Category Archives: blog

fumbling with editing software

As if getting the exposure settings and focus right as well avoiding amphetamine-like camera shake wasn’t hard enough! Even if I managed to get the pretty raw footage I’ve been lusting after for so long, I still wouldn’t know what to do with it.

Enter the wide wild world of video editing software.

iMovie, Final Cut Pro/Express, Premiere Pro/Elements…there are quite a few to choose from and I’m sure there are tons more. I bought myself a copy of FCE off eBay for the bargain basement price of $49, only to find out that Apple decided to not support 1080p and a few other things I really would have liked as well. As a consequence, my playtime with Final Cut Express has been shorter than how long it takes you to say ‘consumer iProducts make more money than professional software’.

My first ‘short’, if you could even call it that, was therefore made by adding three clips to iMovie and clicking ‘export’.

The simplicity of it amazed me but the final product was also no editing masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination.  However, I got a good idea of what is possible and even a tiny bit of colour-grading didn’t seem to hard to achieve.

Final Cut Pro would obviously be a nice choice, despite the lack of x64 support and a few other niggly bits, but at $700 minimum it’s also out of my reach for now so it’s just going to remain a distant dream.

premiere pro logo

I love trials

Likewise, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, which demands a similarly prohibitive price tag, is also out of the picture. However, it also comes with a nice free trial option, which lets you install it on your machine and run unrestrictedly for 30 days…per email address! My  temporary ghetto solution for now is to just run on empty with PP until I run of email addresses to run trials with. So far so good! I’ve been watching a few how-to vids over at lynda.com which have been enormously helpful. Chad Perkins is a fast-talking yank who manages to succinctly bring his points across in a way I like. Highly recommended!

I’ve shot a few more bits and pieces over the last couple of weeks, including a wedding which I’ve been using as my trial project for cutting together something resembling a coherent wedding vid. So far, I haven’t had much luck but I’ll post it as soon as I’m more or less happy with what I’ve assembled.

Stay tuned,

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humble beginnings

Like many other unsuspecting punters, I watched the season finale of House MD, which looked different somehow.

house finale screengrab

DoF, baby!

It felt like I was there, but on drugs or otherwise not fully awake. Things would blur out momentarily only to be back where they were in an instant. The depth of field (DoF) was spectacular, as was the feel…I kept telling my wife how beautifully shot this episode was and got all excited.However, I had no idea why it looked the way it did. A little bit later, I stumbled upon this (re)post on dpreview that claimed the finale had been shot on Canon 5DMkII cameras! Wow, I had no idea that DSLR video was that advanced! I’d heard of the Nikon D90 being able to do that and remember being impressed, but I was absolutely clueless about how far they had come. I started reading up about DSLR movie making only to discover that a veritable revolution was well under way! Places like Cinema5D and Vimeo were full of people pumping out amazingly gorgeous short films made on these cameras…not only the Canon 5D but also the 7D, 1D and 550D (T2i/Kiss x4).

I was in awe! Even a little entry-level stills camera like the 550D could not rival massive professional digital camcorders like the $10,000-Sony EX3 but even better them in terms of low-light performance and DoF!

Sensor size comparison

Look at the teeny tiny EX-3!

I found lots more resources, including Nino Leitner’s blog and through him that of DSLR film-making patron saint, Philip Bloom. NoFilmSchool by Ryan Koo is another valuable resource, especially his HDSLR guide to cinematography.

After hours and hours of research, I decided to go with the newly-released Canon 60D, together with a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 prime lens, all of which I managed to get for less than A$1,500. Alas, that was also the extent of my budget, so that’ll have to do. Eventually, I’ll probably invest in a tripod and few more lenses, but that it’s for a while.

Nevertheless, I’m excited about the prospect of limited tools, as such restraints (hopefully) boost creativity. Zero-budget film making, here I come!