REDs for the rest of us? The $1995 Blackmagic Cinema Camera and $995 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera are interchangeable-lens, single-sensor cameras with raw recording capability, capturing wide-dynamic-range, log-encoded images to CinemaDNG files. They also record ProRes422(HQ) and (for the Cinema Camera) DNxHD Quicktime files using either log or Rec.709-compatible encoding, for those preferring a more Read More
Last Friday saw the release of Version 2.0 firmware for the Sony PMW-F5 and F55 Large Single Sensor cine cameras. The new firmware brings many enhancements such as higher frame rates, ‘scopes in the EVF, and 2K XAVC (disclosure: Art Adams and I have been playing with beta versions for a while; Art’s just shot two projects Read More
When choosing a tripod the range of models available is confusing and baffling. There are so many different tripod weights, payloads and heights to choose from, so it can be difficult. Also while there is such a thing as a good all round tripod (as we shall se in a bit) there is also no such thing as one tripod that will be perfect for every shoot. The most important thing to consider when choosing a tripod is the payload that it will need to carry. This is the total weight of the camera, lens, batteries as well as any support equipment like rods and rails or monitors attached to the camera. Don’t underestimate how heavy this lot can get. You will want a tripod that can comfortably carry the payload you have, you never want to be right on the upper limit.
Proper exposure in HD is not always easy. Meter readings don’t always match what the camera sees. Zebras tell us where highlights are clipped but that’s about it. False color gives us broad stroke references… but the most useful tool overall is the waveform monitor. The problem is that there are two kinds: both are extremely useful, but for completely different things.
Ikan’s D7w is a 7” field monitor with SDI and HDMI inputs, 1080p compatibility, and a variety of useful display modes: false color, clipping guide, pixel-for-pixel mode, focus peaking, waveform monitor (WFM), RGB parade, vectorscope, and more. At a mere $1300, it looks like an incredible bargain. Is it? I took the plunge; here‘s what I found. Ikan showed an interesting lineup of affordable, good-looking monitors at NAB 2013. At Cine Gear Expo LA 2013 in early June, they were offering several of those monitors at show-special prices. I took a punt on a D7w, which had been enticing me since NAB: I’m in need of a decent set of engineering ‘scopes for HD work, and the D7w looked like a great way to get ‘em on the cheap.
Firelight and window light have a lot in common. They both require multiple light sources to look convincing. Here are my favorite tricks for reproducing both. I first learned the “strips of multicolored gels waved in front of a light” firelight trick in film school, and I never found it very convincing. I don’t get a lot of opportunities to use flame bars, and I know there are ways to emulate firelight using multiple china balls with different gels on them. My favorite technique came about by simply staring into a fireplace for a while.
There’s one place in every set that’s never going to be seen, and that’s directly behind the camera. Light from this direction is generally considered uninteresting but if you have a nuanced eye you can create some really interesting looks by putting a light in the one spot that every film school teaches students to avoid.
Lighting direction is important, but so is the size of the source. A small non-diffused light placed directly behind the camera is generally doesn’t work well because it makes people and things look obviously lit. There are situations where this kind of lighting does work–we see it all the time in older movies when a female star has to look her best–but for modern work it feels a bit forced.
Over the past few years, many companies have brought to market lens mount adapters. Some of these adapters are simply machined rings that allow for one type of lens’ flanges to fit onto another manufacturer’s camera body. Most of these simple adapters work very well for the most part. Often you will run into a Read More
The Vision blue3 is the third Camera Support System in the blue series, sitting somewhere between the original Vb, and the Vb5 I reviewed last year. The “blueBridge” Small Camera Adapter (SCA) is Vinten’s take, and an extremely well thought out one, on a Centre of Gravity (COG) lifter, a subject I talked about briefly last year in the Vb5 review. The only thing that has changed between the Vb and the Vb3 is a different spring rate. The sticks, case, spreader and head are in all respects identical down to the last detail, but for that spring change. So, if you want all the details, refer to my original Vb review. For this review of the Vision blue3, I’ll skip the usual format and concentrate on the Vb3’s place in the blue hierarchy, the measurable differences between their individual spring rates and, additionally, the effect of using the blueBridge SCA with them both.
Diffusion doesn’t just soften light; it relays light. Here’s how I used a large piece of dense diffusion to light the inside of a car and hide the little known fact that the sun moves.
This spot was the first in a series of six that I shot two years ago for OnLive, a company that specializes in streaming gameplay over the Internet. They went through some rough times but now they’re back and they’ve decided to release these spots as part of a new ad campaign.
My lighting budget had to cover the needs of all six spots over five days, so I had to build an equipment package that worked for everything. This car was the only location that would normally have required some big lights to balance a dark car interior with a day-lit exterior and keep the quality and direction of light consistent over time, but we didn’t have the money for a generator and a couple of large HMIs. Fortunately I had two tricks up my sleeve: an Arri Alexa and a 12′x12′ frame of full grid cloth.