Monday, May 31, 2010

Clouds in Timelapse

This was just a quick test for an upcoming project in which I needed to test a number of things for a successful timelapse of clouds. I had already done several timelapses with both the Canon 5D Mark 2 and the Canon 7D cameras, but found that Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 bogged down (with my PC system) in processing them. My workaround then was to use Lightroom to downsize the individual photos to 1080 in height, but of course you're effectively reducing the overall resolution and negating in large part the reason you're using such high end dslr's in the first place.

I have the disks for Adobe's Production Premium CS5 on order, but for the time being I've been finding the 30-day trial version to be working admirably well on my computer system (i7 CPU 920 @ 2.67HZ, 12G DDR3 RAM, Nvidia GTX 285 vid card). The Mercury GPU engine makes full use of the CUDA capabilities of this video card and it shows (compared to the otherwise excellent CS4 version). The only thing missing from the trial version of PP CS5 are some licensed MPEG presets for my Canon .MOV clips (although there are ways of working around that -- leave a comment below if you need further info).

Here's the clip (sorry for the WAS only a test!):

Clouds -- timelapse quick test from David Rilstone on Vimeo.

Also, Premiere Pro CS5 is apparently very forgiving in mixing up codecs and even frame rates, so I'm looking forward to working with several different cameras within one project. For the short time I've been using Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.....I LIKE IT!

This timelapse was taken two days later from my backyard using a Canon 7D and a Canon 24-70mm L lens:

Approaching Storm from David Rilstone on Vimeo.

The Canon was set to Aperture Priority at f/22, and ISO at 100, with the photo interval set at 2 seconds. Post processing was first done in Lightroom 2.7 where the original large .jpeg size was retained and the file name of each photo was changed to a sequential number. These sequentially-numbered photos were then imported into Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and rendered into a 30 fps (29.97) MP4 clip. Unlike PP CS4, Premiere Pro CS5 can handle the full-sized .jpg photos from the Canon 7D, although preview and scrubbing is not smooth with my system. It took about 3 hours for Media Encoder to transcode into 1920 x 1080 MP4 for just over a minute of play.

Music was "The Chase" by Kevin MacLeod.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Death Trap Lawnmower

Actually a timelapse of yours truly mowing the lawn this afternoon.

Lawnmower Death Trap from David Rilstone on Vimeo.

This timelapse was taken with a Canon 7D using a 17-40mm L lens (set at 17mm) with a Canon intervalometer set at 1 second intervals. I chose to set this camera on Aperture Priority at f16 and ISO 160. This was a bright, sunny day so f16 gave me sufficient Depth of Field with this lens to keep everything in focus along with a reasonable shutter speed to freeze the action. Approximately 1000 frames were shot at small .jpg, then batch resized to 1080 height using Lightroom 2.7. This was my first timelapse used with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 (Trial Version -- full version on order!). I set the framespeed to 30 (29.97) fps, and added "Born to Run" for a little mood. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Not All ND Filters Are Created Equal

Recently I was using my Canon 7D fitted with a Canon 100-400mm telephoto to film a Northern Cardinal songbird. I was perplexed why the image on the liveview screen was so soft in focus, no matter how much I manually adjusted the focus at magnified liveview settings. Realizing that I was using a newly-acquired vario ND filter for the first time to adjust exposure, I removed this filter from the lens and instantly regained the sharp focus I had originally expected.

I had not experienced this soft focus situation with an earlier acquired, but much more expensive, Singh-Ray vario ND filter when using my telephoto zoom lens. I then put together this quick trial comparing the cheaper, EBay-sourced "Nature" -brand ND filter against the pricey ($400+) Singh-Ray counterpart. You'll find my conclusions on this video:

Not All ND Filters Created Equal from David Rilstone on Vimeo.

The making of this video:

1. Cameras used: Canon 5D Mark 2, 7D

2. Lenses used: Canon 17-40mm L f4, Canon, 24-70mm L f4, Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6

3. Audio used: Rode Videomic (one each on 5D2 & 7D), Samson Zoom H4N, voiceovers done directly on PC Realtek soundcard

4. Moving shots of filters: Glidetrack Sharpshooter

5. Post processing: Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 (trial version -- disks on order!)

For my personal presentation appearances on this video, I used a two-camera setup. The 5D2 was fitted with the 24-70mm set at 64mm, the 7D had the 17-40 set at 40mm; this gave a similar perspective (full frame vs APS-C) with the cameras both approx 8 feet away from me at roughly 30 degrees to my left and right respectively. I used Philip Bloom's recommendation of a custom Picture Style of full negative sharpness & contrast, and about two notches negative saturation. This rather flat picture style gives the best dynamic range and lends itself to better post processing later. In actuality, I did no further processing in this regard as I liked the video appearance straight from the camera, as it turned out.

I had two Rode Videomics hooked into the cameras, but used this sound only to sync later with the exterior, separate Zoom H4N audiorecorder using its built in stereo microphones.

The panning shots of the two filters were taken inside my living room in front of my picture window which had excellent even lighting. The Glidetrack made for the smooth right-to-left motion, despite Bruiser, our cat, trying to literally stick his nose into the proceedings.

Premiere Pro CS5 (Trial Version) worked extremely well on my PC - an i7 920 platform with 12 Gigs RAM and a Nvidia GTX 285 video card. The new Mercury engine now makes it possible to edit the native 5D2 and 7D H.264 video files natively -- no prior transcoding necessary. This saves huge amounts of disk space, not to mention time. Scrubbing through the timeline was very smooth, plus no having to sip a cup of coffee every time you render after laying in a video effect or two -- it's that fast!

Brought over a few techniques from CS4 (split screen, multiple camera sync'ing, etc.), plus learned a few new ones on this clip -- magnifying effect, dropping an imported vid file onto the "New Item" icon to create a fresh sequence/timeline with the exact required presets.

All in all, this was a fun video to produce. If any information in this clip was useful re ND vario filters.....then great!! :)