THE MAGAZINE FOR MEDIA PROFESSIONALS WORKING IN FILM, AUDIO, VIDEO, MOTION GRAPHICS, IMAGING AND DESIGN

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MORE SIGNAL, LESS NOISE™

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JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2010

CAMERAS: From DSLR to the Latest 3D & Beyond

The Future is Now
Articles, news and more about the latest DSLR, HD, Stereoscopic 3D rigs, — plus much more.

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THE MAGAZINE FOR MEDIA PROFESSIONALS WORKING IN VIDEO, FILM, AUDIO, MOTION GRAPHICS, IMAGING & DESIGN

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Creative COW
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2010

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M A G A Z I N E

C R E AT I V E CO M M U N I T I E S O F T H E W O R L D

CREATIVE COW MAGAZINE
A CREATIVE COW LLC PUBLICATION

In This Issue:
Tim Wilson’s Column ............................................ 8 The Back Forty with Ron Lindeboom .............. 50

PUBLISHERS: Ron & Kathlyn Lindeboom EDITOR-IN-CHIEF/ ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER: Tim Wilson magazine@creativecow.net CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Gary Adcock, Barbara Sumner Burston, Tom Burston, Richard Harrington, Ron Lindeboom, Marco Solorio, Mike Sullivan, Tim Wilson LAYOUT & DESIGN: Ron Lindeboom, Tim Wilson, Stefani Rice CREATIVE COW ADVERTISING: Tim Matteson tmatteson@creativecow.net TECHNICAL DIRECTOR: Abraham Chaffin abraham@creativecow.net CONTACT US: magazine@creativecow.net (805) 239-5645 voice (805) 239-0712 fax
Creative COW Magazine is published bi-monthly by CreativeCOW LLC (Creative Communities of the World) at 2205 Villa Lane, Paso Robles, CA 93446. (805) 239-5645. Postage paid at Hanover, New Hampshire. U.S. subscription rates are free to qualified subscribers. Creative COW is a registered trademark of Creative COW LLC. All rights are reserved. Magazine contents are copyright © 2009 by Creative COW Magazine. All rights are reserved. Right of reprint is granted only to non-commercial educational institutions such as high schools, colleges and universities. No other grants are given. The opinions of our writers do not always reflect those of the publisher and while we make every effort to be as accurate as possible, we cannot and do not assume responsibility for damages due to errors or omissions. LEGAL STATEMENT: All information in this magazine is offered without guarantee as to its accuracy and applicability in all circumstances. Please consult an attorney, business advisor, accountant or other professional to discuss your individual circumstances. Use of the information in this magazine is not intended to replace professional counsel. Use of this information is at your own risk and we assume no liability for its use.

The Future is Now
8 CREATIVE COW: YEAR 10 10 Your Future Is Now
As we enter our 10th year, we add even more to Bessie. Creative COW Leader, Gary Adcock, works with many of the people and companies defining the future. Here is the story. Marco Solorio’s real-world exploration of DSLRs continues. Two families, one on each side of the lens, find what matters. One story, two perspectives, three turntables, four screens. New cameras, lenses, plug-ins, and iPhone applications. The industry’s largest virtual community for media pros will expand its services and offerings for its members during 2010. It will be a year of big changes and additional free services.
The NOW Issue — Creative COW Magazine

18 HDSLRs for Video: Beyond the Hype 26 This Way of Life

36 Coacoochee’s Story

43 Industry News and Featured Products 50 2010: The Year the COW Gets Real

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All things considered, I’d rather be here now.
Boston, Massachusetts Editor-In-Chief, Associate Publisher Creative COW Magazine

Tim Wilson

A

By paying attention to what is happening now, we find the ways in which the future, and its new possibilities, is already here.

h, the wisdom of bumper stickers. That’s where I got the title for this column. “I’d rather be here now” is a Zen-like antidote to the many variations of “I’d rather be [fishing, flying, fly-fishing, knitting, bowling, grandparenting, riding my Harley…]” bumper stickers we’ve seen for so many years. It officially replaces my previous favorite, “I feel so much better since I gave up hope.” This column’s title might also remind you of comedian W.C. Fields, who joked that his epitaph should read “All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” In reality, it reads “W. C. Fields 1880 – 1946,” replacing an oft-told gag with a Zen-like clarity. The truth is that I only know enough about Zen to know that it’s more complicated than it looks, except when it’s simpler. But the concept of “mindfulness” found in some schools of Buddhism resonates with me. One practice of it uses the pauses of daily life – say, stopping at a traffic light – to take a few breaths, and clear your mind before moving forward. I can’t say I’m getting any closer to enlightenment, but I find when I slow down that the things making me frantic look more like what they are, a series of steps to be taken, starting with this one, now. Of course, Master Nishijima reminds us that if we think that mindfulness is something to aspire to, then we can never achieve it. Now that’s Zen. I started thinking about this again a few months ago, when we were drowning in all those “Best of the Decade” lists. I appreciate their intent — reflection on the difference between what was new, and what remains important. A form of mindfulness, even. In practice though, these lists can be more lazy than reflective, and too often, simply wrong. You can find your own examples of “wrong” — seriously, how many of them have you ever agreed with? — but I saw the difference between lazy and reflective in a magazine I get that re-ran articles from earlier issues, verbatim! We thought about doing something like that, I admit. But as we talked about some of our favorite articles from the first three years of Creative COW Magazine, I found myself wanting to revisit the writers. Of the over 100 COW authors we’ve published who aren’t me or Ron, barely a half-dozen have written for us more than once! And so we’ve begun asking some of the folks we haven’t heard from in a while — and will be asking others — what they’re working on, and seeing, right now. In this issue, they offer unexpected insights into the current state of cameras and lenses (including HDSLRs), best uses of social media for building your business, the latest multimedia technologies, and a documentary about a family who truly exemplifies living in the now. The authors of that article also have some great advice about new possibilities for indie film distribution available now. How cool is that? By paying attention to what’s happening now, we find the ways in which the future, and its new possibilities, is already here. Generally speaking, the further you design along the cutting edge, the faster your work will look out of date. The Peter Max and Andy Warhol vision of 1960s pop art was so “modern” at the time that, now, it looks positively quaint. Which means that it’s time for another one of my patent-pending Liberal Arts Nerd Digressions. The entire concept of “modern” falls out of date fast. At least in the West, the modern era is thought to begin around 1500 (the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the “discovery” of the Americas). Authors, architects and other artists in both the West and the East were widely using the word “postmodern” to describe their work by the end of the Second World War! So in this issue, as much as our authors describe the latest technologies, workflows and business practices, they remind us that some aesthetic values are more enduring than others — a good thing to remember even now. n

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The NOW Issue — Creative COW Magazine

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Creative COW LLC introduces CREATIVE COW FOUNDATION, educational charitable fund
Creative COW Foundation has awarded its first check for $10,000 to the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women

AS WE ENTER YEAR 10, CREATIVE COW FOUNDATION IS LAUNCHED TO AWARD SC

I

n April of 2010, we enter the 10th year of Creative COW. As we near this milestone, we felt that it was the logical time to open yet another chapter in the Creative COW story, one that we feel is the logical next step for The COW. We are launching a new charitable foundation, one that focuses on assisting students. After all, many have helped us to build the dream we had, and so we want to lend a hand to some of those who are struggling to follow their own dreams. To celebrate our 10th year online, we are launching a new 501(c)3 federally registered non-profit foundation whose mission is to provide financial scholarships and grants to students in the fields of film, television and media studies. Our educational grants will focus

on programs that assist both students from the USA and from around the world. The first such institution to receive a check for $10,000 from the Creative COW Foundation is the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women program. Why did we choose this program as our first recipient? In the formative early days of Creative COW, it was founded and managed by my wife, Kathlyn Lindeboom. Creative COW was a female-owned business, and because of this, Adobe Systems approached us at a critical time and reached into a grant program mandated to go to a female-owned business. It kept Creative COW alive at a time when it likely would have failed without it.

Ron Lindeboom

Paso Robles, California USA Husband and wide team, Ron & Kathlyn Lindeboom, are the co-founders of Creative COW and say that “Our greatest strength in building The COW was that we didn’t know when to quit. Our accountants once told us that their firm had no other account like ours. They also laughed and said Creative COW wouldn’t exist if any of their other accounts owned it.”

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Creative COW: YEAR 10 — Creative COW Magazine

OW: Year 10
Today, we are a California registered LLC, and though the company has changed over the years and has seen our membership increase into the millions each month, you do not forget things like that which Kristan Jiles and the Adobe team did all the way back in the Summer of 2001. It happened again in 2002, when we were under an attack on our server that took us offline for most of two weeks. We didn’t know how to fight it and we didn’t have the money to hire security experts to do the work for us. So we wrote our leaders to tell them that we were going to close the book on Creative COW. But when we did, we received an email from one of the leaders — Jason Howard of SpectSoft — who told us that he knew how to help us, and that he would. He brought in his friend, Michael Gregg — who is now a security developer with Red Hat — and they had us back in operation in a couple of days. Amazing guys. As we grew and grew, we soon eclipsed the power and capability of our servers to handle the extreme loads that our traffic demanded from our servers. So, Jim Bovenzi and Damon Muzny of AMD helped us get sponsored with numerous dual- and quad-Opteron™ based servers that got us through those tough times. There are many more stories like these and I could fill pages with them all. The kindness that people have showed us at critical times, comes due one day and you have an obligation to “pay it forward” to others. It is because of people like the ones just named and the kindness of others too numerous to list here, that we launched Creative COW Foundation. They are also the reason that there is even a Creative COW, at all, if the truth be told. We helped steer the car but there have been many who kept the tank full of gas. It is to everyone who has ever encouraged or supported our efforts over the years, to whom we dedicate this endeavor as an honor and remembrance to their kindness and their own generosity. students. You wouldn’t expect anything less from the COW, would you? Creative COW Foundation has elected to set our foundation’s standard high, very high. If you support Creative COW Foundation, you can be assured that it has been set up so that none of the monies raised will be siphoned off for administration, bookkeeping, legal, or any other expense. None. Creative COW LLC will bear all operational costs, so that the Creative COW Foundation remains free to operate as an unencumbered conduit through which every dollar raised is passed along directly to deserving students. Why do it this way, when legally we didn’t have to? Because this was never about money. Few charities operate this way, but we felt that our members needed a charity they could trust in these days when you hear one horror story after another on the news. People have stood by us when times were tough, companies have supported our efforts year after year — in good times and through tough times — and as the years have passed, the COW has grown until it truly is unique among all of the companies that serve media professionals. We have always been grateful for this support and have never taken it for granted. Today, we have passed Google’s coveted two million unique visitors a month traffic level. To be honest, we never thought that we’d get this far; under normal circumstances, we probably wouldn’t have. And so, it’s time for payback. With Creative COW Foundation, Creative COW begins a new phase of community building and support. We hope that you are as excited as we are about this new endeavor for Creative COW — an endeavor that will help deserving students from both the USA and from around the world to fulfill their dreams. Thank you for being a part of The COW’s great adventure over the years. It has truly been an honor to serve you and to see how this community has grown during the past decade. You are an amazing bunch. You and many others that make the COW part of your lives have graciously joined us in our myriad of endeavors over the years. We hope that you will join us in supporting the Creative COW Foundation when and as you can. n

SCHOLARSHIPS & GRANTS TO STUDENTS IN FILM & MEDIA STUDIES PROGRAMS.

A CHARITY THAT REALLY IS A CHARITY

The work and costs of the foundation is underwritten completely by Creative COW, so that we are paying all the costs of administration, legal, and accounting — leaving 100% of every dollar raised by Creative COW Foundation to be awarded in its entirety to deserving

Creative COW Magazine — Creative COW: YEAR 10

9

No need to wait and see what's on the horizon for cinematography

Creative COW's Gary Adcock has been traveling the world, working with both the manufacturers and cinematographers that are building the future. Here is his report.

NOW
Gary Adcock
Chicago, Illinois USA

Your Future is

P

assing into a new decade, people are constantly asking what the future holds. Everyone wants to know what new camera, product or technology will impact the future. I am one of those people who get to see the future in what lies in what is here, now. After I take a look at current cameras, lenses and related technology, I am going to close by surprising you with my pick for today’s hottest technology. SONY While every other manufacturer has been leaving tape behind on their higher-end products, Sony bucked the trend to release the first 10-bit tape based HD cam-

corder, in the SRW-9000 — basically an HDCAM SRW-1 deck with the F23’s imaging system mounted directly on it. Sony will offer an optional 35mm sensor upgrade and digital recording capability for the SRW9000 camera by the end of the year, along with a 25% cut in the price of SR tape stock In December, Sony announced “SR 2.0,” an updated recording system based around HDCAM SR that will allow for various compression levels, a solid state recording module, direct access to the “native” HDCAM SR codec in MXF wrapped MPEG-4 SStP (Simple Studio Profile), and a 220Mbps “delivery” version of the SR codec via Gigabit Ethernet.

Gary recently contributed to "Metadata and The Future of Filmmaking" for Creative COW Magazine's "Workflow 3.0" issue, in which he and Academy Award®-winner Dave Stump, ASC, outlined the process of tracking metadata from the lens on-set, all the way through editing and VFX. Gary serves on the National Training Committee for the International Cinematographer's Guild (Local 600), and hosts in many high-end Creative COW forums. He is also at work on two new training titles for the Creative COW Master Series. Gary serves as the 2010 Tech Chair for NAB's Director of Photography Workshop. For more information, visit forums.creativecow.net/nab2010

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The NOW Issue — Creative COW Magazine

Sony’s XDCAM team has also recently updated their offerings with the shouldermount version of the venerable XDCAM EX (the PMW-350), as well as the new PDW-350 XDCAM HD camera. Just as we were headed to press, Sony also released a new solid state professional camcorder, the HXR-NX5U, which records AVCHD up to 24Mbps in 1080P/24, rather than an MP2 compressed file inside of an MP4 MXF wrapper. PANASONIC Panasonic keeps hammering away at the high-end market. Of course, I originally chuckled at the Varicam 3700’s limited features, yet this workhorse has, hands down, won me over. The addition of 1080 4:4:4 capture, and 1-60 fps as VFR on new E-series P2 cards or via dual link output changes everything, and allows Panasonic to do in 1080 what is a staple of the 720p workflow. The ability to record 96K audio seals the deal on the 3700’s status as a mainline production camera usable in multiple shooting scenarios . Panasonic also rocked CES 2010 by showing off a working prototype of a one-piece 3D camera that records stereoscopically to dual, interal SDHC/SD cards in camera. A vastly simplified shooting technology using a single camera to capture both streams of video, combined with a projected $21K USD price, and Panasonic once again has chosen to lead stereoscopic production, much like they have done all along in HD. I am looking forward to testing this camera for an extended review here on the Cow later this spring. [Editor's Note: for details on Panasonic’s recently announced HD stereoscopic 3D offering, please see the Industry News section elsewhere in this issue.] ARRI When the world’s top manufacturer of film cameras decides to revamp its digital camera line, watch out. When the new Alexa camera system was announced last fall at IBC, you could almost feel the ground shaking on the show floor — and I was 4 halls away! ARRI came to fight, bringing a prototype imager to the show floor with a baseline exposure at more than 800+ ASA (2x faster than the Sony F35), and an advertised latitude of more than 12 stops. With an as-yet unannounced tapeless capture system, and ARRI’s long standing reputation for unrivaled quality and meticulous construction, I cannot wait to get my hands on a model for testing. The ARRI Alexa is set to give every other The Sony SRW-9000

Acacdeny Award® is a registered trademark of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. All rights are reserved.

The Panasonic HPX-3700

The ARRI Alexa camera manufacturer a run for image quality and versatility when they release their updated RAW workflow for the camera, which is 1080/60p capable with variable frame rates, live video out, and an HD (1280x720) optical or electronic viewfinder. Here’s hoping that the new EVF is usable on other camera systems, as, at first glance, I found it superior to the incredible RED EVF Industry watchers, note: ARRI USA has wooed HD guru Michael Bravin from his long-time association with Band Pro and Sony to head up the marketing for their new camera. Things are going to get very interesting, fast. WORTHY EFFORTS There are a number of other high end players to watch now.

Creative COW Magazine — The NOW Issue

11

While the high-speed footage from Vision Research’s Phantom is still surprising any number of shooters, how many of you noticed that the Phantom 65 has a true 65mm digital imager? That’s over two inches across! Silicon Imaging has been making inroads with the SI 2K systems, especially in the 3D space, because the physical design of their cameras. The 2K mini is under four inches long, including the PL-mount! More important, by embedding the IRIDAS Speedgrade Onset directly into their camera systems, SI has taken the lead on the workflow side of high-end production. Nondestructive “looks” can be added while shooting, with the full color management metadata able to be passed through to post. METADATA The time has come for all manufacturers to embrace the capture and maintenance of metadata from the camera through delivery. As it is, except when using a transferring function for the newest codecs like AVCI, PhantomCine, ARRIRAW or R3D, the NLEs and post apps we currently work with have the nasty habit of stripping off all incoming metadata. No matter how carefully we guard metadata through production, it is too often decimated in post. Manufacturers, start with this rule for metadata management: Do No Harm. If you don’t use it, don’t mess it up. STEREOSCOPIC 3D This is not your parents' anaglyph. No red and green lenses. No spears coming out of the screen to shock you like some amusement park attraction. With over $1billion in ticket sales for James Cameron’s “Avatar” worldwide in 17 days, and with over 75% of viewers choosing to pay higher ticket prices for the 3D version, it is time for us all to see: 3D isn’t going away this time. At 162 minutes, “Avatar” also proved to me that a stereoscopic feature could run that long without giving viewers the profoundly pounding headache normally associated with extended viewing of 3D content. Digital projection has helped make it much easier, by combining cross polarization and brighter projectors with specialty screens created to enhance the visual experience and reduce fatigue. Be thankful. 3D isn’t just for movies, either. Nearly every manufacturer at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show was showing some flavor of home 3D display. This was mirrored in announcements from Discovery, Disney, HDNet and DirecTV, all adding dedicated 3D chan12 Above, James Cameron on the set of "Avatar." Photo courtesy Mark Fellman, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Below, the Phantom® 65 Digital Cinema Camera.

nels to their lineups by midyear, and with ESPN planning to broadcast 85 live events in 3D in the first year. Expect 3D technology to take leaps and bounds using newly-created post and production tools specifically designed for this workflow.
The NOW Issue — Creative COW Magazine

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Companies like Element Technica and PACE — whose Fusion 3D system, co-designed by Vince Pace and James Cameron, was used on “Avatar” — are at the forefront, yet there are creative places for other niche players. One huge leap in 3D came from IN2CORE, whose QTAKE HD was created to provide realtime stereoscopic 3D video assist. Funny as it may seem, this has been difficult, if not impossible, until now. On “Avatar,” the production crew had to use secondary Codex captures to be able to provide real-time playback of the stereo signal on set. That meant requiring both SRW-1 and Codex recorders on every camera — a rather pricey way to handle the issue, but at the time production on Avatar began, it was the best way to handle the stereoscopic playback process normally done by the video assist person on set. LENSES All the talk about RED has helped make high-end PL Mount lenses all the rage. Designed for the film community, ARRI’s Positive Lock mount has found new life for lenses that had previously been reserved for commercial and big screen productions. PL mounts are available for digital cinema cameras including the Sony F35, ARRI D-21, Vision Research Phantom, Silicon Imaging SI 2K, and all manner of film cameras. At least four new lens companies have sprung up in the last two years to provide PL mount lenses and conversions, but stalwart Zeiss released new Compact Primes in an ultra-lightweight frame in focal lengths from 18mm to 85mm that set the market ablaze. (That's them in the title graphic for this article.) Cooke also announced the S/i 5 with internal LED technology that allow ACs and 2nds to see focus and

aperture markings in total darkness. They also brought back the affordable Panchro series of lenses. One other company that has come into focus for me is Vision III imaging. I expect to see a lot from this company in the next couple of years. Based heavily in the defense and military sector, much like Vision Research’s Phantom camera was in the early 90s, their “v3” lens technology uses a rotating iris adaptation for “parallax scanning:” incorporating parallax information into standard images for enhanced realism and dimension. My early testing at Fletcher Camera in Chicago showed a noticeable increase in the perceived sharpness of the image as it was recorded. Vision III calls this “textural depth,” and by the time this article is published, I will have had time to work with their v3 technology more thoroughly, and to post the results at blogs.creativecow.net/garyadcock. AND TODAY’S HOTTEST TECHNOLOGY IS… Anamorphic lenses — yes, you read that right. With 2009’s “Star Trek,” J.J. Abrams reminded us what anamorphic film looks like. Think of all the eternally classic films that you have seen, iconic spectacles like "The Robe," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Spartacus," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Sound of Music," "Marathon Man," "Blade Runner," more recent films like "A Few Good Men," "Unforgiven," "Terminator 2," "Titanic," "The Abyss," Star Wars Episodes 1 & 2, even indie films like "The Kite Runner" — these were all shot using Hawk or Panavision anamorphic lenses. Anamorphic lenses are not truly wide angle, as much as they are panoramic, designed to capture wide vistas. Since 35mm film is essentially a 4x3-recording medium, anamorphic lenses allowed for the various

Sam Worthington as Jake Sully, Zoë Saldana as Neytiri in "Avatar." Photo courtesy WETA, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Creative COW Magazine — The NOW Issue

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“Widescreen,” “Scope” or “Vista” formats to use every single millimeter of the celluloid, not something truly possible since the advent of sound on film. The advantage when shooting film is not something to be overlooked, since the exposed negative area is 52% larger. But the process of squeezing and unsqueezing images adds subtle, but aesthetically pleasing, distortions. We associate the soft edges and subtle darkening onscreen, as well as the specific bloom of the bokeh — the soft, out-of-focus areas of the frame — with cinema. Anamorphic lenses can accentuate, even exacerbate the separation between what is in and out of focus, due to the optical properties of the glass, essentially a “concave” grouping of elements forcing the entire image into a more “square” shape as it is recorded. Since ARRI’s D-21 and VR’s Phantom cameras both have essentially square imagers, and RED windows its full imager when in the anamorphic shooting mode, mainstream digital cameras are designed with anamorphics in mind. Using the newer 35mm size imagers, you simply get more: more image, more resolution, more picture when played back.

I am all for a 50% increase in sharpness and resolution that anamorphic lenses bring, yet that is not the only reason why I use them. It is about that look the lens imparts on the image, the muted out of focus highlights, or the resounding “pop” as the lens finishes “breathing” into focus, or those distinctive anamorphic lens flares. It is also about getting away from the plastic nature of how video often looks when it is shot, and moving our images back to the “filmic” quality that is associated with the most classic films we watch — not the rate of the frames, but the look of the world in each of those frames. Lenses like the Hawk Anamorphics from Vantage Film allow us to bring back many of the visual artifacts like edge softness and chromic aberrations, in addition to the critically sharp but minimal depth of field we associate with classic films, within the controllable environment of state of the art digital recording. For example, the Hawk 60mm Macro lens allows me to set to its shortest focal length, then rack focus to infinity, without any change in aperture — impossible with older anamorphic lenses.

ANAMORPHIC CINEMATOGRAPHY

As movies went widescreen, a question immediately presented itself: what’s the best way to get wider images into a 35mm frame whose width remains the same? One solution, shown at top, is to simply place the wider image in the middle of the frame, and mask out the unused space in projection. However, this both wastes film stock, and leaves over half of the frame’s possible resolution unused. The other solution has been anamorphic cinematography, captured with methods including cylindrical lenses, rather than traditional spherical lenses. As the middle image illustrates, widescreen images are squeezed into the 35mm frame. They are then stretched to their original aspect ratio in projection. This squeezing and stretching inevitably creates subtle distortions, including ones that we have come to associate with the intrinsic properties of filmed images: separation between foreground and vertically stretched background, and aberrations including horizontal and rainbow flares, veiling light, and others, all of which are often used as artistic elements. Lower image of girl, as well as additional information, courtesy of ARRI.

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The NOW Issue — Creative COW Magazine

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The Hawk 1.3 Squeeze series also offers the ability to shoot 1.78 (16x9) when using one of the square sensor digital cameras I mentioned, but when that same lens is used on a standard 16x9 imager, it allow use of the full sensor to record the more cinematic 2:35 aspect ratio that we are accustomed to in the theater. YOUR FUTURE, NOW Our future is here. It is now. John Cho as Ikaru Sulu in "Star Trek." Horizontal lens flare behind his Advanced camera technologies alear and oval highlights in bokeh are distinctive artifacts of anamorphic low us to strive toward new levels of vilenses. Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures Corporation. sual quality. That does not mean that we need to abandon our visual legacy. The desire to overcome the limitations of analog filmmaking does not require a new look that is too clean, too Ready for more? crisp, just too flat on screen. We do not need to repeat Join Gary, Future Media Concepts the mistake made when the print industry transitioned and Creative COW at the NAB into desktop publishing, when the art of typography Director of Photography Workshop, was very nearly tossed to oblivion. April 10-12 in Las Vegas. As we move farther and farther into the digital age, we reach a point in time where everything old is For more information, visit new again. We may not be shooting as much film as we forums.creativecow.net/nab2010 used to, but there is no reason the images should not look as good. n
Creative COW Magazine — The NOW Issue

17

HDSLRs for Video:
Beyond the Hype
“Blah, blah, blah!” You’ve heard the buzz. Now here's the story you won't see anywhere else, based on a year 's experience capturing HD video with a “still” camera — for paying clients.

H

DSLR,” “VDSLR” or whatever you might call them — the interest in “still” cameras that can also shoot HD video is growing fast...and so is their potential. I liken it to the DV revolution that began with the Sony DCR-VX1000, and again with affordable 24p production using the Panasonic AG-DVX100. Both were truly groundbreaking cameras that, at the time, were unparalleled in quality for the price. We are seeing the same revolution begin with HD video coming from these HDSLRs. Amidst all of the interest in these cameras for HD shooting, it shouldn't be forgotten that these are DSLR cameras first, with still photography capabilities that are nothing short of amazing. The full-frame sensor and its 14-bit, 21 megapixel resolution is a recipe

for breathtaking results in skilled hands. Having both tools in one unit is still mind boggling to me, even after over a year of using it. The fact is that these HDSLR cameras should NOT be shooting beautiful video at all. Their compression rates are high, their chrominance sub-sampling is high, their re-sizing from full-frame to 1080 isn’t smooth, they’re 8-bit at the compression level, and choosing a bad quality lens just compounds all of that. Yet the HD video can still look breathtaking! I have owned a Canon 5D Mk II for over a year now, and love it. It shoots 1080p, and boasts the only full-frame, 35mm sensor on the market — larger than the RED ONE’s sensor or super-35mm motion picture film, and about the same size as VistaVision. These

Marco Solorio

Walnut Creek, California USA A COW member since 2002, Marco owns OneRiver Media, a San Francisco facility offering services from pre-production to post. His background in audio engineering and music composition includes advanced skills with keyboard/piano/synth, classical/electric guitars, bass guitar, trumpet/flugelhorn, saxophones and percussion. Marco also founded Cinesoft, developers of MediaBatch, enabling advanced collaboration, management, review and approval.

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The Now Issue — Creative COW Magazine

full-frame sensors are HUGE, and suck up so much light that even a room lit with a single candle can produce beautiful results. I’ve shot 1080p video in such extreme low-light conditions that any other HD camera, including a Sony F900 or a RED ONE, would have quickly degraded to noise and artifacts.

LENSES HDSLR cameras have added a new dimension to the idea of “revolution:” the vast choice in lens options is every independent filmmaker’s dream come true. No longer are shooters stuck with a fixed lens of dubious quality or limited focal length. No more wide-angle adapters, or telephoto adapters, or even going the extra step with secondary lens adapters. Now, you simply pick the lens you want, specific for the type of shot you want. The only limit is your budget. There are even manufacturers developing lens adapters to fit exotic cinema lenses (like PL-mounted WHEN IN DOUBT, HACK IT Cooke, and Zeiss optics), which work well with smaller One of the strongest movements in the HDSLR world sensor cameras like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 today is the development of third-party firmware. and Canon 7D. Trammell Hudson is the guiding force behind the I’ve been a long-time Canon SLR shooter (both “Magic Lantern Firmware” (magiclantern.wikia.com). film and digital), so at this point, my lens arsenal is He reverse-engineered Canon’s first firmware release quite large, and includes Canon FD, Canon EF, Nikon to bring much needed features to the 5D Mk II. He has F, and Sigma mounts. With my 5D Mk II, I purely shoot with Canon’s best “L” lenses, mostly consisting of their fastest primes and a few zooms. Although the imagery from these still lenses is astounding, there are differences between them and film/video lenses that you should know about. You can twist the focus ring on cinema lenses for days from lock to lock, for detailed focus pulls. The short twist on still lenses can be a little annoying if you're tight on a slightly moving subject (even a talking head) with very narrow DOF. Annoying or not, at least these focus rings move only from start point to stop point. Compare One of the menus for the Magic Lantern firmware for the Canon 5D Mk II this to the electronic focus ring on a lens like the beautiful Canon 85mm f/1.2L II. Although one of the absolute sharpest also laid some initial groundwork for the new 7D. and fastest lenses on the market for photography (I The Magic Lantern firmware does not replace know, I have one), a lens like this can seem downright the camera’s own firmware and features, but merely evil for video: the electronic focus ring just doesn’t adds his functions to them — more like a patch — in have that physical feel and feedback to it, and worse, non-volatile RAM. In fact, the ML firmware needs to will keep spinning forever, even when you can't focus be “added” to the camera every time it is turned on, anymore. which for safety, is a good thing. Controlling aperture with a physical ring on the Why would he bother to hack in so many features, lens itself is also ideal, preferably without f-stop clickand why would you bother to reload it every time points — rather than the push-pull mechanism found you shoot, when you could just buy a video camera? on some photographic lenses. Although ring gears can As Trammell notes, “If you can find a camera that a)
Creative COW Magazine — The Now Living Issue

be temporarily added to any lens (I use them), they’re usually bulky, a drag to take on and off, and simply not as effective for follow focus and/or motorized control. The good news is that some companies can modify your photography still lenses to employ some of these cinema style features, including clickless aperture stops and permanent ring gears. Although I prefer Canon optics, I definitely prefer Nikon mechanics in their F lenses. They employ physical lock-to-lock focusing and a physical aperture ring, making them a good candidate for such cinematic style lens conversions. A trick I’ve sometimes implemented is using Nikon lenses on my Canon body, by buying cheap Nikon F mount to Canon EOS EF mount adapters. There are some good buys on used F mount lenses if you’re on a tight budget but want more physical lens control.

19

Above, Magic Lantern firmware showing audio meters (upper left in window) and histogram (upper right in window). Below, a comparison of common camera frame and sensor sizes. Both images courtesy of Marco Soloro.

shoots HD, b) has a 50 mbps data rate, c) has interchangeable lenses, d) has a 35 mm or larger sensor and, e) costs less than $150K…then buy that one instead.” So what does Magic Lantern add? Dozens of features that cinema lens shooters expect. Zebra patterns, for starters, with threshold levels that can be modified to your needs. There is also recorded lens data, live histogram, custom overlay crop marks for infinite aspect ratios, automated focus pulls, focus stacking, automatic HDR exposure bracketing, and much more. He is also working on timecode integration – in fact, I’m letting him borrow one of my timecode generator units to help with his development. Best of all, the Magic Lantern Firmware is open-source and free to use under the GPL license. If you do use the software, please donate. I did!

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The Now Issue — Creative COW Magazine

AUDIO One shortcoming of these HDSLR cameras is their lack of high quality audio recording. Ironically, the audio recording hardware isn't terribly bad, and the final audio recorded is actually uncompressed. The monkey wrench is that these HDSLR cameras record the audio with automatic gain control (AGC) always on. AGC is a method of compressing and/or limiting audio input levels so they do not overload the camera's audio preamps. Think of it as an automatic volume knob for incoming sound. This is normally a good thing as it safeguards the camera's internal audio hardware from inexperienced users that may override the preamps with signal that is too hot. However, an AGC system that cannot be turned off is a curse in any professional environment. It creates a noticeably higher noise floor that can be very annoying. There are currently two ways to overcome this. The first is the oldest method in the cinematic book, and works with any HDSLR: using dual system sound, whereby the audio is recorded on a separate, dedicated device, where full control and sonic quality is maintained throughout the entire audio path. The second method combines the Canon 5D Mk II, the Magic Lantern Firmware and some additional hardware. In fact, the first features that Trammell added to Magic Lantern were to defeat the ugly internal AGC system. The rig I use includes a JuicedLink CX231 micro mic preamp/mixer — a device with proven, low-noise isolated signal preamps — and a good quality microphone, specific for the sound environment I want to capture. I can hook up (for example), a Sennheiser K6/ ME67 combo (super-cardiod shotgun microphone) into one of the two channels of the JuicedLink CX231 via a balanced XLR cable. The JuicedLink is then fed into the 5D Mk II into its line-level 1/8" audio input jack. With the Magic Lantern Firmware, and ONLY with it, I can then monitor the live audio feed into the camera, as it’s recorded by plugging headsets into the 5D Mk II's external AV output jack, and visually monitor with color-coded peak-meter VU overlays. We’re talking about a still camera, right? Amazing. The result is the use of professional phantom powered microphones, an input trim mixer for both mic channels, an optionally defeated AGC signal path with audio and visual monitoring, ultimately recording to an uncompressed audio codec. Firmware hackery at its best, for professional feaCreative COW Magazine — The Now Issue

Car mount of the audio rig, as described. tures that should have already been built in! Not outof-the-box by any means, but an excellent solution to the problem nonetheless. MORE CHALLENGES The downside to the massive native resolution in these large HDLSR sensors is aliasing that results from onthe-fly downscaling to 1920x1080 (or 1280x720). This is roughly 2.1 megapixels, down-sampled, in the case of the 5D Mk II, from 21 megapixels! The current workaround for any HDSLR is to try to avoid shooting against things like brick walls, chain link fences, power lines, etc. If you must, try to distance the subject further away from them, so that the backgrounds become defocused. In fact, even just a hair out of focus will completely solve the problem. Unlike traditional CCD sensors that capture the entire image at once, HDSLR video is recorded by linearly scanning across the camera’s CMOS sensor one pixel at a time, which can lead to “rolling shutter” distortions, aka, “Jello-cam.” Although only microseconds, the scanning time it takes between the very first pixel and the very last pixel is long enough to create the visual distortion. When objects, or the camera itself, move faster than can be recorded in one pass, the image becomes skewed or squashed. The faster the motion, the heavier the skew and/or squash. Unfortunately for higher-resolution cameras, larger CMOS sensors, with their longer distance to scan, are more susceptible to this than smaller ones. As technology advances, CMOS scan rates will become faster in these large sensors. There are also some new software solutions that can help "fix" the problem 22

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THE FUTURE OF HDSLR TECHNOLOGY I haven’t talked much about the RED ONE camera in this article, but if an HDSLR company really wanted to build a “RED killer,” they could. What would that entail? For starters, they would need to address many of the limitations above: reduce the amount of rolling shutter skew, implement a better down-scaling solution, support live uncompressed audio and video output, and support timecode. In fact, I could see adding a multi-pin “accessory port” on the camera body that tethers out to a multi-port connection, which would then add XLR input, audio monitoring, video monitoring, TC in/out, and anything else that might be needed. From there, we need to go beyond 30 FPS in 1080 HD. Having true variable framerates in 1080 HD would be ideal, like 1-60, 1-120 or even 1-240 and beyond if they can do it without melting the hardware. Likewise, going higher than 1080 HD would really open everyone’s eyes; 2K, 4K, and even beyond. The sensor is certainly capable of it, even if recording moving pictures in that resolution has not been enabled. A flip-out screen would also These are not still photographs. Rather they are unaltered frames from Marco's H.264 be nice. footage of model Jackie Rivero, captured only using available light, with no post Seriously, most processing. While we have done our best to show them to you accurately, be sure of these suggesto look for the full-size movie, and complete information about lenses, ISO, shutter tions are features speed, white balance, etc. at magazine.creativecow.net. already used in existing products. Of course, the idea of a “RED killer” is somewhat misleading. RED will not be going anywhere as far as the industry as a whole is concerned. But for many shooters, the remarkable quality of HDSLR cameras mean that investing in a RED camera is a far less compelling option. I'm an example of that. Investing in in post-production, but it's an extra step, adding both time and a very slight reduction in overall image quality due to interpolated pixel reconstruction. The workaround for now is to keep your pans and tilts slow. Also, there is currently no support for live, uncompressed HD output from any of these cameras’ HDMI port. This will be a huge leap forward, as it will allow for real-time capture to a much higher quality format than the camera’s built-in encoding format. Using something like an AJA Ki Pro for direct ProRes recording would be invaluable, especially for chroma-key production. 24
The Now Issue — Creative COW Magazine

a RED with the necessary options to shoot even a single frame is not cost effective for my business model. If a RED ONE dropped in my lap from the sky, would I use it? Absolutely. And would I still use the HDSLR for shooting HD? Absolutely. Am I ditching my Sony EX1 anytime soon? No way. But with some of the advantages my HDLSR gives me over a RED, even if just at a “paltry” 1080 HD resolution, for a much lower price, with all the lenses and bells and whistles I use in my camera rigs, there’s simply no need for us to consider RED right now. CONCLUSION…AND GETTING STARTED Despite the technology’s shortcomings (and there are many), shooters, developers and manufacturers are all climbing aboard the HDSLR bandwagon because of the great potential these cameras have now, and in the future. Even if you are only interested in experimenting with them for video, these HDSLR cameras are practically a no-risk purchase: great quality, a lot of manual control, and at a price-point that can't be beat. For many people, the Canon 7D would be a good place to start. It has full 1080p resolution, employs a gamut of frame-rate options and can take advantage of lighter, less expensive EF-S lenses. My suggestion would be to pick one decent quality zoom in the 28-70mm range, and one decent quality prime, maybe in the 50mm

range, buying as fast of each of these (i.e., letting in as much light) as you can afford. For a 7D body, an inexpensive zoom and an inexpensive prime, you'll still only be around $2500 all in, a far cry from the price of any other HD option, let alone one with a removable lens system. Don’t like it? Sell it right back into the hungry market for used photography gear — the money you’ll lose could be justified as a “rental cost” — or you can keep it is a great still camera. The most important thing to remember about shooting with HDSLRs is true for every camera, but ESPECIALLY so with HDSLRs. You have to understand your shoot, and know how the advantages and limitations of your camera play into those specific circumstances. Otherwise, you'll either shoot yourself in the foot on production and lose a client, or you will miss out on an opportunity to seriously raise your production values. I have a feeling that we’ve only seen a snippet of what’s to come from the world of HDSLR cameras, and from here, our jaws will continue to drop. n

You can learn more from Marco Solorio at his own website at onerivermedia.com and through his other articles for Creative COW Magazine.

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Creative COW Magazine — The Now Issue

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This Way of Life
A four-year journey by two families, one on each side of the lens, leads to new perspectives on what we really need, the kinds of truths we can tell with film, and what it means to live in this very moment.

by Barbara Sumner Burstyn & Thomas Burstyn

T

kids, 50 horses, a mountain, a beach and a burnt down house. Shot over four years, against the backdrop of a remote New Zealand mountain range and a hidden beach camp, we explore Peter and Colleen Karena’s connection to nature, their survival skills, and their intimacy with each other and their horses as they attempt to navigate the discord between Peter and his father. Though European, Peter was adopted into a Maori family, and is Maori in all but skin. He is a horse-whisperer, philosopher, hunter, and builder, a husband and father. Despite seemingly overwhelming challenges, Peter refuses to compromise. Especially troubling to Peter is his broken relationship with his adopted father,

his Way of Life is a film about a family. Mum, Dad, six

a malevolent man who refuses to leave him alone. We follow their family up into the Ruahine ranges and down to their hidden beach camp. We watch as Peter and Colleen, both in their early 30s, celebrate the birth of a child and cope with a late miscarriage. Their attempts to navigate the discord between Peter and his father culminate in the theft of Peter’s valuable herd of horses and the burning of their beloved family home. Now homeless, we watch as Peter steers his family toward a new way of living and being. Regardless of their hardships, the Karenas manage to never lose sight of the magic in the everyday. The question everyone asks is: why? Why dedicate four years to make a “slice-of-life” documentary about a local family? It began with Peter Karena’s incredible

horsemanship. We knew that the magical relationship he had with horses was unique, and we quickly formulated a plan to produce a little instructional DVD on how to break in a horse. It was to be a casual thing, fitting around Tom’s day job as a cinematographer. But the minute we turned on the camera, it was obvious that Peter had something: a presence, a way of ignoring the camera and engaging with it at the same time. However, it would be almost a year of shooting before we realised that the DVD had turned into a real film, about a real family, and their remarkable way of life. Perhaps because of the long shoot, the film is characterised by an intimacy, not only with the camera, but also clearly with us as filmmakers as well. For example, for the first year, Colleen would quietly turn away whenever we arrived with the camera. She was kind and polite, but very clear that she did not want to be on film. Then, one day we called her to test the water. Something had shifted. Sure, she said, come on over. It was at this point, almost a year into the process, when we realised that, while we had been observing the Karena family, the Karenas — and especially Colleen — had been watching us. I understood then that we had entered a type of contract not covered by law, or by the usual dictates of documentary filmmaking. This could not be a portrait from the outside. We had to be on board with all elements of our lives or nothing. And of course, as filmmakers, this was where we were most challenged. There is an expectation of purity in documentary making, that there is an absolute truth, and if the filmmaker can just find a position of sufficient height to both observe intimately and not be observed, they will capture that truth. TOM: ON RESPECT The true fiction is to believe that anything captured on camera is fact. The moment you isolate a shot, removing it from its time and space, you give it a bias. As a very young filmmaker, I was on a festival panel with Albert and David Maysles (“Gimme Shelter”). In

Creative COW Magazine — The Now Issue

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my youthful naivety, I challenged them on the voyeuristic nature of their 1975 documentary “Grey Gardens,” and my lingering feeling that they had taken advantage of their emotionally vulnerable subjects. I remember the cold stare that one of the brothers gave me — but that sense of how the film invaded the subjects’ privacy without respect, as if their only value was as a source of amusement, stayed with me. One of the first docos I made, “Flash William,” was for the National Film Board of Canada, also in 1975. It was the story of a hermit who lived in a coal mining ghost town in the Canadian Rockies. He made feature films, some in 35mm, some in 3D, all by himself. He played most of the roles, including the two leads in “Dawson City Joe,” who were identical twin brothers and who appeared, thanks to in-camera split screen techniques, in the same frame throughout the movie. He was also cameraman, sound recordist, editor, art director, costume designer, composer and distributor of his films. He was a funny old man, and there were plenty of opportunities to poke gentle fun at him. One shot I wanted to use was of Flash bending over, bum to camera, rummaging through an old steamer trunk, searching for a particular piece of wardrobe. He was grumbling and throwing clothes left and right over his shoulder, and it was a very funny image. The producers vetoed this shot, saying that it was disrespectful of our subject. The Film Board had a strict rule that respect was more profound than showing someone in a funny position. They were clear that to

make a film about the helpless and the ludicrous without delivering a message of hope, or without seeing the subject finding a solution to their problems, was untenable as a documentary subject. That simple human respect remains my guiding light to this day. BARBARA: ON CHOICES Peter lives by an internal code of values and honor largely lost in modern times. Colleen is the keeper of her family’s taonga tuku iho (heritage). A true matriarch, she sees family as the center of the universe, and mothering as the world’s most important job. The parents allow the kids to be exposed to risk, but only after careful instruction in the function and operation of the “dangerous” thing (horse riding, bow and arrow, rifle, climbing on rocks, unsupervised

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ocean and river swimming), and then instilling a sense of responsibility in the children, both for themselves and their siblings. We know that we walk a thin line here, but we decided early on to tell the story from their eyes, to represent the family the way they see themselves. We could have chosen to reflect the hard reality more clearly, more honestly even, but that this would have been a form of judgement, a way of imposing our lifestyle choices over theirs. As a way to acknowledge the issue of subjectivity, we chose to have the eldest son, Llewelyn, narrate the film. Even though the parents are eloquent and heartfelt in many ways, the film is a child’s eye view. It is feathered with a magical quality, the unrealistic view of the child who can never see the big picture. There is a scene in the film where, after becoming essentially homeless, the family sets up camp near the beach. To the kids, it’s a time of great adventure, and even Colleen chooses to imbue this hardship with deeper meaning. In a sense, we only lightly touch on the real difficulty of raising children in such a challenging situation — but then the strength of the Karena family is that they also brush over these things, as if they are merely annoying details, a part of life. We have found that the most common reaction to the film is one of self-reflection. “Why do I live my life like this?” “What’s stopping me from living a simpler life?” “Do I need all this stuff to be happy?” “This Way of Life” seems to become a reflection of each audience member’s differing ways of life. We were not unaware that people might react in such a way, but we did not set out to make a film that would preach a simplistic lifestyle over a more complex

one. We always wanted to make a film of true intimacy, using the remarkable medium of film to craft a tale that is satisfying on a human level, in the way that a blockbuster can never be. We wanted to engage head and heart, and do it with great gentleness, so that the sense of this one family’s values could percolate into our everyday lives. TOM: ON POST, LOGIC, AND FEELING With this film, more than any other of our productions, we operated from a place of feeling, rather than logic, or time and motion. It was a grand departure from the usual process of logging material, making lists and thinking that some piece was missing, an additional interview required, etc. Our project management consisted of putting all the tapes into a box and not viewing them for almost four years, until we felt that filming portion of production was complete. By then, we had 60 hours of original material. Even though our FCP suite was right there, the tape deck was right there, and we could have seen anything at any time, I stayed away from any kind of review. Don’t ask me why. I don’t have a clue! Structure was difficult. Because we were making a life story, we had no idea what was going to happen next as we shot. More importantly, because getting to know reclusive people takes time, the longer we spent with the family, the more intimate we became, and the more they revealed their deepest feelings to the camera. The structure only revealed itself in the editing room, navigated by Cushla Dillon, our stalwart editor. When I started shooting “This Way of Life” in 2004, Sony had just come out with their new HDV format camera, the Z1U. It was small and manageable, and the quality seemed quite astounding for such a

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tiny, cheap thing. When I was next in LA to shoot a film, I bought a Z1U and put it through its paces alongside the cameras we were testing, a Thomson Viper and a Sony Cinealta F-950 recording to SR tape. I wasn’t out to prove anything — I just wanted to compare my little Z1U to cameras I knew well. Obviously, the Z1U doesn’t have the latitude or colour space of the 4:4:4 camera, but it was sharp and had a look of its own. After some careful massaging in

post, we got an image that cut in quite favorably with the larger, more expensive camera, and we ended up using the Z1U as our 3rd camera on that production. My digital philosophy is to gather as much information as possible during photography, and finesse later — an approach that applies to prosumer cameras as well as high end ones. I set the exposure to avoid any clipping, and the camera delivered a picture I could manipulate effectively in post. Areas that were seemingly underexposed could later be brought up to a pleasing level, noise reduction applied, and to finish with quite a good range of latitude, maybe 8 stops. The big drawback with the Z1U for me was the tiny hair trigger buttons all over the camera. I’d inadvertently press one at exactly the wrong moment and have to live with the results. The viewfinder is also very difficult to focus through, and the lens focus scale has nothing to do with the actual distance from focal plane to subject. However, by the time I returned home and started photography on “This Way of Life,” I knew my camera pretty well. The style of shooting called for in “This Way of Life” is simple and clean. With the exception of existing lighting, we shot without artificial light. My kit consisted of a small shoulder bag, containing the camera and a wide-angle adapter (which was expensive, of poor quality and rarely used), seven batteries, a high quality stereo shotgun microphone, a radio microphone, some cloth baby diapers (soft and absorbent for cleaning the camera), spare cables, a little flashlight, and a Leatherman tool. I have a good Vinten tripod with carbon fibre legs, and sometimes used a FigRig, although this device proved ungainly to pack on a horse when travelling through dense bush. The HDV footage proved its worth during colour correction. Gary Shaw, chief colorist at Technicolor, Vancouver used his outstanding talent to massage every last pixel of quality out of the material, making “This Way of Life” worthy of large screen projection.

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We used power windows, sharpening and noise reduction to get the most emotion out of each shot. We finished up by mastering out to HDCAM SR. The end result is fantastic. Unlike mechanical motion picture cameras that withstood the test of time, the digital cameras of today are a movable feast. HDV was cool for a moment but, this week, the Sony EX-1 is my favorite flavor. The Ikonoscop A-cam dII is coming soon, and looks interesting. I’ll probably switch allegiance many more times before I lay down my camera. After years of shooting 35mm film, I’ve never regretted going digital. Certainly the technology made our film possible. BARBARA: ON DETAILS AND DISTRIBUTION “This Way of Life” has played to sold out houses at the New Zealand International Film Festival and the Vancouver International Film Festival, among others. We have selected festivals that focus on the audience, believing that the audience will bring the sales, and so far, this has turned out to be true. We have a handful of theatrical distribution offers on the table, one broadcast sale is completed, and another is in negotiation. Having said all this, any rights we sell are limited. We want to keep a range of windows for ourselves. It means that we don’t just hand the film over, but remain active in promoting the film to communities-of-kind. We have a hybrid distribution deal for New Zealand, going out across the country in March 2010. The distributor does all the bookings, scheduling and split negotiation, using all his contacts and knowledge. We will do the marketing and PR ourselves, either hiring
Creative COW Magazine — The Now Issue

someone or doing it ourselves. This model enables the filmmaker — the person or company with the most at stake — to keep control of the process, and not see their potential profits eaten up in promotion. For broadcast and other windows, such as airlines, we have hired a sales agent for New Zealand and Australia who takes a straight fee. No fuss, no percentages clawed from every level of the deal. We then retain all other rights ourselves, such as DVD and non-theatre screenings. We are yet to find a North American distributor who will do that, but we are working on it, discussing with the distributors who are interested in the film to attempt to put this together. In the meantime, we have signed with a Paris-based distributor who was very open with their sales record, and was very negotiable on fees. All non-theatrical and DVD rights have been split off as non-exclusive. Here are some guidelines you might consider as you shape your own hybrid deals:
1) Ask who the agent will take your film to: broadcasters, airlines, US/UK TV buyers, etc. Also ask for an outline of expected earnings from each of these.
2) Once the agent gets a deal, he gets your approval on license fee, terms and any commercial deal points. The agent will coordinate contracting the deal, but will get filmmaker final sign off on the contract. Collections from Exhibitors can be the responsibility of either party. Who gets first recoupment is also a point to negotiate on. Use a lawyer at this point to check off the details.

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3) Agent will arrange with filmmaker to ship any required materials. In our part of the world, this is typically a PAL DigiBeta copy of the feature. Materials and shipping are at filmmaker’s expense, and are typically on loan to buyers. 4) Agent arranges for filmmaker to provide an invoice for the license fee when due. Once the filmmaker is paid, agent will invoice filmmaker for his cut of the net license fee. If you can get an agent for 20%, then that is good. 5) Filmmaker can cancel at anytime, with 30 days notice to wrap up any deal. For any deal that is concluded and signed off, but awaiting payment, the agent will still be entitled to commission. The key is in the details. In this way, everything remains transparent and in your control.

NOW “Now” is still “This Way of Life.” It’s a baby, and still needs lots of nurturing. For independents like us, the process of filmmaking includes sometimes years of promoting and marketing your film. The film we wrote about for the Cow Magazine nearly three years ago, “One Man, One Cow, One Planet,” continues to grow. Just this year, we were selected

for festivals in Spain, France, Italy and India, including the Mumbai International Film Festival. We’ve even won a new environmental award for it and the film continues to sell in stores, on our website, and on Amazon. As we completed this article, “This Way of Life” was accepted into the Berlin Film Festival. We also just received our first commission, to make a documentary I wrote seven years ago called “Leonard’s Lovers.” It came about from going to dinner parties when we lived in Montreal, and people talking about the highly regarded and influential — and famously reclusive — singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. Somebody always remarked that they slept with him, and the idea for the documentary grew from there. While Mr. Cohen is the conduit to the stories the film is a journey into the sensual and sexual transitions of the mature woman. It sat in my drawer for seven years until I met the right person at the Vancouver International Film Festival. I pitched it, and it was commissioned on the spot. I think that we’ve proven that, with diligence and consistent attention, you can make documentaries work financially. It has ended up being very worthwhile for us, in every way. n

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Barbara and Tom founded Cloud South Films as a “mid-life love child,” to allow them to make films together, and have previously written articles for us separately. Barb wrote about their documentary, “One Man, One Cow, One Planet” in our 2007 “Power of Artistic Passion” issue, which features the remarkable story of Peter Proctor’s trek to India to help restore traditional farming there. In addition to her research, writing, directing and producing for Cloud South Films, she is a columnist for the New Zea-

Barbara Sumner Burstyn Thomas Burstyn

land Herald, where she was named “Social Issues Columnist of the Year” in the Qantas Media Awards, and was a finalist for “Columnist of the Year.” For our 2008 “Music Videos” issue, director and cinematographer Tom wrote about working with the Arri D-20 digital cinema camera on “Tin Man.” Among his many awards and nominations, he won a US Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie for his work on “The 4400;” won a Genie award (the main Canadian national film award) for Best Achievement in Cinematography (“Magic In the Water”) to go with two additional nominations; and won the Canadian Society of Cinematographers Award for Best Cinematography in a Dramatic Short (“La première fois”). Tom is also a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. As they told us, “Our documentaries are personal, well researched, visually compelling and socially relevant. For us, this is the only medium worth investing in.” n

Bay View, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

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The Now Issue — Creative COW Magazine

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One Story, Two Perspectives, Three Turntables, Four Screens, and an Unconventional 7.1 Surround Sound Mix

Coacoochee’s STory
M
y boss came into my edit room to discuss the project I was about to begin for the Tampa Bay History Center in Tampa Florida. “The show is about the Seminole Indian Wars in the 1800’s. About 15-20 minutes, four screens,” he said. That’s not unusual. I’ve cut many multi-screen projects, from two to my current record — 16. He went on, “The two outside screens will be rotated 90 degrees and displayed vertically.” Now we’re getting interesting. “And there will be three large turntables, about 10 feet wide or so, with 2 or 3 life-size dioramas on each one that will spin into place at different parts of the show. “The entire stage will be behind a scrim with

Highly complex multi-media installations — at least the successful ones — are only possible through careful planning, intense cooperation, and a willingness to turn the picture on its side.
a painting of Tampa Bay circa 1840. We will use the scrim to hide the movement of the turntables, but only sometimes. Other times I want the audience to see the turntables move. Plus, there will be show-controlled lighting, rotating gobo effects, strobes and fire effects "We’ll figure all that out during the edit.” Just another day at the office at Boston Productions. BPI has been producing highly interactive, highly complex, multi-disciplinary projects for museums, visitor centers, and theme parks for over 20 years. For the Tampa Bay History Center project, we worked closely with exhibit designer Christopher Chadbourne and Associates and Set Designer Jonathan Bean Design Ltd. to create a new and exciting way to tell the story

Mike Sullivan

Norwood, Massachusetts USA Mike has been Senior Editor at BPI for over 10 years. His other installations include the Smithsonian Institution, The International Spy Museum, and The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. A Cow member for years, he says, "I especially like the Art of the Edit forum. I wrote this to give back to everyone who helped me figure out ways to make some of these Gordian projects become a reality."

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The NOW Issue — Creative COW Magazine

of Coacoochee, a Seminole Chief who escaped prison and a death sentence to lead his people during the Second Seminole War. PRODUCTION All of the dialogue and narration was taken verbatim from a series of interviews that Coacoochee gave to US Army Lieutenant John T. Sprague in 1841, after Coacoochee had been imprisoned for the final time. He and Lt. Sprague would be the conduit of the tale, each telling their sides of the story, a back and forth narrative of the events that led to Coacoochee’s capture, and the forced exodus of his people from their homes in Florida. Production was divided into two parts: a studio shoot in Massachusetts and location shooting in Florida. The actors who were cast to play Coacoochee and Lt. Sprague came to the BPI studio in Norwood, Massachusetts for the shoot. We shot them against green, so that I could composite them in their various environments later. Most of these shots would be used on the two rotated screens, which, once rotated, would be about nine feet tall, by 4 feet wide. In order to get a full resolution image for these screens the Director, Bob Noll, had a new mount designed and manufactured that allowed him to mount the Panasonic DVCPRO HD camera on its side. Coacoochee and Sprague would be the same scale as the visitor (actually a tiny bit bigger, you know, for the drama) that would give the show an extra bit of verisimilitude. After the studio shoot wrapped, it was off to Florida for a few days of battle, where re-enactors had been recruited to portray the Seminoles and the US Army Soldiers in two major battles taken from America’s early history. The new vertical camera mount got quite a workout during the battle re-enactments. I wish I could say that I took a trip to sunny Florida for the shoot myself, but alas, they don’t let me out of my dark, windowless edit room very often. Anyway, they came back with hours of footage of Native Americans fighting the US Army in the woods and wetlands of 1830s Tampa: rifles, cannons, explosions, the dead and dying — lots of great stuff, both vertical and horizontal. BUILDING THE EDIT The immersive theater experience was designed so that the video screens would be seamlessly nested into the scenery of the stage. That is, the show is not just a video on a screen: it is the entire theater. As a result, I could not edit the show in the typical way, with a timeline with a video track and two audio tracks. I needed to recreate the

Top: custom designed mount allows the camera to shoot on its side, to create vertically-oriented output. Above: Coacoochee on the greenscreen set. Below: one of the dioramas as seen in the finshed production.

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theater, virtually, inside the computer, so that I could place the imagery inside the environment. In the past, it used to take several different pieces of software to create a virtual stage. Now, however, I was able to do the entire show, start to finish, from editing to final composite, in the Avid DS. BPI invested in the DS a few years ago and I have become a huge fan of the system, and node-based editing and compositing in general. The Set Designer gave me stills of all of the dioramas as well as the entire theater set. I fed these into a 3D DVE node in the DS. Inside the DVE, I could position the stills and a layer for video to form a rudimentary 3D object that I could then rotate and spin when necessary. I have done this kind of thing before, but this theater had a new component to deal with — three motorized turntables. Two of the tables were bookends to the stage, and each held a vertical screen and two dioramas. The third turntable sat off-center, stage left, and contained three dioramas: Coacoochee in chains on the ship that was to take him from Florida; Coacoochee in his prison cell; and a Seminole warrior with a rifle hidden among some trees. (The dioramas were created by the fine artisans at Jonathan Bean Design in Yorkshire, UK.) There were moments in the show when Bob wanted the audience to actually see the turntables move. For example, the first time that Coacoochee and Sprague each appear on screen, he wanted them to fade up just as the turntable settles into its position.

To correctly achieve this, I needed to find out the speed of the real, physical turntables, so that I would know how much time I had to play with to properly time my fade. Unfortunately, the compacted production schedule meant that I was never able to get a decent answer to that question. That meant that the guys who actually did the programming on-site ended up trying to get the real turntables to match the moves I had created with my virtual turntables months earlier. I had figured that these turntables wouldn’t be pivoting around like giant tops and then be able to stop on a dime, and luckily, my guesses proved accurate. The next step was to hang the virtual scrims. For the uninitiated, theatrical scrim is a material that, when lit from the front, allows whatever is painted on it to be seen, but when lit from behind, you can see through the scrim to whatever is in back of it — in this case the video screens and/or the dioramas. I was also provided a graphic of the painting that was to be reproduced on the scrim, which I used as the top layer in my stage composite. By varying its transparency, I could achieve the illusion of lighting changes for the purposes of the edit. Finally, I placed the two horizontal screens: an 8x5 foot LCD mounted near the top of the stage, and a larger projection screen mounted below and off-center stage right. I finally had my virtual stage. Four screens in their proper positions, two of them rotated 90 degrees, all as 3D objects that I could control in nearly any way that

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deck of a prison ship when we first see him. Again, I was given stills taken on the deck of an actual ship from the correct era. Finding one that was the proper angle, I doctored it up a little, changing the lighting to a blue for a nighttime feel and adding a soft mask to vignette the shot so there are no hard edges. The final detail was to knock out the background from the ship photo and replace it with timelapse clouds moving very slowly. That gave the scene a nice sense of movement, while still retaining the “theatricality” of the composite. I gave One of the turntables, offstage. a similar look to Lt. Sprague, except that his background was a I wanted. Now I could actually start editing the show! campsite on the shore near the ship. TELLING THE STORY “Coacoochee’s Story” is obviously not your typical documentary, but it does begin like one. We open with a crawl on the top screen, and a narrator describing the time and place. At this point, the audience, who are seated in the set themselves, on log benches with mighty trees of Spanish moss hanging over their heads, are unaware of the other screens or the dioramas because the scrim is lit from the front. Suddenly, powerful cannon shots crack and echo throughout the theater. The second screen is revealed, quickly followed by the first diorama, stage left, depicting the great Chief Coacoochee, held in irons aboard a US ship. We hear him begin to tell his story as the turntable begins to slowly turn, and see him fade into existence right before our eyes, as the audience quickly realizes that they are in for something special. This was the idea anyway, and it comes across extremely well when you see the show. Throughout the presentation, Coacoochee and Lieutenant Sprague were composited into the environment. However, we were not trying to create something photorealistic. The idea was always to keep the entire show theatrical, so Bob asked me to treat the backgrounds as such. For example, Coacoochee is standing on the 40 40 THE BATTLES Bob had a very clear vision of how he wanted the battle scenes to play in the theater, and he shot them very specifically to accommodate that vision. The first battle was to be a fairly straightforward montage of battle imagery, but I was instructed to only use the two center screens. It was a fun scene to cut. Who wouldn’t want to put together a “cowboys and Indians” mêlée with guns, screams, and explosions? The second one would prove to be more of a challenge. On Christmas Day 1837, 800 members of the 6th US Infantry, struggling to get through the water, mud, and saw grass that encircle Lake Okeechobee, found themselves surrounded by Seminoles. It was your basic turkey-shoot. The Seminoles opened fire from both sides, and soldiers started dropping like flies. How to recreate this in the theater? An entire day of the production in Florida was spent filming Native Americans and Soldiers in front of a portable greenscreen. The Seminoles were shooting, and the Soldiers were getting shot. Using this material to create the Battle of Okeechobee, I re-cut the entire sequence three times before I had what Bob was looking for. The Seminoles would occupy the two vertical screens, their guns pointed in towards the center, and the Soldiers lived and died in the middle two screens. This was symbolic of the situaThe NOW Issue — Creative COW Magazine The NOW Issue — Creative COW Magazine

tion that the 6th Infantry found themselves in on that Christmas morn of 1837. The sequence starts slowly: BANG…BANG… BANG, BANG… BANG, BANG, BANG — then a cacophony of gunshots coming from all sides. The two vertical screens are just the Seminoles, keyed over black, popping on and off screen in 8-10 frame edits as they fire, with some white flashes thrown in for good measure. The center screens are the soldiers, also keyed over black, as they fall. During the battle sequence, Bob added a bunch of strobe effects, centered on the diorama of a Seminole Warrior among the trees. The sequence is quick, a few seconds at Mike Rafferty most, but the effect is powerful, jarring, sudden, loud and theatrical all at the same time. going to get lost between the cushions, or go through I eventually move away from the greenscreen the laundry, or something like that. material, and bring in footage of the Seminoles firing from the woods across all the screens as they complete AN UNCONVENTIONAL 7.1 MIX their attack, fade away, and disappear into the woods. At BPI, we also do the sound mixing for all our shows. Once I finished the on-line and color-correction, I We have a complete Pro Tools HD mixing suite, and a converted each screen to an MPEG-2 and copied the full-time audio mixer on staff, Mike Rafferty, who has files to flash cards — like the kind you put in a digidone the final mix on every show I’ve cut since 1999. tal SLR camera — which plug into an Alcorn-McBride His final mix on “Coacoochee’s Story” was just as challenging for him to mix as it was for me to cut. MPEG-2 player. As the work we do is designed for one specific In fact, most of our shows are running off those theater, Mike cannot do a basic 5.1 mix as if the show tiny flash drives these days. I always worry that they’re

Editor's note: We first met Mike in 2008, as a part of our "Non-Broadcast Video" issue. He shared a story of a multi-screen project he had worked on that was shot on both 35mm and 16mm film, offlined in Avid Media Composer, and onlined in Adobe After Effects! Here's more on his process... If I had to choose one word to describe what has changed the most in Museum Exhibit Media over the past few years it would be, "Interactivity." Every project of late has had more multimedia interactivity than the last. And I'm not talking abut simple track-balls or touch-screens here either. No sir, the interactive exhibits have become very complex and very powerful. As with linear video programs, museums count on us to deliver an immersive, interactive experience unlike anything the visitor can see elsewhere or at home. For example, at the Hoover Dam Visitors Center in Boulder City, Colorado, the visitor must manually turn a hand-crank to generate the electricity to run the appliances inside a virtual home. The more appliances you turn on, the more difficult it is to physically turn the crank. The new Connecticut Science Center in Hartford has over 25 multi-media interactives, including a station where visitors slide a scanner along a full-size human body model to diagnose athletic injuries, and a green-screen TV studio where visitors can record their own weather broadcasts and download them from the museum's website. This last example brings up the latest needs of the Museum Exhibit Media world — extending the visitor's museum experience. Burning DVDs on-site, printing photos, e-mailing Quicktimes to family and friends, uploading images and videos to Facebook and other social-networking sites or ftp sites to be downloaded on the visitors' home computers — all these things keep the visitor's experience going long after they have left the Museum.

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was playing in a movie theater or a living room. Every show is as unique and different as a fingerprint. For this venue, Mike would be creating what he calls “an unconventional 7.1 mix.” The speaker placement is thus: center, left front, right front, left surround, right surround, sub-woofer, and then two more speakers — one placed in each of the outside turntables. “I used those rarely,” says Mike. “Mostly when Coacoochee or Sprague was speaking, and I wanted the sound image to be very focused on the character.” From the beginning, it was obvious that library music just wasn’t going to do the project justice. Director Bob Noll decided that an original score for “Coacoochee’s Story” would be the final element to fully complete the experience. Composer Ruth Mendelson was brought in as the edit was coming together, and she knocked the ball out of the park. She wrote 10 cues of music for the18 minute show. I provided all the sound effects material in the form of an OMF timeline from the Avid DS, as well as the sounds effects that Mike would add himself. Ruth provided the stems for all the individual instruments from her scoring session. All told, Mike ended up with a Pro Tools session with 44 tracks. In the past, the radical differences between the shape of a particular theater and the shape of the mixing room have lead to a few unsatisfying mixes and some late night reworking of sound. To remedy this, BPI had a custom traveling case designed and built for 42

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the Pro Tools system. The case holds the Mac Pro, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and a FireWire drive, as well as a Mackie HUI mixing board and 192 I/O Box. Now, Mike can do a mix at the office, and can then travel to the venue with his equipment, connect the speakers to his I/O box, and do a final mix in the actual room where the show will be played. “This way, I hear the way the sound lives in the space. Where are the speakers really placed? Are they further apart than I thought? Does the sound bounce off the walls in a strange way? Is the sub-woofer more powerful than I planned? "Any problem can be addressed right there.” ANY GOOD? Although I said I’m not usually let out of my edit room, I did get the opportunity to see this show in its proper venue. I was waiting in line for the previous show to let out, and I overheard a few people talking behind me. “What’s this show about?” an old man wondered aloud. A father with two kids, maybe age 7 and 10, answered, “It’s about the Seminole Indian Wars.” “Any good?” asked the old man. “Oh, yeah,” the Dad answered. “This is our third time seeing it." I thought that was pretty cool. n
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BAND PRO OFFERS NEW SET OF 4K “MYSTERY PRIMES” LENSES
www.bandpro.com After three years of design and prototyping, Band Pro Film and Digital has introduced a groundbreaking new brand of ultra-high performance PL mount prime lenses, designed to deliver optical performance for true 4K imaging and beyond. The new T1.4 lenses are fully developed and 3 focal lengths are due to be demonstrated on the F35 camera at the event. The series of prime lenses, still code named “Mystery Primes” within Band Pro, will eventually total 15 different focal lengths, ranging from 12mm to 150mm. Delivery of production models of eight of the lenses will begin in early summer of 2010. The entire set of “Mystery Primes” features unified distance focus scales, common size and location of focus and iris rings, and a 95mm threaded (for filters) lens front —all allowing quick interchange of lenses in a busy production environment. Designed to be light in weight yet rugged on the set, the mount and lens barrel are manufactured using lightweight high strength titanium materials. For example, a typical Mystery Prime weighs just 3 lbs (1.4kg). The core set of “Mystery Primes”, which will start delivering by June 2010, includes 16mm, 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 65mm, 75mm, and 100mm lenses. Additional focal lengths will be delivered in a second phase.

AJA RELEASES FREE iPHONE APP FOR VIDEO PROFESSIONALS www.aja.com
AJA DataCalc is a free storage requirement calculator designed for video professionals and is available now as a free download from the Apple iTunes Store. Designed as a fast and simple tool for audio and video professionals, AJA DataCalc can be used in the field during acquisition, or in the edit bay during post-production, allowing the user to effortlessly calculate their storage consumption and data capturing requirements. “We’re all big fans of the iPhone and wanted to create an application that would be useful to our customers in professional digital content creation,” said Nick Rashby, President, AJA Video Systems. “DataCalc is right in line with AJA’s product philosophy which aims to deliver products that simplify and streamline the often complex workflows of video professionals. It’s a simple little application, that has already proven to be very handy in the field!” AJA DataCalc supports a wide array of video compression formats such as Apple ProRes, DVCProHD, HDV, XDCAM, DV, RGB and YUV Uncompressed and more. Video standards supported include NTSC, PAL, 1080i, 1080p. 720p, 2K and 4K.

STEFANI RICE JOINS CREATIVE COW TEAM

www.creativecow.net

Stefani Rice has joined the Creative COW Team in January 2010 as a member of our web development and magazine teams. Stefani will be assisting Abraham Chaffin, Creative COW’s technical director, in the development of new systems and infrastructure for our members, and will also be assisting Tim Wilson and Ron Lindeboom in the development of Creative COW Magazine. Stefani has been a part-time member during years past and now joins as our newest fulltime member of the industry’s leading media professionals support organization. “With a broad skillset and strong technical and editorial skills, Stefani will be a great addition to the Creative COW Team,” says Creative COW CEO, Ron Lindeboom.

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PANASONIC UNVEILS WORLD’S FIRST INTEGRATED FULL HD 3D CAMCORDER
www.panasonic.com/business/provideo/home.asp Pictures like these have been circulating for a year now, but in January 2010 came the official announcement: Panasonic will release the world’s first professional, fully-integrated Full HD 3D camcorder in Fall 2010. Engineering samples of the solid-state camcorder will be exhibited at Panasonic’s booth at NAB 2010, from April 12-15. Panasonic will also begin taking orders at the show, with the first cameras planned to ship in the fall. In addition to the release date and a chance to see the thing, what have we learned in the past month that we hadn’t heard in the past year? We know what Panasonic calls it: “Twinlens Full HD 3D camcorder.” We now know that the suggested retail price is $21,000 for the main unit, and that the cameras will be built to order. While early reports indicated that recording would be to P2 media, the camera will in fact use less expensive SDHC/SD memory cards, in an integrated dual recorder configuration. The lenses, camera head, and the dual Memory Card recorder are integrated into a single, lightweight body – 3 KG, under 7 lbs. Until now, professional 3D rigs have been complex, expensive, often difficult to manage, and above all, proprietary. Building your own custom rig has been the only alternative. With a few exceptions, these have been large-scale setups in which two cameras are fitted to a rig in parallel, or vertically intersect across a half-mirror. There are challenges related to matching lenses, and precisely controlling their relative horizontal and vertical positions. Making convergence adjustments has been problematic. Separate recorders are also required. The twin-lens system adopted in the Full HD 3D camcorder’s optical section allows the convergence point to be adjusted. Functions for automatically correcting horizontal and vertical displacement are also provided. Conventional 3D camera systems require these adjustments to be made by means of a PC or an external video processor. This new camcorder, however, will automatically recalibrate without any need for external equipment. Professional production still calls for more than a camcorder alone, of course, so Panasonic also plans to offer a professional-quality 3D Full HD LCD monitor for field use, as well as a professional HD digital AV mixer for live event production. So, why was a $21,000 professional camera officially rolled out at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show? Because it is part of a much larger set of initiatives dating back to 2009, when Panasonic was virtually alone in its commitment to 3D production, distribution and home consumption, and entirely alone in the scope of these commitments: the world’s first home 3D theater systems, based around Blu-ray disc recorders, and plasma TVs. The following month, they established the Advanced Authoring Cneter, Panasonic Hollywood Laboratories, for authoring 3D Hollywood movies on Blu-ray disks. Panasonic’s 2009 CES fetivities included a video presentation by “Avatar” director James Cameron announcing his support of Panasonic’s 3D equipment. At this year’s CES, in addition to the Full HD 3D camera, Panasonic also showed a new line of 3D-compatible plasma screens, the VT25 series, with sizes up to 65 inches — 64.7 inches, to be exact — diagonally. (The sets work dandily in 2D as well, of course.) The sets will include one pair of glasses using an active LC shutter system. These achieve their 3D effect by alternately brightening and darkening the right and left lenses synchronously with the TV. These will be available in the US this Spring, at roughly the same price as their current high-end 2D sets. Panasonic also showed a Full HD 3D Blu-ray player and wireless home theater system, and announced with partner DirecTV the launching of three new 3D channels in the US by June 1. ESPN has also announced a 3D network to launch this year in time for the World Cup in June, with a commitment to air a minimum of 85 live events in the next year. Discovery, Sony and IMAX have also announced a letter of intent to create a new venture to launch in 2012. By then, there will surely be a number of additional 3D networks. continued on the following page

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PANASONIC HD 3D CAMCORDER — continued from previous page
The HDMI 1.4 spec is also being updated to accommodate the dual 1080p streams required for Full HD 3D programming. A number of commentators have opined that glasses will be an obstacle to adopting 3D in the home. The fact is, though, that the number of people watching 3D with glasses in theaters, including repeat viewings, has been skyrocketing. The more important consideration is the contrast with the adoption of HD: when the first HD networks launched, there were fewer than 2 million HD-compatible TV sets already in homes. Contrast this with as many as 150 million HDcompatible sets already in homes! Even though HD is only on a handful of channels, and many of those channels are a long way from offering 24 hours of HD programming, HD is indisputably “here,” right now. Within just a few months, 3D will be in largely the same state: a handful of 3D channels, with limited 3D programming… for now, with more on the way. Just as Blu-ray adoption is now well ahead of DVD adoption at the same point in its development, it is easy to imagine how the “here now”-ness of 3D could happen even more quickly than it did for HD. Quantel has just released a new version of software for its eQ, iQ and Pablo systems which, among a number of other useful new features, also includes support for the RED Rocket accelerator board. Quantel is the first manufacturer to release software that supports it, allowing Quantel users to benefit from the much reduced loading and conform times RED Rocket enables with RED-originated material. The new software release - V4.1rev6 - also includes the Cubebuilder, which enables Pablo users to build, manipulate and apply 3D Look-up Tables (LUTs) entirely within Pablo. It also supports process re-ordering in multi-layer timeline effects for more flexibility in effects creation, nine new blend modes, improved conform and file handling features, and new export modes to simplify Blu-ray and DVD generation.

SONY UNVEILS HRX-NX5U SOLID STATE CAMCORDER
pro.sony.com Sony Electronics is expanding its line of solid state camcorders, introducing its first professional camcorder that implements the AVCHD format, the HXR-NX5U. The professional HXR-NX5U model is part of Sony’s NXCAM family of video products for professionals. It features Sony’s Exmor™ CMOS sensor with ClearVid™ array, to deliver full high-definition resolution and low light sensitivity with low noise. The camcorder will record AVCHD up to 24Mbps, delivering 1920x1080 high definition images with both interlace and progressive modes along with native 1080/24P, 720/60p and MPEG2 standard definition recording. The NX5U camcorder includes both HD-SDI and HDMI outputs, as well as two-channel linear PCM audio capabilities. Other unique features for the professional NX5U camcorder include 720/60P recording, built-in GPS function, SMPTE Time Code I/O and an upgrade option for 60i/50i switchable. (Sony has already introduced one professional AVCHD-based model: the compact POV camera and solidstate recorder combination, model HXR-MC1.) The new NXCAM model also shares the 20x optical zoom G lens used in Sony’s HVR-Z5U professional camcorder. The camcorder uses two types of consumer media along with an optional HXR-FMU128 128GB Flash Memory Unit for more than 11 hours of recording time at 24 Mbps. The HXR-FMU128 unit can be easily

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PRO Storage for the Pros Generation 2 is here

SONY HRX-NX5U CAMCORDER
— cont. from previous page

removed and simply powered through a computer’s USB connection, to make file downloading or editing easier and faster. Besides the Memory Stick PRO Duo™ media, users are also able to record HD content on class 4 or higher SDHC cards. Sony is also expanding its industry leading line of consumer media with the addition of five new SD/SDHC memory cards for digital imaging products, including camcorders. The new HXR-NX5U began shipping in January 2010, at a suggested list price of $4,950, which is the same as Sony’s highly successful HVRZ5U. The HXR-FMU128 unit also shipped in January, at a suggested list price of $800.

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RE:VISION EFFECTS, INC., RELEASES TWIXTOR OFX VERSION FOR THE FOUNDRY’S NUKE AND AUTODESK’S MAYA
www.revisionfx.com RE:Vision Effects has released Twixtor as an Open FX (OFX) plug-in set; Foundry’s Nuke and Autodesk’s Maya Composite (Toxik) are currently ™ supported, with other hosts to be added as Twixtor has been verified to work properly within them. In order to achieve its unparalleled image quality for speeding up, slowing down, and altering the frame rate of footage, Twixtor synthesizes unique new frames by warping and interpolating frames of the original sequence, employing RE:Vision’s proprietary tracking technology that calculates motion for each individual pixel. The new OFX version of Twistor adds support for marking material, so that Twixtor does not motion-interpolate inappropriately across a cut or other transition. It supports up to 3 foreground mattes for up to 4 layers of individual tracking, and also supports motion vector import and export. [Editor’s Note: Creative COW Magazine’s “Visual Effects Issue,” RE:vision’s Pierre Jasmin discusses the Academy Award®-winning optical flow technology that he developed with his partner Pete Litwinowicz, which is incorporated across all of RE:Vision FX’s product line, including Twixtor. You can find them hosting the RE:vision Effects forum at CreativeCow.net, and you can also find numerous Twixtor tutorials at library.creativecow.net.]

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To find out about placing your ad in Creative COW Magazine, please contact: Tim Matteson <tmatteson@creativecow.net>
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2010: The COW enters its own Year 10

A FEW SECRETS OF WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR THE COW AND ITS MEMBERS IN 2010

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hange. It’s a word that seems to be in the air lately. And when you have been building media professionals communities as we have since June of 1995, you learn that on the web, change is a constant. And in 2009 and 2010, change is speeding up in ways never seen before. Creative COW is entering its own 10th year during 2010, and as we enter 2010, we have the biggest changes in our history to roll out. Some changes will come earlier in the year, others will come later. But change will be a constant, one piece at a time. But when the calendar closes on 2010, one thing will be quite sure: Creative COW was never busier, or as evolutionary as it was during 2010. We realize that it would be nearly impossible to take the COW on the road — at least in the sense of actually getting everyone together in one place. So we have been working to add features that allows our members to easily interact with “birds of a feather” in their own local area. We hope to one day see many local COW groups around the globe. It’s just one small but important part of the new interface we are working on, an entirely new interface for The COW that will allow our members to opt-in (or out) of features that will give them the ability to meet with COWs from their own area. It could be for local user group meetings, or you might want to meet with other COW members in your area that use DSLRs. It could be to help staff or promote a film festival in your area, or any event of interest to COW members in a geographical area. The possibilities are endless. Our new interface has been in the planning stage for much of 2009, and began development in the last quarter of 2009. Its planned completion date is slated for early Q3 of 2010. Even our popular video reels area is slated for an upgrade in both backbone and feature support. These video features will then be leveraged by other new areas of our redesign. For example: we

are developing new camera areas into which you might upload your test footage if you elect to. This requires a huge redevelopment effort on the part of the COW and is not a simple tweaking of our existing interface. This is a major redesign of nearly every system and sub-system that now makes up Creative COW. We have “master-planned” the kind of design and feature-set that we believe is indicative of what social media communities will be in the future. It is an interface that we have code-named our “nonlinear” interface and it allows our members to interact in many entirely new ways. It bears no resemblance to anything that we have seen elsewhere on the Net. It allows us to leverage The COW’s enormous amount of support and information, and serve it to our visitors within an interface that “takes them from question to answer” in the fewest number of steps possible. If you hate change, don’t worry, as you will still be able to access the classic COW interface. We hope to have the completed nonlinear interface fully implemented by Q3 2010. An earlier mentioned contributing “piece” will roll out shortly: our new professional camera site. We have built a database of nearly every pro-level camera and lens in the market and we have many ways that we will later leverage this information to the benefit of our members. Stay tuned. You learn a few things in 15 years, and one of the things that we have learned is that Neil Young was right: rust never sleeps -- and neither does the internet. You can’t rest for long on the internet. 2010 will be the year in which Creative COW redefined itself in ways that leveraged its powerful legacy of linear forums and millions of questions and answers, and tied it to an artificial intelligence engine that took media professionals to a far more powerful and supportive future. n

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The NOW Issue — Creative COW Magazine

Hands On Certified Training at Post|Production World Conference

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Unifying all your video sources and cameras has never been easy — until now. The AJ-HPM200 P2 Mobile is the key workflow tool on any production because its HD-SDI connectivity lets you record from any camera or device in 10-bit, 4:2:2 independent frame AVC-Intra100 or DVCPRO HD/50/25 and, simultaneously* in long GOP AVCCAM.** So no matter how many sources you have, you can bring them all into one portable unit. With the new HPM200, you can play P2 and AVCCAM footage, as well as full frame rate P2 playback from a disk drive. You can also archive master-quality footage and FTP low bit rate AVCCAM dailies without ever leaving the set. With the most diverse I/O connectivity of any recorder/player and a bevy of features, like e-SATA and GigE interfaces, split-screen editing, six P2 slots for long record times and full cross-conversion capabilities, it’s easier to list what the HPM200 doesn’t do. The P2 Mobile won’t deliver craft services, but it just might save you from running into overtime. Learn more at www.panasonic.com/broadcast.

*With optional AJ-YCX250G codec board **Panasonic markets its professional AVCHD products under the AVCCAM brand name © 2009 Panasonic of North America

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