Low light shoots with GH2

GH2 with fast lens, such as 20mm f1.7, is deadly in low light shoots. All the indoor shots in this commercial were taken with available light, and some of these places were pretty dark!

Light over Isawiyya (Time Lapse)

I always knew the technical side of time lapse but never attempted it since it requires planning and patience.
I want create a short about a village we live in, Isawiyya, an Arab village in Jerusalem. I wanted show beauty, but it doesn’t have any typical beauty shots such as water fall, luscious flowers or shoreline. It does have a gorgeous sunrise over Jordan and Dead Sea, however. I wanted to capture it in its maximum glory using HDR, showing every detail of light.

Simulated Motion Capture

Gangnam Style craze isn’t dying out anytime soon, especially here in Korea.  Instead of making another parody, which requires a team of dancers, I thought I would animate one in After Effects, tracking each major joint frame-by-frame, much like motion capture.  It took a long time, but the result is interesting.

Technical note:  Plexus plugin was used.  The first frame is a reference frame, showing each dot’s relationship with surrounding dots.

Deukjeuk Island & Incheon Fish Market

We were supposed to take off for Palestine/Israel a few days ago but ran into a visa glitch. We are “stuck” in Korea for another month or so until it gets straightened away. In a meanwhile, we visited Mr. and Mrs. Suh whom I have not seen for over 35 years. They live at Duekjuek Island, about an hour from Incheon via a fast ferry boat. They retired years ago, after 1600 kids got adopted through them, including my sister Jan and me.
We also visited Sorae Pogu Fish Market in Incheon, which is the biggest of its kind in the region. Fresh sushi is always on the menu. Everything we ate was alive just minutes before. Heck, the baby octopus was still wiggling when we put the tentacles in our mouths! I didn’t really care for it sucking on my lips/tongue/inner cheeks. 🙂

Technical note — I use “Smooth” Profile (-2, -2, 0, -2) for almost all GH2 shots. I believe it gives the widest possible dynamic range for intended color grading. However, it tends to cast yellowish tint, which I compensate by boosting the red in the midrange while darkening the shadow a bit by boosting green/blue slightly. Highlights are adjusted accordingly to peak at 100%.

Colorista II is used for most of grading. Below if the before/after split screen shots of how a simple color grading was performed to get the results above.

“Bamboo Pole” fishing style in Korea

My brother-in-law took us fishing to hole nearby.  Only “bamboo pole’ style fishing was allowed.  Farmers surrounding the valley use deafening firecrackers to scare away the birds, protecting their livelihood – carefully tended fruits.  We didn’t catch too many fish, but enjoyed a day away from the city.  Jonathan, as usual, ate most of the pork strips!

Open Beauty

There was a scene in the movie “American Beauty,” of a young man, of him showing his girlfriend some footage of an ordinary bag twirling in the air, caught in a whirlpool of wind, never touching the ground. Everything about it was ordinary, yet it was powerfully beautiful. We do not need to travel to exotic locations to appreciate beauty. It is with us everywhere. Like the character in the movie, I just drown in it sometimes.
Take a parachute opening for example. I have seen it thousands of times, and so have millions of other skydivers. I slowed the footage down, and magical thing happened. It reminded of a delicate flower shell in stop motion, shouting to the world, wanting to fly. I utilize whatever is around me, because there is insane amount of beauty, everywhere. I am grateful for being able to capture some of it, forever.

720P 60fps slow motion with Panasonic GH2

The concept and the acting was cheesy and silly, but creating this video was 100% pure fun.
I decided to shoot the whole sequence in a 720P 60 fps mode, with the intent of slowing some parts down for true slow motion in the 24 fps edit line. I was a little concerned about the lack of sharpness compared to 1080p, but GH2 holds up very well — much better than T2i.
I inserted “Bill + Kathy” (dropzone and the airplane owners) at 00:13 in After Effects, for a little gag the locals might appreciate. Motion tracking with Mocha worked well, as usual. Photoshopped decal slipped a little during tracking, but you really had to look frame by frame.
I forgot about the 180 shuttle rule at 00:46, shooting it in 1/50 by accident instead of 1/125, resulting in undesirable motion artifact for some indoor shots. Freefall footage, however, shot in 1/200 shuttle speed, looked pretty good in slow motion, with the footage conformed from 60 to 24 fps.
For color grading, Magic Bullet Mojo was used for ground footage. It turned out a little dark, so lightened it a little using Colorista. For skydiving footage, Colorista was used, bringing up the shadows and giving a slight greenish tint. I added a little yellow to the midrange and a bit of red to lightend hilights.
As I use the GH2 more, I really could use for shallow DOF. I need to get a faster lens.  For technical aspect of achieving slow motion, see my other blog.

Twixtored parachute landing shot with Panasonic Lumix GH2

Twixtor is a great tool to slow down the action, but it only works decent if,
1. The background is somewhat unobscured.
2. The motion of the subject is predictable and in somewhat linear motion.
3. If the footage shot on a tripod.
For this footage, I wanted slow down the action just as the skydiver let go of the toggles, but the footage was too dizzy for Twixtor to calculate. I, therefore, had to settle for the part with a cleaner background. It didn’t turn out too bad regardless, but it isn’t exactly what I wanted.

Motion control turntable and 5K video

A friend is in the motion control mechanical business. He wanted me to test a computerized motion control turntable that is going to be used for 360 degree shots of products. It’s almost like a Lazy Man’s Stop Motion set up. Just hook up to the computer and a camera and tell the software how many pictures need to be taken per rotation, and voila, the device does the rest, triggering the camera between the rotation. It’s pretty cool. I can see great potential, not only getting great 5k video images of spinning products, but capturing a panoramic shot of a great looking landscape by setting it on top of the tripod. On a side note, I am loving the t2i all over again. I can’t believe the video quality it provides with a 50mm f1.8 lens. It’s simply spectacular for indoor footage.

Twixtor super slow motion on skydiving footage

To create frames between four still shots for the "Bullet Time" project, I used a morphing software, manually placing points and curves on each picture, matching the target points as much as possible. The result was pretty accurate, but it took many hours of tweaking. Since then, I was experimenting with Twixtor plugin to see if it could create identical results. Surprisingly it did a better job than what I expected, but not quite as good as manual tweaking. While I was at it, I thought I try a little experiment on skydiving footage that was shot at 60 FPS with Canon T2i.