• Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K deployed on music videos
Pentatonix on the set
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Director/videographer Ben Hausdorff used the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K to shoot music videos for Pentatonix’s new Ariana Grande medley, as well as for Kirstin Maldonado’s cover of Selena’s “I Could Fall in Love.”

Pentatonix is a three time Grammy® Award winning and multi platinum selling group. Hausdorff has worked on a number of music videos, BTS videos for the band’s YouTube channel and concert videos for both Pentatonix and Maldonado (who’s also a Pentatonix member).

The music video of the Grande medley captured the  harmonies of the five members of the Pentatonix group singing together, and was one of the fastest trending videos on YouTube, gaining more than five million views in less than a month.
One of the aspects of the camera that Hausdorff found especially useful was the large monitor on its back. “It is always better when the members of Pentatonix can see the result of each take, but with most cameras’ monitors it is not possible because they are so small and do not show a quality image. But with the Pocket Cinema Camera’s large back monitor, they could all see exactly what they needed with each shot.”

For Maldonado’s new cover, Hausdorff used the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K with a larger lighting set up than with the Pentatonix video. This video was also run and gun style, with Hausdorff constantly moving and capturing Maldonado singing in front five other musicians. “We wanted to get a real cinema look and feel for the video, but also capture a warm feel to it. At the same time we did not have the budget to go out and rent a lot of gear. The Pocket camera produces cinema quality images in such a small design that I was able to just use that camera and be as mobile as I needed to be,” said Hausdorff.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 30, 2019
Foundry's Nuke earns designation as a Netflix Post Technology Alliance product

Foundry, a developer of creative software for the media, entertainment and digital design industries, has joined the Netflix Post Technology Alliance (PTA) with Nuke, its award-winning node-based compositor, as part of the “VFX” technology category. 

The Netflix PTA program helps companies that build and market products used in the production and delivery of Netflix Original productions. This program is designed specifically for technology partners, including software and hardware developers of tools which are used in the postproduction and delivery of Netflix Original productions.

Products in this program are evaluated and tested to ensure they meet the Netflix technical and workflow requirements, and their manufacturers are committed to providing the highest level of innovation, support and customer service.

Nuke is used by artists from all around the world to create breathtaking visual effects sequences.  Nuke has been integral in the making of every VFX Oscar-winning film, award-winning TV shows and commercials for more than a decade. Support for industry standard workflows using OpenEXR, ACES, and a robust Python API and C++ SDK make Nuke a tool of choice for VFX pipelines.  

Jody Madden, CEO, Foundry commented, “We are delighted that Nuke received the Netflix Post Technology Alliance product designation. Our missions to deliver exceptional quality via innovative workflows are completely aligned. Partnering with the Netflix Post Technology Alliance ensures we can further the industry together by supporting all content creators, from the smallest teams to the largest studios, in delivering ambitious projects to the exacting standards of Netflix.”

  • Friday, Jul. 26, 2019
TV Academy adds Science & Technology Subgroup

The Television Academy has announced the addition of a new Science and Technology Subgroup within the Lighting Camera & Technical Arts Peer Group for individuals who have developed or uniquely employed technologies that have been adopted by the television industry to enable or advance the storytelling process.

Applicants must meet the requirements of this subgroup to be considered for membership in the Academy.

To review membership requirements or apply for the subgroup online, click here.

The Television Academy consists of 30 peer groups, each representing specific fields of expertise within the television industry.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2019
“The Summer of Jeep” campaign starring Jeremy Renner shot with Cooke Anamorphic/i lenses
Jeremy Renner in "Summer of Jeep" spot

Jordan Levy, veteran commercial DP, has lensed FCA US’s new “the Summer of Jeep” campaign staring Jeremy Renner, with Cooke Anamorphic/i lenses. The campaign--which began airing in the U.S. on July 10--was directed by Levy’s friend and long-time collaborator Jeff Tomsic, with whom he has worked for a decade.

To create the look and style of the campaign, Levy meticulously chose a mixture of modern and old-school tools. For example, when lighting the majority of the interiors, Levy opted to use tungsten lights instead of LED sources. And one of the first decisions Levy made with the director was to shoot using Cooke Anamorphic/i lenses.

“Jeff and I shot a TV series together the year Cooke released the new Anamorphic/i prime set, and just fell in love with the imagery and look of these lenses,” explained Levy who’s well versed in “The Cooke Look®” and cites using Cooke S4/i spherical primes throughout his commercial film career, and then discovering and using re-housed Cooke Speed Panchro sets for vintage looks while shooting digital.

For the Jeep job, 20/20 Camera Rentals provided Levy with two ALEXA Minis and one ALEXA SXT, a full set of 10 Cooke Anamorphic/i’s ranging from 25mm to 300mm, plus the new 35-140mm zoom. Over the course of the week-long shoot, Levy used multiple Pursuit Systems vehicles to be able to capture the driving footage--including a Ford Raptor Pursuit, which he operated himself for all the off-road footage.

The city location was the interior and exterior of Los Angeles clubs Black Rabbit Rose and Madame Siam on Hollywood Blvd.  Levy and his crew (headed up by Nick “Sodapop” Franchot as key grip and Steve Francis as gaffer) built a 12x26 foot soft box constructed with truss and eight ARRI SkyPanels, and flew it over Hollywood Blvd. with an 50-foot Gradall lift. Levy also credits his great camera crew for a lot of the b-roll footage, including Jeremiah Pitman, Dennis Noyes, Adam Frisch and Vincent Foeillet, with Chris Geukens as the key First AC managing the department.

Levy, with director Tomsic, also decided that they wouldn’t do any camera mounts or process trailer work, preferring instead to shoot handheld inside the Jeeps to be more in the style of an independent film. Levy loved working with the Cooke Anamorphic/i 65mm here, with its close focus of about 5.5 inches from the front of the lens. He said, “The ability to cover the action from wide on the talent to then go down to a close up of the interactions with the Jeep’s touchscreen is something normally one would have to use diopters for in standard anamorphic lenses. The 40mm also became a favorite of ours on the shoot, being wide and small enough to be stuffed in the back seat of Jeep Wrangler!” 

  • Wednesday, Jul. 17, 2019
Jody Madden named Foundry CEO
Jody Madden

Foundry--which develops creative software for the digital design, media and entertainment industries with a product line that includes Nuke, Hiero, Mari, Katana, Flix, Athera, Modo and Colorway--has appointed Jody Madden as its CEO.

Madden joined Foundry in 2013 and has held positions as COO and most recently, chief customer officer and chief product officer. Over the past six years Madden has been instrumental in leading the company’s growth. Prior to joining Foundry, Madden spent more than a decade in technology management and studio leadership roles at Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm, and Digital Domain after graduating from Stanford University. 

Madden said, “Over the years I have worked at Foundry, I have seen the amazing things the talented people in our business can do, and I continue to be inspired by the images created by our customers. During a time of rapid change in creative industries, Foundry is committed to delivering innovations in workflow and future looking research.  As the company continues to grow, delivering further improvements in speed, quality and user-experience remains a core focus to enable our customers to meet the demands of their markets.”

Former Foundry CEO Craig Rodgerson stated, “Jody is well equipped to lead Foundry’s ongoing strategic direction from her roles within the business already. Her technology, product and operational experience impressed me from the outset and enabled us to make some key directional changes to the business. I am personally delighted to be handing over the reins to such an outstanding leader.”

Simon Robinson, Founry co-Founder and chief scientist, added, “Jody is well known for her collaborative leadership style and this has been crucial in enabling our engineering, product and research teams to achieve results for our customers and build the foundation for the future. I have worked closely with Jody and have seen the difference she has made to the business so I am extremely excited to see where she will lead Foundry in her new role and look forward to continuing to work with her.”

  • Thursday, Jul. 11, 2019
Duplitech relies on Cintel Scanner 2 for HDR film scanning
The Duplitech facility
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design has announced that Duplitech, an independent media service lab in L.A., is using a host of Blackmagic Design gear, including Cintel Scanner 2 for high dynamic range (HDR) film scanning. Duplitech found that Cintel Scanner 2 performs exceptionally well on 16mm film, having recently worked with the element while onboarding the “Blondie” television series from the 1950s.

Duplitech provides a full range of content delivery solutions from encoding, authoring and disc production, to in house film scanning, color grading and restoration, technical editing and asset conform, standards conversion and more. In addition to Cintel Scanner 2, Duplitech uses DaVinci Resolve Studio for editing and SDR/HDR color grading, DaVinci Resolve Micro Panels, Teranex 2D Processor standards converter, Videohub router and Mini Converters Audio to SDI, with UltraStudio and DeckLink capture and playback devices rounding out the workflow.

Cintel Scanner 2 has processed more than 500 reels of film, and as COO Steven Johnson noted, it allows them to quickly test different elements during curation, including release prints, IPs, original camera negatives (OCNs), interpositives and more.

“Cintel Scanner 2 has proven to be a versatile and cost effective performer in our film department. We’ve relied heavily on it to evaluate and process hundreds of film elements, from OCNs to release prints, while curating film collections for our customers. It allows us to quickly onboard and evaluate these elements, identifying which ones can be used to assemble a gold master for restoration,” he said.

“Scanning interpositives is a core business for us, and Cintel Scanner 2’s HDR capability has been a game changer,” said Film Department manager Blake Blasingame. “It makes virtually any element scannable and brings it to a usable level. Interpositives and release prints from 20 and 40 years ago are denser than the ones being made today, and HDR has opened the doors to scan and preserve those elements.”

“HDR captures much more of the element’s data, and Cintel Scanner 2’s improved latitude has been a major feature for us. It allows us to retain a wider range of color detail and a more accurate representation of the original film projection,” added Johnson. “We are an Ultra HD Blu-ray authoring house as well, and with Blu-ray, the output goes to physical media, which has a much higher quality demand than digital. Blu-ray is also a collector’s market, so the stakes are even higher. If it wasn’t for Cintel Scanner 2, we couldn’t cost effectively work in HDR and deliver this content.”

  • Monday, Jul. 8, 2019
Cooke S4/i prime lenses help convey the horrors of war in Hulu’s "Catch-22"
On the set of "Catch-22" with George Clooney (standing behind podium) and cinematographer Martin Ruhe (r). (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

For the Hulu six-episode miniseries Catch-22, directed by Grant Heslov, Ellen Kuras and George Clooney, cinematographer Martin Ruhe relied on two sets of Cooke Optics’ S4/i prime lenses matched with two ARRI ALEXA Mini cameras to capture this latest on-screen version, which premiered on 17 May.

Based on the acclaimed Joseph Heller novel, Catch-22 is set during World War II and revolves around a military by-law which states that if you fly your missions, you’re crazy, and all you have to do is ask not to fly them. But if you ask not to, then you’re sane, and so you have to fly them. The book’s title coined the term that has entered the common lexicon since Heller’s book was first published in 1961.

One thing that was made clear was that it would be its own film, and not based on the 1970 version. “We all looked at the original film, and the two projects have a different nature,” said Ruhe. “Ours is a dark comedy with a strong look for a strong visual story, as compared to the original which was more of a straight comedy. The aerial scenes had to show the intense horror of being up in those small tin boxes. It had to be about life and death.”

Ruhe’s goal was to contrast the horror of the aerial scenes and the absurdity of the ground scenes. To do that, he made use of two identical sets of Cooke S4/i prime lenses--14mm, 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 32mm, 40mm, 50mm, 65mm, 75mm, 100mm and 135mm focal lengths--shooting with the ARRI ALEXA Mini’s Super 35mm (2.8K) sensor in ARRI Raw 16:9, which would later be finished in 4K HDR.

“We had two sets of camera/lens combinations as we were cross shooting as well as having some days with splinter [second] unit shooting,” explained Ruhe. “While I used all of the lenses, the 32mm was my all-time favourite for close-ups inside the planes. Although, to be honest, I did have to move to the 50mm at times due to the limited space within those planes.”

In fact, one of the main benefits of using Cooke S4/i primes for Ruhe was their size. “I had to be very fast and versatile in tight places. I didn’t want to get stuck fighting minimal focus, and thanks to the S4/i’s, I didn’t,” he added.

To help understand the period, production designer David Gropman provided a lot of stills from Heller’s regiment to show the team what life in those camps was like, along with viewing historical newsreel footage. Then, during camera tests, stills were taken and placed into Photoshop to match the old postcard look of the era. Company 3, which would handle the digital intermediates, then created LUTs for the cameras to match the required looks.

With more than 20 years of experience with Cooke lenses, Ruhe knew from the start that he wanted the S4/i primes. “I first grew attached to Cookes on commercials, and I shot The American with S4s as well as The Keeping Room, where I also used original Cooke Speed Panchros,” he said. “They are just beautiful in the way that they fall off, how they flare and the texture you get from them. This is especially important when shooting in digital, as the lenses give you a nice organic feel. There’s just something so beautiful about the Cookes, and I go back to them time and time again. And the close-up with the 32mm is just the perfect tool.” 

For both the ground and aerial scenes, Ruhe went for a natural look. This was especially important on-board the planes as he didn’t want them to be too perfectly lit. For ground interiors, a 120’x75’ soft sail and grey screen was used with a 20K standing in for sunlight.

“You want people to feel the heat of the day,” explained Ruhe. “We worked with hard contrast; blow out when inside the tent looking out. I think this looked quite natural, as I wanted to convey the feeling of heat.”

For Ruhe, one of the standout scenes for the S4/i was in episode six. “I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but there’s a scene that was entirely shot with the 32. It’s so close to the faces and so intimate, which I love. You’ll have to see it to understand it, but every DP out there will know what I’m talking about when they watch that episode. It just looks great.”

  • Thursday, Jul. 4, 2019
Technology allows NBC to add new elements to Tour de France
In this July 29, 2018 file photo, Tour de France winner Britain's Geraint Thomas, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, passes the Arc de Triomphe during the twenty-first stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 116 kilometers (72.1 miles) with start in Houilles and finish on Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France. Chris Froome's absence, coupled with the withdrawal of last year's runner-up Tom Dumoulin, has reshuffled the game and produced a long list of top contenders. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

Phil Liggett remembers the early days of Tour de France coverage in the United States, which would involve him traveling to Paris at the end of a stage, recording voiceovers all night and then rejoining the circuit for the next stage.

Those days, though, are ancient history. The Tour has been aired live in the U.S. since 2001 with Liggett providing play-by-play. The coverage has also evolved to include pre-race and nightly highlight shows.

The NBC Sports Group will air more than 250 hours of coverage across NBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports Gold online streaming package. Despite the challenges of live coverage, Liggett said it is a lot easier compared to the weekend highlight shows that used to be the only way to view it.

"There is nothing that beats doing it live," said Liggett, who will be covering his 47th Tour when it begins Saturday. "Sitting in the commentary box is like being in a 727. You can't wait to take off and see where things land at the end of a stage."

As technology has evolved, broadcasters have found it easier to add new elements. This year's Tour will include cameras on the bike of up to eight riders that can transmit live. They have been tested the past four years, but would only show footage at the completion of a stage.

Cameras can be mounted under the rider's saddle and on the front under the handlebar. The cameras could provide additional insight into late-race moves or crashes.

Steve Porino will also have a camera focused on him as he reports during each stage while traveling aboard a motorcycle on the course.

Commentator Christian Vande Velde will ride several key stages in advance, wearing special raptor sunglasses to preview critical course points. The sunglasses will also show Vande Velde's speed, how much energy he is using and the rate of pedaling. The sunglasses utilize the same technology U.S. fighter pilots have in the visors of their helmets for telemetry.

NBC will also use a virtual graphics Telestrator, which will produce augmented reality graphics that will allow commentators to move around and analyze cyclists. Depending on its use, it is the type of technology that could be extended to coverage of other sports.

Joel Felicio, who is the coordinating producer for NBC, said planning for the Tour begins in October. Most of the video that Felicio uses comes from France TV Sport, which provides the main feed, but his challenge each year is figuring out how to introduce new elements to the broadcast.

Felicio also has a challenge that few others have, which is producing live broadcasts from 21 different locations.

"There's trying to figure out commercials, when to go to commentary and using different elements but not missing the key move. There's also trying to keep everyone interested for six hours," he said.

This will be the first Tour since 1985 that Liggett has not done with Paul Sherwen by his side. Sherwen died Dec. 2 at age 62 due to heart failure. Bob Roll moves into the commentary box along with Jens Voigt, who competed in the Tour from 1998 through 2014

Chris Horner, who competed in the Tour seven times, will also debut as an analyst. Horner is the most recent American Grand Tour champion after capturing the Tour of Spain in 2013.

"I think this is the most open race in years," Liggett said. "There are a lot of young riders that have the potential of this being one of the best Tours in recent memory."

  • Monday, Jul. 1, 2019
Vision Research introduces Phantom 640
Phantom S640

Vision Research, manufacturer of Phantom High-Speed cameras, has introduced the Phantom S640 which leverages the Phantom CMOS sensor used in the popular VEO640 camera and provides up to 6 Gpx/sec (75 Gbps) of streaming data and images for machine vision applications.

The S640 gives demanding machine vision applications the frame rates they need, reaching 1,480 fps at full 4 Mpx resolution of 2560 x 1600 and up to 200,715 fps at lower resolutions. The S640 has many similar characteristics to the VEO640, including high image quality and high frame rates at 4Mpx resolution, but its output is not confined to the camera’s RAM.

“We’re excited to bring the benefits of the Phantom S640 to a wide variety of Machine Vision applications, especially those that need to access and analyze the high-speed data immediately and can’t wait for downloading from the camera’s memory, as well as those events and processes that run longer than standard camera RAM can manage,” said Dan Hafen, director of business development for Machine Vision Cameras at Vision Research.

The Phantom S640 joins a growing family of Phantom Machine Vision Cameras as Vision Research continues to bring the benefits of its traditional Phantom High-Speed cameras to the Machine Vision platform. It joins the Phantom S990, based on the cinema quality Phantom 4K sensor, as well as the S210 and S200, based on the Phantom Miro C210, which is used in automotive, industrial and scientific applications. The S640 sensor, the same used in the VEO640, has a 10 micron pixel size, larger than many Machine Vision cameras. Larger pixels are typically more light sensitive than smaller pixels, an important factor in high speed imaging. The S640 has an ISO rating of 6500 for monochrome and 1250 for color.

To support high quality imaging, it also has 12-bits, a noise level of 20.5e- and dynamic range of 55.9dB. The camera also features a general-purpose input/output (GPIO) for fast, flexible signaling and synchronization. It includes signals beneficial in standard high-speed applications, such as Time Code In and Out, as well as signals commonly found in streaming applications.

The S640 streams at high frame rates using CXP6 protocol. Like the Phantom S990 released last year, the S640 has four banks of four CXP6 connections each. Each bank connects to a 4-port frame grabber, or two banks can connect to an 8-port frame grabber. Once the frame grabbers receive the data, the image is stitched together and processed with any other customer algorithms. The data can be analyzed immediately or stored in a long-record DVR for post analysis. The S640 is compatible with any PCIe3 CXP6 frame grabber. However, frame grabber manufacturer, Euresys, has made the stitching function easier by incorporating it into the software of their Euresys 8-port Octo board.

For applications that do not require the full 6Gpx/sec throughput, the S640 can also provide only 2Gpx/sec of data by using only one bank of ports, or 4GPx/sec of data with two banks. It can also save data transfer rates by switching to 8-bit mode.

Key specifications of the Phantom S640 include

  • Up to 6 Gpx/second (75 Gbps) of streaming capability
  • 1,480 fps at 2,560 x 1,600 and 2,340 fps at 1,920 x 1,280
  • 4-megapixel CMOS sensor in color or monochrome
  • 10-µm pixel size
  • 12-bit or 8-bit data transfer
  • Up to 4 banks of 4 CXP ports
  • CXP6 and GenICam compliant
  • Thursday, Jun. 27, 2019
Glassbox Technologies launches virtual camera toolset

Virtual production software company Glassbox Technologies has released its powerful and accessible virtual camera plugin DragonFly from private beta for public use. Teased during the company’s spring 2019 launch, DragonFly brings professional virtual cinematography tools to filmmakers and content creators everywhere, allowing users to view character performances and scenes within computer-generated virtual environments in real-time, through the camera’s viewfinder, an external monitor or iPad.

Available for Unreal Engine, Unity 3D and Autodesk Maya, DragonFly delivers an inclusive virtual cinematography workflow that allows filmmakers and content creators to make and test creative decisions faster and earlier in the process, whittling down production cost on projects of all scopes and sizes. 

The powerful off-the-shelf toolkit takes creators from pre-viz to post-viz without the need for large teams of operators, costly hardware or proprietary tools. It is platform agnostic and fits seamlessly into any workflow out-of-box. With DragonFly, users can visualize and explore a CG virtual environment, then record, bookmark, create snapshots and replicate real camera movement as seamlessly as conducting a live-action shoot.  

“Virtual production poses great potential for creators, but there were no off-the-shelf filming solutions available that worked out of the box,” noted Glassbox co-founder and CPO Mariana Acuña. “In response, we made DragonFly: a virtual window that allows users to visualize complex sets, environments and performances through a viewfinder. Without the need for a big stage or mocap crew, it brings greater flexibility to the production and post pipeline for films, animation, immersive content, games and real-time VFX.” 

The product was developed in collaboration with top Hollywood visualization and production studios including The Third Floor for best-in-class results. 

“Prior to DragonFly, each studio has created their own bespoke virtual production workflow, which is costly and time-consuming per project. DragonFly makes real-time virtual production usable for all creators,” said Evelyn Cover, global R&D manager for The Third Floor. “We’re excited to collaborate with the Glassbox team to develop and test  DragonFly in all kinds of production scenarios from previs to post, with astounding success.”

Glassbox’s second in-beta virtual production software solution, BeeHive--the multi-platform, multi-user collaborative virtual scene syncing, editing and review solution--is slated to launch later this summer.

DragonFly is now available for purchase or can be downloaded for free as a 15-day trial on the Glassbox website. Pricing and licensing includes a permanent license option costing $750 USD (including $250 for the first year of support and updates) and an annual rental option costing $420/annum.

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