After using the Panasonic AF100 on a few productions now, I’m finally getting mine dialed in to where it is comfortable to use in a cinematic environment.
With the addition of the AJA rod mounting plate on my Ki Pro Mini, the rig finally feels stable enough to use in daily work. Before, the recorder was affixed to a Noga arm and simply rested on the rods. Now, it is securely fixed to them, and the Anton Bauer Hytron 140 battery is now secured to the second accessory plate on the Ki Pro Mini, and not zip-tied to the rods like before (hey, you gotta do what you gotta do on set sometimes…).
I’ll get a chance to try the rig out again this weekend when we continue filming for “Arose The Coward.”
I had a job last weekend, directing and shooting a commercial for a prominent local plastic surgeon. The client wanted a cinematic look, with models in various scenes shot in a fancy house. Check. With my 1AC, Dave Novak, and Supergrip Greg Ventura, we knocked it out in what ended up being a really fun day of shooting.
Since the client wanted a cine look, I of course used my Panasonic AF100 to shoot the spot, relying on Zeiss primes and a Canon 16-35/2.8 L II to refract the light for me. Footage was recorded via HD-SDI to an AJA Ki Pro Mini.
The client wanted everything to be in slow motion, so in order to get the footage onto the AJA recorder, I had to shoot in 720/60p and convert to 30p in post, as the Ki Pro Mini does not support variable frame rate mode… yet. Hopefully a firmware update will fix that problem soon, and yes, it is a problem. To be fair though, I don’t know of a recorder that does support 1080p/60 yet, although I think the Cinedeck might. At $10k though, I’m not even going to bother to go to their website to check.
Since I knew the client was going to want a significant amount of post processing, I wasn’t about to record to AVCHD; I had to go 4:2:2 out to the Ki Pro Mini.
The shoot went really well, and I’m very happy with the results. The best thing about this shoot is that this job allowed me to pull the trigger and order my copy of DaVinci Resolve, so I can finally update my color grading capabilities into the 21st century. It should arrive Friday. I can’t wait to try it out on this commercial!
BTW, I learned on this shoot that although they are of the finest glass, Schneider filters still won’t survive a fall onto a large rock. Take that wisdom with you into the future.
I took delivery of my AJA Ki Pro Mini yesterday (I lucked out and found one at Adorama – they had two at the time, but I suspect the other one is already gone), and after ferreting out two CF cards that are fast enough to handle the ProRess422 (HQ) stream that the Mini will drop onto them, I took it to set this evening to shoot another scene for the “Piracy” trailer.
But before I did that, I made sure to do a couple of comparison tests with footage that was captured to the camera’s SD card. Below is a combined screen cap of the scopes in Final Cut Pro of frames that were recorded simultaneously.
The top image is if a frame that was recorded to the camera’s SD card via the AVCHD codec, than transcoded to Apple ProRes422 (HQ) with the FCP log and capture function. The bottom image is of a frame that was recorded to the AJA Ki Pro Mini from the camera’s HD-SDI port, and converted on the fly to ProRes422 (HQ) by the mini. Visually both clips were very similar, with the slight nod going of course to the HD-SDI frame. However, the real advantage to the native ProRes recording comes in post.
Both clips were dropped into the same FCP timeline and had the same [very] basic color correction filter applied to them. Note the difference in the histograms between the two after the color move was applied. The frame that was recorded with the Ki Pro Mini held together nicely, while the AVCHD frame broke apart immediately. Imagine how much worse it would be with larger color moves applied to it.
The AJA Ki Pro Mini is really easy to use on set. It automatically detects timecode in your SDI signal and starts recording when you hit the button on the camera. By my estimation, a 32GB card gets you about 20 minutes of storage. Not bad.
It’s also smaller than I thought it was going to be. It actually fits on the rails quite nicely behind the camera. One thing that I do find unsettling about it, though, is that it gets quite hot. That’s understandable, considering the amount of work it’s doing, converting uncompressed video to ProRes422 in real time. That takes a lot of horsepower. Still, though, when you pull the cards out of it, they can be very hot indeed. Not sure if that affects the life of the card or not.