Philip Bloom http://philipbloom.net Filmmaker, DP, Director Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:51:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 What do you want from a UK 2 day filmmaking event? Plus details of imminent 2 day shooting workshops in New York and Cumbria! http://philipbloom.net/2014/09/17/workshops-3/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/09/17/workshops-3/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 21:17:08 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=32391 600x315_second_shooter

I do very few workshops these days. My filming commitments meant I have had to scale them right back (I am writing this now from many many miles away from home, about to film the second episode of a new doc series I am making for CNN) but there are still two more this year, plus I need your help to make a 2 day multi-speaker filmmaking event happen in Brighton!

If you follow mine and/ or James Miller’s work you know we film a lot in Brighton. It’s a lovely seaside town and a great place to hold the event. Below are just two of the things we have made in Brighton!

Now I See from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Overview of the Miller Air tripod from Philip Bloom Reviews & Tutorials on Vimeo.

Survey about UK 2 day filmmaking event.

 

 

So the two-day workshops info in chronological order…New York 5th and 6th October

I have been asked by B&H Photo in New York  (the Willy Wonka of camera stores) in conjunction with Sony America to teach a 2 day shooting workshop specifically on the A7s.

This is a unique event. First off, most of the first day is out and about in the city, filming with the A7s using gear supplied to you (you can bring your own lenses tripod if you wish). What also makes it unique is it’s FREE! It’s only 25 people, so you need to apply. I want the people who will benefit the most to be able to do this!

Application has been open for about 2 weeks already and will close very soon. I just wanted to post it here, as until now had only been on twitter and Facebook.

Click below to apply and for more info.

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CUMBRIA 2-day Shooting workshop.

Later in October I will be doing my only 2-day workshop in England this year in Cumbria! This isn’t sponsored by B&H and Sony, so it’s a traditional pay for workshop, but as it’s the only one I am doing in my home country in 2014 and also my last of the year anywhere, coupled with the amazing location, it’s one not to miss!

All the info below!!

LLoyd & Colman Studio from LLoyd & Colman on Vimeo.

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IBC 2014: Plus info on my free talks, Critics and more! Sony FS7 officially confirmed! http://philipbloom.net/2014/09/08/ibc/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/09/08/ibc/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 19:12:39 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=32343

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IBC 2014: CRITICS Day 1 from Teradek on Vimeo.

IBC 2014: CRITICS Day 2 from Teradek on Vimeo.

IBC 2014: CRITICS Day 3 from Teradek on Vimeo.

It’s that time of year again. Well actually these shows happen around the world almost non stop, but IBC is massive, probably second only to NAB in size. Broadcast shows like this are a great chance to check out new gear, but for me, I like them as I can connect with people new and old.

New kit is also often announced, and in fact Sony are announcing a new camera there (yes another one) this week. More on that later.

If you have never been before, it’s in Amsterdam and it’s every September. I missed last year’s one but am coming this year. Photokina, the (mainly) photography show is directly afterward in Cologne. That show is truly massive, but I won’t be going to it this time, that would most likely do my head in. These shows are exhausting, especially if you are working there which I am!

ADOBE

At the show I will doing a number of talks. I will be at the Adobe stand talking about how I use their software and how it fits into my workflow on a shoot. This is at 11:30 and 2:30pm on the Friday and 11:30 on the Saturday.

adobe-creative-cloud Screenshot 2014-09-08 12.50.26

MILLER

On Saturday at 1:30pm in Hall 11 stand 11 D30, I will be on the Miller stand giving an updated version of shooting and using 4K in the real world! I will be showing examples of course, and I will go into details of the pros and cons!

Also do check out the Miller charity raffle in aid of the iABM education foundation. Enter and get a chance to win the gorgeous LP’54 classic wooden tripod from Miller made to celebrate their 50 years on the business.

 

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RISING STARS

On the Sunday I will be doing an hour long talk and Q&A for the Rising Stars programme, a fantastic initiative to help the new generation get started in the industry. The conference is part of IBC and features some amazing speakers like Professor Brian Cox. I am giving one of the keynotes on the Sunday at 2pm about what you may or may not need to make great content. I will be sharing my experience and success and failures, so you can hopefully benefit from me doing this all for you first! :)

To register for the Rising Stars programme click the link here or the image below! If you can’t work it out you are clearly not at all an office type and therefore must clearly be creative, the downside is you won’t benefit from the conference because of this! ;)   Screenshot 2014-09-08 12.46.56Screenshot 2014-09-08 12.49.25

CRITICS

Last but not least, on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 4pm live each day is the 2nd return of Critics. After our mega sell out stadium live shows at NAB in April, we are back for hour long shows where Steve Weiss pulls his punches and gives rubbish critiques and I give him grief for it. You can see it live here and later on Vimeo with the link on the bottom of the flyer!

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IBC NEWS

The FS7 is official. Check out the first hands on with my buddy Nino Leitner. More on his Cinema5D site!

EXCLUSIVE: cinema5D Sony FS7 hands-on from Nino Leitner on Vimeo.

From the Sony press release:

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Amsterdam, September 12, 2014: Sony has today launched the PXW-FS7, the first 4K XDCAM camera to feature a Super35 CMOS sensor. Capable of shooting in 4K Quad Full HDi (QFHD) and super slow-motion Full HD, the latest member of the XDCAM family has been designed for documentary, music video, online content creators and corporate filmmakers looking for beautiful picture quality and an unrivalled choice of recording formats.

The 11.6 million-pixel Super35 ‘Exmor’ CMOS sensor within the PXW-FS7 delivers stunning sensitivity, shallow depth of field, a high signal-to-noise ratio and fantastic low light performance. The camera has the ability to record QFHDi with 4:2:2 10-bit sampling up to 600 Mbit/s, with support for a variety of recording formats including XAVC Intra, Long GOP, MPEG HD422 and Apple ProRes 422 available early 2015 by firmware update.

Ergonomic design ideal for one-man operation in demanding conditions

The new camera has been purpose-built to provide a versatile range of creative shot options while sitting comfortably on the shoulder, even after hours of operation. The supplied grip, easily adjustable viewfinder and fully-sealed, die-cast magnesium chassis have been designed to provide robust usability in dusty or humid environments and for ‘run and gun’ applications.

“Filmmakers around the world have told us they want a package which links high quality codecs, unlimited slow and quick-motion recording and the flexibility to switch between various lenses, but without the need for a rig,” explained Bill Drummond, Strategic Marketing Manager, Sony Professional Europe. “We’ve built the PXW-FS7 to give customers a vast range of production, style and format choices in a form factor which allows the operator to do it all, right from their shoulder.”

αMount System offering a variety of expression

The PXW-FS7 features Sony’s revolutionary α Mount System, which benefits from Silent Focus Technology and Electrical Iris Control. Sony has also launched the PXW-FS7K, including the brand new powered zoom E-Mount lens FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS (SELP28135G), ideal for the requirements of today’s video production teams. Customers also have the flexibility to use other lenses with a 3rd party adaptor.

Key features of the PXW-FS7

Super35 ‘Exmor’ CMOS sensor with 8.8 million-effective pixels. The PXW-FS7 is able to capture great image quality without needing significant lighting support. It has high-speed image readout characteristics, such as 240 fps while recording 2K RAW on an external recorder, responsive sensitivity (ISO 2000) and a high signal-to-noise ratio. The PXW-FS7 supports QFHD up to 60 fps at launch, with an upgrade to 4K 4,096 x 2,160 resolution due to be made available in early 2015.

Flexibility across recording codecs. The PXW-FS7 is compatible with Sony´s new XAVC Intra and XAVC Long GOP formats, each supporting 10-bit 4.2:2 recording for Full HD recording. Recording in QFHD resolution, SlowMotion up to 180fps or even Full High Definition with 60/50 progressive frames is possible. By using the optional extension unit XDCA-FS7, the PXW-FS7 is capable of natively recording in Apple ProRes 422 codec, planned to be available in early 2015 by firmware update. In addition, thanks to the XDCA-FS7’s Raw interface, the PXW-FS7 is capable of 4K/2K Raw recording with Sony’s HXR-IFR5 and AXS-R5, or with a compatible third-party external recorder.

A vast range of creative choices. The PXW-FS7 features 2 XQD card slots that support simultaneous recording and relay recording. The camera includes a low-pass video filter, progressive pixel reading and advanced camera processing, enabling a broad span of creative treatments, and benefits such as high speed recording, high resolution, high sensitivity, less aliasing and less rolling shutter. To support FS7’s S&Q motion and internal 4Ki recording, a new XQD G series with ultra-high speed transfer up to 400MB/s (read) and 350MB/s (write) has been developed. The XQD card G series is designed specifically to further enhance the PXW-FS7 workflow. In parallel, the camera’s built-in ND filters offer exceptional shallow depth-of-field, allowing users to further expand their shooting styles without requiring external ND filter equipment. S-Gamut3/SLog3 & S-Gamut3.Cine/SLog3 are supported for flexibility of post-production options.

Easy mobility and choice of shooting style. Sony has also today introduced the VCT-FS7, a light-weight rods support, featuring 15mm rods and an adjustable shoulder pad. This enables the use of additional Matte boxes, the easy attachment of Follow Focus systems or of an external recorder. In addition to the on-shoulder operation, the PXW-FS7 can also be set-up on a tripod and as a handheld camera. The supplied handgrip provides easy access to relevant functions.

 αMount System enables auto exposure and SteadyShot stabilization during shooting. The PXW-FS7 uses the E-mount lens system and comes supplied with a new E-mount lens FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS (SELP28135G), which is the world’s first 35mm full-frame interchangeable power zoom lens i.. The new E-mount powered zoom lens features constant F4 value, independent rings for Iris, Zoom and Focus control and is dust and moisture resistant. The SELP28135G has steady shot stabilization, minimum focus breathing and is enabled with Sony’s new SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) to reduce zoom and focus noise while shooting. Furthermore, Sony’s optional LA-EA4 A-mount lens adaptor allows compatibility with a wide range of high-quality A-mount lenses, benefiting from the PXW-FS7’s auto-focus function for quick and convenient operation.

 

ORIGNAL POST

I don’t do rumours as a rule but I am breaking it because:I mentioned this briefly but it’s confirmed that Sony is releasing a new 4K professional camera at IBC, confusingly called the FS7 which makes it sound higher end than the F5 (I address this further down). It was leaked onto a Chinese site with the picture below.

A: It’s officially teased now by Sony and

B: Because of the implications

C: The leaked photo is genuine.

D: Numerous sources have confirmed this with me.

Now, I had been hearing mutterings about this camera for a while. I am not under NDA so I am not in the “official” know but I do know many people who are under penalty of death if they talked about this due to their NDAs. They wouldn’t tell me squat, naturally! :) Despite this, through a number of other sources I am pretty confident most of these rumoured features are true. So much so that I put a fiver on at paddy power and if all these come true I could make a hundred quid! :)

Super 35mm sensor, whether it’s new or not I don’t know.

E mount so you can put a METABONES EF adaptor or even better a Speedbooster for effectively full frame image. 

XDCAM labelled but records in the same high quality pro format as the F5 and F55, XAVC.

Records INTERNALLY at 4K. Whether this is full DCI or UHD not sure. I have a felling it’s the latter.

12 bit raw output via 3g SDI. Assuming this will work with R5 and hopefully the Odyssey 7Q soon

HD of course and I believe it will also do at least 150fps in HD most likely 180fps is 24p mode.

There is a large rear dock that could be multifunctional. It may even take an R5.

I am expecting optional battery solutions, v-locks for example or the Sony L series batteries. If it can take L series it means we could have some very impressive power consumption.  

Integrated LCD/ EVF loup reminiscent of the EX3

Nice shoulder mounted design

 

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From the image you can see it used the cheaper than XQD cards for the XAVC rather than what I use in my F55 which is the stupidly expensive SXSPro.

Since buying £10,000 of them they brought out a firmware update that lets me use XQD cards on my camera with a cheap adaptor. Annoying for me, good for new customers!

We also have full auto modes…if you like that sort of thing.

The quality of the LCD/ EVF is unknown, but it’s part of the camera. It seems only expensive cameras suffer from having sod all including with them! It’s funny but that shape keeps making me think an URSA style 10″ screen was on there once! Thankfully it isn’t! Let’s hope the LCD/ Loup is not of the same quality of the Fs100/FS700!!

Price point: I have had from numerous reliable sources to be a list price of just $8k. I say “just” because for what you are getting this is amazing.

Is this a replacement for the FS700? No. Sony tweeted this:

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So the FS700 stays but what differentiates it from this new XDCAM camera? The FS700 sells for $7700 at B&H. The camera records AVCHD HD internally. It can do 240fps in burst mode internally, but it can also send a raw signal to an external recorder to record 4K and 2K raw plus continuous slow motion in full quality up to 240fps.

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The leaked image

The leaked image

Just the other day a “hack” for the F5 to let it record 4K internally was made public by my friend and former colleague at Sky News Paul Ream. By saving settings and modifying them via text edit, you can make the F5 record in modes only the F55 is supposed to have even up to 60p. You can see a tutorial here.

Sony F5 on left and F55 on right. You can tell only from the colour of the lens mount. Silver is F55.

Sony F5 on left and F55 on right. You can tell only from the colour of the lens mount. Silver is F55.

As an F55 owner who bought this very expensive camera over the F5 basically for the internal 4K recording, I am very interested to see what Sony does to respond to this announcement (yes it stills sounds weird!). Apparently there will be an announcement about the F5 and F55 on the 12th too. Sure my F55 has a global shutter and a different colour gamut but it’s the 4K internal recording that sold me on it. If the F5 had 4k officially and I was buying a camera today, I would buy the F5 not the F55.

Actually that isn’t true. If it was today I would wait until the announcement of the FS7 and depending on the image that I see this week, I would buy this. Why? It’s WAY cheaper, has the same codec, internal 4k and HD, 180fps (maybe), E mount which is preferable to FZ mount as the Canon adaptor is very expensive and not as good as the Metabones, plus the option of a Speedbooster is a big plus. I would love an effective full frame in a proper video camera. Do I care that it may only be UHD 4K? Not really, not at this price difference. The power consumption and use of L series batteries is a big plus. It’s also way cheaper. Did I say that?

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By saying this, I am basically saying I personally think Sony will severely damage their F5 sales with this camera, and of less importance to them I am sure, the FS700 which in modern camera terms is getting on a bit now. It’s over 2 years old! :)

So why are Sony bringing out this camera, which is going to essentially make the F5 rather pointless? Why are Sony being so aggressive with their competition with themselves? Yep that sounds bonkers, but they are! Well there is nothing else out there at this price point, and it’s better to sell more cameras for less money than fewer cameras for more money isn’t it? Well only if the cheaper camera sells significantly more units than the more expensive ones.

Sony will absolutely have to put 4K in the F5 now officially, not because of the “hack” so much but because of this camera, but it’s still going to need something else.  That means what do F55 owners like myself get? Who knows. I hope not a massively devalued camera, as I haven’t paid it off yet!

Oh well, it’s still an amazing camera with features that no other camera can rival at any price, really. I say this to myself as I rock back and forth like a madman each night worried to death! :)

My Sony F55 with it's new VOCUS

My Sony F55 with it’s new VOCAS rig

My Sony F55 with it's new VOCUS

My Sony F55 with it’s new VOCAS rig

My Sony F55 with it's new VOCUS

My Sony F55 with it’s new VOCAS rig

If they gave the F5 4K internal, what would make people buy it over the new camera?

Perhaps the DCI 4k if the FS7 is only UHD?

Maybe the slow motion on the new camera will be at similar intervals to the FS700, so no fine control of the specific frame rates.

16 bit Raw output compared to the 12 bit, which to be fair is not that big a deal for almost everyone.

I am not sure what else but they need to add more with this massive price difference or simply drop the F5 price, which doesn’t help current owners. It’s a tough one, and I can see a lot of F5 owners being a bit miffed maybe about this. Some people will say that’s the problem with buying expensive cameras these days and also being an early adaptor. Maybe, but I have owned my F55 only a year and with all the media, EVF, raw recorder and batteries it has cost me a huge amount of money. It’s an investment, and investments ideally last a lot longer than a year.

Sony have promised these camera will be constantly upgraded with firmware, and this has been true so far. So maybe we are in for many more features that could separate these two beasts from the young pretender?

 

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I have no camera loyalty to any manufacturer. I still think the Canon C300 is the best documentary camera out there, but mine is now sold because of the F55. I couldn’t justify keeping it after I bought the mega expensive Sony.

I did keep both my 1DC and my C100. The C100 is an amazing camera for the price. Sure no 4K, no slow motion and the codec sucks, but stick an Atomos on it and you have a C300 pretty much.

For the new CNN doc series I have been shooting, my main camera is the F55, the camera on my Movi M5 is the A7s, and the main B-Cam is the Canon C100. They are a bit tricky to cut together but do-able. All have their pros and cons.The F55 is not exactly a subtle camera and quite often I need to look less pro, so I have been using the A7s a lot. The C100 image really does impress though.

 

 

Canon of course need to respond soon, or they will lose out. They need a 4K internal camera to compete around this price point AND they SO need a camera that can shoot super slow motion. Whether they can bring it in at around the $8k mark seems unlikely, given the C300 price point is still around $12k, but they may well have to give Sony a break from competing with themselves! ;)

There we go. Find out if I was right on the Friday the 12th. If so, then I am most likely going to buy this as my new B-camera, it’s such a great price and it could well be my A-camera when I don’t want to bring my much heavier F55 with me on shoots when space and weight is a premium, like some of the destinations for this new series are going to be.

I absolutely won’t be selling my F55, first off it isn’t paid off yet, but also it’s an amazing camera that does have more features than this new Sony, and I do expect Sony to bring it more features to keep it their flagship large sensor broadcast camera.

We shall see on Friday if this is all true and whether I will make that hundred quid at the bookies!

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Everything You Need to Know About Codecs http://philipbloom.net/2014/09/02/everything-you-need-to-know-about-codecs/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/09/02/everything-you-need-to-know-about-codecs/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 03:46:09 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=32321 600x315_second_shooter

“It shoots AVCHD MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 1080P 24Mbps at 8-bit 4:2:0.”

Say what??

David Kong here with another video tutorial for you, this time on codecs. I’ve found a lot of confusion and mis-information around the internet about how codecs work, how the differ, and why those differences matter.

Hopefully, this video/post will clear those up. I know it’s long, but I really wanted to break it down and explain things thoroughly, rather than just skimming the surface like a lot of tutorials do. Codecs can sound impossibly complex when all you get is a bunch of numbers and acronyms, but the main concepts at work really aren’t that complicated.

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I explain the concepts behind different types of codecs, but I also give some real-world examples which should help you understand how these algorithms work on a practical level, pulling frames into Photoshop to break them down and examine how our codecs have changed the image.

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The reality is that there are dozens of different techniques that codecs use, but I focused on the ones that are most important for you to understand because they can impact your shooting and editing decisions on a day-to-day basis.

Here’s an outline of what I cover in this tutorial:

  • What a codec is - And how it differs from a container.
  • Different types of codecs – And why I frequently use 4 different codecs on a single project.
  • Bit Depth – What it means and why it matters.
  • Chroma Subsampling – 4:4:4, 4:2:2, and 4:2:0, and when it becomes an issue.
  • Spatial Compression and Blocking – One of the most common artefacts you see with normal work.
  • Temporal Compression – Long-GOP codecs, inter-frame compression, and ALL-I codecs.
  • Lossless vs. Lossy compression – How image compression differs from data compression.
  • Bit Rate – How to calculate bit rates and the differences between kbps/kBps/Mbps/MBps.
  • Raw – Briefly, the difference between Raw, compressed, and uncompressed (this could have been a 40-minute tutorial on its own!)

As always, comment and let me know if anything here isn’t clear.

How Codecs Work – Tutorial from David Kong on Vimeo.

Coming Soon…

I’m also going to do a more “practical” post on how to choose export settings when you’re rending out of Premiere / Final Cut. This video was more theoretical, explaining the techniques that codecs use. The next video will be all about how you make those decisions about how to tweak the settings. Let me know if there’s a particular setting that has always confused you, and I’ll make sure that I cover it!

– David

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My slightly belated entry for this little internet craze… http://philipbloom.net/2014/08/31/als/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/08/31/als/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 19:32:58 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=32297 600x315_second_shooter

It’s been everywhere. You can read about how it came about and what ALS is and why it’s great that awareness has been raised for this disease.

I had been nominated quite a few times, the first I believe by Lok from Digital Rev. I would have done it in the 24 hours that the rules say, had I not been wiped out by man flu. I would say I am just about fully recovered, so I decided now was the time to get it done!

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Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

I had my A7s ready for second camera but I didn’t use it in the end. Here with the wooden camera rig

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Using the F55 and my Sigma 50mm F1.4,  I shot everything at 180fps. This is recorded super slow motion in-camera so it’s 180fps in 23.98p and plays back slow motion instantly. When on my premiere timeline, this is 100% speed, to get it to play back at “normal speed” I then sped it up by 750%. 180 divided by 24 is 7.5 hence 750%. I simply razor bladed the clip at the moment I wanted to go back to what was recorded, the super slow motion, and changed the speed back to 100%. To go back again to “normal speed” for the post ice reaction, I just did the same thing razor blade on the 100% shot then the cut section becomes 750%

We did two takes, as the first one I didn’t want to use as I wanted this to be a one shot, and dad had the bucket in frame before pouring it on me and after. I wasn’t manning the F55, where I would have seen that, as I was a bit busy. Being the perfectionist that I am I had to redo it! I could have fixed it in post, but I am a purist, “fix in on set” kind of guy, hence the hair dryer and take two! Mum bought some more ice which I think adds to take two anyway.

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Audio was taken from my RX100 III that was doing a shot of my dad which you can see near the end. There isn’t any audio when shooting high frame rates on the F55, so do remember that, especially if you want to run the shot at normal speed like I did.

I did put a RODE Smart Lav II on me and my iPod touch in my pocket, but I must have accidentally click pause in the RODE Rec app, stupid me, as I didn’t record all my audio. So for the edit I used a mixture of RX100 III audio, foley, and some ADR for my dialogue. I know it sounds a teeny bit fake, but given the nature of what this is, I felt it actually added a slightly surreal touch to it.

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I lit this with my Cineo Lighting TruColor LS remote phosphor light. This is a stunning light. I bought it to use on the documentary in Detroit for all my interviews, and since then it has become a key part of my kit. The bigger version, the HS which kicks out the equivalent of 4K  (this is around 1K) I have used many times. I love it, but for practical reasons I bought the smaller version.

I will be talking about these lights more soon. I also have the exceptional AREA 48 Soft. Another lovely remote phosphor light

This was graded with FilmConvert (10% off wide code bloom at gopb.co/filmconvert) and a bit of custom curves. You can see the comparison below. Left is original S-Log 2 with S-Gamut colour. Right is the graded version

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Anyway if you fancy doing one, go for it!! I have challenged Eric Kessler, Vincent LaForet, and James Miller. If you do go for it, try and do something more than having it filmed on your iPhone! After all….we are filmmakers aren’t we? :)

That’s it for charity silliness from me for now, that is until Movember…I hope to do it again this year. Fingers crossed!

 

 

 

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Get your film made with #ProjectFilmSupply from The Music Bed http://philipbloom.net/2014/08/25/get-your-film-made-with-projectfilmsupply-from-the-music-bed/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/08/25/get-your-film-made-with-projectfilmsupply-from-the-music-bed/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 21:14:37 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=32274 600x315_second_shooter
The Music Bed have been a revelation for me. I adore music, and my taste is very eclectic and my collection of music rather large. It would be great to be able to use what I want on all my films, but of course it doesn’t work that way.  So when TMB came along and I started to browse their library, even though I had never heard of the artists, the music was fantastic and I have used them so many times over the past two or so years (maybe longer?) Their tracks in my epic reviews have helped carry their length, but it’s not just my reviews. So much of my personal films are scored to TMB music. 

Strangely, they asked to come to my home earlier this year to make one of their mini docs. Christian Schultz who shoots these is a visual poet and a lovely chap. I thought it was a total waste of his skills, talent and time to come with the team to my little house, but they insisted and I was pleasantly surprised by the mini doc they made. Even though I was utterly jet lagged when they did the interview and don’t remember saying half of the stuff in here. It’s way more personal than normal interviews. Oh well.

I wanted to share this on my site without doing a specific post, which would come across as a bit too narcissistic! Thankfully this was the perfect chance to share it here rather than just on my social media outlets!

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Making Room from The Music Bed on Vimeo.

Anyway, back to the main topic of the post. It’s always flattering to be asked to be a judge for filmmaking competitions, and this one is fascinating. Rather than submit your film to win the prizes, you submit your idea. We, the judges, with the help of the community,  then choose the top 3 and then the winner. The prizes are pretty epic. Let me hand over to the fellas at The Music Bed to explain properly: 

 

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When it comes to championing independent filmmakers of every skill level and walk of life, we can’t think of a more kindred spirit than Philip Bloom. Philip was one of the first and finest to latch on to The Music Bed’s vision of licensing relevant music to filmmakers — as well as inspiring and resourcing creatives to tell stories better than ever.

Philip is also a contributor to The Music Bed’s sister stock footage licensing company, Film Supply. Together, we’re raising the stock film aesthetic bar and challenging creatives to grow in their knowledge and love for film and meaningful storytelling.

That’s why we’re so excited about our latest campaign: #ProjectFilmSupply. The idea is pretty simple. We’re going to help filmmakers bring their dream projects to life.

#ProjectFilmSupply from The Music Bed on Vimeo.

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This is the biggest giveaway we’ve ever done, with over $50,000 in prizes available from seven incredible brands: RØDE, Kessler, Freefly, G-Tech, Blackmagic, No Film School, Zacuto, LensProToGo, and Squarespace plus music and film licenses from The Music Bed & Film Supply. All filmmakers have to do is pitch their short film ideas on themusicbed.com/projectfilmsupply, and the public will vote on which films they want to see made.

This isn’t just a chance for filmmakers to win some money and some gear. It’s a chance for them to bring the projects they’re most passionate about to life.

 

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Here’s how #ProjectFilmSupply works, step by step.

 

Step 1: For one month (starting August 4), we’ll ask the filmmaking community to submit a short film idea + mood board for the project they’ve always dreamed of creating.

Step 2: Those who submit an idea will ask their friends, family, and followers to vote for their projects.

Step 3: The Community + TMB will decide which three film concepts rise to the top and which one absolutely has to become a reality (the two runners up will receive loads of incredible prizes)

We can’t wait to see the amazing films that come out of #ProjectFilmSupply! Please spread the word, follow along, cast your vote, and if you have a dream project in mind — enter to win at themusicbed.com/projectfilmsupply!

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Video review of the Sony A7s!!! http://philipbloom.net/2014/08/06/a7svideoreview/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/08/06/a7svideoreview/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 08:11:24 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=32261

If you use any photos/ Screen grabs elsewhere, please credit philipbloom.net. Thank you!

Please read my ethics statement here

Philip Bloom A7s V2 1

The review is FINALLY DONE! Only 4 weeks this time, which is pretty good! There is a lot in it. Featuring footage from Brighton, Richmond, Maidstone, New York and Detroit. Used it a huge amount, including actual proper shooting jobs and in a variety of situations!

There is a very small amount of flesh on display here, not mine. Just a bit of painted topless ladies who pose for photos in New York. Might be not safe for work…captured as part of the street filming scenes.

As always with my reviews, I take my time to create the content which in turn helps me form my opinion, rather than just shoot some footage then put a review out based upon a snap judgment. Pointless.  You need time with a camera and time to truly form an opinion worth sharing. Should you listen to this opinion? Sure! Why not? Just don’t buy anything based on it, not on any one opinion… especially mine! Check out other reviews and try before you buy if you can!

If you do decide to get one the if you use any of the affiliates here (which don’t cost you a penny more) then it help fund any future reviews! They really are so financially illogical as they take so much time but I do still enjoy doing them…it’s just they take all my free time and cost a fortune! Also any use of the Vimeo Tip Jar feature is also appreciated. This can only be done through the actual Vimeo page where the video is hosted here. 

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Rather than move my “Evolving review post,” I have just created a new one here and added the actual video review. The problem is the way the Facebook comment section works – if you change the publish date of a post, then all comments go! That’s crap! Especially as there are a few hundred there. So do check out the “No longer evolving review” post for loads more thoughts, photos and info!! You can download original 4k clips there too.

Below is the 9 Second abbreviated version! 

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Sony A7s 4K quick test for download purposes. Cine gamma 2/ S-Log 2 from Philip Bloom Reviews & Tutorials on Vimeo.

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How to succeed as a video journalist http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/30/how-to-succeed-as-a-video-journalist/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/30/how-to-succeed-as-a-video-journalist/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:28:38 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=32243 filming in Gaza 10 years ago

filming in Gaza 10 years ago

PHILIP: I have been a journalist for 25 years. 17 of those were working as a news cameraman in some bloody awful places but covering some incredibly important stories.

Just how important people like Christian (who has written the guest blog post below) are must not be underestimated. Without people like him and the countless others working in TV news, risking their lives to make sure what needs to be told is told, we would live in the dark ages, and some of the most desperate plights of man, the injustices,  would never be highlighted and we would remain ignorant.

Yes, some TV news programmes are biased and their journalism can, at times, be questionable, but I am a firm believer that these are in the minority. UK TV news for example is forbidden to be politically biased, unlike UK newspapers, although in reality it’s not as easy as that. Anyway, this is for a different post.

For me, my 17 years in TV news were the most important years of my professional life. I learnt so much and would not be doing what I am today were it not for my time at Sky News. It’s rare to see people ask me about wanting to work in TV news. Everyone wants to make movies. Well I can tell you that working in this profession is one of the most rewarding careers you can have. It can be creative, exhilarating, terrifying, rewarding, soul destroying and life affirming to name just a few. Most importantly, you can be doing something that truly matters. That to me is important in life. I had to leave for many reasons. One of the key ones was it was changing me too much into someone who was becoming too bitter and too cynical. I needed to find a way to change this.

This is a brief guest blog post, essentially an introduction to Christian’s excellent book. All proceeds of the sale go to the Rory Peck trust, a wonderful thing to do, Christian. The Rory Peck Trust is the only organisation dedicated to the support, safety and welfare of freelance news-gatherers around the world. Best of luck with the e-book and for the excellent work you are doing out there Christian. Stay safe!

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GUEST POST BY CHRISTIAN PARKINSON 

@imagejunkies

It doesn’t matter what you call yourself: cameraman, shoot/edit, video journalist, multimedia journalist, backpack journalist, SoJo, photog, shooter, photojournalist, video Producer, visual journalist…we are image makers who love to tell stories. We document the world around us, capture moments and try to explain them and why they are important. It‟s not just a job, it‟s a calling.

I’m Christian Parkinson a full time shooter/editor and VJ for the BBC and blogger at http://www.imagejunkies.com. I’ve been shooting and editing national and international news for twelve years, firstly with ITN and then with the British Broadcasting Corporation. I spent four years with the BBC’s Africa Bureau where my work in the Democratic Republic of Congo won the prestigious David Bloom Award presented by President Obama. It was later shortlisted for an International Emmy.

I’ve always been a fan of books and blogs that look behind the scenes of our job and give a taste of the skills and logistics required. My favourite Phil Bloom post is his excellent article on traveling with gear http://philipbloom.net/2012/02/13/flying-with-gear/. Therefore I have recently finished writing a book that examines and explains the practical and personal skills needed to push your career forward. Camera Confidential is not about the technical side of video journalism. It‟s not going to explain white balancing, the difference between CCD‟s and CMOS sensors, and it won’t discuss camera specs (I’ll leave that to guys like Phil who know what they are talking about!). No, this book is the book I wish somebody had given to me when I started shooting many years ago. It will answer questions such as: How do I find my first job? What paperwork do I need to complete when travelling with kit? What gear should I carry in a war zone? How should I protect my camera when shooting in the desert/snow/jungle? How do I shoot an anonymous interview?

Chris with rebels in Libya

Chris with rebels in Libya

Working as a cameraman or video journalist in news and documentaries is one of the toughest but also one of the most satisfying jobs in the world. The years you spend shooting news and telling stories will stand you in excellent stead for any other challenge within the industry. As Philip Bloom told me: “I learnt from some amazing cameramen at Sky news. I knew nothing when I started. News cameramen work fast, think fast and react fast. I would always prefer to work with someone from a news background. You can always spot them. I would love to see the cameramen who look down on news shooters try it for a week! To create quality images under immense pressure is testament to the quality of people out there.”

Phil is one of many contributors to the book and his input sits alongside other giants of the industry like Darren “DC” Conway and Fred Scott who are multiple award winners for their outstanding news and documentary filming. It’s the interviews with guys like them that I think make this book special.

Chris with 5D in Kenya

Chris with 5D in Kenya

I’ve tried to keep Camera confidential short and concise and I’ve included handy lists like the one below that covers working in extreme desert conditions.

➢ The black colour of your camera will soak up the heat so keep it covered or in the shade whenever possible and don‟t leave the viewfinder tilted up toward the sun. Also if you are expecting sandstorms or helicopters to be taking off and landing nearby then have a cover for the camera ready – in Afghanistan I often keep a bin bag handy to throw over the camera to protect it from the immense dust cloud thrown up by choppers. Your cameras rain jacket can also be used.

➢ ▪Keep your kit clean. Carry a paintbrush to dust the camera down regularly. Be wary of compressed air as it can push the sand grains deeper into the system. Use a UV filter to protect the lens and keep it spotless otherwise you‟ll get shots ruined by dust.

➢ ▪Don‟t change disks or tapes in the open air, if you have to then do it as quickly as possible. Try and change them inside your vehicle or tent and then store them somewhere cool and in a waterproof/airtight case – Tupperware boxes can be useful for this.

➢ ▪Consider bringing some pelican cases and a pop up tent to store your gear in if staying outdoors overnight.

➢ ▪Take a backpack with a bladder (like a camelback) so that you always have easy access to liquid. Make sure you and your colleagues remind each other regularly to hydrate – you‟d be surprised how easy it is to forget.

➢ ▪Experienced South African cameraman Glenn Middleton has filmed extensively in the deserts of Africa and the Middle East. He has this advice: “Filming in the desert is a big challenge; I wish they made a condom for cameras. The dust gets everywhere, but now that cameras don’t shoot with tape anymore it is a bit less risky. Don’t make the mistake of trying to clean your camera with a blast of air, all you doing is blowing the dust further into your gear. Use a paint brush instead. The best plan is to keep the camera free from dust and at the end of your shoot take gear in for a service. I found that a few plastic bags help if you wrap it around the camera. It doesn’t make for easy filming but it‟s better than nothing.”

Oh, and did I mention that all proceeds from the book are going to charity? I decided that I wanted this book to help others within our industry and therefore I have released it in conjunction with the Rory Peck trust who receive one hundred percent of the money made from sales. If you don’t know them the RPT  provide practical assistance and support to freelance news-gatherers and their families worldwide, to raise their profile, promote their welfare and safety, and to support their right to report freely and without fear. Due to my own years working in Africa and seeing the huge risks that local freelancers take I’ve asked for any money made to help give safety training to shooters from the continent.

If you want to purchase a copy of the book then please feel free to follow the link below and click on the tab that says “get your copy of camera confidential”. Enjoy!

https://rorypecktrust.org/rpt-live/July-2014/writing-camera-confidential

 

 

 

 

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Every Moment Counts – Producing Content With A Tight Turnaround http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/29/every-moment-counts-producing-content-with-a-tight-turnaround/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/29/every-moment-counts-producing-content-with-a-tight-turnaround/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:58:44 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=32177 pb_670x67

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 Philip: Whilst I won’t be reviewing the Nikon D810, mostly due to the absolutely lack of any free time to get it done, you can read about it and see the images from it thanks to my buddy Preston Kanak’s guest post below. My Sony A7s review is coming soon, after that I won’t be able to do anymore camera reviews for the foreseeable future due to my filming commitments for the next few months. 

Pretons Kanak from a few years ago when we first met filming "Confluence"  That's me in the reflection!

Preston Kanak from a few years ago when we first met filming “Confluence”
That’s me in the reflection!

 

By Preston Kanak

Earlier this year, NPS Canada & Nikon Canada contracted us to shoot a short film utilizing the new Nikon D810. What we wanted to do with the project was find a way to showcase the capabilities of the camera while also telling a story. For this project, we chose to produce a full campaign that included a short documentary, behind the scenes film as well as a photo series. As for this post, what we want to do is give you a look at how we approached this project. We will be looking at:

We have also talked about the score below which has been the topic of most of the negative conversation for this piece. Feel free to jump ahead to see why we approached it in the way we did.

Like with any campaign, it is imperative that a strategy is developed early on so you have a goal you are working towards. With this project having such a quick turnaround, like is a lot of the time, it was imperative that we had our plan clearly laid out to ensure delivery on time. Our approach with this project was to craft the story before we even started shooting. Before going any further, we must state that we are a new company and as such, we are just talking from our personal experiences and are learning with every project we produce. It is a learning process and we continue to refine our workflow with every project. Below we have attached the final short film we produced for the project. The BTS has also been attached lower in the article. It can be accessed by clicking here.

Importance of developing a detailed proposal

As much as many may not enjoy developing proposals, it is an essential part of the process. For us, we view it as a critical part of the process and the first chance you have at impressing your client on your work ethic and attention to detail.

Proposal Breakdown

When approaching our proposal, we wanted to paint a clear picture of what we wanted to produce. We broke down everything from our story to the characteristics of our lead character. We were looking at shooting a documentary on a fisherman and did not have a candidate secured when developing the proposal so we had to develop a character profile to help explain what we were trying to do. Our strategy with all proposals is to include as much information as possible to help when approaching production. We have included a few screen grabs from the proposal.

Binder Sections

Project Introduction

A legacy is built upon a foundation of passion and perfection that extends far beyond a lifetime. This legacy is carefully refined with every decision that is made. Be it a fishing operation or the refinement of a digital camera, these decisions are what shape an industry.

For this project, our goal is to showcase what the D810 was capable of producing in both still and video formats. A photo series, a 30 second teaser, three minute documentary and BTS video was produced that showcased the capabilities of this camera while focusing on the technical specifications that make this camera unique. This campaign was not only the current customer base but also the general public because of the format of storytelling.

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Story Development

Every Moment Counts is a short that follows the journey of Manny Vaughan who has been fishing for 70 years. This film features his journey of passion and drive through his many years living and breathing on the open sea.

When breaking down the story, there were a lot of things we had to consider. We had a rough idea of the story we wanted to tell that we developed in the pre-production / proposal stage and it was imperative that we hit our key story points. When we started to collect story points, our first goal was to do a sit down interview with our lead character, Manny. This interview went on for about an hour and a half. What was great about it was that it didn’t come across as an interview, rather, a conversation between two people. This was a great approach as we were able to have a real conversation with Manny and we were able to get him to open up.

Regarding story points, the story we really wanted to tell was that of a fisherman who has fished his whole life. He is a character that cares deeply about his family but also about fishing. The major conflict developed in the story was the sea. What we wanted to do was turn the ocean into a character and place it as the antagonist of the story. By doing this, we feel we were able to develop our story points.

Our story opens with Manny talking about the power of the sea and reveals the inciting incident that you must not take the power of the sea for granted. It is a powerful force and it is key to respect it. In the way he delivers the lines, the subtext is that he knows this through personal experience and sets the stage for the rising action and climax that occurs later in the story.

For this piece, we setup the story in a way that first introduces Manny and then goes on to reveal that he has lived a hard life and this is paralleled through his voice – which is rugged, coarse and aged. We felt that this really aided in this idea of growth, experience and age. After establishing who Manny was, we then went on to introduce to the audience about his life and experiences with fishing. We started with some early memories fishing with a safety pin and how when he finally got real hooks, he thought he was ‘big time’. We see through the way that he delivers his story that he truly loves fishing.

Our first plot point or point of conflict is in his description of his fear for the sea. We find out early that even though he has a fear for the sea, fishing overcomes this fear and it is this passion that keeps him coming back. As the story continues, we revisit the idea that the sea is a place to fear and to not overlook this power. He reinforces this power by revealing one of the main reasons he fears the sea. This loss of his friends of sea still haunts him and it was our goal to capture this emotion. We did this by showing him for the first time on camera. As we move closer on his face, we see his eyes wheeling up with tears.

Our resolution to the story revisits his love for fishing to show that no matter how much fear exists, it is the love for the task that keeps bringing him back. His connection with family and friends is his guiding light and is what truly makes him happy. At the end of the day, what we wanted to leave the audience with is a story about the value of family and how activities such as fishing can bring people together. Our focus on the act of fishing and commitment demonstrated through the 70 years truly shows the role passion plays and how it is critical in living a satisfied life.

Click to view slideshow.

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Character Breakdown

Our focus is on the small rural fisherman who has been able to do what he loves while still being able to support his family at the same time. Our focus isn’t just about the success of catching fish – it’s about the journey. Work-life balance has always been a challenge but this is normal. A culture breeding a work ethic built on hard-work and long hours has allowed our lead character to continue to build on the family legacy.

When selecting our candidate, it is key we find someone who is nearing retirement but has lived a long and full life. We will target an active fishing community that is struggling to make ends meet with the new regulations being introduced that limit the opportunities for small operations to succeed. We are not making a statement about the industry, rather showing that no matter the obstacles, passion is what keeps these operations running.

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Bringing The Proposal To Life

Our goal with this production was to try bring it to life as close to our proposal as possible and we felt the best way to do this was to immerse ourselves in the local culture and spend as much time with the locals as possible. We became regulars at a few places on our trip – from the breakfast joint (Eat Restaurant) to the restaurant at the top of Peggy’s Cove for our double Espresso and Kahlua and a cookie (you had to eat to have a drink and that was the cheapest thing on the menu :)). Immersing yourself in the local landscape is imperative. We would not have been able to accomplish what we did without having made friends with the locals.

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Why Collaboration is Important

With any project, finding a strong team is imperative. For this project, we had a great team that helped with the process. From creative to photography to locations, I relied heavily on the help of the entire team. At the end of each day, we would go over rushes and talk about how we could approach the next day better. With all projects, it is key that you make the working environment one where people feel they can give creative input, no matter if they are above or below the line. The one aspect that was a bit unique for us on this project is that we brought in a musician to produce a custom score for the film.

Offering Creative Liberties to Collaborators

Being in a place to offer creative control to various team members is a valuable tool – albeit stressful unless you completely trust these team members. For this project, we brought in Karrnnel Sawitsky. I’ve worked with him on two other projects and felt he would be the perfect fit for this project. When he arrived on location, we already had a locked story edit and were able to give him something to work from. When he arrived on location, we had told him that the temp track that we were using would be tough to beat with the custom score.

 The Music

We talked in depth about our approach for this project and knew the impact the music would have upon the story. We wanted to craft a song that also told it’s own story – one that would accent the visuals we had in place. There were certain spots that I wanted certain emotions to be hit but overall, I left Karrnnel with the creative liberties to go in the direction he felt best.

After hearing the edit and talking with crew members, many liked the vibe of the original temp track that Karrnnel had previously recorded but I felt that going with new track – although riskier – would be the better route to go as it felt right the more I worked with it. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. For me, I feel that the track we chose is perfect.

Obstacles

I think our most challenging part was finding our local talent. It was absolutely amazing how everyone was willing to help without asking for anything in return. People just opened their doors for us and this was really quite amazing! I’m not sure we would have had this experience in too many other places.

Our first major obstacle that we had to overcome was to secure talent and locations. Before landing in Nova Scotia, we had one potential candidate lined up and although he had a great story to tell, it wasn’t quite what we were looking for. We then spent the next four days searching out new talent as well as locations.

Our biggest word of advice for others looking to produce something similar is to immerse yourselves as much in the local culture as possible. Talk with the locals. Make friends. Ask questions. Introduce yourself and most importantly, be friendly and show interest in what they have to say.

How to develop a comprehensive Pre-production strategy

Once you have secured the project and contracts are signed (if you decide to use them), the next plan of action is setting the project into motion. I will generally start by breaking down the key objectives and then move to develop scripts that achieve the core objectives. No matter how large or small a project is, I will also develop a comprehensive strategy. This process is usually fairly straightforward as we generally spend a lot of time crating the proposal so a lot of the heavy lifting is done upfront. Attached is a screen grab of a table of contents that would generally be included with a proposal.

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Regarding pre-production, the key things we prepare are the scripts, scouting, schedules and crew / gear breakdowns. Because we will generally breakdown the creative elements in the proposal, we are able to move directly into refining our concepts and prepping the shoot.

We start by assembling a production binder to use for production. We take our proposal and parcel it out into the different areas of production. We make sure we have all releases, NDA’s, travel information or any other pertinent information we may need for the shoot. We also make digital copies that are available to all crew members during production. We still find it handy to have paper copies on set in case any last minute questions come up.

We manage all productions using dropbox teams and have attached a breakdown of the folder structure below.

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By having a template folder to work from, and using colour coding of folders, we are able to see what still needs to be done and what has been done. We can assign folders and tasks by dual colour coding folders to show who is doing what. As we start to turn folders green, we then print off the content in the folder and add it to the production binder.

Value of Open Communication with Client

A positive working relationship with clients starts with transparency and open communication. For us, this is extremely critical and something we are always working to improve. If open communication is established early on, the entire process goes much smoother. Gaining the trust of your client also sets up for a good working relationship that goes beyond the project you are working on and potentially leads to more work. Lay out beforehand what can be expected from the production and ensure that clear timelines are established and met. Whether or not there is a hard deadline for a project, set one and lay out all elements of production that need to be completed. We will usually show the client this timeline and provide updates along the way.

Importance of Clear Objectives & Deliverables

The first critical step is the breakdown the deliverables and to set out the clear objectives for the project for both the client as well as your teammates. By having clear objectives, not only do you have something to work towards, but you also have an outline of expectations for the project. For this project, we wanted to produce a documentary, behind the scenes film and photo campaign. All of these assets were to be delivered on July 6th. Because of the tight turnaround, we knew we had to start working on the project as soon as possible as we were set to land in Nova Scotia on June 16th.

THE DOCUMENTARY

For our documentary, we had a concept breakdown developed before landing and had an idea of the key story points. We had the questions prepped before finding our lead and catered, as we needed to ensure we captured the story we needed. We shot the interview on day five and by doing this; we were able to cater our supporting footage based on our locked story edit.

BEHIND THE SCENES

Before landing in Nova Scotia, we already had our intro and our script written and recorded and our music selected for the piece. All we had to do while on location was shoot the interviews and supporting footage.

For this film, we separated the days in which we shot our interviews, as we wanted to shoot the final interviews as close to the delivery date as possible to include a comprehensive coverage of the project. For the crew that wasn’t on location for the entire shoot, we did their interviews first and edited the sound bites right after the interview. For the rest of it, we pushed hard to assemble the edit right after we filmed the interview so we could start putting together a rough assembly as early as possible.

DELIVERING ASSETS ON TIME

Our other major obstacle was delivery time on assets. We were shooting right up to July 4th so we had to start working with our assets right on location. Without having done the prep before hand, we would have had no chance at finishing before our delivery date. The second we got green lit, we started to prep all assets including the selection of music for the behind the scenes, graphic treatments and other elements. Anything we could start beforehand, we did.

The Edit

With the quick turnaround we had for this project, it was key that we started the edit while on the road. With the long distances between locations, we decided to put the edits together while driving. This was a great way to review footage we just shot and start to see the film take shape. By doing this, we were able to quickly see what we still had left to film and were able to adapt the project as we worked on it.

The Grade

For people curious about what the footage out of the new camera looks like, we have included a side by side comparison with the raw footage beside the graded footage. We added sharpness to the raw image as it is easier to see the gradations in the raw footage. Outside of the sharpness, the footage is untouched.

Wrap-up

A reality of a lot of productions is that there isn’t a lot of time from pre to post. This process, depending on the complexity of the shoot, can be very challenging. What we hope we were able to do with this post is help with the process – even if only in a small way. If you have any questions or would like to hear more about any aspect of the process, do not hesitate to ask and we will try include it in the post as well!

If you would like to find out more or hear our thoughts on the camera, make sure to check out our post on the Cinescapes blog.

 

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New mini doc shot with the Sony FS700, Odyssey 7Q, Sony A6000 and Movi M5 http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/19/magician/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/19/magician/#comments Sat, 19 Jul 2014 14:45:44 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=32123 ETHICS STATEMENT: Although this shoot was for Sony and made to promote their cameras, this in no way compromises my impartiality and ethics. They hired me to make a film like any client. I have done work for most of the major camera manufacturers. I still use a huge variety of cameras for my work. The 1DC is still my favourite all rounder, with the Sony A7s and Panasonic GH4 right behind it! :)

WATCH THE RECORDING OF THE WEBINAR NOW BY CLICKING BELOW!!

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I was asked by Sony to make a film and a behind-the-scenes for a promotion they wanted to do called “Shooting Cinematically.”

Two years or so ago I did a similar campaign for them, Extraordinary, which yielded one of my favourite mini docs “Portrait of a boxer” and also included in depth BTS videos.

They wanted a short film that could connect with the small production company crowd, the event and corporate filmmakers. They also specifically wanted it shot on the FS700 and to highlight its key selling points, 4K and super slow motion. The original plan was also to have the A7s as B-CAMERA. My pitch specifically included the amazing low light power of that camera. Unfortunately, when it came to it there were no cameras in the UK available, as this was back in May, so I substituted A6000 for it at the 11th hour. More on that later.

My idea was to do a mini doc about someone who does something visual, tell their story, and use these features they wanted me highlight in a natural way. I was doing some research on possible subjects. I wanted to also have a section that included lighting, as that is one of the things that is an afterthought for many people, like sound too.

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Dean Jorgensen is the husband of a good friend of mine. Whilst I was chatting to her, she vaguely suggested Dean. I asked more about what he does. He works full time as Sky TV as a transmission controller but performs magic every Thursday night in 2 bars in Soho, London. I imagined the things that I could do with this and I pitched the concept to Sony, who loved it.

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What is “Shooting Cinematically”?

Much like that other phrase, “film look,” it’s more than one thing and is also incredibly subjective. It’s more than shooting progressive. It’s everything combined. Lighting, composition, movement, controlled depth of field, audio, content, grading. A big part is making things look more expensive than they actually are. After all, I shot a short with a DJI Phantom 2 with a GoPro. Total cost around £1200 and it had a huge reaction. It was down to movement, content, light, grading and structure. 

Shooting cinematically doesn’t mean using an expensive camera, necessarily. With the arrival of cheap cameras with large sensors, this has been more and more achievable. Although a better camera is also preferable!

The FS700 is one of the most powerful cameras on the market for the price. The ergonomics frustrate me, as I have mentioned before, but the features and image really are superb. It can record up to 200FPS over crank in 50hz mode and 240fps in 60hz mode. It can also output 4K to an external recorder if it’s the newer R model or you have had it factory updated like I have mine.

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The next step

So I’ve got my character and my story – Dean, the part-time close-up magician. Planning the shoot was the first thing I had to do. I needed to  understand how he performed his magic and figure out what I needed, content-wise, to tell his story in a very short period of time. I also wanted to look around his house to work out where we could shoot the interview and B-roll and to figure out what lighting I might need.

The other question was where we could film Dean performing in public. He told me which bars he performs in, so I was able to check them out and have a look at how well they worked. It would have to be available light, because of the number of people there and not wanting to attract too much attention. Another key consideration was listening to how loud the sound was there. A big part of his performance is his verbal interaction with people, so I had to make sure I would be able to actually hear him!

The Storyboard

Armed with this information, I made the storyboard. It was a loose one, since this is a documentary, and things can change depending on how the shoot goes. What’s more, Dean could surprise me in the interview with something spontaneous that I’d want to capture. This frequently happens when doing things like this. That is why I really recommend doing the interview/ interviews early in the shoot, as you can get valuable clues about what other shots to get. There’s nothing worse than doing an interview right at the end, and learning something wonderful that you’ve got no more time to film.

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The right tool for the right job

My main camera was the Sony FS700 as mentioned earlier. After all, my client was Sony and they wanted to promote it. I think they might have not been super happy had I shot with a RED! With my own FS700 and its Version 3 firmware, I had the ability to output 4K raw and 2K continuous slow motion, although you must have an external recorder for that.

There are two main options. The Sony R5 with interface unit, which I own as I have an F55 and it’s designed for that. I don’t think it’s the best option for the FS700 as it’s too bulky and makes the camera super long. You can see my review of that here.

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My 4K recorder of choice is the excellent Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q. I love this recorder as it also doubles as a superb OLED monitor. It’s got two SSDs for recording 4K and the 2K super slow motion. It’s relatively cheap for what it does, although the media costs do add up. Currently it only records in raw for 4K, but ProRes is coming which will save on media costs a lot!

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Using the features

Internally, you’re limited to an 8 second buffer for super slow motion. But with the continuous 2K raw setting, that restriction is lifted. There’s no buffer limiting you anymore, but you do need to be careful not to overshoot, as it does use up a lot of data.

The interview with Dean was shot in 4K. I’m a big fan of doing this. Not because the finished film will be 4K – it will be delivered HD. But 4K gives me a huge image, with the wonderful ability to reframe from wide angle to various sizes of tighter shots. I don’t have to make the decision when to be wide or tight optically anymore, and this is a really freeing thing for me.

With a recorded image of 4096×2160 and an edit canvas of 1920×1080, if I shot my master as one shot, I could punch in for a close up with no loss in quality. Below you can see the main image (graded) at 54% of it’s original size and then at 90%. I could have shot a bit closer as the 90% was as close as I wanted my framing to be. Anymore and I would have lost the top of his head. I do that sometimes but I didn’t want it for this.

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One thing to be aware of when doing this is make sure the image is clean. Keep that ISO down and light well. A noisy image when cropped looks even worse. Plus the noise is bigger. Keep it clean, and you will be fine.

What I often do when cropping interviews in 4K is put an adjustment layer above the video tracks and use FilmConvert to add a layer of grain to even it all out. This works a treat. I want the cuts to look seamless, like I had two cameras or changed focal length.pbloom-250x400

Another thing to remember: a crop of an image won’t change the depth of field. This will only happen when changing the frame optically.

One other perk of having the FS700 set to 4K raw is a feature in the Odyssey that converts that signal into a stunning looking HD ProRes HQ, which is better than if you set the camera to HD and just recorded that output. It’s because you are sending a 12-bit signal into the 7Q in 4K raw mode instead of the normal HD 8-bit which is then down-sampled and recorded as the 10 bit ProRes HQ. This extra information that is sent into the recorder give you drastically reduced banding and also an image that is more detailed and clean.

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High sensitivity cameras doesn’t mean you don’t use lights!

Cameras like the FS700 that perform brilliantly in low light aren’t an excuse not to light. Lighting creates texture and mood to your image. I lit the interview with a single Kino-Flo Diva soft light, using the window as my back light. Even though it was in shot, the extra dynamic range of the raw meant I held most of the detail in the window. You can see blown highlights of the same window on the shots in the same location with the smaller non-raw camera.

Do be sure that light coming from a natural source like a window is continuous. Look to see if the sun is going to stay out or stay behind cloud, otherwise your shot will be drastically affected. The longer your interview, the more chance you have of the light changing. If you plan to do a long interview, I would block natural light sources and be in total control. It’s a shame to lose lovely natural light but essential at times.

Super slow motion

Super slow motion was set to 200fps, the maximum in 25p mode. You need a lot more light than normal, as your shutter speed needs to be at least double your frame rate. The FS700 won’t go to the exact shutter speeds you want, but something like 1/400th or close to it is what you need. You won’t be able to go below 1/200th at 200fps as it’s technically impossible, but also at the speed of shutter you will get too much motion blur. Keep it at least double, well ideally double!

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When these shutter speeds go high, domestic lights and low wattage incandescent light sources will interfere and cause nasty flicker. You can get this when shooting at normal speed (well you get strobing not flicker). 1/50th and 1/100th in 50hz countries means you will be fine under most domestic lights (beware of things like TVs which often run at 60hz) In 60hz countries you want to be at 1/60th to 1/120th. Other shutter speeds lower or higher will cause issues.

Professional light sources generally won’t give you these problems – LED Litepanels are great. But if you are using any incandescent lights, make sure they’re high wattage so the filament can heat up enough to stop the issues of flickering. I used a DEDO 150w. This is a low wattage light and risky. A full whack and left on for a few minutes I avoided the flicker. Dim down though and you will get it.

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The B Camera

Initially, as I mentioned earlier, we were supposed to be using the A7s for the shots in the bar and other B camera shots. When it became clear this was not available, I decided to use my very cheap A6000. Why this over the A7r? I love my A7r especially for stills, but surprisingly the A6000 had a better looking HD image. Since this shoot I have of course picked up an A7S and it’s mind-blowingly good, both in HD image and low light ability. Still the A6000 performed admirably considering its super cheap cost.

My hi-tech solution to fragile mini and micro Hdmi ports on cameras. BLU-TACK! Seriously works a treat!!

My hi-tech solution to fragile mini and micro Hdmi ports on cameras. BLU-TACK! Seriously works a treat!!

When to use the B camera and when to use the A camera

This comes down to many factors, which are different on every shoot. I made the very bold decision to use the B camera for all a large proportion of the filming. All the stuff with Dean’s children, the “apprentice” section too, plus everything at the bar. The FS700 was used for the interview and slow motion only. The reason being that I wanted to use my new Movi 5 :)

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The Movi M5 is a wonderful piece of kit. Yes it’s not cheap, costing around £3000, but it’s just simply marvelous and can bring massive production value to your shoots. It’s not for everything, and it’s not for every camera. It’s designed for smaller cameras. Their M10 which is more than twice the price is for bigger cameras, but the FS700s, due to its shape, doesn’t go on either. Another reason I chose the B camera for a large chunk of the filming.

This 3 axis brushless gimbal system is a bit like a motorised steadicam in a way, but I find it a lot easier to use. Balancing takes practice, but when it’s set up it’s remarkably intuitive and performs brilliantly, even in the wind. Plus when used in inverted mode (like I did for the most part here) and with the lightweight A6000, I was able to go all night with it, as opposed to using heaving cameras and in normal mode, when I can’t last more than a few minutes!

The downside to this is focus. Yes, some cameras have fairly decent autofocus, especially the Canon C100 and C300 although they have limitations too. The A6000 does have autofocus, but I didn’t actually try it. What I did was set my focus and then move with the subject within my depth of field. Sometimes I kept it really shallow, which was harder. Other times deeper made more sense.

The sequence of Dean travelling on the train and tube was all the A6000 and the Movi. I did film without official permission, but I made sure I did it quickly and didn’t get in people’s way. The shots of Dean walking from the train to the bar added a lot to the production in my opinion. Very “cinematic.”

Really, you need a remote follow focus and a focus puller. James Miller was at the shoot doing BTS with a sound man, Andrew and assistant, Holly. Occasionally I borrowed both of them for a little bit of help. It’s quite hard reaching to change focus when holding the Movi, so Holly helped me sometimes. Have a good monitor on the Movi is also essential for composition, exposure and focus. I used the wonderful Atomos Ninja Blade, as it also doubled as an external recorder recording in ProRes 422. Much better than the internal recording of the A6000 which is AVCHD.

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Using the Atomos Ninja Blade to record the A6000 clean output in ProRes 422 and also using it as an excellent monitor. You can see the essential waveform bottom right of the screen

It was tough in the very dark bar. The camera was pushed to 3200 ISO which is a stretch for the A6000. The FS700 would have eaten it up – in fact it did, as James shot the BTS with that camera and he could see way more than me!

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Movi M5 in inverted mode

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Using a variable ND to control the exposure and depth of field

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Holly reaching round to give me helping hand with my focus

Audio

This is so important, I cannot stress it enough. Without great sound, this whole film would have failed. I needed to hear Dean performing and of course the interview had to have perfect sound and the same on the “Apprentice” scene.

I used Sony’s UWP D wireless mic for most of the audio, Dean wore it (hidden of course!) as did Zack. I actually recorded it dual system sound using my Roland R26 for when I shot with the B-camera. I used a Rode Video Mic Pro as reference plugged into the Ninja Blade, as the A6000 has no mic input or headphone jack. This was simply synced with Pluraleyes in post.

For the sit down interview, I used my Sanken Cos 11 wired mic. I don’t use wireless mics for sit downs unless they are so wide I can see the cable. Saves on batteries, and of course wireless mics occasionally get interference.

Andrew, James’ sound man, also did some of the recording in the bar as backup, but thankfully the wireless mic picked most of it up fine, even in the really noisy places. It’s worth recording a minute of atmosphere audio in each location to underlay and even out the audio in post.

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How pre-production makes your life easier and the edit

The film was storyboarded, and I pretty much stuck to it. I had key sequences to shoot:

The interview

Dean playing with his daughter

The scene with his son

Travelling to London

Performing magic

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One of the key objectives that would make the film was the “apprentice” scene. Where Dean’s son Zack teaches him a trick. I wanted to intercut this with the actual performance of the trick in the bar. Knowing this was how it would play out in the edit, I had to make sure I got all the shots and sync I needed for this. I got Dean and Zack to repeat this sequence for me from 4 angles. They were patient, and it paid off. Shooting all from the same angle would have been visually dull, especially as I would be cutting fast back and forth between this and the corresponding moments in the bar.

Getting the right shots in the bar both visually and with the audio was challenging, and I filmed about 6 or 7 performances of this. Shooting it all on the Movi made it ten times harder, but in the end it worked. Although frankly, I could easily have gotten away without using it, as I hate unmotivated movement and people sitting at table is pretty unmotivated. What I used it for was perfect stable handheld!

It took a while in the bar until I was happy, but I knew exactly how much I needed, as I was piecing it together in my head as we went along. Everyone in the bar signed releases by the way. For anything commercial like this, it’s essential.
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The edit was pretty straightforward due to my planning. As you can see above, there were lots of layers both of audio and video. The audio of the travelling to the bar was all foley in post from freesound.org. It simply sounded better than the real thing!

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The tricky part was the colour grade. I used my usual FilmConvert of course, and it really added to this. For the bar scenes, there was a fair bit of break up and banding in the image, as it was high ISO and probably not the most ideal picture profile. Try not to shoot too flat in low light conditions, as you will have the same issues with 8 bit video. What I did was use Super 16mm grain, which softened the image and hid the image issues. For the daytime and the rest I used Academy 35mm grain.

The sequence with Dean’s daughter Lois I made it look more nostalgic with some milky blacks and vibrant but over saturated colours. There is nothing wrong with mixing styles colour-wise, especially if it makes sense for the sequence.

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I did use a fair amount of media as you can see below. The Odyssey 7Q, as it only does raw, currently eats up 500gb for 24 minutes of 25p in 4K. That’s a lot. The super slow motion in 2K also adds up (You can only do continuous slow motion in 2K mode)

That’s my biggest caveat with recording 4K with this camera. Once we get ProRes, it will be way more practical. Until then, be aware of how much data you will use. I kept the interview fairly brief because of this, which isn’t ideal, but I wanted the 4K for varying the frame.

Oh, one other thing. I am using the new Really Right Stuff  sticks with FH350 head. Both pricey but very nice. Worth it over my usual Millers? They are different. I love the modularity, how parts break off to mount sliders etc.

All in all, I am happy with the end result. A lot is packed into 4 minutes. The film isn’t about magic really, it’s about Dean. Magic is the framing device. Dean is the content. Is it cinematic? I think so. You may disagree, but that is what opinions are for. Everything is subjective.

Check out the behind the scenes videos by James on the Sony site or below. 

 

 

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The no longer evolving review of the Sony A7s now with extreme low light video. http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/03/a7s/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/03/a7s/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 18:16:55 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=32047 If you use any photos/ Screen grabs elsewhere, please credit philipbloom.net. Thank you!

Please read my ethics statement here

EDIT: THE VIDEO REVIEW IS NOW UP ON IT’S OWN PAGE HERE!

Perfect light before our night-time filming

Perfect light before our night-time filming

With my GH4 review only just out, I am already started on my next one, the Sony A7s. As always, it’s an evolving one. Don’t expect the actual video review soon. I like to know the camera really well before I put them out, but I have been doing some filming already. The GH4 is still bloody awesome. This camera has a different killer feature…I do wish there was a camera that all of these killer features on one! The closest is probably my 1DC!

Before I get onto that, what exactly is so special about this camera? I am extremely choosy about which cameras I review. I have to be interested in them to put the huge amount of time and effort it takes to make them. If I have no interest in a camera, then I simply won’t make a review. They are occasionally subsidized by a dealer, never the company who makes them due to my ethics (this one CVP are subsidizing) but even then they’re 90% self funded. I am not sure they could stomach the actual cost of all the time I put into making them! :)

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This camera is a low light monster. That is the feature that is killer. It also has amazing looking 4K, but not internally unfortunately. It has a micro hdmi port that outputs uncompressed 3840×2160 422 8 bit video (yes not 10 bit like the GH4).

It’s also full frame. I adore full frame. That’s a sensor FOUR time bigger than the one of the GH4 (although the GH4 can get to S35 with a standard MFT Metabones Speedbooster) That’s a huge difference of course. Although full frame has it’s downsides as well as upsides. Wides are easier to get on full frame, long shots? Harder!!

This is the third in the new Sony Alpha A7 line after the A7 and A7R. Both full frame stills cameras with nice HD video. I reviewed them here. The HD was nice, just not brilliant. Image issues were still present.

The A7s has a much smaller megapixel count than the other two, meaning it can soak up light a lot better, combined with excellent processing behind it. It has a 12.2MP sensor, the A7 24.7MP and the A7r a monstrous 36.4MP.

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I love my A7r for stills and use it a lot, but almost never for video. In fact, the Sony A6000 has better HD video than it, but stills wise…

With this massively reduced MP count, you do reduce the size of the stills drastically. They are still big enough for most purposes, but your cropping ability is severely reduced from the A7R of course.

Sony seem to have really focused on creating the best stills camera video function possible. What is in this camera puts many much more expensive video cameras to shame.

We have a much improved codec over the old AVCHD codec: XAVC-s, the baby brother of the wonderful XAVC on my monster of a camera, the Sony F55. It’s 50Mbps and 4:2:0 8 bit. It’s very efficient, so it performs a lot better than you would expect for 50mbps.

It has S-Log and S-gamut. S-Log, though, works with a minimum ISO of 3200, which is problematic in daylight. It’s apparently where the camera performs best with its dynamic range. Personally, I would sacrifice a bit of that to drop it down by 3 or 4 stops. That’s why I use the Cine profiles, which are also very flat but let me shoot as low as ISO 100. I can still have S-Gamut colour though.

The only way I can currently record 4K. Incredibly cumbersome but at least I can see some 4K!

The only way I can currently record 4K. Incredibly cumbersome but at least I can see some 4K!

The 4K output is gorgeous. I managed to record some by sending the HDMI 2.0 signal into my Blackmagic Ultrastudio 4K box, which then goes via thunderbolt into my MacBook Pro Retina. Using media express software, I can capture live into different formats. I captured some ProRes LT 4k in my back garden just as a quick and dirty test. The garden super messy, as I had just replaced the shed and all its contents were in view, as they weren’t taken away by the rubbish clearance men until about an hour ago! But still all stuff to shoot!

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So far I have only shot in the UHD mode. No HD, no slow motion. There is a lot to go through, and I need to make sur

You can download the 7gb clips from wetransfer here, or if you can’t cope with 4K ProRes LT you can pointlessly watch the compressed to hell streaming version. This is fine for normal watching but not for pixel peeping. Vimeo compressed the 7GB 4K file down to 78mb with a surprisingly low bitrate of around 3.6Mbps. Normally it’s a bit higher than that.

The GH4 has a killer feature that this lacks. Internal 4K recording. I love internal 4K recording. I put up with external recorders because I have to. I don’t mind them as much if they double as a great monitor like the Odyssey 7Q and forthcoming Atomos Shogun, but sometimes I don’t want to use a monitor. I want to stay small. I wish the A7s had the option to record a lower quality 4K version like the actually rather good Sony AX100, but it doesn’t. There is simply no way it can cope inside that body with the heat. As it is, when in 4K mode, it does get warm to the touch! That’s the problem with not redesigning the body to cope with it but just using the A7 shell.IMG_1633 copy

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Sony A7s 4K quick test for download purposes. Cine gamma 2/ S-Log 2 from Philip Bloom Reviews & Tutorials on Vimeo.

The very first test I did was of course low light. I did that almost a week ago. I filmed myself lighting up a cigar. I don’t actually smoke that much at all and never in my house but I wanted to see the room light up with the match and it did indeed. Below are frames from video in HD of 80,000 ISO!

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The video of this will feature in my actually video review.

Last night myself and James Miller went down to Brighton for a change to test out the low light again. We both couldn’t wait for the UK release of the camera and picked them up from DigitalRev. I made sure that they were world cameras. Apparently there are some which are region locked. The one is the US are definitely region locked, so only 24p, 30p. Not 25p. No use to me. Be careful when ordering if you need a world camera.

I brought the camera down, 5 batteries (it’s really quite hungry battery wise, especially compared to the GH4, but not Blackmagic hungry!), my Sigma ART 35mm and 50mm F1.4, 70-200mm Canon IS II and my Canon 24-70 L II. Tripod was the Really Right Stuf FH-350, which is really lovely. More on that in an updated post.

James through the stunning Small HD High Brite monitor. Yes, this is Brighton again for the Miller Tripods shoot last week!

James through the stunning Small HD High Brite monitor. Yes, this is Brighton again for the Miller Tripods shoot last week!

I don’t like the rear screen of the camera, the EVF is much better, though not really practical for tripod work as it’s fixed. I am using the Small HD DP7 PRO High Bright monitor these days, and it’s a stunner. I can see the screen perfectly in direct bright sunshine. No good for my low light test, as it would light the beach up! Instead I brought the DP4. It’s ageing now but still nice. A bit chunky as an EVF but works great. I love the ability to flip open and have a nice decent little monitor. Whereas my Zacuto EVF, which is great, is too small to use like that. Great through the Z-Finder though.

Something very special I took with me was my new special edition “Burl Wood” Kessler Crane Pocket Dolly. Super Pimpin’! Really quite nice! I got some lovely shots with it indeedy!! :)

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Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Some people ask why shoot such high ISOs. What is the point? Well there are many many creative reasons. Yes, I can’t see me wanting to shoot night for day very often (!) but what I would like to do is shoot in low light situations with a deep depth of field. Not always be at F1.4!

The danger of course with high ISOs shot to make things really bright is when you see any lights in frame. These will blow out a lot. That was why there was no point going to London to shoot high ISOs. I could have stopped down for that deep depth of field, but I wanted to see what I could actually see with this camera when pushed.

To get an idea of just how much the street lights looked when exposing for some of these shots look at this frame here. Hence I pointed away from the street most of the time, only when it wasn’t pitch black 1 hour past sunset could I get bits of the promenade in frame.

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It was incredibly dark out there so even though I could see everything way better than my eyesight could some of the shots with dark area in them were just too noisy not to fix. I used the ever marvellous Neat Video to get these results.

As mentioned at the top of this post, if you do use any of these grabs/ photos elsewhere please credit “Courtesy of PhilipBloom.Net”. Thanks!

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EDIT: Monday July 7th

Yep. Ridiculous but I had to try this out as the rolling shutter issues are redcuced in the A7s crop mode.

Speedbooster is of course designed to make smaller sensors look and perform like larger sensors. The E mount mount is for cameras like the FS100 / FS700 and of course any of the APS-c Mirrorless cameras. It’s a terrific bit of kit.

I show a comparison between detail and rolling shutter in full frame mode, crop mode and speedbooster in crop mode. It’s crazy that I am even doing this but I had to and the results are impressive. The size of the noise though is enlarged in crop mode.

This won’t work in 4K output mode as the sensor is sampled 1:1

Feel free to download plus and pro members but if you use any of it please credit “Courtesy of philipbloom.net”

Recorded on an Atomos Ninja Blade in 422. The download is also Prores 422

Shot with a Canon 35mm F2

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Yep. Scares me too.

Yep. Scares me too.

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James shooting with his A7s

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Honestly I don’t actually smoke much at all! Normally 1 little cigar a week if that!!

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Rough grade. Shot at 1030pm. 1 hour after sunset. Cannot remember ISO!

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The Sony mirrorless camera review…within a review…within a review…. from Philip Bloom Reviews & Tutorials on Vimeo.

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