Shooting "2K" Raw Video with the 7D


With magic lantern firmware and the tragic lantern fork coming up to speed on the 7D development, this camera has now come up to speed and in some instances surpassed the 5DmkII in features.
With the recent development of RAW for the Canon DSLRs, mainly the 5D mkIII and mkII, the 7D has been late to the game and was a tough nut to crack due to its dual digics. Then a breakthrough came, and after ironing out the kinks plus the development of MLV, the 2nd gen raw recording code that can also add sound recording at 48 khz stereo, 7D now has a relatively stable Magic Lantern firmware.
To sum it up, here's a roundup of the important film making features the 7D can now do.
Video:
Raw recording in 14bit DNGs with sound.
No 4gig limit due to file spanning.
In-camera playback of raw video.
Variable frame rates from .4 (yes there's a point) to 60 FPS.
Exposure aids like Zebras, Histogram, Waveform, Vectorscope
Focusing aids like Peaking, Digic Peaking, Magic Zoom
Custom cropmarks
3X Crop mode
up to 2048 x 930 at 23.976fps in crop mode
2512 X 1068 at 17fps raw recording in crop mode.
Audio:
Sound meters
Separate gain controls for both L and R channels.
Sampling rate from 48,44,22,11, and 8khz
Analog and digital gain controls.
External input and internal mic recording simultaneously.
Headphone monitoring via usb (still buggy)
Headphone volume.


The 7D has a faster data rate and better handling of buffer data than the mkII so it's capable of recording a slightly higher resolution in crop mode.
For instance, while the 5dmkII can do 2048x820 continuously, the 7D can do 2048x930. The 5DmkII was a max width at 2144, the 7D can do 2512.
The 7D can also do 50 and 60P, the 5dmkII is only up to 30P.
Even when recording raw video, the canon dslrs still do line skipping in 1x normal mode. Aliasing and moire is still there, the 5dmkIII though has an agressive OLPF that solved this.
In crop mode however, the recording is 1:1 pixel so this has been greatly diminished, and with resolution widths at 2048 and 2512, this is practically a non issue.

Resolution charts.
2048x930 (click to enlarge)


2512x1068 (click to enlarge)

Currently, the CF cards that I have tested on the 7D at these resolutions are the 1000X and 1050X from KomputerBay as well as those from Lexar, the KB 1050x is slightly slower but can still do most of the resolutions the KB 1000X can do and in some cases a resolution lower.
With these cards the highest frame rate I can do at 2512 x 1068 is only 17fps. It's possible a faster card could increase this frame rate but for now its at 17fps. But hey, back in the day, 8mm film was at 16fps and the GoPro Hero 3+ is doing 4K at only 15fps so there must be some use for this feature like static shots our those with subtle motion changes for instance.

I've ran some motion tests comparing 17fps vs 24fps and I think it can be used for certain situations.

Simple human motion test.
(click image to play video)


Vehicles motion test.
(click image to play video)


Raw files are huge, at around 4gig a minute so be prepared to allocate some serious HDD space and some fast and high capacity cf cards.
Right now, there are programmers making apps to extract the DNGs and WAV files from the MLV files that the camera is recording.
You can then import the extracted DNGs to either Da Vinci Resolve or After Effects for initial grade or for roundtripping to your NLE.

Here is a sample piece shot in 2048x930 uploaded into YouTube at 2K.
(click image to play video)



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3X Crop mode on 5D mkII, mkIII and 7D using Magic Lantern

There's a neat feature to shooting Raw with magic lantern on the canon DSLR like the 5DmkII, mkIII and the 7D. Magic lantern is able to record a crop of the sensor approximately giving you a 3X tele-converter built in!

This works like a digital zoom on some cameras, but unlike digital zoom, this feature is essentially sharper and better in quality compared to the 1X normal video mode. The reason is that, the recorded image is a 1:1 pixel crop of the sensor. No line skipping is involved, aliasing and moire is much better controlled in crop mode! The images coming out of crop mode is so good that I don't need to use the VAF filter anymore to cut down aliasing and moire.

Wait! There's more! With crop mode you can essentially increase recording resolution to as high as 2.5K on the mkIII and 7D, 2.1K on the mkII.

How to record in crop mode.

Crop mode raw video recording is done by pressing the magnify button on the camera.  First, makes sure raw video is on in ML menu, a single press at 5X magnify and crop mode video is engaged. Pressing magnify twice gives you the normal10X zooming and has no effect in crop mode. (disable 10X zoom in ML menu if you are using 7D as this freezes the LV, hopefully this is fixed soon, to unfreeze press the play button.)

After pressing magnify once, go to ML raw video menu and choose your resolution, you will notice in the tool tips that possible resolutions to record is now increased.

For the 5DmkIII you can go as high as 2560 x 1320. But continuous recording is only possible starting at 2040 x 1152.

5D mkII can go as high as 2144 x 1076. Continuous starts at 2144 x 912.

7D you can go as high as 2512 x 1200.  Continuous recording starts at 2040 x 820.

After choosing your resolution, start raw video recording.

How to frame in crop mode.

For now, on the 5D2 and 7D, you can get proper 3X framing when you set preview to AUTO.

On the 5Dmk2 what happens with preview selections are:

1. Canon = once magnify is pressed once, you see normal 5X magnification on lcd, image is in color, you can record in crop mode and the result is 3X crop.

2. ML Grayscale = once magnify is pressed once, you see B&W image in LCD, slightly pixelated, but accurate framing of 3X crop. Recorded image is in color at 3X crop. (use this when connecting an HDMI monitor to remove buggy framing guides)
While framing is accurate for 3x crop this has a caveat, that when recording is started, the preview switches to a grayscale version of canon preview.

3. Auto = ML decides what to use. When magnify is pressed once ML grayscale is engaged, press magnify twice and it returns to Canon mode with normal 10X magnify. (3X crop mode is only in 5X magnify)

4. Hacked = no effect that I notice. I don't use this, as this seem to be a remnant of early experiments.



I took the 5DmkII for a spin and see what it is like to record ONLY in CROP MODE, so with a 3X crop my Tokina 11-16mm becomes 33-48mm and my Nikkor 80-200mm is now  a 240-600mm!

View in Vimeo:


View in YouTube:


In this video I stressed the footage to see how it holds up, in dynamic range, in high contrast and detailed scenes that usually break up with h264, and also shooting scenes that normally causes aliasing and moire.
 

For post production, it's similar to 1x raw video, refer to the free DVXuser ML raw video quick guide which you can download from the link on the home page.

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Testing KomputerBay 256 gig 1200X CF card on EOS 5DmkII, mkIII and 7D

Posted.Aug 30, 2013.
I got hold of the new high capacity high speed 256gig 1200X CF from KomputerBay and I put it to the test and see if this can be used with Canon DSLRs I have together with Magic Lantern firmware to shoot raw video.

Raw video is a demanding format at 4gig per 1 minute. Also it needs a very fast CF card to handle a data rate around 74.5 MB/s.

The new 256gig cards is currently compatible with very few USB 3.0 CF card readers, Lexar and Transcend are 2 of those. Non-compatible readers will only show the cards as 132 gig in capacity.

Out of the box, the card is seen by the camera as 238 gig (256).

Using a compatible transcend card reader we made the card bootable for Magic Lantern using EOScard.

I own the 5DmkII and 7D so I requested a friend of mine, Steve Paul, who has a studio in downtown Dallas to help me run the tests on his 5D mkIII, it also helped that he owns 1 of the 2 tested readers that is compatible with this card.

We tested the card using the Magic Lantern Benchmark utility which will run a read and write series of tests for 5 minutes to see how fast the card is based on the camera's available data bandwidth.

Based on this benchmark I saw no speed improvement over the 32 and 64 gig 1000X cf cards I tested previously. I think the camera's bandwidth is already the limiting factor here. Maybe the higher end 1DXX series or perhaps the 1DC can benefit from the speed of this card. I don't know.

On the 5D mkIII the resolutions we tested show;
1920 x 1080 = continuous recording at 24P, approx. 330 frames in 30P.
In crop mode
1920 x 1080 = continuous recording.
On the 5DmkII all at 24P
1856 x 1004 = continuous recording
1728 x 972 = continuous recording
In crop mode
2144 x 1076 = 339 frames
2144 x 898 = continuous recording
1856 x 1044 = continuous recording
On the 7D
1728 x 972 = continuous recording (currently this is the max res )
In crop mode (currently only 30P)
2512 x 1200 = 95 frames
2240 x 1120 = 128 frames
1920 x 1080 = 213 frames
1472 x 828 = continuous recording

Fresh from the CF packaging, the cameras we used will see the original capacity of the CF card, however, when you do an in-camera format, the camera format will reduce the capacity to 128 gig.  I think this is a camera limitation.

Due to limited time we had to test the mkIII(3) we could not try to do extensive stress tests to try and fill up the cards, I decided to do that on my own with the mkII(2).

After testing the 5DmkIII we formatted the CF card in the PC via the transcend reader, using EaseUS software to format to FAT32 with it's original capacity as 256gig then used EOS card to make it bootable for the 5DmkII(2) ready for my capacity test.

I recorded a series of raw clips to try and let the camera fill up the card to max capacity.
Since I'm not trying to test continuity but capacity, I try to record in 8 batches of approx 32 gig raw video clips.

I was only able to record up to 116 gig based on the tally I made of the clips via ML file manager.  The recording stopped when the camera indicated "card full".
116 gig I believe is approximately the capacity of a 128 gig card.
I shut down the camera and turned it back on and this time the camera indicates the card is not formatted.

Upon entering format menu, card size is also no longer shown.
When card is formatted it again reduced the capacity to 128gig.
I guess at this point I can say the cameras we tested, the 5D mkII, mkIII and 7D will not benefit using this capacity and speed.

Among the KomputerBay Cards I've tested the best value for money is their 32 and 64 gig 1000X.


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Shermco Industries 3D Animation for their corporate video

This project called for showing showing the company's wide service offerings in the power industry, from the different sources of power generation, to transmission and then finally to the industrial end user. 


Frame grab above shows the scene of the energy line going over a fossil fuel power plant.
Below shows the nuclear power plant.



Working with Silverhorn Enterainment, which is producing the video, we used the concept based on the company's slogan, "One Line. One Company." We implemented it using 3D animation, showing a graphical representation of "Energy" coming out from each of the power sources, ie: hydro, nuclear, solar, etc. to form the "LINE" eventually flying into an industrial factory.

The "Energy Line" goes through all the structures representing the scope of the company's maintenance services.


With the "energy line" going into the factory, it heads for an electric motor which disassembles to show its innards, the pov camera goes through the stator with the rotor pulling away reminiscent of old vintage footage of an apollo rocket breaking away from its booster stage, the "energy line" then turns the gear which becomes part of the company logo.


About Shermco.


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3D logo animations for Dallas Marathon live broadcast

For a fast turn around, scanline rendering was used instead of photorealistic ray trace rendering solutions available.

A selection from the rendered sequence is shown below from the first, middle and static part of the animation.



To further speed up the process without sacrificing visual impact, multi/sub material type was used for face maps, the logo will have shiny and "reflective" extruded sides using reflection maps while its front faces maintains the prescribed brand colors, though its glossiness qualities was animated through time and eventually brought down to zero upon nearing the static phase This gave us speed than if we used ray traced reflections.
Final delivery has in HD 1920 X 1080 still frames with alpha channel to give the producers flexibility in compositing it over any part of the footage of the live event.


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Experiments with a DIY variable ND filter

One of the popular filter accessory nowadays is the variable ND filter. It's purpose is to provide more control over your exposure by controlling the amount of light going into your lens then to the sensor. Instead of having several ND filters in different strengths, with the vari-ND, you simply dial in the strength you want in one filter.


Variable-ND filters, sometimes called fader ND filters, are especially handy for video use since the cinematographer is sometimes bound by shutter speed, frame rate or sometimes ISO. For instance, the scene might be bright outdoors with a shallow DOF treatment, but the iso is already at the lowest and shutter speed must be at 48 or 50 when at a 24 frame rate. Being able to dial in the specific exposure with a vari-nd would be the fastest way to achieve this than fiddling around with several ND filters. The example screen grab from my tests show this scenario, shot in bright mid-day sun at f2 with a shutter of 47. This was with a Nikkor 50mm f1.4.

Variable NDs vary in price, from 100 to more than 500 US depending on ring size and brands. Some are better than others.

To those who want to experiment with its benefits without spending, and if you got old polarizing filters lying around, you can make a DIY "Vari-ND" filter, note the quotes, by stacking a linear pola over a circular pola filter. Or, if you like its effect and find it useful, you can rehouse the circular pola in another filter ring that does not rotate to make it convenient to use.

Click to see how to make a DIY Vari-ND filter.

So, does it work? Well, if mated to the "right" lens, it does.
I tested several lenses, I used the following, Nikkor 50mm f1.4, Nikkor 105mm f2.8, Nikkor af 80-200mm f2.8. The wide lenses I have would vignette so I did not include them. Draw your own conclusions after watching the tests I did using color and resolution charts.

Test video -Vimeo

Test video-YouTube

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Sample images taken with a DIY pinhole "lens" cap

Click the image to enlarge.

How to DIY a pinhole "lens" cap.

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Creating a 3D "Chocolate Hills".

The unique geological formation called Chocolate hills is found in the island of Bohol in the Philippines. Its composed of around 1,700 cone shaped mounds scattered over several towns. The hills got their name when the grass covering them turns brown during summer. I often shot these hills for several years and often wondered what its like to fly between them. This gave me an idea of why not do a 3D animation of a fly-through!

After modeling the land mass and hills, the next step was to create the foliage that covers the landscape.


To create a natural looking grass cover, I modeled 4 blades of grass in varying form and curvature. With these "master clumps of grass" I used a proxy method to create instances of the grass blades to cover the hills. This method prevents the computer system from crashing due to lack of memory.

 

Also, I modeled a coconut tree complete with the cocofruits and also created instanced proxies.

All in all, I had a whooping 14,940,000 blades of grass, 1,000 coconuts and 8,099 broad leafed trees to populate the landscape for the chocolate hills 3D animation.

Here is a frame grab from the animation.


View the animated scene included in the 3D animation reel.



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Magic Lantern for 5D Mark II does HDR Video

I have done some tests on this feature and this seems ideal when there is no fast movements happening on a large portion of the screen. Otherwise, there would be some stuttering of the moving object/s.

The 60D and 600D can provide smoother HDR video images due to its 60P option.

I am currently fine tuning my own post workflow on this using After Effects with Photomatix and Twixtor. Other workflows can be found here in the vimeo magic lantern group discussions.

Click image to go to video.


Click image to go to video.


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