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Multiple Canon C300 (and C300PL) in our Shop for New England’s big unveiling Thursday night!

Picture this… I am sitting in a staff meeting and I see, through the glass door, a cart with 4 cardboard boxes from Fed Ex roll by headed my way. I know that I am expecting a delivery of 4 Canon C300 cameras for our Special January Pub Night with Larry Thorpe. For those of you not aware, Larry is Senior Director of Professional Engineering and Solutions at Canon.  He will be presenting  an overview of the C300 followed by Q&A.  By the way, if you are interested in joining us, it goes from 6-8pm. and you can RSVP to events@rule.com Just like a kid on Christmas day, I rush to open these boxes.  I was fortunate to be invited by Canon to attend their grand unveiling in Hollywood on Nov. 3rd so I already had my hands on the camera but I knew that today, I would be able to spend some real time tinkering with these and in quantity! We received two EF mount and two PL.  We will be showing them in various configurations – from bare bones DSLR-like handheld configs to fully built-up studio style cinema rigs with Optimo zoom cinema lenses. Very shortly I will follow this up with a more detailed blog about my observations, but in summary, the C300 is a winner for sure!  It is elegant, logical, sturdy and tight.  Its modular design does not feel like you are taking apart a child’s toy and the more I played with it the more I understood that a lot of consideration was given to each module. The pistol grip side handle has a 4 pin electronic connector cable that plugs in before you set your angle for mounting. The mount itself is a very sturdy metal thread which gives you confidence in its reliability. The menu and controls are straightforward in intuitive.  You have options to label in ISO or Gain, Shutter in Degrees or fractions, White balance  presets displayed in iconic sun or light bulb form or in kelvin (K) The base sensitivity is shown at [850], for use when utilizing Canon Log, and as most of you have already heard it goes up to an astounding 20,000 ISO!  This of course doesn’t mean that you should always shoot this way nor does it mean that there is no amplifier noise but when the judgement of “acceptable”  is yours to make for some shots, its is nice to know you’ve got it when you need it. The EF mount with one of our 24-70 EF lenses looked great and of course an Optimo on the PL version looks stunning. –  Tom Talbot Director of Technology

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Back from InfoComm!

It’s nice to be back in Massachusetts following the heat of Orlando at this year’s InfoComm Show.  The show was great and provided opportunities for learning new skills from other industry professionals, exposure to the cutting edge of what technologies are available now in AV installation and continuing positive relationships with manufacturers. This year’s show focused on a few things that we at Rule Boston Camera already do well.  There was talk about the move in our industry away from providing products and towards providing services.  We go into most of our jobs assuming that all of your perspective installers can get you the same equipment that we can.  What sets us apart needs to be our attention to detail and the ongoing relationship that we have in providing not only the gear you want but the “Engineering Services” you need. The product category that seemed to have some buzz behind it this year was digital signage.  I agree with many of the presenters at the show, that in the next year to three years, who is using digital signage, and how they are using it will change dramatically.  New products at a wide range of vertical markets and price points can meet this need.  It is our goal at Rule to ride this wave since we already started surfing it!  We will take what we have learned from our clients who are already running digital signage and from those running bulletin boards on their PEG stations in order to offer a full range of products along with our engineering expertise to find the right solution for each customer’s need. Each year at this show, I learn more and more of what else is out there.  I am looking forward to implementing much of what I saw and to returning next year to learn more of what I have not even thought of yet. Ian Tosh Director of Engineering Services

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Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival 2011

It’s my favorite season again- Film Fest Time! Rule Boston Camera supports a number of film festivals in New England, one of them being the Martha’s Vineyard Film Fest, which was held from last Thursday to this past Sunday and was in one word — AWESOME.  It was extremely well organized and the most enjoyable one I’ve been to yet.  I was privileged to watch (3) films during my stay – “How to Die in Oregon”, addressing Doctor-assisted suicide, “I Am” by Director Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty) exploring the world’s greatest minds with deep questions and personal revelations, and “We Still Live Here,” about the Wampanoag Indian’s reviving their ancient language and making it a part of everyday life after over 100 years of silence.  Most films had Q&A afterward, which, to me, is one of the props of the FF’s — being able to hear insight on editing, shooting challenges, etc.  It was fun to see lots of people with Rule Boston Camera hats walking around, and much thanks to Molly Purves, who made my stay (and everyone else’s) comfortable and easy.  Free (good) catered food with the movies, so if you are thinking of going to this fest in the future, you are literally looking at a $16 ferry ticket, hotel and movie tickets. A fairly cheap weekend, if you ask me and well-worth the trip.  Next year should be interesting, as Martha’s Vineyard has expressed a desire to build a facility strictly for films.  Personally, I hope they keep the 12 couches in back of whatever they build because that may be the greatest decision to date. If you want to look at more, follow me on Twitter @michelle_brooks and @ruleboscam and see my opinion of the films this weekend. Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales Representative

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The Alexa – Out of the Box and Into It’s First Local Feature!

Our very own Alexa was the star of a film shooting locally, in New Bedford, MA, this Winter.  “Fairhaven” is a comic drama that tells the story of three childhood friends reuniting in their home town of Fairhaven, MA.  Written and Directed by Tom O’Brien who fell in love with the Massachusetts seaport town and was inspired to set the project there.  The film is being shot by DP Peter Simonite and features stars such as Mad Men’s, Rich Sommer, Six Feet Under’s, Chris Messina and Deadwood’s Sarah Paulson.
We missed our Alexa dearly and we were eager to hear what our friends at Fairhaven thought of the camera.  General Manager Brian Malcolm and myself ventured down to Westport, MA to meet the cast and crew on location at Lee’s Market for some grocery store interior shots.  On the way, Brian spotted 4 Red-Tailed Hawks and one male Cardinal.  I tried to play the bird game too but my bird-like findings turned out to be trash bags trapped in branches or bushels of leaves.  (You’ve won this round, Malcolm!)
When we arrived on the set, we were warmly welcomed by an excited cast and crew.  Everyone raved about the Alexa with its superior image quality and high sensitivity in low light.  The Alexa is rated at ISO 800 but we learned that they were able to get exposures of up to 1600 ISO.  Phrases like “This camera will change the industry forever” and ” I never want to work with another camera again” were echoing around us as the crew testified to the camera’s cinematic abilities and ease-of-use.
We really enjoyed watching the Fairhaven team in action, and we’re looking forward to the film’s release!
For more information about the Fairhaven movie visit their website at www.fairhaventhemovie.com.
For more information on the Alexa, call or email answers@rule.com.
Nick Giannino, Rental Agent
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Sony PMW-F3: Back to Back Events

Yesterday, we here at Rule Boston Camera were graced with the presence of Sony’s new Super35-style HD camera, the PMW-F3. We hosted our own event about the camera as part of our weekly Learning Lab Series, and then the New England chapter of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) held their own meeting about the camera and its technology here in the evening. Sony was kind enough to bring a prototype of the F3 as well as an SXRD 4K projector to show off their new tech. Each event had its own personal flair, but both offered interesting insights into Sony’s new large-sensor offering. I recommend reading Mike Sutton’s blog post for a more complete and more technical feature description, but I’ll highlight some of the important parts that were featured during Wednesday’s presentations. The morning Learning Lab event was led by Sony’s Peter Crithary, who took us through the functions of the camera and showed us some truly breathtaking short-form pieces shot by people at USC and Stargate Films. Right off the bat, I have to say the footage looks beautiful. Even with 35Mbit/sec XDCAM EX internal recording, the images hold up well to color grading and compositing. When the camera is attached to an external recording device, though, like an AJA KiPro, Convergent Design’s NanoFlash, or Sony’s own HDCAM SR deck, the imager on this thing really shines. No noise, great depth of field, impressive dynamic range—it has it all. Don’t forget that your lenses can make all the difference in the world! And with the appropriate adaptors, the F3 can use a variety of prime or zoom lenses that are large enough to cover the super35 imager. Peter’s presentation gave us a ton of information on what the camera can do and how it can be applied to the typical, or sometimes not-so-typical, workflow. Not only does it make pretty pictures, it also gives you functionality to boot. For the absolute highest-possible recording quality, he recommended recording to the internal SxS slots for an off-line version, while simultaneously taking advantage of the 4:4:4 Dual-Link SDI output (with a firmware upgrade, available soon) to an HDCAM SR deck for your on-line edit. Both versions will be in perfect sync and the workflow is totally seamless. You can also take advantage of the additional SD/HD switchable SDI port to run an on-set monitor for your client without the need for headache-inducing distribution amplifiers. You can even apply the Look Up Table (LUT) settings you plan to use in post-production color grading in the camera itself, allowing the DP and the client to see it in its (almost) final form—without affecting your 4:4:4 master. Amazing! This is far more than many people will actually take advantage of, but the scalability here is definitely notable. He also highlighted features like 3D Link, where you can connect two F3’s and with one cable, can control both simultaneously for perfectly-synced 3D shooting.  Check out Peter’s Learning Lab session in its entirety on vimeo:  http://vimeo.com/channels/rulelearninglabseries. While Peter’s presentation was a little more practical, aimed at the average user, Hugo Gaggioni took the reigns at the evening’s SMPTE event and spoke more on the technology behind the F3. He took us all the way back to the 70’s and 80’s when CCD imagers were first developed and discussed the transition to new CMOS technologies up to and including future 4K sensors along with the new Super35mm chip in the F3 itself. While not necessarily for the layman, his presentation was packed with fascinating information on how we got to be where we are now—and how the new chips coming out of Sony’s new manufacturing plant are changing the way we shoot HD, 3D and 4K. The people in attendance even got a sneak peek at some of the new technology Sony will be unveiling this year—very exciting stuff! The Sony F3 often seems to come up in conversations about the Panasonic AF100 and Canon’s line of DSLR’s. While the size of the sensor on each of these suggests they are all in the same class, this is hardly the case. Each one is designed to fit a certain set of needs and a certain budget. The F3 is in a slightly different price range than the offerings from Canon and Panasonic, but again, the functionality and feature set far outstrip its competition. On the flip side, however, at $16,000 list price, it is much cheaper than both the Red One and Arri Alexa, another set of cameras the F3 is bound to be compared to. What you must do is really evaluate the needs of your shoot and decide which of these cameras best suits your demands and budget. We were assured that the camera is on schedule to ship in February. We’re all excited about what this camera can do, and I hope you are, too! Peter Brunet, Engineering Technician

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New Sony HD Camcorder – PMW500!

I had a chance to see the new Sony Camcorder – PMW500, here at Rule Boston Camera, recently. It is full size 3×2/3″ CCD (not CMOS) camcorder recording on the SxS cards (2 slots) using XDCAM HD 4:2:2, 50Mb/s codec. The pick up section is identical to the high-end PDW F800 — it can record in XDCAM (UDF) and XDCAM EX (FAT) modes and file formats. The software available now – XDCAM Clip Browser EX and XDCAM Transfer Tool work with the files, but Sony promises a new XDCAM Browser, incorporating functionality of both, into one application. The camera looks and feels good. It bridges the XDCAM (Disc) and XDCAM EX (SxS card) worlds, and promises high quality for SxS recording. It will probably appeal to EX1R/3 users asking for better quality picture. For XDCAM-on-disc recording users, it is a cheaper alternative, but they have to embrace the world of proper data back up and file management. The LCD screen is very good quality, power consumption is 29W, which is not bad either. Recording times are long depending on the SxS card size. The price puts it above PMW350 and under PDW700/F800. Zbigniew Twarog, Chief Engineer

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Hot off the presses from IBC 2010

AJA Announces Ki Pro Mini, Portable File-Based Recorder at IBC 2010

kipromini

Miniature 10-bit 4:2:2 flash disk recorder mounts easily on digital cameras and accessories

Amsterdam, Netherlands, IBC Conference Stand 7.F11 (September 10, 2010)–AJA Video Systems brought production and post one step closer together today with the introduction of Ki Pro Mini, a smaller, lighter version of its breakthrough portable tapeless recorder that captures to the Apple ProRes 422 codec directly from camera. The highly portable Ki Pro Mini flash disk recorder mounts easily to digital cameras and accessories, enabling it to fit unobtrusively in small spaces for on-set capture of 10-bit 4:2:2 files that are immediately ready for editing. Ki Pro Mini offers a small form factor, support for SDI & HDMI cameras and key features including:

  • 10-bit full-raster recording to Apple ProRes 422 SD and HD formats (including HQ, LT and Proxy)
  • Recording of SD/HD files from digital video cameras to Compact Flash (CF) cards
  • Mac OS X friendly media and native QuickTime files–no log-and-capture required
  • Professional video connectivity through SD/HD SDI and HDMI I/O
  • 2 channels of balanced XLR audio with switch selectable line/mic levels
  • 8 channels of embedded digital audio over SDI and HDMI
  • Flexible control options including familiar front panel and web browser interfaces
  • Optional Ki Pro Mini Mounting Plates that attach to hot shoes, battery plates and virtually any other accessory bracket
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum construction that delivers light weight and maximum ruggedness

Ki Pro Mini supports a streamlined Apple file-based production-to-post workflow, recording native Apple ProRes 422 QuickTime files onto CF cards, which are formatted as HFS+ volumes that are instantly connected to a Mac computer via off-the-shelf CF card readers. “Anywhere a camera can go, Ki Pro Mini can follow,” said AJA President Nick Rashby. “It’s smaller than some battery packs and mounts to virtually everything. We designed Ki Pro Mini for any sized production that needs seamless 10-bit file-based acquisition– it’s about extreme portability and going from lens to post in a flash.” Ki Pro Mini is planned for availability in October and US MSRP is $1995. For a complete set of features and technical specifications, please visit www.aja.com. About AJA Video Systems, Inc. Since 1993, AJA Video has been a leading manufacturer of high-quality and cost-effective digital video interface, conversion and Desktop solutions supporting the professional broadcast and post- production markets. With headquarters in Grass Valley, California, AJA maintains an extensive sales channel of dealers and systems integrators around the world. For further information, please see our website www.aja.com.

Sony Professional strengthens XDCAM line-up

with PMW-500
 and XDCAM Station

Sep 10, 2010 pmw500 New 2/3-inch XDCAM HD422 memory shoulder camcorder and XDCAM Professional Media Station reinforces commitment to choice and innovation

IBC, Amsterdam, 10th September 2010 – Sony Professional today announced the latest additions to its hugely popular XDCAM HD422 line-up. The new products, which re-emphasise Sony’s continued commitment to the thousands of XDCAM users around the world, include a new XDCAM HD422 memory camcorder – the 
PMW-500.

The PMW-500 combines the exceptional picture quality of the PDW-700 with the operational flexibility of recording onto solid state SxS memory card. The PMW-500 is equipped with three 2/3” Power HAD FX CCD image sensors and can record both 1080 and 720 HD pictures at 50 Mb/s. It is ideal for broadcasters, rental companies and freelancers looking for a versatile memory based camcorder. Major broadcasters, including RTL TVI in Belgium and WDR in Germany are amongst the first to already have placed large orders ahead of product 
ex-factory.

“The PMW-500 represents the next step in the evolution of the XDCAM product range,” said Richard Brooking, of Sony Professional. “Since 2003, XDCAM has become an industry standard with over 150,000 units sold worldwide. Customers have been requesting an XDCAM HD422 memory camcorder for some time to sit alongside the phenomenally popular PDW-700 Professional Disc camcorder. So we are very happy to be launching the PMW-500 at IBC.” The PMW-500 has two slots for recording onto SxS Memory Card*. First introduced to the XDCAM EX range in 2007, SxS memory card provides an extremely high level of reliability and fast access to recorded data, both critical in demanding professional operations. At IBC, Sony is also adding a new higher capacity 64GB (SBS-64G1A) card which can record 2 hours of material at HD422 50Mbps MXF mode, or more than 4 hours of material and has an increased transfer speed of 1.2Gbps (SBS-32G1A & SBS-64G1A). The PMW-500 ex-factory will be within October 2010.

Other key features of the PMW-500 camcorder include:

  • XDCAM HD422 codec for exceptional picture quality at low data rate.
  • Switchable between MXF and MP4 for recording in XDCAM HD422, XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX modes.
  • Option to record MPEG IMX and DVCAM material allowing users to migrate to HD at their own pace.
  • Interoperability with major NLE systems enabling smooth workflow migration.
  • Lower power consumption for extended record time during shooting.
  • Four channels of uncompressed 48 kHz digital audio.

Another major introduction at IBC is XDCAM Station, a family of professional media recorders that bridge the worlds of SxS Memory card and Professional Disc. There will be three models in the line-up:

  • XDS-1000 – featuring an SxS Memory card slot and internal HDD storage
  • XDS-PD1000 – featuring an SxS Memory card slot, a Professional Disc drive and internal HDD storage
  • XDS-PD2000 – featuring an SxS Memory card slot, a Professional Disc drive and internal SSD storage

Depending upon the model chosen, customers can copy material from SxS memory card or Professional Disc onto the Hard Disc or Solid State storage within the XDCAM Station. The material can then be accessed for non linear editing or can be replayed under slow motion control. SDI input and output and network capability allows the device to function as an MXF gateway linking XDCAM media, baseband video and networked operation. The Professional Disc based models will also be able to record and read Sony’s new higher capacity 128GB Quad Layer Professional Discs, PFD128QLW. “These are extremely flexible devices offering yet more creative options for XDCAM users,” explained Richard Brooking. “We see applications within broadcast centres where customers can use XDCAM Station as an ingest gateway for their SxS memory card and Professional Disc media, and also on location for live applications and material sharing between camera operators and production staff.” The XDS-1000 will be available from March 2011, with the XDS-PD1000 and PD2000 available in summer 2011 along with PFD128QLW. *Recommended media for PMW-500 and XDCAM Station series are: SxS PRO: SBP-32, SBP-16, SBP-8 SxS-1: SBS-64G1A, SBS-32G1A, SBS-32G1 (**only SBS-32G1 needs firmware upgrade in the memory media itself.)

AJA Introduces Hi5-3D Mini-Converter For Stereo 3D Monitoring

September 10, 2010

3G/HD-SDI to HDMI 1.4a and SDI converter enables simple 3D playback on monitors and projectors

Amsterdam, Netherlands, IBC Conference Stand 7.F11 (September 10, 2010)–AJA Video Systems, a leading manufacturer of professional video interface and conversion solutions, announced the availability of Hi5-3D, a new mini-converter that combines dual 3G SDI inputs into various multiplexed 3D formats for output on true 3D HDMI 1.4a and SDI to enable simple, flexible stereoscopic viewing on 3D monitors and projection systems. The Hi5-3D’s true HDMI 1.4a output supports EDID transactions that automatically configure 2D/3D functions according to the HDMI monitor’s capabilities. Input SDI 2 is frame-synchronized to input SDI 1 in 3D modes and SDI input audio is embedded in both the HDMI and SDI outputs. Hi5-3D also supports 2-channel RCA audio output with user control of channel selection, along with AJA’s Mini-Config application for user configuration and firmware download. Other key features include:

  • Side-by-side, top-bottom and frame-packing modes
  • Complete H and V image flip control in any combination
  • Easy user control via dipswitch or USB
  • Support for both 2D and 3D inputs

“3D has brought a new level of complexity to post-production workflows, and our goal is to help simplify that,” said AJA President Nick Rashby. “The Hi5-3D converter automatically combines SDI input into stereo output and enables video pros to quickly and easily view 3D on a monitor or projector without making major changes to the workflows they already have in place.” Hi5-3D is available In October, and US MSRP is $495. For a complete set of features and technical specifications, please visit www.aja.com.

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24 Hour Film Race – Boston Winners Announced

The concept of the 24 Hour Film Race is pretty insane.  Late on a Friday night, you’re e-mailed a theme (with a surprise element tossed in),  and you then have approximately 24 hours to write, shoot and edit a final 4-minute piece.  Insane, right?  Challenging, right?  An adrenaline-pumping blast, right?  Yes, yes and yes.  What’s cool about this particular film race is that winners in Boston, for example, go on to compete against winning filmmakers in other cities across the country and in Canada.  The final winners (1 through 20) receive cash and other prizes.  As a result of this cross-country competition, both films and filmmakers get some substantial exposure. Boston’s winners were announced this week, with congratulations going to 1st Prize winner ”I ♥ U” by Neoscape and other runners-up listed in order below: 1)  ”Moving On” by Castparty Productions 2)  “Double Edged Sword” by Mango 3)  ”P.H.O.N.E. 300K” by Electric Shark Dog 4)  ”Pallino” by Bait & Tackle To watch the winning films, go to http://www.filmracing.com/.  It’s not too late to register for film races in Portland (Oregon) and Toronto. Screenings (leading to more winners) will take place in Denver and Seattle.  Winners have also been announced in Chicago, Miami and Minneapolis (in addition to Boston). Lisa D’Angelo Director of Outreach