Thursday, February 23, 2017


Bought som more storage SD cards for the BMPCC bodies. The cards need to be super fast to keep up with the RAW data pouring in to them. The card that is recommended is the 64GB Extreme PRO SD SDXC Card 95MB/s Class 10. Last month I picked up 3 refurbished versions of these cards for $20 USD a piece plus shipping. After testing the cards in my cameras I found they were NOT dropping frames so today I bought another 4.

I now have 11 of these cards, 4 I got from the seller of my cameras off eBay, and 7 are these refurbished babies (guaranteed to be as good as new).

I was thinking of buying the 128GB version in fact I bought one online but the seller disappeared without sending me the card. I appealed to eBay who refunded my $41 USD (too good a deal to be true and it was). I rechecked the prices for the 129GB cards tonight and found them quite high. I am also not sure if the 128GB cards work in the BMPCC. Decided to play it safe and buy the smaller sized 64GB versions.

64GB is quite small for the amount of info I am recording. I will need to change cards quite often. If you are shooting RAW, I think each card will only old 20-25 minutes of footage. With 11 cards I should have enough storage space to record 3 hours and 40 minutes per day.

Hmm wonder if I should buy a few more cards?

Here is the eBay pricing for different versions of this SD card (I paid $20 USD each for my refurbished type cards)

NEW 95MB/S 64GB SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC Class 10 - $40.80 USD free shipping
NEW 95MB/S 128GB SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC Class 10 - $66.55 USD plus $2.29 shipping

Update: Bought another 5 cards. Thought I needed them just in case they break down, in case I lose them, in case I need them for a long days shooting, etc. I now have 16 cards, which is enough storage space to do 5 hours 20 minutes+ of video a day. Do not plan on doing that much recording but it is better to have backups to my backups than to be stranded and pissed off in Mae Sot trying to buy SD cards (very limited stores). I would also hate to have an important shooting day cut short because I ran out of storage space. I have run out of still film before and that always hurts! There will be times I plan on spending the night in the dump filming. When I am there all night I want to make sure I can film at will.

I will now shoot at ease, trying to get the good and important video I need for the movie. I still have to becareful I do not overshoot and be selective. Everything I shoot will have to eventually be stored on hard drives for later editing.  I can only buy so many 4TB hard drives for storage! 

Note* If I shoot in ProRes HQ instead of RAW I can store much more footage on a 64GB card, I think it is 40 minutes plus. Not sure of the exact numbers, depends on frame rates etc ...24 per second 30? Am still learning. Having too many cards is certainly better than not having enough! 16 should do me nicely.

My Tokina 12-24mm F4 Lens Has Arrived

I got my 12-24mm Tokina F4 lens from Japan today, there was no extra charges. Tonight at work I have the lens on my BMPCC body. The f-stop feature works flawlessly with the electronics of the Metabones EF Speedbooster. The angle of view 12mm-24 (about a 20.4mm-40.8mm on the camera) is quite wonderful. With the speedbooster the lens is effectively a f2.6 not fast but not bad. I really like the range of the zoom. I believe I will use this lens for 80% of my shooting. At the widest focal length of 20.4 there is little noticeable distortion, much less so than the earlier tested Rokinon 7.5mm (22.5mm equivalent).

Finally I can pay for everything and not buy any more major film making gear. It is time to start saving for the trip. My training to become a film maker continues on a nightly basis. Things are going pretty well as planned. We are on a positive roll towards the creation of the movie.

My "1296P Mini Camera Wearable Body Video Police DVR 140" Has Arrived

Got my new compact body cam today. This is not a hidden camera but more of a wearable body camera with an obvious lens. I was thinking of using it to record my daily activity in the dump and other PUBLIC places, to give a more personal up close viewpoint for the blogs. This unit is easier to wear than the go pro option. Hopefully it will help humanize my subjects that much more, furthering education and a continue raising awareness.

In the sample video I am hand holding it, in real time use in Asia, I would place it in a pocket and forget about it for the day. The recording time I believe is up to 4 hours on a 32GB mini SD card.

The body camera used for this video
Note* This video was made on Adobe Premiere (still need to learn so much there!).
Video Sample Clip On My Photo Blog

Video: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers!

Here is a bit of fun, just practicing using Adobe Audit and Davinci Resolve. All practice is good practice even when it is goofy like this.

I got to learn:
- shooting the BMPCC with Rokinon 7.5mm
- using the monopod/Came-TV Stabilizer combo
- creating a scream in Adobe Audition
- finding the right audio format to work with Davinci (AIF)
- editing a short sequence in Davinci, trimming,color grading, mask, sharpness, slow mo,  contrast
- muting the camera sound track and syncing a separately recorded scream
- delivering/rending a large quality file
- reducing and creating a smaller file in .MKV format to upload on the blog

Check out the end of the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers Clip" first. I am doing Donald at the end sort of :)) (forgot the hand gesture!).
"Invasions of the Body Snatchers" Ending Clip
Video  Sample: Gerry's Scream On My Photo Blog

Crane Monopod Cam!!

Played around today with the crane-mono pod camera thingy I plan to use in the dump. The best set up I found so far is as follows.

BMPCC---> Rokinon 7.5mm Fisheye Lens--> Manfrotto Aluminum Mono Pod--> Came-TV Optimus Gimbal With Remote Control

I also tried the 24mm F1.4 lens but it is not wide enough and too heavy to hold up. My larger Chinese made carbon fiber tripod was also tried but it seems to be a bit more shaky (too flexible?) when fully extended (a bit longer also). Check the earlier blog video for the results of the test.

Improvements? Will try out the 12-24mm Tokina F4 lens (maybe less distortion) and will try to slow down the pan left to right speed when I am using the remote control. I believe there is a way to access panning speed in the Came TV gimbal software (another thing to learn, accessing the software). I think it will allow for a slightly smoother pan as well. That is what I want a smooth/high/wide angle/slow pan over the dump and the workers.

Update* Did some research on adjusting the Came TV gimbal using the software. It all seems dodgy and highly screwupable (my word). I think I will make do with the current setting and leave it alone, last thing I want to do is break my new $1000+ USD toy.

Video: My Rokinon 7.5mm Micro 4/3 Lens Has Arrived

I got my Rokinon lens delivered today without extra charges. The lens is a fish eye designed for micro 4/3 cameras like my video BMPCCs. The lens gives an equivalent 22mm view angle when mounted on the BMPCC body. I quite like the look, there is a bit of distortion but it is sort of a funky cool looking aspect to the lens. When you have it mounted to the BMPCC without any accessories (rig cage etc.) the whole thing is super light. I did some testing of it today mounted to the camera and the Came-TV gimbal. I then attached everything to my aluminum Manfrotto monopod and raised everything up to try a improvised crane scan. See video. It all worked out rather well with a few hitches but I think this set up will work in the dump to give a wider viewer of the environment and the action.

Update* I think this is the first little film thing I have done in Blackmagic's Davinci Resolve.
Update**  One thing I forgot to mention is that if you set this thing on infinity your basically always in focus. A 7.5mm fisheye lens has amazing depth of field. You got to love that! It is a huge bonus when the camera is mounted on a stabilizing gimbal that cannot be touched without ruining the shot. It also will work well in low light (difficult to focus) shots and crane-monopod sequences like in the video for this blog. AM VERY HAPPY I BOUGHT THIS CHEAP BUT HIGHLY USEFUL LENS! It promises to be a useful moving making tool.
 Rokinon Lens Video Sample Link On My Photo Blog

My Came-TV Optimus Gimbal Has Arrived

Got my Came-Tv gimbal today, cost only an additional $19. The device works great thou it is taking me some time getting used to using it, figuring out how to first balance it then shoot with it. I quite like it so far especially the 2 handed version. In combination with my 24mm Canon lens, Metabones Speedbooster and BMCPP the weight is minimal. I can easily carry it with one or two hands. I am eager to try out the 11-16mm Tokina lens I have in the mail from Japan. That lens will give me a wider angle of view as will the small and very light 7.5mm Rokinon I have coming up from the States. I will probably use those 2 lens much more with the Came-TV stabilizer.

So far so good with this unit, I think it will be especially good for low angle following children through the dump shots and high angle views off a raised mono pod. Here is hoping it is a valuable addition to this film. Now I just got to figure out how to tell a story in film! I own lots of toy now but have little in the way of story telling ability!

Update* The one problem I had with the unit was the rather rinky dink mount for the remote control. It was all plastic and cheap and came apart a few hours after I first got things set up. I instead attached the remote using an elastic band on the left handle of my 2 handle rig. I find it is much better to use in that position as I do not have to reach down for the remote which destabilizes the entire rig. I can instead simply move my thumb a few millimetres which gives me full access to the remote and pan up-down, left-right motorized camera movements.

Lunch With Dave

Had a nice talk with a veteran filmmaker today, Dave C. Dave was nice enough to speak to me Mr. Newby. I bought him and his wife lunch and took notes the whole time. Will review the notes and do more research on various terms such as "Cut Aways! :)) "Always shoot cut aways!" and all the other ideas, techniques, he spoke to. A good outing that got me farther down the track towards becoming a real live film maker.

I will also be joining a local film making group called FAVA, "The Film and Video Arts Society Alberta". Hopefully I can meet more folks there that will help with the learning curve.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Film Story Telling Advice

I have been scouring online sources asking for documentary film making advice. Here is some top end info from a (Blackmagic Camera). I was asking the site members how to tell a story effectively in film form.

Gerry, determine what makes your favourite documentaries so engaging. For what you have suggested, find a central character and tell your broad story by telling the story of that lead character so your viewer has someone with whom to identify. Show more than tell. Show how that character has grown or adjusted to their circumstances. If you can, illustrate the path they took to achieve their most important goals even if that is just finding food or putting a child through school or saving a life. 

Update* Further to the doc film making learning thingy I have a dinner meeting scheduled at a local restaurant with a man who has decades of documentary film making experience. He is the leader of a local filmmaking group in my city FAVA. Going to meet him this coming tuesday and try to learn!

Bought me a 12mm-24mm Tokina F4 Lens

Got me another lens, this is for wide angle work with the BMCPP cameras. The 12mm part of the zoom will be about a 20.4mm, the 24mm about a 40.8mm. I should be able to use this lens for most of my grab shooting. It is light, relatively cheap ($277 USD with free shipping from Japan) and gets good reviews online. This is the official long name for the lens, it's a mouthfull, Tokina AT-X PRO AF 12-24mm F4 DXII IF Zoom Lens for Canon.

I was also looking at the 11-16mm Tokina which is a bit more money $350+ USD  a bit wider and faster at F2.8 but also a bit shorter on the long end (16mm or 27.2mm). I worry that my 12-24mm lens will be to slow at F4 (actually around F2.8 with the Metabones Speedbooster I will be using). But I do really like the 24mm (40.8mm) high end of the zoom. I should be able to use this tool in most shooting situations in the dump. A nice side effect is that if the lens does get damaged it is not too big a deal, at $277 it can be replaced fairly cheaply. It is not like my $2800 Leica 35mm F1.4 M lens that I am always worried abut dropping-damaging. Hopefully I can use the 12-24mm F4 to shoot inside the dump shacks.

Check out the sample video below

Excellent Plus, Mint Condition Tokina 12-24mm F4 lens from Japan
Yosemite: Shot With A Tokina 12-24mm And BMPCC, Video By Short Stop Studios

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Quotes: Werner Herzog

"...and maybe we shouldn't speak so much about the losses and all the difficulties that we have gone through what we see on the screen is the only thing that counts."

On his style of documentaries, on some saying you should be unobtrusive like a fly on the wall.

" I say no I  will be present I want to stylize I want to be the hornet that goes in and stings!"

Quote: Werner Herzog (Filmmaker)

From the wonderful book on filmmaker Werner Herzog "Werner Herzog A Guide For The Perplexed".

"As a young man I discovered something that filmmakers need to learn as early as possible: a perfect film doesn't exist. No matter how much you tinker away at his scene or that frame, you have to accept there might be defects in your work. As a filmmaker, you have to learn to live with this, even if these flaws are amplified a thousand times when screened to an audience. It's the same way a parent has to live with his children. A new film is like a child that needs help when taking its first steps. Children are never perfect one might have a limp, another might stutter. They all have their weaknesses and strong points. I actually love the most defective films even more than the others because they need my constant support and have to be protected from the world. It doesn't matter that every one of my films is flawed in some way; what's important is that they are all alive. Like a child, a film grows up, finds a life of its own and learns to stand on its own two feet. At a certain point you have to unchain the boat, give it a gentle kick and let it float out into the middle of the lake. All my films have developed their own relationship with audiences, even those one or two that demand the same effort a mountain demands of a climber. At the summit we sit and bask, with drunken pleasure, in the view of a rarely seen landscape. "

Monday, February 6, 2017

Bought Me A Hidden Camera

Got another hidden camera, this one a bit better in quality, it shoots up to 1296P at 30 frames a minute onto a better quality MOV file. Simple to use and even has a little LCD screen, cost was $75.64 USD including shipping from China. Hopefully I can make good of this little cheap sneaky hidden camera. OK nuff shopping! At least for tonight!

Hidden Camera

Bought Me A Rokinon 7.5mm Fisheye for Micro Four Thirds

Bought me a cheaper fish eye lens, a Rokinon f3.5. Online thse lens are renowned for their sharpness (believe it or not) and are designed for micro four thirds cameras like my BMPCC video units. I will not need a Metabones Speedbooster for this small lens and can mount it directly to the camera body. The 7.5 fisheye will become about a 22.5mm lens. I want to use it as a point and shoot quick grab wide angle lens (hard to find wide angles that work for the BMPCC). I might also use it on the Came Optimus stabilizer bought earlier. This lens with the light BMPCC body should make carrying the Optimus with one hand that much easier. The price of this used lens a relatively cheap $155 USD plus shipping.

Rokinon 7.5mm Fisheye Lens For Micro Four Thirds Cameras

Bought Me A Came-TV Optimus Stabilizer

Bought another big expensive piece of equipment, a Came TV Optimus stabilizer. This device allows for non shaky video shooting when moving, Even when running you get a pretty stable picture. Basically the Came Optimus is a one handed stabilization device for camera systems under 2.6 pounds in weight. The cost of this new unit made in China was whopping $1075 USD with free shipping.

The price point was something I thought long and hard on. I originally was going to get their earlier model used for around $600-700 but lost out on several eBay auctions. With some more thought I decided to get the new improved 2nd generation version.

The second model allows you to shoot very low level shots (upside down camera action). It also has a better design allowing for 360 degree rotation of the camera and a much more comfortable hand grip. The package includes in a nice water tight box also comes with a two handed adapter set up, that I might use. Buying something new with no damage and the above listed bonuses seemed worth the $300 extra cost.

With all the walking and movement I do in the dump, trying to record moving people, workers digging, children running etc. I kept thinking that some kind of gimbal/steady cam was a must. One of the advantages of working with the BMPCC bodies is that they are small and light. That camera with smaller lens and metabones speedbooster should give me a light enough unit for the Came Optimus  to handle (or so my calculations seem to indicate). Putting the larger heavier 24-105m Canon lens on this set up might not work (it is right on the edge of 2.6 pounds). I plan to use it with a Tokina 11-16mm or a 12-24mm that I still need to buy ($250 - $350 USD) or the 24mm F1.4 Canon I currently own (40mm equivalent on the BMPCC).

I kept seeing one shot in my mind when I was thinking of buying this unit. A shot following a young child walking through the garbage, low angle from behind. To get that visual I needed this unit. If it makes it into the movie then this big price tag was worth it. I can also get in closer on the workers with this tool, and possibly shoot them from both low and high vantage points. I want the viewer of the movie to FEEL THE GRIME, FEEL THE STINK, FEEL THE HARDSHIP AND WORK. I was thinking of attaching a mono pod to the end of this unit then using that that to shoot down on everyone with the provided Optimus remote control. Here are photos and links to this amazing piece of technology.
A Bunch Of Came Optimus Made Footage
Came TV Optimus Being Used With Double Handle
Comparing New Came TV Optimus Versus Older Model Single
Came TV Optimus Attached To A Monopod

Update* Been watching the Optimus footage videos (linked above), mostly people walking and beaches, skateboarders and the like. Basically people playing in their Western playgrounds. That's all fine and good, but gosh using the Optimus in a documentary way seems so much more right. To remember the lives of people in garbage dump, recording the lives of children living in garbage seems so much more of an important subject to shoot. Happy I bought this thing. The closeup stabilization is going to make the film that much more visually exciting and watchable. I will use it to add reality to the movie, to get more in dept visuals that tell the true story of the lives of my subjects.

Documentaries I Prefer

Been watching a bunch of "Front Line" PBS documentaries made in around 2015 over the last few days off. The list includes one on Torture (Under the Bush Presidency), on El Chapo (Drug Trafficking in Mexico), on the Secrets of the Catholic Church-Vatican (Priest Abuses-Fraud) and one on Rape on the Night Shift (janitor staff working nights, mostly Latinas).

All "Front Line" are of exceptional quality but what rings truest with me is not the grand doc telling the large tale but instead the smaller  simple documentary telling a more human story, with people opening their hearts up. The doc that had the most lasting impact on me was the night shift rape film. That movie had many individual talking head moments filled with emotion, the women explaining what they went through etc. One part that surprisingly connected was when a husband of one of the victims opens up and explains his thoughts and emotions (the multiple rape on his wife, by his best friend). It all seemed so real, so powerful. That is true documentary strength, not distant large scale governmental abuse, not some giant story with global implications, just the story of a simple man whose life and family had been destroyed (they also showed the couples damaged children). Seeing and hearing the victim and her husbands-families story, affected me most, on a personal gut level. I could relate to this mans emotions so much better. Moments like in the rape movie where the wife tells of blood on her legs and asks the rapist "What have you done to me?" then wipes up the blood with tissue before completing her nights work (how could she clean after that?). Filmed moments like where her husband is so filled with anger-sadness and pain that he discards his macho exterior to openly cry when he speaks of what happened to his wife.
A real documentary film affecting everyday lives in such a profound way. That is the type of films I want to make. I will try my best to do that, not sure it will happen but you got to try baby, "You Got to Try!".

Frontline: Rape On The Night Shift 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

RAW VIdeo Still Manipulation

Here is a capture of a RAW video image off Davinci Resolve, with some heavy manipulation in Davinci and Photoshop.

Davinci Resolove-Hidden Camera Jpeg Capture

Here is a capture from the hidden video camera footage I have been playing with. Sharpness and color balance plus a mask to burn in the center was done using the software. These new toys are so much fun to play with! Not sure how but might try incorporating some of this stuff in the movie.

BW version played with in photoshop

Hidden camera footage capture and editing in Davinci Resolve

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Hidden Camera Footage Tests

Today I got a cheapo hidden camera device in the mail (sort of like a pen) that I paid $20 USD for. The footage you get with it is surprisingly good, the instructions suck, some kind of pigeon English from another planet. With a bit of guessing thou I got the thing working. They create a cool grainy undercover, reporting something hidden from the world feel to them, that is a bonus!

Am not sure how ethical it is to film secretly but many docs and news organizations seem to do it. I wanted to have a camera or two that I could use just in case it was needed. Better to have the camera(s) in a pinch if needed then not to have them. It might one of those things I quickly grab out of my bag and stick in my pocket just in case it is needed during a nights shooting.

If a do a documentary in Thai next time showing the seedy side of the sex scene in Asia, either something on a worker in that world or on a sex tourist (thinking of trying a documentary on one of the sex tourist/sex pat lives). If I do that then a hidden camera is almost a must as those worlds are very secretive, filled with police corruption and some illegal activity (drugs, bribery etc).

I might look for a more expensive unit to test out, eBay is filled with such thing. Also hidden body microphones to record conversations.

Update* Just thought of another use, if the police in the border areas (both sides of the border) during the dump project are taking bribes or committing a beating or something else of a illegal nature, a small hidden camera might work better than overtly filming. It might be  good idea to just carry one of these devices in case it is needed but never use it.

Friday, February 3, 2017

I Can Do This!!

For the first time I feel that technically I can do this. Last night I took RAW BMPCC footage colour and graded it (B/W also) in DaVinci Resolve then rendered it to a MOV file before exporting. I played the file from a USB stick on my 60 inch HD TV. The little 15 second clip I made looked awesome!!

Technically I am developing the needed skills to make movies fairly quickly (thanks YouTube). The trick will be to shoot strong video in the dump and then tell a story in a effective movie way. I need to learn those film making qualities as well.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Link: Davinci Resolve

Been playing with the free editing/colour grading software from Blackmagic called Davinci Resolve. Fun stuff, this product is basically a simplified editor with a great (possibly the best available) colour grader. The colour grading in this software is second to none I have seen, with a load of very complicated options and ability. It will take a long time and lots of practise to understand everything that can be done.

With a bit of effort I was able to install Davinci 12.5 into my editing computer. I am not sure I have full function for the program as it is requires a high end GPU but I think I have enough ability to make it a useful tool.

My plan is either to use Davinci 100% for my movie editing with RAW and or ProRes HQ video or to switch between Davinci-Premiere and Audition (Adobe sound editor). At some point in the future I will probably get a multi screen high end computer to edit my video. For now thou the laptop has to do, which it will be mobile enough for me to take to Asia for 6 months.

Here is a link to a very informative basic intro to Davinci Resolve:
Resolve 12.5 Basics - DaVinci Resolve End-To-End Crash Course By Casey Faris

Note* Davinci Resolve recognizes RAW DNG Cinema files from my BMPCC, Adobe Premiere CS6 does not.

Documentary Diary

Got me a nice heavy duty cover/paper book today to use as a documentary thought and idea place. A documentary diary if you will. It was expensive at $18 but I think it should do a fine job for me. Big enough to write comfortably in but small enough to carry  most place I will be. Plan to put all my documentary films hopes and dreams in that book as well as all the tech thinking and ideas. I might be able to use captured segments of the book in future docs as well. Will start transferring all my varied documentary film paper work to this book next week at work.