Aardman wins 2 Pencils at D&AD

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Aardman Animations and DDB London created a cracking campaign for the opening of Harvey Nichols Bristol in the city’s new shopping centre, Cabot Circus.  The campaign won Best Press and Best Poster at this year’s awards taking home two pencils – the benchmark of creative excellence for professionals and students in advertising and design.

Aardman’s Head of Commercials Heather Wright was there to pick up the award with DDB London’s Head of Art, Grant Parker.  “The strength of this idea is in the pairing of two great British institutions beautifully executed in a charming and quirky way.  I happen to know also, that Wallace & Gromit thoroughly enjoyed their foray into the world of high fashion“, says Wright.

Harvey Nichols revamped the wardrobe of Bristol’s most famous exports, Wallace giving up his beloved green tank top for a Dolce & Gabbana shirt and an Alexander McQueen cashmere jacket, whilst Gromit donned a Paul Smith silk scarf and Ray Ban wayfarer sunglasses.

Jeremy Craigen. Executive Creative Director, DDB UK says “I’m consistently proud of our work for Harvey Nichols and the level of creativity we maintain.  Wallace and Gromit is one of our strongest campaigns in recent years and I’m delighted that it has been rewarded at the 2009 D&AD Awards.”

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The new AG-HMC41E mini camcorder from Panasonic

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One of the latest models in the company’s AVCCAM series of AVCHD products, the AG-HMC41E was unveiled to the market in April this year. Designed as a competitively priced product that will help to drive the adoption of tapeless technology across the industry, the AG-HMC41E allows users of tape based media to transition seamlessly and economically to Panasonic’s AVCHD system and to a fully tapeless environment. The bundling of Edius Neo 2 video software with the camcorder will make it even easier for professionals to move to the AVCHD system by removing remaining cost barriers associated with tapeless recording.

Nela Pertl, Market Intelligence Manager at Panasonic PBITS said: “Tapeless recording is being increasingly used across the industry. This camcorder demonstrates Panasonic’s committment to making tapeless technology as accessible as possible to the broadest cross-section of professional users and our bundled software offering effectively lowers the cost of entry even further. For a minimum outlay, users can now experience the many workflow benefits that that recording directly to SD and SDHC cards bring, meaning that there has never been a better time to embrace tapeless quality HD recording.”

With a 32GB SDHC card the AG-HMC41E camcorder will record up to 180 minutes of high quality HD video at a full-pixel HD sampling rate of 1,920 x 1,080 dots, thanks to three 1/4.1-inch progressive MOS sensors with a total of 3.05 million pixels (effective number of video pixels: approximately 2 million) and a professional use-quality PH mode (maximum bit rate: 24 Mbps). Also with the 32GB SDHC card, the AG-HMC41E can record up to 720 minutes of video using the HE mode (average bit rate: 6 Mbps). It captures still images at a resolution of approximately 10.6 million pixels, comparable to the resolution of high-performance digital still cameras.

The AG-HMC41E is compact, weighing less than 1kg. Despite its size, the new camcorder model offers multiple professional features including full HD 3MOS imagers, high-resolution 10.6-megapixel still photo capture and 12X optical zoom. It incorporates Panasonic’s broadcast/professional-use color reproduction system, various focus-assist functions, such as facial recognition and touch-type auto-focusing, as well as professional functions, such as waveform monitoring. Accessories include a removable grip and an optional removable XLR microphone adaptor.

Unlike tape-based systems, the AVCHD high definition digital video camera recorder format records video and/or audio as digital files that do not required digitising. The files can be directly and quickly transmitted to a Windows PC or Mac, simplifying the use of the captured video in various applications, such as content production, internet distribution and source-material archiving. AVCHD files can also be user edited, saving time and effort for TV program production. Media and equipment maintenance requirements associated with AVCHD mean that it is also a highly cost-effective means of recording.

The AG-HMC41E retails at £2429 inclusive of vat

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The Petrol Rain Poncho (PRP-2) for the working sound person

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PRP-2-3OK so you may look like a dork who is about to give birth to lazer printer but who cares if the gear is kept dry it seemingly retails in the USA for $65.

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The Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor a possible look into the future for the “EX-5”

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Exmor RSony have just announced two domestic HD camcorders the HDR-CX520V and the HDR-CX500V using the new Exmor R CMOS sensors. Could this give us an insight to a future EX-5 camcorder with stunning low light capabilities and reduced grain only time will tell. I think if we are going to get an EX-5 I hope Sony have the sense to make it a full shoulder mount camcorder and although the Sony lenses on the EX-3 are good most cameramen and women would prefer canon or fuji lenses.

Just in case you are in the market for a new HD camcorder or just interested here is an overview of the Sony HDR-CX520V… Available 24 August 09

Sony CX520

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Fusion F2 portable 2 drive RAID SATA storage system

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Sonnet Technologies announced a new, faster 1TB version of its Fusion F2 portable two-drive RAID SATA storage system that employs 7,200-RPM drives. The system offers 20 percent faster performance than the original Fusion F2 1TB model, with up to 190 MB/s read and write sustained data transfer rates, and it may be bus-powered to enable usage when grid power is unavailable.

The system consists of two 2.5in, 500MB drives mounted side-by-side in a rugged aluminum enclosure. It features two eSATA data ports for maximum data throughput, and is designed for use with the Sonnet Tempo SATA Pro ExpressCard/34 controller for MacBook Pro and Windows notebooks.

The Sonnet Fusion F2 is a high-performance, highly reliable alternative to existing FireWire and USB portable drive solutions. The F2 transfers data via two eSATA ports, but may draw power from a powered FireWire port for a portable operation. It supports portable video capture in conjunction with AJA Video Systems’ Io HD, which requires dedicated use of FireWire bandwidth.

To protect field footage, Fusion F2’s drives can be configured in RAID 1 mirrored mode, and still can capture Apple ProRes HQ HD fed from an AJA Io HD. This protected mode also allows safe field transfer of Panasonic P2, Sony SxS Pro, or similar memory cards. Additionally, the ability to verify footage by a MacBook Pro/Fusion F2 system gives users the peace of mind to erase and reuse cards on location.


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PoleCam for those in need of a higher perspective

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“This was the first time we have exhibited our new 7th Heaven seven-element camera rig in south-east Asia,” explains Mel Noonan, Polecam’s Sales and Marketing Manager. “The response was very positive. We displayed the 7th Heaven mast in vertical position to emphasise its potential to deliver very high viewing angles in SD or full 1080i and 1080p HD while retaining the portability for which Polecam is renowned.”

“A key feature of 7th Heaven is its ability to capture video from very high viewing angles with total control of ascent and descent speed. You are essentially flying your camera from ground level to 8 metres above the tripod pivot. The standard five-element Polecam’s 6 metre span is long enough for most practical purposes but an even longer reach is often useful, as in wildlife close-ups where you don’t want to risk becoming a tiger’s breakfast, live event coverage such concerts and sports where you need to get near the action without interrupting every else’s view, and news where you can elevate your camera and microphone over a crowd of reporters. And of course there is always the freedom to operate 7th Heaven from the top of an OB truck or on a balcony.”

The latest version of Polecam’s Full Frontal Filter System (FFFS) made its first-ever exhibition apearance. FFFS includes a Polecam filter holder and five 62 mm screw-fitting circular Tiffen filters plus a Cokin A121M Grad neutral grey medium filter. Polecam’s filter holder is designed for use with compact HD cameras that have no integral filter mount. The Tiffen filters comprise an infra-red-cut, 0/0 neutral-density, 85B daylight corrector, 85BN9 combined neutral density and daylight filter, plus a circular polariser. The system comes complete with a Cokin A121M graduated neutral grey medium filter and a 62 mm adapter ring allowing the use of many Cokin-compatible filters. A Lenspen lens cleaner and carrying case with room for additional lenses are also supplied. “Optical filters enable fast and intuitive adjustment of camera performance in a wide range of locations and lighting conditions,” explains Polecam founder Steffan Hewitt. “They allow picture quality to be enhanced without the loss of dynamic range that often occurs when adjusting electronically within a camera. The combination of filter elements we have chosen is the result of very careful technical and operational evaluation. The filters can be used individually or dual-in-line.”

Polecam also displayed its new Universal RCP MkIII remote control panel which provides comprehensive control of up to five different camera types via a single highly robust balanced-audio sinewave data channel. Parameters such as colour balance, master pedestal, gain and detail can be remote-adjusted in Polecam-recommended Toshiba and Iconix HD and SD cameras. Red and green tally lights can also be activated remotely.

Polecam was established in 1998 by extreme sports cameraman/director Steffan Hewitt. While directing a series of windsurfing kit commercials in Hawaii, he needed to obtain close wide-angle front sequences of a windsurfer in action, shot from a tracking boat or jet ski. Steffan improvised a rig comprising a miniature camera on a carbon-fibre windsurfing mast. Returning to Britain, he developed a lightweight go-anywhere rig with a remote joystick controlling a high-precision pan and tilt head. Polecam is now supplied in HD and SD versions with a range of additional options including underwater and 3D pan/tilt heads. Polecam Ltd is active globally from its base near Bedford, England.


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ZGrip iPhone 3Gs “An expensive posers toy”

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ZGrip iPhone from Steve Weiss, Zacuto USA on Vimeo.

Before you ask I don’t know the price nor do I care, Zacuto are renowned for trailblazing expensive grips, loops, camera mounts etc. You also get a lifetime guarantee with all their products. This in my humble opinion is taking things too far, the 3Gs is far from usable as a video camera, let alone warrant an expensive tool like the ZGrip.

The video part of the 3Gs is very basic, fixed lens, in fact the only plus point is it’s ability to instantly send small 47 sec video emails to your friends so why on earth is a company like Zacuto even bothering with it, your guess is as good as mine.

Good luck to Zacuto they seem to have the finger on the pulse but I think they should have waited for the 7Gs with HD before making expensive iPhone handles.

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Canon 5D MkII dual purpose camera…”Is it a good film camera ?”

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z-finderNEW1Having just bought a Canon 5D MkII for photographic use, I decided to see what all the fuss was about using the 5D as a film camera. My friend Philip Bloom has embraced the 5D to such an extent he has filmed 2 television commercials with it.

So firstly I went to order a Zacuto Z finder to discover they are not shipping till August the 10th 2009 this was possibly a blessing as I then plumbed for the 3″ Hoodman loop which is 1/3rd the price of the Zacuto.

One major problem for me is the lack of choice this leaves you attaching a loop to the LCD of the camera. As a photographer I like the old fashioned TTL viewfinder for taking photographs and the loop destroys this feature unless you are willing to use the live view for taking photographs as well !

let’s face it a 35mm Digital SLR is for taking photographs with not for filming television programs !…so why are so many people embracing this dual technology camera…simple they want the shallow depth of field that only a film camera gives you but at a price…the on board sound is naff as is the RAW codec although it’s a Quicktime it uses H264 compression so you can’t bring it onto your timeline without converting it first.

HoodmanI don’t know if Canon can change this H264 as a firmware update but you only have to look at JVCs HM700/100 to question why Canon did not go down the same road.

My findings were less than encouraging, this is not a replacement for a Sony EX-3 etc, it’s very cumbersome to use and let’s face it we are looking at a 35mm stills camera as it’s prime use and 1080i HD filming as an after thought, although Canon give you a 3.5mm mic input the sound is very basic and AGC switched on with no availability to switch it off.

In order to get good sound you are forced to use an external digital audio recorder which adds to the time in the edit suite syncing it all up, between syncing external sound and converting the files you are doubling your editing time before you kick a ball.

I am sorry to be so negative about the Canon’s HD video mode but the only reason people like Philip Bloom are using this camera at all is because at this moment in time their is no alternative without costing a fortune or making a video camera look like something out of Madd Eye Moodys sneekerscope (Harry Potter).

Canon have been clever dipping their toe into this market but they would be pure genius if they would bring out a solid state video camera which took their 35mm lenses.

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Panasonic introduce 3 Blu-ray recorders “HD Everything” Not quite !

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Panasonic has announced the market introduction of the DMR-BS850 and DMR-BS750 Blu-ray Disc Recorders and the DMR-XS350 High-Definition Recorder / DVD Recorder (Standard Def Archiving). All three new models are compatible with freesat+, making it easy to view and capture high-image-quality digital satellite broadcasts.

The continued trend toward Full HD in TV broadcasts, discs and digital AV equipment has spawned demand for innovative digital recorders. Panasonic’s response is the “HD Everything” concept – products that allow anyone to easily control, preserve and share a wide variety of Full HD images. Designed under this concept, the new trio of digital recorders come equipped with functions users will enjoy today and need tomorrow.

BD Live
Programmes that have been recorded and stored in the hard disk drive can be converted to the H.264 format and saved. The H.264 format lets viewers use their hard disk drive space more efficiently or store more TV programmes on a single Blu-ray Disc.

Dolby + DTS-HD
In terms of audio, the new DMR-BS850 and BS750 support the superior surround sound of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-Master Audio Essential on Blu-ray Disc media. Users can connect the recorder to a compatible amplifier and enjoy the stunningly high quality 7.1-channel surround sound of Blu-ray Discs.

Viera Cast
The new recorders also support Panasonic’s VIERA CAST Internet function, so users can easily access Internet content such as YouTube and Picasa Web Albums and view it on a large-screen TV. 

Recording and Viewing Freedom with freesat+ Twin Tuner – With more than 140 digital TV and radio channels to choose from it’s fairly likely that at some point you’ll want to record two programmes broadcast at the same time. The freesat+ Twin Tuner allows you the freedom to do this. 

HD Recording
In DR mode you can record a digital broadcast signal, without the slightest change in quality, directly to your HDD. The precise Full HD picture quality, 5.1ch surround sound, subtitle and audio description, all recorded perfectly and ready to view.

Pause TV
Pause Live TV lets you freeze TV programmes just like pausing a DVD. Select “Pause Live TV” on the VIERA Link Menu and the TV programme is temporarily saved on the hard disk drive. You can watch the rest of the programme, right from the stopped frame, at a later time.

Sadly once again due to a bad call by the design team these “HD Everything Almost” recorders do not allow you to record into the recorder via firewire on HDV…SD ONLY and the HDMI is an output only, so if you were hoping to archive your HDV camera footage DON’T BUY THESE RECORDERS.

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50% off your next Panasonic VariCam 3700

Categories: Miscellaneous 2 Comments

VariCam offer

I don’t quite know how to take this Panasonic advert…on the one hand you are getting a great piece of kit for half the price you would have paid for it one month ago…I do hope know one spent £30,515 last month on this camcorder they will be so depressed…now lets see the funny side of this…

You have 3 choices to get a Willie Wonka golden ticket…

1st any old 1/2″ chip camcorder…like an EX-1 perhaps… age or condition is not mentioned

2nd any old 2/3″ camcorder

3rd any old RED camcorder !

Now you see the funny side…is Panasonic “avin a laugh” who would spend £30K upwards on a RED camcorder only just available to hand it over for a £15K panasonic 3700 when you could buy the cheapest 1/2″ camcorder on EBAY and do the same deal…there is no mention of the camcorder needing to be working !

Who thinks up these ideas…I mean to say what the hell are Panasonic going to do with a room full of second hand camcorders…but give them their due it’s a good deal…PS. I think they should clarify if the lens, matte box and rails are part of the deal…I think not…but remember the £15K you have saved will easily buy you the lens and not forgetting the new P2 “E” cards are now 1/3 the price. (My thanks to Martin for spotting my stupid mistake which I have since corrected).

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