blackmagic

NAB Day One: Will it ship and other pressing questions.

Continuing on Sony’s strategy of announcing products before NAB even starts, last night saw the announcement of the DJI Ronin, the Atomos Shogun, the AJA CION, and another Black Magic Camera that will ship sometime in 2016. I honestly have no idea why Black Magic announced another camera. Just like a lot of folks, I was totally blown away when Black Magic announced the Cinema Camera two years ago. It had crazy specs for it’s price and more importantly marked the start of companies that don’t make cameras buying off the shelf products and cobbling together their own camera. Everybody knows it never shipped in volume – they had cut the price before the preorder list was even filled. When they announced the Production camera and the Pocket Camera, it seemed like BMD was doubling down and really trying to get a foothold in the production market. The Production Camera still hasn’t shipped in volume and by the time both the Pocket Camera and the Cinema Camera, BMD had earned itself a reputation of announcing products it couldn’t deliver. So, I find it hard to believe anybody really expects to pick up one of these Studio cameras in the next six months.

As much as I love the disruptive nature of a company like Black Magic entering the camera market and offering the full potential of their sensors their including in their cameras at a lower price point, the reality is a company like BMD and their suppliers don’t have the infrastructure or corporate experience to ship these things in bulk. Both the Cinema Camera and the Production Camera have been plagued with manufacturing issues. Companies like Canon don’t have that problem because they’ve figured out their supply chain management. They sell millions of Rebels every year and that means when they announce a camera it’s going to ship because they’re not also figuring out to mass produce at the same time their designing it.

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This brings me to the AJA CION. Specs wise it looks great. Form factor looks right. I’m interested, but honestly I’m skeptical that’ll be able to ship in large numbers for exactly the same reasons Black Magic hasn’t been able to. It’s great more companies are getting into the camera game, Canon needs to be prodded into innovation, but I wish they’d include their manufacturing plan in addition the specs when they announce these cameras because it’s one thing to make 15 cameras custom order and something entirely different to ship thousands in bulk with high quality control.

These announcements can be exciting, especially to give consumers insight to what is technologically possible for a camera. But, they’re just words on a page. They’re not a shipped product and before you get super pumped about shooting everything with a camera that’s just been announced it’s probably wise to consider the cameras manufacturing history and ask yourself: will this ship?

Just as I’m finishing up this post Black Magic has announced the Black Magic Ursa, an obvious replacement to the Production Camera – a camera that still hasn’t shipped.

airplane to NAB

Fox Frame ships out to Las Vegas for NAB!

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The Fox Frame crew is headed to NAB! We’ll be joining our good friends Hardpin Media in Vegas and posting our thoughts throughout the week with more in depth videos coming soon after. We haven’t even gotten in the air and the announcements have already started with Sony announcing their 4k capable A7s.

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The A7 and A7r were the first mirrorless full frame cameras on the market, but their video features weren’t spectacular. With the addition of the new FE mount the A7 cameras were a neat concept, but not the camera many were hoping for. The A7s however looks pretty incredible. Forget the 4k for a second, the biggest selling point here is the all new 12 megapixel sensor which was designed from the ground up for video. Sony’s claiming that both low light performance and dynamic range are best in class and the way they’re getting there is by doing a full pixel read out from the 12 megapixel sensor instead of doing pixel binning like a Canon DSLR. So aliasing and moire shouldn’t be an issue, and the 4k mode should look like a moving JPG. Of course there’s a catch. There is no internal 4k codec, you have to use the newly announced Atomos Shogun to record the A7s uncompressed 4k output – so unlike the GH4 you’re going to have to carry around some kit to get your 4k. The GH4 and A7s both seem to answer the demands of DSLR shooters: adaptable lens mount, pro audio and video connections via an external box, but still keeping a slim form factor. You have to wonder what Canon’s thinking right now. Sure they’ve got a huge in built in market with their lenses, but if companies like Sony and Panasonic continue to push the specs with their more flexible lens mounts I can’t imagine brand loyalty is going to keep moving units.

For us, we love the GH3 and have been using it on shoots for it’s small size and very nice image. The A7s could be the full frame equivalent of the GH3 with the great addition of an external 4k codec. As for wether we’ll be purchasing the GH4 or the A7s it’s hard to say now, but the 4k internal codec on the GH4 is certainly a big plus for both the 4k ability and for it’s down rezing to 1080p.

But maybe the A7s is the spiritual successor to the 5D Mark II we’ve all been waiting for?

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An update on One Day in April

With race day just around the corner, I wanted to give everyone an update on the status of One Day in April. When I set out to make this film over a year ago, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. The idea for the film had started when I was crashing in Peter Stevenson’s basement in DC looking for new work. At night, Pete and I would hang out and reminisce about our time at IU and how great it was to live and photograph in Bloomington. But the best event of all, the one we remembered most, was the Little 500. After a while we got to asking ourselves: “Why isn’t there a killer documentary about the Little 500?”

I got a job serving as a cinematographer for President Obama’s second Inauguration, but then I returned home to Bloomington without a whole lot of direction. For the first time since I was a kid, I didn’t have anything hanging over me. No looming deadlines. No demanding clients. And I was bored out of my mind. So I called Pete up and together we decided that we were going to launch our film careers making a documentary that captured all the wonder and grit of the Little 500.

We were stills photographers, I had video experience, but neither of us were “experienced filmmakers” per se. We formed a core team of current and former IU students and just started shooting. Ryan, Kirsten, and I enjoyed working with each other so much that we decided to form this company.

We shot a lot, every day. In fact, to this day, no individual person has been able to watch the entirety of the footage. Before we knew it, it was Race Day and we were assembling a 22 person crew using the funds we had crowd funded to pay for 5 high speed cameras and a UPS truckload full of assorted gear.

About a month before Race Day, we had crowd funded $8,436 from an unbelievably supportive collection of friends, family, Little 500 community members, IU alums, and cycling enthusiast. Our film was made possible because of the kindness of these individuals and all of us carry that every single day we work on this film.

Which brings me to asnswering the question everyone is asking: When is the film coming out?

The short answer is early next year. The longer answer, the answer to why you haven’t received your DVD in the mail, is that I can’t release this film until I know with 100 percent certainty that I’ve done my best to tell the story of our subjects and fulfilled the promise we made to all of our donors. Not to get them a quick product, but to tell the story of the Little 500. It’s not about the parties, or the last lap, or even who wins. For a lot of Hoosiers, the Little 500 encapsulates what Indiana is all about. Community, teamwork, hard work, and a focus on the little day to day moments that bring us together. Somebody wins, but 32 teams don’t. I won’t say they lose, because all of them leave the track on race day with something that didn’t have before hand. Equally, the fans, journalists, IUSF folks, and everyone who makes the Little 500 what it is know what the spirit of the race is. It’s the feeling you get when you hear “Back Home Again in Indiana” before the start of the race, surrounded by the best friends you’ll ever make, waiting for the green flag to drop and kick off a moment that only happens once in a life time.

Our subjects, donors, and supporters have entrusted us to tell that story.

We’re lucky enough to watch the footage of last year and see the film progressing into a feature film. It’s not done yet. Finishing a feature film takes a very long time. Many documentaries take 2 to 3 years from the start of production to the first premiere. Music, sound design, color grading, and other parts of post-production require a great deal of finesse and detail. You cannot rush this part of the film and unfortunately that means a longer amount of time until the film comes out.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be in the dark. We’re active on Facebook, Twitter, and by email so if you have a question or want an update feel free to ask us.

We’ll be at this year’s race shooting some final scenes and then launching full bore into finishing the film. When it’s ready, we’ll let you know and I promise you that it will have been worth the wait.