Philip Bloom http://philipbloom.net Filmmaker, DP, Director Mon, 21 Jul 2014 23:24:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 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! :)

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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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The Magician’s Apprentice from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

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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 Zach. 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 Zach 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 Zach 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. You can see the whole BTS below temporarily as there currently is a glitch on the Sony page, and it’s not showing it as a whole. That’s why I have hosted it too for the time being.

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The 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

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.

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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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NOW WITH VIDEO REVIEW! The no longer evolving GH4 review! http://philipbloom.net/2014/06/30/gh4/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/06/30/gh4/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 06:34:41 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=31763
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UPDATE: 30th June 2014

Do make sure you read the rest of the post not just the video review that I have finally put up! Was it worth the wait? Only you can decide. I don’t cover everything. There is too much for a video review. As it is it’s almost 40 minutes long.

There is loads of info lower down in this post plus do check out Camera Labs excellent thorough written review and EOS HD’s E-book. 

Below my review is Dave Dugdale’s excellent (and longer!) video review. He covers loads of stuff, more than me! It’s always worth checking out other people’s opinions. Never trust just one. ESPECIALLY MINE!!

First up is the latest in my series of “4K postcards.” All the rest are shot on the 1DC. This is my first GH4 one and unlikely to be my last. Go to the Vimeo site plus and pro users as you can download a HEAVILY compressed 4K MP4 of it for personal use only please, no re-uploading either. Thanks!

Also any donations to the Vimeo tip jar on the review page is gratefully received. These take weeks of work and are self funded. I have only done one other review this year because of the amount of time it takes and fitting it in. If this was useful please show your thanks via the tip jar or via any of the affiliate links if you want to buy the camera. It won’t cost you a penny more but helps these reviews continue! THANKS!

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4K: Postcard from Phang Nga from Philip Bloom: Four Corners on Vimeo.

Filmed on the Panasonic GH4

Shot on my holiday at the same time as my DJI Phantom/ GoPro film “Koh Yao Noi” gopb.co/koh

Music by Tony Anderson “A long way out” from The Music Bed GoPb.co/musicbed

Graded with FilmConvert 10% off wide code bloom at gopb.co/filmconvert and James Miller’s Custom LUTs

Glass used:

LUMIX
7-14
12-35
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SIGMA (ART) with Metabones Cinema Camera Speedbooster for Nikon mount

18-35mm F1.8
35mm F1.4

 

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GH4

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This is an evolving review where I will be adding bits to it as I go along. It’s a bit messier this way as I have to edit stuff if my opinion changes. The other way is to wait a few weeks until I am all done and the video review goes live! I think it’s better this way! :)

You will see the edits as they will be dated within the body of the post in BOLD RED.

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ETHICS STATEMENT: This review has been made possible by the sponsorship of Holdan UK, Ltd. Distributors of many products and brands including Zeiss, Blackmagic, Teradek and Panasonic. They have been instrumental in making this happen when other avenues of getting hold of camera to review proved fruitless. They initially provided me with the brief loan of one of the only GH4s in Europe at that time whilst we were both at NAB in Las Vegas last month. They have provided the GH4 for this review and although they are financially subsidising part of the costs in making this, it still remains an entirely independent, unbiased review, the same as all my other camera reviews.  

This review is in no way affiliated to Panasonic and any views or opinions expressed within the review are mine entirely.

Never base a purchase, especially a substantial one like this, on one person’s opinions. Read many, watch many and try before you buy if you can. If you decide to purchase the camera and you are in the UK, please do so through a UK official dealer so you have a valid UK warranty. If you are not UK based, the camera is available through my B&H Photo Store and Amazon Store affiliate stores. Any purchases through these links cost you nothing more but do help to keep this site running, and I am very grateful for your support. Thank you!  Please read my ethics statement here for more on this and for other site sponsors and affiliates.

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The Gh4

The Gh4

Update 17th May 2014: By James Miller

IN CAMERA COLOUR CONTROLS:

Normally I would steer clear of in camera effects that burn in adjustments because in other cameras this was never a good idea and would result in image deterioration. But this does not seem to be the way with the GH4. Have a look at the short video below shot with screen overlays via the Atomos Ninja Blade for an idea of the results.

I wanted to see what in camera colour profiling would be like on the GH4. For this test I put the Luminance Level to 16-235 opposed to the higher 16-255. Mostly because I want a simple path of handing on files to production without wording about Luminance clipping.

Starting at Cinelike V I reduced the sharpness to -5 to take the edge away from the USM style in camera sharpening. I also but the Noise Reduction to -5 to remove the plastic mush that can occur in the images. I set the Saturation to -5 and +1 on Hue for personal preference.

Next I pushed up the Master Pedestal Level to +15 the factory is 0.
I then brought up the i.Resolution to ‘Standard’. This helps reduce the noise a tiny bit, trade off is slight.

Finally I set the i.Dynamic to ‘Standard’ too. This will really lift the image. On exterior daylight shooting I have set to high with great results.

If you treat the image to be colour graded you can reduce the blacks and mid tones done a little for taste. Its a much cleaner way then pulling up in post. May be handy for some situations, but its not a substitute for light and camera gain. Think of it more to enhance the image, bringing it closer to what your eye sees.

Once you grade your image any noise increase in the shadows will fall away giving slightly for dynamic range.

This is a graded version of a 4K 24p shot from my hotel room in Seoul. Download various versions of this in different settings to see how it handles. Click below to go the WeTransfer

This is a graded version of a 4K 24p shot from my hotel room in Seoul. Download various versions of this in different settings to see how it handles. Click below to go the WeTransfer

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11th MAY 2014: These are just my initial thoughts. I have not used most of the camera or shot with it in anywhere near enough different environments to form a solid opinion. All I can do for now is share with you what I have found and what I like and dislike so far!

A lot of people interested in this camera will be new to the GH series, so this post is not just a review but also an introduction to the system. 

Whilst Panasonic Pro Video division have barely done a thing since the release of the AF100, their consumer division have not sat still. With every generation of the GH series of cameras they have improved the camera. Each new release is a new generation, whereas other companies release new models with incremental improvements.

The GH1 was groundbreaking at the time of its release, a mirror-less, interchangeable-lens stills camera that shot full HD video and with full manual control. It had an EVF, a flip-out screen and working/ quite usable autofocus (If you are that way inclined!)

It had flaws for sure and was terrible in low light. It was pretty innovative and I actually got this camera before I got a Canon 5DmkII. Only by a few weeks, but it was still first (well technically the Nikon D90 was my first stills camera that shot HD video, but that camera wasn’t that great!).

 

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With my first Panasonic GH camera…yes I won’t go back to that look!!

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Shooting with the GH1 in Joshua Tree

Shooting the a pre-release GH2 at the Movember Gala 3 and a bit years ago

Shooting with a pre-release GH2 at the Movember Gala 3 and a bit years ago

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On set of GH3 launch film Genesis with director Bruce Logan on the left

The GH2 improved upon the GH1 in many areas. The thing that really made both the GH1 and GH2 better was the firmware hacks that gave us much better bitrates. The one for the GH2 especially turned that camera into an amazingly detailed imaging device. It didn’t improve the sensitivity, but it got past the AVCHD limitations and showed us what could be possible.

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I shot the launch film for the GH3 back in August 2012 for Panasonic, Bruce Logan directed. It was a very early model and barely worked when we used it, but I got to see what had been added. Mostly they gave it better bitrates, an All-I codec, a bit more control over the image and about a stop more useable sensitivity. Mostly though, it gave us an official version of the hacked GH2 but with added aliasing, which was disappointing. It was probably the least groundbreaking in some ways, because of that. I felt it was a disappointment….although if there hadn’t been the GH2 hack I am sure I would have felt differently.

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The GH4 though is really something quite different indeed. What it can do now compared with the GH3 is pretty substantial. Based purely on specs, this camera has the potential to become the number one low-budget filmmaker camera…but that’s on specs. The reality is often different, but let’s just see what those specs are:

    • 16.05 Megapixel Micro 4/3 Sensor
    • 4096 x 2160 up to 24fps (100Mbps)
    • 3840 x 2160 up to 30fps (100Mbps)
    • 1080p up to 60fps
    • Variable Slow Motion in-camera up to 96fps (not a sync-sound format)
    • 200 Mbps (ALL-Intra) or 100 Mbps (IPB) at 1080p
    • 4:2:2 10-bit or 8-bit External HDMI (4:2:0 8-bit internal)
    • Cinegamma Modes
    • Peaking and Zebras
    • Many more professional video features including curve adjustment, timecode and much more

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There is a add on unit that costs more than the camera, the “DMW-YAGH interface unit”. It’s a bit of an ugly bugger, truth be told, but it is unique and adds some impressive specs to the camera.

    • 2 Monaural XLR Inputs
    • Line/Mic Level Switch
    • Audio Level Display Monitor
    • 3G-SDI Capable BNC Connectors
    • Quad-Link SDI Output for 4:2:2/10-Bit 4K
    • HDMI Output
    • Timecode In
    • 12VDC 4-Pin XLR Power Inputgh4 1

Naturally, the headline feature of the GH4 is coincidentally tied in with the model number, 4K. Internal 4K too. There are not a lot of large-sensor cameras around that shoot 4K internally. If we go with this price bracket, the only one that comes close is the Blackmagic 4K. Next closest, which is a guess as no official price has been announced, is the camera that wowed many ay NAB, the Sony A7s. Tis is an impressively specced camera with gorgeous footage coming from it so far….BUT there is no internal recording of 4K – it just outputs it, so you need a 4K HDMI recorder. So there we go. This camera is pretty unique. The only other one (which has a 1inch sensor) is the Sony AX100 handy cam. The AX100 actually quite nice but has a small sensor and other issues. I have one at the moment, and ideally would like to review it…a mini review at least. After all, I don’t want to commit to all these reviews as I struggle with time. I didn’t do a video review of the Blackmagic 4K for a different reason: my initial thoughts post nailed it. There was nothing more to add. 

My initial thoughts on this camera were that it looked very similar to the GH3 in appearance. If felt solid without being heavy and thankfully not too plasticky.  Looking at the connections, I saw the mini HDMI has been replaced by micro HDMI. I don’t like either to be honest, it’s a shame for sure.

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It’s when you go into the menus that suddenly you see all the changes. There are so many options that you almost want to get the manual out and read about them…don’t be silly! Blokes don’t read manuals! :)

Just with record modes we have .mov, mp4 and AVCHD. It doesn’t make a huge amount of difference whether you choose .mov or mp4, as they are just containers. The contents remain the same. There are some caveats to that, which I will touch on later.


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To get full 4K 4096×2160 mode we have to be in “24.00hz Cinema) mode in the system frequency setting. If you select 59.94hz or 50.00hz then you won’t get the full 4K, you get “4K UHD” which is 3840×2160. There is nothing really wrong with that. UHD (Ultra high definition) is 16:9 ratio which of course is what we want for broadcast. I don’t know how many of you who shoot for broadcast HD shoot 2K…not many! All the “4K” TVs are UHD. So as I said, not a big deal.

When it comes to HD we have a plethora of options:

Full HD All-I with a MASSIVE 200MB/S bit rate recording as 50p/60p or 24/ 25p/ 30p

Full HD IPB mode at 100MB/S recording as 50p/ 60p or 24/ 25p/ 30p

Full HD IPB mope at 50mb/s recording at 50p/ 60p or 24/ 25p/ 30p

In fact, the massive 200mb/s bitrate for full hd makes the 4K bitrate of 100mb/s seem paltry.

It really is terrific to have PROPER video assist functions like focus peaking, zebras, waveforms. These are immeasurably helpful.

The ability to tweak the image is also very impressive. The profile that I and most people have been using is Cinelike-D. I have additionally turned down the contrast for an even flatter image and the sharpness to -5. This isn’t “off”. There is no off mode but, it’s as little in-camera sharpening as possible. The camera is very sharp in 4K mode especially, which tends to make things too “video.” Detailed is good. Sharp is not. 35mm film is detailed for example, but it’s not “sharp”. I haven’t messed around with noise reduction yet. You can also change the gamma curve. This is fantastic to have in a camera like this!

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Mounted in my car with the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8

Mounted in my car with the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8

I took the camera out with me the day I got it to do a little bit of filming. Using a couple of suction mounts and only touching and repositioning the camera when I was pulled over, I filmed various shots with angles, all in the UHD mode. I did shoot in Cinelike D mode, but I think I may have altered the gamma curve a little!

My truck is a diesel so it vibrates a lot. This wasn’t great for the camera, as it does suffer from rolling shutter, and the vibrations caused lots of issues. Most CMOS cameras would have had the same problem, to be fair.

I used the following lenses in this test.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Nikon mount with Metabones Speedbooster
Voigtlander 17.5mm and 25mm F0.95
Lumix 7-14mm F4
Lumix 12-35mm F2.8 OIS

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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 sure I am thorough for my video review as usual!

From what I have been told by my fiend and business partner, the HD mode, whilst not as detailed as the 4K mode, is still pretty damn good. Naturally, I will test this for the video review and for this post.

One thing I was very keen to test out was how well it did with the Speedbooster. Metabones have created an incredible product with this (You can read all about  it here.) For micro four thirds (MFT), they have a standard one for the GH cameras, an optimised one for the MFT Blackmagic Cinema Camera and one especially for the pocket camera. They do magic, as far as I am concerned! They give the camera a pseudo larger sensor by focusing all the light from a large lens onto a smaller sensor, and that means the image is brighter and you get a much wider field of view. The light gain on the Pocket Camera with the special speedbooster is about 1 and 2/3rds stops and gives it an amazing field of view improvement from around 3x crop to 1.75x crop. This is amazing.

The one thing they have not managed to do yet for MFT is make one for Canon EF glass. They have for the Sony e-mount, just not for MFT yet.

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The speedboosters I used for MFT cameras are all Nikon mount, not Canon EF. So what is the issue in making one to work with Canon glass?  All I can imagine is that the protocol for getting the MFT cameras to send power and also communicate with the adaptor must be causing them a problem. Perhaps because they are trying to make one for all the MFT cameras, and that is where the issue is? I don’t know. For now through, you have to live without it.

There are copies on Ebay which say Canon/ MFT speed boosters, but these are completely passive. No electronics, which means not much Canon-made glass will work other than the Cinema glass. Only lenses with a manual aperture will work, and there are not many of those! Samyang / Rokinon are the only Canon EF mount lenses I have that would work here. So don’t be fooled. Read the description. If it says no electronics, give it a miss!

There are a 3 options as far as I know that let you have iris control (well, two to be strict) with Canon lenses on MFT cameras. You sort of do with the one from Kipon, as it gives you a secondary iris. It sort of works, but it’s not quite the same. The depth of field isn’t right, there is darkening of the image vignette style at times. It’s better than nothing and won’t of course power IS and it won’t work on some Canon glass, like the 85mm F1.2 which need power to even do manual focus.

 

Image courtesy of EOSHD.COM

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Image courtesy of EOSHD.COM

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Redrock Micro Live lens

The adaptors which do work are the Redrock Micro live lens, quite old now. It works, but the lens mount is not very solid and it doesn’t support some of the lenses or IS. It costs around $600.

The very good but expensive and somewhat cumbersome MTF services one called the Effect. This is around £1100. So not cheap. Both of these use external boxes.

MTF services "Effect" Controller

MTF services “Effect” Controller

Speedbooster really helps for cameras that are sensitivity-challenged. Blackmagic cameras especially, but even the GH4 isn’t that great in low light. Compared to the Blackmagic 4K it’s way better, but I wouldn’t  go upto 1600 ISO unless I absolutely had to. But giving us a stop more light is a huge help. The other big plus are the few options for wide angle lenses. Being able to use the Tokina 11-16mm F2.8 (my favourite affordable wide angle lens for non full-frame cameras). Especially if you shoot in 4k or UHD mode, as it’s cropped.

To avoid moire and aliasing for the 4K mode, they have sampled the sensor 1×1. Now you may think “how can that be?” 4K for a 16:9 sensor is 8MP. This sensor is 16MP but it’s not 16:9, it’s 4:3. As you can see below from the graphic from EOSHD, the usual MFT crop of 2x would result in an image too big, so rather than find a way to reduce the image size they simply cropped it even more. 2.3x crop in full 4K mode. Even more so in UHD. That’s actually a similar crop to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

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Image Courtesy of EOSHD.COM

FRAME SIZES v2

To get to HD they have to reduce the number of lines, they can’t sample 1:1 for that. I don’t know what image issues come from this. James Miller tells me he can see edge softness and noise grain, I need to check this out myself.

As you can see, we lose some of the frame as we move to UHD and full 4K, which is slightly wider but still not as complete a field of view as the HD mode.  

So, going back to the Speedbooster, knowing the crop is around 2.3x using the BMCC 2.5K one, you not only get a hell of a lot more light coming in but the field of view is greatly increased, as you can see from my comparison below. The 3rd image from the Cinema Camera Speedbooster is much wider and much brighter. These were all taken at exactly the same camera settings.

Normally the MFT speedbooster would give us a stop more light and a field of view akin to Super 35mm, but as we are not using the whole sensor, so this is less. I haven’t measured the FOV or the F-stop increase but it’s not 1 stop of super 35mm. With the Blackmagic 2.5k cinema camera one, though, we are getting a field of view of around 1.3x crop of full frame. This is pretty much the same as the 1DC crop in 4K video mode. That’s pretty impressive.

 

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A word of warning though is that the Blackmagic one sits closer into the body than the standard one. This WILL interfere with the mechanical shutter…just. To avoid this, set the camera to electronic shutter only. This means the mechanical shutter won’t descend and you will be fine. That’s actually a cool point. With the electronic shutter you have a totally silent stills camera. Great for stealth shooting! I wish my Sony A7R had the same mode. It’s the noisiest shutter I have ever heard!

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The Speedboosters. As you can see the Blackmagic camera one different has a thingy sticking out! AVOID the pocket camera one. It’s worse and focuses the light onto too small an area.

SPEEDBOOSTERS V2Could you use the camera without the Speedbooster? Of course. I have lots of wonderful Micro Four Thirds lenses. Most of them are manual but I have some Lumix ones that will let you use autofocus and support optical image stabilisation. In the photo below, I have a mixture of MFT glass and Nikon mount glass. From left to right on each line we have the Voigtlander 17.5mm F0.95,  Voigtlander 58mm F1.4 Nikon mount, 100-300 Lumix with OIS, Voigtlander 25mm F0.95, the truly excellent as essential lumix lens 12-25mm F2.8 with OIS, another amazing lens is the SLR Magic 12mm F1.2, Lumix 7-14mm F4 and the bottom pic is my favourite zoom, the 18-35mm F1.4 from Sigma. Even though that lens is designed for crop sensors it doesn’t vignette on the BMCC 2.5k Speedbooster.

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Let’s take a look at the detail of the 4K image now. Below is a frame of me from the video earlier in this post. Each of the images below is downloadable and 3840×2160 in size. They are sampled from a UHD timeline in Premiere where I simply zoomed in for each one. The first one is 100%, the 200%, then 400%, then 800%. That’s a hell of a crop in, way smaller than 4K and HD but then left on the 4K timeline. It does show you how much detail the camera is capturing.

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100%

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200%

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400%

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800%


This sort of ability to crop in terrific. Especially if you master in HD. The flexibility it offers you is astounding. Just don’t use it to be lazy. To show you the power of cropping in 4K this linked post shows just what is achievable. It was shot in 4K on the 1DC but as you can see above the detail on the GH4 is pretty good. I will be testing this out in comparison with my other 4K cameras, 1DC, F55, Blackmagic, Sony AX100, FS700…maybe even my 4K smart phone! :)

One last thing for now, which is really impressive feature wise, is the ability to record a 10 bit signal out of the micro HDMI in 422, not just 8 bit which is the norm. This is a massive deal, and very few cameras let you do this, certainly no DSLRs not even the 1DC…in fact my C300 doesn’t either. The difference between 8 bit and 10 bit huge. Using external recorders when you have highly compressed in-camera modes like AVCHD at 24mb/s. Devices like the Atomos Ninja Blade are excellent for recording in ProRes or DNXHD, but if the camera can only output 8 bit, even though ProRes is 10 bit, you still record 8 bits of data. The image will band just as easily in ProRes HQ at 220mb/s as it will in 24mb/s. When you go to 10 bit, you get 4 times as many levels of colour for each RGB channel. To not have banding issues is huge, but it will require you to use an external recorder, using the camera only, not the YAGH interface. Apparently the camera also outputs 10 bit 422 in 4K mode. I have no way of testing this as my only 4K capable external recorder the 7Q does not accept it, and I have been told by Convergent Design that it will require the YAGH unit for 4K recording. That’s a real shame. Let’s see what the Atomos Shogun can do with it.

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A little caveat, when you set it to output 10 bit: you cannot record internally, it’s disabled. 8 bit no problem. Interestingly, to get both my Convergent Design 7Q and Atomos Ninja Blade to get the output I had to set the camera to AVCHD mode. I have no idea why. This isn’t ideal, as it will output the image in a 50i or 60i stream depending on your record frequency. It just adds another post step. It is worth it though to get that 10 bit. This does seem a bit odd, I will investigate!

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Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q

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Oh and despite a nice EVF I have stuck a Zacuto Z-Finder on the screen. I don’t like touch screens, to be honest, as I am WAY too greasy and you can control everything with the plethora of buttons on the camera. The EVF is fine, just nowhere near as good as my A7R which is exceptional. The rear LCD is now twice as dense pixel-wise as the GH3, which means when you put on a 2.5x z-finder it’s wondrous! The only annoying thing is it’s hard to put a sticky frame on it, even though they make them. It has a raised part on the left hand side of the frame which makes sticking it on problematic. James Miller (again) carved a bit out of his Pocket Camera Z-Finder frame so it’s flush. I would recommend the normal Z-Finder though (junior or pro) simply because the pocket camera one is too big for the screen and sits a bit out and makes it not possible to flip the screen around 180 degrees. Zacuto do make their gorilla frame that screws onto their base plate, but I don’t like that as it means two base plates (my tripod plate goes under that), and the ability to flip out the screen at all it gone when it’s mounted.

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Making sure the Z-Finder sticky frame adhesive takes to the rear screen of the GH4. A little pressure on it via some manfrotto clamps for a day. The frame comes off it you don’t want it on anymore with a little pressure.

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EDIT 14th May 2014: We all love slow motion, and whilst we won’t get any out of the 4K mode, in 1080p mode we can get up to 96fps over crank. Now, it’s not perfect. The image takes a hit in this mode as moire/ aliasing pop up. I have seen a little moire in normal speed HD but none in 4K, as it samples 1:1. Still, both the FS700, F5 and F55 suffer some moire and aliasing in their high speed modes.

It’s also definitely softer. You can sharpen it up post, to a degree. Despite that, it is lovely to have full HD 96fps in this camera. I am not sure why 96fps has been chosen, well obviously it’s because of this obsession with Panasonic that 24p is THE filmmaking frame rate. Well it’s not, especially with the internet and for most people using these types of cameras not for cinema but for cinematic look. Most of the world are actually 50hz, so giving us 100fps to would make a lot of sense.

I popped out just after initially publishing this review to grab a few 96fps shots down by the Riverside in Richmond as it was a lovely evening. Unfortunately nobody was down there! Weird. So as I was getting a few shots of the lovely sunset some geese and ducks came over to me demanding to be shot in slow motion on the new GH4, especially if I was using a speedbooster and that Sigma!

All handheld/ resting on my man bag. Glass: Lumix 12-35mm F2.8 with OIS and a Nikon mount Sigma 18-35mm  F1.8 with the Metabones Speedbooster for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

Make sure you check out James Miller’s “lens whacking” piece shot at 96fps after this!

Moire visible on the water in normal speed HD mode.

Moire just visible on the water in normal speed HD mode. Click on image for closer look.

Crop of normal speed HD image to show the moire on the water

Crop of normal speed HD image to show the moire on the water

Very bad moire on the water in 96fps full HD mode.

Very bad moire on the water in 96fps full HD mode.

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 That’s it for now. So far? Really impressed. This is a groundbreaking camera. 4K internally is a big deal, and the fact it looks this good is terrific. Yes the bit rate is a bit low at 100 mb/s but it means you can edit this a lot easier, and if you need higher than you need to get an external recorder. Of course almost everyone reading this doesn’t actual need 4K, but with the 4K being so clean and detailed, the creative uses on a 1080p timeline are huge..PLUS scaling down the 4K image to HD yields a superior 1080p image. It may be slightly cropped compared to normal HD mode but that’s why you get a speedbooster. The MFT mount is so flexible for lens adaptors, just like the Sony E-mount…that is apart from if you want to use Canon glass!

I am excited by this camera. It’s small, is packed with astonishing features, gives me a terrific image, and is bloody cheap. I need to do a lot more testing before giving my “Should I buy it” sort of opinion, not that I am ever black and white like that, but so far the biggest issues are the low light performance and the usual rolling shutter issues. Those issues aside, from my experience with it the past 5 days, I can see this camera potentially becoming THE next big thing for low budget filmmakers…maybe! It is also truly 4K for the masses, as the file sizes are not monstrous and can be edited a lot easier than any other 4K I have used. The HD is good, it just looks kinda average when compared next to the 4K of the camera. It’s not surprising, as once you shoot 4K everything else looks not as good!

There is still much to try out and learn with this camera, but that will be featured in my video review. I am going to be in Thailand next week, so it will be a great place to shoot some stuff and really see if the camera lives up to first impressions!

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SPEEDBOOSTERS V2

The GH4 on the excellent Movi M5. More on this in the video review

The GH4 on the excellent Movi M5. More on this in the video review


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Canon EF to BMPCC Active Metabones Speed Booster!! http://philipbloom.net/2014/06/21/canon-ef-to-bmpcc-active-metabones-speed-booster/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/06/21/canon-ef-to-bmpcc-active-metabones-speed-booster/#comments Sat, 21 Jun 2014 11:43:03 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=31984 PB_BH_Banner_03

Written by James Miller

Joining the two passive (Nikon G and Leica R) Speed Booster adapters for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is the long awaited Canon EF to BMPCC Active Speed Booster. Priced at USD659 it should be available by the end of June from Metabones. http://www.metabones.com/products/?c=bmcc

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This really is great news for the $995 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.
http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/blackmagicpocketcinemacamera Being able to use Canon optically stabilised lenses is a delight and I might actually use this camera now.

I know the first thing you may want to try if you have a Panasonic GH4 to hand is putting the EF-BMPCC Speed Booster onto it, don’t. The EF-BMPCC Active Speed Booster should only use with BMPCC. This model is customised to use with BMPCC camera, so it may cause damage of the adapter or the other cameras. It’s not designed to cover the full MFT image circle, but only covers the smaller S16 of the BMPCC.

To prevent anyone from using the BMPCC Speed Booster on the GH4. The GH4 will display “Lens attachment failed. Please make sure the lens is attached correctly”. There is also an etched a warning “For use only with BMPCC” on the BMPCC Speed Booster housing.

Fear not, I’m sure Metabones are actively working on a GH4 version of the EF – Active Speed Booster.

Here is a few test clips using the Canon EF 70-200L II F2.8 IS on the Canon EF – BMPCC Active Speed Booster. Shot in Brighton for a change!

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Metabones Canon EF to BMPCC Active Speed Booster from James Miller on Vimeo.

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The new 0.58x EF-BMPCC Active Speed Booster reduces the crop factor of the BMPCC from 2.88x to 1.75x, and produces the largest aperture optics currently available, with a maximum output aperture of f/0.74.  For example, a 50mm f/1.2 now becomes a 29mm f/0.74 (i.e, by using 50mm lens, the actual focal length in BMPCC is 29mm x 3.02 = 87.58mm), and the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 becomes the world’s fastest zoom lens at 10.5-20.3mm f/1.0 with stunningly sharp performance. (i.e, by using 18-35mm lens, the actual focal length in BMPCC is from (10.5mm x 3.02 = 31.71mm) to (20.3mm x 3.02 = 61.31mm).

Aperture effects on your EF Canon lenses by using the EF-BMPCC Active Speed Booster.

a) EF 85/1.2L attached, camera display = f/1.2, physical aperture  (lens + Speed Booster combined) = f/0.74.b) Sigma 18-35/1.8 attached, camera display = f/1.0, physical aperture (lens + Speed Booster combined) = f/1.0.

Whats very handy is the tripod foot is detachable and compatible with Arca Swiss plates. It pops straight on the Kessler Kwik Release System. Great for light weight shooting.

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Using with EF-S lenses. The EF-S mount has the same 44mm flange distance as the EF-mount, but the rear of the lens is allowed to protrude a few mm further into the mount aperture and possibly hitting the optics of the Speed Booster. You may be able to mount some EF-S lenses by removing the protective ring protruding from the rear of the EF-S lens.

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A few words, well pics from me (Philip) This is excellent to have and I can’t wait until they bring out one for the GH4. I have used this on the GH4 (pre-production) and it kinda works, naturally not sharp edge to edge. Best one I have used for the 4K mode on that camera is the Cinema Camera Speedbooster. The one to use for caution and to use the mechanical shutter is the standard speed booster This is the one they will bring out in EF mount, soon i hope, for the GH4. 

This is a simple field of view and exposure comparison between a simple flange adaptor, normal MFT Speedbooster (Nikon mount), Cinema Camera Speedbooster (Nikon Mount) and Pocket Camera EF speed booster. Lens in Voigtlander 58mm at F4. ISO 400. Raw graded simply in Lightroom. As you can see the brightness and field of view difference clearly. The pocket camera speed booster, whilst expensive, is essential for users of this camera. A big reason is using IS lenses is now possible with the speed booster. The Nikon one is passive. With a camera like this with rolling shutter issues handheld on anything other than Lumix lens with OIS is a bit crap. Now it’s more than possible. Plus we have a much larger field of view and a nice big gain in field of view. A simply essential purchase!

Flange adaptor

Flange adaptor

MFT Speedbooster

MFT Speedbooster

Cinema Camera Speedbooster

Cinema Camera Speedbooster

Pocket Camera Speedbooster

Pocket Camera Speedbooster

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Shooting a film with the Phantom 2 and GoPro in Thailand. From Pre to shoot all the way through to post and uploading! http://philipbloom.net/2014/06/06/kohyaonoi/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/06/06/kohyaonoi/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 13:45:37 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=31908 PB_BH_Banner_04

 PLEASE READ MY ETHICS STATEMENT HERE

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Koh Yao Noi from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

So here we are…a delayed part 3 of my Phantom blog post series. Although this is listed as 3 of 3, I doubt it will be the last time I write about it.

Initially this was to be just a video review, and it is all shot, but then it felt out of date to me, and as it was all shot on location in the USA, it was hard to make it work without being messy. I may come back to it at some point…

So part 3 has become a long-ish term look/ look back to see if much has changed from my first post and also a look at my first proper aerial film since the two I did in Arizona/ Nevada and the first with a goal/ idea in mind rather than just the usual! After all I am incredibly new to this. I flew (and crashed) my first Phantom in February and didn’t film anything really until April.

Filming with the GH4 and Phantom 2 in Thailand

I did a little talking thingy for Canon about the 1DC and C300 at a big expo in Seoul, Korea a fortnight ago.. It’s a long way to go for a day’s work, so I before I left I decided to make the most of being in South East Asia and take a “break” after the job. I have always wanted to go to Thailand, and despite still being 5 and a half hours away, it felt like the perfect opportunity to finally go.

Me being me, the main reason to go was not to sit on a beach soaking up the rays. I wanted to shoot! I love to film, whenever I can. It’s my passion as well as my job. It relaxes me, it makes me happy, it’s my protective blanket, my escape. It’s many things to me. When I haven’t filmed anything for a couple of days I get itchy and there only one way to scratch that itch! :)

Normally I bring my Canon 1DC to places like that, but I had recently picked up the GH4, and this was a perfect opportunity to shoot with the new little beast, see what it was capable of and give me lots of lovely footage for my upcoming video review (I will finish this one!) PLUS of course there was the Phantom. How could I not bring the Phantom?

My shooting gear for Thailand!

My shooting gear for Thailand!

So alongside all my normal camera gear, I brought two Phantom 2 quadcopters with GoPro Hero 3+. No Vision 2+, just the normal Phantom 2.

I love a lot about the Vision 2+. It’s a brilliant quad to learn with, it’s what I used…but the camera is just a let down. I wish it had a camera to match the lovely, simple and solid FPV set up through the phone, but it doesn’t. We will have to wait until the next generation. In the meantime the GoPro 3 especially the Hero 3+ is a cracker of a little camera though. Especially in the 2.7k mode which shoots 24p or 25p which is only available on the 3+.

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Whilst we are talking about the 2.7K mode, deciding which one to shoot in is up to you. Many like shooting 50p or 60p as it makes smoother footage I am told. Many of the modes are simply crops of the other ones, so you aren’t gaining much. When I shot the film in Thailand, I was mostly set to wide on the 2.7K, but I also had it at medium occasionally. You can also buy replacement lenses which aren’t quite as wide. I do have one but have never fitted it!

Other settings…for me I always shoot “Protune” flat, which is the professional recording mode for colour grading. It definitely gives you the best dynamic range, but the grading can be tricky as the btirate isn’t high and a flat image always needs work. I cover this more in the post section further down.

Personally I always set the camera to ISO 400 max, as the camera sucks when it goes higher. I turn off auto white balance and set it to what is appropriate where I am filming. Other stuff like exposure compensation is up to you and your shot. You can’t have the wifi on when flying the Phantom, as it can interfere with the radio, so you cannot change settings whilst in the air. A shame, but you can’t have it all!

Of the Phantom’s I brought, one was new and has a 2 axis zenmuse gimbal on it with the FPV (first person view video downlink so you can see what the go pro is seeing) system comprising of a Boscam TX and a Black Pearl Monitor RX. It also has an iosd device for the telemetry which is essential!

As FPV systems go, this one is not bad. I have yet to find anything that matches the loveliness of the vision 2+ system. Lightbridge from DJI could be the solution, but that is expensive and I have yet to see one.

The other one is my original one which did have an FPV on it, but it wasn’t working so I took it off. You can use them without, just don’t go crazy and keep it pretty close AND keep an eye on that battery level on the Phantom…that is SO important!

Apart from knowing where you are, the biggest plus of an FPV system is that pretty essential ability to compose your shots properly, not just have those big wides!

Both Phantoms had the old 2 axis gimbal on them, but I brought the new Zen Muse H3-3D with me to swap it over. In fact a couple of days in, I did put the 3 axis on the Phantom that didn’t have the FPV set up. I chose that one, as the one with the FPV is such a professional build and neatly done. I didn’t want to mess it up. It’s not a big deal swapping gimbals but still, I just wanted to be super cautious.

The only problem with the Phantom I swapped gimbals on was that it was an older one and there isn’t a big enough hole for the 3rd axis. Newer Phantom 2 models have a larger hole to accommodate it. You can buy adaptor plates which also come with longer legs (which will make it a tight fit in some cases) but I didn’t have the adaptor. What I did have was a Leatherman! So I performed open heart surgery on it and made the hole bigger! Worked fine! Just be very careful as the USB port leads are exposed beneath where you need to cut!

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I carried the Phantoms, well I transported them to be more accurate, in two backpacks I picked up on from a UK company called “First Person View”….I then packed these two into a suitcase. I used to use a big Pelican style case, but that’s massive and can only take one. These backpacks are nice and compact and as you can see from the picture below, you can squeeze a lot in. Yes, that’s a lot of batteries, but if you want to film/ fly for most of the day and with each one lasting around 20 minutes, you need them!

You have to take the props off the Phantoms really when carrying them, but that’s not a big deal for such a neat solution.

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I chose to stay on a very under developed island, one of the handful that are left in Thailand. I wanted to shoot real Thailand and that can be hard to find. Koh Yao Noi was the perfect place. Close to many other places to shoot (which I did with the GH4) but the island itself had lots of little places to discover, with about only 18km of roads (but lots of off road places) and only a handful of hotels.This was a place with a lot more locals than tourists. Much nicer for me filming wise!

My loaded down ATV that I used to zip around the island

I actually didn’t plan to shoot a whole piece with the Phantom. Instead I wanted to use it like I use any other filming tool, be it a slider, Movi, jib etc. The Phantom was to be used for key shots, well that was the plan anyway!

The reason I say this is because on the 4th day I visited, for the second time, a little village out on the water. I had been there a couple of days early, but I only shot with the GH4. I thought at the time that later in the day the pier would look amazing when I filmed it on the phantom. Below is the pier in all it’s subtle HDR iPhone glory!

When I took my Phantom there on my second visit, it all just came together. Half an hour earlier a local on a moped saw me flying and came over to ask what it was. We talked for a bit, I filmed him driving down the road, he loved it. When I got to the village he was there too, it was where he lived. The locals were already really friendly, but this helped even more.

The first shot I did was a long sweep through the village skirting over where the water would be if the tide was in. I showed what I was doing to the locals and they were fascinated, even more so when I took the Phantom up high to do a top down shot!

At this point the children of the village had swarmed around me. They were incredibly excited at this flying thing and I couldn’t go anywhere without them being stuck to me!  I really wanted to capture them running up and down the pier in their excitement so I put on the prop guards onto the Phantom with the FPV to be extra cautious. Whilst I feel I am doing OK as a pilot, I am nowhere near perfect. Even then things can go wrong and whilst the blades are plastic they can still hurt, with the prop guards on you are much safer. The downside is they get into the shot…a lot!! At least I had my 3 axis Phantom without FPV ready to do shots which I needed to be wider!

When I got all these lovely shots of the children, I knew I had a standalone film. I had shot a lot that day, but this was the stuff that took it from a montage to a film with a journey and I feel a heart!

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For me, films with a human element are by far my favourite type to make. That’s why I love making my mini docs. It was great to be able to film something entirely with the Phantom 2 and have a human element!

When you watch the film, near the bottom of this post you will see a variety of shots. Lots over water, which in itself is a testament to my increase in confidence flying it…but that’s not all, confidence-wise. There are a number of shots which go through things, skim under stuff, between trees. Lots of them! I loved the challenge of getting these, and with care, precise control and especially line of visual sight, I pulled them all off without crashing once! The line of sight really is key. It’s all very good looking at your monitor but aiming your phantom with the object you want it to go through like a target with your eye will give you a much better chance of pulling the shots off! I did a number of these backwards to. It’s essentially the same thing, and there is something really cool about revealing the obstacle rather than seeing it come towards you. A mixture of both works well really.

There are a couple of shots going down the road in the main village on the island. Don’t worry, I didn’t fly it down there. I simply turned the Phantom on BUT didn’t start the motor. I just held it and used it a bit like a Movi as I drove my ATV. It worked pretty well!

I did have some problems with the footage though. Not all of it, just occasionally. Jello. The dreaded rolling shutter jello. I hadn’t experienced this on the Phantom 2 before, so I was surprised. I hadn’t gone through much of my footage each day, as I didn’t really have time. I should have, as I would then have seen the problem. It was after the village and the children that I saw it, and going back through my previous footage, I saw it pop up in various shots too.

There are a number of reasons why. Motors set too strong in the software, blades slightly damaged, wrong rubber dampers. Lots of things to try and go through to eliminate it. Unfortunately, as I said it was only after the fact that I saw it. Not just on the 3 axis Phantom 2 but on the 2 axis one. The 2 axis one was new, and this was the first time I had flown it. Foolish not to check it first of course.

So with this problem, there was only one thing I could do. I couldn’t re-shoot, it was FIX IT IN POST time! :)

Before I go onto the post section of this er…post, I wanted to just say a little bit more about the whole experience of shooting/ flying. It really is incredibly fun and quite addictive, although kind of hard to use where I live in London!

It’s obvious, but if you put the hours in, the results are worth it. Anyone can grab a Phantom 2 and zip it up in the air, make it zoom along really fast and then bring it back down. The skill is control and getting the composition of your shots right. After all, how many of you when you get a camera, stick a wide angle on it, hit record and then run around for 20 minutes without looking at what you are shooting? EXACTLY!!

Learning fine control is key. Take it out into the middle of nowhere. Learn how to land exactly where you want to. Learn how to make it circle an object. Create subtle jib like shots. Not everything has to be a big sweeping motion, although they are very cool! What makes the Phantom 2 and other multi rotor systems amazing is the freedom they give you. You just need to be aware that there is a learning curve, and you must be aware of the safety aspects, and of course the legal aspects. There is a whole blog post about it here, but remember the legal stuff is different in every country. Some countries like Spain, Austria and South Africa for example, have banned the use of “drones” as they call them, both commercially and for fun.

I am flying just for fun and to create stuff like this for myself. I may well get certified at some point, but I really have no urge to fly anything bigger. I am just having fun, and with the GoPro 4 expected out soon and with 4K, I am pretty happy sticking with the little Phantom 2 (and future ones!). It’s possible this may change, but the thought of even putting my GH4 on a multi rotor scares the crap out of me. These things do crash, no matter how good you are and losing a GoPro sucks. Losing a GH4 and a nice lens would suck a lot more. In fact I know someone who crashed an Octocopter with an Epic on it into a salt lake. That would suck big time!

 

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POST

I hate editing, and I love editing. I love seeing it come together. I hate how much time it can suck out of your life. When you have to fix something in post that requires a lot of work, it’s a massive pain in the arse. I would rather be out filming that inside!

On that note, I would rather be sitting on my sofa vegged out watching a film right now, as I have been editing all day. Hence this bit won’t be long. Just a few bits to help you along and to show what I did.

To fix the jello, I used Warp Stabilize in Adobe Premiere CC. It really was a case of trial and error to find the best settings. You can’t make it perfect, but you can do your best! I hate that warping effect that is so easy to get. For the most part, I used the “position” method. Below is an example of one of the settings.


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I did transcode everything to ProRes LT out of the MP4, even though I am editing on a Mac Pro. It does make things easier, and Premiere still isn’t fully optimised for the MacPro.

The aspect ratio of the film is 2.35: 1, as is frequently used by me. I just like the look of it. There are a number of ways to edit this way. I normally just place a mask on the top video layer and shift the video within it up and down to adjust my headroom/ composition.

To remove the fish-eye/ wide angle of the GoPro, there are a few ways to do it. I have tried the GoPro software and Magic Bullet looks gives you a quick and simple fix. The one I use gives me the best results and that is “Optics Compensation” within After Effects, and it’s super easy to do.

Just right click the clip you want to fix in Premiere and select “replace with After Effects composition” you then drop the effect onto the clip, select “Reverse Lens Distortion” and adjust the “Field Of View” to a setting that works best for you. Depending on the severity of the barrel distortion, on average I set it to around 70.

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For the colour I used my usual two culprits. Magic Bullet Colorista II for colour correction and then FilmConvert for the grade.

Colorista II evens out my exposure and white balance between shots plus brings my highlights back or lifts my shadows. It’s very powerful, but I am using it just to make all the shots match. You can get it and other Red Giant products listed above for 10% off with the code bloom10. Click the banner above or here to zip over there. I love this plugin, and It’s been my main colour tool for many years now. I am not a pro colourist. I don’t really know how to use Davinci Resolve, nor is it really needed here. For me, working within my NLE makes a lot of sense for the way I work!

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I truly love FilmConvert. If you follow my work you, will have noticed. It’s a gorgeous plug in (or standalone app) that really can make your footage look way more organic. We aren’t talking Instagram here. We are talking proper film stock emulation from 8mm to full frame 35mm. The stocks are very accurate, but what really makes this stand out, apart from the ease of use, is all the presets to make your life easier. Grading Blackmagic shot in film mode is a breeze with the presets, and they have just released loads more covering the GH4, Digital Bolex, F55 and more. There is a preset for the GoPro of course, and this is a very handy thing indeed!

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I always tweak my settings though, never sticking to the preset. It’s there as a starting block. Use it that way. Experiment, and you can easily get some fantastic results. 

For this edit, I did spend a long time grading it. As I mentioned earlier, the Protune setting, whilst flat, is delicate. With the skies being quite cloudy when I shot this film and sun peeping through, the dynamic range was challenging. I was able to pull a lot back but, the footage can so easily fall apart. Gentle massaging was needed.

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One thing that did help if stuff started to band too much was the grain setting in film convert. It effectively dithers the areas to hide it. Try to keep the grain percentage low though, as little goes a long way. Also, when it comes to exporting, it makes it much harder to compress. I always upload to Vimeo in ProRes Proxy now, to hold onto that grain. Even though Vimeo transcodes at 5 Mbps, if I upload in 30 Mbps or higher like ProRes Proxy’s 50 Mbps, the grain is held remarkably well online!

If you want to get FilmConvert, below is a discount code for you giving you 10% off!

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I wanted to talk about one last thing before I went, and that is music. Music is SO important to me and to my films. It took me almost a day to find the perfect track for this film. I must have listened to almost the whole Music Bed library (the site I use most of the time). I knew what I wanted, I just didn’t know what it was! :)

The track needed to have a journey like the film, something that would match. I needed it to be around 5 minutes long, and for the change in tempo/ feel to occur roughly halfway through. When I found Gatlin Elms’ “For We Never Knew Your Beauty” I knew this was it. It’s a light bulb moment. You can spend hours even days at an edit and it simply doesn’t work. When the right track comes along it all clicks into place.

What I especially loved about this track was the interesting sounds within it that I could make use of. If you watch carefully, see how they fit the pictures. For example, when I skirt too close to comfort over a fishing boat’s rope, I timed it with the track as it sounded like a string instrument like a violin being scraped, or when i go under the wooden structure as each strut is revealed I time the edit to hit the reveal on each strong note within a particular part of the track.

It’s this sort of stuff that is worth making the effort over. Sound is so important. I would normally use natural sounds in things like this (not that were recorded at the time obviously as the Phantom is damn noisy) and although I did use a little at the beginning and end I made the music my sound.

The temptation to just use any track under the images can be tempting, but finding the right one and making it fit really can make a difference!

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Anyway, that’s enough waffling from me. I need to go chill now. It’s much later than I had hoped to finished this. The post just became a bit of a monster. Hopefully there is stuff in here that can be of help. If you have any questions then you can ask them in the comments below!

Thanks and enjoy my film. I am really proud of it.

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Koh Yao Noi from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

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London, Manchester, Birmingham…free gear expo and talks with me and others! http://philipbloom.net/2014/06/05/london-manchester-birmingham-free-gear-expo-and-talks-with-me-and-others/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/06/05/london-manchester-birmingham-free-gear-expo-and-talks-with-me-and-others/#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 16:51:24 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=31904  

 

Following on from October’s tour of Belfast, Leeds and London the TV-BAY free tour is BACK! This time London, Manchester and Birmingham from this Monday!
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I will be giving a new and improved version of my “To 4K or to not 4K” in the morning as well as two small workshops in the afternoon! All FREE! You just need to register.

The official description of my talk:

With the affordable Panasonic GH4 and to an extent the Sony AX100 4k for the masses is becoming a reality whether we need it or not! Philip will share his three years of experience of shotting 4k from the RED Epic through to the GH4. Can your work actually benefit from these cameras or is it being forced upon us before HD’s true potential has been realised?

For the costs involved to the creative possibilites this seminar will be essential for anyone whether they are about to jump onto it or are just curious about the next evolution in video cameras.

I hope to see as many of you there as possible! It was a lot of fun last year and you can’t knock a free show and free talks! :)

 

FROM TV-BAY:

Speaking at all venues will be Philip BloomLarry Jordan and, just signed to Hollywood, VFX specialist HaZ Dulull. At Manchester and Birmingham will be the storm chasing extreme cameraman Alister Chapman fresh from his storm chasing trip this week in the USA.

 

In London we welcome Bela MolnarMatt Cook and Stuart Ashton who will be discussing hot topics surrounding video and the music industry.. More on the SEMINARS HERE!

 

FIRST UK SHOWING FROM NAB

 

  • Blackmagic URSA and complete cinema camera range
  • Preview the Atomos Shogun
  • See the brand new JVC GY-HM850
  • Hitachi’s Z-HD6000 – never seen in the UK before
  • First time in Europe – the Libec Allex

 

Plus many more from world leading manufacturers and a chance to ask the experts anything you may have wanted to ask before!

 

For in depth information check out the TOUR GUIDE.

WHO’S EXHIBITING ON THE TV-BAY TOUR IN JUNE?

Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design

 

Blackmagic has grown rapidly to become one of the world’s leading innovators and manufacturers of creative video technology. And that’s because our philosophy is refreshing and simple – to help true creativity blossom. Blackmagic Design’s founders have had a long history in post-production editing and engineering. With extensive experiences in high-end telecine, film and post, harnessed with a real passion for perfection, Blackmagic set out to change the industry forever.
On Tour you will see…
  • Ursa (First UK Showing!!!)
  • Studio Camera HD
  • 4K Production Camera
  • Pocket Cinema Camera
  • Atem Production Studio 4K

 

Panasonic

Panasonic

 

The Panasonic broadcast and professional AV range offers some of the industrys best-performing products. Their AVC-Intra codec complies with the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 international standard, based on advanced motion-image compression technology. This offers broadcast professionals both superb image quality and high compression using an intra-frame compression system.

On Tour you can expect to see these from Panasonic…

  • GH4
  • PX-270
  • AC90
  • HE60

 

Sony Broadcast

Sony Broadcast

 

Represented by H Preston there will be lots to see as you would expect from Sony. Among the kit on show you will get a chance to take a close look at these…

  • NEX-EA50EH
  • NEX-FS700RH
  • HXR-NX3E
  • PMW-300K1
  • PMW-200
  • Alpha 7R
  • DSC-RX10
  • Sony Radio mics

Plus lots more…

 

Atomos

Atomos

 

Atomos will showcase world leading production tools….
  • The new Ninja Star – now shipping
  • Ninja Blade, Samurai Blade, Ninja-2 and Ronin (all currently shipping products)
  • Preview of Shogun – coming September 2014

 

JVC

JVC

 

This tour provides an ideal opportunity for JVC to take its new GY-HM850 ENG camcorder and GY-HM890 studio camera – each with built-in WiFi and FTP capabilities – out on the road.
Alongside these new models, JVC will be showcasing its full range of professional camcorders, including the powerful GY-HM650 camcorder, also featuring live HD streaming, and the GY-HM70, a cost-effective camcorder for event videographers. There will also be a selection of  professional production monitors on show.

 

Gearhouse

Gearhouse

 

Gearhouse Broadcast UK are renowned as a market leader in television broadcast services and specialise in the provision of Broadcast Equipment Rental, Broadcast Equipment Sales, Project Solutions and Systems Integration. The Company offers a vast degree of broadcast experience and a proven track record in the delivery of broadcast solutions at major world sports events.

Kit on show at The Tour in June will include

  • Hitachi Z-HD6000 Camera Channel – this will be the first time that this camera is being show in the UK
  • Lawo V_Pro8
  • Ross Crossover Vision Mixer
  • Sony PMW-500 XDcam Camcorder
  • Fujinon HA23x 7.6BERD-S6 Lens
  • Fujinon HA14x 4.5BERD-S6 Lens

 

A.C. Entertainment Technologies

A.C. Entertainment Technologies

 

A.C. Entertainment Technologies Ltd. (AC-ET) are one of the UK’s largest suppliers of lighting fixtures, accessories and consumables to the world of image capture.

Their portfolio of leading brands includes:

Chroma Q – Single and remote phosphor LED based softlights with a comprehensive range of accessories, designed for studio and location use.
Mole-Richardson - LED based hard sources from one of Hollywood’s oldest and most established manufacturers of studio lighting.
Prolights – LED Fresnels, Profiles and effects lights.

Additionally, AC-ET can provide a full range of services to facilitate studio design, specification and installation.

Their two UK offices include onsite cable & gel manufacturing facilities, and a large stock inventory.

 

Portaprompt

Portaprompt

 

Portaprompt founded in 1976 developed the world’s first digital teleprompter which won a technical Emmy. They have a very busy hire service working on many UK household name TV Shows and Events. Their global sales operation also provides prompting solutions from Tablet Prompting to fully integrated Broadcast Newsroom Operations. Their products include have been designed with input from operators, customers and presenters which has resulted in high quality equipment and software which is straightforward to use.

Portaprompt will be showing a selection of products from is range of innovative TV and Conferencing Prompting solutions including its 350 Series affordable tablet and phone based system and from its high end, high brightness range a 15” Quasar system

 

STREAMSTAR

STREAMSTAR

STREAMSTAR is a company offering technology solutions and products for the streaming industry. Dedicated to innovation STREAMSTAR delivers professional tools for the new generation of media producers. More details to come soon.

Zeiss

Zeiss

 

Cinematography lenses from Carl Zeiss have helped to create distinctive images in many famous movies, e.g. Lord of the Rings, and have already received three Technical Academy Awards. Camera lenses from Carl Zeiss are also used by millions of photographers all over the world: in SLR or rangefinder cameras, in Sony compact cameras or in Nokia smartphones.

On show will be a selection of CP.2′s, 28-80 & 70-200 Cinema Zooms and a variety of SLR lenses for you to take a look at.

 

Audio Developments Ltd

Audio Developments Ltd

 

Audio Developments; is home to the world famous PORTABLE MIXER range of equipment. Various models in the range of mixers and ancillary devises will be on display, offering various sound solutions to the TV, drama and film location audio professional.
The AD071 Camera Mixer is packed with features and has various applications such as DSLR sound. It has an extremely small size (13.5×9.5×4.5cm) and weighs in at only 420gm.
The AD256 Mixer, with its comprehensive features, will be on display along with a DEBUT unit incorporating a DIGITAL RECORDER.

 

The Guild of Television Cameramen - GTC

The Guild of Television Cameramen – GTC

 

The Guild of Television Cameramen is an independent, international organisation that cares about TV camerawork. Our members are professional cameramen and camerawomen who operate in all areas of broadcasting.

Come and see them on the Tour where they will be able to answer quesitons and advise further about the GTC

 

Libec

Libec

Libec is a global brand from Japan that offers effective camera support equipment that quickly responds to technologicaladvances and the changing image industry. Our main lineup of the Libec series has been tripods and heads forprofessional video cameras. Currently, it’s main lineup also includes pedestals, jib-arms, electronically-controlled remoteheads and remote controls. Libec’s products are sold in over 60 countries, and has achieved a high reputation worldwide.

 

Soho Editors, Digital Garage and HP

Soho Editors, Digital Garage and HP

 

Soho Editors, Digital Garage and HP will be at the Manchester venue only for the June 14 Tour.

The Soho Editors training centres in both London and Manchester enjoy authorised status conferred by Apple, Adobe, AVID etc. This not only makes Soho Editors the leading authorised pro apps trainer in Europe, but also the smartest, most cost-effective and most convenient choice for all your training requirements too. Be that editing, special effects creation, colour correction 3D, design, DTP, animation, web production, app design, audio and more, if you need to learn it, we can teach it. Put simply, we are the specialists in putting you at the top of your creative game. In fact, we actually guarantee it.

 

Teradek

Teradek

 

Teradek manufacturers groundbreaking wireless video devices for remote video capture, live ENG backhaul, real-time monitoring, proxy recording and webcasting. For complex wireless workflows, Teradek’s cloud-based workflow management platform provides a powerful option for remotely managing a fleet of Teradek encoders in real-time from anywhere in the world.

On Tour you’ll get to see the Bolt Pro and also the Vidiu.

 

 

Bectu

Bectu

Visit us at the BECTU stand at the tv-bay Tour for a friendly chat and find out more about the different ways BECTU can help your career.

 

Cirrolite

Cirrolite

 

Cirro Lite provide a comprehensive service for those looking for lighting for film, television, video production and still photography where special lighting effects or a controllable precision light source is required.
In addition to lighting products for film, television, video lighting equipment, Cirro Lite also offer a lighting design service including web studio design and audio visual lighting design as well as lighting equipment for hire, supporting production companies from a large rental stock for the UK market.

*Cirrolite will only be in Birmingham for this Tour.

 

Ianiro

Ianiro

 

In addition to distributing the Ianiro brand of lighting products, Ianiro International is the sole UK distributor for Visio Lighting, Libec tripod and camera support equipment, Kupo Grip, which includes lighting stands, booms, clamps and accessories. They also carry the full range of CROXS waterproof equipment cases. Recent additions to our range of distributed product include LCD Monitors and Batteries.
At the Tour, for the first time in Europe, we will be featuring the Libec ALLEX combined tripod and slider system.

 

Global Distribution

Global Distribution

 

Global Distribution is a value-added, specialist distributor with a wealth of knowledge and experience in providing storage and infrastructure solutions for data-intensive computing environments within the audio/video, broadcast, CCTV, high-performance (HPC) markets as well as the wider IT industry and ever-growing Apple creative space.

Dedicated to delivering the best new storage products and solutions to these markets, along with proactive support and development that is second to none, Global work very closely with all of their vendors, partners and resellers to meet the growing storage demands of users and businesses within these markets.

 

H Preston

H Preston

 

Serving the global professional and broadcast video market. H Preston offer competitive prices on a wide range of video and audio products and supply major broadcast and cable companies throughout the world.

H Preston will represent Sony with a vast array of new cameras and products for visitors to get their hands on with expert advice freely flowing.

 

Holdan

Holdan

Holdan is a distributor of cutting-edge technology and complete workflow solutions for the pro video, broadcast and AV market. Production switchers, vision mixers, tapeless workflows, video editing software and HP workstations are all available.

Europasat

Europasat

 

Europasat are pleased to be exhibiting again at the tv-bay Tour. Whilst we pride ourselves in being the UK’s largest supplier of the EutelSat NewsSpotter Broadcast Services, we have been improving our infrastructure for both the delivery and handoff of traffic via London Telehouse North and London BT Tower with our partners Auriga. The benefit is we can deliver off internet as a private network to several international and local broadcasters.

This tim eon Tour you’ll get to see the atest revision of thier Flyaway Kits plus a Dawson AutoPointing Antenna purchased in qty by the BBC.

 

ITTP

ITTP

The ITTP are a group of working TV professionals whose aim is to encourage and assist communication between training institutions and media companies so that high quality training can be developed. With these new standards in place production companies will have an understanding of the level of skills and knowledge they can expect from the respective media courses and will enable skills centred recruitment across the industry.

 

miniCASTER

miniCASTER

Expect to see the latest from miniCASTER. More details to come soon.

G-Technology

G-Technology

 

G-Technology offers premium external storage solutions for content creators. Our complete portfolio delivers unmatched performance, reliability and style designed for Mac or PC users. With our ever-expanding offerings, you choose which storage solution is best for you whether youre capturing footage or data, transferring it, editing it, or sharing it. From general storage for music to high performance solutions for intensive video editing weve got it covered.

On show for The Tour will be….

  • The new Studio Line including G-RAID Studio and G-SPEED Studio Thunderbolt 2 storage solutions
  • Expandable and modular Evolution Series including G-DOCK ev, G-DRIVE ev, G-DRIVE ev SSD and G-DRIVE ev 220
  • The industry’s most comprehensive line-up of storage solutions designed for professional content creation providing connectivity over USB, FireWire, eSATA, SAS and Thunderbolt.

 

mLogic

mLogic

 

mLogic designs and markets innovative peripheral products for desktop and portable computers.
The company’s product portfolio includes computer back-up and docking solutions as well as cutting-edge products featuring the new high-speed Thunderbolt™ interface. mLogic is headquartered in the Hayden Tract of Culver City, California a vibrant section of West Los Angeles. The area is a well known bastion of movie and television production and home to many high-tech and creative companies.
Expect to see the following on Tour…
  • mTape – the world’s first Thunderbolt LTO tape drive for simple, cost-effective archiving on location or in the studio
  • mLink – compact, DC powered PCIe to Thunderbolt expansion solutions

 

TNP Broadcast

TNP Broadcast

 

TNP broadcast are going to be showcasing products from manufacturers including.

miniCASTER manufacture video over IP streaming and broadcast hardware. Their range of products includes encoders, satellite broadband uplinks with hardware and broadcast quality decoders.

Streamstar are the developers of the world’s first touch control live production system. Their products allow you to live stream broadcast quality live transmission, with very high production values, all in one package.

Airpul manufacture compact, wireless uncompressed HD video transmitters and receivers with some features unavailable anywhere else.

Pixel2media are the creators of the P.Corder; a revolutionary new product that will streamline the way that presentations and lectures are captured and delivered.

 

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A look at the surprisingly very good & rather cheap Sony A6000 http://philipbloom.net/2014/05/12/a6000/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/05/12/a6000/#comments Mon, 12 May 2014 14:05:25 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=31864  

PLEASE READ MY ETHICS STATEMENT HERE
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Whilst browsing Andrew Reid’s EOSHD site for content to plunder, I came across his look at the Sony Alpha6000. He said the image was really good and knowing Andrew, he is hard to please :) I downloaded the sample clip and was also impressed. Therefore, as you do, I ordered one yesterday and it came today.

I am not able to go out to do any filming right now as I am deep in pre-production on a shoot I am doing with James Miller tomorrow through our brand new company. Co-incidentally, it’s for Sony but nothing to do with this camera. The only thing I could film at home quickly is obvious if you know me…CATS. Bert to be specific.

So I fed him some of his treats to keep him relatively still due to me shooting at an insanely shallow depth of field (more in next paragraph) all at 50p for slow motion. Simple settings. All manual of course. Low ISO, 1/100th shutter, wide open. Profile was neutral with contrast -3, saturation -1, sharpness -1.

Naturally since it’s an APS-C Sony E-mount, I put on my Metabones EF Speedbooster alongside my favourite lens the Sigma 35mm F1.4. This lens costs more than the camera, very common with low budget cameras. Along with the Speedbooster we are looking at close to £1000 for what I had in front of the camera, which is just under half what this camera cost me. A comparatively cheap £540! Just because it’s a cheap camera doesn’t mean you have to put on cheap glass. Of course, many would like to see me do that. Sorry, but I don’t own a nifty fifty and the only cheap glass I have is old Nikon glass, and that wouldn’t be fair. Using the sharpest lens I own makes loads more sense to check out the image. Also with the Speedbooster the “effective aperture” increases. The camera was reading the F1.4 as F1.0. Always fascinating to see that, it gives me a chill! It’s just a shame that I cannot keep focus though!

So a quick overview of the pros and cons, totally pilfered from EOS HD. He won’t mind… :) I changed a fair bit of it Andrew!

Pros

  • Excellent 1080p image, detailed with few artefacts. Must be one of the best HD images from a stills camera I have seen, apart from the Super 35mm mode on the Canon 1DC
  • APS-C sensor
  • Focus peaking / magnified focus assist whilst rolling
  • Zebras
  • Clean uncompressed output
  • E-mount is HUGELY flexible and compatible with huge range of glass including Canon EF with Metabones Smart Adapter
  • Speed Booster gives you the full frame look on this camera and amazing low light performance
  • Fantastic low light performance anyway from this excellent new sensor
  • Almost no moire and aliasing in video mode…I am sure it exists, but I’ve not quite seen it yet
  • Nice OLED EVF and articulated screen. EVF not as good as the NEX 6 which I believe it replaces
  • TINY, but good build quality
  • The new Alpha menus a big improvement on NEX cameras
  • Extremely fast AF, continuous burst rates and great stills quality at 24MP
  • Cheap!

Cons

  • Audio s(sigh) – no mic or headphone sockets, not compatible with A7R XLR box, which really annoys me as I have that for my A7r and AX100
  • SD card slot under battery cover on bottom of the camera, a bit annoying.
  • Only AVCHD

 

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The image did need post sharpening, this is nothing new. I do this for so many cameras…even the Alexa. It depends how well it responds to it. Many cameras just highlight the image issues. As this camera has barely any (well rolling shutter of course) it responded really well. I graded it with FilmConvert too.

The slow motion combined with the nice details and the grade…I was impressed with how it looked, the detail was there, I couldn’t see any more or aliasing either.

I know I am over a month late to the party, but I am glad I discovered this. It’s a real dark horse and from what I have seen so far (which isn’t much) I am itching to take it out compare it to my much more expensive full frame Sony A7s.

Graded

Graded

Straight from camera

Straight from camera

In the meantime, don’t forget to check out my GH4 review.  I really am super impressed already with it. The GH4 really has so many amazing features that put it in a different league from this camera, apart from I think the HD image, which is nicer on the Sony. The GH4 has moire in HD. Not in 4K that I can see, and that 4K image is bloody good. I just am a touch disappointed with the HD. The GH4 goes up to a massive 200 mb/s whereas the Sony is 24mb/s. But it doesn’t matter how high your bitrate goes, if you have moire at 24mb/s you will at 220mb/s! The Sony also can give uncompressed out to record in a better codec using something like an Atomos Ninja Blade, but it won’t be 10bit 422 like the GH4. That is unique in a camera like this.

So there we go. I hope to find time to share some more stuff. For now here is the one shot I did of Bert and below it are links to the .MTS and a re-wrapped version .MOV (identical contents) of the same shot but straight from the camera. Enjoy and please thank Bert for me!

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Bert and the A6000 from Philip Bloom Reviews & Tutorials on Vimeo.

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NOW CLOSED!! My Rode Reel film competition! AMAZING prizes…great competition! http://philipbloom.net/2014/05/11/rodereel/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/05/11/rodereel/#comments Sun, 11 May 2014 21:55:02 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=31293 Rode Microphones are great friends of mine since before we did our first workshop together about 4 years ago (or was it 5?)

We developed a relationship after I started using their Video Mic, and it’s just grown and grown. I am now one of their sponsored shooters, which would never have happened if I didn’t use their gear first and recommend it!

This is a really EPIC competition, something that should get you fired up to get out there, with the added bonus of all these crazy prizes to win!

Don’t wait too long to enter, certainly not until the deadline, as public voting which forms one of the categories is open NOW. Plus there is a bonus prize: if you enter before the 1st of April you get a copy of Pluraleyes free!

If you do wait until May 31st when entries close, you would have little chance in the public vote category due to being two months behind on some entries! It won’t affect the judges category though, which I am part of.

That being said, don’t cut corners and rush it, take your time and make it good!!!

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ALL THE INFO BELOW FROM RODE!!

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Win a share of more than $70,000 in the “My RØDE Reel” International Short Film Contest

RØDE is excited to announce the ‘My RØDE Reel’ international short film competition, conceived to nurture emerging, independent filmmakers and give them the opportunity to share in more than US$70,000 in prizes.

Running from March until June, the aim of the ‘My RØDE Reel’ contest is to encourage filmmakers from all walks of life to get out in the field, creating films and continually improve their craft.
Entrants to ‘My RØDE Reel’ are required to create a short film of five minutes or less, as well as a behind-the-scenes reel that features a RØDE microphone being used during the production of the film. RØDE has provided an entry pack that steps through the process, as well as templates for scripting, storyboarding and more, available now by registering at www.myrodereel.com.

There are three main prizes of filmmaking gear available to win — a judge’s prize for the short film, a judge’s prize for the behind-the-scenes reel, and a publicly voted prize for the short film. Additional category prizes are available for Best Sound Design, Best Soundtrack and more.
The total prize pool is valued at more than US$70,000 and includes BlackMagic and GoPro cameras, Carl Zeiss lenses, Miller tripods, RedRock Micro rigs, SmallHD and Teradek monitoring equipment, Kessler sliders and jibs, ThinkTank Photo bags, Event studio monitors, G-Technology storage, TetherTools accessories, software from Adobe and RedGiant, licensing credit from The Music Bed, and of course plenty of RØDE microphones. A full list of the prize packs is available at www.myrodereel.com.

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RØDE has brought together a respected judging panel for ‘My RØDE Reel’ that includes such inspirational filmmakers as Philip Bloom, FIlmRiot host Ryan Connolly and Devin Graham, best known from his high-adrenalin YouTube channel Devin SuperTramp.

“Film competitions are fantastic ways to encourage people to push their creativity in ways they don’t normally.” commented Philip Bloom. “The My RØDE Reel competition will not only do that with its high profile, but help the filmmakers with terrific exposure! I can’t wait to see what people come up with!”

“If getting your work seen by industry pros like Philip Bloom and having the chance to win some of these amazing prizes doesn’t get you off the couch, I don’t know what will!” added Ryan Connolly.

Devin Graham was equally excited to be involved: “This contest gives filmmakers an amazing opportunity to grow, learn from each other, and win some amazing prizes that will take them to the next level.”

To help aspiring filmmakers with their entries, RØDE has produced an educational series of tips & tricks videos. Hosted by Ryan Connolly and Olivia Speranza, the course guides viewers through the filmmaking process from pre-production through to shooting and on to post-production and distribution.

 

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Shooting Abroad: Confessions from a Monolingual Filmmaker http://philipbloom.net/2014/05/10/shootingabroad/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/05/10/shootingabroad/#comments Sat, 10 May 2014 05:16:49 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=31676 640x100

 

A terrific guest post from my former assistant and incredibly talented filmmaker! Check out the film “Confluence” we made together shot on the 5DmkII and 7D, now available for free to watch on Vimeo

By Preston Kanak

Excellence is earned… And I imagine that to get to this point you have worked hard as a freelancer, collaborator, and/or intern. But with all this training, what everything boils down to is the need to rely on others for support in your creative endeavours. On a recent project I produced in Cuba with Brent Foster, we ran into a lot of obstacles and in turn, learned a lot in the process. What I want to do in this post is talk about what we learned as well as discuss the stages of learning and how these stages relate to our current outlook as filmmakers.

The Monolingual Filmmaker

noun. [mon-uh-ling-gwuh l film-mey-ker] 1. Storytellers pushing themselves and their creative outlets. 2. Risk-takers and go getters who have a lot to learn. 3. Filmmakers who speak one language.

Since I started my journey as a filmmaker, I have been about pushing myself and my skill set to learn and take risks. I know I have a lot to learn and a long ways to go to get to where I want to be with my abilities as a storyteller. As for the film above, A Place to Call Home, I learned a lot during the project and although happy with the outcome, know that it is just a stepping stone. During the production of this film, I learned:

1. Importance of Fixers

2. Strategies for Packing

3. Strategies for Story Development

4. Social Release Strategies

For each of these elements, we came in with a game plan but were forced to adapt to our surroundings. We feel we took a lot of risks with this project and although we learned a lot during the process, we also made a lot of mistakes. To help put context on where we feel we are at as storytellers, I want to first breakdown the stages of learning.

Unconscious incompetence

You do not understand or know how to do something and do not necessarily know what skills you are lacking. You might also not quite understand the usefulness of the skills you lack.

Conscious incompetence

You do not understand or know how to do something, but know the steps to take to learn the skill set and also understand the value of learning the asset. 

Conscious competence

You understand how to perform the skill set but it required concentration to perform the task.

Unconscious competence

You have so much practice that the task has become ‘second nature’.

1. Fixers – Conscious Incompetence

Going into the project, I didn’t completely understand the role of a fixer but still coordinated to have one with us on the shoot as I knew there would be valuable to have one, especially with us not speaking Spanish. I have’t had the opportunity to travel much outside of North America so haven’t been on a project that I thought I needed one for. However, after this project, I will rarely travel without one.

As for Brent, he has worked as a photojournalist for most of his career, and has relied on fixers to keep him safe in conflict zones and volatile areas around the world. He considers a fixer instrumental in any international situation.

fixer

For this project, our fixer played an integral role. If it wasn’t for our fixer, we would not have been able to produce what we did.

What is a fixer?

Fixers are individuals who make arrangements for another person. Fixers have a thorough knowledge of local customs and procedures and use this knowledge to help make things happen. The duties of a fixer may include translation services, making arrangements for transportation, hotel accommodations and more.

For the film we produced in Cuba, our fixer acted as our translator, driver and friend by the end of the trip. He helped us coordinate with our Casa and made any arrangements we needed during the shoot.

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Why do you need a fixer?

Fixers fill many roles when they are assisting you. The main thing is keeping you safe and out of danger – or acting as people who will help diffuse the situation if one was to arise.

Brent stated that, ‘they know when to push the limits, and they know when it’s time to leave. In many areas in the world, you truly put your life in their hands’.

What was great about our fixer is that he went above and beyond what we could have ever expected. We definitely feel like this story would not have come together the way it did without meeting Yadir. He taught us so much about the culture and landscape of Cuba, and really lead us into the heart of our story.

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How to Find a Fixer

When I asked Brent the best way to find a fixer, he stated that, ‘there are a few different ways to find a fixer. The first way is to reach out to others who have worked in Cuba before. This is a great strategy to find someone who is reliable and is able to get things done for you. Another way is to use the platform, Lightstalkers. This resource was developed for photo journalists as a way to simplify the process and make it easier to look for support. The bonus to reaching out in advance on lightstalkers is that you can see others that have worked with the fixer in the past, and reach out to them to see how their experience was’.

For this project, our initial fixer was a no show so we were forced to find a fixer while we were in Cuba. Initially, I thought this would be a challenge but it ended up being much easier than expected. We simply headed out into the streets and on one of the days, we happened to run into a taxi driver who spoke great english so we asked if he had any interest in hanging out with us for the rest of the week.

Brent also mentioned that using our approach and taking the risk we did with our fixer, although it worked fine in Cuba where it’s a little easier to travel, is definitely something you do not want to do in a volatile area.

I asked Brent to talk about an experience he had where a fixer kept him safe and here is what he had to say:

There have been a couple times where working with a fixer has kept me out of some serious trouble, but the first time I ever worked with a fixer will be an experience I’ll never forget.

About a decade ago, I travelled to Palestine. This was my first trip to a volatile area, and I had very little travel experience at the time. I had a lot of passion, and a diploma in photojournalism, but was lacking the real world experience.

During that trip, my travels led me to Rafah, a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

One morning while there, Khalil (an incredible photographer who was also doubling as a fixer) and I woke up to a phone call. Homes were being torn down by giant bulldozers in Rafah, and people were fleeing their homes as they were crumbling to the ground.

GAZA JANUARY 2004

Photo by Brent Foster

Khalil and I arrived to the sound of homes falling and guns firing in what seemed like every direction. People were running with blankets, pictures, televisions, and other personal items in their hands. We continued to make our way towards the bulldozers.

It was so hard to tell whether bullets were flying right at us, or in the air. We crouched low, and Khalil told me when to run from house to house as we were exposed each time we crossed an open path, or an alley.

GAZA JANUARY 2004

Photo by Brent Foster

Khalil went out of his way to make sure I was safe that day. This was one of my first experiences working with a “fixer” but certainly not the last.

What makes a good fixer?

Finding a fixer is much easier that you would expect. Finding a GOOD fixer is the challenge. Good fixers are problem solvers and are people that make your life easier. They also have a good understanding of filmmaking and photography, and what you need to do to get the job done. You will usually have to pay more money for professional fixers but you will also usually get better results. For the short film, A Place to Call Home, we got lucky and were able to find someone that was very reasonably priced. We wanted to have a driver for a portion of the trip so by simply paying a bit more than we would have paid for a normal taxi, we were able to secure someone who was able to fill multiple roles for us. On one of the days, we needed to find a local band to play for us in the streets. We asked our fixer and he was able to find a band to play for us for the next day of shooting. He didn’t ask for extra money. He just made it happen.

Fixers should have a mastery of the local languages including knowledge of the various dialects and slang. It is especially critical that the fixer is able to communicate in English if that is the language you speak. For us, this was critical. I would definitely say that I border unconscious incompetence when it comes to languages. I do know that value of having another language and have spent a lot of time trying to learn a second language but always seem to fall short. Because I haven’t spent a lot of time in areas that require a second language, I never truly valued its strength. After this trip, I’ve definitely moved to Conscious incompetence and clearly know the value of another language. You are lost without it.

Another skill your fixer should have is thorough knowledge of the local customs, geography of the terrain, means of transportation and the ability to foresee the nature of events. A good fixer should also have hands-on experience of the subjects to be covered in the project you are producing. It is critical to do your due diligence when finding your fixer as it could be very difficult to find a good one once you arrive at the location in conflict zones.

Brent also states that, ‘you should also be sure that they have a clear understanding of their roles in the project, and what you are setting out to achieve. Will they be acting as a translator for interviews? Will they also drive and offer transportation services? These are all things that you need to have written in stone before you begin your project and professional relationship’.

For us, we are so glad our initial fixer was a no show as things could not have worked out better than with Yadir. He not only made our lives easier but allowed us to produce a better project than we would have without him. For that, we are forever grateful!

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2. Strategies for Packing – Conscious Incompetence

Packing for trips is extremely challenging and takes years of experience to perfect. I am continually learning with every trip I take and always trying to make the process easier for myself. Although I have traveled a lot the last few years, I have yet to master the process because each project requires a unique kit and posses it’s own challenges. It is my least favourite part about traveling.

There are a few things you will want to also make sure to do before you travel:

  1. Check Your Gear: Before traveling with your gear, make sure it is in perfect working order, the lenses/sensors are clean and that you have all the accessories you need to operate the camera as a carry on (if possible).
  2. Document all the Contents: Ensure that you have documented everything that you are taking with you. Typically, I keep sheets in all cases including a list of the contents and a master list as well. By doing this, you are able to keep kits together. They are also great references for when you go through customs.
  3. Proof of Purchase: When you are traveling between countries, make sure that all equipment that looks new has proof of purchase documents. Another option is to get a Carnet. This is important for when you enter a country and when you come home from a trip. It makes the process much simpler if the security officers know you are prepared and are not trying to hide anything from them.
  4. Prepare for Back-ups: When I am out shooting away from home, I find myself changing out cards on a more regular basis. You never know if you will either lose your camera, damage it or have it stolen. Make sure to switch cards on a regular basis. Further to this, you will want to make sure to create back-ups of all your work. Depending on the job, sometimes I find myself mailing drives home and carrying the back-up with me on the plane. I will also keep at least three copies of everything I shoot.
  5. Gear List / Insurance: The most important thing you will want to do is get insurance. When looking for policy packages, look for ones that cover accidental damages and theft. It’s not IF, it’s WHEN.

No matter how prepared you are, there is still a chance that your luggage will get lost and I am sure that this has happened to virtually everyone that has traveled with luggage/gear. It is the nature of the beast and when this does happen to you, you learn quick what gear you SHOULD have had with you.

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Photo by Brent Foster

Our strategy for this shoot was to bring only the gear that was essential for our the shoot. We also wanted to make the gear as inconspicuous as possible so we had little trouble with traveling. We wrapped all our gear in our clothes and took standard suitcases with us. We made sure to document what was in each kit and that each kit was separated into it’s own cases in the chance that one of the bags was not to show up. Brent visited the Cuban Embassy in Toronto before traveling down to make sure we would have no troubles at the border but still know we would probably have issues with the amount of gear we were bringing with us and our inability to speak very good Spanish.

We decided to keep the kit small and shoot DSLR’s. Gear-wise, we took a hybrid approach and shot both Nikon and Canon. I shot with the Nikon D800 and Brent shot with the 5D Mark III. It was interesting to see in post how we were able to push each of the images and it was easy to see how much easier it was to push the images that came out of the D800. For support gear, we had the Kessler Pocket Jib Traveler, Kessler Stealth, HD4000 Glidecam and a monopod.

Case 1 weighed 68 lbs 

In the main compartment, I had the HD4000 Glidecam, the Kessler Stealth Mini with flat mount adapter, a Manfrotto 190CXPRO tripod, the Lowell Blender light and Kessler Ion Battery, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of shorts, the Lenskirt, Audio Kit #1 (1 x Rode Lapel & Tascam DR100) and the Manfrotto 128RC tripod head. 

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In the middle compartment, I had the Bose portable speaker, FSTOP traveler bag, the ThinkTank Retrospective 30 and the mili backpack.

In the top pocket I had clothes and in the bottom pocket I had extra shoes, sandals, a multi-tool and hex key set.

Case 2 weighed 50 lbs 

In the main compartment of bag two, we had the Kessler Pocket Jib Traveler, the Manfrotto 190XPROB, Audio Kit #2 (1 x Rode Lapel & Zoom H4N), Manfrotto lightstand, 5 pairs of shorts, 5 t-shirts, Kessler All Terrain Outrigger feel, a pair of jeans, sweater, and a polo.

In the middle compartment we had the bounce, 3 Kessler short plates, 3 low profile ball heads, 2 pairs of jeans, and 4 shirts.

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In the top compartment we had 20 Clif Bars and a bunch of lifesavers. We brought Clif bars as a backup in case the food wasn’t that great or we were unable to find food while shooting. As for the lifesavers, they were great to hand out to kids on the streets. In the bottom pouch we had gaff tape, short sash, small zip ties, and the extra duffel bag.

Case 3 – Camera Backpack 

The last bag I took with me was my carry on. In the carry on I had a Nikon D800E, Nikon D4, Nikon 24-70mm 2.8, Nikon 70-200mm 2.8, Nikon 24mm 1.4, Rode Videomic Pro, 6 x 32gb CF cards, 4 x 64gb CF cards, 3 x 1 TB Western Digital Drives, filter kit, 15″ Macbook Pro, IPAD, lens and sensor cleaning kit, 2 intervalometers, money clip, zip ties, gaff tape, Guerilla-pod and batteries / chargers.

When it comes to Brent’s kit, he believes that, ‘less is more… at least in terms of the clothes I bring. I would much prefer to sacrifice shirts and jeans to fit extra gear when need be. I always pack my carry-on with everything I know I need to get the job done. Cameras, disks, lenses, drives, and my laptop. I will holler and fight to keep my carry-on with me at all times. No way will I check it. Plain and simple.

My checked gear most often contains half to three quarters equipment and the rest clothes. I pack mostly support gear into the checked bag, and wrap items with the clothes I’m bringing for adding protection. I like to think that this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgDizh4DMno will happen every time I travel, and try to pack with that in mind’.carbon_ad_728x250-670x230-2

3. Strategies for Story Development - Conscious Competence

Story plays an integral role in any film. For this section, I am just going to give a few pointers as well as talk about the process we used when we were developing a story.

A Place Called Home / Mi Tierra, Mi Hogar documents the journey of one man who, at 8 years old, moved with his mother to America to start a new life. Our lead character, who has longed for a place to call ‘home’, revisits his past memories and childhood hangout spots in Cuba after having spent 15 years in the United States.

For this project, the biggest thing I was hoping to accomplish was to produce something that transcended my normal style of storytelling but still having a similar vibe to the piece. For the last few months, my focus has been on developing and refining this voice and finding a way that I can use it in a way to help others tell their stories.

I am learning and I am growing with each project I work on. With all of my work, the focus has always been on making films that make me happy and I will continue to push for this in the work I produce.

For the film itself, our goal was to address some of the elements we observed about the culture and craft a story around what we learned on our trip. We are extremely happy how it came out and hope you enjoy the story we are trying to share.

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Photo by Brent Foster

Our approach for the project was very observational. We didn’t come in with a set shot list or storyline but knew our general focus for the project and knew a few key sequences we wanted to capture. It was great as we were able to film at a nice pace and capture things as they happened. We also wanted to make sure to balance our time and keep the pace a bit slower so we were able to also enjoy the trip and use it as a time to recharge.

When approaching the story, we wanted to make sure it was as authentic as possible. We took everything we had heard and observed about the culture and crafted a story around that. We then partnered with Beau Stephenson who then took our script and translated it into spanish with the help of others more closely linked to the culture.

One thing we did for the project to try take it beyond just a travel film was the way in which we approached filming each of the segments. We first secured a Casa in downtown Havana to immerse ourselves in the landscape. We also had one stipulation for filming. Our one stipulation was that the second we saw a tourist, we would turn and walk the opposite direction. I feel by doing this, we were able to find some areas that most people would not see.

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This trip really taught us the power of teamwork and working together to take advantage of each other’s strengths. It was truly refreshing to come together as a team for this story.

Time and time again during the editing process, when wishing that one of us would have had that one extra shot, sure enough the other had thought to shoot it, in a completely unexpected way. Our visions and ways of seeing the world are so different, but compliment each other wonderfully.

Inspiration during the edit came from the film, ‘Una Noche’ which documents three teenagers journey as they try to leave Cuba. It’s a really well done film and is currently available for viewing on Canadian Netflix. At about the one minute mark of this film, there was a great segment that inspired the direction of the story and we used this as motivation for the story.

Story Comprehension

Constructive criticism and feedback is critical to any project if anyone is hoping to grow as an artist and filmmaker. It is key to listen to what people have to say and try adapt to your project if what is brought up is valid and helps to better tell your story. This feedback is also critical to get for any future projects you produce. Both Brent and I thrive off of feedback from viewers.

The biggest comments we have gotten so far is that people feel we took a tourist approach and didn’t totally capture what Cuba is about. This is an absolutely fair point as we were only there for eight days. However, what we tried to do was get as close as possible to this storyline by immersing ourselves in the environment by staying at a local Casa in the heart of Havana and by also talking with our fixer to find out more about the culture and landscape. It was great that we were able to approach the taxi driver / fixer and do it on our terms rather than being approached by someone who was ‘trying to help’. There were a few times people approached us to try and help but felt like pushy salesmen.

Another thing we did was stay away from any tourist area. We said to each other that the second we saw a tourist, we had to turn around and walk the opposite direction. By doing this, we were able to avoid all the standard hotspots for tourists and we were able to meet a lot of great people who make up the fabric of what we feel Cuba is about from our short time there.

Character Development

When approaching the VO, we weren’t sure the exact approach we wanted to take. With our lead character leaving Cuba at a young age and having been gone for 15 years, we knew we had some creative liberties regarding the translation and voiceover. We realized that the person speaking didn’t necessarily have to sound like they were a native Spanish speaker with a Cuban accent. Especially in children and young adults, if you move to another country, you quickly lose your accent and take on the speaking patterns of your new home.

We did some research to see the best way to approach this based on content online, personal case studies and other films and found that for this project, it was key that it didn’t sound like he had a thick Cuban accent. We wanted the lead character to still have a good understanding of the language because of this connection to it but also wanted to show that the character may have been speaking their 2nd language more than their mother tongue.

Our best example of this is with Craig Ferguson — although a bit different than this case, if you watch his show on CBS from 10 years ago, his Scottish accent is very thick. Now, although he still has some of this accent, it has thinned WAY out — so much so that when he goes back to Scotland, he gets made fun of because of how his accent has changed.

While we were hoping that the language wouldn’t be the sticking point, we totally get how it changes the way in which you view the project and a few people have pointed this out to us since the launch.

Regarding the translation itself, Beau used some of the structure that Cubans use, but he also made it a tad more formal. The main reason he did this was because the lead character moves to the United States, goes to college and studies his own mother language, but is still influenced by the international standard and it’s slight variances from his home language. The dialect is distinctly different and we knew that.

Finding himself in a new place, he naturally gravitates towards others that are latino or speak Spanish. Especially in a place like a University, there are going to be Spanish speakers from all over the world. This, too, will have an influence on him.

It’s really interesting to hear how this happens to people who grow up talking a certain way, go to college, then come home speaking a different way. This implied “sophistication” is something that the character acknowledges, at least internally. Especially at the line, “But as I return, I realize this conceived notion of a place and a culture that I thought I knew was simply a memory of a better time.” Culture being the key word. He lingers on that thought for a moment, realizing that even he cannot completely return to that same exact culture he remembered as a child, because he now belongs to a new one.

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4. Social Release Strategies - Conscious Incompetence

Social strategies are a key element of any video release. With the insane amount of videos that are released and shared online, it is difficult to standout from the crowd without having a plan. Quality content is always king and finding ways to get this content seen is what is imperative.

Leading up to the release of this film, we planned an extensive social campaign across all platforms. We planned to tease content out starting a week before the release and had each days content broken down beforehand. We planned to release the content as follow:

APRIL 24TH – RELEASE MUSIC TEASER FILM
APRIL 25TH – LAUNCH FIRST TEASER CLIP
APRIL 26TH – LAUNCH SECOND TEASER CLIP
APRIL 27TH – LAUNCH WEBSITE
APRIL 28TH – LAUNCH OUR STORIES OF HOME
APRIL 29TH – SHARE A STORY OF HOME
APRIL 30TH – LAUNCH FOURTH TEASER CLIP
MAY 1ST – RELEASE OF FILM, SHARE POSTS ON FSTOPPERS, DIY PHOTOGRAPHY & KESSLER UNIVERSITY
MAY 2ND AND ON – CONTINUE TO REACH OUT TO SOCIAL PLATFORMS

We also developed a website for the film, launched a community based system for people to share their stories of home and developed blog posts for both our personal and business websites talking about a different aspect of the project. Outside of our own personal channels, we also reached out to gear manufacturers and content sharing sites to share our story as well.

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Photo by Brent Foster

What we wanted to do with this campaign was get the concept in front of people’s eyes in a variety of formats. Being that the idea of home was so universal, we thought that it was imperative to share in as many different formats as possible to attract more people to the project and in turn, drive more views to the films.

With any campaign, it is key that you develop a plan and coordinate with the people involved as well as family, friends and collaborators. It only takes a few people to help a video get seen by a large audience but it is key to have a team of people who are dedicated to the concept and willing to put the time in to promote the project.

The key is that you don’t ask this of your network too often and are giving more than you are taking / asking. I think the ratio I heard is 70/30 but I am trying to work towards a 90/10 so when I share work, it has an audience that wants to watch it. It is a lot of work and sometimes goes unthanked but in the long run, I think it will lead to more opportunities – at least that is my hope ;). I am far from 90/10 but that is my goal.

Below I have included a list of actionable items for your next campaign

Strategy: Share your content with relevant blogs, sites, and online communities. Spend time on this networks and channels building and refining these relationships.

Variety of Materials: Develop content in a variety of formats using a variety of platforms. Content is ingested in a variety of ways and each project is different so experiment to see what works with your audience.

Research: Do your research to see what works and what doesn’t work. Chances have it that there is a project like yours that has been released. Find out what they did and see if there are any strategies you can implement in your campaign.

What I Learned

This project was an amazing learning experience and showed me the importance of fixers, helped me refine my strategies when packing, helped me refine my abilities as a storyteller and also showed me how much work is involved in social release strategies.

We did all the social content for this campaign and although it was a lot of fun, it was also a lot of work and it is a full time job. Although I learned a lot from the process, I think that the next time I will hire someone to take care of the campaign.

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Photo by Brent Foster

As mentioned, the creative process is always a learning experience and I would be surprised if any artist would ever say they have reached Unconscious Competence, no matter how much experience they have. However, that is just my opinion ;). My hope is that there were a few tips that you found helpful. Happy travels!

 

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The importance of composition…making my mini documentary “An Amish Man” includes downloadable 4K version and native F55 raw file http://philipbloom.net/2014/05/10/anamishman/ http://philipbloom.net/2014/05/10/anamishman/#comments Sat, 10 May 2014 01:35:53 +0000 http://philipbloom.net/?p=30496 parallax3a

My favourite type of story to tell in a documentary, be it micro, mini, short or feature, is a subject I know nothing about. When I make them, I love to be on a journey of discovery, like the viewer too. It can also often help you tell a better story as you don’t make assumptions and skip stuff, which is easy to do when you are telling a story about something you know inside and out.

I love people documentaries, just about all my documentary work that is available on my site under the films/ documentary section are personal docs, and almost all about people. People are fascinating and having amazing stories. They give us a glimpse into worlds we often know nothing about. This is something I got from working in news for 17 years, meeting so many people with such amazing stories, and as much as I adore fiction, there are so many real stories to tell! Even if  you are dead set on fiction, take a look at the documentary genre. You can learn a hell of a lot from making them, both as a filmmaker and as a person. It’s a whole different way of working, a lot of spontaneity, and it helps you think fast and work fast.

The types of documentaries I like to make don’t have an agenda; I just present the story and leave you to make up your mind whether you like them, empathise, don’t understand etc etc…I have no problem with docs with agendas, as long as they are presented as that – they are just a different sub genre of documentary. I made a documentary about a man who loved to fire guns, I have no interest in guns and would go as far as saying I really don’t like them…but he told his story and gave us a glimpse into the mind of a man who loved his guns, not for self defense but for fun. I made no judgements, I just told his story, yet I still got attacked online for being pro guns because I made a film where I let someone explain why he loves them. Just because you don’t agree doesn’t mean you can’t listen! Utterly ridiculous. I want to make films about things and people I don’t get. Explain to me, I am not after conversion, I just want to understand!

So back onto the subject at hand. Let me ask you…what do you know about the Amish? What comes to mind? Men with beards but no moustaches (kind of ironic this month really:) ), Harrison Ford in “Witness”, no technology, perhaps you think they seem a bit cultish? Please don’t believe anything in that awful “Amish Mafia” fiction, this is not the Amish. Personally I knew little about them, what I did know I got from people who had contact with them and what they told me, plus of course a lot from my own preconceptions.

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For three years I have wanted to do a mini documentary on an Amish carpenter that my good friend Eric Kessler is friends with. The problem is that the Amish are incredibly private. Despite a few rare exceptions, they do not appear on camera, they don’t do interviews. Their lives are their own and they don’t want outsiders in. Fair enough. Eric tried to convince him, but it looked like it was never going to happen.

Whilst over in Indiana in September I wanted to give it one more shot, I wanted to meet him, show him some of work and convince him that all I wanted to do was a short film where I could lean more about their lifestyle and hopefully about them as people. No sensationalism…a sensitive documentary made to understand and educate, both myself and viewers.

Semi-reluctantly he agreed, on the provision that none of their faces could be seen (due to their beliefs) and he would want to approve it before I put it up online. The former…not ideal. To connect to someone, you do really need to see their faces, their eyes, but I had to respect this. The latter is something I never do for personal docs. For client work of course, every time. I agreed though. I wanted to make this film, as everything about the lifestyle fascinates me…that he had said yes surprised everyone I told where I was staying in Indiana.

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Not showing anyone’s faces

This was going to be a massive challenge: you want to see people’s faces in documentaries. You don’t want just their voices but that was how it had to be done.

This is where composition became even more critical than normal. I always try to make my composition as compelling as possible. Here I needed to use it to not just hide the faces of the people in the film but also still make you connect to them. A massive challenge. How can I hide Dennis in the interview but still feel connected to him? What about his family? Other Amish people? How can I depict a warm lifestyle when, traditionally, keeping people off of camera can easily give a cold feeling to the characters?

The last time I had to use composition to hide things, a lot, was when I did a news piece for Channel 5 about a charity calendar photoshoot where there were 100 naked women in it all lying down on the grass to form the word “autism” which was what the charity was about and for a photo to be taken by a helicopter of it. As this was for a teatime show I could show almost nothing. So I had to use clever composition to preserve the modesty of the ladies. It was seriously hard as I had to analyse ever shot I was taking to see if it was OK. It’s no joke that this was one my toughest things to film, as I had to avoid so much yet still give a flavour of what was going on there and I certainly didn’t want to use mosaics!! With 35 million views on YouTube it’s easily my most viewed anything online…shame it’s not on my channel!

So, back to the Amish piece…the bulk of the film was shot in around 4 hours or so at Dennis Hochstetler’s workshop. I wish we had been able to get there earlier, as the sun was coming through his workshop beautifully when we arrived but by the time we started filming the cloud rolled in.

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How do you do an interview where you can’t see the subject’s face? Well I have done many “anonymous” interviews. This wasn’t anonymous, we know who this man is, but he didn’t want to show his face. The last thing I wanted to do was use a mosaic, or shoot just his back. I wanted to see his shape and the edge of his face and keep it wide. I wanted to see where he worked in the background of the interview, which in itself tells a story. I have told many emotional stories without seeing someone’s face before, but they have worked because they have been super emotive. This was just a personal story, no eyes, no twinkle…you would barely see him smile BUT you would hear his tone and that in itself can make you warm to them. After all, we have radio don’t we? And we can listen to people on the radio and connect to them. It’s just that filmmaking is such a visual medium it’s key to make the visuals work for the story. I really dislike the style where everything is a voice over on top of other shots. I think it’s incredibly important to keep cutting back to the main protagonist to remind the viewer who they are watching.

Hiding faces but still strong compelling shots

Hiding faces but still strong compelling shots

Hiding faces but still strong compelling shots

Hiding faces but still strong compelling shots

As I mentioned earlier, the sun going in caused me a few issues. When I first arrived, it was streaming through the window and it gave me a lovely light, but  by the time I was set up it had gone…that lovely shaft, gone.  I had to live with it. This is where I brought in additional lighting.

I love natural light, and most of this is made using natural and available light. I often do, but I also normally bring in additional lights to accentuate and work with that light. So for the interview I needed a light. Not to light his face, not a 9K to blast fake sunshine through the window. Nope, just a simple Gekko K7 to give him a simple rim that looks like it’s from a window that will separate him from the black all around him and give us enough of the outline of his face to pick up on how he is saying something. The way a his facial muscles work, even in silhouette, help enormously. I needed a light source that was fake, but felt like it was motivated…that is was from a window.

Now the problem was I needed to get the light high and very close to the back of his head as it’s not super powerful and it needed to work with the rest of the light that was there. I really I would have used a boom stand, but I didn’t have one with me, not any clamps! So, I put my miller sticks up really high with the Cineslider on it and laid the light stand on it with bungees on. Not exaclty elegant but it worked! I am certain this is NOT what Eric Kessler had in mind when he made the Cineslider!

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Now once he was lit (yes, harnassing natural light counts as lighting) I could still clearly see him in the viewfinder when in S-Log. Switching to a REC 709 LUT and his face was gone.  That LUT showed me the sort of look I could get in post. Be careful though when exposing to in-camera LUTS as they are quite deceiving. Keep flicking back to log to check.

I had more lights with me, and I use these a lot, but I only needed one here. The lights I had with me are a set of 3 Gecko lights, all LED. Two hard lights and one soft. The Gekko K7 I used is pictured below. It’s a great little light which pumps out 750 lux at 3m. It may look pricey but this 3 head kit is superb. It goes into a small back pack and it often all I need.

 

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I also tried one very nice new piece of gear courtesy of Kessler. The soon to be released Parallax. An add on  for the Cineslider and the pocket dollys. You simply screw it to the underneath of the slider, add a moving plate to the caddy by screwing it on, and by adjusting the angle bars you can get dolly moves that look almost circular. Yes you can get this effect with a really good fluid head on the caddy AND perfect operating skills. This will guarantee the shot is what you wanted and not screwed up by human error. This is a cracking product…yes Kessler are a site sponsor but that’s irrelevant. It’s a fantastic product and great that it’s not a whole new slider but an add on, and great that is not limited to one distance. It’s where you want it to be.

Kessler Parallax

Kessler Parallax

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I shot all the inside stuff on the Sony F55 in 4K raw. Did it need to be? Nope. I did it because the camera is pretty new for me and I had yet to shoot raw 4K with it. I wanted to get used to it for paid gigs. Whilst it is lovely it’s also crazy hungry on space. 60 minutes on one very expensive Sony proprietary 512gb card. Ouch. At the same time, the camera recorded proxies internally in full HD using the excellent XAVC Sony 10 bit codec. This in itself is good for most things.

EDIT: Sorry the 4K version didn’t work. I have no uploaded a new version which should work!

You can download a highly compressed 4K version of just 3.3gb compared to the original 4K ProRes HQ version which is 51GB. There is also a native F55 raw shot you can download which is 858gb. I don’t know how long I will keep them available for so download whilst you can!

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The camera was lovely to use. It didn’t have any high frame rates when I shot this, and there would have been a temptation to use them. I am glad I didn’t though!

All the stuff outside was shot on my 1DC, as it was much more drive around and grab the shots I needed fast. The F55 is not that sort of camera. The joy of the DSLR! I really do love that 1DC. Such a versatile beast!

Lenses were some Canon mount and some Nikon mount. The truly excellent Sigma 18-35 F1.8, Tamron 24-70 F2,8, Canon 70-200 F4, Zeiss 135mm F2, Zeiss 100mm Macro F2 and a couple of others I can’t think of right now!

Small HD DP7

Small HD DP7

Additional gear used was a Miller Compass 20 tripod, Small HD DP7 which is simply stunning. One of the best monitors I have ever used. Audio was a Sony UWP wireless mic with Sanken Cos-11 mic. Rode NTG-3 on the Sony F55 and Rode Video Mic Pro on the 1DC.

The way I interview depends on the person and the film. With Dennis, naturally this being his first time, we had a nice conversation. It just happened to be filmed at the same tine. I didn’t just ask him questions, we had a back and forth. I gave him some of my philosophies and experiences with the aim of drawing some of his out. I will do a post one day on interviewing….I will add it to the long list. Doing it this way worked well with Dennis. I got all the information I needed, both historical, factual and personal. Of course, I had more than I needed. The interview itself was 30 minutes long and I have used around 8 minutes 45 of it. Quite a nice ratio really. I couldn’t use it all as, without his face, I needed a hell of a lot more visuals and also 30 minutes of one person talking with no other voices is too long. He certainly covers a lot in the ten minutes, but I let it breathe so it wasn’t too overwhelming.pbloom - 250x400

So, after finishing with Dennis, I knew I didn’t have enough b-roll footage to carry the story visually. I would have to get some more material the next day. I needed to see some of the things he was talking about. After all, his interview was like a shot list for me. I drove around the area looking for Amish…the camera all set up on the tripod on the back seat so I could pull over quickly, grab it and shoot the shot. I had to be fast or I would miss them!

I also went back to the first location to get some daylight B-Roll of the exteriors and the scenery around. These are some of the nicest shots of the whole piece! I knew once I had enough shots…that comes with experience. Always over-shoot if you are unsure. It’s better than under shooting. With experience you will know how much you need.

 

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I cut this at home for a change. Normally I cut most things on the road on my Macbook Pro Retina. Being at home meant I was able to use my newly improved edit suite, still running Premiere CC naturally. It now has a 39″ 4K Seiki TV that cost me under $600 (!) connected to the Blackmagic Ultrastudio 4K breakout box. The first in the newly redesigned iMacs with all options ticked and a Thunderbolt display.

I really do recommend this TV for cheap 4K monitoring. They also do a 50″ but I think this is perfect for an edit suite. The 50″ is more of a sitting room TV and we know there is no content for that yet! :)

For audio, I have two Event Opal monitors. Stunning speakers. I used the Apogee Duet 2 to take the sound out of the mac via USB, not the analogue 3.5mm out. The difference was huge…so clean. Those are amazing pre-amps in that little box.

Now just because I had a 4K breakout box it didn’t make editing 4K any easier really. I still edited in HD and relinked to 4K when it was finished…but seeing the 4K rushes on the Seiki TV blew me away. I used Davinci Resolve 10 to colour correct the raw and I could see this on my (unfortunately poorly calibrated) 4K TV. Until this point, I had never seen 4K at my home. This was a big deal. It looked lovely!!

I converted the 4K raw to ProRes HQ 4K but used the XAVC HD proxies for editing. If you do attempt to edit in 4K there are sequence presets for Blackmagic Ultrastudio in “Ultra HD” 3840×2160, smaller than the 4K the camera shoots which is 4096×2160. You can make your sequence that, but I had massive issues with the blackmagic box and the TV getting any image to come up like that. It’s totally possible to edit 4K on my set up…it’s just as soon as you start adding colour correction then it grinds to a halt…I guess the MacPro is much needed by me!

Like most of my work I colour graded with Colorista II. 10% off the colour suite and shooter suite with code bloom10 at gopb.co/redgiant
also FilmConvert within Premiere CC. 10% off Filmconvert via this link gopb.co/filmconvert or with code bloom

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The Blackmagic 4K Ultrastudio breakout box

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The resolution of the Seiki

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It’s great taking a photo of the 4K Seiki with an iphone and it looking not a like a screen!

I hope now that I have gained Dennis’ trust, I can go back for more than an afternoon and really get to know him, his family and their community. I really hope so!!

What I ended up with was not necessarily what I had set out to film…these things take on a life of their own. Always be prepared to go with the story unfolding and not force it into your view of it. The best results are when you let them come alive and go with it…it’s also the most fun and definitely the most rewarding!

Music Courtesy of The Music Bed. Gopb.co/musicbed

Joshua Radin: One leap & Think I’ll Go Inside
Aidan Hawken: If something’s wrong
Brooke Annibale: By your side

 

Rentown Cabinets

2735 Birch Rd

Bremen, IN, 46506

(574) 546-2569

An Amish Man from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

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