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HD for Indies

by Mike Curtis

Mike Curtis writes and runs HD for Indies, a consultancy and website dedicated to using affordable digital technology for independent filmmaking. Mike started HD for Indies after a 15 year digital media career making content for everything from cell phones to cinema screens for clients such as Ford, Dell, Compaq, etc.. As a consultant, he focuses on production and post production hardware, software, and workflows to achieve maximum results at a variety of budget levels....

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I went and saw nitrate prints and Soderbergh on the same evening…

By Mike Curtis | May 03, 2010

One of the benefits of living in LA - I was going to go see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo tonight with a friend, but he emailed me in the afternoon to go see something else instead - Just saw (OK, last night, internet connection down when got home) Steven Soderbergh speak at a UCLA film restoration thing - we watched The Devil Is A Woman, a 1935 black and white Marlene Dietrich film, shown on a rare nitrate print (the dies-from-the-edges, flammable-like-in-Inglorious-Basterds film stock), then we watched a digital projection of The Girlfriend Experience, his shot on Red in 15 days with crew of 12 indie flick I saw previously at Sundance. Notes from Q&A follow: Read More

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Arri Alexa - look out Red!

Records ProRes4444, RAW, or HD-SDI out; killer looking footage, WOW

By Mike Curtis | April 07, 2010

I went to the Arri Alexa rollout - quickie summary - AMAZING looking footage, ProRes to SxS cards onboard! ProRes4444 (w/out alpha) for 4:4:4, and ProResHQ for 4:2:2. Also 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 HD-SDI, also ArriRAW raw bayer data at 3.5K resolution - LOTS of choices. More later, here below are my raw (haha) notes. Will update with pics and more tomorrow. Read More

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Mike’s iPad rant-good device, bogus marketing

It is good, but it ain't "Magical" Steve....

By Mike Curtis | March 29, 2010

With the iPad about to ship in bulk for Saturday delivery and retail launch, some friends on mine were discussing who is getting one and who isn't, and somebody asked for the group's thoughts. What started out as an email didn't get sent, it turned into this here. Apple calls the iPad "magical" and "revolutionary" and that it has an "unbelievable price" - welllllllllll....lets talk about that. Read More

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The Return of Blogwad

The Return of Blogwad

Interesting bits - Bad 3D moviemaking, Lensbaby, and data backup/recovery advice

By Mike Curtis | March 16, 2010

I used to have a semi-regular feature on hdforindies.com where I'd just scoop up all the interesting things that weren't quite worth their own articles, and publish those as what I called a blogwad. Today I'm bringin' it back, with a nice little collection showing my current interests these days - an article on why after-the-fact stereoscopic conversion is weak/lame/bad, a review of the LensBaby selective focus system (which is designed for still lenses, but no reason why I couldn't use it on my Red with my Nikon mount adaptor), and an article on data recovery and good backup techniques (relevant since I accidentally trashed my 800GB iPhoto library recently, and have been poking along at getting it all back together). NEW - Also stuff on Canon 5D Mk II 24p firmware problems and AJA updates.Continues after the jump. Read More

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aperture iphoto oops

Aperture 3.01 update released, update on my iPhoto ‘09 migration

New Aperture addresses many known issues, doesn't fix my colossal mistake

By Mike Curtis | February 24, 2010

Two things:1.) Apple today released Aperture 3.0.1, addressing many of the issues I raised with version 3.02.) I've been busy on my iPhoto '09 to Aperture 3.0 upgrade saga, but did something incredibly dumb, losing me hundreds of hours of effort.Details on both after the jump. Read More

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Another good article on color correction from Stu

Memory colors. Read it.

By Mike Curtis | February 21, 2010

Stu posts up another great article on color correction, and it boils down to making certain things look the way they are EXPECTED to look, rather than what they DO look like.ProLost - Memory Colors: "The truth is, skin tones are just one of a small handful of what I call "memory colors." Memory colors are colors that are, in the minds of your audience, inseparable from certain common objects or events. For example, the sky is so associated with blue that you might feel that you see those two words together as often as you see them individually. The same goes for green and grass.The most basic idea of color correcting is that you are making colors correct, which is to say that you are making objects on the screen appear to be the colors that we know them to be.The funny thing about this seemingly simple task is that it can be quite difficult. And it's difficult for exactly the reason that it's important." Read More

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aperture apple iphoto software

On iPhoto to Aperture 3 migration difficulties and new hard drives

migration bumps in the road, and new drives are "wicked fast"

By Mike Curtis | February 21, 2010

Just a few quick notes as a follow up to the article I wrote last week entitled Aperture 3 announced - time to upgrade from iPhoto ‘09?:1.) migration not so easy2.) damn, modern hard drives are fastExplained after the break. Read More

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Great new blog to read - PostWorld

Great new blog to read - PostWorld

Mike Most's blog on post and cameras worth reading

By Mike Curtis | February 15, 2010

Postworld - post production in the file based ageAnother great blog to read. Mike Most and I have politely quibbled on CML for years, I come at things from a more DIY/small shop/indie perspective, Mr. Most from a more established (read: professionally paid) perspective. I have tremendous respect for the man.He has a new blog that I really like, his experience and expertise are worth paying attention to.He doesn't post as often as I'd like, but when he does, it is worth reading. Some good posts of late:Another Red Day - PostworldiPad - Give it Time - Postworld2010: Fearless Forecast - PostworldScarlet Rays - Postworld Read More

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Giz Explains: Why ISO Is the New Megapixel

Light sensitivity is more important than megapixels. Really.

By Mike Curtis | February 14, 2010

Giz Explains: Why ISO Is the New Megapixel - Digital Cameras - GizmodoBOOM.And THAT is why I'd rather have a 12MP Nikon D3S than a 24MP most anything else - because the D3S has a sufficient but not overly large # of pixels spread across a BIG HONKIN sensor.This is why I was vexed to see Red spec out Scarlet at 5K for S35 sized sensor - I'd MUCH rather have 3K Bayer (to generate a sharp 1080p) with more dynamic range, better low light performance, and less rolling shutter (aka image skew when panning) than a 5K similar sensor.EDIT - see Graeme's response in the comments - it is more subtle than just these issues. Rolling shutter is read/reset, not total pixel count. More pixels may make it more difficult to reduce the read/reset time (I am GUESSING), but higher resolution doesn't HAVE to mean lower read/reset. My bad. Higher resolution also offers the benefit of reduced aliasing, and cleaner signal/noise once scale back down to target size.I'd been meaning to write an article about this, but like most things, if you wait a bit, somebody will write a better one than you were going to.I am, apparently, quite the lazy writer.My backup on this? Arri went with 3K for their next gen digital camera - dynamic range and better high ISO performance beats "high resolution" any day. EDIT - again, see the comments.-mikeThe human eye sees contrast and color before it sees detail. That's why I'd rather have better dynamic range and high ISO performance (with low noise, please) rather than a massive megapixel count on my cameras, be they still or motion. EDIT - results vary - see comments again. Read More

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aperture apple iphoto software

Aperture 3 announced - time to upgrade from iPhoto ‘09?

With a 75,000 image iPhoto library, is it time to migrate to the new Aperture 3?

By Mike Curtis | February 09, 2010

This one's a two-parter - first, Apple unveiled and made available Aperture 3 today, with a TON of new features. Secondly, for those of you who might be in a similar position to me with a bursting iPhoto library of 75,000 images, is it time to Move It On Up To The East Side with Aperture 3? I go over some of the questions and concerns I have about moving 10 years worth of personal pictures and videos from its safe but slow home in iPhoto over to the more professional Aperture 3. Read More

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WOW! Here’s why to go cheap/fast/light!

WOW! Here’s why to go cheap/fast/light!

Camera THROWN from one surfer to another mid-ride!

By Mike Curtis | January 31, 2010

I saw this and had a big surge of "And THAT, M-Fers, is why I got into HD for Indies in the first place!!!! An F900 can SUCK IT!"What we have here are two skimboarders (OK OK I cheated in the headline sub - skimboarders is long/complex/weaker than surfer) with a cheapie GoPro camera....on a broomstick. What happens when you hold up a lightweight, waterproof, wide angle lensed camera on a pole looking back at you while you do sports? Fun stuff! Video after the jump. Read More

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iPad Follow-up Thoughts - thoughts on v2 hardware and v1.5 software

What I'd like to see on future iterations

By Mike Curtis | January 29, 2010

OK, it has been a couple of days to thunk on it.First off - wrong on GPS - it DOES appear to have assisted GPS, not guessed-at GPS - I thought they were referring to using WiFi and 3G to guess at location rather than augment it - this is actually better than plain GPS (such as indoors).I think I'll probably pass on iPad 1.0, but I'm betting within 18 months we'll get a 2.0 with camera/s, lower price, maybe 4G/LTE. As noted, I was wrong about "true" GPS capabilities.I think this product is rolling out the way the original iPhone did - remember when there was no 3G, no apps, no video, no copy/paste, no MMS? They'll catch up with this one too. This establishes Apple in the market, and gives them a place to build on, relatively early in a viable, consumer pitched tablet market (note: prior tablet efforts didn't meet these criteria). I like all the talk about this being an appliance, nota a professional tool. An appliance is something most everyone can use day to day (think a $500 handicam). A professional's tool is more powerful and customizable and allows you to augment and get in under the hood (think a Red One camera). Moreso - does your Mom use appliances every day, or professional tools? Why do you think they call them iMacs and Mac Pros? Hello? For all the high end user complaining (and count me in on that), this isn't aimed at us - look at all the complaints about the original iPhone from a technical perspective. How many tens of millions of those have they shipped? Yeah. That. And I don't think Apple really new it was coming - they pitched it originally as a great Phone, a better iPod, an Internet communicator, and a portable web browser, or something like that. Apps? Never mentioned. Yet that is the biggest point of differentiation I'd say as compared to any other smartphone. Not that other phones don't offer apps, but certainly not the breadth and depth (as in, choice and quality) of what is available on the iPhone. Read More

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Apple’s iPad - All the Details, What It Means For Us

Apple’s iPad - All the Details, What It Means For Us

Details, Analysis, and why this Apple fan is saying 'No Thank You'

By Mike Curtis | January 27, 2010

OK, this one's a two parter. Part One is just the practical details of what it is, what it costs, what it does. Part Two is what it means for users like us - now and in the future. Overall, I think the Apple iPad is interesting, I think it is useful, it demos damn cool and as of today I don't expect to buy one, and why you may not want to either. Read on for the details.Updated a couple of times - come back and read the bottom Read More

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Apple iSlate=Segway 2010?

Just before the tablet launches, Mike puts his foot in his...TBD

By Mike Curtis | January 27, 2010

OK - so it is Tuesday night, the night before the tablet launches. I've been reading all the scuttlebut, and I think it boils down to this - unless Apple pulls a TOTAL miracle out of Steve's scuttlebutt, I don't think the tablet is going to be as big a deal as hyped. Remember Dean Kamen's project Ginger? Whuzzat? Oh yeah, that's what the Segway turned out to be. I think Apple's Tablet is likely to be the Buzz to Bomb again, Segway 2010. Read on for why I think so. Read More

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Band Pro 3D - roundup panel discussion on stereoscopic

Band Pro 3D - roundup panel discussion on stereoscopic

Tim, Bob, Howard and Jeff discuss the good, the bad, and the misconverged of stereoscopic imagery

By Mike Curtis | December 17, 2009

At the Band Pro 3D event today, some industry vets discussed tips, tricks, good, bad, and ugly of stereoscopic imaging and post production, with a huge number of useful tips and suggestions on how to successfully navigate the 3D minefield. My raw notes begin after the jump. Read More

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Band Pro 3D - Technicolor 3D is 35mm film based stereoscopic projection solution

Band Pro 3D - Technicolor 3D is 35mm film based stereoscopic projection solution

24p over/under 35mm 3D projection - whaaaaaa????

By Mike Curtis | December 17, 2009

At the Band Pro 3D event held at Technicolor today, Technicolor showed off their film based 3D solution - they wanted to speed up the 3D rollout with something dependable, affordable, and available- so they went back to the future with a film based 3D projection system. See below all my notes from the panel on it today - continues after the jump. Read More

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Band Pro 3D - Element Technica shows off their 3D camera rig

Quasar rig shown, future Pulsar and Neutron discussed, Q&A

By Mike Curtis | December 17, 2009

Element Technica, best known for their Red accessories, has been working on a 3D camera rig for some months, and was showing it off at the Band Pro 3D event today. The rig is called Quasar, and they discussed their future rigs called Pulsar and Neutron coming in the future (as well as hints of underwater 3D rigs). Lengthy Q&A included, all my raw notes after the jump. Read More

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Band Pro 3D - Iridas’ metadata driven stereoscopic toolset

Band Pro 3D - Iridas’ metadata driven stereoscopic toolset

metadata driven controls for realtime debayer and stereoscopic manipulation

By Mike Curtis | December 17, 2009

Steve Crouch from Iridas gave an impressive demo of their current and future Speedgrade DI versions. Highlights:-support for all the major RAW formats, including SI-2K, Red, Phantom, D21, etc.-realtime playback of all of these-realtime stereoscopic playback of all of these-embedded .look LUT files from Cineform done on set carry all the way through to conform and final grading-nondestructive metadata driven image color and geometry manipulations...and more. Read on. Read More

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Band Pro 3D - Cineform - it is time to look at them again

Band Pro 3D - Cineform - it is time to look at them again

10/12 bit log/linear, uncompressed/wavelet compressed, single file stereoscopic recording, realtime FCP color and geometry, more

By Mike Curtis | December 17, 2009

Cineform:-12 bit linear/10 bit log uncompressed/wavelet compression tech-workflow solutions - Adobe & FCP pretty well worked out-new stereoscopic recording formats - left/right eye in one file - big deal-new FCP workflow allows for realtime, while playing color and making stereoscopic adjustments on the fly AS IT PLAYS-other tools and niftiness-playout to Kona card for 3D stereoscopic displayMy takeaway - I'd long admired their compression tech, but since it lived outside of the RT accelerated engine, whaddaya gonna do? It is still outside the engine, but they are making it do realtime color correction, realtime stereoscopic geometry corrections (X/Y offsets, keystoning, etc.) Should run even better on Gulftown based Macs sometime (next year?), with 6 cores per processor - with they have dual or quad processors then (12 or 24 procs)?DAMNED impressive! Read on after the jump. Read More

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Band Pro 3D - Silicon Imaging’s Impressive use of SI-2K for Stereoscopic (3D) cinematography

Band Pro 3D - Silicon Imaging’s Impressive use of SI-2K for Stereoscopic (3D) cinematography

SI-2K and SI-Mini new stuff - 2 streams, one box, one file; tiny computer for recording to SSD, and more

By Mike Curtis | December 17, 2009

Silicon Imaging opened Band Pro's 3D day with an impressive demonstration of their progress.While Red has garnered most of the attention in the last couple of years, Silicon Imaging has been busy making impressive improvements - some of the goodies seen today:-a comprehensive 3D capture solution, including recording 2 streams (left/right eyes) to one file on one capture system-a tiny little box (1/3 of shoebox sized) that can capture 12 bit RAW files-a comprehensive software UI for doing metadata based geometry corrections to fix things like offset, keystoning, etc. in the 3D rig-further tools to embed nondestructive LUTs (in .look format) for color correction - this metadata stays all through post and works as editable settings in Iridas Speedgrade-and more, read on after the jump. Read More

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