I’ve covered the Big Valley Jamboreeseveral, times, now, and this year I wanted to create a virtual tour that showed how BVJ is more than just music. There’s partying, bull riding, music workshops, more partying, and of course country music.
I shot several still image panoramas with my Canon 5D-Mark III and the handy dandy Canon 8-15mmL fish eye lens.
I also shot two 360 videos using six GoPro Hero cameras on a stick. Everything was stitched together using PTgui and I used KrPano as the viewer.
I’ve been shooting RAW video with my Canon 5D Mark-III for a long term project and it’s simply otherworldly.
If you haven’t heard of this yet, the Magic Lantern firmware hack for Canon cameras allows you to shoot 24 1080p raw pictures per second now. Think of it as a continuous 24fps burst mode of raw pictures.
You batch convert those raw pictures into TIFF files and then change the image sequences into super-duper high quality video. Your Canon DSLR can now hold a candle to the RED camera or Black Magic Cinema camera. (Minus the professional workflow of course).
You have the same quality, dynamic range, colour control and exposure latitude as normal RAW still photos but with video!
The only downsides are file size (90MB/sec!), the need for expensive 1000X CF cards and processing time.
A hidden downside is the lack of timecode and metadata for your processed video.
Here you can see how the .mov file created by the raw2dng app has a file creation date different than the original video. I shot the RAW video at 8:42pm on June 20th but the ProRes video file wasn’t created until July 4th so it will be out of order in Final Cut Pro.
If you import a video file created by raw2dng into FCPX, the video lacks timecode and therefor will be arranged by the wrong time in your event browser. FCPX is all about metadata and you don’t want the video times to be wrong when working on a long-term project.
I’ve written a simple Applescript that will batch convert folders with TIFF files into 1080p24 ProRes422HQ video. It is included in the .zip file at the bottom of this post. If you just use the .mov files created by raw2dng then skip to Step #3.
The file creation date of our video file is different than the original RAW file.
Run my other Applescript which changes the file creation date of the new .mov files to match the .RAW files of the same name. This works for batch folders. You can find the script at the bottom of this post.
Now the .mov file creation date matches the original .RAW file. The video file still lacks timecode though.
Get the QTchange app for Mac. The demo allows you to do 8 files at a time or you can buy it for only $25 which is well priced. QTchange will add a timecode to the video files based on the file creation date that we set earlier.
Now when we import our converted video files the date and timecode are correct!
I’ve put the Applescripts used in this tutorial into a zip file you can download here. Feel free to share with credit.
The TIFF to ProRes422HQ script will need to be modified before you run it on your computer. Launch the AppleScript Editor app on your mac and open the file. Change the file path of the “.set” settings file to match the location on your hard drive. There is also a small Applescript to create a new settings file if you don’t want ProRes.
Grizzly bears play on a frozen lake on the Arctic tundra just outside of Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 10, 2013. Financial Post
Aerial shot of a collapsed pingo on the Arctic tundra. Pingoes are large mounds of earth that cover a core of ice. Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 10, 2013. Financial Post
Aerial shot of the houses in the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 10, 2013. Financial Post
An excavator pushes mounds of earth during the first phase of construction of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway. Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 10, 2013. Financial Post
The sun sits on the horizon during 24 hours of daylight over the Mackenzie River. Inuvik NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 11, 2013. Financial Post
I went to Tuktoyaktuk with Financial Post reporter Jeff Lewis and Postmedia head of video Andeep Singh who was the producer.
In June I got the cool assignment of flying up to Inuvik in the North West Territories to film a story for the Financial Post (owned by the same company that owns the Edmonton Journal) about a new highway being built from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Coast.
Basically the only way to get to Tuktoyaktuk is by ice road, airplane or arctic sea. Building a real road to the hamlet would help lower food prices and could also potentially bring new jobs from oil and gas development.
It’s the kind of story that seems boring (it’s just a gravel road) but it can have a tremendous benefit to the people that live there and Canada if it results in more oil and gas production.
I can’t embed the videos in my blog unfortunately so you’ll have to see them here.
Usually I work by myself or with one reporter which means I have to juggle a lot of things at once.? It was great shooting as a three-person team for this story because I could focus more on the visuals, sound and and quality while Andeep could focus on the logistics and shot list and Jeff could focus on the story and interviews. I wish it could always be this way!
One of the coolest things about this trip was that they have 24-hour sunlight in June. At 3-am the sun is still high in the sky!
I experimented with a new shooting rig for this trip. I bought a DSLR cage on eBay and used it to keep my Canon 5D3, Beachtech audio mixer, accessories and 7″ Ikan monitor all together. The rig is really heavy but that’s a good thing because it reduces shake. But now I need a bigger video tripod head! I’ve since removed the 7″ monitor and replaced it with a bag to hold my wireless mics and I have my Panasonic GH3 on the rig now instead of my Canon 5D3.
Here’s our first interview. I used the nice green paining as a background. To keep travel weight down I just packed a magic arm to hold my LED lights instead of a flash stand. There’s always a chair somewhere.
This was the first of three interviews we did in the same room. We moved chairs around to give ourselves more room. This room was great because the walls were all painted different colours. This interview had a green background.
The 7″ monitor really helped with checking focus and framing. Though I prefer just using focus peaking with the Magic Lantern firmware hack on my Canon 5D3 now.
For this interview I used the same green wall but moved further away from it so that it would be a darker green because there was less light falling on it.
24-hour sunlight. This picture was taken at 11:38 PM !!!
24-hour sunlight. This picture was taken at 2:11 AM !!!
I plan to either buy or build one of these some day but for the time being I decided to build a more old fashioned stabilizer using spinning gyros.
The spinning gyro stabilizer has been around for years and is commercially made by Kenyon Labs. These are also known as gyros since there is a large spinning gyroscope inside which resists moving because it is spinning so fast. They are expensive but work very well.
I wanted to try building my own version of the spinning gyro for fun.
I found this blog post about using toy gyroscopes to make a DIY camera stabilizer. The gyros are small but they spin at 12,000 rpm so they resist movement pretty good.
I ordered four of the gyros for about $400 and bought a small Pelican case to hold them and dampen the sound of the motors.
I used aluminum L tubing, tape and a lot of zip ties to hold everything in place.
Heavy duty suction cups from Princess Auto allowed me to mount the whole apparatus to the sunroof in my SUV.
Here I am mounting it in a helicopter to do aerial video for this story
Here I am using it in a truck. It worked really well for stabilizing the camera while driving.
The result?… Since I’ve never used a real commercial motorized or spinning disk gyro I can’t really compare but I would say that the gyros did stabilize my light weight Panasonic GH3 more than if I was just hand holding it.
However for the price ($450+) of building the device, and the hassle of mounting the rig in an airplane I think I would rather rent a Kenyon Labs or Freefly Movi next time. My DIY solution was certainly better than nothing but didn’t make a huge night and day difference like I had hoped. Maybe night and sunrise.
Here you can see the ridiculous way I had to mount the rig in a Cessna airplane. Not super practical.
I also found there were other things that made a bigger difference in the smoothness of aerial footage. One big issue I had with my footage was rolling shutter also known as the “jello effect” when I zoomed in a lot with my GH3 and 14-140 IS kit lens. The footage looked great at wide angles but when I zoomed in a lot, the micro vibrations of the airplane (and probably the gyros too) made the video unwatchable.
Any digital camera with a CMOS sensor will have this problem unfortunately. Way more expensive cameras have global shutters that don’t jello.
Also weather and time of day (heat) will dramatically effect the smoothness of your footage because of turbulence. I flew in small Cessna airplanes for $250/hour but was only able to get a few minutes of rock solid footage. The rest was bumpy garbage. A helicopter costs more than $2000/hour but you can be way more productive and smooth in a helicopter compared to a Cessna.
One last thing. I edit in Final Cut Pro X and although it has a digital video stabilizer filter built-in, there is a way better filter called Lock and Load. For $99 it is worth every penny. Not only does it stabilizer better but it is also way faster at rendering.
Can you tell the difference? About 2/3 of the footage in this video was shot with a Panasonic GH3 on my gyro stabilizer and 1/3 was shot handheld with a Canon 5D Mark-III shooting RAW video and a Zacuto loupe pressed against my face. It was all shot in small Cessna airplanes which are super bumpy and rough to fly in hence wanting the stabilizer.
A bunch of my friends, including myself, turned 30 this year so we planned a group trip to Vegas in May.
We wanted to do more than just party on the strip so we decided to spend a day hiking the Grand Canyon.
We rented a big SUV for the drive. It should have only taken us four hours to drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon but we got lost several times and it ended up taking eight hours!
None of us had data on our iPhones because of expensive roaming charges so we couldn’t use Google Maps to direct us.
The lesson we learned is to buy a real paper map whenever you are traveling and also to get a Pay as you Go Wi-Fi travel hub
Here are some of my favorite photos of the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon. This is a great intermediate trail with lots of beautiful scenery that you can easily do in one day.
All shot with a Panasonic GH3 and kit lens which is a great travel camera.
I shot five different bracketed exposures and then blended the five pictures together using PhotoMatix Pro to make HDR images with a more saturated and intense look.
Pictures can’t truly capture the Grand Canyon. You have to see it for yourself!
What happens when old corn brooms are replaced by newer brushes?
Journal videographer Ryan Jackson created a short film about one such broom for the 2013 Brier.
This whole thing was shot in only four hours! I used my hacked Panasonic GH2 cameras with Canon 24 f1.4L. 50 1.2L, 70-200 2.8L, and Olympus 7-14mm f4 lenses.
What happens when old corn brooms are replaced by newer brushes? Journal videographer Ryan Jackson created a short film about one such broom for the 2013 Brier. To find out the fate of our old curling broom go to http://www.edmontonjournal.com/broom
All the volunteers showed up at 8-a.m. and had no idea what the script or anything was. I played them a rough cut video I made from the storyboard and we started curling!
Here is my original storyboard. I had thought it would be cool to have the rocks talking and picking on the broom but then I decided that talking rocks would be confusing so I just used music. I spent hours writing and re-writing the script to make it as simple and manageable as possible. It’s way easier to fix your script before you shoot than after!
This was the final shot of the day. I used gaffers tape to mask my 7″ monitor to 2.35:1 aspect ratio to help with framing.
Jason Franson was helping me for the shoot and took this photo of me filming Carleigh Johnson with the broom. I was able to pull the scene off with only two 500-LED light panels and one small 160-LED light panel to the right.
Transition from an NHL hockey game to a curling match. Journal photographer Ryan Jackson took over 30,000 still images of Rexall Place from the beginning of the Oilers game on Saturday Feb. 23 till Tuesday Feb 26. for the 2013 Brier.
I used a Canon 1D-Mark III with an 8-15mm f4L lens @ 15mm. I filled two 32GB cards with 30,000 pictures taken every 10-seconds over four days.
I used a spinning serving tray from Ikea and covered it in black tape. I then used a small continuous servo motor connected to a Phidget server controller and my laptop. I timed the servo so it would turn the table 10-degrees, wait 5-seconds for me to take a picture , turn 10-degrees, wait 5-seconds for me to take a picture, etc. for 360-degrees.
The little tire is from an old Meccano set.
Here’s Lucas Timmons smiling politely. I used one 24×36 soft box as my main light and two lights with grids behind to make the tiara sparkle.
Braden Paquette, left, and Tara Jackman dance to the music of Kellie Pickler in the beer gardens at the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alta. on August 3, 2012. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)
The view through a night vision scope of Canadian solders on night patrol at Forward Operating Base Maiden 1 during Exercise Arctic Ram near Yellowknife on February 13, 2012. Approximately 1,500 Canadian soldiers and Rangers participated in Arctic Ram to re-familiarize the army with a harsh winter environment and to exercise Canada’s Arctic sovereignty. Journal reporter Elise Stolte and photographer Ryan Jackson were embedded with the military this week and saw the exercise first hand. Go to http://www.edmontonjournal.com/arcticram for photos, blog updates and check out The Journal on Sunday and Monday for the full story on our military in the arctic. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)
8 Platoon commander Lt. Nick Ethier climbs into a snow cave built during winter survival training with the Canadian Rangers at Forward Operating Base Maiden 1 during Exercise Arctic Ram near Yellowknife on February 14, 2012. Approximately 1,500 Canadian soldiers and Rangers participated in Arctic Ram to re-familiarize the army with a harsh winter environment and to exercise Canada’s Arctic sovereignty. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)
A couple walks down a pathway in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Wouldn’t it be cool to sit down for a chat with party leaders for the 2012 Alberta provincial election? Well, now you can. By stitching together four separate videos, Edmonton Journal videographer Ryan Jackson puts you at the same table with the leaders of the Progressive Conservative, Wildrose, Liberal and NDP parties. You can pick which candidates you’d like to hear from on five hot topics in 360-degree interactive video. So grab a cup of coffee and go to edmontonjournal.com/360election In this frame grab you can see (left to right) Alison Redford, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose Party, Raj Sherman, leader of the Liberal Party and Brian Mason, leader of the NDP at Cafe Rista in Edmonton on March 29 and 30th, 2012. This image was created by stitching multiple frames together. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)
Judith Benson, librarian at the Alberta Legislature poses for a photo in the library of the Legislature building in Edmonton on August 21, 2012. The Legislature turns 100 years old this year. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)
Students with St. Joseph Seminary created a giant “Snow Pope” in honour of Edmonton’s Archbishop Joseph McNeil society in Edmonton on November 7, 2012. There was supposed to be a fundraiser for the Archbishop Joseph MacNeil Society at the seminary but it was canceled due to weather so the students spent their day creating the sculpture and shoveling sidewalks for neighbors. For a fun video of the students creating the “Snow Pope” click here. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)
Neil Herbst, owner of Alley Kat Brewing Company poses for a photo in his brewery in Edmonton on August 27, 2012. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)
Simple Plan performs on the Telus Stage at Capital Ex on July 28, 2012. This image was created by stitching multiple pictures together. The Journal’s Ryan Jackson has created a fun “choose your own adventure” style 360-degree panoramic tour of Capital Ex including 360-degree videos on a roller coaster and several other rides. You can eat corn dogs, play games and watch the fireworks. The game is especially neat on a gyro-enabled iPad2 or iPhone 4. Go to http://www.edmontonjournal.com/capex360 (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)
The sun sets on the Pacific Ocean along the west coast Highway-1 in California.
A panoramic view of the homes on 9th St. SE in Slave Lake, Alta. on May 23, 2011 (top) and May 2, 2012 (bottom). Nearly one-year after after a wildfire devastated the neighbourhood. Images were created by stitching multiple pictures taken taken at GPS location N55°16.411′ W114°45.859′ (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal) To see these images in a 360-degree interactive split screen view, go to http://www.edmontonjournal.com/slavelakemap where you’ll find more before-and-after photos and panoramas.
A view of the Alberta Legislature building minutes after a severe rain storm taken from the roof of the Annex building in Edmonton on August 23, 2012. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)
Marie Dann and Adrian Smith enjoy some A&W on their wedding day in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. on August 25, 2012. Photo by Ryan Jackson / ryanjackson.ca
Aaron Hoyland holds his soon-to-be bride Lisa’s hand while her bridesmaids keep her hidden.
A blacksmith poses for a photo at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village near Edmonton, Alta. on September 1, 2012. Photo by Ryan Jackson, ryanjackson.ca
The sun sets on a snowy field along highway 21 near Camrose, Alta. on December 11, 2012. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)
I got the assignment to film 10 Journal reporters and editors discussing the top 10 news stories of the year in their own words.
I decided to use some of the gear and techniques I’ve been developing to shoot and present the video.
Rather than shooting 10 separate videos and presenting them as 10 separate clips, I put them all together in one YouTube video and used annotation buttons to make the video interactive. You can jump back and forth between clips and choose which stories you are most interested in.
Since the videos are mostly just “a person sitting at a desk talking” I decided to up the production value a but and have the camera constantly moving.
I built a Pan/Tilt/Slide robot for doing timelapse videos in the summer. I used it for the World’s Longest Soccer Game Video but now I would need it for video instead of stills.
I made it programmable so I can tell it to start in position A, then take X number of minutes to move to position B. The device consists of three stepper motors and three Phidget stepper controllers.
Everything is programmed in Python. Those years spent in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science come in handy!
I used my hacked Panasonic GH2 for the video and my Olympus LS10 audio record with a Sennheiser wireless mic for sound.
Here is my Pan/Tilt/Slide robot that I’ve been working on for months. I added 8:1 ratio pulleys to the motors to make the movements smoother and slower. I also surrounded the motors with plastic to dampen the sound. (not shown here). The design is constantly changing which is why I haven’t blogged about it much. Though I guess I should blog about all the changes!
I made a DIY teleprompter using cardboard, tape and my iPad running the Teleprompt+ app. This was my first time recording reporters with a teleprompter and it made my life so much easier! The subject doesn’t have to fumble for words and some say it makes them forget about the camera a bit.
Here is the very rough version 1.0 of my Pan/Tilt/Slide robot controller. I plan to eventually control everything with an iPad app that I’m writing so there’s far less wires!
Frame grab of David Staples from the video. I just used two 500LED lights for him.
Here is my setup for David Staples in City Hall. My assistant and friend Megan Voss is on the right.
Frame grab of Gordon Kent from the video. I just used two 500LED lights really close to him. The sunlight coming through the window was much brighter than the video lights so they had to be placed close.
Gordon Kent in City Hall talking about the hockey arena saga. It was hard to balance him against the bright window with only two 500LED light panels so I underexposed him a bit and then brought up the shadows in post. Photo by Megan Voss.
My setup for Graham Thomson in the Alberta Legislature talking about former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed’s death. I got Graham to stand on a box so that I could frame him with the portrait.
Frame grab of Stephanie Coombs from the video. She has a 1800-watt 48″ Octobox to her left and one 500LED video light to her right.
Stephanie Coombs at her desk to talk about the Hub Mall shooting. You can see I used my Olympus LS10 audio recorder connected to my wireless Lav for sound. It’s always better to record your sound separately and monitor it with headphones. Photo by Megan Voss.
A frame grab of Sandra Sperounes from the video. I just used the light on her desk and a small Light Panel with an orange filter off to the left.
Sandra Sperounes at her desk talking about the Paul McCartney concerts. Photo by Megan Voss.
Marty Klinkenberg at his desk to talk about Highway 63. Photo by Megan Voss
Frame grab of Jim Matheson from the video. I used two 500LED lights and one small Light Panel as a hair light.
Jim Matheson in Rexall Place to talk about the NHL Lockout. I wanted to film him in Rexall place to illustrate the empty stadium seats and lack of hockey.
Using the Pan/Tilt/Slide robot added a ton of work to the setup for each video but it really made the videos more visually dynamic. It also moved the camera much smoother and consistent than if I moved it by hand.
I certainly wouldn’t do this for most news video but a fun feature like this was a perfect opportunity to test out some new tools.