Wednesday 22 December 2010

Arri Alexa Avid workflow

I keep getting asked about the workflow for editing with Arri Alexa media. Here, people mostly refer to the Apple ProRes 4444 Quicktime movies that the Alexa shoots. In India, as far as I know, we don't (yet) have an Alexa equipped with a Arri RAW recorder, hence ProRes 4444 is, for the moment, Arri Alexa media.


Most people have queries about editing Alexa media on an Avid Media Composer. Particularly Media Composer v 5 which can 'soft import' files without creating Avid MXF or OMF media, just like how FCP imports media.
Older versions compulsorily import media so that's another story.


FCP can easily edit the native files. Or you can batch convert to ProRes LT or ProRes Proxy to save space. 


So, as I began putting down points, I turned to the 'net to check if anyone had reported issues in forums. There were some issues, but these will go away with more work with Alexa and as software improves. So no point taking them up at the present.


While reading up, I came across Oliver Peters very informative blog Digitalfilms. This outlines the process in detail with pictures.


Here is the link
http://digitalfilms.wordpress.com/category/arri-alexa/


You need to try out his procedure first hand on a Avid Media Composer v 5 system to understand the simplicity and elegance of its working. 


Also, if you're working on an Avid Media Composer on Windows, then maybe you need to get the Apple ProRes decoder for Windows.
http://support.apple.com/downloads/Apple_ProRes_QuickTime_Decoder_1_0_for_Windows
That's in case your QT Player on Windows can't open Alexa files. If it can, then don't bother with the plug-in.


Peters also has an explanation for working with Arri Alexa files in FCP. And a link to Nick Shaw's plug-in to make a quick and rough log to lin conversion of Arri LogC Quicktimes. This conversion is for preview purposes only. 


Unfortunately, Apple Color does not do log to lin for QT, only for DPX, else that would have been a great workflow too. 
But if you fiddle with the curves in the Primary room (of Apple Color) as well as, try auto balance you can get a neat looking linear image. You can even get carried away and believe you can grade your media yourself. In that case, get yourself a Tangent Wave or Euphonix grading panel, and a good experienced colourist, and who knows, you can do DI at home.


More on Alexa adventures as I lay my hand on some stuff to do myself.

Friday 26 November 2010

Sony F3 test movie

A team of film-makers shot with a pre-production Sony F3 camera. And the finished video is up at Vimeo here. Post production was done at Molinare in London. 


The camera shoots 35 Mbps MPEG-2 on SxS cards. There is a provision to output video  over HD-SDI along with recording to SxS cards. To enable recording to an HDCamSR VTR or a recorder like the Aja KiPro or KiPro mini that record to hard disk or CF card as Apple ProResHQ or ProRes QT movies. 


It may be interesting to learn how they handled the post for this test story. But the visuals in the final look stunning. Check it out. 

Thursday 25 November 2010

The new Sony PMW-F3



At a location in Mumbai recently I had occasion to see the new Sony PMW-F3 camera. This camera will be released later this year. And some features will be activated only early next year. So I'll write a detailed review only when I can lay my hands on one with a cinematographer present. 

But from the point of view of a film-maker, the highlights are...
  1. Small body, interchangeable lenses.
  2. Mounts for Sony lenses and PL mount lenses.
  3. Super35 size sensor for 'filmic' depth of field.
  4. Sony Exmor sensor for truer 'filmic' colours.
  5. Records to onboard SxS as XDCamEx, same format as EX1 and EX3.
  6. HD-SDI outputs so you can record to a KiPro, Convergent, or HDCamSR recorder.
  7. $16,000 body and $23,000 with 3 Sony PL lenses.
  8. Dual link output, and S-log shooting to be added next year.


Preliminary details are up at Sony's Pro site
Studio Daily has a report.

Will this camera threaten the Canon 5Ds and 7Ds? 
On price, no. On features, usability and quality, definitely.

Will it threaten Red?
Most likely yes because it has features to compare. But the Red is 4k at about the same price with a more convoluted post process.

Will it threaten Alexa?
Resolution wise it is similar to the Alexa. Quality wise, remains to be seen. Price, definitely better than Alexa.
 
 
But maybe the F3 is in a different league compared to Red and Alexa.

I think at $7000 or even less for F3 body only, with a comparable reduction in pricing of the EX1/EX3 and Sony will have a killer range that can sell some serious numbers. Else, if and when Canon improves the 5D's video issues with aliasing, and jello cam, the F3 will be threatened back.

Thursday 28 October 2010

What's the big deal about FCP?

A little birdie asked me quite recently. "Really, what is the big deal about FCP?" Especially now, with Avid growing in leaps with every new release. So I pondered...

What really is the big deal with FCP? Is there even a big deal in FCP? Sure, here is a bullet point list of the important features that make FCP score over Avid.

Some of these differences may not apply to the absolutely latest Avid ver 5.0. But for most Avid ABVB, Meridien, or even Adrenaline owners, ver 5 is a huge upgrade. So, for them, these still apply.

So,  in India, in 2010, the big deal about FCP is...

Huge format support
Apart from Beta/DigiBeta/DV, FCP can import and edit Red, Canon 5D/7D, XDCamEx, DVCProHD, JVC HDV, P2, NXCam, AVCCam, AVCHD and many more that Avids older than maybe 2009 cannot.

Smoke-Flame quality
FCP uses the same Aja Kona hardware that Smoke, Flame and even Lustre use, so the video quality of FCP is identical to Smoke, Flame and Lustre. No offline-online with FCP, both same same.

Compositing while editing
Any motion graphics kind of stuff - DVD moves, resize, skew, keyframed moves, crops, rotates etc - can be done while editing. Avid can't even rotate a frame.

Import without convert
FCP uses most file formats without creating new media. Avid needs to import everything and create new media.

Multi resolution
FCP has no project setting as such. You can happily mix HD, SD, PAL, 24, 25, NTSC, YouTube movies, MP3 files, CD audio, BWF audio, all in one project. Even place them in one timeline. Avid needs you to make a project of a fixed setting and prohibits you from importing anything of a different setting.

'24-25 thing' easy
In PAL-film land the '24-25 thing' comes back to bites you from time to time. FCP allows you to interchange from 24 to 25 in a flash - picture and sound.

HD without tax
All FCP systems after about 2004 can do HD. In fact almost all FCP capture cards can do HD from about 2006. So, FCP has HD without costly DNExcel cards, HD upgrades, MojoDX boxes that cost lakhs of Rupees for Avid owners.

Easier to use

For the novice, FCP is easier to use. And master.

Scalable over systems

FCP is the same whether on a laptop, an iMac or a desktop MacPro. All that changes is the hardware that's used for capture or monitoring. And that's optional.

XML interchange

FCP sequence information can be exported as XML which carries more info than EDLs do. Letting you carry over multi-track edits to other systems like Smoke, Quantel eQ and others. XML works great for subtitle work too.

Online review and approval with iChat
Edit and show your timeline to someone hundreds of kilometers away whilst still being able to make changes on the fly. With iChat sharing.

Easy speed change tools
Motion effects don't need to make new media. And ramps are easy drag and drop too.

Easier to keep upgraded
FCP has a software update about every year or so. And upgrades cost less that Rs 20,000 mostly. You don't need to buy costly annual maintenance plans to get upgrades. Most Macs support the next version for at least 3 years.
By that time, FCP has made you so much money you can afford a new Mac. Most likely, your cards will work with the new version.

Final Cut Studio
Final Cut Pro is only a part of a suite of products collectively called Final Cut Studio. All bundled with FCP. They are… Motion, Soundtrack Pro, Color, DVD Studio Pro, Compressor, Cinema Tools.

Advanced colour correction in Color
Colour correction that could only be done in million dollar DaVinci and other systems can now be achieved in Apple Color. A good colorist and a 'grading panel' can make this into a full-fledged grading suite.
Sequences can be sent to color and returned without any EDLs. Even DPX, and 4k is possible withinFCP and Color.

Motion graphics in Motion
Easily send your sequence or some clips to Motion and do complex match moves, stabilize, tracking, chroma keying and other advanced 'online' stuff.

Complex title graphics in Motion or LiveType

Amazing title work within Motion or LiveType with older Final Cut versions.

Sound design in Soundtrack Pro
Pro Tools like sound design work is possible within Soundtrack Pro. Even easy Dolby surround work. FCP and Soundtrack automatically synchronize timelines so change the edit in FCP and the sound work changes automatically. Great clean up and noise removal tools too

Royalty free sound samples

Final Cut Studio ships with Gigabytes of free sound. If you know how, you can compose an entire background music, or even song track for a long film too.

DVD/Blu-ray making directly
Make a DVD or Blu-Ray directly within FCP.

DVD authoring in DVD Studio Pro
For advanced authored DVDs with chapters, menus and sub-menus and stuff that's sold in shops, DVD Studio Pro lets you make them. And send them off to a duplicator to make thousands or lakhs.

Media database and film workflow with Cinema Tools
All the 24-25 stuff, telecine logs, cut lists pull lists. Even managing Red and Canon files, is done within Cinema Tools. Frame accurate, perf accurate.

Encoding to various formats with Compressor
After editing one almost always needs to send out stuff to the web - YouTube, Vimeo, H.264, Windows media and many other formats created automatically and in the background.

Disclaimer…
I have only 6 years experience editing on Avid systems on a daily basis. And the rest of the 10 years following, I worked mainly on FCP.

I don't use Avid as extensively as I used to, therefore, maybe newer versions of Avid have addressed some of the inequalities above, which I may not be abreast with.

But you know what? Most Avid owners can not or do not upgrade when a new version is available. Because in Avid land, an upgrade can often mean new hardware even a new PC or Mac. Even two year old Avids used Avid hardware that costed lakhs of Rupees. Which have now been replaced with hardware that costs only tens of thousands.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Final Cut Pro 7.0.2 XML bug fixed

One of the most vexing of FCP issues in recent months has been with FCP 7.0.2. It would have affected anyone who made subtitles in FCP and exported an XML for creating an STL for DVD Studio Pro, or like me, to do XML manipulation to do global changes in subtitles. What happened was that ALL the line breaks were lost. Really frustrating leading to a workaround consisting of reinstalling a 'ghost FCP 7' and running that for making XMLs.

Apple yesterday updated Final Cut Studio in an update called
 
 (Link here http://support.apple.com/kb/DL949)


This update has fixed the 'lost line breaks in XMLs' issue according to the release notes, and added some features.


This update will upgrade your FCP apps to
Final Cut Pro 7.0.3
Motion 4.0.3
Color 1.5.3
Compressor 3.5.3
Apple Qmaster 3.5.3

I haven't tested all the apps yet and will install this first on a non-production system to check if anything else has been broken. More on the updates as I get some hands on time with them.

From Apple's site, what has been fixed is...

Final Cut Pro

Real-time compatibility with Sony XDCAM HD422 720p24/p25/p30.
Log and Transfer compatibility with Sony NXCAM SD.
Control-G not closing the correct gap in the Timeline under the playhead.
Closed captioning data is now preserved when outputting to AJA Io HD with Print to Tape/Video.
Performance issue when importing AVCHD with LPCM audio.
AVCHD thumbnail images in SD are now the correct 4:3 aspect ratio.
XML export now retains the carriage return when working with text and third-party applications.
Several memory fragmentation issues have been resolved.
Localized versions of Final Cut Pro now recognize HDV devices that use the 1080i60/1080i50 FireWire Basic Easy Setups.
Log and Transfer supports ingesting more than one format recorded to the same SD card.

Motion


Corrupted display of the camera controls with certain graphics processors.

Compressor

Adds a compression setting optimized for iPad and iPhone 4.

Color


Adds compatibility with XDCAM HD422 720p24/p25/p30

Sunday 12 September 2010

IBC 2010 Day 1 - 2

I'm not at IBC this year due to some earlier commitments of the domestic kind.
But from what I've followed through newsletters and conversations with friends, here are some of the highlights so far...

Avid released a software version of DS. This will have all the features of a 'real DS' including HD, 2k, 4k, conforming and finishing. Anyone who has relied upon Avid's media management, conform, relink, decompose, consolidate, will have a respect for this software over any other. Even Smoke.

It will be available in October for US$ 10,000 which should price it lower than Smoke on Mac. And it has more features than Smoke on Mac plus close integration with all Avid products especially Media Composer and ProTools which Smoke does not do. Note that DS works on Windows and Smoke on Mac (and Linux). Maybe you might be able to run both on a Mac, with DS running under Parallels.

Speaking of Smoke, Autodesk announced 'Flame Premium' - the MS-Office for online work. This is a suite consisting of Autodesk Smoke, Flame and Lustre as one package. I have no idea on price or shipping, but this can be lethal if Autodesk markets it correctly. And if studios can get people to run all three. Let's wait and see.

Panasonic showed a 'DSLR killer' camera the AG-AF101. DSLR size sensor, compatibility with film lenses, no aliasing issues. Can run Canon and Nikon lenses with an adapter. HD-SDI output too so you can record to HDCamSR tape or KiPro if you don't like the compression they are using. Available December for Euros 5000, this might prove to be a Red killer rather than a DSLR killer.

Aja also announced a smaller Ki Pro the Ki Pro Mini. It records any HD-SDI or HDMI signal as Apple ProRes HQ, SQ, LT, or Proxy files. To CF cards. its small and can mount like Anton Bauer battery packs to the rear of most cameras. Available October for US$ 2000.

Aja also introduced an evolved Kona3, the Kona 3G that adds support for 3D over HDMI and many other I/O capabilities. This will be priced lower than the Kona 3 and available in October. US$ 2400 with the break out box.

Not to be outdone, Blackmagic came out with their evolved Blackmagic Decklink Extreme HD in the form of a Decklink Extreme 3D+. This too offers 3D easily over HDMI 1.4 on TV sets that support this standard. HDMI 1.4 allows full resolution HD 3D over one cable rather than the side-by-side that HDMI 1.3 offered that had only half HD resolution. Decklink's Extreme 3D+ will go for only US$ 1000. And its available now.

In the US, of course some snoots will continue to swear by Aja. But in years of using both, I can't see what's so special with Aja cards over Decklink and I haven't come across any scientific study that proves one is better than the other. Though Decklink have been more cost effective. And have had vastly better support in India.

Blackmagic is also shipping the Resolve on Mac... finally. US$ 1000 for a full featured DI grading software that can run on a properly equipped Mac and co exist with FCP on the same system. It will work with the Tangent Wave panel. They have a configuration guide at their site which should make it easy for anyone to set it up. And this guide will ensure that anyone and everyone sets one up. With interesting results.

The same Resolve Mac system could well have supported an Autodesk Smoke. Since both Resolve and Smoke use the Nvidia FX 4800 for their GPU work. Except that Autodesk Smoke needs a Aja Kona 3 card, while the Resolve uses a Blackmagic Decklink HD. Too bad. Maybe this will change some day.

This is the news at the end of 12 Sep. More surprises could be lurking in the shadows. or maybe even after IBC. I will be looking out.

Thursday 2 September 2010

The new iPod Touch

If you've been waiting to buy an iPhone 4 or an iPad, do head over to Apple's web site and take a look at the new iPod Touch. Announced at a special event by Steve Jobs himself.



It is everything that an iPhone 4 is, but its slimmer and doesn't make calls. Has the same processor as the iPad. Of course, a smaller screen. Record HD video and edit it on the iPT itself. Anywhere

Price is 
8 Gb $ 230 - about Rs. 15,000
16 Gb $300 - about Rs. 20,000
32 Gb $ 400 - about Rs. 26000
and available now. No unlocking no jailbreaking. Works over wifi.
It doesn't have GPS, but does an approximate map location based on wifi location. Just like on an iPad non-3G.


Great gaming platform too.


Another announcement last night was that iOS 4.1 will solve some bugs of slow performance on the old iPhone 3G. And iOS 4.2 will offer new features to iPads and multi-tasking and bring all iPhone devices to a common OS. Available in some months.


120 million iPhone devices - iPhone 2G, 3G, 3Gs, 4, iPad, iPad G, iPod Touch - sold so far.


A new AppleTV was announced too. Is just $100 but has no storage. Only streaming. With Internet speeds like we have in India, it might be challenging to watch movies online, except for YouTube. Of course if you have another Mac in the house, this is a great device to watch your movies and photos on your TV set. over wireless.

Monday 30 August 2010

Canon 5D/7D in Mumbai with accessories

I got this post comment from Accord Equips who rent out cameras in Mumbai.
It was for a post I made in March 2010...

Available with Accord Equips, Mumbai, India - Canon 5d & 7d with all filming accessories like follow focus, matte box, view finder, shoulder mount etc with choice of Canon and Carl Zeiss filming lenses.
Visit www.accordequips.com. Call Jeki 9594070007 / Bhupen – 9594066077 / 26740066 / 64553300

The phone numbers are in Mumbai. If you are outside Mumbai you should dial the +91 prefix.

Thursday 26 August 2010

Buying a new iMac

Here is a simple method of choosing which iMac you should get if you're looking for an iMac and can't choose between the models available now. This information is probably good for any time between now, Aug. 2010 and about the 1st quarter of 2011, or until Apple issues new models, whichever is sooner.

Mac choices.

There are 2 sizes.
21.5 in. And 27 in.
21.5 has a screen resolution of 1920x1080 (full HD)
27 has a resolution of 2560x1440

21.5 has two variants.
One with 256 Mb video RAM, one with 512 Mb
One with 500 Gb Hard disk, one with 1 Tb

The 27 has a 1 Tb hard disk, and 1 Gb video RAM

The 27 has a 2.8 GHz i5 processor.

All 4 have the same number of ports.
1 Firewire 800, 4 USB, 1 SDXC card slot.
All 4 come with the Apple keyboard and mouse.
For sound buffs, all 4 have optical digital in and out.
It's in the form of a mini jack so you can get a mini to Toslink Adapter and a toslink cable and you can connect to a range of high-end audio interfaces and home theatre sets.

Buying advice...

If budget is a constraint, get the lower 21.5 variant.
If you do consider the higher 21.5 variant, then consider the 27.
It costs a little more but has better graphics, a larger screen, and a much faster i5 quad core processor.

I keep referring to 'All 4', but the web site shows only 3. That's because there is a higher i7 quad core (8 virtual cores). This is strictly 'money is no object'. And is not readily available but has to be BTO - built to order.

Incidentally, if you can afford the i7 iMac, then you should consider the MacPro desktop Mac. It's just slightly more than the i7 iMac.

And so on...

My posts on Canon 5D, Canon 7D and other HD-DSLRs and workflows

Links to previous posts on my blog on Canon 5D and Canon 7D

http://neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com/2010/07/canon-5d-or-7d-directly-in-fcp.html
http://neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com/2010/06/canon-5d-mkii-directly-to-fcp.html
http://neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com/2010/03/canon-5d-mkii-does-24fps.html
http://neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com/2010/07/zacuto-great-camera-shootout-2010-film.html
http://neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com/2010/02/canon-to-adopt-mpeg-2-for-forthcoming.html
http://neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com/2009/12/backup-for-tapeless-media.html
http://neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com/2009/11/video-dslrs-how-good-are-they-really.html
http://neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com/2009/10/new-canon-1d-mkiv.html
http://neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com/2009/10/canon-7d-hd-movie-mode-post-production.html

I'll posts actual links in a bit. Till then you can copy and paste these to your browser.

Saturday 14 August 2010

Cry for Ladakh

Many years ago, we went to Ladakh. We spent nearly 3 weeks shooting for a TV series 'Bharat Ke Chhap'. It is a beautiful part of India and will always be. 

Much later I was again associated with Ladakh during the production of Farhan Akhtar's 'Lakshya'.

But now, this magnificent landscape is seeing the effects of nature's fury. It has already killed many and will make thousands homeless. And as the weather heads for a winter, the misery of those living there can only be imagined.

One of my friends from 'Bharat ke Chhap', Reena Mohan, one of the editors of this series, sent this appeal. Please do all you can to help.

Dear friends,

Disasters give no forewarning and the aftermath is a lingering nightmare.... while we are surrounded by floods and chaos all around, the misery of the people of Leh is what we are looking at right now as one of the immediate emergencies.

Anshu Gupta, the force behind GOONJ, went to Leh as soon as he could and is still there doing what he can and reviewing the long-term assistance needed.

We need to rally around and contribute whatever we can to add a few valuable drops though there is an ocean of unending needs.

WHAT GOONJ NEEDS

1. Dry rations: rice, grains, sugar, biscuits, milk powder
2. Woollen blankets - of good durable quality.. these`need to sustain in the harsh weather
3. Woollen clothes in decent usable condition, again need to sustain for some months at least.
4. Cooking utensils, buckets
5. Torches and batteries
6. School material
7. Basic medicines
8. Monetary donations. This would help with the costs of transporting and rehabilitation. Donations may be made by cheque or demand draft favouring GOONJ, with your name and full address and phone number and PAN number given at the back.

Do not give any perishable items please.

Please try and do collections in your neighbourhoods and send your donations directly to the Goonj office at J-93 Sarita Vihar, New Delhi.

Visit www.goonj.org for further information and details for collection centres in other cities.

Please inform others... Thank you

Reena Mohan

Friday 30 July 2010

Panasonic consumer 3D camcorder

Its here! A consumer 3D camcorder.

It shoots with two lenses. To a single video stream using the 'side-by-side' method. Any 3D TV set - like the Samsung 3D LED TV or Panasonic Viera 3DTV available in India now can play this video stream as 3D which you can view through glasses.

Also, if you have a Blu-ray player that can play AVCHD memory cards, you can just pop in the card and see 3D. Its still not a substitute for professionally shot 3D movies, but for simple holiday shoots it should be great.

Cost not announced yet. Details on Panasonic's web site.

FCP media management done right

If you have a Canon 5D/7D project and are grappling with an offline-online workflow. Or you've been through the reconnect hell in FCP. Or you need a better consolidate workflow. Especially for projects that originate with digital files like HDSLR files or some other such. 
Then check out this article over at 2-pop.
http://www.2-pop.com/article/95564

It uses FCP Reconnect from Video Toolshed. It costs US$ 59. I haven't used it yet, but I've seen situations where it would be invaluable especially the situation mentioned in the article at 2-pop. Check out the video at the Video Toolshed site.

Also check out other offerings from Video Toolshed. Many are free and really useful. Also write to the maker Bouke. A very helpful guy.

And please please. Buy it. Its only Rs 2800 or so. After buying it, when it works for you, do please write to Bouke and tell him about it. And copy me with details on how you did it. I could even pay you for it. Really!

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Canon 5D or 7D directly in FCP

There is now cosiderable interest among film-makers to use Canon 5D MkII or 7D or 1 D Mk IV to shoot for theatrical or TV release. The pros and cons of shooting with HD-DSLRs are all over the 'net, as are workflow discussions. And I get a call or mail many times a week on this.

My preferred workflow for Canon 5D/7D files is to
  • Buy as many cards as you think you need - so don't erase and reuse cards.
  • Make two hard disk copies of all shoot files, keep them at different locations.
  • Consider writing to DVDs or get a blu-ray writer and write to Blu-ray disks.
  • Stripe original Canon .mov files with time code before editing.
  • Convert Canon H.264 movies with striped TC to Apple ProRes HQ before editing(ProRes 4444 does not give any additional benefit)
  • Use a safe RAID drive to store files during editing.
For striping TC (time code) on Canon files I use a free utility called QtChange. With QtChange, if the correct settings are not used, it is extremely easy to permanently corrupt a Canon .mov. Result, reshoot. Use with studied caution, please. Also, do not try QtChange on Canon .mov files which are on a Win NT drive.

I've donated towards the development of QtChange and if you use it, I urge you to do so too. Bouke who writes the software, is a knowledgeable and helpful guy.

A faster and easier way to handle Canon 7D files is to the use the new Canon EOS Movie plugin E1 for FCP. This works for FCP 6.0.3 to FCP 7. Please read all instructions carefully and then use. Pay particular attention to the 'create disk image' step, and give logical and non-repetitive reel names. And please do not omit adding reel names, preferably one per card.

This plug-in converts Canon H.264 .mov files to Apple ProRes or Apple ProRes HQ upon import, and uses the time of day to stripe the files with time code. It also requires that the original folder structure of the memory card is preserved. But then if you've read the instructions you'll follow that part.

Link to the plug-in here...
http://www.usa.canon.com/dlc/controller?act=GetArticleAct&articleID=3249
This plug-in is free and you need to address all support queries directly to Canon.

If you use this Canon EOS E1 plugin, you don't need to use Compressor as this plug-in handles all conversion.
If you don't want time-of day time code but would like to add custom time code, you have to use Qtchange.

A recent article at dvinfo.net 
http://www.dv.com/article/96564
listed a set of software and plug-ins if one was planning on using a DSLR to shoot - short or long feature.

The softwares are...
Magic Bullet Grinder $49 - but you could manage to do this with Compressor or the Canon EOS plugin, or other free utilities.
Foundry Rolling Shutter plug-in $ 500 - but you can avoid rolling shutter at the shoot stage.
Canon EOS Gamma Curves - UKP 29 - but you can arrive at a similar look with some trial and error
F_DeNoise with Nuke - US$ 6000+US$ 4400 - and an experienced Nuke artist is needed.
F_DeNoise for FCP - US$ 500 - if you definitely are shooting very high ISO.
DV Fixer part of Boris Continuum Complete 7 FxPlug - US$ 995 - may get away with aliasing with careful shooting.

So, feel free to get whichever you think you absolutely have to have.

My instructions on getting enough cards, backing up your media, and using a RAID for editing still remain, and I urge you to consider storage seriously. Unless you have the option of re-shooting some or all of your footage due to data loss.

Due to the sheer volume or requests I get for digital acquisition, I am now accepting donations for support so as to be able to better ration my time. So, if you plan on shooting on Canon 5D or 7D and would like workflow advice or support during your project, click on the 'Donate' button alongside (to the right of this column below my picture), and you can reach me.

Thursday 1 July 2010

Zacuto Great Camera Shootout 2010 - Film vs HD-DSLR

If you've been to the CAS presentation in Mumbai last weekend, and are wondering how HD-DSLRs would fare in tests like these, please check out the Zacuto tests. This was Film - Kodak and Fuji - stocks exposing the same scenes as six top DSLRs that shoot HD video 5D MKII, 7D, 1D, 550D/T2i Rebel, Nikon D3s, Panasonic GH1.
 
Results of the tests, the Zacuto Great Camera Shootout 2010 - Film vs HD-DSLR are as below...

Zacuto Great Camera Shootout 2010: It's all About Latitude

Zacuto Great Camera Shootout 2010 Webisode 2: How Sensitive Can You Get?

The Great Camera Shootout 2010 Web 3: The Revolution Begins...

If you are a member, you can download these.
 
For those who don't yet know about the HD-DSLR phenomenon, its about still cameras that shoot video at HD resolution. Some love it, some gloss over the defects, most just get on with the job of taking great pictures.

Collectively, an estimated 200,000+ still cameras that can do HD video may have been sold so far.

Tuesday 29 June 2010

CAS Day 2

Day 2 at the CAS show was one of seeing the same shots over and over again and watching for differences between one camera system and another. It mainly was focused around film vs. each of the other digital cameras.

If you don't know what CAS is, or haven't about CAS in Mumbai, head over to my earlier post on CAS. For a report on CAS day 1, head over here.

My broad conclusions from these tests may or may not match those of a cinematographer, because I ain't one. I saw each camera's output from the point of view of, can this tell a story. Whether it (anything digital) looks as good as film is something I stopped looking for a while ago. Nothing looks like film. But some digital stuff looks rather good.

So, some random observations...

There was a handout distributed at the start. It listed in a table the basic characteristics of all 8 cameras that were tested. Some of the stuff there could be contested. For instance, F23 and F35 are shown as uncompressed. Neither can record uncompressed to tape.
The Arri D-21 is shown as edit ready. But if you shoot ArriRAW then all that stuff needs to be converted to Quicktime before you can edit it. Just like with Red. But if you shoot D-21 to tape, then it is edit ready, but then, its not uncompressed.

These tests were shot in Jan 2009. And post completed in April 2009. Some changes have happened in digital cameras since then. Red one has been superseded by the Red M-X, and the Epic is near completion. Arri introduced the Alexa. And, of course, there are HD DSLRs.

On the test methodology and workflow...

Manufacturers were asked to do the conversion of their digital material to 10bit log DPX. And all work was done in this medium. In a real world situation if one is shooting digital, one may wish to work in the camera's own format. Or another linear format. 10bit log DPX is the preferred medium for film scans, not necessarily suited to digital.

Also, in these tests, the film shots were graded first. Then the 10bit log DPX converts from all digital cameras were graded to match the film as closely as possible. Only simple colour correction was used and no windows, or no sharpening or noise removal was performed. So in that sense it was a clean test.

One thing someone from the ASC mentioned was "Editorial was ignored". I guess that meant that the shots were simply plonked on a timeline with no relation with one another. In a real world situation, one always builds a scene as a series of shots. And maybe in this respect, digital is much more uniform than film. Meaning shot to shot variations are far less in digital than in negative film. meaning. Film absolutely has to be graded in some manner. The editorial factor has to be be part of the testing, As has sound.

Another observation I had was flicker was common across all formats. I mention this because I've lost count of the number of hours I've been debating this with commercial film-makers when the camera pans across a bright surface and it strobes and flickers. They blame the telecine, the colourist, the DigiBeta VTR, the FCP, even the editor. The CAS showed that ALL cameras flicker during pans.
When showing the tests, there were some observations expressed on the voice-over. I thought them to be leading, and it highlighted some defects that a cursory observation would have overlooked. After all no one watches one single shot over and over again, unless they are editors.

Archival in the digital age

It was narrated how, during the CAS shoot, one entire shot shot on the Viper camera erased because of a wrong interpretation of an alert message. This was used to highlight how in the digital age, its very easy to lose work. Whereas with film, it can't be erased.

I agree. Digital data is far more 'fragile' than film, when it comes to clumsiness and callousness. But out here, producers often skimp on hard drive costs, so they buy the cheapest one they can find. So archiving of digital data while production is on-going is a neglected area.

But, here in India its just as easy to lose film. We have lost negatives of films shot in 2003 to bad storage. We have this serious problem of heat and dust. And spotty electric supply. So, outside of Mumbai, even if you store your film in an air-conditioned chamber, where will you get 24x7 electricity? 
On the other hand, huge amounts of data are securely stored for extended periods in India. The Indian Railway reservation system is the world's largest database. The Census and UUID program, the largest database of human beings. Our IT boys store data for the world. Hollywood may not have the answers to data storage, but the Indian computer industry might know. We probably should ask.
On a side note, for most of the trash we produce on television and even in movies, do you really want to store that? Will people really watch any of it? Wouldn't you wish you could erase all that film and reuse it for something better?
Just go over the list of flops of this year and you'll see what I mean.

But yes, our classics, they need better storage, and digital is probably not it.

Conclusion

The overall feeling I got was that the differences between film and digital cameras of Jan 2009 was marginal. Cinematographers will debate on the finer points, but the truth was out there on the screen for all to see.

And, the reality of this test between film, Red, Viper, Genesis, F23, F35, D-21, 3700 for us in India could be summarised as film vs Red. We simply don't have any of the other cameras in large enough numbers (like exceeding 1-3 all India) to matter for film making.
On day 1 we saw film vs Arri Alexa. And day two was film vs Red. Then there are HDDSLRs which were not tested. So, in India, we need to make our choices between these. Film, Red, Alexa, HDDSLRs. For TV you can add EX1/EX3 or F950 type of cameras as well.

In the end, Kodak showed a film highlighting their new Vision 3 stock. it looked impressive. But the film also highlighted the role of cohesively edited material, a story and good sound to the overall film experience.

For the future, I wish the Cinematographers Combine, and some camera rental company, and a well equipped post house in Mumbai do a film vs digital test based on cameras we have here. And make it a fuller exercise with a story, direction, acting, sound, and editing. That's really real world.

I'm available. 

Sunday 27 June 2010

Mumbai CAS Day 1

The Cinematographer's combine CAS event got off this morning at a packed Imax theatre at Wadala. For a change the participants got there before time and the hall was packed with time to spare. I take this as a sign that digital is ready to be received. Or, that there was very little traffic in Mumbai this morning.

The first session was on the new Arri Alexa digital movie camera. I wrote about this camera on this blog a few weeks age and you can find it by looking through the links in the margin to the right. Or here.

The day began with a talk by Henning Radlein of Arri. I've been hearing Henning for over 5 years now. At various trade shows and demos, even a guided tour around Arri that he kindly gave me some years ago. And he delivers, with the manner of one of my professors of Classical Mechanics at Physics post-grad University class. Simple, concise and technically perfect.

There were some features that Henning spoke about that are not there in their brochure or web site. There was also a hands on demo of the Alexa, played out live on the big screen with a live camera. A rather good way of showing a device to a large audience.

Later we saw tests that Arri shot on an Alexa. These were shown as Digital, from the (presumably) Christie 2k projector. At 2k, or maybe 1080p24, I forgot to ask.

To my untrained eyes, the tests looked awesome. And I didn't find anyone who said anything derogatory about them, and most seemed suitably impressed. Until we saw the Indian tests later in the day.

The Indian tests were shot by two leading Cinematographers - Sudeep Chaterjee and Amit Roy. They had both shot some typical film scenes with props, actors and the like. And they both shot to film and Alexa and showed both one after another, as a film print.

I'm no cinematographer so a lot of the figures about shutter angle and aperture were just numbers to me. So I just saw it as one picture compared to another. From the general murmurings around the house, it seemed there were many who were doing the same.

One set of tests had a freeze frame in every shot with animated supers showing what seemed to be some kind of exposure level. I found that a trifle disturbing. I wonder, even among those who understood what those numbers meant, how many could retain that info. I think a set of stills on the Cinematographers Combine website would have been a better idea.

The tests were shown as a film print. On a film projector that was weaving and vibrating. So that was a bit jarring. So it was decided to see them as a digital print or DCP. One astute person in the audience asked for the Arri tests to be also shown right after the Indian tests.

For me that was an interesting watch. Seeing tests shot here, vs those shot by Arri both on a clean bright digital projector. What a vast difference in the sheer quality of images. Amazing. I don't mean to slam anyone here, but I think for quite a few persons in the audience the truth was before their eyes.

There was also a Q & A with some of those associated with the tests. Unfortunately, out of the two cinematographers who shot the local tests, only one could attend and answer tests on the shooting. And, as far as post was concerned, the colorist was absent too. And Ken, who filled in, did a reasonable job of providing info.

I found the workflow for the Alexa tests locally done to be... well, 'interesting'. At Reliance MediaWorks.

They scanned the film at 4k. On a Spirit 4k. Graded at 4k on a Baselight. and recorded back to film at 4k too.
The Alexa shot to SxS cards as ProRes 4444 as well as HDCamSR as 444HQ. In the logC colour space. But Reliance chose to capture the tape. This was captured to Clipster and exported out as uprezzed 4k DPX, for grading in Baselight.

So, the film images were presumably 4096x1744 pixels during scanning, grading and recording.
The Alexa images were shot at 1920x1080, cropped to 1920x817, Scaled up to 4096x1744, graded at that size, and recorded to film.

So, if my presumption is correct, we were shown native 4096x1744 film vs 1920x817 size digital images side by side but on film. All those who debate on 4k vs 2k for film DI need to take careful note of this in relation to what they saw on the screen this evening.

To be sure, I asked Henning whether the camera provided to CC for tests was capable of shooting ProRes. He said Yes. So, the decision to use the tape instead was taken by Reliance. Maybe because they don't have a Mac at Reliance with the latest FCS 3 which is needed to open ProRes 4444. Or maybe they feel tape is better.

I also checked with Henning if the Arri tests that we saw earlier were shot to HDCamSR or ProRes. He told me which were HDCamSR and which ProRes. He also explained me their workflow, which was radically simpler and arguably more edit friendly that the one Reliance adopted.

For me, the highlight of today was how different our shoot looked compared to the one done by Arri. Exactly why, is something I'll ponder about.

Later, there was a presentation from Sony on the SRW 9000 camcorder. Actually, calling that somehow puts it in the same league as an EX3. but not really. This is a digital movie camera with an HDCam SR recorder built in. The SRW 9000 is based the F23. And there will be a SRW 9000PL based on the F35.

The SRW9000 will have a memory card recording option in some months. This is a flash memory card that will be 1 Tb and record uncompressed. This memory card option will also work with the F23 and the F35. There is also a 4k upgrade path for the camera section. Which makes sense as this special 1 Tb cartridge will be capable of 5 Gbps.

Sony and Arri are adopting similar approaches, that of recording to a know medium and format. Easy to store, edit and manipulate. Both are good cameras and I wish there was a Alexa vs SRW 9000 comparison instead of film.

For us in India, unless post houses use the Direct to Edit Apple ProRes function of the Alexa, both will become HDCam SR cameras. So rentals will be similar. It will boil down to which camera cinematographers prefer.

Eventually the 1 Tb SR2.0 card will be introduced. And some may demand the raw recording capability of the Arri Alexa or uncompressed for the SRW 9000 over ProRes or HDCam SR. But both these approaches take up huge amounts of disk space so they might be non-starters in our context.
 
The rushes of an average Hindi movie, uncompressed (SR 2.0) or ArriRAW will take up 12-15 Terabytes disk space. I know exactly how hard it is to get someone to invest Rs 35,000 that it costs to get one secure hard disk to store just one ad film's a Red rushes, so asking for Rs 12-15 lakhs ofr a hard disk array for rushes... forget about it.

There was a very basic test of some shots with the SRW 9000 shot a couple of days ago. These were shot as S-log. The camera played the tests directly with and with a 'linearizing' LUT applied. I felt the test was playing at double speed. Meaning, they were shot 1080p25 or 1080p24 and the camera system was set up for 1080p50 or 1080p60.

If it was, then that shows how careful we need to get with these HD formats. 

By the way, where does Red figure in all this? It does. And I plan on doing a compare, very soon.

I've written on the Arri Alexa, SRW-9000, and SR 2.0. Check it out. And please, if anyone is using this info for any commercial gain, consider the donate or subscribe button.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Film vs Digital - the CAS tests

Will you shoot your next film digitally? Thinking about it?
You need to see a fair comparison of Film vs Digital.

Come to the Camera Assessment Series

Film and Digital Cameras Compared

Produced by the American Society of Cinematographers.
Shot by a group of internationally acclaimed cinematographers

Presented in India by
Cinematographer's Combine

Come and watch, the exact same scenes
shot on

Arri 435

Red One

Arri D-21

Viper
Panavision Genesis
Panasonic HPX3700
Sony F23 and Sony F35 

All presented side by side on the big screen.
As a film print and digital.

Make up your own mind on this Film vs digital debate.

How digital translates to film.
How digital looks compared to film.
How digital looks on film.
Seen side by side with film.


June 26-27, 2010
Imax Wadala

Entry is Rs 1500.
The best 1500 you've ever spent.

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Canon 5D MkII directly to FCP

Canon has released a plug-in to enable FCP users to directly import Canon footage into FCP via Log and Transfer. This works for the 5D MkII. It is available at Canon's web site.

Imported files appear as clips in the browser and QT movies in the Finder. They have time code derived from the time of day contained in the clips. I'm going to try this out and see for myself.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Sony SRW-9000 digital movie camera



At NAB Sony showed the SRW-9000PL, a single body HDCamSR camera cum recorder. A digital movie camera, about the size of a 35mm film camera.

Detailed discussion and the actual camera here

The SRW-9000 is actually a Sony F23 with a HDCamSR recorder built-in. So, it has the same imager size as a 16mm film frame. You can use PL mount lenses from 16mm cameras to make this a digital replacement for 16mm. Well… as far as depth of field is concerned.

What's interesting is that eventually this camera will be upgradeable to a Sony F35 sensor - so you'll have 35mm imaging and DOF characteristics. And there will also be an upgrade to the tape deck - a 1Tb flash memory card recorder that will make this format tapeless too.

And with the addition of a few boards you can record 4:4:4 HDCamSR and also S-log curve on tape. S-log makes the image more 'filmic'. And tape takes out all the conversion and storage issues with current tapeless formats.

There's more. There were hints that this tapeless HDCamSR (called SR 2.0) can be scaled up to 4k. if the number 4k has some magic for you.

The rumored price for a SRW 9000 body with option boards is US$ 1,20,000. When it gets to India this would amount to the equivalent of Rs 70-80 lakhs with duty for the body only without lenses. That puts it at a higher cost than an Alexa or a Red.

Friday 21 May 2010

Export for iPad

I've had an iPad for over a month now. And even played movies downloaded from iTunes video podcasts. But, up until my friend Dev Benegal asked me, I didn't bother finding out how to create a movie for iPad playback.

Quicktime Pro has presets for the iPhone and cel phones, even various web formats. But nothing yet for the iPad. On the iPad specs page, specs for the movie playback capability of the iPad are stated as...

H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second
Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio

MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second,
Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio

Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, 
audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format

On the actual page this is one long paragraph. I've spaced it out and simplified it.

So this is a good starting point. Looks like the iPad's processor can play back H.264, mp4, and M-jpeg. Data rates for H.264 aren't given, but it can play mp4 at 2.5 Mbps and M-jpeg at 35 Mbps.

While searching for AppleTV movie specs, I came across a Tech note for Apple Tv export
http://developer.apple.com/mac/library/technotes/tn2007/tn2188.html

Here, there's mention of the iPad. And the magic sentence…
"Note: While QuickTime does not provide an iPad specific export component, the iPad is capable of playing media exported using the Apple TV export component."

AppleTV specs are well documented as
Video - H.264 5 Mbps
Size - 1280x720 max 24fps
Audio - AAC-LC 128 Kbps, 44.1 kHz Stereo

So, if one has Apple Compressor installed one can create a preset, input these values and go for it.
If you don't have Apple Compressor, then you need at least Quicktime Pro.

With Quicktime Pro, the settings would be…




I made a small tweak to the size and set it to 1024x768 with a letterbox added in case the original was not in the 1024x768 proportion. 


If you need the movie to be generic and playable on a MacBook/Pro as well AppleTV, then you can omit the 1024x768 resize and stay with 1280x720. Resizing to 1024x768 will make the frame size about 20% smaller at the same data rate so it might be of a better quality visually.

The export is slow. My test export of 1 min
On a MacBook Pro 2.33 GHz, with 2 Gb RAM
took 14 mins.
Going from H.264 at 1920x1080 at 80 Mbps to H.264 1024x768 at 5 Mbps.
Depending on the format of your original, your mileage may vary.

A tip to make this go faster is to change the encoding settings from multi-pass to single pass in the Video settings window. With that set, the same 1 min movie took under 3 mins. Either way the quality was great.

To get the movie into iPad you need to take it into iTunes and select it for syncing when you connect the iPad to your Mac.


This might work for movies ripped from DVDs as well, though Apple hasn't designed it that way. They expect you to buy the movies from the iTunes store.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Arri Alexa Digital Movie Camera


At IBC last year, Arri announced a new camera. A successor to the D21 - a digital camera to shoot movies with. That was Sept. 2009.
 


Last week at NAB (a large international post-production exhibition and conference at Las Vegas) Arri showed the camera. Its now called Alexa. Arri had a working prototype at their booth. Something you could touch and feel and shoot with and watch the output of, on a HD monitor.

The most important thing Arri have done with the Alexa is to sort out the production and post-production workflow in a manner that's simple - probably simpler than the Red. Whether this helps them sell well and better then Red, only time will tell. The pricing is not a bit higher than the Red, though.

In it's base configuration the Alexa shoots at a resolution of 3 k with a frame size of 3072x1728. This is downsized to HD at 1920x1080 and recorded to SxS memory cards as Apple ProRes422HQ or Apple ProRes4444. ProRes422HQ has a data rate of 145 Mbps while ProRes4444 has a data rate of 330 Mbps.

To put this into perspective, Panasonic D-5 tape stores video at 220 Mbps and Sony HDCamSR does 440 Mbps. So, in terms of data rate, and hence arguably, quality, the Alexa at ProRes4444 is somewhere between D-5 and HDCamSR.

This HD output is also available as a HD video signal which can be recorded to HD video tape like HDCam or HDCamSR. In fact, this is a safe way or working. ProRes4444 on SxS cards and the same HD video to HDCamSR tape. The tape becomes a backup.

For even higher quality and latitude, the Alexa also can record Arri RAW to a certified Arri T-link recorder. Like the Codex, S.two, or KG models of recorders. These recorders cost as much or more than the camera.

When the Alexa makes its way into India, the scenario might look like this...

The camera itself (pro set with DTE option) costs about Euros 52,500 (about Rs 40 lakhs incl. Customs Duty). And the recorder that can record Arri Raw costs another US$ 60,000 (about Rs 36 lakhs incl. Customs Duty).

The Arri Raw recorder records to hard disk about 15 Gb per min. So, if you are shooting a feature film of 120 mins at a shooting ratio of about 5:1, you need about 9000 Gb or 9 Tb space to store 10 hrs of Arri Raw rushes. At a shooting ratio of 10:1 which is what people do, when they shoot digital, you're looking at 18 Tb. To be safe you need to back this up in two sources - disk and LTO.

Now, going by what non-film cameras like the Red rent out for in India, my guess is that the Alexa will also rent at a premium. Meaning you will need to shell out two times or more per day for an Alexa what you would, for an Arri 435 film camera. This differential alone will make potential film-makers think twice about shooting digital.

Add to that the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) factor around digital, it will take a while for someone to have the guts to do an entire mainstream film on a digital camera like the Alexa. As if that isn't enough, the sheer cost of providing safe secure storage for digital Arri Raw data, will make most producers balk at the idea.

At a conservative estimate, 8 Tb of safe secure RAID storage will cost at least Rs 1,20,000 for an 8 Tb RAID. That will add up to Rs. 2,40,000 for 16 Tb. This cost will need to be borne by the producer as well. Of course after the film is done, one can delete the unused rushes and then reuse the storage for forthcoming films. But the initial acquisition of a high quality disk storage will have to be made.

Many film-makers may settle for Apple ProRes4444 which takes up just 130 Gb per hour, or 1.3 Tb for 10 hours going up to 2.6 Tb for 20 hrs. And, for many purposes, ProRes4444 provides nearly all the bandwidth and sheer picture quality that Arri Raw would have given you, but at a fraction of the disk space and bother of file conversion.

At NAB, I was told, about 300 Alexa cameras were sold worldwide. In all probability, one or more people from india have bought one, or are considering one. So, come June, when the Alexa ships, one will see an Alexa somewhere in India, most likely in Mumbai.

For someone looking at an alternative to film, and who doesn't want to mess with the workflow of Red because his editor or cinematographer has heard bad things about it. And needs a camera that responds just like a film camera - the Arri Alexa is a good choice. If you have the budget and inclination for shooting Raw, and a recorder is available, then go with shooting Raw.

The complete Arri Alexa specs ...

There's, of course, more to the Alexa than just post-production convenience. Its latitude, dynamic range, 35mm sized sensor and compatibility with existing 35mm film lenses. Features that might appeal to the cinematographer and make the camera closer to a film camera. There isn't (yet) an optical viewfinder, but they may add one later in the year.
 
But for ease of use and simplicity, stick with shooting ProRes4444. The files will open and can be edited directly in FCP. And even in Avid Media Composer ver. 5.
After editing, these files will open directly in Smoke on a Mac for any effects work. Even windows apps like 3DStudio Max can use these files for any CGI work. For grading, the yet-to-be-released Resolve on Mac will be able to grade ProRes4444 files.

So there you have a clean and simple workflow. For shooting digitally for features and shorts. Even ad films and music videos.

Friday 30 April 2010

The new Blackmagic Resolve


At NAB this year, the main entrance had a large Blackmagic hoarding (called billboard in some countries). In earlier years this was the space used for Apple's hoardings. And as one walked into the South Hall, one couldn't help notice that Blackmagic had what appeared to be the largest booth in the hall.

And they had announcements to match.
Resolve on a Mac for US$ 995
Revival for $ 1495
Resolve on Linux for $ 20,000
The DaVinci control surface for $ 30,000

And other new products, some for USB3. None of those work on a Mac as yet.

But the most interesting new item was undoubtedly Resolve for Mac for $ 995. Make no mistake, this is going to make a difference to colour grading as we know it. In the days that followed, forums were abuzz with discussions. At the Creative Cow, the Apple Color forum saw one of the longest threads discussing this new Resolve.


To put things into perspective, this new Resolve will not be available till June 2010. It will work on a 8-core MacPro preferably the faster 2.66 or 2.93 GHz version. it will need as much RAM you can afford to put in, but I suspect at least 12 Gb will be needed.
 
The stock nVidia GT 120 card that ships with the MacPro will deal with the primary display. And you need a nVidia GTX 285 card for the actual colour grading processing. This additional display card runs $ 449 at the Apple Store. And you cannot connect a display to it. It is used only for processing. So it effectively replaces the 'Transformer' cards in the old Resolve Linux.

So even if the software costs $ 995, you'll need a $ 15,000 Mac and monitors to go with it before you can own a sensible grading solution. And a Tangent Wave panel that runs $ 1700.



My colorist colleague Jayadev put the Resolve on Mac through its paces. And reported, happily, that at first glance this Resolve performs just like the older Linux Resolves. Many primaries and secondaries still played real time even with 2k DPX frames. Other conform functions worked as usual too. And there was built in dust-busting to de-spot film while grading.

The BM Resolve on Mac needs a Blackmagic HD Extreme card for video output. So if you already have a Kona, you're out of luck unless BM supports it with drivers. For a grading panel, this Resolve works happily with a Tangent Wave. If you need more control, you can look at Blackmagic Impressario panel for $ 30,000. Of course, if you buy that panel you'll get the Resolve software free with it.

The new Linux version is also available for $ 20,000. Coupled with the panel you can get a new Linux Resolve for about $ 60,000 (with system and monitors).

And there's more. With the HDLink Pro, there's support for an external Display at 10-bit 4:4:4. And 3D stereoscopic as well. But how well these features work will be evident only after the software becomes available in June 2010.
Conclusion. Colour grading for small and indie films has become even more affordable. Some argue that this new Resolve won't threaten the big-ticket 'pro' systems like Quantel iQ or Baselight. Yes it probably won't. But it I don't think BM is after that. I think this new Resolve will sell in large numbers. Big productions may or may not use it in a big way, but the small to medium post houses will.

With the cost of systems going down, a lot of trashy colour grading will happen. But in the long run, this will make people realize the need for a professional colorist. And eventually hire one.

The value of a good colorist will not reduce as systems get cheaper just as the value of a good editor has not diminished even with editing systems getting cheaper over the past decade.