Panasonic Gh4

Jan 132015
 

Torrents and 4K video in the title? I know, it is a cheap tactic to get people to read this, but bear with me. How much  is a 1080p Blu-ray rip now a days? 1.5-3 gigs? Maybe 3-4 gigs if it is not compressed as much or if the movie has a long running time? Well imagine 4K content becomes widely available, those 3 gig torrents would balloon up to 8-20GB. Compressing the files to allow for lower file size would result in a sever drop in video quality, defeating the purpose of 4K. Downloading 20GB movies? No thanks. I don’t think the casual web pirates would want to deal with the trouble of downloading a 20GB movie and then trying to play it on their PC (need a good machine to play high bitrate video).

If You Buy a 4K Panel, Does Your PC Need to be 4k Ready?

No! Many people run dual or three monitor setups. Right now I am running two 1920×1080 screens. My PC could easily handle one or two more screens. Having 4K resolution is great for multitasking. As I write this article, I have a basketball game running, and two big-ass web browser windows open. Yet, despite my 3840×1080 resolution I can only play 1080p content. My PC is pretty old, and 1080p content is the fringe of what I can run smoothly. My next PC build will be 4K compatible. But that’s because I want to be able to edit 4K video. A casual PC user? I’m not sure they will have a machine capable of playing 20gb movie torrents.

4K Players, 4K Blu-ray Players, etc…

With giant file sizes, I think it is more practical to bite the bullet and get 4K players. Panasonic’s player unveiled at CES 2015 can play video at a rate of 100Mbps on discs that hold 100GB of data. Building a PC that can smoothly play 100Mbps and then downloading video content with low compression rates online would be a headache. If you get a nice 4K panel and sit close enough to it where you can resolve the pixels, you would defiantly notice compression artifacts. Hell, even sitting far away I notice compression artifacts. Getting a legit 4K player would definitely allow you to enjoy 4K content seamlessly and at a high quality rate.

4K is Cheap

A 4K  panel will only run you a thousand or two. For a cutting edge technology that is pretty cheap. In fact that price of 4K TVs is not that much higher than 1080p TVs. A native 4K media player will run you $500+, while true 4K Blu-ray player will run you….???? I have no clue! up till recently, there was no such thing as a native 4k Blu-ray player. I’d guess it the Samsung 4K Blu-ray player will cost about $1,000. So for 2,000-3,000 you can play 4K video on a TV. That is really not super expensive. And remember, you can buy a cheaper BD player and upscale content to 4K. Building a PC that can stream/play 4K? That should run you less than $1,000 (without a panel). Cheap!

Is Hollywood Recording in 4K or 2k?

Most Hollywood cameras can shoot 2K, 3K, 4K, 5K, 6K, even 8K. One exception to this are films shot on Arri Alexa cameras. Up until recently Alexas were limited to about 2.5K. Recently Alexa has moved forward, releasing firmware updates that allow their cameras to shoot ~3.5K and introducing new cameras that can shoot 6.5K. So yes, most Hollywood films are being shot above 2K.

Aug 102014
 

Yes and no.

Canon DSLRs are like your dad’s old suits. They are… “special”, a bit out of fashion, but still fit and get the job done. Wait. That’s an awful comparison. When I wear my Dad’s suits, I feel like an idiot. They are circa 1970 and about 3 sizes too big. A better example: My brother’s 15 years old Mercedes Benz; dated, but still has the aura of a car that was once considered premier. It’s crazy to think that Canon was the king of DSLR video a few years ago. If you were shooting on a DSLR, you were doing it on a T2i, 5DmkII, 7D, or 60D. Even when the 5DmkIII came out people flocked to it. I personally never upgraded my 60D because the 7D, 6D, 5Dmk2 and 5Dmk3 cost a lot for the incremental gain in performance. It seems like between the Canon T2i, and the 5DmkIII there was not a whole lot of innovation. I don’t know, the 5DmkIII is several years newer, costs 10x as much… shouldn’t the video quality and features be at least twice as good?

Magic Lantern To The Rescue

If you shoot on Canon DSLRs, you get to enjoy Magic Lantern. Magic Lantern has been around for a while; basically you hack your DSLR with software, (void the warranty) and you get tons of cool features, allowing you to customize your settings in ways that were previously impossible. On top of the this, Magic Lantern introduced a new set of hacks known as Magic Lantern RAW. This allows you to shoot high quality video (basically similar quality to RAW stills).

Using ML Raw is very time consuming and cumbersome. You have to set your camera up properly, record the footage, convert your ML RAW files into a useable (editable) format remove erroneous pink frames from the footage, and then edit. After all of this, unless you shoot on a high end DSLR like a 6D or 5D, you are left with a low resolution video file. So then you can upscale it to bring it up to 720p or 1080p.

It’s a lot of work which is why you usually don’t see entire projects done with Magic Lantern RAW.

Canon vs GH4 vs A7s

The Panasonic GH2was a game changer. It was hackable, and provided lots of video oriented functionality for a small price. The GH3 was better in all respects. It was a “serious” camera. Still, people were hesitant to shoot with GH3s: M4/3, (full frame FTW!) resulting in an aggressive crop factor, lacking lens selection, small (feminine?), and uh… well the video quality was not miles ahead of Canon. The video quality was on par/better than Canon, but if you already owned a Canon DSLR, there was not motivation for you to switch to the GH3.

Up until ~April 2014 Canon was well respected. You had HDMI video out, Magic Lantern, full frame capabilities, good low light performance, third party and built in anti aliasing filters, ML RAW, etc… But then the GH4 and A7s showed up, basically taking all your favorite features and rolling them into a nice clean (and cheap!) package. So does this make the 5DmkII crap? No. It’s still the camera that was considered to be great for video a year ago. The only thing that has changed is the bar has been raised. $2,000 gets your professional video. Canon offers high quality video that rivals Sony and Panasonic, you just have to shell out $5,000+ (C100, C300, C500).

$2,000(ish): The Magic Price for Video

For $2,000 you would be a fool to buy a Canon if all you care about is video. There are two reasons:

  1. Sony A7s
  2. Panasonic GH4

When it comes to these two cameras, Canon is really far behind. Even a hacked 5DmkIII shooting RAW will fall short. And the 5DmkIII retails for a lot more than the GH4! The only reason to stay with Canon in this price range is if you love Canon lenses, or you don’t care about sharp video. So if you shoot video, but don’t care about video quality get a Canon.

Canon, I Will Pray for You

I hope Canon catches up in the prosumer range. I’m a Canon guy. They offer a great mix of lenses, photo and video capabilities. I’d like to stay with Canon. Luckily I’m not a professional, so I don’t need to be on the cutting edge. I don’t need 4K. I need to get better at making films. So I hope when the day comes and I am ready to upgrade from my 60D, Canon will have higher bit rate video, uncompressed in camera video, minimal moire and aliasing in a sub $2,000 body. I am not even asking for 4K. Just good quality 1080p (by today’s standard), that works well out of the box.

May 142014
 

PanasonicGH4

This post is intended to be kind of silly. I ain’t trying to start no wars. Hell, I have a GH4 ad plastered at the top of my page! Anyway, in case you are afraid that you are getting caught up in the hype, this post is for you. My reasons for not buying a Panasonic GH4 are listed from best (mots logical) to worst (most worstest!).

You Don’t Have Peripheral Equipment to Justify a GH4

There is no point in buying a bomb ass camera if you don’t have the equipment to make it look good. I guess if you intend to film your cat, or personal porn videos a GH4 by itself might be enough. But let’s pretend you want to shoot a short film or a documentary. In fact, maybe you want to shoot something more profound that generic test footage or Vimeo montages. If you are shelling out $1,700 on camera, you better produce some awesome stuff with it. Otherwise I am pretty sure you are going to hell. So if you don’t have a good microphone, a good tripod, a good fluid pan head, some sharp-ass lenses and a good editing platform ask yourself “Why the #$%^* am I buying a GH4″. Oh, don’t forget about an external capture device so that you can record the 4K 10bit 4:2:2 feed…

You Want Pristine In Camera Audio

The GH4 suffers from internal audio noise. There is a very subtle noise heard on the GH4 recordings when 3rd party microphones are used. I guess the Panasonic crew did not bother to test the Rode Video Mic or other popular mics with the GH4. The noise is very subtle and is attributed to poor internal shielding.

You Want a Good Low Light Camera

Canon 5D MKIII or Canon 6D. MFT sensors are outperformed by Canon’s full frame. Shame Nikon doesn’t take video seriously, their sensors are even better. If you want low light and 4K get a Sony a7S. The a7S has amazing low light performance. If you want better low light performance on the GH4, you will want to get a Metabones Speed Booster and use Neat Video to clean up noise.

You Want to Shoot Stills

A better camera that combines video power with amazing stills capabilities is the Canon 6D. Yes, the GH4 has way better video capabilities, but the 6D has better low light and can be hacked to shoot RAW video with Magic Lantern. AND the 6D will take better stills. So if you need a combo camera, maybe get the 6D and wait for the GH5?

All You Want is the Best Quality 1080p HD Video

If you shoot in 4K and then downscale the footage to 1080p, you will get better 1080p. Plain and simple. The image is sharper, the pixels are an average of 4 (so the luminance is more accurate) and you get a pseudo 10 bit footage (the chroma blue and red are still 8 bit). How beneficial is this 10 bit footage? Well, the math behind how software downscales stuff is debated and so you may or may not see any benefits. So is GH4 4K footage 10 bit at 1080? No. Will it look nice? Yes, because of the sharpness, not the bit depth.

Do you want better looking HD video? You can get 4K 10 bit 4:2:2 out of a GH4 and downscale it, but it requires an external recorder. Buy a BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera instead (you’ll save $1,000+ in the process).

GH4Ad

You Have A Crappy Computer

How do you expect to edit high quality videos with a crappy computer? High quality video = large file sizes. A 4K 10 bit 4:2:2 file will run you 5 to 6 GB a minute. If you want color grading latitude, you need to shoot in 10 bit 4:2:2. Otherwise you won’t get that jaw dropping look that sold you on the GH4 in the first place.

You Want to Use Canon Lenses

Many people pick Canon DSLR bodies because of the lenses. The Pansonic GH4 can take Canon lenses via an adapter (in fact it can take tons of lenses in various mounts, Nikon included). And you can pimp out your GH4 with a Metabones Speed Booster (a focal reducer designed to alleviate the crop factor and increase low light performance). But none of this beats the ease of grabbing your favorite L series lens, with IS and USM, strapping it on to your Canon body adapter-free, and shooting wide open at F2.8, or F1.2 (if your rich).

You Want the Best Bang For Your Buck

Value is relative. As Griffin Hammond eloquently said “Most of the things that make the GH4 a great camera are also found in the GH3″. Well.. he said something along those lines. Basically if you don’t truly need 4K or 10 bit video, get a GH3. The GH3 is an amazing value at under 1,000. Personally, I think the best values in the industry are used cameras: Canon T2i and Panasonic GH2. These babies sell for pennies on the dollar and provide amazing features/quality for the price.

You Are a Beginner

The GH4 is designed for video enthusiasts and professionals. Luckily for beginners, the camera is really easy to operate. But if you are a beginner, you don’t need to get caught up in high specced cameras and elaborate editing systems. Rather than blowing your budget on a camera body, blow it on lenses. Lenses are the joys of life. Maybe get an entry level DSLR and learn how to shoot cinematic stuff with expensive lenses instead.

You Don’t Have the Time to Edit 4K Video

The workflow for the GH4 will be demanding if you shoot 4K 10bit 4:2:2. If you are just shooting normal 4K or 1080p it’s not so bad. Either way, the file sizes are big and to get the most out of this camera you will have to adopt a workflow that is time consuming. It won’t be as bad as editing BlackMagic uncompressed files or Magic Lantern RAW files. Still, if you need stuff edited quick and easy, its hard to go wrong with entry level canon DSLRs. They are heavily compressed, resulting in a smaller file size. You drag the film into Adobe, color correct for a few seconds, and export.

So there it is, my list of lame reasons not to buy a GH4. If anything, I hope I have made you reflect on your own needs. Sometimes we don’t know what we need. Maybe you need a GH4? Maybe you don’t? Maybe you don’t need one but want one (that’s the mindset with which I buy most of my gear, “I don’t need it, but I want it”).

May 052014
 

filmmaker

I didn’t intend for there to be 10 sites on this list. But as coincidence would have it, there is a nice even 10 sites. Although there is no particular order, I would start at the top and work down. If you follow all these video DSLR sites, you will certainly learn something (or at the very least see some pretty footage :P).

Vimeo (vimeo.com)

Vimeo is basically a hipster/art version of Youtube. As annoying and self indulgent as Vimeo is, it does provide excellent content. A great way to become a better DSLR cinematographer/videographer/whatever, is to be engaged on Vimeo. Whether you are searching for the latest GH4 footage,  cinematography techniques, animation projects, Magic Lantern RAW workflows, or DIY Steadicam footage, Vimeo has all the video resources you need. And most of the people are willing to share their creative techniques. It is a recourse that helps me stay current and in the loop. The site forbids random videos, and is focused on “serious” videos. So register, watch, and discuss!

DVX User (dvxuser.com)

This is the best forum for anyone looking to dip their toes in DSLR filmmaking. It has a nice blend of beginners and knowledgeable professionals. This website has many subforums, and you are bound to to find the answers to your questions somewhere on DVXuser. I’m a member! The forum sections I frequent the most are the Industry News & Information section and the Cinematography section.

REDUser (REDUser.net)

Needless to say people who shoot on $50,000 cameras are a bit more knowledgeable than people who shoot on $2,000 cameras. REDUser is a great site that focuses on Red cameras. Because I don’t shoot on expensive DSLRs, I mostly read the audio, cinematography and workflow threads. There are lots of brilliant minds on this forum and you can incorporate what they teach/discuss into your own work. For instance, I have learned how to remove noise and how to upscale videos (efficiently) on this site – universal knowledge that applies to pros as well as novices.

Philip Bloom (philipbloom.net)

Who does every DSLR shooter want to be? Philip Bloom. He is the epitome of cutting edge DSLR intelligence mixed with cinematography genius. When Philip makes a post or a video, it is worth reading/watching. He documents his own journey via his blog and Vimeo channel. Unlike many video DSLR authorities, his cinematic works looks beautiful and original. He is highly knowledgeable and has a reputation for being honest. I highly recommend reading his blog, or at the very least following his Twitter.

CreativeCOW (creativecow.net)

This is a particularly useful site for video editors or anyone working in post production. CreativeCOW has tons of professionals posting on its forums, and often when I need help with After Effects, or compression settings, or with color grading, my Google search brings up CreativeCOW. I owe a lot to this forum. I am not a member, but I highly suggest doing a search on CreativeCOW if you need help with the more technical aspects of filmmaking.

No Film School (nofilmschool.com)

I don’t like this website very much. The articles are mostly discussing other people’s work. A typical No Film School articles goes like this: “Look at this new footage someone uploaded of blah blah blah”. So why do I include No Film School in my list? Sometimes you get a good article, and more often then not the discussion or comments resulting from the article are interesting to read. And usually the comments left by readers are more educational than the article itself.

Griffin Hammond (youtube.com/user/griffinity)

Griffin is a filmmaker. You know how people always talk about wanting to make a film? Well he actually put his money where his mouth was. He created a Sriracha documentary single-handedly (more or less). He is a valuable resource because he thinks like an engineer. He is extremely crafty, clever (in a good way), and thoughtful. His youtube channel is awesome, I just wish he had more time so that he could make videos more often.

EOS HD/ Andrew Reid (eoshd.com)

Andrew Reid is a British… filmmaker? cinematographer? blogger? dslr hacker? asshole? anamorphic lover? lens tester? sensationalist? robot? person? The truth is, I don’t know who Andrew Reid is, what he does, what he looks like, where he got his money, how he came to power, or what he knows. I do know that he is opinionated and writes articles/reviews about amusing DSLR related stuff. He has a tendency to rub people the wrong way (or maybe people rub him the wrong way?), jabbing with people on Twitter (Phillip Bloom), sensationalizing everything and getting into feuds with other websites (DVXuser). Whether you love him or you hate him, he has a great website that he pours tons of effort into. He’s a bit more of a BlackMagic/Panasonic guy than a Canon guy (for a valid reason: Canon makes inferior consumer level DSLRs when it comes to video) and he focuses on lens and camera tests rather than on filmmaking. Either way, read his articles and browse his forum. The anamorphic lens section of his forum is probably the best anamorphic resources in the world. I am a registered user here as well!

Dave Dugdale (youtube.com/user/drumat5280)

Who is Dave? Dave is the man! Seriously if you don’t know Dave Dugdale, then you are missing out on an awesome resource. A few years ago, Dave was a nobody in the DSLR world. Through hard work and persistence he has built a library of DSLR related videos. He rolls Canon (ftw!), and has just about beaten every Canon Video related subject to death. AN top of all his Canon videos, he has random other video on color grading, lenses, lighting, audio, etc… Dave really enjoys color grading and I believe that will be the focus of his future videos. My only criticism is that he likes things too flat (lack of contrast, shadows), and he over-edits a lot of his photographs (he loves HDR).

Film Riot (youtube.com/user/filmriot)

Basically Ryan Connolly, his family, and his friends have created an entertaining way to learn about filmmaking. It’s not your typical dry, boring, technical crap. I’d say his videos are aimed at beginners age 20 and under. I watch ALL the videos put out by Film Riot, they are too funny and awesome to miss.

Mar 132014
 

The contest is called “My RODE Reel” and I think you can technically you can win $70,000 worth of prizes if you win every single category. Rode has confirmed on their Facebook page that you can submit multiple entries. The competitions has already begun, and it lasts until May 31st, 2014. If you submit your film before April 1st, you get a free t-shirt as well as PluralEyes 3 (software that is very useful for syncing audio and video, worth about $200). In fact, the first 1,000 submissions get a free t-shirt.

myrodereel

The prizes are split across 3 grand prize categories and 6 smaller categories. The smaller prize categories consist of Best Sound Design, Best Soundtrack, Best Cinematography, Best Documentary, Best Non-English Film, and Best Location. The winners of these categories receive a Rode NTG3, Blimp, Boompole and Event 20/20 monitors.

The Grand Prizes are awarded to four categories: Judges’ Film, People’s Choice, Short Film Sound Design, and Judges’ Behind the Scenes. Basically you get a shit ton of gear if you win in these categories. Tons of Rode Gear, Zeiss lenses, Black Magic cameras, Kessler Cranes etc… This is where the majority of the $70,000 prize pool lies.

For example, the winner of the Judge’s Panel wins:

  • BlackMagic Cinema Camera
  • GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition
  • Kessler CineSlider
  • Kessler Paralax
  • Miller Air Tripod System
  • RedRock Micro UltraCage
  • SmallHD DB7 Pro SB
  • Teradek Bolt Pro HDMI
  • Zeiss 35mm ZE lens
  • Zeiss 50mm ZE lens
  • G-Technology G-Dock EV (2TB)
  • ThinkTank Photo Airport Security
  • ThinkTank Photo SpeedRacer
  • ThinkTank Photo DSLR Battery Holder 4
  • ThinkTank Photo Pixel Pocket Rocket
  • Tether Tools iPad Teleprompter kit (including iPad case, connect bracket, RockSolid arm, Pro Clamp, 15mm rail adapter)
  • 12 month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud
  • RedGiant Color Suite
  • RedGiant Shooter Suite
  • RedGiant Keying Suite
  • $500 licensing credit for The Music Bed
  • Event Opal (pair)
  • RODE NTG3
  • RODE Blimp
  • RODE Boompole
  • RODE PG2, 1 x RODE WS7
  • RODE Reporter
  • RODE VideoMic Pro
  • RODE Stereo VideoMic Pro
  • RODE DeadCat VMP
  • RODE DeadKitten
  • RODE iXY
  • RODE smartLav (4)
  • RODE Lavalier (2)
  • RODE Micon-2 (2)
  • RODE Micon-5 (2)
  • RODE RODEGrip+
  • RODE iClamp

So what is the catch? You need to submit an original short, plus an original behind the scenes video that shows you using a Rode microphone. Both videos must be at least 60 seconds long. The short film is limited to 5 minutes, while the behind the scenes film is limited to 10 minutes. Just go to www.myrodereel.com to learn more.

If you don’t own a Rode microphone, I would suggest renting one. If you don’t have any local rental shops, BorrowLenses can ship you one. Or, you can always buy a used Rode microphone off Ebay or Amazon. If I had only $150 or so to invest, I would just get the new Rode VideoMic ($150). Rode also sells a GO version of that mic (Rode VideoMic GO) for $100 brand new, but that mic has poor sound quality.

lens rental

The best deal on Amazon is the Rode VideoMic bundle that comes with a Rode Dead Cat ($40 value) for $160 shipped.


Feb 202014
 

I have been looking for a good deal on the Panasonic AG LA7200 for… 5 years? 6 years? I lost track. I remember when they were going for $300ish on Craigslist. This was before the Canon T2i existed. Then DSLRs got popular for video, and the anamorphic adapter prices went crazy. Recently I was looking up anamorphic prices and I was shocked to see how much the Panasonic AG LA7200 had dropped on Ebay. The LA7200 routinely would go for over $1,100 during the peak of the anamorphic craze (about two years ago).  Old projector lenses would go for $350+ back in those days! I even once saw a Kowa Bell and Howell go for $1,000+. That’s a 2x lens that cannot focus through… It looks pretty though.

Here is a screen shot of the Panasonic LA7200 price drop:

Panasonic AG LA7200

All the lenses I looked up on Ebay were functioning optically. This is crazy, and as SLR Magic’s Anamorphot 1.33x hits the market I suspect the LA7200 prices will continue to drop. I am very happy about this because I have always dreamed of picking up an LA7200. It is not the sharpest lens, and it is bulky, but it is cheap and it can go very wide. The other day I saw a video where a Tokina 11-16 was used as the taking lens with the LA7200.  Assuming they were using the Tokina at about ~15mm, that’s an equivalent to a Full Frame horizontal focal length of 18mm. Here is my math: 15mm x (1.6 crop factor) / (1.33) = 18mm. Stop the lens down, throw on a cheap diopter and the image quality should not be awful.

For now the SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x 50 is too expensive (for me).  It doesn’t have much character (neither does the LA7200). The lens flares are uglier than those of the LA7200 (pure personal opinion). I assume the price will eventually be about twice that of the Panasonic (the Anamorphot 1.33x is priced at $900). It cannot take wide angle lenses (40mm+ on a FF). It has the same stinking 1.33x squeeze. The 1.33x squeeze gives you an industry standard anamorphic aspect ratio, so SLR Magic’s decision of 1.33x is an obvious one. But as an individual film “hobbyist” who exclusively films personal projects a 1.5x squeeze is much more appealing.

I think the Panasonic AG LA7200 is very attractive under $400 for indie filmmakers. Lets face it, if you are an indie filmmaker you care more about story and cinematography than lens sharpness. If I was a semi professional, or if I had an extra $500, I would obviously opt for the SLR Magic Anamorphot; it’s much sharper and easier to handle.

Panasonic AG LA7200

SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x 50 vs Panasonic AG LA7200

Basic Specs
Name Anamorphot 1.33x Panasonic AG LA7200
Thread Size (Front) 77mm None
Thread Size (Rear) 62mm 72mm
Weight 380g 410g
Squeeze Ratio 1.33:1 1.33:1
Widest Taking Lens (FF) ~40mm ~26mm
Sharpness Good Poor
Lens Flare Character Poor Very Good
Bokeh Poor Poor
Minimum Recommended F Ratio ~f/3.5 – f/4 ~f/4 – f/5.6
Diopters Recommended Highly Recommended
Price (USD) ~$900 (New) ~$450-$650 (Used)

 

To learn more about the SLR Magic Anamorphot, visit their website and be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page and read the official PDF that discusses the Anamorphot 1.33x in detail. And as always, be sure to go on Vimeo and watch test footage of the lenses.

Feb 062014
 

I am not going to go all the way back, so I will set the cap for the past 25 years, including this year. So this list will span from 1988 to 2013. Also, I will keep my nominated films confined to “commercial” films that Hollywood can stomach. No foreign exotics in the running here; just lame, generic “Best Pictury” films.

1988: Rain Man

Who actually won: Rain Man

Mississippi Burning may be the more important film, but I think they got it right with Rain Man. I think Rain Man holds up better as well, I didn’t realize that Mississippi Burning was from the late 80′s! Gene Hackman always screams 70′s. A weak year for sure. May personal favorite contender for that year was Working Girl, but it is a silly movie and should not be in the running for Best Picture. Overall, 1988 was an average year for film.

1989: Do the Right Thing

Do The Right Thing

Who actually won: Driving Miss Daisy

Driving Miss Daisy was a beautiful film. It pretty much trumps all of the competition except Do the Right Thing. Do the Right Thing is more creative, more cinematically bold, and more important. 1989 was an underwhelming year, saved by Do the Right Thing and Driving Miss Daisy. I suggest you watch Do The Right Thing, and then cheer yourself up by watching Driving Miss Daisy.  Overall, 1989 was an average year for film.

1990: Dances with Wolves

Who actually won: Dances with Wolves

I always loved Goodfellas, but not in a best picture kind of way. It is certainly the more satisfying film, but I believe that there is a lot more to Dances with Wolves than Goodfellas. I always felt detached when watching Goodfellas. The persistent music, cursing, violence and narration is very repetitive. Don’t get me wrong; I like the film. Overall, 1990 was an average year for film.

1991: The Silence of the Lambs

Who actually won: The Silence of the Lambs

It boils down to JFK and Thelma and Louise not being better than The Silence of the Lambs. JFK was your typical Oliver Stone melodrama, and Thelma and Louis is a film I just never understood. Maybe friendship films get an unfair bias (Driving Miss Daisy, Shawshank Redemption). This is was a weak year. Overall, 1991 was a poor year for film.

1992: Unforgiven

Unforgiven

Who actually won: Unforgiven

A very easy choice, it’s not even close. There were a bunch of mediocre films, and one modern classic. Overall, 1992 was a poor year for film.

1993: Schindler’s List

Who actually won: Schindler’s List

Again, not even close. Schindler’s List is truly one of the greatest films ever made in my opinion. On the whole, the year was not very strong. Overall, 1993 was a below average year for film.

1994: Pulp Fiction

Who actually won: Forrest Gump

Unlike Godfellas, I feel no detachment with Pulp Fiction. I feel like I am in the journey, the dialogue holds up well and there is much more to this film than over the top sensation. I love the camera work, lighting, and editing in Pulp Fiction. This was a strong year: Three Colors: Red, Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption,  and The Lion King could have all been my runner up. I loved Forrest Gump as a child, it has a particular way of dealing with tragedy in a warm and light way. Overall, 1994 was an extremely strong year for film.

1995: Apollo 13

Who actually won: Braveheart

Braveheart is more epic, but a bit too personal. Mel Gibson has a way of making epic films that are obviously personal to him and gritty, but don’t feel as emotional or epic as they should. I kind of got the same vibe with Apocalypto. Apollo 13 is flat out solid. I recently watched the ever so overrated Gravity and kept thinking to myself how much better Apollo 13 is. Overall, 1995 was an above average year for film.

1996: The English Patient

Who actually won: The English Patient

I feel wrong choosing Pulp Fiction over Forrest Gump and then doing it again by choosing Fargo over the The English Patient. I love the The English Patient, it’s one of my favorite films; beautifully shot and wonderfully directed. The film is unambitious and just nice. I don’t know how to put it into words. I initially picked Fargo as the winner, but the more I think about it the more fitting it is to sell out and pick The English Patient. The Coens made something very special. The score is amazing, the cinematography is creative and wonderful, and the performances by the entire cast are cohesive and hilarious. Overall, 1996 was an above average year for film.

1997: Titanic

Who actually won: Titanic

It seems as though picking anything other than Titanic would be a sin. I don’t like giving best picture awards out to films that are considered “best” because of technical achievements or grand scale. If I was not a coward I would pick Good Will Hunting. But… Titainc is a solid beyond the CGI. The story is very engaging, and it’s a mandatory cinematic experience. Overall, 1997 was an above average year for film.

1998: Life Is Beautiful

Who actually won: Shakespeare in Love

1998 is a funny year because you had Life Is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, and The Thin Red Line all losing to Shakespeare in Love in the category of Best Picture. My personal favorite film in the running is The Thin Red Line but that’s because I am a cinematography nut. The best film this year, without question was Life Is Beautiful. Saving Private Ryan is one of the most overrated films of all time by my calculations. Life Is Beautiful is the best acted film in the running, and it really lingers with you. The color grading is superb, not over the top like in Saving Private Ryan. I will never forget Roberto Benigni marching over-dramatically, reminding his son that it is just a game. Overall, 1998 was an extremely strong year for film.

1999: American Beauty

American Beauty

Who actually won: American Beauty

Nothing comes close to touching this film. Easy year for American Beauty, let’s move along. Overall, 1999 was an average year for film.

2000: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Who actually won: Gladiator

I’m not hot on any of the films from this year. Recently watching Traffic and Gladiator I feel neither are as good as I initial felt, Erin Brockovich sucks, therefore leaving Chocolat or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Chocolat is not best picture material, therefor I must settle with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This is how my logic would have gone had O Brother, Where Art Thou? not been made. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is an unimportant but excellently well made film. That is kind of how most Ceon Brothers’ films are, unimportant thematically but excellent. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a pure gimmick, and if you have never seen foreign films maybe you were impressed by it. Overall, 2000 was an average year for film.

2001: Gosford Park

Who actually won: A Beautiful Mind

This was a bizarre year where you could literally pick whoever you want to win: Gosford Park, Amélie, Black Hawk Down, Mullholand Dr., The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, or A Beautiful Mind.. Gosford Park is flat out better filmmaking than A Beautiful Mind, so I chose it over A Beautiful Mind. Amélie is a bit too… I don’t know, innocent? My personal favorite film of the bunch (and one of my favorite films in general) is Mullholand Dr. Overall, 2001 was  a slightly above average year for film.

2002: The Pianist

Who actually won: Chicago

I think Road to Perdition and The Pianist are the best films of this year, Road to Perdition being only marginally better than the competition. Chicago is a kid’s movie and the Lord of The Rings Series sucks more or less. The Pianist is so much better than Road to Perdition and I don’t understand how it got snubbed. Overall, 2002 was a slightly below average year for film.

2003: City of God

City of God

Who actually won: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

2003 was truly awful year for films and so it is not surprising that an awful film won best picture. City of God isn’t particularly excellent, I prefer the actual television series (City of Men). Overall, 2003 was an awful year for film.

2004: The Aviator

Who actually won: The Aviator

2004 was a particularly weak year as well. I feel Million Dollar Baby is a bit of a gimmick. Often times when women are lead roles, or the script contains tragic twists people get excited for reasons other than the film being good. I think the Aviator is a better film. Overall, 2004 was a moderate year for film.

2005: Brokeback Mountain

Who actually won: Crash

Another awful year. Brokeback Mountain was decent marginally better than Crash. I enjoyed Crash way more. Brokeback Mountain was far too depressing, cold and empty. The biggest sin, however, is that despite being set in the scenic Midwest, Ang Lee made very little effort to make Brokeback Mountain visually beautiful. The Midwest doesn’t feel grand, lonesome or beautiful the way it should – it was merely a backdrop. Munich felt far too sensational, and I felt it should have been gritty. Obviously Spielberg is not a gritty director. Overall, 2005 was a poor year for film.

2006: Pan’s Labyrinth

Who actually won: The Departed

The Departed is one of the most over the top and utterly idiotic “Best Picture” films I have ever seen. When I was young and watched it in the theater I though it was amazing. Now I am a bit wiser and it’s just a silly film. This year was an awful one and maybe granting The Departed the award for best picture was actually an indirect life achievement award for Martin Scorcese. Pan’s Labyrinth was unique, well shot, dark, and the definition of what films should strive to be. Children of Men and Little Miss Sunshine are more deserving then the Departed. Overall, 2006 was an above average year for film.

2007: Atonement

Who actually won: No Country for Old Men

After the awe of one of the greatest villains wore off, and a few years passed, I was not as impressed with No Country for Old Men. Quite the opposite happened with There Will Be Blood upon a second watching. Neither film is amazing, and Atonement may have been the most fundamentally solid/non-gimmicky film of the bunch. Overall, 2007 was an excellent year for film.

2008: Slumdog Millionaire

Who actually won: Slumdog Millionaire

Sleek, unique, and chic. Slumdog Millionaire was awesome and The Reader was a distant second. This year has a bunch of mediocre films, and so the year was not strong. Overall, 2008 was a below average year for film

2009: Nothing deserved to win

Who actually won: Don’t know, don’t care.

I would say 2009 is one of the weakest years in the history of the Academy Awards. Overall, 2009 was one of the worst years of all time for film

2010: The King’s Speech

Who actually won: The King’s Speech

I hate picking this film because I felt it was extremely plain and underwhelming. Take for instance Children of a Lesser God, which covered a similar theme. Now that is what I call a beautifully acted and emotional film. The King’s Speech is hollow and uninspiring when compared to Children of a Lesser God. The Social Network was very entertaining, but Sorkin is so pretentious that I can’t take this film as anything beyond Web 2.0 antisocial nerd fiction. I assume the creation of Facebook was not this entertaining, and I think eventually I will see this film as a convoluted fantasy about a bunch of douche bags. Overall, 2010 was an awful year for film.

2011: The Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Who actually won: The Artist

Another turd of a year if you ask me. Malick is a bit too extreme with The Tree of Life so I can’t pick him. You know what? The Artist is even more extreme and more artsy than The Tree of Life. #&%$# The Artist. I’m picking The Tree of Life. Overall, 2011 was a poor year for film.

2012: Lincoln

Who actually won: Argo

I don’t see how you pick a pointless film like Argo over Lincoln. I really don’t understand it. Lincoln was so well directed I could not believe it. It was a film I was not looking forward to watching initially, but minutes into it I was enthralled. Overall, 2012 was an average year for film.

2013: 12 Years a Slave

Who actually won: I better Goddamn be 12 Years a Slave

Lets see, Argo won Best Picture last year. Had it not won Silver Linings Playbook probably would have, which means this year American Hustle will probably take the honors. I need to disclose that I hated American Hustle with a passion. I hope it wins nothing and is forgotten about forever. 12 Years a Slave is one of the better films of the last decade. Overall, 2013 was a below average year for film.

Conclusion:

I disagreed with 14 of the 24 winners, the dissent fell primarily towards the more recent years raising a question. Will I eventually agree with the Academy’s recent choices after a certain period of time? I must say the recent decade has been very weak and I doubt very many films will emerge as timeless classics.  Anyway, 10/24 results in an agreement percentage of 41.7% which means I don’t like my odds for 12 Years a Slave winning.

Jan 222014
 

Right now your typical DSLR or video camera shoots 1080p at 24fps on a decent censor at a fairly compressed bitrate. What this means is that your dynamic range is fairly low, your footage has a bit of noise, and there is macroblocking/compressions artifacts. And you ar able to watch this sub par video quality in 1080p. Then you can compress it some more, upload it to YouTube, and you are left with what barely qualifies as good looking footage.

4k ResolutionAm I a bit melodramatic? Okay, the truth is DSLRs shoot ridiculous video for a bargain price. You can take a $300 DSLR, slap on a few lenses and tell a good story that looks decent visually. Fortunately, it is only a matter of a few years before entry level consumers and prosumers will be able to shoot excellent looking videos on more powerful cameras for low prices. You can already shoot 4K on a cheap Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Things are beginning to move very fast, and we have a good taste of where the industry is going. Recently I wrote an article about the top DSLRs for 2014, concluding that nothing interesting is coming out. That was before the 4K craze at CES. CES showed us that whether or not you like it 4K is coming fast. It seemed like everyone had a 4K TV or camera to show off.

The Top Video Cameras and Video DSLRs under $5000

Plenty of new players are entering the game, and prices of DSLRs are going to drop faster than normal. Here is what the sub $5000 market has to offer:

  • Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera (1080p, RAW)
  • Blackmagic Production Camera 4K (4K, RAW)
  • Blackmagic Cinema Camera (2.5K, RAW)
  • Digital Bolex D16 (1080p, RAW)
  • Ikonoskop A-Cam (used) (1080P, RAW)
  • Axiom 4k Camera (4K, RAW, unknown price)
  • JVC GY-HMQ10 (4K)
  • JVC 4K PX100 (4K video for under $2000, exact model number not yet known)
  • Red One (4k, RAW)
  • Sony FDR AX-100 (what everyone has been talking about, 4K video for $2000)
  • canon Eos c100 (1080p)
  • Canon 5D mkIII (1080p, RAW with Magic Lantern)
  • Canon 5D mkII (1080p, RAW with Magic Lantern)
  • Canon 6D (1080p, RAW with Magic Lantern)
  • Canon 70D (1080p, higher bitrate video)
  • Panasonic GH4
  • Panasonic GH3 (1080p)

Smartphones and Other Devices that Can Shoot 4K Video

  • Sony D6503 ‘Sirius’ (smartphone)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (smartphone)
  • GoPro Hero3 Black Edition (camera)

Do you sense a theme here? I do. The market is getting an influx of 4K and RAW capable devices. 4K TVs (UHD TVs) are roughly two to three times the price of a good 1080p TV. This means that you can get a Sony or Samsung UHD TV for under $3,000. Or you can get a third party brand name for under $1000. Dell’s 28-inch Ultra HD Monitor is priced under $700.

It’s a 4K invasion! There is no doubt that entry level consumers will flock towards 4K for their handheld devices. Most people don’t know what bitrate, compression, color space, or color depth are so they will flock towards higher resolution video rather than higher quality video (like RAW video). The technology for 4K is here and the prices to adopt it have finally reached a sane threshold. It’s only a matter of time until Apple dips its feet into 4K via its smart devices. When that happens 4K will will become the norm and HD will be a thing of the past.

What 4K Camera Should You Buy?

GH4Ad

First of all, you should wait. Right now 4K cameras are overpriced for prosumers (unless you are buying a Panasonic GH4). If you buy a Sony FDR AX-100, you are getting a generic camera that is fine for home videos, but honestly you are getting ripped off. This camera is not designed for serious filmmaking. If you want to create serious films, just get a 5D mkIII with a Magic Lantern RAW hack, or get a Panasonic GH4. The 5D mkIII does not shoot 4K but does produce excellent picture quality (it can shoot RAW video). The Panasonic GH4 does shoot 4K. It shoots glorious 4K and outputs RAW, making it the most powerful video camera under $2,000. In fact the GH4 is the cheapest and most versatile 4K camera on the market (not counting smartphones or other gimmick devices). Read my article about the GH4 specs.


By going 4K right now you are on the cutting edge of technology. It is really expensive to be on the cutting edge of technology:

  • You need to shell out $2,000 minimum for a 4K camera
  • You need to buy a 4K display to enjoy the content
  • You need to build a top of the line PC that can handle editing 4K
  • You may need a PC monitor that supports 4K (to edit your footage)

And once you do all this, you will have no one to share your footage with because most people will not have a 4K display for the next few years.

Do You Need a 4K Display to Enjoy 4K Footage?

No. When 4K is converted down to 1080p, the quality is much greater than regular 1080p. Yep, you heard me correctly. Each pixel is an average of 4 pixels (because the resolution of 4K is about 4x bigger than 1080p), and so the color is much truer because each 1080p pixel has a closer color and luminance to the actual source. Downscaling video from 4K  to 1080p results in a bit of a fake RAW effect as far as color information is concerned. Some people actually argue that downscaling 4K to 1080p is preferred to uncompressed 1080p RAW! The point I am trying to make is that while you may not enjoy the resolution of 4K video today, you will certainly enjoy its increased color accuracy when downscaled to 1080p.

Film Brute