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NAB 2011: Cameras

Manufacturers showed tons of new gear of all kinds at this month’s NAB Show in Las Vegas. Because my time at the show was limited, I focused primarily on new professional digital video cameras.

Some of these cameras were also involved in a 12-camera shootout – the Single Chip Camera Evaluation, a screening presented by Image Quality Geeks. More on this soon. Over the next two posts, I’ll preview a number of impressive new cameras introduced at or just before this NAB.

. . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2011: Cameras

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Production • Tech

Around the World in 11 Days: Part 2

In Manchester, England, we check into the Radisson Edwardian, well situated in a recently gentrified, reconstructed, and re-imagined section of downtown. On our arrival night, we are just in time for a late dinner at the restaurant in the lobby, which repeats its name in an endless sign across its glass wall. In our jetlagged haze, both Jim and I could swear the joint is named Palo Alto (where he grew up and we both went to school), but a closer inspection shows the name is really Alto. Or Altoaltoaltoaltoaltoaltoaltoaltoaltoalto.

We have four nights at the Radisson: our arrival day, a day of scouting, and two days of shooting. In all that time, the temperature stays between 30 and 40 degrees, nearly always drizzly or overcast, never raining hard, never quite freezing. We are at 53 degrees latitude, well north of our homes in the Bay Area, which are at about 37 degrees. This far north, this early in January, Manchester experiences less than eight hours of daylight in each 24-hour cycle.

On our scout day, we meet our patient, whom I’ll call Tim, and our local lighting gaffer/chief electrician, Stuart Drummond. We examine Tim’s flat and determine it’s . . . CONTINUE READING: Around the World in 11 Days: Part 2

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Production

Eerie Times at USP

In Brazil, our story was based in Ribeirão Preto, (pronounced something like “HEE-bay-roan PRAY-toe,” though all Brazilians laughed at our attempts to say it) a city of a half million, three or four hours inland from São Paulo. Our final shoot was at the local campus of the Universidade de São Paulo. In search of an interview background that was neither a glass hotel nor a slum, our local production assistant Erica took us to the university.

The Ribeirão Preto campus of “OOS-pee,” as USP is known, is spread out, tree-covered, and rural. Driving through campus, Randy chose a spot in front of a blue house with some mottled light coming through the trees in the background, then Erica helped Lori and our Brazilian producer Marcello Bartz get permission to shoot there the next day.

<<See also: Brazil: My First iPhone Video, Continental Drift>>

We pulled up in several trucks and proceeded to unload our cases and set up our gear. A few neighbors stopped by to see what was going on, and after a while a truck came speeding up and three burly guys quickly emerged. They looked around uncertainly, taking in the scene, . . . CONTINUE READING: Eerie Times at USP

Production • Tech

Living in Oblivion: On Creating, then Destroying Your Original Video Media

Preserving the sanctity of your original media has always been one of the cardinal rules of production.

In my first week of film school, I learned about work print. The original film negative is used once to make this cloned copy, then the original is locked away, presumably in a climate-controlled vault environment. The work print is used for editing, with all the scratches, tears, gouges and dirt endemic to the mechanical film editing process. The pristine original negative is only brought out at the end of the process to make printing masters, then locked away again.

When I first started shooting video, one advantage it had over film was that the tapes could be erased and reused, or so I was told. But in common professional practice, this is rarely done. In these days of non-linear editing, the original tapes are used as source material when the footage is digitized into the Final Cut Pro or Avid systems, then they are vaulted, in case of problems later.

What kinds of problems? Recently I shot a corporate project on HDV, and shortly afterward the producer called me in a panic with the news that all the footage we had . . . CONTINUE READING: Living in Oblivion: On Creating, then Destroying Your Original Video Media