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Looking at Used DSLR for Video


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#1 Stephen Baldassarre

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 03:47 PM

I know this sort of question gets asked all the time "what's the best DSLR under $xxx" but I know what compromises I'm willing to make vs. not and simply lack knowledge of all the different makes/models out there.  I keep looking at this market because everybody seems to swear by it, but I have yet to be impressed by the normal "go-to" models compared to conventional video cameras in the same price range.  This will not be my only camera.  I already have a Super-16 camera with a collection of prime lenses as well as a 1/3" HD video camera with built-in zoom lens.  I would like another camera somewhere in between that can be used for semi-pro video productions.

 

I care most about:

Minimum rolling shutter, this drives me absolutely nuts and is why most DSLRs wind up in the "useless" list for me.

Minimum aliasing, this also drives me nuts and is why I can't consider cams like the GH3 or BMPCC

Good dynamic range, not so much low noise but the ability to preserve highlight and shadow detail.  Why I can't choose the GH2 (as well as rolling shutter)

Natural color, I don't want to make the look in post, another reason I can't consider Blackmagic anything.

If I can get cleaner green screen composites than with my Canon G20, so much the better.  I actually do pretty well with this but it's harder than with say a $25K studio camera.

 

I DON'T care about:

UHD or 4K

High frame rates, 24p and 30p are all I need.

High bit rates (I have an Atomos Ninja 2)

High ISOs, I light my scenes.

Audio, I'll be recording on an external device

 

I don't understand how people can talk about this or that camera and how "cinematic" they are but are full of horrible artifacts that no true cinema camera has.  Perceived sharpness and shallow DoF matter less to me than avoiding typical DSLR artifacts.  This will mostly be for weddings, You Tube videos and the occasional commercial.  I am hoping to keep the price under $1,000, as I hire cameras/crew or just shoot S16mm on bigger shoots.  I imagine I'd most likely be looking at the M 3/4" range but am open to ideas.

 

I'm close to considering an industrial USB-3 camera and making some kind of portable recording computer.  I've found a few with native HD raw DNG capture with global shutter like the BFLY-U3-23S6C-C.

 

Thanks for any insight.


Edited by Stephen Baldassarre, 04 January 2018 - 03:55 PM.

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#2 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 05 January 2018 - 03:22 PM

You have two options under $1,000 - well, at least two GOOD options:

 

My personal go-to, the GH4 can be had for $1,000 new right now - possibly even less. The Lumix mirrorless cameras are probably the most 'high tech' of the cinema-capable DSLR's right now. The system shoots up to 24p Cinema4k, has good color and DR, has the ability to add a vlog update (for Varicam matching and 2 more stops of DR) for a couple more stops of DR (putting it at the top of DR spectrum for DSLR's), and it has the ability to record 10-bit 422 to an external recorder later if you need it (not aware of any other DSLR that has this). It's just a great camera that can be 'built on' as you need the features. It also shoots good stills, has really long battery life (I have gotten 8 hours of shooting out of a single battery).

 

The other option is the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. It's not a DSLR, but has a 'small mirrorless' format. It shoots only 1080p, but does also shoot in RAW and ProRes/DNxHR - meaning a more robust codec out of the box compared to the GH4 (unless using an external recorder). It has about the same number of stops of DR as the GH4 with vlog, and has Blackmagics very Arri-like color science. HOWEVER, it suffers in several areas: Battery life is terrible, at around 30-45 minutes per battery. The RAW function is finicky, and requires certain high speed cards to work. It also uses a Super16 sized sensor, meaning you'll either need to deal with crop factor or find Super16 native lenses (2-3x the cost of the camera, at least for a descent Super16mm Cine zoom). 

 

Honestly, if you're looking to spend right at around $1,000 - the GH4 is probably a better option. It is ready to shoot right out of the box for that price, whereas the blackmagic pocket is going to require a lens (not included), possibly a speedbooster to get a wide angle if needed, and more than likely a new battery solutions. The pocket also does not have any still recording functions, so there is that too. Also, don't discount 4K --- some people would have you think its not important, but many delivery channels are requiring it now. Even if they don't require it, having a 4K master might well put you ahead of the game - since platforms are looking to sell their 'available in 4K' content.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 05 January 2018 - 03:25 PM.

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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 05 January 2018 - 04:12 PM

I care most about:
Minimum rolling shutter


Blackmagic Pocket camera has the 2nd best rolling shutter of any of the modern cameras.
 

Minimum aliasing, this also drives me nuts and is why I can't consider cams like the GH3 or BMPCC


Aliasing? Are you watching videos of these cameras on youtube or Vimeo, which are both 8 bit 4:2:0 formats, which would give you not only blockiness but also one hell of a resolution dump on the red and blue channels, causing huge aliasing issues.

My blackmagic pocket camera doesn't alias at all. Download this file to your computer and watch it: https://www.dropbox....12-120.mov?dl=0

 

If you watch it on dropbox it will look like crap, gotta hit the download button in the top right corner to get the original Pro Res file put right onto your computer. :)
 

Good dynamic range, not so much low noise but the ability to preserve highlight and shadow detail.


You aren't going to get good dynamic range shooting Rec709 which is what you'd have to shoot in order to get "natural color" without grading in post. You'll be lucky to get 6 stops of latitude. Most cameras are 10 - 12 stops if you shoot "log" mode. 
 

Natural color, I don't want to make the look in post, another reason I can't consider Blackmagic anything.


Unfortunately, the way modern cameras work is that they compress the high dynamic range material into a Rec709 medium, which gives it a flat (LOG) look. Then in post, you "expand" it back using a Lookup Table or LUT, into what your original file will look like. Then you can futz around with things until you get the look you want. This is the way ALL cameras work, sony, panasonic, canon, blackmagic, red, alexa, doesn't matter. They all use a "LOG" capture medium to allow the full dynamic range of the imager to come through.

Yes, some of the higher end cameras do shoot "acceptable" Rec709, but you pay for that and you aren't getting it with a lower-end camera and you're still limited to around 6 stops though. The only real way to make lower-end cameras look good is to use that LOG capture mode.

The blackmagic cameras offer you one more feature which is RAW recording, which allows for even more fine tuning in post.

 

If I can get cleaner green screen composites than with my Canon G20, so much the better.


For green screen, you really want is 10 bit full raster color, which is what the Blackmagic Pocket camera can do. It puts the entire raw imager onto the file with no chroma compression. So where it's not full 444, it's closer than 4:2:2.

Where I don't shoot a lot of green screen (because I don't like it) my pocket camera does a great job and using the FREE blackmagic DaVinci software, you can make amazing composites in post. It uses a 3D color key system, which allows you to pin point exact colors and key them, rather then a "shade" of colors like every other software. This means all your keys no matter how screwed up they are, will look perfect all the time.

Honestly, if you shoot a lot of green screen, having a camera that shoots RAW is a blessing, it's night and day. 10 bit 4:2:2 with a high bit rate compression like Pro Res HQ, is the next best thing.
 

Don't need: 

UHD or 4K
High frame rates, 24p and 30p are all I need.
High bit rates (I have an Atomos Ninja 2)
High ISOs, I light my scenes.
Audio, I'll be recording on an external device


And again, all of those are where the pocket camera shines.
 

I don't understand how people can talk about this or that camera and how "cinematic" they are but are full of horrible artifacts that no true cinema camera has.


Again, I think you aren't really watching what the camera has to offer. You're picking on technical issues which don't exist in the edit bay.

Download that sample from above and I'd be more than happy to send you more samples of other cameras if you want as well. I've shot with many of the sub 1k cameras and that's why I settled on the Pocket after all my testing and research.

I'm also a film guy... so if it doesn't look filmic, I don't want it near me.
 

This will mostly be for weddings, You Tube videos and the occasional commercial.


Well... weddings are tough because that requires more of a run and gun camera with some automatic features so you can be focused on getting the shot and not dealing with exposure. Now you're talking a different market in my opinion.

For youtube videos, personal stuff and commercials... different story.
 

I imagine I'd most likely be looking at the M 3/4" range but am open to ideas.


So here is the skinny... and this is part of the reason I bought a pocket camera. I shoot 16mm and 35mm film of course and I didn't want to invest in glass that wouldn't work on my digital camera. So for me it was a no brainer to buy the pocket because it has the same imager size of a S16 camera! So all of my S16 glass fits perfectly and works flawlessly! It's actually quite amazing how crisp it is compared to the modern DLSR glass because it was designed specifically for shooting with that size imager. Yes, you could do this trick with other cameras, but nothing anywhere near the price range of a pocket. 

So I use a PL adaptor and my PL S16 glass for "important" shoots. The rest of the time I have Rokinon DS glass which is Canon mount and I use that stuff for cheap run and gun. I also have Nikon and Arri B adaptors, so if I need to use other peoples glass, it just connects right up.

 

In summary... you can buy a pocket for sub $800 used easily, sometimes with all the accessories you need to make it work. Yes it has problems, yes it's not perfect, but it's a cheap camera that creates fantastic imagery. It's beyond easy to use, it has very straightforward and simplistic menu's, I record all my audio internally and it sounds fine, and the best part is... you can fit two bodies, 4 lenses, wireless audio, shotgun mic, viewfinder adaptor, cables, lens adaptors, batteries, cards, cleaning kit and tools into a backpack so small, it can fit comfortably under the seat when your flying. This is the kit I've traveled the country with shooting countless documentaries, industrials and a few narratives for going on 4 years now. Even though I will be buying a 4k camera soon, the pockets will still be my go-to camera for portable use. 

 

pocket_w_zeiss.jpg
 


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#4 Stephen Baldassarre

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 01:01 PM

My personal go-to, the GH4 can be had for $1,000 new right now - possibly even less.

 

Oh, I didn't think the price would fall that quickly.  I'll take a look.

 

 

The other option is the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. It's not a DSLR, but has a 'small mirrorless' format

 

I'd consider it a DSLR.  It's internally no different from a consumer-grade mirrorless camera except it is optimized for video rather than stills.

 

 

Also, don't discount 4K --- some people would have you think its not important, but many delivery channels are requiring it now. Even if they don't require it, having a 4K master might well put you ahead of the game - since platforms are looking to sell their 'available in 4K' content.

 

Interesting point.  In viewing tests, most people can't even tell the difference between 720 and 1080, and Hollywood doesn't seem to be particularly fast at jumping on the UHD/4K bandwagon.  I guess the power of consumer marketing shouldn't be underestimated.  I'm not inherently against UHD or 4K but there's far more important factors IMO.

 

 

Aliasing? Are you watching videos of these cameras on youtube or Vimeo, which are both 8 bit 4:2:0 formats, which would give you not only blockiness but also one hell of a resolution dump on the red and blue channels, causing huge aliasing issues.

My blackmagic pocket camera doesn't alias at all. Download this file to your computer and watch it: https://www.dropbox....12-120.mov?dl=0

 

Sure it aliases; it has no anti-aliasing filter at all and fairly weak IR filtering unless you use an after-market optical block (for $300).  So in my book, the base price for a *new* BMPCC is $1300, then one must add a lens and some way of handling it.

The word-length has nothing to do with aliasing and the only way 4:2:0 subsampling can cause it is if you used a bad encoder that didn't low-pass the chroma before resampling.  On-the-fly window resizing used in You Tube etc. can cause aliasing, but I base my opinion on hands-on usage viewed at its native 1920x1080p24.

 

Nice shoot by the way, very classy approach.  I watched it on my computer and my 50" plasma screen.  I did noticed some chromatic aberration, which, in conjunction with your low F-stops, may be softening potential alias distortion.  Rolling shutter is ever present, though not as nauseating as many cameras.

 

 

You aren't going to get good dynamic range shooting Rec709 which is what you'd have to shoot in order to get "natural color" without grading in post. You'll be lucky to get 6 stops of latitude.

Well, no.  Rec709 is designed for CRT displays and its contemporaries, which have about a 6-7 stop output range, but Input range does not necessarily equal output range.  Even my Canon G20 can give about nine stops under the right conditions.  The studio where I used to work used $25,000 CCD cameras that have a good 10-11 stops or so despite being Rec709 compliant.
 

 

Unfortunately, the way modern cameras work is that they compress the high dynamic range material into a Rec709 medium, which gives it a flat (LOG) look. Then in post, you "expand" it back using a Lookup Table or LUT, into what your original file will look like.

True, but there's really no reason to expand the color space, screw with it and re-condense it back to Rec709.  You can do color correction in the Rec709 space as long as it's not too heavy-handed.  I should say that I do probably 95% of my work without any manipulation in post, aside from maybe suppress some green spill.  I do my best to light/expose for the look I want.

 

The blackmagic cameras offer you one more feature which is RAW recording, which allows for even more fine tuning in post.

I do love the idea of raw recording, which is why I was initially looking at a Digital Bolex (and was willing to pay the extra price for global shutter, no aliasing etc.).  Those guys really did their best to make a suitable digital replacement for Super-16.  It's a shame most D16 shooters use crap lenses and don't know how to grade the image properly.  I got a very natural image very quickly with it while others were complaining about strange tints, over-saturation and limited latitude.

 

When they announced they were discontinuing the D16, I revisited the BMPCC again (and again just recently).  I forget which sensor the BMPCC uses (I sourced them at one point.  They cost almost $1,000 by themselves in quantities of less than 10x BTW), but the color purity is nowhere near that of the KAI-04050 used in the D16, so I suspect people were failing to pull back the saturation and high/low knees to fit into a Rec709 output format.  Kodak's (now On-Semi) CCDs have a spectral response very similar to film and the human eye while most CMOS sensors have weaker filters to "cheat" up the ISO and thus require a saturation boost in processing.
 

 

Where I don't shoot a lot of green screen (because I don't like it) my pocket camera does a great job and using the FREE blackmagic DaVinci software, you can make amazing composites in post. It uses a 3D color key system, which allows you to pin point exact colors and key them, rather then a "shade" of colors like every other software. This means all your keys no matter how screwed up they are, will look perfect all the time.

I've never been able to get DaVinci to work right on any of my computers.  One of my clients had the same problem, despite meeting system requirements.  Any way, I use Vegas 14 to do my compositing, which allows multiple points of control over luma, hue and saturation.  Somebody can even wear a pale green shirt on a green screen and it would look correct upon output.  I can set up the composites so the shadow cast on a green floor will carry over to the composited image, though it requires a little more tweaking.  I am not a fan of green screen either, but it's a necessity these days.

 

 

Again, I think you aren't really watching what the camera has to offer. You're picking on technical issues which don't exist in the edit bay.

 

It may sound like I'm an undiscriminant hater, but I do keep revisiting it as an option.  However, every time I work with BMs, I am quickly reminded of why I don't like them.  I know some people can get good results with them, but I haven't the patience for their short-comings.  I've worked on many BM shoots and its issues become especially obvious when used in multi-cam shoots against professional systems.  I did a 5-cam concert a couple of years ago with one and I couldn't for the life of me get the same color as the 3-chip cameras.  I know, apples vs. oranges, but I wound up having to dumb down the 3-chip cameras' video to match the BM camera.  While it has less rolling shutter than many other DSLRs, it's still bad enough that one must stick to fairly graceful moves (must be on a fluid-head tripod or stabilizer).  It doesn't have nearly the latitude they claim except under the absolute ideal conditions AND you use DNR as a matter of course.

 

Any way, I think this is a great discussion.  I am actually thinking about building my own modular camera system based around the Sony IMX249.  It's a CMOS sensor but it uses analogue memory like CCDs for native global shutter operation without loss of dynamic range (many CMOS sensors like what's used in the BMPCC have global shutter modes but lose their internal noise reduction and half the dynamic range with it).  The color purity is close to that of the Kodak CCDs as well, so that's a bonus.  Any way, if I can get this system working the way I want, I can potentially get a 1080p camera with raw output, recorded on swappable SSDs, for about $1,000.  If I can get it working the way I want, maybe I can make a "prettier" version to sell.  There would be no automatic anything and probably no audio though.  Maybe one day, Sony will have a UHD sensor like that but it would have to be S35 sized to avoid loss of dynamic range.


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#5 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 04:06 PM

In viewing tests, most people can't even tell the difference between 720 and 1080, and Hollywood doesn't seem to be particularly fast at jumping on the UHD/4K bandwagon.  I guess the power of consumer marketing shouldn't be underestimated.  I'm not inherently against UHD or 4K but there's far more important factors IMO.


This is true and Steve Yedlin's recent resolution video series, does hit the nail on the head. 4k is a completely worthless medium that only exists because people want it. 2k is plenty of resolution for theatrical and home video.
 

Sure it aliases; it has no anti-aliasing filter at all and fairly weak IR filtering unless you use an after-market optical block (for $300).


You're talking about optical low pass filter. Using softer glass helps tremendously as you can see from the video below.
 

So in my book, the base price for a *new* BMPCC is $1300, then one must add a lens and some way of handling it.


The Blackmagic Pocket camera retails at $995. You can buy them with accessories on ebay for $500 - $800 depending on the day. The camera accepts ANY lens format and I have adaptors for PL, B, Nikon and Canon. I explained the glass I use above and you've seen the results in the video. The "support" would be identical for any of these sized cameras.
 

I did noticed some chromatic aberration, which, in conjunction with your low F-stops, may be softening potential alias distortion.


It's 4:2:2, you're always going to get fringing of one kind or another.

You will never see aliasing in my videos, ever. This is just because I use softer glass and it masks the issue nearly completely. Yes there have been times where I've noticed it, but when I do, I just switch lenses and it goes away.

Again, there isn't a sub $1000 cinema camera with an optical low pass filter that I know of. DSLR's have them, but they aren't cinema cameras.

Rec709 is actually a limit on the recording codec in most cases. This is the reason why we bother shooting LOG. So we can compress the dynamic range into a package that can't normally display it.
 

The studio where I used to work used $25,000 CCD cameras that have a good 10-11 stops or so despite being Rec709 compliant.


Yes, the "imagers" have the dynamic range, but that doesn't matter because unless you shoot RAW, you're editing with a codec that's stuck with a Rec709 color space.

Remember, the blackmagic pocket camera isn't a $25,000 3ccd camera. You couldn't even fit the lens from a studio camera in the backpack that holds my entire kit! Very different markets.
 

You can do color correction in the Rec709 space as long as it's not too heavy-handed.


I mean most of us grade in Rec709 color space, but we start with LOG or RAW files and via clever manipulation, make it look a lot better than if we shot in Rec709 to begin with. The difference between grading LOG and RAW vs Rec709 is night and day.

Yea I despise green screen, so whatever workflow works for you, go for it. When I do shoot green screen, I always shoot 10 or 12 bit RAW or LOG and try to secure a true 444 image if possible. I have found CMOS cameras with Rec709 to be a nightmare to deal with for various reasons. So once I stepped away from CCD cameras, I also stepped away from Rec709 capture. For interviews, it works fine, but for anything else, it's a pain to deal with.
 

I do love the idea of raw recording, which is why I was initially looking at a Digital Bolex (and was willing to pay the extra price for global shutter, no aliasing etc.).  Those guys really did their best to make a suitable digital replacement for Super-16.  It's a shame most D16 shooters use crap lenses and don't know how to grade the image properly.  I got a very natural image very quickly with it while others were complaining about strange tints, over-saturation and limited latitude.


The Digital Bolex was a poorly packaged camera that was too expensive for what it was. Had those guys just focused on not trying to make it in that stupid looking box, I think it would still be around today. It for sure could have fought against the pocket and may have won, depending on if they could have reduced the price enough. From the footage I've seen compared to the pocket, I really don't much care for the Digital Bolex's look that much. I think the pocket has a smoother and less noisy image over-all.

Single CCD's still suffer from similar issues to CMOS. As most of us can agree, to this day the best imager system made was a three CCD. It's just unfortunate the industry slid away from them in order to work with older glass and single imagers. Now we're stuck in CMOS hell for quite a while longer.
 

I've never been able to get DaVinci to work right on any of my computers.


It does have issues with windows, it's very clearly written for mac which is great for me! It also doesn't work without a decent GPU, so it's not exactly [plug and play]. I edit on Avid, Premiere and FCP. I color on DaVinci nearly exclusively and do it all day, every day I'm not out shooting. I've never seen a program that's as powerful for compositing as DaVinci. Even After Effects, seems limited in it's abilities after using DaVinci for compositing.
 

However, every time I work with BMs, I am quickly reminded of why I don't like them.


Well each one is different. I'll gladly throw the cinema cameras and all the 4k imager cameras too. To me, Blackmagic Designs only makes 3 cameras... the Pocket, the micro and the Ursa Mini Pro 4.6k. All the other cameras have major issues, which were all "cost cutting measures" to keep the cameras priced in an affordable range. I think they're slowly realizing that it's better to charge more money and make a better camera, the URSA Mini Pro is an example of that.
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#6 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 04:06 PM

I know some people can get good results with them, but I haven't the patience for their short-comings.


The pocket camera is a SUB $1000 camera NEW! That you can get used for $500 - $800 WITH ACCESSORIES! My entire kit (listed above) which has not only TWO camera bodies, but more accessories than most people have, cost a mere $3k! There isn't a single camera system on the entire planet that's anywhere near that price for that quality and in that form factor. I have literally traveled the entire country with that kit and it's amazing the quality of images it can deliver for the price and form factor.

I've shot with pretty much all the modern digital cinema cameras, but I also shoot a lot of film, both 16 and 35, I really like the pocket cameras versatility and the look of the imager. I don't see the pocket camera as having any short comings, I see it as a digital version of one of my film cameras. It does exactly what I want it to do and for the price of admission, it's quite amazing.

It's not a $10,000 camera, it's not a $25,000 camera either. This is what people simply can't wrap their minds around. It's not in competition with those camera systems and nor should it be. It has it's own "look" which is unqiue and in my eyes, very filmic. If you want a sub $1000 camera, there really aren't very many choices and the good one's like the pocket, kinda get left by the wayside because people would rather have "feature rich" than a unique camera that has the best codec's and nearly perfect form factor. I don't quite get it but ok!
 

While it has less rolling shutter than many other DSLRs, it's still bad enough that one must stick to fairly graceful moves (must be on a fluid-head tripod or stabilizer).


It's only bad if you care about it. If you tell a story that's interesting, that people care about, then they won't be paying attention to the rolling shutter. I have lots of "sports" footage shot with my pocket camera, you can see the results below.
 

It doesn't have nearly the latitude they claim except under the absolute ideal conditions AND you use DNR as a matter of course.


It doesn't have the highlight latitude @ 200 ISO no... but at 800 ISO yes it sure does. That video I posted above was not shot at it's optimal ISO for dynamic range unfortunately as it was outdoors and I only had a .6ND filter. By the way, this is the same with all CMOS cameras, it's not "unique" to the pocket at all. When you lower the ISO, you get LESS dynamic range in the highlights.

One of the reasons I love the pocket is that when it does "clip" it does so very softly, it's not harsh like so many other cameras, the GH4/GH5 and A7SMKII, two competitors that have HORRIBLE clipping on highlights.

I have never once used DNR for any projects in my entire career. Light right, shoot right, finish right, you won't need it.


I shot this 3 years ago, before I had cinema glass, before I had my current workflow (which works much better). It has little to no grading, just a tiny bit of red reduction due to the IR pollution thanks to using shitty ND filters. It just shows some more camera movements.... where the rolling shutter isn't really seen.


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#7 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 08:01 PM

It does have issues with windows, it's very clearly written for mac which is great for me! It also doesn't work without a decent GPU, so it's not exactly [plug and play]. I edit on Avid, Premiere and FCP. I color on DaVinci nearly exclusively and do it all day, every day I'm not out shooting. I've never seen a program that's as powerful for compositing as DaVinci. Even After Effects, seems limited in it's abilities after using DaVinci for compositing.

I use Resolve on a PC, and after the 14.0 stable release, have had no issues whatsoever. I'm not familiar with the history of Resolve, but I don't think it was written for the MAC necessarily. In either case, you need a powerful computer to run Resolve. Resolve is not optimized to run on lesser machines like the Adobe products are. You will find no 'mercury playback engine' in resolve, either. Basically, it's just not scale-able. Adding one effect to Resolve will bring the real-time playback to a halt, and you'll need to start using render cache and proxies. That is just the nature of the beast.

 

I do agree though, Resolve is about as powerful as you can get. I now use Resolve for editing, color and delivery - and use Fusion for compositing and VFX. Fairlight is okay, but I still use Pro Tools for audio. The reality is, Resolve and Fusion can be had for $600 - and together, they basically do everything (and a lot more, actually) than Premiere, Media Encoder, After Effects, and Audition do - without the $50/ month fee.

 

Don't even get me started on Avid though. Pro Tools is nice (though I hope Fairlight get a little better so I can dump it), but their Avid editing system is an over-rated, over-hyped, expensive joke from a bygone era. It doesn't do anything that you can't do in any other editor, and the cost is simply comical at $50 month. It's like paying Adobe $50 a month, but only getting 1 of the programs. Avid is one of these companies that is getting left in dust, but is still in denial of it. You can tell this by them releasing their 'free' version of the avid editor, which has less features than the entirely free version of the consumer program 'Hitfilm Express'. 

 

This is true and Steve Yedlin's recent resolution video series, does hit the nail on the head. 4k is a completely worthless medium that only exists because people want it. 2k is plenty of resolution for theatrical and home video.

I'm sure 480p looked fine to most people as well... But that is not the point. 

 

Well of course 4k exists because people want it... That is why anything exists. You can dislike 4K all you want (and I personally don't work or deliver in it, either), but that isn't going to change reality as it moves into a 4K world around you. You wouldn't find me not buying at least a 4K camera right now, even if I don't plan to shoot everything in 4K. Lets remember, 4K can be made into 1080, not the other way around.

 

Personally, I want a camera that I can use on all the projects that might come up. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu - pretty much all streaming providers now require 4K acquisition in any of their original programs. Since the cinema-experience is basically dead for indie films (when is the last time you seen the latest indie flick in wide release?), these new outlets are where its going. I'd hate to get caught with my pants down on that one.

 

Most monitors, most TV's sold now are UHD. It's a fact of life. People are looking for 4K content to play on their 4K televisions. If you have 4K content, that will set you apart from others that don't.

 

 

 

Again, there isn't a sub $1000 cinema camera with an optical low pass filter that I know of. DSLR's have them, but they aren't cinema cameras.

I agree, but I do wonder what it says for Blackmagic when a $1,000 DSLR can contain a low pass filter, but a $1,000 pocket can't. It's not like the $1,000 Pocket is doing something amazing here - its basically a striped down DSLR with better color science and a better codec. 

 

I've never seen a program that's as powerful for compositing as DaVinci.

I have - Fusion. Resolve is not meant to be a compositing application. Yes, it has some functionality for compositing, but it doesn't even reach After Effects levels, let alone Fusion levels. I guess it depends on what you're compositing though. I take it you don't do much VFX work, so a really basic compositing is probably fine for non-VFX work. However, I wouldn't try to claim that Resolve is the best compositor - cause its not - not by a long shot.

 

PS) You should really try Fusion. It also has a free version. Resolve and Fusion also work together now, similar to how Premiere and AE do.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 06 January 2018 - 08:12 PM.

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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 12:58 AM

I use Resolve on a PC, and after the 14.0 stable release, have had no issues whatsoever.


Right and it's always been faultless on Mac since I started using it at v11.
 

Don't even get me started on Avid though.


For me, the difference between Avid and Premiere is night and day. I've discussed my issues with Premiere dozens of times on the facebook group for Premiere users and they all seem to have the same issues. In fact, I was editing all day with Premiere today and every 10 seconds I was cussing due to how poorly it's written. The reason me and so many other people stick with Avid is very simple, it doesn't have the bugs programs like Premiere and Final Cut X have. So where the workflow may throw some people off and they think it's "antiquated" once they start actually using it and realize how much smoother it is to operate, it starts to make sense. I'm no fan of Avid... I really don't much care for the company or how propriatary the software "can" be. However, it does work native with XAVC-I, Pro Res and DNXHR, which are the codec's I use.
 

Netflix, Amazon, Hulu - pretty much all streaming providers now require 4K acquisition in any of their original programs.


Sure and they're trying to "futureproof" their content. Meanwhile, the major studio's aren't even bothering to make or release their theatrically bound content in 4k. I found out few days ago that Last Jedi's SFX were all done in 2k and the film was henceforth finished in that format. By the way, there were on 6 digitally made movies that were released in 4k last year. When that number hits 100%, I will pop an ear up about 4k. Until then, it's a "novelty" and there is even a website for people to check if "UHD" content is legit or not, that's how truly bad this issue has gotten. https://realorfake4k.com/

Netflix and Amazon don't care about resolution when buying content. They only care if they're paying to produce it internally. In that case, you'd be "renting" equipment anyway, so who cares.
 

Most monitors, most TV's sold now are UHD. It's a fact of life. People are looking for 4K content to play on their 4K televisions. If you have 4K content, that will set you apart from others that don't.


This is because the manufacturers have nothing else to sell anymore. They already make big, bright and lightweight, so what else can they do? UHD content is also not easy to find or stream. I've used the new UHD Apple TV hooked up to a 100Mbps internet stream and UHD content on Netflix needs to be buffered heavily before playback. It's not "instant" like 1080p content is, so it will be a while until that all changes. Plus and this is a big one, just because it says it's UHD, doesn't mean it is. We all know that both the internet streaming providers AND the studio's outright LIE about UHD content because they can make 2k blow up to UHD and look very good. There really is no way for the cosumer to know and they're selling UHD content for more money to the cosumer knowing they're ripping them off.
 

I agree, but I do wonder what it says for Blackmagic when a $1,000 DSLR can contain a low pass filter, but a $1,000 pocket can't.


Well it does have one.. it's just not strong enough. If they made it stronger, they would lower the crispness of the camera. So they clearly discovered a "happy medium" between crispness and filtering that works. I never see the aliasing issues on my footage because most of the time I use those Rokinon DS lenses, which for better or worse, are a bit soft on the S16 imager camera.

For reference, there isn't a sub $1000 camera with an optical low pass outside of the Blackmagic Pocket camera. None of the mirrorless cameras that I know of, have an optical low pass filter. The only "small" camera's that do are the higher end DSLR's like the Canon 5D series and Nikon 800 series. In fact, many people remove their optical low pass filters when shooting stills to make the imager crisper. It doesn't appear to be as much of an issue with stills as video. I don't shoot stills very much at all, so I haven't really tested any of this.

Funny enough, even Red's and Arri's don't come with optical low pass filters either! I haven't ever seen aliasing on the Dragon or Alexa XT I've used in the past, but I never asked if they had OLPF's, they may have.
 

It's not like the $1,000 Pocket is doing something amazing here - its basically a striped down DSLR with better color science and a better codec.


Well, it does have an "unusual" imager size designed specifically for S16 glass. So none of the "bulk" of having a larger imager camera, but all of the benefits of being able to use sweet inexpensive cinema glass. It was such a great idea, it's been copied by other brands in 'crop' mode, but nothing near the size and price of the pocket. I think the digital bolex guys started the trend actually.
 

I take it you don't do much VFX work, so a really basic compositing is probably fine for non-VFX work. However, I wouldn't try to claim that Resolve is the best compositor - cause its not - not by a long shot.


Yea I'm an "in the camera" guy, I don't like VFX even though I've been forced to on occasion. I can't use Fusion as it's a Windows based program and I won't have windows anywhere in my house.
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#9 Samuel Berger

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 01:10 AM

 I won't have windows anywhere in my house.

 

Must be very dark, and also, I hope you have an air conditioner.

 

Okay, it was funny when I thought of it...ha ha...


Edited by Samuel Berger, 07 January 2018 - 01:10 AM.

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#10 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 02:52 AM

I can't use Fusion as it's a Windows based program and I won't have windows anywhere in my house.

 

Fusion has been cross-platform since version 8, shortly after BMD took over the software, actually. It was one of the first things Blackmagic did to the software. A am currently working with 5 different VFX artists in the US, Canada, and even Poland - we all use different systems, including Windows, Mac, and the guy in Poland uses a build of Linux. Works fine in all three.

 

Even if you're not focused on heavy VFX work, Fusion is still much better at compositing than Resolve is. I'd suggest downloading it and checking it out - its worth the $300 as well - given it basically does most of what Nuke does. Includes planar and 3d point trackers (in paid version), full particle systems, full 3D render environment... It also allows you to send comps from Resolve directly into Fusion, and then back out to Resolve again for rendering. It's like the Premiere/AE pipeline, only a lot more streamlined. 

 

In fact, this little bit of info might pertain to you, since you use Avid too: Fusion Connect lets DaVinci Resolve and Avid Media Composer editors take advantage of Fusion’s massive visual effects and motion graphics toolset, right from their timelines!

 

If you haven't done so in a while, I'd suggest checking out https://www.blackmag...roducts/fusion/, its a very powerful program.

 

Right and it's always been faultless on Mac since I started using it at v11.

 

I have been using Resolve since 11 as well, and always on Windows. When I said 'with the 14 release', I meant the non-beta version of 14. 11 worked fine, 12 worked fine - even on the antiquated hardware I was running at the time. 14 beta ran like crap, but 14 stable release has ran like butter. I have noticed 14 loves a beefier computer though - it was one of the reasons I upgrade from the FX-based computer to the theadripper. 


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 07 January 2018 - 03:04 AM.

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#11 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 02:55 AM

For reference, there isn't a sub $1000 camera with an optical low pass outside of the Blackmagic Pocket camera. None of the mirrorless cameras that I know of, have an optical low pass filter. The only "small" camera's that do are the higher end DSLR's like the Canon 5D series and Nikon 800 series.

 

The GH4 has an optical low pass filter, and is $1,000 new right now. GH5 doesn't though. That is one of the reasons I sent the GH5 back - the sharpness compared to the GH4 was outlandish.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 07 January 2018 - 02:58 AM.

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#12 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 03:25 AM

I won't have windows anywhere in my house.

 

I still don't understand the aversion to Windows... It's a perfectly stable OS. I think most of it comes from people who don't actually use Windows PC's, or from those that have a deep-seated bias against them in general. From someone who has dealt with PC's his entire life, I have never, ever experienced a hiccup that I would attribute to the OS or the hardware. The fact that you have such a strong aversion to it, tells me you fall into the ladder category. I never understood the whole 'fan boy' mindset.

 

While I use a PC, I'd certainly not actively discourage someone from using a Mac if they wanted to. Most PC users are like me. Most Mac users are so anti-Windows its almost scary. I try to tell people the real deal here, that PC's are designed with expand-ability in mind, and that cost-per-performance is vastly better on the PC system. My Threadripper CPU eat most any Intel-CPU for dinner, and it cost less than 20% of what a close equivalent Intel Xeon runs.

 

Mac's are fine if your looking for plug-and-play, but other than that, there is no reason a Windows-based PC should be out of the norm. They work fine, have no issues, etc. that require someone to be a genius to fix, etc. Plus, when the next CPU or graphics card comes out, I can actually update without paying $10,000 for a brand new computer case. That doesn't mean I'm averse to Mac's though - if you like them, use them. They work fine for what they are - just know you're going to pay a premium for the Apple experience, whatever that is. 

 

In fact, I'm glad I recently made a switch away from Intel hardware as well - that new bug that is going around allows full access to Intel-based PC's, including Macs. The fix that is released reduces Intel processor performance by an average of 30%. Intel is taking a real beating right now for it - and it affects all Intel processors all the way back many generations. I'd love to be a fly on the wall at the Intel booth at the next trade show.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 07 January 2018 - 03:34 AM.

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#13 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 06:23 AM

Quite a few Mac users have been moving over to Windows in recent years or at least seriously considering the move.

 

Linux is also now an option, although the software choices are much reduced.


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#14 Samuel Berger

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 12:38 PM

And now to take a break from the 1999-2007 Film versus Digital flamewars, let's all dive in for a nostalgic 1995-1998 Mac vs PC bash, complete with poetry and ALL CAPS for authenticity. Film at 11,

 

For those of you staying after this program, stay tuned for a special trip to 1994's Joel vs Mike MST3K discussion panel, right here on the Mozambique Broadcasting System, always with the lastest and most up-to-date debates.


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#15 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 02:29 PM

The GH4 has an optical low pass filter, and is $1,000 new right now. GH5 doesn't though. That is one of the reasons I sent the GH5 back - the sharpness compared to the GH4 was outlandish.


Interesting, the article I found when I wrote my reply stated that none of the GH series had one. Sorry that I trusted the internet for info! :(
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#16 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 02:32 PM

Fusion has been cross-platform since version 8, shortly after BMD took over the software, actually.


Riiiiight, I totally forgot as I don't do VFX compositing so I didn't even think about that aspect. Thanks for the info!

The problem is that I need compositing (green screen) within my editing program, so I can make quick changes in real time, rather then having to switch programs to make 2 second changes.
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#17 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 03:01 PM

I still don't understand the aversion to Windows...


It simply doesn't have the audio/visual featureset (without boat loads of 3rd party support) that the mac OS does.

It reminds me a lot of the Avid vs any other NLE discussion. People consider Avid to be the "mac" and the other NLE's to be the myriad of other OS's.

As I've said before, I don't have the time or the patience to deal with computers. I did it for 18 years and I'm over it, plain and simple. My machines must be able to run 24/7 without a single reboot or shutdown thanks to software updates. My antique edit bay runs 10.10.5 which is around 4 years old (this is changing soon BTW), my antique laptop runs 10.12.6 which is getting near 2 years old. I don't wanna update anything, but I still wish to use the internet and I still want to be semi-current enough.

Some of the other "requirements" are things like "quick preview" which allows me to touch any file on the operating system and preview it, without loading ANY application. This is part of the reason I simply can't use windows machines, because this function is of a minute by minute daily use. It's how I can organize things by the finder vs in some sort of organizational application like iPhoto or iTunes. I organize everything manually so as to be able to find what I'm looking for through the awesome built-in search engine and through this amazing preview system.

I mean iPhone/iCloud integration is 2nd to none, NOBODY DOES ANYTHING like it. The fact I can be on any of my computers with NO WEB BROWSER, NO GOOGLE, and make changes to address book, email, calendar, documents, pictures, music, etc... and it's immediately updated on my phone? Amazing. The fact I can be on the road somewhere and look through my web search history in real-time. A recent feature is the ability to type in fragments of data and it will actually find what you're looking for. So for instance, I'm on the road going to a shoot, but I don't remember the UMP's name. I don't need to find the e-mail, I can simply click on my destination and it automatically brings up any documents with that address associated. Maybe I'm on my motorcycle and I have an idea of how to get somewhere, but I'm lost. I can ask siri to search for the address from my previous safari searches and it will pop right up! It's amazing integration and I've never seen any other system so tied in with one another, without using a web browser to access the "cloud". 

 

Again, I don't run or care much about Apple's current hardware, so the thought about things not being upgradable, it doesn't phase me. I don't recommend it or would I ever buy it.  My computers are just as upgradable as any other PC from the same vintage of course. There really isn't any difference, it's just the Mac is better built. When I'm ready to upgrade I'll either have someone build me a Hackintosh with double Xeon's, thunderbolt 3 and lots of PCI slots OR... I'll just wait for the new Mac Pro (if it's any good) to come down in price and snag one. Since 2012, Apple hasn't made a professional product and seeing as the iMac Pro is pretty fast, I'm hoping that same tech will trickle down into the next desktop computer, but still allow me to run a fast graphics card. I personally don't need the fastest computer in the world to edit with. My bay playsback 4k Pro Res XQ, DNXHR and Red Code in real time no problem, with multi-layers... and it's nearly 6 years old! So yea, I'm doin' ok! :D


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#18 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 03:05 PM

Quite a few Mac users have been moving over to Windows in recent years or at least seriously considering the move.


Yea it's very true, but this is mostly because Apple doesn't offer any professional solutions right now.
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#19 Stephen Baldassarre

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 03:43 PM

I was originally going to reply directly to comments in quotes but it was getting to long and complicated, so I'm just going to touch on some of the ideas addressed in the replies.

 

 

The BM cameras do alias, badly, and using "soft" glass is not an acceptable solution.  I don't see rolling shutter or alias distortion on film or professional video.  Film's color rendition is much closer to the human eye as well.  Most digital cameras don't pick up deep blue or red well and the the green band tends to be broader, due to having higher resolution.  The dynamic range of a sensor does matter even in Rec709.  A 10-stop sensor, when properly encoded, will look much better than an 8-stop sensor.  That said, the BMs are not suitable substitutes for film, nor professional video, despite claims to the contrary.  Yes, the story is more important, but If that's all that mattered, we'd all be shooting on cell phones.

 

It's all about compromise in the lower price range.  It's just a matter of WHAT compromises you want to make.  The sensor the BMPCC uses costs a lot of money, and I do believe they used the best CMOS sensor possible at the time.  They easily could have eliminated various features to improve other things though.  While I find the compromises in low-end cameras unacceptable, I understand why they made those compromises.  People value features over quality.  Not me; I'd gladly accept a simple passive lens mount with a 2/3" 1920x1080 global shutter sensor fixed at 200 ISO, 24fps, recorded in MJPEG at 200mbps with a black & white LCD viewfinder and no audio.  There's no reason that can't exist in the $1,000 price range and have a proper OLPF.  As for the variable latitude of the BMPCC, it doesn't actually have gain or adjustable ISO.  It's natively about 400 ISO and everything else is metadata telling the software what to do with it.  Treating it as if it's 800 may add a stop in the highlights but you lose a stop in the toe while shooting at 200 gives you a stop in the shadows but you lose highlights.  When using actual gain, this isn't the case.  You get more noise using higher ISOs, but no latitude is lost in the shadows.  It's cheaper to use fixed-gain architecture though.

As for color space etc.  I shot green screen with 8-bit 4:2:0, 4:1:1 and 4:2:2, as well as 10-bit 4:2:2 uncompressed.  4:1:1 is extremely difficult but it can be done.  There isn't that much difference betwen 4:2:0 and 4:2:2 and I didn't notice any difference with 10-bit vs 8-bit.  The optical path makes a HUGE difference though.  Soft lenses are almost impossible to composite without matte lines and if they have chromatic aberrations, forget it.

The D16 was a very expensive camera to make.  The CCD and OLPF alone cost THEM about $700.  Then you have to add in the amplifiers, the ADCs, enterprise class SSD, custom FPGA, HDMI board etc.  Don't forget it had audio capabilities akin to a $500 stand-alone field recorder, with high quality preamps, XLR inputs and true analogue gain control like you would find on a professional system (not a $200 Zoom).  Unfortunately, they listened to their Kickstarter backers too much and had to redesign the camera almost from scratch to cram all the extra features into it.  I estimate the redesign added about a year and $500 per unit cost to the D16.  The D16 really doesn't have a look of its own.  The CCD's output is digitized at 16-bit linear, converted to 12-bit Gamma-1 and stored.  The rest is up to the user.  The BMPCC on the other hand, has image processing built right into the sensor itself, including noise reduction and FPN cancellation.  If you want that in a D16 image, you have to do it yourself.  Any way, the D16 sold better than they expected but had issues with several parts manufacturers in China and a price hike on other parts made continuation impractical.  Their margin was already low and they couldn't raise the price because people already claimed it was too expensive compared to the BMCC.  So, they decided to get out of the business.  I tried to convince them to go a different direction in the year leading up to that decision; use one of Sony's new global shutter sensors with a simplified FPGA, but it fell on deaf ears.

 

People want "4K" because marketing told them to want it.  These are the same people that insist on phone sensors being 18MP when the lens can't resolve more than 6MP or so.  Marketing people have the masses convinced that UHD and 4K are the same thing (4K is a theatrical format) and that an LCD screen can really have a 10,000:1 contrast ratio.  Professional HD cameras will produce sharper, cleaner results than a semi-pro UHD camera.  You can easily bump up well-done 1080 up to 2160 and nobody will know it didn't originate as 2160.  Video streams are so heavily compressed that the difference in bandwidth has more affect on the image than the actual number of pixels.  That said, you can very well bump 1080 up to 2160 and have a noticeable improvement in image quality simply because more data reaches the screen.  The lens is the limiting factor in most cases, and I've seen plenty HD and UHD video that resolved 600 lines, especially with folks that like to open up their lenses.

 

35mm can easily resolve 4K, but you're capturing on video, 4K costs dynamic range.  That's why the Alexa is 3K S35.  The .0083mm pixel format gives *almost* the same latitude as Vision3 stock, about 14 stops.  3K resized to 2K allows better luma resolution from a single-chip sensor than capturing 2K.  More pixels mean smaller pixels, which means lower dynamic range.  There's all sorts of claims from marketing people about this camera or that camera having 12-13 stops but the fact of the matter is, dynamic range is directly tied to hole size.  You can cheat higher numbers with DNR, but lose detail.  Engineers across the board will tell you pixels smaller than .005mm will cause noticeable degradation in the image, which is why pro video cameras have 1920 pixels on a 10mm wide sensor, or .0052mm, which is still 2 stops less than the Alexa.

 

Now, some low end DSLRs do have OLPFs, but they're optimized for stills.  In order to avoid ALL aliasing for HD video, the resolution needs to be less than 1000 lines or so for a 3-CCD camera, 500 for a single-chip camera.  If you use a superior off-line demosaic algorithm, you can get away with 750 lines.  Since most DSLRs are in the 5K range...
I don't think Reds have OLPFs, as they have this edginess to them that annoys me.  I suspect Alexas do.

 

I have to stay with Windows.  I can't afford to pay double for "shiny".  I met with a guy that was working on a video game that includes some composited live action.  He commented up front when showing me his workflow that "Mac is so much better for this than Windows".  It turns out he doesn't own a Windows machine and hadn't even tried video composite work till a few weeks ago.  I can say without a doubt, though, that the biggest issue he has is poor lighting in his studio.  I got better composites than him in about five minutes using Vegas, but estimated he needed at least two stops more light to get clean composites.  I think maybe 10 years ago, Mac may have had an edge.  20 years ago, Commodore did.  Things change.


Edited by Stephen Baldassarre, 07 January 2018 - 03:58 PM.

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#20 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 03:55 PM

My main Windows editing machine has been running, non-stop, for over 3 weeks now (Background rendering CG). In fact, I NEVER turn off my computers - and only so so when installing an update or some such that requires a restart. It still works fine, and hasn't blown up or slowed down. There are certainly some features of Mac that are very 'cool looking', like the previews things - but most people don't need that workflow, and you only use it because you're use to using it and don't want to switch.

 

I'd also avoid buying the Mac Pro (the one in the shiny, round, consumerist looking case) --- Last time I priced one, to get one on par with my current AMD setup would require close to $8,000. My entire setup cost $2,000, and still has more raw power than whats even possible to pre-configure in the new Macs. It's no doubt that Macs do have some neat features that Windows does not have, but to me, those features are not worth the highly inflated price difference. Resolve and Premiere allow me to 'preview' clips in a bin by hovering over them too. Yes, I have to have one of the programs up, but I'm not sure what good or purpose I would need to preview a bunch of clips outside of an editing environment... Just me though.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 07 January 2018 - 03:55 PM.

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