I think it’s safe to say that the word is getting around… if you do anything related to film, video, animation, or audio production and haven’t checked out the offerings over at Open Signal, you owe it to yourself to drop everything and chew on the website for a bit. Like the legend of the phoenix, the short of it is that some of the fine folks who were involved in the community building and educational programs at the Hollywood Theatre (a gem in it’s own right) took over a great-but-dated Portland Community Media and made it cool again. Rebranded as Open Signal, armed with a fresh paint job and an influx of top tier equipment, Portland has never been in a better position to create media of all kinds. Having a voice! Have an idea for a show? A podcast? Need access to a studio? A greenscreen? Animation tools? A laptop decked out with software? Just feel like getting out and filming something? Whatever the case may be, they have you covered.
Highlights include shelves full of both Canon C100 mkII and Sony FS7 cameras, both of which can easily yield pro level results. For we the VFX geeks, take note that the C100’s HDMI out can be tapped by the super portable Atomos Ninja Star recorder (about $199 new, even less used) to yield 10-bit Prores 4:2:2 HQ footage at ~200mbps. That’s a significant jump from the camera’s built in 24mbps AVCHD 4:2:0 codec, essentially turning it into a C300 at half the cost. Most importantly, it nets you footage you can actually push around a bit in post! Color grade your heart out! (And note that Open Signal has Resolve classes to help you with that part, too)
The FS7 is no slouch, bumping the ante to 4k video with significant slo-mo capabilities. Open Signal had the foresight to buy Sony’s 12bit RAW output film back, although again you’ll need your own Atomos Shogun recorder back to capture it. Consider renting one from Pro Photo ($75/day, $225/week as I type this). With the right lens, this tandem could (theoretically) give you an image on par with 95% of the shows on any major network. No joke.
I have to say, at the risk of sounding overdramatic, I do tend to sleep better at night just knowing Open Signal exists. Make it a point to use and support this great resource; it’s possible to gain access to both studio and field gear with a single class (Music Video Production is the one you want), and then you can further unlock access to an FS7 with a partial day workshop.
Content you create needs to be non-commercial enough to be shown on Open Signal’s public access cable channel (as in, you can’t be filming weddings for hire). And to be clear, the classes are low cost and once you’re a certified producer, the gear is free to reserve and use. For ref, a C100 mkII setup would cost you in upwards of $200/day at Pro Photo. An FS7? $300/day.
So… do it! Stop all that noise and go make some signal.