Archive for July, 2010

28
Jul
10

new mac pro = bleh (?)

I would sit here typing my own opinion on the new Mac Pro lineup but why bother when I can simply plagiarize, err quote, Nat Jencks’ FCP-L post:

I agree that it’s a bit of a dissapointment, but the thing is, that to integrate high quality usb3, esata, SAS, Bluray, HDMI, would bump the price significantly. Typically when this stuff is built into the motherboard it’s a fairly low quality component.

The beauty of a tower is that you have the ability to add these on as cards without paying for what you don’t want.

That said, I agree, a disappointment. Apple’s benchmarks showing ~1.3 speed increase from the last generation are underwhelming given that its been a year and a half.
I think these machines are an afterthought for apple at this point. i’ve noticed that apple has removed the towers from most marketing pictures that show their lineup. Apple has started to frequently refer to itself as a “portable computing company”… I think that its clear to apple that there’s not much innovation to be to done in this sector, and the hardware is essentially the same that you would get from any manufacturer.

Also a bit frustrating that Apple is continuing to push ATI GPUs.

For better or worse, almost all the high end applications that heavily lean on the GPU seem to be optimized for Nvidea Quadro’s, and use Nvidea’s CUDA architecture. It seems like there is some politics going on there, as Apple is pushing it’s “OpenCL” standard. The end result of all this seems to be that Apple likes ATI, and works with them to create good drivers for the ATI cards, but most developers are developing for the Nvidea cards, but the drivers are comparitively poor compared to their windows couterparts.

Blech. The whole situation is a FAIL for the user.
Here’s hoping that developers start optimizing for the ATI cards, or that Nvidea starts prioritizing their mac drivers.

Well put Mr. Jencks.  From the comfort of my  Final Cut Studio & Adobe Creative Suite Production Premium centric edit suite, I’m still quite happy with my current Mac Pro and don’t see a compelling reason to upgrade. 2 x 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon with 12GB RAM and an ATI Radeon HD 3870 running Final Cut Studio 2 (FCP 6.06) and Adobe Production Premium CS4 is all I need to keep cranking out 720p YouTube videos.  Throw in a Kona 3 and a monitor of your choice for broadcast work and you’re set for the next however long.

The only feature request I have for Apple at this point is update FCP to allow for real time playback of H264 files from my 5dmarkii.  Seriously, that’s it.  And by-the-by, has anyone considered the fact that Apple’s minimal update with FCS3, which many also considered to be underwhelming, was actually a favor to the small production house business owners?  In this economy Apple hasn’t unleashed a beast that everyone has to buy.  Instead we get to keep racking up the profit margin on already paid for hardware and software.

proactively • thank you Mr. Jobs • peter

Disclosure, to comply with the FTC’s new rules

None of the manufacturers listed above are paying Peter Salvia to write this article and, so far, none have sent him any samples or demonstration items.  Peter is a B&H Sales Affiliate and receives a commission from items linked to B&H and purchased through this site.  Oh yeah, and he’s an Apple Certified Trainer so you can derive his bias for yourself.

***UPDATE***

Brook Willard has written the post EVERYONE is reading and talking about.  Read this snippet for a glimpse of the awesome and click thru for the full, thorough read:

Brook Willard in his own words

***UPDATE 2***

Thanks to Oliver Peters’ kind words and linkage on the FCP-L, I felt compelled to put a few more thoughts out into the blogo-listserv-er-sphere:

Oliver, thank you for your kind words. I just finished reading Brook’s post and it is extremely thorough and well thought out. The history he walks us through does a lot to support his perspective. I can only hope the right eyes read what he said about the importance rally car racing has for Subaru, that NASCAR has for Ford, etc. The last thing Apple needs to do for the long run is “strap a V12 to a Yugo.”

For the post production needs of my employer and of many shops in the DC market FCP 6 on a year old Mac Pro with sufficient RAM and GPU to cut 3 or 4 streams of 1920×1080 ProRes in real time is totally acceptable. Ethernet based SANs have come a long way so we don’t even need to use FW800 except for transferring footage to and from Rugged LaCie’s or logging and transferring P2 media. I think we are all familiar with the multitude of shows making it to broadcast on Discovery, Travel Channel, History, etc based on workflows as dated as this.

My only requested upgrade from Apple at this point is software based: real time playback of H264 footage in FCP’s timeline. That would help make the next 6 months of my life easier with all the Canon 5D Mark II footage I’ll be working with (and I’m sure a lot of other people out there too).

At some point I do want to see the hardware / software FCP Extreme or Phenomenon that’s been rumored forever. While I was trained on Avid I grew into my own with Final Cut Pro and I’m much happier doing more complex editing, compositing and grading in the Studio suite of applications. With almost 10 years of FCP editing experience, growing again with one app to rule them all driven by a Volkswagen R32 would be awesome. Stick shift please.

22
Jul
10

hdslr documentary zen

Filming with the Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-70 2.8L and Sennheiser MKE-400 (with wind-muff) on a Gorillapod Focus with the Ballhead X under the shade of a tree in Bethesda, MD in 100 degree heat and humidity.  Matt is monitoring 4 channel audio recording on the Zoom H4n with a Sennheiser G3 wireless lav pinned to our subject.  My trusty Canon 75-300 f/4-5.6 is standing by on the bench for run and gun.  Everything packs into the backpack near my feet.

Here’s a frame exported with no color correction.  White balanced at 5200K, wide open at 2.8 ISO 100 or something, this is documentary filmmaking at its finest IMHO.  The sensor on the 5D is sensitive enough to get great exposure and shadow detail in a no-light situation so what you see is pretty much what you get.  To me, this is telling the truth not previously attainable at this price point or for this level of production quality; no lights, just a camera and a microphone (or three).  Your audience is experiencing the moment about as close to how it happened as you can get, with video image quality from the Canon glass that we’re previously used to seeing only in glossy magazines.

Here’s a frame from running and gunning with the Canon 75-300 f4-5.6 (had to convert this to a JPG in order to post for some reason so slightly compressed).  Before starting to shoot I try and set my ISO at a good general level, I think I kept it the same all day at around 200.  While I’m running around, adjusting focus and focal length, I’m also adjusting f-stop.  I think this one is somewhere around f8 and I’ve had no problem raising mid-tones in post as needed, really impressed with how the codec holds up in that regards (I know others have different opinions).  I’ve found the trick is to try and expose as close to what you want as possible, realizing there are reasonable limits to what you can stretch out of your image.

I’m using the Videosmith Mightywondercam Classic Shoulderpod for stabilizing the 5D while walking around.  It does a decent enough job, and of course I keep the Sennheiser boom mic for grabbing decent ambient audio.  Eventually I may upgrade but on a budget this thing does the trick.  Doing handheld with a heavier lens like the Canon 24-70 f2.8L can be tiring so a counter balance of some sort may be in my future.

The DNC was kind enough to grant me permission to post this article so a big thank you there.  Hope this helps those of you in the field with understanding my approach to 5dmarkii documentary filmmaking, or at least gives those of you thinking about getting started a solid equipment list to choose from.  I’ve erred on the side of portability and minimalism; no fancy shoulder mount with a big LCD, no focus-pulling gear.  It’s a concious decision to be both lightweight and have a low-visibility factor; I’m so happy with the results.  It feels like I’ve achieved a filmmaking zen state and I’m not going back.

proactively • peter

Disclosure, to comply with the FTC’s new rules

None of the manufacturers listed above are paying Peter Salvia to write this article and, so far, none have sent him any samples or demonstration items.  Peter is a B&H Sales Affiliate and receives a commission from items linked to B&H and purchased through this site.  Oh yeah, and he’s an Apple Certified Trainer so you can derive his bias for yourself.

20
Jul
10

color grading (not in apple color)

Thanks to Patrick Inhofer’s TaoColorist listserv for the heads up on this article.  Before signing on for my current staff job, I was staking out the color grading needs of the DC production community as a freelancer.  I had to pass on one job, a big series job with potentially lots of work, because I wasn’t familiar with color grading in Avid.  And passing on that gig still burns because when you’re freelance, and the economy sucks, you never ever ever want to leave money on the table, especially not a potentially long term, well-paying gig like color grading a 24-part series.  But I digress.

Luckily, Julie Antepli of Splice and Dice fame has written a wonderful workflow article for Retouched.net describing her approach to grading with Avid’s color correction toolset.  You can view her IMDB profile here which includes work on national broadcast shows as colorist / online editor for episodes of Criss Angels Mindfreak, Coolio’s Rules, and Black. White. She’s also got an arm’s length of editing credits to her name so you know Julie knows her stuff.  And man, I wish she’d been in the second grading suite down the hall so I could’ve picked her brain a few times, because after reading her article the differences between grading in Avid and grading in Apple Color are merely button-based; the concepts are all the same, it’s just a matter of which buttons you push to yield similar results.

Some of Julie’s wisdom-filled nuggets include gems like:

and like:

The whole article is worth a read so head over there and get the full rundown.  I’m keeping it linked here on my blog for the next time an Avid shop wants me to grade on their Nitris DX.

proactively • thanks for the great write-up Julie • peter

Disclosure, to comply with the FTC’s new rules

None of the manufacturers listed above are paying Peter Salvia to write this article and, so far, none have sent him any samples or demonstration items.  Peter is a B&H Sales Affiliate and receives a commission from items linked to B&H and purchased through this site.  Oh yeah, and he’s an Apple Certified Trainer so you can derive his bias for yourself.

14
Jul
10

sony nex-vg10 = no 24p but so what?

So Sony appears to have called firsties with the just announced NEX-VG10 camcorder which will accept interchangeable lenses having Sony’s A-mount and E-mounts.  From the press release:

Coupled with Sony’s powerful BIONZ® processor, the camcorder’s Exmor™ APS HD CMOS sensor realizes high resolution video and 14 megapixel still images. Approximately 19.5 times bigger than the standard sensor found in conventional camcorders, the APS HD CMOS sensor enables an extremely shallow depth of field. This allows videographers to achieve cinematic results with stunning background defocus (bokeh). Users can also enjoy DSLR-quality photo capture with features like Auto HDR, Handheld Twilight, and Anti Motion Blur, as well as catch fast action sequences with a continuous burst rate of up to seven fps.

The NEX-VG10 can capture full 1920×1080 high definition video at up to 24Mbps for amazing clarity and detail, ideal for recording on to Blu-ray Disc™ media. It also comes with an E-mount 18-200mm lens optimized for video shooting that offers a powerful 11x optical zoom in addition to a silent auto-focus system and Optical Steadyshot™ image stabilization with Active Mode for superior versatility.

Also noteworthy is the flip out display (dontcha wish Canon put one of these on the 5d & 7D?) and the super nice built in mic.  Also from the press release:

Its Quad Capsule Spatial Array Stereo Microphone uses advanced processing algorithms to combine signals from four individual microphone capsules. The result is exceptionally clear stereo audio with high directional response, allowing videographers to capture more sound from their subject and less background noise. The camcorder also features dedicated inputs for optional external microphones and headphones to monitor sound levels.

Seems like Sony is listening to the indie filmmakers out there… kind of.  The exclusion of 24p seems like Sony missed the first 12 months of Canon HDSLR users chanting for it.  But, it didn’t stop people from working with 30p.  And 1080/60i is the default delivery format for most broadcasters so they are making life simpler, just not arty-er.

Click here for the Engadget write-up, here for some sweet pics and here for a list of A-mount & E-mount lenses from Adorama so you can start researching.

proactively • peter

Disclosure, to comply with the FTC’s new rules

None of the manufacturers listed above are paying Peter Salvia to write this article and, so far, none have sent him any samples or demonstration items.  Peter is a B&H Sales Affiliate and receives a commission from items linked to B&H and purchased through this site.  Oh yeah, and he’s an Apple Certified Trainer so you can derive his bias for yourself.

02
Jul
10

the tao of color grading

Fellow FCP-L’er, ColorList’er and FXPHD classmate Patrick Inhofer has launched a new website The Tao of Color Grading.  Previously, I was only aware of Patrick’s fini.tv site so this is a solid step up into the online training business.

He’s running a special offer for the first training series covering the Euphonix MC Color control panel.  I have had great experiences corresponding and learning with Patrick over the years and wish him the best in this new endeavor.

And as you can see, Patrick knows a thing or two about how to grade which makes The Tao of Color Grading inherently worth checking out.

proactively • peter

Disclosure, to comply with the FTC’s new rules

None of the manufacturers listed above are paying Peter Salvia to write this article and, so far, none have sent him any samples or demonstration items.  Peter is a B&H Sales Affiliate and receives a commission from items linked to B&H and purchased through this site.  Oh yeah, and he’s an Apple Certified Trainer so you can derive his bias for yourself.




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