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Back from the North

IMG_0552I’ve been back from my trip for about a week now.  I think this is the 5th year that I’ve gone on this particular trip, and this was by far the coldest.  There was significant snow on the ground for more than half of the days.  Needless to say, the conditions posed some difficulties for photography.  I may have more to say about this in a future post.  But, while I was away…

Canon 1D Mark IV Digital SLR

There has been considerable interest buzzing about a new camera that Canon has in the works.  This is the Canon 1D Mark IV.  Apparently Canon provided a prototype to Vincent Laforet about 3 weeks ago.   Vincent is the photographer who gained considerable notoriety for his video Reverie, which was the first to demonstrate the video capabilities of the 5D Mark II.  Vincent teamed up with Stu Maschwitz to produce a new video titled Nocturne in order to demonstrate the abilities of the 1D Mark IV.   I encourage you to check out both Vincent’s and Stu’s posts about the experience.  Curiously, Canon has since asked Vincent to temporarily remove the video from his website.  There must be some internal corporate politics at work.  He promises to have the full 1080p version of the video back up soon, but in the meantime, you can find a version still available on Stu’s site.

So, why is this Canon digital SLR of interest to student filmmakers?   In my opinion, there are a few reasons.  The first, and most obvious is that the 5d Mark II and this new 1D Mark IV provide capabilities for less than $4K that were previously inaccessible to many independent filmmakers.  This is full 1080p capture using a sensor that is a photographic 35mm in size (note that there has also been recent news that Canon will be releasing an upgraded firmware for the 5D in the new year that allows for 24p capture).  The second reason is that the sensitivity of the sensor in the 1D Mark IV is apparently much improved over the sensor in the 5D Mark II.  According to Vincent Laforet, the 1D is seeing much more than the human eye.    They apparently shot most of Nocturne on the 6400 ASA setting using only available light and there seems to be very little visible noise.  This marks a trend that I expect to see continue with the next generation of digital cinema cameras – much improved sensitivity.  Over at Red, Jim Jannard posted about this recently with respect to the Mysterium-X sensor – “I’m now shooting only ISO 800 and 2000 for testing. 800 is the new 320… only better”.  Note that Red is still promising an update by the end of the month concerning their new products for next year.

New Display Technologies

I had an opportunity to attend a meeting with a local company last week that really got me thinking.  I hope to be able to post more about this in a few weeks.  In the meantime, I would encourage you to investigate the Comcast Experience.    This is a giant video wall that has been integrated into the design of the front lobby of the Comcast Center in Philadelphia.  The technology that allows for affordable integration of video surfaces into architectural design is imminent.  It is conceivable that most of our new and refurbished public buildings will incorporate large video surfaces within 10 years.  If you are curious about this, look to the upcoming SEGD Dynamic Environments 3 conference for more information.   If you are currently a student, consider that all of these new video surfaces will require content.  Generating video content for public displays will likely be a huge area of growth in the next few years.

And, while architectural video displays represent developments on a ‘macro’ scale, there are also interesting things happening on more of a ‘micro’ scale.  Check out this article on production for a living magazine.  New technologies will soon make it possible to embed moving images inside magazines and newspapers.   For this reason, magazine publishers are now structuring their photo shoots to capture video, in addition to stills.  The shoot for Outside magazine that is profiled in this article, utilized both a Canon 5D Mark II and  Red.  You should also check out this article from the same blog.  Not only does it show how flexible the new OLED displays are, it also shows how handy they will be if you miss the nail you are hammering and score a direct hit on your cell phone.


Somehow, during the chaos of this year’s start-of-term, Avid released version 4 of Media Composer without any of us at the college noticing.  I think we were too busy at the time struggling with the update of Avid’s dongles and keys for version 3.5 of MC.  Anyway, there is an Avid meeting this Thursday that I may attend that will demonstrate new features of 4.0.

We have finally received all of the parts for the new Red One!  Much thanks to Nick at Sim Video for helping us out with some of this.  The camera has gone into immediate use in the Media Arts program.  Kudos to Michael Cherrington, Technologist in Media Arts, for getting things organized in a hurry so that the 3rd-year Media Arts projects can benefit from the Red.

I had a look through Arri’s September magazine.  They’ve profiled their new digital cinema cameras.  These cameras look very impressive, and it is difficult to argue with some of the technical comparisons with the competition that they provide.  At the same time, they have priced the new cameras to start at €50,000.  This effectively places them out of reach for student filmmakers and a significant percentage of indie films.


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