fxpodcast #332: Can Computational Photography be Cinematic?

Stu Maschwitz is Chief Creative Officer at Maxon and is extremely well known to independent filmmakers and visual effects artists alike. Stu is a long-time friend of fxguide and contributor to various courses over at fxphd.com, our sister site. This episode is part of our continuing ‘conversations’ fxpodcasts, where we chat about the various techniques and approaches that are shaping our craft. In this episode, we sat down with Stu to discuss computational photography – a topic that has come into sharp relief with the new iPhone 13 Pro.

As you will hear in the podcast, Stu has been testing the iPhone13. Below are some of the images he discusses in the story. Mike has separately done his own tests and those tests are in our fxguide story you can see here. If you are an fxinsider member, watch out for a bonus material email newsletter which provides and some really cool tricks which further expand what you can do with the footage, especially the cinematic footage.

Here is the family cinematic test that Stu refers to:

Below is the look at green screen channels of the standard HEVC vs. ProRes

Here is a comparison of detail between the HEVC and ProRes. This illustrates Stu’s point about the level of additional computational photography treatment being less in ProRes. Not only does the truck appear less saturated, but there is less sharpening and thus a cleaner signal in ProRes.


fxguide test shoot

In  Mike’s fxguide story we show a series of videos that demonstrate the Cinematic mode and their depth maps, stabilization, and, in particular, the high-frequency detail differences in compression.

This is presented as an HDR Youtube clip so you can see the HDR benefits if viewed on an HDR monitor, such as a new iPhone or similar HDR screen. This is particularly relevant as the iPhone 13 Pro Max has a 1000 nits / 1200 nit peaks screen, but even on a 500nit HDR screen, the imagery is stunningly bright and vivid.

fxphd fun

By the way, in the podcast, we refer to Stu shooting with fxphd.com in New Zealand. Here is a clip of Stu hanging out of the fxphd helicopter at an insanely low height while flying up a river – sideways – shot in the south island of New Zealand (Raw clip – no sound).

(More fxphd fun)

Here is Mike on the same fxphd.com New Zealand shoot – both clips shot by John Montgomery (again no audio).



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