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.





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

Sony’s HD Format Guide

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From top to bottom; PMW-EX1, PDW-F355L and PDW-700 XDCAM Camcorders

XDCAM – 21st century workflow

XDCAM is the family name for Sony tapeless camcorders and decks. Combining the best of video and IT, XDCAM is ideal for quick turnaround projects where deadlines are tight.


An exciting new, low-cost entry point into the world of HD, XDCAM EX records onto “SxS PRO™” memory cards which comply with the ExpressCard™ standard. Up to 100 minutes of HD content can be recorded onto two removable 16GB cards. 1080/720 switchable and supporting a variety of standards, including CineAlta 1080/23.98PsF, XDCAM EX makes it fast and easy to shoot, edit and distribute great quality HD.


Featuring camcorders with 1/2-inch interchangeable lenses, XDCAM HD offers an elegant path to HD for cost-conscious users looking to switch from analogue or DVCAM. MPEG HD encoding ensures crisp, clear image quality with true 1080-line HD resolution and a choice of 18Mbps, 25Mbps and 35Mbps recording rates. Over 35 partner vendors ensures seamlessly integration with most of today’s popular NLEs.


XDCAM HD 422 sits at the top of the XDCAM range and is ideal for applications such as ENG, documentary, European TV drama and mainstream entertainment programmes that require a high quality look. Stunning HD picture quality is delivered using 2/3-inch 1920×1080 resolution CCDs, 14 bit A/D conversion and 4:2:2 recording at 50Mbps – while still retaining XDCAM’s market-leading non-linear workflow.

The HDW-790P was specifically designed for the European market.

HDCAM – Prestige results on Standard Definition budgets

The ideal medium for drama, documentaries, commercials and mainstream television programming, HDCAM has become the High Definition format of choice for discerning users. Already chosen as an “in-house format” by broadcasters around the world, HDCAM offers superb High Definition picture performance while offering a convenient choice of workflow options.

Whether you prefer to post produce in HDCAM or down-convert for editing within existing SD infrastructures, HDCAM offers greater flexibility to match your creative preferences and operational needs. Shoot at 24PsF or 25PsF to give your pictures a prestige, ‘filmic’ look. Alternatively, select 50i or 60i for a more immediate feel, especially with fast-moving action – the choice is yours. 

Providing an ideal migration to HD for customers working within Standard Definition budgets, HDCAM future-proofs and increases the international marketability of all your programming.

Find out more about HDCAM…

The F23 is designed to dock with the SRW-1 HDCAM SR recorder.

HDCAM SR – Ultimate HD performance for the most demanding users

Preferred by leading media industry players thanks to its unparalleled picture quality and ultra-mild signal compression, HDCAM SR has been developed to accommodate the most demanding applications. From movies and commercials to sophisticated green screen effects, CGI, digital intermediates, telecine transfers and archiving, there’s no format to match the peerless performance of HDCAM SR.

Delivering breathtakingly natural, detailed pictures, thanks to true RGB 4:4:4: coding at a bit rate of up to 880Mbps, HDCAM SR ensures that the most prestigious productions will stand out. And with 12 uncompressed digital audio tracks, HDCAM SR is also perfect for multi-channel surround sound mastering. When nothing less than the very best picture quality and performance will do, HDCAM SR is the ultimate choice of the world’s most discerning creative professionals. 

When nothing less than the very best picture quality and performance will do, HDCAM SR is the ultimate choice of the world’s most discerning creative professionals.

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

Phil reviews the new JVC 4K camera (See Comic tab above)

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

Larry Jordan’s Tip of the Day 5

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

JVC looks to frighten RED

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jvc-4k-prototype-camcorderJVC provides an exciting glimpse into the world of ultra high resolution imaging with a live demonstration of its KY-F4000 real-time 4K camera. Live 60p images from the KY-F4000 are displayed on JVC’s new 56-inch LCD panel with 4K resolution. This compact camera features a single 1.25-inch CMOS image sensor of 3840 x 2160 pixels, capable of producing live images with 4 times the resolution of full HD.
The KY-F4000 features ultra high resolution imaging, with a 60 progressive frame live output capability, including HDSDI Dual Link (4:2:2/10 bit 4 ch) and DVI Single Link (4:4:4/8 bit x 4ch). The camera also features a built-in genlock input, HDSDI 1080 (60i/59.94i). Additional specifications include an RGB Bayer color filter, switchable 60p/59.94 frame rate, and for the demonstration, a Nikon F-mount is used.
The two-piece design of the KY-F4000 includes a compact, lightweight camera head at 6.6 lbs, which is ideal for pan and tilt mounting applications. The CCU processor can be separated from the camera head at a distance of 328 feet.Other 4K cameras on the market, such as RED and Arri, are primarily used for cinema applications which do not require live signal output. This makes JVC the unique choice for high-end applications including:
  • Teleconference – Corporate/military conference systems can fully utilize 4K display systems (already installed) with cameras that can bring a new level of realism to remote conferencing.
  • CAD/Design
  • Distance Learning – 4K imaging can provide the ultimate real-time experience in a learning situations especially those involving live demonstrations and procedures.
By including real time output for display or transmission, the engineers at JVC are really thinking ahead,” says Edgar Shane, senior product engineering manager of JVC U.S.A.. “Where other 4K cameras on the market have been designed for cinema and are processing at 24p to 30p, we are offering full 60p output, with live transmission capability, because we believe that’s the future of ultra high resolution.”
With the demonstration of the KY-F4000, JVC is positioned to be a major player in the 4K arena. JVC is currently shipping a 4K D-ILA projector, the DLA-SH4K. The addition of a 4K camera and 4K LCD monitor brings full capture capability and further display options to the product line. The KY-F4000 will be available in April 2010, priced under $200,000.

Ricky Gervais “Are you avin a laugh”….It’s a joke, it must be or have they headhunted the Panasonic design team, who in their right mind would buy a breadbox for under $200.000. JVC have been looking at my “Comic” section and took the “Design” sketch seriously. Poor RED they must be shaking in their boots. PS. Put me down for 12 breadboxes. If this is a genuine prototype it gets my UGLIEST CAMCORDER FOR 2009 AWARD.

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

KATA OMB series of bags

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kata-banner-v2The New One Man Band replaces the various bags needed for on-location shooting. 

Las Vegas – Kata, one of the world’s most respected manufacturers of professional photographic and video protective technologies, has introduced the One Man Band series of video equipment carrying solutions. Comprising four models, Kata’s new One Man Band is the ultimate mobile production solution for the on-the-go videographer that does it all. A highly versatile bag, the One Man Band offers countless options for organizing one’s full array of video equipment and allows videographers to store their fully-accessorized HD camcorder without having to remove accessories such as a matte box, external microphone, battery, or transmitter. 

Kata’s new One Man Band is fully-customizable and includes dividers and detachable pouches allowing videographers to create the ideal setup for their individual shooting needs. The bag features ample storage and several external and internal pockets for smaller accessories and gear, allowing videographers to remain organized and ready as they travel between locations. A tripod can also be strapped to the top of the bag.

A defining characteristic that has become the signature of all Kata products, each One Man Band bag offers videographers the ideal combination of two core qualities — lightweight and protection. The One Man Band utilizes a rigid yet lightweight aluminum frame for protection during transport, and multi layered foam padding which provides additional protection for a user’s sensitive digital gear. Furthermore, waterproofed Cordura®, Toblerone feet and sturdy watertight zippers ensure that a videographer’s equipment stays dry if the elements take them by surprise.

Carrying options for the Kata One Man Band include interlocking handles, a provided shoulder strap, and a rear sleeve which allows users to utilize a Kata Insertrolley (not included with all models) for effortless wheeled transport. 

Kata’s new One Man Band series of video equipment carrying solutions comprises four individual models: the OMB-72, OMB-74, OMB-75 and OMB-77.


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

NanoFlash HD/SD recorder

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Colorado Springs, CO — Convergent Design announced a $2,995 MSRP price for the highly anticipated nanoFlash, which will ship in June, now with analog audio I/O.  nanoFlash is the world’s smallest, lowest-power professional HD/SD recorder/player creating visually lossless Quicktime or MXF files stored on affordable Compact Flash media.

The diminutive (4.2×3.7×1.4” / 107x94x36 mm) nanoFlash easily mounts on any professional camera, adding less than 1 lb (400 grams) additional weight.  The very low power consumption of less than 6 Watts assures long battery life, while the very wide power input range of 6.5 to 19.5V makes nanoFlash compatible with most power sources.

nanoflash_in_hand_snanoFlash utilizes the very high quality XDCAM HD 422 CODEC (from Sony) at 50/100 Mbps (Long-GOP) or 100/140/160 Mbps (I-Frame-Only).  Quicktime and/or MXF files can be played/edited in Avid, Final Cut Pro, Edius, Vegas and Premiere (restricted usage) without transcode or re-wrap.  HD/SD-SDI and HDMI I/O ports support 1080p30/25/24, 1080i60/50 and 720p60/50 video formats.   nanoFlash can also be used as an HD/SD-SDI to HDMI or HDMI to HD/SD-SDI converter.

nanoFlash records embedded audio over HD/SD-SDI or HDMI.  Users can optionally input analog audio (stereo unbalanced line, stereo unbalanced mic or one balanced mic) via the 3.5 mm jack recently added.  Audio monitoring is available via a headphone output.  All audio is recorded at 24-bit, 48KHz sampling.


Two Compact Flash slots (32GB CF cards are US $75) provide 80 minutes of 100 Mbps record/playback time without touching the hot-swappable cards.  Video can be played directly off the CF cards using a FW-800 reader (attached to your NLE) or transferred at 3X to 6X faster than real-time to your hard-drive.

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

Larry Jordan’s Tip of the Day 4

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

Smart Sound plugs into Final Cut Pro (Now Shipping)

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SmartSound’s new Final Cut Pro Plug-In receives rave reviews from Final Cut Pro
expert Larry Jordan and attendees at this year’s NAB Show in Las Vegas. 


Mark It, Score It, Send It – Instant Music, No Hassle
See your markers in Sonicfire Pro

SmartSound provides Final Cut Pro users with thousands of music selections that can be automatically edited to fit any length of media and dropped into your Final Cut Pro timeline in THREE simple and easy steps.

Step 1. Mark It – Using our new Final Cut Pro Plug-In, Sonicfire Pro 5 automatically reads your Final Cut Pro markers and in/out points and calculates the exact amount of music needed to compliment your visual media.

Step 2. Score It – Quickly search through thousands of tracks using keywords, categories, Sensory Searching (“More Like This, Faster, Slower, More Intense, Less Intense”), or our Tap Tempo feature, which searches using the tempo created by clicking your mouse. Once you find the music track you like, Sonicfire Pro automatically scores it to fit within your Final Cut Pro markers, while preserving the orginal beginning and ending of each music track so your SmartSound selections sound like they were uniquely composed for your project.

Sonicfire Create Soundtracks at Any Length you need Step 3. Send It – Once you have customized your music track in Sonicfire Pro, simply click the “Send To” button and your music selection is added directly to your Final Cut Pro project. 
Watch Our Demo Video


Roundtrip Editing that Works!

We know projects can evolve over time. That is why Sonicfire Pro 5 offers advanced editing and fine-tuning controls that allow you to reopen your SmartSound music directly from your Final Cut Pro timeline for quick and easy edits, from readjusting the lenght of the music track to adding a cymbal crash for an added effect.

Simply select “Open in Editor” when clicking on any SmartSound music track in your Final Cut Pro project and you’ll find yourself editing the music directly in Sonicfire Pro 5. 

Use the Open In Editor command to edit music in Sonicfire Pro
Sonicfire Pro 5 even remembers your Final Cut Pro scoring markers, so you can get the music edits right on your first try. 

SmartSound Music with markers and Mood Mapping
SmartSound gives you even more control by allowing you to access individual instruments and preset mixes with Mood Mapping®, move beats with Timing Control, and more.

Send To Final Cut Pro is Fast After customizing the soundtrack in Sonicfire Pro, just use the “Send To Final Cut Pro”option and your changes will automatically appear in your Final Cut Pro timeline.

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

Panasonic HPX-300 in America (UK HPX-301)

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By Mark Shepherd  (Creative Cow blog entry, USA)

I would like to thank Panasonic for showing off their cameras at special events so potential customers can get a hands on demo of their performance, not just reading spec sheets. I was blown away with the quality of the HVX 500 camera, and was very impressed with the “noise free” picture at high gain. I saw this camera demo’d at both Birns and Sawyer and at a HD green screen studio in Santa Monica. The 500 camera is a IT chip camera, but the chips will only produce 1440x 1080 at 24p, not the “full” 1920×1080.

The IT chips (I have been using IT chips for years Sony broadcast cameras, both SD and HD) in this camera produce an astonishing picture. I am looking for a “full” 1920×1080 24P camera in the $10,000. range with interchangeable lenses, so I went to see the new Panasonic HDX300 camera, a 1920×1080 3CMOS chip camera with 24P with a 17x interchangeable lens retailing for about $10K. People were already writing on the internet that this camera could be the “IT” camera for 2009.

They weren’t talking chips… I had high expectations. Upon viewing the displayed pre-recorded “African” footage shot with the HDX300, I noticed a lot of “noise” swimming around in the bright blue African sky. How could this be? Daylight, bright sky, noise? Shot most likely with no gain? I asked the Panasonic reps if I could take the HDX300 camera outside and shoot a test and they agreed. When I played back the 32gig card on an SDI input monitor, there was that “noise” in the blue sky, and in the all the shadow detail in other of my shots. My setting were 5600K preset with 0 gain. We made some other tests indoors with the tungston setting, in a dim part off the set with 0, 3, 6 db gain and the noise was extreme and at 3 and 6bd unusable. The Panasonic rep said that I should have used the -3db setting outdoors, and that my shot of the sky was “unprofessional” because I had underexposed it.

I intentionally used the manual iris to expose the sky so I would not blow out the sky, and why I panned the camera, the sky might have been a half or a quarter of a stop underexpose. My point to all this is that I am unhappy with the performance of CMOS chips, especially in this new HDX300 camera. Why can’t manufactures spend a little bit more and use the IT, or god forbid the holy grail FIT chips. I know that CMOS chips are cheaper, use less power and have “rolling shutter” but these are no excuses. The quality of the Panasonic HVX300 is unacceptable. Panasonic should not release this camera until they resolve this CMOS issue.


Reply by Jan Crittenden Livingston (Product Manager, HPX500, HVX200, DVX100 Panasonic Broadcast & TV Systems USA)

[Mark Shepherd] “but now that you are here I would ask you something. My question to Panasonic is why a company that has such a great history building professional cameras such as the Varicam, SDX-900, HDX-900, HDX2700, HDX-500, (all with IT chips) now start using CMOS, noisy, chips in there new shoulder mounted camera, the HDX300? Are there any other reasons but saving money? Noise, less sensitivity, rolling shutter are not good reasons for using the CMOS chip. The only good thing I have heard about CMOS is less power consumption.” 

You need to understand the camera market a little more thorughly to see why we did what we did. We have the HVX200/HPX170 at $6,000 the next step up for us is at $20,000 for the HPX500 with lens. There is a real sweet spot in camera purchasing world at $10000. So how do we make a camera that competes with other cameras in that range? Well with CMOS, yes I do get lower power consumption,in the 1/3″ domain I can’t get more resolution with a CCD, a CMOS can get the camera there. We could have put the HVX200/HPX170 chip in there but our feeling was that would not compete with the Sony EX3 that well, resolution-wise. CMOS also eliminates the streaking from light sources that do indeed happen with CCDs. There is no perfect solution. We couldn’t make a 1/3″ 2.2 million pixel CCD as it just wouldn’t be low light sensitive at all. This is another benefit of CMOS, more low light performance. 

Now in that low light sensitivity there is a gain in the noise department but as I mentioned the camera is not yet finished. Yes the rolling shutter is there, but you know CMOS imagers are in a lot of cameras these days, and if it could be used as an effective creative tool then there a good number of manufacturers that wouldn’t be able to sell cameras, starting with RED, Sony, Canon , Grass Valley and Phantom. 

[Mark Shepherd] “I rather change my battery more often than have bad quality. Don’t skink on the chips! The HDX-500 is an extraordinary camera (with IT chips) doesn’t downgrade the quality of your product line.” 

Frankly I think you are prejudging the camera. The tough part is that in order to make the price point the camera uses CMOS and I do fully believe that it will be very competitive in its market. We are not making it to compete with $20000 cameras, but $10,000 ones. Look at the field of cameras in this price point and I think you will see where we are going with it. The cooll part with this camera is the main competition uses CMOS as well, but this camera uses I-Frame codecs including a Master Quality codec called AVC-Intra, 4:2:2, 10 Bit. 

CMOS can be worked with, many do. Technology has driven shooting decisions for the last 50 years, starting with film. Wait till it is a finished camera to make your judgement and if you still feel adverse to the CMOS, then we do have a very nice line up of CCD cameras to choose from. 

Best regards, 


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