GH4’s Faux Pre-Roll Recording Mode

GH4’s Faux Pre-Roll Recording Mode

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’s 4K HERO4 and $129 Crash Cam

GoPro’s 4K HERO4 and $129 Crash Cam

GoPro Introduces HERO4: The Most Powerful GoPro Lineup, Ever | GoPro News

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.

NASA Developing Automated Air Traffic Control System for Drones – But How to Know Where to Go?

NASA Developing Automated Air Traffic Control System for Drones – But How to Know Where to Go?

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.

via Drone Developers Consider Obstacles That Cannot Be Flown Around – NYTimes.com.

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?

The GH4 RAW Enigma & 4K Footage of an Owl Eating a Fish

The GH4 RAW Enigma & 4K Footage of an Owl Eating a Fish

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.

White Ibis

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.

Some Things I Saw at NAB

Some Things I Saw at NAB

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.

iOpgraher is a handy iPhone / iPad rig.

Airbox softens LED lights.

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.

 

Shot on iPhone (Additional Equipment Used)

Shot on iPhone (Additional Equipment Used)

At the beginning of last month Apple came out with another great commercial featuring day in the life activities of people around the world using Apple products seamlessly in their life. The kicker at the end of the video is that the commercial itself was all shot on an iPhone.

Everything in the video was shot on the same day (January 24, their 30th anniversary) and they released this BTS video showing how it was made with this futuristic video control center with FaceTime feeds of camera crews around the globe.

While the filmmaking mission control center of the future was cool, what struck me was the amount of rigs and gear used in the production. I knew there would be some extra behind the scenes magic used, especially with the disclaimer at the end “Additional apps and equipment used.” But I didn’t realize it was this heavy duty.

Swap out the iPhone with an Alexa or RED camera and it would look like the production of any other Apple commercial. While that does say a lot about the iPhone 5s’ image sensor, I think it says even more for the importance of camera rigs and professional crew and operators to get fantastic images.

Here’s a mashup of my favorite rigs:

iPhone_Mashup-01

iPhone on a MoVI?

iPhone_Shot_0016_Marker_16

iPhone on a boom

iPhone_Shot_0017_Marker_17

iPhone on a crane

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