Blog, business, post production for film and video

Getting Technical with Technicolor and the Canon DSLRs

Shane Hurlbut mentions a new set of “camera styles” that Technicolor just released for the Canon DSLRs (specifically the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, but they mention that the camera styles will work on any of the current EOS cameras). These new picture styles allow the camera to more closely approximate the color and f-stop latitude of traditional film, allowing for more color-correction options in the post-production process.

These are not the first “custom” picture styles to come out; in fact, people have been playing around with (and distributing/sharing on the internet) various picture styles — SuperFlat, Marvel, Velvia, Genesis, and many more. What makes this one impressive is that it has the Technicolor name on it, and, apparently, has tons of Technicolor research behind it. So this picture style is a research-based, powerful tool for making a gorgeous picture on the Canon DSLR cameras.

But remember, adding a custom picture style like this is going to mean that the image coming out of the camera is not at all ready for prime time. These picture styles make your footage ready for post-production, not ready out-of-camera. You must take these in and do color-correction before they will begin to look like what you want. The Technicolor picture style only gives you the latitude to make some wonderful images in post-production.

Blog, business, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

Constantly learning, constantly, working

We filmed another short promo for Nimbus Ensemble this past week:

I tried some things on this shoot that I ultimately regretted, but on other elements of the shoot I’m extremely happy. Running four-channel audio recording through the Zoom H4N is a breeze, and gave me lots of options for incredible audio. I’m finding that I like wireless mics less and less, so I used only studio-quality mics and shotgun mics for this shoot (all wired directly to the Zoom). The viola sounds superb, and the interview worked beautifully with a shotgun on a boom stand.

The things I’m less happy about are in the video; specifically two things:

  1. Halfway through the shoot I changed white balance settings. I should have just left it the same as when I started, because it would have been easier to match everything together in post (unless we were changing locations, which we did  not for this shoot).
  2. I wanted to minimize the effects of the “rolling shutter” issue (because his bow was moving so fast) by filming everything at 60 frames a second. Bad idea. First, it didn’t eliminate the rolling shutter. Second, I was eating up card space like crazy. Third, I conformed to 24 frames, so it looks a little jerky. Fourth, the 7D won’t record at full 1920×1080 HD when shooting at 60 fps, so I don’t have as many pixels as when shooting at 24 frames. But hey, it was a good idea. And now I know.

We’ll be filming the real concert coming up this weekend. I’ll be excited to show you footage from that. Or, you could just come and listen to some great (and very unique) music: here’s the information page at Nimbus’  website (which Hearken Creative also designed).

Blog, business, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

New video projects

Two quick video projects that I had the pleasure of working on over the last week.

ASIAN ACCESS

First up was a quick web video post for the president of Asian Access. He wanted to say “thank you” to the many people who have already donated money to the relief efforts going on in northern Japan after the Sendai earthquake in March 2011. So I raced out to his office and filmed him:

TECHNICAL DETAILS: This was filmed with the Canon EOS 7D, using the “kit lens” — an 28-135mm. Sound was handled using a Zoom H4n with an Audio Technica AT897 microphone. Footage was transcoded to ProRes LT using the wonderful 5DtoRGB app with a command-line batch processor provided by French video production company NoSide. The whole thing was sync’d and edited in Final Cut Pro, and exported to H.264 via Compressor.

NIMBUS ENSEMBLE

I did a 12-part videolog series with Nimbus and this same composer back in 2008, and they are back with a new composition that Nimbus will premiere. We’re in a rush, so there’s only one video, and I shot a rehearsal for a few hours this week, followed by a very brief interview. But the piece will be instrumental in advertising the concert:

TECHNICAL DETAILS: Much the same as the previous piece, except I used a host of lenses: a 50mm f1.4 prime (I used this a lot because the room was pretty dark, but I didn’t want to raise my ISO too much and get grainy footage), a Canon EF-S 18-55mm, and a Canon EF-S 55-250mm. Sound was captured 4-channel using the Zoom’s onboard mics plus the AT897 and a Sennheiser lav (but the interview was done with the AT897 — I love the sound of that mic compared to a lav).

All-in-all, a pretty busy but fun week of budget-conscious filmmaking. Every project that we do gets easier, more fun, and give us invaluable experience for the next one.

Today I’ll be taking my equipment and doing an outdoor photoshoot for a band I’m in (stills, not video). Can’t wait to share those…

Blog, business, graphic design, Pasadena and local, post production for film and video, sound

The movie we’re shooting


Not That Funny is a movie that is shooting currently in Sierra Madre, CA. I am an associate producer on the show. What does that mean? Well, it can mean anything, but for me, what it has meant so far is

  • recording production sound for a week before our wonderful sound guy came on board
  • renting my Canon 7D camera, lights, hard drives, and other useful stuff to the production
  • managing the digital workflow for set-to-editor-to-director-to-post, as well as managing dailies
  • general help on-set and off-set
  • even some graphic design! (see the photo of a fake poster above)
  • maybe sound design.

The cast and crew is incredible. We are halfway through 25 days of shooting, followed by some additional pickups and various projects to get the film ready for completion. The editing process will take several months of massaging the footage to make it serve the story. Our hope is that it will get picked up for a few film festivals in early 2011, and then see theatrical distribution sometime during the year.

Our cast is outstanding, anchored by John Kapelos (remember Breakfast Club?), K Callan, Brigid Brannagh (Army Wives), and the amazing Tony Hale (Arrested Development).

Check the movie out:

Blog, business, post production for film and video, sound

What Hearken Creative did (is doing) this summer, Part 3

Well, I can’t say “did” for this one, since we’re still in production. I’m associate producer on a quirky little film called “Not That Funny” starring Tony Hale (Arrested Development, Chuck, and a bunch of other stuff). Here’s a breakdown of what I am working on during this film:

  • Recorded all production sound for the first week of shooting (before our wonderful sound guy showed up)
  • Managing/devising digital workflow for the production and post-production
  • Assisting with social media and web presence for the film
  • Renting Hearken equipment to the production (KinoFlo Diva Lights, Canon 7D, microphones, batteries, cards, hard drives, etc.)
  • Assisting in whatever way I can on a small shoot, sometimes as a production assistant, sometimes as a driver, sometimes schlepping crafts service, sometimes…?

The cast and crew of this tiny pic are wonderful, and I’m honored to be working with them all. I can’t wait to show you some of the production stills, and get this film finished so everyone can see it.

Blog, business, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

Now shooting in HD for your next project

Finally!

Hearken Creative now is shooting in HD on a Canon 7d camera. We have several lenses and filters, and can make your next project shine, whether for the big screen, the small screen, or even a web screen.

Additionally, not only can we do full-blown ProTools audio for location sound, but we now have a small Zoom H4N 4-channel audio recorder for interviews, small cast shoots, and field recording. Put the two pieces together, and you have a wonderfully small setup for mobile filming!

Call us to discuss your next video/film project.

Blog, business, post production for film and video, sound

Wow…Da Vinci on a Mac for $995

This is incredible. Just announced at NAB: A Da Vinci Resolve system will now run on a Mac for $995. You still need a control surface, and it’s probably a somewhat stripped-down version — simply because you can only run one processer with it, but here’s the thing: incredibly powerful color correction is now possible for smaller and smaller boutique houses. If Hearken Creative grows a bit, I could foresee starting out with a Mac-based system and then move quickly to the Linux GPU cards via high speed InfiniBand connections.

The Da Vinci system is an industry-leading high-end color correction system for film and digital post production work. Da Vinci was purchased by BlackMagic Design in September 2009, and has been working to re-frame the playing field for color correction software. This will affect Apple’s Color as well as Avid’s built-in color correction (such as in Adrenaline).

The price of all of this stuff just keeps coming down further and further…

Blog, business, post production for film and video

Great day learning about the 5d

Yesterday I attended a half-day session arranged by The Association on the Canon DSLR cameras. Snehal Patel led the workshop of twelve people. I think I was the only one who wasn’t working in Hollywood, and we had quite a few veteran members of the ASC there as well. The industry is changing significantly. From the tech and post side of it, I think I have an incredible grasp on the realities of shooting with these new DSLRs. Now I want to get better on the production side as well.

One interesting thing about the day was a discussion by the DPs in the room concerning the disappointing performance of the RED One camera in real-world situations. Specifically, the cost of the camera, with all of the bells and whistles, is much higher than everyone expects (still much lower than traditional cameras, but the hype doesn’t match with reality). Secondly, the processor is just not robust enough to handle low light well; in fact, during shoots, the RED consistently requires more lighting (which equals more time and more money spent) than traditional cameras — DPs were complaining that you had to stick light everywhere, even in shadows, to make sure something showed up in the footage. So I’m leaning much less towards the RED right now, and seriously getting closer to either the 5D or the 7D, which excels in low-light situations. (I’m interested to see how the new RED cameras fare, but I’m not interested in purchasing any of them, either.)

Another illuminating conversation was how the major studios are attempting to cut down on technical staff (DITs, digital managers) in an attempt to save money on set. It’s going to backfire, but I’ll talk about that in a later post.

Blog, business, post production for film and video

Canon DSLRs get a channel to Final Cut Pro

Canon has taken the pain (or most of it, anyways) out of bringing footage into Final Cut Pro from their DSLR cameras with a new FCP plugin. The new plugin allows us to ingest footage directly into Apple’s ProRes 422 code, and adds timecode based on the camera’s date and time stamp (a workaround to actually having real timecode, but it’ll work for now).

This, along with the firmware update that was released recently, brings us closer to truly being able to use the Canon DSLRs in a professional environment, which is what I want to do. I’m considering skipping the 7D entirely and simply saving up for a 5D — which will fit my business much better than the 7D anyways.

Blog, business, graphic design, portfolio, post production for film and video

Recently completed video projects

Q4 of 2009 has seen a number of wonderful projects wrap up and get distributed.

Winnetka Story is a feature-length documentary about the history of Winnetka and the North Shore area, outside of Chicago. Once again I worked with the wonderful John Newcombe, with whom we authored the DVD for Rancho La Cañada: Then and Now a few years ago. Hearken Creative did all of the DVD authoring and DVD menu design, as well as managing the production for the packaging.

Servant Partners launched several new videos prior to the Urbana missions convention that Hearken Creative produced. Most of the interview footage was interviewed and shot by Loren A. Roberts, with video from around the world provided to us by Servant Partners in various formats. HCS brought it all together and turned it into several promotional videos, for use both online as well as looping on plasmas in the organization’s booth at the 20,000-person convention. In addition, HCS authored the DVD, designed DVD menus, and duplicated copies of the DVD for all staff members. Below is one of the four videos produced:

And finally, Dave Schultze of Schultzeworks created a video promoting a computer design that he calls the “Philco PC,” an homage to the Philco Predicta television set from the 1950’s. I was able to work with Dave, consulting on camera movement, editing, and pacing for the video (Dave occupies my old office space, and we have become good friends over the past few years). We were stunned at the response after releasing the video: Vimeo shows that it has close to 100k views of the video, the design has been featured on EnGadget and the NY Times, and Dave has received calls from news outlets and potential clients. This was a great collaboration for us, and HCS looks forward to consulting in the future for other friends and clients! See the video below:

Philco PC from Dave Schultze on Vimeo.

There are many changes coming to Hearken Creative in the new year, but the one thing that will not change is our passion and dedication to making our clients look awesome, bringing creative and powerful solutions to the world of advertising design and corporate video.