Monday, August 31, 2009

RED In The Vertical Position

This past weekend I took part in a conference at LA Film School. The event was called Collision Conference, where still and motion converge. The event hosted by Images Mechanics featured a host of renowned speakers and lecturers from the still and motion world. Ted from RED, Shane Hurlbut, Vincent Laforet, Rodney Charters, Liam Finn, Alexx Henry, Frank Rohmer, Michael Britt and Illya Friedman.

The conference featured two cameras, the RED One and the Canon 5D Mark2. There were vendors from Red Rock Micro, Zeiss, Canon, Bogen, Ikan, Samy's Camera and more.

Demo's were held twice daily featuring the Canon 5D and the RED shot in vertical orientation (sideways). The reason behind this way of shooting is so a photographer can shoot for vertical ads and signage. Many of the new ads for automotive, cosmetics, movies, and just about everything else are using this format, and now with motion. I gave the RED in vertical demo, using the RED modified to sit vertically. Fairly straight forward, but I went off the path when I showed how I finished the edit in Photoshop.

Here a shoot that took 5 minute shot and finish magazine ad.

View large version HERE,


Friday, August 28, 2009

WOW!! Entertainment Weekly to have 1st video in a magazine

Photographers and filmmakers will have new territory to shoot for, the new video ads appearing in magazines and books. This new technology is about to explode, and it all starts appearing on September 18, 2009 in Entertainment Weekly. So get out your REDs and your Canon 5D Marks 2's, Final Cut, Photoshop, and lets get busy. Oh you don't do motion? Better learn FAST!!!

Read on below:

From Digital Journal.Com:

Entertainment Weekly magazine is going high tech with a video-chip ad in the September 18 issue. The video will feature CBS's new fall TV season and Pepsi Max.

The revolutionary issue will only be sent to a few thousand who subscribe in New York City and Los Angeles. If you live elsewhere or want to buy a special copy at the newsstand you're out of luck.
The magazine is using Americhip for their technology. Each battery powered microchip can carry up to 40 minutes of video.
The video screen can be recharged with a tiny USB cord after the battery runs out. The average battery life is 65 to 70 minute

More info from the Wall Street Journal.

Editing content from Canon 5D Mark 2 and RED in Photoshop

What a day, what a day!!! I'm so lucky that I know brilliant people. While at Image Mechanics today, I learned that I could actually edit footage in Photoshop, can you believe it? Now I'm in love. PS has the tools I'm used to, and it can handle the content I throw at it. I will wait until the Collision Conference to reveal the info, but my friends, it's simply amazing.

I worked on two clips from RED, started in RED Alert, and ended in PS. I give much props to Michael Britt of Image Mechanics for his tireless efforts at the computer, tweaking and twisting until finally an image was born. He passed the knowledge onto me, and it's up for grabs at the Collision Conference. Below is but a sample (a position only piece), so let your imagination go wild. The REAL final will be shown at the conference.

I was taken aback at the images produced by the RED, it was as if I had discovered a brand new camera. So sharp, so kick ass, I'm in love again.

If you happen to notice that gray card on the cart, it's not there for show, it's my way of delivering clean neutral color to my clients. It's the only fast way to do 1st color for digital capture.

OK, so if that's not enough, I have the new Eizo 232W, in vertical orientation, calibrated, and profiled, tis awesome. I'll be showing you how to do this at the conference.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Demo at the Collision Conference

The Collision Conference hosted by Image Mechanics is this Saturday and Sunday at LA Film School. Ted Schilowitz will be one of the key speakers along with other notables in the filmmaking and still world. I will be demonstrating the RED in vertical orientation for those seeking to shoot vertical for some of the new vertical motion ads.

Plus I'll have Eizo's new CG 232W monitor on display, I will also demo how easy and accurate this monitor is to software calibrate and profile on set. The 232W is a perfect viewing devise for the RED, and my guess is that it will be the de facto color reference monitor in the very near future (no more calibrating by eye).


The RED Tech In Action

Today I worked with the Cortez Brothers Production Company on a commercial for Nestles directed and shot by Anton Klima.

The set up you see is are two MacBook Pro's and a Mac Pro, three Dell monitors and a AJA converter which can take a signal from the RED via SDI, convert it, send it to a MAC running Final Cut (log and capture), and in turn the Mac can display both real time "Live" video, but also record and playback each take on the fly. The second MacBook Pro was dedicated to ingestion of the RED footage via R3D Data manager and first pass color correction, and the Mac Pro was on set editing station.

The playback process takes HDMI to DVI cable plus HDMI to HDMI and SDI cables to complete the set up, but in the end, you have a complete video village able to record and playback on one monitor, display "live" capture on another monitor and even print files from still frame grab through Final Cut via Canon printer.

Jason Durdon a editor and computer whiz at Cortez Brothers was the idea man, and I helped. There are a few tech problems to keep on top of, but it is stable and will aid in your commercial, feature or TV shoots.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

RED a Different Orientation

I've been asked by many still photographers what is the option of shooting RED vertically. Up to now there have been few solutions and fewer tests. Today while at Images Mechanic in Santa Monica California, Michael Britt and his team tested one possible solution. While there are a few companies making products to shoot vertically with the RED, there is little product availablility when you may need it. Which leaves you with doing it yourself.

After a hardware store run, a little surgery, a bit of trial and error, some RED spare parts, the Image Mechanics team, built a beautiful vertical shooting solution with minimum gear.

Next came the fun of reconfiguring the RED EVF, LCD, and RED cradle to make it possible to monitor the image vertically and easily manipulate the RED's camera menus and buttons.

A model was being prepped in makeup while the RED was set up, and once the MU was complete we began our test. I have to say the only thing that was truly needed was a start/stop control for the RED. Due to the new config the camera's record buttons are in tight not so easy to get to places. Other than that it was as easy as shooting in the horizontal position.

As you can see in the photos above, we shoot this green screen, and I'll keep you informed with regards to shooting and keying out for green screen in post.

Thanks to the team at Image Mechanics, Michael, Greg, Pip and Jimmy for a great job and a important test for those wanting to shoot vertical.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Collision Conference - Image Mechanics Expo

As I mentioned in my last post 30 minutes ago, RED demos are only just beginning.

A first ever conference of learning for the still photographer aimed at motion, and in particular with the RED and Canon 5D MK 2 cameras is at hand. I believe this is something you can not ignore, this is the future, this is the way our business with be conducted in the future.

The two day conference will showcase the RED and Canon 5D MK2 along with a host of camera and shooting accessories. This is a mini expo just for us still photographers, and I'm totally excited. They have key speakers from Ted Schilowitz of RED, directors Shane Hurlbut, Vincent Laforet, Rodney Charters (he's a one man run and gun with RED), photographer Alexx Henry, Frank Rohmer FCP editing instructor of Lynda.Com, and many others.

This will be a full on "HOW-TO" with demos by respected professionals.

The event will be held at the Los Angeles Film School, located at 6363 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, CA on Saturday and Sunday August 29th and 30th 2009. Conference passes are available immediately from for $200 per day or $350 for a two-day pass.

For more information on the , click here, Collision Conference

Pier 59 Hosted a RED Demo

On Thursday of this past week, Pier 59 Studio (Santa Monica) hosted a RED demo. The demo was co-hosted with B2 Pro.

One of their main studios was filled with photographers, studio mangers, reps and photo assistants eager to learn more about this new capture device. The demo with two RED camera packages displayed two ways in which to shoot RED, vertical and horizontal orientations. A brief overview of RED set up and workflow was featured, followed by Q and A from the crowd.

It was good to see that photographers are slowly moving toward motion. This is one of the first demos of it's kind, but surely not the last. Look for more and more still capture firms and studios offering RED in the coming months.


Michael Cioni of LightIron Digital on shooting resolutions for RED

I had the pleasure of working and learning from Michael Cioni of LightIron Digital. He is a valuable resource to the RED community as he has overseen post on hundreds of RED projects.

If you every wondered which resolution is best for your project, here is a breakdown in layman's terms courtesy of Michael.

So here's the skinny-

4K2:1 is no longer an ideal shooting format. My recommendation is not to use it because there is no 2:1 delivery format. 1-2 years ago, 2:1 made more sense because QuadHD wasn't available and 2:1 and was necessary for some early system integration (like real-time Scratch playback). Though I like 2:1 as an aesthtic aspect ratio, it makes for difficult conversions to 1:78 and 1:85.

In my opinion, 4K 16:9 should pretty much only be used for theatrical releases (actual 2K and up). If a RED project goes to HD, you probably want to stick with 4KHD, or QUAD HD. QuadHD is a great format because it is exactly 4x bigger (200%) than 1080p HD. 4K16:9 is actually a bit bigger than QuadHD. When you scale down 4K16:9 to HD, you do not have whole numbers (because you can't divide 4096 by 1920) without remainders. However, if you take Quad HD (3840 by 1920) you get "2" - a whole number with no remainders.

That means you get all sorts of advantages with QuadHD:

• Slightly smaller file sizes
• Faster renders to 1080 (upto 33% faster than 4K16:9)
• Better use of the Proxy Movies in 1080p
• Sharper images at 1080


YES, it is true. When you down sample 4K 16:9 to 1080 or 2k, you get those remainders - those are actually square pixels of one aspect ratio being crammed into another aspect ratio. That means you do not have what is called a "pixel-for-pixel" downsample. When you use QuadHD, you literally eliminate half of the vertical and horizontal pixels, but there is no sub-sapling applied since the numbers are even remainders. This is a great way to do conversions - which is made easy by the fact Red shoots Wavelets (which love to be divisible by 2). That's why you get all those quick and easy 4K, 2K, 1K and 1/2K QT movies so easily - it's literally just doing the division on the fly by 2. The only problem is, when in 4K16:9, the division is not so good with 1920x1080. Where as in Quad HD, you are perfect. The result is a SHARPER image in 1080p from QuadHD vs. 4K16:9. Though it is not a whole lot sharper, it can make a difference for visual effects compositing, rotoscoping and keying. It also makes a difference in very busy wide shots or perhaps shots that suffer from tricky focus situations.

Overall, if you are not doing a 2K or 4K master, there is little to no benefit to shooting 4K 16:9. Period. The only thing I would look out for is that QuadHD is going to push into your lenses a TINY bit- making a 50mm act more like a 55mm. That may be a deal killer for some DPs, but the overall image quality, speed and mobility of the images may be a better trade-off.

A good week for learning

It's been a minute since my last post, but a lot has been happening behind the scenes.

As I mentioned on a previous post, I had used the Canon 5D MK 2 for a clients welcome video for the web. While this was easy to set up and use, it was not so easy to color correct. I'm a big fan of the perfect skin tones in both still and motion work, and when things are off, it really take away from the image or movie. To date I've seen a lot of footage that did not look real to me, while clean color can be achieved, it can be a long process in some cases.

Since the 5D does not shoot RAW motion, you don't have the advantage of using a RAW processing software to make changes and clean up your image without destruction, with RED, it is such an easy process. Using RED Alert is similar to using C1 Pro for still work. You first make sure you have a gray card in your image (and make sure it's in the key light source and not shaded), then bringing that info into RA, you place your square pointer on the gray and click on the WB (white balance tab). Your image will instantly shift to neutral, and all of your RGB values will be very close in value. From that point on, do not touch or move your color temp or tint sliders, those are set!

Now you can get creative because your image is neutral.

I've also been learning FCP (Final Cut Pro). For those new to it, there is a large learning curve, but there are many places with free tutorials. YouTube, Creative Cow, and Lynda.Com all have video tutorials on how to edit your project start to finish.

My one wish it that FCP had tools for color correction like those found in Photoshop. I had a background I wanted to clean up as pure white without globally effecting the entire image. While this is possible it has to be done one frame at a time, and let's see, at 30fps for a 2 min pieces that's three thousand six hundred frames. Well, that's not my idea of fun. Hopefully future releases of FCP will give us tools to help gray (white) balance an image easier.

In the mean time, if you are shooting a project with the 5D, light as well and as clean as you can. Shoot a gray card, under each light temp change, and keep it simple.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Canon 5D MKII in use

Over the past few days, I've had the opportunity to work with the Canon 5D Mark 2. I chose to use it, because the form factor of the camera was small, and the project was light. I used it in two different situations, first a welcome video for a new clients web site, and the other run and gun interviews in various locations.

The welcome video was in a controlled environment, and the 5D along with a Beachtek DXA-5D and shot gun mic was the gear used. It's very easy to use the video option on the 5D, pretty straight forward, and the results are very good. I edited the footage with FCP, and all went well. This was shot using tungsten lighting.

The run and gun interviews were a bit more problematic. I did not have one subject I had two or three, and the focus became an issue. While for most of the interviews, I used the AF-ON button to focus, but for other shots, I found I had to manually focus, and without a larger monitor, it's very difficult. Also in a controlled environment I did not have a problem with the length of a take, if I did, I could just do another take, but with interviews, if it ran over 12 minutes, the camera would stop recording without notice, leaving me with gaps in the interview.

For lighting I used the Lite Panels Micro Pro. This is a very cool device, but again, it has limitations. It runs on 6 AA batteries, and there is no battery level indicator to let you know you are running low, it just slowly dims, and the color temp changes. There is a option for AC adapter, but the rental house did not have one. The light throw is not far and the angle of light spread is not that wide, so you need to be close to your subject, and they need to be close together, but it is light in weight, and convenient.

There is no histogram on the 5D in video mode, as on a RED, and you pretty much judge your exposure by the on camera LCD. Not shooting RAW is a bummer, but the images look pretty good. I'll post more as I finish my editing.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

RED L.A. User Group

RED L.A. Users Group hosts a monthly gathering of RED devotees and practitioners. The event held at Kappa Studios in Burbank is a great place to learn, network, and chow down.

This month the venue was packed as always with members from all departments in the television, film and the still industry. As you make my way past the buffet, you will more than likely see a familiar face, chat for a minute before moving on. The great thing about the RED society it that it is evolving, and pulling in new artists and technicians into a digital workflow.

Each month new products, software, and workflows are introduced and discussed by professionals in this field. As a RED Tech I was particularly interested in IRIDAS SpeedGrade OnSet, presented by Clark Graff. Besides having a wonderful discussion regarding on set data and color management, Clark shared his experience with this new system which is both Mac and Windows platform. The discussion went into the use of hardware/software calibrated monitors such as those by Eizo which is the starting point for a controlled system. I think the days of calibrating by eye are on their way out. In the digital still industry, monitors are hardware calibrated daily to allow you to view what is REAL, verses what is not. The use of an 18% gray card as a reference (in KEY light) is the next step to keeping control of your color workflow on set. The ability to neutralize your picture (no color cast), is quick and simple, and can help your colorist nail the look fast and with more accuracy. With tools like IRIDAS SpeedGrade OnSet, DP's and photographers can see from the beginning what their project with look like on screen. Technology is changing everything.

Clark also had shared the room with Ricardo Reyes of Tekram. Together they showed and discuss storage solutions for on set data management. Products such as CineRAID and Areca systems.

KinoFlo was present with Tom Jacobs demonstrating the BarFly Diva and Vista lighting systems.

PF-Plate is a new alternative accessory for RED One. It's an option for the mini to standard BNC and XLR cables, plus a handy HDMI outlet. With this accessory you can mount a small mic right on camera for scratch sound without the clumsy and bulky wires and cables.

Andrew Wilding screened his first short shot with RED, Piano Man in the Member's Showcase area. After which Andrew fielded questions regarding the prep, shooting and post production of his film.

Besides the buffet, my favorite area at this event is always the RED Owner's Circle. This is to me a place to discuss everything from new gear and accessories, techniques in workflow, trouble shooting tips. Owners, renters, and first time users are always welcome, and the discussions here help each of us on set. This month Scott Snare, the group moderator, treated the crowd to his new set of RED Pro Primes, and the new RED 18-85mm. I just had one question, where is my 18-85mm? Backorder is a bitch.

Please feel free to share or comment.