Archive for the ‘ News ’ Category

The 14 day time-lapse – in at the deep end!

I haven’t really been caught up in the whole time-lapse movement which has become increasingly popular with the introduction of DSLR’s into the video world, it’s not really something that’s ever interested me that much before although I’m not entirely sure why after all I have a passion for slow-mo footage so why not manipulate time in the other direction?

With this in mind when I was asked to do a 14 day time-lapse for Harley-Davidson showing the setup of one of their European motorcycle events I had to learn, and quickly because the shoot had to start in just five days!

The request had quite a few challenges, firstly there was no network on site during the setup so all of the images would need to be stored on the cameras memory cards, secondly the camera was going to be positioned outside atop a 10m lamp post and open to the elements so it had to be waterproof. There was also the issue of power, no camera that I know of can last 14 days so we would need to rig up mains power. The final and probably most troublesome challenge was that I couldn’t stay with the camera, I had to leave it for ten days before returning to film the event.

My first thought was to use a GoPro but with no experience of leaving one running for that long and no way to run it on mains power within it’s protective shell I had to look elsewhere.

My next thought was to use an exterior security camera as these would be designed for life outside. I actually ordered a high-end Sony security camera that sounded like it was going to be perfect, it could record HD video as well as stills at certain intervals and featured an Exmor sensor as used in the EX1 so I thought the images would cut well with the rest of my footage. The Sony also featured the ability to be powered via a network cable which I thought could make things simpler, saving the need to run mains power to the top of the lamp post.  The camera was not cheap costing nearly £1,500.

Once the Sony camera was delivered however it soon became obvious that it wasn’t the right solution, it was designed to be hard mounted to a wall and would require a lot of work to make a suitable mounting solution that kept it waterproof. The power over cat5 lead also turned out to be pointless as running the camera that way didn’t support the use of the cf card. The supplier also mentioned that they were not confident that it would record images reliably enough for a time-lapse. I couldn’t take the risk and returned it.

With time running out I reverted to the GoPro and set about adapting it to be mains powered whilst still being waterproof. GoPro do actually make a skeleton case that allows power to be delivered to the side camera but with only two days before flying out to Austria to setup I didn’t have time to order one so I had to adapt what I already had.

The thing about the GoPro is that the only way to power it is via a USB lead. The good news is that a simple iPhone power supply does a fantastic job of providing the required power for the GoPro. I decided to attach the GoPro Battery BacPac to the camera as this allowed the power to be connected on the back rather then the side so all I needed to do was find a way to get a USB lead through the back of the case and protect it from the elements.

A few minutes with a dremel and a bit of creative bodging with insulation tape and a washing up glove soon resulted in my very unimpressive looking endurance GoPro! I could have sealed the cable in place but I wanted the camera to have airflow around it to avoid any fogging issues.

Ugly isn’t it!

For my own sanity I left this camera doing a time-lapse for the two days before flying out to Austria, it did this well and worked reliably, I decided on shooting a still every 60 seconds as this resulted in enough images to make the sky look fairly fluid as well as making the 32GB memory cards last as long as possible. By my calculations each 32GB card should last around 10 days so a card change would still be required.

On getting to the location in Austria the challenges didn’t stop. H-D had supplied a cherry picker to allow me to mount the camera but it soon became obvious that the light pole that had been earmarked for the camera meant that the GoPro would be facing the Sun all day and  as a result the images produced would be less than ideal quality. I really needed to camera to be the other side of the event ground but we didn’t have any mounting options that side.

After much consideration we decided to mount the camera to the cherry picker itself, that way we could position it where we wanted, send it up to it’s maximum height and easily lower it for card changes and the occasional check. Power was delivered from a nearby lamp post and the iPhone charger and associated adapters were all smothered in insulation tape.

The results were much better with the sun now behind the camera and the view across the event location was fabulous. I left instructions about changing the card and how to check that the camera was working and flew home with fingers crossed that it all worked out.

I’ll post more about how it went in the next few days once I’ve had chance to process the results. There were a few lessons to be learned that I’ll share with you, some camera related and some not but all good points to consider if you have to do something similar.

See the results here




Lion users report better performance from Adobe Premiere Pro

I’ve been writing quite a lot about the poor timeline performance issues when using Premiere Pro CS5 & CS5.5 on the Mac and with the thread about the subject on adobe’s forum now reaching over 4000 views it seems to be a very widespread issue.

Since upgrading to Lion though I’ve noticed a marked improvement in the ‘laggy timeline’ issue, to the point which I’d say that the problem no longer exists. So what’s changed?

Well it’s hard to say of course, only the apple boffins will know the details but it certainly seems as though the code has been optimised in Lion to better support the way that Premiere is rendering the timeline. Here’s a quote from Adobe Employee ‘Wil Renczes’ which is taken from the adobe forums…

 I profiled the code – the timeline drawing operation is performing the same set of steps on Win & Mac – we draw into an offscreen buffer & blit the contents to the timeline.  On mac, the bulk of the time was being spent in the OS blit routine…

Upgrading an OS shouldn’t be taken lightly though, there are still going to be plugins and certain bits of hardware that are not supported by Lion.

One interesting part of the upgrade is that Lion comes with a driver for the Nvidia Quadro 4000 that’s newer than the latest available from Nvidia’s own website. The driver installed with Lion is 270.05.05f01 whereas the latest available from Nvidia is 256.02.25f01.

In addition to Lion improving Premiere’s performance Adobe have also released an update for Premiere Pro this week in the form of CS5.5.1, this update claims to improve performance with h.264 footage as well as including many other fixes.


Final Cut Pro to Premiere Pro – six months in

I switched from Final Cut Pro to Premiere Pro CS5 about six months ago and have been using it as my main NLE ever since. Due to Apples recent launch of the not so pro FCPX there’s a lot of FCP users considering the jump to Premiere Pro so I thought I’d give a quick run down of the things that I’ve missed the most from FCP and the benefits I’ve seen.

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Premiere’s laggy timeline – a breakthrough!

After over 130 posts on the Adobe Forums and quite a few people getting involved here on my blog I think we’ve finally had a breakthrough regarding the lag that a lot of us have been seeing when using the timeline in Premiere Pro.

What’s been really confusing is why some mac users have been suffering more than others, was it CPU related, memory, graphics? Well as it turns out the reason it was effecting newer macs more was because they tended to have larger screens and as a result the workspace layout was different.

The thing that causes the timeline to be so unresponsive is the height of the timeline panel itself. The higher it is the more laggy the response of the clips. That’s true until almost filling the screen with the timeline when suddenly the effect reverses.

Thanks very much to everyone that got involved, it really did help as it’s highlighted the scale of the problem and now that Adobe know where to look hopefully they can resolve it.

Laggy timeline in Adobe Premiere Pro

I’ve been using Premiere Pro for the last six months and have been very happy with it but there’s one issue that I’ve always found slightly frustrating. When dragging clips around on the timeline there is a lot of lag, it’s almost as though the clips are attached to the mouse cursor by an elastic band and you have to wait for them to catch up when trying to reposition them.

I noticed in this thread over at the Adobe forums that this isn’t the case for everybody so I started Premiere up on my two year old Macbook Pro and noticed that the lag doesn’t happen on that machine at all. So why is my latest spec Mac Pro suffering?

Well the only way we’re going to figure that out is by getting some feedback from you guys and seeing if we can find anything in common when the issue occurs.

To see the effect for your self have a look at the following video…

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