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/

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Using Magic Lantern on 5D mark III firmware 1.2.3… Help!

I am very keen to hear from any Canon 5D owners that have successfully loaded Magic Lantern onto their mk III with the firmware version 1.2.3. This update is the most recent, and fixed a number of ‘phenomenons’ which can be found on Canon’s site.

ImagePhoto from Magic Lantern website.

From what I have seen on the vast internet that most creatives using ML on the mark III have rolled back their firmware to 1.1.3, which is the most up to date fw ML can install on. The results are fantastic, especially for shooting RAW; a particular interest of mine.

ImagePhoto from EOSHD website.

If you’ve ever installed Magic Lantern before, you would have seen on the complete screen details of a ‘Bootflag’ which had been successfully changed to allow ML to run.

The problem now occurs that with the recent Canon firmware update to 1.2.3 they changed something to do with the ‘Bootflag’ making it difficult for ML to be loaded onto the camera.

I know nothing about programming and developing so most of what is discussed in this forum is jargon to me, but it looks like it will take some time and very smart coders to work around this rather unhelpful nudge away from 3rd party hacks to develop Magic Lantern to run on the new firmware.

http://www.magiclantern.fm/forum/index.php?topic=8764.0

Why don’t I roll back my firmware to 1.1.3 you ask? I don’t want to! It was installed by Canon for a reason, to make the camera as best as it can be, and I would rather avoid stepping back a number of versions just in case it compromises the camera and my work. As you know, I’m a videographer so photo updates aren’t too important to me, but it is all key to keeping the camera functioning properly.

For anyone owning a Canon camera, please install Magic Lantern on it, it is an incredible plug in to assist your video and photo needs, providing you with great solutions to make shooting on a DSLR easier. You can learn more and download it here! Remember to support them too!

Please get in touch if you have been successful installing ML on firmware 1.2.3, I need you!!

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!

Shooting with Manfrotto Gear

For those that are unfamiliar with my work, I’m a Manfrotto Ambassador for Videography! Look at this picture…

ed2

Can you see the Manfrotto tripod and video head?

I do not know I would do without them, and without a doubt Manfrotto equipment provides photographers and videographers alike a quality, reliable and affordable priced equipment that can be used in more than a variety of situations.

 

I’m a videographer, and growing up with Vinten legs and heads made me realize the difference in useability and functionality that Manfrotto provides for me. I use the 055PROXB Tripod and Mini video fluid head, and for the package price of £150 it provides the perfect solution.

I’ve used the above kit for a couple of years now, and only now am I finding the need to change my legs to a lighter option; not even changing the type. I am going to buy exactly the same legs in a carbon fiber model. That’s how good these legs are.

The functionality of a ball head is useful for every tripod without one, but the extension column provides a unique 90 degree angle view with is essential for tabletop animations for a versatile producer like myself.

ed1

Is that a superclamp I see? Ye it is! The Manfrotto superclamp is one of those pieces of kit that should never leave your bag. Need I say more? The superclamp can hold up to 17Kg and includes a winch screw for micro-adjustment, as well as a stand adapter socket if you are using a lighting stand or lighting adapter to add more fixtures to the clamp. I use it with a magic arm and Lilliput 7″ HD LCD monitor with it, allowing multi angle viewing for many different camera angles.

I hope you have seen my adoration for Manfrotto gear, and I will be working with Bjorn Thomassen on more Manfrotto and Canon sponsored shoots, and I am looking forward to trying out new gear Mr Dave Beck!

My previous work with Manfrotto includes the production of the ML240 LED Light advert – http://vimeo.com/41688532

 

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I’m offering 10% off on all productions until the 15th of November 2013! Check out my work at

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Tokina’s NEW Cine Lenses!

At IBC 2013, Tokina announced a new range of cine lenses for Super35 and Full Frame sensors which include a full line up from 11-16mm, 16-26mm and 50-135mm, all at T3, and all manual.

tokina16-28-1

I had a chat with Chris, the General Manager of Tokina about the lenses at their booth. He was just as excited as I was about the release of the new range, the 11-16mm especially. This is due to the small sensor size of the Black Magic Cinema Camera, which has a 2x (+-) magnification factor. This causes a standard 16mm lens to be multiplied to around 40mm, so achieving wide angle shots becomes rather difficult.

tokina11-16-1

However (and I had no idea people had been converting the already famous Tokina 11-16mm ATX for Super35 mounts) Tokina saw the potential and grabbed the chance to deliver a sharp, accurate and very bright lens. The build quality is fantastic, and the resulting image is a wonderful wide angle!

tokina11-16-2-1

Chris also talked about the range including the 16-28mm and 50-135mm which is to be released in November this year, I cannot wait to get my hands on one! They did not have the 50-135mm on display, but as you can see from the size of the 16-28mm it will probably be a beast of a piece of glass! I am expecting a separate lens barrel stand or some kind of rig-rail to keep it on the camera!

tokina16-28-2-1

I’m in contact with the guys over at Tokina so I will keep updating on the progress of the lenses and new models!