50 Mpbs = Pretty Pictures
By Bruce A Johnson | November 16, 2010
Photo by Adam Wilt, NAB 2010
It's hard to believe that twelve years have passed since I bought my first DV camcorder. My 1998 purchase? A Canon XL-1. At the time it was just about the closest thing you could buy to a professional camcorder for under $20,000. I remember my engineer-friends sniffing at the XL-1. Their biggest gripe? That DV only recorded 480 lines of video (instead of a full 486,) at only 25 MBit/sec in a 4:1:1 colorspace. "No TV station will ever air that (expletive)," they barked. Boy, were they wrong. Canon kept coming out with updated versions of the XL-1, adding better viewfinders, some excellent lenses, and finally HDV capacity. But somehow the XL-series never seemed to gain the respect among broadcasters that their world-leading"big" lenses enjoy, possibly in part due to perceived "bandwidth bias."Well, Canon has knocked that final issue out of the park.
...Without Actually Moving Anything
By Bruce A Johnson | November 10, 2010
We've all gotten our footage back to the edit bay and found something we didn't want in the frame. Light stand, audio cable, water bottle, you name it. What if we could remove irritants from the picture BEFORE the fact - without actually moving anything? Check the next page for an amazing demo.
Premiere Pro Works For Me
By Bruce A Johnson | November 09, 2010
I can clearly remember my first experience with Adobe Premiere. It was in the early 1990's, and I was working full-time in the News Department at Wisconsin Public Television. I had managed to talk the news director into buying me a really new-fangled device - a desktop computer. I believe it was a first-generation Pentium, maybe 90Mhz. I had been into computers since about 1984, and had composed music and scored a lot of TV programs using Atari computers. Geekery was in my blood. So once I got the Pentium, I was poised on the launching pad for what was to come.And then I got a copy of Adobe Premiere, version 3 I think it was. And I couldn't make heads nor tails of it. Strange, buggy, crash-prone, you name it, it was just not good.
Image Stabilization Software
By Bruce A Johnson | November 03, 2010
If you have been paying attention to PVC lately, you may have read my recent article "An Aerial Adventure." If you haven't, go ahead and have a look. I'll wait.There, now wasn't that fun? You may remember that my experience with Loran Nordgren and his AirCam aircraft wasn't entirely successful. While the pictures were certainly usable, even the combination of the Canon XL-H1's optical lens stabilizer and the Kenyon Labs KS-8 gyro wasn't enough to smooth out all the buffeting caused by being out in the wind at 70 MPH.Software to the rescue!
One Chart To Rule Them All
By Bruce A Johnson | October 27, 2010
My buddy Mark Suszko sent along this link to a great flowchart which takes the mystery out of choosing the right typeface for you project. Me, I want a copy in poster-size! Thanks to Gizmodo, too.
Shooting From A... Flying Canoe?
By Bruce A Johnson | October 25, 2010
The phone rings,about a month ago. It's Paul, the scheduler at Wisconsin Public TV (my "day job.")"Hey Bruce, whatcha doing on Friday October 8?""Looks like I'm available. What's up?""These folks doing a documentary on Aldo Leopold need some aerials out near LaCrosse. You want to do it?"
The Little Box That Gould Goes Gen 2
By Bruce A Johnson | September 23, 2010
It seems inconceivable that I first recommended the Roku box over two years ago, but it is true. This is one of the times when being an early adopter has been a great experience - with every passing month, the Roku has gotten more functional and has added many more channels, including Pandora, Leo LaPorte's TWiT Network, Vimeo, Revision 3, MLB.com, Flickr, and dozens of others. Of course, not all of the channels are to everyone's taste, but you can usually find something to watch in there.Engadget has just posted a fairly in-depth review of the new Roku XDS box, with support for video up to 1080p (there is some of that on Vimeo, but not much anywhere else - yet.) When the baseline Roku HD only costs $59, that falls into impulse-buy territory for many folks. Seems like this is a harbinger of even more splintering in the distribution business, and it is exciting to watch.
Attorneys: "Copyright, Schmopyright"
By Bruce A Johnson | September 21, 2010
Got an interesting email last week from a company called ivi. (yes, that's a lower-case "i".) Maybe you got it too. It contained a link to an application for Windows computers which allows them to receive the over-the-air broadcast signals of stations around the US. The initial list is pretty comprehensive, including network affiliates in New York City and Seattle. I downloaded the app, and it is really pretty slick, with decent (but certainly not HD) picture quality. The business plan seems to be to charge users $5 a month or so for access to scads of TV channels over the Internet.Of course, most of the broadcasters in the US look poorly on anyone re-transmitting their stuff. But the interesting twist to ivi is that, instead of waiting for the network lawyers to come disembowel them, they are taking the fight to the networks - through the court system. As soon as the service launched, ivi was snowed in with a blizzard of cease-and-desist letters from NBC, ABC/Disney, CBS, WGBH and others. However, ivi seems to think that re-distribution of broadcast signals over the Internet is allowable due to a gray area in copyright law. From an ivi press release:The Complaint states that ivi is legally operating under U.S. Copyright Law. According to section 16 of page 3 of the Complaint, "The Copyright Act expressly authorizes secondary transmissions of copyrighted works embodied in primary transmissions. For example, the Copyright Act expressly approves of the secondary transmission of an original television broadcast where the secondary transmission is subject to a statutory license. Under Section 111 of the Copyright Act, statutory licensing fees are paid periodically to the Register of Copyrights in accordance with an established scale and schedule. Section 111 further provides that the secondary transmission of an over-the-air primary transmission is not an infringement of copyrights in the works contained in the primary transmission."So, if I read this right, if ivi pays the federal Register of Copyrights previously-set fees, the airwaves are fair game. Of course, I Am Not A Lawyer !!!!! ,so my interpretation of THEIR interpretation might be (and probably is) flawed. And even if they do win this case, you can assume it won't take long for the pertinent sections of copyright law to be tightened up and exclude such signal-.... what's the proper term? Jacking? Theft? Rebroadcast? Entrepreneurialism?Keep an eye on ivi. Even if they get crushed, this is a subject that is going to come up over and over in the next few years.And by the way...I Am Not A Lawyer !!!!!
The miniCASTER Is A Cool Piece Of Kit
By Bruce A Johnson | September 10, 2010
Ive been to the NAB about 13 times (including as a wide-eyed college senior in 1980) but I've never made it to the European version, the IBC in Amsterdam. It is going on right now, and as a result my Email box is stuffed full of press releases. Most of them are pretty "meh," but as a broadcaster who is used to microwave and satellite trucks hauling signals back to stations, the demo that you can see here from miniCASTER just makes me tingle. It relies on several 3G and/or WiFi signals to get a broadcastable SD or HD signal onto the Net and back to...well, pretty much where ever you want it to go. They claim latency of less than 3 seconds and IFB to the distant reporter and camera as a part of the signal. Of course, no prices are listed on the site, so it is a little hard to tell how cost-effective it would be, but if they can deliver on the promises at a reasonable price this technology is poised to be truly game-changing. Give it a look.
You'd think he'd have known this by now...
By Bruce A Johnson | September 07, 2010
Here's the old-guy rant:Way back in 1977 I went to a concert at Salem State College in Massachusetts (I was a sophomore at Boston University at the time) to see a pretty hot regional group called the Pousette-Dart Band. They were great, but it was the opening act that really caught my attention. Three guys and a female bass player hauled all their own gear out on to the tennis court that was the stage of the day and proceeded to mystify - and electrify - the very small crowd. The lead singer looked like he was having a seizure most of the time, but the music was really good, if weird.You guessed it, I saw the Talking Heads just before
It Ain't All Skittles And Beer...
By Bruce A Johnson | August 22, 2010
Well, I've been editing with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and the nVidia Quadro CUDA video card for about six months now, and it has been an interesting ride. You can check out my starting impressions in blog posts here, here and here. But what's the latest?I recently had one of those Tevye "Fiddler On The Roof" moments - you know, when he sings "Sunrise, Sunset" and weeps about how quickly his children grow up? Well, the summer of 2010 has been like that for me. It seems like yesterday that I was sliding the nVidia card into my fairly-new HP z800 eight-core Xeon edit workstation. Blink twice and it is the end of August. To say this has been a busy summer of editing is a gross understatement. I've shot and edited around 25 videos of varying length for the craft industry, did multi-cam shoots and edits for several concerts, did a commercial for a Vermont bed & breakfast and managed to pack in a a wedding shoot and edit to boot. I would love to say that the experience was flawless...but I can't. I've had almost as many crashes with Premiere CS5 as I did when I was running CS4 with what was usually a fairly buggy Matrox RT.X2 card. Two of my larger projects consisted of lots of HDV footage that was shared between several different timelines. One of the projects had over 300 different HDV clips. If you have edited with Premiere for long, I'm sure you had a project that, when loading, just grinds to a halt. In this case, what seemed to be the offending clip was always a Quicktime .MOV file, and when you load up 300+ clips and the machine freezes at "12 clips remaining" to load, it'll make you pull your hair out. Interestingly, even shiny-new CS5 still offers the workaround that it's predecessors did:
Pogoplug For Cheap!
By Bruce A Johnson | August 17, 2010
Ever heard of Pogoplug? It's a really cool tool that, once you plug some USB storage and the Internet into it, instantly becomes a secure FTP solution. And it requires little setup beyond what I described in the previous sentence. You can go to this link to learn more. I use it to allow clients to see rough cuts, and they can send me graphics, scripts and such. It's really bulletproof. It is limited to the upload speed of your Internet connection, so having a good pipe is a good idea, but it even works with the painfully slow DSL connection I have.Buy.com is selling the Pogoplug for $47 with free shipping! I doubt this will last for long, so get on the stick. Highly recommended.
A little bit of the future...today!
By Bruce A Johnson | July 09, 2010
Think of all the technological advances that are perpetually "just around the corner." Nuclear fusion energy comes to mind, as do flying cars and Cool-Whip that tastes like the real thing. I guess that list has just gotten shorter, though; I have a real, functioning Organic Light Emitting Diode video monitor in my hands! The Sony PVM-740 7.4" field/studio monitor was pretty popular at NAB 2010, and the potential advantages of OLED technology have had a lot of us drooling since it was announced about...what, 15 years ago? (KIDDING.)
Thanks to our PVC Readers!
By Bruce A Johnson | June 23, 2010
Many thanks to all the PVC readers that responded to my anguished plea for color correction help! You can see the before and after results above. Not perfect, but good enough for my purposes. Five readers (if you include Chris Meyer) offered ideas, but Eric Addison was both timely and pretty damn good. He even set up a small Premiere Pro sequence to be downloaded, unzipped and opened. Once the sequence was loaded, it was no big deal to save the color correction preset and re-use it in my four-camera HDV concert coverage. As you can see, the yellow was exiled and the shot was saved! Thanks, Eric!And a tip 'o the bike helmet to PVC readers Portishead, Jim Hines and PerroneFord for sharing their ideas too!
By Bruce A Johnson | June 17, 2010
A Sony SRW-9000 for only $95,000? You shouldn't have! Especially since (as far as I can tell) it doesn't even come with a lens! How many of these things can Sony sell anyway?Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, but if you really want to buy me something, a Sony EX3 would do fine, thanks.
Hey you smart guys - help a guy out? Please?
By Bruce A Johnson | June 08, 2010
Hey folks, remember I mentioned that one of my first big projects with the CS5/nVidia Mercury/CUDA combo is a choral concert? Well, it is time to cut that puppy. I recorded the concert with 3 Canon HDV cameras, which look great, and my brand-spankin'-new GoPro Hero HD camera. Problem is, I didn't have time to white balance the GoPro (in fact, I'm not even sure how you would go about it. Gotta re-read the manual.) In any event, I clamped the GoPro to a light stand and pointed it at the piano keyboard. Blind, of course, since the GoPro has no monitor, but I had a good feeling about the framing. What I didn't count on was how far out the white balance would get. You can look at the thumbnails on this page, or go find full-sized .TIFs of the GoPro shot and a reference from the back of the church at these Flick addresses:The wide shot from the back of the churchandthe piano shot.Honestly, I'd be happy just to get the piano shot *close* to the wide shot, but at this point I will take what I can get. BTW, I would suggest you give tips using the basic PremPro color-correction tools, like 3-Way Color Corrector and such. I've gone through a dozen interations, sometimes stacking different CC filters, but so far no luck.I'm just a simple country videographer - all this color-correction stuff isn't in my native skill set. See what you can do and educate us all! Fame awaits (in ot her words, I'll post the names of the folks that come closest.)Thanks in advance!
Hummingbirds you can reach out and touch, almost.
By Bruce A Johnson | June 07, 2010
Check out this behind-the-scenes video from PBS' "Nature" series on how the producers captured ultra-close-up, ultra-slo-mo footage of hummingbirds for an upcoming show. Absolutely fascinating!
One Mystery SOLVED!
By Bruce A Johnson | June 03, 2010
If you have been following my ongoing Adobe CS5/nVidia shakedown cruise (here's Part 1, and here's Part 2) you might have read my whiny cry:
Or would that be "Second Impressions"?
By Bruce A Johnson | June 01, 2010
Sorry about dropping from sight for the last couple of weeks, but when the day-job calls, it calls with a vengeance. I also apologize for the lack of photos, but I just didn't think to do screengrabs at all the right times. Bad editor! No doughnut!As I was saying...
or..."Breaking the First Rule of NLE, Part 3"
By Bruce A Johnson | May 19, 2010
I guess once you break the big rules, you get used to it. You may remember my mini-series from last January, when I replaced a several-year-old Dell Pentium-D workstation with a fire-breathing HP Z-800 eight-core Xeon box. At that time, I installed my existing Matrox RT.X2 video accelerator card and an ATI Radeon HD4870 video card, to work in collaboration with Adobe Creative Suite CS4. The system ran pretty well, but it wasn't a month later that the news started leaking out about something big on the horizon - something called Mercury and CUDA, to be included in the new version of Adobe Creative Suite - CS5.April brought my yearly trek to Las Vegas for the NAB Convention, and one of the first places I went to was the Adobe booth. The demos of of the Mercury engine running with the nVidia CUDA cards were incredibly impressive. I knew instantly I wanted to torture-test this combo. A few phone calls by the PVC brass brought to my door (eventually) an nVidia Quadro FX4800 video card and the Adobe CS5 Master Collection. As what seems to be the lone member of PVC that edits on a Windows box, I intend to use this combo for ongoing torture tests for PVC. But first I had to see if it could even be installed in a calm and controlled manner.