I'm an advertising photographer/videographer based in Los Angeles, California. My mission is to create striking advertising photography, corporate photography and editorial photography of people for major advertising agencies, fortune 500 corporations and major magazines. I shoot photography and video assignments throughout California including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego as well as the rest of the world. As a photo educator I am happy to share my unique vision and methods. I'm currently teaching classes at College of the Canyons in video production for professional photographers and photography students. I give workshops, seminars and lectures on short form video production at colleges, organizations and conferences around the world.

What’s Your Codec?

Posted: October 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Canon, Canon 7d, Education, Final Cut Studio, video production, Workflow | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

When I first heard Codec I thought the person was saying Kodak and I thought how quaint, they were making some reference to the old cameras.  Well, there is a lot of emphasis placed on different codecs in video and you should know why.  First, the idea of a codec is nothing new to digital photographers, we just don’t usually refer to them as codec but rather formats.  Codec is really short for code/decode or compression/decompression scheme. We have them in still photography as Tiff, Jpg and so on.  In video common ones that photographers run into is H264 coming out of the Canon cameras like the 5D, 7D and T2 which are commonly transcoded into one of the many variations of Apple ProRes.

As photographers, we are all aware that some types of coding will change and adjust the amount of data the represents an image.  If we code a Tiff into a Jpg we are throwing away some data to make the file smaller and quicker to open, in video, it kind of goes both ways.  You still code from a more data filled format like ProRes into a more compressed format like H264 to make a smaller and easier to open video file for web browsers.  But and this is a big but it doesn’t work the same for editing in video.  With the present speed of computers it is hard to edit accurately in the highly compressed H264 at 30:1 because it takes so much processing power to decode (decompress) each of the 24, 30 maybe even 60 frames a second in video that the computer falls behind and skips frames in an attempt to keep up.  If your computer is skipping frames you cannot edit precisely very easily.

While it might be counter intuitive, it is easier to edit if you transcode the video file into at larger data format like ProRes than using a highly compressed H264 30:1 format.  With the ProRes codec the video plays smoother than h264 and allows easier frame by frame edit decisions.  There are endless discussions as to the different codecs to transcode into and which version of each codec to use.  In ProRes, transcoding into anything more than the ProRes LT or regular for  H.264 30:1 from the Canon cameras is generally thought of as a waste.  Those codecs seem to catch all the information that can be used from the more compressed H.264 without creating excessive made up data.

There is more to this including color space of different codec and transcoding applications, which I will get to in later blog entries.

Until then, did you hear the one about the editor who walks up to a woman in a bar and says, “What is your Codec?”  She turns to him  and says …

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Talk Like a Pirate Day

Posted: September 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Hoodman, Litepanels, video production | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Talk Like a Pirate Day was the perfect day to go to the annual Pirate Faire and get in a little filming.  It was a bright sunny afternoon so seeing the LCD in liveview mode on the 7D was going to be a challenge.  I knew the action was going to be fast and unscripted so I had to be able to quickly get the framing and start shooting.

I decided this would be the perfect time to give the Hoodman Cine Kit Pro a workout.  In the past, I had simply held the Hoodman Loupe against the back of the camera with my hand but over time that becomes uncomfortable and awkward.  This time I wanted to be ready quickly and be able to shoot over a period of time which made the Cine Kit Pro a possible solution.

Initially the Cine Kit Pro might look like a little overkill, but once you understand the built-in features, it makes sense.  The loupe is held into place with the crane arm that slides and locks into the camera’s hot shoe.  It has a cold shoe on top for small lights like the Litepanels MicroPro.   This meant  I could walk around with the camera with the loupe in place ready to block out the sun for a clear view of the LCD .  The cool thing about the crane arm is it can swing up and to either side moving the loupe completely out the way of the viewfinder which is certainly easier than unhooking and resetting the loupe each time you need the viewfinder.

The crane is sturdy so with the normal amount of care, I easily spent the afternoon walking around ready to shoot.  When I came across a group of belly dancers that presented an interesting opportunity, all I had to do was frame and shoot.  With the Cine Kit Pro, the bright sun was no problem and I could focus and zoom instead of holding the loupe.

I was able to shoot a variety of clips of the dancers that will make up content for future blog entries on color balance and color matching in Final Cut Pro.

Hoodman Cine Kit Pro in action

Hoodman Cine Kit Pro Close Up

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Peaking For Better Focus

Posted: June 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: video production, Workflow | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Cinematographer Gale Tattersall, DP of the TV show House mentioned the value of Marshall Monitor’s Peaking filter. Focusing with any present HDSLR is an issue. Canon DSLR lenses with their very short focus pulls are problematic which is exaggerated by the very shallow depth of field. Gale used a series of Canon lenses with the assistance of Marshall’s HDMI 7 inch monitor in Peaking Filter mode to keep critical focus. I might have suggested considering the use of either Zeiss’s HDSLR or Cine Lenses with long focus pulls and color matched glass.

Either way, Marshall’s Peaking Filter would have come in handy. A peaking filter is used to help in getting a sharp focus which is especially hard with the tiny LCD on the back of HDSLRs that is normally used. How it works is the picture is turned into Black and White on the Marshall V-LCD70XP HDMI monitor with a red color appearing in the edges of areas where the picture is in focus. Peaking Filters work best after setting the picture to the best exposure and there is good contrast in the areas that need to be focused on.

There is the added benefit of being able to place the camera in positions, such a high or low angles, where focusing with the camera’s LCD would be difficult, by using the appropriate length HDMI cable and being able to continue to pull focus.

Peaking Filter

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Good HDSLR Sound

Posted: May 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beachtek, Canon 7d, Sennheiser | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Sound recording remains the Achilles’ heel of Canon’s HDSLRs.  Although the recent 5D Mark II firmware update lets you manually control audio levels, there still are issues.  The 5d connector is a mini stereo plug, so you have use an adapter to use most professional quality microphones, which use XLR connectors.  Beachtek has a handy solution in the DXA adapters which give you 2 balanced XLR inputs, 1 auxiliary mini-jack input and dual MIC/Line level switches, all packaged in a metal case.  An exception to the XLR connector issue is a wireless system like Sennheiser’s very nice EW G3 100 wireless system that gives you a choice of connecting to the camera via mini plug or XLR adapter.

Sennheiser also has the on-camera mounting MKE400 small shotgun mic which is great for reportage and much better than the onboard mic but not very good for most productions.  On camera is usually not the best position for a microphone as placement is for best picture not best sound.  Of course, there are pigtail adapters from mini plug to XLR but that puts a lot of strain on the mini connector, so try and figure out some method of strain relief.

Beachtek-DXASLR

The 7d is still completely automatic gain controlled, or should I say out of control, audio with no explanation why Canon is able to do a firmware update for the 5D but not the 7D.  Of course, the 7d has the nice selection of video formats, which the 5D does not.  The 7D chip size is close to feature 35mm film size which gives both a similar DOF look, which is another plus. Beachtek comes to the rescue with two DXA adapters that both have agc disablers.  By disabling the agc and manually controlling the audio levels, you will not have the wild swing in your audio recording that often causes distortions and problems in editing your sound.

I will give each of the Beachtek adapters their due in up-coming entries.  Until then, remember sound is often considered 50% of the production until it’s bad sound and then it’s 80%.

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5d with 44.1 kHz vs. 7d with 48 kHz sound? What’s the problem?

Posted: January 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Apple, Canon, Canon 7d, video, Workflow | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

First, what is being referred to is the sample rate or how many times a second sound is being measured. Without getting too deep into the science behind sound,  to have good sound it should be sampled at  least at 40 kHz to capture the higher frequencies.  So the 5d with its 44.1 kHz is sampling at a rate that is high enough to capture the higher frequencies and is considered CD quality often used for music.  Digital video cameras generally use 48 kHz to capture sound, as does the 7d, which is considered one of the professional sample rates.
A warning here is that some DV cameras that offer four tracks of 32 kHz which can lead to compromised sound quality.
To convert  5d’s 44.1 kHz sound to the  DV standard of 48 kHz is easy to do.  You will actually do it when  converting  the 5d H264 files to a more friendly format for FCP editing like one of the Apple ProRes422 formats.  If you are using Compressor from the Final Cut Studio suite, simply make sure to go to the inspector panel and select sound settings.  The settings should be the following:  Format: Linear PCM, Channels Stereo (L,R), Rate: 48,000 kHz, Render Settings: Quality Best, Linear PCM Sample size 16 bit.  This will bring the audio up to the correct sample rate without distorting the sound.

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Dates: Secrets of Video Production for Photographers

Posted: January 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Apple, Education, Lighting, Workflow | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »
Secrets of Video Production for Photographers
There has been an explosion of interest in video both by clients and photographers in the last year. Fueled by technology that is making video easier to produce and distribute, a vast new market is being created for photographers with the right skills.

Workshop info and dates below evening events info

Thursday evening
Events
9pm Dinner 6-7 pm Presentation starts 7:15 pm

Lee White’s evening presentation including videos will go over the steps photographers need to know in creating video and photography in tandem.

During the evening he will discuss:
– The photographer’s unique position for this new market
– How photographers can apply their present skills to video
– The creative planning stage and what new concepts photographers need to think about
– Pre-production and additional considerations when shooting video
– The tools and techniques of video production
– Post-production in the photographer’s studio

FREE SOFTWARE: SmartSound will give each attendee a free copy of their Sonicfire Pro 5 software along with free royalty-free music.

There will be a copy of Apple’s Final Cut Studio raffled off.

More giveaways from LaCie and Hoodman.

The latest equipment and software by Apple, Panasonic, Zeiss, Redrock Micro, SmartSound, Beachtek, LaCie and Hoodman among others will be at the event for photographers to see.

Los Angeles information for Thursday January 14
6pm-9pm Dinner 6-7 pm Presentation starts 7:15 pm

5th and Sunset Studios,12322 Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 900064

How much: APA MEMBERS ARE FREE! Full time students $20 with id all others $35 RSVP Call 323-933-1631 or email director@apa-la.com

LA Thursday evening event

Denver information for Thursday January 28

6pm -9pm Dinner 6-7 pm Presentation starts 7:15 pm

Stage 3 at Denver Pro Photo,235 South Cherokee Street,Denver, CO 80223

How much: APA MEMBERS ARE FREE! Full time students $10 with id all others $25 RSVP Call 323-933-1631 or email director@apa-la.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Denver Thursday evening event

Atlanta information for Thursday February 4
BIG Studio, Suite E, 887 West Marietta Street Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30318
www.bigstudiorental.com

Registration:
$10 for APA members – $15 at the door
$20 for AIGA or ASMP members – $25 at the door
$25 for non-members – $35 at the door
FREE for student & assistant APA members
$5 for students or assistants
Join the APA and your admission is free!
Contact Lindsay Lewis APA Atlanta Director
director@apaatlanta.com

Please check back for New York February 11 and Chicago March 4

Sponsored by: Apple, Panasonic, Zeiss, RedRock Micro, SmartSound, Beachtek, LaCie, Hoodman

Saturday Workshops
10am-5pm

Now is the point in time when photography and video come together. In the last year, the idea of photographers producing video has exploded and photographers are now gearing up to take advantage of this interest.   As advertisers and magazines turn to video on the web, cable and mobile devices to get out their message, there are more opportunities than ever for you to do video in tandem with your photography to capture new clients and sell video services to existing clients.

Producing video creates a fundamental change in your workflow, so you need new tools and techniques to take the step from photography to video.  You need to learn what the new technologies mean to you from a photographer’s point of view.  This is why Lee White has created an intensive all day workshop to help guide you into video. This workshop will go in depth about each step of video production so you can start producing your own video.

The Saturday subjects will include:
– The importance of workflow including recording formats
– Estimating and planning combined photography and video shoots
– Understanding lighting, filming and sound techniques for video
– Camera, lighting and grip equipment demonstrations
– Editing demonstrations

FREE SOFTWARE: SmartSound will give each attendee a free copy of their Sonicfire Pro 5 software along with free royalty-free music.

More giveaways from LaCie and Hoodman.

The latest equipment and software by Apple, Panasonic, Zeiss, Redrock Micro, SmartSound, Beachtek, LaCie and Hoodman will be demonstrated.

Los Angeles information for Saturday January 16

Helms Daylight Studio
3221 Hutchin Ave. #E
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Cost: $149.95 per person, APA members will receive a 10% discount refund* on confirmation of valid membership.

*Please put membership number in special instructions to seller and the discount refund will be given at the workshop as the APA member enters.

Denver information for Saturday  January 30
Stage 3 at Denver Pro Photo,235 South Cherokee Street, Denver, CO 80223
Cost: Early registration until Jan. 8 $99.95 regular registration after Jan. 8 $129.95 APA members 10% discount.

*Please put APA membership number in special instructions to seller, discount refund will be given at the workshop as the APA member enters.

Atlanta information for Saturday February 6

Where: BIG Studio, Suite E, 887 West Marietta Street Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30318, (404) 874-6111 www.bigstudiorental.com

Cost: Early registration until Jan. 22 $129.95 regular registration after Jan. 22 $149.95 per person, APA members will receive a 10% discount refund* on confirmation of valid membership.

*Please put membership number in special instructions to seller and the discount refund will be given at the workshop as the APA member enters.

Please check back for New York February 13 and Chicago March 6
sponsored by: Apple, Panasonic, Zeiss, RedRock Micro, SmartSound, Beachtek, LaCie, Hoodman
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Canon 7d video hybrid camera first production model in US

Posted: October 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Canon 7d, video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Canon 7d the new DSLR with expanded video capabilities; I just received one of the first production Canon 7d cameras in the US. It probably comes as no surprise to most of my clients and professional friends, since I have been shooting tandem stills and video in my projects for a decade now, that I would be one of the first to get this camera. In fact if you look back a few blog entries, you will find I announce the 7d just a few hours after Canon officially announced it in Sweden in the middle of our night. Why Sweden? I have no idea. I like Sweden; I have shot in Sweden and found it a beautiful and welcoming country.

Since many of my projects include video as well as stills, a DSLR with good video capabilities was something I am very interested in. Yes, I shot with the Canon 5d MarkII and found it somewhat lacking in a few critical areas. Mainly it was restricted to the one HD format of 1080p (progressive) at a true 30FPS, which is a non-standard frame rate for anything. Plus the sound is not only automatic gain controlled but also recorded in 44,100 kHz, which is CD quality instead of 48,000 kHz, which is digital video quality.

The canon 7d has taken care of the format issues by giving us five HD formats – Full HD in1080p at 23.976, 1080p at 25 and 1080p at 29.97, HD in 720p at 59.94 and 50, all of which are standards for NTSC and PAL, see one of the images below. The audio is still automatic gain control but has been bumped up to a DV standard of 48,000 kHz in linear PCM. At this point, I should probably bring up the chip size which is the smaller 22.3 x 14.9 AFS-C which some might think is not the direction to be going in but I find it a positive move. This is near the same size as 35mm movie film and so the look is very similar. One of the problems I found shooting with the Mark II was the depth of field at times was so shallow that even trained actors would shift slightly and end up out of focus on close-ups. Remember the auto focus is virtually non-existent shooting video with these cameras; you need to manually pull focus if you are tracking focus.

The controls on the camera body have changed as well. The on and off switch has moved to just below the mode dial and there is just a lock switch where the on, off and lock used to be. I guess this prevents one from turning the camera off when trying to unlock the settings. There is now a dedicated liveview shooting button that also turns on and off the video recording. The print button has the added feature of being a one touch Raw-Jpeg button. Another completely new button is the Quick Menu button that gives you quick menu in the LCD to change shooting functions.

canon_7d_back

Canon 7d back showing video formats

Enough tech stuff; what about shooting with the 7d and the images? I was looking forward to trying one of the new Zeiss prime lenses out with the first outing with the 7d but no joy there. I ended up using my trusted Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4 lens but remember the smaller sensor creates a 1.6 magnification. A side note: you can do a decent job of zooming and short follow focus with this lens if you give yourself a bit room to start as the lens seems to jerk a little at the beginning. I wanted to test the contrast range with the 7d considering the 5d has been noted for crushing the blacks so I picked a friend’s gloss black and chrome classic Harley-Davidson (see the video test below) for a dramatic subject. The 7d does show a real time histogram with livepicture in the still mode, but there is no realtime histogram in the video mode. After shooting a bit of footage, I took a look at its histogram and there still appears to be some crushing of the blacks although the highlights seem to have very full gradations and there is good rendition through to the lower values. This is a very unsophiscated real world test but I’m not sure how valuable shooting color charts are either.

Classic Harley_Davidson on Canon 7d

Classic Harley_Davidson on Canon 7d

The weekend brought almost 30MPH winds to the California coast preventing my doing the girl at the beach test I did with the 5d. However, it did bring some angry seas with interesting waves, so I tried the different formats to get an idea of the motion representations. I also braved the wind out on the break water to get some clips of the seagulls floating on the winds to get another motion test of the three NTSC HD formats (see sample clips below of coastline, wave and seagulls.)

The clips were converted for the web and so don’t fully represent the original footage which would be impossible to stream. Videos by www.leewhitephoto.com

New Canon 7d camera used by Los Angeles photographer Lee White to shoot video along California coast.

New Canon 7d camera used by Los Angeles photographer Lee White to shoot video along California coast.

1080p @ 30FPS

1080p @ 30FPS

1080p @ 24 FPS

1080p @ 24 FPS

720p @ 60FPS

720p @ 60FPS

wave1080p30-poster

1080p @ 30 FPS

1080p @ 30 FPS

1080p @ 30 FPS

1080p @ 24 FPS

1080p @ 24 FPS

720p @ 60 FPS

720p @ 60 FPS

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First production Canon 7d in the US

Posted: September 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Canon, Canon 7d, video | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Having one of the first production Canon 7d DSLRs in the US I have to think of what glass I want to put on it. Photographers love their glass, they love the rainbow colors reflecting off the multicoating, the image snapping into focus and the silky smooth feel of a fine rotating focus barrel. Up until now, photographers have had to live with the manufacturers line of lenses which are often very good especially the high end models or after market brands of varying quality with an occasional standout. Now there is a growing line of very high quality lenses that are especially well-suited to the latest DSLRs with video capabilities.

Still photographers now have access to a line of extraordinary Zeiss prime lenses much like feature filmmakers have been able to use for years. (Lenses that are still compatible with many of the electric functions of the camera but that have been set up to have an exquisitely long manual focus pull that make manual follow focus and track focus much easier.) The very wide prime aperture, along with its nine blades, ensure that the effects of the out-of-focus areas of the picture have an attractively balanced “bokeh” so highly prized by cinematographers.

Zeiss has already created a line of Nikon mount lenses and is starting to fill out the Canon mount lens line of a Planar T 1.4/50mm and Planar T 1.4/85mm with the just announced Distagon T 2.8/21mm and more to come. For more information on Carl Zeiss SLR Lenses go to www.zeiss.com/photo.

I have already decided on my first tandem still/video production with a friend’s classic bright red convertible Corvette and a romantic couple along the beautiful California coast.

Zeiss Distagon f2.8 21mm lens for Canon cameras

Zeiss Distagon f2.8 21mm lens for Canon cameras

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