Monday, August 17, 2009

Ian Pfaff Demo Reel

Well, there is creative marketing and then there is CREATIVE marketing. In this case, we have FCP editor, prop builder, director (and other things) Ian Pfaff, who has put together one of the more original demo reels I have ever seen, showcasing what I assume to be most of his creative talents, though he may well have more...

Chances are, if you throw a rock in LA, you are going to hit somebody's demo reel with it, so take a page from Ian Pfaff's book and do something creative with yours!

Ian Pfaff's Demo Reel from Ian Pfaff on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Canon HF100: A Good Camera for Web Content

Canon HF100

One HD camera that is currently being produced by Canon (makers of the HV20, HV30 and XH-A1 among other models) is the HF100, an affordable and compact piece of equipment that has been rendering some pretty impressive results in terms of simple web content.

One example of the camera being put to use for these purposes is the work of personal trainer and fitness expert Brianna Graves, who runs the WitnessForFitness website. In the below clip, you can see the HF100 recording some of her instructions on static stretching.

As you can tell, the camera is rendering some pretty good detail, is handling sky and subject contrast quite well, and is just an all-around decent piece of equipment for recording and uploading to YouTube or the video hosting site of your choice.

As an additional example, here is a clip from the same site that focuses on some leg strengthening exercises. Over the course of these two videos, you get to see the camera operating and dealing with skies of various brightness. Given the relatively limited manual controls available for cameras in this price range, on the whole it does a pretty decent job of maintaining detail without silhouetting the subject or blowing out the sky.

Anyway, it's another option for you to consider if you are shopping in the sub-$1,000 range or looking for a "B" or "C" camera for your film projects.

As an "A" camera, I can imagine that with a very talented eye and some attentive color correction, you might be able to achieve something comparable to Ayz Waraich's "White Red Panic" but don't underestimate the amount of preparation and post-production that Ayz endured in order to get those results with a camera of that price range (the Canon HV20).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sony EX1: Ultimate Boston

The following clip is a nice compilation of footage put together by Tom Guilmette that gives us a nice sampling of two pieces of equipment of interest.

In addition to the Sony PMW-EX1 camera, Tom has added the Letus Ultimate depth of field adapter, a model up from the popular Letus Extreme.

In the following clip, in addition to a pretty good remix of The Killers, we get to see these two pieces of equipment working in conjunction (though the Letus Extreme was used for a few of the shots) and some experimentation with overcrank and undercrank.

Ultimate Boston - Letus Ultimate 35mm Film from Tom Guilmette on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire: The Rolling Shutter Frames

Given the great deal of interest that has been expressed not only in the landmark film Slumdog Millionaire and its groundbreaking and technologically innovative director Danny Boyle, but also in the film's use of the Silicon Imaging SI-2K camera for some of the key shots in the film... will probably come as no surprise that there has also been expressed some interest and questions about the rolling shutter employed by the camera and its ramifications for the film itself.

With those questions in mind, I will say the following: there are some rolling shutter artifacts that do appear in Slumdog Millionaire, and while I myself am one of those who tends to avoid the use of a rolling shutter in potentially troublesome situations, I am also one whose eye has been trained to a ridiculous degree to spot these sorts of things.

So while I will state that the rolling shutter does reveal itself in a couple of instances, I will also state the following even more loudly: The film won the Oscar for Best Freaking Picture. The point is, that those on the technical side may obsess on the minutia of a given shot or film sequence, while even the voters for the Academy will be forgiving if a sequence or film works emotionally. This does not mean that you should abandon sound filmmaking principles - it only means that a couple of rolling shutter artifacts in a feature-length film are not going to be what the audience goes home talking about if you have done your job as a filmmaker.

With that said, here are a couple of frame grabs from about one hour and forty minutes into the film, as our protagonist is in a car, trying to make his way through a throng of camera-wielding fans.

As you will know if you have read any of my musings on the rolling shutter, camera flashes present a specific problem for this method of image capture. As you can see, only a portion of the sensor was active for the miniscule moment in time when the flash was active. By the time the rest of the sensor had taken in the image, the flash was gone. Likewise, we have a partial exposure in the frame below.

So I guess it all boils down to this. Even the pros -- even the Best Picture Winner pros can get some partial exposure artifacts in their work. But before you freak out, ask yourself... Did you notice when you watched the movie? I highly doubt it. So while I don't want to talk you out of being a perfectionist in your filmmaking, do also realize that some things are more worthy of your finicky obsessions than others. I, for one, am glad that Danny Boyle didn't cut these shots from the film.

Friday, April 3, 2009

JVC Everio HD: Footage with DIY DOF Adapter

The following is just a short clip of the JVC Everio (GZ-HD7 model) being used in conjunction with a homemade depth of field adapter. As you can see, there is a shallower depth of field than would typically be expected from three 1/5" chips.

The footage is a pretty rudimentary test, and as you can see, while somewhat filmlike, the footage does also have a bit of a 1970s porn or home-movie feel to it as well. This would actually make this combination of tools quite useful if you are going for either of these looks (your reasons are your own!) with an example being an insert for a film like 8 MM or the opening credits of The Wonder Years.

But for higher-end requirements or the bulk of a narrative piece, this may or may not be to your liking.

Canon XHA1: Panalook Preset

The following video clip is simply a glance at the "Panalook" preset in action. This is one of the many presets that have been developed by devoted users to maximize the performance and color rendition of the Canon XHA1. In this case, it is just a collage of outdoor shots.

One particularly noteworthy (and unrelated) aspect of the video is the creator's use of a rack focus between different titles that are on screen simultaneously (in the opening moments). This was an effective technique that also highlighted the relatively shallow depth of field used in the video.

Canon XH-A1 - Panalook preset from Pathelin on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

20,000 Visitors in the Last 6 Months

Just a quick note to observe that today marked the 20,000th visitor to Jack Cabbage over the last six months. I just wanted to make a short posting, given the occasion, for the visitors who stop by regularly to see what's happening in the JC world of independent film and video.

I've received a good deal of feedback from visitors over the last while and always appreciate the positive responses and hope that I've been able to be of assistance on the occasions where readers have asked for advice and pointers.

All in all, producing JC has been a rewarding experience and I'm glad that there are people out there pursuing their goals, with respect to filmmaking and videography, that have been able to find this humble resource useful in their continued endeavors.

Thanks for visiting and making JC one of the stops on your tour of the filmmaking interweb.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nikon D90: "Elecric" featuring Melanie Jade

The following clip is one of the best examples I have seen of effective filmmaking with the Nikon D90's video capabilities. In this instance, a PROJECT SUNDAY music video was put together featuring Melanie Jade.

In this instance, there was extensive post-production and image correction work done on the footage. However, the final result is indeed more than one might think possible at first glance from what is essentially a beefed-up still camera.

Project Sunday feat Melanie Jade "Electric". from kenny azeez on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

HVX: "Corrado" Teaser Footage

The making of "Corrado" is a project we have been following, particularly since a first-time feature producer began to document his plans and experience as he went in this FORUM THREAD at DVXuser. The thread makes for great reading, as the process is described in which talent such as Tom Sizemore and Frank Stallone were secured, as well as much of the experience from script to screen.

The cameras have been rolling and some teaser footage from "Corrado" is now available below. It is particularly relevant to our purposes as the project was compiled with a Panasonic HVX + depth of field adapter combination.

Enjoy the footage...

Corrado Trailer from Rob Verrilli on Vimeo.

Nikon D90: Pulling Focus (Video)

When it first appeared on the market, the Nikon D-90 DSLR camera made a lot of waves because it not only provided the capacity to take excellent still photographs -- but also added the ability to record 720p video, at a true 24p frame rate.

Naturally, there is the ability to change lenses as with most still cameras. But the ability to change lenses in conjunction with the D-90's chip allow the potential to record video with a much shallower depth of field than would normally occur with more expensive prosumer video cameras such as the Canon XHA1 or Panasonic HVX with their three 1/3" CCD chips.

As an example for your reference, I have collected a few videos taken by D-90 users, with an emphasis on the camera's ability to pull focus (providing a shallow depth of field) while in video mode. Ths shallow depth of field is typically only achievable with prosumer video cameras when a depth of field adapter is employed (with its resulting light loss).

D90 from Drew Ott on Vimeo.

Testen Nikon D90 from donker:oranje on Vimeo.

Nikon D90 from Laurence Davis on Vimeo.

Canon HV30: Slow Motion Footage

Here at the Jack Cabbage Camera Battles, we have spent a fair bit of time examining the affordable but effective Canon HV30. In the interests of a more complete survey of the camera and its performance, I have collected several clips of the HV30 being used to capture slow-motion footage. This will naturally be a consideration for many filmmakers, and hopefully the following clips will help illustrate the results that are being achieved by current HV30 users.

The following clip shows tap water in slow motion, passing through a wine glass (also acting as a prism for light).

Slow Water HV30 Slow motion from Copenhagen on Vimeo.

The clip below shows people diving (with resulting water splashes) and a strong blue color-correction.

HV30 Slow Motion Cinematography from Brett on Vimeo.

A hummingbird in action...

Slow-motion Hummingbird from Paul Konopacki on Vimeo.

And some talented soccer that would even look cool at normal speed...

slow motion test. Canon HV30 from styleload on Vimeo.

SI-2K: Slow Motion Footage

Continuing our exploration of the Silicon Imaging SI-2K, we'll take a look at some slow-motion footage of a water splash that has been recorded by Louis Silverstein. In this instance, the footage was recorded at 150 frames per second (300 FPS with interpolation) and is being played at 24P.

SI2k Slow-Mo Test from Louis Silverstein on Vimeo.

Monday, February 16, 2009

SI-2K: Low Light Performance Test

Here we have another video clip from the survey files of the Silicon Imaging SI-2K, the camera most famous for being Danny Boyle's choice of recording medium for Slumdog Millionaire.

In this instance, Louis Silverstein has set up the SI-2K with only a 75W bulb (bounced off a wall) as the light source. This provides a makeshift test of the camera's low light performance. The additional camera settings for this test were ISO:400 and 2k@24P.

Low Light SI-2k from Louis Silverstein on Vimeo.

SI-2K: Initial Setup Video

You may be familiar with the Silicon Imaging SI-2K, the little piece of equipment that Danny Boyle used to create his critically beloved sleeper hit Slumdog Millionaire.

For those considering purchase and/or rental of the camera, or just simply interested in comparing ergonomics and ease of use between cameras, the following is a video provided by WorleyWorks, illustrating the out-of-the-box initial setup of the SI-2K.

Initial Setup SI2k from WorleyWorks on Vimeo.

Slumdog Millionaire and the SI-2K

Director Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Trainspotting) has always been at the forefront of maximizing his storytelling ability with the innovative use of less-than-cutting edge technologies. He has been wowing the world with theater-worthy productions utilizing equipment that is almost exclusively reserved for the "straight to video horror" market and TV reality shows.

His latest success story is the critically acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire, a masterpiece that was put together using the Silicon Imaging SI-2K camera. Chalking up a victory for the CMOS side of the camera debate, this piece of equipment features a single 16mm CMOS sensor.

The camera is presently positioned in the $22,000 range (rough estimate, with price including both the head and recording unit). One can purchase the head only ($13,000 or so) and record directly to computer with the appropriate setup, but that is a matter for another post.

This latest coup by Mr. Boyle is significant in that he has garnered 10 Oscar nominations for a digitally recorded film. This is undoubtedly a trailblazing feat for the independent filmmaker, who is now seeing firsthand that talent and skill plus a digital camera can lead to the very pinnacle of filmmaking achievement.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Canon XHA1: A User's First Day with the Camera

The following video is simply a decent example of what people are doing with the Canon XHA1 directly out of the box, on the first day. The filmmaker here (Nathan McClendon) did a little bit of research and downloaded Steven Dempsey's VIVIDRGB preset (wisely avoiding the Canon factory settings) but beyond that, did not benefit from any accessories such as a depth of field adapter, steadicam, dolly or such. The end result? Just some pretty good images for someone's first day with the camera.

Xha1 First Day from Nathan McClendon on Vimeo.

"Dangerous Women" with Ellen Sandweiss: Episode 1

I mentioned previously that a new web series called "Dangerous Women" featuring the three actresses from the original "Evil Dead" film was in the works. The 1981 Sam Raimi film starred Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker and Sarah York, and the three have now reunited for the StrikeTV web series. I am particularly interested in watching how the web model for content production (particularly with respect to drama) evolves.

You are now put on notice that EPISODE 1 of "Dangerous Women" is online.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Dangerous Women" starring Ellen Sandweiss

In another example of how made-for-the-web programming is developing as a prolific and commercially viable form of programming - though the profit model has yet to fully mature - we have the initial trailer for the upcoming web series "Dangerous Women."

The series stars horror scream queen Ellen Sandweiss, most famous for her work in the initial "Evil Dead" movie, directed by Sam Raimi (the "Spiderman" series of films). She has also gone on to a fairly prolific DVD horror film career.

At present, there is no embeddable version of the trailer. However, it can be easily viewed on Facebook video by visiting the following link: DANGEROUS WOMEN TRAILER.