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Sony NXCAM NEX-FS100 CineAlta
An interchangeable lens AVCHD camcorder using E-Mount lenses.


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Old July 5th, 2012, 07:24 PM   #1
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I just finished a short film shot on FS100

Hi All

I got my FS100 back in November of 2011, and this became the first serious film project I planned to do with the FS100, related the the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, called "International Orange - The Bridge Re-Imagined." I started it in March of this year, shooting through early May of this year.

I used the wonderful Metabones adapter and Canon 24-105 L 4.0 and 17-55 EF-S 2.8 as well as Zacuto EVF. For the picture profile I used Glencolor GLOG B, which was good but he's since made some improvements in that, however by happy accident it really emphasized the 'International Orange" color in the film.

There are a few clips here and there shot with a couple of smaller consumer camcorders, Panasonic tm700 and 900 but 99% was shot on the FS100, and I'm pretty happy with the look.

Please feel free to ask me any and all questions about my experience with the FS100.

Enjoy.

vimeo.com/keithmoreau/international-orange

-Keith

Last edited by Keith Moreau; July 6th, 2012 at 11:28 AM. Reason: changed some spelling errors
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Old July 6th, 2012, 11:43 AM   #2
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Re: I just finished a short film shot on FS100

Looks pretty good, there are a few whip pans that make me cross-eyed. Are you using any kind of counter balance for the handheld stuff? Maybe you can stabilize it a bit in post?
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Old July 6th, 2012, 12:04 PM   #3
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Re: I just finished a short film shot on FS100

Hi Paul

Thanks for watching. Yeah, I'm hoping that most people will overlook some of the shakiness and just get into the story. There are a couple really fast whip pans right at the head I think that puts people off balance. But I left that in as a kind of unconventional 'establishing shot' for the film.

I have all kinds of handheld rigs, and my main rig is kind of home-brewed and unconventional based on the Tiffen Steadistick for shoulder height shots. In this case a lot of it was kneeling and/or at waist-level with no rig just handheld pressing against my stomach or chest to get below the kids with the Zacuto EVF raised about 6" and facing upward in order to capture the kids at eye level or below, who are around 4' tall.

Some of the handheld work was a creative choice to emphasize the phrenetic and spontaneous nature of the subject, the class and the kids. I do have the ability to have a counter-balance, but I usually don't use it in these situations as it adds bulk and weight and here it wouldn't have worked with the mostly waist level orientation.

Again, thanks for watching.

-Keith
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Old July 7th, 2012, 03:55 AM   #4
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Re: I just finished a short film shot on FS100

Well, I most certainly got into the story Keith, a story told in a very engaging manner; congratulations – very well done. Your choice of background music was masterful in that the mood was created but so unobtrusively. The freneticism at the beginning came across without being too disruptive and the portrait interviews against the white backdrops made for an interesting contrast. I thought the way you heightened the drama at 9.35 with the sound track was about perfect.

Couple of questions: I haven’t used the FS100 so I’m ignorant when it comes to the image quality but I did note a considerable amount of noise (I downloaded the original 1 gig file) for instance the artist’s charcoal sweater at 0.52 into the film. Is that just inherent in the FS100, or what? How was the room lit? How did you capture the audio (other than the mic on the artist)?

I didn’t notice where you used the ‘consumer’ cams. Does that mean you could have used the consumer cams to shoot the complete piece? What did the FS100 contribute to the project, specifically? If you had the choice of any camera whatsoever to shoot this sort of thing what might you chose? Just curious!

Bottom line for me; loved it - beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 10:54 AM   #5
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Re: I just finished a short film shot on FS100

John - thanks for watching as well as the compliments. It seems to you 'got' many of the things I was trying to accomplish here, and that is gratifying.

Let me try to address your technical questions:

Noise in the FS100:

The lighting situation in the school was not very good, I had the gain up to +18 or +21 a lot. I did bring lighting rigs, but I chose not to use them as they would have distracted from the class as well as would have been an additional factor in the shot composition. I decided to shoot natural light and use the amazing low light capabilities of the FS100 to try to capture the piece. I also didn't always shoot wide open, and in many cases I used the Canon 24-105 L lens at 4.0 or 5.6, which is stopping down the light even more. This contributed to the noisiness.

I do believe one of the biggest things contributing to the noisiness, however, was the use of the Glencolor GLOG B picture profile - the early version. I don't know if you are familiar with this profile, or any of the profiles available, but early on it was recognized that the FS100 built-in profiles just didn't cut it. This is usually the case, with these camcorders, they always need to be tweaked. It was the case with my Sony EX1, and even more so with the FS100.

So I did a few tests with that profile, but not exhaustive tests, before I decided to use it to shoot the piece. Then when I started with it, I was kind of committed, I didn't want to have a different look throughout the different shooting days. I did see the noise in the rushes, but I thought the noise wasn't too distracting and was somewhat organic and added to the grittiness of the classroom setting, just adding a subtle edge to the film, so I just went with it. I figured if it didn't work I could post-process it to reduce the noise. Also the way these GLOG profiles work is they tend to raise the overall black level, where the noise resides. When you do color correction in post, you bring the black level down and with it comes the noise. Again I thought it would go away in post or be less noticeable.

So, as I found out later, some of the assumptions by the provider of this profile, though good guesses, were not necessarily correct. (Frank Glencaim of Germany, wonderful filmmaker, technical guru, one of Sony's beta testers). It turns out that raising the black level in the profile really does nothing good. It doesn't help later, all it does is magnify the noise in the darkest blacks, which you normally wouldn't see, up in an area you would see. He has since revised that profile and he and others have noted that change and newer profiles do this better.

I also made a creative decision in post to not lower the black levels back down to 0. Bringing the black level down to 0 is usually the 'rule' when doing color correction. It increases the contrast and makes the images 'pop' more. I decided not to do this according to the rule for a couple reasons: 1) I liked the look of the slightly raised black level, it adds just a bit to the dreamy nature of the setting, looks more like film, 2) Technically, stretching the black levels down, with that GLOG, would result in 'banding' in the shadows - another disadvantage in using a LOG type profile on a 8-bit camcorder.

That being said, there is noise in the FS100, it is not a completely noise-free camcorder, it is not a miracle worker. You can't use gains of +18 or higher and not get noise, it will be there. Depending on the subject matter and the profile you use, you will see it. However, it it probably the best camcorder you can get for low light, combined with fast lenses.

Why the FS100 vs the other camcorders?

If the entire piece was shot with my Panasonic TM700 and TM900, you would definitely know it (maybe not my EX1 but I didn't use it for the classroom shooting). There are really just maybe 4 shots that use these other camcorders, and because they are spread out and go by quickly, it's hard to notice. However, I had to do extensive work on these clips, including using Neat video noise reducer, to even get these close.

There are a few factors in my use of the FS100, the primary reason is creative control over depth of field. Because of the Super 35mm sensor, I have the ability to choose to create shallow depth of field (DOF), which adds to the 'film' look and emphasizes a subject because I can defocus other parts of the image, either foreground or background. Another reason is the low light sensitivity. I also have the ability to choose all kinds of still photography lenses with the E-Mount on the FS100, with the appropriate adapters. I previously shot using Canon DSLRs, like the 7D, 5D MkII, so I have a lot of pricey Canon glass. With the Metabones EOS to E mount adapter, I can use all my Canon lenses and have in-camera control over aperture and it powers the Image stabilization in those lenses that offer it. A lifesaver!

With cheaper consumer camcorders, while theoretically the could achieve a similar quality image in terms of resolution and noise in ideal conditions as the FS100, they have severe limitations is their lens quality, their light sensitivity, ability to adjust their picture profiles, and lack of control over DOF.

If I had my complete choice of camcorder to shoot this, I would still choose the FS100 (or the FS700 - I have one on order). If budget were not a factor, I might choose the Canon C300 or C500, but the C300 is more than twice as expensive as the FS700, however I think that choice would have worked as well, it has similar characteristics in low-light as the FS series, and probably has a better image, but it is also $16K.

So I hope I've addressed your questions, please post back with any more, and again, thanks for watching!

-Keith

PS, I just started a podcast where I talk about thing like this, and my choices.

You can subscribe to it here (it's not on iTunes Store yet, but submitted)

in iTunes application, go to 'advanced/subscribe to podcast'

And put in this URL(without the quotes):

"http://techmovepodcast.com/podcasts/TechMove.xml"
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Old July 7th, 2012, 03:16 PM   #6
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Re: I just finished a short film shot on FS100

Thanks Keith, most helpful, detailed and interesting. I figured low light levels might have forced the gain situation. You have an EX1 (as do I) and am I correct in presuming shooting with that cam would have resulted in noisier footage and little DoF control.

The question regarding audio capture in that setting any comments?

Oh, one further question; the music - what was it as in title and artist, if you can share that I would grateful.

Cheers...
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Old July 7th, 2012, 03:41 PM   #7
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Re: I just finished a short film shot on FS100

Quote:
Originally Posted by John McCully View Post
Thanks Keith, most helpful, detailed and interesting. I figured low light levels might have forced the gain situation. You have an EX1 (as do I) and am I correct in presuming shooting with that cam would have resulted in noisier footage and little DoF control.
John, yes the EX1 would have probably been noisier than the FS100, or at least as noisy, and there would have been a lot less shallow depth in most shots. You would also probably have to use a totally open aperture, and the EX1 lens at that aperture is not the best, the sweet spot is between f2.0 and f5.6 so you'd also get more chromatic aberration and distortion around the edges of the frame. Back in 2008 when I first got my EX1, I also got a Letus Extreme adapter to put on SLR lenses. It was impractical and added a huge amount of bulk and weight to the setup as well as reduced the light coming into the camcorder. When the 7D came out I immediately sold the Letus (but kept the excellent EX1 - it's still going strong) and used the relatively tiny DSLR to get the same control over DOF and that was the start of it all, for a lot of people. Then I got the 5D MK II soon after, and fought with both of those until the FS100 came out. Now those are being sold in favor of a 5D MK III for times when I choose to still use a DSLR over the FS100. But honestly I don't go for the 5D anymore. It's more of a backup if I have a second skilled shooter.

Quote:
The question regarding audio capture in that setting any comments?
Oh, sorry not to answer this question in my first response: I used all the sound I could on this piece. In addition to a directional lav mic that was connected to a mini recorder on the artist-teacher's body, I used the supplied shotgun microphone on the FS100. In fact the one that comes with the FS100 is a really good mic, I like the sound a lot and it rivals or exceeds my $1000+ microphones. An unexpected benefit from the FS100, I hope they keep the same one on the FS700. I also used sound from the other camcorders, which were also recording 5.1 sound. Those came in handy a few times when I was making noise on my FS100 and adjusting things and that sound was not usable, I searched for replacements sounds from those camcorders for a couple of spots and luckily they were usable with a little cleanup.

Quote:
Oh, one further question; the music - what was it as in title and artist, if you can share that I would grateful.
The music and licensing credit is actually in the credits in film, see if you can find it, it obviously wasn't as prominent as it could have been. I'm also a musician and composer, and augmented the soundtrack a bit as the original music was only guitar and I wanted to create some dynamics in spots with strings and percussion. I used to try to create all my own soundtracks, but it is soooo time-consuming and you know what, most people didn't notice it or even ask about it. So now I usually license it and leave that work up to people that do it all the time and it works out. My musical background does come in handy because I usually need to rearrange the licensed music to fit the films and I have the ability to do this so it isn't noticed and is musical in nature.

Thanks again for your input, much appreciated.

-Keith
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Old July 7th, 2012, 04:19 PM   #8
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Re: I just finished a short film shot on FS100

Ah, yes, there in the credits of course. Sorry, I missed that, and the excellent ending.

Thanks for the audio info and yes, always good to have more than one (more than two in fact) source. It is said that a good soundtrak is largely invisible while doing what it should do regarding mood, emotional space creation. I think that is more or less true however I notice, as I'm sure you do, but the average viewer should not, more or less.

Cheers...
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