Conforming Video

Slowing down video.

Now that I’m starting to shoot some video with the Nikon D3200, I wanted to try that old trick of shooting at 60fps and then changing the footage to 24fps for a bit of slow motion action. Now, you can’t just do this by slowing down the footage, you need to conform the footage. If you’ve got Final Cut Studio 7 you can use Cinema Tools to do it, and if you have Final Cut Pro X I guess it’s even easier, but let’s pretend you don’t have those, or you prefer open source… read on!

I couldn’t find a way to conform the footage using my old pal MPEG Streamclip, so I moved on to ffmpeg, and managed to find this bit on doing a conversion with a fixed number of frames.

Here’s what worked for me with two steps. There’s a way to do it all in one shot, but I’ve not got that to work yet.

ffmpeg -i 
  -f rawvideo 
  -b 50000000 
  -pix_fmt yuv420p 
  -vcodec rawvideo 
  -s 1280x720 
  -y DSC_0031.raw

So the first command above takes our original QuickTime file right from the camera ( and creates a “raw” version of it we output as DSC_0031.raw (NOTE: In both examples the code should all be on one line. I’ve broken it up to multiple lines for readability. Make it one line!)

ffmpeg -i DSC_0031.raw 
  -f rawvideo 
  -pix_fmt yuv420p 
  -r 23.97 
  -s 1280x720  

Once we have the DSC_0031.raw file complete, we run the second command and create a new file named, which will now be at 24fps instead of the original 60fps. Note that we also specify the resolution (1280×720) and the frames per second (23.97). Obviously if you want other values, change those to something else.

So here’s the final video, shot at 60fps and played back at 24fps for just a little bit of slow motion. (With the RED ONE We can shoot at 120fps, but hey, a cheap DSLR doing 60fps isn’t too bad.)

One more thing on the video, it was shot with 3 camera angles, but only one camera. The trick here is to shoot the same sequence 3 times (yes, I drilled 3 boxes) with the camera in a different position each time. We do this all the time, sometimes you have to when it’s a one camera shoot, and sometimes it just works out based on the footage you’ve got.


Nikon D3200 – Start!

Hey, we got a Nikon D3200 in the studio… how does it work? Just fine. I mean, there hasn’t been a ton of evaluation time with it yet, but I’ll mention one thing.

When we got in a Nikon D3x a few years back the biggest pain point was that we could not open the NEF files without using Nikon’s ViewNX software. (At least not until some software updates.) My workflow is built around using the Adobe Camera RAW converter in Photoshop, so that sort of sucked. Things got solved over time, but right now with the NEF files created by the Nikon D3200, I’m out of my simple NEF -> Photoshop workflow.

DNG 7.1 Converter

The solution for now is to grab the Adobe DNG Converter “Release Candidate” software, which lets you convert NEF files to DNG files so you can open as RAW in Photoshop. (And yeah, I’m still running Photoshop CS 5, btw.)

The version I got says “ beta” and when you launch it you see that it will expire in June. (We assume a new release, or worse-case a new beta, will be out by then.)

DNG Expires

The Camera Raw plugin you see listed on that page? It didn’t work for me. In fact, before I could install it I had to install the Adobe Application Manager, and then it told me it couldn’t install again. I dug through the install files, and while I did find support files for the Nikon D800 (which we’ll get in soon… I hope!) there are no files for the Nikon D3200.


So for now I’ll just stick with converting NEF files to DNG files, and then opening those in Photoshop. It’s another step, and it’s a PITA, but it could be worse. And while Nikon’s new ViewNX2 is a big improvement to the crash-worthy ViewNX, I still don’t care for it as part of my preferred workflow.

So here’s hoping Adobe gets that RAW plugin updated soon, and that it’ll work with Photoshop CS 5.


It’s not the Gear, it’s the Gear!

TWIP - Gear

In the latest This Week in Photo there was another round of the talk of gear, and how gear doesn’t make the photographer, and while I agree with this, I also disagree with this.

The photographers who tend to say “Gear doesn’t matter!” are the ones who have really good gear. I’m not saying that it’s not true, but that it’s partly true. Over the last four years I’ve shot with a Nikon D40 with the 18-55mm kit lens, and I’ve shot with a Nikon D3x with a 28-70mm pro lens. the D40 was the entry level DSLR from Nikon in 2006. The D3x was the top of the line model a few years ago. The 18-55mm lens is a cheap consumer-grade lens that costs about $100, and the 28-70mm is a professional lens that costs close to $2,000.

Enough with the specs… I’ve taken the same photo with both cameras, and the results from the D3x look better. And I’m talking about studio shots, I’m not even getting into low-light, event photography, sports shooting, and other comparisons.

They also talked about the Nikon D3200, which oddly enough, is what I’ll be upgrading to very soon. I’m not expecting D3x quality from it, especially since I’ll be shooting with cheaper glass, and I’m not letting that 24 megapixels number fool me. I’d be fine if it were 16 megapixels, or even 12. (The D40 is 6 megapixels, and yeah, I have come to find that a bit limiting.)

I’m not buying into the idea that to become a better photographer you need better gear, because I do believe that shooting and trying new things is the road to getting better, but I do believe that gear does play a part it helping you make progress, or holding you back.

So my upgrade from a D40 to a D3200 comes with a set of expectations. I expect to be able to get better results in low-light (6400 ISO versus 1600 ISO.) I expect to have more choices in focus points (11 versus 3.) I expect more megapixels (24 versus 6.) And I also expect to be able to shoot video with the D3200, which is something I can’t do with the D40.

That’s about it… I’ll let you know how it goes.


The iPhone 4S Camera

I’ve been meaning to do some iPhone 4S camera tests for a while now, and rather than wait and wait while I come up with a scientific method, I thought I’d just do a few shots and post them here. Early and Often, right?

Each photos links to the Flickr version you can view it at various sizes. None of the photos have been retouched at all.

iPhone Test 01
Normal iPhone 4S photo with direct light.

iPhone Test 01 (HDR)
HDR iPhone 4S photo with direct light.

iPhone Test 02
Normal iPhone 4S photo with soft light.

iPhone Test 02 (HDR)
HDR iPhone 4S photo with soft light.

For each shot the iPhone was on a tripod, and an overheard light consisting of a single bulb was used. (It’s a large high wattage bulb from an old photostat machine.) For the soft light shots, I put an umbrella in front of the light. I used Apple’s default Camera app that comes on the iPhone. All were shot on the white sweep I use for all my tabletop stuff. (If you’ve seen my Flickr stream, you’ve seen plenty of shots on that sweep.)

iPhone Tripod Mount
Experimental iPhone Tripod Mount

This photo of my “Experimental iPhone Tripod Mount” was taken (handheld) with my Nikon D40. If you wanted to compare the two, the iPhone 4S is supposedly an 8 Megapixel camera, while the Nikon is a 6 Megapixel camera. Size isn’t everything of course. Well, the Nikon does have a bigger lens, so that helps quite a bit. The Nikon also shoots in RAW, and yes, this shot has been edited quite a bit, but hey, that’s what I do with RAW photos. (And I mainly took this shot to show the set-up I used.)

When I get ambitious again, I’ll set up two tripods, one with the iPhone, and one with the Nikon, and do duplicate shots of various objects. Until then, enjoy these… I’m off to work on my Experimental iPhone Tripod Mount Version 2.0