Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In the Spin Cycle

Now that things are starting to pick up, there is more to report in recent days. Though professional projects have been slow to start, I've been busy with some personal projects. Like I mentioned before, I've been hard at work with some writing assignments.

Two short scripts are near completion and ready for contest submissions. If nothing else comes out of them, I may take a shot a producing them myself. They wouldn't be hard to shoot and would require a small crew and even smaller budget for completion. It might provide a good opportunity to test out some cinematography techniques and new camera equipment.

I have a new lens from Canon's L-Series (which Canon suggests stands for 'Luxury'). Although I haven't had any great opportunities to test it out (the weather hasn't exactly been cooperative), I did have a chance to snap a few photos on the go. Here's an example of one of those images:

Quality test, shot with Canon 35-105mm f/4.0L
I tend to prefer prime (fixed) lenses over zoom lenses, however this lens provided the right kind of versatility I was looking for, in the right price range. Although not as sharp as any prime lens, it still shoots good quality images (better than any consumer Canon lenses). It's lacking when it comes to low-light situations, but that's what you get when the f-stop falls a little short (only f/4, compared to the f/1-2 lenses Canon has available), but I was willing to make that sacrifice, considering most other lenses were out of my price range.

Anyway, enough tech crap. Getting back on track, I plan to have my short scripts finished by the end of the month. Two more short stories are in development and being prepared for writing. I plan on moving rather quickly, when it comes to writing. Hopefully, some publishing opportunities will pop up in the future.

Freelance work is picking up as well. I'll have more details on any upcoming projects. Film premieres for previous projects are happening at a rapid pace. I'll throw in some updates on any films floating around the screening circuits.

I'm still performing some tests with the GoPro Hero 3. If I get anything cool out of the tests, I'll make sure to post something.

Until the next round,

Friday, January 11, 2013

GoPro Hero 3 - Still Test

The first test I wanted to perform involved a photo comparison between GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition and my own DSLR camera. I wanted see what kind of coverage the GoPro was capable of. So far, I've been very impressed with the results.

The GoPro excels at being a wide-angle lens camera. While some distortion issues do come into play (more on that in a second), the camera can cover a massive amount of space, making it perfect for any kind of landscape shots.

The quality, while lacking in comparison to a DSLR, still exceeds or rivals many consumer cameras, maxing out at 12 megapixels.

Now, let's compare some test shots. Keep in mind that the GoPro Hero 3, being an HD device, recommends at least a class 10 microSD card, if you wish get the maximum quality. Any less and you can expect deterioration in the photo/video quality, since lesser class cards aren't capable of holding the amount of data required for consecutive HD materials.

With that in mind, I must admit that, at the time of this test, I had my microSD card on order, awaiting its arrival. In the meantime, I was using a much older card, which was only capable of standard definition photos and recording, so we will not be factoring in photo quality for this test.

As a reference point, here is photo taken by a standard 50mm lens:

Now, comparing this to a wide-angle lens would be like comparing apples and oranges, but bear with me, this is just being used as a reference to compare the major differences.

Alright, here's the GoPro, taken from the same point as the previous still:

The amount of coverage from this little device simply amazes me. As you can tell, there is a barrel distortion, which is very common in fisheye lenses. While this effect can be useful in some situations, it can also be an issue for those who wish to have a more natural effect in their photos/videos. However, I have learned that is a fairly easy fix in post software. There are plenty of tutorials online that show you how to make that correction in your favorite photo/video editing environment. I'll have a small tutorial in the near future.

Next I plan to take the GoPro on the road and start some video testing. Hopefully, I'll have all the proper accessories at that point. See you soon!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Year, New Updates

Hello all! With the start of the New Year, I figured that I would update you all on some ongoing projects. I know it has been a while since I have made any major updates, but I can assure you that I am still hard at work with many different things.

First up on the list: a few weeks ago, I made some minor updates to my website. Besides the new banner and color scheme, I also worked on making some changes to the main page. One major change was the addition of a photo slideshow showcasing some of my photography work. The other change is a video of my first ever film reel. While admittedly, it's far from perfect, I think it does a good job of highlighting all of my previous projects and my work as a director, assistant director, and cinematographer. To clarify, I should probably label my role for each project somewhere in the reel. I'll look into that later on (when I have more time to revisit the reel). In the near future, I'd like to focus more on cinematography and highlight this within its own reel, but for the time being, this will do just fine. Oh, and excuse the terrible soundtrack. That was just something I threw together in Mixcraft in an attempt to supplement the video.

I've been hard at work on some writing projects. While I have nothing to present just yet, I continue to work a little bit each day on several scripts and works of fiction.

In the meantime, I've also been playing around with a little bit of photography. Recently, I worked on another self-portrait project that closely relates back to a self-portrait I shot two years ago:

I actually have several more stills from that production that were never released. I'll get those posted when I get I chance to edit them.

Meanwhile, the new project incorporates similar elements that I was excited to revisit. This project is still in the editing phase, but here's a little preview of what's to come:

I'll upload the final stills once editing is complete.

I've had some recent chances to explore the sights of Pittsburgh. On a recent videography assignment, I was able to grab some nice stills (though not the best quality, due to location and time constraints) of the beautiful landscape. The city really comes alive during the nighttime.

I'd like to dedicate some more time to photographing the city. Hopefully, I'll have a dedicated project in the near future.

Finally, I've made a somewhat larger investment recently. I caved and recently bought this little guy:

Some people call it one of the best price-steady camcorders on the market. Judging by some of the test footage, I couldn't agree more. This is the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition.

I should have some time to test it extensively this week. I'm still want for a few accessories to arrive in the mail. In my next entry, I plan to focus on what I find from the test footage and some shot comparisons. Stay tuned!