Saturday, 16 February 2013

Drones for video.

In the last few years there has been some big changes when it comes to the accessibility and cost of using drones for video. This new and exciting area and aerial videography is making it more accessible to people helping them get amazing aerial shots while not spending a fortune. Small affordable drones are becoming cheaper by the day and what some people are doing with them are truly amazing. In this post we will look at some of the most common drones for video, the technology and how you can utilizing them for your own video productions. Gone are the day where renting a helicopter was the only option for
 getting amazing aerial video.

There are many different drones out there that you can purchase anywhere from a few hundred dollars and to thousands dollars. They vary in size from very small to very large and everything in between. Typically the larger the drone the more it can lift and the less wind will be an issue. However there are some very small drones that do a decent job when paired with a GoPro camera.
Parrot, has small drone that is relatively cheap. It is powerful enough to lift a GoPro Camera. However there are some limitations. The drone can fly up to 6 meters or 20 feet. The average range is about 50 meters or 160 feet. It uses wifi and can be controlled using an iPhone or iPad via the Drone 2.0 App from Parrot.
it can reach a top Speed of 18 km an hour or 11 miles an hour. Has an operational time of roughly 12 minutes with a charging time of 1hr 30mins. It has a lift capability of 250grams. However if you exceed this weight it may become unstable. The new GoPro Hero 3 with battery weighs 74grams. Even adding this much weight o the A.R Drone may cause problems with stability with wind however you can still get some nice shots out of it. As some of the below videos will demonstrate. It will be necessary to do some sort of stabilization in post to smooth out the image however it may be well worth it in the end to get some amazing shots you wouldn't normally get.

The below videos demonstrate what is possible withe AR. Drone and the GoPro when used properly. Some cropping may be necessary to get rid of the rotters.

                GoPro + AR.Drone from Laurent Heideyer on Vimeo.

Here are some more videos using the GoPro with the AR. Drone. You can see how some stabilization filters will be needed in post to deal with the rolling shutter issues.

                        Cap Flight from Bernhard Queisser on Vimeo.

Parrot's AR. Drone is of course very small and inexpensive but is a sign of things to come. For under $300 dollars Canadian you can buy a drone that is capable of lifting a GoPro. I am sure as newer versions come down the line this drone will get even better.

For those who want better quality video, longer range and better stability it will be necessary to look at getting a more professional drone that is capable of carrying a heavier payload and offers better stabilization. There are a number of these drones on the market and some can be purchased for less than a thousand dollars. However many will set you back between $1000-$10000 dollars US. Depending on load capacity, gyro system and stabilization options. Quadcopters and Octocopters offer the best solution for working with larger cameras. a company based in the US overs some great drones for everything from Gopros to RedScarlets

Small quadrocopters like their DJI Phantom, is capable of lifting a GoPro and can be purchased for $679 US. Here is a video to demonstrate the quality.

Here is the link if you are interested in learning more about the DJI Phantom or interested in picking one up : DJI Phantom All in One Ready to Fly

For those requiring a little bit more horsepower has some more powerful drones capable of lifting DSLRs, Sony FS100s and more. The OktoKopter 2, capable of lifting a DSLR and costs $6,377.00 US. Here is a video to demonstrate the quality.

Mikrokopter Oktokopter2 flight with Canon T2i from on Vimeo.

You can purchase the Oktokopter and find out more information here: Oktokopter 2 Ready to Fly

In the professional category offers something really exciting. The CineStar 8, a professional drone with a much higher load capacity of 200 grams or 4.41 lbs. This drone can utitlize GPS way point flying to up to 500 meters and offers a flight time of 25 minutes. Check out the video of it action.

Sony CX760 zoom control on Cinestar 8 with 360 stabilization from Quadrocopter on Vimeo.

You can learn more and pick one up here: Cinestar Ready to Fly

Here is a video from their site with a GoPro mounted to the bottom of one of their other drones the Hexakopter:

Here is another video showing one of the Cinestar 8 drones lifting a 5D Mark 3. The results are really amazing you can see how these are quickly replacing helicopters for arial shots for productions do to the cost savings and the accessibility.

This is a video taken using the Cinestar 8 with a FS100. Yet again, great results.

For those of you who are interested in another drone company checkout Turbo Ace they have a variety of drones that can lift GoPros and DSLRs
They specialize in Quadcopters for GoPros and Octocopters for DSLRs. They have a varity of different copters to choose from.

Check out some videos of their drones in action.

All of these videos above demonstrate the potential for use a variety of video applications. Imagine using these for weddings, corporates, real-estate videos and narrative films. It really is the endless the applications for these drones. I will be updating this post in the future with more exciting drone information as I find it.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Streaming for the Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio and the H.264 Pro Recorder.

There is a great software from MX Light  that allows you stream video using Black Magic's ATEM Television Studio and the H.264 Pro Recorder. This software currently only supports use with a PC platform but can be run on MAC using Parallels. As of now it is only for you with the ATEM Television Studio and the H.264 Pro Recorder from Blackmagic.

The ATEM is a great switcher and comes with some powerful software but using Black Magic's Media express software you can only record and not stream. MX Light allows you to do both.

It is currenlty compatible and has presents for: Ustream, LiveStream, Justin.TV, Dailymotion and Wowza.

 Here is a list of the features for the software: MX Light Features

Canon EF mount lenses Compatiblility issues with BMCC

So it appears that the latest firmware update hasn't solved as many issues for aperture control with Canon EF Mount lenses as people would have liked. There was a lot of hope with the firmware 2.1 update that people would have access to aperture control over all their lenses but that doesn't seem to be the case... at least not yet. With more firmware updates I predict this issue to become less and less as more lenses will start to work. Some of the issues being reported are aperture readouts changing but the actual aperture on the lens isn't moving. Below is a list and detailed discussion on what lenses are working and which ones aren't. However you do actually get an aperture read out now so you can see what F Stop you are on which is a much needed feature.

Monday, 11 February 2013

A list of compatible drives for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

Here is a list of compatible SSD drives for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera that BlackmagicDesign recently certified for use with the camera. I am sure that this will be of use to many of you planning to use this camera and were wondering storage options you would have.

Here is the Link: Compatible SSD drives for BMCC

Friday, 8 February 2013

Video Streaming Solutions

Streaming live video online is something that is becoming more and more common. Channels and software like Livestream, Ustream, Youtube, Google's hangouts and Skype makes it possible from us to share video with people across the world. From conferences to broadcasting live on YouTube more and more people are connecting live online. We have had this ability for a few years now but as bandwidth increases and video technology gets better it becomes more easier to produce great video for live streaming on the web.

The most basic way to do this is of course with a webcam but for those of us who want to produce a higher quality video it is necessary to look at a better camera and therefore an interface for getting that live feed into our computer and out to the masses.

Now if your are just plain recording into a computer there are lots of options for that from capture cards to video breakout boxes, however if you want to stream live video on the fly out to the web then rest of this post is for you.

Up until recently this has been a bit of a struggle to find a relatively cheap way to stream live video affordability into a computer and out to the web. In this post we will look at some affordable streaming

Blackmagic Design's H.264 Pro Recorder:

What makes this little box so great is it does on the fly H.264 encoding from either HDMI,
HD-SDI/SDI, Component BNC, Composite BNC and 1/4 jack balanced audio inputs to
 USB 2.0.Now this is great because it gives you any input you could possibly ever want to a port that every
PC or Mac already has, USB 2.0. This is a perfect solution for anyone who wants to stream live video and not worry if they will have all the right connections required to make it happen.

 H.264 encoding is the key to makes this unit so great. H.264 is a standard video compression and is one of the most common formats used for compression, recording and distribution of HD Video. H.264 was originally introduced in 2003 and since has been widely adopted by Internet websites such as YouTube, Vimeo and the iTunes Store. Abobe and Microsoft have adopted it in recent years. It is also becoming more in common in HD and satelitte broadcast as well.

There are lots of software that will do H.264 encoding for you but the Pro Recorder is different because it does all the H.264 encoding in the box allowing you to stream the signal through a single USB.2.0 mini port into your computer.

Some key features include:

-Real time H.264 encoding.
-Can capture from professional decks in SD and HD H.264 files.
-Can record (not stream) to iPad, iPod, iPhone, Apple TV and YouTube file formats automatically.
-Real time scaling and cropping
-RS-422 Deck control
-Batch capture for H.264 files.

Compatibility for streaming live:

LiveStream currently supports the H.264 Pro Recorder: LiveStream H.264 Pro Recorder

MX Light is a great third party program for PC that will allow you to do live streaming from the H.264 Recorder and the Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio: MX Light Streaming software.
It is compatible with LiveStream, Ustream and Justin TV.

Broadcasting is changing as we know it.

Broadcast is changing as we know it. Gone are the days where only big broadcasters in television held the means to reach mass markets across the globe. Now anyone can put a video on YouTube and reach people around the world almost instantly. For people who make their living in the television/media/broadcasting industry this is ever an increasing market with endless possibilities. Anyone in the Freelance or Video Production industry can now bypass the traditional broadcasters and reach potentially millions of viewers around the world. This is a big revolution. In my day to day interaction with production companies I am hearing an ever common theme. Many of them are ditching their previous broadcasting routes and focusing more and more on web distribution. With more video podcasts, webisodes and YouTube channels becoming an increasing way to access information and entertainment  people are getting onboard and there is money to be made as well. Take for example YouTube. The top one thousand channels on YouTube generated almost 90 million social interactions on the site. These interactions spread over onto other sites like Twitter and Facebook. Some of the 1,000 highest preforming channels make some good cash as well, with a average monthly payout for the top channels of $23,000 dollars. However this not the case for all channels and only the very top preforming channels reach these numbers, it does however show what is out there in terms of revenue and viewer potential. Some of the top YouTube channels reaches tens of thousands of people every week with millions of subscribers. Look at the success of channels like Ray William Johnson, Shane Dawson, Epic Meal Time and FPSRussia and it becomes clear that reaching millions of viewers all around the world is now a real possibility. Most of these top channels have been around since day one, are regularly updated and also employ many other people to help with their productions but they all started out has humble channels with a great idea. OpenSlate a company which measures the value of video content for advertisers found that YouTube has over a million channels that run paid ads on them reported YouTube writes cheques annually for more than one million people every month. These numbers are staggering and show you just the potential of this new frontier in Broadcasting. Traditional broadcasting routes are becoming outdated. This is opening the flood gates to millions of creative people who up until a few years ago didn't have a medium to get their ideas and content across. No need for pitches, chasing grants or getting broadcasters to sign off on your content when you can potentially reach millions of people through hosts like YouTube, Ustream and Livestream. At the end of the day what it all comes down to is content. Content is still king. If your idea isn't great or you have nothing to say than no matter how much production value you poor into something, viewers just aren't going to watch. However once the idea is in place it is now easier more than ever to get your video scene by people. It's also getting a lot cheaper as well. Putting a video online can be as easy as buying a webcam or as complex as building the a proper studio and everything in between. Many of the top YouTube channels started out as simple webcams and raised their production value as their viewership grew. For a few thousand dollars it is more than possible to build a home video podcasting studio. Something I will explore further in this blog in the coming posts.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Speed Booster by Metabones and why it may change the way you shoot video forever.

Recently Metabones announced something that got a lot of attention. It got a lot of attention for good reason, because it seemed to be too good to be true. The "Speed Booster" adpater by Metabones made some big claims. Claims such as being able to make your lenses faster, wider and shaper... yes even sharper. At first there was a lot of skeptism. A lot of people saying "What's the catch?" As more and more test started coming to light there seemed to be less of a catch. The Speed Booster is now looking like it is something that any shooter who wants to expand their F-stop or Focal Length range on their lens kit should have.

So what exactly is the "Speed Booster"?

The Speed Booster is an adapter that allows you to take your standard Full Frame lenses and attach them to smaller APS-C and Micro Four Third mirror-less sensor cameras. However there is a lot more to this than just being an adaptor. This adapter will do a couple of big things for your lenses. The first is that it will reduce your image magnification allowing you to get a 1.09x on any focal length. Almost a full frame field of view on a APS-C sensor. For example a 50mm would now become a 35mm and a 35mm now a 24mm. So on smaller sensor cameras such as the GH2 sensor with a 2x multiplication and the BMCC with a 2.4x multiplication this adaptor will be extremely useful. Also for anyone who wants to increase their focal length of all their lenses this is a must have. So that prime 50mm Canon lens you have currently just also became a 35mm. You can start to see why people are so excited about this adapter. But wait... there's more...

The other big claim is that it will also increases low light performance by about almost a full stop. turning for example an F2.8 into a F2.0. This is great for cameras who's low light sensitivity is minimal or for a slower lens you want to use in lower light. Suddenly shooting with that F2.8 just got a little better when encountering those shots where you wish you could squeeze out a little more light. No more sacrificing image quality by increase ISO or Gain. No more changing shutter speeds and sacrificing motion characteristics to grab a little bit more light out of your lenses. This adapter will help expand your low light capability and future proof some of your lenses for what camera's come out down the road. Also suddenly not having a APS-C or full frame camera doesn't seem like such a big deal.

Now on to the sharpness claim. There is good and bad with this. There can be increase softening in the corners of some lenses with the Speed Booster which is to be expected because we can't have it all. However overall sharpness remains well maintained. The pros far out weight cons when it comes to increased low-light performance and greater field of view on your lenses.

Currently the Speed Booster is available for Canon EF lens to Sony E mount. However Metabone s as confirmed that there will be a MFT mount version coming in March. This should excite many BMCC users and GH2/GH3/AF100 users as well. That large crop factor on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera is something that will benefit more than anything else from the the Speed Booster from Metabones.

Here is a video from Andrew Reid showing just what this adapter can do.

Metabones Speed Booster - FS100 vs 5D Mark III from Andrew Reid on Vimeo.

This link below will help to explain in more detail how the Speed Booster works:

Music Video shot on the BMCC

Here is a nicely shot music video I found out Youtube shot on the BMCC. Unfourtunatly they didn't list what they used for colour correction or if they shot in RAW, ProRes or DNxHD

Up the quality setting to 1080p to get the most out of this video.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera footage.

So I have gathered together some of the best footage I could find from the Internet that demonstrates exactly what the BMCC can do. Specs are nice but at the end of the day we want to see how will this camera holds up in the field on an actual production being used for actual films, commericals,
 music videos, etc.

I have compiled a variety of different videos showing the strengths of the camera in relation to dynamic range and the ability to garde in 12-bit RAW DNG and Apple ProRes HQ 422. These videos I have linked to from a number of sites like Vimeo and Youtube. For best quality it is better to download the full video from Vimeo.

Below is a great comparison done by OneRiver Media.

Comparing the Cinema Camera & 5D Mk III from OneRiver Media on Vimeo.

Here is a series of grading tests done by various colourists. I like these examples because it really shows how you can change look of the footage to give it a completely different mood or feel.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera 12 bit Raw DNG files Corrected in After Effects from Norman Lang on Vimeo.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera Test DNGs from ickxsfilms on Vimeo.

Black Magic Cinema Camera Footage and Grade from Daniel Bowie on Vimeo.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera - BMCC from James Miller on Vimeo.

Bmcc color grade using Lightroom 4 from Arrius on Vimeo.

Black Magic Cinema Camera Color Grade from Matt Battershell on Vimeo.

This next video is a comparison test done between the BMCC and the Sony FS100. Now there really is no comparison in regards to the cameras in low light. the FS100 is a much better camera in low light. However what I find interesting about this test is how much detail you can still pull out of the low light with BMCC especially in the mid tones. with the 12-bit RAW and those 13 stops of dynamic range you can push it farther than I thought possible. However from an ISO view point their is really no comparison to the FS100 due to it's higher usable ISO.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera vs FS100 Lowlight Shoot-Out from Frank Glencairn on Vimeo.

BMCC vs. GH2 test footage:

BMCC-02 : GH2 versus BMCC (ProRes) from Raitank on Vimeo.

A very quick example of what you can do in DaVinci:

BMCC by DaVinci Resolve9 from Kazuyoshi Tezuka on Vimeo.

A quick Key Test withe BMCC:

BMCC Key Test from Andy Waddell on Vimeo.

BMCC ProRes Graded with Magic Bullet Quick Looks:

BMCC Test Footage from T. Umrani on Vimeo.

Olivia Tech BMCC Color Grade Test from Kofa Boyah on Vimeo.

A Black & White test graded in After Effects:

BMCC Rough Black & White Grade from Manback Productions on Vimeo.

The End Of  The World Shoot Out: A dynamic range test between the BMCC, 5Dmark3, GH3 and Hacked GH2. This is a three part series and I strongly suggest to download the Mp4 to get the full impact of this test series.

END OF THE WORLD SHOOTOUT - PART 1 from Shian Storm on Vimeo.

END OF THE WORLD SHOOTOUT - PART 2 from Shian Storm on Vimeo.

END OF THE WORLD SHOOTOUT - PART 3 from Shian Storm on Vimeo.

Below is a test using GoPro's Cineform software for grading as well as grade done with Adobe Speed Grade. Both results look good and very filmic. I am not sure which grade I prefer better. They both look good. I am leaning more to the Speed Grade look though. Check it out for yourself.

ColorGrading Test with BMCC, GoPro CineForm Studio and Adobe SpeedGrade from The Robinson Brothers on Vimeo.

Here is a link to with some great screen grabs taken from the above shoot:

DNG Sequence Stills

Some more grading tests done using the above footage:

Simple Color | Blackmagic Cinema Camera from Camp Comet on Vimeo.

Some night tests and low light tests done withe BMCC. I think that these tests demonstrate that BMCC can be used in low light situations and shouldn't be written off so quickly.

bmcc test from on Vimeo.

BMCC 12/9/12 from John Christon on Vimeo.

BMCC 12.6.12 from John Christon on Vimeo.

BMC "Snow Bells" from Frank Glencairn on Vimeo.

BMCC test Graded ProRes 422 from Daniel Fery on Vimeo.

Black Magic Cinema Camera - Low Light Test Shoot from Joel Crane on Vimeo.

NOLA AT NIGHT - Blackmagic from The Diamond Bros. on Vimeo.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

BMCC on RC helicopter. Stunning Footage.

Some great footage from the Blackmagic Cinema Camera mounted on a RC helicopter. Note how sharp the footage is and the great the dynamic range. Yet another great demonstration of how good the BMCC really is. Download the video from for best results.

Black Magic Cinema Camera on an RC Helicopter from WollwerthFilms on Vimeo.

Rode's iXY Stereo Microphone for the iPhone and iPad

Recently RODE released a great new product for the iPhone and the iPad. The iXY Stereo Microphone is a plugin audio interface that take's advantage of the multipin port on the iPhone and iPad. What makes this unique compared to some of the other iPhone's/iPad/s audio interfaces on the market is the versatility it provide's when paired with Rode's iPhone/iPad's App.

First however let's look at the interface itself. RODE has delivered a true stereo recording package with two mic's positioned in a 90 degrees XY coincident arrangement. These are 1/2 inch cardioid microphones.

This device has low handling noise and allows you to adjust input level via RODE's App. This App is downloadable from Apple's App store for $5.99 for full the version and is FREE for the Lite version.

Unlike other audio interface's for the iPhone/Ipad the iXY Stereo Microphone does not have built into it any 3.5mm mini jack input.

Rode has many different sample recordings done with this mic that you can listen to. These recordings were done in a variety of environments and give you a good sense of the quality. Overall it sounds very decent for a device that listed at $200 dollars US (it will be slightly more in Canada). Availability will be this March.

Here is a link to RODE's official write up on it:


Now on to the App. This is what I find really exciting. Rode has created a really great, easy to use recording App. At $5.99 it is easy to swallow and allows great options for sharing and editing.

Some of the key features of this App include:

High resolution 16-bit, 48kHz stereo/mono recording (up to 24-bit, 96kHz with RODE iXY microphone)

 EQ and dynamics: Compression, high/low-pass filter, and frequency cut/boost

Live input monitoring

Real-time waveform and one-touch markers

Non linear cut/copy/paste/crop

Waveform looping

Output in multiple formats including WAV, AIFF, AAC, Apple Lossless, FLAC and more

 Multiple formats via iTunes file Sharing

One touch publishing

Direct publish to SoundCloud and Dropbox

One of the nicest things about this App is it's ability to share with services like Drop Box and Sound Cloud Also having iTunes compatibility for easy backup via iCloud is great as well. This is where a lot of other iPhone recording App's fail. Another great feature about this App is the professional codecs you get with it. Having the ability to record WAV, FLAC and AIFF is great for those who want the highest quality. Editing is something that is very easy with this App. Being able to add complex fades and level adjustments to your audio waveform is much easier and faster than in GarageBand for iPhone.

Here is a link to RODE's website where you can find more information about the App:

Rode record App

Overall I really like this App from Rode and I think it will be great for a variety of purposes. From musicians who want a simple recording option for laying down ideas to university students who want to recorder lectures. Reporters in the field getting that quick sound bite or videographers who want another solution to recording sound will all benefit from this device. The greatest feature I think is the fact that it takes advantage of something a lot people already have, their iPhone. A trend I see more and more happening in the future.
Recorders like the Zoom H4n (which is a great product) but I see more and more people utilizing their smartphones to record audio. There are many reasons why I think this route will not so much replace the stand alone field recorders but at least fill a place for people who need to record audio and want to use their smart phones as a convienent way to do so. Just like how our smartphone's have replaced our organizers, calendars and phonebooks they will slowly eat away at stand alone recorders among other things as better and better Apps and interfaces are introduced. Their are other great products out there. One from Tascam in particular that I will review however the RODE offers some great features and flexibility at the right price.

The iXY is compatible with iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPad (3rd generation), iPad2 & iPad.

8-bit vs. 12-bit. Why the Blackmagic Cinema Camera comes out on top.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about if you really need 12-bit over 8-bit in regards to post work in HD video. There is an amazing video from OneRiver Media which I think will really put an end to this debate once and for all. They have done a great job showing how far you can truly push RAW in post and how much control it gives you:

For best results download the video from VIMEO. Or you can just stream it below:

Comparing the Cinema Camera: Part 2, The Impact of 12-bit RAW from OneRiver Media on Vimeo.

There are lot of great 8-bit cameras out there including the Canon C300, Panasonic GH3 and the Canon 5D Mark 3. However after watching this video it is clear that for total image control in regards to exposure and colour correction, nothing holds a candle to 12-bit RAW as demonstrated in the Blackmagic Cinema Camera when grading in post.

I think these next two videos demonstrate the advantage of 12bit over 8bit more than anything. Check out the two below videos. Look how well they manage to keep the sky and the snow covered ground exposed demonstrates the 12-bit's RAW ability to allow you to grade sky and foreground evenly to show maximum detail.

Black Magic Cinema Camera Test Footage -Before Grading- from Kei Takahashi on Vimeo.

and the after footage:

Black Magic Cinema Camera Test Footage -After Grading- from Kei Takahashi on Vimeo.

Really beautiful footage.