Sony’s “Hogwarts” camcorder “He who must not be named”

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Sony are still looking for a name for their FilmLike camcorder nicknamed “Hogwarts” as in the Harry Potter stories Voldermort is known as “He who must not be named”. OK halloween over what’s the news…not a lot other than Sony are having a pow wow sometime later in November to possibly hand out some details to the press and bloggers like HD Warrior.

I am not to sure why Sony announce this camcorder at NAB 2010 then show it off during IBC 2010 and when you ask the easy-peazy of questions like what type of card does it take…blank.

The one thing that’s becoming clear is the word “affordable” in all their correspondence…now as we all know affordable is fine depending what side of the railway line you live…to Stephen Spielberg a Sony F35 is affordable ! Anyway enough of Sony lets look at more information coming from Nigel Cooper who also had a few days with the 75% finished AF101 from Panasonic.

Nigel “From the footage I shot I found the Panasonic MOS sensor (CMOS technology basically, as apposed to CCD) performed incredibly with no visible artefacts, rainbow moiré or stepping. The images where very clean and film-like in quality. On pans, both gentle and vigorous there was minimal ‘jelly wobble’ off the MOS sensor, nothing worth mentioning anyway and no worse than anything produced by Sony with CMOS sensors. Unfortunately any MOS/CMOS sensor suffers from jelly-wobble; it is just a case of how much or how little. This baby inside the AG-AF101 is as minimal as I have seen and about as good as you will get. I don’t hear people complaining about Sony’s superb EX1R and EX3 so I don’t expect anyone to complain in the Panasonic Pub either. I’m not sure what the heat situation is from this MOS sensor, but the AG-AF101 is so quiet I don’t even know if it has a fan inside; I couldn’t hear anything anyway. Either way, the technology inside the AG-AF101 is incredibly innovative and state-of-the-art. This large 4/3rd MOS sensor is what gives us this new depth-of-field control and a field of view reminiscent to that of a 35mm film camera like those used to shoot Hollywood movies i.e. Panavision.

Some people think that the 4/3rd imager in the AG-AF101 is exactly the same imager as the one in Panasonic’s stills camera the GH1, fact is, it is not; it is a bran new sensor. Although the AG-AF101 uses a CMOS sensor (MOS), there is no ‘skew’ (jelly wobble effect/rolling shutter) as it scans the chip incredibly fast. I tried really hard to get the AG-AF101 to skew with various pans, both fast and slow and I found it virtually impossible to get it to skew. Although there is still flash-banding (all CMOS sensors suffer from this no matter who makes them), as usual, it can be fixed in post. But if you are a filmmaker, you will be in control of that anyway so it doesn’t really matter; simply don’t allow anyone to fire off a flash-gun on set. Wedding guys will have to fix those frames in post, no big deal.”

Nigel “The Panasonic AG-AF101 is quite simply revolutionary. It is unequivocally and without a doubt the new and first kid on the block with such incredible capabilities at such an incredibly low price. It is the HD camcorder that independent filmmakers, as well as every other video producer and lighting cameraman has been waiting on for 20 odd years or so. At £4,295, what is there not to like. The AG-AF101 takes all goodness of DSLRs i.e. depth-of-field and light sensitivity, but gets rid of all the bad stuff such as aliasing, rainbow moiré and other workflow issues, and all encapsulated in a perfectly formed professional video camcorder.

There is nothing like the Panaasonic AG-AF101; it is a brand new concept. Those who have got used to shooting HD video on DSLRs and having to piece together clumsy workarounds, been forced to use a Zacuto Z-finder because DSLRs don’t have a viewfinder need not worry anymore as the AG-AF101 has a HD viewfinder built in, as well as a fold-out HD LCD screen. Or if you had to use a separate sound recorder because you could not get good audio from your EOS 5D MK2, worry no more as the AG-AF101 has two built in professional balanced XLR inputs with uncompressed Linear PCM 16-bit audio.

The Panasonic AG-AF101 is the most promising camcorder to arrive in over twenty years. It is very exciting times for cinema shooters and independent filmmakers.

In a nutshell the Panasonic AG-AF101 is a professional HD video camcorder just like many others such as Panasonic’s own HPX171 or Sony’s EX1R, but the AG-AF101 now gives us that last missing piece of the jigsaw; total depth-of-field control combined with interchangeable lenses, with that cinematic look that we have all been waiting for.”

Full review on http://www.dvuser.co.uk/content.php?CID=246

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ProVideo 2010

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

[xr_video id="113b5b8f066e403687076f140b5d5b4d" size="md"]

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MTF “E” Mounts for Sony’s NEX-VG10

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After looking about the web I found these new lens adaptors for the Sony NEX-VG10 camcorder both made by a well known company called MTF. Interestingly they do a PL mount so there must be some interest from professionals to have this mount produced.

The one thing I cannot as yet check is the camcorders low light abilities so if anyone from MTF could lend me a Nikon adaptor I could stick on a 50mm f1.8 NIKKOR lens to test the camcorder in low light.

These lens adaptors could bring this camcorder into a new dimension as the 18-200mm lens that ships with the VG10 is far too dark for most indoor work and it’s good to have an alternative to the Sony “E” or “A” lens.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Company Ltd

Apple to delay FCP-8 till August 2011 “The writing is on the wall”

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Apple have indeed lost the plot as today it has been reported to me that Final Cut Pro 8 has been further delayed till August 2011, this is a major blow if it is true for all FCP users as 64bit has been further shunted into the autumn of 2011. If this story is true I for one will be switching to Adobe CS5 before the end of this year as I can no longer afford to wait for Apple to come up with the goods.

Premiere Pro has come a long way in the last few years and Adobe has been adding many future proof features like a plug in for 3D called Cineform neo 3D HD that allows you to edit 3D footage straight from the timeline and view it in 3D. Another feature is 7 streams of HD if you use the nVidia’s CUDA technology and achieve real-time playback for Quicktime dSLR, and AVCHD footage.

Apple’s backward thinking has made Blu-ray an almost impossible route for them to go down, while Adobe has embraced Blu-ray and made it a seamless part of Encore their DVD authoring program.

While the switch will be a dear one it will take my 12 core MacPro up to a new level and utilise the 64 bit technology as it was intended by Apple in the first place. I am not looking forward to the learning curve but having come from Premiere Pro many years ago it shouldn’t be that bad.

One other reason for cutting Final Cut Studio is the now antiquated DVD Studio Pro 4 one of the best in it’s time now a sorry state of bugs that keeps me from even opening it up looking for ghost files that no longer exist.

I will remain a Motion fan as it’s just as easy to send footage to Motion as it would to After Effects.

It was not a coincidence that the BBC have chosen to go down the Adobe route when they already have editors using Final Cut Pro, thankfully for them Adobe brought Premiere back to the Mac so the switch over won’t be as bad other than installing new software.

One other thing that saddens me is the sneak peek of “Lion” the new so called OSX…lame is the word that springs to mind, I can’t see any feature that will set the heather alight unlike previous major upgrades…I think the writing is on the wall for Apple unless they seriously re invent themselves.

UPDATE : Since writing this I seem to have lost the plot as well thanks to J Ball for pointing out my spelling error, as of today I have now installed the nVidia Quadro FX4800 in my MacPro one further step in my own death nell for FCP !

FURTHER UPDATE : As of March 2011 it seems Apple are to bring us Final Cut Pro 8. The reason I did not make the move was for 2 reasons…Paul Joy found that his final output was compromised using Premiere Pro in other words the quality was not as good as Final Cut Pro, secondly if it ant broke don’t fix it.

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Philip Bloom tests the new Panasonic AG-AF101

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Philip “The real question…and I loathe this question but get asked a lot. “IS IT A DLSR KILLER?”….the answer is simply no.No camera is a “killer”, cameras can quite happily and should co-exist! There is a market for them all. Sure when this type of thing becomes more common when Sony and Canon do something similar more pros with larger pockets will start using them but they are different to DSLRs, bigger and more expensive and this camera is priced pretty aggressively am sure the Sony and Canon offerings will struggle to match this price point.

It’s another tool for a cinematographer like myself to use. I would choose this over my 5Dmk2 for many things, I would also happily use it in conjunction. For recording sound in camera, filming actuality (this is a great documentary camera and great for wedding shooters too, great for one man band and great low light) , getting easier focus and amazing slow motion this wins hands down. But the DSLRs are cheaper, lenses are less of an issue, are smaller, less conspicuous, shoot better timelapse, I can take multiple bodies with me…there are loads of reasons why I will continue to shoot with my Canons or whatever other DSLRs I end up buying. Will I buy this camera the moment it comes out? Bloody right. It performed so well, despite being 75% finished, and was a joy to shoot with but more importantly I was very happy with the images I got. I still could get my beloved shallow depth of field, sure not 5dmk2 or 7d shallow but not far off the APS-C. i cannot wait to go to Japan and shoot with the finished camera!


At the moment I am purely guessing the latitude, i need to get the camera set up better so anything i say could be wrong so I will stay quiet on that for now!

So…should you buy an AF101 instead of a Canon DSLR?  Well it has many plusses, the lack of moire and aliasing. Less rolling shutter skew, proper sound, better focusing and exposure assist. Proper SDI and HDMI clean outs and loads more. But it’s just different…it’s a video camera. This is not a convergence camera! Don’t expect to be taking awesome stills and video with this. THIS IS A VIDEO CAMERA! That is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. I have missed video cameras. Welcome back, but I will still have my 5D or two in my bag. There is so much I love about my DSLRs still! This is like a replacement for my EX1 and 35mm adaptor.

I am looking forward to getting a production GH2 as the pre one I had was very buggy, it could be a killer B-camera for the AF101…especially as you can shoot awesome time-lapse with it! ;)

South: Test film shot with Panasonic AF100 from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Click on Philip’s link to see the full in-depth review of the Panasonic AF101…
http://philipbloom.net/2010/10/19/af100/

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Company Ltd

WARNING Possible incompatibility with Samsung 55″ 3D LED TV and the Panasonic’s SDT750 3D camcorder

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

It has come to my attention that Panasonic’s 3D camcorder the SDT750 may not be compatible with Samsung’s 55″ 3D LED TV. The Samsung may be 5″ bigger than the Panasonic 50″ 3D plasma but is that a price to pay for the lack of a 3D camcorder, the choice is yours. Note. It has since come to my attention via one of my readers from Austria that he has no problem using the 3D Samsung with the Panasonic 750 3D camcorder. I will carry out my own tests next week to verify this.

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SONY NEX-VG10 versus DSLR

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One thing you wont be seeing in the near future is all the meccano that surrounds the DSLR for the VG10 but then it’s just appeared so who knows. I actually like the look of the pull focus, deep lens hoods and bolt on’s you can get for the DSLR it makes them less photographic which is probably the intention.

Lets look at the sensor, it’s the only part of the VG10 that shares a common thread with the DSLR. The APS HD CMOS sensor, sadly Sony decided not only to use an APS photographic sensor but did nothing to combat “moire” which has opened a wave of criticism and sneering from the DSLR camp, though as a camcorder in both practicality and ergonomics it is 10x easier to use that a conventional DSLR.

Sony have taken the decision to abandon the zoom rocker switch seen on 99% of all video cameras in order to accommodate the E Mount camera lenses, that one decision should have told Sony not to bring this camcorder into the domestic domain but that’s a decision Sony will have to stand by. Some people will tell me that a DSLR does not have a zoom switch and that Sony were right but I think when you re-design the wheel you don’t have to conform to “whats not done elsewhere” this camcorder may have a large sensor but personally I would have preferred a choice of wether to use a zoom lens or a photographic lens…small point.

Strangely the swivel LCD is smaller than I was expecting and like most LCDs useless in bright sunshine, hence the loupe for the DSLR and more recently small hi rez monitors/viewfinders. The VG10 has a second viewfinder on the back of the camcorder but Sony forgot to make the LCD inactive during filming as once you choose to deploy the viewfinder you have no access to the switches and thumbwheel that sit behind the closed LCD. The VG10 does allow low angle shots that are almost impossible with 95% of todays DSLRs.

Picture quality during daylight is as good as any DSLR with that creamy shallow depth of field on the tighter end of the 200mm lens, the 200mm allows drop dead gorgeous pinpointing SDoF where your subject walks into and out of focus.

Sony’s decision to bring this camcorder into the domestic market takes the camcorder away from headlines like the “DSLR killer” as clearly it’s not going to have an impact on the DSLR market, it’s another tool for the serious amateur film maker in my opinion and bucks the trend for camcorders that in general have large depth of field.

It gives you 1080 25p footage which is less of a hassle for UK users than our American counterparts stuck with 30p, we are a lot closer to the magical 24p that everyone and his filming granny bangs on about personally I defy anyone who can tell the difference between 24 and 25p in reality. As far as editing…the VG10 scores with the AVCHD codec and the fact you can play in your footage straight off the camcorder into your NLE something the DSLR does not share.

So to answer my own question “how does the VG10 compare to the DSLR” it’s a NEX-5 in a more practical body so it’s pedigree starts from a photographic sensor. To be honest it’s a good first attempt combining the best of the NEX range of cameras in a camcorder shaped body and don’t forget it can also take the full range of “A” mount Sony lenses with an adaptor, as yet I don’t know anyone who has tested the VG10 with large aperture f 1.4 lenses which might just help it’s poor low light reputation.

The NEX VG10 is number one of a long line of SDoF camcorders from Sony and by this time next year we will no doubt see a string of such camcorders from Panasonic, Canon and JVC. To reply to a fellow blogger I would have never seen the VG10 in a roll for serious filmmaking thats what the new December launch Panasonic AF101 is poised for. In fact if you are interested Philip Bloom is trying out a 75% finished, one battery Panasonic AF101 as I write so nip over to his blog to see his “3 Days with the AF101″.

In conclusion the video manufacturers are in the same position as Sony was with the iPod…too little to late, the DSLR horse bolted well over a year ago and Canon will never be so grateful, Sony is once again playing catch up…something they are getting used to. I don’t actually think Sony has totally understood what the market is looking for in a video version of a DSLR, no sound control and moire are starters for ten but no doubt the VG11 will have all the bells and whistles…something we are very used to in the video world, they just never get it right first time !

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SONY NEX-VG10 Conclusions

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This is a hard one…on one hand we have a superb shallow depth of field camcorder and on the other hand limitations. I have had this camcorder for at least two weeks now and although I have not been using it for a solid two weeks I have had some time to get to know it.

I am coming to this from a professional camera users point of view so I may be a bit harsh forgetting the domestic user this camcorder is aimed at.

The first thing that has confused me is the 1080 50i now for all intent and purposes this camcorder records 1080 50i but that is capturing at 25p and wrapping it as 50i why…Confused ? Well, you’re not the only one. In brief, what’s going on is that the AVCHD standard doesn’t include 25P, but it does include 50i. This is relevant for those that want to burn a Blu-ray disk because Blu-ray uses the AVCHD standard. So it seems Sony are not only confusing the human users but Blu-ray burners as well. The main point is that if you bring your footage into Final Cut Pro it will be seen as 1080 25p.

The dreaded “Moire”. Sony seem to have taken the NEX-5 chip and stuck it inside the VG10 hoping that the DSLR problem of moire will not haunt them…wrong…surprisingly Sony have not tackled the moire problem and to be fair only appears in less than a handful of shots mainly on tiled roofs. Remember moire is a natural phenomenon with photographic sensors and most people don’t know what it looks like till pointed out to them.

Using one of Sony’s sister camcorders the MC50 I have become used to lack of sound control but the VG10 takes this to the NEXt level with no control of the sound at all which is very surprising given the price of the product and the main jibe with DSLR is lack of sound controls. You can use an external mic and headphones but beyond this nothing.

I do think Sony have maybe taken the manual zoom a tad too far with this product, domestic users have never in my knowledge ever had a camcorder with no zoom control and not only is this confusing some people but can be a turn off as they don’t understand the concept. This camcorder would have been better placed as a semi Pro unit rather than confusing the domestic user.

This camcorder does not perform well in low light although the f3.5 lens @ Wide Angle that ships with this camcorder does not do it any favours. I would like to assess the low light with an Alpha f 1.4 lens to get a true reflection of low light capability.

The menus are as I would expect from a domestic camcorder and the big thumb wheel is nothing short of a pest…sit it out a bit and give it a rubber feel and I may warm to it.

Lastly the auto focus works very well when it’s locked onto a subject but has it’s moments focusing in general…if truth be told it’s a tad on the slow side.

So whats left…well surprisingly the “look” grows on you, as long as you take on board it’s limitations and use manual focus, turn it down to 0dB, turn it onto 24Mbs, take off auto white balance the camcorder performs very well in daylight. Unlike the MC50 it does have external buttons for direct access to WB, gain etc and that has to be commended. The 18-200mm lens is very sharp and so are the 14MP JPEGs. Note. You can’t take photographs while filming and vice versa.

As I have said before this is not a domestic camcorder as it is far from a point and shoot but if you are prepared to work at it you will get some wonderful footage that only this camera can produce and it does come with it’s very own wind jammer !

Tomorrow NEX VG10 versus the DSLR

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Panasonic AG-AF101 from 27th December 2010 (Price £4,195)

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Panasonic Solutions Company today announced that the AG-AF100, the industry’s first professional micro 4/3-inch video camcorder optimized for high-definition video recording, will start shipping on December 27th at a suggested list price of $4,995. Highly anticipated since its introduction at NAB earlier this year, the AF100 is poised to set new benchmarks in digital cinematography.

Targeted at the video and film production communities, the AF100 delivers the shallow depth of field and wider field of view of a large imager, with the flexibility and cost advantages of a growing line of professional quality, industry-standard micro 4/3-inch lenses, filters, and adapters. The full HD 1080 and 720 production camera offers superior video handling, native 1080/24p recording, variable frame rates, professional audio capabilities, and compatibility with SDHC and SDXC media.

“The design of the AF100’s best-in-class 4/3-inch sensor affords depth of field and field of view similar to that of 35mm movie cameras in a more affordable camera body,” said Jan Crittenden Livingston, Product Line Business Manager, Panasonic Solutions Company. “What’s more, Panasonic engineering ingenuity has resolved the aliasing and moiré that has haunted the DSLR shooter. Indeed, the proof of concept of the AF100 was based on what we heard from and saw customers doing: purchasing DSLR cameras because they liked the look of the image, but then agonized over all of the workarounds required to come out with an acceptable high definition recording.”

The AF100 incorporates a large 4/3-inch,16:9 MOS imager that minimizes skew with fast imager scanning, and incorporates low pass filters for elimination of aliasing and moiré. Additionally, it has a built-in optical ND filter. The camcorder records 1080 at 60i, 50i, 30P, 25P (Native) and 24P (Native), and 720 at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p and 24p native,in AVCHD’s highest-quality PH mode (maximum 24Mbps). The AF100 also records in AVCCAM’s HA (17 Mbps) and HE (6Mbps) modes, 1080i only. Ready for global production standards, the camcorder is 60Hz and 50Hz switchable. Equipped with an interchangeable micro 4/3-inch lens mount, the AF100 can utilize an array of low-cost, widely-available still camera lenses as well as film-style lenses with fixed focal lengths and primes.

Variable frame rates are available in 1080p, selectable in 20 steps from 12p to 60p at 60Hz and 20 steps from 12p to 50p at 50Hz. Standard professional interfaces include uncompressed 4:2:2, 8 Bit HD-SDI out; HDMI out; and USB 2.0. It records SMPTE timecode and is able to perform timecode synchronizing via the video output seeing timecode in. It has a built-in stereo microphone and features two mic/line, switchable XLR inputs with +48V Phantom Power capability. The camera can record 48-kHz/16-bit two-channel digital audio recording (in PH mode only) and supports LPCM/Dolby-AC3 in any of the modes.

This newest Panasonic AVCCAM camcorder is the first to enjoy the benefits of advanced SDXC media card compatibility in addition to existing SDHC card support. SDXC is the newest SD memory card specification that supports memory capacities above 32GB and up to 2TB. With two SD slots for continuous recording, the AF100 can record up to 12 hours on two 64GB SDXC cards in PH mode, with automatic clip spanning across the two cards.

Weighing only 3.5 pounds (without lens or battery), the AF100 is packed with high-end features including Dynamic Range Stretch in all modes and frame rates; six built-in, customizable scene files that are exchangeable for quick and easy matching between multiple cameras; seven built-in gamma curves with four selectable color matrices; Syncro-scan shutter; and a high-resolution LCD and viewfinder.

It also offers a focus assist that can be used while recording, which is color-on peaking and a focus bar; two sets of adjustable zebras; two manual black and white balance choices, and preset White Balance at 3200K, 5600K or variable; a waveform monitor and vectorscope for more accurate monitoring of broadcast safe levels. Other essential features include pre-record; an intervalometer function that can be set for up to 24 hours, programmable User Buttons; a Smart Battery interface for recording up to four hours with a 5400mA battery; metadata recording; and a wireless infrared remote controller.

Panasonic will support the AF100 with a three-year limited warranty (one year plus two extra years upon registration).

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Vimeo Winner “Last Minutes with Oden”

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Thank You Jason Wood for allowing us this moment.
Oden’s struggle with cancer finally came to an end.
May he rest in peace and his memory be eternal.

Canon 7D

Directed/Edited: Eliot Rausch
Director of Photography: Luke Korver, Matt B. Taylor
Song: Big Red Machine / Justin Vernon + Aaron Dessner

A story from the 8 LIVES Documentary.
For more of Jason Wood’s story from 3 years ago
see http://vimeo.com/14047489

www.PhosPictures.com

HDW : There is not many things that make me cry but this sensitive documentary brought out the dog lover in me and loosing my own dog 7 weeks ago brought back very powerful emotions…a wonderful bit of cinematography.

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