Filming Sicily with Aldo and Enzo

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This is being broadcast several times a day on GoodFood (Sky 247) weekdays this week and next, take a look.

I (Andy Walton) was employed by Trevor McCallum of red door tv to shoot and edit an ad funded cookery show in Sicily. The project took 2 years till we started shooting, a lot changed in that time. Originally it was to be shot for sd broadcast, I had 2 xdcam camcorders, a pdw-350 and a330, at that time they were approved for full hd production by Discovery. I planned to shoot in hd and hoped an hd version later might bring in more budget. In that 2 year planning and negotiating phase the dslr/large chip shallow dof revolution began, we also got the 50mbit bbc rules. The channel also now expected delivery in hd(so much for my plans to make a bit extra for an hd version). I had discussed the option of a smaller large chip option with Trevor, he liked the idea, at the time we were supposed to start shooting (early 2011) the only sensible option was a 101 with an atomos ninja, I already had a hacked gh1 so I had some nice lenses, 14-140, 7-14, 20mm pancake and some canon fd primes. The 101 it was, it arrived with a ninja ( both purchased from proactive). I wasn’t that impressed with my original test shots, it didn’t seem as sharp as my gh1 or my 350. I scoured the net for info and finally got some settings that helped with latitude and colour, it still never looked as sharp as the gh1! The chefs were Aldo Zilli and a Sicilian chef Enzo Olivieri.
We did a small test shoot a couple of weeks before the flight to Sicily, it showed we would need 3 cameras for the recipes, the 101 as main hand held with the 14-140 on, covering the 2 chefs and following the action, the 350 was on legs and would cover close ups of the cooking and prep, as a safety net we locked the gh1 off on legs as an oblique wide with a 14-42 on, it was operated by enzo’s son to try to frame me out of its shot.
The crew were Trevor as director/producer, arch Dyson as exec producer/ compliance, me as DOP, James styles as 2nd camera, Roberto as camera assistant/runner, mike Erander on sound. There were 2 production assistants who also doubled up as home economists. The 2 chefs also travelled with us, we were flying easyjet and had 1 carry on and 1 hold baggage, they couldn’t stretch to any more. I had 4 small peli cases, a large size pdw-350, a large kitbag with lights, grip and 2 tripods in it and a suitcase with a few clothes and all the small chargers and discs etc. It meant a military style plan with others having to share cases and hand bags so all the kit could travel within the allowance, we were still arranging bags as we checked in. We just made it!
We were away for 12 days inclusive of travel days, we had 10 shows to shoot in 10 different towns/ locations, 3 dishes per show and links, several of which involved boats or markets etc. we stayed in 5 different hotels, I had to transfer all the files as we went along (several sleepless nights).
We arrived in sicily late afternoon and picked up a van with local hero (Enzos brother Salvatori) and a car, we drove to a hotel in Taormina, after a brief break we set about filming a sequence with the 101 through the town to be used at the end of the episode, it turned out not being used as the programme had too much content for the 22 minute episode, a nights rest and the fun began with a sequence filmed on a boat along the coast, on the 101 with ninja, that went well and the footage looked great. We were filming in the grounds of our hotel which had the jetty to land the boat. A trip through the town where I filmed the GV’s for this episode and some long shots of Mt Etna for the next episode. We also filmed a sequence outside a shop and another unused sequence at the local amphitheatre. We returned to the hotel at approx 3pm to find the hotel had a wedding in the grounds, a small panic later we filmed on the shore with a very pretty backdrop, we had issues with wind and the setting sun but managed to get 3 dishes filmed before the shadows were too long. Each episode had 3 dishes, all filmed withe the 101 handheld with the ninja, my second cameraman James filmed on legs with the pdw-350 mostly doing close ups of the chopping and pans, we locked off the gh1 on a wide. It took the first couple of days to establish a pattern, our exec producer Arch Dyson was monitoring the 2 main cameras through a sony hd monitor, he was making sure we covered the important stuff and kept an eye on complience issues. I began to use my peripheral vision to see where James was pointing the camera and covered anything he missed, we had 2 chefs who at times were both cooking, we paused as little as we had to and rarely had to re take any cookery. That evening after our first full day shooting we moved to a hotel near to Mt Etna, our day 2 shoot. We filmed in a crater at high altitude, the logistics of moving all the cooking and camera kit was really difficult, really tiring and took ages. On route to the mountain we filmed an opening link on the sony and a shopping sequence on the gh1.
GV’s of the mountain were done by me and James while the cooking equipment was setup. A really efficient 3 dishes later we left the mountain for a hard earned meal in an amazing restaurant on route back to hotel number 2. Day 3 started with a trip to our next hotel and loccation, we filmed the opening link and GV’s on the sony, Day 4 was full on with a shopping sequence in a local market where we also filmed 2 of the dishes, we filmed under a red canopy which played havoc with the light, both colour and exposure, I had to do major 3 way colour correction in edius to desaturate the blown out highlights of the rear of the 101 shots. I found the issue of weird colours in blown highlights was salvaged by desaturating the highlights, edius is great at this and realtime which made the edit much quicker. we moved back to the town to film a sequence in an ice cream store, all on the 101 until the last part where the programme ended, this programme was hectic and required a lot of editing down to fit in to 22 mins, it did end up as our first programme so was felt to be strong by the director Trevor. We moved on to our next location that evening a spectacular vineyard, the chefs were staying on site the crew were demoted to a local guest house, we filmed a sunset and a never used interview with the director of the vineyard, an unusual night drinking beer from a mobile catering wagon next to our guesthouse was more fun that expected. A really busy day at the vineyard with opening links taking a couple of hours, more wind issues and a dance sequence after filming the cookery meant we finished at sunset, a pleasant meal courtesy of the vineyard and another long journey to our final hotel, which was on a hillside in Monreale overlooking Palermo, we were based here for 6 nights, issues with plumbing aside it was nice to be able to setup all my chargers and laptop for the last time. We filmed within an hour or so for the next 6 days, we had become pretty slick at the pattern by now, James would do GV’s while I filmed opening links. Th most noteable event in those last 6 days was a mad rush to film a sequence with an opera singer called Gary who had flown in from Bromley! We had half an hour to setup 3 cameras, sound and run 3 passes in an amazing amphitheatre before they closed the gates! In Palermo we broke from the show format and filmed in different locations including a sequence outside in the dark at a restaurant which cooked fish on a bbq, the 101 with the f1.7 20mm pancake was much better in the lowlight than the pdw-350.
I also had an original gopro which we used in a sequence in a really small car in Corleone. I had 1 recipe wher the ninja caused a problem, it locked up and refused to turn on or off, I was literally about to start the dish so elected to just use the internal recording, a battery recycle later I was up and running again, I only lost 3 shots during the entire shoot, it was some gv’s filmed on the 101 on the last day, I think I must have reused the memmory card before I realised  hadn’t copied off the footage. The ninja was amazing as was the 101, no issues apart from those mentioned. The sony 350 performed flawlessly and looked amazing despite only being 35mb and 1440 resolution. I was most amazed with the hacked gh1, it was sharp and after a little correction matched quite well.
I edited myself over a 3 month period using edius, the ninja footage was prores (110mb) the xdcam was native and the gh1 avchd (44mb), edius handled it all realtime, I extensively colour corrected to both match the cameras and enhance sky colours. I had to work hard with the 101 on the skintones, the chefs were both italian and tanned as we progressed, I had to do a 3way pass just to desaturate and reduce the red in their skintones, it ended up looking pretty good and I think most of the footage matched well. I had a big issue finding a format our sound guy could accept into his pc based protools system, so much so that we ended up doing the dub in edius, not something I was comfortable with but would be happier next time as I think it’s come out well. I mastered onto hdcam sr and apart from a few complience issues (involving product placement issues, Sicily as the sponsor of the programme was considered to be the product, so we had to edit out most of the comments the chefs made about the great location) the post process went really smoothly.

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

Filming for Type 1 Diabetes “Day ONE”

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We are now full steam ahead filming a major project on Type 1 Diabetes using the Canon C300 and the Canon XF305.

Todays interesting stories were as I was doing some final matching between the 300 and the 305 my 18 month rescue dog Candy decided to bring up her breakfast almost on top of my Sony 740 OLED monitor.

Secondly as the pressure mounted and the consultant was waiting to get on with things I noticed the C300 did not have any audio metering…strange…after a mad panic round the menu I discovered I had left the WFM switched on although it was not on the cameras LCD ? I pressed the WFM switch and the audio meters came back on.

Never leave the Canon C300 in any mode other than the normal shooting mode or like me it may come back to bite you when you least expect it.

The lighting was a bounced LED with a blue gel as you can see to the top right of picture and a diffused LED light between the two cameras. Sound was a Sennheiser gun mic mounted on a small stand just out of picture and a Sennheiser tie pin mic stuck onto the doctors shirt with a Rycote undercover sticky. In a live situation like this you have no control of external sound like people talking in the next room, you just have to live with it.

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

Behind the scenes at Hampden Park’s historic SFL meeting

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My son Scott runs the Footy Blog.net and wanted to cover this historic meeting at Hampden Park where the fate of Glasgow Rangers was to unfold. I was using the Canon XF305 for the first time, the camera performed well but I still have a few tweeks to get the exposure spot on.

Our angle was less of a news item but more of a behind the scenes…how the media covered the day. This is my take on the day and Scott edited his own version which you can see here   http://www.thefootyblog.net/2012/07/14/sfl-decision-day-caught-on-film/

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

Shooting Weddings in India

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I am a wedding photographer in Mumbai India. In India the budget for wedding photography & video varies from min.US$350/- to US$5,000/- or more. Covering big weddings is a teamwork and normally the complete job is given to one team of four to six cameramen. To shoot HD video on dslr of such weddings, at leat two more cameraman are needed so this is helping more people to earn, as well as show the skill of creating excellent video of Indian weddings with a style, where nothing is under control of the Still photographers & Video cameramen. If some one is comparing “Wedding Video” with any other videos, where all the parameters are under control of the director, then this is the biggest mistake.In India almost all weddings have gathering of about 500 to 1000 guests and to shoot such weddings at least two still photographers & two video cameramen are needed. Indian weddings are completely differnt than the weddings in U.S. or weddings in Europe.

The trend of ”shortvideo” of about 10-15 min.of a wedding ceremony that takes place for two to four days is very much popular in young couples & they are insisting for the teams for still photgraphy & video of there choice. In the past all these things were decided by parents. So in India neither still photographer is killing the video nor the video cameramen are killing the still photographers.The standerd of Wedding Video in India was so bad in the past that it can not be worst than what it was !! After introduction of DSLRs with HD video,it is improving very fast. I am sure the situation in some other country will be different than it is in U.S.or in India, in my opinion dslr with HD video will help more young talents at least in India.            www.milindketkar.com

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

Review of the Sony F65 by Martin Chab

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Some weeks ago i had the great opportunity to do a thorough test and review of new mighty digital cinema Sony F65 camera. During 9 days we pushed the camera in many directions, using diverse sets of lenses and accessories and in diverse production scenarios to see in depth the kind of response we could expect from this beast.
I have to tell you, I am very pleased, even if i think that Sony needs to do some more work to consider this product 100% “finished”.

 

I wont make you loose time doing endless introductions or describing what you already can read in the brochure. I will try to tell you my practical experience about this state of the art technology focusing in things that i believe are relevant to most of the production. So….

Latitude

Let me tell you one thing. The Latitude of this camera is insane!!!!! period.
No other camera that i used so far comes even close to it. And the reason is not only the sensor itself but because of the fact that the RAW files are stored in 16 bits per channel linear. That means that the data is never clipped.
Don’t you believe me? see for yourself. This take was shot in midday full sun without any reflector or help to lower the contrast ratio of the image in any way.
As you can see there is no detail loss whatsoever in the shadows or highlights. When i first opened the footage on our Davinci Resolve station i saw what i expected to see: a blown out sky, wall and part of the floor. But then i pushed the gain down and was happily surprised to see that all the information was there. Notice that the frame grab has no color grading whatsoever, only the gain in the highlights area pushed down i a very crude way just to see that the information is there.

But may be the most important thing is that the information is not reduced in range like in an HDR but you continue having the whole set of values at your fingertips. If you want to output to Rec. 709, fine, just push you gain down and adjust the gamma to match your taste. Do you want to print in 35mm with whatever the method of your like? fine too, now you have a gamut that exceeds the 35mm film color space.

We had no time to do a real latitude measurement, sorry for that.
The camera has a button where you can access a hi and low key lot allowing you to see in the screen that is not capable of showing so wide latitude if you are clipping the whites or crushing the blacks, but we discovered that by the end of the second day. Very handy!

In the other hand, working with very low light the unit sensitivity did a great job. We shot all the interiors using the natural light available (just a small tungsten fresnel here and there ocassionally when the image needed some rim light). With its 800ASA base sensitivity, even pushing it over 1600 ASA the noise level is very, very low, but, perhaps more important the range of tones captured in the low light area are truly rich and detailed.

Noise

The noise produced by this camera is extremely low and the little noise produced pleseantly resembles a nice film grain. I couldn’t find SNR figures in the brochure but anyway for most of the people values expressed in decibels are not really meaningful. Also, normally the snr measurement is made with no signal (with the cap on) and it is a mean square root of the whole sensor noise sometimes giving a false idea of how the noise is ditributed over the diverse tones. Because of that i did a simple exercise so you can see with your own eyes: I took two frames and made an absolute difference between them.

Now you can see that the sky has a little noise, probably produced by the clouds movement and not by the camera. There is the water area with clear changes from one frame to the next, the same as a couple of cars passing by. And now for the big surprise look at the static areas….can you see the noise? no? try to click on the image to see the full 4k plate. You can hardly see any noise? Thats right!

I must clarify that i compressed the highlights of the image to fit the 0-110 IRE region of the parade monitor otherwise you wouldnt see any noise in the sky too. Thas is why the image looks so dark. Even though you can see the level of detail that is retained when looking at the full plate.

Glasses

Any kind of lenses with PL mount will do, but here i need to warn you. The extreme high photosite count in this camera means that you must use a very high end set of lenses if you want to exploit the full potential of the sensor.
That doesn’t mean that you are forced to spend a fortune in lenses rental, it depends on your output and taste of course.
We tested the camera using four different set of lenses: an Angenieux 45-120 zoom, a set of Red Primes, A Carl Zeiss CP series and a set of old anamorphic russian Lomo lenses. In some tests we used a set of Black Pro Mist filters to reduce the extreme natural sharpness of the camera.
We started our tests with the Lomo set.
As we guessed this lenses gave us a soft and pleasant image perfect for a 2k output, but we wanted to push the camera to its limits so we switched to the more modern sets with a much higher MTF. Also the aspect ratio of the F65 sensor is 1.9 to 1 so, using that set of Lomo we would get an aspect ratio close to 3.9 to 1 what we considered too much for what we wanted to do. The overall contrast of this lenses was also much lower that the spherical modern counterpart.

The angenieux zoom fitted on the F65

Some words about MTF (modulation transfer function)

Strange word isn’t it? Sounds very complex but actually it is very easy to understand.

Modulation transfer function is a measurement of the capacity of a system (in general applied to lenses) on tranferring contrast from one side to the other. What i mean with this is: if you have an image on one side of a lens for example consisting on black and white stripes with a theorical value of pure white and pure black (and thus a 100% contrast ratio) the image produced by the lens in the other side will never have the same contrast ratio but much lower. The reasons for this are several but to keep it simple think in the difussion (scattering) of the non perfect surface and material of the lens washing the black stripes and the absorbtion and reflection lowering the intensity of the light transmitted trough the lens.

But in this case it is even more important to understand that the drop of contrast trough a system (it doesn’t matter if it is a lens or a mathematical equation subject to rounding clipping, or whatever the system, the signal transfer is always lossy) is dependent on the frequency.

It continue to be obscure? follow me:

As you can see the drop in contrast in fine lines (higher frequency) is much higher than in lines that are thicker and spaced apart from each other. Eventually the drop of contrast will be so high that we wont be able to recognize the lines, that point is called the resolving power of the system. Note that the contrast ratio and the difference in contrast of this picture is illustrative only, each system or lens will have their own characteristics.

That is why it is called Modulation Transfer Function, because is the function that describes how the modulation (contrast depending on the frequency) is transferred from one side to the other.

Now, why you should bother about this?

Well, the F65 with a so high photosite count and the higher fill factor available up to this days has a very high MTF. Translated to a human language a much lower drop in contrast in the fine details preserving the sharpness and details in a way not possible until the release of this camera.

Of course this is an oversimplification of what MTF is all about, but i think it is enough to understand the concept.

Recording formats

The F65 records your shots to the SR-R4 SRMASTER field recorder attached to the body through an optical fiber. There are basically two recording modes:

oversampled 2k or 4k Raw linear 16 bits per channel (in future firmware updates there will be the 8k option too) or using the HDcam SRcodec at 220 Mb/s (lite) and up to 880 Mb/s choosing 4:2:2 chroma subsampling YCbCr or full 4:4:4 RGB in either 10 or 12 bits. Note that this is a recording mode, not a shooting mode, that means that it doesn’t matter which format you choose you are always using the full sensor and all the photosites, no crop, no line skipping, no nothing, just oversampling what it makes you image much detailed and crisp. We tested both modes with great results. If you dont need to do a complex postproduction or VFX the Hdcam recording works like a charm.

The RAW mode will fill in a 256 Gb memory pack in only 14 minutes so: consider to have plenty of 256, 512 or 1T memories if you plan to shoot the whole day in this format (and consider the time for offload in your plan, more of this later on).

Since the RAW data needs to be developed some software packages (and many more will come in the near future for sure) included the demosaicking process specific to the F65 in their programs. The kind of algoritms used on each are not known yet but a studio with enough resources can easily adapt de development process to their needs based on the speed/quality desired based on the processing power they have.

The F65 comes with the F65 Raw Viewer software (on its version 1 as for now) containing a full set of debayering options and viewing tools. You can choose your color space, gamut and LUT, do a first color adjustement, see your footage side by side or in split mode with the settings you are tweaking, see it in anamorphic mode, send to batch conversion and so on. The choices for output so far are DPX in 10 or 16 bits, OpenExr in 16 or 32 bits and F65 RAW to create a new set of metadata. You can also export anCDL from here. It work well. I hope to see the possibility to import EDL/XML/AAF editings soon.

Color Grading experience

We are not done yet with the editing of the material but i couldn’t resist. I had to try to play with the colouring of some of this files!

First i used Davinci Resolve to generate the proxys for the editing. This was a pretty straightforward operation and took an acceptable time to render. As a reference I processed 1:30 hours of material recorded at 4k linear Raw 16 bits (1.5 Terabytes worth of footage) using a simple station:

A mac pro 2008 8 processors with 16 gigs Ram, a Quadro 4000 and a Nvidia 8800GT, as you can guess not the fastest system. Even worst the source was pushed from an external usb 2.0 drive and a 2.5 external firewire drive for the output. I processed with the full quality demosaicing, using no LUT, interpreting the files with the Sgamut with Rec.709 gamma and ACES color science and setting my outs to 1920 prores lite. Even so the proxy generation process took about 5 hours. I will update this figures when i have the chance to do a proper work using the RAID for the source and output.

Then i put my fingers on some files grading directly the original 4k footage and played with the colouring. Man! The image is like rubber! You have so much information there that you can pull details to every direction very hard without any banding or artifacts.

To track a window in Resolve was a great surprise too. I’d never saw a mask sticking to the shape so perfectly, even if i was tracking an object that was rotating and at the same time moving all over the screen and going partially out of frame. The only moment that i had a small non critical shift was during a very hard focus pull where the object got completely out of focus (and even so the tracking was possible!!!). All the perspective changes of the melted glass were perfectly copied. I can hardly asses the huge time savings that this level of precision can bring during a complex grading.

To do qualifications during the color grading it is a dream too. Working in the ACES gamut with 16 bits allows you to select an incredibly fine range of HSL values with a very high detail.
The image provided by this camera is somewhat videoish if compared to, let say, an Arri Alexa, but in the hands of a good colorist you shouldn’t have any problem to get any look that you can imagine.

The perfect camera for postproduction?

Need to do a green screen work? Look no further.
Having green photosites for each of the 4k output, and recording in 16 bits per channel linear, this camera allows you to do a green screen as you never imagined before. There is no other camera in the world capable of doing this. No technology in the history of the cinema/video could capture so fine details in the green channel with so many gradations.
It is a dream for post producers but also it is a potential big money saver with its possibility to do perfect keys in no time.

I did also a 3d tracking test using Syntheyes. The result was the best i have ever seen.
The auto tracker gave me straight away an horizontal error of 0.6 pixels over the full 4k plate (that means an error of a third of a pixel over a 2k plate!!) without any clean up and using no manual tracking whatsoever! The scene is full of moving elements what it normally would destroy any good tracking effort but, since the detail in the plate is so high, syntheyes managed to give me a great result immediately.
This is huge!! It could potentially raise a lot the quality but most important: it will save the producers tons of money in the postproduction process!!!
Remember: this camera has a mechanical rotative shutter and no rolling shutter artifacts at all. This means that the 3d information contained in the mage is never harmed.
Of course you can choose from the menu the option to use the electronic shutter if you need to match the image with another camera.
As expected Imagineer Mocha gave also astounding results with a precision that i never saw before.

One part that need more work from Sony is the fan. It is noisy and on it high setting is really noisy. The camera has several setting for the fan including an auto 1 and auto 2 (no idea about the differences of this two modes).
Granted, that large sensor with so high photosite count and high fps will produce a lot of heat, but to shoot with sound in a quiet environment would be really tricky.
I would like to do a test with the fan at its minimum settings in a hot room for some hours to see how much it raises the noise in the picture. Next time perhaps.

Hopefully this issue will be solved soon by Sony.

SRPC-4 eSATA / GigE SRMemory transfer station

The transfer station is a small box that can read the memories to be transferred to a hard drive or a computer. The transfer station is computer itself even if you cannot run it standalone, you need a computer to control it.
The connection is done through a network cable (1gb/s or even 10 gb/s) and all the functions are driven through a web browser interface.
You can transfer the files to your computer, a hard drive connected to your machine or even to an e-sata disk connected directly to the unit.
I clearly felt that this units needs a lot more work to be finished.
The way of connecting to it is very complicated using an external program called NFS manager that remaps your disks and network connections.
The first time i did try it it didn’t work. I searched for every single way that i could imagine to connect to the unit without any luck until i discovered a way to access the list of internal setting to discover that the ip address was lost and replaced by one completely strange.
Not knowing what to do i started the machine pressing the lock/unlock button at the same time. That put the unit in reset mode, i am a genius!!
Through the interface now i could reset the ip address and finally had a working connection.
Since the unit uses the standard router ip you have to be disconnected from the internet if you have a router in your system otherwise the browser will get in touch with the router instead of the sony memory reader what it is very annoying.
It is true, once the system was set up its use is rather simple even if it lack some basic functionality like to erase a single file. I heard someone saying that the lack of that function is a safety measure, but giving the price of each memory and the long transfer times i consider that function a must when you need to free some space to continue your shooting. Just add several confirmation windows before you actually are allowed to delete a file, please Sony!
Consider this, if you are recording in raw a 256 gigabytes memory pack will last for only 14 minutes and the transfer can take a very long time depending on the disk/raid/e-sata/net connection speed. As an example, with a regular usb external disk and a 1gb/s net link it took about 3 or more hours to offload a single 256 gb memory!

There is way much more to this camera, for example the possibility to shoot at 120 fps (with the next firmware revision), tons of in and outs for every scenario you can imagine, embedded IR corrected ND filters, viewing LUTs, and much more, but i will live all that stuff for the second and third part of this review.

Martin Chab is a postproduction and image technology expert as well as a DOP with more than 25 years experience working in the cinema/video/tv business.

Currently based in Malmö, Sweden.

You can contact me for questions about this review or assignements at martinchab@gmail.com.

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

Filming Scottish Football without Rangers

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Having covered a few Scottish football games in my time for Scottish Television I feel I am more than equipped to have my say on the hot debate about life without Glasgow Rangers.

Less than two years ago I was hired by Sports News to cover Rangers v Manchester United at Ibrox, at that time I had a Sony PMW-350 which was and still is a great XDCAM camcorder, I was the talk of the media pack as I was the only person sporting the only PMW-350 at that time.

Scott with Paddy Crerand an ex Celtic player and Manchester United hero.

During the day I was able to involve Scott my son (26) who had an absolute ball being amongst his heroes and seeing Sir Alex Ferguson an ex Rangers player himself.

You get a buzz filming live events and being part of the media but it also brings a great responsibility as your footage has to be edited on the evening then sent down south via some internet server to be played out that evening.

Once again being cutting edge we were the only crew at that press conference that had a Sony 350 and edit with a MacBook Pro on Final Cut.

This brings me back to life without Rangers, there has been a lot of clap trap spoken about Scottish Football recently and the facts are as follows…

1. Will Sky come in with a lesser offer if Rangers are not in the 1st division…YES

2. What will happen if the clubs vote to start Rangers in division three…Sky will offer a pittance to cover Scottish football or will pull out altogether.

3. Raith Rovers a small Scottish team have muted their own TV filming deal…SETANTA… do I need to say more and they could not make it pay WITH RANGERS !

Who wants to watch one sided football where Glasgow Celtic win time after time with no real opposition, can I just add we are in the worst economic double dip recession  and people do not have spare cash for pay as you go one sided Scottish football TV matches.

Reality is that for all you have heard about Glasgow Rangers they are the second pillar equal only to Celtic in Scottish football and without them as opposition and the fans gate money both home and away I predict Scottish football will be in deep financial trouble before the end of the 2012 season.

It’s all about showmanship as well as the game of football itself, there was never a better match than to find yourself filming Rangers and Celtic, the buzz was electric, the ground was full of paying customers. Without Sky shoring up the Scottish game it will be not only a farce but will put a good few lesser teams under as well…mark my words.

It has been a sad story no matter who you support but for all those fans who are happy to see Rangers demise be careful what you wish for !

 

“This comes from someone who does not follow football but can see the obvious if the 30 Scottish football league clubs vote the wrong way next week.”

 

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

Now filming with Canon C300 and XF305

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This story begins with me sending back my Canon XF100 as a second camera to the C300, as a single chip camera it was not cutting the mustard.

I was hoping to be using a Panasonic AC160, as the pictures match the C300 (colour wise) perfectly. I was amazed how the Panasonic and the C300 matched but one detail let the 160 down and that was VBR (Variable Bit Rate).

I saw some fantastic footage using the Panasonic in PH 21Mbps mode, especially close ups, but on occasions I would see less than acceptable footage creeping in, which was the bad end of the Variable Bit Rate. Having 21Mbps to start off with does not give you much latitude when the bit rate starts to drop, so with a heavy heart I sent the AC160 back.

By now I was running out of options, the PMW-100 was a non starter so I was faced with the NX70, EX1r or the Canon XF305.

The NX70 is on back order and to be honest I already had two NX70s and sold them. They are great cameras but not what I am looking for. The EX1r is also a great camera but being tied to SxS again after selling all my SxS cards did not help matters.

The Canon XF305 was in stock at Preston Media so with a bit of wheeling and dealing I got myself a 305. Out of the box this camera is poor so be warned you will need to set up a Custom Picture not only to make the colours more natural but to cut the noise down.

As usual Canon send these cameras out with the NR set to “Automatic” which has a detrimental effect on picture quality so switch it off and set it to 2.

Although the Canon has 3 chips, 4:2:2, 50Mbps and the magical CBR (Constant Bit Rate), I cannot match the colours to the C300 as good as I could with the Panasonic AC160 but the pictures from the 305 are stunning.

I need a run and gun camcorder for everything other than interviews and the Canon XF305 will be a great stable mate to the C300.

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

BBC don’t give Sony’s 50Mbps PMW-100 the thumbs up

Categories: Miscellaneous 14 Comments

Just goes to show you that just because you stick a 50Mbps SxS recorder onto a lower spec camera that does not give you safe passage to the coveted BBC HD approval stamp. A source within the BBC has just informed me that the PMW-100 will not get the HD stamp of approval although they would not go any further with specific details.

Personally I think this camera is spot on for VJs, a cheap one man do all cameraperson that the BBC does approve, I have nothing against the one man band it’s the health a safety issues that bothers me more about the VJ setup.

There are differing levels of approval within the BBC and just because it does not aspire to the same level of approval as the Canon XF305 it may just come under the wire for news programming.

The Sony PMW-100 is probably the first in a line of cheaper 50Mbps XDCAM camcorders and its sad that Sony bring out this level of camera with a built in 50Mbps recording facility and left the same technology out of the sorely needed PMW-F3…why !!!

The Canon horse has now bolted with the XF305 and the C300, both BBC approved HD camcorders you would think a company like Sony would re-think their policy of protecting the PMW-500 which is a completely different beast to a hand held camcorder and produce something fit for purpose.

I will say it again if they add 50Mbps to an EX1r or EX3 they would win a watch… as long as they don’t charge accordingly like add a £1000 for the extra 15Mbps.

So where did the PMW-100 go wrong…simple, the 1/2.9-inch type Single-chip Exmor CMOS does not come up to the spec for broadcast it’s a tad bigger than one third inch but not having three chips was always going to be it’s Achilles heal.

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

Is the AVID ship sinking !

Categories: Miscellaneous No Comments

Excert from fcp.co

“Today brought more news from Avid that things are not too rosy in Burlington Massachusetts for the one time pioneer of NLEs. They are selling off the consumer M-Audio brand and more incredibly their consumer editing apps including Avid Studio for the iPad.

We were quite staggered in a few conversations during NAB when editing colleagues didn’t realise that Avid wasn’t in a great financial state. The heavilly promoted FCP switcher campaign that was offered in the run up to the FCPX launch and beyond might have given the impression that Avid were growing and were going to grow more in the future.

The actual picture is somewhat different.

Avid have been in poor financial health for a while, the company has been shedding jobs on a regular basis to try and keep costs down. In October 2011 Avid laid off 10% of their workforce and today Avid announced that they intend to reduce the headcount further by another 20%.”

HDW : Avid in my opinion should have gone for broke with Avid Media Composer 6 priced at around the £600 mark rather than the £1799 which enticed almost no one to jump, with FCPX at just under £300 and Premiere Pro at £700, Avid is well off target. Do what Adobe do and sell the editing software as a stand alone then add the peripheral sound and colour grading tools as a separate upgrade suite.

Avid is synonymous with the editing world and it would be a shame to loose it but for too long companies like Avid sat on their Laurels with overpriced out of date software and a reputation that filtered down through the broadcast market. As I have said so many times the video world is far bigger than broadcast and the spending power as a collective is huge compared to broadcast.

Back in the early eighties companies like Sony and Panasonic threw camcorders at broadcasters hoping that “their” brand would be taken on, Avid was one of the early adopters in NLE production especially in the “small” ever decreasing broadcast world and its no wonder that they are in financial trouble today as the market has now changed with independent production companies holding the significant purse strings. The Independent market has always suffered exuberent over pricing thanks to the broadcasters who buy in bulk and run the equipment into the ground, our local broadcaster STV bought into Panasonic’s DVC-PRO well over 10 years ago and are still using the dead 4:3 SD format, mainly for news.

As a for instance I was horrified with Apples early reincarnation of FCPX and was seriously looking to abandon ship my choice was Premiere Pro or Avid and I was serious enough to turn up to an Avid day at the Hub in Glasgow held by CVP during February this year but was not convinced enough to jump. There were many freelancers in the same predicament as myself and Avid had the chance to scoop us all but for the £1799 price, business is tough and getting tougher so as a collective we are hugh but as individuals we are small beer.

FCPX is far form satisfactory but is 10x better that its first incarnation, good enough to produce small 10min programs on, my point is that due to time and experimentation a lot of us are dipping our toes into FCPX and still using FCP-7 so the temptation to move on is rapidly decreasing causing a tidal wave down the ranks of people who have bought into FCPX now coming round to the fact that in time it will be a program we can all enjoy and depend upon and at £300 a pop is a mile ahead of Avids £1700 asking price. FCPX now edits 1080 50p AVCHD material and Canon MFX files as well as many other formats in-between that alone is very had to ignore and if like me you can edit between FCP-7 and FCPX you get the best of both worlds.

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

Canon C300 “Run & Gun” with manual sound !

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

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

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