IBC kicks off in 5 days time

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This years IBC is possibly the most anticipated video show for a long time as we await the price and availability of the Panasonic AF101 and a similar version form Sony. The Panasonic AF101 is the HDSLR killer and shares the same sensor as the Panasonic GH1 prosumer HDSLR. A tentative price for the AF101 will be £4000…that’s £400 cheaper than a Canon EOS 1d Mk4.

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

Panasonic AG-AF101 £4000 quoted from HD Magazine IBC 2010

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£4000 is the price quoted by HD Magazine for the new AG-AF101 to be officially launched at IBC 2010. Now if this price is correct we are going to see an influx of DPs ordering this camcorder. The AF101 is due out during December 2010 but will be available in small quantities at first.

I have been bleating on about this camcorder for over a month now but it’s no secret that Scarlet has been put on the back burner knowing this camcorder is on it’s way to spoil the party.

There will also be an important announcement from Sony Broadcast from IBC about their FilmLike camcorder and I hope at least one of these professional models has 50Mbs or more though once again you can attach a NanoFlash via the HD SDI connector.

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

BBC Approved HD Cameras

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Just in case you get a call from the BBC you may like to know the approved HD camcorder list as from September 2010. You may notice the lack of Sony EX3 or PMW-350 camcorders even although the EX3 is widely used by the BBC for filming HD material at 35Mbs I may add.

You can use the EX3 or PMW-350 if you use a NanoFlash running at 50Mbs taking the signal from the HD-SDI connector. Personally the BBC should get it’s act together times are moving on and fast it’s all very commendable to have a pretend blanket ban on anything less than 50Mbs but it’s now creeping out like a bad smell that a few programmes have been made using the Canon 5DMk11 like “Shelf Stackers”. Independent cameramen are getting a little cheesed off not knowing what to buy as far as HD is concerned, Sky are now using P2 but very few independent cameramen work for Sky regularly to justify the £20,000 for an “Approved” P2 camcorder.

I am telling all my DP colleagues to hang fire, the PMW-350 is actually better by all accounts than the PDW 700 but good old Sony decided to stick with 35Mbs restricting it’s use unless you attach a NanoFlash, but the BBC have no indication for using EX3, EX1R, PMW-350 with a NanoFlash…YET !

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BBC are now having second thoughts on HDSLRs for broadcast

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This has come from the very top in my opinion, Danielle Nagler, Head of BBC HD has put the lid on this story due to it’s detrimental effect it was having on the BBC as an organisation. HD Magazine has been asked by the BBC to pull a story about the BBC accepting HDSLR’s for broadcast…the plot thickens.

Extract from HD Magazine…
“Following our story on the use of the Canon 5D Mk2 on a BBC drama – transmitted on September 16, 9.00pm BBC 4 – we got a call from the BBC Technology department today asking us to emphasize that DSLRs were not on the approved camera list for the BBC but were being looked at for use on a ‘case by case’ basis.

Ian Potts who is an Executive Producer at the BBC and part of the approval process explained the BBC’s approach to these new cameras: “Cameras like the 5D and the 7D are going through our R&D departments and our simulations but at the moment they are not cleared for use mainly because of their aliasing issues. Moire patterns are also a concern but these aren’t new and cameras like the Arri D20 and D21 also show them. But the fact that the 5D produces a 22 megapixel image then brings that down to 2 for video without the necessary processing and filtering does concern us but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

“The images are very clean from the programme and it has passed our ‘tech test’. I’m just about to see it and will probably give it my approval as well. But it still has to go through our transmission chain and might not make it on to our HD channel.

“We are very interested in this camera and have taken the view to approach all requests to use the Canon DSLR’s on a case by case basis which means production have to send in camera tests without any grading and post route tests with grading. If we then felt the picture quality met the required HD standards we might agree to allowing the DSLR as the prime camera. This is how we approached ‘Coronation St’ and it was very touch and go as the early tests revealed unacceptable aliasing, but after much bouncing back of SR tapes between Manchester and TVC which ran into the first days of the shoot we found a camera setting that seemed to work. On this basis we gave them approval to use the 5D but reserved the right not to show the film on the HD channel if it fell short of BBC HD’s standards.

“To confirm the show has passed tech review and will tx on the 16th Sept 21.00 BBC 4 & BBC HD”.

There was a screening of the programme at BAFTA in London last night and a Q&A with the production team followed. All were pleased with the look but as the projection was from an uncompressed master judgement will be reserved until the TX date. Interestingly when Ian mentioned to the producer of the show that the camera wasn’t yet approved she was quite shocked.

Ian went on to say that at the moment the BBC is in the process of a massive tendering project to approve new HD cameras for use at the corporation and anything less than 50mb/s data rate is being looked at unfavourably. Results from the tender should be published next month.”

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BBC4 uses a Canon 5DMk11 on a very low budget drama.

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Picture © HD Magazine

Excerpts from HD Magazine

DP Tim Palmer “Going in to the meeting for this drama I knew it was very low budget , it was BBC4 so they wouldn’t have any money for anything but at the same time it was a period film and they would want to have a very sumptuous look to it. Having had experience of the 5D and having been a stills photographer in my early days I knew that the camera could deliver better than cinema quality pictures better than a cheap broadcast video camera.

Obviously the BBC were very unwilling to sign off on something like that because it wasn’t on their approved list and initially they were saying that for an HD programme they could only support 25% of the programme shot on a non ‘so called’ HD camera.

We shot a lot of tests which looked wonderful but the engineers at the BBC were saying that there was aliasing and moiré patterns that would make them fail the use of the camera for HD broadcast.

The head of technology at the BBC, Ian Potts, who was very supportive in our early days saying ‘You have these technical issues that would fail our broadcast tests but it’s very interesting what you’re doing and please do some more tests because we’d love to see what you do’. After seeing the four day’s worth of rushes he was so completely smitten with it and said it was some of the best material they’d ever had, ‘finish the film on it’. It went from nought to 60 in half a second.”

Avoid fast pans over vertical objects but in practice when you’re filming actors and actors are moving around and you’re following their faces you don’t notice it really. There might be a bit of skewing on a lamp post on the edge of frame. If you’re watching a good story and it’s looking good you don’t think about it.”

HDW : I love the intro to this story “I knew it was very low budget” no surprise there then that BBC 4 decided to allow Tim to use his 5DMk11. It’s a joke these cameras are not fit for purpose and low to no budget BBC dramas are being shot with sub standard equipment. The BBC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this.

The Sony 750 plus 35mm adapter and a hired box of prime lenses is the BBCs preferred way of producing period drama, I was involved myself only last December with the BBC and DP Graham Smith used the 750, 35mm adapter and prime lenses.

Don’t get me wrong the 750 plus accessories is cumbersome to say the least but it’s the correct way as for now to produce shallow depth of field FilmLike pictures for the BBC.

It’s all dictated by budget or should I say lack of budget…IF THEY DON’T HAVE THE MONEY THEN DON’T COMPROMISE THE PRODUCTION. Cheap skate productions are not part of the BBCs remit and I for one are alarmed that BBC NO BUDGET 4 is allowed to get away with this decision.

Can I point BBC NO BUDGET 4 to IBC less that 12 days away and to Panasonic debuting the AG-AF101 FilmLike 4/3″ camcorder…THIS IS AT LEAST FIT FOR PURPOSE AND WILL DO EVERYTHING THE 5DMk11 CAN DO EXCEPT BETTER !

It’s all about working for next to nothing these days so production values suffer time and time again…this one camcorder from Panasonic will at least start to address the balance and bring back some sense to this HDSLR madness.

It does not matter how much meccano you put in front of an HDSLR they are fraught with serious problems which over the last 15 months or so have NOT been addressed by Canon or Nikon…WHY…because they refuse to compromise the number one feature of this camera and that is to take photographs…I rest my case.

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My Memory reduce Transend 16G Class 10 to £22…BUY…BUY…BUY

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Work for nothing…I need the experience…looks good on the CV

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Now while I think it is great that media has been acknowledged by the colleges and universities, there is a big, big, BIG problem afoot within the industries. I get a lot of emails from students asking me about how to get started in camerawork etc so I know that such people read this site a lot.

The industry is being destroyed. Literally. It is being eaten from within by a gigantic maggot that won’t stop eating until every last morsel has been devoured.

Recently I was told of someone in broadcast whose day rate had been slashed from £300 a day to £80 a day. Now for many media students the idea that someone who does camerawork can get paid between £300 and £600 a day is very enticing. A lot of people think it is a way to become rich. Still others, the ones who are causing the present destruction of the industry think that they can be clever and start charging far less, or doing the work for free.

Let me tell you guys about the £500 average day rate. You might not work every day of the week. Hell on a slow month it might be your only days work! Not sounding so bloody great now is it? Even if you worked most days of the week, that money still has to account for a pot that contains business expenses such as insurance, electricity bills, phone bills etc. It also has to account for any new equipment that is needed. As well as this it has to account for days when you aren’t working, unpaid time basically.

When all the maths are done £500 a day is roughly what you need to keep your business running and to be comfortable. NOT rich. Please also take into account that camerawork is a very highly skilled profession. With that in mind it isn’t a huge amount of money at all. Many camera guys these days are barely breaking even.

This problem is made far, far worse by the sheer number of media students leaving university and being quite willing to work for free or for very low rates just to get their foot in the door. The trouble is this. The employers know that there is a constant stream of shmucks every year who will work for bread and water. Think you have a future in the industry? Think again. You’ve just helped to destroy your own career. Next year there will be more students coming out of Uni who will be hired instead of you because they, like you in the year before, will be willing to work for nothing.

When mainstream broadcast television sinks to the level of offering a budget for four hour long documentary programmes of £2,225 each, there is one hell of a serious problem. Possibly an irreversible one.

The dilution of budgets and advertisers across so many television channels hasn’t helped matters. But low ballers have made an already bad issue a lot worse. You aren’t being clever by offering really low rates. You are killing your own prospects for the future.

HDW : I came against this problem years ago when I filmed in the lucrative quality end of the wedding video market place, the cheap-skaters as I called them, the one’s too frightened to up their prices so they produced quantity rather than quality.

Joe Public don’t care how much your camcorder cost as long as you give them pictures and sound so this ethic snakes it’s way along the wedding video marketplace giving the lower end a bad name and crap prices… £80 for one days filming and one days poor editing. You get what you pay for.

I was charging £900 for our basic package seven years ago when many of my so called competitors were charging £250 for a heap of junk. I dispare that we have HDSLRs filming weddings today not because they produce lesser pictures but more the fact that it’s an open door for anyone with such a basic piece of equipment to pretend they are professional and charge for their work !

The broadcasters will always chance their arms, budgets have been slashed and so have their commissioning power but if I were told to produce four one hour long documentaries for £2,225 each I would tell them to stick their budget up their jacksie and bad mouth them on the internet…only by whistle-blowing on these cowboy broadcasters will sense finally prevail or will it…remember the hard up media student would be only to glad to earn £8,900 to see his/her work on telly and add the experience to his/her CV !

Simon you are giving sound advice but sadly those of us who have worked up the ranks are a minority to the masses of students looking for jobs and work experience, they have spent at least 3 years being kidded by their college or university that this will lead to a job at the end of it knowing all to well that less than 5% per year stand a chance of getting work in the so called “media industry”. They have also started courses on HDSLRs… for what ?…because it’s fashionable not because it’s anything like practical.

In fact there’s a great documentary… someone should follow 10 media students from 10 parts of the UK for 4 years and see who gets a job at the end of their course in mainstream broadcasting !

You can catch Simon here at : http://www.simonwyndham.co.uk

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Sony shows off the NEX-VG10 the 1st in a long line of FilmLike camcorders

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This video demonstrates the new Sony NEX-VG10 in action. These shots of Bali are filmed with the new camera, which is the worlds first interchangeable lens consumer HD camcorder. Find out more about it on our blog: http://tinyurl.com/33mygnu

As you can see “Pretty Pictures” can be produced by all sorts of cameras albeit an HDSLR or as in this case a FilmLike camcorder. Personally I find the quality of these pictures as good as anything produced by an HDSLR.

Remembering this is number one…domestic… FilmLike camcorder… even so it’s full feature set stands a mile above any HDSLR and you can convert it for 24p if that’s your bag or in most cases your beef. Like the Canon 5D2 it may also benefit by having a firmware upgrade to 24p, who knows.

Things are really buzzing thanks to Sony and Panasonic addressing the issues of shallow depth of field camcorders. In 15 days time Panasonic are going to announce the prices for the AF100 professional FilmLike camcorder and Sony are going to show off a version 2 of their camcorder with possibly prices and dates.

I find it hilarious when I get emails from disgruntled HDSLR users when their anger should be addressed at Canon or Nikon for not fixing the inherent problems that make these cameras less than favourable with professionals in fact let me quote one of the top men in the HDSLR field, Philip Bloom “Now we also know these cameras have some massive limitations. Sound recording in cameras sucks more than Telly Savalas sucked on his lolly. Moire and aliasing give me night sweats. Rolling shutter makes me nauseous. Crappy HDMI connections have driven me to hard drugs (joking!). H264 will make me go postal one day!! There are more issues but no point going over all of them, we know them, we live with them, we work around them. That is life. Always has been and always will be.” (Extracted from The future of video DSLRs by Philip Bloom)

I think the future is bright for those of us who wish to produce FilmLike (FL) video footage there is such a choice though my money is on the FL camcorder, lots of budgets from students to production houses, though I do think the 35mm adapters are on a shaky nail.

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

AVID Media Composer 5

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Once again Avid have jumped ahead of Apple with their new updated Media Composer 5. Avid are looking to steal back some FCP editors with their new updated editing software. CS5 Premiere Pro is also tempting FCP users so my advice for Apple is “GET YOU FINGER OUT” !

What’s new

Directly access and edit RED files through AMA, without transcoding (images are scaled to HD frame size)

Work natively with QuickTime video formats, including Apple ProRes and H.264

Edit video and audio by dragging and dropping elements in the timeline

Keep high-end finishing projects in-house and gain great color precision with HD-RGB support (including dual-link I/O support with Nitris DX systems)

Monitor video externally with support for the Matrox MXO2 Mini

Mix and match frame sizes and aspect ratios — in addition to formats, frame rates, and resolutions — in the same timeline

Take a break during long renders and have your system email you when the job’s done

Import AVCHD files directly from cameras and other devices

Capture to and edit XDCAM HD and DVC PRO HD formats from baseband without additional hardware

Access low-res XDCAM proxies for offline work, with full-quality audio

Import text-based ancillary data and embed it in the video signal with the new “Data Track” and SMPTE 436M support using Nitris DX- and Mojo DX-based systems

View stereo audio tracks as single channels in the timeline for easier handling

Create high-quality sounds and mixes with support for RTAS audio processing plug-ins

Natively access and edit 4:2:2 MPEG-2 media from the new Canon cameras using AMA

Work Directly with RED Using the Newly Improved AMA

With Media Composer 5, AMA (Avid Media Access) has been completely reengineered, so you can work natively with more file-based media formats now and in the future. With the new and improved AMA, you can

speed up RED workflows by directly accessing RED files (.R3D) in Media Composer without having to prepare them through MetaFuze (all footage is scaled to HD frame size). Plus, you have access to its full meta data and color management data too.

Edit QuickTime Formats Natively

Get native access to all popular QuickTime formats, with full access to clip metadata. Thanks to AMA, you can natively access and edit any movie that can be played in Apple’s QuickTime Player (including Apple ProRes and .mov files captured by Canon 5D and 7D cameras) right in Media Composer — no transcoding, rewrapping, or logging and transferring required.

Drag and Drop Video and Audio to Edit

Get comfortable — with Media Composer 5, you can truly edit the way you like. In addition to the standard way of editing, you can also now directly manipulate elements in the timeline to edit video and audio. Drag and

drop clips anywhere you want on the timeline to rearrange sequences. And grab a clip’s in or out point and drag to trim a scene, dialog, or music.

Get Full-Quality HD-RGB Processing

Keep those finishing jobs in house, and deliver the highest quality color and effects work, with support for full-quality 4:4:4 HD-RGB color space processing in Media Composer. With the higher resolution detail, you can perform color correction, keying, and effects work with greater precision and ease. And if you have a Nitris DX-based system, you can digitize, process, monitor, and output projects in HD-RGB, using the two HD SDI connections to handle the high-bandwidth resolutions.” RGB i/o is in all Nitris DX products.

Monitor Video Externally through Matrox MXO2 Mini

If you don’t have a Nitris DX- or Mojo DX-based system, Media Composer 5 opens the door to third-party workflows, enabling you to monitor video externally using the Matrox MXO2 Mini interface, which is available for Mac and Windows systems. When paired with Media Composer software, MXO2 Mini becomes a dedicated, high-quality monitor-only solution for file-based or workgroup production, so you can view your video work in real time without any major expense.

HDW : I just noticed this on XDCAM-USER from Simon Wyndham

“I’m more than a little fed up with FCP of late. The amount of rendering needed for even simple things drives me up the wall. I tried the demo of Premiere CS5 and I liked it. I also tried the demo of Avid Media Composer 5. They have finally moved to the 21st century and now allow dragging and dropping of clips onto the timeline. What Avid doesn’t appear to have fixed though is the absolutely horrendous default multi monitor support and the fact that it keeps crashing every two seconds.

I’ll wait a little longer to see what Apple do.”

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My Memory is a RECOMMENDED web site for SDHC cards

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You can shop here  http://www.mymemory.co.uk/

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