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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.
Monday, August 13, 2007
So way back in in 2005, I got an email from John August, screenwriter of Go, Big Fish, Charlie's Angels, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, yadda yadda.
He was looking to make a movie of his own, but wanted to keep costs contained, and keep the workflow flexible - so that if he wanted the option to do it as small as finishing inhouse, it would be possible, but also be able to scale it up to big dollar, high quality post facility workflows as well. He's a talented screenwriter, but also a techie/propellerhead type, and contacted me to discuss workflow for his proposed film.
Lately he's been putting up a lot of details about how the film was made, and there is LOTS of very useful info in this. One nice bit about all this is that he's an experienced professional, yet shares his info like most professionals don't bother to. Much appreciated.
Lets start with the techie nitty gritty about the production and post on his film, The Nines (for context, here's the trailer and the one-sheet , and it is showing at the Nuart on the 31st)
johnaugust.com � Technical details on The Nines:
For Part One, my hope was to shoot HD. Even as I was finishing the script, I’d begun a conversation with Mike Curtis at HD for Indies about the potentials and pitfalls of various cameras and workflows. In case you ever doubt my the extent of my geekery, check out the four pages of flowcharts I made to map out the process we came up with: nines_workflow.pdf.
Mike was a big help in letting me talk through, and think through, my goals and priorities in the technical details of shooting movie. But how much of his advice did we end up using? Almost none.1 As it turned out, we didn’t shoot HD at all.
I really thought we would. But our d.p., Nancy Schreiber, quickly convinced me otherwise. She’s no Luddite — she’s won awards for her digitally-shot features. But when she visited our main location, with its vast expanses of glass, she made it clear that any savings we would have gained from shooting on HD would be lost by the extra time and expense it would take to control the light.
So out went the plan for tethered cameras and hard drives. Instead, we shot two sizes of film, and standard-def video.
Pardon my long quoting from his blog, but this makes a really good point - just because one team member makes a recommendation for some plausible sounding reasons* doesn't mean that you should stick to it. I'd recommended a particular setup for a particular set of needs and budget constraints, but I wasn't there to scout the location. I heard "indoors" and PRESUMED that lighting would be controllable environment. Nancy, the DP (whom I never had the pleasure to meet), scouted the location, saw all the big windows, and nixed my suggestion as ill-advised since I didn't know all the facts. This is a great example of the kind of collaboration required from a team. The producer would now need to get involved to help chug, quantify, and vote up/down on the potential cost changes for this kind of format change.
* (my suggestion at the time was to shoot tethered uncompressed HD to disk for higher quality, lower cost than HDCAM in a controlled, indoor environment not requiring a lot of camera movement with good power and space facilities nearby for an edit/capture room. He mentioned windows, but I figured some netting/flagging could address without seeing the location. Wrong! This experience, and similar ones, has led me to change my methodologies to recommend including the DP as early as possible in these "what are we shooting on" conversations with director/producer/filmmakers.)
Read on about how they shot Super-16 for part one (and why that was such a good idea, but the caveats involved), SDX-900 for part 2 (16:9 DVCPRO50 24p), and 3 perf 35mm for part three.
They wanted three different stories, three different looks. In our original early conversations, HD was going to be used for all three sections, and do check out that workflow PDF of the original-but-ditched plan - there was going to be a mix of F900 (or Varicam, budget depending) recorded tethered uncompressed directly into Final Cut Pro, then part 2 would have been Varicam or HVX200 (at the time John wanted a small camera that people wouldn't think much of on the street to be noticed), and part three I'd said defintely go film, 3 perf 35mm being my suggestion at the time as film was the only suitable recording media to deal with dappled sunlight in the woods and not get blown highlights and toasted shadows, as that would represent an extreme challenge to any media in terms of exposure lattitude.
In the end, Super-16, SDX-900 (standard def 24p), and 3 perf 35mm were used - so only part of my original suggestion was implemented.
This also points out that HD is not the best solution for everything, as Nancy said, in terms of overall budget, HD wouldn't give as good a result as 16mm.
I'd originally been suggesting, since John was a Final Cut Pro fan, and wanted the option to be able to do all the post inhouse if necessary, that shooting all these formats and converting to DVCPRO HD 720p23.976 would be the ideal way to get a decent quality rough HD edit done, and still be able to relink or uprez to 1080p for the mastering final - all within the same system. AND be able to screen decent looking HD during the process - storage is CHEAP these days, not at all the hindrance it was 5-10 years ago.
Besides the format changes, his award winning editor used Avid - so FCP was out the window at that point. But one interesting thing they did - all footage was transferred to HDCAM...and that became their master they worked from - NO matchback to negative to cut. They rented HDCAM decks (I presume the lowest cost J-H3 deck), and all footage was transferred from there. No going back to original source tapes, the color timed HDCAM was IT. Read on for why they did it, they had some good reasons but a few snags (shoulda gone 23.976, not 24.0 fps). D-5 would have been preferable, but at the time it appears it may have been a budget decision - D-5 is a MUCH more expensive deck, and there is no inexpensive capture deck available for that format as there is for HDCAM.
I'm proud that the "master from source digital" idea stuck from the beginning - it isn't the highest possible quality route, but in terms of quality per dollar, it is a helluva way to go. Our original intent had been to master from FCP (see the PDF again) from uncompressed or converted media, which wasn't feasible with the new workflow on the different system used, but their budget and confidence grew as they moved along and they had it all worked out. One thing I'd like about the FCP route was that it offered graceful scaling and degradation - if they'd needed to stay lower budget and finish inhouse, they could have. If they had the option to do a higher quality finish, they could "get there from here." The Avid route they went with worked, and worked well for them, but if they'd been budget constrained they would have run into some issues and problems doing a high quality finish on the system they could afford. Then again, their editor was an Avid guy, and an excellent editor, so that pretty much trumps a lot of decisions. Plus, higher end facilities tend to prefer to work with Avid for project hand-off - it is what they are used to. Avid can be limiting in some ways, but at least it limits you to the more viable choices. FCP offers tons of flexibility, including some options Avid doesn't offer, but it will let you make decisions that may bite you later moreso than Avid will, as a general rule of thumb.
As I usually recommend to festival bound clients, I say be READY to go out to film, but DON'T go out to film until you've already got your distribution deal signed. And at that point, what quality of DI, whether you go back to source film (if shot on film) for a re-transfer to better tape stock or scans; who pays for how much of what part of the process, what the budget is, etc. is all part of the discussion with the distribution company...to be determined LATER. If you have a budget of $500K, do you REALLY want to spend 10-15% of your budget going out to film, when considering that there were about 4000 films (of all lengths and types) submitted to Sundance, and perhaps 2-3 were actually "discovered" and bought at Sundance proper at BEST? From a business perspective, that is a poor use of your money.
Interesting to note, bit-head that John is, that he prefers the digital projection to the film (but he explains and gives caveats as to that answer).
johnaugust.com � Location scouting vs. reality
John finds some old locations scouting videos he took (and posts them!), discusses why videotaping is SOOOO much better than just snapping stills for location scouting, and has sample stills from the finished movie from those same locations to compare them to. Gold!
He mentions what a difference a professional DP, good lighting, good color grading (and not stated but implied a good camera, such as 35mm film) makes when you compare the scouting footage to the stills from the movie.
Not stated but should be pointed out - this is EXACTLY WHY amateurishly shot, poorly lit, non-color corrected, shot on cheapie camera indie movies look like ass and nobody wants to watch them. Same place, different talents used, different tools - ALL the difference.
He also points out how LONG it took to find & secure these locations - there is SO much prep work to be done to shoot a film properly.
John states he'll always video for location scouting from now on, you can tell so much more than from stills. Makes me think about how to best communicate with rest of staff/crew - IF (BIG if) you could quickly make a DVD or website (I'm thinking of iMovie/iDVD/iWeb type stuff as I just got the new versions, or Adobe CS3's ability to make a website from an Encore DVD project), wouldn't that be darn useful? But all contingent on how quick/easy to make and distribute and access that kind of info - and who has the technical chops to do it.
johnaugust.com � Three from The Nines - shows compression examples on YouTube -
"In preparation for the trailer competition, I wanted to see how footage from the movie would hold up when subjected to the Flash compression of YouTube and the other video-sharing sites. So I uploaded three clips in various formats to experiment.
The results? Two clips look surprisingly great. The third looks like ass."
He then explains why. Read on.
Other stuff about John and the movie I found researching:
johnaugust.com � The Nines goes to Venice
Out of Africa | Exclusive | Advocate.com John goes to Malawi to paint an orphanage.
Guest blogger John August on publicity shots | Popwatch | Blog | Movies | Music | TV: Entertainment Weekly John talks about families and privacy
John is a smart, interesting, motivated, good hearted guy. I hope I get the chance to work with him (and more folks like him) again in the future - and I can't wait to see the final result for myself, I was unable to get into a screening of The Nines at Sundance while I was there.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
We'd prepped for the panel pretty well - we emailed in advance, had a nice conference call earlier in the week, and had an excellent dinner the night before to chew the fat on all things movie-making. While we touched on technology from time to time (Avid vs. FCP, Red's significance, etc.), I was delighted that the conversation stayed more high-level, less techie nitty gritty.
I very much liked that we cover a nice range of aspects of the industry between the three of us - John does pretty high level post (high end HD work for features budgeted from 6-7 figures), Norman teaches editing at USC with more emphasis on the craft, not the tech end, and I of course obsess on the tech end and leave the creative stuff mostly to other folks.
I plan on looping back and embellishing this substantially, but at least here's the Top Ten we came up with, this from Amy Peterson's (of Avid) notes from our conference call:
1) Putting together the right team. Be sure you have the right members involved at the right time. For instance, the editor should be involved in pre-production and the producer should be involved in post. This was a far flung and all encompasing topic - this also included getting the right team that knew the nitty gritty of their jobs and would see to all the granular implementation details to make sure stuff went right. By default, the right team will include folks to steer you clear of certain pitfalls, warn you of expensive or limiting choices, and be able to think on their feet when contingencies are needed to be invented on the spot.
2) Work backwards and know what you want to deliver before you start shooting. Plan your post workflow (i.e. deliver on film? HD?). I say this all the time to clients when they start asking about what to shoot on - I say STOP - what do you want to end up with at the end of the day? Work from there.
3) In pre-production know what budget is for post and stick to it! Perhaps even account for more $$ in POST. Many producers end up spending 3x the money in post because they didn’t plan accordingly.
This folds into a saying I've come up with - "Most indies would rather save a nickel on Friday that costs the $20 on Monday...and even if they knew they were doing it, many still would, because they didn't have the nickel on Friday."
(mention turd polishing vs. refinement and dollars on the screen)
4) Don’t just try to piece the workflow together. Make sure your NLE supports your camera and the formats that you are shooting in. Be sure that your offline edit will seamless make it to the online. Know how to get final product out of the system. This one was all me - for a good example, see the post from a couple of days ago about Pull Trigger, Then Aim (link to follow).
5) Have a realistic schedule from the get go. Based on your budget – know how many days you will need to shoot, weeks you’ll need to edit, etc. Many have unrealistic post schedules. As an add-on to that, just because you only have enough money for a 6 not 12 week creative edit DOES NOT MEAN that you'll get it done in that timeframe.
6) With so many choices – be smart about what you choose for technology, talent, location, etc. Overprepare and execute. Small projects can take the same or more amount of prep as larger projects. Small budget = use every penny wisely.
7) Know your story! If changes need to be made – make them on set, not in post. Plot point vs character point. If the story isn’t coming together based on the shots – it can cause 2-3x increase in post production.
8) Producers need a better grasp on the distribution process – particularly for indie film. Understand the requirements that distributors have. Avoid getting a 20 page document after QC of what needs to be “fixed” before the film is ready for distribution.
9) Understand how to appeal to distributors. It’s always about the best story. Know whether to spend funds on name power vs. technology. Discern hype from reality – when It comes to vendor marketing. Know how to get your “name” out there.
10) No role is unimportant in indie film. Even if tools have a color application – you still need a “real” colorist to do the job. Best use what tools you have (media management.)
The 5-3-1 thing - 5 choices to start with, pick one, narrows to 3, by the time you get to post, there's only 1 option left, and it is of course the most expensive/painful/time consuming. So know how you are limiting your choices each time you commit to a decision. Such as, if you are shooting film, you've committed yourself to development, telecine, etc. costs.
I told the folks who attended I'd post at least this much today, I'll come back and embellish further later - I just got home from Dallas and need to catch up on some stuff. Keep checking this article, it'll definitely grow.
One thing in particular that caught my attention was the focus that John put on deliverables for distribution - my working theory had been more about getting a good HD master for festival submission, but John pointed out that since the end goal is to get acquired, at that point you need deliverables. And HD/SD, 16:9 & 4:3, pan & scan, NTSC & PAL, etc. are all common requirements. Having your M&E separated from the dialog tracks so you can easily dub, stuff like that. I asked him to write up something more about it, hopefully he'll have the chance soon and I'll gladly run it in full on here once I get it.
PS - Norman blogged on this panel too.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Hey all -
Panasonic has released a Mac version of their P2 browser software. It lets you display, ingest, search, categorize, display/edit properties, view/play back, add text or voice memo, export, back up, archive, and restore footage.
Along the lines of yesterday's post about having proper versions, it requires OS X 10.4.10 and QT 7.1.6 (but NOT 7.2, is incompatible at present!).
More info on this page as well.
Download Mac version with this, manual here.
And its free!
ps - thanks to those who sent in the link!
They were having trouble with their P2 import from their HVX200 - they could play back their clips on camera (verifying the clips were good, thank goodness), but when they tried to import, they got white frames and no audio. As I started through my litany of questions to verify the back story on what they had (they said they were running Final Cut on a just-purchased MacBook Pro), my Spidey Sense starts tingling - turns out they're running FCP 5.1.1 on OS X 10.4.10 (with an unknown version of QT as well, he couldn't check at the time). So right there that was a clue - he was running a version that wasn't as up-to-date as he could make it. FCP 5.1.x can be updated to 5.1.4 via Software Update for free, so I suggested he start there. I couldn't recall exactly what was supported when, so I did a little digging and found this bon mot -
Bring HVX200 P2 Clips into FCP via the FireStore FS-100 | Studio Monthly: "As of this writing, the P2 formats DVCPRO HD 1080/24P and 1080/30P are not yet natively supported in FCP 5.1.1."
A-ha - I'd also not thought to ask him what res/frame rate he was capturing, but I DID know that 5.1.4 would fully support any mode he could shoot on that camera.
Lesson to Learn
This client was in a hurry and had to travel on short notice, which made it difficult to do the right thing - ALWAYS research to make sure what version of the OS & your NLE (or QuickTime if on Mac) are appropriate to match together. With older NLE software, there can be a target range - not too old, not too new - that will be the correct, properly functioning match for your system. For instance, BlackMagic used to recommend a particular version of OS, QuickTime, FCP, and their drivers if you were using FCP 4.5 - not to update beyond what was it? I think 10.3.8 or somesuch (DON'T quote or depend on me for that number, just for example here!).
For latest NLE software, check to make sure you have the minimum recommended version (FCP 6.0 required at LEAST 10.4.9 and QT 7.1.6), but don't assume the latest is the best - some percentage of the time there may be a bug that requires a .0.x type of an upgrade to fix. So not too old, not too new - like Goldilock's porridge, you want Just Right.
Most editors know this, but field production folks having to deal with FCP on a laptop in the field for review purposes may not.
Other lesson to learn - ALWAYS have your post workflow figured out days in advance before travel - so if there is an issue, you have time to resolve it - requiring analysis, implementation, and verification testing that the fix does in fact work. Your production may depend on it - so it is worth the time to take.
Remember - as an indie, you have more time than money. But time is your least controllable asset when deadlines are looming - so as an indie, you need to spend MORE time prepping and verifying stuff like this, since you can't throw money at the problem to solve it.
These folks leaped before they looked - or put another way, pulled trigger, then aimed by going to the remote location without a solution.
I'm picking on them a bit here to make a point - in truth, they WERE trying to solve it before they left, but didn't manage to until they were on location - meaning they had fewer resources to try to solve their problems in the field than if they were at home. There was a point in the conversation when I was saying as a fallback they could reinstall the OS if all else failed - but they couldn't since all that stuff was back at home.
Which is why when I travel, I make a point of having a Commando Kit with me - enough stuff to rebuild a hard drive etc. from the ground up, including OS, NLE, compositing apps and all the standalone updates, all COPIES of original installers, not the original discs themselves - my old joke was air drop me into Somalia with a Commando Kit and some new Macs in boxes and I'll have a studio up and running by the end of the day - hopefully I'll never have to actually do that.
Which is also why my durn backpack is so heavy when you see me at tradeshows - I carry lots of junk, but I ALWAYS have That Cable Just In Case.
UPDATE - they were also having trouble with the record times on their 16GB P2 cards (and don't forget, as earlier reported, that you need to update the firmware in your camera to work with the newer bigger P2 cards!). At first I thought it was a firmware issue, then digging deeper, turns out they were recording to 720p mode, not 720pN. 720p mode records 720p24 as 720p60 with 2:3:3:2 cadence (or similar, don't recall whether that or 2:3:2:3, but the point is that it takes up more space recording 60fps not 24fps).
As always, research and test everything before arriving on set!
It's called prep, people.
Short for "preparation."
Don't forget that "pre" means "in front of" or "before."
Time on set is your most valuable asset, especially if you're in a remote location. Where do you want to be figuring out technical problems - while that perfect sunset is ending at your exotic and pricey location, or two weeks before at home while idling watching a DVD and having a tasty beverage?
A few extra days gear rental can be invaluable to be ready to roll perfectly. Think of it like combat - when the enemy comes over the hill, do you want to be reading the manual on your rifle, saying to your seargeant "Hang on, I'll be ready in 5 minutes." *
* OK in our current climate I'm reluctant to use a war analogy as I'm against that sort of thing, but this does make the point.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
The Mac Pro RAID card offers improved performance and data protection to your Mac Pro system — up to 304MB/s of sequential read performance in RAID 0. Ideal for video and creative professionals with demanding storage needs as well as for tower server applications, this hardware RAID option supports RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 0+1, and Enhanced JBOD. It has 256MB of cache and an integrated 72-hour battery for protecting the RAID cache. The card occupies the top PCI Express slot (slot 4) and connects to the four internal drive bays.
To enable your Mac Pro for hardware RAID, select the Mac Pro RAID card option and two or more hard drives in bays 1 through 4. Each RAID level has minimum requirements for the number of hard drives:
RAID Level Drive Requirements Benefit
Enhanced JBOD One to four drives A non-RAID configuration with the ability to migrate to a RAID set at any time
RAID 0 (striping) Two to four hard drives Maximum performance and capacity for the most demanding I/O requirements
RAID 1 (mirroring) Two hard drives Maximum protection for critical data
RAID 5 Three or four hard drives Data protection, up to 199MB/s of sequential read performance, and efficient capacity utilization
RAID 0+1 Four hard drives A mirror of striped drive pairs providing performance and data protection
The Mac Pro RAID card supports the creation of multiple RAID sets in a system and multiple volumes per RAID set. For optimal disk utilization in a RAID set, all hard drives should be the same size. Your Mac Pro system ships with each hard drive individually configured in the Enhanced JBOD level with Mac OS X installed on the drive in bay 1. Using Apple's RAID Utility software, you can migrate the drives into a RAID set without reinstalling Mac OS X or reformatting the drives, or you can customize your RAID volumes to meet your exact requirements.
Please note: The Mac Pro RAID card occupies one of the available PCI Express expansion slots.
Key thing of note - 199 MB/sec read speeds under RAID 5. Magic number for uncompressed 1080i60 10 bit 4:2:2 video: 200 MB/sec is the usual recommended number. For 1080p24 10b444 RGB: about 230-240 MB/sec. Whither write speed, Apple? Write speed is almost always slower in RAID 5 than read speed, so if read is about 200, and that's the minimum for uncompressed HD, where's the write speed? It is probably lower, and that's a bummer.
Also, that 199 MB/sec - will it hold that through the capacity of the array, or slow down as the drives get full...like most other storage? Remains to be seen.
More later, I'm testing an Octo Mac with a Highpoint 2322 RAID 5 right now, and it works pretty darn well....
There's new versions of iWork, now with a spreadsheet, and iLife, now organizing stuff by Events and yielding TONS more storage space for .Mac accounts (with my 2GB bumped to 20GB, and those who paid for 4GB bumped to 30GB). That's now enough space to back up all my photos...I THINK (double check).
iPhone output is mentioned in iMovie, and you can now FINALLY store all our video in one place in iMovie, organized by Events. Gotta read more, but I'll pick it up at a store ASAP to doodle with. I hope it has improved multi-machine sync capabilities as well...but I doubt it.
-no native support - only transcoding
-no DVD based
-Sony/Panasonic hard drive based supported ONLY
-transcoding to Pro Res is Mac Pro only
-AIC only option on others, and even then some minimum hardware requirements
...so if you are thinking you want to take advantage of the latest/greatest tech by transcoding to ProRes....you'll have to have a Mac Pro. And your AVCHD camera better say Sony or Panasonic on the side, AND better be hard drive not DVD based.
As always, research your solutions carefully.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
An Update on the Academy Image Interchange Framework
The status of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ image
interchange project describing a color-managed framework for digital
motion picture images.
On Tuesday August 7, 2007 from 2PM – 4PM at the Omni Hotel in San Diego,
CA, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Science and
Technology Council will deliver an update on its project to develop a
color-managed framework for production, post-production, and archiving
of digital motion pictures.
The presentation will provide an overview of the proposed framework,
best practices for digital encoding of color from film negatives, key
image transforms, considerations in the choice of color encoding methods
and metrics, and a description of a tone rendering algorithm for film
style images. A preliminary workflow example, implemented using OpenEXR
and CTL (the Color Transformation Language), will be discussed in
All those involved in any aspect of digital motion picture production
are encouraged to attend to learn more about the work of this Academy
Date: August 7, 2007
Time: 2PM – 4PM (PDT)
Location: San Diego Omni Hotel - Salons A & B
675 L Street
San Diego, California 92101
Friday, July 06, 2007
Similar to Geoff Frost's post on HVX200 production tips, my other intern, Andy Nelson, has been doodling around with a Canon HV20, and I asked him to post his notes on his experiences with the HV20. Below is his article on dealing with 24p. BTW - if looking to figure out how to get optimal results out of the HV20, FreshDV's interview with Bruce Allen (he of recent Cinegear report) has some EXCELLENT specific details on hands on usage and testing on how to get the most out of the HV20.
This is thematically similar to Steve Mullen's recent piece on dealing with the V1's 24p in Final Cut Pro
More coverage to follow on that, but here's Andy's report on the HV20 and 24p, my comments in italics:
For a thousand bucks the Canon HV20 isn’t a bad little camera, especially after putting some work into getting 24P from it. The HV20 uses HDV, so it only records 60i to tape and adds 3:2 pulldown for its 24fps mode. You can, however, acheive some pretty good results with a reverse telecine to remove the pulldown for full-on progressive beauty. To do this I began by capturing with the Apple Intermediate Codec, as to bypass the temporal compression of MPEG2 that comes with native HDV, and then went two routes for the reverse telecine…(Mike comment - the MPEG-2 compression is from the source HDV, by transcoding to AIC, FCP can process that footage faster, and your recompression/generational losses will be less. This was with FCP 6 not 5.x, BTW)
The Hard Way:
The first way I did this was using Cinema Tools (After Effects or something like JES Deinterlacer will also work ...but using After Effects, with its RGB processing, can clip superwhite and sub-black values - mike). After opening my clip in Cinema Tools, I used the Reverse Telecine button at the bottom of the window. Cinema Tools does not do a “smart” reverse telecine, you have to tell it where to start and what to do. 3:2 pulldown puts the 24P footage down as 60i on tape in a pppii cadence, p for progressive frames and i for interlaced (three progressive and two interlaced, hence 3:2). Essentially, you must tell Cinema Tools what frame of this cadence you are starting with. The button brings up a window with options for Capture Mode, Fields, File, and Frames. It is quite a process to determine the Capture Mode and Fields options, while File and Frames are rather straightforward. This diagram from the Cinema Tools manual was helpful...
Capture Mode has to do with the repeating frame sequence of the clip. I used “Field 1 – Field 2,” which means that my footage contains both fields with Field 1 Dominance, as opposed to the other options: Field 2 Dominance, Field 1 Only, or Field 2 Only.
So if you've been using the HV20 below its full potential--or thinking about how this little camera stacks up, Compressor 3 can give you nice 24P very easily.
Also, if you want to go the extra step and add some shallow depth of field, check out the lens adapter rigs below....
PROLOST - Redrock Gets It
PROLOST - Gold Rims On the Hoopty
PROLOST - TurboHoopty2000
Mike's follow up questions - I'd want to do further testing to absolutely verify that Compressor is figuring out cadence changes within a single captured clip (which could include lots of starts and stops, and stops could be almost anywhere in the cadence process). I'd like to verify whether >100 IRE values do or don't get clipped in this process, and if they do, what steps can be taken to preserve them.
Andy's follow up answers - This article on 24P HDV and ProRes from Tim Wilson at Creative Cow has some more info on Compressor's "smart" reverse telecine. He's done at least 20 tests the same way with successful results. I did run another test using footage with very bright whites and as far as IRE values greater than 100 go, they DO get clipped in this process. The workaround, as described in Stu Maschwitz's DV Rebel's Guide, is fairly simple; lower the opacity of the clip to around 90% (or check the scopes until you're under 100) and make sure to go into FCP's clip settings and under "Video Processing" select "Render all YUV material in high-precision YUV" as to not lose image quality while darkening your video.
Mike's continuation of that - ...and then export that in some high quality codec, preferably 10 bit, such as Apple Uncompressed 10 bit 4:2:2 or ProResHQ - THEN process via Compressor, THEN bring the levels back in FCP when you color correct (or maybe in Color - I need to check that round trip workflow to see if superwhites and sub-blacks are maintained).
-andy & mike
SATURDAY UPDATE - a commenter mentioned the 3:2 pulldown removal capabilities of Cineform, and I recalled they could do it and do it well, so I emailed David Newman:
This blog post was mostly letting my intern explore and commenting on it a bit more - do you have a specific page that outlines the 24p extraction goodness? And for working with HDMI and HD-SDI sources as well for "live" capturing and how it does that?
We do have a technote on the subject : http://www.cineform.com/products/TechNotes/InverseTelecine.htm
All our PC products now support live capture and pulldown removal from Intensity, Decklink or AJA Xena in real-time.
The pulldown extraction is not dependent on repeat flags, as it is an image analysis technique that works on all telecined sources, however they are encoded. We originally developed this for the HDSDI output from the Canon XL-H1, since then Wafian uses it, Mircosoft uses it for ingest all the HD materials of Xbox Live, and now it works very well for HDMI sources.
Real-time removal of telecine is helpful is several ways. It can save a compression generation, while not a big issue for CineForm, capturing to 60i then converting to 24p, is a lot of encoding and decoding before the edit. Also with live pull-down removal, compression is easier, takes less CPU and produces significantly small files at higher quality.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
(I dedicate this post to all the HVX users waiting on their free P2 cards)
Anyone who owns an HVX can feel timid with the first experience with their camera. Yes, I am one of the many who purchased the camera back in March thinking I would be shooting and editing projects in the weeks to come. Wrong.
Up until March 31st, Panasonic had a great offer: buy the camera, and you receive a free 8gig P2 card. Estimated delivery time: 4-6 weeks. It's been ten weeks and counting and still no P2 card. I received a letter from them explaining that the 8gig cards reached full production and they would be replacing them with 16gig cards. AWESOME! Right? Wrong.
As the 11th week has approached, I've completed two projects, both of which have not been shot on my own personal P2 card. I've had to rent P2 cards numerous times (4gig = $25/day, 8gig = $60/day from local vendors... it adds up) and have been lucky enough to have a friend lend me his 4gig card for the longer shoot.
I browse the forums at dvxuser.com and see numerous people complaining on why they haven't received their cards yet. I'm a pretty patient person, but going on three months is pretty long. Imagine if PEZ had a shortage of candy and all you could do was click the head back and forth all day long.
I have a $5000 camera and am always anxious to shoot HD, but wait, I could shoot DVCPRO 50 with the same color sampling and lesser compression without the P2 card. Wait, no I can't... you can only shoot DVCPRO 50 on the P2 card. So that leaves me with a mini DV tape shooting SD for the last three months on a $5000 camera. NOT COOL!
Prepping the HVX for a 16gig card
If you have an HVX and are planning on getting a 16gig P2 card, you must download the proper firmware update from Panasonic. Here are the links to the Firmware Update and the .pdf instructions to update your camera.
Note: You also need a SD Card (64MB or higher) to upload the update on it. You can buy a USB Adapter for the SD Card to put the files from your computer to the card. You then put the SD Card back into the HVX and follow the instructions on the .pdf.
Also, if you have a PCMCIA slot on your computer, such as a Powerbook, you need to download this driver to update your computer so it can read the card:
Panasonic Support page
You definitely need more than one P2 card when you're shooting. There's a reason for two P2 card slots on the camera, so take full advantage of them. One 4gig just doesn't cut it. I bet an 8 gig would be great, 16gig would be awesome, but here are the downsides...
On a 4gig card, you can shoot about 8 minutes of 720p/24pN (Native mode~literally 24 progressive frames/sec). It sounds like a lot, but when you're shooting it goes by in a flash... The positive side is that after you copy the contents of the P2 card onto your laptop/hard drive/etc... you need to have someone archiving the folder on a DVD using a DVD burner. It's really the only way I feel safe with my footage- I have a physical form of footage rather than just data on a computer.
15" and 17" Powerbooks
These are the only two Mac laptops that can read the P2 cards directly from the PCMCIA slot.
First thing learned: ALWAYS HAVE A PERSON ON SET TO DUMP THE P2 FOOTAGE... a.k.a. P2 WRANGLER. I can't stress this enough.
The drives on the 15" and 17" Powerbooks are either a combo-drive or super-drive. The super-drives can only single-layer burners, so if working with 8gig cards you would need to purchase an external dual-layer DVD burner (Mike note - a quick search didn't indicate that Apple made a G4 based Powerbook with a dual layer burner - are we wrong? Was there one?). The downside to the 16gig P2 card is that you can't fit its entire contents on a single DVD (mikenote - thus losing the 1-to-1, P2-to-burned-disc ratio which keeps life simpler). So how do you transfer/back-up your footage?
UPDATE - Mike here - we forgot to include the Duel Systems Adapters - an ExpressCard to PCMCIA adaptor that lets you use MacBook Pro computers (MacBooks can't because they have NO expansion slots of any sort). They worked OK with 10.4.8, ther were issues with 10.4.9 that may not be fully addressed yet, dunno about 10.4.10 - somebody who knows please comment or email me so I can update this. Around $100 though, not bad.
5 Options to transfer/archive P2 Footage
A) Have a dedicated hard drive to store your footage via a direct data dump from camera to drive, no computer necessary. By dedicated, I mean buy a hard drive and don't use it for anything else. ONCE YOU CONNECT THE CAMERA VIA FIREWIRE TO THE HARD DRIVE, THE CAMERA FORMATS THE DRIVE AND CREATES FAT32 PARTITIONS FOR EACH TIME YOU DUMP THE P2 CARD CONTENTS. (mikenote-thus obliterating anything you had on there before!) The size of your P2 card determines the of size each partition it will create. Meaning if you only have 2 gigs of footage on a 4GB card and dump the card to the hard drive, it will create a 4 gig partition instead of only 2.5 gigs. There are a maximum of 15 partitions that can be made on the hard drive, so that means you can only dump the card contents 15 times on the hard drive, which turns out to be ~ 60 gigs. (mikenote - or 120GB if dumping 8GB cards, or 240 GB if dumping 16GB cards...a 250 GB drive probably isn't QUITE big enough to dump 15 full 16GB cards to - formats to 232GB usable.) Advice: don't buy a dedicated hard drive over 150 gigs (if shooting with 8gig cards) and nothing over 80gigs if shooting with 4gig cards. The hard drive must be bus powered, meaning the camera cannot power the hard drive directly - thus the hard drive needs power from somewhere else.
B) Dump the P2 card directly through the PCMCIA slot (note: MACBOOK PROS CAN'T READ THE CARDS, ONLY 15" AND 17" POWERBOOKS CAN). If you own a Powerbook, I advise you to make sure the PCMCIA slot is clean and dust-free. The card will show up as a disk image with NO NAME as the label. *****************CREATE A NEW FOLDER ON THE DESKTOP/HARD DRIVE AND COPY THE FULL CONTENTS OF THE CARD: THE "CONTENTS" FOLDER AND THE "lastclip.txt" FILE.************* If you don't coy the text file then FCP won't be able to read your folder.
C) Connect the HVX directly to the laptop via firewire cable, the camera should show up as a drive labeled "NO NAME" just like the P2 card. Again, COPY THE ENTIRE CONTENTS OF THE FOLDER, same as above. LABEL YOUR FOLDERS ACCORDING TO P2 DUMP # AND ITS CONTENTS... FOR EXAMPLE: "p2_01_beach", "p2_02_beach", "p2_03_beach" etc... There is no alternate solution for changing the "NO NAME" label when the P2 card shows up.
D) Use a USB2 Hard Drive that has the USB "On-the-go" protocol. Connect the camera via USB 2.0 and in the camera menu choose OTHER FUNCTIONS>PC MODE so the camera will operate as a USB device. Switch to dubbing mode on the camera and press the "copy" button on the hard drive and it will copy the contents of the P2 card on the first slot it sees.
E) Open FCP 5.1.4 and click File>Import>Panasonic P2 (On FCP 6 it's File>Log and Transfer, and it has some enhancements over FCP 5.1.x). The P2 import window should pop up. Before you do that, you should create a logging bin to dump the P2 card contents. With the P2 import window open, click the add button and just choose the whole P2 folder you want to dump, don't toggle the contents folder, etc... Click open and the clips will show up in the viewer. This is a great way to log/label/note all your clips before importing. I do not recommend this option...
Here is a little video tutorial on how to import p2 cards to your hard drive/computer/FCP:
FCP 5.1.4 P2 Import Tutorial
FS-100 Portable DTE Recorder (Firestore)
"Weighing about one pound and only 1.5 inches thick, the FireStore FS-100 is an HD recorder designed to work with the new Panasonic AG-HVX200 P2 camera, supporting DVCPRO HD, DVCPRO 50, and DVCPRO/DV recording formats. The FS-100 provides long recording times and improves workflow with Direct To Edit® technology. It can also be used with other Panasonic DVCPRO/DVCPRO 50 and DVCPRO HD devices that have a FireWire port."
Here are the new features they just came out with:
- The ability to record native 720/24p, 25p and 30p in the MXF pN format; Allows users to only record the required frames in a DVCPRO HD stream, eliminating the need to remove advanced pulldown or duplicate frames during import to the edit system.
- QuickTime support for native frame rates as well as other 720p and 1080i DVCPRO HD record modes for DTE workflow within Apple Final Cut Pro; Allows DV, DVCPRO 50 and DVCPRO HD clips to import directly into the FCP timeline.
- Extended record time; Native frame rate recording allows users to double the record time from 100 minutes to over 200 minutes
- New included accessories such as a high-capacity 180 minute battery, a cradle to mount FS-100 onto all shoulder-mount camcorders with an Anton Bauer adapter, and a new 4-pin right-angle FireWire cable for an extra secure connection to the camera.
- The ability to easily bring non-P2 Panasonic cameras into a DTE workflow; Any DV, DVCPRO 50 or DVCPRO HD camera with 1394 can take advantage of IT workflow.
Visit Focus Enhancement's Official Website for more information.
AJ-PCD20 P2 Drive
"The AJ-PCD20 P2 solid-state memory drive answers the need of today's video professional for faster, easier file transfers on the desktop or in the field. This flexible, time-saving internal/external drive allows users to mount five 8GB P2 cards simultaneously for instant access and continuous editing of all recorded content in sequence. The P2 drive now offers an IEEE1394b interface (in addition to USB 2.0) for high-speed transfers of DVCPRO, DVCPRO50, or DVCPRO HD content into nonlinear editing systems and servers. Compatible with Windows 2000, XP and MAC OS X, the AJ-PCD20 can be installed directly into a standard PC 5.25" bay drive enclosure or connected to a computer and local area network (LAN) via its USB 2.0 or IEEE1394b interfaces. The flexible AJ-PCD20 also serves as a stand-alone external drive when connected with laptops for in-the-field use."
Visit Panasonic's Official page
AJ-PCS060G P2 Store
P2 Store is a 60gig hard drive and is battery powered, so no computer necessary. it serves as a great buffer when working in the field. It can then be used as an external hard drive to link to a computer via USB 2.0.
Visit Panasonic's Official Page
And now a very important message from the trenches, aka "See this scar here? That's why I don't that anymore."
If you want to view the contents of a P2 folder while you are on set, do so from the archived DVD. BURN THE DATA DVD FIRST, THEN REVIEW THE FOOTAGE IN FCP. This way your files are FOR SURE safe and won't be deleted.
I was toying around importing P2 footage with FCP 5.1.4. When importing footage, DO NOT delete the video files from the P2 log window. They will be deleted forever... you will end up with a P2 folder with all it's sub-folders but no contents within the sub-folders.
Let's set up the rules of P2:
1. Always have a person on set to dump the P2 footage... a.k.a. P2 Wrangler.
2. Always have a person on set to dump the P2 footage... a.k.a. P2 Wrangler.
3. Have at least 2 or 3 places to store your p2 folders. You never know when that day will come when your computer/hard drive crashes.
4. Burn data DVD's if possible and asap.
5. If dumping directly to a hard drive, use it strictly for P2 dumps and nothing else. remember it makes FAT32 partitions on the hard drive.
6. Always copy the entire contents of the card, including the "LAST CLIP" text file. if you don't, you're S.O.L.
7. If importing with FCP, do not delete the clips from the P2 import window, just leave them be. I REPEAT, leave them be.
8. Format the P2 card within the camera, not from the computer. it makes things much easier.
9. Label your folders according to P2 dump # and its contents. For example: "p2_01_beach", "p2_02_beach", "p2_03_beach" etc...
10. If you are on set and want to reviwew the P2 contents safely, view them from the archived DVD and not the Hard Drivesource footage
Panasonic really put a lot of effort into the P2 workflow, which in turn spoils the shooter to never want to revert back to tape. But there's something that doesn't feel right when you're shooting and dumping, almost like you never feel reassured that your footage is safe. with tape, you can hold it in your hand and say to yourself "I control you and I decide if I want to get rid of you." You should do the same with P2 to data DVDs.
Keep the P2 folders on multiple hard drives and back them up on DVD's if they are less than 4 gigs. Hopefully within a year, BLU-RAY/HD DVD burners will be affordable and you can back up 16gig/32gig cards on the discs for just a few bucks. Hopefully that day will come sooner than we think.
If you don't own a Powerbook and want an easy workflow in the field without tying up tha camera, a good choice would be the P2 Store. the downside if you have a 16gig card you can only dump it 3 times, but up to 15 dumps if you have 4gig cards. working with multi-P2 camera shoots, the P2 Drive would be a great option. If both of these choices are out of your price range, another option would be to buy a modestly priced PC laptop with a PCMCIA slot. Even ANOTHER option could be to somehow get your hands on a 15" or 17" refurbished Powerbook for a pretty modest price.
Mike's Comments: First off, thanks to Geoff for spending all the time to put this together.
As you can see, there are a BUNCH of options for how to deal with your P2 footage. One way not mentioned, because it isn't very budget/indie viable, is to just have a stack of P2 cards. With the recent price drop, the 16GB cards are awfully compelling, as their GB/$ ratio is MUCH better than the 8GB cards. Geoff did some spot market research and found that 8GB cards were going for around $675, and 16GB cards were going for about $900 on the street - so why NOT get the 16GB ones if you're on a budget? The "fits on a disc" is the only reason I can think of to even consider not doing so.
The P2 Store gets points for being small, battery powered, and simple to use - load and go with a a readout. The downside is the price. The other good thing about it is that the camera isn't tied up while you're using it. So if small size, portability, and immediately freeing up the camera is your goal, P2 Store makes some sense (or multiple ones).
Keeping track of which cards have been dumped and are ready to wipe and recycle from those that haven't is KEY if you have multiple cards.
The P2 Gear is good for better funded field work as you can review on it - think of it as an HVX with the lens and sensor sawed off.
The direct to drive option is nice, but makes me slightly nervous in terms of being sure you've got the footage- I'd want to plug it into a laptop right away.
The FS-100 is still kinda big and bulky, and P2 cards are finally starting to catch up with it. But for shooting a lot of footage in one go, it is a good answer for that.
The P2 economy/ecology is growing and advancing, and you have lots of choices as you can see. If you have budget for it, and/or need to be sure you can keep shooting, having a pair of cards to shoot with, the pair of cards you're backing up, and a spare pair keeps you guaranteed rolling.
Carefully analyze the needs of your shoot, see if you can spare staff to wrangle P2 cards, see if you need to keep the camera free to shoot, or if it won't be a problem to have it tied up offloading in down time. Standing around waiting for the P2 cards to download while everyone impatiently taps their feet as the good light is fading is definitely not a situation you want to put yourself into.
OK, happy shooting!
And keep multiple backups of that footage!
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, June 19, 2007
Message from Silicon Imaging:
We have another video tutorial online in our SiliconDVR training series, this time going over the workflow integration between SpeedGrade OnSet and our camera software environment, as well as some introductory information on 3D LUT's and their use in a color-managed camera-to-post workflow.
You can download the video at http://www.si-2k.com/Workflows.html or http://www.siliconimaging.com/DigitalCinema/Workflows.html
We hope you enjoy these videos and appreciate your feedback and support.
I haven't had a chance to look yet, this found by Andy the Intern.
In theory this sounds very useful and interesting and closed-loop synergistic to have an an option (not a requirement) for on-set production issues.
Anybody who has looked, please do Comment using link below and Share Teh Luv.
I also emailed Ari Pressler to see what else was new, he sent me this:
We are shipping SI-2K Mini's and SI-2Ks are shipping in the next few weeks.
We have incorporated a few last minute enhancements to the SI-2K based on the feedback from NAB including:
Field removal of the DVR module from the rear of the enclosure for upgrade or service
Improved 2K Mini insertion and removal mechanism
New 15mm Rod insert and locking mechanism
Recessed and angled connector side panel to allow cables to sit parallel to panel
Added 12-Pin Hirose on front panel for HD Zoom lens power
Two 4-pin power output connections each with +5VDC,+12VDC Regulated and Battery Voltage
New 3.5" drive bay for mounting the USB removable drive cartridge system
Intermediate mounts to either 16mm or 35mm film camera bridge plates (option)
Added Low-mode steadicam flat handle bar (option)
Electronic Viewfinder and mounting mechanism (option)
A few notes of interest for the Indies:
- "Magnus”, the first feature shot on the Silicon Imaging SI-2K Digital Cinema Camera to complete filmout, was selected by the 2007 Cannes Film Festival for the prestigious Un Certain Regard competition. It was applauded at the showings at the Debussy cinema, according to Annika Pham from Cineuropa and recognized as “visually delightful” and “a profound emotional experience” by Variety’s Russell Edwards.
- A new feature film called “Adopt a Sailor” starring Bebe Neuwirth, Luke Perry and Ethan Peck has started production using Silicon Imaging cameras with Director of Photography Ulf Soderqvist. “Adopt a Sailor,” written and directed by Charles Evered, tells the story of a sophisticated New York couple (Neuwirth and Perry), who inadvertently “Adopt a Sailor,” (Peck), during Fleet Week--- and in the course of one evening, these three very different people become a kind of surrogate family and change each others lives forever.
- Visit our Workflows section for a new series of video tutorials featuring various aspects of the Silicon Imaging camera systems.
Jason from Cineform and SI sent this to me when I asked about what was new
I would run through David Newman's blog over at http://cineform.blogspot.com and see what you've missed.
Another very important announcement is NEO 2K and NEO Player. The big news about NEO Player is that it's a *free* decoder available now for single-stream real-time playback of RAW files, or other CineForm codec files. It is cross-platform, although the Mac version is in Beta right now. So for all those people saying that CineForm costs so much money just to read the files, that's not the case anymore. You can edit even with NEO Player, but what you're missing is the ability to encode back to CineForm. So you can read but can't write. But that should work for most people just wanting to edit or convert footage, and not be messing around with mastering or encoding back to CineForm.
It would be a problem though if you plan on moving between apps, but again, the point is that you can read the files, you just have to pay for the ability to write the files. NEO 2K, which is the encoder portion, sells for $799.
You can read more at http://www.cineform.com/products/default.htm
Finally, we now in our gallery have RAW footage available for download from our camera, and users can download NEO Player to mess around with the footage, play with .look files, etc. There's a readme with the files to get people started.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
p.6 - talking to Fincher's folks about Zodiac and Benjamin Button - all Viper/S.two, all the time
p. 22 - Geoff Boyle talks about lies, damn lies, and manufacturer's specs - talkin' bout HD, pixels, and what is meaningful information
p.24 - how to get the best out of Red Rock Micro M2 adaptor
p.32 - Geoff Boyle talks about why the F900R is better than its predecessors
p.36 - Geoff Boyle talks about look management tools from Kodak, Assimilate, Iridas, and others - a very useful read for the all digital set!
p.36 - a longtime Avid editor uses FCP for the first time, shares his thoughts
...plus more useful stuff, these were the ones that jumped out at me
from the May/June 2007 issue:
p.6 - how the look of 300 was achieved, shot on film, but LOTS of heavy digital manipulation (like almost all backgrounds)
p.13 - using Google Earth to do previz for 24
p.20 - nice in depth article on the new Sony F23 - and it sounds very promising (if pricey!)
p.25 - how to get the most out of the P+S Technik Mini35 and Pro35 - nice companion piece to the M2 article from the previous issue
p.28 - Phil Rhodes second article on working with a budget disk recorder (his is Windows based, mine were Mac based for the 6 we had running simultaneously at Texas HD Shootout. But as John Wayne once said, "It ain't braggin' if its true."
p.34 - a look at the integrated workflow Silicon Imaging is working out with their partners to handle non-destructive LUTs and metadata all the way from camera to onset LUT'd monitoring to grading etc. - a pretty slick setup.
p.50 - more info on S.two's Take 2 (improved version of their DDR recorder)
p.52 - David Stump on working with the Origin - I have met and have tremendous respect for David, when he talks, perk up your ears
p.56 - DVCPRO HD workflow with Avid, but they (the production company that wrote the article) make a lot of statements about their workflow I find alarming, so I personally don't feel like signing off on this as golden info until I test the workflow myself.
As with the other issue, there are many other articles, these were the ones that made my radar go "Ping!" as I sat on the beach reading them, deep frying my Computer Dude flesh. Didn't you notice I was on vacation? Wasn't there some sand at the bottom of the page? There should be, I've got sand everywhere else...
I had a great 5 days at the beach with my extended family (folks, sister & her kids), and I'm looking forward to getting back into Schtuff once I get home (I'm sitting on the plane about to head back as I write this). Best Lesson Learned - no matter how easy the 9 year old makes it look, Do Not try to use his little skim board designed for a person 1/4 your weight. Much Pain (& humor...for bystanders) will ensue. But it was fun trying.
All good stuff - and if you don't want/can't find the hard copies, $20 gets you access to the online articles - go to Showreel's website to get the deets.
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
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
A NICE little video tutorial that shows how to apply the same transition to a bunch of clips. Also nicely illustrates some good keyboard shortcuts, so there's a lot of good info in this one short little video tutorial (a couple of minutes or so).
Time well spent.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Did you see that DV Magazine article * I wrote (cover story April '07) about uncompressed HD workstations?
Did you wish there was a simple way to get exactly that gear in one place, from one vendor, customizable, who could sell & support it all?
Meet the HD for Indies configurations over at Silverado Systems!
I've been buying my own gear for a couple of years from Torrey Loomis over at Silverado, and we've partnered up to offer the configs I wrote about in the article. They are:
System 1: for the truly starving indie type - the bare minimum to capture, edit, & monitor uncompressed HD.
System 2: for the moderately budgeted indie who wants a proper setup but doesn't have tons of cash.
System 3: for the well heeled solo operator that needs bulletproof reliability, or perhaps for a small single room facility.
System 4: Probably (I hope) of most interest to a lot of readers - my Best Bang For The Buck recommendation on a system to do feature length uncompressed HD editing & finishing (up to 1080p RGB 4:4:4) on a budget.
They are all accessible from this page on Silverado Systems' website.
The configs are a little different than what I wrote about in the article, I've tweaked & improved since I originally wrote it.
I've been formally & informally recommending systems to clients, employers and friends for about 15 years or so. For a brief time during the desktop publishing revolution, I was a VAR (value added reseller) myself, but I don't do that any more as that isn't where my interests and passions are.
But in the meantime, I've been recommending system configurations for HD editing for a few years now, and it usually boils down to me recommending a list of gear. Then the client asks where should they get it, and I say say try this that or the other vendor, and inevitably the client comes back to say that they can't get all my recommended gear in one place from one vendor. All too often it seems there's always a substitution or two, or a vendor recommended substitution or upgrade is of dubious value, or more likely a component or three that simply isn't available from that vendor. Which means if there's trouble, it is all the more likely that there will be finger pointing between Vendor A & Vendor B and much gnashing of teeth will ensue. And nobody wants that.
So I decided that the only way to get simple, turnkey, one click, gimme-that-one-right-there simplicity was going to be to partner with a VAR and give them the mandate that they'd need to provide exactly the spec I recommend without substitutions, and ALSO offer the upgrades that I wanted to provide, in the order that I recommended them. And after a LOT of work from both sides, that's what Silverado and I have worked out.
If you go to, for instance, the Indie Bang for Buck system, you'll see a list of gear and options. All of the upgrade options are ONLY those that I recommend - I've deleted a lot of what I consider bogus upgrades. The upgrades that ARE offered are also in the order that I recommend them - so while a 17" JVC HD CRT is the recommended monitoring choice, there's also a 24" professional LCD listed, as well as both, or a "step down" option of the JVC CRT and an HDLink/Apple 23" LCD option listed as well. I recommend a 2nd internal drive, but if you want to remove that you can. Or if you want to step down from the default 8GB config to 4GB of RAM, that's possible as well if it makes sense for your setup.
If any of this doesn't make sense, just scroll down the Silverado page for the config you're considering and each of the optional categories is explained in depth, with recommended options for different usage scenarios, when it is worth getting those, etc.
So you're getting the benefit of my latest and best advice, as well as turnkey solution from a known & trusted vendor. I was buying my own gear from Torrey at Silverado for two years before we set this up, hopefully that carries some weight with you folks.
What do I get out of this? Yes, I do get a cut out of the deal, which is why I've spent many days and late nights getting all this set up, but it comes out of Silverado's end - you're not paying any more than if you approached them with this parts list on your own.
Over time, I'll be putting up other configurations for other usage scenarios, and I'll be announcing them here. The options listed here will work for most folks for most scenarios, but as always, if you'd like a fully customized solution to your particular project's unique challenges, I'm available for consulting.
Personally, I'm really excited to offer this service, I think it makes for a good marriage of good advice, a trustworthy single source vendor, and solid gear that can get the job done - at an entirely reasonable price - that should make everybody happy.
And yes, this is that bigger deal I was mentioning several days ago about buying a new Mac editing setup. But I also still have at least one more announcement to go...
* For the record, DV Magazine is not involved in this deal, nor do they officially endorse, recommend, or have any role in this in any way shape or form. I'd just received a lot of requests about where to buy such a config, and folks were having difficulty getting all those exact parts in one place, so this just seemed like a good idea.