Larry’s Tip of the Day 8

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Techno Jib

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Techno-Jib was recently called on to provide up close and personal moments of rapper Kanye West’s performance for the VH1 series Storytellers. Following the show’s format, West performs a variety of songs from his hit albums and then answers questions from the audience. Shot on a small theatrical stage set up at Sony Studios in Culver City California, the VH1 event was too intimate for a traditional jib, which usually sits at the side or back of the house or upstage.

“Director Manny Rodriguez had the vision to place the Techno-Jib dead center where I could arm out and over the crowd. He understand that I would be able to give him the most coverage from that position,” explains Techno-Jib operator Devin Atwood. “I was on a small platform for added height and able to frame up a very dramatic shot, traveling the arm about 15 feet, across the light box looking down on the stage and Kanye to give the shot a lot of energy. “From my position I could cover about 180 degrees of movement, lead or follow Kanye’s movements across the stage, go high or drop down or even boom around from my position without interfering with the audience or having them restrict my movements.

Atwood says, “In my 20 years of experience I have never seen another piece of camera equipment that offers such freedom and endless possibilities. The Techno-Jib allows an operator to have control over six functions: pan, tilt, zoom, focus, arm movement and arm extension and retraction. Add to this, the ability to change the center post height and dolly position, and you have a piece of gear that is unmatched by any standard.”

LA-based Atwood owns the Techno-Jib 24, which extends from a minimum reach of 9 feet (2.7 meters) to a maximum of 24 feet (7.3 meters) allowing him to make shots that would traditionally be achieved by a telescoping crane. Techno-Jib’s arm can travel at speeds up to five feet per second and because of the unique “soft stop” makes each stop smooth. Each unit comes with a Mitchell Mount adapter and can accommodate a variety of remote heads either under-slung or over-slung.

From DV News

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Cameraman’s back problems

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Only the other day I was reading Philip Blooms blog “This weekend I was invited by Teodor Stoyanov to do two workshops for an elite group of film makers in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia. I went with my friend Dennis Lennie, who was an immense help not just in working out what needed to be taught but as I prolapsed a disc in my back on Thursday and was unable to move for most of the day! It was so bad that I  was going to cancel, but I felt I was getting some mobility back and this engagement had been booked for some time and these people had travelled from all over Bulgaria to come hear me talk and to learn things from me. So I had to go!”

A sore back is the number one health and safety issue with cameramen, it affects 95% of operators by the time they are in their late thirties. I don’t know any cameraman to date who has not suffered or is suffering from a sore back myself included. 

The rot sets in the early days when we are keen to please our employees and carry far too much video kit, broadcasters are notorious for sending you out with kit that is far too heavy for one man to carry… Tripod, DVCPRO Camcorder, spare batteries, lighting kit… if you are lucky the reporter will help you but the norm is to carry two tons of video gear on each shoulder and two hands climbing two sets of stairs… you get the picture and everything is done in a great rush increasing your chances of getting back problems.

When carrying gear you are under the same illusion… carry more saves trips out to the car… so what, why should you feel pressurized to get set up in jig time when a third trip to the car could save you a louping sore back 10 years down the line. Unfortunately sore backs tend to be accumulative in other words you will feel fine for years then the biggie will strike when you least expect it.

When you are young nothing phases you… “I’ll worry about that sore back if it comes in the future” Wrong attitude, once you suffer a sore back you can be out the game for months on end. My friend Alison a BBC reporter has a dickie back and she wishes she had not been so cavalier in her early days in video production. She has been off work for months at a time with a collapsed disc and it also affects her foot causing numbness.

So take a wise older owls advice… Your future is a consequence of everything you carry in the present.

Take more trips to the vehicle

Ask others to help you with the video gear

Don’t overload yourself with equipment

Decide before you get to your destination if you may need a second pair of hands

Think of yourself … not the pittance you are being payed to damage youself

 

 

 

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Camcorder’s that pretend to be professional

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mm-cams1hmc71-sideWhy do camcorder manufacturers feel the need to bring out “Walter Mitty” camcorders ?  

Time and time again over the years we see a camcorder design that should have never left the toilet paper it was designed on, why do the broadcast design teams feel the urge to bring out a camcorder that is so far from being professional let alone broadcast that you cringe when you see them displayed at trade shows.

Is there a yearly competition between manufacturers in Japan to design the ugliest, plastic, cheap looking camcorder they can. Take the Panasonic HMC71 it may reach the right price bracket £1800 but it looks no more professional than a gray shoe box. This good old shoulder mounted AVCAM quasi modo is partly responsible for the lack of interest in the far better HMC151. 

You see… people don’t forget basic, poor designs like the HMC71 and associate it with the HMC151 as they say tarring it with the same brush therefore people ignore the 151 as being semi domestic when it isn’t. So you see by cheapening the AVCAM from the start has a knock on effect for sales in the future for better are bolder AVCAM products.

If you are designing camcorders for professionals then please do not bring out poorly designed, grey shoe boxes with plastic lenses, leave them for the domestic boys or better still leave the design in your head.

PS. This is not a dig at Panasonic but the HMC71 is current and hits all the wrong notes.

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Larry Jordan’s Tip of the Day 7

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

The Format War…or is it !

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images-7Speaking to a cameraman friend of mine it became apparent there are 2 markets when buying a camcorder. The first is the client that you are doing the whole job for and the second is the client who just wants you to film and hand over the……….!

This is where it becomes interesting, depending what you are filming with depends on what you are shooting on to. This has led to a two tier video market, one to hand over archive and one that doesn’t. The two most common formats in use are Digi Beta and DVCAM both delivered by Sony now why is that not a surprise. Most EX television cameramen who were lucky enough to last the 25 years and get the golden handshake go out and buy the same equipment as they are used to using or their new cliental require.

imagesTelevision broadcasters on the whole have been cleverly indoctrinated by Sony in the early days, that is why we have two levels, Digi Beta for the more demanding customer who needs a tape at the end of a days filming and DVCAM for everything else. Most broadcasters and high end facilities can handle Digi Beta and DVCAM.

If you plan to work for clients who need your footage at the end of the day you have no option other than tape. Camcorder manufacturers do not think about the client when they expect you to pay £250 upwards for solid state media like P2 and SxS formats that least lend themselves to handing over to the client. Sony’s optical XDCAM is a better compromise but do you know anyone who has a Sony XDCAM reader in their edit suite !

The closest you are going to get to “hand over” solid state is SDHC cards, they are relatively cheep at around £30 per 16Gb which will run 59mins in a Sony EX-3 at full 1920-1080 50i with a special MxM adapter. JVC brought out the HM700 camcorder with 2 SDHC card slots and quicktime codec for this very use but sadly at the cost of picture quality using 1/3″ chips. Another card becoming more popular is the tried and trusted compact flash card, both the SDHC and CF cards can be easily read by standard SD/CF card readers which are far more widely available than expensive tape machines at £4K upwards.  

images-13It’s not easy being freelance at the best of times but having to buy kit like Digi Beta which is still expensive and in my opinion a bit long in the tooth just to have the facility to hand over archive is ludicrous simply because camcorder manufacturers don’t take the end user into account when pricing solid state memory. I have a sneaky suspicion that Sony have allowed the integration of the SDHC adapters because it allows the cameraman to hand over cheaper archive, something they never gave thought to themselves.

It’s also the reason P2 has never got off the ground in the 5-10K marketplace even at the cheaper “E” card prices you can’t seriously expect anyone to hand over a £250 card or a client to pay that amount of money for your P2 camera footage. Dare I say it but Sony have almost got it right with their Z5 and Z7 camcorders allowing you to record DVCAM to tape and also to CF card simultaneously (Note the Z5 does not come with the Memory Card unit as standard). So what we need now is “Client Archive Camcorders” a shoulder mount camcorder that also records to both SxS and SDHC/CF in both HD and SD but has a minimum spec of 1/2″ chips.

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Panasonic P2 HPX-301 review coming soon

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Apple 10.5.7 update “Still no RAW image support for Lumix G1”

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panasonic-lumix-dmc-g1Products Affected

Mac OS X 10.5, Aperture, iPhoto

Supported by Mac OS X 10.5.7

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon EOS 50D
Canon PowerShot G10
Epson R-D1x
Pentax K2000/K-m
Leaf AFi-II 6
Leaf AFi-II 7
Leaf Aptus-II 6
Leaf Aptus-II 7
Leica M8.2
Nikon D3X
Nikon Coolpix P6000
Nikon D90
Sony DSLR-A900

 

 

File Apple an enhancement request at  https://bugreport.apple.com   (Note. You will need an Apple ID in order to do this)

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Larry Jordan’s Tip of the Day 6

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

Prompting…Behind the scenes

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turnberryThe Open Championship returns to the Ailsa Course at Turnberry in July 2009 for the first time since 1994 when Nick Price was victorious. The worlds’ greatest golfers will gather to do battle for the famous Claret Jug on what is considered one of the finest courses on The Open rota. 

Earlier on this week I drove the 55 miles to Turnberry with my ProPrompter kit in the back of the car. I had been hired by Metro Ecosse (Edinburgh) as part of a crew to provide my prompting services. I was rather worried that morning as the sun was splitting the sky’s, great for the golfing shots and the odd interview but as any LCD Autocue provider knows…LCD’s and bright sunshine do not mix. 

apple-iphone-in-hand-thumbv2My prompter is especially different as it is very portable which means it is small, the LCD is only 8″ across so the bright sunlight was not going to do it any favours. I discovered the night before that my expensive prompting software was also available for my iPhone so I downloaded it as a safety backup. This was good news and the iPhone as it turned out was brighter and sharper than my LCD but has one major drawback…you need to upload your script to a dedicated server in order to download the script for use on the day but as any autocue operator knows only too well…changes to the script are inevitable so the iPhone version was a handy back-up but operationally very cumbersome.

As it turned out the piece to camera was delayed by an hour, this allowed the sun to hide behind light cloud cover therefore diffusing the light. Our guest was none other than Jack Nicklaus a legend in the world of golf. Jack had had a grueling day for a man of 69 years of jack-nicklaus-to-cameraage… sat down and presented about 10 pieces to camera as if this was his first call of the day. To say he was a pro is an under estimation, he questioned and changed the script without me needing to change the words and it was over in the blink of an eye.

 

The LCD screen was cranked up full, the words were as big as I dare make them but the important part for me was the job was done and Jack was off to another part of his schedule unaware of my initial anxiety about the LCDs performance in daylight and it’s overall size.

 

 

 

 

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