TIVA Talks: Program Finishing

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 TIVA recently presented an incredibly informative panel at Henninger Media Services  that was all about program finishing, a vital part of any film or video production. While a plethora of topics were discussed, they mainly centered around the areas of color correction, conversions, captioning, audio, delivery formats and disc authoring. The panel, consisting of Henninger employees, included Senior Editor Joe Bridgers, Colorist Loren Masheter, Audio Engineer Bob Bass, Core and Standard Conversions team member Chuck Adams, and Ari Zagnit, who talked about compression. It was a successful event that attracted members from all aspects of the video production community who packed the space and asked some great questions.

Editing And Frame Rates

One of the major topics that came up was frame rates, specifically 30 fps vs. 23.98 fps and which one was ultimately better depending on the project and how it’s going to be exhibited or shown to the public. Joe Bridgers  shared his thoughts that 23.98 was better for projects that will be shown at festivals or places out of the country and out of the main stream light. 30 fps, on the other hand, is much more ideal for mainstream distribution and the panel highly advised filmmakers to give Henninger a call at the beginning of a project to help them get started. One of the best pieces of advice that came from the panel was when planning a project to start at the very end and proceed to work your way backwards. This will help you plan out which frame rates to use and what details your project needs so you can know what resources to have on hand.  A great question came when someone asked what they should do if they have a mixed timeline (a timeline that has both types of frame rates in it). The answer was to figure out what your final frame rate version should be and use spot conversion to make sure your time line has one single frame rate.

Color Correction

One of the last and most vital steps in the editing process is color correction, which ensures that your work has the best look and colors possible. One thing that Loren Masheter stressed during the panel was to be very careful with your color lookup table. It’s a great tool for taking an image on a camera monitor and adding color correction elements so you and the client can get an idea of what the final image will look like. However, when you send it to a place like Henninger to be color corrected, you may want to make sure the table is not on as many color correctors use bandwidth to make adjustments. If the table is on, the bandwidth will have some trouble making adjustments since the original colors have been changed. So when you send in work to be color corrected, make sure it’s stripped down with the table off. As far as equipment goes, a series of monitors that the crew at Henninger really likes working with are the ones made by Flanders Scientific. While these can be fairly pricey, they are very much beloved for their quality and  incredibly sharp displays. A stand-out piece of software that was praised for its ease of use and value was Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Software. 

Converting and Sound

One of Chuck Adams’ favorite series of converters that is extremely capable and efficient at converting frame rates are those made by Snell and Wilcox with one of his favorites being the Alchemist.  One of the converting issues to look out for when working on video is when you try to up convert a 23.98 frame rate and the image becomes softer looking. Additionally, two frames can become blended together, creating a dissolve look in your film which would appear instead of the cut you’re trying to achieve. The Alchemist is incredibly capable of separating the two cuts so you don’t get that annoying blending effect.

The conversation then turned to Bob Bass who discussed audio mixing and the most ideal conditions for it. While you obviously want to have either a lavaliere or boom mic for audio, boom mics tend to be a bit better because they won’t pick up sounds such as clothing rustling the same way a lavaliere does. If you do end up with multiple audio sources on a track, leave them both on the track for the mixer. However, try to have the “talking heads” audio closer to the video tracks and the music further down. As far some good mics to use, one that came up was the Sennheiser MKH 416 Boom Mike, which was touted for its adaptability.

Disc Authoring

The evening ended on the subject of Disc Authoring and the best delivery practices to ensure a problem free ending to your project. The biggest tip was to have your work be as clean as possible before final compression so you don’t encounter any trouble. As far as formats go, Blu-ray was more adapt at handling compression but can be a bit more demanding since it’s made for higher quality work. DVDs on the other hand are considered a universal format and can handle a much greater variety of work. While 1080p will look fantastic on a DVD, you don’t have that high a resolution on DVD formats as it handles most of them quite well. A useful and simple tip is at the very beginning of the project, decide what format you’re going to be utilizing so you can plan everything accordingly. If you’re going to be sending out work online, the best way to send it is via an H264 Codec MP file since its a versatile codec that can be easily embedded.

While I’ve tried to cover as much of the panel as possible, there was just so much covered that I couldn’t get every little detail. But hopefully you were able to get a good tip or two from this recap.

 

 

 

 

 




Comparing Affordable Cameras and Camera Rigs

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The Fab Five

Since Word Wizards, Inc. often deals with new technology, we definitely know how it changes quickly, especially in the realm of video production. While the video production community in DC is incredibly talented and forms an amazingly supportive community, we are also dependent on the equipment we use. It’s not easy to keep track of the latest cameras and camera technology  with so many different camera models to choose from at a variety of prices. Recently, TIVA held a panel at Henninger Media to give people an inside look at some of the different models on the market, and some advice from five very experienced cameramen and DPs who use them every day. This fab five consisted of Jim Ball, Nate Clapp, Alex Ibrahim, Don Lampasone , and Alex Guckert.

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Lens is Main Priority

They brought a wide variety of models with them for display. These included models like the Canon 7D DSLR, a basic model that retails for $1,500 all the way up to the Sony F3 35mm digital camera, shown at the top of the article, that costs $14,000. While the panelists said you should look at camera models depending on your needs, they all agreed the lens should be the main investment with the actual camera more of an afterthought. If possible you should try to get a lens that will last and is flexible enough to work with a variety of different camera models. While new camera models come out every couple of years because of new tech, lens tend to stay the same. Sanyo and Rokinon are companies that make cheap and mildly reliable lenses. Another option is Zeiss, who sell very nice but more expensive lenses.

DSLR vs. Cinema Cameras

The conversation then moved onto a debate between digital single-lens reflex cameras, a.k.a. DSLRs, and movie cameras. DSLRs are able to take both still photography as well as video with the cinema very comparable to more dedicated video. Many in the video industry like SLRs because they have these dual capabilities and are often able to pay for themselves quickly  because they’re so versatile. One concern about DSLRs is that you often have to shoot and then darken the image yourself because of the exposure. However, if your shooting in low light, then DSLRs excel because of their low light sensors. In fact another reason DSLRs are so well liked is because they tend to have larger, more powerful light sensors that give a narrower depth of field, making it easier to isolate the subject and give it a more “filmatic” look. The bottom line is that you should get a camera that suits your needs and fits your work, whether you’re shooting documentaries and “talking heads” footage, or something more action oriented.

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Standout cameras

There were four cameras that were standouts to the panelists and were especially liked for their capabilities. One was the Canon C100, a cinema camera that at $5,500 is moderately priced and is well liked for its compatibility and powerful super-35mm sensor. As far as DSLRs go, one of the top picks was the Black Magic 2.5K, shown above, that goes for about $3,000—although it should be noted that you need a .5-millimeter lens to really make the camera shine.

The Sony FS-700, is a very well liked and versatile camera that may be a bit on the pricier side at $7,500, but has some great qualities, like beautiful slow-motion capture, does action scenes well, and will record it so the footage is ready to edit immediately after you’re done shooting. The fourth and final pick was the Sony F3, which at $14,000 is not a small investment. But the camera is considered to be very versatile and comes with a PL-mount adaptor that makes it compatible with any PL-mount cinematic lense.

DC Camera

Try Before You Buy

Of course, you really should get the one that can best handle the type of work you do, and its good to keep in mind that accessories will often outlast the camera, so go for quality. A good way to test out a camera before you make that big splurge is to rent one and use it on a production to really get a feel for the model. This not only saves you the frustration of buying a model and finding out you hate it, it allows you to try out several different models in a cost-effective way. Camera Rental places, like DC Camera. are great places from which to rent and ask questions. Most cameras are good for renting and shouldn’t be too complicated to someone with at least a little camera experience. There are some cameras, such as the Red Epic Cameras, which cost upwards of $50,000 and is not the kind of model you should just rent unless you have experience with it. When you finally are ready to pluck down your hard-earned cash for the big buy, a used camera can be a smart way to go, since people may be eager to unload the “three” model if the “five” just came out.