More Traveling with Cameras

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April and May have been amazing so far. Great jobs came out of nowhere and I have been traveling. In April I was hired to shoot for two shows in the Bahamas: ‘Laura McKenzie’s Traveler’ and ‘Elizabeth Stanton’s Great Big World’.
The job included traveling on a yacht and staying in luxury resorts on the Xumas in the Bahamas for 2 1/2 weeks. Unbelievable. I was shooting on an old Sony F350 xdcam monster, sometimes knee-deep in water surrounded by sharks. Haha, not the man eating ones. All I can say is that I’m very grateful for the experience and feel privileged that I was able to work in a place where other people pay a lot of money to get to – and being with great talent and crew of course.
Now I’m back on the documentary about rural surgery we started last year and we are traveling the US on a shoe string budget. It’s the same amount of fun though which proves to me that I’m in the right job: I love what I do! So instead of racing in a cigarette boat through turquoise water and blasting HipHop I drive through the night in an RV listening to country music. Both awesome!
I decided to use my FS700 for the documentary although I couldn’t charge them for it – just because I love the camera. Still – the HVX proved itself way more practical for filming the surgeries and following the doctors around. Big sensor cameras slow you down substantially and require a certain amount of preplanning. Not that I haven’t done any run and gun on my Canon T2i but the amount of non-usable footage is way higher. Talking about out-of-focus.
There are some possible jobs coming up but I don’t want to talk about them until I’m booked. Classic superstitious behavior. Wish me luck.

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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.

ISO Noise Level Test with the Sony FS700 (closed cap test)

This is a very boring but important test if you want to find out how the noise levels in the darkest blacks will increase when you crank up your ISO.
The FS700 provides very clean blacks up to 1600 and is absolutely usable up to 3200. 6400 is the cut off if you don’t want to compromise too much but it still looks nice since the natural structure of the noise (looks like film grain). But if your coverage depends on it you can crank it up all the way to 16000. We should call this Night for Day!
If I compare this with similar test with older Canon DSLRs we gain a lot here! Basically this is all the ISO we need. Who would want to make night look like day? The FS 700 is right up there with the Canon C300. This test was actually inspired by Shane Hurlbut’s ISO test of the Canon 1DC which is of course a very different animal. Anyway – again – the FS700 proves itself a strong contender in the low light field.

I highly recommend to watch this in full screen mode.

ISO Test with Sony FS700 (closed cap method) from Blue Tree Productions on Vimeo.

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

First Footage filmed with the FS700 – Fun with Guns

That’s my first official shoot with the Sony FS700. I’m very grateful for the great subjects so I could put the camera through a tough test. It was basically running all day in high speed mode and it didn’t generate any problems whatsoever. I shot with a gamma mode that’s faithful to (ITU-709) but changed the colors in post. Highlights were holding up perfectly although we had a lot of hard sunlight. I used “End Trigger” for the the Super Slow Motion which is very useful for guns and explosions. Overall, a great first impression.

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