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/

What a WILD weekend!

It’s been another busy one!

Firstly, let me welcome all of the new followers to my blog! Thanks very much for liking previous posts and I hope you enjoy the future content and bits I post up here 🙂

Time is drawing closer to the Manfrotto Takeover at Park Cameras in London, I am preparing my seminar these next coming weeks so it would be great to answer any questions you may have about equipment, videography and post production; please get sending them through, and I look forward to seeing you on the 30th but remember to register!

Manfrotto Takeover!

Manfrotto Takeover

Here are some videos I’ve checked out this week for some inspiration;

The style of this animation is 2D yet very much 3D in its shading and motion.

Incredible BTS showing how OKGO made their viral one shot music video.

This hilarious video is definitely up there to watch, both on the comedy and the shooting.

The wild weekend began with a trip to Norbury Park near Leatherhead. I’m usually one to take my camera everywhere, but I vowed against it this weekend as I (strangely speaking) wanted to get to know my iPhone camera better!

Out Geocaching with Glen, we got a number of caches along the River Mole and up towards Great Bookham. I really recommend trips like this, especially if you are stuck behind a computer for long hours.. Getting out and walking has proven to boost creativity and the imagination! So, armed with my iPhone I snapped away using the camera app, it is a challenge to get the exposure you’re after with this basic camera!

Panoramic Box Hill Mickleham Surrey iphone photography country silhouette iphone photography daisies and sunset bookham silhouette walking iphone photography

 

On Saturday I headed up to Nether Winchendon House with Rob to film the wedding of Lorna and Lauri. The grounds of the house were stunning, a long, treed driveway leading up to three arches. Rob captured some great aerial footage on the drone and I shot from the ground.

back of nether winchendon house oxford bicester stunning wedding venue filming iphone driveway leading to nether winchendon house wedding filming iphone oxford bicester beautiful long driveway leading to nether winchendon house wedding filming

I used the Manfrotto 755 Aluminium tripod and the Edelkrone Slider+ v2, accompanied by the Samyang Cine primes and Tamron 24-70 on the Canon 5D mkII.

The flowers were beautiful;

peonies lavendar and mint bride bridal flower floral bouquet wedding film peonies lavendar and mint bride bridal flower floral bouquet wedding filming

The rain was not.. But didn’t put a dampener on the day! Despite the rain, Lorna made it to the church for a beautiful ceremony in the village. They lead the wedding party on foot back through the country lane to Nether Winchendon House for the rest of the day! Set in a stunning location, every detail had been considered from unique signposts to bean bags and a life size Stig. The intricacy of flowers in jars, photographs and bouquets hanging from a ladder in the barn, stunning to see and wonderful to film too.

Nether Winchendon House barn wedding reception breakfast room panoramic flowers table decorations wedding filming

It was a dream wedding on the filming side, and I’m sure there will be a highlights video very soon of the day!

On Sunday, after getting back quite late from the wedding I headed out to Friday Street (in between Dorking, Guildford and Horsham) for the day with Glen. We are quite lucky living here, in the way that forests and rural life is only a short distance away, and I like to make the most of it! We were out Geocaching and playing with Glens new remote control helicopter, which then instantly made me want a drone.. I guess a £1000 spend for the drone, gimball and GoPro equates to a £20 hand sized RC Heli, right?

foxglove wooded path friday street geocaching walk iphone photography lake near friday street geocaching walk iphone photography silver berch glade friday street iphone photography

Monday rolled around pretty quickly, and I was having withdrawal symptoms from not filming or photographing anything when I was out on Friday and Saturday.. So come Monday afternoon I was back at Friday Street getting some filming done of the lush green forest that surrounded me! I used the Manfrotto 755CX tripod, Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 OS, Rotolight Roto-mic and a few more lenses.

friday street nature landscape forest woodland photography friday street nature landscape forest woodland photography friday street nature landscape forest woodland photography friday street nature landscape forest woodland photography friday street nature landscape forest woodland photography canon dslr video filming sigma 70-200 rotomic manfrotto tripod

This week I’m working on the Soundbox studios opening video that I shot a few weeks ago, it will be edited to their flagship artists new single by Rebecca James. It’s going well, going for the black and white look as it works well with the dark studio atmosphere that they had going on 🙂

It was shot on the 5D mkIII with Samyang cine lenses, Flycam and the Edelkrone slider+ v2.

Soundbox music recording studio opening day video filming highlights

Remember, send over your video questions to get featured in my Manfrotto seminar, and share your work with me too!

Behind the scenes of yesterdays Wellbeing videoshoot!

06:30

Kit bag, check.

Audio kit, check.

Lighting, check.

Brain, just about.

bts early morning sky

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;

VideoCanon 5D mkIII, Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC, Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 OS, Canon 60D.

AudioZoom H6, Roto-Mic, Sennheiser ENG-G3 100 wireless.

Grip Manfrotto 755CX3 tripod + MVH500AH, Manfrotto 190Pro-B (old version) tripod, Super clamp and magic arm.

Lighting – Daylight balanced 85W studio light with soft umbrella.

Extras – Lilliput 1018 (I am currently testing out and reviewing this product).

behind the scenes videography equipment

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).

behind the scenes make up artist Char1 behind the scenes make up artist Char2 Char doing her make up thang!

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.
  • bts wellbeing light setup

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.

behind the scenes camera dslr audio setup light

Audio

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.

Behind the scenes wellbeing video shoot adam plowden videography canon 5D lilliput

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…

adams broken down car

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 un-synced A bunch of un-synced video and audio clips gets transformed into this –  behind the scenes pluraleyes sync video

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.

Working with the new Panasonic GH4

We had another toying test day yesterday, with new glass too; the Panasonic/Leica 25mm F/1.4 (equivalent to 50mm F/1.4) and the Panasonic 100-300mm F/2.8 (equivalent to 200-600mm F/2.8). We keep finding great features and little things that make this camera wow us!

 

We were out filming and testing out the capabilities of the camera at Epsom’s Thai festival taster, we used the 14-140mm F/3.5-5.6 OIS lens recording in 4K. The video will be uploaded and shared soon!

Trials of editing audio

For those that who have ever been at a gig and lunged their phone or camera in the air to try and capture some of the performance will know that the only sound recorded by the terrible on board mic will be CCCCCCCCRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, or just distorted noise.

Luckily, I record with external microphones when I film performances, usually because there isn’t another option. Bands these days can’t afford to hire a PA system with a multi channel mixer w/EQ, especially for one off performances, so it is common to see, so always be prepared!

There will always, however be background noise and hissing that will need to be removed from the recorded audio, I’m using Adobe Audition at the moment to eradicate that from the John Sinclair performance, as its functions for calculating and removing frequencies from audio tracks is phenomenal.

audio

Videomic Go!

RODE’s new on-board microphone for small cameras!

Why is music so important to your production?

As videographers come and go, especially those that focus more on the visuals rather than the audio aspect of production, some may not realize the importance of the sound that accompanies the visuals. It builds atmosphere, tension, and can play on many different emotions and feelings that is just not possible through visuals (hearing someone behind you for example).

Remember, AUDIO is 50% of a final video or film, the other 50% is the VISUALS. Without good audio, your audiences perception of the recreated reality portrayed in the visuals becomes blurred as it is not realistic to hear naturally, think about it!

If you are working on a production where you know the quality of the audio or visuals will be compromised, then have a back up plan! I shoot all the time on my Canon 60D, DSLR’s having notoriously terrible in built microphones so I overcome this in ENG situations by using a RODE Videomic, which does the job. However, for exceptionally clean and high quality audio recording an external mic+recorder device is crucial especially for talking heads! I used the Zoom H2 audio recorder to capture the sound externally, to then sync up in post.

A GREAT TIP!! If you are in a shooting situation that allows; set the camera and audio device recording and clap. This will create a spike in the audio waveform and will make it so much easier to sync up later on!

My reason for discussing; I’m currently choosing the accompanying music for the GLF conference video. I use a site called Audio Network to source most of my audio media as it has great creative commons uses and is reasonably priced too, as well as having such a vast array of production style music.

So far, to go with the up-beat and enthusiastic, youthful visuals I have chosen these two to go with the visuals; let me know what you think!

If You Wanna

How’s It Going?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the music, and any similar production questions or issues you may be having!

What do YOU want to know about Video, Editing, Graphics, Audio, Live?

I’ve had my fair share of experience over the last couple of years, working in many different situations from audio engineering at the London 2012 Olympic Games, to single filming the Prime Minister of Kuwait, to weddings, to motion graphics and more.

I can write about pretty much any of the above situations, the camera skills and techniques used as well as anything else really, but I want to hear from YOU so you can learn from this blog!

What do you want me to write about? Do you have any questions about the video and media industry or its practices?

Contact me so I can help!!

One big problem that lots of solo or freelance videographers stumble across is sound. It is easy for some to focus only on the visuals, rather than both the visuals and audio; one has to remember that a piece of media is 50/50 between V and A, so capturing crisp and audible sound is just as important as in focus, well exposed images.
I’ve had countless problems with sound over the years, more recently I have found practical solutions using the Zoom H4N, but before I had access to that portable stereo recorder I used a Rode VideoMic.
Many newbies will be famililar with it; a standard on-camera shotgun mic with ok quality.. Very ok to the sub standard level. One issue I’ve always had with it is the amount of background room noise, but Adobe Audition does a reasonably good job of removing the sound print from the signal.

However, all that terrible tech is about to change as Zoom have begun shipping their all new H6; a 6 channel portable recorder, with interchangeable mic capsules! I’ve just watched the test + review from B&H and it looks incredible, and it would be hard to forget fantastic quality sound with that bulky piece of kit in the bag!
I’ve been in contact with the Zoom team so lets hope I can get my hands on one soon!