The Sony HXR-MC50 “Causing a stir” £1300

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HDW : Over the last week I have had 3 companies phone me to see if I am reviewing the new Sony MC50 which came as a surprise to me, they all want to see the camcorder and one person is looking to but 2 of them ! Needless to say when I get my hands on an MC50 I will give it a thorough testing. I think it will sit neatly as a good second camcorder for the EX/NX range…time will tell.

Wide Angle G-Lens
Experience Sony’s latest lens technology with the professional-quality G Lens. Engineered for superior optical performance, Sony G lenses deliver brilliant, accurate colour reproduction and sharp, amazingly detailed images. In addition, the 29.8mm lens offers a very wide angle of view. The six bladed iris offers superb shallow depth of field videography.

10x Optical / 120x Digital Zoom
10x optical zoom helps to bring the action close up from far away. In addition, Digital Zoom Interpolation means that digital zooming (up to 120x) is clearer, with less distortion than previous types of digital zoom.

Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilisation with Active Mode
SteadyShot image stabilisation with Active Mode represents the next step forward in Sony image stabilisation technology. Active Mode improves on existing SteadyShot image stabilisation by allowing the camera to compensate for greater degrees of camera shake and deliver a stunning level of image smoothness.

1/2.88″ Back-Illuminated “Exmor R” CMOS Sensor
Experience low-light sensitivity with improved image clarity and drastically reduced grain with the back-illuminated “Exmor R” sensor. “Exmor R” technology captures footage with high resolution and high sensitivity, while the advanced Sony BIONZ Image Processor improves camera response time and screens out noise to help ensure that the signal from each pixel is as pure as possible.

BIONZ Image Processor
The BIONZ Image Processor works in conjunction with the Exmor CMOS sensor with ClearVid array for pristine imaging. The BIONZ Image Processor provides Data Noise Reduction, Fast Image processing, and Data compression. In addition, the BIONZ Image Processor enables Sony’s Dynamic Range Optimiser for both video and still image capture. The higher processing speed also allows Dual Recording to capture still images while recording video footage.

Dynamic Range Optimiser
The D-Range (Dynamic Range) Optimiser function adjusts the exposure and contrast of an image to counter the effects of high-contrast shooting condition, allowing better picture reproduction. The D-Range Optimiser suppresses “blackout” in dark areas such as shadows and “whiteout” in bright areas such as skies. As a result, the footage appears more natural.

1920 x 1080 Full High Definition AVCHD Recording
1920 x 1080i FULL HD resolution gives your production exceptional high definition quality

64GB Internal Flash Memory
The built-in 64GB embedded flash memory can record and store up to 6 hours of high definition video footage (HD FX mode at 24Mbps), or up to 48 hours of standard definition footage (SD HQ mode).

Media Card Slot
The camcorder accepts a wide range of removeable media including: Memory Stick Duo / Memory Stick PRO Duo / Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo media and SD/SDHC media (optional)

3.5″ Wide Xtra Fine TruBlack LCD Plus Viewfinder
TruBlack technology brings remarkably higher contrast and brightness to the camcorder’s 3.5″ Wide Xtra Fine TruBlack LCD display, delivering more natural, realistic colours and easier viewing in bright conditions by reducing glare. An adjustable 0.27″ colour viewfinder (201k) allows you to capture video and frame your shots with the LCD closed.

Assignable Dial
Get the most out of your camcorder with enhanced manual controls. The assignable dial allows for control of focus, exposure, white balance, iris, and shutter speed. Adjusting the iris lets you control depth of field, while shutter speed allows for control motion blur. There are a total of 6 settings available: Focus, Exposure, AE Shift, WB Shift, Iris control, and Shutter speed control.

Geotagging with Built-In GPS Receiver and NAVTEQ Maps
A built-in GPS receiver gives you the ability to view your current location on the LCD map display, as well as “tag” your shooting locations with GPS metadata. This metadata can be viewed using the Map Index function on the camcorder or once downloaded to your PC using the supplied PMB (Picture Motion Browser) software. Additionally, the receiver automatically adjusts your camcorder’s clock to the proper time zone.

Dedicated Shotgun Microphone and Headphone Inputs
The HXR-MC50E offers a supplied professional shotgun microphone and mount which coupled with the headphone input allows acquisition and monitoring of location sound. (Headphones not supplied)

Golf Shot
Building on the slow-motion capture capabilities of Smooth Slow Record on models such as the HVR-Z5E and Z7E, Golf Shot captures a few seconds of motion as a sequence of up to 22 still images, which can be viewed/printed individually or as a composite “sequence shot” image, great for analysing the nuances of a golf swing, tennis serve, and other fast action for sports science teaching and sports tutoring applications.

2x Faster Quick AF
With the improved autofocus (AF) system, Quick AF, the focusing speed is twice as fast compared to other Sony compact camcorders. Whether in bright daylight or in a dimly lit environment, Quick AF ensures fast, accurate, and consistent focus lock, enabling users to shoot in a wide range of scenes without missing any important moments. When shooting night scenes, conventional AF might struggle to focus, but thanks to the much improved AF algorithm in Quick AF, you can get that all important shot.

Intelligent Auto (10 iAuto modes)
Intelligent Auto mode goes a step beyond traditional auto modes by analysing your shot and then automatically selecting the appropriate settings from ten distinct scene modes: Portrait Mode, Smile Shutter, Backlight Control, Scenery, Night Scenery Mode, High Sensitivity Mode, Macro Mode, Baby Mode, Tripod, and Low Light Mode ideal for corporate or video diary applications where non-camera operators are shooting.

Film Roll Index
Film Roll Index helps you easily find desired clips. When using this feature, the camcorder previews the beginning of clips and can create clip indexes set at specified display intervals (3, 6, or 12 seconds and 1 or 5 minutes)

Direct Copy to External HDD without a PC
Store your content in a whole new way with the ability to copy content from your camcorder directly to an external hard disk drive (optional), all without a pc or mac. Your camcorder can also access content stored on the external hard drive for playback on an HDMI monitor or consumer TV, allowing you to use the camcorder’s handy playback features, great for viewing full HD rushes.

Smooth Slow Record
The Smooth Slow Record mode increases the frame rate from 50 frames per second (fps) to 200 fps, allowing you to capture 3 seconds of fast motion and play the video back in 12 seconds. This is a great tool for analysing a golf swing or a natural history applications.

12MP Digital Still Capture
12 megapixel still image capture lets you take stunning, high resolution digital photos while the Dual record capability lets you capture 8.3MP still images while shooting high definition video – so you can capture still images without having to switch recording modes.

Sony PMB (Picture Motion Browser) Software
Sony Picture Motion Browser software offers a simple, intuitive way to transfer, sort, and view your video and still images on your compatible PC. In addition, multiple output options let you burn your content to DVD (optional), as well as being able to upload your rushes with just one click to popular video sharing sites.

Additional Creative Control and Workflow Features
HDMI output
Power on by simply opening the camera’s LCD display
USB 2.0 provides an easy connection between your camcorder and PC for fast transfer into your NLE
Record and zoom controls on LCD for more control and flexibility, especially for overhead or low angle shots
Dolby Digital stereo recording with built-in zoom mic focuses on subject for clear dialogue and crisp, discrete sounds

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

SONY EX-1 “Don’t just rely on the camcorder audio if your sound is important”

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Last weekend we filmed a band performing at Brodick Hall, Isle of Arran, using two cameras, one being our Sony EX-1, which had a direct feed from the sound desk.

The output from the desk could hardly be described as “Line Level” since with the camera input set to ‘Line’ the on board control had to be set full-up to 10 to register a half-decent level. With the microphone input level set to -41dB, I got a more realistic signal, however, anticipating concert sound levels increasing during the course of the evening, I calibrated the input as low as it would go (-65dB). The concert got under way with full audio modulation at a midway setting of 5 on the camera, so everything seemed spot on, although neither my trusty old headphones nor my ears can cope with excessive acoustic levels these days, so I was relying on visual monitoring of sound levels. By the end of the night, this had never wavered, so seemed fine, although I was shocked to note that towards the end, the signal appeared very highly compressed. That should have alerted me to a potential problem.

Imagine my disappointment upon discovering that as the audio level was increased (perhaps 20dB) during the course of the concert, my recording had become more and more clipped due to overloading the input. However, at no time did the viewfinder monitor reach the red markers, because the input level had clearly been close to clipping from the start. Luckily I had backup from three microphones, so all was not lost, but this was a preventable problem.

I have since invested in some excellent noise-cancelling headphones (only £40 from Lindy) and will stick to the real ‘Line’ input for similar projects from now on, even if this means whacking up the gain on the camera. As for my ears, I’ve lived with them for nearly 59 years, so they’ll have to do.

HDW : It is important when recording live audio from a sound desk to record a back-up onto an audio recorder like a Tascam  DR100 which records onto SDHC cards, that way if your camcorder gives you a bum recording as happened to Chris you have a clean back-up.

When I film the odd theatre production I always use a solid state audio recorder to back-up my sound, most sound technicians will give you a clean feed out of their mixing desk but you have to be prepared to have a bag of gender changers ie. XLR male to XLR male. The obvious lead would be a 1/4″ jack to XLR as some older desks only give you 1/4″ jack outs.

It’s a bit like the Scouts “BE PREPARED” arrive with a professional attitude to the job and you won’t go wrong, another expression is “BELT AND BRACES”

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

BBC APPROVE Canon XF HD camcorders for Independent Productions

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According to the recently updated BBC HD Production Guide, the Canon XF300 (and 305) are approved for independent productions. These Canon’s are now the first 1/3″ chips allowed in HD shows, even though their guidelines require a minimum of 1/2″ sensors.  INFO

Colorimetric and Resolution requirements of cameras by Alan Roberts (BBC)

Tests and settings on a Canon XF300/305

Tests were made on a Canon XF305E, serial number 263050000050, after preliminary tests on a prototype model. The camera has 3 1/3” CMOS sensors and an integral lens. It records MPEG2-compressed video, but all the tests were made using the HDSDI output, captured uncompressed and analysed in software.
The 305 model has HDSDI output, can be genlocked, and has timecode connection, while the 300 has none of these connections. Both models are available in ‘E’ and ‘A’ versions, working at 50Hz and 59.94Hz respectively. A hardware upgrade can be installed in either to make the camera work at both rates, but tests were made only on an unmodified ‘E’ (50Hz, PAL) model. The distinction between models is obscure, and is apparent only on the makers label underneath the camera. Casual users would not be aware of these differences.
The camera weighs 2.65kg, which is fairly heavy for a small-format camera. The built-in lens has 18:1 zoom range from 4.1mm to 73.8mm focal length (equivalent to 29.3 to 527mm in a full-frame 35mm camera). The sensors are CMOS, full-resolution 1920×1080. Recording is onto Compact Flash card (two slots) in MPEG- 2, long-GoP, with MXF file format. Three bit rate options are available: 50Mb/s CBR (constant bit rate) at 4:2:2 colour sampling (1920×1080 or 1280×720), 35Mb/s 4:2:0 VBR (1920×1080 or 1280×720) and 25Mb/s 4:2:0 CBR (1440×1080 only). Thus it complies with broadcast requirements for bit rate and offers more economic rates for greater economy. At these rates, a 64GB card can record 160, 225 and 310 minutes respectively. In 1080 mode, both interlaced and progressive modes are available. Off-speed recording at fixed speeds from 12 to 60fps is possible.
There is a conventional viewfinder (approximately 1650×935 pixels), plus a separate LCD screen (approximately 1480×830 pixels) front mounted, which can be swung out to either side of the camera. Both displays are adequate for focusing.
There are neutral filters for exposure control, and manual control of the lens. Sensitivity is rather good, although it is specified in an obscure way. On-screen video level monitoring is good, there are options for both waveform monitoring and vectorscope. There is an image magnifier as a focus aid.
Connectivity is good, with HDSDI and timecode (only in the 305 model), plus HDMI and USB, analogue component, BNC analogue video, 3.5mm multifunction jack socket and XLRs for audio. Power consumption is about 9 watts at 7.2 volts. The camera performed well under test.

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

2010 the year of the great 3D test

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Ripples from ESPN’s decision to launch a new 3-D sports network are being felt in the U.S. production community. The most recent evidence is last week’s announcement by NEP Broadcasting that it was rolling out two new 3-D production trucks this month. They will make their debut providing production services for ESPN 3D’s coverage of the State Farm Home Run Derby July 12 from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA.

NEP’s SS31 is a revamp of the mobile production truck the production services company cut its 3-D teeth on. SS32 is a new 3-D vehicle. Both are built for 3-D production and will give NEP a strong presence in this emerging slice of the mobile production market.

According to George Hoover, chief technology officer of NEP, 2010 will prove to be the “year of the great 3-D test” a period when everyone from viewers to CE vendors, TV programmers to broadcast service providers learn if 3-D TV enjoys success similar to what 3-D films have found in the theater.

In this podcast interview, Hoover discusses the new vehicles, the thinking behind the trucks, the challenge of finding engineering and production talent for 3-D work and where live 3-D television production may be headed.

From Broadcast Engineering 2010

HDW : I will agree on one thing there is a lot more interest in 3D this year but thats mainly due to the advertising of Sony, Panasonic and Samsung and the demonstration of such televisions in stores like Comet, Curries etc.

I am still of the opinion that the £100 per pair electronic 3D glasses are fine for a demonstration but would become a bind if you had to sit and watch every 3D HD movie with them on.

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

SONY future proofs new DWX digital wireless audio range

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Easing the upgrade path for the frequency switchover in 2012, Sony today announced that all of its digital wireless microphone systems (DWX) will now be sold with modification packages in order to safeguard audio investments in the run up to channel 38 switch-over. In addition to this an optional upgrade path will be made available on Sony’s WL series analogue wireless microphones.

This announcement coincides with the launch of two new products in the DWX range of digital wireless audio solutions. The DWR-R01D dual-channel rackmount receiver and DWM-01 integrated handheld microphones enhance the DWX range and are designed for studio and venue installations. The modifications to channel 38 will be available to be performed from early 2011 via Sony’s PrimeSupport team.

Mark Bainbridge, General Manager, Sony Media and Broadcast explained how Sony’s digital upgrade path will make a difference to the audio industry: “With the switchover looming the audio market is currently going through a period of considerable uncertainty with many customers unsure of the best time to switch to digital and reluctant to invest in technology which may soon become redundant. Sony’s modification package seeks to address buyer uncertainty in the channel and ensure that customers can continue to invest in the latest digital technology safe in the knowledge that their kit will deliver high quality digital audio over the next two years and beyond.”

Over the next 18 months, broadcasters, venues and events companies will need to upgrade their analogue audio infrastructure in preparation for the shift to channel 38. Rob France, Sony Audio Product Manager explained what advantages we can expect: “There are distinct advantages to digital wireless audio, a superior sound quality can be delivered and the channel capacity in an 8MHz band is increased by up to 60%. Transmitters can be remotely controlled from receivers, enabling remote changes to transmission frequency and more flexible power management. In addition to this encryption technology will increase security on audio transmissions.”

Sony’s new DMX digital wireless microphone products are now available for purchase. Equipped with Sony’s WiDIF-HP codec, the DMX range unites the subtlety of analogue with the advantages of an all-digital architecture.

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

Blogging from Larry Jordan

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Larry Jordan “When I first got started in this editing business,” he said creaking back and forth in his rocking chair, “editing video took a minimum of two quarter-million dollar videotape recorders – plus a control room – a lot of patience and some blind luck.”

Today just blew the doors off what we used to consider “editing systems.” Let me start with an email I got this evening from Tony Liuzzi:

I have been using for at least six months. It works great. With that as background, here’s my story.

I was flying from New York to San Francisco recently, and said, “why not try using LogMeIn from an airplane at 35,000 feet and see how it behaves?” I had purchased an internet connection on my flight — the cost was discounted since I was a first-time user.

I checked my email and read that my client had a revision to be made on a current Final Cut Pro project. So, I said, what the heck? Let’s see.

I logged into my edit system and discovered I had great response/control from the flight. As good as I had when I am connected on land. I was amazed!

I made the changes to the project and exported the file. It went from Final Cut Pro to Squeeze, all controlled from my flight. Then, I opened up Transmit to send the newly compressed file to their FTP site for approval.

Now, here is where the story gets even funnier. I sent an email to the client telling her I was making the changes right now — but NOT that I was on a plane. She reviewed and approved the changes — all before I landed.

It was a VERY cool moment. And I thought you’d enjoy the story.

Larry replies: This whole idea of remote computer control totally changes what we consider an editing system. Is it the computer doing the editing or the computer CONTROLLING the computer doing the editing.

These lines got even more blurred this morning, when Steve Jobs showcased the new iPhone 4 running iMOVIE!


What made this even funnier for me was that Tom Tomchak ran an April Fools Day press release talking about porting Final Cut Pro to the iPhone. At the time, it made for very funny reading. Who knew that he was actually able to see the future? He wasn’t being preposterous, he was being prescient!

The editing community is already starting to take sides on this new $4.99 software. But I think some of the discussion misses the point.

Tens of millions of people will have access to simple equipment to shoot 720p30 HD video. Using the latest version of iMovie for the iPhone, they can edit it in their phone. Then, imagine that when they connect their phone to the computer, that iMovie file transfers over in a format that’s readable by iMovie on the Mac.

At which point, it is only a mouse-click to send that edited file via XML to Final Cut Pro for final polish.

The mind reels — I was blown away when I realized a few years ago that I had more editing power in my laptop than I did in a multi-million dollar post-production suite 20 years ago.

Now, that power is migrating to cell phones!

The key for us is not to run away from this new technology, but to realize that there are about to be millions of new customers than can use our expertise and experience to make their movies look even better. At the end of the day, it isn’t the tools, but the people using the tools that make the difference.

As another email today emphasized: “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” (Actually, I’m beginning to think we aren’t even on the same planet.)

Strange times, indeed!


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

iPhone 4 records in HD “Wasted by a very bad rolling shutter”

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Why oh why do people like Apple bother to add HD recording to the iPhone 4 when it’s clearly unusable. I had my iPhone 4 with me today and recorded some fun at my niece’s house… got back to base and loaded the one minute of footage onto my iMac. I was horrified to say the least to discover how wobbly the footage was.

I looked back at non HD iPhone 3Gs footage I recorded last year in Italy and it’s night and day. It’s obvious that the 720P enlargement has also magnified the rolling shutter and general jello effect making 80% of anything I would have considered filming…even for fun unusable.

Apple Wobble Vision would be a better name for it…I do not understand how this got passed Apples quality control but then for a £600 handset to suffer aerial problems at this late stage maybe Apple are not as careful as they once were…and that’s a shame !

Don’t waist your time using the iPhone 4 for HD filming…If you want a real tip for filming fun HD footage get yourself a Sony DSC-HX-5V costing under £300… do all your HD filming on this camera and it’s AVCHD…No Jello, slight rolling shutter, half the price of an iPhone 4…look at my mini review under VIDEO REVIEWS…OK it’s not a phone but it’s 20x better at producing HD footage and it fits in your pocket.

Anyway just because I can’t get good pictures out of my iPhone 4… I received this link from Arran Eye about a Vimeo member called Michael Koerbel, this is his iPhone4 movie…

“Apple of My Eye” – an iPhone 4 film – UPDATE: Behind the scenes footage included from Michael Koerbel on Vimeo.

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

ProPrompter now iOS4 Tested

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Finally the best APP for prompting has just been updated today and is iOS4 Tested. A bug was found that crashed the iPhone part of the system rendering it useless. I ran some tests early this morning and it now works fine.

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

RED v DSLR “Are RED focusing on the wrong cameras”

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Two days ago RED’s Founder Jim Jannard made the following statements…

“I fully expect the DSLR mfgs to get it right at some point. Make a non-line-skipping 4K camera. At that point, the difference will be RAW 5K and 6K vs. whatever they make. Until then, a line-skipping 1080P camera is just not in the running for a pro camera. Can you make OK images with a line-skipping 1080P camera? Sure. Should you be embarrassed? Yes. We are not in that business.

I saw the Canon commercial about shooting “motion stills”. They should be ashamed. Just try to take a still from their motion 1080P capture…

The only difference between us and the rest of the industry is that we are talking along the way. If we kept silent about the process and our targets, we would be just like the others. I now can understand why they do it like they do. But I still prefer to keep an open dialog.

As I understand it, Red will never go “head to head” with the DSLR market. It will be cutting it’s own path a few hundred miles up the road. Comparing a Red camera to a currently available Nikon or Canon is just plain… well… ludicrous.

Again… we have no intention to be the biggest camera company in the world… only the best”….Jim Jannard

HDW : Although I will never own a RED camera I am a big fan of RED because it’s the first camera manufacturer to keep everyone informed as to the development of it’s products, no other manufacturer has been this open with ongoing development of any products EVER…!

Only at NAB this year did the worst offenders open their tightly shut lids to reveal two film like camcorders in development, Panasonic and Sony. This was a first for both Japanese companies revealing products in advance of the statutory preliminary data sheet. Panasonic have revealed further details only last week and a proper picture of the up and coming AF100 camcorder.

Panasonic are coming round to the fact that the more snippets they show people the bigger the hype becomes and by sale time everyone wants an AF100 at £5000 (My price not Panasonic’s).

This is getting away from my original blog…I was never under any allusion that any DSLR could touch the quality the RED camera produces therefore the argument is a non starter, I do however think that RED should be targeting their anxieties at Panasonic and Sony who are about to enter the FilmLike marketplace with camcorders that are built for purpose unlike the DSLR.

Tools for the job…If you can’t afford any more than £2000 and want a Shallow Depth of Field (SDoF) then you have no option to go down the DSLR route. If you need a more professional camera but don’t have an endless pocket you are looking at the Panasonic or the Sony (late 2010). If on the other hand money is no object you have many choices including the RED cameras.

SDoF is a look…but you pay dearly with critical focusing and probably a lot more retakes than you would using a video camera. I think we are going to enter a new phase come December 2010 when Panasonic brings out the AF100, the main decider will be price, remember you will be buying a body only so that takes a good £1000 off the price but in my opinion Panasonic need to get the price below £5000 taking into account the large following and uptake of the DSLR at £1500 average prices.

Personally I believe the uptake of the DSLR is mainly due to two key points…Price and lenses. Price because everyone from media students upwards can afford them and if you were a keen photographer like me you already own the lenses. The majority of us have only seen DSLR footage on the net and lets be honest £300 cameras with 720P movie mode look good on the net.

The debate will rumble on DSLR v ?  Once we see more SDoF camcorders on the market place at keen price points the DSLR debate will diminish to the point that Canon will drop the “Movie” mode altogether and that will cause another internet rumpus…mark my words.

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

Video Review of the Sony PVM-740

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[xr_video id="2a6c7b2939b744a69b2c7dbc219f02f9" size="md"]

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

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