I get out and film with the Atomos Ninja Blade (external HD recorder and monitor) to revive my Canon 5D mk III!
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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!
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.
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!
Tomorrow APV is filming at The Hospital Club for the IABM. We're holding a technical discussion and debate on a number of industry topics. I'll have much more to come tomorrow!
The setup will be similar to the previous IABM panel video, but without the Lastolite Panoramic background. As always I have the Manfrotto Pro Light 35 packed with two camera bodies, essential lenses, batteries, memory and audio gear, as well as 3 1x1 bi-colour LED lights and pro stands.
I'll be trying out the old Soligor Pentax K mount 35-140mm F/3.5 macro on the 60D, as it does not register with the 5D. I may have to remove the chip.. I'll have some detail shots of it tomorrow.
Audio wise, we'll be using the Zoom H6 for recording multi-track audio from the 4 Sony and Rode lavalier microphones, as well as other on camera mics.
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
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
Zoom H6 audio recorder
Rode Lavalier microphone
Sennheiser ENG-G3 wireless RxTx for lav mic
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!
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!!
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.
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!
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!!
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.
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!
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.
I was asked by Manfrotto to list my 5 golden rules of videography, and while I think creativity shouldn't be bound by rules to follow, these 'pointers' will keep you heading in the right direction to make awesome videos and films!
Check out the rules here..
On Wednesday I was working with Margaret from Madeleine Pink Floral Design to capture her beautiful Christmas decorations.
Using the Manfrotto 1x1FT LED light panels on the pro-light stands, I softly lit the decorations with the fine tuning bi-colour control; resulting in soft shadows!
Kit list: Canon 5D mkIII, Tamron 24-70, Sigma 70-200, Samyang 35mm, Canon 100mm L, Manfrotto Pro-Cx3 tripod and MHV500, Spectra 900FT LED light, Variable friction arm + super clamp.
"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose".
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!
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!
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)!
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
- 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.
While we were setting up!
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?
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.
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.
You can see here that the audio tracks from each microphone are separated in the sync.
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!
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!
This will be a series of posts acting as a videography diary for my latest personal project which is out filming Autumn in Surrey.
North Downs Way (Ranmore, Surrey)
This time of the year is my absolute favorite. There's a chill in the air, leaves turn stunning tones of oranges, reds and browns, hidden spider webs become visible in the morning dew. Autumn bring a series of treats from the first frost, harvest festival, Halloween and fireworks night, most of which I'll try to capture over the coming weeks as the night draws closer.
I made my first seasonal video back in Jan/Feb called 'Quiet Sunshine', I loved being out with just my camera and me. It was silent and still as I crept around the pond, capturing the life in the Winter. This was also one of the first videos I made with my new videography kit; Canon 5D mkIII, Samyang 14, 35, 85mm cine lens, Manfrotto 755CX-3 carbon fibre tripod and MHV-500AH video head. It's the ultimate in quick, steady shooting with a beautiful image from Samyang's top quality glass.
This ethos of simplicity while filming is aided greatly by wise equipment choices, good planning and being inspired. Taking a little time to research the sunset and weather, the locations you're going to visit, and checking out other creatives work all contribute to the story that is composed and told through the video. For me, my Manfrotto tripods, video heads, bags and lights give me the flexibility to film in a variety of scenarios without needing a set of heavy legs.
The above pic shows how simple my setup was:
- Canon 5D mkIII (Technicolor Cinestyle picture profile).
- Tamron 24-70mm
- Sigma 70-200mm
- Canon 100mm macro
- Samyang 14mm cine
- Manfrotto 055ProB tripod
- Manfrotto 701HDV head
- Pro Media Gear dual arc slider
- ND filters
- Manfrotto SPECTRA 900FT LED light (just in case).
I never go out with an idea of what the final edit will look like, or what I'm distinctly looking for, apart from to give the audience of the video the experience of what it's like to be in the scene. The story is a visual meditation, taking you on a journey. Ron Fricke has mastered this art through his films 'Baraka' and 'Samsara'.
"Give your audience something new, something they perhaps haven't seen, heard, felt or experienced before. Put them in the scene and give them an immersive experience."
I don't think many viewers of the video would have been in a World War II Pill Box.. So I gave them that experience! It had also started to pour with rain when we arrived at North Downs Way, so the dug out shelter provided ample protection from the elements!
The little details of the changing seasons are what we have as memories of autumn. The turning of the leaves and crunch they make as you step on them. The glorious colours of sunset silhouetting the trees! Shooting with the Cinestyle picture profile allows me to capture the video with an extended DR, that I can then manipulate and restore the details in the shadows and highlights when grading in post. This really pops the colours.
If you're out walking, or somewhere new, stray off the path and discover something new. It's a tactic I use when I'm out, it's how I find 'interesting' things to shoot!
When I am out shooting, there aren't set rules that I follow as every scenario will be different; indoors or outdoors, subjects will vary and so will the kit you choose to use. I do however make sure I correctly set the following:
- White balance/colour temperature.
- The image is level with the horizon line (more so for landscape, unless artistically intended).
- Sound being recorded with a mic, and that it is ON, with the sound level set appropriate to the environment.
- Shutter speed set to 1/50th (on DSLR).
- The shot must show me something new, with framing and composition telling the next part of the story.
- Am I using an appropriate aperture?
The last one about 'appropriate aperture' is more due to the variety of shots you want to capture. For example: intimate portrait with a wide aperture (F/2.8) vs large landscape with narrow aperture (F/16). Yes, shooting as wide as possible (T/1.5 is the widest I can shoot) produces incredible bokeh, extremely shallow depth of field for intimacy and can keep you shooting in darker scenarios.. But it can also produce softening at the edges (lens dependent), and may not fit the subject; a row of trees, a crowd of ravers. On the other hand, shooting with a deep depth of field (F/11 +) of a babies fingers or the dew on a spiders web does not isolate the subject, makes the image darker and sometimes produces vignetting (lens dependent).
My point being: It is subjective. There is no right answer. Find the right aperture to expose the shot as you wish, using the depth of field to move the viewers attention through the frame.
To summarize, by checking those above points, you'll save a lot of time and work later!
Winkworth Arboretum (Godalming, Surrey)
I've been wanting to visit Winkworth for months now, originally purchased by Dr Fox in the 20th Century, it is home to over 1000 trees and plant species created to 'paint a picture' of the landscape. The dream of Dr Fox lives on to the hundreds of visitors of all ages through the National Trust who were very accommodating during my days visit.
It was my first time at the arboretum, so while I was discovering the beauty of the location I also snapped up plenty of autumnal shots. My kit list varied to what I used at the North Downs Way, but I still used my trusty Manfrotto 055 ProB tripod, 701HDV head and Pro Backpack50! It's so versatile, and trust me, you really can fit everything in this bag for videography!
I wasn't surprised at the number of photographers in the arboretum, the foliage from the range of trees was stunning, a mix of still turning greens, oranges, deep reds.
Acer is my favorite species of tree because of its delicate and intricate leaves and branch structure, it has very unique leaf colours that dramatically change throughout the seasons too.
It was a pleasure strolling around the massive arboretum. I was up for filming anything I liked, I had my Manfrotto Pro Backpack50 filled with my favourite lenses to shoot nature with. The Canon L series 100mm F/2.8 macro lens has been gratefully welcomed into the collection, it definitely being my favorite lens! It has the intimacy and clarity I like to capture, getting the details.
The above photo I think captures the essence of my work; simple, unique adaptive.. The ability to move the camera using the Pro Media Gear dual arc slider gives the ability to move and orientate around the subject, in the above case around the trunk of a tree, showing the array of interconnected branches and leaves.
For a number of these shots I would have been using the 14mm cine lens, at around T/11 to T/16, so that I could expose both the darker branches and the bright light bursting through the leaves.
For photographers and videographers I would definitely recommend a trip to Winkworth. It offers a unique view into nature throughout the seasons, walk freely through the meadows or copses capturing the beauty of nature.
Thanks to the National Trust for upkeeping the arboretum and the volunteers that maintain the site, as well as Manfrotto for their continued support! Get out there and film the lip-chapping mornings, or fireworks night that is coming up soon. It's a stunning time of year, go capture it!
The autumn video is currently in post production, and I am collaborating with Tristan Noon, a composer to produce the soundtrack to accompany the visuals. I'll post up part 2 of the the autumn filming blog when the editing is complete, and the video uploaded!
I've been waiting for a clear skied afternoon to film some autumn material for another personal project. Heading for the open North Downs Way, accompanied by the 5D mkIII, Tamron 24-70, Sigma 70-200, Samyang 14mm, Canon 100mm, Manfrotto 055 tripods and 701 head on the Pro Media Gear Dual-arc slider.
The video is to come very soon, I want to go out and shoot some more in the early morning!
What a week it was! There was no doubts we would be busy filming and editing videos for The IABM to release, but not on the scale we anticipated! Overall, Adam Plowden Videography captured and produced at least 8-10 videos each day, an incredible 6 times more video content delivered in one week than previously in the whole of 2013!
I did include a run-down of my kit choices before I left, but here is a quick summary of my chosen equipment to capture the IBC Show:
Manfrotto 546GB twin leg tripod with a 504HD head (A Cam).
Canon 5D mkIII, Tamron 24-70mm, Sigma 70-200mm, Samyang 14mm, 35mm, 85mm, Canon 100mm L.
Manfrotto 755CX3G tripod with a MVH500AH head (B Cam).
Canon 60D, Tamron 17-50mm, Canon 50mm.
Manfrotto Hydra Arm and super clamp.
Zoom H6, Sennheiser ENG-G3 RxTx kit, Roto-mic.
(This is the kit we took each day to film with!)
I had to have the above tripod gear after testing them out at my Manfrotto Takeover day, I was impressed by the fluidity of the 504 head when using it with telephoto lenses (as you can see above), however for lightweight, portable and quick 'run and gun' filming, the 755CX3G is a cracking go to set of legs. (Pictured above with the ProMediaGear Arc-Slider) and 701HDV head.
My main camera was: Canon 5D mkIII, and I was frequently using the Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC and Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 DC OS for 'go to' lenses around the show. They have a stabilizer in the lens, which means that shake and wobble can be eliminated. I also purchased the Canon 100mm F/2.8L macro lens before the trip for detail shots, but I fell in love with it for capturing everything; crisp and beautifully shallow portraits too.
For establishing and wide shots, the Samyang 14mm T/3.1 cine lens came into it's own. On a full frame camera it has a huge wide angle view allowing to capture the biggest of expanses with clarity.
Day 2 - Thursday 11th September - Welcome to IBC
Things are gearing up at the RAI; exhibitors are flooding through the doors, the stands are quickly being finished and the equipment is on display. IBC Show 2014 is getting ready to open its doors to 50,000 broadcasting, media and IT professionals from across the globe. We began filming the exterior the the RAI with visitors entering the venue and registering in the main foyer; the arc slider and 14mm lens create a wonderful moving perspective. After a short explore around hall 10 and 11 we made our way to The IABM Members Lounge to film an exclusive interview with Peter White, CEO of The IABM.
The IABM is a global broadcasting organization, representing nearly 80% of the broadcasting industry. The members have access to an exclusive members lounge, the IABM business conference, design & innovation awards and much more. It was our job to capture the events, conferences and members at IBC to promote and inform others about the successes at the show. For the interview, I used the Canon 5D mkIII, Tamron 24-70mm, the B cam was a Canon 60D with Canon 50mm F/1.8. For a reliable audio source I used the Zoom H6 (multi-channel recorder) with the MS mic attachment, as well as the Sennheiser ENG-G3 wireless mic kit; this was so I could attach a lav mic on the interviewees for clear sound.
Yes, this did mean throughout the week we had different video and audio sources, but Red Giant Pluraleyes aided greatly in syncing up the V&A for editing in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6.
Editing the IBC Intro video with Peter White on my laptop, yes, Windows laptop!
After capturing the buzz and excitement of pre-IBC, we headed back to our hotel to edit the intro video for the IABM members to see. The editing was fast, but the uploading was terrible via Wi-Fi, having learned our lesson, we uploaded the rest of the videos in the press room at IBC instead! Unfortunately, the video is only viewable for IABM members, so here is a quick screenshot.
Later on, we ventured out into the city of Amsterdam. It was Glen's first time, so I look him for a tour around the sights.
Day 3 - Friday 12th September - IABM Business Conference 'The Future of Broadcasting' and member interviews.
It was an early start on Friday, we arrived at the RAI for the IABM business conference at 6:45am to set up and capture the members breakfast, the conference and the post networking before the show got underway that day. For added motion, I used the ProMediaGear Arc-slider for some of the opening shots, but the main conference was shot on 3 static cameras.
For a mid shot of the speaker, I shot on the Sigma 70-200mm, and for a wide I used the 60D with the 17-50mm. Glen was filming from the front for a reverse angle on the 60D and Canon 100m L, which captured some stunning reaction shots of the attendees in low light. Unfortunately, this video is only available to watch for IABM members.
As our responsibility was to capture and edit videos for a same day or next day release, our two man filming team split so that Glen could begin ingesting, backing up and editing the conference video while I went out into the show and interviewed a number of IABM members. This turned out to be a godsend tactic to release a stream of high quality videos each day. It was, however, difficult to keep track of all the media from SD and CF cards...
That day, I filmed interviews with Georacing, Harmonic, Nexidia that we edited out for same day release:
I then jetted off to The IABM stand to meet the new winners of the Student award from The IABM (I won last year), to capture some interviews with them about their study and what they are looking forward to at IBC!
Day 4 - Design & Innovation Awards and member interviews
We were already half way through our IBC experience when Saturday struck, after a successful few days of filming and editing we geared ourselves up for a long day ahead. The day begun with a selection of IABM member interviews from around the show, including; Blackmagic Design, Avid, Newtek, Sony and many more. If you have been to IBC or NAB before you'll know how long it takes to get from one place to another, but with video kit it was a challenge to navigate around the thousands of people at the show!
I had a great time at the Sony booth, interviewing Peter Sykes about the new innovations; camera, 4K transmission, projectors, storage devices. They can be seen here:
I was intrigued by the Sony A7s, a full frame SLR with great low light and DR features.. There was lots of hype around the camera, and I had noticed a lot of the News Shooter guys using them with Atomos Ninja/Blade recorders (we were working next to Dan Chung and News Shooter in the press room), they rated it very well in a variety of conditions and shooting styles.
Bad luck struck on Saturday afternoon... My Canon 60D and 14mm cine lens was capturing a timelapse when it was moved/taken/stolen from where I left it.. Knowing that this would impact the video production of the D&I awards I quickly got help from RAI security to try and locate it. No luck, so later on that afternoon I borrowed a camera from an IABM member to capture a static wide shot of the awards ceremony. Luckily, when I arrived home I got a call from the RAI security who informed me they had found my camera!
We then got set up and prepared for The IABM Design and Innovation Awards 2014, celebrating and awarding outstanding technical developments in the broadcasting and media industry. Before IBC I edited and produced the 9 nominee category videos and graphics presented throughout the awards. Using the same setup as the IABM conference (A cam - Tele, B cam - wide, C cam - reactions) we captured the night in full, showing the excitement and buzz around winning the awards. I got to have a quick chat with some of the winner companies too!
I edited together the highlights of the IABM Design and Innovation Awards, which can be viewed here -
The individual winner interviews can be viewed here:
Systems - VidiGo
Testing - Cube-tec
Storage - Ardis
Post Production - Quantel
Playout - Elemental Technologies
Content + Infrastructure - NTT Electronics
Audio - Sennheiser
Acquisition + Production - Trimaran
The realities of working 12-14 hour days were catching up with us when we returned to our hotel to ingest and back up the footage. Finally, but 1:30am on Sunday all of the footage was synced and ready to be edited. At that point, we both thought its time to call it a day.
Day 5 - Delivering D&I Award Videos and member interviews
By Sunday, the main haul of event capture had been completed, with the remaining tasks being mainly interviews with members around the IBC show. As our editing 'system' had worked so well previously, Glen stayed in the press room using both our laptops to edit, export and upload the winner videos from the awards while I conducted interviews with more exhibitors and IBC members.
I had a great time at the Atomos booth interviewing Jeromy the CEO about the new Shogun for 4K recording and the power pack!
Atomos Interview -
Later that day I bumped into Joe, my old uni housemate who was visiting the show for a day. Later, Glen and myself went for Mexican for dinner and met up with our hotel receptionist, Klaudija for a few drinks in Vondelpark!
At this point, I was completely over my missing 60D and the tiredness. Visiting IBC and Amsterdam for work is a very rare opportunity, so we plowed through and continued to produce great day by day coverage of the show for The IABM. Glen, bless him saw less and less daylight each day!
Day 5 - Rising Stars and more member interviews
Arriving at IBC a little later than usual, Glen and myself parked up the the press area and set up the laptops to upload the previous days interviews to vimeo. Before we headed out to Steve Warners talk at Rising Stars I bumped into Nino Leitner who was off to Photokina that afternoon, so I grabbed a quick pic! Nino had been very busy with Cinema 5D coverage of the show producing their 'On The Couch' series with Philip Bloom, HaZ Dullul and more.
At this point, we had captured around 350Gb of video footage and delivered numerous interviews and event videos for The IABM, they were very pleased! We headed over to The Rising Stars lounge; a part of the show dedicated to young professionals in the industry where Steve Warner (training manager of The IABM) was doing a talk on CV's and representing yourself. Even for me, it was quite interesting to hear what recruiters actually look out for and research!
Catch the full video here -
The team then split so I could conduct some interviews with The IABM student award winners, and with a couple more members for The IABM annual conference in December. It was a short and sweet day; shooting multi-cam on talks and conferences made editing fairly straight forward so we were able to deliver the videos pretty much on the same day. Glen did an awesome job and editing videos out quickly. while I was filming more content!
Day 6 - Last interviews
Day 6 was our opportunity to capture the last interview and glimpse of the show until next year. As we were interviewing members and covering events, we didn't get to see that much of the show itself, but made time to visit some cool stands before we left on Tuesday afternoon.
We visited the Ross Video stand, to interview Pete Ross for The IABM annual conference, it was interesting to hear about how the company developed the first vision mixers and lead the way for broadcast production throughout the 20th century, definitely worth recognition.
Well, what an incredible time it has been.. We captured over 400Gb of footage and audio, combined with hours of graphics produced before the show. We delivered (and are continuing to deliver) over 55 videos online for The IABM. What a show, what a success! My huge thanks go to the other half of the team, Glen Symes for his help and dedication to getting the videos out, and dealing with my stresses of production and post throughout! Also thanks to The IABM for giving me the opportunity to cover The IBC Show 2014 for you.
Ooh, I almost forgot I stopped by the Vitec Videocom stand to say hi to the Manfrotto reps and return the tripods and grip we borrowed for filming. While we were there I asked Sofia for a short piece to camera on the new Manfrotto tripods and kit; I was over the moon to hear a new follow focus has been developed to go with the SYMPLA rig!
Check out the video with Manfrotto here -
I've met up with old friends, and made many new ones. My experience has been overwhelming this year, now I cannot wait to do it all again at The IABM Annual Conference and hopefully IBC 2015! If you have any questions about how we produced the videos, or IBC then drop me a tweet @Plowman91 or comment!
I'm still editing and uploading more videos, so keep updated by checking out The IABM website for more videos and content, and I will have an IBC 2014 wrap up video coming soon. UNTIL NEXT YEAR!
Remember to keep up to date with the news and events by following this blog and on twitter - @plowman91! See you there!
I had a great day at the Manfrotto Takeover on Wednesday at Park Cameras London, I hope all the visitors enjoyed their day too! I'm very busy at the moment, heading out to film a wedding today and tomorrow and have a growing collection of editing that needs to be completed too.. Better to be busy than to be sitting around doing nothing though!
I got to test the new Schneider Xenon cinematography lenses on Wednesday too; built for 4K cine productions, the T/2.1 prime lenses have focal lengths of 35, 50 and 75mm with other models soon to be available, and I'll be using them on my productions later on down the line. I was blown away by their performance, it's like looking through a new pair of eyes.
More to come later! Keep creative!
For those that couldn't make the day, or my seminar on videography a podcast will be uploaded later when I get back from the wedding and I am putting together a highlights video of the day (shot on Panasonic GH4 in Cinema 4K and on 5D mark III with the Schneider cine optics).
It's been another busy one! Firstly, let me welcome all of the new followers to my blog! Thanks very much for liking previous posts and I hope you enjoy the future content and bits I post up here :)
Time is drawing closer to the Manfrotto Takeover at Park Cameras in London, I am preparing my seminar these next coming weeks so it would be great to answer any questions you may have about equipment, videography and post production; please get sending them through, and I look forward to seeing you on the 30th but remember to register!
Here are some videos I've checked out this week for some inspiration;
The style of this animation is 2D yet very much 3D in its shading and motion.
Incredible BTS showing how OKGO made their viral one shot music video.
This hilarious video is definitely up there to watch, both on the comedy and the shooting.
The wild weekend began with a trip to Norbury Park near Leatherhead. I'm usually one to take my camera everywhere, but I vowed against it this weekend as I (strangely speaking) wanted to get to know my iPhone camera better!
Out Geocaching with Glen, we got a number of caches along the River Mole and up towards Great Bookham. I really recommend trips like this, especially if you are stuck behind a computer for long hours.. Getting out and walking has proven to boost creativity and the imagination! So, armed with my iPhone I snapped away using the camera app, it is a challenge to get the exposure you're after with this basic camera!
On Saturday I headed up to Nether Winchendon House with Rob to film the wedding of Lorna and Lauri. The grounds of the house were stunning, a long, treed driveway leading up to three arches. Rob captured some great aerial footage on the drone and I shot from the ground.
I used the Manfrotto 755 Aluminium tripod and the Edelkrone Slider+ v2, accompanied by the Samyang Cine primes and Tamron 24-70 on the Canon 5D mkII.
The flowers were beautiful;
The rain was not.. But didn't put a dampener on the day! Despite the rain, Lorna made it to the church for a beautiful ceremony in the village. They lead the wedding party on foot back through the country lane to Nether Winchendon House for the rest of the day! Set in a stunning location, every detail had been considered from unique signposts to bean bags and a life size Stig. The intricacy of flowers in jars, photographs and bouquets hanging from a ladder in the barn, stunning to see and wonderful to film too.
It was a dream wedding on the filming side, and I'm sure there will be a highlights video very soon of the day!
On Sunday, after getting back quite late from the wedding I headed out to Friday Street (in between Dorking, Guildford and Horsham) for the day with Glen. We are quite lucky living here, in the way that forests and rural life is only a short distance away, and I like to make the most of it! We were out Geocaching and playing with Glens new remote control helicopter, which then instantly made me want a drone.. I guess a £1000 spend for the drone, gimball and GoPro equates to a £20 hand sized RC Heli, right?
Monday rolled around pretty quickly, and I was having withdrawal symptoms from not filming or photographing anything when I was out on Friday and Saturday.. So come Monday afternoon I was back at Friday Street getting some filming done of the lush green forest that surrounded me! I used the Manfrotto 755CX tripod, Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 OS, Rotolight Roto-mic and a few more lenses.
This week I'm working on the Soundbox studios opening video that I shot a few weeks ago, it will be edited to their flagship artists new single by Rebecca James. It's going well, going for the black and white look as it works well with the dark studio atmosphere that they had going on :)
It was shot on the 5D mkIII with Samyang cine lenses, Flycam and the Edelkrone slider+ v2.
Remember, send over your video questions to get featured in my Manfrotto seminar, and share your work with me too!
Blimey, my last post was a while ago.. Honestly, since then work has got heavy and much of my time is either spent behind the camera or the screen. One exception was the Manfrotto Pro Backpack50 review, shot by Glen Symes for me where I actually appear in a video!
Some of the things I've been up to range from filming quite a few weddings [embed]https://vimeo.com/98328657[/embed] to filming and editing for a series of videos on health and wellbeing.
On the side, I've talked at EEHS about going through uni and starting a business, am preparing for my Manfrotto Tour videography seminar and other bits and bobs.. I'm sure if you follow me on twitter or facebook you'll have an idea of the things!
Going back a few weeks, my main projects have been the EEBC Health and Wellbeing video series, and an animation on Telecare. This is a predominantly piece to camera series, with additional b-roll shots to add to the videos messages which range from stopping smoking, to eating a healthy and balanced diet. The standard production of information videos ensued, editing down from around 45-50 minutes to a concise 2 minutes providing the relevant facts and summaries on prevention. Editing in Premiere Pro, I used the very good Luma Corrector tool for exposure changes and a simple RGB curves adjustment for the colour temperature.
I find the Luma Corrector better to work with, as by adjusting the Gamma control slightly, it removes the washed grey look to push out the prominent shadows and highlights meaning that it is very simple to correct/match shots; especially as I filmed using daylight as my key.
As per the clients request I have also added subtitles, which I created using the dynamic link into After Effects (noting at this point that if you're doing several stages of an edit, to duplicate the sequence you are working on before you start the next stage as Premiere and AE require you to save your work for updates to take place, meaning no Ctrl-Z/Command-Z to get back to a timeline with the clips rather than your 'replace in AE linked composition').
I was also out photographing flowers for a wedding, for the florist Madeleine Pink a few weeks ago too! Taken on a range of lenses with the Canon 5D mkIII (Tamron 24-70mm, Sigma 70-200mm, Samyang 14, 35, 85mm cine, and Nikkor 50mm).
Since then, I ventured into using Lightroom to edit the photos as well, still learning bits and bobs but found a range of fantastic presets here that create some great looks. I'd appreciate your thoughts on the photos and the looks as well, as it's mostly stab in the dark/emotive based :P
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of filming Dan and Kelly's wedding in Ashford + Foxhills where I met the awesome Ash; a unique wedding photographer! Check out the wedding film here [embed]https://vimeo.com/97953644[/embed], and definitely check out Ash's work over at Ash Darling Photography! Highly recommended by me :D and I believe I'll be working with Ash soon on an up coming wedding, really looking forward to it!
Believe it or not, I have been doing some videography too! In between editing the health and wellbeing videos, and on the pre-production sketches of the telecare animation I spent a couple of afternoons in The Woodland Garden in Bushy Park; one of my favorite places to go to switch off work mode, relax and shoot some video for personal projects. I've named this one 'Waterhouse', it's the name of the part of the garden where a balcony looks over a pond with a waterhouse to the left. It poses interesting thoughts to its original function, the bricks and foundations holding strong throughout years of use and bad weather. Virginia Creepers pursue to edge up its sides, gripping on to reach the sunlight through the tree canopy.
The edit is complete, but I am now working on a quirky hipster logo/title animation for the beginning of the video so as soon as it has been animated and comped into the footage I will upload!
The kit I used for the 'Waterhouse' video include; Manfrotto 755Cx-3 tripod, Edelkrone Slider+ v2, Canon 5D mkIII, Canon 100mm F/2.8 macro (hence why the shake on the slider is slightly more visible than without IS/OS, but I have used Warp Stabilizer where I can). Tamron 24-70mm, Sigma 70-200mm, Samyang 14, 35, 85mm cine, Nikkor 50mm. After using the Canon macro lens, I have totally decided to purchase the Sigma 105mm F/2.8 OS macro lens; firstly because of future video productions where a small minimum focus distance is necessary (product, people, detail shots), also it has optical stabilization which I found was needed when moving the camera and lens on the slider, and lastly its around £400.. Bargain!
Things I've learned so far from doing this kind of work;
- Shoot with a widespread histogram (unless I wish to isolate the subject from shadows behind).
- Lightroom is awesome, try playing with the presets I linked to work on the developer tools.
- Regardless if it has been a long day filming, if you want to talk to someone, always, always, always do it!
- I want a macro lens for intricate detailed shots, as my current range does not let me get close enough to the subject.
- Take some hand held lights for kicks and fills; the venue room where the table decorations were photographed was very dark. With a tripod and a couple of lights I would have had much more control over the lighting composition.
- Dabble in a variety of work types, to keep it interesting and different!
- I need a slider for cinematic moving shots; I have made my choice; not the Edelkrone! There will be a whole blog post on this coming soon.
06:30 Kit bag, check.
Audio kit, check.
Brain, just about.
Yesterday I was out filming talking heads and some b-roll for a Wellbeing project on behalf of EEBC. Wellbeing is our general mental and physical health, but there are many factors in the way that we live that can affect our chances of developing serious health problems in the future. These include some sensitive subjects, that I was capturing to provide an information base for those in the community that may be suffering, or have friends and relatives of those diagnosed with; Cancer, Coronary Heart Disease, Dementia and Diabetes.
I was featuring nutritional expert Yvonne McMeel throughout the videos, so I began by planning my main piece to camera with her in the Wellbeing Centre.
This was a standard video shoot, so I packed my kit bag to be prepared with whatever the day would bring! This included;
Lighting - Daylight balanced 85W studio light with soft umbrella.
Extras - Lilliput 1018 (I am currently testing out and reviewing this product).
I took along the Lilliput 1018; the new flagship 10 inch touch screen field monitor, which produced crisp pictures and well represented colours. I ran this on a F-970 battery with HDMI through from the 5D, so I could monitor both. This did however cause the camera to heat up quite quickly. However, the monitor has awesome features usually found on high end products which include; exposure and focus peaking, on screen waveform monitors, levels and much more, which came in very handy for assessing the quality of the picture. (More coming later regarding this product).
I began setup at 9am, shortly followed by Char the make up artist who set up her bits. The location for filming was the Wellbeing Centre, which as a wonderfully bright open facade with big doors and windows. Luckily enough, blaring heat and sunshine poured through the windows, so that was my key light at slightly cooler than daylight colour balance at 5200k. This also matched the daylight light fixture I was using to add a fill and kick to the subject.
Why did I use a 2-point light setup?
I could have rocked up with the intention of using just the daylight and the incandescent lights in the centre with the mentality that it will illuminate my subject well, but there are risks you have to be willing to take if you approach lighting in a casual way. Some points to remember when thinking about lighting your subjects;
- Are they defined from the background?
- Do they have harsh shadows on their face?
- Moving sunlight will change throughout the day, in brightness, direction and colour.
Now, when you haven't been to the location before it is difficult to judge the lighting conditions, so firstly if you can have a RECCE of the location. It is very beneficial as you can begin to compose the scene, judging the internal and external lighting, now noisy the environment is, whether you will need a backdrop instead of a plain background.. All points to consider before you turn up with the camera kit and begin filming.
Defining the subject from the background is what makes them look 3-dimensional and not flat, this is the same for the shadows too as it shows that features are visible on the face. With DSLR's it is possible to use depth of field to define your subject from the background, but lighting can also be used to 'pop' the subject out of the BG.
Harsh shadows are caused by strong direct light, and are unwanted as they mask features and don't represent the subject properly, unless this is the effect you are looking for. For piece to cameras and interviews having soft shadows around the nose show the features of the subject, again making them look real.
The sunlight is your best friend and worst enemy at the same time... As the Earth rotates, we move further away or closer to the sun which changes the lights direction; if you start filming in the morning with your subject lit from the front, by 12 noon the sun is over head and by the late afternoon the light will be behind you. To combat this, keep continuity by filming at the same times each day, or even simpler be aware of the suns direction and gradually rotate the subject and other lights to keep a constant illumination. For me, I was filming from 11am through to 15:00 with the sunlight to my left for the whole day which was very beneficial, but not every time will I be that lucky!
Watch out for clouds that can block the sunlight, and be aware of how the colour temperature of daylight changes throughout the day; cool in the morning and warm in the evening. For me, shooting in midday sun meant a constant temperature of 5200K for both cameras, matching the other light.
The use of a kicker or fill light, pushes out the shadows caused by the key light (the sun), and gives a halo effect to the hair of the subject making them stand out. The difference is subtle but effective.
Camera Setup and Composition
Once I had my lighting up and running, it was time to set up the cameras and audio equipment. I was going to shoot using the Samyang 35mm T/1.5 cine lens, but this would result in being intimately close to Yvonne, the subject, which would be quite off putting and may add shadows/interference such as me rustling papers to the recording. Instead, I used a telephoto lens as I can be a good distance away from the subject, and create a narrow field of view that frames up as an MCU (medium close up).
My main A camera was the 5D mkIII, and although the Sigma lens can open up its aperture to F/2.8 for shallow depth of field, this was not required for today. Instead, the camera was set to F/4.5 for a still shallow depth of field, but deep enough for the subject to move forward and backwards in the frame a little, and to de-focus the background. The ISO was set to 200, although when the Sun disappeared behind clouds I would ride the ISO to 250 or 320 depending. To stick to the 180 degree shutter rule, the electronic shutter remained locked at 1/50th.
The B camera was the Canon 60D, I paired this with the sharp Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 and shot wide open, again riding the ISO when required. I did this because this camera was capturing a wide shot of the subject, so depth of field was not noticeable. To keep continuity, both cameras were set to a white balance/colour temperature of 5200K, but it appears that the 60D picture is slightly yellow/green than the 5D picture.
The often forgotten partner to the pretty pictures you see, having top quality audio is just as important as having your subject in focus and exposed. I used the Zoom H6 as my recorder, with the XY mic attached to capture one stereo recording. I also used the Sennheiser ENG-G3 wireless mic kit, attaching a lav/lapel mic to the subject which would be my main audio source. As a back up I also used the Rotolight Roto-Mic plugged into the 5D just in case. Remember to take headphones so you can monitor the sound recording, just like you would use the cameras screen to compose the picture.
The filming went brilliantly. As a precaution I decided to use the 'record to multiple card' function in the 5D so I had a back up of the footage in case the cards got corrupted from such long recording times. As mentioned earlier with the lighting, as the light slowly changed, I also adjusted the position of the kick/fill to push back the shadows.
I was very impressed with the Lilliput 1018 field monitor too, and although it is larger than monitors I would usually use the touch screen control and diverse functions suited the shoot well, so I could keep a close eye on the changing light levels.
After the principal piece to camera filming was complete, I ventured out into Epsom and Ewell with Yvonne to film some b-roll pieces that would add to the information and dialogue about wellbeing and health. So, we visited Shadbolt Park outdoor gym, Ewell Court Library, Epsom's Derby Square, we were going to hit the market but by that time it was 17:30 and no chance of finding fresh fruit and veg to film.. We returned to the car to go to the last location, Epsom Downs, when this happened...
My car broke down. The filming day abruptly ended with a call to my insurers for recovery, while I also arranged a taxi for Yvonne to take her to the train station. That didn't put a dampener on the day though, I had captured great video and dialogue that I hope will help many people in the borough and wider community who may be suffering with cancer, heart disease, diabetes or dementia.
I then ingested the footage, and backed up a whopping 80Gb of footage and audio.. Lots to edit through, but thankfully those wonderful geniuses at Red Giant have a tool called Pluraleyes which can sync video with externally recorded video, so suddenly the issue to matching up the audio to the video disappeared, saving me potentially hours of work!
Pluraleyes then allows you to export the sequence as an XML that I then imported into Adobe Premiere Pro to edit! It's ready to go!
Overall, very happy with the footage and the outcome of the first day! I need to get out and shoot some more cutaways/b-roll of healthy food, socializing and some more bits and bobs to add.
We had another toying test day yesterday, with new glass too; the Panasonic/Leica 25mm F/1.4 (equivalent to 50mm F/1.4) and the Panasonic 100-300mm F/2.8 (equivalent to 200-600mm F/2.8). We keep finding great features and little things that make this camera wow us!
We were out filming and testing out the capabilities of the camera at Epsom's Thai festival taster, we used the 14-140mm F/3.5-5.6 OIS lens recording in 4K. The video will be uploaded and shared soon!
Blimey lots has been going on over the last week, I hope it has been as hectic for you as it has been for me! Monday started with continuing the design of the graphics for a recycling animation, a daunting task which put my drawing skills to the test. Bearing in mind I've spent the majority of the last year behind a camera, I took my time to learn the techniques I would need to use Illustrator properly. I would usually use Photoshop over Illustrator, but until I recently found out PS is not truly vector, and as I would be using a combination of the Pen tool and others to design the images this was very important, as I would need to transform the graphics later in After Effects.
My best mate Glen came down from Wycombe for a surprise week to, so I spent plenty of time catching up with him and chatting about work. He gave me so very important advice; "Everything is too complicated these days, you should keep it simple and your audience won't know the difference, especially if it is moving and animated anyway." True words, and I took Glens advice which not only sped up the process, but made me more confident with the work I was producing.
Here's a screenshot to show all of them! (I think I am working on a 10K canvas).
The graphics design has been on-going, I practiced when I was first commissioned, but it just shows how familiarizing yourself with the tools and applications can ease your work! A very very important part of this process was to intensively storyboard and plan each scene, so I know what graphics can be generated beforehand, so I spent a good couple of days story boarding and sketching the graphics I would need, followed by a long list of assets I would go on to to create.
For the rest of the week I started importing the graphics into After Effects, and setting up the 15 scenes. I am finally starting to see progress! I am still working on this section, and it will take another week or so to complete all the animations. Again, I storyboarded this in the planning, so I know exactly what to produce for which scene which saves so much time. Also, the best thing about this planning part is that it does not have to be a work of art to depict your ideas, just a simple sketch to represent what you will need to create.
On Thursday I joined a crew of fashion designers, hair stylists and models to film a magazine photoshoot for Sherman Hawthorne (the hair stylist and creative director of the shoot) at The Lemonade Factory studios on Queenstown road. With eccentric styles and art direction, I set about to capture high contrast, dramatic footage which will compliment the photos. It was an early start, here I am waiting for my train at Clapham Junction;
I was a single shooter, I had the pleasure of transporting the equipment to the shoot which included a steadicam vest that I ended up not using. I've learned my lesson here not to take extra kit!
My kit list was as follows:
Canon 5DmkIII (A camera), Canon 60D (B camera)
Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC, Samyang 14mm T/3.1 cine, Samyang 35mm T/1.5 cine, Nikkor 50mm F/1.4 manual, Samyang 85mm T/1.5 cine, Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 OS
Manfrotto 755CX3, Manfrotto MVH700AH, Manfrotto Hydra arm and super clamp,
CamSmart camera rig + Lilliput field monitor, CamSmart Stabilizer vest, Flycam Nano
Zoom H6, Rotolight Roto-mic.
As with all of these shoots, time runs short so I was restricted to short burst of filming time with the models to capture the specific ethereal and industrial motif, but I also shot around the photographer to maximize my usable footage. I made use of the 50fps slow motion for the moving shots, so that the models movements are exaggerated, as well as stabilizing the shot.
As the props included wire fencing and chicken wire, aliasing was a problem when shooting shallow depth of field, or at an angle to the object. To remedy this I used a lower aperture (F/4-5.6) for some shots, but also I can add a Gaussian blur in Premiere Pro when editing to soften the lines, gently smoothing out unwanted aliasing.
A couple of frame grabs from the shoot!
Weekends are always working weekend for creatives and freelancers. I spent yesterday working on the animation of the recycling project again, continuing to compose the scenes using simple 2D shapes and animation styles that have become very popular recently.
I also came across this post from Chase Jarvis about how to manage your time properly, its a great post with a detailed outline of 90-minute working slots that should improve your productivity, I urge you to read it if you're someone like me who can't stop working, then apply the plan to your working life. I know I will be!
I haven't had many #videoquestions come in recently, so please keep them coming so I can help with tips for the community of videographers and creatives! Send them over to me @Plowman91 on Twitter.
Finally, ending with a must watch video, check out Philip Bloom's video shot with the Blackmagic Production Camera, the 4K one at Miami Beach, what do you think of it? Is it worth investing now the Panasonic GH4 is on pre-order and it looks like Sony will have a 4K DSLR announcement coming at NAB2014 too..!!
That's all for now folks! Keep the creative juices flowing!
It has been a very busy couple of weeks since BVE, which by the way was great this year. I was over the moon to see the new finalized range of Manfrotto LED Spectra light panels which I got to test out a couple of years ago. Seeing products develop over a long period of time is interesting, even more so when your opinion is considered in how the final product should perform. Manfrotto also had their re-designed SIMPLA rig to demo, a much lighter and more ergonomic model I must say which is compatible with 15mm rig accessories like their matte box and electronic remote control.
As well as that, Manfrotto have also joined forces with Schneider Kreuznach optics (page in German), who have a new range of cinema lenses, specifically designed with ease of use in mind. All of the lenses from 24mm to 135mm have the same filter size, length and focus rotation to make filming with a range of the lenses effortless, simply change the lens and your peripherals stay in position. The optics of the lenses blew me away. Even in the well lit Excel, the background bokeh was stunning, soft yet so crisp. I cannot wait to get my hands on them. I think the combination of the new Manfrotto 055 tripod, the SIMPLA rig and Schneider glass will be a killer cine kit, delivering incredible visuals, making your shoot run smoothly, and at a low cost. Give it a year and this will be the go to package for production rentals, and part of every kit bag.
In other news, I've been working with EEBC on a couple of projects; a short video on recycling and another about a Wellbeing centre for those suffering with dementia and their carers. Both projects have messages that are close to me, so I've been working hard to blow my clients expectations out of the water. For the recycling video, I'm combining video with animation to show why recycling food and material waste is ever more important today; generating renewable electricity and resources. The Wellbeing centre video will be live action video, featuring the range of activities available to those in the community as well as the vast benefits to carers and visitors to the centre.
So, busy busy at the moment. I'm also meeting some designers from the fashion label ACF (Art Comes First) next week about another video featuring the design process here in London. Very exciting, I've been patiently waiting for an art-collaboration project to come along, it's what I started the business for!
I've had no #videoquestions for a while, so remember to keep them coming to @Plowman91!
Remember, inspiration is everywhere so take your camera with you!
EDIT!!!! Just remembered to include this, I spoke to an un-named informant about the new Samyang/Rokinon VDSLR cine lenses and whether any new models are going to be released. Our brief chat resulted in confirming rumours of a 50mm and 135mm cine lenses coming very soon! I think it's exactly what the lens range needs, and I will certainly be investing in the 135mm if it is at T/2.2, or pushing it at T/1.8 would be a dream come true. So hear my thoughts Samyang/Rokinon!