Zacuto’s “The Great Camera Shootout 2011″ Episode 1

Zacuto assembled a team of top-flight cinematographers and crew to scientifically evaluate the differences between many of the leading cameras out there for filmmakers today in this shootout.  And if you don’t happen to look away around the 20:00 mark right after @planetmitch ’s comments, you might see my mug talking briefly about what I saw in the latitude tests relating to 5D, F3, etc.

It really is astounding to me how far digital cameras of all ranges have come- especially since the 3-CCD betacams of  the late 80s.  In short, there are many excellent choices as a shooter/filmmaker, so don’t get hung up on which camera to rent or buy- just understand how to use what you have to its fullest potential in the context of telling your particular story.

Watch it here:

Hope & Life Conference Live Opener

I did the motion graphics portion of this video in After Effects using expressions and the Trapcode Sound Keys plugin to a temp track which the band played live to. Fun to see it come together live at this brand new Hope and Life conference for youth at Lakewood Church a couple weeks ago.

The edited shots of the pipe drummer were shot on a 5D the week before.

It was designed to coordinate live with the giant 40ft LED screen hoisting up from the floor revealing the “pipe drummer” behind the screen. It actually timed out better in rehearsal so I put the rehearsal clip on the lower right and the actual event on the upper right.

Apologize for the mix- its a combination of temp track, live feed and 5D (hence the handling noise early on, lol) mixed in FCPX.

I used Final Cut Pro X to sync up the clips using the new automatic synchronization (it worked), place them on the screen in boxes and added the canned FCPX titles just to see how the whole process worked with this new software. Since there is no multicam yet, I had to blade the clips and cut out holes on upper tracks (old school way)in a “compound clip”. I also used the share to Vimeo feature to complete the experience. The Share Monitor (FCPX version of Batch Monitor) said the upload failed, but when I checked Vimeo, it was there.

check my blog for more notes on FCPX as I post them.

Note, FCP7 and After Effects are my bread and butter (and thats what I used to create the video for the screen), but I do like some of the new features in X- just not ready for any big projects- at least for me yet….we shall see. Good test.

Technicolor and Superflat comparison on 5D Mark II

This is a quick and dirty, non-scientific comparison of the Technicolor and Superflat picture styles. While its not the same as raw or RGB capture, it certainly is a step in the right direction as it gives you more latitude to grade with in post. I’ve been using the “Superflat” picture style for a long time for everything I shoot, so I’m not comparing it to the standard or neutral settings built-in to the camera (I prefer NOT to do that as I just can’t get enough out of the blacks). Technicolor isn’t a huge change from superflat, very subtle at times, but it definitely gives you a slight lift in the shadows and what looks like a very tiny bit more room in the highlights (watch :42-:46). Also, it seems to handle flesh tones better (watch the guy closeup at :31) and doesn’t go as pinkish in the reds.

The other thing that is promising about Technicolor and Canon developing this is that now we have a standard style to apply to 5D Mark IIs when on a multicam shoot or when you are using someone else’s camera body. Yes, there are other manufacturing issues that can cause bodies not to match but this at least gets us closer than we were.

CineStyle was created by Technicolor color scientists and
engineers over the course of the last 12 months with the
cooperation of Canon U.S.A. Inc.

Bottom line is that I liked what I saw so far and hope to use on on all our future productions.

Tech notes:
I shot this in about 15 minutes and graded in another 10min in Color.
Nikkor 135mm AI lens (old manual)
ISO outside 125
ISO inside 1600
No filters or ND (so forgive my shutter over 1/50th:))
H.264 to ProresHQ conversion with MPEG Streamclip
Edited in FCP 7
Graded in Apple Color (where noted)
The 2nd half of the video is a repeat but without any grading.
Exported to H.264 for Vimeo.

Let me know what your results are, I’d love to hear.

“Beautiful Things” Opener for Lakewood Church shot with Phantom Flex

New service open that is premiering this Easter weekend at Lakewood Church.

This was a very unique project for us as it was all shot with a special high speed camera called the Phantom Flex. Many shots are up to 2560 fps. The result is footage that, when played back at normal (24fps) speed, shows us motion that we normally don’t see (aka God Vision).
What better way to celebrate how God sees us when we become “New Creatures” in Jesus Christ! 2 Cor 5 17

Thank you to EVERYONE involved, the crew that worked tirelessly for days and nights – and CAST that donated their time so generously.

Beautiful Things by Gungor.

Used by permission.

Crazy camera support rigs at NAB 2011

Here’s a sample of some of the crazy cool camera dollies, jibs, sliders, and more I saw at NAB this week. Most are also crazy expensive, except one that was only $600, guess which one…


This was at the Movie Engineering booth- it’s built like a tank and looks FAST!






Yeah, thats a RED ONE under there.  It has full roll, pan and tilt once its airborne.

$6500/day includes the Red and three operators.  $3500/day for a smaller DSLR suitable model.



DC Slider Jib.

Matthews said they were shocked at how popular this was at the show- already sold out.

Its a combination slider/jib and built really well.  The Kessler is great, but if you need something even beefier and more flexible, look at this sweet piece of machinery.  It has a built in counterweight system that allows the head to stay put even when the track is at an extreme angle.  Its not really designed to do a track and jib move simultaneously- however, if you don’t mind a dutch angle and are really careful (maybe with someone helping on other end) you could do some pretty complex moves- almost Technocrane- style.

AND, there is a timelapse, motion control option for the slider.  What sets this rig apart is you can manually do a track move (start slow, speed up, slow down, etc. or whatever you want) and it will RECORD what you did and playback at different speeds!  Wow for this price-point.  Also, I could be wrong about this (I’m going on memory), but I believe it controlled the pan and tilt on the head as well.

$7500 for system (not including base tripod or head) , $2,000 additional for motorized package.



They’ve been around since last year, but still way cool.  Its really designed to work with Epic- they borrowed one from Red for the show(they are still waiting on theirs).



Go Pro Stereo 3D rig on an RC helicopter.

They can now do 3D just by adding a $100 housing to 2 Hero cameras.  Syncing is done through a special website.



JL Fischer jib on a Fischer 9 dolly.



For a fraction of the price of most others like this, all-aluminum construction from S. Korea.

They also had a $300 or $400 slider that was pretty slick.

Really nice guys too.

I don’t see this on their site yet, I think its shipping in a few months.

New High Speed cinema camera at NAB

I had a nice chat with John Rule and his associate at Fastec about the new TS3 camera they’re introducing by end of summer. Big 1 inch imager, 700+fps, 720p, handheld form-factor(without being tethered to a laptop), huge LCD screen, built in 128gb SSD, and the best thing- they’re using the Adobe Cinema DNG codec, so the quality should really hold up in post.

It’s not cheap, but when you compare it to the approx $150,000 price tag of a Phantom Flex, the $30,000 is not bad- especially as a rental house item. I love the Flex(we shot with one last week), but it doesn’t always fit into most budgets. I can’t wait to try this new Fastec out!


One week with the Phantom Flex











Phantom Flex clip 1

Phantom Flex clip 1 from Dan Rubottom on Vimeo.

Wow, what a week learning how to shoot not only with a new camera, but an entire different workflow on set.

Here’s one of the random clips we shot this week with the Phantom Flex. We mostly shot people stuff all week- more of that later- but did a couple fun tests too.
I think this was around 2000 fps.
Zeiss 100mm T3 Macro

Now, time to edit- main project coming soon.

1000 FPS test

Our intern Brandon Smith, took one for the team today when we ran some tests on the Fastec Imaging high speed camera

1024 fps at 1056×588 pixels

Fastec HiSpec 1 monochome camera

motion is amazing, but the codec is showing macro blocking with some scenes with high detail. Exported from Fastec software as uncompressed avi. If you know how to export to a better codec or how to get rid of artifacts please let me know.