June 1, 2011

Timelapse Remote

Don't really know what I NEED a time lapse remote for but I thought it would be a fun addition so I snagged one off of ebay for $20. Now to put it to some good use... Video to come. Any suggestions on what I should shoot?

May 29, 2011

Shoulder Mount In Action

Filmed this wedding last week primarily using the shoulder mount reviewed in EP03 along with the Konova slider reviewed in EP02. Let me know what you think.

May 26, 2011

Modern|Filmmaker Episode 3 - DIY Shoulder Mount

Ideas and Inspiration from: http://cheesycam.com/pvc-camera-shoulder-support/

May 18, 2011

Follow Focus

Found this follow focus on ebay a few weeks back. I'm finally getting around to playing with it while working on a DIY rail to mount it to my 550D. I must say, for the price, this thing is pretty awesome. Check out the sellers page [here] and stay tuned for a hands on review in M|F Episode 4.

May 16, 2011

Tascam One-Ups the Zoom H1 for the Same Price.

Tascam recently entered the sub $100 portable flash recorder market combining style and functionality taking the market by surprise with their new DR-05 model Linear PCM Recorder. This new little beauty is the new kid on the block and is now in direct competition with Zoom's H1 portable recorder which has been the go-to device for indie filmmakers since its debut.

I picked one of these up a few weeks back and have only had a few opportunities to play around with it. Sound quality seems to be right on par with zoom. Functionality far surpasses zoom with easier menu navigation and front facing buttons. And as for build quality and durability- this thing is incredible for the price. It has just enough added weight to give it more of a professional feel without being uncomfortably heavy and as you can see it looks far more professional as well.

May 15, 2011

Recording Life - Learn From My Mistakes

Sometimes just having a camera on hand to film an evening out with friends can land you with some pretty cool results. You may not know what the night has in store so just film everything. My one word of caution is always triple check your camera settings. I knew I wanted to mess around with the time mapping of each clip and thought I was shooting at 60fps which would have remapped nicely in post with a little cinema tools action. What I had forgotten was that earlier in the day I switched it back to 30fps to get a single shot and never switched it back - *facepalm*- So I threw together this short video that had the potential to be something great but instead turned in to a life lesson.

Learn from my mistakes and enjoy...

May 14, 2011

Modern|Filmmaker Episode 2 - Konova Slider

Many of you have already seen the Konova Slider blog post but have asked to see it in action. Episode 2 of Modern Filmmaker dives into some of the details of this popular little slider and ends with a short video shot on it.

update: Ran into some technical difficulties... please excuse the audio.

May 13, 2011

Let there be [affordable/portable] light.

We all understand the importance of lighting and how it can affect our end results. Light kits are the best way to light a scene and in most cases will be your primary source of light. That said, if you are shooting a live event - a wedding, a concert, etc. - you will rarely be staging your own lighting setup. So what options do you have? Most people would recommend camera mounted LED bricks, UFOs, or cam kits. - As would I.

For a cheap alternative, take a look at this camping light. It's pretty much a spitting image of the RotoLight for a fraction of the cost. For under $15 bucks you could snag a few of these to keep with you at all times. Trust me, mine has come in handy quite a few times. 
update: Haven't tried these yet but they should fit no problem with a little DIY velcro work.

April 13, 2011

Live Demo of FCPX at NAB

Thanks to youtuber machineurs we have this fairly lengthy sneak peak at Apple's newest addition to the pro app family. This is video #2 of 2 but is the one that I found most interesting. To see more check out his page at the link above... If you'd like to skip ahead to the good stuff start your playhead at around 14:05 to see speed, speed ramping, color correction, color matching, and much much more. I must say I'm getting giddy.

Final Cut Pro X Announced for June- $299 Price Tag.

[Courtesy of Apple]

As you may have heard, last night at the NAB conference Apple announced their new Final Cut Pro X. FCPX is a revolutionary next step in Apple's pro app lineup. It not only is a complete redesign of FCP from the ground up- it redefines pricing, simplicity, and the overall demographic of the pro app world. It incorporates many new/super exciting features, i.e. background rendering, multitasking during import, magnetic timeline, and probably one of the most notable... the $299 price point- making a once niche software at a niche price completely accessible to the masses.

I have no doubt that Apple knows what they are doing but the UI redesign, although slick, has me worried. Now, it may just be the simple concept of change that gets me pacing back and forth, or the fact that it mimics the appearance of imovie rather than the norm of entry level mimicing pro. I'm sure I will warm up to it and don't get me wrong I'm super pumped. Maybe all it will take is getting my hands on it for a few hours and I know I'll be sold but I just can't help but have that shadow of a doubt in the back of my mind...but who am I kidding...background rendering makes everything worth it.


April 4, 2011

Making the Right Choice

When it comes to non-linear editing (NLE) there are quite a few options out there. More than likely your decision will need to be among the 'big three': Final Cut Studio, Avid Media Composer, and Adobe Premier...there is the occasional Sony Vegas user, so I guess we can make that a fourth. Now the question is- How do you choose?

Bundles & Features:
With such a wide range in pricing it is critical that we take into account what we are getting for the cost. Take a look at this breakdown and comparison. 

Now, looks aren't everything, but as an editor you will find yourself immersed in the software for hours- so you better like what you see. A friendly user interface says a lot about a program. It should make sense and be intuitive. Throughout your search you'll notice many similarities across the board but you'll know when you find the right one.

March 14, 2011

Contour vs Go Pro

This past week I had the pleasure of working on a film shoot down in Mexico (part of the reason it has taken so long to update the blog). The DP preferred Contour cams over Go Pro which baffled me given all of the buzz there has been around the Go Pro HD lately. So it got me to thinking- what makes one 1080p micro cam better than another? Vimeo member Spencer Johnson has taken the time to create the comparison below. All-in-all it's hard to tell any huge differences. Is one more cinematic than the other? Have you had any good or bad experiences? What do you prefer?

Go Pro HD Hero Vs. Contour HD 1080p

Update: Keep in mind that although Go Pro now has their Bacpac LCD screen, Contour also plans to release a bluetooth version of the Contour that, with the aid of an iphone app, will stream a low-res version to the palm of your hand to remotely check your framing. Enjoy his review and don't forget to post your own experiences, opinions, or preference.

February 26, 2011

Green Screen

In the market for a good green screen? Looking to save a few bucks? This little guy popped onto the web not too long ago and at a very reasonable price. To top it all off- free shipping for Amazon Prime Members. What's it got? It's a two-in-one, pop-up, green/blue screen meaning it can be collapsed and set up in a matter of seconds. Not too shabby that's for sure.

    UPDATE: EphoINC.com has them for $10 cheaper.

February 21, 2011

"As Arri" Light Kit Review

Awhile back I posted this article about an Arri knock-off kit that was referenced over at cheesycam.com. There were tons of questions surrounding quality, durability, authenticity, etc. So this little review addresses many of those questions.

Unfortunately, until I get my hands onto an actual 650w Arri light, I can't do a side by side comparison. However, I can say that because it uses the same bulbs the color temperature is very accurate and judging from my past experiences with Arri kits, the lights are almost spot on.

(Side Note: Although not the best candidate for seeing these lights in action, the lighting for this review was done with 2 of the 3 Arri lights.)

February 8, 2011

DIY - Skater Dolly

Alright guys, this one I'm going to need some input on...Recently, I decided to work on another DIY project using some of the leftover PVC from the DIY-Shoulder Mount. This one was pretty simple and ran me somewhere in the vicinity of $8.50 with a little help from the Sal on the rollerblades.

It rolls smoothly, readjusts easily, and stores perfectly. But I can't seem to come up with a solid solution for the most important piece...the fluid head mount. As it stands, I took a pvc end cap and drilled a 3/4" hole in it to hold the fluid head. But it tends to wobble and doesn't want to sit straight. Any ideas are welcome.

PVC: $3
Bolts: $2
Wheels: $3.50

Film Riot Reviews T2i vs 5DMii

As most of you know, I currently shoot on the 550D aka the T2i. It is a great camera and at the price, you really can't beat it. In this video, Ryan Connelly takes a look at some of the pros and cons of both cameras. Obviously the 5D is a 'better' camera but the T2i stacks up surprisingly well. It's main downfall is lowlight recording. So you're saying that I can get the majority of functionality at a third of the price? Yes please...

February 2, 2011

DIY - Shoulder Mount

So, I've come to the realization that PVC pipe is like Lincoln Logs for adults. I ran up to Lowes one weekend and picked up about $7 bucks worth of pipe along with a can of matte black spraypaint and got to work. I found some pretty good DIY projects online and decided to slap together a shoulder mount for my 550D and my Z1u. Here are the results.

PVC for this project: $7
Handle Grip: $6 @ walmart. Rang up at $7. Took Advantage of "scanning law." Received $6 back. Total in the end $1.
Spray paint: $2.50
TOTAL: $10.50

I was using the DSLR to take the photos so I mounted the Z1 instead.

January 29, 2011

Konova Slider

Newest addition to the inventory is this super solid 3 bearing camera slider that showed up on ebay last week. See Modern Filmmaker Review Here. Most sliders that you will find in the $280 price range are "A" usually going to be friction rather than ball bearings and "B" will feel cheap. The Konova camera slider not only feels very solid but also comes with some very nice bonus features such as top and bottom threads in addition to the more traditional center thread. This gives you the ability to mount the slider in some unique ways as seen below.
Back up on eBay: CLICK HERE

January 28, 2011

Final Cut Hack - T2i Direct Import

The Canon T2i (aka the 550D) broke new ground when it was released late last year. It gave the functionality, professionalism, and convienience that you get shooting on the 5DMII or 7D without the premium pricetags. Yes, it doesn't use a full sensor and yes, it doesn't come in the magnesium mold shell but it opens up the world of DSLR cinematography to a whole new budget...and I jumped on that bandwagon.

If you are using a T2i you know that there is no simple solution to importing footage. If you try to log and transfer you get something like this:

The easiest route was click and drag which copies the files over as a quicktime file and needs to be rer-endered every time it is moved within the your timeline. Well, you'll be happy to know, there is a solution.

A few months back Canon released an EOS Final Cut Pro 'Log and Transfer' plugin that steamlined the transfer process for the 7D and 5DMII within Final Cut. The problem is that they only included their "professional" line and not the "prosumer" line. The T2i missed the bus on this one. Fortunately for us, there is a quick and easy fix that literally takes no time at all (thanks to thebuibrothers.com). It is as simple as changing a line of code in the plugin from "EOS 7D" to "EOS T2i" and it works flawlessly. Makes you wonder why Canon didn't just add that from the start.

Step 1: Download EOS plugin HERE
Step 2: Find the "camera.plist" file by navigating the following: 
Finder > Macintosh HD > Library > Application Support > Proapps > RAD > MIO > Plugins > CanonE1.Radplug > Contents > Resources > "camera.plist"
Step 3: Open up "camera.plist" in an html editor and replace the "7D" and "EOS 7D" with "T2i" and "EOS T2i" 
Step 4: Save and you are up and running. As simple as that.

Hope this helps.

Art Exhibition

Back in October I had the honor of working with a good friend of mine who owns and designs for "Not Design." Drew described to me what the mission, purpose, and theme of the exhibit was. I really liked the idea and was on board from the get-go. I hopped in the car one Saturday morning and drove out to Grand Rapids. We shot the whole thing in one day using a Canon T2i. Drew (who has never edited anything before, mind you) did a great job editing the footage together, stylizing it to look as though it was shot on 8mm and giving it meaning.  The video was was played on a 1970's woodbox TV with vintage furniture and shag rugs creating the atmosphere. It stood on its own in the corner of an art museum. Video and Drew's excerpt below.

Drew Vanderveen: video installation.
Excerpt from statement: “Common Knowledge seeks to inform this dialogue by questioning definitions of success and intelligence as they are currently presented by the education system and what kinds of progress are incentivized in the collective acceptance of those terms and the educational model that presents them.

January 20, 2011

Demo Reel 2010

As I've stated before, you're demo reel is an important asset to anybody working freelance or establishing a prod comp. It is how you will sell yourslef, your skills, and your abilities. Keep it up to date, keep it relevant, keep it simple.

This is my most recent.

January 15, 2011

Zoom H1

After filming Stephen & Kelly's wedding where there were microphones lining the stage yet nobody decided to use them, I realized that I could not rely solely on my Sony Z1 and 550D onboard mics. I already own a studio condesnor mic for VO but obviously with all of the set-up and equipment that would not be realistic for somebody shooting solo. I needed something that I could operate as a one and done system. Something that I could set up quickly and know that it was capturing good audio. That's when I stumbled upon the Zoom H1 recorder. Zoom has always made audio recording products usually decently priced but none came as highly recommended and budget friendly as the H1. 

I snagged the kit below which incldues a mic "arm" so that it can properly sit in a standard mic stand if needed, a windscreen (although I would recommend getting a red-head instead), a 2gb micro sd card, a tabletop tripod, and a decently padded carrying case. I've learned that it comes in super handy for weddings, interviews, speeches, etc. Not quite a boom, but it gets the job done.

If you are thinking about the H1 look into picking up a hotshoe 1/4" mount for a buck on ebay to give you the option to mount it onto your camera.