Setting a Video Camera or Camcorder Budget

At Last the Big One – Your Budget
Finally we arrive at your last line of defence or at least the line you need to defend the most and that is, your bottom line.
Before you even entertain the idea of beginning your search for the right camera you MUST get this point settled.
Trying wade through all the technical information laced with smooth marketing is no mean feat…
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Upscaling the first 1896 Lumi貥 Brothers film recordings to full colour 4K/60p with neural network engine

Comment on the forum Shot by the Lumière Brothers in 1896 this is some of the first footage committed to film. There is now a technique to upsample this footage to high resolution 4K/60p using neural networks. Here it is in action on the piece “Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat”. Imagine being the first to hold a movie camera and whatever you film goes down in history, even a train arriving at a platform. Here’s the quality of the original (albeit quite compressed due to being on YouTube and not a high quality master). The difference is amazing …

Read moreUpscaling the first 1896 Lumière Brothers film recordings to full colour 4K/60p with neural network engine

Building a VR studio around Ultimatte 12 and other Blackmagic Design solutions

Building a VR studio around Ultimatte 12 and other Blackmagic Design solutions

When Italian creative agency ViSo Video Solutions decided to upgrade its virtual reality studios, the company chose to add the Ultimatte 12 and URSA Broadcast cameras to its workflow.

ViSo Video Solutions, an Italian creative agency that produces national television commercials and shows for clients such as Sky Italia, Mediaset, ESL and Netco Sports, has upgraded its virtual reality studios, relying on Ultimatte 12 compositing processors and URSA Broadcast cameras to create its workflow, announced Blackmagic Design.

Ultimatte 12, world’s most trusted keyer, features one touch keying technology that analyzes a scene and automatically sets over a 100 parameters, allowing for faster workflows, essential for live production. Blackmagic Design says that “One touch keying is dramatically faster and helps you accurately pull a key with minimum effort. That leaves your operators free to focus on the overall program with less distractions, while Ultimatte 12 takes care of the rest!” Now, ViSo Video Solutions takes that approach, too.

Building a VR studio around Ultimatte 12 and other Blackmagic Design solutions

A 130 square meters VR studio

Founded in 2010, the company not only offers clients its VR services, it also creates all computer generated (CG) and 3D assets needed in house, and provides all post production which includes editing and grading in DaVinci Resolve Studio. It was only logic that, when building virtual studio sets, the company looked at the extensive portfolio of solutions from Blackmagic Design to create a complete chain for acquisition and control, using elements that would easily work together.

“Augmented and virtual studio environments bring so many benefits to productions,” begins Luigi Nino, general manager at ViSo. “We chose to develop our VR system in house so that we could control every aspect, and customize materials, lighting, animations and effects for each clients’ specific needs.”

The studio’s VR set is 130 square meters and uses three tripod mounted URSA Broadcasts as well as a dolly mounted 4.5m jib on a six meter track. An ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K, with ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panel, is used for live vision mixing.

Building a VR studio around Ultimatte 12 and other Blackmagic Design solutions

Using a dedicated Ultimatte with each camera

“When you have multiple cameras like this shooting from different angles, it can be quite easy to miss a bit of spill, however having a dedicated Ultimatte attached to each camera chain, paired with the correct lighting, ensures we always get the best possible key,” adds Luigi.

He continues: “We’d used Ultimatte previously and made the decision to upgrade to Ultimatte 12 as it is much better at dealing with green spill. Not only that it can also create quick and very accurate garbage mattes.”

On moving CG objects in a set, Luigi explains, “We have our own in house software that essentially takes control of all 3D/CG elements in the scene and allows us to edit them. You can visualize them in real-time and if something needs changing you can import models, pre-visualize them, move them, make them bigger or smaller, anything you want.”

Once they decide on how the scene will look, it will be ‘frozen’ and it is ready to be recorded with the help of Ultimatte.

Building a VR studio around Blackmagic Design solutions

A complete solution at an amazing price

“One of my favorite examples is ESL Italy’s fortnightly magazine show, called House of Esports, which is shown on DMAXHD. We put the host and guests in the game being discussed and they can then get up and walk around the set and it just looks incredible.

The scene is full of characters, effects and animations with elements in both the background and foreground to create a very realistic virtual set.”

Luigi concludes: “Since Blackmagic Design acquired Ultimatte, I have been astonished at the improvements made to an already fantastic chroma keyer. Combined with all of our other Blackmagic hardware, we now have a complete chain for acquisition and control at an amazing price point which ensures we achieve our quality objectives.”

Tech Crossover

At CES, I walk the acres of exhibit floors looking at all the new technology. There isn’t a great deal that applies to my job as a video editor, but certainly, displays and various capture devices do. Also, as someone who has been involved in the tech industry for most of my life, I relish the opportunity to learn where technology is going.

As I view the exhibits, in the back of my mind I try to envision how the technology I see might apply to my suite. But since most of the exhibits are geared to consumers, that brings up the whole issue of using consumer gear in my world.

When I talked about the fact that HDMI was never designed to be used in a professional production environment, it made me think about gear I use that some wouldn’t call professional. (I’ll skip the argument on what’s professional and what’s not. I can leave that for the endless comment sections produced when Final Cut Pro X was introduced.)

Of course, I use HDMI, usually to show my clients edits on a consumer TV in the endless quest to answer the question, “Is it going to look like that at home?” Is HDMI my preference? No, but there aren’t any sets that have BNC connectors.

Do I really care? Am I being a BNC snob? Not at all. I’m fine using consumer gear to get the job done. But, at the same time, I keep in mind that I’m using something that might not have the same performance as professional gear.  

So, as I was walking the show floor, I came across Hyundai Technology. And no, there were no cars there. Although its origins came from the same company, Hyundai Technology creates various consumer devices. The one that caught my eye was an external SSD.

Small and portable, with models from 250 GB to 2 TB, the read and write speed was specified at 450 MB/s and 400 MB/s respectively. It’s packaged with both USB-A and USB-C cables. This was a device that I could use when I needed to transfer files!

I often have clients in my suite who want to give me source material. The usual method of handing me a USB stick becomes problematic because files are getting larger and larger and most (not all) USB sticks are slow. So we wait to transfer files from their computer to the stick and then from the stick to my edit array. It certainly doesn’t take hours, but it can definitely dash the momentum during a session.

This SSD offered 1TB of storage and was spec’d at 400MB/s write speed.

Another thought I had when I was learning about the SSD is that while it’s small, it’s large enough that it won’t get lost. And by “lost” I mean that it won’t be accidentally taken by the client. It won’t be in a pile of USB sticks or get mixed in with any client sticks.

The Hyundai SSD will be another piece of gear marketed to consumers that can have a place in my workflow. It might not compare in some performance aspects with another “professional” SSD: it might not be screaming fast or survive being dropped from a two-story building or being run over by a dump truck, but that’s fine. I’ll take that into account in how I use it.

That’s the tradeoff of using consumer gear in a professional environment —emphasis on “trade.” It’s like the trade-off between a warehouse-style store and a full-service store. The warehouse store might not look as nice and it might take you longer to find someone to help you, but you pay less at check-out.

As long as you remember where you’re shopping, you shouldn’t be disappointed that it might take you longer to find what you need. Likewise, as long as you remember what your gear was originally designed for, you shouldn’t be disappointed in its performance.

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