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!

New supercomputer is built!

I’ve been waiting months to finally have a computer that can handle the work that I do!! Previously working on laptops (which coincidentally die each year) I needed to step up the game to a high performance desktop which will expand my capabilities in not only video editing, but also motion graphics and compositing.

I got myself an i7, NVIDIA 650TI 2Gb graphics card and all the rest to allow working speedily in Adobe applications (taking advantage of the mercury playback engines) and also allowing me to use Speedgrade and DaVinci Resolve for professional colour grading as the new graphics card is CUDA enabled!! My workflow speed will go through the roof!

Throughout all of January, the components dribbled in one by one, until it was only the PSU to come. Amaz0n buggered up my order, which I was expecting in 2-4 weeks. The order then got pushed back another 2-4 weeks, which I was furious about, so got on to Amazon support who clarified the ‘warehouse’ issue.. Everything is computerized these days so I don’t understand how a major marketplace cannot get there warehouse stock levels and back order numbers right!!

I cancelled my order with Amazon, and put it through Scan instead, who delivered the Corsair 1000w PSU in only 2 days. Top service!

Being impatient (eager), I wanted to get the new computer going as quickly as possible so I begun assembling the components in the case. I had never done this before so the nerves were running riot, washing my hands every couple of minutes to make sure I wasn’t getting grease or dirt on the motherboard. It was stressful, but I managed to get most of the bits it, bar the CPU and hard drives.

Yesterday Sam helped me put together the rest of the components and the cabling, and the building of my new workstation – could not have done it without him!

newcomputer blank canvas The blank canvas of my computer.

Now all I have to do is fill it up with my work and data, install Adobe and then I can get working!

Video Questions; Choosing the right camera, picture profiles and using ND filters!

Heyo all! Thanks for sending in your questions, I will try to answer as many as I can will practical, real world examples! If you have any more, please send them my way!

Question from Chris via Facebook: “Can you recommend any camcorders for HD video and good low light performance?”

Answer: A DSLR for video is not the right choice everytime. Why do you think television broadcasters use camcorders and system cameras? For broadcasting, there are regulations and legal limits that must be followed for the final video to be shown live; there are many including the compression of the video signal, the black and white level (check out waveform monitors and video signal) to name a couple. DSLR’s do not adhere to these regulations hence we don’t see TV crews running around with 5D’s in London.

Where DSLR’s produce a great image due to the large CMOS sensor, they have big restrictions such as needing to change lenses, poor audio support (unless you invest in audio equipment), rolling shutting, aliasing, moire.. I could keep going.

So, taking camcorders in the equation; most have long zoom ranges (20x and more!) at wide apertures, with additional digital gain, in built ND filters, built in stereo microphone and audio in/out. The sensors are different too, some using CCD (which splits the 3 colour channels) for better colour rendition and less compression.

These days, manufacturers such as Sony, Canon, JVC produce ENG (electronic news gathering) camcorders with those above features, meaning no extra kit to carry, most are hand held or shoulder mount for ease of use. Therefore it is seemingly easier to video on a camcorder, until you require a large sensor camera for artistic video.

Product recommendations for camcorders – Sony AX and VG range, Canon Legria, XA and XF range, JVC produce great camcorders too and have stepped up their game over the last year with the GM-HY range including a 4K model too.

If you want to spend a little more, the Sony HXr-NX3 (recently reviewed by Den Lennie) looks incredible for what you get in one camera – http://www.sony.co.uk/pro/article/broadcast-products-get-close-up-hxr-nx3

Next question from SAHIB on Twitter: “Do you use a neutral picture style when shooting, and do you use neutral density filters?”

Answer: For those unaware of picture profiles on your camera, check them out in the 3rd section of the movie shooting (red) menu (for Canon users). There are a number of options listed, which alter the way the picture is recorded depending on your choice, you can also customize these profiles too using the INFO button.

Canon picture styles – Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome.

I will not be detailing the ins and outs of all the picture styles, more of a visual comparison.

What does a picture profile do? Much like LUTS, picture styles adjust the intensity level of the; Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation and Colour Tone in the image, so what picture profile you use can change the ‘look’ of the video you capture.

Check out this video I put together today showing the results of the cameras picture profiles, and others I have loaded onto the camera. You can see a clear change in the image, but it is subtle differences that will make your video work stand out.

https://vimeo.com/85655816

I previously used the Neutral picture profile, customized to reduce the contrast, saturation and colour tone to produce a very grey and flat image. I was using this profile to achieve this look, as it is how RAW footage is captured to then be graded in post production. Neutral does replicate this ‘flat’ look, but after doing research into other profiles, Neutral reduces the data that is required in the picture (the contrast and saturation) that I would then put back in in post. This causes noise to be generated in the image, and can cause it to look unnatural and crushed, as the contrast and saturation that had been removed by the picture profile is being added back in later in the workflow.

That was long, but I hope it makes sense. If you compare the ‘Standard’ to ‘Neutral’ there is an evident drop in saturation and contrast, with a loss of detail in the top of the trees. If you compare ‘Neutral’ to ‘VisionColor’, there is an increase in saturation and contrast in the shadows and highlights.

The ‘Neutral’ picture style, similar to Technicolor CineStyle reduces the data the sensor captures, so I would not recommend using it if you plan to do colour correction and grading in your workflow. REMEMBER – whatever you capture when out filming will ‘burn in’ the detail, colours, sharpness and contrast into the image, making it harder to edit and remove unwanted errors. So, it would be better to use a profile that holds the data and detail so if wanted, you could work on grading the footage later.

From tests and experimenting, I favor the VisionColor profile; it is not as destructive as Neutral, holding colour and contrast without making the image flat. I definitely recommend checking them out here.

Next Question from SAHIB on Twitter: “Can ND filters change the style of video?”

Answer: This does depend on what and where your video shoot is. If you are working indoors, or with lighting that can be controlled by you then neutral density filters may not be required as you can alter the brightness of the scene by reducing the intensity of the lights. However, if you’re out filming in a situation where you have little to no control over the lighting, then ND filters are key.

Personally I use variable ND filters, currently from Polaroid but much better filters are available from Hoya & Tiffen. The function of these filters is to reduce the light entering the lens, meaning camera settings can be kept the same. This allows you to follow the 180 degree shutter rule, which means keeping your electronic shutter speed at 1/50th to reproduce film-like and realistic motion blur.

So, with your shutter speed locked at 1/50, and your chosen aperture has been set, the only other exposure altering options you have is to ride the camera ISO to make the image brighter or darker.

PROBLEM!

With a fast aperture of F/2.8, and you are currently shooting in sunny daylight, your image is going to be very over exposed. Reducing the aperture to F/8 or F/11 may correctly expose the image but you have lost your depth of field! What to do!

Get some Variable ND Filters!

These ND filters rotate, allowing a variable ND amount to be set externally, without changing your cameras settings! This means that you can keep your cinematic depth of field and realistic motion blur without reducing the shutter speed to 1/250th or your aperture to F/11.

I recently shot this video using an ND filter on an 85mm T/1.5, which allowed me to shoot continually at T/1.5 for extreme shallow depth of field.

Making a quick edit: Variable ND filters are one of many options. ND Filters also come in stops; increasing by a factor of doubling so 2, 4, 8 etc. If you can stretch to separate stop ND filters they work just as well, and with the lower end (under £100 products) they will be better quality than one under £100.

In videography and cinematography, ND filters are applied in the matte box in front of the lens. So if you plan to use one, look in to matte boxes with the ability to add filters, but prepare to pay for it!

http://vimeo.com/84790518

Well, that covers Video Questions for today! I hope to have answered and covered all bases, and remember they are from my personal knowledge and experience.

Got any more? Send them my way!

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.

pregrade frame canon manfrotto elinchrom promo videopostgrade20

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.

 

Colour grading to achieve a ‘gritty’ yet cinematic look.

As you know I filmed some great material for a Canon/Manfrotto/Elinchrom promo video, which is going to be shown at The Societies SWPP conference next week.

Todays challenge was to grade one of the videos; here are a couple of screenshots to show you what I was working with. The first is my first grade, which I then changed shown in the second.

grading in magic bullet for canon promo video

The colour balance was not good in the gym that we were shooting in, so try and overcome the warm/green hue I applied a blue tint to the image, as well as adding negative bleach bypass to give it that film process look. I then adjusted the grade, removing the blue tint as throughout the clips it did not look good all the way through. I then added a knock of contrast to enhance the colour and depth of the image.

grading in magic bullet for canon promo video

The video will be available to watch possibly next week or the week after!

Golden Hour – Manfrotto Backpack50

Another snap from the shoot today for Manfrotto’s new professional bag for photographers and videographers “Backpack50”.

edt1

Manfrotto Shoot #2 “Backpack50”

Manfrotto’s all new Backpack50.

There will be much more later, its been a long day! I took the photos on my Canon 60D and Nikkor 50mm F/1.4 manual for a beautiful soft background to complement the autumn colour tone, landscape and chilly weather at Epsom Downs!

What is GAMMA? Colour Correction Advice!

When out capturing footage, how many of you use the ‘Standard’ picture style in your camera? Do you shoot ‘Neutral’, ‘Cinestyle’ or ever RAW? It is always interesting to find out, as the workflow and manipulation of the footage is different depending on your input video signal.. Did you burn in your brightness and contrast, or did you give enough dynamic range to push and pull your shadows and highlights when colour correcting and grading in post production?

As I capture my footage on a Canon 60D, it records in compressed .MOV format, which is not great due to the compressed signal. However, by making your image ‘flatter’ or what looks like hazy and grey, you are able to add or remove detail that may have been baked in during acquisition.

A little case study for you, take my footage that I am working on currently. Here is a screenshot of a clip before I took it into Premiere Pro –

post1

I then colour corrected or ‘graded’ the clip using a couple of the video effects built into Premiere Pro, namely the ‘Luma Corrector’ and ‘Three Way Colour Corrector’ to perform the basic exposure and colour balance corrections.

Where using the ‘Luma Corrector’ has its advantages over using the ‘Brightness & Contrast’ or ‘RGB Curves’ effects is that the ‘Luma Corrector’ allows you to adjust the Gamma level of the image. Gamma being a extra luma curve that is added to the image after the sensor captures the data which allows the image to be constantly correctly exposed when played back on old school CRT displays. Now, these displays are not so common these days, but it is still a standard practice to apply a gamma curve to the processed video signal.

The advantage of increasing or reducing the gamma using the ‘Luma Corrector’ is that it removes the ‘flattened’ or neutral look to the image, while still retaining a constant contrast, resulting in a sharp and nicely graded shot. Here is another shot of the Luma Corrector and Three Way Colour Corrector being used on the same clip as above –

post2

I hope this example demonstrates the advantage of capturing your footage a neutral setting to get the most out of your final product!