• Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020
ARRI delivers under its Signature
ARRI Signature Primes

ARRI’s entire range of Signature Prime lenses is now available and shipping. Known for capturing warm, smooth skin tones, with exceptionally soft bokeh and delicate flares, the ARRI Signature Prime lenses are the first full range of large-format lenses designed specifically for digital cinematography. They feature 16 focal lengths ranging from 12 mm to 280 mm. The Signature Primes cover all image circles, up to 46 mm, making them compatible with any ARRI or third-party camera with an LPL mount.

In a recent interview with ARRI, cinematographer Roger Deakins CBE, ASC, BSC explained, “the image that the ALEXA LF and the Signature Primes produces, seems to me, more like what my eyes see than anything else I have experienced so far.”

Since their launch, the ARRI Signature Prime lenses have been used on the set of high-profile feature films and television series including 1917 with Deakins CBE, ASC, BSC, Emily in Paris with Steven Fierberg ASC, Just 1 Day with Chris Doyle, HKSC, Outlander (season 5) with Stijn Van der Veken, ASC, SBC, and The Invisible Man with Stefan Duscio ACS. Cinematographer Adam Kimmel ASC has also used the Signature Primes on commercials for Audi, MG, Mercedes-Benz, and Jeep. 

  • Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020
Digital Garden shows Resolve for Drama Series "Eren the Southpaw"
A scene from "Eren the Southpaw"

Tokyo’s Digital Garden has graded Mainichi Broadcasting System (MBS) MBS/ Tokyo Broadcasting System’s (TBS) drama series Eren the Southpaw with Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Studio. The live-action show, based on a manga series by artist Kappy, includes hundreds of shots per episode graded with an advanced collaborative workflow at Digital Garden using a mix of DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel, and DaVinci Resolve Mini or Micro Panel.

Digital Garden’s Masahiro Ishiyama and Osamu Haga are the main colorists for the series, with one handling grading for the present and one for the past. The series follows Koichi Asakura and Eren Yamagishi, who met each other while in high school and continue their relationship as Koichi becomes a designer and Eren becomes an up and coming painter in NYC. “To those who could not become a genius” is the catch phrase for this series and the story depicts the people and environment in the art industry and at an ad agency based on the manga author’s actual experience.

For Digital Garden, best known for color grading TV commercial work, Eren the Southpaw was one of its first long form drama series. The show’s DP, Akiyoshi Yoshida, wanted to use Digital Garden’s commercial expertise and asked them to grade the drama as if they were grading a TV commercial, while at the same time creating two different looks between current and past scenes. To do this, he shot in two different aspect ratios -- 4:3 for past and 2:1 for current.


  • Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020
Utah Scientific tabs John Schilberg for new post
John Schilberg

Utah Scientific, which provides mission critical equipment to content creators, distributors, and broadcasters, has appointed John Schilberg to serve as director of product development and technical marketing.

Schilberg’s main focus will be product development by working with industry professionals, the in-house engineering team, and current and potential customers. He will help in the design and release of Utah Scientific products and serve as the company’s technical spokesperson. In addition to his product management responsibilities, he will develop and deliver engineering presentations, consult on improvements to Utah Scientific’s web presence, and lead other marketing efforts.

Schilberg has been with Utah Scientific for two years as a regional sales manager.  Schilberg will report to Brett Benson, Utah Scientific VP of strategic accounts, and will continue to work out of his Dallas area office.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020
Google CEO calls for regulation of artificial intelligence
Google's chief executive Sundar Pichai addresses the audience during an event on artificial intelligence at the Square in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. Google's chief executive called Monday for a balanced approach to regulating artificial intelligence, telling a European audience that the technology brings benefits but also negative consequences. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Google's chief executive called Monday for a balanced approach to regulating artificial intelligence, telling a European audience that the technology brings benefits but also "negative consequences."

Sundar Pichai's comments come as lawmakers and governments seriously consider putting limits on how artificial intelligence is used.

"There is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. The question is how best to approach this," Pichai said, according to a transcript of his speech at a Brussel-based think tank.

He noted that there's an important role for governments to play and that as the European Union and the U.S. start drawing up their own approaches to regulation, "international alignment" of any eventual rules will be critical. He did not provide specific proposals. 

Pichai spoke on the same day he was scheduled to meet the EU's powerful competition regulator, Margrethe Vestager. She's also due to meet Microsoft President Brad Smith separately on Monday. 

Vestager has in previous years hit the Silicon Valley giant with multibillion-dollar fines for allegedly abusing its market dominance to choke off competition. After being reappointed for a second term last autumn with expanded powers over digital technology policies, Vestager has now set her sights on artificial intelligence, and is drawing up rules on its ethical use.

Pichai's comments suggest the company may be hoping to head off a broad-based crackdown by the EU on the technology. Vestager and the EU have been the among the more aggressive regulators of big tech firms, an approach U.S. authorities have picked up with investigations into the dominance of companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

"Sensible regulation must also take a proportionate approach, balancing potential harms with social opportunities," he said, adding that it could incorporate existing standards like Europe's tough General Data Protection Regulation rather than starting from scratch.

While it promises big benefits, he raised concerns about potential downsides of artificial intelligence, citing as one example its role in facial recognition technology, which can be used to find missing people but also for "nefarious reasons" which he didn't specify. 

In 2018, Google pledged not to use AI in applications related to weapons, surveillance that violates international norms, or that works in ways that go against human rights.

Pichai was also due on Monday to meet Frans Timmermans, the EU commissioner overseeing the European Green Deal, the bloc's plan to fight climate change by making the continent carbon neutral by 2050, including through technology. He's then scheduled to head to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week. 

  • Monday, Jan. 20, 2020
James Dean revival spurs debate on raising the digital dead 
This Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, photo shows a bust of actor James Dean at the Griffith Observatory in the Griffith Park area of Los Angeles. Travis Cloyd, who is leading the revival of Dean for his appearance in "Finding Jack," says his company will eventually offer the late actor's digital likeness for a range of roles in movies, TV and video games. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

The men bringing James Dean back to life for a forthcoming film are aiming not just to give his digital likeness a role, but a whole new career.

Dean's planned appearance in the Vietnam War movie "Finding Jack," and the possibility of future parts, comes as digital de-aging and duplication of real actors has tipped from cinematic trick into common practice. And it's giving new life to old arguments about the immortality and dignity of the dead.

"Our intentions are to create the virtual being of James Dean. That's not only for one movie, but going to be used for many movies and also gaming and virtual reality," said Travis Cloyd, CEO of Worldwide XR, who is leading the design on the Dean project. "Our focus is on building the ultimate James Dean so he can live across any medium."

Legally, they have every right to do it, via the full agreement of the Dean estate and his surviving relatives. 

"Our clients want to protect these valuable intellectual property rights and the memories that they have of their loved ones," said Mark Roesler, CEO of CMG Worldwide, the legal and licensing company that has long owned the title to Dean's likeness. "We have to trust them. ... They want to see that their loved one's image and memory continues to live on."

Dean is an obvious candidate for revival with his embodiment-of-Hollywood image and the brevity of his life and career — he died at 24 and made just three films: "East of Eden," "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant." 

Roesler and Cloyd have not obtained the rights from Warner Bros. to use footage from those films, but they have a large trove of photos and Dean's dozens of TV roles. 

"There are thousands of images that we do have to work with," Cloyd said. "What we typically do is we take all those images and videos and we run them through machine learning to create that asset."

That will be added to the work of a stand-in actor using motion-capture technology as commonly done now with CGI characters, along with the overdubbed voice of another actor. 

The announcement of the role last year caused a quick backlash, with responses like that of "Captain America" star Chris Evans on Twitter: "Maybe we can get a computer to paint us a new Picasso. Or write a couple new John Lennon tunes. The complete lack of understanding here is shameful."

"I think there's definitely something cynical and what feels like a little bit distasteful about bringing especially long-dead actors back to life," said Terri White, editor-in-chief of film magazine "Empire." "The reaction to the likes of the James Dean news has actually shown that I think most people don't really want that."

For the people behind the Dean project, the negative reaction is as inevitable as they believe the eventual acceptance will be. Cloyd foresees a Hollywood where even living actors have a "digital twin" that helps in their work. 

"This is disruptive technology," Cloyd said. "Some people hear it for the first time and they get shaken by it. But this is where the market is going." 

The revival of the dead, often done clumsily, has been happening for much of Hollywood's existence. 

Footage of Bela Lugosi, combined with a double holding a cape over his face, was used in 1959's "Plan 9 From Outer Space," released after the horror star's death. Bruce Lee's film "Game of Death," left unfinished before his 1973 death, was completed using doubles and voice overdubs and released five years later. "The Fast and the Furious" star Paul Walker died in 2013 before shooting was done on "Furious 7." His two younger brothers and others acted as stand-ins so his scenes could be finished. 

Even Lennon, and many other dead historical figures, were digitally revived in 1994 in "Forrest Gump." 

But the technology of recreation and resurrection has taken a major leap forward in quality and prestige, with the extensive de-aging and re-aging used in Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman"; a young Will Smith digitally returning to play opposite the current version in last summer's "Gemini Man"; and Carrie Fisher, whose younger self briefly returned digitally in 2016's "Star Wars: Rogue One" and appeared again after her death, in "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." 

These instances have elicited scattered skepticism — both of the quality of the technology and the propriety of the revivals — but audiences have largely accepted them. 

Guy Williams, visual effects supervisor at filmmaker Peter Jackson's Weta Digital, said the possibilities do offer a moral dilemma. 

"The question isn't so much if you use somebody's likeness to bring them back or to create a digital version of them, it's what you do with it and the respect that you show to it," Williams said. "So that, to me, is the more important question." 

Pablo Helman, the visual effects supervisor behind the de-aging of Robert De Niro and others in "The Irishman,"  said he considers that moral dilemma in his work. 

"The main question that you need to ask yourself is why do it?" Helman said. "You know, just because you can do it doesn't mean you should, you know? That would be one thing that I'm always questioning: Is it in service of the story?"

Ethical considerations are likely to give way to market forces if viewers decide they find digital versions of dead actors plausible, and palatable.

"I think the moral question is going to be decided by the audiences and society, whether they want to see that," said Bill Westenhofer, visual effects supervisor on "Gemini Man." 

Dean will be playing a supporting role in "Finding Jack," which is now in pre-production. The limited screen time is, at this point, as far as those recreating him want to go. But they hope the digital avatar can eventually carry a movie, possibly even playing James Dean himself at different ages. 

"At some point there's going to be the James Dean biopic," Cloyd said. "I think the technology is not necessarily there today to take the risk."

Kemp reported from London. 

  • Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020
Invitation to Ivanka Trump draws backlash at big tech show
Ivanka Trump, right, the daughter and senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, answers a question as she is interviewed by Gary Shapiro, left, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, at the Consumer Technology Association Keynote during the CES tech show Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The nation's largest consumer electronics show on Tuesday hosted Ivanka Trump as a keynote speaker — a choice that drew scorn from many women in technology.

The annual CES tech gathering in Las Vegas has long taken criticism over diversity issues. In recent years, the show's organizer, the Consumer Technology Association, has invited more  women  to speak and sought to curb some of the show's more sexist aspects, such as scantily clad "booth babes" hired to draw attention of the mostly male attendees.

But for critics and activists who have long pushed for broader recognition of the less-heralded women who found startups and take on difficult technical challenges, the inclusion of President Donald Trump's daughter, who is also a White House adviser, sent exactly the wrong message.

"Ivanka is not a woman in tech," tweeted Brianna Wu, a video game developer who is running for Congress in Massachusetts as a Democrat. "She's not a CEO. She has no background. It's a lazy attempt to emulate diversity, but like all emulation it's not quite the real thing."

Ivanka Trump spoke with CTA President Gary Shapiro for nearly 40 minutes, highlighting work the administration has done with tech companies to retrain their workers for new skills. She has worked on skills-training initiatives at the White House. Companies including Google have joined that effort.

There was no mention of the pushback about her appearance at the show. The hall was full, and she was met with applause. Organizers declined to say how many people were in the audience.

Shapiro told The Associated Press that Ivanka Trump is fighting for workers at a time when robots are filling warehouses and factories and self-driving vehicles are worrying truck drivers.

"We've had politicians speak before, cabinet secretaries and others who've come in," Shapiro said ahead of the talk.

Ivanka Trump said the event offered a chance to talk "about the way jobs are evolving and changing."

"People need to be thinking about investing in their workforce so that they can enable those people to do their same job using different equipment tomorrow," she said.

Many people who tweeted the hashtag #BoycottCES on Tuesday in protest of Trump's appearance also took issue with the administration's border detention policies and various actions of the president himself.

The technology industry has especially important issues pending with the U.S. government, including antitrust investigations into Facebook and Google, the trade war with China, immigration, election security and misinformation on social media.

Government officials have long made regular appearances at CES. This year, for instance, the speaker roster includes both Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Secretary of Energy Dan Bouillette. Other female speakers include Meg Whitman of video streaming startup Quibi and Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and partnerships for NBCUniversal.

Ivanka Trump is "taking this slot at this conference where women have been saying for so long, 'Hey, we are being overlooked,'" said Rachel Sklar, a tech commentator and founder of a professional network for women. "The whole category of women being overlooked are still being overlooked."

"Clearly they are not putting much effort into finding women in tech who can speak," said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Creative Strategies, who is at CES. 

Last year, CES caused an uproar when it revoked an innovation award presented to a female-led sex device company. CES reversed its decision and has allowed sex tech into the show for a one-year trial.  Conference organizers also brought in an official "equality partner," The Female Quotient, to help ensure gender diversity.

"Was there nobody else available? Seriously?" asked Ti Chang, co-founder of the wearable vibrator company Crave. Chang said Trump's experience running a clothing brand is a bad fit for CES and its focus on innovation and technology. 

"I don't understand," she said. "I would love to know what their rationale was."

Arbel reported from New York. Ortutay reported from San Francisco. AP video journalist James Brooks in Las Vegas also contributed to  this report. 

  • Monday, Jan. 6, 2020
CES Gadget Show: Flying taxis, toilet paper robots and more
Procter & Gamble chief brand officer Marc Pritchard shows off the Charmin Forever Roll and the Charmin RollBot during a P&G news conference before CES International, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Flying taxis and a robot that can fetch toilet paper when you're stranded on the loo were among the technologies showcased this week at the annual CES gadget show in Las Vegas.
The annual technology conference is the place for big brands and startups alike to unveil their products and services for the coming year, though larger companies such as Apple, Google and Microsoft typically hold their own announcement events. Streaming services  and surveillance technologies are among the hot topics. The show formally opens Tuesday following two days of media previews.

Here are some highlights:

Uber and Hyundai are teaming up to build a fleet of flying taxis.

Uber, the ride-hailing giant, said its four-passenger "Uber Air Taxi" will initially be piloted, but over time will become autonomous. Uber says it wants to conduct flight demonstrations in 2020 and make such vehicles commercially available in 2023.

The goal is to help riders breeze over traffic in shared air taxis between suburbs and cities and eventually within cities. Uber plans to launch the aircraft in Dallas, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia. The air taxis, which look like a cross between a helicopter and a small airplane, will be all-electric.

The air taxis are designed to take off vertically and cruise at speeds up to 200 miles (322 kilometers). They're designed to fly up to 60 miles (97 kilometers) at a time.

While Uber has been working on the air taxi concept for years, Hyundai brings to the project a company with experience manufacturing cars on a global scale.

The companies said Hyundai will produce and deploy the vehicles while Uber provides airspace support services and connections to ground transportation. Uber will not own the air taxis, but the aircraft will be permitted to operate as part of Uber's transportation network.

Charmin wants to solve a familiar feeling: being stranded on the toilet with an empty toilet paper roll.

Its solution: a two-wheeled robot that can fetch a fresh roll. The robot, around 6-inches tall, has the face of a bear — like the cartoon ones in Charmin's commercials — and toilet paper sitting on top. 

But don't expect it to roll to your bathroom anytime soon. Procter & Gamble, the company that owns Charmin, said the robot won't be for sale and was just an example of what's possible.

"Car companies have concept cars, but P&G has concept bathrooms," said Marc Pritchard, who oversees Procter & Gamble's brands. 

The company didn't have a working robot available at a press conference Sunday, though executives say one will be demonstrated when the show floor opens Tuesday.

New sensors promise to stop water leaks before they ruin your home.

Monitors from Alarm.com and Flo Technologies connect to homes' water lines and track usage. If the systems sense more water than usual is flowing through the pipes, they send an alert through their apps — after all, it could just be a long shower. But if something really seems off kilter, the monitors will automatically shut off water.

Flo used CES to launch its newest sensor, a raindrop-shaped device that looks like a smoke alarm and can detect any water or moisture when attached to toilets, washers or other leak-prone areas. Each detector costs $50.

Another option, Phyn, makes a $299 device that hooks up to the pipes under a sink and measures changes in water pressure.

What are your grandparents up to? Startups are pitching a way to keep an eye on the elderly from afar.

The new sensors can tell if a loved one has moved around and eaten — for instance, by detecting when the fridge is opened.

The efforts come as the U.S. government expects adults over 65 to outnumber children for the first time by 2034.

"We want to enable loved ones to live on their own," said Ryan Herd, founder of Caregiver Smart Solutions.

Caregiver's sensors tracks the elderly through motion detection, though the product can also tell if someone has showered by measuring humidity. Another company, CarePredict, has a wrist-worn device that can detect falls and alert caregivers. It also tracks how much the person has moved around and what rooms they're spending most of their time in.

Tracking isn't cheap. CarePredict's device, for instance, costs $450, plus a $70 monthly fee.

Neither company uses cameras, so you'll need something else if you want to peer into your grandparents' homes. Just keep in mind that if you can check video on an app, so might a skilled hacker.

Nearly 67 million wireless earbuds are expected to be sold this year, according to projections by organizers of this week's CES gadget show in Las Vegas. That's up 35% from 2019, making it one of the fastest-growing categories in consumer tech.

According to the organizers, the Consumer Technology Association, much of the growth will come from Apple's AirPods and Samsung's Galaxy Buds, both of which play music and take calls without any wires. But others are vying for your ear canal, too. Amazon started selling its own buds late last year, and Microsoft plans to have one in 2020.

Also popular: smartwatches, fitness trackers and other devices that track and monitor your health. The CTA expects 64 million health devices to be sold this year, the first time the group has counted the category.

Smartphones and TVs will see slower growth. Both are expected to rise just 2%.

Overall, revenue in the U.S. consumer tech industry is expected to grow 4% to $422 billion, the CTA said. But the group warned that its numbers could change significantly if the trade war with China escalates or if tariffs are expanded. Much of the world's electronics are put together in China, and the CTA has said that steeper tariffs could hurt the industry by making gadgets more expensive for consumers.

AP Business Writer Cathy Bussewitz in New York contributed to this story.

  • Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019
Mach1 spatial audio technology available on Bose AR platform
Mach1's spatial audio innovation was brought to bear in the groundbreaking "The Martian VR" project

Mach1, a leading spatial audio technology company, announced that its patented Mach1 Spatial audio technology is available on the Bose AR platform. Mach1’s unified audio framework gives content creators and developers a transparent and simplified approach to spatial audio -- offering a future-proofed pipeline that is platform, format and codec agnostic.

Bose AR is an audio-first approach to augmented reality using Bose AR-enabled products which have motion sensors embedded inside that can detect a user’s head orientation and body movement. Bose AR-enhanced apps can use that information, along with location data from the user’s mobile device, to provide tailored audio content. Mach1 Spatial enables spatial and positional audio rendering for content creation (encoding) and playback (decoding). The Mach1 Spatial SDK directly utilizes the sensors from the Bose AR enabled products to easily bring a range of spatial audio and multichannel handling features to any custom application. 

Mach1 has developed the most transparent and simplified approach to spatial audio that empowers audio professionals to be in full creative control of their spatial audio mix and pre-render the highest quality directional and positional audio. The Mach1 Transcode API from the Mach1 Spatial SDK also enables and supports all major multichannel channel surround and spatial formats making it easy to support any content.

Founded by audio director Dražen Bošnjak and CEO Jacqueline Bošnjak, Mach1’s radical innovation was iterated while working on the spatial sound production on some of the industry’s most high profile VR projects including The Martian VR, ALIEN: COVENANT In Utero, Chained and Dear Angelica. 

The Mach1 Spatial software developer kit (Mach1 Spatial SDK) offers a frictionless content and format handling environment for safely ingesting and future proofing all commonly seen mix formats from spatial to surround. The accompanying workflow tools in the Mach1 Spatial System allows audio professionals to work in their preferred digital audio workstation, like Avid’s Pro Tools Ultimate, while preserving traditional audio standards and best practices and allows them to be deployed for interactive mediums such as AR and XR. 

“Mach1 preserves decades of real-world experience attained by sound engineers and enables audio professionals to extend their craft on Bose AR,” said Mach1 inventor and audio director Dražen Bošnjak. 

While Mach1 SDK is now available to developers and creators through the Bose AR platform, consumers can also get a taste by listening to Bošnjak‘s Disney The Lion King remixed in Mach1 Spatial. “The Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata” are available now on BoseRadar through any Bose AR enabled device. The mixes put you in the Lion King world with vivid soundscapes from Africa where the power of spatial audio is palpable.

Spatial music is not new, in fact human beings are hard wired to hear spatially. Our ability to hear spatially is inherently connected to our evolution as a species and our very survival. 

“What is new is that for the first time spatial audio hardware is now available to consumers, which is why we are excited to bring Mach1 to Bose AR,” said CEO Jacqueline Bošnjak.

“Mach1 updates the Futurist Manifesto The Art of Noises for the 21st Century,” said Jacqueline Bošnjak, referring to Luigi Russolo’s 1913 influential text on musical aesthetics that liberated music from the tyranny of the past by incorporating noise into music. “The industrial and mechanical era may have liberated music but subsequent technologies also limited the freedom that they defined producing the static formalism of locked stereo. There were riots the first time Russolo introduced noise into traditional music, and while I don’t think liberating the world from stereo with spatial audio is going to cause any riots, it should!” 

“Sound wants to be free, it’s a spatial phenomenon,” said Dražen Bošnjak. “The magnetic tape recorder invention unleashed the genius in Cage, Schaeffer, Stockhausen, et al. We are excited to see what artists do with spatial audio.”

Mach1 Spatial API’s will be offered as a companion library to the Bose AR SDK, putting forward Mach1 as an approach to spatial audio for any developer to use on Bose AR. Any Bose AR-compatible product is capable of playing Mach1 Spatial audio when used with a compatible app. This includes Bose Frames, QC35II, and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019
Cooke lenses capture wildlife for BBC's "Seven Worlds, One Planet"
Lensing "Seven Worlds, One Planet"

DP Mark MacEwen traveled thousands of miles with a set of Cooke miniS4/i lenses to shoot selected sequences featured in the BBC’s latest landmark wildlife series, Seven Worlds, One Planet. The series, which visits all seven continents to document the unique wildlife to be found in each, began airing in the U.K. in October.

“The nature of high-end wildlife filming is a mix of collaboration and individual intuition,” said MacEwen. “Because we are filming animals, usually the fewer people present the better; the chance to capture the behavior takes place individually and is down to the DP’s framing eye. The collaborative part is often in the planning and ongoing story discussions. Things develop and change all the time in nature and often the story you set out to film changes, or you find something better or different. And that’s when the collaborative part really takes shape and is a part of the process I really enjoy. Bouncing ideas and building the story is where a lot of the creativity happens.”

MacEwen, who has over 20 years’ experience in wildlife cinematography, chose the miniS4/i lenses for his sequences to bring the “Cooke Look” in a smaller, more light weight form.

“The look of the Cooke lenses does it all for me, and the way they separate the subject and background and flare is the way I see the world. I also like the way they work on digital sensors--to me, they just help take some of the digital edge off the camera and help keep it looking more organic and natural,” he said. “The miniS4/i’s were great as the size and weight of them allowed me to use them not only for tripod work, but for hand-held gimbal work with animals where I have to hold the MōVI Pro rig for hours, following the animals waiting for the right moment or bit of behaviour. The build quality is also amazing and works so well with the follow focus gear.”

The traveling set included the 18mm, 25mm, 40mm, 50mm and 135mm focal lengths. “For me the 40mm and 50mm were the lenses I used the most,” MacEwen explained. “They give me enough of a focal length to create separation from the background and cut easier between the long lens and primes. Also, longer focal lengths are more useful for wildlife filming as often the problem is getting close enough to the subjects.”

Lighting conditions were extremely varied--from filming lowland gorillas in the jungles of the Congo to shooting elephant seals in Antarctica--but MacEwen was impressed with how the miniS4/i lenses coped. “Heavy use of backlight is frequent. In jungles there is so much contrast and low light, then very strong shadows with bright sun patches--even the modern camera systems struggle with it, so if the lens can help with the contrast or artistically aid in flare, it makes all the difference,” he said.

The RED Helium was the camera choice for the series, which MacEwen praises for its versatility: “The frame rates, resolution and the size mean we can use it as a long lens camera, put it onto small hand-held gimbals or into larger helicopter systems like the GSS/Shotover/GSS. Also we have the ability to use pre roll and so on, which is a huge advantage when trying to film things that may only ever happen once.”

One particular scene from the series sticks in MacEwen’s memory. “I filmed elephant seals fighting for the Antarctica episode. I wanted to try and make the sequences feel and look different to others I’d seen shot, but they are a challenge to film--huge behemoths up to 18 feet long and 8000 pounds. Thousands of them turn up in mating season and the males prepare to fight for their right to breed,” he recalled. “I used the miniS4/i’s on a gimbal to try and get among them, capture the feel of the combat and creatively control the visual scene. But it’s no easy job moving around these monsters. I was frequently having to jump out of the way as one animal charged another, while others charge past you to escape. It’s one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been.”

Not all challenges are brought by large animals, though. “I’ve been charged by lions, elephants, gorillas and elephants seals all on foot to name a few, but there is one creature that for me tops them all: the sweat bee. It’s tiny but found in huge numbers and is attracted to sweat, so it’s largely unavoidable. It has managed to annoy me for large parts of my career, and it can make even the most hardened person have to drop everything and just run away to get a moment’s respite."

  • Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019
Sony Plays The Field In Minnesota
Camera operator catches the action at Allianz Field with the Sony HXC-4300 HD studio camera.
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- 

When Minnesota United Football Club moved into its new home at Allianz Field in St. Paul earlier this year, new cameras for the stadium’s large video wall presentation were on top of the list of must-haves. Resolution quality from the cameras had to reproduce well on the Daktronics 15mm HD board, concourse monitors and 2.5mm Daktronics LED display in the team’s premier Stadium Club. The goal, according to the team’s production engineer, Cole Mayer, is that soccer fans at the stadium see the same video quality or better than they would when watching at home.

The decision was made to purchase four Sony HXC-FB80 HD studio cameras (with HXCU-FB80 CCU units and RCP-1500 panels for remote camera control) and one PXW-X400 shoulder-mounted XDCAM camcorder. The HXC-FB80 is designed for 4K/HDR live production. 

Equipped with three 2/3-inch Exmor CMOS sensors, the cameras capture full HD picture quality.  With a sensitivity of F13 and a corresponding signal-to-noise ratio of just -60 dB, the cameras are ideal for low light reproduction. The PXW-X400 offers advanced picture quality and enhanced networking features with a built-in wireless module.

The Sony system cameras affixed with Canon lenses are placed in various positions throughout the stadium – one Sony HXC-FB80 with a Canon XJ80x lens underneath the large video wall and one Sony HXC-FB80 with the same Canon lens in a far corner of the stadium. The remaining -FB80s, equipped with Canon KJ20x8.2B lens, are placed in center and left field.

With a resolution of 2304x456 pixels, the large video display at the south side of the stadium required cameras with the resolution of the HXC-FB80 and PXW-400. 

The infrastructure at the new Allianz Field is also wired for SMPTE fiber, so a camera that is plug and play in that environment is another must-have. “We use SMPTE fiber at the stadium for our connections, and the -FB80 has SMPTE fiber built right into the camera body, so it’s just plug and play,” explained Mayer. “It’s just one cable into the camera, and the camera control, viewfinder and the lens is powered up. It makes set up and tear down during game days a breeze.”

The Sony CCU units are integrated with the team’s RTS intercom system over SMPTE fiber connection so once plugged into the camera, the headsets are plug and play as well. “Side communication is never an issue,” said Mayer.

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