Tuesday, July 15, 2014

To UHD or not to UHD? That is the question...

One of the most frustrating experiences of today in UHD and xK video, whereby x equals 2.5, 4, 5, 6 and 8 (as far as I know) is that there is no content available yet. Not even as a joke. Even if you find some obscure UHD content online, it's not a given that it will play on your brand new UHD TV, if you happen to have bought one. Too early for this. The best proof of this argument is the footage they demo in TV shops to show-off their goodies. All purpose made to play in mysterious ways on the TV set in question. It's the same problem we had with HDTV sets years ago. Even to this day, most, if not all, of the commercial TV programming is broadcasted in 720p. Anything beyond that is likely the result of a lame upscaling... Only Bluray disks and computer video files provisioned via externally attached hard disks or SSDs (via USB) can be used to show-off the entire FHD resolutions!

There's been a myriad articles about why eventually we are all going to the next wave of TV experience, the so-called UHD (Ultra High Definition) being everything above the infamous FHD (aka 1080p). Here's one of the best I read. Just to feel what this is about, consider this. The so called 4K (not the 4K Cinematic... this is even larger) is 3840 pixels across by 2160 pixels vertical. This is exactly four times larger than your regular 1080p FHD TV you are so proud of... It's like you'd stacked four FHD TV monitors in a matrix of 2 by 2! However, the physical size of the UHD monitor itself isn't very much different than what we are used to now with our normal TVs... 40 inches diagonal and up sort of thing. In other words, your regular FHD TV has about 2 million pixels spread over the entire surface of a, say, 42 inch monitor (92.5 cm horizontal by 52.5 cm vertical, that is). However, the equivalent 4K UHD TV of the same diagonal 42 inches will squeeze four times as many pixels over the same surface! It's like you split one of your old pixels to make four new ones!

You may still wonder what all this means in practice. Let me give you an example that I worked out recently. I bought me two pieces of equipment first. A brand new Lumix GH4 camera that can record internally and also output 4K signals at its micro HDMI interface (4.2.2 compressed at 10 bit color subsampling per RGB channel), and a Philips 42PUS7809/12 UHD TV of 42 inches diagonal size. My previous set was a Samsung FHD, which was OK but it's native resolution was simply the good ol' 2 megapixels of the FHD resolution. No way possible to demo the GH4 4K goodies on it. To show anything at a native FHD monitor you first have to down convert the HDMI signal into 1080p, which actually defeats the purpose, right?

Long story short, after some online chatting with a Philips Helpline kid I managed to display a full fledged 4K GH4 Live signal (!!!) via one of the Philips HDMI inputs. The GH4 was looking at my 27" iMac and it's extended second Apple display, at their native resolution of 2560x1440 pixels each. I am saying this because the iMac too isn't able to drive the Philips monitor at 4K either. All it can do is mirror itself and just display 2560 horizontal pixels by 1440 vertical max. In itself this is also UHD, but not the native 4K Philips boasted and I needed to experience. As long as I didn't have a source of genuine 4K to feed the Philips HDMI ports I couldn't possibly see and feel what it was like to own a UHD TV and enjoy genuine UHD content on it. Of course, my iMac was a way to experience resolutions above FHD on the new TV for the first time, even if it was less than the full Monty... I had managed to create a few clips in 4K that I shot with the GH4 and edited in FCP. When I opened them with Quicktime 1:1 on the iMac they extended beyond the visible limits of the monitor. Wow! So, playing them in full screen via mirroring on the Philips TV screen, as I explained earlier, couldn't get to more than the 2560x1440 the Mac could manage. It was 2.5K, not 4K! Apparently only the latest Retina Macbooks, and of course the Mac Pro can manage monitors up to 4K, several of them presumably for the Mac Pro and its stunning 7 something Teraflops! So, unless I upgrade my Mac Hardware there ain't gonna be a way to drive the Philips from my Mac into its native 4K. Tough shit, pardon my French. Maybe a good excuse to own eventually the black marvel...

Anyways, the moment the GH4 was capable of displaying its live view on the Philips monitor I almost fainted. It was the moment I realised what a resolution of 3840 pixels across with 2160 pixels vertical really MEANS!!! This is far too much for aged dudes like myself. This 4K resolution is far too big to be true. Unless you see it with your bare eyes and goggles you won't be able to tell. Words are not enough.

Nevertheless, to taste a thin slice of my experience, take a good look at the shots hereunder (click for larger view).



This first shot above shows the Philips monitor in all its glory, and all 42 inches of it. In front, the Lumix GH4 shooting the other side of the room, connected to the Philips HDMI 3 input (you can see the black cable). In other words, the Philips monitor shows what the GH4 sees. That's mainly two Apple monitors, one is the iMac itself and the second another external Apple display, 27" as well. On the latter, I have opened a PDF document from Philips itself, showing in a table the codecs, frame rates, AV containers, and resolutions supported in all their TVs. Needless to say, nothing above 1080p. Makes you wonder... why sell UHD TVs if you don't even support playback of video files at that resolution... let alone that the Bluray consortium is still struggling with Standards to reach agreement on the support of UHD resolutions on optical disks... no remedy short term from there either. Anyways...

Next point... I referred to the PDF on display on the second monitor for a reason... right? That's because the following shot hereunder shows the actual goodies UHD TVs have to offer. I thus took an extreme closeup shot of the Philips monitor of a few rows of the aforementioned PDF table to show-off the level of detail that is possible thru native UHD. The size of the type in terms of Philips monitor pixels is between 6 and 7 tall (count them if you don't believe me). If you wondered what the 6-30 numbers mean, it's simply the frame rates... irrelevant for the purpose of this discussion. Take a look on the table now... (click for larger view).


Does this make any sense to you? I won't go any further. A picture is worth a thousand words... Literally.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

#BRAGER : Another Epoch another Blitz!

It was the night of statistics. For winners and losers. Never before a team was defeated with this score on a World Cup semi final. The Shame of Shames. New world record for Klose with 16 World Cup goals, stolen from Brazilian born Ronaldo. Brazil was never defeated by a foreign team in their own backyard. And it went on and on like this. For hours... The morning papers continued the stats teasers, adding more oil to the fire of South American humiliation...

Every new goal the Germans scored yesterday, the TV reporter dusted off more and more of those old stats. What we had hard time grasping was that this was a simple case of 'history in the making'! We were clueless. Jaws dropped to the floor. Shocked! Flabbergasted! At a given moment, when the goals followed each other literally seconds apart, I thought some scenes were actually 'replays' of the 'previous' goals. I hadn't yet realised those were brand new smashes into Julio's nets. Unglaublich! Brazil fans wished they could ALT-CTRL-DEL and start over again. I'd lost count. 

Imagine you were on the Brazilian side yesterday, when all this was going on. Weeping faces and bitter tears of men, women, and children. A shattered dream. All their chauvinist fire and energy, conspicuous during the singing of their anthem moments earlier, quickly disappeared into oblivion. Few chewed their national colours for snack (see above). In comedian George Lopez's hilarious words... these are not tears of sorrow... these are tears of frustration! Dutch ex-football international Jan Mulder, sitting on a live TV panel and watching the game, empathised: "I feel so sorry for these people... you know, when things like that happen in one of our Euro countries, people say, well, that happens... forgive and forget... let's go to the beach!"

This was one of those events, that years from now we shall be asking each other... "where were you the night Germany shredded the Seleção into nothingness?". It was like 9-11 sort of thing. (BTW, I was in my office in Paris then, and I remember I looked stunned at Paul, my Finance Assistant, when he told me that one of the twin towers had just collapsed!)

After the match, I stayed up for a few more hours, deep into the early morning, enjoying Twitter postings on #BRAGER hashtag. It was laughs and tears all over, together with innuendos of bitchiness and irony. Some very creative postings indeed. One that I thought was very funny was an animated GIF with a cocktail glass filled with yellow-orange based alcohol mix, a slice of orange and lime, and a tiny proud Brazilian flag on a tooth-stick, like those we usually find piercing cocktail party snacks. Strong samba music in the background... Suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge German beer-glass hits the cocktail from above, and hardly any trace of shattered glass or juice left over... samba sounds were muted in microseconds. Cemetery silence! Only leftover beer foam continued to slowly slide down the outer walls of the lager glass, like a bitter Brazilian tear.


Before the smash...

...and after!

Someone else posted: Brazilians have Neymar, the Portugese, Ronaldo, Argentinians got Messi, but... Germans have a team! Where individuals are sacrificed in the interest of the whole group. 'German football prima donna' is an oxymoron! How true! In an interview right after the game, when a reporter asked Klose how he felt about his brand new 16 WC goals record, he responded (!!!) that the team was playing well and that it is their team and the coach that had to be credited for today's achievement, and more of this dry ya-di-da-di-da-da... Humility? Sense of duty? Discipline? Dry humor? What can I say? Emotionless MFs, outstanding sportsmen though, raised and taught to 'serve' with humility. Without any shadow of 'emotional weakness'. The definition of freezing 'cool'! Even the handful naturalised foreigners in their team, Boateng, Oezil, Khedira look over-Germanised! What can you say? Any Latino player achieving Klose's feat and record... OMG, the world wouldn't be big enough to accommodate the ego. Expecting scores of virgin chicas to parade right in front of him and choose to his heart's desire... 

Not Klose though... He even blushed and felt humble at the question, looked everywhere around except the reporter in the eyes, and came up with an answer that anybody, military camp-drilled and brainwashed to the bone, would have come up with. Androids, non-human, responding with scripted answers. Get a life, man! There's more to it than fuessbal! Die Mannschaft... ok, they are plain good... too good to be true yesterday, maybe... yep... but Mein Gott, they are so boring! Like a German colleague once said "German humor is not a laughing matter". How could it?

On the other hand, what happened yesterday also proved my 'theory' about 'emotion' vs. 'discipline' and 'method'. Like Sax K., an ex-colleague, recently wrote me: It's about time someone teaches South Americans a lesson in football.  It's about time they stopped the screaming and yelling, and it's time to put their 'brains' back to 'work'. By means of emotions and deafening noises no issues were ever reasonably resolved... This, by the way, is not only true for football matches, but in many situations of everyday life too. Especially during unjustified union actions undermining national economies, when massive crowds flock the streets to help 'solve' problems they have created themselves in the first place, due to their lack of discipline, respect for each other, and much more vice like this. All this in the name of democracy, goes without saying... 

I won't mention names...


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Louis van G(enius)aal!

Kuyt hugs legendary Krul after his second and game
winning save. Van Persie flies towards them too.
The Flying Dutchmen. Literally!
I have rarely enjoyed football as I did last night, when the Dutch team faced Costa Rica. The game was terrible in fact, 2/3s ball possession by the Dutch, but no goals. Many shots in the goal but (often lucky) Keylor Navas, the perfect goalkeeper, notorious for his training with tennis balls shot at him by a pro tennis player and never missing one, was able to defend his goalposts until the last minute, after a long game with extensions reaching the best part of 130 minutes (incl. the extra time at the end of each period).

Like I said, the game was terrible. The Costa Ricans blocked the Dutch most of the time with almost their entire team defending and closing all possible holes towards their goalposts. Despite great and heroic Dutch efforts and frequent near-miss goal-shots, Navas and his co-defenders managed to keep the game to a draw until the end. I watched it on the Dutch TV with an outstanding commentator, talking quite objectively with humility, I'd say. He excused himself midway second half suggesting that it seemed like, after the game between Greece and Cost Rica came to a draw that the latter eventually won on penalties, it was obvious Costa Ricans yesterday didn't quite play 'to win' but rather 'not to lose' during regular time, to eventually win the penalty shootout with Superhero Navas. Displaying a sample of 'effective' South American football tactics. No football entertainment whatsoever, but a rather calculated game to win at all costs with all known dirty tricks of the trade. Too much money at stake...

But this Dutch squad was not your regular cup-of-tea. They are trained and led by Louis Van Gaal, you see... a Dutch legendary coach who wrote football history in the past as manager of Ajax, Barcelona, AZ and FC Bayern München. Someone on the Belgian TV reporter panel mentioned that Van Gaal may be one of the best coaches in the history of football. A comment coming from a Belgian about a Dutch weighs twice, if you know what I mean... Following his World Cup in Brazil performance, he is about to continue his long brilliant career (he'll become 63 in August this year, so there's easily another ten years until retirement), when he starts as the new manager of legendary ManU in the UK. A dream coach with a legendary career. The man about whom a Catalan ex-colleague of mine responded, when I sent him a teaser message after Spain's 5-1 defeat by the Dutch in the beginning of the tournament: We're ready to have (back) van Gaal to (lead) Barcelona any day!

Nevertheless, the Dutch wouldn't be Dutch if they didn't criticise van Gaal and his decisions all the time, and go in lengths accusing him of all sorts of tactics and strategy misjudgements. He is aware of that of course and stays cool at all moments, especially when ambitious journalists dare ask him irritating questions that drive him up the walls. In a recent press conference such a spineless reporter implicitly pointed at him for tactically setting up a defensive game against Chile. Question was asked in English. Visibly irritated by the question, Van Gaal responded in Dutch by saying. "You, who asked the question, can you please give me the definition of 'offensive football'? Yes, you, the reporter who asked the 'smart question' (slimme vraag in Dutch)". Then of course he continued with his professional, strategic and managerial answer to explain his decision that literally shrunk the 'ambitious' reporter into obsoleteness. I happened to have watched that particular Van Gaal clip on TV several times, and got convinced he is definitely the coach who will win this tournament, hands down. The man is simply too good to be true... A manager and a Leader!

Unfortunately, many, out of jealousy and envy, I suppose, will not easily accept any such claim. What the hell do I know about football, you may ask... Maybe not as much as most of you, but I know shedloads about 'management' and 'leadership', and I can tell a strategic mind when I see one or hear one talk! Anyways... The unconvinced will continue to blame van Gaal anyways. Only yesterday alone 'De Telegraaf', a nationwide Dutch paper, displayed in its front page a full body shot van Gaal portrait photoshoped into a pirate of the Caribbean, carrying a long pirate sword with a dozen bananas pierced through. I fail to see the implied metaphor, but it simply shows the spirit of some Dutch idiots about their National Squad's coach. It's a fact of life indeed that Dutch self-awareness and self-conviction makes them often behave and think not like "I know better than all the rest', but rather 'why anyone else should know more than me?" There is this slight nuance in their subtle intellectual arrogance, you see. Often quite irritating but charming nevertheless.

So the Dutch and many others doubted van Gaal for a long time. Until yesterday, I hope. It was yesterday that his genius showed up like a blinding light in the darkness of cruel South American football tactics that we may have witnessed in recent tournament weeks. Leading up to last Friday's unfortunate incident of a Colombian 'player' (a savage for sure) 'tackling' the 22 year old Brazilian world-class scorer Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior... It was a calculated public execution as evidenced by the slow-mo replay of the incident.

Like I said, I have been watching yesterday's game on the Dutch NOS-1 TV channel. I am sick and tired of tactless Flemish commentators filling their discourse with useless tabloid faits divers about the players's personal lives, and often being that close to be called racist for their comments. Like in the recent game between Greece and Costa Rica, when the slime reporter accused Karagounis and most other Greek players for "missing a career in Greek Drama theater" each time they were knocked to the ground by 'friendly' South American fire. Of course, Belgians never won any World or Euro cup and will never do, seems like. Greece winning the Euro cup in Portugal in 2004 irritates sensitive Belgian reporter throats, each time they try to swallow the memories.

It's on decisive moments like this one in the history of football, when real geniuses shine. It was van Gaal's moment yesterday. When everybody on the Dutch supporter community was death sad about what was to come, van Gaal kept one last crucial player replacement that he was left with in his box of hattricks. That white rabbit was Tim Krul, and he was not a shooter! Van Gaal's last replacement was a new... goalkeeper. Who would have imagined? Who would have approved? But, Van Gaal is not your usual little town team coach. He is The Legendary van Gaal! We had to give him the benefit of the doubt for sure. Tim Krul, tall, fresh, self confident, whom we only yesterday saw perform in this tournament. A man who would write Dutch football history. It was not just us, casual supporters, that were stunned though! Most important, the Costa Ricans 'lost it'. In Dick Cheney's infamous words, 'Awe and Shock allover'! Obviously, they didn't know much about the new kid, they visibly lost control and most importantly their confidence; it was plain psychological warfare that good ol' Louis resorted to. Both, friends and critics were simply flabbergasted. The NOS reporter spoke of the same emotional effect on the South Americans (to me anything south of Mexico is South America, sorry...) . It was obvious in their faces as they approached the point to shoot their turn of penalty. Krul approached them too, friendly we thought initially, as they were busy fixing the penalty ball on the grass-mat, looking them straight in the eye, drilling them into their brains to read their minds, intimidating them (I wish I knew what van Gaal taught him to tell them), and returning with his 6' 4" length between his goalposts, looking bigger than life!

The Dutch penalty shooters, the squad's top players Van Persie, Robben, Kuyt, and Sneijder (who else?), shot their own turn right into the nets, almost piercing them, scoring a safe goal each. Navas remained simply helpless. A good kid, and an outstanding goalkeeper, but too tired to undertake this one last feat executed by that particular Dutch machine-gun round. Navas's team had already used all their replacements and, even if they had one more to do, like the Dutch, they had no other keepers to use it on. How many shots can you still catch, even if you are Navas himself, eh? Or even legendary one-eyed Gordon Banks? Navas's PR stunt with tennis balls shot against him suddenly evaporated in the light of reality, and remained a 'faits divers' for time-killers to watch on YouTube.

Needless to say, Krul ejected himself into the direction of the shot each and every turn of the Costa Ricans, and saved two out of four penalties (50%!!!). One among them was the shot by celebrity goal maker Ruiz! Only the best will eventually win...

Upcoming feat for the Dutch: Next Wednesday July the 9th, the facing of mighty Messi and his legendary Argentina squad in the second semi finals. This time though, our good Northern neighbours will have to deliver a 'payback' to the Messi clan for their pathetic win over Belgium that their lame attitude and an early lucky goal led them to. I strongly believe van Gaal is going for the cup. He said so publicly too. He'll leave Brazil with the cup in his hands. Will the South American emotional and cruel football style be able to stop him? I don't think so. It is clearly football tactics and brains against heartbeats and emotions. In cases like these mostly brains emerge as winners. Emotions end up in tears and deafening noise. You may not like it, but that's the way it is.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Shooting Full HD with an iPhone


I've been reading about efforts by professional indy cinematographers to shoot entire feature films or documentaries with an iOS device. It sounded absurd to say the least. Then, the shock came when Zacuto of USA recently sponsored an all shoot-out among the greatest camera names in professional digital cinematography with the iPhone as one of the contenders. Out of sheer curiosity I watched the entire project on YT to see pros at work and experience the difference between capturing gear of a 'toy' costing less than a thousand bucks with all those industry monsters, costing several tens of thousands dollars. Of course, to avoid shake and be able to shoot like the pros, they dressed the iPhone in all sorts of camera rigs, with matte boxes and filters and French flags. If they could mount a follow focus they'd do it too, but the iPhone is supposed to be an iPhone last I heard, so, let's be serious. The iPhone eventually managed the feat with its built-in autofocus, as expected. Anyways, the final result was more than descent, yet far below the big dogs, like Red Epic, Arri Alexa, Sony F65, and Black Magic Cinema. Footage was shot all in Full HD, ie. 1080p at the presumably cinematic 24 fps.

This morning I read another article about cinematographers getting again serious about iOS feature film productions, and I said to myself, what the heck, let's try to see what comes out of an iOS footage. I never really shot anything longer than ten seconds before, and was quick to delete it right away, after a few moments... This time however, I wanted to  live the experience on my own big-ass TV in full color FHD. So, I'd have to postprocess the footage like it was coming out of any of my other prosumer gear. I'm not a pro by far, but I can stitch together simple shots with final rendered clips that look fairly OK, technically speaking. Needless to say, I dispose of quasi pro gear, like a 5D M-III, the latest 4K GH4 and a Legria G30, even a kit of cheap Samyang cinematographic lenses, and a shedload of supporting accessories, a steady camera-like thing (Merlin), couple of motorised sliders, a Manfrotto video tripod with fluid head, a motorised pan/tilt head, and full versions of FCP, Motion and Compressor. I just wanted to see for myself how far I could go compared to my other 'prosumer' footage and clips. Especially the couple I did the last few days in 4K, the moment the Lumix GH4 marvel arrived.

I thus put my old iPhone 5 (not an S, neither a C) in my shirt pocket and came out in my backyard for a shoot. I actually shot about two dozen takes without steadycam support. Just in handheld. I tried to simulate a few dolly movements and did some pans and tilts, all handheld, trust me. Forgot to mention, I used Filmic Pro and not Apple's own camera app. Filmic is quite good as you can chose separate points for measuring light and defining focus reference points. You can also lock those, and you can separately select output resolution and frame rates. Almost like the big lads. I eventually transferred all those clips to my quad 27" iMac via the Photo transfer app, a very neat way to transfer photographic source files between iOS filmrolls and Macs.

Reading those same source files in FCP, I transcoded  them in Prores Proxy (I always do that, unless I capture in ProRes 422 with my Ninja Blade) and stitched the shots together by adding here and there dissolve transitions, trimmed a great deal, you know... the usual. I tried stabilisation on all of the shots, but some were hopelessly shaky and the FCP algorithms made a mess eventually, so I either dropped those out of the Timeline or softened further the stabilisation parameters. I eventually added a nice track from 'The Grandmaster' soundtrack (Wai Kar Wong - 2013), namely Moyou by Shigeru Umebayashi. And... Bob's your uncle. Oh, yes, before compressing to a final delivery format, I combined everything into a compound clip and I graded the latter with FilmConvert, a plugin that runs under the 'Effects' tab of FCP. Normally, to judge objectively the true quality of iPhone footage one shouldn't do too many tricks in post. But I am not a formal iPhone reviewer. IAnd never intended to be. I just wanted to see what comes out of it, if I did my regular stuff like in any other workflow I normally follow in post.

My personal conclusion is that indeed, one could actually put an iOS device in the hands of professional cinematographers/film makers to produce something worthwhile. Using purpose made add-on lenses, they could could even achieve a touch of cinematic bokeh. And with the proper grading in post one can achieve the sphere that serves script and story. With a good story and plot, lighting, art direction, camera movements and editing techniques, one could actually create a technically acceptable feature indy film that can proudly stand next to a Hollywood establishment with their millions worth big production budgets. Maybe some cheap iOS gear will offer the opportunity to realise a filmic form of Arte Povera... Like Polaroid once did. Arte Povera is still good Arte! Why not?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Video shooting adventures...


I've been shooting a lot of video, from when my kids were still young, some 20+ years ago. Video has come a long way in the meantime, and, in the last 10 years with the advent of the so-called VDSLR based videography, ie. using traditional DSLRs to shoot video (because of their large sensors and pixel size they are performing quite well in low light conditions and are capable of cinematic bokehs), low budget videographers and indy shooters have flooded YT and Vimeo with quite a few interesting projects. Another milestone in the democratization of the medium. The World is flat sort of thing.

One of the nice 'little' things that occurred in digital motion pictures is pixel resolution. I picked up this graph on Wikipedia, and even so, I can't quite grasp the size of it. What is referred to as SD (standard definition) is the sort of resolution used for broadcasting by TV networks for many-many years, and made us, amateur videographers of the late last century, drool of desire for a better amateur technology. Indeed, our quite expensive analog gear back then could hardly produce 400 lines of horizontal resolution at best. Not to mention stability of edit footage after a few cycles in analog mixing tables without genloc and timecode available (far too expensive for an amateur's pockets).

In the last ten years, however, the world has been converted with lightning speed into FHD (1080p) or 1080 lines of 'progressive' (one frame at the time) resolution, and in recent years key industry players and Standards bodies have defined additional resolution targets all the way up to 8K UHD (Ultra High Definition). Actually, anything above FHD is nowadays termed UHD! To get the point, 8K is like stacking 16 Full HDTV monitors upon each other, four in the x axis and another four in the y. In other words, if you regularly indulge yourself by watching Bluray movies in FHD, imagine the monster I just described... what it would turn your living room wall into! Already 4K is an unbelievable improvement. It's your current FHD doubled in both x and y directions. Four times the resolution you enjoy today, that is. Strictly speaking, hardcore 4K is even more than that in the x axis pixel-count (4096 indeed), but for all practical purposes let's assume the 3840x2160 frame size (that's otherwise 4x the current FHD, 2x1920 and 2x1080) under the broadly known 4K label.


I recently saw the picture of a camera shooting 8K, but I doubt there's much activity in that front yet, other than experimental. On the other hand, I read that quite a few mainstream movies being shot these days are already captured in 5K/6K and 12/14 bits of colour resolution. This sounds, spec-wise, like a videographer's wet dream... Why do them pro's do that, then? The film industry still delivers feature films and TV series in current consumer formats (FHD, Bluray and DVD), meaning they encode/downscale their UHD masters into current commercial resolutions, but, I guess, they are shooting UHD for future-proofing and the ability to remaster their work into UHD resolutions when the market is ready for it. In the next so many years... When storage petabytes become as common and inexpensive as bagels and donuts...Understandable...

I consider myself to be a frame resolution and sharpness junkie. Actually, I don't give a diddly squat about resolution per se, if you come to think of it, but I care enormously about image sharpness, richness of colours (gamut) and related bokeh. UHD resolutions are the unique available strategy in the pursue of this goal, regrettably. The prerequisite in preserving the tonal and color state of visible things into their captured image is of course the frame resolution, but not alone. Recording codecs are natural born quality killers too. You can't believe how many codecs already exist, and how many different media file containers are out there used in the video universe. Gives you practically a headache. Makes you wonder why! And they all claim to be the best invention ever since sliced bread. For amateur videographers like myself the world of codecs used for capturing, post-processing and eventually delivering the outcome to viewers is a sheer nightmare. The moment you get the impression that you 'got it', there comes a use-case experience that entirely confuses you, frustrates you and makes you start all over again.

The last few months I decided to further develop my skills as close as possible to today's State of the Art in prosumer videography. Bought some new gear to work with, rigs, accessories, even a Canon Legria FHD G30 camcorder (I wish I knew some more before making that decision... it's definitely ok, but not what I dreamed of), filters, video-mics, tripods, sliders, a pan/tilt electrical head, remote triggers, and only came short of ordering cranes and drones! A year ago I also bought a Hero3 GoPro action camera with all its usual-suspect accessories, but this must have been my worst decision ever. Among many other. The GoPro's are for a different type of videography than mine. Like they say, too old for that shite! Anyways, I normally use VDSLRs, a Canon 5D Mark III and another 5D Mark II, and maybe my old 7D occasionally, but I still dream of the day that I'll get my hands on a 4K Panasonic Lumix GH4. Pity that they only make them mirror-less MFT (micro four thirds), necessitating some sort of adaptor to be able to use my couple of dozen piece Canon and Nikon lens inventory that I built the last 30 years. You can't have it all, can you? Unfortunately, the little marvel is still out of stock in all my online supplier inventories.

I also improved my grading and NLE skills in both FCP and Da Vinci Resolve, by following specialized Lynda.com training (about a dozen courses the last few months alone), and I came that close to order a Black Magic 4K Production camera, which idea I eventually gave up for a planned purchase of the Panasonic mentioned earlier. Tomorrow, I'm expecting a Samyang Cinema lens kit, insanely inexpensive but fairly good obviously, at least if you believe online reviews and YT demo's. The kit contains three lenses, 14, 35 and 85 mm in Canon EF mount.

I can't shoot 4K yet, but I've still done one 4K video project in time-lapse, by capturing high res Raw stills in my Mark III, then crop-processed them in Lightroom, and imported them in a FCP 4K project, from which I eventually rendered them in the 4K format output acceptable by YT. All I had to do was export the frames from Lightroom in the genuine 4090x2160 4K resolution and compose them into a clip in FCP and encode them via Compressor. Take a look here:


Like many out there I tend to agree that although 4K is a thing for when monitors will be able to handle it in the next 3-4 years, still cameras shooting 4K today produce visibly superior quality in FHD than many regular FHD camcorder out there, regardless their robustness, perceived quality and total configuration cost, pro codec used and frame rates captured. I speak from experience. I do shoot with the best Canon glass available on the 5D, capture the HDMI signal in Prores HQ on an Atomos Ninja Blade, and proces all this footage on an 27 inch top of the range iMac with FCP X. Nevertheless, although my 1080p outputs, color corrected, graded and all look reasonably good, 4K is simply miles ahead. I'll be the first to admit that my 1080p clips are indeed nowhere compared to some of the GH4 footage I saw on YT! Goes without saying, many other factors do play quality determinant roles as well, like the dynamic range captured (per a recent DXO-Pro testimony the 5D is rather poor on DR with only 12 stops and change), ISO used, shutter angle and above all the quality of light used in a scene. However, from what I've seen, 4K is still a blast! I mean, big time!

There are moments I feel that I could give my right arm for the ability to capture quality footage like some of the high-end cameras out there. RED, Arri Alexa, the Sony F5, Phantom and why not, the Black Magic 4K Production Camera. Of course most of them use glass in practical configurations of prime and zoom lenses at a cost equivalent of high-end luxury cars. Would you rather buy a 5- lens kit or an S-Class Mercedes Benz? You could only practically rent gear like this. As a B-day present, for instance. Like many rent a Ferrari for a day! I drool watching slow-mo footage shot by RED and Phantom cameras! Gosh, I've been in the wrong job all my life. Day-dreaming of one of these 4K marvels, I keep fooling myself in the meantime with tricks like the one I used in the 4K time-lapse above, and by doing simple slideshows. See an example hereunder :