Category Archives: film

Resolution size and quality

Video resolution, file size and image quality.

A while ago I thought I’d take my camera out for an afternoon’s videoing and so headed off to Linlithgow Palace. Once I’d got some editing done I found I had a video of just under 10 minutes in length. Usually I render out at 720p for a YouTube or Vimeo upload, but this time I thought I’d render at 1080p just to see how things went. At the end of the processing I found myself with a file of just over 2 gigabyte. This I thought a little bit large for uploading from home so went up to Uni did my upload (to Vimeo) from there. That went nice and fast, in fact it uploaded faster than the length of time it took me to type out title, description and all that sort of stuff. Once back home thought I would re-render it but this time in my more usual 720p (other settings the same) just to do a compare and contrast. My just under 10 minute came down at just over 400 megabyte.

So we’re talking about one fifth the size of the 1080p video. Playing the two videos side by side it was hard to notice any difference in quality, it was there but you really had to pick around the edges to see it. Now and again I’d pause at a suitable moment where perhaps a a sign was in view or maybe a car number plate or something similar and try and read it, and it was more readable in the 1080p version. However as a flowing video it was quite difficult to tell the difference between the two, yet the 720 giving me so much more free hard drive space compared to 1080.

I also rendered it out in standard definition quality at 360p size (looking towards uploads for mobile devices or older smart phones). Here we had a file size of just under 60 megabyte, or a little under 3% of the 1080p file size. Comparing the video here to the others there was a very definite reduction in quality. It still wasn’t too bad to watch, however when you had this 360 next to either the 720 or 1080 the difference really jumped out at you. On the other hand it was still more than good enough for a portable device if you were on the train.

Something to think about. Take the 1080 HD video size, which is a 1920 by 1080 rectangle. Multiply that out and it comes to just over 2 million pixels. Or to put it another way, if you’re in a shop talking about video and cameras and the sales staff are busy trying to sell you this camera rather than that camera because this camera has more mega pixels on the sensor… well, if you’re going to actually film at the native HD resolution then all you really need is this just over 2 mega-pixel size sensor. Bigger does not always mean better.

 

Camera Accessories

Three of my favourite camera accessories,

the sort of things that if they went missing or broke I’d be down the shops the same day to get replacements.

For video work (even though I only do basic YouTube type stuff) I really do like using a proper Rode external microphone. The ones built into your usual video camera are at best ‘adequate’, the ones in your video capable dSLRs are usually terrible. Getting the sound nicely sorted can make such a difference; to be able to clearly hear the story being told or to enjoy the music without having to struggle is more important that having a perfectly crisp image.

If being used outside, then going with the microphone is its windshield, a usually grey coloured furry cover, often known as a ‘dead cat’. This things really can cut out the wind noise, that loud ‘woosh’ sort of sound that can so overpower the sound you want to be recording.

My Manfrotto MP3-D01 fold flat mini tripod adds an extra dimension to slow shutter speed photography. It’s small enough and light enough to be left attached to the bottom of my camera and provides basic tripod support where ever I am. It’s three rather stubby legs can be adjusted to provide a stable platform on almost any surface. Great for night shots or where you want to prop your camera up at a slightly odd angle. It means you can also take ground level pictures but without putting your camera directly onto what could be a rather wet or dirty surface. Small, light, it’s one of those ‘fit and forget’ type devices.

Not that often used, but when videoing in low light situations (I do like to get out to castles and that sort of thing) my battery powered LED lighting brick (F&V Z-Flash) is so useful. Attaches to my camera with a hot-shoe adapter, it means that whenever I go into a relatively dark room I have enough light for my camera not to have a fit ramping up ISO setting or doing weird thing with aperture or shutter speeds.

It runs for hours off its (rechargeable) battery pack so I don’t need to worry about constantly having to switch it on and off. It’s also useful for still photography as a fill-in light and helps to take the edge of the harshness you can get from flash. (Also a great source of light at home in the event of a power cut!!!)

Cinema super-hero watching

Found myself down in the cinema a fair bit recently watching a few super-heros such as Avengers Assemble, The Amazing Spider-man, and also Ice Age: Continental Drift.
Enjoyed them all, but…when I say enjoy, I did enjoy them, but only ’enjoy’, not ’wow that was amazing’. All this got me wondering what’s going on with the big film studios these days.

This Ice Age is now the 4th in the series. I really liked the interplay between Sid, Manny, and Diego in the original. Now there are so many other characters (and sub-plots) demanding your attention that the original sparkle has been lost in a sea of indifference.

Another reinvention of Spider-man (I assume the numerous sub-plots were left open to enable plenty of sequel opportunities). However I’m not too sure how really different this version was compared to the start of the previous series (except perhaps for the college students who looked far more mid-20s than late teenage guys).

A pulling together of Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Capt. America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye into the Avengers. I thought a chance for some amazing interplay between these characters, but it seemed more a case of throw in as many impressive special effects as you can even if they’re not very original (how many times can New York get trashed in how many different films), and just let the plot look after itself without too much thought required.

As mentioned at the start (and despite my other comments) I enjoyed watching these films, but is it just me in that I do find myself getting a bit tired of the big film studios relying too much on the re-hashing of existing franchise and going for known safe numbers rather exciting us with something new. (We made money with this before so let’s just re-do it again and we’ll make even more money.)

Then I read that the film studios are splashing out over $200 million on making some of these action films, or around $2,000,000 per screen minute. That’s one hell of a lot, and considering the cost of a cinema ticket, I really expect more for that sort of outlay than just another repeat.

Arrietty

Just seen the film Arrietty, a Japanese anime film from Studio Ghibli.

Ever since seeing Spirited Away in the cinema some years ago and being totally blown away at the quality and drawing style of the art work I’ve been a fan of Ghibli. Don’t expect anything too dramatic or shocking from their films, they are not ‘action films’ in the way of a typical Hollywood blockbuster (though many of the films do involve violence and war), but are more films that make you stop and think – and you’re still thinking days after watching!

Arrietty is a Japanese take on The Borrowers by Mary Norton. Enjoyed the film and though
I’ve not read the books this has certainly encouraged me to look out for them the next time I’m book shop browsing. (One thing Harry Potter has done for me is to alert me to the fact that may books classed as for children are perfectly adult compatible.)

The showing of the film was in English, and this is one thing that I felt let the film down. Usually I’ve been quite happy with the English language versions of the Studio Ghibli productions, sometimes watching the DVDs I have in English, sometimes in Japanese but with subtitles. However I think in this case they got things wrong, they made to too English. It may be based on an English story, but like it or not this is a Japanese film, the principle building has an oriental feel to it, the characters may have a western style of dress, but they are still oriental characters, the whole visual style of the film is of a Japanese Studio Ghibli film, you know you are in the East. Yet they’ve given the characters such extreme and so stereotypical English accents that it’s totally out of place with the rest of the atmosphere and of the setting, and made it a bit disjointing to watch.

In all the other Ghibli films I’ve seen the English language version may not have been perfect, but it has never distracted me from the film. This time I really did find it failed to blend in, but sat separate / on top of the visual storyline. A shame, I’m sure I’ll see this film again and will get the DVD, but will definitely be going for the Japanese language version with English subtitles.

What to do now post-Harry Potter?

What to do now post-Harry Potter?

At the time of writing this the final part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has just come out in the cinema. This brings to an end an amazing Harry Potter journey that started in 1997 with the publication of the first book of Harry and his adventure concerning the Philosopher’s Stone.

However my discovery of the world of Potter started at Christmas 2000 with a radio broadcast of the first book. (This was at a time when books 1 to 4 had been published.) This means for me Potter’s been around 11 years, or for those who got in at the start, 14 years.

Let’s look at it another way, as an adult it represents an 11 year chunk of my life, but it’s still just a chunk out of middle age. For someone who started at book 1 and at age 9, 10, 11 sort of area, then for them it’s been a 14 year period which now brings them up into their mid 20s, so their whole ‘growing up’ part of their life has involved Harry Potter (whether with book publication or film release). That’s puberty and adolescence, that’s teenage years and growing up, discovering girlfriends and boyfriends, that’s leaving school, college, university, finding work and becoming an adult. All with Harry Potter there growing up with them.

So I was not surprised to see some emotional people leaving the cinema after the midnight showing ended. It’s finished. Something that’s always been there for them now is not there. Emptiness.
I’ve uploaded a YouTube video commenting more on things:-

One thing about the books, they need re-reading. I don’t know how many times I’ve read them, but each time I see things I missed before. Until fairly recently I’d thought of book 2 as being one of the weaker ones, however a friend suggested I read it not for the story-line, but specifically to look to comments and references that have some significance in the future, and doing so totally changed the way I saw the book.
A few examples of things to look out for. Fairly early on in the book Harry hides in a cabinet – one end of a pair of vanishing cabinets, and later Peeves drops a cabinet (the other one) when Harry is in Filch’s office. (Is this how the link between them got damaged which then leads to Malfoy wanting Borgin & Burkes to repair the link.)

We meet Dobby and learn of house elves special magic, there’s a couple of light-hearted comments about Percy potentially being rather ambitious. We see our first Horcrux (though we don’t know it) and that Harry has the impression that Professor Snape can read minds. There are hints about Ginny and her future relationship to Harry… and so the list goes on. All the earlier books refer to future events, but book 2 has something on almost every other page!

Anyway, the books are done, the films finished, but then as they say, all good things must come to an end sometime. However it does leave me thinking, what to do now post-Harry Potter?