Five things I wish I knew when I started as a videographer….

Five things I wish I knew when I first jumped into the creative videograpy adventure that is my life:

1. It does not matter what camera you use, invest wisely in reliable glass.

Entitled ‘F**k with nature and nature f**ks with you’, after previewing it appears it loads as a playlist, so please skip down to the bottom! Shot on my first DSLR; Nikon D5000 and 17-50mm F/3.5 -5.6, a uni project.

2. Work for free (yes, it’s the only way you’ll generate enough video content, but you’ll make friends, have a good laugh, experience terrible mistakes and awesome times).

Produced by Adam Plowden Videography, edited by Joe Bannister. Shot on Canon 60D, Tamron 17-50, Canon 50mm F/1.8, Canon 18-135mm

3. Fix it in post doesn’t exist, in fact, trying to fix it in post can do more harm than good (at least with low budget DSLR productions like mine still are.. For now..).

I had to return to Sian Williams’ house because I had over exposed a shot, and didn’t get good enough sound during her interview.. Produced by Adam Plowden Videography, ‘Behind The Scenes’ uni project and mini web series.

4. Think of the sound and the light, our primary senses for absorbing content.

A quick example video shot for my Manfrotto Takeover seminar showing the use of sound and light in short video drama to add emotion. 5DmkIII, Samyang 35mm, Tamron 24-70

5. Be yourself and create things that inspire you.. IE: Put you in your work. Copying other artists doesn’t make you stand out, you can learn from them and implement your flair and style into whatever you do. That way, when you begin to get clients you know they are interested in not just what you make, but the person behind it.

A personal favorite is filming plants and nature, a good excuse to get away from the computer! ‘Waterhouse’ produced by Adam Plowden Videography.

Bonus tip. It is kind of included as part of No.2: Collaborate and work with others from different mediums; actors, musicians, vfx artists etc. It is how new ideas are generated!

SYNC is HaZ Dulull’s new short film, I worked with him as well as DP Adam Batchelor on the production! It is backed by Blackmagic Design, Adobe, HP and more so give some support!!!

 

Adam and Glen 1st day in Amsterdam for IBC 2014! Taken on a disposable camera by Glen Symes.
Adam and Glen 1st day in Amsterdam for IBC 2014! Taken on a disposable camera by Glen Symes.

I hope these little tips will serve you well, a shout out to Dave Beck at Avenger and John Harris at John Harris Media too I couldn’t have done it without you! And Glen and Sam. Much love.

 

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New summer post coming very soon!

It’s been an extreme summer season! From epic weddings with drone flying to creating the videos for The IABM for IBC, it has been immense.

Epsom and Ewell from the air, Adam Plowden Video
Epsom and Ewell from the air, Adam Plowden Video

Now nearly 9 months since starting Adam Plowden Videography properly, I am over the moon with the great clients and people I’ve worked and am working with.

I still have a number of productions on the go, and I will be attending The IBC Show in September so there is much more great stuff to come!

Massive shout out to the team over at Manfrotto who have been a great help with sorting out equipment for my travels abroad!

Keep those creative juices flowing!

What a WILD weekend!

It’s been another busy one!

Firstly, let me welcome all of the new followers to my blog! Thanks very much for liking previous posts and I hope you enjoy the future content and bits I post up here 🙂

Time is drawing closer to the Manfrotto Takeover at Park Cameras in London, I am preparing my seminar these next coming weeks so it would be great to answer any questions you may have about equipment, videography and post production; please get sending them through, and I look forward to seeing you on the 30th but remember to register!

Manfrotto Takeover!

Manfrotto Takeover

Here are some videos I’ve checked out this week for some inspiration;

The style of this animation is 2D yet very much 3D in its shading and motion.

Incredible BTS showing how OKGO made their viral one shot music video.

This hilarious video is definitely up there to watch, both on the comedy and the shooting.

The wild weekend began with a trip to Norbury Park near Leatherhead. I’m usually one to take my camera everywhere, but I vowed against it this weekend as I (strangely speaking) wanted to get to know my iPhone camera better!

Out Geocaching with Glen, we got a number of caches along the River Mole and up towards Great Bookham. I really recommend trips like this, especially if you are stuck behind a computer for long hours.. Getting out and walking has proven to boost creativity and the imagination! So, armed with my iPhone I snapped away using the camera app, it is a challenge to get the exposure you’re after with this basic camera!

Panoramic Box Hill Mickleham Surrey iphone photography country silhouette iphone photography daisies and sunset bookham silhouette walking iphone photography

 

On Saturday I headed up to Nether Winchendon House with Rob to film the wedding of Lorna and Lauri. The grounds of the house were stunning, a long, treed driveway leading up to three arches. Rob captured some great aerial footage on the drone and I shot from the ground.

back of nether winchendon house oxford bicester stunning wedding venue filming iphone driveway leading to nether winchendon house wedding filming iphone oxford bicester beautiful long driveway leading to nether winchendon house wedding filming

I used the Manfrotto 755 Aluminium tripod and the Edelkrone Slider+ v2, accompanied by the Samyang Cine primes and Tamron 24-70 on the Canon 5D mkII.

The flowers were beautiful;

peonies lavendar and mint bride bridal flower floral bouquet wedding film peonies lavendar and mint bride bridal flower floral bouquet wedding filming

The rain was not.. But didn’t put a dampener on the day! Despite the rain, Lorna made it to the church for a beautiful ceremony in the village. They lead the wedding party on foot back through the country lane to Nether Winchendon House for the rest of the day! Set in a stunning location, every detail had been considered from unique signposts to bean bags and a life size Stig. The intricacy of flowers in jars, photographs and bouquets hanging from a ladder in the barn, stunning to see and wonderful to film too.

Nether Winchendon House barn wedding reception breakfast room panoramic flowers table decorations wedding filming

It was a dream wedding on the filming side, and I’m sure there will be a highlights video very soon of the day!

On Sunday, after getting back quite late from the wedding I headed out to Friday Street (in between Dorking, Guildford and Horsham) for the day with Glen. We are quite lucky living here, in the way that forests and rural life is only a short distance away, and I like to make the most of it! We were out Geocaching and playing with Glens new remote control helicopter, which then instantly made me want a drone.. I guess a £1000 spend for the drone, gimball and GoPro equates to a £20 hand sized RC Heli, right?

foxglove wooded path friday street geocaching walk iphone photography lake near friday street geocaching walk iphone photography silver berch glade friday street iphone photography

Monday rolled around pretty quickly, and I was having withdrawal symptoms from not filming or photographing anything when I was out on Friday and Saturday.. So come Monday afternoon I was back at Friday Street getting some filming done of the lush green forest that surrounded me! I used the Manfrotto 755CX tripod, Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 OS, Rotolight Roto-mic and a few more lenses.

friday street nature landscape forest woodland photography friday street nature landscape forest woodland photography friday street nature landscape forest woodland photography friday street nature landscape forest woodland photography friday street nature landscape forest woodland photography canon dslr video filming sigma 70-200 rotomic manfrotto tripod

This week I’m working on the Soundbox studios opening video that I shot a few weeks ago, it will be edited to their flagship artists new single by Rebecca James. It’s going well, going for the black and white look as it works well with the dark studio atmosphere that they had going on 🙂

It was shot on the 5D mkIII with Samyang cine lenses, Flycam and the Edelkrone slider+ v2.

Soundbox music recording studio opening day video filming highlights

Remember, send over your video questions to get featured in my Manfrotto seminar, and share your work with me too!

Behind the scenes of yesterdays Wellbeing videoshoot!

06:30

Kit bag, check.

Audio kit, check.

Lighting, check.

Brain, just about.

bts early morning sky

Yesterday I was out filming talking heads and some b-roll for a Wellbeing project on behalf of EEBC. Wellbeing is our general mental and physical health, but there are many factors in the way that we live that can affect our chances of developing serious health problems in the future. These include some sensitive subjects, that I was capturing to provide an information base for those in the community that may be suffering, or have friends and relatives of those diagnosed with; Cancer, Coronary Heart Disease, Dementia and Diabetes.

I was featuring nutritional expert Yvonne McMeel throughout the videos, so I began by planning my main piece to camera with her in the Wellbeing Centre.

This was a standard video shoot, so I packed my kit bag to be prepared with whatever the day would bring! This included;

VideoCanon 5D mkIII, Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC, Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 OS, Canon 60D.

AudioZoom H6, Roto-Mic, Sennheiser ENG-G3 100 wireless.

Grip Manfrotto 755CX3 tripod + MVH500AH, Manfrotto 190Pro-B (old version) tripod, Super clamp and magic arm.

Lighting – Daylight balanced 85W studio light with soft umbrella.

Extras – Lilliput 1018 (I am currently testing out and reviewing this product).

behind the scenes videography equipment

I took along the Lilliput 1018; the new flagship 10 inch touch screen field monitor, which produced crisp pictures and well represented colours. I ran this on a F-970 battery with HDMI through from the 5D, so I could monitor both. This did however cause the camera to heat up quite quickly. However, the monitor has awesome features usually found on high end products which include; exposure and focus peaking, on screen waveform monitors, levels and much more, which came in very handy for assessing the quality of the picture. (More coming later regarding this product).

behind the scenes make up artist Char1 behind the scenes make up artist Char2 Char doing her make up thang!

I began setup at 9am, shortly followed by Char the make up artist who set up her bits. The location for filming was the Wellbeing Centre, which as a wonderfully bright open facade with big doors and windows. Luckily enough, blaring heat and sunshine poured through the windows, so that was my key light at slightly cooler than daylight colour balance at 5200k. This also matched the daylight light fixture I was using to add a fill and kick to the subject.

 

Why did I use a 2-point light setup?

I could have rocked up with the intention of using just the daylight and the incandescent lights in the centre with the mentality that it will illuminate my subject well, but there are risks you have to be willing to take if you approach lighting in a casual way. Some points to remember when thinking about lighting your subjects;

  • Are they defined from the background?
  • Do they have harsh shadows on their face?
  • Moving sunlight will change throughout the day, in brightness, direction and colour.
  • bts wellbeing light setup

Now, when you haven’t been to the location before it is difficult to judge the lighting conditions, so firstly if you can have a RECCE of the location. It is very beneficial as you can begin to compose the scene, judging the internal and external lighting, now noisy the environment is, whether you will need a backdrop instead of a plain background.. All points to consider before you turn up with the camera kit and begin filming.

Defining the subject from the background is what makes them look 3-dimensional and not flat, this is the same for the shadows too as it shows that features are visible on the face. With DSLR’s it is possible to use depth of field to define your subject from the background, but lighting can also be used to ‘pop’ the subject out of the BG.

Harsh shadows are caused by strong direct light, and are unwanted as they mask features and don’t represent the subject properly, unless this is the effect you are looking for. For piece to cameras and interviews having soft shadows around the nose show the features of the subject, again making them look real.

The sunlight is your best friend and worst enemy at the same time… As the Earth rotates, we move further away or closer to the sun which changes the lights direction; if you start filming in the morning with your subject lit from the front, by 12 noon the sun is over head and by the late afternoon the light will be behind you. To combat this, keep continuity by filming at the same times each day, or even simpler be aware of the suns direction and gradually rotate the subject and other lights to keep a constant illumination. For me, I was filming from 11am through to 15:00 with the sunlight to my left for the whole day which was very beneficial, but not every time will I be that lucky!

Watch out for clouds that can block the sunlight, and be aware of how the colour temperature of daylight changes throughout the day; cool in the morning and warm in the evening. For me, shooting in midday sun meant a constant temperature of 5200K for both cameras, matching the other light.

The use of a kicker or fill light, pushes out the shadows caused by the key light (the sun), and gives a halo effect to the hair of the subject making them stand out. The difference is subtle but effective.

 

Camera Setup and Composition

Once I had my lighting up and running, it was time to set up the cameras and audio equipment. I was going to shoot using the Samyang 35mm T/1.5 cine lens, but this would result in being intimately close to Yvonne, the subject, which would be quite off putting and may add shadows/interference such as me rustling papers to the recording. Instead, I used a telephoto lens as I can be a good distance away from the subject, and create a narrow field of view that frames up as an MCU (medium close up).

My main A camera was the 5D mkIII, and although the Sigma lens can open up its aperture to F/2.8 for shallow depth of field, this was not required for today. Instead, the camera was set to F/4.5 for a still shallow depth of field, but deep enough for the subject to move forward and backwards in the frame a little, and to de-focus the background. The ISO was set to 200, although when the Sun disappeared behind clouds I would ride the ISO to 250 or 320 depending. To stick to the 180 degree shutter rule, the electronic shutter remained locked at 1/50th.

The B camera was the Canon 60D, I paired this with the sharp Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 and shot wide open, again riding the ISO when required. I did this because this camera was capturing a wide shot of the subject, so depth of field was not noticeable. To keep continuity, both cameras were set to a white balance/colour temperature of 5200K, but it appears that the 60D picture is slightly yellow/green than the 5D picture.

behind the scenes camera dslr audio setup light

Audio

The often forgotten partner to the pretty pictures you see, having top quality audio is just as important as having your subject in focus and exposed. I used the Zoom H6 as my recorder, with the XY mic attached to capture one stereo recording. I also used the Sennheiser ENG-G3 wireless mic kit, attaching a lav/lapel mic to the subject which would be my main audio source. As a back up I also used the Rotolight Roto-Mic plugged into the 5D just in case. Remember to take headphones so you can monitor the sound recording, just like you would use the cameras screen to compose the picture.

Behind the scenes wellbeing video shoot adam plowden videography canon 5D lilliput

The filming went brilliantly. As a precaution I decided to use the ‘record to multiple card’ function in the 5D so I had a back up of the footage in case the cards got corrupted from such long recording times. As mentioned earlier with the lighting, as the light slowly changed, I also adjusted the position of the kick/fill to push back the shadows.

I was very impressed with the Lilliput 1018 field monitor too, and although it is larger than monitors I would usually use the touch screen control and diverse functions suited the shoot well, so I could keep a close eye on the changing light levels.

After the principal piece to camera filming was complete, I ventured out into Epsom and Ewell with Yvonne to film some b-roll pieces that would add to the information and dialogue about wellbeing and health. So, we visited Shadbolt Park outdoor gym, Ewell Court Library, Epsom’s Derby Square, we were going to hit the market but by that time it was 17:30 and no chance of finding fresh fruit and veg to film.. We returned to the car to go to the last location, Epsom Downs, when this happened…

adams broken down car

My car broke down. The filming day abruptly ended with a call to my insurers for recovery, while I also arranged a taxi for Yvonne to take her to the train station. That didn’t put a dampener on the day though, I had captured great video and dialogue that I hope will help many people in the borough and wider community who may be suffering with cancer, heart disease, diabetes or dementia.

I then ingested the footage, and backed up a whopping 80Gb of footage and audio.. Lots to edit through, but thankfully those wonderful geniuses at Red Giant have a tool called Pluraleyes which can sync video with externally recorded video, so suddenly the issue to matching up the audio to the video disappeared, saving me potentially hours of work!

pluraleyes un-synced A bunch of un-synced video and audio clips gets transformed into this –  behind the scenes pluraleyes sync video

Pluraleyes then allows you to export the sequence as an XML that I then imported into Adobe Premiere Pro to edit! It’s ready to go!

 

Overall, very happy with the footage and the outcome of the first day! I need to get out and shoot some more cutaways/b-roll of healthy food, socializing and some more bits and bobs to add.

Working with the new Panasonic GH4

We had another toying test day yesterday, with new glass too; the Panasonic/Leica 25mm F/1.4 (equivalent to 50mm F/1.4) and the Panasonic 100-300mm F/2.8 (equivalent to 200-600mm F/2.8). We keep finding great features and little things that make this camera wow us!

 

We were out filming and testing out the capabilities of the camera at Epsom’s Thai festival taster, we used the 14-140mm F/3.5-5.6 OIS lens recording in 4K. The video will be uploaded and shared soon!

Testing out the new Panasonic GH4

There have been three new arrivals at JHWF HQ this morning, three beautiful Panasonic Lumix GH4’s!

panasonic gh4

I’ve had the opportunity to check out the GH4 at Park Cameras a few months ago, so today was a great opportunity to get proper hands on with the new camera system!

We didn’t have time to do a proper test, so I took a few shots to demo the 4K at 100Mbps AND the 1080p 50fps features that are currently exporting in Premiere now.

Out of the box, holding the camera using the viewfinder seems so natural for video, as well as the OLED live screen which produces a clear as day image with overlays.

Using the stock lens 14-140mm F/3.5-5.6 (equivalent to 28-280) the image was sharp, with very minor chromatic aberration at 140mm. I am used to a ‘full frame’ look, but remembering that the Arri Alexa has a similar sensor size the the GH4, what lacks in the stock lens can be gained using the wide range of primes available for M4/3 mount.

The OIS stabilization was actually incredible. This being hand-held, the shots were very shaky at the long end, but the OIS did a brilliant job of stabilizing the image.

Another fab feature is the variance in recording formats, whether you are shooting on a green screen, or footage that is live streamed, the data rates are manageable and not small enough for heavy compression meaning grading the footage should be a breeze. (In my test video coming very soon I have NOT graded any footage).

Things to make note of: If you are going to purchase a GH4 but currently shoot with Canon EF lenses, do not worry. Lensadaptors have developed a M4/3 to EF adapter, there is also one from Blackmagic to Nikon G mount, and rumors are circulating that Metabones are working on a direct M4/3 to EF lens as we speak!

Well, there will be LOTS and LOTS more to come as I continue to play and test out the GH4 so watch this space!

panasonic lumix gh4 4k footage export

BASIC TEST VIDEO –