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Fresh DV

by Matthew Jeppsen & Kendal Miller

Matthew Jeppsen is the founder of FreshDV and a digital video shooter and editor. By most reports he is powered entirely by coffee. Kendal Miller has over 10 years experience in the production industry. Currently he is working as Director of Photography in Chicago, IL where he resides with his wife Kendra. He works on a wide variety of projects ranging from commercial to independent film projects, working on one of the first commercial Red projects in the midwest area. When he's not shooting film or video he enjoys still photography as a hobby....

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S/N Ratios Demystified

Understanding signal to noise and how it impacts your image quality in a camera system.

By Kendal Miller | September 25, 2008

In light of a recent discussion I had with a photographer about the grain inherent in high ISO speeds, I thought I would take minute and write about Signal to Noise Ratios and how they affect image processing in both video and photography. I will try my best to explain this subject as I understand it. I am no electrical engineer however, and this subject can quickly delve into the physics of electronics deeper than I fully comprehend so if you have more observation or clarity on the subject please let me know in the comments below. Ok here we go. So what is a signal to noise ratio? Read More

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Audio Peak vs Average Levels: How our ears perceive loudness

Dynamic Audio Feels Louder

By Matthew Jeppsen | September 22, 2008

Recently I posted a link to TurnMeUp.org, a project that aims to restore the dynamics and range of sound in today's audio production. The problem is that consumers are being fed increasingly over-compressed, over-produced music and audio, and it's created a loudness war of sorts. What's really interesting about all this, is that human ears actually perceive more dynamic music as louder. There's a very informative post over at the Mastering Media blog that deals with this, check it out. Read More

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Can Ikonoskop’s DII Digital Cinema Camera Coexist with Red?

5 Reasons why I believe Ikonoskop has found a niche with the A-Cam dII

By Matthew Jeppsen | September 19, 2008

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Behind the Scenes at a superfad Phantom shoot

Production of Kung Fu HD high-speed spots

By Matthew Jeppsen | September 19, 2008

superfad is the creative production company behind some of the most compelling uses of high-speed video that I've seen to date. When Vision Research needed a demo of their Phantom camera for NAB 2007, they tapped superfad and DOP Stephen McGehee for a three-minute demo that showed off the camera's high-framerate possibilities. The result was impressive. You can see a fairly detailed behind the scenes featurette on that project here. Another recent project was a few essential elements-themed spots for a Kung Fu HD channel. A photographer working to capture stills alongside the 1000fps Phantom has posted a short behind the scenes clip on the project, you can watch it below. Two of the finished superfad ads are posted in their high speed gallery. Enjoy the slow motion goodness. Read More

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Boris Motion Key plugin restores my childlike belief in Magic

This sweet plugin is quite possibly a witch. Burn 'er!

By Matthew Jeppsen | September 18, 2008

I just watched a demo video for the Boris Continuum plugin called Motion Key. The instructor showed how unbelievably easy it was to use Motion Key to remove a moving foreground object, in this case a car traveling across a locked-off street scene. In a few clicks, the vehicle was gone. Bam! Magic. This looks like a seriously cool plugin... Read More

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Creative Titling Inspiration

Drawing creative inspiration from film title sequences

By Matthew Jeppsen | September 17, 2008

Titles are one of those areas in editing that at times can seem like an afterthought. With all the time and budget constraints in today's demanding editing schedules, titling often takes a back seat. But when creative editors have the time and budget to devote to it, a strong opening title sequence has the potential to be a story within a story, setting the tone and pace for the film or production to follow. One only need watch the splendid intro of "Catch Me If You Can" to be reminded of this. Read on for some practical examples of innovative title sequences, and a few resources to draw inspiration from in your own editing projects. Read More

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Sony XDCAM EX and SxS making industry inroads

JVC Embraces Sony solid-state media

By Matthew Jeppsen | September 16, 2008

An interesting announcement that emerged from IBC this year is the news that JVC will be supporting Sony's XDCAM EX long-GOP MPEG format as well as SxS solid-state media cards. Initially the format and media will be implemented in JVC's KA-MR100G docking recorder accessory for ProHD GY-HD200 and HD250 camcorders. Read on for details... Read More

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What Indie Gear Makers Can Learn from Apple

Form, Function, and Quality Packaging. And the lack thereof.

By Matthew Jeppsen | September 11, 2008

Small indie companies arguably form much of the backbone of the production industry, and deliver some of the most innovative solutions to end users. They are by and large forward-thinking, in touch with users, and extremely nimble. They also have a unique set of challenges. In addition to producing a polished product that is 100% functional, their gear must be able to hold up to hard use and the daily rigors of production. And while form should always follow function, gear should at minimum look professional and polished. And preferably it should be sexy! Alas, those guidelines are all too often the exception and not the rule. Another area that is consistently overlooked is packaging and manuals. Which is a shame, because those last two items are literally the first things a new owner sees when they tear into their box. Read More

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Turn Me Up! Audio Mixing and the Loudness war

Bringing Dynamics Back To Music

By Matthew Jeppsen | September 09, 2008

Turn Me Up! is a site that aims to bring back the full range of sound and dynamics in popular music. You can learn more about the issue of excessive loudness and find out what you can do to help at www.turnmeup.org. The main aim of the organization is primarily the music industry, but I think we editors and post-producers also feel the pressure to deliver the loudest mix within legal limits. Audio compressors are powerful tools, but can be overused at times. It can't always be helped, but is something to consider the next time you are in the middle of a mixing session. Read More

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Zylight Z50 and Z90 First Impressions

Using LED lighting on and off camera in event production

By Matthew Jeppsen | September 08, 2008

I first read about Zylight LED lighting systems in the summer of 2007. At NAB 2008 FreshDV made a point to stop by their booth and get a demo of the lighting technology, and we were duly impressed. You can view that video at the end of this article. Shortly after returning from NAB, a friend of mine ordered one of the Zylight systems. We had been using some Swit LED on-camera lights for certain events, but were open to other possibilities. At NAB we were really impressed with the configurability the Zylight system offers...dimmable output, instant color shift without using physical filters or gels, Daylight and Tungsten presets, and the ability to network a number of Zylights together for centralized control. So after NAB my buddy ordered a Z50, and when it arrived was so impressed with the build quality that he ordered a Z90 model almost immediately. Read More

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On Set with FreshDV: An AJA IoHD Case Study

Using ProRes via the Io to simplify on-set capture

By Matthew Jeppsen | September 08, 2008

In late February 2008, FreshDV conducted a series of HD camera tests in Chicago. Cameras tested included the Panasonic Varicam, Panasonic HPX-3000, Panasonic HVX-200, Sony F900, Sony XDCAM PDW-350, Sony XDCAM PMW-EX1, Red One, and an Arri film camera for a baseline comparison to 35mm. In addition to shooting test charts and noting comparative data on each camera, one of the major goals of the test was to create a comparative, controlled real-world studio shooting situation that would stress each camcorder and show the unique strengths and weaknesses of each system's codec, lens, and imager. To that end, each camcorder was to shoot the test charts and scenes in both it's native recording format and codec, with an uncompressed reference capture for comparison. This obviously created an interesting problem, as the number of formats, resolutions, framerates, and output features for each camera varied widely. So we knew that capture and image monitoring was going to be an issue to be addressed well in advance. Read More

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Seven Rules for Film and Video Editors

Tried-and-true principles to guide you in the edit suite

By Matthew Jeppsen | September 08, 2008

Image Credit: Ryan Baxter

Edward Dmytryk, film industry legend in the directorial and editorial fields, enumerates seven rules to follow in his text On Film Editing (Focal Press, 1984).Rule One: Never make a cut without a positive reason."The only reason for using another cut is to improve the scene."It is unwise to cut film adhering to arbitrary principles, such as keeping all shots under a certain length. While Dmytryk argues that every cut must be made at a precise and perfect point, he gives no indication that these particular edit points are governed by anything other than the drive to improve what the scene intends to communicate to the audience. Some scenes require no editing at all if the composition and camera movement are strong enough to support the intent of the scene. Other scenarios, particularly action and montage sequences, require constant cuts in order to communicate the scene's intent. If another take does not make emotional truth clearer or capture the action more appropriately than the current take, then by all means do not make a cut. Read More

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Playback Apple’s ProRes 422 Codec on Windows

By Matthew Jeppsen | August 29, 2008

Apple has released a download for Windows users that enables users to view and play ProRes files. Apple ProRes QuickTime Decoder 1.0 for Windows can be downloaded here. Read More

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Showdown at the RWVC Corral: Mac Encoder Shootout Redux

Revisiting Mac encoding options with comparative tests

By Matthew Jeppsen | August 28, 2008

After reading last week's Real World Video Compression article that compared four Mac compression tools, I suggested a more comparative test that took time to standardize encoding settings to level the playing field. In the initial shootout, default templates and encoding settings were used for the most part. That's not to say that the initial test isn't useful information...in fact, it may be more useful to the majority of users that just want a "set it and forget it" approach to encoding (apologies to Ron Popeil for borrowing his catchphrase). But for more advanced users who will immediately begin pushing knobs and digging into the encoding templates, a comparative test is invaluable for determining what kind of quality and encode times you can expect from each solution. And reviewer Andy Beach has done just that with his latest update to the article. Read More

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Encoder Shootout of 4 Mac Compression Tools

Crunching the numbers on tools that crunch pixels

By Matthew Jeppsen | August 22, 2008

Real World Video Compression has posted a Encoder Shootout between three common Mac software compression options, and one hardware assisted solution. The disparity in price between the tools tested is enormous...with VisualHub at under $25, and Episode Pro nearly $1000. Much like the pricing, the speed and quality of the results were varied. Read More

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Redrock Panel on Independent Filmmaking

Four seasoned filmmakers offer advice to indies

By Matthew Jeppsen | July 21, 2008

One of the excellent Super Sessions at NAB 2008 was a panel discussion that featured filmmakers Stu Maschwitz, Taylor Wigton, Dave Basulto, and Alex Lindsay. The panel was organized and sponsored by Redrock Micro, with Brian Valente helping moderate the discussion. Following the presentation and Q&A, the panel shot a short summary presentation and Q&A with FreshDV. We believe that this fifteen-minute discussion will be of great interest to independent and low-budget filmmakers, the professionals on the panel dispense a lot of wisdom and realistic advice that you can put to immediate use. You can watch the video embedded below and via our podcast feed. Read More

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FreshDV Reviews the SGfollow focus

Putting the new unit from Shoot35 through it's paces

By Matthew Jeppsen | July 13, 2008

Last fall FreshDV posted the results from our 2007 Follow Focus Shootout, which compared 5 different popular models for 15mm rod configurations. We intend to continue updating that review series as new models and features hit the market, and to that end we are offering this video review of Shoot35's follow focus, the SGfollow focus unit. You may know Shoot35 more commonly as the makers of the SGPro 35mm adapter. The SGfollow focus is a £199 unit that now ships with a standard accessory port...our review unit did not include the accessory port, only the 4mm connection shaft that the port attaches to. More details on this update here.You can watch the review below, or view all 6 follow focus reviews conveniently in one playlist here. Read More

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Digital Cinema Course DVD Review

Reviewing Rush Hamden's DVD series for filmmakers (with video excerpts)

By Matthew Jeppsen | June 03, 2008

Digital Cinema CourseReviewed by Kendal Miller, FreshDV Contributing EditorMSRP: $439-$529Fresh Score: 4/5Fresh Points: This series provides an incredible wealth of information previously attainable only at school or on set. The price places it firmly in the reach of most independent filmmakers making it readily accessible.Stale Points:At times the presentation runs long, and I would like to see more first person presentation of the material rather than continual voice-over. I also often found myself craving more advanced, high end setups with more elaborate lighting etc.Film School on a BudgetIt has been said that when you are through learning, well, then you are through. This is especially true in an industry that is as rapidly evolving as ours. I tend to subscribe to this philosophy myself and make every attempt to set aside time routinely for professional development. Whenever I'm on set I always make a concerted effort to take aways some new trick, or tip doesn't matter if its the Assistant Director, the Gaffer, or a Production Assistant. I want to sharpen my skills and therefore my marketability.The Digital Cinema Course, produced by Rush Hamden, offers the possibility of learning a lot of information, 18 DVDs and 24hours worth to be exact. The course is divided into four parts which I will refer to as modules. The command pack consist of four modules Gear Guide (DCT-GG07), Basic Production (DCT-BP), Movie Production (DCT-MP), and Lighting Set (DCT-LS). There are several other optional courses things such as audio production, green screen, and compositing available as well. Read on as we examine the aims and goals of this course, an overview of the course and then what will you learn, what you won't. Read More

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FreshDV Review: Cinevate Ballare Dolly

A first look at Cinevate's camera dolly solution

By Matthew Jeppsen | May 01, 2008

We recently had the opportunity to check out Cinevate's Ballare dolly solution. The Ballare is almost entirely constructed of aluminum, and as such is quite rigid. It breaks down into a relatively small size for transport, and weighs around 45 lbs. It can run on schedule 40 PVC pipe, or any other 1" or 1 1/4" track. This was a pre-production model, and it is my understanding that since our test Cinevate has integrated a few of our suggestions into the production model, like a more robust pushbar design. For a detailed look at the dolly system, watch the video below. Read More

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Free Non-Linear Editing Software

Tools that cut and convert video without breaking the bank

By Matthew Jeppsen | April 09, 2008

I was looking for some lightweight NLE/cutting software solutions recently. Obviously Windows users have Windows Movie Maker, and Mac users have iMovie. Neither are particularly lightweight, and both have a number of feature restrictions. So in the interests of sharing info, here are a few other NLE options. Note that I haven't had time, resources, or the inclination to thoroughly test all these software packages. Please report back in the comments if a particular solution was helpful or if you experienced any issues. Read More

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