Posts Tagged ‘ex1


Our latest short “Free Fall” now full length and HD on YouTube

Youtube has updated our account to “no limits”, so we at Marvels Film were finally able to upload our 43 gig, 25 minute, 1080p short movie “Free Fall” (Dutch: Vrije Val). Winner of the Audience Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Movie Awards 2010.

Free Fall is a short silent movie – music only – about HIV, Aids and prejudice. For this indie production we used a mix of Sony PMW-EX1 with RedrockMicro DOF adapter,  PMW-EX3 and Canon 7D footage.

Website: (English and Dutch)



Sold my Canon 7D: explaining why…

After some consideration during spring 2010, i decided to stop DSLR video shooting – despite some serious investments in gear and paraphernalia – and return to HD videocamera shooting, using a DOF convertor to taste. For the latter my tools of trade remain the Sony XDCAM-EX, 35mm DOF adapter, Zeiss prime lenses, SmallHD DP1x, Convergent Design Nanoflash, et cetera…

I have been a film cameraman all my life and i’m used to heavy duty cameras with ditto tools. The flimsy and fragile DSLR lenses and focussing, in combination with the clumsy camera design and total lack of control (maybe with the exception of using the Magic Lantern software on the 5DmkII) and lack of a proper viewfinder, made me decide to take my losses and drop the 7D. DSLR cameras are NOT video cameras (yet). They are a gimmick and most of all just still cameras. I still find the amount of compression and micro-blocking artifacts due to downscaling on the Bayer-filter imaging element unbearable, specially when used for blowup to 2K cinema format. There is no “raw” SDI-like output.

I was saving up money to buy the Scarlet by Red, that was announced Spring of four preceding years in a row 😉 When it’s release was delayed again this spring, i decided to just be patient, confident and satisfied with the gear i already owned and spent my money on other more important things.

The XDCam-EX / Nanoflash / DOF adapter / Zeiss lenses combo gives me perfect and professional control over image, depth of field, video signal and exposure. The HD signal is much much cleaner, specially when blown-up for 2K cinema use, and provides me with an outstanding Film Look.

Because the 7D was on the shelf catching dust for over half a year already, i decided to sell it. I don’t feel sorry – not even for the financial loss. I only feel stupid; that i’ve allowed myself being swept away with the whole DSLR hype, with some prominent international filmmakers in the lead. – read updated article above –

DSLR filming = Low Budget. Let’s not forget that and let’s see what the future brings.

Martin Beek.


Sony releases new firmware for PWM-EX1 (Europe)

Sony Europe has released a new firmware for the European models

Direct download without login:


Added optimised picture profile for Sony XDCam EX cameras, for use with Tiffen T1 IR filter

Thanks to the co-operation of Barry Johnson and Bart Keimen, i have been able to test and adjust my recently published picture profile. I have split the profile in two separate profiles; a standard and a “Tiffen” profile.

The picture profile optimises the XDCam EX cameras for use with DOF 35mm adapters and, optionally, the specialised Tiffen IR contamination filter.
The profile is applicable for all XDCam EX cameras, such as the EX-1, EX-3,  EX1-R and the 350.

Read the updated article here.


Sony XDCAM-EX sharpening without coarsening the image

As you might have discovered in my EX-1 picture profile settings (read this article), i use a pretty clever sharpening that does a great job in bringing out the detail without creating video-like halos and other artifacts.

Alister Chapman has elaborated on this, as well as Sony in their February publication “Improving Picture Sharpness without Coarsening the Image”. This interesting PDF explains in detail (pun not intended) how to adjust the crispening seting to obscure noise in under-exposed areas. The Sony PDF can be downloaded here:

Alister has written an excellent article on the matter here:

There is also a nice suggestion to reduce the greenish hue that is trademark of the XDCAM-EX cameras… Visit Alister’s site !

I will experiment with adding a crispening setting to my current detail settings. Also will overhaul the current EX-1 picture profile; hope to publish that here soon..




March Hardware Testdrive on My Quest for the Perfect DOF adapter, and the Redrock Encore!

A story one year in the making…

Marvels film - Redrock Encore 35mm adapter This month’s Hardware Testdrive is different from the previous articles. This special edition is a summary and a wrap-up of one year of shooting “digital film” using the Sony EX-1 HD camera with the Redrock Encore. A wonderful experience and example rendition of the nearly-elusive filmlook. This all for the Dutch short movie “Vrije Val“, formerly known as “Birth of a Song”. A story about HIV, Aids and prejudice.

For this production we wanted to render the film look as good as it gets; being filmmakers used working with s-35 and s-16mm film-stock, we had some tough requirements for this new digital film phenomenon…

These included:

This article also tells the story of my quest for finding the perfect DOF adapter, that has not only cost me dearly, but also got me a few extra gray hairs…

Read it here on !


The one and definitive FCP HD to SD downconversion method


During our summer recess, i have been experimenting with getting our 1080p HD footage on a standard DVD. This is a HUGE issue and, i assure you, extremely frustrating!

Take that load off your shoulders, throw off your shackles, quit on that Prozac, and follow my workflow to get the best HD to SD conversion possible by software. And… it even beats expensive hardware solutions, but that’s my humble opinion.


If you read the many threads on the subject on websites such as DVForum, Creative Cow and the numerous sites dedicated to FCP editing, you’ll get an impression of the frustration that people are experiencing with this issue. I myself tried a number of work flows and methods to get our Sony EX1 and EX3 HD footage to look good on a DVD, without much avail. You can paste a HD edit into a SD sequence, you can export using either Compressor, After effects and other non-Adobe tools. You can resize and sharpen each frame separately using Photoshop and one can use expensive hardware converters…  But each time i burned a DVD and watched it on a normal consumer Plasma television, i was disappointed with the results. The difference in quality compared with other DVDs was significant.

The well known problems are:

  • sharpness -> footage is as blurry as hell; did i buy a HD camera to end up with this crap?!
  • jaggies and noise-> if sharpening the footage using Unsharp-Mask, the down conversion introduces strong jagging and additional noise

I admit that the resizing algorithm of After Effects is much better than FCP’s, but it’s still not what you want.

We are talking commercial DVD and broadcast material here- please,  do me a favor!!! – there must be a way to get this right!! Well.., it took me many many hours and a whole spindle of DVD’s to find a method that produced something worth watching AND comparable to the quality of any other commercial DVD production. Read on – even if you don’t use a Sony EX camera!

Here is my work flow – and i repeat: also if you don’t use a Sony EX camera!

  • Download and install the Sony XDCAM-EX Clip Browser for Mac or Windows from
  • Download and install the Sony XDCam Transfer package for Mac or Windows from
  • Edit your HD footage in FCP (v6.x)  as usual, in a HD timeline, using Prores or whatever suites you best, and finalize your production
  • Set your audio tracks to Dual Mono – instead of Stereo – in the Audio Outputs Tab (Sequence settings dialog)
  • Select Export from the FCP file menu and select SONY XDCAM
  • CHANGED THIS: Select an export path, MXF as format, leave any other setting as-is
  • INTO THIS: Select an export path, MP4 (XDCAM) as format, leave any other setting as-is
  • Run the XDCAM EX Clip Browser program
  • Locate and load the sequence you’ve just exported
  • Select Export from the File menu and select either Raw DV or DVCAM
  • Click on the Details button on the Raw DV window that has appeared; set aspect ratio as preferred (eg. letterbox)
  • This will bloody well take some time, so sit back and relax…
  • Use the resulting DV file directly in any DVD mastering/burning software, or import into a FCP SD sequence timeline, if you want to do additional grading or sharpening, or whatever…
  • Ready! Pin-sharp, pure gold…

Bottom line

We’ve used Sony’s XDCam technology (program and codecs) to downconvert a 720 or 1080 HD sequence to Standard Definition TV format, for output to DVD or Tape. It does a much better job than any other conversion method (except maybe for converting and sharpening each frame with Photoshop).

4K footage (Red) looks even better if you apply a slight blur to the hole HD sequence before exporting it to XDCam in FCP – this to eliminate jaggies. This was suggested in some newsgroup and it makes sense – maybe it’s not needed if you follow the workflow above.

Again, i apologise for any English errors – i am not a native English speaker – but i hope that my 25+ years of experience with this matter helps you off that Prozac (and Cialis at the same time…) 😉


UPDATE: the amazing little program MPEG STREAMCLIP does the job very very good! Best software downconversion seen to date. For both MAC and PC:


EX1 noise spoils shoot, i’ve really had it with the Sony EX series!!

tv_bad_girlI have been shooting with the Sony EX-1 a few weeks ago. An interior shot with tungsten light – i know, an invitation to noise… Nevertheless three quarters of the shots we’re doing are interiors and i have never seen so much noise in the picture ever before. The difference was that instead of using cine gamma-1, i switched to cine-gamma 3 and 4 for that day. It was probably visible on our reference monitor, but that day i didn’t pay much attention to it because i was on the dolly – my colleague Karl was watching the monitors and i did not hear him complain.

I am even considering a reshoot of all scenes shot that day; i have never seen such a lot of rubbish coming from any modern camera. The levels are OK, no in-camera corrections, just bags of noise – in faces, in shadows, in blues, in grays. Hopeless…

Whe did some further testing that evening; did that before too. I knew that the cine gamma’s above 2 were giving more noise – it’s all my own fault. But… even with the other gamma settings, it’s noise noise noise with the EX1. In daylight it performs OK.

In my opinion; the EX1 is NOT a professional camera and disappoints me on a regular basis. For what it delivers, apart from full HD, it’s not worth the money and this is  definitely the last thing i’ll shoot professionally with that camera. We’ll add it to the rental stock after we are finished, or put it on ebay.

And, yes, the EX3 looks as bad. A lot of crap for a lot of money. You can almost call it an achievement to produce an all-digital solid state camera that produces so much noise and garbage. Sony: i am very disappointed.

If i’d have to buy a camera now today, i’d buy a Scarlet kit and i’d be cheaper off too. But, hey, the EX1 is four months old now – so i’ts almost antique anyway.

I’ll put an apologie on the credits of Birth of a Song saying: Marvels Film apologizes for the electronic noise and defects you have experienced during this film. Please contact Sony Europe for more information…

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