The New Anamorphic

Vilmos Zsigmond predicted a renaissance of anamorphic movies: “The anamorphic format is really perfect and it helps editing (…) you have a close up in the front left and a long shot in the right on the other side, so even if it’s a little out of focus you have the environment in the same shot at the closeup. If you are shooting TV a closeup is a closeup (…) it’s not exiting visual. That’s why I think there is a renaissance happening in anamorphic movies”

I think it’s something we can all wish for as much as for 3D to go away. Companies like Arri and Vantage Film are gearing up for the new aera of filmmaking and anamorphic lenses are popping up everywhere. The Alexa offers a 4:3 sensor format that is designed to capture the light coming through an anamorphic lens and then sends it to the de-squeezing into the digital intestines of the camera.

Vantage Film announced that they are investing € 7 Million in development of new lenses and tools. This represents the largest expansion in the company’s 20 year history. I assume that heir legendary Hawk lenses will be overhauled and optimized for the digital age.

Cooke Optics Ltd is also working on anamorphic lenses. They are planned to be ready by end of 2013 or early 2014, and my guess is they will be front cylinder, classic style Anamorphic primes, with the traditional “Cooke Look.”

Arri/Zeiss are working on a whole new line of anamorphic lenses and introduced some of them to the public already.

Servicevision has a 100mm 2x anamorphic prime (above) and a 36 mm model. Six lenses are planned to be shown at NAB 2013: 36, 40, 50, 64, 80 and 100 mm, with delivery toward end of 2013. The lenses are named Scorpio.

Of course Panavision still has a huge inventory of anamorphic lenses.

I believe we all can be looking forward to more and more production of epic widescreen movies in the very near future.

Remote Editing will be Mainstream: Adobe Anywhere

Adobe is moving into the future: Faster than anybody else. The concept of remote controlling your editing server is not new but to just build it into you editing software and optimize it the way they did is still a big step forward.

Until now I have been considering buying a Retina Mac Book Pro, so I can edit on the road and then also was concidering buying the Mac Pro tower that is announced for the next year. This will put at least a $12.000 hole in my pocket.

Now I can rethink and from what I heard maybe even this configuartion would be possible:

Having a Macbook Air with me at all times and log into my powerful server WHICH WILL BE A WINDOWS MACHINE. This could cut the cost in half – if not more. This is exiting news and I’m very grateful that I updated to the Adobe creative cloud as well. I’m on the right track.

 

Another Super35mm HD Camera: Canon announces the EOS C100

The EOS C100 with a lens from Canon L-glass series

Another big sensor Camera hits the market. And for a reasonable price. The under $10.000 segment has more and more choices now. This could be an easy pic for those shooting on the 5D and who have an extensive set of Canon glass. Basically it’s the reduced version of the C300 but it still has the most important features: Amazing low light sensitivity and the same sensor. I certainly don’t want to make a quick judgment because I’m sure Canon did a great job and I actually haven’t worked with the C300 yet (just played around with it at NAB). But if I compare it to Sony’s FS700 which costs the same there are three massively important features missing:

1. Superslowmotion

2.HD-SDI out

3. Future upgrade to compressed 4K raw out.

So here is the question: Is the convenience of not using an adaptor worth missing out on those features?

Here’s a quick list of features (from the Canon website):

The EOS C100 digital video camera is approximately 85% of the size of the EOS C300 model, for maximum mobility. Designed for professional operability, the C100 includes a push auto iris function, one-shot auto focus (or full manual focus and exposure control), a multi-angle 3.5-inch LCD control panel, a high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF), built-in ND filters, dual XLR inputs, and a locking HDMI output. These features combine with such advanced technologies as reduced rolling shutter artifacts in 60i mode, enhanced gamma modes (including Wide Dynamic Range (DR) Gamma and Canon Log Gamma), cinematic depth of field characteristics, and excellent low-light performance. The C100 records to dual SD cards contributing to the camera’s reduced size and convenience.

Like its C300 sibling, the EOS C100 employs Canon’s uniquely designed Super 35mm 16:9 CMOS sensor that captures individual R, G, and B channels for each full HD 1920 x 1080 frame. This high-sensitivity CMOS sensor provides creative depth of field capabilities for an excellent “bokeh” effect, and provides an ISO range of from 320 to 20,000, enabling the capture of images in low light with minimal picture noise. The Canon DIGIC DV III image processor in the C100 helps ensure high color fidelity and smooth color gradations. The camera’s AVCHD codec utilizes MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression similar to the codec used in Canon’s XA10 professional HD camcorder. AVCHD features a maximum recording bit rate of 24Mbps in full HD 1920 x 1080 and 4:2:0 color space for sharp, vivid images. Multiple recording modes, resolutions, and frame rates (including 24p) make the C100 creatively flexible for many production environments. The C100 also offers enhanced gamma modes (including Wide DR Gamma and Canon Log Gamma) for a peak dynamic range of 800% and the wide exposure latitude needed for creative post-production image processing, color correction, and contrast manipulation.

 

View of the censor of Canon’s new EOS C100

The Race for the Best Camera is Over

A pile of crap?

Zacuto’s Revenge of The Great Camera Shoot Out has proved nothing. What was the point? It’s unclear.

The main reason I think is this: There was a hidden agenda  to create an uproar in the community of filmmakers – to instigate another revolution. But the revolution is over. All that is clear now is that we have even more tools. And that we don’t have to be rich to buy one of those tools.

But what does it mean? That you can create a beautiful looking movie with an iPhone? Certainly not. It actually proves the opposite: You need a lot of talent and crew including a professional soundstage to make the images look as close as possible to the ones of the expensive counterparts.

It proves to me that you still need talent and money to make a good movie. That’s how it alway has been and that’s how it’s always going to be. If one tool in the chain of tools has gotten cheaper it doesn’t mean you don’t need lights, people to set the lights and more people to control the rest of the environment. Locations have to be rented, production days need to be planned and there is the rest of the crew like sound and makeup. If you would put a Sony F65 into an iPhone it would not turn all the millions of iPhone owners into brilliant filmmakers.

The tools don’t make you a filmmaker. Making a movie doesn’t even depend on which camera you use – you use what you can afford. That’s why RED has so  many fanboys: They based their whole marketing on the idea that a camera automatically makes you a filmmaker. Get an Epic and you are Peter Jackson. I’m sure Peter Jackson can create great movies with any camera.

We have to go back to the basics of filmmaking and when it comes to cinematography it’s about the craft and art of using light and shadow, framing, movement and colors to express a moment in time that is part of a bigger story.

It’s really not about the question how well the GH2 holds up next to the F65. People who still take questions like this serious are lost. The digital revolution in filmmaking is over. Now it’s just filmmaking and creativity. Let’s stop counting pixels and data rates.

An Epic doesn't turn you into Peter Jackson

My new Sony Nex-FS700 is now for rent

Jan Becker's Sony Nexus FS700 is now for rent

If you want to rent me and my Sony FS700 contact me on bluetreeproductions.com

I’m ready to help you to shoot your project using my new baby the Sony FS700. I tested it’s abilities and I’m blown away by the picture quality. It’s definitely a step up from a DSLR. Colors are beautiful, the latitude is much better and the noise in low light is minimal. The super slow motion in 240fps looks clean and very impressive. I will post some footage soon. Contact me through my website www.bluetreeproductions.com

Latitude Test with the FS700

They did some latitude and other test over at AbelCine in New York and I’m mostly happy about the fact that the FS700 will deliver about 11 stops of latitude: same as the FS100. What is interesting is that the new camera has the Cinegamma settings of the F3 which will put it in a more cinematic space with softer rolling off highlights.

Also, people were worried that the smaller photo-sites on the sensor would create more noise but as it turns out, the difference is barely visible. So the low-light sensitivity is still amazing.

They did some more tests, just check it out over at AbelCine.

A visit to Arri Burbank

Snehal Patel and Jan Becker with the Alexa Studio

I finally payed a visit to Arri in Burbank – a visit long overdue since the company and I share the same hometown: Munich. I was invited by Franz Wieser, Vice President of international marketing after a friendly talk at NAB 2012 where we also found out we had common friends and of course – Bavarian roots. He pointed out to me that Arri is always open to help anybody who picks up the phone, e-mails or visits them on Victory Boulevard.

And indeed, after entering the inviting Burbank headquarters I felt very welcome. On their testing stage were 2 Alexas set up to work with: The Alexa Studio and the Alexa Plus, both already equipped with the new 4:3 sensor. The Studio version was connected to a Codex Arriraw recorder and carried a massive 45-250 Alura zoom lens.

Franz Wieser and Julio Saldarriaga

Snehal Patel, a former teacher of camera technology now working full time for Arri as a sales representative gave a great overview of the two systems. Happily he explained to me the science of debayering, the process where sensor data is interpreted by the computer inside the camera and the actual digital image is created. And as he was talking it became clear why Arri is the leading company when it comes to color science. They started gathering experience many years ago through developing tools like the Arri Scanner and the Oscar winning Arri Laser which concluded in their first digital camera: the D-21.

What they learned is that it’ all about color – not about sharpness and pixel count – it’s about finding a way that the image that ends up on the screen is beautiful and able to carry emotions.

Julio and Snehal working it

That is exactly the reason when camera tests for Hollywood films and shows are conducted, they always put the actors in front of the lens and not a landscape or a car or a robot.

Not to my surprise the Alexa is by far and beyond the winner of most of these tests. I have been hearing rumors that about 95% of all TV shows are now shot on the Alexa. It’s ability to create beautiful skin tones is now already legendary.

Talking about TV shows: In a world where time is money the über-easy workflow of the Alexa is also a very convincing selling point.

Jan holding the Alexa M head

The demonstations Snehal gave us were very impressive, especially how easy it was to create a look file on set and then add it to your output image while still recording flat in Log-C.

During the time of our visit he answered many of our questions and as it turns out the Alexa is a camera that’s very easy to use and also very forgiving. It gives you the ability to focus on the creative work and not being bogged down by technical limitations and problems. There is much more written on the technical details of the camera online and of course you should visit the ARRI website for a massive amount of online support.

Julio with the Alexa Plus

All in all I have to say that I can’t wait to work on my next project using the ALEXA!