Thursday, December 2, 2010

Canon 60D - first impressions

Just got the new Canon 60D camera this week as a second camera and back up to my 5Dmk2. I've only had a few minutes to play around with the menus and do my basic setups for my style of DSLR video work. Seems really straight forward. Easy to move around in and match most of my 5D settings. The audio is manual or auto just like the 5D ( Yeah!!! ) and has the same menu settings and adjustments.

The 60D uses SD cards as apposed to CF cards - that was a little bit of a surprise. But I use Hoodman RAW cards with their adapters on my EX3 as a backup kit for the SxS cards - so I just grabbed one of those and was good to go. They are Class 6+.

With both the 24-70 2.8 and the 70-200 2.8 lenses the 60D did a great job of focus and control. FAST autowinding. Wow. I had to turn that off... I hit a test run on the shutter release and fired off like 30 shots.

The pop out LCD panel is a real nice feature. I almost feel I don't have to put my Marshall on top to use the camera... We'll see...

Well that's it for now. I'll have more to report once I've used it on a set and gotten the "in the trenches" feel for the camera =)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Creatashpere 2010

This year's show was the best yet. There were many new vendors to show their wares and new, up to date exhibits. LOTS MORE 3D !!!! Great to see all the support this new technology is getting.

Things that really got my attention were the Genus / Manfrotto booth, the GlideCam booth, the Da Vince Resolve software and the Panasonic AF100 exhibit - very cool. Also we checked out Able Cine, O'Conner and Samy's.

The lectures were very good - we attended the DSLR intensive given by Bruce Dorn: iDC Photo Video. Great talk. Good Q&A.

Looking forward to next year's events.

Friday, August 13, 2010

5Dm2 as a still camera

I have been having the best time just using my 5Dm2 for stills. I've shot Nikons for over 10 years and really like them for their ease of use and general sharpness. I was mostly using medium-fi glass and Nikon's basic SB28 flash.

Enter the 5D. I put it all in one lens - the Canon L series 24-70 2.8. Very sharp. I bought the 430 mid-pro flash - again, very nice. Now even if I'm just doing a quick snapshot at a party the images come out great. The product stuff I've been shooting for my wife looks terrific. Shallow DoF!!! I love the ISO up to 3200 (let alone 6400) and still holding a good image.

Basically it's just a great camera. I thought I would only use it for HD video... Nope. It's becoming one of my new favorite tools =)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

ZOOM H4n Digital Recorder

Recently got to use the new ZOOM H4n on a project to track GOPRO cameras in a car interior setting - Worked great. We first used them with the internal mics place near the interviewee - that worked OK but had a little too much road noise. Plan B, we already had the people miked from the other part of the interview process with Lectrsonic 195 systems so we just added the ZOOMs to our field mixer bags and set those in the back seat during the "on-the-road" interviews and used hand claps to sync them up later. Sounded great.

Things we learned:
  • 4gig - class 4 cards were fine
  • 48/16 WAV files fit right into the edit
  • Batteries would last almost all day - 10 hours
  • New front panel design was much easier to read and operate
  • Mic level in to the XLRs from the mixers worked great*
  • Gain staging mixer to H4n had plenty of wiggle and head room
  • Make sure you don't bump the MIC/1&2 buttons - Silence... OOPs
*In preparation I had done a lot of reading up on the new H4n and most said "no line in". I understand the combo inputs are designed to accommodate HIGH impedance signals from guitars and basses 10k. Well I did some testing after the shoot, -10 line out of my FP33 @ 0vu yielded a nice signal when the record levels on the ZOOM are set relatively low. No sonic coloration that I could hear - Tone and Dialog.

I have the H2 and the H4n. The H2 stays with my FP33 as a piggy back dual system recorder and the H4n stays with the 5Dm2. Nice kit to have...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

CineGear Expo

Wow!!! What a show!!

I wasn't able to get to NAB this year and had to live vicariously through all the videos from the floor. Great coverage but still not like being there asking all the questions...

Then came CineGear!!! Yeah!!! All of the booths I was most interested in seeing at NAB were at CineGear. I started in the two large sound stages and then made my way out into the backlot - there was literally something cool on every corner.

Some of the things I liked:
Redrock Micro
Tons of lighting - LED, Tungsten, Florescent, Panel, specialty, Etc...
CineToys / GearNex
All the 3D stuff
Pretty Much everything...

If you get a chance next year - Check It Out!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

PSA shot with the 5DmkII

Here's the scoop on my first real outing with the Canon 5DmkII. My friends in the Sam Morrison Band are playing a fund raiser to help support the cure for Diabetes. It's a Harley ride called Rip's B.A.D. Ride (Bikers Against Diabetes) held in Irvine each year. This year it's on Sunday June 13th at Oak Canyon Park. The band felt that attendance needed a little push this year and asked if I would help them with a "quicky" PSA talking about the ride and American Diabetes Association's cause -- I said sure.

The plan was to shoot kind of generic as they would be doing more from the road on their own. This is only one in a series of events they are playing this season and they want to do a video for each. I went with a background rag and some soft pattern light. I used a Diva 400 "lollipopped" over the lens and a pair of Lowel ViP pro-lights from the corners of the background stands as back lights. I am the "King of Flat" after all =) The pattern was a Mole "Teenie Weenie" shooting though a pattern cut out of some bead board from Michael's Art Supply. We went 3200K on everything to make it look really warm and friendly.

For the camera I set it at ƒ2.8 @ 1/30th 1080/30p. ISO was at 500 to give me some apeture fiddle room in case someone got squirmy. I put my Canon L 24-70mm ƒ2.8 zoom lens on as the catchall range for interviews. I used my Marshall V-LCD70XP on a Manfrotto arm as a local monitor - peaking really helps with the focus while recording and the false color filter is great for exposure tracking.

For audio I used my Shure FP33 field mixer to feed both the 5D and a Zoom H2. I put a Sennheiser EW100 lav mic on each speaker and panned them on to their own channels. Later in post I decided to go with the H2 recording although the tracks from the 5D were not bad... =)

To finish I used Streamclip to convert the footage (into XDCAM EX 1080/30p) for FCP 7. I started to run the final edit though Color 1.5.1 and then decided in the interest of time to just do a little touch up with the 3-way color corrector in Final Cut. I put the Broadcast Safe filter on at the end just to hedge my bets. Again, we wanted this to be real warm and friendly so it has an extra orangey feel to it =)

Over all I'm pleased with the final product. (We basically did it in a morning.) The 5D worked well and it was a good opportunity for me to get a real project under my belt with it. I want to explore some of the other ProRes settings for FCP and Streamclip. I think that's going to be the final quality point. Audio was easy to sync up (short form). Now I just need to configure the kit into a couple of cases and an easy cable layout...

Please check out the PSA - Click Here

I'll keep the updates coming. Happy Memorial Day!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Canon 5DmkII Tests - Part 1

So the testing continues. I had this week to go though some of the features and configurations that I think would best work for my style of shooting. Here's what I found:

  • Using a Manfrotto 577 Rapid Connect Adapter is the way to go. All my cameras are now universal to my tripods. And I can balance the cameras to any need.

  • The audio from the built-in mic is OK for a scratch track to sync to. Although using a production mixer or an adapter like a JuiceLink or BeachTek is quite helpful. The digital audio recorded is only 10bit with a frequency range of about 300hz to 8khz. So use an external recorder when possible. I had some pretty good luck running my Sennheiser wireless receiver straight into the EXT MIC input in a pinch. A good mounting solution for your receivers is the BeachTek MultiMount 5D.

  • If you are trying to connect your production mixer to the 5D HOSA makes a great XLR to stereo mini adapter. You just need to be careful with your gain staging - otherwise use one of the adapters I mentioned earlier to even out your microphone input levels.

  • I am pretty well invested in Nikon and have a lot of Nikkor glass that I still like. I found a great F to EOS adapter from Fotodiox to allow me to use my lenses on my Canon. It is the consumer version around $30 and popped right on. To that I say...Right On =) I also bought an FD to EOS adapter for an older Canon FD 35mm ƒ2.8 lens that a friend gave me - works like a champ. It was around $40.

  • I'm using the CAVISION matte box system with RedRock Micro's support system just makes it - but nice. I need to get a good donut adapter for the back of the matte box - Still looking...
We'll, that's all for this one. Check back soon =) Thanks

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Sony EX3

Well, in spite of all the hoopla (mine included) with the 5Ds and 7Ds, I still like my Sony EX3 a whole bunch =)

I recently had the opportunity to shoot a Jenny Craig video blog and I used my trusty EX3 and it worked like a champ. Easy in / Easy out... no tools required. My friend is the primary on the GIG but occasionally will send me to fill in. Very cool. We shoot on sound stages, in homes and on location. This camera is really suited for fast moving production. I am now typically shooting with KinoFlo Diva 400's and some Lowel ViP Pro-Lights for interviews - again, easy in / easy out. They are lite weight, low power and low heat. The EX3 is such a light vacuum, the output of the Divas is sometimes almost too much. I have downloaded some of the new custom settings that people are coming up with to give a more "film like" look. They are really nice. When you combine this with a little color grading in post it looks terrific.

I use an IDX A-E2EX3 Endura Battery Power Adapter to fit my bigger
90mw B4B batteries on the back. I can run almost 4 hours per battery and the camera looks a little beefier in that config.

If there is any concern about the "size" of the camera package I just add the matte box and FF system and we seem to be fine. Plus I like the added comfort of the FF and rails.

More to come with the EX3. I think so much of production these days is akin to the philosophy painters use: They could paint a great sea scape with water colors or oils or acrylics -- and it would turn out just fine. But, the real artistry is knowing which medium is going to best represent what the artist is imagining. Lets all keep our pallets fresh and full of color =)

'Til next time,

Friday, May 21, 2010

My 5D Mark II has arrived !!!

OK OK... So I held off as long as I could. The first time I saw the photos of the all rigged out 5DmkII I thought WOW!!! Then I told myself I was just judging a book by it's cover. It looks very cool -- but it's not ready for video yet.

So I waited, patiently, with my EX1 and EX3 by my side. My trusty LETUS 35 Extreme always ready... Then it started happened. People I knew started asking for or using the 5D and 7D on their projects. TV shows started using them. Canon released the firmware updated for the 5D -- now it was a whole different ballgame. Workable frame rates, better control over the sound (even if it's just a scratch track in most cases) and Zeiss has adopted the EOS platform as a real entity. All hail the CP.2 lens set...where's that winning lottery ticket....

I'm now into my third week of owning a 5DMKII. It took a week to figure out how to get it into video mode. My first subject - my big toe... Got almost a minute and a half out of that. Next it was on to real uses. I re-configured my RedRock rod system and V2 follow focus from the EX3 to work with the Canon 24 -70 2.8 L lens that I bought. Worked out the mount for my 7" Marshall monitor and tracked down the elusive spare Canon LP-E6 batteries. I was able to make my CA Vision matte box just fit the tall form factor of the 5D with the battery grip on it.

I'm off to the races -- or in this case an art showing for a friend to shoot a couple of interviews for the event. They turn out really pretty good considering the room was packed and I used only the light from a hanging PAR 64 blasting the art on the walls. I put the interviewees about 4 feet in front on the art and me about 3 feet in front of them. Not your ideal ratio - but it's what the room could handle. The DoF was not bad when I looked at the footage later. Important safety tip Egone... Just because you can go WFO with these lenses on the 5D and get everything really shallow - doesn't mean you should. The first interview went great because the interviewee stood still -- at ƒ2.8. The second person repeatedly leaned in to make her points. I didn't think it was that far... but she fell in and out of focus slightly through out the interview. To do it over, I would set my focal plane more forward or shoot an ƒ4.0. Still a good first outing.

I'll keep you all posted. Should be a fun learning curve. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

To DIVA or not to DIVA... That was the question.

I have been working with tungsten based lighting forever and just recently got into KinoFlos and LED technology. Wow what a difference. Each technology has it strong points. I still love the way my open face pars wrap around people and objects -- but the flexibility of the Divas to conform to any situation is really great. The instant color change out and the dimming capability is perfect for almost everything.

As more and more LED instruments are available we are certainly working in a great time for lighting. But, I believe you will still need some good fire power to keep up with daylight spilling into (or onto) your set if there's no way to control it. The LEDs continue working there way up to the power of the Divas and the brute force of a Mighty Mole (at a reasonable price point) but will need a little more time to get there. Please send in a comment or suggestion if you know of some reasonably prices LED solutions out there in the 1K & 2K power range...

The bottom line is to use the instruments that work for you -- but also to be open to new technology when it comes to lighting. I recently bought two DIVA 400s from a friend and love using them. They compliment my tungsten kits perfectly. I'm a little late to the game for this config, but keying with 56K and using 32K for kickers and background is an awesome combination. Plays really nice in mixed light situations. And, you get full "poop" out of all your instruments. Very cool...

'Til next time,

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Newport Beach Film Festival

Went to the Newport Beach Film Festival yesterday. Saw 4 terrific shorts.
It was very inspiring. The first short was shot in film. Then next on the Si2k and my guess is the last 2 were shot on the RED. All very nice. Some had more grading and CGI than others. Going back tomorrow to see some of the animation short films. More to follow...

Friday, April 23, 2010


Welcome to my blog. I thought I should finally jump in and write something here...

I plan to post thoughts and experiences with various projects and gear. Everything from HDSLRs to Sony XDCAM EX 35mm lens adapters and beyond.

I look forward to comments from others and varying viewpoints.

Thanks for stopping by,