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)!!

https://vimeo.com/103891840

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:

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

Floral Photography for Madeleine Pink

In an earlier post I mentioned that I am not a photographer, apart from the odd dabble in flowers. Last Saturday I was at Box Hill School for their summer Copacabana Ball, for Madeleine Pink florist Margaret Alldridge to take some photos of the displays for her portfolio and website, my goodness what a display it was!

I prepped all of my photo kit that afternoon, taking with me the Canon 5D mkIII and a range of lenses, but I predominantly used the Samyang 35mm T/1.5 cine as its minimum focus distance is similar to that of a macro lens, the old Nikkor 50m F/1.4 and Saymang 85mm T/1.5. The Tamron 24-70mm is constantly attached to my camera as my main go to lens so that was with me too.

It was a beautiful afternoon, and very hot too! Here is a selection from the photos I took;

I took the photos in RAW, then post processed in Photoshop for small adjustments like exposure and a kick of contrast. Most of the photos had to have the saturation reduced as the vibrant colours were so punchy! Photo’s copyright Adam Plowden Videography 2014.

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.

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!