Tag Archives: film

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

Why the (hacked) Panasonic GH1 is a better video camera than the Canon5DMk2

If you are a Canon 5Dmk2 fanboy you may want to shut your eyes. The lowly Panasonic GH1 just got supercharged with a firmware hack that makes a great HDSLR video camera even better. Here is my list of things that make the GH1 a better video camera than the 5D. First let’s take a look at the 800-pound gorilla in the room, The Canon has a full frame 35mm sensor, therefore, there is no crop factor when using 35mm lenses. Canon’s full size sensor is 4 times the size of the 4/3rds sensor in the GH1, which also means that the Canon must compress 4 time the data for the same bandwidth, all thing being equal (which they are not.) Supposedly the 5D is writing data at 35Mbs, compared to the (stock) 17Mbs of the GH1, which means that it’s still throwing away half again as much data as the GH1 (4 time the sensor and only twice as much data as the GH1).

GH1 Camera rig

My GH1 Camera Rig

But the GH1 has a secret, with the Ptools firmware hack from Tester13, the GH1 can shoot true 1080P 24fps with no pulldown at 50Mbs. And since both cameras use h.264 compression, with the software hack, the GH1 is compressing the data from its sensor far less.

But there’s more, the GH1 hack also enables the 1080P mode using MJPEG compression at 100Mbs for short shots. While this setting is kind of like using nitrous and it’s really pushing the limits of the camera, it is a real boon if you want to get the highest quality video possible. The advantage that motion JPEG has over h.264 is that it only uses spatial compression instead of the temporal and spatial compression of h.264. This means prettier pictures. His holiness, Phillip Bloom posted a great blog post on what the firmware hack brings to the GH1 which you can read on his blog.
I’ll admit that image quality is close enough between these two cameras that the 5D might win if that were the only issue. But the GH1 is a far more usable camera than the 5D, First off, for shooting video you can’t beat the fold out LCD screen on the GH1. It’s just better than the Live View screen on the 5D, period, even with a Z-finder. Second, the GH1 has continuous auto focus when using the kit lens. With 5D in live mode, you are stuck with whatever focus you had when you started recording. Thirdly, even un-hacked the GH1 can shoot 30fps 1/2 speed slow motion. You just shoot at 60fps 720p and play back the footage at 30fps, no frame blending or doubling, just plain good old fashioned over-cranking.
Okay, Let’s talk about glass. The 5D still uses an optical viewfinder, which means it has a pentaprism and a mirror, which it must flip up to take video, which, of course, makes the optical viewfinder unusable. This arrangement also means that the Canon has a deep flange distance. the flange is the measurement from the back of the lens to the surface of the sensor. Traditional film and video lenses have a short flange distance and don’t work well with 35mm SLR bodies. The GH1 has no optical viewfinder and therefore has a very short flange distance, which means it can use practically any 35mm SLR, video or film lens that someone is willing to make a adapter for. There is even a PL mount adapter that cost as much as the GH1, so that you can use cine lenses that cost 100 times as much the GH1. I use all my old Canon FD SLR lens as well as some Minolta, Olympus, and16mm film lenses and even cheap CCTV lens with my GH1.
Finally, let’s take a look at the form factor. The 5D is big and relatively heavy DSLR. Great if you’re trying to impress other photographers or the bridesmaids at a wedding shoot, not so good if you’re actually trying to shoot steady handheld video. The GH1 is lighter, smaller, more balanced and just plain easier to handle.
I won’t argue that the Canon 5DMK2 is a great still camera, and better than the GH1. But when it comes to real world video shooting and video quality, 5D, you’ve been served!

Mea Culpa, GH1 Sound test

Mea Cupla is a short film exercise for my sound design class at Front Range Community College. The dialog and action were totally improvised and the video was shot in a half hour (still enough to irritate some other teachers :-)) We were testing recording second system sound using a Marantz PMD661 digital recorder and a EV RE-15 microphone on a boom. I was also testing shooting with the Panasonic GH1 camera at 720p at 60fps, the project was edited in Final Cut Pro 6 with a 29.97fps timeline. I used 50% speed with no frame blending for the slow motion shots. And finally I want to demonstrated some running tracking shots with the Jaybilizer3000 DIY camera stabilizer. The entire video was shot with a Panasonic GH1 camera using available light at ISO 1600 on my Jaybilizer3000 DIY camera stabilizer

Credits:
A Jay Shaffer Film
MGD-163 Sound Design Class:
Tim Brazzell
Matthew Cooper
Daniel Davenport
Susan Glarion
Brett Hughes
Roldan Melcon
Andrew Parkins
Nicholas Ramirez
Gavin Townsend

Panasonic GH1 Jaybilizer3000 torture test

Panasonic GH1 Jaybilizer3000 torture test from Jay Shaffer on Vimeo.

Testing the GH1 on my DIY Merlin-type camera stabilizer (the Jaybilizer3000 jaybilizer.com )
This is kinda a worse case scenario, I was testing for rolling shutter with rapid side to side movement and to see how 24fps looked when moving quickly on a stabilizer also I wanted to see how smooth the camera was on the stabilizer. Obviously for real production footage I would have slowed down my motion to smooth out the 24p.

The Ten Best Bargains for No-Budget Filmmakers

  1. The Lumix GH1 $1500
    Lumix the Red, Scarlet slayer

    Lumix the Red, Scarlet slayer

    Okay okay, I know $1500 is a lot of scratch, but hear me out as to why you should use this camera to shoot your next no-budget indie film. Sure, being a DSLR Hybrid, it’s not as versatile and as easy to use as a camcorder especially for “Run and Gun” shooting (see the HF S1000 below), but for film style shooting this thing is the cat’s pajamas.
    First off there is no need to get a DOF lens adaptor to give you shots that narrow depth of field and nice bokeh in the background. This camera’s Leica G Vario HD 14-140mm F4.0-5.8 lens kit lens is a really nice 10x zoom, but the real story is because of the micro 4/3 lens mount and it’s narrow flange depth you can adapt just about any 35mm, 35mm cine, 16mm cine or 2/3 inch video lens to the thing.
    A couple other positives is that it uses SDHC cards to record AVCHD video. that you can drop strait into your editing workflow or use VoltaicHD 24p software to import full HD 24p. Also unlike the Nikon D90 and the Canon Rebel T1i this camera allows you full manual control over exposure and it even has a external stereo mic input.
    I know some of you are waiting on a Scarlet. and yes, the Scarlet does have variable frame rates and XLR inputs,and yes it may be worth it to wait in line and spend twice as much money on a Red 2/3″ Scarlet, but remember that the GH1’s sensor is bigger than even the Red One’s. Oh, and it actually comes in red.

  2. Canon VIXIA HFS100 HD Flash Memory Camcorder ~$900 street price
    For a couple of years now the low budget camcorder of choice was the Canon HV series ( the HV-20 HV-30 and the HV-40) so why the S100? It has all the features of the HV-40 and It shoots full 1920X 1080P at 24Mbs on SDHC cards and is under a thousand bucks on the street. ’nuff said.
  3. The Manfrotto/Bogen 701HDV,547BK Video Tripod System Kit $300 from B&H
    If your camera rig is less than 8.8 pounds then this is the tripod and fluid head you need. The 701 is buttery smooth for light camcorders and DSLRs and these two stage aluminum legs are super-solid for the price. If your rig is haevier then throw down an extra $60 for the Manfrotto 501 head that is comfortable up to 13 lbs.
  4. Audio Technica ATR-55 Condenser Shotgun Microphone $50 street price
    Sure you could spend over $500 on a Sennheiser ME-88 shotgun mic (if you had a budget) but for improving basic camcorder mics you can’t beat this package. You get a nice sounding shotgun condenser mic with a mini and 1/4″ connector and a hotshoe mount plus a boom or stand mount for the price of a smooze lunch.
  5. the Cavision Rs1580D-SPE Shoulder mount rail system $200 from B&H
    Nothing sexes up your camera rig like a rail system,and when you need to take the camera handheld having a dual-handle shoulder mount system will save your film as well as your back. The Cavision set-up wins by a hair over the $269 indiRAILSpro XVsm from Indiefocus.com because of it’s adjustable shoulder pad and extra $70 in your pocket.
  6. JAG35pro DOF Adapter $300
    If you have a small sensor camcorder, that wide depth of field is a dead giveaway that you shooting no budget video.. You want teenie-weenie depth of field to give you those luscious soft focus backgrounds for that big budget film look.
    There are tons of DOF adators and plans for DOF adaptors out there, but Jehu Garcia cut through all the BS and went and produced the best bragain 35mm DOF adaptor out there. You can spend 4 times as much on a Letus, but you won’t be getting any better video for your money. You can get the JAG35 Pro Frig-rig and a frig-rig rail system for under $600 and forget item #5.
  7. DFocus follow focus $100
    David Aldrich broke the price barrier on follow focus systems. If you are using 35mm lenses on a JAG35 or manual focus lenses on a DSLR rig, the DFocus system will give you repeatable control over those trick narrow focus shots.
  8. Budget Matte Box $189
    Most of the time matte boxes on camcorder rigs are just set dressing. Screw-on filters and a black cardboard french flag are all you really need. But if you do ever need to use 4X4 Filters or actually pull an in-camera matte and look sexy doing it, you need a matte box I think spending over $350 for a matte box without filters is ridiculous, that’s why I recommend this $189 beauty from ImageWest.tv.
  9. Low budget fluorescent Soft lights $399
    Again, the nod goes to ImageWest for a set of large cool softlights. These babies give you that wrap-around light that make starlets look sultry and (ahem older ) actors look, well, like well-lit actors. Being flourescent they are a bazillion times cooler and energy efficient than halogens. And they will last at least until LED lights become affordable for us mortals.
  10. Manfrotto /Bogen Modo Steady 585 Camera Support $100

    modosteady
    Okay everybody knows Stedicam Merlins are WAAAY overpriced and I probably should have used this slot to hype my homebuilt “Jaybilizer 3000” but even I can’t match the features and price of the Modo Steady 585. This thing is a do-everthing Sham-wow with Ferrari styling. I’m surprised everybody doesn’t have one of these. It’s a shoulder brace, mini-tripod, and a Merlin type stabilizer that folds up like a swiss army knife and is so cute it will have hotties signing model releases in nothing flat.
    Let’s just keep this a secret and I’ll give you a price-break on the Jaybilizer 3000 (which will handle a heavier camera than the Modo, BTW)

    The Jaybilizer3000 - Taking orders soon!

    The Jaybilizer3000 - Taking orders soon!

How To Build a DIY Steadycam Camera Stabilizer Under $50




How To Build a DIY Steadycam Camera Stabilizer Under $50 from Jay Shaffer on Vimeo.
How to build the JayCam MkII Merlin-type camera stabilizer. Jay Shaffer demonstrates how to use inexpensive parts to build an versatile stabilizer for camcorders like the Canon HV30.