Eibon Films Horror, Fantasy and SciFi writer / filmmaker and friend of the weird

28Dec/170

new iMac Pro – it arrived!

thumbnail for youtube video

New iMac Pro box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I got the new iMac Pro - it arrived a week earlier than expected and I had to unbox it immediately.

Here's the rushed video of the unboxing: https://youtu.be/psENjn3CbT8

I'll do a review of it soon if anyone's interested. But for now, I'm very happy with it.

 

New iMac Pro

New iMac Pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes it is expensive! Yes it is a huge financial investment. But I have been waiting for this machine for a good two years, and carefully saving my pennies and biding my time. I last bought my MacBook Pro in 2012 and so after 5 years, it's finally meeting its match when trying to be my main writing machine and video editing machine. It was time to invest in newer kit for the video editing side of things. Especially now that I'm playing around with 4K footage. And the MacBook Pro will mainly become my backup on the move machine for writing and only occasionally editing - until that too can be replaced (as it's not really good for more than 30 mins long HD projects). But this new iMac will be my main workstation from now on.

It looks kind of small in the picture, but that's only because there's a new 32" 4K monitor next to it.

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5Dec/170

Things to get used to – import costs and a lack of manuals

As an aspiring filmmaker, there are two things that you have to get used to, if you want to be able to obtain the gear that you drool over in other people's social media feeds:

  1. Import costs: everything that I can only buy on the internet and not through an approved local retailer comes with an added random cost imposed by the tax office / csutomers. Joy! This usually means that your parcel is held hostage until you can pay the ransom, so that you can take it home. Because, after all, no Swedish hands had anything to do with putting half of my imported items together, but of course I'd be defrauding the Swedish government of money by not paying them for the fact that no bugger already legally imports these items and sells them within Sweden, right? And it's cheeky, because you're already paying a premium to ship the damn thing to yourself, and the seller gets to mark up your item in the currency exchange too. Now you have to pay a third cost and you have zero say in the matter. Fun times!
  2. A lack of documentation / manuals: Usually, such items either come with an incomprehensible manual (either in a foreign language or merely some dodgy sketches and no words at all), or no documentation at all. As happens with my latest purchase. This is ok when you can figure out from website pictures how to assemble and use your items. However, if something were to break, do you know how to ask for a replacement part, if you don't know what the parts are called? and if you break it through accidental misuse, then it's all down to you.

I bought a Lan Parte GH5 camera kit / rig (http://www.lanparte.com/product/info_45_itemid_483.html) for my camera and I love it. However, it really would have saved me some time and some head scratching to get a piece of paper with it / booklet that explains how to assemble it all! And it would have been great not to have to pay an extra 440 SEK in ransom, to take the item home.

Of course, now that I have this, I realised that I also need to order the camera shoulder rig (http://www.lanparte.com/product/info_45_itemid_493.html) and the follow focus... some nice early Xmas presents for the Swedish government....

PS - it's worth saying that no one has forced me to buy these things. However, when a local retailer failed to fufill my order for the 8Sinn cage and handle, and I couldn't find any other options, I decided to chance buying it abroad. Also, I bought it in the full knowledge that I could have been ripped off or it might have been faulty / incorrect. You pays your money and you takes your chances basically. Luckily, I was very well taken care of by HMI US (https://www.facebook.com/HypermediaINTL ). I just wish these guys had a local Swedish reseller. 🙂

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25Oct/170

Camera swap – time for 4K

Gear porn is a hard addiction to fight. Our desire to stay ahead of current trends in video production, to produce something that can hold its head up high in an ever changing media landscape is tough to keep apace. And I know, in that regard, that I'm an addict. And it's hard to deny the urges that stem from creative desires...

It's little more than a year that I've been playing with and trying to master working with HD video - namely 1080p. Trying to shoot for web delivery and produce videos that can hold their heads up next to the kind of visuals that we can see on the small screen. Although I am obviously not a professional cinematographer, in the traditional sense - as in someone that almost exclusively studies their craft and is hired to capture a marketable vision for others - I do hope that until I can get the chance to work with a professional, that my own visuals will hold up along side that of my peers. And until then master the pesky world of DLSR videography, at least to a point that i can be proud of the results. Currently, I'm not near where I want to be. I'm still a beginner.

But when I wanted to shoot a new film - and was deciding, during pre-production, what I was going to do with the film, I found that there was a little voice that kept talking about not doing the film in 1080p and trying 4K...

The use of 1080p is clearly waning. Now is the time for 4K... and then what? 5 or 6K? lol. No I won't chase every passing bandwagon. But I do think that 4K should be with us for a good while yet. So now is the time for me to invest in it and learn how to use it. My problem is that I don't currently have a computer powerful enough to handle 4K yet. So I'm waiting for Apple to sort their lives out and hurriedly release the new Mac Pros. It's been a long time coming and if they disappoint, I will have to jump to another PC manufacturer, after years as a loyal Mac fan, as they've already wasted enough time and ignored their pro customers long enough. So until then, I'm focussing on the camera - to worry about the edit later.

So why 4K?

4K (3840 pixels wide × 2160 pixels high) is a much bigger frame than 1080p (1920 pixels widw and 1080 pixels high). Even if you plan to release a 1080p movie, that bigger frame gives you plenty of options to crop creatively, to compose artful frames, that were better than that shot on the day. It also gives you more power to stablise unintentionally jerky shots in the edit. But it also future proofs your footage, assuming that 4K TVs become the new mainstream home viewing format.

So what camera have I chosen?

Z-PANASONIC-GH5-BEAUTY

It was a tough decision. I loved the ease of use, using my Canon 70D. And for vlogging, my point-and-shoot G7X MKII. However, Canon seem unwilling to solve the 4K riddle for their lower end semi-prosumer clientelle. I waited and they failed to deliver a good affordable 4K camera. Yes they've delivered what they call 'affordable' models in the C200 MKII and the C300 etc, but they're hardly affordable for people on lower budgets for anything other than as a rental. And I don't see much to like in their other DSLR range. So even though I love the way they do things and their glass, it was time for a change.

Now I loved what I saw in the Canon C200 MKII, the Panasonic EVA1 and the Black Magic Ursa Mini Pro. But if you buy those, then you still have to buy more gear to go with each. And you'd have automatically doubled your costs before you've even invested in storage to capture your footage on. I just couldn't justify the investment right now. Also those cameras are big. for my needs, right now, smaller is better. But in the future?...

It was a tossup between Sony or Panasonic, for me. Sony seem to have mastered the low light capability - something the guerilla filmmaker needs to deal with every day. But after using the RX100 MKIV and trying to Vlog with it and seeing how they p*ss battery power up the wall in minutes, I was not keen to invest in a more expensive camera that might have had similar issues. Also, their cameras tend to have a softer look that didn't quite do it for me. Instead, I went for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 - mainly because I heard much of the previous GH4 model - as a go-to for many wedding videographers and low budget filmmakers. They tend to bea bit more vocal about this camera than I tend to see in the Sony world. Having an active community to support you and advise you is key to me, as a learner. And I will just have to be creative when it comes to getting enough light.

The GH5 isn't cheap. Nor is it a simple proposition to switch format and then invest in new gear. Everything comes with a little risk. But so far I am happy. And before I committed to my chosen path I wrestled with the decision for a couple of months and did so much research that I felt incredibly depressed by the thought of doing any more.

For me, I was lucky in that I chose to switch at a time when my Canon gear, although it had depreciated in value, was desirable enough to give me a decent sum in a part exchange. So I had a good starting sum to play with. Then I waited for the new firmware update for the GH5 to come out - as there had been many criticisms of the camera on it's initial release earlier this year. And then I pounced. 🙂 At least it felt that way.

I purchased the body and then of course, unless you want to also invest in a speedbooster adapter, so that you can use your existing Canon glass with the different format camera - the GH5 is a Micro 4/3rds format - you then need new lenses. Lenses are not cheap - not if you want to invest in Pansonic lenses with inbuilt image stabilisation, so you fake a gimbal-like smooth moving shot. Although there are many cheaper 3rd party lenses that don't have that stabilisation - as well as 2nd hand lenses that do, but have dropped in value. Also, if you want to shoot in V-Log (a professional video codec that enables you to shoot in a professional format and then colour grade the footage later), you then need to buy the license key to unlock that pro format in the camera. The SD cards needed for that V-Log format at 4K are also very expensive, and have recquired SD card manufacturers to develop a new way of marking their cards, to guarantee that they can handle the footage. You need lots of them too, as 4K will eat up lots of storage in the shoot, nevermind the hard drive space you'll need when you take it into the edit. In short, I could go on with what I am learning, but it is truly dizzying to see how much other gear costs need to be factored in when building a kit - e.g. lights, sound gear etc. So I won't bore you any more. But suffice it to say that this camera, with a few more lenses will complete my basic kit and give me plenty to learn and keep me plenty occupied for a while now.

So far I've only had the briefest of time to play with the photo capability, to try out the new lenses and installed the new firmware update - I've purchased but I am waiting for the V-LOG key and have yet to put try editing any footage. But soon! First I need to go through the manual and play play play!

For now, my gear porn addiction is sated. Now comes the post purchase guilt and the need to shoot this damn movie. And then will inevitably come the post-production issues that I need to research and rehearse before the shoot. It never stops. Right?

Links:

Some video links that might be helpful:

GH5 Cinema Set-up & Tests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0btY-irwawk

Panasonic GH5 - Everything I found out that you should know:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6O0XrHzGgk

Pansonic GH5 6 months later: https://youtu.be/N6BcaykMp88

4 Best Video Cameras for Indie Filmmakers in 2017: https://www.lightsfilmschool.com/blog/4-best-video-cameras-for-indie-filmmakers-in-2017-aec

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11Jul/162

Of Vlogging and gadgets

So I've been busy. And it's been a fun kind of busy - which is good, because life really isn't fun right now. But I have been productive and tried to find excuses to stay busy and create something. So what if a little retail therapy is involved, right? So what if it is draining my bank balance? (Seriously, this sh*t can get really expensive!)

But - I have been busy, playing with iPhone videography, learning more about DSLR video and playing with my Go Pro. I've been doing it under the Vlogging banner - yes I now Vlog. It sounds like Blogging, but it feels more like flogging - as in a punishment; creating footage and waiting for someone to view it and like it or hate it. But it's great because you get to experiment and be creative, all without narrative restrictions. I've set a few restrictions of my own, merely to see what I can do with whatever footage I've collected. I'm terrible at it btw - at the Vlogging part. I just can't seem to get comfortable talking to and being on camera. Will I ever? But hey, it's something, right? And it helps me reach out my family and friends in distant climes and tell them what I'm up to. The other main restriction is not worrying about the perfect shot or the perfect anything - I am currently editing them all within iMovie, just to keep it simple and limit my choices. It's more about speed of the workflow right now, before I start worrying about colour grading and tighter edits. Until then I'm not worrying about dusting off Final Cut Pro or Premiere and After Effects again. And it's very much about the gear I'm shooting it with. Right now I am mainly evaluating what gear performs the best in the right situations and the ease of getting it into a finished video.

So for iPhone videography, I am using:

  • Filmic Pro - app to control exposure and white balance while shooting
  • Beastgrip Pro iPhone camera mount, both with DOF Adapter (for the cinematic look) and with the Wide-Angle lens
  • Rode Video Micro microphone / Smart Lav + lavalier Mic - for better sound
  • But I've also ordered the Moondog Labs Anamorphic Lens Adapter
  • Joby Phone Mount
  • Joby Grip tight gorillaPod stand

For DSLR video, I am using:

  • the Canon EOS 70D - for amateur to semi-pro level filmmaking
  • Rode Video Micro Pro / Smart Lav + lavalier Mic
  • Canon 50mm f1.8 prime lens - for Bokeh
  • Canon 10:18mm lens - for arm-length selfie mode filming
  • Sigma 50 mm f1.4 prime lens - for proper filmmaking, it's too heavy for anything else
  • Joby GorillaPod SLR-Zoom tripod

And lastly, for Go Pro / action cam footage (predominantly timelapses), I am using:

The keen-eyed knowledgeable types will notice that there's no fancy tripod or fluid head, for smooth panning and tilting, or other pro audio gear, lights etc. These are all other issues to resolve for more dramatic shooting. Right now, it's about speed and it's about getting the shot - as life is happening. That other gear will come. Of that I'm sure.

With all this type of gear, don't underestimate the shots you can get with an ipad, or an iPhone / smart phone or just with a GoPro / action cam. You don't need half of that other gear. It's just so easy to film with a Go Pro or a phone and get it right into your editing system. Trust your eye and whatever device you have with you just use it! There's no point to any devices or gadgets if you don't use them. The other gear comes in as soon as you start thinking about achieving different / better aesthetic / quality levels - but you don't need to buy it all now. Play and experiment and choose wisely. And always have one of your devices with you. The iPhone obviously wins out for always being with me, but the GoPro is also very portable and fits into a pocket (although is chunkier).

As soon as you add in DOF adapters and lenses you add a f*ckload of weight to your bag / carry around weight and the potential for grasping with and failing to focus, as soon as you deviate from automatic settings. In fact the DSLR automatic mode is great for Vlogging, and brilliant at keeping you in focus, but scary when you step outside of it, until you learn what you're doing. Again the iPhone wins out as long as you just use fixed lenses / the lens it already came with. As soon as you add the Beastgrip Pro to the iPhone you need a microphone, as the mount gets in the way of the phone's microphone, also - for any decent sound quality just don't rely on the built-in mic, and you need to preset the focus to ensure that you are in focus when talking to the lens. Add one mic on. If you do one thing, add a mic. You seriously can't rely on built-in mics for sound.

The GoPro is awesome. And you can get rid of the annoying fish eye effect in the free GoPro Studio app. Its timelapses and other modes are great - as is the ability to conect via Wifi to your iPhone, so you can see what you're capturing in real time, like a monitor. Also it's small, so you can leave it in public spaces and get unobtrusive shots. Covert guerilla filming is definitely more achievable.

Anyway, I could talk about this for ages. I'm still playing though and still learning. And I have a few more bits of gear to use first before I share more findings.

This is all going to help when getting back into filming dramatic material. Vlogging is about playing - for me anyway. It's about taking risks in a low risk environment and having fun with it. It's about forcing me to create footage and to edit it, quickly. It's about retraining my eye. And it's about relaxing. Soon this will pay off when shooting the next short film. More about that later. But join me, have fun, try it - and let me know how it goes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tagged as: 2 Comments
12Sep/100

Transcoding DSLR footage and Radial Dolly

Great article video on using FCP Studio's Compressor app to Transcode footage for your editing workflow. Obviously the same principles apply to working with iPhone 4 footage etc.

The article: http://filmmakeriq.com/2010/01/the-dslr-filmmakers-workflow/ - and check out all the other articles on the site. There's some really useful material on there.

The video:

Here's a great example of what can be shot on the 550D - if you know how - and combined with CG to create a stunning final product:

The 3rd Letter (aka "36 stairs") trailer from grzegorz jonkajtys on Vimeo.

Nice.

Here's another great video to show the kind of audio setup you can use to record separate audio and when to use software like Plural Eyes to sync it up later on your timeline for post:

How-to: Shooting ENG style with Dual System Audio on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II from Createasphere on Vimeo.

Yes, my brief encounter with a Canon 550D DSLR has inspired me. I am geeking out on the kind of footage that can be acquired. Especially when you factor in this cunning design for a tabletop Radial / Micro Dolly!

here's the video to show you how they made it, with example footage:

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14Aug/100

iPhone 4 filming

So a while back I got hold of an iPhone 4 deliberately to play with its HD filming capabilities; because I was dismayed at the utter lack of filming over the last 15 months of hell in my old job and also wanted to negate any excuses that I might have for the future: such as, I haven't time to charge my video cameras up; I've run out of tape; I haven't got my camera on me and am unable to capture this marvellous event happening in front of my eyes etc. Especially now that I've changed jobs for the better and am in a much more saner plane of existence, my excuse pool is very much shallower. ;0)

I know that the quality of footage will never hold up next to a Semi-pro HDV Camcorder when you're needing to be able to push the footage in post, as there's so little visual information to play with in comparison. I also knew that there wasn't going to be even half as much control over what I shot or the quality of the sound. However, for quick 'making of's' on set, for doing possible video blogs / podcasts, or capturing something worth sharing on the net that didn't require the post polish, it was going to be a damn sight better than a Flip type camera.

It was the fact that you can now install the iMovie video editing app on it, and unlike any other phone out there [to my knowledge] you can film and edit and upload all from your mobile phone, that swung it for me and made me sign up to an exorbitant contract for pitiful data rates. But like any cynical sod, I firstly wanted to fully research the workflow and conduct a few misguided experiments. I wasn't going to rush out there like many did, just to be the first iPhone movie (shot and edited on the iPhone exclusively) on the net; although the day I picked up the phone I was instantly inspired to write a very easy to shoot low budget comedy horror short - more news on that soon.

READ MORE...(see link bottom right)

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