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!

Cat-pics from my break today

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Taken with the Canon 5D mkIII and Samyang 35mm T/1.5 cine lens and Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8 DG APO HSM telephoto lens while I took some time out from pre-production and drawing for another animation!

Adams video week roundup!

Blimey lots has been going on over the last week, I hope it has been as hectic for you as it has been for me!

Monday started with continuing the design of the graphics for a recycling animation, a daunting task which put my drawing skills to the test. Bearing in mind I’ve spent the majority of the last year behind a camera, I took my time to learn the techniques I would need to use Illustrator properly. I would usually use Photoshop over Illustrator, but until I recently found out PS is not truly vector, and as I would be using a combination of the Pen tool and others to design the images this was very important, as I would need to transform the graphics later in After Effects.

My best mate Glen came down from Wycombe for a  surprise week to, so I spent plenty of time catching up with him and chatting about work. He gave me so very important advice; “Everything is too complicated these days, you should keep it simple and your audience won’t know the difference, especially if it is moving and animated anyway.” True words, and I took Glens advice which not only sped up the process, but made me more confident with the work I was producing.

Here’s a screenshot to show all of them! (I think I am working on a 10K canvas).

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The graphics design has been on-going, I practiced when I was first commissioned, but it just shows how familiarizing yourself with the tools and applications can ease your work! A very very important part of this process was to intensively storyboard and plan each scene, so I know what graphics can be generated beforehand, so I spent a good couple of days story boarding and sketching the graphics I would need, followed by a long list of assets I would go on to to create.

Pre-vis sketches:

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For the rest of the week I started importing the graphics into After Effects, and setting up the 15 scenes. I am finally starting to see progress! I am still working on this section, and it will take another week or so to complete all the animations. Again, I storyboarded this in the planning, so I know exactly what to produce for which scene which saves so much time. Also, the best thing about this planning part is that it does not have to be a work of art to depict your ideas, just a simple sketch to represent what you will need to create.

graphic storyboard plan pre-production animation motion graphics

On Thursday I joined a crew of fashion designers, hair stylists and models to film a magazine photoshoot for Sherman Hawthorne (the hair stylist and creative director of the shoot) at The Lemonade Factory studios on Queenstown road. With eccentric styles and art direction, I set about to capture high contrast, dramatic footage which will compliment the photos. It was an early start, here I am waiting for my train at Clapham Junction;

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I was a single shooter, I had the pleasure of transporting the equipment to the shoot which included a steadicam vest that I ended up not using. I’ve learned my lesson here not to take extra kit!

My kit list was as follows:

Canon 5DmkIII (A camera), Canon 60D (B camera)

Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC, Samyang 14mm T/3.1 cine, Samyang 35mm T/1.5 cine, Nikkor 50mm F/1.4 manual, Samyang 85mm T/1.5 cine, Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 OS

Manfrotto 755CX3, Manfrotto MVH700AH, Manfrotto Hydra arm and super clamp,

CamSmart camera rig + Lilliput field monitor, CamSmart Stabilizer vest, Flycam Nano

Zoom H6, Rotolight Roto-mic.

As with all of these shoots, time runs short so I was restricted to short burst of filming time with the models to capture the specific ethereal and industrial motif, but I also shot around the photographer to maximize my usable footage. I made use of the 50fps slow motion for the moving shots, so that the models movements are exaggerated, as well as stabilizing the shot.

As the props included wire fencing and chicken wire, aliasing was a problem when shooting shallow depth of field, or at an angle to the object. To remedy this I used a lower aperture (F/4-5.6) for some shots, but also I can add a Gaussian blur in Premiere Pro when editing to soften the lines, gently smoothing out unwanted aliasing.

A couple of frame grabs from the shoot!

fashion photo video shoot at the lemonade factory cinematic videography steadicam Here I’m using a moving shot to create a distorted perspective from outside of the set.

fashion photo video shoot the lemonade factory cinematic videography trapped cage bw Here I use a low angle shot, removing the identity of the model to create a ‘trapped’ and ‘mysterious’ feel to the model, and why she is in the box.

Weekends are always working weekend for creatives and freelancers. I spent yesterday working on the animation of the recycling project again, continuing to compose the scenes using simple 2D shapes and animation styles that have become very popular recently.

I also came across this post from Chase Jarvis about how to manage your time properly, its a great post with a detailed outline of 90-minute working slots that should improve your productivity, I urge you to read it if you’re someone like me who can’t stop working, then apply the plan to your working life. I know I will be!

Do Less = Do More by Chase Jarvis

I haven’t had many #videoquestions come in recently, so please keep them coming so I can help with tips for the community of videographers and creatives! Send them over to me @Plowman91 on Twitter.

Finally, ending with a must watch video, check out Philip Bloom’s video shot with the Blackmagic Production Camera, the 4K one at Miami Beach, what do you think of it? Is it worth investing now the Panasonic GH4 is on pre-order and it looks like Sony will have a 4K DSLR announcement coming at NAB2014 too..!!

Philip Blooms Four Corners Miami Beach (Blackmagic 4K camera)

That’s all for now folks! Keep the creative juices flowing!

Update from Adam!

It has been a very busy couple of weeks since BVE, which by the way was great this year. I was over the moon to see the new finalized range of Manfrotto LED Spectra light panels which I got to test out a couple of years ago. Seeing products develop over a long period of time is interesting, even more so when your opinion is considered in how the final product should perform.

Manfrotto also had their re-designed SIMPLA rig to demo, a much lighter and more ergonomic model I must say which is compatible with 15mm rig accessories like their matte box and electronic remote control.

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As well as that, Manfrotto have also joined forces with Schneider Kreuznach optics (page in German), who have a new range of cinema lenses, specifically designed with ease of use in mind. All of the lenses from 24mm to 135mm have the same filter size, length and focus rotation to make filming with a range of the lenses effortless, simply change the lens and your peripherals stay in position. The optics of the lenses blew me away. Even in the well lit Excel, the background bokeh was stunning, soft yet so crisp. I cannot wait to get my hands on them. I think the combination of the new Manfrotto 055 tripod, the SIMPLA rig and Schneider glass will be a killer cine kit, delivering incredible visuals, making your shoot run smoothly, and at a low cost. Give it a year and this will be the go to package for production rentals, and part of every kit bag.

schneider kreuznach optics lens for cinematography bve 2

In other news, I’ve been working with EEBC on a couple of projects; a short video on recycling and another about a Wellbeing centre for those suffering with dementia and their carers. Both projects have messages that are close to me, so I’ve been working hard to blow my clients expectations out of the water. For the recycling video, I’m combining video with animation to show why recycling food and material waste is ever more important today; generating renewable electricity and resources. The Wellbeing centre video will be live action video, featuring the range of activities available to those in the community as well as the vast benefits to carers and visitors to the centre.

So, busy busy at the moment. I’m also meeting some designers from the fashion label ACF (Art Comes First) next week about another video featuring the design process here in London. Very exciting, I’ve been patiently waiting for an art-collaboration project to come along, it’s what I started the business for!

I’ve had no #videoquestions for a while, so remember to keep them coming to @Plowman91!

Remember, inspiration is everywhere so take your camera with you!

excel centre bve london photo camera dslr inspiration

EDIT!!!! Just remembered to include this, I spoke to an un-named informant about the new Samyang/Rokinon VDSLR cine lenses and whether any new models are going to be released. Our brief chat resulted in confirming rumours of a 50mm and 135mm cine lenses coming very soon! I think it’s exactly what the lens range needs, and I will certainly be investing in the 135mm if it is at T/2.2, or pushing it at T/1.8 would be a dream come true. So hear my thoughts Samyang/Rokinon!

Review: Manfrotto Backpack50

Hello all! Here is the anticipated review of the new Manfrotto Backpack50, the flagship range of professional photography and videography bags for cameras and equipment.

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The new range comes in a variety of sizes depending on the equipment and lenses you use. If you are going to be shooting for ENG, or know you will need fast access to your camera and lens kit then the Holster range may be for you, or if you’re looking for a perma-home for a vast range of bodies, lenses and accessories then a Roller Bag or Backpack will be for you.

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I got a great surprise through the post a couple of weeks ago, it was the Backpack50, which I have been using out on photo and video shoots, testing it to the extreme in a wide range of shooting situations such as weddings, on location video and corporate events.

First things first, as you can see the bag is BIG! Not too big that it is laborious to carry around, as the support straps provide great comfort for a fully packed bag. Having a bigger bag eliminates the need to bring extra sling bags if you take laptops and tablets on shoots, as there two separate zip pockets for both, and also allows me (predominantly shooting video) to keep all of my essentials in one place. For example, the bag is currently full with my kit needed for a shoot for Tesco on Friday, so a 7″ HD field monitor, clamps, Rode VideoMic, 2x DSLR bodies and 6 lenses sit snugly in the protective separators. I have all I need in one convenient place, a perfect solution especially as I am a SINGLE shooter.

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Overview of the Backpack50’s features:

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Unlike other camera bags which open from the side or the back, the Backpack50 opens from the top, which allowed me to quickly grab my camera (with lens attached) almost immediately with ease. If you’ve got the waist support done up then this is even quicker as you can swing the bag from your back to front and grab the camera that way. The other handy feature of this is that you can have a telephoto lens attached to the camera and still take it out with ease, as the support pads can be customized to fit your individual kit needs.

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Here you can see the bag open, the top flap unzips all the way down revealing many side pockets, 3 zip pockets on the flap (which I use for little bits that I can grab quickly such as batteries, SD cards, hot shoe adapters etc). There is even a protected zip pocket for a tablet if you have one too!

The capacity of the Backpack50 is fantastic! As I mentioned before I filled it up with various accessories for shooting video, but it will comfortably hold a large DSLR body and telephoto lens attached in the middle section, up to 8 standard lenses in the side sections, as well as two ideally large and deep side pockets. These would be great for clamps and arms, but I use mine for my microphone and a little tool box for emergencies!

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A small but memorable Manfrotto logo on the main flap of the bag, the branding is not in your face which keeps the bag discrete.

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With a fully packed bag (including a laptop, EVF) it is heavy as you would expect, however the inclusion of a very comfortable, padded waist strap distributes the weight evenly through the body, rather than putting the pressure on your shoulders, reducing fatigue, and it was a welcome relief for me to see too! All the straps are padded, and are very heavy duty for a camera bag which is fantastic when shooting in rugged and fast paced environments, or for a very long time.

The Backpack50 also includes a waterproof cover, essential for protecting your beloved kit in times of heavy downpour, however it would have been better to see this built into the bag rather than a separate part, as this reduces the risk of forgetting it!! It also has a side strap for tripods which is a welcoming sight. Previously I used a Lowepro bag and simply strapped my Manfrotto 055B tripod and 701 head to the main straps, which is heavy and also puts lots of strain on the bags fastenings (i don’t recommend this). The external strap loops through a heavy duty fabricated patch on the side of the bag, and the strap can be secured around the head of the tripod. It is quick release too, so you can get the tripod off the bag and set up quickly. A great improvement.

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Overall, I am delighted with Manfrotto’s new Backpack50 as it caters for the pro photographer AND videographer, protecting our livelihood (equipment) with fantastically engineered bag sections, as well as providing flexibility when out shooting which many backpacks restrict due to their bulky and un-ergonomic design. Manfrotto have overcome this by designing a bag with the pro in mind, and have produced a very successful and ergonomic addition to the growing kit list of photographers and videographers alike.

Check out the new range on Manfrotto’s website here – http://www.manfrotto.co.uk/collection/8615.1065.17520.0.0/Professional

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 –

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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 –

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

The 2nd edit of GLF video is on its way!

Apologies for the recent silence on here, I have been busy in the edit suite working on the GLF video, and I got a few extra shots yesterday to finish it off. It is looking extremely good, and I am happy how it is coming on.

As I’m using Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, I have the very useful Mercury playback engine so working with HD video clips and graphics is not a problem until I get into the grade, which is to come later.

Here’s a quick snap of where things are at, and I’ll be working on the sound mix and grade later on today and tomorrow!

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