Archive for category Gear

Pro “as Arri” Lights

So the other day I was thinking about investing in a light kit for my video work. There were a couple of options and I was really leaning toward getting a Lowel DV Creator 1 kit. But after researching my options a little more I found that a couple friends were having good results using a cheap knock off kit out if China that resembles Arri lights.
After searching a couple days on eBay I found a complete set of two peppers a tweenie and a baby for 650 dollars, minus scrims. So I decided to bite the bullet and put in a bid. I won.
Now they have already shipped and in about a week they should be here. I can’t wait to try them out on upcoming projects.

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Thoughts On Building My Hackintosh

A Few weeks ago I bit the bullet and purchased around $1500 in computer parts.  I did this for a couple reasons, one to give me an edge in editing and to build a business with it.  The other is because I really like Apple’s operating system better than window’s and I wanted a nice machine that didn’t cost as much from Apple with the same specs.  So I went for it. I researched for a couple months and followed along with the newest hardware that was supposedly compatible with OSX Mountain Lion.  When I found a configuration that people said they weren’t having problems with I finally gave in.

The wait wasn’t long at all, I re-signed up for Amazon Prime since I get it half price for still being a student. I got everything except the motherboard from Amazon.  I got the motherboard from NewEgg, so the motherboard came a few days after everything else.  Once everything was delivered I laid aside most everything and started to put the pieces together. Unboxed the case, looked it over, removed the side panels and laid it on its side.  Unboxing everything was like a kid on Christmas morning, joy and excitement, but not about play toys, about a powerhouse waiting to be unleashed.  I took the motherboard out of its packaging, gently placed it into position and set the screws. Next the processor, then the graphics card, firewire card, and hard drives.  It took a while to do this as it was my first ever build.  Then finding the proper power connections on the motherboard for fans, case power and also the front ports took a while to to find as well.  But hooking up the power supply was a breeze as I have switched out a few on older machines.

Next was powering up and setting the BIOS to work to Mac standards. Not a problem, installing OSX from a USB drive, not a problem. I was impressed with what I was seeing.  Then I installed the drivers to make the ports and sound work. What happened after was great, I could hear music now and life seemed great… that is until I restarted the computer.  On the loading apple screen right after the circular loading indicator appeared my screen filled with text and needed to be shut off, it was a kernel panic. I didn’t know what to do, I thought it was from the drivers that I had loaded so I did what the next reasonable person would have done, I did a clean install.  After clean installing I went and tried different combinations of drivers, but each time I didn’t have success. I did over 20 clean installs.

Then I did more research and learned that all this could be avoided by changing the machine’s boot.plist file.  But you still had to install the drivers first and then change it on start up.  So you go into single user mode and type in code, unix code.  So I learned a little bit of unix, it’s like DOS and once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. Went and changed a few values in the list and violá, it worked and booted up just fine.

Testing was fun and now I know that my machine has a little personality, external drives have to be connected to the computer before booting up, otherwise the computer won’t recognize them and will freeze.  Kinda annoying but oh well, youtube and flash based web players will flicker really bad unless it is in fullscreen mode, that’s even more annoying.  Now I don’t care anymore because it wasn’t really made for browsing, it was made for editing.  I have Adobe CS6 Production Premium working most perfectly, have a small issue with photoshop. Adobe is super fast and can handle a lot. I can’t seem to get Avid to work, but I hope I can figure out a solution someday.

So far, I love it, great functionality at a fraction of the price.

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Canon C300, Red Scarlet, GoPro Hero2 and many more

The past couple of months have given us some very interesting new toys, or tools depending on the maturity level of the beholder.  One thing is for sure, these new cameras are top notch and would be a welcome addition to any cinematographer’s toolkit.

The first one to come out was the Hero2 by GoPro.  These things are built like a brick and could could probably survive an impact from space, no wonder it is the ultimate extreme sports camera.  The Hero2 sports the same size and look with a couple minor outer differences from its predecessor, and that is an LED light on all sides and some added ports.  Users of this camera now have a stereo audio jack for improved sound, and a mini HDMI for HD playback straight from the camera.  Also improved is the sensor, brains and lens.  Three different field of view angles lets you choose how much of the scenery one can see, and at the smaller angles lens distortion isn’t as much.  It sports 11 megapixels and can shoot 10 stills in one second.  A very amazing camera, below you can see an amazing promo video using only shots from the Hero2.

Next up is the Canon 1Dx, announced on the 18th of October this camera looks to be the next generation of HD-DSLRs.  Not being available till next year Canon is forcing us to drool over the spec list which could be updated when the camera finally becomes available.  Everything about this camera is sweet, well, almost everything, it has an MSRP of $7000.  Other than that being the only drawback this camera has dual CF card slots, can capture full HD clips up to 29 minutes long, and many other features that are just awesome.  This camera is foremost a still camera designed for photographers but it’s great to see Canon now thinking of the videographer even more with their products. Still haven’t seen any sample footage.

Next up from Canon is their first ever cinema camera, the C300.  This beauty of a camera was revealed last week on the 3rd of November and looks to do some amazing things.  The sensor is the size of a 4k camera but don’t let that fool you, it actually outputs 1080p. Why? because every 4 pixels is one red, one blue and two green and the camera puts them together as one pixel with a very dynamic color range.  So while it may not be as big of an image as everyone hoped, it sure will have some of the best footage to color grade.  Also this camera shares some features of the 1Dx, that of dual CF card slots, time code sharing and the ability to use any Canon EF lens.  So will Canon finally start to make a dent in the cinema market?  Time will tell, but in the meantime here is a short produced by Vincent Lafloret using the C300.

And RED on the 3rd came out and stole a little bit of Canon’s thunder, well, a lot of Canon’s thunder.  RED finally unveiled the Scarlet camera.  Full frame with a 4K sensor this baby can put out the same image quality as the RED Epic, the only difference between the Scarlet and the Epic is the Scarlet has brains that aren’t as powerful as the Epic’s, and it also happens to be $20,000 cheaper.  The body for the Scarlet is $10,000 but you can get a shooting ready package for $15,000. No sample footage out yet of he Scarlet but we don’t really need it.  But to whet your whistle The Hobbit is being filmed on the Scarlet’s bigger brother, the Epic.

There were also other cameras released in the past couple of months.  Sony is trying to get into the DSLR video market with some smaller mirror less camera. It looks ok but I don’t know where I stand on that.  I am pretty taken by Canon on the DSLR as they are the ones who pioneered the video DSLR. Man, with all these new cameras coming out it is a great time to be a filmmaker.

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Let’s Talk Tablets

Today Amazon has announced the release and specs of its new tablet, the Kindle Fire.  The news about this is pretty interesting because it will be $300 cheaper than Apple’s lowest iPad.  While I can see some reasons for it having a lower price tag besides not being from Apple, it doesn’t look like it has many limitations, those being no microphone and no camera.  Now that we have competition in the marketplace we can expect better features in the future from both companies.

I’m an Apple fan but Amazon has something neat right here, and that is running off of android.  Android phones actually have more apps that control Canon EOS cameras from the phone.  That means not only could the Kindle Fire be used as a traveling portfolio to show clients but could also serve to be a field monitor for video shoots.  How awesome is that, sounds like a winner to me.  Follow this link to see Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos give the announcement.

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Data Wrangling Basics

Every job on set is of equal importance but if there is one that is not as appreciated as much I would say it would be the data wrangler.  The data wrangler’s job is that of copying all images and sound acquired digitally to at least two separate backup drives.  So if the data wrangler makes a mistake there is good chance that a whole days work might be lost, and that is not good at all.  So for those just starting out on a data wrangling job and feel a little overwhelmed, Evan Luzi from The Black and Blue has you covered and will give you a couple pointers:

He goes into more detail and shows you how you should layout your folders for the footage in this next video:

Evan is using a basic kit which includes a Macbook Pro, card reader and two hard drives. One thing to remember about hard drives is that the production will buy them, do not buy them with your own money or the money you are being paid for the job.  The hard drives go straight to editing and you will never see them again.

Good luck on your next data wrangling adventure.

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Final Cut X Not Doing Too Hot

Well it’s been a couple of weeks and things just don’t seem to be going good at all for Final Cut Pro X. Too many cons and people just keep seeming to jump off the boat and going to Adobe. If you have Final Cut you can get 50% off of their production suite. And the best thing about Premiere Pro for Final Cut users is that you can open Final Cut projects. Also you can use the same keyboard shortcuts. Check out this post from Koo to show you how.

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Awesome DIY Camera Projects

Every man in the  industry thinks he needs all the hi-tech gear he can afford.  The problem with that is most likely he doesn’t have the money.  Everything is so expensive and for those who don’t have the cash (poor college kids like me).  So like many people say, “if you can’t afford it, build it.”

You can find lots of tutorials for DIY projects online, but the ones I find most appealing are from Austin Wilson at DVRebellion.  He has compiled a list of short easy to understand tutorials.  I am already inclined to go start building.  Right here is one of his tutorials for a slider.

I’ll be making that one first, followed by his jib crane.  He has even more for some pretty awesome stuff you can build on the cheap. Visit his DIY page by clicking here.

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