue to simmer with complaints from people who waited months to buy an iPhone and now are experiencing problems activating it, AT&T Inc. said Sunday that the situation has improved.
MacNN | Griffin ships PowerJolt charger for iPhone
TubeSock 2.0.2 - Mac OS X - VersionTracker TubeSock grabs YouTube videos from the web and copies them to your video iPod, Mac, or PlayStation Portable. You can preview the videos in TubeSock directly. TubeSock knows how to convert video using the codecs and bitrates best for each device. It can even add the video to iTunes for you. Includes easy integration with Safari and Firefox. Until you register, converted videos are limited to 30 seconds.
Macworld: First Look: How the iPhone service plan measures up Cool little chart comparing AT&T iPhone services to other phone companies.
Links from previous post:
Some pics from the iPhone camera: iPhoned
This is similar to what I got but flatter since no cable management:
The Apple Store (U.S.) - Incase Molded Rubber Case for iPhone (Black)
Static cling cover, protects from scratches etc. - this sounds like a good idea since almost all cases leave the front vulnerable. But these are guaranteed to still work w/multi-touch.
The Apple Store (U.S.) - Power Support Crystal Film Set for iPhone
The Apple Bluetooth thing looks sleek and nice (and black not white!) but is absurdly expensive at $129. The Apple Store (U.S.) - Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset
STRESS TEST - KEY SCRATCHING AND SIDEWALK DROPPING - YouTube - iPhone's first scratch/crash test ever! -iPhone Stress Test
AppleInsider | Apple planning host of iPhone updates before Leopard release - report: "A true instant messaging client described as a mobile version of iChat, will arrive 'very, very soon' and certainly before Leopard, the designer says. Customized ringtones were also set to appear within the same timeframe.
But fall 2007 is when the iPhone's features are set to expand in earnest, he adds. The iPhone will not only gain a disk mode for transferring computer files but should also receive a full-fledged file browser that lets users store and open documents."
HD video: iPhone interface complete walkthrough - Engadget
Apple - iPhone - Tech Specs
Video Apple - iPhone - Tech Specs: "Video formats supported: H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Low-Complexity version of the H.264 Baseline Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; H.264 video, up to 768 Kbps, 320 by 240 pixels, 30 frames per second, Baseline Profile up to Level 1.3 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats"
Gallery: iPhone Take-apart - they pry apart an iPrecious...the horror....the horror....
BareFeats analysis - Apple iPhone
Macworld: First Look: Up close with the iPhone, Page 1
For those without, simulate the messiness - Bram.us � My iSmudginator 0.2
iPhone Central: iPhone news, reviews, opinions and more from Macworld's Apple experts - MacWorld's dedicated iPhone blog - quite nice actually! They point out and expand on a lot of the tidbits I found over the weekend - the iPhone specific version of the Apple movie trailers page, the Bluetooth pros & cons (I paired my GPS to iPhone, so I can answer hands free in TWO different ways now)
Also, the Apple Bluetooth doohickey is NOT in stores yet, but is $130 and does come with a dual cable and dual dock (meaning you can charge iPod and headset simultaneously) and it DOES "MagSafe" click in to its charger, which is nice.
Daring Fireball: iPhone First Impressions - actually, this one is particularly nice - his version of this article, breaking down by category his issues with the various attributes of the iPhone.
Whew! OK, maybe now I can move on with the rest of the week...wait, I'm getting an iCall....
Amazon.com and Microsoft Team Up to Help Indie Filmmakers Jump Into HD DVD
Up to 1,000 new indie titles to be made available in HD DVD through the CustomFlix DVD on Demand Program; Sundance Channel original series, "Big Ideas for a Small Planet," to be among first HD television offerings on Amazon.com.
SEATTLE and REDMOND, Wash. — July 2, 2007 — Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. today announced the 1,000 HD DVD Indies Project, designed to lower the barriers to entry for filmmakers to produce and distribute movies in the HD DVD format through the innovative manufacturing-on-demand technology of CustomFlix, a part of an Amazon group of companies. Jointly sponsored by Amazon and Microsoft, the project will provide free authoring and setup services for up to 1,000 selected indie titles.
"This collaboration with Microsoft is a great opportunity for independent filmmakers to reach Amazon customers with their films via the HD DVD format," said Peter Faricy, vice president of music and movies at Amazon.com. "By working together with Microsoft and leveraging the proven CustomFlix DVD on Demand model, we can lower the barriers to entry for independent filmmakers and dramatically increase the selection we offer our customers."
The project will be spearheaded by CustomFlix, which will bring as many as 1,000 feature-length independent films to Amazon customers using the CustomFlix DVD on Demand technology, which produces and ships DVDs only as they are ordered. This model greatly improves the cost structure for independent filmmakers by eliminating the need for costly inventory.
"From a technical standpoint, we found that the HD DVD format fits our business model perfectly," said Dana LoPiccolo-Giles, co-founder and managing director of CustomFlix. "With retail shelf space at a premium, our model eliminates the risk of carrying inventory and immediately expands the number of great HD DVD titles available to consumers."
"Programs like this one from Amazon lower barriers to entry for independent artists and provide audiences with increased access to high-quality, high-definition content," said Christian Vesper, senior vice president of programming, acquisitions and scheduling for Sundance Channel.
Sundance Channel will be reviewing the high-definition features for potential broadcast on the network as well as making its own HD original eco-series, "Big Ideas for a Small Planet," available for purchase through Amazon's HD DVD program.
"Amazon's participation in this project will be a major benefit to independent filmmakers wanting to break into the high-definition market segment," said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president for the Consumer Media Technology Group at Microsoft. "The use of Microsoft® technology and authoring expertise will ensure that all the HD DVD titles offered by Amazon have impeccable quality, thanks to the VC-1 codec and innovative interactive scenarios with HDi™."
Mike's Comments - sounds good! HD DVD looks great, and the fact that they are actively seeking high def, independent content certainly fits in with the demographic of certain blogs I know about.
So fire it up, and see if it fits your needs! Be interesting to see if UnBox started offering this kind of content next.