Friday, December 23, 2011

New products for Canon 5D Mark 11

VAF-5D2 Optical Anti-Aliasing Filter

For the 5D Mark II: A solution for 1080p moirĂ© and aliasing

MSRP $385 (USD).

Magic Lantern is an open platform for developing enhancements to the amazing Canon 5D Mark II and 550D/T2i digital SLRs. These cameras are "game changing" for independent film makers:
  • It allows the use of a wide range of lenses (anything that can be adapted to the EF mount).
  • The 5D's 35mm full-frame sensor is larger than the RED ONE's sensor, Super 35 film. It is approximately the size of VistaVision. This means shallower native depth-of-field than anything on the market, except for the Phantom 65.
  • The dynamic range and latitude are close to the capabilities of high-end HD cameras.
  • The low-light performance is currently unrivaled, even by the RED ONE.
But, the software in video mode has limitations, even after the recent 1.1.0 upgrade from Canon that fixed the most glaring manual exposure "bug".
That's where Magic Lantern comes in -- it turns your 5D Mark II into a 5D Mark Free. We've written extensions and widgets that fix many of the annoyances in working with the 5D Mark II on a film or video set. Our first set of fixes are targeted at the audio limitations of the camera, but there are some video enhancements included, too:
  • On-screen audio meters
  • Manual gain control with no AGC
  • Zebra stripes (video peaking)
  • Custom Cropmarks for 16:9, 2.35:1, 4:3 and any other format
  • Control of focus and bracketing

Thanks to Alex of Magic Lantern I have been testing an advanced beta (not yet public) of the new Magic Lantern Unified on the 5D Mark II.
To access the Magic Lantern menu, you press the ‘delete’ button at the bottom left corner of the camera (as on the 600D though it is differently placed on the 5D). The menu on the 5D Mark II is easy to navigate with the joystick. The set key toggles a setting and the picture style key accesses a sub-menu. There’s also a very handy built in user guide and tool tips for each option.

Magic Lantern Unified runs on the 5D off the card, if you take the card out you go back to the official Canon firmware which I find very intuitive. For example you can have one compact flash set up to boot Magic Lantern and one normal one.
The current build works with the latest 5D Mark II firmware – which is 2.1.1. The previous ML by AJ Newman works on 2.0.9. Of course we have all these key guys to thank, Alex, AJ Newman and Trammell, for what the latest Magic Lantern has become.
Features wise, Magic Window gives you a Leica M8 style split screen focussing aid – very nice. It can also confirm focus with green bars, and of course it is windowed so the full shot remains on the LCD. You can turn of AGC, get on-screen audio meters and full manual control over audio. There’s crop marks and black bars for post-crop anamorphic shooting, false colour, waveform, peaking, built in intervalometer operational in movie or stills mode… the list goes on!
I also enjoyed the follow focus using AF motors like the Oki USB controller, where you can use the arrow keys on the back of the camera to rack focus.

The FC1 USB Focus Controller gives the photo and video enthusiast a compact yet powerful device that enhances the capabilities of HD video enabled Canon EOS Digital SLR cameras. Like Canon's EOS Utility, the FC1 uses Canon's USB protocol to allow control of a wide range of functions, but without the limitations and bulk of being tethered to a computer. The device is handheld, weighing under 5 oz. including batteries, and less than 3" in diameter. It is connected to your camera with a standard mini-B to A USB cable, and can be used as a remote control or attached to a rig using a 1/4"-20 mount located on the back of the anodized aluminum enclosure.
The FC1 uses the autofocus motor in lenses to control focus, even while recording video. This also works in any Live View modes, which can be useful for photography. The HDMI output can still be used in tandem with the controller, as well. The nine other switches located around the central focus knob can be used to access important camera functions, such as video start/stop, digital zoom, saving focus points, and adjusting camera settings. If your intended use is as a remote control for a camera mounted on a crane or jib, the FC1 has been successfully tested with non-powered USB extension cables past 25 meters in length.

The LockPort UNIVERSAL protects definitely the fragile output on your camera from tough production abuse with a rock solid universal clamp and a smart mini to full-size HDMI adapter.

LockPort UNIVERSAL highlights
Works with both 5D and 7D cameras.
Saves the “expensive to repair” mini HDMI port on your 5D and 7D camera.
Full-Size HDMI output allows you to use stronger standard cables.
Standard size HDMI plugs locks securely in the socket – no signal loose!
90° FRONT or REAR output editions.
No loose of video signal anymore! The full-size HDMI output has stronger locking capabilities.
Gold plated contacts.
Rock solid UNIVERSAL ultra-low base clamp, can work on every plate, head, sliding plate, rig, support out there.
Better cable layout on your rig set-up.
No longer camera screws, use all the camera screws already out there.
Ready in a few seconds.
Instant reverse output direction set-up.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Future of Digital

As the years end comes to a close it seems like a great idea to speculate on the future of the digital production world.

This year has brought many advancements in acquisition products, post production and digital delivery systems. Some of the most significant changes  for me would include the release of the Scarlet camera and the death of Final Cut Pro for Pro editors.

Ironically this year has also seen the death of Steve Jobs. One of the great visionairies of the digital age.

 As I type away on my Macbook Pro I give many thanks to be able to communicate with the world in such an enjoyable and interactive way all be it using adobe suites rather than apple software.

The world of production has become way more fun and efficient and the delivery systems have radically altered to accommodate to a truly Global market.

The film industry, music industry, print industry and telecommunications industry have all been squished into mobile devices and are being carried around by Homo Sapiens with payment plans.

  So what does the future hold ? Let me get out my virtual crystal ball and suggest a few ideas.

   Certainly the obvious changes to come are resolution and latitude improvements in camera and post workflows.Most cinemas currently project at 2k I see this progressing to 4k fairly rapidly.

   Compression wars are like the VHS Beta wars of the day. Computer codec battles continue in web authoring environments with apples refusal to adopt adobe flash code on ipod and iPhone devices, preferring the Htlm5 programming environment, although I see they have now included Htlm5 in their Adobe flash professional.

The quality of video image you can squeeze down a phone line is getting better and better and family computer entertainment centres have largely already replaced TV. Digital Cable Provides High speed internet and digital Tv at HD quality to most areas nowadays.

  U-tube and Netflix and other streaming websites have become very popular ways of viewing programming in addition to the more traditional Broadcast Tv .

A customer of mine recently asked me if the changes i had made to her video program that day could be viewed on the u-tube upload I had given her the day before. I had to explain to her that I would have to upload it again for her to see the changes, but this got me thinking !

What if a lower res offline edit could live virtually in the cloud and reflect the changes I was making in my timeline. This way a distant client could view the edit and suggest changes without having to wait for a decompression and upload to tube.There are sighns of this beginning to happen check this out for example.

Cloud based tube editing software example.

As far as new Camera technologies go we are expecting a 4Kcanon Dslr this year.

and from red an upgrade to the epic cameras Sensor is expected.

3D is becoming more and more popular , with one of the most anticipated movies being The Hobbit. This is being filmed as we speak on Epic 3D rigs in 5K.

The obvious ways that cameras will improve include greeter sensitivity,greater latitude,greater resolution,greater colour depth and smaller in size.
Being able to shoot in lower light in better quality is not only a camera geeks obsession,it also means  smaller crews with minimal lighting required, and more portable rigs so camera crews are also destined to be much smaller.
I also predict that like some consumer cameras , in camera editing of 5K images will be possible.
There is already talk of modules for different codecs and wireless communication and the possibilities for robotic camera operation are becoming a reality.

I also predict a IMAX equivalent sensor sized camera from red this year !!!

All in all the Future looks good to me.....
Thanks again Graham......

Monday, December 12, 2011

5DMark 11 and Its Audio.

I have been in investigating the various options for improving audio on the 5d Mark 11.
This week I rented a Senheiser Lapel mike for a production I am working on . I had a 1/8 output cord from the mike and recorded directly to the camera, using manual gain controls accessed through the menu controls on the camera.

This gave satisfactory results , although there was no way for me to monitor audio levels while actually recording so got a small amount of distortion on some shots.
The options for improving audio on the 5d mark11 Camera vary in price and Quality.
For optimum quality an external recorder is the best choice such as the zoom h4n for example.

 This allows for 4 mike channel recording with dual xlr inputs.There are many other external recorders available,they vary with their features but mostly give a 24 bit audio sampling that is a great improvement over the 16 bit canon internal audio.
I will be using adobe premiere 's new audio synch features if I choose a dual audio/video recording setup. This video link explains how it works.

Dual System Sound in Adobe Premiere

Other options include the Beachtech 5d adapter that gives Two xlr inputs and feeds into cameras existing audio input on camera.

The reports I have read suggest that the beachteck is noisy and does not allow for batteries to be changed while attached.
The Juice link adapter box is a more expensive but better made option, but is still feeding to the cameras internal 16 bit audio.

I was considering using my MBOX with my laptop as a recording device but have found that it is not supported by lion osx which is a little disappointing. I am considering getting a new input device that would double as a studio input device for voice over and music recording. One such example is made by Avid and costs about $100.00.

The other thing that should be mentioned here is the use of a Hack Software by Magic Lantern. This software can be downloaded for Free and then put on a CF card and uploaded as a scene Profile.

This software is an open source software that provides a huge number of Video related improvements . The most significant improvements this gives for audio is on screen audio meters and headphone out from AV cable.
Part of me is a little nervous about using a non canon hack , but I am considering this.
One other commonly used shotgun mike is the Rode. This will plug straight in to the 5D mark 11 and sit on the hot shoe.

I will be considering all these products as the new year sales come up as I need to expand my audio capabilities .

Hope this Information Helps.
See you next time.