Movie Filming & Editing Blog
Wednesday 5th June 2013
This short film is a lovely exploration of filming using a L.C.W. Mark II variable 77mm ND(Neutral Density) filter to allow shallow depth of focus on a Canon 5D Mark III DSLR run and gun rig. Shot in the lovely Calverley woods with Franka. The footage you see is exactly what came out of the camera, no colour grading, balancing, image stabilisation, fading or any other effect has been done.
As you watch you can notice the shallow depth of focus that comes from shooting with a wide aperture 50mm prime lens at f1/4 and the ISO is at 320 with shutter speed of 1/50 throughout. The only thing that is changed is the variable ND filter and focal point.
But forget all this technical stuff, sit back and enjoy the beautiful Calverley woods just before sunset. The song is "Days Like These" by the beautifully talented singer songwriter Lucy Kitt who is based in Kent.
Following from the video there is a behind the scenes discussion where you get to find out more about the equipment and techniques used including Canon 5D mk iii, Zacuto Z Finder 2.5 Pro, Sigma 50mm Prime Lens, Jag35 DSL rig, Genus Follow focus, ND Filter and so forth. Enjoy
Add a comment | Posted by Mark Zaretti at 07:28
Thursday 30th May 2013
Most of the time we do the filming but sometimes the situation will arise where it's not possible for us to do the filming, usually if the client is going abroad and there are tight budget constraints. We'll still do the editing and post production on their footage and, as is the case with a recent client, we'll provide specific digital cinematographic training. It's a lot like the photography training except it's aimed at capturing moving pictures.
There are lots of variables, least of which are the actual camera equipment itself. For this training I was teaching Mr Kemp in Leeds how to better setup and use his Sony NEX VG30 camera. It's an NTSC model from Japan and a very nice bit of kit. He's also got a Leica lens mount adapter and a lovely 50mm prime Leica lens with max aperture of f1.4 which produces lovely bokeh and shallow depth of field.
During the session we explored how to setup the shutter speed, gain (ISO), aperture, use the zoom focus feature, the difference between servo zoom and digital zoom (a questionable design feature on this VG30 camera is the zoom by the hand grip which is digital, wheras the optical zoom is on the lens). Overall I have to say it's a lovely camera but Sony really don't make good manuals so it really helped the client having a proper explanation and demonstration. I also provided simplified instructions and guidance on acceptable settings for shutter speed, gain and aperture. He's already attended some of my photography trainings so he "gets" the pros and cons of the different settings. Today's training was more about translating that photography knowledge over to the cinematography world. Nick's a smart guy and he also "gets" how using videos can really help communication with a wider audience and you'll find many examples of videos on his website.
Out the box the "auto" settings just don't produce a good picture in low light, which would require a lot of filtering in post production to use the footage. The problem is the auto settings ramp up the gain quite generously. As I was showing the client how to use the camera we tested different gain settings, which ranged from 0dB to 30dB. As a rough guide I felt the noise became a problem above 12dB of gain. One nice thing about this camera is the ability to manage the aperture, shutter speed and gain via convenient buttons hidden behind the LCD display. It's still a bit of a faff and not as easily controllable as a pro camera but then this is a great prosumer camera and several £k less than the pro equivalent. Overall I rate this camera and the ability to change the lenses including third party lenses like Leica makes this a serious prosumer camera.
Doing one on one training is a real pleasure. You never really know what's going to come up. As we explore facets of the camera and its use, it leads to more questions and a deeper understanding of how to get the most from the equipment. Sometimes it also leads to surprises and today was no exception as Bill the cat decided to get involved in the film training. I think he was probably more interested in the mousy looking wind shield over the mics than the interesting form factor of the NEX VG30 but it wasn't CATastrophic and everything turned out just PURRfect!
Add a comment | Posted by Mark Zaretti at 23:10
Thursday 30th May 2013
Just imagine, every picture you've ever posted on facebook, twitter or your own website is suddenly able to be used by anyone without you having any control over it's use and you have no copyrights! Well thanks to those muppets in Whitehall and their Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act that's exactly what has happened.
In this very ill-considered bill they allow for free commercial and non-commercial use of orphaned images.
An orphaned image is one where the digital IPTC info, a part of the image file which details the photographer, has been removed. These IPTC bits of the file are very easy to change and remove and so making an image into an orphan image is childs play.
So imagine if you're a professional photographer, someone orphans your image and next thing it's being used without your consent and without you getting paid. That's what this bill does. But you might not be a pro photographer, it could just be your holiday snaps which you put online to share with your friends. Next thing some company is using your images in their promotional material. How would you like your kids appearing on some unethical companies website? I thought not. Even David Bailey has writen directly to George Osborne saying "I am appalled at what the government is doing to our rights..."
There is an e-petition on the governments website and as a fan of common sense, people's rights, and doing the right thing I really urge you to sign it (which takes about 30 seconds).
1 Comment | Posted by Mark Zaretti at 15:30
Monday 27th May 2013
Saturday saw lovely people from Calverley, Leeds and Hemel Hempsted all meet up for a photography training day. Some of these photo enthusiasts had been on previous courses we'd run while for others it was their first time. There were a range of cameras from DSLRS to compact rangefinders and mirrorless fourthirds lumix cameras.
Part 1: Camera Technical Knowledge Made Fun
We started off with technical information going over the four key variables when taking a picture:
Although there was a lot of information I made it easy to learn and fun too by blending together technical information with live demonstrations and encouraging the delegates to relate the information directly to their cameras.
Part 2: Putting Camera Theory Into Practice In The Field
After a nice pub lunch (the homemade tomato soup with chips was great if not unconventional!) we headed off into the woods to put into direct practice the things we had learnt that morning. I find this really helps people concretize their understandings. The day was really sunny so walking in the woods where the trees provide shading presented ideal opportunities to explore using the variables to achieve a good exposure despite the harsh lighting. Everyone successfully moved on from auto settings to A mode and finally M mode (full manual settings). It was a proud moment, like taking the stabilisers off a bicycle. But more than pride it means that each person is now empowered to take much better pictures and to be more creative in thier photography.
Part 3: Wrapping It Up With Feedback On Photos and Guidance on Composition
To wrap up the days photography training we went through some of the pictures the team had taken and discussed aspects of each picture in terms of contrast, composition, subject focus, settings and artistic critique. It's a great way to bring it all together.
I started the day explaining that photography is a love affair with light and understanding the flow and interaction between light, the subject and yourself. To fall more in love with your camera then look at our photogaphy training information.
Add a comment | Posted by Mark Zaretti at 17:09
Friday 24th May 2013
I've been asked to review the Marantz PMD661 Solid state professional audio recorder. We've been using one for remote field recording for a couple of years now and they're great. But they are also a little quirky so here's a discussion of our experience so far.
Why did we get one?
Well it wasn't the cheapest option. We got ours from Pink Noise Systems here in the UK and they were great with providing advice and the kind of service you would appreciate. Of course back then people were raving about zoom H4N's and other such DSLR audio solutions. But the Marantz is more than simply a fix for bad audio on DSLRs. It's a self contained professional audio capture solution. It's got 2 XLR/Line inputs as well as very capable low noise internal sterio mics with independant channel gain control.
How do we use it?
There are three scenarios in which we generally use this device
The first is as part of a DSLR shoulder rig. A stripdown audio only version is shown above. As you can see we hook in a proper Sennheiser K6+ME66 solution and we don't really make use of the on-board mics (though they are good).
Studio Audio Recording
The second scenario is shown in the video below. We use it as a solid state capture device for a studio vocal mic setup.
Events Recording off the PA Desk
The third scenario we use it for is for recording a live feed off a PA mixing desk at live events recordings. We'll often daisy chain the output into one of the cameras via XLR so that we're recording to the camera and the 661. This gives us a backup of the audio and provides a clean audio reference track in the video.
Some of the features we Love
Some of the features we wish they'd improve
Some nice to know's
Despite it's quirks this is a phenomenal piece of kit for the price tag. We've taken it to Peru, France and Europe filming action adventure events. It's been exposed to the elements and had a hard life and is still working fine. The menu is basic but the features that count are there and it does what it needs to do, nothing more. It's rugged and sturdy. Would we recommend one... sure if it's what you need. You've got to do your own research but this is definitely worth considering. I'd also look at sony kit, who I think really do audio well, even though they've lost their way in other arenas!
If you've found this useful then please go ahead and "like" us on facebook and share the love! cheers.
Add a comment | Posted by Mark Zaretti at 09:48