Monday, March 18, 2013

Its monday, no tues...

Yes its just been that way the last few weeks. No complaints. Mostly getting ready for NAB and a desert shoot right after its done. I plan to spend a week roaming around without too much of a schedule in southern Utah and northern AZ. Its a trip I've been owing to myself since, well, I was a kid. 

I expect NAB to be pretty good this year for annoucements. Some I know about but can't say :) ! other's I await pleasant surprise for.  Of course I expect the usual round of new cameras including the rumors of being able to touch and maybe even buy a 70D if that happens. I'll get to my NAB predictions soon.

Meanwhile maybe one of the biggest things at last years NAB was the BMD camera. Its had a bit of a rough start because of manufacturing issues ( can you say RED ? ) but its now seeming to get some real traction. This episode of Sesame Street was shot on the camera. In many repsect the somewhat bigger than 2/3" smaller than M4/3 seems like a great match for TV production. With SDI out and audio in you are good. The smaller ship makes for more DoF and more forgiving focus than larger sensors do. Perfect for fast moving news or productions where very shallow DoF is not a critical factor and might even be a negative. Here is the offical press release. Sounds like a pretty tasty camera for this sort of production.

Blackmagic Design announced today that directors Josh and Jason Diamond of the Diamond Brothers shot Sesame Workshop’s, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, "Can You Tell-y Me How to Get to a Billion?" and "Counting the 'You's in YouTube" videos with Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Josh and Jason Diamond worked with DP Timur Civan on the four day shoot, and NYC based freelance colorist, Juan Salvo, used Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve to color the project.

"Shooting ProRes was a plus in that we were trying to find the best ISO to f-stop ratio. All the characters have fur and fringe, and there’s much more fine detail," said Josh. "Being able to try a couple shots in various settings then pop the SSD out and quickly pull some keys in After Effects directly from the SSD was a huge time saver. We were able to compare and contrast while setting up so we weren’t fighting with it in post. There was no secondary processing or transcoding to go through."

Spending sometimes as little as 40 minutes at a location, the team had little time to set up before they were shooting, breaking down, loading out and moving to the next location.

"We weren’t able to scout any locations ahead of time, so we showed up with a small lighting package and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. The camera is small, light and doesn’t need a lot of accessories, and we were able to leave it rigged so it could be powered up and shooting in seconds," said Josh. "Having 13 stops of dynamic range gave us the flexibility to say 'there’s a lot of nice natural light, so let’s throw up one Kino for fill and shoot.' Also shooting in Log allowed us to protect our highlights much easier."

With a Rec 709 image on the camera’s built in display, the team viewed a Log image on a secondary SDI monitor and benefitted from being able to use both images to determine if the shot looked good or needed adjustment without having to waste time setting up a large producer’s monitor in tight spaces.

"We were able to roll in, take five seconds to look around, figure out who and where we were going to shoot and go. We even filmed at a school with three and four year olds who weren’t going to sit patiently for long," said Josh. "The Blackmagic Cinema Camera’s versatility, ergonomics and efficiency were key to our workflow for this shoot."

"I was able to hand hold the Blackmagic Cinema Camera for almost six hours without a break, which enabled us to stay on schedule, get extra takes and move between the numerous locations with minimal crew. The camera was critical to the speed we required," said Timur Civan, DP. "The Blackmagic Cinema Camera gave us the most image quality per pound of any camera out there, and we were able to deliver image quality on par with cameras costing three times as much, but at half the size weight and complexity. It has a great run and gun form factor with a big cinematic look."

Shot in ProResHQ, the footage was edited by Sesame Workshop and then sent to Juan for color grading. Since the footage was shot in Log, Juan ensured the contrast, exposure and saturation were appropriate for each distinct setting, and Resolve's Log grading tools allowed him to dial in exposure and contrast as desired.

"The latitude and tonality of the footage were excellent, and Resolve’s robust Log grading and agile secondaries made it a breeze to work with," said Juan. "In almost every shot, I used secondaries, qualifiers, Power Windows and custom curves to get the footage looking just right. And having all those functions available at the push of a button from my control surface made it a cinch in a time sensitive environment. Resolve allowed me to render out review versions and final deliverables in real time."