Magic Lantern – for photographers and videographers.

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I have been using Magic Lantern since November, 2013. I own several 5D MKIII cameras and all of them are setup with Magic Lantern. If you want to shoot a full 1080HD video, the only DSLR camera you can use, at the time of this writing, is the Canon 5D MKIII. Other Canon cameras can record RAW video, but at a lesser resolution.

For me, RAW video is just about the only way to shoot. My video projects now match my imagery for color, saturation and treatment. Something I was never able to do before.

At the very bottom of this article are 4 examples of RAW video plus an example of “Normal” video vs. RAW video.

If you elect to shoot Magic Lantern RAW 1080 video, there are some caveats however.

BE SURE TO READ THE MAGIC LANTERN FORUMS AND UNDERSTAND THE ISSUES AND POTIENTIAL SEROIUS PROBLEMS YOU MIGHT EXPERIENCE.

The following is what made me not use Magic Lantern RAW for over a year. Something I have regretted ever since shooting my first RAW video project.

This link is a good place to start, but there is a LOT more to read on the forums:
http://www.magiclantern.fm/forum/index.php?topic=5520.0

1-If you are shooting 24fps at 1080p, you will need CF cards that are, at a minimum, 1066x speed UDMA 7. Anything slower and you will drop frames on a fairly regular basis. I use Komputerbay and Sandisk CF 128GB cards.

2-Magic Lantern is not perfect, meaning when you push the record button it may not always start. If this happens turn the camera off and remove the battery. Turn it back on and you will get a message that ‘you did not correctly power down the camera and no modules will be loaded.’ Turn off the camera again and turn it back back on and it will, normally, work. I do not like this, but it is part of the deal and I do like the results.

Pay CLOSE attention to the red record light. If you are NOT recording and this light stays on over 60-90 seconds, remove the battery immediately!!!!!  Otherwise you might fry your sensor/processor.

3-Be prepared to buy a lot of hard drives. 128GB will give you almost 26 minutes of recording time.

4-The process to convert the RAW video file into something you can use MAY take a long time. I now use Magic Lantern RAW Viewer. Google MlRawViewer_1_3_4 to find it and how to use it.

The advantage to MlRawViewer_1_3_4 is the ability to play the RAW video clip in real time and full screen. Additionally you can set the color balance, use one of several LUTs (Look Up Table) that will give you a “Treatment”, add contrast, saturation etc. You can also set in and out points and then you can output a 444 prores file. You can take this file and drop it into any timeline and start to edit.

OR, the long way, instead of creating 444 Prores files, you convert the clip into individual DNG files. If you shoot 24fps, you will have 24 individual DNG files for every second you shoot. Have a 10 second clip? That will make 240 individual DNG files. MlRawViewer_1_3_4 will put all of these files into a folder named based on the original clip’s name, as are the DNG files. I assign every project with a serial number, if you do this try to keep it short.

Then go to the folder that has the first clips DNG files and open them in Bridge. Open the first file DNG file and adjust it in Bridge or Lightroom and click “Done”. Then highlight all of the other files and choose “Previous Conversion.” This will apply all of your settings from the first file to the other files in this folder. Repeat this for all folders remaining.

Then I would suggest you create a Photoshop action to open every file in Photoshop and save these files as either a JPEG, TIFF or PSD file. If you do not need to do any additional work, you can import these JPEG, TIFF or PSD files into Premiere as an “Image Sequence”.

If I am shooting something in a controlled lighting environment, like an interview, I rarely shoot RAW. Just about everything else I’ll shoot RAW.

This is not for the faint of heart. But if you are all about the final result then it MIGHT be for you.

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Examples of RAW Video: Here, here, here and here.

This gives you an idea how powerful shooting RAW video is. Underneath the video is a full description. The last clip is RAW, look at the highlight and shadow details, the color, the sharpness vs. the other 2 clips.

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If you want to shoot in darkness and not have a lot of noise, go here. Also shot in RAW. Use full screen to be able to see the difference better.

Clare Bowen – Nashville

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Clare Bowen – Nashville

 Clare Bowen, actress and singer – Star of “Nashville” TV show.S-2588-2785-Copyright-SteveThornton

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Clare Bowen – Nashville

On October 19th, 2014 there was a knock on my hotel room door. I was staying at the Hermitage Hotel, in downtown Nashville, across the street from the Great State of Tennessee’s capitol building. I got up, opened the door and there was a slim and very attractive young woman. As we shook hands she said that she was Clare Bowen (A star of the TV show “Nashville”) and thanked me “for doing this” (the photo shoot for “Cowgirl Magazine”.) I replied that I was delighted that she was here and proceeded to show her my producer’s hotel room where the festivities would start.

Clare’s make up and hair styling crew were waiting to begin the light work that Clare needed. I say “Light Work” because she look pretty good to me as she was standing barefoot in the hotel hallway. While Clare was being attended to by her wonderful crew, my wardrobe stylist then looked at both what Clare brought plus what “Cowgirl Magazine” had sent and put together ideas of what went with what. It was ultimately up to what Clare wanted to wear and we went with her decisions. The reality is Clare could have closed her eyes and no matter where she pointed, that look would have been just fine. Clare has good taste in clothes and the magazine sent some truly stunning wardrobe too.


The running horse shot above was shot with a 400mm f2.8 IS Canon lens set at f4 shot with a Canon camera set at 1/200 second shutter speed and 640 ISO all mounted onto a Sachtler fluid head using Gitzo carbon fiber sticks.
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After my crew was in the lobby with all of the gear, I went there and showed them what I wanted lighting wise and then went back upstairs to Vicki’s room because she called me to let me know I could look at the hair and makeup to be sure it was what I was looking for, which it was. The first image we shot was at the grand piano. I elected to shoot this first due to a wedding being conducted in a room just past the piano. I had about 25 minutes to set up, adjust, modify the light and shoot before the wedding guests were to start arriving. So everyone had to get the hitch out of their get-along… and we did just that.

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Clare Bowen – Nashville


The next look was on a dark green couch in the lobby. I had my assisting crew move the couch about 2 feet (0.6 meters) away from the wall to provide some visual separation between the couch and the wall. This also allowed better control of the light fall off from the overhead light source. Even with my using a grid, the ability to control this extra scattered light is helpful.S-2588-2038-F8-Copyright_SteveThornton

This shows the light setup for the shot. That is a FourSquare 30×30 softbox with a Lightools 40° grid. It is up high to not have all the light concentrated in just one spot. The light is from a Lumedyne battery powered strobe system. The power was set at 100 watt seconds. I am using a 24-70mm f2.8 Canon zoom lens set at f8 and 27mm, the Canon camera was set at 320 ISO and 1/30 second shutter speed. Someone commented to me that I did not need all of this extra light. I explained that being able to control the light it gives me the ability to shape the look of the image.S-2588-1951-Copyright_SteveThornton

This is another look of this setup.
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He then questioned just how powerful the strobe light really was. I looked and I had one frame where the strobe did not fire. I showed him the image and he then understood, see below. As you can see the strobe is almost 100% of the light in the general scene and 100% on the main part of the image. We call this technique “Overpowering the ambient light.” Meaning the strobe is much brighter than the existing light.

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We then shot another look on the mezzanine, next to where Minnesota Fats, who lived in the hotel for years, had his pool table set up while he plied his trade. After this shot we went to lunch followed by a short drive to where Clare had her horse boarded to finish the day’s shoot. This is the only look we shot that the magazine did not run, it happens, I only get so many pages and I think they exceeded what they originally told me… so zero complaints from me about this. S-2588-2209-Copyright_SteveThornton

S-2588-2117-Copyright_SteveThorntonThis shows how the above image was shot. Camera/lens info: Shutter speed was 1/8 second, f5.6, 320 ISO using a 24-70mm Canon lens at 24mm. The primary light is from the FourSquare 30×30 softbox and the light from the Lumedyne head bounced into the Tota-Flector adds a crispness to the light on Clare’s face. The Sunbounce is to prevent the mirror reflecting light onto the set from it. Both Lumedyne packs are set to 100 ws.COWGIRL_JAN_FEB15_012-017_TOC4-page-1

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S-2588-2629-F8-Copyright_SteveThorntonS-2588-2649-F16-wide-Copyright_SteveThorntonMy great styling crew on this project:
Producer and wardrobe stylist – Vicki Perry
Makeup – Sandy Koepper
Hair – Janice Kinigopoulos
Senior wardrobe assistant: Kara-Lisa Freeman

My photo assistants: Sheretta Armstrong and Cody Stallings – Cody is the photographer taking the BTS (Behind The Scenes) images.  All interior locations are courtesy of The Hermitage Hotel, Nashville, TN

A note about the copyright mark on Clare’s photos. I place them there for 2 reasons. First is to protect Clare on anyone stealing the image and using it to cause her harm.

Second is to protect me from anyone stealing the photo and using the photo without having a license from me allowing them to use it. I know they are a distraction, but varmints are everywhere.


If you would like to use this image, or any of my images for mock or comp use, please just ask. There is never a charge for this service. Any educational use is permitted without charge, unless published, but please ask first. All commercial use is available only with a limited copyright release prior to use from the copyright holder, Steve Thornton.

Thanks for looking!

 

Fast paced editorial fashion and beauty video shot just outside Milan, Italy

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This fashion editorial project is a mix of video & stills shot on an abandoned farm just outside of Milan, Italy.

http://www.stevethornton.com/video/S-2400-Samara/index-3.html

The normal challenge of any mixed media project is get enough still images to choose from & then have enough time to also shoot video. The “Problem” with creating the still images is, I am creating a slice of life at 1/1000 of one second. So eyes can be shut, the mouth could look strange, the hands may not look pretty, the feet might be in transition etc.

On this “look” I shot a total of 110 images plus 5 video clips having a total of 1 minute 5 seconds run time. Some of the video was shot with the camera on a tripod, the others were shot using a Steadicam. Including the occasional pauses for hair and makeup corrections or the wardrobe stylist making adjustments, the total time on set, shooting stills & video, was 15 minutes. If you have ever been on a shoot where a Steadicam is being used, you know there is a fair amount of time “Trimming and re-trimming” the apparatus, even a mild breeze causes issues and now you have a situation where not just the talent is moving but also the photographer is moving.

In this case Samara relates, projects to the camera and moves so well it was easy because there were so many great images to choose from, and I knew this just by watching her work through my cameras. A lot of clients just do not get why a model is so important, they think they just need a pretty person (male or female) and that is it. Even within professional models there are exceptional models next to average models, just like lawyers, hairstylists, doctors and photographers. When I get a great model to work with, I spend less time on each look allowing the client to get a lot of great images to choose from as well as getting a lot of production in a day, or allowing my team and me develop an idea and not to be concerned if we “Got the Shot”.

If I had an “average” professional model, I may have had to shoot for an hour, or more, and still not get what I did with Samara in 15 minutes. This is the difference.


If you would like to use this image, or any of my images for mock or comp use, please just ask. There is never a charge for this service. Any educational use is permitted without charge, unless published, but please ask first. All commercial use is available only with a limited copyright release prior to use from the copyright holder, Steve Thornton. Thanks for looking!

Editorial Fashion Shoot on an Old Italian Farm

This fashion image was shot just outside of Milan, Italy. It is the second look of 6 looks we shot here. The location is an abandoned farm house that is falling apart. I was very careful where I had the model in this building. The opening in the wall behind her had already started to collapse. You can see some of the bricks behind the model that have fallen. I looked hard at the wooden support beams above where we are for any sign of rotting. From my B&B in Milan to this location is about a 20-30 minute drive and is very close to Milan’s Linate Airport.

We were driving to Linate when Emiliano, my lead assistant in Europe, mentioned that he saw the roof of an old building. So I quickly forgot about going to the airport and went & scouted. The gate was locked but there was not a “Private Property’ sign so we tromped around for a good 15 minutes. On our way back to the car I noticed an older gentleman on a bicycle waiting for us. He ask what were doing and we said we liked the location & wanted to know if we could get permission to shoot here. He told us that there was a woman that came by everyday to feed “her” cats & pigeons, normally around 3:30 to 4:00 pm (15:30 – 16:00). Of course I’m thinking that if she does not feed the cats there will not be very many pigeons left, in fact even with her feeding the cats, I saw the remains of a pigeon. So we thanked him then parted to go to Linate.

A few days later we had time to go & visit the farm & we met the woman there. She was very kind, gracious and granted us permission to shoot there whenever we wanted. She went on to say that parts of the buildings were dangerous so we should be very careful. Her late uncle was the owner and she remembers visiting there many times while she was growing up. She pointed to the remains of a door and told us that her uncle would project movies at night. She went on to say that her uncle loved America and that is why the farm was named “Acquabella Farm”. “Farm” is not an Italian word, fattoria is a word for farm in Italian. See the image below. The “House” part of the farm is still intact and, with a weeks worth of cleaning, would be liveable again.

From when the model showed up at my B&B to start makeup and hair styling to when we were finished shooting and ready to leave took 5.5 hours total. The initial makeup and hair styling took 2 hours, it took about 30 minutes to drive here meaning we shot 6 looks and packed all of our gear in 3 hours. Pretty fast considering, but shows what can be done with the right crew and a great location to work.

Go here to look at a 30 second behind the scenes video.

Go here to look at a before & after image.

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If you would like to use this image, or any of my images for mock or comp use, please just ask. There is never a charge for this service. Any educational use is permitted without charge, unless published, but please ask first. All commercial use is available only with a limited copyright release prior to use from the copyright holder, Steve Thornton. Thanks for looking!

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Shoot & Camera data: Canon 5D MKIII set at 320 ISO, 1/125 second shutter speed with a Canon 85mm f1.8 lens attached set to f8. The only extra photography gear is a Sunbounce Pro sized reflector using a zebra fabric positioned well behind me, about 30′ to 35′ (9 -11 meters) from the model. The reflector is providing just a small POP to the light.

Beauty in the Woods

This image was shot near Wolcott, Colorado. I had scouted for this project for a couple of days on a ranch to find several locations that were close enough to allow fast changes in backgrounds by packing up the 4 wheel drive & driving a short distance. I also noted the best times of day to shoot and arranged the shoot accordingly. Click on image to enlarge.

Gear: Canon 5D MKIII – 160 ISO – 1/160 second – with a Canon 85mm f1.8 lens set at f3.2 hand held. In addition there was a California Sunbounce “Sun Swatter” (Silk) held overhead to soften the light.


If you would like to use this image, or any of my images for mock or comp use, please just ask. There is never a charge for this service. Any educational use is permitted without charge, unless published, but please ask first. All commercial use is available only with a limited copyright release prior to use from the copyright holder, Steve Thornton. Thanks for looking!

Fashion

Milan, Italy – This fashion image of Sina was shot in front of an old villa in Milan. Within a few weeks the owners were restoring it & it was surrounded by scaffolding. Sina is a favorite model of mine, fun to be with, quick wit, knows how to move and project.


If you would like to use this image, or any of my images for mock or comp use, please just ask. There is never a charge for this service. Any educational use is permitted without charge, unless published, but please ask first. All commercial use is available only with a limited copyright release prior to use from the copyright holder, Steve Thornton. Thanks for looking!

Beauty


This image is from a series of images that were taken inside a Milan, Italy private home. This was part of one the oldest homes in Milan, built in the 1500’s. It is illuminated with natural daylight with a Sunbounce reflector off to your left.


If you would like to use this image, or any of my images for mock or comp use, please just ask. There is never a charge for this service. Any educational use is permitted without charge, unless published, but please ask first. All commercial use is available only with a limited copyright release prior to use from the copyright holder, Steve Thornton. Thanks for looking!

Lingerie Beauty

Miami Beach 1930’s Deco hotel room – This was shot in color and converted to B&W using a technique I developed to allow me to have more control over the conversion process. This allows me to change tones depending on what I want vs. Photoshop deciding this for me by using a “One Size Fits All” formula. I asked the Hair-M/U person for a no make up look and simple hair.


If you would like to use this image, or any of my images for mock or comp use, please just ask. There is never a charge for this service. Any educational use is permitted without charge, unless published, but please ask first. All commercial use is available only with a limited copyright release prior to use from the copyright holder, Steve Thornton. Thanks for looking!