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Saturday, February 19, 2011

••◊ A New Handle On Things

I spent a rainy Saturday in the machine shop creating a new piece of gear for my shoulder mount camera rig. Recently the Red Rock microHandle Plus caught my eye. I said to myself, "I bet I can build one of those in an afternoon." This blog post shows how I did it.

I used the lathe (in the background) to create the handle, to which I mounted a bicycle grip (~$6 at local bike shop). It's hollowed out (not shown) for weight savings.

To create the handle mount I first cut up a chunk of 1" think aluminum to usable size (I'm making two of these).

Second, square up the raw pieces and cut them down to proper size. Drill tool mounting holes and counter-bore for the handle screw. Then mount the piece to a tooling blank to hold it down for further milling operations.

I programmed the CAM computer to do all the outlines - hand calculated! My junior high geometry teacher, Mrs. Hatcher, would be proud if she saw this. The mill cut the outline of the handle mount.

After a little more computer milling for the bottom outline and handle outline (circle on right), I cut the center section down to 15mm thick just for weight savings.

...cut a slot for the handle to mount into.

...then hollow out the center section for weight savings. After this the top part of the handle mount was pretty much complete. I had milled the bottom part of the handle mount earlier in the week.

Here's all three parts disassembled - still needed a little deburring and touch up.

...and finally, fully assembled with my design instructions as a placemat.

More importantly, here's a picture of it on my home brew shoulder rig. Note that the handle is not in the optimal position. I had to displace it for the picture.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

••◊ Quick Tutorial: Wireless Audio for a Canon 5D mark II

My non-audio savvy friends always seem a bit confused when I start talking about audio gain chains and causes of distortion/clipping issues. So this time I decided to put together a quick-n-dirty video tutorial on how I set up wireless audio and level monitoring into my Canon 5D mark II camera. Admittedly this information is reasonably basic for industry sorts, but not everyone is an industry pro. The point is to just get the information out there.

Really, this setup is limited to being good for documentary run-and-gun as well as news/blog videos. For pro audio I would use the 24-bit pristine audio being recorded onto the field recorder - maybe that's just me. It really depends on how soon you need to use the footage. Not everyone has time for audio post.

Shot on a Canon S90 PnS camera...for the atmo-budget film maker! That...and my 5D had to be part of the demonstration vehicle.

Monday, February 14, 2011

••◊ Free After Effects Training

During my production down time I like to do a little self study on topics I know will be useful in the future. One of those topics, if you haven't noticed by now, is Adobe After Effects. I'm not really a visual effects kinda guy, but I do appreciate After Effects for what it can do to improve footage and correct problems. I found a set of ten free beginner tutorials and I wanted to share the link. They're at a site called Video Copilot. My disclaimer is that I have nothing to do with this web site and I don't endorse their products, much less know anything about what they sell. For me it was just a convenient and quick way to learn the very basics of After Effects.

That's it for now. I'm working on another quick tutorial regarding the 5D Mark II and audio for later this week.

Friday, February 4, 2011

••◊ Converting 5D mark II footage from 30p to 24p, part 2

As promised, here's part 2 of the tutorial discussing the conversion of footage from 30p to24p. I left off on part 1 by showing the difference between frame blending and Pixel Motion algorithms in Adobe After Effects. Pixel Motion seemed to be a slam dunk, but as I eluded to, it isn't. See the picture below.

What I found is that the Pixel Motion algorithm will produce these defects that look like someone dropped water on your footage. It happens occasionally with fast motion in the scene and always with large changes in brightness. I noticed it whenever my footage showed a camera flash or a stage light suddenly coming into the shot. The picture completely "freaks out" with camera flashes, as if CMOS sensors and camera flashes weren't incompatible enough. On top of that I was recording athletes who tend to move around a lot.

So again, the question is how to mask this error and the answer is quite simple. You use track opacity to temporarily switch back to frame blending whenever Pixel Motion fails. See the picture below. What keeps this method on from being obvious is that there is likely some type of fast motion or huge change in brightness going on, so our persistence of vision masks the temporary change to the blurry frame blended picture. Also the failure generally occurs in small blocks of frames, so if you're switching over to frame blending for, let's say 5 frames, that's only 0.2 seconds and your brain doesn't really pick up on the change. The picture below shows my time line where the temporary switch over to frame blending happens and the frame blended picture to contrast with the same Pixel Motion-ed frame above.

Is this as good as recording at 23.976 frames per second in the first place? Heck no. However, this method seems to work for the most part and it's better than being stuck with 30p footage. Given the choice between an obviously screwed up Pixel Motion frame and a blurred frame blending frame, guess which one I'm going to choose?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

••◊ Stronger Featured on Ironman Web Site

Stronger is now featured on Ironman Magazine's home page. Many thanks go out to John Balik for making it happen. Also, Vimeo added the film to their staff pics channel so in the last few days it's had nearly 7k views! I'm pumped.