August 29, 2012

Canon EOS C100 Super35 camera

Canon has announced a new entry-level HD large-sensor camera to compliment its existing C300 and the upcoming 4k-capable C500. The C100 records about half the data rate of the C300, but then it will cost about half the price….

The EOS C100 digital video camera is aimed at budget filmmaking. It records 1920x1080 HD video in the AVCHD codec (24Mbps, 4:2:0) to dual SD cards, for up to 12 hours recording on two 64GB cards.

Higher quality formats will require an external recorder, such as the Atomos Ninja 2 (via the C100’s uncompressed HDMI port – no HD-SDI, but the HDMI is lockable).

It has three seconds of cache recording, so you can capture what happened before you pressed the record button.

By replacing the C300’s Compact Flash recording, the C100 shrinks to about 85% of the size, and weighs 1020g (410g less than the C300).

It has push auto iris and one-shot auto focus – or full manual focus and exposure control, but it is being touted as being optimised for use by a single operator, although these auto functions are not available if shooting with Canon’s cinema lenses.

It also has a rotatable 3.5-inch LCD control panel, which is built-in rather than an add-on (as it is on the C300), plus a high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF). Thankfully, there are built-in ND filters (2, 4 and 6 stops), which gives it a key advantage over Sony’s NEX-FS100 and all DSLRs).

For audio, it has dual XLR inputs (on the detachable handle), recording linear PCM two-channel audio or Dolby digital two-channel audio.

Super35mm sensor

It promises “reduced rolling shutter artefacts” in interlaced mode, enhanced gamma modes, cinematic depth of field (from the Super35mm/APS-C sized sensor), and “excellent low-light performance”, which should be achievable as it appears to use the same 16:9 CMOS sensor as the C300 (which performs very well in low light and delivers excellent dynamic range of a consistent 12 stops through the ISO range).

It captures 8.4 megapixels, with individual Red, Green, and Blue channels for each full HD 1920x1080 frame, and provides an ISO range of from 320 to 20,000 for work in low light with “minimal picture noise”. It also uses Canon’s DIGIC DV III image processor for better colour rendition.

Frame rates

There are multiple recording modes, resolutions, and frame rates (60i, 50i, PF30, 25p, PF24 and 24p), plus enhanced gamma modes (including Wide Dynamic Range Gamma and Canon Log Gamma) for a peak dynamic range of 800% and wide exposure latitude for creative post-production image processing, colour correction, and contrast manipulation (although if you are recording AVCHD with 4:2:0 colour space, you lose a lot of that).

The C100 has a similar modular design to the C300, so you can add accessories to suit your shooting style. A removable side-mounted rotating grip with start/stop button and miniature "joystick" menu control provides almost SLR-like operation.

A detachable handle on top of the C100 includes dual XLR connectors, built-in stereo microphone, a bracket for an external microphone, audio-input level adjustments, and a tally light.

It can record to both SD cards simultaneously or relay-record from one card to the other, but also outputs uncompressed 4:2:2 HD via HDMI, including superimposed time code and 2:3 pull-down marker information. The HDMI is lockable, and if you’re using external recorders you really need this. Additional outputs include a USB connector and stereo headphone jack.

EF-mount lenses

The C100 can be fitted with EF-mount lenses (of which Canon makes more than 70 zoom and prime lenses in its EF, EF-S and EF Cinema lens line ups, with other lenses available from third-party manufacturers).

There are now seven EF Cinema lens models, which are more suited to video use than stills lenses.

There are four zooms: the compact, lightweight CN-E15.5-47mm T2.8 L wide-angle zoom and the CN-E30-105mm (pictured above) T2.8 L telephoto cinema zoom (available in EF and PL versions – with a list price of $24,500); the CN-E14.5-60mm T2.6 L wide-angle zoom and CN-E30-300mm T2.95-3.7 L telephoto zoom (also EF and PL).

The primes are: the CN-E24mm T1.5 L, CN-E50mm T1.3 L, and CN-E85mm T1.3 L prime lenses. Two new cinema primes, the 14mm T3.1 and 135mm T2.2 (pictured), were announced today for release in the Spring.

Price and availability

The EOS C100 should be available in November, with a list price of $7,999 – our local dealers are pricing it at about £4,160 + VAT (just under £5,000 inclusive) – about €5,250 or $6,500 – so it’s a little more expensive than an FS100, probably its nearest rival (but considering what it offers, probably better value).

By David Fox

August 24, 2012

CPUG Amsterdam SuperMeet at IBC

The Creative Pro User Group Network will be holding its Fifth Annual Amsterdam CPUG SuperMeet to coincide with IBC (the International Broadcasting Convention – Europe’s biggest broadcast conference and exhibition). 

There will be lots of presentations and demonstrations, including sneak peeks, and the seemingly endless raffle with more than €31,000-worth of production and post-production kit to be won.

As usual, it promises to be the biggest meet-up of Final Cut, Adobe, Avid and Autodesk editors and independent filmmakers during IBC. Food will be included and there is lots of opportunity to network.

It is being held in the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky on Dam Square. Doors open at 4:30pm with showcase of more than 20 software and hardware developers, such as: Adobe, Autodesk, Avid, Blackmagic Design, Red Giant Software, Atomos, Axle Video, B&H, Amsterdam's College Of Multimedia, Drobo, The Future Store, G-Technology, Mocha, Noise Industries, The Padcaster, pond5, Promise Technologies, Shutterstock, Sonnet Tech and X2Pro (many of whom are donating raffle prizes).

SuperMeet presentations begin at 7pm, and will include (not necessarily in this order):

The award-winning cinematographer John Brawley, who was the first to get his hands on the new Blackmagic Cinema Camera, will show what it can do and talk about how it works and his post workflow using Blackmagic Design’s new DaVinci Resolve 9.

Michael Cioni, CEO of Hollywood post facility Light Iron Digital will lead a discussion about how the changing media ecosystem is changing filmmaking, and talk about new workflow and creative opportunities. One of Light Iron’s specialities is on-site dailies, and it has created a couple of iPad apps: Live Play – an automated digital playback and on-set collaboration tool; and Todailies (below) – which gives directors, cinematographers, script supervisors, and key production personnel the ability to take home and review camera takes or pre-visualizations.

Ken La Rue and Marc-André Ferguson, from Autodesk, will run through the all-in-one workflow of the new Smoke, including dealing with green screen, keying, tracking, colour correction and editing. The Smoke 2013 pre-release trial will be available until December and can be downloaded at:

Adobe’s Al Mooney will give an update on Premiere Pro CS6, and share a peek at “some very exciting future technology”.

Avid’s Adam Green will be revealing Avid news from IBC, while Filmlight's Martin Tlaskal will show off Media Composer’s AVX2 plug-in architecture with the latest Baselight for Avid plug-in.

Freelance trainer/author, Simon Walker will demonstrate three new releases from Red Giant Software: Trapcode Mir, PluralEyes and Knoll Light Factory, the light effects tool developed by ILM Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll. Webby Award-winner Seth Worley (who made the brilliant Plot Device) has directed another excellent short film, Order Up, to show off what Knoll Light Factory 3 can do.

There are also likely to be other speakers, including independent film makers/editors.

Tickets cost €15 each online (€20 on the door), or €10 for students and teachers. But, you can save €5 off the ticket price by using the promotional code ibcvip when registering.

Also of interest during IBC will be DSLR Meetup 2012 Amsterdam with Philip Bloom on Saturday, September 8th at 8pm, at CafĂ© ‘De Pont’ behind Central Station (and a short trip on a free ferry). The theme of the evening is time lapse.

By David Fox

August 22, 2012

Scene files for Panasonic pro cameras

Panasonic users can change the look of the images captured by their P2 HD and AVCCAM HD camcorder using freely downloadable scene files from the company’s website.

The files can change lots of aspects of how a camera performs, from different frame rate to wide-ranging changes in the colour correction matrix and gamma used to specific create looks without having to manually change individual parameters or experiment to get the look you want. Panasonic’s selection of customized scene files each contain a unique look that can be stored in the camera or read from the camera's built-in SD Memory Card slot.

The latest files available are 18 for each of the following cameras: the AG-AC130 and AG-AC160 AVCCAM HD handhelds; the AG-HPX250 P2 HD handheld; the AG-AF100/AF101 large sensor HD cinema camera; and the AG-HPX370 (pictured above) and AJ-HPX3100 P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorders.

The 18 files come in three packages (styles, filmic, effects), each containing six files per download – except for the AJ-HPX3100, for which the files must be downloaded individually. If you have an AF101, you apparently have to change the camera name to AF101E in each of the three styles text entry (according to a comment on Creative Cow) - something similar might also apply to other variants, like the HPX371.

The Styles package includes: Clean, Portrait, Rich, SoftB (similar to using a black diffusion filter), SoftW (like a white diffusion filter), and Stylin (a bright, punchy look).

The Filmic package, for the film look, includes: Comedy, Drama (darker, grittier, more contrast), Hollywood, Super8, Flat (for grading in post), and Stark (for that Iron Man look… sorry, no, apparently for a highly stylized, brighter, more contrasty, washed out look, so more ‘Tony Stark’ than ‘Iron Man’).

The Effects package includes: DSLR, Ghosty (green and blue), Cold (blue), Night (darker blue), Hot (dusty), and Boost (for shooting in low light).

You’ll also find scene files for other Panasonic cameras on the page: with 33 for the AJ-HPX2700, AJ-HPX3700 and AJ-HPX3000; 31 scene files for the AJ-HPX2000; 16 for the AG-HPX500; 18 for the AG-HPX170 and AG-HPX300; and 20 for the venerable AG-HVX200/HVX200A.

Remember the HVX200 - It's good to see Panasonic still does...

By David Fox

August 17, 2012

Sony NEX-EA50 NXCAM camcorder

Sony’s new NEX-EA50 answers a demand that many camcorder users have for a large-sensor, low(ish)-cost camcorder you can use on your shoulder without having to buy some sort of rig. Certainly, our most popular post ever is one from two years ago on Shoulder-mounted AVCHD cameras – which is exactly what this is…

As the newest addition to the NXCAM range, the NEX-EA50 has a new form factor that should be more comfortable to hold however you like to shoot.

When its shoulder pad is extended, the camcorder can be balanced on the shoulder for extra stability, making it a lot easier to hold for long shooting times. When the shoulder pad is in its original position, the camcorder is compact enough for any style of handheld use.

Many of its specifications seem similar to the NEX-FS100, but it doesn't appear to use the same sensor. The camcorder, due to ship in October, features a large format sensor, E-mount lens system, shooting Full HD movies (and high-quality still photos), but is promised to meet a “more affordable price point than ever before” - about £2,700 - Creative Video has it for £2,499 + VAT, which is less than €3,200/$4,000.

The Exmor APS-C/Super35mm-sized HD CMOS sensor is claimed to offer low noise and high sensitivity in low light conditions. It also enables 1080 progressive and interlace recording with 50/60Hz selection at 50p/25p/50i or 60p/30p/24p/60i. It records AVCHD 4:2:0 at up to 28Mbps. It can also record standard definition MPEG-2.

“This all-in-one camcorder brings a new level of creativity to a wider range of professional users than ever before,” said Bill Drummond, Sony Europe. “It combines affordability and high performance with a range of versatile, professional features for many applications, including event production, budget movie making and corporate production.”

It will capture 16.1 megapixel still pictures and has a built-in mechanical shutter so it can deliver high shutter speeds while capturing stills.

The camera can be used with any Sony E-mount lens, which enables auto focus, auto exposure and stabilisation during shooting. It has a short flange back distance, so it is possible to attach Sony A-mount lenses via the LA-EA2 lens mount adapter, or a wide range of other manufacturer’s lenses using third-party adapters.

The NEX-EA50 comes with the newly developed Power Zoom E-mount lens E PZ 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS SELP18200. The 11x zoom includes auto focus, continuous variable iris and Optical Steady Shot image stabilisation with Active Mode, which should give a more stable shot.

The lens is electronically controlled via either the zoom rocker lever on the camcorder grip or the top handle, offering either a constant zoom speed or smooth, slow zoom.

Other camera functions include: two-channel XLR audio (an ECM-XM1 Shotgun microphone is included with the NEX-EA50H); Linear PCM audio; time code; user bit; built-in GPS; six assignable buttons; HDMI Type A, component (3xRCA) and A/V (RCA) outputs; 3.5-inch 1920x480 LCD; and Face Detection autofocus.

For recording, Sony’s HXR-FMU128 (128GB) flash memory unit (which costs about £600/€750/$1000) can dock directly to the camcorder for simultaneous backup recording. The camcorder is also compatible with Sony’s new Mirroring Memory Stick (MS-PX64/32/16), the world’s first memory card with mirroring. This enables the card to deliver higher reliability and data security through a dual recording (mirroring) function. The PX Series cards will be available from September, in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions. It can also record to SD cards.

By David Fox

August 16, 2012

Is FCP X ready for broadcast?

After a year of updates, is Apple’s best-selling non-linear editor, Final Cut Pro X, finally ready for primetime? 
The following was written for the August issue of the broadcast industry magazine: TVB Europe - available free online or downloadable to iPad via Newstand.
When Apple introduced Final Cut Pro X last year, it wasn’t so much an update to FCP 7 as a completely new non-linear video editing program. It was a radical re-think of how we do editing, but because it was essentially a version 1.0 release, it became more talked about for what it didn’t do than its new features.

Amongst broadcast editors, especially, the initial reaction was one of dismay. Many aspects of the traditional broadcast workflow weren’t supported. Indeed, so great was the backlash that Apple soon put the discontinued FCP 7 and the Final Cut Studio package back on its shelves, so that facilities and production companies that relied on the earlier version didn’t need to upgrade to X if they wanted to add further edit seats.