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:

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

Cat-pics from my break today

This gallery contains 6 photos.

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

Spring in Surrey

I had a venture out of my workspace today, I’m quite lucky in where I live is surrounded by green. Just down the road there is Horton Country Park, further afield is Epsom Common and The Downs, where you have seen videos and photos from with Glen for Manfrotto.

With sunshine beaming, I gathered by camera gear and took a walk into the wild.

Todays kit included the Canon 5DmkIII, Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC and Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 OS. I kept it simple for a change!

Here are a couple of photos from my walk, having the chance to take a RAW photo and a JPEG and then edit the CR2’s in Photoshop makes me want RAW video so badly. You get lots more wiggle room, or latitude to work with in post processing to enhance the photos, please Magic Lantern help all of us 5DmkIII videographers out and get a stable RAW video release out soon!

Adams video week roundup!

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

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

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

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

screenshot graphics design drawing art 2d vector create illustrator

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

Pre-vis sketches:

design plan planning graphics creation motion animation

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

graphic storyboard plan pre-production animation motion graphics

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

video shoot equipment kit list manfrotto camera dslr fashion hair photoshoot lemonade factory

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

My kit list was as follows:

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

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

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

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

Zoom H6, Rotolight Roto-mic.

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

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

A couple of frame grabs from the shoot!

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

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

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

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

Do Less = Do More by Chase Jarvis

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

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

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

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

Todays VideoQuestions – Image Stabilization

Image stabilization, vibration control, optical stabilization or whatever you wish to call it is an -in lens- operation that reduces pan and tilt vibrations and shake that would blur the captured image. It works by using electromagnets to align a floating lens element, which corrects the shake and vibration over the two axis; left and right, up and down.

Image stabilization is included in a range of lenses from manufacturers, but you will notice the heftier price tag in comparison to a non-IS version due to the extra element in the lens. I will try to clarify the importance of using IS when you’re out filming, and why I use IS lenses for my work.

ef_70-200mmf4_lusm[1] The Canon 70-200mm F/4 without IS = £519

ef-70-200mm-f-4l-is-usm-fsl---1258b005aa[1]This Canon 70-200mm F/4 with IS = £894

When choosing your camera body, tripod, mic and all of the other accessories that seem to be required for DSLR videography, one of the hardest will be choosing the right lenses for what work you would like to do, to cover a wide range of focal lengths and apertures, and how much money you want to spend. All three of those points will affect each other in your final purchase choice, but I hope to help narrow down your choices.

What will you be filming?

One key point to consider, as if you are filming live action sports you will require a different set of tools compared to model and fashion videos. Both however will benefit from at least one IS lens in your kit bag. I work in many different areas and styles of videography, so the kit I carry is an all round solution to whether I’ll be at the back of a conference hall, or only centimeters away from my subject so being prepared before you know what you are shooting on the day is key – also where IS lenses come in handy!

It isn’t recommended to use Image Stabilization when you are filming on a tripod as this can cause frame-by-frame jitter, where the lens attempts to correct smooth movement. But for all the times the camera is not on a steady support like a tripod, having IS will correct any major shake and blurring that occurs in the lens.

So, imagine holding the camera on a monopod with a lens and then tilting or panning. Inherently some shaking will occur from you moving the camera. Depending on your focal length or how far you have zoomed in, this will also multiply the visible blur, also remember DSLR’s rolling shutter which will also be added too if you’re not careful! Is that too much to think about when shooting video? Yeah it sure is. But having an IS lens will correct a good portion of the errors.

Another great example is sports, and running and gunning with the camera (wedding videography for example) where you are moving around a lot.

What focal lengths are you working with?

IS lenses come in a range of focal lengths; the standards are the 24-70 range and 70-200 range. If you are working with subjects closer to you, in the wide and portrait range, then having a 24-70mm with IS can be operated pretty well hand-held or on a monopod (I’d always recommend using at least one support method to achieve steady shots, either a tripod, monopod, rig etc). However if you are going to be further away from your subject then the longer focal length of 70-200 will work better for your needs.

The focal ranges in between the wide and telephoto can be achieved either by zooming, or by using prime lenses which traditionally do not have IS so will have more shake regardless of your mounting or grip method.

Price

You will have to pay more for an IS lens, it is an additional function that works to correct the image before it is recorded, but it is worth the cost. You may only end up purchasing one lens with IS, but I recommend choosing the lens you will use the most to future-proof your purchase.

Models of Lenses and Manufacturers

Presumably, if you are filming on a DSLR you’ll have a Canon body with an EF-mount for the lenses. Canon manufacture very high quality L series lenses with IS, but if you are starting out in this game they will blow your budget immediately. 3rd party manufacturers like Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and Samyang produce incredible quality lenses too, and just because they aren’t Canon doesn’t mean you can’t use them with the camera you have; many 3rd parties allow you to choose the correct lens mount for the camera.

I went down this route when choosing my new equipment, and after plenty of testing and research I chose the Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC and the Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 OS, and for me they perform outstandingly.

In many cases you will be using an APS-C size sensor camera like the 60D, 600D, 70D which also have their own range of lenses that are considerably cheaper than their full-frame brothers, some that I have worked with in the past that I can recommend are –

Budget solution – Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 VCNext best thing if you have the money – Canon 17-55 F/2.8 IS

For a longer focal length, above 100mm you’ll have to dig a little deeper in your pocket to get a good quality lens with IS. I did purchase this lens when I started, but because I purchased the NON-OS version it has pretty much been gathering dust in my bag, as at 200mm the image was too shaky and had quite a bit of chromatic aberration. Sigma 18-200 F3.5 to 6.3.. a semi pointless purchase for me, so follow this lesson!

How does using a steadicam affect the stabilization?

Good question. A steadicam is a device that counter balances the weight of the camera and lens to achieve a smooth flowing motion to movement, and takes lots of practice. Using a stabilizer won’t imitate image stabilization, or make the image less shaky – so to speak. This depends on the lenses you are using, how fast you are moving and the experience of the steadicam operator. Using an IS lens on a steadicam will certainly correct shake over the two axis, but a steadicam works on 3 axis so shake and blur is inherent unless you shoot at a higher frame rate or apply stabilization correction in post production.

I tend to shoot most of my steadicam footage at 50fps, capturing double the frames which when played back in slow motion smooths out any jitter or quick movement. Shooting in slow motion is a really cool and creative tool, so it is worth playing around with, but remember you will be recording at a lower resolution of 720p, not 1080p (darn you Canon hurry up and give me this!!).

I shot the example material today, so will top and tail the clips and get them up tomorrow, so watch this space!

Conclusion

Get a lens with IS, or VC or OS as your standard, go-to lens. If you’re going to use a steadicam too, having stabilization on a wide angle lens will be doubly effective and means less stabilization in post!

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.

 

Interview/Epsom Downs/Nutfield Priory Filming Sunday!

Sunday is always a hectic day for me, and yesterday encompassed helping Glen with his dissertation; he interviewed me about getting jobs in the broadcasting industry after university. He filmed it on the 5DmkIII, Samyang 85mm T1.5 Cine, Lilliput field monitor, Zoom H6 & Sennheiser ENG-100, Manfrotto 055CX and my new MODA RIG – in studio production mode.

Canon 5DmkIII with Samyang 85mm cine lens

It was a great opportunity for me to test out all of the new equipment on a video shoot together, and being on the other side of the camera was definitely interesting form me!

glen symes dissertation behind the scenes interview

We then took a trip up to Epsom Downs, it was a really clear day so from the viewpoint I could see London on the horizon, with the Shard gleaming in the winter sunlight. This was taken on the 5D with the Sigma 70-200.

I got some pictures of the MODA rig in action, we were using it in two setups for the various shoots that day; the production mode for a large DSLR body and lens with cage and shoulder mount, as well as micro rig mode for a Canon 60D and cage. This shows how flexible the MODA rig really is in different shooting scenarios!

Camsmart MODA rig with canon 5Dmk iii camsmart moda camera rig canon 5dmkiii

We then jetted off to Nutfield Priory near Redhill for the last video shoot of the day, for Steve from Partytime entertainment. He has an awesome new setup with white speakers, moving heads, star cloth, light up dance floor and now a dry ice machine!

Using the MODA rig with the Canon 5DmkIII, and a combination of lenses from Samyang 14mm T3.1 to Tamron 24-70 to a GoPro, myself and Glen captured the night. The dry ice was used for the couples first dance which looked great!

partytime

The footage from this shoot will go to John Harris Media, as part of a bigger project with Partytime, so I am looking forward to seeing the results!

I have also been working on the behind the scenes videos for the SWPP conference, showing how you can use Canon, Manfrotto and Elinchrom products to produce fantastic video on DSLR. I’ve been experimenting with beauty looks for one of the models…

Grading test for Canon/MF/Elinchrom BTS

There will be lots more coming over the next few days, I am currently buried under lots of post production work as well as developing Camsmarts new products too. Tonight I am out filming and taking photos for a new florist at Epsom RAC, so look forward to some new beauty snaps!

Happy New Year to you!

Samyang cine lenses getting my head in a tizz

Urgh.. I hate not being able to make up my mind about what equipment to get, as it is so hard to tell without good experience and field testing, getting to know the kit before you buy it. I’m having this problem with the Samyang Cine Lenses.

They look fantastic, well constructed lenses, fully manual in a range of focal lengths and de-clicked apertures from T1.5. This however is the question; would it be better to buy the Samyang Cine Lens kit, or a 24-70, 70-200 f2.8 IS (with the samyang 14mm and 85mm)???

I’m predominantly a videographer, but I enjoy having the flexibility of zoom lenses, especially for ENG style work, live event filming etc, and the fixed aperture and stabilization is key for video. So, a couple of fast zooms seems sensible to keep in the kit bag for everyday use.

However, what about for those sharp, cinematic, shallow depth of field shots that can only be achieved with a cine lens..

 

Any advice, please share! Ooh and check out the link below for a similar situation if you are stuck like me!

http://bit.ly/19kUk8I