Free and Easy Way to Import a Client’s Photo List

While I wouldn’t call myself a photographer, I tend to have a photography gig every now and then. When dealing with a client regarding photography, I use Zenfolio.com. It’s a (relatively) simple set up that allows me to share photos with a client so that they can choose which photos I’ll process and eventually hand over to them. The first step is to upload a big batch of semi-uncorrected material. I use the word “semi” because any photographer knows you don’t share everything—we cull through the first batch before any other eyes ever see it, to weed out anything that is unnecessary (i.e. spray and prays, bad focus, forgotten lens cap…).

The next step is for a client to make selects. Zenfolio has an amazing feature where all you have to do as a client is hit the ‘f’ key and it will favorite the photo. Then you can send out the favorited list to the photographer (some clients still just write down the number for me…not as fluid, but still not so time consuming). The photographer then gets an email about the list, and we’re able to see what was selected.

Here’s where things get tricky. You could pay for a premium account on Zenfolio to get a list imported, which is a plugin that works with Lightroom. If you’re a photographer by trade, and this is how you make the bulk of your income, it’s probably a wise decision to go ahead and upgrade. I work primarily as a cinematographer/camera operator, so still photography isn’t where I put all of my funds. I have a basic account, so I had to get thrifty.

If you’re like me and you need to save a few dollars, there’s still a pretty easy way of taking a bulk list of client selects and getting them into a Smart Collection in your Lightroom library.

Step One: Download the files.

1 Favorite

2 Download_All

3 Download

It sounds counter intuitive. Download pictures that I already uploaded…Well, as far as I can tell, it’s still the easiest way to proceed. If you’re reading this and you have a simpler method of attaining all the file names, please let me know!

Step Two: Copy the list

4 Select All Copy

In Mac OS X, it’s very simple to get a filename list copied to plain text. Simply Command+a (Edit > Select All) the files in the unzipped folder from Zenfolio, then Command+c (Edit > Copy). Now paste into any text editor (Command+p). I use BBedit. This is where it might get a little tricky…

 

Step Three: Sort and Process the text

5 Paste List

Now we’ve got a big list of filenames! But, they have extensions and carriage returns which don’t play very well with this Lightroom work around. If you know grep or any other such search and replace tool, this should be a breeze. It’s really a simply process—we’re telling our computer to search for the carriage returns (next line) and the “.jpg” in the filename (known as the file extension), and replacing them with a space. If you’re adventurous enough to learn a simple find and replace technique, here is my (very very rudimentary) processes in BBedit.

6 Search and Replace

Hit command+f to bring up the Find dialog box in BBedit. Type “.jpg\r” in the find text field, and make sure to type one space in the replace field (for techies out there, the typical grep language for a space—”\s”—didn’t seem to work for me, but I haven’t done this in a long time).

7 Get all replace

Also note that with my find and replace above, there will be one last dangling file extension (as seen highlighted above) that I was able to quickly delete.

Now that we’ve got our file list fixed, select all and copy.

Step Four: Make a Smart Collection

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 7.31.19 PM

Open up Lightroom, and make a new smart collection. Make a new rule using “Filename,” and make sure the next drop down (parameters?) is set to “contains.” Simply paste the copied list of files (from the previous step) in to the next text field. And you should be good to go! Lightroom seems to allow spaces as an ‘or’ which allows this to work pretty well.

9 Start Editing

That’s it—Now start processing!

Cinemagraph Pro: The Easy Cinemagraph Tool

America_lowres2

As you can see above, I just rendered out my first Cinemagraph today! The application Cinemagraph Pro is now on sale for $15…a whopping 92.5% off from the usual $200! I had checked it out a couple of weeks ago, but thought the price was just way too high. For $15, I was definitely interested (maybe that’s just a brilliant marketing strategy? Either way, it worked on me!).

If you aren’t privy to what a cinemagraph is, it’s pretty easy to understand once you actually see one. Basically, it’s just a fancy term for a looping gif that has a static frame with a motion element. There are all sorts of ways to accomplish this unique look, but Cinemagraph Pro makes it really, really easy.

Here’s a look at the interface:

Cinemagraph Pro’s interface does’t have a lot of options, but if you’re just looking for something to do for fun, it’s nice and easy. Load up a movie file (preferably a shot that’s static and has a good motion element that can be isolated for looping), pick your in and out points for looping, then go to the mask area and start paint-brushing around the area you want motion in. It took me all of 2 minutes from booting the application for the first time, to setting up an export.

cinemagraph_mask

I was looking for anything to get started, and I found this shot from a couple of years ago of Keene’s Pumpkinfest (for the special ‘Pumpkin Wars’ on HGTV). It was extremely easy to isolate the flag and guy in front of it with the mask tool. For looping I chose ‘bounce’ because his movement patterns were going to look jarring as it jumped from the last frame back to the first frame. But the bounce option allows you to do that age-old video trick of looping something by playing it forward, then in reverse (see: that one awful Tusken Raider shot in Star Wars: A New Hope).

It also has some pretty decent effects built-in.

 

One thing I would mention is be wary of your export format and size. The first time I did this, I checked off Animated GIF, but left the size at “Full.” One 48MB GIF later, and I had learned my lesson. 1/4 size works perfect for Animated Gifs.

OtherViews_and

There’s not much more to write about…it’s a pretty straight-forward application, and really fun to use. Go forth and create more GIFs for Tumblr users to endlessly reblog!

Magic Lantern 5DMKIII Raw – 5 Tips + Samples

BNARO CinematographyFirst of all, I’ve been much more active on my Facebook page than my blog (some smaller posts don’t warrant writing a blog post over), so please visit and like the page: http://facebook.com/bryantnarocinematography

So the big deal these days is the Magic Lantern raw hack. It’s been around since May. I decided to wait it out a few months to hear feedback from people I knew that had tested it. It’s a pretty scary endeavor, but the only real side-effect is that the bootflag cannot be reset. What does that mean? Well, if you don’t know, you might want to do a lot more investigating in the Magic Lantern forums.

The bootflag is a work-around to direct the camera to use the Magic Lantern firmware, rather than Canon’s built-in firmware (which it defaults to if it doesn’t find the ML firmware on a card). It’s a redirection, whose modification isn’t really a big deal, except unlike most installs you can’t set it back (for now). There have also been some folks talking about battery life going quicker, and boot times being slower as a result to this alpha software. I’ll attest to the fact that the 5D does behave a little ‘funny’ these days, but the payoff is remarkable. Hopefully the firmware will become at least beta, and more stable soon.

So now that the doom and gloom is out of the way, on with the show!

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.29.00 AM

Five Things To Know

Here are 5 quick things to know about the raw hack that I seldom see any blog talk about:

1. Really understand the risks of using the Magic Lantern firmware (especially an alpha build!). Seriously. If you’re a photographer that can not live without your camera, just don’t do it. Yes, it’s very stable for an alpha, but you could risk losing the thing that makes you money, so unless you’ve got a backup, just wait.

2. Do not use Komputerbay cards unless you have more time and patience than money (to constantly return them when they fail).

3. Flickering Effect: There are still bugs to be worked out, and as such, sometimes messing with camera raw too much can give you a flickering effect (specifically for Adobe Camera Raw).

4. Rainbow Pixels: If you get strange artifacts (rainbow pixels, weird pixels, etc) it’s probably your card (and you probably didn’t listen to bullet point number two!). Your card is also most likely on its way out (R.I.P. your card). Here’s my post on the Magic Lantern forums showing Komputerbay card weirdness.

2KLTBRL
If you ever wanted a video-feed-breaking-up effect, invest heavily in Komputerbay cards…

 

5. Much like Doctor Who, raw video goes through a lot of space in a short amount of time. For me, at 1920×1038 (1.85:1 ratio) at 23.978fps, each .dng file comes in at 4MB. That’s just under 100MB a second! Not bit—Bytes! So, 32GB gets you about 7 minutes of raw video. This then needs to be copied to your hard drive (that takes time), then put into a CinemaDNG format by an application like RAWMagic (that takes more time), then converted to a video format for editing (this could be the most time consuming process of them all). If you’ve never worked with raw files before, you might be in for a reality check. To put that in perspective, the Sony FS100 records 1080P video at 28Mbps. The AVCHD compression gets me roughly 88 minutes to a 16GB card. With raw video on a 5D, I get 3 and a half minutes of video on the same size card (well, one is SDHC, and the other is CompactFlash, but you know what I mean).

In short: Be mindful of the true cost of raw.

Sample Video

Here’s a quick visual to show you what this hack is capable of (granted it’s a compressed image, but the video still shows the power of raw):

I’m blown away by the sharpness and quality of this raw footage. I tweaked white balance, fill, recovery, black level, hue, sat, and added sharpness via Adobe Camera Raw. So it’s not right out of camera, but I definitely didn’t stress over the color corrections (even though the image could be pushed really far). I took these samples very non-chantly while Meag and I ate our meals outside in downtown Keene, so it’s still not quite a stress test of the firmware. I did manage to hit an error after I filled the card—the LCD on the top handle was reading out as if I had space left on the card, until I rebooted (then it fixed itself to say “0”).

I’ve uploaded the ProRes422HQ file to get the best quality possible on Vimeo. Overkill? Yes! But it’s also one less step for me.

My workflow was as follows:
-Record 1920×1038 @ 23.978 (FPS override) to Lexar 32GB X1000
-Run files through RAWMagic
-Import to After Effects (command+i, direct to the first .dng file, tweak parameters in the camera raw module, import as sequence)
-Interpret footage from 30 to 23.978 (right click on file to see the option…I’m not sure why it default interprets as 30p)
-Render to ProRes422 HQ
-Import into Premiere, cut, export ProRes422HQ
-Upload

Here’s a Flickr set of before and after screenshots running the DNG files through adobe camera raw.

The screenshot only shows one tab, so you can’t see my hue/sat adjusts, and sharpening. I added anywhere from 25-50 sharpening. Apply all, click done, and you got yourself some DNGs ready for import!

[slickr-flickr search=sets set=”72157635844732674″ size=large]

Here’s my first test with the 128GB Komputerbay card (it died the following day):

Pixel artifacts must be from the extreme variance in speed (and inevitable death of the card). I may seem like I’m being really harsh on the company, but they were quite rude with me when I was insisting that the performance wasn’t as advertised.

You can find before and after photos of the color adjustments on my Facebook page.

Conclusion

It sure is nice having a raw video upgrade to my DSLR for free! In the end, you can’t complain with that price point (well, the 1000x card cost money, but that’s the only investment). Would I shoot anything professionally on this thing? Nope, and probably never. I’ve never used Magic Lantern raw in a professional setting, and I most likely never will. Don’t get me wrong, the Magic Lantern team did an amazing job building this thing, but they’re not the ones that have to do tech support if something goes wrong. So for now, professional projects will be created with professionally backed products (if my FS100 breaks, Sony better have a fix!).

But for personal projects, absolutely! I’ll keep it in my kit, and if there’s a day where I’ve got a perfect shot, but just need more latitude, I’ll prompt the client and let them know the risks, and how round about the workflow can be. If they’re still interested, and it’s not that important of a shot, I might go for it (maybe ‘never’ wasn’t the right word)!

In the meantime, I’ll keep experimenting. Having the ability to correct moving images like I can with raw camera files, without putting tens of thousands of dollars down on a higher end cinema camera…well that’s absolutely astounding. We all owe a big thank you to the Magic Lantern team!