2015 NAB predictions

I was thinking earlier today about what is going to drop at NAB in April. With a new camera every year from BlackMagic I feel this year will be no different. Now that they have their sensor sourcing figured out and in camera card formatting and firmware updated the next camera will be more refined building on what they have learned. I believe they will release a super 35 sensor 3.2K “pocket” camera. Maybe the form factor will be slightly chunkier depending on the card the decide on. They like off the shelf SD, SSD, etc, but maybe the will take the leap to CFast as ARRI has. Either way it will give the GH4 a run for the money and perhaps not be as awkward as their other offerings.

The Canon c300 mk2 is obvious, but what it will hold is up in the air. 4K? price? slow motion? I think the other rumor floating around about Canon dropping something below the c100 to give the GH4 some competition is interesting. 4K with dual pixel for under $1500? SOLD! fixed lens? maybe not.

RED will have the circus around their update. Do you really need it?

Stabilizers. I hope to see some more innovation rather than just copies of the MOVI and RONIN. I do think with the recent price drop of the Ronin that DJI is clearing inventory for another version of the Ronin. Lighter? yes please, this guy is a beast even with a 5D on it. A smaller version to hold A7s, GH4 and other smaller cameras? Could be.
I am still very interested in the HELIX from Letus but at the price point it is still too far out of reach.

Alexa mini – a camera every week

I didn’t expect Arriflex to jump on the square-box-camera wagon after the Amira. But today’s announcement of the Alexa “mini” is just that. All that you would expect from Arri in a refined little package for less money.

It really is curious what RED has hinted at with the peak at their new “Weapon“. Perhaps it is the dragon sensor in a more refined body than the EPIC. Maybe RED truly is the innovator they claim to be with ARRI making the Alexa fit into the EPIC mold (body style at least).

Also the C300 mk2 has the internet a buzz as well. Will Canon bring a competitor to the Sony Fs7 or just more of the same and tell the customers it is better? We will see if they can keep it under wraps until NAB or just start announcing early.

Sony Fs7 first shoot

So I had the opportunity to rent and use the Sony Fs7 last week. I expected to like this camera, had one on order but postponed until some more work comes along. This outing was straight forward vox pop style interviews. I encouraged the producer to go with it so they could easily cut into the 4K image without a loss in resolution.

The camera really is well laid out and easy to jump into using (for someone that has used dozens of cameras). The number one thing that myself and any other user is going to need to spend some time with is the the CINE settings. Shooting in Slog with LUTs can be confusing and an extra step in the process for post. Make sure that you and your post pipeline are familiar with this and do some testing. For this project we went with a fairly flat “Alexa” style LUT and baked it in by selecting that the LUT be applied to internal recording.

If you are planning on filming long interviews I would recommend that you get the 128 GB cards. Shooting at 4K chewed through the 3 64GB card I had in no time or 32 minutes each. If you are downloading cards on set the reader is USB3 so make sure you bring a computer with this connection speed or you’ll be waiting a while.

I was using the camera with the Metabones Ultra lens adaptor. This worked great with my Canon Full frame glass. I really appreciated having the built in ND filters on the camera rather than messing with screw in filters on the lens.

I didn’t get to take advantage of the slow motion features too much on this project, but did run through it in my prep for the shoot. Like the Fs700 it has the capability to do slow motion in 1080. But unlike the Fs700 this camera can run at 180 FPS continuously.

I look forward to taking the camera out again on the next shoot.

sony fs7

Magic Lantern

Magic Lantern is not new. It is software, or rather a firmware hack for your Canon DSLR. So up until now I had resisted loading it on the 5DmkIII because it could void the warranty, cause the camera to act up, or possibly brick it. Why now? Why not? The features have really come along way since I tried loading it on the Canon T2i years ago. It has an intervalometer in camera. All kinds of waveform monitoring and peaking to help with exposure and focus if you’re not using an external monitor. It also allows you to under crank and over crank the fps. This is cool if you want that time lapse look, but record it straight to video. Of course it has the much hyped RAW feature. I tried this out on a clip and it was cool, seemed to work just great and I don’t doubt the added resolution, but is it really worth it? About 12 minutes of recording time on a 32 GB CF card and then the post on it was a pain. Conversion using some hard to find utility. Sort of reminds me of the early days of working with RED footage. Some useful tools and options for creative filmmaking and photography that Canon didn’t think you would need. Good luck!

see the film

Every once in a while you see a film and it strikes you as being something exceptional. Maybe the story, the cast, etc. Recently I viewed “Ida” on Netflix having read about it in American Cinematographer some time ago and obviously didn’t see it in the cinema. What I really responded to in the film was the pure visual storytelling. The Cinematography is excellent. They came up with a way of composing many of the frames with extra room above the characters which is a bold move. They framed the movie in 1.33:1 which gives it a classic pre-50s feel along with being in black + white. Overall I think it is the simplicity of the film that was interesting to me. See the film and check out the details and analysis of the cinematography on the ASC website.

what the LUT

So I finally embrace the LUT and want to try the cool LUT I just found here but the Speedgrade manual and Adobe help aren’t exactly helpful. What is a LUT? This Wiki will explain it.

After playing around in various forms, a restart and lots of worthless Google searches I stumbled on the solution by accident. In the lower left corner, click on the + icon to open a menu and select FILM and choose LUT.

Speedgrade LUT
This will allow you to select the LUT you have downloaded, is available as a default or something you have created in another application.

If you are looking to try out a LUT without paying, try out the Instagram looks I found here.

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