audio-technica PRO 24-CM DSLR camera mic £105

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I was having a browse round my local Calumet Pro Photographic store yesterday and noticed a neat DSLR camera mic the audio-technica PRO 24-CM. I have a policy that if I report on HD-DSLRs then I must own one to make sure I am giving you my own angle and not hear say from other blogs.

The first thing that strikes you is the need to switch on the mic now that is not a problem in itself but when I tested it I forgot to switch it on ! Opps but just think about the consequences of that most basic of mistakes, filming a wedding let’s say…as long as you have sound from another source like a Tascam DR-100 all is not lost as you can slip edit the sound into sync.

You have no indication that you are recording sound nor do you have a headphone socket…so you can start to see why using such cameras at a very important event like a wedding is fraught with dangers. The AT mic is better than no mic and is better than the Canon’s built in mic but remember it does not improve your sound.

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

DSLR basic wedding kit

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So if you take Philip Blooms DSLR wedding advice and decide to use two Canon 7Ds you are looking at a minimum spend of £10,370…remember you will need to buy Canon L glass if you intend to get full benefit of the shallow depth of field as cheap glass is soft when fully open. A big minus to having to buy “L” glass is not the glass itself but the 1.6x APS sensor…your 50mm f1.2 becomes an 80mm f1.2 and so on.

Your weddings will become a nightmare… forget the initial cost, I get serious moaning from various colleagues who are still in the wedding game about the time it takes to edit their weddings and this leads to a severe editing bottle neck trying to satisfy customers waiting 6-8 weeks for their DVD.

The other major problem you have is your second cameraman, you may have time to get used to the 7D and it’s quirky way of working but you also have to rely heavily on your 2nd cameraman being as good as you and in my 25 years experience that does not happen, no one is as good as you…or so you think. Not to mention an extra wage and what if the 2nd cameraman is not available due to illness…you are up the creek without a paddle.

The other problem with a 2nd person is focus and exposure…DSLRs are bad enough to use but getting critical focus is a nightmare and a lot more effort than video, exposure…well lets see how many over and under exposed shots your 2nd cameraman produces,bad enough using a video camera wait till you use this baby !

The video by “stillmotion” filmed with 3 DSLRs was not filmed on a measly budget so are you also willing to up your prices to compensate in the middle of a recession not to mention your cowboy friends charging £300 a wedding ! Strangely these DSLRs have one of the worst rolling shutters in the industry but it’s not that obvious in “stillmotion’s” video clip. See this link

hero_1_largeRemember it wasn’t that long ago when you were all using film adapters to get the same look and where is that thriving market now ? Take my advice stick to video till we get past this stupid DSLR stage you will kick yourselves if you spend £10K upwards this year and Canon bring out a film look camcorder during 2010. RED Digital Cinema are working on a budget film look camcorder called “Scarlet” at just over the £8K price bracket during 2010.

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

Snow Leopard Bug Responsible for Loss of User Data

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Late last week, 9 to 5 Mac noted that a number of users have reported a Mac OS X Snow Leopard bug apparently related to Guest accounts that is resulting in a complete loss of user data. The problem appears to manifest itself on machines which had the Guest account option enabled under Leopard and were subsequently upgraded to Snow Leopard. Users booting their machines have reported that upon start-up, they have been logged into the Guest account. Upon switching to their regular account, the affected users have been finding all of their user data missing and unrecoverable except from a backup.

Further investigation revealed initial reports of the problem in early September, soon after Snow Leopard’s launch.

This could be due to a bug in how guest accounts are managed since data and settings are deleted from these accounts upon logout, but also could be from some corruption in the guest account. So far, it does not seem to be a widespread problem.

If this happens to you, immediately restore using your latest Time Machine backup (or other full system backup), and then go to the Accounts system preferences and disable log-in on the guest account.

One suggestion for preventing data deletion is for users who had Guest accounts enabled under Leopard and then upgraded to Snow Leopard to disable the Guest account and then reenable it. This results in fresh Guest account settings created under Snow Leopard, reportedly eliminating the problem.

Several threads on the issue have popped up on Apple’s support forums, but Apple has yet to make an official acknowledgement of the problem.

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

Weddings and the DSLR

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phyllis + adam // same day edit from stillmotion on Vimeo.

My main problem using a DSLR at a wedding is the photographers reaction when you produce a camera almost identical in spec to his then trying to explain it’s for filming !

I spent over 15 years filming top end wedding videos for clients and finally pulled out five years ago but the biggest bugbear at any wedding was the photographer. During my last 3 years filming weddings I would take a digital photograph of the happy couple and ask the photographers permission or if I knew he was a pain in the ass I would wait for him to leave then get my picture. The picture was used for the DVD cover shot.

Convincing the photographer is just one of many problems you will face using an HD DSLR…

Filming time is limited to 4GB (Canon 5D2) then the camera will stop filming automatically, remember you can film 4 x 4 chunks of 4GB on a 16Gig CF card but what are you going to miss when the camera stops 4 times. This is far from satisfactory in my books can you imaging loosing part of the vows !

TASCAM-DR-100Sound is a nightmare we have a camera that produces crap sound so bad that you are forced to use an external device such as a Tascam DR-100 now that is fraught with danger. You have many things to do at a wedding and remembering to switch on the sound unit just before the bride comes down the isle is playing with fire. The battery may run out, you may forget to put it into REC mode then you have a major problem because you wont be able to rely on the camera sound !

Extra time is something you don’t want in an editing situation, weddings take long enough to edit, the best part of two days the last thing you need is adding to this and I can assure you by the time you have finished editing a wedding with your HD DSLR you could add an extra half day converting 30p to 25p and as a colleague of mine found out recently MPEG Streamclip a program used by many Canon users does not transfer frame for frame leaving you with horrendous sync problems leaving you with Compressor which as you know takes an age to render lots of clips.

Weddings are a one off where you get one chance to get it right so don’t burden yourself further with technology that is in my opinion is not fit for purpose… and is nothing short of a phase, I hate to say it but when Japan wakes up to the film look we will get a proper film look camcorder and this nonsense of using a DSLR will be at an end. RED are producing such a camcorder called Scarlet but at about £8K plus may be out with most of your budgets.

I have seen far too many badly produced wedding videos in my time to set loose a further band of cowboys who think the Canon 5D2 is perfect for filming weddings.

On a more positive spin I came across a wedding edit by “stillmotion” in the USA using one Canon 5D2, two Canon 7Ds and is quite remarkable, steadycam, tracking shots you name it…have a look.

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

AJA io HD FCP-7 Drivers still Incompatible Week 12

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

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My son has just started his own blog called give him some traffic if you are interested in football.

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

Matrox Releases Support for Snow Leopard

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Drivers now available for Matrox MXO2 family of I/O devices and Matrox CompressHD H.264 encoder card

Montreal, Canada – October 7, 2009— Matrox® Video Products Group today announced support for Snow Leopard across its line of Mac I/O and H.264 encoding products including Matrox MXO2, Matrox MXO2 LE, Matrox MXO2 Rack, Matrox MXO2 Mini, and Matrox CompressHD. The version 1.7 software implements 32- and 64-bit support for the new Mac OS X v10.6. It is now available as a free download from the Matrox website to all registered users.

“The timely release of this new software upgrade underscores our commitment to provide Matrox users with the support they need to get the most from their creative tools,” said Wayne Andrews, product manager at Matrox.

About the Matrox MXO2 product line for the Mac

The Matrox MXO2 series of affordably priced HD/SD input/output devices streamline editing and content creation workflow with Final Cut Studio on MacBook Pros and Mac Pros. Matrox MX02 Mini provides portable high definition HDMI and analog I/O; the new Matrox MXO2 LE provides HDMI, SDI, and analog I/O; Matrox MXO2 provides complete HD/SD I/O; and Matrox MXO2 Rack provides rackmountable HD/SD I/O. The MXO2 devices are also available with Matrox MAX technology for faster than realtime H.264 encoding.

About Matrox CompressHD for the Mac

Matrox CompressHD is the first implementation of Matrox MAX technology in an amazingly affordable H.264 accelerator card. It works in systems with or without a video I/O device and extends the life of current systems, giving users the power to deliver today’s premium H.264 formats faster than ever. It’s a low profile, half-length PCIe x1 card that fits into Mac Pros and Intel-based Apple Xserve systems

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

The Flexible OLED Display Laptop

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If you are like me you will appreciate this short demo video, I want one today !

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

AJA & Apple keep professional users waiting 11 weeks and counting…!

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Here we are once again …week 11 since FCP-7 was available still no drivers for the AJA io HD…this is becoming a joke…if you can’t fix the problem give us all a refund or give us some idea when your so called engineering department will get their act together.

UPDATE…I have spoken to an AJA representative tonight and he did not give me any timeline for these drivers but gave me an indication that Apple and seven AJA engineers are working to make this happen. This unit relies heavily on Final Cut so I take from this that there are bugs with Final Cut Pro 7 that need attending to before the AJA io HD drivers can be finalised.

Having spoken to various members in AJA over the last 4 weeks they have all been very pleasant but due to some legal agreement with Apple can’t divulge the true state of play or give us a timeline for the drivers. This has also been the longest driver update in AJA’s history and it had to be the io HD !

You can be assured that when we see these drivers they will work with FCP-7 & Snow Leopard.

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

Format War…”Just as tape takes stage left”

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Format-War-V2Here we go again just as tape takes stage left we are back with the same old problem…deciding what format to go with…again ! Don’t these companies ever learn, surly the battlegrounds of dead tape formats would be a hint that we are not interested in going to war again.

Now that I have embraced solid state for myself here is my professional leader board of importance…




Breaking this down I have been using the SxS format for almost two years now and thanks to the boys in Australia have been using the MxR adapter for 8 months. Just in case you have been in a ca-coon for the last year… SxS is Sony’s solid state card used in the Sony EX-1 or 3…as you can see from the price above a 32GB SxS card will set you back £632. I have to mention here that if you are going to over crank which is an old film term for running your frames above 25/29 frames per second (fps) causing a slow motion effect when played back at 25fps/29fps, you cannot use the SDHC cards as yet.

EFilms_hdr_cam_insertMxR (eHDR, eLCR) is an adapter for SDHC cards which inserts into the Sony EX-1 or EX-3. The adapter costs £40 and a Transend class 6 SDHC card costs £85… totalling £125 against Sony’s £632 !  Sony as if you didn’t know do not recommend this route for obvious reasons but I reckon over 85% of EX-1/3 users use the MxR adapters.

So unless you are going to film a lot of slow motion (Over cranking) you do not need to use the SxS card . I only use 16GB Transend Class 6 SDHC cards and at £30 a card I now have a reliable way to archive my days filming.

NONE of the above companies have thought about client hand over, that’s obvious when you see the prices of the media which is a strong suspicion why more companies don’t use HD and continue with DVCAM.

Archive… this has been completely missed off the map…It’s the major factor that companies like Sony and all their brain power had not properly researched when trying to convert tape users to solid state. Over the years tape users have become creatures of comfort…comfort in knowing that if all else fails you can access the original camera footage and start again from scratch, this “comfort zone” is missing with expensive solid state media, you can’t even keep a camera copy, yes you can back up onto 2 hard drives but this waists a lot of time and space in my opinion and is by no means a safe solution. SDHC is cheep enough to allow archive and Sony still don’t recommend using SDHC simply because they did not think of it first !

Price…well what can I say… even the broadcasters are looking after the pennies these days so charging silly money for these cards means your product will not have the same uptake…Panasonic can vouch for this with their previously ludicrous pricing of the P2 media.

So with Ikegami/Toshiba coming in with their 32GB GFPak at £950 not to mention the GFCAM at £20,000 upwards…I think they are holding onto prices that companies will no longer pay and to testify to this Creative Video nor Preston Media have this camcorder on their web sites, so if you can’t sell the GFCAM camcorder you are not going to sell any GF media either !

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

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