Amid all the craziness about DSLRs and shallow depth of field, it’s important to remember that the budget-minded documentary filmmaker can pick up some real deals by going against the grain and picking up a Mini-DV-tape-based camcorder. They’re selling on Amazon for $750 new. Five years ago, this technology would have cost you four to five times that.
The HV40, in our opinion, is a gem. Real 24p, great color, and with a Beachtek adapter, able to do a lot. HV40 users who gain “higher powers” by learning the “cell-phone trick” can control gain and depth-of-field.
Here’s a video plucked off Vimeo to make a simple point:
Schneider uses the word to describe the process not of “revisions,” but of new versions. McGuire says,
An iterative approach to editing allows one to re-order scenes and experiment with different openings and various endings. Luck comes into play, serendipity, when you try butting two shots together that yields an unexpectedly exciting result. The word also connotes the possibility that sheer chance plays a role. Sometimes whole scenes can be re-ordered easily, more often than not a new order requires multiple small tweaks – like when a variable change in a spreadsheet has an unforeseen cascading effect that completely alters the filmmaker’s perception of the material.
McGuire notes that,
Editing is the only aspect of filmmaking that has no similarity to earlier art forms. Writing a screenplay is similar to writing a play. Directing on a set is comparable to directing for the stage. Editing a film, and in this case, editing a documentary, isn’t like anything else that ever came before in human history. In a sense you are writing, or creating a narrative, a story, but from images and sounds of real events. You can cut a scene many different ways, and get a completely different effect. But the individual scenes serve a larger narrative that must have coherence. It needs to be more than the sum of its parts. It is also a temporal experience, like music, but with images, like a mosaic that you view one tile at a time. When it is over, you stand back, and see the entire picture as a thing, in your memory.
The final thought is simple, but true especially of skills such as editing: “Whatever your personality as an editor, success will probably come down to what it has always come down to – what carpenters call ‘time on tools’.”
An article in Miller-McCune magazine about the documentary “Bag It,” which tells us what happens to all those plastic bags we either throw away or recycle, has a curious passage worth considering by documentary filmmakers.
Michael Todd writes of Suzan Beraza’s documentary,
Bag It suffers a malady shared by so many well-meaning documentaries — a mission creep that requires just one more fact on top of the heap already making your brain hurt.
Todd continues by praising the light touch the film takes, and notes its audience-choice awards in several Midwestern film festivals. But he also notes there are some good books on the topic as well.
It strikes us that many people are taking the documentary route instead of doing books these days, and really understanding what each offers in strengths is worthwhile. Fact-laden documentaries can suffocate themselves. Books, conversely, can effectively load in all manner of detail but miss the emotion. A magazine article can effectively detail more facts than Morgan Spurlock was able to list in “Supersize Me,” but print can’t quite capture the surreal moment when Spurlock, loaded up with another McDonald’s lunch, vomits out his car window onto the parking lot.
Todd is right – you can have too many facts. Often that seems a function of documentarians wanting to be seen as experts; sometimes it’s that they become so in love with their topic they’re like a dinner guest going on and on about some arcane interest. Balancing facts with action, emotion and story line is what makes for a good documentary.
Harry Shearer is another celebrity making a Katrina documentary, but he’s someone who has done more serious and related work leading up to it, such as a public-radio show in Atlanta. And Shearer, who began as a comedian, took the tack in his film to avoid politicians and interview scientists. Creative Loafing Atlanta has a piece on the man who did the edit on “The Big Uneasy,” Tom Roche.
And it sounds as if Roche was an editor who had nearly complete control of how the film, at 94 minutes, laid out.
As an Atlantan who loves New Orleans I knew a fair amount about the Katrina tragedy, but Harry, he’d been there and knew volumes. So after we shot 25 hours of interviews, it fell to me to do the big cut. I asked Harry what if I sit in the edit suite alone for a few weeks and take this hugely complex story and I simply explain it to me. Then I took that 2.5 hr cut to him and we began trimming and cutting any and all redundancies till we got to 90 mins. Well 94.
Roche has worked on “This is Spinal Tap” and other films, noted that not only is music part of the fabric of New Orleans, but has to be in the fabric of a film.
Music is very important in The Big Uneasy. Note that to tell the story Harry interviewed zero politicians, zero gadflies, just doctors and scientists and engineers. Just the facts ma’am as Sgt. Joe Friday would say. So that can get a little dry unless you get creative, and music helps with both momentum, and applying the brakes too. Now that I have lived there, right in the French Quarter, for 5 months, I really get it. I get the river. Get how the river flows and the music flows and the party flows and the people’s psyche flows. It’s gentle and powerful at the same time and tricky to explain. I had on WWOZ all the time. This New Orleans FM station I came to realize, is one of the most fun and diverse and interesting sources of music in the world. In the world. Then almost every night Harry would have some recommended band and after awhile I had discovered stuff on my own to turn him onto. Then even after the gigs we’d stay up late and edit. A movie doesn’t just happen. It was a ton of work.
The Nikon D3100 is out, with 1080p, but the shortcomings of the camera are bringing about disappointment for Nikon fans hoping for their company to catch up with Canon.
Nikon has yet to introduce a 1080p camera with a full-frame sensor. The D3100 apparently has no audio input jack. The codec is questionable. And while the D3100 has a low price point, the sensor is 14 megapixels.
DPReview says the D3100’s screen is a “slight disappointment,” with lower resolution than hoped for.
EOSHD notes that the camera does not seem to be able to go fully manual for shooting video.
After the disappointment of Sony’s new DSLRs, the A55 and A580, this is not really what we need. According to HDSLR shooter Nino Leitner, Nikon’s German press office have said that the D3100 will not have the option for manual controls in video mode.
The general stance of Japanese DSLR manufacturers seems to be that customer research has told them their cameras need to be easy to use. At least the entry to mid-range consumer DSLRs.
We have held consultations with Nikon’s press agency and wanted to know if the Nikon D3100 has fully manual video features: the unfortunately does not seem to be the case.
TOKYO, August 24, 2010—Canon Inc. announced today that it has successfully developed an APS-H-size*1 CMOS image sensor that delivers an image resolution of approximately 120 megapixels (13,280 x 9,184 pixels), the world’s highest level*2 of resolution for its size.
Compared with Canon’s highest-resolution commercial CMOS sensor of the same size, comprising approximately 16.1 million pixels, the newly developed sensor features a pixel count that, at approximately 120 million pixels, is nearly 7.5 times larger and offers a 2.4-fold improvement in resolution.*3
With CMOS sensors, while high-speed readout for high pixel counts is achieved through parallel processing, an increase in parallel-processing signal counts can result in such problems as signal delays and minor deviations in timing. By modifying the method employed to control the readout circuit timing, Canon successfully achieved the high-speed readout of sensor signals. As a result, the new CMOS sensor makes possible a maximum output speed of approximately 9.5 frames per second, supporting the continuous shooting of ultra-high-resolution images.
Canon’s newly developed CMOS sensor also incorporates a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) video output capability. The sensor can output Full HD video from any approximately one-sixtieth-sized section of its total surface area.
Images captured with Canon’s newly developed approximately 120-megapixel CMOS image sensor, even when cropped or digitally magnified, maintain higher levels of definition and clarity than ever before. Additionally, the sensor enables image confirmation across a wide image area, with Full HD video viewing of a select portion of the overall frame.
Through the further development of CMOS image sensors, Canon will break new ground in the world of image expression, targeting new still images that largely surpass those made possible with film, and video movies that capitalize on the unique merits of SLR cameras, namely their high mobility and the expressive power offered through interchangeable lenses.
|*1||The imaging area of the newly developed sensor measures approx. 29.2 x 20.2 mm.|
|*2||As of August 20, 2010. Based on a Canon study.|
|*3||Canon’s highest-resolution commercial CMOS sensor, employed in the company’s EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR cameras, is equivalent to the full-frame size of the 35 mm film format and incorporates approximately 21.1 million pixels. In 2007, the company successfully developed an APS-H-size sensor with approximately 50 million pixels.|
NPR has a blog piece on “News21,” the Knight Foundation initiative that funds eight “incubator” university programs in multimedia journalism.
And if you didn’t think that there’s a bit of a revolution going on, look at the video “Spilling Over,” from students at the University of North Carolina, to see how lower-cost equipment and laptop editing has created the ability to do very good work.
Such effects as shallow depth of field and rich color were, only a few years ago, what separated the pros from the wannabes – not necessarily because the pros had superlative talent, but rather because they had equipment that could do that stuff was prohibitively expensive.
Now, the equipment allows everyone to be in the game, and to be less concerned about technical stuff and more about subject.
According to NPR,
Their documentary takes viewers deep into the heart of a community, showing how the national disaster has deeply affected people on a local level. Kindra Arnesen and her husband, David, are presented grappling with a decision about sending their children away from Venice to escape possible health risks from the spill. The scene is played out on a split screen as they talk on the phone, and the emotional impact of the moment is punctuated when Kindra and the kids leave David behind to work for BP cleaning up the oil.
“The biggest thing I learned was not just how to be a photographer or a videographer on a story, but how to be a reporter,” said producer Lauren Frohne. “We were worried that some people would end up pushing us away. But for the most part, because of the rapport we built with people, a lot of them were OK with it, and that was a new experience for all of us.”
Sony has joined the DSLR arms race with the A560, a sub-$1,000 camera that shoots 1080p on a 14.2m Exmor sensor, and the A580, with a 16.2m sensor for about $200 more.
|Sensor||• 23.4 x 15.6 mm APS-C Type CMOS Exmor Sensor
• RGB Color Filter Array
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter
• 16.7 million total pixels
• 16.2 million effective pixels
|• 23.4 x 15.6 mm APS-C Type CMOS Exmor Sensor
• RGB Color Filter Array
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter
• 14.6 million total pixels
• 14.2 million effective pixels
• 4912 x 3264 (L)
• 3568 x 2368 (M)
• 2448×1624 (S)
• 4592 x 2576 (L)
• 3344 x 1872 (M)
• 2288 x 1280 (S)
• 4592 x 3056 (L)
• 3344 x 2224 (M)
• 2288 x 1520 (S)
• 4592 x 2576 (L)
• 3344 x 1872 (M)
• 2288 x 1280 (S)
|Image sizes (Video)||• AVCHD:
• 1920 x 1080, 59.94i (from 29.97fps sensor output)
• Motion JPEG:
• 1440 x 1080, 29.97p or 25p, depending on region
• 640 x 480, 29.94 fps
|File qualities / formats||• RAW (.ARW)
• RAW + JPEG Fine
• RAW + JPEG Standard
• JPEG Fine
• JPEG Standard
|File formats (Movie)||• AVCHD
• QuickTime Motion JPEG
|Dust reduction||• Charge protection coating on low-pass filter
• Sensor-shift dust reduction mechanism
|Lenses||• Sony Alpha lenses
(also compatible with Minolta and Konica Minolta AF lenses)
|SteadyShot INSIDE||• CMOS -Shift ‘SteadyShot INSIDE’ system|
|Auto Focus||• TTL 15-point phase detection AF system with 3 cross sensors (11-point with optical viewfinder)|
|Focus Modes||• Single-shot AF
• Automatic AF
• Continuous AF
|• Yes (using built in flash)|
|Shooting modes||• Programmed AE (Auto, Flash off, P)
• Aperture priority AE
• Shutter priority AE
• Scene Selection
|Sensitivity||• ISO 100 – 12800
• Extended: ISO 25600 in Multi-Frame NR Mode
|Metering modes||• Multi-segment
|Metering||• Live View : 1200-zone evaluative
• Viewfinder : 40-segment honeycomb pattern
|Exposure compen.||• -2.0 to +2.0 EV
• 0.3 EV steps
|Shutter||Electronically-controlled, vertical-traverse, focal-plane Shutter|
|Shutter Speed||• 30 to 1/4000 sec
|Aperture values||Depends on lens, 0.3 EV steps|
|White balance||• Auto
• Color temperature/filter (2500 – 9900 K)
• Manual (Custom)
|White balance fine tuning||Yes|
|White balance bracketing||• 3 exposures
• Hi / Lo level selectable
|Color space||• sRGB
• Adobe RGB
|Color modes||• Standard
|Viewfinder||• Eye-level fixed optical glass pentamirror
• Spherical Acute Matte focusing screen
• Magnification approx. 0.80x
• 95% frame coverage
|Live view||Quick AF Live View (pentamirror tilt system)|
|Focus Check Live View||• Focus system TTL phase detection system
• Contrast AF selectable
• Display Real-time image adjustment display (reflects exposure compensation, white balance, Sunset / B&W of Creative Style )
|LCD monitor||• 3.0 TFT Xtra Fine LCD
• 921,600 dots
|Flash||• Built-in pop-up flash (manual release)
• Metering: ADI, Pre-flash TTL, Manual flash control
• Guide number 12 (ISO 100/m)
• Angle of coverage 18 mm (35 mm equiv.)
• Flash sync 1/160 sec
|Flash modes||• Off
• Fill Flash
• Rear Sync
• Slow sync
• Wireless/High Speed Sync.
|Flash Bracketing||3 exposures in 0.3 and 0.7 EV steps|
|Flash compensation||-2.0 to +2.0 EV in 0.3 EV steps|
|• Up to 7 fps in Speed Priority mode (AF/AE fixed at first frame)
• Up to 5 fps with optical viewfinder
• Up to 3 fps in Quick AF Live View mode
|Self-timer||• 10 sec
• 2 sec
|Connectivity||• USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
• HDMI mini connector (Type C),
• Remote terminal
|Storage||• SD/ SDHC/ SDXC
• Memory Stick Pro Duo / Pro HG Duo
• Supports FAT12 / FAT16 / FAT32
|Dimensions||137 x 104 x 84 mm (5.5 x 4.2 x 3.9 in)|
|Weight (body)||No battery: 599 g (1.5lb)|