Work for nothing…I need the experience…looks good on the CV

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Now while I think it is great that media has been acknowledged by the colleges and universities, there is a big, big, BIG problem afoot within the industries. I get a lot of emails from students asking me about how to get started in camerawork etc so I know that such people read this site a lot.

The industry is being destroyed. Literally. It is being eaten from within by a gigantic maggot that won’t stop eating until every last morsel has been devoured.

Recently I was told of someone in broadcast whose day rate had been slashed from £300 a day to £80 a day. Now for many media students the idea that someone who does camerawork can get paid between £300 and £600 a day is very enticing. A lot of people think it is a way to become rich. Still others, the ones who are causing the present destruction of the industry think that they can be clever and start charging far less, or doing the work for free.

Let me tell you guys about the £500 average day rate. You might not work every day of the week. Hell on a slow month it might be your only days work! Not sounding so bloody great now is it? Even if you worked most days of the week, that money still has to account for a pot that contains business expenses such as insurance, electricity bills, phone bills etc. It also has to account for any new equipment that is needed. As well as this it has to account for days when you aren’t working, unpaid time basically.

When all the maths are done £500 a day is roughly what you need to keep your business running and to be comfortable. NOT rich. Please also take into account that camerawork is a very highly skilled profession. With that in mind it isn’t a huge amount of money at all. Many camera guys these days are barely breaking even.

This problem is made far, far worse by the sheer number of media students leaving university and being quite willing to work for free or for very low rates just to get their foot in the door. The trouble is this. The employers know that there is a constant stream of shmucks every year who will work for bread and water. Think you have a future in the industry? Think again. You’ve just helped to destroy your own career. Next year there will be more students coming out of Uni who will be hired instead of you because they, like you in the year before, will be willing to work for nothing.

When mainstream broadcast television sinks to the level of offering a budget for four hour long documentary programmes of £2,225 each, there is one hell of a serious problem. Possibly an irreversible one.

The dilution of budgets and advertisers across so many television channels hasn’t helped matters. But low ballers have made an already bad issue a lot worse. You aren’t being clever by offering really low rates. You are killing your own prospects for the future.

HDW : I came against this problem years ago when I filmed in the lucrative quality end of the wedding video market place, the cheap-skaters as I called them, the one’s too frightened to up their prices so they produced quantity rather than quality.

Joe Public don’t care how much your camcorder cost as long as you give them pictures and sound so this ethic snakes it’s way along the wedding video marketplace giving the lower end a bad name and crap prices… £80 for one days filming and one days poor editing. You get what you pay for.

I was charging £900 for our basic package seven years ago when many of my so called competitors were charging £250 for a heap of junk. I dispare that we have HDSLRs filming weddings today not because they produce lesser pictures but more the fact that it’s an open door for anyone with such a basic piece of equipment to pretend they are professional and charge for their work !

The broadcasters will always chance their arms, budgets have been slashed and so have their commissioning power but if I were told to produce four one hour long documentaries for £2,225 each I would tell them to stick their budget up their jacksie and bad mouth them on the internet…only by whistle-blowing on these cowboy broadcasters will sense finally prevail or will it…remember the hard up media student would be only to glad to earn £8,900 to see his/her work on telly and add the experience to his/her CV !

Simon you are giving sound advice but sadly those of us who have worked up the ranks are a minority to the masses of students looking for jobs and work experience, they have spent at least 3 years being kidded by their college or university that this will lead to a job at the end of it knowing all to well that less than 5% per year stand a chance of getting work in the so called “media industry”. They have also started courses on HDSLRs… for what ?…because it’s fashionable not because it’s anything like practical.

In fact there’s a great documentary… someone should follow 10 media students from 10 parts of the UK for 4 years and see who gets a job at the end of their course in mainstream broadcasting !

You can catch Simon here at :


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Sony shows off the NEX-VG10 the 1st in a long line of FilmLike camcorders

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This video demonstrates the new Sony NEX-VG10 in action. These shots of Bali are filmed with the new camera, which is the worlds first interchangeable lens consumer HD camcorder. Find out more about it on our blog:

As you can see “Pretty Pictures” can be produced by all sorts of cameras albeit an HDSLR or as in this case a FilmLike camcorder. Personally I find the quality of these pictures as good as anything produced by an HDSLR.

Remembering this is number one…domestic… FilmLike camcorder… even so it’s full feature set stands a mile above any HDSLR and you can convert it for 24p if that’s your bag or in most cases your beef. Like the Canon 5D2 it may also benefit by having a firmware upgrade to 24p, who knows.

Things are really buzzing thanks to Sony and Panasonic addressing the issues of shallow depth of field camcorders. In 15 days time Panasonic are going to announce the prices for the AF100 professional FilmLike camcorder and Sony are going to show off a version 2 of their camcorder with possibly prices and dates.

I find it hilarious when I get emails from disgruntled HDSLR users when their anger should be addressed at Canon or Nikon for not fixing the inherent problems that make these cameras less than favourable with professionals in fact let me quote one of the top men in the HDSLR field, Philip Bloom “Now we also know these cameras have some massive limitations. Sound recording in cameras sucks more than Telly Savalas sucked on his lolly. Moire and aliasing give me night sweats. Rolling shutter makes me nauseous. Crappy HDMI connections have driven me to hard drugs (joking!). H264 will make me go postal one day!! There are more issues but no point going over all of them, we know them, we live with them, we work around them. That is life. Always has been and always will be.” (Extracted from The future of video DSLRs by Philip Bloom)

I think the future is bright for those of us who wish to produce FilmLike (FL) video footage there is such a choice though my money is on the FL camcorder, lots of budgets from students to production houses, though I do think the 35mm adapters are on a shaky nail.

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

AVID Media Composer 5

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Once again Avid have jumped ahead of Apple with their new updated Media Composer 5. Avid are looking to steal back some FCP editors with their new updated editing software. CS5 Premiere Pro is also tempting FCP users so my advice for Apple is “GET YOU FINGER OUT” !

What’s new

Directly access and edit RED files through AMA, without transcoding (images are scaled to HD frame size)

Work natively with QuickTime video formats, including Apple ProRes and H.264

Edit video and audio by dragging and dropping elements in the timeline

Keep high-end finishing projects in-house and gain great color precision with HD-RGB support (including dual-link I/O support with Nitris DX systems)

Monitor video externally with support for the Matrox MXO2 Mini

Mix and match frame sizes and aspect ratios — in addition to formats, frame rates, and resolutions — in the same timeline

Take a break during long renders and have your system email you when the job’s done

Import AVCHD files directly from cameras and other devices

Capture to and edit XDCAM HD and DVC PRO HD formats from baseband without additional hardware

Access low-res XDCAM proxies for offline work, with full-quality audio

Import text-based ancillary data and embed it in the video signal with the new “Data Track” and SMPTE 436M support using Nitris DX- and Mojo DX-based systems

View stereo audio tracks as single channels in the timeline for easier handling

Create high-quality sounds and mixes with support for RTAS audio processing plug-ins

Natively access and edit 4:2:2 MPEG-2 media from the new Canon cameras using AMA

Work Directly with RED Using the Newly Improved AMA

With Media Composer 5, AMA (Avid Media Access) has been completely reengineered, so you can work natively with more file-based media formats now and in the future. With the new and improved AMA, you can

speed up RED workflows by directly accessing RED files (.R3D) in Media Composer without having to prepare them through MetaFuze (all footage is scaled to HD frame size). Plus, you have access to its full meta data and color management data too.

Edit QuickTime Formats Natively

Get native access to all popular QuickTime formats, with full access to clip metadata. Thanks to AMA, you can natively access and edit any movie that can be played in Apple’s QuickTime Player (including Apple ProRes and .mov files captured by Canon 5D and 7D cameras) right in Media Composer — no transcoding, rewrapping, or logging and transferring required.

Drag and Drop Video and Audio to Edit

Get comfortable — with Media Composer 5, you can truly edit the way you like. In addition to the standard way of editing, you can also now directly manipulate elements in the timeline to edit video and audio. Drag and

drop clips anywhere you want on the timeline to rearrange sequences. And grab a clip’s in or out point and drag to trim a scene, dialog, or music.

Get Full-Quality HD-RGB Processing

Keep those finishing jobs in house, and deliver the highest quality color and effects work, with support for full-quality 4:4:4 HD-RGB color space processing in Media Composer. With the higher resolution detail, you can perform color correction, keying, and effects work with greater precision and ease. And if you have a Nitris DX-based system, you can digitize, process, monitor, and output projects in HD-RGB, using the two HD SDI connections to handle the high-bandwidth resolutions.” RGB i/o is in all Nitris DX products.

Monitor Video Externally through Matrox MXO2 Mini

If you don’t have a Nitris DX- or Mojo DX-based system, Media Composer 5 opens the door to third-party workflows, enabling you to monitor video externally using the Matrox MXO2 Mini interface, which is available for Mac and Windows systems. When paired with Media Composer software, MXO2 Mini becomes a dedicated, high-quality monitor-only solution for file-based or workgroup production, so you can view your video work in real time without any major expense.

HDW : I just noticed this on XDCAM-USER from Simon Wyndham

“I’m more than a little fed up with FCP of late. The amount of rendering needed for even simple things drives me up the wall. I tried the demo of Premiere CS5 and I liked it. I also tried the demo of Avid Media Composer 5. They have finally moved to the 21st century and now allow dragging and dropping of clips onto the timeline. What Avid doesn’t appear to have fixed though is the absolutely horrendous default multi monitor support and the fact that it keeps crashing every two seconds.

I’ll wait a little longer to see what Apple do.”


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

My Memory is a RECOMMENDED web site for SDHC cards

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You can shop here


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

Sony to show updated Pro FilmLike camcorder at IBC

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Interesting that Sony use the same SINGLE picture of their FilmLike Pro camcorder as seen at NAB 2010 earlier on this year to indicate some further updates to this work in progress. Sony are having a massive following for their NEX-VG10 domestic camcorder and I know a few DPs keeping a watchful eye on the new Sony Pro model.

IBC kicks off in 13 days and Panasonic will not only have a working model of their AG-AF100 FilmLike camcorder but pricing as well. This is Panasonic’s year for being ahead of the game with their AF100 camcorder.

I am really exited by this new technology as finally we get a shallow depth of field camcorder that does not look cumbersome using 35mm adaptors or amateurish using an HDSLR. As usual HD Warrior will get to try out these new camcorders as soon as they become available.

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

Sonnett’s Express Card Reader now SDXC card compatible

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Sonnett Technologies has announced SDXC card support for its Multimedia Memory Card Reader & Writer ExpressCard/34 adapter, enabling users with MacBook Pro and Windows laptop computers equipped with an ExpressCard slot to use these extended-capacity cards designed for the latest high-megapixel digital cameras and digital video camcorders. The new format SDXC cards (starting at 64GB) surpass previous-generation SDHC cards 32GB maximum capacity.

Sonnet’s Multimedia Memory Card Reader & Writer ExpressCard/34 quickly moves files from memory cards to a notebook computer’s hard drive, with no cables required. This handy device inserts flush inside a MacBook Pro or Windows notebook’s ExpressCard slot so it can be carried inside the computer slot even when not in use. The Sonnet multimedia reader supports the most popular memory card formats used in digital cameras, cell phones, and other electronic devices, including Memory Stick, MMC (Multimedia Card), SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity), XD-Picture Card, and all their variations. This card works in ExpressCard/34 and ExpressCard/54 slots, and supports SDXC in Mac OS v10.6.4, Windows 7, Windows Vista SP1, and Windows XP (with Microsoft file system driver update).

Users can add SDXC card support by visiting the support area on the Sonnet web site.

Sonnet’s Multimedia Memory Card Reader & Writer ExpressCard/34 (part number MMRW-E34) is available now for the suggested retail price of $29.95.

More information on the Multimedia Memory Card Reader & Writer ExpressCard/34 is available at here. More information on Sonnet and its products is available at

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Burning a Canon 5D2 “Not Recommended”

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Some chap has decided to burn his Canon 5D2 and show it on YouTube…now thats his choice but the camera was waterlogged and beyond repair. As a photographer I do not condone actions such as this but it makes a strong advert for Panasonic and Sony !

You can see the whole cremation here…OR was here… OOPs the fire eating chap has removed his video !

Strange just on the same day that Canon officially announce the EOS60D the first Canon HDSLR to have a swivel viewfinder…about time too…lets hope this is a feature for all Canon HDSLRs as photographers would benefit from this feature as well.

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

Two great offers from CVP

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Canon develop the first 120 megapixel APS-H CMOS sensor

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Canon Inc. announced today that it has successfully developed an APS-H-size*1 CMOS image sensor that delivers an image resolution of approximately 120 megapixels (13,280 x 9,184 pixels), the world’s highest level*2 of resolution for its size.

Compared with Canon’s highest-resolution commercial CMOS sensor of the same size, comprising approximately 16.1 million pixels, the newly developed sensor features a pixel count that, at approximately 120 million pixels, is nearly 7.5 times larger and offers a 2.4-fold improvement in resolution.*3

With CMOS sensors, while high-speed readout for high pixel counts is achieved through parallel processing, an increase in parallel-processing signal counts can result in such problems as signal delays and minor deviations in timing. By modifying the method employed to control the readout circuit timing, Canon successfully achieved the high-speed readout of sensor signals. As a result, the new CMOS sensor makes possible a maximum output speed of approximately 9.5 frames per second, supporting the continuous shooting of ultra-high-resolution images.

Canon’s newly developed CMOS sensor also incorporates a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) video output capability. The sensor can output Full HD video from any approximately one-sixtieth-sized section of its total surface area.

Images captured with Canon’s newly developed approximately 120-megapixel CMOS image sensor, even when cropped or digitally magnified, maintain higher levels of definition and clarity than ever before. Additionally, the sensor enables image confirmation across a wide image area, with Full HD video viewing of a select portion of the overall frame.

Through the further development of CMOS image sensors, Canon will break new ground in the world of image expression, targeting new still images that largely surpass those made possible with film, and video movies that capitalize on the unique merits of SLR cameras, namely their high mobility and the expressive power offered through interchangeable lenses.

*1The imaging area of the newly developed sensor measures approx. 29.2 x 20.2 mm.
*2 As of August 20, 2010. Based on a Canon study.
*3 Canon’s highest-resolution commercial CMOS sensor, employed in the company’s EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR cameras, is equivalent to the full-frame size of the 35 mm film format and incorporates approximately 21.1 million pixels. In 2007, the company successfully developed an APS-H-size sensor with approximately 50 million pixels.

HDW : 120MP is a massive jump in quality in anybody’s books and is a direct poke at RED in my opinion, don’t quite know what Canon are going to do with such a beast but you can be well assured that it will not be a £2500 camera with a 120MP chip inside it.

As an aside we have 20 days till Panasonic announce the pricing and availability of the AF100 which will have an instant impact with the professional video world. DPs will have a camcorder fit for purpose with all the professional features of film look camcorder. This development will swing many cameramen away from the handicapped HDSLR.

Sadly none of the photographic manufacturers were willing to go that one step further dealing with all the inherent technical issues that dog the HDSLR and are now being surpassed by the video manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic.

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

IBC Amsterdam 2010 Exhibition 10-14 September

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