Thursday, June 27, 2013

Filmmaker Frenzy - Local 24 Hour Short Film Contest

My wife gets tired of all of the cameras around the house "not being used" - so when she saw an ad for a local 24 hour short film contest, she encouraged me to enter.  It turned out to be a great experience.  Every team was given a theme (this year's was "Don't Make Me Laugh") - and had to turn in a finished cut of a 5 minute (or less) film within 24 hours.

So I raced around trying to get B-roll before sunset, recruited my 7 year old as my co-star for the studio shots (he cost me 5 bucks), fought my editing software all night and turned something in the next day.

No, my so-called "film" didn't win - but it was terrific for an old guy like me to be around the energy, talent and creativity of young filmmakers again - 35 years after film school.  And it was great for my little guy to see himself on the big screen.

For all the folks in the San Francisco Bay Area, this is a cool little festival out in the town of Livermore at the Vine Cinema & Alehouse - a great little art house with dining tables inside the theater - where you can have food delivered from the Zephyr Grill & Bar next door.  Wonderful setup.

Whether you are an aspiring filmmaker, or simply have cameras around the house that are "not being used", you should sign up for next year's contest.  The organizers are great people, the venue is great, and it's a chance to see your work on the big screen.

A big thank you to the sponsors (especially Adam Reeves of ITB Designs) and congratulations to the winners of this year's Filmmaker Frenzy $500 award for Best Picture - local amateurs from a team called Red Canopy for a hilarious "mockumentary" called The Paul Baxter Story.  I hope to be able to link to it when and if it becomes available online.  Here they are, accepting their award:

For all you cameraphiles out there (which describes most of the readers of this blog), their film was shot on a Canon 5D Mark III in h.264. The movie looked very film-like on the big screen and the camera did a great job.

Interestingly, the best cinematography award went to a film shot on the venerable Canon 7D - a camera that doesn't get a lot of love here, but it really looked good on the big screen.

As for my film, Best Medicine - here is a picture from the screening.  My son got a real kick out of seeing himself on the big screen.  OK, I admit it, so did I.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Marked Down - Rode Videomic with Rycote Lyre Mount

The rap on the classic Rode Videomic has been the shock mount.  Review after review has praised the mic - but slammed the flimsy elastic mount.

Rode addressed this problem with a more substantial shock mount on the Videomic Pro - but the VMP is almost $100 more expensive, which can be a big deal for for the low budget shooter.

It seems that Rode has been listening, and has now integrated the classic Videomic with a Rycote Lyre Mount - dispensing with the flimsy elastic bands on the old mount, and replacing them with the Rycote's solid "Hytrel" thermoplastic - which is advertised to have the flexibility of rubber and the strength of plastic. Here's a Rode promo video with the details:

With this new mount, the Rode Videomic becomes a very good value for money - especially since it is now marked down to $169 at Amazon, and $149 on eBay.  As usual, there are only a few left at these prices, so, if you need an external mic, but your budget is less than $200, it may be time to pull the trigger.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Panasonic GH2 shoots Denzel Washington/Mark Wahlberg Picture - "2 Guns"

Upstream Color won't be the only movie shot with hacked GH2s coming to cinemas this year. Hot Rod Cameras - an early pioneer in modifying Panasonic GH cameras for motion picture use (dating back to their trailblazing PL to micro 4/3 adapter for the GH1 back in 2009) - posted this on their Facebook page in May:
"Watch the movie trailer to "2 Guns". Hot Rod Cameras hacked (3x) Gh2 cameras and provided custom lens mounts so the filmmakers could use Panavision anamorphic lenses. Denzel Washington/Mark Wahlberg star in this high-energy action extravaganza!" much of this trailer do you think was shot with the GH2?

You can still find a few used GH2s on Amazon and eBay, but prices are going up - and they're becoming more difficult to find.

I love my GH3 - but I hope the more affordable G6 is as good (and hackable) as the GH2.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Third Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Video from John Brawley!

Great low light performance and awesome dynamic range - but, after seeing some of the recent 5D Mark III RAW footage (as in the clip below), it looks a little soft. It is definitely softer than my GH3 in equivalent lighting conditions.

I still want the Pocket Cinema Camera for the DR, though.  At $995 (body only), you won't find this many stops of dynamic range per dollar anywhere else.

Pre-order yours here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

4% Off Cameras & Lenses at Amazon Until 6/15/13

The main sale page is here - and some cameras start with serious markdowns before the sale - such as the Panasonic GH3 - marked down to $1249

With another 4% taken off the markdown price, it is an even better deal.

This sale won't last long - time to buy that new camera that has been sitting in the "save until later" section of your cart!

5 Stars for Panasonic G6 at Expert Reviews UK!

Their verdict: "A good all-rounder that excels for video capture." The $749.99 G6 may be the best still/video camera below $1000 that Panasonic has produced to date.  It addresses almost all of the video shortcomings of the G series (by adding a microphone jack and full manual control of video), while improving on the still photo capabilities of all of the GH cameras except the $1298 GH3. A few headlines from the review after the jump.

  • The autofocus speed gap between DSLRs and mirrorless DSLMs has been closed: "...autofocus that's just as fast as an SLR, and possibly even faster in low light."
  • Electronic viewfinders have closed the gap with optical viewfinders: "Its electronic viewfinder is significantly bigger, and with a 1.44-million dot resolution, it's sharp enough to reveal more detail than its rivals' optical viewfinders..."
  • The G6's wi-fi feature allows live monitoring of video (better than the GH3), but no live HDMI out (worse than the GH3) [personally, I prefer wi-fi monitoring - I have a phone and a tablet already, while monitors are an additional expense].
Read the full review here - but please come back and preorder your G6 here.  It won't cost you anything extra - and it helps us to continue bringing you the best camera and tech deals.  Thanks so much for your support.

Update - Amazon is offering 4% off this camera (and many others) until June 15th - time to push that cart through.

Update #2 - The G6 is now in stock in the US at Adorama and the Adorama eBay Store for $749!