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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…
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Ray Bradbury’s passing today reminded me of something that happened to me in college. The year was 1993, and I was a film student at Montana State University, and a huge Bradbury fan. I had just read a collection of short stories, and one stuck out to me. Affected me greatly. BLESS ME FATHER… I thought this would make a great film, but not wanting to limit this to a student project, I actually looked into securing the filming rights to the story. So I went to the bookstore to look at a recent Bradbury book to find the publisher (again, this is in 1993, so before the internet boom). I wrote the publisher…via snail mail… and asked how I could get in contact with Mr. Bradbury or his agent, so that I could look into securing the rights of a story to make a short film.

A short time later I got a letter from the publisher giving me the address of his agent. And so I wrote the agent asking if he could please pass on my request to Mr. Bradbury. I included a letter addressed to him directly.

Well, some time had passed, and the class project was coming to a point where we needed to make a decision rather quickly as to what script we’d be going with. And it was just before Halloween that a letter from Ray Bradbury himself arrived in my mailbox. A fuzzy pumpkin sticker on the front. And inside was perhaps the best rejection letter I have ever received. He was very nice, very polite…and let me down gently. And then commented on my production company name…hoping that when I made it in Hollywood, that it’d change. I nice little “P.S.” joke. Honest to god, the rejection letter warmed my heart.

In hearing of his passing, I dug through my files for half the morning, and finally found that letter.

The only rejection letter I want framed.

(Should I rename the blog to BIG POND IN HIGH DEF?)

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of January and I haven’t posted ONE THING to my blog.  Well, it is the place that I post my workflow solutions and neat post tricks too, and lately I have been doing stuff that hasn’t been ground breaking, or hasn’t been something other than “mundane.”

Until today that is.

Today I found out a neat trick…thanks to the Twitter-verse. That’s what I love about Twitter. I can post a quick thought, or some observation…OR…I can ask quick advice about a random topic and get an answer rather quickly. I don’t have to go looking for some specific forum and then post the question there, and hope someone knows the answer. I just throw the answer out there, and wait for someone to post the solution. Typically I get more than one answer, and I get the answer within minutes.

Such was the case today, when my producer asked me if I could somehow get the shooting data from card offloads from a Canon 5D. VIDEO metadata, not photo metadata. But I guess it is the same…ASA, Shutter Speed, all that. See, we had a shoot in the AM with one videographer, and then another in the afternoon…with a different videographer. We wanted the shooting to match as much as possible, so we needed the shooting data from the frist shoot, so we could try to get the camera set up exactly the same way in the second. Only they forgot to get the shooting info from the first camera op, and couldn’t get a hold of them.

So my boss asked me, “is there any way to get the metadata from the H.264, or the THM file?”

“There must be. But I don’t know how. I opened it in TEXT EDIT, and I can see that it says ‘EOS 5D’ in the middle of all the gobbledy-gook. But I can’t see how to read the metadata.”

“Can you research that and get back to me?” my boss asks.

“Sure, I’m on it.”

So then instead of Google, I first pose the question on Twitter: “If I was handed an offload from a 5D, full card offload, is there any way I can determine what shutter speed/F-Stop was used? In the THM?” Within minutes I got several answers, including a few that mentioned ‘exiftool,’ which requires that I go into the Terminal to do things.  And that is something I try to avoid as I am not a power user.  Then I got this solution from @ionrae (Ryan Mast): “Or, rename the .THM file to .JPG, and Preview will open it. Can read exif data from there, too.”

OK, so I went into the Canon card structure…and located the THM files, that are along with H.264 MOV files:

And then I duplicated the THM file, and renamed the .THM to .JPG. Then I was able to open it in Preview. When I did, I got a little thumbnail:

So then I went into the INSPECTOR (CMD-I), clicked on the MORE INFO INSPECTOR tab, and then clicked on the EXIF tab. When I did that, I got this:

As you see I got a LOT of info. ISO, Lens info, Lens MODEL, ASA, Focal Length…tons of stuff. Just what I needed.

Thanks Ryan…

This, my friends, is why TOP GEAR is a kick ass show.  I love what happens at the 6 min mark.

Starting today, new rules are in effect for those of us in “new media” (blogs, twitter, etc.). Those “who write online reviews or endorse products using new media must disclose it when they receive free merchandise or payment for writing about an item.”

I’m here to tell you that I will adhere to this rule completely.  And I applaud it.  Because it helps keep integrity in this process of reviews.

So…to start off, I will say that I have recieved a copy of Avid Media Composer 4.0 for free, but I have not been paid for the praise I have given it, nor for my appearance at LAFCPUG showing off AMA and Mix and Match.  I did get to keep the Matrox MXO that I reviewed, and I was paid for the review.  I still really believe in that product and still recommend it for people with certain needs.  I did not keep the AJA Kona 3 and HD10AVA that I wrote an article about, and was still paid for the review.  I reviewed the HDPro for the Cow (paid), but did not keep the test unit.  And here on my blog I did a head to head with the GRAID-3 and the CalDigitVR, and returned both units (review was unpaid).  I also glowed about the Flanders Scientific 1760W monitor, but returned the monitor to FSI.

I try to be honest with my reviews, as I wouldn’t want to be lead astray by others.  If I receive a product for review, and my review ends up on the Creative Cow, my review has been paid for by the Cow.  This is typical of many sites like that.  And while I don’t get to keep most of the stuff I review, there are times I do.  So when that happens, I’ll be sure to let you know.

EDIT: The main link to the actual FTC rules can be found here (thanks Rob)

IGP0035

A friend of mine’s wife took this.  A little frog, taken with a high def camera.

Super short film…

“28 DAYS LATER,” in one minute, with one take.

See also KILL BILL PARTS 1 & 2 IN ONE MINUTE, ONE TAKE and FORREST GUMP IN ONE MINUTE, ONE TAKE.

Kermit the frog talks, nay SINGS, about the issues in keying the color green.

Click here to watch.

Hey there…things might look a little different.  That is because I have finally joined the Wordpress revolution.  

Thanks to my buddy Bryce Randle at Post Fifth Pictures I have a sparkling new site.  He did all the design and implimentation…because I don’t know how to do such things.  I mean, come on…I was using BLOGGER.  So if you want a cool website like mine, give Bryce a hollar…his contact info is on the bottom of the website.  

I hope you enjoy the new look.  Stay tuned for a funny video I found today.

OK, so here I am playing with my MXO2 mini (with MAX) and wanting to see how far I could push it. I was asked to upconvert some BetaSP footage to ProRes 1080i 59.94 (30fps, not 60) but my MXO2 was on the home system, meaning that I’d have to bring home the betaSP deck and do it there (the Kona 3 here at work doesn’t have analog inputs, and I don’t have that $1000 converter box). I still plan on bringing it home, as the MXO2 offers deck control and thus TIMECODE (very important), but I figured, why not test it here with the Mini (that I carry with me all the time, seeing as it is lighter than my iphone)?

So I connected the UVW-1800 to my MXO2 Mini, then the Mini to my Dual 2.4Ghz MacBook Pro. I then attached my small bus powered G-Drive mini via firewire 800. I went into the MXO2 system prefs and told it to SCALE the image to match the FCP settings (FCP 6.0.5, BTW). I then chose ProRes 422 1080i59.94. Lacking deck control I had to press play on the deck manually.

I then proceeded to capture 5 min of footage…upconverting BetaSP 720×486 to ProRes 422 1920×1080 without dropping one frame of video. I then captured 10 min…again, no frames dropped.

This isn’t supposed to be possible.

Now, this isn’t AT ALL a statement saying that now Matrox supports ProRes 422 1920×1080 capture on a laptop. They don’t. This might be a case of “sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” Because I can also capture DV to my internal hard drive without dropping a frame either…never have. But because not everyone can do this, it isn’t supported nor recommended.

So I can capture ProRes 422 on my laptop without dropping a frame…this doesn’t meant that others might be able to…they might have issues. I just wanted to say “HOLY COW! I got it to do something it isn’t supposed to be able to do!”

Now, if I get that Keyspan Serial adapter I can get deck control…hmmm. Time to go shopping.

Update… I was able to get one full hour of ProRes 422 captured without a dropped frame.

Sorry that there have been no substantive posts from me lately. Two projects happening, and I am shooting pickups for one of them. Then shooting a webisode for another. And trying to keep my yard from dying in this heatwave/drought….and kick the tires of FCP 7.

Which brings me to my post…I found a bug. Not a big one, but one that is a pain in the neck with the current show I am working on. But only because I tested in FCP 7 and exported the project via XML to get back to the 6.0.5 that the rest of the company is on.

When taking a project from FCP 7 back to FCP 6.0.5 via XML, v4…everything works BUT…Boris Title 3D. Not if there is just one or two…but many back to back. My lower thirds come up fine and render fine, but when I try to render the twenty Title 3D cards I have in the credits…FCP crashes. Just putting the playhead over them crashes the system…or loading the sequence I built them in. Has something to do with having that many back to back.

But this isn’t specific to FCP7>FCP 6. Apparently this is an ongoing issue…happened with FCP 6>FCP 5 as well.

So I had to open the project in FCP 7 off my secondary boot drive…make the changes to the credits, export them as an Animation codec, then bring that file into FCP 6.0.5 and tag it on the end.

Wondered what was happening. 4 projects all XML’d fine, but when I hit the credits…YOINK! Crash.

http://www.tvtechnology.com/article/84502

Darn it. I don’t like to see this, and I attribute it to the tough economic times. Well, and to the fact that more people are switching to competing software. But the thing is that I really want to see Avid survive. There are many workflows that only an Avid can fill, and I for one really enjoy editing on an Avid.

Do they need to make an Avid-Phone so they can have revenue to help keep up their business?

Spoken in only the way Orson can tell it. Editors are a big part of film making…more than people realize. We can make or break a film. Get the book WHEN THE SHOOTING STOPS, THE CUTTING BEGINS and read it. Google it, I’m too busy to post that link.

OK, fine, I’ll do it.

With the release of FCS 2009 (since there is no 3 anywhere in the name, I guess this is what we have to call it), there also came a couple really good online resources.

First, online help for all the FCS applications, called the HELP LIBRARY. This contains the manuals, fast pace introductions to the apps, and workflow tips.

Which brings me to my second link…

Final Cut Studio Workflowsis a comprehensive list of documents on the various workflows for FCP, starting with how to figure out solid post production strategies (things I have meetings about well before production starts), to ingesting your footage, organizing it, and outputting for final delivery. Want free consulting on workflows? There it is!

Now I will go back to reading the forums were people are bitching and moaning about what was left out or not implemented properly or how Apple no longer supports their 4 year old computers.

Whiners.

OK, I am working, so I have no time to talk about this. It is new, it was announced…my impressions will be minimal and only based on what I read. There are dozens of blogs and articles that are going on about this so I won’t bother, not until I get a copy and dig in.

Want to read a lot of articles on this? Apple stuff and full release notes? Michael Horton at LAFCPUG.org has made a list available on a discussion thread found here.

The things that excite me:

ProRes codecs…offline codecs! A viable offline/online workflow for tapeless. FULL RASTER and full size OFFLINE codec. Means no resizing of graphics and stills.

Markers that move with sequence…color coded. MARKERS THAT MOVE…DO YOU HEAR ME!?! Avid borrowed the TTTT command to select all to the right or left of a spot, FCP finally took a page from Avid, mimicing locator behavior.

AVCIntra native support. Not Native MXF support, but import AVCI in a QT wrapper as AVCI, not ProRes.

More P2 metadata upon import. Doesn’t look like it all, but a good amount.

More when I get it.

I am a recent fan of the Flanders Scientific monitors…I have a 1706W sitting in my bay and am loving it. Looking at it next to the Sony LMD and I shake my head. The FSI monitors are just good. Off axis especially.

ANYWAY, I have said this before. But now these guys don’t sit still. They don’t rest on their laurels and stick with the features that everyone else has….they go the extra mile. This is the benefit of the small company that actually LISTENS to their customers. They have just come out with new features for all their monitors based on customer requests. And all of these are FREE via a software download…how about that?

Take a gander at one new option:

Timecode Display. The monitors themselves can now display on screen timecode pulled directly off the SDI feeds using LTC, VITC 1 and VITC 2. So no more having to turn on the TC display via a tape deck or a camera, the monitors themselves can now display on screen TC. I’ve actually asked for a few improvements to this feature already.

For the rest, you have to look at Walter Biscardi’s blog, where I found this great news.

Thanks guys!