In this lesson, Kevin P McAuliffe answers a viewers question about how to Offline 4K Red footage in HD, and then relink to your original RAW footage to finish and export your final master. To make matters a little more difficult, we’re going to use clips with different frame rates, but with the newest version of Media Composer, 2019.7, this is now no problem, and the process is as smooth as can be. Keep in mind that if you’re going to be working with RED media inside of Media Composer, you will need the Red AMA Plug-in, that you can find below.
One thing that I really like about these tutorials is that there’s always feedback from people saying “Why didn’t you do it this way?” or “I work by doing this, that and the other thing!”. That’s what’s great about these workflows. There are always different ways to achieve the end goal. Why do I use my methods? Because I’ve been using them for years, and they haven’t failed me yet! Enjoy!
Why Weta, one of the world’s foremost VFX companies, went human-powered for their robot. This is how they pulled off the impossible.
Netflix’s I Am Mother features a robot named Mother who, as Production manager Kathryn Jackson explains, “…is a pivotal character in the film. Seen on screen for 80 to 90% of the time from every angle.”
With films from Star Wars to short filmmakers trying their hand at believable CG characters, today’s audience is savvier than ever. So how did I Am Mother’s filmmakers face the challenge of creating a believable, complex robot that is on screen for almost the entire film?
Before we reveal the filmmakers’ process, let’s take a look at the trailer:
The Godfather script is a thing of beauty. Let’s focus on the big picture and take some worldbuilding lessons from it.
Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola wanted to tell the story of a family in flux. Immigrants living the American dream after the war. But also criminals. To do this, they had to adapt Puzo’s best selling book and build a world that most Americans were unfamiliar with and had little to no idea how it worked.
Today we’re going to take a look at the script for The Godfather and talk about how its worldbuilding helped create what some people think is the greatest film ever made.
Blackmagic Ultrastudio is the primarily method we use for monitoring true video images from Resolve, but one vital element still hasn’t gotten an update.
If you want to accurately monitor your video image while you edit or color grade, you need a hardware converter that outputs a true video signal from your computer to hook up to a monitor. You simply cannot accurate analyze video for color on a computer desktop. While many companies make video output products, if you are working with Blackmagic Resolve software, you need to use Blackmagic Hardware to get that video signal out. It’s one of the ways they make a living, since the software many use for color grading (Resolve) is of course available for free.
In light of the barrage of recent allegations against top industry photographers, Jessica Kobeissi is utilizing her platform on YouTube to shed light on what she describes as “the dark side of modeling,” sharing stories she’d heard from females she’s worked with.
SAR readers from the USA told me their 200-600mm G preorder shipped out yesterday at BHphoto. Still preorders were so high you can’t find the lens in Stock anywhere yet. USA/CA Preorders: Sony 200-600mm FE at Amazon, BHphoto, FocusCamera, BuyDig,…
On the back of the Pinhole Pro and Pinhole S ‘innovation incubator’ Thingyfy has launched what it is describing as the world’s first pinhole zoom lens. The Pinhole Pro X offers full frame users a range of focal lengths covering 40-60mm, while the APS-C and MFT version has focal lengths of 18-36mm.
Unlike the usual pin prick in a sheet of aluminium foil, the aperture for these lenses is created by micro drilling, which the manufacturer claims produces a rounder and cleaner hole and thus better image quality. This allows company to create an aperture measuring just 0.25mm in diameter and less than 0.1mm deep. The F-stop values than for the full frame model will be F160-240, and for the APS-C lens F72-144.
The below video was shot with Thingyfy’s previous pinhole lens, the Pinhole Pro S:
The metal bodied lens comes in mounts for Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony A, Sony E, Pentax K, Fujifilm X and Micro Four Thirds. Both the full frame and APS-C models cost $69 via the Kickstarter campaign. For more information see the Pinhole Pro X Kickstarter page.
Disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project. DPReview does its best to share only the projects that look legitimate and come from reliable creators, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there’s always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.
What happens when you put a $52,000, 150MP medium format monster of a camera into the hands of complete newbies? The folks at Gear Patrol wanted to find out. So they got some of the non-photographers on their staff to come in and try out the Phase One XF IQ4 before telling them just how expensive the camera really is.
The setup was pretty straight forward. Deputy photo editor Henry Phillips put a radio trigger on the IQ4 and tethered it to a laptop running Capture One. All the “testers” simply had to pick the thing up (a feat in and of itself) and press the shutter to see their images big and beautiful on the computer screen.
Overall, the video is pretty funny, and a good reminder that most people are just not that knowledgeable about cameras and photography. One of GP’s staffers admitted that the photos she was capturing were definitely better than the ones she takes with an iPhone, before asking what a megapixel is. Another described the camera with one word: extravagant. Nobody guessed a price over 10 grand.
To be fair, all of the testers were impressed with the unbelievable resolution they were seeing, but they were equally shocked by the unbelievable price tag. As Phillips puts it at the end of the video, $52,000 is “the price of a well-equipped BMW 3-Series, or a downpayment on a lot of house.” But for the photographers who need that kind of resolution from every single image they shoot, it’s an investment like any other.
Check out the full video above for a little Friday afternoon entertainment, and then feel free to share your (slightly more informed) thoughts on the XF IQ4 in the comments down below.
The new $2500 BMPCC 6K from Blackmagic is obviously huge news, but we are left wondering if EF was the right lens choice.
The original Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K was a huge, huge, huge hit. They basically can’t keep them on the shelves and are popping up everywhere you look. The combination of 4K resolution, RAW capture, and a $1500 price point was just impossible to beat.
While we enjoyed the camera, one of our frustrations was that in many ways it felt more like an evolution of the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera (BMCC) than the original Pocket, since honestly, you couldn’t fit it in your pocket. It even looked a bit like the BPCC.
Yesterday, in their press presentation, Blackmagic acknowledged that and released what we can really think of as the updated BMCC: the new 6K EF mount Super35mm sensor sized Pocket Cinema Camera 6K.
Like it or not, much of the conversation around image quality these days revolves around sensor size. When Sony announced the a7R IV, it boasted image quality that “rivaled medium format.” When people defend Micro Four Thirds, they show off their ultra-portable system and claim the images are “indistinguishable from full-frame.”
And then you have tweets like this:
Full-frame has all-but taken over as the professional ‘standard.’ But why? And does it even deserve that title?
I don’t think it does. I don’t think full-frame’s dominance is based on the fact that it sits in some sort of sensor size “sweet spot,” but is instead the result of a historical bias towards the 35mm format. A bias that occasionally serves camera companies, but rarely photographers.
For these kinds of discussions, it’s important that we’re all using the same definitions. So before I go too far and piss off too many people (no chance of that right?…) let’s define “ideal.” For the purposes of this comparison, “ideal” is the best combination of performance, system size and cost, with the performance category worth as much as size and cost combined.
“Weighting” the categories might seem like nitpicking, but I think it’s important to establish some sort of standard from the get-go. I also think it’s how most of us evaluate the merits of various formats intuitively.
The smaller the sensor, the better it will do in the size and cost departments, but at some point the performance trade-off is simply not worth it. Similarly, while we’d all love the best possible performance, most of us are unwilling to go out and buy the latest 150MP medium format system: both the size and cost of that kind of setup are prohibitive.
Finally, performance also suffers eventually. Bigger, higher-resolution sensors mean big, unwieldy RAW files, slow[er] continuous shooting speeds, greater strain on the image processor and buffer, worse video performance, and diminishing returns unless you can manufacture and focus your lenses perfectly. Size does not equal performance outright.
How Full-Frame Became the Standard
As I put together this piece, I reached out to DPReview Technical Editor Richard Butler and PhotonsToPhotos editor Bill Claff to get their take on why full-frame is the widely-referenced standard, and whether or not it even makes sense to crown an “ideal” image sensor.
Each began by sharing their over-aching opinion on the matter.
“You’re absolutely right that sensor format is a balance between size, price and image quality,” said Butler. “I don’t think there is a definitive ‘best’ combination though: everyone will have their own personal threshold for image quality and for the size of gear they’re happy to lug around. To each their own.”
Claff took a more technical tack. “Sensor size (or format) comes down to application,” he told me. “The performance per unit area is the same—silicon is silicon, active pixels are active pixels.”
But both agreed that full-frame had become the “default” standard because it was the easiest and most logical to support, not because it’s somehow superior to all the rest. There are historical reasons why manufacturers would rather sell you full-frame cameras, and those historical reasons occasionally have financial benefits as well.
The dominance of full-frame is primarily historical, as Butler explained to me over email:
Camera brands with a lot of investment already sunk into full-frame (film-era) lenses had a clear motivation to focus their efforts on that format. After all, the high-end users are the ones who buy lenses, so you support the people who’ve bought your legacy lenses and are most likely to buy new ones, while encouraging enthusiasts to ‘upgrade’ to full-frame… regardless of whether that’s the best balance for them.
When I spoke to Claff, he pointed out that “prior to the digital camera era, almost all film cameras that were taken seriously were 35mm or larger.” For stills at least, most smaller format systems were considered “toy” or “bridge” cameras. This attitude carried over into the digital age, and no amount of professional-grade work done with Micro Four Thirds or APS-C system cameras has convinced the masses otherwise.
The financial reasons, once less of a consideration, have become more pressing since the rise of the smartphone means every camera has to prove it’s a “professional-grade” tool that’s worth the hassle of carrying around. As total units shipped goes down, one way to keep revenue stable is to increase the average cost of each unit you ship. Looking at recent CIPA numbers, that’s what we see.
Add in the fact that every company—even behemoths like Sony—have finite resources at their disposal, and it starts to make more sense to use your R&D money on full-frame (or medium format). Butler summed this up well, telling me:
Most camera companies are smaller than you think: they employ a relatively small number of lens designers and have limited budgets. Time spent developing an APS-C lens comes at the cost of being able to develop a full-frame one (which you can sell to APS-C users anyway and convince them they’re being smart, long-term).
At a certain point, under-supporting your mid-tier system can actually help sell your more expensive gear: pitch it as an ‘upgrade path’ and you can get users to buy into the idea that up-selling them (to a format that may not be right for them) is an advantage of your system.
As sensor technology has improved and photographers’ needs have evolved, there’s a good argument to be made that the APS-C format checks more boxes than either full-frame of Micro Four Thirds. This is where I’m more confident stating an opinion than either Butler or Claff.
The Ideal Image Sensor
The “right camera/lens/sensor for the right situation” argument sits somewhere between abundantly reasonable and mild cop out. In some situations, yes: the cons of size and weight will never outweigh the benefits of the largest image sensor possible, or visa versa. But I still believe there is a best sensor for “most people” and that this sensor is not full-frame.
This sensor is APS-C, and when it’s supported properly (see: Fujifilm’s X-Series and Sony’s APS-C E-Mount system) the performance to size to cost ratio falls into a sweet spot that neither Micro Four Thirds nor full-frame can match. Many of the features people are asking for from the next crop of full-frame cameras either already exist or are more easily implemented in an APS-C system. A system that won’t cost much more (if any more) than an equivalent MFT camera and only comes with a 1.5x crop.
Compare the Sony a6400 against the full-frame a7 III. The a6400 costs $1,100 less than the a7 III and weighs over half a pound less. Yet, it features the latest Real Time tracking capabilities, 0.02 second focus acquisition, and 11fps continuous shooting in 14-bit RAW (the a7 III can only do 10fps). And this isn’t even the “flagship” a6500 replacement that’s expected later this month, which may come with 4K/60p recording and other features that people are still waiting on from Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras.
Or take the Fuji X-T3, which is a bit closer in price and weight to the a7 III, selling for only $500 less and weighing only 0.25lbs less. In the video department, the Fuji can already record 4K/60p 4:2:0 10-bit internally; Sony can’t even do that over HDMI. And it, too, shoots at a faster 11fps in 14-bit RAW, can capture up to 30fps electronically with an additional 1.25x crop, and benefits from a large selection of high-quality, compact lenses designed for APS-C.
Neither Butler nor Claff—both more experienced and technically savvy than me—were willing to make this strong of a statement outright, which probably means I’m stretching here. “Each person’s needs are their own, I don’t believe there is a ‘correct’ answer,” said Butler. “Part of the problem is that the ‘only full-frame is a serious format’ message is so ingrained that it might be putting enthusiasts off the idea of buying good lenses for their APS-C camera, which reduces motivation to develop those lenses. It’s a vicious cycle.”
“If I needed to buy a camera tomorrow, I’d buy an APS-C model,” he continued. “Full-frame is capable of more (shallower depth-of-field, better tonal quality, better low-light performance), but that improvement comes at the cost of size and, well, cost. It’s more than I need. I’d also argue that there are some APS-C models that offer a better balance of stills and video shooting.”
Claff also admitted that APS-C offers a better balance for some shooters, but was against the concept of a “sweet spot” as well. “To me, the message is more ‘you don’t need full-frame, this is why,’” he told me over Skype. “It’s a softer message than APS-C as the ‘sweet spot,’ because that all comes down to your definition of sweet spot.”
So maybe the message is softer. Maybe it is just “you don’t need full-frame.” Maybe this entire discussion about the “ideal” image sensor isn’t meant to reach a definitive conclusion, but act as an antidote to the epidemic of sensor smugness and marketing hyperbole that has swept the industry.
I believe, and you can take me to task about it in the comments, that APS-C offers the best balance for the largest number of people. Stills shooters don’t sacrifice much in way of depth-of-field or low-light capability, while gaining speed and a lighter camera; serious video shooters are already used to shooting with Super 35 sensors, so the crop isn’t a big deal, and they’re getting a B-camera that doesn’t have to sacrifice nearly as much performance to even smaller formats like MFT.
Others will argue passionately that Micro Four Thirds is even better—that any light gathering performance loss is minuscule and more than made up for by speed, size, weight and cost. I disagree, mainly because the 2x crop eliminates a lot of options, and you don’t actually save that much money over comparable APS-C systems.
The one thing that Claff, Butler and I all seemed to agree upon, though, is that chest-thumping about the superiority of your expensive full-frame or medium format camera is less-than-useless. It wastes your breath and encourages others to waste their money; worse yet, it removes any remaining pressure on companies to innovate in the smaller formats, encouraging them to spend all of their development dollars on full-frame and beyond. When was the last time you saw a breakthrough in MFT sensor technology, or got really excited about a new APS-C format lens from one of the big three?
“Ultimately, this is a drum I’ve been banging for some time,” Butler told me. “More choice of well-supported formats is good for everyone.” [emphasis added]
I agree emphatically. And while my opinion on the “ideal” image sensor is certainly debatable, the above statement is not.
Editor’s Note: A huge thank you to Richard Butler and Bill Claff for being willing to share their thoughts on this subject, and for setting me straight when I [more than] occasionally had something completely wrong. Their insight was greatly appreciated.
Tarantino describes his final film as “epilogue-y.” What could that possibly mean?
It’s fun to think about movie directors traveling the world for inspiration, but generally, they do so to promote their latest work. For Tarantino, that meant heading to Moscow for some press for the first time since 2004. He was met by legions of fans and critics excited for his latest film.
But even cooler than that, he gave some hints about what he plans to do next.
James Cameron movie rankings are bold and probably misguided. But we’re doing one anyway!
Who knows when we’ll see the next Avatar movies, and after that, you have to wonder when we’ll get another James Cameron original movie. So, if you need your fix of spectacle, humor, and heart, you have to sift back through the Cameron catalog to see what he has to offer.
But what’s James Cameron’s best movie? Is it on land, in space, or under the sea? James Cameron is a precious filmmaker who creates stunning portraits of art that also seek to entertain the masses. So let’s rank his movies like the heathens we are and talk about why each of them matters.
Come with me if you want to live…vicariously through this master filmmaker’s career.
Also: I left the docs off the list. They are both excellent and I have no idea where they’d land. but check them out if you have time.
Software company Corel has taken the wraps off PaintShop Pro 2020 and PaintShop Pro 2020 Ultimate, the newest version of its image editing application. The updated software brings a new Photography Workspace interface designed for photographers who need to make ‘quick edits,’ as well as new tools, performance enhancements and what Corel calls a ‘streamlined workflow.’
PaintShop Pro 2020’s new Photography Workspace is a touch-ready interface with support for 4K Ultra HD displays. Users get ‘simplified’ access to what Corel considers essential tools used by photographers to make quick image edits. Joining this new interface is an overall streamlined workflow, according to Corel, that includes various features and performance improvements that expedite getting work done.
In addition to the new interface, PaintShop Pro 2020 brings a new Smart Clone content-aware cloning tool and Refine Brush for selecting objects with ‘extreme accuracy and precision.’ As well, existing tools like Pic-to-Painting are faster than before due to performance enhancements, according to the company. The updated software also brings support for the newest graphics tablets, styluses and new raw camera formats.
PaintShop Pro 2020 on its own is available from Corel for $79.99 USD. The Ultimate version includes PaintShop Pro 2020 bundled with other software, including Painter Essentials, Parallels Toolbox, and more, plus a collection of backgrounds, brushes and textures for $99.99 USD.
James Cameron’s most underrated movie turns 30 today, and it’s just as great — flaws and all — as you remember.
“Life’s abyss and then you die.”
What the crew of The Abyss’ shirt’s said with a sense of irony isn’t far from the reality of the infamous James Cameron production, which figuratively (and, for some, literally) drove members of the cast and crew insane. Given the subject matter and the fact that it was coming from taskmasker writer-director James Cameron, the pressures of a story set deep underwater — on the edge of extraterrestrial discovery — getting the better of those charged with executing it is par for the course.
Just recently, an amazing thing happened to me. Not one, not two, but three different clients within a two-week period requested that we shoot their project in 4K RAW. Big deal you say? It actually is a big deal and in this blog, I’m going to focus on why this represents an actual global mind shift, at least for our clients. Frankly, compared to the feedback we were getting before this on what formats our clients wanted us to shoot, the whole thing has left me feeling like I’m living in a parallel universe. It’s like that Seinfeld episode where Elaine meets three doppelgangers for Jerry, George and Kramer who are the same yet completely different in attitude and actions (if you can’t tell, I’m a Seinfeld fan and go through life assuming that most other people in Western Civilization have also watched the show, weird, huh?) In the episode, Jerry tells Elaine about the existence of a Bizarro world where everything is the opposite of the reality that you know.
A Change of Attitude
For years, I’ve been trying to convince our clients of the value in shooting their projects in RAW. When I shoot still photography, I have been shooting RAW files for as long as I could remember but for video, shooting RAW, until fairly recently, was an expensive endeavor in both budget and time. It’s still is to a point, but the bar has been rapidly falling as media costs, storage costs and computers and editing software become more and more common. Our clients mostly have clients who are the studios in the PR/Marketing and Home Entertainment departments and even today, most of these clients are very conservative as far as preferring 1080 over 4K or anything greater resolution. We typically shoot a bunch of long interviews for these clients’ projects. A good portion of this footage is shot green screen, so I’ve been trying to get our clients to move to shoot RAW, especially for when we shoot green screen.
Which of these two formats that our camera shoots do you think would be better for shooting great green screen footage?
XF-AVC – UHD (3840×2160) 8-bit 4:2:0 shot at 160 Mbps.
Cinema RAW Light – DCI (4096×2160) 12-bit 4:2:2 shot at 1 Gbps.
As an editor who occasionally composites, the 12-bit footage would allow for pulling much cleaner and smoother composites without a doubt.
The Cost Is Considerable
There’s a considerable cost to shoot RAW footage though. That cost can be broken down into two categories, media and editing/archival storage cost and time.
To give you an idea of the media costs that it takes to shoot RAW, of course, it varies with the camera. On the high end, cameras like the Panasonic Varicam 35, the Canon C700FF, the RED lineup and the Arri lineup are all capable of shooting RAW 4K and in some cases, up to 8K.
As an example, if you use the Canon C700FF, the add-on Codex RAW recorder costs you about $7,000. Plus, you need to add on another $7,000 per 2 TB storage drive. And don’t forget another $5,700 for the Codex drive reader. All in, you’ll pay an additional $20k-plus to shoot RAW on that camera. If we go down the line to the C700FF’s little brother, the C200, the economics to shoot RAW change considerably. The C200 shoots a fixed 5:1 compression ratio Cinema RAW Light format to CFast 2.0 cards. In the beginning, a little over a year and a half ago, these cards were pretty expensive, but since then, because there are now so many other cameras that can shoot the same cards, economies of scale have kicked in and you can buy a 256 GB CFast 2.0 card for as little as $149.
If I can buy a 256 Gb for $149, how long of a recording will that card hold? With it’s fixed data rate of 1 Gbps, the C200 will record 34 minutes of DCI 4K to the 256 GB card. A 256 GB SD card for the C200 won’t record 4K RAW, but it will let you record 4K (UHD) XF-AVC at 160 Mbps, but that recording will be 8-bit, not 12-bit and will not work very well for green screen compositing. The XF-AVC recording is 6.2X smaller than the CFast 2.0 recording though.
Time Isn’t On Your Side
One other thing you should consider is the time it takes to download and clone these RAW files. To shoot 34 minutes of XF-AVC, I can download the footage to a drive in about 3 to 4 minutes whereas 34 minutes of the Cinema RAW Light footage takes between 24 and 28 minutes on average. You can see how, if you’re shooting hours of long interviews in RAW, it’s easy to fall behind and possibly run out of cards to shoot to. This has been the other major factor that has, until recently, soured our clients on letting us shoot at least some of their projects in RAW.
A Change of Heart
I attribute a few factors to our clients’ recent change of heart about letting us shoot at least some of their projects in RAW. The first being that storage drive costs have continued to fall. We recommend the Seagate Backup Plus Hub 8 TB drives that have been available at Costco for as little as $129 on sale, less than $18 per GB, which is quite incredible. The drives are name brand, as reliable as anything else on the market and while not fast enough to serve as a good editing drives, they are an excellent value for storage drives to hold client footage. We always insist on a minimum of a double backup for all footage and highly recommend triple backups for crucial projects, with at least one set of media being stored at an alternate location from the main drive(s). The cost of storing RAW is now pretty minimal for clients.
The other big factor has been simply picture quality. We make sure to light green screen properly, but even with perfect lighting, pulling clean composites can be challenging with blonde hair, hair that’s thinning with the green screen shining through it, the view through lenses of glasses and other challenges like this. Having 12-bit 4K makes compositing much less of a problem-solving exercise as the 12-bit, when properly exposed, gives you an incredibly robust signal to work with. Clients have seen the value in better-quality footage and now seem to be willing to spend the extra time for us to shoot RAW, download it to their media and for the extra time it takes their assistant editors to convert the media to proxy for off-line editing.
As a cinematographer, shooting the best quality format and resolution makes me happy because it gives clients the most options to do what they need to with the footage. Shooting RAW makes clients happy because it results in fewer headaches with quality, being able to adjust white balance after the shoot and they can archive essentially what becomes a digital negative, just like we used to do with physical negatives in the days of shooting film. Shooting RAW isn’t the ultimate panacea for all problems, and it’s not right for every workflow, but it’s definitely worth considering if you’re trying to differentiate your work and the value you can add to clients, studios and distributors.
This 8mm equivalent fisheye lens’ party trick is the fact that it can actually see behind itself thanks to a whopping 210° field of view. That means you can make a full 360° panorama using only 2 photographs, and thanks to the 8cm (~3.15-inch) minimum focusing distance, you can create some pretty fun animal images, too.
The lens achieves all of this using an optical construction of 7 elements in 6 groups that promise “outstanding sharpness throughout the frame” whether you keep the circular look or “de-fish” the lens in post.
If distortion bugs you and you prefer the Laowa Zero-D lenses, this one is most certainly not for you. On the other hand, using this lens on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, Venus Optics was able to capture footage that looks like this:
And here are a whole bunch of sample images captured by various Venus Optics ambassadors using the new 4mm Micro Four Thirds lens:
Finally, the lens can also be mounted on the DJI Inspire X5 to capture some really cool aerial shots like these: