Blackmagic’s Ultra Studio 4K

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment


There are a vast array of codecs today and as an editor you can’t possibly be prepared for every eventuality mainly because every editing platform is limited as to what it accepts, FCPX 10.1.1 being a prime example. I have a Panasonic PX270 that decided to change the rules and give us fantastic pictures at 1080 50p LGop, FCPX as yet will not recognise LGop so you have one alternative to bring you footage in externally.

Having the ability to ingest any video format from 4K to SD is a great asset plus the Ultra Studio 4K (US4K) comes with Media Express that can finally import 1080 50p footage.

UltraStudio 4K has 6G-SDI, HDMI 4K, analog component video, 16 channels of SDI audio, 2 channels of balanced analog, 2 channels of unbalanced AES/EBU audio, timecode, up/down/cross conversion, reference and serial deck control.

I already had the Ultra Studio Express which I sold to a good friend so I was eager to get started with my new capture and playback device.

The US4K is a rack mounting unit so I decided to buy a LACK from IKEA which by chance takes 19″ units and a choice 0f 3 colours. There is a host of various BNC connectors on the back some of which I have never seen before and are a tad confusing.

The 2 analogue XLR outputs are for monitoring purposes but hold one dark secret…they don’t match up with the HDMI output causing a lag in the sound.

It took me till 3am last evening to sus out what was happening but the short version is as follows.

1. Analogue XLR sound… out of the US4K does not match the HDMI feed.

2. The only way to match the HDMI feed is to take a digital audio feed out your TV monitor to a sound bar with a DA input, this cures the sync problem.

Blackmagic need to update the US4K drivers to include a latency feed for the analogue sound out, then you can tweak the sound to get rid of the lag.

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

Peter Sallis has not recorded a voice over for 4 years due to ill health

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Very sad news indeed that veteran actor Peter Sallis (93) has not been able to record a Wallace and Gromit for over 4 years. Peter is suffering from macular degeneration which is an age-related painless eye condition that generally leads to the gradual loss of central vision but can sometimes cause a rapid reduction in vision.

Central vision is used to see what is directly in front of you. In AMD, your central vision becomes increasingly blurred, leading to symptoms such as:


  • difficulty reading because the text appears blurry
  • colours appearing less vibrant
  • difficulty recognising people’s faces


As filmmakers we are very well aware of how important our eyesight is to us and for actors like Peter who have developed and made the character of Wallace and Gromit so iconic not to be able to read his scripts any more is very sad indeed.


“Peter is not too well. It’s a big question for us, whether to keep going. We have got an understudy who has stepped in sometimes, Ben Whitehead, a young actor in London.

He actually started off doing the stuff Peter didn’t want to do, like video games, or if we needed a voice for an exhibition. He was doing some of the voices on The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and stood in for Peter sometimes.

He’s quite convincing. Some people have spotted it and have said he doesn’t really sound like him [Wallace], but he’s getting good.

Whether he will stand in eventually, I’m not sure. There’s nothing planned at the moment.”– NICK PARK

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

Panasonic GH4 Review “In the making”

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Our Panasonic GH4 review will be a belter, not only footage from 3 GH4s filming a documentary with background GH4 footage but a host of lenses and kit from the Glidetrack 2014 smoothest slider on the planet to the full blown GH4 filming kit using the YAGH SDI-XLR adapter.

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

TV-bay…The TOUR 2014

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Make sure you mark off your calendar in June for the TV Bay TOUR 2014. Monday 9th June will be in London’s Earls Court then on Wednesday 11th June at the Pie Factory, Media City UK, Manchester and lastly onto Birmingham at Edgebaston Cricket Ground.

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

CALUMET UK are still up and running unlike their website-No GH4’s in stock !

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I started getting phone calls yesterday about Calumet UK going out of business as their web site had disappeared, called the Glasgow store to find Tommy at the end of the phone “everything is fine the web site has a maintenance problem”.

So until they resolve the website you can phone Calumet Glasgow on 0141 353 0875…To save any extra phone calls they do not have any Panasonic GH4’s in stock.


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

Scottish Television invest in 25 Sony PMW-400L camcorders

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Scottish broadcaster, Scottish TV, has today announced its investment in Sony PMW-400L cameras as the company future-proofs the newsgathering tools that support its comprehensive local news service. Scottish TV invested in 25 Sony PMW-400L cameras as well as wireless adapters and accompanying field production equipment to support the news workflow across its five sites, all supplied by Sony Professional Solutions Specialist Dealer CVP. The new XDCAM cameras and tools will be used across all of Scottish TV’s newsgathering operations, allowing for workflow continuity and a seamless transition from acquisition through short-term storage and data transfer.

The initial move will see Scottish TV continuing to shoot its local news coverage in SD IMX50, using the new kit within Scottish TV’s Avid Interplay production environment. However, in the future Scottish TV will be able to transition smoothly to HD, thanks to the PMW-400’s compatibility with both the IMX50 and HD422 standards, meaning the tools will support current needs as well as helping Scottish TV prepare for a high definition future.


As part of its investment, Scottish TV also purchased 25 of Sony’s CBK-WA101 wireless adapters, which accelerate the newsgathering workflow by enabling easy transmission of content over a wireless network from any of the company’s new PMW-400Ls. Connecting directly to the PMW-400L, the CBK-WA101 adapter enables the transmission of both proxy files and high-resolution content to a broadcast station, on premise server or cloud environment via 3G/4G/LTE/Wi-Fi

Sam Dornan, Channels Operations Manager at Scottish TV, said: “With five dedicated production sites across Scotland, and a wide geographical area to cover, easily integrating footage into the news production workflow is both challenging and vital to us. Sony’s wireless adapters will be instrumental in achieving this, but the proven XDCAM codec was one of the main reasons we decided to invest in Sony’s technology. The strength of the workflow that the codec enables means that our teams will be able to easily ingest, edit, and export their content as video files, crucial as we look to the future for our newsgathering teams.”


As part of this workflow, Scottish TV invested in eight PMW-1000 memory recording decks and four PMW-50 SxS Field Gear units. Both the PMW-1000 and PMW-50 support SD and HD, with the memory deck providing recording and playback, and the rugged Field Gear unit supporting a variety of outputs. These include analogue composite, HD/SD-SDI, HDMI, analogue audio, headphone, iLink and USB.


Colin Mendham, the sales manager at CVP who managed the deal, commented: “We’ve worked closely with Scottish TV as it transitions to Sony’s XDCAM tools, ensuring we deliver the best support we can. Having initially worked with Scottish TV to identify its needs in newsgathering technology, we then conducted exhaustive technical and operational tests, field trials and head-to-head comparisons, and Sony’s equipment came out on top. The PMW-400L delivers the high quality needed for HD broadcast within an efficient, established workflow, making it one of the best newsgathering tools on the market. This investment will ensure that Scottish TV is fully equipped to deliver the best possible news footage to its viewers for years to come.”

Scottish TV is the latest news organisation to invest in Sony’s XDCAM tools, following the recent announcement that ITV has invested in over 190 PMW-200 and PMW-400L cameras for its regional newsgathering operations.

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

3rd Party loupes are not needed with Panasonic GH4…thank you !

Categories: Miscellaneous 6 Comments


Why would you spend £250 on a Zacuto Z finder when you have a EVF fit for purpose on the new Panasonic GH4 ? The only reason I can demonstrate this is that I have a Zacuto EVF that I needed for my Panasonic AF101 and Sony NEX-FS100 and comes in useful for various high tripod shots  and JIB shots.


For £15 on EBAY you can buy yourself an eyecup that fits like a glove, in fact this was a Sony extra large eyecup I had in my drawer.


If you add an expensive loupe to the GH4 you loose the ability to perform tasks by touch screen which I find very useful. You need to get away from thinking Canon or Nikon with the Lumix GH4, this is a mirrorless camera with a fantastic crisp EVF with no problems focusing.

The need for a loupe senario has chased the DSLR for years with cameras that are photographic…first…who think they are also video cameras…second, coming from strong photographic pedigrees like Canon and Nikon.


The Panasonic GH4 has changed the rules…Everything about the GH4 is geared towards video including the EVF which is better than you get with a Canon C300, the YAGH with SDI, XLR and 4 pin power, VU metering and sound controls and thats just a handful of video features.

It makes my blood boil when people show you expensive items that are a waist of time and money…I repeat you do not need a 3rd party loupe on your GH4 so don’t waste your hard earned money buying one.

NOTE : If you already own a loupe like the Zacuto Z finder you have nothing to lose by trying it.


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

Sigma 24-70 f2.8 Full Frame (Canon Fit) for sale (UK ONLY) £350 as new

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment


Now I have sold my Canon C300 I have no further use for the last of my Canon Fit lenses both as good as new. The Sigma 24-70 is Full Frame.


Once again if you are interested send me an email to small and I will send you a PayPal request both lenses include 1st class next day Special Delivery to the UK only.

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

No interest in local talent…it all stems from London !

Categories: Miscellaneous 4 Comments


Grouse Beater “The head of drama kept me waiting over twenty minutes, an open area in the deathly mausoleum they call Pacific Quay headquarters. I’d come a long way, from Los Angeles, my second home and place of work, my first still in Edinburgh.

Looking around me in that vast, wide, high empty interior space, office levels stacked around its four walls, I couldn’t help but think how bereft it was of anything that gave a clue to the creativity that is supposed to happen inside. Not a pot plant, sculptural bust, or artwork in sight. Nothing but generality, cold steel, concrete and glass, and an echo.

The place needs a woman’s touch!

Entrance to the atrium, the inner sanctum, is by security gates, reminiscent of an airport. You are given a tag, expected to wear it until you leave. Whoever goes in, must come out. It’s a wonder I wasn’t asked to take my belt and shoes off.

Security? What secrets do they keep there? They hardly make a thing bar some low comedy shows and local news. Everything, but everything is passed to London … if an independent producer is lucky. There it stops, Buffers – London Central.

I wait. As time passes I know from experience it is not a good sign.

Out she comes. Preoccupied. A bad phone conversation?

Blast, she’s younger than me; won’t see me as of her generation, neither cool nor topical. Doesn’t matter I have a bevy of international awards, I’m an unknown to her. Unless, that is, she has my name in a wee black book. Wait, she was told to meet me by my old colleague now Controller of BBC Scotland. Be confident. You arrive recommended, a VIP.

Maybe. Maybe some other advice was given. “Placate this guy but offer no commissions.”

Must stay positive. Freelancer’s livelihoods depend on me achieving. People like me are continually pushed into a corner where we are left arguing for indigenous talent, but against faceless money men in London.

Calm down. Smile.

She sits in front of me, no apology for the lateness. The silence between us has me expect a lump of tumbleweed to blow by. She waits. Does she expect me to break into song, to entertain her? Okay. Me first.

I open with the usual small talk, see her glance this way and that, (bored?) listen to her harden up her answers to let me know she carries authority, for she senses I am not convinced by her. She was not educated in Scotland.

One by one she dismisses well researched proposals, all Scottish sourced material, some with funding attached, all with serious actors. Whatever way I pitch, with enthusiasm, prepared to fine tune, alter main character, offer compromise, back comes the negative. “No, London is doing something similar. No we have a project about women. No, I wouldn’t get that passed HQ London. She hesitates on one novel for which I have the rights. “I’ll read this and let you know.”


I boost my pitch. “I have one of his Glasgow-set novels filmed to good acclaim, “Best Screenplay” from the American Guild of Film Critics, so please give him sound consideration.

“I will, but nothing else you offer is of interest.”

Six mature projects, and only a book held back. Is she patronising me?

As a last-ditch at solid Scottish material I blurt, “I have a project on the Highland Clearances, female led-”

She cuts me short. “I’m not interested in historical costume drama.”

Jeezus. The Scots invented the bloody historical novel. There’s an entire national library of fine novelists specialising in the genre. Has she not seen “Braveheart,” “Rob Roy“? Where was she when Hollywood dramatised the novels of R. L. Stevenson? Now what? Will she tell me BBC has committed all its drama budget to another obscure Trollope novel,“Barchester Chronicles“? Is that the excuse?

Maybe it’s “Pride and Prejudice XV”.

I pause. “If I offered you an action man, fantasy series, how about that, you know, like a Scots Batman?” Her eyes light up. “Yes, I’d like that.” She moves into a spiel about how that sort of series is all the rage in the USA. I pause again, timing my riposte to hold her gaze. “Batman is a costume drama.”

Damn! That bit of impudence will alienate her.

What is a non-Scot doing running a major cultural department for BBC Scotland? Does she have any knowledge of Scottish literature? Did she study at a Scottish university, decided Scotland was the place to live and work? What is her criteria for selecting work? What are her standards?

I decide to test her.

“Tell me, what’s your favourite Scottish drama?”

I promise you, I knew her answer before she spoke it. She hardly hesitates and says, “Monarch of the Glen.”

“Ah” says I, “I can see why, light comedy, prat falls, stereotypes, very popular.” I take a deep sigh and throw caution to the wind. “I’d call that series sub-Compton Mackenzie.”

Back comes the shock reply confirming my worst fears.

“Who is Compton Mackenzie?”

We never met again.

(Epilogue: The novel, a series of short comedic stories set in World War II army days, was rejected, but a BBC comedy series about the army has been produced – by BBC London.)

HDW : I have cried from the top of my voice that…As for commissioning editors…they should not be in the same post for any longer that 3 years as a turnover of such staff would introduce freshness and extinguish any favouritism that may exist. Budgets for external programming should be allocated 4 times a year rather than this ludicrous “We have already used our budget for 2010″ and that’s during 2009 !!!”

As an aside Noel Edmonds went head to head with Jeremy Paxman talking about buying the BBC.

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

GH4 Arrives today

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment



NOTE : Click on the picture above to get a 72dpi 1843 x 1037 size.

Taken with my brand new Panasonic GH4 tonight down at the river Clyde in Glasgow City Centre. With a 12-35mm f2.8 Lumix G lens at 25mm set at 200ISO on a tripod, why not go over to GH4 CREW and have a look.



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

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