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Production | Tech

NAB Roundup 2013: Cameras

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Las Vegas is known for its buffets, and the NAB Show at the Vegas Convention Center is a grand smorgasbord of technology.

The floor exhibits fill over 800,000 square feet. 92,000 attendees crowd around 1500 exhibitors showing the latest products and services in TV and radio broadcasting, film and video production and postproduction, cloud computing, entertainment technology, file-based workflows, 3D visuals, and pro audio. . . . CONTINUE READING: NAB Roundup 2013: Cameras

Tech

NAB 2012 Preview

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I’m winging to Las Vegas for a couple of days to attend the NAB Show, the annual technical meeting and equipment show of the National Association of Broadcasters. In particular, I’m interested to see the latest digital cinema cameras, some recently released, some newly announced this week. I’m especially intrigued by an excellent summary in nofilmschool.com, which compares the newest digital cameras by resolution and price. And as always, I’ll also be looking at new camera accessories and lighting gear at the show. Watch for more reports coming up soon! . . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2012 Preview

Tech

NAB 2011: Digital Cinema Camera Shootout

During the recent NAB Show in Las Vegas, I attended a panel discussion and screening of a series of tests called the Single Chip Camera Evaluation. The SCCE shootout, produced by an independent, ad hoc group named Image Quality Geeks, compared 11 single-chip digital cinema cameras, along with two 35mm film emulsions. These extensive tests, designed for “apples-to-apples” comparisons, provided a comprehensive look at the following cameras.

. . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2011: Digital Cinema Camera Shootout

Tech

NAB 2011: Cameras

Manufacturers showed tons of new gear of all kinds at this month’s NAB Show in Las Vegas. Because my time at the show was limited, I focused primarily on new professional digital video cameras.

Some of these cameras were also involved in a 12-camera shootout – the Single Chip Camera Evaluation, a screening presented by Image Quality Geeks. More on this soon. Over the next two posts, I’ll preview a number of impressive new cameras introduced at or just before this NAB.

. . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2011: Cameras

Tech

NAB 2011: Back to Vegas

The first time I went to the NAB Show, I wore camouflage fatigues and marched through hippies.

I was working the show for Ampex, the television equipment company that had invented videotape. During the 80s, they were buying Sony professional video camera parts, assembling them in Ampex factories, and branding and marketing them as their own. One of their promotions at that time showed a photo of their new, integrated camcorders with a camouflage paint job and the caption “Guerrillacam.”

These Ampex products, based on the Sony 200 and 300 Betacam camcorders, represented a huge improvement in portability. Before this time, most professional video shooting was done either in a two-piece configuration (with camera connected to a separate recorder) . . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2011: Back to Vegas

Tech

NAB 2011: Show Preview

The National Association of Broadcasters annual trade show takes place next week at the Las Vegas Convention Center. I’ll be there for a couple of days to check out the new cameras, among other things, and I’ll post several reports from there.

Here are some announced/rumored items I’ll be taking a close look at:

A prototype for the next (and most advanced) addition to Sony’s Cine Alta line, a new camera for digital cinematography with a sensor greater than 4K. Jon Fauer, in an article in Film and Digital Times, says the new camera will shoot from 1-72 fps in normal mode, and 1-120 fps in High Frame Rate mode.

. . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2011: Show Preview

Production | Tech | Travel

Around the World in 11 Days: Part 3

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Our flight to Japan on Virgin Atlantic is half-empty and quite comfortable. Virgin’s Premium Economy seats, which our travel agent says were not much more expensive than standard Economy, provide better food, better seats, better video, and more legroom.

Our flight leaves London at 1 pm Sunday. Twelve hours later, after flying nearly 6000 miles east across nine time zones, we arrive at Narita Airport outside Tokyo, where, somehow, it’s 10 am Monday. In San Francisco it’s still 5 pm Sunday, 17 hours earlier than Tokyo. None of us sleep much on the plane. The time change has us oddly discombobulated. Our midday departure and the availability of hundreds of movies (we’re all film buffs) both mitigate against sleep, as does, oddly, our enjoyment of the extra comfort on this flight.

. . . CONTINUE READING: Around the World in 11 Days: Part 3

Production | Tech | Travel

Around the World in 11 Days: Part 1

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The low, warm winter sun slants in on the four of us as we shuffle our gear on the curb at San Francisco Airport, en route to England and Japan.

I’ve joined engineer Jim Rolin, producer Lori Wright, and director Randy Field outside the International Terminal. We count cases (13 plus carry-ons), then take a moment to bask in the balmy Northern California weather: just under 60 degrees this afternoon, on the fourth day of the new year.

We know that the United Kingdom has just dug itself out of pre-holiday blizzards and freezing snow-and-ice storms that closed down Heathrow Airport in London, our first port of call, for days. Manchester, England, our eventual destination nearly four hours’ drive . . . CONTINUE READING: Around the World in 11 Days: Part 1

Production | Travel

Eerie Times at USP

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In Brazil, our story was based in Ribeirão Preto, (pronounced something like “HEE-bay-roan PRAY-toe,” though all Brazilians laughed at our attempts to say it) a city of a half million, three or four hours inland from São Paulo. Our final shoot was at the local campus of the Universidade de São Paulo. In search of an interview background that was neither a glass hotel nor a slum, our local production assistant Erica took us to the university.

The Ribeirão Preto campus of “OOS-pee,” as USP is known, is spread out, tree-covered, and rural. Driving through campus, Randy chose a spot in front of a blue house with some mottled light coming through the trees in the background, then . . . CONTINUE READING: Eerie Times at USP

Production | Travel

Continental Drift

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I’m hunkering down at home right now after a three-week trip through Europe and South America to shoot a global corporate medical film. Our route took four of us – and 13 cases of video and audio gear – drifting through the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and Brazil. Plus one day shooting here in the San Francisco Bay Area last Monday.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we go to China to finish shooting the project. It will be the fourth continent on this shoot for DIT Jim Rolin and me. Director David Rathod and producer Anne Sandkuhler joined us for the travel legs in Europe. After shooting at three locations in the US, director Randy Field and producer Lori Wright then joined Jim . . . CONTINUE READING: Continental Drift

Production | Tech

Shooting into the Void: PBS Science Series ‘Closer to Truth’

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Presidents and paupers, musicians and moviemakers, actors and athletes, writers and regular Joes – I’ve shot hundreds and hundreds of interviews, perhaps thousands, sometimes 25 or more in a single day. But shooting for “Closer to Truth,” the PBS science series on “Cosmos, Consciousness, and God,” presents a unique challenge.

Start with the quest for a dramatic but natural lighting look, while shooting two people talking, with two cameras. Then add the factor that both cameras are moving constantly. Because the cameras will see more than 180 degrees of background during their slow journeys around the room, there’s nowhere to place stands for backlights. And front light just won’t do – flat and boring, out of the question.

. . . CONTINUE READING: Shooting into the Void: PBS Science Series ‘Closer to Truth’

Production | Tech

Living in Oblivion: On Creating, then Destroying Your Original Video Media

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Preserving the sanctity of your original media has always been one of the cardinal rules of production.

In my first week of film school, I learned about work print. The original film negative is used once to make this cloned copy, then the original is locked away, presumably in a climate-controlled vault environment. The work print is used for editing, with all the scratches, tears, gouges and dirt endemic to the mechanical film editing process. The pristine original negative is only brought out at the end of the process to make printing masters, then locked away again.

When I first started shooting video, one advantage it had over film was that the tapes could be erased and reused, or . . . CONTINUE READING: Living in Oblivion: On Creating, then Destroying Your Original Video Media