Friday, July 15, 2016

The Big Fundamental

My 2009 Mac Pro has went through quite a rebirth.  New CPU, new GPU, internal Blu Ray burner, RAM upgrade, all four internal hard drive bays full, and now, for the final step, SSD drives.  With
all four hard drive bays full, I went with the Velocity Duo card which is actually a benefit as the SSD
drives perform much better on it then they would in the hard drive bays.  It's a pretty easy process.
Order the Velocity card and the SSD drives.....pictured below is what I went with:

First you just take out the SSD drive and line up the pins

and snap it into place on the card

And then you repeat the process for the second SSD

Now all that is left is to slide the Velocity card into an open PCI card slot....mine
went right next to the 980 Ti GPU.

Now for some benchmarks.  First I ran a disk 'speed test'.  Here is the results

Next for some real world tests.  First, I encoded a multicam dance performance
from AVCHD(FS700/100/VG20) to DVD using the default 'DVD' settings in
FCP X's 'Share' menu.  The timeline was about 1 hour and 22 minutes long.
And it took.....14 minutes to compress it to DVD!  But alas, I forgot to take
screenshots, and by the time I remembered, the project had already went out to
the client.  Yikes!  Luckily, I was just about to start another project.  This was
a multicamera play/performance.  It was 24 minutes long.  And it encoded from
AVCHD (FS700/100/VG20) to DVD using the same default 'DVD' settings
in FCP X's 'Share' menu in....5 minutes!  It literally is so fast that I click on
'Share' and by the time I can click the keyboard shortcut to take a screenshot
(Command/Shift/4) and take the screenshot.....the timeline is already 5% finished!

(See, in the above picture it is already 5% done in the time it took me to click 3 keys!)

(Started at 12:24 and finished with the encode at 12:29!)

So there you have it.  A 2009 Mac Pro, upgraded from a stock quad core 2.66Ghz model
to a six core 3.46Ghz,  a GPU upgraded to a 980Ti (6GB) GPU, and a couple SSD drives
which are on a PC card.  Not bad, not bad at all.  It's an older computer, but it can still
give the 'new kids' a run for their money.  As a basketball fan, I saw today that one of my
favorite players just announced his retirement.  Tim Duncan, who was still ballin and 
showing the young guys how it was done this past NBA season has hung it up.  I'll miss
watching him play.  He wasn't a showman and didn't talk a bunch of junk, he just went
out and performed like a 5 time NBA champ.  Truly an end of an era! And when this 
old Mac Pro finally retires I'll miss it too.  They really don't make them like this anymore.
I may just have to rename my edit computer 'The Big Fundamental'.

Gabe Strong
G-Force Productions Digital Cinema

Friday, January 15, 2016

Changing reality....

Sometimes when you are shooting a video....things
just don't work out for you.  Craft services forgets
your prime rib.  The star actor steals your director's chair.
A moose knocks over the rented Red Epic that you leave
for 'just a second' mounted on the tripod, while you look for
the caterer and the star actor so you can give them a piece of
your mind.  Or, even more our of the realm of
have a sunny day in SE Alaska!

So, in this case I was working on a promo video for an
afterschool program.  The script called for some shots, showing
depressed kids, looking out the windows of their house,
while rain ran down the window.  Creating a dreary mood.
How was I to know that when we FINALLY got permission
from the parents to shoot, that it would decide to be a beautiful
sunny day?  Juneau is in the middle of a rainforest, if there is anything
you can depend on,'s rain!  Except for when you can't.
Not having the option to reschedule the shoot, I decided to
do what every good cinematographer would do.  Just shoot and
and tell them that they can 'fix it in post'.  Except in this case.....I was
doing post as well!  Oops...what was that stupid cinematographer thinking??
Anyways, after the shoot was done, here is what the shots looked like.

Sun...sun.....and more sun.  How did this happen!?

Not exactly the mood we were going for!  Now to start poking
around to find out what can be done in post.  First, a little color
correction.  And push everything a little towards the blue, so it
doesn't look so sunny.  Next, how to make some rain?  I edit
in Final Cut Pro, but there is a great little companion program to Final
Cut Pro called Motion.  And I found a nice filter in Motion called 'Water Pane'
which looked like it did just what I needed.  It would put water drops
on a simulated window.  This filter is in Final Cut Pro as well, but often, this
type of thing is easier to do in Motion (kind of the poor man's After Effects).
In Motion, you can draw masks in, motion track, and all sorts of things.  Anyways,
after I duplicated the filter so I could create my own tweaked version (you usually
don't want to just use these filters 'stock') I dropped it on the clips.  But something
wasn't quite right.

So in the above picture, it looks like the window is behind
him.  You can see that if you look at the water running in the
areas the red arrows are pointing towards, on his ear and shoulder.
Obviously, in this shot, we want it to look like we are inside, looking
over his shoulder, out of a window, and that is NOT what it looks like!

Next, in the above picture, it looks like you are looking out of a
window at the subject.  In this case, we want it to look like he is looking
out a window at us.  Again, note the water running in areas where it
wouldn't be running (as pointed out by the red arrows) if he was
looking out a window at us.  So now, we just need to mask off the
areas where we don't want water to appear.  In other words, we create
a 'mask' where the water is 'allowed' to appear.  Easy to do by drawing
a mask in Motion.

In these two pictures, the mask, is the area which is red.  This is
where the water is 'allowed' to show.

And suddenly everything works!

Just for comparison's sake, here is a little video showing 'before' and 'after'.

And that is just a quick little example of how a person can 
change the 'reality' of the shoot, in post.  If you would like to see
the entire video, it is here:

Gabe Strong
G-Force Productions Digital Cinema