Commentaries | Tests | Reviews | Tutorials

  1. A talking overview of the layout and features at FocusPulling.com, starting with the camera user groups at its core. Might sound complicated at first, but once you're set up, it's two easy steps: tag your clip, then check the box.

    As explained here, you go to the respective Camera User Group, and if you haven't already, join it with your Vimeo account. Then, check the box for that group under Collections, on your own clip, to add it into a brief approval queue. Unlike other groups that let everything in from other cameras, I try to keep it real: so the only way into the streams (also on Facebook and Twitter) is to tag your video with the name of the camera you shot with. Thanks for learning about how this feature works, and if you have a moment, please read the ABOUT page to learn more about the site's features and how to navigate through them, at focuspulling.com/blog/about.

    And remember: (1) Tag Your Clip, then (2) Check the Box! Thanks for sharing and for being a part of this community.

    [NOTE: The video includes closed captioning. To activate, click the CC icon at the bottom-right of the video frame.]

    # vimeo.com/118462171 Uploaded 2,480 Plays / / 0 Comments Watch in Couch Mode
  2. This video presents some sound tests and a running commentary about the RØDE Stereo VideoMic X (SVMX). Not quite an opinion review, and not quite a lab test, this is designed to acquaint you with what the microphone can do, at situations where you aren't honing in on a specific sound, but instead capturing the whole stereo environment around your camera.

    Considering its hefty $800 price tag, the usual advice applies: Don't get want you want, just get what you need! If you need top-quality stereo capture, with excellent wind reduction and isolation from vibrations, using high-fidelity condenser microphone elements in a stereo X-Y pattern, this is the best on-camera stereo capsule on the market. It's also future-proof if your rig grows, with mini XLR balanced ports that take 48V phantom power. Yet, if you do light documentary work, this video also suggests (via the separate sample at vimeo.com/hpmoon/royal) that in-camera stereo microphones often perform really well, and might be enough for your needs to begin with.

    Looking forward to your comments, and further samples of field use. You can buy the RØDE Stereo VideoMic X at focuspull.in/rodex. Thanks for watching, and as this feed grows into a real resource, please hit the Follow button below, to get notified about new video uploads from FocusPulling.com.

    # vimeo.com/117772594 Uploaded 1,926 Plays / / 3 Comments Watch in Couch Mode
  3. Overview with commentary on the Atomos Shogun, emphasizing camera tests and comparisons, rather than a critical review. Mentioned at the beginning, you should start with Atomos' own introductory video, if you haven't already, for an explanation of the Shogun's menus and features in-depth: vimeo.com/114644960. Meanwhile, you can download this source file below, and stream it here or at youtube.com/watch?v=vtHXVKgeQp4 in full UHD-4K. The product is shipping now from the usual places, e.g., bhpho.to/1ikWM5x and focuspull.in/ATOMOS. The included battery lasts less than 30 minutes; an upgrade is essential, and this one goes for a couple of hours: focuspull.in/f975.

    These test results show only slight differences, but they are precise. For apples-to-apples comparison without deviation, there's always a compromise between getting devices into perfect docile alignment, and pushing them to their respective limits using shot diversity and severe motion. I chose the first approach here, for formal comparison, but subsequent field work will bear out the other more instinctual types of comparisons (and I'll be looking forward to seeing your samples).

    As explained in this video's commentary, I was satisfied by the proof here comparing 10-bit 4:2:2 via ProRes HQ (Shogun) against 8-bit 4:2:0 via .MOV (GH4 internal), ironically by way of deduction: the capture looked identical between the Shogun externally versus the BMPCC internally, both recording at 10-bit 4:2:2 via ProRes HQ. The design philosophy at Atomos is right-on: they are leaving sensor design to the big industry vets, while pushing the envelope on this recorder/monitor side where it's usually neglected in camera bodies. I look forward to mating the Shogun as often as possible with the GH4, but as I mention in the commentary, V-Log couldn't come soon enough. For now, as you'll see during each sample, I'm relying upon the FilmConvert plug-in to match footage between different camera color spaces, for common ground. And 10-bit 4:2:2 capture really shows its "colors" when you grade footage heavily, which I do. Less banding, also, during that last shot of the sunset against a gradient sky.

    I "obey" the 180-degree shutter rule always, because a camera test is useless if it doesn't approximate field use, and good cinematographers are obligated to capture motion blur correctly and consistently (for the sake of their audiences)! Thus all of these shots are locked down to a shutter speed of 1/60, as I'm shooting at 30 frames per second. My GH4's ISO was at the minimum 200 in movie mode, though I cranked up to 600 or so after the sun went down. Rather than fiddling with the shutter speed (boo!), I compensated by opening up my aperture on bright lenses, including the lovely Leica 42.5m f/1.2, and the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8.

    Thanks for watching, and as this feed grows into a real resource, please hit the "Follow" button below, to get notified about video uploads from FocusPulling.com. For a quick look behind-the-scenes from this shoot, and for full-resolution comparison stills, there's a photo album at flic.kr/s/aHsk7ez9cQ.

    # vimeo.com/115760414 Uploaded 5,858 Plays / / 26 Comments Watch in Couch Mode
  4. Although you can mount a GoPro on a helmet and turn it around to point at your face, the video quality on a GoPro is inadequate for anything serious. Not that this is serious.

    But I just worked on a shoot that needed to play game at multiplexes, and big screens need clarity. What you'll see in this video is a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (bhpho.to/bmccpckt) and Rokinon 7.5mm prime lens (while my surrounding how-to is shot on a Panasonic GH4). The articulating arm that I mention is a Kamerar 11-inch Tough Friction Arm: kamerar.com/products/11-tough-friction-arm. It stays out of the frame, but there's no getting rid of the helmet without aiming the camera severely downward. So, point: SnorriCam, though it wasn't a problem for this skateboarding shoot with helmets anyway.

    I was surprised by the image stabilization of my own head, without having the benefit of any gimbal or active lens (and without me being some kind of half-fowl mutation, thinking of that viral clip shown here of SmarterEveryDay's "chicken-powered steadicam"). To get the shots I was brought in for, I got tempted to go down the SnorriCam route that starts off this video; but my scene didn't call for stability that's locked onto the torso - instead, the head. I'm pretty stoked at how the gizmo worked out. Yet this commentary ends with a reflection on how Hollywood is a helluva lot different from indie filmmaking, and I'll be writing more about that later at the blog.

    Big thanks to the friendly experts at the under-wraps studio production, especially Julio Macat, A.S.C., Max Macat and Jeremy Hays. And of course, Dad. Music is "A Freak" by Moby, licensed via mobygratis.com. Thanks for watching, and as this feed grows into a real resource, please hit the "Follow" button below, to get notified about video uploads from FocusPulling.com.

    [NOTE: If you make one of these, proceed carefully, at your own risk. You are responsible for taking extra precautions on account of the additional mass created by any head-mounted rig.]

    # vimeo.com/114356432 Uploaded 2,983 Plays / / 8 Comments Watch in Couch Mode
  5. [UPDATE: Check out the final version, with how-to and commentary, at vimeo.com/focuspulling/moonicam.]

    Although you can mount a GoPro on a helmet and turn it around to point at your face, the video quality on a GoPro is inadequate for anything serious. Not that this video is serious.

    But I'm getting ready for a shoot that definitely needs to play game at multiplexes, so here's a test run that I'll explain later with a full commentary/tutorial. For now, I'll mention it was shot with a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and Rokinon 7.5mm prime lens, in ProRes 422 using film log with FilmConvert Pro emulation (while those short exterior shots at the beginning were from a Panasonic GH4).

    I was pretty impressed by the image stabilization of my own head without having the benefit of any gimbal or active lens (and without me being some kind of half-aviary mutation, thinking of that viral video you've probably seen of a "chicken-powered steadicam" at youtube.com/watch?v=UytSNlHw8J8). Sure enough, to get this shot, I was tempted to take the classic SnorriCam approach; but my scene doesn't call for stability locked onto the torso; instead the head. I'm pretty stoked at how it turned out.

    Be sure to follow this Vimeo account for catching the full explanation when it's finished. Thanks for watching!

    # vimeo.com/113128081 Uploaded 2,696 Plays / / 6 Comments Watch in Couch Mode

Commentaries | Tests | Reviews | Tutorials

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