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High Definition Video for Independent Filmmakers
A How To Guide for Digital Filmmakers
Welcome all! This is my blog to share my latest research,
thoughts, etc. on utilizing HD for independent filmmaking.
YES, I am available for consulting
Contact me at email@example.com
All content copyright 2004-2007 Mike Curtis.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
How To: Create Custom iPhone Ringtones the Free and Apple Way
Won't work with your purchased music, but will from all your MP3s of ripped CDs.
Fun and FREE - I find it HIGHLY vexing that Apple/AT&T want you to pay to make a ringtone out of music you already own...
MORE IPHONE FUN:
Plus this handy other iPhone tip from The Editblog � OT: A nice iPhone discovery
"double click the home button from sleep mode and you will get an iPod controller at the top of the screen. It’s a controller complete with play/pause button, skip track buttons that can be held down for fast forward and rewind, a volume slider and the track title."
Schweet find, Scott!
BONUS: Most brainsticky song of late:
Hit me if you want me baby
I'll be on my iPhone...
....so two weeks. Maybe.
Keep in mind, exact same hardware as Apple TV Take 1 (the original hardware).
Monday, January 28, 2008
....and it ranks 3 slots over NYC, as well.
I'll have more to say about my perception of those rankings later - suffice it to say, their criteria for chosing bode well for those looking to MAKE movies, but do not factor in things that affect one's ability to make a living making movies. Crews etc. are cheap in Austin, by and large - good for those hiring, not for those hired.
"Price cuts by Toshiba on its HD DVD players in the U.S. earlier this month may prove to be 'useless resistance' in the battle against the rival Blu-ray Disc optical disc format, according to Gartner.
The market research company expects Blu-ray Disc to win the battle against HD DVD (high definition digital video disc) in the consumer market by the end of 2008, becoming the next generation replacement for DVDs"
...so since I already own an HD-DVD player, I'll pick up some exclusive titles on the cheap maybe. But Blu-ray is where things appear to be going long term - more media sales, and better DRM for the studios' content, case closed.
UPDATE- further support in this good wrap-up article:
Hey HD DVD: It's Not Just a Flesh Wound | Epicenter from Wired.com
"in the week following the Warner Bros. defection, weekly HD DVD player sales tanked big time, falling from 14,558 the week previous to a measly 1,758.
Meanwhile, Blu-ray saw a reverse trend, climbing from 15,257 to 21,770. In fact, the format ended up capturing approximately 93 percent of the market that week,"
That should be a clear enough signal for any doubters out there. Woolworths chain in the UK dropped HD DVD after noting Blu-ray's 10:1 outsell ratio for titles over the holiday season.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
"the snail-mail service hinted that this would be the year that streaming rentals would come to Mac users due to the advent of DRM options that play nice with Apple's gear (namely, Microsoft's Silverlight technology). Combine this with news that the company plans to offer all-you-can-eat online rentals for $8.99 a month, its intentions to bring a STB to market with LG, and a possible game console partnership -- well, it all adds up to stiff competition for Apple and other challengers"
This doesn't sound good. Indicative of major networks' decreasing relevance in the entertainment realm with so many other alternatives, beyond the stated belt tightening and impending recession?
More on the technical aspects of cameras selected and used on Cloverfield. Don't forget to check out the video interview with Nick Theodorakis, the DIT on Cloverfield - link at the bottom of the article.
FreshDV has a nice round-up article as well.
To answer my earlier question about how they ran around, reader Chris sent in this snippet from Variety on Jan 4:
For the widescreen scenes with visual effects, which require higher resolution, a cameraman dressed like Hud sports the much-heavier hi-res Sony F23 or Thomson . The cameraman was creating the illusion that huge cameras are very light," says Reeves. "It was grueling. People fell."
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Saw Cloverfield over the weekend. Wow and Fun and Recommended.
You'll either like it or not.
I liked it, especially the surprises and 'splodey bits. I like how right when you really want to see what's going on....you don't get to see. I like the ending. I like the chew toy.
I'd already heard they'd used F23 for a lot of it, but I'm curious as to the config - did they remote the head, a la T-block, as the F9xx series can do? Some of those camera moves, esp. running and whip pans, seem not possible or easy or likely with a full F23, which is NOT small.
It wasn't the only camera used, so I'm curious about how all that went down.
I'd just hate to have been on the track & roto team - MAJOR effort there!
Anybody got any other links? I was in LA for 4 days on a Red feature, more to say about that, but I'm behind on my news. Did catch Cloverfield opening night, that was fun.
Thanks to Paul (robogeek) and others for sending this in.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Breaks AE, the DRM prevents you from viewing movies that you made.
Yep, you don't have the right to view a QuickTime you are the author of.
Best DRM of the year.
Most definitely NOT.
UPDATE - one of the commenters said that it is fixed by clicking on Support Legacy Codecs, and there's another thread about Sorenson 3 dissapearing:
Apple - Support - Discussions - Sorenson 3 missing after update ... - again, perhaps it is an update legacy codecs thing? I can't check it myself.
Right from Adobe guy's blog:
Keyframes: Don't update to QuickTime 7.4
Thanks VERY much to all the commenters keeping me up to date on all this...
Friday, January 18, 2008
When you have more RAM than free disc space, it is time to free up some disc space. I did the usual digging to find Pfhat Media loitering about - did I have any full DVD rips sitting around, or collosal uncompressed video, or video projects sitting on the drive?
Then I went looking to see if I'd done a Full Install with Final Cut Studio 2 (if you install All In, it is 55 (!) GB).
Nope - I'd already cleaned house there.
Then I went into my Projects folder (I always have a folder at the root level of the data drive (which has to be boot drive on laptop) to see if I had any fat folders I could trash or archive of a client project that was gone. Nope - Projects was all of 1.83GB - just a lot of little bitty stuff.
Then I went looking in my User folder, and found the culprits - Pictures (which encompasses years of tradeshow pictures and videos) was 35GB, Music (which of course includes my cutdown/favorite/most recently purchased iTunes Library) was 16GB. So that's over 50GB of personal files right there. When you factor in the size of the OS and Applications and Libraries folders...that makes for a very full 120GB drive (formats to about 112GB).
So I'm now installing my 3rd (or is it fourth?) hard drive in the same laptop - I started with an 80, I can't recall whether it died and was replaced with same or I immediately upgraded to this 120GB, and now I'm bumping up to a 200GB. THAT should hold me for a bit.
And yeah, I AM getting one of those Time Capsule doohickeys, it was time to upgrade my router anyway.
I was also on the cusp of getting a LARGE capacity tape backup system, I need to take a hard look at all that uncompressed HD footage and decide whether it really needs to be kept or not at this point.
This is all to say...we keep accumulating more and more stuff. In the big philosophical sense, our memories are increasingly digital these days, and a hard drive failure can be catastrophic in terms of vacation photos, organized/ripped music (legal and otherwise), etc. Back Up Your Stuff!
With big tape backup systems getting small studio price feasible, and Time Machine/Time Capsule out there, there's no excuse not to have one of these systems.
On a more micro scale, keep in mind that your digital memories are ever growing, and managing them can become more complex. I have 2 G4s, 3 G5s, an Octo Mac (1st gen, not the newbies), and a MacBook in the house...and they all have, or have had, an iPhoto Library on them. Figuring out how to get all that in one place, with all the metadata intact, is something I haven't figured out quite yet. How to get the original and modified pictures, with ratings, notes, keywords, etc., all in one place, from 6 or 7 different Macs, seems pretty non-trivial and I haven't found good tools to do so yet. Burning to a DVD and importing seems to lose a lot of stuff I want - anybody got any good experiences to share on that front? Since they called it iLife '08 when it came out last summer, I'll take that as a pretty good indication we're not seeing a new iLife until MWSF next year - so no joy/help/clue forthcoming from Apple as far as I can tell.
They've done a good job at helping folks organize data up to this point. Maybe Back To My Mac can be of some help, once I finally move my laptop to Leopard (the full drive one reason I hadn't made the switch yet).
OK, enough rambling for now...there's a broader thing to be discussed about long term digital archives, bit rot, graceful organic vs non-graceful binary failure, etc...but you just hink on that and I'll come back to it later.
I gotsta go get on a plane....
Thursday, January 17, 2008
OK, so I'm lazy - they did it, and did it well...first.
While I feel the writers are on the correct end of this stick, I also cringe at how many people are being put out of work in the meantime that won't benefit, in any way, from the results of this strike. My condolences, guys and gals.
For some perspective from the writer's vantage point, if you have a little bit of time, watch this:
...and if you want to hear it with a comedic spin, watch this:
If you feel like this guy:
...then read this, or better yet this..
...and maybe put on a shirt. For, you know, maybe, some, like...credibility.
For a detailed analysis from the writers' perspective on their legal strategy and why everyone is playing hardball, read this:
United Hollywood: The Strike Is a Lawyers' Game: How to Play to Win
Originality Doesn’t Make Great Drama at
” People mistakenly equate rule breaking with originality; they believe originality automatically makes something good; and, they also think being different is the key to success… when, in fact, being good is… and, there is no direct link between being excellent and being original."
Where spec screen writers and indie film makers all too often go wrong, is they get all bent out of shape trying to be original, when what they ought to concentrate on is competence. Good writing technique, well rounded characters (no matter where you stole them from) and high quality story telling will always triumph over originality.
I agree (not as if I'm any kind of a screenwriter or that carries any weight).
Be good FIRST, then, if possible and it doesn't mess it up, consider being original.
Withoutabox has reached a definitive agreement to be acquired by the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), an Amazon.com subsidiary. This presents a great opportunity for all our independent filmmakers, festivals, and industry professionals. The new arrangement preserves the vision that Withoutabox has championed for eight years, teaming it with the Internet's number one destination for film lovers and film insiders.
As Filmmakers and self-distributors, you can look forward to more ways to help reach your audiences and monetize your work.
As Festivals, you can look forward to more powerful tools to scout, collect, select, and schedule films, plus access to a vast audience of movie lovers that only IMDb can deliver - more than 50 million visitors a month.
As film Sellers, Sales Agents, and Acquirers, you can look forward to unprecedented information, discovery, and connectivity at your fingertips, across the entire landscape of commercial and independent film.
The day-to-day operations of Withoutabox will remain much the same, including the entire management team, our experienced staff, and the dedicated customer service you love.
Interesting - points out the direction IMDB might want to head into, from an aggregator of data on finished/developing products, suddenly into the space of helping folks get distribution. From passive to active role. (see update below)
Without A Box started as a service to help filmmakers submit finished films to multiple festivals at once. Last year I reported on how they were trying become a middleman, helping connect filmmakers and acquisition funding. Will IMDB keep pushing this forward, or will they get folded in as is and remain complacent with services offered?
I would love to have been a fly on the wall to see what the cost justification and strategy was for IMDB to acquire these folks.
UPDATE - AH! And then I, you know, READ the whole thing in detail, and my brain registered this time that IMDB is owned by AMAZON, and it all clicks. (Maybe I should start drinking coffee? Nah...be like starting smoking cigaretttes or jabbing heroin haphazardly into my arm). Amazon wants to be more vertically integrated in the content chain. Like Mark Cuban's HDNet/Magnolia Pictures/etc. Except, you know, bigger and more successful.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
see chart, which is repetitiously obfuscating, but The Truth is Out (In) There.
In short, sometimes you can, often you can't, and yes, it does cost more.
R3D2DPX.exe is a Windows (only) shell-based tool that converts R3D files into the following formats:
CineForm Intermediate (4:2:2)
Think of R3D2DPX as a format converter for RAW data, where in this case RAW means the Bayer sensor data.
R3D2DPX does not extract color profile or white balance information from the R3D file.
It assumes that all color processing will be performed later.
If color processing as performed in RedCine is necessary for your workflow, then continue to use RedCine!
It is a good and healthy sign that a third party is offering a conversion tool, and especially for the Windows side of the world.
I emailed David Taylor of Cineform some questions and here's what I got back:
Question 1.) My understanding was that Redcine could convert to any standard installed codec - is it not possible to write to the formats R3DDPX supports directly from Redcine?
Not completely, no. RedCine will only support Quicktime based codecs, there are still limitations to that interface. Also PC users of CineForm primarily seek AVI files. When we do use QuickTime under RedCine, we are one of the few codecs to support 16-bit per channel RGBA, yet the memory footprint for 4K frame seems make the conversion unreliable for many users. It could be running out of memory due to issues inherent to all 32-bit applications, or issues with the graphics card or drivers, it has been hard to debug for the users that experience this. On RedUser.net it is the repeated frame or failure to write problem. There is also been issue that RedCine can't export 16-bit per channel Quicktime to any codec at 4096 in my testing, yet 4095 works in many cases (I've also tested using Sheer to confirm this.) I'm sure these glitches will be addressed, but there are presently in RedCine Build 74, as tested on Mac and PC.
2.) If not, what is the barrier to making that happen?
Just like us, I'm sure their software team is extremely busy. So time is the barrier.
3.) Under what circumstances does this offer capabilities that are unique or better than Redcine?
It has a significantly lower system requirement. It will prefer conversions without needing the GPU, therefore there is no minimum system requirement for the graphics card. This helps those with existing blade servers/render farms that may have underpowered GPUs. I think it threads better for higher performance, although each system will perform differently, so I would suggest users try for themselves. Direct AVI encoding, the preference for most CineForm users. And finally, and likely the most controversial, it can directly transcode to CineForm RAW for significantly smaller files than CineForm 444, at the same quality. We have always had the issue that RAW cameras should not develop to RGB, as that increases the datarate 3 times, without any quality benefit. Both Redcode and CineForm RAW exploit this efficiency, yet the Redcode workflow still in its early days, CineForm RAW has been running real-time under Premiere Pro (PC) for a long time, and is recently supported under FCP.
In the end it is about workflow choice. RedCine does so much more than R3D2DPX, but the CineForm tools simplifies the bridge into workflow and NLEs not yet supported by Red.
Thanks to David for taking the time to respond.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Apple Time Capsule, 500GB version - $299.99
Apple Time Capsule, 1TB version - $499.99
HD for Indies gets a small commission on the standard Amazon price to help keep HD4NDs on the interweb tubes.
You can also order one of the sexy new MacBook Air models:
MacBook Air - 1.6GHz, 2GB RAM, 80GB hard drive - $1794
MacBook Air - 1.8GHz, 2GB RAM, 80GB hard drive - $2094
Macbook Air - 1.8GHz, 2GB RAM, 64GB solid state drive - $3093
You can also order an AppleTV as well:
AppleTV - 40GB model - $229
AppleTV - 160GB model - $399 as of 10am Wednesday, should drop to $329 shortly.
You can also get reasonably priced HDMI, toslink, and component cables ($2-$10) on the online store as well.
Larry Jordan, DEFINITELY a "name" in the FCP world, posted a short video on getting used to Final Cut Pro 6's interface and layout.
Good for FCP 6 noobs.
In theory, the new iPhone update is available immediately, but Apple may be a victim of its own success...and not planning their IT infrastructure for the hit.
When the movie rentals are available, they better not have this problem....
UPDATE: Here we go...
Got it installed, and of course immediately wanted to see how well the Locations feature worked. Sitting in my house, I hit the button and the circle (indicating "You're in this circle...somewhere") looked to be something like 1/2 mile wide...encompassing my entire neighborhood. Walked outside on the porch, hit it again, and it narrowed it down to about 3 blocks, almost centered on my actual location (across the street and up the short block). Pretty good! Not as good as GPS, but certainly a boon for "Where the hell am I?" when travelling with no GPS.
Ooops - then again, hitting it again inside and the Circle of Confusion is a mile or more wide - not terribly helpful. So Step One is to go outside - it DEFINITELY works better outside than in.
Rent and download your favorite movies with iTunes on your computer or directly to your living room on Apple TV. Enjoy rented movies in sizes up to 720p HD with surround sound on your Apple TV and sizes up to DVD-quality on your computer. Transfer your rented movies from iTunes to your iPod or iPhone and enjoy them on the go.
Also, purchase and download your favorite TV shows, music, and more directly on your Apple TV. Effortlessly transfer purchases made on Apple TV back to your computer with iTunes.
QuickTime 7.4 addresses security issues and delivers:
- Numerous bug fixes
- Support for iTunes
This release is recommended for all QuickTime 7 users.
For detailed information on the security content of this update, please visit this website: http://www.info.apple.com/kbnum/n61798.
This update addresses issues when publishing movies to a .Mac Web Gallery, improves overall stability, and addresses a number of other minor issues.
...and probably will help with AppleTV content viewing for the .Mac stuff.
Installing all of it right now.
-iPhone getting substantial software updates, including better Maps with GPS-LIKE but not really truly GPS capabilities. Other improvements as well. Should go live today, but isn't live yet (I'll check later tonight). SDK coming in February for 3rd party apps.
-iPod Touch gets Mail, Maps, Stocks, Notes, and Weather....for a $20 upgrade done via iTunes. Your iPod Touch is now an iPhone sans phone...for $20.
-New gadget called Time Capsule that works with Leopard's Time Machine to wirelessly do backups. Is a fully featured Airport Extreme Base Station with a hard drive for Time Machine backups (for multiple machines, presumably). Halle-F'in'-Lujah. I'm buying a 1TB model for my parents so I don't have to sweat backups for them. Available February.
-OK, now it gets juicy - iTunes will do movie rentals...in HD All the major studios are in. Over 1000 films by end of February....but 30 days after DVD release (doh! Major acquiescence to the studios!). Can start watching in less than 30 seconds IF you have a fast connection. 30 days to start watching it, but only 24 hours to finish it (lame! 48 or 72 - you rent movies for 2-3 days, right? This'll harsh on the parental watching, where movies are watched in snippets over several days).
-Apple TV "Take 2" - FREE software update out in a couple of weeks, price cut to $229. Syncs w/computer, but computer not necessary - can buy and interface directly from the AppleTV (finally!). Can rent movies directly from AppleTV while sitting on the couch. Movies in SD or HD (gonna be 720p24, I promise) with 5.1 (5.1 HD only it seems). Also does streaming pics from Flickr and .Mac, and streaming YouTube. Can buy TV shows and movies directly as well (and those'll sync to computer as well - can you have AppleTV sync with TimeCapsule? That'd be GREAT). Movie rentals are $2.99 for SD catalog releases and $3.99 for new releases, and HD are $4.99. Note it says HD for for rental, but I haven't noticed HD movies for SALE. Drat. Over 100 HD titles to start, more coming. Different/improved UI. TV shows $1.99/episode, syncs back to Mac/PC.
Some DVDs will come with pre-compressed versions for iPod - Family Guy: Blue Harvest stuff that slipped out last week is included in that.
-MacBook Air - tiny skinny laptop with no optical drive, 1.8" hard drive (80GB HD, or 64GB SSD, yes that's Solid State Drive). 0.8 tapering down to 0.15 inches thick. 13.3" screen, backlit keyboard. Aluminum exterior, dark (plastic?) interior. Large trackpad, multi-touch aware. So iPhone touch UI is migrating to Macs, first in this product. GOOD. The catch will be we'll need an OS and application upgrades to support it. But it is a good thing. 1.6 or 1.8 GHz processors, so slower than current Macbooks, but not massively. Software to access a Mac or PC's optical drive since none included. ONE USB 2.0 port, no FireWire mentioned, mini-DVI, NO ethernet port. Bluetooth of course (2.1+EDR), but minimal connectivity. Oh - $99 external SuperDrive module if you want it. Even with wireless on, 5 hour battery life (I'll betcha that's with the SSD not HD though). 3 pounds. iSight. 1.6 or 1.8 GHz Core 2 Duo. 2GB standard RAM, dunno how expandable. $1799 to start (not bad). No mention of the GPU, but obviously lightweight, light grade presumably.
No "One More Thing."
So...Apple's already down more than $9 for the day, since nothing particularly hugely exciting announced. I'm surprised the Mac Pro update was last week, since this is a thin MWSF for the overall market. Really just some nice/expected software/service updates, and a niche laptop.
The iTunes rentals and HD movies are the big deal for this readership. Apple TV Take 2 - OK, thanks, getting it closer to what it shoulda been in the first place. Maybe I'll update my AppleTVhacker.com website. Next step - getting indie content access to that system.
MacBook Air Links & Details:
Apple - MacBook Air - with additional links for design, features, wireless, Mac OS X & iLife, and tech specs.
Apple - MacBook Air - Guided Tour
Macbook Air GPU stats from the website:
Intel GMA X3100 graphics processor with 144MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared with main memory
Extended desktop and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 1920 by 1200 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors
iPhone/iPod update info:
Apple - iPhone - Guided Tour Update 2 - Large - for the new features.
Maps - uses info from WiFi and cell towers to get approx location. New button to find location. Also have Drop Pin (to mark a location) and a Traffic button. Gives you your location with a circle to give an idea of where in the circle you are. There's Search and Directions buttons.
Drop Pin - lets YOU set a location, and save as a bookmark, move it around etc.
Hybrid view shows streets and sattelite views merged - like Google Earth does it.
Can save an icon on homescreen to be an icon on homescreen. No biggie.
-you can rearrange icons on your Home Screen
-send SMS to multiple people
-iTunes movie rentals - can't rent straight to iPhone, but can sync rentals to the iPhone.
-chapter markers now in iPhone - good for podcasts too
-song lyrics, Google Mail IMAP, and other benefits.
AppleTV Take 2 Info:
Apple - Apple TV - Guided Tour
Rentals will play on Mac, PC, iPods, iPhone, or AppleTV. Can rent on AppleTV, sync back to Mac, and sync iPod/iPhone to watch in multiple locations.
-new improved UI, easy searching
-individual movie info gives plot summary, can show preview, or let you rent in SD or HD (HD is a buck more).
-movie starts downloading, SD movies will be ready to watch in short order. HD obviously takes longer, but they don't say how long. I'll of course give a hands on review ASAP when the software comes out.
-24 hours to watch as many times as you want, but if you're halfway through after 20 hours..SOL
-TV shows can be bought a day after they air
-no mention of HD for TV shows, only one price, so presumably still HD only
-Flickr & .Mac, or your own photos seen on your TV at high res
-podcasts viewable via AppleTV as well - nice.
Apple - Time Capsule
Overall, a B- Stevecast. Nice updates, a few useful new products, but nothing that makes me want to OMFG go buy it right now.
Mac Pro: updated last week but lets lump it into MWSF - I'm happy with my current OctoMac, when they get Blu-ray burners in'em I'll start getting That Itch again to buy
Laptops: I feel no urge to get the MacBook Air personally. And it isn't a viable lightweight FCP box either - hello, no FireWire means no capturing video, and OH YEAH - no reasonably fast external storage. USB 2.0 is barely fast enough for DV/HDV but not any of the heavier codecs like DVCPRO HD (full rate) nor ProRes....so count it out, besides the GPU limitations.
Time Capsule: yep, I'll get one...for my Mom & Dad. No rush for now for me - I'm looking at back devices with 10 times the capacity (or more) for my studio needs. But for backing up boot drives and apps and iTunes and photos....hmmm, maybe I will get one.
iPhone: no new models, but new software later today that I'm VERY excited to get, especially the locations feature, which was my #1 feature I missed the most.
iPod Touch: for $20, you're an iPhone, sans the phone stuff. Good deal.
Leopard - no big changes, but Time Capsule is a hardware product for a software feature/function
iTunes - rentals - GREAT. HD rentals, even better. HD purchased movies? Hello? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
AppleTV - a heap of updates and upgrades that should've come out, frankly, 6 months ago. Will it be a viable competitor to everything else? Yeah. Will it supplant DVDs etc? Nope. My most interesting thought from various conversations with friends - Can Apple make the Next Big Thing for media devices in the home? Mike Says No. Here's why:
-ultimate device would let you DVR TV content, burn to DVD (or HD DVD or Blu-ray), have TiVO type functionality, sync to iPod/iPhone, let you buy/rent videos, distribute to the other formats you want, etc. Apple won't do that. If they offered DVR functionality, or integration with cable TV, they'd be undercutting their rental/sales iTunes content - no way they'll do it. So they're out. Be interesting to see who can supplant the cable set top box and DVD player as the next content distro methodology of substance.
Apple's "Go it alone, brave new frontier, don't look back" ethos has served them well in the past - but it'll bite them here. TV is too big to ignore (and so are DVDs, for that matter).
More details on Apple's iTunes movie / HD rentals - Engadget HD
-1280x720 @ 24p still max (hardware limitation w/H.264)
-HD rentals ONLY available via AppleTV, NOT iTunes
-5.1 only on SOME HD rentals
-hmm....when it goes live, time to get AppleTVhacker.com back up and rolling...
Hands-On: MacBook Air Hands-on - with LOTS of pics. Thanks to Matt of FreshDV for the link (and the one below).
..and MUCH more importantly for us road warriors, MacBook Air doesn't have a user-replaceable battery - Engadget
DAMN. That's a MISTAKE in my book. Deal killer. Not buyin' one, even for Mom.
Monday, January 14, 2008
D-Day invasion with 4 guys. Multi-pass compositing, greenscreen, CG, etc.
4 days of shooting, LOTS of compositing. All desktop tool doable.
Watch video, which shows how they did it.
That's strong support about Apple's expected announcement of rentable movies.
Since Apple has to pay pretty much retail pricing, I'm hoping they also got the right to have HD movies (720p24 is supported by the AppleTV).
Saw it NAB/IBC last year (oops, 2 years ago). The picture quality was weak (high res VHS look, terrible dynamic range), but the resolution was of course stunning.
This article also includes a nice graphic about viewable resolution at standard viewing distances, which means you'd need a tremendous wall size screen to watch this stuff.
-HD-A3 MSRP dropped to $150
-HD-A30 dropped to $200 (the 1080p model)
-top of line HD-A35 dropped to $300
-5 free HD DVDs with player purchase
-50% off HD DVDs on Amazon*
-also 50% off Blu-rays (perhaps in response) at same link
-so a good time to buy movies.
...but this sure smells like a last ditch desperation move. Do you already own an HD DVD player, like I do? Well....the format doesn't seem like it is going to go the distance - if they had done this prior to Christmas, it might have been a big help (but they hadn't seen the Christmas sales yet to make these kinds of decisions). But this is a good time to pick up some movies on sale then (if not later in the real fire sale if the format decidedly looks like it is going to lose...moreso).
* Link above is to a page listing best sellers from Amazon available though the HD for Indies Amazon Store - HD for Indies gets a commission on the sale, proceeds help keep HD for Indies running
Saturday, January 12, 2008
More FreshDV stuff on these new Sony camcorders.
Why should I replicate what Matthew Jeppsen has already done so well?
Get all your EX1 info here.
Tons of test footage, interviews, etc.
The EX1 is a NICE little camera, with some caveats - the 4:2:0 color sampling can be an issue for keys and color grading. The balance of the camera is AWFUL - holding it in your right hand, it wants to tip in BADLY. Wrists of Steel required (or will be developed). It doesn't have variable frame rates (UDPATE - WRONG - it DOES have variable frame rates - 1-30 in 1080p, 1-60 in 720p). BUT....it is a VERY sharp image, from a truly 1920x1080 sensor, recorded at truly 1920x1080, at 35mbit VBR MPEG-2 (better than XDCAM HD). Oh, and it is a half inch, not 1/3 inch, sensor - that I like too.
An interesting read.
Found via the ever useful FreshDV
Few online entertainment ventures today make money. Yet that has not deterred striking Hollywood writers, eager to bypass the studio system, from forming start-ups to distribute their work on the Web.
At least three start-ups, each with a different business approach, are unveiling their corporate monikers and the names of their founders as they intensify the search for venture capital and top management.
Read on. So the strike is an opportunity for writers to think some more about what their future might be like. The strike is an abrupt change in their world, and as they have more time, they can think clearly about the future.
Reminds me about the old saw about a frog placed in cold water will stay there as you heat the pot to boiling. But if you drop it into a hot pan of water, it'll leap. The studios run the risk of helping to create competitive entities the longer the strike goes.
The future is likely to include a substantial chunk of a la carte media accessed from the living room. And I'm thinking beyond the slim pickings of pay per view here - think YouTube, but HD, and non-sucky content (I know, I know, that makes it not YouTube). Oh, and also for pay - either channels subscribed to, or 25 cents a show, or something like that.
And the writers need to hold out to have a piece of that, and not get fubared like they did over the VHS/DVD deals.
Headline says most of it - if you've got a web pilot or a web series idea, submit it to the Greenlight Awards (they'll be presented at SXSW in March). Luke Wilson and Richard Linklater are on the judging panel.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I've mentioned this idea before, but indies, do be realistic - the odds of getting into Sundance are HARSH:
films submitted: 3624
films to be screened: 121
truly indie films likely to be picked up for significant theatrical distribution that didn't already have it going in: my guess, 1-3
It is PLENTY hard enough to make an indie film - a great many die on the table, so to speak, and never get finished. Of those that get finished and submitted to Sundance...this year, 3.33% of submitted films will be shown. Ouch. And of those that were actually indie-outta-left field, perhaps 3, maybe 4, will get picked up for meaningful distribution at best. Maybe just 1. So if we presume 2 truly indie films get picked up, that's 2 out of 3624, or 0.055%....or one in about 1800 (OK, 1812 to be exact).
Is your movie ready to beat out 1811 other films?
I'm ALL FOR people pursuing their dreams. I'm already thinking of the short I want to make when I get my own Red One (hey, who wants to help?). But be sanguine about the odds, the results, and especially the business case. If you want to make a movie, do it for the right reasons, and be ready to be happy about the time you spent and the money it cost, and be ready for it to not have tangible, financial results.
Especially at the box office.
Then think about cable, direct to DVD, and any other market that might pay you for your content.
"For the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, 121 feature-length films were selected including 87 world premieres, 14 North American premieres and 12 U.S. premieres representing 25 countries with 55 first-time filmmakers, including 32 in competition. These films were selected from 3,624 feature film submissions composed of 2,021 U.S. and 1,603 international feature-length films. These numbers represent an increase from last year when 1,852 U.S. and 1,435 international feature length films were considered."
There's some good stuff in the Comments on this one.
Many (fairly) took me to task for sounding all "Debbie Downer" in this post. Whilst cranky when I wrote it, the underlying driver wasn't "U R Hoserated." A much happier way to fix/spin/"I'd like to amend and revise my prior statements" it would be to be Zen about it - the making and finishing of the movie should be a BIG chunk of the reward.
Don't count on financial rewards to consider it a successful adventure was my point.
There, am I closer to half full now?
Also, the odds ARE tough. But unlike rolling an 1812 sided dice and hoping it comes up with the one right number, the odds aren't as bad as they look...not all sides of that dice are the same size. There's a LOT of lame submissions out there (small dice sides). And the commenter that stated that the number of quality submissions is about the same? That makes sense to me - I could see quality submissions going up SOME, but not on track with/at the same rate as overall submissions (the good submissions are the bigger sides of that 1812 mega-dice).
The juju I'd suggest - plan, plan, plan like a Bad MF; have a GREAT script, Stay On Target, have a good technical plan in place so you don't have to worry about codecs on set for more than 3 seconds a day (that stuff should alllllll be resolved before you record your first frame!), etc.
The flip side is MOST movies are weak. Make one that rocks. Take Juno for instance - they just let'er rip, and it ROCKS for that reason. The storyline is pretty tame - teen pregnancy, decides to adopt, falls back in love with boyfriend - with that log line, my stomach aches from Movie Of The Week syndrome. But their attitude, and OMFG - the DIALOG - makes that movie SING. Lines like "Honest to blog!" and music with lyrics like "my mp3-dvd-rumble-pack guitar" made me LOVE THIS movie. Is all about the attitude. The cinematography? Lighting? Sound design? I dunno, I never really noticed them, so they quietly and professionally did their job right. But it is the script, and acting, and Ellen Page* in particular that made it a winner.
Making a movie that just plain fucking RAWKS? THAT takes Nerves of Steel, Balls of Brass (or metric female equivalent), and Heaps O' Determination.
* As I said to Erica (girlfriend) recently, there are three young actress performances that have knocked me off my feet in my lifetime - Natalie Portman in The Professional, Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire, and Ellen Page in Hard Candy. That girl is going places.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
"We are very happy to hear Panasonic and Sony announce their 4K displays at CES today. That allows us to finally announce that RED has been developing for release a 4K delivery system.
We have been committed to 4K from day one. It has always been our vision to see 4K in the home as well as on the big screen. We always believed that 1080P was a stop-gap along the way to 4K.
We will be announcing details of the RED 4K Delivery system at NAB in April.
So that's more details on both the 4K delivery system and the Scarlet camera at NAB. Gonna be busy at their booth again this year I'll bet....
I was thinking some more about 4K. Red announced at NAB last year what we already knew - that a smaller camera (Scarlet) was under development ("handheld professional camera"), and 4K displays (yes plural) and projectors (yes plural) were under way. Now Red is announcing a 4K delivery system. Well, if you've got a screen, you need a delivery system to watch it. That's some means of delivering 4K, which I'm guessing would require a physical connection interface, a storage medium, encoder and a decoder, etc. Ponder on that as you will.
BUT....back to 4K displays. This all reminds me of the article I ran last year before buying my own HDTV (which I still like), HD For Indies: "When does 1080p make a difference?". That article included links to someone else's chart. Extrapolating from that chart, it seems clear that a display would make sense for those authoring content who can sit pretty close to it. 4K is 2304p by Red's standards for 16:9. Guesstimating that into their charts, that means that with a 60" screen (what I currently have), if it were 2304p you'd need to be 4 feet or less from it to see all the detail. To sit 10 feet back, typical living room distance, you'd need a screen of 140 or 150 or more inches (I'm mentally guessing looking at the graph). That isn't realistic for a display - you'd need a projector for that.
Which gets us back to the 4K display and content stuff - if you're 10 feet back, you'd need a screen in the ballpark of 15 feet (give or take feet) measured diagonally. That's roughly 13 feet by 7 1/2 feet - I don't have a wall that size available where I'd want to watch it. The biggest wallspace I have is about 9 feet wide.
The market for true home theaters (dedicated rooms) is growing. But that's a many-tens-of-thousands of dollars investment (unless you have a basement to convert). Is there enough market to support a 4K display/projector to get the costs down, Red volume style?
Of course, marketing trumpets reality - and Red certainly knows how to do that (and without buying a single ad, either - I've never seen a Red print ad, have you?).
As a market, 4K is a welcome option, but there is LOTS of progress to be made in optimizing the 1080p we've got now - even shooting on Red ones to make the 1080p BE 1080 pixels worth of resolution. Considering how much of the Planet Earth stuff was shot on Varicam (which only records 960x720 and gets uprezzed to 1920x1080....think how much BETTER it could look if it really WERE 1920X1080 worth of detail. And that takes good sensors, but REALLY takes quality glass.
And to view it, we need truly 1080p, not 1080i, presentation, especially for 24p. Triple, quadruple, or even quintuple flashing makes for a rock solid 24p with no cadence issues. 2:3:3:2, 2:3:2:3 is good but not perfect for 1080p sets running at 60Hz progressively.
I recall someone talking about 4K DI work - and saying that even with optimal projection, if you're not sitting in the first X # of rows of a theater (I think it was like 8 or 15), you're not seeing the difference between 2K and 4K. Similar arguments apply here.
I love that Red pushes the envelope on everything. But is 4K really the place to go? If they did it, I'm sure it would make for a lovely HD presentation as well.
Those are my immediate thoughts, more, of course, to follow later.
-stock quad 3.2 GHz (no changes but for processor speed) will ship in 3-5 days (with standard ATI 2600 HD card)
-two quad core 2.8 GHz stock box ships in 1-2 days (with standard ATI 2600 HD card)
-two quad core 3.0 GHz processor box ships in 3-5 days (with standard ATI 2600 HD card)
-two quad core 3.2 GHz with the NVIDIA 8800 GT card is 3-5 weeks from shipping
...so as usual, those wanting top end graphics card...will have to wait. And it is not at all uncommon for shipping estimates to be just that - estimates. It is not unheard of for it to take months for new GPUs to actually ship to customers.
Stu talks about working with Panavision's Panalog (from the Genesis) format (Panavision's log variant), with AE CS3 presets to deal with it. It is close enough to Cineon (log) that with some tweaking with is presets, you can use it in AE (CS3+).
I'm glutting today. OK - 10 bits? Great. Where do we use them, since all the distro formats are 8 bit? On set digital color correction for gamma etc.? Where's our 10 bit Blu-ray format? Banding, be gone!
120 Hz - OK, that's great for a number of reasons - you can do quintuple flash 24p that way, so your movies are truly progressive and truly rock solid - no 3:2 pulldown anymore, and that's a good thing.
120Hz also opens the door for some 3D applications, as I think Samsung has begun with their stuff. All interesting to see where the industry trends are heading.
Speaking of which...Samsung's 3D plasmas powered by DDD TriDef - Engadget
Sony and Panasonic announced 4K displays, which prompted Jim Jannard to let slip that they'll have a 4K delivery system to talk about at NAB, as well as Scarlet, their "pocket professional camera."
The 4K displays are good to have, but the interfaces SEEM to be, from what I can glean, quad dual link HD-SDI....which is ridiculous - 8 cables for one display. If a 4K display standard emerges that is DCI compliant, we'll need a new very high speed interface. And twin dual link DVI doesn't cut it as it stands - 3840x2160 instead of 4096x2160.
OLED was shown, and while very pricey for early, small models, looks incredibly promising - low power, very thin, no backlights, and amazingly high contrast ratios (claimed 1,000,000:1). Give it 5 years to have a decently priced professional OLED HD display for studio work. 3 years till it is available but wickedly expensive.
UPDATE - reader "R" emailed me to say:
I've been reading your blog for years but can't be bothered to sign up for yet another account I'll never use again that will probably earn me more spam in my inbox. So, I thought I'd just send you an email instead of posting a comment.
Regarding your recent comment:
120 Hz - OK, that's great for a number of reasons - you can do quintuple flash 24p that way, so your movies are truly progressive and truly rock solid - no 3:2 pulldown anymore, and that's a good thing.
I thought it is important to mention that almost all current TVs on the market that boast 120Hz don't offer 5:5 pulldown which is what you are talking about.
Recently, looking around in Fry's and on another occasion, at Best Buy, I was shocked to see a Sony LCD showing Pirates of the Caribbean that had somehow changed the image to look like video. On further research, I found out that the 120Hz TV (that does not offer 5:5 for 24p source material) and the set's internal way of processing (probably doubling the 3:2 pulldown sequence to get to 120Hz) creates this lack of motion blur. As far as I know, 120Hz technology is supposed to fix one of the major problems with LCD technology -the motion lag (maybe not the correct term). So I guess it does that and then some. I still had a problem with all of the motion artifacting but this may be due to the source material (who knows what) or their way of splitting up the signal to 50 TVs.
I found that I'm not the only one to notice this problem:
see this review: http://hometheatermag.com/lcds/1207lcd/
"I sat down with four 120-Hz, 1080p models, and it didn't take long to discern the technology's effect on the image. While I did see some reduction in motion blur with all four products, the technology can also change the quality of the image, making film look ultra-smooth, more like video. You can disable the technology in all four TVs, but why pay a premium for 120-Hz if you don't like it? I recommend that you see a demo before you buy one of these models. You can decide for yourself whether the solution is more distracting than the problem".
Luckily, from this year's CES show it looks like at least a few companies will start making 120Hz sets with 5:5 pulldown. See:
At the moment, I believe the newish Pioneer Kuro (plasma) sets are supposed to switch into 72Hz mode when displaying 24P source material, offering a 3:3 pulldown mode.
I don't own an HDTV, but I'm keeping my eye on the technology until it is at a place where I can justify spending a few thousand. I think I'll wait a year or two more, maybe by then I can get one of those concept Kuro's that Pioneer is showing off with a real black level. Those may have a good shot at outperforming the best CRT black levels.
Anyway, of course anyone would be stupid to make such a big purchase without researching the technology and demoing it first, but I thought I'd let you know your readers may be a little disappointed if they jump on that 120Hz marketing bandwagon too early.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Mike Flynn, frequent commenter on HD for Indies, does his own review of the Redrock M2 adaptor over on his own blog, B-Scene Films.
More on what may well be my fave sub-$10K indie camera of the moment. (You can probably guess what my fave $17,500 cam is. : ) )
EDIT - my favorite sub-$10K camera ON PAPER. It is a bitch to hold (all the weight off center), and I haven't shot with it myself, but the specs, and the image quality from what I hear from some folks I trust, is pretty good.
Signs are everywhere that closed, proprietary devices and services may be on the way out.
This is good news for us as indie content creators - all the new format stuff I've been writing about isn't hugely useful or advantageous IN PARTICULAR to our demographic. But open systems are a friendlier environment for us...but also hugely noisy environments where it is difficult to stand out.
What This Gadget Can Do Is Up to You - New York Times
Best exemplified by this.
These two links both found via CinemaTech
WATCH THE VIDEO. I was thinking "OK, live keying........pretty cool."
but then I saw that the could pan, zoom, and focus, and it did EVERYTHING right in realtime (with a few frames delay). Then the founder talked about this as an enabling technology to let you do in realtime what used to take days in post....and BOOM - exactly the HD for Indies philosophy - using modern tech to enable that which couldn't be done in the past.
Watch this - very very cool stuff. At $85K, should be rentable (with tech of course) for indie viable productions (as in, those that have real funding).
I am so tired of lockoff greenscreen, this'll be great.
Of particular interest are the FCP tests (right up front). The numbers below indicate how much faster the NEW 8 core 3.2 GHz is over the mentioned machine. I wouldn't be surprised if the new Mac Pro had a SAS RAID, either.
Quickie rundown, comparing the new 8 core 3.2 GHz to:
faster than Quad G5: 1.8x
faster than Quad Mac Pro: 1.4x
faster than Previous 8 core Mac Pro: 1.2x
faster than Quad G5: not shown
faster than Quad Mac Pro: 1.4x
faster than Previous 8 core Mac Pro: 1.2x
faster than Quad G5: not shown
faster than Quad Mac Pro: 1.9x
faster than Previous 8 core Mac Pro: 1.1x
faster than Quad G5: not shown
faster than Quad Mac Pro: 1.3x
faster than Previous 8 core Mac Pro: 1.1x
After Effects CS3 Nightflight benchmark
faster than Quad G5: 2.8x
faster than Quad Mac Pro: 1.9x
faster than Previous 8 core Mac Pro: 1.1x
They have a bunch of other tests including audio, Maya, etc. I'd be curious to see Motion and especially Color benchmarks, to see if performance improved there, as the PCIe bus was a limiting factor (among others) to achieve 1080 resolution realtime performance.
But as compared to the prior 8 core Mac, which cost less, the performance gain is very modest - 10, sometimes 20% for video applications according to Apple's on tests.
SAS RAID 5, 3x300GB: 250 MB/sec reads, 197 MB/sec writes (sequential)
SATA RAID 5, 3x1TB SATA: 165 MB/sec reads, 127 MB/sec writes
Simultaneous FCP streams:
10 bit 1080i60:
SAS: 1 stream
SATA - can't do it
ProRes 422 HQ (which is 10 bit) 1080i60: 5 streams for either SAS or SATA
ProRes HQ 720p24:
SAS: 14 streams
SATA: 11 streams
Keep in mind that SAS setup costs $1800 more and holds less than 1/3 as much content....but it is faster.
Apple rolled out new Mac Pro models today.
The deal, marching down the config options:
New Harpertown Processors, available in following configs:
-single quad core 2.8 GHz ($2299 base price)
-dual quad core 2.8 GHz ($2799 base price, so +$500)
-dual quad core 3.0 GHz ($3599 base price, so +$1300)
-dual quad core 3.2 GHz ($4399 base price, so +$2100)
Welcome to Intel based pricing. As usual, be smart about when to buy and NOT to buy the tippy top CPU - is it worth the money? Depends.
RAM - standard 2GB, can config from Apple up to 32GB...for an additional $9100. Ouch! Few users will actually see benefit from that. And NO, gobs of RAM will not make REDcode crunch any faster. I SWEAR.
-glad they have it, but still limited to 4 drives, and one needs to be a boot drive. They have cut the price form $1000 to $800, though - a good start guys. REQUIRED WHEN SELECTING SAS DRIVES.
Hard Drive Options
-you can get a 300GB, 15K rpm SAS drive - saw that and thought good, ultimate boot drive. But dammit - if you go one SAS drive, ya gotta go all SAS. And that 300GB SAS drive is $800. Ouch!
-you cn now get 1TB drives internally in addition to 500 and 750 GB drives. Drive costs have been dropped to more reasonable prices as well...but still higher than third party pricing.
Graphics have all new choices, it appears ALL cards will support two 30" displays. Also includes PCIe 2.0, which is 2x faster than the prior version, new on this box.
-default is ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT w/256MB VRAM, you can get up to 4 of them to drive up to 8 monitors up to 30" apiece
-NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB is a $200 bump up
-NVIDIA Quadro FX 5600 has 1.5GB VRAM for $2850 extra. Guess who needs that.
-no changes - 20, 23, & 30 are still $600, $900, and $1800 a pop (actual $$$ less $1)
dammit, no changes. 1 or 2 16x dual layer SuperDrives, NO BLU-RAY OR HD DVD OPTIONS. Drat. Wait for NAB to see the next cards be turned over.
-appears Bluetooth is built in, Airport extreme card is $50
Fibre Channel Card - dual or quad 4Gb cards for $600 or $1000
The Rest - appears all the same. Oh, wait - you get the new flatty keyboard, which I like, expect for the wretched Caps Lock key.
Speed bump. New, presumably faster GPUs (need to read up on those more). The box I'd want is just shy of $11K with monitors. Ouch.
As usual, I am available for consulting on system configurations, which inevitably has more to do with what you want to do with it rather than what the available options are. The process can be steered by price or appropriateness for a given task, or the more interesting blend of the two to optimize every dollar spent.
Apple - Mac Pro - Technology - Processor:
-2.8-3.2 GHz Harpertown quad core processors
-12MB L2 cache per processor, 6MB per pair of cores
-two 1600Mhz front side buses
-up to 25.6GB/sec processor bandwidth - GOOD
-800 MHz DDR2 buffered memory
-SSE4 SIMD tech
-256 bit wide memory architecture
Apple - Mac Pro - Technology - Graphics
-PCI Express 2.0
-ATI HD 2600 XT with 256 MB, two dual link DVI ports (supports two 30" displays)
-NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT has 512 MB VRAM
-NVIDIA Quadro FX 5600 has 1.5GB VRAM
UDPATE - Apple also introduced new 8 core Xserves
FT.com / Companies / Media & internet - Paramount in HD DVD blow:
Paramount is poised to drop its support of HD DVD after Warner Brothers’ recent backing of Sony’s Blu-ray technology, in a move that will sound the death knell of HD DVD and bring the home entertainment format war to a definitive end.
Paramount and DreamWorks Animation, which makes the Shrek films, came out in support of HD DVD last summer, joining General Electric’s Universal Studios as the main backers of the Toshiba format.
The Warners move gives Blu-ray about 70 per cent of Hollywood’s output, although the format’s grip on film content will increase further when Paramount comes aboard.
OK...so don't go buying an HD-DVD player now. I officially declare Blu-ray the winner.
Here's to hoping Apple, as anticipated, reveals a Blu-ray burner/player in their forthcoming Macs in a couple of weeks.
UPDATE: Oh, how much changes when you check your email. Apple introduced new desktops this morning AHEAD of MWSF in an unexpected move - otherwise known as a soft release, otherwise known as it wasn't exciting enough for MWSF - just a speed bump, a bus upgrade (PCIe 2.0, 2x faster than before), and new GPUs. NO NEW OPTICAL DRIVES. Here's a performance rundown between the new top end box and Quad G5, Quad Mac Pro, and previous Octo Mac.
Also, an astute reader pointed out this Bloomberg.com article wherein Paramount denies that they are immediately switching to Blu-ray, but their phrasing is less than stunningly supportive:
"Paramount's current plan is to continue to support the HD DVD format,'' Brenda Ciccone, a spokeswoman for Paramount, said in an e-mail today.
....not "we are firmly behind HD DVD", not "we have no plans to switch", not "that's bogus, we'll never switch over", nor "we have no plans to support Blu-ray as well," just that the CURRENT (as in today, may be different tomorrow) PLAN (intended action, not definitive actions) is to support the HD DVD format. They announced solo HD DVD support back in August of 2007. They are probably anxiously regretting that at the moment.
Even with Paramount on the fence, I think this was the tipping point. I owe someone a beer if I'm wrong that Blu-ray will be the market dominant force for high def discs, and in a year or two HD DVD will be the obscure also ran. This is a GOOD THING that SOMEBODY wins. While I've gone back and forth on the who I'd prefer, Blu-ray, with greater capacity, I think is the long term better deal for folks like us based on what I know.
As always, thanks to Paul and the other readers like him that feed me these bits I haven't had time to keep up on. If you spot a good article that you think ought to be up here, please do send it in!
ANOTHER UPDATE - another reader pointed out this article:
Interview: Samsung Says There's Life After Hollywood for HD DVD - Samsung guy says HD DVD will be for personal content presentation, as Microsoft is a big backer there. OK - but that's a minority market position. If you were lucky enough to snag one of those $100 HD DVD players at Walmart, you can already make (short) HD DVDs at home with Final Cut Studio.
Universal: Current plan is to continue to support the HD DVD format; Currently. - Engadget yeah - that. As the Engadget article said, we're more interested in what your plans are BEYOND tomorrow.
Agenda is nearly set for the 7th annual FCPUG Macworld "SuperMeet" to be held January, 16, 2008 from 7:00PM - 10:00PM (doors open at 5PM) at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, CA.
The agenda includes a presentation from Apple, DV Rebel Stu Maschwitz, Pixel Corp’s Alex Lindsay, a demo of the new Sony XDCAM EX1 from Noah Kadner, Show and Tells from Bay Area filmmakers Jason Mitchell and Mabel Valdiviezo, FCP tips and tricks from Steve Martin and MORE.
In addition there will be 22 vendors outside the theatre doors showing off their “toys.” Some of these vendors will not be on the Macworld show floor. The SuperMeet will be the only place you will see them.
Our World Famous Raffle has over $40,000.00 worth of prizes and is still growing.
We are also giving away 250 “goodie bags” to the first 250 people through the door. This bag will have over $250.00 worth of free stuff to take home.
Food (snacks) and drink will be available.
This is the party of the year for those who wish to learn more about digital moviemaking and Final Cut Studio. It’s also the best place on the planet to meet folks who know more than you do.
Purchase your tickets now. There are only 150 seats left and we expect them to be gone by the end of this week.
For complete details on the SuperMeet including driving directions, list of raffle prizes and a link to where to buy tickets, visit the lafcpug web site.
I won't be attending this year, as MWSF is such a consumer oriented show, plus I'm feeling a bit travelled out after 3 trips to NYC, and trips to LA, Missouri, and Spain since the fall. Enough for now!
But if you're going to MWSF and you read this blog, this is a Definite Do for you. Stu, Alex, and Noah are all good smart guys, should be a fun gig.
Monday, January 07, 2008
-while box office was up, Q4 DVD sales (yep, SD DVD) were DOWN 2% instead of growing
-so backed the leading format, Blu-ray (2:1 sales lead on discs over HD DVD)
-consumers were apparently not buying ANY movies - HDTV sales are good, but folks don't know what to buy - not regular DVDs, and don't know which HD format to back
-so backed the leader to get things moving
Live, realtime compositing system for $85K that blends shot footage with backgrounds on the fly. Virtual backlots, etc. Written by our buddy Scott Kirnser of CinemaTech.
Canon Debuts First High Definition Solid State Camcorders: HF10 and HF100 - Canon
Sony Offers a Single HDV Model for 2008 - HDR-HC9 - Sony: "Sony has announced that they will release only one model in HDV category, the HDR-HC9, at least for early 2008. This decision only confirms the generally recognized fact that the tape-based HDV format has fallen out of favor compared to DVD, hard disk drive (HDD), and flash memory media using the newer AVCHD recording format." Retails for $1099. Even though this is a consumer camera, they are recognizing that HDV is/was a transitional technology.
Move Over HV20, Here Comes the Canon HV30 - Canon: "oday at CES, Canon announced the Vixia HV30 ($999 MSRP), the replacement for the popular HV20. The new HDV camcorder features an all-black design, a multi-angle Vivid LCD screen, and the ability to capture in 30P mode. Canon now offers a total of five camcorders in their newly christened “Vixia” high definition line-up.
“With the exception of those features, the product is the same as the HV20. Is it a revolutionary product? No."
XDCAM EX1 Hands-On - Gamma and Color Matrix Presets at FreshDV More downloadable samples. Matthew & gang are really going deep on all this - all for our benefit. Much thanks!
XDCAM EX1 Hands-On - Picture Profiles and Image Settings at FreshDV Video walkthrough of the menus. Good stuff if you want to see the nitty gritty.
MORE ADDED HERE: XDCAM EX1 Hands-On - Night Footage Compression Examples at FreshDV: "One of the areas that the new Sony XDCAM PMW-EX1 really excels is in native light sensitivity. Night shooting with the EX is relatively simple, as the camera seems to find illumination and color saturation in even the darkest of scenes. Here are a few examples of night footage shot with the EX1, including a 60p overcranked shot."
Wired News - AP News - netflix is going to offer a set-top box that'll download movies. thousands of titles available, vs. nearly 100,000 titles available on DVD. Devil in the details....will indie content be made available via this system?
2007 Best & Worst: Online movie gimmicks - latimes.com
As I Hear It - Choosing the Right Microphone: "An Overview of Popular Short Shotgun, Supercardioid, Hypercardiod and Cardioid Microphones
By Dan Brockett"
Long, GOOD. Good sound makes people think your picture look better. Good mikes are key. READ.
The rumor sites are buzzing that new Macs are due at MacWorld - Penryn processors and Blu-ray for desktops, and an ultraslim/small laptop. I won't deign to let the rumormongers get traffic from here based on those rumors - it is their JOB to promote rumors, most often inaccurate, that simply drive traffic...and revenue. Here's what I think is likely:
-Penryn processors: they came out in November, so why NOT finally now? Newly optimized compilers could help get best results.
-high def optical discs in towers: Apple has been on the Blu-ray board since what, 2005? When Jobs got up on stage and announced, with then honcho of Sony, that Apple would support Blu-ray. Well, 3 years later, they...MIGHT. Blu-ray SEEMS to be stepping into the lead - Blu-ray disc sales surpass HD DVD substantially, even though the players cost more. BUT...Apple would have some homework to do. One of the rumor sites reported that Apple would have to rename DVD Studio Pro to Disc Studio Pro. Hardly. Currently, you can author an HD DVD formatted volume and burn it to a traditional DVD+/-R, either single or dual layer. Blu-ray is not presently supported - we'd need an updated DVD Studio Pro to support Blu-ray. SOOOOO.....if Apple has been supporting HD DVD (albeit in a limited capacity) - why would they completely shift gears? This bodes for the possiblity that they may offer a combo (does both) or two separate optical drives - get one or both HD formats. Remember, the Mac Pros have two optical bays - why else offer them if you aren't going to have two optical drives?
-Apple typically updates DVD Studio Pro with the rest of Final Cut Studio at NAB - in April. And HD optical support is really a pro video feature at this point in time...not a consumer feature, which MWSF is all about (consumer stuff, that is). So maybe optical drive updates will wait for NAB, unless Apple drops a surprise DVD Studio udpate on us. Doubt it. I'm thinking Penryn based boxes announced at MWSF, but perhaps a wait until NAB for HD optical drives and the software to take advantage of them. Unless we get a Blu-ray burner and can just use it for data backups in the meantime...or HD DVD and we can make HD DVDs now.
Much to think about.
As to rumors of an AppleTV 2.0....be nice, but dunno. A TV tuner, better HD support, and bigger hard drives would make it a more viable choice. As well as an optical drive to make it be a less limiting device...but that wouldn't be Apple's way. They did away with floppies and went all-USB early on - they tend to not look back.
David Lynch on movie watching on iPhone (HARSH language included):
....spoken like a traditionalist. If you believe "watching a movie" is best in a theater, next best on a good home theater system, and doesn't count on a mobile device, then sure, he's right.
But I watch Lost episodes on iPhone and don't feel shortchanged - I got what I wanted out of it.
BTW - if Apple has to PAY damn near retail for movies for downloads, can they at least release them in HD as well at that price????
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III Review of badass digital camera (still, not motion).
Making Movies in the XXIst Century - quickie overview, is the HD4NDs ethos (mostly) in a few paragraphs.
Australian Centre for Visual Technologies
| VideoTrace: Rapid interactive scene modelling from video: "VideoTrace is a system for interactively generating realistic 3D models of objects from video—models that might be inserted into a video game, a simulation environment, or another video sequence."
OK, enough for now....
Friday, January 04, 2008
....as rumored the other day. This looks like a very, VERY strong move for Blu-ray over HD-DVD. Player prices continue to drop - a quick, cursory skim found HD-DVD players as low as $250ish, and Blu-ray as low as $340ish. Under $200 is the magic consumer price point - by next Christmas then, I would presume, if not sooner?
Having one standard will push things forward. Having it be the more technically sophisticated one...a good thing. Having it be a Sony controlled format...doesn't make me dance for joy (as opposed to a broader coalition).
"The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger. We believe that exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers, and most importantly, consumers," Warner Bros Chairman and Chief Executive Barry Meyer said in a statement.
Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
Warner said it would continue releasing in the HD DVD format until the end of May, although those releases would follow the standard DVD and Blu-ray releases.
...so if you DO have an HD DVD player (like I do), better grab'em while you can (I have a PS3 as well, which I continue to think of entertainment money well spent. If you had a PS3 and an Xbox360, you'd be pretty laced up for entertainment.
Didn't get one for Christmas? You can get'em here from my Amazon Store.
-samples on the Final Cut Pro workflow (soon to be updated with some email stuff we talked about - bypassing FCP misses some metadata that may or may not be useful to you)
-Rolling shutter artifact samples - from the CMOS sensor
...and a bunch of other interesting articles to boot- check it out.
MONDAY UPDATE - MORE FreshDV EX1 coverage linked to here
HR-F1 is shipping. It is:
-10 bit 4:2:2
-extracts/handles 24p cadence/pulldown from the popular cameras
-optionally DC powered
-records to AVI or MOV files
-can get with a 160GB solid state drive for high-G load/shock environments
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Step 1: Buy a new computer monitor
Step 2: Try to use your Watch Now feature on your computer
Step 3: Lameness.
This guy buys a new monitor, fires up his software, and it tells him it needs reset his DRM (revoking a bunch of licenses for purchased content). The result? It would downrez his content to allow playback. I've heard of this possibility, but first time I've seen it in action. What a bunch of hooie.
As the writer puts it,
The irony in all of this, is that the DRM that Hollywood is so much in love with, is really only harming their paying customers. When you do a DRM reset, it’s not your pirated files that get revoked, it’s the ones that you already paid for that are at risk. I’m not allowed to watch low res Netflix files, even though I have the capability to download high def torrents? How does this even make sense? It’s as if the studios want their digital strategies to fail.
While I understand the need for the studios to protect their content, I believe that these measures go too far. It makes little sense to block my ability to copy low res internet movies, when I can always rip the DVD straight from my Netflix discs instead. By blocking access to my Netflix membership, Hollywood is once again punishing their customers by pushing defective DRM.
This has nothing to do with HD, just a thread that came up out of conversations about the new battery travel restrictions. In December I travelled from Austin to LA to Austin to NYC to Austin to Missouri to Austin by plane. What a hassle.
At the Thomas trial in Minnesota, Sony BMG's chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Copying a song you bought is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,' " she said.
Wow. Talk about Not Getting It. When you sue your consumers rather than innovating, not a good sign for the industry...
"Scarlet. Our Pocket Professional camera.
We know that the name has leaked out, so we want to avoid any postings and speculation.
Prototypes will be shown at NAB. It is not a competitor or replacement for the RED ONE.
Recap of facts- professional pocket camera.
SPECULATION: if pocket sized, and not a replacement for Red One, then likely lower cost, lower resolution, lesser feature set. So maybe 2K/1080p, solid state recording only? Hopefully variable frame rates? To me the price point/feature set balance will be interesting to see - obviously should cost less than the Red One, but how much less? $15K wouldn't make sense, even with lens (and is it fixed or interchangeable lenses? If interchangeable, what mount that would still allow it to be "pocket" sized?) Roughly $10K (or less) would suddenly put it in competition with the rest of the sub-$10K cameras...and hmm, doesn't THAT get interesting for low budget indies and docmakers etc.?
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Can't even pack spare batteries in CHECKED luggage if they're too big or "not attached."
These regs took effect January 1st, so if you shoot and travel with batteries (and what shooter doesn't), you need to read up and come up with a strategy....perhaps pre-shipping batteries?
UGH. What a hassle!
In the DVD War Over High Definition, Most Buyers Are Sitting It Out - New York Times: "According to research by NPD Group, only 11 percent of HDTV set owners strongly intend to buy a Blu-ray or HD DVD player by next spring. Almost three-quarters of those HDTV owners surveyed said that standard DVD was good enough for them.
“This may emerge as a premium, luxury item, not a successor to DVD,” said Ross Rubin, director for industry analysis at NPD."
from later in the article:
As an indication of their owners’ enthusiasm, Blu-ray users are buying twice as many discs as their HD DVD counterparts, according to Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research.
...or perhaps because early adopters of Blu-ray were buying the substantially more expensive format (not the case so much now), and thus have more disposable income...to buy more movies.
The HD DVD camp is playing up its new interactive features, believing that the next generation of viewers wants to combine TV viewing with video games.
In Universal’s just-released HD DVD of “The Bourne Ultimatum,” viewers can play a game that tests their memories, and then upload their results using a broadband connection to a Web site and compare their scores with others.
Booooooring. Gotta do better than that. As evinced by:
Those features will do little to increase sales, said Richard Doherty, an analyst with the Envisioneering Group. The market consultants’ surveys show that just 3 percent of consumers want interactivity, he said.
Some hope, though. If one format doesn't pull ahead,
“When high-definition DVD reaches its tipping point, studios will have to release their movies in both HD DVD and Blu-ray,” Mr. Adams said. “No studio will be able to afford not to.”
....which would be a hassle ("Hey I got Superman 9!" "Kewl, lets watch it at my house!"--later---"Aww, damn, wrong format!").
But all of this sounds somewhat familiar, especially the earlier line about “This may emerge as a premium, luxury item, not a successor to DVD,” said Ross Rubin, director for industry analysis at NPD..
Hmmmm, familiar? Laserdisc 2.0, anyone?