Thursday, January 31, 2013

BMD Releases V1.2 Firmware for Cinema Camera

 

New Blackmagic Cinema Camera 1.2 software update includes time lapse recording, aperture indicator, ExFAT disk format and Thunderbolt support for Windows!

Blackmagic Design today announced a new software update version 1.2 for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera which adds exciting new features including time lapse recording, aperture indicator when using compatible EF lenses, as well as ExFAT formatting for SSD disks. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera has now been certified by Intel for capture and playback with Thunderbolt™ computer hardware operating under Windows™. Blackmagic Cinema Camera 1.2 software update is available to download now free of charge from the Blackmagic Design Website.

The exciting new time-lapse recording feature allows customers to capture incredibly stunning time-lapse video in CinemaDNG RAW 2.5K, Apple™ ProRes or Avid™ DNxHD. Customers have an extremely wide selection of capture rates with this new time lapse recording feature as they can select from every second frame all the way up to one frame per 10 minutes.

The addition of the new aperture indicator on the status strip and SDI output overlay for EF compatible lenses allows customers to easily check F stop settings on the LCD display screen!

With the addition of Windows for Thunderbolt, users with certified Thunderbolt hardware will now be able to use a wide range of Windows based software as well as Blackmagic Design’s UltraScope and Media Express software over Thunderbolt with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

Support for Windows formatted ExFAT SSD disk adds flexibility for customers to use either HFS+ or ExFAT formats. ExFAT is a Windows based operating file system that features state of the art technology, including large sized disk and file support, wide compatibility and high performance. In addition, Mac OS X also supports ExFAT disks, so ExFAT formatted disks can be plugged into both Windows and Mac OS X machines without any third party software required. Simply insert the formatted disk and the camera will automatically detect format, ready for recording!
 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Shooting On The FS700

Last week had me shooting near Charlotte NC with Brad Keselowski in his shop doing a bunch of product endorsements. Shoot ran fine. I want to thank Steve Kahn of Edit On The Hudson  for helping me out on the first rate crew and gear. I used a FS700 for this shoot with my Rokinon 35 1.5 Cine on the front for most of the shots. Mounting this required me to pick up a fotodiox EF to NEX adapter which worked fine. Second camera was one of my 60D's with OM 50 1.5 + Kenko 1.4X extender doing close ups.  

So what  about that FS700 ? well we had tons of lights - my HMI's and LED's handled the job easily, plus a couple extra rental LED lights. This lighting was not at all challenging for the camera. The images where nice and sharp, no moire or aliasing to be seen.

Was there anything I didn't like ? Yes. In several setups Brad had a yellow shirt on. The camera completely blocked it up into solid color. Reading the red channel it was 255 ! Not happy. I looked at the blue and green channels and saw they still had gradation in them. So I ran those shots thru Resolve 9 for fixing. I used the RGB channel mixer to borrow some luma from the blue and green channels, applied a soft circle wipe and qualifier to limit the effect to his shirt, pulled down the highlights a bit and now I had something looking like a shirt rather than a yellow blob. On one level I'm happy the camera simply didn't burn it out to white but on the other I wish it had handled it better. The problem was we had Brad for a very limited amount of time and I just couldn't go digging into menu's to mess with knee point, slope and maybe saturation levels. We just had to get shots done ! 

Audio

Its nice having 2 XLR's on the camera. The camera oddly gives you the choice of PCM 48K 16bit or compressed audio... not sure why you'd want compressed audio in this day and age. Sound otherwise was ok. Wish it had 24bit and AES input as options. 

Media and Codec

Uses SD cards, I'm happy. in 24FPS the data rate is 24mbit/sec which is about the same as canon. The only difference was at the end of the shoot where both cameras rolled together, the 60D had shoot 30G of media while the FS700 had only shot 12G. That was weird but it looks ok. I guess Sony has a better encoder. A 32gb SD card means a lot of shooting space.

The down side here was MXF. I like simple QT files from Canon, I don't like folder based MXF. Its just a problem format. For some odd reason Prem Pro CS 6.0.2 on MY machine didn't open the files. On another machine running the same software, but 10.7.5 rather than 10.8.2 CS 6.0.2 they worked fine. I dearly wish this camera wrote either QT or single file MXF without the folder structure nonsense that 10.8.x may be messing with.

Would I buy this camera ? maybe... I need to spend more time with it get a better sense of how it works and get some better tweaked settings.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rokinon 8mm

Here is a shot from the Rokinon Cine 8mm I got a week ago. Tasty lens I'm just starting to get to know. More once I get back from a location shoot this week.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Vitec’s Litepanels Wins LED Patent Case Over Movie, TV Lighting

This is bad... really bad. I mean how stupid were the judge(s) in this case to ignore all the prior art that was ( surely ) presented ? Vote with your money and tell Vitec group you will no buy any products from any of its companies until they back off.  PatenFreeLED.com  had better info than news week. Litepanels has made pretty crappy products for the price so I guess the only way they can try to make money given real competition in the marketplace is to license their bad patent. It may take years to invalidate their patent as it should be for simply being based on prior art.

Quote : " Of the fourteen (14) companies named in the complaint, all of the major manufacturers have taken the professional route and chosen to license its intellectual property to continue manufacturing LED lighting products for sale in the United States. The overwhelming adoption of licensing will ensure that the marketplace for LED lighting products remains as diverse, robust and competitive as ever. In fact, the licensing agreements now allow these companies to build on top of Litepanels’ technology to create even more innovative products going forward."

You can tell them what you think on their facebook page here. Wonder why they don't have any contact info on their website... don't most companies publish this so customers or perspective ones can contact them ? wonder why....

If that isn't a bunch of crap I don't know what is. I'm grabbing a couple more LED lites today while I still can.

I'm working on location this week using several LED lights actually. None are made by litepanels thankfully. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

GoPro Battery Charger

If you have a GoPro camera or three like me... well charging has always been a down fall.  Its silly to use camera's as a charger, but thats exactly what I've seen the GoPro crew itself do. They can afford using a camera to be a charger.... Most of us have another idea. Poking around on amazon I found a known name - Wasabi Power to be offering a GoPro battery charger AND 2 batteries for... $20. I'm in. 

So far so good. The charger seems to work ok. I'm going to try out the batteries tomorrow and see if they hold up.... and GoPro should seriously get their act together on battery charging offer this charger and something that holds 4-8 batteries at a time.

DaVinci Resolve 9.1 Released Today

A nice suprise today - another update for Resolve.

Blackmagic Design today announced a major release of DaVinci Resolve 9.1, the latest update to the world’s most advanced color correction tool. DaVinci Resolve 9.1 enables customers to use Resolve with Apple’s Macbook Retina technology, the world’s highest resolution notebook display. Retina based notebooks have quickly become one of the most popular tools in the post production world, and with 9.1, DaVinci Resolve will be able to run on the 15” Retina MacBook Pro at the best image quality setting.

DaVinci Resolve 9.1 also features support in XML for FCP X Audition, a popular feature in FCP X which provides the ability to stack and scroll through multiple shots in a single location in a timeline, allowing Resolve users to easily transfer files between the systems for a highly efficient workflow. Improvements in mixed frame rate XML integration will allow better workflows between Resolve, FCP X and Final Cut Pro 7 projects. DaVinci Resolve 9.1 also supports improvements for Avid AAF, Sony XAVC and AVC-Intra files and a number of audio and performance improvements.

The new DaVinci Resolve 9.1 also includes an exciting enhancement for the CinemaDNG file format, as used by cameras such as the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. DaVinci Resolve now includes a CinemaDNG Input Device Transform (IDT) for grading RAW images in full ACES workflows.
 

  • Support for Apple Macbook Retina technology.
  • Support in XML for FCP X Audition.
  • Improved XML integration for better workflows between Resolve, FCP X and Final Cut Pro 7.
  • Integration with DeckLink 4K Extreme.
  • Includes CinemaDNG Input Device Transform (IDT) for grading Raw images in ACES workflows.
  • Ability to generate new AAF for MXF audio renders.
  • Improved chase audio feature allowing specification in either frames or seconds.
  • Support for timeline audio when PowerMastering.
  • Playback support for Sony Raw F55/F5 files.
  • Improved rendering times for Sony CineAlta SStP files.
  • Playback support for the Red Mysterium-X Monochrome sensor (software decode only).
  • Playback and render support for DNxHD 100.
  • New ASC CDL metadata extraction from ARRIRAW headers.
  • Matte clips can now be assigned to multiple clips in the Media Pool.
  • Red Rocket can now be disabled from Preferences.
  • NTSC DV playback supports both 4X3 and 16x9 aspect ratios.
  • Another solid release from BMD
     

Always good to see a company giving their products TLC and keeping them current. This is especially true with all the new cameras that are always coming out it seems every few months.

Setting Up Premiere Pro For 5.1 Sound

This topic came by my today on an online mail list. How do I set up Premiere Pro for 5.1 Surround Sound Mixing ? 

It takes about a minute to do :

1. Go to Premiere Pro  prefs ->audio hardware. Select your hardware I/O. This needs to be hardware at least 6 output channels. It could be 6 discreet analog outputs like my MXO2 Rack, SDI or AES. If its SDI then you'll probably need a couple of audio dembedders that can give you analog audio from the SDI stream.

2. Go to PP prefs ->audio output mapping. Select your hardware I/O device in the top drop down menu. You'll now see all the audio channels in the rightmost column showing 1-however many outs your device has. Right next to that will be a series of icons showing where each audio channel is being mapped to which 5.1 channel or stereo channel. You can drag the icons around to change if you need to

3. Last step : create a new TL. In the dialog that opens, go to the tracks tab and change Audio-> Master  to 5.1. Please note : if you go back to the presets tab you'll reset whatever you did on the settings and tracks tab. dopey... but once you have it setup you can save the preset and use that going forwards.

In the Tracks tab you can also setup the default audio tracks for your TL including a 5.1 track if you need it as well as submix tracks

FWIW PP supports mono, stereo, 5.1, and 16 track outputs 

the Surcode thing is only for AAC audio encoding on output.

Well thats it for now... as always more coming. Some new lens reviews are certainly in the works, and I'm trying to get out at least one video review I've got shot... just need the time !

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rokinon Cine 8mm and 14mm Are Here

Rokinon CIne 8mm and Cine 14mm

Just got a couple new toys in here last week. All for an up coming shoot where I think they will work really well for some of the B roll I need to shoot on this job. So I'll be doing a review on them soon once I've had enough hands on time and gotten some good samples together. I did do a review of the 14mm stills version of the lens a while ago and so far my quick test confirm its the same lens optically with the cine style gears added on.

I also got a few minor fixes and updates done on the site too like adding some missing reviews to the sidebar. The problem is once you do enough of them you start to loose track smiley ! Ok back to work for me right now.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Goodbye Analog

Analog is almost gone here.  I have had a set of real CRT based waveform and vectorscopes on my desk for the last year or so ever since we moved into the larger space. For grading its an accepted requirement to have scopes. I liked them but... they took up a large corner of my edit room desktop and reality was I was hardly using them. The scopes in software had been my primary scopes for some time and I hardly ever used the real ones. Then there was the potential issue of color space differences since the scopes where being fed SD composite downconverts from either my Matrox MXO2 Rack or BMD HD 3D Extreme. 

Deskspace won out ! a couple of days ago the scopes came out. If any one wants them - they work perfectly well - you can contact me to have them. They are tektronix models, the silver ones. They run forever it seems and I hated pulling them out... but the space was more important. 

Have no fear though, I plan to add a LED LCD monitor back using scopes from either BMD or ScopeBox. The ScopeBox software + any video hardware it can see it probably my choice since I can coble together all the parts from stuff I have sitting around like an old mac and spare video card I/O. Of course reality is I'll be feeding it SDI of some flavor which will make life easier. When we moved into the new space I have to say most of the old analog gear never got moved in or installed. I have a Beta SP deck in the rack with a component to SDI converter on it so I can patch everything via one wire rather than 3 video lines and 2 audio lines. This reduced the number of patch bays in half despite the fact we added 2 edit rooms into the mix for a total of 3. Sure everything that counts is patchable but we hardly move them around. I can't say the last time my JVC BR-HD50 VTR was powered up... except the when I wired it into the system ! Maybe the only SD deck that see some use is the Digibeta deck being used to capture all the old tapes that are sitting around. That has been a slow process but its getting done. 

So while analog audio will still live for quite some time I expect, analog video is just about over. Even a couple years back I often used HD component video because it was easy to work with, but even that has mostly faded for SDI and HDMI. Times change... I don't miss analog very much, but you did need to have some real skillz to make it work right which is mostly lost on a lot of folks.

Coming Up

I have a couple more video reviews in the works that just need some editing. Ya... I know... that cash paying work keeps getting in the way wink I also have a couple NEW Rokinon lenses showing up  that I'll also be taking a look at as soon as fedex drops them off. These are cine lenses which I expect will prove to be great glass... testing soon !

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Tamron 400 6.9 vs Vivitar 400 5.6

 

Big impressive lens vs. small almost embarrassing lens. The winner ? you guessed wrong already !

 

I was more than expecting that the Vivitar 400 5.6 was a good lens. In fact I'd already reviewed this lens and its been a part of my regular package for a while. Its true I don't often have a need for 400mm, but when I do, its there. I've used it to get a number of memorable shots that needed the reach.

 

A few weeks ago I came into a pile of lenses. In the bunch was a great Takumar 50 1.4 that had my attention. Several weeks later I got to try the Tamron 400 6.9 and wasn't expecting too much. Its a wimpy looking skinny lens thats very light weight  and not at all impressive or interesting. Its even an M42 screw mount making it even more dated.

 

Lets go take it out and shoot a few shots. Its 10 deg F ! I quickly learn why screw mount lenses suck in the real world ! changing lenses is miserable because of the precision required to get it to go together.  Then turn and turn until it locks. Its a far cry from "modern" breech mount twist lock mounts that are 45 to 90 degs. So I fire off a bunch of shots on the Tamron 400 6.9 and then do matching shots on the Vivitar (Tokina made) 400 5.6. 

 

 

Ok, its not impressive and down right wimpy looking.

 

 

Far more impressive looking and a bit nicer handling. A much more pro looking lens.

 

RESULTS

 

Judge for yourself which lens came around to surprise me.

 

Vivitar 400 5.6 { click for full size image }

 

Tamron 400 6.9 { click for full size image ]

 

 

 

 

These images are full frame images from the 5K original stills. The difference in sharpness came to surprise me to say the least. This is especially true since the Tamron 400 6.9 you can't give away, at least until now !

 

Now for the 1:1 crops -

 

Vivitar 400 5.6 1:1 image crop

 

Tamron 400 6.9 1:1 crop

 

Once I warmed up back home I took a look at the images and got a surprise. The ugly near worthless on ebay lens made better images than the Pro looking lens. Poking around online it seems for STILLS purposes the Vivitar 400 5.6 is not that great of a lens. I guess every company makes a stinker and this was theirs. That said, when shooting 1080 it looks just fine, at least on a canon dslr. There in lies the rub - what is your purpose ? if its 1080 video that's incredibly more forgiving than 5K stills  are or video via something like a Scarlet or Epic. Another factor is the  handling of one lens may well be  better than the other for sure or just the client impression level when needed.  The Vivitar 400 certainly works well with a follow focus. Until you ride focus at 400mm wide open you haven't lived. I found the Tamron focus is a bit stiff in 10F temps and a follow focus probably wouldn't turn the lens very easily.

 

This quick test has even me thinking about what makes the best image for a given job... and that one should not get too hung up on what a lens looks like or seems to be rather than the images it actually makes ! TEST TEST TEST ! you don't know if you gear is hitting its marks or not utnil you do and this is a great example of being surprised by a lens I never expected would be that great. In fact I was expecting it would have a real funky look instead of being sharp and reasonably contrasty.