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Andrew Reid

Pro camcorders? They're pointless creatively.

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1 hour ago, Neumann Films said:

I reached a similar conclusion with the GH5.  Sold our RED Epic W and now use the GH5 exclusively.

Cameras like the Alexa and RED kind of spit in the face of progress, when you really think about it.  They are overpriced and the form factor is geared towards a system that is stuck in the past.  Big, overbloated crews where 5 people are needed to do the job of one person.  As digital moves forward, we shouldn't just see IQ improvements, how about taking advantage of the usability improvements as well?  Big/expensive cameras just don't make sense anymore.  It is 100% a status thing.

+100...the funny thing with a lot of  videos I see online, is few are even in focus...pulling focus properly with the GH5 and shooting in 10 bit makes this a very substantial tool!...in fact I was just shooting a festival for a marketing campaign I'm doing and opted for my GH4...delivery will be in 1080p and I'm always impressed by the footage out of the GH series of cameras!...and yes...the freedom too....my only limitation is my eyesight lol...but I use the EVF almost exclusively

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I leave my a7sii and a6500 on my living room shelf.  It makes me more likely to use them.  I also only own small primes because "if I cannot stuff it down my pants" and walk away, I'm not going to be bring it along with me.

It's been working out pretty well.  Out of sight, out of mind.  In front of my ugly mug, and it's likely to come along for the ride.  I'm not a professional by any means of the imagination, but going light and small does help me with my creativity (it's hard to have any creativity when your camera is at home buried in the closet :-)

I hope sony doesn't continue increasing the size of their advanced, prosumer cameras (a7, a6000 series, etc..).  If they do, I will probably abandon them.

I remember carrying around a 7d and a 70-200mm lens.  No more.  Even for those who are in the biz.  Big cameras are intimidating and people get "stiff".  Big cameras are very limiting.. unless you have paid actors who's job is to be relaxed (or whatever the emotion they are paid big money  to emote) at the time.  Big marvel studios money, with big name actors --- sure, Red, ARrria, etc.. whatever..  Big name writers, with scripts written years in advanced.... Sure...

For most of the people on this forum, that's not us......  That is not our competitive advantage.  Ours is about the story, the creativity, etc.That is why "Upstream Color" did so well.  Quick and nimble... and CREATIVE :-)  Big camcorders/cameras are a hindrance to us.

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Just want to say that I really appreciate this thread. Thank you Andrew. It's hitting close to home for me right now. 

Several years ago I started a feature film. Before I began I took a close friend out to the location and shot the following teaser to help raise support. By the time we got there, the sun was going down and I knew I wouldn't have time to shoot audio and video simultaneously. We shot the teaser on my humble 7D in less than 45 minutes from arrival to wrap. My crew was me alone. Then the sun went down and I recorded audio of him reenacting. So an hour and a half tops. 

The remainder of the film was still shot on that lone 7D. But it was strange, the more crew I had with me the less we finished each day. At some point I started to realize this and started asking crew not to come. Even with only an audio guy, I never was able to replicate the efficiency and creative freedom that I experienced when my crew was only me, just me and the 7D. 

 

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Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is the value of familiarity. My first real camera was a Sony FX1. Used that thing for years. I knew it so well. I was super efficient with that thing.

Then I moved to the Canon 7D. I used that for even longer. I was so familiar with that camera. My hands and mind and camera were like 1. Then I sold the 7D, and have had a long series of cameras that have never stuck with me for long. I don't blame those cameras. I blame me on my quest for the greatest image, never realizing it was perhaps killing my productivity and creativity.

Here I sit with an URSA Mini Pro, and a GH5. I've had both for a very short time. The UMPro gives me an image that is simply breathtaking (aside from some manufacturer defects that BM is going to repair). The GH5 is much closer in size to my 7D. Definitely leaning toward the GH5. But can I maintain restraint and stick with this for years? The UMPro isn't huge, but it's also not small. GH5 is probably the better choice.

But then what if I want XLR's? I know Panasonic has that attachment thing. But with that, a better preamp, and cables, it's no longer the GH5. 

Leaning toward the GH5 and finding some other solution to the audio issues.

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I'm a total amateur when it comes to video, at least comparatively speaking.  That said... learning my way around the craft while shooting with A7Rii/A7Sii over the past two years has been fun but also often super annoying for all the reasons known to you guys (battery, ergonomics, controls, codec, etc.).  Any combination of those issues were adding up to frustrations that were taking a toll on the creative process.  I figured I'd try a more video oriented body so I rented FS5.  After messing around for a week with it I bought one.  Recent price drop to $4,750 helped.

The only thing I miss from the A7xx bodies is... IBIS.  That's it.  Everything else is on another level and it's just so much more fun to shoot with.  Everything just fits and works nicely together, I can just forget about fiddling with the camera and focus on the subject I'm shooting.  And it's small... sure not as small as A7xx, but unless you build it up (just like you can frankenstine any A7xx) it's a very compact package.  So, while I appreciate the A7Sii for its see-in-pitch-black capabilities and will continue to use it at night, I've retired A7Rii to it's stills-only duty and FS5 as the primary shooter.  To each their own ;)

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1 hour ago, Jonesy Jones said:

Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is the value of familiarity. My first real camera was a Sony FX1. Used that thing for years. I knew it so well. I was super efficient with that thing.

Then I moved to the Canon 7D. I used that for even longer. I was so familiar with that camera. My hands and mind and camera were like 1. Then I sold the 7D, and have had a long series of cameras that have never stuck with me for long. I don't blame those cameras. I blame me on my quest for the greatest image, never realizing it was perhaps killing my productivity and creativity.

Here I sit with an URSA Mini Pro, and a GH5. I've had both for a very short time. The UMPro gives me an image that is simply breathtaking (aside from some manufacturer defects that BM is going to repair). The GH5 is much closer in size to my 7D. Definitely leaning toward the GH5. But can I maintain restraint and stick with this for years? The UMPro isn't huge, but it's also not small. GH5 is probably the better choice.

But then what if I want XLR's? I know Panasonic has that attachment thing. But with that, a better preamp, and cables, it's no longer the GH5. 

Leaning toward the GH5 and finding some other solution to the audio issues.

I think when you're doing a large production and you're directing and you have keys and a producer you're dealing with, a camera like the Varicam or UM4.6, or Alexa or RED are essential as an A cam...but of course they come with the necessary bodies to make them work properly...and their value lies less in the superior image quality and more in the robust nature of these cameras and their simplicity...but along with that comes what I would describe as the clutter...and you're right...things slow to a crawl...when you're alone, with a hybrid style camera it frees things up completely...no pressure from location schedules, crew questions and all the logistics involved in making a feature for example...and that lack of clutter is liberating...but it's entirely dependent on the project...these two very different types of tools are very much project based, as to what works and what doesn't...and a lot of the enjoyment with hybrids IMO come from that silence one's able to work in...

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4 hours ago, dbp said:

Might I say that this doesn't just apply to cameras, but lighting and rigging as well.

For the love of god, please please give me more products like the apurture 300d. No more generators or 800lb lights that risk burning down the city. Small, portable, and powerful. 

 

Similar thing happens to some TV production, and why some of them switch to Varicam from Sony/Arri... less light setup needed!

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5 hours ago, dbp said:

Might I say that this doesn't just apply to cameras, but lighting and rigging as well.

For the love of god, please please give me more products like the apurture 300d. No more generators or 800lb lights that risk burning down the city. Small, portable, and powerful. 

 

Spot on. You're getting a battery powered joker 800 (which has grown to be my favorite HMI) for under $1000 and cameras are crazy sensitive. Night exteriors have changed forever. 

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On 6/22/2017 at 4:17 PM, Andrew Reid said:

...Owning a Sony FS5 or Canon C500 doesn't make you more creative, it makes you more efficient at work by a slight bit, and you appear more professional because of the big nobs and bells & whistles. Sadly, it doesn't necessarily make for "better" work because I have yet to see a clear distinction between work shot on mirrorless cameras and on stuff like the C300....

E.g, what exactly does an FS5 (for example) bring to the table that an A6500 or A7SII do not -- and at what price? Yes it has variable ND and XLR, but the internal codec seems identical: UHD 4k 8-bit 4:2:0 at 100 mbps. My doc team uses a multi-channel field recorder, so we don't need XLRs on every camera. Unlike the A7SII, A7RII and A6500, the FS5 doesn't have IBIS sensor-based stabilization. The FS5 EVF resolution is 1/2 of the the those cameras. Most lenses on the FS5 will require manual zoom, just like a mirrorless camera or DSLR. There are the Sony 28-135 f/4 and 18-110 f/4 power zoom lenses. I have the 28-135 on my A7RII; it's pretty good. 

I'm not slamming the FS5 -- I almost bought one. But considering the above it seems like the world's most expensive variable ND filter. We do have a Panasonic DVX200, which occupies a unique price/feature zone. If you need a run and gun ENG-type camera it seems a better fit than the FS5 or similar cameras. It gives a bit of shallow DOF with a good quality fixed lens in a familiar camcorder package. For more planned shooting the FS5 is good, but so is an A6500 or A7SII with the same lens.

Since the advent of video DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, the manufacturers have not really provided uniquely compelling large-sensor camcorders at a price/feature point that justifies their use in run-and-gun or lower-budget scenarios. E.g, I see the FS5 often sold with the 18-105 kit lens. Which would produce a better image -- that or an A6500 with a Sony 18-110 f/4? They both have camcorder-like functionality. You can get into places (physically, perceptually and from a regulatory standpoint) with the A6500 that you can't reach with an FS5.

Besides the Sony product line the GH5 even further raises the question of when exactly do you need a "pro" camcorder. It's true a pro camcorder has certain "street cred" but that's a pretty expensive price to pay for PR. It might be cheaper to rent one, do your behind-the-camera production shots for your demo reel, then use whatever camera works best in the real world.

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To be fair to people who use the alexa.  There is a reason.  Skintone, highlight handling, and noise is unparalleled.

Your image will literally hold up better with less lighting.

But yes, it's heavier - well the mini weighs as much as the ursa mini pro.

but if you can use it with still lenses and pull your own focus - you can cut out about 7-10 pounds of weight - which makes a huge difference.

 

But sometimes shot ideas work better with smaller cameras.

That's why I bring both my big ass sony f65 and my little ursa mini pro and the a7s to gigs - to find places for each tool

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10 hours ago, Jonesy Jones said:

Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is the value of familiarity. My first real camera was a Sony FX1. Used that thing for years. I knew it so well. I was super efficient with that thing.

Then I moved to the Canon 7D. I used that for even longer. I was so familiar with that camera. My hands and mind and camera were like 1. Then I sold the 7D, and have had a long series of cameras that have never stuck with me for long. I don't blame those cameras. I blame me on my quest for the greatest image, never realizing it was perhaps killing my productivity and creativity.

Here I sit with an URSA Mini Pro, and a GH5. I've had both for a very short time. The UMPro gives me an image that is simply breathtaking (aside from some manufacturer defects that BM is going to repair). The GH5 is much closer in size to my 7D. Definitely leaning toward the GH5. But can I maintain restraint and stick with this for years? The UMPro isn't huge, but it's also not small. GH5 is probably the better choice.

But then what if I want XLR's? I know Panasonic has that attachment thing. But with that, a better preamp, and cables, it's no longer the GH5. 

Leaning toward the GH5 and finding some other solution to the audio issues.

Get a 5D3 and shoot ML Raw. It's like having a cinema camera in the DSLR form factor. 

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BMMCC with OLPF filter and proper rig is still better way to go RAW in compact size

BMMCC-RADIOPROEKTOR-IMG_4341.jpg

BMMCC_rig3.jpg

BMMCC_rig2.jpg

BMMCC_rig1.jpg

On 6/23/2017 at 2:08 AM, BTM_Pix said:

I remember a story many years ago when home studio recording first started to take a hold and Tom Robinson (ask your Dad, kids) was talking about why he'd got a new fangled (at the time) Tascam Portastudio to record his demos on. His reply has always stuck with me because he said that when a band reaches a certain level of success the first thing they do is get flight cases for their gear and cables that you could tie the QE2 to the quayside with. This all then has to go into storage. So when he felt like writing a song, he'd have to call a roadie, call a van hire place, get the roadie to go to the storage place to pick up the gear, book a rehearsal room (because the flight cases made it impractical to have in the house), drive to the rehearsal room, wait for the gear to be unpacked and plugged in and then he could start to jam and record ideas. At which point he'd forgotten what it was he wanted to do and had lost the energy to do it anyway. With the portastudio, he could just switch it on and get on with it.

I see a lot of parallels here too.

The only thing thats inspired me to pull the RED Epic out of its case since I got it back was to do the side by side to tune the GX80 profile.

It felt like having to go to the corner shop in a Sherman tank.

In my real day job I have to take the same 'get the big clunky stuff out' approach because there is an expectation to deliver a set standard both in terms of image quality but pretty much in terms of content too. Coverage is what its all about to be honest. And the demands of that type of efficiency directs you to a certain type of kit. All of which means I'm about as creative as the guy sitting next to me who has also got exactly the same sort of kit (with a 50/50 shot on the brand). Which means to say, not very creative. Or certainly not a massive differential in creativity. We're looking at the same scene and covering it with the same kit so inevitable we're going to be much of a muchness creatively. But the creativity can sometimes be forced upon you (by equipment failure usually!) so you have to do something with what you've got and that triggers the resourcefulness response that is so often at the root of creativity.

Being in a situation of "I can't make what I want" often makes you find better ways to make what you actually need.

After wrestling with the Epic and then putting the same lens on the GX80 and shooting the same thing, I was left (with a bit of twiddling) with these two test charts.

So, could I shoot this same scene with a camera that cost less than the media of the other one?

Yes.

Could the same be said the other way round about what I could shoot with the little camera?

Yes but not without calling the roadie and hiring the van and getting the flight cases and, well you get the point.

 

GXcomparison3.jpeg

 

And just small compare to BMMCC with OLPF filter. Shoot in RAW, colors are corrected with ColorChecker Tool in Resolve. Contrast set to 1.2 :yum:

ColorWorkflowTest-VGamut-Cineon.jpg

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On 6/23/2017 at 1:08 AM, BTM_Pix said:

Tascam Portastudio

Twenty years ago when I first picked up a guitar I got one of those, could multi-track on a cassette. It was a revelation. Then a few years later I discovered Cool Edit Pro and went completely digital. I gave the Tascam to a friend for free as it was just collecting dust in a closet. Like all my old cameras and the white Les Paul Custom that had aged to a yellowish tint and weighed more than any other LP I've picked up (11 lbs, it was a tone monster) - I wish I had it back.

Anyway, small cameras, like small recorders allow you to just hit record and capture something without all the extras and calling the roadies. I got the 5d2 shortly after it was released and I haven't wanted a "traditional" camcorder since. 

2 hours ago, shijan said:

RED also lost that spirit instantly. Do you remember their 2k for 2k concepts from 2010-2012

When those were announced, I was  absolutely going to get one. Sad they never saw the light of day, entry cameras start you on a path to upgrade-itis that is never cured.

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Not sure where you get the idea that weddingshooters prefer higher-end pro camera's, most are switching to a sony a7sII/a6500 set up and some do use a fs5 but mainly for longer recordings, the gh5 is also gaining popularity among the weddingshooter community and the canon 5dIII is also still widely used, the 5d4 is less popular. The canon 1dc is also still used by some high end weddingvideographers. The c100 is also a very popular camera but the c200 is not because of it's high pricepoint. From all these mentioned camera's the sony a7sII is by far the most popular one so to say that weddingvideographers only prefer the higher-end pro camera's is just not true, maybe for a few individuals but certainly not for the entire weddingcommunity. I know because I"m in a weddingvideographer facebookgroup that has over 13000 members and all the big names in the weddingindustry are member there as well so you get a pretty good idea what gear is used in general. 

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Just now, Trek of Joy said:

Twenty years ago when I first picked up a guitar I got one of those, could multi-track on a cassette. It was a revelation. Then a few years later I discovered Cool Edit Pro and went completely digital. I gave the Tascam to a friend for free as it was just collecting dust in a closet. Like all my old cameras and the white Les Paul Custom that had aged to a yellowish tint and weighed more than any other LP I've picked up (11 lbs, it was a tone monster) - I wish I had it back.

There is a definite connection between specific function devices with dedicated controls like a portastudio and creativity. 

They keep you focused on what you are doing by serving you rather than the other way round.

Unlimited possibilities seems like a good thing but the problem is that its so easy to be drawn into trying most of them. Often that just leads to varying degrees of turd polishing where we're spending good creative money after bad as it where when we would be better off walking away from it and spending that time on making something that doesn't actually need polishing.

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I actually liked the effort it took to shoot content on film (back when I shot on film) because it felt like you were using a precious limited resource, a physical and tactile medium, and you had to treat it as such and with respect. The effort to get a great image and the delay between shooting and seeing the dailies put you in a different headspace… counterintuitively, it put you in the moment. I think it puts your audience in the moment, too. I love film. I will never love digital as much.

But that era is over. Even when shooting film, it’s difficult to stay in the moment when shooting on a difficult, restrictive medium  when your brain is constantly reminding you that there’s an easy, better-looking, and cheaper alternative… that you already probably own. And we’re an ADHD-addled generation, anyway. Transformers coverage distracts better than Jaws coverage. Art is, unfortunately, of its time. :/

There’s a place for film. It’s nostalgic and will grow more nostalgic. For a Christmas story or WWII drama or throwback you might get some beautiful physicality and nostalgia on film that even well-processed digital couldn't possibly give you. The different process contributes to that. But it’s a regressive choice for those reasons, too.

So I do agree that the Alexa (which, don’t get me wrong, is the best camera ever) is the worst of both worlds in a way. Works like a film camera (ACs love it); looks like a film camera; isn’t a film camera. It’s the I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter of cinema. Thing is, sometimes I actually can’t believe it’s not butter. See Yedlin’s Nuke script.

That's not inherently bad. Twin Peaks the Return, shot on Alexa but with thoughtful film-like coverage and lighting, is amazing. The Alexa is an amazing camera, even if it’s a weird stopgap camera. (Whereas Red is innovating toward a “high end digital” experience and look rather than “film replacement” one.... and it’s working...)

But to me the cutting edge is on the consumer side. Trash the C200 all you like, but the image is closer to an Alexa than you’ll get with anything cheaper. MUCH more importantly, the ergonomics are A+, the low light is amazing, and the autofocus is bonkers good. This is the camera that lets you fire 2/3 of your crew and replace your HMIs and generator trucks with LEDs and batteries. It’s a good Ronin camera too, and the Ronin itself is a pretty genius innovation. Yes, I want to use a Fisher dolly and steadicam and technocrane instead. Shooting on a Fisher dolly is so gratifying and I prefer the result. But like… I get that it's outdated. You won’t take the Fisher dolly out of the closet most days. Or actually ever, since it’s rental only lol. It’s of another era entirely... but man... I can tell one when I see one. Just from how it moves (or maybe it's a PeeWee, but same idea).

So I think the C200 is the ideal middle ground, and not the GH5 or something, but that’s fine and that’s me, and yeah, I’d want a GH5, too, and would use it more. :) But to me the perfect middle ground between restrictive and empowering is the C200 or similar. 

There’s one missing piece, though, and it’s funny you mentioned it prominently and defensively in your article: audio. There’s yet to be a game changer in audio that equals the Red One or 5D Mark II or Movi in innovation. There are cheap mics that are okay now, but the 416 (40 years old) is the golden standard. Still. You can buy an iLav that sounds remarkably good enough compared with a real lav…. but ingesting, logging, syncing, hooking that thing up to an iPhone. It's the worst. Not that using timecode sync via slate is exactly reliable or fun, either. But while I don’t want to put my sound operator friends out of business, sound recording needs to be next. Sound Devices just released cheap mixers that can compete with the big boys. Just this year. For the first time ever. That’s HUGE. That’s the 5DII. What we're missing is the DPAF or the Ronin or low light equivalent for sound. Something that makes good easy. Good sound is still hard, no matter what camera, XLRs or not be damned. 

Not that I follow post as closely, but post seems to have changed as fast as video has, so sound is next. (Great direction and art design and acting will forever remain elite and exclusive because the mis is physical. This fact favors porn but also storytelling.) 

But for non-porn, that difficulty seems to help. Shooting dual system sound on an Alexa still results in something with more intention and focus than your average snap or even youtube video. Even if that Nagra and Panavision Millennium just brought out every drop of genius and the Alexa is kinda hacky.

So if someone made a camera that was nearly impossible to use, would it produce the greatest content of all time? Is art just doomed to get worse?

Who cares. Do your thing. That's all that matters. Don't do someone else's.

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4 hours ago, shijan said:

BMMCC with OLPF filter and proper rig is still better way to go RAW in compact size

BMMCC-RADIOPROEKTOR-IMG_4341.jpg

BMMCC_rig1.jpg

A very nice rig, but the screen is always the weak point for lightweight, well balanced shooting with the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera.

Why does it need to whacking great big Canon batteries on the back and such a think bezel, when an OLED phone screen (with airplane mode enabled) can last for just as long on the thinnest battery imaginable... And that is with a hefty 8 core CPU humming away in the background.

Somebody needs to finally wake up and put a 5" OLED in the same sized body as a phone, but with a Micro HDMI port on the side along with the USB C port for firmware updates and charging.

With USB C you could top up the internal screen battery with an external USB one under anywhere on the rig, if you wanted even longer run times.

You can't attain lightness and balance with that whacking great articulated screen coming off the left-hand side like, unless your main camera is an URSA!!

Also as much as I want to like the Blackmagic Micro... 14bit full frame 5D Mark III raw is definitely in a different league for image quality.

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1 hour ago, HockeyFan12 said:

There’s one missing piece, though, and it’s funny you mentioned it prominently and defensively in your article: audio. There’s yet to be a game changer in audio that equals the Red One or 5D Mark II or Movi in innovation. There are cheap mics that are okay now, but the 416 (40 years old) is the golden standard. Still. You can buy an iLav that sounds remarkably good enough compared with a real lav…. but ingesting, logging, syncing, hooking that thing up to an iPhone. It's the worst. Not that using timecode sync via slate is exactly reliable or fun, either. But while I don’t want to put my sound operator friends out of business, sound recording needs to be next. Sound Devices just released cheap mixers that can compete with the big boys. Just this year. For the first time ever. That’s HUGE. That’s the 5DII. What we're missing is the DPAF or the Ronin or low light equivalent for sound. Something that makes good easy. Good sound is still hard, no matter what camera, XLRs or not be damned. 

 

I like new MixPre for sure but for budget but quality 24bit 96khz audio with analog limiters it was always option like MixPre+portable recorder for many years.

IMG_4401.jpg

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