Author Archives: Hal

Black and White Film

Beautiful Black and White Film 1934

Black and White Film

Evelyn Prentice is a 1934 film starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, and featuring Una Merkel and Rosalind Russell in her film debut. The movie was filmed between the original Thin Man and the first of its sequels. The Thin Man series is comedy-mysteries based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. The American Film Institute named The Thin Man one of the great comedies of the previous hundred years of cinema.

William Powell and Myrna Loy, a clever script, the beautiful black and white cinematography, wonderful music and the luscious Kodak film stock make Evelyn Prentice a thoroughly enjoyable film. I found it as a disk on Netflix. There are clips from this film on YouTube, but the YouTube compression seriously detracts from the beautiful black and white cinematography. Better to see it on disc.

Click below to check out the DVD on Amazon:


Airlines regulations litium batteries

New Airline Regulations for Batteries

Airline Regulations for Batteries

The airlines naturally worry about battery leakage, fire or explosion. Bad enough on land, but potentially disastrous on an airplane. Last year, the FAA said that lithium-ion batteries were sparking airplane fires once every 10 days on average.

The International Air Transport Association is now instructing its 300 airline members to restrict lithium-powered smart bags. “Baggage with removable installed Lithium batteries (“smart luggage”) must be carried as carry-on baggage or the battery must be removed,” the IATA said. “With the battery removed, the bag can be checked-in. If the battery cannot be removed, the bag is forbidden for carriage.”

You must consider a number of other issues when filming outside the US. See Shooting Abroad: Know The In’s and Out’s Before Leaving The Runway.

Airline Regulations for Batteries

There are also new airline regulations for batteries, specifically for transporting any lithium batteries. In general the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says that if your batteries are installed in devices, your luggage may be checked-in as usual. However, batteries that are left on their own without proper packing are not allowed on the flights. The regulations vary from airline to airline depending on locations. So you will want to check your airlines before assuming anything about packing camera gear.

You can travel with lithium-ion battery cells, but there are certain specifications. Lithium-ion battery cells are packaged in a hard plastic case, which makes them safe and easy to carry. They come in 4 types of Watt Hours: 95Wh, 130Wh, 160Wh, and 190Wh. For International flights, you can only carry 95Wh batteries on all airlines in check-in luggage as well as carry-on.

Within the US, the TSA allows passengers to carry batteries with up to 160Wh capacity to be carried in carry-on luggage. You may carry on an unlimited number of batteries less than 100Wh, in a protected case/pouch to prevent short circuit of terminals. A battery of 160Wh or less installed in equipment, may be allowable if the total weight is less than 11 Lbs. But no spare batteries may be in checked baggage. Batteries larger than 100Wh batteries (up to 160Wh) are limited to only 2 per person, carried on.

If you are flying with equipment that uses Lithium batteries, it is very important that you check your airline before flight time.

Here’s an exchange I found on the SouthWest Air Forum:

Lithium batteries – 3.7 volt

I wish to travel with 13 GoPro camcorders that I professionally use to video horse trial events.

I will check-in a tripod but carry on-board the 13 GoPros and their attached Lithium batteries – 11.1volts 2000MaH, as well as a 7 lbs ENG type camcorder.

Any chance I’d able to travel with the above equipment ?
I do not mind applying for the Global Entry process.

Re: Lithium batteries – 3.7 volt

You have to travel with them in your carry on. If they are loose the contacts must be covered. You are allowed two batteries each with a max of 160 wH.

You gave a voltage rating of 3.7 volts output. Look for the capacity in mAh. Divide that mAh by 1,000 and then multiply the result by 3.7, the answer will give you your wH which must not be above 160 mH.

For more information on airline regulations for batteries, see FAA – Batteries Carried by Airline Passengers.

Modify cheap camera for C-mount

Modify A Cheap Camera to take C-Mount Lenses

I stumbled on this interesting project on YouTube. The modification is done to a $35 4K camera you can find on eBay. To that he adds a c-mount. Then this camera can take any c-mount lenses. There are scores of great inexpensive c-mount lenses out on eBay and elsewhere. You’ll also need a c-mount extension tube.

When you see the comparison shots between this cheap camera now with a c-mount lens and with a Panasonic G4, you’ll find it pretty remarkable considering the price difference.
When you remove the lens that comes with the $35 camera, you find it has a back infrared filter. So if you leave that off, you have an infrared camera that can do some fun work. Or you can add an infrared filter to the front of the lens and shoot normal video. If you add an external battery, this camera would be an ideal time lapse camera. Leaving any camera unattended for hours is risky. Better for a cheap disposable camera. Wouldn’t you love to play with the possibilities of a cheap c-mount camera?

Peppers Ghost

Hologram, Peppers Ghost and a New Live Performance for Dead Artists

Maria Callas, the legendary opera star, was according to the NY Times the greatest singer of the 20th Century. She died in 1977, but she performs in a new concert with a live orchestra. A company called Base Hologram is using an old technique called Peppers Ghost with new technology. They are offering the result in a performance called “Introducing Callas in Concert” to selected theaters and performance venues.

Roy Orbison will also perform in a hologram called “In Dreams: Roy Orbison in Concert” which opens this April 2018 in the UK.

Above Roy Orbison look-a-like/impersonator with the digital face and audio from the real Roy Orbison.

These three dimensional holograms are the latest in a series of music performances that have included Tupac Shakur and Michael Jackson.

The new technology will be used to combine theatrical productions with holograms and laser technology. The performers can sing alongside a live orchestra. The hologram uses Epson’s Pro L-Series laser projection.

While it may look somewhat like a hologram and that’s what many call it, it is actually not a hologram. It’s more like a 3D projection. The company that produced it calls it HologramUSA Eyeliner™. The 3D projection relies on an illusion technique called Peppers ghost which was first used over 100 years ago in carnivals and amusement parks. Peppers ghost uses mirrors to project an image. This technique creates the modern day appearance of “Ghosts” at the Haunted Mansion and the “Blue Fairy” in Pinocchio’s Daring Journey at the California Disneyland park. This same technique of light reflected from a glass is also used in teleprompters.

Peppers Ghost

Peppers Ghost
The diagram above explains how Peppers Ghost works to pair Snoop Dog and Tupac in a concert that never was.

In the case of Maria Callas and Roy Orbison, it is not their bodies, but a look-a-like/impersonator. The face, however, is a digital version of the real faces of Maria and Roy respectively. The face is matched with footage of the real Roy and Maria and then merged with their look-a-like bodies. The look-a-like impersonator is filmed from all sides with motion cameras which is what gives it the 3D look.

The audio track takes a real recording and strips the music accompaniment so the performer can sing with a new live orchestra. Audio programs like Audacity can strip the music while leaving the voice untouched. Other programs that can do this include Wondershare Filmora and the Center Channel Extractor effect in Adobe Audition CC.

Small 4K Gimbal Camera

Small Self-Stabilizing 4k Gimbal Camera

Small 4K Gimbal Camera

The REMOVU K1 is a small 4K gimbal camera. The small handhled camera has a built-in mic and a 1.5 inch LCD screen built into the grip. The K1 is equipped with 3-axis gimbal technology and a F2.8 wide angle lens. The sensor is a 1/2.3 inch CMOS 12MP (Sony IMX377). Video Resolution is 4K (3840×2160) @ 30fps.

Additional video modes include:
Video (Normal, Motion)
Slow Motion Video (Normal, Motion)
Timelapse Video (Normal, Motion)

The Smartphone App (Android or iOS) connects via Wi-Fi Direct (2.4GHz).
Functions include Live View (Preview) & Playback. It can also remotely control the camera and gimbal.

The Romovu K1 is available for preorder at $429.99.

profile photo

Is Your Profile Photo Hurting or Helping?

profile photo

You may have a profile photo you use for business, social or dating sites. How viewers see your profile photo is pretty important. But how do you know if your photo is being well received? Wouldn’t it be great if you could ask the opinions of hundreds of people of the gender and age range you choose? Well, there’s a website called PhotoFeller that will help. This site helps you get feedback from people of the age and gender you wish. They are asked to vote on your photo about whether your photo looks like you are friendly, likeable, confident and influential. Photofeeler has separate categories for business, social and dating photos and 9 traits you can test for.

It is free if you agree to rate profile photos of others. You will get as much feedback on your photo as you give on others’ photos. If you want a faster feedback, you can buy credits instead of rating other photos. The photos that are voted on are removed when the test is over. Artificial Intelligence watches for careless or low quality votes and eliminates them in real time.

The company has done studies to determine what works in the profile photos. One thing they learned is that sunglasses or anything that blocks a person’s eyes hurts your impression. The other elements of successful profile photos are explored in their blog.

8 x 10 Video Camera

8 x 10 Video Camera

8 x 10 Video Camera

I just completed designing and building an 8×10 video camera, the first in the world that I know of. Essentially its off-axis reimaging of a projected image. It’s a bit like IMAX, but waaaaay bigger. – Zev Hoover

Before you get too excited, the camera is indeed an 8 x 10 Video Camera, but the sensor is not 8 x 10. It’s an off-axis reimaging of a projected image. He uses a very wide angle lens – an old Irix 15mm f2.4 Firefly and a sensitive camera which is a Sony a7s. In the design phase he used C4d virtual cameras to model the fields of view of the different lenses he had. He also wanted to ensure that the slider didn’t appear in the bottom of the shot, even at infinite focus. A photo of the C4d virtual camera appears on his blog post. C4D from Maxon is positioned to become the tool of choice for 3D Hollywood post-production and visual effects houses.

For his 8 x 10 video camera Zev Hoover found an old fashioned bellows camera front end from a Ukranian company. It came with a huge large format lens on the front. Then he built an 8×10 camera box around it. Since he didn’t have an 8×10 image sensor, he used the principles behind the Camera Obscura to get a large format image projected on a white background. Then he shot that image with a Sony a7s full frame in 4K. But the camera angle of the Sony camera needed to be shifted to avoid parralax issues. He used as lens filter. As Hoover explains “I applied 12mm of shift to shoot off axis and not get any perspective issues.”

The wide field of view provides an extremely shallow depth of field as is evident in the YouTube video. The set up losses some light, but the Sony a7s is very good in low light which makes it ideal for the 8 x 10 Video Camera. The slider enables him to do a very smooth rack focus which otherwise would be kind of rough. He uses an external monitor.

I’ve always liked people like Zev Hoover who twist the idea of video a little like this guy who put a GoPro inside a Betacam Camera Body. Or the Google Cardboard VR viewer. Way to go Zev!

One man band

Christmas Transfer Crunch

One man band

One man band faces the Christmas crunch.

I just did a brochure mailing to one of the upscale towns close to me which has in the past supplied a significant percentage of my work and the higher ticket jobs. The printer was supposed to send 1000 brochures every week or two. Instead he mailed all 5500 at once. So I have been inundated with work ever since the mailing hit. On top of that, the newspaper ad hit. It had been previously booked and has always done well this time of year. I’m not complaining. Too much work is usually better that not enough work.

It would have been nice to have some help – someone to answer the phone, meet clients who are dropping off or picking up a transfer job. And it’s not just been video and film transfers. I’m getting jobs to transfer slides, audio cassettes, vinyl LPs, photo restoration and more. Today was typical – two video machines, two film machines and a computer rendering – all needing something. Not bragging, but I managed to balance all those plates spinning at the same time.

Of course everyone wants their transfer done before Christmas. One guy called, offered to pay extra. I accepted and managed to get his job done by putting a big job on hold for and working a little later. Well it’s the money season and I’m making hay while the sun shines. I’ve meticulously tracked every single customer so I can see exactly how much revenue is from the mailing, newspaper ads, the website and other miscellaneous sources.

The mailing has not made a big profit so far, but it has brought in a lot of business. I’m pretty confident the mailing will pull for a long time since so many have said they were looking for a way to transfer their media. And made them pick up the phone. It will be interesting to look at the numbers 3 and 6 months from now. Granted, the oversized tri-fold brochure was expensive to print, but the postage was a bargain. I discovered a thing called EDDM – Every Door Direct Mail.

This is a service the US Post Office offers. You can target your marketing mail audience by age, income, or household size. You can use the EDDM mapping tool to choose the ZIP Code and carrier route that will target your best possible customers. I choose every street in this town. The postage costs between 15.6 – 17.7 cents per piece. To learn more, check the link above or go visit a Post Office. I first learned about it from a printer.

I wish all of you a warm and happy Holiday season.


Film Transfers Better Than Wolverine

I’ve been doing 8mm and super 8 film transfers for a while now. As you may recall I bought the Wolverine 8mm and Super8 Reels Movie Digitizer and have churned out some pretty good transfers. I even bought the new and improved Wolverine Pro model which can handle nine inch reels.

The films I am asked to transfer are often 50 – 60 years old and have been through projectors the hard way. A projector can eat film and damage the sprocket holes. The Wolverine machines use a pull down claw to move each frame in front of the camera. When it hits a damaged sprocket hole, the film usually stops. When there’s a whole section with bad sprockets, it takes much longer to scan. A seven inch reel takes a little over four hours to scan on a Wolverine, but when there are damaged sprockets, it can take much longer than four hours.

So I’ve been looking again at the options for a “clawless” scanning machine. The clawless machines don’t stop nearly as often and are five or ten times faster. They can handle film with very bad sprockets and even film that has shrunk or has bad splices both of which are typical on old films.

One answer to this is to move up to something like the RetroScan Universal which is a continuous feed scanner. There is no advance claw or any of the problems associated with a claw. They scan at 15 frames per second rather than the 2 frames a second. There are many other advantages, except one – $5200.

I’m thinking about this and looking into the few alternatives I can find. There are a lot of DIY answers, but that’s a daunting proposition and can still be expensive. I’d like to hear from anyone who knows about these things. I will keep you posted on my progress.

great cartoon music

Great Cartoon Music from Tom & Jerry

This fun, rollicking music is from the Tom & Jerry cartoons by MGM in the 1940s and 1950s. This is a mixture of the music from eight different cartoons: Smitten Kitten, Sufferin’ Cats, The Framed Cat, Cat Fishin’ Just Ducky, Jerry and Jumbo, The Cat Comes to Dinner and Mouse for Sale.”

The John Wilson Orchestra performed this great cartoon music in London’s Royal Albert Hall. Scott Bradley composed and conducted music for MGM cartoons and many other cartoon producers. Previously, Bradley had been a staff musician for Walt Disney.

As you will notice in the above music piece, there are fragments of popular songs. I recognize a bit of The Trolley Song from the Judy Garland 1944 musical “Meet Me In St. Louis.” Many other music scores for animation also borrowed bits of popular songs.

Scott Bradley’s scores for cartoons became musically complex at one point employing the twelve-tone technique created by composer Arnold Schoenberg. This technique was used in the 1944 Tom and Jerry cartoon Puttin’ on the Dog. As Bradley said I hope Dr. Schoenberg will forgive me for using his system to produce funny music, but even the boys in the orchestra laughed when we were recording it.

Bradley was proud in what he called his funny music.

To explore another side of music and film see the Influence of Music Videos as they affect the art of editing.