Category Archives: NEWS

“Bridges” Documentary

Bridges PosterOver Spring 2015, I had the privilege to work as a producer on the full-lengthdocumentary titled “Bridges.”  The subject of this documentary is returning veterans and the difficulties they face transitioning to civilian life. “Returning from war should be a joyous occasion, but for those with PTSD, coming home is difficult,” says Brandon Berman, digital media faculty and executive producer and director of the documentary. “PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or seeing a terrifying event, such as the aftermath of war. ‘Bridges’ takes you into the lives of some returning veterans and gives you an inside look at some of the personal obstacles each has faced. The documentary also focuses on solutions as it explores ways that veterans and their loved ones can identify these obstacles.” –  You can check out the Web page here: http://bridgesdocumentary.tumblr.com or our Facebook  page here: www.facebook.com/bridgesdocumentary.

A Tale of Two Lenses

Canon TV C-16 21.6mm-129mm F2.7 Zoom

Canon TV C-16 21.6mm-129mm F2.7 Zoom


Since my Panasonic GH series cameras can be adapted to use just about any lens, I am always keeping an eye out at thrift stores for vintage 35mm still camera and16mm motion picture and TV lenses. Usually when you find a lens in a thrift store it is usually either overpriced, not very special, or is in poor condition. I was very pleasantly surprised when my wife found not one, but two interesting lenses in the same week at the same thrift store. Continue reading

Introducing The Rail Runner Camera Dolly System

Rail Runner with DSLR

The Rail Runner system with ball head and DSLR

Many filmmakers and videographers are looking for an affordable and portable camera dolly system to add smooth tracking shots to their productions. The Rail Runner camera dolly system is a versatile, and portable camera dolly system that delivers the benefits of a skate dolly combined with the smoothness and versatility of a rail dolly.  With its exclusive “rail hugger” wheel system, the dolly can be used on any flat surface for orbiting, low angle, and tabletop product shots; or the dolly can be mounted on rails or ride on wood planks for ultra-smooth long tracking shots. Continue reading

Why I Love Final Cut Pro X (The minority report, despite the tar and feathering by my peers.)

NOTE: Since writing this post, I have found serious flaws in Final Cut Pro X. Please see the follow-up post “How FCP X Broke My Heart.”

Okay, first sentence; it’s not perfect. But something this revolutionary, never is. In the words of Morpheus, you need to “Free your mind.”

FCPX GUI

iMovie Pro...Not!

I should just say that I have been editing video as a profession since 1985 and I’ve worked on everything from old CMX tape editors to KEM flatbed film editors to most the NLEs out there, I’ve edited national PBS shows and I teach Final Cut Pro editing at the local community college.
The most important thing I ask of an NLE is that it be fast and be intuitive. On these two counts, I’ve found Final Cut Pro X to be both. I’ll also add the caveat that while I’ve only logged about 16 hours using the new app, I’ve been able to do some pretty amazing stuff in that 16 hours.
Before I get to all the complaints that editors are posting (and they are well documented, to say the least) I want us all to take a deep breath and look at the bright side of life, as it relates to video editing. FCP7 was getting old, editors have been flocking to Premiere because of 64bit architecture, and “native editing” which FCP7 didn’t do. Also for the five editors in the world that edit 4K on a regular basis, FCP7 didn’t handle that workflow , so you had to use proxies (boo hoo!) Well, ladies and gents, FCPX does do 64bit, “Native” editing and 4K. I’ll actually use that 4K editing for time lapses, so hooray for 4K! The 64 bit is nice and in case you haven’t noticed we’ve now got a whole new host of 64 bit effects, They alone are worth your $300 that you are crying about spending on a full-featured NLE. It’s even got “Looks” included. I do love Stu and Red Giant, but for the price of Red Giant Looks, I’ve got a whole NLE attached.

Titles and Text sucked in FCP7, They suck a whole lot less in FCPX, font previews is just one little thing that makes me edit faster, and everyone knows a fast editor is an employed editor. Oh yeah, those nice 64bit effects and transitions are rendering in background while I keep editing, I wonder if I’m going to miss the “render wander” hmm… no more billing for watching the render bar, no wonder some editors are upset.
Video editors hate making friggin’ slide shows. But almost every friggin’ project involves animating Joe the photographer’s wonderful stills into the project. At times I’ve contemplated (gag) going into iMovie just to use the Ken Burns effect. For the record, I hate iMovie and I would hate iMovie Pro, if that’s indeed what FCPX was (and it isn’t.) But if I can take a still sequence and Ken Burns it without having to key frame, that’s mo’ money in my pocket. Yet another FCPX feature that makes me a faster editor.
Once you get over the initial new GUI shock, FCPX turns out to be very intuitive. I was able to make some edits right away without even opening the Help menu, where all the documentation is stored, a far cry from the four volumes of dead tree manuals that came with FCP6. For me anyway, the trim window and the precision editor are far more intuitive than FCP7.  Slipping, sliding rippling, and extend edits are all a piece of cake. Also I have to mention how easy syncing is now. On FCP7 I have the Plural Eyes plug-in just to handle syncing dual system sound. I shoot with a DSLR, so most of the time I’m doing dual system sound. With FCP X it’s as easy as importing the sound clip and choosing “Synchronize Clip” from the Clip menu, that’s it ! It’s simple and just works.
I’ll have to say that initially I’m not a big fan of FCPX’s media management. You kinda have to get over the ideas of projects, sequences, and bins. And that’s sorta like saying you have to get over the idea of breakfast, lunch and dinner. And no “Save As” is just freaky. I’m thinking events are like projects used to be and projects are like sequences used to be. I’m still messing with this whole new paradigm, So I’m going to say that I need to mess with this more to judge it. But I will say this, there are those that are saying you can’t put footage on an external drive and that you can’t share projects and assets, That is just plain wrong. You can import clips to wherever you want, and FCPX can use them, it does give you the option to copy the clips to the same drive as your project file, but you can opt out if you wish. And you have menu options for sharing and copying assets and projects for another editor to use. It’s no Final Cut Server, but big post houses that are running FCP Server are going to stick with FCP7 as long as their slow moving corporate giant minds will allow.
That brings me to “native” editing. Why the hell do you want to edit h.264 on a SD card natively? Because you like to be slow? Okay, most of you are smart enough to transfer your cards to the hard drive where you can import them into the NLE for editing. But then you say “I’m editing H.264 natively” you may think you are, but for all those edits you’re making, the NLE has to transcode and make I frames and reconstruct the GOP structure, that’s just the way it is. So while FCPX will let you do that now, the smarter way to edit is to let FCPX turn all that long GOP crap into beautiful 422 I framed ProRes for you in the background while you edit away “natively” and when you export your project , you’ve got a nice archival quality ProRes copy of your program. You DO have an archival ProRes copy of every program that you create, don’t you?
If you are worried about output formats, spring $50 for the new compressor or use your old compressor on your exported master file. And if you need to go to tape, you really should already have AJA or Matrox or Black Magic hardware. DVD? You probably already have DVD Studio Pro and the DVD standard isn’t going anywhere soon, so upgrading DVDSP is pointless. Blu-ray? You can output to an external burner and you even have limited custom menu options available in Compressor.
At this point I should point you to the excellent David Pogue article where he talks to Apple product managers to dispel many of the myths about FCPX. You can read that article here: Pro editors weigh-in on Final Cut Pro X
Now, let me tell you what i hate/ dislike or need to have added to FCPX. I need AAF export or XML export to send projects to After Effects. I need round-tripping or multitrack export to Soundtrack Pro or (gag) OMF export to send audio to Poor Tools (SIC.) Multi-Cam would be nice, although I don’t use it much in FCP7. I need more numeric input options. There are a lot of the time where I’m editing “by the numbers”, so knowing where to type in time code numbers for ins, outs and durations would be great. You should be able to tag clips on import like the old “Log and Transfer.” I’ve found in the “Import from Devices” window that you can import partial clips from devices, but you can’t label them in that window before importing them.
Finally, I’m going to directly quote David Pogue as to the bottom line:
“Professional editors should (1) learn to tell what’s really missing from what’s just been moved around, (2) recognize that there’s no obligation to switch from the old program yet, (3) monitor the progress of FCP X and its ecosystem, and especially (4) be willing to consider that a radical new design may be unfamiliar, but may, in the long term, actually be better.”

Holy S…ony, The New NEX-VG10 Fires First

Sony NEX-VG10Nobody expects the Sony inquisition! In a surprise announcement, last week Sony unveiled it’s APS-C sensor based interchangable lens camcorder. It’s no surprise that Sony would be working on such a product, knowing that Panasonic is planning on releasing the HF100 on December first. What is surprising is that Sony demoed a working NEX-VG10 London this week and and that it will be available in September (and pre-order today at Sony Style stores) for about $2000!
Why is this camera impressive? First, is that it uses the same APS sensor as the Sony NEX still cameras and that it can use the same “E-mount” and A-Mount” (with an adapter) lenses as it’s DSLRs. It will ship with the E18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS as it’s kit lens. Secondly, is that it shoots 1920 x 1080i @ 24Mbps. Sony is still stuck on interlaced video (Why? WHY?!) but at least you can shoot on SD cards and you’re not stuck with memory sticks. But the most impressive thing is the shipping date and the price. I can’t wait to see what the other manufactures are going to do to follow Sony’s act.
You can check out Sony’s VG10- showcase video on Vimeo and check out the specs on DP Review.

Panasonic Releases More AF100 Info.

Panasonic Ag AF-100

AF100 with a PL mount cine lens

Panasonice released more detailed specs for their new micro four thirds format digital camcorder. Panasonic appears to have beaten other camera manufaturers to the punch in producing a affordable large sensor, interchangable lens digital cinema camera. This camera capitalizes on the HDSLR “film look” craze pioneered by the Canon 5Dmk2 and the Panasonic GH1 DSLR cameras in a more production friendly form factor. Panasonic promises to ship the  AF100 on December 1, 2010 for about $6K.Who knows if the much anticipated, much delayed Red Scarlet will actually be shipping by then. I’m actually hoping that the Scarlet is released for the promised $3K price, so that Panasonic will rethink the $6K price tag that they are floating araound.

Here are some of the specs that Panasonic released:

A 4/3-inch Image Sensor with Digital Still Camera Technology
The same digital single lens still camera technology that’s gathering widespread attention for its innovative motion image techniques, has been applied to this camera recorder.
The 4/3-inch MOS image sensor, with an imaging area similar to that of 35 mm movies, lets you easily shoot film-like movies with the shallow depth of field and soft focus of a film camera lens.
Micro Four Thirds Lens Mount
A wide variety of lenses for Micro Four Thirds standard digital SLR cameras can be used for shooting movies.
With the proper mount adaptor, it is also possible to mount 35mm film camera lenses and prime lenses, to render images that maximize lens characteristics.
Extended Recording in AVCHD
High-Quality PH Mode:  The AVCHD recording format used by the AG-AF100 includes a professional PH mode with maximum AVCHD bit rate for stunning
image quality. Two SD card slots allow continuous recording for up to 12 hours* in PH mode and up to 48 hours* in HE mode with two SD SD/SDHC/SDXC) cards on board.

*Using two 64-GB SDXC Memory Cards.

Multi HD Format and Multi Frame Rate

The AG-AF100 records in 1080:59.94i/50i/29.97p/25p/23.98p or 720:29.94p/50p/29.97p/25p/23.98p with its multi HD format.  When recording in 720p mode, you can render movie-like images with effects like slow and quick motion. The Dynamic Range Stretcher, Gamma Select and other image features have also been inherited from previous Panasonic professional camera recorders.

A Professional Design with HD-SDI, XLR and Other Interfaces

The AG-AF100 features HD-SDI output, XLR audio 2 channel input, and other interfaces that are typically found on professional camera recorders. Time code recording also supports precise video production. In addition to its compact, lightweight body, the AG-AF100’s professional camera recorder design with grip, handle and large viewfinder firmly support reliable camera work.

Download the Panasonic  AF100 PDF brochure

Panasonic previews the AG-AF100 camcorder at NAB

Panasonic AG-AF100

Panasonic AG-AF100

Panasonic showed off a mock-up of the AG-HF100 at NAB. The AF100 is a “Hybrid” camcorder that uses the micro 4/3 sensor from the Lumix GH1. This allows the use of a wide variety of interchangeable lenses, including 35mm still camera lenses. The AF100 features a camcorder body with XLR audio inputs and uses the AVCHD codec for video and linear PCM for audio. Panasonic says it will be available in December and go for about $6000 US. Considering that the anticipated pricing for the Lumix GH2 is $1500, I’m hoping that Panasonic will lower the price of the AF100 to the $3K range.

Waiting for parts

The trouble with sourcing critical Jaybilizer parts from B&H and Adorama is that they are both closed for Passover. I’m out of stock with some parts of the Jaybilizer 3000 and Adorama wont start shipping again until Wednesday April 7. Hopefully with UPS two day I’ll have parts on Friday or Saturday. This is an unfortunate downside of just in time production. I had to post a notice that I am temporarly out Jaybilizer 3000sand am down to one Jaybilizer HDSLR in stock.

Introducing Jaybilizer.com and the Jaybilizer HDSLR

I finally launched Jaybilizer.com as its own site. It is where I can sell my affordable cameras stabilizers and other camera support gear. To launch the site I’m introducing the Jaybilizer HDSLR Merlin type camera stabilizer specifically designed for the use with the Canon 5DMk2 DSLR. You can also get to Jaybilizer.com By clicking on the productscts tab on this site.
The Jaybilizer HDSLR is a Stedicam Merlin-like camera stabilizer that is optimized for shooting with the new generation of digital SLR cameras that shoot high definition video.

Jaybilizer HDSLR

These cameras produce stunning quality with a film-like narrow depth of field and ultra low light capabilities. The downside is that these cameras are unwieldy for shooting video. The Jaybilizer HDSLR solves this problem and allows photographers and cinematographers to do Steadicam-like “flying” shots. The Jaybilizer is constructed of high quality steel and 6061 aluminum, with a heavy duty steel ball gimbal. The 8″ counterweight bar also acts as a tripod for easily setting down and storing the Jaybilizer. The Jaybilizer HDSLR is an affordable alternative to other expensive stabilizers, at $199 it cost only a quarter as much as the Steadicam Merlin.
The trouble with most camera stabilizers is that it is difficult and time consuming to properly balance a camera. The Jabilizer HDSLR makes this process much easier with both side to side and forward and backward infinitely adjustable sliding balance plates. The Jaybilizer is optimized for camera and lens combinations that weigh between 1.5 and 4 lbs. For lighter camcorders there is also the Jaybilizer 3000 which works with camera rigs up to 3 lbs.

Some of the DSLR cameras that the Jaybilizer HDSLR works with include:

Jaybilizer HDSLR with Lumix GH1

Jaybilizer HDSLR with Lumix GH1

The Canon 5DMK2
The Canon 7D
The Nikon D90
The Nkon D5000
The Lumix GH1
The Olympus E-P1
The Pentax K7

Jaybilizer HDSLR Key Features

* Inexpensive
* Steel ball gimbal
* heavy duty steel and machined 6061 aluminum construction
* Foam comfort grip
* Can be configured to shoot inverted
* Fully adjustable camera plate
* Easy one screw infinite side balance adjustment
* Works with a wide variety of camcorders and DSLRs
* Quick release camera plate
* Supports camera rigs up to 4 lbs
* Black Textured Satin Finish
* 25 counterweight washers
* 8″ counterweight bar allows you to store the Jabilizer HDSLR upright and improves balance.

Dual adjustable  sliding plates

Dual adjustable sliding plates


Counterweight bar

Counterweight bar


Single screw side balance adjuster

Single screw side balance adjuster