• Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020
Denson Baker "Cookes" Up Vision For "The Luminaries"
Denson Baker (photo by Jon Cooper)

DP Denson Baker, NZCS ACS, chose Cooke Anamorphic lenses to recreate the universe portrayed in the TV adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker prize-winning novel, “The Luminaries.”

Produced by the BBC, Working Title Television and Southern Light Films and adapted for the screen by Catton herself, the six-part miniseries tells an epic story of love, murder and revenge, as men and women traveled across the world to make their fortunes on New Zealand’s South Island in the boom years of the 1860s gold rush.

Baker said, “We wanted it to be atmospheric and cinematic, a smoky, textured world, with muddy streets...a very lived in world.”

The producer Andrew Woodhead from Working Title was very passionate about the idea of shooting the show on anamorphic lenses, framed 2.0:1. Director Claire McCarthy and Baker agreed with him that it would be a great choice as they have a high production quality look and give more of a timeless quality, which was very important for a series set in the 1860’s.

“I tested every anamorphic lens set that was available to us in New Zealand which is amazing--pretty much anything you could want was presented to us to play with. I screened these tests to Claire and the producers, and we all felt that the Cooke Anamorphic/i lenses were the right choice,” Baker explained. “They have a high production quality look, but don’t look too ‘slick’ or modern as some of the other lenses we tested. Cooke lenses have such a cinematic quality and look filmic on digital cameras; they have a gentleness that is very pleasing and flattering, yet there is also a sharpness that makes the image bold and the faces pop in the frame. They are also lovely to handle and work with on a practical level too.”

The show was shot on ARRI Alexa cameras. 

The story follows a large cast of characters, each variously associated with the 12 signs of the Zodiac, the planets within the solar system, and the Sun and Moon. Director Claire McCarthy came up with the idea of linking the story arc of the main character Anna Wetherell (played by Eve Hewson) to reflect the Moon’s phases. Baker looked carefully into this in order to find the key moments to light the character according to the moon phase she was in, positioning the light on her face to reflect this phase.  For these scenes, the 75 and 100mm anamorphic lenses provided a very pleasing focus edge to them, especially when shooting around T2.8-4 when shooting mid shots and close ups, to draw the attention to the characters eyes, and mouth and letting the surrounding area drop away.

Baker’s main lenses of choice were the 40mm and the 75mm lenses, and he also used the 65mm Macro as a portrait lens when shooting intimate moments. “The 65mm has a very lovely, flattering quality to it. We could also get the camera quite physically close to our actors with the 65mm to give a feeling of intimacy, but with very little if any distortion,” concluded Baker.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020
Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels
Instagram Reels is displayed on a mobile phone on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 in New York. Facebook's Instagram is officially launching its answer to the hit short video app TikTok — Instagram Reels. The new Instagram feature will let users record and edit 15-second videos with audio, and will let users add visual effects. Users will be able to share Reels with followers in Instagram in a dedicated section called Reels in Explore, or in the Story feature where posts disappear after 24 hours. (AP Photo/Tali Arbel)

Facebook's Instagram is officially launching its answer to the hit short video app TikTok — Instagram Reels.

The new Instagram feature will let users record and edit 15-second videos with audio, and will let users add visual effects. Users will be able to share Reels with followers in Instagram in a dedicated section called Reels in Explore, or in the Story feature where posts disappear after 24 hours.

The Reels option will be available in the Instagram app. The company has been testing Reels in Brazil since November and in France, Germany and India since earlier this summer. 

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services. The Instagram "Story" feature, which lets people share photos and videos that expire in 24 hours, is similar to Snapchat. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced tough questioning about the company's habit of copying rivals before a congressional hearing on July 29.

Facebook earlier launched a TikTok knockoff called Lasso in 2018, but closed that down in July. It also tried services similar to Snapchat called Slingshot and Poke before Instagram Stories caught on. But those were separate apps — it might have more success with a feature built into Instagram.

In fact, copying Snapchat's features was successful for Instagram in part because Snapchat was difficult to figure out for new users. They were already comfortable with Instagram. But TikTok is very easy to use -- easier than Instagram -- and part of its appeal is that you're able to sit back and scroll endlessly with just swipes, without the need to follow anyone or post anything. 

Even with the success of Stories, Snapchat remains popular with younger people, though the Instagram feature has likely limited its growth. Snapchat has more daily users than Twitter. 

For Reels to succeed, Facebook will have to lure video creators away from TikTok. This might be easier to do with Reels since many creators are already on Instagram. In response to published reports that Instagram is paying TikTok influencers to join Reels, Instagram said in a statement that the company "have a long history of reaching out to emerging creators and working to break new stars on Instagram." 

"As with previous products, we remain committed to investing in both our creators and their overall experience, and in certain cases, we may help cover production costs for their creative ideas," the company said.

TikTok, in turn, launched a $200 million "creator fund" in July that it says will grow to over $1 billion in the U.S. in the next three years and more than double that globally, to pay video creators for their material.

TikTok, however, is under fire, possibly opening an opportunity for Facebook.

Microsoft is in talks to buy part of TikTok in what would be a forced sale, following threats from President Donald Trump to ban the Chinese-owned video app, which claims 100 million U.S. users and hundreds of millions globally.

Experts think Facebook has an opportunity to lure in young users with Reels, but its success is not guaranteed. 

"Social media users, especially younger users, tend to use social platforms for different things," said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson. This means Snapchat to message friends privately, Facebook to keep up with school groups or check up on parents and grandparents, Instagram to follow their passions and TikTok for entertainment.

"Instagram has put a lot of effort into developing Reels and making it attractive to TikTok users and the creators who work on the app, but I'm not sure it can replace TikTok," Williamson added. "Even if TikTok were to be banned in the U.S. (which I think is unlikely to happen), users would find a way to keep using it. They are incredibly loyal and protective of TikTok."

Since early July, some TikTok users have been posting videos urging viewers to follow them to other platforms like Instagram, reflecting the threat of a TikTok ban. Mary Keane-Dawson, Group CEO at the influencer marketing agency Takumi, said the creators she works with have been sad, angry and upset about the threat of a ban. Still, they're "pragmatic," she said, and the smart ones were already active on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. 

Reels is debuting in over 50 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Australia and others, as well as officially launching in the test countries — Brazil, France, Germany and India. 

Instagram has more than a billion users worldwide. 

  • Monday, Aug. 3, 2020
Basecamp CTO discusses work collaboration software, limiting Big Tech's power
This photo provided by Metis Communications shows Basecamp CTO David Heinemeier Hansson. Heinemeier Hansson has made a name for himself as one of the tech industry’s more prominent iconoclasts and industry critics. The Danish programmer is a successful entrepreneur who has testified before Congress to argue that Big Tech firms should be more regulated and started an anti-Facebook campaign. He is chief technology officer of BaseCamp, which makes workplace collaboration software, and is also the creator of a widely used software development framework called Ruby on Rails. (Peter Adams/Metis Communications via AP)

David Heinemeier Hansson has made a name for himself as one of the tech industry's more prominent iconoclasts and industry critics. The Danish programmer is a successful entrepreneur who has testified before Congress to argue that Big Tech firms should be more regulated and started an anti-Facebook campaign. He is chief technology officer of Basecamp, which makes workplace collaboration software, and is also the creator of a widely used software development framework called Ruby on Rails.

Hansson discussed remote work in the age of the pandemic and why Big Tech's power should be limited. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Basecamp is mostly remote. Has the pandemic affected how you work? 

A: So Basecamp has been been remote for about 20 years and we have all the systems and processes in place to be able to make that a pleasant experience. But I think what's important to look at with the pandemic is that it's not just remote work, it's remote work during a pandemic. So we have a lot of parents at the company. About half the people at Basecamp have families who all of a sudden have to deal with childcare at home or a spouse who has to share the one home office there. So the pandemic part of it has definitely been difficult. 

Q: Now we've been doing this for a few months, we've seen many companies basically switch to remote mode. Have you seen other companies making mistakes switching to remote work? 

A: The number one mistake I've seen from other companies suddenly being forced to go remote has been that they tried to recreate the office remotely. So if what happened at the office was a bunch of meetings early on Monday morning, those just turned into some calls. 

And this whole idea that you can recreate the office remotely is a nonstarter. It's not a great way to work. Most companies, when they work in the office, work in a very synchronous way that's dictated around a meeting schedule that mandates where people have to be at a certain time.

Getting rid of that and switching to an asynchronous work style where people don't have to be at a certain place at a certain time is the key to unlocking both the productivity and the sanity of anyone working remotely during a pandemic. 

Q: You have been critical about companies like Apple and Google being monopolies. Why do you think they're dangerous? 

A: The power that Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and others have right now to dictate the terms of the digital economy, to capture the lion's share of all economic activity is unprecedented, astounding and incredibly dangerous. 

From 2000 to 2010, I think most people uncritically looked at these companies with just applause. Oh, isn't Google amazing? Isn't it wonderful we can connect to old classmates on Facebook? Look at all these wonderful devices. Apple is putting out. 

That was the honeymoon phase where these companies faced very little critical reception. That's not the case anymore. I don't think there's a lot of people who are just cheering on. Oh, isn't Facebook just universally amazing? Isn't it wonderful that Apple has an iron grip on all distribution of software to the iPhones in such a way that they can shake down individual software makers for 30 percent of the revenue? 

I think some of these storylines now have taken over this uncritical applause that these companies used to have. And that's a huge, powerful and important change that's paving the way for these regulatory actions. I mean, virtually all energy that goes in to legislation or regulation comes from public perception changing. 

Q: Is the way to fix this through regulation? 

A: I think these companies are now so large that they are to some extent immune from the normal pressures of competitive forces that normal companies operate under. If a normal company that does not have a monopoly continues to do bad things to piss off large numbers of their partners, vendors and customers, those partners, vendors and customers will simply choose another option. 

That can't happen when you have a monopoly. When there literally is no choice than to go through, say, the App Store to sell software to iPhone users. All you can do is kick and scream. And Apple knows this. T

What needs to happen is regulatory action, whether that is mandates on these companies' behaviors such as preventing them from monopoly abuses, of dictating terms of payment services, or, in Google's case, opening up their search index to other search engines so that they can use that. 

Q: Can you talk about your Facebook Free campaign? What is it exactly? 

A: So in 2018, well, in advance of what's been going on recently with the advertising boycott, Basecamp came to the conclusion that we should not be voting for more Facebook in the world. We had run some tests, an advertising test in 2017 that used Facebook, and we felt icky doing that. 

The Facebook machine is a massive engine of privacy and exploitation where targeted advertising violates the privacy of the recipients. And we thought, you know, why are we in this? Why are we doing this? Are we doing it just because everyone else is doing it? That's not a good reason. We need to stop. 

So we decided we would not spend any advertising dollars on any of Facebook's platforms. We didn't want more Facebook in the world. In 2020, clearly, we're no longer early on that. And hopefully it will stick and hopefully it will help change what Facebook is and again, not so much because Facebook is afraid of losing this revenue, but because public opinion will be in part turned by this, which will again fuel legislative and regulatory actions so that we get out of this dystopian hellhole that is a Facebook dominated world.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 28, 2020
In reversal, CES gadget show won't be in-person after all
People look at a 145 inch Ultra Large UHD display in the LG booth at the CES tech show, on Jan. 8, 2020, in Las Vegas. CES, one of the world’s biggest technology conferences, won’t be held in person next January due to the coronavirus pandemic, a reversal from May when organizers said it still planned to go ahead with a smaller show in Las Vegas. Instead, the 2021 event will be a virtual convention, one that organizers hope to bring back to Las Vegas in 2022. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

CES, one of the world's biggest technology conferences, will be a virtual event in January due to the coronavirus pandemic, a reversal from May when organizers said it would go on as a smaller gathering in Las Vegas.

The announcement Tuesday is another blow for Las Vegas which, like all other U.S. tourist destinations, is suffering as people stay home or vacation locally. More than 170,00 people attended the four-day show this year in January, before COVID-19 began to spread across the U.S.

States in the South and West are being hit particularly hard. 

In Nevada over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased 27%. The state now ranks sixth in the country for new cases of COVID-19 per capita.

The pandemic has disrupted major tech events everywhere. 

Europe's biggest consumer electronics trade fair, Germany's IFA, usually runs for six days and drew nearly a quarter million people last year. This year, it's half that duration and there will be no public access to the event in September. Web Summit, a glitzy event in Portugal that features high profile tech CEOs and celebrities, will be online this time. Organizers aim to still hold the physical conference in Lisbon in December but won't make any final decisions until early October.

The Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES, had said in May that it planned to go ahead and hold some events in Las Vegas next year, but the thinking changed as COVID-19 cases spiked around the world, making it impossible to hold an indoor event in January 2021, said CTA CEO Gary Shapiro.

There was also uncertainty over whether employees of big tech companies would be allowed to travel by then. Google, for example, said this week that its employees should work from home until at least July 2021. 

The four-day digital version of the CES gadget show begins Jan. 6. 

Kelvin Chan in London contributed to this story. 

  • Friday, Jul. 24, 2020
XM2 PURSUIT gives flight to Tango II drone
Tango II

XM2 PURSUIT, a global aerial solution provider catering to film, visual effects, television and infrastructure industries, has released Tango II, its newest aircraft for commercial and industrial use. Superior to its groundbreaking XM2 Tango predecessor, the Tango II is billed as being the only drone aircraft of its kind to satisfy all needs for film and industrial applications.

Designed and constructed by XM2 PURSUIT’s expert teams of aerial pilots and engineers, Tango II was created with a strong knowledge of film and industrial applications. The result is a powerful and safe platform capable of lifting a wide variety of payloads--including cinematography cameras, VFX and industrial sensors, as well as lighting rigs.

The new Tango II offers a number of unique features built for the serious drone operator, including:

  • Co-pilot flight and maintenance assistant with HELIX flight controller
  • High-Definition FPV camera with controllable tilt
  • Fully autonomous control without No Fly Zone restrictions
  • Designed for operation from moving platforms
  • Dual camera mount capabilities that allow for both over and underslung content capture
  • 40 km/25 mi control range
  • A revolutionary new dampener that produces unmatched stability for silky smooth footage even when utilizing long lenses
  • Retractable and tool-free quick release landing gear complete with a custom control board for improved performance across a wider range of temperatures
  • Custom carry case for optimal portability, meeting the weight and size restrictions to enable travel on any passenger airline

“Our new Tango II aircraft doubles down on performance, allowing pilots to enjoy integrated autonomous flight capabilities with the unmatched benefits of extended flight times and heavy payloads,” said Stephen Oh, leader of XM2 PURSUIT. “When paired with our proprietary XM2 Helix flight controller, Tango II provides freedom and flexibility to experienced drone operators while achieving superb flight characteristics up to a range of 40 kilometers.”

Recent XM2 Tango television and film credits include: No Time to Die, Fast & Furious 9, Westworld and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. 

  • Thursday, Jul. 23, 2020
AP, Sony reach deal for new still and video cameras
This combination photo shows the Associated Press logo on April 26, 2016, in New York, left, and a Sony logo on July 31, 2014, in Tokyo. The Associated Press and Sony Electronics announced a deal to equip all of the news cooperative's still and video photojournalists with new cameras. It will be the first time the AP will have photographers across the world using cameras from the same manufacturer, which the news cooperative hopes will improve consistency and speed. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press says it has reached a deal with Sony Electronics to exclusively equip its photojournalists with new video and still cameras over the next two years.

The AP sends some 3,000 photos and 200 videos a day to customers worldwide. Visual journalism is a point of pride for the news cooperative, which won its 54th Pulitzer Prize this year, the 32nd it has won for photography.

The new Alpha cameras will be smaller and lighter, and employ mirrorless technology, enabling photographers to work silently.

"This is a game-changer for the AP and will give us way more flexibility into the future," said Derl McCrudden, deputy managing editor for visual and digital journalism.

The company would not discuss the size of the investment.

It will be the first time the AP uses video and still cameras from the same manufacturer, which it hopes will allow for greater consistency in the product and more speed. Photographers will be able to easily share lenses and memory cards.

"We think we can get images from the back of cameras to customers in minutes," said J. David Ake, director of photography.

Ake said he hoped the transition would be complete in between 18 months and two years, although training on the new equipment will be initially complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics, said the company is "honored to equip AP's journalists with our technology and support, giving them the opportunity to capture, transmit and deliver imagery in ways they never could before."

  • Thursday, Jul. 16, 2020
Blackmagic Design rolls out URSA Mini Pro 12K
The Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design has announced Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K, a new digital film camera with an advanced 12,288 x 6,480 12K Super 35 image sensor, 14 stops of dynamic range and high frame rate shooting at up to 60 frames per second in 12K at 80 megapixels per frame. This new 3rd generation model supports new Blackmagic Generation 5 Color Science and higher Blackmagic RAW performance, all in the award winning URSA Mini Pro camera body.

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K will be available in July 2020 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide for US$9,995.

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K is a revolution in digital film with a 12,288 x 6480 12K Super 35 sensor and 14 stops of dynamic range, built into the award winning URSA Mini body. The combination of 80 megapixels per frame, new color science and the flexibility of Blackmagic RAW makes working with 12K a reality. Oversampling from 12K gives customers the best 8K and 4K images with the subtle skin tones and extraordinary detail of high end still cameras. Customers can shoot at 60 fps in 12K, 110 fps in 8K and up to 220 fps in 4K Super 16. URSA Mini Pro 12K features an interchangeable PL mount, as well as built in ND filters, dual CFast and UHS-II SD card recorders, a SuperSpeed USB-C expansion port and more.

URSA Mini Pro 12K’s extreme resolution goes well beyond traditional motion picture film. Customers get the benefits of shooting with film including incredible detail, wide dynamic range and rich, deep color. Perfect for feature films, episodic television and immersive, large format IMAX. The incredible definition around objects makes it ideal for working with green screen and VFX including compositing live action and CGI. Super sampling at 12K means customers not only get better color and resolution at 8K, but also a smoothness that comes from making aliasing invisible.

The Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K features a revolutionary new sensor with a native resolution of 12,288 x 6480, which is an incredible 80 megapixels per frame. The Super 35 sensor has a superb 14 stops of dynamic range and a native ISO of 800. The new 12K sensor has equal amounts of red, green and blue pixels and is optimized for images at multiple resolutions. Customers can shoot 12K at 60 fps or use in-sensor scaling to allow 8K or 4K RAW at up to 110 fps without cropping or changing their field of view. URSA Mini Pro’s interchangeable lens mount lets customers choose from the widest range of vintage and modern cinema lenses, so customers can capture every ounce of character and detail from their favorite optics.

The URSA Mini Pro 12K sensor and Blackmagic RAW were designed together to make 12 bit RAW workflows in 12K effortless. As an incredibly efficient next generation codec Blackmagic RAW lets customers shoot 12K and edit on a laptop, a capability that simply isn’t possible with other codecs. The massive resolution of the sensor means you can reframe shots in post for delivery in 8K and 4K. It’s like a multi camera shoot with only one camera. And it’s perfect for great looking vertical and square video, too. The advanced design of the sensor and Blackmagic RAW means that customers can work in any resolution in post production instantly, without rendering, while retaining the full sensor’s color accuracy.

Only Blackmagic RAW makes cinema quality 12-bit, 80 megapixel images at up to 60 frames a reality. Constant quality Q0 and Q5 options and new Q1 and Q3 lock the quality level, allowing compression to adapt, matching the detail of the scene. Constant bitrate encoding options 5:1, 8:1, 12:1 and the new 18:1 are designed to give customers the best possible images with predictable and consistent file size. Customers can record RAW to two cards simultaneously so customers can shoot 12K or 8K to either CFast or UHS-II cards, even at high frame rates. Blackmagic RAW stores camera metadata, lens data, white balance, digital slate information and custom LUTs to ensure consistency of image on set and through post production.

Shooting RAW in 12K preserves the deepest control of detail, exposure and color during post. Oversampling means customers get extremely sharp 8K without harsh edges. Best of all, Blackmagic RAW is designed to accelerate 12K for post production, making it as easy to work with as standard HD or Ultra HD files. It is highly optimized, multi‑threaded, works across multiple CPU cores and is also GPU accelerated to work with Apple Metal, CUDA and OpenCL. So customers can always work with their camera RAW files without having to make proxies. Blackmagic RAW 12K images provide unprecedented resolution and quality for color, keying, compositing, reframing, stabilization and tracking in 4K or 8K.

Blackmagic Generation 5 Color Science features a new film curve designed to make full use of the massive amount of color data from the new URSA Mini Pro 12K sensor. This delivers even better color response for more pleasing skin tones, and better rendering of highly saturated colors such as neon signs and car tail lights in high contrast scenes. Generation 5 Color Science informs complex Blackmagic RAW image processing, with color and dynamic range data from the sensor preserved via metadata for use in postproduction. Compatible with all previously shot Blackmagic RAW files, Generation 5 Color Science lets customers take advantage of the new film curve even with their existing work.

URSA Mini Pro 12K is multiple cameras in one, shooting standard resolutions and frame rates in 4K, 8K and even insanely detailed 12K. With a massive 80 megapixels per frame at 60 fps in RAW customers can capture perfect stills and motion shots in a single camera at the same time. Customers can shoot up to 60 fps in 12K 12,288 x 6480 17:9. For higher frame rates, customers can shoot 110 fps at 8192 x 4320, 140 fps at 8192 x 3408 and even window the sensor to Super 16 to capture 4K at an incredible 220 fps at 4096 x 2160 DCI. URSA Mini Pro 12K has flexible frame rate and resolution options, and captures with improved motion rendering which means that customers get smoother edges in 8K and 4K even at lower frame rates.

URSA Mini Pro 12K is the ultimate high bandwidth recorder with 3 options for recording 12K, which contains almost 10 times the resolution of Ultra HD. Customers get dual built in CFast and UHS-II SD card recorders, and a SuperSpeed USB-C expansion port for recording to fast SATA and NVMe drives. With “Record RAW on 2 Cards” turned on, URSA Mini Pro 12K can record simultaneously across two cards up to an incredible 900MB/s to 2 CFast cards, or an impressive 500MB/s to 2 UHS-II SD cards. The SuperSpeed USB-C expansion port on the rear can record to USB-C flash storage up to 900MB/s as a third recording option so customers won’t be short of choices for capturing stunning 12K up to 60p or 8K up to 110p.

Different projects require different lenses which is why URSA Mini Pro features an interchangeable lens mount. Customers can quickly switch between PL, EF and F mount lenses on the URSA Mini Pro 12K, as well as B4 lenses on the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2. That means customers can work with high quality large PL cinema lenses, EF or F mount photographic lenses, and even B4 broadcast lenses, making URSA Mini Pro compatible with the widest possible range of professional lenses.

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro features an innovative high speed USB-C Expansion Port. The 4.6K G2 model features USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 which operates at up to 5 Gb/s, while the new 12K model has a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 for a blistering 10 Gb/s. Customers can connect and power external flash disks and SSDs or on URSA Mini Pro 12K customers can connect the new URSA Mini Recorder for recording to fast NVMe SSD drives for longer recording times. NVMe SSD drives are ideal for shooting 12K in the highest constant quality 12‑bit Blackmagic RAW in the Q0 setting or for high frame rates. When shooting is complete customers can simply move the external disk to their computer and start editing from the same disk, eliminating file copying.

URSA Mini Pro includes a full version of DaVinci Resolve Studio. Customers get the world’s most advanced solution that combines professional editing, color correction, audio post and visual effects all in one software tool. DaVinci Resolve is used to finish more Hollywood feature films than any other solution, so users will get the best possible post production tools to edit native video from their camera and retain every bit of quality. Whether users are working on major Hollywood feature films, episodic television, music videos, commercials or even the latest YouTube shoot, DaVinci Resolve Studio gives customers a completely lossless workflow for native editing, color correction, effects, audio and delivery.

The new Blackmagic URSA Mini Recorder lets customers record 12-bit Blackmagic RAW files onto fast 2.5 inch SSDs, including the latest U.2 NVMe Enterprise SSDs. SSDs such as the latest 7mm U.2 NVMe disks are super fast, delivering data transfer speeds of up to 900 MB/s. This blazing fast performance allows customers longer recording times for full resolution 4K, 8K and 12K 12-bit Blackmagic RAW files in the highest quality Q0 encoding. The unique design of the Blackmagic URSA Mini Recorder means it attaches directly to the back of their URSA Mini Pro between the camera and the battery. It’s controlled via the USB-C so customers don’t have to worry about manually starting or stopping the SSD recorder.

“With Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K we have advanced imaging technology into a new generation where new styles of shooting will be possible,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “Its not just the 12K sensor, but there is so many other innovations in this camera. From the Generation 5 Color Science, the in sensor scaling, new symmetrical color pattern, full RGB quality and of course the 12K resolution, it’s going to be exciting to see what DOPs do creatively with this technology!”

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K features:

  • 12,288 x 6480 12K Super 35 sensor.
  • Use for feature films, VFX and high end TVC’s.
  • 14 stops of dynamic range and native 800 ISO.
  • New Blackmagic RAW for real time 12K editing.
  • Blackmagic RAW optimized for Metal, CUDA and OpenCL.
  • Generation 5 Color Science with new film curve.
  • Shoot up to 60 fps in 12K, 110 fps at 8K and 220 fps at 4K.
  • Dual card CFast recording at up to 900MB/s.
  • PL mount included, EF and F mounts available.
  • SuperSpeed USB-C for recording to external disks.
  • Includes DaVinci Resolve Studio for post production.
  • Compatible with new Blackmagic URSA Mini Recorder.
  • Thursday, Jul. 16, 2020
Sony shares details on its HDC-P31 multi-purpose POV system camera
Sony's HDC-P31

Sony Electronics has released details on its latest camera, the HDC-P31, a point of view (POV) system camera with remote functionality and 1080/60p HDR capability that complements the company’s versatile lineup of box and portable system camera options. As the demand to streamline media production workflows increases, the model’s remote menu setting and status monitoring minimize the time and personnel needed on-site during a production, since POV cameras are often mounted in inaccessible or hard to reach locations or used on a crane, rail or robotics system. The flexible and lightweight HDC-P31 is ideal for studio, faith and rental applications, and sports production. The HDC-P31 is planned to be available in November of 2020.

The new HD model incorporates a global shutter three 2/3-inch CMOS sensor system for enhanced optical performance that provides high sensitivity and low noise.  In addition, the camera is designed to be used as an integral part of Sony’s popular HDC series ecosystem, creating the same stunning images and look and using the same workflow, but in a smaller POV form factor.  The camera creates a comprehensive system while working alongside Sony’s XVS series of switchers for a powerful ELC Live Production Control Automation system.

“The heart of the camera is its image sensor, and as a leader in sensor technology, Sony continues to combine our legacy and expertise in imaging with feedback from our user base to develop the necessary tools to enhance our lineup and serve the production community,” said Theresa Alesso, pro division president, Sony Electronics.  “From resolution and form factor to price and future capabilities, Sony prides itself on providing choices that empower our users.  With the launch of the HDC-P31, Sony is delivering an option that responds to the industry’s request for remote functionality, paired with a smaller footprint for more mounting freedom, both of which contribute to a streamlined media production workflow.”

Key features
POV cameras are frequently located in difficult to access or isolated positions, so remote functionality helps promote production efficiency by saving time and money and reducing the need for staff on-site.  Remote access using a Web UI is planned for winter 2020 via a software update that will allow for menu setting, status monitoring, log files and firmware updates to be done offsite. The web-based application is easy to setup and does not require dedicated software.  In addition, when using compatible lenses, operators can adjust the back focus of the camera remotely.  For enhanced flexibility, tally can be supported through an IP network cable.

The HDC-P31 provides superb HD imagery with exceptionally high sensitivity of F12 (at 1080/60i, 1080/60p), F13 (at 1080/50i, 1080/50p).  It boasts impressively low noise (62dB), making it possible to capture content even in challenging lighting conditions. 

Additionally the HDC-P31 meets the increasing demand for HDR production by supporting HDR with a choice of S-Log3 / HLG.  Additionally, the camera accommodates Sony’s SR Live workflow, offering simultaneous production in HDR and SDR, which can be done by one production team to reduce cost and complexity.  The HDC-P31 also supports SR Live metadata, which is embedded in the SDI signal feed and ensures consistent quality of both HDR and SDR signals throughout the live production pipeline.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 14, 2020
Amazon unveils shopping cart that knows what you're buying
In a photo provided by Amazon, the company's smart shopping cart is seen in spring 2020 in Los Angeles. The cart, which Amazon unveiled Tuesday, July 14, 2020, uses cameras, sensors and a scale to automatically detect what shoppers drop in. It keeps a tally and then charges their Amazon account when they leave the store. No cashier is needed. (Amazon via AP)

Amazon has a new cure for long supermarket lines: a smart shopping cart. 

The cart, which Amazon unveiled on Tuesday, uses cameras, sensors and a scale to automatically detect what shoppers drop in. It keeps a tally and then charges their Amazon account when they leave the store. No cashier is needed. 

It's the latest attempt by Amazon to shake up the supermarket industry and offer a solution to long checkout lines. The online shopping giant opened a cashier-less supermarket in Seattle that uses cameras and sensors in the ceiling to track what shoppers grab and charge them as they leave. Amazon.com Inc. also has roughly 25 cashier-less convenience stores with similar technology.

The cart, called Amazon Dash Cart, will first show up at a new Los Angeles supermarket Amazon is opening later this year. The store will have cashiers, but Amazon said it wanted to give shoppers a way to bypass any lines. In the future, it could be used at Amazon's Whole Foods grocery chain or other stores, if Amazon sells the technology, but there are no plans for either right now. 

Several startups are already making similar smart shopping carts that are being tested in stores, but many require scanning groceries before dropping them in. 

There's no scanning on the Amazon cart. A screen near the handle lists what's being charged, and the cart can detect when something is taken out and have it removed from the bill. And there's also a way to let the cart know if you need to throw a jacket or purse in the cart so you don't have to carry it around. 

  • Friday, Jul. 10, 2020
London animation studio adapts to finish Disney film
This July 2020 photo taken from video released by Locksmith Animation shows art director Justin Hutchinson-Chatburn, right, communicating on his computer during the filming of a video diary. The London animation studio Locksmith had been in production on "Ron's Gone Wrong" for more than two years before the pandemic hit. Suddenly, animators found themselves on lockdown wrestling with glitchy technology. Hutchinson-Chatburn said it’s remarkable that animation is “thriving and surviving” during the pandemic, but he’s hoping to gather with work colleagues in person soon. (Locksmith Animation via AP)

Hanging under blankets for audio soundproofing and working around patchy home Wi-Fi, a London animation studio is following the British motto of "keep calm and carry on" during the coronavirus pandemic to complete its first feature film in time for Disney's planned release early next year.

Some 270 crew members have been working from home on "Ron's Gone Wrong" in a re-imagined production process that Locksmith co-founder Sarah Smith calls a logistical "nightmare." 

"It's exciting and complex and fun and incredibly challenging," said Smith, a writer and producer of the film. "And once you've done it once, nothing else seems even vaguely interesting because it's like the hardest thing you've ever done."

Most of the crew is remotely connecting to their office workspaces for digital modeling, rigging, animation and lighting. Editors then assemble the remote work, in some cases with temporarily out-of-sync audio. 

"Looking at the stuff in edit was the hardest thing because it was out of sync and with your brain trying to figure out the fine timing of an edit, which in animation is super precise," Smith said. 

The film and television industry halted production in March because of safety fears over the coronavirus pandemic. Some are now restarting production or exploring ways to do so safely. 

Locksmith had been in production for more than two years before the pandemic hit. Suddenly, animators found themselves on lockdown wrestling with glitchy technology while their nearby children stared at tablets. "Ironically and brilliantly, the film is actually about children and screen time," Smith said.

The story is set in a world where talking robots have become children's best friends. For one 13-year-old boy, things don't go according to plan when his bot malfunctions. 

"It's supposed to be taken away and destroyed for being dangerous. But he keeps it, and he tries to teach it how to be a friend," Smith said. 

Voice actors have been unable to record in formal studios during the lockdown. The lead child star had to tell his grandfather to turn off the television and his mother to go offline in order to conserve home internet bandwidth for a remote recording session, Smith said. 

Studio art director Justin Hutchinson-Chatburn said it's remarkable that animation is "thriving and surviving" during the pandemic, but he's hoping to gather with work colleagues in person soon. 

"It will be great when we can all get down the pub because there's going to be some big wrap parties that we are all going to want to go to," he said. 

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