HyperDeck Shuttle “User Review” £263 (Updated)

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When I heard of the HyperDeck Shuttle (HDS) at the price point of £263 it was a no brainer when I was asked to review one. To explain the HyperDeck Shuttle gives you the quality of uncompressed recording direct to common SSDs (Solid State Drive) in the smallest possible size! HyperDeck Shuttle bypasses your camera’s compression and records from SDI and HDMI direct into the highest quality uncompressed video.

Although the unit has a mini USB 2 socket you have to format your SSD drive in a SATA dock not supplied and it must be erased as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) if you don’t use a Mac you will have to buy software for the PC like MacDrive which will set you back $49.

On paper or should I say screen the Shuttle looks quite small but in reality it’s a lot bigger and as yet has nothing to mount it on a camera, though as you read on I think Black Magic have good reasons for this.

This in my opinion is a specialised piece of kit and it’s not a coincedence that “It feels like a VTR” …although it has a 1 hour built in battery this unit is more suited to studio work.

The data rate alone at 10Gb per minute is astounding and if I tell you my first shot lasted 40 seconds and that equated to 6 Gbs on my hard drive. The 240Gb Vortex SSD that came with the Shuttle (Optional) would only last for 24 minutes, one point is that due to the lack of a screen the HDS gives you no indication on how much space you have filled.

 

What about the results, there is no doubt that at 10bit uncompressed 4:2:2 you are getting every ounce from your Sony FS100 via it’s HDMI socket (8bit).

So just who is this relativly inexpensive SSD deck aimed at, well I have had a lot of soul searching as firstly with a 1 hour inbuilt battery you are not going to get far out in the field with the HDS, there is a 12V input on the side but it’s not the standard 4 pin canon power connector.

The second and strangest decision in my opinion was to put non standard SDI sockets on the shuttle, these are seemingly standard on computer boards but in my opinion this is not aimed at that marketplace and should have had BNC connectors. Black Magic tell me that they are now selling a lead which converts from the smaller SDI to a standard BNC SDI.

There is a “Display” button but no one could tell me what it was for as there is no display on the unit itself unless it’s for a future re designed unit. The other thing that is missing is the ability to start and stop the Shuttle from your camera, competitors units give you 422 or Lanc control.

If you are using the Sony FS100 you will need the up to date firmware which is 1.01 otherwise like my HDS it would not work till I updated the FW.

As far as who this unit is aimed at well firstly if you are doing green screen work this unit is right down your street, anything that needs 10bit uncompressed 4:2:2 fantastic picture quality and at a price that won’t break the bank but remember SSD drives are averaging about £1 per Gb and even at 600Gbs this only gives you one hour of footage.

My honest opinion is that the HyperDeck Shuttle is a great bit of kit as long as you can justify the need for uncompressed footage, one hour = 600Gb of space. A word of warning if you take this into Final Cut Pro under ProRes 422 you won’t see any difference in picture quality.

Q. Would I buy one…Certainly if I was doing green/blue screen work and my camera did not record 4:2:2 but I see the unit as a small recorder sat near by your camera so you can switch it on and off then transferring the footage is as simple as drag and drop , once again from the SATA dock (Not supplied).

LIKES :

1. The price…at £263 this is a must for anyone producing HI-End video productions, mainly in a studio e.g.. Green/Blue screen work.

2. The picture quality is the best I have seen and I thought my Sony FS100 was fantastic till I saw the uncompressed pictures from the HD Shuttle.

3. The first manufacturer to give us both HDMI (full size) and SDI (non standard) though a cable is now avaliable from Black Magic Design.

4. Using off the shelf SSD drives gives you a choice rather than a dedicated unit.

5. Build quality, the buttons feel very positive, the unit is simple in design.

DISLIKES :

1. No LCD screen, not being able to tell how much drive space you have used is very limiting.

2. The non standard SDI sockets

3. Not being able to format the SSD drive via the HD Shuttle is a pain.

4. One hour internal battery is very limiting though there is a 12v input that a 3rd party manufacturer could utilise.

5. Does not accept 1080 50p output from a Sony FS100 or a Sony NX70.

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

New Sony HXR-NX3D1 Video Review coming soon

Categories: Miscellaneous 2 Comments

Having just arrived two days ago the Sony HXR-NX3D1 is a cracking hand held 3D camcorder with many professional features. I am not the biggest 3D fan in the world but I am looking at this camcorder from a business point of view.

This is almost an NX70 that has been squished, a second lens added and the viewfinder removed. It has a sexy 3D LCD which works remarkably well.

I filmed my dog outside the garden for a bit of fun and she brings me her plastic bone right up to the front of the camera. I showed the footage with glasses dually adorned to my mother and daughter in law and they both shrieked when the dogs head looks like it’s coming out of the 3D telly…fantastic !

We will be filming footage at the Edinburgh fringe next week which should be fun but I need a dry day for filming as unlike the NX70 the Sony 3D is not rainproof.

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

CVP “Camera Day” in Glasgow…Wednesday 24th August 2011

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This will be well attended so get your skates on and register here…

http://www.creativevideo.co.uk/index.php?t=events/19/

 

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

The pitfalls of working in Cable TV

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Well over 20 years ago I had the offer to work as an editor for the new local Cable TV station called Clyde Cable Vision. It was to be a great adventure and the start of what we now call multi-skilling.

The picture above is me doing sound with my friend to this day Ian the cameraman, we had such a laugh in those days and the best was the sheer snoby reactions we got with STV and BBC Scotland. They were intrenched in union nonsense and had far to many crew, director, camera, sound, lighting and reporter while we had camera, sound and reporter.

We were looked down upon as the amateurs in the big mans world of news coverage, we were in fact a threat to them as the “bean counters” (accountants) could see the same job being done by less people…5 jobs done by 3 people = less wages to pay.

This was not a deliberate ploy by our boss Joyce rather a more practicle outlook on the same job and Joyce had come from university TV and new how to work with less crew. As you can see above Joyce was not scared to get her hands dirty and join us on the coal face from time to time.

We had our own director, George who was also happy to lend a hand filming when needed, I still keep in touch with my good friend Jenny who was our presenter.

So why did the Glasgow Channel fail, apart from loosing me two years down the line it became obvious to those who new the inevatable by then that cable TV was in general a flop.

We targeted the less well off areas in Glasgow this was a major mistake from day one, thinking that people with more time on their hands would have time to sit and watch telly forgetting that if you have 3 children to pay for the last thing you are going to want is a monthly cable TV debt around your neck.

We gave people a starter incentive from memory it was 6 months for the price of 12, so as you can see on paper we had a lot of viewers signed up for 12 months but keeping them after this period proved very difficult.

The second disaster was the cabling itself, it was becoming a money monster, you can’t show cable TV unless you run the wiring up a street and that was becoming a financial nightmare.

I was not working for Clyde Cable TV when it finally sank into the River Clyde with a pile of debt round its neck but I was sad that many of my friends lost good jobs because of a bad idea that should have never started…in my opinion.

This brings me to August 2011 and the coverage produced by a small television station in Birmingham called Sangat TV. Although Sangat are a charity the main difference between Cable TV and Sangat is the hook up with Sky and having a channel on the Sky box itself. This gives Sangat a major advantage over cable TV because they can be seen all over the UK and beyond which gives them a fantastic viewing footprint.

The other key component to their recent viewing figures is Twitter, they were being re tweeted all over the place and Sky viewers were switching over to channel 847 in their hundreds to watch Sangat’s run and gun TV coverage.

We are so used to watching polished, perfect television these days…Sangat gave us a raw no frills version of events even although they seem to take the words “live” beyond its true meaning they opened a door only seen many years ago when TV was first introduced and we were all in awe of its “liveness”.

It was their ability to head into the middle of confrontations with rioters and police alike that had us sitting on the edge of our seats and the boyish honesty of the presenter who was making it clear that we are all “Jock Tamsons bairns” as we say in Scotland.

So there you have it, Cable TV by it’s name implies a cable to view it’s channels and cable trenching is mega expensive while it seems you can tag onto Sky for a minimal cost and get yourself seen all over the UK if not the world and with a prevailing riot or two in your patch along with Twitter the world is indeed your broadcasting empire.

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

Black Magic’s HyperDeck Shuttle “review coming soon”

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

The “Minority Report” a lesson for us all !

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A little known TV station has been projected world wide thanks to Twitter for their excellent so called “live coverage” of the riots in Birmingham.

Sangat TV is a registered charity, backed by gurdwaras from the UK and from other individuals. The channel is an open platform for the Sikh sangat to express their views independently. Programming includes educational material on the Sikh gurus and Guru Granth Sahib.

Wiki “Sangat TV came into prominence during the Birmingham Riots of August 2011. The station broadcast live from the streets of Birmingham on the second day of rioting in the city, Tuesday 9 August 2011, to provide accurate, live information and broadcasts. The channel’s coverage was used by Sky News and other national and international stations to show what was happening in the city”

It’s a rare picture indeed when in the middle of a live riot situation you get a British police riot officer shaking hands with the driver ( Mr Singh), this shows the respect Sangat and their crew are held within the Birmingham community.

People like the honesty and less polished production of Sangat against the two giants, Sky and the BBC, there is possably a lesson to be learned by the two major broadcasters.

Quote from Asian Image “What the Sangat TV team did prove however that maybe the traditional Indian method of getting a good story is most likely the best. To put it simply…get a camera…get your friend to drive and think about the consequences later.”

This ability to broadcast these events might not have happened had Sangat TV—normally a Sikh religious channel—not leased the LiveU units from Garland Partners. The station had intended to use the units to provide live coverage of a visit of a famous Sikh preacher. However, Sangat TV was contacted by a local councillor in the Handsworth area of Birmingham who wanted to warn the local community and help them work with the police.

Rather than having the councillor come to the studio, reporter Randher Singh took an LU60 unit with camera attached, and broadcast the councillor live using 3G connectivity from outside a local temple. From that point on, the station brought live pictures of the riots to Sky viewers that others simply could not, all due to their use of the LiveU technology.

 The LU60 is the industry’s first bonded 3G/4G LTE video-over-cellular uplink backpack with proprietary RF technology for superior resiliency, with up to 1080 HD video. The units—provided in the UK through LiveU’s partnership with Garland Partners—have been used to broadcast numerous high-profile events as they happen, including the royal wedding, sporting events, political uprisings, and large-scale entertainment events.

You can catch their excellent live coverage on SKY CHANNEL 847

 

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

Is the DSLR finally showing it’s limitations ?

Categories: Miscellaneous 7 Comments

I have had a few emails recently all with the same message…DSLR stopped working ! Are we now seeing the major limitations of this cheaper video technology.

No one ever thought for one minute that we would see video work being produced by a stills camera especially at weddings, but quite a number of you have been putting the DSLR through it’s paces at least twice a week throughout the wedding season.

We are now on year 2-3 with the DSLR being used as a video tool, people like the “look”, “Shallow depth of field”, “”Compactness” but all this form factor is at a cost, not one DSLR manufacturer to date will compromise the photographic side of these cameras so for at least 90% of you that means moire and aliasing.

Sound is poor and in most cases uncontrollable so you are having to use an external sound source like a zoom etc.

Up until a week ago the only DSLR giving hassle free video was the Panasonic GH1 but one of my readers had the following…

” The GH1s not a whole lot better. I shot a wedding with 2 of them and a HMC151 recently. The 2 GH1s crashed during the ceremony. One was restarted by the operator, the other was locked off to the rear of the church so we didn’t know about it til after the ceremony.

DSLRs are fabulous filmmaking tools but not really sorted for live video work, yet.”

This chap was lucky he was also using a Panasonic HMC-151 camcorder so the instant 2 camera failure was a bad blow but the video camcorder saved his bacon.

This also happened to a company I blogged about recently using two Canon 60Ds and a Sony FS100 once again a two camera failure during the speeches and the Sony FS100 saving the day.

It seems obvious to me there is a short longevity with the DSLR using it in video mode, the overheating is never a good sign in any electrical equipment and I think it’s also causing irrepariable dammage, in other words temperature = camera problems.

If I take my straw pole of unsatisfied DSLR users to date it equals 70% not happy having had a major let down at a live event and out of that 70% only 30% had a video camcorder to fall back on.

My advice is obvious either take a video camcorder or a spare DSLR body to all your weddings and keep them at arms length…just in case !

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

DSLR controller

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This will not suit everyone as in my opinion it is far to specific using Android phones and tablet when the marketplace is dominated with iPhones and iPads.

Just in case its something you may be able to use here is a short video…

Here is the website https://market.android.com/details?id=eu.chainfire.dslrcontroller

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

Sony HXR-NX70 Firmware Upgrade coming early 2012

Categories: Miscellaneous 8 Comments

Sony are listening to us…there are two things missing from the NX70 and both are being addressed early 2012 with a firmware upgrade (FW).

1. 720p is a very useful setting but is missing from the NX70…this will be enabled with a FW upgrade.

2. The second FW upgrade is music to my and many NX70 users…the ability to to record onto card and internal memory at the same time, once again this will be enabled early next year.

There may be other enhancements nearer the time but this is indeed fantastic news for all NX70 owners, it just goes to prove that Sony take our comments seriously. Firmware upgrading is a great advancement in todays new technology allowing companies like Sony to enhance features that may only become apparent after the camera hits the marketplace…top marks to Sony.

As a further update I have just finished an 8 minute major corporate shoot for a large drinks manufacturer, two years ago I did a similar shoot using a Sony EX-1, this time it was all shot on the Sony NX70 and the shots were better than my EX-1 could produce and a lot less noisy.

I am about to embark on a major documentary about type 1 diabetes and it will be a mixture of NX70 and FS100 footage, shot at 1080 50p. The cameras are well matched and having the new FW enhancements at the turn of the year will give the NX70 a further professional enhancement.

I hope Sony are also addressing the zoom rocker switch to make it more variable please and a PAL/NTSC switch in the menu would also be appreciated.

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

Two Canon 60Ds and a Sony FS100…”A ticking time bomb”

Categories: Miscellaneous 11 Comments

 

Someone once told me that the DSLR is simply another tool in your box, especially if you are filming weddings with them. Over the last two years I have developed a comfort zone with the Video DSLR though I do not use one outside the studio other than the odd pack shots and close up work of new camcorders etc.

This true story starts about 8 weeks ago the only change to the truth is the boys names to save their professional blushes. I was working at my desk when George came on the phone with an offer of a second hand Sony EX-3 a week later we shook hands and Prestons had their EX-3 and George was very happy with his four figure sum.

The boys, George and Scott were looking to beef up their DSLR kit as they use two Canon 60Ds for all their top end wedding work. About a week before the Glasgow open day I got a further call from George asking if we would be interested in their second EX-3, no problem and John Preston took the EX-3 at the Glasgow show and the boys now had a fair sum of money to spend.

I demonstrated the Sony FS100 to them and they were blown away by it’s exceptional noise free 21dB gain, so much so they put their name down for a new FS100. The Nikon to E mount adapters from MTF were just on their second production so it would be about a week till we took delivery of the boys adapter, I gave them my Sony 18-200 “E” lens to tide them over.

Last week I visited the boys in their plush offices in Glasgow city centre to hand over the MTF adapter. “How did you get on with the new FS100 boys” “It saved our bacon last weekend” was the sheepish reply.

 

The Report…”Last weekend the boys were filming a two camera wedding using the FS100 as a third camera for syncing sound and cutaways, the day went well till it came to the speeches, fortunately they were using the FS100 for sound so decided to record the speeches using all three cameras. The speeches were longer than anticipated, the day was one of Glasgow’s hottest and half way through both Canon 60Ds brought up a thermometer indication, indicators flashing and both cameras switched off within a minute of each other leaving both boys shocked to the core.

Over the last year they had gradually gone from using two Sony EX-3s switching over to two Canon DSLRs and till this moment in time with much success…this was a monumental disaster but for the luck of buying the Sony FS100 one week before that very wedding, they composed themselves, finished the speeches with the one camera that was preventing a major law suite and the demise of their wedding film business.

I don’t need to tell any of you how serious this could have been but I do think all of you filming weddings with DSLRs should take stalk and rethink your workflow.

Far to many of you poo poo the video camcorder these days in preference for the DSLR when it’s clear that you have a temperature time bomb waiting to happen…sometime in the future !

There is a place for both technologies, especially now we have cameras like the AF101 and the FS100, George and Scott still have a wedding video business thanks to having the Sony FS100 … but you may not be so lucky !

In my opinion the DSLRs are good for openers, musical montages and anything that does not require sound other than that you should be using a video camera like the Canon XF300, Sony NX70/NX5, Panasonic AF101 or the Sony FS100.

If you are being payed to produce a wedding video you are legally bound to make sure you have taken all precautions possible to make sure you produce the package the bride and groom have asked you to film for them, there is no excuse in law for ignorance or using equipment that is not fit for purpose. You take someones money off them…most of you get payed before the wedding you are entering a legal contract of work, if your DSLR shuts down because its too hot you better have a back up of some kind at the ready otherwise it becomes very expensive and you may loose you business.

My thanks to Bertoli for pointing out my D60 should read 60D.

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