The Conference and Trade Show Industry Are Changing for the Better: The Portrait Masters Conference

The Conference and Trade Show Industry Are Changing for the Better: The Portrait Masters Conference

Over the years I have had the pleasure of attending a handful of workshops, trade shows, and conferences, but the last two I have attended have been different, and the changes I see are exciting.

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The 7 Hardest Parts of Photogaphy (and How to Conquer Them)

Photographer Nigel Danson recently asked his 50,000+ followers on Instagram — most of which are outdoor and landscape photographers — what they think the hardest part of photography is. After getting back 1,827 responses, Danson made this 20-minute video to share the responses.

Here’s a breakdown of the 7 hardest things along with videos Danson has made that addresses them:

1. Composition

2. Lighting

3. Location Planning

4. Woodland Photography

5. Time and Motivation

6. Boring Locations

This one didn’t have a prior video, but Danson does offer tips while discussing this challenge.

7. Focus

Watch the full 20-minute video at the top to hear Danson step through each of these challenges and offer his thoughts and solutions on them.

(via Nigel Danson via Fstoppers)

And the Winner Is… Or: Why I’m Going Back to Nikon

After going back and forth for months years between Sony and Fuji, never being entirely happy with either one, I ended up with… a Nikon system.

Why would I go back to my first love? Yes, I shot Nikon for ages, first on film and then on digital, before switching to Canon because of they were developing full-frame bodies while Nikon was still fixated on DX only, but nowadays it’s all about going mirrorless right?*

Well, at first my return to Nikon was mostly because I stumbled on a deal almost too good to be true: a used Nikon D800 going for about the same price as a waterproof compact camera. I bought it only to be able to use some of my film-era Nikon lenses on a digital camera other than the Fuji XPro-2. Or maybe just to have a body to take out in really bad weather when I wasn’t too thrilled about putting the XPro-2 at risk.

But once I started shooting, everything just clicked: the colors, the film-like appearance of the tonal values (especially with the right preset), even the handling. I’ve finally found my near-perfect camera. Why “near-perfect” and not “perfect”? Fist of all because this is real life, so there always will be something that is not ok. And because there are, should I nitpick a bit, a couple things that annoy me just a tiny tiny amount.

First of all, the bit of lag when writing images to disk can be a bother if you want to check focus or peek at your results really fast. A super fast card helps, but doesn’t solve the problem. Anyway no big deal, you get used to it. Second, when you use the internal flash (and this might very well be because of some setting I haven’t checked, given I don’t generally use it) even if you push the shutter button it will wait until the flash is ready to fire. Again: annoying but not a big deal if you prefer, like me, people not looking flabbergasted like someone just blasted them with a cold white light straight in their face.

Keep in mind I had to think really hard in order to come up with some cons for this camera. I didn’t even notice the weight and size, which, coming from an a7R, I was sure were going to bother me.

Bonus tip: slap a Nikon DK-17m magnifying eyepiece on it, and manual focus becomes a breeze, even in dimly lit environments and even without relying on the focus indicator arrows.

I use the camera with an array of old and new Nikon glass, and contrary to the Sony a7R, which I gather uses the same sensor, I am having zero problems with the performance on the Nikon—even at the borders, even with really old glass. I don’t mean to say that all my lenses have become fantastically sharp, only that they’ve kept the same behavior (or “personality”) they exhibited on film.

Then again, I’m probably a weirdo considering I like the look I get out of my 50/1.4 pre-Ai Nikkor more than the results from my Sigma Art 50/1.4… so your mileage may vary. But I am now a happy camper.

* wrong: It is, and has always been, all about the images you take.

About the author: Gianluca Bevacqua is a landscape, portrait and still life photographer based in Cosenza, Italy. You can find more of his work on his website, or by following him on Instagram. This post was also published here, and is being republished with permission.

Rumor: The Olympus E-M5 III to be launched October 17th, use same 20MP sensor as E-M5 II

According to the most recent report from 4/3 Rumors, Olympus’ next camera, presumed to be the E-M5 III, will be announced on October 17, 2019, and feature the same 20-megapixel sensor that’s inside the E-M5 II.

In its report, 4/3 Rumors breaks down the summary of the rumored information it’s received thus far saying with ’99 percent’ certainty that the announcement will be made on October 17, 2019, and with ’80 percent’ certainty, the new camera will feature the same 20MP 121 cross-type phase-detection sensor as the E-M5 II.

The report also states with ’90 percent’ certainty the new camera will come with a new processor that should, in theory, result in better image quality despite using the same sensor. Other details in the report say with ’60 percent’ certainty that the camera will have a ‘lighter, more plasticky but still weather-sealed body’ and use the same BLS-50 battery also used by the Olympus PEN and E-M10 cameras.

If this information does end up holding true, the E-M5 III is shaping up to be an incremental improvement rather than a revolutionary advancement.

The Way You Spend Money Determines What Kind of Portfolio You Will Have

The Way You Spend Money Determines What Kind of Portfolio You Will Have

Everyone has projects they dream of and clients they would like to work with. Dream projects don’t put food on the table alone. They have to be paid for, right? How do you manage to get both and be satisfied with the results?

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Review: Meike MK-MT24 is a Solid and Affordable Wireless Macro Flash

The Meike MK-MT24 is one of the most interesting lighting products I’ve ever used. The concept of this product is similar to some macro flash systems that have been on the market for years — especially the Nikon R1C1 — but while I knew of their existence, I’ve never once considered them due to their exorbitantly high price (the R1C1 is over $700).

The Meike MT-MT24 system, while at first glance seems pricey, comes in at $300. I’ve come to realize that it’s actually quite a good price for something specialized that works so well. It opens up a lot of possibilities in macro photography and also simplifies the process tremendously.

Why use a specialized macro lighting system like the MT-MT24?

Hitherto, I’ve been shooting macro photos with standard off-camera wireless speedlight flashes set manual power, set atop some kind of platform or light stand. Although this is all I knew, in retrospect, now having used the MT-MT24, it was a very cumbersome way of doing things. All the test photos you see in this article were shot within an hour, running and gunning. It’s highly portable and stealthy.

Also, this is the first time I’m able to use TTL in macro flash photography, and it worked surprisingly well. I believe the best and easiest way to shoot macro is to set the camera on Manual mode, select your aperture, shutter speed, and iso manually, and have the flashes set on TTL. This way I could completely focus on shooting and composition. As it is, there’s a lot to worry about when shooting live insects – you want to remove as much “clutter” in your workflow as possible.

Main Features

The way the flashes attach to your lens is via a “Clip-On Ring Mount” that screws onto the filter thread of your lens using a supplied step-up ring. The flashes clip onto the ring mount and have a feature where you can rotate them along the circumference of the ring by pushing in two plastic tabs without needing to unclip.

The flashes can also rotate, whether you want them to point closer or further out, depending on the distance of your subject to the lens. The wireless flash trigger sits atop the hot shoe mount.

Each of the flashes (as well as the flash trigger) all have pretty bright built-in LEDs. The LEDs on the flash can be turned on and off by the press of a dedicated button on the flash trigger. These LEDs are meant to assist you in composing and focusing your shot. When you depress the shutter, the LEDS shut off a split second before the flashes flash. I didn’t have to rely on the LEDs to focus because there was decent available lighting, and also because I’m using a mirrorless camera. I’m sure this is a boon for SLR shooters.

The flash trigger has an LCD with a push in scroll wheel that allows you to control the individual flash output, whether it be TTL or manual flash power. You can also switch one of them off to get a directional lighting effect as you can see in the tiny mushrooms shot, where only the right side flash is firing.

Additional Features

The kit comes with quite a few accessories:

Hotshoe mount and foot. This allows you to clip the flashes either onto a hotshoe adapter or have it sit on a platform on a hotshoe foot.

Diffusers. There are two diffusers which I think should be used most of the time

Gels. I haven’t had a chance to test this, but it does come with two sets of color gels that you can install right on the flash diffuser clip

Another interesting possibility is to purchase additional flash units for a multiple flash system. I was thinking that you could also clip additional flashes all onto the same ring mount, thus effectively achieving a ring flash.

The manual also says that the firmware can be updated. I have not experimented with this.


As previously mentioned, I had great success shooting in TTL mode with the camera set on manual mode. This allows you to quickly change the shutter speed so you can decide how much ambient light you want to show through while still retaining your desired aperture.

The flash trigger was very reliable, and there were no misfires until the battery was low (at which point the flashes take longer to recharge the capacitor). TTL was extremely dependable. I generally avoid TTL in my photography, but I think it may be particularly suited to macro photography, and I recommend using this mode when possible.

I was shooting with the Nikon Z6 with the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro lens. With this setup, the balance is near perfect and things didn’t feel front heavy. The rig is fairly compact, but I did at one point have a little difficulty clearing a tree trunk. My solution was to quickly unclip the flash (left flash in my case) that was blocking my movement.

I was worried that the relative sizes of the flashes to the subject would not be large enough to give a soft-ish look (since the flashes are fairly small). The results exceeded my expectations, and I think they’re perfect for small subjects. I quite like the catchlights that it produces.

One of the variables you’re always fighting against when using a macro lens is having enough depth of field. The lens I was using is very old, and frankly, a pretty terrible lens. At f/11, I was getting very severe diffraction. More importantly, however, this meant that my ambient light: the light that falls on the background ended up often being rather dark. I compensated for this by using a higher ISO.

If I really wanted to get the highest image quality, I would have placed extra flashes to light up the background independently. I will try this in the future – the fact that the MT-MT24 supports multiple wireless flashes makes this easy. You can use any flash that has a slave flash mode and pair it with this system.

Battery and Power Management

The flash trigger uses two AA batteries while the flashes themselves each use two AAA batteries. I assume this decision was made to keep the flashes small and lightweight. I was worried that this would mean poor battery life, but I managed to fire off over 200 shots before the recharge time started to take a little longer. I believe most of these were close to full power flashes, as I was shooting at high apertures most of the time.

A unique feature is that you can recharge the AAA batteries by plugging a powered micro USB cable into the flash units while the batteries are installed.


As someone who doesn’t do macro photography full time, it would have been hard to justify $700 for the Nikon R1C1, which is why I never even considered a dedicated macro flash system. I’d say the Meike MK-MT24 makes it affordable enough for the macro photography enthusiast, or even a beginner looking to get good results with ease.

I believe the Meike actually has many improvements over the Nikon – it uses standard batteries, has better LED lighting, and most importantly is triggered over 2.4ghz wireless as opposed to infrared. I know that Canon also has a macro flash system, but theirs is wired – with wires going from the front flashes to the “trigger” sitting on top of the hotshoe.

I appreciate the fact that companies like Meike provide alternatives to leading brand equipment while often improving upon the design. This is a very solid macro flash system that exceeded my expectations. If you’re looking to get into macro photography with an easy to use setup, this is probably the best and most affordable option out there.

Full disclosure: I was sent the flash I tested for an impartial review. I was not paid to conduct or write this article.

About the author: Steve Gong is a photojournalist based in New York. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Gong is known for his photos exposing life in North Korea and for his photojournalistic travels in more than 58 countries. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Sony a7S III May Shoot 4K/120p and Use a Built-in Cooling Fan: Report

Sony users have been waiting a long time for the successor to the Sony a7S II. But according to the most recent report from a source who actually used a prototype of the a7S III, the wait might actually be worth it.

The report comes from Sony Alpha Rumors, who claims “a reliable source” told them Sony is planning to release an a7S II successor with a built-in fan and the ability to shoot 4K/120p video. Everyone is expecting 4K/60p, but if Sony could pull this off, video shooters would be very interested indeed. The source also said the camera does not record 8K, but with the ability to shoot 4K/120p, we speculate 6K/24p might not be out of the question.

Notably, Sony wouldn’t be the first to put active cooling into a full-frame mirrorless camera for the purposes of shooting ultra-high quality video. Panasonic already did this with its S1H (photo above), which can shoot 6K/24p and 4K/60p video in 10-bit 4:2:0—but not even the S1H has managed to crack 4K/120p.

Originally rumored to be released last year, it seems like Sony put the brakes on the Sony a7S III in order to ensure they could outperform the full-frame mirrorless cameras from Nikon, Canon and Panasonic. Well, they’ve seen all there is to see; all that’s left is to respond.

Granted, the prototype that SAR’s source claims to have seen some months ago may have changed two or three times by now, but it sounds like Sony’s goal is to release the next hybrid camera king, and they’re willing to make their users wait for it.

If they do manage to pack 4K/120p video into this camera—alongside some other tantalizing low-light photography features and ultra-high-end video specs—will the wait be worth it? Let us know in the comments.

Music Vine’s Subscription Pricing Models for Pros and Creators Announced

Around this time last year we reported on Music Vine’s unveiling of a complete interface overhaul. Catapulting the service into a more current design language while also improving on search and filtering, the service had massively improved on a front very much at the centre of the problem all online music licensing services face: discovery of relevant content.

Now, Music Vine is expanding its very broad and versatile licensing system with subscription pricing. The two new branches of Music Vine’s subscription pricing, aptly named Pro and Creator, are to make the service’s content more attainable to a wider range of video pros and creators.

Pro and Creator

The Pro branch of Music Vine’s subscription pricing is targeting businesses, video professionals, filmmakers, production companies and freelancers. Within the Pro branch there will be a “Pro Lite” tier, probably more suited to the one-man-band or similar setups, creating corporate videos, wedding films, content marketing material or smaller indie film productions with the fitting licensing models. The “Pro Standard” tier of Music Vine’s subscription pricing on the other hand would probably be suited to commercial or larger scale productions, requiring all media clearances and the like. We don’t have any detailed information on the minutia of the licensing models, but what we do have is an indication of total cost: the “Pro Lite” tier would come in at $ 19.99 / month, with the “Pro Standard” tier amounting to $ 35.99 / month, given annual billing without VAT.

The Creator branch of Music Vine’s subscription pricing model would of course target a slightly different audience, at a slightly lower level of cost. Aimed at Youtubers, all kinds of personal social media creators its two tiers, called “Creator Ambassador” and “Creator Standard” would respectively come in at $13.99 / month and $ 19.99 / month.

Why Turn to a Subscription Model Now?

Music Vine has been around for quite a while and has seen a slew of competitors become quite successful on a subscription pricing model while evading that model themselves. Now Music Vine CEO Lewis Foster concedes that the demand for a subscription-based pricing model was indeed very large and that the production music business might be shifting in this direction as a whole. “The challenge for us has been to build a solution that is practical and attractive for filmmakers and video creators, while ensuring our artists get paid appropriately for usages of various scales, and enabling us to continue attracting the top musical talent”. Foster says.

Music Vine claims that this expansion of pricing models will coincide with a period of rapid expansion of its already large library over the coming twelve months.

Music Vine’s subscription pricing is set to launch in October 2019, next month. If you want to get notified about the launch, head on over to Music Vine’s notification page, or just keep reading cinema5D.

Full disclaimer: cinema5D is proudly using Music Vine’s music in all of its review and hand-on videos.

What do you think about Music Vine’s subscription pricing models? Are you already using their service? Will this change make you try Music Vine for the very first time? Let us know in the comments!

The post Music Vine’s Subscription Pricing Models for Pros and Creators Announced appeared first on cinema5D.

Taking Your Photography to the Next Level

Taking Your Photography to the Next Level

I recall reading an interview years ago in which Steve McCurry — a master at assembling powerfully wrought imagery — claimed not to think about composition. I was dumbfounded, even more so when I realized he was telling the truth.

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Review: Apple’s Night Mode Strikes the Right Balance of Technology & Art

Make no mistake, the new iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max smartphones from Apple are all about the camera system. From the new ultra-wide angel camera, to better Smart HDR, to Night Mode and beyond, Apple has gone to great lengths to catch up with the Google Pixel, and photographer Austin Mann thinks they’ve done it… and then some.

Mann is an incredibly talented and successful photographer whose clients include Apple, Condé Nast, Nat Geo Traveler, Nike, and many more. So when he got his hands on a brand new iPhone 11 Pro, he put it through its paces while traveling on assignment, and published a detailed review of the new phone’s pros and cons.

The most interesting part of Mann’s review was about Apple’s approach to Night Mode, which seems to have leap-frogged Google in a single bound. How? According to Austin, it’s all about balancing technological advancement with artistry.

“One thing I love about Apple’s approach to Night mode is the strategic balance of solving a technical problem while also caring deeply about artistic expression,” explains Mann. “When you look at the image above, it’s clear their team didn’t take the let’s-make-night-look-like-day approach, as some of their competitors have. Instead, it feels more like an embrace of what it actually is (night) while asking, “How do we capture the feel of this scene in a beautiful way?”

We’ve seen the same assessment in other reviews. In his review, The Verge Editor in Chief Nilay Patel showed how the iPhone took greater care to preserve the “feeling” of a night scene, whereas the Google Pixel 3’s Night Sight just brightened everything as much as possible.

Mann’s sample images tell the same story, and he expresses this same point again in his conclusion.

“Instead of just trying to maximize available light and make it as bright as possible, the Apple team asked, ‘How do we maintain the feel of a night scene while keeping it sharp and color accurate?’” writes Mann. “It’s clear their camera team has been exceedingly thoughtful in their balance of technology and art — it really shows in the final images.”

To read Mann’s full camera review of the iPhone 11 Pro and see many more impressive sample shots, head over to his website. Night mode is just one of the ways Austin tested the phone’s new triple camera and Smart HDR technology, and all of the results were very promising.

Image credits: All images by Austin Mann and used with permission.

The ultra-wide camera in the iPhone 11 models is fixed-focus, doesn’t support Raw capture

Last week, Apple debuted its new iPhone 11 devices, all three of which feature an ultra-wide camera module. This marks the first time Apple has put an ultra-wide camera in an iOS device and with the new camera comes all-new capabilities and shooting modes.

Not all of the cameras are made equal though. In addition to not having optical image stabilization, it’s been revealed the ultra-wide camera unit on all three models isn’t yet capable of capturing Raw image data or manual focus, unlike the wide-angle camera (and telephoto camera on the iPhone 11 Pro models).

Revealed by Halide developer Ben Sandofsky, the ultra-wide camera has a fixed-focus lens and doesn’t offer any Raw photo output. The reasoning isn’t yet known, but as noted by a number of responses to Sandofsky’s tweet, it’s possible the reason for not offering Raw output from the ultra-wide camera is due to the barrel distortion present in the uncorrected images from the ultra-wide camera. If not corrected, the distortion would be dramatic considering the 13mm (35mm equivalent) focal length, and without having iOS apps with that correction built-in it would result in rather distorted images.

It’s possible Apple could turn on Raw support in a later iOS update, but for now, Raw capture is limited to the other two camera modules.

Adam Savage’s Tested VR: the production of a virtual journey for Oculus headsets

The two sides of Adam Savage’s Tested VR

Adam Savage’s Tested VR is a FREE app that gives you a fantastic experience of what VR and VR180 can be, but it also served as the testbed for the VR180 camera rig assembled to shoot the 8 episodes.

Inspired by Adam Savage’s Tested One Day Builds, Adam Savage’s Tested VR takes audiences on a journey inside the creative workspaces of incredible makers, bringing their processes to life, from ideation to creation. The free experience (you can call it documentary) launched this month for Oculus Quest and Go, takes the public to the workshops of eight different artists:

– Adam Savage, Maker/TV Personality
– Brett Foxwell, Machinist/Stop-Motion Animator
– Rick Lyon, Puppeteer & Puppet Designer
– Melissa Ng, Gothic Armor Designer
– Andrew Freeman, Creature Mask Sculptor
– Griffon Ramsey, Chainsaw Wood Sculptor
– Alexis Noriega, Costume Wing Designer
– Ryan Nagata, Spacesuit Replica Fabricator

The voyage you’re invited to requires a Virtual Reality headset from Oculus to discover this eclectic roster of creators including a Broadway and TV puppeteer and a cosplay animatronic wings designer. The eight episodes put viewers inside their workshops for an intimate look at their builds, and the whole  experience sounds a lot like going behind-the-scenes to visit the workshops of artists working for movie and TV production, because so much of what is presented is related to the art of make believe.

Mixing Virtual Reality with 3D VR180

There is another aspect to Adam Savage’s Tested VR that attracted my attention. Besides the solutions used to film the episodes and show details of the action, you’re also given a chance to see some of the “behind-the scenes”, with takes that show aspects of the production work, and entice you to explore how it all was done. The app is also interesting because it uses a mix of Virtual Reality, for the cardboard desk in a reproduction of Adam Savage’s Cave, where you can interact with a series of objects, to VR180, used here as the solution to film each episode.

The mix of VR for the interactive parts and VR180 for the documentaries works rather well. According to Oculus, the whole project started one year ago, “when Adam Savage and Norm Chan of Tested fame asked themselves a seemingly straightforward question: What would a one-day build video feel like in VR?” The result is Adam Savage’s Tested VR,  8 episodes filmed with 180-degree stereoscopic cameras that allow for an immersive look at the creative process like never before. Bonus footage includes Adam’s “Cave” workshop tours, which you can “open” from the map on the desk, in the Virtual Reality section that is used as interface.

The two sides of Adam Savage’s Tested VR

A visual lesson in 3D VR180 production

The production of Adam Savage’s Tested VR was a learning experience for everyone involved. Adam Savage says that “what I noticed when we watched that first four-minute build video in VR was an entirely new level of intimacy and immediacy. Sitting virtually across from the maker was leagues more instructive, intuitive, and physical than just watching it in 2D on a screen. Seeing the movement of materials and the movement of the maker’s hands in three dimensions was thrilling! VR is a game changer when it comes to more deeply covering the skills, stories, and problem solving makers explore when they set out to make something. It allows the viewer a seat at the bench as it were.”

Arriving to the ideal solution was not easy, though. Over a series of months, the team worked closely with Tested Producer Joey Fameli to design the right visual language to tell maker-driven stories in VR. “The Tested team has spent years working together and crafting a specific way to shooting One-Day Builds, but this excursion took us farther than we thought possible,” Savage adds. “I know VR has been around for a while, but it’s hard not to feel like right now is the dawn of a brand new narrative medium.”

The two sides of Adam Savage’s Tested VR

The intimate experience of  3D VR180

Watching the episodes with a VR headset, you’ll probably be disturbed by the sudden cut of the image, when you jump from  the 360 degrees VR workshop recreation to the VR180 used to capture the artists. It does make complete sense, though, because VR180 centers on the action you need to watch, so it would not make sense to cover the whole environment around you, as the center of attention is placed in front of your eyes. It’s like watching a screen, with the difference that the image is 3D. You’ve to see it to fully appreciate the way it works.

“We love the look and feel of high resolution 180° video, especially for the kind of intimate, informative experiences Adam and the team create,” says Immersive Media Lead for Facebook AR/VR Eric Cheng. “We’re excited to see what people think and to help other creators experiment with this format.”

Norman Chan wrote on Tested website that “We filmed a pilot episode using a stereoscopic VR camera system with an ambisonic microphone for spatial audio recording; the system was compact and versatile enough to be set up around the shop to follow the pace of a build. We learned a lot of fascinating lessons about VR filmmaking along the way–which Joey will be sharing in an upcoming video–but the resulting footage was undeniably compelling. You really get a sense that you’re in the workshop with Adam, hanging out while he’s building a new prop.”


This app deserves the Oculus Rift

Adam Savage’s Tested VR is only available for Oculus Quest and Go now, but I sincerely hope it comes to the Oculus Rift S, as it makes no sense to keep such a good example of the potential of Virtual Reality for telling stories and showing documentaries limited to the less powerful headsets. The app really deserves the extra power available on the tethered Oculus Rift S to reveal the quality of the 5K 180-degree stereoscopic journey offered.

Tested Producer Joey Fameli was responsible for setting up the camera rig for Adam Savage’s Tested VR. He says that “while I’ve been exposed to VR from the early stages of development, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in headset, with experiences. I’d check in on the tech, watch the improvements, and demo a few things, but most of what I saw was really angled towards the video game industry.” Joey Fameli also notes that “it always seemed like filmmakers were trying to retrofit their current production style to be viewed in a VR headset, instead of using new tools to complement the strengths of the platform”, an opinion I agree with, having seen some of the early production for VR. He adds that “I honestly didn’t think there was much room for live-action VR filmmaking before this” and it was only when he saw a demo of a 3D VR180 live-action experience  that “the potential really clicked for me”.

The camera rig created for Adam Savage’s Tested VR

Having spent a large amount of time now in this production environment, Joey Fameli admits that “ he is excited to try new things and develop more material for it. Joey adds that “the normal videos we publish on our site are a wonderfully detailed look at the maker process, but there is something inspiring and exciting about being in the shop with a competent and talented maker. Tested VR does just that—it puts you in the maker’s space with them.”

While for the general public viewing the app is the most interesting part, filmmakers and anyone curious to know about the production process will want to know more about the rig used to capture the whole project. To coincide with the launch of Adam Savage’s Tested VR, the team published a 10 minute video on YouTube that shows what was used and how it was assembled.

In the video,  Tested producer Joey Fameli takes us behind the scenes in the assembly of the team’s new VR180 camera rig. Using a off the shelf Z Cam K1 Pro – which records stereo video at high resolution -Joey shows how he rigs up the camera with spatial audio microphone, recorder, and battery pack for on-location filming. He ends saying: “This is how we made the videos in the just-launched Tested VR app.”

The post Adam Savage’s Tested VR: the production of a virtual journey for Oculus headsets appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

GoPro Teases Hero8 Announcement and More for October 1st

GoPro is preparing to announce a couple of new action cameras on October 1st, according to a teaser posted last week to the company’s social media accounts.

The teaser video doesn’t reveal much, but we do get a brief glimpse of the GoPro Hero8. Here’s a brightened screenshot of that short clip, which matches the leaks we’ve seen so far:

Beyond this, the video shows a glimpse of the rumored GoPro Max, the 360° camera that is expected to replace the GoPro Fusion:

You can watch the full video below:

The official reveal is slated for October 1st at 9am Eastern, and there’s already a YouTube livestream scheduled that you can set a reminder to join.

If the rumors and leaks pan out, we’re expecting a powerful little action camera with even better “HyperSmooth” stabilization, a mount that can be folded out of the way, and a “media module” that will allow you to attach some useful accessories like an additional screen and video lights.

(via DPReview)

How to Use Google Earth for Extremely Detailed Location Scouting

There are a lot of great location scouting tools out there. But while PhotoPills and The Photographer’s Ephemeris do an amazing job and are packed full of useful features, photographer Tony Northrup explains why he prefers to use something else that’s completely free: Google Earth.

Northrup still uses PhotoPills and TPE, but as he explains at the beginning of the video above, he knows of no mobile application that can paint a complete picture when you’re location scouting. That’s why, when he’s doing some serious scouting ahead of a trip or photo shoot, the application he prefers is Google Earth for the Mac or PC.

Using the app’s ground-level view (not Street View) you can navigate a location, change your “focal length” by zooming in and out, and chart the location of the sun and milky way a specific days and times. You can even see the “eye altitude” in the bottom right-hand corner. In other words: you can fine-tune your exact composition, walking around a realistic 3D rendering of the spot you’re planning to shoot.

Check out the full video for a demo of Google Earth in action as a location scouting tool, or pick up a copy for yourself here. And if you have any additional location tips of your own to share, drop them in the comments!

(via Fstoppers)

This Videographer Used LEDs in Time Square, and the Results Are Stunning

This Videographer Used LEDs in Time Square, and the Results Are Stunning

Shooting out on location in a busy environment like New York City can be extremely difficult. When dealing with police, public safety, traffic, and pedestrians, it can often be near impossible to create the look you want without sacrificing your lighting. The way videographer David Geffin tackled these issues in his latest project, “Let’s Dance,” is pretty brilliant.

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THE BOYS: Brendan Taylor – VFX Supervisor – Mavericks VFX

Last June, Brendan Taylor explained the work of Mavericks VFX on the TV series WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS. He is coming back today to talk about THE BOYS.

How did you and Mavericks VFX get involved on this show?
I had been a fan of the comics… they are very dark, sure, but I also really like the take that if superheroes were real, they likely would be more like rock stars than benevolent saviors. I knew we’d be competing with shops 10 times our size, so we did a concept of « The Seven » headquarters that we ripped from the comic book. I was really happy with it. They ultimately went with a tower, for The Seven headquarters, but I think the concept showed that we had chops.

How was the collaboration with the show runners and VFX Supervisor Stephan Fleet?
Great. Stephan had us on set a few times, covering set when he was tied up with directing second unit, or supervising one of the other units. In post it was great, because he really knows his shit. Sometimes he’d just mock stuff up in Cinema 4d, Nuke, Photoshop, MS Paint (just kidding), to get his point across. It also felt like we were in the same boat… there was never a « you guys » etc, it was always a « we ».

We didn’t speak directly with the show runners very much, as it made sense for everything to go through Stephan. Stephan and Erik had worked together a number of times and there was really mutual understanding and respect.

What was their expectations and approach about the visual effects?
Expectations were high (as you can see in the finished product).

How did you organize the work with your VFX Producer?
Mike Kowalski was the Mavericks VFX Producer. We opted to split into teams. We were in charge of monitors and graphics, the Tower of Seven and crowds in episode 103. So each team had a lead and a few artists.

What are the sequences made by Mavericks VFX?
Monitors/Graphics, The 7 Tower and the crowds in the Race of the Century.

Can you explain in detail about the design and creation of 7 Tower?
The design was very well fleshed out by the art department. It was REALLY nice. So we just went about building it. We needed to get a few things ironed out first. Some of the physics of it didn’t quite line up. The base (which was Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto) was too small for a tower of that size. Additionally, some of the shots, like the tilt ups, wouldn’t frame up that nicely if we stuck to the 77 floors of the concept. It was a big and complex asset so we couldn’t really revise the model on a shot by shot basis. Stephan understood this and there was a lot of back and forth about the size of the tower. We settled on a height and then went about building it. We based a lot of our work on Zaha Hadid’s tower in Beijing.

In building it, we needed to have a few versions for different circumstances. The model was consistent, but the shading and texturing needed to be different depending on the situation. So we had a day version, a night version and a far away version. The day version was focussed on reflections, refractions and re-projection of the surrounding environment. The night version was mostly about the interior lights. We did need to reflect the surrounding environment on the tower, but could not find an HDRI of a city like New York at that height, at night. Lucky for us, there is a highway in the middle of downtown Toronto called the Gardiner Expressway that cuts through the central business district and is about 40 feet high. So we drove along the Gardiner, pulled over to the side and did an HDRI. My years of having first ADs yell at me to hurry up with the HDRI came in handy. The final version of the tower was for wide shots it would be a CG version of the tower that was then touched up in matte painting (modo and photoshop – to get the reflections moving properly).

For the exterior it was mostly shader work, as we had a very reflective surface. The trick was in getting the reflections to play in a realistic and believable way. We often rendered versions of the reflections with small changes in the geo. We also obsessively referenced high res stock footage we had found of buildings in New York and the Zaha Hadid building.

To get the interiors, which were only really seen in the night shots, we kit bashed offices out of previously made models. These were lit with practical seeming light sources on desks and lights in hallways. It may seem small, but those touches really helped sell the realism.

Can you elaborates about your work on the Graphic Montage for the Race of the Century?
We called it the « hype » reel. Editorial created the initial reel for timing and general imagery. Leo Bovell, Mavericks VFX supervisor, found some great ESPN hype reels. Erik and Stephan really liked the lens flarey, floating debris feel to it. We hired a compositor we’ve worked with a lot named Rob Del Ciancio who absolutely KILLS at this kind of stuff. He also barbecues really good ribs. Erik and Stephan really liked the early versions so we kept refining and sweetening it. But the initial presentation got it started off really well. The reel had some 3d in it, but it was a lot of elements and 2d cards.

How did you create and animate the crowd for the Race sequence?
So this was complicated… we looked at a number of crowd programs and settled on MiArmy. First, we had to build the stadium and the seats to put the 3D crowd in. It had to match perfectly, otherwise the crowd would look like they were floating. We used mocap data for the crowd animation. In a few cases, we key frame animated the crowd, but due to the size, we really needed a lot of variation. The mocap data needed to be ported into MiArmy and then we needed to run the simulation. Due to the complexity and extreme hardware demands of cacheing and rendering, we opted for very low res animation for approval. That ended up being problematic, because it can be a bit misleading if it is too low res. We were able to get timing approval this way. We would then take a small section and render that a little higher res for animation approval. Because the show was 4k and we were dealing with 30,000 agents, the cacheing was a nightmare. There were only a few workstations in the studio that could handle it. It wasn’t something we could outsource to the cloud either. I have to hand it to Leo Bovell and Josh Clark who either stay very late or come in at 3am to check in on and launch the caches. We did work with MiArmy to get the cache times down, and they were really great to work with, but you can’t fight reality. The reality being: these were large, complex scenes. There was no magic solution in this case, just brute force, late nights, diligence and care. Due to the cacheing and rendering timelines, we ended up making changes to the t-shirt colours with mattes and color correcting as opposed to re-rendering. The id mattes were pretty versatile and allowed us complete control.

Can you tell us more about your work on the monitor comps?
They were challenging because in addition to the monitor comps, we also needed to design and animate the lower thirds. That in itself is not tricky, but the show used the television and news as a method of delivering the exposition. So we needed to be aware of how we were delivering information. Things would also change a lot, late and tweaks were often made to language. It’s part of the process, though. As the edit starts to come together, changes need to be made to these comps in order to make sure the story flows. I actually really liked doing the monitor comps, as I like the story telling component to it. What can I say? I’m a nerd.

Which sequence or shot was the most challenging?
The crowds.

Is there something specific that gives you some really short nights?
The crowds.

What is your favorite shot or sequence?
The crowds.

What is your best memory on this show?
Not the crowds.

How long have you worked on this show?
We started in May 2018 and finished in February of 2019.

What’s the VFX shots count?

What was the size of your team?

What is your next project?
We are working on QUEEN AND SLIM, IMPULSE – Season 2, MADAM C.J. WALKER and a Canadian film called SLASHBACK.

A big thanks for your time.

Mavericks VFX: Official website of Mavericks VFX.

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2019

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After Effects Classic Course: Remove Color Matting

One of the tell-tale signs of a good composite versus a bad composite is the quality of the edges around the foreground layer. For example, it may contain some color contamination from the background it was originally shot against, which can prevent it from seamlessly melting into the new background you are trying to place it over.

A specialized After Effects plug-in that can help deal with this issue is Remove Color Matting. We demonstrate how to spot those bad fringes – as well as how to repair them – here:


This movie previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Learning. They’ve retired that 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 click here for the playlist of previous movies we’ve made available.

The post After Effects Classic Course: Remove Color Matting appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.