Tag Archives: kanagawa

JSD Labs: DJI Mavic Air, iPhone 7 Plus, and Cherry Blossoms in Japan

A few weeks ago I finally got my own drone. The Mavic Air came out at the right time and had the right specs for my needs, so I picked one up. I have flown drones plenty of times in Japan, either rentals or client’s drones, but this is the first one I have owned.  It’s a different experience flying something that you personally have something invested in. One wrong move and it could be gone. So I haven’t done anything crazy with it.

Drones are banned in Tokyo, which is a shame. I have been working in Tokyo a lot recently and I haven’t been able to take it with me. Luckily, I live in Yokohama. With the exception of military bases, airports, events, and densely populated areas, it’s OK to fly here. I have been practicing in local parks, which were fine for gaining my bearings with it, but I can’t do too much crazy or intense flying. In sport mode the drone can cross a baseball field in seconds. With so many tall buildings and hills it’s easy for the Mavic to get out of sight really quickly. I plan to take it out to the beach when it warms up a bit more, but then I have the other fun issue of it being over water. I didn’t get it as a toy, it’s for filming only. Losing it would hurt my production values and wallet.

Overall it is a VERY solid drone. It packs up so tiny. My only issue is that it’s size doesn’t inspire confidence sometimes and can make it hard to see at a distance. I haven’t had any issues with connection or flying badly. But then again, I haven’t tried to push it at all. I only have two batteries right now, as my budget for film making is currently done. I had to sell a bunch of stuff to get this and something else, which I will be writing about very soon. I do want to fly it more often and try it out on some big projects, so I will invest in it a bit more when I can.

As for the video, I didn’t do much as far as settings other than changing some of the settings to be more film-like. Everything else was auto. I will try some manual camera settings on my next shoot. I also got a CPL to try. I hope to get some NDs for it in the future too. I brought my Zhiyun Smooth II iPhone gimbal to see what I could get with a super portable setup. I tried to go full manual in the Mavis app, so some of the shots didn’t match very well. If I went full manual on the Mavic too I think I could get them to match better. I also wanted to try a video with zero slow-motion. As much as I like the look it can be a crutch sometimes. I also had a hard time getting the colors the way I wanted, so I kinda give up and am posting it as the best I could. I really, really need to practice that more. Overall it’s just a test video of sorts. I have been flying since I got it, but just simple stuff that I post on Instagram.

The location for the shoot was fantastic. I had never been to this park before. I came upon it by chance when I went out to practice flying early one morning. The park I wanted to use had a baseball game (at 7:30 AM!) and I just wandered around looking for places to fly for like an hour. The only issue with the park is that it’s kinda far from everything. But it was so perfect for practice… very few people, good scenery, open spaces, perfect cherry blossoms.

I’ll have some more Mavic videos soon, but they’ll most likely be part of other projects. If I can, I’ll do a good beach video at the same place I did the iPhone 7 Plus anamorphic video.

Hopefully content will start flowing more regularly from now on too.

JERHELL – KINGDOM HEARTS Music Video, Directed by JSD

My first real music video in awhile, and my first music video as JSD. Pretty excited to get it out there and the reception has been great!

Jerell wanted something quick and gritty, and he was thrilled with the result. After he told me what he wanted, I knew the perfect setting: Minato Mirai in Yokohama. We filmed half the video in Shinjuku and half at Minato Mirai. I had planned to try and film more in the Cosmo World amusement park, but they closed on days we needed to film and closed early the day we were there. It’s all good, as we got plenty of good footage regardless.

I filmed the video with a special setup using special settings on the GH5. I wanted ALL-I 60p 10-bit video, and my camera can only do that in 1080. Didn’t bother me, as I was going to use an anamorphic lens anyway. I used my Aivascope 1.75x anamorphic lens with the Focuser 8 diopter. Normally it’d be really difficult to use this setup at night, but I discovered that if I use my Voightlander 17.5mm f/0.95 lens in ETC Mode on the GH5, I can get much better images at even f/1.2 with the Aivascope. That lens loves small sensors.

I’m glad I got to help him out with his first real music video. I’ll be working with him and his crew more in the future. Next time we’ll take the quality up a notch. Looking forward to it!

JSD LABS: GOLDEN AFTERNOON – GH5, SLR Magic Anamorphot-50, Iron Glass Modified Helios 44M, and Kenko Orange Filter

I had been thinking of ways to make use of the SLR Magic Anamorphot-50 outside of it’s basic look. I had already done some tests in DCI Cinema 4K with it, which with the Anamorphot gives you the same aspect ratio as a 2x lens in the GH5’s Anamorphic Mode. I was already trying to think of tests using 1.33x lenses for landscape and wide shots to mix with 2x shots for focused areas or people. I really wish I had access to another GH5 to do some real testing of this kinda stuff. But done right, the Anamorphot performs well.

Rig used for this shoot. GH5, M42 Lens Turbo II,
Iron Glass Modified Helios 44-M 58mm. Kenko YA 3 orange filter

I have a small collection of orange filters that I had been getting cheap on Yahoo auction for a year now. I had a few ideas on how to use them , and this is my first one. A lot of people complain about the strong blue flares on the Anamorphot-50 and how contrasty and out of place they can be. Well, I think I fixed that. Now they’re a nice golden color… but so is everything else. Not that I mind, I think for some projects this would work well.

The area I was filming in is one that I came across during my previous photo walk wanderings. It’s a great area and the trails remind me of the ones I grew up around in America. Nice and clean, beautiful views, quiet, and well maintained. The only issue I had was that the higher I climbed, the windier it got. Had I any other camera without excellent IBIS it may have been difficult to shoot with such a light setup.


The only disappointment from this shoot was that the Iron Glass Helios 44M is useless wide open on the Anamorphot. Even though the Anamorphic disc inside the lens brings the minimum to a f/3.5,  the Lens Turbo II brought it to a f/2.5. I shot some tests in Shinjuku wide open a few days ago and they were all unusable. I think I shot most of the Golden Afternoon video at f/4 on the lens. With the Animorphic bokeh filter and the Lens Turbo, I don’t even want to think about the math to figure out what I was actually shooting at.

I didn’t have my regular M42 adapter with me, so I just shot as-is. I want to try more to see if I can get a decent image wide open. I was really hoping for that orange/blue/violet hinted image. You can still see a bit of blue/purple in a few shots. The aperture changed the colors slightly depending on how far I was stopped down. I’d love to try an amber Helios with a blue filter someday.

Shooting 400mb/s gave me a lot of information to work with. I did play around with a few shots to see how many colors I could bring back, but that’s for another test. When shooting raw photos, I could get about 80% of the original colors back.

More fun projects coming soon!

Specs:
Panasonic GH5, C4K 24fps 400mb/s ALL-I
M42 Lens Turbo II
Iron Glass Modified Helios 44-M 58mm
Kenko YA 3 orange filter

Filmed at Konandaisaezurinooka Park in Yokohama, Japan.

Music by me, made in the iOS Launchpad app.

JSD Labs: Panasonic GH5, Möller 32/2x Anamorphic, and the Beholder DS2A testing

Full stats:
Camera: Panasonic GH5, 60fps 4K, ISO 1600 mostly, SS 100 always. V-LOG, Firmware 2.0 with Anamorphic IS and IS lock.
Lens: Pentax Super Takumar 50mm 1.4, used at f/1.4 and f/2.0
Anamorphic: Möller 32/2x
0.5+ and 3.0+ diopters.
Filmed near Yokohama Station, Japan.

This ended up being a pretty epic combination. I’ve had the Beholder DS2A for a few weeks now, but I’ve been dealing with weather, flaky people, and health issues that have kept me from making this video. I hope to have a full review of the DS2A soon, but I have to focus on what I can for now.

First off, while the Möller and the Beholder make this video what it is, the D2S 5th axis arms and the new GH5 firmware make it epic. As for the D2S arms, I am still learning how to tweak them for various situations. It might not be down to calibration as much as it is preference and walking situation. I’ll try to have more on this when I do a full review. Overall, they DO make a big enough difference that makes them worth the money in my mind.

The new firmware brings us video IS lock. This is HUGE for gimbal and steadycam work. The difference is obvious, especially when using Dual IS lenses. I can actually use the Nocticron with this rig, but only with ETC turned on. I stuck with the 50mm so I could get a wider image. Also, it seems the 2.0 anamorphic IBIS makes a difference as well. I should do a comparison.

That said, this was shot using a 50mm lens (33mm HFOV with the anamorphic) and the walking shots are so damn smooth. I have never really even tried any gimbal work on something that tight or a lens setup this big. Now, to balance and support it properly I had to make a simple support rig. It’s made from that simple aluminum flash bar that is for sale everywhere and part of a telescope lens clamp to support the end. Using a washer, I got it nice and flat along the rig.

The only unfortunate result of this is that it makes the camera and lens sit a bit high. While I can get it perfectly balanced, occasionally sharp movements will cause some vertical wobble. I’m pretty sure I could get rid of this with some PID and settings tweaks, but I’m very happy with the base gimbal settings. As you can see in the photo, the angled motor arm makes this rig possible. I don’t think I could do the same setup on the non-angled DS2. It does make it a bit weird to balance, though. I’m still getting use to it. Balancing overall was super easy. When I added diopters to the front I could re-balance the rig in less than a minute. I did use Warp Stabilizer on a few wide shots, but I doubt you’ll be able to tell which ones.

Because of the difficulty of the rig, I decided to find a sweet spot and just stick with it. Really pushing that 1600 ISO on some of these, but It doesn’t bother me too much for night video. It’s mostly shot at f/1.4, but I think some of the super bright crowd shots are at f/2.0. The lens and the anamorphic were kept at infinity and diopters were added, except for two shots where I double focused to get beyond what the 0.5+ Tamron could reach. It wasn’t too bad. The bokeh in this video is superb, the flares hit just right, colors are mostly good. I am still learning how to deal with V-LOG, but you gotta take what you can get with this setup. Shooting at night left me locked at a shutter speed of 100 to prevent flicker. I think I want to invest in some light ND filters for night video eventually.

I need to super thank Matthew (rhyminggaijin) and Kahesi for helping me with this shoot. They did a great job and I’ll most likely work with them again in the future. (Their links are below)  I’m not sure why, but I’ve had a REALLY hard time getting people for my videos. Either people are too shy, flake out, or just never get back to me. It’s really hindering my production schedule. I’m getting tired of working around it.

Lastly, I ask for your patience as I have been dealing with some health issues this year that are the real reason for the lack of regular updates. I have so much on the shelf and so many projects that I’ve had to outright cancel. After this shoot I have been really struggling to get through the day. I’m hoping that my most recent hospital visit will be the start of getting this cleared up. I have so much I want to do…

ANYWAY! I was pretty happy with this video overall. I want to do more and eventually clean it up to a more professional look, or at least as close as this rig can get. Look forward to more!

Once again, thank you to:

Matthew:
https://www.instagram.com/rhyminggaijin/
https://www.youtube.com/user/Rhyminggaijin

Khaleesi:
https://www.instagram.com/sexy_beau_diamond_/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3luSyBYkUcdVhExrpO6m4g

Yokohama in 8K – A Panasonic GH5 6K Photo Mode Anamorphic Exercise

Becoming impatient waiting for Panasonic to release the firmware update with full resolution Anamorphic mode, I decided to take Friday off and try to get some good shots around Yokohama using the 6K Photo mode. It didn’t end up going as planned, but I decided to upload a few shots anyway.

In order, the shots were filmed at Yamashita Park, Osanbashi Pier, the Landmark Tower Sky Garden Observatory, and Ishikawacho Chinatown.

As luck would have it, it ended up being one of the hottest, or the hottest days of the summer. It made it hard to move around, focus (mind and lens), and it was really hazy overall. Not ideal conditions when trying to get your best shots. I think many of them came out great, but double focusing the Ultra Star got tedious when every shot was so different. I had issues with vignetting that I couldn’t see because it was so bright out. I wanted a good variety of shots, but I also knew I couldn’t do a long video. 8K is a pain in the ass to render and the file sizes are huge.

I kept my gear light, using a video tripod, rails, and external mic. I had originally planned to do 5.1 surround audio, but my mic setup failed for whatever reason. I apologize for the on camera audio. I was filming with the GH5, the Panasonic 45-175mm f/4-5.6 lens, and the Chinatown shots were done with the Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2. Most of the early shots were done with a variable ND, and the shots inside the Landmark Tower observatory were with a CPL.  Any landscape shots were done at f/8, closeups at f/4, and all night shots were done at whatever f-stop to keep the shutter speed at 50, about f/2.0-3. I used 1+ and 3+ diopters for close shots.

Yamashita Park had lots of great places to film. I will definitely go back when I have the chance. And yes, All Star by Smash Mouth suddenly started playing while filming. They also played I Try by Macy Gray, making me think that the park’s music CD was from 1999.

Osanbashi Pier apparently shakes just enough to not be compensated by Dual IS. It was constant the entire shoot but I didn’t notice until I got home to check the shots. After Effects Warp Stabilizer did a good job eliminating it, but had I known I would have done the shots handheld.

Landmark Tower’s Sky Garden was great. It cost 1,000 yen just to enter, but they had no issues with me using a tripod. (Many Japanese tourist sites don’t allow them) The glass reflection, however, was really difficult to deal with, even with a CPL. I couldn’t get the lens close enough to the glass to eliminate it, and the glass is so thick/layered that even then there were still reflections. Some of the shots I took with my iPhone right up against the glass had reflections.

The shots in Chinatown came out great. I would have filmed more but I was already super tired by that point. I also had limitations, as if I wasn’t careful I got heavy vignetting with the Isco Ultra Star and the 42.5mm lens. I need a bigger variable ND if I’m going to use that setup. I tried to film a guy making candy, but his lights were so bright that I had to stop down to f/5.0, and it gave ugly dark corners.

 

The next challenge was working with the damn H.265 files. I repackaged them in Handbrake (who decided to change the dimentions on a few videos for no reason), and they worked OK in Adobe Premier. I have a pretty fast computer that can handle 4K stuff with zero issues. But it was like I was in 2008 with HD files on a 2006 computer. Press space bar, wait 5 seconds, it plays. The edit took far longer than it should have. And that was after rendering all the shots at 1/8 resolution. The rest was no-nonsense, I imported it into After Effects for color correction (something I am still not good at) and then it came time to render.

After researching if there was a better way to render 8K video and failing in all attempts, I decided to try just slightly reduced settings from my early experiment that I rendered using GoPro Cineform and just hoped the file would be under 128 GB.

After 3 hours of rendering, I was left with a 3 minute and 19 second,  42 GB large, 9984×3744 sized video. I’m listing it as 8K, as Youtube will only support up to 8K right now.

Overall, I guess I’m happy with it. I think the shots could be cleaner. I think if I brought more gear and my square ND set I could have got better overall compositions. Double focusing is not an ideal process for getting perfect shots on the fly, and some of them are not as clean as I’d like. When Panasonic offers the full resolution 6K Anamorphic mode, hopefully it won’t be in that god-awful H.265 format. Until then, I think I’m done with the 6K Photo mode.

I need to get more hard drive space. This is going to be a data nightmare year.

JSD Labs: iPhone 7 Plus Anamorphic Video Test

iphone7plusanamorphictest2

(vimeo)

After a week of waiting, I finally received my iPhone 7 Plus from docomo on Saturday. With little time for tests and setting up, I  ventured out to Hakkeijima in Kanagawa the next day to shoot some video with a rig that I wasn’t even sure was going to work.

Because none of the manual camera control apps worked with the dual lens setup yet, I decided to do this first test with just the Camera app. Keep it basic, no color correction just to see what the rig can do. I had tested the setup with my iPhone 6 Plus last week after receiving the Tarion Cinema Mount, but even though it worked well, I had no idea if the dual camera setup would even be possible on it.

Luckily, it did work. I should have documented this process better, but there wasn’t too much to it. I am using an old 1.33x anamorphic that was made for video cameras in the days of 4:3. It’s unbranded, but it’s about the same size as the Sony VCL-W169. These are very rare, and while I have heard of others like mine on the internet, I haven’t seen another for sale in years. However, SLR Magic quietly released a new Anamorphot that has 52mm rear threads like mine that would most likely work with this setup as well if you want to build something similar. This is the only way to get an anamorphic on the iPhone 7 Plus until Moondog Labs releases their adapter later this year.

The major issues I had were with the OIS and the Beholder. Half of it may be attributed to my custom PID settings being for my Sony RX100IV on the Beholder, the other being the OIS would cause the lens to shift where you could see the edges of the anamorphic. Once the Mavis app is updated for the 7 Plus, I’ll give it another go and play around with shutting the OIS off when on a stabilizer.

Switching between the cameras worked really well. All of the automation in the Camera app seems to do well judging the shots, but I am excited to try it out with manual controls. I am especially curious on how the apps out there will deal with the zoom lens, as it has a few quirks I will go into in another post.

Overall I am pretty happy with the results. I tried to color correct a few of the shots and I was very impressed with what the camera can provide out of box. Once I have updated apps and have fine-tuned the setup better, I will give a a go again and really see how far I can push the iPhone 7 Plus cameras.