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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mt. Everest Photographed at the Highest Resolution

This is an amazing picture of the Khumbu glacier and Mt. Everest that someone shared with me; zoom near the area I have marked below to see the base came and also to get a sense of the grandeur.  Someone told me that David Breashears compiled this from some 400 photographs!

My collegue forwarded this link to a friend who helped spot a few climbers (see image below). There are many climbers to the left of the arrow and the top arrow is Camp 4!

If you are like me and don't know which is the summit then refer this image
Explore the entire site - there are amazing pictures.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Patch settings that I use on my GH13

After my last post on how I could sharpen my videos from GH13 I grew greedy and wanted more mega bits :) So I searched around for better patch settings and came up with the following. Until now I was using "LPowell - 100Mbps Max Latitude Native 24-25p Standard Patch v2". (By the way, great work Vitality - thanks a bunch!) Now, with my own settings I seem to get quite good videos - AVCHD videos have a maximum overall bit rate of about 120 Mbps and about 40 Mbps on an average; audio is at 192 Kbps which can be increased further. The MPEG videos are roughly around 70 Mbps and the audio is at 512 Kbps!
Here are my settings - do give it a try and let me know what you think. Especially if you have StreamParser* installed do let me know if the video is cleaner, sharper, better etc:

Comment=Based on GOP3, LPowell, PappaArts and Blackout
Camera=GH1 v1.32
Version increment=10
Prevent version compare=Checked
New body=Checked
Third-party battery=Checked
All Interface Languages=Checked
30min limit removal=Checked
Maximum ISO limit removal=Checked
PAL<->NTSC Menu=Checked
480p30 width=960
480p30 height=720
720p30 420->422 color sampling=Checked
E1 Quality=384
E1 Table=6
E2 Quality=330
E2 Table=12
E3 Quality=300
E3 Table=24
E4 Quality=276
E4 Table=48
F1 Quality=150
F1 Table=86
F2 Quality=130
F2 Table=56
F3 Quality=115
F3 Table=26
F4 Quality=100
F4 Table=4
Native 24p/25p=Checked
Video Bitrate FHD/SH=120000000
Video Bitrate H=50000000
Video Bitrate L=42000000
Overall Bitrate=120000000
720p50 GOP Size=5
720p60 GOP Size=5
1080p25 GOP Size=3
1080p24 GOP Size=3
Preset bitrate=530
Preset bitrate 2=1060
Overall Bitrate 2=120000000
Constant for 1080p=9720000
Constant for 720p=864000
Constant 6000=4500
Framerate related comparison=24
Video buffer=50.000.000
Audio buffer=8.500.000
For more info on the hack visit: or
For more info on StreamParser visit:

* To quote Vitality from one of his blog posts: StreamParser by Chris Brandin as help tool to analyse AVCHD streams -
Other good idea is also use trial version of Elecard StremEye -

Monday, November 26, 2012

Post processing your video footage

Here is the updated blog after I initially blogged about this last week

I have always used iMovie HD and Garrage Band in the good old days but then with latest iLife I feel like having an arm broken because am yet to figure out how to effectively use Garage Band to mux my audio score.
Anyways... iMovie does not allow you to sharpen or pull the colors from your raw footage - you just have to  arrange your video sequences and create your collage!
So I was searching for ways to color grade and push the sharpness of my footage form my Panasonic GH13 (without having to use FCP or some high-end tools) and found this link. Quite interesting!

So the other night I started to follow the instructions but the results were not quite sharp. I was initially disappointed but then I tried to extract TIFF images out of my raw footage and wow I was able to get superb results. I am going crazy now extracting and editing all my old MTS files :)

Here are the steps I followed and at the bottom you can see links to the videos - a footage straight from my GH13 (with smooth -2,-2,-2 settings) and the "edited" footage.

1) Here is how I extracted tiff images from the video file:
ffmpeg.exe  -i 00007.mts  -preset libx264-lossless_slow.ffpreset -r 23.976 -s 3072x1728 -f image2 foo-%04d.tiff
Note: In some cases I could see some artifacts when I used the above command line so I started to use the one below instead (of course the size is now same as what your camera would record at):
ffmpeg.exe  -i 00007.mts  -preset libx264-lossless_slow.ffpreset -r 23.976 -sameq -f image2 foo-%04d.jpg
Yes, it is straight JPEG export! So I skipped the next step.
2) Then I used PhotoFunStudio which came with my camera and converted the tiff to jpeg
3) Then as per the steps in FourSeasonsHD I used Exifer to rewrite the exif info on the converted jpegs (using the same exif data provided in FourSeasonsHD)
4) Then I used SilkyPix which again came with my camera to edit (as per the steps in FourSeasonsHD). I was able to tweak pretty much everything. I still have to figure out how to create the gritty look etc... some day I will...

5) Then I extracted audio:
ffmpeg.exe  -i 00007.mts  -acodec copy -vn audio.ac3

6) Then finally I mux-ed with the original audio to create the "edited"  video:
ffmpeg.exe  -r 23.976  -f image2 -i foo-%04d.jpg -i audio.ac3 -vcodec libx264  -s 1920x820 -acodec copy videoaudio.mp4
Note: I had used -s 1920x816 earlier but looks like 1920x820 is the right aspect ratio. 
And now ...ta is the original video ...

and here is the edited video...

Amazing - isn't it! What do you guys think? Have you used any similar workflow?

PS: If you are into editing with ffmpeg then check out:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Learn from the masters - Pixar and Mani Ratinam

I had been thinking about the idea of forming a core team for my film making adventures. While I could not assert that with strong proof, I could strongly feel that it is the way to go. However fast forward a few years and here I am reading two very different articles - one on Pixar and the other on Mani Ratinam - both vouching for the same. So guys start forming your core teams; after all movie making is a collaborative task!

Jonah Lehrer in his book "Imagine" discusses the the issues that Pixar faced during the making of Toy Story 2.  But here is where we find the stuff we want to learn. Pixar takes its stories very seriously, in fact, it often takes the studio longer to develop the narrative than to animate the movie. See story is the king - don't let it get compensated. Ok no more of my interruptions; here is how to collaborate. The process begins when the Pixar brain trust - a group composed of John Lasseter, Ed Catmull, and eight directors - hashes out the initial plot, often while sitting at a burger joint down the street. That sketch of a story is then turned into a treatment, a two-page document outlining the basic arc of the movie. Several drafts and plenty of critic sessions later, the treatment is handed over to a screenwriter. Pixar brings in outside talent to write the scripts. It's one of the many ways they inject fresh voices into the process. Well thats what Jonah says in his book but I think writing the screen play is the most daunting task and so they bring outside talent to do this. They then revise the script again and again.Scenes are cut; scenes are added. New characters emerge to fill
narrative holes. After a year of edits, the script is turned into story reel, an elaborate sequence of storyboards.
So that was the scoop on Pixar. And definitely there are quite a lot of goodies there. Now for something from the other side of the world. Again with tips and ideas on how to forge ahead and collaborate. Check this out: ‘Of course Velu Nayakan doesn’t dance’

So what do you think about forming a core team? Have you been doing this even though you were not calling it a core team?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

GoPro Hero3 is Finally Available!

If you have been following this you might know how really good this is! Looks like a real nice, cheap alternative to us indi film-makers...
Check out:

See what this camera can do:

Here are some of the things I liked about Hero3:
  • The camera itself can record at 4K!
  • With Protune you can encodes in H264 and at 24p
  • Protune lets you encode at about 45Mbps on the Hero3
GoPro offers the CineForm Studio editing software for free. They also offer GoPro iPhone app for free and with that you can see and control what your camera sees. Interesting:

But be warned that the visual creativity is seriously limited as the camera has auto ISO, auto f-stop and auto shutter controls!

But hey at $400 MSRP one can afford to let these take a back seat especialy if you want this to be your second camera that you can rig to the top/underside of your trucks and still want the footage to match with your main camera's!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pi in the sky

I have seen airplanes flying with slogans, but this one is different; this is art. Like graffiti on the side walls Ishky has sprayed numbers on the sky - whith the help of 5 planes. Are these numbers ranom? No - these are the first 1000 digits of the value of 22/7 (pi).

Did you see this too?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Endeavour Flyover - End of an Era!

On 21st Sep the space shuttle Endeavour was handed off to the California Science Center in LA. On its way to LA (from Kennedy Space Center in Florida) it flew over various cities and landmarks. It even flew over NASA's Moffett field airstrip. I was there; but I was disappointed as I couldn't get a good picture of the space shuttle perched atop the modified 747 but I did speak to a few astronauts and scientists there. I will post those exclusive interviews/talks :) soon. Until then here is a picture that I clicked at Moffett field.

Endeavour replaced Challenger, which exploded in 1986, killing seven astronauts. There won't be any more of these space shuttles. But there will be a new beginning!

Someone forwarded this nice video to me. Check it out:
Here is something similar from LA Times:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How to shoot a scene?

Have you wondered where the camera should be placed, what lens to use, what camera motion to add etc to effectively shoot a particular scene? Here is a book that talks about these: Master Scenes by Christopher Kenworthy (

I would like to keep a copy of this book on my reference book shelf. I think it will definitely get you thinking in the right direction.
What do you guys think? How is this book?

By the way I have no material connection with the books or authors or the publishers or brand or services I have mentioned here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Some info on financing your movie

Guys - check out

Quite a lot of info here...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tools for career skills

The other day I was browsing the web and landed on There is a toolkit tab on the top menu and if you click that you will see various topics on the left. These are interesting topics - at least to me. Have to read in detail to see what they say. They also have an iPhone app. As I browse through these I get a feeling that these could serve as a good intro to each topic and one has to dive deep based on individual's interest.
Again I am in now way connected to Mind Tools and their products.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


A while ago I had mentioned about a book on social media ( Now I found another book on the same topic but with a slightly different angle - Michael Hyatt's Platform. Very nice book especially if you are trying to market your movie.

By the way I have no material connection with the books or authors or the publishers or brand or services I have mentioned here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Findng Kumari Kandam

Check out:
Quite interesting. Besides  see History channel on it!
How old are the vedas? Are these as old as the Ice Age?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It pays to innovate!

Do you know about ? Looks like the tough problems that were unsolvable by large corporation and others get posted here. Thanks to Jonah Lehrer's latest Book Imagine that pointed me to this website.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Secret of knowing where you are is knowing what time it is

Do you know that GPS units pinpoint your location by merely finding out what time it is at that location - just like 300 years ago?
Of course now we use those 24 satellites that are 10,000 miles overhead!

Source: NOVA's video Lost at sea

Thursday, August 9, 2012

If you were to write a story on a social issue...

Seems like all film festivals are interested in a plot that explores social issues of our times. If you were asked/forced to write a story on a social issue what would you write on? This is exactly what I was faced with. So I decided to put together a list of topics to spin my plot around.

Here is the definition: A social issue is any controversial issue/problem/topic that affects the members of a society.
  • Poverty
  • Unemployment
  • Crime Rates
  • Low Mortality Rates
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse
  • Underage Drinking
  • Social Discrimination
  • Xenophobia, racism, extremism
  • Teen Pregnancy
  • Sexism
  • Pollution
  • Gay marriage
  • Censorship
  • Gun control
  • Financial/ Economic Policies (Banking, Housing loans, Stocks)
  • Living standards and social security
  • Health care
  • Corruption, party cronyism and nepotism in public life
  • Politics, quality of democracy
  • Ethnic problems
  • Education
  • Housing
  • Judiciary, rule of law
  • Transportation and basic infrastructure
  • Environment
  • Regional and local problems
  • Public administration, bureaucracy
  • Foreign policy
  • Immigration, Smuggling people/border crossing
  • Culture
  • Issues of the elderly population
  • Issues of the disabled population
  • Issues of the diseased population
Wikipedia has a whole lot more.

What do you think? Is this of any use?

Can you predict if you will have an insight?

It seems that it is possible to predict if you will have an insight and solve a difficult problem that has been bothering you! And it also seems that you will have such insights only when you are relaxed - like daydreaming or when you lay awake in your bed or when you take a warm bath.
So if you are stuck with your plot or script, don't swear it - just relax, take a walk or jump on your couch. You will have an insight.
Read "Imagine: How creativity works" the latest book by Jonah Lehrer - it is amazing!
Here is something on insights:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Color for cinematographers

I landed on this interesting article while searching for something:
I had always wanted to come up with my scheme to convey emotions using cinematography alone. This article seems to be ingratiating very alley.

Do you guys have anything more to add?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Transit of Venus

I watched it through a welder's glass. It was cool. This event is just like a solar eclipse but instead of moon getting in-between earth and sun it is Venus. Looks like the next transit will be in 2117 - so I can now put a big check mark on once in a lifetime event!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Can blind use iPhone and take pictures?

I am totally blown away by this obsession for accessibility. Steve would have been proud. Go Apple - you rock!

Friday, May 18, 2012

What is visually appealing?

By now most of you would have read about Steve Job's biography by Walter Isaacson. I was intrigued by the incident when Steve pushes to have rounded rectangle. Now the question is how come he was able to observe that there were rounded rectangles everywhere! I look around now and see traffic signs with rounded corners but none beyond! Hmmm no wonder he really dented the future! Check out

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Graphics and Animation with Blender

Have you used 3D modeling software? I have been wanting to do that ever since I saw movies like Matrix and Star wars. I recently saw this article and now I really want to check out Blender.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Words of wisdom from Steve Job's father figure

Here is something from Steve Job's biography by Walter Isaacson. Checkout
for some discussion on this.

Markkula wrote his principles in a one-page paper titled “The Apple Marketing Philosophy” that stressed three points. The first was empathy, an intimate connection with the feelings of the customer: “We will truly understand their needs better than any other company.” The second was focus: “In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.” The third and equally important principle, awkwardly named, was impute. It emphasized that people form an opinion about a company or product based on the signals that it conveys. “People DO judge a book by its cover,” he wrote. “We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.

Simply superb!

By the way here is a nice blog on more or less teh same topic:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Super Moon Saturday - May 6th 2012

Do you want to photograph the moon? This Saturday might be the right time for just that.
Checkout sites like or to find out the moon rising and moon setting times. Checkout simple photography tips at sites like and get great pictures.

Film making grants from SFFS

I learnt about this very recently as one of my alma mater's alumni got the grant. Check out

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book review. Hmmm... Book mention!

When looking through the new books I saw "101 Social media tactics for nonprofits - a field guide" by Melanie Mathos and Chad Norman. This book is a real treasure trove if you want to harness the power of social media. From whatever little I browsed through I seem to like this book. Will post more on this later. (

How to be a wedding photographer?

Recently one of my friends was planning to cover a wedding and was looking for all the major events to shoot. He stumbled on
Explore the site further under the "learn" pull-down. There are lots of tips.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nikon D800

Monday, April 9, 2012


Here's me slippping in a technical/programming blog after a long while.
Of late I have been working on designing a really user friendly framework to invoke services while using OAut2.0. While I was at it I was introduced to this really nice tool. Check out Curlish - it shows the OAuth 2.0 dance in action; pretty neat!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Conflict and Struggle

I haven't blogged in a while. Didn't get a chance to go see Cinequest; looks like the Tamil movie Ko will be shown.
Anyways, I read this a while ago "Struggle is as important to the character as conflict is to the plot". Hmmmm pretty deep ah?

Monday, January 16, 2012

MI4 Sucks Big Time

I don't want this site to turn into a movie critique bs. However as almost all of my friends scorned when I asked them about MI4 I decided to experience it myself. I thought only MI3 had something of a plot in it. Anyways I watched MI4 in theater and it became clear why my friends hate it - there is no plot whatsoever. Even a college kid who has taken a screenwriting class could have done a better job. On top, all the reviews I find online give a totally wrong picture (they say MI4 is awesome) or is this just the power of Hollywood marketing at its best? The only review that echoes my feeling is this
In fact Anne has not gone to the extent of pointing out all inconsistencies in the plot.
There are items that don't work as expected all through the movie and there are a whole bunch of those; once is ok may be twice is okay too but beyond that you start shifting in your chair. (The phone failing to self-destruct may be funny and you can accept it as a nice twist when Tom fails to clear the jump and gets his head bumped on the tower in Dubai but what is the deal with abort button failing in the end? Why did the suction glove fail for no reason and then get stuck to the window pane a floor or two above after Tom threw it off?) can the writer not introduce better conflicts? Why give away the real codes - the argument given is not strong enough.
Why is it needed to get the code from Anil if it is not going to be used at all? If the villain has the controls in his briefcase then why did he break in into the TV station after flying all the way from Dubai? By the way what became of all those baggages they brought to Mumbai? Why kill the wife and bring her back alive that too in resolution - is that to show the emotional dimension of Ethan? Really I don't see the need for the third act!
Having said all these I must admit that the visual effects were really good.
And yeah the starting credits suck big time - I hatted it! Plain black background might have worked much much better.