Merry Christmas family video with 42Mbp hacked GH2 and Lumix 20mm f1.7

The hack to increase the image quality for GH2 has been out for awhile. I was hesitant to install it since I thought would be a daunting task, which turned out to be unfounded.
The whole process takes merely minutes, and the quality is noticeably better than before the hack.
I really wanted to shoot something with this “new” toy, so I brought it to the Christmas Light tour, just to see how well it performed under such unusual condition. Wow, I was impressed. It cleans out the blobby noise in blacks and the footage looks crisp like finely scanned film.
20mm pancake lens is definitely worth its money, shooting it wide open at 1.7. I adjusted the ISO accordingly, as high as 1200 on some shots.
It was going to be a simple test shoot, but I got enough footage to make a little video Christmas Card out of the deal.
I was very satisfied with the color rendition, even without any color correction. I hope it shoots as well under the daylight. I am sure I don’t have to wait too long.

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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.

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.

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.

Finally got to jump the GH2!

As soon as the church service was over, I ran outside to check the sky. I have not been able to get out to the Parachute Center, AKA Lodi, for a couple of months due to weathered out Sundays, my day of ‘rest.’
It was iffy, but I decided to head out anyway because I could not bare waiting any longer.
I have had a Panasonic GH2 for about a month and have been very anxious to jump it to see how it performs on freefall.
It was a good call, driving out. We only got 7500’ on my first jump, but full altitude on the second. The clouds made spectacular background.
GH2 performed well. The built-in stabilization kicked in, smoothing out the video a bit. I still had to use the FCP Smoothcam to make it silky smooth. The resolution is noticeably higher than T2i. The video looked quite sharp even if I had to zoom in a bit during post.
The footage color graded nicely. The kit lens looked crisp during freefall, almost TOO much. I will try the lower quality Computar lens next time to see if I can get more filmy look.
Overall, I am very happy with GH2. It’s much better than T2i for freefall videography. It’s smaller, sharper and has more features for what I do. The two biggest features I find is very useful are,
(1) Being able to look through the viewfinder or in a Liveview mode.
(2) Being able to manual focus quickly by zooming in 10x with one button.
Oh.. this just might be the first freefall footage ever taken with GH2!

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.

Magic Bullet Colorista II by Red Giant

I like the process and result of Apple Color, but the constant export/import from/to FCP interrupts smooth workflow. Colorista II plugin from Red Giant Magic Bullet seems to be pretty good. It does not, however, have nice color graph/chart like Apple Color does. The footage below was taken with Magic Lantern 1.09 firmware installed; ISO 160, 1/50th shuttle, 1.8 f-stop with Canon 50mm prime.
Also, Magic Lantern hack was installed. The installation instruction can be found at http://vimeo.com/18035870