A “small act” recorded on a small camera is getting big response.
“A Small Act,” which premiered at Sundance, tells the story of a poor Kenyan boy whose life is changed when a Swedish donor pays for his education. The boy, Chris Mburu, is now a Harvard-educated lawyer specializing in human rights.
Shot in the town of Västerås, Sweden; in Geneva, Switzerland; and in the lush landscape of Kenya’s central highlands with Panasonic’s AG-HVX200 P2 HD handheld camcorder, A Small Act will air on HBO this summer. The on-location production team for A Small Act consisted of director/producer Jennifer Arnold and director of photography/producer Patti Lee, who subsequently shot the BET television series Somebodies with AJ-HPX3000 P2 HD camcorders.
“A Small Act” was directed by Jennifer Arnold and produced by Arnold and Patti Lee, who also served at the director of photography.
SkyTV has put out specs for 3D program content, and it’s definitely daunting. Minimum 100mbps recording, which will require some expensive equipment.
3D, as we already knew, is not for the faint of heart. But does it really make the content that much better?
BSkyB 3D technical specification for PlanoStereocopic (3D) program content
The prime objectives of the requirements detailed are to deliver content of both a high technical a quality and of high production values.
On 15 February 2010, Sky informed broadcasters of proposals in relation to technical requirements for 3D. Some of the detail of those proposals are set out below, though the technical requirements are subject to change. Broadcasters are encouraged to review the 3D Guidelines and to not solely rely upon what is set out below.
3D High Definition necessitates the highest quality to be captured at the point of creation and initial storage together with the minimising of recode or transcode processes within the production chain that have the potential to degrade the content when delivered to the end user in HD via the BSkyB transmission facilities.
The technical criteria for 3D content acquisition and storage are detailed and differ in some elements from the basic needs for HD categorisation (See Sky Technical Specifications for HD Commissioned Programmes for fuller details). This is due to the additional image processing necessary to deliver the dual images within the existing 1080i25 transmission format. Audio requirements remain unchanged.
To enable the 3D program to retain the highest quality throughout, a minimum of 90% must be native 3D footage. Where non HD footage is utilised, it should sit within the editorial context of the program. The 2D originated footage must be HD, not exceed 10% of the total program, be of segments not exceeding 1 minute, converted by in a suitable manner to fit the true 3D content and be of shots where there is minimal benefit from a true dual camera 3D acquisition.
For the avoidance of doubt:
- Conversions of 2D, HD content to 3D is not acceptable and may only be proposed by prior agreement with understanding of the editorial techniques and conversion process involved. Automated systems may not be utilized at this time.
These guidelines are for the final Program content being displayed on screen sizes in the range of 46″ to 70″:
- Main subject point should nominally be the screen focus point or convergence point of the two images
- Positive disparity or image separation at distant points (into the screen) should not exceed 2% for majority of shots
- Negative disparity Image separation at close points (Out of Screen) should be used with care and not nominally exceed 1% for shots. Care should be taken for images breaking the frame edges with floating windows utilized where appropriate
These are guidelines that aim to deliver managed and comfortable stereoscopic viewing. As such these limits can be exceeded for specific editorial needs, (Such as Graphic Content or Short Term visual impact), managed appropriately and in line with 3D production practice.
- Such instances should be constrained to 4% Positive (Into Screen) and 2.5% Negative (Out of Screen)
Graphics within vision should be aligned to the base content – there should be no differential exceeding 2% from the main viewpoint and main graphic image (ancillary graphic imagery may be greater).
Image separations and convergence should be aligned as detailed above.
Post Production techniques and technologies should maintain the highest quality and where the native acquisition format is not able to be utilised, the lowest possible compression ratio (Highest possible bit rate) available by the post productions hardware’s individual codec should be used.
Dual Video Stream Post production tools designed for discrete Stereoscopic image processing should be utilised for finalizing and conform of stereoscopic images.
Image streams should be managed in a discrete manner throughout to maintain the quality threshold.
Where delivered content is 3D encoded (Multiplexed) to the BSkyB required format, requires only simple editorial cuts and can be manipulated in it’s native format (with no codec change), then non linear post tools may be used with prior agreement.
Stereoscopic Image Encoding (Image Multiplexing)
This is the Broadcast Transmission Method of 3D Image Multiplexing.
Transmission finalised programming may be encoded in this method for direct playout.
- The Stereoscopic encode format is Side by Side compressed within a 1080i25 frame
- BSkyB utilises Linear or Horozontal Line based encoding (Not Quincunx based)
- As detailed in HDMI 1.4 Annex H – 3D Video Format Extensions (3D_structure = 1000, 3D_Ext_data = 0000)
Acceptable formats for content acquisition are in each case.
Content acquisition where electronic should be by identical camera pairs utilizing a three ½” (or greater) sensor array and:
- with a native resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels and at a frame rate of 25 Frames interlaced with 50 fields or
- with a native resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels and at a frame rate of 25 Frames Progressive or
Record format should be at a bit rate no less than 100Mbit/s 4:2:2 for acquisition.
“Freakonomics,” the documentary based on the mega-selling book by the same title, premieres at Tribeca in April, and it’s notable in that it combines the talents of some top documentary filmmakers.
The film, according to Bloomberg.com,
is a compilation of five vignettes made by prominent documentary filmmakers — Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side”), Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”), Eugene Jarecki (“Why We Fight”), Seth Gordon (“The King of Kong”) and Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (“Jesus Camp”).
“Freakonomics” the book, examines economic theory through a variety of story lines, some controversial. While chapters including examining cheating through a look at Sumo wrestlers and mind control through a look at the organization called the Ku Klux Klan, the most controversial is the finding by the authors, University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner, that legalized abortion in the 1970s was a contributor to a significant drop in the crime rate 20 years later.
Also notable is that the film was produced by Chad Troutwine, no stranger to the ‘omnibus”-style film. He produced “Paris je t’aime,” a feature film made up of 18 short films by noted directors such as Gus Van Sant, The Coen Brothers, Wes Craven and Alexander Payne.
Will omnibus films catch on? Can independent documentary filmmakers combine talents to create a larger work on a specific subject? There may be some longer-term effects on documentary filmmaking if “Freakonomics” proves a success.
We seem in the midst of real change on the technology front, and a whole new wave of videographers are coming forward with DSLR kits.
One, Patrick Perrotto, has a detailed list of his kit. His site lists him as a
“freelance video production specialist. His main area of expertise is as a camera operator and video director of photography. He has experience shooting and lighting both high definition and standard definition programs, and is equally at home on location and in studio settings. He regularly shoots for television, documentary, and corporate videos. His typical projects include, reality TV, Cinema Verité documentaries, interviews, action and sports programs, musical performances and music videos, fashion video, and product spots and commercials.”
Here’s what he lists:
- Canon EOS 7D camera body
- 3 x Batteries
- 1 x Charger
- 4 x 16gig CF cards
- 24-70mm f/2.8L lens
- 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens
- Miller Solo DV Tripod with DS10 head
- Redrock Micro support system (tripod baseplate, rods, shoulder mount
- Redrock Micro follow focus and gears
- Genus 4×4 matt box with french flag, ND and polarizing filters.
- Marshall 7″ LCD monitor with cables and batteries
- Zoom H4N audio recorder
- Sony MDR 7506 Headphones
- 3 x 2gig SD cards
- Sennheiser ME66 shotgun mic with boom
- 2 x Sennheiser Evolution wireless lavaliere systems with Tram TR-50 capsules
- 1 x hardwired power supply for TR-50
- XLR cables
- SD and CF Card Reader
He notes in his Twitter stream: Debating with myself. To sell or not to sell old photography and video equipment on eBay? It would seem that a lot of lower-budgeted shooters are asking the same question.
Planet 5D did a performance test of the new Canon T2i, which drops the price on a 1080p DSLR to around $800, aboyt half the EOS 7D. While the T2i makes compromises, such as losing the top LCD and having a smaller viewing LCD, the question here is of video performance.
Everything from ISO 100 Through ISO 800 looked clean and held up well. ISO 1600 started to break down, ISO 3200 was hot pixel city. It is also worth noting that we bumped up all the footage to Apple Pro Res and it showed very similar results as directly from the camera. The noise in Pro Res was much worse at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200.
So, within limits the T2i can capture excellent footage. For filmmakers on a budget, that’s worth knowing.
The fact that DSLRs can produce high-quality footage at such low prices makes us believe that a true camcorder with either Full-frame of APS-C sensors are just around the corner. The T2i/550D is pushing the price point for quality lower. Nikon, where are you?
Macvideo is running a series on Bill Warner, the founder of Avid, whose product changed the face of film editing.
According to the site, the first piece,
Bill explains the frustration he felt at the linear editing process in a tape-based world and how he, turned this frustration to find a solution to the problem. As a result the world of editing has never been the same. Where once tape-based suites and film cutting rooms dominated, now the electronic non-linear way has become the accepted process.
Here’s a piece as well from a couple of years ago in which Warner writes about “How a dirt farmer made me an entrepreneur.”
The 3D craze seems to have stunning possibilities for some types of films and little or none for others, but the concert documentary, a time-honored form that is all about sensory overload, would seem ripe for the treatment.
“Phish 3d” opens April 20 in 9 cities, not the least of which is their hometown of Burlington, Vermont, where the show will be screened at the Majestic Theater. Wider release comes April 30. According to HitFlix.com,
The concert documentary takes footage from the band’s stint at Festival 8, live from Indio, Calif., last October. That would be the same weekend that the jam band covered the Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street” start to finish.
Here’s some 2D footage: