An insiders view of VJ’s

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VJ

Q. “Where do you stand on Video Journalists..?”

Many years ago I would have given a negative response. As a broadcast TV news cameraman and therefore part of a team, I feared for the future as a standalone news cameraman. As a freelancer with my own (very expensive) kit, I figured that the broadcasters would give all the journalists a small camera the size of a baked potato and turn them loose with little training in the finer arts of news photography and filming.

And they did.

For a few years, freelance work took a dip and my worst fears were slowly being realised by the use of wobbly, out of focus, poorly lit shots filmed by journalists who suddenly found themselves on their own with no cameraman. Mistakes were made on a steep learning curve.

Journalists were setting up, filming and editing their own films in a team of one. Some of them took to it like a duck to water, but having spoken to many journalists at that time I found that many were not keen on being VJ’s. They had trained to be TV Journalists, and many didn’t want to film and edit on top of that. Many felt coerced into being something that they didn’t want to be.

Fast forward to today and VJ’s are very much a force in the broadcast news industry. However, so am I. So are a lot of the cameramen and women who were there before the so called VJ revolution. Those that are good at being a VJ and cope well with what that entails get on with it. They have become good at what they do, but those that can do it well are very few and far between in TV news broadcasting.

Those that didn’t get on so well with being a VJ still do it, but only when really necessary or the news producers freelance budget is running low. Even the good VJ’s tell me that they still prefer on most occasions, to be working with a cameraman. They tell me on a regular basis that it frees them up to concentrate on being a good journalist and to get the story right without the hang ups of trying to concentrate on filming, sound and other tv news logistics.

Without doubt, the VJ is here to stay and even grow a bit more as broadcasters and publications struggle in an era of budget austerity. I do however think that the TV news cameraman will not go away, despite the protestations of the likes of Micheal Rosenblum, who believes that we are dead in the water, along with big newsrooms. He’s been saying it for years that everything can be done on an iphone, but we are still here. Not just me, but most of the cameramen and women I knew when I started in this industry in 1997 are still working… Regularly.

We are still here because working as a team still works. A journalist and a camera operator is still the best way of news gathering for the TV news. Not the cheapest, but the best. Cheap shouldn’t mean change.

But i have learned over the last 6 or 7 years that the VJ is also a good and necessary tool in the industry. In cost terms alone, and efficiency of purpose. Small, cheap high quality cameras and laptop based edit software are everywhere. Hell, you CAN even film the news on an iPhone if you’re good enough to do it, but the situation must be amenable to filming with one. I no longer have a problem with it.

ABCNews
But here’s my warning: Make a film i want to watch. And… Do it with style.

Most people who work in the TV news industry will tell you that most newsgathering situations are not amenable to filming with an iphone. Good sound must be a consideration for a start. But enough of the iphone bollocks…

The kit isn’t the problem. The idea of VJ’s aren’t a problem. I will use the best piece of filming gear I have to get the job done. I will work and gather the news on my own. I have done it before and i will do it again. The problem I have with the VJ concept is the fact that 1 person is doing the job of 2 or 3 people, but that’s down to new technology and the ease of its use. It’s sharper, quicker, cheaper and is inevitable that one person can do it easily, but that doesn’t mean that they should.

Here is my gripe… I worked in a mid level newsroom for two weeks solid a while back. The journalists were all VJ’s and the newsroom was run on a VJ model. (And still is.) Most of them I observed over that period were constantly knackered. Always on the go during long hours of producing, researching, writing, filming, travelling and editing. Every day. They didn’t have time to talk or be sociable and ate their lunch at the edit suite or in the car. They looked stressed. They looked tired. They had to do it again the next day and the next. I knew from asking them that family life was erratic.

I wouldn’t want to see most of them in 5 or 10 years time. Burnout. Lack of enthusiasm creeping in for a job that gives them no enjoyment, time to be creative or the time to produce something outstanding by concentrating on one aspect of work. They crank out the news, day after day. Many of them I know only wanted to be a journalist, not a cameraman or editor. I know many who feel that having to VJ stands in the way of being able to grow into a damn fine TV journalist.

New technology, its ease of use and cheap production methods doesn’t mean that this is the way TV news should be done. Newsrooms however, are run on ever diminishing budgets.

In my opinion, the biggest and most noticeable change in our industry is not how, or by whom the news was gathered, that is now a side issue. It is the speed with which the information gets out. The desire to be first and the quickest.

You only have to look at the last big international story (Boston bombings) to see the outpouring of crap on the Internet via Twitter, forums and other online outlets. The internet and social media is the way a great many people now get their daily news fix.

True journalism gets buried in a pile of shite based around the desire to be the first to tweet the latest supposition or snippet of YouTube User Generated Content. (UGC) Newspapers can be the worst offenders, but TV news is rapidly catching up in the spreading of bullshit, misinformation, rumour and get it out there quick journalism. Worse still, news outlets with a political bias or agenda.

TV news and the process of making it are now technology driven. I believe though that it is the speed of breaking and sharing news, not the VJ concept, that is to the detriment of good TV journalism and newsgathering standards.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.    http://mediaattentionltd.blogspot.co.uk

News

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PIX ON LOCATION

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PIX

The Australians put us all to shame if you are going to run a production company doing both video and photography this is how to do it.

Behind the Scenes: Pix On Location Mōvi One Take Shoot from Muy Lang Linda Ung on Vimeo.

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Scott Neeson “The man with the biggest heart in the world”

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Scott

Scott Neeson, former head of 20th Century Fox International left Hollywood to save children rotting in Cambodia’s garbage dumps. He sold his mansion, Porsche, and yacht to set off for Cambodia to provide food, shelter and education to destitute children. Scott now cares for more than 1,000 Cambodian children and their families. You sir are awesome!

A true saint by every meaning of the word, to give up such a wealthy background and live in the heart of poverty is humbling to say the least.

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When families helped by the Cambodian Children’s Fund receive a new home, it’s a life-changing experience. Most of these families have dealt with years of poverty, unsafe housing and constant struggles.

For our experienced team of builders, a new home takes two and a half days of work. These well-built homes are safe and comfortable, with access to a bathroom. For many of the benefitting families, this is the first time they’ve lived in such a place.

“Truthfully, they say they never thought they could live in a home like that,” said Alan, the construction manager for the home building project.

Through a partnership with World Housing, new homes are provided to benefit CCF families for every home the company sells in western countries. The plan is to amp production up to 30 homes a month for a total of 300 homes in 2014. All of this comes together in the factory around the corner from CCF’s headquarters in the Steung Meanchey area of Phnom Penh.

If you think you can help why not donate…

https://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org/make-a-donation.html

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

90% of Scottish video producers filming theatre work still deliver on DVD

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90

I read in Broadcast Film&Video that Primera Technology a company that sells DVD burners had produced a poll that 94% of video producers still deliver output on DVDs.

I decided to do my own poll to find a very similar percentage (90%) still rely on DVDs to hand out to customers.

The 10% was internet and USB media sticks but this method was mainly for client approval.

Adobe obviously did not bother to run such a poll when they decided to drop Encore last year, Apple being Apple dropped DVD Studio many years ago but you can still make basic DVDs in FCPX which is better than nothing.

This is a bit like 4K in reverse, everyone is being pushed into thinking 4K is the way forward forgetting most people don’t have the workflow to cope with such big files.

There is a rumour that Sony can easily adapt Blu-ray to record 4K because they badly need a platform for people to record 4K onto, especially consumers.

surfing

Lets remember the internet as it stands is mainly used by surfers who do not want to spend their precious lunchtimes watching videos longer than about 2mins.

That brings me back to DVD’s, their popularity has evolved from ease of use and higher quality than the obsolete VHS/Betamax format’s, consumers like it or not have grown up with DVD’s as have their children, in fact most younger children watch DVD’s as a pacifier.

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Children’s dance shows are still being recorded all over the UK with 2-3 cameras, edited and produced onto DVD, there is no other method of delivery that exceeds the DVD for dance and theatre work.

DVD delivery in the central belt of Scotland is a massive 90%, you only have to ask the wholesalers who send out boxes of DVD’s in a regular basis to confirm this.

The end user is still reliant on DVD, like it or not, if you do not work for the general public there is a chance your DVD delivery is almost nil, local authorities are pushing all their video work online to save the cost of sending out DVDs, but many of my corporate clients are still happier with a “hard copy” on DVD.

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

Panasonic PX270 is now part of my kit

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PX270-on-plane

I don’t think it will come as any surprise to anyone who follows this blog to discover that I have finally decided to keep my Panasonic PX270 in favour of my JVC KY HM650.

The pictures from the PX270 are the best I have seen in a long time only matched by the Sony PXW-Z100 also a 10bit 422 camcorder but with 2 major differences.

The Px270 records very good low light footage at 0dB and records 10bit 422 onto SDHC cards, while the Sony Z100 is very poor in low light and only records 10bit 422 footage onto expensive XQD cards.

using-evf

The EVF is a joy to use and the fact it switches on when you put your eye to it is fantastic, remembering the LCD stays on all the time.

I did a wee test tonight after my 64G Transend SDXC class 10 U3 card arrived today waiting for my GH4 to arrive I decided to try it out in the PX270.

SDXC-64G

I find it strange that this card is not recognised at all in the PX270 and won’t even format…the Panasonic GH3 had no such problems and formatted it with no issues !

PX270-LCD-web

I can only think that the PX270 needs a FW upgrade in order to use this speed of card yet it uses a very similar micro P2 card, my friend is a bit more cynical and reckons Panasonic is deliberatly excluding this card as technically its as good if not better than the micro P2 card, but 8 times less expensive !

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

Stolen Leica lenses from Red Dot Cameras, London

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Stolen-title

Over £30K in Gear Stolen from Leica Store here in the UK on the 24th April 2014

In some gut-wrenching news shared by Leica Rumors this morning, a sponsor of theirs, Red Dot Cameras, has had approximately £30,000 in gear stolen from their shop overnight.

There isn’t any information on the break-in itself, but what Red Dot Cameras has shared is a list of the stolen gear, which we’re including below. As you can see, these guys got some pretty high-end stuff.

If you have any information on this gear that’s been stolen or come across someone trying to sell it online, be sure to contact Red Dot Cameras on 0207 490 8444.

Red Dot Cameras, named after the Leica logo which is synonymous with quality, is located in London’s Old Street, just a five to ten minute walk from Old Street and Barbican Tube stations.

lens-numbers

 

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24p & Frame Rates tutorial “A must buy if you film in 24p”

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24p-title

After watching the tutorial I am far better versed in the frame rate that I usually avoid like the plague…25p ! This video was an eye opener and although made for the American market there are PAL references throughout the video.

On Wrightsville Beach Studios info it says… The problem with both You TUBE and Vimeo is that they cannot play the video back as 60p, so the differences in motion between the frame rates are lost.  We have you download the excerpts from the website so that you can watch it in 60p.

I downloaded the demo video and decided to buy it to make sure I was giving correct information…it’s a minefield and the one bit of info that gets me is the legacy 25i and to treat it as 50i on your timeline !

There’s no doubt about it, its the best £10 ($17) you will spend this year if only to get your head around 24p, 30p and 60p (24p, 25p and 50p PAL).

PS. I am on no commission for this I just think it was enjoyable and informative.

LINK… http://www.wrightsvillebeachstudios.com/24pFR.html

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

Stephen’s Story filmed with a Canon C300

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Stephen

I have been following this brave young lad over in Facebook and noticed that Stephen was being filmed with a Canon C300, a great choice of camera for interviews. The video is Stephen’s Story and what a Superhero this young man is.

We live by our tools like the C300 and make stores with them, the least we can do is donate to a worthy cause and make you appreciate life is not all about cameras and focal lengths.

c300

Please watch this video and donate to a great cause here is the link…

https://www.facebook.com/StephensStory/app_156218351098324

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

New lower price of £15 for Canon C300 or Panasonic AF101 720p video

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Canon-C300

New lower price down from £25 to £15 for the C300 and AF101 teaching video, find the details at “shop” above.

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

Under the Skin using One-Cam

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Under

Under the Skin, a science-fiction arthouse film that just crossed the $1 million mark at the U.S. box-office, is being sold as a spooky erotic thriller featuring Scarlett Johansson as a sexy alien invader on the loose in Scotland. That’s fair enough. Directed by English filmmaker Jonathan Glazer (BirthSexy Beast), it’s one of the more unsettling films in recent memory, combining an enigmatic story line (Johansson’s character is seducing men and then taking them prisoner for unexplained but clearly unsavory reasons) and genuinely weird imagery (her victims sink into a glassy black floor, then wake up suspended in blue fluid) with incongruously ordinary footage of the city streets where the main character picks up unsuspecting Glaswegians in a nondescript van.

It turns out that Johansson’s encounters with ordinary Scots feel realistic because they are real. Those city scenes were captured with tiny, inobtrusive cameras. Many of the people who appear on screen, including some of the men who chat up Johansson’s character, aren’t actors at all and don’t see the cameras. “Scarlett’s character was interacting with real people who were completely unaware that they were in a fictional film,” said producer James Wilson in an interview released by distributor A24Films. (Permissions were secured after the fact, of course.)

Scarlet

You might wonder what cameras the production used to accomplish that — tiny GoPro cameras, perhaps? Or surveillance cams from one of the big manufacturers like Sony or Panasonic? Well, the footage had to intercut seamlessly with the production’s main ARRI Alexa cameras, which were shooting ARRIRAW, so quality was paramount. It turns out Under the Skin used the One-cam, a new modular system developed by London studio One Of Us specifically for Glazer’s use on the film. “We were shooting half an hour unbroken takes of improvised dialogue with eight cameras simultaneously, which is like a feature’s worth of photography,” says VFX supervisor (and One Of Us co-founder) Tom Debenham in the video below. “We had to build a whole ecosystem that was basically all the components of a camera that could either be stuck together or separated and used in a number of different modular ways.” 

Glazer told The Dissolve that 10 of the One-cam systems were built, allowing multiple cameras to be placed in strategic locations for different scenes — embedded in a dashboard, mounted on a motorcycle, or hidden somewhere on the street. Eight cameras were hidden inside the van Johansson drives around Glasgow, allowing the production to catch spontaneous performances by non-actors in what cinematographer Daniel Landin described in an Indiewire interview as “a fairly seedy area.” They didn’t realize they were being chatted up by a movie star. “[The One-cam] is about the size of a household box of matches [and] you could fit 16mm lenses on it,” Landin told Indiewire. “The image we generated we ended up liking so much we would have shot the entire film on that camera if we could have made it rugged enough to withstand all kinds of weather.”

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Glazer was impressed enough by the One-cam’s performance that he gave One Of Us a testimonial: “Digital is too sharp and illustrative. There’s no immersion, no fall-off, no rolling off into black or color bleed. No accident. No alchemy. One-cam is the opposite. It seems almost chemical in how it photographs the image. For a digital camera, it has unprecedented texture and depth. It sees how my eyes see.”

The camera head weighs just 333 grams, or about 12 ounces, and can be tethered at a distance of up to 100 feet from the recording unit, which the company says is roughly the size of a 16mm camera body. The camera is rated at 500 ASA with a dynamic range of at least 9 stops in daylight. The Super 16 (one-inch diagonal) image sensor is a global shutter CCD, and the camera’s output is uncompressed 12-bit raw at a resolution of 2336×1752, recorded to SSD mags. One Of Us developed custom dailies tools to convert to Cineon-log DPX files or DNG and the signal can be monitored over HDMI or HD-SDI.

Glazer rode around in the back of the van, where the camera data was being recorded and where monitors were set up to show the output of all eight One-cam units. According to dailies provider Mission Digital, when the eight van-mounted cameras were all shooting footage, the production generated six TB of footage in a day.

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One Of Us handled VFX for the film, which was then finished at color-grading studio Dirty Looks, which is located in the same building. Custom color science was developed to bring the footage from the One-cam and the Alexa together in the editing room and to match look and feel in the Filmlight Baselight color-grading system. VFX were conformed as they progressed and integrated into the 2K grading environment. “Combining technical resources allowed a quick turnaround between creative departments and helped us deliver what this film needed,” said Dirty Looks’ Tom Balkwill in a prepared statement.

Colorist John Claude noted that Glazer wanted a very naturalistic look for the street scenes, but the film veered toward stylization in less conventional segments. “The blue ‘swimmer’ sequences, when one of Scarlett’s victims is under the pit, were quite challenging but made easier with Baselight’s matte-layer stack management,” he said in a statement. 

Balkwill described another scene, a golden-colored montage that incorporated 93 blended 2K layers as Johansson’s face becomes visible in the middle of the screen, and gave the Baselight a shout-out for its ability to handle that kind of complexity. “This sequence could only be finished with Baselight,” he said, “because each individual layer needed its own tweaks in stabilizing and grading.”

The resulting film is challenging and unusual, employing considerable technical innovation to support a formidable visual imagination. It’s in limited release in the U.S. and rolls out to more theaters this weekend.

Written by Bryant Frazer    www.studiodaily.com

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