Sunday, 13 March, 2011

Memory cards for Canon 5D/7D shoots

For Canon 5D or 7D shoots, for ad films, music videos, promos, or features, people go into long discussions and arguments about disk storage, RAID etc etc. I have always advocated getting as many memory cards as you plan on shooting. And not erasing and reusing any card, till the shoot is over. Even after transferring the card contents to hard disk for editing and post-production.
That way, one has the data available all the time on the original cards, even if any hard disks fail.

But people tell me that this costs quite a lot. I decided to find out.

First, let's see what media would cost before HDSLRs happened to film-making.

400 feet of film costs about Rs 10,000, and runs about 4 mins, so film is Rs 2500 per minute.
With a shoot ratio of 1:10, a standard Hindi film of 150 mins would shoot 1500 mins of film. This amounts to about 340 rolls of 35mm film or Rs 34 lakhs in film costs alone. Processing extra.

A 40 min HDCam SR tape is about Rs 10,000. So for the same 150 min feature, even at a shoot ration of 1:20 (people tend to shoot more with tape than film). One would use 75 tapes of Rs 7.5 lakhs on tape. And one doesn't erase and reuse tapes even after they are transferred to the edit system.

Now, on to HDSLRs (Canon 5D or 7D)

On a Canon 5D or 7D CF cards are used up at about 3 min per Gb. So, if one shot an entire feature of 150 mins, even at a shooting ratio of 1:30, and shot on 8 GB CF cards, one would use up about 190 CF cards.
At online store,
an 8 GB CF Ultra 200x card sells for Rs 2000. So, if one did not reuse cards, and shot to about 200 cards or 'exposed' 80 hours of video on a Canon 5D/7D, one would spend Rs 4 lakhs.

Rs 34 lakhs for 25 hrs of film, or
Rs 7.5 lakhs for 50 hrs of HD tape, or 
Rs 4 lakhs for 80 hrs of Canon HD video. 

I think its clear CF cards, as a medium, are way cheaper than HD tape or film. And if one does not erase and use the costlier film or HD tape, what reason is there to erase CF cards that cost 1/30th what film costs.

Come to think of it, if you shot with a Canon exactly like film at a shoot ratio of 1:10, you would need only about 63 cards or spend about Rs 1.25 lakhs on 'rawstock'.

So, I don't get the reason for reusing CF cards. Reuse them after the film is released and you've consolidated all your media, but please, stop shooting an entire feature with 2 CF cards erased and used 30-100 times over.

Monday, 7 March, 2011

Autodesk 2012

Last week, Autodesk released new versions of their Digital Entertainment Creation software line. These are now suffixed 2012, to mean the year 2012. But the software will be available in 2011.

New software released are
in the Animation Solutions line-up, 3ds Max 2012, Softimage 2012, Mudbox 2012, Maya 2012, MotionBuilder 2012 and
in the Creative Finishing Solutions, Flame 2012, Flare 2012, Smoke Mac OSX 2012, Flame Premium 2012, and Lustre 2012

Significantly, all of Autodesk's Creative Finishing Solutions and Animation Solutions software are receiving a refresh at the same time. This is probably the first time this has happened so maybe they have managed to integrate all these groups to work together.

Also significantly, there is no mention of Flint, Fire, or Inferno. So maybe, just maybe, we won't see any more refreshes of these software packages which formed part of IFFFS which ruled in the two decades past.

And, if you see the releases listed on the official Autodesk page linked below, you won't see any Smoke 2012, just Smoke for Mac OSX 2012. If that's true, you can no longer get a Smoke on Linux on its own. You have to get the Flame Premium suite which contains Smoke, Flame and Lustre.

I haven't studied the new features in great detail, primarily because I couldn't readily find a document that details this. But from a cursory study at other sites, it seems that for Smoke on Mac OSX, there are improvements in 3D capabilities.

There doesn't seem to be a specific Smoke 2012 hardware list. They still have the 2011 list on. The only video I/O card supported is still the Aja Kona 3. No support yet for Blackmagic cards. So maybe, there's some new hardware expected that will make this list. Something from Aja, or Blackmagic after all.

As for graphic cards, for Smoke 2011 not one out of Quadro 4000, Quadro FX4800, FX5600, and FX 4500 was completely certified in the 2011 list. The closest is Quadro FX5600 which is 'Supported although not officially Certified in our lab'.

Let's hope Smoke for Mac OSX has wider Autodesk blessed support for graphic cards on Mac OSX.

On the Autodesk online store page Smoke is still listed as Smoke 2011 available online for US$ 16,990 with subscription and US$ 14,995 without. Wonder if Smoke 2012 has a different pricing.

The official Autodesk page is here…

There is an in-depth analysis over at here…