‘The Echo’ Directed by Joe Shaw

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The Echo By Joe Shaw
View in HD  Download 720p HD Version  Visit Joe Shaw’s ExposureRoom Videos Page

Some cameramen and women may stumble onto my web blog and I would like you to see what can be achieved from a good idea, script, director, camerawork, sound etc.

Filmed with a Sony EX-1 with a Letus 35 Extreme and prime 35mm lenses. There is a growing number of cameramen converting their camcorders with 35mm adapters, this gives their video camera a shallow depth of field, giving them a more natural film look. 

JOE  taken from XR “Originally the film was set entirely in a confession box, which was a really exciting idea – but practically was going to make the film much harder to shoot. The small space meant that shot selection would be greatly reduced, we would need permission to film in a church – which would be tricky given the heavy nature of the script and lighting would take a long time. I liked the idea and the challenge of trying to contain the whole film in such a tight location, but ultimately we decided that the cons outweighed the pros. This was after all, going to be a zero budget production.
The script went through a good number of revisions until we had a draft we were happy with. I then went about trying to find a good location for the film.”

In general I think this is a great 15 minutes of hard work and a superb dramatic story line.

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

iMedia “download it today”

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imedia-wLook for the iMedia tab above

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

Hard Drive Docking Station for SATA drives

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hdd-sata-dockThis is a super device no longer do I have to fiddle around with external hard drive holders, unscrewing them, sliding off the cover etc. etc. This is a hard drive toaster, you simply pop in your SATA drive like a piece of toast then connect the USB 2 or in my case the eSata cable and you are away. I have at least 8 older SATA drives 160-250 which are now redundant due to size but there still may be the odd file that may be of use so being able to slip each drive in and out is a God send.

It takes 3.5″ and 2.5″ SATA drives is Mac and PC compatible and also has card readers for USB, SD, MMC and MS it also runs off a 12V adapter.

I got this eSata version for £39.99 at my local Maplin store.

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

Blackmagic Design lower prices

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 Blackmagic Design Announces Lower Prices for Intensity Pro, DeckLink SDI and HDLink ProNAB 2009, Las Vegas, NV, USA — April 20, 2009 — Blackmagic Design Inc. today announced new lower prices for Intensity Pro, DeckLink SDI and HDLink Pro products. 

Intensity Pro is now reduced from $349 to $199, saving customers $150. Intensity Pro is the leading HDMI and high quality analog component and composite capture and playback card for videographers.

DeckLink SDI is now reduced from $395 to $295, saving customers $100. DeckLink SDI includes the highest quality 10 bit SD/HD-SDI capture and playback, while also including features high end customers really need, such as black burst/HD tri-sync reference input, and RS-422 deck control.

HDLink Pro is now reduced from $795 to $495 saving customers $300. The original HDLink model is now discontinued, and HDLink Pro is the replacement for that model and with more features! HDLink Pro supports 3 Gb/s SDI Dual Link, 3D lookup tables, and support for real time monitoring of 2K on a 30 inch LCD display.

DeckLink SDI and HDLink Pro will be on display at NAB 2009 at the Blackmagic Design booth SL10820.

“We think these new low prices will make it even easier for our customers to keep upgrading their studios,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “We always work very hard to keep prices as low as possible and we are always very pleased when we manage to pull off another price reduction!”


Intensity Pro, DeckLink SDI and HDLink Pro are shipping now from all Blackmagic Design resellers.

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

Lumix DMC-GH1 with HD recording

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

Verbatim 16G SDHC class 6 ‘DO NOT USE WITH EX1-3’

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verbatin-sdhc-16gThis card is not compatible with the MxM card readers as used in the Sony EX-1 and  EX-3 HD camcorders even although it is clearly labeled ‘CLASS 6’, just thought I would let you chaps and chapettes know.

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

Part TWO…”Editing with HD”

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Apple intro to FCP6 By Philip Johnston
View in HD  Download 406p Version  Visit Philip Johnston’s ExposureRoom Videos Page

For some of you who may be new to Final Cut Pro here is an introduction from Apple themselves. Final Cut Pro 6 works best with a MacPro Intel chipset but it will work on lesser specification machines but I would not recommend this, personally. If you want to view HD footage onto a monitor you will need a I/O box like the Matrox MXO or an AJA io HD, there are other options but the Matrox and AJA are the most popular.

editing-filmMaking the transition from an SD timeline to an HD timeline only requires you to adjust some preferences in FCP and as in my case the AJA box has to be set up via software. I use 7200 SATA drives in 3 DP500 Sonnet cases giving me 15 drives plus 4 in the Mac itself. 

The main problems with HD is the fact that everything takes slightly longer to render, Motion a 3D graphics application is similar to ‘After Effects’ but I think it’s better. Motion 3 as it is officially known can give you some wonderful graphics but in 720 50P things get a little slower and rendering takes longer but you put up with it.

Final Cut Pro 6 on the other hand is fine with 720 50P using Apple ProRez but this means anything you bring into FCP must pass through the AJA first in order to transcode it to ProRez. 

Apple ProRes 422 brings powerful new capabilities to Final Cut Pro editors thanks to its outstanding technical characteristics.

Stunning HD Quality

Quality indistinguishable from the most pristine sources. Maintains superb quality even after multiple encoding/decoding generations.

Full-width 1920-by-1080 and 1280-by-720 resolution. Offers the highest visual detail possible in any HD format.

4:2:2 chroma sampling. Provides precise compositing and blending at sharp saturated-color boundaries.

10-bit sample depth. Preserves subtle gradients of 10-bit sources (sunsets, graphics, and the like) with no visible banding artifacts.

I frame–only encoding. Ensures consistent quality in every frame and no artifacts from complex motion.

Part THREE : HD Camcorders

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

Part ONE…”Do you really need HD or are we all following the pied piper”

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hd-v-tv-v3Good question, I was more than happy with SD until I saw the pictures from an early Sony EX-1, the pictures blew me away…I HAD TO HAVE ONE. So now I have moved over to HD and all the extra expense…was it worth it ? 

Firstly lets look at your cliental (Note UK only)…

Are you being asked for HD… 98% say NO.

Does any of your clients have Blu-ray playback…99.9% say NO.

Would they pay extra for you using HD…99.9% say NO.

So where is the market for HD…In your head…sadly HD as yet is still a specialized market if you are going to make money with it.

The Emperors New Clothes comes to mind, look at that quality we must have it…at any cost !  

I like many others followed the posts in various forums like children following the pied piper… looking at, downloading frame grabs, interacting, posting, surfing, due dates for EX-1s, phoning suppliers, part exchanges, convincing myself this was going to make me my fortune, convince the wife we can afford it, new web site, HD this, HD that, future proofing…… EX-1 arrives…………………….1st job .. AAAARRRGGG no tape = no archive !

I had used tape for 25 years, it had built up a comfort zone never stopping to think what that ‘zone’ was until now…what am I going to do with this footage, it’s all on SxS cards that I need to re use. I had no choice but to copy the files onto 2 hard drives and hope for the best. I was the first hand up for getting rid of tape…drop out, crunching up in tape machines, video head tracking the list is endless…now that day had finally come I was regretting my anger towards good old tape….tape …the last linear bastion of a non linear  world. 

One thing about computers that has a negative comfort zone is hard drives…if you use computers as much as I do you will come to treat hard drives with respect, as long as they are working…a drive that goes down on you can be catastrophic, so you can imagine my horror at having to use hard drives for archive purposes. 

I started using “Stickies” the Macs electronic version of the post-it note, that way I could keep a record of where things were stored. It sits on a spare Mac mini beside me in the edit suite which gets used for nothing but this purpose, now I use iMedia a far more dependable application purpose built for the job. It’s the one nightmare you have with memory card storage is keeping track of all your media.

18 months later…I have got used to editing 720 50P this is my preferred format as 85% of televisions are now LCD or Plasma and I hate the interlacing effect of 1080 50i.

Speaking of formats, this is a nightmare, you have got Mega Bit Rate (MBR), 100+ down to 3.6 (DV). Then you have 1080 50P (Not widely used) 1080 50i, 1080 25P, 720 50P, 1440 x  1080 HDV are you still with me.

The best quality would be 1080 50P but there are no fast refresh (25Hz or 50Hz) 1080p production or transmission formats in use, nor are there any looming in the near future — even on Blu-ray format. The bandwidth is barely there for 1080i channels, and it’s probably just as well, because most TVs wouldn’t support 1080p/50 anyway — they’d just convert those signals to 1080i or 720p before you saw them.

The 1280×720 progressive-scan HDTV format, which can be captured at full resolution using existing broadcast cameras and survives MPEG-2 compression better than 1080i, doesn’t make it to most HDTV screens without first being altered to 1080i or 720p in a set-top box or in the HDTV set itself. 

So to get back to my original question do we need HD ? The quick answer is no if your clients are happy with SD 720 x 576 the only person who will not be happy is your curious brain cell that tells you that YOU NEED HD QUALITY.

PART TWO…Editing with HD

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

Matrox MXO2 v AJAioHD

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Matrox MXO2 vs. AJA IoHD

  1. Matrox MXO2 costs substantially less – $1,595 (£1125) vs. about $2,770 (£2500)
  2. Matrox MXO2 is truly portable – fits easily into a laptop bag, can run off a field battery, weighs 3 ½ lbs vs. 9 ½ lbs.
  3. Matrox MXO2 is road ready and rugged – built entirely on one circuit board, MXO2 is a robust design where as IoHD has many stacked circuit boards which can become loose over time.
  4. Matrox MXO2 provides direct surround sound monitoring – IoHD has only stereo RCA output for monitoring.
  5. Matrox MXO2 works with a variety of codecs, not just ProRes – there is no need to transcode your native XDCAM, P2, HDV, and DV footage, for example.
  6. Matrox MXO2 does not use the FW800 bus – the PCIe bus used by MXO2 provides higher bandwidth so you are not limited to just compressed workflows, you can work with all formats including uncompressed 10-bit HD. You also have the flexibility to use popular FireWire storage solutions with MXO2, even on towers.


When I was re-kiting for HD there was only one option, the AJA box, that cost me £2500 at the time and had a few bugs. Eighteen months later it’s still my mainstay I/O box when editing with Final Cut Pro.

matrox_max_logotypeI don’t like the fact that it uses the FW800 port and it clearly tells you that using other FW devices will impair the AJAs stability. I was very interested to see the MXO2 had a PCIe connection and comes with a PCIe card that fits into your Mac. I also like the fact that the MXO2 is not restricted to one codec PRO REZ. Creative video sell the MXO2 for £1125.  

A new Max version is also available with Matrox MAX technology for faster than realtime high definition H.264 file creation. I have to hand it to Matrox, if I was buying today I would plum for the MXO2 Max because you get a lot more for your money and save £1000 in doing so.

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

Using LED lights…all cameramen & women…a safety warning !

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I am big on Health and Safety, you become this way when you film H&S induction DVDs and film in hospitals as I do. The eye is a very sensitive organ and looking direct into LED lights is as bad as looking direct into the sun.

High intensity LED lights are in my opinion dangerous to use direct into a persons face, if nothing else they leave a terrible after image at the back of the retina which takes ages to go away. (Talking from first hand experience). 

I use LED lighting all the time but if you follow my advice you will not cause problems…

1. As they are heat free you can use stick on velcro at the back of the barn doors, then it’s a matter of applying spots of velcro onto sheets of diffuser and diffusing the light.

2. 1000W LED lights are great for bouncing light or you could attach a white foam board using simple clips and bounce the light if the roof is not white.

I can’t stress enough how bad LED video lighting is when directed into a persons face without diffusion, manufacturers should be aware of this and supply their lights with diffusion. If you have ever bought a hi intensity LED torch you will notice it comes with a warning not to shine direct into a persons eyes and that’s a warning for ONE LED not ONE THOUSAND LED’s !

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

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