IBC Show 2014 Roundup!

What a week it was! There was no doubts we would be busy filming and editing videos for The IABM to release, but not on the scale we anticipated! Overall, Adam Plowden Videography captured and produced at least 8-10 videos each day, an incredible 6 times more video content delivered in one week than previously in the whole of 2013!

adam plowden videography at ibc 2014 show manfrotto adam plowden videography at ibc 2014 show manfrotto2 adam plowden videography at ibc 2014 show manfrotto3

I did include a run-down of my kit choices before I left, but here is a quick summary of my chosen equipment to capture the IBC Show:

Manfrotto 546GB twin leg tripod with a 504HD head (A Cam).

Canon 5D mkIII, Tamron 24-70mm, Sigma 70-200mm, Samyang 14mm, 35mm, 85mm, Canon 100mm L.

Manfrotto 755CX3G tripod with a MVH500AH head (B Cam).

Canon 60D, Tamron 17-50mm, Canon 50mm.

Manfrotto Hydra Arm and super clamp.

Zoom H6, Sennheiser ENG-G3 RxTx kit, Roto-mic.

IBC 2014 equipment for IABM filming adam plowden videography manfrotto obs olympics

(This is the kit we took each day to film with!)

I had to have the above tripod gear after testing them out at my Manfrotto Takeover day, I was impressed by the fluidity of the 504 head when using it with telephoto lenses (as you can see above), however for lightweight, portable and quick ‘run and gun’ filming, the 755CX3G is a cracking go to set of legs. (Pictured above with the ProMediaGear Arc-Slider) and 701HDV head.

My main camera was: Canon 5D mkIII, and I was frequently using the Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC and Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 DC OS for ‘go to’ lenses around the show. They have a stabilizer in the lens, which means that shake and wobble can be eliminated. I also purchased the Canon 100mm F/2.8L macro lens before the trip for detail shots, but I fell in love with it for capturing everything; crisp and beautifully shallow portraits too.

adam plowden videography at ibc show 2014 canon 100mm macro l series sony professional interview

For establishing and wide shots, the Samyang 14mm T/3.1 cine lens came into it’s own. On a full frame camera it has a huge wide angle view allowing to capture the biggest of expanses with clarity.

museumplein iamsterdam canon 5d mkiii samyang 14mm tourism wide adam plowden videography IBC show 2014

Day 2 – Thursday 11th September – Welcome to IBC

Things are gearing up at the RAI; exhibitors are flooding through the doors, the stands are quickly being finished and the equipment is on display. IBC Show 2014 is getting ready to open its doors to 50,000 broadcasting, media and IT professionals from across the globe. We began filming the exterior the the RAI with visitors entering the venue and registering in the main foyer; the arc slider and 14mm lens create a wonderful moving perspective. After a short explore around hall 10 and 11 we made our way to The IABM Members Lounge to film an exclusive interview with Peter White, CEO of The IABM.

The IABM is a global broadcasting organization, representing nearly 80% of the broadcasting industry. The members have access to an exclusive members lounge, the IABM business conference, design & innovation awards and much more. It was our job to capture the events, conferences and members at IBC to promote and inform others about the successes at the show. For the interview, I used the Canon 5D mkIII, Tamron 24-70mm, the B cam was a Canon 60D with Canon 50mm F/1.8. For a reliable audio source I used the Zoom H6 (multi-channel recorder) with the MS mic attachment, as well as the Sennheiser ENG-G3 wireless mic kit; this was so I could attach a lav mic on the interviewees for clear sound.

Yes, this did mean throughout the week we had different video and audio sources, but Red Giant Pluraleyes aided greatly in syncing up the V&A for editing in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6.

BTS editing IBC IABM intro video amsterdam

Editing the IBC Intro video with Peter White on my laptop, yes, Windows laptop!

After capturing the buzz and excitement of pre-IBC, we headed back to our hotel to edit the intro video for the IABM members to see. The editing was fast, but the uploading was terrible via Wi-Fi, having learned our lesson, we uploaded the rest of the videos in the press room at IBC instead! Unfortunately, the video is only viewable for IABM members, so here is a quick screenshot.

iabm intro video at ibc show 2014 adam plowden videography

Later on, we ventured out into the city of Amsterdam. It was Glen’s first time, so I look him for a tour around the sights.

Glen in Amsterdam for IBC show with adam plowden videography

Day 3 – Friday 12th September – IABM Business Conference ‘The Future of Broadcasting’ and member interviews.

It was an early start on Friday, we arrived at the RAI for the IABM business conference at 6:45am to set up and capture the members breakfast, the conference and the post networking before the show got underway that day. For added motion, I used the ProMediaGear Arc-slider for some of the opening shots, but the main conference was shot on 3 static cameras.

iabm business conference at ibc show by adam plowden videography

For a mid shot of the speaker, I shot on the Sigma 70-200mm, and for a wide I used the 60D with the 17-50mm. Glen was filming from the front for a reverse angle on the 60D and Canon 100m L, which captured some stunning reaction shots of the attendees in low light. Unfortunately, this video is only available to watch for IABM members.

As our responsibility was to capture and edit videos for a same day or next day release, our two man filming team split so that Glen could begin ingesting, backing up and editing the conference video while I went out into the show and interviewed a number of IABM members. This turned out to be a godsend tactic to release a stream of high quality videos each day. It was, however, difficult to keep track of all the media from SD and CF cards…

That day, I filmed interviews with Georacing, Harmonic, Nexidia that we edited out for same day release:

I then jetted off to The IABM stand to meet the new winners of the Student award from The IABM (I won last year), to capture some interviews with them about their study and what they are looking forward to at IBC!

iabm student award winners ibc 2014 adam plowden videography

Day 4 – Design & Innovation Awards and member interviews

We were already half way through our IBC experience when Saturday struck, after a successful few days of filming and editing we geared ourselves up for a long day ahead. The day begun with a selection of IABM member interviews from around the show, including; Blackmagic Design, Avid, Newtek, Sony and many more. If you have been to IBC or NAB before you’ll know how long it takes to get from one place to another, but with video kit it was a challenge to navigate around the thousands of people at the show!

I had a great time at the Sony booth, interviewing Peter Sykes about the new innovations; camera, 4K transmission, projectors, storage devices. They can be seen here:

I was intrigued by the Sony A7s, a full frame SLR with great low light and DR features.. There was lots of hype around the camera, and I had noticed a lot of the News Shooter guys using them with Atomos Ninja/Blade recorders (we were working next to Dan Chung and News Shooter in the press room), they rated it very well in a variety of conditions and shooting styles.

Bad luck struck on Saturday afternoon… My Canon 60D and 14mm cine lens was capturing a timelapse when it was moved/taken/stolen from where I left it.. Knowing that this would impact the video production of the D&I awards I quickly got help from RAI security to try and locate it. No luck, so later on that afternoon I borrowed a camera from an IABM member to capture a static wide shot of the awards ceremony. Luckily, when I arrived home I got a call from the RAI security who informed me they had found my camera!

canon 60d 14mm cine lens timelapse adam plowden videography ibc 2014 wohler interview at ibc 2014 for iabm adam plowden videography vidigo interview at ibc show 2014 iabm adam plowden videography

We then got set up and prepared for The IABM Design and Innovation Awards 2014, celebrating and awarding outstanding technical developments in the broadcasting and media industry. Before IBC I edited and produced the 9 nominee category videos and graphics presented throughout the awards. Using the same setup as the IABM conference (A cam – Tele, B cam – wide, C cam – reactions) we captured the night in full, showing the excitement and buzz around winning the awards. I got to have a quick chat with some of the winner companies too!

I edited together the highlights of the IABM Design and Innovation Awards, which can be viewed here –

The individual winner interviews can be viewed here:

Systems – VidiGo

Testing – Cube-tec

Storage – Ardis

Post Production – Quantel

Playout – Elemental Technologies

Content + Infrastructure – NTT Electronics

Audio – Sennheiser

Acquisition + Production – Trimaran

The realities of working 12-14 hour days were catching up with us when we returned to our hotel to ingest and back up the footage. Finally, but 1:30am on Sunday all of the footage was synced and ready to be edited. At that point, we both thought its time to call it a day.

iabm design and innovation awards 2014 ibc show adam plowden videography adam and glen design and innovation awards 2014 ibc show adam plowden videography

Day 5 – Delivering D&I Award Videos and member interviews

By Sunday, the main haul of event capture had been completed, with the remaining tasks being mainly interviews with members around the IBC show. As our editing ‘system’ had worked so well previously, Glen stayed in the press room using both our laptops to edit, export and upload the winner videos from the awards while I conducted interviews with more exhibitors and IBC members.

I had a great time at the Atomos booth interviewing Jeromy the CEO about the new Shogun for 4K recording and the power pack!

Atomos Interview –

jeromy atomos ceo at ibc show 2014 iabm interview adam plowden videography

Later that day I bumped into Joe, my old uni housemate  who was visiting the show for a day. Later, Glen and myself went for Mexican for dinner and met up with our hotel receptionist, Klaudija for a few drinks in Vondelpark!

adam and joe ibc show 2014 videography adam and glen mexicans

At this point, I was completely over my missing 60D and the tiredness. Visiting IBC and Amsterdam for work is a very rare opportunity, so we plowed through and continued to produce great day by day coverage of the show for The IABM. Glen, bless him saw less and less daylight each day!

adam out filming interviews at ibc Glen and Adam at ibc

Day 5 – Rising Stars and more member interviews

Arriving at IBC a little later than usual, Glen and myself parked up the the press area and set up the laptops to upload the previous days interviews to vimeo. Before we headed out to Steve Warners talk at Rising Stars I bumped into Nino Leitner who was off to Photokina that afternoon, so I grabbed a quick pic! Nino had been very busy with Cinema 5D coverage of the show producing their ‘On The Couch’ series with Philip Bloom, HaZ Dullul and more.

adam plowden and nino leitner ibc show 2014

At this point, we had captured around 350Gb of video footage and delivered numerous interviews and event videos for The IABM, they were very pleased! We headed over to The Rising Stars lounge; a part of the show dedicated to young professionals in the industry where Steve Warner (training manager of The IABM) was doing a talk on CV’s and representing yourself. Even for me, it was quite interesting to hear what recruiters actually look out for and research!

steve warner iabm training manager talk rising stars ibc 2014

Catch the full video here –

The team then split so I could conduct some interviews with The IABM student award winners, and with a couple more members for The IABM annual conference in December. It was a short and sweet day; shooting multi-cam on talks and conferences made editing fairly straight forward so we were able to deliver the videos pretty much on the same day. Glen did an awesome job and editing videos out quickly. while I was filming more content!

Day 6 – Last interviews

Day 6 was our opportunity to capture the last interview and glimpse of the show until next year. As we were interviewing members and covering events, we didn’t get to see that much of the show itself, but made time to visit some cool stands before we left on Tuesday afternoon.

We visited the Ross Video stand, to interview Pete Ross for The IABM annual conference, it was interesting to hear about how the company developed the first vision mixers and lead the way for broadcast production throughout the 20th century, definitely worth recognition.

adams last day at ibc on the tram in Amsterdam

adams last day at ibc on the tram in Amsterdam

the Amsterdam RAI, home of IBC

the Amsterdam RAI, home of IBC

Ross video stand at ibc show

Ross video stand at IBC show

Ross video stand at ibc show2

Ross video stand at ibc show2

saying goodbye to the IBC press room!

saying goodbye to the IBC press room!

Glen at IBC

Glen at IBC

Adam at IBC

Adam at IBC

Glen and Adam leaving IBC 2014 for the last time!

Glen and Adam leaving IBC 2014 for the last time!

Well, what an incredible time it has been.. We captured over 400Gb of footage and audio, combined with hours of graphics produced before the show. We delivered (and are continuing to deliver) over 55 videos online for The IABM. What a show, what a success! My huge thanks go to the other half of the team, Glen Symes for his help and dedication to getting the videos out, and dealing with my stresses of production and post throughout! Also thanks to The IABM for giving me the opportunity to cover The IBC Show 2014 for you.

Ooh, I almost forgot I stopped by the Vitec Videocom stand to say hi to the Manfrotto reps and return the tripods and grip we borrowed for filming. While we were there I asked Sofia for a short piece to camera on the new Manfrotto tripods and kit; I was over the moon to hear a new follow focus has been developed to go with the SYMPLA rig!

Check out the video with Manfrotto here –

I’ve met up with old friends, and made many new ones. My experience has been overwhelming this year, now I cannot wait to do it all again at The IABM Annual Conference and hopefully IBC 2015! If you have any questions about how we produced the videos, or IBC then drop me a tweet @Plowman91 or comment!

I’m still editing and uploading more videos, so keep updated by checking out The IABM website for more videos and content, and I will have an IBC 2014 wrap up video coming soon. UNTIL NEXT YEAR!

 

Summer Update!

It has been a very wild summer for me, lots of productions and shooting and plenty of editing! Going back to the end of July/beginning of August, I was deep into the wedding season with JHWF, filming weddings from Ashford, Kent to St Johns College Cambridge. I also got to fly the companies DJI Phantom II Drone with a GoPro Hero 3 and Zenmuse 2D gimball, it was incredible fun (for a first timer)!!

Wedding at Eastwell Manor (Kent) via JHWF.

I also did the Ice Bucket Challenge;

I spent most weekends out filming weddings, where I got to try out my new Pro Media Gear Duo slider; it is simply a 2ft straight slider with a curved track on the reverse side. Honestly, it is so simple I don’t know how companies didn’t think of it before! It is extremely easy to use and is lightweight, my 5D and Sigma 70-200mm smoothly slides along the track. It sits on a removable carriage (so you can flip the slider over) with four plastic castors. 100% recommended, I purchased directly from them in the USA, it came within the delivery time (3 days) and is cost effective in comparison to similar track based sliders out there.

I mount the slider onto my Manfrotto 755Pro-B tripod (without a video head) using the clamp accessory which holds it firmly in place. This is on my IBC kit list!

Pro media gear duo slider

I also helped out director HaZ Dulull on the production of his new short film ‘SYNC’, it took place in an underground car park in Southend with a bunch of SWAT guys, two massive SUV’s, Blackmagic Cinema Cameras and a Production camera. It was a great day shooting, operating the camera and jib for some shots was awesome!

SYNC film shoot

Crew pic!

SYNC film shoot crew pic

Going back a couple of weeks, I was editing the Epsom and Ewell Borough Council Health and Wellbeing videos which involved writing up captions and mastering the audio levels as I’m quite near completion. I was offered the opportunity to get some more footage of the activities that the Wellbeing Centre offers for those that suffer with dementia including tennis and Japanese mind games. I took up the offer to get some more footage for future council projects.

wellbeing tennis wellbeing tennis2

wellbeing tai chi

It was a hot and bright couple of days, so I used variable ND filters on my lenses to bring down the exposure without reducing the 5D’s electronic shutter; a great tip for keeping motion blur realistic. I shot mostly on the Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 OS as it does a wonderful job of isolating subjects from the background. A great lens choice if you don’t have red ring fever!

I was also working on the graphics and animation for the EEBC Telecare video; I designed the graphics in Illustrator and Photoshop, then animated in After Effects in a hipstery style using shape layers, pastel tones and lots of easing!

I got some fantastic news towards the end of August, The IABM decided to go for me as their event videographer for the IBC Show and annual conference! Leading up to IBC I have been preparing a number of videos and graphics to be used and shown throughout the show and at a variety of awards, such as The IABM Design & Innovation Award.

I can’t show you much at the moment as everything is under wraps until the events at the conference, but I can show you the title sequence for the videos. It’s made in AE using some of the pics I took around the expo last year and other general press images from IBC.

After being WOW’d by the Canon 100mm F/2.8L Macro lens at my Manfrotto Takeover day, the thought of owning one has been rattling around my head since.. I was hopeful with the Sigma 105mm, but the Canon provided the next step up in terms of stabilization, auto focusing, and personally I just preferred the feel of it. I will be using the lens throughout IBC so keep checking for dedicated pics, videos and more!

Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro lens Schneider Kreuznach 35mm cine prime lens optic Manfrotto takeover 1 Schneider Kreuznach 35mm cine prime lens optic Manfrotto takeover 2

(The above photos of Schneider Kreuznach Xenon Cine Lenses taken on the Canon 100mm F/2.8L Macro by Adam Plowden).

I also booked my first wedding for January next year, so I met up with the couple ‘Sarah and Matt’ for a pre-shoot at their venue with Ash (who recommended me, thanks!!). I got some beautiful footage of them in the setting sun, here is a tiny teaser 🙂

One day to go until Glen and I leave for Amsterdam to film the IBC Show for The IABM, I did a quick vlog for you, an update on the kit, what we’ll be covering. I will be releasing videos most days, blogging and tweeting lots to share the news from the conference, so remember the keep checking for updates! I’m hoping to catch up with PB and Nino Leitner too 🙂

Here’s the low down on my kit list:

Canon 5D mkIII

2 x Canon 60D

Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8

Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8

Canon 100mm F/2.8L

Samyang 14mm T/3.1

Samyang 35mm T/1.5

Samyang 85mm T/1.5

Canon 50mm F/1.8

Nikkor 50mm F/1.4

Manfrotto SPECTRA Bi-colour 900FT

Manfrotto SPECTRA 500F

Zoom H6

Pro Media Gear Duo arc slider

Roto-mic

Sennheiser Wireless ENG-100 Rx-Tx

Adam Plowden Video IBC kit

I’m picking up some tripods, heads and a magic arm-super clamp from the Vitec team tomorrow, they are doing me a huuuge favor so thank you Dave, Mark and Siobhann from Manfrotto/Vitec!!

Here is something I’ve been checking out; If you love motion graphics and After Effects, then definitely check out The School Of Motion ’30 Days of AE’ tutorials, a range of in depth tuts ranging from objects to typography; check it out to learn something! http://www.schoolofmotion.com/

Right, I’m up at 3am to fly at 6. You will be reading the waffle of a very tired Adam tomorrow! Keep on following for more;

@Plowman91

Adam’s Videos

Adam on Facebook

Oh and I made this for a mate too:

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

What a few months it has been!

Blimey, my last post was a while ago.. Honestly, since then work has got heavy and much of my time is either spent behind the camera or the screen. One exception was the Manfrotto Pro Backpack50 review, shot by Glen Symes for me where I actually appear in a video!

Manfrotto pro backpack50 review video adam plowden and glen symes videography

Some of the things I’ve been up to range from filming quite a few weddings 

to filming and editing for a series of videos on health and wellbeing.

eebc health and wellbeing video edit adam plowden videography

On the side, I’ve talked at EEHS about going through uni and starting a business, am preparing for my Manfrotto Tour videography seminar and other bits and bobs.. I’m sure if you follow me on twitter or facebook you’ll have an idea of the things!

Going back a few weeks, my main projects have been the EEBC Health and Wellbeing video series, and an animation on Telecare. This is a predominantly piece to camera series, with additional b-roll shots to add to the videos messages which range from stopping smoking, to eating a healthy and balanced diet. The standard production of information videos ensued, editing down from around 45-50 minutes to a concise 2 minutes providing the relevant facts and summaries on prevention. Editing in Premiere Pro, I used the very good Luma Corrector tool for exposure changes and a simple RGB curves adjustment for the colour temperature.

I find the Luma Corrector better to work with, as by adjusting the Gamma control slightly, it removes the washed grey look to push out the prominent shadows and highlights meaning that it is very simple to correct/match shots; especially as I filmed using daylight as my key.

adobe premiere pro screenshot luma corrector effect adjust exposure

As per the clients request I have also added subtitles, which I created using the dynamic link into After Effects (noting at this point that if you’re doing several stages of an edit, to duplicate the sequence you are working on before you start the next stage as Premiere and AE require you to save your work for updates to take place, meaning no Ctrl-Z/Command-Z to get back to a timeline with the clips rather than your ‘replace in AE linked composition’).

premiere pro dynamic link sequence editing

I was also out photographing flowers for a wedding, for the florist Madeleine Pink a few weeks ago too! Taken on a range of lenses with the Canon 5D mkIII (Tamron 24-70mm, Sigma 70-200mm, Samyang 14, 35, 85mm cine, and Nikkor 50mm).

Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography button hole Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography button hole 2 Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography brides bouquet Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography table bouquet Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography table bouquet silhouette Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography table bouquet 2 Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography table bouquet 3 Madeleine pink floral wedding flower photography adam plowden videography table bouquet 4

Since then, I ventured into using Lightroom to edit the photos as well, still learning bits and bobs but found a range of fantastic presets here that create some great looks. I’d appreciate your thoughts on the photos and the looks as well, as it’s mostly stab in the dark/emotive based 😛

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of filming Dan and Kelly’s wedding in Ashford + Foxhills where I met the awesome Ash; a unique wedding photographer! Check out the wedding film here

, and definitely check out Ash’s work over at Ash Darling Photography! Highly recommended by me 😀 and I believe I’ll be working with Ash soon on an up coming wedding, really looking forward to it!

 

Believe it or not, I have been doing some videography too! In between editing the health and wellbeing videos, and on the pre-production sketches of the telecare animation I spent a couple of afternoons in The Woodland Garden in Bushy Park; one of my favorite places to go to switch off work mode, relax and shoot some video for personal projects. I’ve named this one ‘Waterhouse’, it’s the name of the part of the garden where a balcony looks over a pond with a waterhouse to the left. It poses interesting thoughts to its original function, the bricks and foundations holding strong throughout years of use and bad weather. Virginia Creepers pursue to edge up its sides, gripping on to reach the sunlight through the tree canopy.

beautiful blooming purple Allium flower photography adam plowden video waterhouse

The edit is complete, but I am now working on a quirky hipster logo/title animation for the beginning of the video so as soon as it has been animated and comped into the footage I will upload!

The kit I used for the ‘Waterhouse’ video include; Manfrotto 755Cx-3 tripod, Edelkrone Slider+ v2, Canon 5D mkIII, Canon 100mm F/2.8 macro (hence why the shake on the slider is slightly more visible than without IS/OS, but I have used Warp Stabilizer where I can). Tamron 24-70mm, Sigma 70-200mm, Samyang 14, 35, 85mm cine, Nikkor 50mm. After using the Canon macro lens, I have totally decided to purchase the Sigma 105mm F/2.8 OS macro lens; firstly because of future video productions where a small minimum focus distance is necessary (product, people, detail shots), also it has optical stabilization which I found was needed when moving the camera and lens on the slider, and lastly its around £400.. Bargain!

 

Things I’ve learned so far from doing this kind of work;

  • Shoot with a widespread histogram (unless I wish to isolate the subject from shadows behind).
  • Lightroom is awesome, try playing with the presets I linked to work on the developer tools.
  • Regardless if it has been a long day filming, if you want to talk to someone, always, always, always do it!
  • I want a macro lens for intricate detailed shots, as my current range does not let me get close enough to the subject.
  • Take some hand held lights for kicks and fills; the venue room where the table decorations were photographed was very dark. With a tripod and a couple of lights I would have had much more control over the lighting composition.
  • Dabble in a variety of work types, to keep it interesting and different!
  • I need a slider for cinematic moving shots; I have made my choice; not the Edelkrone! There will be a whole blog post on this coming soon.

Rotolight Sound and Light Kit Review!

I have had the Rotolight Sound and Light kit for a little while now, and I like it. I like it even more so because Rotolight has been the only manufacturer to really think about what consumers moving into the industry, and already established creatives would need from the outset. Without light you have no picture, and without sound you only have 50% of that video.Videos with bad or unprepared sound are noticeable, just if the subject of the video was not lit correctly. Unfortunately we are now used to watching and seeing very high quality, glossy pictures with filmic motifs, and excellent sound including orchestral scores. We aspire to work on these ‘big budget’ productions, or to make videos that look like them, but without thinking about your lighting and sound, you are very far off.

I produced this review and the music video using the Canon 5D mark III, and a range of Samyang Cine lenses. To keep the light source and sound as pure as possible, I only used the Rotolight RL-48 B ring light and Roto-Mic. I also used my custom camera rig, which is manufactured by CamSmart, as well as a 5″ Lilliput field monitor. I used Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects and Speedgrade to edit and post-produce the videos.

rotolight sound and light videography video kit review led ring light

RL-48 B LED Ring Light

Out of the box, you get everything you need (apart from batteries) to start shooting straight away. The inclusion of a Rotolight belt-bag is fantastic for getting the light out quickly if you are shooting on the run, and for storage while traveling and keeping the batteries, light and accessories safe. One pain I always have, as I am a single shooter is that to change parts of my equipment setup; which means opening my big bag, routing through to find the bit I need and then carrying on. With Rotolights ingenious solutions they have removed that need entirely!

Inside the LED light is a set of ND, skin, colour and minus green filters that can be applied directly inside the housing of the unit itself; no need to carry around filters, gels and pegs to achieve your desired brightness and tone. This is great as no longer do you rely on a bag of old gels to adjust the temperature and brightness of the light source, and all filters are supplied by LEE, so you know you can trust them. The LED’s being naturally daylight at 5600K, you are set to use the light in most conditions! For photography and video with people and models, Rod from Rotolight recommended using a softening ND and the skin filter which gently soft lights the subject, with a peachy, wrapping beam. There are no shadows, and the result is a beautiful glimmer of light in the subjects eyes giving them emotion and life.

rotolight sound and light videography video kit review music video filmmaking shoot videography model light

During my time with the Sound and Light kit, I tested out its practicality when out filming indoors and out on location. Above is a still grab from the indoor shots of Josh performing his lines to the camera; you can see a hint of light in his eyes, and a soft-neutral coverage of his face. This was the look I wanted to achieve; an intimate piece-to-camera. I used the ring light and mic mounted on the hot shoe of my camera setup, this gave a direct beam onto the subject, and would work for any subjects in front of the camera. Indoors the RL-48 ring light gives out a beautiful 140 degree beam of light that wraps around your subject, without any hot spots (usually on the forehead). I was filming a music video, but would work exceptionally well in model and fashion work, where beauty is exaggerated through the images.

rotolight sound and light videography video kit review music video filmmaking shoot videography

It took some innovative thinking to get the lighting right for this continuous tracking shot. Although I was shooting in the afternoon sun, I still needed a key light to keep Josh’s face illuminated throughout. The night before we were at the location shooting the same scene, but had the ring light mounted on the camera. This time I needed the source to be much closer, so I whipped out the Manfrotto Magic Arm and Superclamp and clamped the light to the boot of my car. In the still grab above, the light is only a foot away from the left of Josh!

What I found here was the need for a brighter light. The 48-LED ring light provided great overall coverage of my subject, but I required a brighter beam to achieve the desired soft-skin and glimmer in the eye look. Although Rotolight produce large LED lights (Anova) for videography and cinematography, I didn’t need that much more power. I think for video it would be great to see this model brighter, or have different brightness levels, as usually you require more light than less – especially when adhering to the 180 degree shutter rule. Once your shutter and aperture are set, the only exposure controlling parameters you have is the ISO/ASA or your light sources brightness, and where you’re unable to move the light closer or further away from the subject; having a brighter light from the outset is more beneficial.  This is a small niggle from myself, but can be shown with examples in these still grabs –

rotolight sound and light videography video kit review music video filmmaking shoot videography night videoshoot filming car tracking model dark (Here the light from a street lamp came in very handy.)

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This shot was taken on a 14mm T/3.1 lens at ISO 1250. Although I have remedied the low light in Adobe Speedgrade, a green tint is visible across the frame. A minus green filter is included in the kit which can be used where the green spike (due to LED technology) is prominent, but as I was filming in near darkness I chose not to use the filter to get maximum light output, which by the way is 100w! During the shoot I also used the light hand-held to get intimate with my subject, but not blasting them in the face with an offensive flash gun or LED panel light.

Roto-Mic

Like I mentioned earlier, video is (in most cases) useless without good quality sound. Imagine watching a film or TV program and the sound is noisy and fades in and out as the presenter moves around the frame. It is distracting and essentially draws the audience away from the video, it is suddenly and mostly subconsciously hard to watch and enjoy. With current trends in pro-sumers moving to DSLR to make films and video, there is more pressure on achieving good quality sound when acquiring your footage; the built-in mic does not do your pictures justice.

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Here, Rotolight have entered the sound game by producing an on camera directional shotgun mic, with excellent pickup response and sound to noise ratio. When I first started out in freelance videography 3 years ago, I got myself the original Rode VideoMic; it was the best I could afford at the time, and it did the job I needed – to capture good quality audio that will enhance my video. Since then, Sennheizer, Audio-Technica, Hama and many more brands have seen the need for on camera mics for DSLR videographers, and a competitive market has emerged. One that the Roto-Mic will compete very well in due to its superb signal processing and price – an attractive offer to anyone seeking to invest in a cost-effective solution. You will need a 9V battery to power the Roto-mic, but it will last you a good 100 hours.

One very annoying problem with on camera microphones is noise added by the mic’s shock mount. The Rode VideoMic I have is notorious for that, creating a squeaking noise as you move or walk with the camera that was audible and therefore recorded into the sound of the video – very unwanted! The Roto-Mic shock mount has been specially designed to minimize any movement the mic may be affected by, holding the capsule stiff, without wobbling on the mount; keeping unwanted noise out.

Rotolight considered many filming scenarios when designing the new mic; it includes a gain adjustment of -10dB to +10dB which is very handy when you are far away from the subject or action, or are filming in a loud and noisy environment. A two step high pass filter is also built into the body of the mic which removes any wind noise and rumbles from the captured sound; perfect when filming outdoors. These small but important features show that Rotolight have done their research into where DSLR videographers are working, and how they need to use their kit.

I was really pleased with the results of the sound recorded with the Roto-Mic, I was expecting another Rode VideoMic moment but it never came. The mic surprised me with its quality recording, and with a little noise reduction in post production the final sound recording is clean and crisp.

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Rotolight has also been innovative in their mounting options, considering many different setups with the light and mic together. This makes a lovely change from complex accessories hanging off the camera to use two hot shoe mounts. The option to use the light mount, or to mount the light on the microphone gives you many different setup options that doesn’t restrict your shooting, and is not fiddly or complicated to change! I was using the mic and light together; here the mic mounts onto the camera hot shoe, and then the light can be pushed onto the barrel of the microphone. Although I was dubious of this at first, as it would add extra weight to the shock mount and possibly interfere with the sound recording; it has proved me wrong with being fully functional no matter how the light and mic is set up.

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My verdict

  • Fantastic kit if you are starting out in DSLR videography – a must have kit to get you started.
  • Ring light provides excellent soft light for work with models, people, macro and prominent subjects.
  • Filters included is really handy, although as I am heavy handed they are sometimes difficult to apply.
  • Battery life is second to none – 4 hours with recommended lithium AA batteries (x3) or regular lithium AA (x3) for 3 hours.
  • Various mounting options means shooting is not restricted.
  • Mic is broadcast quality – remember sound is just as important as video.
  • Gain adjustment is handy in quiet and noisy locations.
  • The Rotolight bag keeps your hands free!

Of course with every review there are some constructive criticism comments, but not many for me as my experience working with the Rotolight Sound and Light kit has been very pleasant. Firstly, a higher power portable light would be ideal for video, with intensity control. Secondly, now Rotolight has entered the sound game it would be great to see other microphones like hand held bi-directional or even lav mics, and a boost in the recording quality (maybe a Zoom competitor??!). Thirdly, and this isn’t criticism, more a request for a flexible light stand or arm so the light can be positioned in extreme and unusual angles.

I am recommending you to go out and get this kit if you’re into your DSLR video and photography and need a light source and microphone that you can take to every shoot you go to! It will definitely be coming with me in the future, and I can imagine the RL-48 LED light working fantastically for wedding films and interviews, teamed up with the Roto-Mic and you have a perfect, all in one, on camera ‘run and gun’ solution to your filmmaking and photography.

You can check out the video I produced for Rotolight demo’ing the new Sound and Light Kit here, and the music video will be released very soon!