In December of 2018 we did a couple of days on the West Coast Wilderness Trail (read about that here). A fab trip. Definitely heading back for more.
As you’d expect on New Zealand’s West Coast, the Trail has some beautiful bush, forest and wildlife. On our first day we came across a couple of Wood Pigeons engaged is some courtship behaviour. They seemed quite oblivious to their audience, but we didn’t hang around too long.
There was a bit of swooping around which, from what I’ve read, seems characteristic but also some rapid beak movement as seen in the video. This is well documented courtship behaviour for pigeons in general, but I couldn’t find anything specific to Kereru on the www (if you know of any material on the topic, drop me a line and I’ll reference it here).
Some technical details on the video
The footage was shot on a Panasonic G85 at 4k 30p with the 12-60mm 3.5-5.6 G Lumix Vario lens at 60mm focal length (which equates to 120mm on a 35mm camera).
I was happy to get the footage, but the quality is not great. First off it was quite wobbly. I actually love this camera-lens combo for travel and get some good results; crispy stills & video, good colour. It’s super light and compact, weather sealed and the dual (body + lens) stabilisation means you can get pretty good video hand held in a lot of scenarios.
However, on this occasion I wasn’t doing a great job of holding things steady. I jumped off the bike, grabbed the camera and started shooting and kind of watching at the same time. The in-camera stabilisation takes the jitter out, but if you’re swaying around like a drunk, there’s only so much it can do. Bit of a trick holding a steady shot at that focal length too. Tripod or monopod would have been the thing. Managed some improvement in post with FCPX stabilisation (and see update note below on improved stabilisation).
The other issue was shooting against bright cloud which is generally challenging but I’ve subsequently concluded that my lens protector wasn’t in the best condition (replaced since) which might account for some of the haziness but there’s some fringing going on at high contrast boundaries which is probably a lens thing. Shots like this also test the camera’s sensor & dynamic range.
The lens is not premium glass but it’s not rubbish either. At full zoom image quality is often not the best, but it’s capable of producing some amazingly clean images and footage in more favourable conditions.
Things are also a bit overexposed. The aperture was fully stopped down at f22, shutter set at 1/60th for 180 degrees shutter angle. If I’d had my wits about me I could have bumped the shutter speed up a bit. Had a dodgy ND filter (replaced since), but no time to fiddle around with that. A good thing – it would have made matters worse.
After some work in post it’s watchable, it could be worse and the engaging subject matter is what counts.
October 2019 update: Improved stabilisation
I created a new improved version of the video which is shown above (original now unlisted here: https://youtu.be/3hvZGkYJtZM) using a stabilisation plugin for FCPX from Pixel Film Studios – Stabilizer 2.0.
I’m pretty impressed with this plugin which I actually bought with another video in mind. While editing this video first time around I recall wishing that FCPX had a stabilisation option that could lock onto an object to use as a fixed reference point in the stabilisation process- and that’s exactly what the PFS plugin does.
It’s not perfect – if you look closely there’s a bit of movement (maybe distortion) visible now and then. But some of that will likely be down to a bit of rolling shutter.
Pretty sure the plugin is doing a transform type keyframe on every frame of the video so as you might imagine, it’s pretty resource intensive.
Final Cut Pro X’s SmoothCam did a pretty good job but can’t eliminate the movement altogether and pushing it further than I did (translation smooth 4.5, rotation smooth 4.5) introduces that jelly distortion effect.
The footage was evidently too wobbly for FCPX to do its ‘Tripod’ stabilisation as that option wasn’t available. I’ve found Tripod option generally works well when available, but on some shots can also do the crazy jelly thing.
A quick video comparing FCPX stabilisation with the PFS plugin: