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Tyler Purcell

Tye's Sony Rant

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Well yes you must have had some technical or camera problem then.. because if anything you want to over expose LOG .. under expose wil give you noise..

We had a perfectly exposed image on set in the monitor and on the viewfinder. I had my waveform's up for the entire shoot and one of my two AC's was constantly monitoring it. According to everything on set, it was perfect.

 

didnt even know that in Cine EI mode WB is locked to preset..

None of us believed a camera manufacturer would force the user to be locked out of critical functions.

 

there was obviously a sizable experience/ knowledge gap between yourself and your trusted AC.. with this camera and Slog settings/in general ..

That was pretty much the only thing that we struggled with on set. All the other settings, even though they did take a while to get right, were fine. We had 3 people on my crew + a DIT, all of them had worked with the F5/F55 many times, they chewed through the menu's super fast and were on top of things.

 

The f55 is pretty popular the days.. esp with the netflix 4K thing.. the fs7 is often rented as a cheaper f5..

The FS7 has it's benefits over the F5/F55, it's more of an ENG camera. Here in Hollywood, they are just unused cameras for some reason and likewise, the knowledge about them is a bit weak, even at the rental house.

 

But just as a final point.. there are many ,many people getting very good results out of the f5.f55 fs7 .. all around the world.. and even more with the fs7..they have had massive sales globally .. and arguably the most used camera on the planet at the moment.. to the point were Zeiss release their most recent cine zoom lenses only with E mount !!

The FS7 is popular with ENG and the F5/F55 with documentary filmmakers. Sony's feature set is unmatched in my opinion, but to get all of those functions, you need to spend a lot of money. Other manufacturers like Arri and Blackmagic are fighting to capture that same market, but neither one has the solution yet. Until someone does, the F5/F55 will be a unique camera and I understand the value of it's existence. At the same time, I'm not a fan of feature-rich cameras because there are a lot of compromises for the features I may never use.

 

I really feel you had some camera setting wrong.. that uniformly made everything under exposed.. most likely your LUT to scope /WFM settings.. you know they read the LUT right.. not the under lying Slog..?? the fs7 can you actually chose.. pre LUT or post LUT.. its just impossible for the camera itself to take your readings and magically under expose everything.. or you recorded the LUT .. also easily done on the f5/55 if you dont know the settings .. logic just has to point to user error.. with this particular camera ..

It's pretty improbable the camera recorded a different signal then what was on the monitors. It was also improbable that my calibration of the monitors was wrong since it matched the EVF and I've been calibrating them since I was 14 years old. The fact there is an option to adjust your WFM LUT settings, is scary. Histograms and WFM's should be attached to the imager settings, rather then the record settings. Plus, the camera automatically sets up a base LUT when you select SLog, so if the camera didn't set the right LUT, that would pretty much the only instance of this being a problem. I highly doubt that was the case, we went through and triple checked to insure everything matched at the rental house.

 

Again, if a camera is this complicated to use, there is little to no point in using it.

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Sounds to me like you where shooting in CineEI mode with a few stops of gain applied. It would look as expected on a monitor and would meter correctly if you were metering for the gain. The recorded file would end up under exposed however as this mode doesn't bake the gain into the final output, it is only there for monitoring.

Edited by David Hessel

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Sounds to me like you where shooting in CineEI mode with a few stops of gain applied. It would look as expected on a monitor and would meter correctly if you were metering for the gain. The recorded file would end up under exposed however as this mode doesn't bake the gain into the final output, it is only there for monitoring.

poop really? That's the first explanation I've heard that makes sense.

 

If this is how these cameras work, I'm flabbergasted. They're even worse then I thought.

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It a feature of many sony cameras all the way back to at least the F3 and F35, which is where I first encountered them. The mode is designed to emulate the workflow of film. The camera always records at base ISO, like film stock, and you can rate it however you like knowing that you will make the adjustments in post. It is probably also why there are only a few preset WB options, again emulating film.

 

However it is an option, one I personally prefer. The camera doesn't have to operate that way, at least on the sony cameras I have used - I have never used the F55. Just another example of why you have to know your tools before you go out and use them.

Edited by David Hessel

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It's how it works; the idea being that in post you'd "set" it to how it was on set. Got me to when I pulled out a FS7 the first time; but wasn't a major issue down the line. Was also mildly annoyed, momentarily, but the baked in WBs, but since we were shooting raw (on a F55 at that time) it didn't really much matter to me in the end and I went back to film-style adding gels as needed, or using a warming filter. Was a bit of a brain reset since arri/red don't work that way; but not a deal breaker.

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None of us believed a camera manufacturer would force the user to be locked out of critical functions.

 

We had 3 people on my crew + a DIT, all of them had worked with the F5/F55 many times, they chewed through the menu's super fast and were on top of things.

 

These two statements would seem to contradict each other.

 

Basically, you jumped into a new camera system without taking the time to learn how to use it properly. A quick google search, and 20 minutes reading on XDCam User would have answered all your questions. But you didn't bother, and it came back to bite you, and now, rather than admit that you messed up, you are blaming a perfectly good camera system for your own errors.

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poop really? That's the first explanation I've heard that makes sense.

 

If this is how these cameras work, I'm flabbergasted. They're even worse then I thought.

 

On a side note this is the kind of attitude that really rubs people here the wrong way. You messed up, no one on your crew knew the camera system they where using. This was a mistake that was easily avoided if proper preparations where carried out. Mistakes happen but mistakes like this are really not forgiveable and will affect your reputation. Turning around and blaming the camera only makes it worse. A quick search online or read through the manual would have explained what CineEI mode is and how it works with gain.

 

The take away from this shouldn't be I will never use a Sony camera again, it should be I will never go to a shoot unprepared again.

Edited by David Hessel
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Hi Tyler

 

The f5/f55 doesn't set a LUT when you select Slog.. you have to do that yourself..the default is no LUT.. you get Log in the EVF and SDI out.. and again I would say how come the 3 crew and the DIT that were all very familiar with this camera.. none of them had any idea that the WB was locked to preset in Cine EI.. they just cant have been very familiar ... it would be the first thing you would learn using f55 and Slog.. no..? esp the DIT.. sorry but it does all point to some user error.. Im not saying it was yours .. but somewhere in the line things went pear shaped.. your camera crew patently did not have a good knowledge of the camera as you believed ..

 

Ah I think I might have the reason.. in cine EI mode the camera only records at native ISO.. 2000 ISO f5/ 1250 ISO f55.. . to give max DR above/below grey.. like shooting film.. you can of-course rate the camera differently .. alot of people put the ISO down by half.. to 'over expose" on purpose to help with noise levels..when corrected in post.. but if you bumped the ISO up .. then you would be under exposing your recorded image.. with your monitors looking ok..

 

oh I see this is already covered.. !

Edited by Robin R Probyn

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The mode is designed to emulate the workflow of film. The camera always records at base ISO, like film stock, and you can rate it however you like knowing that you will make the adjustments in post.

It's not a great way to work because film has greater ISO capability. Plus, with film you would try to push in the lab rather then in the optical or digital process. Thus, by the time it made to the printing or scanning process, the exposure on the negative would be exactly how you set it on set.

 

I do understand the Red works this same way, it add's the gain in post instead of in camera. The only difference is that Red's metadata system works flawlessly, so it automatically makes the image have the proper exposure with simply applying the base LUT.

 

I'm just saying it should be "foolproof".

 

It is probably also why there are only a few preset WB options, again emulating film.

Sure, but Sony's imager is cold compared to film.

 

However it is an option, one I personally prefer. The camera doesn't have to operate that way. Just another example of why you have to know your tools before you go out and use them.

Umm, but it does if you want a Slog file.

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I believe you can use slog without cineEI on some cameras at least. I could be wrong about that though, I always use CineEI with slog because I am trying to maximize dynamic range. Gain of any kind will cause the loss of some latitude.

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The take away from this shouldn't be I will never use a Sony camera again, it should be I will never go to a shoot unprepared again.

Prep is always a problem and it won't ever change for my productions. Most of the time I show up and either bring my own package or there is a random camera sitting in a box. If I'm incapable of picking it up and making a decent image out of it, then they'll just hire someone else. This is kinda of the way the industry is going these days for ultra-low production. I make my money by being able to shoot fast, edit and color, so they have a finished product in their hand with ONE person doing it all. It's good money and I like the diversity of not doing ONE JOB, it's more creative. There was a point where I wanted to be a full-time cinematographer, but after doing a few movies, I decided against it. I love shooting, but the hustle, the stress, the early mornings, long hours, travel and little sleep, my body just can't deal with it. So now, I make industrial/commercial stuff and the hours are more normal, the schedules are less crazy and I'm paid over a much longer period of time.

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Prep is always a problem and it won't ever change for my productions.

 

 

That's actually your choice. You can choose to accept those terms or not. Your choice.

 

This is kinda of the way the industry is going these days for ultra-low production.

Because you choose to let it. There has always been this drive, it's not new "these days" it's been happening for decades. You're just choosing to forgo actually proactively taking control of your shooting circumstance and giving yourself a better chance of success. And then you're kind of bragging about getting away with it. And saying the one time you didn't, it was the camera's fault.
JB
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"Umm, but it does if you want a Slog file."

 

Sorry thats not correct .. fs7/f5/f55 you can all set to any Slog in custom mode.. again it really does all seem to point to lack of knowledge of the camera than inherent problem with Sony cameras..

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Prep is always a problem and it won't ever change for my productions. Most of the time I show up and either bring my own package or there is a random camera sitting in a box.

 

This is clearly not a good way to work but even if you can't get the budget to rent the camera a head of time you can at least find out what camera you are shooting with, download user manuals and research it online rather than walking in blind. This time it wasn't necessarily an issue of lack of experience with the camera but rather a lack of knowledge about it.

 

If I'm incapable of picking it up and making a decent image out of it, then they'll just hire someone else.

 

This is pretty much what just happened.

Edited by David Hessel

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This is pretty much what just happened.

Well my boss and the client were all happy with the results, even though I wasn't.

 

We're actually about to book the next two shows, probably in the next week or so. I will probably move over to the URSA Pro if I can find one for rent. Ohh yes, I can create a stellar image without even going into the menu's. Three taps on the display and the thing it set.

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This is clearly not a good way to work but even if you can't get the budget to rent the camera a head of time you can at least find out what camera you are shooting with, download user manuals and research it online rather than walking in blind.

Well yea, it's a horrible way to work. I haven't shot with a camera or lighting package that I really wanted in... ohh 15 years? :P I just got use to it and I've collected a bunch of old poop in my garage and that's my kit. For low budget stuff I roll over to Wooden Nickel the day before the shoot, grab two M18's, some flags, c stands, doorway dolly/track and a generator. The whole thing costs like $350/day for a 3 day week + insurance. I then bring the junk in my garage with me and some gel's and we make a movie. I'm blessed when the filmmakers have some short ends they scored and we shoot on film, because my film kit's are no joke. Otherwise, it's my pocket cameras (boring) or some shitty 4k camera and I try to talk the filmmakers into shooting with my pocket instead so at least it's 10 bit 4:2:2 LOG.

 

For the industrial/commercial stuff, I've got an awesome gaffing team and they come with everything. Their ballasts are old, make noise and poop, but they can throw a lot of light which is nice. They also listen to me and make the changes I want, without hesitation, which is nice. I love having a cooperative crew and my first AC and DIT are amazing peeps, love working with them, we have a good time. The 2nd camera operator is the son of the producer and we're good friends, so it's always nice to see him on those shows.

 

I haven't needed a "user manual" in my entire life. Why should I start looking at them because Sony refuses to make something that's intuitive?

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That's actually your choice. You can choose to accept those terms or not. Your choice.

There generally aren't terms. Rent is due, project is offered, I go make project, I pay rent. That's basically the life of someone who isn't "career" minded.

 

There has always been this drive, it's not new "these days" it's been happening for decades. You're just choosing to forgo actually proactively taking control of your shooting circumstance and giving yourself a better chance of success. And then you're kind of bragging about getting away with it. And saying the one time you didn't, it was the camera's fault.

If I had one day with a Sony trained professional imaging technician, to run tests and check stuff, it wouldn't have made one iota of a difference. My problems aren't systemic, I've said that over a dozen times on this thread. Quite a bit of the stuff looks fine, perfectly exposed, not a single problem at all. So those tests would have been great and we would have shot with identical knowledge. I also didn't pick the modes, the guy we brought on specifically with Sony F5/F55 experience, he made those decisions. Frankly, I absolutely hate digital imaging cameras from every brand, because I'm tired of technology controlling what I can and can't do. Initially with CCD cameras, you had very few settings, all of them were very basic. But today, all of the modern CMOS cameras have dozens of detailed menu's that control various functions, 99% of which are worthless, but unless you go out and figure out what that stupid button does, you'll never know. And that's just it, I'm not going to waste my time because some engineer in Japan feels filmmakers in Hollywood want a certain feature. This is why I love film cameras so much because for the most part, they were made and designed specifically for this industry. They are simple machines that do a very basic job; transport film. To me, that's what simplicity is what we've lost with the art of cinematography. Today we spend all this time messing around with technology and not enough time focused on what we SHOULD be doing; telling great stories. Yes I know that's a bullshit rant, but when I work with the top digital cinema cameras and I have quite a bit of experience using them, they all drive me bonkers in one way or another. The only camera company I can live with is Blackmagic Designs because they think the way I do.

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Hi Tyler,

 

I never trust a DIT or AC to set up the digital camera when I'm shooting. If something goes wrong, I'll be to blame in any case.

 

It seems to me that you should just go out and buy a camera that you're comfortable with and have it always ready to go. You can just rent the lenses that you'll need.

 

I wouldn't pick an URSA, but that's just me :) I learned deep crazy menus on the original Varicam!

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I haven't needed a "user manual" in my entire life. Why should I start looking at them because Sony refuses to make something that's intuitive?

What a ridiculous attitude to have. Again, how you can call yourself an educator when you yourself refuse to learn is beyond me.

 

There generally aren't terms. Rent is due, project is offered, I go make project, I pay rent. That's basically the life of someone who isn't "career" minded.

 

he guy we brought on specifically with Sony F5/F55 experience, he made those decisions. Frankly, I absolutely hate digital imaging cameras from every brand, because I'm tired of technology controlling what I can and can't do. Initially with CCD cameras, you had very few settings, all of them were very basic. But today, all of the modern CMOS cameras have dozens of detailed menu's that control various functions, 99% of which are worthless, but unless you go out and figure out what that stupid button does, you'll never know. And that's just it, I'm not going to waste my time because some engineer in Japan feels filmmakers in Hollywood want a certain feature. This is why I love film cameras so much because for the most part, they were made and designed specifically for this industry.

Except that your guy with F5/F55 experience apparently didn't know anything about CineEI mode. Or maybe he did, and you just refused to listen to him.

 

You're complaining that modern cameras have too many 'worthless' controls, and at the same time moaning that CineEI mode locks you out of those controls.

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Well my boss and the client were all happy with the results, even though I wasn't.

 

We're actually about to book the next two shows, probably in the next week or so. I will probably move over to the URSA Pro if I can find one for rent. Ohh yes, I can create a stellar image without even going into the menu's. Three taps on the display and the thing it set.

 

Your boss was happy with you spending at least a week extra working to correct a mistake you made during a shoot, is also OK with you just walking into a shoot totally unprepared and the client didn't mind the extra time and expense spent in post (assuming you didn't just eat the cost and not charge the client) for a sub standard product? All of this on a shoot that was so low budget you couldn't afford a day extra rental to test the gear.

 

 

The files were already transcoded to DNXHD for Avid and they imported very smoothly, with audio attached, my workflow worked wonderfully. Yet, the first files I opened, were still under exposed, more so then Avid can even fix internally with it's grading tools. So I edited the show, did the best grade in Avid I could and then re-graded all the bad shots in DaVinci. It was a very time consuming process because the show has lots of little green screen shots and we went about a week over-time as I had to re-process something like 200 clips by hand. Just an FYI, I had just finished a feature shot with C300MKII that needed A LOT of work, but the entire grade took me a week. Where just the fixes for this F55 show took me a week, that's how complicated the issues were. When you'd raise the luminance, you'd blow out the background and the color would shift dramatically (green screen work). So I had to build traveling mattes for the background to roto them out and keep them from blowing up. I made a few templates in DaVinci using the freeze frame tool and basically applied it to all the shots and manually re-did the mattes. The net result was a MUCH BETTER grade then the original, but nothing compared to a proper grade.

 

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The first time I rented the F55 I went through Alistairs blog thoroughly to find out all I could about the camera. Fortunately for me someone in the Sony ICE program was at Duall checking out a few lenses at the time I rented it and he was kind enough to answer a lot of questions I still had about it. So I was able to go into my shoot very prepared. I definitely recommend that for anyone considering the camera. If you have a film background, it'll be an easy transition. If not, there's a bit of a cognitive hurtle with the whole Cine-EI mode.

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I never trust a DIT or AC to set up the digital camera when I'm shooting. If something goes wrong, I'll be to blame in any case.

Agreed, I mean I always set up the camera the way I want it, but in this particular case there is more to the puzzle then on other cameras.

 

It seems to me that you should just go out and buy a camera that you're comfortable with and have it always ready to go. You can just rent the lenses that you'll need.

Exactly. I actually own three packages right now, complete with glass and support; 16mm (XTR PROD), 35mm (35III) and BMPCC. I'm going to add another digital cinema camera and some more glass to the mix, hopefully later this year. I want a Red Dragon because it's so sought after, but I'll probably wind up with a URSA Mini 4.6k Pro, only because I can take the extra money and put it towards more glass and some light grip equipment.

 

I get a lot of business with the film stuff, I'm slowly becoming one of those sought after low-budget film guys in LA. My cameras are actually booked through mid September and I'm on half of those shoots as an AC and operator. So yea, they were a good investment.

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Agreed, I mean I always set up the camera the way I want it, but in this particular case there is more to the puzzle then on other cameras.

 

Which you would have known, had you not refused to spend even a few minutes researching it.

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reply to Michael,s post

 

Yes actually Cine EI mode is very very simple.. you are locked out off most of the menus.. Sony are assuming, as is fairly reasonable, in this mode, the footage will have a full and proper grade.. with suitable software.. and by someone who has experience in log grading..set it up.. takes 5 mins tops..presuming you or your Sony expert AC does actually know the camera .. :).. throw in a REC709 M(monitor) LUT to monitor and EVF and shoot.. its easer than custom I'm many ways..

 

Its very much like using film.. with an extra WB.. the ISO is constant.. but you can rate it however you want..

 

The one thing that can lead to disaster is recording the MLUT.. its all plainly marked in the Monitor LUT menu.. but make sure MAIN / INTERNAL is OFF !!.. that seems to be the main gotcha that happens..

Edited by Robin R Probyn

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Your boss was happy with you spending at least a week extra working to correct a mistake you made during a shoot, is also OK with you just walking into a shoot totally unprepared and the client didn't mind the extra time and expense spent in post (assuming you didn't just eat the cost and not charge the client) for a sub standard product? All of this on a shoot that was so low budget you couldn't afford a day extra rental to test the gear.

 

 

So did you charge them for that extra week?

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