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Adam Plowden Video produces bespoke videos and media for local and global business, products and events, telling your story through engaging media. Video production agency in Epsom, Surrey.

BVE 2016 from the show floor (a very late post)

Why Miss The UK's Leading Video Expo?

I've been going to BVE since 2010 when it was held in Earls Court, and it's still a great place to be to meet up with friends, network with other producers and manufacturers, and to get hands on with new kit.

This years BVE had a different feel to it, maybe it was the new layout, a much improved press area but also some of the big names didn't have a stand. This was certainly beneficial for WTS Broadcast who had the only new Sony PXW-Z150 at the show, and from talking to their team, on the opening day there was a queue around the show bar just to take a look at the video camera. The video and article can be seen here on Cinema5D.

I was glad I arrived as the doors were opening, as after a quick press area pit stop I had a walk around the show floor to gauge where interesting stands would be. It was then, when I walked up to the Intro2020 stand and saw the new Samyang XEEN Cine lenses on show. Luckily enough, the two new models; 14mm T/3.1 and 35mm T/1.5 arrived so I grabbed a scoop with them.

The build quality of the lenses is similar to the Schneider cine optics, and I was very surprised that the weight of the 35mm was lighter than my Tamron 24-70! The lenses are available at around £1600 each, and just over £7000 for a set of 5 in a hard case, so it bridges the gap between their VDSLR lenses and the more expensive cine lenses like the Zeiss CP2's or Schneiders. I had a very quick play with the 35mm T/1.5 and the optical quality surpasses its original cine lens range, and also comes in a PL mount.

There is also another lens in the range due to be released in the Summer, which will most likely be a 135mm lens. when I talked to James from Intro2020 there was no sign of cine-zooms which is a shame. For more info on the Samyang XEEN lenses check out the site here.

I was also giving the Sennheiser AVX system a trial run at the show while filming interviews. It's the new wireless microphone system that's the upgrade from the ENG-100 G3 wireless system, with many great benefits.

You'll notice the audio receiver is much smaller than the transmitter which is very convenient for a compact setup, especially if you use a camera cage like myself. Also, no wired aerials is a bonus as they are often the most fragile part of the unit.

The kit also includes a new ME2 lavalier microphone which has an improved housing and design, it also comes with extra clips and capsule covers for when some light maintenance is needed.

The resulting audio quality is much better than the previous included microphone, while filming interviews at BVE the improved quality was evident with the mic eliminating plenty of 'room noise' while capturing the subjects voice. I'll be doing a further comparison between the originan ME2, the Rode Lavalier and the new ME2 microphone in this set.

An overwhelming bonus to this new system is it's internal battery, which charges via USB. Many new products are incorporating an internal battery which takes away the reliance on AA or AAA batteries which can fluctuate in charge. After fully charging both transmitter and receiver fully, they indicated a whopping 17 hours battery life!

The kit also includes an XLR to TRS adapter cable which allows you to go straight out via XLR from the receiver into the camera's microphone input. Of course, this is optional depending on your setup, but it was ideal for running and gunning around BVE as I didn't need to use an audio recorder like the H1 or H6!

For more info on the AVX systems check out Sennheiser here

Check out the Sony Z150 video here -

Check out the Samyang XEEN Lens video here -

The Filmmaking Masterclass 2015.. Behind The Scenes Part 2

Part 2 of the filmmaking masterclass behind the scenes production!

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The Filmmaking Masterclass 2015.. Behind The Scenes (Part 1)

Producing a video with storytelling (Part 1)

I jumped at the chance to film the BTS when I saw Philip Bloom and Nino Leitner's 'Filmmaking Masterclass' were coming to Surrey for their 2015 workshop. Having captured many events before, this was a chance for me to hone in on my videography skills and produce a great BTS film to show what the workshop is about and help promote it for future events. Of course, filming for Nino and Philip put more pressure onto producing something amazing.

As I'm a one man band producer, I roped in help from good friends of mine to help film other aspects of the workshop (which spanned over 3 days). Meticulous planning was required to make sure we captured everything we could, and that the equipment was ready for the next days shooting on location. Keeping in mind the"shoot 20% content and 80% b-roll" tip was definitely important for this production, so there was plenty of emphasis on attendee interviews at different stages of the workshop to capture progress, and filming them working as a crew producing a short film too. This together helped form the basis of the beginning, middle and end narrative; a structure that is familiar, but works to add progression and pace to a video.

Preparing the treatment

To keep the production tightly knit and not over shooting, I produced a treatment for each crew member so we knew exactly what was going on, where, with what kit. This helped us work to capturing something different each day and follow the narrative -

1.       Brief the crew with the aims and expectations of the overall production.

2.       Confirm the details of the location, including the best travel routes from their location (avoiding major motorways and roads during congesting).

3.       Choose the best equipment for the job. Never over pack the kit bag, go simple and strategic for the look and style of production.

4.       Prepare an equipment list to check off each day and familiarize crew of the production setup with camera techniques, settings and audio.

5.       List all key moments and shots to acquire throughout each filming day, which may include interviews, specific time lapses, and drone or gimbal shots for example.

On the day:

6.       When you are working in a crew, they are your family.

7.       Introduce the crew to the key people at the event; from the event organizers to the mentors, to ensure that they are all comfortable and acknowledged as part of the BTS crew.

8.       Film a couple of shots with the crew to demonstrate the style of production and tips for filming in that location/settings.

 Adam and Ed

Adam and Ed

 Ed and Mikey

Ed and Mikey

The Kit

The kit prep was a challenge as it's always tempting to take too much, which in some cases makes you less mobile. For the workshop, crews would be spread over a large location (indoors and outdoors) so being portable with a small footprint was the cornerstone of what kit was used.

 Manfrotto Backpack 35-PL

Manfrotto Backpack 35-PL

Adam Plowden Video using Sony A7s and Atomos Shogun

A personal favourite of mine is using the 100mm macro lens for portraits or specific subjects or objects as it beautifully crushes the background into a lovely bokeh, as if it was taken on a much better lens and camera. That combined with the Shogun shooting in 4K gives so beautiful images. Also, as much of the first and last days shooting was indoors, I often ramped up the ISO to 6400 and happily shot away knowing that the resultant image would be pleasantly clean.

Adam Plowden Video using Sony A7s and Canon 100mm macro

Audio wise, I had the Rode VideoMicro hooked up to the A7S for the entire production, its an awesome little microphone which sits neatly on the cage. I’ve found previous on camera mics clunky and often require a 9V battery, but the little VideoMicro uses the camera power and packs a load of great audio quality into a tiny price tag. For the interviews, I hooked up the Rode NTG4+ into the H6 and handheld. No need for a clamp and magic arm in this case.

The Shoot

The night before the workshop got the attendees together to meet and chat, I took this opportunity to interview some of the attendees to get their expectations of the workshop (the beginning part of the narrative). The pre-event networking is a brilliant way to break the ice with people who'll become part of your crew, and become new friends. The interviews were shot on the Tamron 24-70, it was rather dark so I remember shooting quite shallow with a high ISO. For the audio, I used the NTG4+ but this still captured a fair bit of background noise.

Day 1 was based around working together as a crew and planning the shoot for the following day. Throwing the participants in the deep end, they were set the task of producing a short video using 'in camera editing', a challenging task for them that revealed how the crews communicate and work together. I captured plenty of the crews shooting their scenes, and grabbed some vox pops from the group mentors on the fly to add some narrative to filming. I simply shot this on a monopod using the VideoMicro for audio, as I was in close quarters with the mentors.

Adam Plowden Video at Filmmaking Masterclass
Adam Plowden Video at Filmmaking Masterclass

Throughout the day I shot more of the participants networking (one of the key reasons to come to events like this as, it's not what you know, it's who you know), and their presentations in the afternoon. For the presentations I shot mainly on the 755CX-3 tripod to get nice steady shots on a long lens, while using the 100mm macro got me wonderfully close for portrait style shots of the participants.

Sometimes I shot on the Manfrotto MVM500AH monopod, just to get into tighter spaces or be more maneuverable on my feet.

Adam Plowden Video at Filmmaking Masterclass

Come the end of the day I grabbed essential interviews with Philip, Nino and Johnnie in a couple of locations to add some variety. What the mentors say will act as an audio-narrative for the BTS films as the questions flowed from 'Why do you recommend coming on an intensive workshop like this?' I also grabbed some interviews with the attendees, getting their thoughts and experiences from the first day, that would then help me build up the storytelling narrative of progression for the BTS film.

Part 2 of this blog will look at the second workshop day where the attendees capture and edit their short films, as well as the post production process I used to edit the BTS film together!

Exciting things to come at APVideo

October Update with lots of 4K

Evening all! It's been a long summer, made even longer by fantastic work with friends and brilliant clients. My last post 'Filming with the JVC GY-LS300..' has actually been in the works for months, but I didn't see fit to release it without a couple of the accompanying videos. As well as completing productions for Screen Systems, I also worked with NewsShooter.com to produce the coverage and blogs over IBC 2015. It was great to work with Dan, Elliot, Matt and the others from the NewsShooter team, more on IBC in another post.

On returning from IBC, I met up with Dan and we played around with some old 'budget' manual lenses with the LS300 and got some interesting results. Many of the lenses were purchased for £5 or at least under £10, giving it the budget aspect. The LS300 is also somewhat of a budget option for a video camera, but with the eagerly anticipated J-LOG gamma curve firmware update, much more visual quality and dynamic range can be captured. Together, that makes the 'budget lens challenge', in which you purchase a cheap lens, and make a short vid with it on a budget setup!

Can you do the 'Budget Lens Challenge'? Send over your results and #budgetlens on twitter to @plowman91 and @theNewsshooter!

Coming up, I am working on part 3 and 4 of the JVC GY-LS300 camera review which will include using J-LOG; filming and grading with it, as well as including the budget lenses I've acquired as part of the budget lens challenge!

Thanks to Manfrotto and WTS Broadcast for your support.

Filming with JVC GY-LS300. Is it the next underestimated camera? (Part 1 and 2)

Filming with the JVC GY-LS300 (PART 1)

I first met the LS300 at BVE 2015 in London where I went to the soft launch of JVC's 4K flagship video camera. There I met with Mike and John from JVC Pro UK who gave me of the walk through of the prototype they had on show.

Since then the camera has intrigued me as a production camera for filming and video. On paper it has similar specifications to the Canon C300 mk II and FS7, but only working with it would determine whether it weighs in as a contender. Time was rather tight for actually filming with the camera itself, so I timed it right for a music gig and extra time away from the desk to get out and shoot some material.

I got the GY-LS300 from WTS Broadcast

The wonderful guys at WTS Broadcast helped me out with the camera as I was looking to test it out and they had one in stock. I've got a great relationship with Alex at WTS and after a long conversation back and forth I was tempted to finally use the camera for filming, so I loaned one out for a gig and test shoot.

JVC LS300 4K video camera

Specs of the LS300

  • Internal 4K (UHD) 3840x2160 at 150Mbit/s in 24/25/30p.
  • HD in 24/25/30/50/60 interlaced and progressive.
  • Wireless video transmission capability.
  • Super 35 size sensor.
  • MFT mount.
  • Variable Scan Mapping (VSM).
  • Dual SD card slots.

Coincidentally, James from LogoLogo (Brighton) was up in London for an appointment, and keen to meet up after getting to know each other at Shadows and Light, this was the perfect opportunity to talk tech and film together at the Fleetmac Wood gig I had lined up for us at Birthdays in Dalston. We met up at WTS Media HQ in Fitzrovia where I introduced James to Duncan, and caught up over a drink overlooking the busyness of Oxford Street. It's awesome to meet up with a new friend, there are always so many stories to share.

We made our way to Dalston on the hot and sticky underground. Luckily I had no backpack as I'd packed all the kit (including the LS300) into the Manfrotto Roller Bag 70. It is a well padded case, and with varying foam dividers I simply constructed the bag sections before leaving home to accommodate the JVC camera, top handle, microphone, for example. It's an awesome bag for (definitely more than) two reasons - transportation and diversity. Transportation in which I can comfortably travel with the bag, and diversity in which I can securely store both photography lenses and pro production cameras.

The Manfrotto Roller Bag 70 also accompanied on my recent trip to Hollywood, and on both occasions it was perfect for the job. When I arrived at WTS Media I simply rearranged the dividers to accommodate the larger LS300 and its accessories. Flexibility is definitely at the heart of this bag.

In the restaurant across the road I got the camera set up and ready to film with, attaching the Metabones EF-MFT lens adapter and the Sigma 35mm T/1.5 lens. On arrival at the venue (Birthdays), I discovered that the settings are not easy to navigate; it takes a silly amount of time to locate the essential settings such as changing the video resolution, codec and format. Not very functional for run and gun or quick shooting work especially when you like switching between real-time and slow-mo, or using the VSM feature.

 I went a bit retro with using a 17-50mm for APS-C on the A7S to give it the vignetting, and I like the outcome!

I went a bit retro with using a 17-50mm for APS-C on the A7S to give it the vignetting, and I like the outcome!

Because of the MFT mount and sensor size, it's possible to use EF-S or APS-C lenses with this camera, and also Micro Four Thirds (when you use VSM). I have the Tamron 17-50mm VC that I use on the 60D which is an ideal wide angle lens, however I chose to use the 24-70 (full frame) instead, which made the camera + lens combo extremely front heavy. However even with a smaller lens, the build of the camera itself seems somewhat plastic-like and unbalanced. I'd expect if the camera was rigged out with a shoulder pad, V-lock battery and recorder it would be much more balanced, but the camera isn't constructed for this, or at least it didn't feel like it.

Note: If you are using native MFT lenses directly to the camera mount, the combo is much smaller and lighter. Of course, you will have to use the VSM to crop in on the sensor to around 80% for the correct sensor coverage.

 From JVC Pro with adapter and EF lens

From JVC Pro with adapter and EF lens

 From HD Warrior with MFT lens

From HD Warrior with MFT lens

Honestly, I was rather disappointed with the quality of the flip out LCD screen and back eyepiece. I guess I've been spoiled with the A7S' viewfinder which is fantastic in quality and contrast. The LS300's didn't stack up, and I often found myself needing to use the eyepiece instead of the screen to judge the focus and exposure. What became difficult was finding the critical focus in contrasty situations. I could have used the digital zoom (expanded focus), but didn't know it existed.

 The LS300 with Samyang 14mm T/3.1, which on this camera equates to around 20mm.

The LS300 with Samyang 14mm T/3.1, which on this camera equates to around 20mm.

Unfortunately I didn't have a lot of time in between eating and the gig to sus the camera out apart from checking the resolution, setting the white balance, setting pre-rec run etc. As we were filming a DJ gig I didn't want to have the camera (I was borrowing) out for long in case it got damaged or covered in booze.

Filming Fleetmac Wood was fantastic, Lisa and Alex are brilliant DJ's and their tambourines definitely lit up the dance floor. The added visuals from old music videos added to the eclectic experience, combined with mixes from many talented producers made the night one to remember.

As you would imagine, the venue was dark, only lit by a couple of LED lights and the projector. Almost immediately I ruled out using the LS300 after capturing a couple of shots of the venue and booth, in what the camera seemed to think was candle light. In these scenarios, I don't believe the camera would hold up unless you had the time, space and equipment for a lighting setup. Sure, you could shoot at T/1.5 but you'll get nothing in focus if you're filming crowds dancing, plus with the gain up to +12dB your picture becomes noisy.

James took some brilliant photos and videos of the night, some of which are below in the gallery and also included in the Fleetmac Wood @ Birthdays film.

While filming the Fleetmac Wood gig I did switch lenses a couple of times, firstly to the Samyang 35mm T/1.5 which although was heavy, had a wonderful bokeh and combined with the super 35 sensor made for great video. I also teamed it up with the Atomos Shogun (in HD) rather than 4K via SDI, which captured the video in ProRes HQ.

By my reckoning, you'll need to spec up this camera with additional extras to make it what you want to be. Out of the box it comes with all you would need to start (minus the SD cards and microphone and some spare batteries), but you'll need a tripod or monopod to keep it steady, especially if you're using primes of lenses without image stabilization/vibration control.

Saying that, if you weren't filming a music gig in low light you would have a lot more options and time to compose the frame... I come on to that in a moment.

I've cut all of the footage together for this edit which includes filming from the A7S, LS300, A7S with the Shogun in 25p and 50p, LS300 with the Shogun in 25p (HD), and footage from James Beer (LogoLogo) on the A7S in 50p and 100p.

Photography by James Beer @ LogoLogo

Filming with the GY-LS300 under normal circumstances (PART 2)

I had the LS300 loaned out for a week to put it through its paces, filming in a number of different scenarios. I shot quite a number of clips out in my garden just to get a feel for the camera and figure out it's settings. Of course, Alfie the cat was a willing subject!

From testing out the VSM feature, I can't see a big degredation in light or quality when you change the sensor scan mode from 100% down to 80% for MFT lenses, however I was using great quality lenses (Tamron and Samyang) rather than MFT lenses which have a smaller in-lens depth of field, so there is more light coming through the lens for the sensor to capture.

The built in ND filters are a god-send, and a very welcome adittion to a camera that would be used with large-aperture lenses. If you wish to shoot at T/1.5 for a very shallow look, using 1/64 ND in the bright daylight is probably your only option. Saying that, unlike using ND filters in front of the lens, there isn't a noticable colour cast of image degredation like with other filters. However, more ND stops please!! Going from 1/4 to 1/16 to 1/64 are big jumps, and in some cases, 1/64 was not enough!

While out and about filming in Ewell, I simply had the LS300 with the JVC50 battery, 1 SD card and the Tamron 24-70 on a Manfrotto 755CX-3 tripod. For run and gunning, despite the build of the camera it works extremely well for this kind of filming.

Unlike the FS7 and Canon Cinema cameras, the LS300 doesn't have any log capabilities for a wider dynamic range, which was expected as JVC marketed this camera for higher-end productions. It would be interesting to see how well the camera performs with a log curve and higher bitrate  recording for filming that needs it. From filming with the 'standard' colour setting and 'detail' knocked all the way down the image is rather pleasing, much better than I expected. I guess the viewfinder/eyepiece gave me lesser expectations of what the captured image would look like, so I was pleasnatly suprised to see the results.

However, like mentioned before, the viewfinder/eyepiece is not the best quality and without using the 'focus extender' function, it was difficult to achieve critical focus. Some of this is evident in one of the demo films I've produced with the camera. I also noticed that the form factor of the camera doesn't allow you to get a nice, steady shot like a shoulder mount camera would where you have numerous contact points on your body. With a top-mounted eyepiece it doesn't feel natural to hold the camera in front of your chest (for hand held or monopod filming), and is not steady, even with IS or vibration control.

Despite other things, the battery life is a winner, on one battery (JVC50) giving you over 200 minutes of filming time. I took the camera out to a local business networking night put on by What's On In My Town and Hobbledown, as I am joining forces with them to promote local business and talent it was a perfect opportunity to capture some of the event and talk to other companies about how films can help them.

It was a wonderful summer evening at Hobbledown children's farm, kindly the hosts for the networking, with attendees getting a full tour of the venue and a go on the new high ropes activity! David the manager and his team were fantastic and played great hosts with the BBQ.

With this beautiful golden hour of filming, the LS300 really shone as a camera. Yes, I probably shot at F/3.2 with ND 1/16 because I wanted a shallow depth of field, but ND 1/4 at F/8 was too bright. I was pulling focus all the time during the piece to camera from Whats On MD, Paul. I also found that as he walked from the shadows into highlights, he would become over exposed, so high contrast filming wouldn't be practical (unless you had some control over lighting) with this camera.

Revisiting this post about a week on from my last entry..

It was really rather easy to work with the footage from the LS300, and knowing there is a focus expander gives me more confidence in it. However, as you will have seen from the footage in the film above I do focus creep due to not being certain using the LCD screen or eyepiece. Premiere handled the 4K footage very well, without having to render until I added some colour correction, scaling and graphics.

You'll also probably notice the shots where I attempted to go handheld, this is where the form factor of the camera somewhat let it down, but hey ho that's what a rig or tripod is for.

In the longer piece to camera with Paul, the image captured was lovely and had a pleasing depth of field to work with (not too shallow like the A7S, but not too deep like the GH4). Of course you can use any wide aperture lens with the camera if you wanted it to be bokelicious!

Capturing my local countryside (the last test)

(Starring my thumb...)

I'm surrounded by greenery where I live, so making the most of the great weather I headed out with the camera to capture some local landmarks (for another archiving/history project I'm working on). This would be a real high-contrast/dynamic range test for the camera.

When thinking about purchasing this camera, it boils down to what I can get for the price, especially in comparison to other internal 4K cameras (Panasonic GH4, Sony A7R II). They are smaller, both will require a lens adapter (as will the LS300) and new batteries, SD cards, rig, and are cheaper than the LS300 (without a microphone).

APVideo JVC LS300 Final Thoughts...

Why I would by the LS300?

  • Long battery life (but need to purchase batteries) with JVC50 batteries.
  • Internal 4K on SD cards, U3 600x capable.
  • ND filters (1/4, 1/16, 1/64).
  • Super 35 sensor with lovely picture (but you would need to shoot at T/1.5 or F/1.4 for a cinematic look to it).
  • Microphone/audio inputs.
  • Compatible with current lenses, but would require EF-MFT adapter.
  • Wireless, 4K via HDMI and HD via HD-SDI outputs.
  • HD-SDI for HD output and HDMI for 4K UHD output.
  • Extended focus, to crop in digitally and acquire critical focus.
  • No obvious quality drop when using the VSM at smaller scan sizes (87% and 80% MFT).

Why I wouldn't buy the LS300?

  • The form factor is not ergonomic, like a large video camera rather than production camera. It would need to be rigged with a shoulder mount for use to be comfortable.
  • Camera build is plastic, doesn't feel sturdy and some parts (ND filter wheel) feel delicate.
  • Not enough ND filter stops, needs at least 2-3 more, with improved digital filter wheel instead of mechanical, which feels very plastic like.
  • No variable 4K bit rates (up to 150Mb/s) or slow mo.
  • Low light is definitely not the cameras forte unless shooting very wide.
  • Terrible LCD screen and EVF quality.
  • Does not include a microphone.
  • The placement of the video output connectors is near the lens, which is odd considering other ports are at the back of the camera.
  • The dynamic range doesn't hold up to that of the GH4 or A7S.
  • The picture/colour settings are extremely limited, with no gamma curve or log option. This means the image is considerably burnt in with limited grading or colour correction options.

NEW Mid-August Update!

I've been away for a little while, so the review was put on hold until my return. On which I found out some interesting news from JVC, who have decided to upgrade the firmware of the LS-300 with new features..

  • JVC-Log - supposedly increased dynamic range, for colour grading.
  • Full DCI 4K and 2K resolutions - currently only UHD 4K is available, and no 2K option.
  • Prime Lens Zoom - ability to use the zoom rocker to extend the focal length of prime lenses using the VSM feature.

READ THE FULL PRESS RELEASE from JVC PRO HERE

Considering these new updates, the camera is now more capable of competing against higher level players, rather than the DSLR/mirrorless market. I'm due to test the camera out again in September, hopefully with the new firmware 2.0 to compare!

Finally, big thanks to WTS Broadcast for lending me the camera for a week to test it out. To Manfrotto for their Roller Bag 70 and 755Cx-3 tripod, and to Fleetmac Wood & Whats On In My Town for letting me film their events.

MORE COMING FROM MY SEPTEMBER TESTS SOON!

Filming in LA 'CineGear 2015' in Hollywood with Sony A7S, Manfrotto + Rode

APVideo: CineGear 2015 @ Paramount Pictures, LA

It's been a rather amazing few weeks for me here at APVideo. So here is the low down on what I did, what kit I used and what is coming up next!

Jump back to the beginning of June and I get a call from NewsShooter.com asking if I'm available to cover CineGear in Hollywood for them. With an empty space in the diary, I jumped on the chance to visit LA and begun the prep to cover the expo with video.

To familiarise myself with the exhibitors, I checked out the interactive map and visited the websites of companies of interests and viewed the latest press releases to get clued up on the news. (Always be prepared).

Manfrotto provided me with the fantastic Roller Bag 70 for my trip overseas, into which I moulded the foam inserts to protect the cameras and kit I'd be taking. Since it was a short trip, I only took the bare neccessities!!

  • Sony A7S in Movcam cage and Metabones Adapter mk IV
  • Tamron 24-70
  • Nikon 50mm F/1.4
  • Zoom H6
  • Rode Lavalier
  • Manfrotto 755CX-3 + MVH500AH

Told you it was bare!

It was a couple of long flights over to LAX.. Some snaps from the journey on the A7S.

It was my first time flying to America, so I was keen to snap up as much as I can, and enjoy the Virgin Atlantic hospitality!

I highly recommend the Mondrian Hotel on West Sunset Blvd, it is bloody amazing. Rooftop restaurant and bar, amazing hotel views, and staff that feel like family!

View from Mondrian LA

The following morning I constructed the Movcam cage rig with the kit I brought, which compacted all of the filming kit into one tiny hand held rig which I could put on the Manfrotto 755Cx-3 tripod.

I got myself one of these handy little hot/cold shoe mounts for anything with a 1/4" screw hole; in this case I was using it with the Zoom H6 but it fits most accessories. If I were using the Atomos Shogun, I'd of used a magic arm (just for flexibility in adjusting the screen angle), but as I was monitoring the audio with headphones and checked the levels beforehand I didn't need to see the monitor per se. An alternate is to simply use a ball mount, but I find these sometimes don't lock down the position strongly enough (especially cheaper ones).

Very lightweight packing for a 3 night trip.

I took of the video head by unscrewing the locking screws at the base.

I got an UBER from the hotel to the studios, and after registering and waiting for the show to open, I made my way to the stages to begin filming! I had about 10 interviews to do on the first day to get a head start and the main content back to NewsShooter (who are a day ahead time wise).

Cool-Lux, Atomos, SLR Magic, Beeworks and a host of other manufacturers were on the list to capture. For the setup, I shot using PB's recommended video settings (cine-4 etc see previous blog post) with the Zoom H6 recording dual audio both on the stereo XY mic and via the Rode Lavalier which I clipped onto the interviewees.

Thats Andrew from SLR Magic talking about their new Rangefinder, Anamorphot and Noktor lenses.

The plan was to shoot the 10 interviews with plenty of B-roll and begin editing that night. It was a late one, staying up until 4am editing the first batch of videos. I got the SLR Magic one out that morning before my head hit the pillow.

4 hours later.

Up I was to complete the last of the edits in Premiere Pro. The videos follow the same format, so after opening the exported XML sequence from Pluraleyes I could simply drop in the titles and credits, the lower 3rd and QC the video before exporting.

The show opened later that day, so I made my way down that afternoon. The Manfrotto tripod I was using was perfect for this kind of filming. Being mobile and having a small footprint is a real issue when covering events, and you should try and stay as small and quick on your feet as possible.

Michael from ARRI at Cinegear

The rig was so convenient I carried around on my shoulder all day!

That evening it was recovery time from the lack of sleep and jet lag carrying over from the previous night, but while I was putting my feet up watching Jurassic Park in the hotel I had Premiere whizzing away with the new footage I had shot that day.

Because of the format, replication of sequences was rather fast. Using Premiere means no rendering time and instant playback, so I spent little to no time waiting around as I queued up the finalized sequences into Media Encoder, and batch exported while I was editing together the next sequence. Keeping check on the white balance and varying exposure of indoor and outdoor shooting meant no colour correction was needed in the edit, which also sped up the production process, I could get the news from the show quicker out to NewsShooter!

The beauty of shooting on the A7S was that I could shoot at F/11 and beyond outside due to the wonderful Hollywood weather, but inside if I needed extra light I could punch up the ISO to 2400-6000 with no real visual difference (unless you want to pixel peep).

The Rode Lavalier is a real workhorse for me. Before leaving I set it up with the small wind jammer and the Micon-5 XLR adapter so it would plug comfortably into the H6. For an inexpensive microphone it does a fantastic job of capturing the subject and cancelling out the background noise, which at an expo is quite loud in some cases.

In case you need advice on SD cards, I use the Transcend Ultimate 600x 64Gb U3 cards (purply pink label) as they are XAVC and S-log compatible.. Not that I have shot using the S-log yet.

Feel like I should say 'Mirror, mirror, on the huge podium in the centre of my hotel room'.

Just as quickly as I arrived, it was time for me to depart. I got an UBER to LAX where I picked up a couple of snacks to munch on while I edited the remaining videos to be exported when I got back home.

 That guy sitting above my laptop was vaping away on an e-cig by the gate. I thought to myself 'surely this wouldn't be legal in England'.. It isn't!

That guy sitting above my laptop was vaping away on an e-cig by the gate. I thought to myself 'surely this wouldn't be legal in England'.. It isn't!

Bye bye wonderful Mondrian and LA

I returned home after a stop over in Las Vegas for probably about 20 minutes. So no gambling or anything like that as it was a quick transfer. So quick in fact that I needed to run to the gate (again, thanks to Delta, grr).

A fun filled 12 hour flight across the states and Canada, across the ocean and back into England was compiled of all 3 Hobbit films (as I was yet to watch them), followed by a hilarious comedy film called 'What We Do In The Shadows' by the same guys that made 'Flight Of The Concords'.

Bye bye LAX!

Damn its dry down there.. No forests or green!

Overall it was a brilliant working trip to Paramount to cover CineGear 2015 for NewsShooter, and a wonderful experience visiting the US too. I look forward to working again with NewsShooter at future events!

Out filming with the Sony A7S and Atomos Shogun in 4K!

I am still testing out the many brilliant features and benefits of the 4K combo I now have, one biggie was being able to grade the footage much more than what you're able to with internal camera recording.

I headed out to a local country park to catch some of the spring bluebells flowering, as well as to try out the dynamic range of the 4K Prores HQ footage and really push it in the grade.

A couple of photos while I was out and about, lovely day!

I took the Manfrotto 755CX-3 tripod with me as it is brilliantly lightweight, and despite the center column it can get pretty low to the ground for shots needing some perspective.

Still no Movcam cage yet, so I'm pretty nervous about having the Shogun on a ball mount, on the hot shoe, I did take care when moving around and took out the HDMI cable just in case.

I had 3 lenses with me, the Tamron 24-70, Sigma 70-200 and Canon 100mm L as I wanted to have a simple setup, one Manfrotto bag, essential kit, batteries etc.

After watching Philip Bloom's talk hosted by B&H a few months back, I set the camera settings to what he advised and went from there. Using PP7 for S-log increases the native ISO to 3200, so is not practical for bright scenes without ND filters, so here are my settings.

PP6 (allows ISO 200, practical for bright shoots) - Black Level 0, Gamma Cine 4, Color mode S-gamut, Saturation 0, Detail -7.

It was a bright sunny day and the Shogun was the perfect tool for the job. It's screen is very clear, unlike cheaper monitors which don't have a high contrast ratio or use LCD screens. Exposing for the highlights, I used the in-built Waveform monitor to gague exposure as well as the 2:1 crop in for getting critical focus - definitely needed for the wide landscape and macro shots.

You will not be surprised to see the HUGE file size of recording 4K in Prores HQ, averaging at about 2GB for 20 seconds.

It's less than 10 minutes worth of footage, in fact!

I did find this out while I was trying out the different outputs and recording formats.. For the PAL region the A7S has THREE HDMI output settings -

 - 1080 50p, 1080 50i, 4K 25p.

The Shogun will not record 25p footage from the camera when the HDMI output is set to 1080 50p, but you can record 1080 50p slow motion on the Shogun. Remember to set the A7S' recording format to 50p/50, instead of 25p for normal speed filming.

The Shogun will only record 1080 25p footage from the camera when the HDMI output is set to 1080 50i, with a 2:2 frame drop set. Remember to set the A7S' recording format to 25p/50.

You must set the '4K HDMI' setting in the A7S to output the 4K signal, and record in 4K 25p on the Shogun.

As part of the new 4K workflow, I am using Davinci Resolve Lite (FREE) for the colour grading process, but as this is a short video I tried out it's NLE which worked great. Similar look and feel to FCPX, but it gives you the ability to change edit points, manipulate scale, track and much more. It even has a keyer!

First Image - Editing interface, Second Image - Adjusting saturation in Color interface, Third Image - High contrast image BEFORE correction/grade, Fourth Image - High contrast image AFTER correction/grade, Fifth Image - Delivery interface.

Here is the ungraded version, with footage captured on the Shogun.

Here is a work-in-progress edit that is down-ressed to 1080 to upload it to Vimeo, the Youtube version in 4K (remember to change the resolution to 2160) is below!

I look forward to hearing your comments on the  videos I've put up!

APV Now Captures In 4K UHD!

Hello all! Great news comes from APV in the form of the latest revolution in cinematography; capturing and delivering video and media content in 4K (3840x2160p) or Ultra High Definition using the Sony A7S camera and Atomos Shogun recorder.

Seeing the release of both the Sony A7S and Atomos Shogun at industry events, I was so keen to get my hands on this kit. Unlike DSLR's the A7S is mirrorless which means it's body is around 1/3 the size of the Canon 5D mkIII, it has incredible light sensitivity, the features to film in both slow-motion and using the S-Log gamma curve make it an ideal production camera in a tiny body.

I first saw the Shogun outside of an expo at the Shadows and Light workshop, a friend was showing me some footage he shot the evening before on the setup in 4K. He showed me the captured footage, and then applied the LUT in the Shogun to show what the result would be after grading.. I was blown away. Both as a monitor and a recorder, the Shogun excels at capturing HD and 4K video and audio with in-built monitors such as waveform and vectorscope, peaking, zebras, as well as recording in a range of formats at a much higher bit-rate than in camera recording - 220Mbit/s HD and 440Mbit/s 4K (I think) which is perfect for grading and video-focused productions to filmmaking.

I invested into Canon EF equipment a couple of years back as the 5D mkIII was to best option for large sensor filming, so instead of spending out on native Sony E mount lenses I purchased both the Metabones EF-E mount mk IV and the Commlite EF-E mount to use my current lenses.

Also knowing that the batteries for the A7S (FW-50) are much smaller in capacity than the LP-E6 Canon batteries, I ordered another 4 Sony's with the camera and two from Amazon with another charger (EX-Pro). Inevitably, all of the accessories came before the camera did.. So I eagerly charged and labelled up the kit and get it ready for the camera to arrive!

The camera came last week and not having any new toys for a while I was keen to play around and check out the cameras features straight away! Glen came over as the camera arrived, so he became my willing subject. I hooked up the Tamron 24-70 to the Metabones which worked fine and shot some handheld video, as the lenses vibration control was active. I also have an eyecup for the little viewfinder for another point of contact, to reduce the shake if I need to hand-hold for some shots.

As I was waiting for numerous deliveries to arrive (including the Shogun), I was housebound for a while so I made do with the plants in the garden and my cat for things to film. Here's some of the first footage captured -

A7S and Soligor 35-140 with metabones waiting for the Sparrows

A7S and Tamron 24-70 with metabones in the cage. Soon to be replaced by the Movcam rails kit.

A mix of footage shot for the first time on the Sony A7S, probably in No Picture Profile. Really love the image with the lenses that I have, very organic with fantastic light sensitivity. It was also impressive hooking up the Atomos Shogun to the 5D mk III for 1080p in ProRes HQ, which gives much more latitude for colour grading and post work because of the much higher bit rate.

The best friend has bought a swanky new Audi, so he took me for a spin! I was still getting used to the photo mode and controls, it was past 8pm with the sun only just set so the ISO was wacked up reasonably high.

Because the cable for connecting the A7S to the Shogun hadn't arrived yet (from Atomos) I went searching around Epsom with no avail for a micro HDMI to HDMI cable. I ordered one off Amazon for evening delivery, which came while I took the photos of Sams new car!

I was overly happy with the recorded images that I captured in the mean time with the Shogun hooked up to the 5D mk III. I decided to record them in ProRes HQ to see how far I could push the footage in colour correction, post and grading. It worked fantastically, so much in fact that I'm deeply considering teaming the 5D mk III with another Atomos recorder for the same reasons as above.

I finally got my hands on a micro HDMI cable to road test the 4K HDMI output from the A7S to the Shogun, and just as I began to film, Alfie the cat decided he wanted to join in! I don't remember the picture profile, but it was shot with a pretty wide aperture on the Tamron 24-70. I also tried out the down-ressing method that I'll be using for 4K filming but delivering in HD, so I edited the 4K sequence twice, one in native 4K resolution and the other in a 1080p sequence with some clips scaled down or cropped. NOTE - please change the resolution to the highest possible for the best results!

4K still from the Shogun recorder, shot in 4K ProRes HQ

Let me know what you think!

NOTE - Change resolution to 2160!!!

A short first test filming in 3820x2160 UHD-4K resolution in ProRes HQ on the Atomos Shogun, with the Sony A7S camera. No correction/sharpening/grading in camera or post. Exported in H.264 with a target bitrate of 100Mbits, hoping it holds! I tried to shoot some orchids, but my cat Alfie saw what was going on and wanted to join in!

4K version on Vimeo, remember Vimeo does not have 4K playback yet so this has been down-ressed by Vimeo. Please watch the Youtube video above for the 4K version.

As a comparison, this is the down-res version of the 'Creatives and their cats' video originally shot in 3840x2160 4K-UHD using the Atomos Shogun and Sony A7S. View the original here - This version has been scaled down in Premiere by 50%, with some re-framing in a 1080p sequence, with 4K footage. No correction, sharpening, grading in camera or post. Originally shot in ProRes HQ. I tried to shoot some orchids, but my cat Alfie saw what was going on and wanted to join in! The cropping and re-framing of 4K footage for 1080p HD delivery is a brilliant feature to have, meaning high quality footage can be future-proofed and still delivered in great HD resolution.

I also shot some Picture Profile tests to compare the colours, DR, contrast and noise, this is to come later!

APV Filming at Coronation Street, ITV and dock10 Studios for The IABM!

Way back in November, myself and Dick Hobbs began the pre-production of a new training video covering the behind the scenes of a television studio for the IABM. Unfortunately for me, it was difficult to pin down a location that close to Christmas and New Year with access to studios, galleries and other areas. Dick luckily got the go ahead for filming at the Corrie studios mid-way through BVE, so prep quickly began after.

My trusty crew was Glen, who operated the AutoScript for our presenter Georgie, and John Harris on audio (from JHWF). Dick made sure we were all in check with the script while I lugged around the camera and prompter :)

As there were three of us travelling up to Manchester on the Monday night, I chose to drive from Surrey, which was pretty straightforward, just a heck of a long journey to make at the end of the day. We arrived after a couple of toilet and coffee stops at 9:30, dropped the gear and headed to the table Georgie and Dick had. Beer was served and all was well!

As Dick and myself had planned the shoot well, I selected just the right amount of equipment needed. We were on a restricted budget so I opted to stick with my camera and audio setup rather than hire in a camera. We also borrowed an AutoScript from Vitec, to relay the rather technically heavy (at some points) script to our brilliant presenter.

The equipment list (rather sparing for this shoot!):

Canon 5D mk III

Canon 60D

Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8 OS

Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 VC

Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 VC

Canon 50mm F/1.8

Manfrotto 536 Carbon Fibre tripod

Manfrotto 504 Video head

Manfrotto 755CX3 Carbon fibre tripod + MVH500 AH head

Manfrotto Spectra 900FT LED light

Manfrotto Master light stand

Zoom H6 audio recorder

Rode Lavalier microphone

Sennheiser ENG-G3 wireless RxTx for lav mic

AutoScript prompter

All of camera and audio kit fitted into the AWESOME Manfrotto Pro Light 35 Backpack: I use the top compartment for the audio gear and accessories, the main sections for camera storage, and the back compartment for my laptop. It's a very comfortable carry regardless of the weight, and if I was walking/traveling for a longer time I just strapped on the waist support to take the weight off my shoulders. The front pockets are especially handy for grabbing memory card wallets and batteries quickly, as that is the most common thing I go to my bag for! Glen wheeled the prompter station around on it's pelicase, there was no way all of that could have fitted in! I did check the other day for AutoScript on tablets, which would be a much more viable solution for me.

In the MF bag for the big tripod I also brought a set of rails (just in case we needed them for the prompter) and the hydrostatic arm with the super clamp attached. You never know when they will come in handy, and when we were there I spotted one on the set!

Holiday Inn MediaCity

For anyone working at MediaCity needing to spend the night somewhere, the Holiday Inn right in the center is perfect. From above the first floor is the dock10 studios, offices and editing HQ, but you would have no idea it was there when you reach the 8th - 15th floor for your room. Plushly furnished, executive desk/workspace and a wonderful bathroom. One of the best I've been in!!

Day 1

We had a talk about the shoot ahead, as it would be hit and miss on the locations we were aiming to film in due to working around the current productions at Corrie (4 different crews filming that day), we needed to make the most of our available time. After a short walk across the quay, opposite Old Trafford stands the new Coronation Street and ITV Studios.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with coffee, then a guided tour of the facility to get to grips with our new location for the next two days. It was quite nerve-racking for me being a tiny video producer in the shadow of ITV, but I was also in awe of the scale and technology that has been used to make Coronation Street such an iconic television program.

We began the filming in what I now know as the 'Windas' flat, capturing some GV and B-roll of the system cameras, microphone booms, lighting setups and the set itself, clips that would be used throughout the video.

Camera settings: Tungsten white balance to match set lights, sticking to 1/50 shutter, aperture of F/5.6 and ISO ranging from 400-1600.
Mostly shot on Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 and Sigma 70-200 F/2.8.
— Adam

I also shot some more material in the Rovers interior set, which has a new LED lighting rig, in comparison to the other tungsten lit sets. It was impressive being in there, and was much smaller in reality, but we pulled up a chair at one of the booths and started recording the voice overs as the prompter hadn't arrived for the shoot yet!

For lavalier microphones, remember to attach them upwards or downwards depending on your subjects speech to avoid pops and hisses. Try to always record a back up audio track too, just in case your plan fails. Here we have 3 separate tracks recording on the H6: lavalier on presenter, gun mic and the mid side mic attachment on the device.

After recording all of the VO, we headed to the lot of the cobbled streets where a scene was being filmed as we overlooked and walked through! I shot some more cutaways of the street and crew in action on the 5D and 70-200. We had a fantastic guide who gave us many technical secrets into the new production facility, it was fantastic!!

IMG_2027.JPG

The AutoScript had arrived!!! We quickly got set to putting it together, however John, Glen and myself had no experience in putting one together, so to the internet it was! A few minutes later we had the prompter up and running, the camera set, working lights on, microphone levels set and were ready to roll.

As you can see, the normally small 5D and 70-200 filming combo goes out the window when using a prompter. Very front heavy!

Our filming took us all around the studios including Roy's Rolls and the Rovers, showing how a drama program is produced. Our access also allowed us into the production galleries, editing and grading suites for more 'piece to camera' filming as well as capturing plenty of GV showing the equipment in action.

We wrapped up day 1 late that evening which allowed us to capture most of the content for the video: we shot scenes 1 through to 7, great progress and took the pressure off day 2 as we didn't know what access we would have.

When we got back to the hotel, the importing and backing up began. I like to play the 'guess the gigabyte' game, simply guessing the total file size of the captured material. Although we were working loads throughout the day, I think the day 1 total was around 60Gb all in all. I backed up onto 3 drives that night just in case.

Day 2

We started a little later to recover from the long day before, enjoyed a big breakfast, plenty of coffee and headed over to the studios with our suitcases as it was our last day. We had access to the edit and grading suites in the morning, where I shot plenty of B roll just in case, as it turned out we wouldn't get access to the finishing or dubbing suites so this came in handy.

As Corrie filming had finished on the street, we quickly went out to shoot the final 'conclusion' scene of the training video outside the Rovers and on the cobbles. The prompter required a power supply, so we de-rigged it for this scene, I used the 5D and 70-200 only for these shots. Most of the time I shot at around F/11-16 as it was rather bright outside, but it also keeps some of the background visible instead of blowing it out with bokeh.

The machine room was a challenge due to the heavy air conditioning for the racks and racks of networking, storage and server equipment to keep it cool. Not particularly for the vision, but John did a great job of operating the H6 and monitoring the audio with so much background noise. The gun mic was out of the question, so we captured solely using the Rode Lavalier mic, which worked well for this environment.

As a back up I also captured plenty of B roll, and John captures a voice over from Georgie of the machine room scene just in case the native sound was too distracting. Luckilly, the Rode lavalier coped well!!

I had access to the working production galleries as scenes were being recorded under Tony Warren, Coronation Streets award winning director. It was amazing to watch him and his team work! I'm not allowed to talk about what I saw being captured though :)

That was the last filming stop at Corrie before we departed, saying a massive thank you to our guide and staff at the facility who were so welcoming and helpful. It was a breezy walk back to the Holiday Inn, as I thought I had lost my car keys, before the very long drive home!

The team did a fantastic job over the intense two day shoot, it was Glen's first job operating a prompter and although it was a challenge putting it together he quickly picked up the operation. For me, it was awesome seeing the technology behind a drama serial that captures its programs like live television. Being a completely new facility, the studios had brand new vision mixers, racks, lighting and sound control which was fascinating to see and learn more about.

Highlights/reel of the Coronation Street video shoot coming soon!

#MadeWithManfrotto

BVE Show 2015!

Wow what a show! I cut my stay short to come home and begin editing, which I am still working on now.. But here are a couple of photos from around the show (from my phone) of the various interviews and people I saw!

Exclusive blogs coming later from: Rode, Movidiam, JVC, Sony, Manfrotto and more.

Productive first month of 2015!

As it reads above, I have been very busy recently with pre-production for a number of up coming projects, one of which is with Screen Subtitling Systems!

Screen is creating new branding for sales and online, and to go with that I've been set the task of producing a number of animations for them. I've done plenty of research into Screen, and have a great relationship with the marketing team, which means we have very good communication.

Tip No.1: build relationships from the outset of meeting someone.

Since our last meeting, I've developed a number of mood boards and narrative/VO ideas of the script/dialogue and a storyboard to go with it to represent the animations on screen. After drawing a number of ideas and storyboards I managed to narrow down the content for the first animation, and the graphics as well. I've then worked this into an After Effects storyboard with still images for preparation for a presentation.

Screen animation mind map

Tp No.2: preparation and planning what you are going to do, for when, any why is really important. In terms of the animations I'm working with, that means producing mood boards, storyboards, sketches and basic designs, building into digital mock ups. These can then be used as elements in the animations!

I've also been out with Glen, we had a walk around Leith Hill a couple of weekends ago, I took the 24-70 and 100mm L on the 5D mk III. The hill was so high up that we were in cloud, combined with a constant beautiful golden hour made for beautiful photos. Glen took his film camera with him, and captured some gorgeous shots. Here's some of mine..

I'm still working on the videography business/investment post, it is a long one as you can imagine but it will be coming soon. I'll be going the the CVP Sony A7S event featuring Philip Bloom on the 11th which will be a great contributor to my knowledge. As well as narrowing down potential kit choices for this years video productions, I may be able to get some info from the CVP team about my potential kit choices and finance options.

UPDATE (06/02/2015) Canon have now officially announced two new 5D model DSLR’s with a 50MP count, with a photography focus rather than video. This reinforces industry voices that Canon are pushing video pro’s up to their high end cinema cameras.. Sony for me I think!
— http://www.newsshooter.com/2015/02/06/canon-launch-5ds-and-5ds-r-video-features-take-back-seat-to-high-res-stills/

Tip No.3: Never stop learning. Get yourself to BVE for FREE from the 24th-26th Feb for seminars on 4K, editing, lighting, broadcast and the great expo!

Lastly, back in the beginning of January I was out filming Sarah and Matt's wedding. I started with the preparations while Glen was at the venue capturing some shots of the location, Matt and the guests arriving. I had the Pro Media Gear Dual-arc slider on Manfrotto 055 Pro-B legs, with a range of lenses for shooting in potential low light (not knowing what the day or location might turn out like later on, and if the weather changes..)

 Chosen equipment for filming a funky wedding - Canon 5D plus a range of fast zooms and primes. Not to forget audio!

Chosen equipment for filming a funky wedding - Canon 5D plus a range of fast zooms and primes. Not to forget audio!

I captured some of the days footage in 50fps slow mo, when the light was available for a little bit of luxury with moving shots. When in video mode on the 5D mk III the 50fps mode is only available in 720p, not 1080p. This does make the footage softer, but I've found using the Red Giant 'Instant 4K' plug-in works well to upscale the clips to 1080, and sharpen them a little.

Sarah and Matt

Throughout the day I switched mainly between the Tamron 24-70 and Canon 100mm L for wide/standard framing and then more detail/close ups. I've found this works well as there is no 24-135 F/2.8.. If you are working with a Canon 60D, or an APS-C camera you get a lovely look when using an 85mm or 100mm (as the focal length is multiplied), with a pretty bokeh as well. For cool-perspective ultra wide angle, the Samyang 14mm T/3.1 works a treat, for skate videos and music videos where you want to warp reality a little!

There will be more on the wedding film production in an up coming Manfrotto Ambassador blog!

Tip No.4: tell a story through your video/film, narrative-speaking there is a beginning, middle and end set around key events. It may sound like redundant advice, but many videos I watch fail to build the narrative or story through the visuals. It provides an immersive experience for your viewers, getting them involved with what you've produced.

*Now following up a few days later, the meeting with Screen went very well, I traveled up to their Suffolk HQ, a beautiful old building in the country. Myself, the marketing dept and business development were present as I showed my basic concepts and ideas, and we discussed further the ideas and terminology.

Tip No.5: if you're working with clients in a different industry to yours, do your best to learn as much as you can about their business, products, services, strategies, and what their clients want.

This has been fantastic progress for the end of January, which is usually a slow month for productions. With the wedding film almost complete, and the design beginning for the Screen Systems project I am confident it's the beginning to a great year. Not to mention the potential of IABM event coverage too! I'm due to visit the IABM team next week to talk further about this years videography.

After the CVP event with PB I'm sure to have worked to some conclusion for the video business investment post, but it may have to wait until BVE.. We shall see!

 Some macro photography going on in the background, little herbs going!

Some macro photography going on in the background, little herbs going!

 From a quick walk in the morning.. Kids in Epsom and Ewell leaving their childhood behind!

From a quick walk in the morning.. Kids in Epsom and Ewell leaving their childhood behind!

Keep an eye out for my new Manfrotto Ambassador blog about filming weddings with Manfrotto gear, and I'm going up to London tonight for some night photography so I'll share the results with you later!

Camera Conundrums

As you'll know, we've seen a big influx of cameras focused on upping the picture resolution and others battling with dynamic range. This week, AJA announced their 4K CION camera is now shipping, so I checked out some of the specs and test videos that they produced to see how it weighs up against the competition!

To see that these pictures are ungraded is pretty stunning. The colours are very natural, as well as the dynamic range, quite noticable in the first couple of shots of a lady with light skin on a textured background, and a lady with dark skin on a muted background. The detail usually lost in hair keeps its definition without fringing, and the shot of the eye shows how 'clean' the image is.. Watching the video, I get more and more amazed at the quality of the light captured 'straight out of camera', without grading or corrections.

 Copyright AJA.

Copyright AJA.

The release of the CION comes shortly after the delayed release of the Atomos Shogun, a 4K recorder and full HD monitor, which allows images to be captured 'straight from the sensor' in a higher codec and format than recorded in camera. Atomos teamed with Sony to ensure the A7S and FS7 are compatible for 4K recording, which opens the floodgates for video producers to capture high quality video content for a considerably lower price than a high end camera. The recording media is standard 2.5" SSD's, via HDMI or other connections, meaning the Shogun can be teamed with many DSLR's and video cameras to be used as a primary recording device (many RED cinematographers use the Shogun for secondary proxy recording), and enhance the video functions to analyze the quality of both the image and sound.

The other end of the spectrum with internal 4K recording, of course is the Panasonic GH4 which I have worked with before. Ergonomically, for run and gun shooting it has a great form; small camera body and micro four thirds lenses dramatically reduce the kit you need to carry, as well as having a great power consumption rate. The GH4 captures 4K at a crop factor of 2.2x, which inherently means you are double the focal distance closer to your subject, but it does so at a high bit-rate of up to 100Mbps. Although in low light the camera does not stand up to larger sensor cameras, with a £1000 price tag and options to add gamma adjustments, it seems like a no brainer, right?

2015 is going to hold some very exciting developments in the world of cameras, and the way the picture and sound is recorded, I believe. We have yet to see any competition from Canon, apart from the C100 mark II (I don't believe this is a competing camera), so it will be interesting to see how they market their high end Cinema EOS cameras now that there are many 'just-as-good-if-not-better' solutions out there from other manufacturers. By NAB I expect there to be announcements from Canon, which I look forward to seeing because it will determine whether I remain a Canon videographer or move over to another camera system like many have done so before me.

On that note, it's time for me to put the feet up in front of the telly and munch on a mince pie before I head out later on this afternoon for a wintery walk around the countryside!

christmas tree presents

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year, and remember, capture moments that matter :)

Welcome to the boardroom

I'm doing a few productions for the IABM in the lead up to their annual conference in December, which included a video shoot in London at IBM; a panel discussion on the key topics of the conference, and the industry at the moment.

John Ive, the director of business and technology at the IABM chaired the discussion, with six of the top decision makers in the industry around the table, which included: Dominic Stone (Our host at IBM and multimedia executive), Rob Roberts (Avid), Marc Risby (Boxer), David Peto (Aframe), Chris Steele (Marquis), Paul Glasgow (Chyron Hego).

It was an early start for myself and Glen, to get a head start in the traffic heading up to the South Bank. Usually I would get the train, but as this was a full setup I required my little cars assistance to get the equipment there!

 Glen at IBM

Glen at IBM

 Me at IBM!

Me at IBM!

We arrived at the IBM office on the South Bank with plenty of time to spare, and after unloading the equipment in the loading bay we parked up in the National Theater and met our host for the day, Dominic. A wonderful chap with a wealth of experience as a television producer, many thanks for your hospitality throughout the day!

 Trolley fulla gear!

Trolley fulla gear!

 What the conference room at IBM looked like before we got our hands on it!

What the conference room at IBM looked like before we got our hands on it!

Once we had access to the conference room, we began the setup and moved any unnecessary furniture out of the way. Manfrotto has greatly helped me on this as much of the kit is new and definitely new to this kind of video environment too, and after IBC I was very keen to try out the new tripods; which now can be lowered to almost ground level with innovative locking joints. Also, although I'm using a 5D and telephoto lenses to shoot with (so the load is not very heavy), but having steady and smooth shots are imperative to keeping a good composition, both the tripod and video head allow me to achieve shake free pans and tilts, which can be counter balanced depending on your camera, lens and accessory setup.

The new light stands are awesome. I know it is something simple, but it makes a massive difference. Stands and poles can often get mislaid, damaged in transit or in use, or simply can't withhold a wide variety of lights and accessories. These on the other hand have a brilliant locking system to hold multiple stands together, meaning they can be carried and transported very easily. They are not heavy, and can take a heavy load (not that these SPECTRA 1X1 LED panels are that heavy)!

 Panel video setup with Manfrotto 1x1 bi-colour LED light

Panel video setup with Manfrotto 1x1 bi-colour LED light

After lunch, we checked the colour temperature on the four lights; the two front facing the panel, one giving a back light onto the speakers and background, and a smaller 900 panel to push a little extra light into the right panelists. All of the lights are bi-colour, which gives maximum flexibility when the video scenario changes so frequently.

The lights I used were: Manfrotto Spectra 1x1FT x 3, Spectra 900FT and the 1004BAC pro light stands.

To make sure all of the cameras were exposed and set correctly, we did a custom white balance and orientated around the cameras and lights to make sure we achieved the best out of the setup.

I transported the camera and audio equipment in the Manfrotto Pro Backpack50 as its large capacity was required for the amount of kit I needed which included:

  • Canon 5D mkIII
  • Canon 60D
  • Tamron 24-70
  • Sigma 70-200
  • Samyang 35mm
  • Samyang 14mm
  • Zoom H1
  • Zoom H6
  • Sennheizer ENG-G3
  • Rode Lavalier
  • Roto-mic
  • Canon batteries, AA batteries for microphones and audio recorders, chargers for all.

I also had the Manfrotto 536 MPRO tripod and 504 HD video head in the large tripod bag, and the ProCX-3 and Pro-B for the other cameras.

 Marc Risby, one of the panelists tweets about his experience!

Marc Risby, one of the panelists tweets about his experience!

While we were setting up!

Adam Plowden Video setup

Shortly after our panelists arrived, and they were eager to get started in discussion; I put the lapel mics on and plugged them into the H6. John kindly allowed us to use a couple of cameras and microphones for the extensive number of panelists. The Sony ECM-77 are great lav mics with good audible response, as is the Rode Lavalier which I used with the MiCon-1 connector into the ENG-G3 wireless kit.

I got the panel talking for a practice run through while I checked the audio levels on the H6, which was placed under John's chair (due to the cable length I could not monitor the camera from my filming position).

If you've been following me on Twitter, you'll have seen I have been looking for a wide angle lens for both an APS-C and FF sensor (so far Canon's 16-35 F/2.8 is best), so I was without my Tamron 17-50mm (my standard lens on the 60D as a wide). To compensate for this, I alternated my usual video setup from 5D and Sigma 70-200mm for an MCU and 60D and 17-50mm for a wide to; 5D and Tamron 24-70mm for a wide and 60D and 70-200mm for an MCU which allowed me to capture a good wide angle of the whole panel, as well as a great MCU on the speaker.

The 504HD video head has integrated fluid drag and resistance which makes panning and tilting a dream for video; it is smooth, yet easily changed depending on the subject and timing of the camera moves. A large pan-handle makes the motion firm and steady throughout.

With a vast experience in broadcasting from all of the panelists, it was difficult not to get distracted into the conversation. After each discussion we shot some VoxPops for the conference with the other panelists that did not participate in that panel, which will be used throughout the presentations and panels at the IABM annual conference in December.

Unlike the Zoom H4N, the H6 has an incredible power consumption rate meaning on four AA batteries it can record multiple channels (four in this care) for a good 2 hours without needing to change! This meant I could rely on it recording stand-alone under Johns seat without monitoring, after each channel was correctly set (with a general limiter on).

In terms of the camera settings I was using:

 - VisionTech2 Picture Profile

 - F/4.5 on the MCU so focusing between panelists was minimum

 - Because of light setting, as well as not much fast motion happening I reduced the electronic shutter to 1/33.

 - ISO between 400 and 640 due to the good light produced from the 1x1's!

Once the filming was complete, we quickly de-rigged the setup so we could get out of London as quickly as possible; not to get held up with traffic queues etc.. Thankfully, all of the Manfrotto gear we had is fast to setup and tear down so we were ready to leave within half an hour or so!

Once I got back home, I begun the ingest and backup process; remembering to have 3 copies of the footage and audio on separate drives in case any fail. I also began re-naming the files so it is easier for me to locate specific panelists microphones when doing the audio mix-down.

Although the Zoom H6 is an awesome recorder, it for some reason records track 3 and 4 together (as a stereo channel) so I had to split the Tr3-4 into separate Track 3 and Track 4 files using Audition. This is a simple process, but I wonder if this can be changed in the device itself?

splitting stereo track mix adobe audition APV

Here you can see the top track is different to the other, this is because the T3 and T4 inputs were from different speaker microphones, but recorded together. To resolve this, I simply solo'd the track I needed, selected ALL and copied, created a new audio stereo track and pasted the track there; this creates a Left or Right track for you in the new audio file.

replaced stereo audio file APV

Here, I've created a new stereo audio track and pasted the solo'd track into it. The new stereo audio file then replicated the audio on both tracks. I then saved this as a new audio track.

In Pluraleyes, I created the four camera sources and imported their respective video files, and then singularly imported each audio track into a new audio recorder as a new audio source (instead of importing the five tracks into the same audio recorder). This would allow me to control not only each track individually, but also when I separate the four sections into their own multi-camera sequences I have separate audio tracks rather than one reallyyy long one.

importing footage to pluraleyes APV
separate audio recorder devices per microphone APV

You can see here that the audio tracks from each microphone are separated in the sync.

video audio sync pluraleyes complete APV

I was amazed at the speed of the sync, only 1 minute 8 seconds to sync all of the video and audio from many different sources! I then exported the sync as both an XML and XML with replaced audio from Pluraleyes, and created a new Premiere Pro project for this production.

I imported the XML file into the new project, which imports and creates a new sequence with the synced footage in place. So easy! I then placed the footage into their respective sequences depending on the discussion topic, and prepared them for multi-camera editing!

adobe premiere pro sync footage edit APV
synced footage adobe premiere pro APV

The sequences are now ready to be cut using the Multi-camera interface! Unfortunately I can't show anymore as this is an IABM member exclusive video, but I hope you have enjoyed seeing how videos like this are produced on a small scale!

Seasons Are Changing

Here it is! A collaboration between Tristan Noon (composer) and myself, expressing the transition into Autumn. Filmed at NT Winkworth Arboretum and the North Downs Way (Ranmore Common), and composed with the talent of both Tristan and a clarinetist, we wished to coney the continual and dramatic cycle of the seasons through both the visuals and sound.

I approached Tristan to work collaboratively on this project, and he was happy to work with me, and what an experience it has been! I can extremely commend Tristan on his musical talent in both playing immersing melodies on piano and composing scores. Please check out his portfolio of work here :www.soundcould.com/tristannoon

Thinking of making the jump to 4K?

You are in the same boat as me.. Having bought my 5D mkIII last December, there was no accessible 4K option until the Panasonic GH4 made its appearance in the Spring. I was devastated. Having invested heavily in Canon gear, any future move I make will need to fit with my current EF mount lenses, not to mention everything else such as batteries, memory cards and my overall production workflow.

http://www.eoshd.com/2014/04/panasonic-gh4-vs-sony-a7s-compared-wins-4k-battle-paper/

(EOS HD comparison between the cameras).

At the moment, there are two options on the table. Said to be like comparing apples and oranges, the Sony A7s and GH4 are the current competing professional cameras that offer 4K functionality, however for people that own the cameras and have been comparing the two have found it difficult. This is for a few reasons:

Sensor size: The A7s is full frame, the GH4 is MFT.

4K in camera: The GH4 can record 4K internally, the A7s requires an external recorder such as an Odyssey or Shogun.

Philip Bloom using the Q7, from: http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/19/magician/

Jeromy, CEO of Atomos talking to me and Sam from The IABM about new products and the IBC Show.

Now, many people will be arguing that what does the increased resolution allow you to do, that HD doesn't? The image produced from the 5D is great; good in low light, versatile, fits my style of filming... But it also has big downfalls for being a DSLR, and not a video camera.

Something that is unique about these two cameras is that their 'out of the box' functionality has been fine tuned for video applications, as well as high end photography. This is what Canon has left behind in their non Cinema line cameras, and Magic Lantern has struck gold on with their firmware hack enabling awesome video functions.

I have only recently installed ML on my 5D mkIII due to the current firmware on the camera. It was shipped with version 1.2.3, I was hesitant to downgrade the firmware and was patient in waiting for ML to develop a tested and working version for 1.2.3. Now having access to on screen aid such as waveform monitors and audio levels make such a difference, and restart movie for the longer filming durations is great. It turns your 'photography' camera into basically a video camera.

From: About DSLR (Youtube).

For my type of videography, the benefits of having not only 4K, but a wider range of options for recording will allow me to crop and downscale any 4K acquisition to HD and hold incredible picture detail, dynamic range and depth of field.

The recording bit rates are higher, meaning more data is stored for post production editing, compositing or grading.

Lastly, it should increase the production value of what I produce. Now, I am not stating that better equipment makes better videos. It does give you the opportunity to step up with what you can do in your work, and especially as it keeps you up to date in a world of ever changing and improving technology.

So, what is my investment cost?

This is dependent on your current shooting kit, and whether you can merge your current system with a new one. Perhaps you already shoot Sony or Panny, so you're in luck.

For me, all my lenses are Canon EF mount, some are electronic, others are manual, so an adapter would be needed in my case. The price of this is dependent on the glass you use, or are going to use.

Let's look at the Panasonic GH4 to start with.

Panasonic GH4 (body only) - £1296.00

Metabones Speedbooster EF to MFT (smart with electronics) - £468.00

GH4 batteries x 2 -£130

Transcend 600x ultimate SD card x 2 (Amazon price) - £36

Now, as the GH4 is MFT, I might purchase a wide angle lens because my current ultra wide angle 14mm T/3.1 would be almost 28mm T/6 due to the sensor equivalence. So, my options would be either:

Panasonic 12 - 35mm F/2.8 - £829.00

I did have the Samyang 12mm T/2, realizing it does not come in MFT mount.. So the above would be my option. I have used it before, it has great OIS and has a decent depth of field for an F/5.6 equivalent lens.

Total GH4 investment inc extra lens - £2759.00 (excluding extra lens - £1930.00)

That £1930 was pretty much the same price I paid for the 5D mkIII body only.

Panasonic GH4 basket

Now the Sony A7s.

Sony A7s (body and battery/PWR kit) - £2034.00

Metabones Speedbooster EF to E (smart with electronics) - £316.46

Transcend 600x ultimate SD card x 2 (Amazon price) - £36

The A7s does not record 4K internally, so I would need to purchase the Atomos Shogun recorder at - £1464.00

Also, as the A7s is compact in size, a cage is required to make it more accessible with the recorder and mics etc.

Movcam A7s cage - £148.02

Total A7s investment - £3998.48

(All prices are including VAT from CVP).

Sony A7s basket
Adam using the Panasonic GH4

Now.. I've shot on the Panasonic GH4 and I like it. When I've talked to Panasonic reps about the product they all had the same comment that Panasonic listened to videographers, and you can tell. The available recording formats and codecs allow a range of uses for the camera, and the features it packs into its tiny form are perfect for those that already utilize DSLR for video.

(Look back to earlier this year to the Park Camera's Panasonic open day - https://ajp1991.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/meet-the-panasonic-gh4/)

Personally, and this is very subjective to the way I was filming when using the camera, the captured video looked like video. Some will understand what I mean, others won't, but for those that have been shooting on a full frame camera, the 'look' is there. Obviously the sensor plays a large part in that, but if I purchased a GH4 kit outright (disregarding my current EF mount lenses).. I would purchase the Voightlander 25mm and the trusted Samyang cine lenses which might just combat the 'look' issue I feel like I have. As well as high quality ND filters so my shutter can remain at 1/50th.

Really quick GH4 test:

Trying out the 4K, and again a basic test:

(Please if you have experience, tips, footage or photos that you would like to share, please do!)

What am I going to do then?

My dad taught me something really great; good things come to those who wait. In other words, have patience.

As others test out, review and produce videos using the GH4 and A7s (and other cameras that pop up here and there), I will be closer to making my decision. For now, I know to hold off. A good thing for me to do would be to road test both cameras, work it with all of it's video functions and produce a couple of vids that I can look back on. The folks at Park Camera's are great at in store demos, but I can also wait for BVE in Feb 2015.

So, I can frustratingly wait a little longer for my jump to the next innovation of video production and delivery.

In the mean time I can always look at Blackmagic Design's options that shoot 4K, as well as the Apertus AXIOM modular camera, and keep the new Arri Alexa 65 and RED Dragon for my dreams.

axiom-modules-06[1]

From - https://www.apertus.org/