Category Archives: Film

A Lens Review


Now for the first post about what this blog was originally intended for – a review of something relevant to filmmaking!

My Lens

This is the chosen one.

So, I am reviewing the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro. That’s a long name, but it’s needed because Sigma do three 70-300mm lenses, all around the same price range, and all looking fairly similar. There are also some competing models from both Tamron and Canon (because I use Canon I can’t be bothered to review the Nikon one, but all these lenses word with Nikon as well) They are:

  1. Sigma 70-300mm DG Macro (My one, £130)
  2. Sigma 70-300mm APO DG Macro (It has a red ring :O, £180)
  3. Sigma 70-300mm DG OS (No red ring, £230)
  4. Tamron 70-300mm AF LD  (£100)
  5. Canon 70-300mm AF EF (£240)
Out of these, I chose the one in bold. I shall give you some reasons for this.
I shall say first that I currently own a Canon EOS 300. That means not a digital one, a film one, and I currently have plans to buy a Canon 600D. It is therefore necessary that this lens fit both a Full Frame Censor (the film one) and a APS-C sensor (the cropped digital one).
Firstly, when I walked into a shop (yes, I still do that kind of thing) and asked to check if the Sigma 1. fitted on my camera, I was immediately struck by the great build quality of the lens: it felt reassuringly heavy, but not too heavy. It also has a metal mount, meaning it is less likely to break off the camera by accident.
Then, I asked to compare it with the Tamron, and it was really a pointless question. For only £30 more, you get a lot more quality, although I would argue that the Tamron looks nicer, but that’s really irrelevant.
The reason I didn’t buy the others was mainly for price – I was trying to buy the best lens I could for under £150, and I definitely chose the right one. But, if unlike me the money doesn’t matter so much, I would go for the APO DG, mainly because of the better quality glass, and, or course, that red ring 🙂
One last thing – the Macro on the end of the name actually does mean something. If you zoom in to between 200 and 300mm, you can switch on Macro mode, allowing you to focus up to 1.5m away from the camera, and allows a Macro ratio of 1:2, just for any wildlife photographers out there.
I would post a video, but I couldn’t find any decent ones about this specific lens. More to come soon – I’m buying  a bigger camera bag to fit all this gear into, and I’ll post a review on that when I have decided.
Alex, signing off.

Adobe touches on Apps


Adobe Touch Apps

Just a little bit amazing.

So finally Adobe has started developing for mobile devices. Previously, their best attempt was Photoshop Lite or somesuch, but now things have changed.

Adobe have finally realized their potential when it comes to utilizing the ever growing potential of tablets, and specifically the iPad 2.

These Apps look incredible, in fact they look as if they could be the best Apps ever made. And, they’re reasonably priced, too. At only $10 or £6, you can buy one without the risk of hating it so much that you think you should never have bought it. Then, if you do like it, then you could buy the rest of them. The thing that Adobe might want to think about is something in the style of an App Suite, meaning if you know you want to buy all of them, they could give you a discount.

This was a very smart marketing move, after the massive mistake Adobe made when it unveiled Muse as a subscription only service. This sparked a massive debate and many potential users decided not to buy. You can take a dip into that conversation here, but don’t be surprised if the page takes half an hour to load because of how long it is. Look! A video.

But definitely, I will try these out as soon as I get an iPad. Which may be some time.

The title’s funny, cos they’re called Adobe Touch Apps.

Alex, signing off.

Remembering Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs holding an iPhone 4

Steve Jobs was the great driving force behind Apple

I think it would be fair to say that the world was shaken today by the death of Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs. This was entirely unexpected – people knew he was ill, seriously ill, but the general idea was that he was in a stable condition.

Steve Jobs could have been one of the most successful and busy men the earth has seen today. He co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. Through his time at Apple, it is possible to say that he was one of the great master-minds behind nearly every single product, from the G2 way back in the day to the iPhone 4 (but sadly not the 4S). That means that he had a major role in developing pretty much everything that you could walk into an Apple shop and see, and everything on their website. This man had a very active life, so one might have thought that he would pull through better than he did, but you never know.

In 1986, after being effectively kicked out of Apple, Steve Jobs buys PIXAR, the computer animation company behind titles such as the Toy Story series, Flushed Away and many others. He revolutionized it and lead it to a state where he could successfully sell it to Disney, at a great profit. At this point, he returned to Apple and completely revolutionized that too – he brought Apple to the state it is in today, with some of the most innovative and imaginative and ultimately useful pieces of technology around at any time. He thought up the idea of putting the letter ‘i’ before devices, to suggest integration with the internet, but now they have evolved into so much more – the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. These devices have revolutionized the world we live in today, and for that we should remember him as one of the pioneers of technology.

Here is an interesting video, made by ABC News, remembering Steve Jobs.

On a final note, Apple has just published a page on their website  to demonstrate how much he meant to all the people at Apple, and if you want to pay your respects, you can send Apple an email at rememberingsteve@apple.com.

Alex, signing off.

Editing Programs and the Arguments they Bring (and FCP X)


The Clash of the Editing Titans

Hello All,

You may know that I make films. Hopefully you’ve got the hint from the name of this blog. If not then maybe you shouldn’t be here. Anyway, as you probably know there are three main stages to making a film – pre-production (scripting, casting and other planning etc..), production (shooting) and post-production (editing, VFX and distribution etc…).

During the crucial stage, editing, the whole outcome of the film can be decided. Therefore, people have to make sure that they use reliable, stable programs that won’t crash on them at the last minute. There are a great many programs that fit this bill, but which is the best? This argument is probably a.) the most long and b.) the most pointless argument in the history of filmmaking.

Firstly, the three main competitors in this so-called “fight” are:

  1. Premiere Pro (by Adobe, latest version CS5.5)
  2. Final Cut Pro (by Apple, latest version 7 or X depending)
  3. Media Composer (by Avid, latest version 5.5)
For one thing, all the companies begin with A. This has nothing to do with what I’m actually talking about, but I thought it was interesting). Secondly, they all support roughly the same file formats and they all have roughly the same features.
However, the main difference is that PrPro and Media Composer work on Mac and Windows, but FCP only runs on Macs. This is mainly because Apple make Macs and Apple makes FCP.
Another notable difference is that PrPro can work with pretty much any raw files (files that come straight off a camera) natively (with out conversion) but the other two can’t. This is a great advantage for people who use lots of different types of cameras (and especially DSLRs) and need a quick production workflow.
But now, onto FCP X. For most users, it is a very good and useful piece of software. In fact, after getting to know it a bit more, you may find this better than FCP 7. But I’m afraid to say that it’s just not very stable. I wouldn’t trust it with any commercial work for several reasons.
  1. There is no re-connect media.  This means that if (for instance) you realize you’re running out of hard drive space and you move all your footage to a new location, FCP X will decide that you need to completely restart your project from scratch. Not good. I have also heard that occasionally it will just ‘loose your footage’ itself, meaning that you have no way of continuing your project : you have to restart.
  2. It no longer supports multi-cam edits. During a (not so) recent project ‘Ratz’, I was using four cameras to film a play in the round. Luckily, due to PrPro’s multi-cam thing, all I needed to do was sync my four cameras once at the beginning, then run the multi-cam window and just play through, clicking on the angle I wanted, much like a virtual gallery. It is also included in FCP 7 and AMC, But no, this tool was denied to us in FCP X. This means that I would have had to re-sync the cameras every time I wanted to change from one camera to another, which must have been about 100 times in 120 minutes.
But there are also other grouches I have with FCP X. For one thing, it does look a lot like iMovie ’11. This in itself is not a bad thing, but

FCPX...

considering you’re paying over £300 for it, I would hope they coudl improve some of the graphics etc… although I do think that it’s rolling shutter filter (again the same as iMovie) is the best in the world (although maybe not since the introduction of the Warp Stabilizer in After Effects CS5.5, I’ll have to do some tests on that).

I think the real problem is that FCP X behaves like a consumer program (iMovie) but is trying to fill the boots of a much more professional piece of kit, which it fails to do miserably. So, for me at least, I won’t be using it for anything on which I’m on a deadline or anything that I’m doing for not myself. FCP X has been dubbed iMovie Pro and iMovie on steroids, which is perhaps not as unfair as it might seem.
Alex, signing off.