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Balancing getting the shot, vs film fetish


Andrew Reid
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Magic Lantern raw, 16mm film, RED One, Sony F35...

What do they all have in common?

They are all a pain in the ass!

All fantastic yes. But definitely a pain in the ass.

Magic Lantern fills up your 64GB card in 12 minutes. Sometimes it just stops in the middle of a shot.

16mm film is hardly a day to day practicality for most people.

The RED One takes as long to boot as it does to go through your brick of a battery!

Sony F35, don't even get me started on that hulking beast!!

----

What I would like is a bullet proof reliable camera which shoots with an image similar to Magic Lantern raw on the 5D Mark II but 10:1 compressed raw, runs on a small battery for hours and has a codec as easy to work with as the Red cameras.

Blackmagic are likely to get there one day but not just yet.

Then I want that putting in a C100 II or FS5 style body, with variable ND and the 5 axis IBIS from the A7S II.

Give it the low light chops to match.

Then we can finally at long last say... NO MORE PAIN IN THE ASS!!

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True.

but the thing is that is us(filmers) who make ourselfs go thru this pain it the assery. the fact is that most of the shoots could be done with your basic dslr rigged up to our desires, and it would be fine for the 90% of the customers. I would love all of the above as well, but the requierments for 90% of the projects for at least a year or two will be the following(at least for me):

FullHD, 25p, super 35.

done.

everyrhing else is a waste of money for me. The 4k s-log, c-log, etc...that would be for me, to film in my free time and to upload it to vimeo.

I have a dslr, in a simple shoulder mount rig, a good tripod and head,  a tokina 28-70 2.8, a nikon kit lens, variable nd filter, a few rc car batteries riged to power the camera externaly and a bunch of sd cards.

I get all the lights I would ever need from a company I work for and I always have a sound guy with me. Everybody loves the image I give them, and I earn more than my rig is worth in a day, maybe two.

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The problem comes when you get into extreme DR situations - high end real estate interiors, some corporate events, upper-crust lifestyle products/travel destinations outdoors. Holding onto sky detail can be a real killer there.

To each their own though - I like integrating motion graphics & design for corporate clients, and many of those gigs are too tight for rentals. Affordable 4K looks like it will really up my game (and ease my workflow) for tracking and keying. 4K was the #1 feature I was shopping for last quarter; and being able to reframe is big as I do a lot of one-man-band corporate interviews. Punching in is a great tool for editing.

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What I am saying is, whilst we know the raw cameras and F35 are the benchmark for an analogue film look on digital, how close can we get to that with the more practical cinema cameras. What is the magic sauce, the secret workflow, the crafty lighting, the best lenses that can get the C100 II and FS5 closer to the Red One in look and feel? I think time invested in that would really pay off big time.

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What I would like is a bullet proof reliable camera which shoots with an image similar to Magic Lantern raw on the 5D Mark II but 10:1 compressed raw, runs on a small battery for hours and has a codec as easy to work with as the Red cameras.

hear hear

Then we can finally at long last say... NO MORE PAIN IN THE ASS!!

i couldnt agree with you more on all this. "PAIN IN THE ASS" is the exact right way to put it

as if producing stuff in reality isnt ENOUGH of a pain in the ass...

if theres one thing ive learned from producing shoots and shows of all different kinds its this: SHIT WILL GO WRONG, PLAN ON IT, EXPECT IT, AND EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.

for a camera system that costs thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars to fall into the category of problematic and frustrating, to ADD to the inherent stress of my production....

well, i hate to say it, but ive gotten USED TO THAT. IVE GOTTEN USED TO THAT IDEA.

my question these days is, not is the camera system we're using a pain in the ass, but how much of a pain in the ass is it?

 

and that, my friends, is absolutely absurd

 

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Sometimes we can concentrate on the camera 100%, really work it like an artist's paintbrush.

Sometimes we have to apply our focus to the actors instead, to the lights, the other stuff.

Therefore, unless we have a crew with many people, different roles, you are going to have to split your focus.

I would love to have a crew to do all the directing, lighting, carrying my 10kg camera and sticks around for me, making me breakfast, cooking me pie, slipping me a glass of wine in-between shots with my RED ONE!

But the real world doesn't often work like that does it?

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The easiest, most foolproof, and filmic cameras to shoot are the ARRI Alexa, Amira, and Mini, shooting to ProRes. That's why they're the most used professional cameras when cost is no object. When cost is considered, the Canon C300 II and C100 II are really an amazing value, especially for small crews without a focus puller. Zero or minimal post work with these cameras can produce results that look amazing, especially the hardest to color: skintones. The FS7 still requires a bit of work in post (not so much with continuous spectrum light sources), however folks who need high FPS and 4K are willing to deal with it. The Panasonic Varicam has looked pretty good, but isn't used much. At that price point folks seem to prefer Red or ARRI. Red has a ProRes option (and their latest color science is looking really good), however most folks appear to stick with compressed (wavelet) RAW which can be edited natively in Premiere Pro and FCPX.

Using a Canon 5D3, Nikon D8x0 or similar to shoot reference RAW stills along with an A7S II or A7R II (much better autofocus and slightly better skintones than the A7S II) can work well if on a low budget. The RAW reference stills can be graded in ACR, then saved and brought into the NLE to match color with the Sony video. Still a bit of work, but you can get pretty efficient with some practice.

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Sometimes we can concentrate on the camera 100%, really work it like an artist's paintbrush.

id be interested in knowing who on this website uses a paintbrush on a regular basis (besides me)

i can only dream of a camera thats as easy to use as a paintbrush. when im using a paintbrush, no matter what im painting, no matter how im painting, its like an extension of my hand. doesnt matter if its an expensive fancy brush made of exotic animal hair that i take very good care of, or a disposable housepainting brush from home depot that cost $1.50

oh and fun fact: if youve never painted, or if youve tried sometime in the past and it didnt work out, if youve found it intimidating, you should give it another try~! painting is easy and everyone can do it. im sure i would think your work is fantastic

and the easiest painting is oil painting – you can just endlessly smoosh color around, and fix your mistakes... its like the opposite of watercolor~! ironically only artists know that lol

but i digress

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and the easiest painting is oil painting – you can just endlessly smoosh color around, and fix your mistakes... its like the opposite of watercolor~! ironically only artists know that lol

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxcnsr1R5Ge_fbTu5ajt8DQ 

Anyone/everyone can be an artist with research and practice. Just like anyone can be a technologist. Different people have different pain thresholds and give up on one, the other, or both. In the tech world, some folks look at you funny if you also display art skill. In the art world, when folks state they aren't good with tech: they could be better with more effort. Natural ability in either matters, however anyone can do both with hard work: it's a matter of passion.

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What I would like is a bullet proof reliable camera which shoots with an image similar to Magic Lantern raw on the 5D Mark II but 10:1 compressed raw, runs on a small battery for hours and has a codec as easy to work with as the Red cameras.

Blackmagic are likely to get there one day but not just yet.

Then I want that putting in a C100 II or FS5 style body, with variable ND and the 5 axis IBIS from the A7S II.

Give it the low light chops to match.

Then we can finally at long last say... NO MORE PAIN IN THE ASS!!

Yep. That's what's so frustrating about the FS5- it's SO close to being so perfect, and so easy, and so out of your way. If it just shot to a medium-weight codec (ProRes, XAVC with a high bitrate, etc) without any significant gotchas, it'd be perfect. At least for me.

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https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxcnsr1R5Ge_fbTu5ajt8DQ 

Anyone/everyone can be an artist with research and practice. Just like anyone can be a technologist. Different people have different pain thresholds and give up on one, the other, or both. In the tech world, some folks look at you funny if you also display art skill. In the art world, when folks state they aren't good with tech: they could be better with more effort. Natural ability in either matters, however anyone can do both with hard work: it's a matter of passion.

I like you jcs. You have a level head and a good temper. It's rare here. 

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I came to terms with, some years ago, that what we are discussing here is in fact..

...Moby Dick.

Always on the horizon. Always close. Just a little more. Next time...

Its never gonna happen. I see it in all of us. Its easier to notice among public reviewers such as Andrew or Philip Bloom. And to some probably in my videos as well.

One month a DSLR is the greatest due to its size/prize. Next month its all backwards. Form factor/features, now thats the key.

In the meantime we dream of some perfect compromise.

Personally Ive stoped beliving in compromise. I dont buy a hybrid tablet/laptop thing. I buy both or make a decision. When Im at the store and cant decide between chips or candy for the movie, I get both.

My Red One for example. What a beast. Love it so far. Can I use it today while skeeing? Nope, so I will use a GoPro. Unless I just want to film others skeeing...

And I dont want a compromise that does everything nice. I want them to be great. And then I just have to face having two cameras, renting or just decide what Im willing to skip. When owning only a BMCC you decide that look goes before slowmo. With a D750 you sacrifice bitrate and resolution. With the R1 obviosly easy portability gets left behind.

But they all give somehing back.

Lots of whales out there. Might as well pick an easier target than that basterd at the horizon :)

No point here, just some thoughts.

(btw, bootup isnt unworkable. I turn it on and its usually done before I have framed and everything. (You get picture while you whait))

(Im not saying whale hunting is ok, because its not.)

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Yeah, pain in the ass factor does weight in heavily. Depending on the type of gig. More forgiving with something narrative. I shoot a lot of weddings currently, and pain in the ass factor makes me hate a piece of gear REALLY quick in that environment.

I made fun of the C100. Until I used it. Then I got it. It just works. Not the best of all time, but very solid right out of the box.

I love my bmpcc, and I overlook alot of the pains. Recently got a GH4, and man... despite not being in love with the online samples I saw, it is such a pleasant contraption to use compared to the bmpcc. Shocking, really. 

Tired old cliche, but I still think skill with framing and lighting pay way more dividends than camera or codec. Hell, I'm still mostly happy with my GH2 footage. 

The closer cameras get to ideal quality, the stronger the "how much do I hate operating this" factor becomes relevant. 

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Tired old cliche, but I still think skill with framing and lighting pay way more dividends than camera or codec. Hell, I'm still mostly happy with my GH2 footage.

Couldn't agree more.

I was watching a BBC programme on a 60" HD TV last night and it looked awesome. Great colours, great detail, excellent DR.

The image didn't need anything else, even though it was only shot in 1080, but in a 4:2:2 colour space and obviously compliant with BBC broadcast bit rate specs. That image would stand up to cinematic projection, no problem.

It was the consistency and quality of lighting, skilled editing as well as superb camera skills that all contributed to that high quality material. The quality of their cameras and lenses help too, but they were using 10 bit 1080. Not 4K.

It's another tired cliche that colour and DR are more important than resolution, but if I can achieve BBC broadcast quality standards, in a cinematic way, then I will be a happy bunny.

http://dpp-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/specs/bbc/TechnicalDeliveryStandardsBBC.pdf

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The better cameras get,  the more important the story, script, direction and all cinematography become. That is if you want your work to stand out from the unwashed masses of people with next gen 8k stabilized smartphones, with built-in software to instantly add film grain, color correct and vignettes. 

These are just tools. What's really important is the art and the stories we tell.

I spoke with an old school photographer a few weeks ago, and he shared the following wisdom with me... "Every picture doesn't need to be sharp or perfectly exposed, this is art".

So me, I shoot images that add to my story. If it doesn't do that, it does not make the final cut.

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The funny thing is, i think indie community were making great strides towards demanding the right things from a camera... and the industry were starting to listen, then 4K came around and alot of people were again ready to accept 4:2:0, 8 bit, low bitrate etc just to get 4K.

Hopefully when we all have the camera described in Andrew's post... We don't then collectively dump it all for 8K, 4:2:0 etc!

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Yeah, pain in the ass factor does weight in heavily. Depending on the type of gig. More forgiving with something narrative. I shoot a lot of weddings currently, and pain in the ass factor makes me hate a piece of gear REALLY quick in that environment.

I made fun of the C100. Until I used it. Then I got it. It just works. Not the best of all time, but very solid right out of the box.

I love my bmpcc, and I overlook alot of the pains. Recently got a GH4, and man... despite not being in love with the online samples I saw, it is such a pleasant contraption to use compared to the bmpcc. Shocking, really. 

Tired old cliche, but I still think skill with framing and lighting pay way more dividends than camera or codec. Hell, I'm still mostly happy with my GH2 footage. 

The closer cameras get to ideal quality, the stronger the "how much do I hate operating this" factor becomes relevant. 

Shhh! You're not allowed to say that! Only film and video professionals who use cameras every day to deliver solid results on time and pay the bills say that kind of thing! Start moaning about image quality and specifications quick, before someone sounds the alarm!

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I came to terms with, some years ago, that what we are discussing here is in fact..

...Moby Dick.

Always on the horizon. Always close. Just a little more. Next time...

Ha I know that feeling. We're all searching for a permanent camera partner in this crazy gear dating game, then just when you think you've found it boredom sets in and a new sexy blonde comes along!

Its never gonna happen. I see it in all of us. Its easier to notice among public reviewers such as Andrew or Philip Bloom. And to some probably in my videos as well.

One month a DSLR is the greatest due to its size/prize. Next month its all backwards. Form factor/features, now thats the key.

In the meantime we dream of some perfect compromise.

Personally Ive stoped beliving in compromise. I dont buy a hybrid tablet/laptop thing. I buy both or make a decision. When Im at the store and cant decide between chips or candy for the movie, I get both.

My Red One for example. What a beast. Love it so far. Can I use it today while skeeing? Nope, so I will use a GoPro. Unless I just want to film others skeeing...

I want to get the amount of gear I own down, so I can appreciate what I've got more.

You're right about not having one grand compromise solution but, say, 3 really good ones at specific things.

For me the FS5 is good at shot getting, comfortable and reliable to shoot with, you know it is going to run and run on one charge through the day and not fill up all your cards.

The 5D2 is there when I want perfect skin tones, beautiful film like rendering, a fine noise grain. I find the 5D2 with no VAF filter even more cinematic and analogue looking than the superior 5D3 which is cleaned up and therefore a bit more modern looking. The 5D2 has a life and soul to it which is very Red ONE / old school.

Then I have the A7S II on low light duties.

I'd like to keep it at that but I'm still in love with the others too... The 1D C, the GH4 for anamorphic, the E-M5 II for handheld shooting.

And I dont want a compromise that does everything nice. I want them to be great. And then I just have to face having two cameras, renting or just decide what Im willing to skip. When owning only a BMCC you decide that look goes before slowmo. With a D750 you sacrifice bitrate and resolution. With the R1 obviosly easy portability gets left behind.

If the D5 has 4K but the lovely codec / flat profile of D750 then it will be a winner... oh no here we go again!

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I think it's more wise to choose your camera and stick with it. Ignore the other releases, it's just distracting (but a bit fun of course!). 

I spent a significant amount of funds on a new lighting setup, all battery operated. Lenses too. Both of these are much more important than the camera. Last much longer and have a bigger impact on the image (than a camera). 

If too much focus is going on operating the camera on a shoot, then things won't turn out so good. The real beauty happens when the tools become second nature and 99% of your attention is on the subject matter. 

 

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