Saturday, March 3, 2018

Streaming with Motor Trend

I was able to work with a fantastic team to stream the announcement of Motor Trend's "Car of the Year" award for Alfa Romeo.  This happened during the recent LA Auto Show at the Petersen Auto Museum.  The goal was to deliver the announcement world wide during the show week and present the award to the VIPs of Alfa Romeo.  We streamed to Facebook and Periscope live and then immediately changed out the GFX skin and uploaded to YouTube.
The event was produced by Whitecoat Productions from NY and overseen by their executive producer Zach Stein. They chose the historic Petersen Auto Museum as the venue and the top floor terrace as the setting.

During pre-pro the plan was made to use 3 cameras; one wide CYA, a guest cam and a dedicated tight cam on the host.  We used 2 Sony Fs5's for the guests and host and then a Sony X70 for the wide. Jeff Killian of Ocean Motion Productions road herd on the camera dept and drove the host camera during the stream.  They fed into a Tricaster provided by Take One Digital and pushed out to the world over a LAN connection and a bonded cell backup.  Great job by Matt Worley as our TD and Stream Tech.

Sound was a bit of a challenge as the Petersen is right on Whilshire Blvd and had not one but two building construction projects going across the street in each direction.  John Franco was our A1 and worked some real magic keeping the background noise to a minimum.  He used a Dugan Automixer in the rig along with an Allen and Heath as the main desk.

Stan Garber and Mike Bryant handled all of our G&E for the project and made it look effortless.  We were chasing the sun and trying to work in an interesting space to fit this all in.  We flew a single 20x diffusion behind the talent to slow down the buildings in the distance and help blur the background.  
Key lighting was several HMI's shooting through 4x4 diff with cups and bungees to quiet them down and backlight was a pair of 4x4 shiny boards fired in from the far corners of the shot.

All in all it was a great 2 days.  If you'd like to see the final product please check it out on Alfa Romeo's channel on YouTube. It was a real pleasure working with everyone on the team and I hope to do it again real soon.  Oh... in case you were wondering what I was doing, I helped put the crew together here on the west coast and then ran cameras 1 and 2 during the shoot...

Until next time, good shooting and editing and grading,

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fujinon MK Lenses

I have been keeping an eye on the new MK series of lenses from Fujinon since Cinegear last summer.  These are a wonderful blend of size, performance and cost. I recently gathered a few shooter friends together to try these out.  We took over the green screen stage at Video Resources in Santa Ana California.  I was able to get the pair of lenses from FujiFilm HQ for the week.  We tried them on my Fs5, an A7s and with the help of a new DuClos adapter a Sony F5.

I grabbed the 18-55mm and the 50-135mm as a kit. What I like about these lenses is they weigh less than my Canon 70-200mm  ƒ2.8 zoom and are super sharp and super responsive.  I do a lot of focus pulling and the short 90 degree barrel throw on a DSLR lens has always been a problem for me.  These lenses have almost 200 degrees of focus barrel rotation - Yay!!!  The rotation is also smooth with just the right amount of tension so you don't blow by your marks (like I always do...).

Both lenses are the same size with the gears in the same place so a fast lens change is even faster.  There is a back focus adjustment, just like our old B4 broadcast lenses as they are parfocal and can hold focus throughout the full zoom range.  In addition there is also a macro adjustment for closeup work.  

I found the lenses very easy to set up.  Even adding the Duclos FZ adapter is pretty simple - you'll need a jeweler's screwdriver and a flat clean surface to work on.  It takes about 3 minutes to swap the e-mount plate for the FZ mount.  You might want to have some tiny shims on hand in case your lens is a little worn.  

I was curious to see how these would work on an A7S when mounted on the eMotimo pan/tilt head - they worked great!  They are very light and balance well. Also the eMotimo focus motor had no trouble with the lens at all.

Over all, the range of the two lenses in the set seems about perfect.  You can check out the detailed reviews of the Fujinon MK line from: ProAV or Philip Bloom.  For us, we needed to get them in our hands and see how the work with our rigs.  The draw here is outstanding Fujinon design and quality combined with accessible pricing.  Each lens comes in just under $4000 UDS.  For a range of 18mm to 135mm across a two lens set, I think this is a pretty fantastic deal.

Until next time, good shooting and editing and grading,

Friday, February 2, 2018

Davinci Resolve 14 Studio

Do I really have to say FANTASTIC again... Yes!!!

I have been working with Davinci Resolve since 2009 - I think that was version 7'ish...  I was coming from Apple Color and that was a toally different workflow.  In an earlier post I raved about version 9 as being the first point I felt comfortable in Resolve.  Then as things progressed BMD rebuilt the GUI and added things like basic editing, better audio control and generators. Then came version 12 where they seemed to have found the right balance between grading and editing.  Then... 14!  Now the editor is really nice and zippy.  There is on-board audio sweetening. And, the whole engine got a rebuild from the ground up.  i.e. Zippy.

I'm running Resolve 14 Studio on my 2009 Mac Pro tower and on my 17" MBP.  It works well on both - although the tower has 24 gigs of RAM (soon to be 48) and 2 GPUs.  I have been trying HD, UHD and 4K DCI in ProRes and 4K RAW from my Fs5 + Shogun.  Everything is working.  The CDNG RAW is a little more daunting but I can play it back and work with it and not have to decoding which is really helpful.  These have just been test with the RAW and I'd likely use a proxy workflow on a real project to save space and time.

I am so impressed with the Editor that I have started to edit many of my projects directly in Resolve.  It's a very fast editor both with responsiveness and the workflow.  I can do most all my work in the suite:
  1. Adobe Prelude to transfer with verify
  2. Window burns from Resolve of all the dailies
  3. Rough edit and window burn out for approval
  4. First color pass and basic cleanup
  5. Notes
  6. Final edit
  7. Full color pass
  8. Audio
  9. Bobs your uncle
  10. Deliver
For backing up I can output an XML and DRP file to the project folder and then everything is in one place should I need to pick up the project in a year or two.

With the addition of the Fairlight audio engine you are pretty much set for audio.  I have had to occasionally go out to Adobe Audition to do some heavy lifting for audio cleanup but not that often.  I like the basic audio controls you have in the editor window and then the Fairlight window is where all the goodies are.

And of course the Color section is, well, FANTASTIC.  Like most people I started using Resolve to do smooth color correction and grading.  This feature has improved with every update.  It's now far more powerful and feature rich than ever.  I'm still a newbe when it comes to real correction and grading styles.  Like most shooters that edit, I make it look good, maybe throw a LUT on it and call it a day.  But when I have to go deep, the app is ready and waiting for me.  With my upgrade to the Studio version, I have the on-board de-noiser, all of the real time EFX and the film grain filters.  As I move into more work on Web series project that have a style this is super handy.

In the new world of collaboration, Resolve 14 is set for playing well with others.  You can share projects with team members on the network and / or system.  I haven't had a chance to use this yet myself but hope to soon.  The demo I saw last fall at the Blackmagic Design showcase was awesome.  I'll update this post as soon as I have some more experience with this feature.

Now, lastly, the Delivery page is brilliant.  I now can choose from a variety common output settings for things like YouTube, Vimeo, Premiere Pro, Final Cut, etc. and be spot on.  Also you can build your own presets for frequent operations you preform like window burns and specialty codecs for TV stations and other internal web systems.   
Love it!  (and yes, I'm a giant fan boy!)

Hope this gets you interested in Davinci Resolve.  You can download the free version and start using it and then move to the full studio version for only $299 when you're ready.  I have a lot of clients that want to try a cut of their project on their own and I suggest they use the free version and then send me the cut and I can start from where they left off... Pretty Cool!

Until next time, good shooting and editing and grading,

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

IDX AC100 V-Mount Camera Power Supply

AC100 Power SupplySo I recently had the opportunity to use the new IDX AC100 camera power supply on a project I was doing for Motor Trend.  This is a nifty little clip on supply that fits in place of my V-mount battery on the back of my rig.  The shoot was only going to be 15 minutes but we had a full day of install and rehearsal and then 2 hours of rehearsal and stream prep the day of the shoot.  I didn't want to be changing batteries every hour or two for the project so I thought I would try this solution-
It worked great!

I worked with the folks at VMI, inc and IDX to get a demo unit for the week.  I had read about the power supply earlier in the year but wanted to really give it a good test.  This project seemed like a nice opportunity.

The supply itself is well built and clean in design.  There are V-mount connections on each side.  The idea is that the power supply clips onto your V-mount battery port and then you can add a additional battery to the back of the power supply in case you need to pop off your sticks and run to capture a shot - Brilliant!

As you can see in the pictures, the supply is just slightly larger than my V-mount plate.  It's pretty light weight.  The power cord that comes with the unit has a nice right angle connector that allows the cord to drop straight down from the supply.  I was running my Sony Fs5, and the Atomos Shogun from the power supply with out any problems.  It provides 100 watts at 14.5V@6.9AV constant.

All in all I liked my experience with the AC100 and will likely get one this year.  My plan is to power the camera, the Shogun and maybe a small lens control system from the rig.  I'll keep you posted.

Until next time, good shooting and editing and grading,

Saturday, June 10, 2017

CineGear 2017

So I went to CineGear last week...  so much to look at.  Although it seemed like a slightly smaller show this year for some reason.  I was mostly looking to follow up on gear that I already own and see what updates and accessories are now available.  

Shogun Inferno
First stop, ATOMOS.  Wanted to find out about any new firmware updates and a possible replacement for the Shogun. Nothing at the moment.  We'll see what happens later in the summer.

Next stop, Fujinon.  I had to see the new MK lenses for myself.  With the Fs5 these seem like they would make the perfect pairing.  I got the straight poop on why these only work with the E-mount - Flange Depth...17mm for the e-mount where most other mounts start a 40mm and go up from there.  These lenses would have to be twice as big and cost twice as much to work on a standard mount as well as they do on the e-mount system.  Bummer and good...

The bigger deal is how to add servo control to the Fujinon MK lenses... Awe a possible solution at Tilta!  The new Nucleus-M system.  This, for me, was the highlight of the show.  This is a wireless "FIZ" with two motors, two handles and a controller for $1200 US.  Ultimately it is a 6 channel system but in reality you would most likely use it for zoom and focus on a gimbal or drone.  It is all wireless except for one power cable to the first motor and then a daisy-chain jumper cable looping power to the next motor.  They are going to let me check the prototype out in their office in a week or so - stay tuned for an update.

Next I stopped at Blackmagic Design to catch up on Resolve 14 and the Ursa Mini Pro.  I have been using Resolve since version 9 (really 7 but I didn't fully switch until 9).  14 appears to be the best version for all around or end to end work flow so far.  With the addition of Fairlight audio and collaborative work flow the have really upped the bar to other NLE's. The Ursa Mini Pro was attracting a lot of attention.  At the Roadshow BMD did a night set to show off the new camera.  Here it was more of a daylight setting.  The camera looks very nice.  I'm going to check it out later this month in the showroom at BMD Burbank.

Keeping with the camera theme I looked at the Pansonic EVA-1.
Interesting camera.  Still just a mock up at this point.  Hope to see it in action later in the year.  
  • EF mount lens 
  • Super 35 sensor 
  • RAW out
  • SD card media
Last but not least in the camera dept. had to see the new C200 at Canon.  Really Nice! I would have a hard time choosing between this and the C300mkII.
The C200 is a little smaller and has the new Canon RAW lite offering.  We'll have to see how reviews of footage sound after some more test shooting is done.  Folks like Pro AV TV, CPVTV and Cinema5D have done pretty good first look videos if you would like to learn more.

Well that pretty much wraps up my brief look at a few cool show items at CineGear this year.  as I do some more in depth reviews of a few of these items I'll post 'em here.

Until next time, good shooting and editing and grading,

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Interview with Robet Scovill using Canon C100's

I recently had the opportunity to work with Fusion Productions at Sony Pictures Entertainment. I operated the B-CAMERA during an interview with Robert Scovill,  FOH engineer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  The band was finishing their rehearsal dates before heading out on their latest tour and Robert was kind enough to give us an hour of his time talking about the philosophy of "First In, Last Out". FILO is a concept only too familiar to production and staging folks around the world.  Todd Elliott, owner of Fusion Productions, is using this interview as one of several pieces that will be played at the FILO conference happening this spring in Chicago. Todd has created the conference to give back to the production community and also bring together some of the best people in the industry to discuss the ins and outs of large scale production.

We shot on a pair of Canon C100 cameras and had a Sony Fs5 for the CYA.  I have to say I am getting more and more intrigued with these cameras.  I was born and raised Sony and have owned more than my fair share of them over the last 25 years.  But as the DP, Dave Hunter put it, "the Canon look just works".  He lit the interview with 2 Diva 400's double dipping each unit as back and key.  We placed a Sennheiser wireless LAV on each person and those went straight into the cameras A to A, B to B.  After the interview we took the C100's around to the FOH position and shot some B-roll of Robert showing us the board layout and Mix position config - Very cool!!

The picture above is the full set under show lighting as we had it set during the interview.  On the tour there will be 4 large LED screens running upstage and to the sides of the stage for a 270 degree viewing arrangement.

I hope I get a chance to see the tour when it comes to California.  Until then I'll just have to enjoy this picture =)

Until next time, good shooting and editing and grading,

Friday, February 19, 2016

CHOC Fundraiser with PCE

I did a live handheld gig the other day.  It's been a while.  This was a fundraiser here in the OC for CHOC Children's Hospital.  A ton 'O' fun.  The production was being done by Pacific Coast Entertainment out of Huntington Beach, California.  We were using the new Panasonic 610's - nice cameras.  Lighter than I expected.  They are P2 based and have just 2 slots instead of the 4 that the 500 has.  Great EVF.  I think I was actually in focus most of the time - LOL.


The headliner was Keith Urban - great show.  He did about 90 minutes straight through.  I was in the pit and the fans (mostly ladies) all wanted to get as close as they could to the stage and I was between them and the stage...  The director was really nice.  He's the tour video director and wanted to test out some shots during the show that they might use during the actual tour IMAG.

The event raised a little over 2 million dollars - YAY!!!  They auctioned off everything from first up in the valet parking position to a couple of Keith's guitars.  The crew was fantastic.  I hope to be invited back next year.

Until next time, good shooting and editing and grading,