First look: Canon’s 4K EOS C500 and EOS-1D C cameras

First look: Canon’s 4K EOS C500 and EOS-1D C cameras

Just a few months after Canon astounded us with their C300 cinema camera, they’re at it again with another round of incredible 4K additions to the Cinema EOS range. Introducing… the Canon EOS C500 camcorder, EOS-1D C high-res 4K DSLR, and four new 4K-friendly lenses.

Now, anyone looking for affordable 4K cinema options have a few very enticing avenues to consider, and it’ll be interesting to see how Canon’s latest stack up against our current 4K darling, the JVC GY-HMQ10. Here are the details:

Canon EOS C500

The 12-bit RGB 4:4:4 output in Canon’s new EOS C500 is impressive, and will give so much latitude in post when working with these files. I’m looking forward to seeing whether the dynamic range is expanded from the C300 or whether it is still 12 stops, but I’d be excited and not surprised to see more dynamic range (especially as the brochure says “Canon’s Super 35mm equivalent, large-sized CMOS sensor with approx. 8.85 megapixels allows you to shoot in lower light conditions than ever. It offers a wide range of ISO settings from 320 to 20,000.” Nice!)

Like the C300, the PL and EF mounting is a smart move. There are some gorgeous EF mount lenses but I would expect to see a lot more PL mount lenses being used with the C500 over the C300 given that the C500 really is starting to rub shoulders with ARRI ALEXA cameras.

There is so much scalability now with this camera in terms of output you can really craft this for your workflow and as the body is the same design as the C300 and probably a similar weight, this could be used in tiny tight spaces on set which is a real benefit to location shooting. Definitely one to watch and I personally can’t wait to have a look at it, based on these specs…

  • Sensor size: Super 35mm equivalent
  • Effective pixels: 8.85 megapixels (approx)
  • ND filter system: Three sets, four filters (clear, two stops, four stops, six stops)
  • Focus/Aperture: Manual
  • Main input/output terminals: 3G-SDI 1/3G-SDI 2, MON. 1/MON. 2, HD SD SDI, HDMI OUT, Sync OUT (switchable HD Sync / HD Y / Black Burst / Composite), Headphone Input/Output: TIME CODE terminal Input: GenLock, XLR×2, Microphone (3.5 mm)

Canon EOS-1D C

As soon as the 5D Mk III was released, we could tell that Canon where committed to furthering the needs of the DSLR film maker and, rather than trying to migrate them into a different form factor, give them what they want at the best possible quality. The 1DC looks to be an incredible 4K shooter for the DSLR film maker wanting to upgrade their workflow. You only need to look at the specs below to see this is a serious video camera – integration of a native proxy workflow for post over HDMI to an external recorder, 8-bit 4K motion jpegs on a CF card and everything down to 720p all shot using the C-Log Gamma.

– Internal 4K (4,096 x 2,160) recording with 4:2:2 colour sampling – direct to CF cards

– 8-bit Motion JPEG compression

– ISO sensitivity up to 25,600

– Clean HDMI out (Full HD, 4:2:2)

– Canon Log Gamma

– 24p support during 4K shooting

– 24, 25, 30, 50 and 60p frame rate support in Full HD (1920x1080p) resolution

– Full-frame sensor with crop support (APS-H, Super 35mm)

The Canon EOS-1D C moves DSLR film makers closer to Cinema than they have ever been before and looks set to change the industry again. I for one can’t wait to get hold of it and look forward to seeing how the industry receives it. As for the rumoured C100? We’ll have to wait and see…

Find out more about our full Canon EOS range at Jigsaw24.com. You can also call us on 03332 409 306, email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com or keep up with all the latest news by following @Jigsaw24Video or ‘Like’-ing our Facebook page.

Canon 5D face-off: MkIII vs MkII

Canon 5D face-off: MkIII vs MkII

If you’ve been living with the Canon 5D Mk II for the last three years and have a workflow in place, you may be wondering if it’s worth moving up to the MkIII. I believe the answer is a resounding yes – especially if you’re doing your own post…

The compression: I-frame vs GOP

One of the main decisions you’ll face on upgrading is whether to move from shooting with GOP compression to I-frame. GOP compression basically uses three types of frame: intra-frame, bidirectional and predictive frame. Without getting too deep into how these are structured and what they all do, the I-frame is the only standalone frame containing all information; the B and P frames only display the information that changes from that I-frame, with the P frame only displaying changes from frames to itself and the B frame referencing changes in the frames before and after itself.

The I-frames refresh the information because with GOP compression the further you go before an I-frame, the more errors start to build, but the closer the I-frames are together the larger the bitrate will be. In the 5D MkII, for example, there were 12 B and P frames between each I-frame. In the 5D MkIII, when shooting GOP there are only 10 B and P frames between each I-frame, resulting in improved image quality. (This is one of many changes to the codec.)

The 5D MkIII also does Intra-frame encoding. This means it encodes each frame as a standalone picture, so no frame is dependent on any other frame to reproduce the original image. This is currently much better to edit with, because your computer isn’t constantly looking at all the different frames in order to display an image. Plus, when you make a cut with a GOP movie, your computer has to look around and create a whole new I-frame where you made the cut, and when grading you are going to get artefacts and anomalies because you are colouring footage that only exists virtually. I-frame-only codecs bypass this, making editing smoother, faster with less strenuous for your CPU.

The Workflow: Shooting

When you shoot with your new 5D MkIII after editing with it once, you won’t want to use the GOP version again – stay I-frame only. Navigating through the new 5D MkIII menu structure is very easy, and simple to set.

The workflow: Ingest

To ingest, I used Sonnet’s dual-bay CF card to Express34, and if you have an Express34 port then this is one of the fastest ways to ingest. If you have Thunderbolt then you can couple it with Sonnet’s upcoming Express34 to Thunderbolt reader, so you’ll be able to pull the data off at the speed of the card. For lots of footage, I would recommend this.

The workflow: Editing

Editing in FCP7

One thing that surprised me was the 5D MkIII’s immediate and seamless integration with FCP7. As an added bonus, render times for the 5D MkIII I-frame footage are less than half the length of render times for 5D MkII raw H.264 (admittedly this is slightly irrelevant because who edits raw H.264 DSLR footage more than once?). When working with ProRes LT and HQ with the same effect applied, render times where pretty much the same as the I-frame footage. Trimming was quicker and much more responsive, so you got realtime jogging and cuts happened instantaneously.

In the past, the most common workflow for all of us shooting DSLR was to ingest the footage and transcode it to ProRes LT (around 35Mb/s), sometimes ProRes HQ (120Mb/s). But given that the bitrate of raw footage rarely exceeded 40Mb/s, stepping down to ProRes LT didn’t lose you much, if any, quality, and the speed at which you could edit shot up. Your new I-frame 5D MkIII footage is now over 60Mb/s, and because of the lack of IBP frames edits like a dream. You won’t want to transcode to anything – especially not ProRes LT – because you will definitely be almost halving the quality. If you are shooting I-frame and need ProRes for any reason, then your new 5D MkIII needs ProRes HQ. (If you are shooting GOP then stick with ProRes LT.) But my advice is: avoid transcoding, where possible edit natively.

Editing in FCPX

Like me, I imagine a lot of DSLR users who migrated to FCPX got excited about the idea of cutting DSLR footage natively, tried it, and decided to go back to ProRes. It’s quicker, more responsive and more reliable, and that matters when you are using FCPX’s cursor-scrolling previews to find your way around your clips. 5D MkIII I-frame footage again gives you faster performance. You may not notice this with a couple of clips, but try playing back a long edit you are working on and you will start to see a difference.

Editing in Premiere Pro

This is by far the fastest workflow for cutting your 5D MkIII footage. It’s common knowledge now that Premiere Pro, optimised correctly, can run rings around other NLEs, especially when editing DSLR footage.

Let’s take a look at a pretty common situation: editing for fast delivery to the web. Here, using the Adobe Media Browser you could get your shot (which you monitored and adjusted the audio on in-camera) straight into Premiere and edit off the CF card. A quick top and tail of the shot, a couple of cutaways, add your branding and export to Flash through Adobe Media Encoder – done. With a 5D and Adobe, you can have your breaking news professionally produced and on the web within minutes of it happening. Without the 5D MkIII’s I-frame footage, rendering alone would slow you down, making a transcode to something else necessary, and encoding would take twice as long.

Be wary of editing multiple streams from the CF card, though – remember you only have a read/write speed of 90Mb/s or so from that card which is only fast enough for one stream. This is not a stable workflow, but it is a fast one.

Because it is AVC, playback will happen through either the Adobe Mercury Playback software or engine, depending on the availability of compatible GPUs. In terms of rendering time, Premiere again is impressive, rendering The 5D Mk II footage at the same speed as the I-frame Mk III (if you have a CUDA card ignore this bit as you won’t have to render most things you do). Without a CUDA card, though, problems with H.264 GOP will start to show as sustained playback stresses your CPU, generally making your workflow unstable. Shooting I-frame will be less processor intensive, more stable and faster over a prolonged period of time.

Editing in Media Composer 6

Most people will now be familiar with editing and ingesting to Avid via the AMA function. In short, this turns Avid into a native NLE rather than a DNxHD-only NLE. This means no transcoding and again, with your I-frame-only footage you get the benefit of editing something like DNxHD without the hefty bitrate, transcode times or increased chance of bottlenecking from slower connection HDDs (USB2, Firewire 800, etc.).

If you need DNxHD, your only real choice for 5D footage is DNxHD 120 (120Mb/s), and this has been the codec of choice for Media Composer DSLR editors in the past. These days, use AMA files – they’ll cut just as well and transcoding takes ages. With I-frame 5D MkIII footage, you won’t see much benefit from transcoding to DNxHD but, like using ProRes HQ, you will be doubling the demand on your bandwidth from your HDD, limiting the amount of streams you can cut and increasing the chances of bottlenecking.

Grading and colouring: DaVinci Resolve

It is going to be even easier to make your footage look incredible in Resolve now that you have this I-frame codec. The problem I found when grading DSLR footage in the past was its tendency to get noisy and blocky fast, with artefacts and anomalies appearing all over the place. This was a result of the heavily compressed GOP codec, as well as it being 4:2:0 colour subsampling (the anomalies this caused didn’t go away even if you transcoded to ProRes HQ). The I-frame 5D MkIII footage is still 4:2:0 subsampling, so you will still have to treat it right to deal with a restricted colour space, but you aren’t going to be fighting against the problems encountered with grading GOP-based footage and it won’t turn as blocky and noisy on you as quickly.

Want to know more about the Canon 5D MkIII workflow? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Video Review: The Canon XF300

Video Review: The Canon XF300

We’ve been big fans of Canon’s XF300 since it came out last year, so if you’re looking to add a new camcorder to your production workflow, here’s why we think it’s a great option…

For a start, the XF300 is the only 50mbps 4:2:2 video camera in its price range. You get great image quality for your money (the L-series lens more than makes up for the 1/3″ sensor), manual controls that are a breeze to use for anyone with a basic knowledge of camcorders, and a durable build with durable metal hinges and no internal moving parts. All that, and more, adds up to an affordable camcorder that’s perfect for anyone shooting outdoor scenes, sports or wildlife. Watch the video above for more details.

– Like what you see in the video? The Canon XF300 camcorder is available from Jigsaw, and for a limited time we’re throwing in a free Kata case and two 16GB Compact Flash cards!

Find out more about the Canon XF300 by calling 03332 409 306 or emailing broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. You can also keep up with the latest video news and offers by following us on Twitter (@Jigsaw24Video) and ‘Like’-ing our Jigsaw Video Facebook page.

Why mobile devices are big in broadcast

Why mobile devices are big in broadcast

Smartphones and tablets have taken the world by storm, being used as gaming devices, web browsers and even fully fledged portable offices. Now the latest raft of mobile devices like iPads and iPhones is making waves in the broadcast industry.

One factor behind the industry acceptance is their function as a mobile computer. If you’re at your workstation, you don’t necessarily want to navigate out of the program you’re using to check your emails. With an iPad, you have all you need at your workstation to browse the web and check emails without disrupting your workflow. Secondly, there’s the budget factor. A small control surface will set you back hundreds to thousands of pounds. But now there are free apps designed specifically to control major NLEs, allowing access to multiple control surfaces for editing, audio mixing, colour grading and more.

The app market is getting increasingly competitive, with hundreds of apps vying for the attention of editors’ and video producers’ mobile devices. I’ve put together a few below which can genuinely improve workflows, including apps for controlling editing and grading software, as well as inventive video production apps that that do the jobs of expensive bits of kit like teleprompters and digital clapperboards.

Control surfaces

The iPad‘s multitouch gestures lend it perfectly to adjusting knobs and faders in your choice of grading or editing software. Of course, you don’t quite get the ergonomics and response of a full-on hardware desk, but for apps which are free or cost a fraction of the price, they’re very useful for using out on location to grade on the fly, or in conjunction with your existing surface. These are a few of my favourites…

AC-7 Core. This app looks great. It’s designed to look and act like a dedicated Final Cut Pro controller, and does so by taking advantage of CoreMIDI support in iOS. As such, AC-7 Core is also compatible with many other suites which support MIDI controllers including Logic, Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Sony Vegas/Acid Pro or Adobe Audition. It’s incredibly easy to sync your iPad with FCP using AC-7 Core too, as you can see in this video tutorial from Creative Cow. Price: £5.49.

Tangent v-Wave Lite. v-Wave Lite’s three digital trackerballs let you simultaneously control the colour differential and masters in the Primary In, Secondaries and Primary Out rooms in Apple Color. It’s a proper standalone controller, but you can also use it at the same time as your CP200 or Wave, so you can even have two people grading together. Price: FREE.

Blackmagic Videohub Control. The Videohub app lets you control your Blackmagic Videohub broadcast SDI routers directly from your iPad. It’s easy to use as you simply tap a destination button to show the connected source, then change sources by pushing any of the source buttons. As it’s a free download, you can equip your whole crew with their own Videohub control panel for nothing! Price: FREE.

Production apps

On set, everyone has their smartphone (set to silent!) in their pocket, but as budgets are strained the iPhones and iPads have been coming out in favour of more expensive broadcast kit, or with bespoke programs written for them (like Sony’s XMPilot) to directly save time in post. For filmmakers and producers on a budget, there are hundreds of apps out there that can turn an iPad into a veritable broadcast toolbox for next to nothing. From useful tools for calculating depth of field up to apps that will make you wonder why you ever needed to spend so much on autocues and clapperboards, there’s an app that comes in handy for every aspect of the set. Here’s a handful of the best…

MovieSlate. This clapperboard app lets you log footage and take notes as you shoot, so you can save time by only capturing the good shots. You can then export your notes and logs into various file formats daily shot reports, archiving and ingesting shot data into Final Cut Pro, Media Composer or Premiere Pro. But the most interesting thing is that MovieSlate will receive timecode (as an in-app upgrade) – just connect a compatible audio cable from an LTC timecode source to the headphone jack of your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Price: £17.49 (£34.99 upgrade for Timecode Sync).

Sony XMPilot. The main advantage of XMPilot is you can add metadata to the camera over the air while you’re still shooting. As well as helping you keep track of what you’re doing, this also means the moment you import your footage into Avid or FCP 7, it’ll automatically create bins and an ordered project. Price: FREE.

i-Prompt Pro. A budget version of professional teleprompting software, iPrompt Pro is handy for any broadcast application where a script is required. Speed of scrolling, size of text and fonts can all be edited to suit the speaker and manufacturer Datavision also sell mounts and hoods to fit your device. Price: FREE.

AJA DataCalc. This is very handy for working out the storage requirements of your media during shooting. DataCalc tells you how many GBs you’ll need based on your chosen video format (including ProRes, DVCProHD, HDV, XDCAM, DV, CineForm, REDCODE, Avid DNxHD, Apple Intermediate, 16 bit RGB and RGBA, uncompressed and more) and video standard (including NTSC, PAL, 1080i, 1080p, 720p, 2K and 4K). Price: FREE.

DSLR Filmmaker Toolkit. If you’re shooting on DSLR, this compendium of clever tools is everything you need to set up perfect shots, log them and more. The comprehensive set of functions includes a Slate, Shot Log, Viewfinder, Depth-of-field calculator, Sunrise/Sunset Tables and a Spirit Level all within one app. Price: £5.49.

There’s a whole host of apps for production and post-production workflows out there on the App Store. We’d be interested to hear what apps you use to accompany your production or post workflows – just leave us a comment in the box below with your favourites and we’ll get back to you.

Find out more about using Apple’s iPad for video – call 03332 409 306 or broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. You can also keep up with the latest broadcast news and offers by following @JigsawVideo on Twitter or heading to our Jigsaw Video Facebook page.

Studio Lighting for Chromakey

Studio Lighting for Chromakey

When you’re shooting against a chromakey backdrop, good lighting can be the difference between being able to pull a really clean key from your final image and shooting something that’s mostly noise and falls apart as soon as you attempt to do anything to it in post (shooting in 4:2:2 will also help). Here are a few things you’re going to want to keep in mind…

1. Aim for soft, even, overhead lighting

To pull the cleanest possible key from anything shot against a chroma wall, you need your backdrop to be evenly lit, with no obvious of areas of highlight and shadow (any variation will translate to noise in your image, and make it far harder to get usable footage. The easiest way to do this is to light your chromakey backdrop from above, as this will reduce overlap, using a soft light like a KinoFlo or Ianiro 5502 (we actually put together an Ianiro kit specifically for chromakey lighting)

2. Position your subject carefully

You want to keep your subject about two metres away from your chromakey backdrop, because you don’t want their shadow to mess up your carefully balanced backdrop lighting. If you’re working on an infinity curve (a curved green, blue or white backdrop that has no corners and so can be used to give the impression that the space behind your subject goes on forever), you might want to hide their shadow there, too. Using something like a fresnal should help with this – just be careful not to give them bright and shiny legs, as that will look strange.

3. Remember the inverse-square law

There’s a scientific explanation of this that you’re welcome to go and Google, but it practical terms it means that the closer your subject is to your lighting, the brighter their face will be and the darker the backdrop will be, as you have to expose for the subject. The brighter and more headache-inducing your chromakey backdrop is, the easier you’ll find pulling your key, so try and light your subject from as far away as possible without splashing your subject lights over your green screen and creating hotspots.

4. Backlight your subject from above, key from 45 degrees above the eyes and fill from 20 degrees below the eyeline

Like your chromawall, you want to try and light your subject from above. As well as helping you get enough shadow to avoid their face looking completely flat (for classic portrait lighting you want one side of their face to be a stop darker than the other), this will also make it easier to avoid having your subject lighting affect your nice, even backdrop. You can now get flexible lamp arms that will allow you to position your light directly above someone (Dedo’s DSTFX stand is a safe bet), but a ¾ light will do if you don’t have the budget for extra kit. In chroma your back light serves two purposes: cutting down on green fringes (if you’re shooting with a less than ideal camera for chroma) and separating the subject from the background.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Simple Chromakey Setups

Simple Chromakey Setups

Believable chromakey (or Chroma Key) is now not only reliable but, provided it’s used properly, is also pretty attainable in most situations. With this being the case, plenty of manufacturers have begun to produce chromakey kits, which is pushing the technology forward and the price down. So, with the reality that every studio is now able to have a decent and cheap chromakey set-up, the question is no longer “Can we afford a chroma key set-up?” but rather:

“How much should we pay for it and how should we use it properly?”

There are basically two types of chromakey set-ups available at the moment; traditional green screen and reflective. They both work on the same principle of creating super-imposed keys on just one colour channel, R, G, or B.  Green (sometimes blue) is normally chosen as it is a less common wardrobe choice and modern cameras are generally more sensitive to green, meaning a higher level of accuracy can be achieved. Green and blue are also considered the colours least like skin-tone.

The subject then stands in front of a matte background of the selected colour and the signal is altered to replace that colour with an alternative signal – a nice weather map for example!

The signal alteration can be done in post-production through software with various editing packages and plug-in software solutions, but for live productions the foreground and background video must be combined using a hardware keyer.

And there it is – it’s as simple as that! Well, sort of…

Back to the two main types of chromakey set-ups. In a traditional green screen set-up the subject is in front of a bright green background. Set up correctly, this can produce amazing results, provided there is good even lighting on the screen and at least 3 point lighting on the subject. As such it is well-suited to a permanent set-up in a spacious studio. Lastolite’s collapsible backgrounds are great for this. Vivid colours and a wide range of sizes are available, or you can simply paint the background with Chroma paint.

With a reflective chromakey setup, the subject stands in front of a background containing millions of glass micro-beads that reflect light put out from a ring of green (or blue) LEDs mounted around the camera lens. The previously grey screen then becomes green. To the eye, the screen doesn’t appear particularly green; the camera picks up the single frequency light emitted by the LEDs creating a pure green matte background. At close range this can give fantastic results. Predictably, with increased distance the light drop-off means the screen may start looking grey again but, in terms of budget solutions, this method really can’t be beaten.

Backgrounds come in all sizes and, perhaps more importantly, so do the rings – meaning that a ring can fit any lens you care to mount it on and if it doesn’t fit immediately then the supplied adapters will make sure it’s snug. One of the main advantages in this set up is that lighting is only required for the subject. As with a traditional green screen the subject will require the usual key, back and fill lighting, but unlike a traditional set-up the screen itself doesn’t require lighting at all.

With the option to switch between a blue and green light ring, you can easily change the colour used for your chromakey (just in case a guest arrives in the studio wearing a bright green jump suit…). All light rings come with a control box to adjust the level of light emitted, and all that remains is the “tuning” of the keyer into your setup.

For smaller cameras (72mm) the Datavideo CKL-200 kit is good value and produces great results for professional corporate videos or educational projects. It has the added benefit of changing between green and blue at the flick of a switch. However, the keyer only has composite in and out, so isn’t of the highest quality available.

For larger cameras and broadcast standard kit (still at an attainable price) the Reflecmedia kits are not to be sneezed at. With the option of collapsible backgrounds it makes putting up the kit a cinch and taking it down only slightly less so! The light rings come in small (72mm), medium (112mm) and large (147mm) and with the whole gamut of adapters for differing lenses.

The Ultimatte DV keyer supplied with these kits has not only composite in and out, but also DV in and out. Admittedly not at the same time, but with the onboard frame store, it’s possible to import the background required, store it, and then digitally output the keyed video unlocking a whole new level of quality for affordable and reliable chromakey.

With great solutions at low-end prices there’s now no reason to miss out on a chromakey set-up whatever situation you’re in, and for a simplicity on a budget the reflective set-ups are so user friendly it’s pretty hard to go wrong.

Want to know more? Call us on 03332 400 222, email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com or take a look at our full broadcast range.