Shooting 4K Anamorphic and V-Log with Panasonic’s GH4. Ten Valuable Lessons.
UPDATED: I just added two video tutorials: one comparing “Panasonic’s V-Log L vs. Cinelike D” and the second one “Conforming 4K Anamorphic Footage in Adobe Premiere Pro.”
Anamorphic is enjoying a huge comeback. The reasons to go this route vary from project to project, but generally it’s the desire to achieve a different look and use as many pixels from the sensors as possible. Panasonic’s Firmware Update v.2.2 (available here) enables an Anamorphic (4:3) Mode capable of recording video in 3328 x 2496 pixel (equivalent to approx. 8.3-megapixel) resolution at a frame rate of either 23.98, 24, 25 or 29.97 fps. With an anamorphic lens such as 2x Lomo lenses (see below) we now can capture and un-squeeze a 3356×2496 image in post-production. To make things even better, 4:2:2 / 10 bit HDMI output is also available.
Just like in 2013 when we had the opportunity to field test a GH3 in the Middle East and last year when we shot with one of only three prototypes world-wide of the GH4, for the past couple of weeks I had the privilege to work with director Davis Northern, DP and tech wizard Sean Davis and many other talented people on one of the very first GH4 Anamorphic AND V-Log L projects, shot exclusively for Panasonic North America and produced by The Digital Distillery.
The project was exciting and very challenging, as working with hardware prototypes and beta versions of software or firmware always is. We had a lot of moving pieces and an extremely tight deadline, but I’m proud of the final results and very satisfied with the lessons learned. This article covers some of the most significant ones, and it is written from my very own personal perspective. As always, I try my best to be as objective and brand agnostic as possible. The lessons aren’t in any specific order and some links will take you to articles with additional information . Please consider using our links to help support our very time consuming articles and tutorials.
Ready? Let’s go!
1. Shooting Anamorphic
It can definitely be achieved by a very small crew on a small budget. We mostly shot with a crew of three, with very limited gear and time. I’ve always assumed you needed a 2-ton truck and a crew of 30 to pull this off. Clearly, this was not the case for us.
In terms of lenses, we opted to keep a “low profile” while keeping our options open. In other words, we rented a set of vintage anamorphic Lomo lenses (35, 50, and 75mm) and tested an SLR Magic as well as a Letus AnamorphX 1.8X Pro Adapter and a Veydra Mini Prime.
The lenses are huge and heavy. Lomo 50mm + 75mm with case = 25lbs. Lomo 35mm with case = 35lbs with each case weighting about 30lbs. Not ideal for the “guerilla” approach we needed for this project. They definitely have a unique look, but are very hard to focus, especially when using a very flat profile. We rented the set for $500/day or about $1,700 for a week including tax. Not cheap by any means but definitely worth the investment in terms of time and quality.
If I were to shoot this project again (or on upcoming anamorphic projects) I probably would test the Cooke Anamorphic/i Lenses (25, 32, 40, 50, 75, 100, and 135mm with a 2x squeeze). Unfortunately these lenses cost about $30,000 each, and the rental rate is about $500 per lens, per day.
B. SLR Magic:
We had access to a very nice selection of Panasonic glass that we wanted to use with an SLR Magic adapter. The first challenge was that the front diameter on all the lenses has to be below 62mm in order to use the step down rings. The second limitation was (for the Panasonic lenses) that anything wider than 28mm would vignette. We could have used the Panasonic 12-35mm lens, at 28mm or longer (kind of pointless), but for some odd reason with the SLR Magic adapter it vignetted all the way even at 35mm. The Panasonic 35-100mm didn’t vignette at 35mm. Go figure. The next usable lens on our Panasonic arsenal was the beautiful 42.5mm Noticron f/1.2, but we needed a step DOWN ring (from 67mm to 62mm) that wasn’t included with the kit. The last option was the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 lens, which worked well but focusing was a MAJOR issue (not Panasonic’s fault). I found the SLR Magic system very finicky and unreliable and unfortunately I can’t recommend using it.
C. Letus Anamorphx:
The Letus Adapter worked much better than SLR Magic but it was also cumbersome. A matte box is pretty much required and there was an issue with one of our widest lenses. The lesson here is, if you are shooting anamorphic, use the real thing.
There’s some heavy math involved when shooting Anamorphic. An anamorphic lens produces roughly a 2X horizontal squeeze of the image onto film. Traditional anamorphic lenses were designed to work on a 4:3 standard. The anamorphic footage captured with the GH4 on the Atomos Shogun is 3840×2160, so not technically 4K but pretty close. Shooting internally (to an SD card) the footage is 3328×2496, so greater vertical resolution than the 4K standard, but not full 4K horizontal resolution. To keep things in perspective, the 4K footage out of the GH4 4096×2160.
As you would expect, the files are huge. Shooting ProRes 422 you need about 4GB per minute of footage. Two cameras: 8GB, after only one backup you are at 16GB per minute. So somewhere around 20GB per minute is a pretty safe storage estimate for a two-camera setup. As always, we trusted all our very valuable assets to G-Tech Hard Drives.
Regarding Solid State Drives, Atomos has a great chart with all the supported drives for the Shogun and other devices. Make sure you triple check the chart before investing in one.
One SECOND of footage takes about 50MB so even if you are shooting into seemingly endless Solid State Drives, being smart about when to start rolling and when to stop can save a lot of storage.
As we were shooting, Atomos was literally finishing writing the Shogun’s firmware update (available in May or June as a free download) will enable a number of awesome features:
- Anamorphic de-squeeze for Panasonic GH4 and standard lenses
- RAW recording to ProRes, DNxHR and Cinema DNG for compatible RAW formats
- Expanded RAW compatibility to include Sony FS series, Canon, Arri and AJA
- 3D LUTs on HDMI/SDI output
- Cinema 4K DCI support
- Uncompressed V210 support
We had to use a Small HD Pro7 (to de-squeeze) and the Shogun (to record in 4K). The setup seems pretty obvious after a lot of trials but it wasn’t at first. Here’s the executive summary that will hopefully save you some time and stress:
1. Micro HDMI to Standard HDMI cable from the GH4’s HDMI OUT to the Atomos Shogun HDMI IN
2. Standard HDMI to Standard HDMI cable from the Atomos Shogun HDMI OUT to the Small HD HDMI IN
3. In the Shogun, the 4K downconvert option should be OFF while connecting the Small HD and turned ON when everything is properly connected.
Our Small HD had a nasty tendency to constantly lose signal for no apparent reason, so step #3 had to be repeated many times throughout each shoot.
5. Premiere Pro CC 2014 Workflow
To be totally honest, I was shocked by how easy it was to conform the footage in post. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Import the footage the way you normally do.
2. Select the anamorphic clips.
3. Go to clip > Modify > Interpret Footage
4. Under “Pixel Aspect Ratio” select “Conform To” and “Anamorphic 2:1 (2.0).
5. Create a “new sequence from clip” and start cutting.
6. Done and done. Wow!
Here are some screen grabs from the camera’s LCD:
Focus is super, extra, hyper critical, especially when shooting with a very flat profile like the one we used. Unfortunately we couldn’t trust the SmallHD and had to rely 100% on the Shogun at a 1:2 zoom.
• A sun hood for your external monitor is absolutely essential (if given the option get the black version).
• Obviously you will need lens adapters if you are planning to use the SLR Magic or Letus AnamorphX options.
• Make sure you get plenty of batteries, The small battery that comes with the Shogun lasts about 30 min only and we got about one hour of recording time with TWO Canon batteries on the Small HD. Instead of buying tons of batteries I’m a big fan of renting them (more here). The same goes for additional Solid State Drives.
8. Bonus lessons:
• Shooting anamorphic takes a lot practice and fine-tuning. I’d recommend scheduling at least a full day to test all the gear before a shoot.
• If we keep a small footprint and move fast, we can get a lot done.
• The “shoot without lens” on the GH4 must be turned on in order to work with the Anamorphic lenses.
The original Hall of Fame is in the Bronx.
The Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College, the original “Hall of Fame” in this country, was designed as part of the construction of an undergraduate college of that university.
Built in a “sweeping semicircular Neo-Classical arc with wings at either end, it provides a panorama across the Harlem River to the Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park and beyond to the Palisades. It is a unique and patriotic reminder that this country’s phenomenal growth has been due to the vitality, ingenuity, and intellect of these individuals.”
A shelter for the wealthy, a mansion for artists.
The Andrew Freedman Mansion, a wonderful building in the Bronx, was designed specifically as a retirement home for wealthy people who had lost their fortunes. “For many years this landmark has existed in a kind of open-but-closed limbo. Its ground floor is almost always full of children, in day care and in a Head Start program. Two elegant ballrooms and a book-filled library above have been maintained for weddings and other events, and for several years the Bronx Museum of the Arts, has offered outdoor film screenings and other cultural programs.”
The clip above is part of a series of 1-minute video vignettes we shot in the Bronx sponsored by a grant from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and produced by students and faculty at Lehman College.
How to shoot a zero budget film in 17 hours without a crew.
Being busy should never be an excuse for not participating in creative challenges. Not having a budget, crew, or even actors, are simple excuses as well.
Let me explain. (more…)
The unknown, yet famous, City Island.
Numerous films, television shows, and commercials have been filmed on City Island. Films include Butterfield 8 starring Elizabeth Taylor; Long Day’s Journey (more…)
Best of the Bronx.
“Best of the Bronx” is a series of 1-minute video vignettes to help promote New York City’s northernmost borough. The Bronx is well known for landmarks like the Yankee Stadium, the New York Botanical Garden or the Zoo, but the project’s goal was to highlight lesser-known gems.
The first video on the series profiled City Island, a place known for its rich maritime history, museums, and seafood restaurants. The remainder of the series includes the Andrew Friedman House, Bronx Community College’s Hall of Fame, Wave Hill, Little Italy (video below), and the Grand Concourse, among other exciting locations. (more…)
Milk + Honey Coffee Shop in Brooklyn. Fun promo video.
This is a short piece about Milk + Honey—by far one of the coolest coffee shops in New York City. (more…)
Visual Serendipity. Week 82. Underground Rockefeller.
Rockefeller Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings covering 22 acres (89,000 m2) between 48th and 51st streets in New York City. A series of shop- and restaurant-filled, underground pedestrian passages stretches from 47th Street to 51st Street, and from Fifth Avenue to Seventh Avenue.
Visual Serendipity 73: Neighborhood of make-believe.
This past weekend we came across a great exhibit at The American Museum of Natural History entitled, “Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture,” that explores how food is produced and distributed throughout the world; from farm to fork.
This miniature from the exhibit reminded us of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood of Make-Believe. (more…)
Visual Serendipity. No Funny.
I respectfully disagree. I think it is pretty funny. Found at the storefront of one of the many “Halal” bodegas in my neighborhood.
Even the North White Plains Metro North station has a Wikipedia page! This is the view from the South tunnel, while running to catch my train. Visual Serendipity is our weekly series of images captured on an Android Nexus 4 smartphone.
Visual Serendipity. The Silence of the Lambs.
To create the physical world of The Silence of the Lambs (1991), production designer Kristi Zea drew on descriptions in the book by Thomas Harris on which the film was based. She was also inspired by a variety of images, including paintings by Francis Bacon, newspaper and magazine clippings, and historical photographs.
Visual Serendipity meets Mrs. Doubtfire.
After a bitter divorce, Robin Williams disguises himself as a female housekeeper to spend secret time with his children held in custody by his ex wife. This was shot at the awesome Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. If you don’t remember the movie, or haven’t seen it in the past TWENTY years, here’s the trailer.
The iconic Empire State Building as seen from the also iconic New York Public Library’s Main Reading Room.
The New York Public Library designs the future.
The New York Public Library is doing an outstanding job incorporating education, technology and design into their present and future plans. If you share a hope for a better education system and a love for digital learning solutions as we do, then this should strike your interest.
• A new plan, designed by the great British architect Norman Foster, will create a state-of-the-art circulating library within the main branch (which is called the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building), a 101-year old landmark in New York City. Foster’s design will open spaces currently closed to the public, creating a four-level atrium, with bookshelves, sitting areas and desks, and will incorporate the books, programs, and services now found at the “heavily used but seriously deteriorating” Mid-Manhattan Library across Fifth Avenue. The project, expected to be completed in 2018 will cost $300 million. Half of that will come from the city and the rest from donations and the sale of properties. Long term, the project will save $12 to 15 million from the library’s tight yearly budget according to Anthony W. Marx, the library’s president.
After the renovation, which has been somewhat controversial, the building is expected to receive 4 million visitors per year. It will be open seven days a week, most days until 11 p.m. Incredibly enough, the branches will remain open throughout construction! Check out the 3D renderings and benefits for project below (it does not have sound, your speakers are fine!):
Benefits after the renovation:
- More public library space than is currently available in all three locations combined
- Open 7 days a week, 12+ hours most days
- Books and DVDs to browse and check out
- Natural light and beautiful views onto Bryant Park
- New spaces for children and teens
- Classrooms, computer labs, expanded research areas
- Business Research Center and Job Search resources
- Expanded spaces for scholars and writers
- Research materials properly preserved beneath Bryant Park
- Savings that can be spent on new librarians and curators and more books
Click here to keep reading (more…)
Our Lady of Guadalupe (Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, is a celebrated Roman Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary and recognized as a symbol of all Catholic Mexicans. I walked right into this procession while leaving my apartment in Brooklyn.
After finishing a client meeting on Lexington and 66th Street, I walked by the “Seventh Regiment Armory” and saw this. I diligently took my weekly picture, and rushed to my next meeting. A few days later we found out that what was happening inside is called “the event of a thread”, a multisensory affair, with “readings, sound, and live events within a field of swings that together invite visitors to connect to the action of each other and the work itself, illuminating the experience of the singular and collective body.”
Here’s the complete info. Please share below if you have been or are planning to go to this event! Sounds pretty cool.
Grand Central Terminal, seen from a very unusual catwalk’s view. While working on a consulting project for Metro North, I had access to a unique, VIP, once-in-a-lifetime, behind the scenes tour of Grand Central. The main lobby, which I always thought was huge, is actually a tiny part of the station. According to the travel magazine Travel + Leisure, Grand Central is “the world’s number six most visited tourist attraction”, bringing in approximately 21,600,000 visitors annually.
Think a $5 gallon of gas is crazy? Drivers in Norway are currently paying $9 a gallon, and Germans pay just over $8.
That’s cheap compared with gold, which right now is at $1,700 per ounce.
Think gold is expensive? Consider this: If cars ran on printers’ ink instead of gasoline, each trip to the gas station would cost $100,000. According to PetaPixel, to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool with ink would cost billions of dollars.
My tiny office printer uses HP21 black ink cartridges. The best deal (often on Amazon) goes for $12. Each cartridge is 1.4 ounces. Now, if you can remember your high school conversions, 1 US gal = 128 US oz. That means at $12 per cartridge, a gallon of the cheapest ink in our office costs about $1,536 per gallon, and the cheapest color cartridge is about $3,364 per gallon. Yikes!
What about my fancy photo printer? A long time ago I learned a valuable lesson: the cheaper the printer, the more expensive the inks. I have also learned that over time, the market leaders tend to be more stable in their pricing of consumables, because they are better equipped to react during rough economic times.
Keep this in mind during the holiday season when you see some “impossibly good printer deals.”
Visual Serendipity. NYC Subway.
By now, New York City’s subway system has been restored to “limited service”, as efforts continue to dry out flooded tubes, track, signals and other components damaged in last week’s “Sandy” storm. Below is the condition of the subway map after the hurricane:
It doesn’t get more serendipitous than this. After Hurricane Sandy passed through Brooklyn leaving behind floods, fires, and a long trail of destruction, this was the first image I saw when I woke up. I had several cameras handy planning (unsuccessfully) to document the hurricane from our window. Two images later, the clouds covered the rainbow and it was gone!
I found this image yesterday while walking around the Lower East Side, or “LES” as it is called by the locals. I believe it shows how many different and simultaneous things are happening in this city at any give time. Living in New York City can be very exciting, or very exhausting, depending on your day.
Something I truly love about New York is that it is a “pedestrian friendly” city. Not only it is much faster (and cheaper) to walk somewhere instead of taking a train or a cab, it is also a good exercise. Keep walking.
Putting us on the map.
We are proud to announce that Eduardo Angel LLC is now on a digital map called, Made in New York, a great resource developed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg for tech companies, investors, developers and designers. Featuring more than 500 local companies across the city’s five boroughs, including 325 that are presently hiring, the projects’s goal is to interactively show what is happening in the technology industry throughout the five boroughs.
“We expect this map to be another tool that helps propel our tech industry forward,” Bloomberg said . “The growth of the tech industry in New York City has been a critical part of weathering the nation’s economic downturn, far better than the rest of the country.” Since the map plots companies by location, job seekers can explore their desired neighborhoods, making this a fantastic resource for anyone who lives or is moving to New York City to find jobs in the technology sector. The map can be also be sorted by digital companies, investors, and co-working and incubator spaces.
A movie about the most inspiring Brazilian artist you’ve never heard of.
UPDATE 0905: Mission Accomplished!!!!!
My extremely talented friend Andre Constantini has been working on a feature film called “Bel Borba Aqui.” The movie is about the most inspiring Brazilian artist you’ve never heard of.
While chatting with Andre about the film and his current Kickstarter campaign, I was schocked to know that they have well over 600 hours of footage. Andre shares here snippets of our conversation.
I just recently completed my first feature documentary film. With over 600 hours of footage and 3 years in the making, there has been a lot of time invested into the project. I had made short films before but increasing the scope of any project of this magnitude seems to exponentially increase the time it takes to complete it. But I digress, before you start a documentary it helps if you know the story you want to tell or the topic you want to explore.
Put It Out There
One year before I even knew that the subject of my film, a Brazilian artist living in Salvador, Brazil existed, I had a conversation with a colleague of mine expressing my desire to make a feature documentary on a living artist. A year later, I received a phone call from the same colleague stating that he found him and he was in Brazil and that I should come and meet him to see if it would work out.
Always Be Ready to Go
Even though we were just supposed to discuss the possibilities, on the first trip, I brought all of my equipment to shoot and after meeting the first day, we started shooting the second day. When I returned from my week long trip, I had already filmed for three days. This was enough to start cutting a short piece together to excite the subject and support.
The Edit Room
The editing process went along simultaneously with the shooting to some extent, coming up with rough sequences or themes. The key is not the is not where you start, it’s THAT you start. I find that as you have an idea for one scene or footage that you know worked out or you like, start there and find other footage that supports it visually or thematically (maybe even both). This part always takes the longest. But plan to have plenty of time to do this. Personally, I am best when I have large chunks of time where I can focus without distractions.
Here’s the Trailer:
The film is scheduled to release theatrically on October 3rd for a two week run at Film Forum in NYC. Let’s support Andre with his Kickstarter campaign. It could be you needing financing in a few years…
After spending a very hot and humid Sunday afternoon in Central Park we were looking for a restroom, and this is what we found instead. Gotta love this city.
Interview with WPPI en Español.
For over 30 years, Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) has been a main source of events and education for professional photographers. We are thrilled to be part of their ongoing interview series with photographers and filmmakers. I shared some insights about our work, the transition from architect to photographer, and our passion for everything visual. We briefly discussed how we successfully built a business that is able to maintain an equal balance between technology consulting, education and training, and visual storytelling.
Please take a few minutes to check out the interview, and as always, post your comments and questions below.
Another hidden gem in Brooklyn. If you are willing to bike with me for 1.5 hours I’ll take you to this location.
Woody Allen’s, Manhattan, is about a divorced New Yorker dating a high-schooler, and looking for love in the mistress of his best friend. Quite a dark story there. I’m sure the city has changed a lot since the movie was released in 1979.
A true serendipitous moment. While walking in Dumbo I saw this unknown girl posing for her friend. I was able to snap only two pictures before they were gone. I have no idea what their shoot was about, but I loved the random geometries and the quality of the light.
A different view of “The Highline” a beautiful urban project in New York City that has become a major tourist destination. The picture was taken from an elevator, through the tinted glass.
Great interview with X-Rite Coloratti on Color Management.
Last month, I was invited to join the prestigious X-Rite Coloratti team, which includes the world’s top professional photographers. I was interviewed by X-Rite about my work, as well as my thoughts on color management for digital photographers, and specifically for those shooting video. We also chatted a bit about my views on how video has changed the playing field for all professional photographers. Please take a few minutes to listen to this short clip of our conversation.
We recently shot a series of video tutorials, focusing on the importance of color management and monitor calibration for video editing. Here’s the most recent episode.
If anyone is interested, there are a few spaces left at my upcoming workshop: Inkjet Printing: Color Management and Calibration at the International Center of Photography in New York City, Aug 4th, 2012.
Please feel welcome to leave any feedback, questions or comments below.
Don’t believe the rumors; New York is really safe.