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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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Band Pro’s 3D Symposium - all the latest greatest for acquisition and post for stereoscopic imaging

Band Pro’s 3D Symposium - all the latest greatest for acquisition and post for stereoscopic imaging

Silicon Imaging, Cineform, Iridas, Element Technica, Technicolor and others talk about their latest stereoscopic

By Mike Curtis | December 17, 2009

Executive summary - tools are transitioning from the custom/proprietary to the commercially rentable/purchaseable - but expertise and precision is still required to do it right! I spent the day learning about the latest in 3D hardware and software for acquisition and post - read on for all the geeky details. Read More

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Sony Introduces SR 2.0 Initiative in LA

Sony Introduces SR 2.0 Initiative in LA

went to the Sony event, saw solid state, upgradeable cameras, transcoding hardware

By Mike Curtis | December 09, 2009

I went to the Sony event in Hollywood tonight where they introduced their "SR 2.0" initiatives, including the following:-more datarate options for the codec-upgradeable cameras (35mm and PL mounts)-solid state recording-a hardware/software media transcoder-hints about a 4K camera-3D and DPX on SR tape-it's allllllll about file based workflowsDetails after the jump Read More

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Specdown: Red One vs Epic-X announced features

Specdown: Red One vs Epic-X announced features

Comparing the differences between the existing Red One and the announced (but unshipped) Epic-X S35 camera from Red

By Mike Curtis | November 03, 2009

In case you missed it, Red announced some pretty detailed specs about the new Red Epic-X camera on Friday, October 30th. Details about it are here. This is a quicky, off the cuff list comparing the specifications of the existing Red One to the proposed, but still unshipped, Epic-X 35 camera (same thing as the Epic S35, just slightly goosed). Covers things like form factor, frame rates, resolution, codecs, accessories, etc. If I get something wrong or omit, please say so in the comments and I'll amend ASAP. If wrong is by accident not avarice....(continues after the jump) Read More

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Red Update - revised specs for Epic-X camera

Red Update - revised specs for Epic-X camera

This is the "with luv" upgrade camera for existing Red One owners

By Mike Curtis | November 03, 2009

Red made a slew of new announcements on Friday (Oct 30), and I'm going to be picking through it all. The most significant and detailed new announcement had to do with the specifications for the Epic/Epic-X camera, the closest successor that Red has to the Red One. They made announcements about details nearly a year ago on December 3, 2008, and I covered it extensively here)Article continues after the jump - pictured above is one of the millions of possible configurations of the Epic & Epic-X camera... Read More

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FantasticFest Panels: on set VFX supervision for 3D

FantasticFest Panels: on set VFX supervision for 3D

Jabbar Raisani from Robert Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios talks about on set tools

By Mike Curtis | September 29, 2009

More raw notes from the 3D/Stereoscopic panel at FantasticFest - this one makes a nice bookend with Emmy award winning Sean Fairburn's comments about working on set - Sean talked about shooting concerns, Jabbar talks about VFX supervising on set - both in general, and things to worry about when shooting 3D (as in stereoscopic). Below are my raw notes, and here's a link to pictures of Jabbar's slides on Flickr. Jabbar talks about what information to record on set for visual effects, tools to collect that info on set, and how to communicate effectively both on set and in post. Some really good info in here after the jump! Read More

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FantasticFest Panels: Sean Fairburn on shooting 3D

FantasticFest Panels: Sean Fairburn on shooting 3D

Tips from a pro on shooting & posting Stereoscopic/3D content

By Mike Curtis | September 28, 2009

Continuing my notes from the Future of 3D Panels at FantasticFest, Sean Fairburn (familiar if you read the Cinematographer's Mailing List) gave an excellent talk on the basics of, and advice on, shooting stereoscopic aka 3D moviemaking. My full, raw, unedited, as-I-typed'em notes are below.EDIT - here's pics of his slides on a Flickr set Read More

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FantasticFest Panel: The Future of 3D

FantasticFest Panel: The Future of 3D

Industry experts & pundits prognosticate on the uptake of stereoscopic imaging in the marketplace

By Mike Curtis | September 28, 2009

From 9am to 3pm no movies today, just intense geekery - all panels about 3D and stereoscopic imaging for moviemaking - speakers from Intel, RealD (one of the sponsors), NVidia, Troublemaker Studios (Robert Rodriguez's studio here in Austin), and others spoke today. I'm breaking it up by panel, posting my raw notes from each. Here's the kickoff panel, on The Future of 3D: Read More

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FantasticFest Day 1 - First Squad, Gentlemen Broncos, Rec 2, The Highball

FantasticFest Day 1 - First Squad, Gentlemen Broncos, Rec 2, The Highball

3 movies and a killer new place to hang out in Austin

By Mike Curtis | September 28, 2009

FantasticFest Day 1: First Squad, Gentlemen Broncos, Rec 2, The HighballThe first day of FantasticFest 2009 went exceedingly well - saw 3 movies and went to the opening of a, well, fantastic new venue in Austin, TX. Saw three movies: First Squad, Gentlemen Broncos (latest from director of Napoleon Dynamite), and Rec 2, as well as went to the opening of The Highball, a new bowl/bar/karaoke venue.If I overheard correctly, they've basically rescused and resurrected the entire interior of the Rock 'n Roll Bowl from New Orleans after it shut down - lifting it and dropping it right next to the Alamo Drafthouse and rechristening it The Highball in all its retro 60s glory.Read on for the deets! (That image above is in the gorgeous Paramount Theater on Congress Avenue in Austin, TX) Read More

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I’m here covering FantasticFest 2009!

I’m here covering FantasticFest 2009!

My favorite, most fun film festival is rolling in Austin, TX starting today

By Mike Curtis | September 24, 2009

I'm here attending FantasticFest 2009 as I have the last few years. It is an incredibly fun film festival dedicated to sci-fi, anime, horror, fantasy, and anything else fun/cool they can think of. This is my FAVORITE film festival in terms of having a good time seeing great wachjob movies. Panels on 3D filmmaking, as well as screenings of upcoming movies such as Zombieland, Gentlemen Broncos, Daybreakers, George Romero's Survival of the Dead, and tons of others will add the the awesome mayhem.Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League puts this on with Harry Knowles (lookin' at him now) of Aint It Cool News organize the event and bring a ton o' fun to it - for instance, awards are beer steins, the bigger the better, served FULL - and you're expected to finish it onstage while the audience roars "CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!" Events like the 100 Best Kills, Fantastic Feud (nerd boy movie knowledge), Fantastic Debates (resolved with gloves in the ring), and others give you idea of the tenor of the event.I'll be here all week, folks - if you have some spare time and can get to Austin, now is the time. Read More

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More tidbits on D300S sustained shooting @ 8fps

More tidbits on D300S sustained shooting @ 8fps

Doodling with memory options - how many fps, how long to shoot again?

By Mike Curtis | September 12, 2009

So I got my D300S, and I'm having a lot of fun with it. One of the major features that grabbed my attention was the ability to shoot up to 8 frames a second with it. Asterisk - with extra gear. It also has two memory slots - one for SD/HC, one for CF. Other asterisk - it only "sustains" that frame rate until an internal buffer is full. Then the buffer has to clear by downloading to the memory cards, and only THEN is it ready to shoot a full burst again. You can shoot a partial sustained burst before the buffer clears, but as many shots as until the buffer is full again. I figured I'd doodle around and see what differences might exist with all this. Read on after the jump. Read More

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Nikon D300S vs Canon 7D Specdown

Nikon D300S vs Canon 7D Specdown

I just got my D300S, and then here's the 7D - some thoughts

By Mike Curtis | September 11, 2009

So I got a Nikon D90 almost exactly a year ago - it was my first DSLR, and I was in love - I've totally had a blast with it. But there were a few things it didn't have that I really wanted - I was getting into HDR (high dynamic range) photography, and I was limited to 3 exposures, a maximum of 2 stops apart. And I wanted to shoot timelapse without having to be tethered to a laptop (which had to be powered too), which the D90 couldn't do without the umbilical.I really coveted my friend's D300 with its higher frame rate and intervalometer as well. If only there were a camera that combined the best of both worlds....then Nikon announced the D300S - adding 720p24 HD video, Live View, intervalometer, up to 9 shots in a bracket....I was sold.I got it while I was out of town, and then read about the new Canon 7D.... Read More

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Snow Leopard - Go or No Go?

Snow Leopard - Go or No Go?

Evaluating whether to upgrade yet - how I decided

By Mike Curtis | September 11, 2009

So I was thinking about dipping a toe into Snow Leopard. As I only have two Intel based machines (an 8 core Mac Pro and a black MacBook), I figured I'd try it out on the MacBook first.First thing I did was pick up a copy on sale at MacMall for $25 - cheapest OS upgrade ever!Then I went to Burning Man and didn't care about computers for a week, a process I highly recommend. After I was back for 5 days, then I started to care about computer stuff again, I sat down and started looking at my Dock to see what was the software I use regularly that I'll care about compatibility with.Read on for how I evaluated whether to upgrade, and for which system. Read More

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A few Gotchas with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

A few Gotchas with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

Overall faster, but some QT gotchas and compatibility list

By Mike Curtis | August 28, 2009

OK, a quickie:Snow Leopard is speedy according to the reviews I'm reading, but of particular note for us - (Suspense! More after the jump) Read More

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Native Red Render speeds in new Color 1.5

Good news=native support & controls, bad news=sloooowww

By Mike Curtis | August 25, 2009

Red .R3D render speeds in Color - sloooowwwGood news/bad news - Good news - the new Apple Color version 1.5 (part of the new Final Cut Studo) reads R3D files natively - you can even start a new project and pull in a clip! You have controls for directly accessing the 12 bit RAW Redcode controls in the Primary Color room - this is great! It also does a full resolution, high quality debayer, which is the highest quality way to do this - better than the half res solution that Final Cut Pro utilizes. For the money, this is definitely the easiest, highest quality, most control solution for grading your Red footage. All good news.Bad news - for now, it is SLOOOOOOOOW - on an maximally pimped system*, it was rendering about 1.43 fps - so about 17 times slower than realtime. And this was only with a simple lift/gamma/gain adjustment, no color adjustments, no secondaries, no filters, no rescale, etc., all of which can make the process take even longer. Ouch! Here's to hoping that Apple will support the Red Rocket card to accelerate debayering and scaling of Red .R3D files directly within Color in a future version.Read on for details. Read More

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Video Tour of  Rocketcine-X build 566

Video Tour of Rocketcine-X build 566

Hands on with RocketcineX, Red's software for the Red Rocket R3D accelerator board

By Mike Curtis | August 16, 2009

Red recently released the Red Rocket board, a PCIe card to accelerate the tediously slow conversion of R3D files to something more immediately useful, like QuickTime files, DPX and TIFF sequences.As usual, Red has shipped hardware as soon as the hardware was ready, and the software is playing catchup, so at this time, there is only an alpha stage piece of software called Rocketcine-X that can actually utilize the Red Rocket to accelerate R3D conversions. Red says that it will require only relatively minor changes to applications that already support Red's R3D API in their code, so hopefully vendors will quickly be able to implement support of the Red Rocket card. We're looking at you, Apple, Avid, Adobe. Ahem!So what is Rocketcine-X? It is a blend of Redcine (if you've used that) and RedRushes (if you've used that) that allows you to load a series of R3D shots, grade them individually, tweak the color parameters on a shot by shot basis, and output to QuickTime files or DPX or TIFF sequences, and export batches while you keep working. That is the good news. The bad news is that this is in development, alpha level software with a lot of bugs and features omitted, such as:-you can't save a Rocketcine-X project-you can't scale with letterboxing - crucial for 2:1 footage to fit properly into a 16:9 movie or image sequence.-you can't add windowburned timecode readouts at all.Oh, and as usual for Red, there is zero documentation at this early stage in the game. (EDIT: To be fair, their approach is of the "If someone can find this useful, lets get it to them ASAP and we'll follow up with docs/updates ASAP.")Fortunately, it is somewhat straightforward, but here's a video tour of the features and some of the limitations I made. It is long, about 22 minutes, but is only 32MB, and if you watch it, you'll know the ins and outs of the program pretty well. Video and bug list after the jump. Read More

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New ProRes info - Data Rate Chart

and other useful info from Apple's white paper on ProRes

By Mike Curtis | August 14, 2009

Apple posted a handy white paper on the new ProRes codecs, and there's some good stuff in there.I went digging through the ProRes white paper that Apple posted with the release of Final Cut Pro 7, and found some useful info (which I'm betting they won't mind m highlighting here). Read on. Read More

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Apple’s much improved laptop repair service

Much better than 5 years ago

By Mike Curtis | August 13, 2009

Several years ago, my Mom's original iBook (the blue toilet lid looking ones) got goofed up - I broke one tiny piece of a keyboard key spring while upgrading a hard drive or something. LIterally, it was a tiny wishbone piece about 6mm long - I just needed a new one of those and I could fix the rest. Could I get that from Apple? Nope - it was $400 to get the entire keyboard replaced - the only option offered - that was my last Apple laptop repair experience.Fast forward, I was in a car wreck at the very end of last year (talk about going out with a bang) that rolled the car - everything inside went on Tumble Dry for a few seconds.Ever since then, I've had a persnickety problem with the WiFi on my first gen Macbook (2GHz black model) - once it warmed up, the usable WiFi range would drop down to just a few feet - I had to sit in arm's reach of the Time Capsule to get a signal. No couch surfing, no bed email - bummer.Read on to see how things have improved. Read More

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Caveats of upgrading to Final Cut Server 1.5

Caveats of upgrading to Final Cut Server 1.5

Mix and match FCP 6&7 and Intel/PPC? Bad idea!

By Mike Curtis | August 13, 2009

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: If you are in a mixed Intel/PPC environment, think very carefully before committing to Final Cut Server 1.5, there are many caveats. I don't recommend a mixed FCP 6/7 environment with Final Cut Server 1.5, nor do I recommend installing Final Cut Server 1.5 in a primarily FCP 6 environment if you want distributed processing for Final Cut Server 1.5.EDIT: DO NOT install the Qmaster Node for Final Cut Server 1.5 on a Final Cut Pro 6.x box! I'm still trying to get Compressor to work a day later after uninstalling and then reinstalling. UGH!Read on after the break for the details, such as the dangers of using the new Qmaster node with older Final Cut Pro 6 installed. Read More

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DGA Digital Day 2009 Conference Notes

here's my notes from sitting in on the panels

By Mike Curtis | August 02, 2009

This will be looooooong - these are my raw notes, as taken, of sitting in on the panels at the DGA Digital Day today. I saw almost everything, but skipped out on some VFX stuff to go see the footage demos, which I found a bit disappointing due to incompleteness - no D21 or Sony camera footage. But it was VERY helpful to see camera demos back to back to back to get a sense of what they could do. Coverage begins after the jump. And since it is my raw, unedited notes as taken, no complaints - you get what I typed without looking, so if I typo'd, yeah. I typo'd. The best stuff is the one on film distribution - indies, take heart - there IS hope, you just gotta play a different game. Read More

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Notes from DGA Digital Day 2009 vendor area & camera footage demos

Notes from DGA Digital Day 2009 vendor area & camera footage demos

Gidgets and gadgets galore - updates!

By Mike Curtis | August 02, 2009

OK, here's a two parter - went to the DGA Digital Day (that's the Directors Guild of America to you) and it was basically in two parts - sit down presentations, and a vendor area to wander. Here's my notes from the vendor area, after the jump. EDIT - and I put my notes from the camera vendor demo footage in here too - seemed a better place for it. Read More

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