Little leak from B&H.. ZOOM H5

I’ve stumbled across a leak from B&H photo detailing a new ZOOM handy recorder; H5.

Zoom H5 audio recorder

Will be interesting to see how this works with the current Tascam DR-60D and DR-100mkII recorders, however I do know the H4N does have a number of problems, maybe it was time for an upgrade.. It is a sigh of relief for videographers, bands, journos who don’t need the 6 channel power of the H6 but would like the option of external XLR/TRS microphone/device inputs.

Check out the article here – http://news.doddleme.com/equipment/zoom-announces-h5-handy-recorder/

A romantic video experience with Manfrotto gear (How to choose the right tripod and head).

When you start working with a piece of equipment time and time again, you build up a relationship with it; understanding its ins and outs, the fastest or best way to set it up. For me, I have this affinity with Manfrotto products.

Since starting out in video during university, I had invested in a sturdy Manfrotto 055Pro-B tripod and a fluid video head. 3 years on and to this day it proves to be a great piece of kit to have around; I use it for my custom built camera jib now so it lives in my boot with that!

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Through various university and freelance projects I used my trusty MF 055Pro-B legs, strapped tightly to a Lowepro backpack.. Not the most comfortable or lightweight solutions. The aluminium legs begun to take their toll when more equipment was required too, and as a videographer I had a bag full of lenses, audio kit and a monopod too. I occasionally used a Glidetrack slider too, which worked very well on the legs, and did not have to be spread really far apart or use any weights.

Check out a couple of my video’s featuring Manfrotto gear –

Manfrotto Backpack50 – http://vimeo.com/84398932

Manfrotto ML240 LED – http://vimeo.com/41688532

But, how do you choose the right Manfrotto tripod and video head for what you do?

Key points to consider – Budget is always something to keep in mind, it can get expensive!

– What cameras, lenses and accessories you will be using with it.

– Where/shooting situations; are you going to be traveling so need a lightweight option, or more corporate indoor, weddings, adventure.

– Are you working with video or photo, or both!

Budget – everyone should have a decent set of tripod legs and head that can be their go-to choice no matter what the client, production or location. This could be a heavy duty two-leg tripod with video fluid head for news/docu/TV footage acquisition – go for Manfrotto twin leg kit! But for photography you may consider a lighter option that can be grabbed and carried quickly – go for Manfrotto BeFree! Remember that a tripod/head kit should last you a lifetime so keep your budget in mind, and look for products and kits around £100-£150 for your first investment (no, I’m not suggesting you save up to spend £150, your budget is what ever you can work within so have a rough max figure that you would aim to spend – dependent of the following..).

Cameras, lenses and accessories – If you are a keen amateur, you may be working with small DSLR bodies and lenses; like the Canon 600D with an 18-135mm for example. This setup not weighing much tends to lean you towards a light, single leg tripod with a two way or ball head mount – 180X Pro B with 804RC2 head. However, for more professional setups; Canon 5D mark III and a 70-200 telephoto lens your looking at +3Kg of weight, so a more stable solution needs to be found – Lightweight Fluid System.

Shooting situation – If you are out and about all the time, a tripod with locking legs and extendable center column is a great feature to have; its great for getting very low angle shots while keeping the tripod steady, not to mention the ball leveling mount feature which levels the head without adjusting the legs. If you are the opposite, and work in studios and generally terrain free environment, a standard set of legs will be appropriate. Remember you can mount the tripod onto dolly wheels for easy motion and movement in a studio or indoors.

Video or photo? Generally video requires the use of moving or ‘tracking’ shots, where the camera focuses and follows a subject through a scene. Remember talking about ball and fluid heads? This is where they become important! A fluid video head uses liquid to smooth the panning and tilting movement when adjusting the head, creating smooth camera movements. This is not entirely possible using two-way or ball heads due to the lack of fluid in the head and a pan handle. It can be done, but be prepared to video a number of times to achieve steady movement! If you look further into video and movement, many equipment manufacturers have also created stabilizers that counter balance the camera’s weight, creating flying and smooth flowing movement!

For photo, as you are taking still images, the focus on being able to move the camera while the shutter is open diminishes, and the need to find and focus on a subject quickly, from many angles becomes key. This is where a ball head or two way head works best, allowing quick movement between camera angles.

manfrotto tripod video photo carbon fiber fliud head ball head mount manfrotto tripod video photo carbon fiber fliud head ball head mount manfrotto tripod video photo carbon fiber fliud head ball head mount canon dslr manfrotto tripod video photo carbon fiber fliud head ball head mount canon dslr

If you mix between both, producing work like timelapse, hyperlapses, long exposures and night time shooting, you should consider the weight of the tripod and camera gear together; will you need to weigh down the tripod to keep it steady, will the camera be subject to movement when using a lighter tripod and head? These factors will affect your image or video if not considered!

A great example; myself and Ashleigh were filming a wedding at Horsley Towers for John Harris Wedding Films and we got the message to setup and run a timelapse for the evening. It was windy out, not great conditions for a TL, and with only a Canon 60D and 15mm fish eye lens the setup was not at all weighty. After about 15 minutes I went to check on the TL camera and it was nowhere to be seen.. The tripod and camera got blown over (not damaged) in the wind. No more timelapse that day!

Hope that helps in your choice of Manfrotto kit to use! It’s always good to examine the details of your needs and what the product can do, to find the best solution. Remember if you start out with a single-leg, ball head setup and are looking to move into video in the future, you may need to invest again. Its not always possible, but try to future-proof your investment in case you have a change of heart in what you do.

The reason why choosing the Manfrotto 055ProB tripod and 701HDV worked so well for me is that I could use it on everything I worked on; from being my A camera support to supporting a camera jib and slider – an all round solution to my needs.

Back to the story.. After 3 years, it was time to move on. I had been researching equipment I would invest in, and sticking with the DSLR camera type my requirements for tripod legs and video head did not stray too far away from my original purchase. However, after experiencing carrying around all of the video equipment, and an extra bag for grip, it was about time I got a carbon fiber tripod to ease the weight issue. As I am a one man band videographer, I carry all the gear. So with a full camera bag, tripod, monopod, even a slider maybe, my options need to be lightweight but just as functional.

Manfrotto have gone above and beyond on the engineering of the 755CX3 and MVH500AH. Carbon fiber legs provide an ultra portable solution, able to hold loads up to 8Kg which is perfect for my Canon 5DmkIII, cine lenses, field monitor etc.

manfrotto tripod video photo carbon fiber manfrotto tripod video photo carbon fiber fliud head manfrotto tripod video photo carbon fiber fliud head

still from quiet sunshine by Adam Plowden Videography winter nature landscape stream water lake canon samyang

still from quiet sunshine by Adam Plowden Videography winter nature landscape stream water lake canon samyang

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The new plate mount on the video head is incredible too, and saves so much faffing around with the previously notorious screw to lock the plate in place. Now, the plate simply slides in from above, and a spring pings the clamp into place. A great innovation especially for use with camera rigs so you don’t have to bend down, find the screw to start unlocking the plate and camera to the rig. So, for fast shooting situations, the new head is a must!

The sad thing about all of this is that after searching through my old photos and videos I don’t have any; specifically featuring the Manfrotto gear! What I can say though, is for every single videoshoot I’ve worked on, my Manfrotto gear has been there, supporting me no matter of the situation. So I went out a shot some stills that I’ve included in the blog, and did indeed find pictures of the gear in action!

Camsmart MODA rig with canon 5Dmk iii

Lilliput monitor with the Canon 60D

Lilliput monitor with the Canon 60D

If you want to see more of my work featuring Manfrotto equipment, check out my vimeo page – https://vimeo.com/apvideography

They say you should only by a set of legs once, make the right choice, make it Manfrotto! Like this post? Share it!

Awesome day at Warner Bro’s Studios for BSC Expo!

It’s been a great day at the BSC Expo; based at Warner Bro’s Studios Leavesden the expo features the worlds newest and best cinematography technology and workflow solutions.

The journey was easy, I flew by Wycombe to pick up Glen and we made our way to the studios, then walked to C stage. We could see the Harry Potter studio tours in J and K on the other side of the lot, but it was huge!

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We took a slow stroll around the stands, it was great to see Rotolight who produce LED lights for photo and video. Their ‘Rotolight’ product is incredible for a pocket beauty light; due to its circular design the light gives soft overall coverage of the subject, and for models its perfect for achieving a ring of light in their eyes. As well as that, they have developed their own on camera microphone too, giving photographers and videographers alike an entry package, I’m very happy to see this!

The RED stand had the RED DRAGON on display, demoing the 6K, wireless focus and zoom, touch-control monitor.. I can’t wait til shoot with a RED package, think it will be be some time though!

BSC expo warner brothers studios cinematography expo RED camera dragon 6K BSC expo warner brothers studios cinematography expo RED camera dragon 6K

The Panavision motorized camera axis was a jaw dropper too, I was so interested due to planning on constructing my own as a DSLR gimbal solution. There is no way I could achieve the precision and accuracy of this device, but with some smooth stepper motors it is completely possible! (If you can’t buy it, then try making your own; it worked for me with a camera jib and camera rig!).

BSC expo warner brothers studios cinematography expo panavision BSC expo warner brothers studios cinematography expo panavision

And no, we weren’t at the Harry Potter Studio tour…

BSC expo warner brothers studios cinematography expo harry potter studio tour

As Bucks New Uni is on the way back to Surrey for me, we stopped by Wycombe for a drink in the SU, the last time I was there we were completely smashed.. “F****ng absinthe death” aye Glen!!

BSC expo warner brothers studios cinematography expo bucks new uni wycombe SU BSC expo warner brothers studios cinematography expo bucks new uni wycombe SU

Awesome day, so happy I got to see Glen too, thought I was going to have to wait until March!

For those interested in visiting BSC: GO, it is a great expo completely for cinematography so think cameras, lenses, grip (steadicam, jibs, cars etc), lighting (and plenty of great LED innovations from Digital Sputnik and Chroma Q) so definitely check it out!

Capturing local beauty

Film making and videography isn’t all about big budget productions with expensive kit. Its great to take time out to see what stories you can tell and images you can capture in your local area.

Luckily for me, I live in Surrey which is full of green spaces. My chosen location for today’s adventure was Epsom Common, I used to and hope to continue fishing at the lake. Since being a kid I remember it being a beautiful place in the winter, so despite the recent flooding I made my way down!

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Accompanied by the awesome Manfrotto 055 Carbon Fiber tripod and 055AH video head; my grip was sorted in a lightweight solution. I took my whole kit bag in case I wanted to record some foley audio or shoot on a range of lenses. I tried to stick to the Samyang Cine lenses I have (14mm, 35mm, 85mm), so I can test them out on a range of shoots. I also came across a 72mm variable ND filter that fits onto the Samyang 85mm, which means I can achieve T/1.5 and a beautiful bokeh in broad daylight.

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As you may have previously read, I also installed some new picture styles on my camera from VisionColor, today I used Cinelook to see what the footage looks like out of camera, without grading. So far, without adjustment the picture was punchy with a good colour tone present, not flat and neutral like I previously used. It certainly has given the footage a baked in ‘look’ while recording which will definitely speed up the post-production process.

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It was great being in the outdoors, I often spend way too much time on the computer and neglect our very green, rural backyard, which deserves to be appreciated, remembered and captured in moving image.

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I’ve processed all of the footage now, using most of what I shot. It is simply put to music, in this case the serene 1:1 by Brian Eno, which was very fitting for the scene. I have applied no colour correction, grading or effects to the clips whatsoever, to demonstrate the cinematography at hand.

I will post the link up later!

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I hope you like it, and please share around!!

All new promo video is out now!

Now SWPP is over for me, I am free to release the ‘Behind The Scenes’ videos I shot down in Falmouth! Here is the second video; a model videoshoot using Canon, Manfrotto, Elinchrom equipment.

Please like and share 🙂 http://vimeo.com/84036470

Strategic grading with ‘burnt in’ footage.. Canon/Manfrotto/Elinchrom Promo for SWPP Conference 2014

I continue to work on the promo videos for Canon/Manfrotto/Elinchom today. After shooting the material in a ‘neutral’ picture style, there was still a lot of contrast, sharpness and saturation in the image. This has caused a couple of problems with the adjustment of the levels and colours when grading.

Burnt in footage is where detail is lost due to a crushed dynamic range, out of focus picture, or a mis-interpreted colour balance (and plenty more). This footage is notably harder to work with due to the loss of detail; and when you come to colour correct or grade the shots, life becomes more difficult as hues and light levels are burnt in to the image. Applying numerous filters and effects to remedy this can only add noise and grain, and degrade the footage so it is important to remember to flatten the image before shooting!

Even with a neutral picture style selected, the internal settings for contrast, saturation etc sometimes remain the same, so remember to go into the picture style settings and set them all to the lowest. This will achieve a flat picture which is much easier to work with in post. For those who don’t wish to apply heavy corrections or grading to your shots, shooting in neutral will work fine too, just add contrast when editing to remove the gamma grey curve and punch out the sharpness!

I’ve had to resort to black and white images for some shots due to burning in detail in low light shooting situations.

Here are some example frames of what I have been working with, and how I have graded them.

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pregrade frame canon manfrotto elinchrom promo video Copyright Adam Plowden Videography 2014

postgrade frame canon manfrotto elinchrom promo video Copyright Adam Plowden Videography 2014

These are the frames from the second video. I was in a studio conversion for the MUA part, and Bjorn’s place for the shoot. White balance wise it was cool, and when shooting directly into the the window I got a lovely hazy light effect.

pregrade frame canon manfrotto elinchrom promo video Copyright Adam Plowden Videography 2014 postgrade frame canon manfrotto elinchrom promo video Copyright Adam Plowden Videography 2014

pregrade frame canon manfrotto elinchrom promo video Copyright Adam Plowden Videography 2014 postgrade frame canon manfrotto elinchrom promo video Copyright Adam Plowden Videography 2014

pregrade frame canon manfrotto elinchrom promo video Copyright Adam Plowden Videography 2014 postgrade frame canon manfrotto elinchrom promo video Copyright Adam Plowden Videography 2014

We shot the first part at Gylly beach in Falmouth with Carly who runs an extreme fitness group called BootyCamp. Going for a gritty, filmic look for the gym part I used negative bleach bypass. For the beach, I tried to add some drama to the already crashing sea, unluckily for us it was freezing cold so we weren’t up for staying there for long.

Captured with the Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC, Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 OS, Samyang 14mm T/3.1, 35mm and 85mm T/1.5. Post production in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 and graded using the in built colour correction tools and Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks.

When all the components to my new editing system arrive I am going to be transferring the grading workflow to Adobe SpeedGrade instead of Magic Bullet due to its ease of use, features and tools for cinematic grading as well as having an accelerated 2GB GPU with CUDA graphics… 😀

The videos will be released next week on Vimeo, so watch this space for updates! If you can’t wait until then, get down to SWPP on Saturday where I will be showing the video with Bjorn and talking about working with video on DSLR!

This gives you a bit of an example of what I’ve done to work with footage that has some lacking detail, creating a visual style to convey the subject of the video.

Interested in more of what I do? Check out my website, follow me on twitter, watch my videos! Oh and please share my blog and website if you can 🙂

Got any questions? Send them my way!

Stills Copyright Adam Plowden Videography 2014.

 

Manfrotto Backpack50 Video.. It’s taken its time!

I’ve finally got around to working on the Manfrotto Backpack50 product video that I shot back in November with Glen and Sam. I made the most of the beautiful ‘golden hour’ to capture unique images of the product in use. The shoot location was our usual hotspot for kit testing; Epsom Downs.

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The Backpack50 is an insanely good bag, dedicated to protecting your prized possessions and increasing your productivity when out on a photo or video shoot. Aimed at both professional videographers and photographers; the bag features plenty of space for multiple camera bodies, lenses and telephoto lenses. For the on-the-go editor, you can also carry a laptop and a tablet with you, as well as strapping on a tripod. Your complete equipment in one bag. One solution.

I’m editing the footage in Premiere Pro, to achieve that awesome bokeh I used a Nikor 50mm F/1.4 manual lens and shot handheld, so I will be applying some stabilization to those shots. Because of the strong sunlight, I worked with that light to determine the exposure of my subject, Glen. Essentially putting him in a silhouette, defining his and the backpacks shape. For the ambient settings I was working with, I believe this worked well, and is a good technique to try when shooting in the golden hour!

However, when working with low contrast ratios (number of stops between black and white) it is easy to over or under expose parts of the image, which not only burns in detail but can cause problems when encoding and playing back the video, so remember to check your reference monitors and keep to legal limits!

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More to come later!