Clean Pictures

What are native ISOs, and do they really exist?

A topic that’s frequently being discussed on HD DSLR blogs and workshops is native ISOs. In photography, ISO is the current standard for measuring film speed, and it’s drawn from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). For digital camera systems, a color image file will assign an ISO setting that will have the same light value... Read more

To Light Or Not To Light

That is the question

As have cameras, lighting gear and techniques have changed through-out the history of moviemaking. In the silent days of cinema, cinematographers rolled extremely slow film stocks on large hand-cranked movie cameras. To light interior scenes, the crew had to make do with gigantic arc lamps that took more than one person to move and could easily fry... Read more

Baked Goods

Fixing it in post isn’t always your best option, especially with H.264

“Let’s just fix it in post” is a statement often heard on sets these days. With nearly all 35mm films going to DI and most high-end digital systems capturing in RAW, a cinematographer will take the occasional shortcut, knowing full well that he or she can make fine adjustments in post. But what if you’re shooting with a non-RAW codec or a highly... Read more

Image Control

An introduction to waveform monitors and why they’re essential

Myth: Once you have a waveform, you’re safe. NOT! In past issues, I’ve talked about luma signals (the brightness component of electronic images) and color-difference components (the color information without the brightness—a strange concept for many of us). I’ve mentioned the transcoding equations that allow us to convert between the red, green... Read more

Clean Machine

Does it take a big machine to play back live HD?

In my last column, I described the process of getting clips in many different formats onto a single timeline for playback in a live show. The event was an awards presentation for a film festival and involved live announcers, playback of the above-mentioned clips, static graphics and previously edited segments. In the past, I’ve used a multiprocessor... Read more


Since the days of analog vidoe, metadata has come a long way

Myth: Metadata is a new concept. In today’s digital video world, video data and sometimes audio data are necessary elements of a video clip, but many other pieces of information can make that clip more useful, easier to manipulate, and ultimately, more valuable over the life of the clip. Every collected piece of video data has a useful life; sometimes... Read more

The Submission Process

Formats can get tricky for a film festival Technical Director

Every two years, I get the chance to survey the world of high-definition formats from a very practical perspective. I’m the Technical Director of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, and our festival receives entries for awards from all over the world. Most of the judging is done using DVD submittals, so those are limited to NTSC and PAL DVD video... Read more

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Should we keep our original signal intact or convert them, especially in regard to analog to digital

Myth: It’s always better to keep signals in the original format rather than convert them. In past columns, I’ve discussed image-format conversion, color-space conversion, video-compression conversion and analog-to-digital conversion. You might get the impression that I hate conversions and that all signals should be retained in the original... Read more