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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.
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.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Panavision usually releases products at the large conferences like NAB, but apparently, on October 11, they couldn't wait any longer.
Held in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, Panavision released a number of new and upgraded products for their film and Genesis camera lines, including a sweet little accessory to the Genesis, the SSR-1 solid state recorder.
Introduced at Panafest, the SSR-1 hooks up to the Genesis, and can record in 4:4:4 or 4:2:2. It works on its own or with the sony F-23 as well, and integrates into workflows based on the SRW-1 HDCAM SR recorder. It records 21 minutes in 23.98 fps 4:4:4 SP mode and 43 minutes in 23.98 fps 4:2:2 LP mode. It consumes little power by only using its full power requirements when recording.
New prime and zoom lenses were announced at the event:
- the new G Series Primes, in 35, 40, 50, 60, 75, and 100mm
-two new zooms:
- the wide-angle AWZ2:
focuses down to 3 1/4 feet
- the telephoto ATZ:
focuses down too 5 1/2 feet.
Also announced was the new PCZ compact zoom lens:
19mm to 90mm
-extremely light weight
-high image quality.
Panavision announced Panalux, a unified branding of Panavision's acquisition of AFM and Panavision-owned LEE Lighting. This new brand is currently being used on the set of Batman- Dark Knight, and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
Along with the Genesis Panavision now has available for rental at some locations the Sony F-23 and Panasonic AJ-HPX3000 cameras.
On the film side, the XL2 film camera has components that give it a variable frame rate of 3- 50 fps and help it work better than its predecessors in cold weather. It also has a new "video assist" feature that enables it to be much better in low light. It can quickly convert from studio, to handheld, and steadicam modes. As an accessory, Panavision recently developed a mounting bracket for on-board batteries, which is a production of a response to a client request.
Mike Flynn of B-Side Films posted a great article on the event. Check it out for in-depth converage.
You can check out a couple of vid streams from the event here, and the official product documents here.
Panavision has a page up of the highlights up at their website.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
The men and women of Panavision invite the members of cinematography.com to join us for “Panafest,” a special event in our history, on October 13, 2007 in Los Angeles.
We’ll be showcasing a significant number of new and innovative products for both our film and digital cameras, as well as products from Remote Systems, Efilm, Deluxe and Lee Filters. It will be a day-long event combining great product introductions, good food and drink, and a terrific party all in one. Complementary valet parking will be available.
Date: Saturday, October 13, 2007
Time: 12 noon to 7:00pm
Place: Panavision world headquarters
6219 De Soto Avenue.
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
RSVP: Via Internet
If you miss the live event, we’ll be posting a complete record a few days later on the Internet of the day’s events as well as party coverage. If you don’t see the website here, then please visit our Panavision site (www.panavision.com). The link will be on our front page.
Should be an interesting event, note how much more they do and have than just film cameras - the Genesis, the Efilm & Deluxe labs, etc.
Friday, June 22, 2007
I've at least broken it down into categories - post software, post hardware, acquisition, cameras, general...and iPhone, since there's so much going on with that.
IRIDAS Extends DualStream Stereoscopic Technology across Product Line | Studio Daily - very niche, but good to know
Click-thru Tutorial: Magic Bullet Looks | Studio Daily
Click-thru Tutorial: GenArts Sapphire | Studio Daily
Interview with Automatic Duck's Wes Plate
Getting Intimate with CineForm Intermediate Part 2 (I trust you can follow the links to part 1)
Creating Node Trees in Color and the special case of interlaced video (Final Cut Studio 2) -good Ken Stone tutorial, thanks to a sharp eyed reader for sending this in.
MacNN | MacBook Pro 17" Hi-res: Best LCD yet
MacNN | Overnight 200GB, 250GB laptop drive upgrades - if you don't want to do it yourself...but what about data backup and data integrity and security?
Matrox MXO 2.0 review
Codex Digital Announces Portable Field Recorder | Studio Daily
9 pounds, carbon fiber, rubber weather seals, HD to 4K, size of a lunch box, powered by standard batteries, can do dual link 4:4:4, has Infiniband, Ethernet data connections, can do 10 gigabit optical I/O, 8 channels of audio, wireless MP4 video output, Red One RAW output (!!!), this sounds incredibly cool, useful, and improved - I should write more on this later...
short version - 4K capable S.two to be shown at CineGear
S.two Corporation’s DFR4K™ Digital Field Recorder announced at NAB 2007 will premier at Cine Gear Expo 2007.
New 4K capable portable recorder will feature in movie making workflow demonstration with the Dalsa Origin 4K camera.
Reno, NV—June 22nd 2007— S.two announces it will demonstrate for the first time its new 4K recording solution at this week’s Cine Gear Expo. The new DFR4K™ features full integration with Dalsa Origin 4K cameras using InfiniBand Fibre connections. The coupled systems will be shown on the S.two stand #T4 at the Wadsworth Theatre and Grounds June 22-23, 2007.
The DFR4K plays Dalsa 4K images in real time up to the maximum supported frame rate of the Dalsa camera. This closely coupled integration with Dalsa Origin cameras adds all the capabilities of the camera plus all the on set convenience, productivity, efficiency and robustness that S.two has shown on many completed feature films, the most noted of late being David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’.
An Industry “first”, the 24V DC powered DFR4K™ production units allow the camera to be free of location logistics so that true ‘run and gun’ style movie making can be done in 4K resolution.
This debut showing of the DFR4K™ prototype heralds a complete set of DFR4K™ products for all extended resolution cameras and projects allowing a full choice of palettes for the discerning filmmaker. S.two extended definition workflow will be fully adapted for 4K movie making including offline, archiving and post integration. The DFR4K™ extended definition workflow is added to S.two’s HD, HD RGB, 2K and 3K products supporting other leading cameras.
“As the leading uncompressed digital film recording company, S.two is pleased to be able to provide our field portable, field proven, compact DC powered recording solutions to higher resolution users, bringing our un-rivaled on set experience and reliability to an emerging 4K market” states Steve Roach, Vice President, S.two. “The DFR4K™ provides 4K users a proven end to end workflow with the same benefits S.two has supplied on multiple movie projects around the world.”
Ikegami and Toshiba Provide Details of Advanced New Tapeless ENG Camera, Editing and Production System | Studio Daily
DALSA and the Digital Cinema Society (http://www.digitalcinemasociety.com/) are co-hosting a 4K presentation at the Cine Gear Expo, the industry's premiere film, video and digital media expo. The event which takes place on Saturday, June 23rd will explore 4K for production, post, and projection. Various samples acquired in 4K RAW with the DALSA Origin camera, edited in HD with Apple's Final Cut Pro, then conformed using EDL into the final project for color correction and creation of the DCP will be projected in 4K via the Sony SXRD Projector.
Following the screening, James Mathers, President and Co-founder of the Digital Cinema Society, will moderate a panel made up of Cinematographer David Stump, ASC; DALSA's Rob Hummel; Sony's Andrew Stucker; Denis Leconte of Pacific Title, as well as Directors Anurag Mehta and Joe DiGennaro. The presentation is a great opportunity to find out the benefits and challenges of Digital Filmmaking at 4K resolution.
The time slot is 10-10:45 AM on Saturday, the 23rd at the Wadsworth Theatre at Cinegear. Note: You must be registered for the Cine Gear Expo - Free of Charge Until June 15: For more information on Cinegear, visit http://www.cinegearexpo.com
Zacuto to offer turnkey HD camera packages with Redrock M2 adaptors
Zacuto and Redrock Micro today announced Zacuto will begin offering turnkey digital camera solutions equipped with the Redrock M2 adapter.
"We've had great success providing camera packages setup for the Redrock M2 and have gotten to know it very well," said Steve Weiss, Marketing Director at Zacuto. "Offering our customers complete packages including Redrock's M2 made perfect sense to us. We are thrilled to be teaming up with another US manufacturer."
"Zacuto is putting together fantastic camera packages for digital cinematographers," added James Hurd, Chief Revolutionary for Redrock. "We're delighted to be working with a company that maintains a strong reputation for quality, expertise, and customer service."
Zacuto targets their cinema bundles to customers requiring a complete camera package and have a budget ranging from $20,000-$30,000. The Zacuto cinema solution bundles will include a Zacuto-branded Redrock adapter kit, Panasonic HVX-200 camera, Zeiss Nikon-mount lenses, tripod, Zacuto support system, fitted Zacuto case, and other needed accessories.
Redrock's M2 35mm lens adapter is always available directly from Redrock's website, available with other Redrock accessories including the award-winning microFollowFocus, microMattebox, and microRemote. Redrock pricing starts at $995 for complete SD solutions, and $1,295 for HD solutions.
Redrock and Zacuto will both be at Cinegear Expo 2007 in Los Angeles June 22nd and 23rd. Redrock will be in Booth 30 (located near Panasonic and JVC booths). Zacuto will be located at Booth 77.
Proposed Amendment Would Ban All DVD Copying - News and Analysis by PC Magazine
Cinematical Seven: Tips for the Indie Filmmaker - Cinematical
Shooting Animation Verit-Style for Surf's Up | Studio Daily
HD DVD Production - white paper details on HD DVD structure/setup
Apple`s Safari for Windows offers simple interface, good performance but not essential
MacNN | Apple patent: power adapters for security
Mac OS X 10.4.10 Released
YouTube to Test Software To Ease Licensing Fights - WSJ.com
CinemaTech: Could new RealPlayer spark legal action?
SoftRAID 3.6 doesn't work under 10.4.10 - so don't upgrade yet!:
"SoftRaid 3.6 does not recognize 10.4.10, and will not allow access to preferences for changes or statistics. The only option is to close the software. To paraphrase the error message, it says that I don't have the proper OS installed and that I should install 10.4.X.
I sent an inquiry to SoftRaid, LLC about this and I received an answer back in under 5 minutes as follows:
'Either go back to 10.4.9, wait until 3.6.2 is out, or ask to be on the beta list for 3.6.2. This is caused by Apples hack to make a 10.4.10 possible, which violates their naming standards.'"
iPhone data plans to surface before launch day - Engadget
AppleInsider | New iMac, iPhone hints turn up in Apple software update
AppleInsider | AT&T exec: iPhone data plans to be announced June 29th [Updated]
AppleInsider | Apple retail stores to close, re-open ahead of iPhone
AppleInsider | AT&T recommending "Crowd Control Devices" for iPhone launch
AppleInsider | Apple gets new EU extension; iPhone dock; 7.6 percent Mac share
Apple - iPhone - A Guided Tour - new on Apple's site.
EDIT 9:45PM - I'm watching this right now on my HDTV via my AppleTV (the file is Apple TV compatible, natch). My garage got burgled today - my trusty mountain bike (Bridgestone MB-1, heavily modified over last 16 years) got stolen, and my car pilfered. Drat it - so much for my comfy neighborhood vibe - alarm to be used EVERY time I leave the house from now on. But anyway, feel better sitting home tonight and locking all the windows, etc. Back on topic - the iPhone has more little features I hadn't noticed before, so that's good. A silent ringer dedicated button. Speaker and microphone both on bottom (odd!). Another speaker up by your ear. Sleep/wake button is nice - can still receive calls and listen to music, but the big screen is off to save battery. The speaker on the bottom is for speakerphone mode - nice! Conference calling is nice and easy - I could never figure it out on any other phone system before without going to the manual. Lots of subtle quality UI touches. The cost is starting to not matter as much seeing all this - this is how it ought to work. If they released a phone with no video, no audio, and just the UI in a smaller form factor..it'd sell just fine. can surf multiple simultaneous pages - keep'em open. Email on iPhone can read/view JPEG, PDF, Word, Excel, RTF, HTML, etc. The keyboard is "smart" they say as it catches typos, etc. They suggest starting with your index finger and then advancing to thumbing - "in about a week you'll be typing faster on the iPhone than on any other phone" - so get ready for a learning curve. Still only being demo'd in vertical keyboard only mode - I've always been wondering when they'd get a wide mode keyboard mode - I have fat thumbs (and all that...oh never mind). Stock widget is exactly like the OS X widget. Google Maps - it doesn't seem to be self-aware of where you are as some has hoped - you have to tell it where you are. Traffic updates can be live - nice! YouTube - yeah, gotta be on WiFi from what they seem to be saying. Has an airplane mode - no WiFi, Bluetooth, or cell signals come out of it in this mode (well thought out!). Set your ringtone - they don't mention loading your own, but part of me wants to use this one (NSFW).
That'll hold us for a bit...
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
UPDATE: Randy from Band Pro caught a big mix up in the HDCAM SR part - I was talkin' HDCAM not SR. Apologies. That's what I get for publishing a 2 year old draft...
So, at long last, here is the second part of my coverage on What's Wrong with Videotape Formats.
In the last installment, I talked about DV, DVCPRO 50, Digibeta, and HDV. Now I'll be getting into the professional HD standards: DVCPRO HD, HDCAM, D-5, HDCAM SR (4:2:2 and optionally 4:4:4), SRW-1 double rate 4:4:4 RGB.
Sony claims anything over 1500 pixels of resolution on F900 is only going to be capturing noise. OK, if you take that at face value that merely implies Sony's CCDs aren't resolving the full detail capability of HD. Fine. Things will improve over time.
HOWEVER from what I hear back from DoPs in the field, they like the color better on the Panasonic Varicam cameras. Is it a function of the higher color sampling, or the CineGamma, or just better "stuff" in the camera? "Um, whatever, it just looks better when we're done." was the response.
"A 10-bit, 1920x1080i image makes a 1.5Gb/s data stream -- a healthy payload. Sony deals with this by converting the 10-bit data to 8-bit, bringing the stream down to 996Mb/s. Now for the controversial part: Sony "pre-filters," or down-samples, the data, reducing it to 662Mb/s. At this point, the Y sampling is technically 55.68MHz (vs. the ATSC 74.25MHz). The sampling ratio becomes 17:6:6 (vs. the ATSC 22:11:11), which calculates to 1440:480:480 pixels.
If you just look at the numbers, you'd say HDCAM is inferior, as D5 is the full 1920:960:960 and D7 is 1280:640:640. Some even describe HDCAM as a 3:1:1 system. (If 1920:960:960 were represented by the numbers 4:2:2, then mathematically 1440:480:480 would equate to 3:1:1). You might be thinking, "Hey, 3:1:1 is worse than a prosumer DV camcorder, which has 4:1:1." But keep in mind that the first number of the compression ratio represents something different in the HD and SD worlds. Comparing SD 4:1:1 to HD 3:1:1 is like comparing grapes to grapefruit. The ratio to use is 17:6:6 compared to the full 22:11:11."
I don't recall where I got the above, apologies.
Input resolution: 10 bit 4:2:2 1920x1080, 29.97 interlaced frames per second (NTSC) or 23.976 psf, or 24.0 psf (progressive segmented frames), 29.97p, 30.0p
Output resolution: 8 bit 4:2:2 1440x1080, @ 25 or 29.97 interlaced frames per second, or 23.976/24.0/29.97/30.0p, compressed
Compression type & amount: compression is about 7:1 (the jump from 10 bit 4:2:2 down to the recorded 22.5 MB/sec)
"Panasonic's D5 HD machines, because they are based on the D5 format, work in the full bandwidth 10 bit domain (there's no prefiltering or postfiltering of the signal as is done with the Sony HDCAM. Also the HDCAM works only in the 8 bit mode.) Panasonic's D5-HD is also switchable to an 8 bit mode. While in that mode it uses a 4:1 intraframe compression. In its 10 bit mode, it uses a 5:1 intraframe compression.
The VCR is switchable between 59.94 fps and 60 fps, and also handles 23.976 and 24.0 fps, and also handls 720p with flag framing for 24p work (by padding out to 720p60 and flagging the "good" 24 frames - thanks to commenter for pointing out my dangerously ambiguous prior phrasing).
One thing setting the D5-HD apart from other formats is that it records a true 1920 pixels by 1080i image (Panasonic's DVCPROHD records only 1280 pixels and Sony's HDCAM records only 1440 pixels). It is also switchable to 1035i and 720p. One reason why the D5-HD machines can record such a detailed picture is that they're throwing 235 megabits per second onto the tape, (as opposed to DVCPRO-HD's 100 megabits per second, D9-HD's 100 megabits per second, and HDCAM's 140 megabits per second).
EDIT MAY 2007 - I heard tell of a mod to do DCI Spec 2K - 2048x1080 on it, but I don't recall the full details. Since at HD resolutions it was only 4:2:2 and single link, I'm thinking the 2K would be 4:2:2 as well, but I don't know that for a fact (anybody with a link to prove one way or the other please use comments). IF only 4:2:2, that is just "Umm...feh." in terms of what i desirable - 2K work is generally 10 bit log RGB 4:4:4 color space/sampling, not Y'CbCr 4:2:2.
It's compatible with native 720p and 1080i full-bandwidth 22:11:11." Oh, and it is 10 bit
I don't know where I got the above, I'm quoting from...somebody. I wrote this over a year ago, and I apologize for not citing my source - if anybody knows, tell me and I'll be happy to link to it.
HDCAM SR -
EDIT MAY 2007:
HDCAM SR is generally considered the highest quality HD tape format (sorry, Panasonic). With the ability to handle 720p, 1080i, as well as 1080p at FULL raster (fully 1920 pixels wide recorded, not 1440 or 1280), and is 10 bits not 8 bits of bit depth (1024 steps black to white not 255...actual numbers are even less for both).
10 bit full raster 4:2:2
10 bit full raster 4:4:4, if has the 4:4:4 board in it
normally 440mbit, but SRW-1 and 5800 can also do 880mbit (does the 5500 as well? Can't recall - anybody? Bueller?)
I've learned a bit more since then. There's the Sony 5000 (HDCAM SR only), 5500 (HDCAM as well), HDCAM SR (HDCAM and I think Digibeta too optionally). The 5800 is the only one AFAIK that can handle the double data rate of the SRW-1 for 880mbit (the super high quality mode), and also for 1080p60 work with the HDC-1500, F23, and other new cameras from Sony.
And AH, here's the scoop:
SRW-5000 deck - plays/records HDCAM SR up to 440mbit, can do 4:4:4 with addl. board. Plays back HDCAM as well, but doesn't record to it.
SRW-5500 deck - plays AND records HDCAM SR (up to 440mbit, not 880 mbit) AS WELL AS HDCAM. Plays back and upconverts Digibeta as well (but doesn't record to). RGB 4:4:4 capable with optional card.
SRW-5800 - plays/records HDCAM SR (up to 880mbit, up to 1080p60), playback only on HDCAM & Digibeta. The big difference here is support for 880mbit HDCAM SR from the SRW-1 (which does 440 or 880, but James Cameron sez you can't tell the diff even for keys), as well as for 1080p50 or 1080p60 footage from the new high end cameras (F23 & HDC-1500 & others). 1080p50/60 is handy for making a "world master" - can make excellent, uncompromised 720p50/60 or 1080i50/60 (those are the broadcast standards) from 1080p50/60 footage. If you convert 720p60 to or from 1080i60, there's a quality/resolution compromise - not so if starting from 1080p50/60.
IN SUMMARY: The point of all this was to show how much information you're throwing away when you record that you can never get back. When people talk about capturing uncompressed in post, they often make it sound like they have the best possible image. Well, not quite - they have the best possible image given the compromises on the TAPE. The point of this exercise was to show that all, All, ALL HD tape formats involve some compression, involving throwing away some portion of the source imagery. Unless you're using a Codex or S.two or RaveHD or homebrew AJA/BMD setup over single/dual link HD-SDI to uncompressed files...you're compromising your image quality to some degree. Shooting 4:4:4 880mbit HDCAM SR? You probably can't tell a meaningful difference through normal post processes between that and uncompressed. Shooting HDV? Hell yeah - can spot it in any still.
Consider this: 1080i60, if you recorded RGB 4:4:4 at 10 bits, would be a 240 MB/sec datastream. LOTS of information. HDCAM SR pulls that down to a max of 110 MB/sec - and just naked eyeballing the two side by side, you'd probably never tell the difference, nor if you'd done a "reasonable" amount of color grading or other work on it. Keys? Ehhh...mebbee...I can't say for sure.
Then consider HDV - that 240 MB/sec gets keerunched down to 3.5 MB/sec - that's about 70:1. Yeah - you're losing some goodies in there - you've dropped from 1920x1080 to 1440x1080, you've dropped from 10 bits to 8 bits, you've dropped from 4:4:4 down to 4:2:0 color sampling, you've dropped from negligibly noticeable to significantly noticable compression artifacts. You can tell. And your audience certainly will, on either a 2 foot especially on a 60 foot screen.
READ THIS ARTICLE; http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0HFE/is_2000_Jan/ai_58629718
D-5 is 4:2:2 10 bit (FROM THEIR OWN WEB PAGE)
4:2:2 vs 4:4:4 defined on BlackMagic website: http://www.blackmagic-design.com/site/3support.htm
luma vs. chroma sampling, downsampling, DCT, interframe compression, intraframe compression, etc.
HDV 720 (JVC) vs. HDV 1080i (Sony)
720p23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 59.94, 60, or any other progressive framerate between 4 and 60 in 1 fps increments
off camera (Varicam): 10 bit 4:2:2 1280x720
to/from tape: 8 bit 960x720
1080i: 59.94 or 50
to/from tape: 1280x1080 8 bit
1080p23.98, 24, 25, (possibly 29.97 and 30? Can't recall)
off camera (Sony F900): 10 bit 4:2:2 1920x1080
to/from tape: 8 bit 3:1:1 1440x1080
to/from tape: 1920x1080 10 bit 4:2:2
until I get better info, I consider the 4:2:2 quality a tie from what I know right now. However, as a deck, I give the nod to the HDCAM SR deck, since for the price of a D-5 deck you can get an SRW-5000 HDCAM SR deck with the RGB 4:4:4 board, and then you can do things the D-5 can't ever do (4:4:4 RGB).
HDCAM SR 4:2:2
to/from tape: 1920x1080 10 bit 4:2:2
HDCAM SR 4:4:4
to/from tape: 1920x1080 10 bit 4:4:4 RGB
SRW-1 HDCAM SR deck
besides all the HDCAM SR options of the SRW-5000, it also has a "double time" 4:4:4 mode where it only uses 2.7:1 instead of roughly 4:1 compression that the SRW-5000 does. That's the 880mbit mode
Friday, April 13, 2007
BIG year for cameras - with new offerings from DALSA (Evolution prototype and Origin II), Sony's F23 that we've only seen tidbits of but not footage from, their new 4:2:2, 50 mbit XDCAM HD line-up, new player noX, the substantially revised and about-to-ship SI-2K, as well as who knows what else - it is a banner year for cameras.
This list is not complete or comprehensive, just what I had seen so far and had time to blog on.
And lest we forget, I expect to touch an actual working Red One on Sunday in their booth, since I'm workin' the show for them Monday and Tuesday. Be jealous. Very jealous. *
Macdaddy - Reduser.net Speaking of Red One, here's a PHOTO (not a render) of a fully configged Red One, as I expect to see/touch at NAB next week. Click pic to go to Reduser.net thread with high res and more discussion/info.
Along similar lines, Red One FAQ - Reduser.net, Brook Willard over on Reduser.net has started putting together a MASSIVE FAQ on Red One. Well done sir! I'd been dabbling with idea of doing my own on here, but haven't had time of late. He's off to a great start.
Studio Daily | XDCAM HD's New Innovations at NAB:
Sony will give NAB attendees a sneak peek at the third generation of its XDCAM HD recording system, which offers 4:2:2 processing and increased data capture of up to 50 Mbps (from the current limit of 4:2:0 at 35 Mbps). MPEG-2 and its inherent long GOP structure will continue to be supported. A dual-layer Blu-ray disc will offer 100 minutes of record time.
-1/2" for now, 2/3" in 2008 - dissapointing, everyone I talked to said 2/3" was coming when discussed last year
Sneak peak=not shipping yet - "won’t be shipping until later this year or sometime next year" so definitely next year, probably NAB if I had to guess. Things take longer, as we all know.
New NAS server called HDXchange to be shown too, supports QT, AVI, DVI, MPEG-2 & MPEG-4.
Studio Daily | Ikegami and Toshiba to Collaborate: "the two companies will collaborate in developing the components of an advanced tapeless video production and editing system, including a professional-use camera and video recorder, utilizing the robust versatility of Flash memory as the main storage medium. The new system will support all aspects of video production, from news acquisition through to archiving, and Ikegami and Toshiba will jointly promote the concept to the industry before its targeted commercialization in April 2008."
Everybody's getting in on the IT based thang.
Studio Daily | VICON Announces New F-Series Motion Capture Cameras: "The VICON F40 camera is capable of capturing 370 frames-per-second at 4-million pixels and the VICON F20 camera captures up to 500 frames-per-second at 2-million pixel resolutions. These significant increases in speed are matched by an improvement in the camera's marker throughput capacity, allowing for the capture of more subjects per trial or take. In addition to these speed increases, the VICON Vegas sensor offers a true "freeze frame" shutter, so the F-series cameras are tolerant of on-set or laboratory ambient light."
Fraunhofer IIS MicroHDTV
Itty bitty HDTV camera - 4x4x8 centimeters, 2/3" Altasens 3562 sensor, camera NOT camcorder, booth C8828H @ NAB 2007
In case you missed them, I wrote long pieces yesterday about new offerings from:
DALSA - revised existing 4K camera, new smaller 4K camera in 2008, untethered solid state recorder/playback module
Silicon Imaging and their newly revised SI-2K camera with new sensor, form factor, and features
noX - a new 2K camera that records uncompressed RAW to an onboard, fault tolerant RAID, uses a single 1.2" sensor, PL lens mounts (and C & F & other adaptors). Price unknown.
If you hear of other new cameras, let me know. My time on the floor will be limited, so I'll need to prioritize and just see the Big Stuff, or little stuff that is particularly significant to the HD for Indies audience. Feel free to comment away with suggestions, and preferably booth #s, and why you think it relevant for me to check out.
* insert "neener neener neener" sound effect for for the fully childish effect
Thursday, April 12, 2007
It seems that what Jeff Kreines started with his Kinetta camera idea a few years ago has really taken off - first there was (almost but not yet) Kinetta, then the Drake, then the Andromeda, then the SI-2K, then Red One, and now noX. Is it "Knocks" or "No Ecks"?
The quickie rundown:
-up to 2048x1152 res
-1.2" sensor, aspect ratio not stated, presumably 16:9
-records uncompressed RAW frame file sequences to a small RAID (3x2.5" hard drives) that can be configured fault tolerant
-records 45 min of 1080p24 uncompressed RAW in "failsafe" mode that can lose a drve, 90 min in unprotected mode
-file format is proprietary noXRAW format, an uncompressed RAW format, they have a box to convert to standard image sequences
-PL mount lenses, but F & C & other adaptors
-HD-SDI and XLR are available, but as options
-8.4" viewscreen/touchscreen, optional EVF
Way too much info below, if you're in a hurry, scroll to bottom for Mike's Takeaway.
One piece of info noticeably absent is a price point, but first units expected June/July 2007.
Unlike most press releases, they've done an excellent job of giving a bullet point feature summary on their PDF info page, I'll reproduce it here and hopefully they won't mind the free publicity. Their material in italics, then my own questions after each section:
2K resolution (2048 x 1152 at 25-fps max)
Full HD (1920 x 1080, progressive, 23.98-, 24-, 25-fps)
Downsize possible to 720p (23.98-, 24-, 25-, 29.97-, 37-fps max)
Single 1.2" CCD chip
Pictures have a genuine film look
DOF like film
More than 12 f-stops dynamic range
Light sensitive, small apertures possible
CCD signal conversion via 14-bit A/D converter
ISO 220 sensitivity at 0db (as measured by GS Vitec)
-25 fps max at 2K feels a bit low considering what the competition is offering these days
-37 fps @ 720p is definitely an improvement
-large (1.2") single CCD sensor helps give that 35mm DOF luv
-more than 12 stops - wow, that'll be impressive to see
-ISO rating....hmmph. Would like to see better.
8.4" high resolution 400 cd/m2 control monitor with touch screen (zoom & pan mode)
2-4x Digital Zoom for fine focus adjustment
Electronic view finder (optional)
Full resolution 2K and HD viewing output
-8.4" screen - GOOD - what res though?
-optional EVF - what res, what price, color or B&W or switchable?
-full res 2K & HD viewing output via what? HDMI? HD-SDI? Single or dual link?
Easy and flexible workflow ("always fits your needs")
Raw Bayer data recording
Direct recording to integrated exchangeable HDD data pack raid (min 90 minutes)
Gigabit Ethernet based file access
noXboX Digital MAZ solution for data backup and rendering
15 seconds pre-trigger recording function
18 seconds shock protection
Undercranking <0.12-fps with programmable images/minute (comes as firmware update)
360-degree shutter with variable speed control
Shutter in 1/24, 1/25, 1/32, 1/48, 1/50, 1/60, 1/96, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000 sec
Slow-shutter (in software)
-since says RAID, I'll presume uncompressed RAW recording - can't argue about quality loss there...YEP I verified later
-GigE file access - great! But what file format? Any file format options? Are we talking DPX or TIFF sequences or what? Found out - noXRAW, more below
-pre-trigger & shock protection - NICE feature
-limited overcrank, lotza undercrank - good feature, easy to do with tapeless approach
-this opens up further questions - what's the workflow? What format are those RAW files in, and what do we do after accessing over that GigE? Does it show up as a network volume or do we need special software that might not be available on all platforms?
Easy-to-use control software with touch screen or remote control
Adjustable HD curves (aka S-curves or Gamma-curves)
Up to thousands of personal HD curve presets savable
Clear menu structure
Clip browser with selectable preview pictures
Instant raw data playback with timeline and review
Integrated pre-cut system for rendering fast previews (aka dailies or quick snapshots)
Auto-file naming and project management with metadata
Any rendering codec possible
Fast access to frequently used setups
System integrated help menu
Safety areas and ratio framings, crosshair, overlay grid
Zebra and tiger mode
Per-channel live histogram display
DOF table for most lenses (comes as firmware update)
Easy online camera firmware update via Ethernet
Complete remote control via Gigabit Ethernet
-GOOD that you can remote control via software - mouse/keyboard SO much easier than touchscreen for so many tasks
-saveable presets - EXCELLENT
-clip browse/nav - as expected, but since is from RAW that is tougher so glad they've done it
-"any rendering codec possible" - sounds promising, but I'd like to know more about what that means exactly
-histogram stuff - GREAT, I'm glad this kind of thing is crossing over from print into video - vectorscopes and waveforms are nice, but histogram gives another kind of very useful info, and frankly there is an entire generation of filmmaker that grew up with Photoshop style tools rather than 'scopes.
Interchangeable Camera Heads
High speed (640 x 480 at 200-fps max) (optional)
HD 2K real monochrome (near IR sensitivity) (optional)
-I take it this means the sensor pack is coming out to put something new in - nice option to have, I'd like to see others follow suit - this is a somewhat novel feature
Stereo mic/line level inputs with 16-bit/48Khz sampling
(breakout box, 5-pin male XLR jack, 0 dBm) (optional)
Default option is WEAK, the optional one is the only professional choice. You can always go DAT, but I didn't see timecode mentioned anywhere on the site, so I HOPE that is there for syncing up later
Robust aluminum alloy body with multiple mounting places (3/8")
15 mm LWS (light weight support) compatible
V-mount rechargeable battery system (min 1 hour)
Fully compatible to 35 mm accessories
Different interchangeable mounts available (PL, F, C and Canon, whatever you want)
Electronic back focus
LCD Status display (temperature, recording time)
12 V two pin connector for external accessories
Cup holder (no joking!)
-Cup holder? So I can spill stuff?...???????
-V mount batteries - good
-good lens mount options, akin to what SI-2K and Red are up to
They mention their MAZ system for "data backup and rendering" but give no further juicy details.
MORE ON THE CAMERA
-buncha pics of camera and sample pics here.
-the sample pics look a bit flat and lifeless - presumably these are unprocessed, non-color corrected shots. Good depth of field is shown, but saturation & range shown looks a bit flat, even if the images themselves may have good dynamic range. They are BMPs, so somebody feel free to torture them in Photoshop and see how they hold up, I don't have time to do so at the moment. All the test footage seems carefully guarded in what they shot - but everybody does that at first.
None of the test footage shoes extremes of dynamic range, such as a broad daylight shot. In this pic, you can see the top side of the white car blowing out, but looking at the shadows and other pics from that set, is definitely a cloudy day - no direct sunlight. How many USABLE stops of lattitude is the true metric to be interested in, not how many mathematically demonstrable stops can be detected.
Perusing the FAQ, more useful tidbits:
-claimed dynamic range is >12 stops, around 4000:1, native ISO 220
-this answer makes me nervous: "Its exposure latitude is comparable to the best film stocks, and its linear range offers at least 12 stops." My (limited) understanding is that the best film stocks can go further than that
-DOES have HD-SDI outputs, mentioned in FAQ, but is optional
-daylight readable touchscreen/display
-with histogram, vectorscope, waveform & zebra, good tools to optimize your exposure settings
-PROPRIETARY RECORDING FORMAT: "noXRAW" files - " lossless, uncompressed, uninterpolated, easily rendered and previewed" - previewed with what?
-datarate - 8 bit 1080p24 RAW is 380 megabits/sec, or 47.5 MB/sec, or about 180 GB/hr of footage - Hey! 8 bit only? That's behind the times of every other new camera out there. Ouch. 10 bits plus, please
-onboard recording capacity - at least 45 min in failsafe mode, or 90 min in non-fault tolerant mode. The noXboX (Digital MAZ for noX) is for transfer over NAS, 50 MB/sec min required
-1080p25 (and presumably 24p) can be done over dual link HD-SDI if you wish
-uses 3 2.5" notebook drives, in failsafe mode can lose one drive and still maintain data integrity
-shock protected drive w/16 min record is an option - solid state I'm guessing?
-camera head can be removed for remote recording up to 3m w/standard cable, or 100m w/fiber link
-overall size comparable to 16mm camera
-can shoulder/dolly/tripod mount like any other camera
-removable PL mount, F & C mounts available as well, but no Digiprimes
-to answer the codec issue - can transcode to whatever you want, "it only depends on the installed codecs on the rendering machine, e.g. noXboX (Digital MAZ for noX)" - TIFF, BMP, TGA, JPEG, JPEG2000, SGI, PNG, etc.. Image sequence or AVI, but no .MOV (harrumph for us FCP users)
-metadata is mentioned elsewhere, but not timecode
-first ones available June/July 2007, Euro market only to start, America thereafter (and rest of world).
Based on the feature set I see here, if it wants to be competitive it'd need to be priced under $15K to compete favorably with the more featured SI-2K and Red One. And that's damn tough to do with a custom developed, low distribution camera.
-1.2" single sensor
-PL mount for lenses
-uncompressed RAW recording
-FAULT TOLERANT data recording - that's unique so far (Red has hinted at this capability but not offered details yet)
-SEEMS to be 8 bit recording, they don't mention higher bit depth recording when discussing datarates, I've emailed to ask about and will update if I hear back
-unknown price point at this time
I'm ALL FOR having more choices in the market. But based on what I'm seeing, I see nothing uniquely compelling here - and even worse, nothing new or better than what we already know is available or coming to market shortly EDIT - not quite true - fault tolerant recording is unique. With other products holding more market mindshare right now, that offer same and more features, this feels like a "me too, but not as much" product. It also looks not as refined - look at the product design, and compare it to the Red One or the recently redesigned SI-2K. Actually, noX looks a lot like SI's 1920 res camera from last NAB - slab sided and bulky, unrefined, sharp edged, lumpy and unfinished.
The resolution matches SI-2K, but SI-2K has more features and better post integration and options overall (see this article from earlier today). The Red One offers higher resolution, higher frame rates, a LOT of vendor support & interest (wait for next week) and based on what I've seen so far, better looking images as well. The one thing that made me wince - 8 bit recording. Yep, it looks like the only onboard recording option is 8 bit. I'd MUCH rather have a good compressed 10 bit image than an uncompressed 8 bit one. 8 bit is yesterday's news, BIG time. If they are claiming >12 bits of dynamic range, the usefulness of that is severely hampered by 8 bit recording. 14 bit A/D conversion is mentioned in the press release, and HD-SDI outputs, so perhaps better choices are available - but if so, you'd think they'd mention them. Both Red & SI-2K offer 10 or even 12 bit options in their recording choices. The only time recording bit depth is mentioned is when discussing datarates, which they want to present as low, but if I were writing a press release I'd add "and greater bit depth recording options are available as well."
So given all that, I'd say they'd need to hit a $10-$15K price point to seriously prick up ears and interest in the camera - there are simply too many (two many) other options that are further along, attractively priced, and offer demonstrably better utility based on information available to date.
If they can refine the physical packaging, get better recording options (higher bit depth and perhaps compressed RAW recording, hey guys talk to the Davids at Cineform!), and a price point around or under $15K, then I think it'll fit into the market in a logical place.
Of course, sensor/image quality counts for LOTS - so I'd need to put'em side by side and shoot the same thing to make a more definitive analysis - I'm just winging it based on specs & posted images for now.
But my gut vibe is exemplified in the headline - a bit of "Sigh, yet ANOTHER RAW shooting, data recording/IT based, large single sensor camera coming to market...what's different about THIS one?" Such riches that we have that we can be blasé about such new products! If they'd announced 12-18 months ago we'd all have been blown away. But technology is only as relevant as its price point and launch date...blow either of those and you can have a great product, but nobody asks you to dance (DALSA is getting better about learning this lesson, and Jeff Kreines, we Miss Thee, Kinetta was a WONDERFUL idea but I think its time has passed as originally incarnated).
We now have two camps - the (hopefully) low cost, high end, PL mounting New Boyz In Town, the SI-2K, Red One, and now noX, and the Big Boyz - the Genesis, D-20, and DALSA, that are rental only, all around $3K/day (last I heard).
For now, I'm skeptical based on the recording options and the unknown price point. Fix both of those to my liking, and there's a ballgame.
EDIT - BUT WAIT - it IS 1.2" sensor, NOT 2/3" like the SI-2K, so you get better depth of field than the SI-2K. Horses for courses, I may need to back up and rethink my above statements. At the right price point, it may be a "horses for courses" kind of a thing - VFX heavy workflow, removable head needed? SI-2K. Max image quality or higher frame rates? Red One. Low budget, good depth of field? Maybe noX will make sense. The devil is in the details, and we don't have enough of any of those to say quite yet - I haven't taken any of these out in the field as yet myself, nor have many others.
click pic for larger view of camera
DALSA has been busy - taking feedback that the current camera was too large and unwieldy, they've re-engineered one camera and are working on a smaller one as well, and have new recording and lensing options:
First up, an improved version of the Origin, the Origin II:
-modified/improved version of the original Origin
-latest version of their sensor (frame transfer CCD)
-easier touch screen interface
-24 reference white balance curves/display LUTs
-better on set visualization tools
-available for rent NOW
-dual link HD-SDI for monitoring or recording
-battery powerable for untethered operation - record to Flashmag for fully run (OK, careful walk) 'n gun operation with no cables snaking out behind you. Also opens the door for easier Steadicam work (but need a BEEFY platform for that!)
The Big News, to my mind, is the the new DALSA Evolution 4K Camera due in 2008:
-30-40% smaller than the Origin II
-roughly 25 pounds in current prototype trim
-can be completely untethered and battery powered as well with the Flashmag (read about below)
-from Patrick Myles at DALSA answer my question about differnces from the first Origin: same form factor, but latest version of our sensor. (digitalized at full 14bits), plus some new enhancements. Battle tested, production-proven, ready to roll (check out David Stump's 4K footage from "The Trident" with David Carridine this Sunday at the Digital Cinema Summit. Stunning.).
Anybody attending the DCS, please take notes or email me about it as I have other commitments this year unfortunately.
Also, they are addressing the storage option issue - the excellent but large Codex box has been their primary recommended storage solution, and while it elegantly handles a bunch of production issues, it is large, physically cumbersome, power hungry and pricey. Most of those issues have been addressed, and well, with the new Flashmag recording option.
Here's an exclusive photo, click for a larger view:
-untethered recording for uncompressed 4K RAW
-is high speed, non-volatile solid state memory
-20 minutes 16 bit uncompressed 24p 4K RAW, or
-40 minutes of mathematically lossless 4K RAW (mathematically lossless is ABSOLUTELY the same quality as uncompressed, just lossless compression - think .zip or Stuffit instead of JPEG type compression)
-Flashmag also plays back for on set review in realtime, showing "Super 2K" res via dual link HD-SDI
-early 2008 availability
-battery powerable as well for untethered operation on either the Origin II or Evolution
EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: I emailed Patrick and he got back to me with some further details in answer to my questions:
Q: How big is it in GB?
A: 512 GB
Q: 4.) What are the ports/is the workflow to get data off the mag?
A: 4X infiniband for high speed transfer of data at full res.
Dual HD-SDI for realtime display at "Super 2K" (does realtime image reconstruction - RAW to RBG - in the Flashmag) for dailies or even recording.
HDMI, USB, Firewire outputs
...so presumably plug it in and copy over...what exactly? I've asked, will update when I hear back.
And lastly, they'll be offering high performance PL mount 4K anamorphic cine lenses, designed by Eric Peterson of A&S Precision. It gives full coverage of the sensor and will be available late 2007.
Mike's Commentary: Based on seeing vendor presented, optimal presentation of material from the PRESENTLY SHIPPING cameras that I saw last year including the D-20, Panavision Genesis, DALSA, F900, F950, etc., the DALSA Origin is my favorite in terms of image quality - just a gut reaction, "I likes it." INCREDIBLY robust dynamic range capability, excellent resolution, mechanical shutter for film like motion rendition, etc. It looks GREAT. See for yourself here in their 4K gallery.
The single shot that most convinced me was a hot overhead spotlit shot of Dita Von Tease (Marilyn Manson's current wife) wearing a dark gown with pale skin, and the iris was rolled open and closed to over/under expose. The graceful, filmlike was it responded was a crushingly powerful indicator of the finesse with which the sensor handles highlight details - beautifully. Did I say "crushing" in that sentence? I didn't mean to use it in the traditional filmmaker sense, since the whole point was that the highlights DIDN'T crush, just rolled off extremely gracefully without the usual digital telltale giveaways. A hot/overlit skintone is one of the most glaringly (literally) obvious indicators of digital vs film - and this handled it very well.
That said, it is also a big clumsy beast of a camera in the Origin (I) incarnation I saw last summer, as it had no HD-SDI outputs, and ONLY recorded uncompressed 4K. The victory of the product is that they set out to create a no-compromises optimal 4K image acquisition device, and they achieved that. The problem was, some compromises would have been extremely helpful - HD-SDI out, more readily shoulder mountable form factor, and options other than the massive Codex recorder box for image capture would have been good...but would have compromised their max quality vision of how to do this stuff. Their "4K or the Highway" approach at the time was a hindrance for viable production work. Now, they've addressed those issues.
The Origin II adds the interfaces I felt were missing, the Evolution tackles the form factor issues, and the Flashmag addresses the portability/tethering issues. MAJOR progress. It is also nice to hear David Stump shot some footage with it for The Trident, but I don't know enough about that project to say anything else, hopefully it is a feature or TV project, as I haven't heard of anyone committing to DALSA for a feature project or significant VFX work - I suspect their "4K or the Highway" approach had scared folks off.
EDIT - got an email from DALSA, saying folks are taking a "Super 2K" approach - shoot 4K RAW & downsample to 2K 16 bit RGB. In addition to The Trident, David Stump also shot a project called "No!". Additionally, Super 2K approach is being used at present.
The Flashmag is more than just a recorder, it will also play back and handle demosaic & scaling of the 4K RAW footage to dual link HD-SDI - a huge benefit. For lower cost monitoring, an HDMI output makes for easy client monitoring solutions as well. The Infiniband, FireWire and USB 2.0 interfaces are all presumably usable for getting the data off the unit with varying degrees of speed and convenience on set.
Come check out all their new goodies at NAB, in Central Hall, booth 9423. I'm meeting with them, you should too. The image quality is fantastic, form factor and workflow were their challenges and they appear to be making significant progress on that front.
Their next challenge - bringing these new products to market at a sufficiently attractive price point in a timely manner....
PS - on a related note, Origin and CineForm have been working together on being able to use the CineForm RAW codec with DALSA's camera. The last I heard was that there wasn't enough horsepower to convert the uncompressed RAW to CineForm RAW in realtime, so recording to uncompressed was required, and then the massive datastream could be compressed using the Cineform RAW codec for more efficient storage, transport, and workflow. I missed blogging on this issue, as I do with many, because I wanted to cover it in depth but just never got the time, so it slipped through my fingers (as so many things do).
Random thought - I wonder what the time and efficacy would be like to shoot untethered to the Flashmag, then transcode straight from the Flashmag to Cineform RAW via a laptop on set with an external drive to record the footage...hmmm...and what would the image quality be like compared to the uncompressed. Hmm...think think think....
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Studio Daily | The P2 Matrix - Navigating File-Based Workflow:
The presentation at the Lounge was short on details, but here's a cribsheet on what to expect from the HPX3000.
-2 million pixel progressive image block
-Using the AVC-Intra codec, get a 10-bit image at full 1920x1080 resolution, not 1440x1080
-Camera will be less than $50,000
-32 GB P2 cards will be 'about $1000' at year's end
-Because NLE support won't be ready at the camera's launch, Panasonic will provide tools that will decode 1920x1080 content and send it out via HD-SDI
-'By this time next year, there will be codec support in the edit packages ... and we're going to put that D-5 quality across FireWire.'"
The article then goes on to discuss some of the practical realities of P2 based workflow - backup, archiving, tracking that data, etc.
That is all REALLY good news. Although there is another camera within that price range that will record >10 bits @ >HD resolution that I'm KINDA interested in that I've been tracking...
More pics are here
Just got back from dropping off Dianne (aka Kitty) after attending the Grindhouse premiere here in Austin with Robert Rodriguez Quentin Tarantino, and I had a GREAT time.
The premiere was at The Paramount, the beautiful nearly century old grand theater of Austin on Congress Avenue - ALL the good premieres are here.
Things kicked off slowly - it was supposed to start around 7, it was nearly an hour later before Rodriguez and Tarantino took the stage and riled up the audience - he said that they'd been blown away by the audience reaction of execs and talent agents etc. in LA a couple of days before, but any self respecting Texan could kick the shit out of a talent agent...and the crowd goes wild....ah, the blatant local hook - works every time.
Speaking of Texas, this film is a big, fat sloppy wet kiss to Austin, the kind you give the boyfriend/girlfriend to be the first night you meet them after many beers and you're oh-so-happy to have met her/him. It's passionate as hell, even if the aim isn't quite accurate, it is the intent that counts.
I predict the Texas Chilli Parlour will never be the same, nor Guerro's. It's odd seeing all these places up on screen - I live walking distance from Guerro's, just ate there the other day. (The owners used to be neighbors of my parents, won't they be happy with this film). It was odd seeing my neighborhood up on screen - in one mundane shot when you see Kurt Russel's car lingering in the street, I laughed and nudged Kitty to point out the dry cleaners in the background - "Hey...." I said, "...my shirt's in there..."
Grindhouse, in case you've been hiding under a rock, is a big fat violent delicious mess of TWO movies. The first part is Terror Planet, and without going too much into it they have a complete blast with the whole "everybody's an infected zombie" thing. Tarantino cast himself in a part with the most appalling on-screen moment I can recall a director ever placing himself in - it just drips with ick-itude, you'll have to see it. His character is "Rapist 1" in the credits. Freddy Rodriguez puts himself on the map nicely, and the cast is chock full of name brand folks squeezed in all over the place - I won't spoil it for you. Rose McGowan, who in person is a tiny, exquisite delicate porcelain thing, has tremendous voluptous presence in the movie.
Rodriguez has been getting his action chops down better and better, but this film also scores big points for humor - there's some deliciously wonderful use of "Missing Reel" syndrome on purpose (as I mentioned in my Grindhouse 101 SXSW panel coverage the other week). He's intentionally digitally dirtied up the movie with scratches and blemishes as if it were an old print that's been through the ringer far too many times. But he shot this digitally, with the Panavision Genesis (he's been shooting 900/950 in the past) - and it doesn't really show - it's just "a movie" that you're watching. We're clearly well past the point where digitally shot is a detriment or concern of any real sort to 99.99% of the moviegoing public.
Rodriguez has added lots of humor, from sly to absurdist to gross-out, and it all works. The audience roared along with the film, thoroughly eating it up, and the ending was even more satisfying that I would have expected, yet still deliciously greasily cheesy within genre.
HEARTILY, HEARTILY RECOMMEND THIS FILM if you're a fan of going to see fun flicks. Not film, not cinema, not art, FLICKS.
The interstitial trailers are also a blast, with Eli Roth, Rob Zombie and others geting in on the action. It is interesting to see what got edited or covered up since the SXSW panel in Eli's - they covered up a few moments with "accidental" film glitches.
Tarantino then kicks into his part, Death Proof (which was shot on film) and he lingers on Austin even moreso than Rodriguez (who lives & shoots here). He sets major chunks of the movie in Guerro's and the Texas Chilli Parlour (both of which I drove past on the way home from the after party), and I kept having that odd deja vu moment seeing stuff a few blocks from my house up on screen (common for LA & NYC residents I'm sure).
Anyway, back to the film - after a normal, expected movie pace that builds to a peak early in the film, there' a lengthy expositional lull where four women characters (with Rosario Dawson included, sigh....) just hang out and talk FOREVER. They hang out, they drive, they go to check out a car and then mess around with it before the movie finally falls back into "Ok, where are they going with this? NOW I get it" mode. Then that lengthy slow interlude suddenly makes sense - Tarantino's been building up a currency, now he wants to spend it. I really enjoy that so much of what was interesting was NOT in the trailer for this part - kudos to the restraint of the boys on this.
The ending is also within genre but very satisfying in its simplicity and directness - the crowd went WILD for it.
See? No spoilers.
Afterwards, we hung out a bit out front then went over to The Belmont for the after party. Hanging out a bit out front, I saw Kurt Russell, Robert Rodriguez, Rose McGowan, and several other actors arrive from the film and took a few pics (see link at bottom of article for pics), but felt too dorky fanboy to hang outside with my pocketcam to take pictures "for my blog" (wouldn't YOU cringe saying that out loud?), so we went in and hung out a bit. I'd seen some of the Texas Roller Girls going from the movie over to the Belmont on roller skates down the street - whilst still in their nice evening dresses - a very Austin moment I have to say!
Ran into Matt Dentler and chatted about an Austin Film Society panel thing I'm going to be on in a few weeks, I'll have more to say once details are figured out. Saw some more folks I knew, but Dianne was cold and I hadn't eaten so we jetted - I'll maybe catch Robert's DP to talk to him about Red stuff soon.
OK, late and to bed, just wanted to give a quick note on it.
But the kids are going to EAT THIS UP. This is one of those rated R movies that all the 15 year olds are going to be just DYING to see. It's violent, it's gross, it's silly, it's WONDERFUL - like the greasy nachos Kurt Russell is eating in his first scene - it may not necessarily be good for you, but it's DAMN fine eatin'.
This is going to do JUST FINE in the theaters (Knocked Up is my other pick for a big success this year too).
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Marijn Eken was kind enough to send me a link and point out:
They support Cine RAW real-time de-Bayering through the GPU! Doesn't say what GPU you'd need as a minimum though. I'm guessing a Quadro FX4500 is no luxury.
I immediately thought of Red. It would be great if these guys would join forces, but then again, maybe Red already has a similar thing going on with Apple and their upcoming grading product?
I recently got a chance to sit in on set with a Phantom HD as it was tested locally, and its 1000 fps HD capability was only offset but the cumbersome nature of the UI and the post production process (I still have a hard drive of unconverted RAW footage to mess with, been too busy of late).
From Iridas' press release:
industry's first GPU-based Bayer interpolation technology, RAW footage can now be displayed and played back in real-time without requiring file conversion, providing a significant savings in time and storage requirements. Together with SpeedGrade .Look files, this allows for a complete data and color grading workflow which is only 1/3 the size of regular RGB file formats.
Support for the Cine RAW file format will be included in all 2007 FrameCycler and SpeedGrade applications, including SpeedGrade OnSet and SpeedGrade DI. See it at NAB April 16-19, 2007 in the Las Vegas Convention Center at the Vision Research booth C11426.
I'm looking forward to seeing that. I'm also curious what the max supported frame size will be for playback and at what frame rate? Can I watch Phantom HD footage play back at 24p? 30p? 60i on these systems?
What about for the Phantom 65 and its higher resolution capabilities?
This is all good news.
Marijn asks about Red and I don't know if they are in talks with Iridas, but I hope so. They do seem to have some kind of a relationship with Assimilate and their Scratch product - Lucas from Assimilate graded the footage shown at IBC, LA, NYC, etc.
I've sat down for Scratch demo and it was VERY impressive.
I saw an Iridas demo a few years ago, but I didn't know enough to evaluate it as well and I haven't seen it lately, but I've been eagerly anticipating their Mac based HD product which has not emerged yet AFAIK.
My vibe on Iridas is that they were first out of the gate with a viable, production worthy GPU based DI solution
UPDATE 4/10/07 - Lin from Iridas was kind enough to email me with some more info:
I just wanted to confirm that we can playback RAW 4K at 30+ fps with our preview setting, which is fine for playback.
4K is close to real time (20fps+) with our high quality setting which is adequate for final rendering.
2K of course is all real time as is ARRI D20 3K, even with the high quality debayer.
Oh, yes, and it’s Universal Binary Mac, PC and LINUX.
More at the show.
Thanks Lin! "The show" being NAB, next week.
Vendor feedback always appreciated.
Studio Daily | Astro Offers Uncompressed HD Recorder/Player
-will show at NAB booth C4934
-uncompressed HD recorder
-single or dual link
-4:2:2 40 minute record time
-4:4:4 20 minute record time
-recording to removable drive packs
-has fibre channel (2Gbit SFP), Firewire, video outputs for transfer (IN WHAT FORMATS!)
-RS422 for Sony compatible deck control functionality
-26 lbs, half rack wide, 19"
-can gang four together for 3840x2160
-16 channels of audio in/out
-DVI/HDMI output options
-all the "usual suspects" for HD frame size/rate (fractional/whole rates), no 720p24 mentioned specifically
PDF brochure here
Certainly sounds interesting! The capacity is a bit low for what I'd like to see, the size is reasonable, but the price is unknown.
Also unknown is whether the disk packs are fault tolerant or not (RAID 0 or 3/5?), and I'm especially curious what the native recording format is if we have FireWire & fibre channel options to access the data. Is it DPX? TIFF? Proprietary? What? Is there any metadata embedding? Clever audio in DPX header like RaveHD does?
Inquiring minds want to know, but will have to wait for NAB.
In the meantime, S.two already does all this.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Nice BusinessWeek article with Cameron talking about why performance capture and 3D will be Next Big Thing...hopefully.
He distinguishes between motion capture (mocap) and performance capture (perfcap), in that mocap only gets gross body movements, whereas perfcap can capture the subtle nuances of acting. Mocap is good for sports games, perfcap is good for acting performances.
Studio Daily | A Monster Digital Dailies Solution
This guy got VERY serious about capturing all possible metadata on set. This is a very Mike Curtis kind of a solution, but I don't know about the price point yet, so it may not be Indies viable. But he's ON IT in terms of getting the metadata that is so painful to recreate later (I know this from my own VFX artist background) - all your lens settings, f-stops, etc. besides picture/audio. They also are trying to integrate camera reports, script notes, all that stuff - why have 3 or 4 paper systems that get scattered to the wind? Put it all in one place please! I'm sure there are interoperability issues involved, but I like this idea.
Nicely done overview article on the state of HD. Some choice snippets:
The straight-talking Savides describes the situation bluntly: %u201CEverybody who%u2019s shooting this stuff is a guinea pig right now.%u201D
%u201CEverything is still R&D,%u201D he elaborates. %u201CI feel like these movies being made are just little experiments for the big conglomerate studios. They%u2019ll see what it%u2019s like, what%u2019s gonna happen, see the best way to handle it down the road.%u201D"
For Savides, meanwhile, “the benchmark is still film.”
the Viper setup used on Zodiac was structured around random access hard drive capture.
both the sound recording and the slate were integrated into the capture
the capture technician was also capable of offering the cinematographer a color-corrected demo of any given shot as it was being lit and photographed.
INCREDIBLY CRUCIAL OBSERVATION:
Savides was asked to create a series of templates such as Day Exterior, Night Exterior, Day Interior, Night Interior — which he refused to do. He explained, “I couldn’t look at them. I didn’t want the look-up tables to bias my eye. I wanted to work with a neutral slate, and that neutral slate had to be that RAW file. It’s the only way I could understand what I was doing everyday. The look-up table would slant you toward whatever you made that look like.” Furthermore, “there’s no way that you could generate a look-up table for every scene in a movie with the scope of Zodiac.”
While the Viper has a recommended ASA of 320, he admits, “You can’t rate it. I wasn’t using my meter after a while. I’d say it’s between 500 and 800. But you do it by eye.”
“The toe [the sensitivity to dim light] of the Viper is extraordinary,” he says. “Not as good as the toe in film, though some people will say it is. But it’s not. It will get noisy. It gets very noisy in fact. You cannot do a night interior of a room like you can in film.
....and on and on.
If you're thinking about shooting a movie digitally, this is an incredibly useful and informative article.
And keep in mind, this is working with top-end gear. As you work your way down the budget process, the problems that he describes get worse and worse in terms of image quality.
I like how the Panavision rep defends compressed workflows - not that he's wrong, but guess what - the Genesis works with a compressed workflow.
The author closes with a comment about how when it all gets figured out and standardized, things will get pretty boring. But that's why I like all this stuff so much - its in flux, it is constantly changing, there's constantly things going on.
I can barely just read everything new relevant each day, let alone do significant amounts of research to test the latest gear etc. - there's no way for any one individual to even keep up with everything that's new. So for working professionals to do so is impossible. And that's the niche I'm trying to carve out for myself - consider me your digital flux manager.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
OK, all you DPs (or DoPs if you're from across the pond) git yer propeller beanies twirlin'. Or it would, if your beret had one.
Gross stereotypes aside, the CML (Cinematographer's Mailing List) did a Great Thing recently - they got a bunch of the higher end cameras together and shot a bunch of test footage (kinda like the Texas HD Shootout I did last year with Adam Wilt, Omega and Chris Hurd, but with camera budget).
One of the first pieces of hard data to come out of that test was the grey card test to check exposure lattitude. Click on the chart on the page to see the chart and find out more, you'll need to read up on it a bit to get the context and understand what you're looking at if you aren't a DP nerd already (no offense intended, I'm a post nerd).
One piece of useful hard data they derived was the effective ISO settings of all these cameras.
Read on and enjoy!
And BIG PROPS to Geoff Boyle, Steve Shaw, and all the others who took the time to do all this useful testing for our benefit.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Studio Daily | IRIDAS Extends Capabilities of SpeedGrade OnSet:
The update includesa new matrix control allowing filmmakers to shift the color space they are working in so that it matches the sensor characteristics of various digital cameras. It adds up to a more accurate representation of the final output
against which artists can develop their creative looks.
The onset version is only $400. The haven't-seen-it-yet HD version I think was around $12,000-$13,000 US. The full film version is what, over $50K I believe?
In any case, an interesting tool, the idea being you can establish looks on set and hand those off to the colorist later. Guy working on Hills Have Eyes 2 said the colorist can work for 3 days with his settings before he even has to show up.
Interesting. Does it save time/money? Sounds plausible. Does it maintain the DoP's vision? Sounds like it may be a good tool for that. Is it feasible to, if not lock into that DI tool, at least be pretty strongly attached to it that early in the production process? That's got to be carefully answered - get all ducks in a row before shooting...
UPDATE - not necessarily so - you can export your 3D LUTs to LUTher box etc. - read Jason's Comment using link below...
Saturday, February 24, 2007
This guy did a bunch of testing with the Arri D20. He's got uncompressed DPX files, screen grabs of the waveforms, a diagram of his workflow, all that kind of stuff. Turns out the red channel was noisy beyond spec, but other than that the data is solid.
I've yet to sift through it myself.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Studio Daily | Panasonic Announces $14,000 2/3-Inch P2 Camcorder, Ups Cards to 16 GB
Goodies galore! First up, a new 2/3" $14,000 camera, the HPX500. Key features:
-3 CCDs, 2/3" each
-upgraded (sounds like pixelshift) version of SDX900 (which is a 16:9 SD camera)
-interchangeable B4 mount lenses
-variable frame rates from 12-60fps
-available in May
-$14,000, including viewfinder (but no lens I'd imagine?)
-P2 based, 4 P2 slots
-16GB P2 cards will ship in May, price TBA, 32GB by year end
-1080i60, 50i, 30p, 25p, 24p, 720p60/50/30/25/24
-4 XLR audio inputs
-8 gamma modes, CA compensation function
New P2 deck: "P2 Gear" - AG-HPG10
-record or play back P2 media
-IEEE 1394 & USB 2.0 interfaces
-$3995, shipping August
-AVC-Intra codec in August for the HPX2000 with 32GB cards
another camera, the AK-HC3500, is 2/3", 2.2MP 3CCD camera for studio/EFP usage, native 1080i sensor, late summer, price TBA
and a viewfinder/monitor, 800x450 pixels, BT-LH80W
Monday, February 12, 2007
Abel Cine Tech - Phantom High Speed Digital Cameras
Abel Cine is now renting these cameras out.
-up to 1000 fps at that size
-at true 2K (2048x1556), can do 700 fps
-4096x2440 up to 120 fps
-imaging area equivalent to 65mm film (wow)
I wanted some more info, so I had an email exchange with Mitch Gross of Able Cine Techwho answered some questions for me:
Q: ...so are they done yet, out, available?
A: The "First-gen" cameras are done, which have been selling and renting because demand is so high. These were really Beta units, but when clients line up with cash, whaddya gonna do? The "production models" will debut at NAB. Lovely machines.
Q: What rental rates?
A: Currently available from Abel Cine Tech. And up on our website soon if not already. The Phantom HD comes in 35mm PL mount with 16G of internal RAM, a color viewfinder, a laptop engineering computer (the camera controller, for the moment), a pair of 24v block batteries, and a sliding baseplate. All for only $2,000/day. The Phantom 65 is the same but offers a Mamiya large format lens mount (and soon Super-PL) and is $2750/day.
We also require a skilled engineer who has trained on the Phantom camera systems to run the unit. There are a few out there, and we offer training courses. If the client wishes to hire one of our engineers the charge is $750/10hr. day, New york or LA local.
Q: What lens mounts?
A: Phantom HD is PL, Phantom 65 is currently Mamiya large format and soon Super-PL. That's for rentals. If you wish to buy a camera then you can certainly get a special order mount.
Q: Sample frames available somewhere?
A: Soon on our website. Come visit our NAB booth and create your own!
Q: Anything else?
A: Just wait to you see the quality of the images. Really stunning, cinematic stuff. The images from the Phantom 65 are breathtaking.
And read into our info about the upcoming Flashmags. How does 75 minutes of 2Kx2K recording ONBOARD with no moving parts in about the size of a VHS tape? 20 minutes on the Phantom 65. That's going to turn the industry on it's head.
Oh yeah, and the camera is just as impressive at 24p as it is at 1000.
So that boils down to about $2750/10 hour day for camera & tech, NOT including lenses for the HD model that can shoot up to 1000 fps at 1080p, or $3500/day for a 4K camera (up to 120fps) with tech.
If you need high speed shots, and want to be able to check it right there on set to see if you got it, this looks like a promising option to consider, just fly it in the day/s you need. There are a couple of other high speed cameras out there, but AFAIK Phantom is taking a leading position in terms of frame size, bit depth, and frame rate (if you know better/otherwise, please let me know and I'll amend).
I saw some sample footage at NAB, and there ain't nothin' like true ultra high speed.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
...now offering new Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) offline-to-online interchange tools to streamline the process of moving related metadata from Avid Xpress Pro and Avid Media Composer Adrenaline NLE systems to its own eQ and iQ Post and DI systems.
"OK..." you say, "WTF does AAF eQ & iQ mean?"
It means that more of the stuff you set up in your Avid offline edit - things like " effects transitions, complex effects descriptors, audio splits and fades, time-stretch commands, layer event timings and layer priority data" - which means that more of the stuff that you do in your offline CAN potentially survive into your online, automatically carried over without having to do a ton of extra work.
The more I learn about post workflow options, the more little places get in the game that can affect what toolsets are worth considering. Even then, there can be conflicting advice. For instance - lets say you shot your indie masterpiece on Viper (recording however), then edited on Avid.
The DP might be steering you towards the post house with an Iridas color correction solution, because he can load in the looks he made on set and work from there - a definite time saver.
But the editor may be pushing for the house with the Quantel system, because all of his retimed shots and transitions and audio splits and whatnot would carry over automatically.
Which to pick?
Yet more things to think about...