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Andrew Reid

Pro camcorders? They're pointless creatively.

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On 30.6.2017 at 1:34 PM, joema said:

Using RAW or ProRes acquisition works for feature films, short commercials and people experimenting with one camera. It does not work as well for larger documentaries or news gathering. The video marketplace is a lot bigger than scripted narratives. E.g, my doc team has has 12 GoPros, five drones, cable cams, crane cams, gimbal cams, 3-axis motion control cams, two separate two-camera interview teams, etc -- all 4k AVC/H264. We have Atomos recorders but prefer not using those in the field unless absolutely required because of complexity and HDMI fragility.  The Inspire 2 drone can shoot ProRes internally but this doesn't help if everything else is H264.

With all our crews & cameras operating we can easily shoot 1 terabyte of 4k H264 per day at a single site. If we used all ProRes acquisition that would be 8 terabytes per day, which must be offloaded, checksummed and duplicated on site -- each day. So the idea of "just use RAW or ProRes acquisition" may work on smaller productions with lower shooting ratios, but it doesn't work for us.

BTW it seems possible that 4k H264 8-bit 4:2:0 can be transcoded to 1080p 10-bit 4:4:4: https://www.provideocoalition.com/can-4k-4-2-0-8-bit-become-1080p-4-4-4-10-bit-does-it-matter/

I think you got me a little bit wrong. I was talking about using RAW for HDR video. For most SDR projects you will never really need it, because it is not that difficult to gain 6 stops dynamic range even out of a very strongly compressed AVC file. But in case of HDR production the dynamic range easily exceeds your camera's and the more you compress the more dynamic range of your sensor you will lose. So for HDR video, RAW recording can make a lot of sense. For SDR video most of the time you only get the bigger data size and a little more detail which is not such a good deal, that's where I agree with you. So for SDR I wouldn't shoot RAW either. For HDR it has to be considered, whether the advances are worth the extra data size and if it is possible to handle it. That always depends on the constellation of the project itself. But - for HDR video - if you can afford shooting RAW, use it!

4k 8bit to 1080p 10bit is possible in theory, but it's not very effective against banding. The algorithm averages over an area of 4 pixels and as a result you will obviously get a 10 bit number, but averaging means that if all pixels have the same value - which is given in case of banding - you will get the same value again in 10 bit space. It will be a similar result to using a Gaussian filter. Thus from a technical point of view I guess dithering is still the better option.

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On 30/06/2017 at 6:28 AM, Matt Kieley said:

Thanks! I'll send you the private vimeo link. I'd get a 5D3 if I could afford one. I might get the EOS M again just play with raw (since it's super cheap). ML raw has always gone over my head a bit in terms of settings/workflow.

From experience I'd recommend not bothering with an EOS M. I've had a few and I think if you want to do Raw it's really not worth the hassle. Look around for a cheap 7D, that's kind of the best cheap camera you can get for Raw and make some good results/ workflow.

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For me the most attractive cameras are Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera and Pocket Cinema Camera as well as GH5.
This is because the MFT mount system is very versatile. You have a huge number of native lenses to attach. Due to the crop factor the entire camera system can be configured pretty light weight, but if necessary it is also possible to adapt professional lenses very comfortable via metabone's speedboosters.
Especially the BMMCC is very versatile when it comes to mounting options. Although it is not as small and a bit heavier than a Gopro, it is still usable as  action cam on motorbikes or cars for example and due to its expansion port it's easily possible to connect it to various platforms like drones, gimbals and so on. However you have to be a little creative when it comes to camera setup, because this is simply not a handhold run and gun camera. That's where the BMPCC fits in. And the GH5 is perfect for static landscape scenes, where it can show its strengths in resolution and detail. This is where I use my NX1 which comes pretty close to the GH5 feature-set except for 10bit output.

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On 6/28/2017 at 1:43 PM, Ed_David said:

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.

 

Strangely I basically never ever see the Arri Alexa Classic used with stills lenses :-/

 

On 6/29/2017 at 2:07 AM, BTM_Pix said:

So there’s just no incentive there for anyone to be innovative in music audio anymore as its littered with similar stories and the ones left standing wouldn’t see the amount of volume in broadcast/film that they need to press the button on the mass production runs they now need due to how cheap everything has to be now.

The company that COULD do it are the much maligned Behringer. 

If you look at something like the X Air XR12 digital mixing console and see what they can knock out for £239 retail (inc VAT!!) then it doesn’t take a genius to see what they could do against Sound Devices if they had the inclination but there just isn’t the market there. Because, believe me, they wouldn’t have blinked if there was.

So, unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to get that 5DMarkii moment and the innovation such as it is will come from individuals themselves looking at products from the music side of the fence and modifying it themselves. Like getting that X Air XR12 and powering it from Sony NP batteries to make an extremely capable digital field mixer and recorder for £269 (including the £30 for the bits to do it) or being a smartarse and using cheap midi controllers to create remote focus and control systems for Panasonic cameras for under £75  (ahem!).

Because music audio had its numerous 5DMKii moments a few years ago there is a backlog of a ton of cheap stuff that flies under the radar for film makers that is waiting for them if they look for it. 

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1095114-REG/behringer_x_air_xr12_12_input.html

Hmmm.... that looks quite tempting, if you paired this with an affordable laptop (Hackintosh!), running it all over V mount batteries, or even car batteries, and then an ultra cheap trolley (then heavily modified) to make yourself a small cart set up:
https://www.bunnings.co.nz/saxon-hand-trolley_p03350614

You'd be running Boom Recorder on your Hackintosh laptop:
http://www.vosgames.nl/products/BoomRecorder/

 

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2 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Strangely I basically never ever see the Arri Alexa Classic used with stills lenses :-/

 

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1095114-REG/behringer_x_air_xr12_12_input.html

Hmmm.... that looks quite tempting, if you paired this with an affordable laptop (Hackintosh!), running it all over V mount batteries, or even car batteries, and then an ultra cheap trolley (then heavily modified) to make yourself a small cart set up:
https://www.bunnings.co.nz/saxon-hand-trolley_p03350614

You'd be running Boom Recorder on your Hackintosh laptop:
http://www.vosgames.nl/products/BoomRecorder/

 

Don't know whether its just the UK but the arse seems to have dropped out of the used price of MacBook Air 11" which makes it a really good power sipping real Mac for under £400 now.

Seems to be plenty of sub £200 pre-configured Hackintosh laptops on eBay though so still some way to go!

Quite surprised the Behringer has an internal PSU but wouldn't be a difficult mod to sort that out or even run it on a small inverter because its not going to be a huge power hog.

I've had good experience using these to keep MacBooks going on long days in the field. Connect to anything up to 20V via barrel connectors and adapters so its a very flexible power solution for everything from phones to cameras to laptops. So a bank of these could keep the mixer and the laptop ticking along nicely.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Poweradd-23000mAh-Multi-Voltage-Portable-Notebooks/dp/B013HXKZYW/ref=sr_1_2?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1499008680&sr=1-2&keywords=19v+power+bank

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4 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

Don't know whether its just the UK but the arse seems to have dropped out of the used price of MacBook Air 11" which makes it a really good power sipping real Mac for under £400 now.

Seems to be plenty of sub £200 pre-configured Hackintosh laptops on eBay though so still some way to go!

Yup, I can still pick up a secondhand Lenovo ThinkPad T420 for a fraction of that (which is just one example quite a few people have had success with as a hackintosh). 

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To concur - yes. I like to think of it as a 'frigidity' scale. DSLR has advanced enough where the 'frigidity' scale is comparable. There is no such thing as a 'point and shoot' when someone is paying cash dollars. It may exist in 5 years, but it don't now. Period.

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Even to those who prefer shooting with DSLRs or mirrorless, I'd still recommend rigging your camera out - I mean, get yourself a cage and a monitor, not a hunking 7" one, but a 5" screen. You'll be able to compose better, the color and contrast will be much more accurate than the lousy 3" LCD on your camera, you can throw in a LUT so you can preview how your work will look in post, the audio level meter will be a whole lot more usable than the toy one provided in your camera, and it'll allow you to monitor audio. That's right - if you're not monitoring your audio, you're just leaving everything up to chance. If you're not convinced, just have a look at any one of forum member @Boygetslost's short films and tell me that audio isn't important! If you're struggling with focus like I was with my Panasonic, well, with the BMD Video Assist, the focus peaking lights up like a Christmas tree, even when for the life of me, I can't see any peaking on the G85. And while I'm not yet at the point where I don't need any exposure aids like Andrew Reid, it's a whole lot easier gauging exposure with a larger screen. You say you want discrete? Well, I've been able to walk right up to subjects shooting with the Zhiyun Crane without anyone suspecting I was shooting them, and with six pounds of magnesium alloy, plastic, glass and faux fur sitting in my lap, I've been able to capture people without them having a clue what I was up to. 

img_0280.jpg

 

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On 7/2/2017 at 4:52 AM, Oliver Daniel said:

Getting back on topic....

What exact camera setup does everyone find the most creatively liberating then, and why? 

FS5. No joke. The electronic variable ND, S Log view assist, tilty/flippy LCD + tilty EVF, top handle, side handle, a bunch of customizable buttons... I spend less time figuring out HOW to film and more time on WHAT.

On 6/30/2017 at 9:14 AM, Oliver Daniel said:

Well I've just made my own discovery regarding the FS5. 

Did a shoot this week with very aggressive lighting... captured in 4k CDNG, 4k ProRes 442 HQ and "bog standard" internal 50 Mbps HD. 

As expected the CDNG can be pushed around massively. But the data rate is heart wrenching. 

The interesting thing is that the 4k ProRes and internal HD seems almost like a draw. When pushed around, it's practically the same. When finally graded and exported, the quality seems almost exactly the same too. The 4k image is very, very, very slightly better. 

The only benefit I see of the FS5 + recorder is continuous 2k slow motion with more data to play with. This bit works for sure. 

Other than that, I'm thinking of selling up. 

Selling up to what? Also, couple questions:

What about the 4K/60 and 120- have you tried it? I'm about to have a sports client and that 120 burst seems mighty enticing because we can pull stills for social media and website.

I'm guessing that you're delivering at 1080 if you're saying that the 4K ProRes is only slightly better - Am I wrong?

I've been debating if it's the time to get the raw upgrade and everything I've seen on YT/Vimeo seems like it's a win, so I'm curious why you're not impressed.

Oh, and what's the data rate of the cDNG?

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11 hours ago, jonpais said:

Even to those who prefer shooting with DSLRs or mirrorless, I'd still recommend rigging your camera out - I mean, get yourself a cage and a monitor, not a hunking 7" one, but a 5" screen. You'll be able to compose better, the color and contrast will be much more accurate than the lousy 3" LCD on your camera, you can throw in a LUT so you can preview how your work will look in post, the audio level meter will be a whole lot more usable than the toy one provided in your camera, and it'll allow you to monitor audio. That's right - if you're not monitoring your audio, you're just leaving everything up to chance. If you're not convinced, just have a look at any one of forum member @Boygetslost's short films and tell me that audio isn't important! If you're struggling with focus like I was with my Panasonic, well, with the BMD Video Assist, the focus peaking lights up like a Christmas tree, even when for the life of me, I can't see any peaking on the G85. And while I'm not yet at the point where I don't need any exposure aids like Andrew Reid, it's a whole lot easier gauging exposure with a larger screen. You say you want discrete? Well, I've been able to walk right up to subjects shooting with the Zhiyun Crane without anyone suspecting I was shooting them, and with six pounds of magnesium alloy, plastic, glass and faux fur sitting in my lap, I've been able to capture people without them having a clue what I was up to. 

img_0280.jpg

 

I couldn't disagree much more strongly. That kind of rigging is taking away everything good about a dSLR and adding nothing but headaches. The only exposure aid I need is my 758 cine (heck, with zebras I don't even need the spot meter) and the only sound I would use from an on-camera mic would be for syncing dual system sound. Even with the best pre-amps in the world, your mic is still in the wrong place if it's on-camera. I can see the handle or a small cage being useful for balance, or maybe a loupe in daylight being helpful, but beyond that I don't see the point.

That said, not everyone agrees with me! If it works for you it works for you. As I mentioned before, s union AC I worked with did the same thing with a C300 when shooting a super bowl ad, rigging it out like crazy... and it is not designed to be rigged out. I asked what the point was when the ergonomics are great (for me) out of the box, but apparently the operator wanted a large 435-like form factor as it was what he was used to, having a film background. He wanted the thing to weigh 50 pounds.

But for me the smallest rig is the best one. If I wanted to weigh it down I'd tape a barbell to it. I do often get asked to use a matte box or something so clients and insecure actors will feel like the small camera is a real "cinema camera" but nothing makes me more irritated than this request. "Is that a real camera? Yes, are you a real actor? If so it'll show in your performance. If it's a real camera it'll show in the footage." But when I get that request it doesn't even reflect on the camera it reflects on me. If you think you know more about my job than I do, you've already lost confidence in me just by asking for a larger camera. Project your insecurities elsewhere. I'm doing my job well, worry about doing the same. Ugg... actors. So insecure it even wipes off on camera department.

I'm not saying I complete disagree, though. The Black Magic cameras, for instance, have such poor ergonomics that they need to be rigged up. Just offering a dissenting opinion. Each will have his or her own preferences. (And for mirrorless still cameras like the GH5 and A7S I do think the ergonomics are so poor that they often benefit from having a small cage and an HDMI clamp, but beyond that I don't see the point.)

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10 hours ago, HockeyFan12 said:

I couldn't disagree much more strongly. That kind of rigging is taking away everything good about a dSLR and adding nothing but headaches. The only exposure aid I need is my 758 cine (heck, with zebras I don't even need the spot meter) and the only sound I would use from an on-camera mic would be for syncing dual system sound. Even with the best pre-amps in the world, your mic is still in the wrong place if it's on-camera. I can see the handle or a small cage being useful for balance, or maybe a loupe in daylight being helpful, but beyond that I don't see the point.

That said, not everyone agrees with me! If it works for you it works for you. As I mentioned before, s union AC I worked with did the same thing with a C300 when shooting a super bowl ad, rigging it out like crazy... and it is not designed to be rigged out. I asked what the point was when the ergonomics are great (for me) out of the box, but apparently the operator wanted a large 435-like form factor as it was what he was used to, having a film background. He wanted the thing to weigh 50 pounds.

But for me the smallest rig is the best one. If I wanted to weigh it down I'd tape a barbell to it. I do often get asked to use a matte box or something so clients and insecure actors will feel like the small camera is a real "cinema camera" but nothing makes me more irritated than this request. "Is that a real camera? Yes, are you a real actor? If so it'll show in your performance. If it's a real camera it'll show in the footage." But when I get that request it doesn't even reflect on the camera it reflects on me. If you think you know more about my job than I do, you've already lost confidence in me just by asking for a larger camera. Project your insecurities elsewhere. I'm doing my job well, worry about doing the same. Ugg... actors. So insecure it even wipes off on camera department.

I'm not saying I complete disagree, though. The Black Magic cameras, for instance, have such poor ergonomics that they need to be rigged up. Just offering a dissenting opinion. Each will have his or her own preferences. (And for mirrorless still cameras like the GH5 and A7S I do think the ergonomics are so poor that they often benefit from having a small cage and an HDMI clamp, but beyond that I don't see the point.)

Just like my 100-page ETTR rant, I encourage everyone to experiment and find out what works for them. The stereo mic in the picture is just for capturing ambient sound: you can always throw in a mixer and record with a lav mic or shotgun. In addition to the advantages I mentioned above, I'd add that you've got peace of mind knowing you've got backup media - the in-camera SD card as well as the one in the recorder/monitor. And when you want to go discrete, there's a quick release plate as well. And I swear I'm more invisible when shooting with a crazy big rig than with the camera alone. 

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2 hours ago, jonpais said:

And I swear I'm more invisible when shooting with a crazy big rig than with the camera alone. 

There is a curious paradox that you're experiencing there regarding acceptance of more overt activity that you would think would put people more on their guard but its often the exact opposite.

Its a phenomenon that I experience a lot when shooting flavour stuff outside stadiums of spectators before kick off. My preferred way of doing it is using small mirrorless cameras as I can't stand people who ham it up when they see a chance to get in a newspaper and I much prefer candid shots. It has to be said though that people are far more on their guard if they see you pointing a small camera in their general direction as they think you are up to something furtive. This is also very much the case with security services who are now unfortunately part and parcel of major sporting events because of terrorism. 

So whilst we all want to strip everything down and not make a song and dance of our presence, it actually often pays to be less discrete as people just accept you must be doing something legit and authorised if you're wielding big stuff.

Its counter intuitive to say the least but its definitely a thing.

See also 'furry mic syndrome' where wielding a large Rycote encased microphone on a boompole is like some sort of magic wand that grants de facto filming permission in most public places ;)

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2 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

See also 'furry mic syndrome' where wielding a large Rycote encased microphone on a boompole is like some sort of magic wand that grants de facto filming permission in most public places ;)


Sadly the director on the feature film I worked on recently believed the exact OPPOSITE, and constantly wanted me to "hide" my boom pole and blimp. 

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5 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

There is a curious paradox that you're experiencing there regarding acceptance of more overt activity that you would think would put people more on their guard but its often the exact opposite.

So whilst we all want to strip everything down and not make a song and dance of our presence, it actually often pays to be less discrete as people just accept you must be doing something legit and authorised if you're wielding big stuff.

So true. People have a natural tendency to think that if you're not making an effort to hide the fact you're filming on a big-ass camera, you must not be doing anything out of the ordinary.

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On 17/07/2017 at 10:36 PM, EthanAlexander said:

FS5. No joke. The electronic variable ND, S Log view assist, tilty/flippy LCD + tilty EVF, top handle, side handle, a bunch of customizable buttons... I spend less time figuring out HOW to film and more time on WHAT.

Selling up to what? Also, couple questions:

What about the 4K/60 and 120- have you tried it? I'm about to have a sports client and that 120 burst seems mighty enticing because we can pull stills for social media and website.

I'm guessing that you're delivering at 1080 if you're saying that the 4K ProRes is only slightly better - Am I wrong?

I've been debating if it's the time to get the raw upgrade and everything I've seen on YT/Vimeo seems like it's a win, so I'm curious why you're not impressed.

Oh, and what's the data rate of the cDNG?

I do like the FS5 and what it does. 

At the moment, it's playing 2nd fiddle to the A6500, as I'm using that on a Zhiyun Crane. 

As I'm now focusing a lot on camera movement, and with the fact I'm not going to be using the FS5 on a gimbal, I might have to concede that it's no longer the right tool for the job. 

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21 hours ago, jonpais said:

Just like my 100-page ETTR rant, I encourage everyone to experiment and find out what works for them. The stereo mic in the picture is just for capturing ambient sound: you can always throw in a mixer and record with a lav mic or shotgun. In addition to the advantages I mentioned above, I'd add that you've got peace of mind knowing you've got backup media - the in-camera SD card as well as the one in the recorder/monitor. And when you want to go discrete, there's a quick release plate as well. And I swear I'm more invisible when shooting with a crazy big rig than with the camera alone. 

Again, I agree to disagree. I've never even seen stereo audio captured on set (always a 416 or Schoeps or something with lavs mixed for stereo and 5.1 after), but I understand that it's useful for some stuff. My experience is in narrative but for ambient recordings I guess binaural is valuable. I listen to a lot of binaural recordings for music and they're great and I wish more narrative film were mixed like that, actually.

I also strongly disagree about the value of ETTR except on a camera-by-camera and case-by-case basis. I think it benefits the Red, for instance, even when possible using color filters and exposing each channel to the right, and fixing both white balance and exposure in post, assuming you want a "slick" commercial look. Whereas Rob Zombie's DP is a friend of a friend and he exposes the Red at 3200 ISO intentionally to intentionally muddy it up, as he finds that look preferable to a post grain pass for "gritty" footage. And I just find the color vs saturation values and even the hue vs lum shifts (I know I'm talking in Resolve terminology and not camera terminology but I stopped following camera tech closely after film was phased out) with most log colorspaces in particular to be inconsistent enough that (excepting maybe the Alexa) you're better off rating normally, or at the very least consistently, whereas ETTR is inconsistent by nature. Sony's F55 LUT threw me for a loop here in particular. And with inexpensive cameras that shoot 8 bit, ETTR is the surest way to generate banding even in cameras that normally don't suffer from it. That said, it's a case-by-case basis thing, but the cases where I would consider exposing with ETTR are vanishingly rare, especially because it adds such a huge headache in post having your vfx artists work with inconsistently exposed plates and your colorist do so many transforms, but I can see overexposing a stop or two consistently when possible, much as I would rate film 1/3 stop slower than it is, or using ETTR with particularly difficult exposures and fixing it in post rather than bracketing and comping or something.

But while I disagree strongly on both of those points, I strongly agree that it's valuable having and sharing different viewpoints. Readers will see whose goals mirror their own, and structure their needs around those who have similar goals and who have found effective ways to deal with them. So I think your post is really valuable, I'm just offering a counterpoint, from someone with a different perspective, one that's more rooted in narrative I assume, for better or worse. I think I have more concern for "good enough" than for "good" so for me ETTR isn't worth the hassle, but for others it definitely will be. (I'm also extremely lazy, and that's a huge factor in my workflows, often the biggest one.)

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