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Kit bag, check.
Audio kit, check.
Brain, just about.
Yesterday I was out filming talking heads and some b-roll for a Wellbeing project on behalf of EEBC. Wellbeing is our general mental and physical health, but there are many factors in the way that we live that can affect our chances of developing serious health problems in the future. These include some sensitive subjects, that I was capturing to provide an information base for those in the community that may be suffering, or have friends and relatives of those diagnosed with; Cancer, Coronary Heart Disease, Dementia and Diabetes.
I was featuring nutritional expert Yvonne McMeel throughout the videos, so I began by planning my main piece to camera with her in the Wellbeing Centre.
This was a standard video shoot, so I packed my kit bag to be prepared with whatever the day would bring! This included;
Lighting – Daylight balanced 85W studio light with soft umbrella.
Extras – Lilliput 1018 (I am currently testing out and reviewing this product).
I took along the Lilliput 1018; the new flagship 10 inch touch screen field monitor, which produced crisp pictures and well represented colours. I ran this on a F-970 battery with HDMI through from the 5D, so I could monitor both. This did however cause the camera to heat up quite quickly. However, the monitor has awesome features usually found on high end products which include; exposure and focus peaking, on screen waveform monitors, levels and much more, which came in very handy for assessing the quality of the picture. (More coming later regarding this product).
I began setup at 9am, shortly followed by Char the make up artist who set up her bits. The location for filming was the Wellbeing Centre, which as a wonderfully bright open facade with big doors and windows. Luckily enough, blaring heat and sunshine poured through the windows, so that was my key light at slightly cooler than daylight colour balance at 5200k. This also matched the daylight light fixture I was using to add a fill and kick to the subject.
Why did I use a 2-point light setup?
I could have rocked up with the intention of using just the daylight and the incandescent lights in the centre with the mentality that it will illuminate my subject well, but there are risks you have to be willing to take if you approach lighting in a casual way. Some points to remember when thinking about lighting your subjects;
- Are they defined from the background?
- Do they have harsh shadows on their face?
- Moving sunlight will change throughout the day, in brightness, direction and colour.
Now, when you haven’t been to the location before it is difficult to judge the lighting conditions, so firstly if you can have a RECCE of the location. It is very beneficial as you can begin to compose the scene, judging the internal and external lighting, now noisy the environment is, whether you will need a backdrop instead of a plain background.. All points to consider before you turn up with the camera kit and begin filming.
Defining the subject from the background is what makes them look 3-dimensional and not flat, this is the same for the shadows too as it shows that features are visible on the face. With DSLR’s it is possible to use depth of field to define your subject from the background, but lighting can also be used to ‘pop’ the subject out of the BG.
Harsh shadows are caused by strong direct light, and are unwanted as they mask features and don’t represent the subject properly, unless this is the effect you are looking for. For piece to cameras and interviews having soft shadows around the nose show the features of the subject, again making them look real.
The sunlight is your best friend and worst enemy at the same time… As the Earth rotates, we move further away or closer to the sun which changes the lights direction; if you start filming in the morning with your subject lit from the front, by 12 noon the sun is over head and by the late afternoon the light will be behind you. To combat this, keep continuity by filming at the same times each day, or even simpler be aware of the suns direction and gradually rotate the subject and other lights to keep a constant illumination. For me, I was filming from 11am through to 15:00 with the sunlight to my left for the whole day which was very beneficial, but not every time will I be that lucky!
Watch out for clouds that can block the sunlight, and be aware of how the colour temperature of daylight changes throughout the day; cool in the morning and warm in the evening. For me, shooting in midday sun meant a constant temperature of 5200K for both cameras, matching the other light.
The use of a kicker or fill light, pushes out the shadows caused by the key light (the sun), and gives a halo effect to the hair of the subject making them stand out. The difference is subtle but effective.
Camera Setup and Composition
Once I had my lighting up and running, it was time to set up the cameras and audio equipment. I was going to shoot using the Samyang 35mm T/1.5 cine lens, but this would result in being intimately close to Yvonne, the subject, which would be quite off putting and may add shadows/interference such as me rustling papers to the recording. Instead, I used a telephoto lens as I can be a good distance away from the subject, and create a narrow field of view that frames up as an MCU (medium close up).
My main A camera was the 5D mkIII, and although the Sigma lens can open up its aperture to F/2.8 for shallow depth of field, this was not required for today. Instead, the camera was set to F/4.5 for a still shallow depth of field, but deep enough for the subject to move forward and backwards in the frame a little, and to de-focus the background. The ISO was set to 200, although when the Sun disappeared behind clouds I would ride the ISO to 250 or 320 depending. To stick to the 180 degree shutter rule, the electronic shutter remained locked at 1/50th.
The B camera was the Canon 60D, I paired this with the sharp Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 and shot wide open, again riding the ISO when required. I did this because this camera was capturing a wide shot of the subject, so depth of field was not noticeable. To keep continuity, both cameras were set to a white balance/colour temperature of 5200K, but it appears that the 60D picture is slightly yellow/green than the 5D picture.
The often forgotten partner to the pretty pictures you see, having top quality audio is just as important as having your subject in focus and exposed. I used the Zoom H6 as my recorder, with the XY mic attached to capture one stereo recording. I also used the Sennheiser ENG-G3 wireless mic kit, attaching a lav/lapel mic to the subject which would be my main audio source. As a back up I also used the Rotolight Roto-Mic plugged into the 5D just in case. Remember to take headphones so you can monitor the sound recording, just like you would use the cameras screen to compose the picture.
The filming went brilliantly. As a precaution I decided to use the ‘record to multiple card’ function in the 5D so I had a back up of the footage in case the cards got corrupted from such long recording times. As mentioned earlier with the lighting, as the light slowly changed, I also adjusted the position of the kick/fill to push back the shadows.
I was very impressed with the Lilliput 1018 field monitor too, and although it is larger than monitors I would usually use the touch screen control and diverse functions suited the shoot well, so I could keep a close eye on the changing light levels.
After the principal piece to camera filming was complete, I ventured out into Epsom and Ewell with Yvonne to film some b-roll pieces that would add to the information and dialogue about wellbeing and health. So, we visited Shadbolt Park outdoor gym, Ewell Court Library, Epsom’s Derby Square, we were going to hit the market but by that time it was 17:30 and no chance of finding fresh fruit and veg to film.. We returned to the car to go to the last location, Epsom Downs, when this happened…
My car broke down. The filming day abruptly ended with a call to my insurers for recovery, while I also arranged a taxi for Yvonne to take her to the train station. That didn’t put a dampener on the day though, I had captured great video and dialogue that I hope will help many people in the borough and wider community who may be suffering with cancer, heart disease, diabetes or dementia.
I then ingested the footage, and backed up a whopping 80Gb of footage and audio.. Lots to edit through, but thankfully those wonderful geniuses at Red Giant have a tool called Pluraleyes which can sync video with externally recorded video, so suddenly the issue to matching up the audio to the video disappeared, saving me potentially hours of work!
Pluraleyes then allows you to export the sequence as an XML that I then imported into Adobe Premiere Pro to edit! It’s ready to go!
Overall, very happy with the footage and the outcome of the first day! I need to get out and shoot some more cutaways/b-roll of healthy food, socializing and some more bits and bobs to add.
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).
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.
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.
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;
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!
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!
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..!!
That’s all for now folks! Keep the creative juices flowing!
I’ve been waiting months to finally have a computer that can handle the work that I do!! Previously working on laptops (which coincidentally die each year) I needed to step up the game to a high performance desktop which will expand my capabilities in not only video editing, but also motion graphics and compositing.
I got myself an i7, NVIDIA 650TI 2Gb graphics card and all the rest to allow working speedily in Adobe applications (taking advantage of the mercury playback engines) and also allowing me to use Speedgrade and DaVinci Resolve for professional colour grading as the new graphics card is CUDA enabled!! My workflow speed will go through the roof!
Throughout all of January, the components dribbled in one by one, until it was only the PSU to come. Amaz0n buggered up my order, which I was expecting in 2-4 weeks. The order then got pushed back another 2-4 weeks, which I was furious about, so got on to Amazon support who clarified the ‘warehouse’ issue.. Everything is computerized these days so I don’t understand how a major marketplace cannot get there warehouse stock levels and back order numbers right!!
I cancelled my order with Amazon, and put it through Scan instead, who delivered the Corsair 1000w PSU in only 2 days. Top service!
Being impatient (eager), I wanted to get the new computer going as quickly as possible so I begun assembling the components in the case. I had never done this before so the nerves were running riot, washing my hands every couple of minutes to make sure I wasn’t getting grease or dirt on the motherboard. It was stressful, but I managed to get most of the bits it, bar the CPU and hard drives.
Yesterday Sam helped me put together the rest of the components and the cabling, and the building of my new workstation – could not have done it without him!
Now all I have to do is fill it up with my work and data, install Adobe and then I can get working!
Are you in need of innovative, cinematic and artistic promotional video’s and media, that makes your business, product, event or service stand out, attract a wide audience and immerse them in the visuals and sound?
I’m offering 10% off on all productions until the 15th of November 2013! Check out my work at
and get in contact!
I got a surprise through the post today, it was the new Lilliput 7″ HD Field Monitor, this one has great features including HDMI, YPbPr, composite and audio inputs, as well as audio monitoring which is handy. Here are some snaps from my play around today.
The colour reproduction, contrast and screen resolution is much better than the Camax model, yielding a more realistic picture. Still some functionality and operation issues to iron out but over all a great product out of the box!
I will be putting up a video soon, including filming in studio and on-location situations, as well as testing out the screen quality too, so keep updated, and if you have any questions just send them in!
I thought it was about time to sort out all of my equipment too, as I have them in bags and boxes all over the place, organization is rather important to avoid losing things! I got this great suitcase from The Olympic Broadcasting Service when I worked at the London 2012 Olympics, so I put my big camera bag, as well as my rig, batteries, and a BlackmagicDesign bag full of cables in it. Can’t believe I lug this amount of kit around though! (Minus the Nikon in the little bag as that rarely sees the light of day 😦 ).
Give us a share and a shout!
Good afternoon! Its a blazing hot day here, I’m preparing my trip to IBC (checking flights and passes etc), and getting to know the other IBC Rising Stars at this years IBC in Amsterdam. I’m so excited!
I’ve been busy with a variety of jobs since my last post, including photography and shooting. I helped out a make up artist friend of mine by doing a photoshoot with a model in Hampton Court and Bushy Park. Here are some of the best photos:
Leanne Cook is the Make Up Artist and has loads of experience in TV and special occasion make up. Here’s a link to her site – http://www.leannecook-mua.com/
I’ve also been working on a couple of weddings with JHWF, here is one that I shot in The Orangery, Holland Park, Kensington.
Other recent updates include the testing and shoot with the Camax LCD High Definition Field Monitor for videography, cinematography, broadcasting and photography. A full review of the field monitor will be uploaded soon, for now here are a couple of stills and my first thoughts about the monitor.
- Very easy to use straight out the box (although lack of battery and longer cables held me back from using it immediately on location, which I had to purchase separately.)
- Basic functionality for a low cost solution.
- Lightweight; great for on location or light rig solutions.
- Overall a good basic solution to a field monitor, however this product should be specified by its packaging and reflected in the quality in design of the packaging and the manual and firmware.
- I was surprised to see a battery not included.
What else has been going on? Oh yes! I am now a Manfrotto Local Hero, and have my profile on their page! Many thanks to Dave Beck for your help, and I am extremely excited for our LED lighting field test shoot this Friday! I will be testing out the 5 new on-camera LED lights, as well as the new 1×1 flood panels (bi-colour and daylight/tungsten), got a music video and model shoot lined up so keep following for the updates!
Here is the link to my Manfrotto Local Heroes profile – http://www.manfrotto.us/Local+Heroes/Adam+Plowden/52400709
Apart from all that, IBC is coming up next week which I am so ecstatically excited for! If you are attending and want to meet up then get in touch!