March 18, 2014

The Ever-Evolving F55 and F5

Filed under: New Gear, Showroom, Technology, Updates, What's New — rbcblog @ 2:42 pm

The F55 and F5 are really something.  Just when you think you know them, there’s another update!  For over a year now, the F55 and F5 have been steadily making their way on a pre-planned firmware path that continuously adds to what these cameras can do.  No other camera has gestated outside of the factory as long as these have.  Version 3.0 was going to finish the cameras but then 4.0 was announced and the cameras just keep giving!  The number of codecs (XAVC, MPEG50, SR, RAW and now ProRes and DNxHD!), frame rates (up to 180 internal and 240 on R5), and mount options (PL, F, B4, EF, etc.) make the F55 and F5 the most versatile cameras on the market.  It’s that flexibility, however, that can make them a little tricky to learn at first. Version 3.0 has been out for a little while so we’ve had some time to suss it out. We invite you to another F55/F5 demo in our Showroom on Wednesday, March 26th at 12PM to learn more.

3.0 Stand-Out Features:

Apply, route, and record a variety of LUTs, e.g., shoot RAW and simultaneously record S-log with or without a LUT baked in on SxS.  You can even use Sony’s free software, Raw Viewer, to create your own 1D LUTs to load into the camera.

2K Center Scan mode is not to be overlooked.  Normally, you’re always using the full Super 35 4K CMOS sensor regardless of what resolution you want to shoot.  Windowing in on the sensor, though, allows the ability to use Super 16mm lenses which offers more choices for look, cost, and weight.  This is a great feature that got a lot of people’s attention.

The new color space option, S-Gamut3/S-Log3 offers a more filmic curve that allows more detail in shadows and the application of standard LUTS, not necessarily made by Sony.  S-log 2 allows more information in the highlights, i.e., you can overexpose slightly with 2 and underexpose slightly with 3.


The side panel is now fully functional with quick access to the features you need and word is that 4.0 will even bring the full camera menu there.

-Jason Potz, Engineering, j.potz@rule.com

Dotted Line

March 14, 2014

Live Keying with the Sony AWS-750 Anycast Touch

Filed under: Homegrown, Learning Lab Series, New Gear, Technology, What's New — rbcblog @ 2:41 pm

When the new Sony Anycast Touch live switcher showed up here at Rule, no one really knew what to make of it. The knee-jerk reaction to the dual touch screen, Star Trek looking switcher, was a wave of mild curiosity – followed closely by the inevitable “Where are all the buttons!?” See, in the world of live events, switchers usually have switches — physical buttons, knobs, and other touchy-feely things to give the user some satisfying real-world feedback when using the equipment. The new Anycast Touch, as one could assume from its namesake, looks more like an iPad than a switcher – and after you accept the new form factor, it’s awesome.

In this post, I won’t be going into every nut and bolt on the Anycast Touch. Instead, I’ll be focusing on one advanced ability — live keying. If you’d like to know more about the overall basic operation, my tips and tricks, and a more in-depth outline of advanced workflows, RSVP to events@rule.com for my Learning Lab here at Rule on March 26th. We’ll be going over a handful of real-world switching situations to acclimate both seasoned vets and users who are new to live event production.

In the past, doing live chroma key work has always been a daunting task. Lighting your green or blue screen evenly was absolutely essential to getting a good, passable key – and to a large extent, this is still true today. The Anycast Touch is very forgiving, though. It deals with hot spots and wrinkles fairly well, though spill is something one should always be mindful of. A good rule of thumb is to simply get your talent as far away from that colored backdrop as possible for your framing.

The Sony Anycast Touch is unlike any other switcher when it comes to live keys (or anything else, really). The interface for keying will look familiar to any users who have used chroma keying features in any popular NLE. While it isn’t as populated with intricate refining features like Adobe’s UltraKey or Keylight, it’s surprisingly powerful.


Sony gives us 3 main sections in the Chroma Key settings:  1) Chromakey, 2) Crop, and 3) Size/Position. I won’t spend too much time on the last 2, as they’re fairly self-explanatory. In the main panel, though, we have some interesting choices. The “Auto” mode is very robust, and often gets it pretty close. When in auto mode, we are given a small white box on our main display to move around (I prefer using a mouse and keyboard when using the Touch, as it makes dragging this box around much easier than using your finger). I find that selecting the darker spots of your green/blue screen produce the best results — though lighting your screen evenly is always recommended. Even so, I’ve gotten some remarkable results from wrinkled and uneven lighting — there is enough forgiveness here for users of all levels to give it a shot.

Color Cancel is a great addition by Sony — it is your basic “spill suppression.” Instead of adding magenta to green, though, it simply finds any leftover areas of the sampled color and desaturates them.  This is fantastic for tough keys with fairer skin and lighter hair. I wish there were ways to adjust the amount of hue and luma for the key’s selection, but, even without it, it seems to work very intuitively. Sometimes, if your talent is wearing darker clothing, this can present itself as a fine grey outline. Fiddling with the manual gain and density adjustments is usually enough to get it passable.

Disable Colors will help you select as to whether you want to composite your title graphics, or have them overlay as normal. Not much to worry about here – basic rule of thumb is to leave it be unless your titles are behaving strangely.

My recommended workflow for keying is to use auto mode to get you in the ballpark – if you’ve lit your screen fairly well, you often won’t need to mess with anything else. If you’re finding issue, switching to manual will save the auto settings, then adjusting the Clip slider is usually enough to get you the rest of the way there.

Here’s a photo of the test we set up:


I tried to emulate a portable, lower budget situation for users who would be on location, streaming live to the web or to internal monitors. We used a collapsible Chroma Key flex-fill, clamped to a few C-Stands. For lighting, I threw up some Litepanels 1×1’s, with full diffusion and ¼ CTO to keep the greens looking green. For our single key light, I used the Litepanels Ringlite Mini. A small LED light would be a great addition to this set up for some fill light, but I tried to keep things simple. Our camera? Your standard Canon 5D mkIII with a 24-70mm, stopped down to f4. Here’s a still from this setup, with our own Jenn Jennings reading the weather!



You can see that even with a very basic set up, you can get a pretty convincing chroma key up and running without too much fuss. Green screen live can be a great tool for corporate productions, broadcast situations, and webcasts. It can also be a great way to easily get a visually interesting interview background when space and budget is limited.

In addition to the traditional chroma key situations, one can also use chromakey for using animated titles. The Anycast Touch, at the end of the day, is still a switcher, and switchers are always going to be limited in certain ways. With the Touch, we are unable to import animated graphics into the internal SSD for use in the titling section. Even when exported with an alpha channel, the Touch can’t process it. By using chromakey, however, we are able to circumvent this limitation. We can use the internal media player and chromakey effect to knock out the background, and use live animated graphics. In this way, your graphics are really limited only by your graphic designer’s talents!

Here’s a video sample using a gaudy animated lower third I threw together in After Effects. Exported as a simple MP4, I used a highly saturated green as the background.

The Touch removes it perfectly on the auto setting, and we’re able to use animations to really raise production value. The added text has been created and faded on using the Anycast Touch title interface.

Perfect for sports when you need to throw back to instant replay, probably having two opposing team’s helmets smash into one another and explode. Or maybe a robot doing jumping jacks. You get the idea.  The one drawback to this workflow is that Sony only allows you to have a single media player for internal video at a time — so by using it up on the animation, we can no longer put an internal video behind it at the same time internally. Not the end of the world, or even a common situation, but definitely food for thought.

So there you have it. Not so bad, right? With just a flex-fill green screen, a couple lights and a DSLR, you can add tons of production value to both small and large scale productions. I’ll be covering a whole lot more in my Learning Lab on March 26th, so be sure to RSVP: events@rule.com to get the nitty-gritty details on this cool new product.

-Alex Enman, Engineer, enman@rule.com



Dotted Line

March 3, 2014

“Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”

Filed under: Technology, Updates — Tom Talbot @ 12:56 pm

Let me ask a silly but timely question:  Pretend you were a race car driver in NASCAR. You were in the middle of a race, flying around the track at 190 MPH, and a message popped up on your dashboard that told you that new firmware for your fuel system was available and ready to install, would you click OK?

Historically, meaning as little as a few years ago, editing and post production suites were built and deployed as a completely designed system not unlike a race car.  Under it’s branded and packaged “system” exterior, it was made up of components that, when described individually, were familiar to us.  It had one or many CPUs, operating system, memory, storage and I/O and several specific software applications, waveform/vector scopes and video source/record decks.  In addition, you would certainly have accurate monitoring of audio and video signals, ideally, in an acoustically-treated suite with appropriate lighting and wall color that would not confuse or deceive your visual cortex.

This turnkey package was very tight, in large part because the bits and pieces worked only in a small but specific “compatibility matrix”.  As a result, it was always understood and firmly communicated that you NEVER update software in the middle of a production, you disable Auto-Update (to satisfy the previous requirement) and that you work with and depend upon capable experts before and during planned upgrades.

Upgrades, in truth, need to be considered full re-designs in the sense that there is a delicate inter-dependency between all components and interrupting this “matrix” will have a series of consequences, and unless your name is Neo, you may not even realize that the matrix exists! (Sorry, had to throw that in there.)

Consequences come in many sizes and shapes.  Some, you may never even notice or feel and some may only effect you if a second or third seemingly unrelated event interacts with the dormant first consequence.  If the majority of customers work only on a stand-alone computer with the most common of add-on devices, then the lowest common denominator challenges or conflicts get addressed and corrected early, often during beta test cycles.

Companies like Apple and others have also done a great job intentionally or unintentionally inducing Pavlovian Conditioning with frequent and ever-improving app updates that have taught us that Updates = Good.  Many of us treat these update requests like a new message from a friend, a gift or a present that randomly appears and, best of all, is free!  Why wouldn’t you do it?  Often it corrects and patches flaws and security risks that we didn’t even know existed (until the update told us).  After all, who doesn’t want to keep up with the latest and greatest?

But beware, the editing and graphics ecosystem that you have built, however streamlined it appears, is more fragile and requires more planning than a typical computer or smart phone.  Major operating system updates – like Apple Mavericks 10.9 – change a multitude of things, for reasons that have nothing to do with you or your business.

Here is an example advisory for some high speed, external media readers that came out upon the release of Apple Mavericks:

WARNING Qio E3 is not currently compatible with OS X 10.8.5 and 10.9 (Mavericks). Sonnet is working on a fix for this issue. Qio E3 is compatible with OS X 10.8.0 through 10.8.4 when using Qio E3 software v1.2.1c and later. Until a new driver is ready (1.2.2), do not upgrade your computer’s OS to 10.8.5 or 10.9.”

Personally, I do not blame 3rd party board and hardware manufacturers for this.  A computer is a complex beast, designed for many markets and many uses.  In our high performance, time sensitive, video production world, we depend on our computers to connect with dozens of speciality devices.  Somehow, we have collectively come to expect that all parties involved have been handed a rule book that defines accurately and immediately, all use cases and all code corrections.  In truth, companies like Apple are famous for not providing detailed information about code or methodology changes that may break or change the way pieces or components behave.  There is limited access for developers to beta OS releases and it is next to impossible for a hardware company to run structured quality control tests on all possible configurations.

So, in summary, I offer a few polite words of caution:

• DO NOT be tempted to hit that Upgrade, Update or Download button without first KNOWING why you need it and what it might affect.

• PLAN for upgrades with production and business calendars in mind.

• SCHEDULE downtime and testing as part of the upgrade.

• BACKUP the current system before an upgrade.

• TEST all of the devices and software after the upgrade.

Thanks for listening.  I hope it helps.

Tom Talbot, t.talbot@rule.com


Dotted Line

February 20, 2014

Get Your MoVI Moving: Part 2

Filed under: Homegrown, Inside Rule, Learning Lab Series, New Gear, Technology, What's New — rbcblog @ 4:56 pm

That moment when the olive green Cinema Oxide case was placed by my desk will never be forgotten. What could be in there? Will this be life changing? What does all this mean? Long story short, by opening that case my life has changed drastically. I find myself thinking as a parent does for their child. However, my child’s name is a bit out of the norm. MoVI M10 has a nice ring, don’t you think?

Like any relationship, there are highs and lows. The M10 and I have shared all of these moments from the early headaches at the shop to the winter sunset walks along the Charles River. As our relationship has grown over the past few months, I have learned to appreciate MoVI for what it can do for the entire production community. It is a true game-changer that provides new opportunities and ease.

I have mentioned how easy the unit is to use, but I want you to take that with a grain of salt. There is a lot of time and effort that one needs to invest in order to initially understand how the M10 works and functions. It’s not as simple as taking it out of the box and starting to shoot right away. There are a few steps to remember in order to get optimal operation from the M10.

Before any balancing starts to happen, you always want to make sure that your camera is completely built up. Have your lens, follow focus, transmitter, cables, etc., all squared away. Even the weight of the lens cap will make a difference. Once the M10 is powered on, you want to refrain from adding or subtracting any weight. Adding and subtracting weight will throw the balance off, thus resulting in the motors working harder than necessary.

Once the camera is set, it’s time to start the balancing procedures. Pan, Tilt, and Roll will be your favorite three words after spending some time with the M10. These are the three axes that the M10 works upon. Your balancing will be done in conjunction with these motors and functions.

At this point your camera is attached to the sled, and you are making fine adjustments to get your perfect balance. When you first start balancing the M10, you’ll want to channel all of your patience and take deep breaths. Sometimes the littlest adjustments will make all of the difference in a negative or positive way. Once you have spent enough time with the balancing process, it will start to become natural. Soon enough, you will have no problem swapping from a built-up Epic to a Blackmagic Pocket Camera.

Well, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to experience the M10 and introduce it as part of your next production. Just remember to take the time and learn the ways of the MoVI before you get on set. This extra prep time will save you from a headache and a frustrated Director. Now Is The Time for The MoVI M10!

-Dylan Law, QC Tech, law@rule.com

JOIN RBC’S MIKE SUTTON AND DYLAN LAW FOR AN INTRO TO THE MOVI M10 LEARNING LAB ON WED., 2/26 FROM 10AM-12N.  RSVP: EVENTS@RULE.COM.


Dotted Line

February 6, 2014

Get Your MoVI Moving: Part 1

Filed under: Homegrown, Inside Rule, Learning Lab Series, New Gear, Technology, What's New — rbcblog @ 11:20 am

The buzz of excitement around the MoVI M10 by Freefly Systems is something for the record books. Every website is featuring articles on the M10, and test footage is being posted daily. I haven’t seen anything like it since the RED One was launched at NAB back in 2007. This three-axis brushless gimbal system really is a game changer in my opinion. After working with the unit for some time, I have gotten over the “hype” and started to realize the practicality of the unit and how it may start to change the way we think of putting a project together.

Dolly Track, Operators, Jibs, Cranes, and much more won’t be a thing of the past, but, if one is working on a budget, there is a solution now that will help to cut down on all of these costs.  Sure, it may cost a nice chunk of change to buy, but renting the M10 is a great option. Less bodies and gear on set has never been a bad thing. One MoVI Operator, One Focus Puller, One Remote Control Operator and a Director sounds like a great production day. It’s that simple, and you can create a look that would take days of pre-production and hours of assembly on set to achieve. When you go to playback that first shot, trust me, you will be blown away at what you just captured in such a minimal manner.

After seeing what was possible with the M10, it was time to push it to the limits. Why not run with it at full speed and see what happens? Well, what happened was a shot that was so unbelievably smooth, I had to watch it three times! The footage was so much better than I expected. Then we received the Ninja Star Adapter.  At that point, I hadn’t heard much about what this would open up in terms of shooting with the MoVI. Boom!!! I grabbed the Porta-Jib and attached the MoVI to the Jib in an under-slung fashion, and it was time to rock. The results were hands-down the most responsive Remote Head I have ever worked with. Oh, and just to remind you all…it was Smoooooth!!

The ten-pound load capacity that the M10 offers may scare one away at first. Fear not, you can achieve a very high level of production while using the unit for your project. Are you looking to work with the RED Epic? Consider it a done deal and with accessories. Let’s use a Wireless Follow Focus System with that Zeiss Superspeed, and, of course, you want to transmit to a Wireless Monitor as well. All of these high-level production needs are possible with just a bit of tinkering and patience.

Oh, you say that you work with the Canon 5D MIII, Black Magic Cinema Camera, FS700, Canon C300, or C100? Not a problem in the least bit. All of these cameras will pair just perfectly with the MoVI M10, and the footage will be oh so smooooth!!!!

-Dylan Law, QC Tech, law@rule.com

JOIN RBC’S MIKE SUTTON AND DYLAN LAW FOR AN INTRO TO THE MOVI M10 LEARNING LAB ON WED., 2/26 FROM 10AM-12N.  RSVP: EVENTS@RULE.COM.


Dotted Line

January 22, 2014

Zacuto Recoil V2

Filed under: New Gear, Showroom, Technology, What's New — Nick Giannino @ 3:28 pm

With the influx of Canon C100 Ownership, the topic of handheld systems oftentimes comes up.  Clients are either used to shooting with an ENG style shoulder mount camera or DSLR’s and want to transfer the handheld shooting skills with either to a camera like the C100. Now the C100 is a great camera, but ergonomically normal a camera it is not.  Luckily, companies like Zacuto bring along great products to help make that transition much simpler and more cost-effective.

The most recent rig to cross my path was the Zacuto Recoil V2, a product I had seen and specced for awhile but never got hands on with.  Set-up with the Recoil goes quickly and is pretty intuitive.  Where this rig gets it right is the grip relocator, which is worth the price of admission all on it’s own.  This may be the most cost-effective single piece to be used with rods that retains the same functionality of the camera on the market.  No longer are you using a dumb handle for the sake of handheld; you’ll get all the functionality of the hand grip just in a more logical place. You simply connect the 1/8” plug from your grip into the receiver and then run the 20”+ cable back up to the port on the camera and voila. Now for some bad. Well sort of bad.

On Zacuto’s product page, they specifically address needing an EVF for this rig. Sad to say, there really isn’t a way around this…for a C100.  For a C300, however, the ability to articulate and move the EVF that comes with the camera makes a lot more sense and works well for this rig.  The same rule would apply with a C500. For the C100 ultimately, using an EVF with an articulating arm serves the trick as you can now create a more flexible and positional eyepiece.

Secondly, I would recommend some longer rods to allow for more flexible adjustment of distance for the camera.  Ideally you want the weight to be on your shoulder for the best hand held support, and longer rods allow you to move the grip locator to a more comfortable position. The shoulder pad QRP system is handy as well and is pretty flexible in terms of placement.  It’s easily positioned and removable.

One huge note to make with this rig: Be sure to use the Tripod TB-1 Adapter Plate that comes with the camera to work with the rig.  The only two points of contact on the rig are 3/8” and ¼ 20”; no safety pin.  So be sure that’s on the bottom before you start rigging. Another suggestion is the use of a Quick Release Plate System to create a fluid workflow from tripod work to shoulder supported, handheld work. I found the Kessler Kwik Release plate to pair well with the Zacuto set up.

All in all, this is a great, cost-effective rig to get you started with some handheld work, with some limitations.  No one rig will solve every problem, but I see the Recoil V2 as being a really smart and sharp start to solving some workflow hurdles with Canon’s Cinema EOS Camera line.

-Nick Giannino, Inside Sales, giannino@rule.com


Dotted Line

January 17, 2014

And then the camera moves left…

Filed under: Inside Rule, Intern Perspective, Technology — rbcblog @ 5:42 pm

How often when storyboarding your next project, do you plot in a camera move? I mean a major one, not just a tilt up or pan left. I know that in my own projects, it’s been a long time since I planned for a large move. Without an entire G&E department to support my projects or the budget for a Steadicam operator, I just want to keep everything as easy for myself as possible.  But I also know that by skipping this, I’m wasting a big part of the beauty of motion pictures.

Now that I’m interning at Rule, I’ve had the chance to see a few options for camera moves that might be within reach for my own projects. In less than a month, I’ve seen jibs and a Steadicam rig, as well as two options that I think could really work for my next project… the Easy Jib by Grip Control and a Doorway Dolly.

The first, the Easy Jib (as you may know if you’ve ever seen it before) is basically a large slider. This is the perfect tool for getting roughly a five foot move into your project. It’s long, but not very heavy, and doesn’t have a ton of add-ons, so you can easily get it into a third floor walk-up. You can put it on a table or a counter or on two stands or even on the floor for a nice low angle. It’s also easy to operate with only one person. Just a gentle hand to guide the glider and the other can pan or rack focus.

The only real cons are the limited size and the fact that you really need an external monitor. It’s not easy to follow an eyepiece with this dolly.

The other dolly, the Doorway Dolly, is another great option, albeit a much bigger, less easily transported one. But there’s no need to wrangle a bunch of track with this dolly. It has four reasonably quiet rubber tires and can hold a standard size tripod. As you can guess, though, you need at least two people to pull off any camera moves with this dolly. One person to drive and one person along for the ride to operate the camera.

Additionally, I found that the steering, while relatively easy, is not an exact science. Without tracks to guarantee an exact mark, you could end up just to left or right of where you wanted to be. This could make for a focusing nightmare if you’re working in low-light, wide-open aperture situations.

Overall, I like both of these options. Both get the camera moving around the room without a cumbersome track system and without much added to your gear list. They might seem slightly unromantic compared to other options that are out there, but sometimes all you need is a little utility to get the job done well! Happy filming!

- Rachel Wiederhoeft, Fall 2013 Intern


Dotted Line

General Audio Kits

Filed under: Inside Rule, Intern Perspective, Technology — rbcblog @ 5:37 pm

When working on a films, I’ve noticed that sound is typically the thing I’m least worried about. This isn’t because it is an easy, insignificant part of filmmaking, because it’s the exact opposite. Sound is a very important part of a film, and does just as hard of a job of telling a story and evoking feeling as story, acting, and cinematography. That is why I’ve come to acclimate myself with the various equipment used for recording sound.

The first, and most important instrument in sound production is the Sound Device 702 recorder. This piece of equipment has two sound channels, XLR and BNC outputs, records to compact flash cards, and has easily navigable menus. On top of all this, it is made of a sturdy (albeit heavy) material that will prevent simple destruction or damages.

The 702 recorder works well with the Sound Devices 302 mixer. Along with the recorder, the mixer is an extremely compact, portable, and ergonomic device. Its three channels are easily monitored and adjusted, requiring little time to learn.

As for devices for gathering sound, I have found that there are numerous options. Obviously there is the array of dynamic and condenser microphones (cardioids, hyper-cardioids, omni-directional microphones, and so on). The latter are the typical “shotgun” microphones that are mounted on top of cameras, or found at the end of boom poles. They are the go-to microphones for filmmaking.

For scenarios in which condenser microphones aren’t practical – such as for wide shots when boom poles risk being seen and camera microphones are too far for authentic sound – then there is a wireless alternative: lavalier microphones.

Rather than looking for a ficus to hide a condenser microphone in, a lavalier microphone is wireless, and can be mounted and hidden on the actors and acquire usable sound. When I say usable sound, I mean sound that doesn’t quite come to par with condensers, but considering the situation, they get the job done. Many times filmmakers will gawk at the idea of using lavalier microphones because of a lav’s potentially inferior quality (especially when you have cats in the scene – they’ll play with the little bobbing microphone like a ball of yarn). However, the day will come when your boom pole will catch fire, and all you’ll have left are these bad boys.

On the subject of wireless sound devices, there is an astoundingly useful tool for filmmakers to use behind the camera: the HME 800 or HME PRO 850. These are kits with 5 headsets with built-in microphones that are used like walkie-talkies (however, with many more batteries required). This intercom kit is so practical that its uses are near limitless. On set crew can communicate swiftly without running around; assistant directors can let a set know what the afternoon schedule looks like; and in a case where a shot requires multiple cameras with operators, a director of photography can give each one of them commands without any issues.

The HME 800, and the HME PRO 850, are both quite intuitive devices and require very little time to learn and grow accustomed with. Even though they aren’t used for the creative part of filmmaking, “in front of the camera,” they are priceless assets for effective and efficient management on a set.

This amalgamation of sound devices each has their own strengths and weaknesses. The benefit with having each of these items on your film set provides you with options, and options create flexibility, and flexibility leads to efficiency.

-Kyle Huemme, Fall 2013 Intern, Curry College


Dotted Line

Falloff Rates and Dimmer Accuracy

Filed under: Inside Rule, Intern Perspective, Technology — rbcblog @ 5:31 pm

Built-in Dimmers are oh-so-convenient. If a cloud screws up the relation of an artificial fill or you just want less heat on the side of her face, bliss is just a twist away.

But how useful are these built-in dimmers in creating dramatic changes in exposure? Are the dimmers really calibrated to be useful to a precise cinematographer? I tested three popular lights to compare which lights had the most useful dimmer system: the 1×1 Lightpanel (LED), the Kinoflo Diva (daylight fluorescent), and the Bron Kobold 400 Watt All-Weather System (HMI).

The criterion for a “useful dimmer” included a consistent fall-off rate in exposure (f-stop) as the light is dimmed (proportionally) and accurate visual measurement markings around the knob corresponding to the change in brightness measured. If I’ve turned the knob halfway but the light hasn’t cut down at all, I’m not happy.

And just so that this blog post isn’t too technical or stuffy, we won’t do any math or go over the scientific proceedings. Just know it involved me, a light meter, some blocking tape, and a garage with no outside light. And we’ll refer to my crudely drawn and scanned-in graph (below) to draw some lofty conclusions.

If you glance briefly at the graphs (but don’t scrutinize them too much) you’ll see the LED easily wins for best dimmer system. Its results form the closest semblance of a linear graph. Even more surprisingly, I found that the incremental knob markings accurately cut the light between a ½ or full stop all the way to the 25 mark.

Second place goes to the Kinoflo Diva. It got off to a rocky start, but eventually started dimming noticeably. However, I quickly realized that the dimmer markings were more of a nice yellow design and not meant to be accurate in the least. The arbitrariness of the Kinoflo Diva, regardless of marked change near the end, make it useful for quick, sizable adjustments, but it is not nearly as precise and nuanced as the LED. Furthermore, it can turn from 4 bulbs to 2 bulbs, which probably mirrors its dimmer in its restrictedness. So what’s the point of the dimmer?

The HMI finished last—and who could blame him? HMIs already rock and have nothing to prove (this one is even waterproof) but if it’s not going to dim in any noticeable way, don’t waste our time with a dimmer system.

Perhaps this is due to a poorly executed experiment (I’m a film major, take it easy), or maybe the HMI takes longer to warm up to its dimmer settings. But those last minute touches can’t freeze a shoot for five minutes as the HMI gets its act together. Clearly, then, the HMI has arbitrary markings on its ballast and isn’t too concerned with dimming itself. But it is still the brightest. We’ll give it a point for that.

Here’s the data if you really really really like dimming/mood lighting/being picky about exposure/like turning knobs.

KINOFLO Diva (fluorescent)

Full = f/8

2 clicks dimmed= f/8

4 clicks dimmed = f/8

6 clicks dimmed= f/8

7 clicks dimmed= f/5.6

8 clicks dimmed= f /2.8-4 split

9 clicks dimmed = f/2

all the way down (but not off)= f/1.4

Bron Kobold 400 Watt All-Weather System (HMI)

Full= f/8-11 split

1 click= f/8 and ¼

2 clicks= f/8

3 clicks= f/8

4 clicks= ¼ under f/8

5 clicks = f/5.6-8 split

6 clicks = f/5.6-8 split

off= underexposed.

1×1 Lightpanel (LED)

100%= f/8

90%= f/ 5.6-8 split

80%= ¼ under f/5.6

75%= f/4

65%= f/2.8-4 split

50%= f/2-2.8 split

35% = f/2

25%= underexposed

15%= underexposed

off= underexposed

-Bryan Sih, Fall 2013 Intern, Boston University


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August 8, 2013

GoPro App v.2.0 is Now Available

Filed under: New Gear, Production Outfitters Store, Showroom, Technology, Updates, What's New — Zbigniew Twarog @ 2:49 pm

We upgraded our GoPro Hero3 cameras to new firmware v.3.0 recently. I tested the cameras with new iOS GoPro application (v.2.0). It offers live preview now (while recording), which works quite well. The control of camera settings also works very well. The availability of web browsing is only available when switched to Internet access mode (not controlling the camera).

New features do not always work, as promised, yet! Playback from camera, on iPad 3 works sporadically, sometimes stalling on “Loading images” screen. But when it works, it is spectacular! It makes the file transfer from card to iPad and further distributing it, very easy.

GoPro HERO3

These are the new application features:

-View photos and play back videos
-Copy photos and videos to a GoPro album on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch
-Share the photos and videos copied to your device via email, text, Instagram™, Facebook® or other apps
-Browse and delete files on the camera’s memory card

Zbigniew Twarog, Chief Engineer, twarog@rule.com


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