How times have changed “When film was preferred over video”

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Firstly I must thank David Doré of SILK PURSE FILMS for sending me this PDF of a set of instructions he typed out over 30 years ago. Isn’t it funny how trends go full circle.



During the early 1980’s studio cameras were like the one’s above big and bulky as was the first portable video tape called U-Matic tape.




The 16mm Eclair ACL with a 12-120mm manual zoom lens f2.2 Angenieux lens…Pierre Angenieux of Paris invented the zoom lens !


Typical news crew during the mid 1980’s with a Hitachi Z31 Camera attached to a Sony High Band Umatic recorder which needed a crew of 2 in this case myself and Ian Bodie working for Clyde Cable Vision.


Film is still unique in ambiance, texture and mood, todays large sensor cameras are more “cinematic” but its not film.


This cameraman is using an Eclair NPR 16mm film and the lens is the Angenieux 12-120mm zoom.

Due to the bulkiness of early video cameras, its really interesting that film was being touted as a more compact way to shoot, sadly today film is loosing favour to the large sensor cameras like the Sony F55.


There is no going back we now have a blend of video/film from the DSLR upwards that satisfies many budgets from student to professional that was not available during the 1980’s.

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

“The Last Goodbye” a film made in Glasgow with a Sony FS100

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Photography © Corinna Kidd

I saw a link to this film on Facebook recently and asked my good friend Allen (DoP) what camera he had used to make this internet film “The Sony FS100, it was just out and Sony gave us a demo model to use on the film. We were very impressed with the picture quality and how cinematic the picture looked”.

The film reminds me of one of those early 1980’s feel good films “Gregory’s Girl” by Bill Forsyth. The film runs 51 minutes but stick with it its a good storyline.

Hugh Creaney”It began in October 2010. Whilst working away from home, I found myself stuck in a hotel with not a lot to do. Instead of spending my time in the pub, I decided to turn my hand to writing a script I had been thinking of for a while. This is where “The Angels’s Share” was born, soon to be renamed The Last Goodbye.

Tired of the usual portrayal of my home town of Glasgow in the movies and television, I aimed to throw some new colours and angles at no mean city. For years the city has had an identity of hard men and drug addicts. Of gang fights and drinking yourself stupid. Not everyone in the city is like this and I was determined to show a softer side of the dear green place that is Glasgow.


Over a few nights, I developed a small tale of two people meeting and spending a day together across various locations in Glasgow. Inspired by hip, indie romantic films and music the couples relationship flowered over dialogue which I hoped people found natural and just like how normal people talk to each other.

Taking cues from my own life, I had always had James and Helen in mind to play the central roles. The characters are even named James and Helen. Having worked with James before, I knew how great an actor he was and wanted to give him a chance to shine. Luckily he and his wife Helen both liked the roles and agreed to take part. It was a challenge for them too, having never acted together before.

From here, I needed to hone the script. I asked a director friend to look over the script and give me some feed back to improve it. After reading the script and giving me some pointers, Michael asked if he could help out in any way. I asked if he would help me direct it and teach me along the way.

With most of the cast and crew on board I started scouting locations and found most people really helpful. Explaining what we were doing, why and how seemed to curry favor with most contributors. They liked the idea of not another grim Glasgow story.

We aimed the production for the September weekend 2011 and started rehearsing with James and Helen. The cast and crew agreed to work for free. Most locations accommodated us for nothing, some with a small donation. Equipment was given and borrowed from various places.


Close to filming dates, James and Helen both got paying acting jobs. This meant that production dates had to shift. After a lot of phone calls, explaining and begging, the dates pushed right back to the next year.

February 2012 we find ourselves out on the streets of Glasgow with 4 days to capture a little love story. 2 actors and 6 crew members filming on the hoof on the mean streets and in the great locations in Glasgow.

From Kelvingrove Art Gallery to the Lighthouse, pubs and coffee houses to the legendary Barrowland Ballroom everyone was so welcoming of our wee crew. Especially as we didn’t swamp the locations with loads of crew.

Weather proved our toughest counterpart, with a few exterior scenes hastily relocated to interiors with a few phone calls and unscheduled visit to a record shop.

With the main parts filmed and after a day picking up general views of Glasgow, I decided not to jump straight into post production. Leaving the film on the shelf for a few months would give most helping out a small break and hopefully fresh eyes when we started.

This was when three major stumbling blocks occurred to the film. The first was a problem editing and syncing sound. It seemed that the method we planned to use was very cumbersome and would take a long time to achieve. I enlisted the help of another friend, this time editor. Martin came to the rescue. I done some rough cuts of each scene for Martin to work to and he then plowed on in his own time, chipping the film into shape.


The second thing was that I discovered that Ken Loach was bringing out a new film. It was called “the Angels’ Share”. I was so disappointed and and could only hope that it was just a name. After watching a trailer, I saw the story was different, but it did include a scene explaining to the viewer what the Angels’ Share was. It was very similar to a central scene in my film when James explains it Helen.

I decided to start thinking of a new name, much to my sadness as I loved that name and had sat on it for a while. I kept the scene in the film though. It was an important scene and is crucial to Helen seeing James’ romantic, poetic side. It was too beautiful to lose. For me, the Angels’ Share is an explain action of what happens that day, something that just happens and is then gone forever. I had started to think of it embodying Helen’s character, something fleeting, heavenly, but ultimately unattainable.


The third hurdle was copyright for music in the film. Most of the music in the film wasn’t an afterthought, with most scenes written with the music in mind. It was used mainly as I’m a fan of the bands and musicians. I wanted to use it to bring them to a wider audience, to show them off too. It was never intended to make money from others’ craft and art, it was to score and evoke emotions that I hope the musicians can appreciate. I had a lot of negative emails from copyright holders which meant that some music here isn’t cleared. I have contacted the musicians and/or management and some were very helpful, even happy that I liked their songs and wanted to use them. That’s good enough for me. For now, I have to hope that record companies don’t insist I change and can see what I’ve done for what it is and the good intentions I had doing it as a fan of their music.

Most of 2013 was spent editing in spare time and making small changes here and there. Eventually in October 2013 we had a finished piece and showed it to cast, crew, friends and family.


Why did we make it? Probably because we could. For friendship. for love of the story. to show what we can do with little to no money. To show what we can do without the major crews and upheaval that most productions bring. We worked hard, but we had a great bond that made it come together”.

We can do it again too. 
If we put our minds to it.
Maybe it won’t take 3 years this time.

Now renamed The Last Goodbye, I hope you enjoy it.

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

The independent model in Media Coverage

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The last few weeks have been taken up with the YES, NO vote in Scotland so I decided to see if the independent model within our own industry fits a similar criteria, in other words does independence lead to a better quality of programming.

I take the BBC as an example because it is run out of London and has many stations throughout the UK versus the smaller independent company profile in this case based in Scotland.


Lets start with news…The BBC have moved down the path of VJs which are self shooting reporters while the independent company like myself have a cameraman, sound man\assistant and reporter and come supplied with the latest technology. On health a safety alone the independent approach is far safer even in this case (below) we have a cameraman, reporter and assistant.


The independent approach within news offers a safer environment and in most cases a better end result because the person behind the camera is a professional camera person giving the client far greater confidence during the shoot.

On the other hand the BBC are “streamlining” their resources for daily news, cutting corners to the extent that health and safety is now being breeched in a daily basis…why ?

Video Journalists don’t have anyone looking out for them…safety in numbers…nor their equipment, they have to rely on a single bag of kit, camera and usually a lightweight tripod.

I as an example have spare mics, radio and shotgun, cables, lights, sturdy carbon fibre Miller tripod and usually a portable OLED Sony SDI monitor if I use an LED panel light I also have lighting sand bags for the legs, this level of kit cannot be afforded by a single operator.


Channel 4 news sent us up to the Scottish Labour Conference during March this year to get an interview with Chuka Umunna this was recorded in HD and output in SD to a satellite truck, I had to configure the camera via the menu to output SD, VJs do not work at this level of sophistication.

Right away the independent news scenario gives extra employment, better standard of filming and a safer environment to work in.

Ah but the broadcasters are all using XDCAM camcorders, Scottish Television have only recently replaced their (DVCPRO) with Sony PMW-400’s which are now being superseded this week with the new PXW-X500.


Scottish Television had their DVCPRO camcorders for just under 20 years, now some may say that was a testimony to Panasonic but it’s the broadcast mentality …run the kit into the ground, this attitude only leads to a poor end result with kit that soon becomes unreliable.

The indépendant freelance market replace their camcorders at least once every 2-3 years giving the client the best and most up to date reliable kit.

One last thorny topic I will cover is if you own your own kit you are ten times more likely to look after it and make sure everything it spot on the night before a shoot…like renting in general if the kits not yours you are far less likely to care about a camera if you have not had to spend 10K upwards to buy one…sad but true.


During the Commonwealth Games this year I noticed this newspaper journalist using an iPad to interview the Renick sisters but as you can plainly see its a very impersonal way to interview someone.

Newspapers are fighting to get content on their websites no matter how…send someone to a presser and come back with pics and a half baked interview, this is worst than a VJ, at least the VJ has had some training.

How could the independent media sector help the “no money” newspaper, by getting better video content for their web pages, we are set up to film, edit and upload.

Not one newspaper has ever approached me to enquire about video content yet we are the obvious first port of call they insist on making 3rd rate video footage and complain when no one spends time on their web space.

That’s just two examples of how independent producers excel in filming content for news but news is a small part of a big production marketplace but also proves the point that if you want quality rather than quantity the independent model is the better road to go down.

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

NEW Camcorders from SONY

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Sony has today introduced the PXW-X500, a solid-state memory XDCAM camcorder that combines sensitivity of picture capture with a proven, comfortable ergonomic design and support for a wide variety of recording formats. The PXW-X500 delivers superior picture quality thanks to its unique three-chip 2/3-inch type new CCD image sensors, serving to remove issues associated with motion artifact and rolling shutters. The camcorder, which succeeds its well-received predecessor, the PMW-500, is ideally purposed as an outstanding acquisition tool on a 1080 progressive platform for a broad range of HD production applications, such as ENG, sports productions, live productions and documentaries.

Key features of the PXW-X500 XDCAM shoulder camcorder

  • High sensitivity and high signal-to-noise ratio with B4-mount HD lenses. Three newly-developed 2/3-inch-type Power HAD™ FX CCDs produce high-quality pictures with high signal-to-noise ratios (60dB), while maintaining the high sensitivity levels (F11 at 1080/59.94i and F12 at 1080/50i) that the XDCAM range is best known for.
  • Multi-format recording for versatility of workflow approaches. The PXW-X500 offers a wide array of traditional and new recording formats, including SD formats such as MPEG IMX and DVCAM, HD formats such as MPEG-4 SStP and MPEG HD422, plus XAVC Intra 4:2:2 1080 59.94/50i and XAVC Long 4:2:2 1080 59.94/50p. In early 2015, the PXW-X500 will also support Apple ProRes[i] and Avid® DNxHD®[ii] as further options.
  • Powerful Slow & Quick motion up to 120p frame rate. The PXW-X500 offers a powerful ‘Slow & Quick Motion’ function. By utilising the XAVC codec, the X500 can record at a maximum frame rate of 1080/120p, which is a slow motion effect five times higher than the industry standard frame rate of 23.98p[iii]. The newly developed CCD image sensors and the camcorder’s outstanding image processing abilities enable this spectacular performance.


  • Unique built-in wireless module supports seamless file transfer and remote operation, helping broadcasters be ‘first to air’. The PXW-X500 can be operated remotely from compatible Wi-Fi devices such as tablets and smartphones, via a supplied IFU-WLM3 USB wireless LAN module. Proxy video files can be created onto SD cards in four different proxy XAVC settings to help users adapt to field constraints, while proxy file transfer and hi-res file transfer are also possible across Wi-Fi or Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks.
  • Future upgrade to enable remote live streaming functionality. By upcoming upgrade in early 2015, the X500 will also offer live streaming of proxy content over Wi-Fi or LTE[iv]. The streaming function will also become available for Sony’s PXW-X180 XDCAM handheld solid-state memory camcorder that was launched to the market in August 2014[v], and will be compatible with the CBK-WA100 and CBK-WA101 adapters, which allow XAVC proxy files to be created and saved on an SD card housed within the adapter.
  • Other key features of the PXW-X500:

o   Compatible with a direct two channel slot-in portable digital wireless receiver, available as part of the Sony DWX Series, providing superb digital audio quality and full digital workflow with the XDCAM range

o   Pool-feed input with 3G/HD/SD-SDI

o   Simultaneous recording onto two SxS cards

o   Flexible camera system operation with CA-FB70 or CA-TX70 camera adapters

o   GPS functionality records GPS data in an MXF file and a log file automatically, when activated


Sony today announced the HXR-MC2500E, a new addition to its High Definition (HD) range of memory camcorders. The HXR-MC2500E offers an ideal balance of performance and functionality in the digital era with a wide variety of features necessary for serious videographers, all well within their reach at an affordable price point. Sony has designed the HXR-MC2500E with several enhancements over its existing HXR-MC2000E camera model, including an improved Exmor™ R CMOS sensor and new features such as a built-in LED light, OLED viewfinder, Wi-Fi functionality, DV memory recording and a Multi-Interface (MI) Shoe. With these enhancements over previous models, the HXR-MC2500E is an ideal cost-effective solution for event videographers, who desire strong low-light performance, high picture quality, operational flexibility and reliability.

“The HXR-MC2500E is a prime example of how we’ve combined advanced imaging technologies with a host of operational features that the market today needs,” said Robbie Fleming, Product Marketing Manager, at Sony Professional Solutions Europe. “Our customers now enjoy a more comprehensive product offering from Sony, with this model providing practical functions that professionals need, such as wireless connectivity and longer recording time.”

Key Features of the HXR-MC2500E

 Highly-sensitive Exmor™ R CMOS sensor and built-in LED light

The HXR-MC2500E is capable of shooting clearly even in low-light or indoor environments. Its highly-sensitive Exmor™ R CMOS sensor adopts a back-illuminated technology that enables the image sensor to utilize incidental light more efficiently, helping to achieve rich image quality even during low-light shooting situations. The HXR-MC2500E is also fitted with a convenient built-in LED light for extra illumination when needed.

Wide angle view, high contrast 1.44 million dots OLED viewfinder and 0.92 million dots 3-inch wide LCD panel for easy framing of shooting objects

The new camera is equipped with an OLED Tru-Finder™ electronic viewfinder, offering a high resolution of approximately 1.44 million dots with high contrast levels. Sony’s proprietary viewfinder technologies allow for better tonal reproduction and more detailed picture information when shooting. In addition, there is also the built-in 3-inch wide high resolution LCD panel (approximately 0.92 million dots) for crisp and bright images.

Wi-Fi/NFC functions for seamless connection to smartphones

The HXR-MC2500E can connect to mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets via a Wi-Fi connection, enabling monitoring and remote control functions such as start/stop recording, zoom control, iris control and touch auto focus. Furthermore, it is also NFC-capable (Near Field Communications) to allow easy, one-touch wireless connections to compatible mobile devices.

Ideal for long event shooting thanks to embedded 32GB internal flash memory and low power consumption

A 32GB internal flash memory storage system on board of the HXR-MC2500E enables longer duration recording of more than 150 minutes. In addition, by using a combination of the internal flash memory and the MS/SD memory card slot, recording functions such as “Relay” and “Simultaneous” for backup can be available. When Sony’s L-Series InfoLithium battery NP-F970 (optional) is used, the HXR-MC2500E is capable of continuous recording of up to 14 hours. This is a critical feature for important occasions where operators may not have the luxury to stop the camera, such as during the filming of wedding ceremonies or other live events.

More Professional Features for Event Shooting

  • 26.8mm Wide-Angle Lens – one of the lenses with the widest angles in this class of camera, which enables wide-angle shooting even in small places
  • DV Memory – in addition to AVCHD Full HD format support, SD format support includes DV memory
  • Multi-Interface (MI) Shoe – expands options to use accessories without cables, such as the UWP-D11 wireless microphone receiver and XLR audio input by XLR adapter
  • BNC Composite Terminal – enables the use of BNC cables which prevents cable disconnect during critical shooting occasions such as live recording
  • TC/UB Implementation – Time Code and User Bit are included for situations like multi-camera shoots


The HXR-MC2500E will be available from November 2014.

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

Start the day with a laugh

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Love this advert from Cinesite although it’s a year old it”s the first time I have seen it…start your day with a laugh !

Beans is the first animated short film to be made at Cinesite. It takes the form of a mock-commercial. We see this movie as a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase the quality of Cinesite artists’ work.

The film was written and directed by animator Alvise Avati and produced by Cinesite’s Animation Director Eamonn Butler.

Alvise approached Cinesite with an idea for the film. He says, “Working in visual effects, it’s usually other people’s visions and creatures that you’re creating. This was an opportunity to take some creative control and make a film of our own.”

The look of the lunar environment is based on NASA film footage and actual lunar photography. Eamonn says, “At the start, the film is quite serious in tone and then it develops, becoming more dramatic as it progresses before ending on a surprise. To support this, the environment needed to be photo-realistic. We also wanted to push the animation and effects as far as we could to make the film as dramatic as possible before the payoff.

Eamonn says, “In terms of the creature design, we worked in a very collaborative way. Alvise brought some great artwork and ideas as starting points which we developed through modelling, rigging and animation. We brought on more talented artists as we went to help develop the look of the film through textures, lighting and compositing.”

Because the creature would be seen so briefly, it was important for him to stand out and be scary. Alvise says, “I wanted the creature’s eyes to glow. We also added bioluminescence effects to parts of his head to make him stand out.”

“Beans is Cinesite’s first in-house, content-creation project,” says Eamonn, “and I’m sure it won’t be our last. This has been an invaluable and fun way for us to show what we’re capable of.”

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

New Dr Who titles designed by a fan and used by the BBC

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Imagine you’re a motion graphics creator and “Doctor Who” fan. In your spare time, you create an opening sequence to the new series of the show, featuring new star Peter Capaldi. You tweet the sequence to the motion graphics company who creates the actual titles for the BBC.

And then imagine those fan-made titles were so good, they got seen by series Executive Producer Steven Moffat, and were used nearly frame for frame on the actual new series of the show.

That’s exactly what happened with Billy Hanshaw, a freelance motion graphics artist who worked on the self-created title sequence for four weeks, and now finds his work will (essentially) be on television screens around the globe when “Doctor Who” premieres on August 23.

Billy “I’m a motion graphics professional, working on tv commercials and corporate presentations mostly. This was an exercise to see how far I could stretch myself over 4 weeks of spare time.

Published on youtube originally – it caught the attention of Radio Times, Huffington Post, BBC America and SFX magazine. Before publishing I tweeted it to the incumbent motion studio doing the titles for the show.

First section is the Doctors watch, and we fly inside. The journey through the cog-wheels end with our exit through the untempered schism. And into an escher-esque timey wimey never-ending clock face (a metaphor of time travel and the time vortex).

Our journey catapults us through the vortex into a void where the seal of Rassilon is drawn in aged metal, which is accompanied by the Doctor Who logo, with some subtle embellishments. The seal of Rassilon burns away, reminding us of the Doctor’s disdain for the Time Lords; revealing the new Doctor’s reflection in the back of the watch which then tumbles away to the black hole in the distance. (This section could have done with a better shot – but seeing as I don’t know Mr Capaldi’s press agent this one had to suffice)

The steampunk aesthetic is intentional.

Audio reproduced by kind permission from Chris Adams (Hardwire) who created this special arrangement.


Logo, Tardis and Time Vortex: CINEMA 4D
Everything else: AFTER EFFECTS (using various post fx and particle generators)
I did try Element 3D for some of the 3D assets, but went back to Cinema for flexibility.

© info: Dr Who logo, Tardis and photographic content are the sole property of the BBC – no copyright infringement intended.


HDW : Billy even gets a mention in the end credits…well done. If you want to contact Billy for commercial work : 


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

H Preston Media “OPEN DAY” 28th August 2014

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Always a great day out at H Preston Media, meet John Preston himself the legend of trade-in’s, bring your working semi pro camcorder and see if Preston’s will turn it into a part exchange towards a new HD camcorder.

Don’t be late one day only…10-4pm, Friday 29th August 2014. Please remember H Preston Media are one of HD Warriors site sponsor’s tell John you are a fan of HD Warrior and you will get a further 5% off your purchase.

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

Rick Young’s Lighting Tutorial using 4 Dedo LED lights.

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My good friend Rick Young has a new tutorial out about lighting using a Dedo lighting kit, this will give you a basic knowledge on good lighting techniques. 

Rick “When lighting it can be just as important to take into account the natural light in a scene, as well as how to position and make use of artificial light. For many situations, the natural light needs to be supplemented or extended.

In this video, a 4 light setup is shown, using 3 x dedolight DLED 4 and a single Felloni. The results clearly show how the scene looks without any supplemental light, and with a complete lighting setup. It is the combination of natural light and the LED lights which makes this scene work.

By using the right tools and learning a few simple techniques, you can dramatically improve the quality of your images.”

Lessons in Lighting: extending natural light from Rick Young on Vimeo.


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

A Cracking 1m tribute to a great man…Robin Williams

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I have been working in the NHS for over 20 years as an independent producer/filmmaker and sadly doctors like “Patch Adams” are few and far between. Doctors need to lighten up especially hospital doctors, Patch Adams was a true story of a man who came to medicine later on in life who saw his peers for what they were “depressing both in looks and in manner”.

Robin Williams fitted this role as an upbeat slightly crazy doctor to a tee and is one of my all time favourite films, this should be shown to all 5th year medical students as part of their “socialising skills”.

It takes great skill to edit a one minute tribute to someone and out of all his films choose a section of dialogue that sums up Robin himself thats why I have decided to run this…in honour of a great actor and honour of a great tribute.

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

Updated iPad Prompter software…Teleprompt+3 (£17)

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Prompting is relatively cheap these days once you factor two iPads into the equation the mirror (Datavideo TP-300 see HOLDAN website for details)  is £245 plus vat. The TP-300 has a control switch which is dedicated to work with DV Prompter (Apple APP) but I have found this software very buggy and crashes unexpectedly. The newly updated iPad prompting software Teleprompt+3 brings this software firmly into pole position and has a lot of features not seen on DV Prompter.


You can use Dropbox to import your scripts or cut and paste an email. My setup is to run the software on an iPad mini while mirroring your text on the iPad which sits underneath a 45 degree mirror.


Choose coloured text and highlight important text with other colours, you get Estimated time…Actual time…Elapsed time and Remaining time along the top of the screen. If you are using a 45 degree mirror you can’t avoid mirroring your text this can be a pig to edit if you don’t use a second unit like an iPad mini or iPhone which keeps the text un-mirrored and also controls speed etc.


A new feature of Teleprompt +3 is the ability to quick edit so if you need to change a word or spelling mistake you are not forced back out of the prompting screen back to the editor. The previous version of Teleprompt was unreliable and a pig to sync up to your iPad mini or iPhone. My preference is to use an iPad mini for control and the iPad to prompt, the iPhone works well but it’s all down to screen size, especially in edit mode. Lastly but more importantly the scrolling of the text is very smooth and infinitely variable.

Telepronpt+3 is overall far more user-friendly and logical in the way it works than competitors software with the addition of the quick edit mode is miles ahead of the competition.

For £17 Teleprompt +3 is a scoop and one copy of the software allows you to run the software on various IOS devices. Available from the Apple APP Store.

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

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