You are currently browsing the archives for the Video category.

November 12th, 2015

Watch a Film Camera and Lens Become Art

There’s an entire cottage industry in the tech world of “tear downs”–the disassembling of new gadgets to learn about their constituent components, see how easy they are to repair or to simply gaze lovingly at their innards.

Maison Carnot’s new short film “Disassembly” is a tear down, of sorts, but of older technology: in this case, a Fujica ST 705 film camera and lens. The goal wasn’t to learn about the camera so much as to use it to create a new work of art.

The process took an entire day, though condensed into this two minute film, the tedium becomes oddly mesmerizing.

November 5th, 2015

Lytro Moves into Virtual Reality with New Immerge Camera


Lytro built one of the world’s most interesting cameras, pioneering a new approach to capturing images that enabled users to refocus an image after it was captured. For all its novelty, Lytro had difficulty convincing photographers to buy into the concept and following a round of layoffs and an infusion of new capital, the company is trying its hand at something new, though closely related: cinematic virtual reality.

Lytro’s push into VR involves a new camera and an end-to-end system that will process virtual reality videos and output them for viewers like the Oculus. The system, dubbed Immerge, consists of a camera capable of capturing light rays from all angles of an environment, enabling Lytro’s software to not only calculate colors but depth from the viewer. The result, they claim, will deliver six degrees of freedom and make VR experiences more lifelike without having to stitch together individual frames. Rather than view a two dimensional image, Lytro’s technology will enable photo realistic VR experiences that edge closer to gaming, where users will be able to navigate within a scene.

Since a VR camera captures everything around it, including camera operators and production crews, the Immerge camera can be remotely controlled via Wi-Fi and operated using a mobile device.

Winter Forest

Joining the camera is a server to hold the voluminous amounts of image data it will generate. One server rack can store about an hour’s worth of video. Footage from the Immerge camera can be edited in standard programs like Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere through plugins Lytro is developing.

Lytro will begin to rent and sell the Immerge system in 2016. Exact prices weren’t announced, but a price tag of “several hundred thousand dollars” has been bandied about.

Just as the competition is heating up among lower-cost spherical imaging devices like Ricoh’s Theta, there’s now some serious movement for production-grade VR capture devices. GoPro and Google are giving beta testers access to a VR system they’ve co-developed, while Jaunt VR has built a bespoke VR production camera it’s already used to produce work for The North Face and others. Jaunt’s system in particular seems like Lytro’s biggest competitor, as it too can create stereoscopic images with depth–although it sounds like Lytro’s system will be capturing far more information.

Check out the video below for a few more details on Immerge.

October 29th, 2015

An Early Look at Footage from the GoPro Drone

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 9.19.07 AM

We’ve known since May that GoPro was building its own drone.

While we have no new specifics on said quadcopter, we do have some sample footage from the company that purports to show off just how steady the camera stabilization system will be in flight.

The footage was captured using a Hero4 attached to an advanced prototype of the drone. GoPro says that the video hasn’t been stabilized in post.

The video looks smooth, although it doesn’t look like they flew their drone on a particularly windy day.

See for yourself:

October 8th, 2015

DJI Osmo Is an Ambitious New Take on the 3-Axis Stabilizer

To get 3-axis stabilization for your video or stills, you’d typically have to mount your camera to a rig that weighs several pounds. To get sophisticated electronic control, you’re usually looking at an expensive, moderately heavy configuration.

DJI, well known for their drones and Ronin line of stabilizers, is looking to change that with a new stabilizer that lets you record high quality, highly-stabilized video in a very compact and affordable package.

It’s called the Osmo and it weighs under half a pound.

The Osmo essentially takes a modified version of the X3 camera introduced in the Inspire 1 and pairs it with a handheld controller and gimbal system.

The handle has controls for positioning the camera and changing shooting angles. It offers a panorama mode that will pan the camera in 360 degrees and stitch together the resulting image. You can lock it in place or shoot underslung or in flashlight mode, with the camera pointed straight ahead (the video below shows you all the Osmo’s smooth moves).

The handle has a tripod mount and a smartphone holder, which you can use as a viewfinder for the camera. Using the DJI Go app on your mobile device, you can change camera exposure settings as well as position the camera with the swipe of your finger. You smartphone doesn’t have to be attached to the Osmo for remote control, either. According to DJI, a mobile device can control the Osmo camera from up to 25 meters away via Wi-Fi.

The handle also features a stereo mic and a 3.5mm audio jack and DJI will offer several accessory mounts for the Osmo.

The camera that ships with the Osmo–the X3– features 4K video recording (4096×2160), 12-megapixel still image capture and a 94 degree field of view. The sensor is 1/2.3 inches in size. The camera can also record HD video at up to 120 fps. There are long exposure and time-lapse modes as well. It’s almost identical to the camera used in the Inspire 1 with a few minor modifications to the build–the core imaging specs are the same.

The camera is interchangeable too, and will work with any model in DJI’s Zenmuse line. If you want to improve the resolution, you can upgrade the camera to the recently introduced X5 and X5R for more cinema-quality features, including a larger image sensor, a Micro Four Thirds lens mount and RAW video recording.

The Osmo features a removable battery rated for about an hour of use and stores footage to microSD cards.

The camera and stabilizer will retail for $650 when they start shipping next week.





September 17th, 2015

Artist Turns Condemned Building into a Disposable Camera

There are camera hacks and then there’s Vancouver artist Joel Nicholas Peterson’s camera hack. For a project titled Blueprints for Observation, Peterson turned a condemned building into a huge camera obscura.

Here, in Peterson’s words, is how he did it:

“I made holes through the walls peering outside from within dark rooms facing north, south, east, and west. This camera had no lenses – just apertures measuring 1/8” in diameter allowing light into the rooms. This simple design is the ancient technique and phenomenon known as the camera obscura.

“The projected images were exposed onto lithographic film then developed with an experimental darkroom process using sprayers. The developed negatives were then used to make contact prints on watercolor paper using the cyanotype process. The outcome is a near 360° cityscape of film negatives and blueprint images from the perspective of a building that no longer exists.”

The negatives were huge, measuring in at 13-feet. The entire process is documented in the short film below.

September 10th, 2015

5 of the Coolest Things We Saw at Canon Expo


Canon gave visitors a unique opportunity to preview some of the technologies it’s currently working to perfect at its Expo, which opened its three-day stint in New York yesterday. Some of the most intriguing prototypes Canon had to show—including a 120-megapixel DSLR, an 8K video camera and 250-megapixel sensor—were announced before the Expo even kicked off. Still, we were able to catch a glimpse at a few other interesting products and technologies under development. Here’s what caught our eye.


600mm f/1.4 L Lens

Canon revealed that it’s working on a 600mm lens that will incorporate the new BR optics first introduced in the recently announced 35mm f/1.4 lens. Thanks to a combination of BR and DO (diffractive optics) elements, the new 600mm should be about 30 percent lighter than its predecessor. No other details were available.


Virtual Reality

Canon also showed off a virtual reality headset and 360-degree camera solution for creating virtual reality presentations. Unlike current VR headsets which strap around a user’s head, Canon’s prototype is held up to the face. The display has a 120-degree viewing angle and features two 5×5-inch screens with a resolution of 2560×2880. The omnidirectional camera system combines 24 Vixia mini X camcorders into an array that can record spherical video.


Smart Home of the Future

Somewhere between a Microsoft PixelSense Table and Minority Report, Canon displayed an interactive table that lets users engage with their photos in novel ways. Using a combination of sensors in the table and IR and other cameras mounted above, any camera placed on the table can have its images instantly displayed across the table’s surface. Users can swipe and pull images to get a better look, flick them across the table toward a TV where they are instantly displayed or drag them to a printer icon where they are made into tangible prints. The table can also bring analog images to life. A Canon rep placed a photo book on the table and the system scanned the images and pulled additional photos with similar tags down from a cloud library to display on the table (more pictures below).

It's hard to tell from this image, but the runner's body is raised about 1-inch or more from the media.

It’s hard to tell from this image, but the runner’s body is raised about 1-inch or more from the media.

Textured Printing

While photo printing on a variety of unique surfaces and substrates is not new, Canon is pushing to give prints a variety of different textures—like glass, wood, leather, snakeskin and more—through a dimensional printing process. The process creates photo prints up to 2-inches thick off the page using a UV curable inkjet press, layered ink and gloss coatings. Canon is already selling a version of textured printing to some of its commercial partners but the process under development will support more textures and greater depths. To our eyes, portraits printed dimensionally didn’t look quite as compelling as abstract patterns or objects like bricks and wood, which also felt startlingly close to the real thing.

Speaking of printers, Canon is also finalizing new photo inkjet printers in 17-, 24- and 44-inch sizes. They’ll use a new 12 pigment ink system, but no other details were available.

In this demo, Canon is recording four 4K streams from its 8K camera, passing it through a debayer box and sending four 4K quadrants into individual external recorders. To construct the 8K footage, the files from each external recorder must be merged in post production.

In this demo, Canon is recording four 4K streams from its 8K camera (which looks like its C300), passing it through a debayer box and sending four 4K quadrants into individual external recorders. To construct the 8K footage, the files from each external recorder must be merged in post production.

8K & HDR

Attendees were treated to a glimpse of 8K video on several displays—from a large movie projection to new 8K reference monitors still in the prototype stage. The footage was recorded with Canon’s new 8K image sensor, which was announced earlier this week. The 8K sensor can produce 35-megapixel still frame grabs from video files and offers 13 stops of dynamic range. As for data rates, 10 minutes of RAW 4K footage off the sensor generates 4TB of data, a Canon spokesperson said.

On prototype 8K reference monitors, the pictures were so sharp that even standing directly in front of the display with our eyes hovering mere inches from the screen and using a magnifying glass, the images looked crystalline and ultra-realistic with no hint of pixelation. The display in question had a pixel density of 300 ppi, which Canon said is about the limit a human eye can even resolve. From a normal viewing distance however, the 8K footage didn’t look noticeably different than 4K.

What was noticeably different from a distance was a high-dynamic range display. Canon showed off a prototype display capable of brightness levels of 2,000 nits. By contrast, the average display delivers roughly 200 nits and the next-generation high dynamic range 4K TVs will achieve between 600-1,000 nits, depending on the model and manufacturer. Using an HDR monitor, users will be able to see more of the image data recorded by today’s high dynamic range cameras.

Here’s a closer look at some of the technology Canon was demoing:

Canon's Smart Home concept. The smart table can use a picture frame to crop digital images.

Canon’s Smart Home concept. The smart table can use a picture frame to crop digital images.

An analog photo book comes to live as similarly tagged images and videos are pulled down from the cloud to the smart table.

An analog photo book comes to life as similarly tagged images and videos are pulled down from the cloud to the smart table.

Mounted above the smart table, a series of cameras and sensors track hand movements and more.

Mounted above the smart table, a series of cameras and sensors track hand movements and more.


Canon’s spherical image capture solution combines 24 Vixia mini X cameras.

Canon looks poised to refresh its professional inkjet printers. Three models, including this 17-inch mockup, were displayed at the Expo.

Canon looks poised to refresh its professional inkjet printers. Three models, including this 17-inch mockup, were displayed at the Expo.

By layering on the ink and gloss, Canon can create dimensional prints with textures that feel like the real thing.

By layering on the ink and gloss, Canon can create dimensional prints with textures that feel like the real thing.

With textured printing, you can feel the wrinkles and scars of a long life. If you're into that kind of thing.

With textured printing, you can feel the wrinkles and scars of a long life. If you’re into that kind of thing.

September 8th, 2015

Canon Pumps the Pixels in Product Prototypes


A 250-megapixel prototype with EF mount.

If you thought Canon’s 50-megapixel 5DS and 5DS R were the company’s last word on pixel-packed sensors, think again. The company announced that it has built a 250-megapixel APS-H-sized sensor that can read the letters off an airplane up to 18Km away. It’s also built a 120-megapixel DSLR with an EF mount. Oh, and an 8K video camera.

The announcements were technology previews–Canon won’t be shipping a 120-megapixel DSLR or 8K video camera just yet. Still, they are a glimpse of where the company is headed. Here’s what we know:

* A 120-megapixel DSLR with EF mount: Canon says that the “high-resolution images that the camera will be capable of producing will recreate the three-dimensional texture, feel and presence of subjects, making them appear as if they are really before one’s eyes.” RAW files will measure in at 232MB. Memory card company stocks will skyrocket.

*An 8K video camera: According to Canon, this Super 35 mm-equivalent CMOS sensor will record 8,192 x 4,320 resolution video, or 35-megapixels. It will deliver frame rates up to 60 fps with 13 stops of dynamic range. The camera body will have an EF mount and Canon says that 78 out of 96 EF lenses in its current lineup will be compatible with the 8K camera.

* A 250-megapixel APS-H-sized sensor: This one is really aimed at commercial applications like surveillance cameras. Despite the plentiful pixels, Canon said it’s still capable of shooting at 5 fps. The video off the sensor would deliver resolution that’s 30x that of a 4K camera. Canon said it aimed this beast of a sensor at a plane in flight 18Km away and was still able to distinguish the lettering.


July 22nd, 2015

PDN Video Pick: Casey Brooks and Acre Creative for Aéropostale

In a new 30-second spot for Aéropostale set to appear on a video billboard in Manhattan’s Times Square, Casey Brooks directs a squad of midriff-baring female dancers to illustrate the extreme elasticity of the brand’s new jeans. Creative director Brad Shaffer at the agency Acre Creative brought in Brooks to make the spot for Aéro, giving her a brief to capture an “appropriately sexy” vibe, evidenced by sweeping steadicam closeups of the stretchy jeans hugging the dancers’ curves.

“It’s not provocative, more positive,” Brooks says. She credits choreographer Mishay Petronelli with bringing an abundance of energy to the screen, choreographing seven different 30- to 45-second routines to seven different songs for Brooks to choose from when assembling the final cut with editor Manuel Barenboim. “It’s better for editing,” Brooks says of the music selection. “It gives you different energies to pull from.” The final spot features the Angel Haze track “New York.”

The dancers rehearsed for three days for the two-day location shoot in New York City. One took place on a rooftop in Brooklyn, and another in a warehouse in the Bronx. Petronelli, who has served as Beyonce’s stand-in on a recent world tour and will tour with Janet Jackson later this year, also appears in the video (you can catch her freestyling in front of a giant window). Brendan Stumpf was director of photography, and Ruy Sánchez Blanco the post producer.

The spot will run online as well as on a video billboard.

June 11th, 2015

Three Reasons to Go 4K

Sponsored by Samsung

Display resolutions don’t change often, but when they do, the change is momentous. When the world switched from standard to high definition, the revolution transformed both the media and electronics industries.

A similar revolution is underway again, as the world starts its trek from high definition to 4K or “ultra-high definition.”

As with any change of this sort, early adopters face a number of challenges before taking the plunge, but those who do strike early can be rewarded. Here are three reasons why now is the best time to invest in 4K.


Photo © Andrew Putschoegl

It’s the future

The consensus among market research firms is that 4K-television adoption is a matter of “when” not “if”—and the “when” starts just about now. The Consumer Electronics Association projects that 4 million 4K TVs will be shipped this year in the United States alone, up 208 percent from 2014. Worldwide, the trend looks similarly bullish. Futuresource Consulting pegs the global market for 4K TVs at 100 million in just three years, representing more than a third of every TV sold.

As those screens find their way into homes, the race is on to fill them with content that fully takes advantage of all that resolution. It’s why streaming services like Amazon and Netflix are rapidly building up their library of 4K videos, from original programs to feature films and documentaries. YouTube and Vimeo have also rolled out support for 4K video as well.

Whether your video is destined to be viewed on desktop monitors or TVs, creating a 4K “master” of your video is an investment in the future of your work, viewable on the highest quality displays ever built for the world’s living rooms.

It makes your HD video better

Many industries, such as wedding videography, don’t necessarily need to produce a 4K deliverable today. Even if you a client only requires an HD file, it can still make sense to shoot in 4K. All those extra pixels give you ample room to crop or reframe your video to improve image stabilization or remove extraneous detail without sacrificing resolution. You can pan across your 4K video using post-production software without rapidly running out of pixels.

Depending on how you’re shooting, a 4K-video file may also capture more than just additional pixels, but more color information as well. Armed with this additional color information, you can down-sample a 4K file to HD with improved color detail.

Screen Grabs Are Awesome


Enhance! Zooming in on a 4K screen grab / Photo © Andrew Putschoegl

Shooting in 4K doesn’t just mean high-quality video; it can enhance your still photography, too. Isolating still images from HD video produces images that are a measly 1920×1080 pixels in size or about 2 megapixels—barely enough for a decent print.

A 4K still frame, on the other hand, is a chunkier file, either at 4096×2160 or 3840×2160 pixels in size, depending on your setting. That’s equivalent to an 8-megapixel image, ample resolution to print by.

This doesn’t just mean that stills from your video production will be higher quality (though they will be), it also means you can use 4K video as a “burst mode on steroids” for moving subjects to capture images that your camera might otherwise miss. It’s not necessarily applicable in every situation of course, but it opens up new creative possibilities that aren’t available to you when shooting in high def.

Samsung and PDN recently launched the 4K Filmmaking Challenge, giving motion shooters the opportunity to shoot a short 4K film. One grand-prize winner will receive $2,500, an NX1 and a profile in a print PDN/Samsung supplement. Check it out at

May 13th, 2015

PDN Video: Gillian Laub on Winning Over Reluctant Subjects to Film “Southern Rites”

Gillian Laub: "Southern Rites" And The Challenges of Access from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

In 2009, Gillian Laub’s story in The New York Times Magazine about segregated high school proms in Mount Vernon, Georgia, stirred national outrage, which finally forced the community to integrate the proms. Afterwards, Laub faced down the hostility and threats of locals to work on a documentary film about race relations in the area. In this PDN video, she describes the challenges of filming where she was unwelcome, and how she managed to win the confidence of her subjects– including a murder suspect who had granted no media interviews before he sat down with Laub. Titled “Southern Rites,” the film debuts May 18 on HBO. Laub’s still photographs are showing at Bonnie Benrubi Gallery in New York City from May 14-June 27, 2015. Damiani will also publish a book of the work in June.

PDN Photo of the Day: Gillian Laub’s “Southern Rites”

Shaul Schwartz’s Reel Peak Films: A Production Company Devoted to Editorial Documentaries