Finishing off a Speedway film I made 26 years ago

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26 Years ago I made a documentary called Steve Lawson the Story so Far and brought it out on VHS video tape.

Back then 26 years ago we were filming with Panasonic F10 camcorders with a 15x zoom lens, one of the first commercially available CCD cameras on the market. The cameras were attached via an umbilical cord to a portable S-VHS recorder that hung at the side on your left shoulder.

This was Steve Lawson and his family 26 years ago down at Maryport in Cumbria.

Simon, Steve, Kath and Richard

Since this picture was taken Simon Lawson has become a major paralympic competitor after paralysing himself in a motocross bike accident.

Simon Lawson

Richard Lawson 3rd from left © Ian Adam (Glasgow Speedway)

Wee Richard has also become a speedway rider, like his father before him riding for the Glasgow Tigers last season.

This brings me onto the reason why my Speedway footage has now been resurrected from the archives, stored on Super VHS (S-VHS) video tape my ultimate criteria for all my work is quality.

S-VHS had a resolution of 460 lines almost 100 lines more than VHS at that time. S-VHS was the best you could edit and master onto 23 years ago if you were not using Hi band Umatic.

Colin Mackie from a frame from the original 4:3 SD footage

One of my interviewers back then was my speedway friend Colin Mackie who recently as last year 2017 lost his son Greg, in tragic circumstances.

Colin son Greg was also a speedway rider and Colin wants Gregs name to be carried on in the Greg Mackie Speedway Academy.

When I discovered Greg had died (Not speedway related) I jumped at the chance to help my old friend Colin. I immediately decided to finally re-introduce the Steve Lawson Story on DVD and film an updated interview with Steve.

I had been keeping my end of season tapes aside always meaning to bring them out on DVD but as usual sat on them.

We now film in 4K 50p with Panasonic GH5 cameras, possibly not the best for a fast moving sport like speedway but as we are not filming the sport every second week I don’t have to worry about it.

At the end of the 1992 speedway season I was given an ultimatum from the people running Glasgow speedway at that time, it went from a nominal sum to almost 5 times or they get someone else. Glasgow speedway were not aware that this sport was taking a heavy toll on my brand new cameras, Panasonic F10s especially the lenses, they were being slowly destroyed by the red shale dust. Also that was the year Steve Lawson decided to retire and that would mean a big loss in sales during the 1993 season so I gracefully retired from filming speedway, never to return till about 3 years ago when I decided to produce a review of the JVC GY-LS300.

I was asked if I would like to come back but politely refused as I new the damage it would have on my video equipment.

Ken and Chris Malcolm at the under 21s recently

Don’t get me wrong speedway is a fantastic spectator sport full of great friendly fans and a brilliant family day out in fact my interviewer Chris still goes to speedway with his own children and his father.

To this day I don’t think Glasgow Speedway realised what they had let slip from their hands, we were the best at what we produced far ahead of the competition and still are from what I gather. Sadly I am a lot older and no longer have the energy or the drive to start producing speedway again. I loved popping into the 2018 version of the sport finding the promotion very friendly and a great bunch of people to deal with.

The DVD, Steve Lawson the Story is being distributed by Colin Mackie for £15, collected, probably at the Glasgow track shop but thats still to be finalised.

Below is a taster from todays DVD though on the whole its 4:3 SD footage upscaled to 1280 x 760 to accommodate todays 4K downscaled footage.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Using the 4K JVC GY-LS300 on the Arran film set “UNCOWED”

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Chris Attkins (Director)..”We have just completed shooting our first ever full-length feature film, a ridiculously bold adventure considering that we are now retired and no longer employ a professional crew. However, our colleagues of thirty years generously shipped themselves over to the Isle of Arran for a fortnight to help make it happen. We opted to work in 4K UHD, utilising our upgraded Sony PX-70 a DJI OSMO and Mavic Pro. For the main camera, HD Warrior Philip Johnston very kindly offered us the use of his JVC GY-LS300, a large sensor native 4K camcorder with prime lens and follow-focus facility. This was a whole new experience for us, so we asked to borrow it well ahead of the shoot to familiarise ourselves with its capabilities and limitations.

The first thing you realise is that this is definitely a camcorder that requires a decent tripod. It’s big, and fitted with rails and a matte box, it’s bulky. But what a solid piece of kit! It records beautiful, clean pictures, with loads of noiseless chroma. I’ve always liked JVC’s skin tones and the LS300 is true to form. Now that we’re in post production, it is a joy to have so much leeway to tweak its footage as required. Despite its much higher data recording rate, we encountered no problems using the same memory cards as in our other cameras, namely SanDisk Extreme Class 10 UHS 3. We used both 95MB/s and 90MB/s without any difficulties. Do bear in mind, though, that you’ll only get 55 minutes on a 64GB card.”

“To minimise continuity problems, we shot a lot of scenes using two or three cameras simultaneously. Matching the JVC to the Sony and Panasonic is straightforward in FCPX, but you would struggle to do this in reverse as there is much more latitude in the JVC’s output.

There are limitations to the LS300. First up, there’s no image stabilisation when using a prime lens, another reason to use a tripod. The camera’s flip-out viewfinder provides a poor representation of its pictures, so an external monitor is highly desirable, although not always practical. However, nothing detracts from the magnificent picture quality. Whereas the Sony PX-70 is capable of turning in decent footage, everything has to be set spot on, especially exposure, which can be hard to judge in the field, even with zebra and histogram. The JVC is more forgiving, so less chance of blown highlights, and with follow-focus control, there’s also a better chance of shots staying sharp!

All in all, the JVC GY-LS300 contributed to the lush look of our film and we are very grateful to have enjoyed using it.”

Richard the DoP on the film told me “He loved the JVC LS-300 as he is a big JVC fan himself but the poor viewfinder was a disappointment, fortunately Chris the director had his own 7″ LCD monitor attached to the Millar tripod via a magic arm.”

I had noted this on my review of the LS-300 of my disappointment of the LCD in sunny conditions a larger viewfinder would be preferred.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Advert for H. Preston Media, Sony PXW-Z280 and Z190 camcorders.

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

Latest camcorders now in stock, the Sony PXW-Z280 4K camcorder

The Sony PXW-Z190 4K camcorder are both in stock from H. Preston Media. Tel 01684 575486

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Uncowed comes to a dramatic end

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Well thats my two weeks over on the isle of Arran filming a documentary of a film about bullying called Uncowed.

I used my trusty Panasonic GH5 with various lenses and XLR unit, filming at 4K 50p

There has been hanging actors from cliffs…

Results of dropping actors from cliffs

Dancing on the Arran ferry

Shootings at the standing stones at Machrie Moore

Never work with children and animals..a rule broken on both accounts

Car crash into a barn

Two local apprentices Sean and Rory who loved the last two weeks and gained a ton of experience.

I got to work with my old Flashback Video colleagues after a twenty five year break.

My thanks to Chris and Jan Attkins for all their splendid hospitality and me old pals Richard, Frank and Graeme for all the additional video and photography.

And finally Allan the coolest manager of the Belvedere Guest House and his three lovely dogs and all his brilliant hospitality.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

A documentary shot entirely on the Isle of Arran

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Over the last week we have been hard at it filming Uncowed, a serious comedy about bullying on the wonderful Isle of Arran. I am shooting a behind the scenes documentary for Chris Attkins the director of the film.

Day one had us up the top of the String Road on Arran filming with the JVC GY-LS300 and a Sony PXW-X70 both filming in 4K 25p.

The JVC GY-LS300 has a 24-85mm f2.8-4 zoom lens with a Neewer follow focus C2 attached. Our Director of Photography Richard Hickman using the JVC GY-LS300.

The Neewer follow focus unit on the JVC GY-LS300.

Chris Attkins the director (dark glasses) is delighted with the pictures from the JVC GY-LS300 as he injests all the footage daily.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Just when we thought SD cards had maxed at 2Tb

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The SD Association announced today SD Express which adds the popular PCI Express® and NVMeTM interfaces to the legacy SD interface. The PCIe interface delivering a 985 megabytes per second (MB/s) maximum data transfer rate and the NVMe upper layer protocol enables advanced memory access mechanism, enabling a new world of opportunities for the popular SD memory card. In addition, the maximum storage capacity in SD memory cards grows from 2TB with SDXC to 128 TB with the new SD Ultra Capacity (SDUC) card. These innovations maintain the SDA’s commitment to backward compatibility and are part of the new SD 7.0 specification.

“SD Express’ use of popular PCIe and NVMe interfaces to deliver faster transfer speeds is a savvy choice since both protocols are widely used in the industry today and creates a compelling choice for devices of all types,” said Mats Larsson, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource. “The SD Association has a robust ecosystem with a strong history of integrating SD innovations and has earned the trust of consumers around the world.”

SD Express keeps pace with growing performance levels of mobile and client computing, imaging and automotive as they adopt faster communication and embedded storage protocols designed to make processing data faster.

“With SD Express we’re offering an entirely new level of memory card with faster protocols turning cards into a removable SSD,” said Hiroyuki Sakamoto, SDA president.“SD 7.0 delivers revolutionary innovations to anticipate the needs of forthcoming devices and content rich and speed hungry applications.”

“PCI-SIG is pleased to have teamed with the SDA to collaborate on this innovation for the world’s leading removable memory card – SD,” said Al Yanes, PCI-SIG president and chairman. “PCIe specification conformance tests are available today by major test vendors, offering a significant advantage for any new PCIe adopter.”

SD Express delivers speeds necessary to move large amounts of data generated by data-intense wireless communication, super-slow motion video, RAW continuous burst mode and 8K video capture and playback, 360 degree cameras/videos, speed hungry applications running on cards and mobile computing devices, ever evolving gaming systems, multi-channel IoT devices and automotive to name a few. SD Express will be initially offered on SDUC, SDXC and SDHC memory cards.

“NVMe is the industry-recognized performance SSD interface from the client to the datacenter, shipping in millions of units,” said Amber Huffman, NVM ExpressTM Inc. president. “Consumers will benefit by SD Association adopting the NVMe specification for their new SD Express cards.”

SD Express uses the well-known PCIe 3.0 specification and NVMe v1.3 protocols defined by PCI-SIG® and NVM Express, respectively, on the second row of pins used by UHS-II cards today. By relying on successful protocols already in the marketplace, the SDA gives the industry an advantage allowing utilization of existing test equipment and saving in development process by usage of existing building blocks used in existing designs. These cards also provide system developers new options offered by PCIe and NVMe capabilities, such as Bus Mastering, Multi Queue (without locking mechanism) and Host Memory Buffer. A new video explains more about SD Express.

The SDA released visual marks to denote SD Express and SDUC memory cards for easy matching with devices’ recommendation for the best SD memory card for optimal performance.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

“All about EVA” A very informative talk about Panasonics EVA camcorder.

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Simon Beer “Cameraman Jim Marks joined us in our showroom and for a live web stream where he talked about his experiences with the Panasonic EVA1 and took your questions.  Check out the video to see what you missed.”

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Canon update the 70-200 “L” lens range

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Canon have updated both 70-200 professional L lenses.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

The new Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM is an ideal lens for professional photographers who shoot with the Canon 1D and 5D series of DSLR cameras. The inclusion of Air Sphere Coating (ASC) technology helps to reduce flaring and ghosting, and suppresses the reflection of light.

Additional noteworthy features of the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM include:

  • Optical Image Stabilizer up to 3.5 shutter speed stops of correction
  • Fluorine coating on front and rear elements helps to reduce smears and fingerprints
  • Inner focusing system with Ring Ultrasonic Motor
  • One fluorite lens and five UD lenses helps to provide high-image quality
  • Minimum focusing distance of 1.2m (3.9ft)
  • Lens features 23 elements in 19 groups
  • Circular eight blade aperture

The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III is scheduled to begin shipping in August 2018 for an estimated retail price of $2,099.00.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM

The new Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM features numerous updates over its predecessor, making it an ideal lens for advanced amateur photographers using Canon DSLR cameras such as the EOS 6D Mark II or EOS 80D. Most notably, Optical Image Stabilization is upgraded from three stops to five shutter speed stops of correction over the original f/4 lens. The improved IS allows photographers to more easily capture crisp, in-focus images without the use of a tripod. The new lens also features three IS modes, each uniquely designed and suitable for a variety of shooting situations, such as the capture of still subjects, panning or fast moving objects2. Furthermore, the IS operational noise has been reduced, which proves ideal for photographers shooting in a concert hall or on-stage shooting at the theatre.

Additional noteworthy features of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM include:

  • One fluorite lens and two UD lenses helps to provide high-image quality
  • Minimum focusing distance shortened from 1.2m to 1m (3.9ft to 3.3ft)
  • Super Spectra Coating technology and optimized lens element placement helps minimize ghosting and flaring
  • Circular nine blade aperture producing a beautiful bokeh quality, ideal for portrait shooting
  • Lens features 20 lens elements in 15 groups
  • Fluorine coating on front and rear elements helps to reduce smears and fingerprints
  • Inner focusing system with Ring Ultrasonic Motor

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II is scheduled to begin shipping in late June 2018 with an estimated retail price of $1,299.00.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Sony announce a 3D version of their Hi-end Venice camera ??

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Sony “With this new VENICE setup shooting in 3D will make a very light and small setup. (PS I have yet to see a “small” 3D setup). With two of the small E-Mount optical block cameras in a beam splitter configuration, the rig came in at 30 pounds. The new Venice camera with the tethered optical block is being used in four Avatar sequels for live motion capture.”

Just when we thought the video industry had finally learned the lessons about 3D, Sony decide to give it one more try. Doh just remembered my 50″ 3D Panasonic telly packed in last year but the glasses still work.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

PromptSmart PRO User Review $19.99

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PromptSmart is the first and only “smart” teleprompter app. VoiceTrack speech recognition technology automatically follows your voice as you speak. PromptSmart is a unique prompter app because VoiceTrack’s speech recognition engine gives you unparalleled and intuitive control over your content, where other teleprompter or autocue apps fall short because they rely on clunky hardware or pre-set scrolling speeds. We asked tens of thousands of users what they liked most about our prompter app, and over 90% of respondents said “VoiceTrack,” calling it “awesome,” “astonishing,” “tremendous,” “easy to use,” a “game changer”—“absolutely brilliant!!!”

Panasonic GH5 with XLR unit and Sennheiser AVX-MKE2 radio mic receiver recording 4K 25p 422 10bit with Apple iPad PRO.

Teleprompters allow you to deliver your message quickly and convincingly. PromptSmart’s VoiceTrack technology provides key support to small business marketers, video producers, youtubers, teachers, business professionals, radio hosts, or podcasters in a way previously reserved for well-resourced professionals that can afford expensive rigs and personnel to operate the teleprompter.

PromptSmart users frequently praise our software because it reduces time spent recording take after take trying to keep up with a pre-set scroll speed. If you’re on a budget or trying to film by yourself, there is no better companion than PromptSmart because VoiceTrack starts and stops at your desired pace.

PromptSmart Pro comes loaded with an optional paid subscription service ($1.99 pm) unlocking features, including: a Remote Control, File Sync, and Bulk Import!

Rachel was very impressed with the new prompter software but as I added its only useful in a quiet studio environment.

My opinions…

LIKES… I think this VoiceTrack speech recognition technology is fantastic when it works, to be fair it only let us down a couple of times by forgetting to scroll. My presenter a seasoned broadcast journalist Rachel was very impressed.

DISLIKES…If you want a remote control option you have to buy a monthly subscription for $1.99 a month which is not a lot of money if you are constantly using this software but only in a quiet studio environment.

As you start the program it listens for external sounds which would not work in a busy, noisy environment, so the voice activated part is limited to a quiet environment.

The FUTURE…I would prefer the makers to allow small users like myself to buy the remote option rather than a continuous monthly subscription. As video professionals we are fed up being forced to RENT monthly software like Adobe Photoshop etc. There seems to be a need for companies today to get monthly subscriptions rather than a buy-out.

 

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

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