The Sony A7S II is a unique all-metal full-frame system camera. It has best-of-breed features for both photography and video. Its dramatic low-light capabilities — manually from ISO 50 to 409,600 — make low-light photography accessible to everyone. It has a 35mm equivalent full frame sensor in a package the size of a compact camera. And it does 4K XAVC video with Sony’s highly acclaimed S-Log 3 curve that allows for HDR colour grading.
When do you need an external monitor/recorder? I analysed the NLE support for different formats, the difference between various subsampling methods and between 8-bit and 10-bit colour depth, and compared the internal recordings of different cameras with the footage shot with the newest Shogun Flame. My verdict is that it is always better to shoot to a production codec. It saves a lot of post-production time when you edit with Final Cut Pro X or Da Vinci Resolve. The new Atomos Shogun (and Ninja) Flame support all the ProRes and DNxHD output types, are HDR-capable and come with a number of extras not found anywhere else.
Red Giant released Red Giant Universe 2.0, a major update to the company’s GPU-accelerated plugins for editors and motion graphics artists. It has more than 60 tools that run in Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Adobe After Effects CC, Apple Final Cut Pro X, Apple Motion, Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve, HitFilm and Sony Vegas. The Red Giant Universe 2.0 update includes four new and 29 updated plugins, plus a brand new user experience that makes it easy to preview and apply effects. Red Giant Universe is coming to the Volume Licensing Program, making it easier for large organisations to take advantage of the massive collection of Red Giant Universe plugins.
It comes with its own batteries to drive 48V phantom powered microphones, has two Neutrik XLR/TRS audio jacks for mics and instruments, two MIDI ports, two speaker output ports and a headphone interface. The iRig Pro Duo is a cross-platform portable recording unit and I was curious to hear how well it sounds.
In the 4K video age, memory cards should be blazingly fast but even more so: dependable. Memory cards that break after five hours of use are a frustration at best and a catastrophe in many cases. The Lexar Professional microSDHC UHS-II 1000x and 1800x are both extremely fast and they won’t break that quickly.
Shooting in ProRes or DNxHD has several benefits if you’re working with Final Cut Pro X or Avid Media Composer. Of course you can always encode or transcode from a different codec to either of these in post-production, but that costs time — which may be valuable. There may be other reasons why you don’t want to wait until post, as I found out. I spent three days experimenting with a GoPro HERO4, four encoding apps for the Mac, the Final Cut Pro X timeline and an Atomos Ninja Assassin. Thanks to the newest version of Telestream’s Switch QC app, I came across some strange results that I didn’t know about before, and which changed my views on post-production video encoding versus shooting straight to ProRes with a Ninja monitor/recorder.
It turns out the latest version of Dutch developed Hedge for Mac is the fastest video offload application on the market. The company ran some benchmarks and found their new Premium engine — which is not in the free version of the app — is as fast or almost as fast as the Finder. “We ran these benchmarks for our own internal use. We ran them as objective and unbiased as we possibly could,” said Paul Matthijs Lombert, CEO at The Sync Factory, the company behind Hedge for Mac. “We certainly added nothing to our tests that would put Hedge for Mac in any sort of a favourable position — far from it,” he added.
Telestream has just upgraded Switch, their QC and quick-export app for videos up to 4K. New features in the Pro version that I have been reviewing include a comparison capability that lets you open additional files to compare with your primary media file, an external preview to Blackmagic Design devices, more publishing options, more containers and improved playback.
There are quite some LUT utilities for Final Cut Pro X, but Roger Bolton from Coremelt succeeded in developing a plug-in that gives you more than just a LUT loading mechanism. LUTx delivers a LUT browser, various fine-tuning features, masking capabilities and, for the Look LUT effect, the unique ability to apply your LUT to a specific luma range. The LUTx plug-in has four effects in all.
No matter how good an audio sample may sound, there are always notes that sound synthetic and with instruments like a grand piano subtleties and musicality are inevitably lost. It’s a problem that can be solved by not sampling an instrument but using true physical modelling. That’s what Pianoteq from French company Modartt seeks out to do — and from what I’ve experienced: with success.