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Samsung joins the ranks of mirrorless 4K cameras with the Samsung NX1!
Posted by Michal, motionVFX Team
October 23, 2014, at 3:21 AM

Many filmmakers and reviewers believe that mirrorless cameras are much better than DSLRs and Samsung seems to agree because the company made the decision to join the ranks of mirrorless 4K cameras, as reported by Definition Magazine. The end of HD is near and the magazine believes that we are witnessing an important change on the market, because even a company with no history in video introduces a stills camera that can record 4K (in 24fps and with the H.265 codec). The Samsung NX1 also gives you full manual control of many functions, such as ISO, shutter speed, aperture, white balance and audio. The data rate is also not bad - 80Mb/s seems to be enough in the case of many projects and while some cameras offer better specs, the promo video is pretty great!


And here's an excerpt from Definition Magazine:

"Data rate is up to 80Mb/s (As good as 160Mb/s say Samsung) and internal recording is to Class 10 SD cards up to 64GB in size. A clean HDMI signal lets you use an external recorder.

The camera has a 28MP APS-C backside illuminated sensor with ISO up to 25600 (expanded to 51200) and full phase detection AF usuable for video. Samsung also offer a transcoder for your files to ProRes, DNxHD and Cinema DNG as editing H.265 is difficult at the moment."

The camera will cost £1299 (US$2110/AU$1175) and will be out next month.


Panasonic GH4 awarded a gold award by DPReview, read filmmaker's perspective!
Posted by Michal, motionVFX Team
October 23, 2014, at 2:04 AM

The Panasonic GH4 is an affordable 4K camera and if you're an indie filmmaker and you plan to get a 4K camera, you probably take the GH4 into consideration. Now you have another reason because DPReview gave Panasonic GH4 a gold award. Andrew Reid of EOS HD wrote a segment of the review (he focused on filmmaking aspects of the camera) and on his blog he recaps what he wrote. First of all he observes that the biggest single advantage of the $1600 Panasonic GH4 is how complete it is straight out of the box and how good and affordable it is if compared to professional cameras. Of course if you plan to use the GH4 on professional projects you need to invest a little more and buy some gear (on the other hand if you already own the GH2 or GH3, most of your stuff will work just fine with the GH4). 

Andrew wrote:

"The GH4 however still requires a few add-ons for a professional workflow, especially on the audio-side. The appeal of cameras like the Canon C300 at $15k to pros is that the blocks come integrated and ready to use out of the box. XLR audio interfaces, ND filters and a top handle are examples of features the GH4 needs to be outfitted with whereas often more expensive pro video tools like the Canon C300 often don’t (although often cinema cameras like the Epic and Alexa, conversely, do). However the fact is that the GH4’s image is better specified for today’s world than the C300. The 4K output of the GH4 can produce oversampled 1080p in post at a higher bitrate and colour depth than the C300, at a price of $1600 compared to $15,000."

On the other hand he admits that the C300 has a better low-light performance, but that's due to the smaller sensor and instead of one C300 you can buy ten GH4s, so... let's not expect miracles. And so Andrew concludes:

"In fairness though, the GH4 is not so much a ‘replacement’ for a professional cinema camera, more an additional option for the filmmaker which will be selected when the unique abilities of the tool are required by certain work. The simple fact that there’s even a comparison to be made to a $15,000 cinema camera says a lot about how far Panasonic has reached to connect with filmmakers."

If you want to read the full article, follow this link.


GoPro HERO4 Black - hands-on video review and comparison!
Posted by Michal, motionVFX Team
October 23, 2014, at 1:19 AM

The GoPro HERO4 Black is an exciting sports/action camera - it supports 4K at twice the framerate than before (if compared to the GoPro HERO3), as well as 2.7K at 50fps, 1440p at 80fps, 1080p at 120fps, 960p at 120fps, and 720p at 120fps. Audio recording also got improved and now the camera is capturing twice the dynamic range of the HERO3. The camera also offers manual settings and is a great piece of hardware, but if you want to see it in action here's a hands-on review by DigitalRev TV. Kai and his crew wanted to see if the 4K video and 120fps slow motion makes this new camera a worthy upgrade. What is nice about this video review is that they set the HERO4 on a 3-axis gimbal and compare it to the GoPro 3 and 3+ to see how things like the wireless connectivity and video quality has improved. Check out the review for details!



New MacBreak Studio episode - Visual Effects Workflow with Final Cut Pro X!
Posted by Michal, motionVFX Team
October 22, 2014, at 2:16 AM

The new MacBreak Studio episode is here and this time the new tutorial is a bit different, because it features not only Mark Spencer, but also Mike Matzdorff who was the first assistant editor on a big-budget studio feature film using Final Cut Pro. In the video you will see a basic VFX workflow that Mike employed using a very simple mocked-up example. He creates a separate event for each VFX shot which contains all the important assets, including video clips, reference shots, stills, audio, notes, and compound clips.  Then he builds a proxy of the visual effect in Final Cut Pro. In his workflow Mike also uses a free plugin called "Feature Overlays" (click here to get it). Thanks to this plugin it is much easier to add a header, label, and two timecode counts to 23.976 shots.


Mark also wrote:

"Mike also uses a companion application called Producer's Best Friend, which uses Final Cut Pro's robust XML export to create a spreadsheet of customizable data for communicating shot information to collaborators. While Mike's focus is on visual effects, the application can include data on clips, roles, subroles, markers, keywords, and transitions in addition to visual and audio effects applied to clips.

By combining the power of Final Cut's organizational tools in the Browser, compositing toolset, and metadata-rich XML interchange format with a couple of third party applications, Mike has been able to create a highly functional workflow for communicating with the visual effects team on this project. If you work in a collaborative editing environment, you'll want check out not only this episode, but also his upcoming book that shares his insights gleaned from the front lines of posting a feature with Final Cut Pro X. Follow Mike @fcpxfeatures."


How they did the amazing Saturday Night Live title sequence - must read!
Posted by Michal, motionVFX Team
October 22, 2014, at 1:23 AM

The new Saturday Night Live title sequence is a great example of the use of many filmmaking techniques and if you wonder how this video was made, make sure to read Alex Buono's blog post in which he shares in great detail how the crew managed to create this amazing sequence. In this case the idea was to honor the 40-year history of the show (you can watch the title sequence here). Very soon director, Rhys Thomas and Alex came up with the idea to use only in-camera techniques, they wanted to do something low-fi, analog, optical, vintage and classic. And so Rhys, film unit producer Justus McLarty and Alex brainstormed a list of in-camera techniques to test: slo-motion, tilt-shift, black&white, long-exposure motion blur, double-exposures, light-writing, timelapse, strobe photography, aerial photography, infrared photography, optical aberrations, anamorphic distortions, prism-distortions, etc., and while it sounds exciting, the most important goal of the video was to warm-up the audience and introduce fifteen cast members.

It's hart to list all the hardware that was used to create this awesome sequence - there were various lenses with a variety of cameras:

"Our main camera for the cast portraits was the Red Epic Dragon.  While we’ve leaned toward the Arri Alexa over the past couple of seasons, we tried out the Dragon on a handful of spots and found it to be a huge improvement over the (Non-Dragon) Epic.  As advertised, the dynamic range is much closer to the Alexa’s performance while the Dragon offers us a much wider range of resolution and frame rate options.  For a handheld experimental title sequence with lots of different tricks, the Dragon was an easy choice.  We started shooting the cast portraits at 6K resolution at 5:1 compression, thinking it would be very helpful to have a lot of room to re-frame shots, but after the first two cast-shoots (out of fifteen) racked up over 2TB of footage, we quickly dropped down to a more manageable 5K / 7:1 resolution.  For the non-freelensing shots, we rigged the camera with a Redrock MicroRemote wireless follow focus and Teradek Bolt; for most of the shoot, the only monitor on set was a battery-powered 5.6″ TVLogic for Rhys to handhold.  In addition to the Dragon, much of  the bumper-footage was shot with a Canon 5DmIII."

One of the greatest effects in the video is a custom bokeh technique, in which every light source in the shot turns into the SNL logo. In order to achieve this result, Alex needed to create a 4×5 filter mask with a logo that would fit inside a 25mm circle:

"I brought the logo into Adobe Illustrator, re-sized the logo to fit within a 25mm diameter and placed it within the frame of a 4” x 5.6” rectangle — which is the size of the glass filter I was using.  We sent the Illustrator file to our sign printer who has the ability to print black laser-cut vinyl stickers.  Then we simply took the vinyl sticker and adhered it to a 4 x 5 clear filter.  Voila!  We had a custom SNL-logo bokeh filter.  For these shots, we picked up a set of Leica Summilux-C lenses.  I experimented with different lenses and different sized-filters, but the best results were with the 50mm."

The team also wanted to incorporate light-writing into one of the bumpers and to achieve it they used a Pixelstick:

"Pixelstick is one of those amazing ideas that is hard to explain but once you see it, you immediately get it.  In short, it’s a portable, lightweight bar containing 200 RGB LEDs.  You can upload the device with an image in the form of a 200 pixel-tall 24-bit BMP (bitmap) file via SD card.  When you trigger the bar, it flashes your image in a succession of pulses, one vertical line at a time — each LED corresponding to a single pixel.  If you photograph this pulsing with a long exposure and you move the bar across the frame as it pulses, you literally “paint” the image in midair."

Make sure to read the full blog post - click here.



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