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

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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

AVID Everywhere…almost for $49 a month !

Categories: Miscellaneous 5 Comments


Avid President and CEO Louis Hernandez, Jr. took the stage at Avid Connect 2014 to present the most profound, sweeping, and strategic product announcements since our inception.

His landmark presentation shows how the Avid Everywhere strategic vision can help everyone—from the largest media organizations to independent facilities, professionals, and artists—create and distribute the greatest, most inspired content in the world.

  • Streamline workflows and enhance collaboration using the MediaCentral Platform
  • Create, manage, distribute, and monetize content using cutting-edge applications
  • Deploy solutions with total flexibility, choice, and security

The first Avid Everywhere-inspired product offerings are available today—with much more coming soon. Now is the time to get on the platform.

HDW ” Adobe reached this point well over a year ago charging $45 a month for the whole suite, as far as I am aware you only get Composer for $49 a month but all will become clear on the 14th of May.

I am no great fan of the “subscription” way of buying software, Adobe tell us its a better way to keep the software from being pirated but as usual the pirates are 2 steps ahead and you can openly get CC on a pirate platform if you know where to look.

This is the last chance saloon for Avid but personally Apple’s FCPX has gained a lot more fans over the last 6 months with many Premiere hopefuls reversing their decision back to FCPX.

I will be interested to see where AVID go with this on the 14th but I personally think they have missed the boat…we shall see.


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

An insiders view of VJ’s

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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.

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.


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


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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.

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

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

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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.


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…

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

Categories: Miscellaneous 6 Comments


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.


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.


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

Categories: Miscellaneous 8 Comments


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.


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.


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 !


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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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.



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

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

Categories: Miscellaneous 2 Comments


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.


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

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