ARRI ALEXA Mini LF is shipping now. It is thoughtfully designed and meticulously built. Usually the measure of a camera’s goodness is to count how many petty peeves you wrote down to send to the engineers. The fewer the better. This time, the page was blank. It’s my favorite ARRI camera since the Arriflex 235. read more…
Similar to how no two fingerprints are identical, no two camera shutter sounds are exactly the same. As a fun little project, photographer and YouTuber Scott Graham has captured the shutter sound of 37 different camera models to show off the diversity of shutter sounds and to memorialize a number of cameras he’s selling.
In the video, which comes in just shy of four minutes, Graham succinctly captures the unique shutter sounds of all 37 cameras, ranging from analog SLR cameras to digital Fujifilm cameras. Each shutter sound was captured as close to 1/60th of a second as possible for consistency’s sake.
Graham didn’t elaborate on whether or not he will continue to do this with future cameras he acquires, but we think it’d be incredible to build an archive of shutter sounds from various cameras. What camera has the most pleasing sound to your ears, both from Graham’s collection and your own?
With the seventh and final season of production finished, the Agents of Shield softball team, an assortment of grip, camera, sound, cast and production crew, is focusing on their last season to play in the Prime Time Softball League (PTSL). The team has made the playoffs every year it has participated, and has competed in […]
Created in collaboration with Stefan Kohler (the founder of RAWexchange International) and Conny Wallstrom, the Infinite Texture Panel uses AI to sort through a massive trove of textures organized into four major categories: Lights, Overlays, Particles, and Elements.
Everything is accessed through a minimalist and elegant interface that invites you to explore all kinds of texture styles.
The AI.MATCH feature can also intelligent find suitable textures for you in three ways.
First, you can simply scribble a rough idea of what you’re looking for and it’ll find matching textures:
Second, you can show the panel a texture you found that you don’t have permission to use, and it’ll find a similar texture that you can commercially use.
Finally, when you’ve already found a texture in the system that you like, AI.MATCH can find other textures that are similar to it. And the “intelligent randomness” of suggestions can be tweaked using the slider.
Here’s a 13-minute video in which Naik gives a walkthrough of how the panel works (note: there are some sample photos that may not be safe for work):
The textures library behind the panel — currently estimated to be worth roughly $10,000 — will grow over time based on user demand, so you’ll continually have access to a wider range of imagery to meet your needs.
When the first Gnarbox came out it really hit a nerve among both photographers and video shooters, basically anyone who felt the need to either be able to create lots of footage without carrying the bulky laptop – HDD combo around with them, or who needed a fast , easy and small additional backup solution, light enough to be carried on one’s person. So the headlining features of the Gnarbox were a rugged compact build, the necessary built-in battery, easy import from a built-in SD card reader and a smartphone app, that helps you view your footage from the device (please refer to our review for more information). The value proposition of the Gnarbox was so enticing because at the time of its original Kickstarter campaign there were no comparable devices around, really nothing that could offer similar features, especially not at an affordable price point.
Since the original Gnarbox came out however this situation has somewhat changed, there now are numerous competitors with similar feature profiles and at quite affordable prices. So are the new features and improvements of the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD enough to keep it head and shoulders above the competition?
A New and More Modern Gnarbox
The Gnarbox 2.0 SSD implements quite a few changes. First and foremost, the spinning disk drive has been replaced with an SSD for higher speed and greater durability. In addition to that the battery isn’t built-in anymore, but replaceable and you can purchase additional batteries from Gnarbox – thus extending your off-the-grid-time significantly if need be. The new chassis also features two USB-C ports, a mini-HDMI port, and an SD card reader. You can charge the new Gnarbox 2.0 SSD via one of the USB-C ports, or you can purchase a dual battery charger, as well as a host of USB-C adapters, dongles, and card readers, allowing you to ingest from SD UHS-II cards, XQD-cards , CFast 2.0 and CF cards. The device is dust-resistant and shockproof up to 1m as well as IP67 rated for water resistance (meaning you can submerge the device for up to 30 min in depths of between 1 ft. to 3 ft. / 0.3m – 1m). To achieve this the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD’s chassis is made from aluminum and coated with rubber, with a sealed flap hiding the ports. The Gnarbox 2.0 SSD also sports a small display and four buttons to navigate its functions and trigger backups.
On the Inside
The Gnarbox 2.0 SSD’s most interesting updates, however, are found on the inside. The device is powered by a powerful Intel Quad-core 2.4 GHz CPU, with an onboard Intel HD Graphics chipset and 4GB RAM. The connection to your smartphone or tablet will be supported by 802.11 ac WiFi with up to 867mbps and you can choose among fast NVMe SSDs with up to 1TB. Even more importantly there now isn’t just one app to support the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD’s more advanced functions any more, but Gnarbox has taken the ambitious route of partnering with other app developers in creating a whole ecosystem around the device, with each application doing what it does best and extending the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD’s feature set tremendously.
First of all, there are the integrations into already existing and hugely popular ecosystems: Gnarbox 2.0 SSD now supports integration with iOS Files, Lightroom CC, Affinity Photo and LumaFusion, thus allowing you to either directly edit videos from the device, or to transfer them to your iOS device and subject them to your own multi-step workflows from there.
Even more interestingly there is now a suite of four applications allowing for more specialized, lets call them preparatory workflows around your footage: Selects, powered by Photo Mechanic’s blazingly fast RAW engine will allow photographers to cull, rate and IPTC-tag their images almost as fast and easy as the Desktop version, while Sequences will allow video editors to set in and out points and create bins for their footage, which can then be exported to Final Cut or Premiere Pro XMLs in a fashion similar to what applications like Kyno do. Safekeep, on the other hand, is Gnarbox 2.0 SSD’s file management application, which will allow you to copy, move and organise files to network or physically attached storage, Dropbox or the device itself. Showcase will take advantage of the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD’s built-in micro HDMI port, allowing you to easily attach the device to a TV or projector via HDMI showing off footage to a team in a meeting situation or something similar.
Here’s an overview of the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD’s most important features:
Intel® Quad Core, 2.40GHZ CPU
Intel® HD Graphics GPU
802.11 ac WiFi
NVMe SSD up to 1TB
SD Transfer: Up to 75MB/s
USB-C Transfer: Up to 350MB/s
USB-C (x2), SD, and Micro HDMI ports
3-6 hours of continuous use
Water and Dust Resistant
6” x 3” x 1.16”
Video Codec Support: H.264, H.265, ProRes,
Image Support: RAW, TIFF, JPG, PNG
UDF File System Support
Available accessories/readers: SD-UHS II, CF, CFast 2.0 and XQD readers, USB-C to A dongle, dual fast charging battery charger and additional batteries
Support for Lightroom CC, Affinity Photo, Lumafusion and iOS Files
App ecosystem: Selects (photo culling and rating), Sequences (footage review, in and outs, bin organisation, XML-export), Safekeep (file management), Showcase (HDMI-playback of footage)
Just before its global release, the Gnarbox is also getting another bump in functionality with a firmware update that adds the following functionality:
Multi-Destination-Copy: Similar to what dedicated tools like Hedge can do, you will also be able to use your Gnarbox to simultaneously back up to the Gnarbox and a drive attached via USB-C, which of course allows for multiple copies to be handed to more than one person for safekeeping, or different parts of a post-workflow
Enables single-item saving to iOS Camera Roll
Expanded support for video formats and better performance (MXF, MTS, H.265 10bit, files with more than 2 audio channels, 4:4:4 ProRes, etc.)
Bugs fixed: iOS 13 Files app support, .jpeg extension problem fixed, list view stability improved, folder by file extension bug fixed
Pricing, Availability and the Competition
Frankly, at its price, the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD doesn’t seem to currently have competition that is able to match the feature set this device sports. This isn’t a review, so let’s try and remember that a compelling feature set can quickly fall down and become a lot less compelling with small hiccups, especially on this kind of device. I found this out the hard way, trying to use a WD MyPassport Wireless, a device not dissimilar to the original Gnarbox for backup during a photography trip. To make a long story short: after finding out the spinning disk drive in that device in combination with the slow SD card reader built into it took up to 1,5 hours to back up a single SD card full of photos, I resorted to buying additional cards and cursing the device under my breath.
Similar criticisms have been uttered against the first Gnarbox, and even the new Gnarbox 2.0 SSD has a rather slow 75MB/s SD card reader built-in, at a time where most modern cameras support UHS II cards capable of far greater speeds. To achieve those speeds on the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD you have the option of buying the UHS-II reader separately, however, why this wasn’t handled internally is beyond me as UHS-II readers are fully backward compatible.
Western Digital MyPassport series, even with its new version that has an SSD drive built-in, suffers from the same flaw. One device that was a joy to use for me personally was the Nexto-DI NPS10, which we used for additional backup while shooting our IBC 2019 coverage. That device features a build that is comparably rugged and allows you to choose your own SSD to build in, as well as already having a UHS-II SD card reader built-in. It comes in different versions with different reader options, and just like the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD features a few intelligent features, like incremental imports – it will not import the same footage twice, but just update newly added clips/photos. However what the NPS10 cannot match is the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD’s ecosystem with replaceable batteries, additional readers and above all: app ecosystem and deep integration into the best currently available software for mobile editing of images and video. At IBC 2019 LaCie, long-time maker of rugged hard drives, have also introduced their own BOSS series. While these seem to do a rather good job, they also cannot match the Gnarbox’s feature set, ecosystem or level of integration.
The Gnarbox 2.0 SSD is available now globally, at $499.00 for the 256GB version, $599.00 for 512GB and $899.00 for the 1TB version. We will keep you posted with new information and developments.
Are you excited about the new Gnarbox 2.0 SSD? Is this an option for your workflow and are you interested in using the new apps and integrations? Let us know in the comments!
One of the great things about our jobs as photographers is that we get asked to do so many diverse things. To me, new and different assignments keep me fresh. Sometimes we get asked to do things that push our limits or are even beyond the bounds of anything we have done before. This is the story about how I approached a recent project that pushed me to the limit, and how I was able to tackle it and win.
I never want to tell a client “no” when they approach me with a project. It’s always, “Oh, sure I can.” Then I go figure out how to do it!
My day job is shooting homes for sale for the MLS. This led to commercial property… which led to architectural photography and other commercial photography. But I still do MLS, because in a market like mine, you have to do everything. As I said, when someone asks for something new, my new job is to figure out how and (hopefully) become a better and more versatile photographer in the process.
Any property photographer has faced a realtor asking for a headshot. In my previous life as a news photog, I have shot a lot of heads, too. Shooting heads has, over time, even become something I have gotten good at, and have fun with. When a good client asked me recently to shoot over 100 heads, I knew I could do it; I just was not sure how.
My first step was to find out what the client expectations are. I asked and they showed me existing images they wanted copied. From the samples, it was pretty easy to figure out the previous lighting setups. One of their existing photographers in another city told me what background they used, so I just picked that up on Amazon and I was good to go.
Next, I set up a test set up in my home and played with my lights until I could duplicate the company’s existing style. I just shot myself and turned around my computer monitor for feedback. The basic look was fairly flat lighting with no real shadows. I decided to go with a large octo above and reflector below, essentially a clamshell setup.
To aid getting people in and out, I set the reflector to one side to create a path in for the people on the other. The backlight would be opposite the key, with the reflector filling the in-between and beneath the chin. It was not too hard to work out the final lighting, but it sure helped me mentally to know I had a firm plan on where to go and what to do to get what I was aiming for.
On a normal day, I can shoot a full day with one set of batteries. I felt that if I could keep the power down — say, between 1/4 and 1/8 — on the flash, I should be okay for a full day shoot. As it turned out, that estimate turned out to be vastly over-optimistic. Because I just did not know, I took chargers for all my flash batteries and cameras.
The night before, I went over everything in my truck. One of everything becomes none if anything breaks, so I always keep at least one more of everything I need, just in case. I always have two tripods, two of every flash, everything. Even still, I was nervous all night and sleep poorly. Had I covered everything?
The next morning, I went through the truck again. Once everything was set, I picked up my assistant and headed to the shoot. We arrived 30 minutes in advance and started setting up. The company liaison was there, and my assistant compared her list to the final shoot list. The first person showed up 10 minutes early and I did my final light setup on him.
This is not a fashion shoot. Shooting the employees at f/1.2 was not in the cards. Based on my tests and what I know about the lens I used, I wanted at least f/7.1 for a decent depth of field with a max at f/11. Because I knew I would be shooting a lot, I wanted to keep the strain on my flashes down, so I decided to shoot with power settings of 1/4 to 1/8 power. In my tests on-site, I could hit these numbers with an ISO of 200, which is fine on a Nikon D810…
In practice, these numbers worked really well and proved to be realistic. I got super fine detail and full, crisp images.
Minor adjustments needed to be made for a few tall individuals, or for people with glasses. About the only adjustment I consistently had to make to the lighting during the shoot was the backlight. I like a kiss of light but did not want it EVER to blow out, be too strong, or loose definition. I found myself varying it from as high as 1/2 for very dark-toned or dark-haired people to 1/8 for very fair people. YMMV, of course, but that was where I saw me changing things up.
We allocated 5 minutes per person, and we never went over.
Because I had planned ahead, things went by and large well. That is not to say there weren’t problems — there were. But we could handle them and deal with them quickly and with no interruptions to the workflow, rather than look like incompetent newbies on their first shoot. Here are some of my takeaways:
My first problem was running through batteries much quicker than anticipated. What saved my bacon was two things. One was knowing batteries could be a problem, so I had all my chargers on hand. The other was having back-ups of everything, so I always had a back-up battery on charge.
Having an assistant was great. I could focus on photography while she took care of names and photo numbers and syncing that all up.
I bought a soccer-mon cart at Costco a few months ago, and I find that invaluable any more for big shoots. For this shoot, it would have been impossible. Get a cart!
Planning is all good, but things will always go sideways — be ready to call an audible. Have options and use them. Do not be tied so hard to any one idea or concept that you can’t change. And listen to everyone around you.
It’s okay to be nervous, it just makes you better. But be realistic in your self-assessments. If you can shoot good headshots, you can probably shoot 100 of them with good planning. But just because you once shot a good headshot doesn’t mean anything.
If you are asked to step out of your comfort zone, plan Plan PLAN! You may know how to do a room or shoot a portrait, but it WILL be different when you shoot 20, 50, or 138 in one fell swoop! And shooting MLS is not the same as for AirBnB or a corporate client. You have to learn the difference.
Watch videos, network and ask your friends questions. Look at what others in the field have shot, and use your brain to figure out how they did it. Then put it into practice. Set up similar shoots and see what you can do. It’s up to you to learn, and if you don’t, you won’t be called back.
If you want to have a long session watching movies in the Oculus Quest, now you can. The two hour limitation is gone, thanks to the new VRNRGY Power Pack, which gives you plenty of power.
The Oculus Quest VR headset review published at PVC recently pointed to the battery as a potential limitation when using the headset for long periods of time. I wrote, then, that “I both love and hate the Quest: it’s great to watch a variety of content that interests me, but it’s terrible that the battery does not last long. Expect two to three hours of battery life, depending on what you’re watching, before you need to stop.” The problem is that the battery can not be exchanged, and you need to wait for it to recharge before you can continue. Apparently, that ends now, thanks to VRNRGY, that announced the VRNRGY Power Pack.
The Oculus Quest will soon offer the option to connect directly to a PC, through a USB 3.1 cable that will also provide the energy, but when you want to use the headset without being tethered, the battery may not be able to keep with your plans. The solution is the VRNRGY Power Pack, that triples game time or video streaming. According to the company, for video streaming you can get up to eight hours of power, so sit back and relax, because you have plenty of power to finish a few movies and grab some popcorn. Which can be virtual, if you’re using Bigscreen.
Power pack adds to comfort
The company says that you can have up to 8 hours if you start with a fully charged Oculus Quest. Also according to VRNRGY, the headset will drain most of its power from the Power Pack, tripling the available battery capacity. This does suggest that when you need to recharge the Power Pack, the Quest will still have enough battery to keep working for a while, in case you need it. Eight hours, though, will be more than enough for most people.
Powered by Samsung Li-Ion, the Power Pack includes 7,000 mAh of performance power that does not overheat, as well as custom cables for charging the power bank and your Quest. The power pack is placed on the back of the Quest, and works as counter-balance, with improved weight distribution that releases pressure off the face so you can feel centered in any position. VRNRGY says that the power pack is comfortably but firmly held in place by a breathable neoprene strap custom-made for the Quest.
The accessory, which costs $34.99, is a welcome addition to the Oculus Quest, as it offers a solution that is both accessible and expands the time the VR headset can be used, when not tethered to a PC. VRNRGY also offers a Protective Cover for Oculus Quest, priced at $19.99, to protect it from damage while using and transporting. Made from high quality neoprene so your Quest will not overheat, the cover does not interfere with camera functionality and tracking.
DJI released new firmware update for their gimbals DJI Ronin-S and Ronin-SC. These updates can be downloaded now for free from DJI update websites (links are below). They add new features, improve existing ones (like the 3D Roll 360), and fix some minor bugs. Perhaps the most exciting new update is that the Ronin-S now supports both ActiveTrack 3.0 and Force Mobile features. Both gimbals also now support Force Mobile on Android phones.
DJI released firmware update for Ronin-S and Ronin-SC
When DJI released their compact gimbal Ronin-SC, a smaller brother of the Ronin-S, it introduced two new smart features called ActiveTrack 3.0 and Force mobile. They utilise smartphone with DJI app to control the gimbal and keep desired objects in the picture. Many users were requesting this feature to come to the larger Ronin-S as well. It seems DJI has listened as they released new firmware update which, among other improvements, brings these features. For more information about the Ronin-S please check Nino’s ultimate review, if you haven’t already.
DJI Ronin-S Firmware Update V188.8.131.52
The new firmware V184.108.40.206 for DJI Ronin-S was released on the 26th September. Here is the full list of improvements and new features:
Added ActiveTrack 3.0 (requires Ronin app v1.2.4 or later). ActiveTrack 3.0 can make the Ronin S accurately follow selected subject using a mobile device. The new algorithms include deep learning and optimized calculations for human figures. Similar to the technology found in some DJI drones and the Osmo Series, ActiveTrack 3.0 uses the mobile phone’s camera view and sends this information to the Ronin-SC. Users can mount the mobile phone to the top of the camera’s hotshoe with the included phone holder mount, open the Ronin app and select the subject to follow automatically.
Ronin-SC Gimbal – Active Track Feature. Source: DJI
Added Force Mobile (requires Ronin app v1.2.4 or later). Force Mobile (similar to Force Pro) synchronizes the movement of the connected mobile device with the Ronin-S gimbal. This works at a max distance of 82 feet (24.9 m – tested in an open unobstructed environment) using the new Bluetooth 5.0 connection.
Ronin-SC Gimbal – Force Mobile feature. Source: DJI
Added quick switch to 3D Roll 360 mode. (Press M button three times to enter, and press three times again to exit.)
Added Auto 3D Roll 360. (When the gimbal is in 3D Roll 360 mode, push the joystick left or right twice to enable Auto 3D Roll 360. The gimbal rotates continuously without needing to hold the joystick. Press the trigger twice to stop Auto 3D Roll 360.)
Added video recording, autofocus, and focus pull support for Sony a7R IV cameras with supported E-mount lenses using a Multi-Camera Control Cable (MCC-C). To use autofocus on the A7R4, press halfway down on the camera control button of the gimbal.
Added photo capture, video recording, zoom, and focus pull support for Sony a7R IV cameras using a Multi-Camera Control Cable (Multi USB).
Optimized 3D Roll 360.
Added Track mode settings for Command Unit.
Optimized follow experience in Flashlight mode.
Optimized the Profile LED display by changing the pulsing frequency when gimbal in sleep mode, and the LED will become red to indicate low battery warning when battery level is less than 20%.
Sleep mode can be enabled by pressing once or twice of the gimbal power button.
Optimized zoom adjustment when using Sony cameras’ multi-port with Power Zoom lens, The zoom speed can be set from 1 to 100 (requires DJI Ronin v1.2.4 app or later).
Fixed other minor bugs.
DJI Ronin-SC Firmware Update V220.127.116.11
DJI’s smaller gimbal Ronin-SC also received a new firmware update. It brings support for the new Sony a7R IV camera, FUJIFILM cameras, Force mobile for Android phones, and other improvements. Full list of new features is here:
Added video recording, autofocus, and focus pull support for Sony a7R IV cameras with supported E-mount lenses using a Multi-Camera Control Cable (Type-C). To use autofocus on the a7R IV, press halfway down on the camera control button of the gimbal.
Added photo capture, video recording, zoom, and focus pull support for Sony a7R IV cameras using a Multi-Camera Control Cable (Multi USB). To use autofocus on the a7R IV, press halfway down on the camera control button of the gimbal.
Added photo capture, video recording, and autofocus for FUJIFILM X-H1, X-T2, X-T3, X-T20, X-T30, X-E3 cameras using a FUJIFILM camera control cable (RSS-F).
Added a quick switching function to Portrait mode. Press M button twice to enter/exit Portrait mode. Portrait mode requires using Ronin-SC in Flashlight mode and the joystick control is not available. Portrait mode can be disabled on the Ronin app Status page (requires Ronin app v1.2.4 or later). Note that the tilt axis will rotate 90° when switched to Portrait mode. Make sure the camera will not collide with the gimbal.
Added Force Mobile when using with the Android version of the Ronin app (requires Ronin app v1.2.4 or later).
Added disable 3D Roll 360 feature in the Ronin app (requires Ronin app v1.2.4 or later).
Fixed issue where the roll axis occasionally drifts after exiting sleep mode.
Optimized zoom adjustment when using a Sony camera’s multi-port with a power zoom lens. The zoom speed can be set from 1 to 100 (requires DJI Ronin v1.2.4 app or later).
Ronin-SC Gimbal is compatible with various accessories. Source: DJI
Active Track 3.0 and Force Mobile Support
It is worth noting, that not every smartphone can be used for the new Fore Mobile and ActiveTrack 3.0 features. Below are current lists of supported phones for both features. DJI says these lists are being updated as more mobile phones are tested and verified.
DJI made a Youtube videos to guide users through the updating process specific for each gimbal. Here is the manual for the Ronin-S:
Make sure that the DJI Ronin App is the latest version when updating the firmware.
Make sure Ronin-S is powered off and update the firmware through the DJI Pro Assistant for Ronin by connecting the USB-C port on Ronin-S to your computer. Do not disconnect the gimbal from the computer while updating.
After the update is complete, unplug the USB-C cable from Ronin-S and proceed to power on the gimbal.
If Ronin-S has a camera attached and is turned on while updating the firmware, make sure to protect the camera and lens as the motors will shut off during the update.
If the firmware update fails, restart the Ronin-S and retry.
Here is the second video and manual for the Ronin-SC:
Update the firmware through the DJI Ronin app. Make sure that the DJI Ronin app is the latest version when updating the firmware.
If Ronin-SC has a camera attached and is turned on while updating the firmware, make sure to protect the camera and lens, as the motors will shut off during the update.
If the firmware update fails, restart Ronin-SC and retry.
What do you think of the new firmware for DJI Ronin-S and Ronin-SC? Do you use DJI products? Are you satisfied with them? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.
Live Planet VR camera and live-streaming platform $3,495 | liveplanet.net
Live Planet VR bills itself as “the only end-to-end VR system,” and technically, since it includes a camera system as well as a cloud publishing suite that’s capable of delivering to just about every major VR headset and outlet currently available (including live-streaming high-resolution stereoscopic 360 video over mobile networks) they may be right.
Live Planet has a lot of things going for it, especially when it comes to the algorithm and software solutions side of things. Their live-streaming and real-time stitching execution is impressive, and I can also see many cases where their cloud publishing platform could be a godsend, which we’ll get to below.
In fact, whether or not Live Planet VR is right for you is highly dependent on how you plan to use it, as Live Planet is targeting a very specific user – mostly those looking to live-stream.
But we’ll start with the key features and the design.
16-lens stereoscopic VR 6K camera
DCI 4K/30p (4096×2160) resolution for live streaming
6K/24p (6144×3328) for post-production stitching
In-camera real-time stitching
Records to a single microSD card
VR headset live preview
Robust cloud publishing solution to all major VR platforms
Delivers high quality VR over LTE networks
The camera itself is quite nice. It’s a hefty, well-crafted chunk of heavy polymer and machined metal about the size of an extra large coffee mug. It has sixteen Sunex DSL218 F2.0 lenses and 1/2.8” Sony IMX 326 sensors, and is flanked on top and bottom by generous ventilation grills.
The bottom of the unit has inputs for USB stereo, audio-in, ethernet, 12V DC 5A power, microSD slot, TOSLINK (optical audio), and HDMI out, as well as a standard 1/4”-20 thread for mounting to any standard tripod plate or system.
The LivePlanet camera may look like something out of a science fiction movie, but it’s a robust camera with sixteen F2.0 lenses.
The camera records to a single microSD card in a compressed .mp4 format. It also offers an HDMI out for YUV 4:2:0 capture so you can transmit the signal in both stereo or mono to a switcher or for a traditional broadcasting workflow. For standard recording, it captures at 50 Mbps, and for live-streaming it can capture at 15, 30, 45, or 60Mbps.
This all weighs in at around 700g (1.5 lb) and comes packaged in a Pelican case with custom foam cutouts.
I had no qualms about the aesthetic and physical design of the camera, but there are a few key points to take into account as you consider whether this system is right for you, which brings me to…
As with most VR cameras, much of the magic happens on the software side. In the case of the Live Planet system, most of that magic is related to live streaming. If you’re looking for a rig to showcase and/or live-stream produced events, such as sports, concerts or conferences, and expect to do little to no post-processing, the Live Planet VR system is certainly one to take a look at, for this is where Live Planet VR truly shines.
Live Planet is targeting a very specific user, mostly those looking to live-stream.
However, if you’re looking for a fairly portable system that you can quickly grab and go to capture high-resolution, high-quality 360 footage, you should probably be aware of a few things:
There are no internal microphones. You need to connect a third party microphone, such as the Zoom H2N or Zoom H3-VR, if you plan to capture audio, as well as a second tripod or clamp to attach it to the tripod and keep it out of view below the camera. Live Planet does support direct-to-soundboard input so audio is attached to your video files.
The camera’s ethernet plug provides a reliable connection for live streaming content.
You can’t preview recorded clips in the field. In order to preview what you’ve recorded the app provides screenshots, but you can’t see recorded video files until you offload footage onto your laptop or computer. Live Planet says that this is a feature on their roadmap.
The camera only records in compressed .mp4 format. While most cameras at this price point offer several recording options, those interested in color grading and refining stitches may want to look elsewhere as the Live Planet VR camera does not currently record Log or Raw footage, nor does it allow you access to full resolution un-stitched camera files for fine-tuning using tools like Mistika VR or Nuke. Live Planet tells me they have features in beta for Raw capture and a Premiere Pro plugin, however it doesn’t seem that access to individual camera files is yet on the roadmap.
The Live Planet VR camera requires some accessories, like an off camera battery and audio recorder, so it’s not the best camera for quick projects. But for live-streaming events it’s a very powerful solution.
There’s no internal gyroscope or stabilization solution. While this wouldn’t be as much of an issue if individual camera files could be accessed to post-process using third party software, moving shots are virtually impossible with the Live Planet VR system without a gimbal or rover with stabilization.
These may seem like some serious limitations, and for certain uses they are. However, when you consider that the system is optimized to live-stream VR content, features like previewing recorded clips or the specific recording format used are probably less critical.
Software and apps
First, the basics.
The mobile app, as well as the web app from your computer or laptop, are very simple to use. For image control it offers the essentials: exposure (including auto-exposure), shadows, saturation, temperature (including auto-white balance), tint, and curves.
Additionally, you can choose between monoscopic and stereoscopic, quality of live-stream, choice of audio stream (with optional microphone attached), and field of view (currently 360 or 180, with plans on future updates to choose anywhere between 0 and 360 degrees). Finally, you get the option of recording or live-streaming, as well as a button to turn on and off the camera unit.
The Live Planet mobile app is easy to use and offers a lot of control.
Now, the magic.
First, by taking full advantage of an NVIDIA Jetson TX2 Module (with AI computing), the unit live-stitches 4K footage in real-time, and the algorithm does a fantastic job doing so. I was as close as a half meter (1.5 ft.) away, and stitch-lines are hardly noticeable as you can see in the video below
There is an impressively noticeable lack of optical flow Jello-effect, often seen with other software stitching systems at such close distances. It really wasn’t until I was about 30cm (1 ft.) away that I even noticed any stitch lines. To get these kind of results from a package that fits in the palm of your hand, when just a few years ago you needed an ultra powerful desktop-sized stitchbox sitting underneath the camera, is a more than impressive feat.
Editors note: for best results, we recommend watching this sample video on a mobile or head-mounted device.
The Live Planet system is able to live-stitch 4K footage in real-time, a very impressive feat considering how well it works. Stitch lines are hardly noticeable until something gets within about a half meter of the camera. (Please excuse the lack of audio – I failed to consider the lack of internal microphones until I offloaded later in the day).
Second, the ability to monitor and preview live using a Samsung Gear VR headset is priceless. It’s very easy to setup and use, and is a wonderful way for a producer, director or client to experience, on set, the 360 sphere the way the end user will experience it. It’s also capable of simultaneously streaming an equirectangular preview to a laptop or computer, from where you can also control the camera and settings.
Third, and this is perhaps the main selling point for the Live Planet system, is that it gives the user the opportunity to simultaneously live-stream in 4K stereoscopic video, at as low as 2Mbps, to various platforms, including Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR, and Google Daydream headsets as well as YouTube and any platform that supports Real Time Messaging Protocol (RMTP).
To get these kind of results from a package that fits in the palm of your hand, when just a few years ago you needed a powerful desktop-sized stitchbox sitting underneath the camera, is a more than impressive feat.
This makes it an elegant solution for publishers of live events to easily distribute to multiple channels. All you need to do is connect the camera to a router via Ethernet cable, plug it in, and hit the Livestream button on the mobile app or computer. You then share a simple event code generated by the Live Planet Cloud to whomever you like and users can login to experience both live, as well as pre-recorded, video. Facebook and Vimeo support are on the way.
Now here’s the kicker – users of most major 360 cameras such as Insta360 Pro, Vuze+, Samsung Gear VR and Rylo can now take advantage of Live Planet VR Studio, Live Planet’s cloud publishing platform. Since the software is where Live Planet does some serious algorithmic voodoo, this is an incredibly welcomed feature. Using the Live Planet publishing platform can give you a consistent easy way to push your 360 content out to the world, no matter what platform a user chooses to experience it on. I cannot think of an easier turnkey way to simultaneously publish to all major VR and social media outlets.
Finally, and this will be one of the least talked about and least understood, but perhaps one of the most exciting parts of the technical design, it all runs on a blockchain-enabled infrastructure called VideoCoin.
I cannot think of an easier turnkey way to simultaneously publish to all major VR and social media outlets.
Those that know me know that anything blockchain and distributed ledger technology gets my full attention. While this isn’t the place to get into the nitty-gritty of blockchain tech, essentially the basis of most cryptocurrency, what’s important in the Live Planet VR system’s case is that it provides a peer-to-peer, decentralized, encrypted platform for data distribution – never has there been a safer way to safeguard, control, and distribute your own data, in this case video.
Live Planet also employs a proprietary algorithm in what they call ViewCast technology, which predicts head movements in order to maximize resolution in the direction the eye is facing, enabling high-resolution viewing in headsets even on mobile networks.
The Live Planet system arrives in a very sturdy Pelican case with custom foam cutouts.
The Live Planet team also indicated that they “plan to release an update every 3 weeks.” Some of the things they specifically pointed out to us include still photo capture, HDR capture, flexible field of view capture (0 to 360º), support for streaming from multiple cameras, RAW capture, an Adobe Premiere Pro plugin to aid in post-production color grading, and spatial audio support on the Live Planet publishing platform.
Be aware that space and publishing through the cloud system will cost you, based on how much streaming time and space you need. There are packages from $50/month for 90 minutes of streaming and 50GB storage, up to $270/month for 10 hours of streaming and 250GB storage. To take advantage of the ViewCast technology, it’ll cost you $9.99 per streamed hour.
Image quality is certainly adequate and acceptable, especially for the turn-key live event use cases as described above. While a recent update allows for 6K capture (6144×3328) at 24fps, that is currently reserved for post-production stitching. Maximum resolution for live streaming is 4096 x 2160 at 30fps. The camera does a very good job of rendering details close-by, however, at further distances, in high-contrast situations, say under a tree canopy or between several buildings in daylight, there tends to be some noticeable edge-fringing.
When I first started using the Live Planet I ran into some of the same frustrations that I did when I started shooting 360 several years back, piecing together 3rd party accessories and solutions. With no internal battery, on-board audio recording, any sort of controls on the camera unit itself, it’s not the best camera for travel or on-location shooting. It has a lot of moving pieces, all of which have to work perfectly together with no issues.
Bottom line, this is a perfect turn-key solution for the quickly growing market of live-streaming events in 360 video.
However, when I began to truly consider what the Live Planet system was designed to do – effortlessly stream live events – my perspective changed. Live Planet’s software engineering and solutions are top notch. For live-streaming, especially over wireless networks, 4K is more than enough resolution for that bandwidth to handle. Furthermore, since Live Planet has begun to open up its software solutions to users of other cameras, it’s absolutely worth keeping an eye on Live Planet’s evolution as I’ve yet to see anything that rivals Live Planet VR Studio on the software and distribution front.
Bottom line, this is a perfect turn-key solution for the quickly growing market of live-streaming events in 360 video, and it gets my enthusiastic recommendation as a system to use for live streaming purposes. Additionally, Live Planet VR Studio certainly gets my nod as a publishing platform for users of any camera.
What we like
Live Planet live-streaming publishing platform
Good image quality
Only requires 1 MicroSD card
What we’d like to see improved
No internal or swappable battery
No audio recording
No still photo capture (coming soon)
No raw recording (coming soon)
No access to individual camera files
(Rating based primarily on use as a live-streaming system)
The mention of romance generally elicits a youthful and delighting emotion, but it is subjective by nature. The maturity of a relationship can unearth some shocking truths, which is at times very discomforting for the audience to experience. Also, contrary to the popular notion, romance is often dangerous and destructive by nature, especially when both sides are not equally willing.
In a sad turn of events, a happy romance can also deteriorate with time and become bitter when people can’t even stand each other. It is a surprise when a film that is assumed to be romantic or dramatic from the outset changes its nature where the horror tag becomes more appropriate. Without further ado, here are 10 romantic dramas that are actually horror films:
1. Gone Girl
Every relationship goes through tests. Ask any married man and the advice is unavoidable: don’t marry. Well, watch “Gone Girl” and you don’t need any suggestions – the fear is real. Nick Dunne, a writing teacher played by Ben Affleck, is cheating on his wife Amy and she learns about it.
Amy is the daughter of a celebrity parent whose fandom is based on the children’s book series “Amazing Amy,” which was based upon the child Amy’s behavior. Amy spends her days under this gigantic pressure of living up to her parents’ success and this affects her personality. They are also going through a financial struggle that is destructive to the personality of sociopath Amy.
David Fincher doesn’t reveal Amy’s sociopathic tendencies at first. After she suddenly goes missing, the press questions Nick’s motive behind that. Nick is framed by Amy as a punishment because of his attachment to a second woman.
Amy is a perfect example of Female Hysteria. She can’t adjust to the shocking truth and tries to ensure that their past relationship status would remain intact. In the process, she tangles her husband in a maze and acts as a savior in the end. “Gone Girl” is not a drama, it’s a horror.
2. Bitter Moon
Inflicting pain on others is a special kind of joy, which is a remembrance of our brutal past as cavemen. The sexual experiment with sadomasochism and masochism dates back to many centuries earlier. Cast in the role of the sultry French beauty Mimi, Roman Polanski’s real-life wife Emmanuelle Seigner displayed various styles of romance in the 1992 film “Bitter Moon,” an underrated film from the auteur Polanski.
It is shivering to hear the confession of Oscar Benton that the thought of a vulnerable and insecure Mimi gives him indescribable pleasure. Later in their relationship, they resort to different types of sexual games to rekindle the spark, but the games were more about power and domination than love.
In time, an aged and matured Mimi retributed back to Oscar for her painful past. The love games are thrilling and horrifying to watch, as the viewers are as helpless as the bound Oscar to control the situation. After watching “Bitter Moon,” youngsters will think twice before wishing to be married with some random exotic beauty from some strange part of the world.
3. Nocturnal Animals
There is always a reluctance in couples to admit that they never totally understood their partner. The legend is that you can’t understand a women fully in a single lifetime owing to their complicated personality traits, but it can be equally applied to their male counterparts. The truth is that people still haven’t understood how to perfectly communicate with each other and there are always some unspoken truths in any relationship.
In Tom Ford’s first film since “A Single Man,” Susan Morrow questions her relationship with her husband Hutton Morrow, whom she married after a divorce from Edward Sheffield. Sheffield’s literary aspirations were always looked down upon by Susan, and now that he had written a complete novel dedicated to her and named it after the nickname given to her by Edward. She was curious, and she read the manuscript sent by the author himself.
The horror of “Nocturnal Animals” lies in the psychological horror of guilt. The dark content of the novel disturbs Susan, especially the protagonist’s journey through hell to save his wife and children from the rapists, only to lose everyone and die in the end. This reminds Susan of how she aborted their children without informing Edward to untie all connection to him before applying for divorce. Edward doesn’t meet Susan according to their pre-decided appointment at the restaurant, and now the hellish journey of guilt is all Susan’s.
The title of “Honeymoon” hints at a conventional cabin-in-the-woods slasher film, but the film’s treatment of horror is more intelligent than most run-of-the-mill productions. True to the name of the film, the story starts with a romantic premise.
After their wedding, Paul and Bea visit their inherited property in Canada – a secluded cabin in the woods – to spend their honeymoon in tranquility. All is fine until Bea meets with a friend of the past and starts to behave abnormally. Bea also shows her hesitancy with motherhood, as a mere mention from Paul elicits uncomfortable response from her.
“Honeymoon” never explicitly clears the source of its horror but maintains a chilling atmosphere throughout. It is an alien invasion, psychological horror all packed around a film that seemed a regular romantic drama at first.
5. Gerald’s Game
Stephen King’s prolificness in varied genres of novels is enviable. He is one of the rare great living legends who understood the connection between all-encompassing love and horror. Bathed in his prophetic observation, the film adaption of “Gerald’s Game” is full of surrealistic fantasy and a frightening atmosphere.
Jessie and Gerald’s relationship was full of unrevealed rage toward each other. Gerald was furious at Jessie’s irreverence in rekindling their relationship, platonically as well as physically, but he never expressed it to her. But Jessie was ready to accept Gerald’s fantastical love games and enacts a rape fantasy in which an excited Gerald, overdosed on Viagra, dies from a heart attack. A handcuffed Jessie cried for help when her subconscious takes over.
Gerald comes to question her about the unfulfillment in their marriage and in a flashback, Jessie’s sad childhood is shown. Jessie was haunted by the childhood memory of her father masturbating by sitting a young Jessie in his lap, getting aroused by it. It is indeed a tough exposition to swallow and the handcuffed Jessie’s mental and physical pain is too depressing to watch. The romantic night of horny Gerald and sexy Jessie easily succumbs to horror in the superbly directed film by Mike Flanagan.
Cornish writer-director Mark Jenkin has, with his debut feature film Bait, created a daringly original and unique film that feels like a found artifact from an antiquated era. Shot on 16mm black-and-white Kodak film stock with a 43-year-old wind-up Bolex camera, there’s an unmistakable Dogme vibe to Jenkin’s class clash picture (Jenkin’s authored a very similar “Silent Landscape Dancing Grain 13 Film Manifesto” which is all about embracing handmade celluloid film work).
Set in a touristy Cornish village where boorish long-time denizen and fisherman Martin (Edward Rowe) feels infringed upon by vacationers who scoff at his long held traditions and leave him near destitute. With his boat no longer seaworthy and his family home now the property of some stuffy Londoners, Martin is fuming and at his wit’s end. As it unfolds in a truly and admirably antiquated fashion––critics and cineastes have justifiably drawn comparisons to Soviet silent film-era pioneer Segei Eisenstein, for instance––Bait also seems to reimagine Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs (1971) only here we’re cheering for the local residents.
Martin feels abandoned by his brother Steven (Giles King), particularly after he restored and re-purposed his boat, turning it into, of all things, a tourist tripper.
Playing favorites for a staccato style as well as abrupt and often deliberately disorienting visual compositions and cuts, as in a tense pub scene anticipating one of Martin’s outbursts, Jenkin’s creates an idiosyncratic yet altogether awesome and unconventional showdown. Not content with just being Bait’s writer-director, he is also the film’s cinematographer, editor, and composer.
The narrative that Jenkin’s presents us in Bait, essentially framed around a longish flashback becomes something surprisingly mosaic-like, makes it a difficult film to ascribe a genre to. One part class polemic, it also has the nerve of a Western, the anxiety-building heft of a thriller, and even the sighing yen of a melodrama while also being a very British tone poem.
A parable that unfolds along the sea, Bait moves at times towards almost objective realism and subjective fantasy while packing an emotional punch. With weighty themes of gentrification and societal struggle as tourism wracks up against the old ways of a fishing village, Jenkin’s justifies his stylish and witty tale with a marvellous expertise. It’s not just one of the best films to show at VIFF 2019, it’s one of the year’s finest as well.
Taste of Cinema Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Author Bio: Shane Scott-Travis is a film critic, screenwriter, comic book author/illustrator and cineaste. Currently residing in Vancouver, Canada, Shane can often be found at the cinema, the dog park, or off in a corner someplace, paraphrasing Groucho Marx. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneScottravis.
The amount of vloggers in recent years has exploded with more and more products coming out focusing on that market but one area that has pretty much been forgotten is camera support. The Joby Gorillapod filled that void for a while but was never really designed for that use. Early this year a new product hit the market from Caleb Wojick and Pat Flynn the SwitchPod and I have to say they did an amazing job. Check out the video to see what it’s all about!
Ask any questions you have in the comments below.
Go get yours https://switchpod.co/
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