excerpts, quips, and musings on the production and post-production industry, and other stuff of interest

Atomos Shogun Release Delayed

We know that the cornerstone of our success in the last 4 years has been delivering the technology professionals need at the right time & price without any sacrifice for reliability & performance in the field. So while we feel everyone’s pressure to have Shogun available, we refuse to release a single sub-standard Atomos feature. We will not treat our community of users as Beta testers and will not release the Shogun until the standard we are famous for has been met.

Well if that isn't a shot at Blackmagic, specifically, and RED more generically then I don't know what is! Though I appreciate them taking the time to perfect the firmware...whether or not they achieve that remains to be seen.

The GH4 and DSLR Cinematography

In fairness though, the GH4 is not so much a ‘replacement’ for a professional cinema camera, more an additional option for the filmmaker which will be selected when the unique abilities of the tool are required by certain work. The simple fact that there’s even a comparison to be made to a $15,000 cinema camera says a lot about how far Panasonic has reached to connect with filmmakers.

I think you could also say how well designed, both ergonomically and technologically, the C300 is, that even after 3 years of being on the market it still sells/rents so well. As a corporate video pro the C300 is my preferred camera for shoots. I can shoot outside in bright daylight, inside in a dimly lit environments with minimal extra gear (rigs, recorders, XLR packs, screens, etc.). Everything I need to pull of a quick shot is onboard the C300 from Day 1. Even today in the growing world of 4k this and 4k that, the C300 still creates a crisp 1080p image that I turn to time and again for my day-to-day work.

That said, there are more and more cameras that are starting to look appealing to me (none of which are DSLR based cameras). Specifically, the Sony FS7, when it ships, looks like another winner for cinema, corporate, or event shooters. The XAVC codec continues to get praise from every corner of the industry. Sony may have finally produced a camera "for the rest of us" in the FS7 for around $8K according to pre-order pages.

BMD Firmware Provides In-Camera Formatting

Blackmagic Design has released another significant firmware update, providing a feature that all users have missed since day 1, in-camera formatting.

Since they unified the code base of the BMD cameras it does seem that we've been getting firmware updates faster and more regularly. Strange thing is that these features are so long in coming in the first place. And why do firmware updates come to the BMPC4K first? Does BMD consider that their flagship camera?

Does Sensor Size Matter?

So that brings us to the physical size difference. Is that such a big deal? The thing that I would first consider is depth of field. The larger the sensor, the shallower the depth of field you get at a given aperture. I’ve run a few tests for myself and I have yet to see a big difference in this regard from APS to full frame. When I jump to the Phase? That’s when it shows up. Night and day difference on not just the amount of fall off with focus, but the way the focus falls off. I hate the term bokeh because 99% of the time I hear people use that word they have no idea what in the hell they are talking about. It’s become this catch phrase for “out of focus” or “shallow depth of field.” When people say, “Wow. I love the bokeh in your pictures,” that’s a pretty good sign that they don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s how much focus falls off then there’s how it falls off.

There's always quite a debate when any new camera is announced about how big the sensor size is. Terms like full frame, crop sensor, Super 35, Micro 4/3, or Super16 get tossed around on blogs (like this one) and forums. Having shot many of the formats above sensor size does make a difference, but I don't think it makes as big of a difference as the pixel peepers would like to make it out to be. I think Zack has some good illustrative pictures on his post that support his claim that sensor size just doesn't matter that much. Nearly, all of the movies shot digitally are technically shot on a crop sensor camera, Super 35 (i.e. not full frame) - Skyfall, Gravity, Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Zero Dark Thirty, Captain America, World War Z, Guardians of the Galaxy (and that list is just the Arri Alexa, not counting RED or Canon C cameras). I don't remember thinking in any of those movies about how bad the falloff looked due to a Super 35 sensor....!

Blackmagic Wasn't Joking

Apparently, BMD wasn't joking around when they said a unified code base for their cameras would speed up firmware updates for their cameras. After just adding a slew of ProRes updates to all their cameras, BMD announced today that they are updating the BMPC4K with options that are sorely needed (I anticipate these will be available for the cinema camera soon):

  1. On Screen Histogram
  2. Time Remaining indicator for storage space
  3. Audio level indicators

More information is available here on the BMD update here. Initial testing on my BMPC4K is stable so far.