Thursday, August 1, 2013

My experience with the AF100 Part III. The Olympus zoom 14-35

You have to read the small print !
Of course I don't.
I trust my instinct . And when I bought the AF100 my instinct told me to grab this zoom because of the dynamics of the lens, specially when you used it in motion. The other zooms were so boring in comparison.

So I took my camera and my lens (and the special adapter) and off I went to another country to shoot an expensive interactive piece.
I was so excited. I had a great camera and a great lens.

So of course I waited to get to the other country to unpack the goodies and...well.

The lens looked great but as I was tinkering with it I realized it had a mind of its own.

It changed the aperture at will.

Yes, there was a leperchaun inside the lens.

See for yourself what I mean:

What I didn't read:

The Olympus 14-35 will work with the AF100  only at 2.0 aperture.

This actually is not always the case, because even at 2.0 the lens will vary the aperture. It's in its genes. If you vary the focus or the length of the Zoom. Of course, because with any of the above the light coming into the lens varies.

There was no way we were going to be able to get a different lens in time. So we had to shoot around it. We shot the whole project with this lens and the images were terrific, with the dynamic feeling I had in mind, but we had to shoot a couple of takes more than usual due to the variation in iris. Fortunately it didn't happen when the highly difficult goals were scored, because as you will see, they were not highly repeatable:

When I came back to New York I went to Abel Cinetech and they told me that the problem with the lens is that it is meant for SLR cameras which have everything automatic, and the lens reacts to the light.

But why didn't you tell me about this.

Well, it is in the literature...

They were very understanding and actually  gave me a credit for the lens which I used to get a NIkon adapter and, later on, a PL mount adapter.

But to know about my experience with those lens you will have to wait for the next posts.

In the meantime, I hope this was useful.

Please leave your comments.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My experience with the AF100 part II. You have to read the manual.

So I bought the camera, with the Olympus 14-35 zoom that I fell in love with because it was so dynamic. But we'll talk about that later.

Now let me tell you the first lesson that I learned:

Remember I said that one of the main reasons I opted for the AF100  was that I could record sync sound on the camera? Well....

Owning and using other Panasonic cameras (AG-HVX200 and AGHPX500P) did not make me an instant AF100 expert. ANd the menus are not exactly similar.

In fact, one of the first problems I ran into was the famous sync sound I was telling you about, it did not record unto the camera !  

You see, buried deep into the manual there is a note concerning Variable Speed and unlike the AG-HVX200 and AGHPX500P, when you put the camera in variable speed mode, it will not record sound, even if you're running at 24fps !!!
Here is what the manual says:
24P mode:
Shoots 24 frames a second in native mode. The images (shot at 24 frames a second) are recorded into 24 frames as the video signal.
  • When VFR is set, the INTERVAL REC function, relay recording function, and PRE REC function are automatically set to OFF, and TCG is automatically set to REC RUN. 
Fortunately we run our productions as a submarine, with several backup systems, specially when dealing with a new camera and so, we were actually recording everything also on a separate recorder
But wait! 
Our second mistake had to do with the power batteries.
The batteries of the AF100 are almost identical to the ones for the AG-HVX200 and they cannot use the same charger!

Battery for the HVX200

Battery for the  AF100

Trust me, the pictures don't do justice to the similitude.
I knew that. And I told the person in charge of calibrating the camera who had to , in turn, communicate it to the AC who, in turn, had to read the manual!
Obviously none of this happened.
What did happen is that during the last take they tell me we are running of power. 
So I say (In a very cool and collected manner)
    "Change the battery". 
    "it's not charged"
    "What!" (Not cool and collected anymore)
And that's when the battery hit the fan, together with the AC and the person in charge of calibrating the camera.
We charge the battery on the right charger and risk damaging it by using it with a partial charge, but we finish the shoot.... and the relationship with with two people that trusted. 
As I have said before: "You are as good as the people you work with".

Anyway, all is well that ends well. And although you probably have seen this clip in a previous post, it shows you how the sound was not affected. And how cool the Olympus zoom looks...but later on that problem. Yes we had another problem .

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Cosmetic reality". The Koleston challenge. Triumph.

Everybody is very excited because we are on the last leg, after 40 days.
"...and then you walk to camera and all of a sudden everything goes Kaboom !!"
Ready for the first take.

From right to left:
"I think it should be there"
"No, I think it should be over there"
"Where ?


....Xavier ?..."

As far as we have been able to ascertain, the results were very good for the local client
(Procter and Gamble).
Ad I don't have to tell you just how pleased the agency was, specially the creative team, and that  makes me feel proud because creatives are very close to my heart.
I was also able to confirm the range of the AF 100
Confirmed it as we analyzed the material during the color correction.
And, just as I thought, it gave us the "look" we were striving for: cosmetic reality.

i know I have said this before, but I will say it again:
When you're working with a celebrity you are working for three entities::
The client
The agency
The celebrity

I already related the reaction from client and agency.
Here is what the celebrity thought of the process (yes it's in spanish, but I'm sure you will get the gist of it:

Well. That's it.
See you soon.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cosmetic Reality. The Koleston challenge. Celebration.

One of the executional objectives was to enter into the intimacy of the celebrity's world. In this case for example, we catch Yuri at the moment when she's giving the last touches to the dining table that she has prepared for her friends.
In this context, the Koleston message becomes more "familiar"

Of course Yuri has a lot of help on set. After all, she is a celebrity.
When you're working with a celebrity that is a consumate professional, it's more like collaboration, rather than the typical Director-Cast relationship.
When you're running on schedule, everything is more enjoyable.

And yes....
It's a wrap !

Friday, April 26, 2013

"Cosmetic Reality" 2. The Koleston challenge. Commitment.

This is a series. A series of key moments throughout the Koleston Challenge.
This is the moment when the celebrity (Yuri) has to publicly commit to the Koleston challenge,which is what the whole series is about:

We are always shooting with 2 cameras simultaneously, so we can have more material to enrich the edit and make it more dynamic. Given the time allotted for the shoot.

I highly recommend  the new TV Logic monitor. The value for money makes it really enticing. The display is incredible and the focus aid is terrific.People don't always like to see themselves on video. However, professionals actually can make a great contribution when they know what they should look like, specially celebrities.

It's a bit tricky to direct a celebrity. Like, how do you tell her how to be herself. 
Without looking stupid that is. 

I adore chaos. It's soothing.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Cosmetic Reality". The Koleston challenge. Beginning.

We recently worked on a branded content for P&G.

Was it a promo or is it content?

I think it's was promo treated like content...

Something I would like to call "cosmetic reality".

Using a very popular  Mexican celebrity (Yuri) they created the Koleston challenge, which basically consisted of a 40-day test of their coloring.

Working with a celebrity is always a challenge in itself.
Typically a celebrity will give you anywhere from 2 to 6 hours for a shoot. And that includes hair, make up and wardrobe. 

You have to be prepared to work fast and foresee the celebrity's eccentricities.  They do have them.

In this case, the challenge was going to be long term as we had to follow the progress of the challenge through time.

We used the AF100 with 35mm lens with a very specific look in mind. Images that would be rich in color, with violet tones dominating.

80% of the content was to be shot on location so the art direction became critical in dressing up the locations to achieve that "cosmetic reality" . With violet and purple as dominating elements.

The first stage was very didactical setting up the challenge and the way the product had to be used. As you can tell from the client and agency reactions we were off to a good start.

It was only the beginning of a series that would continue through the course of several weeks.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

17,000 page views later.

I started 2 blogs over 2 years ago.

One blog was basically a fiction novel that I had written and published in Spanish. I wanted to see what internet could do for the promotion of the story of a vampire that goes to the shrink.

The other blog had to do with what I do as Director. It is in english and spanish and you are now reading the latest post in english.

Over 17,000 pageviews later I have learned some things about my blogs:

       1. They went beyond my expectations.

       2. People read a lot more in english than spanish (4 to 1), even spanish speaking  

       3. People in Canada love Vampires

       4. Every time a talk about a post on Facebook, the readership of the blog increases.

       5. The same is not true of Linkedin. 
            Maybe because they are a more serious lot and they don't take me seriously.

      6. People love soccer. 
          They keep coming back to every post that has to do with the sport.

     7. I don't get any comments in the blog. 
         So much for interactivity.

     8. I don't have a lot of followers, but I do seem to have a following.

     9. The blogs are read all over the world, including: Russia, Lebanon, Spain, Canada and

   10. It is a jealous endeavor. You cannot let a lot time pass between blogs

WIth the experiences I've had so far I have thought about things like:

1. Should I keep writing the blog?

     The ecosystem seems to be working in a small scale and I have not yet incorporated 

     But it is a lot of work because, with the exception of this post, I like to include graphic 
     material and a bit of cooking and wine. Lately I have not included a lot about the latter.

     But just to give you an idea; it takes me about 3 to 4 days to work on a post.

     It is great discipline as far as writing is concerned.  It keeps me on my feet and it is 

2. Should I keep writing the blog in spanish or should I concentrate on the one in english?

     I came to the conclusion that, although the readership in spanish is small it allows me to
     polish every post as I go between the english and the spanish. They enrich and clarify the
     writing (or so I think).

Monday, February 11, 2013

My experience with the AF100. Part I. Why I Chose the AF 100

The Cannons D5 and D7 were the rage amongst young people because they had access to terrific looking images at a very low entry price. You could even do a feature for theatrical release due to the large image that you can get. 

And just so you see what I'm talking about, here is a chart that  Abel Cine put together for comparison of 35mm sensors

You can see that the Sensor on the AF100 gives you one of  the smallest images.

So why did I choose it over the D5 and D7?

I think that before you choose a camera, either to buy or to rent, you have to determine what you want it for. Basically, what is going to be the ultimate output.

in my case, I was looking for a camera that would let me do great images for TV and Internet, not features for theatrical release. So I did not need that big an image, all I needed was 1080.

I wanted to have a camera that could run at different speeds and could use different lenses.

oh! and also could record sync sound. And that was the clincher, sync sound. 
It would save me a step in post production, big time.

The AF100 can run at 24fps, 30fps and up to 60fps  at 1080.

It record sync sound and the cards last you for more than an hour of recording time.

The price was competitive and I already had some Nikon lenses that I could use. 

So I bought the camera. 

And I don't regret it.