MIT Eats Phantoms for lunch...

OK, I know that supper high frame rate photography is all the rage right now, but I think some big brains over at MIT have certainly won the FPS wars... sorry Phantom, a TRILLION FPS is gonna be hard to beat!


Impressed by seeing a bullet pierce an apple?  How about the moment a water ballon pops?  I bet you've never seen light move before!  On the left you are looking at waves of photons passing over a surface, yes it's fast enough to see light move.

I predict 3 to 5 years before this is used in the Jack Ass series.

More info here


Here is a brief TED Talk that describes the technique in detail.

Drop Frame or Non Drop Frame?

I just recieved a message from a friend shooting a project in South Africa, he was curious about the implications of shooting Drop Frame vs Non Drop.  I've been asked this question a number of times over the years and there seems to always be a bit of confusion over whats actually going on.  Here's the answer I offered...
Drop frame has no effect on the actual speed of recording, it is merely a means of correcting for the difference between real "clock" time and video time.  Because of some oddities in the US power grid, video runs ever so slightly slower than real time.  What commonly referred to as 60hz power is actually 59.94 cycles per second.  This means we record 29.97 frames per second.  
This is a problem when you start counting frames.  Time code works under the assumption that we are recording 30 fps when in fact we are not.  This means that every minute we are 2 frames behind real time.  Over the course of a day, time code will lag behind by a minute and a half.  This means that your hour long TV show will actually be almost 1:04 long.
To make up for this, Drop Frame TC was created where the counter skips over 2 frames every minute except on the tenth minute.  The recorded frames are continuous, there is no actual dropped frames, just numbers that are skipped in the counting sequence.  This means that an hour of Time Code very closely matches an hour of Real Time.
So what to record?  In short, it doesn't matter.  Drop Frame is only really important when editing for broadcast, where an hour show really needs to be an hour long.  For shooting, it's essentially irrelevant.  If post is comfortable using DF, give them DF.  If they like NDF, give them that.  Just make sure that whatever you do is consistant across all devices.  Sound, Lockit Boxes, Slates etc.  If not, the time codes for each device will drift by 4 seconds every hour relative to each other.
Likewise make sure nothing is set to actually record 30 fps.  Certain gear has the ability to record either 29.97 or 30, in this case a device recording 30 is actually recording more frames in each second then the device set to record 29.97, these 2 will be very hard to sync up later.  The first firmware for the 5D only recorded 24p not 23.98, so syncing it other footage or devices was a nightmare.
Sorry for the long winded explanation, hope that helps.

Agent 007 in my Pocket

After an unfortunate event on our trip to Puerto Rico where a member of the crew had his phone stolen, I thought it would be a good idea to put some form of tracking on my Droid2.  So after looking around at a wide variety of options, I chose the geekiest and most awesome of them all.  Using a program called Tasker, I have turned my Droid2 into a secret agent.

If I should loose my phone or if it were stollen, all I have to do is text it a secret code from my Google Voice account and the phone will spring into action.

First, it turns on the GPS and sends me a text message with it's location, date, time, and battery level.  Then it snaps a photo, and calls my voicemail and leaves a 30 second recording of whatever is going on around the phone.

The next step to figure out is how to get the phone to email me the photo it took.  I just wish there was a front facing camera, that would give me the most useful image.  But either way, this turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would.

Here's the various nifty bits that I used to cook up my custom solution: