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NAB 2015 Impressions: Phantom Flex 4K Camera

NAB 2015 Impressions: Phantom Flex 4K Camera

Well, the Vision Research Flex 4K isn’t exactly a new development, they announced it during NAB 2014.  Last year’s release gave us a camera system capable of up to 1000fps at 4K and 2000fps at 2k resolution which recorded to either 32GB or 64GB of internal buffer memory.  With three HD-SDI outputs, you have the ability to configure two ports as a dual link 4K output for an external recorder while retaining one port at 4:4:4 1080P for an on-board monitor or EVF.  Speaking of EVFs, an all new Phantom OLED HD Viewfinder was also introduced on this release. The new features announced this year are certainly NAB-worthy.  Most importantly is Flex 4K now offers ProRes 422 HQ to internal recording media.  This is a great alternative to the post-intensive Phantom RAW workflow. The Flex 4K has had a memory upgrade as well.  You can now get up to 128GB on buffer RAM which will give you 10 seconds of 1000fps 4K high-speed video.  Doubling the input recording buffer definitely opens up some possibilities for recording some high-speed magic.  Finally, sync-sound audio support has been added to the camera.  While not a huge deal that this style of camera had poor or no audio support, it does make the Flex 4K a more capable general purpose camera.   Bookmark it to Stumbleupon, Digg, and more! Hide...

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NAB 2015 Impressions: Sony PMW-PZ1 4K XAVC Player

NAB 2015 Impressions: Sony PMW-PZ1 4K XAVC Player

  When Sony released their F5 and F55 camera systems, they rolled out yet another video codec in the form of XAVC.  While the XAVC codec sports excellent quality and compression characteristics surpassing their legacy XDCAM format, it still has a major weakness.  You can’t easily watch the footage.  Either the Sony Content Browser or an editing suite such as Abode Premiere must be used.  And 4K footage wont even play in the Content Browser unless you have a high horsepower computer. Enter the Sony PZ1 multiformat SxS XAVC player.  The PZ1 will playback XAVC video strait from an SxS card that was shot on an F55 or playback XACV-Intra video from an external hard drive shot on an FS7.  This unit supports the entire new generation of Sony cameras. This versatile device can be integrated into a media management workflow by allowing you to review footage and backup SxS media via a USB attached hard drive and integrated monitor. Or treat it like a deck with RS-232 control in post production and capture 4K media to the edit suite of choice via 3G/HD-SDI ports. The PZ1 is an excellent step towards making Sony’s relatively new XAVC format more professionally friendly to use! Bookmark it to Stumbleupon, Digg, and more! Hide...

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To 4K or not to 4K – That is the Question!

To 4K or not to 4K – That is the Question!

There is no shortage of hype surrounding the 4K initiative, most of it coming from the high-end camera and television manufacturers. During our research on the 4K topic we’ve found very few compelling reasons to support this technological advancement, and quite a few points that prove the world isn’t quite ready for the current implementation of 4K. We’ll outline some of the pros and cons of 4K technology and you can decide for yourself if 4K is the right tool for your job. “4K Looks Better than HD” Camera and television manufacturers claim that 4K looks better, that more pixels means a better image.   In fact there are very few instances where this is the case. In your living room, this is almost never the case for two reasons. First, the current HDMI 1.4 standard is forced to limit the 4K stream to 8-bit color (16.7 million colors) due to bandwidth limitations of the HDMI interface. An increase in color range to 10-bit (over 1 billion colors) is something the human eye can perceive. HDMI 2.0 will fix this limitation, but is just now starting to be rolled out to consumers. Second, these 4K monitors look wonderful in the showroom when you are standing a few feet away, but when your couch is 10 or 12 feet from your snazzy new 4K Ultra HD TV, you have effectively surpassed the ability of your retina to discern pixel separation because of the distance. In this case 1920×1080 will look nearly identical to 4K. This is compelling justification to not buy a 4K TV just yet, but what about shooting in 4K? Eleven-time Academy Award nominated Director of Photography Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC choose the ARRI Alexa and its ARRIRAW 2.6K workflow for the largest grossing James Bond film ever, “Skyfall”. The mastered product was upscaled to 4K for theatric and IMAX release and it looked fantastic. This choice is further justification that better pixels are always preferred over more pixels. Deciding to utilize 4K on the premise that ”more is more” is a flawed argument. “We’ll Fix It In Post” We’ve found both positive and negative reasons for using 4K as it pertains to post-production. To obvious downside is the storage requirements needed for 4K material. 4K media is nearly four-times the amount of digital information over 1080P HD. A 4K 4:4:4 RAW uncompressed stream at 23.98fps is roughly 3.82Gbps (447MB per second). At that data rate, one hour of 4K footage would take up more than 1.7TB of storage, whereas an hour of RAW 1080P video of the same colorspace and framerate would be about 540GB. That is a lot of information to move...

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Free Video Tools for the “Budget Challenged” Production

Free Video Tools for the “Budget Challenged” Production

At Moving Picture we are all too aware of how expensive it can be to create art. So, for the budget minded filmmakers out there, we’ve provided a few useful free video tools for you to try out. MPEG Streamclip (http://www.squared5.com) MPEG Streamclip is one of those oddly versatile tools that should be installed on every computer you use. It will play nearly every sort of digital media you throw at it. This includes XDCAM MP4 files from the Sony EX-3 and F3 and MXF files from Sony F5/F55 and Canon C300. About the only thing it won’t play is RED media. These features make it a great tool for reviewing footage in the field on anyone’s computer. MPEG Streamclip features a very basic familiar front end. (click to enlarge) It is available in both a Mac or Windows version, and it is a single executable file, which means you can keep a copy of MPEG Streamclip on a personal jump drive to use on any computer if you need to review some material. MPEG Streamcip also has a powerful video export engine that allows transcoding of single clips or a batch of clips to another video format. MPEG Streamclip’s export tools are quite powerful and useful by any standard. (click to enlarge)   Movietools.info (http://www.movietools.info) Movietools.info is an online directory of free video loops to incorporate into your video project. Spice up your ENG or corporate video project with their generous selection of free background animations, transitions, and lower thirds. Matrix style animated digital rain available for free at Movietools.info. No free tool would be complete without their commercial counterpart. If the free selections don’t fit the bill for you, Movietools also offers full sets of matching graphics (at a reasonable price) to use for your ENG project. Complete with full HD virtual sets for use with your green screen material plus matching title, transition, background, and lower third selections. Premium HD Sets can be purchased for $49.99 each.   Keepvid.com (http://www.keepvid.com) + Snipmp3.com (http://www.snipmp3.com) Keepvid is an online tool that allows you to download a copy of videos posted to Vimeo and YouTube. It features a very simple interface. Simply copy and paste the URL of the video in question into the Keepvid interface and it will present you with an MP4 downloadable version of the video. The MP4 file is in a universally playable format, good for Mac, PC, and mobile devices. Keepvid’s interface is simple enough for even the most novice computer user. (click to enlarge) SnipMP3 is created by the same organization as Keepvid, and features an identical user interface. The difference is that, instead of serving up a...

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