Phantom 2 Vision Plus

Update on DJI Phantom 2 Vision plus.

Its been almost a month now and I have been flying the Phantom 2 vision plus  for just under 30 days. I have used it is 3 weddings now and I can only say it truly adds a new demotion to our productions here. We are all use to seeing great cinematic video clips from above in every tv show and movie and now we can truly offer that look and feel to our clients. Whats the problem then? its the camera. If you looking in to getting in to filming from the sky in any kind of professional way then this camera will not cut it. its has to be some of the worst HD quality bit rate and compression I have seen. The iPhone looks 150 times better then this camera and thats kind of sad. I will be returning this in 2 days to upgrade in to the new Gopro Hero 4 version of the Phantom. The new go pro hero 4 is looking like it packs a big punch in HD and 4k (UHD)

If you really want to get in to this professionally then simply go right in to the go pro version just under $3,000. Im sure it will be worth the investment. Soon as I get some new footage from that in a few weeks I’ll post up some clips for you to compare with these other clips below.

A big thank you to my past few clients for letting me play with this new gear and test everything out on the job. My clients are truly the best!

Jon Santos



This is my first impression of the Phantom 2 vision plus. I spent a few days now flying it around town testing out the camera. Because lets face it, we need great video for our productions and that starts at the camera. Now giving the fact that something like this would only be used for a few shots on a few select weddings or projects it may just be the perfect camera at the right price point with  ok video quality.

First I’m going to start with the point that this is not a toy. This is a real film making machine and if you’re not careful you can hurt your self, others and or break it.

For the price, the phantom 2 vision+ is amazing. It’s build is great, crashed once so far, about a 10 foot fall, and it was just fine. The GPS on it is amazing to help with your flight and keeping it steady in the air and even returning home when needed. Now, this is the version that comes with a camera and gimbal, not the GoPro version.  The gimbal is so amazingly steady that I almost don’t want to use a glide cam any more. The wifi connects right to your iPhone to use as a monitor and controller for settings. I’m still messing around with the settings like ISO, filed of view and exposure stuff but so far, the camera quality is the only thing I would compare to a toy. NO real manual control, ISO 100, 200 & 400. F stop is fixed and you can set a shutter speed or really lock in a exposer. I have set the ISO to 100 and exposer to zero and the camera still adjusts the exposer and I’m thinking its maybe doing so by shutter speed. It would be much better if we could just truly lock in a setting.

I’m editing on a 30inch  monitor and there is such a lack of clarity, massive amounts of aliasing & moire. On the internet its not really to bad but when you view it on a 60inch screen you can really see the problems with the camera. I have seen some side by side footage of the DJI camera and GoPro Hero 3 and the GoPro has some more detail in it image.  I can only compare the quality to something like a GoPro but less detail quality in the footage.   I feel the iPhone and Note phones have better quality footage then this camera. VERY VERY grainy footage in low light so make sure to get your best footage before the sun sets.

Over all if you only need a camera for 3-4 shots during your day for an event then this may be the camera for you at just under $1,200. Its ready to fly, no set up time out side of turning it on and opening the app. I need things to be as fast and easy to get a shot and get to my next location.  You get about 25 mins of flight time so you may also want to pick up a couple extra batteries for $129 each.

After I see how this works in to my production I may upgrade to a copter that can at least hold a smaller camcorder like a Canon XA 10. I wish DJI would come out with a Phantom with a gimbal and iPhone monitor connection Just like the vision 2 Plus but that will hold a camcorder and a $2,000 price point.

-Jon Santos

Wedding Cinema Post Production

I’m asked all the time by clients “what is the difference between documentary wedding and cinema wedding” Well that sometime is hard to tell but easy to show. 90% want to hire you for your work that they have seen on your website. 10% will question everything because they don’t understand what the different style of filming and the post production work that goes in to the final product. I start by telling them they are different cameras I use for them. Documentary I use a small HD camcorder and I do not work with the clients one on one. I stay in the back round and follow in the foot steps of the photographer. I don’t bring a glide cam, slider or jib for the wedding. When I say Well the few big differences is color correcting and color grading and all the gear I would bring or not bring, that’s the point you have already lost them simply because they do not work in film of photography and have zero idea what you are talking about. So how do you explain the cost jump from one style to the next? give them a kind of behind the scenes look at before and after so they can see what goes in to making the cinema video look and sound like it does and what separates it from the traditional documentary video. giving your client all the info they need to understand why your product is different, why the cost is justified and what may set you apart from the others, your competition. The key is letting them know that their wedding is going to be different and what they may see may not apply exactly but its the basic idea of how my post production works. Before I meet with clients I send them to my FAQ page on my business website so they can learn more about the process before we meet up. Below is the videos I put together to try to visually explain the basic workings of my post productions.

Skytop Wedding

Filmed with Canon c100 & Canon 5d Mark iii
Cinematographer: Jon Santos

Some of you may have taken a visit at my website in the past and see that a big bulk of my work are weddings. Over the years I have had a nice chance to do a few beautiful destination wedding but this was more of a local destination wedding. Just over 2.5 hours from NY is a location in PA called Skytop Lodge. what a beautiful location to have a wedding. First, I want not thinking when I left NY that is was going to be rather cool out side in the middle of June. During the wedding ceremony it dropped to 50 degrees and I had no jacket. That morning when I checked in to my hotel I was in shorts and a tank top because it was about 70 degrees back in the NY area. I said hey! if the girls can do it, I can do it.

But anyway, Ben (the groom) showed me around the lodge and every inch of this place has a classic look and feel to it. I walked past the arcade area and the smell took me back to my kid years of playing games at the arcade with friends for hours and hours. I was working along side of Dbecker photography  and Dennis said “we are going to the tower for photos”. Well the elevator was soooo small I ran up 5 or 6 flights of steps with my Canon c100 mounted to my tripod in one hand the my Canon 5D3 on my glide cam in the other hand. We came out on the top of the tower to the view of an amazing Pocono mountain top sunset. My Canon c100 battery died just when I started to film, not due to me not changing my batter but due to a defective batter that I just found out about at that moment. But I wish I could have filmed on top of the tower with the C100 but I was left with only the Canon 5d3 on my glide cam. still, its great camera and did very well but I wish I could have captured that sunset with the detail of the c100. ( Thanks to my camera dealer Chris at ZGC, shes getting it replaced for me. )

I hope you enjoy this wedding film from that great day in the Pocono Mountain’s at Skytop Lodge.







Princeton University, N.J.

So I had a wedding in Princeton NJ at the University. I have to say, kind of made me think of going back to school because I really liked the area and that campus. I would love to film a project in the area, just beautiful building and art work. Here are a few clips from my B-roll footage.


“HER” would you date your OS?


A movie does not need to have a massive fight sequence created in CGI and 50 explosions every 5 mins to enjoy a good story. Sometimes I feel today blockbusters are 120 min of just bang, boom and explode. Not that I’m saying I don’t enjoy them, I do. Just take the last incarnation of Superman “Man Of Steel” I wish there was some more story to it but I LOVED the movie. They blow up everything from the city to the moon and back and it was great to really see Superman unleash his power like that.

But as much as I can love and enjoy a film like Man of steel, spiderman and transformers, there is always the other side of me that wants more of just a good film, a good story and have it filmed great. The movie “HER” just hit iTunes this morning and I got up early to sit back and see it. I wanted to see this in the theaters but I just never got around to it.

This is a simple yet complex story of a man who is lost in his own world that find him self falling in love with this new girl in his life, Samantha. I know you have heard it before bla bla. But this is a new take on something I think man kind is heading for. Samantha (played by Scarlett Johansson) is an Operating system, OS1. OS1 is a fully working artificial intelligence that is alive, learning, loving, and living in Theodore’s (Joaguin Phoenix) Computer and phone. Samantha is not like the dumb ass SIRI we have on our iPhones. Samantha lives and learns just like us. She is seeing the world for the first time through the camera phone, she is learning to feel, she can’t understand how she feels, she just knows she feels it.

As you watch this movie, you kind of forget at points that she’s not real, as if she’s just a girl on the phone talking to you, laughing with you, enjoying intimate moments and feeling sad with you. She hears the tone of enjoyment and sadness in Theodore’s voice. Does that really some like a computer to you?

This movie was beautiful to watch. Kind of had an indie cinematic look to it. very natural and I love that about it. But it also makes you think about where our future maybe heading. If something can act, think, learn, listen, answer, love and share with you, is it not real? I share a love with a non human every day and I have had a relation ship with this little 10 pound creature for 10 years now. He looks at me, I see he thinks, shares his feelings with me and asks for nothing but love. Buts not Human, he’s a dog. What if that was a computer? a computer that was more like you? that can hang out with you and your friends? intelligence that can see you and share in every moment with you and grows with you?

This is something this movie really makes you think about. Could you have a relationship with a artificial intelligence, At what point will we blur the lines so much that AI will be the same or better the Real Life.  When will it come a time that humans are just code developed in a lab and grown? Will that be the day we can say “well, we are all Artificial Intelligence.

If you think it’s a bit crazy and so far in the future and no one will ever talk to their computer of phones, pick up your iPhone, say Hi Siri, ask her how she’s doing today, ask her is she has seen any movies lately. Look at you now! sharing a moment with the girl on your phone. You know you’ve done it.

Give this movie a go and think about. Would you have a relationship with an OS.

This is really a great movie and you should hit up iTunes and see it.


Jon Santos : Rock Life Studios

Photo by Jon Santos

Video stills, The new photography?

Pulling photos from video. “video stills”  the new way of photography?

One of my newer favorite things to do has been pulling stills from my videos. I didn’t like to do this to often with my 5D3 because I was never really happy with how the video quality looked, never sharp and was always missing something. I’m starting to wish I was filming with all 4K cameras because I would have more of an up sell to clients on also selling photos from my videos. I offer my clients very high-end case for their video packaging so the art work needs to be great. Im filming mostly now on a Canon c100 and the video quality is so much better the 5D3 or 70D that I have been getting great useable photos up to a solid 5×7 DVD case size. This is a new game changer for the video world as I’m feeling shortly down the line I will upgrade in to the Canon 1Dc and film everything in 4K to pull these much higher rez stills from the video for a print closer to 11×17.

To have 24 images a second rather than 6 images that most cameras can shoot is amazing. You can just simply film, move and a bit, reframe, have the subject do what ever they want and you just film. You can now look over each frame, pick that perfect moment that may have happen between your normal 6 frame. At 24p you will have 4 times more images  then the normal that you get with normal bust more. Imagine the possibility at this point or even the possibility with a 4K video camera shooting at 60p! In time the lines from Video and Photo are going to be so blurred that there will not be “photographers” as we know them now. It will be a time that everyone is just filming and pulling out the stills, editing and selling.

Here are a few samples from yesterdays wedding that I pulled from the c100 and did a fast edit in photoshop.

Cinematically Beautiful


The secret life of Walter Mitty.

This movie is what really film making is all about. The secret life of Walter Mitty is one of the most cinematically beautiful movies I have seen in a long time. From the amazing sound track to the amazing practical filming is such a great thing to see in a film over this EVERYTHING CGI crap that I’m getting very board of seeing. Things that they could have simply done on green screen to took to the real word and really filmed it. You can truly see the time and thought put in to each and every shot, from color, design, music, and chose of lens. Lets get back to some really filming, real locations, and only use visual effects when 100% needed. So nice to see a great looking movie like this. If you have not picked this movie up yet I recommend you do or at least hit iTunes and rent it. If you are in to film making to recommend you pick up the Blu Ray simply to watch all the extra making of footage. Its truly a breathtaking film and simple, real and fun story.  

What do you think of The secret life of Walter Mitty?

Jon Santos : Rock Life Studios

Canon Dual Pixel Auto Focus review in 3 Minutes

Canon Dual Pixel Auto Focus review in 3 Minutes

A quick update: one week after the above video, I filmed a full wedding with the Canon c100 and the new auto focus and I can’t tell you how much I loved having this as a toll to to make my day a bit easier. When you are on a wedding day shoot like mine, the days  are packed with multiple camera set ups, sliders, glide cams, crane shots and external audio recording. Having something as small as auto focus helping you out so you don’t need to stress out with “IS MY SHOT IN FOCUS!!!!!” lets your mind rest that you can simple point and focus. It opens up many other options that you didn’t have before such as glide cam or slider with pulling focus and not having to touch your lens and to insure that even in bright sun when you can see the screen to well, you will assure that you have that extra hand in focus to make sure your shots are sharp as a tack.

Jon Santos :

CANON – Dual Pixel Auto Focus

UPDATE 3:  I just picked up my c100 from the “Canon hospital” haha. Its working amazing now. I’m not the biggest fan of auto focus in video cameras simply because they never know what you really want to focus on. I think the biggest advance in the new DSLR and Cinema cameras right now is the Canon 70d. You can touch the screen of what you want in focus, track a face and it seems to work out very well. The Canon c100 has this Dual Pixel focus now but no touch screen making it limited to only the center being the focus point. Kind of can mess up you’re framing if you are not putting the subject dead center.  If you have a version with out it you can hit up canon and they will install it for $500. Why did I have this installed if I don’t like auto focus? A big bulk of my work each year are weddings. To give my clients that feel of a movie they expect from my company, we tend to shoot wide open, f1.2-2.8 most of the time. I don’t go over f5.6 or I may as well just film with a camcorder. As we know or as some of you that are new are finding out, when you film at f1.2 it can almost be impossible to keep anything that moves in focus. I don’t care who you are and how much you want to say your amazing at keeping everything in focus at 1.2 that’s just crap. it’s the hardest thing to try to pull focus on people walking to you, people dancing and people who speck at weddings and can’t stay still. If you shoot weddings I’m sure this has happened (best man speech, you tell him to not move around much like he’s a comedian on stage during his solo show but what happens? He thinks he’s Kevin Hart or Chris Rock and has to keep moving around and you are trying to pull focus like a nut. What do you do now? yep, close down your F stop to 5.6 so you can follow him, but that may mean you have to up your ISO past the point of useable footage but hey at least you can pull focus now.
This is why I had this dual pixel installed. It’s not to say, im going to do a lot less work now cuz the camera is just going to do all the work. No, it’s an added tool you can use when really need that you can simply engage with the push of a button. It’s a great upgrade and I hope canon builds on this and puts a touch screen on every camera and add some sort of speed control on the focus speed.

Jon Santos :


canon c100 light


UPDATE 2: So I just got a call from Canon, They said the fixed the problem and will keep the c100 over night to do a bunch more test to make sure its working 100%. They still do not know what was causing this high ISO green look look, but maybe Ill ask them to make me a present of it and call it the CINE HULK profile haha. They do have great customer service and Im looking forward to getting back my camera tomorrow and giving it a good work out.


UPDATE 1: So After picking up my c100 from Canon. I get home to find that the auto focus is a nice ad on to this camera. you don’t have much control over it like the Canon 70D but its very nice. BIG PROBLEM/BUG in the software that i found. I took its back to canon just an hour or 2 later because on in the EOS- STD color mode QSO 2000 and higher everything turned green. Its as if all the color channels turned off.  In Wide DR and Cine, Iso 5000 and higher turned green. Thats one heck of a bug they have in the camera. For $500 you would think Canon would have the bug in this auto focus upgrade worked out before releasing it to the market. Well they said this has only happened a few times and that they will do everything to fix it. If you get this upgrade check all your hi ISO for this bug. You don’t want to be at a job and find something like this at a time you can not fix it. Ill post another update when I get my camera back from CANON.


I’m at Canon right now dropping off my c100 to have the dual pixel auto focus installed. Since working with the Canon 70D I found that I was loving the dual pixel focus on that camera and would use it a lot on events to pull focus on people walking when I had a shallow DOF. It works really great, very much like a camcorder works. I’m looking forward to testing this out when I get it back and doing a full review video .

Jon Santos




Canon 70D review


-20.2 megapixel (APS-c)
-Digic 5+ image processor
-19 cross type focus points
-Full 1920×1080 HD video
-Duel pixel for camcorder like video focus
-Full touch screen
-head phone jack
– 24p,30p, 1080
-60p,30p 720

The Canon 70D has become my favorite travel camera. I have 7 cameras between video and stills and the one I hit the road with is the Canon 70D. My travel gear at one point had hit 40 pounds in a back pack with lens, cameras, batteries, flashes, tripod and sometimes sliders and Kessler pocket jib traveler and it was just crazy. Still camera, flash, loads of lens, a video camera, laptop to view my photos and upload. But the 70d changed that for me.

Like many camera now, the 70D has a build in wifi network. You can connect to your phone or tablet, control your camera in photo mode, touch screen focus and snap the photo all from your phone. No more guessing with self times and guessing if your in the frame and what the photo looks like. Set the camera up, walk away and in to the photo, use your phone as your view finder as your in the picture, touch focus, adjust exposer and ISO and take the photo, from your phone!!!!

When your done, down load the photo right to your phone or iPad, do a little color and edit and Instantly share. One camera, one camera flash, wifi, no laptop and I have already created and shared a memory.

It’s also great to use this camera as a video camera so I don’t need to drag around another peace of gear with me. It’s not as amazing as the 5D3 and not even close to my c100 but toss on a images stabilized lens, full HD and when you are on the road you truly can’t really complain. The duel pixel focus it’s amazing. It’s really great to have in a camera like this and what is better is that it has face tracking. I can on a face and with will pull focus as it tracks the face. Yes that’s really cool! This has come in handy on many events I shoot.

On camera flash is great to also not bring along a external flash. I have used something called the flash booster by rogue. You can find this right on Amazon for about $35. It magnifies the power of your cameras built in flash 8x. You may still have to do some post red eye editing cuz it’s still the pop up flash as very close to the lens, but everything from you phone apps to software has an easy eye remove button.

The quality oh the higher ISO range is also really good. In photo it’s usable up to about 3200, in video I felt it falls a part a bit more past 1600.
Sample photos: