Location Recce

The other piece of film work this week was a full day location recce to Stockton Beach near Newcastle (about 2-hours north of Sydney). We were looking for sites for an old WWII style bunker for a feature film (which is at a very early stage of development).

We took some miniatures up that the director has been working on for concept art & pre-visualisation purposes. They made for some interesting pictures.

As soon as anyone hears that you are working on a film, prices go through the roof. We were escorted around the national park area of the sand dunes and the park rangers charged $330ph. Ouch.

Combustion goes down in flames

Hmm... first major problem trying to process the footage from the watergarden – Autodesk Combustion can’t handle video that uses the H.264 codec (which of course is what the 5D shoots in). It seems to process the first frame ok but everything after that goes black. I’ll have to transcode the footage before getting any further... *sigh*
I’m also discovering that the 5D might not be so good for visual effects work. Trying to pull a Luma key on the (one working frame of) footage show just how much compression is evident. You can see it here –

The large square blocks and the white fringe around the plant are the result of compression – what I would like to see is nothing but green plant on black background (or a nice smooth transition in to the white areas).This is about what I was expecting for a camera that shoots HD at 8mb/s – I’ll just have to see how much massaging it needs to get a decent result.


Shooting with Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Overall, filming with the camera is good. There are a few hiccups that make me hesitate from saying ‘Great’.

Firstly, I am finding it quite difficult to maintain consistent camera settings (in particular the ISO) between clips. This does not seem to have a big visual impact on the footage I have taken so far but I would prefer some more control so I’ll be spending some more time figuring out how to lock down the settings as per the discussion in Vincent Laforet’s blog.

Second, the camera crashed 5-times while taking about 25 videos. What do I mean by crashed? The camera flashed on the ‘write-buffer full’ symbol then froze. I waited several minutes for the write buffer to catch up on the clip but no luck. Eventually I gave up and had to pull out the battery to reset the camera. The only clip that I lost was the one where I was on during the crash. I’ve subsequently tested the CF-card on some long clips with no write problems (SanDisk Extreme III – 30mb/s) so I’m assuming the crashes may have been a heat problem. The crashes occurred in a mix of direct sunlight and shade but it was a very warm day (>30°C). The manual and some websites mention thermal issues causing image degradation but I can’t find anything about the camera freezing up so I’ll keep checking there.

Next up I’ll start trying to process the footage.



The first of January feels like a better day than most for starting something so I’ve finally set up a blog on Blogger/LiveJournal/MySpace.

Why? I work in post-production on film and television (and occasionally other stages of film development for my own work) and I’ve learned a lot from online tutorials/forums/discussions. Now it’s time to participate somewhat more actively.

I work for Channel Seven in Sydney Australia on the medical drama All Saints MRU doing the color grading and visual effects for the show so I’ll be talking a bit about what’s happening there (technical stuff – not the storylines) as well as my own projects.
First up – I bought a Canon EOS 5D Mark II a few weeks back and I’ve finally got time to play with the new HD filming capability. I’ll be running it through its paces on a promo video for a water-garden and I’ll post my experiences and sample footage over the next few weeks.