Exploring Motion 4 and the basic 90˚rule

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Nothing exercises the mind more than delving into Motion 4 with a complex animation in mind. I needed to show fire exits from a building starting with the back of the building sweeping round to the front.

My main problem was lack of basic knowledge of how you should approach the 3D buildings. I thought you could just add various shapes to build up the scene then look at them from various angles. That approach does not work, Motion 4 needs you to apply rectangles, boxes all on the same plane otherwise you get a peeling apart effect as soon as you move away from your scene.

After pulling my hair out I emailed Mark Spencer of Ripple Training who looked at my first example and told me that all my rectangles were not on the same plane I did not understand at first then it clicked…everything must be at 90˚ to each other as shown below.


Once you get your head round the 90˚ rule the rest is plane sailing…or not…as soon as you start to add lights to your project it starts to look sexy but sexy at the cost of rendering, without lights your 3D subject can take an hour or so…add three lights and you are looking at 3,4,5 hours or more. One initial project was taking so long that I abandoned it 6 hours later !

I am about to do some sexy 3D photo frames today I will post you the results once I have something worth showing. PS. Maths was one of my worst subjects at school and working with lots of rectangles in a 3D environment brings it all back…who said you don’t need maths once you leave school…me !!!

I want to thank Mark Spencer for his invaluable input.

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

Alister Chapman talks about HD to SD downconversion

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Ever since the release of the XDCAM EX cameras users have been having problems getting good lookin SD pictures out of downconverted HD. Why is this and what can be done about it? This is an issue that effects all high resolution HD cameras and is not unique to the EX’s. There are two key issues.

The first is the way basic software converters handle fields in interlace material and the second is the amount of information inan HD image that must in effect be discarded to get a SD image. At first glance you would think that starting off with lots of picture detail would be a good thing, but in this case it’s not.

Let’s see if I can explain.

Imagine that you have something in you HD picture that over 4 pixels goes from light to dark, in Hd you get a gradual transition from light to dark and all looks good. Now what happens when you take those 4 pixels and convert them to SD. The 4 pixels become just 2 and instead of a stepped change from light to dark the picture now goes instantly from a light pixel to a dark pixel. If these pixels were the edge of a moving object, as it moved the pixels would be switching instantly from on to off and unless the object moved at exactly one pixel per frame you will get a flickering effect. Clearly our nice gradual transition from light to dark has been lost and if there is any motion we may now be seeing flickering edges. Niether of these look good.

So what can be done? Well the best way to improve the SD down conversion is to soften the HD image before it is down converted to prevent this single pixel light to dark switch from happening. You need to end up with an SD image where you go from full light to full dark over at least 3 pixels to prevent flicker (Twitter).

How much you will need to soften you HD by will depend on how sharp it is to start with. Simply turning down the cameras detail settings can be a big help, but even then the best results are often obtained by applying some kind of blur filter in post production. In FCP i find the flicker filter works quite well.

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

Forget WorkFlow you need CashFlow to exist !

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Talking to a friend of mine tonight I got really angry as he told me his plight…He has been producing fantastic work for various “big name” companies and as a designer his work speaks for itself. The “big name” companies are now dragging their heals to pay him…the work is done, their fancy new designs are making them money and he is too proud and professional to “pull his work” till he gets paid…to the extent he has reached the end of his cashflow so he can’t pay his outstanding bills which sets up a vicious circle.

Why am I tell you this because we are all in the same boat, we all talk about workflows with our Canon 5Dmk2, Sony EX-3s but forget that a more important workflow, we should all be paying more attention to is “CASHFLOW”.

I like most of you are running small 1-2 people businesses and we are all held to task with our banks as we dare not cross the line between credit and debt…yet if “they” get into trouble they get 64 billion pounds to help them out. THEY have the Bank of England … WE have one measly £800 over draft and God help us if we use it up.

Banks today are no longer here to help small businesses even though we may have say for talking sake £5K to come in from various sources that are owed to us so my advice to small businesses are as follows…

1. Don’t be taken in by the “promise of more work”. Take my advice the 2nd job is a pipe dream.

2. Do not lower your price on the possibility of future work.

3. Tell the client you will invoice them in two parts, that helps your cashflow and keeps the bank happy.

4. If you are coming to the edge of your over draft phone the bank and put a case to them, tell them about payments owing to you, 99% of the time they don’t care but hang on to the 1% as that may be your bank manager.

5. Make a nuisance of yourself, phone the accounts dept. tell them your plight, you have done the work you are entitled to be payed…the 30 days are up. Write to the MD ask him if he/she can intervene, you have nothing to loose… by this time you no longer need or want further business from this company.

I get really pissed off when I hear good small companies being kicked around by big bullies when it comes to payment, there is no need to treat anyone like this in todays society…if only we had the power to stop their wages then the tables would turn.

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

Sony’s Digital Shooters Kit by Alister Chapman

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

Sony SRW-9000 HiEnd Digital Tape Camcorder

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In 2000, Sony introduced the legendary HDWF900 – the first model in Sony’s “24P-capable” CineAlta lineup. Since then, the HDW-F900 – and its successor model, the HDWF900R – have been satisfying the demand for high level picture quality and creative versatility in primetime TV production, commercial production and movie making .

Now Sony has taken the next evolutionary step with the next generation 24P camcorder, the SRW9000 HDCAM-SR camcorder. The SRW9000 inherits many of the excellent qualities of the HDWF900/F900R, plus it offers incredible operational mobility – thanks to its one-piece body and outstanding picture performance. .

In standard configuration, the SRW9000 is capable of top-quality 4:2:2 Y/Cb/Cr 10-bit recording at 1080/23.98P/24P/25P and 29.97P/1080/50i and 59.94i. The SRW9000 can also record 4:2:2 720/50P and 59.94P signals, for users who require further creative performance, a variety of option cards can be added. This allows for users to benefit from full-bandwidth 1080 RGB 4:4:4 capturing, SR Motionvariable frame rate capturing, as well as S-Log Gamma, and additional signal inputs and outputs. .

Providing improved operational flexibility and cost benefits, the SRW9000 is the perfect choice for anyone seeking HDCAM-SR picture quality and a high level of creative freedom. Now and into the future, the SRW9000 will ignite a passion for stunning visual productions in digital cinema, commercial programs, TV dramas, and documentaries.

The SRW9000 is a one-piece HDCAM-SR camcorder that delivers full HD resolution images and employs 2/3 CCD. Combining this CCD with a high-precision 14-bit A/D converter and digital signal processing, the camcorder is able to capture and reproduce extremely high-quality 1080/60P and 1080/50P images with low noise and high sensitivity. With its self-contained recording media and compact one-piece design, the SRW9000 delivers highly competive images.

With the optional HKSR-9003 RGB 4:4:4 Processing Board, the SRW-9000 offers full-bandwidth digital 4:4:4 high-definition Red, Green, and Blue signal processing and output capability. The HKSR9003 also enables S-LOG Gamma, allowing users to flexibly adjust images in the post-production process

By adding the HKSR-9002 Picture Cache Board, the SRW-9000 can record images from 1 fps to 60 fps in 4:2:2 mode. By combining the HKSR-9002 with the HKSR-9003, the SRW9000 can perform the same function in 4:4:4 mode. The newly introduced HDVFC30WR is especially suited for use with the SRW9000, offering improved focus assist functions, a color brightness level indicator and numerous other beneficial features.

Moreover, with pre-installed viewing LUTs (look-up tables) for S-Log Gamma, this viewfinder provides users with easier focus adjustment and a more intuitive photo-shooting operation. The SRW9000 can also utilize the HDVF20A. HKSR9001 Dual-link HD-SDI outputs and an additional AUX input port are provided with the HKSR9001 allowing the camcorder to be connected with an external audio multiplexing device or RGB monitor such as the BVML230.

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

Tiffen T1 IR filter arrives in the UK

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After a 2 month wait we finally see the arrival of the Tiffen T1 IR 77mm screw filter for the Sony EX1 and 3. This filter will eliminate the redish discolouration I have seen especially with indoor lighting set ups like stage shows or very sunny days.


Fabric filmed with no filter using 3200K lighting


Fabric with the T1 IR filter in place now displaying far more natural blacks

This lens is a must for anyone with a Sony EX1, EX-3 or an F35. You can buy the 77mm screw on version for around £60 plus vat.

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

Giants…Shot with a Canon 5DMk11

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[xr_video id=”c4e7e74cd6fe4c5393e0b9832da04d1a” size=”md”]

Once again we are seeing an influx of well produced videos shot with HD SLRs this was shot on a Canon 5DMk11 by Creative Producer Conrad Piccirillo for the NBA Indiana Pacers.

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

5DtoFCP from Industrial Revolution

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

5D 25p Workflow “5DtoFCP” Full details Monday-Don’t miss it !

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

Alister Chapman Reviews the NextoDi NVS2500

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Well… where to start? This isn’t going to be a huge long review as this isn’t a complicated device, but that is exactly what you want for backing up in the field. The NextoDi NVS2500 is really simple to use, very fast and well though out.

So what exactly is it?

It’s a small one piece box that allows you to back up most forms of media to an internal hard drive. It has it’s own internal rechargable battery, a small LCD screen and 2 controls. A power button on the side and a thumbstick on the front. It’s made from a very tough looking plastic and is supplied with rubber boots that go on the top and bottom to protect it from the knocks and bumps it is almost certain to receive out on location. On the top there are slots for Compact Flash, SD cards and Memory sticks while on the side there is an express card slot. It’s this express card slot that makes it different to most of the other backup devices on the market as this will accept Sony SxS cards from the EX cameras as well as a supplied adaptor for Panasonic P2 cards. On the bottom of the device there is a standard mini USB port, a combined Esata/USB port and a Firewire 400 port. In addition there is a power socket for external power and charging. The unit is supplied with a charger plus a cigarette lighter adapter and a small battery box that takes 4x AA batteries.

First Use:

The NVS2500 arrived on the morning of a shoot, so I just threw it in my kit bag and went off on the shoot. At the end of the day I had several full 8Gb and 16Gb SxS cards, so it was the ideal opportunity to test it out. In the past I have used a small Netbook PC with a USB drive to backup my footage on location. This has worked well, but it’s a little awkward as you have both the computer and a drive attached by a cable to deal with. So before I started to pack away my gear I dug out the 2500, turned it on by pressing  the button on the side. After a couple of seconds the device was ready so I popped a 16Gb SxS card into it the side. The NVS2500 checks the card and then asks you if you want to back it up. A short press of the thumbstick starts the card backup, it’s as simple as that!

Now when I used to use the laptop and USB drive I would at this stage continue packing up my kit, go and have a coffee or start the journey home as each 16Gb card would take about 12 minutes to backup. As I watched the copy bar graph on the NVS2500 however I realized that I wasn’t going to get much kit packed before I would need to swap cards. This thing is fast, seriously fast. My full 16Gb card took less than 4 minutes to backup! How did I ever put up with the backup speeds of my laptop? I can now backup my footage at over 10x real time.


So what about file verification? Well you need to be sure that your backups are good. There are several ways to do this with the NextoDi. One way is to use the preview function of the NextoDi to play back your clips, that’s right, it can playback footage that has been backed up. It can play XDCAM EX as well as many other formats including Convergent Design NanoFlash files, HDV and most Panasonic DVCPRO and AVC files. AVCHD playback should be coming via a firmware update as well. Admittedly the screen is small and a little dark, and the playback is a bit jumpy but for checking that the backup is good it is perfectly acceptable. Another way to verify your backup is to re-insert the original card. The NextoDi box will automatically tell you that you have already backed up the card (assuming of course that you have) and then give you the option to do a partial or full backup verification. All clever stuff!


So what else can it do?

If you plug a USB drive in to the Esata/USB host port on the bottom of the unit you can copy backups from the NextoDi to the USB drive using the Sync function. It should be noted that the USB drive must be FAT32 formatted. You can also make simultaneous backup copies to both the NextoDi and the USB drive. These functions are great for creating double backups, either to hand off to a client or for extra security. The only down side is that the copy speed is restricted by the USB interface so using this mode I was back to similar speeds as my old laptop backup system. However the NVS2500 is a lot more portable than a laptop and it’s simpler to use. Trying to create folders and copy files while bouncing down a road in a car with a laptop on your lap is frustratingly hard to do. With the NVS2500 it’s simply a matter of pluging in the USB drive and then pressing the little thumbstick to start the sync process. One small point to note is that if you are using an external drive you must provide the NVS2500 with an external power source. The cigarette lighter adapter works well in a car, but if your out in the field you can use the supplied AA battery box.

Back at base:

Once back in the edit suite there are no surprises. It’s just as simple to use here too. If you have an Esata port on your computer you can plug the device in via that for ultra fast transfers. If you don’t have Esata then you can connect via USB or Firewire, while not as fast you still have full access to all the backups on the device. Each backup is stored in it’s own folder with the time and date of the clips it contains, which is an excellent way of naming folders, helping you find footage easily in the future.


Well I have to say the NVS2500 has really impressed me and everyone that has seen it. Especially when they see how fast transfers from SxS cards are. My backup laptop is now sitting in a corner in the office gathering dust. I just love the fact that I can pop the 2500 in a rucksack or even a large pocket and I really can do a quick backup just about anywhere with the very minimum of fuss. I really don’t know how I managed without one. It will be coming with me to the Arctic in January so I’ll be able to see how it deals with the cold. The NextoDi NVS2500 gets 9/10 from me. If the LCD was bigger and playback smoother then it would be 10/10, but all in all an excellent device that has been given the nickname “the magic box”.

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

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