Archive for November 27th, 2007

The Cowon A3

Ok, this sucks big time. Here’s a very, very interesting portable PMP that supports 720p playback, the Cowon A3, but it has two major problems:

No .mov video container support (even if they support the underlying format), and no AAC support. It’s like Cowon gives the finger to Apple. Truth is, Apple matters, and Cowon should start adding support for these formats.

The second problem is that it comes with a 800×480 screen instead of a 852×480 one, and this means that every 480p widescreen video viewed won’t fit in the that resolution (because of the wide aspect ratio), so these videos will always have to be resized.

Get ready. Set. Go.

An enthusiastic online friend recently traveled to an exotic country to shoot a documentary. He is not a professional, but he wants to be one. Unfortunately, inexperience strikes fast when doing such leaps. The friend arrived there pretty much with just enough tapes, the HV20 and a tripod. But truth is, there’s more than that needed if you are after a professional result. Here’s a list of things you need to get with you if you are shooting serious documentaries away from home:

1. Your HD camera and the stuff it came with. ($700 to $1500).
2. Enough tapes. Maybe about 25-50 of them. ($150).
3. A steady, fluid, tripod. It’s important to be ultra stable. ($200)
4. A shoulder bracket. This is needed for “reporting-style” shots. ($50)
5. Two ND filters, at different strengths. ($100-$150)
6. A polarizer filter. ($50)
7. A good wind-shielded shotgun stereo microphone. ($200)
8. A stereo lavalier mic and wind-shielding for it ($50).
9. A wide-angle lens (for scenery). $250
10. A telephoto lens (for wild-life). $250
11. A fast laptop with a firewire port and enough RAM able to capture the footage and let you review your tapes at the end of the day. If an important scene didn’t come out right, you must re-shoot the next day if possible. ($1500)
12. A 500GB external USB 2.0 hard drive to backup your tapes. ($200)
13. A 5-in-1 light reflector to be used on interviews. ($30)
14. A second battery and a travel charger that works on the country you are going to. ($50)
15. Headphones to review the audio recorded. If your audio was problematic during an interview (e.g. too much wind), you must re-shoot. ($20)
16. The appropriate firewire and USB cables, and an HDMI or component cable that will allow you to potentially review your footage on a TV if required. ($30)
17. A big enough camera bag that will let you carry some of the stuff mentioned above. ($30)
18. Cleansing gel and cloth in the event your lenses need clean up. ($20)
19. A cleansing tape in the event your tape head needs clean up. ($15)
20. Travel insurance. A license that will allow you to shoot professional stuff on other countries, as well as “image release” contracts for your interviewees. ($?)

Good luck with your documentary or travel video. Get your wife to carry all that stuff… 😉

More on color grading

One more on color grading. This is some color graded footage I shot with the Panasonic LX-2 digicam last week in Lake Tahoe. The camera is able to shoot 480/30p and 720/15p (would have been nice if it could do 720/24p at least) so it’s an interesting one.

I love the dramatic look of the following too. I used Aav6cc, use almost all options on Color Corrector, and I also used two Magic Bullet plugins back to back to get this look.

BTW, just a note to my video-related readers: My phone number changed (apparently it stopped working a good while ago, but I hadn’t notice as this is not my real number, but a gateway from the real phone world to VoIP). My new number is now listed in my “contact” page. As long as you call between 12 PM to 6 PM PST time, I should be able to take your call if you have any video-related questions (it’s faster than answering emails, I get too many lately). Alternatively, install GizmoProject, the VoIP application, and call me for free from in there. My Gizmo/SIP info is also listed in my “contact” page.