Posts Tagged ‘Canon’

High Definition

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Hans in HD

The other day, I ran across an innovative new little POV videocam, produced by Sony, and posted the info in a  link to my Facebook page.

It breaks ground in a number of very important areas, oh and check out the price tag.  $200.00

Sony HDR-AS10 HD Action Camcorder

The conversation that ensued on FB with some of my talented colleagues, underscores how we as content creators, are moving into a new arena, one where POV may be  the simplest and most flexible to convey in the history of Cinema, and we are able to do it inexpensively and without a lot of fuss.

Almost 2 decades ago, I was fascinated by the arena of high speed motion picture Cinematography and was forced to design and build quite a few systems at great expense. Those motion picture camera systems were fairly bulky and complex, weighing up to 6o pounds per unit and capable of shooting up to 500 frames per second. I still have them all. They still work perfectly. But everything has changed and continues to really come together, with some companies listening to the right people and some others taking bad input and completely missing the ball.

Right now, I am particularly impressed by two camera Companies. Sony, and Black Magic. Canon, whose systems I have used and which made my stills career: not so much. It seems that they only have conversations with idiots these days. I sometimes wonder if they will survive those, after some recent developments I have been sad to watch occur.

One need only to look at the Red Camera System and you see  how a competitive market, demands critical, accurate informational input by users, for company product design and development. I have only shot on the Red System a handful of times. I won’t be purchasing one, nor would I rent one to bill out to a client. For me and what I do, they simply are not facile-versatile enough, and are approx 4-10 times the cost of other systems that will completely satisfy any end user demands, are simple, reliable, and that I could actually justify owning.

This was illustrated last year when a VERY talented DP and I were out collecting some footage for a TV Pilot pitch reel for a surf show. He was on the Red. I was filming with a Canon 5DM2 and the Canon 600 F4 IS. We were on a pier, pre dawn. One of the guys comes walking up and casually mentions he is going to do a  back flip off the pier with a surfboard. “Hang on a sec” I said and switched lenses, made a quick camera setting adjustment, and walked over to where he stood. “Okay, ready, I will cue you. 3, 2 1 Action” and I watched through the LCD as he did a perfect backflip, and handheld, I got a flawless capture with camera move.

I walked back over to my colleague and played back the shot. This is what he said. “My God that is perfect. I could not get my system in position or up fast enough to get that” My comment was this. “In this rapidly changing world we come up to speed or we are out of business”. The rest of the day went like this, as we filmed down at Zuma later, and I swum that same system I had shot the backflip with, and captured imagery infinitely more compelling than the Red could have.

This is just where we are today. It is about being there and not being in the way with our gear and systems ramp up times, while capturing a file that will be adequate for accurate post production, and delivery for web, broadcast or the big screen.

Here is a great review of the Black Magic by Philip Bloom.

Lest one thinks I have lost all faith in Canon, here is what I consider to be the single best camera in their lineup for Video, basic Cinematography and Commercial stills. It costs approx 750.00 and is generally known in our US Market as the Rebel t4i. I have access to a lot of high end and complex subjects, and use a lot of different cameras to capture those. I  always have a Rebel or two around. I have never seen one fail, and I shoot in the water a LOT. It even features phase pixel AF tracking in video mode, something the new flagship 5DM3 does not have, at 3800.00.

I continue to be stunned at what I see head our way daily, both good and bad. I spend a lot of time on study and research, as well as shooting. My colleague, Rob Dafoe, who is a talented DP and Editor,  pointed it out the other day. Systems are going off the back and being jettisoned every day due to inaccurate design and poor ROI (return on investment, time as well as money). For an independent creative, ROI is everything, and time, well you do not get any new seconds added in your life, and some companies take great liberty in stealing yours if you let them. Best not to give them that option.

In this thread are a few stills I captured that are fairly high bar. Easy to do, now, compared to 10 or even 5 years ago. But I also have the footage from these days in Motion, captured on the Rebel, the 5DM2 and the GoPro HD systems, that would have been impossible, prior. I shot these for Corbis Images, general editorial, and for the Ocean Lovers Collective, which I am also building a series of branding-message video pieces for, that will screen online, and in a couple film festivals.

My expensive, heavy, and most excellent high speed film kit, may be a museum piece soon.

What it is.


Sunday, March 21st, 2010
Matillija Spring

Matillija Spring

I was cameraless this week. It was great. Sort of. Okay, maybe not completely cameraless. I still had four 35mm stills film bodies, three mini DV cameras, and five high speed film motion cameras, all sitting on the shelf, along with the water housings for those. But I loaned my Canon 5DM2 system out and sold my Rebel T1i, in preparation for buying the new RebelT2i. (Wow, that Rebel was so new it had only seen 3000 frames before the new one was released.)

Canon (along with Apple) has been blowing my mind the past few years. We spoke, they obviously listened.  The application of technology and digital imaging, has created the ability to produce massive amounts of content. But this creates some big questions:

Where does that content go? What makes yours special? Does your content meet that unspoken, and often unseen bar of international standards?

A career is a function of time. Effort is applied and what comes out these days, is useable digital content-data. You can convert that pliable data into a variety of projects in short order.

I had an e mail tet a tet with photographer Brian Nevins this week about post production. Brian and I both share a bar that is similar for our work and subjects. “Hey Brian, how is your post production list looking?” Answer:“Oh hopeless. I just seem to keep getting further behind.” We cyber groaned in unison.

Right now, I have 7 stills shoots and 6 motion picture projects, in various stages of post production. More work is being thrown my way daily. I must be very careful, or I will find myself homeless with probably one of the most phenomenal collections of stills and motion imagery that I could ever imagine.

Why? Production is shifting. Usages are changing. Now, more than any time in History, publishing is having a demand to screen content placed upon it, that is heavier than ever. Everyone who owns a camera is a “photographer” and those voices, they all scream out “Look at me”, often without really knowing that, um, maybe you may not want to do that.

Of course some get through on occasion, by virtue of salesmanship and persistence. You can see some amazingly low bar crap go to print, web, TV, Theater or Gallery. But over all, the access to the market that the web affords and which shifts in demand have created, offers the potential to embarrass one’s self globally in a very short period of time. But what this also does, is make the truly great work stand out. A lot is on the line for publishers these days as many companies teeter. Edit staff can annihilate a publication’s value in a very short period of time.

The market is not stupid, though it can be naive. It self levels.

Authenticity, now more than ever, is the most valuable of commodities, along with content quality and validity.

Seth Godin writes here about the slush pile. That great pool of self spawned, unsolicited content. It is one of the better things I have read about being a creative, as it describes a bar, direction and potentiality measure, for content creators.

So back to my post production I go. 60 hours down this week, in front of the large 32” monitor I use. The surf was pumping. Offshore and warm. Spring has arrived overnight. Weird yet perfect for us, as this weather and swell combination combination rarely occurs this time of year. I got six calls to shoot the last few days, and wanted to.

“Sorry I loaned my cameras out” was my soft answer. Clickety clack goes the keyboard. “Save as” was selected in Photoshop about 1500 times and “Render” hit, in Final Cut, a lot. Whew. Life choices in the click of a mouse.

Here is a  piece of music which a close friend sent along. The message in it struck a deep chord with me. Southern Cross. If you read through the gallery descriptions, you may figure it out. It is descriptive of our lives, she and I. It may be said of many whose lives tie to the sea.  I cherish my friends.

The gallery below is illustrative of Spring, Diversity, and Authenticity. Click on the images for a larger view and description, if you like.

Collateral Damage

Friday, November 20th, 2009




I was 23 years old and saying a tearful goodbye to my wife of one month in LAX departures. As I slunk back in my seat moments later, and heard the soft thunk of the cabin door closing, I noticed Shaun Tomson sitting a few seats away. Dane Kealoha was nearby, and behind him I saw Mark Richards. We were all headed for Hawaii and what would be my first travel leg of the then IPS world tour. 


The next ten years or so of my life consisted of moments like that: traveling alone, or with some of my pro surfer pals from California. The goodbyes were frequently followed by amazingly wonderful hellos a month or so later. The stress on our marriage, though real, was manageable. We both had known what we were getting into. 


There is something magnificent about the bond between a man and woman committed to each other. It just feels sacred. My wife had never complained about my other mistress. The sea would always give me back. She knew that it would never do anything but wash me home. It was not an enemy, but part of our bond. We both got that about each other. We were able to share it. 


I bailed on my busy work schedule last week. The details of life sometime necessitate we take care of things like house, taxes, cars. I was resigned to a drive down coast to Encinitas to drop off a commercial job for a client, and trade in my 07 car, which had reached that crossroad of diminishing value that occurs at around 60 k miles. 


A very patient car saleswoman named Barb Shev, had borne with me as I decided to trade my car in on a 2010 version. I had dropped her a simple note hello. A query and in two e mails later and Barb had ferreted out a deal that gave me a good trade in amount on my car and a great price and financing on the newer model. But getting away had been almost impossible. I finally picked a day and resolved to  just drop everything else and go. I had bought a car before from that dealership, and it had been a straight shot, no BS in and out thing. I needed that. 


On the way out the door my girlfriend Donna (Hey, the marriage DID last 20 years. That is another story) asked if I was bringing a camera. I was not intending to. Like a bad school child, I stomped back into my camera room and grabbed a little Canon Rebel T1i and a 10-17 fisheye zoom lens. Why that lens? Because it was already ON the body. I was not into making more post production for myself. I already had six stills shoots and three motion projects awaiting my attention. No shooting was planned for me that day. But Donna knows me well, and she smiled as she saw me stomping out the door and kissed me goodbye. I was grumpy. I like my car. I hate LA freeways. Harumph. My shiny black Mazdaspeed 3 came to life with a smooth rumble at the touch of a key. It had been a seamless performer for 3 years. I had disassembled and reassembled it almost as a child would a model car. I like cars. I like speed. I know both quite well. 


Listening to AM 1070 for the traffic news, I found myself whizzing up on OC via I 5, and dialed my friend Shawn Alladio, who I knew lived there somewhere . She picked up. Turns out that the next exit was hers. In a few minutes I had found my way to her house and she met me at the curb, wearing camo pants, a Liquid Militia tee shirt, and a soft smile. 


We do not get to catch up in person much. She owns and operates a global water safety company called K38 Rescue. One of the smartest, toughest, most fair people that I know. I am lucky enough to have had her tutor me in Ocean Rescue, PWC operation, risk assessment, and be my friend. She had been through a lot lately, and I was really glad to wrap my arms around her. I care about my friends. This one had been to hell and back several times recently in her work. A slew of awards for heroism had been the by product. But there had also been collateral damage no one saw but family and close friends. 

Shawn’s blog is here. Read it if you want insight into a very remarkable woman and her world. 


Coffee at Peets in a trippy nearby mall (I had been up since 3am working and needed a cup) had Shawn asking if I wanted company. 


So down the 5 we went, sipping our coffee and catching up. As we passed Pendleton, a powder blue Pacific glistened beyond the ocre brown of the coastal chapparal. Shawn asked if it would be okay if we stopped on Base after the car thing. She said that there was someone she wanted me to meet. I said sure. 


Barb met us at the door of a very quiet Penske Mazda, standing in the midst of other very quiet dealerships. She looked the same as when I had last seen her 5 years ago. She pointed out the shiny new black MS3 sitting next to my shiny older and rather sinister looking MS3. “There is your new car David. Want to go for a test drive?” And then she smiled as I declined. Barb knew I was likely on a mission. She helped. 


While Shawn chatted with her, I met with the same finance guy that I had seen 5 years prior and really just had a pleasant time. In a bit, all of us were hanging in the office and talking story as the paperwork got completed. It was comfortable. But my psyche was someplace else. 


In a short while, we were saying our goodbyes and I settled in behind the wheel of my new car. But I did not care. And I could not figure out why. Somehow I knew that today was not about getting a car. Shawn was sweetly enthusiastic as it roared to life and we eased towards Hwy 78 and Pendleton. I was quiet. 


Though successful, I do not make a lot of money. I spend most of what I earn on my career tools. I should have been amped. I love cars. Here was my old car, refined and brand new. A car enthusiast’s dream. But inside, it was all pensive brooding. Something else was up. I knew the signs. 


At Pendleton’s gate I said that we were there to see Mike Arnold, base safety Officer down at the marine Boat Locker. We knew that Mike was having a hard day. It looked like he may have lost someone to an incident earlier. Mike takes the Marines and their lives very seriously, and one lay in a civilian hospital critically injured. A phone call confirmed that he would not be meeting us. 


Shawn said that her friend Jacqueline would come down to the boat docks, near the Marine Yard where she occasionally holds training courses in Ocean Rescue and boat ops. “Do you think that you could take a picture of her for her husband? He is away on deployment.” “Yea sure, I brought a camera” I said. I thought about my odd choice in lenses. Oh well, it would be a snapshot. Something for him to hold close while he was away. It would do. 


So we nosed into the launch area. Shawn got out and immediately headed for the water, squatting down and holding her hands in it. A sharp breeze carrying the increasing coolness of a Fall ocean, contrasted against the warm yellow light of the late afternoon sun. 


“She should be here soon. She is a blond. You are really going to like her.” I heard her say, hands still in water and back to me. She was recharging. The ocean does that for us. Here is a very cool video that explains why. 


 Camera in hand, I took a deep breath of cool salt air. It was nice to be here again. In a few minutes I saw a bright red little Chevy rolling up on us, and lots of black hair blowing out the open window. “That’s her” I heard Shawn say. “That gal has brunette hair Shawn. No, blonde, no, blond and black.” As the little red car rolled up next to mine on the pavement, I noticed that it’s tires glistened shiny black, The bright red paint glowed. The windows glistened spotless and three stickers were placed carefully on the side and back windows. This woman kept her car up. You do not see that much from 23 year old women: being into their cars. It was Jacqueline. 


As Shawn introduced us, she explained the hair. “Like it? I just did it.” Her long hair was close to black in color with two near white pieces that framed her face. The choice spoke a lot to me about her. “Nice car” I said. She smiled broadly. “Thanks!” I take good care of it. It’s a 2005.” (It looked as new as my fresh one). 


I appreciate individualism in people. I saw it standing there in front of me in the form of a confident, relaxed, charming and attractive young woman. The saying “on the threshold of life” dropped in to mind, as I asked if I could take her picture. Still unsure or entirely motivated to do anything but a simple snap shot, I did not really understand what in the heck I really was doing at that exact moment in place and time. But a nagging feeling, which had been tugging on my insides had kept up it’s persistent tapping. What was this all about? 


With no clear direction I began to shoot around a little bit. For the past hour my eye had been drawn to a spot of wet sand nestled into the big brown rocks of one of the jetties that framed the launch ramp. I asked Jacqueline to head down to the water. On the way, I had joked about what I do. “Yea I order people to do things and they do them.” As we passed by that spot at the jetty, I said: “Could you please just stand right over there?” 


Jacqueline turned, looked me square in the eye and in a revelatory and surprised fashion turned the light on for me about the purpose of my day when she said simply, “There? That is where I said goodbye to my husband.” She appeared shocked that I could know. And as enlightenment came, direction and motivation dawned as well. I knew what to shoot, what needed to be communicated. 


Her husband Ryan was deployed on a ship, somewhere in the Middle East. 

He was a sniper. This spot was where something sacred had occurred between the couple. In ten minutes I had shot a series of images that communicated what was involved in that sacrament. Ryan would “get it” when he saw them. Hopefully others would as well. I noticed my eyes trying to tear up as I worked. Emotion indicates something to me. So when a subject evokes it, I know exactly what to do: tell the story. 


Deployments are three months long generally. Ryan comes home for a month. Then it repeats. That is three times a year when the soldier’s family gets to go through the process of separation. Now goodbye, that is not just a sweet au revoir. I questioned Jacqueline about it, as she explained what she and the other wives dealt with in their relationships and the comings and goings. The stories were heavy. The implications vast. The potential damage to relationships and people a clear and present sort of danger. She began to cry as the back story arose. 

This Video tells another soldier’s story. 


When you are just barely out of childhood and getting your feet under you as an adult, there is a steep learning curve. I had been where she was, having married early as well, and leaving. The glaring difference being that her husband’s job was as a merchant of death. And what he would be dealing with, is an enemy whose job was to snuff him out. That is war. Ultimate conflict, with ultimate expense. 


 The energy of that has a ripple effect that can sweep through the harbor of a soldier’s loved ones and wreak an incredible amount of damage. For the family, the constant loss and return and loss, can create what psychiatry calls separation anxiety and other maladies. Their life consists of maintaining a relationship in spurts. 


 At 50 I could maybe have a decent chance of surviving it. But at 23, it is an entirely different set of skills that one may not be in possession of, that can wreak havoc. You learn fast. Or not. But in reality it is all about resolve on both peoples part to get through to the other side of this phase in a career choice that it is difficult to see clearly with young eyes. 


The net affect of this process creates the bond of the military family. Everyone tries to link arms figuratively. Each supports and holds up the other. It was what Shawn and I were really there for that day. To show Jacqueline that we cared about her, Ryan, and them as a family. We were spiritually linking arms. It is much more difficult for a person to be knocked down when friends, family and country hold them up. 


Shawn had told me a story about a fighting group on it’s way into battle in the back of a helo. They had made a pact that should one of them fall, the rest would step up in support of the family of that member of the group. They had sworn on it. A short while later one of the group had been blown to his end. When those men returned home, true to their word, they formed a support group. It is called The United Warrior Survivors Foundation. The link is here. What the UWSF and several other groups do is offer support. They try to limit and contain the collateral damage of war. That collateral damage is the type of energy that can sweep through the cultural fabric of a nation with the effectiveness of a blast. So these warriors seek to soften the blow for the rest of us. Talk about nobility. 


Jacqueline loves her husband, that was very obvious. But more than that, she is committed to him, spirit soul and body. She is at war. They all are. She is present and accounted for. And her reality is becoming more stark, as she realizes that the next deployment already beckons. 


Collateral damage. The enemy is around us. We are at war. Think about what you support and why. I did, as I eased through the steel pulse of Friday night traffic on the 405 later, with everyone else bound for someplace else, and someone. 


I awoke the next morning, opened my carport door and saw my shiny new car sitting there and it finally hit me. I picked up my cel and dialed Shawn. 

“Hey. I have a new car.” It had taken me that long to really notice. But I have a new friend. That part is special. And an obligation. That part is sacred. 

Shawn Recharging

Shawn Recharging



Shawn and Jacqueline: Edge of the World

Shawn and Jacqueline: Edge of the World



 A Sniper's Wife

A Sniper's Wife



Future Perfect

Future Perfect


Side by  Side

Side by Side


Saturday, October 17th, 2009


It is not something I have any complete understanding of, but for some reason I recognize the touch of my friends and what may be affecting them. It often comes in the form of a subtle whisper. I have found that if I shut the heck up and just listen, the process applies quite dramatically in my work. I will experience new things as a result. That affects what I communicate to the world.  It changes my perception, as the imprint broadens who and what I am. I need that. My life would be cold porridge without it.

Last night at dinner, Donna and our friends Violeta and Korina were discussing travel and the ups and downs of the process. Sometimes we can be made to become quite uncomfortable by our situations and surroundings. Korina had just returned from Bali and been suffering a bit due to jetlag, culture crossover, and a few intermittent bouts with Bali Belly (the term for all ailments alimentary). She said something very wise. “I have learned that when I travel, it is not just about my experience. It is about the experience of the people who I meet, and the impression that I leave with them”. Touch. There it was. To have it, you must give it. You give when listening. Her wonderful blog is here.

As I work through the tremendous amount of post production from our Balinese trip, I am constantly reminded of how listening allows us forms of contact with a world we would normally never see, hear, taste or feel. I see exactly what I was listening to as I ply the pixel waters of this huge ass file. And I remember what the touch felt like.

The last couple days I had been having a persistent tapping on my shoulder. A close friend had been on my mind and heart. I finally had left a voice mail on her phone.  Her cel was off, as it always is when she is working. I left a short message, something that I never do. She does not need a voice mail box full of hellos. She would know what it meant.  I would hear from her. I knew something hard had come down on her shoulders.

Shawn Alladio was working running rescue at the IJSBA World PWC racing Championships. She had been deathly ill prior. A bout with meningitis and a post illness bacterial infection had almost killed her.  Better just in time. Just.

Her team had flown in from around the world to work the phenomenally high risk event, where boats become rockets, guided by adrenalized, amazingly skilled athletes with nervous systems and skills that are beyond the ken of the uninitiate. I knew that she was in great hands at the venue at Lake Havasu, and that K38 would do it’s job well.

In working with Shawn, we are all tutored on how to be in times of great stress and death. We learn how to touch, care, and offer comfort when comfort and touch are all that is left to give. Bad things sometimes happen in spite of the best laid plans and training.

Her text was on my phone this morning. Summarized it said: ‘Had a fatal today. A friend died in my arms. Blunt force trauma.’ With those simple words, the scene I already knew about unfolded, and I felt what Shawn had in greater detail.

The story of the incident is right here. Who the man was is quite vital. I am so glad that Shawn was there for him. He knew that he was loved as his time came.

Shawn has penned something about the incident from her point of view. Read it here. Whew!

This beautiful example of touch was passed to me today by Donna Von Hoesslin. It best exemplifies how we ought to be as communicators: touched. I do not necessarily agree with all of the lecturers. The video says it best. We are all in this together. If you have never heard of Bioneers, the lectures can be quite remarkable and well worth your time.

As he typically does, Seth Godin writes well of the responsibility that comes with being a communicator.

Touch. It is what makes us better than human. Are you listening? Did you feel that?



Anchored: Jeanette

Anchored: Jeanette




Shawn Alladio: K38 Rescue

Shawn Alladio: K38 Rescue

Shawn and Cesare

Shawn and Cesare

Listen, Touch, Breathe

Listen, Touch, Breathe

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.