Digital Democracy

The dark side of a level playing field

With just a few dollars, a would-be (or wannabe) filmmaker can purchase a DSLR for less than $1,000 and a program like Final Cut Pro X for $299, and go on to produce a movie that, if good enough, could be seen at your local multiplex. But what if it isn’t good enough for theatrical release? Just as remarkable, a filmmaker now can upload a movie—minutes... Read more

4K Plug-And-Play

The process of shooting and playing back 4K at home

At AbelCine, we’re always trying to stay on the cutting edge of technological development in the camera world, so we often get questions about the latest cameras and workflows. Recently, a client asked about playing back 4K footage on his new Sony 4K home theater projector, which he primarily used for HD screenings. Now he wanted to be able to... Read more

Future Proofed

Examining the Sound Devices 664 Field Production Mixer and the Sennheiser MKE 600

SOUND DEVICES 664 FIELD PRODUCTION MIXER Q I’m looking to upgrade from my current sound setup of a Zoom H4n and a Shure FP33 mixer. I feel as if I’ve pushed the technology as far as I can and I want to get serious about my location sound gear. I can’t afford top-of-the-line sound gear, but I want a setup that’s as future-proofed... Read more

Crossing The Line

HD-SDI cable, and the 180° rule explained

HD-SDI CABLE Q What’s the longest distance that I can run an SDI cable? Frank S. Forest Park, Illinois A When an analog cable run was too long, the picture quality would diminish. On the other hand, digital video cable runs give you a solid indication when you’ve gone too far: You won’t get an image. The maximum distance before... Read more

The Right 8 Bits

What’s two bits between friends?

For DSLR shooters, the cool current "must-have" feature is Clean HDMI. When used in conjunction with a digital recorder, cameras like the Nikon D4 and D800, as well as the Panasonic GH2 and a few others, can capture high-quality ProRes files via the cameras’ HDMI output. ProRes is a lossy intermediate codec that gives you a much higher... Read more

Serial Digital What?

3G, 4:4:4 and HD-SDI explained

At AbelCine, we’ve embraced the trend toward external video recorders. Convergent Design’s nanoFlash, launched in 2009, was one of the first on-camera HD recorders that actually offered improved recording quality over what was found in the camera. Since then, companies like AJA, Atomos, Cinedeck, Codex, Blackmagic Design and Sound Devices... Read more

All By Myself

A unique USB microphone, and devising a preproduction sound checklist

AUDIO-TECHNICA ATR2100-USB Q I was hired by an ad agency to record voiceover narrations for a corporate project. I’m producing the sessions myself and the budget is tight. I can’t afford to work in a recording studio. What’s your recommendation for the most cost-effective, reasonable-quality microphone that I could use at home to... Read more

Get The Balance Right

Tiffen’s Dfx software, dealing with compression and off the beaten path at NAB

ACHIEVING THE RIGHT BALANCE Q I don’t always get the white balance right when I’m shooting. Sometimes when I’m running and gunning, I’m not looking at a good color image on a monitor. It’s not until I’m done that I realize I’ve screwed up. Then I have to hand off my footage and am really embarrassed. I was... Read more

Disruptive Tech v2.0

With lower margins, the 99% wins

Many years ago, when I first started attending trade shows like NAB and Cine Gear, you always could count on seeing impressive booths from industry-standard companies like Panavision, Kodak and Apple, as well as pro rental houses displaying massive dollies and cranes. But, for me, like many indie filmmakers, the equipment was out of reach, as well as... Read more

Going Soft?

Understanding back focus

At AbelCine, we have a great deal of experience in digital cinema, with a strong focus on optics. Lately, I’ve been fielding a number of questions relating to a lens’ back focus, more accurately described as the lens’ flange focal distance. In this column, I’ll address some of the subtleties of back focus and why it’s so... Read more

Taking Aim

Room tone, and the Que Audio Q Sniper Kit

ROOM TONE Q Can you tell me a bit about room tone? What exactly is room tone, and how is it used typically? Mark W. Via e-mail A I sometimes refer to room tone as "audio Spackle®." Much like drywall Spackle® is used to patch over the uneven tape seams, nail holes and tears in sheetrock, room tone is recorded by sound mixers on set and... Read more

Reality Is Relative

How Rango’s photo-realism is changing the future of movies

Misinformation isn’t always unintentional. As Martin Scorsese’s Hugo made lovingly clear, filmmakers have always been magicians and illusionists, expertly blurring the line between reality and fantasy. But while early audiences naively ducked and scattered at the novel sight of a train thundering toward them on the silver screen, audiences... Read more