ChungMedia

Larry Becker of Kelby One reviews the Canon 7D mkII for B+H Photo – AF speed adjust for video demonstrated

By site editor Dan Chung:

The 7D mkII may not be much of a revolution in video image quality – by all accounts it is very similar to its sister the 5D mkII but with a smaller sensor. But as I previously highlighted, the one new feature that the camera has that may turn out to be a significant technological advance is the new speed adjustable video autofocus system. Essentially the same Dual-Pixel CMOS AF system found in the 70D and optionally on the C100 and C300, Canon engineers have added the ability to control how fast the AF adjusts to a change in focus point. You can select a slower, more graceful focus pull, or a faster one to get you there in a hurry.

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You can see how this works in the video review by Larry Becker of Kelby One for B+H. About half way through he shows a clip of the system working. Although the clip isn’t very long it does amply demonstrate the potential. Becker does point out that the 7D mkII doesn’t have the focus via touch screen that is so useful on the 70D. This is a real shame because changing the focus point on the 7D mkII requires toggling with buttons – far less usable than touch focus. Without the touchscreen I don’t think the full potential of the speed adjustable focus can be realised. You can I believe achieve something similar using Canon’s remote software connected on tablet or computer connected via USB – but this is nowhere near as convenient. So for the 7D mkII this is an opportunity missed.

The Canon 7D mkII with 18-135mm STM lens

The Canon 7D mkII with 18-135mm STM lens

Still, what is significant to me is that Canon clearly have this technology at their fingertips and, if they choose, they can put it into their next generation of Cinema EOS cameras. They have been long-time leaders in the field of AF technology and their EOS line of lenses are better suited to the task of video AF than other manufacturers. Their STM line of quieter, smoother lenses has also been increased lately, and non STM lenses like the 35mm f2 L IS are also getting quieter. I think we can expect to see quieter, smoother professional lenses at some point soon.

Sony’s FS7 has all the latest 4K technology and great ergonomics – but I don’t expect the autofocus system to rival the C300. Autofocus is the one area Canon could comfortably maintain an advantage. Lets see what next year brings.

Edit: below is a video from Canon that is shot using the 7D mkII and the speed adjustable AF:

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Posted on October 9th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Canon 7D mkII | Permalink | Comments (0)

Video advice from top DPs Janusz Kaminski, Phedon Papamichael, ASC and Wally Pfister, ASC on offer from Advanced Filmaking

By site editor Dan Chung:

Advanced Filmmaking Trailer from ADVANCED FILMMAKING on Vimeo.

There are plenty of options for online filmmaking training these days. Several top DPs including Shane Hurlbut and Vincent Laforet have run successful workshops tours and online courses.

Now top industry figures Janusz Kaminski, Phedon Papamichael, ASC and Wally Pfister, ASC have come together to form a new online offering called Advanced Filmmaking. It comprises more than twelve hours of lectures and interviews that offer practical advice for aspiring cinematographers.

Oscar winner Pfister is perhaps best know for his work on with Christopher Nolan on the Batman series of films, Memento and Inception.

Kaminski was the cinematographer for Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, Lincoln, War Horse, Jurassic Park, Munich, Minority Report, Catch me if you can and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Papamichael’s at the beginning of his feature career worked for a DOP for Roger Corman. Lensing seven of his films within two years. His later works include Nebraska, The Monuments Men, The Descendants, The Ides of March and W.

The training also includes interviews and advice from other well known people within the industry. Have a look at the clip from Wim Wenders.

The course is not intended as a replacement for going to film school. In their own publicity Advanced Filmmaking describe themselves as “An invaluable complement to traditional cinematography education, these practical tools provide fascinating insight into how three top pros think about their work, their careers, their tools and their collaborators in the real world of filmmaking.”

There are currently several videos from Advanced Filmmaking available to rent now on Vimeo on Demand.

To learn more go to http://www.advancedfilmmaking.com

Posted on October 9th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Training | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blackmagic Design adds in-camera media formatting to the Pocket Cinema Camera and original BMCC

By site editor Dan Chung:

bmcc 40mm 11-16

Owners of Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera and original BMCC are likely to be very happy today. At long last the company have added support for in-camera formatting of media to their Pocket Cinema Camera and original Cinema Camera with the launch of their latest 1.9.7 camera utility.

Formatting a SD card in the BMPCC

Formatting a SD card in the BMPCC

The function was the remaining key feature that many users considered as essential. By allowing in-camera formatting of SD cards in the BMPCC and SSD drives in the original Cinema Camera the update brings them into line with the newer 4K Production Camera.

Here is the from the Blackmagic Design website:

About Blackmagic Camera Utility:

This software package allows you to update your Blackmagic Camera to the latest software release for new features, bug fixes and other enhancements.

Please ensure that your camera is plugged into mains power before running the software update.

What’s new in Blackmagic Camera Utility 1.9.7
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
• Adds in-camera SD card formatting support
Blackmagic Cinema Camera
• Adds in-camera SSD formatting support
Blackmagic Production Camera 4K
• Improves in-camera formatting support
Blackmagic Studio Camera 4K
• No changes
Blackmagic URSA
• No changes
Blackmagic Studio Camera
• No changes

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Posted on October 8th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Blackmagic design | Permalink | Comments (0)

IBC 2014 live show replay: Philip Grossman films Chernobyl nuclear disaster zone with the Sony FS700 and DJI quadcopters

By site editor Dan Chung:

At the IBC show this year we spoke to Philip Grossman, a documentary maker who has been pursuing his dream to make a film about the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The reactor breach in April 1986 led to a radioactive fallout that caused much of the surrounding area to be evacuated. Fewer than fifty people officially died in the accident, but the subsequent death toll due to radiation exposure is unknown – predictions put the number of cancer deaths in the thousands. Increased numbers of deformities at birth in the fallout zone in both humans and animals are attributed by many to the radiation leak.

Chernobyl reactor No.4

Chernobyl reactor No.4

A large concrete sarcophagus was built over the failed reactor an in the ensuing decades the surrounding area has been sealed off. Few journalists or documentary makers have been granted access to the site, which after the fall of the Soviet Union, is now in Ukraine.

Grossman, who in his day job works at the Weather channel, travelled to the site and managed to secure permission to shoot footage both from the ground and the air for his upcoming documentary. Watch the replay of our Teradek live show at IBC to learn about his experiences.

Philip Grossman in protective clothing ready to enter the Bsmt Jupiter Factory

Philip Grossman in protective clothing ready to enter the Bsmt Jupiter Factory

The Sony FS700 with Tilta rig and Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q recorder

The Sony FS700 with Tilta rig and Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q recorder

As he explains, the cameras used for the shoot were Sony’s FS700 and Z100 camcorder, as well as a Panasonic GH4 shooting in 4K for B-roll. On recent trips the FS700 has been equipped with Convergent Design’s Odyssey 7Q external recorder. Grossman also used DJI quadcopters extensively during the filming and this footage gives a dramatic perspective not seen before.

The town of Pripyat viewed from the air

The town of Pripyat viewed from the air

Hospital No. 126, Pripyat

Hospital No. 126, Pripyat

Grossman also shot in the town of Pripyat, which although right next to reactor was not immediately evacuated after the accident. Within hours of the explosion many townsfolk were exposed and fell ill. Below is Grossman’s quick cut footage shot from the Basement Hospital No. 126 in Pripyat. He describes on the video description that “you can here the Geiger counter turn on…the levels got over 2,000 μSv (normal background radiation is 0.2 μSv)”.

After several trips to the zone filming for Grossman’s documentary is nearly complete. I for one look forward to seeing the finished film when its done.

Filming in the zone with the Sony Z100 camcorder

Filming in the zone with the Sony Z100 camcorder

Posted on October 6th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: documentary, Drones, Panasonic GH4, Sony FS700 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Matt Hopkins and Ben Lankester on shooting feature doc ‘A Divorce Before Marriage’ on RED

Guest post by Matt Hopkins and Ben Lankester: 

We’ve recently released the first trailer for our debut feature documentary ‘A Divorce Before Marriage’, following the Leeds band I Like Trains in the three years after the loss of their record deal. This is a band who have flirted with success, but have ultimately had to find ways to make a living outside of their music. The film captures the bittersweet story of musicians fighting away between greatness and obscurity, but we hope it to be a definitive account of what it means to be a creative person in Britain today.

A Divorce Before Marriage – Official Trailer from A Divorce Before Marriage on Vimeo.

To complete the film, we’ve turned to Kickstarter to raise much needed funds for the final leg of the journey.  The project has received overwhelming support, reaching the £16k target before the halfway point. This figure was always the bare minimum we needed to finish the film and we are now working towards a revised target of £25k which will really allow us to make the film that we want to make!

Over the next few weeks we’re going to share our experiences of making the film, looking in particular at making a feature doc on RED over an extended period with just a two person crew – starting with our shooting experiences and the cameras we used. 

The RED ONE in action

The RED ONE in action

We started production in early 2012 using a Sony F3 to capture the band in the studio recording their 3rd album. Although the results looked good, we quickly realized that the project was going to be a long undertaking and with a lot of talk of the importance of 4K flying around, we knew the only way to make sure we didn’t regret our initial camera choice was to go for the best we could get from the outset.  

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So, we quickly switched to using a RED ONE MX, which we hired from Conrad at North Yorkshire Camera Hire. Immediately we knew RED was the way to go for this film, simply for the outstanding image quality, and the future-proofing that shooting at 4K brought. However, we also realized that following a band around with a RED ONE and just two people was not an easy undertaking.

Firstly – the weight of the camera needed us to be prepared to break our bodies to get the shot, something Ben did many times over.

Secondly – we had to be extremely careful with when we chose to shoot. As opposed to DSLR, the RED takes a lot more time to turn on, set up and roll and produces vastly greater file sizes, so you can only shoot for a limited amount of time. We’d watch the band working away for hours, ready to shoot whenever we thought we might have some film-worthy material.  

We also made a commitment to capture everything on Prime Lenses (Zeiss ZF) and ensure all our shots were locked off on a tripod. The pace and feel of the film was to be steady yet beguilingly beautiful, so every shot was carefully considered, even if capturing live action.

In short, shooting documentary on the RED ONE was a logistical nightmare, but the resulting footage was worth every ounce of pain. It also made us really consider every frame we were capturing, which is a discipline that actually gets thrown out of the window on many documentary projects.

At this point it would be worth talking about sound. Shooting the film in personal settings (work, home, on tour) meant that we had to remain as discreet as possible, despite shooting on a large format camera. We found that booming sound was a big problem in such situations so we quickly reverted to using just wireless mics wherever possible.

The original Zoom H4n based sound kit

The original Zoom H4n based sound kit

Initially we used three Zoom H4n’s with Sennheisser EW100 G3 wireless mics on each of the band members. As you can see below, this became quite messy, so we upgraded to the Roland R88 eight-channel recorder and mixer, which became an invaluable addition to our kit, making it far more straightforward to monitor and capture multiple mic feeds at one time, depending on where our camera was pointed.  

The Roland R88 simplified things

The Roland R88 simplified things

Moving on from shooting with the RED ONE, we were able to use North Yorkshire Camera Hire’s RED EPIC when they purchased one late on in 2012. Although the picture quality remained largely the same, the camera was a lot lighter, which helped when we went on tour with the band. At one point the crew was down to just Matt for a few days, so we had to strip back the EPIC to its bare bones while he carried a Zoom H4n with wireless mics around in his pocket.  

Shooting on EPIC

Shooting on EPIC

The EPIC did suffer from overheating issues during long takes, which caused us some problems with the internal fan coming on in the middle of takes, not least during a live radio recording of the band in Munich (which left the station’s technicians unimpressed), but in all, it was a lot more doc-friendly than the RED ONE.

For the final leg of the film, we’ve enlisted Cinematographer and RED EPIC DRAGON owner Matt Shaw Using the Dragon has returned us to a weight similar to the RED ONE, but it has again allowed us to increase the quality further with its mammoth 6K sensor (more to follow about editing 6K footage later). Matt also worked with Arri Ultra Primes, which again increased the quality (and weight).

We’ve just returned from one of our final scenes with the band, shooting at the Beacons Festival in the Yorkshire Dales. We had to be particularly lightweight for this shoot so we exchanged the set of Prime lenses for the Angenieux Optimo 28-76mm cine zoom lens, which was a godsend for us shooting a variety of scenes around the festival. If we were to make the film again, this might be the one piece of kit we would have used in place of Prime Lenses.

The Angenieux Optimo 28-76mm cine zoom on the EPIC

The Angenieux Optimo 28-76mm cine zoom on the EPIC

Having self-funded the film so far (pre-Kickstarter), we’ve often been asked whether we should have bought a camera as opposed to renting. Of course it may have been more cost effective, but with renting, we have been able to embrace the developments within the RED camera range over the three years. The real testament to RED’s original ONE camera is that the footage stands up seamlessly against the newer models. The advances have come in the usability of the cameras, which is huge, but if you are on a budget and willing to go through the pain of using such an archaic camera, we’d recommend it hands down.

Next time we’ll be sharing thoughts on the editing of the film and how it has evolved through three non-linear editors (FCP, Premiere CS6 and now CC) and the lessons we’ve learnt working with and storing such huge amounts of data.

If you like the sound of our film, please do share our Kickstarter and help support our project. We need as much help as we can get as we work towards our mid-October deadline.
 
On the Kickstarter page you’ll find a lot more information about the making of the film as well as options to pre-buy the film, merchandise, take on a co-producer credits or even buy Ben’s beloved car.

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Posted on October 4th, 2014 by Matthew Hopkins | Category: 4K, documentary, Red | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sony Catalyst Browse software released for download

By technical editor Matt Allard:

catalyst 5

We recently gave you a glimpse of Sony’s new Catalyst Browse at IBC and now the product is available for download.

Catalyst Browse is a free, clip-management tool specifically designed for Sony camcorders and decks such as CineAlta, SR, XDCAM and NXCAM series, this includes cameras like the new FS7.  Versions are available in both Windows and Mac OSX. Sony always prided themselves on good end-to-end solutions from capture to delivery, but in recent years the software has been poorly designed and not very user friendly. There were just too many ingest and viewing applications – XDCAM viewer, Content Browser, SR viewer and Sony RAW viewer all did similar things but for different codecs. The new Catalyst Browse and Catalyst Prepare are supposed to streamline and replace all those products. 

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Catalyst Prepare is not available yet and is supposed to compliment Catalyst Browse with the addition of image enhancements, backup and metadata options. Prepare will also allow you to assemble a rough cut. Catalyst Browse is free but Sony will charge $199 for Catalyst Prepare when it ships.

I think Sony will have a tough sell trying to charge customers $199 for Catalyst Prepare – a piece of software that is primarily designed to make their products fit into a regular workflow. After all, if Blackmagic can give you Davinci Resolve for free then how can Sony charge $199 for something less fully specified? Customers who paid a lot of money for Sony cameras are likely expecting free software at this point.

Anyway let’s have a look at what you do get for free. Catalyst Browser offers the following: 

• Browse — Quickly browse the files on your device using a thumbnail view or detailed list.
• View — See the details of each clip, check focus, mark in and out points, adjust colors, and edit metadata.
• Fast Copy — Copy all clips on the media, a subset, or only the desired portion of a clip to save time and space.
• Ultra Wide Color Gamut — Review with confidence the full range of color captured by your S-Log and RAW Sony cameras. Apply color looks, and import/export standard ASC-CDL files with other workflow tools to save time.
• Clip Lists — Create, import, and export Sony Professional Disc clip lists for quick play-out needs.
• Transcode and Cloud Upload — Transcode clips to the most popular video production formats. Upload clips directly to the Sony Ci media cloud for collaborative team review.
• OpenCL GPU accelerated video engine for smooth playback and fast rendering
• Precise color engine featuring ultra wide color gamut and large dynamic range capabilities for previewing and adjusting S-Log, S-Log2, S-Log-3, RAW, and Rec.709 source footage
• Comprehensive format support for all the Sony Professional cameras. 

I downloaded the software and have found it far easier to use than the muddled and complicated interface of Content Browser, which it replaces. It also replaces SR Viewer which was an equally horrible piece of software. Catalyst Browse provides a much more user friendly interface but I did have the program crash on me on several occasions without warning. 

Previewing clips is easy in Catalyst Browse

Previewing clips is easy in Catalyst Browse

One of the great new features is the ability to easily copy your material or transcode formats like XAVC to more popular codecs such as Apple ProRes. There is however no way of transcoding to anything higher than 2K resolution into ProRes.

Transcoding to Apple ProRes is a welcome option

Transcoding to Apple ProRes is a welcome option

You can also transcode to MP4 variants for uploading to the web or to put directly onto a iPad etc. – possibly useful for rapid sending of rushes in news situations. There is also the ability to transcode into variants of XAVC or DPX files. 

Basic adjustments can be made in the software

Basic adjustments can be made in the software

Built into the program is also the ability to do basic colour correction and have split screen views etc. You can view the material in an ultra wide colour gamut, but because this gamut pretty much exceeds all displays out there, what you actually see is always going to limited by the monitor you are using. You can apply basic colour correction and then import/export standard ASC-CDL files to use later on. 

Camera metadata is easily viewed

Camera metadata is easily viewed

There are various other features including the ability to view the material at any size as well as view with an anamorphic squeeze and horizontal or vertical flip. You can also listen to and pan up to 4 channels of audio – another good feature. 

Catalyst Browse looks like a good step in the right direction for Sony. Hopefully it will make the process of reviewing, browsing, copying and transcoding your material just a little bit easier. 

To download Catalyst Browse go to this link.

Posted on October 2nd, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: NLE, Sony, Sony a7S, Sony F3, Sony F5, Sony F55, Sony FS100, Sony FS7, Sony FS700 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Convergent Design drop $500 off the price of their Odyssey7Q recorder

By technical editor Matt Allard:

The Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q on a Sony FS700 with Westside AV shoulder rig

The Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q on a Sony FS700 with Westside AV shoulder rig

Convergent Design is the latest company to deep discount one of their existing products, by taking $500 off the price of their highly rated Odyssey 7Q external recorder. The unit will retail for $1795 US for a limited time – a saving of more than 20%.

The company said that due to the huge demand for their products they sold thousands more units than anticipated. To celebrate this success they say they are passing on a discount to new customers. There is no word on what “For a limited time” actually means, but if your in the market for a 7Q for your FS700 or C500 now is probably the right time to buy. Sure, a new or upgraded version is bound to come along at some point, but if the current one does what you need and you want it right now, then it makes sense to go with the current one.

Interestingly, the price reduction makes the 7Q only $500 more than its lower specified sister the Odyssey7

With the recent price drop by Sony of the FS700, you can now buy a powerful combination of camera and external recorder for around $8000 – much cheaper than the combined price just a few weeks ago. The FS700/7Q provides an interesting alternative for those who were perhaps looking at the new FS7. 

For more information visit the Convergent Design website.

This from Convergent Design:
Odyssey7Q is a brilliant 7.7″ OLED monitor with 3400:1 contrast, true blacks, 1280×800 resolution and comprehensive monitoring tools. It’s also the best and most versatile portable recorder available on the market, enabling you to record HD Apple ProRes 422 (HQ), 4K Apple ProRes, Uncompressed, Sony FS7/FS700 RAW, Canon C500 4K RAW, ARRIRAW and POV RAW. For a limited time, Odyssey7Q is available for $1795, a $500 savings. The best just keeps on getting better!

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Posted on October 1st, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: 4K, External recorders | Permalink | Comments (1)

Panasonic release new GH4 firmware: Multi-aspect video shooting becomes a reality for budget anamorphic shooting

By technical editor Matt Allard:

gh4 4k multi

Panasonic have released firmware version 2.0 for the GH4. This is a major release that adds multi-aspect video recording – a major boon for fans of anamorphic lens shooting who will gain from increased vertical resolution when compared to a regular 4K frame.

The GH4 in 4K photo mode (in Japanese menu)

The GH4 in 4K photo mode (in Japanese menu)

Called 4K photo mode the function records video in 4:3, 3:2 and 1:1 aspect ratios and is primarily designed to allow photographers to grab stills from the moving images – this should be great for Anamorphic shooters too, but are some major catches.

The different aspect ratios of the GH4 4K photo mode

The different aspect ratios of the GH4 4K photo mode

In this mode the camera cannot record the cinema standard 24P, only 30P and 25P on PAL cameras. Additionally recording is limited to the MP4 format and the HDMI output is disabled. Even so this should be an interesting way for anamorphic shooters to utilise more of the sensor with the GH4 when outputting in the commonly used aspect ratios. There is a good primer on anamorphic shooting on wikipedia for those who aren’t familiar with the concepts.

The aspect ratios are:

[4:3] (Size: 3328 x 2496)
[3:2] (Size: 3504 x 2336)
[16:9] (Size: 3840 x 2160)
[1:1] (Size: 2880x 2880)

In addition to the multi-aspect shooting the new firmware also adds 4K 23.98 fps MP4 recording at 100 Mbps.

Here is the complete set of new features:

1. [4K PHOTO] mode is added which records 4K video exclusively for capturing a frame to save as a photo.
◦ Settings can be adjusted as below when entering this mode.
- Rec Format : MP4
- Rec Quality : 4K 30p, 100Mbps (System Frequency 59.94Hz),
 4K 25p, 100Mbps (System Frequency 50.00Hz)
- Luminance Level:0-255
◦ In addition to 16:9 aspect, 4:3 / 3:2 / 1:1 can be selected.
◦ Exif information is embedded to the captured image from the 4K video.
◦ Marking function is available enables marker setting on the designated point while recording video and users can jump to the markers when playing back the video to capture the frame they want.
◦ Loop Recording function is added, with which the camera keeps on recording video while deleting the old footage automatically.
2. 4K 23.98p, 100Mbps mode is added in MP4 video recording.
3. The upper limit of the ISO sensitivity can be set in the menu of ISO sensitivity setting and emission amount of flash light can be adjusted in the menu of exposure compensation.
4. Focusing performance of 1-area AF in video recording is improved.
5. Tracking performance of tracking AF when used with the interchangeable lens H-FS14140 is improved.
6. Remote shooting via USB tethering is available by using PC software “USB Tether” supplied by Promote Systems.
*For more information on Promote Systems, please visit 
http://www.promotesystems.com/

There is more information from Panasonic available here.

Posted on October 1st, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: 4K, Anamorphic, Panasonic GH4 | Permalink | Comments (0)

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