Jordan Westhoff

Jordan Westhoff's Blog


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Behind the Scenes: Shooting Sony 4K RAW

Recently, as part of the MPS Shootout we just finished, my shootout team and I had a great opportunity to shoot with some interesting Sony hardware since our main objective was to shoot and compare the RAW cinema capabilities of the Arri D-21 and the Sony NEX-FS700.

Natively, the Sony FS700 can’t shoot 4K. However, with a gracious software update from SONY that was implemented and installed by the RIT SoFA cage, the feature is unlocked. While the sensor and the camera on board hardware can handle the capture of 4K, the camera itself has no reliable method to record it. Without any hardware upgrade, the Sony FS700 only employs an SD card slot, which is not fast enough, nor high enough capacity to begin to think about recording 4K content. Hence, enter the Sony AXS-R5 +  HXR-IFR5 4K bundle. The school didn’t have these units available, but with a grant we were able to rent the equipment for a night in order to conduct our tests.

The most expensive hard drive toaster you ever will buy (for now until…8K?)

It was actually a pretty difficult feat getting our paws on this particular setup. The physical recording unit, the AXS-R5 is built and engineered for Sony’s PMW-F5 and Cine-Alta F55 cameras – not natively meant for the NEX-FS line. SONY solved this problem by engineering an “interface” unit – the HXR-IFR5. This unit takes in the 4K signal over an SDI cable and then pushes the signal to the recorder to be saved. Overall, the two units together cost just over $10,500 and that doesn’t include mounting, storage or other accessories. For our test, we used a single 512gb SSD, also manufactured by SONY, and it really did the trick! As a result of the difficulty in acquiring the devices, we couldn’t shoot for all of our test days but a small rental company out of Tennessee, pulled through for us! Enter LensRentals.com! With the unit acquired, I could then proceed to unbox it and start recording!

Initial Vanguard package containing our SONY gear.

Initial Vanguard package containing our SONY gear.

All of our SONY gear nestled inside of its shipping case.

All of our SONY gear nestled inside of its shipping case.

All unboxed and joined together - just need a camera!

All unboxed and joined together – just need a camera!

 

After the unit was unboxed, we were able to test it our in an actual scene! We proceeded to setup SOFA’s Studio B for our tests which gave us plenty of space to work, as well as plenty of lights, tables, and surfaces to set up our gear and mount our wall test targets. We shot a variety of scenes, mostly charts, but also we got a couple more shots featuring aesthetic objects as well for style.

Studio B setup for 4K RAW

Studio B setup for 4K RAW

 

This was our go-to setup. The camera (SONY FS700) was linked to the onboard SD media and the 4K unit via SDI which was also being monitored via the onboard signal feed. Since our 4K and HD were the same aspect ratio, the framing did not change, which meant we could safely use the Panasonic HD monitor to see what the camera was seeing from the DIT station. On set we had an Apple MacBook Pro to monitor files once they were recorded and ingested. All in all, the setup was far less complicated than some other setups, like the ARRI D-21 setup which was a spaghetti nightmare.

S.Two recording setup for the Arri D-21

S.Two recording setup for the Arri D-21

Mostly, all of our testing went well. We were able to gather all of the shots we wanted and several others. One snag did occur though, and I think that it is best described by the beautifully composed SnapChat that one of my partners, Carly Cerquone, sent to detail the issue.

Yup, that's right. We made the ol' rookie mistake.

Yup, that’s right. We made the ol’ rookie mistake.

In the end though, the project was a ton of fun and myself and the entire team learned a whole lot about the process of shooting and working with 4K. It is significantly different (and far more time consuming) than any other workflow currently around and you can find all of our findings and video information at the Shootout page on my blog here as well. Thanks for reading! As one final note, we decided to engineer our own dolly for pure creativity’s sake to capture the opening scene of the MPS SHOOTOUT Video – here was our super innovative approach. Below are some other photos from on set as well.

Carly and David, rocking the homemade dolly

Carly and David, rocking the homemade dolly

Carly, David and Matt lighting the scene

Carly, David and Matt lighting the scene

Matt lighting while some old B-Roll transfers

Matt lighting while some old B-Roll transfers

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Summer Updates

Hey everybody!

So, over the last couple of evenings I’ve spent a good deal of time updating the site! I”ve added new content, a couple new pages, and most importantly of all, began posting content from Spring semester! There’s a lot going on here so let me break down all of the updates for you!

 

Third Year MPS Camera Shootout!

So this is the first big one! If you head over to my page under projects, you’ll see the page for the MPS Shootout! This is a whopper and all of the content from the shoots, uncluding b-roll, final analysis and our final video screened for all of RIT’s film school is posted. There’s a lot of information here, and if you’ve followed along at all, it should be pretty exciting. I found it easier to turn it into a whole page, rather than a post so it can house more information as well as be easier to find later as more posts pile up!

Raw & Order Shootout

 

Senior Thesis Project Update #1

The page is finally live! I have some updates to publish tomorrow so stay tuned for those! If you follow the header, it will take you to the landing page for my senior thesis project – this sucker is being researched over the summer and then the completion of research and the beginning stages of engineering will start in the fall! I’m still working on populating the page with information about the initial ideals and concepts of the project but those will be up soon as well!

alienware

 

GitHub!

As a lot of you know, I’ve recently moved over to doing all of my code versioning and revision tracking via GitHub and I think it’s pretty cool! I’ve started a couple of pages within this site to either pull from Gists that I’m working on or completed that I want to show you or from actual Git hub repos. Basic Gists can be found here and the rest of my stuff can be found on my actual GitHub page for now!

git

 

Thanks for catching up, be sure to check back to the pages as I’m adding more posts!

 

 


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Breaking into Wikipedia!

Last semester, as a final course term paper for a class at RIT called Color Science, it was required of each student to generate and research information on a given topic and then present it in the form of a Wikipedia page!

Well, I recently got work from the Wikipedia Daemon that the page I submitted for my final was approved, and is now publicly available on Wikipedia! While the assignment itself made little to no sense, it is now properly published and looks pretty schnazzy if I do say so myself! One of the major hangups of dealing with Wikipedia is their use of Markup publishing language and their strict commons and user uploaded image policies. This wasn’t really apparent to our professor at the time, so in stead of simply publishing a professional paper in LaTeX or Word, each student had to spend a significant amount of time learning and adapting to Wikipedia’s publishing policies. As a result, many were removed immediately and few made it through the moderation process, so it’s really cool to see that this one made it through to be published!

The Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hues Color Vision Test, by Jordan Westhoff on Wikipedia

Image

 


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Complete X-Series!

Here is the complete X-Series motion graphic series I’ve been working on for some time. Now that it is Thanksgiving break here for students in the US, I finally had time to finish it. Let me know what you think!

I originally did the series in 4K resolution, and I still have those files, check my Flickr feed for updates!

 


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Vacation Sum-Up

Hey people!

As I’m sure you’re well aware, it’s finally summer. (At least in New England, we think), and summer means vacation! Vacation, we did!

Directly after getting back from my freshman year at RIT, we departed for the lovely Orlando, Florida, for twelve days in the lovely sun. I was the typical tourist, we went to the typical tourist places and it was a load of fun! The general agenda included Disney’s Magic Kingdom (twice!), Anheiser Busch Seaworld (also twice, eeep!), Disney Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney Typhoon Lagoon. Weather was awesome, it was good to spend time with the family, vacation was great.

However, I decided to embark on a little experiment.

I planned, as I always do, to take photos on the vacation. This time, however, I did it with a little twist. I brought along only three pieces of tech this time.

  • MacBook Pro
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20 14mp/8x Optical Point and Shoot Camera
  • 32 GB class 10 – SanDisk Extreme SD card.

Yes, that’s right. No fancy DSLR’s, no pretty glass and no speed lights. The goal of my experiment was to see just how much detail could be pulled from a single point and shoot camera with a fairly large sensor integrated. Props to Panasonic, I was beyond pleased with the results! The particular Lumix I was packing contains a single 1/3″ 14MP CMOS sensor and integrated 8x lens. Color was good, detail was fabulous and the sharpness of the lens was fairly satisfactory overall. All images were cropped, matted and processed within Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, one of my favorite library softwares to date.
So, if you haven’t checked out the photos, go dig them here! For the embedded images, click through to see the full raw, unscaled images. Yours truly has to do a little more coding to get native aspect ratios in posts ;)

I’ll be uploading more here as they get processed, stay on the lookout! Have an awesome summer ladies and gents!

-Jordan

Update: Fixed those rascally images. Go here to see the rest!


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Updated About.Me Landing Page

Hey folks!

I just finished updating my personal About.Me landing page and I’m pretty pleased with it so far. Granted, I am still looking into an updated photo to use as the main image of the page, but I’ve changed a good deal of the back end. Once I get everything integrated properly, I think it’ll look mighty fine! Go check it out here if your interested!

Thanks peeps!