Check out this rare HD look at New York City from 1993 in this demo for D-VHS – an rare HD variation that worked on S-VHS tape.
Though this demo came out in 2002, the footage itself is from 1993 (as told by the ads in Time Square) recorded by perhaps a Sony SONY HDC-500 attached to a HDV-10 portable recorder which recorded on UniHi 3/4″ tape.
This is an interesting mix of analog and digital tech – not the kind of sharpness that we get from today’s cameras while having that softness and low dynamic range of VHS tape – it sort of looks like HDV only it was recorded more than a decade before HDV hit the market.
How do we get a glorified adding machine to generate a photorealistic image? Find out as we explore the processes developed over 40 years of intensive computer science research which now bring amazing Visual Effects to the silver screen which include Rasterization, Ray Casting, Ray Tracing and the Rendering Equation.
This lesson is sponsored by HP and the line of HP Z-Workstations: Delivering the power you need to innovate without boundaries.
There’s a term I learned from Adobe a few years ago - Demo-ware. Those are features and functions that make for a great demo at a convention but really have little practical application. Unfortunately a lot of production gear seems to be moving in that direction.
In my last course video on blocking, I talked about the difference between a center of gravity stabalizer like the Steadicam and a gimbal based stabilizer like the DJI Ronin. My conclusion is that a CoG stabalizer was a low tech simple solution where as the Gimbal stabalizer is a high tech solution. Low tech means fewer failure points. Well that didn’t jive with a lot of folks.
The internet may not be a great place for nuanced discussion but that’s not going to stop me from trying to inject a bit of gray into a black and white world. There are absolutely times when high tech is necessary to achieve the shot and does indeed make things easier… but you need to be honest about what that need really is.
Here is a motorized pan head by Movi which is controlled wirelessly by the guy wearing the glasses using only his head. The glasses are connected to a backpack and feed him the view from the camera. Now this is undeniably COOL SHIT!!! Show up to any gig with that and the client will talk about it for years to come. But is it necessary? Is it even something you really want? Do you really want to control the camera from you head movements?
Then there’s something like this Ultra-shot Hybrid designed by Lee Snijders now being sold by Glidecam Industries:
Now this is basically a Monopod with some handles, a counterweight, some gel padding and an offset camera plate… but it doubles as a monopod, a shoulder mount, a highhat and even a make shift center of gravity stabilizer. And it takes no batteries – there’s no moving parts to fix and it closes down into a small package. Want to take it on a plane – no worries and you won’t need to stow the LiPo batteries
Edelkrone’s StandPLUS is another one of those simple and elegant ideas:
The first thing I thought when I saw this device is how useful it would be for the theater shooter. It doesn’t have the stability of three legs like a full tripod but it would fit comfortably inbetween the seats during a live performance in a theater. This is simple, useful stuff, it may not be sexy but it fills a gap.
Instead what is getting the big news even before the show even started is high end tech like the Lytro Cinema Camera:
Capturing light fields at upwards of 455 gigabytes per second is simply impractical at ANY level. And for what really? So we can select focus later? So we can avoid rotoscoping? So we can change the angle slightly? Aren’t there easier and better ways to do the exact same thing without burning 455 gigs a second?
Let’s not confuse the idea of giving filmmakers “freedom” and delaying any and all decisions for later… Filmmaking is about making choices – make them! It’s not that I’m not glad Lytro is out there experimenting with this technology but all this needs to be balanced with practicality and an understanding of what really is needed in a workflow. Even though this stabalizer below is massive (banana for scale) it serves a real world purpose and function.
Just because it’s high tech doesn’t make it good. But it doesn’t make it bad either.
As a final sidenote, I might have to tip a Red Hat toward Glidecam for having custom labeled gummi bears at their booth. And they weren’t some crappy knockoff gummis but real juicy and soft gummis with a nice citrusy bite.
NAB is nothing without the buzz and excitement from big companies offering their latest wares – but truth be told the real joy is finding smaller companies with unique and innovative ideas. Switcher Studio, is one of those companies with a modest footprint on the show floor but a potentially useful product solution.
Basically Switcher Studio allows you to set up a multi-cam live switching shoot using iOS devices as both your cameras and switcher. Show up, put you phones on tripods and start cutting between them live. There’s even screen sharing capabilities so you can use a laptop to do software demos or even cheat and use it as a media store to playback videos.
Multiple cameras is one of those keys to adding value to a live production and as our mobile devices get better and better cameras – incorporating them into a production just makes life easier especially on the low end of production. Sure it has limitations but for $25/month for the pro version, it could be useful for the live interview shooter on a tight budget.
I haven’t personally tried out Switcher Studio except at their demo booth at NAB show 2016. I can’t vouch for how well this works and I do need to handle more robust camera inputs (I’ve been very impressed with vMix which you should check out if you have a dedicated computer for switching), but in talking to Switcher Studio I feel like this is something worth keeping an eye on.
Every April video technophiles make their annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas to take part in one the biggest conventions in the video and broadcast world. No I’m not talking about the Movie Theater Owner’s Convention - I’m talking about the NAB show. Previous years have brought us industry trends and breakthroughs like HD, UHD and that one year when everybody was showing off 3D (yeah that went well). With all the filmmaking blogosphere lit up with the latest press releases, we decided to focus on the news from the show that you can actually use… which booths had the best candy.
In the candy arena sadly all the broadcast companies were absent from the playing field. The sprawling displays from Canon, Sony, Red, etc contain NO CANDY whatsoever. Even Blackmagic Design which usually features a new camera that they will ship hopefully a week or two before the following NAB, did not offer free confection to convention goers. The ONLY exception was AVID with a bowl of those chalky peppermint life savers:
Really… can we even call these abominations “candy”?
In order get real candy you have to turn to the smaller companies who really understand why the public is there in the first place. These more enlightened marketers you can classify into two camps: First the hard candy and chews group:
From the striped peppermint with Tootsie rolls, to the assorted Jolly Ranchers and Starburst, the hard candy and chews category is my favorite for conventioneering. Though these booths put up a reasonable fight the ultimate runner up in this category belongs to a small company from Japan called NanGuang. Notice the sparse plating and presentation accentuating the rarity. The candy itself is an import from Japan complete with Japanese characters on the wrapper, my selection was a striped red and white piece with a flavor reminiscent of strawberry shortcake.
But the ultimate winner of in the hard candy and chews category belongs to…
Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Not only are there Linux Dum Dums and Werther’s Original Caramels – Red Hat’s offering includes Nerds. Nerds are the prized candies of all convention candies – first and foremost because they come in a box. Secondly your Nerds experience can be controlled by how you eat them. For a sweet experience, let them slowly dissolve on your tongue. For a more intense and somewhat sour hit, chew the little buggers to release a flavor explosion.
And now for the category most of you are waiting for – the Chocolate category.
The Chocolate category saw much fewer entries this year being that chocolate isn’t a very welcome candy in the Las Vegas Heat. Accuweather put up a good entry with a mix of bit sized Hershey bars while Dell’s blue and silver Hershey Kisses are both satisfying and nostalgic. But the Runner Up goes to… Post Magazine
Andes are so awesome they used to be served with your check at fancy restaurants. That’s how amazing they are. Still despite the fancy name – the winner of the Chocolate category as well as the winner of the sweepstakes title “Booth with the Best Candy” goes to…
These pieces of chocolate are the diameter of a Reese’s peanut butter cup but twice as thick. And instead of peanut butter, they are one solid chunk of delicious milk chocolate. The sheer amount of chocolate and originality puts this entry head and shoulders above the competition from both the chocolate and the hard candy and chews category. Congratulations to KenCast for their spectacular entry!
With NAB just around the corner – Adobe has released their latest updates to their Creative Cloud software:
To me, the most exciting new feature is how proxies are going to be handled. Now that every camera is throwing out bigger and bigger files into our workflow, responsiveness can suffer. And when you’re waiting, you can’t be creative and try new things. I’ll be very interested in putting these proxy systems into work:
As someone that spends a lot of time in After Effects, I’m also looking forward to the rendering and playback performance improvements as well. Thank goodness they brought Lumetri into the After Effects environment!
Of course there’s also the addition of VR video handling as well as some upgrades to make audio editing easier for the beginner… You can check out the full press release of upcoming upgrades. The new versions of Adobe CC Video products are expected to be released in the coming months.
How a director stages a scene dramatically affects the story – in this experiment at YouTube Space LA, we take a boilerplate police detective script and shoot it five ways with five different types of blocking to demonstrate how direction and acting can really change the feel of a scene.
This experiment will take the exact same script shooting the scene using standard over the shoulder back and forth – advanced over the shoulder with business, a One Take shot, a Romantic comedy blocking and a Zucker Brothers style comedy.
Very recently we shared a video on how Hitchcock blocks a scene where I took some reservations about ascribing too much forethought into a Hitchcock directed scene. Much of my experience in this and previous filmmaking experience has shown that blocking dialogue scenes does require a great deal more collaboration than just storyboarding precise movements. I hope this demonstrative experiments shows a lot of what can happen on set.
Freddie Wong walks you through the process of recreating the face swap effect (as seen in our short Mexican Standoff) using Adobe After Effects. Here you’ll learn how to use concepts like tracking, roto and the puppet tool together.