Philip Bloom Filmmaker, DP, Director Sun, 01 Feb 2015 14:35:22 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Shadows & Light: A unique 2-day filmmaking event in the UK in March. Tickets on sale now! Sat, 31 Jan 2015 16:14:38 +0000 Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 11.00.38 PM I am really excited to announce that booking is open for the first ever “Shadows & Light”. A filmmakers “conference” for lack of a better word in Brighton on the 23rd and 24th March. We created this event based on your feedback after I posted a few months back asking what it was you wanted to see from something like this. Well this is the culmination of a lot of hard work and it’s going to be totally. worth it. 2 day of fantastic inspiration speakers covering a multitude of filmmaking topics, terrific networking, socialising from the Sunday night through to the end with my favourite test spot for new cameras, Brighton Beach, right on the corner. Below is when I was last there in December with James Miller testing out the Shogun and the A7s. The first shots are from my home town of Richmond. Below that is my A7s low light test film “Now I See” also shot in Brighton! Thankfully it will be much warmer at the end of March!

James Miller shooting in Brighton

James Miller shooting in Brighton


Now I See from Philip Bloom on Vimeo. Tickets are on sale now at an early bird discount of £650 for the two days. This is until February the 21st. After that the price goes up to the full £750. There are limited spaces of course so don’t wait too long as we expect this to fill up quickly! We also have a fantastic location. A terrific classic cinema in the lanes of Brighton. Full details about topics, speakers and everything on the website here!


Screenshot 2015-01-31 16.00.10 Why do we need something like this? Here are my thoughts… Education in filmmaking is more important than ever. Back in my day there really were just two choices. Film school or some sort of apprenticeship in a company. Self taught filmmakers were few and far between due to the prohibitive cost of equipment, both cameras and editing software. Things have drastically changed of course. With the onset of affordable, but high quality cameras and editing tools, it’s a great time to be a filmmaker. Now it’s down to the individual, their skill, their ideas, their talent. There was a time not so long ago that the people getting lots of work making corporates and working for some broadcast shows got these jobs because they had the gear. Not because of their talent. Thankfully that has now changed! My path that started on October 9th 1989 when I was 18, was taking a job at Sky TV working in a portacabin with a degaussing machine recycling tapes. I peeled off labels, ran them through the machines and put new labels on…for six months for £145 a week. I got my foot in the door and from there moved up a step to a newsroom runner where I bugged everyone because I wanted to learn. Once in that position I learnt from some incredibly talented cameraman. It was one of the best forms of education to do I could do to become a cameraman. It was a journey and took time but it was totally worth it. It was the best training I could have had. Seventeen years after starting at Sky I left to become freelance and in those eight years since, the learning has gone overdrive! That is key. You never stop learning. You never know it all. You make mistakes – and you learn how to improve from those. This process takes time. Your lifetime! When you realise you never stop learning is when you begin to take your work up a notch.

wonderlist blog posts

First post now up! Second coming soon!

To be a good filmmaker you need to know how things are done. Personally, I believe you should know how everything is done. Not so you do it all, which sometimes you will of course, but to give you a better understanding of the process. A better respect for specialists and what is achievable. A full understanding of the filmmaking craft. Through my website I have given back and it’s become much more than a place to help me get jobs. It’s become an educational resource and in the seven years it’s been running I also started doing workshops and seminars. It has been my way of giving back. My way of helping people learn, like I was helped by cameramen when working for Sky. Screenshot-2014-09-18-00.19.58-670x355 That’s what brings us on to Shadows & Light. There aren’t enough events like this outside of the U.S. and we’ve decided it’s time to correct that! Having spoken at numerous multi-speaker events over the years I know what works and what doesn’t. The closest thing to this I have done is the excellent “Masters In Motion” in the US that I have been involved with for years…but that’s always in Austin, Texas! We had the Converge event a few years back which was also similar but there were only two of those. It really is the time to have a new event for filmmakers with accomplished filmmakers speaking and covering different filmmaking topics. There are still some speakers to be announced and that will be very soon but I promise they will be of a very high quality indeed! Nino Leitner

James Tonkin

James Tonkin

I have never been involved in organising an event before. I am always hired in. I have been co-organising this with Fraser McGruer who has a lot of experience in organising things like this. I am on board to offer my advice, leaving him to do all the work! It’s a bit like when I make films, I really hate producing but love the creative side of things! :) Tickets are on sale now at an early bird discount of £650 for the two days. This is until February the 21st. After that the price goes up to the full £750. There are limited spaces of course so don’t wait too long as we expect this to fill up quickly! 600x315_second_shooter

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“THE WONDER LIST” POST 1: Choosing the right cameras Thu, 22 Jan 2015 10:13:17 +0000 wonderlist blog posts PART 1

ETHICS STATEMENT: There are lots of banners and web links to products in these posts. More than usual because I am talking about these specific products. These are products I use regularly and are linked to affiliates. Any purchases of these products through these help support this website, its reviews and posts, without costing you a penny more. For more on my ethics please read my ethics statement here. Thank you! :)

CNN’s “The Wonder List” Trailer from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 11.00.38 PM

Shooting in Mumbai with the Sony F55

Shooting in Mumbai with the Sony F55

This is the first in a series of posts about the filming of CNN’s first in-house-produced documentary series, which I was hired to be the director of photography for. Other CNN shows like “Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown” are produced externally. I will be covering many aspects of production from the selection of gear, to travelling, shooting, audio and much more!

Principle photography for the 1st series of CNN’s “The Wonder List” has just wrapped. Filming in 5 continents broken up across 5 months and condensed into 8 episodes! The series is about places, people, creatures that have to be seen before they might disappear. We get to meet incredible people, see amazing landscapes and astonishing creatures, but also look at what is causing this potential threat and where anything being done to stop it.

For example, one episode is about sinking Venice, another about the threat to the wildlife of the Galapagos, another is an episode about the Greek Island of Ikaria, where there is one of the 5 biggest concentrations of people who live past 100…but that’s changing. It was a fascinating series to shoot and I hope will be the same to watch!

We used a LOT of gear, and for a crew as small as we had, it was a massive undertaking, especially given my decision to bring some high-end production devices normally used by me in high-end corporates and commercials. Very much not the norm for a documentary series like this!

This first post covers that eternally tricky question “Which camera to use” very much like a common email question I get “Which camera should I buy?”

It’s incredibly important, as a the wrong camera can handicap you and can make shooting way more challenging than it needs to be.

Filming on a Volcano in Vanuatu with the Sony FS7

Filming on a Volcano in Vanuatu with the Sony FS7

Assessing the Options

There are of course many cameras to choose from. When you’re assessing them, their pros and cons need to be taken into account. I needed super 35mm sensor, excellent image quality, internal full approved for HD broadcast recording format, great ergonomics, and excellent light sensitivity. These are amongst the key factors I considered when assessing the options. I absolutely had no need, like almost every shoot I do, for raw! Just getting that out there. There is a time and a place for it. Documentary and especially broadcast documentary is not it. High end commercials? Feature films? Sure. The massive increase in media, hard drives and post time make in totally unworkable for this kind of shoot. After all, it took until Games Of Thrones’ fourth season I believe to move from ProRes to ARRI RAW!

I learnt my craft in news using on-the-shoulder Betacam cameras. 17 years of back screwing pain in fact! It was only when I went freelance that I started experimenting with different types of video cameras, especially larger sensor ones…and thankfully lighter ones!


There is nothing easier than shooting a documentary with one of these cameras though. The ergonomics are perfect…it goes on your shoulder! Key too is a nice B4 lens with a big range, meaning you can react fast to things happening, and you rarely need to change lenses unless you want a big wide-angle. None of this prime lens malarkey! ;)

The Key Factors

The look CNN wanted was understandably the large sensor look. This is not a problem and is of course what I shoot with 99.9% of the time. I simply don’t use 2/3″ cameras anymore. Although they’re way less convenient, I shoot my documentaries on DSLR style cameras or mostly on S35 camcorders. These days I consider Micro Four Thirds small!

What’s so good about a large sensor? Well it’s a pain when it comes to glass of course. There is no glass out there that matches the range of a good B4 lens. I need to have 3 zooms to give me a decent constant aperture range. A 16-35, 24-70 and 70-200. That still doesn’t come anywhere near close to my 22x B4 lens with 2x extender. That’s one of the sacrifices with super 35mm or full frame.  The benefits are clear though. It looks BLOODY GORGEOUS! The ability to control my depth of field is wonderful. Shallow when I want. Deep when I want a bigger depth of field. It looks cinematic, and as we shot 24p (23.98p) that is the look I wanted for the show. I wanted the series to look cinematic!

So given that a large sensor is essential, what does that leave us to choose from? Well as of July 2014, when I was choosing, there were a few options.  There are of course more now, and by the time you read this post Sony will most likely have brought out half a dozen more! Back then, it was essentially between two cameras. I don’t consider any of the Blackmagic cameras to be documentary cameras. Terrible ergonomics, awful battery life and poor light sensitivity rule them out. They have many great features, they just aren’t doco cameras for me.


Using the F55 in Mumbai, India


Choosing the “A” Camera 

Canon C300 w/ C100 backup (owned by me)

Sony F55 (owned by me)

That’s it!

Sure there are many other options. I am sure people will ask why not the ARRI Amira. Well I haven’t actually used one yet but, it’s a heavy camera and this being a small crew production and a very physical one too, the weight of the camera can make a big difference.

There was also the FS700 from Sony. I owned it at the time, gone now. Replaced by the FS7 which is leaps and bounds better in every way. I never liked it as a documentary camera. Great for other work, just not for documentary. Just my opinion. Poor internal codec, awful screen and ergonomics handicapped a really well-featured camera. You can work around these with a rig and a recorder, but it becomes too big for me to work in this situation. It’s a great camera once you get past these issues, but it wouldn’t work for me here.

CNN told me they use Canon C300 and C100s in-house for their non-news work. I think the C300 is one of the very best Super 35mm camcorders out there for documentary style filming. The image is superb with a lovely 12 stop dynamic range and excellent flat picture profile. The codec is only 50mb/s and 8-bit, but it’s 4:2:2 and surprisingly robust in the grade. Form factor wise, out of the box, it’s actually pretty useable. The rear EVF isn’t horrible and the main screen is excellent. Stick a Zacuto Z-Finder over that screen and it becomes way better.

I have used the camera a lot but I actually sold it last year after buying the F55. I couldn’t justify owning both even though the F55 isn’t as doco friendly as the Canon but it certainly can work in that environment. It’s heavier, uses V-Locks which means more weight (for luggage too), the way it deals with audio isn’t as simple, and it requires a rig.

Shooting with a C300

Shooting with a C300

The exceptional Sony F55 with VOCAS gear on it. Superb add ons to make the camera more user friendly handheld

The exceptional Sony F55 with VOCAS gear on it. Superb add ons to make the camera more user friendly handheld

I do personally think the Sony F55 is (still) the best camera on the market though. It has a superb image, global shutter, good low light sensitivity, works well on the shoulder, good audio handling, 14 stop dynamic range,  in camera 4K and HD as well as 2K crop mode, up to 180fps slow motion internally, slick integration with raw recorder if needed and much more.

It’s at home shooting feature films as it is shooting one-man-band. It’s not cheap though. I bought it 18 months ago under 2-year zero percent finance. So it’s still not paid off yet! When you add it all up, especially the expensive media and EVF (which I wouldn’t buy now having used the Zacuto Gratical) then this is a hell of an investment. Almost as much as I spent when I bought a RED Epic.

Screenshot 2015-01-22 21.50.30

My Sony F55 with the $5k OLED EVF

My Sony F55 with Vocas support gear. Not the hand grip that Sony have essentially adopted as part of the FS7. Very natural way of holding the camera.


My gorgeous F55 with Small HD DP7 Pro High Bright Monitor, GL Optics 18-35, Vocas gear and RSS FSH-350 tripod

Shooting with the FS7 in Florida

Shooting with the FS7 in Florida

Screenshot 2015-01-22 21.49.08

Bang-for-buck-wise then, that crown belongs to the exceptional Sony FS7 above. I will be doing a review of this soon. This camera wasn’t an option when we started shooting, as it didn’t come out until November last year. Now I think it’s the best documentary camera on the market, but more of that in a later post (and review!)

Making that decision

Truth be told, I prefer the out-of-the camera image of the C300 to that of the Sony cameras. In Cinema Lock mode it’s just lovely. 12 stops of dynamic range, a lovely log profile and wonderful detail…it’s an exceptional HD real-time camera. Now that is where the problem lies. I wanted slow motion. Proper slow motion. More than 60fps and most definitely at more than 720p. That’s the problem with the C300: that’s all it does.

Mount Yasur volcano eruption at 180fps on Sony FS7 for CNN’s “The Wonder List” from Philip Bloom extras on Vimeo.

Super slow motion is one of the things that I wanted to be a signature look of the show when I spoke to CNN.

The job came about after I got an email from the presenter of the show, Bill Weir, asking if I would be interesting in shooting the series. He pitched it to me, it sounded very interesting, and coincidentally I was going to be where the show was being produced, NY, in about a week or so.

I met with him and Amy Entails, Senior Vice President, Talent and Content Development for CNN Worldwide. We chatted about what I had done and most importantly how I envisaged the series looking. I had a few ideas that excited them. I agreed to come on board, and not long after I put together this little video below based upon previously shot work to help us decide on the look of the show.


Potential techniques/ gear to use for “The Wonder List” from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

That brings us back to the C300 and the desire to use super slow motion. They wanted it, I wanted it, and the C100 doesn’t do it. That meant it had to be the F55. Why the F55 and not the F5? It’s the camera I own that’s why. Simple reason.

We did have the 4K discussion. I wanted to shoot the series in 4K as the place and stories we were going to were so special that I wanted to shoot in the best possible format. Of course CNN isn’t a 4K channel…what is? This would be shot 4K for “future proofing” reasons for the most part.

There was a problem or two though. The increase in cost was obviously a factor, with more money needed for post and storage. A big issue for me would be time needed to offload the material. Knowing how long offload takes as it is, shooting in 4K would add a lot more time to the day (I will be covering this aspect of production in a future post.)


B Cameras

The other big issue was with the b-cameras. Most likely the Sony A7s was going to be used by myself for certain stuff and also one of CNN’s Canon C300 or C100s. We actually ended up with the C100, which is actually a bloody good camera. I reviewed it a while back, and with its price tag of $4000 now, it’s a bit of a bargain. It has the same gorgeous image as the C300, just with a lesser codec, screen and EVF. Add a Ninja Blade onto it, and you have a killer combo. I haven’t used the C100 II yet, its improvements are there for sure, but it’s not a world away from the Sony FS7 price, whose features eclipse the C100 II by a huge margin…still if all you want is HD then it’s a great camera.

The plan was that there would be a main second shooter in the team. That person would also be the producer for the episode. Two producers alternating episodes. Because of these cameras being used, making a 4K episode would be practically impossible. The Atomos Shogun has only been out about a month…I, like most, expected it to come out much sooner. Without it, or the recently released Convergent Design Odyssey 7q+, then 4K out of the A7s would be impossible.

So with these problems it was decided that we would shoot in HD. I actually shot quite a few times in 4K on the F55 and FS7 on the series for certain magical times that I simply couldn’t bring myself to shoot in “just” HD…it just meant they had to be transcoded for editing.

One of my big pros for shooting 4K for an HD program is the ability to crop. I knew the footage would be ingested as HD by the post production house, so that benefit would be lost. The biggest loss in doing so would be if I had shot the interviews in 4K.  I didn’t, knowing this would be a waste of data and time.

We actually had 3 cameras on most of the interviews. A wide and two dirty singles. This meant three cameras, three DIFFERENT cameras on each interview. My A7s, the C100 and the F55. Matching this is fine if you are a good colourist. If you aren’t a good colourist then best to keep all the cameras the same. What would most definitely help would be using an X-Rite passport below. Shoot this for a second or two on each camera in each lighting environment saves a huge amount of work when colour correcting. I cannot recommend them enough!


Screenshot 2015-01-22 21.59.43


Codecs and bit rates

Normally for HD productions you are told you cameras need to be a certain bit-rate and colour space. The minimum is generally 50mbps and 4:2:2. The Canon C300 fits this….just. The C100 does not, with its 24Mbps and 4:2:0. The A7s is in XAVC-S mode 50Mbps and 4:2:0. The F55 and FS7 in XAVC-I is 100Mbps 4:2:2 and something I feel is more important that colour space is bit depth…it’s 10 bit rather than 8 bit, which all the others are. Even when connected to an external recorder, none of the cameras other than the F55 and FS7 output 10 bit, they are uncompressed and 4:2:2 but still only 8 bit. Whilst this is not the end of the world, it’s often a big consideration when choosing which camera.

Interestingly, there were no guidelines set by CNN for the show, but that didn’t stop me wanting to shoot in a decent format. The A-camera was sorted out, as I mentioned the F55 is of a very high quality internally. To improve the B-Cameras, external recorders would need to be used. For the C100 and A7s that generally meant the Atomos Ninja Blade. An affordable monitor/ recorder combo. It can record in various forms of ProRes or avid DNxHD. I do very much recommend it. Although the A7s XAVC-s codec is actually pretty damn good. If you shoot in S-log 2 though, I would really recommend using an external recorder as it needs more treatment in post, so the better more robust codec is preferred.

For more on codecs check out David Kong’s post on my site hereScreenshot 2015-01-22 23.59.28

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My collection of GoPro 4 and 3+ on a boat out in the Galapagos

My collection of GoPro 4 and 3+ on a boat out in the Galapagos

GoPros would also be used heavily on every episode. They are great to put anywhere and of course essential for underwater filming unless you go down the whole underwater housing route for the main cameras. Also for use with the DJI Phantom, where using one was permitted. I will talk more about these and using the Inspire One later on in the series in a future blog post about the actual day-to-day shooting.

Screenshot 2015-01-22 22.04.00


Screenshot 2015-01-22 21.51.48

Why the A7s?

The Sony A7s is an incredible little camera. If you follow me on my various social media platforms, you will have seen me sharing quite a lot from this camera from the shoots.

My original idea was to use this as B camera to replace the F55 when the F55 was too conspicuous or too awkward, and of course for any real low light situations. What actually transpired was that I brought the amazing Movi M5 with me to a get together for the team before we started filming,

I wasn’t planning on using it for the series, but after using it for a few pre-shoot shots, it had to come with. Throughout the shooting of the series it became absolutely essential and it features heavily. I will be covering how I used it in a separate future Wonder List blog post soon.

SUPERMOON: Low light test for CNN’s “The Wonder List” from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Using the A7s in Mumbai after getting grief for using the F55!

Using the A7s in Mumbai after getting grief for using the F55!


Movi M5, A7s in Venice


Movi M5, A7s, Small HD DP7 Pro, Rode Video Mic Pro in India


Screenshot 2015-01-22 21.56.04Screenshot 2015-01-22 21.56.14

That’s it for post one! The second post is about which accessories I used. Which monitors, mics, after shave. All the essentials. Then the next post is about how to travel with it all. The need or not need for carnets, packing, excess baggage etc. Then we get onto the actual shooting part both the creative decisions and practical realities. Lots of posts to come! Brace yourselves!!

Until then, here is the teaser that went live on New Year’s Eve on CNN, shot with a pre-production Inspire One back in November!

“The Wonder List” premieres on Sunday March 1st at 10pm EST. I don’t know how it is being broadcast internationally yet.

“The Wonder List” New Year Teaser from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

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Review of the Zacuto Gratical EVF Thu, 15 Jan 2015 02:04:40 +0000 Screenshot 2015-01-21 18.45.30

ETHICS STATEMENT: Zacuto are long-term site affiliates and the co-owner, Steve Weiss, has been a dear friend for years. We have also co-hosted the show “Critics” together for about 4 years or so too.

Whilst I still would like to call this a “review” of their new EVF, for 100% disclosure reasons please do take into account our relationship. Although, I do hope I have managed to put aside any personal bias I may have. I don’t use Zacuto support gear exclusively at all. I use Vocas, Movcam and many others as well as my Zacuto stuff. I always use what works for me, regardless of the brand.

If after watching the review you want to buy a Gratical, then doing so through my affiliate link helps enormously with the running of this site and I am very grateful.

For more on my ethics please click here. 


Shooting with the Sony FS7 and Zacuto Gratical in Florida for "The Wonder List"

Shooting with the Sony FS7 and Zacuto Gratical in Florida for “The Wonder List”

I wish all cameras came with exceptional electronic view finders. Sadly, few do. Back in the old days I used B&W view finders for my Betacams. You can feel a bit nostalgic about them in a way. They were in the right place and they worked. Although they were B&W and actually very low resolution, which wasn’t a massive deal as this was in the old standard definition days.

With the advent of HD and especially large sensor camcorders, we need our viewfinders to be good, really good. After all, how are you supposed to get focus if your viewfinder sucks?? LCD screens are great to have, but have issues. You aren’t “part” of the image (unless you’re using a loop on them like a z-finder).

The C300 EVF is OK…the original C100 is very poor, the Mk 2 better. The FS100/ 700 screen/ loops not great at all. Ironically, the best EVFs that come with cameras are on the cheaper cameras….the stills ones like the A7s etc.


Monitors are great for tripod work but not for handheld, for me. I don’t want a big screen in front of my face in this situation, nor can I actually focus on anything that close. Viewfinders are essential for me when shooting handheld.

When using my “proper” video cameras like my F55 or FS7, I almost always use my Small HD DP-7 Pro High-Bright on the tripod. This monitor is exceptional as it can be used in bright sunlight outside. Most monitors cannot, and that’s also where a good viewfinder become invaluable. The ability to see what you are shooting in strong lighting conditions. For me I love to use both. The only time I take my monitor off is when I am exclusively shooting handheld, as it gets in the way.




Zacuto brought out their EVF about 3 and a half years ago which worked with their Z-Finder. This is whole new beast. A dedicated OLED panel with very high-end features. When Steve told me they were developing a high-end EVF I wasn’t sure this was a great idea. I have bought two very expensive EVFs in the past few years. The Bomb EVF for my RED Epic and the Sony OLED for the F5/ F55. The Bomb costs $3,200 and the Sony one almost $5,000! OUCH! This is an expensive and quite a niche market really.

The most frustrating thing about those two EVFs is that they only work on those cameras. They aren’t portable. The Sony one doesn’t even work on the new FS7.

So with that knowledge, the idea of having a high-end EVF that is not camera-specific is a pretty good one, especially if it’s a really good EVF, as both the Bomb EVF and Sony OLED are not exactly great. If I am going to spend this sort of cash on an EVF, I want it to be portable. The whole “not being able to use my F55 EVF on my FS7″ really rammed this home for me.

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My Sony F55 with the $5k OLED EVF

My Sony F55 with the $5k OLED EVF

The RED Epic with Bomb EVF

The RED Epic with Bomb EVF

I have done a video review covering my thoughts. I absolutely believe I am objective here, despite my relationship with Steve and Zacuto (please read my opening ethics paragraph for more on this.) I only did this video review because the EVF was so good. Otherwise I wouldn’t have put the time and effort into something I didn’t rate.

I used it solidly for 10 days with my FS7 in the Florida Everglades filming the last episode of CNN’s “The Wonder List”…easily the best way to test it, in a real world use situation, and it I was very impressed indeed.

This is an exceptional EVF, but it’s obviously not for everyone. I am going to sell my Sony OLED one, as this makes it utterly redundant, being so much better. I understand that Zacuto will be bringing out a cheaper, lower resolution version later this year. For me, the exceptional image quality is the key feature of this, and it would be quite a loss feature-wise although I haven’t seen this lower rez cheaper one.

If after watching my review you want to order the Gratical right now for the discounted price of $2900 until the end of January only, any purchase through my link below helps support my site and any future reviews without costing you anymore and is gratefully appreciated!

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 11.00.38 PM

Gratical HD Micro-OLED EVF Car Test from Zacuto on Vimeo.

Gratical HD Micro-OLED EVF Drop-Test from Zacuto on Vimeo.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 11.00.38 PM


Chat with Zacuto’s Steve Weiss about the Gratical EVF from Philip Bloom Reviews & Tutorials on Vimeo.

This chat was recorded when I visiting Zacuto last week. I took advantage of their facilities to record my review of the Gratical there, without any interference I promise!





Screen Dimension- 0.61” diagonal
Resolution – Full Display 1280×1024, 16×9 1280×720 HD
Contrast Ratio – 10,000:1
Refresh Rate – 60Hz
Color Depth – 24 bit RGB
Luminance – 120-250 cd/m^2
Pixel Info – 2687.21 PPI
                5.4 million pixels
                16.7 million colors
Custom Scaling/User Presets
Color Processor – RGB, saturation, brightness, contrast
Zebra Stripes – Customize width, color, thresholds
Waveform (3D)
Histogram (RGB, Luma)
Audio Meters
LUT creation and import
Red Line Peaking
False Color
Frame Store Feature
Test Pattern (color bars & Macbeth)
Eight programmable buttons
Frame Rates – 23.98p, 23.98PsF, 24p, 24PsF, 25p, 25PsF, 29.97PsF, 50i, 50p, 59.94i, 60i, 60p
HDMI – 1.4b compliant, resolutions up to 1080p/60, loop out
HD-SDI – Resolutions up to 1080p/60, loop out
Cross Conversion – HDMI to HD-SDI, independent LUT on output stream
Voltage Input – 6-28V
Compatible with LP-E6 battery (7.8V 1800mAH LiON)
Battery run time ~ 4 hours constant run

Florida-675 Florida-458-2

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Guest Post: The Filmmaker’s Workshop Wed, 14 Jan 2015 18:12:49 +0000 Screenshot 2015-01-21 18.45.30

Guest blog for the filmmakers workshop by Adam Loretz

Adam Loretz

Adam Loretz

Take it from the top
Filmmaking is a constantly evolving process and as such requires us all to pick up new skills. Every year we’re reimagining filmic possibilities and honing our production skills; on DSLR, film-like imagery, making perfect slider shots, flying aerial platforms to mobilising our cameras on stabilisation devices. There’s a learning curve with this new technology that keeps us all on our mettle, and seemingly since the 5dMk2 came out* in 2010 – transfixed on shooting. And yet, there is so much more to the filmmaking process, some old and some new.
The old stuff is still worth knowing too, because unless you’re modus operandi is a box opening video, it’s massively helpful to know a bit about pre production, dare I say it – film theory (even), developing your ideas, storyboarding, budgeting etc. The other ‘new’ things, that I, at least find exciting, are the prospects for improved post production and distribution.

Platforms like Wipster ( Movidiam ( are shaping up nicely to help us filmmakers showcase our films and improve our workflows and as a for a goal – the doors of Amazon Studios are now wide open for your scripts or films. They have a creative community for development and pay well too ; ) All super exciting stuff (
I’ll pause on that note for a sec, to say hello. I’m Adam Loretz a filmmaker with 15 years experience of shooting and editing, mostly corporates (but very much headed towards narrative films). I am always curious about the filmmaking process, there is so much to learn about each production role. Lucky for me, I have a great network of filmmaker friends to ask questions. Whilst I’m at it, I thought – ‘why not shoot this and share it’.
So, What are we waiting for? Well, lots of technological evolution kicks up dirt – and as the dust settles the filmmakers path reappears, parts of it reshaped and the journey not always clear (just tweet @vincentlaforetVincent LaForet about Pre roll and clapperboards or filmmaking craft). Needless to say, I’m as excited as the next filmmaker about joining up the dots between the old and the new elements of the modern filmmaking process.
With a little more orientation and sharing, I’m sure we can all make greater progress on our filmmaking journeys.
I’m shining my light in two ways for the filmmaking cause, through an online and event entity called The Filmmakers Workshop 
Firstly, I’m taking it to the top – interviewing directors, writers, DOPs and other production crew about their experiences in the filmmaking process. I kicked this off a few months ago interviewing a couple of first time feature directors, Drew Casson (Hungerford) and David LG Hughes (Hard Boiled Sweets). For those of you who are thinking – ‘He said he was taking it to the top’ – You got it! So, for my third interview I had the privilege of an in depth, fun Q & A with Hollywood cinematographer Shane Hurlbut ASC – amongst whose 19 movies, includes Terminator Salvation and Need for Speed.Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 11.00.38 PM
Next up, is a seasoned Hollywood animator, turned live action director Richard Bazley whose credits include The Iron Giant, Hercules and Pocahontas. As well as a sweet personal story, Richard is a true filmmaking craftsman and the projects his partnership with Gary ‘Star Wars’ Kurtz and Paul Goodenough at GBK Hybrid should prick up your ears.
Richard Bazley

Richard Bazley


Shane Hurlbut


Drew Casson


David LG Hughes

Subscribe, that is on my timeline now and will be live soon.

Please subscribe, comment, and give us your feedback so my hugely talented partners at
The Filmmakers Workshop; John Rippin (RPAS qualified pilot/drone and stabilisation rig builder) and Simon Difazio (cameraman) and I can deliver the best content about filmmakers and the filmmaking process. Standby for more interviews, tutorials and BTS’s.
The second way The Filmmakers Workshop is here to up your game is in the form of events and hands on workshops, which will all be presented by leading TV and film professionals from spring 2015. We are currently finalising a list of subjects and scheduling presenters which we aim to release in January.
Our first event was held in 2013 and was guest presented by Philip Bloom. It sold out in 36 hours – the BTS gives you a flavour.

If you are a filmmaker and would like to help shape future workshops, get in touch about
your filmmaking goals by emailing me, (all enquiries are strictly private and confidential) at
Finally, I’d like to thank Philip for supporting The Filmmakers Workshop.
To stay up to speed with The Filmmakers Workshop you can find out the latest here: or follow us on Twitter @FilmmakersWS
*The 5Dmk2 firmware to shoot 24 and 25P came out in 2010 unlocking it’s filmmaking
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How to Choose Export Settings Wed, 07 Jan 2015 06:23:22 +0000 600x315_second_shooter



David Kong here with another tutorial for you! This time, on choosing export settings.

This video takes a practical approach as I go step by step through the interface of Adobe Media Encoder, which both Premiere Pro and After Effects use. I explain what each of those options and sliders and checkboxes means, and more importantly I give some advice about how and when to use them.

This tutorial follows on from my last tutorial, Understanding Codecs. In that video, I explain the principles that codecs use to compress data efficiently – at least, I gave a good summary, since giving all the details would take weeks! They really are quite complex. You don’t have to have seen my first tutorial first, but it will definitely help!

Here’s an overview of what I cover:

First, I give a brief run-down of the different presets, the interface, and how to use it effectively. Then I hit each of the options in the video encoding options for h.264 video:

The Match Source button

Frame Rates

Field Order and Interlacing vs Progressive video

Pixel Aspect Ratios – and why they exist

Profiles – and how you decide when to use which one

Level – what it is, and when you might need to worry about it

Render at Maximum Depth – I hit this one briefly, but you really need to watch my first video to understand the difference that deeper bit depth makes

CBR vs VBR 1-pass vs VBR 2-pass – I spend a bit of time on this, explaining the purpose of each of these and showing why the slower ones are better (particularly why 2-pass is much better than 1-pass)

How to choose bitrates based on source footage and delivery specifications

Key Frame Distance – I cover what this does, and also address a common mistake when people set this to “1” without properly understanding what that does

Use Maximum Render Quality

Use Previews

Use Frame Blending

I also take a moment to talk about different file delivery scenarios and how your choices will change based on where the final file is going, and who’s watching it.

As always, please comment if you have any questions.


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Vimeo sneaks in 4K streaming. Hooray! Sat, 03 Jan 2015 14:03:54 +0000

4K is here. Something Happened last week that confirmed this to me. I was in my local supermarket in London and a family were buying all their groceries and an LG UHD TV. When it hits the supermarket, it is no longer a high-end niche product… although there still is very little to watch other than Breaking Bad and House Of Cards on Netflix!

Almost all the 4K content I watch is from the Internet…essentially YouTube. I updated my Samsung UHD in the summer giving me Netflix 4K and an improved YouTube app that now supports the playback of 4K.

YouTube on computers has had 4K for quite a while now. I don’t like YouTube really. It’s messy, full of crap, and the community can be pretty rude. I love Vimeo, but Vimeo has had no 4K streaming suppport. I shoot a lot of personal projects in 4k (very few paid gigs though) and I have uploaded 4k versions for well over a year. The Vimeo conversion engine converts them to HD, and there is a download original version in 4K for Pro and Plus members.

On December the 8th, Vimeo announced 4K download support. This means if you upload a 4K video is will also create a compressed UHD download version alongside the original. Actually, I uploaded a test 8K Timelapse shot from the Pentax 645z a week or so ago and was surprised to see that it created a 4K UHD version of that for download. No streaming though.


A few days ago my business partner James Miller uploaded a test edit of some stuff he shot whilst we were trying out the Atomos Shogun 4K recorder and the Sony A7s. He told me it was streaming in 4K. I said it wasn’t, but after doing some test uploads he confirmed it.

Brighton Beach, Shooting the Sony A7s & Atomos Shogun

Brighton Beach, Shooting the Sony A7s & Atomos Shogun

James shooting his Sony A7s & Atomos Shogun

James shooting his Sony A7s & Atomos Shogun

This hasn’t been officially announced or confirmed by Vimeo, but it’s true. Whether this is specifically for pro users or plus members have it too, I can’t confirm right now.



At the moment,there are a number of specific settings you to need to make this work, and it only works on new uploads. Anything that’s already uploaded in 4k will need to be re-uploaded to take advantage of 4k streaming. I am currently away shooting “The Wonder List” for CNN in Florida, and my hotel internet is from 1985 so I will have to wait to do this with my work. EDIT: I have just upload “Postcard from Miami” which you can view below.  I am hoping I have ticked all the boxes to let this stream in 4k! :)

From James: The example films were transcoded/rendered using Adobe Media Encoder in H.264 (.mp4 container) using the 5.2 Profile to allow 3840×2160 resolution to be input. A CBR (constant bitrate) of around 120Mbps was selected. I have found if the film is longer than 3mins, you can select a lower bitrate for encoding, around 60Mbps. But to play safe keep at 120Mbps if you can afford the upload space and transfer time.

UHD Setting in AME within Premiere

UHD Setting in AME within Premiere

When the .MP4 file is produced, upload to your Vimeo Pro account and let Vimeo process all the resolutions. You can check the progress of this by selecting the downloads button. Under here you will see everything from Mobile SD to Original source.

Once Vimeo has processed the ‘Ultra HD 4k’ file (it will appear here, under downloads). Go into films ‘settings’ menu and under ‘Video File’ select the 1080p radio button. That’s it, your video should be in 4k UHD. Test it by making sure the scaling button is not selected on the full screen playback. Ideally if you have a Retina Macbook or a iMac 5k, it should be very clear it’s playing back in 4k.

Note: (Do make sure you wait until Vimeo has finished processing the UHD file before clicking on that 1080p radio button, otherwise you might be left only with 1080 playback)

Also we can also now stream 2.5k (2560×1440). Create your transcode using h.264 (.mp4) at 2560×1440, Profile 5.2 and CBR 60Mbps. Follow same upload procedure as 4k and your film will be displayed at 2.5k. Not that much bigger than HD you might think, but the bitrate will be over twice the size.

Why do this? Well this allows much more detail to be shown when streaming and not the massive download hit as 4k. A really sweet spot I think for speedy playback and very high quality.

Atomos Shogun & Sony A7s (4k Streaming)

British Camping / RED Epic Dragon (4k Streaming)

A re upload of an older 4k film on Vimeo. Nice thing is you can download the source file and just reupload it.

Four Corners: Postcard from Miami Beach from Philip Bloom: Four Corners on Vimeo.


Here are is the Vimeo encoded details of some select examples of UHD, 1440p & HD found here. Look at the Original Source size and the Processed file size once Vimeo has transcoded the file. You can see the differences here of what you will stream. (Listed below for you to view)

• 4k UHD 21MB Streaming file (Original Source 128MB)

• HD 1440p 9MB Streaming file (Original Source 64MB)

• HD 1080p 4MB Streaming (Original Source 32MB)

We will have to wait for the official word from Vimeo and their specification for Transcoding 4k content to be streamed. But for now, this works well.


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Shadows and Detail: A love letter to the Pentax 645z Tue, 23 Dec 2014 04:48:03 +0000 ETHICS STATEMENT: I have not been paid by Ricoh/ Pentax for this post. The camera has been supplied to me on a long-term loan by B&H Photo and will be returned once this is up. I am saving up for one for myself and any purchases of the camera via my B&H links throughout this post help in a small way to get that goal. In fact, all affiliate links on this site cost you nothing but help meet the costs of running this site. For more on my ethics statement please click here. 



Taken with the Pentax in Vanuatu in the South Pacific whilst shooting CNN’s “The Wonder List”

Can you love a camera? After all it’s just a tool. The answer is: yes of course you can. Not love like “soul mates” everlasting I want to marry you and have your babies type of love, more like a best friend kind of love. This is what I have for the Pentax 645Z, and it’s not even mine!  You could take camera love a bit far and spoon it all night I suppose but that would be a bit weird! :)

This is less a review and much more a collection of my thoughts and feelings about this utterly magnificent camera. I am far from an expert on reviewing a camera’s ability to take stills – I will leave that to the pros. My speciality is of course video cameras, moving images, but this camera is too special to me to not do a post on. It’s not a perfect camera (then again what is?) but in my personal experience it’s simply the most incredible camera that I have ever taken photos with.

So don’t expect anything in-depth technical wise with this camera or even its features. I am going to share with you some key wondrous things about it. This post is sharing my amazement and some of my images. For an excellent detailed review check out the Luminous Landscapes one here. 

I can categorically say that I have never enjoyed taking photos more than I have with the Pentax 645z. Using this camera inspires me to take more photos than I would ever normally do. I now even use it when I would normally pull out my iPhone first, thanks to the Eye-Fi card in slot .8 where the JPEGS go, so I can easily transfer to my phone and share these epic 51mp shots on Instagram! ;)

It’s all B&H Photo Video’s fault. I asked if I might be able to try one out, and when they managed to get hold of one on a short loan I instantly fell in love with it and have been asking for an extension of the loan every time it is due back :) It will have to go back at some point. That day will be sad day and one of mourning for me.

Initially I was only going to borrow it for my trip to the Galapagos for filming on the series I am shooting for CNN “The Wonder List”. All the places I am going to are so incredible, it’s been amazing to have been able to hang onto the camera to capture these places in stills with the Pentax, whilst filming this series.

Check out the trailer to the show below.


DSC05631 Picking up the camera from B&H photo back in October


So this is a post about stills not video, even though this camera does shoot video (more on that later). I am an amateur photographer but a professional filmmaker. Although I most definitely am a more prolific photographer than I am a filmmaker…every day I take a lot of photos, dozens really. I don’t make that many films!

What defines me as amateur is of course that it’s purely done as a hobby, I don’t get paid to take photos. I get paid to shoot video, I get paid to direct, to edit, to make films. That’s my profession, and I am lucky as it’s something I adore.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a photographer not a filmmaker! I ended up doing moving images as a career based upon advice from a photographer who said digital was going to change the landscape for professional photographers for the worse and I should look at video instead! So, 27 years after that conversation here I am talking about why this digital medium format stills camera is groundbreaking and produces images that I can’t quite believe when I bring them into Lightroom. Hurray for age of digital!

Of course, stills cameras and video cameras these days share a lot, and true convergence is getting closer and closer. This isn’t that camera at all. What it does have is a number of things which make this truly remarkable and make me want to go into cryogenic suspension until a video camera comes out that performs so astonishingly as this! Right now, I find it really hard to take photos with other cameras, as I know that when I get it right with the Pentax it will be the best photo I can currently take with modern technology and more importantly…it will be beautiful!

There are going to be many images in this post and if you click on them it will enlarge them. Many of these photos are also available for download for strictly personal non commercial use via my flickr page here.

Screenshot 2014-11-25 07.04.06


Photo taken with the Pentax in the Galapagos


My lovely cat Noodle


Iguana in Galapagos

Now, this is not what you would call a cheap camera. At $8500, this is a professional’s camera, or an amateur with lots of money (or lots of credit card debt!) but it is still cheaper, by a long way, than any other medium format camera out there. In fact, to have a medium format digital camera at this price is truly groundbreaking. It was only 18 months ago that I got into medium format film photography properly with various cameras, and one of the ones I bought which I loved was the Pentax 645n, although there are photos of me shooting medium format when I was very little!

I took reels and reels of photos with the film Pentax medium format, until I realised I was spending way too much money and went back to 35mm film which was far more economical (in film terms) even though I loved the quality and look of medium format.

Self Portrait with the film Pentax 645N

Self Portrait with the film Pentax 645N

Early pic of me (on left!) shooting medium format stills.

Early pic of me (on left!) shooting medium format stills.

Photo taken with the film Pentax 645N

Photo taken with the film Pentax 645N

Pentax 645z on left and the film 645n on the right

Pentax 645z on left and the film 645n on the right

Pentax 645z on left and the film 645n on the right

Pentax 645z on left and the film 645n on the right

Pentax 645z on left and the film 645n on the right

Pentax 645z on left and the film 645n on the right

So let’s start with the key reason that makes this camera so groundbreaking. That is the sensor. It’s a big sensor.  1.7x bigger than a full frame sensor. 4x bigger than APS-C.

What does that mean in practice? Well it is of course capable of a shallower depth of field if that’s what you want. You won’t get those crazy fast speeds of 35mm lenses. Pentax lenses don’t have anything faster than F2.8, although on medium format this will give you a much more shallow depth of field than you would than F2.8 on 35mm full frame. In practice it’s fast enough!


51.4 Megapixels is a lot of megapixels. More isn’t always better, as low light performance can suffer if too many pixels are squeezed into a small sensor. With this being medium format and that much bigger than 35mm sensors, it can take more pixels without suffering too much with low light performance. More on the low light later.

This is a Sony CMOS sensor and has been taken up by other competing medium format digital cameras, much more expensive ones. I have never used these, so I can only talk from my experience and a little bit from what I have read. The Mamiya, Hasselblad, Phase One and Leica medium format digital CMOS cameras are all massively more expensive than the Pentax, making them exclusively for serious professionals with lots of dosh! A colleague who has used some of these and the Pentax said the price difference is absolutely not reflected in performance and the Pentax is better in many ways than they are. Now these are not my words, so all I can go on is what this camera is capable of. There is little chance of me using any of those other cameras, as at prices of $25k+ they really are not something I would ever use.



Picture courtesy of Bill Weir

Picture courtesy of Bill Weir



What I wanted from this camera is to be able to use this camera like a DSLR, and that is exactly how I have been using it.

Before this CMOS sensor came along, we were talking max ISO of around 400 max, and with cameras which have heavy mirrors like this you also need faster shutter speeds than smaller sensor cameras. With mirrorless cameras like my Leica M240, I can take photos at shutter speeds of around 1/6th of a second. Here I try not to go below 1/100th of a second when handheld. That eats up light of course, so I do sometimes go slower with the shutter. As long as my subject isn’t moving and I am dead still, I get cracking results. Of course a tripod helps enormously but I have really just been using mine for long exposures, which have been a huge amount of fun with this camera!

Here are 3 I did in the Lake District when Lake Windermere was incredibly calm one evening.




Most of the photos here are taken with the lens I was given with the camera, the  Pentax 55mm f/2.8. The 55mm is equivalent field of view to about 43mm on a full-frame camera. It’s a great lens and the autofocus works well. This is important, as focus is so critical to nailing that detail for incredible cropability. Not that you want to crop all the time, but if you are shooting with a prime you don’t have much choice! I do actually have quite a few other lenses.

I use Adobe Lightroom to edit my photos, and quite often when on the road use my Macbook Air which doesn’t have a retina screen. Only when I zoom in do I see the clarity of the photos taken. When using a my retina Macbook Pro or when at home like I am now, my LG 34″ 21:9 screen, do I see the incredible detail this camera can pick up. It was this that I first wanted to see.

You can save the files in the Pentax raw format or what I use, DNG. They are roughly around 60mb a still. These are beautiful 14 bit raw files of a massive resolution of 8256×6192, so the size isn’t surprising. I use fast transcend cards from my A7s, and it performs pretty well. If you want to take rapid photos, you can take about 3 a second. Still impressive for a medium format.

Before this camera came along, my favourite stills camera was the Sony A7r with its 36 megapixel sensor. The reason I prefer it over, say, my A7s which is way superior for video, is that ability to crop. The A7s has around a 12mp sensor, so really any composition changes need to be done optically as much as possible, but with the A7r if you nail the focus you can crop a hell of a lot.

I still love the A7r and do us it for stills a lot, but when compared next to the big and beautiful 645z, it suffers. That’s saying something as the A7r stills are incredible.

Both of these cameras have no anti aliasing filter, so you get exceptional detail. At times I have noticed a little moire in images, this is not surprising at all, as we can see moire with our own eyes. Just take a net curtain and fold it over.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

There is a big difference in the size, though, of these two cameras and that shouldn’t be forgotten. I can be a lot more stealth like with the A7s (even though it has a shutter almost as loud as the Pentax!) as it’s small. The Pentax is not small. You won’t be able to take sneaky photos as much. It’s heavy. It’s not an everyday walk around with you camera like the Sony is. Although that is exactly what I do.

My man bag is pretty packed these days, carrying this and a couple of extra lenses with me. I love the Pentax 35mm F3.5 as it gives me lovely wides, and the 75mm is a nice almost portrait lens and quite compact. My favourite, though, is still the 55mm, but currently I am without it, my only autofocus Pentax lens. On my last shoot for “The Wonder List” in Venice and Chamonix I was all manual focus and I missed the focus quite a lot. I ended up using live view quite a lot and punching in. I think there is an argument for me putting on a Zacuto Z-Finder and shooting a lot like this, although it’s a damn sight slower in live view mode.

IMG_4348 copy

The reason I am currently without the 55mm is it got damaged whilst filming in India. Next time I run around outside an Indian airport, I am going to pay more attention! When I hit the ground I was lucky really, I hurt my back and ankle but I had both my A7s and the Pentax round my next at the time. The Sony was unharmed thankfully. The bottom of the Pentax got scraped a bit around the edge, but the lens took the brunt. It actually kept working for another month before finally dying. It’s now in for repair and is costing a whopping £550! I do miss it!!


Screenshot 2014-11-25 07.04.06


Eric Kessler with the Pentax…the wide angle of the camera taking this photo obviously exaggerating the size of the Pentax 645z…but it’s not a small camera for sure!


Here are some examples of cropping for you. Click on the image to see it full size (or save as) all for personal use only please! Some of these are on flickr with less compression. 




















IMGP0607 IMGP0607-2







A great way of showing this crop is actually via a video clip….Now before I talk about that, there is an HD mode for recording video on the camera. It’s “OK”. Due to the huge megapixel count and the fact that HD only needs 2mp, there are a lot of image issues which stop me from using this mode. What this camera really needs is a 4k mode. The camera sensor megapixels are slightly higher than 8K, but if you took 16×9 sampling of 8k and down sampled to 4k the results could be astonishing. It doesn’t though and it’s a very average HD. Oh well, maybe the next model will have that. I told you it wasn’t perfect! :)

So there is no example of the video mode from me. There are some clips online if you do a search. Yes, it’s a let down but made up substantially by the stills mode!

You can get amazing video from it…well timelapse videos. The camera has a built-in intervalometer which lets you set lots of different parameters and can take up to 2000 frames. Now it does seem a bit of overkill using this lovely camera for timelapse, but the crop ability is again incredibly useful.

Whilst on my way back from Vanuatu for “The Wonder List” I stayed in the Shangri-La hotel as it has one of the best view of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I did a lot of timelapse whilst there with many cameras, and a lot of the time the Pentax was going too. I hadn’t used the interval mode until this moment and the results, despite going through slightly dirty hotel glass, were pretty impressive.


By using an HD timeline in Premiere, I took the rendered 8256×6192 prores video file built from the raw photos (which are a whopping 60mp each!) in After Effects and was able to go from about 18% scaled down to see the whole image (with borders left and right as the image is not 16×9) to well past 1:1 100% as the image was so sharp and detailed. The flexibility this gives you for timelapse in post is huge. Be careful though, as it will eat up your shutter actualities! :)


8256 x 6192: Sydney Harbour timelapse with the Pentax 645z from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Despite the fact that you cannot actually watch a native resolution timelapse, I have uploaded one I did whilst in Chamonix in France. It’s on Vimeo, converted to HD of course there, but plus and pro members can download the prores LT 8256×6192 original version! Have fun with that :) It is of course for personal use only, like the photos here.

8K timelapse from Chamonix with the Pentax 645z from Philip Bloom extras on Vimeo.



Screenshot 2014-11-25 07.04.06

So far I have really only been waxing lyrical about the resolution, but there is much to it than that. The way depth of field is rendered is just wonderful. The fall off from focused to out of focus is so organic. Very shallow depth of field shots in 35mm can have a very harsh fall off. Also, because of the much larger sensor, you are able to get this lovely look on shots at close distance that you just couldn’t with a smaller format.

Here are some examples of this lovely medium format organic depth of field gorgeousness!

































Low light performance actually isn’t that bad. Although some reviews have stated using really high ISOs and getting good results, I personally don’t like going over 3200 really, but here is a photo of Vincent LaForet I took at 6400 ISO and it’s pretty good but Vince looks good at any ISO! ;)

For anyone who has used medium format to be able to shoot in available light out of a studio, like a DSLR, this is groundbreaking.



There is so much inside the camera, so many features I am simply not touching as this is not a true review. Way too blinded by love for that!  I just want to run up to the top of a mountain (well I did that recently but not exactly running!) and shout out about the key things that make this camera the best stills camera I have ever used and my favourite camera EVER! (wow did I just say that?)

The Insane level of detail

The beautiful rendering of images and fall off of the depth of field

Being able to shoot medium format like a 35mm DSLR in available light is astonishing

and finally this…and this is a biggy…just how much shadow information it holds is terrifying!!

Below are two screen grabs from Lightroom 5. The first showing a hopelessly underexposed image. This would be junk for every other camera I know. I thought it was too…then I pulled up the exposure to almost 5 stops more and brought the shadows up 100% and my mind was blown. The photo was there and it was clean! No noise. This I have never seen before and this for me is the single greatest feature of this camera. How it holds information in the shadows is voodoo!!!

Screenshot 2014-12-10 10.14.01Screenshot 2014-12-10 10.13.50



You can download this DNG and one other to show you what I mean. Said it before and saying it again…please personal use only! :)

Screenshot 2014-12-23 22.16.18

It holds highlight information well too, but when you compare it to the shadows, clearly that is where this sensor and the implementation by Pentax in this camera of it is where it sings. Knowing this, I tend to hold my highlights knowing my shadow information is there. This is pretty common normally, with raw stills anyway, to hold the highlights and underexpose by a stop or so, but this photo is more than 5 stops underexposed!

Here are some more photos I took where I brought up the shadows to reveal the image!







Highlights are held well too!!




It’s not perfect, it’s not light, it’s not small and it’s not cheap (but compared to the medium format competition it is) but it’s the greatest stills camera on the market for the money, easily (in my opinion!). It’s not for everyone of course, and it’s also overkill for many too. For me though, there is no greater image capture device out there. I want to photograph everything I see with this camera as this captures images so beautifully they truly are a moment in time frozen for ever.

The huge raw files take processing and time, I still have many to do, as I have taken so many in the past few two months, but it’s a pleasure bringing out the details that you can’t always see.

It’s just a shame it doesn’t shoot the best video too, but that would be too easy wouldn’t it? :)

Do check out some of these photos in all their glory on my FLICKR page and if you are looking at buying one, I am jealous. The one that has been by my side goes back in two months…yes, I am saving now to buy my own. If you buy through my B&H affiliate below, it helps me a little as I get a small percentage at no cost to you. Every little helps until I have enough to own one of these once the loaner goes back. Although it has to be said, this one I have is the camera I fell in love with, it’s been to 5 continents with me and seen things that are beyond spectacular. It will be very hard to part with her…god I hate break ups!

Screenshot 2014-11-25 07.04.06

Thank you for putting up with this utterly superficial look at the Pentax 645z. I hope you enjoy my images (below are a few more) and have a lovely Christmas or whatever it is you celebrate or don’t celebrate at this time of year…I will be photographing my gorgeous nephew and niece over Christmas…take a guess with which camera! :)










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10 Tips for Producing a Comprehensive Video Campaign Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:37:39 +0000 600x315_second_shooter


Opinions might not reflect my own and in many situations things Preston lists might not be possible but there will absolutely be parts of this you can be implemented into you own work! It’s always great to hear different ways of doing things! Enjoy! 


By Preston Kanak of Cinescapes Collective

When starting a business, there are many things one needs to consider. Out of all of these decisions is the need to have a clear action plan for when the work starts to come in. With this in mind, we recently wrapped production on a project with Tourism Saskatoon and wanted to break down the process as a case study. For this project, our goal was to create a serialized storytelling campaign by structuring and connecting content through similar themes and storylines but do so through unique production styles. To help shed light on our process, I have put together a list of ten tips for producing a comprehensive video campaign.

  1. Get To Know Your Client: Brand Analysis
  2. Develop An Idea You Believe In
  3. Focus On Pre-Production
  4. Focus On Clear Communication
  5. Develop a Strong Production Plan
  6. Set Objectives
  7. Build A Strong Team
  8. Don’t Forget The Budgets & Contracts
  9. Develop A Release Strategy
  10. Hold Yourself Accountable: Measure Your Success

The content presented in this post focuses on our brand goals which are to push ourselves and our creativity so all information may not apply to all production models. Also, all tips are simply based off of how we approach our business and each project we work on so take that for what it is. Our hopes is that it may give some insight. This content is simply a starting point. Before we go any further, check out the five videos from the campaign below.


Video Series

Coming into any project, it is critical that you connect with the work you are doing and have a genuine desire to work on these projects. If you are not interested in working with a specific client, you DO NOT NEED TO WORK WITH THEM. There are times you will need to take on projects that you don’t necessarily want to in order to pay the bills but know that if you are taking on a job to do this, you should treat the project like you do with all the others you produce. Your reputation is only as strong as you allow it to get so treat all the work you do with respect.

Before going any further, it is key to remember that when coming into any project with more than one moving part, don’t get overwhelmed. There are an insane amount of moving parts so make sure to break down the process and delegate. It isn’t as hard as it may seem to coordinate if you have the right people in place.

1. Get to know your client: Brand Analysis

So you’ve convinced your client that they should work with you. Now what? Generally, for us, this starts by getting to know your client’s brand on a deeper level. For us, our research starts before we meet with our client for the first time to ensure they are a company we want to work with. This is also important as this shows your client you care. It doesn’t take long and most companies have profiles online. Beyond getting to know your client better, once you know WHO you are meeting with specifically, find out a bit more about their background and what they did before they started to work for the said brand. This helps you understand where they are coming from and helps drive the conversation as you may be able to find out about their professional experiences as well as some of their interests outside of the business. Facebook and LinkedIn are powerful tools for this.

Know your brand

Before you are able to successfully analyze your client’s brand, you need to first know your brand. Spend some time developing a business plan and setting objectives that you want to target along the way. These measures will help you decipher good clients from bad clients as you are able to measure how each project gets you closer or further away from your short and long-term goals.


Talk with client

Once you have done your research, you will then want to meet with your client to find out more about the brand. By sitting down with your client, you can lay out a clear list of objectives. Make sure you follow up after your meeting with an email with the meeting notes so you have a point of reference when these discussions are fresh in everyone’s heads. Having a paper trail is a critical reference point if some questions came up later in the production process. It also holds people accountable. There are a few critical things you need to find out in the first meeting including:

  1. Find out if they have a brand strategy developed: When talking with your client, find out if they have a brand strategy. These documents are usually developed by agencies and are the core mandate that drives the direction of a business for a period of time. When developing your concept, it is important to make sure these videos address the brand attributes.
  2. Develop your own Q & A: If the business you are working with does not have a brand strategy, you will want to work with the client to find out a bit more about what is driving their business and some the of themes that are present in the work they do. We have our own set of questions we ask even if the brand does have a strategy developed.
  3. Find out how big of a risk they want to take: One of the first things we tell clients upfront is that we strive to produce thought-provoking work. This usually equates to concepts that make some clients uneasy if they have yet to look outside the box on productions. Some clients buy in, others don’t. Make sure you find out what risks the clients are willing to take and do this early in the process. This will help when determining if the desired client fits within your own business objectives.
  4. Find out timelines and deliverables: Outside of finding out who your client is and what they are looking for, you will also want to find out dates and deliverables. This may change as you develop your concepts further but it is key to at least have an idea what your clients goals are upfront.
  5. Understand who you are working with: Half of working with clients is understanding who they are and knowing how to deal with them. Read their personality and focus on their approach to business. It is usually fairly easy to read what a client needs by listening and observing. This goes beyond business and is no different than dealing with people on a daily basis.
  6. Breakdown key objectives: The last thing we do is develop a clear list of objectives not only for each of the meetings we have but also the project as a whole. We’d call ourselves list people and think they are the best way of tracking projects, updating clients and keeping the production crew on the same page.

PB_BH_Banner_022. Develop an idea you believe in

Now, the fun part! It all starts with an idea. Every great film starts with a great idea. Once you have done your research and talked with your client to determine needs, the next step is to formulate a plan. For us, we have developed our own set of parameters that our story needs to fit in. This stage will vary from person to person but for us, we don’t cut corners on this stage no matter the size of the production. Here is how we generally approach this stage.

Analyze Q & A

In order to refine our concept, we analyze our Q & A’s from the Brand Analysis phase. By analyzing these answers, you can start to develop your story. This process starts with a one liner and a one paragraph synopsis. We then determine how we need to approach the next stage of development. Do we need to find a writer? Can we write the script ourselves? Every project goes through this process, even if it is not narrative driven. This helps us break down all elements of the production regarding story and ensures we have it clear in our head the story we are trying to tell. For the tourism project, we took a few different approaches as we wanted to create assets using different storytelling techniques.

Chapter I & II were developed by one of our in-house writers and Chapter III & IV was written by a second in house writer. We wanted to do this to integrate two unique styles within the campaign. These videos were designed for the Convention, Event and Meeting sales teams at Tourism but were also designed to function cross-department and be used by the Marketing and Media department as well

Connecting to StoryC01_4810

At the root of all the work you do, there needs to be that connection and for us, that’s what drives our creatives. Once you have figured out how you connect to the given project and brand, you will then want to determine if that fits within your larger goals. We find that having access to a few different writers is the best way to brainstorm and determine the best direction.

Time, Place & Emotion

Regarding the ExploreYXE campaign, the foundation was placed within a time, place and tied to an emotion. We knew that the only thing that would separate this campaign from others was the ability to connect our audience to our lead characters and their journey through Saskatoon. The reason we did this is because in our analysis, it became clear that what made Saskatoon unique was its people so that’s the main point we needed to drive home.

PB_promoBanner_670x67_V023. Focus on Pre-production

So you’re ready to start planning your project. What now? At this stage, the focus is on script breakdowns, scheduling and scouting. For this project we had around 100 locations and around 50 extras to coordinate so it was key we had a clear plan of action to ensure everything fell into place. Because the concept was so ambitious and since we only had 4 shooting days slated for production, it was critical that everything was extremely well organized. We spent two weeks in pre-production before we started filming. In order to get everything in order for the five videos, we had two people working part time and one person working full time getting everything coordinated. We won’t go crazy in depth about this part of the process in this post but believe me, we will in a future post as we are VERY passionate about this aspect of productions!


Like with anything, money is the deciding factor as to how big crews can be, how many shooting days there can be and how long you are able to stay in pre-production / prep. We generally spend most of our time in pre-production in order to keep crews small and shooting days minimized. As you work through different projects, you will find your own ratio that works best for you.

4. Focus on clear communication

Clear communication from the start with both clients and collaborators is imperative. For us, this starts early with the initial project proposal. By keeping clients updated, there will be no surprises when you get to the screening stage. Clear communication goes beyond the simple production aspect and includes the creative direction as well. Don’t cut corners when developing your proposals as well as with any changes that occur as production moves along. There are some things you can’t control about production so it is critical clients are kept up to date if any creative aspects change.

C01_4815Focus on Clients

Although proposals take a lot of time initially to setup and develop, once you have done a few, the process becomes easier. We find that the more time you spend upfront, the better experience both parties have in the long run. This stage generally happens even before we have secured the client. For us, we find these proposals as investments as many of the ideas and stories can transcend this project and be re-tailored for other projects if the client falls through. In situations that the proposals are accepted (and so far they have been as clients have been blown away with the vision), then the communication is extremely clear on what we are looking to produce.

Focus on Teams

Beyond keeping your clients informed, it is also important your collaborators know as much about the project as possible. Our teams are always changing depending on the project needs so it is key everyone gets what you are driving towards

Our proposals vary from project to project but generally include such things as campaign introductions, strategies, one-liners, a synopsis, scripts, character development, value additives, mood board, visual style breakdowns, production schedules, deliverables, payment schedules and contracts.

5. Develop a strong production plan

So the shoot is approaching fast. What now? Part of the pre-production process is ensuring everything is in order so that production goes smooth. Deadlines are critical. For us, we develop systems so that with every production, each part of the process becomes easier. Regarding production, here are the areas that need to be considered:

  1. Crew – Who is going to do what? For us, although we have general positions for all crew members, it is critical that each and every team member is willing to do what it takes to get the job done. That is a pre-requisite for us as we need to be quick and nimble with every project. We prefer to work with smaller crews so it is critical that everyone is pulling their weight and willing to give it their all. For ExploreYXE, we had ten key teams members to fill all of the roles.
  2. Budgets The necessary evil of video production — budgets. As much as you may not enjoy doing them, budgets are critical to not only keep yourself organized but so you can measure the success of a project. Budgets are critical in making creative decisions and help when approaching future projects as well.
  3. Transportation Getting from point A to B when dealing with cast, crew and gear can be challenging. For us, this varies with every project as our crew is continually changing and coming in from different parts of North America.
  4. Accommodations For this project, we booked a crew house and had everyone stay in one place. This was a great way to help with team building and also kept the costs down.
  5. Meals – Keeping your crew fed is the best way to keep them happy. Always have food available and treat the crew right. Having someone manage this is the best way to ensure you have what you need. We will always have craft services available with as much liquids, fruit and sugar as possible :). Variety is great.
  6. Gear Management – Now the fun part. Gear Management. Labeling your gear is important and knowing ahead of time the gear you will need for each location allows you to make unit moves that much smoother. Having detailed lists that you create at the start of every project will help ensure no gear is left behind.
  7. Script Breakdown For this project, we had to block shoot in order to make it happen. Break down your scripts from both the Director and Cinematographer stand-point. This ensures nothing is missed when block shooting.
  8. Sides / Call Sheets – Having sides and call sheets are only possible with script breakdowns. These are critical to ensure you make your day and shoot each part of the script. Without sides / call sheets, it will be near impossible to make the production happen.
  9. Shooting Schedule – Our shooting days were heavy. The average day was 12 hours and without such a supportive crew that believed in the project, we would not have been able to produce the campaign.
  10. The Wrap Although it varies from project to project, make sure to schedule wrap days so you are able to tie up any loose ends. Production days can get crazy so having wrap days allows you to get everything back in order.


6. Set Objectives

Setting goals for yourself and your crew is important. Determine why you are producing project and what you hope to gain from it. Choose at least one thing that pushes your creativity. By doing this, you will be able to keep your team on track and gives a clear sense of direction. This includes both short term and long term goals related to the production. There are a lot of moving parts so by breaking things down and creating benchmarks, you can measure how the project is coming. For ExploreYXE our short term goals looked as such:

  1. Find a forward thinking client.
  2. Develop an integrated serialized campaign that addresses brand attributes.
  3. Use three unique production styles across the videos.
  4. Integrate dialog based content.
  5. Work with non-actors.
  6. Build educational assets around campaign.

Obviously this is just a condensed list but gives you an idea of what we were trying to learn from the campaign.

7. Build a strong team

Especially when developing comprehensive video campaigns, having STRONG people to support the idea is imperative. For this project, everyone that was brought on had a genuine interest in producing something unique and gave it their all. As mentioned earlier, for us, having people who are willing to do what it takes to get the job done is the number one priority.

We had ten core production members that aided in different areas of the project. Our core team consisted of:

  • Production Manager
  • First AD
  • Sound
  • Camera Operator
  • Director
  • H/M/W
  • PA
  • Aerial Operator
  • Aerial / Ground Cinematographer
  • Grip / Gaff Swing

With each of these positions, it is key that all of them were willing to adapt to the job at hand. If they had to help with sound, they helped with sound. If they had to help with set decoration, they helped with set decoration. It was key that each member was not bull headed and left their egos at the door. What made this project possible is that everyone had the same goals and had the faith that if we worked together, we would be able to produce something pretty cool.

8. Don’t forget the budgets & contracts

The necessary evil of video production. For us, we have recently adopted contracts based off of projects we worked on that really should have had contracts. We generally feel that open communication should keep you from needing contracts but at the end of the day, these contracts protect both parties.

C01_4817aAs for budgets, they are imperative as they are the only way you can track the success of a project. By having a way to compare numbers, you will be able to make improvements on future projects and make more money. Having a budget also helps make hard decisions when they arise. For this specific production, this helped when confronted with unexpected location costs that we did not budget for. We could weigh the pros and cons of either using the location or not using the location and discuss the options with our client. A budget is the success plan for your business. By having a firm plan in place you can easily see, over the year, what type of projects generate the most income. When you are able to see what you planned and what actually happened, you will then be able to easily identify any differences – where they occurred, why they happened and how you can adjust your budget to determine how much these projects ACTUALLY COST.

For any project we work on, we request 40% upfront for any operating costs, 40% after the first edit delivery and 20% upon final delivery. On larger campaigns, it would not be uncommon to request more upfront to cover these production costs. As projects become more complex, the most costs that are involved in the production.

9. Develop a release strategy

One of our focuses with all the work we produce is developing a comprehensive social media strategy. Without a release strategy, this content would get lost in the noise of content posted on a daily basis. Beyond this, we strive to produce content that people want to watch and share. When thinking of creatives, this aspect of the production is always near the top of list of things we consider.

C01_4794Regarding the strategy, we provide advice for clients and work closely with their team and the PR agency if one is involved to help develop a plan of action. We believe that the project does not end when the videos are completed, rather, we believe the job is done once the objectives are met.

For this project, our goal initially before we produced the videos was to release a video every two weeks but after production was wrapped, we knew that the campaign had to be released all at once. Due to the serial nature of the campaign, we decided to release all content over a week and a half. The reason we did this is because all content ties in together and there would have been no advantage to dragging out the release. As much as we knew the campaign was unique, the strength lied in it’s ability to connect with audiences desire to ingest content all at once.

10. Hold yourself accountable: Measure your success

Developing a system that can track the success of the project for yourself and your client is important. There are a variety of ways one can do this and it totally depends on your goals. For this project, call to actions paired with a Micro-site was our choice as it was a great way to not only measure viewer interaction but is a great place to showcase our work in one centralized location.

Call to ActionsWebsite

Call to actions are an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response, usually using an imperative verb such as “call now”, “find out more” or “visit a store today”. Having call to actions at the end of videos are imperative if you desire to measure the success of a campaign beyond simple view counts. Micro-sites are great for tracking the call to action associated with a campaign. One additional bonus is that we are able to use the campaign as a case study and attach numbers to each of the pages to know what works and what doesn’t work.

Develop a Means of Measure

There are a variety of ways to determine the means of measure. The first thing you need to determine is the metrics that are the most important for the given project. This depends on what you are trying to learn and refine about the process.

Develop a Method for Measuring These Metrics

Once you know the metrics you want to measure, you then need to figure out the best way of measuring these items. This will vary from project to project depending on your objectives. For this project, the Micro-site was the perfect solution as we wanted to have one space to view all the content and also drive home specific agendas of the conventions department. Because we were unable to feature all the hotel and convention spaces in the campaign, we needed a way to highlight the rest of the spaces while also allowing people to find out more about each of the spaces that were featured.

Analyze Your Results

Once you have had a chance to run your campaign and look at the numbers associated with your given measures, you then need to figure out what to do with these numbers. For our business, this helps us track how well received the campaign was in our target audience. For tourism, they have specific measures they need to hit with each of their departments so they will use the numbers as a way to see how the campaign drove sales.

…Staying Ahead of the Curve

Although only a few tips to help when producing comprehensive campaigns, we hope that at least a few tips were helpful. At the end of the day, what will lead to the success of these campaign is DUE DILIGENCE, ACCOUNTABILITY and the ABILITY TO RELY ON A STRONG TEAM. We continually work to not only build our network of collaborators but also on determining what makes our work unique. We are continually refining and building on these skill sets. We know we have a lot to learn and thrive on the ability to share our journey with others. Onto the next one!


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“The Wonder List” All about the epic new documentary series I have been shooting for CNN Tue, 25 Nov 2014 08:59:27 +0000

For the past four months I have been travelling the world filming an ambitious documentary series for CNN. We still have two months and 3 episodes to go, but I can now fully reveal what it is all about with the official launch of “The Wonder List” today.

CNN have recently been putting out some very high quality hour-long documentary series like Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” shot by world-class DP Zach Zamboni.

This series, produced in-house in New York and presented by Bill Weir, like “Parts Unknown” is a very global show. I thought I had done a lot of travel before I started shooting this, but we have really been ping-ponging all over the globe!

This from the official CNN press release

“CNN announced today that Bill Weir will bring a new Original Series to the network beginning early next year. The Wonder List with Bill Weir will join the recently announced series THE SEVENTIES and High Profits, both debuting in 2015. With The Wonder List, Weir will tell the untold stories of extraordinary people, places, cultures and creatures that are at a crossroads.

Who will be the last person to see a Bengal tiger in the wild or be baptized in the River Jordan?  Who will be the last person to savor an unspoiled island paradise in the South Pacific or hike a glacier in Montana? At the current rate of planetary change, some odds suggest that the last people who will experience these wonders are alive today. And one of them might be your child.

“When Bill joined CNN, we knew his innovative vision would be an asset to the network as we expand the definition of news with series programming,” said Amy Entelis, senior vice president of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide. “I am thrilled to announce that production of The Wonder List is underway and that Bill will bring his dynamic, personal and creative storytelling to the CNN audience.”

Through the lens of renowned cinematographer Philip Bloom, Weir will transport viewers to visually stunning locations from a sinking Venice, to a vanishing Dead Sea to the disappearing herds of Africa. Here, Weir will embrace amazing people, places and creatures that could be lost to future generations, including his own ten year old daughter, and discover what can be done to save them.

Said Weir, “The chance to find stories across six continents with one of the best photographers in the business is incredible in itself. But then to get eight prime-time hours to explore the forces of change that effect so many lives is the assignment of a lifetime. We’ve already captured some jaw-dropping corners of the planet and met some brave and brilliant folks fighting to save them for our great-grandkids. I can’t wait to share it all.”

The Wonder List with Bill Weir, a CNN Original Series produced by CNN, will air over eight, one-hour episodes beginning in early 2015, and joins CNN’s successful Original Series lineup that includes This is Life with Lisa LingSomebody’s Gotta Do It with Mike RoweThe Hunt with John WalshAnthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and Inside Man with Morgan Spurlock among others.”


wonderlist blog posts

Over the next few weeks I will be breaking down the shoots into posts covering various topics including: choosing the right camera, audio, lighting, production devices, travelling with gear and much much more. If you wondered why my posts on my site have been so sparse lately, it’s because this coming Wednesday will be my first full day off since October 1st!

All my time has been taken up with traveling to locations for this series, filming, travelling back, and also squeezing in jobs that were booked in before I was hired for this gig. For example, right now I am sitting at the airport in Sao Paulo in Brazil after doing a talk during the weekend. I came here the day after I got back to England from Vanuatu via Australia! Plus this month I have had the added factor of making sure my Movember campaign has been fully promoted. In fact as I write right now it’s been the best year ever so far, with the total raised just under $60K!!


SUPERMOON: Low light test for CNN’s “The Wonder List” from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Mount Yasur volcano eruption at 180fps on Sony FS7 for CNN’s “The Wonder List” from Philip Bloom extras on Vimeo.

So before I write my first in-depth post below are some behind-the-scenes images and photos with a little bit of info below them explaining what they are. I have taken on this epic journey. For the past 3 episodes I have had on loan from B&H Photo the Pentax 645z, which makes the BTS photos even more epic! :)

It’s the greatest stills camera I have ever used, and it’s hard to use anything else after it! Huge thanks to B&H and a written review of it is coming very soon!

The first “The Wonder List” blog post is all about coming up with a style and deciding what camera/ tools should be used,so keep your eyes peeled…I actually have some time off starting this week which is a wondrous feeling! :)

Screenshot 2014-11-25 07.04.06



The MOVI M5, used with A7s, the Sony F55 and another A7s set up with with the XLR module at the Dead Sea


The Small HD DP7 Pro High Bright has been a godsend. Every country we have filmed in so far has been a hot one and this beast of a monitor copes brilliantly without a hood



“Band Photo” Number 4 in India at the TaJ Mahal. We did these everywhere…a bit of fun


Incredibly hot at the Dead Sea!


Bill Weir Elgin Fulton (with C100) and Julian Quinones using my Movi M5


Miller sticks featured heavily by us. I also used RSS ones on a couple of shoots




The images out of the Pentax 645z are just beautiful! Most of the photos here are from it.


Cassius Kim filming Bill with the C100 B camera


My lovely Sony F55


Guess which of these cameras gave us the best underwater results in the Galapagos??


Julian Quinones with my A7s


That’s a lot of GoPros!!!


The absolute brilliant A7s cage by Movcam


My F55 with the wonderful VOCAS rig in The Galapagos.


Another pic of the F55 with the wonderful VOCAS rig in The Galapagos.


The Freefly MOVI m5 and A7s has proven to be a key part of the show.



The Inspire One on her maiden voyage at the Volcano on Tanna Island in Vanuatu



Lunchtime with my Transformers a like pile of gear!


The only vehicle on Mota Lava Island in Vanuatu and it had to take all our stuff (mostly mine) the four of us and 3 locals!!


On top of the Volcana on Tanna Island in Vanuatu


Instead of the F55 I tried my brand new Sony FS7 in Vanuatu…how did it fare? I will cover all of this!


Band Photo 5 on Vanuatu

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CLOSED!! Big Movember Prize added! DJI Inspire One AND Ronin together! Plus my initial thoughts after a week of flying the Inspire One. Thu, 20 Nov 2014 01:38:09 +0000 Last chance for Movember prizes! from Philip Bloom extras on Vimeo.

My Movember fundraiser is doing incredibly well thanks to you guys and the huge generosity of the companies who have donated prizes! As of the 19th of November 2014 just before midnight the total raised is this:
Screenshot 2014-11-19 23.00.45This is of course brilliant. We have already gone past last year’s total although still shy of the year before.

To understand more about what Movember is how important it is to help in the battle against prostate cancer and more then please visit my main Movember page by clicking this link

So apart from raising money a big part is actually raising awareness of the seriousness of prostate cancer and to remind them of the importance of getting checked. It’s can be beaten if caught early. I lost my grandfather to it and because he died of it my Uncle immediately got checked and found he had it and has now beaten it. He never thought about getting checked until his dad was taken from us by this cancer. So awareness is HUGE!

The fundraising is of course helped by offering a double incentive to people who donate. That’s why for the past few years I have also held a prize draw with loads of gear up for grabs. Think of it as a raffle where you buy a ticket and if your ticket is drawn you win! It’s open to anyone in the world so no restrictions there. You don’t need to join my team, you just need to donate to me at this link:


Once you have donated at least £15 / $25 then please forward your receipt to so I can put you in the draw, which takes place around mid December. The money goes straight to the charity and not through me. I just need the receipt, as it’s your ticket for the draw.

Hopefully that makes sense! :)

So far the prizes are astounding. Amongst the many prizes we have an A7S, Movi M5, F&V EVF, Small HD DP7 Pro, Atomos Shogun, Kessler Second Shooter, Miller LP-54, loads of software, bags, rigs and much much more.

If you have already entered you can enter as many times as you want, as long as you follow the instructions above it will count as a second independent entry!

Check out the full list here!


To keep up the momentum I am now adding the biggest prize of them all. Call it the grand prize if you will as it’s value is around $6,000! It’s pretty special!!

Announcing the DJI Ground and Air Movember grand prize! Comprising the just launched Inspire 1 quad and the Ronin handheld stabiliser!


I was hired by DJI to present their launch video for the Inspire 1 (it’s not a review as I am acting only a presenter) I have also been lucky enough to have been using a pre-production version on my recent documentary shoot in Vanuatu in the South Pacific where it has been simply amazing.

I am very new to whole aerial/ drone lark having only started flying early this year and then only a little bit. After making sure I spent proper time in a safe environment (the Nevada desert) in April honing my skills I made a short film in Thailand with my Phantom 2 and GoPro 3+. I was very happy with the end result and it was really well received.

I have found 3rd party first person view systems disappointing, whereas the built in FPS system on the Vision 2 + was wonderful but let down by an average camera. The other issue I have had with the Phantom is it’s a bit too sensitive to the wind, after all it is very light and the motors aren’t that powerful. So when I found out about this I was enormously interested .

Here are some images of it in use on various islands in Vanuatu. From the beautiful beaches of Reef Island to the Volcano on Tanna Island. Pure epicness!!

Photos taken on a loan Pentax 645 Z camera from B&H Photo Video. More info on the greatest stills camera I have ever used here. Written review coming soon!








Landing gear down, this can be done manually or just leave it and it will do it atomically when coming into land…as long as you bring it down at a normal landing speed!


Landing gear up



Temporarily travelling in one of my hard cases. George here helping get it to Rah Island across the water for me!






The prototype controller is black, the release one is white/ silver. and has a proper iPad holder unlike my crappy clamp system!


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It’s key features and advantages over the Phantom 2 after my week of use on location are as follows, this is all based on a pre-release BETA Inspire one, camera and software.

Much more rigid with carbon fibre arms, bigger props and a body that transforms raising the landing gear to give it a 360 view and make the chances of seeing the blades in shot when moving forward at speed very slim. It also makes it more stable in wind.

I took it up in a couple of places where there was no way i would fly the Phantom and it sat it the sky perfectly. On one occasion the Inspire was tilted to the side by about 45 degrees showing how strong the winds must have been up there so it was effectively hard flying into the wind hence that position but at the perfect speed to keep it static in the air. Quite remarkable!

The FPV system operates through light bridge which I have installed in one of my Phantoms. It’s a fantastic system but not cheap and requires some heavy mods to the Phantom. Here it’s all self contained within the quad and the remote. Both running off of rechargeable batteries. The quad via LiPos which run to around 18 minutes and the internal battery of the remote around 3 hours or so I think! More batteries definitely needed for sure, I don’t know how much they are though but I would like to have 6 in total really.

Screen grab from my iPad mini of the app showing the display from the quad. note the ground station map info isn't there in the bottom right as there was no internet there.

Screen grab from my iPad mini of the app showing the display from the quad. note the ground station map info isn’t there in the bottom right as there was no internet there.

The FPV system is lovely. So good to clearly see what you are doing. It was only an iPad app when I used it but am sure it will come to android and it would also be good with the iphone 6 plus. The problem is glare outside. It really needs a hood!

There are so many controls within the app that before you could only access from a computer connected to it. The best thing for me is full manual control with ISO, white balance and shutter speed. Iris is fixed and the lens is pretty distortion free with a 91 ish degree field of view. The shutter speed  control is with the app or via a very DSLR a-like wheel on the remote. The gimbal tilt it also a similar style wheel on the remote.

You can record from a dedicated record button on the remote and it can take raw stills, just switch between video and stills in the air…in fact you can also playback stuff whilst still in the air. Bit of a waste of the 18 minutes if you ask me!

The camera / gimbal is removable. This is so good so when DJI release a better camera you just switch that part. I know some will be annoyed that its their own camera and you can put a gopro on but then you wouldn’t have all the features like switching between stills/ video but more importantly that full control of manual exposure.

So how does it compare to the GoPro 4? I believe they are the same Sony sensor and to be honest they look quite similar although I have not done any side by sides. I would really like to see the 4K bitrate upped as I think it’s still too low like the GoPro 4 4K…it’s all usable and thats the mode I shot in and the stuff came out great.

One thing the GoPro 4 has over this is the excellent ProTune profile letting you shoot unsharpened flat images. This camera needs it and I understand their own “log style” system will be put into it via firmware. I had to shoot in a quite contrasty too sharpened mode due to the beta nature but I still got some excellent results as you can see from the frames below. I tended to underexpose and in post brought the luma levels right down, used film convert a bit and also soften the image with a fast blur at 2%. I am very happy with the results. Below are some graded frames from video shot in Vanuatu on the Inspire one!

DJI_0003.00_09_55_12.Still006 DJI_0003.00_08_19_11.Still007 DJI_0003.00_07_00_07.Still004 DJI_0003.00_24_16_06.Still001 DJI_0003.00_23_01_08.Still002 DJI_0003.00_21_21_21.Still003 DJI_0003.00_18_44_16.Still009 DJI_0003.00_17_40_15.Still008 DJI_0003.00_11_28_07.Still005

There isn’t much more to add right now. I am expecting new software for it soon so I will be excited to see the improvements. All I can say really is I can’t see me wanting to use my Phantom 2 anymore after using this. It’s night and day. A truly beautiful piece of gear that is a joy to use. A real flying camera.

Just remember this is NOT a toy and in many countries you will need to have a license to fly this for commercial work. Also practice, practice, practice…and do it somewhere with no people around!

This is a corking prize for my Movember fundraiser but to partner it with the Ronin? That’s pretty special. Huge thanks to DJI for this and make sure you enter! You have until 10pm GMT on the 9th of December. The winner for this will receive the prizes most likely sometime after Christmas as the draw itself won’t be until mid next month at the earliest, it all depends where in the world I am and if I have internet!! :)

Thanks, don’t forget to check out those over prizes here, get entering and keep those upper lips hair!

Screenshot 2014-11-20 01.39.41 Screenshot 2014-11-20 01.39.14

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