Thursday, June 30, 2011

Matrox Turns 35

Montreal-based high-tech electronics company continues to deliver innovative graphics, video and imaging/machine vision solutions to customers worldwide 

(Montréal, Canada--June 29, 2011) With the introduction of Matrox's first product Video RAM (a specialized video display device for first-generation microcomputers) in 1976, co-founders Branko Matic and Lorne Trottier launched a company that has continued to develop innovative, industry-leading products over the last 35 years.

The company's three divisions—Matrox Graphics, Matrox Imaging, and Matrox Video—now provide specialized hardware and software solutions for use in an array of professional markets, including media and entertainment, finance, digital signage, medical imaging, manufacturing, factory automation, security, government, and enterprise computing.

Since 1976, Matrox has earned its reputation as an industry leader by consistently meeting customer requirements for pioneering technology and the highest standards of manufacturing. Despite the fast-paced, increasingly complex challenges companies face within the high-technology sector, Matrox continues to deliver reliable, high-quality products aimed at solving specific, real-world industry issues.

Matrox's success is ensured by the calibre of its solutions, commitment to customers' needs, and a willingness to optimize every aspect of its business operations. The company's proven track record assures customers that Matrox will continue to meet their specifications for performance, value, and service now—and in the future.

About Matrox
Established in 1976, Matrox has many years of experience building innovative, award-winning hardware and software solutions under three successful divisions: Matrox Graphics, a multi-display graphics leader of add-in graphics cards, external multi-display adapters, KVM extenders, and video wall controller boards for professional environments; Matrox Imaging, a leading developer of component-level solutions for machine vision, image analysis, medical imaging, and video surveillance; and Matrox Video, a technology leader in the field of HD and SD digital video hardware and software for a full range of content creation and delivery platforms. Matrox is a privately held company headquartered in Montreal, Canada, with representation and offices in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit Matrox.

Thinking of leaving FCP and going to Premiere Pro ?

Adobe has some great tutorials on switching from FCP Whatever to Premiere Pro CS5.5 ? Check these out

This is a great multipart series, and there are some others out there as well if you look.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hitler on FCP X

If it weren't so true....

 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Former Shake Product Manager Speaks Out on FCP X

Well this one is making the rounds right now. Its the former Shake product manager speaking about apple's internal view of things. Worth a read because history may be repeating itself again. Ok, they didn't kill FCP out right, or maybe they did and slapped the name on iMovie Pro while trashing Color and Soudntrack.

Magic Bullet Suite 11 Out, Cool Demo Video

I have MB Suite 10, I"m gonna update.

Here is their new demo, and its totally not what you'd expect in a product demo because there's not a screen shot of AE or a NLE to be found :). Its well shot, well written and fun ! and it looks like it had a little help from their friends.

FCP7 Won't Work on OS X Lion :UPDATED

If you think apple's blunder doesn't get any bigger, now this just in from an apple rep speaking at a client demo of FCP X "FCP7 "does run under Lion".

This just has to be their biggest foul up ever. I think they'll probably be forced into making FCP 7 run under Lion if they expect to keep market share because Lion has some great features people just want, or you can just switch to something else.

UPDATE ; Now apple says on their FCP X Faq page, it will... 

Sign The Petiion To Apple : FCP is NOT a Pro App

Online petition to apple :

 

To:  Apple, Inc.

We, both the editors and affected filmmakers who rely on Final Cut Pro as a crucial business tool, do so in the same way Photoshop, Maya, Pro Tools, and other industry-standard applications are relied on by leading post-production environments. Many have invested hundreds of thousands (some even millions) of dollars in creating Final Cut Pro based companies. These are now threatened by a "prosumer-grade" product upgrade of Final Cut Pro 7 titled "Final Cut Pro X," and will likely put several of these companies out of business. The costly process of migrating studio hardware and software is a major burden, especially on studios that have made recent upgrades to support Final Cut Pro. If many had known of the Final Cut Pro X release prior to investing in expensive hardware and software licenses, most, if not all, would have sought alternative solutions. 


A large corporation such as Apple, Inc. should not make "revolutionary" paradigm-shifting changes to software which can be referred to as "industry-standard". This is unfair to workers who rely on Final Cut Pro as a business tool and will devastate the Final Cut Pro community. Many editors have relied on the software since its first release and supported Apple through both the hard and easy times. Apple Inc. now has over $75 billion in assets and does not need to risk the livelihoods of its professional customers by silently discontinuing "Final Cut Pro" instead of selling it to a company willing to support working film, tv, and advertising industry professionals. 

We, the Final Cut Pro community, hereby request that: 

1. Final Cut Studio 3 is immediately reinstated, supported, and referred to as Apple's "professional grade" editing application. 
2. Final Cut Pro is restored under a new name with the functionality and user interface of Final Cut Pro 7. 
3. Final Cut Pro X is to be considered part of the iMovie family or labeled a "prosumer" product. 

OR, 

1. The source code to Final Cut Pro 7 is auctioned or sold to a third-party by January 1, 2012.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

Coming Up

Now that things have calmed down a little with work I'm back to be working on some new video reviews. i'm trying to get my hands on a FS100 and we'll see how that goes.  I'll also take a look at some Tamron glass as an alternative to EOS glass.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What did you do this weekend ? Does the gear realy matter /

Did  you shoot something cool ?  did you just take time off ? or where you stuck working on something uninteresting ?

For me I took time off, but still made a few great images. I snapped this on my iPhone, yet again proof that you don't need the super best camera / lens / whatever to get something good. I saw the shot coming, grabbed the iphone and had it up just in time as the current carried my thru the shot. Being as they say, "situationally aware" totally counts. I wasn't looking for a great image, but saw it coming and got it.

 Perhaps this summer it should be a time to do one of those inspirational projects you've always wanted to do but just haven't. Lets face it, gear is not a problem. Even an older HV30 or other small camera that shoots to card or hard drive can be stuck in your pocket. A FlipCam or GoPro works great for the right shot. There are lots of ways of easily getting good images these days that don't cost very much.

 I've made some great images on an iPhone simply because its always with me. How about just carrying around your small camera everyday? Maybe think of the theme for the week, and just look for little shots to put it together. Maybe you can  just let inspiration come from what surrounds you. Just getting one shot and filling in around it will work. That of course means putting yourself out of your comfort zone a little, and pulling that camera out to get a shot. Once you do it a couple of times, its easy. I didn't get a 180 degree rainbow shot by sitting around in the office. I knew it was raining, the sun was out in the right position, and 2 minutes later, I had one of those once or twice in a lifetime shots. So don't let something good slip by this summer, go out and do something !

 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

MXO2 Drivers Updated This Week

Matrox has new MXO2 drivers out this week. Whats been added ? improved support for CS5.5 exporting : presets for AME and the direct export dialog in Prem Pro. Matrox.com/video

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FCP X Non Review : The Day After and the Sky Isn't Falling

There is a LOT of over reaction right now about project / XML import. apple has been clear its coming, and given the uproar, probably REAL soon.  this is OS X 10.0, which was more an experimental / beta release then anything else. then 10.1 got better, faster, and finally 10.2 was usable for everyday work. I remember those transition days.  How many of you remember starting up 10.0 and poking around, looking for apps that worked, ect ? There was a lot of the same fallout back then, but look where things have gone.

 
Apple hasn't left everyone high and dry. FCP7 will continue to work while you can start learning X.  There is a lot of great stuff in X if you look, like color's CC tools, AV foundation that makes the app faster, a better TL model, ect. 
 
Acting like this is the end of the world, your NLE just stopped working is silly. It all still works fine, in fact X and 7 will happily coexists  on the same system w/o any hassles like dual boot ( except BETA AJA drivers  right now ).
 
X is about new world workflow - tapeless to web or file delivery. That is in fact most of my work now, tape is very much the exception for input or output. 
 
So relax, by the time X.1 is out, XML input will at least be there, as will a FCP7 -> FCP X XML translator, all your plugins will be updated, ect. Apple has been clear to some people they are going to address the major short comings, so lets give them a little room to do so.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

FCP X Released

FCP X is also finally out. I win my bet. Maybe the big deal it seems is that Color's tools have been rolled into FCP. That one feature is probably worth using FCP X for. There is no mention of Color as a standalone app anymore. Thats too bad since its still a great fast app,. but grading within the NLE is better. Throw in background processing too on rendering.

FCP X is STILL limited to 4K resolution. That doesn't fly anymore for a lot of folks. How well their color management works is yet to be seen once you need to round trip with apps like AE. I'm sure we'll here all about it over the next few days.

Motion and Compressor are $49.95 add ons, but who cares about motion anyway.

Am I buying ? not sure yet. One part is if I get more then one install the way Lion works. $299 for one machine is ok, but I have 3 macs right now, so $1k is another entire story for a try it and see app right now. More as we get there.

---- The Bad ----

FCP X can not read FCP 7 project files. a real WTF moment to be sure. perhaps using FCP7 -> Automatic duck export to AAF and then using AD in FCP X to read it back in AAF-> FCP you can do it. Its a $500 fix. 

No XML I/O

Tape support is limited to FW based devices. There is no 422 / Timecode support for capture or output, only a dumb output mode hit record on the VTR, hit play in FCP. 

Batch recapture from tape is not supported.

Monday, June 20, 2011

FCP X Tues ? ( Today )

Well bets are on for FCP X today Tuesday. Standing by..... if I'm wrong, next Tues. Do I personally have inside info on this ? no.

Do I have a very good track record on stuff like this :)...  I did predict Apple would take over the FCP Super Meet @ NAB and everyone said no way, history proved me right. Lets see if I can get another one right :)

Working This Week : SD in a HD World

I got to do another NFL shoot at Lambeau FIeld. We fed SD for HD broadcast. Thats right, SD went up for PiP inserts. No need for HD,

That all said, I did get to light up a landmark statue while the anchor reported. I hit the statue with a 575 HMI while the talent was lit up with a LED light using 6 AA's. The camera was an ancient D30 with a PVV-3 back.

 

 

 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yet Another Stupid DSLR Product

I'm going to add a new category to this site : Stupid DSLR Stuff.  Just when you think you've seen either every overpriced piece of gear, or just plain stupidly designed piece of gear that some one thinks slapping dslr onto the name will make it sell :

 

Ok, this is a peice of spring steel bent in a loop to grab the focus ring. I guess these guys have NEVER seen all the other focus levers that are out there, and have been for maybe the last 100 years. There is nothing to patent here guys, there is so much prior art here is isn't funny. This isn't a follow focus, you're not fooling anyone. Call it what it is, a focus assist lever.

Asus P246Q 10 Bit Extra RED Monitor

Here is a pic of the monitor thats been giving me so much grief. This is how its been looking although the iPhone camera did blow out the highlights completely. The image is still more then good enough to illustrate just how red this monitor is and is accurate that way. This shows the screen after I had been adjusting it for the better part of two weeks. 

Today however, I did finally fix it by working on the red axis saturation control, as well as the red gain and other controls. The axis control really brought this monitor into looking, can I dare say, pretty good ? What I still do see is that this screen had a bright high gamma in the upper end making the brights look a  bit brighter then they should. This I can deal with using either the mac screen calibration tools,  probably the Spyder3 Elite or if I'm using it, the Matrox MXO2's output calibration setup.

Tomorrow if I can get a few minutes, I'll post the settings from the Asus user config color settings which should be able to get you into the same ball park. 

 

red asus monitor 10 bit LCD display

Monday, June 13, 2011

PNY is offering $100-$300 Rebates on Quadro cards

You read this right, get $100 off of a Mac Version or PC Version of the Quadro 4000 card wtih 2G of VRAM. That brings the actual price down to an amazing $650 ! The older Quadro 4800 which was a real industry workhorse was ( still is ) around $1600. Here is a Link to the PDF Rebate Form for the deal that is good until July 31st. If you use the links here, this site will earn a tiny commission to help pay for things like our web hosting.

OS X Lion to Drop PowerPC ( 604/G3/G4/G5) Support

Coming out of news of Beta builds of OS X Lion aka 10.7, Roestta the PPC emulator is going away.  Its been five years since PPC processor support had gone away in terms of the OS running natively on it. This probably doesn't effect most users, but if you have been nursing Combustion V2 or V3 along, well no more. Combustion V4 is intel compatible, but EOL'd this year to no one's suprise. So if you have any PPC apps you still have in use, time to upgrade, or create a dual boot machine with 10.6 on one side and 10.7 on the other. Unless you really really really need to use that old app so badly, time to let it go. This is of course history repeating itself when apple went from 68000 series processors to PPC and used emulation to make that bridge too.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Final Cut Pro X Screen Shots Leaked - Color Correction

So far for me, FCP went out to the curb about a year ago because of its various failings and limitations. One of them was color correction. Now it looks like maybe apple gets it. Dig these - secodaries that look a lot like what you had to buy colorista II to get. Don't get me wrong, Colorista II and Looks from Red Giant rules for in NLE CC work. However, both are slow - as in while their OGL rendering can get you chunky playback at 1/2 res and maybe 1/2 frame rate, I'm guessing FCP X's CC will be full res and full frame rate. Apple has had to get their butts kickec with Prem Pro's CUDA hardware acceleration, so I'm sure they have been working on it the same way. FCP has had hardware acceleration using the GPU for several generations, but maybe apple will take it to a new level.

FCP X secondary color correction

 

To see more, the shots can be found on Flickr

What does this  mean ? Apple is feeding the PR mania machine and that we'll see a release in the next week or so, on or before June 21.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Site Updates

If you take a look thru the menu's you'll find I've updated them to make finding the most important content easier. Reviews, DIY fixes under tutorials. I've also made some other cosmetic updates, and will be making a few more like a wider page.

Do you like the redone side bar now ? I'm still messing with it a bit, but its close I think. 

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Kenko 1.4X Teleconverter Review

I know I never seem to have a long enough lens, even with a 400mm monster in my case. My next shorter lens is a 70-200 2.8 Tamron, which again I always seem to want a little more reach with. Enter the 1.4X converter. this turns 200mm into 280mm of reach. The trade off is a 1 stop light loss, and some image degradation according to the pixel peepers. 

Keno 1.4X tele converter DGX
 
Now you've probably never heard of Kenko, or at best passed the name by as some low quality brand. The fact is the converter appears to be identical to the Tamron converter except in color and price. A number of still shooter sites had good things to say about the Kenko, but of course until you have a unit in hand, you never know.
 
There are at least 3 versions of Kenko's 1.4 Converter. The newest model is the Kenko C-AF 1.4X DGX Pro 300 converter version which is a 7 element converter.  This is the top of the line unit, with a price to match. There is an older DG model, and there is a the MC4 model which is a 4 element version which is about $110 cheaper. The DGX and DG are 7 element converters which offer better quality and ideally the one you want. 
 
 
Kenko 1.4X C-AF teleplus pro 300

 

The Good

The Kenko is a nice small compact unit. You can easily carry it in your pocket for when you need to travel light and fast, but could use some extra reach. It has a full set of contacts to pass thru lens control to the camera body. With several lenses I tried, it also seems to add exposure compensation so that a mounted 2.8 lens will read 4.0. This is a very cool feature to have, especially for shooting stills. Autofocus works when shooting stills.  I won't offer any comments on focus speed and accuracy because its not something I've used very much so far. When shooting video I'd never be using AF even if it was an option. The converter does work provided the lens you put on doesn't put you below 5.6 where the AF system won't work.

The canon converter as I mentioned only works with longer lenses, but the Kenko will work on anything you can mount to it. I've used my Tamron 17-50 2.8 on it with success creating a 24-70 F4 lens. The Tamron 17-50 2.8 also continued to have its super close focusing as well. This is so handy when you need a little more reach and can live with the light loss of 1 stop. With the converter my 50 1.4 OM is now a 70 F2.0Kenko does recommend using the converter on longer lenses only, but the bottom line is if it works and the image quality is ok, who cares.
 
The canon 1.4X extender of excellent optical quality has a serious limitation :  its front element sticks out past the front of the lens mount. It is really only designed to work with long canon glass like the 300 2.8, 70-200 2.8 and bigger. If you wanted to get about 70mm from your 50mm by adding the extender, well thats not happening. With the canon they just won't fit together without hitting glass elements each other, thats if they would even mount together at all. Its a bit surprising that canon has not changed this design with a model III unit, but I guess they wanted the absolute best performance with their long lenses. Just as note, the canon comes in model II and model ( more expensive ) III.  Maybe if you are a working pro photog competing with 20 other shooters to sell the same shot, the ( I'm sure ) every so slightly sharper canon might possibly be your edge... except 15 of the other shooters probably have one too. I don't have a canon 800mm L lens here to see if it that makes a difference either, but if you can afford one of those lenses, then this extender isn't even sales tax on the big lens.
 
Canon 1.4X extender II
 
 
The Optical Quality
 
Tamron 70-200 2.8 Kenko 1.4X DGX resolution chart
Tamron 70-200 2.8 @ F4 + Kenko 1.4X DGX TelePlus Pro 300 - click on image for larger version
 
Alright, this is the question that got you to read this  most likely, so lets get to it !
 
The optical quality of the Kenko is dead on awesome. With my tests, both stills and video, there was no way to tell it was in use. Maybe this means I needed to test harder to see the difference that should be there. I shot my tests with a Tamron 70-200 2.8 which is an excellent optical performer on par with the canon 70-200 2.8L II. I have no question that using this unit is not doing any harm to your image sharpness that anyone will even see including the even the pixel peepers. Well that is to say unless all you do is shoot resolution charts all day long perfectly. My image chart tests revealed nothing, or should I say no noticeable loss when shooting with a 60D. This is a crop sensor camera so its using the best part of the converter's image. You MIGHT find a 5D there is some softness on the edges, or not. 
 
My test results where consistent in both shooting stills and video of test charts.
 
Shooting some real world video on real shoots, the 1.4X performed perfectly. The shots I got from it I could not tell were taken with the converter, it except I already new. With some lenses, you may need to open them up a stop since not all lenses will talk to the camera body thru the converter correctly. Most of my lenses did ok.
 
All the online reviews I read put this right up against the canon for image quality, except of course the canon costs a good deal more. I'm going to say yes its true this is a great converter that will keep even the very picky happy.
 
 

Optical Quirks

 
This is the slippery slope where it gets more interesting. One thing I found is that when using a zoom like the 17-50 Tamron, focus changed between focal lengths. If I focused at 50mm, then pulled back to 35 or 24, the image got soft. I had to refocus at that focal length. This isn't the end of the world, but it is something have drilled into your head when shooting in fast moving situations - focus focus focus ! Don't zoom in focus and then pull back with the converter mounted, you have to use the camera's image zoom function to check critical focus.
 
I also found the 70-200 also exhibited this quirk. Its not the end of the world, but it is something to be on your toes about. 
 

The Bad

 
Are there any downsides to this unit ? Well all 1.4X converters cause a 1 stop light loss, so I can't complain here. There is probably one thing I will complain about, and its the front lens mount on the converter. When a lens is mounted to the converter, there can by a little bit of play in the mount. The mounted lens may have some wiggle. Its very small, but its there. This wiggle so far has not caused me any problems that I can tell, and may represent the only thing there the canon might beat this one out. I think this is a minor problem for the cost vs the great optical quality of the unit.
 

Monday, June 06, 2011

DIY Quick Fixes For Your Busted Letus Hawk

 

For $400, ( Ok, B&H has them on special for $349 ) none of what I'm going to reveal next should be needed. The repairs I've done and problems I've had are to be expected from something at maybe 1/3 of the price where you can say " well it was cheap, and the fix wasn't bad, some I'm ok with it."
 
When I first got the Letus Hawk LCD Viewfinder Loupe, the mounting holes stripped out. The inserts in the very sexy carbon fibre body are soft steel. My next replacement had ok inserts, but some weird blob, probably fungus developed on the inside of the lens. Ok, third time is a charm, right ? Well yes, for a while. 
 
After a bit of use, the hex screws came loose. I tightened them, and one of them stripped out again. This time, I just wasn't in the mood to exchange the unit again, even if it is covered under warranty. Instead I realized that since the bracket design was flawed, I needed to come up with a better idea. The fix was very simple, epoxy. Given that the body is carbon fibre, its made of either polyester or epoxy resin. Epoxy will stick to either very well, and I had some good quality epoxy that dried glossy black. 
 
letus hawk busted broken epoxy fix for stripped screws bolts
 
First I cleaned up the hood body by wiping it off with paint thinner, and letting that completely evaporate. Next I actually glued the rubber gasket on using ACC ( crazy glue ) by running the glue around the inside of the rubber bumper. I slipped the bumper onto the loupe body and this just isn't going anywhere. 
 
Next in the area where the metal bracket meets the loupe body, I sanded that area a bit to improve the bonding area.
 
I slid the loupe bracket into its socket on the camera, and made sure it was sitting the way its supposed to, and then placed the loupe itself on the LCD screen in proper alignment.
 
Finally I mixed up the epoxy, about a teaspoon's worth, and applied on the area where the bracket mounts to the loupe body. The epoxy I had was very thick, and I applied a pretty small amount to just cover the immediate bonding area. Since I was working above the actual camera LCD screen I was being super careful about not dripping or squeezing out any epoxy onto the screen surface. 
 
letus hawl LCD VF Viewfinder bracket fix
 
 I then screwed in the two screws, each with some epoxy on their shafts. Even though one was stripped out, it still gave me some grab, and the steel pin glued in place doesn't hurt anything. 
 
With the remaining epoxy, I globbed it on and around the metal bracket and out onto the loupe body for additional bonding area. I also got epoxy into the screw slots in the bracket to again help with getting  the best bond I could. Epoxy does have body strength and I was just taking advantage of it. 
 
I let it dry over night, and so far, so good. It looks like I'll now have a solid dependable connection that isn't letting go all the time. Sure its hard to design small reliable brackets likes this, but this is old ground in engineering. The answer is simple : hardened steel or stainless steel, not the cheap soft steel screws and inserts that are currently used. Also, if you haven't yet stripped out your screws ( it takes 2-3 adjustments to do so in my experience ) you can add a #4 washer ( read really small ) between the screw and the bracket. This will stop the bracket from moving away from the camera when you tighten it the one or two times that you can.
 
So my word to Letus is : get some hardened stainless steel bolts and inserts, or just change the mount completely… please ! the great optics deserve a better mounting system.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Seeing Red

Red is the problem for me. It seems other colors aren't so bad, but looking at screens, red on one is orange on the other. I'm thinking maybe this gradient chart might do folks better. I should make up a complete set of mix and match gradients to see how monitors are really reproducing color. When you have plain old bars up, even when you do see a difference, its often far greater in a real picture. So I have my work for tomorrow to be sure. 

 

red color gradients