Archive for October, 2011

Laptop-Based Video Editing: Mobile NAS

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Suggestions for mobile (laptop) multicam etc. video editing

o Ethernet now is 1Gbps
+ Compares well to FW800’s 0.8Gbps.
+ But is there any lag/latency ?  (significantly beyond USB and FW)
o An advantage of NAS – is operating-system-agnostic
+ Hence can conduct a (greater) production project with all material in one folder structure on one device, and Mac and Windows apps can each access each others’ files with full read/write access, including the ability to add “sidecar” files e.g. for audio waveforms or in-video motion analysis results (as used by steady/stabilize effects).
* Can connect a NAS to a laptop directly via Ethernet Crossover cable.  No need for a router.
o Google: [ethernet crossover cable].
o It’s a very standard item, e.g. available at PC World
* Exists-there a small mobile NAS?  Preferably FW-powered from the laptop?
o Google:
+ [small nas raid]
+ [mobile nas]


Mobile Editing Blues: FW800 Unusable on MacBook via BootCamp

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

This is a problem I encountered some time ago, when I was running Boot Camp v3.1 on my MacBook Pro.  Since then I upgraded to v3.2.  I know there’s a v3.3 around but before upgrading I thought it worthwhile to see whether v3.2 had fixed that problem (especially since I couldn’t rule out the possibility of v3.3 reintroducing it).   Only one thing to do: prevaricate test.

  • Copy file from GRaid Mini (GRm) to Desktop:
    • 2GB fine
    • 12GB appears ok initially but then fails (to zero b/s transfer rate, then the Grm device “no longer exists”, at least until reboot)
  • Reverse: 2GB fails (same way) almost immediately.

OK not good thus far…

Next tried an alternative approach: run W7 as a Virtual Machine on Mac Os via Parallel.  I have Parallels v6.  Forum search revealed that there is no FW support in either v6 or v7, though the developers seem interested in knowing why people want it.

  • 2GB GRm to W7 Desktop: ok
  • The reverse: ok.

Had to stop there due to other work – and a very full W7 disk.

The next workaround to consider is attaching a NAS.  Ethernet bandwidths can be 1Gbps, hence more than FW800’s 0.8 Gbps, though I wonder if there could be any issues of lag / latency in this approach.  I’ll do some research and put up another post about this idea.

Filming: A Hampshire Garden

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Oops, this is one post I left in “Draft” too long.   It was about the weekend before last…

Spurred on by Den Lennie’s tutorials on shooting B-Roll, I grabbed the camera (EX3) and filters etc. to have a “play” in the garden, shooting stuff to edit together into a pleasant sequence of some sort.

The intention was to present the floral aspects of the property in an elegant easy-going fashion with occasional quirks like my girlfriend.  While shooting, the dog (a toy poodle) kept pestering me for attention, because obviously the only important thing in the world is playing ball.  It seemed best to “go with the flow”, so I assigned said canine a principal role.

This turned out to be a 4-hour shoot (with interruptions) of about 150 clips total duration about an hour.  It took another 4 hours at least (with interruptions) to ingest, catalogue and convert the clips (into MXF, for Sony Vegas) and probably about 8 hours of editing, plus a little further shooting etc.  In an ideal world there’d be no need to grade, but in reality some tweaks were necessary for continuity, especially since the lighting (sun/cloud) conditions were very changeable.

Hopefully I’ll  get it finished soon,along with the rest of my backlog, which now includes a Diwali corporate event and wrangling / editing my own version of a music video in good old faithful Final Cut Pro 7.

Training: Den Lennie’s “Music Video” Experience

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

I attended, working on one of the camera units.  Had a great time, learnt lots, at all sorts of levels.  Even how to make good use of the Movie Slate application on my iPhone!  Link:

Filming: “October Sunrise” (Timelapse 10spf)

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

A misty sunrise into a clear sky today, here from my girlfriend’s eastwards-facing rural location.  Didn’t actually point at the sun as the main thing of interest was the mist, which I wanted to see swirling and evaporating and glowing orange etc. as the sun came up.  Shot time-lapse for about 2.5 hours, this being about 1 hour 20 mins (rounded figures) before and after sunrise.

The result is at

Chose to use manual exposure, partly to emphasize magnitude of the change in lighting (auto exposure would have reduced this impression) and partly because in any case the pre-dawn shots required frame acumulation mode, hence a discontinuity when I inevitably came to switch out of that (to avoid the camera being dazzled).

In the edit (in Sony Vegas), initially straight-cut the differently-exposed clips together (in sequence).  But the result, when played, jolted uncomfortably at each cut.  Tried smoothing the levels-change, via Levels FX, but didn’t look that great.  Imagined an “Iris” effect.  Ended-up with the “Iris” transition,which gives the appearance/hint of stopping-dow, exactly as needed here.  The next “candy” item was the vignette.  Added in post (Sony Vegas) via feathered Mask.  Also some video de-noising and finally some text dissapearing into its own “mist”.

It played too quickly – all over in about 30 seconds. I wish I’d shot it one frame every second instead of every 10 seconds.  Then again I need copyright-free music of sufficient duration as background music.  I found some free 30-second-ish music slips that are free for non-profit use at  Might try stretching this (interlaced) video to (motion-compensated) double-framerate, then half-speed, some other time.  Note that Vimeo has its own Music Store for soundracks etc., some of which are free (Creative Commons license).

Rendered to H264 for uploading to Vimeo, using settings advised at .

Camera settings:

  • Time:
    • Started filming at about 6am
    • Sunrise officially at 7:24
    • Completed filming at about 09:00
  • Constant settings:
    • Gamma STD3
      • No particular reason, just looked ok for the extremely dark pre-dawn shots.
    • HQ 1080/50i
    • Timelapse: 1 frame per 10 seconds
      • Too fast – wish I’d used 1 fps
    • WB: 6100 K
    • Gain -3dB
    • Shutter 1/60 sec
  • Exposure (manual, varied in steps)
    • For pre-dawn darkness at 06:00: f1.9, standard gamma, frame accumulation (64 frames)
    • For dawn: no frame accumulation
    • At 5 mins before sunrise: ND1 filter (1/8)
    • At 10 mins post sunrise: f3.4
    • At 25 mins post sunries: f5.1
    • At 40 mins post sunrise: ND2 filter (1/64), f3.1
  • Subsequently, searched on web to see what other people did:
    • Google: [sunrise time lapse]
        • Title: “Tips on how to shoot sunrise time lapse”
        • Q: I need to shoot a sun rise time lapse. I’m trying to figure out the best way to go about it. Do I use a ND filter from the start? Do I leave in auto iris or do I have to stay by the camera making constant adjustments as the sun rises?
        • A1: Depends how long you want the shot to last. I did one the other month that went from 2 hours before sunrise to 3 hours after, no ND, auto iris. Mind you, my camera ranges from F1.9 to f16, so it managed it fairly well. Obviously the sun blew out, but not much else in the scene did, when I ended the shot, everything was exposed correctly.
        • A2: I’ve shot probably a hundred sunrises/sets. I generally shot 10-30 minutes and then shortened it to 1 frame a second. Autoexposure will work (I almost always shot this way), but you can get a nice effect going from blackness to light with a locked exposure too.

Self-Organization: Business Cards

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

I have a stack of business cards.  Recent ones I keep in my wallet or jacket, but there must be a better arrangement.

One interesting idea is to take a photo of each card (front and back) and then upload the photos to EverNote.  That service includes text-reading, so in principle the card will be ubiquitously accessible (to multiple devices, e.g. smartphone) and retrievable both by date search and by text search.


Upgrade: XP to W7: Virtual XP Copy

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

One thing that might help when in W7, re-building the set of apps previously installed under XP, would be to migrate the whole XP instance to a virtual machine elsewhere, in practice my MacBook Pro, which has Parallels 6 under Mac OS.

Then, while installing apps to the new W7 instance, can do a side-by-side comparison with the virtual XP instance.  The only unknown is the Microsoft activation/licensing issue – could it “clog the gears” of this proposed process?  Presumably I need to transfer the activation(s) to the XP virtual machine.  But could the W7 Upgrade process itself absorb the XP activation, crippling the XP virtual machine?

Only one way to find out, and that time is not now…

Upgrade: XP to W7

Friday, October 7th, 2011

I have a Mac Pro with Boot Camp running Windows XP (SP2), and want to upgrade it to Windows 7.  Not as simple as I had hoped.  It sounds like it will take maybe a week rather than an afternoon…

  • I had purchased an upgrade version of Windows 7, assuming (very naively…) that this would save me from having to reinstall all of my apps currently installed under XP.  In practice, the “Upgrade” only works as such from Windows Vista; in the case of XP it essentially does a fresh install, meaning one does have to reinstall any required applications.
  • Also, Windows 7 can’t use XP drivers.
  • In consequence, the upgrade is likely to take a few days…
    • I have many apps, some of which take half a day individually to install.
    • There are also obscure things like device drivers.
  • Steps
    1. My initial step was to backup and defrag
    2. Next I will run [Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor]
      1. This requires all interesting USB devices to be live-connected during the advisor’s scan.
    3. I ran it
      1. It made no major complaints about my system, which it says can also run XP mode (virtual machine).
      2. It does not return an inventory of applications automaticaly, so I’ll just have to make one manually.
    4. be continued…


    RAID Sharing Over Home Network: Works OK

    Thursday, October 6th, 2011

    Just for the record, currently this works:

    • On Mac Pro, in Windows (XP):
      • Choose any folder. For example:
        • On the RAID, this could be either of the two partitions:
          • NTFS_RAID (an NTFS partition)
          • RAID_ProAVIO (an HFS+) partition
      • Then [RtClk > Sharing and Security… > Sharing > Network sharing and security:
        • Share this folder on the network: YES
        • Allow network users to change my files: YES
          • Because some tools create “sidecar” files e.g. audio peaks or video indexes.
    • On Mac Book, in Windows 7:
      • From a file-browser, be it Windows Explorer or part of the File>Open feature of an application, go to [ Network > aComputer > aFolder ]
        • Tested by playing file in Windows Media Player and in Sony Vegas (video NLE).  Worked fine.  Latter added a [.sfk] sidecar-file to the RAID-folder.
        • Worked both for source on NTFS partition and for source on HFS+ partition, except the latter gave rise to prolonged “hourglass” delays before the file was accessed/linked, following which the video played smoothly.
    • What doesn’t work:
      • Unable to see Mac Book from Mac Pro.
      • Also, when MacPro is in Mac OS, MacBook W7 Windows Explorer > Network lists the MacPro as [MACPRO-2E4124] yet cannot connect to it, blaming a firewall (presumably the one on MacPro).
        • Network Error: Windows cannot access \\MACPRO-2E4124
        • Tried exiting Kapersky (on the MacPro>MacOS) but no change.
        • Tried stopping MacPro firewall (via Preferences > Security) but no change.

    Mac OS Upgrade: Snow Leopard: Apres-Install

    Thursday, October 6th, 2011

    Before checking for updates, install the bundles, iWork and iLife.  Reasoning: they were designed at the same point in time, at which they were most likely to be compatible; it is possible that later Mac OS updates could (in principle) detract from this – so I opt to “play safe”.

    • Install iWork
      • Occupies about 1 GB
      • Installed in about 10 mins
    • Install iLife
      • Occupies about 3 GB
      • Installed in about 30 mins
    • Apple Update
      • Estimated duration 6 hours – so do it overnight instead (set a reminder!).

    Mac OS Upgrade: Leopard to Snow Leopard

    Thursday, October 6th, 2011

    Upgrading a Mac Pro from Mac OS Leopard to Mac OS Snow Leopard.  Now that I’m no longer mid-project, and have some “spare” time, I’m ready to have a go.  Experiences:

    • Paranoia:
      • Will the installation offer an “Upgrade” (as opposed to “Fresh Install”) option?
        • It didn’t ask me
      • Will my Boot Camp partition be at risk?
        • Doesn’t seem so.  The installer recognises the partitions and asks which one you want to install to.
      • Any install instructions/advice/tips:
    •  Steps Taken:
      • Backup both partitions – Mac OS & Boot Camp.
      • Check installation disk appearance of quality
        • It was slightly marked.  Could not easily be cleaned.
      • Boot to install-disk
        • Prompted for default/custom install
          • Looked at Custom option, it installs everything except Rosetta.  That app is only needed when running old (PowerPC) apps.  It is being phased out (along with the apps…).  If an app needs it, you will be prompted to download it anyway, so no real disadvantage in omitting it, in fact an advantage – running any ancient apps will highlight them as such.
        • Installation started
          • From top-menu, selected option to display Logger.
            • Indicated that the process “migrated” my Preferences.  Sounds hopeful…
        • Run-time
          • Estimated 42 minute.  Still said that 10 minutes later.
          • The estimate was about right – maybe an over-estimate – it’s just that the progress was nonlinear.
        • Completion:
          • Prompted to Reboot.
      • Reboot
        • Started up with no apparent problems.
        • Prompted me for my contact details.
          • Some of them needed updating – I did so.
    • Success!
      • So far…
    • Backup
      • Prior to any Apple Updates (system, apps…)

    XDCAM-EX: Picture Profile by Marvels Film

    Sunday, October 2nd, 2011
      • (Looks like a modification of Bill Ravens’ profile I found a couple or so years ago, except that profile had G-B = 32 and no white offset or ATW+2, and the Detail was not set.  Gamma was -40, STD1, Black was -12, Black Gamma was 0)
      • Matrix: On, High-Sat, Level 0, Phase -5, R-G 75, R-B 0, G-R -18, G-B -23, B-R -27, B-G 13. This gives a beautifully balanced color matrix.
      • White: on, Offset A +2, Offset B +2, Offset ATW +2. This will give you a beautiful warm picture, by elevating the reds a little bit
      • Detail: On, Level 0, Frequency +65, Crispening 0, Black limiter +75, White limiter +75. This gives a very nice definition without the artificial sharpening artifiacts. Ideal for DOF adapter shooting.
      • Gamma: Cine-1 for rich-contrast situations, Cine-3 for low-contrast situations. Make cine-1 your standard and avoid cine-4 (too noisy in the shadows).
      • Black: -3 or -4
      • Black gamma: -2. Will help to reduce noise in the blacks.
    • I choose instead the following Detail settings:
      • On: Level -5, Freq +25, Crisp +20

    iPhone 4: LightMeter (app) & Theory

    Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

    iPhone app: “Light Meter”:

    • Uses iPhone-4’s cameras (front or rear), displaying image with overlays reporting framerate (can specify fixed e.g. 1/60), f-stop, ISO.
    • Usage with my Sony XDCAM EX3 video camera:
      • In settings, I set Stops to Halves, as that’s what the camera uses.
      • I typically use an EX3 with a Tiffen T1 IR-blocking filter.  What’s the ISO for this arrangement?
      • What do the EX3’s ND filters do to the ISO?
        • EX3 has ND1=1/8, ND2=1/64
          • (From EX3 user manual, page 50)
        • I think ISO is linear, so if Camera is 320 ISO, they imply equivalent ISOs by simple division:
          • 1080p: Clear=>320, ND1=>40, ND2=>4.5
          • 720p: Clear=>400, ND1=>50, ND2=>6.25
          • 1080i: Clear=>640, ND1=>80, ND2=>10
        • Alternatively, for ND1 filter you can leave the app’s ISO setting as Clear (no filter) and instead adjust the app’s Correction Factor to -3 EV (though it’s maybe better reserved for simulating lighting variations e.g. due to weather, as in the Exposure Value Table further below).
          • I guess from this one off case that EV is logarithmic, since 2^-3=1/8 as per ND1.
          • That guess was later confirmed by further web research (further below), stating that EV is an “additive system”, i.e. operates in the logarithmic domain, base 2.
        • Caution: being an ISO/EV newbie, I can only hope this is is all correct!
        • Nevertheless, when I tried my naive settings they worked just fine – I was successfully able to use the iPhone Light Meter to obtain a sensible camera configuration for good exposure level and (given the ND filters) the kind of shot I want (e.g. degree of DOF).  When tested on the camera, they all worked out as expected.  Cool!
    • The Light Meter app optionally displays EV400, EV100, Lux, FootCandle.  Latter units are explained in great detail at at [johnlind…] link below.
    • The app can also “log” readings – in the form of jpg images of the screen and overlays including geographical location – to a DropBox account.  For example, when I clicked the [Log] button, a jpf file appeared on my MacBook in the folder [ /Users/davidesp/Dropbox/Photos/Pocket Light Meter].

    Exposure Values & Exposure Theory:

      •  <<The full name for Exposure Value, or EV, is the Additive Photographic Exposure System.  Exposure Value has two equivalent definitions.  The first defines how much light will be admitted to the film by the combination of lens aperture and shutter speed.  The second defines how much exposure is required by the combination of subject luminance (e.g., how bright it is) and film speed.  Setting a combination of aperture and shutter speed on a camera with an EV that equals the EV for the subject luminance and film speed should result in a properly exposed photograph>>
      • (The article continues at length.  For example the “Additive” element reflects the fact that this system operates in the logarithmic domain. The article also distinguishes luminance from illumination, explains units such as point-source intensity in candelas, flux in lumens, light illuminating a surface in foot-candles,  light radiated from an area in foot-Lamberts, luminence in candelas per area (square foot or square metre)
      • An EV (Exposure Value) table is presented.  I guess (?) this is useful for the iPhone app, where EV can be shifted up/down by a control, to estimate what would be needed should the lighting conditions vary:
        • -1 EV:  light sand or snow
        •  0 EV:  bright or strong hazy sun (distinct, sharp shadows)
        • +1 EV:  weak hazy sun (soft shadows; distinct sun outline in clouds)
        • +2 EV:  cloudy bright (no shadows; sun creates bright area in clouds)
        • +3 EV:  heavy overcast, but not “black” (no shadows; sun location cannot be determined)
        • +3 EV:  open shade (in shadow but 60% sky not obscured)
        • +4 EV:  deep shade (in shadow with obscured sky; under forest canopy)
      • Exposure value is a base-2 logarithmic scale
      • (This article has a more comprehensive table of EVs and weather conditions etc. than the above)