So back in January, I think, I signed up to be a kickstarter for the smallHD port protector for the 5DmkIII. They did a great job with the mkII so I thought why not, I’ll be one of the first to get it and I need it. Before that I had tried the port protector from redrock Micro along with their cage and I found it to be awkward to install and I didn’t care for the cage. Replaced it with a Wooden Camera cage, which is awesome. So the port protector from smallHD arrived today along with a T-shirt as a backer. It was easy to install and seems to work really great. Except my cage doesn’t fit with it in place. So if you use your 5DmkIII without a cage and would like to have some security for your HDMI cable this is your product.
As someone that started off loading mags and pulling focus on film cameras I’ve always hated pulling my own focus. It just doesn’t seem right. With today’s style of shooting whether on a RED, a DSLR or some other camera I find myself adjusting on the fly to a small monitor or EVF. I try and teach my students the ways of the focus puller but they never quite get it. That and the monitor is right there, they can just look at it and use peaking or some other digital tool to tell them it is in focus. Not really focus pulling, but it does the job.
So after a couple of frustrating follow focuses I’ve found one that works really well with DSLR style shooting. The Edelkrone Focus One had peaked my interest when it came out, but I couldn’t pull the trigger. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks. It is nice and smooth and has solid feel. The best part was that it fits on the rails, and doesn’t protrude too far down so I can use it with a sliding baseplate.
I’ve tried various hand grips for hand-held rigs over the years but nothing beats the hand-grip on a film camera. I’ve never used the coveted Aaton grip, but the Arri SR grip is modeled after that and I have always thought of that as hand-held. The rosette allowed for adjustment. So after tossing another “DSLR” style handle I finally put down the money and bought one of these from KinoGrip. A handmade custom grip with an ARRI rosette. I’m still waiting for it to arrive as it takes several weeks. I will report back when it comes in.
Another year, another smash by Black Magic. I didn’t make it out to NAB to see the dazzling new offerings in broadcast and cinema products but with the live feeds and daily video posts it is not necessary. So there are more cameras coming out. Ok, but who was really asking for new cameras? These days we are working with smaller cameras at high resolutions. The market just gets a little more crowded and eventually there will be fewer cameras if resolution and compression stabilize. Most likely the startups like Digital Bolex will suffer the same fate as DALSA. Not enough reserves to make it through the next technical or manufacturing hiccup or the camera is too expensive for the market it was created for. But it could also be the makers with deep pockets that decide to back away. RED stopped making lenses after a short period, leaving it those that do it best.
Anyway, I was hoping to see more innovation (and lower prices) in cameras that acquire slow motion at 240FPS and above. Some cameras have pushed close as a standard feature or add-on (Arri Amira), but the Sony FS-700 still remains the best deal for short bursts of slow motion and very capable 1080 video work. With 4K add-on for that camera you are getting close to the price of a RED Scarlet, but with more features including better audio. On the upside of the the new cameras is the realization that they should still be operator friendly and shoulder mounted. The modular box is cool, but by the time you add all your third party accessories you have doubled the price of the camera.
On the horizon we have the GoPro Hero 4 being talked about with 120FPS at 1080 and 4K up to 30. Also the GH4 is shipping so there are plenty of new toys to try out. Do we really need them? Nope, but does a child with a room full of toys still enjoy a visit to the toy store? YES!
Once upon a time you could shoot 60FPS material on a video camera and use Cinema Tools to conform or alter the properties of the clip to 23.98 (or 30 if you were so inclined). With more folks using Premiere to edit I couldn’t find the solution to do the same until I stumbled upon another blog post. Within the project folder right-click on the clip that was recorded at 60FPS and choose Modify>Interpret Footage.
In the dialogue change the Assume Frame rate box to the appropriate time base for your project.
Now this does not change the size of your clip so if you recorded slow motion clips at 720 and the rest of your project at 1080 you will have to scale up the slow-motion clips or scale down your 1080 footage.
It is not often you get to chat about Cinematography with other Cinematographers in a public forum. Today I had the opportunity to discuss with my fellow Cinematographers the state of things in the MSPIFF forum. There was a packed tent with folks that were industry veterans and film students. We talked about the number of options today with electronic motion picture cameras. Too many? We talked about tools of the trade and 3 out of the 4 really missed pulling out the meter and really only Greg Winter said he still does use a meter regularly.
We talked some about lens quality and the overall shortage of quality lenses acknowledging that more lenses are being produced than ever before. Of course the discussion led to presentation and all of us agreed that digital projection is not there. Inconsistent, inaccurate, poor quality. All were hopeful that the quality would improve, perhaps. There was some discussion about the effect of not having a shutter on the electronic projection as a possible change to how we view films subconsciously.
Along with tools, we talked about how some of the lighting tools have changed, but others have not been replaced (18K).
We also had some discussion about other formats like 3D and interactive. Across the board 3D was viewed as a gimmick but Bo Hakala and Greg Winter had some interesting ideas on pushing the interactive nature of storytelling.
One question from the audience was on practical vs digital effects. Kevin Horn and I said we would prefer to film practical effects in camera and Greg and Bo brought up the idea of shooting digital effects with enhancement from the practical. Really blending the two.
Two hours went by really fast and I’m sure we could have kept chatting for at least another two.
Every year it is fun to play tricks on people with April fools. Sometimes the manufacturers come out with a post for new gear that seems so amazing and perfect, but just a little bit off. April fools. My favorite was this one on Facebook from Edelkrone.
With NAB starting very soon new gear has been slipping out just ahead of the big announcements to get more attention. One I saw was the collapsable rail from Rigwheels. Could be cool. We’ll see if Black Magic can steal the show again this year. I also think we will see a lot more stuff for flying cameras around. Gimbals for stabilizing everything. And of course lots more 4K and beyond.
This week I have been thinking a lot about color correction and color grading. Probably because I had a lecture on it in two classes and I’m finishing up post on two projects. I’ve always enjoyed color grading and what you can do with the final image. My first visit to the color suite was in 1995 in film school. We shot color neg and took it in to get transferred and they used a telecine with a Davinci color corrector. It was amazing. And expensive. Fast forward 20 years and we have so many options for color correction that it is dizzying. Davinci, as Resolve, is still in the picture. The color correctors in the NLE programs are very powerful. What is the point of this post?
I thought I had a point when I was thinking about writing this post, but mostly it was random thoughts on color correction. We are in a period where the look of the film belongs to the colorist. As a DP this is very scary, but also freeing in that everything I do on set is not the final look. Small HD has released a monitor that allows you to load a custom LUT so you can view your RAW/Log files with a defined look. That is really cool. The cameras that have that ability are available at prices that would cost less than my telecine session in 1995 without inflation adjustment! There has never been a better time to be a filmmaker. And there has never been a worse time.
Here’s the link I sent my students to for a primer on color correction.