January 2006 Archives

The U.S. Census Bureau has a great demographic GIS tool called the FactFinder. Give it a whirl in your neighborhood.

SonyHDR-HC3.jpgInformation and specs on the newest Sony HDV camcorder - the HDR-HC3 - have been leaked on CamcorderInfo.com. The new HC-3 appears to be a new lower-end consumer version of the wildly popular HC-1 model. The HC-3 looks like it will have less pixels, is smaller, and won't have as many manual controls. The killer for independent filmmakers is the lack of external microphone and headphones jacks, as well as no way to adjust the shutter speed.

The NYTimes (registration required) has a nice article about a new practical emphasis at the USC film school (what a concept!):

Twenty-seven-year-old Rain Breaw is determined to become a movie director, so despite the prevailing wisdom, she is going to film school.

"The general opinion is if you want to be a filmmaker, you'd be better off taking a production assistant job, and learn by doing," Ms. Breaw said during a break from classes at the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television, where she is in the final year of the three-year master's program. "But if you're not a child with connections or have parents who can fund you, your only choice is film school."


Given the odds, Ms. Daley explained, it is unrealistic for the school to focus on training great filmmakers. Hollywood, just a half-dozen miles away, is eager for educated young people to fill the many needs of the entertainment machine — editors, cinematographers, producers, agents and executives.

"If you want to make the great American film — how long will that take any individual to get where they want to be?" she asked. "Who knows?"

Lawrence Turman, head of the school's producing track, is equally blunt. "I treat it a little like a trade school," said Mr. Turman, a producer of "The Graduate," "American History X" and a score of other films. "Because the school is located in Los Angeles, I try to make it practical. Where do you find material? How do you develop it? Where do you get the money? How do you make it? How do you sell it?"

Adam Wilt reviews four HDV camcorders on DV.com (registration required): the Canon XL H1, JVC GY-HD100U, Panasonic AG-HVX200, and the Sony HVR-Z1U:

The Canon XL H1 was the resolution champ amongst the 1/3" cameras, with a crisper, visibly more detailed image than its compatriots. To my eye it showed slightly more noise than the HVX200, with the noise being a fine-grained luma noise compared to the HVX200's slightly softer, more chroma-oriented noise. I preferred the Canon's noise signature as being less video-like, but Barry preferred the HVX's noise for exactly the same reason--you'll want to judge for yourself. In any case, there was potential to reduce the visible noise in the Canon's image that we didn't explore; we'll have to do that in a later test.

The Canon clipped highlights a bit more harshly than the HVX did; it was comparable to the Sony as best I remember. Again, had we set the Canon's knee to "low", we might have eked out a small increment in usable highlight detail; how much so I can't say. Something else to test on another day...

Just when I was about to spend $400 to get the MicroTrack 24/96 despite its many bugs (proprietary lithium-ion battery; 30V phantom power), Roland comes to the rescue with a new model also priced at $400: the Edirol R-09. The various blogs have picked up on it already, so read previews at CreateDigitalMusic.com and Transom.

On first glance it seems ideal: runs on 2 x AA batteries (NiMH ok), uses SD memory cards up to 2 gig, can record 24 bit x 48khz, and can use external mics or line-in as well as its own built-in stereo electrets.

Thom Hogan has a prescient blog entry dated from December where he mulls the future of the digital camera industry. So far, one month later, his predictions seem remarkably on the mark: http://www.bythom.com/2006predictions.htm

Info: Location sound

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Via Sam Longoria's great blog is a link to Ken Stone's White Paper on Location Sound. This is absolutely necessary reading for all budding filmmakers - documentary or otherwise. While you're on Ken's site, check out his extensive list of articles and reviews on Final Cut Pro and other toys.

I'm selling my 1993 Honda Civic CX Hatchback for $1600 and my 1987 Mitsubishi Mightymax Pickup for $500 (new price!), as well as some miscellaneous camera equipment. More info after the jump. These cars are both in New Haven, CT.

This link is making the blog rounds: http://www.scannerphotography.com/

Fascinating experiments with a large format camera and a Canon LIDE scanner grafted onto each other. The relatively slow movement of the inexpensive scanner (110 second scans) produces wonderful temporal and motion distortion. His site has gotten hammered because of its popularity, so visit one of the links given on his page.

When it rains, it pours.... Konica-Minolta has just announced its withdrawal from the camera and photography business -- including digital photography. They are transferring most of their camera assets (including their digital Maxxum SLR series) to Sony. It's not surprising given that they lost JPY7,300 million on revenue of JPY117,000 million in FY2005 in their camera business.

Cameras: In camera business, we have reached an agreement with Sony Corporation(Sony), having numerous image sensor technologies such as CCD and CMOS, to jointly develop digital SLR cameras in July 2005. In order to continue to have our customers use Maxxum/Dynax lenses, and to maximize possibilities of the optical, mechanical and electronics technologies accumulated through development of SLR cameras in the years to come, we came to the conclusion that it was best to transfer assets concerning camera business to Sony. Since then, we have been negotiating with Sony, and as a result, we have reached an agreement with Sony to transfer a portion of assets regarding digital SLR camera system to Sony*1. In this relation, we have decided to withdraw from camera business*2, such as film cameras and digital cameras, within Konica Minolta Group as of March 31, 2006.

Sony is planning to develop digital SLR cameras compatible with Maxxum/Dynax lens mount system, so that the current Maxxum/Dynax users will be able to continue to use them with Sony’s digital SLR cameras. In addition, we will consign camera service operations for Konica Minolta, Konica,Minolta brand cameras and related equipment to Sony.

Photography: In today’s shrinking photographic market represented by color film and color paper, we have been considering to scale back and to continue photo business at an appropriate size; however, when we foresee the photographic market, it is quite difficult to maintain profitability in this field, and we have decided to withdraw from photo business. As schemed below, we will, as much as possible, avoid causing any inconvenience in providing products to our worldwide customers in the course of withdrawal.

Konica was Japan's oldest camera and photographic supply company. Minolta was one of the stars of the postwar camera boom. It will be sad to see both leave the market.

In other news, Pentax is merging with Samsung.

It looks like Fuji isn't the only one who is optimistic about the future of film. Carl Zeiss released a very upbeat article about this topic:

... And so does "Hollywood". Carl Zeiss, as a leading supplier of lenses for the motion picture industry, can see day-in day-out, that the vast majority of feature films is still originated on silver halide film. Film is the medium of choice for long-term archiving, and is expected to remain so for the foreseeable future. This is why we are so confident about the future of film.

and Zeiss has backed up their words with action, recently announcing a new series of manual focus lenses for the Nikon mount -- just as Nikon announces they are getting out of the film camera business. Of course there's nothing that says you can't put these lenses on Nikon digital SLRs:

Carl Zeiss AG of Oberkochen, Germany is about to introduce ZF, a new range of interchangeable lenses for Nikon SLR cameras, both analog and digital. ZF lenses bring the highly acclaimed Carl Zeiss image quality to the Nikon SLR camera system, which has been the preferred equipment of millions of professional and ambitious amateur photographers for decades. ZF lenses can also be used on the Sinar m professional digital camera and a multitude of industrial video cameras.

The first ZF lens will be the Planar T* 1,4/50 ZF, which, in its Contax RTS version, was rated the world's best fast standard lens by "Popular Photography" in 1999. It will be followed by the Planar T* 1,4/85 ZF, which in its Contax RTS version became known as a great portrait lens and story-teller.

Link: Canon EOS 30D


Photoscala is starting a rumour about the Canon EOS 30D, the successor to the wildly popular 20D:

  • 10.1 megapixels
  • 1.6X crop
  • 21 point AF
  • 7 fps

Rant: MacBookPro == iBook?


The new Intel-powered Apple MacBookPros seem very tempting on the surface for photographers and videographers. They have brighter screens and are rated for 2-3x the speed of the Motorola-powered PowerBook G4s. Intel versions of FinalCutPro are due in March.

However, from my own personal perspective, the new MacBookPros are more akin to iBooks than to PowerBooks. In particular, they are missing certain essential professional features:

  • Two FireWire ports/channels. The new units only have one FireWire 400 port. They need at least two ports so that you can connect an external FireWire drive on one channel and a DV/HDV camera on the other in order to capture video. With only one channel, that means the external drive has to be USB2.0 which is not as suitable for video work. Theoretically you could use the ExpressCard/34 to add another FireWire port, but these are supposed to be professional machines, right?
  • 1080i/p incompatibility. Apple should have increased the pixel density so that the new (brighter) screens were 1080 pixels in height, rather than reducing them to 900 pixels which will mean that 1080i/1080p playback is squished and not pixel accurate (which makes gauging critical focus difficult).
  • ExpressCard/34 which is only 34mm in width. I don't mind the switch from PCMCIA but they needed to use the wider ExpressCard/54 standard so that you can have a CompactFlash adapter that fits into the internals of the computer. With the smaller /34 standard, you have to have an easily lost external dongle for CompactFlash. This is a major bummer for professional photographers.
  • The name stinks.

I'll wait until the next iteration to upgrade from my current 15" PowerBook G4.

Fuji Film UK announces a film-only professional photography competition:

Jeanette Beattie, Marketing Manager for Fujifilm Professional Film Products explained the reasons behind the move to film only submissions: "Fujifilm Professional is dedicated to the continued production and promotion of professional film and the Distinctions Awards now reflects this commitment. All initiatives and promotions run by the Professional division must promote Fujifilm professional film products and users of these products."

Meanwhile, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle News announces that Kodak has a ..... new logo?

The new mark, based on a customized typeface, is designed to give the company a contemporary look but be flexible enough to apply in new ways and new venues across Kodak's varied businesses --everything from tiny handheld digital cameras to computer software to the letters on Kodak buildings around the world.

Notice the absence of any mention of film?....

Subject: [AnthropologyDisabilityResearch] Ed Roberts Postdoctoral Fellowship in Disability Studies, CALL FOR APPLICATIONS -- Due: February 15. 2006

To: Recipient list suppressed


Ed Roberts Postdoctoral Fellowship in Disability Studies
University of California, Berkeley
Institute of Urban and Regional Development
316 Wurster Hall #1870
University of California
Berkeley CA 94720-1870
Fax: 510-643-9576
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS -- Due: February 15. 2006
Professors Susan Schweik and Fred Collignon (Co-Directors)
Fellowship Period: September 2006- May 2007

We are pleased to announce open applications for our postdoctoral program funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (H133P020009). The goal of this program is to train postdoctoral and professional scholars, in any discipline, to be leaders in disability studies and rehabilitation research and mentorship. Based at the University of California, Berkeley, a San Francisco Bay Area Consortium of universities, research institutes, and disability agencies will recruit people with advanced professional degrees who want to broaden their theoretical outlook and their disability research methodological skills.

Link: DVEStore Theatre

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The DVEStore has a product review section that is quite unique -- all of the reviews are QuickTime movies. This of course makes sense since we're talking about video equipment.

Rob Galbraith breaks a news release from Nikon stating that they are stopping production of most of their film camera sales:

Nikon U.K. has published a press release announcing that Nikon Corporation (Japan) has decided to cease manufacturing most 35mm film SLR bodies, all large-format lenses and enlarging lenses, most manual focus 35mm lenses, and related accessories. more

In more positive news, the web is buzzing about Adobe's new Lightroom. I've downloaded it and it seems like it fixes the most serious of my peeves about Apple's Aperture -- namely the use of a proprietary database into which all images had to be copied. Lightroom is happy to leave your files where you want them. Michael Reichmann has a good review of both Aperture and Lightroom on his website.

Subject: PROG: Summer Program to Japan for Young Leaders with Disabilities

Mobility International USA (MIUSA) is currently accepting applications from young people with disabilities to take part in an international exchange program August 1-17, 2006, to Tokyo, Japan, entitled the US/Japan: Cross Cultural Perspectives on Disability Leadership and Volunteerism Exchange Program. Generous partial scholarships available. Deadline to apply is March 15, 2006.

As a non-profit organization, MIUSA is dedicated to promoting opportunities for people with disabilities in international exchange, leadership development and
volunteer service. Since 1981, MIUSA has offered international exchange programs for youth, adults and professionals with and without disabilities from more than ninety different countries.

Individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing as well as those who have a visual impairment, mobility impairment, non-apparent disabilities or any
other type of disability are encouraged to apply. MIUSA will provide appropriate accommodations to each qualified participant with a disability.

We are looking for young people between the ages of 18-24 whom you would recommend. Please encourage them to download an application from www.miusa.org. Generous scholarships are available.

The application deadline is March 15, 2006, though late applications will be accepted as space permits. Young people with disabilities from culturally diverse backgrounds and inexperienced international travelers are encouraged to apply.

For more information, please visit our website at www.miusa.org. Application materials are available in alternative formats upon request. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact MIUSA directly at exchange@miusa.org or by Tel/TTY at (541) 343-1284.

It's official: I have severe jet-lag. I woke up at 1:30 am and haven't been able to get back to sleep.... I've never had it this bad before, I wonder what's up with that. Maybe because I returned in the dead of winter, and there isn't enough sunlight to kick my melatonin cycle back into gear.

In any case, in my insomniac wanderings, I came across this article on the BBC website (of all places), titled: From Asperger geek to Aspie Chic - definitely a must-read and check out the links on the bottom of it too.

Meta: Back in New Haven

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I'm back from my three week fieldtrip to Japan. My research went well, and I visited and filmed the three fieldsites that I had planned to. Now of course is the problem of processing all of the tapes, fieldnotes, and books that I brought back.

Classes start on Monday...

One of the most difficult things for new faculty members to learn is how to say no to administrative requests. This is especially true in the case of minority faculty, as many university committees have designated spots for underrepresented faculty. Since minority faculty tend to be junior faculty, a disproportionate burden is placed on them. However, saying "no" can be difficult, especially when you're coming up for review.

Efficiency site 43Folders.com has a wonderful article and subsequent discussion on a compromise, the "qualified yes."

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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