The Sony PMW-200 shipping in September “The things you need to know”

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A great surprise, for once Sony have almost been listening to my moaning, we all love the 1/2″ sensor and all the rich features it brings especially in the low light department. 50Mbs destroys the constant bug bear of using 3rd party external recorders which is a blessing and much needed in the lonely world of Canons XF300/305.
Having a 3x 1/2″ CMOS Exmor chip set will bring a lot of fans to this camera, so many of us have bought into 1/3″ cameras and its not the same experience.
The 14x fuji lens is a good well tested, sharp, constant aperture lens that has my vote, others like Canon do give you 22x “L” glass but not constant aperture and thats important when filming indoors, the 1-2 f stop drop in light in non constant aperture lenses can destroy a great shot.
Bad news… I have it on authority the PMW-200 produces 422, 50Mbps on SxS, this limits the CBR (Constant Bit Rate) 422 to an expensive media, at £360 for 1 hours worth of footage is excessive in my books and will not compete with the Canon XF305 with its CF media which is 6x cheaper.
Good news…As far as I am aware you will be able to use Sony’s XQD cards to record 422 50Mbps, ranging from £170-£230 for a 32G card.
XDCAM is an 8bit format but you can get 10bit out of the HD-SDI port if you need the extra quality.
The camera records 1080 50i and 720 50p CBR at 50Mbps and 35Mbps at VBR and 25Mbps at CBR.
Electric Viewfinder (EVF); Approx 1.2 million pixels. 852 x 3 (RGB) x 480 a vast improvement on the PMW-100.
Here is a list of features that did not transfer from the EX1r to the PMW-200
  • The Shot Transition push-button feature for moving automatically between two sets of presets (focus, zoom, etc) has been discarded
  • Component video out is gone. Instead, the camera has a BNC terminal for composite video out that doubles as a genlock in. Another BNC enables timecode in and out. (The EXR1 had neither genlock in nor timecode in/out.) HDMI and SDI output are still there, of course. “We took off one output connector and gave you two additional,”
  • The PMW did not inherit the rotating handgrip from the EXR1r

Sony have missed a trick with this camera if it turns out that you only get 50Mbps using expensive SxS media or XQD cards, the only reason the EX1, 3 and 1r sold in vast numbers was because you could use SDHC card adapters, if you have got plenty of SxS media then clearly the PMW-200 is a good upgrade, second camera, but for those of us who relied on SDHC for archive and keeping the costs down you are limited to 420 35Mbps variable bit rate which is nothing better than an EX1r can produce for £2000 less !

Don’t get me wrong the PMW-200 will sell by the bucket load but if Sony could find some way of either reducing the price of SxS or the more domestic XQD cards all the better.

In the past Sony soon realised that by holding onto their legacy “Memory Stick” media, that they were severely hampering sales of solid state camcorders and changed over to SDHC card compatibility, one of the best moves Sony ever made.

So what now, it seems clear that Sony are driving a new path of XDCAM camcorders and the PMW-300 will be on the drawing board with similar specs to the EX3, interchangeable lens, semi shoulder mount and an LCD hood, lets hope it comes with super slow motion like the FS700 and the ability to record 50Mbps onto XQD cards !

PS. Please remember you still need to upgrade the F3 to the F5 with 50Mbps back end and super slow motion like 240 fps at full HD.

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Alister Chapman reviews the Sony PMW-200

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Sony Professional: Sony PMW-200 review from Sony Professional Europe on Vimeo.

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Sony PMW-200 “Specs” £6,192 incl vat

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Three 1/2-inch type ExmorCMOS Full HD sensors for a wide range of shooting conditions
The PMW-200 is the first handheld camera in its class to be equipped with three large, newly developed 1/2-inch Exmor CMOS sensors, which provide excellent sensitivity and depth of field characteristics. Each of the sensors has an effective pixel count of two million pixels and achieves Full HD 1920x 1080 shooting without pixel interpolation. By placing multiple A/D converters in parallel, it has also been possible to reduce the speed of the operating clock and lower power consumption.

14x Fujinon professional HD zoom Lens with three independent rings with end stops
The 14x Fujinon high quality lens has auto focus and image stabilising functions, with an exceptionally flexible control system, which gives the operator the ability to operate the focus manually.The independent control of each ring of the lens –focus, zoom and iris – makes for better and faster adjustment. It also makes the system more accurate when setting because of the ‘stop’ function of each of the rings.

Optical SteadyShot and LCD panel for focus assist functions
Optical SteadyShot is activated by the electric lens shift mechanism. The camcorder’s 3.5-type LCD panel also helps the precise manual focus operation.The central part of the shooting frame (854 x480) can be magnified on the LCD panel and the viewfinder. The function is automatically cancelled five seconds after the focus ring is no longer in use.You can also select the peaking level in the menu and also choose the colour for the peaking signal on the LCD and viewfinder.

High quality MPEG HD 422 recordings
The PMW-200 supports MPEG HD 422 50 Mbps in MXF, which is widely accepted by major broadcasters worldwide. HD 422 gives a high quality image with more detailed colour reproduction, as well as being ideal for chromakeying. It’s also compatible with other XDCAM HD 422 camcorders, including the PMW-500 and the PMW-100, which streamlines workflow and reduces time in the edit.

Switchable recordings for greater flexibility

As well as shooting at HD 422 50 Mbps, the camcorderalso supports MPEG HD 420 in MP4 file format, which is compatible with XDCAM EX camcorders and DVCAM at 25 Mbps.The file format is also selectable between MP4 (FAT) or MXF(UDF) in HD and AVI (FAT) or MXF (UDF) in SD.

WiFi remote control*
Apple iPads or Android mobile devices can be used as simple remote controllers. By attaching the optional CBK-WA01 WiFi adaptor, the remote can control zoom, focus, iris and white balance as well as the recording functions such as recording trigger.* Available with firmware upgrade planned for release in November 2012.

Continuous recordings for easier ingest
Multiple clips can be recorded as a single clip making the ingest operation to a NLE easy.

Slow and quick motion from 1 fps to 60 fps
Slow motion shooting is possible with up to 60 frames per second (fps) recording in 720P or 30 fps recording in 1080P, when used with the SxS Pro or SxS-1 memory card.Quick motion can be obtained by slowing the frame rate down to 1 fps.

Cache recording
Utilising a 15 second cache recording function, the PMW-200 can help prevent the loss of important scenes or events that occur up to 15 seconds before the camera’s REC start button is pressed.

Two SxS Memory Card slots
There are two SxS Memory Card slots, which allows for around four hours of continuous recording, with two hours of HD 422 50 Mbps recorded on each 64GB SxS Memory Card. Content can be copied between the two slots.The PMW-200 can use either SxS Pro or SxS-1 cards. It will also accept consumer recording media, including memory stick, SD card and XDQ card with an appropriate adaptor for emergency use.

Multi-camera operation
The camcorder has a genlockIn and timecode In /Out interface so that it can link together with other cameras. The function makes the camcorder a cost effective alternative for use in multi camera event shoots.

Planning metadata automatically recorded
By loading a pre-recorded Planning Metadata file (XML file) to the PMW-200, either from anSxS memory card or a USB memory, the metadata is automatically generated and recorded as described in the XML file while recording. Also the filename of a clip is automatically set as described in the XML file.

Shutter angle setting similar to a film camera
As well as the standard electric shutter speed settings, the PMW-200 has an angle shutter setting, popular when shooting with a film camera. This is particularly useful when combining with Slow and Quick motion. By using the angle shutter, the ratio between exposure term and a frame term is always consistent, whatever frame number per second is selected in Slow and Quick motion, which means that the ‘intermittent effect’ is consistent, even in Slow and Quick motion, in the same way as shooting with a film camera.

Slow shutter and extended slow shutter
The slow shutter puts the operator at an advantage when shooting in low light. It allows the charge accumulation period of the imager to extend longer than a frame (field) term and the minimum illumination is drastically improved. The function is also useful for capturing a moving object with a special effect or afterimage, such as people’s movement at a crossroad.

Full auto mode for exposure control
In Full Auto mode the iris, gain and electric shutter are conveniently controlled automatically in combination to get the right exposure level.

HD/SD-SDI and HDMI Interface
The PMW-200 has an SDI interface so that it can connect with professional equipment including a monitor, recorder and switcher. It’s also possible to down-convert from HD to SD. There is also an HDMI interface making it possible to link to consumer products, such as a suitableHDTV or projector.

Connection to PC or Mac
The PMW-200 can be connected to a PC or Mac using the USB interface.

i.LINK interface
i.LINK (HDV) Out can be activated while SP 1440 (FAT) or DVCAM (FAT) is selected and the i.LINK (HDV) In signal can be recorded while the video format is set appropriately.

Four hours of use with a BP-U battery
Around four hours of operation is possible with a mid-sized BP-U60 battery. A BP-U 30 or BP-U90 can also be used.

4 channels 24-bit 48 kHz audio recordings
The PMW-200 is equipped with an integrated stereo microphone in front of the camera handle. There are also two XLR connectors, which connect to a widerange of professional microphone products.24-bit 48kHz audio can be recorded in HD 422 50 Mbps, with up to four channels of audio recorded, using two internal mics and two external mics.

Aspect mask to show safety area
The PMW-200s viewfinder and LCD can display the aspect area information, which will show the safety area of a frame. When an Aspect Marker is selected, the white rectangle to show the aspect area is displayed and when an Aspect Mask is selected, the outside of the aspect area is displayed with reduced brightness.

Assign buttons, menu control and output setting for greater flexibility
There are five assign buttons on the PMW-200 to allow the operator to choose a range of functions to automatically assign. The PMW-200 also has a menu function that is the same as the PMW-100 and consists of camera set, audio set, video set, LCD/VF set, TC/UB set and others.The output signal from the PMW-200 can also be selected depending on the menu setting.

Power on Quick Rec to help getup and running quicker
If the camera power is turned on while pushing a REC button, the ‘Quick Rec’ mode is activated. By accelerating the power on process, the camcorder can start up and begin recording more quickly than normal.

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The NEW Sony PMW-200

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Sony today unveiled a new addition to its market leading XDCAM HD422 line-up – the PMW-200, the only handheld camcorder in its class equipped with three 1/2 -inch Exmor™ CMOS sensors and full HD 4:2:2 50Mbps recording. The 1/2 -inch sensors mean the camcorder performs exceptionally well even in challenging lighting conditions. The handheld PMW-200 inherits the operational versatility of the PMW-EX1R which has become the de facto camcorder for a range of productions.

Designed using Sony’s advanced sensor technology and decades of experience, the PMW-200 answers the industry’s desire for a 4:2:2 50Mbps camcorder that utilises three 1/2 -inch type sensors. With all other handheld 50Mbps camcorders on the market featuring 1/3 -inch sensors, the PMW-200 is unique in delivering outstanding  full-HD resolution image quality, while providing excellent sensitivity that captures greater detail in both low light and bright environments. In addition, a variety of recording formats such as 50Mbps/35Mbps MXF, 35Mbps/25Mbps MP4 and DVCAM are available for a wide range of applications and workflows. The exceptional feature set of the PMW-200, including its 1/2 -inch sensors and 50Mbps recording capability, make this camcorder fully compliant with the latest EBU recommendations for long form broadcast production.

The PMW-200 builds on the hugely successful PMW-EX1R within Sony’s XDCAM family, with enhancements like MPEG HD422 recording for superior picture performance, while retaining the same ease of use and accessories as the PMW-EX1R.

“With the new PMW-200, we are putting one of the most versatile handheld camcorders we’ve ever developed onto the market,” said Bill Drummond, Strategic Marketing Manager, Professional Solutions, Sony Europe. “The PMW-200 combines exceptional picture quality, seamless HD422 50Mbps workflow and a whole host of other useful features, with an ergonomic form factor. The result for users is an agile, light-weight solution that meets their varied needs and is the perfect partner for shoulder camcorders such as the popular PMW-500. It is also the ideal A-camera in its own right for HD broadcast production.”

The PMW-200 also offers a powerful Slow & Quick motion function which allows capture at 1 fps to 60 fps in 720p mode, and from 1 fps to 30 fps in 1080p mode, giving users real creative flexibility. An immediate playback function enables operators to view their shots rapidly and easily, without the use of external converters or processing on non-linear editing systems.

The PMW-200 is armed with a 14x zoom lens equipped with 3 independent rings for zoom, focus and iris adjustment, plus greater precision through indications of ring positions on the LCD screen. This provides users with a high level of operational comfort and control. Focusing on subjects and reviewing recorded footage is made easy with the full-colour 3.5-inch WVGA (852×480) LCD panel. The PMW-200 also comes with an invaluable 15 second cache recording feature, a function unique among handheld camcorders. It can use its internal memory to capture images, even before the recording button is pressed (maximum of 15 seconds), allowing users to record important moments that would have otherwise been missed.

Genlock and timecode interfaces on the PMW-200 make it a breeze for use in multi-camera operations and entry-level HD studio applications. The camcorder also affords users greater flexibility over recording media, operating with Sony’s professional SxS technology as well as other media such as SD, Memory Stick and XQD cards (adaptor required). A Wi-Fi remote control (adaptor required) for the PMW-200 enhances flexibility for studio or on-location use.

The PMW-200 is the ideal solution for a wide range of applications from broadcast programme making to corporate video and event production.

The PMW-200 camcorder is scheduled to be available from mid-September onwards. The Wi-Fi remote control function for the PMW-200 is scheduled to be available by December 2012 with a free firmware upgrade.

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“You will not be disappointed”…”One day to go”

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

One of the best time-lapse videos you will ever see

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View from the ISS at Night from Knate Myers on Vimeo.

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Fantastic “Dare you not to watch this video”

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

Further evidence of LED light damaging your eyes (UPDATE)

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New evidence has just come to light that simple domestic LED lighting can cause retinal damage in mice, this is not surprising as I have already blogged about LED light damage in the past.

It’s not the frequency of the light but the intensity, I have on occasions been setting up an LED light for studio use and looked into the rows of lights for a millisecond and had an after image for at least 5 minutes which is not good.

Our business is awash with hi-brightness LED lighting which is far more damaging than the domestic LED lighting that affected mice.

Extract fron Life Science Journal


The present data clearly demonstrated irradiation of the white LED is above 400 nm and is not within the ultraviolet light region. However, the exposure of eye in LED illuminated environment was related to the development of photoreceptor loss. It must be noted that the light illuminations used in the present study as an experimental tool were not fully similar to normal condition that which would impinge upon the retina.

The evidence is now mounting but there are steps you can take to limit the damage.

1. You “MUST” at all times diffuse your LED lights unless you are bouncing the light and only if the light is out of direct line of sight i.e. a ceiling.

2. Cut down the brightness by using dimmable LED lights.

3. Do NOT point any video LED light at anyone at any time without a soft box or diffusion.

I love LED lights and use them all the time but as you can see by my example I always diffuse my LED lights especially the ones in front of the presenter (red line).

LED lights are a great asset to any video kit but the evidence is now growing that they are dangerous to the human eye if exposed over a period of time especially without diffusion.

All LED video light manufacturers should supply LED lights with diffusion built in, the only good thing is that LED lights are heat free so attaching a scrim, diffusion is easy and you can use simple plastic pegs or bull clips.

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Sony’s “Next big thing” advert

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Sony have been dumping hints on various web sites, Facebook etc all week and seen in this context on the USA site I would guess a 4K monitor but a camera would be useful as the PMW-100 has been less than a big time seller.

I hope we get 50Mbps camcorders fit for purpose like an EX5 or F5, why Sony never gave the F3 a 50Mbps back end only served to give Canon a head start with their C300.

So lets see what Sony have to offer on Thursday and lets hope its worth blogging about.

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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.

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