Image by Prof. Federico Capasso A new flat lens optical technology based on metasurfaces promises to revolutionise the way we think about optics. The material is finer than a human hair and bends light in the same way as a tradational, thick glass layer does. Is this the lens technology of the future? Flat Lens Based on Metasurfaces Prof. Federico Capasso and his team have been working on the nano silicone technology for years. While development is still in its early stages, one can already imagine how this could revolutionise the way we work in film productions. The thin surface bends light, just like traditional lenses do, but at a fraction of the size and weight. In a new report published in Sciencemag today, Prof. Capasso outlines how the use of the silicone antennae that the team developed makes it possible to shape light of various wavelengths by bending it instantly, not over time as conventional glass lenses do, thus removing any chromatic aberrations that could be present. Image by Prof. Federico Capasso The lens is made of a layer of transparent quartz coating with millions of small pillars which they arrange on the surface as a pattern with the help of computer calculations, replicating the focussing effect of a traditional lens. Right now the prototype lenses are only 2mm across, but the method could scale to any size in the future. This technology certainly looks very promising and the applications in camera lens designs as well as many other fields seems huge. What do you think about the flat lens metasurface? Let us know in the comments. If you’re into scientific stuff, there’s also a Plenary presentation from SPIE Optics from 2013 that goes into more detail about the theory of the new technology: via BBC NewsRead more
by Kevin Alexander | 7th July 2015
It’s 50 percent smaller. 40 percent lighter. And it’s waterproof. GoPro announced the Hero4 Session and it’s definitely getting some buzz. GoPro has announced a new smaller and lighter version of their popular action cameras. The Hero4 Session is getting a lot of buzz right now mainly because of its small form factor. But the question remains as to whether or not it is a good choice for filmmakers. First, here are some basic facts about the camera. It has an 8MP sensor as compared to the 12MP sensor on the Hero4 Black and Silver. It records in 480p, 720p, 1080p, and 1440p with frame rates ranging from 25fps up to 1oofps, depending on which resolution you choose. It can shoot a Medium angle of view in 720p and 1080p, with the option for UltraWide in all other resolutions including 1440p. And it can be controlled either with a separately purchased GoPro Smart Remote or via the iPhone app. But what about cinematic features that filmmakers are looking for? Right off the bat it must be stated that this camera does not shoot 24p. So why are filmmakers talking about it? Here’s a quick look at some the other features people are talking about. GoPro HERO4 Session Features (via NoFilmSchool) Video at 1080/60p, 720/100p and 1440/30p (2.5k) Waterproof to 33’ (10m), no separate housing required Easy one-button control: short press of shutter powers camera on and begins capturing video, long shutter button press powers camera on and begins capturing time-lapse photos Captures 8MP Single, Burst, and Time Lapse photos Compatible with GoPro mounts and accessories Dual Mic system captures enhanced audio during high wind and water-based activities Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth® enable easy connectivity to GoPro App and Smart Remote Auto image rotation corrects image orientation during recording Includes standard and low-profile frame mounts for increased mounting versatility New Ball Joint Buckle mount is included Price: $400 The Hero4 Session is waterproof, no extra housing required. So, obviously the frame rates aren’t something to get filmmakers excited about – No 24p. And the same goes with the resolution – no 4K. It does shoot up to 2.5K, but only in 30p. But the fact that it is waterproof without the need for an extra housing unit is interesting. What about other important features GoPro users are already familiar with, like Protune? Well, Philip Bloom got his hands on the camera and shared his thoughts on his website. He compared his Hero4 Silver with the Session, and thought the Protune on the Silver looks better (see images below). It’s also worth mentioning that the bit rate on the Session is only around 25 Mbps. GoPro Session 1080p 50p protune sharpness off UNGRADED (Via: Philip Bloom) GoPro Session frame GRADED (Via: Philip Bloom) GoPro Silver 1080p 50p protune flat sharpness low ev to -0.5 white balance 5500k UNGRADED (Via: Philip Bloom) GoPro Hero 4 Silver image graded with FilmConvert. (Via: Philip Bloom) The GoPro HERO4 Session may not end up as ubiquitous as the Hero4 Black with its cinematic capabilities, but with its small form factor and waterproof housing it should make for another choice when a compact camera is needed for action shots. It will cost $399.99, is currently available for preorder, and will start shipping later this month. (Photo: The Wall Street Journal) Specs Sensor: 8 Megapixel Angle of View: Medium (1080p, 720p), Ultra Wide (1440p, 1080p, 960p, 720p, WVGA) Video Format: 1440p (fps: 25, 30), 1080p (fps: 25, 30, 48, 50, 60), 960p (fps: 25, 30, 50, 60), 720p (fps: 25, 30, 50, 60, 100), 480p (fps: 100, 120) ISO Sensitivity: 400 – 1600 Remote: Works with GoPro Smart Remote and iPhone app Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Battery Life: 2 hours per chargeRead more
We talked to Hien Le, CEO of Letus, about their new gimbal stabilizer, the Letus Helix Jr. The Letus Helix was introduced last year and made for medium-sized cameras, e.g. C300 and Red Epic. The Helix Jr. takes the same concept and applies it to smaller cameras like the A7s or GH4. It’s extremely refreshing to see a gimbal product that is different from the Freefly Systems MoVi concept in form factor – which is a concept that many, many other manufacturers copied and sell on the market under different names. The Helix Jr. has a different form factor which is immediately obvious. It is a more compact design that allows you to bring the camera much closer to the body than the Freefly designs do. Also, the handles are on the side directly next to the camera, so you have a more intuitive operation of the device. A monitor can be mounted on top and there is a less jarring experience than on other systems where the monitor is usually mounted on the handle bar. With the Helix Jr. it seems much easier to go from low to high angle in one take, which is almost impossible with the MoVi. Also, the length of the camera rig is much less of an issue. The Helix Jr. can also be put down without a stand, which is a big plus in my book. Last but not least it can also be used on a multicopter easily by detaching the handles. The Helix Jr is currently shipping and you can order it at www.letus35.com for immediate delivery.Read more
We already reported about it in a recent news post (click here) – Tentacle Sync is a small black box (about the size and shape of a LP-E6 Canon battery which you might be familiar with from the 5D and 7D) which attaches to your camera and audio recorder and generates timecode. Now the guys behind the Indiegogo campaign and the product itself gave us a chance to use their prototypes and take them for a spin on a shoot. And I have to say, I’m thoroughly impressed. Syncing video and audio has been an important issue for mid-range to semi-pro shooters ever since DSLRs became commonplace, due to their lack to professional audio inputs. We started recording sound on external audio recorders, but that brought the problem of syncing audio in post with it. A brilliant software called Pluraleyes (now owned and developed by Red Giant, the makers of the legendary Magic Bullet Suite) made our lives much easier by analyzing and comparing waveforms, and thereby syncing the audio tracks easily and in a very straightforward way, ready to be edited in the NLE system of your choice. However, of course Pluraleyes has its limit. Sometimes the camera is so far away from the action that its internal microphone doesn’t pick up what the audio recorder is picking up (and actually isn’t supposed to), which means there is no corresponding audio track to sync. The same is true for multi-camera shoots at events. It happened to me before that Pluraleyes thought it had recognized similarities and synced tracks up, but in reality it’s completely off because it might have used the wrong refrain of a music track played in the background as a reference. You can’t blame it really, it’s still an amazing piece of software that makes our lives so much easier, but it clearly has its limits. If you work in traditional broadcast TV environments from time to time like I do, you might be familiar with Ambient Recording’s LockIt devices, which are made for larger broadcast cameras, feeding a timecode signal into the cameras which is in sync with the one generated for the external audio recorder. So it’s almost the same thing for a much higher price and with a considerably larger footprint similiar to a pack of cigarettes – so hardly feasible for everyday indie productions. Several times before I had issues attaching a LockIt to my C300, ending up with velcro-ing it onto the top grip, which is far from ideal and limits how I can use the camera. Test set-up The Tentacles are tiny – so tiny in fact that you can attach them even to small cameras like the A7s easily. And that’s exactly what I ended up doing. When testing, I gave it a quick go with an audio recorder, connecting one of the Tentacles with the supplied mini jack to XLR cable, while the other XLR track of my Tascam DR-100 recorded from an external Røde NTG-3 microphone. Before that, you have to do a quick and easy sync run between the Tenticles by connecting them to each other with the supplied cable, pressing the one button until the green lights flash in unison. Very easy and straightforward. Trying to mimic a typical production, I let the audio track run through for about 30 minutes, while I collected a lot of different shots with the Sony A7s, which had the other Tentacle attached to it simply via a mini jack cable into the microphone input port. This is a very realistic scenario and exactly where I had problems with Pluraleyes before: a multi-cam event shoot with an audio recorder at a central position, recording a wild track of the event on one channel, and possibly the audio from the stage on on two other channels – maybe one camera in a fixed wide position filming the stage, while I’m on the other, smaller camera, catching close-ups from the stage performance as well as quick reaction shots from the audience. When I mimicked this scenario, the Tentacles worked great – I used their supplied software to sync up audio with the image, and then getting an XML that can be imported into Final Cut Pro X. Alternatively you can also export the clips with attached audio tracks, which makes you entirely independent of what editing system you use – or, say, to hand off footage files to another person to edit, without giving them the hassle of syncing. Now it should be added that the SMPTE timecode signal embedded into the audio track which is generated by the Tentacles is industry standard – that means you don’t have to use their software – it’s totally optional. You can still sync timecodes in the editing application. For peace of mind, the Tentacles also have a reference mic build in. I guess that’s really just for extreme emergencies though, because I can’t really think of many occasions where you might need it when you have proper timecode – only if another Tentacle fails to work, I guess, you can still sync via Pluraleyes with the reference sound. Conclusion There’s not much more to say about the Tentacles than they just work. The guys behind these devices show a rare ability to think of easy solutions that work well both in hardware and their software – probably because they all come from video production as well. I’m looking forward for their software to support even more codecs and multicam exports better, but it’s already very well matured. It’s definitely very close to market, something you can’t say about most crowd funding campaigns for hardware … I can recommend Tentacle Sync to anyone who regularly records image and sound separately on set. It’s just a no-brainer with these boxes, without the need for clapperboards and a lot of hassle in post production. Last but not least, it’s predominantly sound people who know the matter best – of course, it’s their business. The guys behind soundrolling.com interviewed Max and Ulrich from Tentacle Sync extensively, asking all the right questions about the product – check out the recording of the YouTube Q&A by clicking here (unfortunately it can’t be embedded). You can preorder Tentacle Sync on Indiegogo now. Hands On Tentacle Sync – Hardware – Part 1/2 from Tentacle Sync on Vimeo. Hands On Tentacle Sync – Software – Part 2/2 from Tentacle Sync on Vimeo.Read more
The much anticipated GoPro Hero 4 has been announced. The camera will be available as two models, a Black and Silver edition as well as a new entry-level camera simply named The Hero.Read more
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