First play with the Sony HXR-MC50 “Very impressive pictures”

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Received my review camcorder today from H Preston Media and so far very impressive pictures, you get 64GB internal memory and a slot underneath for an SDHC card or Sony’s own Memory Stick Pro Duo. Took me ages to work out how to assign manual exposure but it’s simple when you know how. I am away part of next week and will be filming a review from the Isle of Arran, I will post this as soon as possible soon after. Note. I have replaced my 1st video as it had an encoding fault it is now on my trusty Exposure Room server.

[xr_video id=”baea3e1cf1e940ebae2137f064fb48fd” size=”md”]

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

Sionara DSLR time is running out…!

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This is a bit like waiting for the final Harry Potter book…in two months time a new sun will rise and the Sony NEX-VG10 will be available for around £1600, this new camcorder will have interchangeable lenses and the coveted shallow depth of field (SDoF).

Although the first SDoF camcorder will be in the domestic camp it will shortly be followed by the Panasonic AF100 allowing Canon, Nikon, Prime lenses via special adapters. This will bring about a water shed …finally converting many DSLR followers back to the camcorder.

A camcorder like no other as Sony would tell us… interchangeable lenses, shallow depth of field, proper 16bit sound controls with inputs, hi resolution swivel viewfinder, ergonomically correct and no time limits when recording.

The Holy Grail is finally on it’s way and the end is in sight for the DSLR as we know it…I suspect we will see some “new video” features as Japan plays catch up but only the dedicated and to be fair those who have heavily invested in the DSLR will continue to sing it’s praises. They will become the minority as we see more SDoF camcorders roll out from Sony, Canon, JVC and Panasonic.

EBAY will be awash with DSLRs…selling to buy the latest FilmLike camcorder the equilibrium will finally be restored DSLR for the photographer and the FilmLike SDoF camcorder for the film maker.

Dont forget up till now when Mr Canon and Mr Nikon sit down to manufacturer your DSLR they place top priority getting the photographic side of the camera optimised to the detriment of the video side hence the ailasing problems shown quite clearly by Alister Chapman.

People go on about “how cheap” the DSLR is in respect to video but forget how much they have to spend getting extra lenses, external audio equipment, remote control, fancy magnified loupes the list goes on…so your initial £1200 purchase climbs up to nearer £3200…not so cheap !

A prediction for the future…

My money is on Mr Bloom the GURU of the DSLR, he will have a passing look at the Sony VG10 but it’s domestic feel will not entice him…the Panasonic VF100 will ring a lot of bells being a more pro calibre, prime lenses etc but I think he will plum for the Pro Sony FilmLike camera. Philip Bloom is a film maker at heart and is looking for a camera that suits his style of filming, the DSLR in my opinion is not an ENG cameraman’s natural choice ergonomically, Philip has adapted to suit his needs.

Philip has been an ENG cameraman for many years and used 35mm adapters to give him that SDoF but his cameraman’s sore back I suspect gave him jip lugging around such heavy gear which is why he took to the DSLR…great low light pictures, SDoF and 100 times lighter.

Philip is too much the gentleman to drop the DSLR so he will run in tandem for a while but my bet is that he will be persuaded by the FilmLike Pro camcorder for it is closer to what a cameraman is naturally used to using.

I on the other hand could not care less for 35mm adapters, using my Canon 5D2 for anything other than photography and look forward to reviewing as many camcorders that may come my way, the DSLR has given a lot of pleasure and opened up your choice when filming SDoF and thats to be commended but as a truly professional tool it is sadly lacking and a year from now the “talk of the steamie” on all our blogs will be FilmLike camcorders like it or not !

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

Sony NEX-VG10 E-mount HD camcorder due in September $1999

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Who could have envisaged that Sony would have an interchangeable lens domestic camcorder out before it’s professional big brother…this year…in September…fantastic ! This will certainly have a major impact on the DSLR at the price point of $1999.

I was alway curious when Sony kept omitting to add video function to their Alpha range (excluding the NEX camera) when Canon and Nikon added this function to their domestic and pro range of SLR cameras, now we know why !

I am one of the few DPs who never took to the DSLR for video use as they are cumbersome to use and not fit for purpose. Now we are seeing a fight back from the camcorder manufacturers the balance will be restored and the DSLR will become like the cine camera, useful for it’s time.

Everyone including myself have been banging on about the Panasonic AF100 due late October forgetting that Sony had mentioned that a FilmLike domestic camcorder was due in September and the good news is the price point of $1999 this sets the bar right smack in the lower end of the DSLR and can take Sony’s full rage of Pro lenses with an adapter and no doubt take Canon and Nikon lenses when an adapter is produced.

This in my opinion will take the feet away from the DSLR market and when we get the PRO versions we will see a serious decline in DSLR manufacture though Canon may have one more trick up it’s sleave…a parting shot like a 4 K DSLR to match REDs EPIC but then again pigs might fly.

With its included 18-200mm Image Stabilised lens f3.5-6.3, the Sony NEX-VG10 is the size of a prosumer camcorder. Theoretically, it could’ve been built to be just as small as its NEX camera siblings, but its bigger build and large top-mounted handle makes it more comfortable and versatile for shooting handheld video over long periods of time.

Sony has used this larger build to pack in a few more video-centric features—a microphone input, headphone output, an electronic viewfinder, two hot shoe ports (one compatible with Sony Alpha D-SLR accessories and a universal cold shoe for video accessories) and superior built-in stereo recording, which actually uses four cardioid microphones.

Two key elements will make video image quality from the NEX-VG10 superior to that of NEX cameras. First, the video recordings will pack in more data; the Sony NEX-5 offers 1080i60 HD recordings that display 17 megabits of data per second, while the VG10 will offer up to 24 megabits. Second, while recording video, the VG10 will let you control the aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity and white balance. Basically, any adjustments you can make to still images on a NEX camera you can also make to video shot on the VG10, including controlling depth-of-field, the intensity of motion blur and adjusting color temperature.

Like the NEX cameras, the NEX-VG10 is compatible with Sony’s 21 Alpha lenses; but only three lenses are natively compatible. (The NEX-VG10 ships with an 18-200mm lens; 16mm and 18-55mm lenses are available separately). The remaining lenses require an additional $199 adapter and autofocus will not operate when using a lens with the adapter.

Unlike the NEX cameras, the NEX-VG10 camcorder does not shoot still images in the higher-quality RAW image format— it provides JPEG captures only. The VG10 features a Sony Alpha hot shoe for use with Alpha flashes; the NEX cameras only offer a proprietary port that have yet to feature any additional flash accessories. (The NEX-VG10 will also feature a universal cold shoe adapter for general universal attachments.) But the killer feature that the NEX-VG10 and the NEX cameras bring is blazing autofocus.

A traditional D-SLR can only offer fast autofocus when using the optical viewfinder; when switching to its LCD as a viewfinder, the D-SLR bypasses its mirror box and secondary image sensor, which drive its autofocus. In this operation, the D-SLR uses the main image sensor to display images on the LCD and process autofocus, which takes a few seconds. The NEX cameras (and its Micro Four Thirds competitors use faster processors to deliver quick autofocus.

The Sony NEX-VG10 camcorder (bundled with a 18-200mm lens) will be available for $1,999 in September.

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

Serious bug has prevented EPIC going into production

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RED may have shown off a working EPIC camera at NAB back in April, but a serious bug has prevented the camera from actually going into production — to the point which RED founder Jim Jannard himself says that they’re not just behind schedule anymore, they are “embarrassingly late.” He now says that the company has managed to nail the bug, however, and that the camera is back on track to head into production… sometime. Jannard also assures us that production of the Scarlet camera (also affected by the bug) will then follow, although that depends on “how fast we can get EPIC production rolling and solid” — he did later add that he expects it to be sometime before the end of the year, though.

I don’t doubt the quality of such a stunning stills-motion camera but I think if the Panasonic AF100 appears late October it will certainly take the edge off EPIC but will have also have a serious impact on Scarlet. Jim and his team have been struggling this last year to bring out EPIC and Scarlet and this “bug” seems to be intrinsic to both cameras telling me it’s a possible problem with the quality of the chip itself.

When Canon produced their first high quality 6MP chips they had no end of problems so much so that the same problems filtered into the marketplace causing Canon and their end users many sleepless nights.

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

The Glasgow Camcorder Centre “The End of an Era in Glasgow”

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After 20 years on Great Western Road, in the heart of Glasgow’s fashionable West end the Glasgow Camcorder Centre  (GCC) closes it’s doors on the 23rd July 2010. From all accounts last year was a bad year financially, in fact things were so bad the shop could not continue a further year despite an upturn in business over the last two months.

I bought my first mini DV camcorder, the Sony VX-1000 during 1995 from the Glasgow Camcorder Centre…that was fifteen years ago. DV was the start of the big change both in broadcast and corporate video in fact good old broadcast as usual decided mini DV was not a broadcast standard…times don’t change nor does the snobbery within the broadcast industry.

The Glasgow Camcorder Centre was the place to go for all those nick nacks no one else bothered to stock like Sony’s 4 pin firewire cable, editing controllers, mini DV tape, standard DV tape, lens cleaners, Rycote wind jammers, Manfrotto camera plates, all sizes of batteries, AV cables, camera bags, camcorders from Sony, Panasonic and Canon.

I also bought my HDR1000 DV editing mains deck from GCC, all the boys got their kit from Bill…times were good not only for GCC but we all took to DV like ducks to water and the only place in town selling Sony DV kit was the GCC.

DV was an instant hit for the GCC and soon Queen Margaret Drive came knocking… the BBC had finally come to their senses and decided this upstart of a format (DV) was indeed good enough for broadcast work and started buying kit like it was going out of fashion, not using it for mainstream…yet…but as inserts to children’s programmes etc.

Yes those early days of mini DV brought a lot of customers to the shop and a new bigger fish was to enter…Education. With mini DV taking off it left a gap in the market for S-VHS camcorders and tape decks, no one was buying SVHS any more so it became heavily discounted and the education departments could not buy enough of the stock.

So what went wrong…firstly competition from down south, H Preston introduced part exchange, this took a lot of customers including myself and to be fair the GCC only stocked domestic and some semi Pro camcorders mainly Sony and Canon …so limiting the appeal of the professional marketplace. Another problem was that people would gleam information from the staff, buy the same model else ware saving £100 or so then go back to the shop, buy low profit accessories that the box pushers weren’t interested in stocking…a shameful practice.

The internet played it’s part with so called “companies” offering better discounts on video gear further eroding the shops appeal. Lastly the the BBC had moved away as did their business, education dried up, the internet was taking a lot of business and finally the 2009 recession came like the grim reaper destroying any 1920 x 1080 HD television sales dead in the water,…who wants to spend money on hi end televisions when your job is on the line.

Managing director Bill Forbes told me “After 19 good years of trading even the name went against us although we sell the latest LCD and plasma televisions people don’t associate the words Camcorder Centre with HD televisions”.

There are two stores one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh, Glasgow went big on Sony/Canon and Edinburgh sell Panasonic exclusively, the Edinburgh store continues to trade as normal while the Glasgow store closes on the 23rd of July 2010.

Is their a moral to this story…DV brought GCC a new type of customer in the way of professionalism from the wedding boys to the BBC but chose to stay semi pro and prices that were not competitive even to the extent of mini DV tape. I was using a fair amount of mini DV tape in the late 1990s so price was important, Bill could not touch the price I was getting for Sony DV tape, again I was having to source from down south nor could he compete with the likes of Preston’s and their part exchange scheme.

Strangely Sony have five arms one being domestic AV sales, Bill tried in the early days to get Sony to supply semi pro camcorders like the PMW-150 but in true Japanese logic you had to buy into a far bigger slice of the pro cake and Bill could not afford to go down that road.

As DV grew up to DVCAM so the new pro customers grew tired of the GCC and went their new ways mainly purchasing from down south, I am sad to be reporting the demise of a great institution like the Glasgow Camcorder Centre and the talented staff who are to be made redundant, in fact the moral of this story is that only a good shop can keep staff for 20 years service giving out good advice on video equipment they new inside out…unlike your big mainstream electrical stores !

Just a note if you live in the Glasgow area and are looking for some bargains… Glasgow Camcorder have some Sony kit for sale like this HDV 700 player with HDMI, component, 4 pin fire wire, composite out…YC and composite inputs….Also works with L or M Sony batteries. This unit is great for ingesting mini DV/HDV footage into your computer and can record as well.

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

A glimpse into the future with the Canon WonderCam

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HDW : Strange that Canon seem to think the future is in big, bulky, cumbersome cameras…I would suggest the world is looking for a pocket camera !  PS While I am on about the future…Marti…or should that be Canon what the hell is that stupid “serve no purpose viewfinder” doing on the camera of the future and the curvature on that LCD screen makes it look like a TV screen from the 1960s.

It’s possibly the lamest look into the future I have seen in a long time, the last time I saw a girl dressed in that gear was in “Lost in Space” !  “Warning, Warning ..Will Robinson the future has come back to haunt us…Warning, Warning”

Portraying the digital still camera as an endangered species has been a popular pastime for years in the cellphone industry, and with the high-resolution stills and high-definition video capabilities of the latest round of smartphones, the argument is more convincing than ever when applied to the casual snapshot. But this week at the World Expo in Shanghai, Canon — a name synonymous with high-quality photography — offered a vision of a device that not only supersedes the digital still camera, but will likely eliminate photography as we know it.

With an estimated arrival date two decades in the future, the Canon Wonder Camera concept device has an incredible focal length from macro to 500mm with a single, integrated lens. It boasts massive (unspecified) storage, ultra-high (also unspecified) resolution, multiple facial recognition capabilities beyond that available today, and the ability to keep everything viewable in focus at the same time. But perhaps the most radical thing about this camera is that it’s really a camcorder. Rather than take individual stills, Wonder Camera owners would simply have their pick of perfectly crisp photos as frames grabbed from video.

Instead of waiting to fire the shutter when someone smiles, one could simply indicate a point (or range) in the video to pluck later. The camera’s resolution might even enable multiple high-resolution photos from different parts of a frame. Imagine creating portraits of every member of a grade school class from just a few video frames of the group.
It’s clear that the traditional digital still camera will face as much — if not more — pressure from the high-end camcorder as it will from the cameraphone.

It’s an inevitable evolution. As storage and sensors evolve to ever-escalating video resolution, we’ll eventually be able to use frames from that video as photos suitable for large prints. No more standing around waiting for that perfect moment — just shoot freely and figure it out later. Yes, to achieve the photo quality of today’s DSLRs using this method will require tremendous advances, but consider how much can change in 20 years: two decades ago few Americans had cellphones and that there were no consumer navigation devices or digital cameras. The iPod and TiVo were about ten years away. NCSA Mosaic — the ancestor to Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator — didn’t appear until 1993. The online avant garde in 1990 were dialing up to CompuServe’s text-based service or AOL, and you couldn’t send email between those two services. Well, at least you could watch some videotapes; DVD wouldn’t be introduced until 1995 or hit the U.S. until 1997.
Deriving photos from video could have other benefits as well. Several digital cameras and camcorders today feature “slow-mo” modes of 240 frames per second or even 600 frames per second. Shooting these intermediate frames at different exposures could produce brilliant HDR photos or even video, assuming of course that camera manufacturers don’t find some other way to crack the exposure code by then. One could also overlay audio tracks on photos to retain more of a sense of the environment or capture a choice quote by a child.

Of course, technology often doesn’t move forward in the exact way that we expect, and it is hard to believe that many consumes would carry around devices with the cannon-like protruding lenses of the Wonder Camera prototype. But if it even represents a future vision of the DSLR, it’s clear that the traditional digital still camera will face as much — if not more — pressure from the high-end camcorder as it will from the cameraphone.

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

The Sony HXR-MC50 “Causing a stir” £1300

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HDW : Over the last week I have had 3 companies phone me to see if I am reviewing the new Sony MC50 which came as a surprise to me, they all want to see the camcorder and one person is looking to but 2 of them ! Needless to say when I get my hands on an MC50 I will give it a thorough testing. I think it will sit neatly as a good second camcorder for the EX/NX range…time will tell.

Wide Angle G-Lens
Experience Sony’s latest lens technology with the professional-quality G Lens. Engineered for superior optical performance, Sony G lenses deliver brilliant, accurate colour reproduction and sharp, amazingly detailed images. In addition, the 29.8mm lens offers a very wide angle of view. The six bladed iris offers superb shallow depth of field videography.

10x Optical / 120x Digital Zoom
10x optical zoom helps to bring the action close up from far away. In addition, Digital Zoom Interpolation means that digital zooming (up to 120x) is clearer, with less distortion than previous types of digital zoom.

Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilisation with Active Mode
SteadyShot image stabilisation with Active Mode represents the next step forward in Sony image stabilisation technology. Active Mode improves on existing SteadyShot image stabilisation by allowing the camera to compensate for greater degrees of camera shake and deliver a stunning level of image smoothness.

1/2.88″ Back-Illuminated “Exmor R” CMOS Sensor
Experience low-light sensitivity with improved image clarity and drastically reduced grain with the back-illuminated “Exmor R” sensor. “Exmor R” technology captures footage with high resolution and high sensitivity, while the advanced Sony BIONZ Image Processor improves camera response time and screens out noise to help ensure that the signal from each pixel is as pure as possible.

BIONZ Image Processor
The BIONZ Image Processor works in conjunction with the Exmor CMOS sensor with ClearVid array for pristine imaging. The BIONZ Image Processor provides Data Noise Reduction, Fast Image processing, and Data compression. In addition, the BIONZ Image Processor enables Sony’s Dynamic Range Optimiser for both video and still image capture. The higher processing speed also allows Dual Recording to capture still images while recording video footage.

Dynamic Range Optimiser
The D-Range (Dynamic Range) Optimiser function adjusts the exposure and contrast of an image to counter the effects of high-contrast shooting condition, allowing better picture reproduction. The D-Range Optimiser suppresses “blackout” in dark areas such as shadows and “whiteout” in bright areas such as skies. As a result, the footage appears more natural.

1920 x 1080 Full High Definition AVCHD Recording
1920 x 1080i FULL HD resolution gives your production exceptional high definition quality

64GB Internal Flash Memory
The built-in 64GB embedded flash memory can record and store up to 6 hours of high definition video footage (HD FX mode at 24Mbps), or up to 48 hours of standard definition footage (SD HQ mode).

Media Card Slot
The camcorder accepts a wide range of removeable media including: Memory Stick Duo / Memory Stick PRO Duo / Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo media and SD/SDHC media (optional)

3.5″ Wide Xtra Fine TruBlack LCD Plus Viewfinder
TruBlack technology brings remarkably higher contrast and brightness to the camcorder’s 3.5″ Wide Xtra Fine TruBlack LCD display, delivering more natural, realistic colours and easier viewing in bright conditions by reducing glare. An adjustable 0.27″ colour viewfinder (201k) allows you to capture video and frame your shots with the LCD closed.

Assignable Dial
Get the most out of your camcorder with enhanced manual controls. The assignable dial allows for control of focus, exposure, white balance, iris, and shutter speed. Adjusting the iris lets you control depth of field, while shutter speed allows for control motion blur. There are a total of 6 settings available: Focus, Exposure, AE Shift, WB Shift, Iris control, and Shutter speed control.

Geotagging with Built-In GPS Receiver and NAVTEQ Maps
A built-in GPS receiver gives you the ability to view your current location on the LCD map display, as well as “tag” your shooting locations with GPS metadata. This metadata can be viewed using the Map Index function on the camcorder or once downloaded to your PC using the supplied PMB (Picture Motion Browser) software. Additionally, the receiver automatically adjusts your camcorder’s clock to the proper time zone.

Dedicated Shotgun Microphone and Headphone Inputs
The HXR-MC50E offers a supplied professional shotgun microphone and mount which coupled with the headphone input allows acquisition and monitoring of location sound. (Headphones not supplied)

Golf Shot
Building on the slow-motion capture capabilities of Smooth Slow Record on models such as the HVR-Z5E and Z7E, Golf Shot captures a few seconds of motion as a sequence of up to 22 still images, which can be viewed/printed individually or as a composite “sequence shot” image, great for analysing the nuances of a golf swing, tennis serve, and other fast action for sports science teaching and sports tutoring applications.

2x Faster Quick AF
With the improved autofocus (AF) system, Quick AF, the focusing speed is twice as fast compared to other Sony compact camcorders. Whether in bright daylight or in a dimly lit environment, Quick AF ensures fast, accurate, and consistent focus lock, enabling users to shoot in a wide range of scenes without missing any important moments. When shooting night scenes, conventional AF might struggle to focus, but thanks to the much improved AF algorithm in Quick AF, you can get that all important shot.

Intelligent Auto (10 iAuto modes)
Intelligent Auto mode goes a step beyond traditional auto modes by analysing your shot and then automatically selecting the appropriate settings from ten distinct scene modes: Portrait Mode, Smile Shutter, Backlight Control, Scenery, Night Scenery Mode, High Sensitivity Mode, Macro Mode, Baby Mode, Tripod, and Low Light Mode ideal for corporate or video diary applications where non-camera operators are shooting.

Film Roll Index
Film Roll Index helps you easily find desired clips. When using this feature, the camcorder previews the beginning of clips and can create clip indexes set at specified display intervals (3, 6, or 12 seconds and 1 or 5 minutes)

Direct Copy to External HDD without a PC
Store your content in a whole new way with the ability to copy content from your camcorder directly to an external hard disk drive (optional), all without a pc or mac. Your camcorder can also access content stored on the external hard drive for playback on an HDMI monitor or consumer TV, allowing you to use the camcorder’s handy playback features, great for viewing full HD rushes.

Smooth Slow Record
The Smooth Slow Record mode increases the frame rate from 50 frames per second (fps) to 200 fps, allowing you to capture 3 seconds of fast motion and play the video back in 12 seconds. This is a great tool for analysing a golf swing or a natural history applications.

12MP Digital Still Capture
12 megapixel still image capture lets you take stunning, high resolution digital photos while the Dual record capability lets you capture 8.3MP still images while shooting high definition video – so you can capture still images without having to switch recording modes.

Sony PMB (Picture Motion Browser) Software
Sony Picture Motion Browser software offers a simple, intuitive way to transfer, sort, and view your video and still images on your compatible PC. In addition, multiple output options let you burn your content to DVD (optional), as well as being able to upload your rushes with just one click to popular video sharing sites.

Additional Creative Control and Workflow Features
HDMI output
Power on by simply opening the camera’s LCD display
USB 2.0 provides an easy connection between your camcorder and PC for fast transfer into your NLE
Record and zoom controls on LCD for more control and flexibility, especially for overhead or low angle shots
Dolby Digital stereo recording with built-in zoom mic focuses on subject for clear dialogue and crisp, discrete sounds

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

SONY EX-1 “Don’t just rely on the camcorder audio if your sound is important”

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Last weekend we filmed a band performing at Brodick Hall, Isle of Arran, using two cameras, one being our Sony EX-1, which had a direct feed from the sound desk.

The output from the desk could hardly be described as “Line Level” since with the camera input set to ‘Line’ the on board control had to be set full-up to 10 to register a half-decent level. With the microphone input level set to -41dB, I got a more realistic signal, however, anticipating concert sound levels increasing during the course of the evening, I calibrated the input as low as it would go (-65dB). The concert got under way with full audio modulation at a midway setting of 5 on the camera, so everything seemed spot on, although neither my trusty old headphones nor my ears can cope with excessive acoustic levels these days, so I was relying on visual monitoring of sound levels. By the end of the night, this had never wavered, so seemed fine, although I was shocked to note that towards the end, the signal appeared very highly compressed. That should have alerted me to a potential problem.

Imagine my disappointment upon discovering that as the audio level was increased (perhaps 20dB) during the course of the concert, my recording had become more and more clipped due to overloading the input. However, at no time did the viewfinder monitor reach the red markers, because the input level had clearly been close to clipping from the start. Luckily I had backup from three microphones, so all was not lost, but this was a preventable problem.

I have since invested in some excellent noise-cancelling headphones (only £40 from Lindy) and will stick to the real ‘Line’ input for similar projects from now on, even if this means whacking up the gain on the camera. As for my ears, I’ve lived with them for nearly 59 years, so they’ll have to do.

HDW : It is important when recording live audio from a sound desk to record a back-up onto an audio recorder like a Tascam  DR100 which records onto SDHC cards, that way if your camcorder gives you a bum recording as happened to Chris you have a clean back-up.

When I film the odd theatre production I always use a solid state audio recorder to back-up my sound, most sound technicians will give you a clean feed out of their mixing desk but you have to be prepared to have a bag of gender changers ie. XLR male to XLR male. The obvious lead would be a 1/4″ jack to XLR as some older desks only give you 1/4″ jack outs.

It’s a bit like the Scouts “BE PREPARED” arrive with a professional attitude to the job and you won’t go wrong, another expression is “BELT AND BRACES”

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

BBC APPROVE Canon XF HD camcorders for Independent Productions

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According to the recently updated BBC HD Production Guide, the Canon XF300 (and 305) are approved for independent productions. These Canon’s are now the first 1/3″ chips allowed in HD shows, even though their guidelines require a minimum of 1/2″ sensors.  INFO

Colorimetric and Resolution requirements of cameras by Alan Roberts (BBC)

Tests and settings on a Canon XF300/305

Tests were made on a Canon XF305E, serial number 263050000050, after preliminary tests on a prototype model. The camera has 3 1/3” CMOS sensors and an integral lens. It records MPEG2-compressed video, but all the tests were made using the HDSDI output, captured uncompressed and analysed in software.
The 305 model has HDSDI output, can be genlocked, and has timecode connection, while the 300 has none of these connections. Both models are available in ‘E’ and ‘A’ versions, working at 50Hz and 59.94Hz respectively. A hardware upgrade can be installed in either to make the camera work at both rates, but tests were made only on an unmodified ‘E’ (50Hz, PAL) model. The distinction between models is obscure, and is apparent only on the makers label underneath the camera. Casual users would not be aware of these differences.
The camera weighs 2.65kg, which is fairly heavy for a small-format camera. The built-in lens has 18:1 zoom range from 4.1mm to 73.8mm focal length (equivalent to 29.3 to 527mm in a full-frame 35mm camera). The sensors are CMOS, full-resolution 1920×1080. Recording is onto Compact Flash card (two slots) in MPEG- 2, long-GoP, with MXF file format. Three bit rate options are available: 50Mb/s CBR (constant bit rate) at 4:2:2 colour sampling (1920×1080 or 1280×720), 35Mb/s 4:2:0 VBR (1920×1080 or 1280×720) and 25Mb/s 4:2:0 CBR (1440×1080 only). Thus it complies with broadcast requirements for bit rate and offers more economic rates for greater economy. At these rates, a 64GB card can record 160, 225 and 310 minutes respectively. In 1080 mode, both interlaced and progressive modes are available. Off-speed recording at fixed speeds from 12 to 60fps is possible.
There is a conventional viewfinder (approximately 1650×935 pixels), plus a separate LCD screen (approximately 1480×830 pixels) front mounted, which can be swung out to either side of the camera. Both displays are adequate for focusing.
There are neutral filters for exposure control, and manual control of the lens. Sensitivity is rather good, although it is specified in an obscure way. On-screen video level monitoring is good, there are options for both waveform monitoring and vectorscope. There is an image magnifier as a focus aid.
Connectivity is good, with HDSDI and timecode (only in the 305 model), plus HDMI and USB, analogue component, BNC analogue video, 3.5mm multifunction jack socket and XLRs for audio. Power consumption is about 9 watts at 7.2 volts. The camera performed well under test.

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

2010 the year of the great 3D test

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Ripples from ESPN’s decision to launch a new 3-D sports network are being felt in the U.S. production community. The most recent evidence is last week’s announcement by NEP Broadcasting that it was rolling out two new 3-D production trucks this month. They will make their debut providing production services for ESPN 3D’s coverage of the State Farm Home Run Derby July 12 from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA.

NEP’s SS31 is a revamp of the mobile production truck the production services company cut its 3-D teeth on. SS32 is a new 3-D vehicle. Both are built for 3-D production and will give NEP a strong presence in this emerging slice of the mobile production market.

According to George Hoover, chief technology officer of NEP, 2010 will prove to be the “year of the great 3-D test” a period when everyone from viewers to CE vendors, TV programmers to broadcast service providers learn if 3-D TV enjoys success similar to what 3-D films have found in the theater.

In this podcast interview, Hoover discusses the new vehicles, the thinking behind the trucks, the challenge of finding engineering and production talent for 3-D work and where live 3-D television production may be headed.

From Broadcast Engineering 2010

HDW : I will agree on one thing there is a lot more interest in 3D this year but thats mainly due to the advertising of Sony, Panasonic and Samsung and the demonstration of such televisions in stores like Comet, Curries etc.

I am still of the opinion that the £100 per pair electronic 3D glasses are fine for a demonstration but would become a bind if you had to sit and watch every 3D HD movie with them on.

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