Video

The Making Of 'The Great Outdoors' For Manfrotto

Get behind the scenes with our production for Manfrotto's 'The Great Outdoors' campaign, featuring ZEISS Milvus Super Speed prime lenses and the DJI Mavic Air.

Spring is here, and so are Manfrotto's new backpacks in the form of the Pro Light Cinematic Expand, and Pro Light Cinematic Balance. They are larger than the original Pro Light range which makes them ideal for carrying a plethora of filmmaking gear, in this case the ZEISS Milvus Super Speed prime lenses, DJI Mavic Air and Zhiyun Tech Crane 2.

 Checking out the views with the Manfrotto Pro Light Cinematic Expand backpack and ZEISS Milvus Super Speed 1.4/25.

Checking out the views with the Manfrotto Pro Light Cinematic Expand backpack and ZEISS Milvus Super Speed 1.4/25.

I headed out to the beautiful Surrey Hills to test out the new backpack and absorb the landscapes while out filming. Rich accompanied me to capture some awesome behind the scenes photos and video content too.

We spent a rainy day wandering around Holmbury St Mary and Leith Hill, recce'ing locations for filming that week. Luckily for us, the sun shone through the clouds for our 3 days filming!

Here is the kit list for the shoot:

  • Sony a7S II (with the SmallRig cage)

  • Sony a6500

  • Canon 5D III (BTS stills)

  • ZEISS Milvus Super Speed Primes (1.4/25, 1.4/35, 1.4/50, 1.4/85)

  • Zhiyun Crane 2

  • DJI Mavic Air

  • Canon 25-105mm F/4

  • Canon 17-40mm F/4

  • Samyang 35mm T/1.5

  • Manfrotto NITRO N8 video head and 535 MPRO tripod

All of the main filming kit fitted into the Manfrotto Pro Light Cinematic Expand.

 The range of equipment used in The Great Outdoors filming. Inc Manfrotto NITRO N8, 535 MPRO, ZEISS Milvus Super Speed Primes

The range of equipment used in The Great Outdoors filming. Inc Manfrotto NITRO N8, 535 MPRO, ZEISS Milvus Super Speed Primes

Choosing The Surrey Hills Locations

We captured some fantastic shots around the hills, featuring well known beauty spots like Leith Hill. Going on an adventure around familiar and unfamiliar territory, capturing the environment and landscapes that surrounded us was a great way to test the kit.

To add to the narrative of the production, Scott from The Surrey Hills Adventure Company invited us to the lagoon where he instructs SUP (stand up paddleboarding) as well as bushcraft, to shoot some material there. The weather wasn't the best, but Scott headed out on the paddleboard which made for some great aerial shots.

The sharpness of the ZEISS Milvus Super Speed 85mm was ideal for getting shots of the boat house, which was deliberately framed like a Wes Anderson shot!

 Scott from The Surrey Hills Adventure Company taking his SUP for a spin.

Scott from The Surrey Hills Adventure Company taking his SUP for a spin.

The ZEISS Milvus Super Speed Primes have a constant aperture of F/1.4 and can have the gear ring attached for use with a follow focus system. The lenses are of incredible visual quality (rendering 6K plus resolution images), and were ideal for filming on the Sony a7S II with the Sigma MC-11 adapter. I rigged up the camera and lens in the Small Rig cage, and attached the Manfrotto Follow Focus too, for precise focus pulling control at wide apertures.

 The gear ring attached to the ZEISS Milvus 1.4/85 for a Manfrotto follow focus unit

The gear ring attached to the ZEISS Milvus 1.4/85 for a Manfrotto follow focus unit

For the silky smooth motion shots, the a7SII was rigged up with the Zhiyun Tech Crane 2, and even with the heavy ZEISS Milvus lenses, the gimbal performed very well (upon balancing correctly). The stabilised sensor aids greatly to reduce the up and down motion of walking, with the Crane 2 keeping everything else lovely and steady. As a handheld gimbal, I cannot recommend it enough.

Working With The DJI Mavic Air

I had the opportunity to shoot some lovely aerials around the area too on the DJI Mavic Air. This is my first little drone venture and is fantastic fun. The Fly More combo has enough batteries for between 45 minutes and 1 hours and comes with a nice carry bag too. I've managed to fit the drone, 3 batteries, controller and a set of Polar Pro ND filters in there too.

 The DJI Mavic Air is a fantastic addition to the kit bag (Manfrotto Pro Light Cinematic Expand), and fits into the bag very well!

The DJI Mavic Air is a fantastic addition to the kit bag (Manfrotto Pro Light Cinematic Expand), and fits into the bag very well!

By the way, those Polar Pro ND filters are really needed to keep the shutter at 1/50 or 1/100 for slow mo. I've set the drone to Cinelike-D profile with reduced contrast, and then applying an S-like curve in post to bring back the colour and contrast. Shooting in 4K and 2.5K resolutions is great for post-production flexibility, when delivering a HD sequence.

Another technique to improve the colour richness, especially in the sky is to export the Mavic Air footage from your NLE as a PNG sequence, and then import it into Lightroom to apply the 'Dehaze' tool, which makes the colours more vibrant. It's a bit of a round-trip, but this effect/feature isn't available in Premiere Pro CC, yet.

One downside to the DJI Mavic Air is that the shadows are quite noisy, even when the image is exposed well, so keep an eye out for that. Below are some of the outtake drone shots of the Surrey Hills from the campaign.

The edit was where the story of 'The Great Outdoors' was to be built, and with some voice over recording and subtle soundtrack, the first part of the video began to come together. There was a lot to say about the shoot and the Pro Light Cinematic Expand backpack, in such a short amount of time. The visuals had to tell the story more than just what I was saying.

Rather than making the campaign video just a review, I chose to make the second part of the video different; changing the soundtrack and pace. This part was showing what you can do with the kit, what you can create and what stories you can tell.

I must say a massive thank you to Rich Tarr who accompanied myself on this production, capturing the BTS photos and video content. Without him, this couldn't have been possible! Also to Scott from The SHAC, if you're into outdoors, seriously check them out!

 Rich Tarr, BTS producer

Rich Tarr, BTS producer

 Rich getting back to basics

Rich getting back to basics

My verdict on the Pro Light Cinematic Expand? It's come with me for every shoot since this campaign. It's large and comfortable enough to carry a two camera setup with a set of 4/5 lenses and a telephoto. There is always extra room for mics and clamps, stands and the like by expanding the bag or making use of the quick access pockets. Try the bag out for yourself, it really suited my filming kit choice.

Overall, the campaign had a great reception and myself, Rich and Scott were really pleased with the result. To add to that, ZEISS will also be featuring a blog post and unique video about using the Milvus Super Speed prime lenses on their LENSPIRE website, so keep an eye out for that soon!

If you've got any questions about the Manfrotto Pro Light Cinematic Expand, filming with the ZEISS Milvus Super Speeds, flying with the DJI Mavic Air, then just get in touch!

Zhiyun-Tech Crane 2: The Best Hand Held Gimbal Out There?

Zhiyun-Tech has taken the indie film world by storm over the last year. Their products are affordable and produce results that can be easily compared to much more costly gimbal systems. I've been using the Crane 2 for months now, here is my experience of using it.

Note: I am a Sony shooter so won't be looking in depth at the capabilities of the Crane 2 with other manufacturers, I have done some follow focus tests with the Canon 5D III as an example.

Feature wise, the Zhiyun Tech Crane 2 packs much more into the gimbal than the Crane 1 and Crane v2 combined. It's increased payload means that shooters using Canon 5D's or Sony a7's with Metabones adapters can comfortably operate the gimbal with less stress on the motors. I've even seen Canon cinema cameras, RED cameras and Sony FS5's rigged on them!

 Using the Zhiyun Crane 2 while filming for Manfrotto

Using the Zhiyun Crane 2 while filming for Manfrotto

A brand new feature is the follow focus, in which I've seen some great examples of Crane 2 operators pulling and tracking focus on moving subjects. Zhiyun Tech has since updated the gimbal firmware so that a number of the camera control features are now available when filming on Canon, Sony, Nikon and Panasonic cameras!

The biggest improvement for me has been using a Manfrotto standard quick release plate, that simply slides on and off the gimbal. It means you can go from filming on a tripod or monopod straight onto the Crane 2. No hassle, no screws to undo and then re-balance the gimbal. It's simple, and it works.

Zhiyun Crane 2 Manfrotto Quick Release Plate

On a recent shoot, I swapped between filming with the Sony a7S II and Sony a6500 on the Crane 2, which was ideal!

Dual handles for the Crane 2 allow for more accessories such as a monitor or microphone to be added to the setup. There is also a follow focus unit now available too, that hooks up to the focus wheel on the handle. For more info about the gimbal and accessories, check out the product page here.

I use the Zhiyun Crane 2 on pretty much all of my video shoots, and combining it with 4K or slow motion really adds a level of production value that I hadn't been able to achieve before. Check out the next blog on the making of 'The Great Outdoors' for more gimbal action with the ZEISS Milvus Super Speed Primes!

'The F Word' Kingston University Creative Technologies Guest Lecture

Here at APVideo we are advocates for the growth and development of new members in the creative industries, students being one aspect of this. We occasionally guest lecture for the Creative Technologies courses at Kingston University.

 The F Word Creative Technologies Guest Lecture at Kingston University

The F Word Creative Technologies Guest Lecture at Kingston University

Here are the lecture notes and podcast entitled 'The F Word'. Can you guess what the F word is?

You probably guessed it, freelancing was the topic of the guest lecture at Kingston University for students in the 'Creative Technologies' courses. I graduated in Television and Video Tech (a course that is sadly no longer running) back in 2013/14, and since then freelancing has been a big part of the journey I'm currently on.

I showed a number of films that I worked on, including the BTS film for 'OSTRICH' which was created to promote the Tokina Cinema Lenses;

More recently, I worked with HaZ Dulull on his latest feature entitled 'The Beyond';

Later in the lecture, I showed a diagram that a TV producer showed me on a packed DLR train after BVE a couple of years ago. It's a graphical way of working out the steps to get to where you want to be, whether that is for work or for creativity. I've called it 'The 4 stages of career development and creative enlightenment!'

 The 4 stages of career development and creative enlightenment!

The 4 stages of career development and creative enlightenment!

Enjoy the podcast and videos, it was great to go back again and I look forward to the workshops that are in the plans.

Prime Lenses for Sony E Mount Cameras? ZEISS Loxia Prime Lens Review

Prime Lenses for Sony E Mount Cameras? ZEISS Loxia Prime Lens Review

Prime lenses for Sony E mount cameras? I checked out the ZEISS Camera Lense Loxia prime lenses with the Sony a7S, Zhiyun Crane and Atomos Shogun. Photo by Lucy McPhee.

Movement For Video: Sliders, Gimbals and More!

Movement For Video: Sliders, Gimbals and More!

To move or not to move? There are many reasons to use both motivated and unmotivated movement while filming, but how can you achieve it? A slider? A Gimbal?

From Conferences to Award Ceremonies, Filming Events; My Tips and Tricks

From Conferences to Award Ceremonies, Filming Events; My Tips and Tricks

 The awards ceremony was part of the event video coverage.

The awards ceremony was part of the event video coverage.

Filming and videography for business conferences, presentations or award ceremonies are a staple of the work calendar, but how can you turn a rather simple event into a video people will want to watch?

I take a look at the techniques, tips and tricks I use when capturing events with video, often with a same day turnaround.

Be Minimal With Equipment

You’ve all probably seen the ‘what’s in my kit bag’ photos and videos, and yes it’s fantastic to have a variety of lenses, camera bodies, microphones and other kit for any job that could come around the corner. However, I’ve found that having a minimalist approach to equipment is necessary for event coverage. For this shoot, I used the Sony a7S, in the Movcam cage.

For lenses, a standard zoom lens like a 24-70mm covers wide establishing shots of the location, audience or stage, as well as closer mid shots, possibly of details such as the event branding, or for interviews with attendees. A telephoto lens, or a prime is a great additional lens to have for closer shots of the subjects, or needing a shallow depth of field, or more light in darker scenarios. I also used the Samyang 35mm T/1.5 and 85mm T/1.5.

A sturdy tripod with a fluid video head will give you steady shots, with smooth panning and tilting for some additional movement. Even a small tripod like the Manfrotto Befree Live is a fantastic option that can be easily carried around and used at any time. Having a tripod for interviews is also key, to keep the viewers’ attention on the interviewee. The Manfrotto 755 CX 3 accompanied myself on this shoot.

Manfrotto Pro Light 35 Backpack and 755 CX 3 tripod.

Sound is often at the bottom of the pile, but many options for small and high quality microphones are out there, like the Rode VideoMicro. Whether it’s capturing some dialogue from a presentation, or an interview, what you hear builds up the atmosphere of what you see in the video. I’d also recommend a Sennheiser AVX lavalier (clip on) microphone for interviews too.

An LED light can be a lifesaver if you’re filming in a dark environment, they are small and often have a bi-colour option to adjust the colour temperature. The last thing you would want to do is crank up the cameras ISO, resulting in a noisy image when you could have used a light. The LYKOS LED lights are very portable, but for something smaller the SPECTRA lights are a good choice.

Hand held gimbals and stabilizers are now smaller and more affordable than ever before, and give a unique dynamic to shots with movement. Using a gimbal or a slider is a great choice to up the production value of the videos.

Lastly, a bag to store all that kit! There are plenty of choices or styles to choose from, whether you need quick access, or to store other kit like a drone. My bag of choice is the Pro Light 35, as its small enough to fit all of my video kit in, and very comfortable.

 The Manfrotto Pro Light 35 backpack stored all the necessary equipment for the event filming and editing.

The Manfrotto Pro Light 35 backpack stored all the necessary equipment for the event filming and editing.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Get to know the ins and outs of the event, what is happening throughout the day, any key moments you need to capture, and plan time for editing if you have a same day delivery for the video. At a recent event, I would shoot some video material and interviews for an hour, then import the footage ready to be edited.

Get any details from the event organizers about timings, as well as the names of any interviewees which might be needed for lower 3rd graphics later on.

Know Your Workflow

When you’re filming, a rule of thumb I use is to capture plenty of b-roll, or additional shots that can be used to add to the ‘story’ you’re going to tell through the video. Whether its shots of the audience, location, or little details like logos and branding, they can all save you in the edit when you need a cut point, or to add variety, rather than a fixed camera shot of the stage.

Filming lots of alternative angles using wide and telephoto lenses.

Create a file structure for when you import all your footage; it keeps everything organized when it comes to editing and backing up the project. It might be files for interviews, conference parts, establishing shots, for example.

editing and footage file structure

When you’re editing, using sequence templates will also speed up the editing process too. You could create a sequence with a title graphic at the beginning, a lower 3rd graphic for an interview piece, and the end credit graphic at the end. All you would need to do then is drop in your footage, cut it together and then export it.

This process is particularly handy for same day editing, when time is limited to complete edits.

Over Deliver on Expectations

I shot plenty of location b-roll at the St Regis Bal Harbour Hotel, North Beach, Miami. Taken on the Sony a7S and Samyang 35mm T/1.5

Lastly and most importantly, creating a good video that the client likes is great; you’ve completed your brief. However to really wow your client, give a little extra to the videos you make, whether it’s a timelapse, working a little later than intended or delivering more videos. That little bit extra could make the client choose you for the next event they put on.

Sunrise on North Beach, taken on the Sony a7S and Tamron 24-70 F/2.8

Filming With The Manfrotto LYKOS LED Lights In The Shard

The Manfrotto LYKOS LED lights are the latest light fixtures in my arsenal, much smaller than, and just as powerful as their 1x1 models that I've used in the past. Surface mount LEDs have increased the power output and reduced the size, meaning you can easily carry a 3 point lighting setup and nano stands in a backpack or grip bag.

They run off conventional NP-F batteries, D-tap or AC power. Using widely available batteries (rather than only mains or AA batteries) make using the lights much easier on location. They'll run for 1 hour 25 minutes continuously on an NP-F750 before the battery shows as empty on the display. I powered the light back up and continued timing to see how much more juice could be used, I only got another 5 minutes max. They don't have a hot swapping battery option so if a battery runs out, the light powers down while the battery is replaced.

Manfrotto LYKOS lights

A killer feature is the Bluetooth control via an app, which can adjust the power, brightness and colour temperature. This works by using the Bluetooth dongle and pairing the lights to an iPhone through the LYKOS app, and can control from 1 to 16 units for larger remote setups.

I used the LYKOS lights on a recent video shoot in the shard for Surrey Scout Media. On the 22nd floor I set up two LYKOS on nano stands in an office with a glorious London skyline in the background. With golden hour approaching, the summer sun beamed through the huge Windows. I had a wonderful back light, wonderful view, but would the lights hold up against the sunlight?

Positioned close to the subject and composing the shot on a 35mm prime, it was easy to adjust the light intensity for the desired exposure. Combating the bright setting sun was difficult and I could have done with a reflector, but live and learn!

The lights have a wide beam angle (50 degrees) but give off a soft, wrapping wash around the subject. The high CRI (93) also gave pleasant skin tones without a green shift in the tint, which is sometimes apparent in other LED lights.

At the end of the shoot the lights and stands were packed quickly away into the Off Road Backpack, ready to navigate rush hour underground in London.

Here's the final video, promoting a Surrey Scouts event in 2017 -

The Manfrotto LYKOS LED lights performed above my expectation for lights of their size. Being able to add in soft key lights against bright sunlight confirmed those expectations. If I had another light, I would have banked the two together for a stronger light source, but I only had two on me at the time. For a portable lighting kit you can't go wrong with a set, the bi-colour model offers more flexibility with adjusting to a number of locations too.

Filming for Cow Parade Surrey!

Cow Parade is the largest outdoor public art exhibition and will see hundreds of decorated cows dotted around Surrey towns, businesses, villages and countryside. A approached the Cow Parade as a charity project for APVideo, offering video to raise the profile of the exhibition as well as the businesses, artists and charities involved.

On Thursday, Horsley Towers played host to the Cow Parade Networking Event where many people gathered to find out more about the event. I took the camera along and filmed some interviews as well as the cows and stunning location too.

The Filming

The kit list for the shoot was simple and effective, keeping the setup footprint small.

I arrived about an hour prior to the event starting to capture some location shots and the decorated cows before the attendees arrived. The sun was shining which complimented the Towers and surrounding greenery perfectly.

Horsley Towers, Tamron 24-70 with ND filter and Dual Arc Slider

Using the Samyang 35mm with an ND filter adds depth to the picture.

The arc side of the slider creates a paralax type effect where the background moves with the foreground, which looked great for moving shots of the cows. The majority was shot in 50p to give me the option to slow the footage down later on if needed, it also works well of you need to add the warp stabilizer to eliminate shakes.

Once the main B-roll and detail shots were captured, I switched to using the Manfrotto MVM500A monopod and hooked up the Sennheiser AVX Pro MKE2 audio kit for the interviews.

The wireless mic receiver sits nicely on the cage, and is small and maneuverable enough for other kit to be mounted on the hot shoes too. The XLR to mini jack adapter cable is also ideal for one man band videographers as you don't need a separate audio recording setup; in the past I've used the Zoom H6 but now I don't! This also means no syncing in post is needed! My only comment about the audio setup is the microphone does pick up quite a lot of ambient sound as well as the voice of the interviewee, but not so much that the subject audio is inaudible.

As the interviewees weren't prepared to be talking to camera, I made sure to capture lots and lots of b-roll so that when editing the sequences together I can cut out 'ums' and 'arrs' and overlay b-roll to mask the cut.

The Editing

Putting the first video together was a relatively fast process as no audio syncing was needed, and Premiere Pro CC handles the video files very easily. After sorting the footage into bins and trimming the clips in's and out's, I added the establishing shots that can open the video.

The audio I used was sourced from Art List, a new music collection and licensing site that I'm beta testing. It has a good collection of original music from bands and artists for a variety of video genres, so after some searching I found a folky and country-esque piece to compliment the footage. Check Art List out here.

 Checkout www.art-list.io

Checkout www.art-list.io

Once the main sequence was tied down, I moved on to colour the video in Lumetri and using James Miller DeLUT's. A big misconception with using LUT's is that you can just chuck it on and it will be fine. The reality is that simply putting one on to grade footage doesn't work and you should take time to adjust the intensity of the LUT and the other colour settings. This keeps the individual clips consistent in their colour throughout the video.

Another example of adding and adjusting a LUT >>

From these examples you can see where even if shots are well composted in camera, adding a LUT straight on (in this case) over exposed the shots and shifted the colours. It is simple to adjust the brightness, contrast, highlights and colour balance in Lumetri until the shot matches the others, and compliments the composition.

Here is the video!

Thanks to Manfrotto and Sennheiser, and good luck to the Cow Parade! APVideo will be following the journey of the parade throughout the summer so watch this space for more updates.

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

The Filmmaking Masterclass 2015.. Behind The Scenes Part 2

Part 2 of the filmmaking masterclass behind the scenes production!

Red Giant Update Shooter Suite

The Shooter Suite Package Gets a Makeover!

I'm a big advocate of the Red Giant suites having used them for a number of years. I got my hands on the Shooter Suite a year or so ago, so expand the tool set I had for editing and gain the invaluable syncing software - PluralEyes.

Yesterday, Red Giant released the new Shooter Suite package with lots of tasty updates! The Shooter Suite also includes 'Offload' - for ingesting and backing your media on/offset safely (checking for corruption or bad copies), as well as 'Instant 4K' - a brilliant resolution scaler and 'Frames' which can be used for interpreting mixed format footage, de-interlacing for example.

The new Shooter Suite from Red Giant has lots of updated features, one that particularly interests me is the PluralEyes 4 update which is now offered as a plug-in for Premiere. This is a big step forward for the software, as previously it took another step of workflow to open PluralEyes, import the footage and audio, sync it and then export an XML file to import into Premiere.

Now, there is no need to use the stand-alone syncing software as it is now a plug-in, in Premiere! I can see this having a big impact on editing turnaround and post production workflow, as previous attempts at syncing inside of Premiere haven't been perfect. PluralEyes has also had a re-design in its standalone application too.

New PluralEyes extension in Premiere Pro CC

After-sync, a new sequence is created

I opt to shoot dual system video and audio the majority of the time because of using an A7S (or 5DIII) that doesn't have XLR inputs or a good enough audio interface for monitoring and recording. Instead I use the Zoom H6 recorder to capture the sounds from wireless mics, gun mics and the like. This of course means that they need syncing with the video in post. Even today, I have a new sync waiting in PluralEyes 3 to be exported.

 Part 2 of the editing workflow after ingesting footage, the sync process in external software, PluralEyes version 3 - very clunky.

Part 2 of the editing workflow after ingesting footage, the sync process in external software, PluralEyes version 3 - very clunky.

The updated features in PluralEyes include -

  • A new, effortless user experience, with more automation than ever before.
  • Instant feedback that lets you know how your sync is going, and includes messages and color coding to indicate any issues.
  • The ability to sync with PluralEyes directly in Adobe Premiere Pro, without ever leaving.
  • Drag and drop an entire folder of media into PluralEyes, and during a sync it will automatically detect which device the media came from. (Smart Start)
  • Automatic Drift Correction, which fixes the mismatch of sound and video in long clips.
  • Vertical Track Scaling that allows you to see more detail in your audio waveforms
  • Track Comparisons that make it easy to verify your sync
  • Keyboard Shortcuts for playback and navigation, based on Premiere Pro’s shortcuts
  • Color Coding of clips when exported to Premiere Pro, so that you know what clips need attention.
  • Integration with Red Giant Offload (also in Red Giant Shooter Suite)

Having PluralEyes inside of Premiere means no back and forth between applications, a faster syncing time, no need to import footage into PluralEyes and then into Premiere (which may create duplicates in the project). I can see it as a streamlined operation, using the other tools in the Shooter Suite such as Offload to speed up and make the editing workflow more efficient! I'll definitely be updating!

Find out more about Red Giant Shooter Suite 13 here

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!

Reviving the 5D mk III for HD Video with Atomos Ninja Blade!

Reviving the 5D mk III for HD Video with Atomos Ninja Blade!

I get out and film with the Atomos Ninja Blade (external HD recorder and monitor) to revive my Canon 5D mk III!

Unofficial photos from ExpoSouthEast

Expo South East

Stills taken at the local and regional business expo today by APVideo, hosted at The Duchess Stand, Epsom Downs. Organizers were Exposure Events, sponsored by The Best of Epsom and Ewell.

Watch this space for the Expo highlights film!

As a local business, I visited the expo for the day, shot a load of lovely video and networked away. The list of exhibitors featured in the film will be posted here for you guys too.

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 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!

APVideo is back from CineGear in Hollywood, and the WHSmith Conference!

Video coverage for NewsShooter.com at CineGear 2015!

It's been a very busy week here at APVideo, as I was covering the CineGear 2015 expo at Paramount Pictures (LA) for NewsShooter.com! It was a fantastic show, and great to catch up with the likes of ARRI, SLRMagic, Atomos, Litepanels and many more. Check out the 'Showcase' page for a couple of the videos..

Adam in Paramount Pictures Backlot!

All of the interviews/video features are available to watch here at NewsShooter.com!

APVideo collaborates with Warner Vision for WHSmith conference production!

I've also been out working with Jonathan, who I met at the Shadows and Light workshop a few months back at the WHSmith Travel conference at the Sofitel. We were doing the complete AV production including PA and camera setup, next day edit and so forth. It was awesome working with Jonathan and there's no doubt we'll be teaming up again soon!

 Simple PA setup with wireless.

Simple PA setup with wireless.

Tony Parsons guest speaker

Paralympian Natasha Baker guest speaker

I'm now taking a break to recover from non-stop working, in the mean time I will be looking at selling umptuous amounts of Lilliput monitors and camera rigs, so watch this space for more!

Why film, video and media is PERFECT for business, events and more! New infographics from APVideo on telling stories for you!

Now, more and more audiences are accessing content on mobile devices, all the time.

What is the best method of reaching them, promoting your products/talents/business/events, building a personality and telling a story? It's film, video and media of course!

I've researched the latest statistics from Cisco and other sources, combined with my own experience for these new infographics. The results are fantastic as it shows:

'Using film, video and rich media is proven for a high return on investment (ROI)'

Why film, video and rich media is perfect for business, organizations, online, offline, live marketing, branding, promotion, communication and advertising. Tell your story with APVideo.

The stats speak for themselves. Video is now a powerful communication tool for connecting and reaching audiences on a global, 24/7 platform. Tell your story with APVideo.

If you would like more info about how film and rich media can benefit your business, products, events then just get in touch!

Proud to share some client testimonials!

Thank you all for the feedback!

I've finally had a chance to whip up some of the testimonials I've received from past clients, it's always great to read what an impact your work has made!