Monthly Archives: April 2012

Canon’s Planned Takeover of Cinema, Part II

April 16, 2012
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graph comparing resolution, fidelity and cost of digital cinema cameras

Prerequisite Reading: Canon announces EOS-1D C 4K DSLR with 8-bit 4:2:2 1080p HDMI output over at DP Review, CANON ANNOUNCES DEVELOPMENT OF 4K DIGITAL CINEMA CAMERAS over at Canon Rumors, and straight from the horse’s mouth, Canon developing digital cinema camera for 4K video capture over at Canon Global press release. And, if you haven’t already read it, I hope you’ll take a look at my previous post, Canon — Too Big For it’s Britches? in which I speculate that Canon is getting ready to take on the PL mount and all other digital cinema camera manufacturers. Sometimes it hurts to be right Canon’s latest press release re: the C500 prototype seems to prove out my prediction about Canon’s corporate strategy. Canon will position itself as the new Sony; lots of camera choices, lots of proprietary accessories, a self-styled Player in Digital Cinema. Unfortunately, unlike Sony, Canon doesn’t yet have the industry experience in offering end-to-end image capture, image editing, image grading, and image delivery. Sony, at least, never introduces a camera without having...

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To IR or not to IR?

April 11, 2012
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To IR or not to IR?

To IR or not to IR? The Arri ALEXA’s low-pass filter pack includes UV and IR-cutoff filters. According to Arri’s promo literature, you don’t need additional filters: The IR and UV cut-off filters let only those light frequencies reach the sensor which can be converted into a meaningful image. As with the D-21, the IR filter is specifically designed for the spectral response of the camera’s sensor, so no additional IR filter in front of the lens is required.(emphasis added) According to Arri’s FAQ (under “Exposure Questions / Can I use traditional ND filters with ALEXA?”), the story is a little different: While the close match between ALEXA’s custom designed IR filter and the sensor’s spectral response makes this issue less critical in contrast to some other digital camera’s, it is in general a good idea to only use traditional film ND filters up to an ND 0.9. So according to the promo materials Alexa doesn’t need IR-Cut ND filters. According to the FAQ however, you need ND/IR-Cut at...

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Canon – Too Big For It’s Britches?

April 11, 2012
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A Review* of Canon’s new C300 *Disclaimer: After testing the C300 in a few days’ time, some of the content of this article may change. Canon’s new motto is “Leave no Story Untold.” It gives the indie filmmaker in me goosebumps. But they should change that motto to: “leave no dreamer’s pocketbook unexploited.” Yes, get ready Canon DSLR shooters! Canon is about to reward us all for embracing the incredibly awkward and user-unfriendly 5D-MkII, for making it an icon of low-budget (and even high-budget) film production, spawning a new wave of indie filmmaking, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Canon XL-1 gave us progressive scan. The reward: Three years later, we now have a worthy successor. 1080p slow-motion, uncompressed video out for external recorders, global shutter, better pixel sub-sampling, higher bitrates and better compression internally, on-screen audio level monitoring with on-the-fly level adjustment, and… Oh wait. Wait a minute…you mean the Mark III doesn’t do any of those things? Nope, but the C300 does some of...

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Has Nikon Glass Become Irrelevant?

April 3, 2012
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Has Nikon Glass Become Irrelevant?

Dear RED: Where’s your Nikon F-mount for the Epic? Don’t you know when we were using the 5D-MkII because our clients demanded low-cost “cine-like” footage, we reached for our EOS-to-F-mount adapters so we could use the sharper, smoother, higher-contrast glass of the Nikon zooms? Don’t you know that the Red One wen’t out with Nikon glass to capture some great images? Dear Arri; Rumor has it that you’ve planned a Nikon mount for the Alexa. We’d be so happy if you did… Dear Nikon; Make us some PL mount glass, already!

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4k vs. 2k vs. HD (part 3 of 3)

April 3, 2012
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2K-vs-HD-vs-Super35-sm

More Art than Science There is more to watching a movie than being presented with a clear picture of fully-lit objects and people in perfect focus. The audience’s involvement in the story has to be more important than any of these technical considerations. I think there’s an audience psychology to consider. The film plays, and the story lives in the audience’s consciousness, sub-conscious and imagination. The audience participates in the film when they are left guessing. The audience is doing the “mental math” to connect the pieces together. For example: We see a shot of a man at his desk. We hear a noise of a glass breaking. The man looks up. Next shot: a closeup of a woman at the door, horrified. She looks down at something on the ground. Next shot:  the man gets up from his desk and approaches the camera. Next shot: a wider shot of the woman and someone walks into frame…but it is not the man we have seen at the desk, it...

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4k vs. 2k vs. HD (part 2 of 3)

April 3, 2012
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Is 2k Enough? Our eye is not the resolution king in the world of nature. Eagles have a much higher density of rods and cones in their eyes and can see details that are invisible to us. For an eagle, 2k looks like SD does to us; blurry. But our eye is very good with extremes of light and dark. Sensitive enough to read a book by moonlight, but hardy enough to pick out details in the edge of a cloud backlit by the sun. Our eye can see a contrast range of something like 20 photographic “stops.” That’s 20 doublings of light intensity, or a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. To our eye, contrast is more important than detail. I remember the first time I saw an image out of a RED ONE (pre-MX). I was stunned. It was displayed on two side-by-side 20″ Apple Cinema displays and the image went right off the edges of the screen. But what’s funny is that I’ve been in a lot of...

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4k vs. 2k vs. HD (part 1 of 3)

April 3, 2012
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4k vs. 2k vs. HD (part 1 of 3)

“Immersive” vs. “Involving” experiences. The 2k spec, for all intents and purposes, is 2048 x 1152, for a total of 2.36 million pixels. HD is 1920 x 1080, for a total of 2.07 million pixels. In other words, HD has 88% of the area (total pixels) that the 2k spec has. On a linear measurement, the difference is only 128 pixels…which only as big as that checkerboard over there. That edge-to-edge resolution difference between HD and 2k is only 6%, which most mortals can’t really see. The 2k spec comes from the digital scanners that scan a film negative from edge to edge. The reality is that Super 35 is, for example, “over-scanned” and the 2048-pixel width of the scan includes some material out of frame, like edge numbers and so on. The total image area of a 1.85:1  aspect ratio is closer to 1850 x 1000 pixels…or 1.85 million pixels total. So film scanned at 2k for digital intermediate results in an image somewhat less than HD, but...

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