Createasphere – Entertainment Technology

Feb 23, 2010 2 Comments by

Last 18th of February Createasphere came to LA once again, this time in Universal City. The theme was Entertainment Technology and the vibe was sure saturated with HDSLR ; )~

The first happening was the Canon HDSLR breakfast meetup, where we would hear some interesting news, while feasting on hot coffee and donuts. This mixed crowd of filmmakers/photographers has been building a tradition of good vibes/good atmosphere since the memorable Collision Conference.

Shane Hurlbut, showcasing his Hurlbut Visuals HDSLR custom setups, was stealing the crowd’s attention and excitement, displaying some very interesting solutions that will be hitting the market, sometime soon, like the VF Contineo Cage.

Seems like Shane  is gearing up to create an HDSLR “Pananvision” like service, where you will be able to rent these ready to roll, very functional solutions, based on HDSLRs.

Shane showing off his rigs.

Red Rock Micro announced a new handle that attaches to the hot shoe of your camera, making hand held, run and gun follow shots a lot more feasible. Definitely something I’m going to keep my eye on! (sorry, I wasn’t fast enough drawing my camera to get a shot of the slide show… but I promise to keep practicing, so I won’t miss next time…)

Zeiss was to follow with the announcement of a cinema lens with EOS mount! Someone is starting to take this market trend seriously! No more compromises!!! Curious? Keep reading as there will be more information further down! (I still didn’t have my camera ready but my iPhone bailed me out…)

With many different workshops running simultaneously, I opted to attend Canon’s Intensive workshop. As a free event (other workshops/seminars were payed), the line was scary long and seating was first come first serve… so despite arriving at the recommended hour, I found myself somewhere mid line, wondering if there would still be a seat left for me…

This is what the line looked like behind me…

After everyone seated and settled, I think most of us didn’t quite know what to expect…
Canon, only now starts showing the deserved attention to the trend they unconsciously put out in the market less then a few years ago. The so essential and craved firmware update to grant 24p/25p capturing capabilities to the 5D still isn’t out, but it’s in the works and expected soon… And the rumors of a RAW HD EOS being tested in Europe, might be the final proof that we needed, to know this technology is not only here to stay, but will definitely change the game! With its maker finally backing it up without compromise?! Well… Lets hope, wait and see what happens…

Presenting the session was Boston Final Cut Pro User Group Headcutter Daniel Berube.
With a light and entertaining tone we moved on to the serious stuff.

Canon’s HDSLR demo reel is irrefutably impressive! Some big credits like Crank 2! A major release studio picture, should clear the doubts on the skeptical minds that this technology is not only very useable, but very powerful, when in the right hands.
All the quizzical camera test and downfalls surrounding these cameras seem gone when watching footage like this on a big screen!
Like Phillip Bloom stated in one of his recent blogs: “If it looks great on the big screen then that is the most important thing. Not codecs, limitations, bit rates etc…all those are very important but the most important thing by far for them is how it actually looks and it passed with flying colours. That is what they really care about.”
He was referring to George Lucas and his crew… Definitely a read you shouldn’t miss!!!

Some jokes, a little too stingy (in my opinion) were made about RED and Jim Jannard…
Competition is always a good thing and usually leads to better products for us, the consumer.
RED is still very much in the run, as far as I’m concerned! The price of the 1D MKIV, puts it right next to the Scarlet and we are still waiting to see its low light capabilities… because in every other aspect, the Scarlet sounds like it is ahead as a motion picture camera… the one who laughs last, (usually) laughs best… so if it was me, I would be a little bit more conservative…

It was then time to dim the lights down, not to show another clip this time, but to show live, how well the 1D MKIV does in low light. And this is, in my opinion, where these cameras really change the game!
Yeah, the starting price point is a big difference, when compared to its ambiguous competitors (and I say ambiguous because it’s hard to define which cameras compete with HDSLRs; picture wise and price wise).
As you’ve all come to learn, when adding all the necessary accessories to turn these babies into real, uncompromising film making machines, final price doesn’t make for the strongest reason to choose the HDSLR route! But the low light performance could be the reason you choose this route, even if it were way more expensive! Many factors can support such choice but the strongest are definitely Production Cost! Versatility! and Look! There’s nothing like natural light! God made it! So if you don’t agree, I’m not getting involved in that argument… it’s between you and Him!

It was quite incredible to see the 1D MKIV literally seeing more then my own eyes were able to penetrate into the darkness! With a sustainable level of noise live picture was being displayed on the big screen in front of us, which was the only light source present. Kind of weird having a camera lighting it’s own scene?! But very cool and very impressive, nonetheless.

Some more clips were shown, but after viewing the killer showreel in the beginning, it was quite hard to top it. Maybe they should have left it to the end…

The next very cool intervention was looking into the production of a feature film shot with three 7Ds. One of  the directors of Sons of Anarchy (sorry, couldn’t find his name on my notes and I tried to research his name on the web but had no success) and his producer showed footage both of the film and making of. What was really surprising and exciting was to hear the director, an assumed “film guy”, comparing the 7Ds favorably to the Genesis, which he said he “had”  to use to shoot SOA… WOW! Did you guys hear that?! He described the footage of the Genesis always having a “hint of excuse” for not being what it is! Something he did not feel with the 7D. Admitting the 7D experience to have made him a convert!

The scary thing about this whole story is that they shot a whole feature in 10 days!!!
I sure hope my producer does not hear this…
I’m sure curious to see this film now, because if there’s anything I have learned in my experience , is that nothing is more precious then having time, when it comes to make a film! I easily give up crew, equipment and what not, in trade of time! Coming from a TV background sounds like this director might be right at home working at that speed… I’m very curious to see the result, though…

It was then time for lunch. Lunch! Half an hour to check out the expo floor, eat something and dive into the DSLR Track workshops, organized by the people that brought us the Collision Conference.
These workshops are a great way for people who are just getting into producing motion picture with HDSLRs. The first session showed the workflow from acquisition to delivery on web. The second workshop focused on capturing sound with HDSLRs and sound synching with Plural Eyes.

What was pretty cool is that Jeremy Thomas, the tutor, brought in one of his actors and shot a monologue right in front of the whole class and then showed step by step how the whole process goes, from ingestion, transcoding, importing to FCP and synching with Plural Eyes. Definitely an exciting, explicit and very effective way to teach, that the crowd reacted really well to!

The technology under Plural Eyes hood is pretty impressive and feels like there’s plenty of room for expansion in the next versions. With smart coding this little nifty and affordable application ($150) is going to find its way into many workstations around the world. I might do a little review on it, if I end up using it for my film.

In between workshops I had a chance to dig in a little into the expo floor.

I have to admit that since the advent of HDSLRs, I just don’t have the motivation to go and check out more traditional cameras in depth.

But with that said, there were some pretty tiny cameras that caught my attention…

These cameras are definitely cute! Haha! But I just can’t take them that seriously, since I’ve become an HDSLR owner. Of course they still have their place, but the only reason that could make me use one of these again, would pretty much be the auto-focus, for shoots where I can’t live without it…

If you’re having trouble figuring out their size, just look at the tripod plate and that should give you a better idea… definitely desirable in size… which makes them really cute! Yeah, I know… I’m a geek…

The previous camera based on 3 CMOS is offered by Panasonic and the JVC uses 3 CCDs. Pretty cool for a pro looking camera that be hidden under your jacket.

There were of course a ton of other interesting things to see, but the half hours in between workshops, were quite limiting for my browsing time.
Canon’s booth was really overcrowded, so I ended up avoiding it… it was probably a good thing I didn’t go and flirt with the 1D MKIV anyway…
The prototype of the MPG-2 codec HD Camera didn’t seem to attract remotely the attention the EOS line was…

Once a forbidden object of desire, this $3000 fisheye made by Century Optics, pales when comparing to the capabilities of my $550 ebay acquisition of a 12-24mm Sigma Aspherical Zoom ($1200 list price)…

With the day coming to an end, it was time to hit the Zeiss booth to see if I could find out more about the new Zeiss Lens!

Zeiss is the only lens provider taking the HDSLR for filmmakers seriously. Since the introduction of the Planar series with EOS mount, they have set them selves apart, offering high quality lenses at an affordable price (50mm 1.4 – $700) with a useable focus ring for manual focusing, allowing close to 300 degrees of rotation (vs. the mere 15-20 degrees most still lenses offer). And they are stepping up to the plate again by announcing a new line of cinema grade lenses, finally offering a no compromise solution for filmmakers on HDSLRs.

Zeiss had to rethink the design of the Compact Primes, in order to make it work with EOS cameras. The mount now lives inside the bottom part of the lens. A solution that enabled Compact Primes to cover even the giant sensor of the 5D without compromising picture quality. Another great feature is that any time you can still change to a PL mount, making these lenses and absolute dream on any filmmaker’s wish list!
With a set of 3 primes costing under $10.000 the face of independent filmmaking is definitely changing! How many films spend as much on camera rentals?!

So despite the economical crises we are living, these couldn’t be much more exciting times for the independent filmmaker! Shame that Nikon and RED seem to be sleeping over the mater, while we wait to see what they are going to offer us… Canon could easily leave the competition behind if they come through with a highly desirable  RAW HD EOS, that can finally take advantage full advantage of their wonderful sensors.

Many factors are in the game, though. RED also has a full frame Scarlet in their road map. If they were to take their laid back attitude less seriously and actually give us a product instead of a few more promises and delays, Canon would still have to come up with a robust enough codec to be able to face RED’s CineRAW powerhouse capabilities… The HDSLR season is on! We’re just waiting to see the outcome of the playoffs…

T ; )~


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2 Responses to “Createasphere – Entertainment Technology”

  1. Redraven coverage of VDSLR Track at Entertainment Technology Expo : Photocine News says:

    […] friend Tito da Costa has a nice write up on his blog about the VDSLR Track at the Createasphere Entertainment Technology Expo including the breakfast […]

  2. Zoom H4N Audio for DSLR Workshop March 5th | Samy's EDU Blog says:

    […] a review from the last time Jeremy taught a class like this from the RadRaven blog (original photo links broken) What was pretty cool is that Jeremy Thomas, the tutor, brought in one […]

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