Filmmaking Much Complex Than You Might Think

Filmmaking Much Complex Than You Might Think

Today, many transition or expand their career from photography to videography, relying on the advanced technology we already have in our hands. However, most of them aren’t aware that they are entering a whole new universe that’s vastly unknown by stills photographers.

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Sony a7R IV for Wildlife Photography: A Killer Combination of Resolution, Speed, and Autofocus

A lot has been said about the ultra-high resolution Sony a7R IV when it comes to shooting portraits, studio work, or landscapes–basically everywhere high resolution is a must. But what about wildlife photography? Seattle-based wildlife photographer Aaron Baggenstos took the camera to Africa to find out.

With its Animal Eye AF, surprisingly fast burst rate, and the ability to shoot high-res files in both full-frame and APS-C crop mode, the Sony a7R IV is a very tempting prospect for wildlife photographers. And yet this is one place where mirrorless hasn’t really made as much of a dent. Baggenstos thinks that’s a mistake, because his experience shooting with the a7R IV in East Africa was almost entirely positive.

“With a variety of high preforming super-telephotos, and the addition of the a7R IV, Sony has a deadly duo of cameras and lenses that for me sets a new standard for wildlife photographers,” writes Baggenstos on his blog. Between the highly-detailed 61MP images, the surprisingly clean performance at high ISO, and the excellent battery life, he has no problem recommending the system to other wildlife photographers who are curious about taking the plunge.

Here are a few sample images that Baggenstos was kind enough to share with our readers:

The review is mostly glowing, so it’s important to note that Baggenstos bought this camera himself and wasn’t sponsored by Sony to test out the camera.

He also ends the review by pointing out some of the things he wishes would change. The list should be familiar for anybody who has read or seen other reviews of the Sony a7R IV: you can’t change settings, move the focus point, or do almost anything else while the camera is buffering, silent shooting exhibits a ton of rolling shutter, the sensor is much more prone to dust compared to DSLRs since there’s no mirror box, and the uncompressed RAW files weigh in at a hefty 120MB each.

However, these negatives don’t seem to have swayed Baggenstos’ extremely positive review of this camera as a wildlife tool one bit.

Check out the video review up top to hear the pros and cons directly from Aaron himself, and if you want to see more of his work, be sure to visit his website or give him a follow on Facebook and Instagram.

Image credits: All photos by Aaron Baggenstos and used with permission.

A Realistic Holiday Gift Guide for Photographers

A Realistic Holiday Gift Guide for Photographers

Every year, there is a gift guide released that is supposed to help family, friends, and significant others buy something for their budding photographer. The problem is photography is an incredibly specific hobby, and most gifts given unfortunately don’t help. Here is a list of gifts that will appreciated by any photographer.

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TowerJazz Will Not Sell Its Half of the Panasonic Image Sensor Partnership

After a Nikkei report (and, later, an official press release) revealed that Panasonic would officially be selling off its semiconductor business, many people wondered what would happen to the joint venture with TowerJazz that constituted Panasonic’s image sensor business. Now we know.

In a press release published earlier today, TowerJazz clarified that, while Panasonic would be selling its share of the TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor joint venture to the Taiwan’s Nuvoton Technology Corp, the Israeli company would retain its 51% share and control of that venture.

“TowerJazz, the global specialty foundry leader, clarifies following recent press releases in connection with the sale of Panasonic semiconductor business to Nuvoton that it will not sell its TPSCo shares and will maintain its 51% ownership and Board control in TPSCo,” reads the release. “TowerJazz will continue its operations and manufacturing activity at TPSCoJapanese manufacturing facilities, in accordance with the recently extended contract with PSCS, and do not plan any changes to its foundry services and therefore no impact on the business relationship with its foundry customers.”

This is great news for anybody who was worried that Panasonic’s exit from the semiconductor business meant one less competitor for industry giant Sony. While Sony might hold the lion’s share of the market, Panasonic hadn’t been standing still. The company finally unveiled a camera featuring its Organic 8K image sensor just over a year ago, and was set to debut that technology at the 2020 Olympics.

Of course, nobody knows for sure what consumer camera image sensors would or would not be affected by the end of TPSCo–we can’t even know for sure if the 8K sensor is at all tied up in the joint venture–but for now, it seems we don’t have to worry.

(via Reuters via DPReview)

Gigabyte USB 3.2 Gen 2×2: give your old PC transfer speeds up to 20 Gbps

Gigabyte USB 3.2 Gen 2x2: give your old PC transfer speeds up to 20 Gbps

If you want your actual computer to achieve up to 20Gb/s transfer speed, Gigabyte has the solution for you: the world’s first USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 PCIe Expansion Card. Get your old PC in the fast lane!

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the support organization for the advancement and adoption of USB technology, announced the new USB 3.2 specification in September 2017, and it took at this time for the faster connection to be available in such a way that anyone, even those with older computers, can have access to the faster transfer speeds made available through USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. In fact, Gigabyte has announced the availability of its USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 PCIe Expansion Card, GC-USB 3.2 GEN2X2, a world’s first for this type of card, putting within the reach of anyone transfer speeds  double from what is available with USB 3.1.

The new PCIe x4 expansion card supports USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 for both AMD and Intel platforms and delivers up to 20Gb/s transfer speeds, effectively doubling that of the previous generation. With the USB Type-C port design and backward compatibility with USB 2.0/3.0/3.1, the new expansion card offers an affordable way for users to upgrade to the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 specification without having to get a new motherboard. So, if you only have USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 ports, this is for you.

Gigabyte USB 3.2 Gen 2x2: give your old PC transfer speeds up to 20 Gbps

Get your PC in the fast lane

Motherboard manufacturers have responded by future-proofing their flagship motherboards with full compatibility for the new specification. This is especially convenient for users who are currently looking to upgrade their motherboard. However, users who recently upgraded their systems or are satisfied with their current setup are getting the short end of the stick having to buy a new motherboard to use USB 3.2 Gen 2×2.

That’s where the workaround now provided by Gigabyte enters, as a viable solution to get a computer that you’re happy with up to speed. The GC-USB 3.2 GEN2X2 PCIe Expansion Card is, says Gigabyte, “a highly flexible and cost-effective solution”, that adds full support for the new specification on any motherboard with a PCIe x4 slot. This means that users won’t have to go out of their way to buy a brand new motherboard just to upgrade their USB specification so that they can enjoy 20GBps transfer speeds. When they do decide to upgrade their system, they can easily move their GC-USB 3.2 GEN2X2 to their new board to add USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 on an additional slot.

“Gigabyte strives to offer users the most effective solutions at the best value. Since the announcement of the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 specification, we’ve been focused on developing a simple, effective solution for all users alike,” said Jackson Hsu, Director of the Gigabyte Product Development Division. “USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 and Thunderbolt 3 both use the USB Type-C slot but we cater to different needs. After close discussion with many experienced users, we’ve decided that the flagship board will support Thunderbolt 3 which delivers up to 40Gb/s transfer speeds while other products can be paired with the GC-USB 3.2 GEN2x2 PCIe Expansion Card to deliver 20Gbps blazing fast USB Type-C transfer speeds.”

USB 4.0 on the horizon

Meanwhile, the industry is already looking at USB 4.0, which promises even more speed. Last September, two years after the announcement of the USB 3.2 specification, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), announced the publication of the USB4 specification, a major update to deliver the next-generation USB architecture that complements and builds upon the existing USB 3.2 and USB 2.0 architectures.

The USB4 architecture is based on the Thunderbolt protocol specification recently contributed by Intel Corporation to the USB Promoter Group. It doubles the maximum aggregate bandwidth of USB and enables multiple simultaneous data and display protocols.The development of the USB4 specification was first announced in March 2019 by the USB Promoter Group.

Key characteristics of the USB4 solution include:

  • Two-lane operation using existing USB Type-C cables and up to 40Gbps operation over 40Gbps certified cables
  • Multiple data and display protocols that efficiently share the maximum aggregate bandwidth
  • Backward compatibility with USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3

As the USB Type-C connector has evolved into the role as the external display port of many host products, the USB4 specification provides the host the ability to optimally scale allocations for display data flow. Even as the USB4 specification introduces a new underlying protocol, compatibility with existing USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3 hosts and devices is supported; the resulting connection scales to the best mutual capability of the devices being connected.

The post Gigabyte USB 3.2 Gen 2×2: give your old PC transfer speeds up to 20 Gbps appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

CamRanger 2 brings faster speeds, increased compatibility and more

When launched in 2013, the original CamRanger was one of the first devices that let you wirelessly control a DSLR via a smartphone phone app. Since then the company launched the CamRanger mini which mainly focused on offering CamRanger capability in a smaller package.

Now the CamRanger 2 has been released and the updated version is larger than the original but supports more camera models, is faster and comes with additional features.

The original CamRanger could be used with Canon and Nikon DSLRs. Compatibility has now been expanded to Sony Fujifilm mirrorless models, opening up new customer groups to the device. A full list of compatible cameras can be found on the CamRanger website.

There are now also a new standard tripod mount that opens up new attachment options and a for multiple camera attachment options and a SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot which should be useful for use with cameras with only a single card slot.

Despite a larger capacity rechargeable battery (3300mAh vs 1800mAh on the original), according to CamRanger battery life has decreased from approximately six to five hours, though.

On the plus side the new model now supports 5Ghz wireless networking in addition to the 2.4Ghz of the original. The range has been doubled from 250 feet to 500 feet (152m) as well.

New features include a ‘quick RAW’ viewing mode which uses an embedded JPG-image for faster reviewing, advanced image rating, video viewing and downloading, saving to SD-card, editing, croppind and more.

For more information head over to the CamRanger website where you’ll also be able to order the device for $350.

Three Key Ingredients I Look for in My Landscape Photography

Three Key Ingredients I Look for in My Landscape Photography

There are many ingredients you can mix and match to make amazing landscape photography. In this article, I share three of the most important ingredients I use in my landscape photography.

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This Classic Polaroid SX 70 Ad is a Blast from Photography’s Past

If you’re a fan of instant photography, Polaroid, or you just like the history of photography, you’ll love this Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera ad that resurfaced online over the weekend. The 11-minute ad gives an in-depth look at every aspect of this iconic, folding instant film camera that is still beloved today.

That ad introduces this marvel of engineering as: “a compact, folding, electronically controlled, motor driven, single-lens reflex camera […] developed to exploit integral self-processing film units, which when exposed are automatically ejected from the camera with no parts to peel or discard.”

This might seem like a whole lot of jargon, but when the SX-70 was introduced in 1972, it represented a massive leap forward in instant photography. Up until that point, taking an “instant” photo still meant peeling the film, letting it dry, and (often) getting chemicals on your hands. When he first introduced it at a company meeting in April of 1972, Polaroid founder Edwin Land walked on stage, took out a folded SX-70 from his suit coat pocket, and captured five pictures in ten seconds, illustrating in a flash just how remarkable this creation really was.

Despite the camera’s high cost (approximately $1,100 for the camera and $42 for each pack of film if you adjust for inflation) Polaroid went on to sell some 700,000 units between the camera’s launch in late 1972 and mid-1974, cementing the SX-70’s place in the pantheon of history’s most revolutionary, popular, and indeed iconic cameras.

We actually found and published a much shorter version of this ad way back in 2013, but this copy is much higher quality and nearly three times as long, offering a more in-depth look at how the iconic camera worked, and explaining why it was so special. If you’re at all a fan of photo history, or if you just need a quick 10-minute break from work, check out the ad up top and enjoy this blast from photography’s past.

(via Reddit)

Contender Documentary Jim Allison: Breakthrough

In the new documentary, Jim Allison: Breakthrough, director Bill Haney takes us into the world of a multi-faceted renegade of a man who has unexpectedly set new standards in cancer treatment. “I had known of Jim’s work for some time,” said director Haney of the 70-year-old Texan who has relocated several times as his research […]

The post Contender Documentary Jim Allison: Breakthrough appeared first on Below the Line.

Experimenting with Tradition: Publishing Insights From TBW Books

Experimenting with Tradition: Publishing Insights From TBW Books

TBW Books

TBW’s founder Paul Schiek and Program Director Lester Rosso discuss the importance of collaboration and maintaining a “punk ethos” in photobook publishing.

TBW Books is one of the leading publishers of photobooks in the United States, putting together publications that cleverly walk the line between tradition and experimentation. Based in Oakland, California, their obsession with their craft is palpable in each of their releases, and the conversation they facilitate between book form and content is always careful and compelling.

I first discovered TBW Books when a friend introduced me to the founder Paul Schiek’s photographic work. His images are filled with energy, and they pushed back against the wave of formulaic-feeling documentary tropes prescient in the early 2000s. After looking into his photography a bit more, I learned that he founded the publishing imprint house. TBW’s first official release was in 2006, and included a book of Schiek’s own work along with three other books by Jim Goldberg, Ari Marcopoulos, and Mike Brodie. You could only buy the four books as a set, and the package’s intriguing title, ANNUAL SERIES NO.1, prepared me for future releases. TBW has now released six series of these annual sets, and have included artists like Gregory Halpern, Susan Meiselas, Mike Mandel, Wolfgang Tillmans, Katy Grannan, Viviane Sassen, Mark Steinmetz and Lee Friedlander. Each edition is compiled with its own set of parameters, and all are exquisitely crafted.

By 2014, TBW grew to include full-time director Lester Rosso, and the imprint began releasing monographs. They work with both established and emerging photographers, and the process between artist and publisher is closely intertwined. Perhaps an overused term in the photobook industry, the “punk ethos” is alive and well in TBW Books’ releases. They have one foot in the museum world and one foot in the zine world—they don’t hesitate to stamp book covers by hand, if necessary. Still a relatively young imprint, Paul and Lester have made an impact on the photobook world that has been nothing short of enormous.

I was able to talk to the duo soon after they returned to their home base of Oakland, California after traveling throughout the country for book fairs and photo festivals. In this interview, they explain a few of TBW’s goals, the power of publication, and the importance of community.

Annual Series No. 5 (2017). The four books in this set include work by Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke & Lee Friedlander. © TBW Books

Dylan Hausthor: I’ve heard quite a bit of lore about the name “TBW.” If you don’t mind dispelling the mystery, what does it stand for?

Paul Schiek: Lester is definitely best suited to answer this one.

Lester Rosso: At this point, the origins of the name are a bit of an inside joke, but I think they’re true to the beginnings of TBW as a dark horse in the publishing world. Flexibility is something we work hard to put on the front burner of our approach, so on a full-steam-start-of-the-week Monday, TBW could mean “Total Body Workout” and by Friday, chasing an 11th-hour change to the text in a book’s introduction, it could mean “Tired But Wired.” Ideally, it would stand for “The Bahamas Weekly.”

Front cover of Jason Vaughn & Brad Zellar’s “Driftless” © Jason Vaughn & Brad Zellar, courtesy of TBW Books © TBW Books

DH: It’s rare that your trade edition monographs exceed $45.00 USD, with many titles less expensive than that plateau. As a broke photographer who loves spending hours with photobooks, I really appreciate your ability to keep costs low and accessible for people like me while still producing something exquisite. Is this space between affordable and collectible the sweet spot for TBW?

PS: We actively try to include anyone who is interested in our books. It would be a huge misstep for us if we knew of people who wanted to collect our books but were priced out. So with that, we really do all we can to make titles affordable and collectible. For example, with the Annual Series, we currently charge $125 for a set of four hardcover and beautifully printed books by interesting artists. If that’s all you buy from us annually, we think that is a fair starting price to build a solid library. As you mentioned, our monographs hover between $45 and $65. And of course, we produce extremely limited editions at a higher price point for people who enjoy collecting on that level as well.

Bill Burke’s “They Shall Take Up Serpents” from TBW’s Annual Series No. 5 (2017). © Bill Burke, courtesy of TBW Books

LR: This sweet spot speaks to TBW’s intent on building from the ground up. Something we are always discussing is how we can do the most with a material, how we can exploit a production technique a little further in our favor of creating something interesting, visually striking, and tactilely engaging without throwing money at it to find a solution. Keeping in mind that the images are the core of the books, we want those images to be as available as possible to those who might want to add them to their libraries.

DH: How do you find photographers to work with?

PS: It’s a bit of everything: submissions, reviews, introductions from trusted friends. For me, the bottom line is that I’m a photo junkie. I’m always looking at everything I can get my hands on. More often than not, I don’t look for books to publish through the normal channels.

LR: We’re always looking and continually inspired by what’s out there. Paul has almost 20 years of involvement in the Bay Area’s photography community, and the fact that we’re often just as surprised by what comes to us from the far corners of the world and Internet as who and what we find in our own backyard speaks to the area’s rich photographic history.

Front cover of Curan Hatleberg’s “Lost Coast” (2016) housed in exterior sleeve. © Curran Hatleberg, courtesy of TBW Books

Front cover of Curan Hatleberg’s “Lost Coast” (2016) housed in exterior sleeve. © Curran Hatleberg, courtesy of TBW Books

DH: Your process for working with artists is incredibly hands-on, and consists of far more than simply sending images to the printer. Your love of sequencing and bookmaking as an artistic process is obvious. How does your communication and working process with a photographer usually go?

PS: I think TBW is very different from a lot of other publishers in that we work directly with the artist to craft a book. This means that the edits and sequences are prioritized after the artist takes the actual images.

LR: Agreed. Working closely with our artists is really central to the feeling of community that makes the process of making a book so special. While Paul and I relish in the duties of design, editing, and sequencing, we keep a dialogue open throughout. Whether it’s luck or a subconscious aim, we also happen to really enjoy the artists we choose to work with as people. It really comes back to community.

DH: Speaking of community, the current photobook world seems to be growing remarkably fast. Small presses are everywhere, book fairs are expanding, and it seems like books are how many photographers want their work to be seen. What do you credit this to? And how does TBW exist in this expanding space?

PS: Well, there’s been a huge shift in the past ten years. When I was studying photography in the early 2000s, very few photographers envisioned their work as a book. That was for a very top tier, elite group of photographers—ones who already were in the museums. The exact opposite has now taken hold.

LR: Though photography is increasingly democratic, access to work in the arts has historically been a challenge, especially if you don’t happen to live in one of the major art hubs. I think this shift is profound. We’re just returning to the office from back-to-back photo and book fairs, the last of which was the LA Art Book Fair. The energy, care, and thought it takes to produce printed and bound objects is significant—it’s amazing to be in the thick of it, across so many demographics, experience levels, and working methods.

Annual Series No. 6 (2018). The four books in this set include work by Guido Guidi, Jason Fulford, Gregory Halpern & Viviane Sassen. © TBW Books

DH: Consistency seems so important in TBW releases—especially in the Annual Series. They don’t necessarily seem to have themes, but there are rules that all the books in the set must abide by. For example, they must all have four-letter titles, or have one image on the cover. How did this start? Is it important to have a conceptual through-line throughout the books?

PS: This is really just an outpouring of my core belief that having parameters while creating anything—be it a house, a meal, a record, or a book—will inevitably force you to continually challenge the creative process, stay engaged, and ultimately reduce bloat in the final product.

Gregory Halpern’s “Confederate Moons” from TBW’s Annual Series No. 6 (2018). © Gregory Halpern, courtesy of TBW Books

LR: That loose through-line also enables an artist in the Series to quietly acknowledge the other artists taking part without forgoing their own individual needs and processes. As curators, we hope this trickles down to the collector in a way that deepens each time they pick up that year’s set, so that the original obstruction settles in as subtle companion across the four books.

Jason Fulford’s “Clayton’s Ascent” from TBW’s Annual Series No. 6 (2018). © Jason Fulford, courtesy of TBW Books

DH: Before we wrap up, I’ve read that one of your goals for TBW is to sponsor a little league team. Has that happened yet?

PS: Well, that was sort of this goal and gesture towards trying to be an active and good member of our community here in Oakland. It comes from a working-class mentality. If I was a plumber, I would sponsor the local little league team. And while I’m not a plumber, I am a book publisher, and people need that too. It comes from a feeling of wanting to be of service. The truth is, we have found other ways to do this: to be of service to our friends and family within the art world. To publish books in 2019 not only feels radical, but also of service.

LR: This goes back to community as a backbone. Without it, there’s no scene—arts or otherwise. It sounds silly to say, but a daily parallel goal is to contribute something of value to the Bay Area. I never played ball, base or soft, but TBW Junior Cycling has a real nice ring to it!

Enjoy more great photography:

Canon Working on a ‘Pro’ EOS R with Hybrid EF/RF Mount: Report

Canon has all-but-confirmed that a high-end EOS R camera is in the works, but the full-frame mirrorless flagship might be more than just a powerful addition to the current lineup. According to the most recent report, the unreleased camera could feature a “hybrid” lens mount that works with both EF and RF mount lenses.

This report comes from Canon Rumors, who claims to have heard it from “a couple” of sources that the upcoming “EOS-1 style EOS R camera” will be able to use both EF and RF glass without an adapter thanks to a new kind of hybrid EF/RF mount.

How Canon might actually pull this off is anybody’s guess, because while the mount diameter of the two mounts isn’t very different, the flange distance certainly is. The only solution that comes readily to mind is some sort of “collapsible” mount that would act as a built-in EF mount adapter. Of course, we’re just speculating at this point.

This kind of innovation–especially on an EOS-1 level camera that would need to be used by working pros at sporting events and the like–would definitely make it a lot easier for professional action/sports photographers to make the mirrorless switch. We’ll just have to wait and see if, and how, Canon might pull this off. CR reports that they will have “more information on this soon,” so keep your eyes peeled for more details on that “how.”

The National Archives: A Wealth of Americana Inspiration

The National Archives: A Wealth of Americana Inspiration

As creatives and photographers, it’s essential to study imagery for education and inspiration. The national archive is a wealth of archival and historical photos from America’s history.

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THE DARK CRYSTAL – AGE OF RESISTANCE: Peter Eszenyi – VFX Supervisor & Creative Director

In 2018, Peter Eszenyi explained the work of Territory Studio on PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING. He then worked on JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN and BLACK MIRROR. He talks to us today about his work on the prologue of THE DARK CRYSTAL series.

How did you get involved on this show?
I was invited to be a part of this show by Alex Reinach, the VFX Producer, whose task was – amongst producing episodes for the show – to deliver a prologue. We have worked together before so it was great to join forces with him again.

What was your feeling to be part of this iconic universe?
It was fantastic to be working on such an classic, one-of-a-kind project. I was really surprised by how much emotion the series can create, and I am really thankful for being a part of that.

How was the collaboration with director Louis Leterrier, the showrunners and Overall VFX Supervisor Sean Mathiesen?
I have worked from the same office as Sean, and we had a daily ongoing conversation about what is the best way to tackle this task. He was always extremely helpful, and his ideas and creative solutions were always spot on, it was real pleasure to be on the same project. I mostly communicated with Louis via Sean and Alex, but on the few occasions I talked directly to Louis he was always really thoughtful and very precise about what he’d like to see in the prologue.

What were their expectations and approach about the visual effects?
The task was quite challenging, with my team I needed to create a CG based animation that fits into this very analogue world of the Dark Crystal, it needed to introduce very abstract concepts to an audience that would not necessarily know about the ins and outs of this world and be not too distracting to distract from the premise that this is a unique project with puppets.

How did you organize the work with your VFX Producer?
I have worked with Alex previously, and I can always rely on his meticulous approach to problem solving, and his creativity when it comes to a project like this. As I was based where the production was set up, daily reviews and feedback was very easy.

How did you work with the art department for the prologue?
The art department wrapped up by the time I got onto the show, they were already deep into the last part of the post process. I had access to most of the art department material and it was extremely useful for us to understand the intricacies of the world of the Dark Crystal. The amount of they researched and connected was astonishing and we relied on that for our part of the show.

What kind of references and indications did you received?
We studied the world of the original film and the work of Brian Froud, as we needed to recreate some of the intricate graphics he created. Sean and Alex had shown me parts of the show that were relevant to what we were doing and some concepts were already laid out by the brilliant artists at DNEG TV, so it was really helpful in a way that certain directions could easily be eliminated from this creative conundrum. We knew that we do not even want to try to mimic anything from the show, no animated puppets and recreation of environments from the series.

Can you explain in detail about the creation of the big travel in Space to Thra?
The concept was already in progress when I got there, DNEG TV was doing the big space opener, the very first shot of the series. We needed to augment that with a touch of graphics, based on Brian Froud’s artwork, that fits into the space environment and acts as a key element. It introduces the world to the new viewers and acts as a reassuring nod to the hardcore fans of the original show. We received cameras and layout renders from DNEG TV and animated our graphics to fit into the camera angles and movements designed to this shot. We had a few versions where we fine tuned what elements to use, the speeds of their individual animations and we have worked up a look that could be tweaked in the final comp to accommodate any last minute changes. We experimented with adding some realistic space dust and particles around the graphics, but we decided against using them as the very unique graphical elements were meant to be the main heroes of the shot.

How did you create and animate the various FX elements?
I have created some initial concepts and style frames about how these elements could fit into the opening shot, then size and animation versions were tweaked through numerous layout renders. We have recreated some of the original artwork in a slightly more streamlined version, and repurposed a lot of small graphics elements such as Skeksis alphabets and similar, to work as a part of a library which we could deploy where an area in the shot needed a bit more interest. We imported these into Cinema4D where most of the work was done by GFX artist Ferdinando Spagnolo, and we set up a procedural system where we could change almost everything in a very short amount of time. We rendered the shots with Redshift and exported numerous AOVs that the comp department requested at DNEG TV.

Can you tell us more about the creation of the graphic elements?
I personally think the original graphics are phenomenal, and they certainly have a very hand-drawn aesthetic. Instead of trying to mimic those qualities, we decided to trying to simplify them, keeping as much as the original intent as possible. But the realities of the production of the shot meant that we had to create splines instead of relying on something hand-drawn. It was a lot of work recreating these.

Can you explain in detail about the creation of the map and the big fly over?
The map as a concept was established very early, and being able to discuss things with Sean and Alex directly meant that we decided to go with the 3D sculpted version fairly early in the process. A partial map existed for the original film, and Sean and the production designer created a full world map of Thra and mapped out where the clans lived. That was really helpful as well as all the concept art that we had access to. I sculpted a rough version really quick in the early days and that model was used to establish the key concepts of what this map is going to look like. As there is no reference in the series about any maps, we had a fair bit of creative freedom when it came to the materials, and the direction we all liked meant that this map would be something like an art piece, something that is abstract, but physical enough to be understandable. We picked materials that belonged to Thra, distressed copper, marble, wood and through a lot of concept work we have managed to find a balance and worked out how the map is going to look like. When CG artist Roland Lukacsi came on board, he was tasked with reworking the map sculpture to a very high resolution, sculpting in elements that resembled some recognisable landmarks and then he created all the textures and shaders for this element. As for the flyover animations, we did a lot of versions, Louis – filming some of the show himself – was very keen on getting specific camera movements and speeds that tell the story the best, and Sean – who is an amazing animator himself – helped us to translate this into shots. The editorial team created versions of the shots with speed changes, these needed to be plugged back into the CG camera moves.

How did you create the various environments?
Parallel to the creation of the map I started to experiment with lighting setups and ideas for the maps shots as well as the Aughra and Skeksis shot. Some of the shots required very specific segments of the map, and Roland and I created little bespoke segments, that were sculpted to an even higher level of detail, and were tailored to the requirements of the shot. If you will, besides the original map there are at least a four partial, really detailed versions in existence. Along the asset development work by Roland I have started creating comp setups to see how much of the extra elements can we do in comp rather than rely on CG only. Clouds, particles, various atmospheric elements were used throughout the shots.

Which one was the most complicated to create?
Definitely the shot with the Skeksis and Aughra. Narratively this was really important, it needed to show how this peaceful world of Thra gets corrupted by the Skeksis, and what is the reason Aughra is not aware of the intent of those vile creatures. We needed to come up a visual solution that illustrates this change, introduces the Aureyal as a symbol of unity, shows us the Orrery — which is the reason why Aughra is more interested in all things stellar rather than the evil Skeksis — and we needed to introduce the Skeksis themselves. Lots of particles to be simulated, lots of materials to be created and the camera move needed to fit into the following shot, which is from the series, so yeah, that was a challenge!

How did you create Aughra and the Skeksis?
Initially we were not planning to get too close to them, as the models we had access to were fairly simple art department models, but Alex managed to get the beautiful, super high-res models from Weta Workshop, and that meant we can get the camera nearer to them. We needed to tweak these, to retopologise and create a lot of texture and shader variations until we found the ones working. Alex came up with this idea how the ancient Roman and Greek statues had been originally painted with colours, and how that wears down through time, and that was the idea behind the look of the Gelflings. Sean suggested some warmer material, like wood for Aughra, and we knew the Skeksis needed to be something that is majestic and threatening at the same time, so we went with various distressed metals. We wanted these materials to play a part of in the narrative.

Can you elaborates about your collaboration with DNEG for the assets sharing?
I have worked with DNEG before on other shows, and It is always really great to work with them. They are always really supportive and when it comes to technical challenges we could sort those out really quick. Andy Hargreaves, the DFX supervisor on the show was always great and the DNEG TV production department was superbly helpful, massive thanks for their help! The process itself was fairly straightforward, we set up our comps and sent it over to their comp department where those were plugged into their setups. We received the Gelfling assets as well as the intricate Orrery model, cameras and layouts for shared shots and we converted those to fit into our pipeline for this show. 

Which shot or sequence was the most challenging?
Most definitely the shot with Aughra and the Skeksis. Very long one and it featured a huge amount of particles, and crazy camera moves.

Is there something specific that gives you some really short nights?
The short timeframe was a bit concerning, but nothing I have not experienced before. In fact, thanks to the close proximity to Sean and Alex, the process was really smooth.

What is your favorite shot or sequence?
It must be the one with the Orrery and the Skeksis because of its complexity. I also really enjoyed trying out different materials and sculpts for Aughra’s face to make her solemn, younger than in the film, but still very powerful.

What is your best memory on this show?
Oh, we had a few moments which were absolutely brilliant, mostly thanks to the crew in the production department as well as everybody who was in the same building with us. A lot of good moments shared with those people.

How long have you worked on this show?
About three months.

What was the size of your team?
3. I had two brilliant guys, Roland Lukacsi and Ferdinando Spagnolo, both of whom I had worked with before, they are amazing.

What is your next project?
There is a couple of films I am working on at the moment, but they are all under NDA.

A big thanks for your time.

Peter Eszenyi: Official website for Peter Eszenyi.

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2019

The post THE DARK CRYSTAL – AGE OF RESISTANCE: Peter Eszenyi – VFX Supervisor & Creative Director appeared first on The Art of VFX.

Photog Loses Everything to Burglars While Swearing In as US Citizen

A photographer had her house hit by burglars last month while she and her family were out being sworn in as a US citizen. She lost all her camera gear, computers, and essentially everything that had value in her home.

Originally from Poland, Berkeley, California-based family and birth photographer Ania Zimnoch attended a naturalized citizen oath ceremony in Oakland on November 21st. Accompanied by her husband and daughter, Zimnoch joined 1,356 other people in taking an oath of allegiance to the US and becoming a citizen of the country.

“There were tears and smiles all around,” says photographer Lisa Winner, a friend of Zimnoch’s who attended and photographed the ceremony. “Especially given these dark political times, the ceremony felt like a breath of fresh air and a glimmer of hope that greatness still indeed lies within this nation.

“I was beyond honored to have been there, not only to document it but to also share the moment with her and her family.”

But little did Zimnoch know that just a short drive away, burglars were going through her house and taking a huge part of her career and life away from her.

“An unknown number of men broke into her and her family’s home and robbed them of everything that was of value,” Winner tells PetaPixel. “All of Ania’s camera equipment (multiple camera bodies, lenses, hard drives – everything), computers, electronics… all gone.

“They opened every cabinet, searched every drawer, and if it was deemed to be of value, it was stolen.”

In addition to losing tens of thousands of dollars worth of cameras, lenses, and other photography-related equipment — many items that can’t be fully replaced by insurance — the burglars also stole storage devices containing hundreds of client photos that had yet to be delivered.

It was a devastating blow to Zimnoch on what should have been a joy-filled day.

“While she was legally joining our country, other US citizens were robbing her not only of her physical possessions but of any fond memory that she might’ve had from this day,” Winner says. “More than anything, I am angry. I am angry that on a day that was supposed to be of celebration, on a day when she became a legal member of this ‘great nation,’ this is the welcome mat that she received.”

Winner has since set up a GoFundMe fundraising campaign to raise money to help Zimnoch get back on her feet.

“If you are able to donate, even a small amount, please let’s pump some good memories back into this day,” Winner says. “Let’s roll out the proper welcome mat this time around… Thank you.”

Image credits: All photos by Lisa Winner and used with permission

Panasonic to sell remaining stake in semiconductor joint venture in face of ‘aggressive’ competition

Panasonic has announced it’s selling off its minority stake in its semiconductor joint venture for $250M to Taiwan’s Nuvoton Technology Corp after deciding it would need to invest more than it is prepared to do to compete and expand in the market.

Back in 2014, Panasonic offloaded a majority of its semiconductor unit to a joint venture with Isreali semiconductor manufacturer TowerJazz. The joint venture, which is owned 51% by TowerJazz and 49% by Panasonic, was initially believed to be sold as a whole, but TowerJazz has since confirmed in a statement that it will retain its majority stake and ultimate control of the operation following the transition:

‘TowerJazz, the global specialty foundry leader, clarifies following recent press releases in connection with the sale of Panasonic semiconductor business to Nuvoton that it will not sell its TPSCo shares and will maintain its 51% ownership and Board control in TPSCo.’

Part of the semiconductor business is involved with making imaging sensors for cameras and smartphones, as well as for numerous industrial purposes. It isn’t clear at the moment exactly how this will impact the company’s camera division or the upcoming 8K organic sensor planned for the 2020 Olympics, but all intellectual property and contracts are to be transferred to the buyer in June next year — a month before the start of the Olympics.

Panasonic says it’s tried to streamline its semiconductor business and that it has divested parts of the business already to make it less expensive to operate, but that it would need much more investment to expand the division and to compete in an aggressive market.

The sale may not have very much effect at all as the majority of Panasonic’s Lumix cameras use third-party sensors, and the majority of sensors made by the division being sold were for the automotive business and industrial applications. However, the division lists 16MP CMOS sensors for stills cameras and 20MP Super 35mm sensors for broadcast cameras in its offering. Whether the technology and manufacturing facilities for the 8K organic sensor are also part of the deal we have yet to discover.

We have contacted Panasonic for comment and to clarify what this might mean, if anything, for its camera business. We will update the article if we receive a statement.

Press release:

Announcement of the Transfer of the Semiconductor Business

OSAKA, Japan – Panasonic Corporation (hereinafter, the “Company”) announced that it will transfer (hereinafter, the “Transfer”) the semiconductor business mainly operated by Panasonic Semiconductor Solutions Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, “PSCS”), which is a 100% consolidated subsidiary company of Panasonic Equity Management Japan G.K.(hereinafter, “PEMJ”), a 100% consolidated subsidiary company of the Company, to Nuvoton Technology Corporation (hereinafter, “Nuvoton”), a Taiwan-based semiconductor company under the umbrella of Winbond Electronics Corporation group, and enter into the Stock and Asset Transfer Agreement (hereinafter, the “Agreement”) with this company. A decision was authorized by the Board resolution today.

1. Background and Purpose
The semiconductor business of the Company has shifted from the AV area to the automotive and industrial area over the last few years. The Company has positioned the “Sensing” technologies such as image sensors, and the “LiB Application” technologies such as IC for battery management and MOSFET for LiB battery circuits protection as the focus areas, and the Company has aimed to grow its business by consolidating resources in these areas.

In the meantime, in April 2014, the Company transferred the semiconductor wafer production process of the Hokuriku Plants (Uozu, Tonami, Arai) to the joint venture company formed with Tower Semiconductor Ltd., an Israel based foundry company. Furthermore, in June 2014, the Company transferred its semiconductor assembly plants in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia to UTAC Manufacturing Services Ltd. (hereinafter, “UTAC”) having its headquarter in Hong Kong. The Company has been strengthening its competitiveness by becoming an asset-light company, consolidating and eliminating its offices and production bases in both Japan and overseas for the mitigation of business risks.

However, the competitive environment surrounding the semiconductor business has become extremely severe due to aggressive expansion of competitors, huge investments in the focused area, and industry reorganization through M&A. In such an environment, the Company has come to believe that the even stronger business operation and the continuous investment is critical in order to achieve a sustained growth and expansion of the semiconductor business. Accordingly, it has concluded that the best option would be to transfer the business to Nuvoton, which highly appreciates the Company’s accumulated technical and product capabilities and therefore has a potential to lead stable growth by leveraging those capabilities.

2. About the Transfer
(1) Business restructuring before the Transfer: Just prior to the Transfer, the Company will restructure the semiconductor business as follows.

  • All shares of Panasonic Industrial Devices Systems and Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, “PIDST”) and Panasonic Industrial Devices Engineering Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, “PIDE”), which are wholly-owned subsidiaries of PEMJ, will be handed over to PSCS by way of company split.
  • The semiconductor business-related intellectual property rights and certain business contracts held by the Company and/or the Company’s subsidiaries and the semiconductor business-related assets and debt of the Company will be handed over to PSCS by way of either company split or asset transfer.
  • All PSCS’s shares held by PEMJ will be handed over to a to-be-established, wholly-owned subsidiary of PEMJ (hereinafter, the “PSCS Holding Company”) by way of share transfer.
  • The semiconductor-related components (lead frame) business of PSCS will be handed over to a to-be-established, wholly-owned subsidiary of PEMJ by way of company split.

(2) Details of the Transfer: Upon completion of the business restructuring above, the Transfer will be carried out as per the details below with target effective date of June 1, 2020 (scheduled).

  • PEMJ will transfer all PSCS Holding Company’s shares to Nuvoton.
  • The business of Panasonic Industrial Devices Semiconductor Asia (an in-house company in charge of development and sales of semiconductors; hereinafter, “PIDSCA”) under Panasonic Asia Pacific Pte Ltd. (a Singaporean entity owned by the Company through its subsidiary; hereinafter, “PA”) will be handed over to Singapore- based entity owned by Nuvoton.
  • Certain facilities and inventories attributable to the semiconductor business of Panasonic Semiconductor (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, “PSCSZ”) will be transferred to China-based entity owned by Nuvoton.

3. Other
The Agreement is based on the precondition of obtaining approvals from the authorities responsible for competition laws and other government agencies of the respective country and region. In addition, the planned date of the Transfer including business restructuring before the Transfer may differ significantly in light of the duration required for completing the procedures for obtaining approval and other procedures concerning permissions etc.

A $60 DIY Photo Ceiling Rail Lighting System

What started off as a quick lighting test in my garage has turned into a full investigation and installation of my own DIY photography ceiling rail system. My shooting space measures 7×10 feet (2x3m) — not a great space for shooting portraits.

Okay, so you might manage it with one light on a stand/boom, but what if, like me, you like using more than one light? I tend to use a 3-light setup when shooting my creative portraits, and setting up 3 stands with softboxes becomes very cramped in such a small space.

It was during these sessions that I decided to look into buying a ceiling rail system to create more floor space, but they’re expensive! They’re great systems for the studio, but my garage space is used for trying out quick lighting setups/ideas.

So, I decided to build my own ceiling lighting system. Below is a quick 5-minute video of it:

It all started when I came across the Lazy Long riviterat a local tool store, and the whole concept was built from there.

Below you can find all the gear used:

It worked perfectly! I simply drilled a hole for an M4 bolt and attached it with a washer and 2 nuts. It has a 400-newton force load so you will need to check out the weight of your lights and gear and make sure you don’t exceed that limit — you can Google it and find a conversion calculator.

The next step was to attach a spigot to the end of the riveter gun. As if by magic, at the end of the gun was a small bolt, so I unscrewed that and the spigot simply screwed in and was a perfect fit!

The next step was to attach the Unistrut to the garage roof, an easy process of screwing it to the roof joist with screws and washers. The riveter gun and channel trolley glided along the 3-meter length of Unistrut down the center.

I decided to build on that and try to use the full space, allowing the light to reach every corner, so I built an H frame with the Unistrut, screwing 2 lengths parallel to each other down the length of the shooting area.

I then cut another length of strut for the width and attached additional two-channel trolleys at each end with bolts then slotted them into the 2 Unistruts screwed to the joists, allowing me to pull the light down the full length and width of the shooting space.

Now I have all the floor space to use with no obstructions! And I was pretty chuffed with what I could achieve in a small space. Here are a few shots done using the rail lighting system.

I wanted to share this DIY project with all of you, as it has made a great difference for me in my small studio!

About the author: Barry Mountford is a photographer based in Gateshead, England. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Mountford’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

After Effects Classic Course: Extended Vignette Techniques (part 3)

A potential problem with creating a vignette to focus the viewer’s attention on an area of the frame: What if the camera wasn’t locked down, and instead moves a bit, causing your focal point to wander around inside your vignette? Or what if your focal point wanders a bit themselves? One answer is to stabilize the footage so that your focal point stays still, and therefore nicely framed. That’s what we demonstrate in the final “chapter” of the Extended Vignette Techniques course.

3.1 Stabilizing the Foreground

This movie shows how to use After Effects’ classic motion stabilization tools to stabilize the position of an area of interest. Alternatives that appeared since this movie was made includes using mocha (bundled with After Effects), or AE’s own Warp Stabilizer (just make sure you crank the stabilization amount all the way up to 100%; otherwise you will still have some slight wandering). Outside the tool-specific details, the concept is the same no matter which tool you use.

3.2 Correcting Edge Issues After Stabilization

The problem with motion stabilization is that it moves the footage around the frame in order to keep your desired feature in one place. What do you do if it moves so much, that the edge of the original footage appears inside your vignette? This movie demonstrates the problem and has a few suggestions on how to cure it. (After Effects has recently added a contextual fill feature, which is another potential solution to this problem.)

By the way, an alternate solution to the “wandering focal point” problem above is to track your area of interest, and to apply this track to the vignette layer (or the effect point, if you used the Circle technique) so that it follows your focal point around the frame.


A quick summary of why we’ve been going through all of this trouble in the first place, and the potential cures.

These movies previously appeared on Learning. They’ve retired this course from their library, so we’re making the movies from it available publicly for free. You can either scan our page on ProVideo Coalition to see the other free movies, or check out the Crish Design channel on YouTube.

The post After Effects Classic Course: Extended Vignette Techniques (part 3) appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

Do Not Be Afraid of Using Stock in Your Creations

Do Not Be Afraid of Using Stock in Your Creations

Being a freelance photographer and digital artist, I have resigned myself to the fact that I will not always be able to use my own photography in the images I create for clients.

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