Avoiding Camera-Related Injuries: the Go Creative Show Talks to Rick Macomber

By associate editor Elliot Smith:

GCS062 Rick Macomber

Ben Consoli of the Go Creative Show talks to Emmy-winning DoP, photojournalist and friend-of-Newsshooter Rick Macomber about how to avoid injury from bad habits and repetitive movements you could be making every time you pick up a camera.

Click below to listen to the show:

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Posted on May 28th, 2015 by Elliot Smith | Category: Go Creative show, Uncategorized | Permalink | Comments (0)

OConnor introduce the 2560 Ultimate Fluid Head

By associate editor Elliot Smith:

If you’re looking for a seriously high-end tripod head, OConnor have a new option for you: the 2560 Ultimate Fluid Head which offers the features of the range-topping 2575D in a smaller, more lightweight package.

The OConnor 2560 Ultimate Fluid Head.

The OConnor 2560 Ultimate Fluid Head.

A response to the shrinking size and weight of modern cinema cameras, the 2560 makes use of magnesium and carbon fibre to help keep its weight down to 18lbs (8kg). Which seems like a lot until you realise the head is rated to carry 66lbs (29kg) of (presumably even more expensive) camera and lens.

OConnor is expecting the new head to be available in June, with a suggested list price of $13,750 US. Might be one to rent first to make sure you like it.

From OConnor:

OConnor Introduces New 2560 Ultimate Fluid Head

Venerable Brand Unveils Lightweight Support Crafted Specifically for Digital Cinema Cameras

BURBANK, Calif. (May 27, 2015) – OConnor, a Vitec Group brand and premier provider of fluid heads, tripods and camera accessories for film and television production, has announced the release of its new 2560 Ultimate Fluid Head. The latest addition to the company’s successful Ultimate range of fluid heads, the 2560 is ideally suited to the configurations of today’s camera set ups. Specifically engineered to support fully accessorized smaller cameras in studio configuration, the lightweight fluid head has the flexibility to be used with many of the film cameras and large-sensor digital offerings available currently available or releasing soon.

Crafted for “cine-style” shooting, the new head design delivers cinema standard positioning of controls, including brakes and rosettes, for easy and intuitive use. The 2560 fluid head also includes OConnor’s patented sinusoidal counterbalance system for true, accurate balance at any point in the tilt range. In combination with the company’s stepless, ultra-smooth pan & tilt fluid drag, the 2560 delivers the control and stability that have been characteristic of OConnor for over 60 years.

“Whatever camera configuration our users need to support, whether digital or film, the Ultimate 2560 will accommodate them without compromising on performance,” said Steven Turner, Product Manager for OConnor. “Offering many of the same features as our flagship 2575D head, the 2560 provides the quality and reliability synonymous with OConnor in a lighter weight, smaller form factor. Whether you’re looking to support an increasing number of accessories, gain more flexibility and mobility in the field, or future-proof your camera support system, the 2560 delivers a perfectly balanced solution for digital cinema shooters.”

The Ultimate 2560 fluid head is housed in lightweight magnesium, ensuring a best-in-class performance and a superlative power to weight ratio. Weighing less than 18 pounds, the 2560 is capable of supporting camera payloads up to 66 pounds at a 6-inch center of gravity above the platform. In addition, each head comes with a carbon fiber cover for improved stiffness and maximum durability in extreme conditions.

“The new 2560 offers the same solid feeling and form factor I’m used to from OConnor, but in a much lighter weight package,” says David Mahlmann, SOC, who recently used the 2560 on an indie film shoot. “This makes for faster and easier setups for the camera and grip departments, allowing us to take full advantage of today’s lighter weight cameras.”

As camera technology continues to evolve rapidly, OConnor’s newest fluid head is one of several products the company is introducing to meet the shifting needs of cinematographers and operators. “All of OConnor’s products are engineered to meet the demands of today’s challenging camera work, and now, more than ever, flexibility means everything,” added Turner. “The Ultimate 2560, with its high latitude of range and infinite, accurate balance and drag, is the very definition of versatile.”

The Ultimate 2560 Fluid Head will be available worldwide in June. The suggested list price will be $13,750. For more information, visit OConnor at

Posted on May 27th, 2015 by Elliot Smith | Category: Uncategorized | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zylight to show new F8 series LED fresnel at Cinegear

By associate editor Elliot Smith:

LA’s Cinegear trade show runs 4-5 June and manufacturers are starting to trail what they’ll be showing this year.

Zylight F8-200 LED fresnel

Zylight F8-200 LED fresnel

We covered Zylight’s Newz on-camera light at NAB 2015 (video below) and the company is going to expand their offering of LED fresnels with the F8-200.

Newsshooter at NAB 2015: Zylight Newz Camera Top Light on Vimeo.

This is promised to offer the equivalent of a 2,000W tungsten fixture that folds down to a smaller package for transport. Being a fresnel it also has an adjustable beam spread via a focusing lens. ‘Active cooling’ will be incorporated, (which can be a bit of a lottery depending on the type of fan used) and the light can be connected to mains electricity or powered by two V-lock or Anton Bauer type batteries.

Multiple Zylight units can be synchronised over DMX and ‘Zylink’ wireless protocols, they’re water resistant and will be available as either 3200K or 5600K versions – no bi-color option as yet.

Zylink hope to be shipping the F8-200 by late July.

This straight from the company:

Zylight Showcases Expanded F8 LED Fresnel Product Line at Cine Gear Expo 2015

LOS ANGELES – May 26, 2015 – Zylight, a leading manufacturer of innovative LED lighting solutions, will demonstrate its F8 LED Fresnel product line, including the new F8-200, at 2015 Cine Gear Expo Los Angeles, which runs June 5-6. Compact for field use, the F8-200 delivers the brightness of a 2,000-watt Tungsten or 400-watt HMI fixture, but can be powered by AC or two 14.4V standard Gold Mount or V-Mount batteries. Zylight will be located in the USHIO America booth (S310).

Built on the same chassis as Zylight’s award-winning F8-100, the F8-200 includes an active cooling system and collapses to less than five inches thick for easy transport. The portable F8-200 can also be powered by AC adapter and used as part of a studio lighting grid.

“With the F8-200, location shooting just got a lot brighter and a lot cooler. We can’t wait to demonstrate our new light for the film and video professionals at Cine Gear,” said Joe Arnao, president of Zylight. “The F8-200 doesn’t generate the heat of a typical HMI, and our quantum dot technology provides a very natural and balanced light source.”

Both the F8-200 and F8-100 feature an adjustable beam spread (16-70 degrees), Zylight’s patented focusing system for spot and flood operations, and an eight-inch SCHOTT glass lens for single shadow traditional Fresnel beam shaping. Both F8s also have a high CRI (color rendering index) as well as a high TLCI (Television Lighting Consistency Index).

With built-in DMX and ZyLink wireless technology, F8s can be linked with multiple Zylights for simultaneous remote control. Both lights are available in tungsten (3200K) or daylight (5600K) versions, ship with barn doors and yoke mount, and are water resistant (IP54) for use in challenging conditions. The F8-100, which draws only 90 watts but has close to the light output of a traditional 1,000-watt Fresnel, is available now. The F8-200 will be available in late summer.

Zylight will also demonstrate its Newz on-camera LED light, which delivers a soft but punchy light that complements skin tones. The variable white light includes brightness settings from tungsten to daylight, and its unique articulated arm design and custom barn doors offer easy height and angle adjustments. The Newz has an MSRP of $429 and will be available in July.

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Posted on May 27th, 2015 by Elliot Smith | Category: Uncategorized | Permalink | Comments (0)

SmallHD announces the 501 HDMI 5″ monitor for $899 US

By technical editor Matt Allard:

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 10.12.59 PM

SmallHD has just announced a companion to the 502 5″ monitor they unveiled at NAB 2015. The 501 is an HDMI only version that will retail for $899 US. It comes with all the same features as the 502 including framing guides, focus assist, false colour, zebra, histogram, waveform, vectorscope, RGB parade and custom 3D LUTs. The 501 also features a HDMI pass through for added versatility.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 10.13.35 PM

The 502 was one of the stand out products we saw at NAB 2015 and I am sure the 501 will also prove to be just as popular. While a lot of manafacturers have decided to make larger on-camera monitors I think going back to a smaller 5″ design is a much smarter option for today’s crop of smaller cameras and gimbals.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 10.13.18 PM

You will be able to use the 501 as an EVF with the Sidefinder which will be available as a $300 add-on accessory.

The optional Sidefinder

The optional Sidefinder

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For more information head over to the smallHD website.

Posted on May 26th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Monitors | Permalink | Comments (0)

AJA drops the price of the CION 4K Cinema Camera to $4995 US

By technical editor Matt Allard:


In a surprise announcement AJA has reduced the price of the CION from $8995 US to $4995 US. The CION received a lot of fanfare when it was first shown at NAB 2014, but has largely failed to attract the attention of buyers. With the release of the Sony FS7 and Blackmagic’s low pricing on the URSA Mini, it seems that AJA has made an aggressive move to attract more potential buyers.

The CION was designed to be not only ergonomic but lightweight as well. The camera is capable of shooting at 4K/UltraHD and 2K/HD resolutions. It records in-camera directly to the Apple ProRes family of codecs, including 12-bit ProRes 444, to AJA Pak SSD media at up to 4K/60p. CION can also output AJA Raw at up to 4K 120 fps via 4x 3G-SDI or up to 4K 30 fps via Thunderbolt™.

I liked the design and the concept of the CION when I first saw the camera, but you need to use proprietary SSD media and an external EVF which push up the price of a working camera package.

For those who already purchased the CION production camera before May 26, 2015, you will receive two AJA Pak 512 SSDs for free, directly from AJA (valued at $2498).

KI Pro Quad

KI Pro Quad

AJA has also lowered the price of the Ki Pro Quad, Ki Pro Mini and Ki Pro recorders. The Ki Pro Quad is now $2995 US, Ki Pro Mini is $1495 US, Ki Pro is $2495 US, and Ki Pro ND is $2295 US.

It will be interesting to see if the new CION pricing will help boost sales in an already competitive and crowded camera market.

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Posted on May 26th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: AJA Cion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Antler Images – Creating a cinematography alliance

By technical editor Matt Allard:

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 12.17.26 PM

Working as a freelancer can be very rewarding but there are often frustrating times when you’re sitting around waiting for a phone call or email to get your next job. Most freelancers operate on their own and although being your own boss is one of the main perks of the job, there are a lot of instances where you may get offered multiple gigs that overlap or even assignments and locations that may not work to your strengths. Having a trusted network can be a smart way to strengthen your own business as well as maintain a high level of quality if you have to pass on the assignment to someone else.

From L-R Trent Butler ACS, Lee Ali, Mark Dobbin ACS, Ben Foley, Ben Emery, Matthew Allard ACS

From L-R Trent Butler ACS, Lee Ali, Mark Dobbin ACS, Ben Foley, Ben Emery, Matthew Allard ACS

I recently became part of Antler Images, a cinematography alliance made up of six members that has a global reach. Specializing in boutique, creative and technical world-class cinematography, Antler Images has DPs located in Melbourne, Sydney, Doha, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City & Tokyo. We believe in an elite standard of cinematography and share a tenacious work ethic – we believe this alliance represents our values and high standards of work. Antler Images consists of Trent Butler ACS, Mark Dobbin ACS, Ben Emery, Ben Foley, Lee Ali and Matthew Allard ACS.

Collectively, we have over 120 years experience, have filmed in over 90 countries and won more than 80 cinematography awards. We have all known each other for years and we all value each others’ work highly. Aligning yourself with like-minded individuals lets your prospective clients know that they are getting the same level of quality whoever they hire. There is nothing worse than being offered an assignment that you can’t do and then passing it on to someone who may not live up to the same expectations and quality that you offer. Doing the job yourself or passing it onto someone else should be looked upon in the same way. Reputation and repeat clients are the key to survving as a freelancer. If a client is used to using you and you’re not available the last thing you want to do is pass it off to someone who you think can’t do the job to the same standard. If the person you recommend to the client doesn’t do a good job it’s your reputation at stake.

Antler Images is set up to offer a global reach, but a collective can work just as well in your own area. The key thing to remember is that you need to align yourself with colleagues who offer the same standards and work ethic and a variety of different styles and creative approaches. If it’s a collective of DPs for example, you don’t want everyone to shoot in the same way. There are always going to be assignments or locations that suit one individual more than another. This same principle can apply to any type of freelancer whether you’re an editor, producer, director or any other role. Your collective is only as strong as the weakest link. It is very important to make sure you only align yourself with individuals whose work you respect.

Creating a collective of individuals will not only expand your reach – it can also offer you a broad spectrum of information and knowledge. I know I can contact any one of the members of Antler Images and ask a question or get advice about using specific equipment or operating in a particular country or city. And if you’re all located in the same area you may well decide it is a good idea to have a pool of equipment that you all have access to.

Surviving in today’s freelance market requires you to think outside the box and come up with new, unique ways to market yourself and build a brand. Creating a collective of like-minded individuals is just one way of expanding your business and it isn’t something that will cost you a lot to do.

You can follow Antler Images on Twitter: @Antler_Images

Instagram: antler_images


Posted on May 26th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: documentary | Permalink | Comments (0)

‘I’m amazed we pulled this off!’ – DJI’s Romeo Durscher on flying drones underground for Good Morning America

By associate editor Elliot Smith:

Romeo Durscher knows drones. He’s in charge of DJI’s drone education program – helping spread the word about drones, how to fly them and how to get the most out of them. So he was the ideal choice to strap on hiking boots and a climbing harness when ABC’s Good Morning America team wanted a drone operator to help them transmit dynamic aerial pictures over a live link from remote locations as part of their Hidden Worlds feature.

DJI's Romeo Durscher prepares for take off in the spectacular Son Doong cave

DJI’s Romeo Durscher prepares for take-off in Vietnam’s spectacular Son Doong cave

Hang En cave

Hang En cave

The most recent segment was based in Vietnam, in a pair of caves: Hang En and Son Doong. The more accessible of the two, Hang Eng, was used as a production base, with expeditions into Son Doong to capture footage that would be played into the live broadcast. And although the scale of the caves is massive (Son Doong is 5km long and 200m high), getting into position was not straightforward. “In the beginning I thought we would never fit through the tiniest holes,” says Durscher over Skype. “You had to shove your backpack in front of you – it really wasn’t a hike in the park.”

Some of the kit the team used to shoot the GMA segment

Some of the kit the team used to shoot the GMA segment. Not shown: the drones still held up by customs.

Squeezing into Son Doong cave was a tight fit for kit and crew alike.

Squeezing into Son Doong cave was a tight fit for kit and crew alike.

Connecting a feed from the DJI drone to the ABC location unit.

Connecting a feed from the DJI drone to the ABC location unit.

Porters helped carry the crew’s substantial amount of gear, including the DJI Inspire 1 drones that Durscher and specialist drone pilot Ferdinand Wolf would fly in the caves. As well as claustrophobic access tunnels, the humid conditions posed an energy-sapping challenge. “You get to the destination where you want to fly,” says Durscher, “and all you want to do is lay down and catch your breath… and then the real work starts.” Unfortunately the production schedule didn’t allow for much lazing around and conditions were far from ideal for flying.

Drone pilot Ferdinand Wolf in the location charging area. And you thought you had a lot of batteries.

Pilot Ferdinand Wolf in the location charging area. And you thought you had a lot of batteries.

The ground was sandy and dusty and the air inside the caves was hot and humid – so much so that the drones were wet after each flight. Dolines, holes in the cave roof, allowed sunlight in during the day, providing spectacular views but also creating a microclimate complete with fog and thermals. “And needless to say,” continues Durscher, “because you are underground you have no GPS… so you fly in essence just by keeping your machine manually as straight as possible.”

Intense humidity left the Inspire 1 in need of careful maintenance after each flight.

Intense humidity left the Inspire 1 in need of careful maintenance after each flight.

The lack of access to a satellite uplink also meant that the live transmission had to be beamed back from the surface. A video village was set up in Hang En, using ABC’s standard outside broadcast setup with a very long cable to connect to to the satellite uplink site. In fact this setup was more straightforward than getting material back to base from the Son Doong cave complex – where the quickest way to transmit to the upload site was found to be getting porters to carry hard copies of the data on foot.

But after a two-week survey trip, gallons of sweat and a full dress rehearsal the night before the live broadcast, the team was confident they would be able to deliver. And then…

“A few minutes before the live event starts everything changed … the studio in New York gave us different directions, a big thundercloud went overhead and we lost communications. So we just had to be ready and up in the air. That was a little bit stressful.”

Of course during the segment itself there’s no way for the viewer at home to see any of the off-camera drama, just some truly spectacular imagery. “I am honestly still amazed we all pulled this off,” says Durscher, modest to a fault.

And although he’s now safely home in the US, one member of the team didn’t make it back: the Inspire 1 drone used in the broadcast was retired from flying and remained with a local DJI dealer in Vietnam where it’s currently on display to potential customers.

Drone-ing on: top tips for extreme flying from Romeo Durscher:

1. Survey the location: “Going there for the first time… flying in the cave and getting a feel for it really helped when we went back and did the production. No matter where you go it really pays off to do a site visit.”
2. Take care of your kit: “Clean up your machine after each flight and dry it off. We brought some cans of compressed air and that really helped to get the dust and the sand out.”
3. Small is beautiful (and easier) underground: “It’s easier to fly in a small cave rather than a large cave: in a big cave you lose perception immediately because everything is so massive and you have no idea how close you are to the side or to the ceiling.”
4. Division of labour: “I trained someone from the team to be a spotter… and during the live broadcast we had one person be the pilot and one person be the camera operator.”
5. Don’t try and go it alone: “Even though we have all this technology it really took a big team effort to pull this together, not only between ABC and DJI but on the local side we had wonderful help.”

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Posted on May 26th, 2015 by Elliot Smith | Category: Drones | Permalink | Comments (0)

A UAV expert’s opinion on the LILY self-piloting drone

Guest post by Helicopter Girls drone pilot Katya Nelhams-Wright

2015 is the year of the drone and Kickstarter is a great place to find startups offering the latest in drone technology, designed to help you capture your life from a new aerial perspective.

One new quadcopter that’s had a lot of media coverage recently is LILY. This was partly due to the slick marketing video suggesting LILY is simple enough that your granny could operate it; but the drone itself seems to have been nicely designed and has some interesting features.

A big plus is that it’s waterproof. This is quite rare with current quads and essential for action sports as it allows you to take off on snow or in water without worrying about moisture affecting the electronics. The tech spec claims the quad can be completely submerged in water so I’d think you could even take off in light rain or snow which would be great. Another interesting design decision is that LILY is flown by a dedicated app/wrist tracker so there’s no need to carry around a traditional remote controller, which keeps the whole system lightweight and portable. On the camera side the specs look pretty respectable and camera stabilisation is built in.

So I guess the big question is would I pre-order LILY? Based on what I have seen I would have to say no.

While it’s a fun concept, I’m not sure I think it’s a good idea to have a sky full of personal drones following their owners down a packed ski slope. Apart from the fact most countries have rules about flying even small drones near members of the public, with no avoidance or collision software in place LILY seems like a disaster waiting to happen. The info on the LILY app is limited at the moment but in the FAQs it says you can stop it in mid flight by touching the wrist tracker. However if you’re busy navigating your way down the slope you’re not looking behind you to see if your LILY is about to crash into a tree or hit a fellow snowboarder.

Secondly, LILY’s flight control system is just not robust enough yet as Guardian Journalist Sam Theilman found out when he had a live demo of the prototype.

LILY feels a long way from being ready to ship and the expected date of early 2016 feels pretty optimistic to get it flight tested for the consumer market. That timeframe gives larger, more established multi-rotor companies time to incorporate some of LILY’s features into their own systems which might mean you won’t actually want your pre-ordered copter by the time it’s finally in your hands. If it were my projects I would have kept my machine under wraps a little longer, waited until the flight controller worked better in a real life scenario and looked for more investment through venture capital rather than pre-sales.

About the author: Qualified drone pilot Katya Nelhams-Wright graduated in Documentary Film and Photography from Harvard University and has spent fifteen years shooting documentaries and factual television series as a producer/director. In 2009 Kat began building and flying drones and in 2011 co-founded Helicopter Girls, one of the first multi-rotor companies in the UK to operate drones for television and film. Recent projects include Detectorists, All Aboard! The Canal Trip in BBC 4’s Slow TV season and Mission Impossible 5 for Paramount Pictures.

Posted on May 25th, 2015 by Elliot Smith | Category: Uncategorized | Permalink | Comments (0)

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