Reading The Tea Leaves

Curved At CineGear this year, I had a short discussion with Matthew Duclos of Duclos Lenses.  We both sort of agreed that the push to full frame cinema cameras was in some respects more about selling new sets of gear and lenses rather than any argument about quality.  We also sort of laughed about the extra burden placed on the poor focus pullers of the world with full frame depth of field!  You only need to look at the Super 35mm RED Weapon 8K Helium camera to know that the move isn’t required to achieve more surface area for photon gathering, or more resolution.  It’s very good in low light, and though RED has been pushing 4K for a decade now, it’s only recently that studios are finishing their films in 4K, so an 8K originating format should last us for a good long while.  You can make an argument about the art side of the equation and that there is a certain look that comes from shooting at 65mm or larger, and it’s a very valid argument, but I’d like to focus on the technical need aspects.  I argued to Matthew that curved sensors were going to lead to a revolution in lens design.  He wasn’t convinced.

90% of people upgrade their only camera every two years when they get a new phone.  Phone cameras have decimated the point & shoot market, leaving the higher end market as the only place where manufacturers can eek out a profit.  As I argued here, I feel that the manufacturer with the best technology (Sony) is going to win the bulk of the higher end market.  It will take a while to overcome the inertia of tradition and bias, but eventually, it will happen.  But what about the very high end: the medium format world?  Here, higher resolution has been the main incentive coaxing photographers to upgrade.  Like the DSLR market though, even that is reaching a point of diminishing returns.  The medium format world is a little different in that there are complete cameras, but there are also imaging backs that detach from the camera and lens assembly.  Sony has entered this world supplying what is arguably the best current sensor technology to Phase One.  But you know that they want to bring their own complete product to the fore.  How to differentiate themselves?  As with their A9 camera, by bringing technology to bear that no one else can: a curved sensor and line of lenses designed for it.  When all the light is being focused at the same distance, lenses should get smaller, vignetting issues and corner sharpness should improve, and since the photons have a “straight shot” at each sensor bucket, I would imagine light gathering ability and colour performance will improve.  And what type of sensor can best take advantage of these benefits?  Larger sensors.  Sony announced at NAB that a cinema camera with a full frame sensor is coming.  Will it too have a curved sensor and special lenses?  Will rental houses buy the camera if they have to buy yet another set of lenses after just equipping themselves for “flat sensor” full frame cameras?

Nikon

After hammering Nikon in my A9 article above about how they don’t have the technological chops to compete with Sony, there’s the possibility that they are about to make their great step in modernization by finally unveiling a serious mirrorless camera….with a full frame curved sensor.  Is Nikon about to abandon their legacy users in one great leap forward?  Maybe.  Again, a curved sensor would require all new lenses, meaning money for a struggling company.  Was I wrong in saying Nikon can’t keep up?  Maybe.  Did they design the rumoured sensor?  I don’t know, maybe they are sourcing it from another manufacturer.  Who?  Could it be……Sony?  A lot of conjecture with no actual facts, but interesting times ahead.

When George Lucas went digital for the prequels, he said something to the effect of, “Film is at the apex of its development, it will never get significantly better than it is now.  Digital will only get better.”  Prescient.  Pretty hard to make a cinema camera that uses curved film!  Having said that, “The Force Awakens” was shot on film.  Remember the art side of the equation?

RED’s Latest Tease

RED has forever changed the digital cinema market, so any time they launch a new product it’s news.  Having said that, they have a history of teasing and not following through.  I don’t know what to think of this latest offering.  Seems expensive for what it currently does.  It’s pretty amusing to read the comments on reduser.net.  Quite a few along the lines of “I’m not really sure what I just bought for $1600 but I love it!”  Plus they are already limiting expectations of how many they can produce.  Jarred Land himself calls their latest attempt at supplying a low cost camera in large numbers (the Raven) a “Clusterf-ck” and they stopped taking orders because they can’t keep up.  Doesn’t seem like they are scaled up to head into the consumer electronics world.  Time will tell.

Source: Red Hydrogen: Worlds first Holographic media player and mobile phone – Newsshooter

ARRI introduces Matte Box LMB-4×5 – ProVideo Coalition

(UPDATE:  If you are interested in this matte box, check out our comprehensive video about it from CineGear 2017)

ARRI has released a new Matte Box.  I always regret saying this, but if you need a 4×5.65 matte box, this appears to have all the bases covered.  I say regret because in trying to please everyone, inevitably there is always some needed feature left out.  In my opinion, ARRI and Bright Tangerine are competing for the top of the matte box world.  Interestingly on that front, ARRI is featuring a Bright Tangerine accessory in their video, but then they’ve never been shy about making accessories for other cameras too, not just Alexas.

So, clip-on with one, two or three stages and all common lens sizes.  All three rod standards from the bottom or the top.  138mm bellows.  Swing away.  Tilting stages.  Full 360 stage rotation.  Flags on all 4 sides that fold flat and can stay on the unit for storage.  Top and bottom mounts for a Cinetape or other accessories.  Insertable mattes.  Up-down and side-to-side fine tuning.  Ability to use some pre-existing parts from other ARRI matte boxes.  I think the only area lacking (and I’m just guessing here, I haven’t seen one in the wild) may be vignetting with super wide lenses and multiple stages.  That is more a limitation of the 4×5.65 size standard than anything any manufacturer does, not just ARRI.  Pretty comprehensive.

I’m sure it won’t be cheap, but then quality gear never is.

Source: ARRI introduces Matte Box LMB 4×5 by Jose Antunes – ProVideo Coalition

iZotope RX 6 Demo by Sweetwater Sound

The Post audio guys I know say they couldn’t do their job without the software tools provided by iZotope.  For those of you who don’t know, their software visualizes audio as a “spectrogram”.  Rather than just a loudness waveform, a spectrogram looks at frequencies and loudness over time.  The upshot of this is that problem audio can be visually isolated.  What’s that mean?  You can see a visual representation of the audio, and edit it visually.  Even simpler?  Draw a circle around the problem audio in the visual realm, and RX 6 will cut that specific part out of the audio realm while leaving the rest of the signal pretty much untouched.  It’s magical to watch in action and has saved editors countless hours.  Up until now it’s been fairly tailored to video professionals (that’s a broad statement I know, anybody can use any software for anything) but in this latest release, they are throwing in a few music related features.  Canadian (yay!) Geoff Manchester demos the latest changes for Sweetwater Sound.

So, let’s recap.  A solution that is essential to anybody serious about doing audio for Pro video.  Blackmagic Design has decided to get serious about audio for Pro video in their latest Resolve release by integrating their Fairchild purchase.  BMD virtually took over the color timing world by making Resolve free.  How long do you think it will be before BMD buys iZotope, integrates it into Resolve and “forces” everyone to give up Pro Tools?  I could see such a move taking them to the top of the audio for video market virtually overnight, especially considering the collaboration and editing tools they’re building into the latest Resolve.

I have zero inside knowledge, I’m simply speculating.  But I could see it happening…..

Michael Cioni: Do I Have Stockholm Syndrome with Apple?

It’s a fairly safe statement to say that few people know more about Apple and Post Production than Michael Cioni.  BTW, if you don’t know, his company Light Iron was acquired by Panavision a couple of years ago.

In a rather lengthy video posted by http://www.fcp.co, he puts forth that now is the time for the Apple Post community to come together and hold Apple’s feet to the fire over the new Mac Pros coming next year.  I totally agree, and gave Apple a little poke in the ribs earlier by comparing their statement on the current Mac Pro to Trump’s on health care.  Maybe a bit extreme, but while I am a huge Apple fan, I get a bit tired of sycophants genuflecting before the Great & Mighty Apple like they can do no wrong.

Give it a watch if you have the time.  At 25 minutes in he talks about a major change that’s happened recently that can help bring your older Mac into the modern age.

Source: Michael Cioni: Do I Have Stockholm Syndrome with Apple?

A Feature Interview With Blackmagic Design’s Bob Caniglia

It may not be an accurate measure, but the size of a company’s booth at NAB is some indicator of their size and position in the video production industry.  Using that metric, I think it’s safe to say that Blackmagic Design’s influence now ranks up there with some of the biggest companies in the industry.

They launch interesting products every year, and their aggressive pricing has forced competitors to adapt (or fall by the wayside).  I didn’t cover this year’s releases.  There’s a hundred sites that are, and you can watch Blackmagic’s own press conference here.

Instead, I asked to sit down with a corporate representative to talk about their growth, how they view themselves, and possible future directions.

One reason for their success is their open corporate structure, openness that allowed a small blog access to a corporate officer.  I thank them.

Curtis Judd gives his picks of NAB 2017 so far….

One of the cool things about NAB is that by its nature, it’s full of media people.  By that I mean the people that create media, but also the people that are in that media.  I talked about scaring Matt Allard earlier, I tried to be a little cooler when I stumbled upon Mr. Curtis Judd and his brother Today.  I know him from his excellent Youtube channel “Learning Light & Sound”.

His presentation is very polished, he explains things in a clean logical manner, and he backs up his conclusions with data.

They had gotten to the show late, and so hadn’t had much of a chance to see the sights, but he was nice enough to sit down and share a few of his thoughts.  Thanks Curtis, it was nice to meet you.

BTW, the two items he’s interested in I’ve covered: the light is here, and the recorder is here.