The term post-production might seem simple but beneath the surface it’s a rabbit hole. That’s because Frame.io have put together the ultimate (their words) post-production workflow guide. It covers everything from capturing to exporting footage and is rounded off with dedicated case studies. Best of all? It’s free!
There’s just so much involved when it comes to post-production: Acquiring footage, codecs, conforming, editing, building and adding effects, color grading, sound design, exporting.. you name it. Every step in the process requires particular attention in order to maintain image (and sound) quality throughout post. Many weird specs and technical jargon are involved.
Post-Production Workflow Guide
Frame.io makes it clear right from the start: This guide is completely product-agnostic. It’s about the concepts, not particular gear, services or software. They worked with a number of professional filmmakers around the world to bundle as much expertise as possible into a comprehensive post-production workflow guide.
As David Kong, director of content at Frame.io, puts it,
“There are many amazing resources for post-production information scattered across the web. But these resources are all spread out, hard to find, incomplete, and none of them gives you a complete overview of the entire process. That will soon change.”
The post-production workflow guide splits into 9 chapters: Capture, Prep, Edit, Conform, VFX, Color, Sound, Delivery and Case Studies. Each chapter is divided into smaller, easily digestible sections. All together it’s a 100.000 word document and you’ll need about 90 minutes of pure reading time to work through it. In reality, of course, it will take much longer as there are so many images, charts and the above case studies which will glue your attention to the screen for quite some time.
Once you have worked your way through the thicket, this guide is still very useful for later reference. Frame.io states that they will improve and expand the guide over time. As Frame.io puts it, this post-production workflow guide is designed to be the
“go-to resource for anyone (rookie or veteran) looking to understand all (or certain) parts of the video workflow, from acquisition to delivery.”
If you want to know about the creators of this workflow guide, Frame.io, make sure to check out our coverage here and here.
New fully autonomous drone Hover 2 is very popular on Kickstarter. The campaign is already far above its goal and it goes on till 30th December. The drone offers many interesting autonomous features and its stabilized 4K camera has some promising specs.
Autonomous Future for Drones
Modern drones almost always feature some level of autonomous flying or at least partially autonomous smart features. There are, however, not that many fully autonomous drones yet. You might still remember the Skydio R1 autonomous drone, which was also released this year (links to our initial release article and firmware update announcement). My colleague Nino has the drone for testing and his review will be online within the next weeks, watch out for that. The Skydio R1 is however still quite pricey at $1,999.00. The newly presented Hover 2 should be significantly cheaper and its specs look quite promising.
The company behind this drone is called Zero Zero Robotics and was founded in 2014 in California. Their first product was the Hover Camera Passport drone. It already offered some autonomous features and very compact foldable form factor. In the second generation – Hover 2 – autonomous flying has been expanded and further developed. They now run a Kickstarter campaign for the Hover 2 and already managed to raise almost ten times the financing goal. There is still enough time to back the product as the campaign goes on till 30th December.
Hover 2 - 4K Autonomous Drone, Reinvented with A.I. | Available Now - YouTube
The new drone features the same folding design as the first generation Hover with only a few slight differences. The most visible difference is the camera gimbal and the optical radar on top of the body. Hover 2 now also offers two different propeller guards designs. The standard enclosed propellers are made for easy manipulation by hands – the propellers are in some sort of “cage”, which minimizes the risk of injury when catching the drone. The aerial propeller guards offer improved aerodynamics and are designed for the BlastOff mode (more on that further).
The Hover 2 drone has quite a capable camera module too. Specs-wise, it reminds me of the DJI Mavic Air. There is a 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor with the resolution of 12MP. The camera can film MP4 video in 4K UHD up to 30fps, 2.7K up to 60fps and 1080p up to 120fps with the maximum bitrate of 100Mbps. The lens is a fixed f/2.2 28mm (full frame equivalent) focal length. The whole camera unit is attached to a 2-axis mechanical gimbal.
Hover 2 Sample Footage - YouTube
There are more packages available on Kickstarter, which open up different ways how to operate the Hover 2 drone. There is an Essential and Standard package, Palm Pilot package and the BlastOff package.
If you get the essential or standard package, you can control the drone with a smartphone.
Palm Pilot package includes the Palm Pilot remote control for one-hand operation. It auto-pairs with the Hover 2 and offers shortcuts to the favorite flight and capture features. Maximum control distance with this remote is 100m. An LCD screen on the controller displays first-person POV from the drone.
The BlastOff package includes the BlastOff controller, which features rather a classic approach to drone flying. The Hover 2 can be controlled from up to 5km (3 miles) away when paired with the BlastOff controller. Aerially enhanced propeller guards offer improved aerodynamics.
Hover 2 Smart Features
AutoFrame Mode – after selecting one of four preset shots (waist-up, full-body, backdrop, and birds-eye), the Hover 2 will fly into position, frame, and capture the shot with the tap of a button.
Omni-Follow keeps the subject in the frame from any angle. Hover 2 can follow the subject from the front, back, side, or switch between all three in the same shot. The Optical Radar is always focused on the direction of movement. That means Hover 2 can avoid obstacles even while flying sideways or backwards and filming the subject from the front or side. Pivot follow keeps the Hover 2 stationary as the camera tracks subject’s movements to keep it in the center of the frame.
TrackShot allows users to capture videos of them with interesting presets. Hover 2 keeps the subject as the focal point as it navigates around it, even when the subject moves.
Cinematic themes – Hover 2 offers a selection of “cinematic themes” (with soundtrack and filters) in the app. This feature is made for quick short clips creation and sharing to social media.
360º Obstacle Avoidance and Intelligent Tracking
Hover 2’s proprietary Optical Radar is a swiveling stereo sensor that gives the drone depth perception in every direction. Combined with SLAM 3D mapping, VIO (Visual Inertial Odometry), and path planning features, the drone can navigate new environments with 360º obstacle avoidance and bypass obstacles while tracking a target in real time. The computing power is provided by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
The computer vision system of Hover 2 is able to accurately lock onto the target even after significant changes in appearance and shape of the target. By modeling the environment and monitoring the surrounding figures, the algorithm can accurately assess the cause of the obstruction and intelligently adjust its tracking strategy. The video demonstration of the A.I.-trained tracking algorithm looks quite impressive as it shows the awareness of distance and orientation of the subject as well as re-finding the target after occlusion.
Intelligent Tracking - YouTube
Hover 2 Key Specs
folded dimensions: 230 x 45 x 172 mm
weight: 490 g
maximum flight time: 23 minutes
battery: 2900 mAh
operating frequency: 2.4 GHz, 5 GH
storage: 8GB internal storage + up to 128GB microSD cards
sensor: 1/2.3″ CMOS, effective pixels: 12 MP
lens: f/2.2, FOV 78.8°, equivalent focal length: 28 mm
photos (JPEG, DNG RAW, RAW+JPEG) max size: 4048 x 3036 (single shot, burst shooting, self-timer, HDR)
video resolutions (MP4): 4K: 3840×2160 @ 30 fps, 2.7K: 2720×1530 @ 30/60 fps, 1080p: 1920×1080 @ 30/60/120 fps, 720p: 1280×720 @ 30/60/120 fps, max video bitrate is 100Mbps
stabilization: 2-axis gimbal and EIS (digital stabilization), user control range (pitch)：-90°~0°
detectable obstacle：furthest detectable distance: 10 m, max obstacle avoidance speed: ≤ 7 m/s
The creators of this drone expect to be shipping the units to backers in March 2019. You can still participate on the Kickstarter campaign by following this link. Prices range from $449,- to $799,- depending on the selected package. As with all crowdfunding projects you should be aware of the concept and potential risks when backing a campaign.
What do you think of the new Hover 2 autonomous drone? Do you think fully autonomous drones are the future of aerial filmmaking? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.
2018 is almost over and these lines were supposed to summarize the almost 365 days behind us and provide a glimpse of 2019. But instead of listing each and every major tech product of 2018, I’ll take a slightly different approach. What is the future of indie filmmaking and how does modern gear technology in mirrorless cameras helps to shape that future?
FUJIFILM X-T3, Canon EOS R, Nikon Z6 and Z7, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC4K), Sony A7 III or the Panasonic GH5 / GH5s to name just a few (make sure to read Johnnie’s article about best small cameras of 2018). All these cameras are tiny in comparison to proper digital cinema cameras. And all of these cameras are very potent filmmaking devices which were impossible to think of just a few years ago.
The one key spec which impacts the resulting video quality the most is bit-depth and chroma sub-sampling. There are more factors, but the ability of recording 4:2:2 10-bit is one of the most important factors that sets a pro camera apart from a consumer camera. Guess what: this barrier is about to collapse. The GH5, released in early 2017, is already capable of recording 4:2:2 10-bit internally but it sports a micro four thirds sensor “only”. Many of the mirrorless cameras of 2018 either record 4:2:2 10-bit internally or at least output it via HDMI. The BMPCC4K records raw as a cDNG stream (Blackmagic RAW seems to be around the corner) but –again– it “only” uses a micro four thirds sensor. The Sony A7 III tops out at 4:2:0 8-bit (internally) and 4:2:2 8-bit (externally) but it sports a full-frame sensor. Wait and see what the upcoming a7S III will offer! The FUJIFILM X-T3 does 4:2:0 10Bit internally and steps up to 4:2:2 externally, all with a super35 (APS-C) sized sensor.
With cameras like the Panasonic Lumix S1 and S1R and the aforementioned Sony a7S III, which are anticipated for an 2019 release, the number of 4:2:2 10-bit capable devices with large sensors will grow but the compactness of the camera bodies will remain the same.
Pro technology trickles down to more affordable gear, that’s a trend which started earlier of course but in 2018 we got to a point at which the transition from mega-bucks cameras to very affordable gear is in full swing. The point is: These less and less bulky cameras don’t compromise on quality any longer. To me, 2018 marks the year in which the equation small device = poor quality is no longer valid. This opens a door to a new thinking and new concepts for indie filmmakers.
It’s not only cameras, obviously. Everything regarding indie filmmaking gear gets smaller, more lightweight yet super capable without compromising on quality. The good ol’ V-mount / Gold mount batteries for powering your (big) pro camera are now available in tiny sizes. Bebob offer their V-micro line of batteries, CoreSWX have the Hypercore 9 Mini and the Power Base EDGE (even as a specialized model for the BMPCC 4K). Building a decent rig becomes a whole lot simpler if the battery is not the bulkiest part of it!
External video recording is still a thing, for obvious reasons. But even solutions for full-fledged external recording become smaller and yet as feature-packed as full-sized gear. The Atomos Ninja V fits a mirrorless rig perfectly while the larger Shogun Inferno might seem a little bulky on such a camera. The BMPCC4K renders an external recorder obsolete and to be honest I’d be happy to see more (smallish) cameras with such potent recording options, including high frame rates, in 2019.
Internal sensor stabilization is another buzz word of 2018. Not every camera has it and it’s one of these things which might tip your buying decision to one or the other make and model. If you, like me, chose a non-stabilized body such as the superb FUJIFILM X-T3 you might want to get a gimbal for certain smooth tracking shots. In 2018, grabbing a powerful yet decently priced one, is not a problem anymore (here’s our review of the X-T3).
The gap between huge devices such as the MōVI Pro or the DJI Ronin 2 and smaller single handed gimbals is no longer very big. Sure, a bigger device can handle (way) higher payloads but the single handed Ronin-S is indeed a very capable gimbal for all of the aforementioned mirrorless cameras (here’s our review of the Ronin-S)! It’s actually kind of overpowered for such a camera which ensures very good reliability and performance even for demanding movements. Other options are the Tilta Gravity G2X or the new Zhiyun Crane 3 Lab.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Source: DJI
Wanna film things from above? The new DJI Mavic 2 Pro is a pocket-sized drone which packs lots of punch for its tiny size. You can carry one of those along with your other gear all the time. If you need it: it’s there waiting to lift off. If you don’t: no worries, maybe next time. Compared to that bringing an Inspire 2 to set is a bit of a hassle. The Inspire 2 is the better drone, sure, but for many use cases the Mavic 2 will be just fine without comprising too much on image quality.
You see where this is heading, right? In late 2018 you can pack a whole truckload worth of filmmaking gear into one reasonable sized backpack. Useful options would be the new Peak Design Travel Backpack complete with packing cubes in various sizes (2018) or the WANDRD PRVKE (from 2016).
It’s all about portable, versatile, customizable and modular gear. Everything gets smaller, yet more powerful. Being a one-man band is not an obstacle anymore but an opportunity. Grab your bag and go. Camera, on-board monitor, lenses, gimbal, drone, travel tripod, batteries, media, it’s all in there!
All of the above-listed gear would leave the technically savvy guy (or gal) of 2015 with an incredulous look and a strong craving reflex. Just because the specs seem to be way too good to be true for such smallish pieces of gear.
State of Mirrorless Cameras
You could easily employ a recent mirrorless camera as a B-cam next to a proper camera such as a Canon C300 mark II. Depending on the job, you could even replace the bigger camera without being left behind with bad image quality. You can use a Mavic 2 Pro instead of a Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 or Inspire 2. Sure, there are differences in terms of image quality but the point is: The Mavic 2 Pro is not bad – at all! The aforementioned gear is not inferior just because it’s not playing in the premier league of filmmaking. All of it is very decent indeed.
Nice cam.. but it’s huge! Image credit: Jakob Owens via Unsplash.com
Being in this business for more than a decade (15 years to be exact) I know that cutting edge gear always was kind of the minimum requirement for most jobs. And I think these times are over for good. Cutting edge gear will always be a thing but for the average indie filmmaker it’s not only OK but very reasonable to employ average prized gear for their jobs. As I’ve stated before: Average doesn’t mean inferior any longer. Just like with audio gear, video gear doesn’t need to be cutting edge anymore in order to perform at a very decent level.
Pro cameras will always play their role and depending on the job they are worth the bulk and cost. On many other jobs, however, a smaller package will do just fine. Just grab your tiny yet super powerful mirrorless camera and off you go!
Post on the go
And when you’re done shooting, recent developments transform your laptop into a pro workstation: Just connect a portable eGPU and edit / grade / export away. Everything in a traditional post production pipeline can be achieved using a laptop right there in the field. Again, full-fledged post suites are still a thing of course but you can do it on the go. This was impossible in 2015 but here we are on the brink of 2019…
This is the future and it will evolve in 2019 and beyond. As I stated in the beginning, this article was meant to sum up 2018 and in a way it did. My approach is putting together a one-bag solution with 2018 tech for all my indie filmmaking needs for 2019 and I will write up a dedicated post once I’ve finished building it. Let’s cut some bulk while remaining confident that we are employing state of the art technology!
What are your thoughts about this? Is 2018 a turning point or are we not there yet? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
We took a look at the newly announced DJI Osmo Pocket and asked ourselves: Is this a tool that can be useful for professional filmmakers? After attending their global launch event in New York City, I worked on this initial Osmo Pocket Review for a few days.
You might say: this is not a pro device, it’s for consumers! And you are absolutely right. But cinema5D has always been about making also inexpensive tools work for your filmmaking.
Not a Full Review – Pro Filmmaker Features
This is not a full review, there are tons of full reviews out there which cover every detail of this device. Unlike many other Youtubers, we unfortunately didn’t get access to the device before its release, which is why I decided to limit this review to an overview focusing on the “pro filmmaker feasibility” of the Osmo Pocket, and what it means for the industry as a whole.
Osmo Pocket – Action Cam or New Category?
DJI has created a completely new category with this device indeed, they have managed to shrink the gimbal down to a truly pocketable device. Unlike some other devices which have “Pocket” in their name (hint, hint), you can actually put it in your pocket.
With all the small camera tech they have developed for the drones, we have expected DJI to take on GoPro’s action cam market for a very long time, and this is the closest they have gotten to do that so far. However, it’s a very different device than something like a GoPro Hero7, which seems a lot more robust, but also more made to be put on a car or helmet.
Obsolete: Smartphone Gimbals
The Osmo Pocket on the other hand kind of makes using dedicated gimbals for smartphones obsolete, because DJI have combined it with a really impressively performing gimbal, something they have certainly learned to make right over the past few years. And it’s remarkably stable even when running.
Sensor Size, Aperture, Field-of-View
It has a 1/2.3 inch sensor, the same as in the Mavic 2 Zoom. It’s a fixed f/2.0 lens with a 28mm full frame equivalent field of view. That means it’s still fairly wide but not crazy wide like some action cameras on the market – which actually makes it useful to shoot accompanying walk-and-talk shots.
Tiny Screen, Pro Settings in the App
The built-in 1 inch touch screen is truly tiny, but the interface is well thought-out and you have access to most of the functions, however not the Pro settings. For those, you need to use the DJI Mimo app. When using only the built-in screen, it’s practically impossible to judge focus. I recorded a couple of shots that are out of focus when using it without the app.
When you attach the phone and use the app, you can access all Pro settings, and you immediately have access to all essential parameters like ISO, shutter speed, white balance, frame rates and more, and that makes it feasible as a professional device. It’s impressive that the camera can do up to UHD 4K 60p, however the bitrate reaches 100MBit only in that mode, the other UHD modes are around 80MBit/s, and HD only around 30MBit/s. What we are missing so far are picture profiles like D-Cinelike or D-Log, but as André said earlier, that will come in a free update to the Mimo app soon. Hopefully they will also include ways to adjust the post sharpening and other parameters too.
Audio Quality, Microphones
In terms of built-in audio – it’s okay but not great, and it picked up quite some wind noise when I used it. The audio on the GoPro Hero7 is clearly better, but again, those two are hard to compare. There is no headphone jack to monitor the audio, but you can connect an external microphone with a separately sold 3.5mm adapter. So far even then you don’t have access to manual audio level controls.
Conclusion – No-Brainer for Pro’s, Steep Price for Consumers
To summarize – for the professionals, this device is tiny enough as a b-camera to keep in your bag, and at $349 cheap enough to be close to a no-brainer addition to your kit. It’s not the silver bullet to anything, but something you can hand to a director, producer or assistant if they desire an extra angle while moving. Vloggers will like this to produce stabilized footage without any fuzz, they should just use a separate microphone or audio recorder. For consumers, the price point might be a bit steep however, if they already have a very good smart phone camera in their pocket.
But the Osmo Pocket is a sign of things to come, and while it is impressive technology in a very small package, it’s still a first generation product, and without a doubt, DJI will work on a Pro version of this in secret in the background. We certainly can’t wait to see what’s next on this platform.
Aputure’s LS C300d has been one of the most anticipated new LED lights of the last year. With a strong output of 300 watts it is a significant update to their popular LS C120d, boosting more than twice the performance. In this LS C300d review we’ve taken a closer look at the maturing of Aputure’s LED lineup.
For those of our readers who are not familiar with the Aputure Light Storm C120d – a lot of filmmakers & photographers have been very excited about this LED light since it came out in 2016. It was one of the first ones with COB technology (single large LED source with strong output), that was targeted at professionals, offering low noise, great ergonomics and a high quality color rendition at a low price.
I personally used several Aputure C120d’s on a low budget film production last year, where we had no electricity on location and were able to use these lights with V-mount batteries on the go. This proved to be extremely valuable for our shoot, where the main camera (Alexa Mini) wasn’t a very lowlight sensitive camera.
Using the Aputure LS C120d with a Westcott Beauty Dish in a forest.
The Aputure C120d was great, but it really lacked kick for many shooting scenarios and filmmakers were hoping for the next generation of LED. Fast forward to NAB 2017, when we were introduced to the Aputure Light Storm C300d, a stronger version of the C120d, that really left us impressed as it seemed to offer all the goodies. Let’s take a closer look in this C300d review:
Aputure C300d Review
The Aputure LS C300d, as the name suggests, runs on 300 watts of power, whereas the C120d had 135 watts. Most other similar single-source LED lights currently run on wattages in the range between 100-300 watts. But now you may ask: Do you really need that much power?
Well, if you shoot anything else than closeup or portrait and especially for wider angles I would say: clearly yes. During our production, the C120d quite often did not offer enough output for our needs, especially when the light had been modified with a softbox.
The C300d on the other hand is certainly much more versatile in that sense. Whenever you have too much output, the control unit also offers a dimming functionality that lets you cut the light down to as little as 10%. As a nice bonus, there is a remote control in the package that allows you to dim the light remotely.
Aputure C120d case vs C300d case.
Of course, the C300d is bigger than the C120d and so is the package it comes in. All parts are neatly packed into a soft case which in total is also heavier than the C120 carry case by quite a bit. The light fixture itself doesn’t weigh significantly more than the smaller unit, but it comes with a lot of cables, transformers and other parts that are required to run the light.
Aputure LS C300d Output
In terms of output here is a side by side shot:
Aputure C120d light output
Aputure C300d light output
From a subjective view, having looked at both lights, I think the light intensity gain of the C300d over the 120 is equal to or maybe slightly more than 1 stop of light. The C300d itself is supposed to be equivalent to a 2K (2000 watts) tungsten light.
When compared to an actual 2K tungsten light, several other reviews suggest that the C300d falls a bit behind. Even though the C300d light output might be the same in theory, the way the light fixture is constructed probably doesn’t produce the same results at a distance. There is definitely a stronger light scatter right where the LED element sits – The falloff of these COB LED lights with their bowens mount design is greater when compared to an extended bulb on traditional lights. – After all this kind of design had initially been developed for photography, often used in combination with a softbox. Traditional film lights also have a parabolic mirror at the back that reduce the scatter of light rays and focus the beam. These LED Bowens mount lights have a very different design.
Aputure Light Storm C300d with Bowens Mount
Another thing that made filmmakers happy about the C120d is its ergonomics. The head was lightweight, easy to setup and when connected to the control unit and power, it was very easy to control. The Aputure LS C300d works similarly and offers the same features, but if you’ve been working with a 120, unfortunately the 300 is a bit less convenient to setup and take down:
There is a cable that connects the light fixture to the control unit, a separate cable that connects the control unit to the power supply and another cable that connects the power supply to the electric outlet. This additional cable, the fact that they are easily confused and that the power supply has a separate on/off switch makes setup an annoying procedure that takes too much time.
The cables and boxes required to run the Aputure C300d / C120d.
I am sure in the future manufacturers will combine at least one of the two parts into one or ideally put all the additional stuff into the light fixture itself, in order to cut down setup time. At the moment I’m just happy to get an affordable quality light with so much output, but in the future I would surely like to see the ergonomics improve. Aputure actually already did that for the C120d version, with the new Aputure LS C120d II, which combines ballast and control unit into one.
Aputure LS C300d Power Supply
The power supply has a fan. It is wonderful that the light fixture itself is just as quiet as the C120d – on the C300d they used 2 fans instead of just 1 to achieve that -, but the power supply’s tiny fan makes quite some noise. It is audible in a quiet environment and might have to be moved away from the film set with additional 4-pin cables that don’t come with the package.
That said, if your action is not right next to the light, it probably won’t be audible in most cases, but I think it should still be pointed out in this C300d review.
2 fans in the Aputure LS C300d vs 1 fan in the Aputure LS C120d
In terms of color, just like the LS C120d, the C300d has great color rendition, with a CRI rating of 95+. It is really wonderful to deal with this kind of light quality when compared to where LED’s were just a few years ago. This light will render skin nicely. Add to that, the fact that the C300d has a color temperature of 5500K, which is much more useful than the C120d’s 6000K (They fixed this on the LS C120d II as well).
I do have one critique about color on the C300d: There is a strange yellow color spill on the side of the unit. It can be seen in the photo below. In rare cases this could be a problem, where the light is angled in a way, and the set is lit low key enough to actually create and see an unwanted spill.
In this Aputure LS C300d review I had a few points of critique, however in conclusion the benefits of this LED light, at this point in time, certainly outweigh the shortcomings by a long shot. The C300d is a worthy step up in output over the popular C120d and as such an extremely useful addition to any filmmaker’s kit. The time has come where LED lights actually start to replace and overtake traditional film lights in some areas. Especially for people with low budgets and small crews this is great news and just another way to make more professional quality films with fewer resources. Aputure also offers several attachments, like a fresnel lens and other light shaping tools for these lights. Check them out here.
I can also see how LED technology still has a way to go. Even though it has been maturing tremendously since its introduction just a few years ago, there are certain things that are more professional and intentional about the construction of traditional film lights and LED light manufacturers still have to figure some of those things out. I am sure that slowly but continuously we will see this technology evolve further and there is certainly a bright future ahead for LED.
If you intend to light larger areas, wider angle shots with soft light, or simply need an LED with a strong output, then the C300d is certainly the one light to consider. There are few other manufacturers putting out similar lights,..
Here at cinema5D we feel lucky enough to test, review and share our unbiased honest professional opinion with our filmmaking community. The reward is the trust we get from our audience. This leads me to our “Best Mirrorless Camera for 2018” list. EVERY camera in this list was tested by us inside-out and in regards to the winner, we welcome you to comment below. Rest assured that 2019 will be EVEN MORE exciting, but for now, let’s say goodbye to 2018….
2018 is slowly but surely fading out and I hope you will agree that this year was one of the best for the aspiring (independent) filmmaker when it comes to the choice of production equipment and especially high quality mirrorless cameras. During this year, almost every major camera manufacturer released shiny new toys, but for the sake of this article, we will only concentrate on large sensor mirrorless cameras ranging from micro 4/3 inch to full frame sensor sizes. We are also fully aware that at times we will be comparing “apples to oranges” as some of our final candidates were simply designed to win the hearts of different users, yet as independent (and at times “on the budget”) filmmakers we at cinema5D tend to believe that one will be investing his/her hard earned cash on only a single camera that might serve him/her best.
Sony a7 III Mini Review - The Unexpected New Lowlight King? - YouTube
Full Frame Category Winner – Sony a7 III
It’s funny to think how February 2018 looks so far away, but that was the time when I first saw the camera and had a chance to play with it a bit. Already then it was clear that Sony had created something unique when it comes to sensor size, performance and price point. My assumption was reassured after reviewing the camera a month later. The new Sony a7 III turned out to be a camera that redefines the word “basic model” (This is how Sony referred to it), and if this is what Sony puts in a basic camera (features and quality/performance wise), then there is certainly something to look for during 2019. (cough cough, Sony a7S III)…
Here is how I concluded my opinion about the camera after reviewing it:
Sony a7 III Conclusion:
The key element for me is the right balance between its price and specifications. Sony did a really good job in packing a lot of technology into a well-priced full frame mirrorless camera body. In my opinion, this is a great all-round shooting device with a good level of video performance and a nice stills functionality (at least this is what I heard from colleagues who have tried the camera and are shooting photos professionally). Our desires for 4K higher frame rates like 50/60p, higher bit rate, colour depth and maybe even a built-in ND filter will have to wait for the next round of announcements.
Canon EOS R Review - Shooting a Mini Documentary in India - YouTube
Full Frame Running Candidate – Canon EOS R:
I recently reviewed the new Canon mirrorless camera and while technically it is being regarded as a full frame camera, when it comes to shooting video, the image is heavily cropped but for the sake of order let’s leave it here, in the full frame category…. All in all it performed well but I’d be curious to see what Canon has under its sleeve for 2019. The people from Canon we talked to emphasized the fact that this is a “first generation” mirrorless camera so hopefully, some of its shortcomings can be fixed on the next model to come.
Missing from our list – Nikon Z6 and Z7:
We simply haven’t had a chance to test those cameras yet but as good as they might be for shooting video, when looking at recent mirrorless cameras sales figures coming out of Japan and the declining shares of Nikon, I have to have my doubts if any of those new cameras will really be a turnaround for Nikon in the ever-evolving mirrorless video shooting market.
FUJIFILM X-T3 Sample Footage - YouTube
APS-C Category Winner – FUJIFILM X-T3
FUJIFILM was very busy bringing nice well-budgeted filming tools for the independent filmmaker during 2018. In February they introduced the X-H1 which combined high-quality video performance and in-body stabilization system. Later in September, the X-T3 was released. While the X-H1 is a good camera, the X-T3 has managed to become one of my favorite working tools for the following reasons: Ease of handling, picture quality and autofocus performance (just to name a few). In general, this camera feels like a “Swiss Army Knife” when it comes to flexibility and choice of resolution/frame rates and such. Last but not least: the price. This camera gives competitors a run for the money when it comes to video and photo performance. FUJIFILM really managed to create and deliver an affordable high-quality working tool. What is really missing in order to make this little camera even more capable is an internal body stabilization system but even without it, with the right choice of lenses, (Especially for run&gun situations), this camera really shines!
Here is how I concluded my opinion about the camera after reviewing it:
FUJIFILM X-T3 Conclusion
It is no secret that FUJIFILM is heavily invested in making affordable cinema lenses for E (Sony) and X (FUJIFILM) mounts (MK and MKX series of lenses). In my opinion, this is guaranteeing us that FUJIFILM will not stop here. Furthermore, by introducing the first ever APS-C sensor size camera that can shoot 10-Bit video internally, FUJIFILM is positioning itself at the forefront and becoming a serious candidate to consider when thinking of shooting video on a mirrorless camera. It is one of those companies that have no higher video market share to protect and as such, they are free to move forward as fast as their R&D capabilities and budget allows. This particular camera should get some love and attention from the filmmaking community. For users who are heavily invested in lenses from other brands, I can only hope that some sort of a program can be established by FUJIFILM or alternatively, some other solution can be found in order to make people actually try it. We hear a lot about the love for a particular “colour science”. This camera can easily produce “analogue looking” images and furthermore, if you take photos with it, in my opinion, it is the one that looks the least digital.
FUJIFILM X-H1 Review and Sample Footage - YouTube
APS- C Running Candidate – FUJIFILM X-H1
As I wrote above, this is a very nice camera with the advantage of having an internal body stabilisation system but other than that, it can not compete in terms of picture quality and autofocus performance with the newer X-T3.
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K Hands-On Review - YouTube
Announced during April this year, this much anticipated new Pocket Cinema Camera has already been shipping since October and with no doubt, it managed to capture the attention of many, mostly because of its capabilities in shooting RAW and ProRes in a small package, exceptionally nice images, and a very attractive price. When I mentioned “comparing apples to oranges”, I was referring to this camera. Some of its shortcomings like the absence of an in-body stabilization system and the absence of a continuous autofocus function are regarded by some as “not needed” as the word “Cinema” should already indicate to what target users Blackmagic design aimed when designing the camera. This might be true, but when looking at a saturated competitive market, I think it will be wise to look beyond the “Cinema” badge and evaluate the camera and what it can do opposed the other alternatives out there. I’m fully aware that the last sentence alone might cause some people to respond and question if the BMPCC 4K and the FUJIFILM X-T3 (for example) can be even compared. Again, as I see most of the people spending their money and buying ONE production tool, my clear answer is YES!
Here is how Nino concluded his opinion about the camera after reviewing it:
BMPCC 4K Conclusion
There are many more things to say about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, but please do watch the video if you haven’t seen it yet, as many things are covered there in more detail. Blackmagic really did their homework with this one and listened to as many customers as possible when designing the successor to their original Pocket Camera. The image out of it is beautiful and “cinematic”, the dynamic range is better than the one of similar cameras in the market right now, and it’s just very enjoyable shooting with it. It’s not a perfect camera of course, but it has a lot to offer.
FUJIFILM X-T3 is our winner for best large sensor mirrorless camera for 2018
Best Mirrorless Camera for 2018 – FUJIFILM X-T3 is the Overall Winner!
All the mentioned cameras above are extremely capable filming devices so coming to a final conclusion was not an easy thing to do, BUT, when combining our actual shooting experience, general performance and price point, then the FUJIFILM X-T3 comes up as the best large sensor mirrorless camera for 2018.
On a personal note: Since its introduction, I’ve shot several projects with it around the world and was not let down even once. I LOVE its small size, I love having an EVF and I love its versatility. It allows me, as an independent freelance filmmaker, to fulfill (almost) any request coming from a producer/director, be it concerning a resolution/frame rate/color depth and such. Sure it is not perfect but for the cost it is doing a great job for what it is.
Last but not least: This article is all about different shooting tools. One should not forget that at the end of the day it is the storytelling that will win over an audience.
Happy shooting and a happy new year (almost!) from the cinema5D team
What is your favorite large sensor mirrorless camera for 2018? Please share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.
There are a couple of new interesting deals for filmmakers available. We selected the best offers of filmmaking gear from our partners’ online shops for this week. This time there are more interesting deals than usually thanks to pre-christmas sales. For instance Panasonic GH4, FUJIFILM X-T2, Sony RX100 III, DJI Osmo Mobile 2 and more.
I went through the current deals on our partners’ websites and selected the top offers currently available, which I think could be interesting for you. First, there are B&H offers listed for our readers based in North and South America (though the also ship worldwide!) and then a couple of deals from our European partner CVP. By shopping at our affiliate partners’ stores you are supporting cinema5D through our buy links, as we get a small affiliate commission when a purchase is completed.
Now, let’s take a look at this week’s top deals for filmmakers:
B&H: Panasonic Lumix GH4 Camera Microphone Kit – $200 Discount
Panasonic GH4 is still a great camera body for beginning filmmakers or as an additional B-camera to the kit. Take a look at our innitial review of the camera or V-log L footage and tips. The 16 MP micro four thirds sensor of the GH4 can record (cropped) 4K (3840×2160) at up to 30p or Full HD up to 60p. It features 3″ OLED touchscreen monitor and OLED viewfinder. It can also output 4:2:2 10-bit 4K video signal over the HDMI port.
This deal is very tempting as you will get the camera body and the Rode VideoMic with rycote lyre mount. If you are not interested in the microphone, B&H also offers the GH4 as a kit with free V-Log L gamma profile or with free 64GB SDXC SanDisk card, spare battery and a camera bag.
B&H: FUJIFILM X-T2 Body with Free Accessory Kit – $504 Discount
Although FUJIFILM’s new flagship – the X-T3 – gets all the fame, the older FUJIFILM X-T2 still has a lot to offer especially in a well-priced kit like this one. You can take a look at our initial camera review or at the F-log update video. With its 24.3MP APS-C sensor, the camera can record internal UHD 4K video with the F-log gamma profile or the Eterna film simulation. It has weather-sealed body, two UHS-II SD cards slots, OLED viewfinder and 3″ tilting LCD screen. The camera body comes with a free SanDisk 32GB SDHC fast (V30) memory card and a camera bag.
B&H: Sony RX100 III Camera with Accessories Kit – $104 Discount
In case you are looking for a compact camera, there is now an interesting deal on the Sony RX100 III. It features 20.1MP 1″ sensor with Zeiss f/1.8-2.8 lens (24-70mm full frame equivalent). The camera can record full HD video in XAVC S and has a clean HDMI output. I think it is still an interesting budget option for very small camera. It comes with SanDisk 32GB SDHC fast (V30) memory card and a Ruggard protective camera case.
With its 3-axis stabilized camera, the super compact Mavic Air drone can capture 4K video and 12MP photos. It offers 8GB of internal storage, up to 21 minutes flight time and top speed of 43 mph in sport mode. It also features a handful of smart modes and partialy flight autonomy. You can take a look at our hands-on video and our comparison with the Mavic Pro. The fly more combo includes a lot of useful accessories and spare parts.
B&H: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens with Filter Kit – $300 Discount
This standard Canon zoom lens is a good investment in my opinion. In general, lenses lose their value much slower than camera bodies and especially the Canon L-line full-frame lenses are true workhorses. This EF-Mount lens has weather-sealed construction, rounded 9-blade diaphragm for smooth bokeh and 82mm front thread. It comes with free Luminesque 82mm circular polarizer and UV slim PRO filter kit and ZEISS lens cleaning kit.
This cheap Canon pancake EF-Mount lens covers full frame sensors and features the STM stepping motor for smooth and silent AF. It has rounded 7-blade diaphragm, 52mm front thread and weighs only 4.59 oz. B&H also offers the 24mm Canon pancake lens with a discount right now. I can imagine both lenses to be useful for gimbal rigs thanks to the lightweight design.
If you are looking for a fast and cheap UHS-II SDXC card, Lexar 1000x might be a good option. B&H now offers discounts on multiple capacities of this card. I think the best value for money is now the 128GB version. The card offers the UHS-II class 3 (U3) which means the minimum write speed is 30MBps (240Mbps). Maximum write speed is 80MBps (640Mbps).
B&H: SmallHD 702 Lite Black Friday Bundle – $430 Discount
The 7″ monitor from SmallHD offers a resolution of 1200×800, 450 cd/m² brightness and both 3G-SDI & HDMI inputs. It can be powered with LP-E6 and Sony L batteries. It includes useful features like 3D LUT support. In this bundle, the monitor comes with an acrylic screen protector, medium hard case and a sun hood.
B&H: Dracast LED1000 Pro Bi-Color LED Light – $731 Discount
The LED1000 Pro light from Dracast offers variable color temperature of 3200-5600K, CRI of 95 and 100-0% dimming. It is a 12 x 12 x 2″ panel which weighs 5.5 lb and it has 45 degree beam angle. The LED light can be powered with the included 100-240V AC power adapter or with a V-mount battery as there is a V-mount plate on the back.
CVP: “12 Days of Christmas Sale” Sachtler ACE XL Fluid Head – over €55 Discount
CVP now has a “12 Days of Christmas sale” offer. For twelve days from the 1st to 12th of December there is one very interesting deal every day. Always only valid for 24 hours on that very day. If you are based in Europe, make sure to check this section of CVP store regularly for the next week.
Today’s offer is the Sachtler Ace XL fluid head, which gives users a payload capacity range of 2-8 kg (4.4-17.6 lbs.). It is therefore suited for variety of s35 cameras or of course mirrorless or DSLR rigs. The head features an illuminated level bubble. The head can be paired with variety of tripod legs with its 75mm half-ball system.
The Osmo Mobile 2 from DJI is a handheld smartphone gimbal with a lightweight design, intelligent functions, and a long-lasting battery. The gimbal weighs 485g and has a maximum payload of 240g. It can be used with a variety of phones (with the width between 58.6 and 85mm) or with action cameras (via an adapter). It offers smart features like ActiveTrack, Timelapse or Motionlapse.
CVP: Manfrotto N12 Fluid Head & 545GB Tripod – over €189 Discount
This deal includes the Manfrotto Nitrotech N12 Fluid Head and 545GB Pro Aluminium Video Tripod with Ground Spreader. The Nitrotech N12 video head uses the unique nitrogen piston mechanism with counterbalance system and offers payload capacity of 4 to 12 kg and variable fluidity for pan and tilt movement. Manfrotto 545GB is a two stage, twin leg, aluminum video tripod. Due to optimization of the upper and lower collars, the tripod guarantees more torsion rigidity and payload (55 lbs.). The legs weigh 3600g and have 100mm ball fitting.
SmallHD has announced firmware OS3.3 for their current line of production monitors. The update improves general performance & HDMI Metadata. Leaning on custom OS3 features like the ability to display your own logo on start up, and assisting with social media content creation.
SmallHD Firmware Update OS3.3 has been announced, the bare bones of it is a fairly run of the mill update:
HDMI Metadata now available
Power Button LEDs have been updated
Improved Toolbar Preview
Higher quality Image Overlays
The firmware shift to OS3 last year was quite significant, adding customization to exposure tools and auto calibration.
To bulk out the announcement, SmallHD pull up recent updates that mostly surround filmmaking for social media content.
Red Giant is known for creating high quality effects, motion graphics and transitions plugins for host applications like Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro X and Motion, Davinci Resolve, Avid and many more.
The Red Giant Year End Sale is Coming December 4th - YouTube
Red Giant’s software is structured in a highly flexible way. All products are bundled into six major suites that can be bought as a whole, with the components also being available in standalone versions, without the suite. The only exception to this is Universe, which is only available as a Suite, and in a yearly subscription model. All products also offer business, volume and education pricing – which is already 50% off. The suites and my personal standout products available right now are the following:
Trapcode Suite – Particle simulations, 3D VFX – 11 tools included Was: $999.00 Now: $600.00
Magic Bullet Suite – Color correction and looks – 7 tools included Was: $899.00 Now: $540.00
Universe – Transitions and effects – 79 tools included Was: $99.00 Now: $59.00
Shooter Suite – Post utilities for shooters – 4 tools included Was: $399.00 Now: $239.00
Keying Suite – Chroma keying and compositing – 3 tools included Was: $799.00 Now: $479.00
Effects Suite – VFX and motion graphics – 9 tools included Was: $499.00 Now: $299.00
PluralEyes – automatic audio/video syncing Was $299.00 Now: $180.00
To get the 40% discount, you will have to purchase with the code “YEAREND40” through the Red Giant Website no later than 8am PST on December 5th, 2018.
Note that the volume program is not included in the sale.
Do you already use Red Giant products? Will you use the sale to get to know some of these products a little better? Let us know in the comments!
Creating a Hollywood horror movie without fearing the horrors of an unusual camera setup for this kind of production? The creators of “The Possession Of Hannah Grace” had the guts to employ a Sony a7S II (a bunch of them) full-frame mirrorless camera for their feature film. This is a Hollywood first!
If you’re not into super scary horror movies (I am not.. at all!), the headlining movie of this post, “The Possession Of Hannah Grace”, isn’t for you. But, since the whole movie was shot on a Sony a7S II –along with slick lenses and a lot of accessories–, this might be an interesting development for future productions.
Hollywood vs. Small Cameras
The Sony a7S II is a very capable camera. It’s tiny, yet sports a full-frame 4K sensor, offers Slog 2 and 3 and an incredible low light performance. And it’s relatively cheap in comparison of many other full-fledged digital cinema cameras. In conjunction with Vantage Hawk 65 anamorphic lenses, the crew was able to pull off amazing shots on a budget. See the trailer below but mind you: It’s super scary and definitely not for everyone:
THE POSSESSION OF HANNAH GRACE - Official Trailer (HD) - YouTube
We’re still talking about a Hollywood movie here. So even though the crew was working on a somewhat tight budget, the actual camera setup doesn’t look very low-budget. That’s mainly because the giant Hawk 65 anamorphic lenses and a varitey of outboard monitors, wireless transmitters and lens controls.
Can you spot the Sony a7S II?
According to the filmmakers, the combination of the camera and anamorphic lenses were key to the final look of the movie. Employing that anamorphic style adds to the cinematic look.
According to DP Lennert Hillege things like
dynamic range, color science, skin tone rendition, detailed blacks, natural highlight roll off and the ability to shoot and output Sony LOG were critical aspects that were considered.
The biggest downside of the a7S II’s capabilities was the lack of 10 bit recording. It’s only 8 bit but Hillege puts it like this:
If you’re not too dirty, and you keep to certain rules about exposure and color, you can shoot really beautiful, monumental images with it.
Since the camera itself isn’t that expensive, the crew was able to avoid lens swapping just by using not one camera but one camera per lens. Vantage helped with adapting the PL Hawk 65 lenses to the E-mount of the a7S II. Three focal lengths were available at the time of production: 40mm, 60mm and 95mm all with a 1.3x squeeze factor, resulting in a 2.40:1 widescreen image when used with a 16:9 sensor.
With the Sony/Vantage combo, the team had a relatively small and lightweight setup at hand with a very capable low-light performance, which seems adequate for a dim and eerie horror movie like this one.
Proper Cinema Cameras?
Usually you would use something like a Arri Alexa LF for a full-frame Hollywood production like this, right? Well, since this movie was shot on a budget (which applies to both money and time) the a7S II seems to be a decent choice, especially if it opens the door of having one camera attached to each lens which avoids downtimes.
Arri Alexa LF vs. Sony a7S II
Sure, the Alexa delivers superior image quality but according to DP Lennert Hillege that’s not the point.
If you work with a director who wants to shoot anamorphic, and we work with a producer who really wants to change the whole vision of how to shoot a cine movie, perfection is not the most interesting goal. It’s how you are telling the story and whether that works. It’s the culmination of many things that gives a certain look. All these new ideas and ways of working are interesting to think about, investigate and put into action on a script.
Remember the movie “28 Days Later” by Dannie Boyle from 2002? DP Anthony Dod Mantle shot it on a Canon XL-1S, which is actually a miniDV camera which records in SD resolution. is it a bad movie because of this? No, it’s a great movie because making a movie is not about the camera but about the story.
Canon XL-S1 camera – in SD resolution :)
Lenses vs. Cameras
These are modern times and recent cameras are high end performers if you compare them to older models such as the aforementioned Canon XL-S1. Maybe it’s more about everything else but the camera. As “The Possession Of Hannah Grace” DP Hillege puts it:
Typically, 70 percent of your frame is out of focus. You might be looking at the 30 percent that is in focus, but there’s magnificence in what is in the background, and the Hawk lenses are designed with this in mind.
This movie wouldn’t be as cinematic as it is without using these anamorphic lenses, I’m sure. Since nowadays cameras are such capable devices they become less and less important. It’s more about the style and look and these are characteristics, (cine) lenses are made for.
“The Possession Of Hannah Grace” was released on November 30th.