ProPrompter now iOS4 Tested

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Finally the best APP for prompting has just been updated today and is iOS4 Tested. A bug was found that crashed the iPhone part of the system rendering it useless. I ran some tests early this morning and it now works fine.

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

RED v DSLR “Are RED focusing on the wrong cameras”

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Two days ago RED’s Founder Jim Jannard made the following statements…

“I fully expect the DSLR mfgs to get it right at some point. Make a non-line-skipping 4K camera. At that point, the difference will be RAW 5K and 6K vs. whatever they make. Until then, a line-skipping 1080P camera is just not in the running for a pro camera. Can you make OK images with a line-skipping 1080P camera? Sure. Should you be embarrassed? Yes. We are not in that business.

I saw the Canon commercial about shooting “motion stills”. They should be ashamed. Just try to take a still from their motion 1080P capture…

The only difference between us and the rest of the industry is that we are talking along the way. If we kept silent about the process and our targets, we would be just like the others. I now can understand why they do it like they do. But I still prefer to keep an open dialog.

As I understand it, Red will never go “head to head” with the DSLR market. It will be cutting it’s own path a few hundred miles up the road. Comparing a Red camera to a currently available Nikon or Canon is just plain… well… ludicrous.

Again… we have no intention to be the biggest camera company in the world… only the best”….Jim Jannard

HDW : Although I will never own a RED camera I am a big fan of RED because it’s the first camera manufacturer to keep everyone informed as to the development of it’s products, no other manufacturer has been this open with ongoing development of any products EVER…!

Only at NAB this year did the worst offenders open their tightly shut lids to reveal two film like camcorders in development, Panasonic and Sony. This was a first for both Japanese companies revealing products in advance of the statutory preliminary data sheet. Panasonic have revealed further details only last week and a proper picture of the up and coming AF100 camcorder.

Panasonic are coming round to the fact that the more snippets they show people the bigger the hype becomes and by sale time everyone wants an AF100 at £5000 (My price not Panasonic’s).

This is getting away from my original blog…I was never under any allusion that any DSLR could touch the quality the RED camera produces therefore the argument is a non starter, I do however think that RED should be targeting their anxieties at Panasonic and Sony who are about to enter the FilmLike marketplace with camcorders that are built for purpose unlike the DSLR.

Tools for the job…If you can’t afford any more than £2000 and want a Shallow Depth of Field (SDoF) then you have no option to go down the DSLR route. If you need a more professional camera but don’t have an endless pocket you are looking at the Panasonic or the Sony (late 2010). If on the other hand money is no object you have many choices including the RED cameras.

SDoF is a look…but you pay dearly with critical focusing and probably a lot more retakes than you would using a video camera. I think we are going to enter a new phase come December 2010 when Panasonic brings out the AF100, the main decider will be price, remember you will be buying a body only so that takes a good £1000 off the price but in my opinion Panasonic need to get the price below £5000 taking into account the large following and uptake of the DSLR at £1500 average prices.

Personally I believe the uptake of the DSLR is mainly due to two key points…Price and lenses. Price because everyone from media students upwards can afford them and if you were a keen photographer like me you already own the lenses. The majority of us have only seen DSLR footage on the net and lets be honest £300 cameras with 720P movie mode look good on the net.

The debate will rumble on DSLR v ?  Once we see more SDoF camcorders on the market place at keen price points the DSLR debate will diminish to the point that Canon will drop the “Movie” mode altogether and that will cause another internet rumpus…mark my words.

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

Video Review of the Sony PVM-740

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[xr_video id=”2a6c7b2939b744a69b2c7dbc219f02f9″ size=”md”]

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

SD Association “Set to confuse”

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The SD Association announced today two new high-speed performance symbols for the fastest SDXC and SDHC devices and memory cards. The first symbol identifies products with businterface speeds up to 104 Megabytes per second for greater device performance. The second symbol identifies SD memory cards and products with a performance option allowing real-time video recording.

The sheer variety of high-performing, feature-rich devices has dictated the need for a wide variety of SD memory card speeds and capacities to maximize device performance and meet consumer expectations. With more than 2.5 billion SD memory cards in the market today, the new high-speed performance capabilities will co-exist with earlier SD memory cards still used by consumers, as those cards are still interoperable with the newest host devices.

New SD memory cards and devices bearing the following new performance symbols may now begin entering the marketplace:

The new Ultra High Speed (UHS) symbol can be found exclusively on SDXC and SDHC products. SDXC or SDHC products with the UHS-I symbol offer the fastest bus-interface speeds available today, capable of supporting data transfer speeds up to 104 Megabytes per second. UHS-I quadruples the existing maximum possible speed of 25 Megabytes per second. UHS bus interfaces are backwards compatible. SDXC UHS-I and SDHC UHS-I memory cards achieve greatest performance when paired with a UHS-I device and allow consumers to record HD resolution videos, plus perform other simultaneous recording functions.

The new UHS Speed Class symbol can be found exclusively on SDXC UHS-I and SDHC UHS-I products. UHS Speed Class 1 designates SD memory cards and products with a performance option designed to support real-time video recording. This symbol will be found on SDXC UHS-I or SDHC UHS-I memory cards. Consumers can realize the full potential of recording real-time broadcasts and capturing videos using a digital video camera by pairing their devices with UHS Speed Class 1 memory cards.
The existing Speed Class symbols for non-UHS SD, SDHC and SDXC products are Class 2, Class 4, Class 6 and Class 10. They refer to the minimum write speed performance of the memory card. The symbols may be found on memory cards and devices, including video and digital cameras. For greatest performance, users should pair their devices with the corresponding SD memory card. The Association has created two videos to show best uses for the variety of SD memory cards available today; to view, visit The Association also offers an online resource,, for users to explore the variety of SD memory cards types for new and existing devices.

“The world-leading SD memory card standard has increased the value, usefulness and longevity of consumer electronic products by allowing consumers to easily upgrade their devices to meet their needs and budgets,” said Paul Ritchie, executive director of the SD Association. “The new high-speed symbols are designed to make it easier for consumers to take advantage of the massive storage and incredible speeds offered in SDXC and SDHC products.”

HDW : Fantastic we now have two new symbols to confuse us and we are back at the number “one” after reaching class “ten” for video in todays cards. What the hell are they playing at who sits down and thinks of these stupid ideas…not someone who works with this media that’s for sure.

If it’s capable of recording HD then whats wrong with having the letters HD on the cards and as for the transfer rate use the number 104 then we know at a glance what the card is capable of…I can think of a few choice names for the meaning of the letters SD Association…the first one being STUPID…!

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

Alister Chapman’s PMW-350 Scene files

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HDW : Every now and again I get asked how best to set up a Sony PMW-350 camcorder my advice is to follow Alister Chapman’s superb instructions on how to adjust the camcorder once you get it on the bench, it’s far too sharp out of the box and in my opinion quite unusable.

Alister “I decided to write a more detailed post to continue the discussions on scene file settings for the PMW-350. This is a work in progress. Some of this may also be of interest to other camera users as I hope to give a basic description of what all the various settings do.

First off let me say that there is no “right way” or “wrong way” to set up a scene file. What works for one person may not be to anothers taste, or suit different applications. For me, my requirements are a neutral look, not over corrected or too vivid, but retaining a pleasing contrast range. I hope, as this thread develops to explain a little bit about each of the settings and what they actually do in the hope that it will make it easy for you to adjust the scene files to suit your own needs. I hope others will jump in with their suggestions too!

So… on to the PMW-350. Out of the box it’s really sharp. The camera has full 1920×1080 sensors, so even with all detail correction turned off the image is still pretty sharp. However most viewers are used to seeing picture with some detail correction, so if you turn it all off, to many it looks soft. If you were going for a really filmic look, detail off and aperture off would have to be a serious option. For my customers though a little bit of subtle “zing” seems to be what they like.”

I found that these settings worked well for general all-round use.

Detail Level -14
H/V Ratio +20 (helps balance horizontal and vertical resolution)
Frequency +35 (makes the edges thinner, if your doing a lot of SD you may want to go the other way to -50 so that the edges can still be seen in SD)
White Limit +35 (limits brightness of white edges)
Black Limit +30 (limits darkness of black edges)

Aperture -20

If you are doing a lot of grading and work with low key scenes (large dark areas) you can use the level depend and crispening settings to help prevent “detail” being added to any picture noise. This makes any noise less apparent.

A starting point for this would be:

Crispening +35
Level depend +20

For normal light levels these are not needed with the 350 IMHO. If you are shooting with more than +6db gain then raising the level depend to +60 will help with noise.


So my Gamma Choices are:

For material that will be post produced: Hypergamma 4609 (HG4)

For material that will be used straight from the camera: Standard Gamma 5 Knee at 90 with clip at 108% for non broadcast or Knee at 88 with slope +20 with white clip at 100% for direct to broadcast.

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

Film the future

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

It’s hard to contemplate how film has lost favour over the last year or so to what is effectively…video. RED ONE is being used more and more in place of film, television has opted for the “35mm” adaptor look with many hi-end productions like Dr Who being filmed with Sony F35s and nightmare health and safety issues !  Is this to save money on hiring a jib or was this episode re-named the tripod from hell  !

At this moment in time there are many film makers making lo budget video films with HDSLRs once again digital and ironically from a stable of cameras that were once famous for 35mm photographic film. Digital has turned the stills camera on it’s head introducing HD video as the lesser side of it’s photographic features. Because Canon, Nikon etc will not compromise the cameras photographic nature which is it’s priority feature we get less than acceptable niggles when trying to use the camera for something that it was not seriously intended for…filming !

Kevin Shahinian’s “City of Lakes” knocks my theory on it’s head with a wonderful 28 minute film shot entirely on HDSLRs and some stunning camerawork.

Kevin…”There are so many ways to tell a story…

And so much a wedding symbolizes. So many questions it tends to raise: What is love? What is faith? It was our hope to explore these themes in a far more dramatically engaging way than we felt possible in a traditional documentary… Perhaps there is more within this story then meets the eye.

In the fall of 2009, Melissa & Samir embarked on an incredible journey to Udaipur, India, to fulfill a lifelong dream of having their wedding in the country of their ancestry. This transcendent place, affectionately called the “CITY OF LAKES,” located in the breathtaking region of Rajasthan, would be the setting for their extravagant, three-day marriage celebration, and the backdrop of our unprecedented film production – shot entirely on-location. We believe this to be the first ever live event/scripted concept production ‘hybrid’ film ever produced on this scale. It was shot entirely on DSLRs, the Canon 5D Mark2 and 7D.”

View on ExposureRoom

What does the future hold, sadly film has become very expensive to produce and in these hard times producers are not willing to run to these costs so we are going to see a lot more “FilmLike” films made with shallow depth of field digital video cameras. It took long enough for the penny to drop but the video manufacturers are fighting back with their own FilmLike video camcorders poised at the lower end of the marketplace though I have no doubt that we will see these camcorders being used all over the video and film industry before long.

Panasonic were the first company to announce such a camcorder and by all accounts looks feature rich bringing back all the professional features you would expect from a true FilmLike camcorder like XLRs, various lens mounts and a decent viewfinder. Don’t expect this camcorder to be a competitor to RED or ARRI but at it’s price point, below £10,000 they will sell in their thousands and the best news is that you can turn your 5DMk11 back into a photographic camera and use the lenses with the new AF100.

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

Breaking News “Panasonic AG-AF100 AVCCAM film like camcorder”

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The AG-AF100 is a professional AVCCAM Series HD camera recorder equipped with the Micro Four Thirds optical system commonly used in digital single lens still cameras. It directly accommodates Micro Four Thirds digital single lens still camera lenses, and an adaptor can be used to mount 35 mm film camera lenses and prime lenses. This lets you capture a wealth of film-like images with distinctive lens characteristics, like a shallow depth of field and an attractive soft focus. Designed for stable camera work, the AG-AF100 is packed with functions and specifications that combine comfortable operation with superb images and extended recording times. It features HD-SDI output and mic input, remote control terminals, and versatile system interfaces that you normally find only on professional camera recorders.

The AG-AF100 also offers PH mode recording to deliver optimal AVCHD image quality in multiple HD video formats — including 24p and 30p. The variable frame rate enables slow/quick motion recording. Use the AG-AF100 to produce videos with stunning image quality, such as music, promotional, TV commercial and other short productions.

A 4/3-inch Image Sensor with Digital Still Camera Technology
The same digital single lens still camera technology that’s gathering widespread attention for its innovative motion image techniques, has been applied to this camera recorder.
The 4/3-inch MOS image sensor, with an imaging area similar to that of 35 mm movies, lets you easily shoot film-like movies with the shallow depth of field and soft focus of a film camera lens.

Micro Four Thirds Lens Mount
A wide variety of lenses for Micro Four Thirds standard digital SLR cameras can be used for shooting movies. With the mount adaptor, it is also possible to mount

Extended Recording in AVCHD High-Quality PH Mode
The AVCHD recording format used by the AG-AF100 includes a professional PH mode with maximum AVCHD bit rate for stunning image quality. Two SD card slots allow continuous recording for up to 12 hours* in PH mode and up to 48 hours* in HE mode with two SD (SD/SDHC/SDXC) cards on board.
*Using two 64-GB SDXC Memory Cards.
Multi HD Format and Multi Frame Rate
SDXC Memory Card (64GB)
Comparison of image sensors Left: 4/3-inch, Right: 2/3-inch
35mm film camera lenses and prime lenses, to render images that maximize lens characteristics.

Multi HD Format and Multi Frame Rate
SDXC Memory Card (64GB)
Comparison of image sensors Left: 4/3-inch, Right: 2/3-inch
35mm film camera lenses and prime lenses, to render images that maximize lens characteristics.

The AG-AF100 records in 1080:59.94i/50i/29.97p/25p/23.98p or 720:29.94p/50p/29.97p/25p/23.98p with its multi HD format. When recording in 720p mode, you can render movie-like images with effects like slow and quick motion. The Dynamic Range Stretcher, Gamma Select and other image features have also been inherited from previous Panasonic professional camera recorders.

A Professional Design with HD-SDI, XLR and Other Interfaces
The AG-AF100 features HD-SDI output, XLR audio 2 channel input, and other interfaces that are typically found on professional camera recorders. Time code recording also supports precise video production. In addition to its compact, lightweight body, the AG-AF100’s professional camera recorder design with grip, handle and large viewfinder firmly support reliable camera work.

HDW : This is the business… finally we get a preliminary spec sheet for the AG-AF100 FilmLike camcorder from Panasonic, this spells the death of the limited love affair some of us have had with HDSLRs and I take my hat off to Canon etc…that without their intervention camcorders like this would not even be on the drawing board let alone available later this year. Personally I think this will be a biggie for Panasonic and they should be diverting all their efforts to this camera and away from 3D. The 3D market is tiny compared  to the FilmLike market which has swept the world…but beware Panasonic do not get greedy and set the price of this too high or you will loose out on a very lucrative market.

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

iOS4 is now available but “beware do not update if your APP is not iOS4 tested”

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As usual I am the crash test dummy for new software and low and behold the first thing I discover is that iOS4 has broken ProPrompter…my most useful professional APP that syncs from the iPhone to the iPad. As soon as I discovered this I emailed Peter and his team at Bodelin Technologies.

ProPrompter is the best piece of prompting software on the iPhone and it’s a shame the new iOS4 has broken it…when you launch both Prompter softwares on the iPad and the iPhone and try to sync them the iPhone version crashes out. This will be fixed and I hope very soon the plus to all this is that the iPad and iPhone seem to find each other a lot quicker with the new iOS4 installed.

Advice if you are using ProPrompter with the iPhone and iPad do not update your iPhone to iOS4 till a fix is released.

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

Broadcast Engineering’s take on the HDSLR

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

SONY PMW-EX30 firmware upgrade “A must if using SDHC adaptors”

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There is a new firmware upgrade that was announced at NAB 2010 but is only being implemented now and mainly affects the use of SDHC cards but adds the ability to be able to use 32Gig SxS cards. If you have an EX-30 and use it as a recorder read on…

I have a colleague who mainly films theatre shows using an EX-30, EX3 and an NX5. He runs the HD SDI cables out of the cameras into a Panasonic HS400A HD SDI switcher then an HD-SDI cable into the EX-30. This gives him fantastic picture quality and keeps the wide shot sharp as the SDI cables have no loss in signal over 100 meters. His achilles heal was the EX-30 …although sticking to Transend 16G SDHC cards via SxS adaptors latterly  he was getting error messages about the cards needing restored or needing formatted.

This nearly cost him the 2nd half of a theatre show and came to me pulling his hair out. I told him there was a firmware update for the EX-30 which brought the SDHC cards into line as they were not officially recomended media in firmware v.1. He took his machine along to Mitcorp in Glasgow where he had purchased it and they updated the firmware for about £130.

Since the update he has had no recurring error messages and as he told me “£130 well spent”. So if you have an EX-30 and use SDHC card adaptors I must recommend the new firmware update otherwise you will be stuck if someone brings you a 32G SxS card as it won’t play it. As a further note H Preston Media have just had all their current stock of EX-30s updated this week so if you are thinking of buying one from anyone other than H Preston Media ask if it has the new firmware update first…if it hasn’t you will have to send it back to a Sony approved service centre to have it done and may incur an extra £130 for something that in my opinion should be free.

I am informed that after this update any further upgrades will be done by the end user this is a further new feature to be added by the new firmware.

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

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