Panasonic 3D production monitor $7,000

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

H Preston Media “Meet the team”

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On my way back from Coventry last month I took a slight detour to see H Preston Media in Malvern. I was met by Mrs Preston and Graham, John and the two Andy’s were still packing the van at the end of ProVideo 2010. I have known John Preston for the best part of twenty years and have been buying and exchanging kit all that time.

It’s important to realise that Preston’s are a Sony Specialist Dealer and hold a Panasonic Broadcast account, this takes Preston’s miles above the internet box pushers as Preston’s only sell UK/European stock. Many of the substandard box pushers sell American or Japanese camcorders and that’s important if anything goes wrong…NO ONE will entertain you if you buy a camcorder that is not UK/European in origin. Preston’s will only give technical assistance to genuine customers and I can personally vouch for this…many end users are only too grateful for a person on the other end of the phone at 7pm at night going over a technical problem with them…you do not get that level of service from saving a few pounds at the box pushers web site !

I had never been to the Preston shop in all that time and decided this was the year to do so. Preston’s as it is known affectionately is tucked away under the Malvern Hills and is a lot posher than I was expecting, I had envisaged a wee grungy shop in the middle of a busy high street with boxes and kit all over the place.

It is a very clean, modern shop and lots of bits and pieces to look at with a 65″ Panasonic 3D Plasma television sitting proud at the front of the shop. Up until October I had mainly delt with the shop staff over the telephone with two people in particular, Mrs Preston and Graeme of whom I had never seen in all my 20 years of trading with them, though Graeme being one of the newer members has only been around for about 6 years.

I case many of you don’t know the letter “H” stands for Horace, John’s late father who was a television repair man and started the ball rolling. Mr Preston by all accounts was a character and a good laugh, he was always joking with John and Andy Davis the two lads at that time, unfortunately Mr Preston died when he was a young man at 50 leaving Mrs Preston to run the shop with John. Times must have been hard for both of them but they carried on making the business the success that you see today…a family business in the true meaning of the word “family”.

The Malvern team consists of John, Mrs Preston, Andy Davis, Andy Guest and Graeme…John man’s the London branch at least 3 days a week when time allows…I am the newest member of the team in our Glasgow office and I am part time due to work commitments and serve as their technical and web manager.

Working as a DP/Editor allows customers to have the confidence they can speak to someone who knows the game from the coalface and my 25 years professional experience in the video industry won’t go to waste.

I had a lovely 2 hours at Malvern meeting Mrs Preston, Chelsea and Graeme…Preston’s is unique in video retail as they have a great work ethic and a great family run business, I know of no other video retailer that has been around for well over 20 years and still employ the same friendly staff as Preston’s do and that’s to be commended in these hard times.


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

CVP play at second guessing Sony

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Creative Video like the rest of us are second guessing what Sony are about to announce later this month…though I do find it strange that a very highly rated professional retailer has taken it upon themselves to name the camera and predict it’s price.

Sony are tight lipped about this camcorder and I better than anyone should know as I pummelled Sony’s Bill Drummond last month at ProVideo 2010 for an ounce of information. If CVP are playing a “get noticed” campaign it certainly worked.

November can be a quiet time in video retailing so anything to capture peoples imagination and feed them to their web site is no bad thing and to be fair to CVP they are perfectly up front with their speculation and are not trying to kid anyone.

The CVP take on Sony’s new camcorder is as follows : Name PMW-EX35 HD,  Sensor Full 35mm low cost sensor, Media SxS up to 35Mbs, Price £12500 plus VAT. All of course in the land of fairy tales but to be fair… it got me looking and them noticed !!!

Original link to CVP

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A cautionary word of warning…

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It still amazes me how many professional people buy video equipment today without a clear understanding of how it works and will tell all in sundry their camcorder is either duff or the memory is bad stock. Recently as of today I received that very sad tail but it came on the back of a misunderstanding of the medium being used.

Never and I mean NEVER… run a solid state camcorder continuously, example…a wedding ceremony. Some people have it in their head that by pausing their camcorder they will miss an important part of the ceremony well that might be true but if you loose power to the camcorder while recording you will loose everything from the last time you pressed record till the moment you loose power and in some cases that might just be the complete ceremony ! Pause where and when you can during any live event even if it means you have to re-sync your two camcorders during the edit.

There is at least two reasons for power failure during a recording, the mains power goes faulty or even a simple RCD can trip the power off or your battery is low to start with as you forget to swap a fresh battery at the start of the event. Todays L-ion batteries are so good I would always advocate a fresh battery before any major live event…do not rely on mains power.

What happens if you loose the power is quite simple you loose the table of contents or TOC and the footage is unreadable by normal means there is software that can possibly recover this but it’s far from perfect. Sony have a data recovery service but like all these services it’s not cheap.

Sony “Data is the most important part of any business and preserving it is essential. You need to make sure your data is secure, that you are using it efficiently and have effective plans in place to recover information should the unthinkable happen. As a Sony storage media customer, you can now take advantage of the added value services in data recovery, data conversion and data duplicationthrough our partnership with world-leading data management company Ontrack. With over twenty years experience in data recovery and undisputed technological expertise, Ontrack offers fast, high quality and cost effective services for businesses of all sizes looking to recover, convert or duplicate data. Best of all, these services are available for all brands of media and for all storage tape formats including AIT, S-AIT, LTO-Ultrium, DLT and DDS/DAT.”

Understand your equipment and how solid state is not infallible…always use fresh batteries before a live event and never “hot swap” a battery during a recording, this might just blow a fuse within your camcorder and will certainly loose all your data recorded onto your memory card at that moment in time.

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

New LED lighting that takes Sony “V” mount batteries £399 from H Preston Media

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I am working on a Drama at the moment and using some fantastic new LED lights from H Preston Media called simply the CN-600HS, the best part is the ability to use Sony “V” lock batteries. These LED lights are amazing value for money at £399, they come with two filters, a remote dimmer control switch, a Sony V lock plate and a 12V 250V power converter.

The light above has a 3200K filter slid into place and being LED runs cold all day long, I had both lights running from 10am till 4pm and my 160W 12V battery had still 4 out of 5 LED power indicator lights showing. The CN-600HS lights are remarkable value for money and in case you are still not convinced they are well built…in fact better built than the LED lights I bought a year ago for twice the money and no “V” lock, remote or filters.

As standard the lights come with a clear diffuser the LED lights balanced for 5400K, a 3200K orange filter and a rose coloured filter for minus green filtering, this is useful for using your LED light with mixed lighting. I will give you an update tomorrow evening but so far I am more than delighted with my CN-600HS LED lights.

CN-600 LED lights from H Preston Media at this link…

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

Sony’s “Hogwarts” camcorder “He who must not be named”

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Sony are still looking for a name for their FilmLike camcorder nicknamed “Hogwarts” as in the Harry Potter stories Voldermort is known as “He who must not be named”. OK halloween over what’s the news…not a lot other than Sony are having a pow wow sometime later in November to possibly hand out some details to the press and bloggers like HD Warrior.

I am not to sure why Sony announce this camcorder at NAB 2010 then show it off during IBC 2010 and when you ask the easy-peazy of questions like what type of card does it take…blank.

The one thing that’s becoming clear is the word “affordable” in all their correspondence…now as we all know affordable is fine depending what side of the railway line you live…to Stephen Spielberg a Sony F35 is affordable ! Anyway enough of Sony lets look at more information coming from Nigel Cooper who also had a few days with the 75% finished AF101 from Panasonic.

Nigel “From the footage I shot I found the Panasonic MOS sensor (CMOS technology basically, as apposed to CCD) performed incredibly with no visible artefacts, rainbow moiré or stepping. The images where very clean and film-like in quality. On pans, both gentle and vigorous there was minimal ‘jelly wobble’ off the MOS sensor, nothing worth mentioning anyway and no worse than anything produced by Sony with CMOS sensors. Unfortunately any MOS/CMOS sensor suffers from jelly-wobble; it is just a case of how much or how little. This baby inside the AG-AF101 is as minimal as I have seen and about as good as you will get. I don’t hear people complaining about Sony’s superb EX1R and EX3 so I don’t expect anyone to complain in the Panasonic Pub either. I’m not sure what the heat situation is from this MOS sensor, but the AG-AF101 is so quiet I don’t even know if it has a fan inside; I couldn’t hear anything anyway. Either way, the technology inside the AG-AF101 is incredibly innovative and state-of-the-art. This large 4/3rd MOS sensor is what gives us this new depth-of-field control and a field of view reminiscent to that of a 35mm film camera like those used to shoot Hollywood movies i.e. Panavision.

Some people think that the 4/3rd imager in the AG-AF101 is exactly the same imager as the one in Panasonic’s stills camera the GH1, fact is, it is not; it is a bran new sensor. Although the AG-AF101 uses a CMOS sensor (MOS), there is no ‘skew’ (jelly wobble effect/rolling shutter) as it scans the chip incredibly fast. I tried really hard to get the AG-AF101 to skew with various pans, both fast and slow and I found it virtually impossible to get it to skew. Although there is still flash-banding (all CMOS sensors suffer from this no matter who makes them), as usual, it can be fixed in post. But if you are a filmmaker, you will be in control of that anyway so it doesn’t really matter; simply don’t allow anyone to fire off a flash-gun on set. Wedding guys will have to fix those frames in post, no big deal.”

Nigel “The Panasonic AG-AF101 is quite simply revolutionary. It is unequivocally and without a doubt the new and first kid on the block with such incredible capabilities at such an incredibly low price. It is the HD camcorder that independent filmmakers, as well as every other video producer and lighting cameraman has been waiting on for 20 odd years or so. At £4,295, what is there not to like. The AG-AF101 takes all goodness of DSLRs i.e. depth-of-field and light sensitivity, but gets rid of all the bad stuff such as aliasing, rainbow moiré and other workflow issues, and all encapsulated in a perfectly formed professional video camcorder.

There is nothing like the Panaasonic AG-AF101; it is a brand new concept. Those who have got used to shooting HD video on DSLRs and having to piece together clumsy workarounds, been forced to use a Zacuto Z-finder because DSLRs don’t have a viewfinder need not worry anymore as the AG-AF101 has a HD viewfinder built in, as well as a fold-out HD LCD screen. Or if you had to use a separate sound recorder because you could not get good audio from your EOS 5D MK2, worry no more as the AG-AF101 has two built in professional balanced XLR inputs with uncompressed Linear PCM 16-bit audio.

The Panasonic AG-AF101 is the most promising camcorder to arrive in over twenty years. It is very exciting times for cinema shooters and independent filmmakers.

In a nutshell the Panasonic AG-AF101 is a professional HD video camcorder just like many others such as Panasonic’s own HPX171 or Sony’s EX1R, but the AG-AF101 now gives us that last missing piece of the jigsaw; total depth-of-field control combined with interchangeable lenses, with that cinematic look that we have all been waiting for.”

Full review on

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ProVideo 2010

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MTF “E” Mounts for Sony’s NEX-VG10

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After looking about the web I found these new lens adaptors for the Sony NEX-VG10 camcorder both made by a well known company called MTF. Interestingly they do a PL mount so there must be some interest from professionals to have this mount produced.

The one thing I cannot as yet check is the camcorders low light abilities so if anyone from MTF could lend me a Nikon adaptor I could stick on a 50mm f1.8 NIKKOR lens to test the camcorder in low light.

These lens adaptors could bring this camcorder into a new dimension as the 18-200mm lens that ships with the VG10 is far too dark for most indoor work and it’s good to have an alternative to the Sony “E” or “A” lens.

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

Apple to delay FCP-8 till August 2011 “The writing is on the wall”

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Apple have indeed lost the plot as today it has been reported to me that Final Cut Pro 8 has been further delayed till August 2011, this is a major blow if it is true for all FCP users as 64bit has been further shunted into the autumn of 2011. If this story is true I for one will be switching to Adobe CS5 before the end of this year as I can no longer afford to wait for Apple to come up with the goods.

Premiere Pro has come a long way in the last few years and Adobe has been adding many future proof features like a plug in for 3D called Cineform neo 3D HD that allows you to edit 3D footage straight from the timeline and view it in 3D. Another feature is 7 streams of HD if you use the nVidia’s CUDA technology and achieve real-time playback for Quicktime dSLR, and AVCHD footage.

Apple’s backward thinking has made Blu-ray an almost impossible route for them to go down, while Adobe has embraced Blu-ray and made it a seamless part of Encore their DVD authoring program.

While the switch will be a dear one it will take my 12 core MacPro up to a new level and utilise the 64 bit technology as it was intended by Apple in the first place. I am not looking forward to the learning curve but having come from Premiere Pro many years ago it shouldn’t be that bad.

One other reason for cutting Final Cut Studio is the now antiquated DVD Studio Pro 4 one of the best in it’s time now a sorry state of bugs that keeps me from even opening it up looking for ghost files that no longer exist.

I will remain a Motion fan as it’s just as easy to send footage to Motion as it would to After Effects.

It was not a coincidence that the BBC have chosen to go down the Adobe route when they already have editors using Final Cut Pro, thankfully for them Adobe brought Premiere back to the Mac so the switch over won’t be as bad other than installing new software.

One other thing that saddens me is the sneak peek of “Lion” the new so called OSX…lame is the word that springs to mind, I can’t see any feature that will set the heather alight unlike previous major upgrades…I think the writing is on the wall for Apple unless they seriously re invent themselves.

UPDATE : Since writing this I seem to have lost the plot as well thanks to J Ball for pointing out my spelling error, as of today I have now installed the nVidia Quadro FX4800 in my MacPro one further step in my own death nell for FCP !

FURTHER UPDATE : As of March 2011 it seems Apple are to bring us Final Cut Pro 8. The reason I did not make the move was for 2 reasons…Paul Joy found that his final output was compromised using Premiere Pro in other words the quality was not as good as Final Cut Pro, secondly if it ant broke don’t fix it.

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

Philip Bloom tests the new Panasonic AG-AF101

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Philip “The real question…and I loathe this question but get asked a lot. “IS IT A DLSR KILLER?”….the answer is simply no.No camera is a “killer”, cameras can quite happily and should co-exist! There is a market for them all. Sure when this type of thing becomes more common when Sony and Canon do something similar more pros with larger pockets will start using them but they are different to DSLRs, bigger and more expensive and this camera is priced pretty aggressively am sure the Sony and Canon offerings will struggle to match this price point.

It’s another tool for a cinematographer like myself to use. I would choose this over my 5Dmk2 for many things, I would also happily use it in conjunction. For recording sound in camera, filming actuality (this is a great documentary camera and great for wedding shooters too, great for one man band and great low light) , getting easier focus and amazing slow motion this wins hands down. But the DSLRs are cheaper, lenses are less of an issue, are smaller, less conspicuous, shoot better timelapse, I can take multiple bodies with me…there are loads of reasons why I will continue to shoot with my Canons or whatever other DSLRs I end up buying. Will I buy this camera the moment it comes out? Bloody right. It performed so well, despite being 75% finished, and was a joy to shoot with but more importantly I was very happy with the images I got. I still could get my beloved shallow depth of field, sure not 5dmk2 or 7d shallow but not far off the APS-C. i cannot wait to go to Japan and shoot with the finished camera!

At the moment I am purely guessing the latitude, i need to get the camera set up better so anything i say could be wrong so I will stay quiet on that for now!

So…should you buy an AF101 instead of a Canon DSLR?  Well it has many plusses, the lack of moire and aliasing. Less rolling shutter skew, proper sound, better focusing and exposure assist. Proper SDI and HDMI clean outs and loads more. But it’s just different…it’s a video camera. This is not a convergence camera! Don’t expect to be taking awesome stills and video with this. THIS IS A VIDEO CAMERA! That is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. I have missed video cameras. Welcome back, but I will still have my 5D or two in my bag. There is so much I love about my DSLRs still! This is like a replacement for my EX1 and 35mm adaptor.

I am looking forward to getting a production GH2 as the pre one I had was very buggy, it could be a killer B-camera for the AF101…especially as you can shoot awesome time-lapse with it! ;)

South: Test film shot with Panasonic AF100 from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Click on Philip’s link to see the full in-depth review of the Panasonic AF101…

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