Here at cinema5D we value the quality of education tremendously. Together with Philip Bloom and others I have given numerous of our three-day Filmmaking Masterclasses over the years (Majorca, Las Vegas, Key West), where participants make a film from beginning to end under our guidance. This year we are back at Wotton House in Surrey close to London Oct 27-29, end of next month (website/signup here!), a beautiful venue perfect for a practical shooting workshop. We take only a very limited number of participants (no more than between 20 and 30 maximum, with a teacher-student ratio of 6-1 or 7-1) to keep the quality high. Because of the time and effort it takes to put these together, we do only one per year now, which is why this is a really rare opportunity. Here’s Johnnie’s post about why you should join a Masterclass, and here’s Philip’s write-up about last year’s Masterclass including the finished films created during the workshop. This year’s focus: Photographers becoming Filmmakers With more and more photographers enquiring about workshops, we thought it’s time to tailor this year’s workshop around photographers who want to become more proficient in filmmaking. Starting with the concept and ending with the finished film, we guide the participants through all the hoops of filmmaking and focus particularly on the differences to photography. This is about corporate filmmaking under time pressure and with other constraints, just like a real “client job” in the real world. The finished piece will be a corporate film. Tutors Alongside Philip Bloom and me, I am very happy to have World Press Photo award winner Edmond Terakopian and Julian Wakefield with us as tutors as well. It’s a high-end tutor line-up which guarantees an unmatched level of experience and amount of professional perspectives among the teachers. The workshop agenda will be as follows. Day 1: THE BRIEF & PREPARING FOR THE SHOOT We start the workshop with an opening morning sessions by the lead tutors Philip Bloom, Nino Leitner, about various aspects dealing with the challenges of corporate filmmaking. We will also be joined by a leading photographer who has made the transition to video making. In this session we will cover the following topics to make you stand out and get that job! Pitching and budgeting jobs Hands-on experience on how to pitch and then budget for a shoot. What are good tips of differentiating your offer from your competitors? We will discuss accountability and transparency, as well as how to ensure that you get the job! Dealing with clients: So you got that job that you pitched for – now some hands-on tips on dealing with clients during pre-production, during shoots and post-production. How to keep your clients happy while not giving up your ideals and your creative vision. How to manage expectations and keeping them off your back particularly during shoots. We will also cover how to deal proactively with client expectations. A different kind of corporate film: Finally we will cover how to retain creativity in a field crowded with mediocrity. Some real world examples of corporate films that are less than usual, but more effective than others in gaining the audience’s attention. Day 1 Afternoon Session: In this session we will host rotating on-location mini workshops to the following topics, dealing with practical aspects of corporate filmmaking with The importance of telling a story through a sequence. Whilst much photography tells a lot of the story through one image in video you need many shots to fill time but each shot much count. In this session you will see a sequence being filmed lived with explanations as to the decisions being made. Using clean natural sound will also be highlighted in this. Setting up interviews – How do you technically set up an interview to get the best results? Camera angles, viewing directions, location, sound, and optionally added also movement and finally lighting for interviews. Interview techniques – A practical how to actually deal with your subject to make them feel most comfortable, i.e. getting the best out of them on camera. How to ask questions in order to get the right answers? How to guide an interview … and a lot more “soft skills”. Camera movement: A technical session on how to use sliders, gimbals and other camera movement equipment for greatest effect, particularly in constrained corporate environments. How to make a dull location and shot look interesting. End of classes and break for dinner. After dinner we will break into groups according to tutor’s assessments on who fits together. Then each group will get a “client brief” and the groups will start working on their scripts and concepts for the shoots. There will be some set stations for different aspects of the films, and every group will get to work with every tutor. DAY 2: THE SHOOT Actors, helping hands and extras will be on set who are playing the Employees, CEO and any other characters that may need to be in tour film. These actors have been instructed by the tutors before to play some “typical client roles”, so they will be similarly hard and easy to work with just like some clients. Each group rotates through each of these environments and gets to work with all the actors These are some ideas of the different stations (actual “stations” dependent on some other factors such as location and available actors): Interview with manager of hotel. B-roll of staff working in hotel Shoot b-roll exteriors of hotel and grounds. Each team member will be given one aspect to film, one doing timelapse, one doing architecture, one the garden etc. This is where every one can show their shooting skill in a limited amount of time without having to deal with others – yet still thinking of a general style in which the shots have to fit for the entire production. These can be real-life b-roll shots or timelapses, depending on what is needed by the film. In the evening, groups will start ingesting the footage of their shoots and organizing the edit, which will formally start on day 3. Wotton House, Surrey – The venue for the Filmmaking Masterclass London 2016. Day 3: EDITING The day will be spent editing with their main tutors on 1-2 edit stations. The main tutor will again act as the client and assess how close they stuck to the brief. There will be two different edits of the corporate film, a short and a long version. The exact length of these films will be determined by the “client tutors” at the beginning of the production. There will be some mini breakout workshops during the edit day to cover aspects of post production. Details for these will be provided a little later in time, but they will cover basic colour grading, some editing techniques and audio. After the deadline, there will be communal screening and feedback of the films, by all the tutors as well as the participants. We will talk about the challenges and learning experience of the workshop. After that, students and tutors will have an informal farewell evening together. You can book by clicking the banner below or here.Read more
Yesterday we saw the announcement of the Sony 18-110mm F/4 lens for super 35 cameras here at IBC 2016. Here is a hands-on video checking out the new features. For FS5 and FS7 shooters, the wider focal length of 18mm will be a pleasing addition when compared top the slightly longer 28mm (equivalent to 27-165mm in full frame). The Sony 18-110mm has a constant aperture of F/4, and, weighing only 1105 grams, it keeps camera setups compact and light. Sony 18-110mm features and specs at a glance: 18-110mm focal length (27-167mm full frame equivalent). Constant F/4 aperture. Smooth Motion Optics minimizes breathing, axial shift and focus shifting. Reversable zoom control (change the zoom ring direction from clockwise to anti clockwise). New removable lens tripod mount. New removable lens cover and lens cap included. The new lens will be around €3,999 ($4,500 from B&H) and will be available from December 2016. For the full article please click here.Read more
Recently, I had a chance to have a nightly Sony FS5 hands-on with a preproduction model of the camera, and as an owner of the FS7, I was intrigued to check out its new little sibling. The most important things first: While I was able to record footage with the camera, Sony asked to not publish any footage from a preproduction camera as firmware and hardware updates might change the characteristics of the footage until the release in December. We always respect those wishes because there is no sense in judging the image from an “unfinished” product. Having said that, before going into details, the body of the camera felt practically final and clearly came out of a production line already. I expect any hardware changes in the last minute to be minor. It was interesting to see a “Made in China” label at the bottom of the camera, which is unusual for a Japanese camera – but this can probably be attributed to the high volumes Sony is anticipating to sell of this camera model. (They might have learned from the introduction of the Sony FS7, which became very popular very quickly, resulting in thousands of backordered units because they didn’t expect that much demand for it.) Size and weight What struck me first about the FS5 was its incredibly small footprint and low weight. With all its versatility, the FS7 is much heavier and larger. The FS7’s length is a particular problem as it’s too long to put on my MøVi M10 gimbal (or DJI Ronin M, for that matter), while the Canon C300 fits on those gimbals nicely after you take off its side handle and monitor/XLR combo. There is no such problem with the FS5. When you take off both the top handle, monitor and side handle, you end up with a tiny box with the footprint of a larger smartphone. It still has a different shape, but the barebones body is comparable to the size of a small DSLR or even mirrorless camera. Handling & Ergonomics In many ways, the FS5 feels like Sony has taken some “inspiration” from what people like about the Canon C300 / C100 cameras and combined it with what they have learned with their FS7 ergonomically. The handle which is attached to the side of the camera has a nice fit for larger hands like mine. Users with smaller hands might have a harder time, just like with the FS7 – however I’m sure Sony did some research on their users and probably made this work for the average user. It feels like it can be held comfortably for a long time while shooting. Another nice treat: The handle can be repositioned with the press of a button. This is a clear advantage over the C300, where you need a second hand to reposition the handle (which however works very well and comfortably too). Small cameras usually come with a built-in problem: They don’t work on the shoulder out of the box, which generally means less stability without an added rig. This is also true for the FS5 of course. The FS7 is one of few cameras that can be used without a rig (with a small lens) as the camera kind of works on the shoulder out of the box (only “kind of”, because the shoulder pad cannot be adjusted, is way too hard and too far back on the camera as soon as you use an average sized zoom lens of any kind). One of the biggest downsides of the modular design that Canon invented with the C300 is the fact that you lose all professional XLR connectors once you take off the monitor / XLR part of the camera. Sony learned from Canon’s mistakes and put one of the FS5’s two XLR ports onto the body itself, directly below the handgrip, and the other one remains on the removable top handle. The positioning seems quite smart and it looks like an XLR cable wouldn’t be in your way of shooting in most cases. Monitor & viewfinder To use the viewfinder of the camera, it needs to be awkwardly held in front of you just like with cheaper camcorders, because the viewfinder sticks out of the back (this is also the same for the C300). This isn’t a good position in the first place, but it doesn’t help that the quality of the viewfinder isn’t particularly great … it’s worse than the viewfinders of the A7s or other A7 series cameras, and that’s clearly a point where Sony tried to save some money unfortunately. The eyepiece itself is also too hard and small to look through over an extended period of time. The monitor on the FS5 can be put onto several connection points on the removable to handle and that gives a lot of versatility for different shooting modes – nice to see that much built-in versatility. Its quality is much superior to the viewfinder and seems like the one on the FS7, which is absolutely usable for critical focusing (especially combined with the punch-in magnification). Battery It’s nice to see that the same battery standard is used for both the FS7 and FS5, Sony’s BPU. This standard was introduced many years ago with the EX1 and EX3, and if you are like me and still have your EX3 lying around, you have some additional backup batteries for your FS5 or FS7. Built-in Variable (Fader) ND There is some real innovation in the FS5 in terms of ND filters. We’re used to having a set of switchable built-in ND’s in our pro cameras – three steps in the FS7 and the same amount in the FS5, for example. However, the FS5 can be switched to a variable ND mode in which the intensity of the neutral density filter can be adjusted stepless, “fading” from low to high intensity by turning a wheel. This is a brilliant function that I have been missing in these camcorders for years. This means you don’t have to adjust the aperture of an electronically controlled lens if the sun comes out or goes away during an outdoor interview shoot, for example. Menus The FS7, like the F55 and F5, has an annoyingly laggy menu, and this wasn’t really enhanced significantly with firmware updates yet. The FS5 on the other hand has a menu that reacts very quickly to input, which is nice to see. Conclusion There’s much more to test and review about this camera, but these were just my first impressions. We will try to get our hands on a production version of the camera as soon as possible and of course shoot a review with it, comparing its footage to the FS7’s footage (and the XAVC-L codec to the FS7’s superior XAVC-I codec).Read more
We are here at BVE 2015 in London and together with our UK man Tim Fok I had a chance to have a hands-on with the super lightweight Alexa Mini, and an extended chat with Arri product manager for cameras, Michael Jonas. As might already have read in our news post about the new Alexa camera, the new “baby” Alexa is targeted at gimbal (like on a MoVi M15) and multicopter shooters. However, when holding it in our hands we realized that this camera will also be very popular with “normal” shooters who want to stay extremely small without sacrificing the legendary Alexa quality – but they must also have the money (to either rent or buy body-only for €32,500), and the camera quite clearly isn’t a bargain. It’s tinier than I thought it would be – it feels considerably smaller than a Red Epic, but they are similar in size. It’s very lightweight and according to Michael Jonas, it comes in at roughly 300 grams less than the Red Dragon / Epic. The Alexa Mini features a set of mounting screw holes that haven’t been seen on other cameras before. Mounting it on a normal tripod isn’t its main intended purpose, but surely a lot of people will want to do just that – and Arri will sell them a cage for that. It won’t take long until other accessory makers will provide solutions for that. Due to the fact that the body is made out of carbon fibre, the mounting screw holes were put onto the metal front part which holds the lens mount – the carbon fibre would break under too much force. Be sure to watch the full video to see some of the first footage of the Arri Alexa Mini which we were able to shoot at the Arri stand at BVE, and of course also to hear all the technical details about the camera from Michael Jonas. Arri plans to start taking orders in March and the body-only price (as mentioned above) will be EUR 32,500. We are planning to shoot a review film with a pre production model as soon as possible.Read more
You might already have seen our field test with the C100 Mark II conducted by my friend Johnnie (watch the embedded video at the bottom). The camera is the successor of Canon’s entry level cinema camera, the C100. A lot of people have asked us for a side-by-side hands-on with the original C100, and so here we are. Mind you, the Mark II that we had was a preproduction sample and things are subject to change until the camera is released soon. Canon improved a lot of small things with regards to handling and usability in the C100 Mark II, and slightly improved image processing with a newer processing unit – which results in cleaner images. Overall it’s just an incremental update though, and the lack of 4K recording, higher internal bitrates and only up to 60fps in 1080p leave a lot to be desired. It’s nice to see though that Canon really listens to feedback when enhancing products, because usability (flip-out screen, viewfinder …) definitely got a lot better. And it’s more bang for the buck than ever before, that’s for sure. Watch Johnnie’s review mini documentary of the C100 Mark II here:Read more
Last week we took a close look at the AMIRA, the newest camera by Arri that is aimed at serious “documentary style” shooters, with a focus on ergonomics and incorporating the famous sensor from the more expensive and more heavy ALEXA camera. This week I’d like to share my experience shooting the live music video for Sophie Abraham we recently created with the Arri AMIRA. This production was executed very spontaneously, without pre-production and a crew consisting of myself and 1-2 assistants, all quite literally in the “documentary style” spirit which the AMIRA is promoted for. A little more time and planning would have helped to make the shots more consistent, but we couldn’t afford that as there was no budget for this test video. A great chance to put the camera into a stressful shooting situation. Note that not only video, but also audio was recorded directly in camera. We used minimal lighting (1x Arri 1200W HMI, 2 Dedolights with 1 gobo projection lens (background stripes)). The video was shot in 2 (half) shooting days. Weight vs. Ergonomics As mentioned in our video review (part 1) weight can be an issue as the AMIRA with its 5kg weighs a lot more than other super35mm sensor cameras like the FS700 or the C300. This also forces you to use heavier accessories. For the music video I used 4 V-mount batteries and a charger which got me through the (half) day, 4 Zeiss CP2 lenses 21mm, 35mm, 50mm macro and 135mm, a dolly (Camdolly) and the Sachtler Cine 7+7 tripod. These were all great accessories, but they are all a class more expensive and more heavy than the basic stuff you can use with the alternative cameras mentioned. For example I could not use a basic slider or a small tripod as they would both collapse underneath the camera. Working with more advanced and more heavy tools however also adds steadiness and smoothness to the shots as you may know. The Camdolly we used is a very modular and comparably lightweight and affordable (about $4000) dollying tool that you can even setup to sit on with your camera as it carries up to 200kg. For our purpose sliding the camera was enough and setup time was very quick. It took about 3 minutes to move from one shot to the next. Still, the Camdolly box and all the other boxes cannot be carried by one person. You should keep in mind you need a crew of at least 2 or 3 people to shoot with the AMIRA plus accessories. On the shoulder Of course, when you only plan on using the camera on your shoulder then all you need is the single box the camera comes in, sufficient V-mount batteries and your lens(es). This can ideally all go into two normal flight cases and can be carried by a single person. Also handheld is where the Arri AMIRA really shines. I complemented the ergonomic design in the video review and I must say again, that having the Arri AMIRA on the shoulder is wonderful. The sliding adjustments, no setup time, the nice OLED EVF and the convenient user buttons and switches on the side make for an experience a cameraman like myself won’t forget. I could have carried it on my shoulder all day and I’m looking forward to working with the camera again on a shoulder-only project. I hear Arri is already working on additional accessories and upgrades to make the camera even more perfect for shoulder work. As a handheld setup I used the Vocas handgrips on a pair of fibre rods and an MFF-1 follow focus. Lenses for Handheld I only used CP2 primes and I especially felt the Zeiss CP2 50mm macro lens added a lot to this shoot as the look, sharpness and macro possibilities are really convincing. I worked on a second project with the Amira and took the chance to try working with bigger lenses (PL zooms) on the shoulder and I must note that for me they made the camera too heavy and out of balance. This is why I’m very much looking forward to the interchangeable EF-mount option Arri is working on (no release date yet). I imagine having the option to use EF zoom lenses will make the camera even more easy to use for my purposes and provide sufficient quality. The assistant’s LCD I was very happy to have a smallHD field monitor at hand, because for me the flip-out LCD was not a good option for controlling my shots. It just felt I “didn’t see everything”. The LCD as mentioned in the video review is prone to ghosting and thus contrast is lost during motion. This is why I call this LCD the “assistant’s LCD” as I think its main purpose is not for shooting, but rather to observe your framing and control the menu. The smallHD DP6 was sitting on a solid camera EVF support that works very well also with bigger field monitors. The only thing missing was a longer SDI cable that I didn’t have at hand. Sound We recorded sound directly from the two high quality Schoeps CMC 5 we had, into the phantom powered XLR’s of the camera. The AMIRA has a normal headphone jack and the controls for sound are on the other side. Each of the 4 channels can be adjusted individually and there are audio level indications on the side and inside the EVF so I could always keep an eye on them. Workflow Basically the workflow was as simple as the rest of the camera, similar to the Alexa workflow as it is described here. When a card is full the camera switches to the second slot. There’s no finalizing footage, ejecting or any of the hassle. You just take out the card and offload the ProRes to your computer and backup. I could easily get through the day with two 120GB cards without ever offloading. I shot everything in Apple ProRes 4444 with the Log C curve. Editing Back on my editing machine (Still using good old Final Cut 7) editing ProRes 4444 natively is a breeze on most current computers and very straight forward to work with. After locking my editing I went into DaVinci Resolve 10 for color correction, which I can only recommend to anyone who hasn’t yet started to use this great app. Exporting from Final Cut via XML gives me my whole timeline and even zoom adjustments right within DaVinci. I love using filmconvert as a starting point for my grades, and DaVinci is the perfect host application for that. The filmconvert OpenFX plugin (10% off with code “cinema5D”) unlike the standalone is very stable and in connection with the crisp and organic AMIRA footage produces stunning results that I only need to tweak lightly. This is how grading is fun. ISO and noise For this project I mostly (about 95%) shot ISO 3200 on the AMIRA as I used a lot of natural light in the location and also wanted to see how far the sensor can be pushed. There were a few shots where the noise, even though it looks very filmic, was too much for my tastes. Luckily I could easily remove that noise within Davinci, but of course it did water down the quality of my shots a little. Concluding I must say the AMIRA seems like it does quite ok under low lighting conditions. There are other cameras though where sensor technology is already more advanced in terms of lowlight though. What I really liked about the AMIRA was that the sensor produces a very very even level of noise. Many other cameras have extremely bad noise in the blacks, so once you underexpose you can forget your shots. The AMIRA really records your shots reliably and you’re able to push them a little without worrying. Final words Working with the Arri AMIRA was quite a good experience. There have been numerous cameras I was not so fond of, but this one had a lot for me. Maybe it’s my personal shooting style and maybe it’s not the right tool for you, but if the price is not an obstacle then it seems this camera does attract the attention of shooters from quite a diverse range of fields. The camera isn’t flawless, especially the weight is the biggest point to consider on every shoot as it can define your whole production size. For me the (still) lacking EF mount option is something that would hold me off on working with the camera again right away and the flip-out LCD could be improved, which Arri will surely do on the next iteration of the Arri AMIRA camera. In terms of an overall shooting experience the ergonomics of the Arri AMIRA had me totally convinced and it was just a pleasure to work with from start to finish. Now I’ve said enough good things and if you have the chance it’s up to you to go out and try this camera yourself. Note that the video compression of vimeo really doesn’t do justice to this camera. See the above still frame (graded) in full to observe the nice quality of the sensor. The difference between the original file and the compressed video online unfortunately is like night and day… You might want to download the compressed source file for a better experience here: vimeo.com/96921772 Thanks again to the very talented young cello artist Sophie Abraham who participated in this camera test and contributed her musical genius. You can find more of her music on her website: www.sophie-abraham.com Where to buy? In the US area you can get the Arri AMIRA at Abel Cine Tech: Basic version: $35,468 US BUY LINK ProRes 422, rec709, 100fps, HD Advanced Version: $39,499 US BUY LINK ProRes 422 (HQ), Log C, 200fps Premium Version: $45,025 US BUY LINK ProRes 4444 and 2K In Europe you can get the Arri AMIRA at AF Marcotec: Basic version: 25,980€ EU BUY LINK ProRes 422, rec709, 100fps, HD Advanced Version: 28,980€ EU BUY LINK ProRes 422 (HQ), Log C, 200fps Premium Version: 32,980€ EU BUY LINK ProRes 4444 and 2K Availablity? The Arri AMIRA is shipping now. More about the Arri AMIRA on the official website. CREDITS Musical performance – SOPHIE ABRAHAM filmmaking – SEBASTIAN WÖBER special thanks to MAX HOFSTÄTTER CAMILLO CIBULKA GERHARD WEINER ROBI FAUSTMANN CAROLINA STEINBRECHER JOHNNIE BEHIRI NINO LEITNER JULIA WESELY JULIA LÖSCHLRead more
cinema5D had a chance to test the new Sony F55, Sony’s new flagship 4K cinema camera. As a reference we used Canon’s most advanced HDSLR. The F55 is an interesting camera, because it is one that ticks more boxes than any other camera over the past few years – the range of resolutions, frame rates, codecs as well as the ergonomics are unprecedented. Now it’s down to actually using it to make a judgement call. We wanted to know how the camera performs in a normal sooting environment and took the Canon EOS 1DC 4K HDSLR with us for comparison. Some interesting conclusions can be drawn here, things you might consider if you plan on shooting with either of these cameras or would just like to see what to expect. You can download (1GB) and watch the source video in 4K on vimeo: LINKRead more
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