Thursday, January 27, 2011

Video Short: Snow on 30th Avenue

I have to admit, I'm almost tired of shooting pictures and videos of snow myself. However, I'd heard thunder outside during the storm and wanted to catch it on video. Unfortunately, when I got outside, there was none to be found, but I did some shooting anyway.

Camera: Canon S90
NLE: Final Cut Pro
Color: Apple Color

I'd shot my last video in the snow using a Canon HF200 HD camcorder. Looked pretty good, but what frustrated me was that I was still seeing noise in the darker parts of some shots even though it was daylight out. Since I was heading out to film this snowstorm at night, I grabbed my Canon S90 digital still camera instead. I figured that with its larger sensor, it would do better with noise, and as far as I can tell I think I was correct.

I did run into a problem with the S90 footage in that, even after transcoding to ProRes, the footage always required rendering in the Final Cut Pro sequence whenever filters are applied or changes to opacity for fade-ins/outs (this is even using a sequence with settings matching the S90's frame rate and resolution). The only point where this really became a problem was in color grading, so to make life easier, I just sent it over to Apple Color and did all the corrections there.

There's nothing of particular note in the color grading. Apple Color would seem overkill, but this was really just to be able to make and assess my corrections in realtime without rendering.

As with the last video, the purpose of these really short pieces is to improve my speed with editing and post-production. So this one took about 2.5 hours to edit and color. It's not a terribly polished piece of work, but hopefully another stepping stone for improvement.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Video short: Snow in the Yard

Camera: Canon HF200
NLE: Final Cut Pro
Color: Final Cut Pro, Magic Bullet Looks

I filmed this during the blizzard on December 26th, 2010. I wrapped the lens in plastic wrap (for better or worse this is apparent in some of the shots), and put part of a zip-lock bag around the body. While I'd initially thought this would be a great chance to get a little crazy with Magic Bullet Looks, once again I found myself inclined to use it with restraint. I balanced the shots using the 3-way Color Corrector in Final Cut Pro, and then used Looks to give it the cool blue look (I started with one of their blue looks and then tweaked from there). Looks was also helpful in applying some vignettes and filters to add some texture into what at times appeared to be just a mass of white on the screen.

The shots of my brother Mike shoveling snow actually did have a blue look to them in the first place, as this was relatively late in the day. However, the earlier shots didn't match this, and the tonal range overall was very compressed, so I had to balance and stretch everything out anyway. Resultantly, there's a lot of noise here. At some point I'll need to spring for a de-noiser plugin, but will live with it for now.

I'm also trying to keep track of how much time cutting and post is taking me. Editing and post for this took 10.5 hours, spread across 3 evenings and 2 lunch breaks. I'm trying to get faster, so I'll be keeping track of this sort of thing from here on out.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow in Astoria


Two weeks after getting hit by a blizzard the day after Christmas, New York City gets yet another snow storm. This photo was taken at 11:00 PM. As of reports from earlier today, the heaviest snow is still yet to fall and should arrive after midnight.

(I must admit that this is one of those photos in which I made it black and white because of the amount of noise in the image).

I'm starting to accumulate a backlog of photos for processing and editing; will hopefully get on that and then get a batch of shots up here soon.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Some snowy photos

I spent Christmas and New Year's at my family's home near Philadelphia; during the week in between I was back in New York to work for a few days. Of course, the famed snowpocalypse/blizzard arrived on Sunday, December 26th. I took my video camera out into the yard of my parents' house during the blizzard itself, but haven't yet had a chance to edit that footage; so here are a few photos of the snow aftermath.

Couple crossing 30th Avenue in the snow

This is my favorite photo from this batch. While I was editing these photos, I had originally put this into black and white. It made the two figures on the lower right look a bit more dramatic, but in the end I stuck with color because the red lights in the image seemed to lead my eye into the frame and add depth.

Seventh Avenue, Post-Blizzard

Rather than take the subway all the way from Penn Station to Astoria, I crossed above ground to the Herald Square N-train stop in order to grab some pictures along the way.

Police car buried in snow near Penn Station.

New York City Transit, under the snow

To NYCT's credit, I got home safe, sound and promptly on Monday night (though I have read stories of other travelers who did not fare as well).

Spectators watch the Time Warner Center Holiday Lights.

Pictures of people watching light shows are probably better than pictures of light shows.

D.J. Reynolds, one of my very favorite bars in the city.

Sunset on 30th Street Station Train Platform

This is from the train station in Philadelphia. I had been on the far side of the platform away from the windows, noticed some nice sunset lighting catching on my bags, and snapped a picture. I then realized that it wouldn't be the most terrible thing in the world for me to reposition my bags to take a better picture, and got this one instead.