July 6, 2011

The New Adventures of FCPX

I have been looking forward to updating FCP for months. I love FCP but wished it was 64bit, used all the processors of my 8 core Mac Pro, and did not have to conform my files. That is all I want. My wish list was fulfilled, but I am very disappointed.

FCPX is a huge let down for me. No multi-camera, 3rd party plugins, external hardware, easy way of saving, no more Color, or exporting into other programs. There is just too many work a rounds from what I am used to.  FCPX just seems very foreign to me and I do not want to take the time to learn a prosumer app.

I have decided to make the switch to Adobe CS5.5. Premier Pro is very similar to FCP. I have started working on a project and have dived right in. There is a very small learning curve. It is 64bit and tightly tied into Photoshop and After Effects. With a slightly different interface, it is what I have hoped FCP would have become.

I don’t blame Apple in moving FCPX to the masses, but I have seen the writing on the wall. Adobe has to listen to it’s professional users. There is a bit more pressure on it’s developers to make the program constantly improve. Apple has turned into the land of iphones and ipads and iapps. In a couple of months time, I will not have a second thought for Final Cut….Hello Adobe!

June 10, 2011

Mic Shoot-out

I had a chance to do a quick and dirty shoot out of some mics I own.
The mics are:

  • Sanken Cs3e
  • Oktava MK012
  • EV RE50 Handheld
  • Countryman EMW Wired Lav
  • Sanken Cos11 Wireless Lav
  • Stock Lav mic for a Sennheiser G2 Wireless

I fed the mics into a Tascam DR100 recorder and simultaneously sent the feed out of the headphone into the Canon T2i mic input. I was running Magic Lantern for the camera with AGC turned off. No EQ or processing.

I was a little shocked at the results. I was surprised on how good the audio sounded being recorded into the camera. I can hear very little difference between the camera audio and the Tascam.

The Sanken Cs3 sounded pretty good. I played around later with some EQ and it sounded great. Very full and natural. It was also the loudest mic.

The Oktava was impressive for such a cheap mic. A little wooly, but very usable.

The EV RE20 was a little tinny and harsh compared to the booms, but with past experience, it sounds pretty good in a noisy interview environment.

The Countryman were the worst sounding mics I own and will be up for sale soon. the difference was fairly dramatic.

The Sanken Cos11 sounded a little thin compared to the boom mics, but definitely very usable.

The stock Sennheiser mic sounded pretty good for having such a bum rap. I would not hesitate to use it.

May 7, 2011

Finished Video

I have finished the video for Marlin using the feed from the Ipod and sending it wirelessly to the Canon T2i via a Sennheiser G2 feed. For the most part, it worked great.

I had a couple of snags that I didn’t really see coming. 1st one, which was minor, my cables were too long. They became a bit of a jumbled mess. I have since gotten some shorter cables. The other problem was a little bit bigger. For some reason, my transmitter kept turning off. I think it has something to do with the plug from the Ipod. With nothing plugged in, or a wireless mic plugged in, I haven’t been able to duplicate it. Weird but frustrating.

Here is the video:

April 15, 2011

Lightbulb Moment

I have a new music video that I am producing for a guy. We are shooting this guerrilla style. Very low-key and trying not to draw too much attention to ourselves. Lot’s of public spaces and on the Dart train. I am using my Canon T2i and a small travel tripod. So far so good, but what about sound and syncing. I have been racking my brain.

What I have done in the past has been to use a jambox and record into the camera using the built in mic. I have an Ipod that I have different sections of the song on that I feed into the jambox. I then replace the audio with the real song and everything sounds great. It works, but is a pain to take to different locations. Camera, bag, tripod, jambox–starts to be a bunch of items to keep track of.

Wouldn’t it be great to just send the signal from the Ipod straight into my camera. That seems to be the answer. I can split the feed from the headphone out of the Ipod and run a wire to headphones for Marlin and feed the camera for sync. I’ve incorporated headphones into the video as a prop. I then started thinking. how can I get rid of the cable to my camera. What a pain to be tethered to the Ipod.

I must say, I am pretty proud of myself for this one. I have a Sennheiser wireless set up. It is a lav mic hooked into a transmitter and a receiver with a locking connector xlr out. The input and output is a 1/8th inch jack. I have a headphone splitter on the Ipod running a headphone out to Marlin. The other side is fed the 1/8th inch jack to the Sennheiser wireless transmitter. That will be hidden on Marlin. The signal will be fed wireless to the reciever that’s mounted on the hotshoe connector feeding the mic in of my camera. And for the good news….IT WORKED!!!

Camera with Sennheiser G2 Reciever

Ipod with Splitter and G2 Transmitter

Sound quality is actually pretty decent. Much better quality than just using the built in camera mic. Will make syncing that much easier. The only drawback in my testing is that the signal is a mono signal and is recorded to the left side of the stereo field. All in all, not that big of deal.

I will post the finished video and do a follow up in a couple of weeks.

April 5, 2011

Styleez And Rippz

I just finished shooting and editing a video for a group called Styleez and Rippz. Every time I work on a video, I learn something new. For starters, things don’t always go as planned.  People don’t show up, some people are unrehearsed, and some props don’t quite work. I was lucky. For the most part, everything went very smoothly. We had a script to go off of and we followed it. The guys were prepared, looked great, and had a ton of energy.

Just a couple trouble spots. Fist, and a biggie, the song was way too long. Nowadays, attention spans are short. There is a big case of ADD going around. Keep the songs closer to three and a half minutes please. The other,..is relating to the press scenes….cast correctly and ENERGY!

The shoot was a low budget affair. Shot in 4 hours without a lot of wiggle room. I shot using a Canon T2I with Magic Lantern installed. Lenses were a 50 1.4, 17-35 2.8 and a 28-135 IS. Just a little grading in post. I used Plural Eyes to sync the audio. I can’t say enough about Plural Eyes. If you do music videos, GET IT!

January 25, 2011


January 18, 2011

Hard Drive Crash

Last night I was on my computer – rendering files, on the internet, and loading up software. It was acting funny and then froze. I re-booted and it was booting slow. BTW, it’s a Mac Pro. Blue screen pops up and it’s been on for a while. I re-boot…which could have been a mistake. Next thing I know, it is cycling on and off. Not good. I tinker with it and still nothing. I have 4 drives with 3 different OS on it. I try to boot into a different drive. No bueno. I am starting to get a little worried.

I pull the computer out of my cabinet and take out all the drives. I did boot into a different drive. I’m breathing a little sigh of relief. I find out my main OS drive running snow leopard is the culprit. No problem, I will just fix the drive using disk utility. Doesn’t work! I try a 3rd party utility. Still doesn’t work. I have my last 4 videos that I have done on that drive. UGH!
Luckily, I do manage to get all my important data off the drive.

I can’t stress the importance of backing up your data. On my music computer, I have a raid set-up where all my clients songs go to 2 separate drives. In addition, I strongly urge them to back up their work. On my video computer, I usually back everything up to 2 drives. Most of my photography and finished videos are on 2 different drives. Of course, over the holidays, I have been lazy about it. Lesson learned. I dodged a bullet this time.

I am now re-installing Snow Leopard. I am bored waiting for the updates to load. I have another 30 minutes of waiting. I must say, one minor bonus is that all my software is going to be up to date. I have a larger drive for my OS. It’s a pain, and the timing was terrible, but I do like a fresh system.

January 15, 2011

Music Video for Rear View Mirror

This is a music video that I shot and edited. I shot this entirely with the Canon T2i. The artist name is Tu and it’s a take off of a MJ song.

I used 2 lenses, a Canon 50 1.4 and a Canon 28-135 zoom. I shot most of it handheld and used a tripod for just a few scenes. I also recorded and mixed the audio for the song. Most of the video was shot with an fstop between a 4 and 5.6. My first attempts with the T2i were not as nice as I would of liked them to be. I love the very shallow DOF a lens at 1.4 will give, but as I found out when I tried to edit the content, quite a few shots were a little out of focus. My next couple of videos, I closed the lens down and bingo….much better. ……

For the audio, I used a boombox or the cd player in the car. I just used the onboard mic in the camera to record. One of the greatest tools ever is Plural Eyes!!!! I imported all the clips into Final Cut and opened Plural Eyes…and like magic, pushed a button and everything synced to the pre-recorded audio. What used to take me hours, can now be done in a matter of minutes. 15 clips all in perfect sync.

After I edited the clips, I used a combination of Magic Bullet Looks and Apple Color to correct and grade the video. There’s a few things I wished I had done differently, but overall, I really like how this turned out.

January 14, 2011

Canon T2i

For those of who who don’t know, I love filming, video, and all things techy. I have a very nice HD camera. It’s a Sony EX1. It has a great picture, tons of features, and is a larger camera. There is a new crop of cameras out that are giving the big beasts a run for their money. They are digital dsl still picture cameras or HDSLR for short. Canon makes the most popular, with Panasonic and Nikon also releasing models.

I ended up buying a Canon T2i. It’s the cheapest of the Canon models. It has the exact same sensor and picture as the more expensive 7D and 60D.  It is an extremely cool little camera. Little being the key word. It is small, lightweight, easy to carry around and takes incredible video. I do notice a difference in video quality between this and my Sony, but it is very close.

One of the really great things about these new crop of cameras is that it can give you a really small depth of field. In the most general terms possible,  it gives a very cinema look to the footage. The background can be out of focus with the foreground.

Her hand is in focus, but her head is not.

So far, I have mainly used this camera for video. I have done a little photography, but I like the Nikon D300 better for stills. It could be me, but i find that the Nikon has a truer image and I like the skin tones better.

Must haves for this camera….
I have the Zacuto Z Finder. It is attached to the monitor on the back of the camera….ala…top picture. It basically adds a magnified viewfinder to the camera that really helps with focusing. I also bought a Transcend 32 gig SD card. It was $50 and I have 2hours of recording time. Lastly, getting the 50mm 1.4 or 1.8 lens is critical. That one lens just opens up all the possibilities with the camera.

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January 12, 2011

January 2011

A new year …