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Sunday, October 27, 2013

••◊ Flowers from San Diego's Fall-Spring

While others are featuring images of graphic horror for Halloween, I thought I would juxtapose that with the beauty of San Diego's fall-spring.  You see, San Diego has two spring seasons: spring and fall-spring.  During fall-spring the flowers come out to bloom once again before the high desert air freezes them.  Unlike a lot of the other parts of the country that are slowly settling into sweater weather, it was a mild and humid 80F here today.

As I was coming home last week I noticed the local flowers in bloom, so my neighbor and I headed out on a field trip to take a few pictures today.  It was also a chance to use my new Zeiss macro lenses: 100mm, 50mm, and 21mm (non-macro).  I just love what those lenses can produce and I'm even learning to love wide angles again thanks to the awesome 21mm.  Now if only the wind cooperated a little more.  Every time I would get focus the wind would blow the flower out of focus.  As you can see, the depth of field was quite shallow.  So pictures were hit and miss, but that's OK.  No pressure on this assignment.  Also, I had to be quick on the draw with the bees in the picture.  They quickly became known as "you little bastards" since they would often move on to the next flower before I could get focus and press the shutter button (me: fist pumping and swearing at them as they happily buzzed elsewhere), however I managed to capture a few at work.  Please enjoy the pictures below.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

••◊ Problems with Premier Pro scopes

I recently had to master a few DVDs and Blu-ray disks for a film festival and, of course, I wanted to make sure that the final masters were done correctly.  The bottom line is that the scopes in Adobe Premier Pro don't work correctly. 

After doing some research I found that Blu-ray disks also have to be authored with levels between 16-235.  Why...after all this time and digital interfaces?  Beats me.  Computer screens are the same LCD panels as home TVs and yet we still have to deal with black at 7.5 IRE and white at 100 IRE.  Why not the same 0 IRE (=digital 0) and 109 IRE (=digital 255) that we play over the Internet all the time?

Another issue is that I used the "Dip to Black" transition in quite a few places in my film and didn't realize that this transition gets applied *after* all effects on the clip.  So even if you correct the levels to 16-235 using the "Levels" effect in a new master sequence, the "Dip to Black" transition brings the video levels down to the undesirable absolute black 0 IRE.  To work around this I rendered out the entire film to Quicktime uncompressed 10-bit YUV, then re-imported the uncompressed video and applied the "Level" effect to set the levels between the desired 16-235.

OK, so the levels should -in theory- be set correctly.  That should be easy to verify, right?  Maybe not.  Let's start with a simplified example of a black and white patch.  As anyone familiar with video engineering knows the levels should be at 0 IRE and 109 IRE for absolute black and absolute white respectively.  If you open the second picture you'll see that the luma waveforms show 0 IRE (correct) and 100 IRE (not correct), yet their y-axis goes up to 120 IRE!  Keep in mind that I'm using an "ancient" CS5 version of Premier Pro.  Maybe Adobe has fixed this by now(?)


Now let's apply a "Levels" effect to the both the black and white patch.  This will convert the black patch from 0 to 16 (7.5 IRE) and should in theory change the white patch from 255 to 235 (100 IRE).  The black patch looks almost correct by coming up just shy of the 7.5 IRE dotted line.  The white patch goes down to about 92 IRE...fail!

I don't know what to say here.  It seems like such a simple thing to make scopes work correctly.  Heck, I could write this code!  ...and don't get me started on their vectorscope that doesn't work properly for HD video.

This is something to watch out for when mastering any video for broadcast or silver disk distribution.  You just need to be aware that the Premier Pro scopes don't work properly.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

••◊ Random Photos from the Annnual Washington Ironman Trip

It was time once again for my annual Ironman bodybuilding show trip.  When I heard this show was going to be held in a church I thought to myself, "flesh peddling in a church?...I'm in!"

Lately the motivation/commitment to really go out and find those photos that make an impact as been sorely missing and it's a rough road trying to turn that around.  As I exited the airport terminal to arrival pickup to fresh northwest air the ground was still wet from a light sprinkle, or what Southern Californians would refer to as a "rain event."  Even though there was probably more available photographically all I could find were a couple reflections of flags.  Photographic reflections have been an area of focus the last few weeks because I found that I often miss opportunities for photos involving reflections in favor of more conventional direct photography.  Just a note for self improvement.

My aunt and I went to see "Prisoners" at the Majestic Bay theater in the Ballard community of Seattle.  It's interesting to note that this theater is the oldest continually operating movie theater in the country - see the placard below.  They also have an "usher pig."  The pigs were part of a larger community art project across Seattle.  I'm pretty sure I put a photo up on my blog last year showing the pig at Pike's Place Market.  It's good to know that the pigs didn't end up in the slaughter house.

Below are some of the random pictures from the bodybuilding show.  I was exiled far, far in the back of the venue this time so there wasn't really time, nor locality to the stage to take show photographs.  I kind of got what I got and that was it.  The blue console below was my eagle eye view for the entire day.  We had to communicate over walkie-talkies to coordinate activities because almost everyone else in the crew was backstage!  It was just Jack, their house audio engineer, and I back at the board.

After the mid-day break we came back to Jack playing "symphonic metal" over the PA.  I told him, "I knew it!  You guys play death metal while the staff is out, don't you?"


The two pictures below are from the north terminal train inside SeaTac airport.  I knew that the movement would produce some interesting streaking results and perspective distortion.  I just couldn't decide which picture orientation I found more interesting, so I posted both.  Identifying perspective and leading lines is something I'm always trying to get better at, so I recognize it when I can.  My next self induced challenge will probably involve triangles in compositions.

This week back has been incredibly busy.  Thursday I went to a talk at the ASC Clubhouse with John Toll.  His most recently released work was Ironman 3,but I still prefer "A River Runs Through It" for the compositional beauty.  Off to more challenges of this week...