“That’s a RAP” Episode 1: Three-camera edit about graffiti

This shoot of the pilot show “That’s a RAP” was interesting since we mixed three completely different beasts; Panasonic GH2, Canon T3i and Sony HVR-Z5. Plural Eyes came in handy for matching up all the videos and a Zoom external sound recorder on the timeline.
I did a rough job on color correction in the beginning, matching up the cameras close as possible, thinking that I could fine-tune it after the edit. However, I learned too late that it is much more time-consuming to do it after chopping up all the clips and creating multiple nested sequences, so I left it. Note to myself – color correct first when the edit is complex, especially with multiple cameras and several nested sequences.
In overall, however, I am pleased with the way it turned out. Of course, it could be better, but the most important thing was getting it done in time. I am especially delighted with how GH2 performed for low-light indoor graffiti slide shots. Some of them were shot in ISO 1600 at f1.7 with Lumix 20mm Pancake, and they turned out crisp and clean. $7000 Sony HVR-Z5 is still giving us excess video noise problems. It needs to be replaced with either FS100; better yet, FS700!

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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.

Shallow DOP with Lumix 20mm f1.7 lens

In overall, I am happy with GH2. However, I am hesitant to use it indoors since it’s not very fast. Canon, in Super Flat mode and graded afterward, gives rich “Canon” look, along with shallow DOF that is very cinematic. I’ve trying my hardest to utilize the 14-42mm kit lens for almost everything, but it just does not have the shallow DOF that is required for certain shots, so I bit the bullet and got a Lumix 20mm f1.7. “Wow” is all I am going to say for now. It is super sharp lens with desired shallow DOF I was looking for. It just might become a lens I use for most of the ground shots from now on. I am pleased with this video. It doesn’t tell much of a story, but the images are crisp and colors are rich.
To mimic the Canon further, I enhanced the indoor footage by darkening the shadow a bit with blue, and enhanced the mid-range with a bit of red. Highlights were touched up a bit, if necessary, with red/yellow.
I was bit intimidated with Colorista at first, but it’s a tool I use on every video footage.
To appreciate the sharpness of this lens, please see the video below in 1080p mode.

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.

Herb, the pin striping master

I am going to shoot a documentary someday, but I need to work out all the glitches before that.
Herb is a world-renowned pinstripe artist who lives only a couple of miles from me. He travels all over the world, giving workshops and freelancing. I thought it would be interesting to shoot him of how he does what he does.
I believe in minimum gear, therefore I use whatever light is available to me. Unfortunately, he had flicking fluorescent lights at the shop. I just hoped that 1/50 shutter speed was slow enough to hide that. It kinda did. Flickering cannot be seen during regular playback, but when using fast forward, there definitely is some kind of weird rolling flicker.
I had a chance to use the $79 Igus slider with $24 foldable adjustable sawhorse. They worked better than I expected. To get a smooth sliding motion, I simply pulled the apparatus with a rubber band. I don’t think I need to build a motor control after all, for general use.
Rode shotgun mike was used for the interview. It sounded a bit hollow, due to the distance from the camera to the subject. I need to build a boom pole for next time. Also, the microphone picked in some kind of buzzing sound in the background, probably from the lighting. I tried to filter it out during post, but was not very successful since I don’t know much about audio processing.
Overall, I am pretty happy with the footage. The video quality of GH2 is amazing. My color grading for this beast is getting better. With more practice, I think I will get it licked and make it look rich like I was able to get with T2i.

Computar 12.5mm for skydiving

I had high hopes for the cheap Computar 12.5mm when I took it up to the sky. The plan was to take a video in its native state (25mm full frame equivalent) and crop it in 2.40:1 cinematic mode during post to get rid of the vignetting.
I knew the lens was not real sharp compare to the kit lens, but it produced very filmy looking footage on previous tests, so I expected it to perform accordingly. When the footage was loaded into FCP, I was pretty disappointed. The image looked somewhat filmy but just didn’t have enough details to make it pop, like it was for last week’s footage. Also, there was a blue light streak/blob in the middle when shooting against the light. This, however, might to due to the bad glass since I bought the used, pulled off some video equipment.
In conclusion, I will not be using this lens for skydiving and use it once in awhile in a very low light situation when I really need f1.2

Time Slice “Bullet Time” Effect with 4 DSLR cameras

Ever since I saw a Time Slice effect at SIGRAPH in the 90’s, I’ve been obsessed to try it myself. All I needed was around 100 SLR cameras, which was financially not feasible. Fast forward 20 years later, where there is no film developing costs and wonderful morphing software that can simulate frames between shots pretty accurately. I finally got my hands dirty yesterday. Morphing is not perfect. It’s very difficult to simulate layers. Here’s the result. Out of 4 images 68 ‘tween’ shots were replicated via morphing software and then time streched 2X with After Effects. Due to having different lenses that did not match exactly, the pictures needed to be tweaked almost perfectly with Photoshop to prevent a “rubberband” effect within a morphing program.