Sony a7S Astrophotography Review

Ian Norman delivers an incredibly in-depth review of the new Sony a7S – a camera renowned for low light which should be a great candidate for astrophotography.


As soon as the Sony a7S was announced, I knew I had to try it for astrophotography. With a full frame sensor and ISO 409600, is it the best low light camera out there?


The Sony a7S is the third variation of the full-frame mirrorless a7 series of cameras that Sony has recently released. First Sony released the 24.3 megapixel a7 and 36.4 megapixel a7R, the first mirrorless cameras with full-frame 24mm x 36mm sensors. The recently released a7S seems like sort of the oddball of the three a7 variations: It has only a 12.2 megapixel sensor and at the time of this writing, it costs almost $1000 more than the a7 and $200 more than the much higher resolution a7R. But with that 12.2 megapixel sensor comes some distinct advantages, especially for low-light photography and video.

12.2 Megapixels

With the a7S, it seems like you’re paying more for less. But even with a sensor resolution that is a third the resolution of the cheaper a7R, the a7S offers two things in return: sensitivity and 4K video (sort of*). The A7s has larger pixels than pretty much any consumer level full-frame digital camera. The larger pixel size means that each pixel can collect physically more light. The more light per pixel, the better the signal to noise ratio for that pixel and so that pixel will more accurately detect the incoming light than a smaller pixel would. This means that, all other things being equal, the A7s should be capable of the best per pixel signal-to-noise ratio of any production camera. This means that it should arguably be the best camera for astrophotography yet.

PetaPixel | Read the Full Article

Adam Epstein Talks Editing for SNL and “The Cutting Edge” Workshop

SNL editor Adam Epstein opens up on the incredibly fast workflow of editing for a weekly sketch comedy show.

Adam Epstein

Adam Epstein is a freelance editor. For the last five years, he’s worked with the Saturday Night Live film unit, editing parody pieces of all kinds. He’s just begun a nationwide workshop tour with “The Cutting Edge Post-Production Tour,” a day-long seminar covering techniques, theories and editing insights.

We recently spoke to Epstein about editing, working on SNL and the workshop tour.

Filmmaker: How did you become an editor?

Epstein: In my experience, it’s never a direct path. I started out in school, working on a student-run sketch comedy show, and we were able to get our hands on some of the first gear that you were able to shoot and edit with in a reasonable amount of time without having to hire someone. That’s where I got hooked on manipulating pixels and story, and the fun that comes along with that, both from a filmmaking and a tech geek perspective.

In college I had an internship at NBC in their promo/on-air department, and after that a job as a writer, producer and editor in on-air promos in Los Angeles. A lot of people think of on-air promos as less than serious, but for me it was a great place to learn how to make something out of nothing. You’re working with not the best footage, not the best shows, and you have to use your brain to come up with a story and make the footage better. After that I moved into commercial post-production, which had a more traditional, big-budget, real film workflow. That was a real learning experience as far as how to work with multiple houses for sound mixing and color, a real trial-by-fire high-pressure environment. When I came to New York and the SNL opportunity presented itself, that combination of environments gave me a wide range of experiences and styles to pull from.

Filmmaker Magazine | Read the Full Article

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about 4K

During the live “The Benefits of Using 4K Now” webinar, presenters James Fox, Geoff Peck and Scott Hamilton presented info that content creators need to consider in the present and future when it comes to 4K.

4K vs 1080

When downsampling 4K 420 8bit, will I obtain 1080 444 10bit?

Dawnrunner Team: 4:4:4 Color sampling means that the chroma value of every pixel of the image is being sampled. 4:2:0 means that the chroma resolution is half of the actual resolution, so when shooting 4K your color resolution is actually 2k (lumanince still being sampled at 4K). Your color is already downsampled, so you won’t really benefit as greatly from further downsampling. Downsampling 8bit footage will not make it 10bit, but I do suggest working in 16 or 32 bit color anyway and you won’t lose any of the color depth you had before. While the benefits are not as great with 4:2:0 footage, there will still be a noticable difference by downsampling.

Do we not still work inside the rec709 color space? I mean, consumer 4K TVs ARE rec709, but Sony is the only one developing a rec2020 OLED display. I really see the benefit in shooting 4K and delivering 2K, but what about REAL 4K?

Dawnrunner Team: First, I do think that part of the benefit of shooting and working in 4K is not only the increased spatial resolution but also the improved color. That said, one of the biggest advantages in the having better color rendition is for the post production artists; compositors and graders will get better results when they have better footage to start with. We can’t control the how a consumer will view content, but we can support people with the best displays now. In a year or two the average consumer will be buying displays that do support wider color spaces and at least our content will be there for them to view.

PVC Coalition | Read the Full Article

Why Were People & Critics So Infatuated With Frozen?

What to say about Frozen that hasn’t been said… well let’s get meta and talk about the fact that so much has been said about Frozen!! Seriously, people LOVE analyzing and critiquing this movie. It’s inspired dozens of think-pieces, covering everything from its portrayal of gender roles, to cultural appropriation, to the definition of true love. Frozen, and its complexity, has touched something in viewers. Could it be its morphing of traditional fairy tale tropes? Watch the episode and find out!


What Are Some of the Telltale Signs of a Bad Actor?

Marcus Geduld  examines 11 telltale signs of a bad actor.

Troll 2

I’m a theatre director, and I’ll list the traits I think of as bad, though “bad acting” is subjective. I was reminded of that today, when my wife, Lisa, and I finished watching a show. Lisa has as much experience in the theatre as I do; she’s very smart and has excellent taste. But, after the show, when I was done railing about how bad the lead actor was, she said, “I thought he was really good.” So take my opinion (or anyone’s) with the grain of salt it deserves. (Though, of course, I was right and Lisa was wrong.)

1. Emotional armor. When I watch actors, I want to see vulnerability. One skill great actors have is allowing themselves to be (emotionally) naked in front of a lot of strangers. This is extremely hard, as we spend our lives learning how to not do that. I am not necessarily talking about wailing and crying. Watch Anthony Hopkins in “Remains of the Day” and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

When I work with actors, the biggest hurdles come when they try to protect themselves. Different actors do that in different ways: some flinch from the uglier sides of human nature*; others have certain feelings they’d rather not explore; some simply don’t want to look unattractive. One of the many reasons Bryan Cranston is so great (see “Breaking Bad”) is because he’ll do scenes in his underpants — literally and figuratively.

* I once worked with a good actor who had a serious emotional wall. In real life, he was a true gentleman: the kind of guy who would run into a burning building to save a child. But in the play we were doing, his character had to watch while another man molested his girlfriend.

The actor had immense trouble with the scene (and I don’t blame him). He was supposed to stand there and do nothing. He kept coming to me and saying things like, “What if I try to fight, but some of the bad guy’s henchmen hold me down?” I couldn’t let him do that. The point of the scene was that his character was totally cowed by the bad guy. His character simply loses his nerve — becomes unmanned. The actor didn’t want to explore being unmanned, and he didn’t want the audience to see him that way. It was a problem!

Huffington Post | Read the Full Article

Follow Me: The Life of YouTube Celebrity Brittani Louise Taylor

Since 2007, funny gal Brittani Louise Taylor has created hundreds of videos on YouTube, ranging from vlogs to spoofs to her weekly Shout Out Sunday show. We get to know BLT at home as she preps for all aspects of her demanding production schedule while finding time to balance her off-camera social life and relationships.

Brittani Louise Taylor

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