Silence is golden

I’ve been quiet on the old WP blog recently, this is only due to a migration from my old website to a new system with Squarespace, which has allowed me to import my entire blog from here, into my new website!

I won’t be closing this blog/account, so I am still reachable with your messages and comments, but I will be posting from my new website at www.adamplowden.com so please go and check it out!

Keep those creative juices flowing, much love 🙂

Adam and Reikjmuseum Amsterdam

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Filming a wedding on the Panasonic GH4

It was an early morning, up ahead of myself and Glen was a wedding at Wasing Park, Berkshire. A venue that I have never shot at before, I had no idea what to expect, but armed with the GH4, Metabones Speedbooster and fast lenses I was sure to capture the couples day in style.

The style lacked in my ride.. Quentin, my 15 year old Corsa is having major clutch trouble so amongst the effing, blinding and aggressive gear changes we rocked up at St Pauls, Wokingham. In the pouring rain.

It was an exceptional service, the mister was wonderful, one of the best I have had the pleasure of worked with, as were the the stunning couple.

In the church I had a strategic position up ahead of the couple shooting down, so on the 35-100mm F/2.8 & GH4 I framed a great shot of both the bride and groom with a stunning bokeh in the background.

One benefit of shooting on MFT is that the depth of field is greater than full frame, as in you can position more subjects in the depths of the composition (Z-space, slightly further back or forward) without them being blurred or distorted by bokeh in the background if you’re shooting very shallow.

So, in this scenario I was able to get closer to the couple by using the GH4 because of it’s 2x focal length multiplication with the MFT sensor, as well as framing a gorgeous close op of the bride with the groom still in focus.

 

After the ceremony, and a damp confetti shot we headed to the reception venue Wasing Park. That was not before having to open up my bonnet 3 times to try and adjust my clutch to actually be able to put in into first gear….

A long drive up a winding country entrance road lead to what I am thinking to be an old manor house and farm, which is now a wedding and event venue in between Reading and Newbury. Thank you sunshine for making your appearance as we arrived at the venue! As it is now October now, mother nature gave the cue for a cold wind, so in essence there was a chill in the air at this wedding despite a warm golden hour.

The GH4 dealt brilliantly with mixed white balances from indoor tungsten light in a pavilion and autumnal daylight through wall-size french windows, and the sweet spots around 4300K, a medium DoF and increased focal distance provided a comfortable filming style, while staying intimate but unobtrusive.

Coming to the speeches, I shot on a 12-35mm F/2.8 for a wide and 35-100 F/2.8 for an MCU of the speaker. This is probably the only place the GH4 has a downfall, it is definitely not a low light camera like the A7s, and with a heavily back-lit and mixed white balanced setting the camera struggled. In a situation of changing exposure and white balance it is always better to carry on recording rather than continually cut, adjust the settings, and resume filming as in the edit it will be easier to achieve continuity across the shots in one scene.

For the first dance, my magic arm broke.. So I was down to one camera, while Glen was shooting a reverse angle on the 12-35mm and Sigma 18-35mm F/1.8 ART and Metabones Speedbooster. We struggled with light, so I used an LED light panel to push some fill in there, for both myself and the photographer.

Overall a great day, the GH4 is definitely geared towards videography and filming with its variety of video-orientated features such as levelling, zebras, peaking and 4k of course, but it struggled in the low light and creating that big bokek look that so many of us have been accustomed to.

The highlights should be up in a couple of weeks and I’ll share it then!

Kit list:

Panasonic GH4 x 5

12-35mm F/2.8 x 2

25mm F/1.8

70-200mm F/2.8

Sigma 18-35m F/1.8

Tamron 70-200mm F/2.8

Metabones Speedbooster

Zoom H2N x 3

Sennheiser ENG100-GH3

Manfrotto CX-3, MVH-700, Magic Arm, Super Clamp

 

Shout out to Paul Rogers, the photographer we were working with today. It was great working with Paul, and his documentary style of photography I believe will result on some nice photos.

Thinking of making the jump to 4K?

You are in the same boat as me.. Having bought my 5D mkIII last December, there was no accessible 4K option until the Panasonic GH4 made its appearance in the Spring.

I was devastated. Having invested heavily in Canon gear, any future move I make will need to fit with my current EF mount lenses, not to mention everything else such as batteries, memory cards and my overall production workflow.

http://www.eoshd.com/2014/04/panasonic-gh4-vs-sony-a7s-compared-wins-4k-battle-paper/

(EOS HD comparison between the cameras).

At the moment, there are two options on the table. Said to be like comparing apples and oranges, the Sony A7s and GH4 are the current competing professional cameras that offer 4K functionality, however for people that own the cameras and have been comparing the two have found it difficult. This is for a few reasons:

Sensor size: The A7s is full frame, the GH4 is MFT.

4K in camera: The GH4 can record 4K internally, the A7s requires an external recorder such as an Odyssey or Shogun.

 

Philip Bloom using the Q7, from: http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/19/magician/
Philip Bloom using the Q7, from: http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/19/magician/

Jeromy, CEO of Atomos talking to me and Sam from The IABM about new products and the IBC Show.

Now, many people will be arguing that what does the increased resolution allow you to do, that HD doesn’t? The image produced from the 5D is great; good in low light, versatile, fits my style of filming… But it also has big downfalls for being a DSLR, and not a video camera.

Something that is unique about these two cameras is that their ‘out of the box’ functionality has been fine tuned for video applications, as well as high end photography. This is what Canon has left behind in their non Cinema line cameras, and Magic Lantern has struck gold on with their firmware hack enabling awesome video functions.

I have only recently installed ML on my 5D mkIII due to the current firmware on the camera. It was shipped with version 1.2.3, I was hesitant to downgrade the firmware and was patient in waiting for ML to develop a tested and working version for 1.2.3. Now having access to on screen aid such as waveform monitors and audio levels make such a difference, and restart movie for the longer filming durations is great. It turns your ‘photography’ camera into basically a video camera.

From: About DSLR (Youtube).

For my type of videography, the benefits of having not only 4K, but a wider range of options for recording will allow me to crop and downscale any 4K acquisition to HD and hold incredible picture detail, dynamic range and depth of field.

The recording bit rates are higher, meaning more data is stored for post production editing, compositing or grading.

Lastly, it should increase the production value of what I produce. Now, I am not stating that better equipment makes better videos. It does give you the opportunity to step up with what you can do in your work, and especially as it keeps you up to date in a world of ever changing and improving technology.

So, what is my investment cost?

This is dependent on your current shooting kit, and whether you can merge your current system with a new one. Perhaps you already shoot Sony or Panny, so you’re in luck.

For me, all my lenses are Canon EF mount, some are electronic, others are manual, so an adapter would be needed in my case. The price of this is dependent on the glass you use, or are going to use.

Let’s look at the Panasonic GH4 to start with.

Panasonic GH4 (body only) – £1296.00

Metabones Speedbooster EF to MFT (smart with electronics) – £468.00

GH4 batteries x 2 -£130

Transcend 600x ultimate SD card x 2 (Amazon price) – £36

Now, as the GH4 is MFT, I might purchase a wide angle lens because my current ultra wide angle 14mm T/3.1 would be almost 28mm T/6 due to the sensor equivalence. So, my options would be either:

Panasonic 12 – 35mm F/2.8 – £829.00

I did have the Samyang 12mm T/2, realizing it does not come in MFT mount.. So the above would be my option. I have used it before, it has great OIS and has a decent depth of field for an F/5.6 equivalent lens.

Total GH4 investment inc extra lens – £2759.00 (excluding extra lens – £1930.00)

That £1930 was pretty much the same price I paid for the 5D mkIII body only.

Panasonic GH4 basket

Now the Sony A7s.

Sony A7s (body and battery/PWR kit) – £2034.00

Metabones Speedbooster EF to E (smart with electronics) – £316.46

Transcend 600x ultimate SD card x 2 (Amazon price) – £36

The A7s does not record 4K internally, so I would need to purchase the Atomos Shogun recorder at – £1464.00

Also, as the A7s is compact in size, a cage is required to make it more accessible with the recorder and mics etc.

Movcam A7s cage – £148.02

Total A7s investment – £3998.48

(All prices are including VAT from CVP).

Sony A7s basket

Adam using the Panasonic GH4
Adam using the Panasonic GH4

Now.. I’ve shot on the Panasonic GH4 and I like it. When I’ve talked to Panasonic reps about the product they all had the same comment that Panasonic listened to videographers, and you can tell. The available recording formats and codecs allow a range of uses for the camera, and the features it packs into its tiny form are perfect for those that already utilize DSLR for video.

(Look back to earlier this year to the Park Camera’s Panasonic open day – https://ajp1991.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/meet-the-panasonic-gh4/)

Personally, and this is very subjective to the way I was filming when using the camera, the captured video looked like video. Some will understand what I mean, others won’t, but for those that have been shooting on a full frame camera, the ‘look’ is there. Obviously the sensor plays a large part in that, but if I purchased a GH4 kit outright (disregarding my current EF mount lenses).. I would purchase the Voightlander 25mm and the trusted Samyang cine lenses which might just combat the ‘look’ issue I feel like I have. As well as high quality ND filters so my shutter can remain at 1/50th.

Really quick GH4 test:

Trying out the 4K, and again a basic test:

(Please if you have experience, tips, footage or photos that you would like to share, please do!)

What am I going to do then?

My dad taught me something really great; good things come to those who wait. In other words, have patience.

As others test out, review and produce videos using the GH4 and A7s (and other cameras that pop up here and there), I will be closer to making my decision. For now, I know to hold off. A good thing for me to do would be to road test both cameras, work it with all of it’s video functions and produce a couple of vids that I can look back on. The folks at Park Camera’s are great at in store demos, but I can also wait for BVE in Feb 2015.

So, I can frustratingly wait a little longer for my jump to the next innovation of video production and delivery.

In the mean time I can always look at Blackmagic Design’s options that shoot 4K, as well as the Apertus AXIOM modular camera, and keep the new Arri Alexa 65 and RED Dragon for my dreams.

axiom-modules-06[1]

From – https://www.apertus.org/

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.

 

At the centre of the broadcasting world!

Morning on day 2 of our trip to Amsterdam for The IBC Show! Yesterday was a very, very long day. Arriving at Gatwick at around 4am, we were eventually in the air by 6:45 and in the city for 9:30am.

photo 4 (2) photo 1

It is Glen’s first time in Amsterdam so when we arrived we took a leisurely walk from Centraal through Dam Square to Leidseplein which is near where we are staying. After dumping the cases full of camera gear at the hotel, we went and found breakfast in one of the many cafe’s around the area. The coffee is the best ever here!!

photo 1 (1) photo 2 (1)

We had a couple of hours to spare before check-in so our tour of Amsterdam continued; from Leidseplein to Rembrandtplein, the Rokin and up to the Red Light District. After check-in we headed to Amsterdam RAI, the location of The IBC show where we picked up our IABM Press Passes from the media lounge. First ever time on press, so I am looking forward to the experience and hustle and bustle of the broadcasting news when the conference and expo opens today/tomorrow!

Before our next stop, we headed over to the VITEC stand (hall 11) to collect the Manfrotto tripods, heads and grip that we’ll be filming on for the show from the team; we’ve got; Manfrotto 564B (twin leg) tripod, 504HD fluid video head, 755CX3G carbon fibre tripod and MVH500AH video head, of course I’ve got a super clamp and magic arm too!

photo 4 (3) photo 5 (1)

After a quick taxi trip from The RAI to The Novotel, Glen and myself met up with Sam Hawkins (Marketing exec) of The IABM to talk about the upcoming video coverage plans; we will be covering all of The IABM’s events that happen at IBC, as well as their members lounge, Rising Stars, the Design and Innovation awards and much more, so if you are a member of The IABM, or simply want to chat; come and find me!

We are off to The RAI again today to shoot general video of the conference, stands, attendees, press area and much more. Tomorrow we’ll be at The IABM’s business conference at 7am.. Plenty to do and be looking forward to! There will be plenty more news coming up when I return from filming today!

New VLOG coming tomorrow!

I’m doing a new VLOG tomorrow, hosted by myself and Glen Symes as we cover the IBC Show for The IABM. We’ll be giving the low down on our kit choices and capturing the events, news and products from the expo and conference floor.

We depart on Wednesday for Amsterdam where I’ll be catching up with Steve Warner (IABM Training), Nino Leitner (Cinematographer and Cinema5D), HaZ Dullul (SYNC) and many companies including DJI Phantom, Schneider Kreuznach, Sony and many more.

You can keep up to date here on the blog or –

Facebook – Adam Plowden Video

Twitter – @plowman91

Vimeo – Adam Plowden Video

Ooh, I got the Canon 100mm F/2.8L Macro lens, and the Peak Design Leash too 😉

Also been trekking on with the graphics for all of The IABM video content, a little teaser for you;

IBC IABM video teaser still