24
Apr
15

Additional notes on my Cine Style Pofile

The Marvels Cine Style Profile for Canon DSLR is free to use (also professionally/commercially) and to share, with the sole exception that you may not charge money for it.

If you like the free Marvels profile, we invite you to make a small donation via PayPal by clicking the link below. This is voluntary and much appreciated ;-)

Each year around the 23th of December, i donate at least 50% of my yearly “picture style income” to charity, via eBay GivingWorks and  (previousely) eBay MissionFish. Between 2011 and 2015 i donated 554 dollars to 4 different charity projects, thanks to your generous donations.

Donate HERE by PayPal or Creditcard if you use our Picture Style.

It’ll be well spent!

Martin

22
Apr
15

“Marvels Cinestyle for Canon cameras” page has been updated

I have updated the Cinestyle page with new download links and extra info.

You’ll find it at the top of this blog under “marvels cine for canon dslr“.

Another good read on the subject is “Installing Canon Picture Styles for Dummies” (no offence ;-)

Do not forget to read the original article (with the Phil Holland tests) “Finally, the new marvels cine profile 3-x for canon dslr“.

Cheers!
Martin.

17
Apr
15

Blackmagic cameras stuck / dead pixels problem: no solution offered!

Blackmagic Design has launched and promotes it’s 4K “Production Camera” as a professional camera for professional cinema production. That you can’t expect the world from a 3K US$ camera; i totally agree, but selling a camera under that flag, with an inferior image sensor is – at the least –  an insult to professional filmmakers and everyone else who has spent his or her savings on the “BMPC”.

What is the problem here? It’s simple… Every BMPC has clusters of dead or stuck pixels, that show up as specks on the image. Some cameras have a few, but EVERY camera i personally tested had dozens of stuck pixels.The pixels can have any shade of gray or appear colored. The intensity of stuck pixels can be anything from black to full 100% IRE.

All BMPCs i’ve either owned, rented or lent had a few defective pixels with an intensity that made them show up in the picture, even if well exposed – e.g. full daylight and at the standard 400ISO. Stuck pixels like that will be visible in lower-mid ranges of the image. Because those pixels have a fixed position: the larger the screen, the more obvious they become in moving images.

I have recently screened a test DCP at a local cinema, where the stuck pixels showed up as little holes in the projection screen. Around four of the stuck pixels in my BMPC show up in low-mid skintones (approx. 30-50% gray) and are easily recognizable on any monitor or TV set.

Is the BMPC the only camera that has a sensor behaving like this? No! Even the Alexa and the Red Epic Dragon have many stuck or dead pixels. Why don’t we see them? Because these cameras use a technique called Black Shading or Defective Pixel Mapping, where a dark image is analyzed and misbehaving pixels are marked as “don’t show this one, copy it’s values from a neighbor”. Blackmagic Design cameras are lacking this option, or – at least – it’s not working well.

Blackmagic Design is not very supportive, does not recognize the problem and is very secretive about the whole subject.

Claims are denied, questions are not answered. If you inquire about pixel mapping in their cameras, or ask when such pixel mapping will be incorporated in an upcoming firmware release, you’ll get either ignored or receive a standard answer, along the lines of “send us the camera and we will investigate” – conveniently avoiding a decent answer.

People who have sent their cameras in, did either got their camera returned in the exact same condition or received a new camera that had the same problem, only with the same kind of stuck pixels in different places.

Some people report that the stuck pixels get worse or less worse over time, when the sensor heats up during use. That makes things even worse and makes the sensor totally deserves the title “loose canon“.

I was planning to shoot a documentary feature with the BMPC. I bought the camera in november 2014. Since then there was not a single firmware update that addressed the BMPC. So there is no solution offered by Blackmagic Design and i find that extremely disappointing AND has made me decide NOT to use the BMPC. Period.

Black Magic has a whole range of automatic answer emails present if you complain about this issue. One of their standard defenses is claiming that the have told you that the BMPC is not a low-light camera. First of all, nobody told me, (on the contrary: during IBC 2014 the BMPC was hyped to me as a true Scarlet replacement – LOL) but this has nothing to do with it. Defective pixels appear in well lit 400ISO pictures. ALWAYS. Each picture – even with minimal contrast – has gradients from dark to light, right? So does Black Magic Design mean that i should only shoot bright scenes and objects? Don’t be ridiculous!

Dear Black Magic Design, you sold me a “production camera” that is lacking basic pixel mapping in it’s software. Even low budget and outdated cameras such as the Panasonic GH2 have this functionality.
Please, either refund my camera or fix the issue. Stop hiding behind default excuses and requesting investigation, because we all already know what the problem is.

If you Google on the subject, or browse Youtube, Vimeo or their own BM forum, you will find A LOT of unhappy BMPC owners with the same problem or worse (even though Black Magic Design claims the problem doesn’t exist).

DO NOT believe any article that claims to have a method of removing the stuck pixels! Some people claim that rolling back and re-installing firmware versions fix the problem. It’s nonsense and probably has to do with the heating up of the sensor during the “fixing ” process.

Before you all go out buying the new Blackmagic Design Ursa camera (4K sensor), you will encounter the same problem. The 4k version of the camera (the only one you can probably afford) has the same sensor and the same problem. Ursa users are equally flabbergasted that their cameras have stuck pixels and no decent pixel mapping; and that for a camera that sells for double the price of a BMPC!

To conclude… I am a cameraman for around thirty years now and i have never been more disappointed about a camera, and i have owned quite a few! It’s the arrogance and total lack of support from the manufacturer that pisses me off. Calling this device a Production Camera is absolutely bollocks

I hope Blackmagic Design comes up with a solution between now and a month or two max, and restore my faith in their product(s). I was informed about the new upcoming Ursa models long before anyone else, but i still decided to give the BMPC a change last november, because i have a job to do! I was planning on buying an Ursa later this year, but the experience with the BMPC has changed my mind – for now…

Martin.

Tags: #bmpc #bmc4k #blackmagic #ursa @BlackMagic_BMD #pixels

(Ps. this is a general example of the stuck pixels problem in the BMPC. Footage is not my own. I have lost the energy and appetite to do more tests and publish my own findings here for now.)

General example of stuck pixels General example of stuck pixels

11
Apr
15

Sharing of piracy-sensitive movie files

We have been sending trailers, teasers, test-DCPs, DVD-masters, dailies, and all other kinds of copyrighted materials – that are very interesting to pirates and other evil geniuses – through services such as WeTransfer, DropBox, Rapidshare,  Sharefile and others. Without worrying about who else might eventually gets included in the sharing.

After some uncomfortable encounters with DropBox, we recently had some problems with sharing files through WeTransfer, when links were shared by the addressee with a third party, without consent.

I know, it’s not the WeTransfer service that is to blame, but the “circle of trust” which is constantly broken by seemingly trustworthy contacts.

We have found a solution for this, enhancing the security a bit, by using a new Dutch file-sharing service (and previous in-house development of Marvels Media) that let you share files up to 2gb per day and forward the link to the files via e-mail and (on mobiles) WhatsApp. This service differs from the other services, because they offer a “destroy after first download” function. Combined with password protection, this provides us with a long sought for  “this message will auto-destruct after reading” functionality. WeTransfer and Mega only provide a password protection function, and then for paid subscribers only. Furthermore, files are stored by their secured (https) servers in an encrypted state.

The URL is https://bestandje.nl and the only drawback is that the site is in Dutch (EN language coming up) – but it’s all pretty self-explanatory. You’ll get the general idea, because the interface resembles WeTransfer and other services alike.
The only problem might be the e-mail that is received by the addressee – which is in Dutch too. The easy work-around is choosing “Link” instead of “Mail” in the settings (cog-wheel symbol) and mail the link yourself.

But… if you share files 1:1 with people you know and expect a file, this service is absolutely top for one-time sharing of sensitive files. There is an iOS and Android app, and i’m almost confident that there will be an English version soon…

Another interesting fact (if you’re on mobile or install their app) is the option to send links through WhatsApp, that lets you share and send massive amounts of pictures and movies with a few clicks. They also have found a ingenious way to launch their app directly from their Facebook page (https://facebook.com/bestandje).

Cheers!

Martin.

Beste site om veel grote files te delen die te groot zijn via email, bestandje.nl

25
Oct
14

I downgraded from Red Scarlet MX to Blackmagic Production Camera, but it feels like an upgrade!

Martin Beek https://livecrew.nl I’ve thought long and hard about my next move, camera-wise. My Red Scarlet MX was eligible for upgrading to an Epic for 9000US$, or upgrading to a Scarlet Dragon for 9500US$. I paid a small fortune for my Scarlet and adding another 9 grand meant that i could’ve better bought an Epic in the first place. IMHO, not much of a deal or “gesture” to Scarlet owners.

I decided eventually to sell the Scarlet now it’s still worth a few bucks. Emphasizing on “a few”.
I had to let it go a few weeks ago for 7200 euros including a cage, Redmote, two 64gb SSDs, 5″ LCD, sideSSD, etc.; the complete scarlet package plus tophandle and cage. That amount of money is peanuts, but hey, you know that it devaluates starting day one.

I decided to “downgrade” to a 3000US$ Blackmagic production camera, forMartin Beek https://livecrew.nl https://livecrew.nl/martinbeek having a camera around the place and have something to play with during the fall and winter. Bought myself a great Sigma 18-35 1.8 zoom and a cage with handles plus three 500GB SSDs. Still had enough money left to buy some extra audio gear, Vmount batteries and pay a few months of mortgage for the house! ;-)

I thought i’d bought Martin’s next plaything and considered it to be a downgrade just to please my desire to own a camera.
I was almost shocked to learn that the 3000$ silly looking package produced way sharper and detailed images that my Red scarlet ever did! It has roughly the same dynamic range and s/n ratio, but seems to reveal much more micro-detail instead of bags of noise when blowing images up to 200%. VERY VERY IMPRESSIVE!

https://livecrew.nl/martinbeek Martin Beek https://livecrew.nl I shoot 24p exclusively in 4K on any camera – i rent highspeed cameras when i need them. So the Blackmagic production camera is a gift from heaven to indie filmmakers. For the price of renting a Red (don’t you ever think of buying one!) you can buy two or three BMPCs !!!  And, just to make this clear, i am not paid of sponsored by BM to tell you this! ;-)

I’ll definitely shoot my next feature on multiple BMPCs, i swear!

Cons?

  • It needs bags of light (so buy a speedbooster or <=1.8 lens)
  • 400 ASA natively: use a ND filter and don’t switch to 200ASA (limiting DR)
  • 800 ASA is too noisy, just stick with the 400 ASA and crank the exposure up in post; it’ll look great!
  • No white balance. Just a range of Kelvins to choose from. Shoot a color card or WB card and adjust in post.
  • Internal battery wears down just below one hour. Buy one medium sized Vmount battery and you’re good for hours.
  • The BM CINEMADNG Raw codec is HUGE and will slurp your precious SSD gigabytes before you know it.
    BM HAS to device a way to adjust the compression level of the codec or come-up with something new, because this data-rate is outrageous. Recording just 12 minutes on a 500GB ssd is something i can NOT live with. Imagine shooting a feature film with this… My storage and backup costs would go through the roof! The Red Scarlet recorded 34 minutes of full 4K with low compression (1:6) on a 64GB ssd !

DSC_0133Pros?

  • Lightweight form factor, though very well build metal design – feels solid
  • Record prores and raw (Cinema DNG)
  • Super 35mm large sensor, great filmic shallow DOF with the right lenses
  • Comes with a fully licensed version of DaVinci Resolve (including dongle)!
  • Very nice skin color representation and silky smooth light transitions (just a personal / subjective opinion)
  • Low (audible) noise
  • full Canon EF lens communication and LANC (BeBop lanc controller will even control focus)
  • 4K SDI out
  • 12-35 volt input, so hookup any juice that doesn’t kill you ;-)
  • Easy operation, easy menu’s

DSC_0130

My next project… Taking a scene shot with my Scarlet, and repeating it with the same lens on the same location and under the same lighting conditions and show you the difference!
Shooting some hi-contrast winter footage with the BMPC!

Cheers!
Martin.

21
Apr
14

Update on file encryption and data security

CYPHR free file encryption softwareI have updated my article on how to fight piracy and data-theft.

The CYPHR software for PC and Mac is now freeware!! The makers of the software have released the program as freeware as a gift to the infosec community – an event also filmmakers can profit from!

Provost CYPHR is still the cheapest (free) and most advanced (“NSA-proof”) file encryption software on the market.
We @ Marvels use it to encrypt and store our project backups and the DCPs, DPX/Tiff sequences, dailies and all other stuff we sent out to other companies.

Grab your free copy and license from provost-intel.org/CYPHR

21
Apr
14

Martin says: ditch that Dropbox!

FLAME MODE: ON   ;-)

Ditch Dropbox - problems with dropboxA message to all the people i’ve invited to dropbox over the years: LEAVE DROPBOX NOW – they are unreliable, unpredictable and ungrateful! They have lousy encryption and privacy measures, they team up with the NSA and they have VERY DANGEROUS SMALL PRINT.

Over the years i have advised over one hundred people to start using Dropbox. Dropbox has rewarded me for forwarding new customers with free storage space.

Dropbox seemed a great tool to share footage, titles, short sequences, scripts and other portable stuff.

But…

A WARNING: FREE SPACE ON DROPBOX WILL EXPIRE!!!
Today dropbox wrote me a four sentence email, saying that all my earned free space has expired and reduced my dropbox by 96GB, going back to the basic dropbox size!!

Without warning and without me knowing that “reward storage” expires. Files are no longer synced and about 6,000 files have become frozen.

A one-liner from Dropbox was received as an answer, saying that i should’ve read the small print…

I think this is outrageous and i have QUIT DROPBOX as per today and i advise everyone to do so too.

I’ve switched to a paid Google Drive account (half the price of a paid Dropbox account).


Martin




twitter.com/martinbeek

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