MCA-I Madison Session Notes

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at a breakout session for the MCA-I Madison Spring seminar. The topic was tapeless post-production workflow (specifically for FCP, but we did briefly discuss Avid & Premiere Pro). I promised everyone there I would post links to resources and some of the software we discussed in that session (and some we didn’t get to), so here it is:

Canon EOS Plugin – The official Canon plugin for Log & Transfer. Convoluted download process: Select Mac OSX, then click find “EOS MOVIE Plugin-E1 for Final Cut Pro Ver1.2” in the list, and accept agreement.
Magic Bullet Grinder ($49) – Batch processing of DSLR footage, including proxies with timecode burn in.
5DtoRGB – Process DSLR footage with more control and bypass QuickTime.
5DDtoRGBB – (Unmentioned) Will launch multiple instances of 5DtoRGB for pseudo-batch processing.
Clipfinder 2.2 – Software to reconform FCP XML to RED proxies for passing to Color, among other advanced RED functions.
RED Final Cut Studio 3 Installer – Includes QuickTime codec, Log & Transfer plugin, and Color REDRAW plugin, as well as a useful whitepaper on RED workflow.
REDCine-X – 1st light color correction and transcoding of RED files.

RED User Forums – (Unmentioned) Community of RED users, including posts from RED staff.
Inexpensive Archiving for Tapless Media – Post from Little Frog in High Def (Shane Ross) covering some LTO solutions he found at NAB2011.
FCP 7 Digital Workflows (PDF) – (Unmentioned) Straight from Apple, covers working in several formats, including REDCODE, P2, XDCAM, and AVC. Unfortunately, it does not cover DSLR footage. And for obvious reasons, only covers Apple software.

So there’s the things we went over, and some items that didn’t make it into the discussion in the alloted time. Feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.

Good read on FCP-L

A lengthy but interesting thread popped up on FCP-L. What started out as a simple off-topic post about the new Canon 5D-MkII evolved into tapeless vs tape, digital vs film, and even the evolution of nonlinear editing. At some point I will probably go through and pull out my favorite posts, but for now, I just wanted to get the link up. It’s definitely worth scanning through.

DSLR “Cinematizing” Kit

A company called Redrock Micro is introducing a DSLR kit to allow for rail mounted lenses and follow focus knobs. At first glance, it looks like a typical rail system, until you notice a 5D Mark II attached. I have to admit, despite my initial skepticism, I’m getting a little more excited to see what people do with a kit like this.

Granted, there are already options on the table to attach 35mm lenses to traditional video cameras, but using a DSLR will make this much more portable (and prevent loss of light through ground glass). I do have to wonder, though. If you’re already going through the trouble of using a system like this, why aren’t you using a camera that offers more control over and less compression of the image?

[via Gizmodo, thanks Ryan]

// Update: This comment on Gizmodo I think further proves my point that this above the head of average consumers:

How are you supposed to hold the thing other than the handle on top?? The back is just four rods sticking out.

Tripod, dolly, shoulder mount, steadycam, etc. A kit like this isn’t meant to be a camcorder.

Film is not Moving Photography

Wired has a piece up about the new breed of DSLRs with the ability to shoot HD video. Now, the main objective of the piece is to point out that new chip designs have lead to this ability, but I take issue with comments like this:

“The single biggest difference between still photography and a movie, aside from motion, is lens choice and depth of field,” says Vincent Laforet, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who is part of a Canon marketing program, “Explorers of Light.”

Okay, first of all, I’m not sure that Laforet is aware that professional film cameras, including digital cameras like the Red One, do have the ability to changes lenses and offer a shallow depth of field as well. Later:

Laforet predicts that this low-light sensitivity will lead moviemakers to dispense with expensive, bulky, and obtrusive lighting equipment, shooting their movies entirely with available light.

Documentary, maybe. But as a professional photographer, I would think Laforet would know that light use is not simply utilitarian, only to expose the shot. Light can and should be an artistic choice. This alone means the “expensive, bulky, and obtrusive lighting equipment” isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Laforet is correctin one area: these cameras will be a great asset to news photographers who can now get snippets of video.

Now, call me elitist ((Listen, I recognize that the democratization of technology is generally A Good Thing™, but it also leads to an ever decreasing signal-to-noise ratio.)), but while I am excited to see the potential of these new DSLRs unlocked by the tallented people who use them, these cameras will not turn photographers into cinematographers or filmmakers. Just as having Photoshop does not turn one into a designer. They need to realize film (both documentary and narrative) is not simply moving photography. There’s story. There’s sound ((Please, use a good microphone! I’m glad to see the Canon 5D Mark II add an external mix jack, the lack of one on the Nikon D90 is sad.)). There’s pacing.

My predictions: at first, we will see a lot of beautiful moving photography. Then, once people get over that, we will begin to see the true potential of these cameras. But just remember: if the content isn’t there, it doesn’t matter how pretty the image is, it will still be boring ((I do sound like an elitist, don’t I?)).