Right after I posted the review of the ASUS MB168B+, it ran out of stock on Amazon.
But happily it’s now back in stock, for a limited quantity, and also slightly more expensive now, for some reason. Still completely worth it.
Today I reviewed an upcoming eyecup for the C100 on newsshooter.com – http://www.newsshooter.com/2014/02/24/kickstarter-campaign-launched-to-improve-the-c100-viewfinder-with-a-c-cup/
This eyecup is fantastic. This weekend I took my C100 on a bush plane ride into a remote lodge, filmed from the back of a snowmachine, among other fun shots, and I shot handheld using the C-Cup and viewfinder for most of the time.
Also the C100 autofocus upgrade is now officially available, so I’ll be sending in my camera soon. Canon also announced a new firmware update to allow for adding “markers” during continuous record. I wonder how long before it’s supported in Final Cut Pro X? http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/professional/standard_display/cinema-firmware-c100…
I finally upgraded to 10.1 yesterday, following the excellent tutorial at fcp.co, and in the process of upgrading I stumbled upon something really useful that I haven’t seen posted anywhere.
The big change in 10.1 is smarter media organization. Until now, for one project you’ve had to keep track of two folders, one in “Final Cut Events” and one in “Final Cut Projects.”
Using this system, the best workflow out there (and I’ll go through it in case others are still using the old version) has been to nest everything in your one Events folder and one Projects folder:
1) Create a New Event and a new Project folder (where you can create several projects inside the folder) using the same name -
2) In Finder, create a folder inside the Event folder, called something like “My Media” and drag all your movie clips in here. I’ve used the name “Raw Video Files” but it makes no difference, just something you know is the place for your original media.
3) In Final Cut, import your media as linked files (so, Final Cut will create small files that link to your full movie clips, rather than copying your media into its own Original Media folder).
4) Use the Event folder for EVERYTHING from now, including where you place your final renders, associated files and graphics, etc. This way, all of your project files will now be nested in one Event and one Projects folder, making it easy to back those up or move them around.
Okay, so fast forward to 10.1. Now, your projects and events reside within one single Library file – woohoo! But, you’re still supposed to keep all of your raw media and export files and everything else in a seperate folder – which is better than before, but now you still have to keep track of one main folder and your library file seperately. *Sigh*
And in case you’re wondering, you cannot keep your media files inside the library file. You can right click on the library file and “Show Package Contents,” but if you put anything in there (and it’s highly discouraged), in Final Cut you cannot import or export files within the library file, as in it won’t let you show the package contents.
SO here’s the tip (thanks for being patient with this post). You can actually move the library file, the .fcpbundle file, into your main folder. At this point when you open FCPX 10.1 your project will no longer load, but all you have to do is double click on your library file – wherever you placed it – and it will load in Final Cut, now and forever. FCPX will remember to look for the library file in the place where you loaded it from.
So there you have it, now you only need to keep track of ONE folder for everything pertaining to your video.
BONUS TIP: In Mavericks, scroll bars disappear and only reappear when you start scrolling. This can be annoying while you’re editing, because you constantly have to scroll left and right, so go into System Preferences, General, and under “Show Scroll Bars” click Always.
As you probably know by now, I am a huge fan of portability for video shooters and editors.
Last week I saw a tweet from @PhilipBloom about his new backpack kit, featuring his Mac Pro tower, and a new lightweight, thin monitor, the Asus MB168B+. OK, that sounds pretty awesome – a state-of-the-art desktop editing bay in a backpack.
But for us Macbook Pro users, this new monitor is the beginning of something entirely different. Dual Screen video editing, everywhere your laptop goes. Full 1920×1080 resolution on a 15.6″ screen, as light as an iPad, no power cords (power comes through the USB3 cable).
The Macbook Pro 15″ Retina and the ASUS MB168B+ fit in the back part of the Timbuk2 Commute medium backpack. This leaves the front part of the backpack for all your other essentials.
Until now, for dual monitor editing, I’ve had to setup my heavy 24″ monitor, AC adapter, HDMI cable, along with a big riser for the Macbook (to sit at the same height as the monitor), along with other accessories – and that setup turns my kitchen table into a mess. The other option was to setup Air Display and use an iPad for a second monitor, but it’s laggy, complicated to setup, and not quite large enough.
This setup, on the other hand, is so tiny that I can fit the entire “editing bay” into the laptop compartment of a backpack. Along with the Macbook and ASUS monitor, I’ve got a magic mouse, a Mini Jambox for audio, Sony MDR-7506 headphones when others are around, a WD My Passport Ultra 2TB drive, and that’s it!
You can also use the monitor for presentations. It continues to work even with the Macbook lid closed.
When editing in Final Cut Pro X, you can use the second monitor for two solid purposes. 1) Show all your events or favorited event clips on the ASUS display, with the project timeline and viewer on the Macbook.
Or for a second opinion on color correction, you can use the ASUS screen as your viewer display. The colors and contrast are different than the ultra sharp Retina screen, so it gives you another chance to see your project the way others might see it.
The ASUS MB168B+ (mind the plus sign, the MB168B is an older monitor with a smaller resolution) sells for $199. The drivers don’t fully support Macs yet, so you can’t use the monitor in vertical mode like you can on a PC, and the physical brightness buttons on the side of the monitor don’t do anything when connected to a Mac.
Until this is fixed, you can either live with the ASUS’s default brightness (which is like 75% or so), or you can install the drivers on a PC machine, set the brightness to 100%, and that brightness setting will then carry over to your Mac. I actually did this and I highly recommend it – time to dig out that old PC.
You might also want a longer and more quality USB 3 cable, and a different stand than the so-so carrying case ASUS provides.
One of the best things you can do for your videos is to transcribe your interview, which makes the story edit so much better. Basically, you transcribe the interview, and then copy and paste the best pieces of the interview and arrange them into a story in any text editor. After that, you start laying those interview pieces down in Final Cut, smoothen the transitions, and voila, the radio edit of your video.
I think the transcription method is superior to paraphrasing interview segments for a “paper edit” – which doesn’t allow as much precise storytelling as a full transcription.
For the transcription, I whole-heartedly recommend getting a vPedal. The vPedal is essential for use with closed captioning software, like InqScribe and MovieCaptioner, and costs about $75. But more than that, with the Mac vPedal app, you can control Final Cut Pro X with the pedal, while writing in TextEdit or any word processing program. The setup is super easy.
The goal is to Play/Pause a FCPX project that has your interview clip(s) in it, while typing the contents of the interview in TextEdit. Then you blade the clips in between questions asked (or other major pauses), and rename the clips with the full contents of the paragraph of text. Cutting the interview into paragraphs of thoughts makes finding the precise sentence or word easier.
But what if you don’t have a vPedal? I’ve been trying to figure that out for a while now, so I can transcribe interviews at home or on-the-go when I don’t have the pedal around. And here’s what I’ve come up with. The CAPS Lock key is the best option for playing and pausing, at least for me, but you could certainly pick other keys.
Step 1: Download PCKeyboardHack – after installing, open the program, check “Change Caps Lock” on, and then under “Keycode” enter in 101, which is the F9 key. By default, my Mac OS didn’t have F9 attached to any hotkey, so it was the easiest “empty” hotkey to pick for me.
So at this point, the CAPS Lock key is now a shortcut for “F9,” which does nothing, yet.
Step 2: Open AppleScript Editor, and copy and paste this:
tell application “System Events”
activate application “Final Cut Pro”
activate application “TextEdit”
Then save this script, call it “FCPX Play Pause” or something.
Step 3: Download Quicksilver – after installing, go into “Triggers” and create a new trigger, have it run your Applescript you just created, and assign hotkey F9 to it.
That’s it! Now while you’re typing in Textedit, you can press the CAPS Lock key to Play/Pause your interview project in FCPX. This is my first Applescript ever, so it’s pretty rudimentary – so if you have a better way to play/pause FCPX while it’s running in the background, please let me know!
If you’re having an issue with it requiring you to press CAPS Lock twice in order to Play/Pause, there are a couple things that could help. 1) Don’t use a bluetooth keyboard, and 2) Try turning off CAPS Lock in the System Preferences keyboard options, like so:
If you use a different editing program or word processor, you could try substituting that application in the Applescript, assuming that the spacebar plays/pauses in your editor.
And finally, when you’re done transcribing, make sure to close Quicksilver and turn off the CAPS Lock option in PCKeyboardHack, so you can have your Caps lock button back.…
I love my V6 and 7506 headphones, but the long cord can get in the way, even the coiled version. For interviews, it doesn’t really matter, because mostly you’re just standing behind a camera and the cord dangles below.
But if you want to wear these headphones while shooting handheld, monopod, or just moving around in general, you’ll either need to tie the excess cable to itself, or stuff some of the long cable in your pocket. (Or attempt a DIY maneuver like soldering a removeable cable plug-in).
But today I learned a neat trick to shorten the coiled cable to a manageable size, while still allowing the coil to stretch, with no difficult hacks.
Watch this youtube video for directions. It doesn’t actually show how, but you can figure it out from listening to the directions.
And if the big coil now gets in the way of your forearm when it’s plugged into a laptop, you can just keep the cord out of the way like so:
A couple weeks ago the INDIE ALASKA video team set out to produce a series of 90-second artist profiles. These were going to be used as part of the Alaska Public Media Art Auction, but we wanted to produce them as stand-alone docs that the station could air anytime, and that the artists could use for their own promotional efforts.
This was a good experience overall for me and the other producers, in learning to shoot and interview an entire minidoc in less than 2 hours, and edit down to 90 seconds.
Here’s the playlist of all the 90-sec videos.
It’s been a month since my last post – sorry, but I swear it was for good reason. I’ve been busy putting together and testing possibly the greatest gift to documentary filmmakers everywhere … okay maybe that’s an overstatement, but at least to me, it’s a thrill.
Over a year ago, One Square Mile filmmaker Carl Crum came up to Alaska to teach a week-long filmmaking class, and for a few days between the lectures, Carl, Travis, and I flew down to Ketchikan to shoot about 12 minidocs in 2 and a half days. It was crazy, but actually what scared me the most was all the gear.
It was basically a lightweight one-man-band kit, but we had to check 3 big Pelican suitcases, each protecting Portabrace bags inside: one bag for lenses, one for lights, and one for Carl’s C300 and accessories, in addition to a heavy-duty tripod. Carl could manage all these bags himself, but I’m not a big guy, and I remember thinking, could I really travel with all this gear someday, on my own?
Since that trip, our Indie Alaska video team has been lucky in that we’ve always had more than one shooter come along on air travel, and for local videos we’ve always had a solid place to unload all our gear, and leave it all unattended in one place, to go to back and forth whenever we needed to swap gear.
But if we wanted to make a video that required a hike, ski-in, or constant movement between locations, we’d be in a tough spot. That worried me, and then what if I had to do something alone?
Well, this Thanksgiving I was supposed to fly down to LA to visit my mom, and I agreed to shoot a promotional video about her dental practice. And then for Christmas, I was to fly to both Portland to visit my family, while also stopping in Minneapolis to visit my wife’s family, where I was to shoot a documentary video for my brother-in-law about him and his fiancee – a couple’s love story that would be presented at their wedding later this year. These were trips that required us to carry other bags too, not just film gear. Total panic mode achieved.
So, this is what prompted my sudden nosedive into building a single backpack kit, or whether it was possible at all. I own my own DSLR gear separate from our work gear, so that I can do family/friend videos without borrowing work stuff, but this last month I decided to up the ante and make this dream backpack filmmaking kit a reality (thank you, credit cards). Turns out, much of this stuff has only recently (in the last year) hit the stores, so I probably couldn’t do this earlier even if I wanted to.
Without further ado, here goes. Camera, lenses, tripod, fluid head, lights, audio, slider, and accessories, all in one bag.
(Above) This is the setup that was my main carry-on. The Cinevate Duzi slider breaks down very easily, but the legs don’t fit into the bag (and I didn’t want to risk TSA questioning these “club-like objects”), so I put them in my main clothes bag (also a carry-on size).
I chose the Tom Bihn Brain Bag because I didn’t want to be limited by camera bags and their padded organization, and because Tom Bihn bags are friggin awesome, really durable, and have the most volume of space without the weight. I also wanted a simple backpack that wasn’t super intense like most large photography hiking bags.
(Above) This is everything in the bag, all packed in manageable small cases, to make it easier to repack if I got inspected at the airport, and also so that if in the unlucky chance that I would have had to gate check this 35lb bag, I could be somewhat confident that the contents would be safely tossed around.
And everything unpacked. From top left, there’s the Manfrotto 500AH fluid head and Acratech leveling base (absolutely love this combo). The Tom Bihn Camera I-O insert below is basically made for the Brain Bag, and it holds my lenses (Tokina 11-16mm, Canon 24-105mm IS F/4, Canon 70-200mm IS F/4) and Canon C100 body. The Camera I-O has a strap on it, so for absolute run-and-gun I can just carry lenses and the camera with me, leaving the rest behind.
In the utility bag in the top middle are the Cinevate Duzi slider parts, some hex keys, AA batteries, the C100 handle and grip below, the shotgun microphone attachment (I remove this from the handle for travel, so it doesn’t break), the C100 charger and extra battery to the right, and a Sennheiser G3 lav kit above, with a Sennheiser MKE-2 lav mic. At the very bottom are the XLR cables and Audio-Technica AT875r shotgun with Rycote softie.
(Above) Here is everything without the bag and cases. Crazy how simple it is, right? Attached to the XLR cable is a Sennheiser MZA900P phantom power adapter. Basically I mic the subject at the beginning of the shoot, taking in wireless LAV audio in addition to Shotgun audio to the C100′s dual channels, and when it’s time to interview I swap out the G3 wireless transmitter on the subject to this adapter, so I can have wired audio without ever having to change out the LAV microphone on the subject. I can’t believe I’ve never heard about this before, it’s genius.
This is the packed kit ready for traveling on foot (or ski?), everything ready and unpacked inside and accessible for shooting. This is a different setup than the air travel setup, in that the tripod, slider, and light/stand are on the outside of the bag, using Tom Bihn Quivers attached to the sides. Have I mentioned how awesome Tom Bihn stuff is?
The issue with the C100 is it has a big, unwieldy shape with the handle and grip. The Tom Bihn Brain Bag is divided into a front and back area, and in this setup, the C100 sits above the lenses (in the I-O insert), but the only way to fit the C100 is to unscrew the handle and lay it over the camera. It only takes 5 seconds to screw back in, but it’s probably not good to continually take the handle on and off. A DSLR would fit a lot easier.
In this setup, I put some accessories and the G3/LAV kit above the IO insert, and the C100 fully rigged fits into the front area of the bag. It doesn’t go in like butter, but it fits. I think the G3/LAV case (a Sennheiser) is nice for protection, but the shape doesn’t squeeze in as well as a soft case would.
And finally, this is the setup I mostly use when I’m just running around town, not really needing to strap everything to my back. The slider and light/stand are in the Tom Bihn quivers with straps attached, the tripod is out, and there’s plenty of room in the bag for easy access to all the essentials.
I forgot to include headphones in these pics! I usually carry a pair of Sony MDR-7506 cans, as well as a pair of Klipsch S4 earbuds. I also usually bring a Canon 60D body for backup.
Is this kit everything you’d ever need for any shoot? Absolutely not. Even for run-and-gun Indie Alaska shoots I still use all our work DSLR gear, including a heavier tripod, longer slider, several LED 1×1 lights, and Portabrace bags that are more protective and not so snug.
But this kit has opened up so many options for the types of shoots I can do. The Gitzo carbon tripod, Duzi slider, and Ice Light on their own have made a huge difference. For example, I now shoot so much more on tripod and slider than ever before (instead of shoulder rig), which changes the production quality significantly. The Ice Light is simply amazing. And the C100 of course is incredible (and affordable thanks to a 0% interest 24 month lease).
And for once, I’m no longer panicking about traveling to make a solo video. Which probably means more videos for family and friends during holiday trips. Uh oh.…
There are lots of filmmaking tips and lectures out there, but typically they are for narrative or fiction films, which can be difficult to apply with documentary filmmaking. But here’s a good lecture about editing, that I think has good lessons for documentary editing.
The main principle is that each scene needs to have someone or something change, and that change is what makes viewers “lean in” and pay more attention. In documentary, after you’ve already collected all your footage and you are building a story around that, one way to create change is to edit from wide shot to close ups, from b-roll movement to still reflection.
During editing, whenever I’ve run into an important moment in an interview, I like to visually emphasize that important moment by avoiding distracting b-roll that visually says something else. So, apart from showing just the interview, I go to a close up of the subject in a b-roll shot (of them ‘reflecting’ and not talking), or a close-up of an object or hands, or a steady shot of a scene that emphasizes the reflection or thought. This is why you shoot rack focus close-ups of leaves, trees, buildings, out-of-focus subject walking away – for these moments.
Music is important too, obviously. But when you’re collecting b-roll, the important thing is to shoot as wide variety of focal lengths and shots as possible, so you can cleverly illustrate the change that comes through in the interview. …