So we just finished up a mini doc about my perspective on film. The catalyst for the project was to create a 2 minute doc about something you are passionate about to win a Sony FS7. It turned out really well. Please check it out.
It is only a couple of weeks until classes begin. I was thinking about how I teach the basics of filmmaking and how it would be really useful to have some visuals besides films to talk about composition. And then I come across this video which is sort of quirky but it works.
So if you are taking a class with me in the future maybe I’ll show this video.
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.
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.
So the camera has been out for a year, but this was our first outing with the small box with a lens mount.
I can say that I was more impressed with the camera than I thought I would be. Why is that? As many have noted the camera has many shortcomings but comes in at a price tag that may have you overlooking them. The recording and file types of the camera are amazing at any price. Recording straight to ProRes will cost you at least another grand coming off your Sony/Canon/Nikon and you have to attach that gizmo to your rig. The BMCC does it in camera. If you want raw, you can record to Cinema DNG files. Be prepared to spend some time with Resolve or some other workflow to get your RAW footage into your NLE.
It was really easy to use and intuitive. An inexpensive camera should not be complicated. Some of the features like focus assist were very useful. We used the Canon EF model with a variety of lenses. The Tokina 11-16 worked great as did the Rokinon Cine primes. One of the Canon EF lens had trouble with the iris control. It worked fine on a DSLR, just couldn’t communicate with the BMCC.
The shortcomings have been well documented and some are just compromises of an inexpensive motion picture camera. Not every camera can or should do everything. If it does it should cost more than $2K. The first thing my students asked was how fast does it shoot? 60 fps? nope. You got 24 or 30. Okay, I can still make a movie with that. Card format and clip editing in camera. nope. You have to connect your SSD card to a computer to format it and manage any clips. The battery is internal. What? By the time we had the shot set up and dolly shot rehearsed the battery was flashing 25%. More cable wrangling or a third party solution to power. Can I plug a mic in? Sure with an adaptor to 1/4″ plugs. But I don’t hear any sound. That’s because there is no Phantom power and we have a 416 p48 plugged in. I’m sure there were other minor issues but none that stand out.
If you are aware of the compromises you can use this camera to make some great images. If you were expecting a RED EPIC for $2K you will be disappointed.
This was really helpful last week while trying to finish up a short commercial project. It was generated in Final Cut Pro 7, yes I’m still using Final Cut Pro 7 in 2013. It is familiar, easy, and usually just works. This is how many people describe their car. I am certified to teach AVID and have used Premiere. I played around with Final Cut Pro X and then put that away. So what is the point of this post? Nothing really, it is a simmered rant on the state of things. Final Cut 7 and Mac OS in general continue to disappoint. What causes a General Error? It could be this or it could be that. After trying many things and painful restarts and using other systems I finally found the culprit. A sound file that was “corrupt”. I returned to the source disc image and replaced the media, opened the project and everything worked. How did this sound file become corrupt? We’ll never know. Could it have happened with another NLE? who knows. Always make a disc image / back-up of your files and hope you never see a General Error.
Alright, I’m the film guy. I just had a thought about how new film stocks would come out every couple of years. The manufacturer would tout how amazing and improved the stock is and how it was simply better in every way than the previous 200T or whatever. Then every article in American Cinematographer would talk about shooting the older stock, because the cinematographer knew how it would look through post, because they need time to acquaint themselves with the new stock. Even years after a stock had been discontinued you might hear someone say, wow I really miss ’93, the color palette was amazing. So my point in this post is that digital cameras are flying at us with unprecedented speed and we see even more tests on vimeo or forums but I don’t see that we are comfortable with what is right now like we were with film. This post will be out of date in a month. Whatever camera I mention will have a new update, new model or be completely antiquated in a month.
Right now I’m using a Canon 5DmkIII. I also use a RED ONE MX and RED Scarlet from school. And I have a Panasonic HVX in the closet that comes out to play on long format productions. These are good for now, but there is something better. Dragon, Alexa, Black Magic, Sony. They all have cameras that are better, smaller, faster out right now. The point I’m trying to make is will my 5D or Scarlet be the films stock that is no longer manufactured? Or is the new Dragon sensor really a better film stock than that old 93 ever was and I just need to move on? Will it be good enough to not compare to film at all?
Here’s another clip from Epic Dragon tests.
I thought this was a great post, really helpful to think about if you’re just starting out or have been undercharging for a while. First seen at NoFilmSchool
Here’s a post from AbelCine about the relative size of sensors of today’s cameras.
Have a look.
We had a chance to play with this camera courtesy of Z-systems. Of course we went straight for the Slow Motion menu and never looked back. We smashed, broke and jumped around for two days. All at 240, 480 and 960 frames per second.