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.
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.
Transitions are boring unless you spice them up with special effects. The trouble with special effects, however, is that they usually make you nauseous or are cheesy at best. Few movies made by professionals therefore use more than the two least spectacular transitions: the cut — the abrupt scene change — and the dissolve. Hawaiki has come up with a way to make dissolves — by far the most commonly used transition of them all — more interesting, sexy even. They’ve turned that into a Final Cut Pro X plugin: Super Dissolve.
The new version of Sorenson Media’s Squeeze has new features and improved codecs. It also allows you to output footage at higher frame rates than the source clips you’re importing. However, and just like any other transcoding app currently available, there’s no support for creating footage from DNG files such as the ones your Blackmagic Design camera will output. The best news of the day is that Squeeze Desktop 11 does create movies from still images and is again a bit faster than its predecessor.
I reviewed Rampant Design’s stuff a couple of years ago, when 4K was still a dream. Today, Rampant Design has a huge collection of 2K, 4K and 5K clips that can be used as effects. I tried a large random selection, including the muzzle flashes and smoke. If you’re still working with HD, the Rampant Design’s effect clips are even more effective as they are fully scalable and can be transformed and moved around at will.
MotionVFX already had Simple Callouts for Final Cut Pro X. Now they also have mCallouts Tech, a more technically inspired set of callouts. Both products are based on mocha Pro tracking functionality. Because of that, the mCallouts Tech reminded me of CoreMelt’s TrackX capabilities, but there’s a difference: mCallouts is limited to one purpose, but better at that.
To avoid your iOS device being drained by an iRig Pro or one of IK Multimedia’s other iRig devices, you need some sort of power solution. iRig PowerBridge is IK Multimedia’s own solution to the problem. It’s a tiny power/data splitter that sits in-between your device and the iRig device. It delivers power to the iPad or iPhone as well as to the iRig device you’re using.
Instead of painstakingly white balancing your footage, you can also make it approximately right and let Xe8472 take care of the rest. Lemke Software’s FxFactory plug-in with the mysterious name Xe8472 is based on the colour constancy concept and claims to automatically correct the colour of your footage, but does it?
ScopeBox displays video scopes, regardless of whether your clip is processed with EditReady — before you transcode them — or Final Cut Pro X, Premiere Pro and other apps. It does so via ScopeLink, a clever system that allows ScopeBox to integrate with a slew of supported applications, including SpeedGrade, various versions of After Effects, Prelude and Pomfort Silverstack. In addition, ScopeBox provides scopes for live sources such as BlackMagic Design and Aja input equipment, and for movie clips stored on your disk(s).
Offloading videoclips should be the simplest of tasks for video producers and editors, but it isn’t. Red Giant introduced BulletProof several years ago, only to quietly remove it from their product range a while back. They now have you use Offload, a simplified version of BulletProof that offloads one volume at a time to an original media disk and a backup. ShotPut Pro is the industry’s current standard for offloading. Its version 5 can offload multiple folders and volumes to multiple disks, but its interface remains a bit clumsy. Enter a new player in this field: Hedge for Mac.
What I first thought to be part of some free perks that come with an iRig product, turned out to be quite a wonderful sound and groove app/plug-in. SampleTank 3 SE has great sounding and real-world audio samples and works both as a stand-alone app and a plug-in to your DAW.
It’s been a while since EditReady was first released. Since then I’ve only used Squeeze and Episode. I have them on my machine and they’re industrial workhorses so why would I choose something else? Speed could be a significant factor and quality of output of course. I decided to try them all with a GoPro HERO4 UHD clip and the results sort of surprised me.
iRig PRO is a compact audio and MIDI interface you can use with XLR-microphones, a guitar and bass, a keyboard and other line-level sources and MIDI controllers. It features an XLR and 1/4″ combo jack for connecting microphones and instruments, and a MIDI input for plugging in a controller. I was very curious to know if this small box would have the quality you need when shooting video with an external audio interface. Traditionally, this would mean using a Zoom H4n sound recorder, but if you have an iPad, an iRig PRO could do the job as well.
Shooter Suite 13 is the latest upgrade of Red Giant Software’s application bundle for video shooters. The suite is targeted at offloading video from camera recording devices to your system as well as ingesting video into your NLE so that it is instantly usable. Shooter Suite 13 includes Offload 1.x, PluralEyes 4, Instant 4K and Frames. Of all the included apps, PluralEyes 4 is the most important one and the only app to have received a major feature upgrade.