An early review of the Canon C300

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See the new Sony F65 at CVP

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CNN lay off 50 staffers for FREE content by non professionals

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Walter Biscardi “As has been reported recently, CNN laid off 50 staffers, primarily videographers and editors.   Why?   Essentially after a three year internal review, CNN has determined that professional editors are not necessary to craft news stories any longer.   Instead they are expanding their iReport section allowing for more user generated content to be provided to the network, at absolutely zero cost to the network.

I have to have to say, this is the first time I’ve seen a broadcaster literally coming out and saying we’re going to replace professionals with consumers and hobbyists. They save the salaries of 50 professionals and get all sorts of free content, no matter how it’s shot or edited with no regard for sound or video quality. Kind of ironic to see this push to the lowest common denominator at the same time that so many editors are discovering the joys of high end color correction tools.”

You can read the full story at :

This is a very chilling story especially when you can bet the bean counters over here in the UK will be watching this story with great interest.

Television news in its basic form is someone passing on some information with the odd video thrown in for good measure so why do I care ?

I care because my craft is being eroded by shareholders and bean counters who could not care less what rubbish you see on your televisions as long as the bottom line is saving money. Many a poor decision has been taken with shareholders in mind.

British television news has always been at the forefront of innovative yet interesting formats the best in my mind is still the national BBC news network with Sky news coming a close second.

We still get on the whole well produced news items filmed by experienced camera men/women and edited usually by the news staff reporters themselves. Its all cuts and the reporters are taught how to do simple editing with the more involved story being cut by an editor.

VJs or Video Journalists as they are known by are staff reporters who turn up to a news story with a semi professional camcorder and produce simple point and shoot news story’s, sadly this has also meant laying off cameramen and women and using less freelancers for daily news.

To go down the CNN road is to completely rip the heart out of a newsroom by using amateur footage full stop…anyone can work for zero and you can be well assured that the free footage producers for CNN will get sick of working for nothing after a while or worse still produce utter rubbish because their enthusiasm has diminished.

People eventually click that big companies are taking the rip and I think CNN will 100% live to regret this unprofessional move towards free TV news input.

As news watchers we accept the odd news story with amateur footage usually filmed on a mobile phone but could you imaging everything filmed at that quality !

Newspapers are always looking for free content from their readers for their web sites but their is a marked difference in standards between web news and television news.

This is part of Scottish Televisions local news input via the web it’s more like a community news port with some footage shot locally by the web providers, not as professional as the main news coverage that STV provides but it keeps someone in a job.

People are savvy creatures they may not be television producers but they know when they are being short changed and amateur footage shines through like a sore thumb, lest we forget ratings why would Ted Turner forgo the all important ratings just to save a few bucks in peoples wages, this news is a sad day for world television news and even sadder for those professionals who after many years service lose their highly skilled jobs to a bunch of amateurs it beggars belief.

Just in case you have some smashing FREE footage that you want to get rid of then Final Cut Pro 10 has the answer , (I knew FCP-10 was useful for something) the drop down panel under sharing you have surprise, surprise an option called iReport so you can see CNN were thinking of this move well over a year ago.

Fortunately for us in the UK the BBC should remain relatively free from the amateur poking their nose into television news reporting but you do have to keep an eye on companies like CNN who seem to think they have the perfect solution to the wage-less news room when it will fall flat on their face in years to come and a legacy they will certainly not be proud of.

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

FREE gifts for Christmas at H Preston Media

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There has never been a better time to buy a Sony FS100 or a Panasonic AF101. H Preston Media based at Malvern have some cracking offers this December, you get a FREE Sony NX5K with every FS100 during December and a FREE iPad 2 with every AF 101, HMC 41, HMC 81 or HMC 151.

I work part time for H Preston Media but they are a good bunch and have a lot of fantastic offers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Large sensors in 2012 a look into the future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

NEX-FS100 Improvements due March 2012

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

HXR-NX70 Improvements due March 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Must Watch Video !

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

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

Super 35mm Movie Maker $85

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

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

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


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Vincent Laforet jumps ship and chooses Premiere Pro (Updated)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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