Narratives

This is my second year working with Mark Charbonneau on a lenten video series.  This year he put together a series called narratives.  I shot and edited the project for him.

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Wells Branch Vision Care

Here is a website I produced the video and staff photography for.  The site was designed by http://www.sundaramdesign.com/

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FS700 Slog-2 v.s. 5DMK3 raw Color Comparison

I was surprised how well the Slog-2 held up to added saturation.   I thought there would be more of a difference considering its a comparison between  3.5 MB per second 8bit AVCHD 4:2:0   and 95 MB per second 14bit raw.   But it seems that if properly exposed the Slog-2 holds up fine.

Both cameras used the same lens – 50mm f/1.2 Nikon @f2

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5DMK3 raw, and why 5760 is the magic number

I know I’m late jumping on this train but I don’t like to be to much of an early adopter. I knew when I started seeing footage shot using Magic Lantern’s raw hack that I was very interested; but the workflow was not solidified yet, and the hack was – well – hacky. Dropped frames, pink frames, cameras locking up, etc. – these were also common; but the image – it is beautiful. The mark 3 is unique (with the possible exception of the Panasonic GH2&3) in the DSLR world right now for one reason: the way the camera down samples the sensor does not lead to aliasing or moire. This is big.

Here is the deal, HD video is 2 million pixels. To get a sensor to shoot HD you can either have a sensor that has exactly 1920×1080 pixels on it(many cameras work this way) or you can have more pixels and then create a 2mp image from those pixels. Now, in theory, a HD image made from a higher resolution image should be the better image, but in the real world of cameras this is not always the case – especially with DSLRs – the reason being that cameras run on batteries and have limited processing power. In the future this likely won’t be much of an issue, but currently unless your sensor is exactly 1920×1080 you have to jump through some interesting (and image degrading) hoops to get to an HD video image.

So, many dedicated video cameras do just that: they have sensors that are the native resolution of HD video, or if they are a pro camera they pack the processing power to down-sample the sensor properly; but because DSLRs are not pro video cameras and because as a rule they are high MP count (12-36MP is normal) they have to get tricky getting that sensor to output a 2mp image 30 times a second. The technique used is called “line skipping” (or “binning” as they claim which seems to lead to the same issues.) What happens is that the camera simply skips whole lines of pixels – let’s say every 3 or 4 it will read one row of pixels. The problem here is that any detail that falls onto the sensor that is smaller than the distance between the skipped lines becomes jagged or aliased, and that’s not all. Because modern sensors in DSLRs are bayer pattern sensors the aliased areas also become color shifted, looking like little rainbows when you look closely. Have a look at this video to see what I mean:

OK, now you might think that this only happens in situations where there are patterns and fine detail, but after dealing with this for so long I see it all over the place, mostly in people’s hair and clothing during interviews. Anyway this is all old old news.

The interesting thing about the 5Dmk3 is that it does not do this at all, or very, very little. Why could that be? It has a large MP sensor (22mp) which it has to down sample 30 times a second. Well the answer, it seems, is in the sensor itself. The sensor designed by Canon is exactly 5769 pixels across and 3840 high. Do these numbers seem special to you? Well maybe not at first glance, but I will tell you that 1920 x 3 = 5760. Yup that’s right. The sensor is exactly 3x as wide as HD and because HD video is a different aspect ratio than stills photography (16:9 vs. 3:2) only 3240 of the vertical resolution is used in video, yup 3x HD again.

So here is how the 5Dmk3 is sampling the sensor: it is taking each 9 pixel (3×3) block and combining it into one pixel. Easy as pie and no image problems from line skipping either, nice!

So here is where raw comes in: apparently Canon is using the same technology for live view as it is for video. So at all the times that live view or video is being used the camera is doing this 3×3 down sampling automatically. What magic lantern did was just to tap into this raw bayer pattern data and save it directly onto the CF card. It’s 14bit raw sensor data and it is beautiful.

Here are some of my first tests using raw video on the mark 3.

So much detail and color information. Wonderful.

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Erin Bales, Courtney Longcrier, Kasey Yeargain, Jennifer Voigt, (& Robert Valentine on piano)

A while back I was asked to capture audio and video for a vocal performance for some amazingly talented singers  Erin Bales, Courtney Longcrier, Kasey Yeargain, Jennifer Voigt, (& Robert Valentine on piano)

All the videos can be viewed here, below are some of my favorites.

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Karlie makes Cupcakes

FS700 footage has a tendency to look a bit “videoish” right out of the camera.  For this short I was going for organic.  I added some noise and kept the color a bit flat with highlights in check.  I used Cine-2 Picture Profile because I think it handles highlights the best for this camera.  I also warmed up the mid tones a bit to help make the cupcakes more tasty looking.  I used a Nikon 50 f/1.2 and a Canon 100 f/2.8 macro.  Metabones Speedbooster was used with both lenses.  CC was done in Resolve.   Music by Gillicuddy

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A workflow for Sony Vegas and Resolve.

DaVinci Resolve is one of the most respected color correction applications available today. Their free version (lite) is more powerful than most full version color correctors.  The problem is finding a way of efficiently using this application with your NLE of choice, in my case Sony Vegas.  In this video I show you my workflow.  This type of workflow is called a “round trip” and the advantages are, less trascoding, only color correct the footage you want to use and a fast workflow.  Hope this is helpful for you.

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What I’v been up to.

Here are two things I produced recently for “Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church

The first is a series called “Markers”. It is a video accompaniment to a lenten Bible study the church members participated in. For this group of videos I used 2 Canon t2i cameras, one locked off wide shot and one on a dolly that I ran. The wide was using the 30mm 1.4 Sigma and the tight shot was the Rokinon 85mm 1.4. I shot both at F/2.8. I used Marvel’s Advanced picture profile on both cameras. For audio I was assisted by Geoff Kaiser he used lapel microphones and my Zoom H4N. To view all the videos have a look here.  I was very happy with how these came out, especially the skin tones.

The second project was covering something the environmental team at the church has been doing quietly behind the scenes for 5 years now, washing coffee mugs.  Most churches would use Styrofoam every week and not think twice, but here they wash mugs every week.  Pretty cool!

I used my new sony fs700 for most of the shots.  I’m still working out the camera settings, but so far I’m liking it!

~Doug

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Aotearoa (Native word for New Zealand)

So my wife and I went to visit New Zealand for two weeks. What a fantastic place, so many nice people and beautiful places. Of course I’m incapable of going somewhere like that and not producing huge amounts of Photo/Video data! When I got back I reviewed the footage and started searching for the right music. I knew I wanted a orchestral piece straight away but still leaves a huge amount of music to choose from. I finally found the perfect piece “The Water Goblin” By Antonin Dvorak. After many hours of editing here is the resulting video, Hope you like it!

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“Spiratone 135mm f/1.8”, “Breeze”, & “Gracie Kaiser: A Portrait”

So, lately, I wanted to try out some old-style lenses on my Canon DSLR. One nice feature on the Canon mount, is the slightly more shallow mounting depth. In comparison to many other SLR mounting systems, the Canon mount allows the ability to use lenses for other systems on your camera. Not all lenses will work however and, oddly enough, the ones that won’t are the old Canon FD mount lenses. Canon does offer adapters with extra corrective elements that will let you uses these lenses on your EF-S mount Canon, but not without negative impact to both resolving power and lens speed. Luckily, one can substitute a few other very common, inexpensive, and high quality (in many cases) old-style lens mount systems. The most notable three are: the “M42”, the “Nikkor”(Nikon system), & “T-mount”. A quick Ebay search will offer up large numbers of older lenses. The prices range from almost nothing to what one might pay for a more modern lens (depending on condition, manufacturer, availability, etc…). Some lenses, like Nikkor and Zeiss, hold their value well. Others can be had on the cheap and are still very nice. There are a lot of opinions about what ones are the best, and a quick Google search will result in forums like: this . All these old lenses will cover a full frame sensor, so no worries there, and it’s hard to go wrong with with a 50mm f/1.4 or other common focal length. These are particularly good for video because they are manual focus and, in most cases, manual aperture.

I wanted to try a longer focal length, because I have all my focal lengths covered between 11mm & 100mm. I noticed the common length after 100mm use to be 135mm, and there are loads of f/2.8 lenses available at that length. I was surprised to see, however, that a 135mm f/1.8 was also made. I might be showing ignorance here, but I had no idea that there was anything faster than f/2.8 after 85mm, so it caught my eye. These are uncommon and, therefore, a bit more expensive. They are also regarded by many as being plagued with image issues like softness when wide open, chromatic aberration, and susceptibility to flare. Though, others seem to love them. I found a large range of quality as I browsed Vimeo and Flicker, searching for an idea of what kind of image to expect. The further I looked, it seemed that there were good and bad copies of this lens. Ultimately, as a result of it’s long length and f/1.8 manual focus, it is hard to focus.

Undaunted however, I spent some time bidding on some nice copies on Ebay until I got one. It’s a Spiratone in good condition. It is slightly soft wide open, but usable for video.

“Breeze” was shot 100% with the Spiratone on a sunny afternoon outside, so the lens was mostly stopped down. I love the look I got with it. See if you agree:

“Gracie” is a portrait of a friend’s very old and sweet kitty. With almost no suitable light to work with, I shot at f/1.8. Half the shots are taken with the Spiratone while the other half with my Tokina 11-16mm

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