Panasonic VariCam LT shines on a dark night

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London based production company Pundersons Gardens has completed the first production in Europe using the Panasonic VariCam LT’s recently introduced RAW recording capability and Convergent Design integration.

Provided and set up by leading rental provider VMI, the night shoot was a music promo video for UK grime artist Trim who recently signed James Blake’s 1-800 Dinosaur label, and was directed by Chris Read and shot by Pundersons Gardens co-founder Jeremy Valender. 

The production was shot entirely with vintage two anamorphic Cineovision lenses to give a filmic look, and makes use of the VariCam’s RAW recording capability and Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q RAW integration with the new HD Titan Extract firmware release. The integration was recently enabled as part of a September 2016 firmware update, announced at IBC 2016.

“We did some initial low light tests with a number of cameras, and I was shocked at how good the camera was. We shot using only the available light at night, and most of the time we spent blocking light out rather than trying to add more, because we just didn’t need it,” said Valender.

Shot entirely at 5000 ISO at native 4K, the 16:9 RAW output was then de-squeezed in post-production to create the 2.66:1 final version, with monitoring on set de-squeezed via the Odyssey 7Q. 

Connected to the VariCam LT via its built-in 3G-SDI terminals, the Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q recorder/monitor used by Valender has a trigger recording functionality, allowing the external recorder and camera to automatically start recording simultaneously with matching timecodes.

“The low light performance was the primary reason for choosing the LT, and the 5000 ISO function was like shooting at 800 on any other camera as regards to noise. The other thing that surprised me was the amount of colour – especially with the low light, a lot of other cameras’ colours wash out a little bit, but the LT’s strong colour saturation gave us a lot to work with in post,” added Valender.

“The quality achieved by full 12 bit RAW capture from the Panasonic VariCam LT to RAW-enabled Odyssey 7Q recorders has not been available before at this budget level and this is something that we are very excited about for our high-end clients,” added Barry Bassett, VMI’s Managing Director.

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

Comparison between the Sony UWP-D16/K42 and the RODE Newsshooter kit

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We compare the two radio mic systems from Sony and RODE on a video review with the RODE NTG-4. There is one killer feature on the RODE system that I will reveal during my video review. Please note as usual paid work comes first.

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

Panasonic GH5 tentative pricing (£1,550-£1,700)

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The UK price will hopefully be around the same price when the GH4 arrived just under two years ago…£1550 – £1700. Remember although it has an impressive 10bit 422 colour space this will not be available in 4K 50p mode. I bought the 12-60 lens with my GH4R and its a great lens apart from the f3.5-5.6 aperture, this was a major disappointment after the f2.8 constant aperture 12-35mm lens. No info on a dual card slot, but with Olympus at their heals hopefully Panasonic have added a dual card slot.


The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk11 (£1,849) has a dual card slot, 4K and a very good stabiliser plus a headphone and mic socket. I have 5 Olympus lenses (3 Pro) and they are the best money can buy.

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

SONY FS7 Mk11 (£10,020 body only)

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Sony is expanding its FS Series Super 35mm professional family with the addition of the new FS7 II camcorder. The new model builds on the original FS7’s strengths by adding advanced features including Electronic Variable ND technology, a lever lock type E-mount, and a new mechanical design for faster and easier set-up.

Since its introduction in 2014, the FS7 has become one of the most widely used cameras in a range of production applications, and the original model remains in the Sony line-up. The new FS7 II now gives creative professionals a broader range of creative tools, with new features all based on end user feedback.

The new FS7 II camcorder is designed for long-form shooting and production applications, especially for documentaries and independent filmmaking. Amongst the many enhancements outlined below, the FS7 II can also record in BT2020 colour space, hence making it ideal for today’s 4K broadcast productions.


Electronic Variable ND Technology

The camcorder’s Electronic Variable ND Filter system, combined with its large sensor, delivers greater exposure control, with the option of preset or variable operation modes. Variable ND mode (clear + 2~7 stop range, in seamless transition steps up to 1/128) allows the user to vary the density of the ND filter during shooting and to transition seamlessly between steps. This also ensures an optimum motion delivery by maintaining desired shutter speed.

The camera’s expanded ND operations enables fine exposure adjustment by relegating iris to set depth of field, prevents soft focus caused by diffraction, and prevents colour shift caused by stacking multiple external ND filters.

The camera can compensate for exposure fluctuation caused by iris control while adjusting the depth of field. Users can adjust exposure while keeping the same bokeh in changing shooting or lighting environments.

Preset mode lets users assign three ND settings to the filter turret, useful in selecting the most appropriate filtration range for changing light conditions, for example. Auto ND mode is also available allowing exposure to stay at a fixed level while adjusting the depth of field with iris control.

E-mount (Lever Lock type) for professional shooting

The FS7 II revisited E-mount (lever lock type) gives users the ability to change lenses by rotating the locking collar rather than the lens itself, which means that in most cases lens support rigs don’t need to be removed, saving time during a production. The new E-Mount has been designed for demanding applications in the professional environment and will fit any existing E-mount lenses in the market and other mount lenses with an adapter.  The new FS7 II camcorder also supports Sony α Mount System, which includes more than 70 lenses.

Mechanical Design Enhancements

Like its counterparts in the FS Series family – the FS7 and FS5 models – the new FS7 II features several design and ergonomic updates for comfortable and functional use in the field. These new features are based customer feedback around the FS7.

The FS7 II “tool-less” mechanical design lets users make on-the-fly changes to the camera’s set-up and operation. For example, no tools are required to adjust the Smart Grip or viewfinder positions.

The detachable viewfinder eyepiece, which comes with a pop-up hood, provides a third stabilizing contact point when shooting handheld. Durable square section rods and lever-clamps on the LCD and camera body provide simple and precise front-to-back VF adjustment while retaining level positioning.


New Sony 18-110mm Sony G lens

Sony also introduced a new E-mount, Super 35mm lens specifically designed for documentary and motion picture production.

The new lens, model E PZ 18-110mm F4 G OSS, covers Super35mm and APS-C sensors. Compact and lightweight — 2.4 lbs (1.1Kg) — with an 18 to 110 focal range (6x zoom) it uses a new fully mechanical/servo zoom switchable system, capable of snap zooms and entirely devoid of lag. The focal range is optimised for Super 35 and APS-C sensors.

The lens is compatible with Sony α Mount System cameras, including the α7 series interchangeable-lens cameras and professional Super 35mm 4K camcorders like the FS7 or FS5. Although perfectly suited for still image taking, filmmakers will fully appreciate the lens’ extended creative capabilities for shooting motion images.

The lens benefits Smooth Motion Optics (SMO) design from Sony, which is developed to optimise performance during motion image capture. This lens design eliminates undesirable characteristics and artifacts that do not affect still image taking, but can severely limit a lens’ usefulness for motion shooting, such as:

  • Ramping: F stop gradually diminishes when zooming tight
  • Not holding focus while zooming
  • Breathing (angle of view variation while focusing)
  • Optical axis shift (image moves in the frame while zooming)

*Due to a change in the SELP18110G specifications it is no longer compatible with the SEL14TC and SEL20TC teleconverters.

XQD Cards

The FS7 II supports the XQD memory card format, designed for capturing and transferring high-bandwidth, high resolution files. The newest XQD card from Sony, QD-G256E — with an industry first 256 GB capacity — enables recording time of approximately 45 minutes at 4K 60P and 3.5 hours at 2K 30P. Combined with a read speed of 440MB/s and write speed 400MB/s, users can shoot for longer without needing to change media cards.

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

ADVERT…Production Gear have the new Rode Newsshooter Kits in stock £409

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If you produce news for television you can’t be without one of these especially since the RODE version is 100% digital and takes Sony “L” batteries. A word of warning for my professional colleagues, the receiver needs one extra accessory called a VXLR to go from 3.5 mini jack to XLR, make sure you order one with your kit.

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


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We know the stress modern day productions put on crews to deliver top quality content more quickly than ever before. MōVI Ring Pro features a built-in stand that allows the operator to quickly set the system down almost anywhere. This reduces operator fatigue and keeps you fresh.

MōVI Pro is designed from the ground up to minimize downtime on set. Hot swappable intelligent batteries power the MōVI Pro, camera, and all accessories to keep you shooting all day long… with only one type of batteries to charge.


MōVI Pro Batteries strike just the right balance between size, performance, and usability. They give users instant status information via an integrated ‘fuel gauge’ and feature a host of battery management and protections built into the pack. We include 2 batteries and 2 chargers with every MōVI Pro to keep you shooting.

MōVI Pro features internal wiring to prevent damage/snags during usage. Additionally, we have strain relieved and enclosed all connections to ensure maximum reliability in a variety of weather conditions.

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

Reinventing cinema lighting with drones

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‘THE LIGHT’ is the second creative short film collaboration between Tim Sessler and Brandon Bray. After our last collaboration on ‘BALANCE,’ we wanted to focus on a more narrative piece but really push the abstract while letting the visuals do most of the storytelling. While BALANCE explored aerial cinematography in a new and artistic way, ‘THE LIGHT’ is really about attempting to make light a character, and using it in a new and innovative way.


Over the past year we’ve seen an increase in interesting use of “drone lighting”.  People attaching remote flashes to small quadcopters or creating impressive work, like Reuben Wus landscape photography with a tiny 200W light.

The issue with most of these systems is that they are far from being usable for motion picture. Even our first test with small prototype lights resulted in pushing Sony’s a7s II to extremely high ISOs, as high as 32,000. While the results of the drone light were absolutely stunning and created a bizarre effect that seemed to combine the moving shadows (that we otherwise only know from timelapse footage) and live action – we needed to create a much stronger light source to capture our vision with a proper cinema camera.

After multiple prototypes we finally arrived at our first light that got us into a realm of usable exposure. Using 60 feet of high powered 2835-480 LED light strips – giving both a 360 degree spread as well as a separate top down light, we had our first working drone light with about an 80,000 lumen output.

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

RODELink Newsshooter Kit now available £402

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The receiver (RX-CAM) features an OLED display with information on level, battery status (receiver and transmitter), mute and channel selection. The unit can be mounted on a standard camera shoe mount, 3/8″ thread or belt-clip, and for added versatility the shoe mount can be located in one of two positions.

The transmitter (TX-XLR) easily connects to handheld presentation microphones as well as shotgun microphones, with a 3.5mm input and headphone output.

Using a Series II 2.4GHz digital transmission with 128-bit encryption, the RØDELink Newsshooter and Filmmaker Kits are able to constantly monitor and hop between frequencies to maintain the strongest possible signal level at a range of up to 100 metres* (over 100 yards)

Newsshooter at IBC 2015: RodeLink Newsshooter Kit from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

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

DJI Phantom 4 drone with 24-carat gold plating goes on sale for £20k

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How stupid is this….when drones are so vulnerable why would you spend £20K on one, could you imagine loosing or crashing this drone.

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

FCPX major update 10.3 and new MacBook Pro with touch bar

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment



The all new interface and runs as sweet as a nut and using OSX 10.12.1 Sierra on my two iMacs.


NOTE : In a dual monitor setup your Photos/Audio and Titles/Generators have moved position from above the timeline/VU meters to this new position, this is not explained in the link below.


Another annoying feature is by default your VU meters are absent so you need to click on the wee meters beside the timecode to activate the far more useful bigger VU meters.


For a quick overview of the new components visit this web site (Note : Single monitor setups).

Look at the new MacBook Pro and how easy now integrates with FCPX.

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

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