Renting a Sony PXW-Z100 is an easy way to elevate your workflow to true 4K (4096×2160 resolution at up to 60 fps). The camera uses Sony’s XVAC 4:2:2 10-bit intra frame format, the same as the PMW-F55 CineAlta camera. The camcorder features a G lens with 20x optical zoom and three control rings, dual XQD memory card slots, and 4K HDMI and 3G/HD-SDI interfaces.
In our tests, PXW-Z100 excels at certain types of projects. For nearly all ENG and EFP-style productions, it’s the perfect choice, matching well with Sony’s other cameras in HD and SD resolutions, but offering true 4K resolution as well, all in a package a single operator can handle. The Z100 is basically the big brother of the FDR-AX1, which offers matching picture profiles and similar controls. All of the must-haves for a ENG/EFP camera are included, like XLR inputs, ND filters, and familiar Sony camcorder layout. The newly updated sensor features back illumination for acceptable low-light performance, on par with the larger sensor of the Sony EX3.
This is our go-to camera for educational and corporate videos, live events, and greenscreen/white screen/chroma key shoots. 4:2:2 10-bit color makes for the cleanest keys we’ve ever seen in a broadcast camera. We continue to see the PXW-Z100 and the FDR-AX1 replacing the Sony EX1 for lots of field and studio production. For events with super-sized digital displays, this is the best choice for i-mag as well as a great camera for pre-recorded content.
One of our favorite features in the new Z100 is the Wi-Fi control, allowing remote focus, zoom, iris, and record controls, using a smartphone or tablet. We have a tablet with Wi-Fi available for rent, as well.
We’re pretty sure we’re the first rental house in Milwaukee (and even Wisconsin) to offer the PXW-Z100 for rental.
We include two batteries, a charger, dual 64GB XQD N-series memory cards, one 32GB S-series memory card, and a shotgun microphone. We also include a Sony XQD USB 3.0 card reader. Don’t be fooled by other online renters’ low rates, they don’t include memory cards or a reader!
Every year, we publish a list of predictions for the video industry. Here’s what I see coming up in the next twelve months.
#1 – Standard Definition is dead, at least as far as professional acquisition is concerned. We will see nearly all professional and most consumer cameras introduced without any standard definition support. This trend has already been underway in many manufacturer’s 4K cameras, and this year we’ll see a lot of cameras dropped from production that offer SD recording as an option.
#2 – Canon will lose their death grip over low-budget video production. The 5D mark II and III and the 7D completely owned the market for low-budget commercial, documentary, and narrative projects for the last 4-5 years. As more shooters and producers see the performance gap between those cameras and mirrorless options from Panasonic and Sony, there will be pressure to change cameras. This will be amplified by Canon’s decisions on pricing and video recording resolution.
#3 – Metadata will be growing quickly as people and applications find new ways to use it. Most still cameras today record exposure information in the file. Some record GPS-based location information. Video has been woefully behind in this, but 2015 will see us starting to catch up, hopefully not just with more tools for acquisition, but also for the preservation of that data through the editing and broadcast process.
#4 – There will be many more jobs in video production. With the economy at large picking up steam, video as entertainment and advertising will increase. This will be amplified by improved mobile device bandwidth, increased number of screens, and the accessibility of the technology. We’ll also see video production professionals who specialize in mobile and mixed-platform video campaigns. What works in a theater doesn’t always work on mobile, and advertisers are learning that quickly.
#5 – In-camera video HDR will start to take shape. We’ve seen plenty of still cameras with HDR built in, and solutions for video so far (Like RED’s HDRx) require a lot of processing after capture. Now that more and more cameras can capture 60+ fps and still have processing power left over, manufacturers can use that hardware for expanding dynamic range.
What changes do you see coming in 2015? Sound off in the comments!
The Panasonic GH4 is an awesome addition to nearly any video shooter’s bag, especially for those of us who have gotten used to DSLRs like the Canon 5D mark III and 7D. I’ve had a chance to take the GH4 out on a few shoots so far, and have some tips and tricks for getting great results in your video.
1. Get to know your shooting modes, and assign them to a custom button. There are HD modes, two 4K modes, an over/undercranking mode, and a crop mode/digital zoom feature. You don’t want to have to dig through menus to change from one to the next. I find myself switching between QHDp24 and 1080p variable a lot. If you’re only using the camera for video, you should assign all your custom buttons to useful video settings, like zebras and peaking, for example.
2. If you’re mixing and matching cameras on a multi-camera shoot, use the cropped sensor to your advantage. The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L paired with the 2.3x crop of this camera makes for an incredible close up for live events. I even tried it with the 1.4x teleconverter and still felt like sharpness in 4K was acceptable at f/4. There’s no easy way to get IS working, yet [Metabones now has an EF to MFT adapter that supports image stabilization!] but with a solid tripod, you’ll get shots you used to need a 500mm lens for.
3. Use that ISO! The GH4 native ISO is 800 according to Panasonic. It’s definitely the best option when shooting V-log. I think a native ISO of 400-640 would be more appropriate for 4K in the other picture settings. For a 1080p delivery I would be comfortable shooting almost everything pushed to 3200, as long as the footage was run through a denoiser. Video caps out at 6400 ISO, which looks significantly cleaner downsampled to 1080p than the Canon 5D mark III at 3200. Don’t forget to update to the latest firmware to take advantage of intermediate ISO settings, like 640. You’ll want a crazy fast lens or a speedbooster to make this the right camera for nighttime documentaries, bar and club shoots, etc. If you’re not used to shooting native ISO at 800, remember to bring an ND filter set with you pretty much everywhere.
4. Stay in 4K whenever you can. If you don’t need the higher frame rate, you’ll get a significantly better-looking final product than shooting at 1080p. Downsampling to 1080p in your editor is definitely the way to go. The other exception to this would be for rolling shutter. Pro tip: if you shoot at 96 FPS, 1/100 shutter in 1080p, and play back your footage at 4x speed in 23.976, rolling shutter is significantly reduced. You do give up a stop of light and the ability to record sound, though.
5. Sound is still a pain in the ears. If you only buy or rent one add-on for the GH4, consider a Rode VideoMic Pro. In my non-scientific testing, the preamps for the GH4 sounded pretty good vs. the 5D mark III, but it’s still nothing amazing. The lowest gain setting on the GH4 is much higher than Canon DSLRs, so you might not use the +20dB setting as much as you’re used to. If you’re using the GH4 in a studio setting and need audio, it’s probably easier to use the YAGH extension unit and record directly into camera, instead of using second system sound.
6. Focusing isn’t 2.4 times easier vs. a fullframe camera. You’ll still want a follow focus, and geared lenses, when possible. Yes, focusing at a specific f-stop is a bit easier, but I found myself shooting wider to better match the “film look” we’ve gotten used to from other cameras. Plus, 4K is even less forgiving than 1080p. I spent a lot of time between f/2 and 2.8, which seems like a reasonable aperture for the GH4.
7. Cinelike-D. For people who have been shooting on Panasonic, you’ve known about the Cine-D profile for a long time. It’s really the only picture profile I use for video. I keep the blacks pushed up slightly (+2) most of the time, except when I’m in murky or overcast lighting.
As cinematographers, we used to have to carefully choose which camera we bought, and screentest different models to decide which one would best suit our film’s look. As the bodies continue to get more affordable and portable, we gain the option of keeping more than one in the kit at a time. I can still see an advantage to keeping a 5D mark III in your bag (far superior stills, and so far no MFT glass equivalent to the options in the 16-24mm range). The a7S is a naturally well-paired camera with the GH4 as well, giving you unreal latitude and low light performance. The GH4’s killer feature, to me, is good-looking 4K in a camera body that’s only a little over a pound.
A PowerPoint projector rental is perfect for your business meeting or proposal. Our basic PowerPoint projector rentals are at least 2700 lumens, bright enough to light a screen up to 10 feet, even with some lights on. They have a 4:3 native aspect ratio and 1024×768 native resolution, making text crisp and legible, both up close and from the back of the room.
You can connect it to anything with a HDMI, VGA, S-Video, or composite video output, and we include an adapter for Mini Displayport at no charge. That means you can connect it to your PC or Mac, laptop, DVD player, blu ray player, camera, and nearly anything else that plays video. This PowerPoint projector rental includes a small speaker, but we suggest upgrading to a speaker system if you want your audience to be able to hear the sound.
All our projector rentals include a hard case, making it easy to transport safely.
If you’re looking for a projector just for 16:9 video, like movies, we suggest a widescreen LCD projector. If you’re not sure what projector is best for you, give our office a call at 414.939.3653 and one of our AV experts can help you choose.
We also rent computers with PowerPoint installed and guarantee they’ll work with our PowerPoint projector rental. Stop worrying about adapters and cables, leave your laptop behind, and focus on your presentation!
Ask for the projector and screen combo discount and save $10 when you combine your PowerPoint projector rental with a projection screen.
Meet filmmakers, share shorts, & make new friends at MARNmovies VIII at the Hamilton on Milwaukee’s East Side.
If you have access to a computer or a smart device — and can manage to form a simple declarative sentence, voilá — you’ve suddenly got what it takes to voice your opinion in bold print.
Not so fast, Jeff Craig!
While not an exact science, film criticism requires a certain discipline and understanding to be taken seriously.
Our presenter is film critic Mack Bates. He writes for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Milwaukee Magazine, and has been the recipient of the Crystal Pillar award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, as well as multiple Milwaukee Press Club awards.
We follow his presentation with screenings of local short films and videos. Bring your short film on USB, Blu-ray or DVD and share with the audience!
Friday, July 25, 2014
6 to 9 p.m.
823 E Hamilton St
$5 at the door/Free for students and MARN members
MARNmovies VIII presented by The Electric Sun Corp
with additional support provided by
MKE Production Rental
Milwaukee Independent Film Society
The Canon T3i has a lot in common with the slightly older T2i, including gorgeous HD video in 1080p and 720p. The T3i adds an articulating screen for easy viewing and an improved heat sink, for significantly better performance when live view/video mode is running for more than a few minutes.
If you’re shooting extended shots, or working at higher ISOs, the T3i is worth the upgrade. The audio controls are also improved.
We send the Canon T3i out with a battery grip, charger, 4 batteries, and a 64GB SD card. Just bring your own lens or rent one of ours. This camera accepts EF and EF-S lenses.
If you’re shooting on a greenscreen, there’s nothing quite as useful as a chromakey greenscreen-ready apple box family. We custom painted these apple boxes for easy visual effects and compositing. Your rental gets you a full green apple, half green apple, quarter green apple, and a green pancake.
I was recently approached by Flipeleven Creative to direct photography on a promotional piece for the Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee. The project proposal was creative, ambitious, and unique, and I thought it was a great opportunity to put Sony’s latest 4K camcorder through its paces, even if it may have seemed like an odd camera choice for the project.
The PXW-Z100 features 4096×2160 resolution with 4:2:2 chroma subsampling and 10-bit color, which made me feel pretty confident about using it for green screen and compositing shots. We decided the promo would be a single composited shot, about 60 seconds long. The foreground element would be 24 fps, and the background elements would be 60 fps, conformed to 24. We matched the camera moves by accelerating the camera motion 250% in the 60 fps version. With a limitless budget, I would have leaned toward a Red Epic with remote follow focus and a dana dolly, but we used a homemade PVC dolly and a camera package about a quarter of the cost.
The overall shooting experience went well. The wifi control feature was very helpful, making it possible to start and stop recording and pull focus remotely. The web interface for controlling the focus was usually very effective, but sometimes a bit twitchy. I ended up blowing about 20% of the takes due to the focus racking in the opposite direction I told it to. Since we were shooting indoors, we shot at f/2, making focus more critical than most applications. For version 1.0 of a HTML interface, the wifi feature is pretty impressive, but I’d love to see improvements as Sony updates the firmware. The ability to control focus with a keyboard instead of sliders would be a nice touch.
We were shooting indoors under theatrical lighting, around 3000K. Given the opportunity, I would have liked to have been closer to 5600K, since the camera seems to handle noise better at higher color temperatures. We ended up keeping gain at 0 dB, but there was still visible noise in the 4K source footage, since a large portion of the frame was dark at any point in time. An extra stop of sensitivity would have been appreciated, but the Z100 was adequate. We shot flat, since we knew we’d be doing a very heavy grade in post.
Phil Warren from Skylight handed lighting cues using the house board. The muslin drape was diffusion for the foreground subject’s key light. Kyle and I are hiding on stage. Photo by Chad Halvorsen.
After the shoot was over, it was time to try keying and compositing. The first thing I realized was I should have turned sharpness completely down for VFX! I had only done some very brief greenscreen tests with the camera before our shoot day. Reviewing the footage, there was a two- to three-pixel band of black between our subject and the chroma green. Fortunately, the matte choker handled it pretty well,but it would have been much better to add sharpness in post, since the Z100 seems to be pretty heavy-handed with the default sharpness setting.
The other “shoulda” on my list from this shoot was a smoother dolly ride. We had to make a lot of tweaks to take out the wiggles as we hit the tiny junctions between PVC pipes, and the slight bend of the tracks made things a little more complicated. A heavier camera would have meant a heavier dolly, making things smoother, but it might not have been possible to get 30 feet of steel pipe and a full-size dolly properly supported over the vintage seating, either. Fortunately, the bumps didn’t seem to cause any rolling shutter artifacts, which was a pleasant surprise.
The keying experience was definitely much nicer than any non-raw camera I’ve used. I think the results speak for themselves, so I’ll let you be the judge of the effect. We had some serious green bounce from under the subject, but the camera’s codec definitely kept all the color information it got. Some cameras (e.g. DSLRs) have a fantastic sensor but limited processing power, encoding, and bandwidth. Other cameras, like the Z100, have incredible recording ability, but are most limited by their sensor. In this way, the Z100 reminds me of Panasonic’s HVX200. I’m sure once Sony releases the lower bitrate options in a firmware update, most shooters will be happy trading high bitrates for longer record times.
Our deliverable was 2K resolution, but we did some substantial zooming and cropping in post. The project turnaround was so fast, we didn’t have time for noise reduction, and subtle noise was added over all the elements as one of the final compositing steps. Basically, I suggest you watch it as a complete piece, and don’t use this as a pixel-peeping comparison.
Special thanks to the incredible team at Skylight Theatre who teamed up with all my friends at Flipeleven to make this awesome promo!
With the popularity of our Budget Filmmaker Kit, we realized we should help Milwaukee get better sound for their money, too! Our Budget Sound Kit comes with a Tascam DR-40 field recorder, SD card, batteries, cables, headphones, and your choice of either a Sennheiser G3 wireless lav system or a Rode NTG-1 shotgun microphone, with boom pole, shockmount, windscreen, and deadcat. This is everything you need to get great audio on-set or in studio.
The SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x PL anamorphic lens set rental provides cinematographers with the anamorphic look for a reasonable budget. All three cinema lenses are designed to create 2.4:1 ultra-widescreen (a.k.a. cinemascope) images on cameras with 16:9 super 35-sized sensors. (more…)
If you haven't found what you're looking for, try the search box above, or call (414) 939-3653. We have way too many clamps, cables, and widgets to list everything. And we have new stuff coming all the time, too!