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Codex working hand in hand with ARRI to deliver better workflow for the ALEXA SXT

By site editor Dan Chung:

The new ALEXA SXT will have adapters for Codex Capture Drives, SxS card and CFast 2.0 Cards

The new ALEXA SXT will have adapters for Codex Capture Drives, SxS card and CFast 2.0 Cards

With the new ARRI ALEXA SXT creating even more data with its new 4K upscaling technologies the company turned to long time partners Codex to provide a reliable workflow solution. The new SXR module slots into the new SXR media bay which Codex developed. This seamlessly integrates SXR and older XR Capture drives, as well as SxS and CFast 2.0 cards.

Here is the full release from Codex:

London, England, March 18, 2015 – Codex (www.codexdigital.com), the industry leader in high-end digital recording and workflow equipment for motion picture and TV production, has once again collaborated with ARRI to develop the recording and workflow system for ARRI’s next evolution of the ALEXA camera – the ALEXA SXT. The companies’ engineering teams worked closely together to create high-performance, integrated recording, plus on-set and near-set data management systems, which combine to deliver a streamlined camera-to-post workflow for the ALEXA SXT range of cameras.

“ARRI is continuing to raise the bar and expand the ALEXA family but they are also protecting their existing customers by offering an upgrade path for ALEXA owners,” said Marc Dando, managing director of Codex. “It’s great to work with ARRI, to set new performance capabilities with our new media, and to show that the ARRI – CODEX partnership is continuing to expand the creative and technical choices available to cinematographers.”

The ALEXA SXT cameras incorporate a new revised Codex recording engine, similar to the system that is built into the new ALEXA 65, and support the latest SXR Capture Drives, which offer a staggering data rate of 20GB/s. Customer’s existing XR Capture Drives will also work with ALEXA SXT cameras. Maximizing flexibility, ALEXA SXT cameras have a new media bay, developed by Codex, that features adaptors for XR and SXR Capture Drives, SxS cards and CFast 2.0 cards.

“Like ARRI, Codex believes in delivering excellent image quality and reliable products to the cinematographic community,” said Franz Kraus, managing director of ARRI. “Having already successfully implemented the in-camera capture technology for the ARRI ALEXA XT, and a solid workflow with Vault, Codex was a natural choice as the workflow developer for ALEXA SXT.”

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Posted on March 18th, 2015 by Dan Chung | Category: 4K, Arri Alexa | Permalink | Comments (0)

ARRI ALEXA SXT – 4K internal recording comes to Hollywood’s favourite camera

By site editor Dan Chung:

alexa_sxt_news

Not content with having pretty much every Oscar winning fiction film shot with their cameras, ARRI have today announced the latest incarnation of the ALEXA. The new ALEXA SXT’s initials stand for ‘Super Xtended Technology’ – I guess we’ll forgive ARRI for the trendy mis-spelling of extended.

The Alexa XT with new Codex capture drive

The Alexa XT with new Codex capture drive

The body of the camera remains the same as the previous incarnations but the internals have been upgraded. Like the AMIRA, the SXT will now record 4K ProRes internally – a nod to those in the industry who have been lobbying for a 4K future. It has the same 3.4K Alev III sensor of previous models the 4K image is created by up-ressing the image in camera. The company believe the results to be superior to many cameras which have a native 4K sensor. One area of difference between the ALEXA SXT and the AMIRA is that the SXT will record DCI compliant 4K (4096 x 2637) resolution as well as the UHD (3840 x 2160) format.

Like the ALEXA XT before it the SXT has Open Gate, 4:3 Anamorphic and Spherical modes.

The processors are still FPGA but said to be improved with better image quality, faster processing and better noise reduction. Recording options are ProRes or ARRIRAW.

There are three independent HD-SDI outputs on the camera – allowing Log and Rec709 to be fed simultaneously to different monitors.

The first ALEXA SXTs should ship mid year and an upgrade module will be available for owners of the Alexa XT, XT Plus and XT Studio cameras. For more info go to www.arri.com

Posted on March 18th, 2015 by Dan Chung | Category: 4K, Arri Alexa | Permalink | Comments (0)

Go Creative Show talks with Martin Ahlgren, DoP for House of Cards season three

By site editor Dan Chung:

house of cards

The latest episode of the Go Creative Show is out and even though this site is usually dedicated to factual shooting, sometimes we can’t help but get excited by tales from the world of fiction. This week the interviewee is none other than Martin Ahlgren, Director of Photography for House of Cards Season 3. Martin talks to host Ben Consoli about lighting, lensing, and creating the absolutely stunning visuals of the hit Netflix show. A absolutely fascinating listen for anyone who is into filmmaking.

Click below to listen in:

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Posted on March 16th, 2015 by Dan Chung | Category: Go Creative show | Permalink | Comments (0)

Poor Man’s Fireworks: Maxim Duncan on jumping from ENG camera to Canon C100

Guest post by Maxim Duncan:

I recently produced a video for the Wall Street Journal on Chinese blacksmiths who hurl molten iron at a massive wall, producing glittering showers of sparks. The tradition started in a steel-producing area of Hebei Province over 500 years ago as a way for poor people to enjoy Chinese New Year fireworks for the price of a bit of scrap iron. It’s principally a visual story and it was a lot of fun to do. It also presented an opportunity to be more creative visually than was possible with the more traditional broadcast news I was doing until six months ago.

On location with my C100 kit

On location with my C100 kit

I was a video journalist in the Reuters Beijing Bureau for over five years before leaving in September to try my hand at a different kinds of video work. In my old job we used the Panasonic range of ENG cameras like AJ-HPX2100 and AJ-HPX250, which were great for capturing action as it unfolded but lacked the cinematic feel of video being produced by the DSLR generation of videographers. When I left, I set myself up with a basic kit centred around a C100 (the original not the mkII) and three Canon zoom lenses – a 24-105mm f4, 17-55mm f2.8 and a 70-200mm f4. Getting to grips with the different system, especially lenses, has been a bit of a challenge, but certainly worth it for the more gratifying images the large sensor affords.

On this shoot I used:
Canon C100 (original version)
3 lenses: 24-105mm f4 / 17-55mm f2.8 / 70-200mm f4
GoPro Hero 4 Black
Miller DV 20 tripod
Audio-technica AT875R short shotgun mic
F&V Z180S Bi-Colour LED light panel

The C100 allowed me to achieve a lot that I would have struggled to do with an ENG camera:

- I wanted to really play with different light effects created by the molten metal and sparks. The large sensor and shallow depth of field allowed for some sparks to be razor sharp and in focus as others out of focus bled and swelled within one shot.

- I wanted to use all natural light, even if often this relied entirely on the fire of a single smelter. This I achieved throughout, except for during the interview, which I lit with the F&V light panel. The ability to push up the ISO without too much noise was essential, and allowed the black to be really deep. I would have had to push the gain up for many shots on an ENG camera and the image would have looked terrible.

- The performance was happening within a pretty controlled environment, so I could plan which lens I wanted to use for what. After so many years of servo zoom lenses, I still find switching between them tricky, and I regularly miss shots while scrambling for a longer lens. This has, however, forced me to reassess proscriptive shooting patterns (wide, close, reverse, repeat), think more clearly about what shot I really need and also pushed me closer to subjects.

Using the C100 in an ENG environment has its quirks

Using the C100 in an ENG environment

The C100 did fall short in one big way for this story: it cannot shoot at high frame rates for slow motion. When I was buying the camera, I was torn between it and the then-brand new Sony FS7, which Newshooter’s Dan Chung was urging me to buy with considerable determination for this very reason. In the end, budget and simplicity made me opt for the C100, and I got myself an Atomos Ninja Star for shoots that require the broadcast standard 50Mbps data rate. I told him that if I regretted the purchase, then I would write a post admitting it, and at least in this respect, I do.

For slow mo on this shoot, instead I took two Go Pro 4 Blacks, which can shoot at 120 fps on 1080p. I had grand plans to place them in every corner but the -10 degrees Celcius did for that: the battery failed pretty much instantly on one Go Pro, and I wasted a lot of time fumbling in the dark with numb fingers trying to monitor the other on my iPhone as it malfunctioned and then died itself. I ended up with just one usable slow motion shot. On cold days in future, I will keep Go Pros in my breast pocket until the last minute. It’s tantalising to think how it might have looked with a variety of slow motion shots, including close ups.

The piece also made me think about online vs broadcast video: While the boundaries between these two platforms are overlapping more by the day, the comparative freedom of online video has been a bit of a revelation for me. The agencies are essential to almost all news broadcasting and reach a huge TV and increasingly online audience, but it by definition they do not allow manipulation of the video or audio.

In this piece, I could put the blacksmith Wang De as the protagonist, allowing him to tell the history, process and experience of the art form himself. I could use music that to me reflected the clanging of metal and play of sparks, and lent the blacksmiths an almost shamanic quality. I could also use shots of any length, gentle pans and extreme focus shifts, slow motion and fades to black. I wanted to use visual tricks to only hint at the main performance for the first half of the edit, to make the viewer wonder whether an industry or an art form was being described, rather than putting my ‘best shots first.’

The response to the piece has also highlighted the potential for video to be widely seen online. As well as bouncing about on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, the piece reached an unexpected audience when it was put as the main featured video on China’s version of Youtube, www.youku.com, and got over a million views in less than a day. (OK, so that’s less that 0.1% of the population, but still…)

I’m late to the party, but it’s exciting that within the world of news there is a growing space to work like this.

Max Duncan is a British video journalist based in Beijing for over six years covering China and the region. He has worked for media including Reuters, the Daily Telegraph, the Wall Street Journal, the BBC, the New York Times.

Posted on March 14th, 2015 by Maxim Duncan | Category: Canon C100, Journalism | Permalink | Comments (1)

BVE 2015: Rotolight NEO LED light design updates

By site editor Dan Chung:

We first saw the Rotolight NEO LED light in prototype form at the IBC show in Amsterdam last year. Since then the company have been refining the product and are going into full production. The NEO is designed to be camera or stand mountable and provides a softer light source while remaining bright – something that smaller LED lights have traditionally failed to do. The round design makes for more circular catchlights. The NEO can also be dimmed easily and has an adjustable colour output.

The Rotolight NEO

The Rotolight NEO

Changes to the design include the use of more colour accurate LEDs and the ability to see the amount of dimming in f-stops.

The NEO will cost £299.99 and can be pre-ordered now by placing a 10% deposit.

For more info go to Rotolight’s website.

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Posted on March 13th, 2015 by Dan Chung | Category: LED lights | Permalink | Comments (0)

2015 World Press Photo Multimedia Contest results announced

By site editor Dan Chung:

Bob Sacha on 'Behind the Video of Eric Garner's Deadly Confrontation With New York Police' from World Press Photo on
Vimeo
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Today World Press Photo announced the winners of their annual multimedia awards. This year, there were two categories for linear productions – a short feature and a long feature. There were also awards for interactives. Unlike previous years there was no requirement to have stills included in the video, although several winning entries did.

This year I was asked to be on the jury for the short and long feature categories. I spent five days in Amsterdam looking at nearly three hundred video entries with my fellow judges. The panel for the linear video awards was chaired by Marianne Levy-Leblond of French broadcaster ARTE and included Pulitzer prize winner Barbara Davidson of the LA Times, Bob Sacha of the Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of NY, Hussain Currimbhoy of the Sundance institute and myself. It was an honour to serve with such a diverse and esteemed panel who brought wisdom and experience from different parts of the industry.

The first prize in the short feature category went to Time for their video “Behind the Video of Eric Garner’s Deadly Confrontation With New York Police”, which featured the work of citizen journalist Ramsey Orta. He captured Eric Garner’s arrest and subsequent death on his cell phone. Time interviewed Orta and used his video to give a compelling account of the events.

The second prize was awarded to Ben C Solomon of the New York Times, who documented ambulance nurse Gordon Kamara and his crew at the height of the Ebola outbreak in September 2014. The video immerses the viewer into the heart of the battle against the disease in Monrovia.

Barbara Davidson on 'Fighting Ebola Outbreak Street by Street' from World Press Photo on Vimeo.

Third prize in the short features went to ‘At the gates of Europe’ shot by Carlos Spottorno and scripted by Guillermo Abril. It highlights the growing numbers of immigrants trying to enter Europe by boat across the Mediterranean sea. Thousands die during the perilous voyages and the Italian navy set up control, search and rescue operations as part of Operation Mare Nostrum. Spottorno was given unique access to document it.

The Long Night – Trailer from MediaStorm on Vimeo.

In the long feature section MediaStorm picked up two of the three awards. The first was by Tim Matsui, who won first prize with his moving series ‘The Long Night’ which explores the crisis of minors entangled in the American sex trade. Produced and edited by Tim McLaughlin and exec produced by Brian Storm, the series is the result of a long documentary project by the highly committed Matsui.

Hussain Currimbhoy on 'The Long Night' from World Press Photo on Vimeo.

The second prize went to ‘The Fence’, a beautifully crafted piece that looks at the border between the US and Mexico through stunning stills mixed with subtle video. It was filmed and directed by Charles Ommanney and edited by Andrew Hida.

Hussain Currimbhoy on 'The Fence' from World Press Photo on Vimeo.

Third was another MediaStorm production, this time focussing on workers in Japan. “Japan’s Disposable Workers: Net Café Refugees” was shot by Shiho Fukada and edited and produced by Eric Maierson. Brian Storm was again exec producer.

The first prize in the interactive category went to {The And} – an interactive documentary that explores the dynamics of modern relationships by bringing the viewer into the emotional space of real life couples. It was created by director/writer Topaz Adizes and creative director/Writer: Nathan Phillips.

Marianne Lévy-Leblond on judging the 2015 Multimedia Contest from World Press Photo on Vimeo.

Overall, the standard of entries I saw was very proficient. It is clear to me that video by newspapers and web news portals is much better than it has ever been. The storytelling, journalism, editing and camera technique has improved – although it was also clear that the linear video field is led by a handful of US news organisations, perhaps because they having been investing more in video and making greater efforts to produce each piece than their rivals.

I felt the camerawork on most of the entries still reflected the photojournalistic roots of many of the entrants – much of it was very static or used very basic movements. Aesthetics were of course not the only criteria for awarding the winners and ultimately the power of the story and good storytelling were crucial deciding factors. This was certainly the case for “Behind the Video of Eric Garner’s Deadly Confrontation With New York Police”. I felt that the video shot by Ramsey Orta, combined with the careful way with which the TIME team crafted the video, was a worthy winner even though it centred on an act of citizen journalism.

The list of winners and more background information you can visit the World Press Photo website.

The jury for the 2015 competition

The jury for the 2015 competition

Posted on March 12th, 2015 by Dan Chung | Category: Journalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Newsshooter first look at the Sony PMW-PZ1 4K SxS memory player

By contributing editor Chuck Fadely:

Newsshooter got an exclusive look at Sony’s new PMW-PZ1 4K memory player at Sony’s headquarters in New York Tuesday, March 10, 2015.

The playback deck will take SxS cards from your 4K shoots on an F55 (and most other card-based cameras) and not only feed them out via 3G SDI ports but also back up the footage to an external USB-3 hard drive. It will also take XQD and SD cards via adapters.

Sony’s Marketing Manager for Large Sensor Acquisition, Peter Crithary, walks us through the features of the under-$3500 deck, which will be available in June.

The PMW-PZ1 features multi-format playback capability for 4K (24p to 60p) and HD video, supporting a variety of formats including XAVC Intra & Long, MPEG HD422 and MPEG HD.  (Some MPEG features are coming in a later firmware update in autumn 2015.)  

It will be useful for playback on digital signage, ingest to NLE’s and broadcast feeds and for dumping your cards on set.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t record – only playback or copy/transfer to other media.

Sony SxS playback deck PMW-PZ1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted on March 11th, 2015 by Chuck Fadely | Category: 4K, Sony F5, Sony F55, Storage, Transmission systems, Video editing | Permalink | Comments (1)

BVE 2015: ShadowCam show brushless gimbal with shoulder rig option designed for solo operators

By site editor Dan Chung:

At BVE in London ShadowCam were showing a new range of brushless gimbals with some unique and innovative features. The standard S-gimbal is based on an AlexMos control system and is the basis of the larger rigs on show. It will carry cameras up to the size of the Canon C300 or RED Epic and the modular design of the gimbal allows it to be used inverted, or in a more conventional suspended way. It can be mounted to jibs and a handy small boom with additional hardware.

The ShadowCam

The ShadowCam

Especially of interest to one man bands is the ShadowCam S5 – building on the S-gimbal it adds several features. Most impressive of all was the VH-1 two-way shock system that works a bit like a mini steadicam arm to dampen movement on the vertical and horizontal planes. You can check it out in the video above to see it working.

Interestingly it can also be fitted easily to a regular rod based shoulder rig and it folds down into a holdall for travelling. The shoulder rig makes operating the gimbal for longer periods possible without a full Steadicam arm and vest, or Easyrig.

For more details go to the ShadowCam website.

Posted on March 9th, 2015 by Dan Chung | Category: Brushless gimbals | Permalink | Comments (0)

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