Our poster is getting some buzz. Film premiering tonight!
Though we live in a digital world, for anyone that’s run a Kickstarter campaign, the reality of manufacturing and shipping is a frustrating, hair pulling event.
Obviously if your campaign is for a product this is to be expected, but I’m specifically focusing on films because, you know, that’s what I do. DVDs, posters, t-shirts: most Kickstarter film campaigns have physical goods involved which need to be made and eventually shipped.
As a one man band this can get costly and time-consuming. For Strike, one of the rewards included a bowling pin. But I only had to ship 5. Thinking about buying the boxes and packing material for such a low quantity, I knew it would either be pretty costly, eating up about 15%-20% of the cost of the reward, or I’d have a shit ton of boxes and packing material lying around from buying bulk.
So once I finally got the bowling pins and DVDs and posters together, it sat for a good month or two as I delayed trying to figure out how to ship them.
Then came the magic of the internet. I had been seeing ads for Shyp for a few weeks, mainly since they launched in Miami. For $5 they come to your house, pick up what you need to ship, and take care of the rest. You just pay the carrier fee (they price shop based on the weight and go with the lowest) on top of the $5 service charge.
I gave it a shot with something else I had been meaning to ship. Now I assumed that it was a $5 service fee per package. So when the Hero (Shyp’s name for their package pickup team) arrived I chatted about the service fee and found out that no, it’s not per package but per pickup. That’s the cost for them to go to your place. The number of packages doesn’t matter. He gave an extreme example that you could move your apartment for $5. Don’t think I’ll go that route next time I need to move but good to know.
As soon as I heard that it’s unlimited packages it wasn’t hard to guess where my thoughts went.
So I got back onto Shyp and started adding every reward that needed shipping. The annoying part was individually taking a picture of each shipment and typing every address out on my phone. A bulk upload feature would be nice but I realize this is probably an unusual use for the app.
I submitted to Shyp, the Hero arrived, we put each shipment into it’s own bag and he took it all away. Later that night I got an email confirmation saying everything had shipped along with tracking numbers. Weeks of procrastination finally over with a simple app.
You can use this promo link to sign up to get $30 credit towards a shipment (if you do ship I’ll also get $30 credit. Win / Win).
Exciting news to kick off 2015. Papa Machete, the film I co-produced in Haiti, will be having its US Premiere at Sundance. Dolphin Lover, a short doc I produced, shot, and edited, will be having its World Premiere at Slamdance.
Excited to finally head out to Park City for the festivals with two projects. Though coming from an 80 degree beachy winter in Miami I’ve got a lot of cold weather gear to buy.
Papa Machete trailer below.
Dolphin Lover to come soon, but let’s just leave it with the Slamdance logline. The true story of a man with a porpoise.
A month or so ago Panasonic released a firmware update to the GH4. The biggest feature that got a lot of buzz was a 1:1 shooting ratio, enabling better use of anamorphic lenses. But there was another interesting feature listed that caught my eye. Way down at the bottom of the new features list was this final note:
Loop Recording function is added, with which the camera keeps on recording video while deleting the old footage automatically.
After some research and talking to a Panasonic engineer, it is indeed like a pre-recording feature, though a little clunkier. If you turn the mode on and hit record, the camera will roll. Then once the clip hits the 10 minute mark, it will go delete the first 2 minutes of the clip while still recording.
So say you’re filming Planet Earth, trying to get a shark breaching the water. You’d start the camera and just let it record while you wait for the action. It will keep deleting the beginning of the clip while it records, adding the new footage to the end and just cycling through. Then when you get the action, you stop recording. So now you’ve got a 10 minute clip, of which the part you’re interested in is in the last minute or so.
Not as streamlined as a simple 30 second pre-roll buffer, but it can get the job done if you’re waiting for a quick action shot. Apparently there’s no plans right now to add an actual pre-roll mode.
GoPro announced their anticipated HERO4 camera that now shoots 4K (did they plan their model numbering system years ago to coincide with the rise of 4K?).
4K for $500, not bad. How good is the quality? The release trailer with action shots from the camera says pretty frickin good. I’d say the improvement in quality is not just the resolution but the new Protune feature, letting you manually control the camera’s color, sharpness, ISO limit, and exposure.
The Silver edition is $100 less. While it doesn’t shoot 4K it does have a built in touch screen monitor. Hopefully it has a decent battery system to keep the camera going on a charge.
What I found just as cool as the HERO4 is the new price for the base HERO model – $129. Not that anyone wants to lose a camera, but this is a great price for a crash cam or some precarious angles. Also for the price of one HERO4 you could get 3 HEROs and stock up on different angles.
At NASA’s Moffett Field, about four miles from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., the agency has been developing a drone traffic management program that would in effect be a separate air traffic control system for things that fly low to the ground — around 400 to 500 feet for most drones.
Much like the air traffic control system for conventional aircraft, the program would monitor the skies for weather and traffic. Wind is a particular hazard, because drones weigh so little compared with regular planes.
The system would also make sure the drones do not run into buildings, news helicopters or other lower-flying objects — a more challenging task than for an airplane flying at 30,000 feet. There would also be no-fly zones, such as anywhere near a major airport…
Unlike the typical image of an air traffic control center — a dark room full of people wearing headphones and staring at radar screens — NASA’s system, like the drones themselves, would dispense with the people and use computers and algorithms to figure out where they can and cannot fly.
NY Times reporting today on more drone announcements from Google and what’s being done to manage the influx of drones – both the commercial potential and current open skies for hobbyists.
There definitely needs to be some sort of air traffic system in place but what isn’t clear from this bit about NASA is how does Joe Consumer who bought a DJI Phantom drone to get some cool GoPro shots know where the lanes are? Are manufacturers going to be required to install chips that block the drones from entering certain areas?
And will this be open to private parties to create their own “No Fly List” to prevent drones from flying in areas they don’t want? Say all 84 million acres in the National Park Service system. Or more likely someone like Apple preventing a drone from getting footage of their spaceship campus under construction. Or celebrities keeping spying copters out of their mansions – something I’m surprised we don’t see more of (or maybe I’m just not watching enough TMZ).
As drones become more and more prevalent (especially ones with cameras) I’d expect to see more challenges with rights to privacy and what is and isn’t considered public space. Sidewalks are public property and fair game for taking pictures from. Does that extend 400 feet into the sky?
I’m a big fan of apps that bring back some of the restraints of analog technology that we’ve completely forgotten with digital. Now I’m not giving up my digital cameras or editing programs any time soon, but the restraints are fun exercises in creativity and patience.
1-Hour Photo is a new app that’s pretty self explanatory from the title. Take a photo, wait 60 minutes, see your photo. Just like the old days, except you don’t have to drive down to the photo lab. Will this be my new go to photo app? No. But when you have to wait an hour to see your photo, you think about that picture a lot more.
Would be interesting to see if they add a 36 exposure cap and a ‘reload’ delay. Good exercise to get some action shots with those constraints.
If you’re into other analog apps, I’ve got a text editor from an old project that mimics a Typewriter (no deleting).
When NAB wrapped in April I wanted to take a few days to explore some of the great national parks in the area. So I rented a car and did a small camping road trip through Zion and Bryce Canyon.
The south of Utah is an insanely beautiful assortment of one national park after another, buffered by state parks and national forests. There’s a state park named Kodachrome, after the film stock used to capture its vibrant colors in National Geographic’s first photo series of the location. Plus there’s Arches and Canyonlands, which I had to save for another trip.
While at NAB I caught a bit of a photography workshop that went into HDR. I had written HDR off a while ago as a very specific, over-processed ‘look.’ But the workshop went in to other uses, including more natural looks to get a wider dynamic range but not look over-processed.
So since I was going on my mini-camping road trip to take pictures (something I hadn’t been doing much of in a while), I figured I’d take a lot of bracketed shots to see if I could use HDR to make more dynamic, natural looking pictures.
Using Photomatix, I definitely was not disappointed. It had a variety of ways to blend the images and finely tune the details. It comes with a solid assortment of presets. Plus there even ways to correct for handheld bracketing and ‘ghosting,’ to correct for leaves or other objects naturally moving around during longer exposures.
It also has a great Lightroom workflow that let’s your roundtrip the images you want to merge and bring the final image back to LR.
In this post is the final image from Kolob Canyon in Zion. I’ve including the original bracketed images. I was doing 5 photos for each shot, but the f-stop maxed out at 2.8 for the over exposure images, so I ended up having two of the same shot.
I’ll be posting more final images and bracketed breakdowns in the future.
GH4 arrived on Friday. I took it out to Big Cypress National Preserve to give it a spin and play with the Panasonic 100-300mm 4-5.6 lens I rented.
This isn’t a camera review post but overall the camera was great. I shot a lot of stills and some 4K video. Below you can see an owl chowing down on a fish. The stabilization is amazing – this was all handheld at 100mm or 300mm (that’d be 200mm to 600mm in 35mm).
Out in the field I connected the SD card to the iPad to see what would happen. The pictures popped up along with the 4K video, which surprised me. I imported a clip and it would play fine if I kept the playback controls up. But if I touched the screen to clear them out of the way the video went black. Instagram didn’t know what to do with the video file, even if I trimmed it and had the iPad export a new clip.
So when I get home I pull up the card, click import in Lightroom, and then…nothing. The only stuff that would import was the 4K video files. Lightroom or Photoshop wouldn’t read the RAW files and neither would Preview. This isn’t unusual with new cameras – they each have their own flavor of RAW and updates catch up the software. So it’s just an annoying waiting game.
But then I remembered the iPad. The images appeared but I never imported them to see if they would load. So I bring them back up, import a few, and they totally showed up and imported fine. Lightroom Mobile wouldn’t read them, but iPhoto had no problem. And I was only shooting RAW, not RAW + JPEG, so these weren’t the JPEGs loading.
I went ahead and processed this image of a White Ibis. No idea why the iPad is totally fine handling these files while nothing on the Mac is (except for Panasonic’s software, where you could convert the RAW files to another format), but good to know.
I was fortunate enough to be covering new gear at NAB for Filmmaker Magazine. It was my first time there and overall a great experience. There was a lot of cool updates and little gear solutions like clever light stands or inflatable softboxes, but no one item that totally blew me away. Here are some of my overall observations of the festival as a whole: 4 Observations from a First Time NAB Experience.
In no particular order, here’s a rundown of what I wrote about.
DJI is releasing their own gyro stabilizing rig like the MoVI called Ronin. It’ll be $5k.
I got to play with the GH4 before it came out and learned a few things. I adjusted my order to drop the YAGH Interface. The upcoming Atomos Shogun looks like a better solution.
Edelkrone has a whole series of pocket rigs, ranging from sliders to handles to rails.
Handy grip gear from Manfrotto and Matthews.
Tenba has a camera bag just for GoPros.
The two big camera announcements were Blackmagic’s URSA and AJA’s CION (lots of caps). I was more impressed with URSA.
Lowel is coming out with a small LED fresnel light. It’s adapted from a handheld rig they have which really only has a use for event videographers. But now it’ll be stand mountable with a battery accessory. Decent option on the low end of LED glass lights.