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!

Video Questions; Choosing the right camera, picture profiles and using ND filters!

Heyo all! Thanks for sending in your questions, I will try to answer as many as I can will practical, real world examples! If you have any more, please send them my way!

Question from Chris via Facebook: “Can you recommend any camcorders for HD video and good low light performance?”

Answer: A DSLR for video is not the right choice everytime. Why do you think television broadcasters use camcorders and system cameras? For broadcasting, there are regulations and legal limits that must be followed for the final video to be shown live; there are many including the compression of the video signal, the black and white level (check out waveform monitors and video signal) to name a couple. DSLR’s do not adhere to these regulations hence we don’t see TV crews running around with 5D’s in London.

Where DSLR’s produce a great image due to the large CMOS sensor, they have big restrictions such as needing to change lenses, poor audio support (unless you invest in audio equipment), rolling shutting, aliasing, moire.. I could keep going.

So, taking camcorders in the equation; most have long zoom ranges (20x and more!) at wide apertures, with additional digital gain, in built ND filters, built in stereo microphone and audio in/out. The sensors are different too, some using CCD (which splits the 3 colour channels) for better colour rendition and less compression.

These days, manufacturers such as Sony, Canon, JVC produce ENG (electronic news gathering) camcorders with those above features, meaning no extra kit to carry, most are hand held or shoulder mount for ease of use. Therefore it is seemingly easier to video on a camcorder, until you require a large sensor camera for artistic video.

Product recommendations for camcorders – Sony AX and VG range, Canon Legria, XA and XF range, JVC produce great camcorders too and have stepped up their game over the last year with the GM-HY range including a 4K model too.

If you want to spend a little more, the Sony HXr-NX3 (recently reviewed by Den Lennie) looks incredible for what you get in one camera – http://www.sony.co.uk/pro/article/broadcast-products-get-close-up-hxr-nx3

Next question from SAHIB on Twitter: “Do you use a neutral picture style when shooting, and do you use neutral density filters?”

Answer: For those unaware of picture profiles on your camera, check them out in the 3rd section of the movie shooting (red) menu (for Canon users). There are a number of options listed, which alter the way the picture is recorded depending on your choice, you can also customize these profiles too using the INFO button.

Canon picture styles – Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome.

I will not be detailing the ins and outs of all the picture styles, more of a visual comparison.

What does a picture profile do? Much like LUTS, picture styles adjust the intensity level of the; Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation and Colour Tone in the image, so what picture profile you use can change the ‘look’ of the video you capture.

Check out this video I put together today showing the results of the cameras picture profiles, and others I have loaded onto the camera. You can see a clear change in the image, but it is subtle differences that will make your video work stand out.

https://vimeo.com/85655816

I previously used the Neutral picture profile, customized to reduce the contrast, saturation and colour tone to produce a very grey and flat image. I was using this profile to achieve this look, as it is how RAW footage is captured to then be graded in post production. Neutral does replicate this ‘flat’ look, but after doing research into other profiles, Neutral reduces the data that is required in the picture (the contrast and saturation) that I would then put back in in post. This causes noise to be generated in the image, and can cause it to look unnatural and crushed, as the contrast and saturation that had been removed by the picture profile is being added back in later in the workflow.

That was long, but I hope it makes sense. If you compare the ‘Standard’ to ‘Neutral’ there is an evident drop in saturation and contrast, with a loss of detail in the top of the trees. If you compare ‘Neutral’ to ‘VisionColor’, there is an increase in saturation and contrast in the shadows and highlights.

The ‘Neutral’ picture style, similar to Technicolor CineStyle reduces the data the sensor captures, so I would not recommend using it if you plan to do colour correction and grading in your workflow. REMEMBER – whatever you capture when out filming will ‘burn in’ the detail, colours, sharpness and contrast into the image, making it harder to edit and remove unwanted errors. So, it would be better to use a profile that holds the data and detail so if wanted, you could work on grading the footage later.

From tests and experimenting, I favor the VisionColor profile; it is not as destructive as Neutral, holding colour and contrast without making the image flat. I definitely recommend checking them out here.

Next Question from SAHIB on Twitter: “Can ND filters change the style of video?”

Answer: This does depend on what and where your video shoot is. If you are working indoors, or with lighting that can be controlled by you then neutral density filters may not be required as you can alter the brightness of the scene by reducing the intensity of the lights. However, if you’re out filming in a situation where you have little to no control over the lighting, then ND filters are key.

Personally I use variable ND filters, currently from Polaroid but much better filters are available from Hoya & Tiffen. The function of these filters is to reduce the light entering the lens, meaning camera settings can be kept the same. This allows you to follow the 180 degree shutter rule, which means keeping your electronic shutter speed at 1/50th to reproduce film-like and realistic motion blur.

So, with your shutter speed locked at 1/50, and your chosen aperture has been set, the only other exposure altering options you have is to ride the camera ISO to make the image brighter or darker.

PROBLEM!

With a fast aperture of F/2.8, and you are currently shooting in sunny daylight, your image is going to be very over exposed. Reducing the aperture to F/8 or F/11 may correctly expose the image but you have lost your depth of field! What to do!

Get some Variable ND Filters!

These ND filters rotate, allowing a variable ND amount to be set externally, without changing your cameras settings! This means that you can keep your cinematic depth of field and realistic motion blur without reducing the shutter speed to 1/250th or your aperture to F/11.

I recently shot this video using an ND filter on an 85mm T/1.5, which allowed me to shoot continually at T/1.5 for extreme shallow depth of field.

Making a quick edit: Variable ND filters are one of many options. ND Filters also come in stops; increasing by a factor of doubling so 2, 4, 8 etc. If you can stretch to separate stop ND filters they work just as well, and with the lower end (under £100 products) they will be better quality than one under £100.

In videography and cinematography, ND filters are applied in the matte box in front of the lens. So if you plan to use one, look in to matte boxes with the ability to add filters, but prepare to pay for it!

http://vimeo.com/84790518

Well, that covers Video Questions for today! I hope to have answered and covered all bases, and remember they are from my personal knowledge and experience.

Got any more? Send them my way!

Capturing local beauty

Film making and videography isn’t all about big budget productions with expensive kit. Its great to take time out to see what stories you can tell and images you can capture in your local area.

Luckily for me, I live in Surrey which is full of green spaces. My chosen location for today’s adventure was Epsom Common, I used to and hope to continue fishing at the lake. Since being a kid I remember it being a beautiful place in the winter, so despite the recent flooding I made my way down!

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Accompanied by the awesome Manfrotto 055 Carbon Fiber tripod and 055AH video head; my grip was sorted in a lightweight solution. I took my whole kit bag in case I wanted to record some foley audio or shoot on a range of lenses. I tried to stick to the Samyang Cine lenses I have (14mm, 35mm, 85mm), so I can test them out on a range of shoots. I also came across a 72mm variable ND filter that fits onto the Samyang 85mm, which means I can achieve T/1.5 and a beautiful bokeh in broad daylight.

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As you may have previously read, I also installed some new picture styles on my camera from VisionColor, today I used Cinelook to see what the footage looks like out of camera, without grading. So far, without adjustment the picture was punchy with a good colour tone present, not flat and neutral like I previously used. It certainly has given the footage a baked in ‘look’ while recording which will definitely speed up the post-production process.

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It was great being in the outdoors, I often spend way too much time on the computer and neglect our very green, rural backyard, which deserves to be appreciated, remembered and captured in moving image.

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I’ve processed all of the footage now, using most of what I shot. It is simply put to music, in this case the serene 1:1 by Brian Eno, which was very fitting for the scene. I have applied no colour correction, grading or effects to the clips whatsoever, to demonstrate the cinematography at hand.

I will post the link up later!

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I hope you like it, and please share around!!

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.

 

Still editing! Motion GFX actually..

I’m working on the title sequence to the GLF conference promotional video, incorporating their new logo and house style as well as colour graded cine-footage to show the schools and students!

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