I had a power cord for a video light begin to spark, and rather than buy a replacement, I went to see if I could get it fixed. I went down to Newport RI, where there’s a little shop by the movie theater – “Small Repairs/Lamps/Clocks/Appliances.” I thought this guy could fix it fairly easily. But he never seemed to be there. I was looking through the window and a woman walking up the street said, “Is he ever open?”
I crossed the street to another small shop and asked the proprieter.
“Oh, him? He’s been dead for two years. Nobody ever really cleaned out the shop.”
Blogs can be like that – you leave and everything stays like that shop window, filled with unclaimed items.
I won’t be blogging for the time being – working on my own film, which I hope to complete by summer, plus fiction writing to follow the excellent reception of my most recent novel. But I hope the site is of some use as a repository of information I gathered doing it. Happy 2013!
The HDSLR revolution will be fondly remembered some day as the tool of new filmmakers, much like the old Bolex 16mm film cameras were a staple of film school. The EOS 5D Mark II introduced the big sensor to video, with all its attendant “film-like” qualities of shallow depth-of-field. It was only a matter of time before those sensors were put in big camcorders. Sony, Canon and even newcomers like BlackMagic have rolled out their big-sensor cameras, but at a price point multiples beyond HDSLRs.. The next effort, it seems, is now narrowing the gap in price.
Sony’s NEX-EA50 goes a long way toward that end. The $4,500 camcorder actually beats the price of a Canon EOS 5D Mark III if you consider it comes with a 18-200 zoom, and doesn’t require HDSLR add-ons such as separate audio recorder and microphone, ND filters to control light outdoors, and more-typical controls that doesn’t require add-in firmware such as Magic Lantern. The Mark III has a full-frame sensor, but the NEX’s APS-C sensor is ballpark with EOS 7Ds and T4i’s, as well as the Nikon line.
This is likely the early stages of a return of video shooting to a more ergonomic (or at least familiar) mode, and will begin to phase out the odd artifact of the middle phase of development, namely the super-tricked-out DSLR, using such high-priced aftermarket gear as produced by Zacuto, Cinevate and other small suppliers.
In some respects, the love affair with the large sensor has created to narrow a “look” as everyone overcompensated for the aesthetic older small-sensor camcorders couldn’t provide, and I wonder of filmmakers will build back out of it. I can imagine certain filmmakers using a larger-sensor camera such as the EA50 for interviews and detail shots, while having a nearly identical-looking smaller-sensor camcorder such as Sony’s PMW-EX3 for fast moving action that requires deeper focus.
The specs for the EA50 include full HD and 24p, something some lower-priced efforts such as the NEX VG10 lacked. It’s another example of how filmmaking is becoming an ever-more democratic art, not as limited to the trust-funded or the credit-card-maxed.
The Luthier – Janos Markus-Barbarossa from Matei Plesa on Vimeo.
Philip Bloom has a good post about what it takes to do the work, and I especially liked the lower end of the list:
10: An expensive camera won’t make you a better cameraman. It will make you more broke! Want to upgrade your T2i to a Scarlet? Why? Skills are learnt with lesser tools. Not expensive ones.
11: Learn how to do EVERYTHING. Learn how to produce, to direct, to edit, to shoot, to do graphics etc . Why? It gives you a greater appreciation of what everyone does. Don’t do it all, but knowing what is needed to do a certain job will make what you do better.
12: If you really have no talent at all yet still enjoy shooting for fun, keep at it. Eventually you will get better, and if it makes YOU happy who gives a crap what the critics say?
13: Gear…do you need it to make yourself better? Of course not. It may lift your production but it won’t make the content any better. Remember if you polish a turd it will still always be a turd. Concentrate on content, that is where the value is. Then if you have some extra cash go buy some nice toys!
It really is about the notio of mastery, of doing the repetitions, again and again, and finding the joy in it.
When Editshare rolled out its new editing program Lightworks last month in both a free version and a $60 “Pro” version, it entered a market that has changed dramatically in the last few years. FCPX came out at $299, a fifth of the price of FCP7, and the downward price drive is good for everybody.
In the weeks since Lightworks V11 was made available for download, following a beta version that’s been out there for a year, the product has earned its share of likers and dislikers — this thread on the Sony Vegas site is a slice of how people are feeling — but a company spokesman says he’s pleased by the response so far.
“Thousands of people have activated the product in the first week alone,” said David Shapton, the managing editor of Lightworks Publications. “The figures are building very well, and this will increase over the coming weeks, but we still feel we’re only scratching the surface.” Lightworks is only available at the moment for PC, but comes at a time when there’s still discomfort among longtime Final Cut Pro users, many of whom were underwhelmed by the features of Final Cut Pro X.
Add now there is talk that Apple could discontinue production of its Mac Pro towers, which MacRumors notes has been decreasing in popularity. “There’s been a rift in the status quo,” Shapton said. “People have received a bit of a jolt. Where they otherwise might not have been looking for another solution, now they are.”
Lightworks, which had begun its life in the 1990s as a high-end — and high-cost — editing tool, is now attempting to become the tool of the masses, competing with programs that are also dropping in price. Lightworks has been working to promote its pedigree, history and quality, hoping it will gain a solid base of users who opt for the Pro version.
“We don’t want to make a big splash where a million people download it, but then the next day, 99 percent of them have forgotten about it,” Shapton said. “We’re not so interested in huge numbers, we’re interested in realistic numbers. We want to build up our user base. We’re on a par already with the other big hitters in this industry. We want to be there in terms of how many people are actually using Lightworks.”
There are currently around 300,000 registered users, including beta testers, and Shapton says Lightworks is pleased with the proportion of users converting to the Pro Version. He’s optimistic about grabbing hold of the tier of users who have done some editing and are now “getting serious.”
“We think a lot of people are converting to Lightworks because they want to be part of the project, and support this idea of this professional software at a very, very low price,” Shapton said. “They like the way that we are led by the ideas and feedback from the community. What we have is a pyramid of users. The lower end, the largest group, are new, inexperienced users. But what gets really interesting is the next level up, still a large number, people who’ve done some editing but now they’re getting serious.”
For now, Editshare is monitoring the forums (where users are asking “genuinely illuminating questions”) and maintaining a list of bugs. And for editors locked into their Macs, Shapton says there’s good news on the horizon: “We are looking at releasing a Linux version later this year, but we’re not making any firm commitments on a date at this stage. The Mac version would follow after this.”
Has Apple’s shift to Final Cut Pro X last year, and the dissatisfaction of a legion of editors with it, created a market opening for PC-based nonlinear editing systems? PCs are demonstrably less expensive than Macs with the same computing power, and programs such as Premiere, Sony Vegas and Avid have already made their appeal to editors on a budget.
In about a week or so, on May 28, 2012, a new competitor enters the market. And at a price that’s hard to beat. Lightworks for Windows, which will have a free version and a $60 “Pro” version, will be released to great anticipation. Filmmaker Chris Jones noted, “Using it feels very logical, like editing film back in the day. Plus it has all the bells and whistles of many new digital tools. It is a professional tool, not a semi pro or domestic tool that has been dressed up. So expect to invest time in learning how to use it.
Lightworks is not new in itself. It began in 1989 as OLE, then went through a variety of owners before EditShare acquired it in 2009. Lightworks has been used to edit narrative films such as The King’s Speech and Hugo. EditShare’s plans to develop the product as open source did not materialize, but the beta was made free to download. It’s now been downloaded by 250,000 users.
The official release boasts support for AVCHD, H.264, AVC-Intra, ProRes, RED R3D, DPX, XDCam HD 50, XDCam EX, DVD and BluRay. Paired with a 64-bit PC, it creates a perfectly serviceable setup for nearly all the kinds of editing a documentary filmmaker would need. (One disappointment for Mac users is that while EditShare is working on a Mac version of Lightworks, there’s no definitive release in sight.) Features of the system are here
The Pro version will support the DNxHD codec and such features as file sharing, a titling system and stereoscopic editing for 3D filmmaking.
The Pro version also includes the codecs. Lightworks offers a $140 dedicated keyboard, but users can import their FCP or Avid preferences so they don’t have to re-learn their way around the workflow. While the comments out on the web from beta users are favorable, and the program seems to be quite fast on the latest generation of PCs, we’ll know more in the coming months. It seems unlikely anyone who is seriously going to use the program isn’t going to fork out the $60. It’s more than likely that the free download will serve as a proving ground for a lot of editors looking to see what it’s got.
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