Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs... RIP

 Woke up to hear the news that Steve Jobs has died. He's been ill with Cancer for some time, so i guess there's some relief for his family that he's finally done with the suffering and pain that Cancer brings.

Steve was a true visionary. He didn't give people solutions for their problems... he gave them solutions for the problems they'd have in the future. He always looked ahead. His way of thinking infuriated some people...(mainly the PC mob), but for many of us, he was showing us how cool the future could be if we let technology shoulder some of the burden of everyday life. The iPod, iPad, iMac and the iPhone changed everything. Even if you never owned a single one of them...their influence touched everything that came after. Remember the first iMacs? They were white and blue...or white and orange or red or green. In those days all computers were beige...nasty nicotine coloured things with no design at all. Then suddenly the iMac arrived and everyone realised that computers could look stylish at the same time as functioning well.

That changed the world. PCs started arriving on the market in more outlandish colours. Steve moved on... The G5 tower arrived. Sleek, aluminium...very functional and very stylish... but different from the colourful iMacs. Let's not forget OSX. A truly revolutionary operating system that Windows has been trying to catch up with ever since. OSX is still going strong... easy to use, easy on the annoying bullshit in the way of you getting things done.

What about the Macbook? A really small and cheap laptop that can out-perform a lot of desktop PCs.... it's £700!!!  That's madness... And if small is your thing, there's the MacBook AIR... a stunning piece of design that fits some people's idea of the perfect travel laptop.

I could go on.... Apple TV, iPod Nano...(how small???!!!) ...and the iPad!! The iPad is still finding it's feet in the world...and yet there are more iPads in the world than there were PCs 10 years ago.. Think about that. That's a lot of iPads.

How did i get into Apple? I was forced...  back in 2003, i was a PC user. I was using a package called Logic Audio on the PC for all my music production work. I loved this software...i still do. Then, Apple bought it. They discontinued PC support straight away and i was left with a choice... learn a new piece of software, or buy a Mac. This meant a huge upheaval. Replacing all my software and ditching the PC forever...   I rarely had issues with my PC. I had learnt to build my own and i knew how to optimise them for use in the studio. It rarely crashed and i wasn't keen on spending £2k on a G5... but that's what i did. It took about a week before i realised i was never going back to PCs.

Soon after that i got my first iBook. A little 11inch laptop that changed the way i worked. I could work from anywhere and never have to wait for it to boot up....i just left it in sleep mode all the time.. impossible in those days on a PC.

Then i upgraded to a newer Macbook.... the 13 inch model. I loved that laptop. It's still going strong now. Then i upgraded to the 15 inch MacBook Pro...the unibody one. That's what i'm using right now. It does all my editing, my composing, my internet, my calender...everything. I picked up a second hand G5 iMac for the kids to use at home...and they also have my old G5... it's still going.

Last summer i bought an iPad 2....  and in about a month i'm going to buy a new iMac for editing on.

So, as you can tell... i'm a huge Apple convert. Their products work perfectly... the OS never crashes.... they are fast... they are beautiful and the back up from Apple is second to none. I once took my secondhand macbook in to an Apple store because the case had a crack in it. No receipt. No paperwork...nothing. They took it back and replaced the casing for free. No questions asked. That's service.  A friend of mine had a logic board go on their MacBook Pro recently. They replaced the whole thing for free. It's that kind of support that makes buying Apple a no-brainer for me.

I hope they keep pushing boundaries and keep giving us cool products to work with.

Steve Jobs will be missed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sony NEX-FS100... after shooting a feature on it...

I thought long and hard about what camera to use for shooting my latest feature 'The Addicted'. It had to be one of the new breed of large sensor cameras. I love my DSLRs, but i wasn't keen on the H.264 compression and the less than ideal workflows associated with it. The Panasonic AF100 was top of the list for a while, but it's low light performance let it down. The Sony F3 was always out of the price when the FS100 came along... it was a pretty easy choice. As i've mentioned in previous posts...i used the Atomos Ninja to bypass the AVCHD onboard codec of the FS100.... huge bit rates are what i need for the grade not to fall apart.

Amy Wilson - Our fantastic Camera Op with the FS100

The FS100 with LED light and actor John Cusworth in the shot

Me and Amy lining up a shot. Ninja and LED light attached

So, what do think of the FS100 now i've been using it for nearly a month solid?

Here's some good and points...

  •  I love the form factor - it's very configurable and works for my way of shooting.
  • The screen is fantastic...very accurate and full of excellent information... such as:
  • Peaking... nice.
  • Zebras... much missed on DSLRs.
  • Histogram... very useful.
  • The viewfinder is very good. Shame it can't point down, but really very good.
  • The kits lens rocks! Ok, it's not fixed aperture and it only goes down to 3.5, but it's got a great IS system and as a run and gun lens, it's hard to beat.
  • Proper audio!!  I only use it for a guide track... but it's very good. 2x XLRs with phantom... :-)
  • Slo-Mo... it's full 1080p and at 50fps with a shutter speed of 100 it's very smooth.
  • The picture profiles are very cool. I use 2 custom for indoors, one for outdoors.
  • The battery life is great.
  • It's light...but pretty strong. Not a single issue with build quality.

  • HD-SDI would be nice... 
  • The cable on the handgrip is too short... if it was long it could control the Ninja when connected to the other side of the camera.
  • The 1/4 20 screw points on the top of the camera all obscure the screen folding back properly when you use them....annoying.
  • Fitting the battery is a bit of a faff...could be easier.
  • No 1920/1080 25p over HDMI.... (may be a HDMI standard thing...)
  • Slightly noisy mic and pre-amps.... it's perfectly usable though.
  • Noisy at +18db...which is fair enough... it's not perfect, but it's usable at +18db.
The only issue we had was that the battery charger died after only a couple of days... i'm still waiting to hear back from CVP about that. It would be nice if they replaced it quickly though.

The super 35mm sensor is crazy. It really looks amazing. There's no way anyone can compare DSLR footage to what the FS100 can capture onto something like the Ninja.

Wish list?

I'd love a case big enough for me to be able to slip the camera on it's rig, with the rails, mattebox, follow focus and Ninja attached straight into it. Breaking down the rig each time is very boring.

If anyone is looking for a large sensor camera to shoot an indie feature on...this is the one. I used all my old lenses on it using a bunch of adapters... and the footage is stunning. It really does need a mattebox to add ND filters and stop flares...(unless you want them... most people do these days...)

It'll be interesting to see if Canon can compete with the FS100 with whatever they have up their sleeve for this market sector.