Posts Tagged ‘Stu Maschwitz


gorillapod focus incoming

After seeing it featured in FXPHD’s DOP210 – DSLR Cinematography featuring Stu Maschwitz, and after returning from my first weekend doc shoot with the 5dmarkii, I’ve decided to plunk down for the Gorillapod Focus.

Joby Gorillapod Focus - Flexible Mini-Tripod

I’m most attracted to it’s discreet (ok, somewhat), portable and infinitely manipulatable nature.  It was so cool interviewing people with the 5dmarkii and getting the question Oh does that camera shoot video? I would answer Sometimes but I’m also taking a lot of stills.  And while I was mainly shooting video, this response put people at ease to a level I’ve never experienced while shooting with an HVX-200, XHA1, or even my super low profile HV-30.  I interpret the reason to be when people see a video camera they feel they have to always be on.  So when they see a HD SLR they feel that they will be photographed mostly.

Which is a long winded way to say I don’t want a traditional tripod to foul up the appearance of a low key camera shoot.  Find some good natural light at a park bench with the Canon 16-35 or 24-70 L series glass on the front, stabalize with the Gorillapod Focus, slap the Zoom H4n recorder on the table next to it (hopefully with a Sennheiser G3 wireless lav or the like) and get that casual, natural on camera interview footage that would otherwise require a crew of 2 -4 people, lights, and all the money and ceremony that accompanies those things.

Joby Ballhead X (Black)

I haven’t plunked down for the Ballhead X yet, trying to be as stingy as possible with the green I’m investing in my 5dmarkii kit, but I can definitely see it being a next month purchase.  Want to try using the new Gorillapod Focus on the bike and the sailboat first, see how it does in the wild on its own.

proactively • one hand for the camera, one hand for the boat • 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.


breaking down the demo reel

When I started out on this project, I found cutting my demo reel to be a bit daunting.  Not only did I need to decide what footage to show, I needed to come up with a format, make footage selections,  and satisfy myself that it was (is) ready for prime time.  The next gig could be riding on all of these decisions, so no pressure.  While I admit this post will be self-promoting at the core, I hope this conversation with myself about how I developed and cut my demo reel will be of some help when you’re putting your own reel together.

First things first, the reel needed to be a minute or less.  I have no problem asking a minute of anyone’s time, whether they are a Network VP, President of a Production House, or my next door neighbor.  What I don’t want is to present someone with a 10 minute masterpeice.  At a certain point no matter how good my (your) work is, people are going to get bored and move on to something more important to them (like what they’re having for lunch).  Plus, if the reel’s good enough and a bit on the short side, maybe the person looking at it will watch it a second time.  In that scenario, you’ve only taken 2 minutes of their time which hopefully transitions to the “what is your day rate” conversation.

Unless you’re doing a compilation reel (like Stu’s), you’re going to need a music bed.  I’m a story editor  and colorist and compiling any meaningful stories into 1 minute is a bit of an exercise in futility,  so I put the music decision at the top of my list.  I figure the music will drive the montage and if the reel gets a client interested I can always point them to a couple work samples (when / if they ask to see them).  Understand that your music selection for your reel will be, as my high school trigonometry teacher liked to say, indelibly etched in your brain matter.  Equally important to consider is this music could be playing in a meeting room full of suits, a Starbucks, a living room with little kids in it or what have you, so consider your target audience before cutting your best work to The Humpty Dance.

The Sonics

I’d been listening to the Black Keys cover Have Love Will Travel by The Sonics and  felt the song fit me to a tee; editing is what I love to do and I will travel to do it.  Also, my most recent work was all done at the Travel Channel so it fit.  Bonusly, I dig the raw, retro-punk vibe.  And once I started editing the song my first music bed cut mystically landed at 00:59;29.  With a pro-cisely 1-minute duration I figured I must be doing something right, and if not then heck, just go with it anyways.

Then came the task of putting all my work into one project.  Yeesh, this is where I had to come up with an organizational theme.  I decided to group all my work samples into client bins; Richfield Productions and other corporate videos, Discovery New Media, Travel Channel, HGTV, etc.

sequence setting

Next I had to decide what sequence setting to conform all of my work samples to.  Cutting a demo reel is a great example of a project pulling from multiple video sources.  I based my decision on the intended output (Vimeo) and then worked backwards.  A 16×9 aspect ratio would be ideal for my HD sources and an easy conform for my SD letterbox sources.  And then there were the source video codec issues: Apple ProRes HQ, XDCam, DCVPRO HD, Animation, DV NTSC 25, MPEg-2 from DVD, etc.  I decided on DV NTSC for my sequence codec because 4:1:1 720×480 would be a fine mezzanine, or middle ground, codec to conform my video sources to and edit together into a sequence before transcoding for Vimeo.

The trickiest part of the conform would be for my 4:3 SD video sources.  But my most recent work is all HD, my best work is either HD or 16:9 letterboxed.  After some hard thinking and hair pulling I was able to figure on using just two shots of 4:3 SD source video (above) and looked at it as an opportunity to be a little creative and show some options for potential clients.  Ergo,   Additionally, a lot of my SD work is 4:3 letterboxed and some is plain stinky 4:3.  Which all lead me to choose DV NTSC Anamorphic for my sequence setting. For starters, this will be going to the Vimeo with a compression setting of 640×360 at 1.5Mbps or so.  Secondly, it fits all my 16:9 work easily and my teeny bit of 4:3 work creatively.  But thirdly, and maybe just as important as secondly, it meant faster renders for my 3D Motion project.

3D Motion proj end example

I have to start this part of the demo reel dissection with an emphatic GO CHECK OUT MARK SPENCER’S APPLEMOTION.NET.  Mark’s FREE tutorial, how to create the reflection effect and his $99 Ripple Training Motion 3 Deep Dive, were ESSENTIAL to figuring out how I wanted to build my 3D sets and animate my camera.  Got sweep?

splash page w camera

This whole 3D tangent leads to the core of my demo reel: the presentation of skill sets.  Some people are focusing on editing, others on color correction, some on compositing and graphic design.  You get the idea.  I have four major skill sets with solid broadcast credits behind them that I want my demo reel to showcase: editing, color correcting, producing, and training.  What better way to showcase them than to literally put them on stage?  Well, that’s what I came up with at least.

So now I had 4 skill sets that I could outline to music and figured I would have the triumphant Sonics “ooooooWOW” land on a splash page with my contact info.  That means 4 sets over 56 seconds with an end animated camera flying through all 4 sets and landing on a 5th set.  But my english major background told me to follow the tried and true outline aproach of “Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em, tell ’em, tell em what you’ve told em.”  And this lead to the beginning of my peice with the animated camera zooming to, then sweeping around, each skill set stage.  At the end of the musical intro, the camera zooms back through all 4 skill set stages and lands on the stage for the start of the reel.

Once the camera zooms to Ultimate Spring Break, I gave myself timings to do a few simple cut sequences followed by a 3D camera move transition to the next sequence.  There’s a lot of back and forth out there discussing the best way to showcase colorist work.  Patrick Inhofer’s reel is a really good example IMHO:

I settled on the “before and after” technique to best display my colorist work.  It’s been the most well received piece of the reel (followed closely by the 3D transitions).  But back to the approach, I decided it was best to finish with a 3D camera move landing on my contact info.  Hey, the whole point of a reel is to have people call you up, right?

Hope this write up has helped you with your own brainstorm.  Whether you love it, hate it, feel bleh about it, hopefully now your approach to cutting your own reel will be less overwhelming.

proactively • hope this helps • peter


the orphanage closing its doors…


Very sad post from Stu Maschwitz over at ProLost.  His company, The Orphanage, is closing its doors indefinitely. Most recently, Stu and The Orphanage produced Frank Miller’s The Spirit, 300, and Sin City. Along with Shane Ross over at Little Frog in High Def, Stu’s ProLost blog has been a huge influence on my blog game, inspiring me to attempt to walk in his footsteps and share production knowledge for the sake of bettering our community and the industry.


Here’s a short, classy excerpt from Stu’s post:

It’s no accident that our company’s name described a place for people, people who may be thrown together, but who ultimately create their own destinies. Scott once described his vision of an orphanage as “a hundred success stories waiting to happen,” and that is exactly what came to pass inside our offices. We have had the privilege of working with many “Orphans” over the years, and watching them grow and take on new responsibilities has been the single greatest part of coming to work every day.

A message to the visual effects industry: You will never find a better employee than a former Orphan.

Good luck to you, Mr. Maschwitz, and to all the Orphans out there.

proactively • peter


dslr cinematography – resources

Inaugural chaos here in the northwest DC suburbs followed by a helluva cold have kept me out of the blog game for a hot minute.  But while I’ve been defragging, so to speak, I did a bit of looking around at the various communities forming out there focused on making films with the Canon 5D Mark II and other DSLR cameras shooting video.


I first learned about reading Stu Maschwitz’s latest blog post.  Check out Stu’s post for a lot of great examples of the black crush issue many 5dmarkii users have been talking about.  Stu found out about the fix for this issue thanks to Keith Paisley’s cinema5d forum post.  Essentially, download QT 7.6 and *presto* no more black crush.  Of course, if you’re mid project you might not want to change anything because you will seriously alter any color grades you’ve made so far.  And also, be careful for any other upgrade gotchas changing your QT version may introduce into your system.

dvinfo has created a new subforum: Canon EOS 5D Mark II for HD.  I’ve found this to be a very cool forum where video guys are looking at a still camera.  Got a question about steadicams, xlr adapters, or anything else a DoP might know post it here.


Oppositely, over at the still photography guys (and girls I’m sure, sorry ladies) are looking at the video capabilities as a whole new world opening before them.  If you’ve got a question about lenses, flashes, or anything else still-photog-centric, this is the place to ask.

If you’ve got another great DSLR cinematography resource post a comment and share!  I leave you with a little bit of 5dmarkii holy-moly compliments of renowned wild bird photographer Romy Ocon

proactively • uncrushing the blacks in color, just a smidge • peter


redrelay – awesome red footage resource


Just found RedRelay while reading Stu Maschwitz’ latest ProLost post talking about the subway short trend. RedRelay looks to be a great resource for getting your hands on RED footage to cut & grade.

All the comprehensive info describing how each clip was shot makes this site a great learning resource as well. You can download RED footage, iPhone versions of the clips, tiffs, and even follow a hotlink to the related reduser thread. Awesome.


Now go download some RED footage and put that Color 1.0.3 update to use.

proactively • loving this site • peter


To do that grading in Color, you will of course need to get the RED FCS2 Installer…


…and the RED Quicktime Codec.


Oliver Peters posts to the FCP-L:

The new RED FCS2 Installer at includes a workflow white paper. This new installer adds some native functionality when working with .R3D files in FCP and Color. You must have done the most recent ProApps update before installing the new RED components. Even if you don’t actually run the RED installer, it’s worthwhile to download the archive file and review this PDF white paper.

And here’s a sneak peek of the white paper for your enjoyment:



blog bomb – red scarlet & red epic


Good lord… just follow this link. Pictures galore and everything spelled out in red, err black & white.

proactively • getting back to blogging • peter


Can’t think of a better person to put this RED and Canon 5dmarkii technological whirlwind into perspective than the infamous Bob Zelin . On today’s FCP-L, he posts:
…most people on this list have been made aware of the Canon EOS D5 Mk II camera which is going
right after the Red Scarlet market. And believe me – there will be others – LOTS OF THEM, and they will all
be great, and they will all be cheap.

What I do realize is that a DIFFERENT TYPE OF WORKFLOW is about to happen. It’s already started to happen with Panasonic P2, Sony XDCam EX, Sony XDCam HD, and of course RED. And now Canon. And there will be more.

What this means is that the idea of “joe shmo” popping in a tape in his HDV or Beta camera and hitting the record button, and then popping his tape into “VTR-XYZ”, and digitizing – those days are ending.

The people in denial with their stupid Sony Beta VTR’s are the same people that could not deal with the death of CRT monitors, and said that CRT’s would always be made for the professional clients. Just like 1″, just like 3/4″.

The business is changing faster than ever, and believe me, if you are supposed to be an “expert” like me – well, it scares the crap out of me because all of this is a BIG CHANGE in a very short period of time, and it is sure tough for me to learn all this new stuff. I really don’t want to learn Premier, or the XENA product line, but I didnt’ want to learn FCP, and I didn’t want to learn AVID. But I had to, to stay in business, and support myself, and my family.

There will be plenty of those that say “aah – this Red crap, this Adobe stuff -it will never happen”. These people will become unemployed – just like the film editors – just like the linear video editors. HD just started – are there any “low end” film cameramen anymore, that do low to mid budget shoots with an Arri 16SR (I know that all hi end is still 35mm – at least for now).

bob Zelin

***UPDATE 2***

And in case you’re like me and wondering to yourself “What the hell does 28k even mean??!!” Stu Maschwitz over at ProLost put together this simple diagram to help us realize how small we really are:

Check out the rest of Stu’s epic RED coverage here.


blog bomb – 5dmarkii manual posted

Thanks to Paul D. of for the heads up:

Peter, today Canon posted the 5D Mark II manuals:

We’re gettin’ closer!


And of course, we all immediately skip ahead to page 121 to learn how to shoot movies:

Because, we’ve all seen this photo on Stu Maschwitz’s blog

…and we’re saving up all our loose change to get one from redrock micro!

proactively • updating my Christmas wish list • peter


The Orphanage buys a Nucoda Film Master

Stu Maschwitz over at ProLost just posted that his company, The Orphanage, has recently purchased a Nucoda Film Master and used it in the production pipeline for finishing Frank Miller’s new film The Spirit.

It’s always fun to see what tools people with money get to play with, so here’s a thumb of the Film Master interface (click to see full rez):

Looks a bit different from Color’s interface, eh? I can see it has the ability to create user shapes, for starters. And it appears to have a left-to-right node tree under the timeline.

More interesting than the screen shot (ok maybe not) is a very well crafted article by Kevin Shaw titled

Colour Correction, Enhancement & Creativity: Advancing the Craft

His thesis states:

[Colorists] want a high quality, random access source on an open architecture system in a standard format. We want fast, easy access and real time playback and we want the Holy Grail – one master that can produce multiple formats and versions.

It’s interesting to consider the work flow Color presents and take note where it may fall short in the eyes of seasoned and talented colorists out there like Mr. Shaw. I feel lucky enough to have Final Touch / Color available to begin my path down the colorist road.

Even better, Mr. Shaw offers up some definitions in the sidebars:

By color correction I mean adjusting the color balance and contrast of an image to compensate for unwanted flaws or deficiencies in a capture or conversion process, so that the image more closely matches the original. Examples of flaws are overexposure, underexposure, or colorcasts, while deficiencies include limited dynamic range or change of color space. Both labs and telecine suites color correct images.

Color enhancement is a change to the image that does not necessarily reflect reality, but which is intended to add emphasis or meaning to the image. Enhancements may or may not be planned at the shooting stage. Enhancements are usually applied to elements within an image and therefore the implication is that it involves a colorist with a more sophisticated post-production color system.

Color creativity does not have an established industry definition, but I use it here to mean the use of color and contrast to define a look or style that is not necessarily related to the original image, but more to an abstract theme or message. The term therefore is wider in concept than color enhancement, and would include art direction and photography as well as direct color manipulation. In theory it should be a preconceived collaborative effort, but that is not always the case.

It’s really cool to see the big boys showing off their toys and shedding light on what they can do. All I know as far as price point goes is that the Film Master requires Bluefish 444 hardware and Bluefish is notably the most expensive, and highest quality, third party hardware on the market (when compared to a Blackmagic Intensity Pro or the like). So it ain’t cheap.

But then if you’re in the feature biz you aren’t thinking in terms of thousands of dollars, you’ve moved on to money aside, what tool will do the best job thought processes. One can only dream.

proactively • dreaming • peter


NAB Show Blog

I’ve been invited to contribute to the official NAB Show Blog. I’ll be posting info on cool events, gear and apps to check out at this year’s NAB show.

If there’s a something cool you’d like me to write about, post a comment here.


Matrox MXO 2 Drops

RED Camera Workflow Videos

Matrox Booth SL320

RED Camera Booth SL3820

Stu Maschwitz Keynote April 16th S222/223

Ron Brinkmann at The Foundry Booth SL2624

August 2020

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