Update on the Three Brothers (Panasonic 130, 160 & 250)

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This is a blog produced by Kunihiko Miyagi who is the Director of Pro Video at Panasonic and gives a pleasant insight into a forthcoming firmware upgrade due out next year for the 160 camcorder.
It has now been over two months since we started shipping our new handheld series of cameras, the P2 HPX250 and AVCCAM AC160 and AC130. So far, we have sold many more than planned, and are scrambling to keep up with production.I am so happy that users have quickly become so enamored with these cameras. I’ve also been extremely curious about what people have been saying after using these products, so have been closely watching the web for information about “the handheld brothers” since their release.
I am really happy to hear all the comments praising the cameras, and feel that I have to listen honestly to the criticisms that have also appeared. There have been many positives and some negatives mentioned, but I would like to focus on just a few of each:
Some Positives
-The cameras are large, but they are light and well-balanced, so long duration shooting is not a problem
-The 22X zoom is great, and the 2X digital zoom is also very usable Some Negatives
-The location of the time stamp on the AC130 and AC160 is too high. 
Our intention was to make sure that the display information (OSD) didn’t overlap with the time stamp, but the end result is that the time stamp is too far to the center of the screen, interfering with the subjects being recorded. We are currently working on a way to fix this. Specialized tools are needed to adjust this, so it is something that will have to be done at a service center. The details for how to get this upgrade performed in your region will be made available by your local service department at a later date.-Some claims that the autofocus is slow (especially on the tele end)
Autofocus algorithms are designed to balance the following elements:

  • Movement distance of lens mechanisms
  • Focus speed
  • “Hunting” around the focal point

For professional use cameras, reduced hunting and smooth movement during zoom operation is very important, which is why it may seem that the AF is slow.
Especially, with this new, industry best 22X zoom lens being used, it may feel especially slow on the tele end. A way to cope, and quickly get focus is to use the PUSH AUTO button, while in auto focus mode. Please experiment with this technique.

-Finally, although there have been no complaints to speak of, during development many people told us that they wanted to shoot in Full HD progressive (AVCHD Progressive standard), or 1080/60p, 1080/50p. We wanted to be able to include this in the new cameras, but were not able to do so in time for their launch. We are now working hard to make this feature available for the AC160 through a free firmware upgrade by next spring. Those of you who expect to need to shoot in Full HD Progressive in the future can go ahead and purchase an AC160 today without worry.

At Panasonic, we want to opinions and ideas from all our customers and potential customers. Please let us know what you think about this or any other issues via our websitefacebook, or twitter.

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

Large sensors in 2012 a look into the future

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Good old Canon certainly threw down the gauntlet with their C300 offering during the last embers of 2011, Philip Bloom has had his first look over the camera and was more than impressed with it’s overall build quality though he agrees with me about not having 10bit out of the SDI socket, a major mistake in my books. If you are out to not only impress your competition e.g. the Sony F3 you are in my opinion letting your guard down by not producing similar specs to the F3  (10bit out of the SDI socket with 4:4:4 as a firmware upgrade).

If Japan perceives this £10K+ large sensor market as their sweet spot for sales they must cut the ties with the past and start producing cameras fit for purpose 10bit, 4:2:2, 50Mbs is the MINIMUM starting point from here on in and anything less will be a joke.

Once again the compactness of the Canon making it look more akin to a medium format photographic camera is in my opinion the wrong way to go the Sony F3 is about the right size though when you look at the ARRI Alexa it’s a bruit compared to both the Sony and the Canon.

Film units are used to coping with lots of metal when it comes to cameras especially 35mm film units, I am not condemning the Canon but when you start to add prime lenses the weight of the glass certainly upsets the balance between the camera and the lens.

What about 2012 what do I predict Sony and Panasonic will come up with…

SONY : I think we may see a new F5 around NAB time certainly with 50Mbs capability if not better, 10 bit 4:2:2 and dare I say it 4K recording with a  better hi res viewfinder rather than the pull out version seen on the F3 today.

I don’t see Sony upgrading the FS100 anytime soon as that would fight against any new camera like the F5.

PANASONIC : Due to having the first large sensor camcorder out in the market Panasonic hit an all time high with huge sales for their very popular AF101, two things that let it down slightly are the lack of resolution (800 lines) compared to the competition and the 8 bit processing (same as the competition…FS100), many cameramen have spent an extraordinary amount of time developing scene files to blend a less noisy picture versus banding thats exacerbated when you tweak for a less noisy picture.

The AF301 a direct poke at Canon will have 10bit, 4:2:2 processing as seen on the HPX250 and will swap over to P2 giving us AVC Intra, unless P2 becomes a lot cheaper the P2 route if chosen would be an achilles heal for an updated AF101. I don’t see Panasonic going away from micro Four Thirds as they have invested far too much development on lenses. I hope we see a far better viewfinder and far higher resolution on version two (1000 lines +).

JVC : We saw a concept 4K camcorder from JVC at IBC 2011 but with the crazy 4 card recording system and as yet no NLE supporting it I think it will stay a concept let alone the size of the camcorder and no interchangeable lens system.

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

Sony FIRMWARE UPDATE NEWS FS100 and NX70

Categories: Miscellaneous 16 Comments

 

Sony have now disclosed the new firmware due out in March 2012 for the NEX-FS100 and the HXR-NX70.

NEX-FS100 Improvements due March 2012

1. 60(59.94)Hz /50Hz (NTSC/PAL) switchable feature. FS100E can have the 60p(59.94p), 60i (59.94i),30p(29.97p) and 24p(23.98p) recording modes
2. Camera Profile (camera setting saved in a memory card) It allows users to recall the previous camera settings easily. It also helps multi-camera shooting preparation.
3. Expanded Focus (x4/x8, selectable focus area) It allows user to select the magnification size and area to be expanded.
4. ISO sensitivity display. For users who are familiar with traditional filming term, it will be possible to switch between ISO and Gain (dB) display.
5. Focus feet, Shutter angle display. For users who are familiar with traditional filming term, it will be possible to switch between feet and meter for focus position display when an E-mount lens is used. Also, switchable between second and degree for shutter speed display.
6. Variation added for “Aspect markers”
7. Compatibility with new A-mount to E-mount adaptor [LA-EA2] with Translucent Mirror Technology Auto Focus operation is available with Sony A-mount alpha lens

HXR-NX70 Improvements due March 2012

1. Improvement of zoom rocker operation (Selectable zoom speed) The maximum speed of zooming via the zoom rocker key will be selectable for more smooth zooming.
2. Simultaneous Rec. with internal memory (96GB) and removable memory card.The secure hybrid recording can offer reliable backup recording.
3. 1280×720/50p additional recording mode. Good for web-based movie with smaller data than 1080 or for compatibility with existing 720p system.
4 Assignable keys
5. Last Scene Review feature. One-touch playback of a recorded clip
6. Face detection window can be turned off by “Display on/off” for line-out purpose
7. “Zebra” and “Histogram” can be turned on by “Display on/off” for line out purpose.
Clean output for an external recorder, monitor etc.

So there you have it Sony do listen to their customers and we can expect some fantastic new features on the FS100 and the NX70 come March 2012. As an owner of 2 NX70s and an FS100 this is fantastic news, the new features like NTSC mode, storing camera profiles to card and 4,8x expanded focus is a great enhancement.

We told Sony that the zoom rocker on the NX70 was virtually unusable and as I suspect the best we can expect is a selectable speed rather than the more desirable variable speed but being able to slow the zoom down will be a major bonus to me.

Simultaneous recording will be a great asset for the NX70 and my favourite 720 50p recording mode being added will make this a great all round camcorder. I didn’t realise that we couldn’t review the last scene on the NX70 so that will be an extra bonus worth waiting for.

This is where the internet really scores, customers world wide can now express their feelings direct to the manufacturer who can make changes like the NX70 rocker switch and with an end user firmware update their camcorder will be as good as new if not better !

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A Must Watch Video !

Categories: Miscellaneous 2 Comments

If you think you are creative this will put you to shame.

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Super 35mm Movie Maker $85

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For all you budding movie makers here is a chance to down tools to the digital world and use a totally analogue film camera. Beware : The maker of this camera has been able to transfer the 35mm film footage onto video but as far as I am aware this won’t be possible with the basic kit shown here.

With this device (pictured above), amateur filmmakers can manually produce their own frill-free movies on any roll of 35mm film. All you have to do is load your film into the so-called “magic box,” turn the crank and let the LomoKino work its magic. The camera, which boasts a 25mm lens and max aperture of f/5.6, will capture 144 shots on a single roll of film, good for about 50 to 60 seconds of footage.

It also supports a wide array of effects, including slide film, color negative, redscale and black and white. Once that’s developed, you can run it through Lomography’s LomoKinoScope, direct it toward a light source, and watch your homemade Baby’s Lunch or Nanook of the North unfold before your eyes. You won’t find any sound, special effects, or fancy post-production tools here — just moving images, plain and cinematically pure. Lumiere enthusiasts can grab one now for $80, or opt for both the LomoKino and the LomoKinoScope, bundled togetherfor $100.

 

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

Vincent Laforet jumps ship and chooses Premiere Pro (Updated)

Categories: Miscellaneous 23 Comments

 

Many of us have been editing with FCP for a few years now and were exited when Apple finally decided to re-write FCP from the ground up finally giving us a 64bit architecture, FCP only works on the Apple Mac so if you are intrenched as most of us are in the Mac platform the alternatives are AVID and Adobe’s Premiere Pro.

Sadly, Final Cut Pro has been haemorrhaging professional customers to AVID and Adobe since the introduction of FCP-10. Walter Murch reckons he has finally reached the end of the road with FCP, Vincent Laforet a big player in the USA is now editing on Premiere Pro, our good friend Alister Chapman from XDCAM USER has written this blog recently…

Alister “Well I’ve been deliberating, experimenting and talking to other editors over which NLE to adopt following the launch of FCP-X. I’ve played with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 which is really easy to transition to from FCP as it has a similar interface and editing style. I’ve experimented with FCP-X, which is very fast but has so many missing features and forces you to work in ways I don’t always like and I’ve even considered ditching my Mac’s and getting PC’s to run Edius or Vegas. Vegas is very powerful but has a quirky interface, while I hear nothing but good things about Edius, I guess I’m just not ready to ditch my Mac’s just yet. So that leaves Avid Media Composer.

For a long time my biggest issue with Avid has been the inability to use 3rd party IO devices like low cost Blackmagic or AJA HDSDi cards. But that’s all started to change. The current version of Media Composer (5.5) will allow you to use a Matrox MXO or AJA IO Express. So now you can easily connect to the external world from your Avid edit suite. A few days ago Avid announced that they will soon be releasing Media Composer 6 which is to be a very significant update.

MC 6 will make it much easier for 3rd party IO manufactures to produce cards that will work with Avid. It will also work natively with Apple ProRes, so all my old ProRes files from my FCP projects will go straight in to Avid. In addition Avid are introducing a 444 version of their DNxHD codec, so this will be a good match for my F3 and S-Log.  Avid also supports 3D editing and now comes with a comprehensive set of production tools including Boris Continuum, Boris Effects, SonicFire Smartsound, Sorenson Squeeze and Sonic Avid DVD (PC Only). Media Composer 6 is also a 64bit application show should run nice and quick.

It’s been a while since I used Avid on a day to day basis so I will have a bit of learning to do, but it’s reassuring to know that Avid are specialists in NLE software, so it will work and will do what an editor wants.  So with the software chosen now all I need to do is work out which external IO to get. As my Mac’s have Thunderbolt, the Matrox MXO boxes make an interesting and low cost option.”

Apple have made a fundamental mistake bringing FCPX onto a mature professional marketplace by re-writing and changing the game plan way beyond what many of us would accept. If you had tinkered with iMovie then you were almost there, it was a very bad miscalculation by Apple to assume everyone was now solid state and and even worse to assume we were past outputting to DVD let alone Blu-ray.

I cannot recommend FCP-10 as a professional platform as it’s fundamentally flawed by not having a bolt on DVD authoring program let alone no way of previewing your output to a professional monitor.

Preview and multicam are being added to FCPX as I write but I think it’s now too late for Apple to play catch up over AVID and Adobe and if you need a suite that gives you editing and DVD authoring all on the same platform then look no further than Adobe’s Premiere Pro for Mac or PC.

AVID in my opinion could have cornered the market if they had brought out Media Composer 6 at around £800 but at £1749 the full retail price and not having a DVD authoring program dedicated to the Mac platform it’s a price many of us are not willing to pay.

Pulitzer prize winning photographer, turned HDSLR Filmmaker Vincent Laforet, created a new hour long tutorial detailing his complete Abobe Premiere workflow. The informative video is especially useful for those disgruntled Final Cut pro X users who are thinking about making the switch to Premiere Pro.

The important point some people are missing is that Final Cut Pro had built up a large professional following quite a few crossing over from AVID and without doubt it was the number one editing platform, many of us are still cutting on FCP-7 and in my opinion the only company listening to the needs of professionals is Adobe…they at least not only came back to the Mac platform but gave us a 64bit version without changing the program itself…something Apple should have taken on board.

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

Shot with a Nikon 3Ds from space

Categories: Miscellaneous 2 Comments

If only Mr Chapman could get his Sony F3 into space ?

Time lapse sequences of photographs taken by Ron Garan, Satoshi Furukawa
and the crew of expedition 28 & 29 onboard the International Space Station from
August to October, 2011, who to my knowledge shot these pictures at an altitude
of around 350 km. All credit goes to them. I intend to upload a FullHD-version
presently.

HD, refurbished, smoothed, retimed, denoised, deflickered, cut, etc.
All in all I tried to keep the looks of the material as original as possible,
avoided adjusting the colors and the like, since in my opinion the original
footage itself already has an almost surreal and aestethical visual nature.

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This is how Sangat TV produced live pictures during the Birmingham riots

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The recent riots across the UK were viewed by a nation spellbound by the unbelievable scenes being broadcast from such channels as Sky-carried Sangat TV. This live coverage of the violence as well as the heroic community outreach efforts—described as “jaw-dropping” by the Guardian—were made possible courtesy of the broadcaster’s earlier decision to lease two of LiveU’s LU60 units from local UK distributor Garland Partners Limited for a completely unrelated event.

In these fast-moving, volatile situations, LiveU’s flagship LU60 product cost-effectively provided Sangat TV with the ability to deploy camera operators quickly and with a mobility that satellite trucks simply could not do. With cameras hooked into a video-over-cellular uplink unit all carried by the camera operators in a backpack, images were able to be relayed instantly from the very heart of the riots.

This ability to broadcast these events might not have happened had Sangat TV—normally a Sikh religious channel—not leased the LiveU units from Garland Partners. The station had intended to use the units to provide live coverage of a visit of a famous Sikh preacher. However, Sangat TV was contacted by a local councillor in the Handsworth area of Birmingham who wanted to warn the local community and help them work with the police.

Rather than having the councillor come to the studio, reporter Randher Singh took an LU60 unit with camera attached, and broadcast the councillor live using 3G connectivity from outside a local temple. From that point on, the station brought live pictures of the riots to Sky viewers that others simply could not, all due to their use of the LiveU technology.

 The LU60 is the industry’s first bonded 3G/4G LTE video-over-cellular uplink backpack with proprietary RF technology for superior resiliency, with up to 1080 HD video. The units—provided in the UK through LiveU’s partnership with Garland Partners—have been used to broadcast numerous high-profile events as they happen, including the royal wedding, sporting events, political uprisings, and large-scale entertainment events.

 

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Photography versus Video at Weddings

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How true this is… the amount of times I came up against a balshy photographer with attitude at weddings was becoming intolerable, there is no need for it it’s just damed right un-professionalism.

When it comes to recording someones wedding no one has sole rights over the other no matter how much the photographer thinks they are top dog, bad attitude photographers are the bain of the wedding industry and I have seen it from both angles.

DSLRs do not help as the photographer who is a notably suspicious creature at the best of times will not be happy when you turn up with your HD DSLR.

Weddings are stressful enough without having a fellow professional acting the goat, on the whole I got on really well with photographers and always introduced myself from the minute they arrived.

This video kind of tells the story from both sides but the poignant part for me is the stepping in front of the camera, deliberatly spoiling your shot, I had a female photographer do this to me once and I took her aside and told her in no uncertain terms where her camera would go if she ever tried that trick again, she was frosty after that but we knew where each other stood…not in front of each others shot !

We have a wedding photographer in Glasgow who insisted there was to be no “video-man” at the wedding and gave the couple an incentive of £200 discount from his £2000 package for doing so, this un-beknown to him was doing us a favour as no one wanted to work beside him, his photography was very good but attitude was a joke. If on the occasion he had to suffer the “video scum” he would insist on taking the bride and groom to a park, himself, for 2-3 hours, then on delivery of a very scratchy bride by this time and an even more irritated reception manager things were put on fast forward as we were now well out of time.

A modern solution is to produce a complete package pics and DVD then you get a team of professionals working from the same hymn sheet. You can’t win in the wedding video game I once worked with a photographer who used to film for Sky News and he would also try to dominate the wedding.

You have to put yourself into the way the photographer thinks to understand why they think as they do. It’s about exclusivity, getting the next MPA winning wedding shot and you don’t get such pictures if you have a distraction tagging along (video).

Most of the pains in the ass I came up against and there were only about half a dozen were high flyers, photographers with portfolios and competitions in mind and the video was a distraction no matter how professional you were.

I have not produced a wedding DVD for over 7 years now and I don’t miss it one bit in fact I have taken more photographic weddings since concentrating on corporate video production. I have that inner knowledge that sees it from both angles but in my books there is a place for both disciplines, who cares if the video is filming over your shoulder, he is moving and I am still…what’s the problem !

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

Are Canon trying too hard to impress Holywood

Categories: Miscellaneous 6 Comments

“So expensive! It’s a kind of 5DmkII with ND filters, XLR input and headphone output. Nothing revolutionary.”

“So we’re on the brink of an unprecedented global recession and a possible meltdown of the whole financial system, and Canon decides now is a good to release a couple of 50 grand zooms to go with thier “affordable” new camera good luck with that one…”

I received these heartfelt comments from a couple of regular readers this morning who put many betrayed Canon DSLR users thoughts in a nutshell, not forgetting those of us who were looking for an alternative to the Sony and Panasonic large sensor camcorders. Most of what I predicted last week has indeed come true but for one prediction…”A sub £6K EF model”

Don’t get me wrong this C300 is very sexy but spec wise it’s lame in comparison with the competition…8bit is a very poor starting point for a camera of this magnitude like all other camcorders in it’s class it does output 10bit from the HD-SDI socket but once again whats the point in giving us 50Mbs 4:2:2 on board if you are going to resort to a NanoFlash to get that extra all important 10bits from the back end.

I really feel so sorry for the millions of film makers who were so hoping that Canon would solve their problems with a camera fit for purpose at a price they could afford, not forgetting the fact that as yet no one can use Canon EF glass electronically on any large sensor camcorder thanks to canons decision a few years back to make EF lenses fully electronic.

The EOS C300 is nothing more than a medium format 5D with all the hassle taken out and a smaller sensor !


Photo courtesy of www.engadget.com

The other side of the coin is that Canon R&D were very reluctant to go with having HD video tagged onto their 5DMk11 at the beginning and it took Chief exec. Masaya Maeda all his efforts to convince Canon to run with a dual purpose camera…the rest is history.

I personally think Canon has by-passed it’s loyal followers who as a collective have made the company what it is today, by ignoring their needs and concentrating totally on the wrong end of the marketplace, with a camera that by Vincent Laforet’s own admission is flawed by needing a Zacuto Z-finder EVF to see critical focus.

We were all expecting a sub £6K large sensor camera that would finally plug the gap for the majority of people wanting to make a step up to a film like camera that takes EF glass instead we get a £15K 8bit camera that once again suffers from a poor viewfinder probably due to lack of space…what more can I say.

Will it affect the Sony PMW-F3 which is the market the C300 is aiming at, initially but Sony have a very loyal customer base and Sony will possibly reduce their S-Log upgrade or make it free to new customers who knows but you can be assured the next incarnation of the F3 will not only start at 10bits but will be 50Mbs or higher and have a viewfinder fit for purpose…you mark my words.

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