Site Relaunch

Site Relaunch

It took awhile but I've finally untangled the CSS mess that my last developer made for me. A few months, some DIY elbow grease later and a new site has arisen from the ashes of the old one. Refocused and retooled with a new mission. 

This project began as a Blogspot site called "HD Cinema" back in 2007 when the industry was rapidly transitioning from film acquisition to digital. In those days, the focus was on tape-based HD and the transitional technology between traditional ENG videography and digital cinema. After the paradigm shifted, the blog existed for several years as "negativespaces.com," now more focused on DIT-centric topics such as on-set monitoring, color science, and digital dailies.

In this latest incarnation, I've expanded it to encompass all technical aspects of the entire photographic and filmmaking process — from capture, to securing and moving around mountains of data, and then taking it all the way through post production to its final state as a consumable media product.

Shoot >

Scene is captured with camera or camera-like device. For now at least..

Data >

Camera device gathers photons which are converted to electrons, converted to analog voltage, amplified and then finally converted to recordable digital data, often in massive quantity, which must then be effectively dealt with. 

Post 

Data must be processed into viewable images by some sort of software. Digital images generally fall within two camps — one for viewing and one for making other images. More intermediary steps and more people involved in this process means larger and more complex post production pipelines. 

Thank you for continuing to read my site! New content is close behind. If you're looking for my photography and travel writing, that work now lives here. 

 

Web Overhaul

Web Overhaul

Updates a plenty—after 18 months of trying to make a living doing photo and writing assignments I found it simply wasn’t economically sustainable. In the era of free content, it's very hard to make a living doing this kind of work and much deliberation, I decided it was time to return to what I know best—this.

Making technology work for storytelling and storytellers.

Every flavor of video and digital cinema, high resolution photography and HDR, VR / AR, and emerging media that blurs the lines between it all. Whatever it may be, It's all on the table.

In an effort to expand my knowledge base and get a more complete picture of the entire media ecosystem, I’ve shifted my professional focus to post production and have taken a full time position in HBO's department of Post Delivery, Planning, and Operations. As the gap between set and post continues to close up, I've discovered the skills I developed as a Local 600 Digital Imaging Technician allowed for a smooth transition into this side of the business and I'm enjoying my new role.

Now that I’m officially “back,” going to NAB wasn’t an option and it was great to re-connect with so many friends and colleagues out in Vegas. I was humbled to learn how many people still refer to the technical articles I published here on this site, even years later. Not just DIT’s but camera and post people as well. Because of this, I’ve decided it’s time to refocus and relaunch my web presence.

I’ll be separating all my personal artwork / content to a separate site while this one will get a massive retooling. Not just this but I’m also committed to taking the time to R&D and publish a handful of quality articles a year here, guided by the simple thesis of “making this stuff work.”

Technology empowers artists and storytellers but many of the finer points remain over the average user’s head. Some of these facets can prove to be major roadblocks and even the root of costly disasters. If anyone in search of such niche information happens to find it here, than the effort was well worth it.

I’ve found these web projects drag on forever but with a bit of luck by end of summer, version 4?, 5? (I’ve lost track) of this site will be online as well as a separate site for my creative pursuits.

As always, I’m looking for contributors so if you have an idea for an article or something you’ve written that’s more substantial than for Facebook, etc., please reach out to me about publishing here.

 

Sony Alpha A7RII. Yeah!


This s the original R as official images of the Mark 2 haven't been released yet.

Sony Alpha A7RII. First Look.

This camera might be the most badass little chunk of digital imagemaking technology bestowed on us yet. But you already knew that if you’ve been keeping up with the blogs and early reviews. The response to the A7R Mark II has so far been overwhelmingly positive as there’s a lot to get excited about - more resolution, more sensitivity, improved autofocus, in-camera image stabilization and 4K video @ 100 Mbps. If you’ve already pre-ordered, then you’re counting down the days until early August, especially if you’re like me and unloaded your A7S and A7R a month early because you read the release date wrong. Oops.

On my last big photo trip, I carried both the R and the S and came to fully realize the advantages of mirrorless cameras. In my own use, I found the high resolution, 36.4 Megapixel A7R performs exceptionally well during the day whereas the S, with its enhanced low light capability and Silent Shutter, is best appreciated at night. The "Stealth" Shutter feature in particular became an indispensable asset that allowed me to get shots that would have been impossible without.

In six months of traveling and shooting, I kept thinking these two cameras really should be one. The resolution of the R combined with the sensitivity and stealthiness of the S would in this shooter's opinion, make for pretty much the perfect digital camera.

To my surprise after only one year, the wish has been granted and everything we love about both the R and S has been combined in a brand new body along with a wish list of improvements and slick new features. Thank you, Sony! 

AT A GLANCE:

The resolution of the S is skimpy at best. 4K is in my opinion, not enough for stills anymore. Perhaps I've been made greedy by the R’s 7.5K photos that can be radically reframed in post without penalty. The RII packs a whopping 42 Megapixels ("8k" 7952x5304) onto a newly designed back-lit Full Frame sensor that scales down to a mathematically perfect Super 35mm Crop for 4K video mode. No pixel binning so no aliasing or moire and the smart downsampling has the added bonus of minimizing the “jello effect” inherent to most DSLR video. All this in the robust XAVC codec, Slog2 @ 100 Mbps, selectable in NTSC or PAL, and recorded in the camera to SDXC card. Remarkable! 

I'm comfortable shooting the S at 25,600 ISO and the R at 3200 ISO. The R is a noisy camera and in practice, not great for night work. The S on the other hand sees beyond what we see with our own eyes and I was constantly baffled by what I was able to get with it. For example, shooting f/4 @ 1/320 with barely a foot-candle and somehow making pleasing pictures such as this -

This is a "no light" photo. Sony A7S, Leica Summarit 90mm @ f/4, 1/320", 25,600 ISO

Despite a maximum ISO of 102,400 on the RII, no one is expecting it to perform in low light as well as the S. If it comes close, all the better but I'd personally be satisfied to be able to shoot with no penalty at ISO 6400.

The Autofocus on both the R and S is comparatively poor and there have been many times I discovered heartbreaking focus problems in Lightroom long after it's too late. Unacceptably soft shots because the R just couldn’t tell that piece of junk Zeiss FE 35mm where to focus. Sony’s lenses for these bodies are definitely the weakest aspect of the product line so it’s good news that in addition to the new camera's vastly improved 399 AF detection points, using the Metabones adapter, Canon EOS lenses will apparently perform natively. This surprisingly open source attitude towards camera design is uncharacteristic of Sony but it's awesome that they're doing it. And though I detest zooms, it would be quite nice to shoot with an autofocusing Canon 24-70mm L on this small camera. Sony’s Zeiss FE 24-70mm is a laughable lens in comparison. Flat, totally lifeless, and with unpleasantly jagged bokeh. In my opinion, a lens only good for video shooting.

Perhaps this is a better solution.

With that sweet little Leica 28mm.

With that sweet little Leica 28mm.

Another problem with the R and S known to cause imaging grief is the lack of In-Camera Image Stabilization. Some of the Sony lenses have it but if you’re not using them, hand shake is an issue, particularly on longer lens, and one that's boned me many times on my Leica Summarit 90mm. The RII features the same 5-Axis In-Body Stabilization found in the A7II which solves the problem and allows for slower shutter speeds when shooting handheld.

And for good measure, one more big blur-related problem has been solved - the new camera's redesigned shutter reduces the excessive release slap of the R that literally shakes the camera enough to potentially blur the shot. With my own A7R, I often found the issue with exposures slower than 1/125 which presented a serious limitation to how I could shoot. The newly lighter, more dampened shutter puts far less stress on itself so beyond not ruining your photos, it's also now good for as many as 500,000 actuations, more than double the expectation of most current cameras. And of course the best feature of all, the mechanical shutter can be bypassed altogether using the Silent Shutter Mode for those situations when the sound of it could get you in trouble or be a distraction. I personally think a silent, electronic shutter for shooting stills is the coolest thing ever but because these sensors aren't global, they roll and occasionally you'll discover some weirdness in your photos - anomalies where the phase of the capture at the sensor and the phase of the light sources didn't agree with one another. It looks something like this - 

Imaging problems relating to electronic shutter

Imaging problems relating to electronic shutter

Imaging problems relating to electronic shutter

Every now and again, this fluke will yield some interesting, even aesthetically pleasing weirdness like in the image above. But usually not!

List price for the A7RII is 3200 USD. Expensive but well worth it if you've found this style of camera helps you do your best work. Don't cheap out on your tools.